[Team 7, SasukeCentric, R for language]Sundays are what Sasuke lacks. The seat across from him at the dinner table is cold and empty as he consumes bland food in the silence. His brother is a mirag...
carte blanche (n.) - unconditional authority; full discretionary power.
Sasuke's Sundays are indifferent. He does not wear special Sunday clothes that his mother makes him wear because he had to look like a gentleman. He does not acknowledge that ninja were mostly workless on Sunday, nor does he care to huddle around the television to watch movie re-runs with his brother. He does not sit at the table to a feast his mother prepared for dinner, chatting incessantly with his family and amalgamating again.
Simply because he lacks.
He lacks family, love, happiness, all that integral shit that Sasuke knew (prayed) was useless and to some, they would've said Sasuke had no Sundays. Sasuke would not deny this; but he wouldn't agree, and as he sees a little boy with brown hair– eight, maybe– in the window having a meal and laughing with his mother and his father and the rest of his goddamned family, he picks up speed.
Sasuke doesn't mind this lack that much– he's about as religious as a rock– and religion gave you hope but he didn't need hope, he needed hate/, and he was his own god because he was strong and all-powerful and he /could (he tells himself) kill that bastard of a brother he had.
Sasuke's Sundays are training. He wakes up early and eats his crappy breakfast that he's too lazy to make any real effort on– usually rice balls, plain and sometimes with a salmon center– and he arrives in a clearing in the woods. The trees overshadow him with intimidating height and Sasuke used to be scared, but that was a long, long, long time ago– when his fingers were stubby and his legs only so high– and now Sasuke couldn't care less. He just wants to kill, avenge, because what else were you supposed to do when your whole freaking clan was murdered? He practices on targets with kunai, then shuriken, chakra, strength, everything, and then he runs runs runs until he's going to collapse but he remembers Itachi wouldn't have done so and wonders if there's some kind of freaking magical weight that suddenly burdened his legs, because they were so fucking heavy and he couldn't move anymore. He's like a proto-type robot, rusty and broken, but no one wants to care about him because the other robotic model had skills far more superior and worth while in comparison to his.
Sometimes it rains during his training, and he'll be soaking and wet and caked with dirt. A little blood here, a scrape here; he's dirty and there's mud between his toes. On those days, he'll arrive to his house with a fever, but he could care less. Itachi didn't let fevers stop him, Sasuke thinks to himself. Sometimes he slips, because these days his sandals were wearing out from training and he needed to retrieve new ones. Itachi probably had four hundred damn sandals torn, his mind snorts. Sasuke doesn't argue with the voice.
He goes straight home after his training. He ignores people who pass by, to some almost like with his nose in the air. He goes to Ichiraku, because its convenience to ninja leaves it always open. He orders his usual, pays, and eats. He's out of there in a flash, and the old man of ramen stand frowns to his back, and Sasuke feels it, along with all the other stares. He's far too used to it.
He bathes, and changes out of sweat-hugged clothing into casual clothing. He falls into sleep, sinking into sheets at nine or ten, and that's that. If he's lucky, he gets the time to actually think for himself before he falls into steady sleep or nightmares.
Sasuke isn't usually lucky, though. Lucky people didn't have their clan murdered. And if you add Team Seven training after breakfast, you get Sasuke's weekdays. On these days, Naruto says many things, like "Sasuke is a bastard" and "Sasuke has no life".
Sasuke agrees with the last one.
It isn't his life. It's Itachi's life, it's his dead clan's life.
It's a Tuesday, after a mission, when Sasuke's schedule alters. A few cuts that made up for quantity in size, scrapes and blood appear on various skin tones. Naruto complains, and Sakura is handy with medical supplies, she states, saying she found that course the most fun and the easiest for her back in the academy. She suggests giving them some assistance, both of them, not just "Sasuke-kun"– but she has no medicinal supplies aside from the mandatory band-aid box. Naruto's situation is similar, and so leaves Sasuke– who had (/had/; used to, before, not anymore...) a mother who practically did so everyday. He glances at the cuts on his arm for a moment and then ushers his teammates to follow him as he journeys to his house. They reach the Uchiha district in seven minutes of walking pace, Sakura meanwhile marveling at the grand Uchiha structures. Naruto, for once, is silent. His arms are crossed and seething, because he doesn't want Sasuke-teme's help. But then Sakura comes too and Naruto swallows his pride.
