Crime of Passion
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Naruto leaned against the rough siding of the taxi cab interior as it swerved into his neighborhood, ignoring the copious glances he was receiving from the driver. It was probably obvious that he was something of a danger, considering he had been picked up from the police station, and if the situation weren't as serious Naruto may have thought it funny that the man seemed intimidated by him.
As the car pulled into the driveway of his home Naruto unbuckled his seatbelt, not entirely anxious to enter his home. The safety and comfort he had once felt there no longer existed; it had been replaced with an anger and regret that he was sure he wouldn't be able to shake easily.
He handed cash to the driver and stepped out of the vehicle, surprised to see Sakura's car poking out from the three-quarter closed garage door. He felt another wave of emotion run through him, one that was desperate and unforgiving all at the same time.
After all, it wasn't as if this had been the first time Sakura hadn't been satisfied enough with him, but it had been the breaking moment somehow nonetheless. It hadn't been two weeks since they had one of those talks, the serious ones where you lay everything on the table and move forward.
And as Naruto stepped into that future blindly, Sakura had only watched from behind.
Naruto stepped up to the door as he heard the cab rumble into reverse, backing out and twirling around in a u-turn towards the main street leading to his house. He stood for a few minutes, unsure of what to say, hurt and frustrated. As he reached for the doorknob his eyes widened, surprised when the door opened from the inside.
"Please don't just stand out there," Sakura looked miserable as she made room for him to enter, "it's embarrassing."
Naruto's eyes narrowed as he closed the door behind him, locking it tightly. The living room was full of packed bags and luggage, and it was apparent that the bumpy relationship they had was finally coming to an end.
"You're leaving," he stated, and even though the image of her and that man burned holes in his mind, he couldn't help but feel desperate. He had given up everything for her—his career, his independence, his closest friend…
"I don't see how you expect me to stay," she answered, and she made an effort to maneuver around some duffle bags while pulling her hair into a pony tail. Naruto watched her expression, hard to read as always.
"I really thought we had fixed things." Naruto stated, as if the reality was finally coming to him. He had fought desperately for their relationship for something like six years, and in the end, he hadn't expected such a dramatic finale.
Sakura paused form her ministrations to turn towards him, tilting her head up to catch his eyes. Hers were red, obviously from tears, and it made their ivy green etchings seem more vibrant under the harsh skylights.
"Naruto, you and I…" she shook her head. "It's been fun; we've had great times…but you can't honestly tell me that I was that person for you."
Naruto frowned and balled his fists. "I love you, Sakura. I gave you everything," he said, though Sakura raised an eyebrow, her own eyes beginning to well with emotion.
"Naruto…" she said quietly, "With you Naruto, everything was never enough."
Naruto felt as though he had been punched in the stomach. Before he could speak his mind, Sakura continued.
"I love you Naruto, but we can't keep pretending like it's anything more than what it is," she turned her head away and zipped up what seemed to be her last bag. "We're childhood sweethearts that grew apart… and were just too afraid to admit it."
Naruto was silent as he watched her movements, his heart beating wildly in his chest, wanting to argue with her words. He wanted to but his mind was too wrapped up in everything, too confused.
"I'm going to Ino's. You can call you if you need me, but it's probably best if we don't talk for a while…" she said, and she pulled a few bags over her arms and made movements toward the front door, to which Naruto blocked her way.
There was a pause, almost like a standoff, and Naruto couldn't bring his eyes to meet hers. After she opened her mouth to ask him to move, he clenched his eyes closed.
"When you walk out, it will be the end, right?" he glanced to the side, unable to look at her, hearing her breath out a long breath that detoured some tears of her own.
Naruto thought of everything he could say, of everything he could ask—even of telling her about the fact he had barely made it out of jail and that the person who had been killed was involved in the government… and about how he was being charged with murder in the first degree.
But Sakura sounded so confident and so relieved to walk out of the door, and it made him do the only thing he felt was right. He stepped to the side and unlocked the door, holding it open for her as she watched him in surprise, expecting more of a battle.
