Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.
This is a giftfic for Hanakage, based on her prompt for kittens. Hopefully I managed it alright for you! I've rewritten it about five times or something, gah, it just didn't want to co-operate. *hugs*
Now for the warnings: NaruSasuNaru, aka the homosexual relationship of Sasuke and Naruto with no definition of who is 'on top'. That said, this story is about their emotional relationship, so if you're here for smut I'm afraid you're in the wrong place for this fic. Additional warning for language and, uh, a little bit of angst. (I have no idea where the angst came from. Forgive me, Hanakage!)
By Nanaki Lioness
Sasuke spent a lot of time idly wondering why on earth he even allowed that stupid blond moron of a boyfriend into his house to visit, let alone why he had agreed for him to move in. Sometimes he didn't even want to be on the same planet or breathe the same air in case he suddenly came down with a case of the Ridiculously Stupid ailment clearly afflicting his boyfriend.
Right now was one of those times.
"Sasuke, it's a kitten!" Naruto was protesting, putting the small gray ball of fluff on their kitchen counter worktop. Sasuke held a hand up to knock it on the floor before realising that would mean touching it. "It's not going to hurt you."
"We have to make food on that counter," he said dryly instead. "Get it off."
Naruto was already heading back out into the hallway to the box he'd brought in with him- one that he had forbid Sasuke looking at. Sasuke pretended he didn't care of course, but when the kitten had made an appearance in Naruto's excited hands he suddenly cared very much indeed.
It was only a kitten- small and inoffensive, yet Sasuke glared at it like it had just poisoned him. Kittens were not welcome in his home. Animals in general were not welcome in his home. Naruto wasn't going to be welcome in the home either if he was bringing in what Sasuke thought he was...
"Look, two more," Naruto was saying as he walked back into the kitchen, this time with two more sorry looking dark balls of fur. He put them on the counter as well and turned to Sasuke, flashing him his best grin. It took all of Sasuke's restraint to not kill him on the spot.
That was all Sasuke could articulate. He wanted a more detailed explanation but he knew with such a lacking starting point, he wouldn't get it.
"The pet store," Naruto replied cheerily, as though he was talking about the weather and not the introduction of living creatures into Sasuke's home that were clearly unwanted. "I couldn't resist."
"You should have."
"Oh don't be like that," Naruto pouted, picking one up and stroking it gently. "They're so cute! Hello there little guy!"
"They'd be cuter in a bag down a well," Sasuke muttered, stomping out of the kitchen and slamming a door somewhere in the house. Naruto winced as he heard it but shrugged and shook it off, turning back to his trio of kittens.
"He'll get over it," he told them. "Sasuke's like that."
It was two hours before Sasuke finally emerged from the bedroom, throwing himself down in a chair across from Naruto in the living room and folding his arms.
"You should have asked," he finally snapped when he'd grated his teeth enough to ache his jaw. "You don't just bring... Animals into my home and expect me to be alright with it."
"It's my home too," Naruto reminded him- and it was. Sasuke had (presumably in a fit of hysteria or the like) invited Naruto to share his living space only a few months ago. Naruto hadn't moved in overnight- his toothbrush had been first, followed by his hairbrush but he himself hadn't quite followed yet.
"But..." Sasuke threw his hands up, still unable to bring himself to speak coherently. "Kittens," he finally managed. "They're kittens."
"Yes," Naruto nodded with the patience of a saint. "Kittens, Sasuke. With fur and whiskers and everything."
"You take them away tomorrow and we pretend they were never here," Sasuke reasoned. "Got it?"
Naruto looked affronted at the very suggestion. "No! I'm not doing that. You'll just have to get used to it."
Sasuke fell quiet, scowling down at the kittens that were on the floor in front of them. They stared back, apparently not too concerned about the sharpness of his eyes and the murderous intent in his gaze. One mewed softly.
Sasuke exhaled, putting a hand to his face and running it up and into his hair. His boyfriend was the biggest moron he had ever met and he had no qualms about telling him so.
"Hey!" Naruto protested. "It's not my fault you aren't the most compassionate person."
"I'd rather screw you," Naruto replied cheekily, giving him a sly grin. He was met with Sasuke's pillow to his face as Sasuke flung it across at him in a badly concealed rage. Naruto simply stared impassively, waiting for him to sit down and regain his control of his temper.