Sasuke pauses when he's about to turn on the lights to the parlor. What will he see when the lights flicker from dark to bright? Dead bodies? Blood?
Naruto sprints in, flipping the lights on in a rush to dive on the tatami mat before Sasuke can move. Sasuke is relieved, but he doesn't show this. Sakura saunters inside gracefully, an amazed expression spread upon her face, and somewhat demure, because this is her first time in a boy's house– not a just a relative. Sakura mentions this out loud and that's the only reason Sasuke (who hears her, even when engrossed in his own thoughts– what? How does he hear her through the screams? The blood? The thirst for pain?) knows. With this, he notices she is attractive– maybe because he himself thinks so, or maybe because she fit the usual example of pretty. She is slender, with fair skin and rosy cheeks. Her lips are a flush pink, and her lashes are ebony and fine. She reminds him of innocent, olden time beauty, delicate and sweet. Sweet she may be, dispassionate she is not.
Sasuke feels she isn't cut out for the profession she apparently desires to do.
Okaa-san plagues the rims of his minds. Okaa-san with black, long hair and a sweet, high pitched voice and a smile reserved for him and Sasuke suddenly feels sick staring at hair cropped so short. The hair that he could feel against him as her arms– bloody, worn– encircled his waist. Tears burning his skin, slowly tingling over where flat black began and pale white ended on his skin. Cries that felt so far, words that were forever meaningless, (/"Sasuke, everything is alright, okay? Don't worry about Ita..."/) and skin upon skin for the first time in what seemed to be an eternity.
He senses a jerk, and lowers his gaze down at Sakura, who isn't blushing, (but seems rather awkward for touching unreachable Sasuke, and feelings deluded you because even though she could feel Sasuke, he was much, much further...) but says she's been calling his name and hasn't answered. She doesn't know where the medical supplies are. Sasuke glances at (glaring) Naruto who fully aware of what (who) Sasuke was thinking about. Sasuke feels ashamed. Idiots ogle at (pretty) girls, idiots stay out of focus. Idiots like Naruto.She starts with Naruto first after Sasuke retrieves the first aid kit, because not even luck could prevent his various clumsy injuries to which Sasuke's damage paled in comparison. Sasuke belittled Naruto for it several times already, and so now he just watches in silence. Sakura slightly berates Naruto for his carelessness, and he tosses her a smile.
Sasuke wonders if he's the only one who sees her eyes soften.
His throat calls him to the kitchen for a glass of water– not exactly well-deserved in his opinion, because he bet Itachi went days without water– but Sasuke is too thirsty to care right now, and resumes his privileges of being only thirteen and /human/. He begins to stroll out of the living room without alerting Naruto or Sakura, anxious for his refreshment and none too eager to draw attention to himself.
"Sasuke-kun," Sakura calls before he can leave, requesting him as Naruto appears absorbed in studying his newly patched injuries, but is really interested in Sasuke's response as he observes sideways out of the corner of his left blue eye. Sasuke knows Naruto as watching and Naruto knows that Sasuke doesn't care.
"Nn," He replied with a pause, freezing in mid-step and turning to his mother.
His mother advanced nearer, kneeling close to him, "Wait a minute."
"What?" He replied, a bit wary, and he felt cool fingers on the texture of his skin, rubbing a strange liquid that stung a bit and motivated him to wince. She giggled, bubbly and happy, a lips curved upwards on her face. He grumbled, "What?"
"Ah, don't move," She pulled out a band-aid to place on his burn.
"There. All done," His mother cheerfully announced with the final smoothing of the band aid on his face.
