Happy belated Valentine's Day, dudes!
the umbrellas in London
-- couldn't hide my love for you.
the rain on tentside couldn't stop you shining through
I dreamt of you last night, lying next to me in blue
s o u n d t r a c k // aspidistra files // s t a r s
to the window and call out my name
We'll meet where the sun goes to hide from the rain
The raven-haired man took a sip of his coffee. It was mostly silent between him and the other blond man, and it would have been quiet if they weren't in a café with several murmured conversations going on around them.
They were sitting by the window where the rain pattered against. It was still early in the morning and there were numerous people outside rushing by with their dull, black umbrellas. The blond, blue-eyed man fidgeted in his seat, absentmindedly twisting the napkin in tanned, slender fingers until the tissue ripped in half. Uchiha Sasuke set his cup down and regarded the younger male with obsidian eyes.
"Naruto," he said lightly, albeit firmly, urging his companion to say what he had to say.
Uzumaki Naruto glanced up at him before looking back down. He hesitated, but when he finally came to a decision (mentally), he looked up at his best friend and beamed, eyes squinted closed in that foxy manner of his. "I was offered to transfer to Germany…"
Sasuke didn't even bat an eyelash as he stared at Naruto.
"For a year…" Naruto continued.
Sasuke's gaze wandered over to the window. He stared through the pouring rain and out at the mass of people as they crossed the street, cars pulled to a stop to wait for the pedestrians to cross.
Just another day in London.
"Though they could have told me this sooner," Naruto went on, pouting and glaring at the table, his hands grasped around his tea cup. It warmed his hands. "I'd get to meet Jiraiya, and train under him for the year."
"Hn." Sasuke didn't even look at him. "When do you leave?"
He laughed nervously and scratched the back of his head. "…At the end of the week."
There was silence until Sasuke finally said, "Congratulates, dobe."
He looked at him only to see Naruto smiling back, his eyes squinted closed again. "Thanks, teme."
Even through the smile, Sasuke could see the pain on his face, but decided not to comment on it.
It was always Naruto's dream to be a conductor. He was extremely skilled at playing the piano and violin, but it was his dream to be a conductor, to lead a group of instrumentalists and guide them to be one sound. His father, the belated Namikaze Minato, was a famous conductor who, unfortunately, died – along with Naruto's mother, Kushina Uzumaki – in a car accident when he was eight years old. Ever since Naruto could remember, he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and conduct. His father had been taught by world-renowned Jiraiya, so it was naturally Naruto's ambition to work hard to gain the conductor's attention.
And at age twenty-two, he did.
It was just a few days ago when he was contacted by Jiraiya's personal assistant, offering he come to Germany to train under him.
Of course Naruto leaped at the opportunity presented to him in a heartbeat.
And now, three days after the news, Naruto was sitting across from Sasuke. For some reason he couldn't bring himself to be as enthusiastic about leaving as he was before. The Uchiha remained his normal, impassive self; not giving a reaction to Naruto's news. He wasn't surprised, but there was something twisting in his gut. Something… disappointment, perhaps?
He lowered his gaze to stare at his tea. It was times like these he wondered why he loved his bastard of a friend. Loved. Love. Still loves. It's been a known fact among Naruto's closest of friends that he was attracted to the Uchiha, and if anything, knowing he'd be leaving for a year and away from Sasuke for a year… hurt him. It hurt him so much to think about it. And seeing Sasuke not even bat an eyelash that he'd be leaving hurt him even more.
But what was he expecting from him? Some kind of love confession? A plea not to go?
No, because even if by an off chance that Sasuke returned his feelings, Naruto would still go.
Finishing his tea, Naruto set the cup down and let out an appreciative breath. "Well, guess I should be headin' off to class now. Brat's can't teach themselves, you know?"
Naruto picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He grinned at Sasuke. "I'll catch ya later, teme." He set a bill on the table to pay for his drink before heading out, his orange umbrella readied in his hand. Orange. Not black. Not black like all of the other umbrellas bobbing around outside.
