“So whaddya think? Does that sound okay to you?”
Sasuke stared over his steaming bowl of noodles at his former teammate sitting across from him, focusing on the movement of the blond’s lips. When he was a kid, he used to play a game at the dinner table. If he closed his left eye, the object in front of him shifted slightly to the left. If he closed his right eye, it moved to the right. He would do this in a daze, closing one of his eyes intermittently until his mother would lightly tap him on his nose, chiding him for bad manners. Itachi would chuckle good-naturedly at his little brother’s antics, and his dad would…
Well, his dad never paid him much attention anyway.
This time was no different except Naruto’s light tap was more of a bruising whack to the shoulder and his gentle chide was actually a “Will you stop that and answer my question?!”
“Hn,” was his eloquent response as he shifted his focus to his food, breaking apart his chopsticks and grabbing onto a single noodle, raising it slowly until it was at eye-level with him. He shook it a little before raising it high above his mouth and slowly lowering it onto his tongue. What was Naruto saying again?
“--not a proper response…and ugh! You’re disgusting! I can’t believe this is life after revenge for you.”
Sasuke exhaled as he shrugged, leaning on his hand as he helped himself to some pork in Naruto’s own bowl. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Naruto sighed in resignation at the hopeless piece of work sitting across from him, picking away at the blond’s pork, and blowing bubbles into his drink.
It was no secret that Naruto, dead last at the academy, relentless prankster, #1 knuckleheaded most unpredictable ninja or whatever it was, had actually grown into himself. He was respected throughout the nations for his heroics in the Fourth Shinobi World War, as expected. His tendency to make rash decisions based purely out of emotion was dwindling, thanks to regular shogi sessions with Shikamaru, and he regularly sat in on summits and counsel meetings.
He was well on his way to good things.
Sasuke on the other hand…
The Uchiha took the straw out of his mouth and gazed up at the ceiling, making a show of himself forming a thought. Naruto’s eyes brightened with anticipation. Sasuke tapped his chin before leveling a neutral gaze at his best friend, his hair flopping in his face. “Can you believe I peaked at 17?”
Naruto threw his hands up into the air, groaning in frustrations. “ARGH! Sasuke you are actually the most frustrating human being on this planet. You know why we are both here! STOP ACTING SO DUMB!”
Sasuke shifted closer to the table and leaned towards Naruto his eyes drifting to glance at the staring patrons of the restaurant. He actually had not a clue why they were there. “Lower your voice,” he whispered, slightly patronizing in tone. “You’re causing a scene.”
“THAT’S IT!” He slammed down a wad of bills from his pocket, got up, and grabbed Sasuke by the shirt collar, effectively dragging him out of the eatery. “I TRIED to do this the NICE way. I TRIED to open this up for discussion. But NO! What do I get for it?! A bratty UCHIHA WHO PLAYS WITH HIS FOOD AND TALKS NONSENSE.”
Sasuke allows himself to be dragged, only forcing his way out of Naruto’s grip once they reach the sidewalk. When he’s free, he brushes himself off and shoves his hands in his pockets, facing the blond. Better to bluff his way out of the situation than admit he hadn’t heard a word Naruto said.“So I never really had a choice to begin with, is what you’re saying.”
Naruto balked. He opened his mouth in defense, stuttering to find the right words. “Eh..eh…EHHH???”
“Why even go through the trouble of acting like my opinion was even relevant to the final decision? You want my blessing? You’re not going to fucking get it, but you and the fucking leadership will do it anyway. So, to save you and I trouble, whatever your so-called plans are that you have regarding my and my ancestor’s fucking property, I’m NOT okay with it, and I never WILL be okay with it.”
Naruto was speechless. Red in the face and mouth agape, he grabbed onto Sasuke’s forearm. “Now, hold on—“
Sasuke yanked his arm away, a frown marring his face (--he mentally compared himself to the mistreated protagonist in the drama he was currently watching...the emotional distress due to misunderstanding and miscommunication, but that parallel was going to ignored in this situation—). “It’s not like anything I say matters to you or them anyway. Big surprise that you people STILL refuse to listen to anything an Uchiha says.”
He began walking away (ah, yes, perfect..the sun was just beginning to set in front of him, so Naruto would have a perfect view of his silhouetted back getting farther and farther away) and stopped, turning his head to the side, peering at a frustrated Naruto from the corner of his eye. “I guess that would only be asking too much from Konoha.”
