So, just like in my Cleon fic, Autumn, I am going to give you guys a fact about myself each chapter. Just because I can! So here's this chapter's: My favorite book and movie is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It still inspires me to write romance.
I do not own Naruto or any of its characters. They belong to the wonderful and talented Masashi Kishimoto.
Better Than You Know
Time passed slowly as I walked through finals and the days dragged on until I found myself laying in bed on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow was the day, and I didn't know why, but I wasn't looking forward to it as much as I should be. It would be just another day. It would be one more to ex-off on my calendar with a big, fat red sharpie. It's not like anything would change between Naruto and me. We would meet, say our hellos, talk about old times, and then move on and perhaps not see each other again for another five years. Nothing would change...
I sighed, sitting up and looking at the clock. Half-past ten. Going straight to bed was the best plan, I decided.
I decided it was a smart idea not to drive to the party, since logically there would be no parking, thus I took the bus and subway across Tokyo, and ended up walking a mile or two into the rich part of town. But eventually, I ended up standing in front of Naruto's house half an hour late, with my shoes thoroughly soaked by the snow. I shivered as I rang the doorbell, expecting the dobe to answer, but, to my surprise, found Sakura standing in front of me.
"Sasuke! So nice to see you! Come in, come in. You must be freezing. Didn't you drive?" she blabbed on, and I shook my head. She gave me a smile that said "and why not?"
"I thought there wouldn't be much parking, which I was right about," I told her as I stepped inside, but indicated to the near pile-up of cars on the street outside.
"Well maybe if you were on-time you wouldn't have had that problem," she teased. I remained stoic as I slipped off my coat and scarf. She teased my hair a little, shaking off the remnants of the snow that was lightly falling outside. I pulled away from her touch and she frowned a moment, but her Christmas spirit was not damaged.
She lead me into the crowd of familiars that had not yet noticed my presence and, across the room, conversing with Hinata, was Naruto. I glanced at him. His appearance was much less boyish now, handsome even. His platinum blonde hair had darkened to a sandy mid-shade of yellow and he was tanned. Something was different about his face, though, that I did not expect. There were three wisker-marks on each of his cheeks that I assumed were tattoos. They only added to his new mystique.
In a few seconds, he turned and caught my gaze. His eyes hadn't changed. They were still the electric baby blues they had always been. He smiled at me, and I returned it with a small, almost invisible, smile of my own. He obviously saw this, even as it disappeared from my face, and signaled this by shooting me a toothy grin before turning back to Hinata.
To say the least, my reunion with Naruto did not go how I had expected. I had expected it to be a big flash of "omigosh how are you", or at the very least somehow more than just an exchange of small smiles. But that's how life is. It never goes how you expect it to.
I followed Sakura up the stairs and into the glassed-in mini-balcony off the back of Naruto's room. Everything was just as it had always been, both in Naruto's room, the back yard, and the house. I resisted to the urge to sigh with nostalgia and took a seat on the bench next to the woman, now beautiful to any man's eyes, that had never ceased to be there for me. For a few minutes we just sat there, painfully aware of how things had changed. We weren't little kids anymore, so there was no spin the bottle, no crazy swimming, nothing. Now we had apple martinis, small talk about business, and scheduling outings for a dinner at nice restaurants around college and work. What an upgrade. I admit, I missed those carefree days of grade school in Tokyo. But, more than anything, I missed having my friends around me. That I missed most of all.
"So, how've you been? It's been nearly six months since we last talked for real," Sakura entreated, creating a conversation I had almost forgotten would happen.
"Good. And yourself?" I replied calmly, rubbing my hands together lightly, washing away the last waves of cold from my fingers.
"I've been alright. Still lacking a boyfriend, but otherwise good." She laughed a little at this, but I remained unchanged.
"Why haven't you gotten a boyfriend?" I looked out across the yard and looked into the wide-open branches of the house opposite's hanamizuki tree (1), covered in snow. I remembered this tree all too well, because when it's flowers wilted each Autumn, they would fall into Jariya's pool and Naruto would be made to fish them out (although he commonly coerced his friends into doing the chore for him).
