Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
"If my devils are to leave me, I'm afraid my angels will take flight as well,"- Rainer Maria Rilke.
Sasuke sat in the office, hands gripping his knees. He was anxious, though he liked to believe the two ANBU guards assigned to him were none the wiser. His eyes roamed the room, taking in the tiny details, the minute sounds. A mouse was scuffling beneath a crack in the floorboards, forming its bed out of pieces of the threadbare carpets, as tiny drops of rain trickled down the windowpanes. He looked out the window at the overcast sky, its pewter tinge threatening a humid lightning storm.
Sasuke remembered the Fire Country only had thunder and lightning in the summer. He recalled the first time he heard the boom of thunder when he was more a baby than a child, shaking at the way it sounded like the heavens being ripped apart. He'd been so scared, and his brother so kind.
He felt himself go red with embarrassment, as if the ANBU could see through his facade and into his soul, into his never ending grief. Everything seemed to remind him of Itachi, and for eight years that man had meant everything to him, be he an angel or devil in Sasuke's mind. A part of him still heaved with resentment towards Konoha, although he understood that the people who orchestrated his family's death were either dead or placed under investigation by the Hokage herself. It was likely they'd get off without punishment, as it had been in the best interests for Konoha, and the thought made him seethe.
Sasuke was drawn out of his reverie when the door clicked open. Whoever he was to speak to him entered the room. He understood the Hokage's logic in ordering counselling, and he had yet to be given any medication, although he knew it was all part of the deal; if he complied he may be able to have a semi-normal life, but if he didn't he'd be on his own, and hunted like a rabid fox on the loose for the rest of his days. He didn't really want that, but truth be told, he had no idea what he wanted. His life had stagnated, his mind as bleak as his motivation.
"You two can leave us," The voice, an authoritative female, commanded, and Sasuke turned his head in puzzlement as he realised who it was. "Someone get me a black coffee before you go,"
Tsunade stared down at him as she moved around the desk and sat before Sasuke. Her eyes were fixed with foreboding as she saw the boy before her make a face she'd much rather slap than counsel.
"Uchiha Sasuke," She had with her a folder, adorned with his name. She opened it up to reveal copious documents which appeared to be from other nations' leaders, and Kage. She highlighted one in particular. It looked like an execution warrant. "This is from the Raikage, who still wants your head served on a platter,"
If Sasuke was meant to be moved by this, he showed little to no indication. He was aware of his predicament, but would be damned if he showed her any sign of fear. He stared back at her with defiance.
"But, I have made a proposition. I am to be taking your case, and that means handling the psychiatric assessment that we agreed to in your tribunal," She placed it back in the folder. "They have agreed to be lenient, considering your involvement in taking down Uchiha Madara and Yakushi Kabuto. We have also considered your age, and the nature of your childhood. Part of the settlement is that I conduct and control your psychiatric therapy,"
She stared him down, ran her eyes all over him, evaluating. He felt cold, but forced his body not to shiver. Like hell he'd talk to this harpy, and like hell she even wanted to know.
"You should know, however, that this is also because I care for Haruno Sakura and Uzumaki Naruto, the two people who care about you most and seem to have faith in you," Tsunade continued, until a knock at the door came and her coffee was brought in by one of the ANBU. He hurried away, his mask betraying nothing despite Sasuke sensing a certain air of mocking from the other nin. He turned his attention back to Tsunade, only to see her glaring at him more pointedly than ever.
"I am not know for my patience, but in the interest of people I care about and by the gracious understanding of foreign dignitaries I'll make this concession once," She said, enunciating the latter part of the sentence with all the implied inconvenience she could muster. "You'll be coming to visit me three times a week, but for now we'll need to talk about how you're feeling at this moment and what medication you'll need,"
"I don't need medication," Sasuke said tersely, and scowled.
"I'm the medical professional here, Sasuke. You'll take what I give you, as was our arrangement," Tsunade replied, and took out her pen and paper. "I don't expect you to be open with me at first, and believe me I know how long it'll take for you to address you problems,"
What the fuck do you know? He wanted to say it, and he knew the expression on his face told all as Tsunade tensed with aggravation. The rain's pitter-patter gradually became heavier, until it was near torrential and despite the extra noise Tsunade's voice sliced through the cacophony.