And with that, he disappeared within the crowds of the street.
Naruto stood dumbfounded in his place, feeling like he was having an out of body experience because it seemed as though he had just witnessed that entire situation from a third point of view.
He leaned on a nearby lamp post, shaking his head and sighing. Sasuke always had to make things so difficult. His penchant for taking the most melodramatic path could be quite exhausting. Also, was he even listening to a word Naruto was saying? Also, where was he even going? They lived together! Pushing himself off, he began walking in the opposite direction. He was going to have to think of a different plan.
Sakura snorted, slightly regretting taking a sip of her soda as she felt the carbonation crawl up her throat and out of her nose. “He—he WHAT?!”
Naruto cradled his head in his hands. “You heard me. He completely flipped out. He wasn’t even listening.” He looked up at Sakura, eyes imploring her for answers to his predicament. “I think he just assumed I was trying to wine and dine him into agreeing to the counsel’s plan to level part of the forest on the Uchiha grounds to turn into some kind of—like—I dunno, ninja condos or something. I knew it would never get passed so I never paid attention. I guess he thinks I’m in with them now, hah. As if we didn’t have more effective ways to get him to sway his opinions,” he winked, pinching Sakura’s flushing cheek.
Sakura laughed harder, causing Naruto to chuckle slowly at the sheer absurdity of the situation. “Hehe—as in—hah! As if that would ever happen! No investors would even back the capital for that project even if we did push for it!”
“I think Sasuke’s been watching too many dramas—“ Sakura said in between snorts.
“Bastard has no faith in me! He’s so self-involved of course he would make this all about him!” Naruto fanned away the distress he felt not too long before the realization that Sasuke was and will always be utterly insane.
“But like,” Sakura began to calm down, brushing away the tears pooling beneath her eyes. “Like, so…we’re still going to have to get Sasuke to agree.” She glanced around the room. “I mean, this place is just as much his as it is ours…”
“That fucking kitten was SO CUTE THOUGH, can’t we just surprise him,” Naruto cooed, gripped the edges of the table until his knuckles turned white.
Sakura’s face pinched together in pleasure. “I know! I had to keep myself from holding him because I just knew I would probably crush him on accident.”
Naruto peered at Sakura, currently squeezing a throw pillow tightly to her chest and nuzzling into it. “I’m not sure you should ever be allowed to hold the kitten…”
Nursing the bump and bruise on his head seconds later, he rescinded his statement, but not without reservations. “Sakura-chan, you’re just too strong…”
“Idiot, there isn’t going to BE a kitten if Sasuke doesn’t agree to it! I mean, his needs matter too, and he probably won’t mind the pet, but it’s still the right thing. Believe me, I’m struggling really hard to stay patient.”
“But it’s --“
“Now go find Sasuke so we can finally just adopt this fucking piece of FLUFF!”
Naruto’s face dropped. “Why ME?! He’s already pissed at me!”
Sakura rolled her eyes, pushing Naruto out of the door. “Because I SAID!”
After Naruto left, Sakura occupied herself in the house, researching medical scrolls, taking notes for new healing methods, and generally keeping busy. A couple hours in, she grew so restless that she just had to get out. So, gathering her things, she left the house.
Sasuke gazed up at the sky, laying in the grass of the field where Team 7 first trained as a genin group. He supposed it would make sense for him to be reminiscing about that time, but he had spent much of his rebellious teenage years thinking back on his genin days, like that stupid accidental kiss at the academy, and now those memories did nothing more than bore him. He’s done a lot more than kiss with the blond idiot since then. He didn’t have time for such vanilla walks down memory lane.
He sighed, thinking about earlier that day when he had been chastised for playing with his food. Naruto’s words really brought him back..
“Nii-san, nii-san, look! If I close one eye, you’re over here!” Sasuke laughed, pointing a spot just left of his older brother. “And and and…if I close my other eye, you’re over there!”
“How does it do that?” Sasuke asked, gazing up at his older brother with wide eyes.
Itachi opened his mouth, ready to explain the exact, scientific reasons why this illusion occurred because Itachi was never anything less than concise, but he was stopped short by his mother who ruffled Sasuke’s hair and smiled sweetly. “It’s magic my little dear! And you’re a clever boy for noticing!”