Sasuke watched him leave; watched as the door swung open and closed; listened as the bell chimed, sounding another customer departure.
everyone else is hiding, rain is sometimes drunk at two
You whisper sweet lies to me, and one of them will be true
He remembered two years ago when they were in Japan, having just received their majors in English, two years ago from the current date… He remembered celebrating with Naruto over sake that they were offered jobs as teaching assistants at a local college in London.
"We did it, Sasuke," Naruto said, cheeks flushed, hiccupping.
Sasuke, loosened up thanks to the influence of alcohol, chuckled. "Yes we did, dobe."
"I told you (hic) not to call me that te—(hic) – me!"
A month later they were roommates sharing a flat together, rushing in the early mornings to beat the other to the showers so they could make it on time to work.
A year later Sasuke received his own class to teach.
A year after that, he moved on to teach at a university.
Naruto took up teaching music class, part time at the local college they started at, and part time at a small music school where he taught younger children.
Sasuke pulled himself from his musings in order to look up at the female student who stood by his desk. She smiled shyly and held out her paper to him. "I finished my essay."
He nodded and took the paper from her. "Thank you, Emily."
She nodded, beaming. "See you tomorrow, Professor!" He waved her off, setting her paper with all the other papers he would have to grade.
Sasuke sighed. He felt tired for some reason.
"I was offered to transfer to Germany… for a year…"
Not that Sasuke was the most expressive of people, but he really was glad for Naruto now that he had his chance to train under Jiraiya. He knew Naruto since they were in diapers. He knew Naruto's dreams and ambitions more than anyone.
And yet… he couldn't bring himself to want to see Naruto leave.
For a year, no less.
"When do you leave?"
"…At the end of the week."
Sasuke had the insane urge to flip his desk over and shove his fist through the blackboard behind him. But before such an impulse could possess him fully, there was a knock at his door, and Sasuke looked over to see a silver-haired man standing there, smiling brilliantly.
"Ohayooooo, Sasuke-chaaaan!" the older man chirped.
Sasuke practically snarled at the Japanese Professor. "What do you want, Hatake?"
Hatake Kakashi chuckled, pulling himself from the frame of the door he had been leaning on. He walked into the empty classroom, his hands in his pockets. Sasuke dully noted he didn't have his usual porn book with him.
"So rude," Kakashi hummed, sitting himself down at the ledge of Sasuke's desk. Obsidian eyes were glaring openly at him, but, immune to the younger man's deadly looks, continued on, "So I heard Naruto's leaving for Germany this week."
Sasuke grunted and immersed himself in reading the essays he had his students write during class. He might as well ignore Kakashi and get a head-start on grading the papers.
"So have you figured out how you're going to tell him how you feel?" Kakashi asked casually.
Sasuke's eyes darted to him in an incredulous stare. "Humor me, Hatake, how do I feel?"
"That you're madly in love with him and that you want him to have your man babies when he comes back from Germany," the older professor sung gleefully.
Sasuke choked on nothing in particular. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You know what I'm talking about."
"No, I really do not."
"Think about it, Sasuke," Kakashi said, looking oddly serious. "You knew there'd be a time where you two would eventually go different ways. Naruto's going off in a different direction now. He'll be going to Germany for a year –"
"And he'll be coming back," Sasuke said irritably.
"He might be coming back," Kakashi corrected. "Things could change in a year. Naruto could find something better after Jiraiya; offered a job somewhere else. You may never see him again."
"If I do feel the way you say I do," Sasuke said, his tone firm with an edge, "what would be the point of me telling him how I feel if he might never come back?"
Kakashi smiled at that. "Because then he'll have a reason to come back to you, now won't he?"
boom of the city at evening is still
You whisper come to me and I always will
Naruto sighed and dusted his hands, standing up straight and cracking his back in the process. He winced. Blue eyes surveyed his room thoughtfully, wondering if he missed packing anything else. He had just finished putting most of his possessions into boxes. His flight was in three days, but before that a moving company was going to get his things and send them off to Germany so by the time he arrived, all of his things would be there. Whatever else he hadn't packed he would bring on the plane with him in a luggage.
