They had been younger once, children barely on the cusp of adulthood. Battle-ready and scarred before the age of thirteen, angered and proud and consumed by petty rivalries.
Sasuke slept and Naruto watched him, a small smile dancing on his lips. They had been younger once, just children searching for themselves, even then Naruto loved nothing more than to trace his eyes over the lines of Sasuke's face. He had always been enchanting, scowling or smiling. Naruto allowed himself a short laugh, to think he had ever confused his love for jealousy.
"What?" Sasuke cracked an eye open, his voice rough from sleep, his skin painted in shades of pink and orange under the early morning light leaking through parted curtains.
Shaking his head, Naruto smiled. He tucked a strand of dark hair behind Sasuke's ear. "Nothing," he murmured. "Just looking at you."
Eyes half-closed against the sun, Sasuke peered up at him. He had grown his hair out since the year before, dusting against his shoulders and curling languidly around Naruto's fingers when he lazily played with it, and it fell across his face in thick sheets.
Naruto hoped he would never have it cut.
Sasuke grunted, noncommittally, and pushed the palm of his hand flat against Naruto's shoulder. "Too close. I can smell your morning breath."
"Didn't seem to bother you yesterday, or the day before that." He bit back his smile and rubbed his nose into the crook of Sasuke's neck, if only to feel the hint of Sasuke's laugh before he was shoved away again.
"I wasn't hungover yesterday. Nn. Who let me drink so much?" Arm thrown over his eyes, Sasuke groaned.
Let me marry you, Naruto thought, a dopey smile inching across his face. The thought, not new, had played over and over in his head for the past six months, had grown only louder and more persistent the more it was ignored.
"What can I do for you?" Naruto asked, voice quiet, hands gentle in cupping Sasuke's chin and turning his head. He had drank as much as Sasuke, but alcohol had no effect on him and he couldn't even pretend to imagine his throbbing headache.
"Coffee. Black." And after a moment, his voice as quiet, "I love you."
Let me marry you, please, please. The thought was a constant plague and, pressing a kiss to the inside of Sasuke's wrist before he slipped off to their small kitchen, Naruto's mind ran wild.
It was always there, at the back of his mind. When Naruto found him napping at the kitchen table, a little drool running down his chin and over the back of his hand; when he sang while cooking dinner, his hand twisting with the rhythm as he seasoned their plates of food; when he pulled Naruto to his side in the middle of the night, tangled their bodies together in his sleep; Naruto wanted to marry him.
When he smiled, when he laughed so hard he cried, when he played with their neighbour's children and pretended he hated how loud and how clingy they were afterwards, when he was curled in the corner of their ratty couch and half-reading a book; Naruto wanted to marry him.
When he was doing absolutely nothing,when he was in the most natural state of existence; Naruto wanted to marry him.
The kettle wailed, and Naruto jumped back with a yelp.
"Don't burn my coffee!" Sasuke yelled, too loud for a man fighting back a headache and shuffling around the room trying to get dressed.
"I'll burn it on purpose now, bastard," Naruto called back. But he smiled to himself, careful as he prepared the coffee as bitterly as it was preferred.
A head, dark hair in a mess of tangles, popped out from around the door. "I'll leave you."
With a wave of his hand, Naruto dismissed him. "I'll move on. According to Ino and Hinata, I'm quite eligible."
A pair of rolled up socks hit Naruto in the side of his head. "Because of me." The smile was in his voice, in his eyes, even if it wasn't on his mouth.
Gods. Naruto ducked his head and grinned, stirring the cups of coffee to distract himself from the muffled swearing coming from the room, Sasuke no doubt tripping over the hastily discarded pieces of clothing from the beginning of the weekend that they kept meaning to clean up. He loved Sasuke so much.
He loved Sasuke so much, and he ached to think of how much time together they had lost, apart and at war when they should have had this; this gentle love creating a home of every second of their lives. This peace finding a sanctuary in the touch of their hands and their small apartment where the sun touched everything and Sasuke so close, so close, Naruto could go and kiss him right now, if he wanted to.
