Sasuke owned a goldfish. Once.
It had a name. Once.
Sasuke did not know what the name was. He did not really care. He did not really like goldfish. At least he did not think he did. He was kind-of apathetic about the whole situation.
It belonged to his cousin. Well, one of his cousins. He was not sure which cousin. He did not really care which cousin it once belonged to or how it came to be in that cousin's possesion. However, it was the only member of his family, besides himself, that managed to survive Itachi.
That was how the goldfish and Sasuke came to meet.
When he woke up in the hospital after that horrible night it was sitting in a small, spherical bowl at his bedside, all bright orange and bubbly, swimming round and round in an eternal loop. Sasuke took one look at it, and came to three conclusions. The first was that the fish had too much energy this early in the morning. The second was that orange was not a good color, even for a fish. The third was that there was no way in hell he was going to keep a fish.
The doctors thought it would soothe him. They thought it would give him something to do, something to care for, something to take his mind off...things.
What could one do with a goldfish? It was a goldfish.
And it was stupid.
But he kept it.
At first, in the hospital, he fed it food and watched it swim as nervous doctors and visiting ninja asked questions like "How do you feel today Sasuke-kun?" and "Do you want to talk about anything Sasuke-kun?" or "Would you like to see some friends Sasuke-kun?"
Instead of answering them,he tried to teach the fish to jump.
But he and the goldfish apparently did not see eye to eye on appropriate trick signals. Or fish food just was not enough of an incentive for a goldfish to move its lazy little fins and actually pretend it had any intelligence.
And then, when he moved to an apartment, (because the Uchiha compound was too dark, too big, and too silent, even with a goldfish) he kept it on the table by the window.
One day he placed a picture of his genin team next to the bowl. The goldfish seemed especially fond of blowing bubbles at the dobe. Sasuke assumed it was because he was orange too, which made Sasuke wonder if goldfish could see color, which made Sasuke wonder at the idiocy of spending time thinking about the physical capabilities of goldfish.
The goldfish just burped a bubble at him.
And then, when Sasuke left for his first mission out of Konoha, he put extra food in the tank, turned off the lights, and walked out the door. But, they encountered some missing nin. And he had to save the his team mates from being killed. Several times. And they had to stay for that idiotic bridge to be finished (he secretly hoped it was destroyed somehow, preferably in an explosion, and would have to be rebuilt and renamed because not even a bridge deserved that name). And the mission went long. Too long. Because by the time he finally returned to Konoha, the goldfish was dead.
Sasuke spent a couple of minutes staring, unblinking, at the fish. It was floating at the top of the bowl, completely still for the first time in their, rather short, relationship. Then Sasuke took the bowl, flushed the fish down the toilet, washed the bowl with some soap, and put it back on the table next to the half-empty container of fish food.
He told himself he would get another fish someday. A better fish.
One that was not so stupid.
And then, Sasuke ran off to Sound. And he completely forgot about goldfish.
Years later, Sasuke came back. He was rather torn up, half-dead really, from a fight with Itachi and spent one month, three days, four hours, and twenty-seven minutes in the hospital. Not that he was sick for that long. That was how long it took Naruto to argue on his behalf (Naruto had been involved in the fight as well, but for completely different reasons) to the council and revoke Sasuke's status as a missing nin.
In the end, the council decided that arguing with Konoha's newest Hokage was not, perhaps, the best course of action to take when the Hokage was not above hiring genin teams on D rank missions to switch your shampoo with purple hair dye, to kidnap your wife's beloved cat, and to steal all your left shoes.
So, Sasuke was reinstated as a ninja of Konoha, and Naruto followed him, as he headed toward his old apartment, with the intention of helping Sasuke clean.
Sasuke clearly remembered that the last mission in which Naruto intended to clean, Kakashi-sensei had to pay their employers for three broken windows, two curtains, a cookie jar, a hair-dryer, and a new dachshund.