"I'm attempting to be sympathetic, Sasuke. Just you being here is a great cause for concern given your neurotic behaviour, and I know you feel threatened by having your chakra sealed, but you should understand that deciding to come back, despite your grievances, was the hardest step. You should feel proud that you've finally made the correct choice,"
Sasuke's face was like a mask, perfectly still, his mouth a grim line. Only his eyes belied the mind that churned beneath his disguise. Orochimaru had once said his eyes never stopped looking, like they saw every detail despite personal smokescreens and concealment. His eyes made everything gossamer. And at that moment, his eyes gleamed with the fire of irritated passion.
"Why would a Senjuu give a shit about an Uchiha, you old hag?" He spat, with all the contempt he could muster.
Tsunade took the insult with little care. She threaded her hands together and crouched across the desk on her elbows.
"Personally, Sasuke, you can throw away your life for all I care. But there are people who would die for you, who'd throw their own lives away for you, and by hell am I going to let you put any of them in that situation ever again," She said, with as much venom as possible. "Unfortunately, they care too much and are too stupid to call it a day sometimes, but no matter how ill-placed their faith seems, I trust their judgement and if they think you can be rehabilitated then I will see to it that you become a functioning citizen once again,"
Sasuke's eyes narrowed in insolence. Tsunade simply shook her head lightly and sipped her coffee.
"Now, I have some questions, and I would like them answered as honestly as possible, please," She began. "How are you sleeping?"
Sasuke remained silent, his lips pursed.
"Well, I can tell from the bags under your eyes and your pallor that you haven't slept properly for weeks. I can also tell that you're skin and bones, so I don't need to ask how your appetite is. How are your moods?"
"Why are you bothering?"
"I don't like to repeat myself, Uchiha. How are your moods?"
Sasuke once again kept silent and simply looked at her perplexed.
"I know you're not idiot, Sasuke, the sooner you comply the faster this process will be,"
"My mood is shit," He said tritely.
"Excellent. How often do you see or speak to your friends?"
Friends? Sasuke recoiled inwardly. The word sounded so foreign to him.
"Either Naruto or Sakura are around me as much as possible. If they're not there Kakashi comes round, or Sai-" Sasuke's eyes twitched at the mentioning of that bastard's name. "-is there,"
"So you're rarely alone?"
"Well, I'm never alone," He snapped, like she was an idiot.
"They don't count, but your friends do. Any physical afflictions we should be aware of?"
Sasuke shook his head. Unbeknownst to him, Tsunade had already evaluated his family's medical history, as firstly, she didn't want to bring that up too soon, and secondly, because Sasuke probably wouldn't know much anyway.
"Any problems with drugs or alcohol?" Tsunade looked up from here paper, knowing Sakura had already talked to her about Sasuke's drinking habit.
"No," Sasuke lied.
"That's not what I've heard. That's the worst form of self-medication and your first project for me will be to curb that impulse,"
Hypocrite, Sasuke sneered. He'd heard all about the three sannins' consumption of alcohol from Orochimaru himself. They all drank like fish.
"I know you were in the... care of Orochimaru for three years, were you ever abused sexually by him or anyone else whilst you were there?"
"He never touched me," Sasuke snapped indignantly. The creepy bastard had given him some rather disconcerting looks though, but he seemed to enjoy teaching him jutsu and watching his fights more.
"He had a somewhat disturbing history, as you might imagine," Tsunade said, quite relieved herself that she wouldn't have to investigate further. "Those are the main things I wanted to get out of the way, as obviously I know the majority of your history from your younger days are in this file. I have reports on how you appeared towards your teammates when they met after you assassinated Danzou. From what I can tell, you're suffering from paranoid delusions, thinking everyone was an enemy and out to harm you or steal your doujutsu. You're most probably still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the night your family was killed. In all likelihood, you're also suffering from grief and shock. The last year has been turbulent for all of us, especially you. In order for you to be more settled I'm going to prescribe you some anti-psychotics, which will also help your appetite and sleep. I'm also going to have Kakashi start training with you, but without chakra. If we get these things sorted, your paranoia should decrease and your moods will be less neurotic,"
Tsunade scribbled furiously, her pen generating reams of inky sentences Sasuke sneakily tried to peek at, much to no avail.
