Rated: R (just barely)
Comments: A Tinder side story--although it's really more like a missing scene lol. Takes place between the end of chapter 6 and the epilogue.
Summary: Naruto and Sasuke aren't very good at settling down. But they eventually figure it out.
The house was silent. On any other day, Sasuke would revel in the peace and take the opportunity to meditate without the chance of Mikoto sneaking up behind him to point and giggle, or breaking his concentration by having a one-sided argument with Juzou at the top of her lungs, or Saizo sitting down next to him to mimic his pose only to fall asleep ten minutes later because even though Saizo was a prodigy, he was also an eight year old boy.
But Sasuke had grown uncomfortable with silences lately. The week away from Konoha had been filled with angry silences, mostly from Saizo. It was only recently that Saizo had begun to speak to him again, in that hesitant, grudging way that translated into 'I'm angry with you, but I love you too, and I don't want you to hate me for being angry.' Saizo's fears were unfounded, and Sasuke had told him so.
Still, things were stilted. They needed time to mend, and Sasuke was well familiar with the ways in which time did and did not heal broken families. This had been a rift of his own making, and Sasuke would not regret it. The children were with their mother now, helping her settle into her new home.
He sat on the steps to his backyard, watching the way the wind made the ropes in his artificial jungle sway. A moment later, Naruto was crouched atop the fence.
Sasuke wanted to look away, go inside, and shut the door. He glared at him instead. "What do you want?"
Naruto hopped down, feet silent as he crossed the stretch of grass. "Same question."
Sasuke scowled. Last time, that 'same question' had lead to them beating each other unconscious and ending up in the hospital with an irate Sakura. He had no desire to repeat the experience so he held his temper in check.
"Why?" Naruto asked. His face twisted into remorse as he looked around the empty backyard, as if imagining the ghosts of Sasuke's children training at their posts and Kosuke bent over her vegetable garden.
"I told you. My marriage was a matter of convenience. There was no longer any reason for us to remain together."
Naruto's hands were shaking at his sides. "You are such a bastard."
Sasuke assumed the only reason Naruto hadn't tried to punch him yet was because he, too, didn't want a repeat of their last fight. "Don't presume to understand my relationship with Kosuke," Sasuke said. "You don't know a thing."
"Then try me," Naruto said.
The two of them glared wordlessly at each other for several tense seconds, before Naruto deflated. He dropped down beside Sasuke on the stairs with a dramatic sigh.
Sasuke had never told anyone before about the circumstances leading to his marriage. Naruto had asked, certainly, but Sasuke had never felt inclined to tell him. It was none of Naruto's business. It still wasn't, but... Naruto had been so angry that morning he'd returned to find Sasuke had left Kosuke. Sasuke could recall only one other time Naruto had been so furious with him, and that had been well before Sasuke's return to the village.
With only a brief hesitation, Sasuke said, "I saved her."
Naruto looked up, one eyebrow hitched. "What?"
"Kosuke," Sasuke said. "Her parents were killed by thieves. She was hiding beneath the stairs. They set her house on fire. I was nearby, and I heard her screaming."
Naruto's bemusement transformed into a frown, the grave set of his mouth indication that he understood Sasuke wasn't telling him this just to fill the silence.
"She didn't have anywhere to go, so... I offered her my name." Sasuke looked down, letting his hair shield his face from Naruto's searching eyes. "I needed heirs. She needed a family. I made sure she understood that love wouldn't be factor. She said she'd just met me; she didn't care about love. It was a good arrangement."
He could practically hear Naruto's mind processing the information. He said, "Sasuke... Look, it was good of you to... to offer her a family. But you can't just take it away now that you're done making babies."
"I've hardly taken them away. She's free to see them as often as she likes."
"That's not the point!" Naruto stood, as if towering over Sasuke like a big, blond idiot would help his argument. "She was your wife for eight years. Did you honestly think she wouldn't grow to love you?"
Sasuke closed his eyes and said, "Whether she did or not is irrelevant."
Naruto made a strangled, choking sound as he was fighting back another verbal explosion. When he seemed to have gotten himself back under control, he took a steadying breath and said, "You had a chance to be happy, Sasuke. I was trying to fix things for you, and... and you blew it."
Sasuke tilted his head to look up at him, expression cool. "Do you regret that your chance is now over?"
He almost regretted his words when the hurt flickered over Naruto's face. Then Naruto set his jaw and sat back down, eyes averted. "Yes," he said, voice quiet. "Because I hurt Hinata."
Sasuke's lips tightened. He adjusted the sleeve of his yukata and wondered if Naruto would ever try to marry again.
"And no," Naruto said. Sasuke looked up at him. "Because... it's you." He sighed, lashes fluttering shut for a moment before fixing Sasuke with that intense blue stare. "But it doesn't matter now. I gave you an out, and all you did while I was gone was make it worse."
"My time with Kosuke was over. Leaving her was simply how it was always meant to end."
Naruto rubbed a hand over his face. "You're a jerk, you know that, right?"
