Disclaimer: I feel like this is my lucky week. The week where I finally own Naruto. Or maybe that's next week.
Author's Note: Thanks to all the reviewers. There's a lot of Sasuke in this one, and a decent amount of Naruto too, so I hope you like it. This chapter was also my favorite chapter to write in a long time – I wonder if you guys could guess why. Anyway, on to the chapter before I get rambly…
This chapter is currently unbetaed.
Chapter Thirty-Nine: It's Not Personal, Just Business
Sasuke kissed down Naruto's bare chest, nipping at the tanned skin every few inches. When he reached the blonde's navel, he swiveled his tongue around the hole and dipped it in before pulling it back out. He looked up at Naruto, whose blue eyes were clouded with lust. He was panting heavily and his mouth was agape.
Sasuke gave a slight tug on Naruto's jeans, so the blond raised his hips. Sasuke unbuttoned the pants and slid them down Naruto's body, bringing his boxers down with them. His boyfriend was now delightfully naked, just waiting to be ravished.
Sasuke leaned back a bit and observed his boyfriend, drinking up the glorious sight. Naruto looked painfully hard, with misty precum leaking down the head of his cock. He gave Sasuke a pleading look, which made him look all the more cute. His gaze rose to Naruto's still-slick torso, glistening with Sasuke's saliva. The tan flesh ripped with each breath Naruto took.
"You're gorgeous," Sasuke breathed, leaning forward to cover Naruto's body with his own. He captured Naruto's mouth in a searing kiss, and he felt Naruto's hardness press against his thigh. After momentarily deepening the kiss, Sasuke pulled back and smirked down at the blond. "And you're all mine," he added.
"Sasuke," Naruto moaned as he ground his hips against Sasuke. "You're such a tease."
"Do you want something of me?" Sasuke asked as his hand began to caress Naruto's pubic hair. Naruto's cock throbbed, knowing Sasuke's hand was mere inches away. "Say it," he told the blond with a satisfied smirk.
Quick as a flash, Naruto flipped Sasuke over and gripped his wrists in his own hand. He held them above Sasuke's head triumphantly, and Sasuke unsuccessfully struggled. "I don't just want something of you." He whispered huskily. "I want everything."
"Then take me," Sasuke challenged, his eyes clouded over with lust. It seemed his words sparked something within Naruto. Before he knew it, he was fully declothed, bent down on the bed as Naruto thrust into him.
It wasn't often they did this, gave themselves completely to lust. Naruto was usually more of a sweet, soft, and slow kind of lover, but Sasuke welcomed Naruto's feral side. With each thrust, he felt closer and closer to orgasmic bliss. He couldn't even keep quiet anymore. Each time Naruto hit that bundle of nerves, he screamed out, neighbors be damned.
Sasuke didn't even have to touch himself to climax. He screamed especially loud as his orgasm wracked his body. He shuddered as he finished spurting his cum all over the sheets, but was greeted by the pulsing of Naruto's cock within him, as the blond spilled his seed into the condom. It wasn't their longest session of lovemaking, but it was by far one of the most satisfying – and that was saying something.
As they lay together, enjoying the afterglow, reality soon returned to Sasuke. A reality he didn't want to face. He still had to figure out what he wanted to do in the future, and he still had to figure out a way to reconcile with his mother after all they'd been through.
And an even bigger issue psychologically for Sasuke reared its head that morning, when he went on Facebook and saw whose birthday it was. He couldn't even remember his uncle's own birthday! He hadn't even thought of his uncle in months. That was a good thing, right? Sasuke was starting to let go of his guilt. But he felt even guiltier for forgetting.
As if the things he said before Madara's suicide weren't enough, he wasn't even mourning him. He was forgetting him.
"Sasuke?" Naruto asked from beside him. Sasuke let out a breath he hadn't even realized he was holding. "You feel tense," his boyfriend commented as he began to run circles in the Uchiha's back. "Is everything alright?"
"You were advised for next semester, right?" Sasuke asked, a part of him wondering what Naruto had chosen to major in. Surprisingly, he and Naruto had never had a discussion about the future. Naruto hummed his confirmation. "What did you decide to major as?"
"Well, at first I wanted to do pre-med, so I was going to major in chemistry," Naruto admitted. "I wanted to eventually become a psychiatrist, to help others like myself." He chuckled. "But then I figured it'd be a bit like the blind leading the blind, so I went with business instead."
"Why business?" Sasuke asked, turning around to look at his boyfriend in utter confusion. It was the last thing he'd expected Naruto to major in.
"Why not?" Naruto asked with a shrug and a smirk. "It's the most popular major in the school, and it has one of the best business programs in the nation. I might as well take advantage of that. And if I change my mind later, then I'll just go with whatever. It's not that big a deal." He paused for a moment. "What did you major as?"
"Nothing," Sasuke said, some bitterness in his voice that wasn't directed at Naruto, but rather his indecision. "Professor Gecko wanted me to major in Business until I figure out what I want to do. He signed me up for a few math classes and a few history classes just to waste time, but I don't want to do that."
"What do you want?" Naruto asked. Sasuke opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again. Naruto posed a good question: What did Sasuke want?
"You," Sasuke admitted. "I want to live a long life with you, and possibly start a family. But that's a long way off." He shifted in the bed. "I want things with my mother to get somewhere normal. I want to stop feeling guilty for Madara's death, and I want to get things back to normal." After a brief moment, he snorted. "I want Suigetsu to move out so I can have my room to myself again."
