Note: Yes, I am a sap. Don't tell me you're not as well because that would make you a big, fat liar. Let me know what you think - I made a few corrections to fill in the holds. Word count: 2435.

Disclaimer: It ain't mine, folks.

These Things


Sasuke is absolutely certain that he is not in love. He can give proof for it:

He is an Uchiha, the sole bearer of the sharingan, prodigy of Konoha, one of, they say, the new Sannin.

He has scars on his body from all the fights he has been in--freckles from Haku's needles, a small chunk of his thigh missing from Orochimaru's snake bite, a scar that barely missed his groin from Kabuto, and a patch of burnt skin over his heart where Itachi branded him right before he died. These, and many more, have tried to kill him. They have failed, and Sasuke's existence is proof for this.

A man who can fall in love is incapable of all these things. So Sasuke is not in love. He is twenty-three. He has never been in love, is not in love, will never be in love.

But then, Sasuke comes back, reeking of intestines, smeared with blood, praying for sunlight, and the small possibility that his report has not been eaten by any of his rabid snakes on the way home.

And Naruto smiles at him in the mission room.

Sasuke is absolutely certain he is not in love.




On their first date-date, Sasuke sounds like an idiot even to himself. Naruto looks confused, so to distract him from Sasuke's momentary lapse into stupidity, Sasuke offers to buy some ramen.

That takes care of the majority of the night, but when it comes time to pay the bill, Sasuke realizes that he really, really, really needs to figure out how to maintain Naruto. At this rate, Sasuke will be a broke man.

He pays everything he has in his pocket, maxes out his credit card, and still comes up short. The man at the cash register is an elderly man, and when Sasuke looks away form Naruto's waiting silhouette, dejected, he encounters understanding.

"Next time, then," the man says, patting Sasuke's arm. "I'll start a tab."

Sasuke spends three weeks doing mission after mission. By the end of the three weeks, he has amassed a small fortune.

It is enough for their next date's dinner, and when Naruto stops by a cotton candy stall, Sasuke brings out his wallet with a flourish and buys Naruto everything on display.




The first time Naruto kisses him, Sasuke thinks that Spacetime continuum must have warped, manifolds must have fallen onto themselves, that something in his heart is being ripped out and born anew.

When Naruto steps away, looking up at Sasuke with his bright, blue, blue eyes, Sasuke puts a hand against his cheek where Naruto's lips were, and tries not to stutter when saying good night. He thinks that in the morning, there will be a scorch mark where their skins made contact.

He stutters.

So Naruto leans in to give him another kiss, this time on the lips.




The first time they make love, Sasuke discovers something about Naruto.

Naruto is like a porcelain doll. There is neither a single scar nor any traces of body hair. It must be the kyuubi's doing, Sasuke thinks, because, for fuck's sake, Naruto is housing fire in his body, so it makes sense.

He is smooth, smooth everywhere, and when Sasuke presses him down into the bed, he finds that Naruto is also soft and giving. Naruto looks up at Sasuke with all the patience in the world, and Sasuke thinks, God have mercy, and kisses him.

Sasuke is a little ashamed of his body--damaged as it is--and feels a blush coming when Naruto looks him over with a serious expression on his face.

But then, Naruto traces the scar that Kabuto left, shying a few centimeters from his groin, and says, breathless, "Sasuke."

Sasuke whispers, "Oh," turns Naruto onto his side, and pushes into him.

There is a moment of stillness, utter and absolute stillness, Sasuke is shaking with the stillness of it all, and then Naruto breathes out his name again, turns to look at Sasuke in the eyes, and says, "I love you."

Sasuke thinks that this is what it must feel like, coming home.




Living with Naruto teaches Sasuke a lot of things.

Sasuke learns that Naruto can cook, that his bed so small that they have to sleep on each other, stacked like firewood, that he sings off-key, that he loves the rain but not the snow.

Sasuke learns that Naruto likes to have the bathroom clean enough that they can eat off the floor, that he worries over his plants when away on his missions, that he likes to be kissed just so.

Sasuke learns that there are things that he can not question, boundaries he can not cross, and rules he must follow.