It's been two days since he told Sasuke he was leaving. Two days since he's been unable to tell Sasuke how he felt. Two days since neither spoke a word of it.
Two days… and three counting.
Naruto lowered his gaze and hugged himself, leaning back against the wall behind him. He couldn't remember when he stopped looking as Sasuke as more than a brother, but ever since it's been so hard for him not to tell Sasuke how he felt. And now that he was about to leave, it was hard totell him; to tell him 'I love you, you damn bastard.'
But what was even more painful was feeling like he would never see Sasuke once the year was up. He felt as if, if he didn't tell Sasuke now, he would never get the chance to ever again.
And yet… he was still too scared.
He, Uzumaki Naruto, was scared of rejection.
Naruto composed himself when hearing the front door open. Sasuke was home.
He walked out into the living room with a bright smile on his face, watching as his roommate shook the water from his umbrella and shrugged off his coat.
"Welcome home, Sasuke!"
"Hn," Sasuke grunted lightly. There was always something… nice about coming home, knowing there'd be someone waiting for him. It had always been nice. Sasuke had gotten used to it over the years; used to having Naruto around.
"Are you hungry?" Naruto asked. He was already in the kitchen rummaging through the cabinets. "I'll make us dinner!"
Sasuke snorted. He rolled up his sleeves and followed the blond into the kitchenette. "All you're capable of making is ramen. I'll make dinner."
Naruto pouted. "But we haven't had ramen in ages!"
"Correction: You had ramen for lunch. Do not say otherwise, because I know you did. Ihaven't had ramen in ages, and I would like to keep it that way."
Naruto made a face at him. "Fine, whatever teme."
Sasuke smirked at him before busying himself with preparing dinner. Naruto, meanwhile, followed him around, trying to help him every now and then, only to get a ladle thrown at him, or his shin kicked. Sometimes both. Eventually Naruto settled down at the table, looking like a kicked puppy as he sulked over his aching hand that Sasuke had smacked with the wooden stir spoon. "That's what you get, dobe," Sasuke chastised.
When dinner was ready and the two were eating at the table, Naruto recounted his day to Sasuke, telling him in enthusiastic detail how little Sarah practiced very hard the other night to learn the piece Naruto had assigned them. Her dutiful practicing was noted by Naruto when he saw how much better she played. Sasuke looked amused as he listened (and watched) Naruto retell his day. The blond was very expressive – always making hand gestures – and Sasuke could hear the pride in his voice as he talked about Sarah and his other students.
Naruto loved them with all of his heart.
Wouldn't that be enough for him to come back from Germany? Sasuke wondered.
"Well, I'm gonna take a shower," Naruto said after he patted his stomach gratefully. "Thanks for dinner!" He took his plates and placed them in the sink before disappearing down the hall. When Sasuke placed his own dishes into the sink, he could hear the sound of running water from the bathroom. He was about to start washing the dishes when he paused and stared blankly at the two plates, the two cups, the two spoons and the two forks sitting innocently, waiting to be cleaned.
When Naruto leaves, it would be Sasuke making dinner for himself. There'd be no orange, blue or red dishes mixed with his plain ones (Naruto was adamant on having colorful dishes).
Sasuke would make dinner for himself; wash his own dishes; not get Naruto's laundry mixed with his; not have to clean up after the blond idiot.
For 365 days, 52 weeks, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds, Naruto would be in Germany, and all those nights in between, Sasuke would have dinner by himself.
For 365 days, 52 weeks, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds, Naruto would be gone.
the rain in this town and still the sky was blue
St. James Square was teeming with doves and at sunset they flew
Said blond looked up over his lunch when hearing his name. A pink-haired woman approached him and Naruto grinned. "Hey, Sakura!"
Haruno Sakura was another musical teacher that taught kids, but while Naruto taught piano, she stuck to violins. Like Kakashi, she was another close friend of Naruto and Sasuke, and one of the few women Sasuke could and would ever be able to tolerate. She smiled at her friend and sat down next to him.
