Please read the author note at the end fully and I mean line to line.
Two years later:
Sasuke had indeed gotten on the plane and left. Naruto had tried searching, if it had to happen it would. He'd put all his energy into his work again, trying to believe that those months with Sasuke had been a dream. But the weekly visits to Arashi's grave always brought back memories. Arashi had been cremated, but Naruto had, had a tombstone erected in the Konoha grave yard anyway. That way he could still visit his dad from time to time.
This visit was a short one however, though Arashi had been the psycho killer in his last days, Naruto still went to visit and get things off his chest, Arashi had done far too much for him when he'd still been sane.
"Hey dad…I just thought I'd tell you that I'd left the company in Shikamaru's hands for a few months. Don't worry he's capable of taking care of it. I wanted to have some time off…it's you know you're death anniversary soon…Kiba and Hinata are getting married in a two weeks…no I know you're wondering if I found anyone yet…no I haven't. I think Sasuke was my last love…It's too bothersome to fall in love all over again."
"Ino is pregnant; she and Shikamaru seemed to have hit it off really well. They got married the moment everything was back to normal. They told me today…I have to go shopping for the kid in a few months no doubt! Any way I'd better be going now dad…I still have to get a new printer since the old one broke down. Jiraiya and Tsunade are having their fiftieth anniversary soon, so no doubt there's going to be a big bash…and Sai's niece is turning fifteen in ten days time, so I'll mostly be invited to that party as well…otherwise maybe a small get together…they've forgiven me for getting him into the mess…oh well. See you next week dad."
Naruto walked slowly out of the graveyard. The pain of killing Arashi and losing Sasuke was ebbing away now. But he knew one thing…he still loved the dark haired man. He picked up his cell phone which had started buzzing. Shikamaru called him every afternoon to give him updates on what was going on at the company.
Naruto nodded at what he was saying. He knew that Shikamaru would know what was good for the company and what wasn't. He decided to go get a drink. Maybe tea or sake or something. It was cold…
He stepped into a cozy bar, a warm fire crackled to one side and the wood and red carpeting was inviting. He signalled to a waiter and ordered hot sake. He looked around idly until it came. Hot sake was something he rarely enjoyed. He mused on what to get for Ino's baby shower which he was being forced to attend. Even though it was some months away, it was something to focus on.
The waiter brought his sake and poured it for him. Naruto sipped it enjoyed the heat that flowed through his body. He loved sake…he loved the way it could be warm and intoxicating. He signalled to the waiter that he wanted to pay, but the man just came up to him.
"The owner says this is on the house."
Naruto frowned. He didn't like getting thins free due to who he was. Everyone did that nowadays and he hated special treatment. "Call the owner. I'd like a word with him. And get me the bill."
The waiter came back after a while and bowed. "The owner will be down in a minute sir. He refuses to let me give you the bill."
Naruto scowled. "Whatever…tell him to hurry." The owner didn't and Naruto had, had two more cups by the time he got there.
"Didn't anyone tell you that drinking in the afternoon wasn't good for you, dobe?" came a very painfully familiar voice.
Naruto whirled around, almost knocking his chair over. "Sasuke?"
"Naruto…" Sasuke looked good. He wore a black silk shirt with khaki slacks. "How are you?"
"I'm…fine. How are you? It's been so long…"
"I'm fine. Would you mind if I sat down?"
Sasuke smirked. "As stupid as ever dobe!"
"Yeah…so how come you own this place?"
"Well I had all that money you gave me. I made some more and then came back to Konoha. I decided I'd set up shop here you know…so what have you been up to?"
"I've left the company in Shika's for now. I needed a break from two years of non-stop working. This is awkward…" Naruto finished the bottle of sake and looked up into the dark black eyes.
"It is. Do you…want to go out somewhere? If I don't get out of here now, I'll be stuck when my patrons come in." he glanced at the clock "its five now. They'll be here in half hour. I won't be able to leave then…"
Naruto stood. "Fine let's go."
They walked out, not knowing where they wanted to go or what they wanted to do. Naruto chose first and they went to watch the new thriller that had just come out. Both sat in comfort, pointing out the parts they liked and just enjoying the other's presence. Then Sasuke chose to drag Naruto to one of those fairs in Konoha. They just played a few games, competing with each other. Sasuke had gotten loads better and even managed o beat Naruto at the archery range.
They went to dinner at 8pm. It was a small, cozy restaurant which served the best barbecue in Konoha. They found it easy to catch up on ach other's lives, though they studiously avoided the topic of their relationship and separation. The amazing thing was that both of them hadn't been in any relationships since.
"Yeah, so I like getting to know all my patrons. It's better business that way. You know all their likes and dislikes so you can tend to them personally. I also like knowing everything about my staff." Sasuke sipped his coffee gingerly…it was hot.
Naruto nodded. "You seem to love the bar…and from what I hear you're business is going great ne?"
