Warning: HARD YAOI (Boy x Boy) - 18+

Disclaimer - Still not owning, and still not making any money off anything. My only payment is in reviews. Not hinting, or anything. :-)

Author's note - Sorry for the wait... this chapter was the most difficult to write since the dialogue was tricky. There is some sweetness here at the very end, as promised in the beginning of the story. It only took us 80 thousand words to get there, but I am assuming any hard core fluff addicts didn't make it past the first two chapters. Thanks to those of you that did! (and even more thanks to those that reviewed)


Naruto woke in the pre-dawn light. His arms were loosely circled around Sasuke's waist, his chest pressed lightly against to the pale back of his lover as they lay together in Naruto's bed. He was still for awhile, feeling Sasuke's slow heartbeat and listening to his rhythmic breathing. He felt with absolute certainty that his place in the universe was here, at this man's side. There was a sense of completeness, and rightness that had been missing the two years that they had been absent.

Sasuke's left hand was resting on the pillow by his head, and Naruto could see the dull gleam of the wedding band in the thin light. And he once again felt the sense of both wonder and unworthiness that a man like Sasuke would willingly bind himself to Naruto. Unconsciously, Naruto tightened his grip on his lover. He could never let him go again. And the thought scared him. This complete dependence on another, this sense of utter devastation awaiting him at the thought of being without him, was terrifying. Because it never made sense in the first place that Sasuke would choose him. But somehow, he had. For now, a small voice whispered in his head.

The question that Sasuke had asked him last night played in his mind. Did he want to move back in with Sasuke? Part of him did. The idea of being back together fully enmeshed in each other's lives tugged at him, compelled him with an almost drugging force. But it also made his palms sweat in panic. Because if he ever let his life fully merge with Sasuke's again, and they were ripped apart once more, he wasn't sure he could survive it. He had been naïve when he was younger, letting himself believe in the fairytale that their romance had seemed. Some fucked up, gay version of Cinderella. He snorted a soft laugh at the thought. But in real life, there was too much baggage for it to ever be perfectly 'happily ever after'. Even before the break, he had felt the weight of others looking at him and Sasuke together and judging him unworthy. Wondering what it was that Sasuke could possibly see in him. He had thought at the time that it was enough that Sasuke himself didn't seem to feel this. But Naruto was wrong. Even if Sasuke didn't seem to mind the imbalance in their relationship, Naruto did. But at the same time, he wasn't able to walk away. He could never walk away from what he had with Sasuke.

He looked again at the ring that was on his lover's perfectly tapered finger. He had always loved Sasuke's hands. They were strong, yet beautifully shaped. He should have been a musician or an artist with fingers like that, Naruto thought idly. The sight of his ring encircling the finger on Sasuke's hand mesmerized him. And also filled him with guilt, as he looked down at his own bare finger. He suppressed a sigh, instead drawing comfort from breathing in the scent of his lover at the nape of his pale neck. He resisted the urge to nuzzle Sasuke's neck, not wanting to disturb his slumber.

"You're thinking too loudly for this time in the morning, Dobe."

Naruto smiled, burying is face in Sasuke's neck and breathing deeply now that the damage was done and Sasuke was already awake. Naruto had many 'favorites' about being Sasuke's lover, but this was definitely one of them. He loved the man's scent, so clean and masculine. Sometimes he wondered if Sasuke had some genetically mutated pheromones that were responsible for the instant lust he aroused in everyone.

Sasuke relaxed against Naruto, enjoying the simple display of affection after several days of much more heated acts. He pulled Naruto's arms more fully around him, and looked down at the tan hands clasped by his own pale ones. Naruto's finger traced over the wedding band, and Sasuke tried to not feel hurt that Naruto's finger remained bare. He wondered if Naruto had kept his ring, or if it had been discarded as he himself had considered doing. He wanted to ask, but didn't want to disturb the peace of the morning. Ever since their short conversation last night about Naruto moving in with him, he had felt suddenly as though their relationship was back in limbo. He didn't want to make a wrong step now that they had come so far, but it was difficult for him to hold back when he usually did not. Hesitancy was not a natural mode of operating for him. He wondered how much longer he'd be able to maintain this more passive stance in their relationship.

"I want you to come with me somewhere this morning, before we go to the office," Naruto said softly, his breath brushing against Sasuke's neck.

Sasuke looked at the clock. It was barely 6 am on Monday morning, so they had some time. Though he still had to go back to his place for a change of clothing. They hadn't left Naruto's apartment since they had arrived Friday afternoon, and he hadn't brought anything with him except the food.


Naruto hummed a little, a nervous habit that Sasuke remembered from before. "My studio."

Sasuke turned to face Naruto, waiting for more of an explanation, but none was forthcoming.

Naruto stood, pulling Sasuke with him. "Let's take a shower and call the office to let them know we'll be a little late. Shika had our meetings cancelled for today, so it should be ok."

An hour later, they found themselves at Naruto's studio. "So... what are we doing here?"

Naruto didn't answer, but he went over to a small box that was in the corner of the room. He squatted down, and opened it, taking out a small, shiny object. Sasuke felt his stomach clench as he realized what it was. Naruto stood, looking a little uncertain, "Well, I figured if you were going to wear yours, I should wear mine, too."