"All the guys I like don't like me back. So I guess I just haven't met the right guy. What about you? Met a nice girl yet?"
I chuckled. "You know me. I don't have time for such things." I hung my head a little, looking at my hands.
"If you wanted to, you'd make time," she told me.
"Perhaps." I looked up to find her staring into my onyx eyes. "If I met the right person, I suppose." She smiled at me.
"Well it's good to know you're not a completely lost cause." I smirked, and again turned to my hands. "Sasuke..." She spoke my name with such tenderness. "I've never once seen you with a girl... You're just like every other guy on the planet, as much as you try to hide it. You have hormones too. Are you sure you're not gay?" She had asked me this once before, back when my parents brought her to the Uchiha mansion for a few days of visiting after we graduated. I, of course, frankly answered yes, I was sure. And the answer hadn't changed.
"Yes, I'm sure," I stated.
"Alright. I just thought I'd check. It's been a few years since we talked about this stuff."
I gave a curt "hn" and silence ensued. It was companionable, a sort of silence of the ages, with memories clouding the air, making it hard to breathe. I looked up and caught her emerald eyes with mine.
"Sasuke, why was it really that you never kept in touch?" She asked me, looking deep into my eyes. I could almost see her throat tighten, making it a little harder to breathe. She was going to cry. I knew it.
I blinked, looking down as she took my hands in hers. They were so warm and I made no move to take them back, so she looped her fingers through mine awkwardly. I could see tears forming in her eyes. "Sakura--" I paused, reminding myself of my façade. "I was afraid that I would just have to lose everything all over again." I paused to swallow as tears began to fall from her emerald eyes. "I could handle it once, but I couldn't handle it again. I can only bottle up so much."
"I leave for Kyoto at the end of the school year to officially take over Uchiha Enterprises."
As the tears began running down her cheeks, she spoke a little brokenly. "You should know that distance should not keep us apart. You didn't have to lose everything by leaving, but you chose to. Sasuke, we missed you a fuckton." It was odd hearing her curse. She seldom did, so it was almost a foreign language to my ears. "Especially Naruto and me. It took us a year to get used to hanging out without you there. And Naruto was constantly talking about how he might have been able to talk your parents into letting you stay. But all of that pales in comparison to your laziness." Her tearful tone was replaced by a confident one drenched in all the anger built up over the years. "Calling us every so often, e-mailing even shooting us an IM. It doesn't take that long to just ask 'Hey, what's up? How're you doing?' in order to keep in touch with long-time friends. Sasuke, you're a coward if you thought that you'd lose us again if you kept in touch up till now."
I swallowed hard.
"Sasuke, please promise me something." I nodded. "Either keep in touch after you leave, or leave right now." Her words stung at my heart.
I, of course, knew all of what she said to be the truth. I was cowardly for not doing my best to keep in touch. I didn't deserve friends that cared as much for me as she did. I really didn't. "Sakura-- I cannot promise you anything right now." Her hand gripped mine tighter and I could all but feel the tightening of her throat. "Let me talk to Naruto first." She thought that the reason I wanted to talk to Naruto was that he meant more to me than she did, but that was not the case. Both were my best friends for different reasons, thus could not be compared. She understood this, to be sure, but somehow refused to accept it.
I got up and exited the balcony without another word, leaving the woman to her thoughts.
It was not until after the Christmas party had ended and all the guests (save for myself) had left that I had the opportunity to talk to Naruto. It began with just small talk...
"You don't need to stay to help clean up, y'know," Naruto told me. His voice had deepened very slightly since the last time I heard it over five years prior.
"I wasn't planning to," I replied smugly.
"Oh." He blushed. I chuckled.
"But since you suggested it..." My voice trailed off with an unnameable tone as I began straightening the pillows on the couch and grabbing some plastic cups off the coffee table, placing them in the large bag that Naruto and Jiriya had been piling trash in.
"Seriously, though. You don't need to stay and help," he insisted from across the room.
I looked up and caught his eyes. "I want to."