"So you're leaving soon, huh?" she asked. It saddened her to know the blond would be gone for a year. He was like the brother she never had, as well as her confidant.
He nodded and smiled gently at her. "Yeah, two more days."
"I bet Sasuke's heartbroken about that!"
Naruto laughed painfully. "Somehow… I doubt that."
Sakura looked at him before looking away, sighing. "Naruto. You should tell him."
"Tell him what?" Naruto asked in genuine confusion. He slurped some noodles into his mouth, splattering soup around, only to earn a deserved smack upside the head. He ducked down and sulked. "Ow!"
"Tell him how you feel, you idiot," Sakura said sharply. "You may never get the chance to ever again."
"Aw c'mon, Sakura. You and I both know Sasuke's an emotionless prick," Naruto said, stirring his cup of noodles. "There's no way he'd return my feelings."
The rosette woman resisted the urge to roll her eyes. If there was anything she learned about Sasuke and Naruto, it was that they were the most stubborn and oblivious idiots around. "Then why in all the world do you like someone who's an emotionless prick, as you say he is?"
"I don't know," Naruto admitted, lowering his voice. Sakura looked at him curiously to see a far-off look in stormy blue eyes. "He's just… always been there, you know? He may not be the friendliest of people, let alone a people person at all, but… there are times where… where I get to see another side of him…"
Sakura smiled gently as she listened to Naruto talk.
His voice was soft, but there was a tenderness that was only there when he talked about Sasuke in such a way.
the darkened city to an attic room for two
All the umbrellas in London couldn't hide my love for you
Sasuke figured he shouldn't be hearing this.
It was supposed to be a private conversation between Sakura and Naruto, but when Naruto lowered his voice and started to speak, Sasuke found himself frozen and unable to stop listening, his heart thundering in his chest all the while. He had decided to stop by Naruto's school to see if he wanted to get lunch with him, but considering his current situation, he found himself unable to.
"It's like… he's still Sasuke, but at the same time he's a different Sasuke. I can't really explain it. But there was this one time I had a fever, back when we were in college, and Sasuke skipped classes to take care of me. He was really gentle and caring… I was too sick to really pay attention but… Even though I was sick, I was happy that he was there with me."
Yes, Sasuke could remember that time all too well. He wouldn't admit it to anyone, but he had been worried about Naruto. He knew something was wrong with him but the blond kept insisting he was fine… until he collapsed. It was then Sasuke forced Naruto to stay in bed where he could take care of him – but even then it didn't take much forcing since Naruto was far too weak to get up and go anywhere on his own.
"He always takes care of me." Sasuke could hear the smile in his voice. "He'll remind me to bring my jacket if it's cold; my umbrella if it's raining. He'll make sure I have lunch… He's always too busy taking care of me so… I make sure to take care of him, too. Someone has to watch out for him. Even though I know he thinks he's fine on his own… he still needs someone. Everyone needs someone. It's a lonely thing… to be by yourself. I wonder how he'll be when I'm gone. He never pays much attention when it concerns his own health…"
Against better judgment, Sasuke couldn't help but smirk to himself.
"… idiot…" he muttered.
When Naruto stopped talking, Sasuke saw it as his cue to leave, and leave he did. He was unable to get Naruto's words out of his mind, though.
Later on that night, Sasuke came home to be greeted by Naruto's usual cheery "Welcome home, teme!"
Sasuke smirked and 'hn'ed.
Naruto was sitting on the couch, papers strewn about him with musical notes. He was wearing sweats and a plain black shirt, his blond hair damp after getting out of the shower. He was scanning through the notes and leaving notes in red ink at the edges.
"I really don't know why I like him, Sakura. He's an asshole; has been and will always be. And he calls me names like 'dobe' and 'idiot.' You think I would like a nice girl, like you!"
Sakura laughed. "But you're not straight, Naruto."
He huffed. "I know…"
"Dinner, dobe?" Sasuke asked, standing behind the sofa and looking down at Naruto. Blue eyes met his and Naruto smiled beautifully.