Sasuke didn't reply. Naruto asked a lot of rhetorical questions.
"So what now then?"
"Nothing has changed. My children and my job are my priorities."
Naruto said nothing to that, and they both lapsed into silence. What now, indeed. Despite Sasuke's words, everything had changed. His children were still confused and rightfully so. But what should he have done? Continued going through the motions of a marriage long past its purpose? By the time Juzou had been born, it had become little more than cohabitation. As he'd told Sakura, leaving Kosuke had not been for anyone's sakes but their own. Kosuke deserved the chance to be with someone who would love her.
As for Naruto, against all reason, how to deal with him was far more complicated. He could never look at Naruto again and not think about how his skin tasted, how the muscles in his stomach shifted beneath Sasuke's hands, the way his thighs tightened around Sasuke's hips, and the little hitch in his voice right before he came. If Sasuke didn't care so much about the moron, he would hate him for having started this.
He thought about that mission, months ago, where it had all began. They'd been lying on their backs beside the campfire, staring up into the black net of twining branches and the starlight just beyond. Sasuke couldn't even remember what they'd been talking about. What he did remember--would probably never forget--was the way Naruto had risen to one elbow and leaned over him, his hand braced in the dirt beside Sasuke's head so that he'd blocked Sasuke's view of the night sky.
Naruto had mumbled a garbled version of Sasuke's name, and then kissed him. Sasuke couldn't even say what had prompted Naruto to do such a thing, and he hadn't asked. He'd simply kissed back.
It had spiraled out of control so easily. Neither of them had been able to put an end to it, not this thing that was both new and familiar, something they had been straining towards for the better part of a decade without having ever realized it themselves. They had both seen their folly to the end. They were probably idiots for it, but Sasuke knew that they deserved nothing less than what their actions had wrought.
Naruto said, in that hushed tone, "So is this how we were meant to end?"
Sasuke gave him a blank look, uncertain of what Naruto was fishing for. "How would you answer that?"
With a sigh, Naruto said, "Jiraiya taught me that... we're all the writers of our own stories. And the end can never be determined until you've reached it, and even then... it's only the end if you make it so."
Sasuke couldn't help the smirk that twisted his mouth. "Wise for an old man who wrote porn."
Naruto smiled too, and something tightened in Sasuke's chest. "I... Sasuke." His smile faded, but there was a hopeful tilt to his brow. "I don't want this to be the end."
Sasuke ignored the fluttering in his stomach. What did Naruto want from him? The idiot had started this, had tried and failed to stop their affair from ruining them, and then he'd ended things before packing up and disappearing to Suna for weeks. Now this? What the hell did Naruto want?
"You broke up with me, remember?"
Naruto stiffened. Then his gaze fell away, lips quirking in what looked like resignation. "Yeah." He dragged a hand through his hair, scratching his scalp a few times before nodding. "Yeah. You know what, you're right. Forget--"
Sasuke kissed him. He hadn't quite thought it through, but he couldn't let Naruto finish that sentence. Sasuke had said a lot of things in his lifetime that he maybe should not have. And there were a great many more things Sasuke had not said that he maybe should have. This one time, especially this one time, he had to get it right.
Against Naruto's mouth, he whispered, "Don't... walk away. This isn't... this isn't the end. You and I..."
Naruto swallowed. Sasuke could feel his smile against his lips. "I like the sound of that," Naruto said, and kissed him back.
A moment later, Sasuke had Naruto flat against the floorboards of the porch, their legs trailing down the steps. Sasuke filled his hands with Naruto's hair, the line of his neck, his shoulders, anything he could touch. He fit their bodies together and kissed the moan from Naruto's lips.
Then Naruto's hands cupped his face and pushed him away. "Wait, wait wait."
Sasuke glared down at his flushed face. "What now?"
Naruto returned the look and said," If this is going to work, we have to do it right. You know... we'll... uh... take it by stages."
Sasuke quirked an eyebrow. "... Are you telling me you want me to court you?"
Naruto's face turned red, and he cuffed the side of Sasuke's head. Sasuke gave him a resentful look. "No, you jerk. I just mean we shouldn't jump right back into..."
Sasuke reached down and covered the bulge in Naruto's pants, squeezing once.
Naruto's face grew redder. He finished lamely, "Uh... sex."
"Sure that's what you want?" Sasuke molded his palm to Naruto's erection and rubbed him harder.
"I hate you," Naruto gasped, and arched into Sasuke's hand.
Sasuke smirked and kissed him deeply, sliding his tongue across the roof of Naruto's mouth. Naruto groaned, hands smoothing back from Sasuke's jaw to clutch at his hair.
When Sasuke drew back, Naruto dragged in a breath and said, "Promise me we'll do this right. I don't want to disappoint Sakura-chan again."
Sasuke nipped at Naruto's lip, just hard enough to sting. Naruto pinched him in retaliation. "Fine. Idiot. Now shut up."
Naruto wrapped his legs around Sasuke's waist and, thankfully, obeyed.
The End (for real this time)