Notes: This is not yet another one of my WiPs, this story is already completed. It has about 22000 words, so I decided to split it in four parts and post it like that, one part a week. Hope you'll like it and if you do – tell me all about it. XD
Special thanks to youji_yola for all the help! 3
Warmer Than Summer
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
'Kubla Khan' (1798)
I smiled into the empty wall, the only thing available to look at through the window of my room, as the door of the apartment closed with a bang. Kakashi was home. What's more, he was happy.
I knew this as I knew myself. We've been living together for longer than I can remember, ever since my parents died. I had grandparents when that happened, as well as a godfather. Kakashi insisted on being the one to take me in, as a thank you to my father for everything he did for him. It took me years to understand the glint Kakashi had in his eyes whenever he would look at the picture on my bedpost, and only after he finally fell in love with somebody else.
I knew he was happy about something that day because he'd never let the door bang otherwise. He'd usually be very stealthy walking around, suddenly appearing as you shit your pants. So I kept smiling when he knocked shortly and walked into my room.
"Pack your bags." It was all the greeting that I got.
"Why? We're going somewhere?"
Kakashi said nothing and dropped a large sports bag he must have picked up in our storage room in the basement. I watched as he tried to bring back months of life into the wrinkled polyester for a couple of seconds, but hey, patience has never been one of my virtues.
"Jiraiya's?" I asked. That's my godfather, the one and only guilty party for my stupid name. I was curious but I didn't really think Kakashi would dump me there for the last summer before college. He's way too soft-hearted to send me living amongst Jiraiya's naked women calendars and forgotten bras. "Hawaii? Kalkuta?"
"Hmm." Kakashi wasn't avoiding my eyes any longer. 'I thought, it must be important, as my tongue glued to my palate.' "Do you remember that conversation about finding a bigger apartment?"
I froze. Of course I remembered that conversation; it was only yesterday when we had it. 'Finding a bigger apartment' actually meant 'me moving in with Obito, in a place with a spare bedroom where you can crash during the holidays.' Technically, I didn't mind. Kakashi deserved not to travel across the city to occasionally get laid and, besides, I liked Obito. He was fun. But these were my last months before I went away. I didn't want them to be shadowed by Kakashi's first months of living with Obito.
"I thought you two agreed to wait until fall." I said, aware that my cheeks are flushing in anger. I didn't like it when people I cared about ignored me and my opinion on an important matter like that.
But Kakashi's eyes were steady on mine. "We'll wait. But that doesn't mean we can't have a vacation together, ne? It would be a good tryout."
My shoulders slightly relaxed. I pointed out: "We had a vacation with him last year."
And those two weeks in a four star hotel on the shore were fun! I lost my virginity then, and I'm pretty sure Kakashi knew that. He didn't find out from me, though, not unless you really can see a change on someone the day after.
"This one will be for the entire summer. It's a good opportunity to meet his family."
The look Kakashi was giving me became cautious then, as would always when Obito's nephews popped into the conversation for some reason. It's like he expected me not to like them, even though he'd never met them either. I knew we might not hit it off right away, I'm always a little awkward around rich people, but it's not like I'd forget Obito's praises or how happy he was when he got to see his only family. Besides, I promised Kakashi that I would behave when the day comes. I wished he would trust me more.
"Ah." I said. Summer away from this suffocating building block sounded like heaven, even with the prospect of dealing with two spoiled rich boys. "So where are we going?"
Kakashi cocked his head. "I'm not sure. They have a house somewhere in the country."
I laughed at him. I knew that look. It meant he had been too busy trying to grope poor Obito to actually listen. Kakashi's face remained completely serious, even though a loud and hearty laugh like mine must be contagious.
"Fine, fine." I started packing once the laughter dried. "Just please tell me I will get a soundproof room. Or at least earplugs."
Then he smiled, because Kakashi, my substitute father, is the biggest pervert in the world. Even bigger than my godfather. The plea was a reference to an uncomfortable first night the two of them had spent in the same room on our last vacation. Suffice to say, I ran out in the middle of the night before even taking time to dress properly. God, but the two of them can be loud.
