Living with Strangers
Pairing: Implied Naruto/Sasuke
Sequel to: Avoiding the Issue
All comments, critisim, and over-ripe fruit thrown at high velocities appreciated.
Naruto moved in on a Thursday.
To be accurate, he broke into the little two-bedroom rental house while its true occupants were out and spent the next few hours bringing in his stuff and reorganizing Sasuke's bedroom to accommodate him. He'd even gotten Kiba to help, which explained why the little shit kept grinning at Kakashi every time they passed each other in the academy that day.
Of course, Kakashi hadn't know this yet when he came home to hear Naruto and Sasuke howling at each other about, of all things, the placement of a certain statue that did something questionable whenever you pressed a button, and how it conflicted with the weapons stand that was unfortunate enough to share shelf space with it.
If it had been anyone but Naruto and Sasuke, Kakashi would have found somewhere else to be - maybe on the other side of the village or possibly out of the country - but he knew from long experience that leaving the two of them alone together was just asking for trouble. Like Konoha being flatten to the ground or something equally drastic.
So he mediated. A process that involved leaning against a nearby wall with his book in his face as he made sardonic comments about the two young men's intelligence, social skills, and ability to not leave the toilet seat up. He nearly got his head put through a door for it - he forgot sometimes how strong Naruto had gotten - but the house was still standing at the end of the "why orange and green lap blankets with obscene pictures on them do not go with navy throw pillows" discussion and that was a major accomplishment.
The only downside was that somewhere in the middle of trying to explain why Naruto couldn't live in the house with them, Naruto ended up doing just that.
"We only have the two bedrooms," Kakashi was saying the next day as he perched on the windowsill in the living room, book comfortably in hand, "It's going to be cramped."
He wasn't really arguing, though; he had the personal theory that arguing with Naruto enabled him to slowly suck away all your resistance until you were a puppet to his often questionable will. Kakashi liked viewing Naruto has an overly ambitious brat with a big mouth; eight years of association wasn't nearly long enough to fully let go of that impression.
"The three of us aren't always home at once. And I don't mind going out to use the bathhouse or whatever if you need a break," Naruto said distractedly, spreading the last of his shirts out on the couch to dry. The living room - including Kakashi's favorite chair - was coated in his clothing, all of it dripping slightly on the carpet. "Damnit Sasuke, this is your fault!"
"Ha." Came the deadpan reply from the bathroom Sasuke had locked himself in.
Kakashi sighed gustily and hoped Mrs. Takaguchi next door could be persuaded to share some of her famous cookies when he went over to use her toilet later. "I'm not responsible if he smoothers you in your sleep."
"Nah, we'll be fine," Naruto said, waving it off, "He's just acting like an ass now because he can!" The last was yelled, probably in the hopes that said ass would hear him.
There was a decidedly stony silence from the bathroom. Naruto shook his head and headed into the kitchen, moving easily in the sleeveless Anbu uniform he'd been wearing since yesterday.
After the initial fighting had settled down and all attempts to remove Naruto physically had failed or were ended by Kakashi -- who really, really didn't want to fill out any more paperwork this week, thank you -- Sasuke had barricaded himself in the bedroom until Naruto left for work. Naruto had been surprisingly cheerful considering the situation and Sasuke, being Sasuke, had wasted no time in dumping all of Naruto's clothes out his bedroom window to be rained on until that afternoon.
Kakashi decided it was best to remain as uninvolved as possible. He cared for both former students, of course, but that didn't mean he had to take any part in their personal lives beyond 'distant and highly amused observer'.
"Kakashi-sensei," Naruto called from the kitchen, "You want something to eat? Er, no, wait..." There was some banging of cupboards. "You don't have any food!"
Kakashi snapped his fingers. "Ah," he said, as if remembering something, and turned a page.
Later, as Kakashi accompanied Naruto to one of the local take-out places, the younger man announced confidently, "I'm going to talk to the old hag about getting you moved out. Or letting Sasuke an' me move to a place by ourselves."
Cocking his head in Naruto's direction, Kakashi arched his brow. "Are you now," he said, without inflection. Naruto had been there at the informal 'sentencing', when Sasuke was allowed to leave the guarded compounds under the Hokage tower and join normal village life without twenty-four hour Anbu surveillance. Nothing about Tsunade's tone then or since indicted anything about Kakashi ever being relieved of his current status.
Naruto walked with his arms folded behind his head and his face turned up to the drizzling sky. The still damp sweater he'd donned gathered in thick folds on his broad shoulders. "Yeah," he said and grinned, "No offense Kakashi-sensei, but there are some things I don't want you around for."
"Ah, well," Kakashi said, turning his attention to the shops down the street, "I'm afraid I don't know what you are talking about."
Naruto tensed and went silent for a moment. Then he took a deep, bracing breath, the sort people normally do in order to prepare for a life changing announcement.
"Naruto, that was not an invitation to explain."
"...uh right, okay."
Years ago when Tsunade assigned him the duty of keeping a constant eye on their wayward and decidedly unstable Uchiha, Kakashi had been reluctant. He'd lived alone almost his entire life, after all; sharing a house with someone for the first time at thirty-something wasn't how he was looking forward to spending his later years.
Especially not when that someone was a solitary teenager and ex-student who was uncomfortably similar to him in ways he didn't want his nose shoved in every morning over coffee and toast.
