Sometimes, when Sasuke happens to fall asleep deeply enough, he dreams.
Being a sharingan bearer means more than just having the pupils -- it is one of the reasons Kakashi-sensei could never bring his own to its full potential. Being born with the sharingan means that the whole body -- muscles, nerves, chakra pathways -- is subtly altered. It means that the area of the brain that manages sight is three times more developed than anyone else's, to give Uchihas a better grasp of the subtlest detail, the quickest movement, the faintest nuance of colors. The most unlikely probability.
When Sasuke dreams, he dreams in full Technicolor. This is why he still remembers almost to the thread the apron his mother used to wear, and the faded patterns of his bedroom's walls, and the exact appearance and color of blood starting to dry.
He knows they are dreams because they don't make sense, or people are matched with the wrong voices, or know things they have no way of knowing about.
But when the dreams are precise and involved enough that he can't even remember he shouldn't be there, shouldn't be then... well, there are several reasons why he doesn't usually let himself sleep too deeply, and only one of them is that life in the Sound is short when you're not on your guard every minute of the day.
Sometimes, he'll dream of being a child again, and doing something silly and unimportant -- hunting frogs in the pond, tugging on his mother's dress, spying, awed, on his father, stealing Itachi's hair bands to blackmail him into playing... and everything will feel normal. Everything will be okay. Those hurt, because they feel almost real, even despite the gap between his childish acts and his much older thoughts, and then he has to wake up.
Sometimes he'll dream of being fourteen, and complaining to his brother that his teacher still makes them go on sucky C-rank missions and he would like being taught by anyone but Ebisu-sensei, even that pervert with the dog mask on Itachi's ANBU team, and Itachi chuckling at him and telling him to be patient. And he'll blush when Sakura and Ino fight over him, and fidget while TenTen decides if she wants to go out with him or not. Those are nice, resting... even though they lack a little something. They feel weird -- he feels a little empty, a little ordinary -- but what need does he have of amazing ninja skills? He's not the genius of the clan. He does good enough -- no need to force himself too much. He gave up catching up to his brother ages ago.
Sometimes he'll dream of the Sound, and Orochimaru, but these ones he doesn't bother to think about; he has the real thing the second he opens his eyes. The dreams where he stabs Kabuto through the guts and watches him bleed are nice enough, though. He could do without the ones where he can't move, can't talk, can't even breathe on his own -- can only watch, and listen, because there's something slimy and cold inside his head that has taken him over and doesn't even notice he's still alive.
But in the end, they're just dreams, even the ones he know will come true.
Those ones are dreams he forgets the second he opens his eyes. His family is dead, he never had and never will have a normal life, and he knew from the start that one day -- soon, so soon -- he'll get buried alive in Orochimaru's mind, entombed inside his own body. This is the path he chose. He won't whine about it.
There is only one dream that still gets to him, and he's disgusted at himself for such weakness, and he fights it and denies it until he almost thinks it's true -- and then it happens again, another variation on the theme.
One time it starts against that tree, wrapped in Kakashi's wires as the man lectures him on revenge and important people. He can see every nuance of Kakashi's expression under the mask -- he remembers more than what he thought he'd noticed that night, and his sharingan is developed enough to let him read his teacher, now. He struggles when he sees his teacher take on a determined look, and struggles again when the man decides that Sasuke needs a more secure place to cool off. He carries him across his shoulder, still wrapped in metal wires -- and Sasuke sees Konoha fly under them, upside-down and swinging, and he doesn't know if saving his pride is more important than getting his revenge by throwing up all over Kakashi's legs -- because he's getting motion-sick in a big way.
One time it starts when he's leaving and Sakura catches up, and he's not fast enough and she screams, good and loud, and when he tries to silence her she glares, eyes brimming with tears, and yells "rape!", and he's not fast enough to avoid the jounin patrolling the streets. Kakashi is called, and rolls his eyes as he drags him home, asking him if he forgot their earlier little chat.
He pretends to think about it, and tries to escape through the bathroom's window. Kakashi is waiting on the roof, and drags him inside again. He makes his big mastiff sit on him when Sasuke tries to force his way out.
One time it starts even sooner than that -- he's about to use Chidori on Naruto when one of his stupid clones tackles him. He ends up knocking his head on the concrete. Naruto is kept in the bed just beside his own, because Sakura was so furious with him she managed to give him a concussion. He spends the evening chattering, and when Sasuke pulls the curtain between their beds and pretends to sleep, he starts whispering at him -- not knowing he's even awake, and Sasuke watches the shadows on the roof and through the curtain as Naruto tries to explain how it feels to suddenly have family -- how it feels to have Iruka and Jiraiya pay attention to him, to be proud of him, and even how it feels to have Kakashi-sensei as a sort of uncle that's supposed to babysit him but always forgets, and Sakura as a bossy, beautiful cousin, and Sasuke himself as his brother -- his opposite, his mirror, his almost-twin.