Watching the coffee swirl lazily, Naruto smiled to himself. He would always want to, for as long as Sasuke would let him.
Sakura pestered him on an almost daily basis, whenever the opportunity arose, asking him why he didn't just propose already.
He rarely talked in his sleep, but the one night that he did he was sandwiched between the most obnoxious pair of girlfriends and woke up to two pairs of widened eyes inches away from his face. "Marriage?" Sakura, painfully squeezing his cheeks and forcing him to move past his sleep-hazy confusion, asked.
Hinata had just rested her head on her knees and stared, her serenely vacant smile bestowed upon him.
"I love him. So, so much," Naruto had whispered.
I love him more than I have ever loved anyone. His life and mine are one and the same; there is no me without him, there is no light in my life without him. He is my everything, my always, my forever. He had closed his eyes tight and swallowed, Sakura and Hinata's eyes too filled with care for him to stomach, right then. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, I want to know him until die. I never want to unknow him, never again.
Hinata had placed a hand on Naruto's elbow, her touch gentle, and Naruto choked. On his words, on the love he held in his heart, on everything that he wanted, he choked. "I just love him," he said, instead, and he stared at the wall until his eyes burned and Sakura moved to lay her head on his shoulder.
But his love for Sasuke was no secret, and that had been four months ago. And every time the topic of marriage came up between the two of them it was always as some distant thing, something for future Naruto and Sasuke to worry about. Not for them. Not as they were.
If he was honest. Naruto sighed. If he was honest, he knew Sasuke loved and wanted to be with him more than anything, but he wasn't even sure Sasuke really wanted to marry him. Not entirely sure, anyway.
Maybe Sasuke wasn't the marriage type and, some nights, staring blankly up at their cracked ceiling as the other man slept beside him, he reasoned he could learn to be okay with that.
He exhaled, low and long, and set their meagre breakfast of coffee and lightly toasted bread on their kitchen table.
Usually, he would scramble eggs to go with, but they had finished more than half their groceries by Saturday afternoon and neither man had been too bothered with anything that didn't concern being curled around each other, half-watching reruns of old TV shows whenever they weren't laughing into kisses or reacquainting hands with the lines of each other's bodies, much needed after a too long week of work.
It had been a good weekend, Naruto grinned, leaning on the table and poking a finger into a jar to taste the mango jam Sasuke had bought on a whim.
"Thanks," Surprising Naruto with his sudden presence, Sasuke said. Sweet kisses pressed to his cheek, to the corner of his mouth, followed soon after. Naruto craned his neck for more, but Sasuke pulled away. "You haven't brushed your teeth yet."
Naruto threw up his arms. "When did it matter before? Are you on some new health kick where you can't kiss your boyfriend before he brushes his teeth? That doesn't even make sense!"
"I'm not the one with sleep-breath."
A small furrow formed in his brow as he took Sasuke in. His hair was parted in a style Naruto had seen only once before, and wouldn't object to seeing him wear more often, the shirt and pants he wore more formal than anything Naruto knew he owned.
He looked more prepared for a board meeting than a Monday off with his boyfriend, recovering from a hangover.
Running a hand through his hair, mussing up what must have been a good ten minutes of styling, Sasuke turned to cast Naruto a pointed glare. "You're just staring at me, are you even listening to anything I've said?"
"Do you have work today?" Naruto asked, finger to his chin.
"Just a quick thing." He took a seat across the small table and reached for his coffee. Admiring the rim of the mug instead of looking up at Naruto, he gulped down half the cup.
"But it's our anniversary weekend! You're only supposed to go back tomorrow," Naruto pressed, aware he was whining. "What am I supposed to do while you're gone, read and pretend I'm not tragically alone?"
"It works for Kakashi." Sasuke shrugged and Naruto pouted.