Sasuke felt a small flash of relief as he realized that Naruto had not thrown his wedding ring away. But he didn't really like the reason that Naruto was giving him for why he was putting it back on. His hands covered Naruto's, stopping him from placing the ring back on his finger.

"No. Don't wear it just because of that."

"I'm not. I... I remember what we said when we exchanged rings. For me, that still stands."

Sasuke pulled the ring from Naruto's hand, and slowly slid it back on the blond's finger, then drew him towards him. Their lips brushed together first gently, then more aggressively.

They ended up being very late to work.

. . . . . .

The next several weeks were amazing in some respects. Naruto and Sasuke spent every night together, sometimes at Sasuke's, and sometimes at Naruto's. Wherever they were, they spent their nights locked together in heated embraces, as though making up for all the time they spent apart. They had given each other keys to their apartments, and had moved a few changes of clothing and extra toiletries making the overnights more comfortable, and not requiring either of them to rush back home to change before work.

The locks on their office doors got frequent use, and their assistant got used to abrupt changes in their calendars. The people in the office regularly exchanged knowing smirks and indulgent looks when they'd catch the heated glances and soft smiles shared between their bosses.

But as much as Sasuke loved this return of physical closeness, and the return of his business partner and friend, he increasingly became aware of the piece that was still missing. It felt like they were... dating. Which he understood on some level as being necessary given the nature and extent of the rift, but he also found it unsettling when they seemed to stop progressing in their relationship. Things had been getting steadily better, and now they had plateaued after about a month, and he was beginning to be concerned that this was as far as the reconciliation would go. Sasuke sat in his office, staring blankly at a series of financial reports he was supposed to be reviewing.

Abandoning the façade of appearing to do work, he set the papers down and looked up at the ceiling, lacing his fingers behind his head. He supposed that the reason he was feeling unsettled was that he didn't really understand what the barrier was that remained between them. The enormous wall of anger, hurt, and mistrust that had been created by their break-up two years ago had been torn down. Somehow - and Sasuke still felt almost religious when he considered how miraculous it was - Naruto had forgiven him. Really, honestly and completely forgiven him. It again humbled Sasuke to realize how much Naruto was the better man. He knew that if the roles had been reversed, he would not have been able to do the same, at least not without exacting equal vengeance first.

But somehow, even with that wall gone, Sasuke felt a thin barrier between them that had not been there before. The most obvious manifestation of it was that Naruto didn't want to discuss moving in with him. And Naruto still had not said the actual word 'love' since their reconciliation. But there were other, less visible effects as well. In the past, there had been no boundaries between them at all. They shared all their thoughts, all their experiences, all their emotions. And while much of it had returned, it was not the same. There were differences.

Some of it stemmed from the simple fact that they had lived two years apart, and each had had major life events occur during that period that had shaped them, without the other. And they were no longer the only lovers each other had known. Over time, as they continued to talk and tell each other things, this gap was closing but would always be there. They'd never go back to the two boys who had been inseparable and gone through everything together. But that change was surmountable, and he could and would learn to accept that.

He sensed, however, that the real issue was something that went beyond this, and Sasuke didn't really understand exactly what it was. And he didn't know how to talk about it with Naruto either, without sounding clingy (which he absolutely refused to be) or emotionally needy (which he most definitely was not). But he wasn't content to just sit back anymore. While he loved having sex with Naruto, and working together again, it wasn't enough. He wanted all of Naruto back. He looked down at his desk. Naruto had warned him that he needed to work late tonight, going over the final proofs for a new advertising campaign with one of their agencies. He had told Sasuke to go ahead and have dinner without him, and he'd meet him back at Sasuke's place late in the evening.

Sasuke picked up the phone and dialed.


"Little brother. Good to see you finally come up for air enough to remember the rest of the world."

Sasuke snorted softly. He knew he had been spending every free moment (and many moments that were not actually free but had been reallocated anyway) with Naruto for the past several weeks. He also knew that Itachi not only understood but approved.

"Naruto has to work late tonight. I was wondering if you had plans for dinner."

Itachi paused, and Sasuke knew that his ever insightful brother was likely already processing possible reasons for his uncharacteristic request to spend time together.

"Of course, Otouto. Do you want to go out, or should we meet at my place?"

"Your place... we don't need to go anywhere formal. I'll just pick some food up on my way over."

Itachi correctly assumed that the reason had more to do with Sasuke wanting to talk privately, but felt no need to mention that.

"I'll be finishing up in the office by 8pm... I'll meet you at my apartment at 8:30."


They both hung up, neither feeling the need for the obligatory phone etiquette of 'hello' or 'goodbye'.

. . . . .

Sasuke pulled in to the parking garage at the same time Itachi did, so they walked up together. Sasuke noticed fresh flowers on his brother's dining room table, and other signs of a feminine touch, but when he asked Itachi about it the older man simply raised a brow but remained silent.

Sasuke sighed, knowing that if his brother didn't want to talk about something, then the conversation would not happen. So he dropped the subject.

They discussed business over dinner, catching each other up on the performance of the companies and major events that were upcoming. After they had finished eating and cleared the food away, they went to Itachi's study, where he poured them each a glass of port.

"How are things going with you and Naruto-kun?" Itachi knew the real reason for this visit must have to do with Naruto, given that Sasuke had chosen to come at a time when Naruto was clearly unavailable.