Sasuke learns that Naruto is not afraid to cry over homeless kittens, hungry children, and Sasuke's broken family. He pulls all of them close--kittens, hungry children, and Sasuke--and talks to them of love, sunshine, and happiness.

Sasuke learns that his heart skips a beat when Naruto holds his face close and insists, "I love you," that his knees go weak when Naruto kisses both his eyes, the tip of his nose, his chin, his cheeks, his heart, and his scars, that there is nothing--nothing--better in this world than coming home to a warm bed, a sleepy smile, and eyes so blue, it's like Sasuke's flying.




When Naruto announces that he's been summoned by the Hokage, Sasuke knows that his time is up. There is no such thing as a Hokage with a love interest. Hokages, for generations, are married to the Village, unhindered by any specific emotional ties. This is a rule. This is a fact.

Another fact is this: Naruto has wanted to become Hokage even before he knew what a Hokage was, wanted to become Hokage because even though the villagers hated him, he loved them, wanted to become Hokage, because that is his destiny, told over and over again by the stars that hang so peacefully over the village.

This is a fact: Sasuke cannot change destiny. He will conquer entire kingdoms for Naruto, walk stormy seas for Naruto, bring jewels from the moon for Naruto, get down on his knees and pray to gods he does not believe in for Naruto, but he cannot, will not, change Naruto's destiny.

Sasuke knows what to do, and so he waits for Naruto to leave the apartment, and begins to gather this things.

There are more of Sasuke's things in Naruto's life, than there ever were in Sasuke's life. There are Sasuke's clothes in Naruto's closet, Sasuke's books in Naruto's shelves, Sasuke's pictures in Naruto's albums, Sasuke's kunai in Naruto's pouches.

Sasuke picks up his ANBU Captain's mask, takes out the keys that Naruto gave him, places it on the dining table and leaves, twenty-five but feeling so much younger, thinking:

These are the facts.




Sasuke lives in mountains, caves, trees, and boats for the next few months. He deputizes Neji and stays away, far, far away from Konoha until he gets a message in the Hidden Waterfall Village that the Hokage crowning is to take place, will the ANBU Captain please return.

Sasuke packs his things and begins the journey back, counting his steps, and wondering if Tsunade is doing this to him on purpose.

He gets back to Konoha, stronger, bearing a few more scars, and spends week after week training his men and perfecting security configurations.

He has walked four thousand five hundred and sixty seven miles in his lifetime, has the blood of a thousand men and women on his hands, has more scars on his body than he can count, and no one to warm his bed or heart. So the day before the ceremony, he sleeps. And dreams of clear blue skies.




The day of the ceremony, for Sasuke, is a haze of the names of all his men, their coordinations, a list of possible threats, and blue prints of the town etched into the back of his mind. There is no silence: his ear piece relays information from every corner, ever tower of the village.

By midday, he and his men have taken care of three assassination attempts, six fans attempting to get a sneak preview of the Hokage-to-be, and two confrontations with miscommunication between the Jounin forces and the ANBU forces. He tries not to think that if Naruto were not about to become Hokage and were still Jounin captain, he would be able to joke about the rivalry of the two forces over dinner later that day.

Just as the crowning is to be made--when the new Hokage comes out of the shadows of the Hokage Tower and reveals themselves to the Village--Sasuke slips into the shadows and counts the breaths before he officially loses Naruto.

There is a huge roar, and Sasuke closes his eyes against the brightness of the sun and the tightness in his chest.

He counts--one, two, three, four, five--and hears over all the noise, a deep, resounding voice, Tsunade's, "The Hokage of Konoha. Nara Shikamaru."

And when he opens his eyes again, he is staring into Naruto's blue gaze, feeling something twist inside him that makes him open his mouth and breath slow and deep.

"You didn't think," Naruto says, holding Sasuke's face in his hands, "That Tsunade would make me Hokage when I have you."

Sasuke feels his heart beat pick up again, pump enough blood for him to be able to speak. "I thought you'd leave."

Naruto's face twists into something like disbelief, and he rocks back on his heels. "And I thought you were mildly intelligent."

