If only things were that simple.
Being Hokage gave Naruto even more confidence. Having Kyuubi back him up gave him more backbone. Now, he was sure that he could say whatever he wanted to say to Sasuke. That he liked him, that he wanted him to be his. That he wanted to, dare he say it, make sweet, sweet love to him. To have passionate nights filled with murmurs of love, sweat, moans, grunts, and the rest of the works. To have Sasuke all for himself.
And who wouldn't want to have a piece of that Uchiha ass? Then again, Naruto's feelings went deeper than that. It was like how he felt with Sakura-chan back then, but with more substance, more ground. More meaning. It was as if he breathed real air for the first time. If Naruto knew that this was how nice truly falling in love was, he would've done that earlier.
But nobody could dictate their hearts, now could they? It was the same with Naruto. He was only human after all.
He didn't know when exactly he'd started to fall in love with his best-friend-of-sorts. Maybe it had started when they had their little accidental kiss back in the academy. Maybe this love had been hidden under his crush for Sakura-chan. Maybe it started when he knew how it felt like to truly lose someone, when Sasuke went off to Orochimaru for power. All he knew was that it had been gradual. He just began to notice more and more about Sasuke. At first he'd thought it was lust after his first official wet dream and after he'd consulted an Icha Icha book about it.
And then he overheard the girls talking about love. Butterflies in your stomach, a fluttering heart, a woozy head, a feeling of intense happiness whenever around that special person, never being angry at that person for almost all of the wrongs that they did. But Naruto didn't feel much of any of those. Though he couldn't deny the fact that his brain started to tick and his heart started to thump louder than the usual. He didn't know why.
The way he felt about Sasuke seemed different from their descriptions of love. He liked seeing the bastard. He felt more at ease and comfortable when he was around him, but he didn't like it when the other insulted. Then again, wouldn't it be odd if you liked someone calling you names? But Naruto wouldn't say that he completely hated the insults. It was just natural for them to insult each other. It was like a part of life that he wouldn't feel complete without it.
He felt like he had to be at his best whenever he was around Sasuke. There was that certain sort of pressure that he'd never felt with anybody else. He wanted to be better than that asshole, to show him who was boss. Was "almost killing each other during simple sparring sessions" love? Naruto didn't think so. It would be odd if you wanted to hurt the one that you loved, wouldn't it?
To solve all of his qualms, because he'd been thinking about Sasuke a lot more than he used to after hearing all that love talk, he decided to go to Iruka-sensei. The brown-haired man had experience and he bought him ramen, so that must mean that he was wise.
Naruto told about everything that had been happening to him concerning Sasuke. By the end of his ranting, Iruka-sensei merely smiled.
"That's one of the best kinds of love in the world, Naruto," he had said.
And so, after that day, Naruto began to think and feel about Sasuke even more.
Right now, he was standing on their old training grounds, waiting for the bastard that he fell in love with to make an appearance. Today was the day.
"What do you want, dobe?" Sasuke asked as he walked into the scene.
He had never been one for honorable honorifics in the beginning. It was the same with Kakashi and Tsunade and Orochimaru. He cared neither for age or background or gender. It was always either my way or the highway with him. Perhaps those were one of the things that made Naruto fall in love with him. Naruto really didn't care what the reason, or reasons, were. The only thing important was that he was in love and no one was going to stop him from being in love.
Naruto's heart was thudding painfully. He felt as if it was threatening to break through his ribcage. He felt as if Sasuke could hear it. He felt as if he would simply faint from all of the pressure. Should he really confess? Boys weren't made to confess their love, especially to other boys. Boys were supposed to keep everything in, right? Only girls confessed their love. Because if boys did, their manly pride might get ruined after displaying so much mushy affection.
Then again, shinobi, be it male or female, weren't raised normal, were they? Normal and perfectly sane ninja were quite rare. They were usually the ones to die first. And him being the Hokage meant that he should be one of the craziest shinobi. Wasn't he already quite crazy during his childhood? Maybe Kyuubi had a lot to do with that, as he did with most of Naruto's life.
