Welcome to the SEQUEL of "Stay." If you have not read "Stay" then please go to my profile and click on the eleven chapter story that preludes this story.
Other than that... welcome back! As most of you are aware... my updates don't come regularly. You may be waiting for a month because... I have a busy life and not that much time to devote to writing fanfiction. But I like it... so I keep it up when I can. I try to update AT LEAST once or twice a month and sometimes you'll get lucky and I'll stay up until four in the morning three nights and a row and you'll get three chapters in three days. I make no promises. However, I will assure you that I never drop a fanfic. I will write until the very end and never end it abruptly.
Also... reviews help me update faster, this is no lie. They are good motivation for faster updates. Please review, flames are welcome because they inspire feelings of superiority, arrogance and mockery within me. Yes I'm a bitch and I'm full of myself, and degrading others is fun (but only others who deserve it). Reviews, flames, it's all welcome because it will evoke something in me that will probably urge me to write.
Warnings: GaaNaru, SasuNaru, homosexuality (as if that weren't obvious), course language, mature subject matter, OOCness (particularly in Gaara), AU (alternate universe... this is the modern world... Canada... east coast), and CHARACTER DEATH DUNDUNDA! (*bullet to the head* KIDDING!)
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Naruto's mind felt as though it had gone blank. He was perpetually stunned. Never had someone asked him such a question and his reaction was apparently to revert to a blank slate with a gaping mouth and eyes that expressed bewildered dismay.
"Naruto?" The voice wasn't nearly as concerned as it was baffled by the current state of the blonde.
His name was being used as a tool to call him forth from his world of stillness but it wasn't working. His mind was barely getting over the numb confusion to really rework the words that had been offered him in the form of a proposition.
"Did you hear me?" The question was merely a precaution. It was obvious the other man had heard him, but the delayed response was now concerning.
Slowly, Naruto's body regained a semblance of control over his unresponsive mind and his head tilted in what appeared to be a nod.
"What do you think?" His boyfriend encouraged.
Think? Naruto wasn't particularly capable of that action at this moment. It seemed hysterical to think that anyone would be capable of such an extensively complicated action as thought after a question like that.
"Your dumb silence isn't very reassuring." The voice was slightly put off and offended, but Naruto honestly didn't know what to do in his current circumstance.
"Um..." The blonde sighed, gnawing at his lower lip in attempt to get a grasp on his situation. He replayed his boyfriend's words over in his head. "Would you like to move in together?" Gaara had asked him only seconds before. Naruto felt almost embarrassed that such a simple question would cause him to go into a near catatonic shock but that didn't make him any less comatose.
"I like my house." Was the only thing Naruto could offer. He had no idea what to say or do. Sure he loved Gaara. They had been dating for six months now and had come a long way in there relationship. Gaara continuously slept over at Naruto's house, even on work nights and then they would commute to school together and drive back to Naruto's house afterwords. They were an open couple everywhere they went and Naruto wasn't ashamed or embarrassed, nor did he give a damn what people thought of his homosexuality. He was out and he was happy.
Most of the teachers at school were aware that they were a couple, some people weren't particularly supportive but those were the teachers that didn't really matter. All of Naruto's close friends among the faculty were accepting and glad to see that Naruto was happy and no longer faking his smiles like he had done for nearly a year before. Iruka was glad and accepting as always. He even took Naruto out back and attempted to "share" some information about how they should go about certain things. But that wasn't necessary, Naruto already knew those things. He had to explain to Iruka that he'd been in gay relationships since university. It was interesting to "learn" Iruka's sexual orientation, as he'd had strong suspicions for quite a few years now. It was a long lunch hour that day and as they both had free periods following that day, they used the normal working opportunity to continue their discussion.
That was a difficult day for Naruto. He finally confessed to Iruka, his mentor and his friend, that he'd had an affair with a married man and that was the reason he was broken all those months ago. He cried and Iruka was there as his shoulder. Naruto was lucky to have such a good friend. He didn't judge Naruto, he was only concerned for his well being. Iruka was a true friend along with being a great role model.
"You don't want to move in with me?"
Naruto stared into Gaara's unreadable eyes. He knew that Gaara wasn't happy with this, he was disappointed, but it was hard to tell anything else. Gaara was so difficult to understand in serious circumstances because he put up this front to keep things from getting personal. That's how he was in everyday life when he wasn't with Naruto. Whenever they were together in a comfortable atmosphere, Gaara was flirtatious and teasing... he could drive Naruto wild by simply looking at him or caressing his palm. Right now, unfortunately, was not one of those times. Naruto wasn't giving him a desired response, thus making this intensely serious and Gaara wouldn't feel comfortable risking emotion.