"I really do care for you," she said softly, and she brushed a kiss across his cheek before drifting out, two rolling suitcases bumbling behind her. Naruto would have offered to help, but it seemed like too much. Opening the door had been enough; and so he just stood and stared at the flooring, listening as Sakura's car started and disappeared from the neighborhood.
The horizon had long since welcomed the sun to the new day and the morning breeze was cold, and Naruto took in a long and contemplative breath. He had too many things to worry about, so a small part of him wondered if things would be easier to handle with her gone.
His phone jingled from his pant pocket and he withdrew it, flipping it open idly as he recognized his attorney's name from the caller ID.
"Hello," his voice was much more cracked than he had thought it would be, but he hadn't cried at all.
"Naruto," came Neji's voice. "I found you another lawyer and he needs to interview you this morning. I need you down at my office in a half hour," he added, and Naruto let out a defeated sigh.
"Naruto, did you hear me?"
Naruto nodded against the phone. "Yeah, I'm on my way."
He left the house and locked the door behind him, not looking forward to calling another cab.
When he arrived at Neji's office, Naruto was already beginning to wonder why he was twenty-four with no vehicle of his own. He and Sakura had always shared her cute little Jetta, but now, starting over felt like everything had to change. It was convenient that the ending month of their apartment lease was just around the corner, and as he sat in the reception area of the Hyuuga Firm, he wondered how cheap he could get an apartment for.
He assumed Sakura would return to reclaim most of their furniture when she didn't feel as guilty, and he only hoped he wouldn't be in jail when that time came. His case looked bad, and despite his frustration and anger towards Sakura, he didn't want her to get involved.
"Naruto," Neji said suddenly, and the blond quirked his attention upwards as an office door opened and the lawyer drifted out. His face was solemn but he smiled regardless, polite with wisdom.
Naruto stood up and nodded, straightening his shirt. He hadn't had an opportunity to change clothes since being released, and felt a little guilty presenting himself to another lawyer wearing jeans and a faded band tee.
"You look like you haven't slept," Neji noted, and held his door open for Naruto to enter. Naruto let out a low chuckle and ran a hand through his hair.
"On the off day I'm not being charged with murder," he smiled, "I'm normally quite handsome."
Neji's sober expression lightened and he took a seat at his desk, and Naruto flopped down into the guest chairs on the opposite end.
"In that case we'll have to get you off the hook," Neji replied and Naruto raised an eyebrow, wondering if he had meant the comment to come off as flirtatious as it had sounded. It was apparent that the attorney hadn't because he rifled through some paperwork with a stoic expression on his face.
Naruto felt amused. If he was going to have a military lawyer, at least it was someone with a sense of humor, and someone easy on the eyes. Though he had been involved with Sakura for what seemed like a lifetime, he didn't deny that he had bisexual tendencies. In his eyes, beauty was beauty.
"So the other lawyer should be arriving shortly, and you'll be happy to know that I found your man," Neji said, and he peered up to meet Naruto's eyes. He must have been expecting some sort of rush of amazement, because his lips turned downward in confusion when Naruto's eyes widened in what looked like shock and panic.
"You what?" the words tumbled out of Naruto's mouth faster than he could catch them and he glanced around the office; almost as if searching out the person Neji was talking about.
"Sasuke. Sasuke Uchiha, right? I've worked with him before and faxed him the paperwork, and he should be here in—"
"Oh, no," Naruto stood up, almost sending his chair backwards in the movement, waving his hands in front of him like a traffic control officer. "No, no, no," he continued, like a mantra.
Neji raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "Is he the wrong one? It shouldn't matter too much; he's an amazing defense attorney. Even better than me, which is saying something," Neji looked thoughtful.
"You have to find someone else," Naruto rushed, and he picked up a random folder sitting on Neji's desk. "Like someone in here—just someone else," he urged.
"I'm a little confus—"
"Am I interrupting something?"