Sasuke thought briefly on how best to answer that question. With Itachi, the direct approach was generally best since the man was able to see through any attempts at obfuscation anyway. "We spend every night together. And he seems to honestly not be holding a grudge despite the fact that I almost completely destroyed his life two years ago. He is even wearing his ring again."

Itachi looked at his brother, knowing there was more coming. "But?"

Sasuke sighed. "But he doesn't want to talk about moving in with me, and he hasn't said in words that he loves me, although he has shown it in every other regard. There just feels like there is this... separation between us that didn't used to be there. And it's not going away, even though we've been back together for more than two months. He's holding back. Up until this point I've been letting him set the pace. We progressed to a certain point but now we're just... stopped. There's something holding us apart, and I don't know how to break through it."

Itachi sighed, and thought for a moment, taking in what Sasuke was saying and aligning it against what he himself knew. "When Naruto came to see me in the office that first time, he said that you told him that the reason you were ending things with him was that you were bored with him, and that he wasn't good enough for you. That he couldn't hold your interest any longer."

Sasuke looked down, his fist clenching as he remembered the words he had spoken on that night years ago. "Yes. I said that. I said... many things that night."

"Tell me," Itachi said flatly.

Sasuke wished he didn't have to. He wished he didn't remember every vivid detail of that worst night. But he did. So he told Itachi, seeing the sadness on his brother's face as the words spilled out. Feeling the guilt clawing back in at the memories of how he had methodically set out to destroy the person he loved. And succeeded with frightening results.

He kept eye contact with Itachi, not shirking from whatever judgment his brother might have for him. Whatever disgust Itachi might feel for what Sasuke had done, it would fall immeasurably short of what he felt for himself.

At the end of it all, there was silence. Finally Itachi spoke. "Well, you certainly know how to go for someone's weak spots."

Sasuke sighed. "I... have never regretted anything so much in my entire life."

"Naruto is an amazing person that he was able to get past it as much as he has. I would not have been able to, I think, no matter how much I had loved a person."

Sasuke nodded, feeling the same. "I hadn't expected him to forgive me. I had thought it would be over, or maybe just friends at best."

"He truly loves you."

Sasuke nodded, somehow feeling even worse.

"But you knew him well, and you knew just what to say that would break him. Even if he has somehow decided he understands why you did what you did, and he has forgiven you, the wounds you made left scars. Deep ones, because they touched on old wounds that others had left before you."

Sasuke's eyes sharpened at the words, as Itachi continued speaking.

"What if Father had told you that he didn't want you as his son anymore, because you were not good enough? That you didn't live up to his expectations, or that you didn't live up to my record?"

Sasuke fought not to flinch at the dark emotions that swirled through him at the abrupt mention of their late father, and the direct hit on his insecurity of always being 'less than' Itachi, and never quite good enough. Countless teachers had made remarks to him of being 'almost as smart as his brother'. Relatives always comparing the two, reminiscing of what Itachi had been able to accomplish by the same age, and Sasuke always falling short. Of course Itachi would know how to tap into his deepest insecurities. Sasuke narrowed his eyes, understanding why but not liking the approach his brother was taking.

"Yes, even thinking about that hurts, doesn't it? And if he had said it, and held to it for weeks or years, thrown you out of the house, what would that have done to you? Even if later he admitted that he never actually felt that way, that it wasn't true, that he had only said it to motivate you to strive harder. You would never really believe it. You would always believe that somehow the anger had brought out the truth, no matter what he said later. Because his words would have echoed thoughts you were already having. Even though I know for a fact that father never felt that way, I know that you did. I think that for Naruto, it is the same. You are the person who matters most to him. Your view of him as an equal, your acceptance of him as the one person you have chosen above all others to love. He doesn't understand why you chose him. He has always felt unworthy, because so many people throughout his life have told him so. When you said what you did to him, he believed it because it was reflecting what he already felt about himself. The seeds of his doubt and fears had been there long before the words were said. The words only hardened and reinforced those beliefs. So taking the words back might earn you forgiveness, but that won't undo the damage that they inflicted."

Sasuke sat, absorbing the words and their implications. "So... then what can I do? He is holding back because he doesn't believe I really want to be with him, then -"

Itachi held up a hand, stopping him. "It's more complicated then that, Sasuke. Naruto probably believes you want to be with him, at least on some level. But he doesn't understand why, so he doesn't trust it. He likely feels that at some point, you're going to wake up and see what he sees - that he is not worthy of you. And then you will leave him. Again. So he is trying to keep some separation, so that when it happens, he doesn't have to go through what he did last time."

"So then I need to make him see what I see. I need to make him see what I see in him, and why I... care so much for him."

Itachi rolled his eyes. "You can't even say it, can you? That you love him. Not just 'care so much' for him. You love him. And you need to tell him. He deserves to know it. And you need to show him. You need to prove to him what matters in your life, and what doesn't. Or what you have now is all it will ever be. He won't leave you, but he will never be as close as he was before. He won't trust your relationship without a rather large effort on your part. You're not a passive person, Sasuke, and Naruto won't expect you to be. The man he loves is the real you, not someone afraid to take a stand on something that is important. If you continue to let him do one hundred percent of the driving on this, he will assume it's either that you feel the same hesitancy he does, or that it isn't worth it to you to fight for."

