Pairing: Naruto/femme!Sasuke (yeah, you read that right)
1. Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
2. If This Is A Man belongs to Primo Levi.
3. Social Amnesia: A Critique of Contemporary Psychology was written by Russell Jacoby.
4. The lyrics at the end are from Mayday Parade's If You Wanted A Song Written About You, All You Had To Do Was Ask. Brilliant song. You should go listen to it.
So like, this was originally meant for some bootcamp thing for ohwhatsherface. Her prompts were, "Would you mind if I sat next to you and watched you smile?" and 'your mom'-jokes. I could pick any pairing I wanted to, and I had been dying to write a Naruto/femme!Sasuke fic for the longest time, because THE PAIRING IS SO BEAUTIFUL, NO?
Many thanks to annieberry for telling me to post this and helping me tweak out bits and pieces. And of course, to Wikipedia, for always being reliable.
"Would you mind if I sat next to you and watched you smile?"
Sasuke looked up from her book (Primo Levi's If This Is A Man), and quirked an eyebrow at the boy in front of her that dared to interrupt her reading. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and with strange scars running across his face, it wasn't hard to figure out who he was. Uzumaki Naruto, she recalled. She'd never spoken to him before, but according to local high-school gossip, the boy had anterograde amnesia. Whatever that was. Sasuke didn't know and really couldn't care less. What she did care about, however, was getting back to her novel.
"Yes, I would," she said curtly. She looked down at her book and memorised the page number before closing it gently, having nothing to use as a marker. Bookmarks were just a waste of resources, anyway. Plus, they could spoil the spine of a book over time.
"Oh, okay, then," Naruto said. "It's just that—well, you're really pretty, and I thought—"
"I don't smile, anyway," Sasuke cut him off. "Go find someone else to creep around and watch. Please," she added as an afterthought. Her parents had raised her to be a polite, young woman, after all.
The blond laughed good-naturedly, and scratched the back of his head. Sasuke studied him quietly. Shame about those scars, really. They made him stand out even more. He'd never be able to fit in with them and his… disorder, which was probably why he was always shunned by their classmates. After all, being a freak was contagious at their school. Not that Sasuke cared what anyone else thought.
"Well, there's not really anyone I can sit with," he said honestly, shrugging. "I mean, I don't think I've done anything bad to any of them, so I don't really know why, but then again, I have a really bad memory. Like, my mom fusses over me all the time because of it. It's kind of embarrassing sometimes. There was this one time when—"
"You're babbling," Sasuke said listlessly, tapping her foot on the library's wooden floor impatiently. She really wanted to know what happened to Primo Levi's partner after the German orderlies had taken him away to the other side of Auschwitz, and she thought that by closing it and looking impatient, she could get the blond to leave her alone quicker. That obviously didn't work.
Naruto grinned. "Sorry, I tend to do that. Anyway, I noticed that you weren't sitting with anyone, and like, the library's pretty crowded, so you're bound to know a few people in here right? I mean, you've gotta have a lot of friends, seeing as you're really, really pretty, but since you were all on your own, I thought I'd come over and sit with you."
Sasuke blinked bemusedly. How much stranger could this boy get?
"Your charity is very much appreciated. And I don't do friends. Now can you please—?"
"Why not? Do they like, not talk to you or something?"
Sasuke looked over her shoulder. The librarian had just stood up from her seat and was berating two male students a couple of tables down for making loud, obnoxious, "your mom"-jokes in what was clearly a quiet, studious environment. The two boys, sniggering, merely nodded at the old woman, before packing their bags and heading off. Once they were outside the entrance of the library, Sasuke could hear them burst into laughter and shout obscenities at each other as they ran off.
"I don't see why I should waste my time on the morons that attend this school," she said, pursing her lips. "Speaking of wasting time—"
"Oh yeah, how rude of me!" Naruto reached forward and grabbed Sasuke's hand, completely taking her by surprise, and shook it. "My name's Naruto. What's yours?"
Sasuke frowned at the hand grasping hers (that was the second time he had interrupted her), and looked up at the brazen boy. Even though they hadn't spoken before, she couldn't believe he didn't know who she was. Everyone knew who she was. Even the freshmen, after a couple of weeks, knew her name at least, and this guy had been in the same class as her for four years. She was the anti-social loner that spent half of her lunch breaks in the library, and the other half sitting in a corner of the cafeteria, chunky headphones covering a large portion of her head, music blasting at full volume. She was always openly reprimanded by their teachers (except for their Math teacher, Kakashi-sensei, who never really bothered with her anymore) for never doing her work during class, yet come exam time, she always got the top grades in their year. Her brother had been a legend at the school, for goodness sake, how could this boy not know who she was?
Oh well. Nothing for it.
"Uchiha Sasuke," she muttered, humouring him. Her hand remained limp in his.
"Sasuke," Naruto said, smiling, tasting the name on his tongue. "That's a pretty name. It suits you. Well then, I guess I'll see you around, Sasuke."
He let go of her hand, and with a wave, he was off.
Sasuke stared after him, and curled her hand into a fist. His warmth was fading fast.
She looked down at her book, and flipped it open to page one hundred and thirty eight, reading from the top.
The only thing she saw though, was his smile.
She blinked when she realised that she had been reading the same line over and over again for three minutes, and shut her book in annoyance. She pushed it away from her, and began tapping the desk with her index finger impatiently, surveying the room in front of her.
