Empty, empty, all the world is emptied and gone... A look into Sasuke's mind and the thoughts that plague his dreams and haunt his decisions. Spoilers for the Uchiha family, takes place before Chuu...
/Had we but world enough, and time.../
Sasuke thinks he can feel the world revolving sometimes, just sometimes, when he is laying absolutely still on the grass with his eyes closed and his limbs sprawled across the field haphazardly, listening to the harsh breathing of his blond team-mate who has also collapsed alongside him and didn't yet have the strength to breathe properly and therefore couldn't be filling Sasuke's world with his words; words, and words, and words of absolutely nothing at all which pierces through the silence of Sasuke's world and fills him with a deep well of guiltiness that he does not understand.
Sometimes, he would take a moment and a breath of that afternoon air, almost able to feel the life in the earth underneath him, and then open his eyes to be treated to the view of blue, blue eyes and the rays of sunlight shining brightly on his face, and sometimes he wouldn't know whether he was looking at Naruto or whether he was looking to eternity.
But then sometimes when the sun was not so clear and the sky not so bright, and the green of the grass not so tangible and close to his person, he would think with a malicious glee that this was the life he had chosen, and that he was finally in complete control of his destiny- just watching his two team-mates behind their back and smiling enigmatically when they could not see. But oh, Kakashi would sometimes be able to see that smile; Kakashi would see and he would narrow his visible eye and stare at Sasuke for just a few moments before the boy dared to return that stare with an empty one of his own.
Sasuke had learned, after all, that time and patience would be enough to wear away at a person and that eventually, if he were patient enough, they would be the one to look away first because no one wanted to look into empty eyes like his.
Empty, empty, all the world is emptied and gone...
This was his world. The world filled to the brim with Sakura's sharp indignation in the mornings when "Kakashi-sensei is always late!" and Naruto's rambunctious laughter (how he hates that laugh; hates how that boy can laugh in the face of loneliness and adversity because Sasuke refuses to laugh, no matter how much Naruto wheedles at him, because Sasuke will always remember the bloodbloodblood spilled over the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and splashed over Itachi's face when his brother turns and-) because he has made the world he is in. This is what he has chosen, and he mustn't loose control at a time so pivotal and he mustn't lose himself to the sight of the two of them, both turning to look at him (/seewatchlistenfeel/) and Sakura would smile and wave, and Naruto would grin and say "Sasuke-bastard is so slow today!" and Sakura would hit Naruto over the head for saying something mean about Sasuke and Sasuke would almost be tempted to stop for a moment.
Just a moment. A moment to admire the scene before him, because he knew the time he had with them was drawing close to a finish like the draining dregs of sand in an hourglass. But he couldn't afford to appreciate the memory.
And a moment later, the peaceful scene would be interrupted when Sasuke manages to insult Naruto again, and the two of them would throw themselves into a fight, a brawl, anything to make Sasuke forget that he would miss this; miss this feel of the blond struggling against him, of bruises on his skin and shallow cuts from Naruto's nails and Sasuke would remark that Naruto "fights like a girl, that dobe," and Naruto would screech in indignation and Sakura would sigh and Kakashi-sensei would ignore them for favour of reading his novel of purple prose.
And Sasuke would almost, /almost/, mentally laugh in childish delight because Naruto was so easy to provoke and so predictable to him when he was so unpredictable to other people, and Sakura was almost endearingly sweet while she rolled her eyes at them and muttered insults about boys under her breath.
But then he would remember, and he would smirk and lock his emotions away, because his team-mates were just a way to get the power he needed.
After all, the Mangekyou Sharingan needed for Sasuke to ki-
And he found himself reluctant to finish that thought.
But revengerevengerevenge was on his mind all the time, and he can never forget about ItachiItachiItachi because the ghosts of his murdered clan would never allow him to rest while his brother was still alive, and Sasuke is tired of the dreams, of the hauntings, and even the sun and the daylight and Naruto's laughter can not drown out the tide of guilt for running away when he saw the blood and the bodies and oh, gods, that katana is wet with mother's blood and why is brother just standing there, do something, do something, dosomething!
There are sometimes, in his fights with Naruto and hearing an exasperated Sakura in the background, when he feels almost sane. Where Sasuke would relish in the feeling of pride that he got whenever Naruto was forced to bite the dirt, cursing Sasuke for all he was worth: his looks, his stupid eyes, his actions, his lineage-
And Sasuke would smirk and decide to sit on Naruto as a wordless insult back to the smaller boy, just to hear the blond spit and curse and flail at him helplessly before Kakashi would interfere and call Sasuke off because the fight was over and he shouldn't be picking on Naruto like that and ignoring Sakura like so...
Well. Not in so many words.
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Like all great plays, though, the events would crescendo into a form that was unrecognizable even to Sasuke, and made him spit blood at fate because he was supposed to be in control and he was not, not, not supposed to start to care.
Except he was. And Sasuke was finally starting to realize the implications of that.
It was like a dance, a whirlwind that made him bitter to realize that time would not stand still for him, and that Naruto was improving and that Sasuke was not and it was so much harder to win in his fights against Naruto because that boy somehow managed to learn so fast! and he couldn't catch up.
Couldn't catch up. To the person who had been considered the dead last of their class.
(/Just like with Itachi, Sasuke couldn't catch up and everyone would oversee him for his brother and why couldn't they just/ look /at him? See him, hear him, know him... Mother! Father! I'm right here!/)
And in order to attain the Mangekyou Sharingan...
The Uchiha family, Sasuke would sometimes hear in the whispers of ghosts brushing past his skin at night, were a cursed clan. Cursed to have that wicked Bloodline Limit, doomed forever by expectations for them to be the best, just like the Hyuuga family. Except the Hyuuga are born with their Bloodline Limit, and Byakkugan does not have the intricate layers that the Sharingan has. The Hyuuga bloodline does not demand human sacrifices.