When Naruto deemed it safe, he spoke once more. "They're here to stay," he declared. "So get used to it. They might want to come and sit on your lap from time to time- just let them, it might help melt your cold bastard heart some."
"I don't let you sit in my lap," Sasuke pointed out. "Why would I let one of those?"
"Because they are kittens!" Naruto replied, exasperated. "Really, you've got to be the only person in the world who can look at something as cute as a baby cat and think negatively."
"I'm not the first to come up with the idea of drowning them, Naruto."
It was Naruto's turn to throw a pillow at Sasuke, looking offended as he did so. "That's awful! You're awful!"
"You're a fucking idiot!"
"You're protesting because I bought us pets! Cute pets!"
"Without asking me first!"
"...they're a surprise gift?"
"I don't think so."
Naruto glared at Sasuke, breaking the gaze half a minute or so later when he realised Sasuke would quite happily shoot daggers at him all night if necessary. "They stay."
"Then I go."
"Oh, don't be melodramatic Sasuke!"
Naruto found himself banished to the couch that evening much to his disdain following their argument. Sasuke had even locked the bedroom door just in case he tried to sneak in at night, proving what a bastard he could be when he was in a temper.
He shifted for the hundredth time on his temporary bed before launching the cushions on the floor and lying on them there instead. He doubted he'd get much sleep but it was certainly worth a try in a manner that wasn't going to make him ache in the morning.
Something soft and fluffy nudged up against his hand and he wearily opened his eyes, training them to a set of bright golden ones.
"Hello," he murmured to the kitten. "Shouldn't you be asleep?"
The kitten gave his hand another nudge before jumping up onto his chest, pawing at him gently.
"Watch those claws," Naruto warned.
The kitten was warm and he put a hand on its back slowly, taking it in. Sasuke was the idiot here- he had no idea what he was missing out on. He imagined Sasuke's sharp voice retorting that he was missing out on being clawed and having to de-fur all his clothes, causing him to smile slightly.
He was drifting in and out of sleep when he heard someone pad softly into the room and sit down in the chair behind him. He didn't even open his eyes- if Sasuke wanted to talk, it could wait until the morning.
"I know you're awake."
Naruto didn't respond, pretending to be asleep in the hope he'd go away.
"Stop acting like you're asleep, I just said I know you're not."
Sasuke sounded impatient- nothing new, but Naruto was still annoyed with him so he closed his eyes tighter and refused to look at him.
"Naruto! Talk, would you?"
Naruto finally turned his head to look at his boyfriend, careful not to disturb the now-sleeping kitten on his chest. He couldn't see more than his silhouette in the badly lit room, but he could see his dark eyes looking at him imploringly.
"You're ready to have an actual conversation like an adult?" Naruto bit at him. He was unwilling to let Sasuke's attitude go without being noted.
Surprisingly, the retort he expected to come did not. Instead Sasuke stood and walked over to him, kneeling on the floor and slowly lifting the kitten off of his boyfriend's chest. He held it at a full arm's length and put it on the floor, brushing his hands together afterwards awkwardly.
"I had a goldfish when I was younger," he said, his voice as soft as the kitten he had just touched. "I managed to kill it because I forgot about it."
Naruto narrowed his eyes, surprised at the admittance but happy with Sasuke bearing a part of his soul for him. He didn't do it often but when he did, he usually had something important to say.
"My parents told me I could have one if I looked after it, and that they wouldn't be checking on it at all. It was completely my responsibility."
"How old were you?"
Sasuke shrugged. "Eight?"
"You were just a kid then," Naruto told him bluntly. "Kids make stupid mistakes all the time."
"There's a mistake and there's killing a living creature, Naruto."
"You didn't do it in purpose though?"
"Of course not!"
"You're not a kid anymore," Naruto pointed out. "Kittens are nothing like goldfish, you know. If they're hungry they'll tell you all about it so you can't really forget to feed them. All a fish can do is swim around in a bowl and hope you come to it."
"No," Sasuke sighed, clearly exasperated. "That isn't what I mean."