"I want you, teme. I like you. A lot," he blurted out. Too many thoughts were in his head. He needed to get them out or else he might just burst. "I've liked you for a long time now. A very long time."
This was the only kind of confession that Naruto knew. He was a firm believer of talking. It was so funny that a shinobi didn't know how to do things subtly. Then again, this was Naruto. It would actually look weird if he didn't say the things in his mind in a wonderfully blunt manner.
Silence reigned. And Naruto had never been a fan of silence. Especially this particular kind of silence. He was unsure. He couldn't read the bastard. He was tense. What would Sasuke say? Was this a good thing? He, not knowing that he held his breathe, took a mouthful of oxygen slowly after exhaling. He couldn't take it anymore. He needed an answer. He needed anything, be it a rejection or not. He was hoping that it was the latter though. But if the bastard did reject him, he hoped that they would still remain friends. Or whatever their relationship with each other was. Anything was better than nothing, right? Right.
Sasuke turned around, his back facing Naruto. Naruto who swore that he heard a crack and whose heart was painfully contracting. Or maybe it was just him.
"I don't share the same feelings. I don't want you and I sure as hell don't like you," Sasuke said.
His voice held no hesitation. It was the same voice that he used everyday. It was the same tone. It was as if he was so used to rejecting people. Maybe he was. After all, he had a horde of people going after him yet not once was he seen with one of them in a date or some other romantic, even in the least bit, activity.
Could the bastard not be any blunter than that? Then again, Naruto supposed that that was just the way Sasuke was. He was like that, too. And he also supposed that he shouldn't have been so damn hopeful in the first place.
Why would Sasuke even like him the way he did in the first place? Sasuke had the looks, the smarts, the everything. Despite being Hokage and attaining the respect of nearly everyone, Naruto was still Naruto. Stupidly clumsy-when-not-in-ninja-missions, impossibly loud, horrendously blunt, dazzlingly bright Naruto. Kyuubi jinchuuriki Naruto.
It hurt. It really did. And wasn't it supposed to rain? It always rained during the hero's sad moments. Fucking pathetic fallacy didn't appear whenever it was really needed. Then again, maybe it really was raining. His cheeks were wet. He felt like drowning. Maybe he accidentally used a transportation jutsu and was now in the nearest sea, trying to kill himself.
He would rather have those days where Sakura constantly rejected him and that he tried so hard to beat Sasuke in everything. Those days where there were no Densetsu no Sannin, no life-changing missions, no Akatsuki, no frickin' weasel bastards. Those days where things were much less complicated. Oh how Naruto wished that he was a kid. Sure the villagers' stares and stuff would hurt, but this... this was much more painful than all of those. To have the person that he loved the most and needed acknowledgment from the most... He'd never felt anything harsher than this.
When he looked up, Sasuke was already gone, a pile of leaves on the place he used to stand. Naruto felt like shit for some unknown, for him at least, reason. He shouldn't be feeling like that. He shouldn't be feeling guilty. He should be feeling hurt. But why was he feeling as if he'd given more damage to Sasuke than to himself? Why was love so confusing? Why was it so hard?
The next morning, when Naruto went to Sasuke's place in order to tell the bastard if it was alright to act as if nothing happened and that things could just continue to be the way they were, he found out that Sasuke wasn't there and remembered that he'd assigned him a mission, an S-class mission at that,that day a week prior. Now how could he concentrate not knowing if things were going to be alright between the two of them?
Kami-sama! What if Sasuke died during that mission?! Surely that confession must've had some impact on him, even for the smallest bit. That could mean that he could get distracted and thus creating an opening for the enemy.
Hinata had never been a selfish person and perhaps she never would be. She had also always loved Naruto and perhaps she always would. And now, she didn't know whether she should be happy that Sasuke had rejected Naruto. She heard the news from Naruto himself which was no surprise seeing as she was his assistant even though she was, in three weeks' time at least, the head of the Main Family of the Hyuuga Clan. She also acted as his psychotherapist.
She was flattered to find out that she was the first and only one that he told about his problem. Probably because Sakura already had a lot on her hands and would most likely spread the news. Or become confused what to do since she, too, liked Sasuke a lot but, surprisingly enough, didn't want to lose Naruto's friendship. Though Hinata could safely say that he was not the kind of person to hold a grudge on anyone, especially someone who honestly didn't know that they were already hurting his feelings.