"Well... It's not that exactly. I mean..." Naruto stumbled through his words. He'd never had to deal with this. Commitment was something he strove for earlier in his life, but that was from someone else, not him. He always thought of himself to be someone who committed like crazy. He dedicated his life to Sasuke but in essence... he really didn't. He only dedicated every Friday night with him and then complained about how he didn't have Sasuke in the rest of his life. He didn't have to necessarily give things up or compromise for Sasuke, nothing was asked of him. Except of course to keep a massive secret. But now he had Gaara. He loved being with him and he loved the way their relationship worked. Moving in, however, was an entirely different situation. Naruto wouldn't have his space, whatever that meant. They already worked in the same building all day, did they really have to sleep, eat and bath in the same building every day? Not to mention Naruto liked this house, he had inherited it from his grandmother. He didn't want to move.
"I don't want to move." He added suddenly. He knew he'd said that he'd liked his house already but maybe, if he gave more detail, Gaara would give up. "It's my grandmother's home. There's sentimental value."
"Naruto," Gaara sighed, looking him straight in the eyes with those guarded orbs, "I'm not saying you have to move out."
Naruto narrowed his eyes, slightly confused.
"I already spend more time here than I do in my own apartment." Gaara edged on, adding yet another hint to Naruto's pile.
It took the blonde a moment before he looked down, blinking frequently, before glancing back up and giving the redhead a questioning stare. "You want to move in here?"
"Yes." Any normal person would have sighed and laughed at how long it took Naruto to get it, but Gaara was perfectly monotone about his answer.
Naruto bit his lower lip. The idea of Gaara moving into his home felt wild and unjust. Something that had no precedence even though Naruto knew that was a perfectly reasonable option for couples to conclude. To him it simply felt, awkward and out of place.
"Gaara... I don't know if I'm ready for that." For once he answered honestly without beating around the bush. He really wasn't sure if he was ready to make that kind of commitment. He still had baggage and getting into something that serious so sudden intimidated and damn near terrified him.
Naruto could see a brief glimpse of disappointment on Gaara's face but that was soon replaced by a soft, understanding expression.
Naruto sighed inwardly in relief. He was glad Gaara wasn't angry or upset with him. He could tolerate disappointment, as that was normal, but he didn't want him to be mad.
"Will you think about it?"
His feeling of relief dissipated. "Yeah, I'll think about it." Naruto gave him a small smile before leaning in to kiss his boyfriend but Gaara moved back and placed a hand on Naruto's shoulder.
"I think you should continue what you were doing before I got here." The redhead motioned to the piles of papers on his coffee table.
Naruto glanced over to the stacks of high school essays with a deeply disgusted frown. Over half of them may have been read and graded but that didn't make the task any less tedious or boring. Nor did it seem a suitable replacement for making out with his boyfriend.
"But Gaara!" Naruto whined, turning back to face the redhead with his signature puppy dog eyes. "Wouldn't you rather do something else?" He added with one of his sexiest pouts.
Gaara smirked as he gazed into Naruto's eyes. "You're right, there is something I want to do." He breathed huskily, leaning in closer so that the blonde could feel his hot breath caressing his lips.
Naruto's lower lip quivered in anticipation and his eyes fell closed out of impulse as he instinctively moved forward, desperately reaching for those tender lips.
Just as he could feel Gaara's lower lip graze his own, the redhead pulled away abruptly saying, "I would really like a shower. You'll be done these when I get out, right?"
Naruto's eyes shot open, a heavy glare already in set as he glowered after his boyfriend who was rushing away from the couch and towards the bathroom.
"Jerk!" He mumbled, pouting out of disappointment as his boyfriend he disappeared down the hallway before turning to the work on his table. Naruto huffed angrily, glaring at the papers with full force but was interrupted by his boyfriend's calling voice.
"Stop trying to set them on fire with your mind and get to work!"
Naruto grumbled at how well Gaara had learned his work ethics. First attempt to burn them with your eyes, if that fails... find a lighter and tell the students there was small accident involving a stove and give them all A's. Of course, that didn't work the first time Naruto had tried it so it wouldn't work now.