"But what else?" Naruto urged him. "You have to want to do something, right? You don't want to sit around doing nothing all day, do you?"
"No," Sasuke admitted. "But that doesn't make my decision any easier." He closed his eyes to let himself fall asleep with his boyfriend, but it seemed Naruto had another idea. He shifted in bed, before finally standing up and walking butt-naked to the computer desk near the door. Sasuke sighed and stood up, following him. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm dropping you from your classes," Naruto told him simply. Sasuke watched in horror as Naruto entered his student account.
"How did you get my password?" Sasuke asked, horrified.
" You're password is 'password'?" Naruto asked, an amused eyebrow quirked. "That's a rookie mistake." After a moment's stare from Sasuke, he crossed his arms. "I've never used the password anywhere except to get on your laptop," he said. He could hear Sasuke mutter under his breath, but he ignored him.
"Why are you dropping me from classes?" Sasuke asked incredulously. Naruto opened the web page with the registration information. Before he did anything, he swiveled around in his chair to face Sasuke.
"You're not wasting time and money to take classes you may or may not need in the future," Naruto said adamantly. "You're grades are good enough that you'll be able to re-enroll whenever you feel like it. Just spend at least a semester without school. You'll find something to do so that you don't drive yourself crazy. And then you'll figure out what you want to major in." Naruto smiled triumphantly, as if he'd figured out all of Sasuke's problems.
"No!" Sasuke insisted, panicked. He didn't know why, but he couldn't let Naruto do this. If he didn't have schoolwork, he'd legitimately go crazy. And he didn't enjoy Dr. Kishimoto's presence nearly enough for that. Besides, if he didn't have school, what did he have? It was the one thing that was always constant in life, the one thing that could get him out of bed every day. "Don't do that, Naruto."
Naruto gave him an odd look. "Is it really that important to stay in school, Sasuke?" he asked. "Now's the chance for you to explore yourself, figure out who you are. You don't need to be tied down by schoolwork. Why waste all this time working towards some degree that you don't want?"
"It's not your choice, Naruto," Sasuke said, making himself sound less panicked and more authoritative. "If I want to stay in school, I'm perfectly entitled." Naruto rolled his eyes, but clicked the browser closed anyway.
"You're so difficult, Uchiha," Naruto muttered. "You don't want to pick a career path, but you don't want to not pick a career path."
"Please just don't push it," Sasuke asked, his confident tone receding. He was almost pleading now. "I'll just figure it out on my own somehow, don't worry."
"Fine," Naruto said with a shrug. "It's your life." After a moment, he spoke. "Speaking of living our own lives, I'm leaving in a few days, and I'll be gone for up to a week."
"Finally going to Uzushio?" Sasuke asked him, grateful the heat was off his own issues. Naruto nodded. "Do you want me to go with you?"
"I think I should do this on my own," Naruto said with a shake of his head. "He's my grandfather, and I think we have a lot to talk about."
"You're not going to chicken out this time, are you?" Sasuke teased. Naruto scowled; he hated being reminded of that.
There he was, all ready to leave, bags packed and everything. And all of a sudden, he started worrying. What if his uncle couldn't stand to look at him because he had been raped by his father? What if he rejected him because of his sexuality? What if his own grandfather hated him? It took Sasuke days to calm Naruto down, but he still hesitated to go.
But Sasuke was glad he was approaching this much more calmly. When Naruto finally did meet his grandfather, Sasuke was sure that things would work out. And if his grandfather did turn out to be the piece of shit that Naruto was nervous about, then Sasuke would be there for him. Always.
Suigetsu knocked on the door to the Hyuga mansion with much more confidence than he'd ever done before.
Neji was the one to answer it, thankfully. Suigetsu had tried to reach him multiple times in the last day to tell him about the new developments concerning Hyuga Corp. He had a calculated plan, and Neji played heavily into it.
"What do you want?" he asked Suigetsu. He didn't sound angry or annoyed, just tired.
"I'm here to speak to Hiashi," Suigetsu said, a small smirk playing on his lips. He knew Neji wouldn't ask why he was smiling like that, but he kind of wished he would.
"Fine," Neji said, stepping aside to let the light-haired teen through. "Although I can pretty much bet that he doesn't have anything to say to you."
"But I do have something to say," Suigetsu said, allowing his smirk to grow a little bit. He held on tighter to the manila folder tucked under his arm. "As a matter of fact, I want you to be there too, on one condition."
"What?" Neji asked exasperatedly. He certainly didn't have patience for Suigetsu right now, the other boy could tell.
"You want what's best for Hinata and our child, right?" he asked, his grin disappearing. This matter wasn't a joke.
"Of course," Neji said, sounding offended. "You know I never wanted any of this to happen."
"What would you do to fix it?" Suigetsu asked.
"I can't do anything to fix it, and neither can you."
"That's where you're wrong," Suigetsu said, allowing his grin to return. He motioned to the folder. "I have everything I need to fix it, and you can help me. As long as you don't mind going against your uncle."
"It's not wise to go against him," Neji said with trepidation in his voice.
"I have leverage," Suigetsu said, and Neji's eyes flicked to the folder in his arms. "After today, Hiashi will be my bitch." Neji quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Come to his office with me," Suigetsu said, nodding his head towards where Hiashi's office was in the mansion. Neji made a sweeping 'after you' motion, and Suigetsu walked through the foyer and down the second hallway with an unprecedented swagger.
