Disclaimer: I don't own Masashi Kishimoto's manga/anime Naruto, nor do I own any of William Shakespeare's plays, poetry, or words.
Genres: Humor, romance, drama
Rating: PG13/T to R/M
Warnings: Boy/boy, boy/girl, girl/girl, profanity, intimacy, mild mature themes
Summary: Falling in love after divorce is one thing. Falling in love with your ex-wife's new boyfriend is another.
Author's note: PenCorp's comment about flamboyant tastiness kind of made my day. Several months ago.
So who begs for your forgiveness? That, my darlings, would be me. (On another note, there seem to be a bunch of new readers. Hi. Man, I feel sorry for you guys. Me? Kind of the worst author in the world.) And as always, thanks go to Hanakage, Ishimaru Tsukiyo, Dualism.
And a warning!
Putting it plainly? My god, it's such a bad chapter. I'll edit it later, bear with me and forgive me.
act one, scene three.
Friday and it all changed.
As in, Naruto Uzumaki got hit by fate and chaos with all the force of a runaway Mack truck.
Because, okay, so. So Sasuke Uchiha was back in town. Yeah, whatever. This city is for strangers. There are millions of people here. It would only be too easy to not see him again. Ever. And okay, so Sakura was going to his gala. Well, so what. It only took a little luck for it to be some quick hello-and-goodbye, or maybe a polite how-you've-been and hell, I didn't expect the bastard to actually socialize. And that would be it. I'd never have to see his smirking mug ever again.
And life would go on, right?
It probably would have.
But it's a moot point, kiddos, because that is not what happened.
The fridge was clear (finally), the groceries were fresh. Sakura just got home.
The sun was shining.
The birds were singing sweetly in a Disney-esque fashion. Except not, because pigeons don't sing.
Pigeons aside, I'm sort of well aware that it's the Friday.
(Okay. Not that it was really that awkward between Sakura and me after that thing we had. You couldn't call it a fight, because it wasn't. I was never angry with her, and she was never angry with me. It was just, you know, a thing. And that kind of sounds really scandalous, but hey, we're ex-spouses living together. That kind of thing just bounces off us now. Our problems consisted of just these occasional things.)
Yeah. Sakura just got home, and I've never seen her so excited for one of those damned social functions. Cinderella going to her ball, almost. She called me into her room, asked me to help her.
So I did.
She was fixing her earrings, I was fiddling awkwardly with the clasp of her silver necklace. And I couldn't help but notice our reflections. It reminded me of the difference between the two of us, how clear it was when we stood next to each other like this.
People, she was radiant. In just every sense of the word. The very feminine smoke-colored dress, the delicate silver filigree thing around her slim pale neck – just ornaments, the way she wore them. You looked at her. Just… beautiful, yeah? I never had a problem saying so, but really. And she was smiling. In that shyly pleased way, the way women do when they know they look good and hey, why wouldn't she? She had every reason.
But next to her? Just a guy – that's me. Just me with messy blond hair and my college t-shirt that looks like I just found it on the bedroom floor, that guy who looks like he's kind of wandering aimlessly throughout life. Next to her, I just looked like a random fellow plucked off the streets, a nobody who got dropped off next to a princess.
The thing was, she always made me half-think She's too good for me.
"Well, how do I look?"
"Nice," I said casually.
She gave me a slightly pleading look, and I had to laugh. Women.
"Okay, okay, pretty nice." I amended slyly, putting my hands behind my head.
Well, the humor-me-please look was on full-force and hey, even the Great Uzumaki had to crumple.
"Honeybear, you look gorgeous and you know it."
Which pacified her, of course. I grinned and offered her my arm, and walked her out of her room and to the door like the perfect date. Only, you know, I wasn't her perfect date. Regardless, I exaggerated a bow to her, and she laughed as she walked out of apartment 7A.
Moments later, I walked to the window, and there she was, climbing into the taxi that had been waiting in front of our apartment building.
I waved, but she didn't see.
So what did that throw me into?