Sasuke can't stand it. So he leaves -- he doesn't run, but he might as well be. He can't take being anyone's family. So he leaves, running and not even knowing where he goes, and just outside the walls there Sakon and the others are waiting. The wind makes the leaves dance around their faces, casting shadows that will never be as dark as the curse seal's. They use exactly the same words, the ones that make something echo inside him with the burning need to become stronger, colder.
And then Naruto arrives, and he's furious, and since somehow the jounin on guard duty always keep a closer eye on him than on Sasuke, they follow. Kakashi drags him home, yadda yadda.
He's kept inside for a week. By the end, he knows that the Sound four have left. By the end, he's found a box under Kakashi's sink. There are goggles inside, with a little Uchiha fan stamped on the inside of the arm, and a lock of long hair that's the exact same color as the girl on his genin team's picture, tied with a blood-stiff scrap of cloth. Sasuke wonders what he would keep of Naruto's -- an empty ramen package maybe. He has no trouble imagining the lock of bright pink hair, singed at the end.
He keeps resenting them for a few months, and then, gradually, life goes back to normal. His hate is still there, still burning -- but it can't reach all of him, kept at bay by a ton of distractions as his life goes on. He's almost -- yes, almost happy. And it feels like a bad thought when he wonders if his parents would have begrudged him this, these small moments of happiness. He still misses them, and he still trains to avenge them, but there are moments when Kakashi teaches him a cool new jutsu, or Sakura actually does something useful -- she's starting to train as a medic, and it fits her -- or Naruto acts even more stupid than usual and yet it works, and then he forgets. He still hides his smiles because they would squeal or mock him too much, but they're there all the same. He's not happy all the time, but it happens, and every time it's like a small, unexpected present.
And he feels them, these months of missions together and ramen together and waiting on the bridge together, rescuing cats and guarding fat businessmen -- a few times facing off with strong enemies who always end up falling in the end; Naruto and him keep track and so far he's in the lead, but the idiot is catching up. He remembers the calluses on Sakura's fingers after days and days of archery training. He remembers the loud yellow of Naruto's hair, bleached by the sun, and the almost-but-not-quite identical shade of the wheat in the field they're cutting. He remembers the pattern of scars on Kakashi's back and the spots of one of his dogs, one that spends its time licking Sasuke's face -- Sasuke kicks it every time, but it never seems to matter.
The dreams always ends the exact same way, though, no matter which way they started. They're coming back from a successful mission -- the forest is cool, and the leaves of that particular green they get when they're just finished growing after winter and the sun hasn't hardened, darkened them yet. Naruto is clowning around, and Sakura is rolling her eyes, and Kakashi is reading as he walks, just like any other day.
And then, Sakura falls behind. Her brush fell off her bag -- he can see it, bright blue plastic in the dust of the little path -- and she goes back to pick it up as they keep strolling forward, unconcerned.
She doesn't come back.
Immediately, Kakashi tenses, and motions them into place -- but Naruto doesn't obey, always more heart than mind, he runs toward the bend in the road -- and then he screams, like a trapped animal, like a mother learning that her child will never be coming back -- and Sasuke can't help but look toward him. Because it can't be true, but he can see Naruto's face -- he can see the reflection of the light on his headband and the way his pupils are eating away at his irises, and the way his blood drains from his face and wells up in the cuts his claws left in his palm, and Sasuke thinks, the day is way too pretty for a tragedy.
Naruto falls on his knees, still making that weird keening sound that doesn't seem to belong to a human throat. Sasuke takes a step toward him.
Kakashi's head makes almost no sound as it hits the ground. It rolls, coming to a step at his feet. His stolen eye is still covered.
His brother is standing behind him, green shadows dancing gaily over his dark cloak, all pale skin and red eyes and black cloth, a stranger to the spring atmosphere of the forest.
"Your hate is still too weak, little brother."
Sasuke forgets everything, included the fact that he really should move.
"We're going to fix that."
Then he disappears. Then Sasuke realizes that he's lost sight of Naruto -- like he lost sight of Sakura, like he lost sight of Kakashi.
It would be good if it was usually the moment where he screams himself awake.
But he doesn't scream. He never screams. And so he keeps dreaming.
Sasuke is intimate with the innumerable shades of red a human body can produce.