At the head of the table, Fugaku rolled his eyes and bit back a smile at Sasuke beaming proudly at Mikoto’s compliment.
As dinner went on, Sasuke was reduced to an overstuffed five year old. He began picking up bits of his food and hanging them over his mouth and slowly lowering them onto his tongue as if he were a crane. He vaguely heard his family talking in the background and beyond the piece of broccoli dangling from his fingertips, he saw his mom lean towards him and felt a light tap on his nose.
“Sasuke-kun, we asked you a question. Now stop playing with your food and answer!”
He looked between his waiting family members, nervous because he had not been paying attention at all. Itachi smirked playfully, but all the same it still instilled feelings of inferiority within the younger Uchiha. “If you weren’t listening, I can repeat my question.”
Sasuke was aghast, or as much as a five year old could be. “No! I heard you! And the answer is…” He glanced between his mom and dad, the former smiling encouragingly and the latter deadpanning as usual. “Uhh…hmm… EXCUSE ME I HAVE TO USE THE BATHROOM!”
And he got up and ran. As he left the room he could hear his mother and Itachi lose themselves in a fit of barely contained laughter, mutterings of “so cute” and “I can hardly stand it”, and had he strained his ears just a little more he would’ve heard a quiet baritone snort escape his stoic father.
And he knew the laughter was not quite at his expense, but he still felt embarrassed for being called out when he wasn’t paying attention.
Sasuke opened his eyes, blinking at the darkened sky above him. “It’s not my fault food is more fun to play with than to eat.”
He also realized that he probably completely fucked up the whole conversation with Naruto earlier. He wasn’t paying any attention, much like his younger self around his family dinner table (it was nearly a daily occurrence. As it turned out Sasuke was really good at never learning from his mistakes from the get-go.)
He rolled over on his side, half burying his nose in the grass. Like hell he would apologize. But also, he said some things that were pretty out of line and accusatory in order to save face. He knew the Uchiha grounds would never be turned into condos, but he had panicked and that was the first thing to pop into his head.
He felt a solid form drop itself next to him. Unsurprisingly, he found a mop of blond hair as he turned his head to see the culprit of the disturbance.
“Moron,” he said.
Naruto didn’t miss the endearing quality of Sasuke’s voice, so he smiled and pinched the pale cheek of the Uchiha. “Bastard.”
“What are you doing here.”
Naruto flopped onto his back, his hands behind his head. “Kakashi-sensei said he was getting complaints about a sad, sulking piece of shit stinking up the training grounds. He asked me to investigate. Lo and behold…”
Sasuke narrowed his eyes and glared. He slowly brought up his arm to smell himself, just to make sure. “I showered this morning…”
Naruto laughed into the crook of his arm, marveling at Sasuke’s dry remarks that always left Naruto perplexed at how funny he found them. He wondered how Sasuke would be had he not had that unfortunate five year span where he pretty much had one foot dangling over the edge of the metaphysical “deep end.”
“Sasuke, how is it that you’re so funny, but also such a twerp?”
Sasuke glared at Naruto. Funny? His jokes were terrible. “How is it that you, a dobe, is given access to restricted diplomatic meetings even though you’re, you know, a dobe?”
He didn’t even try to block Naruto’s slap, not that the blond was hitting with any intention to injure. Not that Naruto could actually slap him and actually injure him.
That was more of a Sakura thing.
The two laid in silence, listening to the whistle of the breeze roll by. It was Naruto that broke the quiet, sighing deeply and flinging his arm so that it was touching Sasuke’s. “I think we had a misunderstanding earlier today..”
Sasuke hmm’d, his eyes shut to the world, but ears perked, hanging on to Naruto’s every word.
“I mean, you know that I know how important the Uchiha compound is to you. Besides, the space is impractical, out of the way, and over-run by feral hawks.”
Sasuke sniffed. A rogue dandelion had settled in his nose.
“Also, I wasn’t even talking about that stupid proposal anyway! Like, that was weeks ago and I had already discussed my stance on the issue with you!”
Sasuke turned his head to face Naruto, his hair flopping to the side to expose his Rinnegan. He bit his lower lip and reached out, brushing away a stray hair on Naruto’s forehead.