"Fine... I'll grade the lousy papers." He muttered, hoping for a sudden miracle that would make all of these papers epically fantastic so he wouldn't have to use his red pen.
"So what movie do you wanna see?" Kiba asked after he and Naruto were served their bowls of ramen. Naruto had called him a few hours earlier to see if he was free tonight. Of course he was, since his dating spree was going downhill, so they agreed to meet at Ichiraku Ramen before they headed to the movies.
"Karate Kid looks good." Naruto suggested before inhaling the ramen noodles as he normally did.
"I don't know... karate is kind of lame. I've always liked ninja movies better."
"Yeah but it's Will Smith's kid. If he's anything like his father he's gonna turn out to be an amazing actor."
Kiba rose his eyebrow suspiciously. "You just want to support Will Smith because you think he's hot."
"I don't think he's hot." Naruto denied before a playful look crossed his face. "I think he's the sexiest man alive. There's a difference."
Kiba chuckled and rolled his eyes. "You know Will Smith isn't going to be in it."
"But he might be!"
"Fine. We'll go see the stupid karate movie."
"Yes! It'll be good. Besides, you like Jackie Chan." As Naruto said this he titled the bowl up to his lips and drank down the leftover contents of the bowl.
"Yeah I guess." Kiba shrugged. "So what is Gaara up to tonight that you're not hanging out with him?"
Naruto averted his eyes and his smile faded. "We're... well I think we're having a fight."
"You think you're having a fight?" Kiba would have been more confused if he didn't know Naruto as well as he did. Technically the boy never had a real, functional, relationship before.
"I'm not sure. He asked me something and I... well I didn't give him the answer he wanted. He's kind of disappointed and said that he'd give me some space and time to think about it."
Kiba's eyebrows furrowed in concern. He could tell that Naruto was trying to avoid telling him what it was about because it was obvious something that unnerved him. "What did he ask you?"
"Nothing to be concerned about."
"Naruto, it's not something trivial. I can tell. Just tell me what he asked."
"He um... he wants to..." Naruto sighed and bit his lip before he blurted, "He wants to move in with me."
"That's all?" Kiba asked before slurping up some noodles.
"You're not as surprised as I'd thought you'd be." He was honestly surprised that Kiba asked the question so nonchalantly. This was a big deal, and Kiba should understand that, especially considering Naruto's past.
"What's the big deal? People move in with each other all the time."
"That's other people... normal people. Generally straight people."
"So suddenly gay people can't live together? You're not very informed of what's now acceptable for the gay community, are you?"
This simply earned the brunet a deep glare.
"You know I'm kidding. I know all the gays get updated pamphlets on this kind of stuff."
Naruto's eyebrow twitched in irritation as the glower deepened, if that was possible. Kiba could have sworn Naruto's bright blue eyes turned pure black for a moment.
"Okay... no more gay jokes for you."
"Kiba this is serious."
"Naruto, it's only serious because you're making it serious. It's only living together. It's sort of like having a roommate only in a much bigger space."
"My house isn't that big." Naruto grumbled.
"Well it's no Summers' residence but I'm sure you could fit at least two people in without a problem." (1)
"It's not a space thing... it's a commitment thing." Naruto stressed in a hush voice.
"Where's the problem. You've been pretty committed and he practically lives there anyway. Not to mention, if he's around, I won't have to babysit you all the time."
Naruto gave him a flat, unimpressed look, "Thanks a lot."
"I'm kidding!" Kiba threw back his head out of amusement combined with his growing frustration. "You know I'll always be there for ya."
Naruto sighed and nodded, lowering his gaze to his empty ramen bowl.
"Look man. Everything's up to you. If you're not ready, you're not ready, and Gaara will just have to understand that."
The blonde nodded, giving his friend a thankful smile.
"But you need to figure out why you're not ready because I know you don't know. You may say you're just scared of commitment but there's more to it. So find out."
Naruto sighed and bit his lower lip. He hated it when Kiba made perfect, logical sense. If he wasn't simply afraid of commitment... then what was it that he was afraid of? He needed to find out what was holding him back to truly be fair to Gaara.
"Okay... so it was a good movie." Kiba begrudgingly admitted as they exited the theatre.
"See! I told you! It was awesome... for a kid Jaden Smith is in really great shape. I would never have been able to fight like that at his age. He's what 12 or 13?"
"Yeah probably. I don't think any kids are really able to do that unless they treat it like a life style." Kiba agreed, throwing his empty popcorn bag into the garbage. "Strange that a lot of people would actually do that as a living, but it looks like fun."