A deep red seared across his cheeks and he threw his hands over his face. "Oh, I'm definitely leaving you." His voice, muffled by the press of his hands against his mouth, came out weaker than he had intended.
"I'll be back before it's too late," brushing the tips of his fingers along the bare length of Naruto's arm, Sasuke said. "I promise. Stop whining, okay."
His hands, calloused, worn from battle and blood, and yet they caressed Naruto with the greatest care he had ever known. Held him as if love could be sent through the lightest touch of skin against skin; held him as if he, in all his being, was holy.
Sasuke had whispered it once, when they were learning how to love each other again. When they laid together in Naruto's bed and listened to their breaths, growing quieter as each moment ticked slowly by, fill up every corner of the room. "Is this how it feels, when you're religious?" His voice, loud in the hush of night. But he kissed Naruto before Naruto could ask him what he meant, and neither of them had brought it up afterwards.
"Hey," Sasuke said, tickling at Naruto's wrist. "I wouldn't go out if I didn't have to. You know that if I could help it I would never spend a single moment away from you." He paused. Meeting Naruto's eyes, a slow smile inched its way across his lips, and he murmured, "My beloved."
Naruto dropped his hands and laughed, loud and quick, a blush undeniably high on his cheeks and tinging the tips of his ears. Warmth and light flooded his chest. "Shut up, you're such a sap. Everybody thinks Sasuke Uchiha is so cool but I know better— you're a romantic and a dork."
Shaking his head, Naruto smiled at the thought of the nickname Sasuke had used maybe four times in the entire run of their relationship. He'd spent many idle hours scheming up ways to get him to use it more, mostly in the form of not so subtle nudges instead of explicitly asking.
"I love my boyfriend, is that so bad." Sasuke rolled his eyes, no trace of venom behind the action, behind the following unintelligible grumble.
He looked so beautiful in that moment, a dot of crust dotting his bottom lip and hair that had tried so hard to be neat now framing his face in something short of a tangled mess, Naruto's mouth worked faster than his brain did. Sometimes Naruto would forget how truly stunning his boyfriend was, caught up in the mundaness of waking up to his smiles every morning and going to sleep to the sound of his voice every night, only to be reminded when he was least expecting it; often when it was most inappropriate.
Sasuke nudged him, distractedly. He had been staring again, wordless, for almost a minute.
"Let's get married," Naruto blurted, his mouth opening and his brain instantaneously going away on holiday.
But Sasuke. Sasuke just stared back. The colour drained from his face and he gripped the edge of the table hard enough for it to break under his hold.
What. The. Fuck. Have I just done? The thought ran at full speed through Naruto's head.
He couldn't take it back, the words already out in the open. So he set his jaw and leaned forward into Sasuke's space, his smile a beam of light shining down at him as he waited for a response. Any response beyond the deathly glare Sasuke was drilling somewhere over Naruto's shoulder, into the kitchen wall.
Sasuke stilled. Where he had been nibbling on a piece of toast half a moment before, he did not move.
He let out a low huff of breath. The clutter of his toast falling back onto his plate, almost brand new and a gift from Iruka when they'd moved in together, rang loudly in the eight AM quiet of their small apartment; a cacophony in the sudden fall of silence.
The moment hung for an hour, two. Naruto wondered if time had just stopped for them altogether.
"No." Sasuke didn't even cast a glance at Naruto as he said it; voice as rigid as the line of his back, rejection as severe.
The sharp scrape of his chair against the floor and the front door slamming behind his retreating figure setting in stone his rejection. Slicing right through the sudden cave of Naruto's chest.
Naruto swivelled in his chair. He pretended that he could see through the door, that on the other side he could imagine Sasuke wringing his hands and pacing the passage and waiting to apologise.
But he couldn't move; too dumbstruck and too stricken to stand and follow after him; too dumbstruck to do much else besides stare, open-mouthed, at nothing.
