It was certainly an experience, moving back into Konoha.
The streets are different from when he last saw them, houses in places he doesn’t remember them being and vast squares where he swears there were houses. Still, they are filled with familiar voices, familiar scents. The bakery, the fish market, the stupid ramen stand, the unmistakeable scent of the flower shop that he could smell from a mile away all bring up childhood memories when he passes by. And the sounds: sandals hitting the pavement, children running past him with screams and yells spilling from them, and then the silence of the streets at night; everything had been so loud for so long that when it’s too quiet, Sasuke feels like he’s going deaf.
He really doesn't want to go deaf.
Not living alone was even stranger.
Sasuke hasn't actually lived alone for a long time, always surrounded by teams and masters of different origins but this here is different, this is /cohabitation/, it’s a regular apartment with regular furniture and an actual, soft bed rather than cold caves and the hideouts he had to leave every few days. This is a place with shelves, with a kitchen where he can make warm food, with windows that let in a warm breeze. The floor creaks with their steps, a clear indication of their locations in the apartment, the doors have a satisfying noise to them. The floorboards are always warm. The smell of ramen cooking every other day reminds him of the time he felt closest to having a home.
His house also has Naruto in it.
It has been decided - probably by Kakashi, or someone equally inclined to have a say in Sasuke's life - that he can't live alone right now (which, first of all, how dare they assume Sasuke couldn't get by alone even in his current state), so Naruto is living with him. It’s fair, he supposes, they basically tore each other’s' arms off during their last battle.
It’s hard enough trying to relearn everyday living when he lost an arm. He’s broken several mugs when he tried to pass them from one hand to another. Every few nights his left arm starts to ache and when he reaches to clutch it he finds himself clawing at nothing but air. He takes to wearing loose fitting clothes because it’s hard to properly dress himself with one hand.
It’s even harder to adjust to being blind.
Sasuke is a war criminal. While Kakashi tried his best to completely acquit Sasuke despite the public almost unanimously agreeing that he had to pay for his crimes with his life, he knew he couldn’t get away with what he’s done unscathed. As a compromise, he was robbed of what allowed him to commit his sins.
The world has seen the power and danger of the Sharingan and the Rinnegan and grew tired of the hatred, of people ruling over them as gods. Sasuke had to be present at his trial where it was decided that his eyes were to be disarmed while he still had them so there was no risk of anyone recovering them.
He was publicly blinded, stripped of his pride as Kakashi, as Hokage, took his eyesight away from him. He doesn’t think he will ever be able to forget – the last thing he ever saw – how his former sensei looked right into his eyes before he shone a single beam of his signature raikiri into them, his face washed over with something akin to regret. He surely will never forget the cheers of the village as he collapsed without a single sound. He’d never give them the satisfaction of hearing him scream.
Now he’s eighteen years old and essentially blind. He can perceive bright lights, although he isn’t sure if it’s his eyes or just his other senses making up for it. For what it's worth, though, he can't see a single thing.
The apartment is certainly small, Sasuke knows that much, the furniture too close to the walls and each other. He's lost count of how many times he's fallen over something, most notably the couch and the dining chairs. It’s infuriating, for several weeks it feels like the obstacles move around - maybe Naruto is the one moving them on purpose just to see him fall. Brat.
But their place is also warm and it always smells nice. Always different, depending on the day of the week, the time of the day. Every few days, it smells like the soap they wash their clothes with, on other days it smells like the flowers Sakura brings over from the shop and places into the vase that Sasuke thinks is sitting in the middle of the dining table. In the morning, it smells like fruit, in the evening, it smells salty from whatever Naruto was cooking.
Naruto is usually the one to cook since Sasuke can't see what he’s doing and isn't comfortable enough moving around alone yet. Still, Sasuke is the better cook between the two of them, so sometimes he tells Naruto what to do and the blonde follows the instructions as if he was the one that was blind – though too often he uses too much seasoning, rendering the meal almost inedible. At least it isn't that goddamn ramen every single day.
