Open ended daydreaming
For shadoxphoenix143 as her late birthday present.
Notes: This is for you, Shadow, in return for the love you should me, your present on my birthday and a small gift to show that you're special to me. I avoid my birthday like the plague, but you have no idea how delighted I was a few days before my birthday when you messaged me Blueh's completed commission...
For all you've done for me, for all your love and your warmth, and above all, for being my friend, this is for you.
Naruto sighs when he sees the mess all around his house- asking Sasuke to babysit for Sakura's children is a potential disaster. He eyes the sulking frame at one side of the room- black eyes and dishevelled hair glaring daggers at the trembling kids at the other side, and Naruto knows his plan to keep everyone happy is a failure.
Sasuke glares at him too.
'Thank you, bastard,' he mouths back, unwilling to abuse his husband in the midst of innocent children; lest Sasuke's evil temper cause them to become like him, and that, Naruto notes quietly, would be a shame.
One Sasuke is quite enough for him to handle.
"Come," he greets the children cheerily, his happy demeanour taking away some of their fear. "Why are you standing backed against the walls?"
The children stare at him, then Sasuke, and then back at him. As one, they sob and throw themselves at him, "Uchiha-san was trying to take our frogs!"
Naruto glares at Sasuke.
His husband meets the glare evenly, as if challenging him to say something nasty so that they can have a fight.
"Why would he try to do that?" Naruto asks sweetly, his tone soft enough to appeal to a child's conscience, his blue eyes fixing them with a concerned stare.
And the children look down awkwardly. "We were trying to avoid lunch."
"Then Sasuke was quite right in asking you to give those to him- you needn't have worried over the fact that he would eat them- the big bad, scary Uchiha-san is scared of frogs, and wouldn't even touch them." He feels Sasuke's glare intensify on his back.
As if he has given them a key to victory, the children gape at him, open-mouthed. "Really?" they ask with feigned innocence and not a little mischievousness "Is he really afraid of frogs?"
Naruto, who sees the opportunity of letting the kids overwhelm his stone-like husband, agrees to their comment with gleeful vindictiveness and pretends not to notice as they rub hands with joy, delighted to find a way to torment the 'evil Uchiha-san'.
Sasuke's glare turns positively glacial, and he knows he has found himself a one-way ticket to the couch or worse, a door mat outside the house, and is rather pleased to say that the thought amuses him. For all his cold blooded meanness, Sasuke cannot go without touching him, having lived alone all his life makes him an easy receptacle for touch, and Naruto knows Sasuke craves him like no other.
Besides, time away from him would mean he could go to the dance club like he promised Shikamaru a few days back and attend the 'depressed husbands' party as the only beacon of shining light, with no problems in his martial life. Sasuke can't get pregnant anyway, so there is little danger of being denied sex.
'Enjoy your time alone' is all that his grin implies, 'and keep the children happy or else Sakura will be mad,' and he leaves his fuming husband to deal with a group of revenge happy children who wave croaking frogs at his face.
He isn't lying about Sasuke being afraid of frogs. It's not fear as much as deeply ingrained phobia, and he has seen him physically recoil from seeing them, even in zoos, which is the expression he currently has on his face, as if begging to be spared and dying to skin Naruto alive.
Laughter bubbles up in his throat as he spies the children trying to force him into kissing the frog, bulbous eyes popping out at being held so tightly, and Sasuke trying his best to scramble away from them, and his expression of fear makes him want to tape it and put it up for posterity.
Brown-red eyes glare at him, promising payback, and Naruto gleefully gives him the finger.
A terrified Sasuke slides down and stares at the frog placed on his knee, blinking at the same rate he is, and puffing out its slimy throat while taking in air, and Sasuke's eyes continue to widen in terror. Only his damned Uchiha pride keeping him from screaming and bolting like a girl, while the children pull out ribbons and try to tie up his hair.
Uchiha pride, Naruto muses, is also the only reason why Sasuke is so damn possessive of him, even though he states it at as no one staking claim at his belonging, Naruto knows it is deeper.
