Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.
By Nanaki Lioness
Sasuke stared at Naruto, mind racing, falling to his knees without even realizing.
"He was killed about a year ago."
"You understand why we're both going to visit Tsunade-sama now, Sasuke? She's a doctor. She can help you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sasuke asked, an edge to his voice as he realized what Naruto was implying.
"I mean you're crazy, you idiot."
Sasuke curled his fists in anger and tried to stand.
Only, he couldn't. He looked around, confused, eyes finally falling to the floor when all other options exhausted themselves. There was a long, thin shadow attached to his own, and that only meant one thing…
"Shikamaru," he said quietly.
Shikamaru stepped into the doorway, looking tired and fed up.
"Naruto dragged me along in case you were uncooperative," he sighed.
"Let me go," Sasuke ordered.
Shikamaru shook his head.
"I said let me go."
Shikamaru responded by starting to leave, leaving Sasuke no choice but to mimic him and follow.
Naruto collected the pieces of Sasuke's front door together sheepishly and followed them.
"Why did you kick my door down?" Sasuke queried wearily.
"Because you wouldn't open it?"
"You barely gave me a chance."
"I didn't want you to run off again, anyway."
They walked along in silence for a while, Sasuke letting himself be led by Shikamaru's jutsu. He was tired.
I wonder if Itachi's actually dead…
Why does that thought make me sad?
"No-one told you Itachi was dead?" Naruto asked, as if reading his mind.
"No. I guess no-one wanted to bring it up with me."
"Did… Did Jiraiya tell you how he died?"
Naruto shook his head. "No."
"You sound sad, Sasuke. I thought you wanted him dead?"
"I did. I do…"
But he's still my big brother…
Tsunade looked tired and angry, Sasuke noted uneasily, as she answered the door to Naruto's insistent knocking. Clad in a dressing gown and fluffy slippers, she certainly didn't look pleased with her late-night visitors.
"What is it, Naruto?" She snapped.
"Sasuke has something to tell you."
Tsunade glanced at Sasuke, who looked so tired and worn she thought he might fall over. Kakashi had warned her there was something going on, but that the boy wasn't talking.
"Come in, then."
She noticed Sasuke was being led by Shikamaru's jutsu, and frowned.
"Could Sasuke not walk here by himself to talk to me?"
"I wish," Shikamaru muttered, yawning.
"He wouldn't have come. We had to force him," Naruto explained.
Tsunade rolled her eyes.
"Tsunade-sama, it's true Itachi is dead, right?"
Tsunade eyes him suspiciously. "Who told you that?"
Tsunade glanced at Sasuke, then glared at Naruto.
"Yes, it's true."
Sasuke paled considerably.
"What is it, Sasuke?"
You're crazy, Sasuke-chan.
Crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy-
"Shut up!" He snapped.
He realized his mistake as three pairs of eyes landed on him, looking confused.
"I know you insist on being rude to everyone else, but you will not speak to me like that," Tsunade snapped angrily, marching over to Sasuke. Shikamaru wisely broke the jutsu as Tsunade grabbed Sasuke by his shirt and lifted him easily.
"No!" Sasuke shook his head, struggling against Tsunade's iron grip. "I…"
"…I wasn't talking to you."
Tsunade dropped him to the floor easily, still looking unimpressed.
"'I wasn't talking to you, Hokage-sama'," she corrected, still disbelieving him.
Sasuke stared at her.
"It won't kill you to be polite," she said sharply, prompting him.
"I wasn't talking to you, Hokage-sama," Sasuke muttered, not meeting her gaze.
"So who were you speaking to, hmm?"
"I… see. When was the last time you slept, Sasuke? You look tired."
She looked him up and down again as he picked himself up from the floor.
"Tired is an understatement, actually. A day? Two days? A week?"
"A couple of days, I guess."
"It shows. You look like hell. Why haven't you been sleeping?"
Sasuke glanced over at Shikamaru and Naruto, clearly uncomfortable with discussing his personal life with them around.
"I'm going, don't worry," Shikamaru yawned again, stretching. "Later."