It takes Sasuke a few weeks to be able to leave the house after his public humiliation. He doesn't need to be sighted to be able to feel all of the cold stares that he’s getting in the street. He can feel the pity and the hatred, the ridicule and the fear in every single one of them. Naruto has to guide him through the streets, his remaining hand clutching onto Naruto's remaining elbow, his cane swinging from side to side in front of him, knocking into the walls next to him, sometimes a pipe, sometimes his friend's foot, tripping him up. Sasuke feels just as weak and humiliated as he did a few weeks back. He feels like he could retain an ounce of dignity if he could walk with just the cane, or without it, even, but he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of it, he never walked these streets with his eyes closed and he needs to memorise everything or else he wouldn't be in control and goddammit, if he doesn't have total control he feels like he'll fall apart.
But their apartment is safe. Returning there after going to the market to pick up fresh produce is as if he’s a child again, coming home from school to a full house of people waiting for him. It seems like the place is alive even without them, always breathing and warm and lively.
The first month or two is spent in relative silence. Theirs wasn't the kind of reunion where they could pick up where they left off; they are both too damaged for the moment and they were too young when they parted. They are different people now than they were when Sasuke protected Naruto and Naruto, in turn, Sasuke, when their rivalry was nothing more than children playing around.
But they eventually start talking. It’s nothing special, just Naruto babbling on about daily life, his visits to the market, the people stopping him, the friends Sasuke remembers from their childhood, now adults like him and finding love. He never noticed how smoothly and nicely his friend’s voice could flow when he was calm and just talking on and on and on. He would stand on the balcony, leaning against the rail and just listening; the wind whistles comfortably, a family chatters over dinner somewhere, and Naruto talks about some plants or something. And sometimes Sasuke would hum in response, or sometimes he'd stay quiet and Naruto wouldn't mind and he'd keep going on and on and on.
It’s one of the more quiet days when they've just finished dinner, Sasuke tries to pick up the dishes and bring them over to the sink (Sakura usually helps them with the dishes. It’s fucking impossible to wash mugs with one hand) but he reaches too far to the right and he unintentionally scrapes his fingers against Naruto's –
warm. His fingers are /so/ warm that they somehow regulate Sasuke’s cold ones. It takes a moment for the situation to register in his mind, how his hand is essentially resting on top of Naruto’s, but when it does, he immediately pulls his hand back and reaches for the dish correctly this time. He doesn't apologise. Naruto doesn't say anything.
Nights are hard for the both of them. Sometimes Sasuke doesn't sleep, eyes open but in the same darkness as if they were closed; he can't see anything comforting like the dumb potted plant Naruto put near the door so Sasuke had something to locate it by, or the bedside table, or his - apparently light yellow – bedsheets, has no distraction from the voices and the images in his head that couldn’t be taken away. He’s left alone with his mind replaying all of his /sins/, everything he's committed, everything he's seen, the images so vivid he can’t tell if it’s real or not. It often gets too much and he'll get up and stumble around the apartment until he reaches the balcony so he can listen to the owls hooting and the wind whistling by. It grounds him, drowns out the screams, reminds him that his sight is gone and the blood he sees on his hands isn’t real.
Some nights Naruto doesn't sleep, either. Sasuke knows this with absolute certainty because the nights that he spends sleeping he snores quietly and doesn't move around on his bed in the other room (he isn't sure if the walls are really thin or his hearing is just really good, but he hears every single toss and turn and sigh of his friend). Naruto never talks about what is going on through his head on these nights.
The first time he woke up to Naruto moving around at night, it was terrifying. He had no real way of making sure it was just his roommate and not someone coming to finally get him for his crimes, all he could do was lie awake, eyes turned toward what he hoped was the ceiling and clutching his kunai that was always near him, even in his sleep. He felt so out of control that for a moment he wished he went down by his own hands back when he had the guts.
Eventually, he learns to tell the difference between everyone by the way the floor creaks underneath their feet.
And some days are better. After a few months, Sasuke no longer trips over their furniture (except the newest houseplants every now and again) and he learns how to properly use his cane. Sometimes he goes to the market alone, picks out fish based on smell and weight; one time he surprised Sakura by visiting her at the hospital (he actually came for his painkillers, but he did say hi to Sakura while he was there). Some days they laugh with Naruto while the younger cooks. Some days Sasuke helps with the cooking, and they bump into each other near the counter on accident. e conHsiders himself lucky that his roommate’s so noisy with everything he does or else they'd bump into each other much, much more often.
