A/N: Let me preface this by saying that it's not SuiKarin, because I headcanon Suigetsu as being INCREDIBLY gay, just... pretty low-key about it if nobody brings it up.
This is also not a good fic to read if you're an SS fan. Or... actually, if you ship Sasuke with Karin OR Sakura, this fic will probably piss you off at least a little. Nobody's happy here.
Juugo paused in his walk down the hallway as the sound of shattering glass reached his ears. After a moment, he chose to follow it.
The sound of shattering glass did not stop as he got closer, and he started to be able to make out the sound of frustrated growls and… he didn't want to call it sobbing, because it was far too angry for that, but it was close.
He came to stand in the doorway of Karin's favorite lab just as the noises ended, and looked in to find her standing in the middle of the room, chest heaving and face red, the far wall playing host to numerous kunai and a litany of shattered vials and beakers on the floor below.
Even as he watched, the anger on Karin's face faded into something far sadder as she crumpled in on herself, falling to her knees and burying her face in her hands.
Oh. There was the sobbing.
Juugo picked he way over to her carefully, because there was glass on the floor even here, and paused as he saw the paper on the table next to her, a little wrinkled but still entirely recognizable.
"Oh," he said, just as he came to a stop next to her. "You got one too."
It was a wedding invitation. Sasuke's wedding, in fact, to a girl from Konoha that Juugo only vaguely recognized in the accompanying picture.
"She sent a fucking apology letter," Karin said, her voice rough, like she'd been screaming. Juugo wouldn't be surprised if it turned out she had been, before he'd come within earshot. "Like this was some sort of competition."
"Wasn't it?" Juugo asked, because he couldn't think of anything else to say. He looked around for a broom to—ah. There.
"Of course not," Karin said as Juugo grabbed the broom and started sweeping up the broken glass that littered the ground. "I just wanted Sasuke to be happy. If that means he's with another girl, then…"
Juugo paused in his sweeping as Karin cut herself off. He knew why she had, of course; having your voice break in the middle of a sentence like that was only ever an indication of how little you meant something. He looked back at her, and found that she'd shifted position to hug her knees, face buried in the little cage that her arms and legs made, hidden from his sight. Her chest shook with suppressed sobs, and Juugo decided the glass could wait.
He leaned the broom against the wall and came over. With almost no effort, he slid an arm under Karin's knees and behind her back, and picked her up. It was a sign of just how emotionally drained she was that her only response was to curl up closer to his chest instead of pushing herself away and yelling that she could take care of herself.
"I'm going to take you to your room," he said as he carried her into the hall. "And like… get you some ice cream? Is that something I should do?"
"Ice cream would be nice." Karin muttered quietly. "I just… why. Why did he have to… I don't even get it."
"Mm-mm." Karin shook her head, which felt a little funny against his chest. "He's not going to be able to manage a relationship with her. Not long-term."
"Why not?" Juugo asked as he pushed the door open.
"It's Sasuke. When has he ever been happy being tied down to a single place?" Karin asked as Juugo set her down and took a seat next to her. "And Sakura… she's a nice girl, but I don't get the feeling that she understands him. Loves, sure, but understands? And she loves her village. A lot. She's going to want to… to put down roots or whatever and—"
She cut herself off with a sharp breath that only turned into another round of angry sobs.
Juugo reached out and pulled her hands away from where her nails were digging bloody gouges into her own legs. They fisted around his fingers instead, and that, Juugo felt, was certainly a better alternative. Juugo healed from the small things without scarring the way Karin did.
"I want to hate her," Karin whispered. "I want to hate her so much, but I can't."
"She's a very nice girl." Juugo acknowledged, and Karin laughed wetly at that. There was bitterness there. Of course there was. Karin didn't, even for a second, believe that she was the same kind of 'nice girl.'
(No one at Oto really stayed nice, if they ever were in the first place. Juugo knew that a few people would argue that he was the sole exception, but he didn't really hold with that.)
("Nice" didn't cover killing your own family in a murderous rage.)
"Remember that musical we saw, when we were on the run?" Karin asked, and Juugo nodded. They'd all found it a little too easy to quote in the aftermath, but Karin and Suigetsu had both been particularly enamoured with one line. "I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just—"
"—right, yes, I know." Juugo finished for her. "Not always, of course."
"If I was always right, my life wouldn't have been such an utter shitshow, Juugo." Karin muttered, letting him pull her over to the side until she was… Juugo hesitated to call it cuddling, because Karin wasn't really the kind to do something so soft, but that was basically what it was. He was hugging her to his chest and all, so probably.
"Are you going to go to the wedding?" He asked after a moment. "I think they'd understand if you didn't."
