Dedication: Futago no Seishi for the feedback, cleanup, and editing. /hearts.


Not

By LilPurplFlwr


All previous bravado aside, he wasn't ready for this conversation. And he felt less ready as the seconds ticked by with his roommate sitting there attentively before him, waiting for words of the significant nature. At this rate, he would rather be at a dentist getting his wisdom teeth yanked out. He pursed his lips in great effort to derail a rising grimace.

His roommate simply studied his features like an experiment and stayed as silent as their room's furniture.

He inhaled and hated that he couldn't do such a simple biological function without stopping because his chest was tight with anxiety. His hands clenched, fingers scrabbling at the creases in his jeans. "What," he began with a croak and had to take a moment to clear his throat. "W-why are we sitting like this?" His tongue felt heavy in his mouth and this was the lightest topic his mind had decided to open the discussion with? Great. He was off to a roaring start.

"You wanted to talk," his roommate stated plainly like a doctor to an amnesiac.

No shit, Sherlock was just another phrase he had to bite back with unexpected ferocity. But this close? was really what he wanted to ask in hopes that he could get some distance (because he really was having a terrible time breathing normally and this close proximity probably had something to do with it).

"We're," here he swallowed uncomfortably, "kind of t—I mean, uhm—close, no?" Any closer and he would be on his roommate's lap (which he would have been okay with in almost any situation other than the current one).

"Yes," the other confirmed fairly impassively, eyes not even indicating any hint of understanding that he had been referring to physical propinquity and not their ambiguous relationship.

His hands came together in his lap and began to twist like a disentanglement puzzle. He exhaled an abrupt sigh and shut his eyes, steeling himself. "I," like you and, "you," know that and, "what… what are we doing?"

He was genuinely surprised to hear nothing but a brief stint of pure silence. He had expected his roommate to say something completely infuriating (but true) like 'We're having a talk.' He instead decided to stare intently at the mysterious stain on his pants. Dust, probably.

"I'm sorry."

His head shot up, and Sasuke caught and held his alarmed gaze. Then there was nothing but fear and hurt pouring in with the realization that this was rejection and pain and everything that produced tears. His throat was tight and his chest on fire and his legs jerked because he was going to run.

Sasuke's warm palm closed over his clasped, white-knuckled hands. "Naruto, stop." His eyes searched the other's expression erratically and, despite his roommate's patented steady look, the tone was tinged with something of an edge, something like dread. "Calm down."

"I can't," he managed through the haze of panic. He may have been shaking. He wasn't sure. The roaring in his ears was not helping his level of comprehension.

Suddenly, his roommate was standing by his hip and arms were wrapping around his shoulders and head and fingers were burying into his hair and he found his face pressed against the other's abdomen. "Naruto. I'm trying to apologize." Never mind that Sasuke didn't sound entirely apologetic.

His eyes were wet. Why were his eyes wet? He wanted to shake his head but he was being held immobile against his roommate and he honestly could do little else but let the wetness absorb into Sasuke's shirt. "W-wha—" he tried to catch his breath and follow the other's directions in order to stop the seizing in his heart, "what are you saying?"

"I'm saying," Sasuke started again and sounded strangely angry, "I'm sorry." There was a pause and then, "For not knowing what to do."

Huh?

He would have moved in attempt to get a visual on the other's face, but he was rather caged in place within Sasuke's arms. A numbing sensation replaced the buzzing torrents of doubt. His frozen stillness must have been some indication, since his roommate continued to talk above him. "I," and this time Sasuke sounded, for once, tongue-tied and unsure, "like you too," and then added almost bitterly, "Obviously."

Shock was too much of an understatement.

Obviously? Obviously?! His spine straightened in portentous indignation. He first had to swipe his palm across both eyes to refocus (because sight was clearly necessary to understand the verbal bomb that had been dropped on him). He reached up to grab his roommate's forearms that barred him in place and, in spite of the comfort of the other's hand in his hair, untangled himself from Sasuke's embrace. "What?" He stared incredulously at the other student with a healthy dose of disbelief and skepticism. The cake had to be a lie.

Maintaining eye contact in this position was likely a strain, so with a sigh, his roommate returned to the vacated seat across from him. Hunching slightly as if wanting to disappear, Sasuke raked fingers through those black spikes almost fretfully in an unusual display of tension. Expression turning cross, his roommate responded stiffly, "Must I repeat myself?"

YES, he screamed mentally before he shut his eyes and counted silently to ten. He impatiently stopped at around six. "You like me," he reiterated as formally as he could, mostly for his own benefit but also to get some sort of confirmation; but he couldn't help but add for clarification, "too." You like me too? This was so surreal; this was one scenario he never dreamt up himself. So he couldn't blame himself for not believing this was happening in real-time.

"Yes," Sasuke stated blankly in that strange roommate™ manner in which facial expression belied the level of reassurance the words were supposed to provide.

"Really," he deadpanned in response, blue eyes searching the other's countenance for any indication of the otherwise, "because it's hard to believe you."

He watched the other swallow in a manner similar to a video in slow-motion. Then there was that slight break in Sasuke's voice. "Why?"

Oh, maybe it was all of those times that he, at best, felt like he was being tolerated. Or those times that he was ignored. Yes, those were great times. The nostalgia was going to kill him. His chest was starting to hurt again and he ducked his head down to stare at the carpet between their knees before muttering, "I don't think so." How likely was it that his roommate was currently lying as hard as possible in order to lead him astray and back to some faux normalcy of a platonic relationship?He looked up, completely prepared to meet the other's well-practiced, wooden expression (because there was no way anyone could fake real, authentic like; let's not even say love).