He let himself out, figuring his work was done. If Sasuke was stupid enough to try and run from Tsunade, she'd soon put a stop to that.
"I'm not going anywhere," Naruto said stubbornly, seating himself at Tsunade's table.
"Stubborn ass," Sasuke snapped at him.
"Says the guy who talks to himself."
Tsunade grabbed Sasuke's arm as he raised it and made to walk over to Naruto. Sasuke cried out, not expecting the strength of her grip.
"Answer the question," Tsunade ground out through gritted teeth, her patience clearly being tried.
"I-I have nightmares," Sasuke answered quickly, holding his wrist and wincing as Tsunade let it go.
"Nightmares about your family, correct?"
"So you stopped yourself sleeping to combat the nightmares, and as a result, you've started talking to yourself?"
He tailed off, unable to formulate 'I saw and spoke with a dead man' into a sentence that sounded anywhere near sane.
"I saw Itachi. And spoke with him."
"Right. Are you sure you weren't dreaming? Maybe you fell asleep for a little?"
"I thought that."
"I heard you talking, Sasuke," Naruto interjected.
"Sleep talking?" Sasuke countered, but his sheepish look gave away to Tsunade that that was unlikely.
"So since you've been depriving yourself of sleep, you've been seeing and hearing things?"
Sasuke wanted to answer 'yes', but the glare Naruto was giving him made him think twice.
"…No. I saw him before."
"When? Before you started the sleep deprivation?"
"It was another reason I started. I wanted to make sure he didn't come whilst I was asleep."
"I'm going to guess you broke your window because you saw him there, then."
"You know about that?"
"Kakashi told me."
"…Yes. That was the first time."
"Anything else you've seen or heard?"
Sasuke glanced at Naruto again. Naruto looked back.
"Do you have to stay there?" Sasuke snapped at him.
"Ignore him," Tsunade instructed.
Sasuke didn't protest any further.
"I saw blood on the handle of a door. And there's a voice in my head…"
"This is the voice you were telling to shut up, I presume?"
"Yes. It's… spiteful."
"Describe it to me."
"It calls me 'Sasuke-chan'… And it patronizes me all the time. It's not my voice, it's a voice I don't recognize."
"When did you first start hearing this voice?"
"The same day I saw Itachi."
"And the blood?"
"The same day."
"How were you sleeping then?"
"Like I usually do. I'd had about six hours or so before being woken by nightmares."
"But that's usual, yes?"
"Six hours isn't enough."
"It's what I usually get."
"That doesn't make it enough."
Tsunade sat at the table opposite Naruto, beckoning to Sasuke to join. He did so, reluctantly sitting next to Naruto.
"We're dealing with one of two things here, Sasuke. Either extreme sleep deprivation, or the early onset of schizophrenia."
Sasuke laid his head in his arms at that.
"No going to sleep yet!" Tsunade barked.
Sasuke pulled his head up slightly.
"I'm not going to."
"Then sit up."
Sasuke did so, looking frustrated and tired.
"How long did you say you'd been awake? Two days?"
"Right. I'm going to run a little test, Sasuke. Naruto here is going to help."
"I'm going to keep you awake another two days."
Sasuke's blood ran cold.
"You heard me."
"I need to rule out sleep deprivation."
"Then why not let me sleep and see how I react when I'm rested? Surely if I… Well, you know… After sleep, you'll have ruled it out?"
"I need to take note of how you react without sleep, since I haven't witnessed it myself."
"I'm not going to be able to do that!"
"You're going to have to," Tsunade reasoned with a shrug. "You're going to stay here, and so is Naruto, and don't even dare think about escaping."
The look Tsunade gave him showed she meant business, and Sasuke shook his head rapidly at her to indicate he wasn't going to try.
"For now, Naruto's going to keep you awake while I work on something that can keep you awake without anyone needing to intervene."
"A coffee IV?" Naruto snickered.
"You're enjoying this," Sasuke muttered. "You're sadistic."
"And you're an asshole. Of course I'm enjoying it."