"Sasuke wouldn't," she told him. "Not the right way. He'd misinterpret, Juugo, just like always."
Which is… a fair point. Sasuke would probably assume that Karin was staying back because she secretly hated him, or because the journey was too long to be worth it, or because she had an experiment running that she couldn't just leave behind.
Sasuke was not a very perceptive person, even with the Sharingan.
Juugo was still pretty sure that Sasuke had never actually figured out that Karin was in love with him, and not just a weird friend.
She cut him off. "So I'm going to go, and I'm going to smile and dress nice and tell everyone how happy I am for both of them, and no one is going to suspect a fucking thing."
"I believe you," he said, because there wasn't much else to say. "Should I… go get that ice cream now?"
Karin hesitated a moment, and then nodded against his chest. Juugo carefully stood up and left the room heading for the kitchens. Hot chocolate was probably also a good idea. Caffeine probably wouldn't help, but chocolate had like… endorphins and stuff.
Suigetsu was in the kitchen, staring down at his own invitation and eating something that Juugo vaguely recognized as being from Takigakure.
"Burrito?" Suigetsu offered, wiggling it in his direction.
"No, thank you." Juugo shook his head. "If you have extra beans, though…"
"Yeah, I got some." Suigetsu gestured at the stove, which was where Juugo had been heading anyway. "What're you making?"
"Hot chocolate," Juugo answered, digging through the cupboards above it. "Do you know where the mix is?"
"Above the fridge, I think. Does this mean that Karin—"
"Shit," Suigetsu leaned back in his seat, staring at the ceiling while he chewed. "She's going to be even more violent than usual now, huh?"
"Considering how much you antagonize her, I don't expect there to be much of a difference," Juugo said.
"Mm." Suigetsu hummed a little, drumming the fingers of his free hand against the table. "Do we have to worry about her trying to assassinate the bride?"
"No, Suigetsu." Juugo almost wanted to roll his eyes. "Despite what her arguments with you would suggest, Karin is mature enough to recognize when the person she loves is out of her reach and be a graceful loser."
"Hey, I'm not saying she can't be smart, just that, you know, her response to me pissing her off is casual violence, so what's it gotta feel like to have the guy she's been in love with for fuck knows how long marry someone else? Like, I know I'd be pissed." Suigetsu made a face.
"I thought you considered getting in their way a hobby?" Juugo said as he set the milk to heat on the stove.
"I did, when there was actually a chance of them happening, and you and I had to regularly share a room with them, or sleep in the room next to one of them, or within ten feet of them outside, or literally anything that meant them getting together would result in me never sleeping again because they were getting it on." Suigetsu shuddered. "Seriously, that would have been awful."
"I suppose," Juugo said, shrugging. "And now?"
"Nothing to get in the way of, is there? Besides, I always figured they'd happen eventually, and that all I was doing was delaying the inevitable, not…" he gestured at the wedding invitation. "Not this."
"Sasuke did always say he wanted to rebuild his clan," Juugo said diplomatically. "And Karin did say she didn't like the idea of having children."
"Please, she could hire surrogates and clone every last person that died back then," Suigetsu snorted.
"I'm fairly certain that isn't what Sasuke had in mind," Juugo said.
"Still true." Suigetsu groaned and threw an arm over his eyes. "Why do I even care?"
"Well, she is your friend, much as you hate to admit it." Juugo shrugged. "And as much you're over your own crush on Sasuke—"
"That lasted like a week, you jackass, it wasn't ser—"
"—you do actually care about him as well," Juugo finished, steamrolling over Suigetsu's offended protests.
"Fuck you," Suigetsu said instead of acknowledging the point.
"No, thank you." Juugo focused on the hot chocolate he was making instead of Suigetsu's annoyed groans about how 'that's still not a funny joke, you asshole' and such.
"Do you think we could kill the bride?" Suigetsu said after a moment, lifting his head up to look at Juugo. "Like, I don't think I've ever met the chick. I'd have no guilt on that front. Just bam, head and body are separate, no more wifey for Sasuke, free Uchiha for the taking."
"That sounds like an absolutely terrible plan," Juugo informed him. "For many, many reasons, not the least of which would be the entirety of Konoha trying to kill us again."
"It would keep Karin from moping, though. She'd be too pissed off about us being on the run from the law again to be sad, which is a good thing, because sad Karin is creepy as fuck, dude."
"You're not even the one helping her," Juugo pointed out.
"Yeah, because I've seen Karin be sad before, and as mentioned, it's weird," Suigetsu said. "I actually prefer it when she tries to take my head off. At least that's normal for her."