He knocked twice on the door, and entered when he heard Hiashi's commanding voice telling him to. Neji followed him and closed the door behind them. He stood off to the side near Hiashi's desk, while Suigetsu took a seat across from the Hyuga patriarch.
"Suigetsu," Hiashi said, unable or unwilling to keep the distaste out of his voice. "What a…surprise. I wasn't aware we had any business together."
"Well, we do, as a matter of fact," Suigetsu said with a smirk. "It's been a while, Hiashi, but I do have a few requests of you." Hiashi narrowed his eyes at the use of his first name, but Suigetsu didn't falter.
"A few requests?" he asked. "I don't have time for this."
"Believe me, if you don't hear me out, I'll just have to go with plan B," Suigetsu said. Hiashi ignored him until the next statement. "Plan B involves the collapse of your empire, along with some probable jail time for you." Hiashi froze and then looked up at Suigetsu.
"Those are some big threats for such a small man." Suigetsu dropped the folder on the desk and pushed it towards Hiashi with a confident smirk.
"Don't even think of destroying that," he said triumphantly. "I have multiple copies stashed away, and an associate of mine has a copy to show to the media and the authorities should something untoward happen to me." Hiashi opened the folder and began to thumb through the papers, his glare intensifying every second.
"How did you find these?" he asked harshly.
"Find what?" Neji asked from the side. Suigetsu smirked and leaned back in his chair.
"Uncle was a naughty boy," Suigetsu said tauntingly. "He used Hyuga profits to invest in a certain company with mob ties, and that money went towards illegal human testing of an illegal drug." He looked to Neji. "He bankrolled Sasuke's uncle's mob company, and the drug that kept Mikoto Uchiha alive. I'm sure the people prosecuting the doctor behind these treatments would love to know how he financed the operation."
Neji was speechless, but Hiashi couldn't afford to be. "What do you want?"
"I want the same deal you offered me," Suigetsu said, leaning forward in his chair. "The tables have turned, Hiashi, and now I'm the one blackmailing you." He smirked. "Hinata will be invited to live back here, and her financial situation will return to what it was during the engagement. Our child will get the same trust fund it was supposed to get in the previous arrangement.
"My brother and I get to move back into our house," he continued. "You'll still pay for our college educations – just undergraduate, don't worry; I don't want to milk you dry. After a few years, when I deem appropriate, you will step down as CEO of Hyuga Corp. and appoint Neji and I as co-CEOs." Hiashi's gaze shifted to Neji.
"You're a part of this too?" he asked angrily.
"I had no idea what was going on," he told his uncle truthfully.
"He didn't," Suigetsu confirmed. "This is all my idea. I trust that Neji is better for our family's interest than you are," he told the Hyuga patriarch. He scowled at Suigetsu. He resented being blackmailed more than he resented paying the money. He had more than enough of that. But his pride was something he couldn't afford to let Suigetsu take so easily.
"Is that all?" Hiashi asked through gritted teeth.
"One more thing," he said, almost as an afterthought. "You have to put an end to trying to marry off Hinata and Neji. They are their own people and will make their own choices." After a moment, he remembered something very important. "Oh, and you can't touch Tsugi Technologies or their latest invention, the TsugiTab. Takashi Moguki has the same information I do, and his Plan A was my Plan B. Be grateful I love my child enough to not let his future get thrown to federal prosecutors and a media circus."
He could see that Hiashi was having a problem accepting this change in status from the blackmailer to the blackmailed, so Suigetsu gave him a genuine smile. "Don't worry, I'm not evil. I'll give you the same week to consider my offer that you gave me to consider yours a few months ago. Just call me and tell me whether or not you want to go to prison and lose all your money."
To finish off his power play, he looked at Neji and gave a jerk of his head towards the door. He left without being dismissed, Neji following him out the door.
Once in the hallway, Neji leaned his head against the wall.
"I can't believe you just did that," Neji said, astounded that someone actually had the balls and means to put his uncle in his place. He gave him a look. "You're not nearly as awful a person as I first thought."
"Thanks," Suigetsu said with a toothy grin. "If all goes well, then by next week, Hinata and I can stop mooching off the Uchihas, and I can quit my job next semester to go to school."
"You won," Neji told him. "Hiashi lives for his legacy. He values that more than his pride."
"I hope so," Suigetsu said with a shrug. "If I can't get what I want and need from him, then destroying him will be the next-best thing." Neji shook his head in disbelief, and as he watched Suigetsu leave the mansion, one thought rang through his head.
'Sometime in the near future, after I get my degree, I'm going to be the CEO.'
Sasuke had to admit that, despite his distaste for Dr. Kishimoto's therapy sessions, he seemed to have helped him and his mother with their issues. Sasuke telling Mikoto about Naruto's rape and his alcoholism – among other things – opened the floodgate, and it seemed to bring their relationship to a more mature level.
It took Mikoto a while to come to grips with the fact that her baby boy wasn't a baby boy anymore, but it happened, and things were a lot easier. There were still some issues in their relationship; she still didn't like the way that he and Naruto seemed to be always hooking up, but it was no longer about maturity. Instead, she argued that the depth of their relationship was being cheapened by the way they act like animals in heat.
It was an issue that, according to Dr. Kishimoto, they would both have to agree to disagree on. Mikoto couldn't stop Sasuke from being sexually active with his boyfriend, no more than Sasuke could stop her disapproval.
She was taking other things in stride, though.
A few days after their explosive therapy session, she scoured the house for booze, claiming that alcohol being hidden was just as bad as alcohol in the open if Sasuke stumbled across it. Suigetsu didn't appreciate his multiple hidden stashes being thrown away, but he didn't make a big deal of it. After all, he was still a guest.
