Sappy angst and my favourite kind of Sasuke for those who remember my tiny little existence over here xD


Sweet and Low

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.

He still remembered it. The disorientating darkness that flooded his perception on his left side though the corresponding eye had been pried open and burnt with how wide it was forced. The popping noise as hard, cruel metal pierced through something small and soft. The sharp slicing pain that nearly split his head in two. And then, the horrific pull somewhere deep behind his forehead. The excruciating pound of his heart beat racing faster and faster as that tension pulled tighter and tighter and then—snap.

He wished he could have stayed quiet. He didn't know why. He had already been pathetic enough; clenching his eyes shut as hot tears poured down his cheeks, the pathetic little pleas that he wasn't sure anyone has ever really heard. But somehow that screaming he'd heard had been the worst part. Maybe worse than the fact he'd been captured in the first place. Perhaps even worse than the pain itself. It was the knowledge that he hadn't initiated it. He never recalled ordering his throat to tear itself out with that scream. He never wanted it to echo that way when he'd been reduced to whimpering while his captors whistled and admired their prize.

His brain had never given permission for the last scream to pass his lips as a door was flattened by Konoha shinobi and someone he couldn't see, touched the shoulder on his now blind side. He'd screamed at the contact, tried to fight them off as they came to treat him. He'd batted them away feebly and in the end, only when the blonde man and pink haired woman had come pushing through the small gathering, had he allowed himself to be touched. To be taken from the small, dark chamber that stank of his own blood…

When Uchiha Sasuke was a genin, he had met Morino Ibiki when he'd entered the chuunin exams. The man had stripped off his forehead protector, exposing torture wounds and scars. And Sasuke had sat, crossing his arms, and thought, 'isn't that expected?'. Torture was of course terrible, but they were ninja; strong and elite. And torture was, at some point, a part of the shinobi way of life. Sasuke had imagined Ibiki strapped to a chair, bloody and hurt but still smirking the same way he had that day. The way he'd understood it, so young and naïve, was that you were expected to sit through whatever and keep your mouth shut. Easy enough, right?

It was just pain.

And Sasuke knew all about pain.

He thought that when he encountered this sort of thing, he'd come through it with that same smirk. Brave.

But it hadn't been like that. Or he hadn't been like that.

"So what, you won't tell us then?"

"Come on, it'd be a lot easier if you did~"

"Ahaha, look at him all riled up! His pretty eyes are really red! Wow! He's kinda cute when he's lookin' mean."

"Eh- Isn't that the sharingan?"

"Oho~ Now this is interesting… Maybe we'll just help ourselves to this secret then, ne? Maybe then Uchiha san here will be more willing to talk."

Even now, Sasuke believed he should have handled himself… better.

Shouldn't have screamed like that.

The evening was still and Sasuke sat on the window ledge, watching the smoke from his cigarette make fascinating little curls against the backdrop of the blue hued village below. Behind him, a trail of clothing made a path to the window where he was now left in his singlet and boxers, pack of cigarettes set on the ledge beneath his bent up knees. He'd slipped off his shoes in the doorway; shed his heavy jounin jacket along the way, pulled off his gloves, even stepped out of his pants after a quick flick of a kunai to release the binding at his thigh holding his kunai holster close to his leg, too tired to properly unwind it. He'd even pulled off his forehead protector, letting it bounce onto the bed to his left as he climbed into the window frame. He couldn't see whether it had made it that far without turning to face the bed but keen ears told him it hadn't fallen to the floor.

All signs of the ninja had been cast away.

Except one.

Long, pale fingers rolled the cigarette idly between knuckles as the unoccupied hand rose and muddled through a thick, midnight fringe to touch fingertips to the cool plastic top of the white surgical patch over an empty eye. Beneath it, a further dressing pad was soft against scarred tissue. Sasuke brought the cigarette to his lips and drew a breath as he smoothed the line of material strings securing the cover in place, out toward his ear, tucking hair back as he went. His one remaining eye, all dark and deep, dropped to half mast as he blew a long line of smoke out into the calm through the window.

With this patch here he never felt free of the shinobi world. He carried it wherever he went. Didn't matter whether he was wearing his forehead protector or not, the Uchiha clan mark… This was almost always with him even when they were not.

Catching his fingers where the ties looped around his ear, he pulled the eyepatch one handedly from his face in a practiced motion. The dressing came with it and he reached backward and to his right to where he knew a small table to be to set it down. A weight in his chest seemed to lift and he fiddled with the hair he'd just pulled back, mussing it back into place over his missing eye, smoking slowly all the while. As he numbly twirled the tips of the strands with his middle finger and thumb, a key in the door sounded and then behind him, shoes in the doorway and footfalls on the carpet.

