"You still are blind if you see winding road
'Cause there's always straight way to the point you see"
There was no more light. There was no more darkness. There was nothing. There would always be nothing, from now on.
"You'll get used to it," his brother had said. At the time he thought it impossible, but he had.
When his vision had first started to fade he had been scared, so scared, but he had hid it well. His vision didn't fade like most, it flickered; a broken projector eating away at burning film. Days would pass and he would live in darkness, believing that this time he would forever be blind. These spells happened so frequently that when he finally did lose all sight he didn't believe it until three weeks had passed without even a grey flicker to ease his worries.
He had been blind for three years now, just having celebrated his eighteenth birthday alone. After his brother had abandoned him he had hired himself out as a secret assassin. He had turned cold and hard as ice. Even blind he was deadly. Not even the greatest hero's or ninjas dared challenge him. Rumors had it that he was a killing machine, heartless. This was, naturally, the farthest lie from the truth. He did have a heart, and it was still tender and bleeding, the only difference was that he had locked it away, encasing it in ice, hiding away in a shell. Yet there were still cracks in his amour, flaws that he had yet to know existed.
"Ankoku," a voice whispered. Heavy and rough, probably a drug user, heavy on his feet by his footsteps, a good two hundred pounds, taller than six foot by how the weight was distributed.
"Yes," he replied to the fake name, his real name had been discarded long ago. He did not bother to face the man. He wouldn't be able to see the other anyways, why bother; besides, it was unwise to show his face, even to a customer.
"I heard you were the best," the man said.
"And?" he asked. There was no change in his voice, not even the small rise at the tail end of a sentence that usually marked a question.
"Well, you see, I was wondering whether you could take care of a problem for me," the man said. Greed and dark intentions glinted in the man's voice, gold in a dark river.
"What's in it for me?" he didn't care about who he had to kill, he was just in this business to make a living, even a beggar has to start somewhere.
The man grunted and threw a bag. It whistled in the air, slowed down three fractions of an inch before slamming into the floor besides him. By the sound of coins clicking together it was easy to tell it was gold, quite a lot of it.
"Who are you so desperate to get rid of that you'll spend this sum for?" he asked. Mostly there was a long bargaining process before he was even paid a cent, someone who showed up with this much for show must really want someone dead and that someone was either really dangerous or really powerful or both.
"The seventh Hokage," the man said. "Of Konohagokure."
The name sent a flash of remembrance through him. "Konohagokure," he mused, rolling the name on his tongue.
"Yes," the man confirmed.
"Alright," he nodded, "I'll do it. Now, who is the seventh Hokage? I didn't know a new one was appointed."
The man paused. A small intake gave away his surprise. "Why, you haven't heard?"
He shook his head. "No," he said curtly, annoyed by the implications of the question.
"It's Uzumaki, Naruto Uzumaki…"
That night he laid in bed, tracing his fingers over the swirls and deformities of the wooden floor.
"Naruto Uzumaki…" he whispered. An image of a twelve year old Naruto flashed before his sightless eyes. "Hmm, who would have thought that he, of all people, would have become Hokage…"
The idea in of itself was not so hard to believe. What was hard to believe was the harsh reality that Naruto had achieved his dream before him. Once upon a time, when he was still capable of dreaming, he had dreamed of avenging his clan and then reviving it. His brother had stolen all dreams away, leaving him with nothing, not even a heart capable of harboring any feelings towards another. He was…empty.
Well, at least I know this job will be easy. I was always able to defeat Naruto when we sparred; there is no way I could lose to him now. The thought didn't fill him with joy, but it didn't fill him with dread either. He felt the same as always, hollow.
He wondered what it would be like to feel again. As though corresponding with that thought the mental image of Naruto, which he had been idly studying, faded. The color first bled out, leaving a collage of lines before the line began to unravel and slowly dissipate until he was again left with nothing.
He arose early the next morning, much earlier than the sun dared to show its smile. The moon, barely clearing the horizon, kept him company as he got dressed and placed his weapons about his person. Soon he was ready to depart.
Time to get this over with, he sighed as he made his way for the only place that he could consider home, Konoha.
It was a three days journey to Konoha. Throughout this time he walked until he was tired, are when he was hungry, slept when he could. Soon he found himself in a familiar clearing. It was the same clearing where he had trained. The sound of the wind whistling through the trees was familiar, bringing back memories of a carefree time when Naruto and Sakura hadn't abandoned him. When laughter ran freely and there seemed to be no sorrow. He could see it now, in his mind's eye, the three of them laughing, or at least Naruto and Sakura, while he rolled his eyes at their antics. The image soon faded, as all the others did and a small emotion stirred deep within, the feeling so unfamiliar it made him gasp.