Some bad evenings, where even dinner is hard to swallow and keep down, they share a bottle of sake. It helps the both of them forget for just a little while, the feeling of heat in his face and Naruto’s melodic storytelling helping him relax his always tense shoulders. His friend’s laugh is contagious after every single joke or funny anecdote from the times they spent apart, or together, or alone. Naruto tells him about Sai, about Tsunade, about the friends he hasn’t seen in years and Sasuke tells him about Suigetsu and Karin and his brief time with Akatsuki in return.
On particularly bad nights, they don't talk.
It’s such a night then, Sasuke listening to the crickets sing under the window, vaguely sensing the moonlight as it hits the balcony. Maybe it’s a full moon. The thought alone is enough to recall the image of Itachi perched on a rooftop, red eyes shining brightly at him and suddenly his legs go numb and his fingers grip tightly onto the railing. The image is so real that it feels like he can reach out and touch his dead brother, he gags, he shakes his head violently as he tries to get rid of the goddamn memory that’s haunting him. He recalls what Kakashi told him about grounding and he tries to remember what day it is. It doesn’t help - he can't. No control.
Just as he is about to spiral, before his breath has a chance to become fast and heavy, he hears the floorboards creak behind him and snaps back to reality. Naruto, no doubt. Heavy, slow.
'You're up, huh?'
The blonde approaches him and joins him on the balcony. Sasuke takes note of the noise his feet make on the concrete, then the sound the rail makes when he lays his arm on it, and then the warmth of his body as he stands next to him, at his right. He doesn't respond, and for a long time, Naruto doesn't say anything, either. He thinks they'd just stay here in silence until one of them finally feels tired enough to lay down and pass out, but then Naruto moves his arm off the rail.
He doesn't think all that much of it until he feels warm fingers on his own, cold ones.
Naruto doesn't apologise. Sasuke doesn't say anything.
A good day follows that night. Everything seems calm in the household. Sasuke is crouching down near a plant, listening closely to the noise of the water on the soil to determine when it’s watered enough. Naruto is humming off key in the kitchen, the pan screeching under the eggs he’s frying. Sunny side ups.
They sit on the floor as they eat their breakfast, in a silence that’s different from the one yesterday. Today is calm, today is idyllic. Sasuke turns his head to where he knows the window is, appreciating the sunlight that seems to beam in. So bright.
This is definitely vision.
It's been years since anyone celebrated his birthday, so he forgets about it completely until his apartment is flooded with people (three people, to be exact, but that seems like too much in the cranked little space and Sasuke decides to just stay seated so he wouldn't bump into anyone). Fucking Naruto.
Sakura made him a cake, which, okay, that’s sweet of her, she remembered his childhood favourite, blueberry. Kakashi got him a bottle of fine whiskey from some land he's never heard of, but it smells fragrant and strong so he appreciates it. Sai gives him artwork that’s painted with thick paint and Sasuke could touch it and observe it. Suigetsu and the others had sent him a box full of cool weapons they’d found.
Naruto got him a cat.
Sasuke opens up that whiskey after a week.
It’s an especially bad night for the both of them. Sasuke had been through a meltdown already, hidden shamefully in his room, (though he knows that these walls are too fucking thin to hide his heavy breathing and quiet noises and lack of control), and Naruto, he’s just really quiet. That's when he knows it’s time to step in and offer an ear and/or alcohol.
There have been worse coping mechanisms, right?
They take shots together until most of the bottle is gone, the burn of the alcohol still in their throat, their mouth, their chest, and warming up their faces and limbs. Naruto gets drunk fast, Sasuke has noticed that, and since he himself is feeling drowsy and numb and stupid right now, Naruto surely is too.
Their quiet conversation is eventually crushed by Naruto's laughs and Sasuke's amused chuckles, the atmosphere warm and heavy, making the room feel small and cosy and homey. Naruto feels close.
'Remember that? That exam was /something/. I was so excited to watch you fight, you know. I was excited to fight you myself.'
'And then I was so scared for you, I thought Gaara was going to kill you. He's come such a long way, you know? He's kazekage now. Gaara-sama. Sounds funny. I still remember him as just a kid. He's still just a kid.'
'Yeah, we all still are.'
'Yeah. But still, it just - it was such a rush, you know? Watching you two. I couldn't wait for our turn. I wanted to show you how good I was but you were so strong. And then when we fought in the valley, that... That was not what I wanted, you know? It was something so different, and... It was so hard to see you go.'