Sasuke sat there, thinking about how to say what needed to be said. How to convince Naruto that he would never get sick of him, that he never felt like Naruto was less than him. Itachi saw him to the door, and Sasuke drove back to his apartment deep in thought.

It was quite late when he got back to his apartment, and Naruto had already showered and gone to bed. Sasuke had a small plan beginning to form. But he wanted wait until they could talk through everything, when they wouldn't be rushed by outside obligations. He would just have to wait until the weekend. But that didn't mean there weren't other ways he could show Naruto exactly what he felt about him. Sasuke showered quickly and climbed into bed completely naked. Naruto was sleeping on his side in just his boxers, and Sasuke snaked an arm around his waist and slowly spread his palm across the tan stomach, feeling the warmth of his lover's body, and the tautness of the muscles there. Naruto breathed out, shifting slightly then falling back deeper into sleep. Sasuke smiled darkly, licking the back of Naruto's neck and kissing the nape of his neck, seeing the goose bumps appear.

"Naruto," Sasuke whispered against his ear, then scraped his teeth against the lobe, his hand sliding along Naruto's stomach and down over his hip. Naruto groaned in his sleep, arching back but still not fully waking.

Naruto had always been a very sound sleeper, but the first hour after he falls asleep he is almost impossible to waken. Sasuke realized Naruto must have fallen asleep quite recently, and smirked. Deciding to take full advantage, and not feeling the slightest bit of guilt, Sasuke slid his hand down into Naruto's boxers, feeling the erection that was already forming there. Clearly Sasuke's presence had penetrated into Naruto's sleeping consciousness.

Sasuke reached over to the nightstand for the lube and slicked his fingers, then slowly pumped Naruto's erection until he was fully hard. Sliding off Naruto's boxers and tossing them to the side, he closed his mouth over his sleeping lover's cock and began to lightly suck, slipping a lubed finger into Naruto's entrance.

Naruto's hands twisted into the sheets, "Nngghh... Sasuke," Naruto mumbled, still not fully waking, but his body writhing as the sensations took over his dream. Sasuke reveled in the fact that even in his dreams, Naruto knew it was him and no one else touching his body. Sasuke inserted a second finger and picked up the pace and suction. He felt the muscles in Naruto's abs start to tighten, and he pulled back, positioning himself between the blond's thighs, replacing his mouth with his lubed fingers. He slowly drove in, just as Naruto clenched into orgasm, blue eyes flying open in unfocused, piercing pleasure. Naruto's gaze latched onto the wicked face of his lover smirking above him, his senses reeling.

"Honey, I'm home," Sasuke said, thrusting in and lifting Naruto's hips so he hit his prostate.

"Holy fuck, Sasuke," Naruto shuddered, already feeling arousal tightening his body again as the erotic vision that Sasuke had infused into Naruto's dreams blended with reality. Sasuke laughed, a rare sound, and proceeded to keep the both of them up until late into the night.


It was finally Friday. Naruto had knocked on Sasuke's door to see if he was ready to leave, and they had quickly packed up together to head home. They took the elevator down to the parking garage, and got into Sasuke's car.

Sasuke had been debating whether to ease into the topic or dive right in. In the end, he decided to stick with the approach that tended to work best for him, and be direct. Itachi was right. There was no sense pretending to be someone he wasn't. Plus, there was too much risk that the small degree of separation would grow and doubts would start to creep back in on both sides. It was not a risk he was willing to take. He had waited two months. That was more than any sane person could have expected him to hold out.

"I've been thinking about selling my apartment," Sasuke said without preamble. "I have a realtor coming tomorrow afternoon to talk with us about it."

Naruto's head snapped up, looking over at Sasuke.


"Well, it just seems a waste. We have been spending more time at your place since it's located between our office and your studio. Of the two, it makes sense to keep yours. Plus, it does have some rather good memories from our first weekend back together." Sasuke slanted a glance at Naruto, then refocused his eyes on the rush hour traffic.

Naruto smirked at the images that he recalled, but then sobered as he thought about how to respond to what Sasuke was actually saying.

"So... you want to move in with me?"

Sasuke shrugged. "It makes the most sense."

"I don't think my closet could hold even a quarter of your clothes," Naruto hedged.

"I could put some into storage. It doesn't really matter." Sasuke seemed very firm that this was what he wanted.

Naruto was silent, trying to process how he felt about this, and what he should say to Sasuke. "My place is really small compared to yours. And it's not exactly an impressive address."

"So? It's not like I do a lot of entertaining at my place. If we have to do something formal, we'll either do it at a restaurant or at Itachi's. It doesn't matter."

Naruto heard the subtle stress on the last two words. "But you've always lived in really formal, expensive places, I just can't imagine you -"

Sasuke glared over at him, cutting him off. "Why do you think I care about any of that at all? My family comes from money, yes, so I grew up with expensive things, fine. But that doesn't mean I care about that. It was just more of a habit, and following up with people's expectations. I asked my realtor to find me a place, and he picked one that matched his expectations with what he assumed I wanted."

Naruto shifted in his seat. This was unexpected. Why was Sasuke wanting to move into his much smaller, much less nice apartment? He knew that Sasuke was trying to make a point with this. But he was not sure he wanted to push too hard on what that point was, because he had been trying very hard to avoid the subject entirely. But apparently, Sasuke wasn't going to let the topic drop.

