AN: Gee, this one's old... I started it months ago. I don't even remember when I got the idea, might have been a year already... So, yeah, this is a friendship-FF between Naruto und Sasuke with shounen-ai undertones... at least, that's what it's supposed to be. Nothing explicit, though. Dedicated to Aysa because... well, I think I promised her, not so sure though... but she liked the idea, so now it's dedicated to her^^ And because I'd never have written this if she hadn't shown me the better points of their weird, ambigous relationship. About the title... it's a line from "blind" by Placebo. Okay then, enough ranting, enjoy!
If I could tear you from the ceiling...
"Well… here we go again, I guess." Naruto mutters. The shopping bag in his hand feels strangely heavy, as he stands in front of the gate leading to the Uchiha mansion. His hand is shaking slightly as he looks at the garden that used to be in front of the house.
Maybe he should start rebuilding it… planting a few things… just some flowers… anything that would at least give the impression that there is life inside.
During the last three months he has thought about this several times, but so far he has never done anything about it. A strange lethargy has taken over him.
Sighing, he opens the gate and walks towards the door.
The mansion is huge – his apartment isn't even a comparison. Still, it's always been home. Being busy with ninja academy and later missions, he never has noticed how small it has been – it has never mattered.
But this mansion… it is simply too big for only two people.
Finally, he arrives at the door and again, he hesitates.
What is this life he is leading? What is it for?
But no, it has been his decision. He could have left this task to Sakura – in fact, she was the first one to volunteer for it. But Naruto couldn't accept that. Sakura is needed. After Tsunade's death, she has to take over her master's work at the hospital. Sixth Hokage Kakashi has agreed and though he still regrets losing Naruto as an active Shinobi, he understands.
In a short flash of determination, Naruto opens the door and goes in.
"I'm home!" he announces loudly and closes the door. Relieved, he notices that he doesn't feel the usual shudder running down his spine as the silence inside is torn. But there is no reaction to his words.
Naruto frowns. He hasn't really expected Sasuke to answer, but still… he seems to become more silent with every day…
Carefully, Naruto puts down the shopping bag and takes off his shoes before he goes to the masters' bedroom which Sasuke lives in.
His steps seem to hallow as he walks down the floor. Pale light falls in through the window and he can see dust lying on the wood. Maybe he should start cleaning the mansion… this, too, would keep him busy and he could still have an eye on Sasuke…
He knocks at the door and enters without waiting for an answer – there never is one.
Sasuke is sitting cross-legged in front of the window, facing him – just the way Naruto has left him.
"Sasuke? I'm home." Naruto says carefully.
Naruto gulps as he sees his friend this helpless. He has gotten used to it, but it still hurts.
"Let me see that bandage…" Naruto says in a forced cheerful voice as he comes closer.
"I don't think that's necessary." Sasuke replies, his voice bare of any emotion.
"I promised Sakura-chan." Naruto insists. "Let me take it off."
A shrug, then Sasuke bows his head. Careful not to pull on a strand of Sasuke's black hair, Naruto opens the knot that holds the bandage in his place and starts to unwrap it. When it comes off, he tries to avoid staring at the empty eye sockets it has hidden.
"No blood today… that's good." he tries to cheer up Sasuke who has put a hand in front of his face. "I'll change it. Oh, damn… I forgot bringing a new one… Wait a second, Sasuke." Quickly, he goes into his own room. Strangely enough, the drawer he stores his Shinobi equipment in is already slightly open… again.
"Strange…" Naruto mutters. But when he looks in, nothing seems to be missing. The shuriken and his bag of kunai are still there, as well as a few scrolls, some bandages and an ointment that Sakura has brought over. He takes out the last two items and returns to Sasuke's room.
His friend is still sitting there, hiding his face with a hand. His expression is still as blank as it has been when Naruto has first entered the room.
"Sasuke, let me put on that ointment." Naruto says, carefully taking Sasuke's hand into his own and bringing it down. Now, he allows himself to fully look at the damage that monster Madara has caused. He has seen it often enough to not feel repulsed. All he feels is a burning rage at the one who has done this to Sasuke. Not even the fact that he has killed Madara with his bare hands can relieve this anger.
Softly, Naruto applies the ointment, wondering how it feels for Sasuke, who still shows no reaction.
"There you go…" he mutters when he is done. "Now the bandage…" His hands skilfully wrap the white cloth around Sasuke's head and he manages to smile sadly. Sasuke seems still helpless, but he has to be improving… right?
"How about lunch?" Naruto suggests.
Sasuke shrugs – the closest thing to "yes" that ever comes from him nowadays.
"I'll be back soon." Naruto assures him. "Just wait here. And when you need me – just call, I'll be with you at once."
Sasuke nods, but they both know that he won't call.
The kitchen is one of the few rooms that re constantly used. But like the rest of this place, it is simply too big. Even if he ignores the storing room, Naruto knows he will never buy enough food to fill every cupboard available. There is enough equipment to create the most complicated meal imaginable, but he never uses it.
