Author: Simply Kelp
Pairing: Sasuke/Juugo friendship, or pre-slash if you want.
Rating: pg; there's like one naughty word...
Summary: "I'm fine," Sasuke says. It sounds feeble even to his own ears. Juugo doesn't look convinced, but he drops the subject because Karin, and Suigestu have returned with supplies. Sasuke's descent into blindness.
Disclaimer: Yes, I am Kishimoto-sensei… really, I am.
A/N: I'm really wishing there were more Sasuke/Juugo (BL, or friendship) stories, because, I don't know, Juugo is just so sweet... (when he isn't psychotic...) I had wanted to write a chaptered story, but I kind of suck at those, so it's just a one-shot. I may try to do more with it later; who knows?
The world is growing dark, and Sasuke is angry. He's angry at Konoha, at Itachi, at Naruto, at Taka, at Akatsuki. But most of all, he's angry at himself, because his vision is leaving, and there's nothing he can do to stop it.
Juugo is the first to notice the change. Karin is too busy planning ways to steal a kiss from Sasuke, and Suigestu, as always, has his head up his ass. "You're not okay," Juugo says. It's a statement, not a question. Questions Sasuke can brush off easily, but he can't ignore Juugo staring blurrily at him with a look that is either concern, or pity. (He has always had trouble sorting out those emotions, and now, when the visual world is slowly fading, the difficulty only increases.)
"I'm fine," Sasuke says. It sounds feeble even to his own ears. Juugo doesn't look convinced, but he drops the subject because Karin, and Suigestu have returned with supplies.
Juugo doesn't mention the subject again for several weeks. Sasuke notices, as much as he can notice, that Juugo keeps watching him, and Sasuke gets the horrible impression that he knows. Sasuke's peripheral vision has left completely by the time Juugo confronts him again. He jumps as he hears Juugo's voice from somewhere to his side; he must have focused his chakra into making a silent entrance. "You're going blind," Juugo says.
Sasuke wants to deny it. He wants to tell Juugo he's crazy, because Sasuke can't be losing his vision. But all that comes out is, "Don't tell the others." He reaches for a glass of water. He's misjudged the distance, and grasps at air.
Juugo wraps Sasuke's fingers securely around the glass. "Your secret's safe with me," he says. Sasuke sips at his water; it's a trick he picked up from Ino years ago to hide the fact his mouth is twitching. His eyes feel liquid, and he reaches up to wipe the irritation away. It can't be tears, because Sasuke doesn't cry. And he's right; it's not tears. He has to hold his hand up inches away from his face to see the red smudges clearly.
Juugo wipes the blood from Sasuke's eyes with his sleeve.
It's become their shared secret now. They'll keep it until one of the others finally notices, or Sasuke goes completely blind. Juugo begins to narrate battles for Sasuke's benefit. Things like 'To your left, thirty degrees', and 'Duck if you want to keep your head.' Sasuke appreciates this because otherwise he would be directing attacks at random, and while he wouldn't exactly mind if he hit Suigetsu, he might have some slight objection to harming Juugo. Karin voices her concern at Juugo's sanity. Sasuke shrugs, and quickly changes the subject. He's surprised the others haven't noticed yet.
"I won't tell them," Juugo says. "But I think you should."
Sasuke tries to glare, but he's certain that his unfocused eyes make him look much less threatening than he would like. "I'm not going to tell them. It's bad enough having you babysit me." That, Sasuke decides, came out sounding much more affectionate than he is comfortable with. He frowns. "I'd hate to think of what Karin, and Suigetsu would do if they found out."
Juugo gets that blurred pitying look in his eyes again, and Sasuke has the urge to punch him in the gut. "You know, they will figure it out eventually."
"Not for a long time, though," Sasuke says. He stands, and navigates himself slowly away from Juugo. He knows a cup won't hide the worry from his face.
The world is entirely black when Karin, and Suigetsu finally take notice. And it takes something as stupid as Suigetsu tripping over Sasuke's sandals to draw their suspicion. Karin asks why Sasuke is trying to put his left sandal on his right foot, and Sasuke has no reasonable answer other than the obvious truth.
"He's just tired," Juugo says. "We all are." But no one buys it.
Karin does the 'How many fingers am I holding up?' test. It's only through Juugo quietly tapping his foot that Sasuke can guess the right answer. But no one believes him, and now everyone knows.
Sasuke is blind.
It surprises him that Karin, and Suigestu both stay in Taka. He'd thought at least one of them would have left, or staged a coup, or something. But they're all here together despite the fact everything's changed.
The team dynamics are different: Karin still fawns over him, but it's more in a mother hen sort of way than anything. Suigetsu's become more of a bastard than normal; he's taken to rearranging the base while Sasuke sleeps, and laughs when Sasuke stumbles, or falls on his face. And Juugo's still looking after him more than Sasuke thinks is healthy for either of them. (Sasuke doesn't imagine he'll ever tell Juugo how much he appreciates this.)
It's a few months before he runs into Naruto again. "Sasuke--!" Naruto yells, and Sasuke can hear his footsteps advancing. He can't avoid the punch Naruto directs at his face. Sasuke can hear the deafening crack of his nose breaking, and feel the flow of warm liquid down his chin.
Juugo gasps from somewhere behind him, and Sasuke imagines the curse marks trailing their way up his skin. Sasuke tries to stem the blood as much as he can with his wristband; he hopes Juugo won't try to kill Naruto. He looks in the direction he thinks Naruto is standing. "Naruto." Sasuke tries to keep his voice toneless, but his nose hurts, and he thinks he might have whimpered. "I would say it's nice to see you..."
He can almost feel Naruto's confused frown, almost visualise his eyebrows knit together above his squinted eyes. "What are you talking about?" Naruto asks.
Sasuke smiles. Dead last, as always. "I'm blind." It's the first time he's said the words aloud. He feels dizzyingly light, but that may be from blood loss. Sasuke wonders if Naruto would have been so persistent if he knew he was chasing damaged goods. He's glad he can't see Naruto's expression, because he's certain there is pity in it.
Thanks for reading; I'd love to hear from you~! eta: I've written a sequel to this; it's called 'Second', and is from Naruto's perspective after they find Sasuke. I hope you will go read that too.