Author's Notes: This fic is in response to a challenge that involves writing about a character in five-year intervals, and bleh—you get the point. Anyway, hope you guys like it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Five Dishes in the Life of Uchiha Sasuke

I. Five – Sukiyaki

His mother is an exceptional cook.

Years of training back her skill, having been conditioned from birth to become the perfect housewife. Her talent in the kitchen is matched only by her skill as a kunoichi, and she was – is – secretly prouder of the latter. Still, she knew from the start that she would someday have to replace her jounin vest with an apron. Her own mother, after all, never neglected to remind her of this fact. But knowledge was only a cold comfort and Uchiha Mikoto was never truly prepared for the pain this sacrifice would actually cause her.

Cooking is routine. Cooking is expected. Cooking is something she can barely stand.

That her Sukiyaki is laced with a lifetime's worth of bitterness, nobody knows.


Uchiha Sasuke certainly doesn't. He is only five.

II. Ten – Onigiri

The Onigiri from the convenience store is bland and tasteless, even somewhat cold, but he barely notices it. By now, he is used to it. Two years of the same thing every single day has taught him not to expect much.

As it is, there is no enthusiasm whatsoever in the way he eats his meal.

He eats, but does not taste.

After all, food is merely a form of sustenance, a necessity, a step towards his goal. If he could forgo it, he would. The time he spends eating – a mere ten minutes – would be better off spent in training. But he can't. He must eat.

So even if the Onigiri is bland, tasteless, and somewhat cold, he has to put up with it. It is, after all, the most practical form of food, and the only decent thing that the convenience store has to offer.

This is his excuse.

To his left, a stove is rotting, yellow with disuse and caked with rust. He tries not to look at it, not wanting to remember that there was once a woman who used it every day to carefully and lovingly – not really, but he does not know that – prepare a tasty dish for her family.

He wonders whether she would take offense at the fact that he did not bother to take care of her kitchen, and ultimately decides that she probably would.

His mother was an exceptional cook, she loved her kitchen.

He would use it, really, if he could. For her.

But Uchiha Sasuke does not know how to cook and has nobody to teach him. He is only ten.

III. Fifteen – Omuraisu

The kitchen in their hideout is always spotless, always clean. It is almost as sterile as the operating room. Then again, this is only to be expected. After all, it is Kabuto who takes care of it.

"Gravy or Catsup, Sasuke-kun?"

Kabuto is a good cook, superb even, but Sasuke finds it hard to reconcile the fact that the same hands that prepare the food are the same hands that, just minutes prior, dismantled a corpse.

As it is, he finds the Omuraisu particularly difficult to swallow.

"Gravy or Catsup, Sasuke-kun?"

"Gravy." Catsup looks too much like blood, he thinks but does not say.

Uchiha Sasuke, at fifteen, thinks that food is disgusting.

IV. Twenty – Ramen

He is tired, exhausted even. And all he wants to do is to go home and collapse into his bed.

Their mission was easy – escort an important lord to the borders, make sure that he arrives home safely. It was a very simple task, really, but the idiot always had a way of making things complicated. On the way home, they stopped at a small fishing village, and were detained after a small incident involving a tea cup and some shaving cream.

So really, he's tired. And he wants to go home.

But Naruto dragged him to the ramen stand, hopeful and expectant and – "Sakura-chan's going to be there, Sasuke" – so damn convincing, he simply couldn't find it in him to resist.

So here he is, with them – Naruto and Sakura – sitting at the very same stools and eating the same ramen that they did a little more than eight years ago. They laugh and talk and smile as if nothing – no betrayals, no heartaches, no wars – happened in between then and now. It still amazes him that he could forgive and that he, in turn, could be forgiven. And it still amazes him, really, that things could fall so smoothly back into place after everything.

Still, Naruto had promised as much, hadn't he?

Naruto – as he passed the bloodied body of the girl who had foolishly jumped into what would have been a fatal clash between her two teammates to the traitor, the enemy, to him – had promised that everything would be okay.

(Everything's going to be okay, bastard! So don't try to tell me otherwise, you pessimistic shit. But you have to help me bring her to Konoha, carry her, I can't—my shoulder is dislocated, Sasuke, and—

He couldn't say no, after all, he asked Naruto the same thing years ago and, really, he just had to return the favor and—

--Save her no matter what. I know you can save her. Once you've got her, carry her and run... as far... and as fast... as you can…)

"Sasuke-kun, you're spacing out. Is everything okay?"

Yes, everything is okay – more than okay, really.

Because if there was anything he could say about Naruto, it is that though the blond is sorely lacking in the brains department, he certainly knows how to fulfill his promises.

It is – quite absurdly – the idiot's "ninja way".

"Oi, oi, Bastard, if you're not going to eat your ramen, can I have it?"

Sasuke does not believe that the way of a ninja could be anything like that – but Sasuke is thankful, really. He is very thankful.

And he knows that, if Naruto somehow proves him wrong, then it's certainly no cause for lament.

So as he pushes the still steaming bowl towards his friend, Uchiha Sasuke, at twenty, learns to hope.

V. Twenty Five – Tonkatsu

His wife is not the best cook in the world.

Her cooking is unadorned, and often seems a bit rushed. It's not bad, per se, just not particularly good.

Sakura's Tonkatsu, for example, is a bit too salty.

However, he does not mind. Not at all. And he chows it down like it's the most delicious thing in the world, because really…

Uchiha Sasuke, at Twenty Five, has developed quite an appetite, not really for food, but for life and the promise it holds.