It's not pride, but rather frightened love, and his husband is scared that one day Naruto will ditch him for someone who can be all that Naruto wants, or worse, ditch him for a woman that he cannot be, and holds him tight to himself like a scared child.
Naruto knows his feelings and appreciates them, while he harbours the same for Sasuke, it's not of the same degree. Ever since Sasuke started to love him- he has only had eyes and ears for him, never even considering anyone else, while Naruto...isn't that picky. He chooses to look at all, and even compliment the beautiful ones, a fact that makes Sasuke angry and causes him undeniable pain.
He sighs, snaps a picture of a Sasuke with hair spiked up and tied up like a girl, his expression of absolute mind numbing terror a picture to pass on to the psychology department in the hospital Sakura works in, and snickers to himself.
The brief sound makes Sasuke look up at him, and even though there is anger and retribution in his eyes, Naruto spots selfless affection and desire, and the thought quite shuts him up.
He closes his own eyes, laughs at Sasuke and leaves, not wanting to see the barely concealed misery in his husband's eyes, as Sasuke realises that his affection has gone to waste, again.
Naruto knows it'll spark into anger any way.
It's not as if he doesn't love Sasuke- he does, but whether he loves him as a lover or as a friend, is pretty much the problem for him. They've been together for so long- Sasuke spent two years of high school and four years of college as his boyfriend and lover, always making do with hesitant affection because Naruto was never sure whether his love for Sasuke was romantic or not.
He still isn't.
Their marriage, is more of a marriage of convenience for Naruto, but it is very special to Sasuke, he knows it. For Sasuke, it's the accumulation of all his 10 years of loving a moron who hasn't still decided whether he loves him or not.
Yet, moron or not, Sasuke has never been able to get over him.
In all their times together, Naruto doesn't stop Sasuke's advances, be it friendly or otherwise; because Sasuke's touch just feels right to him, and he's always had mixed feelings for him, sometimes for affectionate than friendly, and sometimes not. While Sasuke doesn't complain about them at all, contenting himself with what he has, he has seen pain in his eyes when Naruto drifts away from him into something else.
Sasuke loves him, and deeply at that. And he faces the worst part of unrequited love- having the lover he wants to spend his life with, but the said lover is never sure if he loves him back. It's a ambivalent scenario, and hope is all that he has, to stay in a relationship in which he isn't sure whether his love is welcome or not.
Naruto thinks about it, daily. Because, most of the time, what he does is somehow contradictory to what Sasuke wants, and it either makes him positively furious, or anguished, and Naruto doesn't like to see either emotion in his husband's beautiful black eyes.
But he doesn't know what do either.
Rapping on the door a few days later after the frog incident, smelling of alcohol, perfume and for some indistinct reason, Gaara, Naruto finds it locked from within.
"Sasuke! Open up!"
More knocks, harder this time.
Fear grips at his insides. What did he do? Did something happen to Sasuke?
"Sasuke! Sasuke, answer me! Are you alright?"
There is no answer, and some part of him grows cold.
He hears soft footsteps, and the door slipping open. He opens his mouth to rail at him, only to be surprised by a glaring Neji. Words dry up in his mouth.
"So? Now you decide to show up?"
Neji's tone, and the open hostility in his voice shocks him. "What..."
"Spare me your theatrics. Tell me Naruto, have you not realised what today is?"
A vice like grip of ice clutches his heart. Fishing out his phone, he checks the calendar.
Only to stop dead.
Today is Sasuke's birthday.
He raises fear-stricken eyes at Neji, who sneers at him.
"So, your husband's birthday is only so important that it can be carried around as a calendar entry that you will forget as soon as possible, and not something to remember in your mind?"
Naruto has no answers for him. The magnanimity of his offence crashes over him, and he starts to make a leeway for his bedroom.
They live in an apartment. Even when Sasuke is rich enough to buy six mansions and still have enough money to pave the mansion over with gold, he still acquiesces enough to stay with Naruto in the small 3 bedroom apartment he brought for himself, so that his husband does not feel inadequate enough to feel bad for not being able to keep up with the Uchiha heritage.