It must've been really hard on him for him to act the way he was right now. He was clumsier, more absentminded, and looked lost. He couldn't focus on one little thing even if his life depended on it. It was as if he had ADHD. Despite not being a medic-nin by profession, she was probably right. The Hyuuga were masters of body language, having a doujutsu like Byakugan. They easily understood the reasons why people moved like that, even though they didn't seem like the type.
In fact, Neji was one of the best gestures readers. Hiashi-sama expected as much of him. Neji was the best of this generation of Hyuuga. But others who clearly didn't know Neji would never think of him being so perceptive on things that concerned feelings and emotions. They were shallow people who were more interested with the superficial than reality.
It had been around a week since Naruto started to act like that. Sasuke had been gone on his S-class mission for a week. His fiftieth S-class mission. Hinata knew for a fact that Naruto was worried sick about Sasuke, but that worry was a bit... silly. Especially when it was for a man with Sasuke's caliber. The only thing she could think of Naruto was that he was adorably sweet. Worrying about someone he loved that rejected him in what she deemed a harsh way. Sasuke would need some talking to. Naruto didn't need to be hurt like that. She would've at least liked it if he spoke to him gently. But no, he didn't.
And ninjas were supposed to be subtle for heaven's sake! Even though the matter at hand wasn't something related to being a ninja, or missions. Hinata was so very distraught. She didn't know how to cheer up the blond Rokudaime Hokage.
First love never really did die. Right now, Hinata wasn't so sure if that was good or not. Why did life have to be so hard, especially on poor Naruto-kun? He already had enough of all of this. He didn't deserve more. He was a good man who cared a lot for the people around him. Cared to the point that he was willing to die for them.
"You know what, I hate him. I fucking, bloody hate him," Sasuke muttered. "Damn him."
Kakashi merely nodded. Sasuke shifted a bit on his position on Kakashi's back. He had gotten seriously injured during that mission. A suicide mission. It was well-known that Kirigakure did not like people with kekkei genkai like Sharingan. It just so happened that Kakashi and Sasuke both had Sharingan, despite the former only having an implanted one. Although they were the only ones fitted for this mission, so they were the ones sent there.
Sasuke now had his chin on Kakashi's shoulder. He was so tired. It had been around a week since the two of them got out of Konoha and went into enemy territory. It had been around a week since that usuratonkachi of a Hokage told him his feelings. And Sasuke had been so sad. So abysmally sad.
"Sometimes... I wish that he could just... just be susceptible to what other people feel," he continued.
"If that happened, I would think that the world was going to end," Kakashi said, amusement in his voice.
Sasuke could just feel the smirk radiating from his former teacher's lips. He growled. This was no freaking joking matter. Then Kakashi sighed.
"I think, Sasuke, that he just doesn't know how to properly phrase it, that he actually means a lot more than what he said," he said. "You're expecting too much of him."
"And you're getting old," Sasuke muttered.
"Such a drama queen. If only the others knew what you really were... Aside from your avenging side and all."
"Whatever. Just take me back to Konoha so I can rest on some hospital and rely on medicines."
"Too much drugs aren't good for you."
Sasuke was a fragile, fragile person. At least ever since Orochimaru and all. Yeah, and Itachi also. He couldn't hold all of his chakra, which was a combination of many others' chakras – a technique he'd learned from Orochimaru – and knowing a lot of jutsu, and when he went berserk, he would often damage himself severely. His chakra passageways would become blocked or muddled or mixed, and some Hyuuga, mostly Hinata or Neji, would come and fix it all up.
If his chakra passageways wouldn't get messed-up, his body would have some other problem which would lead to him using medication or going to the hospital. His best friends were pain-relievers.
His life was so fucked-up, wasn't it? It must be karma. Blessed, blessed karma. Or shitty destiny, which was what Neji would say. Damn fatalistic Hyuuga.
"You should talk more to him," Kakashi said. "You might get the response you wanted."
