Naruto rushed after his friend, dirt spraying in his haste, horror spreading across his face. When the Uchiha came to an abrupt stop in front of him, the blonde skid to a halt.
Sasuke stood with his back to his friend, turning his head just enough to throw his words behind him. “There is nothing left for me here.”
“But you can’t just-” As Sasuke began to walk away once more, Naruto’s words rushed out of him, his tone desperate. “D-don’t leave!”
A derisive snort was his only answer.
As if recovering from his shock, Naruto jolted forward, reaching towards his friend. “Sasuke, just give it a chance-”
“A chance?” Sasuke jerked his arm away from the hand that reached for him, turning his body to the side. An angry scowl, pinched eyebrows, his jaw set and eyes burning, “You think I haven’t tried this before? That I have any choice at all?”
A pitiful noise tore out of Naruto’s throat. “It’ll be different this time, Sasuke, I promise.”
“Just like you promised last time?” Sasuke snapped, baring his teeth. “Empty lies. You know this. It will never change.”
A happy gurgle cut through the heavy atmosphere, ignored by the two squabbling shinobi. Boruto babbled incoherently in his father’s arms, squealing as he flailed his tiny fists. Sarada, likewise completely unaffected by whatever fit the two were having, was busy doing her best to braid Sasuke’s hair - a difficult task, seeing as he kept jerking about, but she steeled herself with fierce determination, stretching her little arms as far as she could from where he held her tight to his side.
The civilians and fellow shinobi walking down the street paid little attention to the scene unfolding, used to the dramatics from both their beloved Hokage and his rage-filled friend.
Sasuke continued, his expression turning to one of disinterest, his tone the sharp, cold steel of a blade. “You cannot ‘fix’ me, Naruto. No one can.”
A whirl of red and pink nearby, and Sakura was there, smiling warmly at Sarada’s enthusiastic greeting. Seemingly immune to, or pointedly ignoring, the dark energy sparking between her husband and his best friend, she waved at the still gurgling Boruto before ruffling her daughter’s dark hair.
“How was she at daycare?”
Like a switch, Sasuke’s expression brightened immediately. A soft smile on his lips, his eyes burning warm with affection as he turned to her. His tone was one of quiet pride as he spoke. “She did well today. Not a single fight. Right, Sara?”
“We had cupcakes!” A brilliant smile accompanied her bouncing joy.
Sasuke nodded his head, his eyes crinkling ever so slightly. “Yes, you did.” A kiss pressed to her forehead, one she accepted from him gladly, and a short moment of nuzzling into her hair, and then she was passed off to her mother, both more than ready to go home for the day.
When he turned back to face the Uzumaki, all warmth and affection had drained from his expression, his face stone cold, his eyes empty. He continued as if Sakura had not appeared beside them. “The Curse of Hatred is in my blood, burning within all Uchiha. I cannot change this - cannot accept such…things.”
“B-but Sarada likes sweets, she just said so!” Naruto chirped. “And she’s an Uchiha!”
Sasuke scowled deeply, shaking his head. “She is but a child. The curse does not affect her yet.”
Though Sakura should really know better than to get drawn into their childish drama again - arguing over candy, of all things - she couldn’t help but chime in, a too-bright smile on her face. “But doesn’t Itachi-nii love sweets? Not to mention Mikoto-kaa-san. Or Naori-san. Or even Fugaku-tou-san with his shiruko.”
“All Uchiha,” Sasuke bit out a little louder, clearly planning to bull right over her logic. “Offering me this…garbage,” he waved the bag of brightly colored sweets, a gift from only a few minutes prior, right in the blond’s face, “is an insult to me - to my entire clan.” Sasuke frowned deeply, a look of pained betrayal in his eyes. “And you say you know me.”
“Sasuke, I’m sorry.” Naruto’s voice wavered, on the verge of tears. “I just want to help you enjoy them - to be happy!”
Sasuke shook his head once more, stepping back. “It’s too late for that.” He dropped the bag, ignoring Naruto’s pained cry as it hit the dirt.
Black flames burst forth and consumed the sweets. Sasuke’s tone, quiet and low. “Now it burns like my hatred.”
With dramatic flare, Sasuke turned on his heels, wiping his black cape behind him to flutter as he left, no doubt heading to the police headquarters to start his shift. As the Uchiha walked into the distance, Naruto fell to his knees, clutching his son tight to his chest. The toddler, blissfully ignorant to his father’s antics, continued his joyous squealing as he slapped at scarred cheeks.
“I’ll bring you back, Sasuke. I swear it.” Bright blue eyes watered further, a few tears slipping down his cheeks, voice rough with emotion. “I will save you.”
“Mama, why is Naru-ji crying?”
Sakura sighed, shaking her head in familiar and fond exasperation. “Because him and your father are both idiots.”
“Oh.” The four-year-old fidgeted in her mother’s arms, frowning ever so slightly. “…can I have another cupcake?”
Sakura smiled down at her daughter, running her fingers through black hair. “Why don’t we visit Itachi-oji and ask if he has any hidden away?” At Sarada’s near frantic nodding, they started off towards the Uchiha complex, leaving behind their widely respected and feared Hokage to wallow in his dramatics.