Nothing similar ever happened before or after that night. I really think they were sure I wouldn't be able to hear them. Still, I am scarred for life.
"How about you get a house wing of your own?"
I looked up from where I was making sure to take along my good socks to see if he's kidding. But then I remembered Obito's expensive clothes and unreachable concert tickets (meant to make me like him - which was completely unnecessary – not that Obito has to ever find out) and I knew he wasn't.
I shrugged. "As long as I don't have to clean it for food or something."
"And here we are!" Obito turned his head to give me a huge grin. I couldn't help but grin right back before stretching my neck to see a bit better.
It was a good thing we had followed Obito's advice and took a bus to go here. Our little city Opel would have never managed to make it through the old, eaten up road, not even on places near the village where the cobblestones were still mostly in their places. The village our bus deposited us in was charming, but really, really small. We collected quite a few curious stares while waiting for Obito to pick us up.
At the other side of the small bridge, I could see the house. It's somewhat a relief that the house had no wings, but the dark gray-brown walls and the style indicated its age. As we conquered more of the bumpy, narrow road, I saw the shutters on the windows. They were blue, like on some old painting.
It was big enough to host five people, I realized, even if we don't all immediately get along. Kakashi had nothing to worry about, anyway, because I was going to behave. I was going to make sure not to leave him lonely when I go to college.
The little grass free clearing intended as a parking lot was good two hundred meters away from the path that led to the front door. The house was on a hill, but the climb was fairly mild. I enjoyed my muscles working after so many hours of having to keep my legs in an awkward position in the crowded bus.
When I turned around, the view over the fields that were slowly descending on the other side of the hill was stunning. There was a small forest on the other side of the river that could be seen much clearer from the top of the hill, and the sky was blue and huge, with white fluffy clouds almost within hand's reach.
"It's nice." I said to Obito as we walked through the small fence. He raised his eyebrows, as if to say 'that is much more than 'nice.'' Maybe it was, but I couldn't as well say, 'oh how utterly and completely gorgeous!!!' I'm not a girl.
There was someone sitting in front of the house, just under the blue shutters of the nearest window, in the shadow of a tree. I could see only the tip of his dark haired head, because the rest of it was hidden behind the garden table and the lid of a really expensive looking laptop.
He looked over to us only when we were already practically in front of him. I don't think I liked him much. His eyes seemed dead, he was that serious. He didn't offer his hand, only a single nod for the three of us to share. Kakashi, who was close on my right, was standing with his arms crossed. He didn't like this person either. But Obito lightly rolled his eyes and flopped himself into one of the free chairs. Next to each other like that, they looked more as if they were brothers than uncle and nephew.
"This is my older nephew, Itachi. Don't mind him when he's working, it's hopeless. He's the world's greatest workaholic." I expected Obito's nephew, Itachi, to glare or say something cold and insulting, but he paid no attention to his uncle. What was on his screen was much more interesting, I'm guessing. As we took the last two chairs at the table, Obito added: "Itachi, this is Kakashi, and Naruto."
Itachi glanced up at Obito and then at the two of us. "It is nice meeting you finally. Maybe now my ears will get some rest."
I'm not sure if I was amused or annoyed, there was such an odd mixture of politeness and disrespect in those words. Obito laughed, not embarrassed in the slightest, and asked: "Where is Sasuke?"
"He wandered off." Itachi answered, with his eyes already back on the screen. "It is his latest childish attempt to show you how he doesn't like that you're getting married."
On that, Obito huffed. "I'm not getting married. I'm just moving in with someone."
Itachi didn't answer. Obito glared at the edge of the table, I've no idea if it's because of what Itachi said or because Sasuke wasn't there to greet us. Kakashi was very still on my side, which was never a good sign; he was probably itching to reach for Obito. I stood up from the chair between them without even considering it. Why didn't they just take places next to each other, not next to me?
"So, is this all your land?" I asked, unable to decide if I'm talking to Itachi or Obito. "Or will some angry villagers yell at me if I go for a walk?"
Itachi answered, even though I settled my questioning gaze at Obito towards the end of the sentence. "The villagers are working on the land, but it belongs to us. As long as you don't stomp on cultivation, or in any other way ruin their work, there will be no problems."
