Author Notes: Hello again, everyone! As fanofthisfiction kindly reminded me last week, this is my 100th story on FFN and I should make it a memorable one.
Well, I don't know about memorable, but for some time, I've wanted to write a small story for the most popular m/m pairing in the Naruto fandom, NaruSasu/SasuNaru. I've never quite dared to since it's such an established pairing, but then I rashly accepted a challenge from the incredibly persuasive fanofthisfiction some time ago... so here it is! With a twist because I dislike character bashing and prefer everyone to be happy :)
This story starts from the ending scene of Episode 479 (Naruto Uzumaki!) and deviates from there.
Warnings: Spoilers for Shippuden, Boruto, possible OOC-ness and fluff.
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
- Story Start -
When Kakashi Hatake took over as Hokage of the Hidden Leaf village, the first thing he did was secure a pardon for Sasuke Uchiha.
Despite his rogue ninja past, Sasuke was allowed to leave the village. He could travel the world while gathering intel to keep the Leaf Village safe, and to report any suspicious incidents back to the Hokage. He was grateful for this opportunity, for it also allowed him to understand the world and to make peace with the conflicts and hatred that had festered within him for so long.
On the day of his release, he stood at the main gates, thanked Kakashi for the opportunity, gently let Sakura down when she wanted to follow, and started off on his journey.
About a mile down the road, he stopped walking and felt the very familiar chakra that had been keeping pace with him do the same. He should have known Naruto wouldn't let him leave without saying goodbye, should have known he would be followed until he acknowledged Naruto's presence. That sheer persistence would have annoyed him to no end once upon a time, but now it only brought forth a tiny, wistful smile.
Naruto stood in the shade of the thick trees that flanked the road, his long sleeved white shirt almost glowing in the dark. Sasuke stepped off the road and approached him. When Naruto held out his left hand, Sasuke looked down to see his old scratched Leaf headband. After a brief pause, he took it with a nod of thanks and looked up into those round blue eyes.
Over the years, he had seen them sparking with anger, narrowed in determination, twinkling with mischief, glowing with laughter, and filled with tears of grief. He had never seen them looking quite this desperate. He felt an answering pang in his chest and knew what it meant. That it wasn't the Leaf Village, or its inhabitants he would miss on his travels. Well... he would miss Kakashi-sensei and Sakura, but it was Naruto Uzumaki he would miss the most.
This boy who had been a part of his life for so long, who had refused to stop following him or competing against him, who had simply refused to give him up when everyone else had, who had insisted time and again that he was his friend and proven it with everything he had... even to the extent of sacrificing his arm.
"Sasuke." Naruto's voice was huskier than usual, his eyes gleaming brightly in the gloom they stood in.
Sasuke quickly shook his head.
"You know I can't stay here," he said, his voice low.
"Teme," Naruto said, sounding almost angry. "I'd never ask that. I just... want you to come back each month."
Sasuke shook his head again.
"Kakashi-sensei said I could send my findings via hawk messenger. I only need to return once a year unless instructed otherwise."
Naruto took a quick step forward, gripping Sasuke's right shoulder tightly with his left hand.
"What I mean is, come back to the Leaf each month. Regardless of the status of your mission."
Sasuke stared at him.
"Why?" he asked even though he knew he shouldn't.
Naruto's eyes narrowed.
"You know why."
Naruto hesitated and then his chin went up.
The words were said so fast they ran together, but Sasuke still felt like he had been punched in the gut, his heart lurching in shock. He should have known Naruto's method of handling most things - everything, really - was to meet it head on.
"Yeah," Naruto said after a few moments of wary silence. "I do. At first, I thought it was because we'd been rivals for so long, or because I thought of you like a brother. Now I know it's - it's more than that. Sasuke-"
"Don't!" Sasuke swung away, knocking Naruto's hand off his shoulder. He swallowed, trying to dislodge his heart which was hammering away in his throat. He couldn't deal with this. Sakura's hesitant request to go with him - that was easy. She had never made a secret of her feelings for him.