'And - ah, fuck, I'm drunk - but it was so... So hard to let you go when I tried so hard to keep you close to me, and... Ah, dammit. This is not the time to unpack all that.'
'It's okay. I'm home now.'
'You are.' Sasuke feels even warmer, the floorboards next to him creak. He feels something furry against his right shoulder. Mochi? No, no. This is Naruto's hair.
In some drunken, unrestricted state of mind, he reaches up and gently runs his fingers through his friend's hair, those ridiculous curls that he imagines still fall into Naruto's face all the time. It’s all tangled up - he supposes neither of them pay the closest attention to their personal hygiene when they are this low. His own hair is probably a mess, too.
He feels Naruto sigh, his entire body shifts with the deep breath. His fingers venture on. Upward. He runs his fingers up the slightly sweaty temple, just observing, feeling the texture of the skin. Then he drags his thumb down Naruto's cheek - it still feels so childlike and round, the only sharpness on his face being his jawline. He feels the bumps of Naruto's ridiculous whisper scars.
Naruto lets out an airy, light laugh when Sasuke's finger reaches down to his chin. That sound surely is something – it’s like sunlight, Sasuke thinks, but when he tries to voice this, his words come out weird and drunkenly twisted and Naruto laughs at him again, burying his face in Sasuke's upper arm.
'Well maybe you shouldn't have come into my fucking room at night when you know I can't just open my eyes and tell that it's you.'
'Okay, alright, but you should've figured it's me - we've been living together for months, Sasuke, you know?'
'What do you even want?!'
The room falls silent. Sasuke wipes his kunai into his shirt, cleaning whatever blood might have been on it off, and sets it on his bedside table with a metallic noise. The sound of it is enough to calm him down a little.
He can smell Naruto's blood where he cut him in his hasty act of self-defence. He’s actually been sleeping tonight and Naruto just had to come in and wake him up. Of course he would get all defensive, what was he thinking?
'I just had to know you're still here. It's good to see you asleep and relaxed like everything is fine again, you know?'
The room falls silent again until the floorboards creak and the door shuts with a quiet click. The walls feel empty and cold. He can hear Naruto tossing all night after that.
The morning after that incident is spent in a tense kind of quiet. Sasuke sits with Mochi in his lap, gently stroking the animal, who in turn is purring appreciatively; the sound and the vibrations that swim up all the way to his chest are therapeutic. Naruto really hit the nail on the head with this one.
'Naruto? What colour is he?'
Sasuke can't hide his slight, amused smile – he’s just like Naruto.
They stay silent again for a while before he sets the cat down on the ground and makes his way over to the source of Naruto's voice, stopping only a few inches from him. 'Where did I cut you last night?'
Sasuke hears Naruto try to start explaining, but he is raising his hand up close to his face and Naruto understands what he wants immediately. He takes hold of the pale, elegant fingers and guides them to his face, right over his cheekbone where he left a shallow cut last night.
He drags his thumb over the wound, the skin tender under his fingertips. Naruto winces ever so slightly. Sasuke doesn't pull his finger back, doesn’t apologise.
He keeps exploring Naruto's features with gentle, light touches. He drags the backs of his fingertips over his cheek the way he did a few nights before, then lets the tip of his index finger follow the curve of Naruto's nose, his thumb swipes over his forehead – there’s a scar here he hadn't seen before - and finally, it comes to settle on his bottom lip. He releases it and it gives a soft sound when it springs back into place.
The world stops for a moment. No sounds, no movements, just the both of their breaths and the rumble of their hearts, proof of how very alive they are in this moment.
He feels something poke his cheek before he feels something soft on his lips. Naruto.
It takes him a moment to register what’s going on, the feeling foreign and new, and right when he closes his eyes and starts to enjoy it, Naruto is pulling away.
'I'm sorry, I- I'm going to the market. I'll bring you cherry tomatoes.'
Sasuke doesn't get the chance to say anything.
Sasuke has no idea what time it is when Naruto returns but he can't see the sunlight. It must be late. He’s sitting in the middle of the room at the kotatsu, an empty shot glass in front of him along with the now empty bottle of whiskey that Kakashi gave him.
The silence is ridiculous. Is Naruto standing in one place? He can only hear the little pit-pat of Mochi moving around somewhere in the bathroom. He can barely hear Naruto's breathing.
