Title: Second
Author: Simply Kelp
Pairing: Sasuke/Juugo friendship, and Naruto gets a bit jealous of Juugo, so... interpret as you will.
Rating: pg-13; there's one swear word, I think.
Summary: Naruto would like to think that he still would have gone after Sasuke all things considered. But the fact is, he doesn't know. (And, a little part of him admits, he might have been less motivated if he'd known it would turn out like this.) Follows 'Myopia'
Disclaimer: Yes, I am Kishimoto-sensei... really, I am.
A/N: It's kind of funny... I hated Sasuke until Juugo came along; now I find the idea of Juugo helping a blind Sasuke impossibly cute...

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[Note: This is a companion piece to Myopia, which is from Sasuke's perspective, and tells about his descent into blindness. You can understand this without reading the other, but you should still go read Myopia.]

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They get reports of Akatsuki in the Tsuchi no Kuni. A four man cell, led by a young man who--

"That sounds like Sasuke!" Naruto says. He's bouncing on the balls of his feet, waiting for Tsunade to give them permission to go. Sakura is equally impatient. She grasps Naruto's hand, and for once he's too distracted to think anything of it.

They find the group of Akatsuki based in a cave a few miles out from Iwagakure. Kakashi is telling them the plan, but Naruto doesn't hear a word he says, and takes off running toward Sasuke, screaming his name.

Naruto doesn't know whether to hug Sasuke, or kill him for all the trouble he's put them through. He settles for punching him, a loud, earth shattering crack of breaking bone. There's blood; lots of it. The big guy behind Sasuke (later Naruto learns his name is Juugo) gasps, and balls his hands into fists as curse marks break out on his face, and arms.

Sasuke holds his wristband up to his nose. "Naruto, I would say it's nice to see you..." Sasuke says. He's staring at the space just above Naruto's shoulder.

Naruto frowns. Sasuke is acting weird, and he doesn't like it. "What are you talking about?" Naruto asks.

Sasuke smiles. "I'm blind," he says.

Naruto can't have heard correctly. Blind? That makes no sense. "What? Don't-- don't say stupid stuff," he says. By now the rest of Team 7 has caught up to them. Naruto can't look at Sasuke's unseeing stare, so he turns to his team mates. Sakura's lip is quivering slightly, and Kakashi's exposed eye is drooping just a bit more than usual. Even Sai looks vaguely affected. "I found you," Naruto continues. "You're coming home." Sasuke's expression is blank. "Everything's going to go back to the way it was."

Sasuke wipes the last drops of blood from his nose. "You can't will blindness away," he says. His voice is almost a whisper as he adds: "I've tried."

They come with little protest. Sasuke, and Suigetsu, and Karin, and Juugo. (Naruto thinks that it would have been a different story if Sasuke still had his vision.) Already, Naruto decides he doesn't like the others. Suigetsu is stupid, and Karin is obnoxious, and Juugo... he hates Juugo most of all.

The way him, and Sasuke work so well together: how he helps Sasuke without Sasuke yelling, or pushing him away; the slight twitch of Sasuke's lips that Juugo doesn't ever seem to notice, or acknowledge; how they act like they've been doing this for years. But Naruto isn't jealous, because he's still Sasuke's best friend.

Right?

That night, he watches as Juugo, and Sasuke sleep. They're almost close enough to be touching. Sasuke rolls onto his side, and his back is now just barely touching Juugo's arm. Naruto can't help thinking his best friend status, and the fact he's been chasing after Sasuke for three long years should trump anything Juugo's done.

It takes nearly a week to reach Konoha. Naruto hadn't expected a Welcome Back celebration, or anything, but the village is surprisingly quiet for having just regained one of its lost ninja. Tsunade arranges accommodations for the four Akatsuki. (Naruto tried to offer his place for Sasuke to stay at, but somehow Sasuke's ended up in a flat next door to the one Juugo will be staying in.)

With Sasuke back, the world should be restored to balance. But Naruto can't help feeling like he's still upside down. After chasing Sasuke for three years, the result... wasn't what he wanted.

It takes a while, but finally the village welcomes its newcomers. Suigetsu, and Karin are adjusting nicely to life in Konoha. Suigetsu spends most of his time trying to work out how to get the rest of his swords, or else hanging out with Kiba (something Shino acts surly about). Karin has wedged herself in with the other kunoichi. She seems to get along with Ino best; Naruto hears them talking about boys all the time.

Sasuke doesn't go out much anymore. Once to a meeting with Tsunade to see if he'd be able to go on missions; he'd passed with Juugo's help (and a little note in his file that said he'd have to be paired with Juugo-- not that Naruto was reading Sasuke's file, or anything), but he has yet to see active duty.

Sometimes Naruto sees Juugo. In the park watching birds, or getting groceries, or at the training grounds. Juugo always smiles, and greets Naruto like an old friend. He doesn't seem to comprehend Naruto's unenthusiastic responses. Either that, or he's just a bastard, and enjoys rubbing it in that he's Sasuke's new best friend.

Sasuke hasn't spoken to Naruto since his return to Konoha. Naruto tries to act like it doesn't bother him, but he's always been a horrible liar. Sakura tries to cheer him up by taking him out for ramen. "You haven't been here in ages," Ayame says. Naruto shrugs, and plays with his chopsticks.

Naruto would like to think that he still would have gone after Sasuke all things considered. But the fact is, he doesn't know. (And, a little part of him admits, he might have been less motivated if he'd known it would turn out like this.)

Several weeks have passed, and Naruto overhears Sai talking about going on a mission with Juugo. Just Juugo… or, at least Sasuke isn't going with them. And so that is why Naruto now finds himself standing at the door to Sasuke's flat. He's debating whether he should knock, or try the handle when the door opens.

Sasuke stares at him with his sightless eyes, and Naruto gets the impression that Sasuke is seeing through him. He wonders if this is what it feels like to be invisible. "Naruto," Sasuke says.

Naruto starts. "How did you know it was me?" he asks.

A shrug. "You smell like ramen."

"Oh."

Sasuke's lips quirk into what almost looks like a smile. His eyes are unfocused; Naruto is unsure if the action is directed at him, or something only Sasuke can see. "Thank you," Sasuke says. His voice is quiet, and Naruto thinks he must be hearing things.

"What?" he asks.

Sasuke shrugs again. "You've given them a place to call 'home'."

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Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it~! I would love to hear what you thought.