Tsunade got up from the table, deep in thought and heading into a back room.
"Naruto, I'm trusting you," she called over her shoulder.
Sasuke glared at her back.
"I don't see how this is going to help," he muttered.
"Do you really want to see dead people and hear voices?" Naruto asked.
"Of course not!"
"Then go along with what she says, and she'll have an answer for you."
"And if she doesn't?"
Naruto grinned. "You underestimate Tsunade-sama."
Can sleep deprivation really do this to a person?
Sasuke stared into nothingness, occasionally batting Naruto's hand away from his face as he waved it there.
"I hope you're not trying to sleep on me, here."
"For the millionth time, I'm not. I'm just thinking."
"About what kind of crazy you are?"
Sasuke restrained himself from smacking the blond senseless.
"This isn't funny."
He laid his arms on the table, suppressing a yawn.
Oh dear, Sasuke-chan. I suppose I'll just have to keep your mind awake for you?
"Sasuke, stop answering yourself."
Sasuke blushed slightly, unaware he had spoken his thought.
"What does it say?"
Naruto looked at him enquiringly.
"What does it say to you?"
Sasuke shrugged. "It generally just patronizes me"
Silence reigned, and Naruto realized his friend wasn't going to elaborate further.
Sasuke laid his head in his arms, ignoring Naruto poking him in the ribs to get him to sit up again.
"Don't do that, Sasuke, you'll just make it worse."
"I hope Tsunade's plan to 'help keep me awake' doesn't involve you poking me in the ribs for two days straight," Sasuke lamented, bringing his head out of his arms and swiping at Naruto. "That's enough to drive any sane person crazy."
Almost as if on call, Tsunade re-entered the room, with Shizune in tow this time.
"I have two options," she said, sitting at the table and slamming some papers down. "Either I come up with a device that shocks you at intervals, but at a safe level so it doesn't harm you, or we put a seal on the part of your brain that activates sleep."
"Yes. It's looking the more approachable of the two options. I'll need to speak to Hyuuga Hiashi in the morning."
"Until then- Naruto? Will you be alright keeping an eye on him for a few hours? Shizune can take over then, and I'll take over early morning."
Naruto nodded. Sasuke looked skyward in silent prayer.
"I know this will be hard on you, Sasuke," Tsunade said quietly. "But this isn't normal, and I need to make this better again. We can't have otherwise healthy ninja being held back by mental conditions."
Sasuke sighed heavily, declining to answer.
"I'm going to set you up a room to stay in. I won't tease you by putting a bed into it."
The next morning, Sasuke was sitting on the carpeted floor of Tsunade's guest room, staring at a lone crack that twisted up the wall in front of him. Anything to avoid Tsunade's scrutinizing gaze.
"Have you seen or heard anything tonight?"
"Just the voice."
"I'm expecting Hiashi anytime around now."
"It's your own fault for lacking the willpower to stay awake yourself."
"For four days?" Sasuke snapped. "Most people wouldn't have such 'willpower', Hokage-sama."
"You're a spiteful little bitch, aren't you?" Tsunade said bluntly. "I should turn you out right now and refuse to help you."
They were interrupted by a knock at the door, admitting Shizune and Hiashi.
"Hiashi," Tsunade nodded, standing up. "I trust Shizune has filled you in on the needed details?"
"She has," Hiashi answered, looking down at Sasuke. "It will be difficult. You'll need to sedate him."
"Up you get," Tsunade gestured. Sasuke stood, clutching against the wall for support. "I can't sedate him. He needs to stay awake."
"Then it will be even more difficult."
Tsunade sighed. "I wish there were so other way to deal with this, but this is the safest. You will be able to reverse the seal in two days time, right?"
"Then so be it. Come, Sasuke."
Tsunade knelt on the floor, indicating for Sasuke to sit before her. Hiashi sat by her side, and Shizune left the room, closing the door gently behind her.
Sasuke reluctantly knelt down, removing his forehead protector and holding his bangs back with one hand.
Hiashi placed a hand on his forehead, nudging Sasuke's own hand away. Sasuke winced- his hand was colder than he had been expecting.