"Yeah…it feels weird to have things of my own…but I think I'm getting used to it. And it's nice to be treated with respect by everyone…"
Talk like that continued until they got to Konoha Central Park. They sat down on a bench in the centre of the park and relaxed in the cool moonlight. It was a bit cold, so they ended up pulling their jackets closer and moving a bit closer to each other.
After a while, Naruto bit his lip. "Sasuke, why did you leave?"
Sasuke's eyes widened a bit, before he let his head hang forward and his bangs cover his face. "It was too much for me. Sai and Iruka dying all in one day…watching you kill your father…" Sasuke swallowed. "I don't want to admit it, but Arashi was right…by the end of it all I had begun to doubt you just a bit. I couldn't help but think about what would have happened if I'd just never met you…where I would be if that happened."
He turned to look at Naruto. "I'm sorry, but I did blame you a little…I hated that Arashi wanted you, but I still couldn't help think that if it wasn't for you, all those people wouldn't have died. I didn't want us to be like that…I didn't want us to feel that between us all the time. So I convinced myself that life for both of us would be better that way. But why didn't you try finding me?"
All this time Naruto had been listening with his eyes closed and pain evident on his face. "I killed dad finally. I was broken Sasuke…I had prepared myself for it, but I had no idea it was going to be like that. The moment I saw that sliver of doubt in your eyes, it was all over for me. I knew Iruka and Sai had died for me…because of me. And I did plan to go with dad…I wanted to fall with him from that window and just end all this for good. But Kakashi stopped me."
He sighed. "So I watched him die and had to live with it. You didn't trust me anymore…then there was the trial. At the end of it all, I was too tired to even entertain the hope that it would work out. I did try to contact you, but you refused to talk to me. So I gave up…I don't usually give up. But I decided that if this was what you wanted, then so be it. You'd find a nice person whom you'd love and could have a family with. I didn't care that I'd be alone…"
He made a muffled sound as Sasuke pulled him close and kissed him lightly. They looked at each other and let their lips meet in a soft kiss again. Sasuke's hands found their way into Naruto's blond hair. It was still soft and as bright as sunshine. It felt so good to feel those lips on his again. Sasuke pulled Naruto onto him, letting the man straddle him as they deepened their kiss. Naruto let his lips slide to Sasuke's neck, as he pulled the dark haired man's jacket open a bit. Sasuke pulled him back up for another kiss…they broke apart to look into each other's eyes.
"Naruto…" the deep low whisper caressed the blond's ears, bringing back all those emotions he'd kept hidden away. He pulled Sasuke close again and held him tight.
"Sasuke…I love you…"
Black eyes widened. Naruto had never said that the whole time they'd been together…"you don't mean that…you told me…back then. You said you weren't in love with me yet…"
"I was. I didn't want to believe it…I realised when I thought I'd lost you. I never got to tell you, since we didn't talk after that. Please Sasuke…be mine again." Naruto kissed him softly once more.
"Naruto…I…I don't know. We've been through so much…we have so much history…a lot of it bad, between us. I don't know if it will work…" Sasuke buried his face in Naruto's neck. He could smell Naruto's scent again, a scent that was just Naruto…it couldn't be described.
"Naruto chuckled. "Baka…it's us who have to make it work. Relationships don't work just like that…aren't you even willing to try, Sasuke?" his voice was serious by the last question.
Sasuke didn't reply, still trying to think things through. Naruto pulled away and got up. "Kiba and Hinata are getting married at Konoha East church. The wedding is two weeks from now. If you want us to work it out, then attend it. I have a flight for Wave Country booked for that afternoon. So I leave as soon as the ceremony is over. If I don't see you there, then I'll leave. If I do, then I'll stay and we'll work this out…"
He smiled at Sasuke and raised his hand in good bye. Then he hailed a cab at the end of the park. All the way home he wondered what Sasuke's answer would be.
The two weeks had passed quickly and he hadn't heard from Sasuke. He faced his dad's grave again. "Tomorrow Kiba weds Hinata. You know I did something stupid. I asked Sasuke to decide if we'll get back together again…knowing him he'll refuse me."
Naruto's fingers clenched in the grass. "I hope he turns up dad! But if he doesn't I guess I'll just leave. He looks the same, except for the faint lines of fatigue. I'm sure he's working too hard…funny how we're both hard working at everything but our relationship. If I was the praying type of guy, I think I'd pray all day…"
"I don't know what to get hem. So I decided that I'd give them, this painting I found. It's this couple at a park in the night. It's supposed to symbolize everlasting love…" he gave a bitter laugh. "If only…"
"I hope things are fine with you, wherever you are…and I know it's not hell because you did more good than evil in you're whole life. I really miss you dad…not your psychotic side….but I miss the fun times we had together. In a way, maybe if I'd only known sooner, maybe I could have convinced you to get help or something…I still love you dad." His eyes filled with tears that he held back. "In the past two years I've never wanted anything…but right now, I want Sasuke to show more than anything in the world. I'll take care of him and never leave his side forever, if only he shows."
Naruto wiped his eyes and grinned. "So let's just keep our fingers crossed eh?"
