Loko: I … do not have an obsession with blind Uchiha. There is no multipart plotbunny looming ominously in the background waiting to leap, for I deny both its name and its parentage. (Was a gift-fic for Chevira Lowe over at LJ.)
Summary: Itachi is dead. Orochimaru is indifferent. Sasuke is home and he's the same stupid bastard, except where he's changed.
Disclaimer: If Kishimoto-san is even this kind, I will weep with relief. (Somehow Sasuke's future in this series seems increasingly dark and abysmal. Is this merely the interminable fillers, or is this a shared feeling of doom?) All 'gypsy' Romanian herein is half-fudged and should not be taken seriously or as an offence.
trushalo odji? piav pani.
me mangav te jav ando granit za tumensa. a-ko isi pomo shinava tumen.
rohasar man opre pirend!
Naruto startles awake with a spark behind his eyelids and the uncomfortable sense that someone is in his apartment, but before he can even sit up, the stench of blood is copper-heavy on his tongue and a weight thuds against the side of his bed. Frantically, he thinks demons come at midnight and almost screams.
Something about the oppressive heaviness of that smell in the air and the oppressive heaviness of the silence that comes with it, punctuated by his own startled breath and the harsh scraping inhalations of the other – person, he supposes – makes him clamp his mouth shut and fake sleep.
He probes, very hesitantly, sends a tendril of chakra out and is viciously lashed by a wave of icy blue and fiery red, and even as he recoils and thinks ohshit I've blown my cover he almost recognises the taste and snap of the other's chakra.
There is a long, long pause, during which Naruto's hand under the covers creeps closer and closer to the kunai he keeps jammed between the wall and the mattress, and then suddenly a rasping sound that is barely a voice chokes out a word – through what sounds like blood in the throat and so much pain that even the vocal chords are clenched against it – and then it says it again, and Naruto recognises it as his own name.
"Naruto," It says. "Quit pretending. I know you're awake."
"Y – yeah?" Naruto says. "So? It smells like you're the one worse off --"
"I am," The person says, and the voice is so harsh and pain-roughed that Naruto can't quite make out – but he almost thinks – but no, that's crazy shit. "And after all these years you still suck at illusion."
Naruto freezes, because there are four people in the world who could possibly say that to him, and one of them is on a recon mission, one is sleeping off chakra drain from reviving dead fish, and one is out with an Academy field trip, which leaves – but crazy shit – but yeah, that even smells like the right blood, although Naruto doesn't question too deeply about how he knows that.
He opens his mouth again and nothing comes out. He tries again, and nothing. He thinks, genjutsu? genjutsu? what the hell kind of genjutsu? until it occurs to him that, from the sheer quantity of blood-metal-stink flooding his senses and the wildly flickering chakra signature, there's no way a genjutsu of that level could even happen.
So it's all him. He just can't speak, because – there have been dreams like this (with a little less blood) and the instant Naruto opens his mouth, he'll wake up and everything will dispel and there will be nothing left but cold emptiness and a clutching in his throat and chest that feels like he's just died.
He reaches out with his right hand, feeling blindly for the weight pressed against the mattress, and finds it to his own surprise. Oddly soft and as bizarrely gravity-defying as ever, only it can't be, crazy shit; Naruto's hand passes over the hair gently and then over to the forehead and then over the forehead, which is smooth except where his fingers catch on sticky trails of something he doesn't want to think too hard about. His fingers skid down the cold metal of a slipping hita-eate and then he can run his index along the bridge of a nose that's shaped just right and then his third and fourth fingers along a high cheekbone that arcs just so and then he has his hand cupping a cheek that's just the right size and the angle of the chin that leans very slightly into his palm (and that's happened in his dreams, too, only with much less blood) is just right but:
"This is crazy shit," He vocalises, tentative, and nothing disappears, and the face doesn't go, the – Sasuke, he forces himself to think. This is Sasuke's face and it's hopefully still attached to his body which is sitting and leaning against the side of my bed and he's actually fucking here.
"Yeah," The – Sasuke says.
"You're Sasuke," Naruto says, and blinks hard. When nothing disappears or warps and the "So far" comes in a mangled and torn voice but Sasuke's slightly mocking and too-young voice, not Orochimaru's, he pinches himself with the hand that had been kunai-bound, just for good measure. "Ow! Sasuke."