"I apologize for any pain or discomfort," he warned, and closed his eyes in concentration.
Sasuke gritted his teeth at the sensation that coursed through him- it wasn't painful as such, it just felt… Invasive. Like something was crawling around inside his mind, occasionally gnawing at his senses.
And then pain. He hadn't been expecting it, and it hit him, hard. Hiashi was making the seal, barely flinching as Sasuke shuddered violently beneath his touch.
Sasuke didn't notice the door fly open, and Naruto come stampeding into the room, demanding to know if he was alright. Tsunade calmed him down, and berated him for listening outside the door. Yet Sasuke was oblivious to this- he just felt pain, and nothing else.
Hiashi pulled his hand away, opening his eyes and nodding in satisfaction at the seal he had made. Sasuke raised a hand to his forehead, still shaking, not even noticing tears of pain collected within his eyes. He blinked, sending them falling down his cheeks.
Naruto knelt in front of him, looking worried.
"What did you just do to him?" He asked of Hiashi.
Hiashi stood up, nodding at Tsunade. "I sealed the part of his brain that allows sleep. Every time it detects him falling asleep, it will knock him awake again."
"It's necessary, Naruto," Tsunade said grimly.
"I could have watched him to make sure he was staying awake!" Naruto protested.
"And how stringent would you be with him, Naruto? When he's begging you and pleading with you for 'just five minutes?' I doubt you're that heartless, and I wouldn't ask you to be in that position."
Naruto fell silent, eyes falling back on Sasuke. He was still shaking.
"Will he be alright?"
"He'll be fine," Hiashi reassured.
"Thank you, Hiashi," Tsunade said quietly, eyes on Sasuke.
"It's alright, Hokage-sama. I will see myself out. Let me know if anything… Unexpected happens."
"Will it?!" Naruto demanded.
"It's unlikely. But… Just in case."
With that, he left, Tsunade right behind him muttering about painkillers. She pulled the door closed, leaving Naruto with Sasuke.
"Well… I guess a dose of pain is enough to keep you awake for now, hmm?" He joked nervously, unsure of what to do or say. Sasuke was curled up, hiding his face in his knees.
Surprisingly, he pulled his head up and smiled very weakly at Naruto. Naruto winced at the prominent seal on his forehead, similar to the one on Neji's head. He grabbed Sasuke's forehead protector from the floor and offered it to his friend.
"It looks that bad?" Sasuke said weakly, taking it. He dried tears from his cheeks and tied the protector back on, wincing slightly.
"I just thought you might want it!" Naruto snapped.
Sasuke shrugged, looking up as the door opened. Tsunade re-entered with a glass of water and some pills.
"Non-drowsy painkillers," she explained, handing both to Sasuke. "One dose should be enough. I have important things to deal with right now, but I'll be coming in from time to time to check on you and make notes of what you're seeing and hearing, if anything. Shizune will see that you're comfortable. Stay in here. I want to keep you in one place as much as possible."
"Naruto, you don't have to stay."
"I want to."
"Does Sasuke want you to?"
Naruto glanced at Sasuke, expecting him to say no.
Sasuke only shrugged- the closest to a 'yes' or an 'I don't care' he was going to give.
"If he starts bugging you, feel free to kick him out," Tsunade warned. "The 3rd and 4th days of sleep deprivation are supposed to provoke psychosis and hallucinations, so if you're going to have any more, today or tomorrow is the most likely."
"And if I don't?"
"We'll see how it goes," Tsunade supplied, picking up the empty glass and heading for the door.
"Easy for you to say," Sasuke snapped at her retreating back.
Tsunade spun around. "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," she said evenly. "But one more negative comment from you and I'm turning your ass out onto the street, along with that seal."
She slammed the door behind her, leaving Sasuke glaring at the space where she'd just been.
"I'd listen to her," Naruto said quietly. "She's the type of person to carry out her threats."
Sasuke sighed, putting his head into his knees. "Shut up, Naruto."
Note: Crazy Sasuke is remarkably fun to write XD