'Look, I'm... I'm sorry.'
Sasuke jerks his head towards Naruto out of habit. He stands up with a heavy sigh, stumbling just a little, feeling lightheaded after drinking.
'You're such a fucking idiot.' He mutters, stepping close to Naruto again and reaching out to cradle the younger's face in his hand (he misses the first time, but hey, he’s blind).
His thumb traces the same features it did in the morning. He feels stupid whisker scars and a long, thin scab on a sharp cheekbone, and he feels a pair of wet lips. His finger glides over it with ease; he realises that Naruto must’ve licked them moments ago but he doesn’t mind all that much. His hand comes to rest under a manly chin, thumb placed just under a shaking bottom lip – he can feel the warm air spilling out over it. Everything is quiet save for Naruto’s shuddering breath.
He leans forward and connects their lips like Naruto did before.
It’s even better than when Naruto kissed him, this time it’s soft and deliberate. His mouth is warm against his own, he smells of flowers - was he at Ino's? - and of something Sasuke can't describe in any way other than home. Everything feels so very alive. The way Naruto closes the gap between them by pulling him just a bit closer by his waist, the way he sighs against his lips in almost relief, how his jaw moves under Sasuke's hand. They only pull back when Sasuke realises how out of breath he is, a light chuckle leaving his lips as he catches his breath. His heart is pounding like he'd ran a marathon. His chest rises and falls in the same pace as Naruto’s. He can feel the blonde's heartbeat against his chest, rapid and alive.
They kiss again. Sasuke is briefly reminded of when they were twelve and accidentally smashed their lips together, teeth clashing - this is not like that at all. Naruto takes control of him easily, his hand slips up to hold his jaw. He kisses the same way he lives, every feeling bared and visible and eager. Sasuke lets himself be led, following Naruto's actions, willing to give up control if only for a few minutes.
After that evening, everything somehow becomes more open and vulnerable. It’s as if that moment of weakness and pure emotion they shared while standing at the front door knocked down all of their walls. Naruto talks more on his quiet days, telling Sasuke about the things on his mind, and sometimes Sasuke would let himself break down on the kitchen floor instead of his room and have Naruto stay close while he rides out another attack. He doesn’t feel any less humiliated but it passes much quicker. They are still equals when he gets up off the floor and goes to wash his face.
Sometimes, Naruto would come into Sasuke's room during the night. The first time it happened, Sasuke reached for the kunai but put it down immediately when he heard Naruto's voice.
'Can I sleep with you tonight? I'm having a rough night, you know.'
He lifted the covers almost immediately as a quiet invitation, and Naruto crawled in quickly. The bed was too small for the two of them, still is. The younger was so hesitant, trying to leave enough space for Sasuke, but it just made everything that much more uncomfortable.
'You can touch me, idiot.'
An arm wrapped around him then, along with the feeling of a warm body against him, the soft cotton of his best friend's shirt rubbing comfortably against his hand where he placed it on Naruto's chest. It was easy to fall asleep when Sasuke felt so safe, so close to another.
He wasn't in control. He didn't need to be.
They woke up with their legs tangled and Naruto's breath tickling the crook of his neck. Sasuke wished he could see what he looked like right then.
Sasuke is spiraling. He’s sitting at the kotatsu, his head in his hand and elbow resting on the tabletop, Mochi nestled in his lap and purring despite his sharp breaths and shaky body. He has learned not to fight these. Even if the state of being absolutely out of control is devastating and so hard to endure, he knows it just lasts longer if he tries to suppress it. So he lets it have its way with him, his memories and thoughts and vision washed over with events of the past and the future, his head pounding with the feeling of imminent death, his heart racing, his body simultaneously pumping blood to his legs so he could run and freezing him to the spot. He doesn't notice Naruto sit down next to him, his hearing completely ruled over by screams and sobs and Itachi talking to him and a thousand birds.
He only notices the hand on the small of his back. It pulls Sasuke back into reality even if just for a moment, it’s what Kakashi described to him as grounding; Naruto is here, this is his home, he isn't dying, the house is quiet. The effect isn't immediate, but eventually he manages to remember where he is, hears the quiet noises of the house instead of the birds. He calms down after a few minutes and accepts the glass of water that Naruto hands him.
'I'll help you to the bathroom.'