"Yeah definitely." The blonde nodded before drinking the rest of his super sized bottle of pop and tossing it into the same trashcan that Kiba had placed his popcorn into.
"I think the jacket parts were my favorite! Especially with his mother." Kiba laughed as he said this and Naruto chuckled as he recalled a hilarious part of the movie.
"I don't think I've ever seen Jackie Chan that terrified!"
They both laughed as they leaned against a table, waiting there until the crowd dispersed. It was always crazy at the end of these kind of movies. People rushing for the doors, others hanging around in the worst possible places. The lobby was crowded and uncomfortable. So naturally, Naruto and Kiba chose to hang back, out of the way, and wait for everything to calm down.
Naruto was going to comment on another part of the movie that he particularly favored when someone bumped into him, throwing him off balance.
"Hey!" The blonde cried out as he stumbled forward, almost falling into Kiba's arms.
"I'm sorry!" The perpetrator apologized hurriedly, causing Naruto to freeze up and steady himself.
However, it wasn't the apology that brought him to a catatonic state. Without even seeing his face, Naruto knew instantly who it was. That was a voice Naruto would never be able to erase from his memory, no matter how hard he tried.
Forcing himself not to gape, Naruto turned around to face the man he hadn't seen in five months.
Instantly the raven's face was devoid of color, as if he wasn't pale enough already. "Naruto... I'm sorry-"
"It's okay," Naruto brushed off with a breezy smile. "Accidents happen."
"Yeah, I just tripped and... how are you doing?" Sasuke was clearly flustered and had no idea how to handle this situation.
Naruto gave him a sweet smile and exhaled in a sigh, "I'm good. I'm doing good. How are you?"
Sasuke nodded sombrely, "That's great. I'm doing good."
"Yeah, that's good." Naruto smiled at how awkward this conversation was. He'd never talked to Sasuke like this and certainly not in this type of environment. He could only guess what Kiba felt like, standing off to the side, behind Naruto. Although, to be perfectly frank, Kiba wasn't particularly high on his priority list at the moment.
"How is um..." Sasuke gave a quick, cautionary glance to Kiba, "how is-"
"He's good." Naruto interrupted him. It was awkward enough as it was, Naruto didn't need Sasuke stumbling over asking about how the man Naruto chose over him was doing.
"Great." Sasuke smiled but Naruto could tell his was repressing the sentence, 'so you're still with him?'
"What did you see?" Naruto asked him, hoping a change of subject would be less unnerving and strained.
"Oh, the A-Team." Sasuke seemed surprised at the question but also appeared glad to have a different topic.
"Nice. I want to see that. We saw Karate Kid."
"That looks good. Still a fan of Will Smith then?" Sasuke asked, a sly smirk creeping up on his lips. It was obvious he remembered Naruto's little obsession with this actor. Of course, it couldn't be too easy to forget with Naruto's collection of every movie he was in, including the full seasons to "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
Naruto bit his lip and laughed, "Yeah... still a fan. He wasn't in it though, except a couple pictures in the credits."
Sasuke chuckled at how disappointed Naruto had sounded. "Only you would go to that movie in hopes to see Will Smith."
Naruto blushed and gave a humored sigh. For the first time since they started talking, Naruto dared to glance up at Sasuke's eyes and found they were locked on him. It sent chills down his spine at how those dark orbs could drill do deeply into him. They felt intimidating yet alluring at the same time, Naruto could scarcely breath.
"That's exactly what I told him." Kiba chimed in, breaking the intense connection between the two ex-lovers' eyes.
"He's just too easy to read." Sasuke commented, staring Kiba straight in the eyes. He wasn't upfront about it and he barely even expressed it, but Naruto could tell he wasn't impressed about Kiba's timing. It was in his eyes and in the slightest changes in his composure that Naruto had learned to notice over the time he spent with him.
Even though Naruto was disappointed, and a little irritated, at Kiba's interruption, he was also rather glad the intense moment had been put to rest. Naruto couldn't let himself get carried away.
"Yeah, he really is." Kiba replied. Naruto could tell that Sasuke thought the brunet was oblivious to what had partaken between him and the blonde, but Naruto knew otherwise. Kiba also had little quirks that Naruto had learned to pick up on. Kiba had interrupted for a reason. He was being that over-protective friend again.