A fricking emo funk, that's what.
I sat on the couch for a long time. Didn't even bother turning on the lights, even when eight o'clock approached and night was falling on New York City.
Would be a waste of electricity, anyway. And Sakura would've approved, she's so eco-conscious nowadays. But maybe watching the electricity bill was a habit that I hadn't broken yet. Or maybe I was just being sulky. Again. Dammit Naruto!
It was a majorly depressing way to spend a Friday. Once the school year started, I would never even consider tossing away my Friday like this. But it was August, there was still two weeks to go, and I didn't have to deal with the kiddos day in and day out yet… and besides, Sakura was chatting up high society, and the bastard, well…
I would have broken out of this moping eventually, because I'm a naturally cheerful guy.
But I didn't have to, because someone did it for me.
Because fate, in the end, doesn't hate me that much.
Or, well. It does, but!
8:20 PM ET, and who else but one Mr. Iruka walks in. To visit his favorite student ever! Yes, everyone, that's me.
(And hey, this guy is one of my favorite people in the world. Seriously. This thirty-six-year-old guy with the brown ponytail, faint scar over the bridge of this nose, mild-mannered and general nice guy… who's he? Why's he special?
Well, a lot of reasons. He's just great, okay? Take my word for it.)
… He made me dinner.
Naruto Uzumaki thus was all smiles.
It wasn't ramen, but…
For a dude, his cooking is phenomenal.
Okay, for pretty much anyone short of a chef at those swanky Times Square restaurants, his cooking is phenomenal. It's like Kakashi's coffee. Enough said, right?
Visits from Iruka are always good, except when they're not.
"Naruto, I think your neighbor has a problem with me."
"… Kakashi? Seriously? Nah, I doubt that."
"Really, Naruto. He wouldn't stop staring at me. I was wondering if I'd offended him."
(Ohshit. Uh, no, Iruka. You didn't offend the man. And god, but Iruka's such a saint. Can't even fathom that psychotic nymphomaniac might possibly be checking him out.)
I stayed silent for a minute, thinking about it. And then – "Okay! I have a plan! What we'll do is… I'll let you out through the fire escape! Yeah, that's it! And you can keep it real quiet and stealthy-like and I'll keep a look out in the hallway and then I'll give you the signal and - "
"What on earth are you whispering about, Naruto?" And I know that Iruka was totally worried about my mental health, but really!
"I'm helping you escape!" I whispered fiercely.
"Him!" I jerked my thumb in the general direction of apartment 7B.
Iruka looked like he wanted to call one of his guidance counselor friends. Why didn't he get it?
He was going to find himself in a dark alley walking home and BAM!
"Iruka he's gonna rape you!" I whisper-wailed.
I expected the light bulb to go off. I expected him to get it. But Iruka only blinked and pointed behind me.
"You mean him?"
"Yes, Naruto, who's raping who?" came Kakashi's lazy drawl.
I shrieked. ("I LOCKED THAT DOOR, I SWEAR I DID!")
And I, with all the lightning reflexes of a jungle cat (rawr), pounced my old Lit teacher. (In retrospect, Kakashi didn't do much to stop me. I think he may have even enjoyed the situation, actually, cruelly delighting in my frenzy… the sadistic freak.) Hollering all the while: "RUN IRUKA… I'LL HOLD HIM OFF! RUN!"
And though I was valiantly making an attempt to save him, so nobly sacrificing myself – Iruka still looked blank. And a little worried.
"… Is he… Is he always like this?" I heard Iruka ask hesitantly, while I wrangled with Kakashi-that-beast.
And Kakashi-that-beast simply said: "Yes. Yes he is."
("Stop fraternizing with him! You're gonna become his floozie! No, Iruka, I can't let that happ–")
Fifteen minutes later, Iruka had gently pried me off, apologizing on my behalf to Kakashi, who had graciously accepted them while giving me diabolical winks, and I flailed with injustice and woe –
I was now sitting calm and subdued on the couch, meekly sipping tea between my two old teachers.