But it was so much harder to say No to Naruto, the boy who had occupied every last bit of Sasuke's thoughts that weren't consumed with rage and grief, the boy who had made Sasuke want to be stronger, not for revenge, but to be a worthy adversary.
Sasuke found he was shaking. He couldn't deal with this now, not when he was supposed to leave this place.
A hand, calloused but warm, cupped his cheek and turned his face back. Not roughly, but with purpose.
"Come back," Naruto said, cheeks flushed pink, but gaze steady. "I finally understand why I fought so hard to save you. It wasn't just because you're my best friend. It was because you're a part of me. So you... you'd better come home every month, you know!"
Home. Sasuke didn't have a home. Hadn't had one in years.
"The Leaf Village isn't my home," he managed to choke out, his voice thick.
"Then come home to me." Naruto's voice was low and incredibly earnest. "I will be your home, Sasuke. No matter what, I will always love you."
Sasuke swallowed again, throat tight and chest heaving, trying to tamp down his emotions. He shook his head, tried to speak and failed.
For so, so long there had been a void inside him, cold and dark and empty. Nothing could fill it. It had shrunk a little when he finally learned the truth about Itachi, but after all the things Sasuke had done - going to Orochimaru, alienating himself from the others, filling himself with hatred and thoughts of revenge... nothing could fill that hole, not even Sakura's unfailing devotion.
No one save for Naruto. He was the only one apart from Itachi who had said those stupid, ridiculous, wonderful words to him. The tears finally came, hot and fast and unstoppable, spilling from his eyes as a single strangled sob tore from his throat.
There was a world of affection in that one word, spoken in that unique, raspy voice.
There was a world of promise in the arm that slung tight around his shoulders.
There was love and devotion and faith and loyalty and warmth and everything Sasuke had denied himself for so, so long. He gasped and buried his face in Naruto's neck, his own arm curled tight around Naruto's back. Their embrace was a bit awkward and open on one side - never had Sasuke longed for both his arms as much as he did right now - but their bodies still moulded together like two halves of a puzzle.
This was home. Naruto Uzumaki was his home.
They clung to each other, swaying, not even bothering to check if anyone was looking.
"Same," Sasuke finally confessed in a hoarse whisper. "I feel the same."
There was a gasp above Sasuke's ear and Naruto's arm tightened, threatening to crack his ribs. Sasuke gave a groan and pushed, forcing Naruto to release him before straightening up. Naruto's eyes were as wet as his, but there was no hesitation in the tanned fingers that grabbed his chin, tugging him forward into a kiss.
It was their third kiss, but it was also their first real one. Wet and untried and a bit sloppy with teeth clicking together, but gloriously raw and honest.
When they finally parted, Sasuke sniffed and palmed his tears away. Naruto mirrored his actions, both of them sporting sheepish smiles.
"You have rotten timing, dobe," Sasuke said, voice shaking.
"I'll improve," Naruto promised. "But that's why you gotta come back each month. You got that?"
He could come back to the Leaf Village for this.
- o -
Three months later...
It was Sasuke who found and bought the tiny house on top of a secluded hill in the Land of Rice, just a stone's throw from the north east border of the Land of Fire. Naruto protested, but Sasuke was adamant.
"If it were up to you, we'd be meeting in your apartment each month," Sasuke said.
"What's wrong with that?" Naruto demanded.
Sasuke rolled his eyes.
"What's wrong? How about it being in the middle of the village? How about it being known to just about everyone? Do you know the risks I take each damned month creeping around at night just to spend a few hours with you, dobe?"
"They were a few hours well spent," he insisted, his eyes darkening with the memories of what they shared.
Sasuke's breath caught as his own mind flew back to the first time they made love, a month after his mission started.
He returned as promised, an hour before midnight, exhausted and dirty. He made his way to Naruto's apartment and knocked quietly on the door, melting back into the shadows until it was flung open and Naruto's eager face stuck out.
It was the work of a second to get both of them back inside and the door closed and locked behind them.
Naruto leaped at him, grinning madly with both arms outstretched (although Sasuke hadn't registered it then). The resulting thump against the door as Sasuke fell back against it would've annoyed him, but they were kissing by then and nothing was as important as the glorious heat of Naruto's mouth on his.