He shook his head, knowing he had to stop remembering the past and carry out the mission he was assigned. Taking a deep breath he listened for anything that might be human; nothing. The town was only a small ways from here. He could be there within several minutes. The chill in the air told him that night was near, the best time to sneak in and out unseen.
A tall tree stood as his shield against the world as he hid in the leafy top. He checked his weapons, cleaning them all and making sure they were in prime condition. Then he sat back and actually thought about what he was to do.
He remembered Naruto, how could he forget that boy. Naruto was annoying, carefree, selfish, and above all infuriating, yet, Naruto was so much like himself. With both of them orphans they had shared an odd bond, not really that of friendship, but not of hate either. After he had left Naruto had gone after him to bring him back. That's when he actually started to hate the blonde haired boy. Naruto had tried to bring him back, giving no thoughts about his own wellbeing. He hated it; he hated having someone care for him. He hated having someone risk their life for him. He hated it! And yet that's what Naruto did, time and time again. Now, he no longer felt the same hate, he no longer felt any attachments to Naruto or to anything at all these days.
He stood, deeming it dark enough, judging by the cold nip in the air, to sneak into the city. Naruto probably still lived in the same house he had always, though there was a fancy place for the Hokage's. His feet whisked him across the rooftops and through back alleys until he was perched on the windowsill of Naruto's. The window was opened a crack, bringing in the sound of familiar breathing; Naruto.
He smirked as he eased the window silently up. This would be too easy. He slinked into the room and over to Naruto's bed. A knife slithered from its arm sheath into his hand. The rustling of blankets caused him freeze only an inch from the bed. A small exhale, a whimper, deep breathing. He released the breath he had been holding, Naruto was just shifting positions.
He tightened his grip on the knife, a dark beast with a wicked blade. The blankets began to rustle again, this time occupied by the batting of an eyelash. No, Naruto was waking. He lunged with the knife, catching several strands of hair as Naruto dodged.
"What the-" Naruto began, breaking off as he came at the blonde again. This time he nicked skin, the shoulder. It wasn't a deep wound, nothing deadly, but it would bleed a lot.
"Who are you?" Naruto called. He could feel the breezes that Naruto's arms stirred and glided behind the blonde. He pressed the knife to Naruto's neck, nestling it tightly beneath the chin. Naruto froze, most likely sensing the danger in movement.
"Who are you?" Naruto asked with a deadly calm voice.
He stopped, his mind catching up to his actions.
"Why do you care?" he asked, making his voice deeper then it currently was.
"Why are you doing this?" Naruto asked, ignoring the question.
"I was paid to," he said, seeing no harm in answering. Suddenly a thought tugged itself loose. This was the Hokage's house; there must be guards somewhere in here. Even if there was nobody in the house the window was wide open.
"Why are you not calling for help?" he asked. For the first time in a long time emotion pulled his eyebrows together in puzzlement.
"Huh?" Naruto asked, sounding as though he had completely forgotten that was an option. "I didn't think of that,"
"You usuratonkachi," he chuckled slightly, the sound surprising him so much he jumped.
The slight intake of breath and rise of Naruto's chest told him that the blonde was about to say something, most likely to protest, but was cut off by footsteps outside the door.
"Who is…" he muttered quietly. Naruto responded with a shrug.
"Naruto, is that you?" his eyes widened as he recognized the voice. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah," Naruto said, making him jump. "Everything's fine Sakura,"
"Mind if I come in?" Sakura asked. Her footsteps had fallen silent, indicating she was most likely waiting outside the door.
"Um," Naruto stalled. Naruto turned around, startling him so much that he let the blonde, the knife pulling away from the skin where it had been fastened.
"Quick," Naruto hissed, "Get under the blankets."
His mind whirling from the sudden turn of events he did as he was told, glad that he had already established a mental map of Naruto's room. The blankets were soft, encasing him in their warmth. He huddled against the edge of the bed where wall met mattress. The blankets rustled once more and he was surprised to find Naruto climbing in besides him, draping the blanket over his head and shoving him down near the foot of the bed. If this had been on any other occasion he would have killed Naruto right then and there, but for the time he kept quiet, trying to force his emotions back into the hole of despair they had escaped from.
"Yeah, come in," Naruto called, faking a yawn. The door creaked open, followed by light footsteps, closer together than a man's.