More than twenty years of their lives they had spent together, utterly consumed and devoted. They had fought each other and fought beside each other and fought to be together. Yet.
Of all the things Naruto had thought would happen if he ever popped the question— a surprised blink and a whispered "Yes" before Sasuke pulled Naruto in for a heated kiss, or, on the days his mind betrayed him and his insecurities clenched hungry hands around his lungs and heart, a "Tch" and a swift dismissal— Sasuke leaving, storming out, however. That had not even made it on his list.
He hadn't even had the decency to reject Naruto politely! And that almost had Naruto shaking his fist at the ceiling and yelling, maybe even wailing, for how distraught he was.
The door creaked open and Sasuke slipped inside. " Marry. " His voice rose and he closed the gap between them. His arms flew up in protest before Naruto could think of a way to respond. "What are you talking about? Why are you proposing today?"
"I want to marry you." Naruto tried for ease and shrugged, but his jaw held itself too tightly and his shoulders stood too firmly and he knew he looked more like he was ready for a fight. He muttered, "There's worse things in the world than being Mr Naruto Uchiha."
Sasuke started. "But why today ?"
Naruto scratched at his chin. Did something important happen today, something he had forgotten about? He chanced a glance up at Sasuke, finding his way from one corner of the room to the other with long strides and muttering loud fragments Naruto could barely keep track of.
Standing by the fridge, he shot a deathly glare at the group photograph of their genin team, Kakashi smiling widely behind them, that he had slyly pinned up during their second afternoon living together. He stabbed a finger at Sakura's smiling face. "She told you didn't she— I never should have— Today! Of all days."
Naruto's brow furrowed. "What? You don't want to marry me or something—?" he bit out, almost as harsh as Sasuke's 'no' had been.
Muttering to himself, Sasuke paid him no mind. He crossed the room and left again, hands clenching and unclenching, the door banging shut so hard it vibrated.
"Hey, bastard!" Naruto yelled, fluidly jumping up from his chair and unable to contain himself any longer. He stood somewhere on the precipice between anger and bitter betrayal, he wasn't yet sure on which side he would land. "At least have the guts to face me—"
As if his words were an act of summoning, the door was thrown open. Flying back hard enough Naruto would worry about it cracking on its hinges if he wasn't frozen in place by a sudden shock.
A curled hand stopped inches away from his face. Slowly, it opened, revealing a dark blue box like a pearl in the middle of an oyster.
"Sasuke," he breathed, more confused now then when Sasuke had left the first time. More clutching for words and answers than he had been then, too.
"I was going to ask Iruka-sensei for permission today." A faint blush dusted the tops of his cheeks, and the box was still right in front of Naruto's eyes, closed.
Naruto wanted to meet Sasuke's gaze, if only for a minute, but the other man held a hand over his eyes and faced away, would not budge.
"What? Permission for what?"
Sasuke drew out a long sigh. He dropped his hand and Naruto caught the roll of his eyes that could have been admonishing, but was most likely wracked with nerves. "I was going to ask Iruka-sensei for permission to marry you. I was going to ask him today. I'm still going to ask."
"Permission? To… marry… me?"
Snapping his eyes back to Naruto's face, Sasuke breathed out a tiny laugh. "So.
You didn't know." At least he had the decency to look sheepish, Naruto reasoned. "I'm sorry. Of course, Sakura wouldn't have—" And then, a small smile dimpling his cheek, he tilted his head to look at Naruto, and voice soft, said, "Yes, idiot, to marry you."
"You don't have to ask, he'll say yes."
"I'm still going to ask."
"Please allow me the opportunity to ask my future father-in-law for his son's hand in marriage."
He tried to hold back his own smile, but nothing in the world would be able to keep the warmth of his happiness from shining on his face. "Oh, Sasuke, did I ruin your plans?"
"Yes," Sasuke answered, dryly. Naruto cocked an eyebrow and Sasuke barked out a short laugh. "I was going to take you out for dinner. Not—" he cut himself off to laugh at the way Naruto perked up at the mention of food. "Not Ichiraku, not ramen. Again. Different food, fancier food."