Try and try until you die, huh? Sasuke buried his head in Kakashi's shoulder. Maybe he could suffocate himself or something. Kakashi was rather sweaty and stuff. Perhaps he would pass out from the stench. Sasuke was a very clean person.
"It'd be so funny if you died that way," Kakashi said.
"Ha-ha, it's the most fucking funny corny joke I've ever heard," Sasuke muttered. "Imagine, the great Uchiha Sasuke dying because of a stinky old man."
"My hair's naturally like that."
"Right. And Itachi wears a pink apron while cooking for fish-face."
"You never know..."
Sasuke's face twisted in disgust. Kakashi felt it and smirked. Days like these made him think that they weren't actually ninja. Like they were just civilians.
"I don't know anymore..." Sasuke murmured after a while of silence.
Kakashi didn't know either. He didn't know much about happy love. Sasuke once knew about that. Back when Itachi was still a god and his parents were the center of his life. But those days had been so long ago. The things they, meaning he, Kakashi, and Itachi, knew about love mostly were a twisted version of that happiness. Jealousy, hate, an unquenchable and obsessive passion that threatened to cloak them in darkness.
Kakashi knew one thing about love, though. The one thing he learned from Obito, Rin, and Yondaime. A bit of what he thought he learned from his parents. Love just is. It wasn't something written on the stars. It wasn't about being meant to be. People were brought together by a series of events. People fell in love with each other just because. People sometimes weren't meant to be. Most of the time, to be more exact. Because if they were meant to be, it would mean that they were perfect for each other.
Being perfect wasn't human. Wasn't being alive. What would be the point of loving if one already knew that things would go smoothly? Hell, they wouldn't even notice that it was love if they were always happy or if things were always okay.
And Kakashi thought that what Sasuke didn't need was caring and utterly devoted Sakura who would always be there and would give everything just for him. It would suffocate him. Naruto didn't need timid Hinata who would be ready to console him, to praise him, to give him soft kisses and warm hugs. The two of them weren't used to those things. Weren't used to so much kindness. It would kill them. What they needed was someone who... would be willing to pound them into the ground or, literally need it be, knock some sense into their heads or insult them only to push them further their limits. They, as odd as it sounded it was still fitting... they needed each other.
They really would look like an odd couple. They understood each other a lot, much more than most did. They would probably even kill each other during one of their sparring matches. They wouldn't fit each other's personality. But... there was just something about the two of them that made Kakashi think that they would always gravitate to each other. There was that knowledge and naivety in their reactions. That faith and disbelief in their ideals and plans.
They were like children who forced the jigsaw puzzles to fit with each other despite not being the right pieces. Like children who forced squares into circles.
"It'll all work out," Kakashi said.
Because it was the only kind of consolation that he knew that he could give to Sasuke right now. Naruto could figure out the rest. He may not be a bright boy, but he had a heart as big and scorching as the sun. Both Kakashi and Sasuke didn't have hearts like Naruto. Sasuke once had a heart like that, but Itachi made sure that the two of them would have the same heart. Kakashi had a feeling that Itachi was lonely and was fed up with it and needed someone to be with him.
They were all lonely. That was the thing about being a genius. Perhaps all they needed in their lives was a stubborn and determined dropout with a bright smile and an even brighter disposition.
As soon as they arrived at the gates, hassled-looking Hinata met them and promptly told them that Naruto was missing. Had been for a day now. Sasuke merely sighed and told Kakashi to let go of him so that he could, quote, "Look for that trouble-making usuratonkachi and beat the hell out of him." He disappeared in a flurry of leaves before Hinata could talk again.
She bit her lower lip and started twiddling her fingers. Kakashi patted her on her shoulder and offered her a smile even though she couldn't see it.
"If there's someone who could find... Hokage-sama, it would be Sasuke-kun," he said.
Hinata knew that, too. And that was what made it hurt even more. The fact that she could never be useful to Naruto-kun. The fact that... that maybe Sasuke didn't need talking to. That Naruto-kun would find his happily ever after with someone else.
"I believe in him. In them," she whispered.
Then she heard a loud shout. It came from on top of Hokage Mountain. It was so funny that they didn't see him in that place.