"Is everything alright?" Sakura asked. Her voice was a bit deeper now, not in a manly way, just not in the ear bleeding screech she used to emit.
"Yeah," Naruto lied, laughing along to add proof to his claim. He cocked his head to the side, confused by Naruto's behavior. He had just held a knife to the blonde's throat. What was the blonde trying to cover for him? Did the blonde even recognize him now?
"It sounded like someone was talking?" Sakura said, stepping even further towards them.
He began to fidget, irrationality taking over his mind, but froze as Naruto scooted even closer, practically on top of him, his face in the blonde's stomach. Even though now was so not the right time to be paying attention to such things he noticed that the blonde smelled of cinnamon and honeysuckles, two fragrances that seemed as though they would clash with each other but smelled delicious hanging on Naruto's skin. He mentally scolded himself and tuned back into what Naruto and Sakura were saying.
"Well, if that's all…" Sakura said.
"Don't worry, I'll be just fine," Naruto reassured her. He wondered if the two of them were together yet. Naruto had always liked Sakura, or acted like it. Had Naruto finally asked the pink haired girl out?
The brushing of the wind against the wood floor as the door slid shut and the small click of the latch let him know that Sakura was gone.
"The coast is clear." Naruto whispered.
He tightened his grasp on the knife, remembering why he was here. He had to hurry and kill Naruto, just get it over with.
As soon as Naruto lifted the blankets he sprung. Within seconds he was straddling Naruto, a knife, once again, to the others throat.
"So it really is you…" Naruto whispered. For some reason the blonde sounded near tears, yet happy at the same time. Why?
"Why didn't you get help?" he asked. He wanted to figure out what Naruto was doing before he had to kill him.
"I knew it was you," Naruto whispered, his words spoken tenderly. Suddenly he remembered why he hated the idiot so much. This idiot had sacrificed everything for him, for no reason. Why? Why?
"WHY?" he said harshly in hushed tones, not realizing that he had spoken out loud.
"Why what?" Naruto asked. He could imagine how Naruto would look right now, well at least if he were twelve. Right now the blonde's eyes would be puzzled, his teeth biting on his lip in confusion; he would be showing an emotion besides the usual carefree mask he hid behind.
He growled, hated himself for getting so distracted. The knife dug deeper into the skin, testing its limits as his anger and frustration grew.
Soft fingers brushed his cheek. "I'm glad you came back, Sasuke."
"What the hell is wrong with you?" the knife slipped slightly, carving out a small line of gore.
"What do you mean?" Naruto asked. The hand fell from his cheek, making a soft thud as it hit the blankets.
"I am holding a knife to you throat and all you can say is how happy you are that I'm back?" he fumed. "I'm about to kill you!"
Naruto shrugged the movement tracing through his knife. "Well, I'm okay with dying at your hands,"
Suddenly he couldn't stand it. For the first time in years the fact that he was blind infuriated him. He pulled the knife away from Naruto's throat, flicking it back into its arm back.
"What are you…?" Naruto asked, his voice spelling out his confusion.
"Shut up," he snapped.
With a feather light touch his fingers came to Naruto's cheeks. The blonde's cheek bones had gotten higher, and a bit hollowed. His fingers slowly traced the rest of Naruto's features, trying to map out his face. The blonde's nose was still small as ever, whiskers feeling like scratches in the flesh. Naruto, mercifully, stayed silent. Before long he was done with the blonde's face and his fingers were now tracing down a soft neck. Naruto's shoulders had gotten slightly broader, but still slender for a male. A small noise came from the blonde as he began to trace a slim abdomen. He ignored these slight noises. When his fingers reached a small belly button caved inward he stopped. The skin slowly began to warm until he could feel the heat forming a design. The nine tail fox…
"Sasuke?" Naruto asked. He sighed and placed a hand over the design of warmth. With his new eyes he could control the tailed beings, but he could no longer see them…
"Is everything alright…?" Naruto asked after a moment. "What's wrong?"
He stayed silent. Emotion bowed his head and brought tears to his eyes. There was no particular reason for the tears, just the waves of guilt and remorse he felt. After not having felt anything in so long, isolating himself from everything, these emotions seemed to take him over, holding him at their mercy. Once upon a time he had been able to hide all emotion yet still feel them; he was no longer that person. Now he was held at his emotions every whim, clear for the world to see.
"It's alright," a soft hand stroked his hair.