They touched each other as they kissed, hungry fingers sliding into hair and and tugging, eager hands running over clothed shoulders and arms. When they finally broke apart, they stared at each other.
"Uhm. Tadaima," Sasuke finally said, feeling awkward.
Naruto beamed at him and cupped his face with both hands.
"Okaeri, Sasuke," he returned softly before kissing him again.
It didn't take long for the kiss to heat up once more, and for Sasuke's vest, shirt and Naruto's sleeping tee to land on the floor. They probably would have ended up giving their innocence to each other right there and then, but somehow, Sasuke found the strength to push Naruto away.
"Sasuke," Naruto whined.
"I'm tired and hungry and filthy," Sasuke informed him. "Bath and food first if you want me awake for anything else."
Naruto blinked and then he beamed. He disappeared inside his bedroom and reappeared with a damp towel which he tossed at Sasuke.
"Get going, teme. Instant ramen only takes minutes to prepare, you know!"
"Every minute spent with you is worth it, you know that."
Naruto's voice brought Sasuke back to the present. He just rolled his eyes again, refusing to be swayed, refusing to look at the rumpled bed a few feet away that smelled of both of them.
"Your place is also a pigsty," he said.
When Naruto flushed and stuck out his lower lip even more, Sasuke sighed and stepped forward to kiss that pout away.
"This way is better," he said. "Trust me."
It was. Their new home had taken a substantial chunk out of Sasuke's Uchiha inheritance, but it was worth it. A mere half day's journey from the Leaf, secluded and most importantly, warded now to the hilt. It offered a breathtaking view of the valley around them.
It was Sasuke who made sure the floor was swept and the bed sheets were clean. The first time they spent the night there, they had overslept and left the place as it was. A month later, they came back to mouldy takeout, a trail of ants, musty smelling sheets and a puddle of rainwater and debris on the floor thanks to a window left open.
After that, Sasuke made sure they cleaned and locked the place up tight when they left. He also made sure to arrive an hour earlier to air out their home. Naruto would bring enough food and drink for a day and Sasuke didn't mind that one of their meals was always takeout from Ichiraku.
- o -
Twelve months later...
Sasuke continued gathering intel outside the village and going on several undercover missions while Naruto caught up on the schooling he had missed and started learning the ropes of becoming Hokage.
Every month, they met without fail and the precious twelve or so hours they shared only made their bond stronger than ever. Occasional disagreements were inevitable, but they were always resolved those by the time they left. Both had suffered loneliness for too long to spoil the bond they had.
Late one night, with a heavy downpour drumming on the roof, they lay in bed, wrapped in each other's arms, naked and content.
"I've made up my mind, Sasuke. I want to marry Hinata."
Sasuke just grunted and tucked his face into the side of Naruto's neck, right arm flung over his chest.
They had had this conversation a few times already. The first time, he had stormed out of their home and Naruto had to chase after him. The second time, things had gotten smashed and punches had been thrown. The third time, he almost didn't show up at their home. But Sasuke finally accepted the fact that as much as Naruto loved him, he also had other dreams, equally dear to his heart. One of them included building a family. Sasuke might not have felt that need as deeply as his lover, but he was the last living wielder of the Sharingan, and cursed bloodline or no, he didn't really want it to die out.
Warm lips pressed a kiss to his hair.
"Ask Sakura," Naruto urged. "It's only fair and we both know she wouldn't say 'No'. Not to you."
Sasuke grunted again, briefly sinking his teeth into Naruto's shoulder, making the blond hiss.
"It wouldn't be fair to either of them," he said.
Naruto leaned up on one elbow.
"Maybe not," he agreed. "But you know they'd never marry anyone else except us."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at him.
"Pretty sure of ourselves, aren't we?"
Naruto had the grace to look abashed, but he didn't back down.
"I'm right and you know it."
Sasuke frowned, absently running calloused fingertips down Naruto's bare chest and brushing over a nipple. Sakura's devotion to him and Hinata's devotion to Naruto were both equally well known.