The action made Naruto’s breath hitch. Sasuke could be absolutely breathtaking when he really, truly tried to be. Like, he was pretty amazing even at his most awful, but right now, the mood cast an iridescent glow on his pale skin, like a specter in the night. “Sasuke…”
“Naruto,” he whispered, closing the space between them. Naruto’s eyes closed, anticipating a kiss even though he felt Sasuke’s presence stop just short of reaching his face. He heard the other man’s breath ghost against his own lips as he finished his sentence: “I had no idea what we were talking about at lunch today.”
And that romantic moment that had Naruto swooning like a hormonal teen was gone, dissipated into the wind and carried off into the darkness of the forest, never to be seen again (until later that night, probably.)
“You always, ALWAYS know how to fucking ruin a moment you know that!”
Sasuke sat up, grinning down at Naruto with impish eyes. “It’s a habit from my childhood, playing with food…not paying attention…I can’t believe you’ve only caught on now.”
Naruto rolled his eyes, his arms crossed, but all the anger he initially felt at Sasuke teasing him had vanished. “Why am I not surprised. You were the biggest doof as a child,” he smirked playfully, earning a pile of grass thrown at him.
He allowed himself to be pulled up to a sitting position by the Uchiha. “So what is it you were talking about this afternoon before I completely disengaged from the conversation?”
Naruto laughed nervously, scratching his cheek. In the back of his mind he heard Sakura cooing at the kitten they had stumbled upon at Konoha’s animal rescue center the other day and looking up at him with large, glassy eyes, “Can we keep him?” It was all he could do to not throw the adoption fee at the animal handler’s face and shout “WE’LL TAKE SEVEN!” Instead, they slipped the money to the guy, asking him to keep the kitten until that weekend when they would surely get Sasuke’s blessing (theoretically.) If not, well, it was nice living with the Uchiha, anyway…
He realized that Sasuke was still staring at him. And he realized that Sasuke was a little different from the deranged teen he fought for, against, and with years ago.
This Sasuke had lines around his eyes, but not like the hard ones that carved his expression during his avenger years (who also got a little embarrassed anytime anyone referred to that time period as his ‘avenger years’ but the truth was the truth, as Sakura would say.)
He grew his hair out because he was kind of self-conscious of his eyes, mismatched in the most obnoxious way.
He had a tender side, too, especially towards Sakura, who he whispered fables and folk tales passed down from his ancestors in between chaste pecks in the dead of night as they lay curled around each. Sometimes, if Naruto was quiet enough to sneak into the room without being noticed (they always noticed, but never said anything because he was always, always welcome) he would listen in too.
And his steps were a little lighter, his laughs a little more free, and he hugged a little tighter. He was beginning to resemble the doof of a kid he used to be and was well on his way into becoming before everything was suddenly snatched from under him without warning.
Naruto’s eyes crinkled in a smile, knowing the answer to his question already and feeling a little stupid for being nervous. He brought his hands up to squeeze Sasuke’s cheeks together, the Uchiha’s brows furrowing in irritation, but his hands coming up to hold onto Naruto’s wrists.
“Sasuke-chan, Sakura and I want to adopt a kitten.”
Utter silence for one, two, three beats—Sasuke moved his hands so that he, too, was squeezing Naruto’s cheeks together. With a pinched mouth and a serious expression, “Okay.”
Well, that was easy. “Wait…really? No qualms about how the house is already over-crowded? No, like, gripes about us all being too busy? Nothing about the curse of the Uchiha somehow affecting the livelihood of this innocent animal?”
Sasuke cuffed Naruto on the head as he turned around and started walking back towards the village. “I’m sure we’ll manage. Anyway, it’ll be nice to have something to keep me company when my dramas are on..”
“Oh for the love of God, can you just end that phase of your life already? I need to get Kakashi-sensei to give you lengthier missions.”
The two bickered the whole way home, and were greeted at the door by Sakura, who was smiling coyly and cradling something in her shirt.
“So…I might’ve gotten a little impatient..”
A tiny, fuzzy head peeked out from the opening over her top, mewling softly and gazing up at the two new people in the doorway. Naruto leaned on the doorframe, overcome with emotion at how adorable the kitten was. Sasuke stood baffled, his hands subconsciously reaching to grab the animal from Sakura’s clutches.
He instead opted to put an arm around Sakura, tickling the nose of the kitten with his other hand. Naruto did the same, a firm Sasuke’s shoulder and nuzzling into Sakura’s hair.
“Welcome to the family.”