"...Sakura," He calls, turning his head to his right on the hardwood, reminiscent of cool hands that were skimming the edges of his gaunt cheek just a minute ago. The tips of his fingers would be so much better twirling her hair– strands that used to be long and flowing– than by his sides.
"Nn," He shakes his head. "Never mind."
"Okay," She replies with a smile, beaming, he supposes, and he imagines hair black and long pooling over her shoulders instead of short strands.
If he had protected her– which he didn't– and which he should have, maybe he would have been seeing long instead of short. Regret and insecurity worms their way inside to the corners of his dank, dark heart, because even if she is fine with losing what she did, it never changes the fact that he failed/– fails?– her. The light of the feelings that made him human shower in, accusing and hurtful, and wonders if hating really /is the best choice.
Never once her stay does he push her away.
Later the day, when sunset is far off in the past and the stars take place, coincidentally they all appear at Ichiraku Ramen. So Naruto gestures Sakura over, (who doesn't complain at Naruto) and Sakura the likewise to Sasuke. They fight, exchanging words of insult, and then Sakura yells above them all that they're causing trouble for the ramen owner. That instantly makes Naruto shut up (not without glaring at /Sasuke-teme/, of course, and said "teme" returns the gesture wholeheartedly.), and Sasuke doesn't say a word.
In the end, Sakura rings them both into sitting with each other, ("Teammates," She says, holding his hand and Naruto's hand and Sasuke hates it because his hand feels too clammy, too sweaty– from nervousness? "This is what teammates do, they enjoy ramen together and have fun.") and they comply because Sakura mad is undesired.
They order, they eat, and Sasuke feels a bit odd when he says a short "Itadakimasu" with the echoes of his teammates' calls following. Sasuke hasn't had dinner with anyone in years, five years, and a chill runs down his back.
When it's over seventy degrees outside.
He's going crazy, he knows it, reading too much into plain actions and starting to curl into warmth– this warmth warmth that'll kill him. Fire he plays with, fire that can burn him. It appears to be harmless, but he knows– he /knows/– that it's bad. This isn't hate. This is... (wait, is it /really/?) it's–
Naruto's voice knocks him out of his reverie.
Sasuke sees half of his ramen gone from his single order, and ceases further consumption. Like most meals, he'd been daydreaming too excessively to enjoy his food. He turns to Naruto, who, bearing a dejected frown, presents his empty-stomached frog wallet.
Naruto doesn't have enough money to pay for his five meals.
Sakura, looking concernedly to Naruto and to the four one hundred yen bills in her hand, doesn't say anything. Her stock is only enough for herself, one bowl.
The hope, the stare, the happiness, the smile, the feeling of helplessness, and the total and utter weakness that parallels himself to her throws him in a loop. His chest tights and his spine chills.
A question interpreted rhetorically worms it's way to new realization.
He used to be like that, didn't he?
Begging his Aniki for pocket change, pouting to his mother for one little scoop of chocolate ice cream– in his opinion, it did not apply as the sweets he despised– before dinner, gazing sadly at a trinket he could not buy as he grasped his aunt's hand through the local market.
Wanting. Not having to need.
Sakura depends on Sasuke, because Sasuke had an answer to many things, and Sakura prays this instance is one of them. Her eyes are green and beseeching, and she glances behind her shoulder at the dampened expression Naruto holds. Her eyes find their way back to Sasuke, and she stills her breath.
Sasuke ignores Sakura's begging green eyes and slaps down a wad of bills. Sakura turns away and resumes consuming her ramen, (slowly, playing with her food) and Sasuke notices she is not rushed in eating if she isn't on a mission. Naruto's stare burns into his back in what Sasuke guesses is the emotion of betrayal. Sasuke's hands take their customary position in his pockets and cursing, he notes that having Naruto and Sakura visit had disrupted his usually orderly schedule, as it is later than it should be. Sasuke had to skip training today as well. But overall, with a bit of annoyance, Sasuke knows there is only a single occurrence he is truly concerned about.