The conversation dwindled as we finished cleaning up the front room and continued through the downstairs. It was work enough to keep my mind from wandering, but not enough to keep me from stealing glances at my friend. It had been so long, and I had expected everything to be different. But nearly nothing had really changed, and I regretted admitting that I had made the worst mistake of my life by not keeping in touch. When the downstairs was done, we finished off the upstairs TV room and hallway, but didn't bother with the bedrooms since the guests were polite enough to keep out of them (except for Sakura and myself).
As we descended the stairs, Naruto tripped behind me. I turned to see why he shouted and was in the nick of time to catch him and myself at the foot of the stairs. I chuckled at the "oof!" sound he made as he landed in my arms and the garbage back toppled to the floor, spilling a few of its contents.
"I'm so sorry," he blubbered, hesitantly jumping out of my arms and getting on his knees to shove the contents of the bag back inside. I leaned down and handed him the last few cups off the floor, which he took with a small blush.
"Honestly, what would you do without me?" I teased, a small smirk dawning on my features.
"Hmpf. Same old teme." He smiled at me before running off to put the bag in the trash-can. He threw a "just wait here" over his shoulder at me, and so I sat down on one of the larger couches and waited for his return (which happened to be rather swift). As he came back in, a tad short on breath (why had he ran?), he sat down next to me, propping his feet up on the coffee table.
"In a hurry?" I asked him nonchalantly.
"It's not polite to leave guests waiting," he said matter-of-factly. He tapped his foot a little on the table out of what I guessed to be nervousness.
"Since when did you get manners?" I could almost see his eyes darken at the dabble into the things I'd missed. I quickly changed the subject. "Where are you going to college?"
"Tokyo Gakugei U.," he answered meekly.
"Are you planning on being a teacher?"
He nodded and I could see a small smile grace his lips.
So maybe something did change... Since when did Naruto want to become a teacher? Last time I heard he wanted to grow up and be a ninja or a professional hobo. He never spoke seriously about his future until now. I wonder how much I really missed.
"I want to be a high school gym teacher. I won't make that good of money, but at least it's something that I love to do, right?"
I gave an affirmative "Hn."
"What about you?"
"Tokyo U., School of Economics."
He laughed at me a little. It was a hearty laugh, not a mean one. The kind that almost said, without words, "I told you so." He said, "I knew you would be." I remained unable to reply for a little bit longer, as did he. I yawned first, and then him. He chuckled and whispered an amused, "Yawns are contagious."
I must have been more tired than I thought, because before I knew I had closed my eyes, I was fast asleep on Naruto's couch and he was asleep right next to me.
When I awoke it was hard to move. I shifted my body a little from it's lying position, but found there to be an immense source of weight on my chest. I wrenched open my eyes to find a blurry head of blonde hair on my upper chest. At first I was extremely confused, that type of confusion that you get when you wake up with your head at the wrong end of the bed and you roll over and smack into the wall instead of getting off the bed (2). I pushed up, and the blonde lump just continued to lie comfortably on top of me. When I finally shook the sleepy feeling from my brain, it clicked. I had fallen asleep on Naruto's couch, and so had Naruto. Thus, this was Naruto sleeping on top of me without a care in the world. What?!
First off, I resisted the urge to scream like a little girl that the man was sleeping on top of me. I took a deep breath and shook his shoulder with my hand. He made an incoherent mumbly noise and snuggled closer into my chest, linking his arms around to my back. I froze and my shoulders stiffened. This was major invasion of my personal bubble and I was not enjoying it.
"Naruto?" I asked in a quiet, even tone. He made no movements and I became aware of the fact that I could feel his heart beating against my chest and his breathing against my neck. Goose bumps trailed down my arms and back. "Naruto, wake up!" I commanded in a louder voice. He shifted a little and his eyes flickered open. He removed one hand from my back to rub his eyes with and it left my back with a twinge of cold. He shoved up a little from me using my chest and then gazed down on me with dream-filled sparkly blue eyes. For a moment he looked confused as to why he was staring down at me and then his eyes widened swiftly and he yelped as he jumped off of me, conveniently clutching the blanket (when had that gotten there?) across his body as though he wanted to be hid from sight.