In addition to making the house dry, she also did her best to be more amiable with Naruto. The first time she saw him afterwards, she pulled him into a tight hug, and Sasuke had to later explain that he told her all about his past. Sasuke politely asked her to not be so coddling when it came to him and to treat Naruto normally, and she did as asked.
When Sasuke drove, she no longer acted like they were going to die any minute. When Sasuke stayed out late, she no longer grilled him about where he was, who he was with, and what he was doing. When she voiced her opinions, she made it clear that they were her opinions, and didn't expect him to necessarily do as she said all the time.
Likewise, Sasuke stopped yelling as much. When they got into disagreements, it didn't always escalate into all-out fights. He was more patient with Mikoto when she didn't understand some novelty of the 21st Century, despite how long it took to explain mp3 players to her. Sasuke was confident that they were getting to a really good place.
Still, when she suggested he invite Naruto over for a family dinner, he couldn't help but be nervous.
The one thing he'd learned about his mother since she woke up was that she lost her filter when she spoke. Sometimes she would just say the first thing that came to mind, and then realize moments later that she said it out loud. She could get really embarrassing, still, and the last thing Sasuke wanted was an awkward dinner.
But he extended the invitation to Naruto anyway, despite his hesitations. Things were now so much better between him and his mom that he owed her the benefit of the doubt.
Itachi coming to see him was the first indication he had overestimated their progress.
His brother knocked on the open bedroom door twice, making Sasuke look up from his laptop. He had been trying to work on a paper, but was having a serious case of writer's block. "Can we talk?" Itachi asked him.
"I'm in the middle of something," Sasuke said shortly. "Can it wait?"
"I'd prefer to talk to you now," Itachi said. Sasuke gave one look at his computer and sighed. 'It's not like I was getting much done anyhow,' he thought to himself as he closed the computer. He swiveled his chair around to face his brother. "Mind if I sit?" he asked. Sasuke shook his head, so Itachi walked over and sat on the edge of Sasuke's bed.
"Mother and I were talking," Itachi began.
"About me," Sasuke surmised. His brother nodded.
"Yes, and we came to an agreement about something," Itachi said. Before Sasuke could ask what, he continued. "We think you should sell your stake in Mangekyo to me." It felt like a slap in the face to Sasuke.
"You don't trust me," he accused, narrowing his eyes.
"It's not that," Itachi said assuringly. "But why put the temptation in front of you when it would be easier to just stay away from it."
"What temptation?" Sasuke asked. "I haven't been to Mangekyo since we inherited it. We both agreed about it months ago. You'd handle on-site operations, and I'd just sit back."
"Why would you even want to own the bar?" Itachi asked.
"It's an income," Sasuke told Itachi. "We don't have to worry about money, but I don't have any job prospects in the future, as far as I'm aware. I don't even know what I'm going to be doing after college."
"Between what we got after Father and Mother were declared dead, and what we inherited from Uncle Madara, you'll never lack for money in your life," Itachi assured him. "I'm willing to give you a good value for your stake in the bar as well. You don't need an income."
"I don't care," Sasuke said, crossing his arms. "I'm not giving up my stake just because you and our mother don't trust me to be professional about it." He nodded his head towards the door. "You can leave, now."
Itachi sighed, but he complied. When he left and the door was shut behind him, Sasuke swiveled around in his chair. He opened his laptop again, but he couldn't focus on his paper now. He was still seeing red.
Why would they even think of telling him to sell his half of the bar? He'd done nothing to even suggest he would abuse the fact that he owned a bar. He was sober for months, now. He could barely remember the last time he had a drink, and assumed it must have been sometime last October, before he and Naruto started dating.
With hours left before dinner, Sasuke stood from his chair, grabbed his coat, and left the house, avoiding running into any other residents of the mansion on his way out.
When he finally got to his destination, he was pleased to find parking right outside. He didn't even care that he had to put two quarters into the parking meter to go to his own establishment. It had been a while since he'd been there, but not much had changed.
When he opened the door, it was like going back in time. Danzo was still standing behind the bar, pouring a drink for one of the patrons. Suigetsu was a few feet away, cleaning a few glasses. Neither paid any attention to their alcoholic boss entering the bar.
Kisame did. Itachi's friend was sweeping up the floor near the back tables, and he was the only one actually facing the door. Sasuke didn't pay him any mind, and made his way over to the bar instead.
"Danzo," he greeted. The old man had worked for his uncle as long as Sasuke could remember. Danzo was certainly surprised to see Sasuke there, as was Suigetsu. When Sasuke spoke up, the light-haired teen looked up as well.
"What are you doing here?" Suigetsu asked him loudly, sounding almost scared. Sasuke couldn't blame him. Just standing so close to all the alcohol was making him question his sobriety.
"I want a key to the bar," he told Danzo, ignoring Suigetsu's question. "And the key to the office as well." After Madara died, he and Itachi decided to turn his small apartment upstairs into an office/staff room. Each of the employees had keys to the staff room, which was comprised of Madara's living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The bedroom was redesigned to be an office, which had a separate key.
"Are you sure that's wise?" Danzo asked him.
"I'm planning on taking a more active role in how this place is run," Sasuke informed him. Danzo and Suigetsu exchanged a questioning glance. "Is there a spare key for the office in the meantime?"
"I don't think Itachi would like you going into his office," Suigetsu commented.