I frowned as I turned from them and started walking. I felt thoroughly lectured, like after a long detention with my high school biology teacher, even though Itachi's words had nothing but the information I asked for in them. He was weird.
But with the warm sun on my face and soft soil accommodating to my steps, it was hard to stay upset. I hummed under my breath as I stepped carefully over everything that looked like it might be there because somebody planted it. It was so different from my apartment block and school almost hidden among the boulevards and buildings.
Air smelled nice, fresh. Fields were mostly full of low green grass-like things and many, many tree lines of plums. After a while, the sun became too warm on the top of my head, making me a little dizzy. Plums were too short to help, so I changed the direction and walked toward the stream that we had passed on our way to the house earlier. It was surrounded by tall willows – or at least, I think there were willows. It's not the same seeing them in a book and with your own eyes.
Only after hiding from the sun in the thick shades of the trees did I realized just how much it was bothering me. My eyes were teary and cheeks hot. The water was loud in the stream, running fast down the hill. I leaned to see better, because the riverbanks were higher than such a small string of water seems capable of making. I grinned at the small fish, easy to see even from my upper ground.
I followed the flow for a bit. Soon, the stream's descent ended, becoming a little wider and slower. I was hungry. Before I could turn to go back, though, my eye caught something.
There was a tree trunk over the water, like an emergency bridge, and someone was sitting on the edge of it. I stepped closer, thinking that it must be Sasuke, Obito's other nephew. His hair was impossibly black, just like everyone else's in the family.
I wanted to call to him but it somehow seemed inappropriate in the deep shades, because they felt like enclosed space. I went closer instead and when I was almost behind him, he finally turned his head a little, to show that he had heard something.
"Hi!" I said, with a bright smile in its place. I had promised I'd behave.
He turned completely; the look on his face was a well familiar one. Kakashi would never convince me that he's never met this guy before, because the look he gave me was the same one Kakashi always gave me when he felt I was being particularly stupid. It had just the right ratio of annoyed and exasperated - only Kakashi didn't have eyes like these.
Sasuke –I was then completely sure it's him because the resemblance with Itachi was too great – didn't answer. I sighed heavily. Well, it's not like I didn't know that dealing with rich people wouldn't be easy. They have too many quirks.
"I'm Naruto." I tried again. "I'm here with Kakashi."
He turned to look at me again, but it felt like a glare. "Because it wasn't enough that Obito brought a total stranger to our home, he also had to bring the stranger's stray dog."
I took both an entire second with that sentence and a deep breath. Neither worked, so I crossed the last couple of steps that were left between us and then Sasuke was on the ground from a solid blow I managed to land on his jaw. My satisfaction was violent but not long. In his place, I would've tripped me. Instead, Sasuke kicked the side of my knee with a breaking force, using his heel. If I hadn't managed to move and avoid some of the blow, I could've been left limping for the rest of my life.
Sasuke was already up on his feet. I couldn't fight with knee hurt like that, my balance would be off. Sasuke didn't care much so he dealt a hit that caught my chin. I blocked the next one, but I knew it wouldn't be enough. My only chance was to keep him on the ground.
I pushed hard forward, first to just keep the space between us minimal so he wouldn't be able to swing at me, and then some more to tip him backwards. He was very stable; it wouldn't have worked if I wasn't heavier.
Sasuke fell backwards, letting go of me to ease his fall with his hands, but it was too late. I was falling myself, holding my grip on his shirt. He reacted faster than I could think, gathering his legs to accumulate my weight and bounce me over his head.
Even as I landed on my back, I still held on his shirt. The material was so strong, it barely started to rip, so Sasuke had to turn to where I was slipping rapidly down the riverbank. There was no time for him to try to get out of it before I was lying on my hip in the water, where I dragged Sasuke with me.
He was lucky enough not to get too wet, but I was lucky enough not to be covered in mud head to toe. I let go of his shirt and turned to lay on my back in the stream. The flow massaging the top of my head felt nice and refreshing after the first shock, but I had to keep my head up a little bit.