I chuckled and sat up, placing my feet on the floor beside the couch. I glanced up at him looking down at me with terrified eyes. Did he think I was going to kill him for falling asleep on me or something? The thought had, of course, crossed my mind, but I wasn't that cruel.... Right.
"I'm so sorry!" He nearly screamed, shutting his eyes and clenching his hands tightly around the blanket.
"For what?" I asked him sarcastically. "You can't control how you end up when you're sleeping. It's no big deal." I stood and smirked at him. "Unless of course you slept on top of me on purpose, in which case I may just have to kill you." He hurriedly shook his head back and forth and the smirk faded from my face, replaced by my typical mask of ice.
"No, believe me, I didn't mean to!" He still was frazzled, thoroughly convinced I was mad at him. He peeked out from behind his blanket to look at me. "Are you mad at me?"
I quirked an eyebrow and he got the message. "Why would I be?" He smiled at me and dropped the arm holding up the blanket to his side. He was still wearing his dress shirt and suit pants, as was I. He scratched his head embarrassedly as though he felt stupid for not knowing I wasn't mad at him. It was nearly enough to get a smile to crack my lips, but not quite.
"I should be going. It's already dawn," I told him, walking over to my things by the door.
"No!" He said a bit too quickly. I turned to look at him quizzically. "I mean, you took the subway, right? Why don't you finish sleeping here and I'll drive you home after you get some rest?"
"I'd rather not sleep on a couch again," I stated frankly.
"You can sleep on my bed."
"Then where will you sleep?"
"I dunno, I guess I can sleep on the couch in my room." He shrugged.
"Hm." I considered the offer, and it sounded a lot better than going all the way home to go back to bed, so I answered, "Alright."
"Sweet, c'mon." He walked up the stairs, the blanket trailing behind him, and I followed. When we reached Naruto's room, he ninja'd a pillow (one of the many) off of his bed and plopped it down on the couch then proceeded to put the blanket there too. I took off my shoes (that had been so uncomfortably on all evening long) and placed them neatly outside the door.
"Do you mind if I sleep shirtless?" He asked me.
"Not so long as you don't mind if I do the same," I told him teasingly. He should have remembered that I really did not care if he was shirtless, nude, or otherwise lacking in clothes when we had sleep-overs, but obviously the memories had faded. We both stripped off our shirts, although Naruto unceremoniously threw his onto the growing pile of clothes on his floor, I neatly folded mine and placed it on my shoes. When I looked over at him I caught sight of his arm. It still had a bright orange strip of cloth (although now quite worn) tied around his bicep. I hinted at a smile, but looked away.
"May I borrow some pants? These are rather uncomfortable to sleep in," I inquired politely.
"Oh yeah, sure. Just grab a pair of pajamas out of the bottom drawer of my dresser," he told me. "And toss me a pair too please." I leaned down in front of the dresser and tossed him a pair of bright orange pajama pants and took a black pair for myself. I stripped off my pants and pulled the pair of pajama pants over my boxers. I didn't look to see if Naruto did the same, but when I turned around to place my now folded pair of pants on top of my shoes as well, Naruto was sitting, quite comfortably, on the couch wearing them.
I set my pants down outside the door and walked back inside the room and sat down on his bed where it was facing out onto his mini-balcony. I could see dawn painting a sunrise across the cloudy winter sky, but the street lamps on the next street over were still lit. It could have been no later than six thirty A.M.
It was then, staring out at the twilit sky that it felt strange being in Naruto's room again, talking with him as if nothing had changed. Just how much had changed was astounding, but I still felt like it was our first year of high school (3) again and I was just sleeping over at Naruto's the day before a big test that he had asked me to help him study for. I turned around to find him looking at me.
"Sasuke?" It was strange hearing him say my name again. He looked at me with those all-too-familiar eyes. I searched them, not knowing what I was looking for, but found a fondness and a friendship long since forgotten. "I heard you talking to Sakura today." My throat caught, but I kept his gaze steady. His eyes saddened as he continued, "Did you really not keep in touch because you were scared you would lose us again?"