"I would have liked that."
Sasuke's hand was warm where it rested in the curve of Naruto's neck, where his thumb ran small circles into Naruto's skin. "I know. I haven't spent my whole life loving you without learning how to love you right." He bumped his nose against Naruto's cheek. "Let's pretend this didn't happen, hmm, that you don't know I'm going to propose to you. Please."
He pretended to think about it for a moment, but puckered his lips and pressed forward. "Will you make it worth my while?"
"I'm still not kissing you until you've brushed your teeth." Pocketing the still-closed ring box, Sasuke narrowed his eyes at Naruto.
They had been younger once, just two children who had found a pieced-together home within each other. And even then, in moments snatched between training and fighting and studying, Naruto dreamt of one day being able to hold Sasuke without fear, without worry. Of one day being able to marry him, of one day being able to take his hand and call him his husband.
Sasuke placed a kiss to his neck, mouthed another apology into the line of Naruto's jaw.
All Naruto could do was laugh. His happiness like sunlight, shining from him; uncontainable, incredibly beautiful.
Sasuke left soon after and Naruto buzzed with excitement, the day passing both too fast and too slow.
He paced the room, checking the time and sighing when it seemed not to change between glances, and finally pulled his jacket on and slipped from the apartment.
His and his husband's apartment.
Leisurely, Naruto cycled through the corner of Konoha he and Sasuke had taken to calling theirs, and smiled at the thought. "Husband," he whispered to himself, grinning widely and waving to no one shopkeeper in particular. And even softer, "Mr Uchiha. Mr Naruto Uchiha. Hmm. Sasuke… Uzumaki ? Oh! Sasuke Uzumaki."
"Are you okay, Naruto?" Yuki Ito, an owner of the fish shop around the corner from their apartment, asked, stopping Naruto with a raised hand and a worried frown. She was a young mother of two, closer to middle-aged than not, and Naruto's reassurances did little to placate her. "When are you coming back to us, boy? It's been weeks and we all miss you."
It was years since Naruto had last held a full-time job, and longer since he had last wanted one. His attempts at returning to normalcy had had him curled up into Sasuke's side, his face pressed into the curve of Sasuke's neck, and murmuring, "It's just so empty and so draining… Life isn't supposed to be this monotony of fighting and fighting and fighting— And— I thought I wanted this, but it's so— It's too much."
"Then leave," the answer, steady and assured, had come with the gentle run of fingers through hair. The feeling that, regardless of Naruto's choices, there was one person, unwavering in their love of him, always.
So, he had. He filed for an exit and he was granted one.
He filled hours doing odd-jobs around the Academy, cleaning out the stockroom and watching over the students and spending long lunches laughing with Iruka, easing back into a life he had missed.
A week later when the same old exhaustion began to creep its way over him, he offered his services and his skills to Ichiraku's for two days each week. He cleaned and gutted fish for Yuki and her husband and delivered packages for Speedy Delivery and babysat groups of toddlers for exhausted mothers only too happy to pawn their children off for a few hours to one of Konoha's greatest heroes, on the many days in between.
Freedom. For the first time in his life, he was free, it was an amazing feeling; he had thought, once, it was the most amazing feeling in the world.
Naruto nodded, shortly, fighting the urge to yell "I'm going to get married to Sasuke Uchiha! I'm going to get married to the love of my life!" at the top of his lungs.
Instead, he hopped off his bike and took ahold of Yuki's hand, spinning her smoothly around and, when they eased to a stop, laughing so loud a few people walking past smiled with them, he said, "It's just a beautiful day today, isn't it, the most beautiful day ever."
Yuki exhaled a low laugh. "Gorgeous," she agreed, casting a critical look over Naruto, her hands clasping his and a sudden knowing glint in her eyes. A call came from inside the shop, and she turned her head slightly to yell her reply, but her eyes were quick to return to Naruto. "Congratulations," she whispered, bowing her head slightly and smiling, before heading back to her duties.