"A~ah, Sasuke, you make such a big deal about me making a mess during the day but then you come home at night and make your own mess. At least take your stuff off in the bathroom or something." Sasuke turned slowly to meet the man standing halfway into the room with a small smile.

"Mine is only my clothes, Naruto. Compared to what I come home to, this isn't mess at all." His voice was soft and he leant his head to the right as he smirked, more hair falling into his vision. Naruto laughed a little and murmured "true" as he stepped around Sasuke's fallen clothing before coming over to where the raven filled the open window space. Sasuke stubbed out his cigarette on the side of the outside wall while Naruto wrinkled his nose as he nudged Sasuke's propped up legs out the window to dangle, making room for the blonde to clamber in next to him. When Naruto's bulky vest awkwardly bumped against Sasuke's bare shoulder the blonde too cast his off onto the awaiting floor. His shirt and gloves came next and finally his forehead protector that he reached around and placed down next to Sasuke's eyepatch, leaving him in only his pants.

Sasuke lit another cigarette, breathed it in once deep and then passed it to Naruto who took it casually but still spluttered and steadied himself with a hand on Sasuke's thigh as he coughed at the smoke, making Sasuke chuckle gently. The blonde passed it back, wiping his mouth muttering, "the taste is always really different to the smell". The warm hand on Sasuke's bare thigh remained where it was.

Naruto was watching him. Sasuke could feel it. But it wasn't demanding so Sasuke didn't turn, simply let the blonde look. He smoked blew cute little smoke circles that he knew Naruto would appreciate as the other man turned a leg inside so that he straddled the window sill. For a long while he sat and said nothing. And then, the raven's eye slid sideways as a hand came up to touch the left side of his face, fingers slipping under the thick flop of dark hair and stroking across a cheekbone.

"Hey," the raven said quietly, the greeting holding nothing, just simply there.

Naruto was watching, his eyes liquid blue in the moonlight, face still. The hand at Sasuke's face moved to comb back his hair and Sasuke let him even as it revealed the scarred skin and closed eyelid. Sasuke took a drag and smiled as Naruto's only closed his eyes when Sasuke blew it into rings onto his face, nimble fingers still working gently, tucking the hair back behind Sasuke's ears almost strand by strand.

"Its gettin' long, ne. Especially on this side."

"Yeah.. Sakura trimmed the other side last week."

"Hmmm~"

Eventually, all that beautiful, black hair had been curled and smoothed behind Sasuke's ears by the blonde's careful fingers and what was left was Naruto cupping the other's face, palms fitted along the long, lean curve of Sasuke's jaw. The cigarette was long gone so when Sasuke reached for the sunny man it was with both hands, rising to meet and intertwine his own fingers with the ones that pressed to his skin.

"Hey," murmured Naruto, replying finally. Sasuke's cheek swelled beneath their hands in a brief quirk of his mouth and then, together, a left and a right hand moved up and over an exposed empty eye. Naruto's palm covered the space while Sasuke's left to trace patterns down the blonde's arm.

"Is it bad?" asked Sasuke suddenly; fingers coming to a stop at the inside of the other's elbow, but Naruto didn't look surprised at all. It was something Sasuke asked often. Sometimes Naruto told him 'no'. Sometimes 'yes'. It didn't really matter because Sasuke knew very well what it looked like, how bad it was. What Naruto thought of it.

Today Naruto's answer was "yes". Sasuke stared back at him without a word. Naruto's hand covering the left side of his face slid over and through his hair, back, back, back until the small hairs at the base of Sasuke's neck were between Naruto's fingers and the blonde was pulling him forward.

Their lips met closed and chilly from the night time air but when the blonde man coaxed the other's mouth open, his breath was warm and tasted vaguely of the sake served at Ichiraku's. Naruto didn't protest about the taste of smoke on Sasuke's teeth or tongue as they danced, unhurried and slow in the open window frame.

When they parted Sasuke blinked lazily once at Naruto who pulled back his lips into a wide grin, his cheeks flushed, before the raven shook his head a little and turned to slide down from the window ledge. When he hit the floor he felt light. The remaining tension in his chest eased as Naruto followed him down and they stood together in the middle of the room. The slightly shorter man reached a hand to twine a few loose strands of Sasuke's hair back that had fallen free with the kiss and smiled again.

One dark eye wandered momentarily to the eyepatch on the small table over Naruto's shoulder.

"Bedtime, Sasuke?"

Gaze back on the blonde before him and Sasuke breathed in a long breath, feeling suddenly that it wasn't the lack of eyepatch that set him free. That even if he had been wearing it; that tiny little, insignificant white piece of plastic, even if he had still been in bandages, even if it hadn't been only his eye he had lost that day, even if his screams haunted him for the rest of his life…

He'd be free as long as Naruto was by his side.

"Yeah."