"Uchiha, ready?" Naruto's attention was immediately brought to an older man who had walked up to the raven haired. The man had a beautiful head of silver hair but despite its color, Naruto could tell he wasn't even in his forties yet by his well-toned, young face. He was probably the same age as Iruka. He felt a strange, annoyed chill rush through him when the silver haired man placed his hand firmly on Sasuke's shoulder.
Sasuke turned and nodded. "Yeah. I'm ready." He turned back to Naruto with a solemn smile on his face. "It was good to see you again after so long.
Naruto returned the smile, "Yeah... you too."
As Sasuke and his older friend passed them, Sasuke reached out and gently, subtly, ran his hand up Naruto's arm. Naruto refused to turn around to see the raven's expression after doing that and kept his eyes forward, ignoring the strong gaze of the silver haired man as he walked by. Once he was sure they were gone, he could tell by the relief of tension in the air, he let out a long, exhausted sigh.
"You okay?" Kiba was immediately by his side now, concerned eyes trained on him.
"That was... unexpected." He mumbled.
Kiba nodded, "Yeah I didn't think his type went out to see movies."
Naruto laughed at this, but only out of kindness and surprise. He knew that Sasuke watched movies. He'd never gone out to see one with him and whenever they had watched one at Naruto's house they never finished it, but he watched them. Despite everything, he was a normal guy.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Kiba asked, worry stressing his voice.
Naruto glanced up at him with confused eyes. "I don't know..."
Kiba let out a sigh, one of those sighs he gave back when Naruto was still waiting for Sasuke to leave his wife. "Naruto, you can't-"
"I know." Naruto cut him off. He was all too aware of his situation. "I know I can't. It's just... it's been so long since I've seen him. Not since... the day I told him... that I couldn't wait for him."
"I know," Kiba gripped his shoulder in understanding. His friend had been through a lot with Sasuke and had come out stronger because of it. But these times could always throw someone off balance.
"Do you think... do you think he's moved on?" Naruto regretted asking this the moment the words were out of his mouth. How could he be concerned or even curious that Sasuke might have moved on from Naruto and started dating an older man.
"That I don't know." Kiba's voice was honest and sure but it had a certain air about it that disapproved of this question.
"Yeah. Well," Naruto breathed in and exhaled quickly, gathering himself up. "At least he looks like he's doing good."
"Yeah, half a year and he still seems like a prick."
Naruto smiled and genuinely laughed, smacking his friend on the arm. "You're horrible."
"Yeah well, I never did get to have my closure with the guy."
Naruto furrowed his eyebrows at the comment, it sounded strange coming from Kiba's mouth yet it didn't at the same time. It was true that Kiba had gone through a lot of torment because of Sasuke all the same. Only Naruto got to confront, forgive and forget. Kiba never had the chance and he still felt an incredible amount of disdain for the man.
"Guess not." Naruto laughed. "Just don't take a fist to him the next time you want to get that closure." He knew what Kiba was like. That's the exact same way he got closure with a guy who stole his girlfriend back in high school and the same kind of closure he got with a guy who damn near ran over his dog. Naruto couldn't begin to think what Kiba would have done if the guy had actually run over Akamaru.
"Yeah, yeah. I'll think about it." Kiba smirked.
Naruto rolled his eyes before glancing around and seeing that the theatre was pretty much empty. "Shall we get going?"
Kiba noticed how lonely the lobby had gotten as well. "I suppose I should get you back. Don't want Gaara suspecting nothin'."
Naruto knew Kiba meant no harm by those words but he felt his blood run cold for just a moment before he warmed it up with a light joke. "Oh I'm sure Gaara will believe that my standards fell to mutt."
"Oh har-har. I'm hot and you know it." Kiba stuck his tongue out.
"Of course you are. Bloody gorgeous, top of your breed." He snickered as Kiba punched him playfully in the shoulder, ushering the blonde out the doors.
"See ya later, dude!" Kiba called from the car as Naruto walked to his front door.
"Later!" The blonde called back as his friend pulled out of the driveway.
Naruto reached n his pocket for the keys, unlocked the door and was safely inside before Kiba was even out of sight. The door closed behind him and he tossed the keys to the counter, let his jacket fall to the floor and he leaned back hard against the door.
Gingerly, his hand traveled up to his arm and he pressed firmly against the area Sasuke had touched him. So many things came flooding back to his mind from a single, brief touch.
Naruto banged his head back against the wood.
(1) Please tell me someone got the Buffy reference. Don't spoil things for other reviewers, just let me know you got it.