He blushed from the warmth of her knowing gaze. Was it so obvious? he wondered, his happiness just spilling from him for everyone to see and know without him needing to say anything. But he got back on his bike and realized he didn't much care; he would tell everyone who would give him half an ear, if he could.
His loop around their block ended at the front door to their building, and Naruto rushed to change into something that wouldn't have Sasuke rolling his eyes when he returned home and saw him.
Sasuke was smiling when he came home an hour later. And he was smiling when he looped his arm through Naruto's and lead them through streets they walked every day, further into town.
Naruto's heart sped up at the sight of it, small and curling along a face more lined from a scowl. "I take it it went well," he said, resting his head on Sasuke's shoulder as they meandered from street corner to street corner.
His brow seemed to furrow of its own accord. "What, my business lunch? Yeah, it went well." It was almost believable, but for the barest twinkle in his eye.
"Bastard," Naruto muttered under his breath.
Sasuke laughed, low and unexpected. He had meant it, then, when he had insisted the morning's conversation be forgotten, wiped from memory as if it hadn't happened at all.
"I'll make it up to you," he squeezed Naruto's forearm and, voice in Naruto's ear, breath warm along the line of his neck, whispered.
They passed Ichiraku, Naruto casting a forlorn glance over his shoulder at the small shop, safe and familiar, a refuge to him for many years of his childhood. Maybe it was time to once again pick up a shift at the restaurant, he thought, if only for the free bowls of ramen they would allow him for lunch.
He shook it away, the ideas of work, and tightened his hand around Sasuke's forearm, pulled himself back into the ebb and flow of the evening. Anticipation ate away at him as they entered a restaurant, as obviously new as it was expensive, and they sat close enough that the barest movement meant they touched.
Resting an elbow on the low table between bites of their main course, a fish dish he hadn't been too keen on ordering, Naruto leaned forward. "This is a bit flashy, isn't it? I mean the food's good but it seems a bit much."
"A bit much? That's saying a lot coming from you." Sasuke laughed, fondly, around a small bite of the grilled shake he had nudged Naruto into trying. "You're just not happy unless it's ramen."
"Is that so bad?" rolling his eyes, he deadpanned as flatly as he was able.
But Sasuke just smiled, that small, secretive smile that Naruto had been accustomed to having trained on him from the time they were children; that smile that Naruto managed to only fall more and more in love with as each day passed.
But frustration bristled underneath his skin, danced in jagged patterns along his spine.
He wanted to forget that he was supposed to be patient and waiting; wanted to forget social convention, lean across the table and grab Sasuke by his open collar, and demand he be his husband already.
"Sasuke…" his voice quietened, despite itself.
The small smile that had inched its way across Sasuke's face seemed to grow the slightest bit wider. His hand, as known to Naruto as his own, was a pillar of warmth when Naruto reached across the table to gently take it in his.
His eyes in the restaurant's dim light were dark. That deep brown flecked with shards of something like gold that Naruto had spent years committing to memory, almost black. Intense, as they locked steady gazes across the short distance.
He was the most enchanting person Naruto had ever known, and he wondered, in this moment where Sasuke's skin shone golden and a flush danced across the tops of his cheeks and a fierceness burned in his eyes— Naruto wondered what he looked like to him.
Sasuke squeezed his hand, then, once, and slipped out of his hold. "Dessert?" he asked, waving a server over before Naruto could answer.
"The house's dessert special?" their server asked, a conspiratorial smile on his lips as he directed his questions to Sasuke.
The other man nodded his agreement, sharply and without checking with Naruto.
Naruto crossed his arms over his chest as he watched the server disappear behind discreet kitchen doors. "What's the house special anyway? Maybe I wanted something else."