"Thanks to Orochimaru, your dose needs to be stronger than most, given the fact he's practically immunised you to everything under the Sun..." She stopped and handed him the prescription. "Give that to one of the ANBU and they'll sort that out for you,"
Sasuke took the prescription and stared at it. He had already made up his mind he wasn't going to take them.
"And I've asked Naruto, Kakashi and Sakura to supervise you when you take your medication," She said, fixing him a knowing look. "Now this was an introduction of what I'm offering you. Remember that everything you say is confidential, unless I believe you will harm yourself or someone else. If I am concerned, I will intervene. The next time we meet, I will begin to ask you about things I know you won't be able to talk about. You will feel uncomfortable, but after a while talking about things will make them easier to face. You'll be able to make sense of them, and stand up to them, and you'll become a better person for having the courage to change your life. You're still young, and never forget that,"
Indeed, Tsunade knew Sasuke's age was one of the few things he still had to cling onto. So was the fact he was the last of a very valuable bloodline. But he was smart too, pretty much a genius. He knew how to manipulate situations, had lost control too many times to count, so much so that his life could have been forfeited as his only step to redemption. Most young people seemed to forget they were nothing more than civilised killers, born and bred to a world of flimsy morals and bloody endings. Sasuke saw clearly, whilst other still looked through rose-tinted glass.
"See you Thursday, Uchiha," Tsunade said, and walked out the room holding her coffee cup. Sasuke looked nothing more than a rebellious child who wanted to do things his way, just as he'd always done. But perhaps the greatest lesson was for Sasuke to realise his being was only a knife's edge away from falling into the deep precipice of insanity and loneliness. He was losing himself, and the only memories he'd ever hung onto were lost in the history of this Village.
Sasuke made his way back to the apartment through the icy bullets of rain, letting the wet soak through his clothes. He was chill to the bone when he arrived, and was quick to pull his clothes off ready for a shower.
The apartment was spacious, one of the newly designed properties from the hands of the Mokuton-user himself, Tenzou (or "Yamato", as it were). It was large enough for both him and Naruto to live in, although Sasuke would have preferred to be alone. They had a balcony, and that was where his ANBU retinue had situated themselves, both facing the rain, one smoking a cigarette and the other reading the paper when he last checked.
The shower was soft and soothing, and Sasuke revelled in this rare moment of privacy. He felt more alone with the ANBU guard than on his own. They were an unsettling presence, and on numerous occasions had displayed the intent to kill him, if he were to step out of line. One instance involved Sai, who had incensed Sasuke to point of strangling him. Sai, confused but smart enough to make a run for it leapt out the kitchen window. When Sasuke had followed him, with all the malice and hatred he could muster, he was stopped rather abruptly half-way through the same window with the sleek blade of a katana cool against the skin of his neck. After a full inquiry, it was decided that Sasuke and Sai should never be alone in the confines of one room ever again.
As the water washed over his skin, Sasuke couldn't even recollect what had made him so angry. Sai had a habit of getting under his skin; the buffoon had the tact of a dog that wasn't house-trained. Sasuke couldn't stand him one little bit, especially that forced, fake smile. Naruto and Sakura reassured him with all the sincerity in the world that the idiot would grow on him, that they would be friends, but Sasuke couldn't see it.
He heard the door open beyond the shower. That would be Naruto, coming back for lunch before he went out again. Apparently he had taken Hinata out for a walk; the gushing of a loved up Naruto was certain to follow, and a far too detailed description of what Hinata's breasts felt like and how silky soft Hinata's hair was and how great her arse looked... The bastard wouldn't shut up about her.
Sasuke lathered shampoo in his hair and swiftly washed it out again. He dried himself and rubbed the towel roughly through his hair, before patting it down so it would dry tidier than usual. He then slipped on a fresh pair of black trousers and a t-shirt, before stepping outside to be greeted by sickeningly jovial Naruto. He was soaked, the rain water darkening his orange attire, but his shit-eating grin made Sasuke want to groan.
"Morning Sasuke!" The blond grinned, ear-to-ear. "Guess what?"
Sasuke stared with narrowed eyes and a scowl.
"Hinata's coming over tonight, you know what that means!"