On one of the counters, there is a book. Naruto avoids looking at it, but he knows he will never have the heart to just put it away. The book is a collection of recipes, each one noted in the fine writing that once belonged to Uchiha Mikoto. During the first weeks, he tried to cook what is written in this book. In fact, he spent hours just reading the book, the recipes, and most importantly the side notes Mikoto had written down, correcting the amount of ingredients needed, if someone not liked it, the favourite dishes of her sons…
Reading these devotion filled notes, Naruto realized that never having a mother to write things like this was painful enough – but to think that Sasuke had lost this mother… Suddenly, he had to force himself not to cry.
He chose one of Sasuke's favourite dishes to be his first attempt on real cooking. It was difficult, the first thing he produced went straight into the waste and the final result probably wasn't anything near the way it tasted when Mikoto cooked it… still, Naruto was content with it and proudly served it.
But again, no reaction came from Sasuke. He ate without saying a word or only showing a sign of recognition.
Of course, Naruto did not give up so easily. He has continued his efforts with meals Sasuke liked as a child, but even when he was sure he did everything correctly, Sasuke would never show any reaction.
Eventually, Naruto stopped consulting the book. Since then, their lunch has been Instant Ramen. It seemed such a brilliant idea at first… As much as Naruto loves the soup, Sasuke detests it. Surely, he would show some reaction?
It is the fifth week of ramen and even Naruto feels slightly sick as he pours the hot water over the noodles. Still, Sasuke has not complained – to him, it apparently makes no difference.
"Maybe he lost not only his sight but also his taste…" Naruto mutters but immediately scolds himself for these words.
Sighing, he puts the two bowls onto a tray and wants to return to Sasuke's room when he notices something strange. One of his kunai is lying on a counter near the door.
At once, his instincts are activated again. Is someone inside?
He tries to listen, tries to track someone with chakra… but no, nobody seems to be here except for himself and Sasuke. Maybe he is getting paranoid… probably he has put the kunai there himself and just forgotten about it.
He relaxes, takes the kunai and puts it into a pocket. Sasuke is waiting for the food, it is neither fair nor useful to stay put just because of a kunai lying at a place it should not be…
Oh, who is he trying to kid, anyway? Sasuke probably wouldn't even notice if he is kept waiting until tomorrow…
What is the point, really? Is this what he gave up his dream for?
He trained for so long, put so much effort into everything he did, only to bring his closest friend back. His goal was Sasuke, but it also brought him closer to become Hokage. He could take the Chuunin exam, become a Jounin, join ANBU, everything!
And what is he doing instead?
Pouring his heart into nursing that ungrateful bastard who doesn't even seem to recognize that he exists!
Naruto tries to keep tears of anger and despair out of his eyes. It isn't fair! He fought so long, so hard, always believing that he could realize nearly everything, if only he tried hard enough. He believed in the will of fire, the strength one could find in helping others, and so far, most things worked out.
He hasn't failed completely. Sasuke is back. Sasuke is alive! But it isn't fair that he alone has to suffer so much…
"Oh, get a grip on yourself…" Naruto hisses. "Whining won't help him."
So, finally he takes the tablet and brings the two bowls upstairs, where Sasuke is still waiting in the same position.
"Sorry it took so long." Naruto says, grinning apologetically, until he realizes that Sasuke won't notice the gesture. He puts the bowl in Sasukes hands and he brings it to his mouth to drink the soup, while Naruto eats as much of his ramen as possible.
It is cold already, just as he has expected. He looks up to Sasuke. Is there a shiver in his hands? No, probably not. Naruto finishes eating about the same time Sasuke finishes drinking the liquid. Just as usual, Naruto takes his chopsticks and starts feeding the remaining noodles to his friend. And just as usual, Sasuke doesn't show a reaction. A part of Naruto nearly hopes for him to choke on the noodles. Anything but this!
All violent thoughts disappear, however, when he sees Sasuke's opened mouth, waiting for the next bit of noodles, not knowing that the bowl is empty already. It reminds Naruto of baby birds and he smiles slightly. Gently, he puts two fingers under Sasuke's chin and closes his mouth. "I'm sorry, it's empty." he says softly.
Sasuke bows his head. "I see…" he mutters.
"Do you want anything else?" Naruto asks. "If you're still hungry, I can make some more."
Sasuke shakes his head, just as expected.
"Alright then… I'll do the dishes, I'm back in five minutes." Naruto says. He always feels insecure around Sasuke these days…
His friend simply nods, and with a sigh Naruto takes the bowls and leaves for the kitchen again.
When Naruto enters the room again, all monotony and lethargy built up during the last three months falls off and all Shinobi reflexes and instincts flare up again, when he sees Sasuke holding a kunai over his heart.
"Sasuke!" The familiar scream leaves his lips and he wants to jump forward, wrestle the weapon out of his friend's hand, demand an explanation…
But though blind, Sasuke is not deaf, and he is way too fast. Should Naruto come closer, he might just finish it.
"Sasuke, what the hell do you think you're doing?!" Naruto screams and tries to step closer silently.
"I can hear you." Sasuke says, and still, no emotion can be heard in his voice! "Stay there, Naruto."
Gritting his teeth, Naruto obeys. "Sasuke, what… what are you doing?" Naruto asks again, panic clutching at his heart.
