Before There Was You
** Note: So, I felt inspired to write something for this trope and also as a thanks to my 970+ followers! :) Thank you to all of you and I hope you enjoy this little one shot.
“When I used to look above,
All I saw was the sky;
and every song I would sing,
I sung not knowing why
All I thought and all I felt,
was only just because
never was it ever you–
until it was all there was”
- Lang Leav, Before There Was You
It is early dawn when Sasuke is awoken from his sleep. The sky is still dark, the sun not yet ready to rise. Sasuke’s chest hurts and he feels as if he can’t breathe. He lurches upwards and a terrible cough wracks his entire body. His throat burns and he can taste a subtle hint of copper on his tongue. As the coughs subside, he glances down at his lap and is confused to find a handful of petals scattered on his sheets.
The are a vivid, vibrant orange–a stark contrast to his clean, white sheets. Intrigued, he picks one up and blinks at the soft velvety feel of the petal. And then drops it as if it burns him. It’s real.
Petals scatter as another attack hits him and his body is subjected to a series of violent coughs. He feels as if something is lodged in his throat. The lump steadily rises until it comes out as a perfectly formed orange lily. The flower falls apart in the open palms of his hands. Sasuke stares at the petals in disblief. He’s heard of such a disease before. Itachi had mentioned it to him once.
Hanahaki, his brother had called it. A disease born from one-sided love that causes flowers to grow in the infected’s lungs. Yes, Sasuke understood that much. He just couldn’t understand why. It was impossible. Impossible because he’s sure there is no one to have such feelings for. Impossible because love has nothing to do with becoming a strong ninja like Itachi. Impossible because he would have never allowed himself to fall unknowingly.
Sasuke decides to ignore it in hopes that, like a cold, it will go away in time.
It happens again a few weeks later during a mission but this time Sasuke understands. He understands and it fucking terrifies him.
The realization comes as he and Naruto are training. They’re climbing trees and taunting each other as normal. The taunting, the teasing, the arguing–Sasuke has become attuned to it all. It becomes a sense of familiarity that Sasuke indulges in. In the darkest and most secret parts of himself, Sasuke even admits to enjoying it. Not that he’d ever voice that aloud.
They’re laying on the ground, panting, dirty, and sweaty. Sasuke’s never felt more content and comfortable. He should feel tired–and he does to some extent–but he’s also never felt more alive. He stares through the gaps of the trees and sees a night sky scattered with billions of shimmering stars and a crescent moon. A moment passes in silence before he decides to speak up, “You ready to head home?”
The enthusiastic reply makes Sasuke’s smile just a little bigger. It’s when Sasuke turns to look at Naruto that the revelation comes to him. It slams into him, punches him in the gut and nearly knocks the air out of his lungs. Naruto is before him, bathed in the silverly light of the moon. Beneath the moonlight, Naruto emanates a gentle glow but its the eyes that draw Sasuke. In the sun, Naruto’s eyes sparkle like the sea but here, now, under the blanket of of billions of stars, Sasuke thinks they reflect galaxies.
The stars have never looked so beautiful.
And Sasuke is completely and utterly terrified.
It is later in the night that Sasuke finds himself hunched over a small pond. Petals float upon the clear surface; blue ones to join the orange petals. Sasuke grimaces as he takes in the sight of his reflection in the water. He doesn’t recognize himself. His emotionless mask he spent fifteen years perfecting is long gone and in its place he sees only fear, frustration, and confusion. His body feels heavy suddenly and he wants to tell himself that it’s because of the training session earlier but he knows that isn’t the case.
For the rest of the mission, Sasuke is forced to excuse himself periodically. No one knows what’s causing him to act so strangely and Naruto is even more perplexed as he stares at the trail of orange and blue flowers that seems to follow Sasuke.
The attacks come regularly now and Sasuke can do nothing but hide and he hates himself for it. He has never been one to be cowardly but he also can’t bring himself to face Naruto.
Sasuke wasn’t good at dealing with emotions. Never has been. As an Uchiha, he was warned that emotions could be deadly, dangerous, and destructive. And oh, how right those teachings were. He just wished he had been a little more prepared to deal with them. He felt like he was dying, the disease eating him from the inside out. He finds himself frequently coughing up fully formed flowers these days and Sasuke feels like he suffocating.
Sasuke asks himself this question daily. Why did it have to be Naruto of all people? Why did it have to be anyone at all? He had been so careful, so guarded at all times so as not to fall victim to such frivolous, distracting emotions. He doesn’t understand. Naruto is his opposite. His is loud, brash, bright, and warm. He saw the good in everyone, even ones that hurt him. Sasuke is cold, quiet, and cynical. He isn’t social and he is hardly the friendliest person.
Sure, that seemed to attract the fangirls that envisioned him as some ‘mysterious emo bad boy’ but Sasuke knew he wasn’t anything like that. He was just…really awkward with talking to people. He didn’t get along with most people and really did not give a shit about most things. But the fangirls had already so long ago constructed an image of him that he couldn’t quite break away from. They believe in what they think he is rather that who he is. But he’s certain that if they got close enough to see who he is at the core, they would no longer be so disillusioned.
Sakura finds him the next time he has an attack. She finds Sasuke hunched over a trashcan having a coughing fit. She places a careful hand on his shoulder and Sasuke flinches. He’s ready to snap at her but he sees a flicker of understanding in her eyes and reluctantly allows her to lead him to the park. They sit on the bench for a long while in awkward silence, or at least it’s awkward for Sasuke. Sakura seems relaxed though.
They weren’t particularly close despite being on the same team but Sasuke can at least consider Sakura one of the few people he can tolerate to be around now that she’s grown out of her ‘sappy crush’ phase on him.