"It's not just his office," Sasuke told him, starting to get angry again. Why did everyone insist on treating him like a child? He was an alcoholic who was asking to leave the bar and deal with the management issues. It made absolutely no sense to stop him.
Danzo sighed, but pulled a small key ring off his belt. There were five keys on it. "The gold one is for the office," he told Sasuke. The youngest Uchiha nodded his thanks and made his way upstairs.
The apartment changed a lot since Sasuke was last there. He hadn't been there since the day before Madara killed himself, back when it was a residence. The staff room was clean, with a sofa and a television neatly placed in the corner. The kitchen had been redesigned, and there was new carpet, drapes, and wallpaper all around. It seemed Sasuke wasn't the only one who wanted no reminder of Madara's old apartment.
He unlocked the office door and stepped inside, noting that Itachi had a good eye for decoration. It had a large, oak desk in the center, with a desktop computer in the middle. There were a few filing cabinets along one wall, and tasteful pictures on the walls. Sasuke closed the door behind him and walked around the desk, sitting in Itachi's leather chair.
He opened the first file on the desk, intent on educating himself on how the bar was running. It seemed to be a bunch of financial statements about an organization with the same name as the bar. He glanced through it a bit, but it didn't catch his attention much. He would ask Itachi about it later, though.
He put the file aside, and decided to look on the computer. He moved the mouse and the screen turned on, and Sasuke noticed that it was logged in to Itachi's e-mail. The e-mail that was queued up was from a name Sasuke didn't recognized, but as the subject line read "Mangekyo," he decided he had the right to take a peek.
I hope you enjoyed my file. Apparently, Tobi has had some dealings with the DA who handled Senju's case. Initial background checks on Tobi showed nothing major, but I'll dig deeper.
Sasuke's eyes caught a few names. Senju, the man who ran the illegal experiment on his mother, and Tobi, the mob boss who financed it. 'The file,' he thought, rereading the first line. He looked over at the Mangekyo Industries file. After flipping a few pages, he noticed the CEO's name on one of the financial statements.
Tsukyomi Tobi. His brows furrowed as he looked between the screen and the file. 'What kind of business is this, and why does Itachi care?'
He flipped through a few more pages, and he found something even more confusing. Back in the 90s, there was a large amount of money coming in from an offshore account, which was connected to Hyuga Corp. The gears in Sasuke's mind kept turning to try and figure out what all this meant, but he wasn't sure he even understood these papers right.
He returned to the computer and searched through Itachi's e-mail for more e-mails from this Yamato guy. Either the e-mail he saw was their first communication, or Itachi had deleted all previous e-mails. He opened a new tab and searched 'Yamato' into Google, but there were too many results to weed through.
Reminded of Senju Hashirama, Sasuke next searched Google for the fate of his mother's doctor/captor. He hadn't heard much of anything about him since Mikoto had returned home. The first result was a link to a New York Times article, about the charges against him being dropped.
He looked back at the e-mail, and started making sense of it. He was slowly connecting the dots between Yamato, Tobi, Mangekyo Industries, Hyuga Corp., Hashirama, and the DA who handled his case when Itachi threw open the door. Sasuke immediately closed the e-mail tab.
"'I haven't been to Mangekyo since we inherited it,'" Itachi quoted with a glare on his face. Sasuke hadn't seen his brother truly mad in a long while. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"Was it Kisame who called you, or Danzo?" Sasuke asked.
"That doesn't matter," Itachi spit, approaching the desk and placing his hands on it. "You don't belong here."
"Actually, I do belong here," Sasuke said, puffing up his chest. "I own half of this office, and I have a right to every file you have here on the financial and business aspects of the bar." Itachi noticed the Tobi file open on the desk and immediately snatched it up.
"Not this one," Itachi told him. "This one is personal." Sasuke decided to let that slide. He had a different battle to fight.
"I didn't have a single drink, and I came up here as soon as I could," Sasuke told him. "You can ask Danzo if you don't believe me. As for why I'm here? Our conversation inspired me to take a more active role in how this place is being run." Itachi crossed his arms, and Sasuke leaned back in the chair.
"You're an alcoholic, Sasuke," Itachi said exasperatedly. "If you really want to get an income, sell your half to me and use it to buy a restaurant somewhere. Put it in the stock market and invest it. I don't know, but don't put yourself so close to alcohol."
"This is Madara's bar," Sasuke said. "It has sentimental value; I'm not giving it up. Besides, I'd never invest in the stock market, especially after what happened to Kisame and Suigetsu."
"Kisame invested stupidly," Itachi said. "But that's beside the point. If you keep pushing this, Sasuke, I'll have no choice but to have mother force you to give it up."
"She can't force me to do anything," Sasuke said. "Whether you two like it or not, I'm an adult. I have rights, and neither of you have the right to make me stop." He glared at Itachi, and his brother returned the look. They continued the silent battle for a few seconds before Sasuke's phone began to ring. Not breaking his eye contact with Itachi, he put the phone to his ear and answered the call.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Sasuke, I'm almost ready for dinner," Naruto's voice came through the phone. "Are you picking me up, or should I just go there directly?"
"I'll be there in a bit," Sasuke told him. "See you." He hung up the phone and stood up from his desk. "I told Danzo, but I might as well tell you. I'm expecting to get a key to the bar, the staff room, and the office. To alleviate your concerns, I won't ask for one to the back room." He didn't want accusations of stealing their supply either. "I'll expect them both in two business days." He stood up and left Itachi without another word.