"Why don't you want to talk about moving in with together?"

Naruto looked down, shrugging. "I'm not saying I don't want to live together at all. But it just feels like something we don't need to rush into. I mean, we sleep together every night. It shouldn't matter if we have one place or two."

Sasuke looked at him, trying to decide if Naruto was trying to dodge the question, or if he really didn't know the answer himself. He was leaning towards a combination of the two. They had arrived at Naruto's place, and Sasuke parked the car in silence.

They walked up together, Sasuke using his own key to let them into Naruto's place. They removed their shoes in silence, and headed into the kitchen.

"Naruto, I want to take the next step. We're stuck in a holding pattern and it's making me crazy. This isn't enough for me. I don't want to feel like we're still just dating. I don't want to just be 'business partners with benefits'. I need you to let me back in, all the way."

Naruto tensed. He wasn't sure he was ready for a confrontation on this. He took off his jacket and tossed it on the back of the kitchen chair, trying to organize his thoughts. It was true that he felt somewhat less panic at the idea of Sasuke moving in with him, than he did about moving into Sasuke's place. But he just couldn't see it really happening. He turned to face Sasuke, who was leaning against the counter, waiting for his response.

"Let you back in? What are you talking about? We work together every day and we sleep together every night. We spend all of our time together. How much more 'back in' is there?"

"There's more. And you know it. It's why you don't want to move in with me. It's why you won't..." Sasuke cut off. He wasn't going to push Naruto to say he loved him. He knew that had to be earned, not demanded. Sasuke needed to earn it, and he had a pretty good idea what it would take. He just needed to man up and get there.

"You don't trust me like you used to. It's... not the same." Sasuke's voice sounded rough. Naruto tensed, not knowing what to say, but afraid silence would be interpreted the wrong way.

"I do trust you, Sasuke. We've talked about all that. No, I'm never going to be happy about what happened, just like I'm sure you aren't, but I accept it. I have moved past it. We're together again. I understand why you did what you did."

"But do you understand that I didn't mean what I said that night?" The intensity in Sasuke's voice pierced through Naruto, their eyes locked. "Naruto, I could never get tired of you. You are worth more to me than everyone else I have ever met combined. I was trying to hurt you, but it wasn't true. It wasn't what I felt at all, I -"

"Sasuke, I know. I get it," Naruto held up his had when Sasuke started to speak again. "But you were right, Sasuke. You might not have really believed it at the time, but what you said was actually the truth. When you said that I was not enough for you, when you said that I didn't have a life of my own outside of yours... you were right. When it came time to pack up everything that was actually mine, there was surprisingly little of me in that house... surprisingly little of me in our lives. Because after all the years we had spent together, there was really not much of me left. It wasn't a relationship between two people. I wasn't your spouse, Sasuke. I was your fucking shadow."

Sasuke's eyes widened at the characterization, and Naruto stopped him again from speaking. "I know it wasn't your fault. It was mine. I was so fixated on you, so obsessed with you for so long, that I didn't even exist separate from you. Everything I did with my life from the time we were kids, I did with an underlying thought as to whether it would please you, or whether it would make me closer to being an equal to you... someone suitable to be your partner. And when I realized that, when I realized what I was, I hated myself for it. And so I had to start over. I worked hard to become an actual person again, with thoughts and opinions of my own. But when I'm with you... it's like all of that just fades away. All I can think about is you. And I can never let you go. But I just need... somehow... to keep some separation, so that I never wind up losing myself again. Because if I let myself go, and something like this ever happened again, I just... I can't go through that again. I need to know that I am able to function on my own. And moving in with you just... messes all that up for me right now. I feel like I would just disappear again. You are such an amazing person. You have no idea how easy it is for someone like me to just get swallowed up."

Naruto finally ran out of words, and stopped, meeting Sasuke's unflinching gaze. Slowly, the raven drew a breath.

"Do you really think that we are both complete idiots?" Sasuke's voice was almost shaking with some emotion that seemed a blend between anger and hurt and something else.


"I mean, after a mistake like this, do you really think that neither of us learned anything from it? Do you think for one minute that I would ever risk losing you again without confronting you? Let me tell you something, Naruto. I learn from my experiences. And what I have learned over the past two years without you is that my pride is worth fucking nothing if it means I have to go through the hell of living without you. Do you know how many nights I drank myself to sleep just so I wouldn't have to listen to that little voice in my head telling me what a colossal mistake letting you walk out of my life was? Do you have any idea how lifeless and empty I was without you?

"Naruto, you say that you feel like you were not enough for me, somehow less than what I am. What a fucking joke. All I am is the son of wealthy parents. What did I ever do that was so amazing? I was born into a family business, trained to run it since I was little, with an army of well-paid geniuses to support me. And my looks? Again, inherited. So what did I ever do that was so great? I'm not a particularly nice person. I don't shove little old ladies in front of busses, but... I don't go out of my way for people. But you came from nothing. You built everything that you are on your own. You had shit thrown at you your entire life, from birth on, and you are still probably the most honest and principled person I know. Anyone else would have been bitter and focused on looking out only for themselves. But you just rose above it all. You have an indomitable spirit, despite having had to work for absolutely every last thing you ever had. And you are probably one of the only honestly good human beings I have ever met. If anyone in our relationship is unworthy, it's me."

