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A World of Truth

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Sasuke snaps awake, and knows he isn’t dreaming. He’s trained himself for years to immediately transition from asleep to awake with no middle ground, no life-threatening fog of slumber clinging to him. He is fully awake, and Naruto is wrapped around him in a soft, lovingly mussed bed. They are naked. There is a window partially open and from it he can hear the noises of a town waking up, of birds chirping merrily, of happiness and peace.

Sasuke is not dreaming.

It has been a very long time since he was this scared.

He extricates himself from Naruto’s hold and soft smile in his sleep and is grateful (and confused) to see that Kusanagi is set carefully in a sword rack on the wall, waiting for him. Weaponry in general is openly available around the room, in a blend of his own neatness and Naruto’s unforgettable tendency to store kunai by throwing them into walls and generally not caring where his things land. Clothing is also strewn about carelessly, but he can see his own clothing is carefully set in a nearby wardrobe with Naruto’s intermingled as well. There’s no pain in his body and the only signs of injury are a bite mark on the side of his neck and mildly bruised lips.

He isn’t dreaming. He knows he isn’t dreaming. There is a small damp spot beneath Naruto’s pillow that means he drooled in his sleep. The window is halfway open because one of the shutters is broken and it can’t close. There is a basket of dirty clothing in the corner, waiting to be washed when one of them gets around to it. The fading pink of sunrise makes Konoha look pearlescent from the view out their bedroom window.

Sasuke stumbles into the bathroom – how had he known this door led to the bathroom? – and stares at his own reflection. He’s slightly older, probably somewhere between eighteen and twenty. Naruto is too, and Sasuke tries not to dwell on how obvious it is that he’s memorized the other ninja’s face. He grabs a thin cloth robe from a hook near the shower and wraps it around himself quickly, tying it closed with a ribbon and looking around for anything that could give him an idea of what is happening. The only thing he can find is some mild pain medication and an expired unfamiliar medication prescribed to Sasuke. Going by the calendar in the hall, the bottle is from seven months ago. Sasuke is nineteen and has been living here for at least seven months.

He investigates further after splashing some water on his face and taking a few deep breaths. The bedroom and its attached bathroom connect to a larger room that looks homey and lived-in, again a mixture of neatness and pell-mell organization. Sasuke walks in cautiously, and sees the previously unseen corner contains a kitchen and eating area. The apartment is, overall, a square shape, with their bedroom taking up almost exactly a third of it. There is a second bathroom, which doesn’t have a shower.

There is a picture of Team 7 on the wall, accompanied by a picture of Naruto with a man with his blond hair and blue eyes and a woman with the same facial structure. It barely takes a moment for Sasuke to realize these are not only his parents, but his father is also Yondaime Hokage, and Naruto looks so happy with his mother’s arms around his neck and his father hugging them both that it almost hurts to see.

It also hurts to look at the picture next to it, where Sasuke stands with Itachi and their parents, all smiling, all comfortable with each other, all peaceful. He looks about fifteen in the picture, wearing a chuunin vest. A glance at Naruto’s family portrait makes him think they were taken at about the same time.

He can hear the moment Naruto wakes up, because he obviously rolls himself right off the bed and hits the floor, loud, with a groan that’s more offended than pained.

“Why are we awake this early?” Naruto whines from the bedroom. Loudly, like he knows Sasuke is in the apartment even when he’s not actually visible. Or audible. Sasuke’s presence in the apartment is completely taken for granted.

Sasuke isn’t dreaming. He knew where the bathroom is, and as an experiment he walks into the kitchen and decides to get a glass of water. He opens the correct cupboard. He knows how to get cold water out of the faucet. He knows the water pressure is truly shitty and he has to turn it on full-blast to even get a steady stream of water when there’s a lot of people waking up and taking showers and getting their own glasses of water.

He lives here. He’s lived here for a long time.

Sasuke downs his glass of water like it’s a shot, and turns to see Naruto stumbling his way towards the kitchen, wearing a pair of bright orange shorts.

“Get me one too,” he says as Sasuke refills his glass, and Sasuke complies. When Naruto takes it, he gives Sasuke a small kiss, a thoughtless press of lips to lips in thanks.

Sasuke freezes, but Naruto is too tired to notice. He just shuffles his way to another cabinet – cereal, his mind provides – and pulls out two brands. One is sugary and disgusting and colorful, for Naruto, and the other is healthy and Sasuke’s. He pulls out bowls too. It’s an obvious morning ritual, so ingrained in Naruto’s body that he’s doing most of it with his eyes closed.

They do this so often that Naruto isn’t even bothering to speak. It’s a comfortable silence that is only punctuated by the crunch of their cereal as they chew, of the turning of pages while Naruto reads some sort of report while Sasuke tries to not stare at him, not stare at their apartment, not stare at this fucked up world he’s found himself in.

“Shower’s mine first. I’ve got that thing with Suna today,” Naruto says, stopping to give Sasuke one more of those kiss-because-we-can pecks on the lips, and half walks, half stumbles his way into the bathroom.

Sasuke closes his eyes and concentrates on not hyperventilating.

Maybe he has amnesia. Maybe someone has transplanted some sort of horrible fantasy into his mind and removed this reality from his memories. Maybe Sasuke is going insane and this is the fantasy. Maybe-

“What the fuck, bastard, you stole the damn robe,” Naruto snaps, his head popping out of the bedroom door just enough to point at Sasuke and his pilfered orange attire, accusatory. “We had an agreement!”

Sasuke has no idea what to say. He expects that part of him that seems to know the apartment to know how to reply, to snap out the appropriate response, but he’s left floundering instead, staring neutrally at Naruto.

“You only just noticed?” Sasuke asks.