Who did he think he was, acting like Sasuke couldn't handle himself? Just when he'd gotten his mother to understand he could take care of himself, it turned out even Itachi didn't trust him!
Well, he was going to show Itachi and his mother. They didn't think he could handle working around liquor professionally? Not only would he take a hands-on role with the bar, but he'd make it thrive. And he wouldn't touch a drop of alcohol the entire time. He recalled that brief moment at the bar when the alcohol seemed to speak to him, but he shook it off. That was a one-time thing. And as he got adjusted to being there more often, he was sure it wouldn't be so tempting.
When he finally pulled up to the university dorms parking lot, Naruto was already standing outside waiting for him. He was wearing jeans and an orange long-sleeved thermal shirt. His hair was still wet from the shower he'd probably taken a bit ago. As Sasuke's car approached him, Naruto ran towards the car. It had barely stopped when Naruto threw open the door and crawled inside.
"You're looking hot," Sasuke commented as his boyfriend put on his seat belt. "Maybe we should just skip dinner and go back upstairs to your room." Naruto rolled his eyes, but his smile betrayed him.
"The last thing I want is your mother thinking I'm corrupting you and turning you into a sex fiend," Naruto said.
"She's got that backwards," Sasuke said with a smirk as he leaned across the car and licked the shell of Naruto's ear. The blond shuttered and pushed Sasuke away playfully.
"Just drive," he said.
When they finally got to the Uchiha mansion, Sasuke's angry mood was starting to resurface. He was now going to face his mother and his brother again, which was a prospect he didn't enjoy. He wondered how Mikoto would react to knowing that Sasuke actually went to the bar instead of just selling his half to Itachi.
"Sasuke!" she yelled at him as soon as he crossed the threshold of the house, holding Naruto's hand. Sasuke's head turned and saw her approaching, looking at him with fire in her eyes. She was wearing a dark blue dress that Sasuke was pretty sure she only wore to formal occasions. 'At least she was making an effort to look nice for this,' he told himself
"Hello mother," Sasuke said tensely. Naruto reassuringly squeezed his hand.
"Hi, Mrs. Uchiha," Naruto said with a bright smile. "Thanks for inviting me to dinner." Mikoto's angry look morphed into a sweet expression as she turned to Naruto.
"No problem, dear," she said. "I know how much Sasuke likes you, and I would like to get to know my son's boyfriend better." Sasuke almost blanched at how drastically she changed her demeanor when speaking to him. "And please, call me Mikoto."
"Er…okay," Naruto said glancing between Sasuke and Mikoto. "Do you…uh…want me to give you two a minute?"
"That would be lovely," Mikoto said sweetly.
'NO!' Sasuke wanted to yell out desperately. Instead, he felt a second reassuring squeeze of his hand before Naruto let go and walked towards the kitchen, where Sasuke knew Kakashi and Itachi were.
As soon as he'd gone out of earshot, Mikoto's saccharine expression turned angry once more. "Itachi told me he found you at that bar," she said in an angry tone.
"Itachi told me about your brilliant plan," Sasuke retorted. Mikoto began to chide him, but Sasuke cut through, his expression adamant. "I'm not selling my half of Mangekyo, Mother. And I'm going to show you that I can be professional about it without relapsing."
"I just want what's best for you, honey," Mikoto said, her expression softening a bit. "I have no doubt you could be professional about it. But why put you in that situation? It's just unnecessary."
"I wasn't in the situation," Sasuke insisted. "My name was on the deed only. The only thing I did was collect a paycheck as half-owner. Being at the bar this afternoon was the first time I was there since October!" He was pleased that that tidbit seemed to shut her up. "If I knew you'd be this overbearing about it, I never would have told you anything," he continued. He ignored the way she looked like she was going to cry.
"You have to let me live my life the way I want to," he told her. "I'm an adult. And if you think I'm making a mistake, then you can talk to me about it. But don't try and tell me I can't do what I want to do. If I'm going to run a successful business, then that's my decision." He didn't wait for her to respond before stalking away towards the kitchen.
He found Naruto setting the table with Itachi, Kakashi and Hinata already sitting there. The table was set for eight. "Kisame and Suigetsu are joining us?" Sasuke asked as he began helping his brother and boyfriend with the preparations.
"They should be home in a few minutes," Itachi said shortly. It was obvious to anyone who heard Itachi speak that something was up between the Uchiha brothers. Naruto opened his mouth to ask why, but decided that staying out of it was probably the best option. A few seconds later, Mikoto emptied the kitchen, and the room's temperature seemed to plummet.
Mikoto made her way to the oven, and opened it to pull out the salmon. "I remember when we had people to do this for us," she commented to no one in particular.
"We didn't want them to waste all their inheritance on maids, butlers, and cooks," Kakashi told her, as he had before. Sasuke had sort of recalled people working in their house, but most of that part of his life was such a blur. Mikoto was obviously not used to doing her own housework, what with the pampering and then the coma and then more pampering.
Suigetsu and Kisame arrived a few minutes later, after the table had been set. They both helped serve the food – quite a lot for an eight-person meal. With the table set, the food served, and everyone there, they sat down to eat their meal.
Naruto moved to dig in, but Sasuke silently stopped him. Since she'd come home, Mikoto had insisted that they say grace at every meal. Apparently, they'd said grace before she'd gone away, but Sasuke just took her word for it. He didn't really care one way or the other – it was only a few seconds out of his day.
He held Naruto's hand in his own and linked hands with Suigetsu on his other side. Suigetsu linked with Kisame, Kisame with Itachi, Itachi with Mikoto, Mikoto with Kakashi, Kakashi with Hinata, and Hinata with Naruto on her other side.