"Fine," he finally muttered. "If she'll have me after all that's happened, after all that I've done."
Naruto grinned down at him, undeterred.
"I'm sure she will. And I know you care for her. Right, when are we gonna-"
Sasuke scowled up at him, hand sliding up to curl around Naruto's head.
"Later. Now shut up and kiss me."
- o -
Ten years later...
Sakura Haruno walked down the street, one hand holding eight year old Sarada's hand, the other holding a takeaway bag from a popular cafe. She was on her way to the Hokage's residence for her monthly get together with Hinata.
The two of them met up with Ino, Tenten, Temari and Karui every weekend while their children played together, but the last Wednesday of each month was reserved for just the two of them.
The topic of conversation?
In a few minutes, Sarada was playing with Boruto and little Himawari in the garden outside while their mothers sat down at the kitchen table where they could keep an eye on them through the large window.
"How time flies," Sakura sighed, taking a sip of her iced milk coffee. "Nine years of marriage already."
Hinata nodded, smiling at the memory of their double wedding, one of the most cherished memories she had.
"Sasuke didn't say anything this morning?" she asked.
"Other than the usual? Nope," Sakura said with a laugh. "What about Naruto, did he say anything?"
Hinata shook her head as well, smiling.
It was strange how they could talk about their husbands so easily, and with such contented smiles on their faces. But they had both known their husbands since they were little. They had known things the others didn't.
Everyone had thought of Naruto as a loudmouth brat with little skills save for making a nuisance of himself and boasting about becoming Hokage, but Hinata had seen his courage, his convictions and his enormous capacity for love.
Everyone had thought of Sasuke as a cold, withdrawn child with impressive skills, but Sakura had seen his pain and loneliness and his longing to belong somewhere.
The third thing they both knew was that special something between the two men that ran far deeper than mere dislike or rivalry. A bond forged, perhaps, from the moment of their first, accidental kiss so many years ago and strengthened by everything that had happened between them.
"How strange that we're both this happy when we know very well what they're up to right now," Sakura mused with a faraway look in her eyes, chin propped on one hand.
"It's not strange at all," Hinata said at once. "They were together even before they decided to court us."
Sakura picked up a skewer of dumplings from the plate between them. The cafe's were decent, but Hinata's were better - and nibbled on one.
"So you never expected Naruto to give Sasuke-kun up?" she teased, already knowing the answer.
Hinata shook her head at once, blue black hair swinging around her shoulders.
"Never. I just... I just wish he'd tell me," she sighed.
Sakura rolled her eyes and took another bite of dumpling.
"Me too, but Sasuke-kun probably thinks I'd flatten him," she said with a mock frown.
It was Hinata's turn to giggle.
"I'm just... I'm just happy Naruto-kun's heart is big enough to include me. And Boruto and Himawari."
Sakura smiled and reached over to pat her hand. "I feel the same way about Sasuke-kun, that he also keeps Sarada and me in his heart."
Their smiling faces were a far cry from their second year of marriage when they had broken down in each other's arms after discovering the wrong shirt hastily packed into the wrong bag. After the storm of tears passed, they realised that deep down, they weren't all that surprised.
"We are past that now," Hinata continued in a firm voice. "All I care about is that I'm married to the man I love and we have two beautiful children together. And if I have to share him with someone, then I'm glad that it's someone who loves him just as much."
"Here, here!" Sakura agreed.
Hinata gave her a mischievous smile.
"Of course, the fact that my best friend is in the exact same situation as I am helps a lot too."
Sakura laughed aloud at that.
"I couldn't have said it better myself, girlfriend," she said and raised her cup, which Hinata touched with her own.
"To our wonderful, silly husbands who actually think they can keep secrets from us!"
- Story End -
A/N: Thank you for reading! I know, it's a conveniently happy ending which is almost impossible in real life, but hey, this is fanfiction where anything can happen :)
Those of you who are familiar with my VK stories already know I much prefer all my characters to enjoy love and happily ever afters instead of one party getting left out and heartbroken. Do leave a review if you enjoyed it :)