Sasuke loves him enough to sacrifice everything for him. Even while working as the CEO of Uchiha Corporation along with Itachi, Sasuke never makes any allusions to being better, richer and in general high above him. He does his best to be a normal boyfriend to a normal citizen, and leaves behind his Uchiha life the moment he steps out of his office to go home to Naruto.
Tears sparkle at the edge of his eyes.
He tries to make his way to Sasuke's room, but Neji steps in front of him, and blocks his way. "Naruto."
He glares at him. Sasuke needs him right now and he's not going to let Neji stop him while his husband is hurting.
"Naruto. Wait. Do you understand what you are doing to Sasuke? Even if you rush to him now, are you sure you will be able to undo the damage you've done today?"
He pauses, struck.
Neji takes the opportunity to press the case on Naruto's head. "Sasuke came home early today, Naruto. He came home so that he could spend his birthday with you." Grabbing his wrist, Neji drags Naruto with him to their quaint dining room, and Naruto's eyes almost bog out in surprise.
The table has been redecorated. Sasuke has changed everything- the table cloth, the plates, the decor, everything. The table has been laid out for a feast for two, a bowl of white chicken pasta, cooked to perfection and now cold, a bowl of ramen for him, covered with a plain dish with chopsticks on top, a big set of plates covering a simple dish of dumplings, steamed and ready to be eaten. Sasuke had gone to lengths to make something they all liked, and he knew his husband, for all his denial, conceded to eat it with him on occasions.
It was Sasuke's birthday, but Naruto doesn't feel like he's giving Sasuke a treat. It feels like Sasuke is treating him out instead. It's wrong, and he knows it.
Naruto feels guilt heaving itself atop him.
This is how he repays Sasuke's hopes- by spending a night out with his mates at a bar to celebrate a random occurrence of Chouji finally getting himself a new girl friend.
Neji stalks out calmly from behind the shell-shocked spouse, before voicing quietly, "This is not all. Sasuke waited for you till it was midnight. When you showed no signs of turning up, he requested for me to get him a few bottles of wine and proceeded to drink to wash his pain down- though after the first bottle he put away the rest and curled up on his bed, sending us all out of the house. His room is bolted, but he's been silent, and we're worried for him. That is why I stayed till you came, Naruto, so that I could show you what you've done to him."
There is no response from the blond. Naruto seems to be glued to the floor, his blue eyes taking in the scene unblinkingly, and with great detachment.
Neji snaps his fingers before him. "Naruto."
The blond nods disinterestedly, his eyes lingering painfully on the meal. There is guilt in them, but not love.
"Naruto." he proceeds to state what he has to- Naruto will listen to him. "Naruto. Why does Sasuke stay with you?"
Blue eyes, fiery and culpable, pin him down. "Because..." his voice trails away.
"You have nothing you can offer him. No money, no status, nothing. Sasuke chose to marry you at a loss, since you give him nothing for all he gives you."
There is truth in that statement, and Naruto lowers his head.
"Do you think that the Uchiha let Sasuke marry you, even though they knew it was a futile endeavour? They've long been aware of the fact that Sasuke has been deeply in love with you. When Sasuke proposed the fact that you had asked him to marry you, there had been vehement protests. Itachi said that for all the love Sasuke would put into the relationship would only bounce back at him, since you would never figure out whether you want him or not- and the rest of the Uchiha, Mikoto and Fugaku were just as upset. Regardless of the fact that you would be nothing to them, Sasuke was setting himself up for heartbreak, because his dreams would fall."
Naruto's blue eyes rise to Neji, half frightened and half overwhelmed, Sasuke's doings pretty much forcing everything else out of his mind.