"How would you know if you want something else if you don't even know what you're getting?" The spark of mirth in Sasuke's eyes, undeniable.
Moments later, the server returned, a smile bitten back into its most polite form.
Two bowls of anmitsu, and a bottle of sake Naruto knew they hadn't ordered, soon found a place amongst the dishes before them.
Sasuke inclined his head. "Thank you," he said softly. "Sake?" turning his attention, his piercing gaze, back on Naruto, he asked.
Naruto nodded. Mutely, surprisingly enough for him. He had spent the whole night on the edge of excitement, now the nearer he could feel the moment draw the more he sank into bitter anticipation.
Sasuke bit into his dessert, and Naruto's eye twitched.
Are you toying with me for fun? He wanted to shove the food away and ask. "Kind of boring for a house special," he said, instead.
"You haven't even tasted it yet."
He wasn't sure if he really wanted to, but Sasuke was treating him to dinner, and he would eat every meal Sasuke put in front of him if it meant it wouldn't ruin his night.
From across the table an eyebrow arched in challenge, and Naruto could have wept. Biting into the anmitsu, he snatched furtive glances at Sasuke. He thought propose to me, God damn you, propose to me already, propose to me right now, propose to me! over and over in a loop until the words became a jumbled mess in his mind and he could feel the start of a headache behind his eyes.
Rough fingertips brushed against the corner of his mouth.
When Naruto looked up from his bowl, he met the warmth of Sasuke's eyes. Settling into the warmth of his touch, the curve of his hand, second nature to Naruto. "You still eat like that, you know? Messy. Like when we were genin."
He let Sasuke wipe away the offending piece of dessert but he did not let him stray too far, grabbing ahold of his hand and tangling their fingers together. "That was so long ago, it's weird to think we were ever that young. I mean, look at us, we're old men now."
His hand, caught in Naruto's, almost flying to his chest, Sasuke threw his head back and laughed. " Old? Speak for yourself. I'm not even thirty!"
Beautiful. He was the most gorgeous man Naruto had ever laid eyes on, that didn't change when his nose scrunched up and his mouth hung open from laughing, or when Naruto noticed a wrinkle where one hadn't been before.
He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Sasuke. And the waiting was killing him.
Naruto choked on a dry cough. "Sasuke…" With no real force behind the movement, he squeezed the hand in his, hoping that the fact that he was at the very end of his rope would find its way across without being uttered. His voice, when he spoke, was a harsh thing desperately clinging to softness. "Please." A rasp.
Sasuke understood. He always understood.
The box from that morning appeared in Sasuke's hand. Dark blue earlier, it seemed a deep black in the low light, still as small as remembered.
Naruto gasped at the sight of it and, itching to touch, he reached out. Without effort, Sasuke kept it away from him.
"You're so dramatic." Sasuke sighed. "Anybody ever tell you that?"
"You. All the time."
They watched each other, for seconds that dragged on for hours. Naruto wanted to say so much in that moment, wanted to push Sasuke to ask him the question he had been dying to hear for months, wanted to whisper that it was fine that it was okay that they could finish their dinner and pretend that nothing had happened.
He said nothing. Silent, but for the breaths he couldn't seem to get complete control over, he watched Sasuke, he forced himself to blink.
"I love you," Sasuke finally said, soft, so soft, voice a whisper in the wind fighting to not be snatched by the breeze. He popped open the box and cleared his throat, steeled his shoulders. "I love you, Naruto Uzumaki. I've loved you since before I knew I was capable of love, and never of such a deep, true love. I have said it before and I will say it everyday if you need me to, I am blessed to have you in my life, and I am blessed to be loved by you." He lowered his gaze for the length of a heartbeat, and the softness returned to his voice. "Your father has given us his blessing, my beloved. Will you honour me by agreeing to marry me?"
"Anybody ever tell you you're dramatic?" Naruto teased. But he was choking back tears, and choking on the love that he had for Sasuke and choking on every exclamation of love that threatened to overflow, uncontrollably, from him into their bubble of semi-privacy.