I closed my eyes and sighed, and I didn't even have to contemplate the answer because I had done it so many times in the last few years. I flicked my eyes open and caught an electric look that made me lose my breath for a moment. What was it about my friend's eyes that were so stunning? Perhaps it was that sapphire blue that was so pure it rivaled the sky on a perfect summer's day, but I think it was the way he looked at me. With such emotion.
I nodded slowly.
"But you've been back in Tokyo for what? Over three years? How hard was it to just call and hang out over coffee every so often?" He asked, and his voice was nearly as broken as Sakura's had been. "You have no idea how much I wish we had."
I swallowed before speaking, struggling to keep my tone even. "Three and a half years is not enough time to--"
"To what?" He asked me, cutting me off. He looked up at me through his bangs and there was something feral in his eyes. A fierceness I had never seen there before. "Not enough time to make keeping friends worthwhile?"
I shook my head slowly. "Let me rephrase. Three and a half years is enough time for my heart to become attached to you guys as it was before."
"And this is bad why?" He snarled at me.
"Attachment when in a limited time frame only leads to pain," I replied just as fiercely. He backed off a bit and quit the angry routine and averted his eyes. "I leave for Kyoto at the end of May."
I saw a smile creep across his lips. "What are you talking about, teme?" That nickname again. It made me smile at its familiarity. "Kyoto isn't the moon." I chuckled. "And it's not like we can't visit and stuff now that we're older. I'm graduating the same time you are, you know." I nodded, keeping my eyes closed. "...It's not like we can't still be friends." I smiled and I could tell he saw it as he sat in front of me.
We were as close as we ever were and I found my mask melting away. The silence continued until I told him in nothing above a whisper, "I missed you, Naruto."
He breathed out and told me, "I've missed you too, Sasuke."
The silence that ensued held many unasked questions. Were we going to be friends again? Were we going to make the effort to keep in touch? What now? I lay down on the king-size bed and crawled under the covers. I had always loved western-style beds. I was not looking forward to the futons back in Kyoto again. I left my eyes open and stared at the ceiling. I could tell that Naruto had lay down on the couch to the right of the bed.
"Good night, teme," he whispered.
"Good morning, dobe," I replied. I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep with his voice upon my ears.
I awoke to a scream not even a half an hour later. I shot up and looked over at Naruto sprawled out on the couch where the screech had come from. He was thrashing in small movements and I threw off the covers and got to my knees next to him. The blonde whipped his head back and forth and whispered haggardly, "Please, don't. No. Please, Sasuke!" My name spoken so painfully from the blonde made my stomach wrench with sadness. I held out my hand to his and he gripped it tightly. It hurt a little, but I didn't care. "Please don't leave me!" He whispered pleadingly.
"Naruto," I whispered in his ear. "Naruto!" He awoke in a sweat and let go of my hand. He looked at me with wide, hurt baby blues and instantly latched his arms around my neck and pulled me close. Serious bubble invasion, but I let it slide this time.
He rested his forehead on my shoulder and sobbed into it, "Sasuke, Sasuke. Please!" His body trembled as I put my arms around his naked upper body and rested my chin on his shoulder.
"Shhh..." I comforted, completely forgetting about my façade. "Naruto, I'm here. I'm right here." His sobs wracked his body and it hurt me to see him like this. Was me leaving really this painful for him? No, that's just my ego talking.
He slowly calmed down and stopped crying into my shoulder. It must have taken him ten minutes to notice he was holding onto me. He slowly pushed me away and I let go. He left his hands on my bare upper arms, close to the shoulder. I finally got a glimpse into his blood-shot cerulean orbs and found myself happy I'd stayed the night. He let go of me with one arm to rub the remaining tears off his cheeks and away from his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke," he whispered, avoiding eye contact.
I paused before replying, "What was that about?"
"Nothing," he mumbled, still looking away.
I brought my hand up to his face and forcefully turned him back to look at me. "Obviously it wasn't nothing, now spill." His eyes betrayed him. They showed the hurt and the pain that he had pent up inside him from more than five years of missing me and a twinge of something I couldn't quite recognize.