It was all too much, he couldn't do it. The tears escape and he collapsed on top of Naruto. A small intake of breath announced Naruto's surprise, but warm arms wrapped around him all the same, holding him as his emotions tore him to shreds. Time ceased to have meaning. His world was reduced to the warmth that rushed down his cheeks and the arms which acted as a shield from the rest of the world.
After his emotions had run dry, leaving him drained, he sighed, staying where he was. Naruto made no move either. For the first time since his parent's death he felt at ease, not peace exactly, but at ease. Naruto's warmth calmed him and the intoxicating smell of cinnamon and honeysuckles soothed his nerves.
He must have fallen asleep sometime after that for the next thing he was aware of was the arms that had comforted him moving away, taking their warmth In his half asleep state he was about to protest, most likely in a sound that would resemble a cats, but he caught himself and stayed silent.
"Are you awake?" Naruto asked softly.
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak, hating himself as he remembered the show of emotion that had premiered last night.
"It's morning," Naruto said. He lifted his head to where he knew the window was.
"It is?" he asked.
"Can't you see? It's bright in here," Naruto said.
He bit his lip, wondering whether or not he should lie. Finally he decided to go out on a limb. "I can't see," he confessed.
He didn't need the swish of air as Naruto turned to look at him to tell that Naruto's eyes were staring at him.
"You…are," Naruto realized.
He stayed silent, unsure what to say or do now. So far, Naruto was the only person beside his brother who knew he was blind.
"Hey," Naruto protested suddenly. "You are blind and you still managed to pin me down twice and get a knife to my throat both times?!?!"
He couldn't help it. He burst out laughing at Naruto's absurdness and it occurred to him that Naruto was the only person who could make him laugh anymore.
"What?" Naruto asked defensively. "Are you asking for a fight?"
"I think we saw pretty well who won that last night," he taunted, falling back into the same routine.
"Shut up," Naruto growled. "It was dark."
"And I'm blind," he combatted.
"Bastard," the two fell into silence. It was an odd silence, weighed down with unasked questions and heavy feelings.
"What happens now?" Naruto asked, finally breaking the silence.
He sat up, allowing Naruto to get up too. "I don't know," he shrugged. "I was supposed to kill you but," he followed that with another shrug.
There was a pause, then, "Were you really going to kill me?"
Another pause, this time a sigh too. "I…I don't know…"
"Naruto!!!!" a loud voice yelled, making them both jump. "Are you up yet?" they only had a seconds notice from when the question was asked to the door slamming open. He barely had enough time to dive under the blankets away, Naruto following in suit.
"No…" Naruto said meekly as Sakura stormed over to the bed.
"You're going to be late, again," Sakura moaned.
"You don't have to be here if you don't want to," Naruto said.
"Well, someone has to watch over you," Sakura shot back.
As they bickered back and forth while he was once again mashed up against Naruto he wondered, once again, if they were together. For some reason the thought sent an odd emotion flashing through his mind, one that he could not recognize. It was like anger, but different somehow.
Sakura snapped once more at Naruto, telling him to get changed. As soon as she had left, the door swinging shut behind her he sat up, the blankets falling off of him.
"What are you doing?" Naruto asked as he made his way to the window.
"Why?" Naruto asked, sounding disheartened. He paused, biting his lip, hands on the window sill.
"What's your relationship with Sakura?"
"Huh?" Naruto asked confused.
"Why is she living in your house? Are you dating?" he asked, keeping his voice a deadly calm though emotions he could not recognized raced through him.
"What?!" Naruto asked in shock. "No, why would you think that?"
"She's living in your house," he said simply.
"Yeah," Naruto said. "That's true, but we're not dating or anything."
"Why not?" he asked, a bit harshly, confused by Naruto. "You've had a crush on her since we were kids!"
"Yeah, well…" Naruto laughed nervously.
"Did she turn you down?" he asked.
"No, well, I kind of turned her down…"
This caught him by surprise. That dope had been in love with Sakura for forever. Was he hearing correctly?
More nervous laughter from Naruto, "Well, she asked me out a year ago, but I said no."
"Why?" great, he was more confused than ever.
"Well, because…" Naruto sighed. "She wanted me to give up on you…"
His head snapped up, hands trembling slightly in shock.
Naruto continued, "At first I thought she was just trying to make me stop, that she didn't really like me. But then she decided to become my personal guard, which is the reason she lives in my house. At some point, seeing her work so hard, I realized that she really did love me."
He pulled his eyebrows together. Why did this idiot have to be so confusing? "Then, why aren't you together?"