Naruto froze in his action, the manila folder he had been waving sporadically dropping from his hand onto Neji's desk. His chest tightened as that voice filled the room, that familiar and self-satisfied tone he hadn't heard in years.
He clenched his eyes closed and cursed under his breath, not having the valor to turn and face the man who had just entered.
"Uh," Neji attempted to answer, glancing back and forth between them, and when it was apparent that Naruto wasn't going to say anything else, he stood up and extended his hand.
"Sasuke, it's so good to see you again."
Naruto watched them shake hands from his peripheral vision, still frozen in place, trying to rifle through his thoughts in an effort to save face.
It wasn't that he was unhappy to see Sasuke Uchiha, only that he had never in a million years expected to see the man again. Their last encounter had left nothing in terms of positivity, and if Naruto's memory served right he had left Sasuke with an earful of hurtful words and a bloody nose to match.
"And Naruto Uzumaki," that voice said, smooth and cool as the day Naruto had last heard it, "how you managed to land yourself in this situation I'm not sure," he sounded irritated, "…and most definitely not surprised."
Naruto finally swiveled his head to the side, forcing a glare onto his face. When he found the figure behind him his vision latched onto coal black eyes, outlined with eyelashes too perfect to belong to any male. And if it weren't for the sharp curve of a fair-skinned jaw and an air of maturity and wisdom, Naruto would have admitted that Sasuke Uchiha looked exactly the same as he remembered.
"Are you really planning to help me?" Naruto said suddenly, unbelieving. From how he had remembered their final encounters, he much more expected a definite life sentence in the form of sabotage on the Uchiha's behalf.
Sasuke snorted. "If anything could honestly help you," he supplied, and Naruto felt his mind steam. Their deeply-held gaze must have caused an uncomfortable atmosphere because Neji stood up and went to close the door, looking apologetic.
"I'm sorry, if I had known you two had a history I wouldn't have even—"
"Tell me the case statistics," Sasuke stated, finally turning away from Naruto and setting his suitcase on the floor beside him. He maneuvered into a free guest chair and Naruto continued to glare for a moment before settling into the chair beside him.
Neji abruptly made his way back to his chair, still looking unsure. "Are you sure?"
Sasuke made a valiant effort to pretend like Naruto didn't exist, and it made the blond feel numb and frustrated. It was bad enough the case involved him being charged of high crimes, but the fact it semi-involved Sakura made Sasuke's presence even more uncomfortable.
"Business is business," Sasuke replied shortly and he waved his hand for Neji to continue. After a careful glance to Naruto, Neji began, still looking like he was sitting on pins and needles.
"Alright," he began, pulling out some paperwork. "The docket still hasn't been completed, but I'll tell you what I know at the moment."
Sasuke cleared his throat and Naruto sat back in his chair, not excited to hear about his conviction for what felt like the hundredth time. He crossed his arms and ignored the sidelong glance Sasuke sent him.
"Uzumaki arrived home to find an unfamiliar man in his home and it escalated into a fight, which took place in the driveway of his residence," he glanced at Naruto at if expecting him to nod, which he did.
"There is one eye-witness, and after the police arrived along with an ambulance both Naruto and the man were taken to the hospital. Sai was announced dead on arrival, and I won't forget to mention that he was an agent under Danzo." Neji shuffled through some more papers before Sasuke quipped a question.
"If Sai was caught breaking and entering, our justification is self defense," he said smoothly, and Neji shook his head.
"He didn't break and enter," he said and Naruto felt himself sink lower into his chair, in disbelief that this situation was happening to him. He saw Sasuke's eyes widen a fraction and his lips curl forward slightly, symbolizing that inside his crafty mind, he had figured it out.
"Really. What was he doing there, Naruto?" Sasuke smirked and turned to the blond with a raised eyebrow, and Naruto stood up, letting out a growl.