Naruto Uzumaki is a good boy.
"Now, Naruto, I'm a little concerned about you," Iruka said gently. Kakashi nodded happily next to him.
Enjoy sitting next to him, because that's as close as you're gonna get, perv.
Kakashi seemed to sense my sentiments – he really is cool like that, I must give it to him. "And, Naruto, how could you imply such things about your old, very respectable teacher?" And damn, is he good at that acting-like-I'm-innocent thing. Stupid Lit teachers.
So I muttered rebellious mutters and thought rebellious thoughts, but then Kakashi leaned close to Iruka (too close! get away from him!) to whisper something in Iruka's ear, presumably about yours truly and what a poor deranged boy I am, etc., and suddenly Iruka's very kind face just flooded with compassion.
Aw crap, Kakashi.
"Oh, Naruto. Is that why you're upset?" Iruka asked kindly. "Do you want to talk about it?"
I haven't a clue (okay, maybe I have, but I'm not sure), but…
"I'm fine, Mr. Iruka, really! That was uh, just a lapse of uh, uh, something. Whatever he told you, I'm fine and I don't need any talks I swear–"
"I think it's important that Naruto shares his feelings." Kakashi said placidly.
Iruka, of course, agreed. "Naruto, we're only concerned about your well-being. I know Sakura's out tonight, and…"
"Yes, Naruto, we're just concerned for your well-being," Kakashi reiterated pleasantly. "And as I said in a past life, 'Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.' We're only trying to help."
And I love him, but really: Thou art loathsome as a toad.
They left, eventually. After a good deal of mutual sharing and hugging and… yeah.
The first step is admitting you have a problem…
But 12:23 PM EST and then everything became inevitable.
"I'm home, Naruto!"
How did she know I was even awake, anyway? I mean, seriously, it was after midnight and all, I could totally be dead asleep and –
"I know you're still awake, you always wait up for me."
Well, and that. I poked my head outside my bedroom and told her: "Honeybear, that is not the way to appreciate a man–"
Well, I tried to inform her, but she kind of wasn't listening to me. Like, at all. Not that this was an unusual thing, but, tonight she really was very very happy to the point of emitting a physical glow and I know Sakura and suddenly there was this big dark gloomy foreboding feeling creeping up in my gut. And I am a man who trusts his intuition, yessirree.
She looked at me, all happy-like. I looked at her, and feared, feared, feared.
And okay, so Sakura was going to his gala. Well, so what. It only took a little luck for it to be some quick hello-and-goodbye, or maybe a polite how-you've-been and hell, I didn't expect the bastard to actually socialize. And that would be it. I'd never have to see his smirking mug ever again.
So remember that piece of reasoning? Yeah?
Oh Mature Naruto, you're so… mature.
"… I… talked to Sasuke Uchiha a lot tonight."
(…It only took a little luck for it to be some quick hello-and-goodbye, or maybe a polite how-you've-been)
"… He's… a little closed-off, but very polite, and I think beneath it there's a really nice guy, Naruto, I don't know why you never liked him."
(and hell, I didn't expect the bastard to actually socialize.)
"And I wanted to see him again…"
(And that would be it.)
"… so I asked him to have lunch with us tomorrow."
(I'd never have to see his smirking mug ever again.)
(… Ever again.)
(… Ever. Fucking. Again.)
Mature Naruto, fuck you. You lied.
I didn't go to lunch with them, in the end.
How could I? I really, really, really didn't like this guy. I didn't want to see him. Because, God, I didn't hate high school or anything, but it's the kind of thing that once you get out, you're out and free, and – Sakura flirting with Sasuke? Me not really wanting to be there? That would be a ten-year throwback that I didn't want to go through again. Screw 'for old times' sake.'
Sakura didn't seem too disappointed.
And she came home with: "… I really like him, Naruto."
Didn't I know it.
And, heck, even oblivious ol' Naruto knew where this was heading.
She told me a week later that she was officially the girlfriend of Sasuke freaking Uchiha.