Naruto quieted, sitting up and studying Sasuke closely under the moonlight flitting through the window. He could see him better now he was closer, but he couldn't make out the expression on his face. Sasuke was literate and smart, yet when it came to expressing how he felt he became suddenly inarticulate. He rapidly lost his patience if Naruto didn't understand what he was trying to say but in Naruto's defence, most of the time whatever he'd tried to explain had come out confusing.
"Then what?" Naruto prompted.
"My parents told me I was irresponsible," Sasuke eventually spoke after a lengthy pause. He didn't elaborate and Naruto neglected to mention technically he was, and there was nothing unusual about that scolding.
"Never mind," he eventually muttered, getting off of his knees. He paused in the living room doorway for a moment, glancing over his shoulder. "Come to bed."
Naruto gladly scurried off after him, glad that he was no longer banished from the comfortable bed and with it, his boyfriend's warm arms. Sasuke wasn't one to snuggle up but when he was asleep he certainly didn't complain about it.
The following morning Sasuke pretended they hadn't even spoken in the night, which came as no surprise to Naruto. He still didn't know quite what he had been trying to say but he had, at least, stopped crusading that the kittens needed to go. He had simply become passive aggressive about it instead.
"Stupid fucking cats," Naruto heard him mutter from the bedroom as he walked past, peeking his head round the door to find out what was going on.
Sasuke was frowning in disdain at some items of clothing he had laid out on the bed before heading off to shower. He whipped his head round to face Naruto, his wet hair flicking droplets of water around as he did so.
Naruto stepped into the room and removed the kitten sleeping on Sasuke's clothes with a sigh, putting it down on the floor. Sasuke regarded the clothes carefully, muttering something about hair as he stomped over to the wardrobe to find new ones.
Naruto picked them up and headed wordlessly out of the room, opening the kitchen drawer for a roll of sellotape. His boyfriend was such a drama whore sometimes.
By the time Sasuke had clomped back into the room dressed in new clothes and threatening to kick up a storm about the incident, Naruto was holding out his hair-free garments.
"Sellotape," he said simply. "It picks the hairs off without marking the clothes."
Sasuke snatched them back. "They're banned from the bedroom," he declared sharply before heading off again, almost falling over one that had decided to walk just behind him. He growled at it, steadying himself on the wall and trying to ignore Naruto's chuckling.
Once he was gone, Naruto sighed gently and swirled his coffee around in the mug he was holding. He had brought the kittens in to prove a point more than anything- that the house was as much his as it was Sasuke's. Sasuke had allowed him to officially move in but he had only moved the essentials and occasionally still slept at his own place. His rent was due shortly and he was unsure whether to pay it since he technically had another home.
He didn't feel welcome in it though. It was clearly Sasuke's home still, with small elements of Naruto that Sasuke attempted to hide. The only thing he didn't remove to a small corner of the bedroom was the bright orange toothbrush in the bathroom but Naruto wouldn't have found it surprising if even that ended up thrown hastily in a cupboard sometimes when it reminded Sasuke just a little too much of what they now were to each other.
Well, Naruto had thought, try and hide three inquisitive kittens you asshole.
They weren't pet store kittens at all. They were the litter of a friend who had wanted to find new homes for them- Naruto had set up a deal with him that he'd take all three just for a few days which his friend had agreed to, albeit with a little confusion.
He got up and scooped up the gray one that had nearly tripped Sasuke over, heading into the bedroom. Sasuke was seated on the windowsill, studying the front garden intently and ignoring Naruto's entry.
"Oi," Naruto called, stepping across to him. "Catch."
He held the kitten above Sasuke's lap and let it go, not high enough to be of any distress but enough that Sasuke would instinctively put his arms out. At least, that was what Naruto suspected. Sasuke simply looked up at him, one eyebrow raised as the kitten landed in his lap.
"Take it away," Sasuke asked evenly.
Naruto seated himself on the large bay windowsill as well, shaking his head stubbornly. "Not until we've talked. What were you trying to say last night?"
Sasuke's eyes widened just slightly before he covered it well and glared instead. There was one unspoken rule about their partnership- Sasuke was the only one who was allowed to initiate talks about feelings and all that other stuff he detested to think about.
"Nothing," he replied, glancing down at the kitten. It was purring, rubbing its head on his leg contently. He gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to push it on the floor for its insolence.