"Sasuke was adamant. He refused to marry anyone else but you, said he did not care if it hurt him more than he needed, since he had already been through it for 6 years. A few more may not make any difference, and he wanted to spend some part of his life totally belonging to you. Only at the threat of separation from the family did they agree to let him marry you, but Naruto, did you ever notice the turmoil those words caused him? the pain he went through because, each and every one of them are true?"
Naruto does not meet his gaze any more. Hands fisting into his trousers, there are slight tremors rising in his body, and Neji almost feels bad for him. Then he recovers, remembering Sasuke's broken expression as he realised that for all his hopes, Naruto was just not going to come to him.
There is a jerky nod, but nothing more.
"Sasuke loves you, Naruto. He loves you enough to sacrifice his own happiness for yours. He cares enough to make sure that every promise you make to someone else is fulfilled. Do you remember the time when you went with Shikamaru to the Metal Fusion concert? The back stage passes that Sasuke gave you were his own. His company, the Uchiha Corporation was the one sponsoring the event, and he had received those as a gift from the organisers. That very day you wanted to take Shikamaru along with you, instead of him. The Metal fusion concert was a concert that Sasuke was dearly looking forward to, because, three of his most coveted bands were coming to play, and he had wanted to attend it with you. Did you even stop to think how he felt when he handed over the couple passes to you to take your friend, instead of your husband, who had been dying to see this with you?"
There are no words, no movements from the frozen figure on the floor.
Neji ploughs on, anyway. Sasuke needs love, and Naruto needs to know just what his husband does for him.
"He saw the whole series alone, with a bowl of popcorn, on the TV, even when he could order a new pass for himself. His dream had pretty much shattered in front of his eyes, yet, I doubt he said anything to you the next day, apart from asking you how it was, which you told him-told everyone one in explicit detail, and he was just happy to see you smile and laugh. Even when it cost him so much. He may be a bastard; cold hearted, ruthless and calculative, but even with all that, Sasuke is not blind. He sees that you do not love him. Isn't that right?"
Naruto shakes his head once. Barely.
"For all that he gives you, Naruto, what do you give him back? He is one of the top businessmen in Japan, and one of the most influential economists on the planet, yet, he does everything you ask him to. He cooks for you, he cleans for you, and he even goes to shop for you. He looks after you, even when you go dancing in the night with friends and girls in bars, and do what you please with them, yet he accepts you and cares. You turn up drunk at his doorstep, and he takes you in, no questions asked, even when he knows you've been less than faithful to him. He relinquishes his happiness, just to see you smile, even if it comes at the cost of loyalty to him.
Just so you don't feel inferior to him in anyway, he doesn't boast or flaunt his wealth in front of you. Even when he can live like a king, he lives the way you do, so that there is no discrimination between the two of you. He tries to neither splurge out extravagantly, nor become meagre in his purchases- instead always taking something that is with yourmeans.
You know he has a phobia of frogs and doesn't like children, yet, if you ask him, he willingly babysits them for you.
What do you give him?
Do you manage to boost his rank in the society? Instead, on marrying you, his status has gone down. Do you help him with his company? You've always claimed that money handling is not for you, since you're a criminal lawyer. Do you help him with his chores, or his housework, which he could have consigned to various servants, but instead he does on his own? Instead, you go out and party with your clients, or you go out and party with your friends. Do you ever try to thank him? Or hug him and appreciate his effort in keeping the house running? Do you at least try to love him?"
Naruto has pretty much ceased movement, his eyes trained on him, and features white as a sheet.
Good, Neji thinks smugly, he is opening his eyes.
"Naruto, stop taking advantage of him. This marriage is basically a commodity- a expediency to you. But for Sasuke it's something different all together. It's a life with someone he loves, and that someone, doesn't even want to love him back. How do you think he feels? Everytime you exploit him, ask something of him and give him nothing in return? What are you doing to him, if not breaking him?
Don't do it, Naruto. Don't mix affection you feel for Sasuke and the affection Sasuke has for you. Both are as different as the sea and the sky, and you will excuse me if I proceed to state that for all the times you've called him 'bastard', he's also come off as incredibly noble to me, and in fact, right now, you are the bastard. Don't hurt him. Don't hurt him more than he can take, or else, you will break him. and once that happens, Sasuke will never return to what he was before."
