Disclaimer: I in no way own Naruto. I canNOT draw for my life. My best pictures are stick figures. Interestingly enough, I trace pretty damn well.
Don't Forget Me
I remember when
We used to drive
Anywhere but here
As long as we'd forget our lives
We were so young and confused we didn't know
To laugh or cry
Those nights were ours
They will live and never die
- Those Nights, by Skillet
The stuffed white bear with the orange bow around its neck is the only witness to all of Sasuke's life. It's been there when he was happy (far too few), when he's been pissed (far too many times), when he's been sad (it can't tell between pissed and sad - Sasuke's actions for both of these seem to be the same, as far as it has seen), when he hasn't been truly living, just getting by each day only with the help of coffee and unimaginable amounts of loud music that would wake up the dead.
So many times it's been there, it thinks, that it really must start organizing those memories into boxes, some of those large brown cardboard boxes that Sasuke seems to have an abundant quantity of.
Well, it should start, then, no? There were a lot of memories to sift through.
The first memory has to be That Day, when Sasuke is just a small first grader with a slightly-too-large brain, as the 'ramen-loving freak' puts it.
It is a summer day, and Sasuke and the ramen-loving freak had partnered up for a contest held at the nearby library - 'Who can answer these questions about our solar system?' There is a prize, of course. The little kids would throw tantrums without some kind of reward at the end.
Sasuke looks at the application form, proud that he can read most of the words.
'Sasuke? Do you need help answering the form?' his mother asks, looking over his shoulder.
'Kaa-san, I'm grown up now,' he complains with the thought that being six is very old already. 'And besides, this says over here that you need a partner. I don't have one.'
Kaa-san laughs quietly. 'I'm sure you'll find one sooner or later, Sasuke.'
And someone, someone with hair the colour of the sun and eyes the colour of the ocean waves and catches his attention with an exclamation of 'You with the black everything!'
'See?' Kaa-san says, and leaves, saying she had to find Itachi.
'Wanna be my partner for this thing?' sun-and-ocean says, a wide grin that stands out against his tanned skin just as his orange T-shirt stands out in the crowd.
'Knew you'd say yes! Come on, we can sign up together! I'm Naruto Uzumaki! What's your name?'
'... Sasuke.' His lips press together in an effort not to smile so easily. After all, Itachi doesn't smile this much when with Shisui. And if he wants to be like Itachi, he has to stop smiling so much.
'Great! Now, let's start! ... By the way, what's the fifth planet from the sun?'
It laughs quietly to itself as it looks back. That is definitely going into the 'keep' box, it thinks, remembering how that day ends.
'Sasuke! We won!'
Duh, Sasuke thinks. I answered most of the questions.
'... can get the white one, wearing all black and stuff - '
'What are you going on about this time?'
'The prizes! You were talking with that guy, so, I brought yours over for you! Here!'
... 'Why do I get the white one?'
' 'Cuz, you're always wearing so much black an' all, you need some colour! See, I even put an orange bow on it!'
'You just ripped a strip off you shirt.'
'Where else was I gonna get orange ribbon?'
... It is a valid point.
That night, when all was done and Sasuke and the ramen-loving freak (he finds that Naruto likes ramen just a bit too much when Kaa-san invites him to eat lunch with the rest of them) have parted ways and the moon was just almost there, the sides made a bit hazy because of the clouds, he dreams of blonde hair and blue eyes and a grin that makes him feel like he doesn't need to be like Itachi to make someone recognize him for who he is.
And the bear starts witnessing how Sasuke began to live.
It smiles as it thinks back. Sasuke has come a long way since then, ne?
For some strange reason, Sasuke actually likes Naruto being there next to him, even though he definitely talks too much and his shirt is too bright for ten in the morning.
'Oh yeah, Sasuke-teme!'
Naruto doesn't go off screaming his ear off this time. Sasuke pays more attention - something must be wrong.
He froze. Suna was at least a week's trip away - why was he moving that far? 'Why?'