"No," Sasuke said and shook his head. "You're not fucking in the next room to me, no way in hell,"
Naruto looked aghast with shock. "Hinata's a lady. She does not "fuck", she makes makes love,"
"Since when did you become so crass, you were always up yourself but at least you had some manners?"
"Possibly because I no longer have the energy to give a shit," Sasuke snapped, before situating himself on the sofa, in front of the TV. He switched it on, and began watching whatever flashed across the screen. It appeared to be some sort of day-time soap almost so inane it should banned from public consumption, but anything was good enough to keep Sasuke's mind off Naruto possibly having sex in the room next door.
"I'm making some ramen, you want any?" He called from the kitchen, the kettle boiling in the background. He never bothered to ask the ANBU, they always brought their own supplies, having learnt that Sasuke wasn't even the slightest bit hospitable.
"Do I ever want ramen?" Sasuke sighed, watching the attractive female lead cry into the arms of her terminal boyfriend.
"I saw Tsunade-obaachan just now, she told me you've got to eat and I "must use every means necessary" to force you to eat," Naruto said, and Sasuke could hear him pour the water into his frightful cup-ramen. He walked up to the sofa, cup in hand, already shovelling the noodles in his mouth. He slurped them up loudly. "How did today go?"
Sasuke didn't particularly feel like talking about it. "It went shit,"
"Who's the person you gotta talk to? Anyone we know?"
"It's the Hokage,"
"Really?" Naruto exclaimed, with genuine shock. "I can't really see her as the therapeutic-type..."
"She's not," Maybe that's what Sasuke needed? He needed to make sense of things, not someone with wells of saccharine tears and over-flowing with empathy. Tsunade was a hard woman, but also intelligent and down-to-Earth with years of experience. She had her own problems, and she knew the madness of grief.
"Who'd have thought?" Naruto mused, and then stuffed more noodle-broth into his mouth. Afterwards, he preceded to hand some chopsticks across to Sasuke and then dangled the cup in front of him. "Here,"
Sasuke turned his face sideways and gave Naruto an obstinate glare. "What?"
"You've gotta eat something, have the rest of these," He beamed with all the good intention only someone as daft as he could manage. Sasuke seethed as if Naruto had just spat in the cup.
"I'm not touching them,"
"You got to, Baachan's orders,"
"I am not touching them you-" Before Sasuke could finish Naruto descended upon him, using the bulk of his weight and the Uchiha's lack of chakra to his advantage. He wrestled with him until Sasuke was practically frothing at the mouth with anger.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Sasuke struggled, but Naruto never relented. The blond didn't seem too happy about doing this either, knowing Sasuke was disadvantaged without his chakra, but his weight-loss was something that needed to be remedied. Besides, he should have realised what a big deal it was to share his precious ramen. He took the fresh chopsticks and gathered up a large clump of noodles, then dangled them in front of Sasuke's face.
"If you don't eat them, I'll fart on you... again," The threat was very real, and Sasuke had to shower three times before he felt clean again, last time that happened.
"Fine," He snapped. "Just get the fuck off me you fat bastard,"
"I am not fat," Naruto stated, and moved off the boy below him. He handed him the cup ramen and the chopsticks. Sasuke stared at it like it was rotten, the artificial smell making him queasy. He ate it as quickly as humanly possible, swallowed and then ran to the bathroom.
Naruto smiled as he heard the tap running, and teeth being brushed. At least Sasuke's gutter mouth was better than him not talking at all.
The purplish orange of dusk washed over the village that evening, not a cloud left in the sky after the morning's stormy outburst. The damp air was filled with the summer scents of jasmine, honeysuckle and roses. Naruto was gone, and Sasuke was now alone (except for the ANBU, of course, one of which was now snoring and the other still reading the paper). The boy came and went, always as boisterous and loud as a torrential summer storm. He was sometimes too much for Sasuke, but at least he gave him someone to talk to and relieve the day's monotony. Sasuke was only allowed out of the apartment for times requested a week in advance, so most days of the week he was bound to these four walls.
Kakashi occasionally came round, and lately he allowed Sasuke access to some of his most treasured possessions; his Icha Icha series. It was this Sasuke was reading, his face never changing as he swept along the highly pornographic drama Jiraiya had concocted. There was little literary merit, but he had to admit the old pervert could write a compelling story. He was half-way through his second reading, having given up on television.