'Naruto, I can get around on my own.'
'I know, but you're shaking, you know.'
Sasuke can't really argue after that. Naruto helps him up onto his trembling legs, his arm never leaving Sasuke's waist as they make their way to the tiny bathroom. The cold rush of water on his face pulls him back down completely, his senses return to normal.
Naruto responds with a short, gentle kiss. He doesn’t say anything.
'Naruto, why are you putting up with my shit?' Sasuke asks one night when they are pressed chest to chest in Naruto's bed.
'That's pretty unlike you to ask, you know,' Naruto sings, pulling him a little bit closer to himself. 'Why do you think I crossed the entire world for you, you bastard?' The quiet laugh that follows makes Sasuke's heart swell.
'You're my everything, Sasuke. Always have been, you know. Always will be. We're tied together by something much more serious than fate. I know you know that, too. 'Why do I put up with your shit', you're such an idiot, Sasuke. I love you, that's why.'
Sasuke knows he’s supposed to be shocked at the quiet confession, but he isn't, not at all. Deep down, he's known this all along. It just makes sense - what else would bring Naruto to accept dying next to him? To go through all that pain just to get him back?
Still, the words stir up feelings inside of him that he isn't sure how to process. The doubt of feeling undeserving of this love. The fear of ever impending death around them. He can't lose Naruto when he’s so content with him. How can the younger admit these serious feelings to himself so easily? He never understood how Naruto could wear his heart on his sleeve like some idiot, leaving himself bare and vulnerable and out of control.
He doesn't return the words. Naruto knows, anyway, he’s sure.
A few weeks have passed since Naruto confessed to Sasuke. He hasn’t repeated his words since then and Sasuke wonders if it’s selfish to leave Naruto hanging like that.
He wishes he could just tell him, he wishes he could admit to the both of them that he’s so in love with Naruto that it hurts, that he loves him so much that it terrifies him, that every single day that he wakes up with Naruto’s body pressed against his own he regrets ever thinking about taking either of their lives. But he just can’t because saying it aloud would make it real, would make it all the more crippling when Naruto eventually leaves him like everyone else he’d ever loved.
He makes sure he shows Naruto instead. On lazy mornings, the two of them stay in bed for hours talking and Sasuke feels so overwhelmed by what he feels towards the warm idiot wrapped around him that he lets his lips travel all over his face and his neck until Naruto pushes him away because he’s so ticklish. He waters all of his plants every morning so he only has to do it in the evening. He treats him to his favourite food at the stupid stand every other week. He asks Sakura to bring his favourite flowers – sunflowers. At this point, Naruto probably thinks they’re from Sakura but he doesn’t mind all that much as long as he can hear the smile on Naruto’s voice when he marvels at them.
When he was younger, Sasuke thought that intimacy meant sex and nothing else, that the only way two lovers could be close was through making love. He’d never had a better example, certainly not from his parents (he’d never seen them do anything that even remotely suggested that they were more than two people simply sharing a home and producing offspring, Fugaku being the ever cold bastard that Sasuke remembers him being. He thinks about his mother often, wonders just how she ended up next to that dick).
When he realises that many months have passed since Naruto and him began whatever this was (their friends never ask why they are kissing so they never had to label themselves. It’s always just Naruto and Sasuke being themselves, it’s just as natural to their friends as it is to them) he thinks a lot about how he should be giving himself over to Naruto, how couples are supposed to be intimate at this point in their relationship, and it scares him, it scares big boy Uchiha to think about having sex and he hates himself for it deeply. He doesn’t know what it is, it’s not self-consciousness, that’s for sure, it’s not that he’s scared Naruto won’t find him attractive because he’s been naked around him countless times, they live together after all; he tries to chalk it up to the years of emotional trauma that he had to suffer but that doesn’t erase his shame.
Naruto never pushes him. Not once. They work well together, having adjusted to and learned every move and gesture of the other person over the near one year they spent together. Naruto understands Sasuke’s limits without him having to say a single word; whenever he feels like something is out of line, he braces a hand on Naruto’s shoulder and the younger knows to back off; and when Sasuke crosses a line – like when he touches his neck too suddenly, for too long, or when he grips his arm too tight - Naruto’s breath hitches just so and Sasuke knows to pull his hand away.