Sasuke pulls Naruto close, breathes his scent in, and does not bother to keep the tremor out of his voice. "Look who's talking."

Naruto's hands come around him. "I love you too."

Sasuke thinks, I've come home, now.




Shikamaru is adept at being Hokage, and a decade after entering office, there is peace between the Villages. Konoha's Hokage orchestrates a massive peace talks, binds six of the nine hidden villages in alliance, and ushers in stability with a firm hand, and a lazy look.

He is not the strongest of the Hidden Leaf, but he is the most intelligent, and there is a love for him.

At thirty-five, Shikamaru steps down from his role and hands the reigns over to Konohamaru. It was said that after came out of the Hokage Tower, Shikamaru walked straight to the Yamanaka flower shop, looked up at a window, and yelled out a sentence that had "You witch," "Troublesome," and "Marry me" interspersed in it. Two years later, Ino had twins. A boy and a girl, and Shikamaru was a happy man.

Shikamaru's face is etched into the mountain, next to Tsunade's, looking lazy and calm. He is not the archetypal Hokage, but no one really minds very much. Because now, wars are few in between, and the death toll for ninja is low.

A week after the monument is revealed to a grudgingly pleased Shikamaru, and an approving crowd in Konoha, Naruto's and Sasuke's sons vandalize it.




At forty-three, Sasuke comes home to a large, five-bedroom house. He has four sons, and a daughter, and every day he is careful when walking through doors. He prides himself in his stealth, but sometimes, he can't avoid some of the traps that his children lay out around the house.

They are not his children, not Naruto's, but they are theirs because Naruto came home one day from the hospital, with a baby in his arms and said, "This is our son" and that's all the truth Sasuke ever needed. In the years to follow, Naruto brought home four more children, and, finally, their family feels complete.

None of Sasuke's children have the sharingan, and it is just as well. He thinks that with a temptation like the mangekyou is too great a burden to bear.

Sasuke is no longer ANBU--a mission that almost shattered his spine had him in bed for three months with Naruto by his side and his daughter curled up by his feet, sniffling--but he is jounin, and now-a-days, he toys with the idea of taking a genin team under his wing.

At night, after putting all the children to bed, Naruto slides into bed next to Sasuke. Naruto pulls Sasuke close so that they are lying on their sides and facing each other, and gently, Naruto massages the small of Sasuke's back and his shoulders to relieve some of the tension there.

Naruto's hands are smooth, even now, and when Naruto kisses Sasuke, Sasuke is willing to bet his life on the fact that there is a God above, because, really, how else could he explain having survived so many heart-stilling moments in his life.


Sasuke is absolutely certain that he is not in love. He can give proof for it:

He is Uchiha Sasuke, the only and last bearer of the sharingan, Sannin of Konoha. He is the undefeated prodigy student of the late Copy Nin Hatake Kakashi, and as of yet, no ninja has rivaled his brilliance with the chidori or his command of the snakes.

He has scars on his body, and his youngest children, four and five, like to play I-Spy-Daddy's-Scar while sitting in his lap. His eldest is fifteen, and is immersed in combining the chidori and rasengan; Sasuke has the near-impossible task of making sure that his son won't accidentally set the village on fire.

These days, Sasuke has also managed to live through his children's embarrassed groans when he is caught lazily making out with Naruto in the kitchen or the study or the living room.

Sasuke still comes back from missions reeking of intestines, smeared with blood, hoping that his report is still in tact.

And then Naruto smiles at him when Sasuke trudges into his kithchen and mumbles, "I'm home."

Sasuke is absolutely certain he is not in love, but he is also absolutely certain that he is home, finally, finally, finally home. He can give proof for it:

If he could, Sasuke would lay down his heart by Naruto's feet, because Naruto is Sasuke's sun, and a single glance from Naruto can warp the universe inside out for Sasuke. Naruto's eyes are bluer, brighter, and greater than the skies for Sasuke, and Naruto's smile holds all the secrets, promises, and truths of Sasuke's world.

Sasuke is absolutely certain that he is not in love, but then Naruto smiles at him, and Sasuke can't help but grudgingly admit--

These things are still too new for him to know for sure.

End of These Things