"Yes, well, Karin's already made her decision in this regard, and you're not going to try to do what you think is best for her because you don't like dealing with her having emotions like a normal human being," Juugo said as he took the milk off the stove, fully heated, and got the mix. "She's already said that she's planning on not letting anyone know she disapproves at all, and we are going to support her in that."
"Tch. Whatever." Suigetsu folded his arms, glaring down at his burrito. "If he stays in Konoha, Sasuke's not the one that's going to have to deal with her mood swings."
"I'm sure Karin's going to be back to normal soon enough, Suigetsu. Stop exaggerating." Juugo started digging through the fridge and freezer for the whipped cream and ice cream.
"I'm just kinda pissed off, is all," Suigetsu muttered. "And still hungry. I finished my burrito, dude. But I'm still hungry."
"Hi, still hungry, I'm Juugo."
Juugo had to duck the plastic plate that Suigetsu threw at his head. It was a very flimsy plate and not going very quickly, so it wouldn't have even hurt, but Juugo still threw a disappointed look at Suigetsu. "You're the one that's cleaning that up."
"Pssh, fine." Suigetsu rolled his eyes. "No more bad jokes, dude."
"Don't be such a child, Suigetsu. You're twenty-one, so act like it." Juugo said as he finished up with the ice cream and put away the spare food.
"You're only three years older than me, asshole!"
"And yet it feels like so much more." Juugo shook his head, putting two mugs of hot chocolate and the bowl of ice cream on a tray. "We're going to the wedding, and you are going to wear a nice suit and behave, understand?"
Juugo sighed as he left the kitchen, balancing the tray on one broad palm.
Karin looked up as he entered her room again, eyes puffy and red, glasses sitting on the side table. "That took longer than expected."
"I figured some hot chocolate might help," Juugo said, handing her the tray and taking one of the mugs from himself. "Feel better yet?"
"Not really," Karin said, voice low and hoarse. Juugo figured she'd probably been crying some more. "You and Suigetsu talked, then?"
"Yes. He suggested assassinating the bride."
"I'm vetoing that option," Karin said immediately.
"I said much the same," Juugo said. "I also told him he was going to have to wear a nice suit and behave, which is what I'm expecting of you as well."
"Not a nice dress?" Karin asked, raising an eyebrow. It looked a little silly, since she was also squinting to see him.
"Also acceptable, though if you didn't want to wear a dress, then I don't think I could argue you into a nice one if I tried. I'm sure you're capable of choosing your own clothing."
"And Suigetsu isn't?"
Juugo winced exaggeratedly, and Karin laughed a little, even if it was kind of hiccuppy.
"So, I'm not going to ask if you're feeling better this soon," Juugo said, and Karin nodded, setting the tray to the side, still on the bed, and drawing her knees back up to her chest. "But you're done breaking things, yes?"
"Yeah, that part is… that part's done. Nothing else is getting broken tonight." Karin buried her face against her legs again. "Why does everything have to suck so much?"
Juugo patted her on the back. "Life just happens that way. I figured we were all pretty used to it by now."
"Couldn't this one freaking thing go right, at least?" Karin lifted her head to stare at Juugo. "Seriously, one thing. One person. That's all I wanted."
Juugo shrugged, reaching over to pat her on the back. "I can't answer that for you."
"I'd say that I'm happy so long as he's happy, but I don't even think he will be, not in Konoha. Not stuck in one place, which holds so many shitty memories. Nobody would be." She took the mug into her hands and took a sip. "This is really good."
"Thanks, but it's just a mix."
They sat in silence for a while, drinking hot chocolate and, in Karin's case, eating ice cream. The silence was a little too tense to be companionable, but Juugo was in a situation where he would honestly just take what he could get.
"I think," Karin said at length, after all the ice cream was gone and all the hot chocolate drunk, sounding like the words were being dragged out of her, "that I might need some hugs right now."
That, Juugo thought, must have taken a lot of effort to admit.
"Okay," he said, instead of commenting, and opened his arms wide. With a heavy frown on her face, Karin moved over until she was sitting sideways in his lap, once again hugging her knees, with Juugo's admittedly thick arms encircling her.
He felt the shudders before she started crying again, and mentally, he blamed Sasuke and Sakura.
Unlike Karin, he wasn't feeling charitable enough to not blame them.
(Unlike Karin, he did not value Sasuke and a near-stranger's potential happiness over that of Karin herself. He'd been loyal to Sasuke, yes, but Sasuke hadn't been loyal back for years. Karin had.)
They'd make it through this, and Karin would be back to the little ball of redheaded rage they all knew and loved.
(No matter how much Suigetsu denied it, of course. Despite all appearances, he did consider Karin a friend.)
A/N: I might write a Part Two about the wedding itself, but weddings are hard so maybe not.