“I don’t have to be clever ‘til seven in the morning,” Naruto replies, scowling slightly, and then starts making a grabby hand motion. “Gimme.”

The appropriate response to this is obviously make me, idiot, but Sasuke is really fucking scared to see where that would lead, so he just sighs and takes the robe off, throwing it so it smacks perfectly into Naruto’s face. Naruto lets out an angry choking noise, but doesn’t shout at Sasuke. Instead, he shakes the thing out, and then turns it inside out, and Sasuke realizes he’s been wandering around the apartment naked under the Hokage’s robe of office. It’d been hanging inside out in the bathroom so that steam from the shower would get rid of any wrinkles in the fabric.

Naruto is Hokage, and he has a thing with Suna today.

“Hey,” Naruto says, and Sasuke jerks out of whatever shock-induced trance he’d fallen into. Naruto is standing in front of him, frowning in concern. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine,” he replies automatically, and that obviously backfires since Naruto’s frown deepens and he puts a hand on the side of Sasuke’s face, his thumb brushing back and forth against Sasuke’s cheek. It’s one more of those thoughtless gestures, so caring and full of love and expecting that Sasuke will accept them. They make him want to do very unsafe things.

Except it isn’t really unsafe, is it? This is Naruto. Sasuke has stabbed him through the chest with his bare hand and betrayed him and everything he loves repeatedly, tried to kill people he loves, and Naruto keeps coming back. Keeps believing in him. And that Naruto isn’t even in love with him. This one seems to pretty much be married to him – he would probably happily chop his own arm off if Sasuke asked.

Absently, Sasuke wonders if maybe he’s dead and this is what he gets as an afterlife. He was expecting fire and torture and, well, hell, so it would make sense he’d have trouble identifying it as the afterlife.

“Okay, you are really starting to freak me out here,” Naruto says, voice high and getting a little bit panicky and that’s just. No.

He squeezes his eyes shut and grabs Naruto’s shoulders, pulling him in for a kiss. It’s supposed to be simple, and cautious, but Sasuke barely has a moment to think that yes, he could maybe be happy like this, before Naruto deepens the kiss. His hand slides from Sasuke’s cheek to grip his hair, hard, and even after over a decade of training himself to not react to pain it makes him gasp, eyes opening to see that Naruto is watching him right back as his tongue makes Sasuke shudder so hard that the chair he’s in jerks. Only part of it is the kiss. Most of it is that he is kissing Naruto, and he can feel Naruto’s smirk against his own mouth, moving to bite just a bit at Sasuke’s lower lip.

Every move Naruto makes, every brush of his hand down particular patches of skin, every teasing bite, every twist of tongue and press of lips, it’s all so obviously familiar to Naruto that Sasuke ends up closing his eyes tight enough that it hurts. It’s his first actual kiss with the moron he’s been – fine, he’ll admit it, there’s no point in not admitting it anymore – he’s been in love with for an embarrassingly long time and it feels so wrong, because it feels so easy.

Things with Naruto aren’t supposed to be easy. They’re supposed to happen after they’ve dragged each other into it kicking and screaming, probably with a minimum of seven life-threatening wounds inflicted in the process. It’s wrong, how this Naruto hums happily into the kiss, how this Naruto slides into Sasuke’s naked lap without a moment of hesitation.

Sasuke pulls away, but can’t help keeping his hands on Naruto’s face. He looks so confused. He looks dangerously worried. He looks like if Sasuke doesn’t give him an explanation, not a force in the world could stop him from finding out and trying to fix it. Fuck, how does someone deal with this kind of love? How does anyone even function being this devoted to another person?

“I had a bad dream,” Sasuke says calmly, because it’s a good enough excuse that Naruto will take it. And it’s close enough to what might be the truth that Naruto can’t tell it’s a lie.

Naruto doesn’t accept it, though. He looks worried again, like bad dreams are some rare terminal brain disease. “About what?”

Sasuke did not expect that. At all. “Snakes,” he answers, because he’s had those. Rarely. They’re the least harmful nightmare he can think of at the moment. Naruto still doesn’t look like he’s going to let it go, so he rolls his eyes and is a little more honest and says, “A snake bit you and you died.”

Naruto’s lips quirk into an amused smile. The amusement is obviously at his expense. “I whatted?”

Sasuke smacks him upside the head, and is very much reminded that he is naked and Naruto is only wearing underwear when it makes the blond shift sideways in a failed attempt to dodge. “You died from snake. Happy?”

“Man, you gotta stop listening to Kakashi,” Naruto says, and leans in to kiss him again. It’s not the least bit innocent, but it is short. “You gonna start having nightmares about the boogey man next, widdle Sasuke?”

“Go take your fucking shower,” Sasuke says, practically throwing Naruto off of him.

He doesn’t fall down, though, to Sasuke’s quiet disappointment. He just stumbles and then snickers at him. “Widdle Sasuke’s so scared of death coming to get me,” Naruto crows, and fuck this, Sasuke throws his now-empty cereal bowl at the moron. Naruto narrowly avoids it, laughing as it sails right out of one of the windows. Sasuke can hear someone’s outraged shout on the street below.

Shower,” Sasuke snaps, and Naruto, still laughing like the asshole he is, quickly ducks into the bathroom.

There’s no such thing as death here, apparently.

It’s the scariest fucking thing he’s ever heard.

He could be dead – it stands to reason that if you’re already dead you can’t die again – but he doesn’t feel dead, as stupid as it sounds. And he’s still completely certain he’s not dreaming. If there’s no such thing as death, why the weapons? Why a meeting with Suna? Why do he and Naruto still have all their scars?

You gotta stop listening to Kakashi, Naruto had said.

Some things are more important than showers. He dresses in the outfit closest to his clothes (and notices the ANBU uniforms in the wardrobe as well), equips himself, and hunts down his old teacher.