Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Author's Notes: Another story from my Spring Break spring cleaning jag. I hope you enjoy!
He wakes up with a book on his chest.
According to the book, it is a common occurrence. Every night, for as long as I can remember, I have laid my journal on my chest before I go to sleep. Hah. 'For as long as I can remember.' What is that, twenty-four hours? Twelve?
It's all there in his own neat handwriting (he knows it's his. Just knows it, although there is no evidence, and somehow he feels like there should be) and his fingers are stained with ink and soft from the constant slide of paper. He reads for hours.
They should be here soon. Get up, get dressed, don't eat. They like taking us out to breakfast.
Had the 'us' creeped me out yesterday? He wonders. Or did it seem normal? Will it seem normal again by the end of the day?
He does as the book orders, and showers and dresses and does not eat. There isn't much food here anyway, just a few apples, a few tomatoes, and ice.
The one picking us up today is Naruto. He's loud, and he was/is our best friend. Never say you don't know him. It's been written in this book every day over and over. I suppose we said so on the first day, and swore never to do it again. Write that tonight. Put this away.
He would have anyway, someone is knocking at the door, and he's at least pretty sure it's this Naruto guy he's supposed to pretend to know.
It disturbs him that he has no idea how to navigate the house he's been living in for… how long had the journal said? A year. Yes, that was it, a year. Even finding his clothes is an out-of-body experience, and the bathroom is a labyrinth of clean towels and foreign toothbrushes, all pasted over with hard tile and pastel curtains.
The blond—Naruto— doesn't even wait for an invitation before he barges in with a sunny: "Hello! I'm Naruto. Have you had breakfast yet?"
"I know a great place. Come on."
Something screams in indignation when Naruto navigates the house more easily than Sasuke ever will, handing him his keys and bullying him out the door.
The walk to breakfast is quiet he supposes. Naruto is a constant chatter in the background, but on his ears it seems like silence.
I have known him a long time, he realizes, but he says nothing. The book has already warned him about the dangers of his own tongue.
The stall they step into serves onigiri, and Sasuke cautiously tries out muscle memory. His feet lead him to the counter, his mouth orders, he sits at a table, he prays, he eats. His taste-buds cry out in horror at rice and fruit. They have tasted this too many times before.
He puts his food down, and drains a glass of water in the hope of getting the taste out of his mouth. Naruto is watching, evaluating, and Sasuke knows he has done something out of the Pattern. He should be obeying the Pattern. His head hurts.
He has broken the silent rules he has unconsciously been following all morning (Never say you don't know Them, remain quiet, be observant, and follow Their lead), and now he is being tested over them.
"I don't want to play," Sasuke says honestly, before he can stop himself or think about the words coming out of his mouth. His tongue and teeth are tricky members, always taking off before his brain could say go. "I'm memory-deprived, not stupid. I'll bet you've even heard this rant before. You have better things to do, and I'm little more than a lab rat anyway."
"You're not!" Naruto cries in a volume that seems to be utterly acceptable to him, despite the decibel he manages. "You're my best friend!"
"I'm not. I don't even know you. I have no memories of you," Sasuke explains, folding his wrapper around his food in neat lines. Something screams at him to stop, now, while he has the chance. His head pounds harder. His fingers shake with the desire to do as he is supposed to.
"That's why we're making new ones," Naruto says brightly, undaunted.
He knows, with sudden clarity, that this is where he usually backs down. Where he nods and smiles and unwraps his food and follows the Pattern all over again. This is where his spine snaps, and he acquiesces to all demands with a quiet, resigned compliance.
Not today, he thinks, and his head rages.
"I'm not," he says firmly, and gets up and walks out without another word.
(Do not, ever, fall out of pattern. It's dangerous.)
Naruto—the blond man he doesn't know—trots out after him yelling.
Sasuke thinks this is a pattern too, and he has already broken The Rule (Never say you don't know him) written for three-hundred and sixty-seven days already, so why continue in any pattern at all?
His legs tell him to run, he forces himself to walk. The blood in his veins tells him to get angry, he forces his hands loose and his eyes calm.
Naruto catches up quickly, and his body screams that it's wrong, it's not supposed to happen yet.
Sasuke smirks. "Upside being to no memories being I don't have to pay for your appetite I suppose?"
Naruto shakes his head. "I should take you to Sakura."
"Does she record my behavior?" Sasuke asks curiously.
"Um, yeah," Naruto says. "How'd you know?"
"I inferred, and I'm not going yet."
"I'm going to take a walk."
That ends the conversation, and they walk for hours. Slowly, very slowly, Sasuke's headache dissipates and he finds a new, maybe old, curiosity bubble up about the brightly colored place he has wandered before. Sasuke asks about where they are and why they're here and Naruto laughs and cracks bad jokes about the whole thing.
It's obviously killing the other man, and Sasuke suddenly realizes why he wrote The Rule three-hundred and sixty-seven times. There is something about Naruto that makes him want to play along.