And though I saw it coming miles and miles away… my brain flatlined.
I teach global and American history to high school sophomores and juniors.
Two weeks after the Uchiha-hosted gala, August ended and September bulldozed right in. Four days later, the school year officially started. I had a fresh set of sophomores, the snarky little things. And the snarkier slightly- bigger things, the juniors, yep, I had them too. And just like that, my life had suddenly snapped back to a routine of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of these hordes of wild young things who drive me up the wall and whom I drive up the wall in return –
It was nice. It was at least a semblance of normality. I wasn't being afflicted by Sakura having a new boyfriend. I wasn't afflicted by the way she walked around lovestruck. Or the way she came home and told me that Sasuke is so sweet he sent me flowers at work and I – no. I wasn't afflicted by her gazing hesitantly at her cell phone, and I didn't huff and burst out in "just call him already, dammit!"
"Mr. Uzumaki, are you okay?"
(Some of my students are real sweethearts.)
"Because it's not like the guy looks like he wants to kill someone or anything, really."
That totally didn't drip with sarcasm.
(And some of my students are running into asshole territory.)
Hey, snarky sophomore twit with the dyed-blue hair. Did you say I look like I want to kill someone? Kinda sorta yeah. Well, my chickadees, teacher man Naruto can and will make Stalin look like the Easter bunny. Behold my glare of death, fool. Stop provoking me.
"Hey, Kazoo boy?" I asked pleasantly. "Be quiet. Class, the Enlightenment in Europe, here we go."
"It's Kazuki," he corrected flatly.
I ignored him.
"And ahem, Enlightenment in Europe, class." I said loudly.
Man, okay, so I was crabby. Do you know why?
With Sasuke Uchiha.
That's not really why I was crabby. Surprised, you bet I was. But my incredibly gorgeous and intelligent Sakura… well, the woman is still gorgeous, but medical degree or not, prodigious young doctor or not, the woman is not quite as smart as I thought. Or maybe she's smart, but she certainly isn't quite sane.
Guess what she had.
A plot, okay, that was an easy one. And yes, everybody, that was what's making Naruto Uzumaki so crabby.
But guess what it was.
The Naruto and Sasuke Friendship Campaign.
I told you the woman was out of her mind.
Drum roll baby, it's drama time.
So in the end, I am the ex-husband.
Who was about to become the other man in the weirdest way possible.
My darling ex-wife was going out with my high school worst enemy. Said ex-wife was trying to get me to be friends with the bastard. To fraternize with him and interact politely, and god forbid, actually entertain the thought of possibly liking him.
I am the ex-husband who recommended to Tsunade to check the said ex-wife into the psychiatric unit of Konoha General. I am the ex-husband who got hit when he said that. I am the ex-husband who was roundly disbelieved when he said that his honeybear had gone absolutely crackers.
I mean, really.
The Naruto and Sasuke Friendship Campaign.
… Friendship Campaign!
Ladies and gentlemen, if that doesn't sound kind of like a cracktastic sitcom waiting to happen, then I don't know what is.
If only she knew what was going to happen.
If only, if only, if only.
My name is Naruto Uzumaki, and I swear to God that I honestly didn't mean to fall in love with the bastard.
/end act one.
Author's note: Oh my god, I hate this. Exponentially more so than the previous one. I know it's short. I know nothing happens. I know it drags. I know that the storyline is crawling at an unbelievably slow pace. I know I'm not funny. Why I'm attempting romcom? IDK. And Ladelle? You're absolutely right, this is so disconnected. Major revision is in store if I'm ever to be remotely proud of Love, Shakespeare.
But now that I'm done with the first part, good stuff can happen now, right? Like omg!sexualtension! and the wonders of the Naruto and Sasuke Friendship Campaign? Voice is now well established, Naruto can stop whining, and it should be nothing but action, baby, nothing but action?
I'm so dead right now it's not even funny.
On the other hand, I am so pleased with you guys. Utter darlings, all of you. And dropping a line this time would be unbelievably awesome, y'know.