Naruto was stunned at the words pouring from Sasuke's mouth. He had never heard Sasuke bare so much of his emotions before. He had never considered that Sasuke might think anything like this, that it could be possible for anyone to view him in such a way. He couldn't process it.

"You were the one truly good thing in my life. And I broke you. I can't fucking handle it. I need you, Naruto. I need you to love me and trust me like you did before. But, I feel like somehow, I'm no longer good enough. That with everything I did to you, and all the people I slept with, you will never feel the same about me. Tell me what I need to do. God, I would give anything to have it like it was, just - " he took a step forward to close the distance between them, his hand on the base of Naruto's throat holding his chin as he brushed his lips across Naruto's, gentle and aching. "I need this to be fixable. I need-"

"Shhh," Naruto's heart ached, and he took his lover's face in his hands, kissing the dark eyes that were filled with anguish. "Sasuke, don't. It's ok. You don't have to say anything more."

"No. I always thought that words didn't matter... that it was what a person did that either showed love or disproved it. And while I still believe that, I can't take the risk of leaving the words unsaid anymore. I need you to know how I feel. I know I'm not one of those people who are good at words like this. But I love you, Naruto. I have loved you for as long as I even knew what that word really meant."

Naruto's who body seized at Sasuke's words... words that Naruto never actually expected to hear.

"God, Naruto. You were never my fucking shadow. You were my soul. Without you I was just an empty shell. I didn't even feel human. As much as you felt like you were incomplete without me, it was a hundred times worse for me. I need you back, and I don't care if I have to give up the company, my apartment, or anything else. I just need us to be together again. I can't bear the separation. If you think you were obsessed with me, you have no idea how much more I feel for you."

Naruto's hand were shaking when he reached for Sasuke's face. He brushed his lips across Sasuke's, feeling a shudder run through his lover's body at the light touch. "Sasuke - god, I..." Naruto crushed their bodies together. He pulled Sasuke's jacket off and dropped it on the kitchen floor as Sasuke pulled off Naruto's shirt and threw it across the room.

They were halfway to the bedroom when the stumbled against the wall in the hallway, Sasuke looking at Naruto with onyx eyes overflowing with emotion. He didn't want to have to ask for the words, but he felt like he would die if Naruto didn't tell him what he needed to hear. "Naruto, I need -"

Naruto slid his hands up Sasuke's neck and kissed him. "I know. God, I know and I'm sorry. I love you Sasuke. I never stopped loving you... I don't even think it is physically possible for me to stop. I will never understand why you love me, but I... fuck!"

At Naruto's words, Sasuke had thrust his hips hard against him, pressing him into the wall. "I will make you understand, Usuratonkachi. I'm not going to let you push me away or shut me out."

"Show me, then," Naruto said, working the buttons on Sasuke's shirt.

A slow smile spread across Sasuke's face. He tugged his shirt, ignoring the fate of the remaining buttons and tossing it aside. "I'm moving in with you next weekend," he said, his mouth moving along Naruto's jaw. He scraped his teeth over the sensitive skin behind Naruto's ear, and smirked when he felt the body beneath his hands tense and harden further.

He felt the heat of his bare chest against Naruto's, and reveled in the feel of their hard bodies pressed together. Sasuke slid his hand into the waistband of Naruto's trousers and pulled him to the bedroom, keeping their bodies flush together while walking backwards. He grabbed Naruto's shoulders and pushed him down on the bed, then positioned himself between Naruto's thighs. Sasuke's eyes never wavered from Naruto's as he slowly undid the fastening on the blond's pants, then pulled the zipper down. The side of his hand brushed against Naruto's arousal that was already rock hard and straining at the fabric of his boxers.

"Shit, Sasuke," Naruto's hands fisted in Sasuke's hair and pulled their mouths together as pale hands slowly pulled Naruto's pants and boxers down, tossing them aside.

Naruto slid his hands down Sasuke's neck, over his back and settled on the waistband of his pants. "Ahhhnnn, Sasuke," Naruto gasped as Sasuke's tongue trailed up his throat, while pale fingers closed around his erection. Naruto tried to keep focus enough to quickly undo Sasuke's pants and shove them down. Sasuke helped by kicking them the rest of the way off so finally they were naked, tangled together on the large bed.

Sasuke slid his hand over Naruto's hip, then traced the pattern of the circular tattoo with his fingers. His mouth was busy leaving a trail of bites along Naruto's collar bone, laving away the sharp sensation with his tongue.

Naruto's hand fumbled over the nightstand, searching for the lube. "Sasuke, I don't want to wait."

Sasuke grabbed his wrist and pulled it up over his head. "No rushing. You told me to show you."

Sasuke slid his body down along Naruto's, trailing small bites and licks on his path down to Naruto's hip bone, his hand continuing to pump along the hard dick.

"S-S'uke," Naruto felt his blunt nails dig into the pale shoulders. "Fuck!"

"Absolutely," Sasuke said, making good on his word.


Gaara hung up the phone and looked at the pale-eyed, raven haired woman who was in his office. Only people who knew him exceptionally well would recognize the small quirk of his lips for the smile it was. "Evidently someone tried to access the medical school transcripts of one Haruna Sakura yesterday."