The ramen-loving freaks shrugs. 'Dunno. Iruka says there's this really good offer for him, and if he takes it, I can get into a better school, he can get a better salary, all that good stuff.'
'If it's so good, why aren't you happy?'
' 'Cuz, you'll forget me.'
'And if I don't?' Naruto shouldn't look so sad. It doesn't suit him, goes through Sasuke's mind. Because, even though Sasuke is a heartless bastard to the rest of the world, he isn't one to Naruto.
He cheers up, a wide grin splitting his face and the whisker-marks almost scrunching together. 'Here's something that'll make sure you never forget me, Sasuke-teme,' he says as a warning, leans forward, and presses his lips together with Sasuke's.
The feelings explode. He feels too many things at once for it to be normal, and his mind is literally breaking apart at the seams. Everything that has made life what it is, that has defined life for him, is being torn apart by something so strong he cannot even comprehend.
Suddenly, the pressure on his lips cease, and Sasuke stays there, his eyes closed.
'Don't forget me Sasuke. No matter what you do - do NOT forget me.'
'... I won't,' he chokes out, and he could feel Naruto kissing his lips again, and he is feeling all over again, and then he opens his eyes and -
Naruto has left.
Yes, the bear thinks as it nods to itself. The Sasuke after that was certainly scary.
The bear sighs, mentally. This is turning out to be a job he wishes he hasn't start, because it really is painful to relive those moments when Sasuke's all depressed and pissy because of all the fangirls that cling to him like superglue at school.
But, as they say, the good comes after the bad, no?
'Sasuke, you really have to stop your moping,' Itachi says one day, coming uninvited to his room. 'Even Mother and Father have noticed.'
He snorts, not removing his headphones. 'They're so busy cooped up in their own problems to notice mine.'
'That's not true.'
'Don't sugarcoat things, Itachi. It's making me sick.'
'And your moping is making me sick. He isn't coming back, you know.'
'I'm not moping. I was just sitting here, calmly listening to music, when you barge in and starts going on about how I'm moping and it's not healthy for me and all that shit.'
'I didn't get there.'
Itachi sits down on the edge of Sasuke's bed, falling backwards so he's facing the ceiling, and places his hands behind his head, his long hair splaying out like a fan. 'Despite what you think, Sasuke, I do know the pains of unrequited love.'
Sasuke mock-gasps, clutching at his heart. 'Oh, dear Lord, whatever shall I do? Itachi-nii-san can't get someone! Call the media! 911!'
A glare is what meets his efforts at comedian. Well, he was never cut out to be one, anyways. 'Seriously.'
'Yes, I'm being serious.'
Itachi simply sighs, getting up and setting off small creaks in the mattress. 'Just remember this, Sasuke: it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.'
'That's probably a quote from Emily Dickenson.'
'Tennyson, actually. But it does hold true.'
'If it holds true, why isn't Kisame in your bed yet?'
Nothing met his rhetorical question; Itachi was gone already.
He sighs and turns the volume just a tiny bit higher. It isn't fun to be left alone with those thoughts, which seemed to happen whenever Itachi or anyone bring him up in a conversation. These thoughts...they were unhealthy. They would sneak up, one at a time, and overwhelm him slowly, wearing down whatever defenses he can manage to put up.
And they would always save That for last.
'Itachi,' Sasuke mutters into the empty room, his eyes staring at the ceiling, 'I hate it when you're right.'
That was the turning point..., the bear thinks through its tears, rather reminiscent of Gai, one of Sasuke's previous teachers/therapists.
What Itachi had said...one wouldn't say it struck a chord inside Sasuke, as all of the strings were severed when Naruto left, but one could say that it made Sasuke think on this a bit more than he usually would.
Naruto... Sasuke isn't sure if he loves him. Friends, definitely, though he'll never admit it out loud. Best friends - that went without saying, as Naruto was the only friend he'd ever had.
