A/N: Angst. In second person. I think they (they being Team 7) are around eighteen-ish. A bittersweet ending. Linear is not a word in my vocabulary, thus, do not expect it much. I'm not sure if I like it, but it was bugging me.
"the leaves of memory seem to make
a mournful rustling in the dark."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
You kick the door open, forcing it to stay put with one foot while carrying groceries. Arms full of nondescript brown bags, you walk towards the kitchen, unloading your food onto the counter. While sorting vegetables and fruits, wondering where to put the tomatoes, you hear the soft sounds of a person walking towards the room, towards you.
She greets you happily, a sunny smile firmly in place. Her eyes are green and bright, her hair swinging in her face, pulled up and out of the way. When she moves to help you put away groceries, you let her.
"Nee, Sasuke-kun," says she, "how was your day?"
You nod with a single "Aa." It's all she needs, and she grins and goes back to her sorting, beginning to hum a simple little tune, something your own mother hummed, about spring and flowers, sunshine and rain.
Leaning back on the kitchen table, you watch her put away the food, and when she asks you questions, calls you "Sasuke-kun", you try to hide your flinch (it shouldn't be you, it shouldn't be you who sees her smiling and happy and receives her "Sasuke-kuns", it shouldn't be you who takes care of her and makes her laugh, dammit, it shouldn't be you).
Besides her own, yours is the only name she remembers, the only one she really knows.
You curse the persistence of memory.
When Tsunande-sama told you and your teammates (the pervert sensei and the loud best friend and the copy and you) about what had happened, it had been a sunny day.
You remembered that best—sunny, and clean, like the world had gone through a washing and come back brighter—because that was always her favorite kind of day, wasn't it.
You had been leaning against the wall, Kakashi-sensei had been seated across from you (and for once, that little orange book had been closed), Sai-the-copy was next to him, and Naruto was hunched over in a chair, staring at his hands. None of you wanted to talk—not to each other, not to anyone, not until you knew that she was fine, that everything would be okay, and you would have your sunny medic back among your number.
Tsunande-sama comes out of the hospital room, looks at the four of you in the hallway, and, with tears starting near the corners of her eyes, speaks quietly to you.
It had been a well-crafted poison, subtly attacking her brain and her memory, blurring faces and names and people together into one multi-colored swirl. She would still know basic things—how to read, how to cook, how to hold things, words and routines.
However, she was losing her memories of people as you spoke in the hospital hallway.
The Hokage says, softly, that there will be a cure ready in about two weeks, and until then, one of you will have to take care of her. You and Naruto look at each other, and in a moment of unexpected understanding, you know that the two of you will have to shoulder the burden the most.
The men of Team 7 ("her boys", you are uncomfortably reminded of as you walk inside) file in, leaning against walls and taking seats, you yourself leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed. She is sitting on a hospital bed, upright, her eyes big as she takes in these (please don't let them be) new faces.
Her eyes travel over Kakashi-sensei with no recognition, over Sai without a hint of remembrance. You hope as she looks at Naruto, because if anyone deserves her memory, he does, but her eyes are empty as they look at him.
Then she stares at you, and you watch her mouth open.
Her second day living in your house (house, not home, and she would chide you about the distinction if she could, "really, Sasuke-kun, you need a home"), she does laundry, and realizes something. You know this because she comes to you, a small frown on her face, her right holding one of her yukata, the left grasping a hakama that you recognize as your own.
You take a second to down the urge to flinch (why does she know you, why does she know you, she doesn't deserve to only know you) before you look up.
Stabbing a finger into the Uchiha fan on the back of your hakama, she presents the clothes to you. "If you live here, do you need this on the back of your clothes?"
You pause, considering your options and possible responses before deciding. "I suppose."
She smiles, and even though she seems really bright and a little too happy for you, you can't bring yourself to say "annoying" or "hn" or "aa"—you don't want to see her hurt, especially now, especially when you already feel so, so guilty for receiving all her smiles and happiness and recognition when others deserve it so much more than you.
The next day, you come home from some errands to find her quietly sewing in the living room. For a while, you watch her patiently embroider something with red and white thread, each stitch carefully measured and smooth. When she picks up the thing she was stitching, you see that it is one of her shirts that she sets down carefully before taking up another (a stitch here, a tied off thread there, careful, careful, she pricks herself and sucks the finger, careful, careful).
In the middle of the night, while she's sleeping, you go to the living room and look through the pile. Each piece of clothing is hers, you recognize, and as you turn them over and stare at the back, you see that she has stitched the Uchiha fan onto every single one.
You ease yourself outside the house and punch a tree until it is nothing but splinters that lodge themselves into dirt and trees, until you are panting and your knuckles are bleeding, crimson liquid dripping onto the ground and making rust-colored circles in the dirt.
In the morning, when she walks into the kitchen and you see the red and white on the back of her shirt, you say nothing.
It's always awkward when people come to visit.
Naruto comes every single day. It doesn't matter what he has to do, because Tsunande-sama always gives him a light mission, because she knows that neither of you are going to be leaving her here and alone any time soon.