"Yeah," Sasuke says. "Still that slow?"
"Holy -- " Naruto makes to move his hand and sit up, but Sasuke's right hand grabs his and there is a distinct crunching sound that Naruto really doesn't want to think too hard about. "What the --"
"No light," Sasuke rasps. "Not yet. Hold on."
Sasuke's warm. This is a good sign.
Sasuke's blood is what's permeating the air of Naruto's bedroom so thoroughly that he won't be surprised if his potted plants turn out to be red in the morning. This is probably not.
"What's wrong with you?" Naruto demands. "How are you wounded?"
"Itachi's dead," Sasuke rasps, and Naruto stops abruptly and wonders why they both tense at the mere name. "He's dead. I watched him die. I mean – I killed him, I --" He trails off, audibly struggling with words.
"That's great and now you can come back to Konoha?" Naruto tries, and doesn't think it's quite right.
"He was blind, Naruto," And Sasuke's said his name again, and Sasuke's never said his name unless someone is about to die. "He was blind. And I said his name and when he turned to me, he couldn't even focus his Sharingan. So I killed him anyway. It was like – it was like – killing something pathetic. Something entirely defenceless."
Naruto doesn't comment on this, because he doesn't understand that concept, although he suspects that Sasuke might have even before Itachi, because Orochimaru – because.
"I suppose," And the gurgle in Sasuke's laugh sounds like maybe he shouldn't even be talking, let alone laughing, but Naruto shifts his hand very slightly so he can feel the rise and fall and tremble of Sasuke's throat in the sound, because it's been – it's been: actually Naruto has never heard Sasuke laugh when he's not laughing at him. "I understand now. What he meant when he said I wasn't even worth killing. Because he --"
"But he's dead," Naruto says, and doesn't understand how a genius like Sasuke can just not get it.
"… yeah," Sasuke says. "I buried him in Uchiha ground."
"You – you buried him," Naruto says. "Wait, you buried him in the Uchiha cemetery?"
"Yeah," Sasuke says. "Konohagakure needs better gatemen. New ones, I mean. By the way."
"New – teme!" Naruto snaps, and forgets that the boy who has his hand in a death grip (maybe literally, from the way Sasuke's bones don't feel quite right, a little misshaped and crisp around Naruto's wrist) has been his enemy for three years. Sasuke snorts, and it's guttural but maybe he's forgotten, too.
"He was blind," Sasuke says again, and sounds like he's in wonder. "Nii-san was blind."
Naruto's never heard Sasuke say "Nii-san," and he thinks it probably means something but doesn't know what, because he's really bad at that sort of thing. Briefly he thinks of Itachi and remembers the worst of them all arrives at the death of the day.
"So why are you here?" He says finally.
Sasuke is silent.
"Sasuke? What about the snake bastard?"
There is another long pause, and the Sasuke says, "There is no need to worry about Orochimaru any longer."
"What?" Naruto asks, hating the blank way his voice comes out but rather thoroughly confused. "What happened to 'I will have your beautiful body Sasuke-kun,' insert creepy laughter and psycho grins here, then-I-will-take-over-the-world Orochimaru?"
"He's the same as ever," Sasuke scoffs. "Well, unless he can't find another vessel, in which case Kabuto had better watch out, but no. I mean he's not going to concern himself with me."
"What?" Naruto says again, and really is lost.
"If he wants to get what he really wants," Sasuke says, and Naruto thinks it might be a mark of his increasing brilliance that he's made head or tail of that at all. "He'll have to steal Kakashi's body."
Naruto pauses, and reconsiders his self-compliment, because that last made no sense.
"Wait, Kakashi – what does sensei have to do with –"
"He wanted Nii-san's body first," Sasuke says ("Nii-san" again). "Then mine. And now the only way to get that is Kakashi."
Naruto pauses to think again, and then he wrenches his right hand out of Sasuke's grip, ignores the pained hiss, and fumbles the lamp on, a fear growing hard and cold in his chest.
Sasuke looks at him.