Sasuke sat up and started cleaning his shoulder and elbow, the places with the most mud. I snickered at the sight. He would have been kind of adorable with his smeared cheek and wet shoes if he wasn't the world's biggest ass.
He snapped. "What are you laughing about?"
"There's a large bruise forming on your jaw." I said. "That's funny enough."
Sasuke leaned quickly, and pushed me until I was flat on my back. Startled, I managed to take half a breath before water washed over my face, but he let go right away anyway and continued cleaning himself up while I sat up and glared. Great, at least he wasn't out to kill me.
Smug and keeping his eyes on his attempts to clean himself, Sasuke said: "You won't be able to walk for a week."
I had to clench my teeth so I wouldn't show how much my knee hurt – even though he obviously knew that - but I stood up without flinching. My clothes were drenched. There was nothing I could do about the jeans right then but I took my shirt off to squeeze the water out. Sasuke was watching me suspiciously from the ground, like I would try to kick him or something. Just because of that, I squeezed my shirt over his head.
It was an unsuccessful tactic. He just used the thin spray to clear some more mud off him. It was annoying, but at least his cheek was still muddy.
While I was putting my wet shirt back on, Sasuke climbed the slippery riverbank.
"Come on. We'll miss lunch."
I followed, distrustfully muttering. "How considerate…"
Sasuke, even though a good couple of steps in front of me, heard me. He half-turned, just enough to show me a smirk – one of those that make a stomach quiver in the way that I really didn't want to associate with Obito's bastardly nephew . "I just want to watch you limp uphill."
Well, of course.
But, despite of the words, Sasuke walked next to me once we found a path back, not behind. It suggested more that he was there to help me if I needed some help (which I didn't, of course), than to laugh. I guess the short fight helped him get rid of some of the displeasure with his uncle. I didn't say anything about it. If I was mistaken about his reasons for walking next to me, I didn't want to know about it.
Kakashi was giving me one of his sterner looks, so I kept my head low over my plate. I could see the rest of them only from the corner of my eyes. As much as the sight of a worried Obito made me feel guilty, a red shiny bruise that was forming rapidly on Sasuke's jaw was making me want to grin. He well deserved it.
Itachi was very apathetic towards everything. When he saw me walking in the kitchen after I changed my clothes in a bathroom, where the three of them were already eating, the only comment he made, after narrowing his eyes on Sasuke's face for a moment, was: "I thought you were right-handed, Naruto." If at that point Kakashi wasn't giving me the look already, I'd have told him that when it comes to fighting, I'm ambidextrous.
Poor Obito was trying to talk for five people and, not surprisingly, he was doing a good job out of it. Usually, I'd help him. But my knee was starting to hurt like a bitch, even more than my back. All I'd be in the mood to say would include a loud laugh and a finger pointed to Sasuke's face anyway. At least my war wounds were hidden.
Eventually, Kakashi showed some mercy for his lover.
"This house seems really old." He said, picking up, of course, the most boring subject possible. "Has it been with your family for a long time?"
Itachi, once away from his precious computer, was not a bad host. He answered: "This is the family's original property. Our grandfather was born here. He moved into the city later in life, but he kept the land here. It has been renovated since, of course."
Yeah, the bathroom I used to change my clothes was definitely newer. I couldn't see the kitchen from where I was sitting, but it was probably modernized. At least I hoped. How did old kitchens function at any rate?
"Ah. So now you use it as a summer house." Kakashi prompted further.
There was a quick three way glance exchanged over the table. A suspiciously laden glance. There was a story there and I made a note to myself to ask Obito about it.
"Yes, but we haven't been coming for a while."
Itachi's tone grew cold. Kakashi left it at that.
After lunch, Obito showed us the rest of the house. The ground floor was just the dining room and the kitchen, a rather huge 'family room', where there was a TV set that must have been expensive on one side and a fireplace on the other, and an extra room to accommodate guests' attached to the bathroom I used. It was where Obito and Kakashi were going to sleep.