He didn't reply properly, just leaned forward and pulled me into another embrace. I was beginning to tire of the invasion of my space, but tolerated it for the time being. He whispered into my shoulder, "Sasuke, promise to never leave me again."
In a moment of weakness, I answered, "I promise, Naruto. I promise." We stayed like that for a few more minutes until I spoke again. "C'mon, go sleep in your bed. You obviously need the rest."
"I don't want to make you sleep on the couch..." He spoke in a near inaudible whisper.
"Then let's share the bed. I don't mind." He nodded into my shoulder and I tried to pull away, but he held me tight. "Dobe, you have to let go." He pulled his head away from my shoulder and looked into my eyes. We were too close for comfort and then he glanced away, again placing his head on my shoulder. "C'mon, dobe."
"I can't stand," he said meekly. "Carry me?"
I chuckled. "Dobe."
He pulled away and looked at me again. "Please?" Ugh, he looked so pitiful. I groaned and hoisted him up with one arm around his back and one underneath his knees. I then carried him bridal-style to the bed and nonchalantly dropped him onto it. He made an 'oof' sound as he landed on his back. I climbed around the other side of the bed and crawled under the covers with my friend.
"Don't have anymore nightmares, alright, dobe? I need my beauty sleep."
He laughed softly next to me. "Alright, princess."
I don't remember falling asleep again.
When I awoke, Naruto was already up. I sleepily wandered downstairs, still wearing only my borrowed pajama pants and the boxers underneath. I found Naruto in the kitchen making waffles. I sat down at one of the counter's bar chairs and watched him for a few minutes as he stared intently at the waffle iron as if it would perform a magic trick if he stared at it long enough. He hadn't noticed me yet.
When he turned around, I suspect to grab a cup of coffee from the coffee maker to my left, he jumped with fright at the sight of me. Even at age twenty-one he was just as animated. I shot him an amused smirk as he took a deep breath.
"Good morning, Sasuke," he said, awkwardly getting a cup of coffee and stirring in an ungodly amount of sugar.
"Actually, it is currently half-past noon. So it's afternoon," I commented, resting my chin on my hands.
"Smartass." I smirked again. "You haven't changed."
"But you have. Since when do you eat something other than ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?" I asked, pointing to the waffle iron that had finally dinged, signaling that the waffle was done.
"Since my doctor told me I needed to balance my diet," he groaned, lifting the waffle out with a fork and placing it on a plate and putting it in front of me. "Syrup or powdered sugar? Nevermind. You hate syrup." I smiled inwardly. He hadn't forgotten everything.
I began buttering and powdering the waffle as he poured more batter into the iron. "So you added waffles drenched in maple syrup and coffee to your diet. What an improvement." My words dripped with sarcasm almost as thick as the syrup.
Naruto smiled a toothy smile. "For me, yeah. It is." He paused to take a sip of coffee and I began eating my waffle. "Would you like something to drink?" he asked, setting down his mug of sugar-laced coffee.
I swallowed before speaking, "Milk, please."
"Sure." The blonde turned back around and poured me a generous glass of milk from the carton in the fridge and set it in front of my plate.
"Thank you," I said.
A silence ensued as both of us danced around the subject of earlier that morning. Before long, Naruto got to the point. "The reason I had that nightmare last night was because I missed you so much. I used to have the same one for the next few months after you left. I guess seeing you again stirred up those feelings again." I felt like there was a loose end of his story, some other reason for his discomfort, but let it lie. "I'm sorry for waking you up."
"Hn." I resorted to my standard reply when I lacked the words to say what I was feeling.
"How's the waffle?" he asked me.
After taking a slug of my glass of milk, I replied, "Good." The wave of small, unimportant conversation continued for the next few minutes before I asked, "So where did that blanket come from las' night? The one that you had when we woke up on the couch?"
He blushed a tad at the memory. "Uncle Jiriya, probably." So he still called his family friend 'uncle.' Interesting. He continued, "He's the only other one that would've been around, unless grandma Tsunade stayed the night." He shuddered at the thought. "Probably Jiriya, though." I planned to talk to Jiriya later, perhaps he would tell me what Naruto would not about his nightmares.