And then, the romantic crap that makes him want to barf on a good day.
Really? Could he really be exhibiting those signs of a person in love? Weak knees, heart beating fast, cheeks blushing, the stuttering, the loss of control over actions?
He is Uchiha. Uchihas do not get weak knees nor stutter.
More importantly, they do not lose any control.
Sasuke laughs, and thinks that any control he might have had went away when he realized that Itachi was right.
What more was a tiny bit more control to the memories that haunted him?
'Teme, you hear that your mother is in the hospital after attempted suicide and you can't even be bothered to shed a few tears! What the fuck is wrong with you?' Naruto screams at Sasuke, tears streaking down his face - he has spent enough time around Sasuke's family that Mikoto was like a loving aunt to him. 'She was your mother! Have you no feelings, emotions?'
Sasuke wisely stays silent, and just stares at Naruto, who glares daggers back at him.
'God! Can't you even just talk back or something, you complete and utter bastard - ' At this, the ramen-freak breaks down and falls down into a kneel in front of him, face buried in his hands. 'S-She was your mother! Raising you all these years, have that counted for nothing?' He chokes out a sob and gives a tiny hiccup. 'Bastard!'
Sasuke just looks, and his eyes were fiery enough to melt even the iciest glaciers. 'I am not crying,' he says, 'because you are crying enough for the both of us.'
Naruto had punched him after he said that.
When the day ended, Sasuke suffered bruises in various places and Naruto was carried on Sasuke's back after his knees turned weak after his vent. 'Bastard. Bastard. Bastard. Bastard,' Naruto repeats, again and again.
They were almost at his house when Sasuke quietly muses to himself, 'Is it raining?' and Naruto just smiles into Sasuke's shirt, tightening his arms just a notch.
A single drop of tear falls down Sasuke's face, rolling off and plopping onto Naruto's arm.
'Really? You don't know how to play this?'
Sasuke glared at him. 'Hn.'
He grins, whiskered cheeks scrunching up and pools of blue closing, and reaches for Sasuke's hands. 'Simple,' he says, because he knows how it's like to not know something and being too proud (or ashamed, but people do not need to know that) to admit it. 'See, once you get the starting position right, it's all just a matter of remembering what moves go with what shapes and...'
From then on, Sasuke knows that Naruto would always be there, and will be there as a silent pillar, a pillar of support and friendship...
And Sasuke thinks he's getting too mushy.
'...This isn't really hard to learn, once you get the hang of it, and it passes the time too, so you're never bored and - '
For teaching me cat's cradle. For being there when Mother attempted suicide. For always being my partner for crappy science projects because you know how the others piss me off more than you do. For being my teammate for that solar system contest back in first grade. For putting that stupid orange ribbon on the bear, because I actually like it no matter what I say. For being my friend.
For being there.
'Don't mention it - what friends are for, yeah?'
The ramen-loving freak hugs him, and for the first time, he tentatively wraps his skinny (malnourished, Naruto sometimes says) arms around him back. 'And besides, I have to thank you as well. I just say it more.'
'A lot of things,' he mumbles vaguely into Sasuke's shoulder. 'Ah, dammit, you made me cry.'
Naruto just laughs and continues to wipe his tears on Sasuke's shirt.
For acknowledging me, for accepting me, when everyone else ignored me.
Naruto's eyes are blue, more sapphire-coloured than the ocean. His hair is the sun, and when Naruto is there, it's as if the sun has come out and everything is as best as it can ever be. Everything isn't lifeless anymore and even Sasuke feels that he can be alive, not just existing in his lonely house where his mother is only a shadow and his father is never there.
'Naruto, don't touch that - '
'Shit. Take mushrooms.'
He buries his face in a hand, feeling a headache coming on. That house of cards took me two months to glue together and then one touch from the idiot the whole damn thing falls apart, Sasuke thinks. Guess the glue wasn't strong enough, if it could break with just one touch.