"Thank you, God, for the blessings you've given us," Mikoto said with her eyes closed. "Thank you for delivering me to my family, and for bringing such wonderful friends into our lives. And thank you, God for the food we eat today." She opened her eyes and looked around the circular table. "Amen," she said.
"Amen," everyone repeated afterwards. And then Sasuke allowed Naruto to finally start eating. Sasuke passed the garlic mashed potatoes to Hinata, while Naruto loaded his plate with green beans. As everyone put food on their plates, Sasuke didn't notice the determined glint in Mikoto's eyes.
"So, Suigetsu," she said as she cut into her steak. Her tone of voice sounded casual. "How was work today?" It wasn't very overtly about him, but it made Sasuke pause in cutting his steak anyway.
"It was fine," he said awkwardly, giving Sasuke a sideways glance. He almost looked like a deer caught in headlights. 'Great,' Sasuke thought. 'I'm not the only one who's afraid of where she'll take this conversation.'
"How do you think things are there?" she asked him. "I only ask because I'm considering buying up half of it."
"Itachi could give you a better answer than I can," Suigetsu mumbled, not wanting to get involved. But Sasuke was already through with the conversation.
"I said no," he said firmly. "Bringing it up over dinner with other people won't pressure me to change my mind." He could feel Naruto's questioning glance on him, and similar ones from Hinata and Kakashi. They were the only ones who were apparently out of the loop.
"What about you, Naruto?" she asked, directing the question to his boyfriend. Sasuke's eyes narrowed at her. How dare she drag Suigetsu and Naruto into this private conversation?! "How do you feel about your boyfriend wanting to take a more hands-on role at his bar?"
Naruto looked shocked for the briefest of moments before composing himself. It was enough for Mikoto to see, though.
"Mikoto," Kakashi said warningly. "I don't think –"
"If Sasuke wants to keep his share of the bar and take a more hands-on role, then that's his prerogative," Naruto said, recovering from the brief hesitation. "It's his decision, not mine." Sasuke had never been so grateful to his boyfriend in his life.
"But surely it affects you," Mikoto pushed. "If you two are planning on sharing a future together, then you should have a say in what businesses you two will own, and how they'll impact your lives together."
"Mom!" Itachi cut in. "He said no."
"I agree," Kakashi said. "Now's not the time –"
"It's precisely the time!" Mikoto said defensively.
"This is awesome," Suigetsu muttered sarcastically under his breath.
Kisame whispered something to Itachi. Mikoto was arguing with Kakashi. The noise was growing louder and louder until one sound cut above the rest. Sasuke pushed back his chair and stood up abruptly.
"I'm done," he said, throwing the napkin that had been on his lap onto the table. "You had me invite Naruto for dinner so that you can invite him to our family. All you've done is try to pressure me into giving up my possessions and belittle me like I'm a child. What you've done tonight was incredibly immature and manipulative." With those last few words, he stormed out of the kitchen.
Naruto pushed his chair out as well and put his napkin on the table. "Thanks for the food, Mrs. Uchiha – what little I was able to taste was amazing. The conversation? Not so good." He followed his boyfriend out of the room, but almost yelled out loud when he realized Mikoto was following him into the living room.
"Sasuke!" Mikoto called after her son. Sasuke turned around, and Naruto stood at his side, holding his pale hand in his own. "You have to understand!"
"All I understand is that you're a bitch!" he yelled at her, more than loud enough for the entire kitchen to hear her. "You thought that trying to embarrass me in front of my family and friends was going to get me to – what – see the light?"
"I know you're an adult," Mikoto told him. "But you're still my son. And when I see you making a mistake, it's my responsibility to stop you."
"Well, you're responsibility is over!" he told her. "You're not my mother anymore, and I'm not your son. I'm moving back in with Naruto, and I'll come by to get my stuff some time when you're not around." The pained look on Mikoto's face almost made him relent. Almost.
"Don't!" she yelled, her face turning red as she started to cry.
"Sasuke!" Kakashi said, entering the room from the kitchen. "Don't be hasty." Itachi had followed them out to the living room. Naruto could almost picture Hinata, Suigetsu, and Kisame in the kitchen being relieved that the drama-fest left their vicinity.
"I'm not being hasty," Sasuke said adamantly. "The longer I stay here and the more I see her, the more I wish I'd never found her at all!" He gave one last look at Mikoto before leaving, pulling Naruto alongside him. The last thing inside the mansion that Naruto saw was Mikoto's face – red, wet, and distorted in almost physical pain.
"I hope you don't mind me inviting myself to live with you again," Sasuke said, his face still steely with anger at his mother. They both got into Sasuke's black BMW.
"Of course not," Naruto said. "After that dinner, I had half a mind of making you leave."
When they were long gone from the mansion, on the road in Sasuke's car, heading towards the university, Sasuke started to cry. He had to pull over for Naruto to take the wheel. And the rest of the drive to the campus, Naruto kept glancing at Sasuke's sobbing figure in the passenger seat. Gaara and Kiba saw him bringing Sasuke up to the dorm room, and they both immediately latched on to them as Naruto got Sasuke into bed.
"What happened?" Gaara demanded. He reminded Naruto of the same Gaara who looked down at him when he'd shot Sasuke.
"His mother," Naruto said, shaking his head in disbelief. "Fuck," he sighed. Even he didn't know everything that went on – apparently Mikoto and Sasuke had a previous argument about the bar, and Sasuke apparently decided he wanted to be more involved with it. But he still didn't have the whole story.