Sasuke nodded mutely and went into the kitchen, unable to shake that smile from his thoughts. He prepared dinner, but instead of eating at the table, the two ate in the living room amongst a desert of papers. Sasuke decided to grade the essays his Advanced English students had to write.
"…Maybe I'm just a sadistic freak and I like bastards or something, I don't know. I guess it's just… it's just because he's Sasuke. There's no one else like him, at least none that I've met – well, besides Gaara, but Gaara's nicer. Why couldn't I have liked Gaara instead?"
Naruto ruffled his hair in frustration before deflating. "But Gaara's not Sasuke. No one is Sasuke but himself, and that's what stops me from ever liking anyone else. Fate's fucked up that way. We have no choice over who we like and who we don't like, but I find I don't mind so much that I like Sasuke… that I love Sasuke. I guess, when you're in love, it really doesn't matter who it's with. It doesn't matter what they've done or… or their faults don't matter either because you can accept all of their flaws, because it's part of who they are."
Sasuke found himself glancing at Naruto every now and then, noting how deep in concentration the blond was, how he would scratch his head with the butt of his pen, how he would stick his tongue out from the corner of his lips whenever he was really deep in concentration.
Sasuke found it somewhat endearing.
And when he wasn't paying attention, Naruto would glance over at Sasuke and study the older man as he graded his papers. Sometimes he would scowl at an essay, other times he would snort at something. There'd be some (rare) instances where he would 'hn' in approval.
Naruto smiled to himself and turned his eyes back to his own sheets.
"He makes me happy, Sakura. In some twisted way, he makes me really, really happy."
A little bit after one in the morning, Sasuke looked up to see Naruto had passed out on the couch. His head was resting on the arm rest while a few papers were clutched to his chest. Sasuke studied him for a moment before standing up and disappearing down the hall. He came back with a blanket that he draped over Naruto's lithe body. Naruto sighed contentedly in his sleep and curled himself deeper into the couch and Sasuke found himself brushing away strands of blond hair from his face and tucking it behind an ear.
"I can't imagine my life without him…"
"Then tell him."
"…I can't. What if he rejects me? I don't want things to change."
"And what if he doesn't reject you?"
Naruto went silent after that.
Why do you hide your love from me?
They were sitting in the same café as of a week ago, where Naruto had told Sasuke he'd be leaving.
"My flight's in a few hours."
This time was different.
"Hn." Sasuke took a sip of his coffee.
This time, when Naruto left, Sasuke may never see him again.
Naruto smiled at him, desperately trying to hide the pain from reaching his eyes. "I guess… I guess this is goodbye for now, huh?"
Obsidian eyes stared straight at him and it took all of Naruto's willpower not to look away. "For now."
They both paused after talking at the same time. Naruto smiled in an uncharacteristically shy manner up at Sasuke. "Yeah, Sasuke?"
"I…" The fist in the raven-haired man's lap clenched tightly, fingernails biting into flesh. "I…" He looked away. "…have a safe trip."
The blond's expression fell for an instant before it was replaced with a brighter one. "Thanks, teme. I will."
"…did you… have something you wanted to say?" Sasuke asked, glancing at him from the corner of his eye.
"Aa…" Naruto hesitated. He shook his head. "…It's nothing. Just… well, take care of yourself, okay?"
Sasuke studied him before nodding. "You too."
Naruto stood up. "Well… I'll be seeing you around. I'll be sure to write to you, phone you every now and then to make sure things are fine! I'll be back before you know it so don't miss me too much!"
Sasuke smirked. "Right, dobe."
Naruto grinned. He was about to hold a hand out for Sasuke to shake, but instead clenched his fist at his side before bringing that hand up and rubbing the back of his head. If anything, he wanted to hug Sasuke and tell him how he felt, but he resisted such impulses and instead, continued to grin. "So… bye then, teme."
Obsidian stared into ceruleans and Naruto's smile almost faltered. Almost. "Bye, dobe."
And with that, Naruto left the café.
Sasuke watched him leave; watched as the door swung open and closed; listened as the bell chimed, sounding another customer departure; sounding Naruto's departure from his life.