But after some time, he realises that Naruto and him are intimate in ways other than sex. He notices the way they act around each other, not just Naruto but he himself, in situations when they are vulnerable. He notices how Naruto barely breathes when he shaves Sasuke, something he’s taken to doing because he always seems to miss a spot. He realises that he speaks in a voice much softer and quieter when they are sitting outside on the balcony at night, sharing an occasional smoke, sitting so close that Sasuke thinks they will melt into one and talking about their past. Sometimes one of them will start crying and there’s no shame, just the two of them under the cool blanket of the evening, and when everything is calm again, they share a deep kiss, the salt aching on both of their tongues.
He can’t miss the way his heart feels so full and so much like home when he takes a bath with Naruto, their bodies resting on each other in the heat of the water, their hands holding tightly so onto each other he’s scared he’ll break Naruto’s fingers.
They stop drinking when they’re low – they never hide their breakdowns anymore. It’s easier to get through everything together, it’s much easier to pick himself up when Naruto is there to talk over that disgusting, squeaky noise in his ears, easier to forget how real it felt to have his eye ripped out of its socket when Naruto is touching him gently. And in turn, whenever Naruto seems too quiet, Sasuke makes sure to get him out of the house, invite his friends over, make sure he eats enough and keeps his hygiene up.
Every night before they fall asleep, Sasuke tries to tell Naruto how much he loves him. He never manages to but he often tells him that he means the world to him, and Naruto doesn’t complain. He lets him touch his face like he does every night, fingers quietly dancing on his eyelids, then his nose, and tells Sasuke how much he means to him in return.
'Mmf, you're pulling my hair,' Sasuke mumbles against Naruto's mouth, the whole room burning up around them, scorching hot skin against his own, hearts pounding against touching chests. Naruto pulls back to mutter a soft apology and move his hand away from the black locks of hair. Sasuke feels the pain ease, a content hum leaves his mouth as Naruto noses into his neck, soft mouth attaching to the tender skin. Fuck. Sasuke's eyes are shut tightly despite it not making any difference, his hand clutches into Naruto's hair so he could steady himself in this whirlwind of heat and bodies.
He isn't sure how he ended up on his back with Naruto atop of him but he’s sure he's never felt safer than he does right now, his legs spread slightly to give way to Naruto's knee between them.
It’s so easy to give up control right then, all of his senses completely taken over by the body on him, the weight grounding him, pushing him into the mattress in the gentlest way possible – it’s obvious that Naruto is paying close attention not to hurt Sasuke with his weight. He tilts his head up to expose his neck fully to the blonde, giving quiet noises in response to the soft kisses.
'Sas'ke, I want you.' Naruto mutters against the skin he’s been worshipping and Sasuke hears something he hasn’t heard before in his tone; it’s husky, deep, breathy. His burning hot hand travels down Sasuke's bare torso, bumps all over the lightning shaped scars that radiated from the remainder of his arm, and stops right above his V-line. Tease. Sasuke presses his hips up, right against Naruto's thigh, sparks fly under his eyelids.
'I am yours.’
From then on, everything seems like a blur. Sasuke's head is clouded, his ears filled with his lover's pants and grunts, his nose filled with the smell of sweat, his skin burning up, his stomach full of a feeling that he's never experienced before that he didn’t know he could feel, didn’t think he ever would. Everything feels like the light that enters his damned eyes at noon, so warm and bright.
They don't speak, at least Sasuke doesn't, communicating in quiet grunts and nods, too lost in the feeling of vulnerability, the bliss of handing over the control, the sensation of being complete and one with the person he loves most.
It feels like a different world when they lay in bed together afterwards, Sasuke's hand on Naruto's face, exploring every single inch of it. He’s done this a million times and every single day he’s in awe of just how beautiful he imagines (and remembers) Naruto to be. His nose holds a satisfying curve that his fingers can slide down freely, save for the small scar over the bridge and the small bump that reminds him of the Valley. His cheeks are embellished with a set of scars so uniquely him that Sasuke would know them anywhere. His eyebrows are waxy, his forehead is slick with sweat. His jawline is rough with the stubble he seems to grow overnight now, his lips are soft in contrast when he traces them with his thumb.
He wishes he could see those eyes right now, rather than just rest his fingers over the eyelids. They must be so beautiful, glowing bright blue under the moon. Oh well. Naruto is still beautiful like this.
'I love you.'