"Why wouldn't he have just woken us up?" I inquired between the final bites of my second waffle.
Naruto laughed before responding. "He learned not to wake me up after I dislocated his jaw with a kick one time back in my freshman year of college." I chuckled. "He hasn't woken me up by shaking me since. The worst he's done is grab a bullhorn and shout at me from the door of my room."
"And how did that go?" I inquired.
"He got a face full of pillow. But that's better than a jaw full of foot, I suppose." I smirked.
I stood and walked around the other side of the counter to put my plate and empty milk cup in the dishwasher before telling Naruto, "I'm going to go grab my things from upstairs and go to the bathroom. I'll be right back." Obviously, my intention was to interrogate the stay-at-home author about his "nephew's" nightmares, but Naruto didn't need to know that.
"Alright," he replied cheerily, giving me a small goodbye wave before I disappeared from the kitchen, down the hall, and up the spiral staircase.
I knocked on the office/bedroom door of a certain Jiriya, only to receive no response. I only remember which door it was because he had, on numerous occasions, told us that if we went in there we might end up dead so that there were no witnesses. Of course, this was just a clever ploy to keep us out of his porn library when we were younger. Come high school, the room's contents were widely known in our friend group. It was still enough to keep us out. "Jiriya?" I asked through the door. I heard shuffling noises and the thumping of feet on the wood floor. "Jiriya? You there?" I repeated.
Suddenly the door was flung open from the inside and a very large, muscular man with overgrown white hair (I never did find out how he grew it that long) answered the door. He seemed to be still rubbing the sleep from his eyes and he was only wearing a sheet wrapped around his waist. I kept my composure. "What is it?" he nearly growled through sleepy teeth.
"I want you to tell me what Naruto would not," I told him matter-of-factly.
Jiriya finally blinked the sleep from his eyes and looked at me with focusing eyes. "Sasuke?" He asked dumbly. "It's been a long time."
"It has." He smiled at me. "May I come in?"
"Uh, if you want to," he said, indicating to a woman with long pale blonde hair lying on his bed naked. I swallowed and willed the blush to stop creeping up my neck.
"It would be most convenient if she would either cover up or clothe herself before we spoke." I looked away and stood calmly in the doorway as the man ushered his lover into the closet where she could put on some clothes. I calmly, mentally repeated to myself that seeing my former high school principal naked was no big deal, but I was actually flipping out mentally.
Tsunade, without any shame whatsoever, sauntered across the room and into the walk in closet. When I heard the closet door shut, I turned back to Jiriya who motioned me into the room. I entered and took a seat in one of the arm-chairs facing the TV that I had last seen in the family room, apparently it had been moved since my last visit. When Jiriya took a seat across from me and looked at me expectantly, I spoke. "You are aware that I spent the night, yes?" He nodded. "Well, at approximately seven A.M., Naruto had a nightmare that he said he hadn't had since I left. He told me it was just because he missed me that he had this reoccurring nightmare, but somehow I think he's hiding something from me. I want to know what that is."
Jiriya sighed and scratched the back of his head. "See, Sasuke, I'd love to tell you, but it's not my information to tell. If Naruto wants to tell you, he will." I glared. "I wouldn't be so arrogant as to expect him to tell you right off the bat, though. It's been less than twenty-four hours since you guys saw each other again, it's not like you could be as close as you were back when." What Jiriya told me did not lessen my curiosity about the matter, but if it took time for Naruto to tell me whatever it was, I was prepared to wait. I never gave up if I set my sights on something.
"Hn." I stood and headed for the door.
"Sasuke." I paused to look back, only to find it was Tsunade, now fully clothed and sitting on the edge of the bed, that had spoken. "Interrogating Naruto won't change anything. Give him time. He'll tell you when he thinks the time is right." I nodded and made my way out of the room and down the hallway to Naruto's room where I changed back into my formal attire.
I carried my shoes down the stairs and set them by my suit jacket, coat, and scarf. Naruto had come into the entrance room and was sitting on one of the couches, sipping the remainder of his coffee.