My cheerfulness for staying on a completely different floor than the two of them didn't last long. After Obito pointed a double door at the top of the stairs, where Itachi's room was, he led me to a small side hallway with three doors. One was door of my room, one was Sasuke's and the first one from the stairs was of the bathroom that we were to share. If our relationship didn't make a very sharp turn soon, that arrangement could turn out to be a really bad idea.
I couldn't complain much, in any case. I promised I'd behave.
In order to keep that promise, I did the thing that I hated to do the most. I avoided Sasuke completely for the next several days. Or I tried, because the house wasn't that big and he seemed to be using the bathroom every time I needed it, day or night. In fact, one of our more violent, er, encounters, happened there, not a full week after we arrived.
I wanted to take a shower in the old-fashioned bathtub that, thankfully, had protective curtains around it. I had to listen for a couple of minutes, to make sure it was free. I'd learned on the first day that the bathroom had no lock and that Sasuke doesn't yell when someone barges in, he throws things. Nothing makes you careful like a big, painful, soap-induced bump on your head.
It was free so I walked in and started to take my clothes off. I don't know if it was fortunate or calculated, but thank God that I only managed to take my shirt off when the door opened, and Sasuke walked inside.
"Yo, dickhead." I said when he ignored me completely to search for something through his fancy blue toiletry bag. "Busy here, are you blind?"
The unfortunate fellow was obviously blind and deaf, but I gave him several seconds to answer me anyway. My patience hadn't paid off.
"Sasuke." I tried after he dug into the little bag for the third time. What could be he looking for, anyway? "I'm taking a shower. Get out!"
"In a minute." He finally answered, impatiently. It almost convinced me that he really needed something and wasn't there just to annoy me. Almost. "I've no wish to be here when you take off your hand-me-downs."
I was already angry - really, with him, it never took long. But why the hell did he have to insult me with every fucking word? And what was that about not wanting to see me without my clothes?
He really was smaller than me, I noticed, but not as much as it seemed at the first sight. It was mostly in the way he was keeping his shoulders slouched; it made him look thinner and younger.
I snorted. "Because you're jealous of my good looks?"
Sasuke put back his toiletry bag on the edge of the sink and gave me narrow-eyed, mocking once over. "Right."
And that was the most annoying part. He didn't even have to use insulting words to insult me anymore. My thin tolerance expired.
I grabbed him at his elbow and pushed him toward the door, to throw him physically out. Sasuke easily got out of my grip by jerking his arm through my fingers – a trick I was not all that surprised he knew – and jammed that same elbow to my side. It hurt, and I was in an awkward position to punch him properly so, instead, I pushed him back, hard, into the sink. I saw a flicker of pain as he hit his hip. I didn't care much, he hurt me first, so I moved closer to the sink myself, with every intention of blocking his already moving hands and pin him so he wouldn't get a chance to use them.
An odd thing happened then. My hands were supposed to block his arms, I'm sure that was the message I sent them to do. Instead, I found myself grasping on Sasuke's shoulders, as if to keep him grounded. Worse even, he stopped moving the same moment my palms connected.
As he narrowed his eyes at me again, not moving away and holding my gaze, I realized I had to let go. We were too close. I was growing hard, from the fight and close proximity, and I had no shirt to cover for it, just my old jeans. A little jolt of dread – no one enjoys being laughed at - was what finally made me break the eye contact and let go of him. Sasuke got out without any further encouragement.
That evening, when I leaned over to grab the remote with a small groan of pain, Kakashi whispered, but not low enough for people to miss it if they paid attention. "You know what would help you two get along better?" Some dramatically pausing later, he answered his own question. "A nice bottle of some scented lube."
I stared at him in horror, admittedly more at the fact that he, my surrogate father, was the one who said that, than at the suggestion itself, but still. He didn't have to say it so loudly where others could hear him, I doubt me going defensive would help the situation. Not to mention, everyone in the house knowing about my attraction would be very embarrassing.
A couple of days later, walking back from the small town where I went for my own amusement but mostly to get out of the house, I found a kitten. It was very cute, not too young and with its yellow fur. It seemed lost, so far away from the town, so I took it and brought it back with me.