"The goldfish," Naruto tried again. "Your goldfish- the one you killed. Your parents were right, that was irresponsible."
"Naruto..." Sasuke growled at him, unsure of what the hell he was getting at and wanting him to make the point very quickly.
"But," Naruto continued. "Kids do that kind of thing. Sometimes they make mistakes and sometimes they can be pretty huge suckers, like killing a pet or really hurting someone in a fight when you didn't mean to. When I was a kid my Dad was always taking me to hospital because I did some really dumb shit to myself- I mean, I sprayed deodorant in my eye once, how stupid is that?"
Sasuke didn't respond, not even giving him a weak smile or a chuckle. He was, however, clearly listening to whatever Naruto was trying to say.
"But you know, if you don't make mistakes you can never learn," Naruto told him quietly. "And no-one is perfect, not you or me or our parents or anyone."
Sasuke regarded him carefully for a moment before finally speaking. "They punished me for it," he replied, his voice low. "They warned me it would be my responsibility and I failed to maintain that."
"Punished?" Naruto echoed, concerned for a moment. Sasuke's parents were nice enough, if a little strict with Sasuke at times, but he couldn't imagine them doing anything that might have scarred Sasuke so horribly he couldn't bear to even be in the same house as an animal.
"They wouldn't let me get rid of it when it died," Sasuke replied after a moment, his voice oddly tense. "They wanted to remind me what I'd done."
"Fucking hell," Naruto breathed, everything finally slotting into place. "So they made you keep a dead fish in your room to teach you to be more responsible?"
"Something like that," Sasuke shrugged awkwardly. "Of course, after forgetting about it I couldn't stop thinking about it. I kept looking at it and hoping it would come back to life so I could forget my mistake, but of course it didn't happen."
Naruto listened, morbidly captivated by what he was being told. He could see the logic behind his parent's decision but holy shit it was pretty brutal. It might teach responsibility but it wouldn't necessarily do great things to Sasuke's psyche either, which it clearly hadn't.
"What happened to it?" He found himself asking.
"It started-" Sasuke cut himself off, turning back to the window. He finally gently shoved the kitten off of his lap, bringing his knees up to his chest instead. "It began to decompose," he tried again, and Naruto saw the sharp flash of pain in his eyes.
"Didn't you ask them to get rid of it?!" Naruto cried out, appalled. "What the hell, Sasuke!"
"I never once asked," Sasuke replied, shaking his head. "The day it happened and they told me that was what they wanted me to do, I made it clear I didn't want that to happen. So they explained that getting rid of it would be the same as erasing the mistake, and they wanted to be sure I would never make the same mistake again."
"Did you feel guilty for forgetting about it?"
"Of course I did."
"Well, surely that was your lesson learned then?"
Sasuke exhaled, running a hand through his hair. He looked disturbed, Naruto realised, though he certainly couldn't blame him.
The kitten Sasuke had evicted had padded over to make itself comfortable in Naruto's lap instead, which Naruto gladly let it do. He put one hand on its back and kept his eyes on Sasuke, waiting for him to continue in his own time.
"I was an irresponsible kid in general," he eventually spoke, his tone bitter. "I think they were fed up with it."
"Almost all kids are irresponsible," Naruto pointed out. "Don't try and justify it, Sasuke, I know you love them and all but that was pretty fucked up of them."
Sasuke glared across at him and he instantly quieted- they both knew Naruto was right, but that didn't mean Sasuke wanted to be told that.
"So what happened to it in the end?" Naruto asked. "I imagine it's not still there, right?"
"No," Sasuke shook his head. "Eventually I flushed the damn thing down the toilet. It was giving me nightmares."
Naruto grinned at that. "You should have done that in the first place."
"I was too obedient," Sasuke explained simply. "They were satisfied I learnt my lesson though."
They lapsed into silence, which was eventually broken by Sasuke sliding off of the windowsill and quietly leaving the room. Naruto didn't pursue him, still mulling over what he had found out. He stroked the kitten in his lap gently and felt marginally guilty- a simple trick to try to get Sasuke to face the glaring problem of their residency had forced his boyfriend to face another demon instead.