“You should tell him.”
The statement catches Sasuke off guard. His eyes widen for a fraction of a second before he forces himself to keep his expression neutral. He turns to tell her to butt out, that she doesn’t understand, but he sees in her eyes that she does and he presses his lips shut. Sakura sighs and brushes a strand of pink hair behind her ear, “It isn’t good to keep it bottled up. It gets worse that way.”
Ah, Sasuke understands now. He realizes Sakura understands him in this one aspect because she has suffered the same, “What color were your flowers?” He asks quietly.
Sakura smiles and she gets this far away look in her eyes and Sasuke wonders what she’s thinking about, “They were yellow cosmos.”
Sasuke frowns. Well, that was unexpected.
“I thought it was you at first but I realized cosmos don’t match you,” Sakura giggles suddenly, “I guess we both have our dumb blondes to deal with.”
Dumb blondes? Oh, Sasuke realizes who Sakura is referring to. He’s mildly surprised but he supposes it isn’t so farfetched. Love was unpredictable, after all. Sasuke leans back against the bench and looks up at the expansive blue sky and he suddenly feels like he can’t breathe again. He closes his eyes to shut out the blue and reminds himself to breathe, “Mine are orange lilies and blue hydrangeas.”
“I know,” Sakura says softly, “They’re beautiful, Sasuke.”
Yes, Sasuke agrees, they are.
It was only a matter of time before that beauty killed him.
Weeks later, Sasuke finds petals scattered along the sidewalk. They aren’t from himself, he knows that much. The petals are pure white and they carry a sweet but subtle scent. Curious, he decides to follow the trail that soon lead him to a familiar looking swing with an even more familiar looking boy sitting on it.
The sound of retching reaches Sasuke’s ears and he freezes in his spot. He watches as Naruto’s body shakes and trembles, watches as white petals fall freely from his mouth, only to be carried away by the wind. The entire grassy area around the swing is covered in these delicate white petals, some fluttering and dancing around Naruto in the wind.
Sasuke feels a familiar ache in his chest at the realization that Naruto has found someone to love. And it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. There’s a fluttering sensation within him that’s working its way up is throat and Sasuke makes to run away before he can expose himself.
The lump, bigger than it usually is, forces its way up his throat and Sasuke can’t stop himself from gagging. His knees buckle as a handful blue petals fall from his mouth, mixing with the white.
The sound of his name strikes him like lightning and Sasuke finds himself paralyzed. He had been avoiding Naruto for weeks due to his condition. He hadn’t heard Naruto sat his name, hadn’t seen Naruto in what feels like forever. He suddenly feels powerless and vulnerable before Naruto now. And Sasuke is not used to feeling like this.
Then again, he had never felt many things before Naruto.
“You’ve been avoiding me.” It isn’t a question and Sasuke knows Naruto isn’t stupid despite how often he gets called that by teaching, peers, and Sasuke himself. Naruto is more perceptive of people than most and more intelligent than others think, more than how Naruto lets on.
“I’ve been busy,” Sasuke manages to say.
What? The spell seems to break and Sasuke stands and spin around to glare at Naruto only to back away when he realizes how close Naruto is to him. He stumbles backwards and clenches his hands into fists, his nails biting into his palms, “How would you know, dead last? You don’t know everything that goes on in my life.”
“Something happened,” Naruto says it like its fact, “I did something or fucked up somehow, right?”
“Don’t be stupid–”
“Don’t,” Naruto grits his teeth, “I-if I’ve done something, tell me. I can take you teasing me. I can take you being angry at me. Hell, I can take you hating me. But I can’t–please don’t pretend like I don’t exist.”
“You’re such a bastard, you know that?” Naruto kneels down to pick up a handful of petals, “This is all your fault.”
“What the hell are you–”
“You couldn’t just remain the frigid bastard with an icicle shoved up his ass. You actually had to turn out to be nice and fun and amazing! I mean, what the hell! I wasn’t supposed to like you. You were supposed to be nothing more than a stuck up princess and–”
Sasuke blinks. Only half listening to Naruto’s rant and half stuck on the ‘like you’ part of his speech. Sasuke finds his body moving on its own as he moves forward and kneels in front of Naruto. He takes Naruto’s hand, causing Naruto to drop the petals, “Wh-what are you–”
“What did you say?”
“Huh?” Naruto frowns, “You were supposed to be a stuck up princess–”
“No, before that.”
“What are you–oh,” Naruto blushes when he realizes what Sasuke meant and Sasuke’s heart starts to beat faster. Naruto bites his lip and looks everywhere except for Sasuke. He isn’t even able to make eye contact.
“Tell me,” Sasuke pleads gently, “please.”
Naruto sighs and locks eyes with Sasuke, a spark of determination in those turbulent blue eyes, “I-I like you. There! I said it! You better not make fun of me, bastard, I swear, I’ll kick your ass and—Oof!”
Naruto isn’t given a chance to finish his threat because he finds himself being pulled into Sasuke’s arms into what seems to be a hug. Only it’s kind of awkward, Naruto’s face is squished against Sasuke’s shoulder and his knees kind of hurt from being on the ground for so long. Sasuke doesn’t seem to mind the uncomfortable position, though.
Surrounded by dozens of colorful petals, Sasuke feels complete and the lump in his throat goes away. He feels calmer than he did before now. Naruto clears his throat and pulls back slightly, “Um…Sasuke, does this mean you feel the same way?”
Sasuke chukles and simply presses his forehead against Naruto’s. It’s the most intimate Sasuke has ever allowed himself to be with a person but it feels right, “Hn, Usuratonkachi.”
“Wh-what! You jerk–”
“Yeah, I like you, too, idiot.”