notes: Well, this is what happens when you get back on the SasuSaku train at the same time you're re-playing FFXV. This will become a series, not sure how many chapters. But the chapters won't be a true "story", instead each piece almost standing alone; but because this is in the same world, I don't feel comfortable posting them as one-shots.

summary: Sasuke is twenty and has no interest in getting married, but he goes along anyway.

characters: Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki, Shikamaru Naru, Suigetsu Hozuki

title: ground zero


He's twenty and bored when he sets off to marry his childhood friend for the good of the kingdom, a stipulation in a treaty for peace.

His friends join him, making up quite the rag-tag group of protectors, his personal Crownsguard: his bodyguard, his advisor, and his best friend. Anyone else would have thought twice about making jokes at the prince's expense, jabs at just how much his bride would outshine him.

Sasuke is twenty and has no interest in getting married, but he goes along anyway.

The world outside Lucis's capital city is odd at first, something they come to terms with fast as their car breaks down just outside the city limits. Shikamaru is almost too happy at the wheel, jeering to the others how slow they're pushing.

"Y'know," Naruto groans, forehead just inches from touching the hot metal of the trunk, "I really think it's my turn, Shikamaru."

"You just had one, dummy." Shikamaru instead chooses to focus on the steering wheel, nudging it along as the wheels turned in either direction to keep the car on the road.

"If anything it should be my turn. I can command you all out here, can't I?" Sasuke didn't even need to look to his right to see the blank stares of his two friends.

"That's only if we're listening, your highness," but even Suigetsu's snark lost some of its edge as his muscles strain, energy being focused elsewhere. "Fuck— how much longer to Hammerhead, again?"

"Not too long," Shikamaru sounds suspiciously pleased, "I swear I can almost see it from here!".

Shikamaru's watch tells them they were pushing the car for almost two hours before making their way to Hammerhead. It's a gas station and a repair shop; coincidentally, it's the only shop qualified to work on the Regalia.

When their car is fixed they're back on the road, heading for Galden Quay to catch the ferry. The coastal resort is another day away, so when night begins to fall they rent a trailer to stay in for the night.

Sasuke is ready to admit that this impromptu road trip is the most fun he's had in awhile. Even on such a quest he feels free, the only sounds filling his ears are his friends' laughter and the mundane world around them.

"—Found it!" He hears Naruto call, even with his head inside of the car. It's nearly impossible to not hear his voice at that volume. He makes it back to the trailer in quick steps, a pack of cards in his hands, cradles it like a precious gem. "Who's up for some poker?"

Suigetsu bursts from the trailer, food half-stuffed in his mouth. "'m in!" He chews as he grabs a drink from whoever's pack is closest and sits at the rickety table.

"First dealer," Sasuke expertly catches the pack Naruto flings at his face. Just as practiced, Naruto turns away and immerses himself in something else to avoid his best friend's retort.

While the setting was different, they feel just as organic as ever. His friends were truly his pillar, his security. Even as he thinks any one of them should be actually freaking out about what they're on their way to do, it's instead a non-issue that won't really change anything.

For that reason he feels no fear, no real reason to be nervous about the future. The feeling fades, the weight no longer sits so heavy on his shoulders.

The marriage is in title only; he will go back to Insomnia and she will continue to travel the world saving people. Sure, he will hear from his father about how he should stay in contact with his wife as it was only proper, not knowing they already keep in steady contact.

In his eyes, it will feel just as their relationship currently stands, just with a new label and brief intimacy of the "you may kiss the bride" variety.

He feels he can handle this.

He brings this feeling with him to Galden Quay the next day. The ferry isn't running, but no dreadful feelings surface; only agitation over this set-back.

They enlist help in pulling a favor so there was some transportation for the next day, and they settle into the luxurious hotel for the night. There's even more laughter on their suite's balcony, the scent of the ocean washes over them and promises serenity.

Sasuke is only twenty when he wakes up to hear about the destruction of Insomnia, the murder of his father, and hears both he and Lady Sakura's names listed among the casualties.

His hand to his mouth, silent screams— Naruto wraps his arms around Sasuke and brings him to his chest, crying his own shock out into Sasuke's shoulder. The Prince, no, King slumps against him, and it is only through sheer force of will that Naruto remains upright.

Suigetsu and Shikamaru stand on the balcony, Suigetsu's phone is pressed to his ear, desperately hoping the other line will pick up. That Karin will laugh and ask where they heard it from, that capital city is fine, and that she can't wait to watch how awkward Sasuke will be during the ceremony.

In the back of his mind, he just hopes she will pick up at all.

Shikamaru has a hand on Suigetsu's shoulder, wiping away the tear-tracks left when he first laid eyes on the newspaper.

Grief weighs heavy on them all, and they stay in the room until Sasuke says that he needs to see it with his own eyes.

Sasuke Lucis Uchiha is only twenty when he becomes the King of Lucis, the king of a dying kingdom. His coronation is filled with the screams of dying citizens of Insomnia, the stinging loss of the man who loved and raised him, and the woman he could've loved had he gotten the chance.