He retold it best he could, but he couldn't stop seeing the image of Mikoto sobbing heavily as they left. She brought it on herself, but the image of her burned into his memory. He recalled the moment when he and Sasuke had discovered that she was alive, and briefly wondered how things had escalated so quickly in just a few months.
After Gaara had been satisfied by Naruto's retelling of events, and Naruto had convinced them that he'd take care of Sasuke for the night, the other two left. Naruto crawled into bed with Sasuke and wrapped his arms around his now-sleeping boyfriend. The tear-stained pillow wasn't comfortable for Naruto, but he stayed anyway.
He was relieved that Gaara was so defensive of Sasuke. He was sure Gaara would take care of Sasuke while Naruto was in Uzushio. The last thing he wanted was for Sasuke to feel alone. He briefly considered canceling his plans, or bringing Sasuke along, but he knew that he had to do it now, and he had to do it alone.
"Neji, talk to me!" Sakura begged, rather loudly in the Hyuga's opinion. He could already feel the stares from everyone else in the hallway. Leave it to Sakura to confront him in broad daylight, in public, while he was on his way to his Accounting class. 'This is what you get for ignoring her calls,' a voice in the back of his head told him.
He grabbed her arm quickly and pulled her to the side, hoping they could fight about the incident privately. He had no desire to let the entire university know their business. "We'll talk about it somewhere else," he told her as he dragged her somewhere else – anywhere else. His eyes found a door that led outside. It was a better option than letting her go on a tirade in front of everyone.
"What was that about?" he asked her angrily. "What made you think doing this in front of all those people was okay?"
"What made you think avoiding me was okay?" she asked, just as angry as he was. "You ignore my call, have your butler lie and say you were out when I show up at your house, you log off Facebook every time I message you." She ran her hands through her hair and let out an exasperated roar. "How the hell else am I supposed to find you?"
"Well, I'm here now. Say what you have to say."
She looked at him like he had three heads. "You kissed me, Neji. And you left before we had time to talk about it."
"I told you, Sakura, we don't have to talk about it," he said calmly. "It was a mistake on my part – an accident – and it won't happen again."
"A mistake?" she asked, as if she was astounded by the statement. "Forgetting a paper on the day it's due is a mistake. Leaving the headlights on in your car overnight is a mistake. Ordering something off a menu you can't read at a foreign restaurant is a mistake. Kissing someone is not a mistake. I know for a fact you've never kissed Gaara or Sasuke, 'accidentally,'" she said, using air quotes around the word. "I'm sure you never kissed Ino by mistake, have you?" he didn't answer.
"Talk to me," she begged. "I want to know why you kissed me." She was going to make him say it, wasn't she? Why couldn't she just accept his answer and move on?
"You were listening to me complain about my uncle, and my life in general," Neji said with a shrug. "I felt like letting you know how much I appreciated it."
"By kissing me?" she asked, obviously not believing him. "That's really fucked up, Neji." And again, he didn't have a response. 'Why does she do this to me?' "Just tell me right now, so we're totally and completely clear from here on out: do you like me?"
His throat went dry. "Of course I like you," he said easily. "You're my best friend."
"That's not what I mean, and you know it!" Sakura yelled at him. "Tell me right now, or I'm done with you."
He remained silent. 'Don't make me say it,' he silently pleaded. The last thing he wanted to do was mess his friendship up with those feelings that had been growing for weeks. She said she'd leave if he didn't answer, but if he told the truth, then their entire friendship was over.
"I'm done," she said with a shrug, turning to walk away.
Neji panicked. "No!" he said quickly, reaching forward and grabbing her arm again. He couldn't let her just leave like that. He needed an answer. And that meant he could either be a liar, or take the chance. 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take,' Neji told himself, recalling the quote from Wayne Gretzky.
"I do feel something for you," he admitted to her, not looking at her eyes. "I just don't know how deep they run." His hand went slack, and she shrugged it off her arm, turning to look at him directly.
"Finally, you say something that's not complete bullshit," she said, her voice a mixture of relief and leftover frustration. She shook her head. "If you don't know how deep your feelings are, then I guess I should help you."
He didn't see her coming. This kiss completely shocked him, and he didn't know how to react. It took a few seconds for him to process what was happening. 'She's kissing me!' And it was totally different from other kiss last week. He was absentminded when he initiated it, and horrified when he'd ended it.
This was nice. It was soft. It was fluffy, although that was an odd adjective to use to describe a kiss. His hand raised to touch her tender cheek, and allowed himself to reciprocate. She opened her mouth more willingly than he'd anticipated, and he took the opportunity to enter her mouth with his tongue.
When the kiss had finally ended, Neji was confounded. There were no words. Sakura smiled and leaned to give him a quick peck on the lips.
"Good," she said with a satisfied smile. "It wasn't that bad, was it?"
Author's Note: Again, I end with the side-story of Neji/Sakura, but that story is pretty much over at this point. They're together, and there's not much more to them than that. We got a lot of Sasuke and Naruto this chapter, though. In the next chapter, we see Naruto's first interaction with his grandfather, and we'll find out about Hiashi's decision. And some more Dr. Kishimoto (I forgot how much I liked writing him…he was there all the time for, like, ten chapters, and then he disappeared).
As usual, my blog can be found at fanfics-sm . blogspot . come, and you can follow me on Twitter at FanficsSM. Please take a moment to review and tell me how you liked this chapter.