"You, all the time." His smile didn't quite meet his eyes. Sasuke moved the box closer to Naruto, almost unsure. "So. What do you say?"
Naruto bit back a scoff, at the absurdity of the day if nothing else. How could Sasuke think Naruto would say anything other than yes, he wanted to marry him? He hadn't wanted anything as much in a very long time.
"Yes." Naruto breathed. "Yes! And if you ask me to marry you one hundred times, I'll say yes two hundred times. I love you, Sasuke. Believe it."
Steady hands slid the simple silver ring onto him.
The round of polite applause and the rush of blood to his head drowned out anything beyond the sound of his racing heart and the feel of Sasuke's hands on his.
Giddy with endless happiness, he could defend away his actions if they were questioned.
"We're getting married," he said, disbelief tracing every word. Sasuke nodded. Naruto reached across the table and did what he had wanted to do for most of the night: pulled him to him, kissed him as if he were a drowning man and Sasuke his lifeline, his breath of oxygen. "You're going to be my husband," he breathed across the line of Sasuke's lips, breathed in the heady scent of him that never grew old.
The kiss that Sasuke left on the edge of his lips was chaste. "Finally," he whispered, an exhale of a breath Naruto hadn't been aware he'd been holding. "Now please take me home."
Naruto could do little but readily oblige.
"Do you remember our first kiss?" Sasuke's voice, quiet in the dark and ghosting over Naruto's chest as he curled up against him.
Naruto smiled to himself. Of course he remembered. They had returned from the Land of Waves unsteady around each other, cautious about spending too much time together. But, even then, even when they bickered more than anything else, they could barely spend more than a few days apart. It had been a sweet thing, a gentle peck of lips as they rested in the branches of an overgrown tree and waited for Sakura and Kakashi to join them.
Naruto tasted like ramen, and Sasuke had complained, swiping a hand across his mouth before moving in for another kiss, and another. How could Naruto forget that?
"—at the Academy," Sasuke was still talking. Naruto jerked his head to find his outline in the dark. "I was so surprised. I didn't even know you liked me— I didn't even know if I liked you— Actually, you were so loud, I was pretty sure I hated you — and then you kissed me. In front of everyone! I was so embarrassed. But a part of me was flattered and I couldn't explain why."
His brow creased of its own volition and he shifted to better face Sasuke. "That wasn't our first kiss," he said, slowly.
"What do you mean?"
"That wasn't our first kiss— It was an accident. Tobio pushed me."
Naruto sighed. He pinched at the bridge of his nose, of course, out of their whole class, Sasuke had only actually known him and Sakura. "Kinda short kid, black hair, evil looking smile."
Shaking his head, Sasuke met Naruto's eyes in the dark. "What do you mean it was an accident?"
"I mean, it was an accident. So, it wasn't our first kiss, no big deal." He shrugged. "Our actual first kiss was much better."
"All this time, and you didn't tell me."
"I didn't know you didn't know!"
"Hmph." Absently, Sasuke fiddled with drawstring of Naruto's sweatpants. "But, we have to count it as our first kiss."
"Why? It was embarrassing! For you, too, you just said that. I like our second one much better anyway." He smiled. "It was sweet."
"We have to count it as our first kiss, it's already in my vows."
Naruto shifted away without thinking. The fact that they had to write their own vows hadn't occurred to him; he didn't think that was the kind of thing Sasuke would want to do. "We just got engaged three hours ago and you've already written your vows?" he broached, question staining the sound of his voice and the tilt of his mouth.
"I've had them written for the past three years."
And Naruto loved him so much, in that moment and in every moment of their life together, he couldn't help but pull Sasuke to him and kiss him as passionately as he was able. "I love you," he whispered, laughing along the line of Sasuke's jaw and reveling in the sound of his low answering chuckle. "My husband," he hummed against Sasuke's skin. "My husband."