A/N: I know, I know, this is not the oneshot I promised- BUT. I have a 10 page long DRAFT and I need a tiny break to figure out what I'm keeping and what I'm kicking over to Naruto's oneshot… because otherwise it will be inhumanly big. In the meantime, this story has been nagging in my head. It can be tied to T&E Universe- before Sasuke's oneshot, so it would be sometime within the first year after his probation is over- or not. For everyone who's reading this story first, part of the premise is that they already ARE together at this point… it's just not common knowledge in the Village. So there- enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. And Kishimoto might cringe at my ideas about his characters… I WILL comply with his, soon as he gets off whatever drugs he's on lately and starts making sense…
The Sun and the Rainfall
The Sun and the Rainfall
Open Your Eyes
There was obviously something wrong with that stupid clock on the wall- its hands dragged as though as each cog and gear that moved them had been worn out by ages of rust and wont. At least he had managed to move past the idea that they were actually moving backwards and that's why, no matter how long he had waited, nothing seemed to change. Resigning to that had also crushed his hope that maybe he could take it all back- go back to that moment and chose again.
Naruto buried his face in his palms for a moment, fingers clenching into strands of blonde hair, as his hands balled into fists. This can't be happening… he thought to himself.
In actuality, it had happen, it was happening. His eyes confirmed that every time he'd look up at the hospital bed, covered in white linen, always stopping when the cotton border outlined the pale skin. His guilt couldn't carry his gaze any further, so it returned to the linen. White was a vague enough term- nothing could really entirely dissolve the pints of blood that had stained the once pristine sheets, leaving sickly sienna outlines of what used to be an unforgiving shade of red.
Damn you, Sasuke… he thought accusingly, squeezing his eyelids tightly shut, fighting back the tears that had been mercilessly stinging his eyes since he had found the raven lying almost lifeless, with a blade swinging down to his chest. If not for blind, honed instinct, he would have been too late to counter the blow. If his body hadn't moved before his mind had processed the scene before his eyes, he would have surely frozen in place. Because, unlike what everyone thought, he wasn't the strong person who could survive anything, could move on no matter what- not when it came to Sasuke.
Once again his eyes once fell on the floor, where he spotted an ant climbing down the wall and onto the floor. The ant hurried about like it had a purpose- some grand scheme that its hurry would serve. Humans weren't too much unlike that ant most days- each of them rushing forth without realizing that a foot bigger than their existence could squash their puny, fragile lives any moment.
I don't owe you anything., he lied to himself, trying to be angry. You liar…
Yet the thought had bubbled up in pain, not anger. If he had been seconds late, it would have been over. Maybe it already was.
Sasuke's would-be killer had been run through and gushing blood before it all really had the chance to register in his mind- and yet he hadn't care about killing their target, had forgotten all about the mission, even as, by defending the Uchiha, he had succeeded in both. Kakashi had once told him that eventually his body would move on its own with deadly skill- and he had been right, as he had been about many other things over the years. He had hoisted Sasuke over his shoulder, feeling the pale boy's usually strong heartbeat shallow against his back, his body a terrifying deadweight that barely registered on Naruto's determined mind. Tsunade could deal with this- is what he had told himself- he just had to get there on time.
In retrospection it would have helped a great deal, if he had brought in the culprit as well, but he wasn't thinking- Sasuke was supposed to do the thinking. It was part of what made them such a formidable pair- with each of them complementing what the other was lacking. It was like that in everything, in every way. What wallowed inside him at the idea that this could be it- no more Sasuke- was pure despair. Something that powerful would never yield to a petty emotion like anger.
The Hokage- who hadn't uttered a word since she had started working on the Uchiha and barely even acknowledged the fact that he was even in the room- straightened her tired body with a wince. Perhaps she didn't look it, but age was catching up with her. "He seems to be okay." Tsunade's voice carried with a sigh. "Physically, at least."
Naruto's fraught eyes slowly blinked up at the older woman, whose wary phrasing hadn't escaped his attention. Physically, at least. "Just tell me he'll be alright, Baa-chan."
Tsunade's lips thinned, as her honey-colored eyes fell on the occupant of the bed once again. "I can't, gaki. Not yet." she said firmly, tempering her frustration for hours worth of work that had not provided more clear-cut results. "I'm unfamiliar with the seals for this kind of jutsu. Until I have more information…" she paused. "It's best to wait."
Sakura's voice was thick with concern. And why did it sounded like she was more concerned about him than her first love lying on the bed perfectly still and flawlessly pale? Maybe he shouldn't be quite that surprised that Sakura didn't sound like her world was about to fall apart around her- nor that neither her nor Tsunade seemed surprised at all that he had assumed that part. It was pathetic, how after all these years he still failed so miserably to temper his emotions. Sakura could understand better than anyone and had been there since the beginning. She also had faith in Tsunade's skill and Sasuke's ability to cope.
But she hadn't been there when it had all gone down, there was no way for her to really understand the helplessness he had experienced when Sasuke had gone down. It occurred to him that he too had bought into the famous image of invincibility that the Uchiha liked to project. It wasn't a conscious decision, so he couldn't remember making it, but he should have known better. No one was invincible- not Orochimaru, not Itachi, not Pain… not even Jiraya or Tsunade.