He doesn't need to say any more.
Naruto spins around, and the very next second, he runs down the hall, screaming, "Sasuke! Sasuke, open up!"
For a few frustrating minutes, Neji hears him hammer and shout at the door, then, Sasuke opens it. And Naruto pushes himself inside, and all is quiet again.
He hopes that Naruto will be able to alleviate Sasuke's fears. Because Sasuke is so close to giving Naruto up, that he may not have a chance at all.
Naruto stares at his husband, who quietly makes his way back to the bed and draws his knees up to his chin, ignoring him.
"Sasuke-" he clambers on to the bad.
His husband lifts a hand. "I know. You don't have to apologize. I'm fine with it- you're busy-"
He doesn't let Sasuke continue the rest of his statement. Pressing him back, he whispers hoarsely, "I am sorry, Sasuke. I am, and for so many things..."
Sasuke places a finger at his lips. "Don't."
Sasuke closes his eyes in a brief gesture of resignation. "I'm sorry, Naruto. I forced my love upon you. I forced you to accept me. I forced you to be my lover, later my husband. It was all because I couldn't handle the fact that someone else would claim you over me."
Naruto watches him in disbelief.
"I'm sorry, that I forced you into accepting a marriage you didn't want. It was callous and cruel of me, and...i want to set you free so that you can be happy. I've talked to my lawyer. We can break this-"
Naruto doesn't let Sasuke persist any longer. Placing his arms around him, he draws him into a tight embrace, muffling the rest of his words. "Yeah, you forced all that on me."
Sasuke tenses in his arms. He tries to resist, but his resistance is slow and plaintive, as if he is grieving, and Sasuke doesn't put much force into his moves.
"But, I don't mind it at all. I don't mind you being my husband Sasuke, or my lover- anything! That is why, I'm going to reject this 'proposal' you're going to force on me."
Sasuke shakes his head. "It's not about mind. It's about...whether you want me..." his voice trails away as he looks down into nothingness, as if willing it to take him away.
Naruto's grip tightens. "I want you. I do want you, or why else would have I let myself remain married to you?"
Sasuke returns no answer, instead burying his face into his shoulder, a silent gesture that he has been waiting to carry out so long, yearning for this to come. For so long has he dreamed about Naruto's arms around him, holding him in a warm, loving embrace, that he has difficulty in discerning reality and dreams.
"I'm dreaming," is all that he mumbles.
"No, you are not," murmurs Naruto fiercely, and presses his head back. "I am holding you. And I'm sorry I haven't done it before. Tell me, Sasuke, do you want to be my husband?"
There is only a small nod from the form in his hands- Sasuke is still not convinced about this being real.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke," Naruto says softly, gently, against his ear. 'I'm sorry. I missed your birthday, while not paying any heed to the date or time. I know what I did was unforgivable, but please...please, forgive me. I'll make it up to you. In fact, I'll make it up to you tomorrow itself. We'll go fishing, you and I together, and we can catch lots of frogs and bring them back in jars."
"Now I know I'm not dreaming," Sasuke says wryly, "The Naruto in my dreams does not jabber like a moron. Haven't I told you I'm scared of that pathetic creature?"
Naruto squawks indignantly. "How can you hate frogs? They're so pretty! And bright!"
Sasuke smirks into his shoulder. "You're an idiot through and through. Frogs are rarely brightly coloured. Even after all your love for the, you are still unaware of this fact? Tch."
"See!" Naruto smiles triumphantly. "You DO like them!"
Sasuke smacks him over the head. "Do you have selective hearing? I said I'm scared of them. And just because I know about frogs doesn't mean I'm in love with them! Only to other frogs, frogs appear pretty."
Naruto grins evilly at him. 'Why are you married to a frog then?"
Sasuke fakes a faint. "Oh, I'm dying. In my pride, I misjudged and married a frog instead of a human. Now I'll have to kiss him. And I'm going to be blessed with a mockery of a prince." There is sarcasm in his words.