However, as Naruto followed him up the stairs to his old home, and they passed a glaring landlord (who Sasuke recalled as having more hair), and entered what was once his home, he did not say anything.
He continued not to say anything, as Naruto sneezed at the dust and whined about cobwebs and muttered about how "Teme owes me ramen after making me clean this mess"
Sasuke did not remind Naruto that Naruto had volunteered to help and Sasuke did not owe the dobe anything. And, if they did go get dinner later, it would not be ramen. Distracted by thoughts of what restaurants might still be in business after all these years, and whether or not he was ready to eat with familiar faces, Sasuke did not notice Naruto occupied at the window table.
Sasuke momentarily allowed part of his mind to indulge in the wonder that someone this loud had lived so long as a ninja before he turned, with an appropriately disapproving frown for Naruto's volume, to see what had captured the dobe's attention.
Naruto grinned at Sasuke's expression, sheepishly raising one hand to scratch his head while the other held out an empty, dusty fish bowl. "Eh…you had a fish?"
Sasuke looked at the bowl. He looked at Naruto. He raised his shoulders in a shrug, gave an affirmative grunt, and turned back to examine some old scrolls.
"Hey, wait a minute Teme! You had a fish!"
Sasuke was mentally debating if it was talent or sheer, dumb luck that had kept Naruto alive this long.
"I never figured you for a fish person…or an any type of pet person for that matter…I mean, you aren't even a people person, for cryin' out loud…"
Sasuke decided it was sheer dumb luck. It had to be.
The dobe had all the sheer dumb luck in the ninja world. All of it. Even his.
"Are you gonna answer?"
Sasuke consoled himself with the thought that at least he got all the talent.
"Hey you! Answer me!"
And the looks.
"Damn it, TEME!"
Sasuke twitched as something, a half-empty container of fish food upon later inspection, collided with his head. He looked at Naruto, and grimaced. "What, dobe?"
"You wouldn't answer me!" Naruto fidgeted in annoyance, arms crossed over his chest in an indication of his displeasure.
Sasuke sighed and picked up another scroll. "You didn't ask a question."
"Oh." Naruto's arms dropped to his sides as his blue eyes opened wide in momentary surprise. "Oops, sorry then." Naruto smiled in apology and fetched the fish food from across the room. "What I meant to ask was, what happened to it?"
Sasuke dropped an old scroll on fire jutsu into a bag on his bed. "Dobe. It was a fish."
"Well yeah! I just wondered what happened to it!" Naruto gave an exasperated snort as he put the fish food back in its original position.
Sasuke picked up the last scroll and tossed it in another bag. "Don't ask a question you already know the answer to. It was a stupid fish. Fish don't live that long."
Naruto snapped, a bit flustered, "I know that! I just…" Naruto trailed off, rubbing his head in irritation, fingers tugging at his vest (where on Earth had he found an orange jounin vest anyways?) while his words trailed off into silence and he examined a rather ugly stain in the carpet. Sasuke waited for a question, but Naruto just sighed, rolled his shoulders back and returned his attention to the window table.
Sasuke relaxed in the (for now) companionable quiet, and began to look through what was, apparently, a drawer of socks. Honestly, he did not remember owning socks. Must have been from that mission to Snow Country.
Noticing the lack of reply to his grunt, Sasuke tilted his head to see what the idiot was getting into now.
Naruto had picked up their old team picture, rubbed the dust off with an edge of his (hideously orange) vest, and placed it next to the empty fishbowl. One hand rested on the picture frame as he stood still, next to the table, simply looking.
Sasuke shifted slightly… something about the way the dobe looked at that moment unsettled him.
Perhaps it was his eyes.
Yes, that was it. In the light, or lack of it (no one had replaced the light bulbs in years), the dobe's eyes looked darker than usual. Dimmer. Almost lifeless.