Sasuke turns his head to him, but a Konoha hita-eate – it's Naruto's, he recognises the stupid free ramen pass sticking out from behind the plate – is bound around his eyes, and – and – oh god – Naruto doesn't think, tries his damnedest not to think the blind will never forget the taste of your soul.
"Sasuke, your face is covered in blood," Naruto says dumbly, and it's an understatement because Sasuke's face is dripping with blood, literally, little droplets slipping off his chin and splashing dully into the black of his shirt below, and how did Naruto not realise that it isn't so much that Sasuke is warm but that his blood is? And Naruto's hands are – blood. Actually there's a puddle of blood around Sasuke, but there are probably other wounds because he fought Uchiha Scariest Fucking Eyes Ever Itachi, but – but – the blood on his face is stemming from two distinct places under the hita-eate and Sasuke has, he's – Sasuke's eyes are – Naruto doesn't want to think and doesn't want to do it but his hands are reaching out and he can see them shaking like he's four hundred years old.
He feels four hundred years old. This is too much, because Sasuke's eyes are bleeding as if they've been gou– but no. That's crazy shit ten times over and even more than Sasuke's simply being here at all. There's a reason. There's another reason. There has to be.
His fingers brush the hiteate and then Sasuke's hands are over his wrists again.
"No," Sasuke says. "You don't want to see."
"You," Naruto says. "What did you do to your eyes?"
"What do you think?" Sasuke laughs, and again the guttural sound (internal bleeding, Naruto thinks, and wonders why Sasuke didn't go to Sakura-chan). "I gouged them out."
Naruto's mind blanks.
"Gouged," Sasuke repeats, patiently and sounding like every word costs him a year of his life. Which it may well, in his condition, but Naruto can't think because Sasuke's saying: "Them. Out. Gone. Kunai, squish, pop. No more Sharingan."
"No more Sharingan," Naruto repeats dumbly, and stores Sasuke's grotesque sound effects into the part of his mind that makes him jolt awake in early night, shaking in sheer terror without remembering the dream.
"Except in Kakashi, and his is incomplete."
"No more Sharingan," Naruto says again.
"Yes," Sasuke says, and Naruto can just see him rolling his eyes, only Sasuke will never roll his eyes again because he doesn't fucking have eyes.
Naruto wants to know if Sasuke thought about the other eyes at all, the black-blue-grey ones that Naruto lo-- knew. Knew so well and knew better than his own bright blue in the mirror.
He can't make the words and supposes he doesn't have to ask. Sasuke's never really thought about stuff like that.
"Why," Naruto begins, and stops. "When – how --"
"When I buried Itachi," Sasuke says. "I always knew. I mean – Sharingan. It has to go, Naruto, it's not meant for people. It's a disguised curse. Our blood is poison, do you know? It's Byakugan tainted over and over again by patricide and matricide and fratricide and the endless killing of family by family and the marriage of blood in actual blood. That is Sharingan, that is how we stem from the Hyuuga. Eventually, do you know, we all go mad? We either lose Sharingan or we go mad?"
"But god," Naruto says, and moves his hand enough to press his palm along Sasuke's cheek, and maybe it's his imagination, but if he wants to think that Sasuke leans a little bit into it he damned well can under this kind of mental duress. Still the blood stinking up the place and still the red dripping off Sasuke's chin and still Sasuke mocking Naruto for being stupid when he can't help it.
"I knew before then. Well, no, when I was seven, when I first – even at twelve, I think, I still thought I could rebuild my clan, make a new family," Sasuke's mouth is liberally coated in crimson as if he's bleeding extra-hard to make up for the loss of something so red and the corners of it are twisted up in a way that means Sasuke is beating himself up as harshly as he knows how. And Uchiha Sasuke knows how to beat someone up. "Beyond the mere physical feat that would take, it's – Sharingan isn't something you pass on haphazardly. You shouldn't. I don't want to give it away at all; it's a curse, Kakashi can only --"
Something pings in Naruto's head that makes perfect sense now and couldn't have made sense two seconds ago for all the patient and exasperated and explaining Shikamarus in the world.
"You need medical help," Naruto says. "You need medic-nin. Let me get --"
Sasuke's laugh sounds like he's dying and Naruto wants to say Stop laughing, stupid, but then again it's Sasuke laughing; there's a law against regulating such terribly rare goods or something. "You think Konoha-nin will help me?"