'Naruto, you are going to buy me lunch for the rest of the year!' Sasuke knows enough about Naruto to know that Naruto treasures his stuffed frog-shaped wallet the most, and when it was empty, he would go into a funk until it was stuffed again.
And that was exactly what he was aiming for. The funk. He really was too happy sometimes.
Naruto tears up. 'Teme, you sadistic bastard!'
'I spent two months on that.' As if that explains everything.
'And! I spent almost a whole year saving up!'
'Here's your chance to save up again, then. I want sushi tomorrow.'
A string of curse words flies from Naruto's open mouth as Sasuke just sits there calmly, flipping through a book Itachi got him. 'If you're done cursing, we can go for food. Your choice.'
Those sapphire eyes, which were in the depths of despair just a few moments ago, brightened to a point where it would have given the sun competition. 'I love you, Sasuke-teme!' Naruto shouts as he leaps at Sasuke and hugs him, planting fleeting kisses all over his face.
'Anything BUT ramen,' he adds.
'But you're treating, right? Right?'
'If you stop suffocating me, yes.'
Naruto grins. Sasuke-teme does have a heart, I guess.
'Hurry up, I don't have all day.'
Sasuke watches from his window on the second floor as Itachi opens the door with an arm around his waist.
So, Itachi's got who he wanted. So much for the pains of unrequited love.
He goes downstairs for a drink of water, passing Itachi and Kisame who were talking in the living room, textbooks open in front of them.
But he can bet that whatever they're talking about, it's not about Statistics.
Itachi catches sight of Sasuke walking with a glass of water and calls out, 'Sasuke, would you like to watch a movie today? Kisame's saying there's a really good action one out.'
'Don't mind me, I wouldn't want to interfere in your make-out session.' And besides, I have to think.
Sasuke walks back up the stairs, slower than he's started with. And inside his head, pictures of blonde hair that stayed spiky no matter what and blue eyes that were always there in the corner of his vision flew around and around, until his whole world was composed of yellow and blue, and there was no way out.
The glass of water fell from his hand and he collapsed on the stairs, tears being torn from his eyes and sobs racking his throat. The hand that wasn't holding the glass was gripping the banister, making his knuckles stand out whiter than the rest of his skin.
Naruto, you fucking fish-paste cake, get your ass back here!
For the first time since he's started this, the bear thinks that it's actually worth it going through this, if only just to witness how much Sasuke-the-ice-king has grown throughout these years.
Itachi tells Kisame to be quiet when he hears racking sobs coming from the staircase, and starts packing everything up. 'To the library,' he mouths when the other opens his mouth.
The door closes with a quiet click, and only the dust particles around Sasuke witnesses his first and only breakdown of his life.
'I really wasn't expecting that,' Kisame remarks once they're well on their way to the library that was pretty far by walking distance, and yet too short to take a car - not to mention all the gas they're saving, too.
'It was coming - first time I've seen him like that since forever. He didn't break down like that in front of me even when Mother attempted suicide.'
'You sure he won't need you there?'
'If I stayed, he would have killed me just so my mouth would stay shut.'
Kisame almost shudders. 'Violent little brother you have.'
'It's life,' Itachi says with a small shrug. 'And not so much violent as depressed - ever since that blond kid moved to Sunagakure.'
'Yes, I believe so.' They walked two blocks before Itachi stops. 'How do you know him?'
Kisame stops. 'Ahh...'
Itachi stares at him, an eyebrow raised. Even with an armful of textbooks he was menacing. 'Tell me.'
His eyes shifted and lets out a huge breath before starting. 'It's a bit embarrassing...'
'Do you think I care?'
'Nope. Anyways... Before we started going out, I was a bit head-over-heels for you...so I kinda cornered him because he was hanging out around your brother so much, and I thought I could find out things about you through him...'
Cue awkward silence.
'You're not pissed, are you?'
Kisame gathers up the rest of his remaining dignity, the last sliver that didn't fly out the window with that confession, and looks up at Itachi.