"You know what? Fuck you," he said, and he nearly tripped over the attorney in an attempt to get to the door. "I'd rather go to jail then have you 'defend' me," he barked, and from behind the desk Neji shot up, obviously confused. Sasuke was leering somewhat pristinely in his seat, and he grabbed Naruto's wrist before he managed to open the door.
"Hyuuga, give us a couple of minutes."
Neji glanced between them and nodded slowly, looking anxious. When Sasuke's expression looked more urgent he swiftly exited, weaving past Naruto in the process. When the door clicked closed Naruto remained adamantly facing towards it, not willing to turn to face his potential new lawyer.
There was a long stream of silence before Naruto took the initiative to speak.
"No one is making you stay. If you're just here to make my life more miserable, you should leave," he turned his head to catch the expression of the dark haired attorney, noting how narrowed and examining his eyes were. Sasuke's lips barely moved when he replied.
"Unfortunately for the both of us, your case is beginning to look good on my resume," he stated composedly. After a small pause he added, "Even if it does involve a situation I predicted years ago."
Naruto balled his fists and turned around. "Don't even say it. What Sakura was doing with Sai has nothing to do with anything that happened in college and—"
"Oh, so Sakura wasn't cheating on you, then?" Sasuke asked casually, crossing his legs in his chair. Naruto frowned.
"If you came all the way out here to tell me you were right about her," Naruto seethed, "Then fine. You were right. Sasuke Uchiha is always right."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow as Naruto narrowed his eyes, remembering the details of their broken friendship. It was hard to believe they had been so close in college, and that one girl tore them apart so easily. Sasuke had warned him too many times about Sakura's wandering flirtations, and when it had mattered most, he had chosen Sakura over his best friend.
"That's what you wanted to hear, right? Now stop attempting to embarrass me and move on," Naruto continued, and Sasuke shook his head.
"You embarrass yourself enough on your own," he cleared his throat, "You hardly need my help."
Naruto glared and Sasuke seemed complacent enough to speak again, this time his voice serious. Whatever grudge he had been aiming at seemed to have been appeased, and some form of sympathy crossed his features.
"Did you kill the man?" he asked suddenly, and it caught Naruto by surprise. He felt the tense sensation in his shoulders lower a little as he searched Sasuke out, unsure of why he was asking questions about the case.
It wasn't as if Sasuke really intended to help… right?
"I-I..." Naruto began, feeling the frustration of everything mounting on his shoulders. He ran his hands through his hair and spun around, letting out a sound of aggravation.
"I don't know. I don't think so?" He stalked behind Neji's desk and wandered back, pacing, an old habit he couldn't quite shake. "I came home and they were upstairs—we argued and ended up in the driveway," Naruto rubbed his head as the concussion reminded him that he couldn't remember anything more. "I don't remember anything after that…"
He let out a bewildered sort of sigh as he stared at the door of the office, trying to pan through his memories for any other sign of innocence. Everything was a blur though—an angry, frustrating blur. When the silence between them lasted too long for comfort, Naruto glanced over to him and cracked a dry grin.
"So laugh it up, because I'm probably going to jail," he said hoarsely, "all because I never took your advice about Sakura."
Sasuke looked more like a psychologist than a lawyer as he followed Naruto's movements, his expression difficult to read. He snorted when Naruto finished and stood up, grabbing his brief case off the ground.
"You're not going to jail," Sasuke said bluntly, and followed it with, "No matter how hard the NSA will ride you."
Naruto raised an eyebrow in disbelief, knowing how bad the case looked on his behalf. "And why is that?"
Sasuke moved past him to the door and opened it, glaring at him as if he had asked a ridiculous question. "Because I'm your lawyer."
Naruto's breath caught in his nose as Sasuke whisked out of the room, motioning for Neji to follow him from the lobby outside. Lawyer talk, Naruto's mind filled in absently.
He stood for a few moments, shocked and confused, turning his attention from the lobby outside to the manila envelope with his name etched in the corner neatly placed on Neji's desk.
He felt strangely confident after Sasuke's words, and somehow even more lost than before.