Deep inside, Hinata was happy. She could hear life in Naruto's voice and that, perhaps, was the only thing important. His happiness was also her happiness.
The snake slithered back to its master and disappeared in a poof, having done its job of scaring the wits out of Naruto. All it took was a lick to his outer earlobes. Humans were interestingly sensitive creatures.
Naruto was now standing straight and looking at Sasuke, obviously surprised.
"What are you doing here, teme?!" he asked.
Pretending wasn't Naruto's thing, really, but he wasn't about to show Sasuke that he felt sad. That might induce pity or something and Naruto didn't want that. He didn't want pity. He loathed pity.
"I came here because I heard from Hinata that you were being your usuratonkachi self," Sasuke said, "and stop looking so gloomy because you look constipated or something."
Naruto scrunched up his face.
"I do not look constipated!" he exclaimed.
"Whatever," Sasuke said. "I also came here for something else."
Naruto blinked. Acting oblivious, on the other hand, was one of his specialties. Or, well, maybe it wasn't acting.
"I'd like you to... confess again," Sasuke mumbled. "I want a retake."
Naruto blinked twice. Then he chewed the insides of his mouth. Was Sasuke actually giving him a chance? Well, then, he better not fail this time.
"I like you very much, teme," he said. "I've liked you for a long time now. A very long time. Too long. I've realized this when you... when you got back into Konoha."
Naruto wasn't too big on sentence construction. What mattered was that he got everything out. It was always the thought that counted, right? As long as people maintained a level of understanding, it was alright.
"Listen carefully, dobe," Sasuke said. "I don't like you."
Naruto smiled sadly. Then began to walk away. Was the only thing that Sasuke was trying to point out was that they could never be together? Did the bastard have to be that mean? What had he, Naruto, done wrong?
He felt like dying for the second time. In fact, he felt suicidal right now. He was so near the edge. Maybe he could just... but that would be out of character for him. He didn't just kill himself because he was depressed, because he was heartbroken. There were more fish in the sea, right. But even Kyuubi knew that no fish could ever be like Sasuke.
Then he felt something hit the back of his head hard. He looked back at Sasuke, a frown on his face. A frown that soon turned into a lopsided grin when he saw that the bastard had thrown his sandal. How girly could he get?
"Don't you get it yet?!" Sasuke exclaimed, his bangs covering his face and his knuckles shaking a bit. "I love you, dumbass! I fucking love you! I don't like you. I love you. And it... it hurt... because I thought that you... that you just... just liked me."
His voice was carried away by the wind. Had he just said all of that? Had he just... not followed proper Uchiha decorum? Itachi must be laughing right now. It was not Uchiha-like to confess your love to the whole wide world. Or your ninja village.
... Love truly made people do strange things. Heck, it even made Uchiha Sasuke desperate.
He soon felt clothed arms around him. Then he smelt Naruto everywhere. Soon enough, he was covered in white. He felt a chin on his head. And Naruto's Adam's apple was bobbing up and down. He was laughing. The idiot was laughing.
"I am... so damn relieved!" he said. "I'm very very very happy! Much happier during days when they'd give me ramen discounts or when Iruka-sensei would treat me to ramen. Even though I didn't expect you to be one to confess so straightforwardly."
"Fuck you, Naruto," Sasuke mumbled as he buried himself deeper into the wamrth that was Naruto. "Besides, you wouldn't understand if I didn't spell it out for you."
"Oh, no. Fuck you."
"I hate you."
"I love you, too."
"Naruto, just... shut up. Please. You're ruining the moment."
"Has anyone ever told you that you're such a romantic?"
The punch in the gut was worth it. Anything was worth it to know that Sasuke loved him, too. Naruto couldn't care about anything else at the moment. He laughed as he clutched his stomach, or the place near it, while Sasuke had a barely noticeable, yet Naruto saw it and that was what counted, smile plastered on his face.
Please give me some feedback. I really would like to know if I did it horribly. I think that I made a lot of grammatical mistakes and I think that I didn't make the characters, well, quite in character. Please comment on it. I really would like to improve myself. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.