"I'll get Sakura-chan, duh," Naruto says, and Sasuke shakes his head in a way that makes Naruto think maybe he should just knock the jerk out right now and save both of them the trouble of watching or feeling his pain.
"Naruto, I'm dying."
Naruto's mind is a blank again, and that's dangerous because that's how it was when he thought Sasuke'd died way back, ancient history back in Wave Country, and there are monsters that will fill the silence.
"I was at – you'll find this funny," Sasuke says, although Naruto doesn't know if he'll ever find anything funny again, after having Sasuke say I'm dying to him twice in just one lifetime. There should be a quota, and none is enough for him, thank you very much and hope you never visit again, and Naruto knows he's having one of those mental babble moments Sakura-chan lectures him about, but nothing Sasuke is saying is making sense except the part where Naruto's best friend is dying on his bedroom floor because he's gouged his own eyes out after killing his psycho brother.
"I killed Itachi and I brought him home to be buried in Uchiha soil," Sasuke says again. "So that – like a shame thing. Because we bleed our bad blood and then we take it back. And I had every intention of dying there too, and I left my eyes there --" Some part of Naruto is saying ew ew ew and some other part is saying can we put them back in? and a tiny irrational part is going man the caretaker's gonna be surprised! "—and Orochimaru will find them, he knows where I was planning to put Itachi. I thought I'd come home to die."
"But you didn't," Naruto says, and then as if the more he says it the longer it will remain true: "You're alive. You're not dead, you're here."
"For now," Sasuke says again. "Because I was standing in the Uchiha compounds and all I could think was this is not home and I came here."
"How the hell did you get here blind?" Naruto says, and then thinks That was a really stupid question.
"I grew up in Konoha too," Sasuke says. "It was like when Itachi first came for you. I moved and then I was here."
"Good, and now I'll call Sakura-chan," Naruto says, except Sasuke still has his wrists.
"Naruto," Sasuke says, and when he whispers he almost sounds like the old Sasuke and not this – this Sasuke who is not dying on Naruto's carpet, because Naruto still needs to promise him a messy death of his own for getting stains that will never come out into his carpet, only if he administers a messy death there will be more stains, and goddammit if his mind would just shut up maybe Sasuke would make sense. "Nothing has changed. I've still come home to die."
Naruto doesn't get this, and then suddenly he does.
Sasuke drops one of Naruto's wrists and then there is a kunai in his free hand – stupid show-off techniques that Naruto never really mastered – and presses the cold handle against Naruto's open palm. And Naruto knows that kunai are made of cheap steel, but the selfsame silver of their moon kills them.
"I'm going," Sasuke says. "And if I don't, I'm sorry to bloody your hands."
"Okay," Naruto says shakily and does not think about his hand wrapped instinctively around a kunai that is bare inches from Sasuke's heaving vermillion throat. "You just said sorry, who are you and what have you done with Sasuke-teme?"
Sasuke's choking painful laugh that makes Naruto want to kill himself, and then: "I grew up. Finally."
"No," Naruto says, because Sasuke needs to learn to fucking stop leaving Naruto behind. "No. No, we never fought fair! We still need to --"
"That was your promise," Sasuke says, but his mouth curls without humour. "I'm sorry to break your nindo."
"You're stupid," Naruto says.
"Yes," Sasuke says in a way that sounds like someone going unconscious, and Naruto is panicking starting from his heart (which has been KIA or has simply started beating so quickly that he can't tell if it's beating at all) and radiating in red-hot waves to his trembling fingers. "Probably."
"Who are you and," Naruto begins, weak and desperate, but the hand that's still on his wrist tightens just slightly and he shuts up. Sasuke's never been this effective at shutting him up before. Naruto thinks that the bastard should damned well be grateful for it.
"Naruto, I want you to know," And the rasp is not so much even a rasp as a gasp, breath in: Naruto I want, breath out: you to know, "That – I lived my life viciously – but my greatest regret – has always been--"
Naruto is off the bed and leaning in so close they might be kissing from certain angles. Sasuke's breath against his ear is almost cold and Naruto's soul is screaming.
"— leaving you," Sasuke shudders in and: "— at the Valley of the End." And out: "Always."