Sasuke turned away and noticed his reflection in a mirror on the wall, studying, for the first time, one of his newest scars. This one was long and thin, and ran from his ear to his chin in a smooth, straight line. He secretly hoped it would deter his old fan club who, judging from the cards and chocolates and flowers present in the hospital room he awoke in, had not disbanded in the years he had been gone from Konoha. (Sakura said he would not be that lucky, the new scar just made him look less like a girl and more rugged and manly. Naruto only stopped laughing when Sasuke clubbed him on the head with a bright pink ceramic vase)
Naruto's tone brought Sasuke back to the present, to his apartment and the current dilemma with the sock drawer. Sasuke looked down in consternation at his offending socks. "What, dobe?"
"You gonna get a new fish?"
"No." Sasuke picked up a pair of socks and tugged them apart. Socks were usually white, right? Why was this pair yellow?
Naruto turned from the old team picture and, blinking, asked, "Why not?"
"I had one once. I don't need a new one. I don't want a new one." Sasuke decided he probably should not be touching the yellow socks and threw them back in the drawer, slamming it shut. It was not like any of these socks would fit him now anyway. He opened the next drawer.
Naruto gawked a bit and sat down, cross-legged, on the bed in the middle of the room. "Did you even like the fish?"
Sasuke noted in mild irritation that Naruto still had yet to clean anything. Well, other than that picture. Sasuke found an old shirt with the Uchiha symbol. He held it up. This would not fit either. Why was he even looking through this junk? None of it would be salvageable. He was thirteen when he left, damn it. He dropped the shirt in a trash bag.
"Sasuke!" Naruto whined from his position on Sasuke's old bed.
"Sure, I liked the fish fine okay! Now clean something!" Sasuke snapped at Naruto and pushed a rag into his face, which led to a brief tussle about a bottle of furniture polish, which, actually, was not applied to furniture as its contents ended up joining the carpet's collection of stains. Sasuke looked at the ceiling from where he lay on his back on the bed (he had kicked Naruto to the floor), slightly breathless (he really needed to start training again, stupid medic nins and hospitals). He wondered if it would be quicker to burn the apartment down and start completely over than to go through everything and wash away the years of dust and mold.
"Even if it was stupid?" Naruto voice came from somewhere on the left, no doubt he was now sprawling on the carpet.
Sasuke turned his head toward Naruto's voice, confused. "What?"
Naruto sat up and leaned on the bed, sitting on his knees on the floor and resting his elbows on the edge of the bed he leaned over and clarified his previous comment. "The fish. You still liked it, even if it was stupid?"
Sasuke watched him for a moment, noticing for the first time an angry scar that ran down Naruto's right hand, twined about his wrist and disappeared into the sleeve of his black shirt. He turned his attention to the ceiling. "Yeah." He paused for a moment, and then echoed Naruto's earlier words. "Even if it was stupid."
Squinting in the dark, Sasuke could make out the outline of an odd shape on the ceiling.
He smirked, "Hey, Naruto?"
"Do you think these fire detectors still work?"
Sasuke watched Naruto as Naruto's eyes went from Sasuke, to the ceiling, and back to Sasuke. Naruto grinned an eager, wide predatory grin (one that made Sasuke think that perhaps, Naruto's success wasn't all dumb luck) and said, "Only one way to find out!"
Much, much later, after dealing with angry ANBU guards (who had been given the slip on the way to Sasuke's apartment), reassuring balding landlords of reimbursement ("Hey, he should have replaced the fire detector batteries!" "Shut it, dobe."), a lecture from Iruka ("Hokage and former missing nin should not be involved in arson!"), an introduction between Sasuke and Sai (upon which Sasuke broke Sai's nose), a visit to Sakura (to heal Sai's nose, as well as a concussion she gave Naruto, but that was during the visit and entirely Naruto's fault in Sasuke's opinion), and twelve bowls of ramen ("Your treat Teme!" "…No."), Naruto turned toward Sasuke, adjusted the bandage around his own forehead, and grinned. "Welcome home, Teme."