Note on the timeline of Heart's Desire:
-Prologue and Part 1 are set pre-series, extending to just before Sasuke is assigned to Team 7.
-Part 2 is set during the Chuunin Exam.
-Part 3 is set just after Episode 107, Naruto and Sasuke's fight on the rooftop, after Naruto returns with Tsunade.
What ruinous tavern-shine
Is this that lights me far from worlds and wars
-Edwin Arlington Robinson
Sasuke was angry, so angry – the pattern of his life had been disrupted, and he felt that everything that he had been cautiously allowing himself to appreciate, to treasure, to hold close to himself - they had only seemed to be bright and beautiful and worth fighting for to his young Sharingan - and the veil had been ripped from his eyes by his brother's deadlier gaze.
How dare Naruto improve so quickly, how dare he presume to stand on equal footing as Sasuke? (He ignored the tiny voice inside of admiration, of eager challenge, of brotherhood) How dare Kakashi presume to advise him, to tell him to let go of his vengeance? (He felt no curiosity about his sensei's suffering, no respect for what the man had shown himself capable of, no response to the reaching out, he didn't, he didn't)
All that remained for him was Itachi, and the death he had been charged to bring him.
But somehow his wandering feet brought him to the Yong enclave, on the rooftop where he had so often watched them play. The older children were often busy with increasingly adult responsibilities, and new faces began to appear in the crowd, but in many ways the scene was as it had been many years ago – games and laughter and quick flares of temper, never anything that lasted beyond the sunset – children playing in their home.
Sasuke stiffened as a familiar figure moved lithely through the hard press of bodies in some intense ball-game. Her high clear laughter rang out as she trapped the white-and-black sphere between her feet and began to run towards the other end of the chalk-marked playing field. Other people flung themselves on her, trying to stop her progress, but she dodged them deftly – even the others with Konoha hitai-ate – and kicked the ball into a makeshift goal. She raised her arms in triumph, other children hugging her or slapping her back in approval, while the other team groaned and the audience applauded.
Tien, Jian's daughter, zhang-zhi and jie, older sister, or mei-mei, little sister, depending on the age of the one calling her – what they called her, here in her little empire-home, in words that outsiders didn't understand. Bun-head, the third on Team Gai, weapons-girl – that was what they called her outside, in Konoha, rough and quick and fighting names for a rough and quick and fighting kunoichi.
But somehow Sasuke watched her, watched as she knelt beside a younger child wailing over a scraped knee, watched as she smiled at another girl who waved at her, and he let himself shape a very quiet, very secret, very small wish in the back of his mind.
He wanted to share what she had. He wanted to be able to be there, with her and the others, not just watching from above, apart, alone.
He wanted to be able to call her his.
Later, when the Sound's elite Four came, offering power and position at Orochimaru's side, he found it in him to refuse. Not when he had Naruto to defeat, to push him to greater heights - and to be right alongside the whole while. Not when he had Kakashi who understood what it was like, Kakashi who had eyes like his.
Not when he had something he wanted so much in Konoha.
That's it! And now we delve into the realms of AU. Sequel to be written once I'm done with my other projects - one NejiTen and two other SasuTen. Yes, that's right, I'm as surprised as you are: SasuTen outnumbering my more-canon OTP?