Then nothing, and nothing, and nothing.
Sakura-chan's hands are still hovering above the crimson-soaked hita-eate when Naruto feels the bloodied fingers twitch underneath his own and finally breathes, forcing himself to remember they become familiar in the dawn.
Across from him Kakashi-sensei releases Sakura-chan's shoulder at the same time Naruto does and shakes out his hand, visible eye crinkling slightly ruefully at the chakra drain. Naruto could flow his into Sakura-chan and Sasuke as long as they need and not ever feel it, but he does have an unfair advantage, and then Sasuke's throat moves and coughs and he's breathing on his own, raspy but whole, and Naruto forgets his entire train of thought.
Kakashi-sensei taps Sasuke's shoulder lightly and Sasuke flinches in surprise. "Kakashi?"
Sakura-chan's even healed his throat some, and Naruto spares a moment to be proud of her and another to think Ha, Sasuke, you can get strong in Konoha too, and then – what the hell, now they'll have forever – gives himself another to let his face stretch into what feels like his first smile in years.
"Welcome back, Sasuke," Kakashi-sensei says. And Naruto's never been able to read him before, but the slope of Kakashi's shoulders curves the barest bit around Sasuke's body – and, Naruto realises, around Sakura-chan's and his own, and his blood-soaked room is warm – and the tilt of his head is quiet and proud as Sasuke relaxes against the faint touch. "You're late."
Sasuke does not respond, but his mouth twists into something not quite a smile and not quite as bitter. His face angles so that he might be looking at Sakura-chan if he had eyes, and does not ask: "And Sakura, too."
"Sasuke-kun," Sakura-chan says, and her professionalism is visibly warring with her hysterical need to throw her arms around the dark creature under her hands, a body incongruously small for its strength and will. "You'll be okay. I've stopped the bleeding – you just need shock treatment and chakra circulation and you'll be fine – I mean, your eyes are gone, but I guess you know that, we can maybe –"
Sasuke shifts his arm, barely enough to be noticeable, but his forearm is pressed against her knee now and Sakura-chan falls silent. Naruto spares yet more of forever to be jealous that Sasuke has always been able to get to Sakura-chan without trying when Naruto can't for all the effort in the world, and concludes that he doesn't care anymore.
"Thank you," Sasuke says, and Sakura-chan releases a gulping sob and wraps her hands around Sasuke's free one and brings it to her face, resting her cheek against his knuckles – Naruto doesn't get this and it feels a little bit like there's something they're not telling him. But forever. Forever. If Naruto thinks it enough, maybe – and then: "I'm sorry."
"It doesn't matter, Sasuke-kun," She says. "It never has."
And it hasn't.
"Dobe," Sasuke says accusingly, turning to Naruto, and the hand in Naruto's tightens. With a sudden epiphany, Naruto realises that he doesn't care if Sasuke never calls him by his given name again. "I'm alive."
"Yeah," Naruto says, and tilts his chin even though Sasuke can't see it, because the bastard can hear it. "I told you, Sasuke-teme, we've got scores to settle."
Sasuke's mouth works, slipping between expressions until it settles on a crooked smile that Naruto doesn't quite understand, but feels somewhere deep and bright and exultant inside him.
i phuv kheldias; shav, chindilan? te aves. xa.
stanki nashti tshi arakenpe manusheb shai.
anda l thema
Nerdy Language Notes:
'patshiva': dances signifying the creation of, affirming of, and strengthening of bonds of friendship
'anda l thema': the land beyond
The two 'verses' are simply a collection of idioms arranged aesthetically. Symbolism hunts are ENDORSED!
a thirsty person? drink water.
i want to go to the border with you. maybe i can help you.
bury me standing! (As in: "Bury me standing. I have spent my life on my knees." – not that way. Probably.)
it is the wind who brought you.
the earth danced; boy, are you weary? i forgive you. eat.
mountains do not meet, but people do.
Please note the seven divisions for Team Seven, the full-100 wordcount, the nerdy language notes, make fun of my lameness and/or OCD accordingly, and concrit. As an author, this humble one will feel gratified. Especially that last, because authors + concrit potential to improve! (Cue shameless begging. :D;;)