"Well…" Naruto laughed nervously again. "I don't know. Thinking logically, we should be…"
At those words a small part of him felt crushed. His shoulders slumped, he didn't know why he felt so sad, he just did.
"I guess it's because," Naruto continued softly. "I realized I didn't like her anymore,"
He froze in surprise, not sure he was hearing right. Naruto… not like Sakura…?
"Sasuke…?" Naruto asked softly.
"Yeah…" he said, his voice barely above a whisper, scared yet excited for Naruto's next words.
"Do you have to go?" Naruto asked. It was like those words threw his emotions into turmoil. He knew he shouldn't stay, there was no reason for him to stay, but he wanted to.
"Naruto…" he whispered, unsure how to answer the blonde question. Why did he ever wish that he could feel? Emotions were just too confusing, making his body react in foreign ways.
"Stay," Naruto murmured. "Please?" warm arms wrapped around him, causing his breath to catch and his heart to pound.
"What… what are you doing?" he demanded, jerking away from the embrace, trembling slightly with the emotions running through him.
"Sasuke…" Naruto said, sounding sad. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing," he said gruffly. He turned to the blonde, planning on saying farewell but got cut off.
"Why are your eyes still closed?" Naruto asked.
"I'm blind, I have no reason to open them," he said harshly. He hadn't opened his eyes in three years. He was afraid that is he did he would discover that he could see, but then again if he couldn't he was even more afraid.
"Will you let me see them?" Naruto asked. "Please, just once before you leave,"
The small plead in Naruto's voice broke down all arguments that had originally sprung into his mind. "Alright…"
He heard Naruto step closer, could smell his sweet scent or honeysuckle and cinnamon. Slowly his eyelashes fluttered. Then nothing as his eyes flew open. He sighed in disappointment, casting his eyes around the black space sadly.
A gentle hand at his cheek drew his eyes to in front of him out of reflex. The black faded into grey, Naruto's outline a black shadow in his sight. He squinted, trying to make out any details of Naruto's face. As he did the grey lightened, showing more and more detail until Naruto was standing before him, bathed in light.
He gasped. Not because he could see, but the tears he was surprised to see glimmering in Naruto's eyes. Naruto almost never cried, or at least not in front of him, so why was the blonde so close to tears now?
"I guess this is goodbye," Naruto said. The blonde's voice upbeat and happy, but he was holding back tears, eyes nearly closed with the effort.
"Naruto…" he whispered in surprise.
"Goodbye… Sasuke," Naruto said, voice breaking on his name. He watched as the blonde dropped his head, tears appearing in the ground.
Without thinking, just wanting to stop Naruto's tears, he cupped the blonde's chin, bring his head back up.
"Sasuke?" Naruto breathed once in surprise before their lips connected.
He could feel Naruto's initial shock, one that mirrored his own, but soon he deepened the kiss, encouraged by Naruto's willingness.
The kiss lasted until they were pulled apart by the mutual need for air. Naruto looked at him in shock, cheeks slightly flushed.
"Sasuke…" Naruto said, a small pant elongating his words. "What was that?"
"I don't know," he shrugged, a bit winded himself.
"What do you mean you don't know?" Naruto asked in shock. "How the hell could you not know? That-"
He cut off the ranting blonde, pulling Naruto close to him. Naruto fell silent for the moment and hesitantly hugged him back. He buried his face in the blonde hair, bringing his lips close to Naruto's ear.
"I don't know what that was," he repeated. "But I think it means I love you."
He heard Naruto's gasp of breath and felt it as the blonde tightened his grip.
"Do you mean it?" Naruto asked, his voice ragged.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I just said I loved you. That means I mean it, doesn't it?" he tried to pull away so he could see Naruto's face but was kept locked in place by the blonde.
"Do you mean? 'I love you'. Did you mean it?" Naruto demanded.
"Why?" he asked, confused by Naruto's behavior.
"Please, don't play with my heart like this," Naruto pleaded, the sound almost bringing him to tears. "I can't take it. Only tell me that you love me if you mean it."
He gasped before hugging the blonde even closer. How could he have been so blind not to see that the one in his arms was the point he sought?
"Naruto," he whispered passionately, kissing the blonde again.
Naruto offered minimal resistance, falling quickly into the kiss. He pulled away, enticing a small mew of protest from the blonde.
"I love you," he said, staring into the swirling blue depths of Naruto's eyes.
"Sasuke," Naruto whispered. "You're eyes, you can…see…"
"Yes, he smiled. He leaned his forehead against Naruto's, closing his eyes in bliss. "Now that I have found what I have been searching for."