I found an old plate in the kitchen and gave it milk. Later, I took it to my room. It curled with me through my afternoon nap, and it woke me up mewing at the door. It was obviously someone's cat, already housebroken. I got up, and then a brilliant thought made me snicker evilly to myself.
I took the cat into my hands and went to the nearest widow to check out the situation. In front of the house, Kakashi and Obito were playing a card game at the table, and Itachi was staring at his laptop. I had to lean a bit to check, but as I expected, Sasuke was deeper in the shadow of the house, reading yet another book.
Satisfied, I sneaked to the door of his room and opened them quietly just enough to push the cat through. I sat on the stairs and waited until I was sure that poor thing had relieved itself.
When I went back for it, it was comfortably lying at the top of Sasuke's neatly set bed. I didn't dare to stay long enough to make sure it worked, so I took the cat back to my room. I had to go back to the town tomorrow and find the owner.
If the cat shit in his room, Sasuke didn't notice. Or he wasn't bitching about it, which was as good as a written confirmation that he didn't notice. I was disappointed but, well, I didn't wish for him to step into cat shit enough for that failure to make me exactly unhappy.
The next day, Sasuke got out of his room unusually late, looking like hell. As he sat across from me at the table, I could hear him breathing though his mouth, as if his nose was stuffed. His eyes were bloodshot and teary.
"Do you have to eat with us at the table?" I complained, eying him carefully. "You'll give us all the flu."
"It's not flu." Sasuke said and then frowned at the slurry, wet quality of his voice.
Obito explained in his place. "It's allergies. There must be some hair an animal shed close to something he uses."
I could feel my face heat up in embarrassment. Damn it, why do I do the stupidest things?
"He's allergic to animal hair?" Kakashi inquired. "Does he have medication of some sort for it?"
"Nasal inhaler to help him breathe should be enough." Itachi explained as Sasuke glared moodily into his still empty plate. "It's not very dangerous if he's not exposed for long."
"I have allergies, too." Obito added. "They are less intense, though."
I kept my head very low and kept quiet during the breakfast. Sasuke couldn't read that day, because his eyes were too affected for that, so he was mostly lying down on the couch in the family room, in front of the TV. He wasn't really watching anything, but he wasn't sleeping, either.
I let the cat go out of one of the back windows, but I could struggle with my guilt only for several hours. I couldn't let him go back to bed where that kitten was sleeping; it probably left hair all over his blanket. So when there was no one else around, because it was hard enough to go to Sasuke with the confession as it was, I hopped on the armchair that was close to him.
"So." I started conversationally. "You're allergic to animal hair."
Sasuke inhaled through his nose violently, which only resulted in making a whistling sound. There was no answer, and no other reaction.
"Animals, like cats?" I asked again. There might have been something in my voice, guilt I was feeling maybe, because he snapped his head in my direction. I swallowed a bit and added. "Right?"
Sasuke set up in the couch. "I knew this is your fault. What did you do?"
Anger flickered in me, but I suppressed it. He was right, it was my fault. Not that trying to calm myself down wasn't also helpful with banishing from my brain things that I wanted to do to him. No one should be allowed to look that good with eyes red and swollen.
"It was just a kitten." I said quietly. "I didn't know you were allergic."
"It's not a thing people generally tattoo on their foreheads." Sasuke griped out, the effect ruined with the slurring, nasal tinge he couldn't suppress in his voice. "What did you do?!"
"Uh. I let it into your room for a bit."
"For a bit? Why would you…?" Sasuke started, but then he understood. Instead of glaring I expected his eyes grew cold. "Never mind. I have to scrub the entire room anyway."
He got up on his feet. Quite inappropriately, a traitorous part of me enjoyed the close look at his ass. But he was really angry, so I looked up quickly.
"Look, I'll do that." I offered. "I'll clean your room. Okay?"
Sasuke, already at the door, turned his very cold bloodshot eyes at me. "You," He said more clearly than anything else that day. "Stay the fuck away from my room and my things."
I sighed and slumped back in the armchair. I was upset, but I had no right to be angry at him. It was my fault he was as good as sick today. With the sounds of vacuum cleaner upstairs, I glared sullenly at the doorway Sasuke disappeared through for a long time.