Actually, whole finger-tapping wasn't really working. She was getting some odd looks, and her fingernail was beginning to ache after repeatedly being hit on the hard, wooden surface. Sasuke got up and walked over to the librarian's desk, waiting patiently as the woman gave out instructions to someone over the phone. Something about book orders. Sasuke wasn't really paying much attention.
When she put the phone back on its cradle and looked at Sasuke expectantly, the girl asked where the books on psychological disorders were shelved.
After being given the shelf number, Sasuke made her way to the opposite end of the library, to shelf B207, and spent a moment sifting through book titles before choosing one called Social Amnesia: A Critique of Contemporary Psychology byRussell Jacoby and returning to her seat.
An hour later, Sasuke closed the book and returned it to its shelf.
It was getting late.
Sasuke stared at her ceiling and sighed. Sleep was still a long way off, and counting sheep was a waste of time and brain-cells. Maybe she shouldn't have stopped taking those sleeping pills—
Naruto's face floated into her thoughts. Sasuke let out a huff of annoyance and turned on her side. This was the sixth time this evening. She closed her eyes, trying to process what had happened earlier that day, so she could let go of it.
From what she had learned, anterograde amnesia was a form of memory loss, where those afflicted had some form of damage to their hippocampus, the part of the brain that played a major role in short term memory and spatial navigation. In most cases of anterograde amnesia, patients lost their declarative memory—the recollection of facts—but they retain non-declarative memory. That would be how Naruto was able to find his way to the library in the first place and know how to talk to Sasuke, but not be able to recall her name despite having come across it at least once before.
That explained a lot. Like how he didn't recall why everyone shunned him so, or the fact that his mother was constantly worried about him. Like why he didn't know who Sasuke was.
Sasuke stared at the desk in the corner of her room and wondered what it was like, not being able to remember most of one's life. To forget everyone except those closest to one. To not know why one was hated so.
Sasuke closed her eyes and stopped wondering.
Sasuke eyed the couple sitting at the table next to her with distaste as they indulged in heavy PDA. God. Just another bullet point to add to your list of things that you won't miss about high-school, she told herself dryly, rolling her eyes and looking away.
You dropped a note,
& we changed key,
You changed yourself and I changed me,
I really didn't see us singing through this.
Then you screamed the bridge,
I cried the verse,
& our chorus came out unrehearsed,
Then you smiled the whole way through it, I guess maybe that's what's worse—
"Shit," Sasuke muttered, yanking her headphones off her head. Battery died. That meant—she checked her watch, sighing—forty minutes of listening to the animals around her.
"Hello. Would you mind if I sat next to you and watched you smile?"
Sasuke looked up. It was Naruto, clan in an orange jumpsuit (what was he wearing?), holding a paper lunch bag in one hand and smiling genially at her.
She bit her lip and glanced sideways. The couple at the neighbouring table had finally pulled apart and were staring quizzically at the blond before the girl whispered something in her boyfriend's ear and they burst into snickers.
Sasuke scowled at them and looked back at Naruto. He was still standing there, still smiling pleasantly—if only he knew—and suddenly, Sasuke felt sorry for the poor boy (because he just didn't have a clue, did he?), and—
"Well, I don't really do smiling. And frankly, it would kinda creep me out if you were to just watch me for the next half hour," she said. "But you're welcome to sit down, if you want."
Naruto's smile widened, and he took a seat opposite Sasuke. She politely declined his offer of food—"I don't eat in school, but thanks anyway"—that his mother had prepared for him, and listened to his stories about his family, some kid that lived down the road, whose name he could never quite remember, and his love of ramen, interrupting only to add in the odd sarcastic remark at certain intervals.
Then, he started to ask questions about Sasuke. Normally, she would have told him to mind his own business as she didn't like people knowing too much about her, but, with a pang, she realised he would probably forget everything she told him by tomorrow anyway. Besides, the blond seemed clearly interested, and was looking at her expectantly with such childlike curiosity that Sasuke didn't have the heart to put him down.
So she sat back in her seat and told him that she had an older brother called Itachi, who was nothing short of a genius and who she could never hope to live up to, so why even bother trying? She spoke of her father, who was the head of the Konoha Police Force, but was never around. She mentioned her mother briefly, and how Sasuke thought she was the most beautiful woman to have ever graced the earth, and if she could be half as pretty as her some day, well, that wouldn't be too bad.
Taking everything into consideration, this was probably the longest conversation Sasuke had ever had with anybody in, well, a very long time. She was actually quite enjoying herself. Naruto proved to be a very good listener as well, laughing at all the right parts and knowing when to keep quiet, letting some comments she made about her father slide without questioning them. Sasuke was pleasantly surprised at how painless having a normal conversation could be.
As Naruto babbled on about how much he wanted a pet fox and of the various schemes he and his father had come up with to try to persuade their mother to agree to let them have one (all which had failed), Sasuke wondered how someone who was so badly mistreated and looked down upon by his peers could still be so upbeat and cheerful, so bright and effervescent, so optimistic to the point of naïveté.
Then he remembered. Naruto didn't know. Sasuke pursed her lips. Blissfully living in his own little world that his parents, who clearly loved him more than their own world, had built for him. Must be quite nice. Sasuke was almost envious. Almost.
"Oh!" Naruto said, five minutes before lunch ended, "Haha, I completely forgot; we've been talking all this time and I still haven't introduced myself! Sorry. I didn't mean to be so rude." He held out a tanned hand, and said, "I'm Naruto, by the way. What's your name?"
Sasuke winced, and felt something inside of her ache.
"It's Sasuke," she said, taking his hand and returning the shake.
"Sasuke," Naruto repeated, grinning. "That's a pretty name. It suits you."