But Sasuke turned out relatively easy to get used to. All of his belongings were kept restrained to his bedroom, he took care of himself, gave Kakashi plenty of space, and his tendency toward interior decorating was more amusing than anything else. Granted, Kakashi could have done without the moodiness, paranoia, not having free use of the bathroom, and the occasional letter from concerned neighbors asking if he knew his charge was out setting booby traps in the front yard at three in the morning, but generally speaking, Sasuke was quiet, clean, and self-contained. These were all things that Kakashi valued.
Naruto was none of them.
After the fourth day of failing to remove him from their domicile, Naruto had managed to infect their house like a particularly loud, orange fungus. His pictures were all over the previously sterile walls; his plants were on the shelves; his cooking utensils were stuffed into the drawers; his toothbrush had brought some form of mutant mildew with it that was eating into the tile in the bathroom; his bedding, more often than not, was left in a bundle in the corner of the couch.
Kakashi knew a quick solution to the last, at least, but Sasuke was not unbarring his door to provide it. In fact, the Uchiha had started leaving through the window for the express purpose of keeping Naruto out of his bedroom, something Kakashi thought ridiculously short-sighted of him considering the window was how Naruto got in originally.
But they weren't fighting about it. Not once since the big one at the beginning. If anything, they were stubbornly refusing to fight about it. Sasuke had adjusted his schedule so that he was never in the house the same time as his former teammate and Naruto spent his free time improving his lock-picking skills.
This did not, however, fully protect Sasuke from Naruto's influence.
"He bought ramen," Sasuke said furiously, standing at the kitchen counter and gripping the offending packet in one fist. The contents had probably been crushed to dust by this point.
Kakashi brightened from his end of the day slump. "I don't have to shop?" Maybe there were advantages to having a third person in the house after all.
"Ramen," the twenty-year-old hissed meaningfully. "I knew this would happen. You have to make him leave."
Lifting his hands, Kakashi said, "I'm getting too old and senile to be held accountable for these sorts of things. You talk to him about it."
Sasuke's hand tightened further and several expressions vied for dominance on his face at once. Kakashi watched in fascination.
"No," he said finally, as if it physically hurt him to do so, and glared darkly at the wall. He looked at once sullen and exhausted; whatever Naruto had been trying to accomplish by moving in, he seemed to have pushed Sasuke right up against the edge of it.
Kakashi scratched the back of his head and eyed the recently restocked cupboards with longing. If he were a responsible adult, he would sit them both down to discuss their current housing situation and discover a working solution for all involved. Good thing that he never bothered with that line of thinking.
"I suppose we should start charging him rent then," he said musingly. Sasuke flung the destroyed ramen package on the counter in a fit and stormed out.
"Ah, whoops," Kakashi sighed, dropping his hand to his side and following his charge. "Sasuke," he said, stopping the other ninja before he could shut himself in his room again, "What goes on between you and Naruto isn't something I can get the middle of. If the situation is intolerable, you must resolve it yourself."
The narrow line of Sasuke's shoulders was taut with anger and frustration as he stood in the doorway, head bowed so that long bangs hid his face. "Kakashi," he said, sounding defeated, "If I knew how to resolve the situation with Naruto, I would have done so years ago. And never thought of him again."
Silence fell for a moment. It was, Kakashi reflected, was of those occasional times he wanted to slap Sasuke for so harshly rejecting what he himself selfishly wanted. "Perhaps then, it's better that you never did."
Sasuke flinched and slammed the door behind him.
The storm broke two days later with a yelling match.
"-told you I wanted to move in together! This was the only way to---"
"I said no! This doesn't mean you find another way around it!"
Kakashi wondered if he shouldn't feel a little put out, since it seemed his talking with Sasuke always led to the two of them trying to kill each other. As it was, it ruined his appetite for his before-bed snack.
"You only said no because you didn't want to think about it!"
"I've had three years to think about it and I still don't want you here."
"That's because you can't think beyond your stupid issues---"
"That's better than not being able to think beyond--" Sasuke's voice dropped below Kakashi's hearing range.
"Damnit Sasuke, stop acting like that's all it's about!"
Rolling his eyes, Kakashi put down his book and slid out from under the covers.
"Even if it isn't, there's no point. It's useless, so stop trying."
"What do you mean no-----Kakashi-sensei!"
Kakashi froze with one leg hanging out his bedroom window. Surely Naruto's ears hadn't gotten that good. If so, there went his idea of passing his babysitting duty on to one of the Anbu teams and spending the night at Gai's house.
"Kakashi-sensei," Naruto yelled again, "We're going to go out, okay?"
He considered that a moment and pulled his leg back in. "Your choice."
It took another ten minutes of furiously whispered conversation before they actually left and the quiet that followed their departure was the most wonderful thing Kakashi had heard in a week.
Six hours after falling asleep, he was awakened by the sound of two people entering the house and going into the other bedroom. He fell asleep waiting for one of them to get kicked out.
Naruto was in the bathroom the next morning, taking a shower and singing loudly, and badly, with that particular brand of cheerfulness Kakashi usually attributed to people who'd won major arguments or gotten laid, while Sasuke cooked breakfast with a great and sullen clashing of pots.
Kakashi stood a while in his once peaceful little house and imagined this being his life for the next ten years. When he left for the bathhouse a short time later, he turned off the hot water heater in the hall on his way by.
The resulting scream made him feel much better.