Who, as it turns out, wasn't glaring daggers, but was trying to suppress a twitch in the left side of his mouth.
He turns after dumping his textbooks in Kisame's arms and walks ahead, calling after him, 'You're carrying that, and paying for dinner later.' The cracks in his voice were noticeable to anyone, and Kisame starts laughing.
And Itachi follows with his own quiet laughter, and everyone who witnessed that were sent to the nearest mental asylum.
'Itachi...Uchiha...' Twitch. 'Was...l-laughing...' Seizure.
Just another day at work... Sasuke, despite all his good - no, near perfect grades, works at a bar, of all places, a bar called 'Gravity'. It's the only bar in town that catered to everyone, no matter gender, race, sexuality, nor age - anything goes in 'Gravity', which is one of the reasons why most of its customers were students of the nearby college and high school. As long as you have cash to pay with, and do not cause any ruckus, you can go in and drink away your sorrows, celebrate your wins, or where fellow friends would drag you to so you'll lose your virginity quickly and without fuss. After all, it is a bar, and there are drunks there.
He sighs, and wipes yet another glass. Will he ever get tired of this place and quit?
He answers himself after a while of thinking. The pay was good...'Gravity' was close to home, so it never took more than around ten, fifteen minutes of walking to and from...
But then, the people here always hit on him. And they stay until he gets pissed and gives them the famous Uchiha glare.
This shift, it's nothing different. However, it is later in the night, so there's not as many people as there are just simple stragglers not wanting to leave for home.
'Hey, sexy. What's your name?' a deep, husky voice says, close to the end of the counter. Exactly the kind that he loves, but he's at work right now and can't afford to take time off.
'Not interested. Now, either you order, or you can kindly piss off,' he replies, not even batting an eyelash and calmly wiping down the counter top. They were closing soon, and he really didn't want to stay after closing time.
'Fine.' Sasuke could see from the corner of his eyes broad shoulders moving in a small shrug. 'Gimme a Bloody Mary, no garnish.'
Having made that drink so many times (not only for others, but for himself as well), he could've made it with his eyes closed. 'Here.'
Sasuke doesn't pay anymore attention to the man until he says, 'Keep the change, Sasuke.'
He raises his head faster than he makes the drink. There is no name tag on his black shirt - for privacy's sake, he has told no one where he works, except for Itachi, and there really is no reason for anyone to know he works here. And even if they do know him, they wouldn't call him 'sexy' like this person did.
But alas, the door swung shut just as his eyes focus. He only sees the end of a blue scarf whipping out of sight.
He doesn't know how that encounter with a stranger could've shaken him so much.
It is only one person, and he is famed for his ability to keep his calm air in any situation - in university, that is. Maybe it's wearing off by now?
The bed creaks as he flops down onto it - he's slept on it for more than twenty years, it's to be expected. He twines his fingers under his head and stares at the ceiling, remembering a time when all was well in the world and he and Naruto were laying in this same position counting cracks and stains.
He wonders if the stranger who knows his name will come back again, ordering a Bloody Mary with that damned sexy voice.
The bear sighs, knowing it's near the end of this, and that it's going to be boring again - after, didn't it only start this because it's bored?
The next time someone orders a Bloody Mary, Sasuke pays more attention to this person, and when he's satisfied that it isn't a person he knows, his mind is allowed to drift again.
'Bloody Mary, please.'
He fixes the drink and glances at the person who has ordered - blonde hair, blue eyes, tanned skin, an orange jacket and a blue scarf.
The customer only grins and says, 'Hey, Sasuke. Long time no see.'
Sasuke fixes him with the most deadliest glare he has in his arsenal, and threatens, 'I get off in an hour. You are staying here, or else I will castrate you with a rusty spoon and make you eat your balls.'
He winces. 'Ouch.'
And that man with the blonde hair stays, for fear of being rendered unable to have offspring.