"How many skeletons are in your damn closet?" He muttered to himself, tickling the kitten behind the ears. It purred and pushed against his hands, content with the interaction.
When he left the bedroom an hour or so later in search of Sasuke, he didn't expect to find him lying in the middle of the living room floor. He frowned and leant against the doorframe, blinking a couple of times.
...Lying in the middle of the living room floor on his side, playing with one of the kittens, in fact. Naruto blinked again, not quite sure what to make of this development.
"Hey," he called, gaining a small glance and a nod in return. "They're pretty cute, huh?"
"No," Sasuke bit back, but he still continued to run his hand along the floor to entice the kitten to jump around after it. It was the first one Naruto had brought in, small and gray with white tipped ears.
"We can keep that one if you like," he spoke, finally gaining Sasuke's full attention. "They were never meant to stay."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes in confusion, watching as Naruto sat down on the floor next to him looking sheepish.
"Don't be angry, okay?" He asked, unable to meet Sasuke's eye.
"I hate it when you say that. That means I should be angry."
Naruto shook his head rapidly. "Well... I'm borrowing them. I wanted to prove a point and ask a question at the same time."
"I don't feel like I really live here," Naruto told him after a short pause. "You hide all my stuff in the bedroom in the corner and I always feel like I'm just visiting. You don't say anything when I go back to my place some nights- you act like that's normal."
"What does you bringing in kittens have to do with this?"
"I'm getting there," Naruto protested, poking him in the side. "You hide everything and I knew you couldn't hide real, living creatures in the same way. I wanted you to face up to the fact I'm here to stay and that you invited me to do so."
"I know that," Sasuke pointed out. "You're the one who hasn't moved all your stuff in yet."
"I told you, you've hidden all my other stuff away so I always felt like you'd asked me because you felt you should, not because you wanted it."
Sasuke stared at him for a moment before pulling himself up into a sitting position, eyes unreadable. "I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want it. I did think we'd fight a lot more, though."
"Well yeah," Naruto shrugged. "We both knew that."
He curled himself up into Sasuke's side- surprisingly, he didn't get pushed away. Perhaps their earlier conversation had softened him a bit- Naruto didn't know, but he wasn't going to argue.
"I know they aren't fish and all but I think I know what you were trying to say," he eventually spoke, feeling Sasuke stiffen as he did so. "The whole fish incident scarred you and you couldn't face allowing yourself to keep another pet, no matter what they were?"
"You're observant today," Sasuke replied flatly, but underneath the sarcasm was the answer. Naruto was spot on.
"Well, you don't get a choice," Naruto told him cheekily, knowing that Sasuke playing with the kitten earlier meant he had won this war. Sasuke would face his demons and Naruto was victorious. "We'll keep this one and I'll give my friend the other two back. It would be nice to keep all three but I'm not sure we'd have any time for each other if we did that."
"We'd have more time if you spent more time here," Sasuke responded casually, but it wasn't a casual note at all. It was a clear request- I do want you here. I want you to move in properly this time.
"We have time right now," Naruto pointed out, purring almost like the kitten next to them as he ran a hand up Sasuke's chest. Sasuke grabbed his wrist as it reached his shoulder, twisting it. Naruto howled and pulled it away, holding onto it and fixing Sasuke with an affronted frown. "What the fuck did you do that for?!"
"We have an audience," Sasuke replied simply, pointing to the gray kitten that was attempting to climb over his legs. Naruto sighed and reached out to grab hold of the kitten but Sasuke stopped him, shaking his head.
"Leave it," Sasuke explained after a moment, not meeting Naruto's eye. His cheeks were slightly crimson as he spoke, earning a chuckle from Naruto as he watched his boyfriend reach out and put a tentative hand on its back. He felt proud of Sasuke and also of himself- he'd managed to successfully approach and help to start mending two issues Sasuke had, including one he didn't know existed. That had to be some kind of record.
He reached out and picked the kitten up, putting it in Sasuke's lap once more. Sasuke didn't flinch this time, looking down at it hesitantly while Naruto looked on. They could get to the make-up sex later, he decided. Sasuke with a kitten in his lap was something he just couldn't pass up.
Author's Note: Two pieces in as many days- I'm on a roll here! I hope you enjoyed :)