"Isn't it obvious?" Sasuke asks, applying slightly more pressure onto the kunai so it scratches the pale skin on his chest, drawing a drop of blood.
"Why?!" Naruto shouts. This can't be happening, this is too bizarre to be real. Sasuke… suicidal?
But all internal protest is silenced by Sasuke's next words, spoken so softly that Naruto hardly hears them, and for the first time for ages, Naruto notices this dark voice betraying emotions… despair, bitterness, pain…
The most shocking thing is the sincerity these words are said with.
"Wh-what do you mean?" Naruto asks, his voice nearly breaking.
"Why should I not do it?" Sasuke repeats, controlling his emotions again. "I have nothing left. I killed my brother, only to realize he was innocent after all. I even served the man who destroyed everything, believing he'd give me justice or at least revenge… and when I realized that, I couldn't even stop him… I lost and became… this!"
"Sasuke, you made mistakes. But… everyone does, that doesn't mean you deserve to die!" Naruto protested.
"Then what am I supposed to live for?!" Sasuke shouts, anger becoming apparent, and Naruto can't imagine how he ever thought hearing any emotion, even negative ones, would be preferable to nothing…
"I have nothing left!" Sasuke continues. "Look at me! All I've ever learned to be, was being a Shinobi! I was among the best, and why?"
Naruto gulps, knowing the answer. "Sharingan…" he mutters. "But Sasuke, you're able to do other techniques and…"
"Inferior ones! My strength was my eyes, without them… it's too late! I lost everything, I can't become a shinobi again… it's over, don't you get it?"
"But… Sasuke… you can live for other things…" Naruto whispers.
"For what? For whom?" Sasuke replies dryly. "There's nothing left."
"You're wrong." Naruto says calmly.
"Even you are sick of me!" Sasuke shouts.
For a moment, Naruto is stunned, unable to reply. Finally, his voice returns long enough for a single word. "What?"
"I'm not stupid." Sasuke says, his voice breaking. "You shouldn't be here… you should rise in the ranks to become Hokage. You don't earn that title by playing nurse, you idiot! And what have you done for three months? Wasting your time holding my hand while I don't get better, because it's not possible to get better!"
"That's not true!" Naruto shouts, taking a step forward. "I'm not wasting my time!" Although the thought has been hard to avoid lately… "I've made a choice, I chose that you are more important to me than any title. Sasuke, you're my friend, you are the most-"
"Liar!" The word seems to echo inside the room and Naruto's heart seems close to bursting. He hardly notices the moisture in his eyes.
"Of course you're sick of this!" Sasuke hisses. "Who wouldn't? Just have the balls to say so!"
"I'm not sick of you!" Naruto protests. "What makes you say that?"
"Again, I'm not stupid." Sasuke says bitterly. "You show me enough, all the time… Cold soup… that's a new low."
"I was trying to get a reaction, for God's sake!" Naruto shouts at his friend. "I've put everything into taking care of you, and you don't even seem to notice… I just wanted to see anything! Any sign that you at least care about what I'm doing! But there was nothing – you just accepted it as-" He stops. "You… accepted…" he mutters. "You… you thought that in your state… you just have to accept whatever you're given… because you feel helpless… and worthless…"
Sasuke flinches and proves Naruto that his theory is right.
"But you're wrong…" he says, slowly coming closer while speaking in a soft voice. "Sasuke, you are not worthless, and you don't have to accept anything. You can talk to me, you know? You can insult me, you can try to hit me, you can just vent… I don't care. I won't give you up, do you understand?" Finally, he reaches his friend and goes onto his knees in front of him. "I promise, I won't leave. You don't have to be afraid of being alone. To me, you are not worthless. Okay?"
Sasuke's hand holding the kunai is shaking. "Why?" he whispers. "To give up your goal like that… for me… why?"
Naruto smiles, which Sasuke can't see, and he laughs, which Sasuke can hear and which confuses him even more.
"My goal…" Naruto says. "My goal is you, Sasuke. I wanted to be hokage to get respect from the people in Konoha. But… I already have that. I have friends, I'm respected… I don't need that anymore. You on the other hand… you've always been my motivation. Without you, I wouldn't be who I am now. Maybe I would have given up already… I don't know. But somehow, my goal has changed. I don't care about titles anymore. I want to help you. If you just let me…" Carefully, he takes the kunai out of Sasukes hand. He doesn't resist.
"You're not worthless, and you still have something to live for."
Sasuke is shaking, but now, Naruto isn't scared anymore, and he doesn't hesitate. He puts his arms around his friend and embraces him.
"I'll show you, Sasuke… I'll show you what to live for. I promise… it's a promise of a lifetime…" he whispers soothingly. And yes, now he remembers why any emotion is better than nothing, because emotion shows that his friend is not dead, and maybe, from now on, he might let Naruto show him why that is a good thing.
Sasuke can't cry, but sobs are shaking his body. He is a wreck, he is helpless, he is barely alive… barely – but alive, and as long as he lives, maybe he can get better…
Sasuke doesn't smile, maybe he can't, but he feels peaceful as he returns the embrace.