There is only one comment from the bear at this memory: Dun dun dun!
When Sasuke's shift ends - it is also, conveniently, closing time, so once Sasuke kicks out all the stragglers and the homeless bums, he sits on a bar stool and stares at the man.
Let's see, what should he do? Should he punch Naruto - he knew he certainly deserved it. Should he just push Naruto against the nearest wall and ravish him?
Sasuke beats the thoughts out of his head - why was he thinking like this?
Well, Naruto has certainly grown out to be...handsome, but still, this was the friend that left with no word ten years ago. Ravishing is best saved for later, yes?
He buries his head in his hand, while Naruto just gives a small smile and look at him - a lot like a dog, now that he thought about it. 'Naruto, what exactly made you come back?' he asks.
'So, you're not angry?'
'I am, but I thought I would listen to any explanations you might have before murdering your pitiful ass.'
Naruto winced. 'Still with the threats, ne?'
Sasuke only glares, waiting for an answer.
'Okay...so, you know Kisame? Your brother's boyfriend, I think he is now? Yeah, so he called me, telling me to hop on the first flight back - I was gonna come here on your birthday, as a surprise birthday present.'
'Why did he call.' Not a question.
'Uh... He said that Itachi said that you...uh...kinda...started crying and it was your first time being like that and then they were all like "what the fuck" and then Kisame called me after finding out that you never did that before, so it must've been something important and so, here I am, and if you're gonna punch me, which I admit, I completely deserve, just watch the face - because I have a lot of admirers back in Suna, so, yeah...'
Sasuke stands up after that and grabs his jacket, taking out the keys and moving to the door.
'What are you doing?'
'Oh...' Naruto fingers the end of his blue scarf - one that Sasuke gave him for Christmas a long time ago, and wonders if asking Sasuke for a place to stay wouldn't be imposing. 'Ne, Sasuke?'
'I don't have a place to stay, because I wasn't expecting Kisame's call, and I was wondering... If I can...er...stay - '
'You're sleeping on the floor,' Sasuke says, saving Naruto the embarrassment.
He grins and follows Sasuke, as happy as he was before moving to Suna.
The bear really wishes they would save his eyes the torture - watching his owner and Naruto have mad bunny-sex was not high on his to-do list.
It sighs and resigns itself to turning away and covering his ears with paws that were not at all sound-proof.
'Sasuke, you seriously still have this bear?'
'What?'...'Oh, that. What about it?'
'I thought you threw it!'
'Obviously, I didn't.'
'So you didn't forget me!'
'If I did, do you think you would be here right now?'
'Why are you staring at me like that?'
'For you to turn into a blubbering mess and say that you love me.'
'Ow! You didn't have to punch me that hard!'
'It was necessary. And what makes you think I'll be the blubbering mess? At any rate, it should be you.'
'I was being sarcastic.'
'Really? I wasn't aware.'
A/N: I'm very proud of myself, actually. This is the first time I've ever written something this long and without a prompt.
I got inspired by this bear that I won when in fifth grade - I was partners with someone, to answer various questions about our solar system (of course, they were at fifth grade level), and we won - the prize was a bear, blue, wearing an astronaut suit.
Anything else... Ah, yes! Naruto is a steamed, fish-paste cake - I looked it up, and asked this Japanese friend of mine. 'Ne' is like 'right?' in English - it's kind of like what Deidara does with his 'hm?'s. I am well aware that 'teme' is a rude version of 'You! (shakes fist)'. However, in this story, it will be used as a pet name - kind of. 'Sasuke-teme' is definitely a pet name.
Yes, I do know that what Kisame did with Naruto was not believable, but I needed something there, so...cope, yeah?
Remember to review, please! If there are any mistakes that you see, please tell me. If you flame, please remember that us fangirls make up more than half of the people here, and we will make your life a living hell. Oh, yeah! Please tell me if there are any signs of OOC-ness. I have tried my best to keep them IC, but I'm only human, yeah?