His roommate's brows were furrowed in a way that only occurred when a very difficult problem presented itself. The other's mouth had also tightened imperceptibly. With what seemed like great effort, Sasuke carefully phrased the following: "That wasn't an answer."

He couldn't help but instantly resent the other's words. Wasn't an answer? What did his roommate know about answers? He scowled. This was going terribly and he wanted an out. A break. Anything, really.

"No, it wasn't." He suddenly wanted to cry, so he bit his lip in hopes that the blunt sensation would distract him long enough to ask, "What do you want me to say?" because that was what it all came down to, right?

What were they supposed to say to each other to make everything right again?

A look of confusion traversed Sasuke's face. After a few seconds, his roommate relented and, with evident discomfort, concluded, "I'm not sure."


Now they really were walking on pins and needles around each other. Mutually.

He could tell that their failed reconciliation had affected his roommate because the guy was moodier than usual. He could usually gauge his roommate on a scale of Gloomy to Cloudless Day. Sasuke currently registered at a distinct Hailstorm on the Roommate Scale.

To be honest, he didn't even realize anything was different at first. There had been some tacit agreement to drop the discussion until further notice (read: possibly never) and, because his roommate wasn't particularly chatty or expressive, it wasn't until he initiated conversation that he got the hint.

He had asked a completely innocent question, the epitome of small-talk, really. He had asked his roommate how his brother was. He had not expected the acerbic response of "I don't want to talk about it," which was distressingly apt because when did the guy ever want to talk about anything? Minus the one time he had no answers for his roommate.

Then one day he walked into their room and got a complete earful of the guy telling off said older sibling, raised voice and all. Of course his roommate would immediately cut the telephone conversation short once he entered. Or maybe Sasuke just wanted to hang up with a dramatic flare. Who knew.

At any rate, he wasn't sure what more he could do to patch up their decrepit relationship. He had tried denial, avoidance, discussion, and about every variation in between. He was out of ideas and nothing worked. Where had he gone wrong? Where had they gone wrong?

He stifled a sigh as he lay in bed and cast a sad glance at his roommate's back. Sasuke was still working on some report (what else was new?) and the lamp was prickling against the dark backdrop of their room.

He wanted everything to be okay but it didn't look like that would ever happen, so he closed his eyes and went to sleep.


As usual, life thought it was just uproariously funny to mess with him.

Even though his roommate had dialed down from Thunder-and-Lightning to Excessive Rainfall, he didn't want to bother the guy when he ran out of dorm snacks. Therefore, he did the mature thing: routed his path via public transportation and did his (junk food) shopping alone. As he tossed in a box of instant coffee packets (because let's be real, there wasn't a place on campus open at 4 AM for the much needed caffeine fix), he was just one divider away from the tea and one package was so familiar that he absentmindedly swept that into his basket too.

It wasn't until he had gotten back to his (their) room and started unpacking his purchases that he realized exactly what he had done. This usually wouldn't have worried him whatsoever; however, this was post-apocalyptic Talk and now this sort of thing had implications. Implications that he did not want to deal with.

Was this a peace offering? A gift? A no-strings-attached inanimate object? He glared at the box of tea with a level of hate usually reserved for people who kicked puppies.

Fuck it. No three-dimensional box was going to best him. He turned to drop the offending thing on his roommate's desk or bed and found the guy staring straight at him.

"Uhm," shit, think fast! "I… er, went shopping." No duh. His internal self was getting more disparaging as time passed. He winced and held the purchase out for his roommate as casually as possible.

Sasuke pushed away from the desk in order to walk over and take the box from him. "Thank you," his roommate said in a low, controlled voice. Their fingers overlapped for a grand total of two seconds and he wanted to melt into the floor. The guy rotated the tea package with care as if to scour the description, despite this being the tea he always drank. "Thanks," Sasuke repeated softly before pivoting back to the shackles of homework.


Maybe it was time to get over his roommate. Maybe this time, if he committed to it, he could do it. Just pretend he wasn't absolutely, irrevocably, inexplicably attracted to this guy.

He may have been creepily staring across the room at his roommate's area when the guy walked in. It was 10:11 PM. He grabbed blindly for a textbook on his desk under the guise of studying. He opened it randomly and began to rapidly scan the text like a student during an open-book exam.

"Hey," his roommate said in the awkward silence.

Paper crinkled and he looked up only because that wasn't a typical sound that Sasuke tended to emit. With an expression that vacillated between normal and uneasy, his roommate approached him with a white paper bag and cup. His eyes widened as his nose picked up hints of sugar and coffee. If that was a mocha and chocolate croissant, he would not be able to contain himself. The bag already had transparent stains of oil so it was very promising.

If his roommate was a lesser, unrestricted man, the guy may have told him exactly what he was being offered, but instead, Sasuke explained, "I thought you… might want something to eat."

If they had a chance to be together or if he hadn't just vowed to give up on this guy, he would have swooned. Hard. Not that he meant to insult his own masculinity but chocolate was involved and it was hard to be anything but compliant and affectionate.

His voice came out a bit raspy but, at this point, he didn't give a flying fuck. "Thanks." He accepted the delivery with not-entirely steady hands and his roommate simply smiled very slightly at the exchange.

"Naruto."

He was too busy peeking into the bag to confirm the buttery layered concoction was as he dared imagine and replied absently, "Yeah?"

"I want us to date."

He spilled his coffee with a yelp.


Author's Notes: Feedback much appreciated. :)