Naruto looked around the church to see if Sasuke was there. Ino punched him lightly, signalling for him to keep his eyes on Kiba, who was nervously waiting for his bride. Naruto was best man. Sighing Naruto gave up his search.
Hinata appeared a while later, looking beautiful in her off shoulder white gown and sheer white veil. The bouquet of lavender went well wit her dress.
Naruto heard Kiba whimper and nudged him lightly. Hinata's father handed her over to the blushing groom. They made a lovely pair, both blushing and looking shy. Naruto almost laughed. He kept glancing at the door throughout the ceremony, but to no avail.
"Naruto…stop getting distracted! Give Kiba the bloody ring…" Shikamaru whispered.
Naruto turned to see everyone staring expectantly at him. He fished out the ring and handed it to Kiba. Everyone sighed with relief and the ceremony went on. Kiba repeated the vows and Naruto suddenly felt proud of him. Maybe it was because in a way Kiba was like his brother…and Naruto realised that Kiba hadn't even faltered once…
Is he going to show? Was the question making its rounds in Naruto's mind. The ceremony ended and Naruto congratulated the bride and groom. Sasuke was still no where to be seen…he had a plane to catch. He said his good byes and let everyone shuffle out to the outer rooms of the church where Kiba and Hinata were holding the lunch.
He sighed and blinked a little to get the tears out. Yeah it hurt, but he'd get over wouldn't he? He started walking down the altar and to the exit, when he heard a small sound.
Uzumaki Naruto looked up and across at the end of the church. His eyes lit up in delight, as blue eyes met black.
THE REAL END
A/N: and what happens next is for your imaginations to deal with. Or for you to wait for a sequel if I decided to write one.
Okay I have a few things to say. I'm a little upset about the way some people reacted to the story. I realise that the end of the last chapter was abrupt and sad. That was how it was meant to be. People don't jump into each others arms after an ordeal like that! And I did promise to write an epilogue and did say I'd make them meet. When have I ever let anyone down when it came to endings?
Itachi: Calm down…
Taka: No, the only sad ending (real ending) I made was that Kenshin story no one read! So yes I know what the story needs and I know how many of you really like it, so I won't hurt you all! So please don't whine about it! Everywhere I went I saw people not happy with it and it's getting to me because the epilogue wasn't even out yet! I'm sorry I'm ranting and I don't mean to offend anyone! I've just had a crappy day with an ex-boyfriend who hurt me and then had the gall to text me saying he was my secret admirer and shit! So I'm a little messed up. But I thought I'd be frank cos it did hurt to see that much doubt! Sorry if I offended or hurt anyone. Hope you like this ending, please review.
THE MAKING OF DEALING WITH LOVE:
I have never written something like this before for any of my other stories so please bear with me! :)
For me, this story has almost been like a movie I was watching, a movie that held me so completely bound to it, that I don't think I could have abandoned it even if I had wanted to. Yes it has been a huge emotional drain, so much so that I haven't actually been able to concentrate on anything else unless I forced myself too. Deceptively sweet should be able to attest that, since I took up all her time talking about it, though our exams as well instead of studying…(hope I actually did well).
But to be honest, you guys are the ones who have supported me through out this story! Even through the times I felt low and you have read my rants and my tantrums….without taking offence. I haven't ever received an actual flame, the only flack I got was about chap 15 ending, but that was understandable and I said enough about it last chapter! It has been overwhelming to see three to four pages of my inbox full of reviews! So Huggles and thank you.
Special mentions to Deceptively Sweet for putting up with me, Allys for drawing me the closet plushie boy seen that graces my desktop screen and for sticking with me, Calamus for her wonderful ideas and all the other authors for updating the stories I love and letting me balance off the passion!
I just wanted to say that I'm writing this because it feels like I've completed this huge project! The story only came about because I wanted Arashi to be evil…and psychology classes helped form the idea…I wanted a diff version of the Electra complex. Like what would happen if the father loved the son, but I had no idea how you would take it so I toyed with it a lot first. From the very begin I played the part of every character and thought out every action that they did…the fight scenes were weird but nonetheless.
The first thing Naruto said to me when I showed him the script was "Hell yeah…" Sasuke wasn't as easy to convince with the whole slave deal…but since I'm his brother's possession he agreed… (Itachi threatening him with a poker was funny…) funny thing is Sasuke fell in love with Naru anyway! Sai didn't mind his part; he said it was different from what he usually did. Iruka had a fight with Kakashi because he mentioned in an interview that Arashi had been his first crush! Deidara, Sasori and Hidan brightened the set with their antics and evilness! Tsunade was sick over the fact that she was married to Jiraiya. Orochimaru hated me for giving him a two chapter mention. Kabuto did not want to be the good guy. I wrote and Itachi distracted me…so we'll just call him the distract-or.
So we'd love to thank you. If you want to read something else that is different, please grace my new story irreplaceable with your patronage. Sequel will take a while because I'm wondering if it's necessary. I've been given ideas about making it a one or two shot instead of a story…which sounds good because our central conflict is over and one with and even a sequel needs a plot…plus this sequel has to compete with it's predecessor which will be hard! ;)