"What took you so long?" He asked me, chuckling. I slipped my shoes on and tightened the laces. I didn't reply to his question, but saw him sigh and put his coffee mug down on the table before him. He then stood and told me, "I'm gonna need my car keys and a shirt, I'll be right back." He then bounded up the stairs and into his room.
I slipped on my suit jacket because I saw it snowing outside. I wouldn't want it to get wet and need dry cleaning. I stood, holding my coat over my arm, by the door until Naruto returned. He returned swiftly still wearing his pajama pants, but now dawning a black long-sleeve shirt and socks. I stepped to the side, out of the way of the door and coat rack, so Naruto could slip on some shoes and a coat. I pulled on my coat as we exited the house. The fleece on the inside warmed both my heart and my body, but left my mask in tact. I climbed into Naruto's orange lamborghini at the same time he did and strapped myself in. Naruto did the same and started the engine. We didn't speak until we had exited his subdivision.
"So..." Naruto spoke first, obvious uncomfortable in the silence. I, on the other hand, was perfectly fine with the lack of conversation inside the vehicle. It was almost comforting. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
I shot him a skeptical glance, which he didn't see. I turned back to looking out at the snow-covered streets of Tokyo. "No," I answered stoically. Why did everyone expect me to have a girlfriend? All girls that wanted to date me were whiny, annoying bitches. Take Ino for example. Enough said.
"Why not?" Ugh not this again.
"I haven't the time to dedicate to finding a girl that does not whine, bitch, annoy me, stalk me, constantly stare at me, or only want to date me for the sex." Naruto looked a little taken aback by my response, but it was to be expected.
"Wow, is any girl good enough for you, teme?" Naruto swerved the car around a corner and I silently wished I had left at dawn without waking him up. I made a mental note never to let him drive again.
"Perhaps," I answered calmly. "And you, dobe? Found an unfortunate girl to date?"
"Ha ha. Very funny," he fake laughed sarcastically. "But no. I dated Hinata a few years back, but it just went on and on and we didn't go anywhere, so we ended up breaking up. Been single ever since." When I made no move to reply, Naruto continued talking. "She was the one who dared me to get these." He pointed to the whisker tattoos on his cheek. "It was just a dare to get a tattoo somewhere hidden, but when Sakura suggested these, I couldn't pass them up." I failed to reply again and the conversation died off.
Within a half an hour or so, Naruto parked in an available spot near my apartment building. I had been so lucky as to get an apartment in the same building as the one I had in high school when I went to college, so Naruto knew where it was. When I moved to climb out of the car, Naruto grabbed my forearm. I turned toward him to find his electric blue eyes boring into me. "Sasuke, keep in touch. You promised you would." So he remembered that. "I'll call you later and we can hang out, okay?" I nodded and exited the car.
It was freezing cold outside and I made my way inside as quickly as I could. It only took me a few minutes to reach my apartment and enter my warm sanctum.
I wanted to call Sakura to ask her the same thing I had asked Jiriya earlier that day, but first things first. I needed a shower.
(1) Go here for a picture of the tree: www dot s-araki dot com slash IMG0012 dot jpg . These are commonly planted along streets in Tokyo. They are called Flowering Dogwood or Hanamizuki.
(2) You have no idea how often that happens to me. o.o;;
(3) For those who don't know, Japanese high school starts at grade 10, not 9, and is only three years long. So when they were all 16 they would be first years in high school.
Kind of a lame ending, I know, but this is the longest chapter I've written of anything ever so I kinda was wanting to find a way to end it quicker... I skirted around the things I wanted to put into this chapter and even left a "next scene?" at the end of my plan for it thinking it'd need to be longer. But then it ended up being 7,000 words and I'm like woah! I guess I should stop here. Most of this chapter wrote itself, it wasn't forced like some chapters can be for stories. I rather liked Sasuke and Naruto's reunion because it wasn't like most reunions where all you do is keep up the awkward small talk for the evening then don't really talk until days or weeks later, and it wasn't completely cliché, although it had its moments.
If you liked the chapter, please review! Your opinions are always much appreciated and inspire me to write more of a fanfiction!