Every day, he brings ramen, re-introduces himself, just to make sure, and the two of them talk. When you watch her hit him over the head, he grins and you smirk (because its just like old times, isn't it, just like the old days on their bridge near training, waiting for their perverted sensei to show up). He leaves around two o'clock, and every time, she smiles and says that "while he may be an idiot, Naruto-kun is pretty nice, nee, Sasuke-kun?" You swallow, and nod quietly, and something in the vicinity of where your heart is twinges.
On good days, she'll know his name the next day when he arrives.
Kakashi visits every other day, always reading that orange book. After she learns his name, she always shuts it, telling him that he's such a perv, and he does that stupid smirk of his under the mask, and asks how she is, and eats their food and cleans out the refrigerator because he's too lazy to go and buy his own groceries. Sometimes Sai-the-copy tags along and calls her hag, to which she bashes him over the head. During these visits, you sit and drink tea at the kitchen table, rubbing at a chipped spot, listening to their banter that is so close to normal.
When Ino drops by to see her, you leave the house.
(Never mind that it's your house, because she's a part of it now, and when you do your part of the laundry her clothes are in it, and washing the dishes takes twice as long because it's her plates and cups and cutlery too, and she now occupies the room across from yours, so you guess that you can say that it's her house as well.)
You know that you don't want to listen to their girl talk, when Ino tells her about Ino's life and Ino's friends, and her former life and her would be, but can't be (not quite yet) friends.
She always leaves at the same time you come in, and you both instinctively look at the calendar (it's just a few days, just a few days before we get the real her back, just a few stinking days before we have her again and she won't have to ask who people are.)
Every dinner, she asks about the people who visited—what they're like, who they were in relation to her, were they her friends, questions and questions until you think that your head is going to burst—but you don't stop her, because while you may be cool and collected and almost emotionless, you owe her that much.
You know you owe her a few nights of listening.
Your first mission after that day, you are with Naruto, and the two of you are reinforcement.
There was an almost breakthrough at the border, something involving Cloud-nin, and you feel some sort of poetic justice when you learn about it, because those are the bastards who poisoned her. Those are the people who took the real her away from you, and even though it's only a two week period before she is cured, it seems like forever for you, for her Team 7.
So when you and Naruto arrive, it isn't long before you strike.
The Cloud-nin are lazy, and their trail is easy to track for your blood-colored eyes. When you arrive at their camp, they are surprised, but that surprise is wiped off their faces when Naruto creates his doppelgangers and they attack without compunction, when you feel the rush of lightning strike them in their chests and stop them in their tracks. Soon enough, their blood is running down your hands, and revenge is sweet.
Their reinforcements arrive, and you and Naruto look at each other, both your eyes turning crimson.
You nod, and it is enough.
The Cloud-nin don't know what hit them. The attack is merciless, and you hear the Rasengan spinning, hear the chirping of your Chidori as you strike. Blood slips and slides as you continue in this dance macabre, as the two of you create your own abattoir in the woods (twist here, stab there, look behind you, copy that, impale, and here you cut, careful, don't slip in the blood).
When you are finished, there isn't a single Cloud-nin left. You feel the sting of cuts on your chest and face, and Naruto is bleeding a little, his eyes returning to their blue.
"We'll leave the bastards for the hunter-nin, then."
You nod again, and together you walk away, the forest blown to pieces, the stench of the dead filling your nose, tangible enough to choke upon.
Returning home to the manor, you see her, sitting by the window, the light on. When you come in, she gasps, and automatically begins healing you, her body remembering the careful precision needed.
"Why did you do it, Sasuke-kun?" She questions you quietly, her eyes narrowing in concentration, her hand casually sweeping her hair out of her face.
For you, you want to say, but the words die on their way out of your mouth, and lodge themselves in your throat.
It's been two weeks.
The two of you walk to the hospital, her eyes bright and happy, her clutching your arm, and you letting her. The walk is silent, the sky is cerulean blue, and there is hardly a cloud in sight. It is sunny—her favorite kind of day—but it won't last, because you can smell the rain coming in, can feel the lightning nearing you with every step you take.
Climbing up the steps to the hallway, you stand there as she reaches out to the handle, ready to open the door. But she stops, and you look at her.
"Will I…will I remember you? When it's done?"
You nod, say "Aa", and she smiles (that brilliant, sunny smile—and that is what healing looks like, and even though you want it, you know that you don't deserve it) and opens the door, stepping inside. You watch her leave quietly, your hands shoved into your pockets.
Turning, you walk away, out of the hospital, through the streets and back to the Uchiha manor, back to where she made herself a home. The smell of rain is stronger here, and as you walk towards the trees, sitting beneath one, you can hear the crackle of lightning and the boom of thunder.
You watch the universe collide above you, resulting in the flash and the boom and the pouring down of the rain to wash the world clean again, whitewash it and make it beautiful (and you decide to think that it's just for her).
Something wet travels down your face, leaving tracks that make your cheek feel colder than it did before, and something inside you mourns.
Please review the angst.