Sasuke is gone and Naruto is dreaming. PG-13 for the pure angst involved. ;.;
Sasuke would never be here; Naruto still has to save him
"You should come back," he says softly, and his eyes are burning as he sits up in bed. "It's pretty weird to dream about you all the time. I wouldn't, if you'd just come back." He pushes his palms to his eyes, sighing. He doesn't expect an answer because Dream-Sasuke doesn't usually talk to him. He usually stands in the doorway and watches and then leaves.
Even a dream gets bored, Naruto figures. He tries again. "Hey, stupid."
Sasuke closes the door and leans against it. The bed is several feet away from him, and the dark-eyed and -haired and -clothed boy slides down and stares dully at the floor.
"I could be dreaming about Sakura-chan right now. Sometimes she hits me, but it's better than you sitting and doing nothing."
Naruto is surprised because the dream usually ends before he has a chance to ask anything; after all, an answer is an answer whether it comes from a dream or not. He tries not to follow the logic too closely--he'd really like to know, after all.
So before he wakes up, he says, "Oi, Sasuke. Why did you...?"
"What?" He tries to get angry, he really does--it's infuriating that Dream-Sasuke would be as much of an ass as Real-Sasuke--but before he gets a good fire blazing he's interrupted again.
"What do you want, Naruto." He stands and goes to the side of the bed. He sits down. Naruto is silent, speechless. "Why can't I..." His eyebrows knit together and his eyes are part fury and part sorrow. "I couldn't even kill you. It was supposed to mean something, but I didn't really--/understand/. I almost did. But when it came right down to it, I..."
"Sasuke." Naruto sighs. Dream-Sasuke is a babbler and what the hell is he talking about anyway? "It always means something when someone dies. Not to you, maybe, but to someone else..." Naruto is, of course, talking about missions and the resulting casualties; it never enters his mind that--
"Naruto, it meant everything to me!" And now he has his hands on Naruto's shoulders, and his fingers are bruising because he is very strong for his size. Naruto is glad this is a dream, but then he remembers that even if it wasn't, there wouldn't be a single mark when he woke up anyway. "If it hadn't meant anything it, killing you would've been meaningless. It's not meaningless, Naruto, /it's not meaningless/."
There are shadows on his face and in his eyes and he bows his head and talks fast and quiet and Naruto is breathing carefully because he remembers the fight in vivid detail, and then after it, and the memories and the whole of their friendship; he remembers bonds and how the older they are, the harder they are to break, and the bigger the hole that's left when that person is gone.
"How can I ever... this isn't right, I can't beat him, how can I kill him if I'm so much weaker than he is? Naruto, if I... if you... if I want you alive more than I /hate him/, how can I..." And now all he's doing is crying.
He means Itachi. I still don't understand. But that doesn't matter.
It's different than Gaara. Naruto can understand Gaara in ways that no one else can, because they have two sides of the same kind of monster in them; they grew up on flipsides of the same coin. But Sasuke is locked away differently than Gaara was--he's held himself aloof, his heart has fought off any others who sought to know him; Gaara's heart was screaming for it, though, and begging and pleading even as he physically destroyed the people he might have loved as a means to prove his own existence.
/This is only a dream/, Naruto thinks, but his heart hurts just the same. It is a soft, slow burn and a hollow heat that sits just above his stomach. He embraces Sasuke like a brother and Sasuke crying is like a storm before it breaks or the wind beating against the sea because he doesn't make a sound, really, he doesn't sob or gasp or choke; his body shudders and there is an occasional gasp, but Sasuke is silent overall.
It is a punch in the gut when Naruto realizes Sasuke's never had anyone to talk to like this. He holds onto him tighter.
"I hate it. I hate how weak I am." His voice is dry and more or less even, though he's still shaking. "I've lived my whole life to... and it's all I've ever cared about and... I would've done /anything it took/."
Man I'm hungry. How can I be hungry in a dream. I wonder if the cupboard will have ramen in it because I'm pretty sure I'm almost out and need to...
Sasuke has crawled up next to him and now Naruto's arms are loosely around his shoulders. Cold hand slide up his chest and around his neck. "I could still..." but he lifts up his head and his face is wet and splotchy red around his eyes and he looks Naruto in the face with his hands falling back and his hot tears and eyes are against Naruto's throat now.
Naruto thinks he's starting to understand just a little now. He says softly, after awhile, "I'm glad I mean as much to you as you mean to me," and then he pushes Sasuke back a little. "Even if this is just a dream."
There is a bit of incredulity to Sasuke's eyes and then it slips away and he smiles the sad smile of a broken man, even though he is only a boy. "Yes," he says quietly. "Naruto, you're dreaming." And he leans forward.
When Sasuke kisses Naruto his mouth is closed. His lips are chapped but warm and he has his fingers on the blonde's cheek, just below his ear, and only his left hand. His right is bracing his weight on the bed and then he stands up.
Naruto watches him with bright eyes and his own fingers on his own lips and wondering, vaguely, why he's dreaming this.
"Naruto," Sasuke says in the same voice as before. He leaves the room and Naruto lays back down. He doesn't put much stock in anything.
Sasuke is gone and Naruto is dreaming.
His eyes are still burning and maybe a little bit wet, and there's a lump in his throat.
When he wakes up, nothing has changed.