"We were close, weren't we?" Sasuke asks.
"We are," Naruto says stubbornly.
Sasuke raises an eyebrow, and says nothing.
This response irks Naruto, and something inside Sasuke is deeply pleased by it. He wonders what kind of friendship he must have held with the other man if upsetting him pleases Sasuke so much.
"How'd you know we were close?"
"You're going to say that every time I ask you that, huh?"
He smirks, and it's a comfortingly familiar feeling. "It might be fun."
It is 1701 by the time they make it to hospital.
"I hate hospitals," Sasuke decides immediately, as soon as it comes into view.
He has surprised Naruto again, the blond twitches every time he does. It's kind of funny actually.
"Why?" Naruto asks. "And how did you know it's a hospital?"
"I can read, and I can smell," Sasuke says. "The smell seems to be enough of a reason."
"You want me to say I remember, don't you?"
For the first time, Naruto looks truly serious. "You have no idea what it would mean to me."
No, Sasuke thinks, I don't.
By the time Naruto has recovered, Sasuke has met with the other one he's supposed to know. She's special for some reason. Nasty right hook too, don't get her mad.
"Completely changed your patterns on us have you?" Sakura asks, pink hair strapped to her head in a high bun. "That's not nice."
"Cheer up," Sasuke cajoles. "I might be better tomorrow."
Neither of them laugh, and it's quiet for long enough that Sasuke feels awkward.
Jokes have to be carefully thought out, don't say anything that could really upset them. We'll be confused the next day when they're still sore about it.
He sits on a crinkly bed while she hovers over him with charts for an hour. He sighs when he realizes he has nothing better to do anyway.
"What do you remember last?" Sakura asks finally.
Sasuke is actually surprised to find the last thing he remembers is not black, but a white light swinging back and forth. He doesn't want to tell them that for some reason.
I'm breaking all the rules, I'm breaking all the rules, I'm breaking all the rules, he reminds himself.
"May I see your chart?" he asks, and Sakura hands it over with nary a blink.
He has always said, 'black'.
They always ask us what we saw last. I said blackness.
I, not we, I. That's a rule too. To use we, to give in early on, to dance to the tune already set out.
"I always say black," Sasuke says. "I lie. I see a white light swinging back and forth every time, but I never tell you. I only know, because the journal I keep told me so."
They stare at him for a long time, and the first intelligent thought produced is from Naruto who asks: "You have a journal?"
"I have written in it every day for three-hundred and sixty-seven days," Sasuke agrees. "It's very important."
"You have a journal?"
"You're really stuck on that, aren't you?" Sakura asks. "May we see the journal?"
"It's The Rule above The Rule."
"What are you talking about?"
"I have no idea."
They take him home, raid his house, and open the journal. They take turns reading aloud, and Sasuke decides it's very strange sounding indeed.
"There is a wall around this village, but not the one that we can see," Sakura reads. "Naruto says we can get through it without anyone knowing if we say 'Ramen foreva yo'."
"Sakura says there are tunnels beneath the village, big enough to hold all of Konoha. Only the Hokage knows where they are, and he won't tell us," Naruto says.
"The streets are twisty, and there are so many trees you can barely see them from the air. Rule: do not climb the tree by the apartment off Haza."
"Rule: Never say you don't know them."
"Rule: Never eat the food in the house."
"Rule: Never say anything about the journal."
"Rule: Never break the rules."
"Rule: Don't talk to others besides Them."
"Rule: Be careful of jokes."
"Rule: Write down everything."
"I'm a very rule-oriented person," Sasuke observes mildly. "No wonder it is hard to break them."
"What made you decide to do that?" Sakura asks, writing things down on a big yellow notepad. "Break rules, I mean."
Sasuke shrugs. "Naruto dared me."
"No I didn't!"
"Yes," Sasuke says. His head is pounding again,, more fiercely than before. The room dances in front of him. "You did. Just—just not out-loud. I'm sorry, but I'm tired. Go away."
"This is good," Sakura informs him, pausing in front of the door. "It means that maybe your memory loss isn't natural and can be recovered. We'll come back tomorrow and see hwat we can do. Try to get a good night's sleep."
He doesn't sleep, he writes. He sits and writes for hours, everything he knows about Konoha and about Sakura and Naruto and anything else he can remember. He flips to the end on a whim, and there, on the otherwise blank page, right in the middle, is another rule.
Truth cannot be known by the unpure.
Sasuke jots something down for tomorrow, puts the book on his chest, and goes to sleep.
He wakes up with a book on his chest.
Burn this book.
It's the first thing written in there, and as the pages crumble into little ashes, and They burst in and stare in horror at the blackened pages—their only hope to possible recovery if they could dissect them—Sasuke wonders if he was this crazy yesterday.
He probably was.
Author's Notes: That may have been slightly confusing. If anyone is confused, just let me know.
If you did, or did not, like it then... review!