Sasuke was six. Only six years old when he'd met one of the most dangerous people he would ever meet, and he didn't even realize it.
He'd been walking through the forest to try and find the training grounds his brother went to sometimes, and he'd found the man. Sasuke had been scared at first, even though the man was sleeping, but gotten up the courage to come closer and poke the man. Of course, being six, curiosity was what helped him call up the courage in the first place. Why?
The man had green hair.
Sasuke had only ever seen one person with hair that weird, a girl his age with pink hair, which he'd never seen anywhere else. She had been crying a few times when he'd seen her at the park, because other kids had been picking on her, but he couldn't help her even though he'd wanted to; he had been on his way to train with Itachi, and the girl came from a civilian family, so talking to her would be weird anyway. There were some women he'd seen before with purple hair, and he and some other Uchiha looked like they had a bluish tint, and there was that one ANBU he'd seen that had silver hair, even though his parents told him that the man barely twenty years old by then. Wait… what was Sasuke thinking about, again…?
Oh yeah! The man had green hair! And Sasuke had never seen anyone with green hair before! So he walked over and waited to see if the man would wake up soon. After about fifteen minutes, he grew bored and decided to try throwing shuriken at the weird tree with the gnarled branches until the man with three swords woke up.
So he did just that.
Zoro cracked open an eye. The world had a certain hazy quality to it, as if he was in a dream. Considering he was no longer on that tiny rowboat with the random boy, Luffy, that he'd been blackmailed into working for, a dream was a likely occurrence. He must have fallen asleep while meditating again.
Except for that this didn't feel like that kind of sleep. Zoro slept a lot, so when he slept in a certain way, he knew what it would feel like. If he fell asleep while meditating, he didn't dream, and he was still somewhat aware of the outside world. If he fell asleep outright, he sometimes dreamt and still had some semblance of alertness about him. Right now, it almost felt as if his mind was split in two: half of it was following the normal patterns for when he fell asleep and keeping track of any possible attacks, while the other half was here, wherever here was.
There was a kid a few meters away from him, throwing… something at a gnarled old tree that looked kind of like an upside-down octopus on a pole. The kid couldn't have been older than seven or eight, though he was definitely at least five. His hair looked like a duck's butt.
Heh. The kid wasn't half-bad, at least not for his age. He may not have been getting bulls-eyes, but he was hitting the target at least half the time from a considerable distance. Still…
"Move you left foot out a bit." Zoro called out. The kid froze and spun around; he grinned.
"You're awake!" The kid said excitedly.
Zoro raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I am. What of it?"
The kid come closer, and a curious and serious look crossed his face. "Can I ask you something?"
Zoro felt an urge to laugh at the kid's expression, but quashed it. "Sure."
"Is your hair really green or is it just dye?" the kid's face was pinched.
Zoro snorted. "Is that all? Yeah, my hair is naturally green. Here's a hint: check the color of peoples' eyebrows to see if their hair is natural." He normally would have gutted any person that asked about his hair, but this was a little kid.
"Oh. Okay. What about the swords?"
"What about them?"
"Why are there three?" The kid pointed at the swords in question.
"I practice a style that takes three swords, called Santoryu." Zoro told him.
"Oh." The kid frowned. "Why are you sleeping out here?"
"So many questions." Zoro rolled his eyes. "I don't know why I'm here, because it definitely isn't where I fell asleep."
The kid just nodded, before sticking his hand out for a handshake self-importantly. "Uchiha Sasuke."
Zoro quirked an eyebrow, before shaking the little kid's hand with an amused smirk on his face. "Roronoa Zoro."
From then on, that particular training ground became Sasuke's favorite. After the two had introduced themselves, Zoro had explained where he came from and how he was here in a dream. Sasuke decided that the man's mind was travelling through dimensions in his sleep. This was, completely by accident, a very accurate assumption. Zoro would find himself in that clearing whenever he fell asleep, so Sasuke kept visiting that particular training ground whenever Itachi couldn't train him in hopes that it was during one of Zoro's naps. After all, Zoro told some of the most interesting stories Sasuke had ever heard, and he claimed that they were true!
After Sasuke mentioned once that three months had passed since they'd met, they tracked the time on their own, and found that time passed far more slowly in Zoro's world than with Sasuke. When four and a half months had passed with Sasuke, only three weeks (and a single new crewmember) had passed for Zoro. This meant that something that happened often for Zoro, like his frequent wounds, was rare for Sasuke. This, of course, lead to Sasuke panicking whenever Zoro ended up in the clearing covered in blood. Zoro just wrote it off and told him not to worry, because it happened a lot. Sasuke continued to worry quietly anyways, especially if he thought that Zoro was unconscious in both worlds. Being awake in Sasuke's world meant REM for Zoro. Being asleep in both meant deep sleep. Being hazily conscious meant he was unconscious in his own world. Being unconscious in both, they theorized, meant a coma.
Eventually, Sasuke came to regard the green-haired man as a mentor, telling him things almost as he would to a journal, though not nearly as much as he told Itachi, of course. Zoro was still convinced that this was nothing more than an extended dream that went from one nap to the next, but humored the boy despite that.
It took five and a half months for Zoro to reach Alabasta, and that meant almost two and a half years passed for Sasuke. Less than a week after Zoro left Alabasta, he found himself in the clearing, with a morose Sasuke. He hadn't seen the boy for several days by his own time, which meant at least a few weeks for Sasuke.
"Oi, kid." Zoro called, never referring to Sasuke by name. "What's wrong?"
"Everyone…" Sasuke spoke softly, voice shaking slightly. "Itachi, he…" His voice broke.
"He killed the entire clan except me."
Zoro felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
A/N: I got this idea while in the shower. I come up with a lot of ideas in the shower. This is one of the few that I actually wrote.
This is going to be fairly short. I was originally going to make it a four part story, with rather short chapters, but I may choose to add a few chapters on top of that. Yes, the Phoenix Corporation is responsible for this, and no, they aren't going to be showing up more than peripherally (AKA- something like Sasuke mentioning that he saw someone weird in town that day).