"…what would be the point of me telling him how I feel if he might never come back?"
Kakashi smiled at that. "Because then he'll have a reason to come back to you, now won't he?"
The Uchiha growled and abruptly stood up, grabbing his umbrella and hurrying out into the rain. He looked around frantically for any signs of an orange umbrella, or even blond hair, but amongst the mass of umbrellas and people, that was proving difficult. He maneuvered through the throng of bodies, accidentally bumping shoulders with strangers along the way. He didn't bother to glance back or offer an apology. All that mattered to him was finding Naruto before he was completely gone from his life.
"Sasuke, we'll always be together, yeah?" Fifteen-year old Naruto asked as he kicked his feet back and forth, sitting on the edge of the picnic table. It was lunch time, and the two were having their lunch at the usual spot beneath one of the sakura trees. Sasuke was sitting at the foot of the trunk, his hands behind his head with his eyes closed.
He peered at Naruto through one eye, only to see his blond friend looking up at the sky. Sasuke closed his eye. "Hn."
That was the first and only promise Sasuke had ever made in his twenty-four years of existence. Even after he graduated high school before Naruto, the two were still inseparable and have always remained inseparable. They were each other's halves. They needed each other.
Sasuke needed Naruto.
He needed Naruto to come back.
And then he spotted it: Orange and blond. Naruto always stood out like an eyesore in a crowd of people because of his bright colors; because of his blond hair, his bright blue eyes, his tanned skin. He always stood out.
Naruto was about to climb into a cab. Sasuke grit his teeth.
Confused blue eyes stared through the crowd, only to widen in surprise when spotting Sasuke rushing over. Naruto opened his mouth to ask if he forgot something, but was given no time to when Sasuke dropped his umbrella and grabbed Naruto by the shoulders, pulling the shorter man close and crushing his lips down against softer ones. Naruto was about to drop his umbrella in surprise, but a firm hand wrapped around his own, keeping the umbrella in place over the two of them.
Naruto closed his eyes and kissed him back, standing on tip-toes so he could strengthen the kiss.
It was only due to lack of oxygen that they pulled away, and when they did, Sasuke pressed his forehead down against Naruto's and stared into stormy blues.
"Come back to me, dobe."
For once there was no pain in his eyes when he smiled genuinely up at Sasuke. "I will."
Sasuke's lips descended down on to his again and again and again.
"I will," Naruto promised in between each kiss.
Sasuke pulled him close and Naruto buried his face in his chest. "I will. For you."
counted all the lights, they don't shine as bright
They don't pierce the night like you do
One year later.
Naruto stood nervously in front of his and Sasuke's flat. His luggage was next to him and the key to the flat was in his hand, waiting to be inserted into the keyhole. He hadn't told Sasuke he'd be arriving home today. He wanted to surprise the raven-haired man.
He couldn't help but feel nervous. A year of contact via phone and email was all they had, and at one point Sasuke had visited him in Germany for two weeks, but that had been it. And now Naruto was home, in London, and still madly in love with the Uchiha. He wasn't worried that Sasuke's feelings had changed. He knew they wouldn't. He knew they wouldn't, and now he was home, about to spend forever with Sasuke.
His training with Jiraiya had gone well, so well in fact that he set up for Naruto to be a conductor for a band at a local Opera House somewhere near London. Naruto was practically beaming with happiness when Jiraiya had told him that.
He'd get to do what he loved, and be with Sasuke. That was all that mattered. He knew his parents would be proud.
It was raining. He had the same orange umbrella opened up over his head.
He inserted the key and turned the knob, pushing the door open. Naruto stepped into the flat and shook off his soaked umbrella before removing his coat, calling out of habit: "I'm home."
He wasn't expecting Sasuke to be home.
But his heart fluttered and his cheeks flushed pleasantly when seeing the raven haired man leaning against the hallway wall, arms crossed over his chest and a smirk on his regal, pale face.
"Welcome home, dobe."
the umbrellas in London
couldn't hide my love from you
-- owari --