But he needed his revenge. And Itachi had always been so powerful... so much stronger than him.
"In order to receive the Mangekyou Sharingan, you must kill your most precious friend."
And those words wouldn't stop spinning through his head, and sometimes Sasuke would scream because Itachi's words wouldn't shut up, and because no one alive would be able to hear him screaming anyway; the Uchiha compound was filled with nothing but ghosts set on vengeance and needling him through his sleep, asking why he wasn't strong enough yet, why he hadn't avenged them yet...
Yes. He would have his priorities set straight. He was an avenger.
And then he would seek out Naruto, because the boy was an orphan like him. Because for some reason he didn't know about, the village hated Naruto, and no one would truly miss the blond if he were to disappear. Naruto had no family, had no friends outside of team seven. He had no one to miss him.
He was perfect.
But for some reason, some strange silly little reason that made his heart constrict tightly within the confines of his ribs, he would see the blond grin brightly at him and that would stay his hand. Why? Why?
There was only one reason why he had allowed Naruto to provoke him at first, when he could have easily shut the loud-mouthed boy out just like he shut out everyone else. Sasuke had everything planned out; he was in control of his own life, after all, and he had known ever since he had woken up in the hospital with the pitying looks of doctors and nurses whom had informed him of the effects of the Tsukiyomi and that it had been Itachi who had cast it, whom had made him suffer for over twenty-four hours in the dreamscape of his creating. Sasuke had awoken to face the truth: that the Tsukiyomi hadn't been a dream and that he was indeed now helpless and alone.
He had once hated Naruto because the other boy should be just like him, but Naruto would keep grinning and laughing as if he couldn't see the hated looks being cast his way, as if there was actually someone waiting for him at home.
But now time was running out and Sasuke could not stop the miniscule flinch whenever he saw Naruto smile.
Sasuke was still too weak to fight against Itachi. But he had set up what he needed for the Mangekyou.
And he couldn't do it.
Now, therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
The fight was getting out of control, and Sasuke could do nothing than take his frustrations out on the warm skin opposing him, hear Naruto's yelp as he is tackled to the ground, blood seeping through fingers and into eyes and dampening their hair; hearing Sakura scream in the background because Sasuke wasn't stopping like he usually did, because Naruto wasn't losing like he usually did.
He could hear Naruto's snarl of defiance as the younger boy clawed at him, scratching at his arms while Sasuke tried to choke him, tried not to think, not to feel anything at all but the rising beat of his heart pounding in ears, the waves settling the climax of the story, the crescendo of mingled breaths as Naruto grabbed at Sasuke's hair (still fighting like a girl, Sasuke noticed dimly) and managed to flip them over so that Sasuke was finally the one pinned to the ground, and Naruto was the one gasping for hard-won air before deciding that he would prove once and for all that he wasn't going to continue losing to Sasuke; that he wasn't dead last like everyone claimed, that damn it he could win against even the genius Uchiha heir.
And Sasuke would refuse to give up, give in, and the brawl would continue heedless of the developing bruises and cuts that oozed blood at a sluggish rate, and Sasuke would feel frustration as he could see Naruto's wounds closing before his eyes, /that damned healing ability of his/, but somehow in the very back corners of his mind he would be relieved, although he would not admit to himself why.
And he almost wanted to laugh as he saw Naruto's triumphant grin (because Naruto knew that even if he didn't win the fight, he had won something just by showing that he could hold his own against Sasuke now), laugh because this was so common of them- this was the reason why they were friends. Their fights and brawls and the fact that Naruto never held it against Sasuke, because somehow the other boy understood that need to prove oneself, to strive to better oneself and stretch to the limits and beyond before collapsing into an exhausted heap.
Somehow in the midst of everything happening, to Sasuke's guilt and dread, Naruto had become his most precious friend.
The situation was perfect.
Kakashi had to physically step in to break up the fight, grabbing both boys by the back of their shirts and hauling them apart, scolding them for getting too carried away. But the words held no scorn, and Naruto was already grinning at Sasuke again, that wide, vulpine grin that accentuated the whisker scars on his face and reminded Sasuke of a mischievous fox.
That night, Sasuke dreams of the Mangekyou Sharingan burning blood-red into the irises of his eyes.
His chest feels empty, like a hollow cavity, and everywhere he looks is blood; the smell of death permeating the air and he can see everything in detail with an amazing alacrity and his eyes feel like they are burning but it hurts like pleasure. There are bodies on the ground before him, and he can see pink hair under the wash of blood, and another of the dead bodies is staring at him with wide, dead, blue eyes. He laughs and laughs and laughs, because he knows somehow that he is the one to do this.
And that morning, Sasuke awakens by throwing up his dinner, body shaking at the dream (/because Itachi stood over the dead bodies of mother and father, and he had never looked more satisfied/) and he knew that despite all his careful planning, all those years of preparation and control, he couldn't do it. He couldn't, and he wouldn't, and he didn't want to become just like his brother for the sake of vengeance.
As Sasuke stands on wobbling legs, he decides that he will gain power some other way, because he did not trust himself with the control needed to save his friends. He is an avenger first and foremost, and nothing can come in the way of that. Not Sakura. Not Naruto.
He would find power some other way; and as Sasuke closed his eyes to calm his breathing, he hoped desperately that his team-mates would not chase after him on his self-destructive course.
He would have to leave, and leave soon. And Naruto must not follow, because Sasuke wasn't sure that he could cling on to his sanity long enough to ensure the blond's survival.
The Mangekyou Sharingan could wait. But his quest of vengeance could not.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.