Truth be told, he wanted the hours to melt into minutes, because Sakura was coming over later to make dinner. In these past few months, Sasuke's body had surprised him by feeling a twinge of excitement when thinking of Haruno Sakura. He'd felt such things before, but never acted upon them, and it was something he definitely wasn't so sure about. These feelings had begun when he was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper. Sakura was making scrambled eggs, her back to him. She reached out to grab a pan from a high shelf, making her marvellously toned backside stick out in such a way it had captivated the Uchiha. He didn't mean to stare, but his eyes couldn't help themselves as they roamed along the sun-kissed skin of her toned legs, and the way her top creased along the seam of her breasts. Maybe it was the fact Sasuke was too alone with his thoughts and she was the only girl he saw regularly, but he couldn't get her out of his head for the entire day, let alone at night when he couldn't help himself as he ached for her.
He knew not what to do when he was alone with Sakura; he wasn't sure how to conduct himself. Sasuke found the easiest thing to do was be as aloof as possible, so maybe she wouldn't detect his silent feelings and anxieties. Even though he waited and secretly craved to be alone with her, just to watch her, he couldn't seem to breach all the walls he'd made between them. He'd tried to kill her, and the shame was unimaginable. He was bemused by how any of them could ever forgive him, especially Sakura, not after what he was prepared to do to her in his frenzied state.
He had been a monster, and the thoughts running through his head would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Without thinking about it, he went to the kitchen and poured himself some sake. He drank it cold from the cup, feeling the burn warm his throat. It comforted him, made his heart calm as soon as it flowed through his system. His immediate compulsion was to clean the kitchen and soon set to work where Naruto had sloppily managed to get bits of ramen everywhere. He sprayed the disinfectant all over the work surfaces, even the clean ones and began to scrub. Truth be told, Naruto never did housework. He didn't seem to care, and he'd probably do crap job of it anyway, so the cleaning was mainly down to Sasuke. He didn't stop until the sink practically glistened with cleanliness, and after he was done with the kitchen he did the bathroom, and then unleashed the Hoover on the carpet in the lounge.
Sasuke had no idea, but the ANBU turned to look as he began to use the nozzle on the sofa. They then turned to each other and shook their heads.
Sakura walked through the streets of Konoha, the scent of fresh, damp earth and dinner cooking filled the air with myriad of smells and aromas. It made her hungry, and she was quick in her step towards Naruto and Sasuke's apartment, a small, contented smile gracing her lips. Since Sasuke returned and peace came to the Five Nations, the days seemed a little brighter and the hospital less of a chore. She was more interested with what people had to say, and it seemed like a giant weight was lifted from her shoulders. There was a spring her step, just like Naruto's and if her suspicions were correct, Kakashi's too.
The arrangements were still flimsy, and Sasuke had made some pretty infamous enemies for himself over the years, many of whom resided in their fair Village, but he was back. He was with them again, and he was trying, he really was. He was agreeing to all the higher-echelons' terms, albeit with a candour that was perceived as morose misery, and perhaps a couple of habits he needed to stifle, but he was making some progress.
Sakura silently wished she could sit-in on the counselling sessions with Tsunade just to see his mask crack, to see him grieve and reconcile with the past. She was not foolish enough to think he would be perfectly healed, that the painful memories would ever recede, but he could have a life again, and this time no one would ever let him fall so deeply into despair ever again.
Tsunade had been correct in calling her a naive, because maybe she was. But Sasuke needed their optimism, to know that things could only get better. She was foolish, she knew that, but there was a smile on her face and a radiance in her complexion so blatant her mother thought she was like a different girl, or rather the twelve-year-old girl she used to see giggle and blush at the dinner table whenever she mentioned his name.
Suddenly, those terrible moments didn't seem so bad; the song of Sasuke's chidori didn't seem so malicious, so hurtful. And she was sure Naruto and Kakashi felt exactly the same way. The road was still long, and there would be many set-backs, but they'd be a team again, a team like an extended-family which encompassed Yamato and Sai too.
They were all together again, and for nearly four years that's all Sakura had ever wished for.
End of Chapter One.
Tune in next time for some more Tsunade wisdom.
This is happy story, with some blips and angst along the way, and of course the sex. Can't write a good love story without the smexing.
Thanks for reading.