Naruto catches the hint. Pressing Sasuke's hair backwards, he reaches down and presses his lips slowly to his, causing Sasuke's eyes to widen in shock. The body in his arms tenses, then he relaxes and his eyes close, allowing Naruto to kiss him deeply.
Their kiss is passionate and restrained, as Sasuke slowly gains some part of Naruto's affection that he has been craving for so long.
Naruto accepts all the emotions that he feels from Sasuke in the kiss, all the love and all the desire, hoping to show him that he really doesn't have to give up on him- with a little more time- he's confident he can return Sasuke's feelings. He can feel his husband understand the underlying message, and the thought makes him so happy, that he wants to crow in joy.
Parting for air, Naruto smirks at him. "Shazzam. I'm your prince. And I'm handsome!"
Sasuke looks him up and down, in one slow look. Then, he falls backwards, and starts to laugh uncontrollably, twitching.
"You-a prince- hahaha- and on top of that- My –haha- prince- you must be joking!"
"But I'm not!" Naruto's features draw into an indignant pout, which leaves Sasuke rolling all over again, helpless.
"I think, I'll take the frog back."
Naruto glares at him.
Sasuke sobers up slowly, and drawing him down to his level on the bed, he states softly, "But, you are right. For nearly eleven years, you've been my prince, the only one I've had eyes for."
There is passion in his eyes, and Sasuke's s waiting for him to break it. Prove it that this is all a dream and that his love for him is just a game for Naruto.
He sees Sasuke exposing every part of himself and leaving it at his feet, requesting him to accept him, and Naruto feels overwhelmed- this beautiful, powerful, rich man has left everything and everyone behind for him, even people who were truly desirable and valuable assets. He chose him above all others and stuck to him every instance of his life- and Naruto feels that it's time he shows him that he appreciates it.
Closing his eyes, he leans down to gently kiss his brow, then his lips, and he feels Sasuke jerk in surprise.
The figure in his hands is unbelieving of his fortune, but he relaxes slowly when Naruto persists with his tentative kiss, accepting it as real.
Sasuke returns the kiss with equal passion, and for a few minutes, he feels as if his heart is going to burst with joy. He smiles gently into the kiss, unable to stop himself.
Separating, he allows Naruto to push him down on the bed and cuddle up with him, even when his pride screams otherwise that Uchiha DO NOT cuddle, and he cannot remove his head from Naruto's shoulder. It simply belong there, in the arms of the person he loves.
"Sasuke, I'm sorr-"
He cuts Naruto off, not needing to hear his apology. "I understand. You're forgiven, you don't have to apologize to me, even if you smell of wine, women...and Gaara."
Naruto only laughs sheepishly at that, but in Sasuke's eyes, he only looks more irresistible.
"Just don't forget the next time. Or else..."
His only reply is Naruto's arms tightening around him, his embrace growing more loving.
Reaching up, he kisses Naruto's forehead, murmuring softly, "I love you Naruto." He awaits the nervous laughter and the hesitant subject change, awaiting the pain to assault him, when Naruto looks up at him with determined, impassioned eyes.
"I like you too, Sasuke. A lot."
Eyes widening in distrust, he watches him quietly, before a wry smile graces his lips. He presses his face into his shoulder, and his voice is muffled. "It's not what I was expecting, but it's not what I wanted either...but it is close to it. For now, till you figure out your feelings for me, it's enough."
He feels Naruto nod against his neck. "It might take me only a little more time to be able to say I love you back to you, Sasuke, I think I just need to clarify one thing..." there is amusement in his tone, "Just why do I hold you precious to me."
And, Sasuke smiles.
Outside the door, Neji watches the two husbands curl up contentedly, ignoring the open door, and smirks to himself.
Sasuke is never going to be alone again; or find himself wanting for Naruto's love.
Because, Naruto is going to show it to him.
Because Sasuke is singularly the most loved person that Naruto has.