Hinata cocked her head to one side. "Of course, eventually Sakura will get this all sorted out. She will have her professors at the medical school who will be able to write letters of reference for her."

Itachi smirked. "That works better in Japan, where the physicians are better known and the person calling speaks Japanese. It will be more challenging given that the request for reference came from the Canada."

Gaara nodded. He looked at Hinata consideringly. "I think that your father and cousin underestimate you considerably."

Hinata simply smiled softly. She glanced over at Itachi, met his wicked, knowing gaze briefly, and blushed.

. . . .

"What do you mean there is no record of me ever attending medical school?! I graduated second in my class, and did my residency at one of the most prestigious hospitals in Japan!"

The head of HR for the hospital chain looked at her skeptically. "There is no record of you attending school since your undergraduate years according to the administration office. They had the records up on the screen and double-checked while I was on the phone with them. I hope you realize that it is a serious offense to fraudulently represent yourself. We share personnel profiles with more than fifty hospitals across the region, young lady. I am putting you in the system with an alert to make sure you can't pull a prank like this anywhere else. The liability we would have if we were to hire someone with a false medical degree is not acceptable. You are lucky I am not calling the authorities about this."

Sakura nodded and quickly exited the building, her mind reeling. How had they done it? How had they erased six years of experience from record? She had known it would be bad for her once Itachi had woken up. She wished, not for the first time, that she had never pulled that stupid stunt. It had been spur of the moment, and she hadn't thought it through at all. She wondered what had happened to them once Naruto had returned to Japan. She saw in the news that they appeared to be together again, and was surprised to feel relief. As much as she had hated Sasuke and been jealous of Naruto, she had never intended it to go so far and nearly destroy two people. She hadn't fully realized the weight of the guilt she had been under until it was lifted.

There were only two hospitals in the city that were unaffiliated with the one she had just applied to. She wondered how she could get around this. She had a copy of her degree and transcript, but they would still require official confirmation before hiring her. She thought quickly about her reference list, and how many of them would be swayed by the Uchiha influence. If Itachi had fully disclosed what she had done... she had taken advantage of a medical emergency to create falsely compromising photos of a relatively high ranking member of society. Her reputation back in Japan would be in shreds. She had hoped to simply fall back on her grades and transcripts, relying on the fact that few of her supervisors had spoken English well enough to want to give a phone interview with an overseas employer. But now, with those records gone at least temporarily, she was in trouble.

She walked across the street to a diner and ordered a cup of coffee, her mind feeling numb.

"Miss?" The cashier looked at her. "Do you have another card? This one has been declined."

The sinking feeling increased. This was not a coincidence. Sakura pulled out some cash that she had in her pocket. She would be anything that if she used her debit card, she was going to be in for a similar surprise.

"Are you ok? Is there anything I can do to help?"

Sakura turned to see a man looking at her with concern in his eyes. He had the friendliest face and largest eyebrows that Sakura had ever seen in her life.


Naruto and Sasuke admitted defeat as they looked at the boxes yet to be unpacked and the limited space in Naruto's modest apartment. Even with the majority of Sasuke's belongings being sold or sent into storage, there just was not enough space.

Naruto sighed. "You have more shit than anyone else I have ever known."

Sasuke scowled. He never really considered himself materialistic, because he held no attachment to most of his physical belongings, except for maybe his clothing. But it was true that somehow he had ended up with an inordinate amount of stuff. Especially in comparison to the blond, who seemed to be content basically living out of a suitcase.

Naruto laughed at his husband's expression. "So, do you still have the name of your realtor? I think we are going to need to find a larger place."

Sasuke looked at Naruto, gauging his reaction to see if this was causing an issue for the blond. "Why don't we just talk to the landlord and see if there are larger apartments available in this building?"

Naruto walked over and wrapped his arms around his lover. "It's fine, Sasuke. Let's find a place that suits us both. Something big enough for all your expensive shit, but not so high brow that I feel like I need to be going in through the servant's entrance."

Sasuke's gaze sharpened, and he caught Naruto by the chin. "Don't ever think that you need to go in through the servant's entrance. I don't care if you are visiting the fucking queen of England."

Naruto just rolled his eyes, then fused their lips together. This was clearly going to be a theme that Sasuke was going to continue to push.

. . .

"I'm sure I will be able to find you a suitable place, gentlemen. Let's just confirm the basics. You are looking for an apartment with a master suite, a guest bedroom, two offices, two bathrooms, and in a part of town that is nice but not as high end as where you have been living, Uchiha-san?"

They both nodded.

"And in term of selecting the neighborhood, what should we look at? Obviously safety and proximity to your office, but what about things like proximity to schools or hospitals? Sometimes those can be important selling features as well. I'm assuming you are planning on keeping this place for at least 5 years, so you should think long term about it."

Naruto talked through some of these additional selling factors with the realtor, but soon realized that Sasuke had taken on a distracted look. If it had been anyone else, Naruto would have used the term 'spacing out'. But Uchiha Sasuke did not space out.

"Hey, let's pick this up again tomorrow. We still have some things to think through in terms of what we need, and I don't want to waste your time," Naruto told the realtor, wanting to find out just what was going on with his husband.

Sasuke had refocused, but rather than refuting anything that Naruto said he simply nodded to the realtor and showed him to the door.