He hopes the ramen owner notices that the 2,450 yen collection of money could cover seven meals.
He ends up helping Naruto another day, searching inside bushes, under logs, on branches for an important item.
Naruto's forehead protector.
Sakura remained with Kakashi to treat his wounds a bit after a tussle with some ninja, and Naruto had, unusually, faded into the background. His steps grew quiet and his form became blurred and he ventured through forest terrain, blond hair amuck. He'd been fighting well, dodging, occasionally being thrown against a tree, nothing he couldn't handle. But then a ninja had crept from behind, and when Naruto turned, it was too late and he couldn't entirely avoid the ninja's strike. The forehead protector flew from the force of the move, and soon after, Naruto's attacker followed suit. Eventually they'd conquered the ninja, and Naruto continued to forage, alone.
Naruto doesn't acknowledge the unusually helpful Sasuke and Sasuke responds with equal courtesy. Naruto restrains the questions and the gratitude from gracing Sasuke's pale ears.
Sasuke wades in the river, water glistening. Droplets of liquid trickle down his legs, hot July weather heats his neck.
It's his birthday in two weeks.
When he was seven and Itachi turned thirteen, (Because Itachi was born in June and Sasuke in July, and with a bit of sourness Sasuke noted the odd detail that he wasn't even first in terms of /months/) Sasuke, with childlike enthusiasm and vigor rich in his voice (excited for his /Aniki/) asked how seven is different from thirteen. Itachi merely replied, /You become five years older. You'll understand when you get here. /(Meaning that Itachi didn't feel like talking about it.)
Absentmindedly, Sasuke wonders about Itachi's response had he truly answered the inquiry. Had he even a proper answer in the first place? Sasuke wasn't sure.
And then a glint of sliver nestled in between two rocks catches Sasuke's eye.
"Oi, Naruto," Sasuke can see Naruto's back to him, shrouded in green, orange clashing horribly.
"What're you doin' here, teme?" Naruto's voice is questioning, rough like he'd had a cold. He continues scuffling through the plants.
At another time, Sasuke might've scoffed, snorted, dismissed Naruto's comment thinking it was bellow him. The world would've spun as it usually did, the universe would be in order.
But not Sasuke's universe– unbalanced, unknowing, and momentarily limited to an evasive response.
"Shut up, dobe."
Naruto emits a sound like a growl and his head shoots up, shifting to Sasuke, "I'd kick your ass if I wasn't busy right now!"
Sasuke snorts, coarse and sharp like raw mineral, "I've always thought you were unrealistic."
And they argue the whole way.
Sasuke doesn't mind– he is quick on his feet and just as speedy with his tongue, as quick-witted and sarcastic as it is. The normality is Naruto talking and silence isn't his thing. Sasuke's shoulders slump lazily and his steps are as automatic as breathing as he passes the time with his sharp retorts. In no time Naruto and Sasuke arrive from the clearing that they left previously to see Kakashi's arm almost fully bandaged and Sakura conversing as she sat herself upon the ground, kneeling by Kakashi's side. She rolls the tape over-under-over with a smile akin to those seen on friendly nurses. Kakashi seems to carry his side of the conversation well, smiling. One last sequence of over-under-over occurs and Sakura lightly pats Kakashi's arm. Sakura waves to the upcoming Naruto and Sasuke, beaming, and Kakashi holds up the hand he could lift without pain.
Somehow, Sasuke is relieved to see that.
He supposes– hypothetically, because this cannot be possible– thirteen for Sasuke is like one plus three. Sasuke is one, and Kakashi, Sakura, and Naruto are three.
When he was younger, baby fat on his cheeks and cooties his worst enemy, he'd used to think up coincidental things like that. When he had time to spare and a life to live and people to make /happy/–
Like he did now.
Between the smiles and the arrogance and the immature antics that occurred Sasuke realized something. He fingered a loose thread and he crammed his hands into the pockets of his pants.
Like he did now.
And then Sasuke abandons the world that lays on his shoulder as he follows his team out of the forest.