Fighting and capturing a couple of renegade ninjas was pretty much routine in the world left behind by Orochimaru and the Akatsuki. They were relics of past experiments and attempts to enhance abilities or simply subjects of research-gone-wrong. The couple of ninjas that he and Sasuke had been tracking down had been reportedly camping in the borders to Suna and would remain stationary for weeks at a time. It was almost as though as they simply wanted to be forgotten by the world- and if it were up to Naruto, he'd be more than happy to oblige- but past experience had taught the Kages that powerful issues like that could not be left unattended. And that's how they ended up fighting them, with Sasuke choosing the one that seemed to use some kind of genjutsu that he would easily counter with the Sharingan. That's what he had told him and Naruto had believed him- like he always would, unquestioningly. That's why he had never looked back until he was done- because he trusted him.
Naruto's eyes finally set on Sasuke, dim and blank. "It wasn't genjutsu, was it?" he asked resignedly.
Tsunade shook her head. "No. As far as I can tell it's closer to the Yamanaka family's jutsu, but…" her lips thinned. "The process of trying to take over seems to cause actual physical damage to… the subject."
To Sasuke. "If it's physical, you can fix it, right?" Naruto pressed, blue eyes lighting with a wild tint the more he heard things he didn't like.
And Tsunade knew- she knew him and she knew what Sasuke meant to him. Maybe. "I did what I could…" she replied tensely. "The brain is tricky… and unique. There's no one way to set it right- it's not a bone."
That was another thing he didn't want to hear- because it made his by-then fragile faith, that everything would be okay, waver. "He lied to me." he said quietly.
"Sasuke couldn't have known." Sakura defended her ex-teammate, ex-love interest, ex-idea of a romantic partner, ex-center of her Universe and everything in it.
All those things that Naruto was current. "Bullshit."Maybe being with Lee was having an effect on her and his naivety and good faith were contagious or maybe Sasuke's cynicism was finally catching up with him. "He knew, Sakura-chan. The Sharingan can spot and counter genjutsu. Maybe he didn't know what it was, but he knew what it wasn't."
"Then maybe he did it because you are stubborn and won't listen. Or maybe that was the only way to protect you." Tsunade said simply. "In any case, he was right. The Sharingan gives him an advantage over you in any technique that deals with the mind."
Naruto's jaw set. "Not enough of an advantage as it turns out."
The blonde woman sighed, allowing herself to settle on a metallic stool next by the bed. "There's no way to be certain about such a thing. The outcome of a fight can be determined by skill or just luck." She said matter-of-factly and slightly agitated at his usual stubbornness. "The fact is that Sasuke made the right call."
Cobalt blue eyes narrowed at the boy lying on the bed. It wasn't that simple. "The fact is that he lied to me and I seriously want to beat his ass for it." He said somewhat curtly, then scoffed a little, his voice breaking. "But if he opened his eyes right now, I'd forget all about it." He said quietly, almost like a promise to whatever Kami was willing to listen, as terror started to crawl inside his heart. "That's the best deal you'll get out of me, Teme." He said, one hand clenching at the bed rail, the other shielding his moist eyes as he forced the crack out of his voice. "Just please open your eyes…"
A moment went by that neither Tsunade, nor Sakura spoke up. Maybe they didn't know what to say or maybe they understood his feelings too well. Whatever the case, Tsunade touched Sakura's arm- a signal to exit the room- and started to rise from her post to give him some privacy- because what he felt for Sasuke was quite private- when a soft groan drew everyone's attention to the bed. No one spoke, holding their breaths almost as if their hope was like a fickle, newborn flame that would not survive that very vital need to exhale.
Dark eyelids fluttered open. It took another groan of complaint at the artificial brightness and an arm to come up over his eyes defensively for Sakura to rush over to the wall and flip a couple of switches, dimming the light in the room. They all watched with baited breath as Sasuke lowered his arms and blinked at his surroundings. And there- just like that- those beautiful eyes had come to life, the pale chest rose and fell with a deep breath that escaped through parted lips.
Naruto released a ragged breath at the familiar troubled expression on the raven's face. More than likely he recalled very little after that attack- if anything at all. There should be a huge gap in his mind in the form of a throbbing headache. "… Sasuke..?" his voice oozed with emotion that he couldn't contain.
There was no smartass remark, no assuring smile responding to that emotion. The good vibes that had filled the room slowly shifted back to concern the longer that the Uchiha didn't speak and only increased at the alarm and confusion registering on his expression the more his eyes surveyed the room and himself.
Naruto inched closer, tentatively placing a hand on his shoulder, drawing his focus on him. "Sasuke… what's wrong, Teme- you're scaring me." He said, forcing a nervous smile.
Sasuke's beautiful charcoal eyes looked back expressionlessly, moving from the tan hand to Naruto's worried face. A frown creased his brows. "Who are you?"
The world seemed to crack and shatter all around him under the new wave of dread. The question broke his heart. Never in a thousand years had he thought it possible that either of them could forget. Regret it- maybe- cherish it- hopefully- but not just forget. There had to be something deeper than memories that recognized someone precious, an instinctive feeling of being safe- of coming home. Even before he and Sasuke had ever exchanged a word between them, they had never been strangers. And yet those bottomless eyes, that he considered the most splendid thing on this earth, told him all too clearly.
All he saw, as his most important person looked back at him, was oblivion.
That's chapter one. HUGE departure from my mammoth chapters, huh? Here's hoping I can write something shorter…