When he came back, Naruto was looking at him carefully.

"Having second thoughts?" Naruto asked, keeping his voice level, not sure what was going on inside the frequently overly complex brain of his husband.

"Yes," Sasuke said flatly.

Naruto felt his palms tingle with nerves. "Weren't you the one all in a hurry to move in together? We don't have to do it. I can rescind the two months notice we gave on the lease on my place and-"

"That's not what I'm talking about, moron. I am not having second thoughts about living with you." Sasuke crossed over to stand directly in front of Naruto, glaring eye to eye with him as though daring him to doubt his commitment.

"Ok, so why the freak-out then?"

Sasuke scoffed at the term being applied to him. "I was not freaking out. I was just thinking."

"You are usually able to accomplish that without the complete shut-down that you just did when the realtor was talking to us about how many rooms and in what part of town we wanted to live in."

Sasuke stood for a minute, clearly debating on what to say.

"Just say it. You want to stay in the fancy part of town? Right?"

"I was thinking that maybe... we should get an extra bedroom. Given that this is going to be our place for the longer-term."

"Ok, so... we already said we need a home office and a guest room. If you want another extra bedroom, I guess that's fine. It will cost more, but it won't be a problem."

Naruto looked at Sasuke, still trying to figure out why the need for an extra bedroom appeared to be brining on some sort of mental epiphany for his friend.

Sasuke turned and walked over to the orange couch and sat down, looking over at Naruto expectantly.

Naruto rolled his eyes, but followed Sasuke over and sat down. He grabbed Sasuke's shoulder and pulled him down so his head was in Naruto's lap. Naruto immediately began gently massaging Sasuke's scalp. "Ok. Now are you going to tell me what is going on inside that head of yours? My psychic powers are down today."

Sasuke grunted, enjoying the feeling of Naruto's skilled fingers causing the tension to slowly drain from his body.

"I was thinking less about the extra room, and more about who might occupy it."

Naruto's fingers paused, then started up again. "You want Itachi to move in with us? I get the feeling somehow that he is enjoying his privacy these days."

Sasuke frowned, not wanting to think about that. "No. Not Itachi. I was thinking... someone much younger."

Naruto stopped, feeling like somehow he must be jumping to completely wrong conclusions.

"Are you saying... what are you saying, Sasuke?"

Sasuke swallowed, then turned so he was laying on his back, looking directly up at Naruto. "You and I both had pretty shitty childhoods. We both lost our families at early ages."

Naruto looked at him, a strange feeling starting to settle in his stomach.

"But we became each other's family. You and me with Itachi. And I was thinking... maybe it's time to add someone else to the mix."

Naruto's chest seized. "You're saying... you want to try to adopt a baby?"

"Actually, I was more thinking an older kid."

Naruto's eyes widened, then slowly a smile spread across his face. A smaller but no less intense small was mirrored on the face of the man laying in his lap. Sasuke took family seriously. He would never suggest something like this if there was any chance at all that their relationship wouldn't last, if he weren't absolutely sure he wanted to be together for the long haul.

And adopting an older kid... they both knew how difficult it was for older kids to find homes. And Sasuke had first-had experience in feeling the loss of his parents as a 12-year-old. He would know how to relate to a child who went through something similar and wasn't fortunate enough to have an older brother of age to care for him. They could provide stability for someone who had gone through what they had. And they could build a family together. Naruto's mind struggled to wrap itself around the idea of a real family, something that he had always wanted but assumed would never happen.

"Do you really think we're ready for that?" Naruto asked, feeling excited and terrified at the same time.

"Right now? Hell, no. But in a couple of years..."

"Yeah, you seriously need to practice on your nurturing side. We should probably start with cats or something and work our way up."

Sasuke frowned, either at the thought that he needed practice at anything, or the idea of pets. Probably both.

"Well?" Sasuke asked, deciding to simply ignore Naruto's flip remark.

Naruto blew out a breath. "Yeah. Let's get one more bedroom, then."

Sasuke smirked. "You're going to be a great mom."

"Fuck you, asshole," Naruto's voice roughened as Sasuke adjusted his position in the blond's lap. It was the weekend, after all.


The end.

I actually had finished this chapter a few days ago, but was deciding whether to keep a final scene that actually had Naruto getting cats and Sasuke pretending to be disinterested in them until Naruto catches Sasuke asleep on the couch with the kittens on his chest. It was cute but after re-reading the fic (which I always do several times before posting my final chapter), I decided it was just too sweet for this fic to end on kittens. I mean seriously... that is just too much fluff for this I think. It might appear in an epilogue, which I will most likely at some point write for this fic, but that will be a long ways off (months) so am marking it as complete for now. I need to spend some time to think about what else I want to do with it. If you have ideas or a 'wish list', let me know. And yes, if they do adopt someone, it will likely be Konohamaru (obviously).

If you have read this whole story and never reviewed, all I can say is I wrote you 80k words... can you just write me 5 to let me know how you liked it? I actually really value comments/input. And it gives me inspiration to write other stories, etc.

ALSO - I have been told to post this on adult-fanfiction . org in case my stories get taken down, so I am doing that. If these disappear, just search for me there, under KizuKatana (same as ff). I always post here first, since that site is super crappy and hard to upload things on.