Summary: Sasuke knew how he felt about Naruto, but fear kept him from acting. What happens when fears are locked away? When suppressed feelings finally surface?
A/N: Hello again! My inspiration for this fic actually came before Chemicals, but I had some kinks to work out, so I put it off until I felt the concept was more refined. I haven't quite finished this bad boy yet (thanks Pocket Dial for going on for three chapters XD), but I would say I am over the halfway point. As always, reviews are greatly appreciated - I am always happy to tweak what I have written if the story seems lacking in some way, so feel free to offer your critiques.
This chapter is a prologue, taking place a few years before the actual story.
Warnings: SasuNaru ahead so watch out! If you don't dig the sweet boyxboy goodness that is yaoi... you have a few chapters to change your mind. If you think you don't like sasunaru, give it a shot... you may be surprised.
Disclaimer: I have not, nor will I ever own Naruto. The only compensation I receive for my writing is the warm fuzzies reviewers give me.
Sasuke shifted in his seat, his ass was falling asleep. 406 students down, only 5 to go. He bobbed his head and watched the white tassel dance just inside his periphery. He looked up and smiled as Naruto approached, diploma in hand. The blond took his seat next to the pale boy and offered a goofy grin as he proudly held out the hunter green binder. Sasuke rolled his eyes and watched as the next student made their way up to the podium.
Finally the last student returned to their seat and the class was asked to stand. Sasuke huffed as he got to his feet; a smile forced its way to surface and as Naruto continued to nudge him with his elbow, the smile turned more genuine. The announcement was made, it was official – they had graduated. The class erupted in hollers, jumping and screaming. A few students tossed their caps and Sasuke watched carefully and the mortarboards whizzed around above his head. Through the cacophony the raven-haired boy still managed to hear Naruto's quiet voice.
"I need to talk to you," he spoke softly, very close to Sasuke's ear.
It wasn't the proximity or the tone that had Sasuke on edge, it was the language. Naruto only spoke in Japanese when he didn't want anybody else to hear what he had to say but he didn't want to wait until they were out of earshot. Sometimes it was just a joke or a snide remark, but most of the time it meant something more personal, private.
It didn't used to be this way; when they first met they used their shared language to insult each other relentlessly without their teachers' knowledge. Sasuke had started it, openly mocking Naruto in PE – he had been utterly shocked when the white boy whipped around and retorted in the same tongue.
Sometime around 15 they outgrew their rivalry; there was no epic battle or life changing event that brought them together - they simply shed it like old skin. Perhaps that is what it means to mature; realizing that there are more important things in life than being petty and starting fights. By their sophomore year they realized they had more in common than not and grew amiable. Cordial became friendly became inseparable.
Now it was graduation day and they were preparing for their futures. Sasuke looked around through the thick sea of people, it would be several minutes before students and families could be reunited. He grabbed Naruto's wrist and pulled him through the crowd and under the bleachers. They ducked under metal bars and weaved between posts, finally stopping several yards in. The pale boy pulled off his cap and ran his fingers through his ink black hair – it didn't take much for the back to re-inflate and protrude in thick spikes.
"I know this probably isn't the best time," Naruto was once again speaking in English, "but I just really have to get this off my chest."
Sasuke's gaze faltered for a moment, his eyebrow twitched with anticipation, but he kept his voice smooth as he spoke, "what's up?"
Naruto pulled his cap off and ruffled his blond locks. He looked down, his eyes almost meek. He heaved a sigh and returned his gaze to Sasuke. Sasuke who stood with confidence, who was always so strong, so determined. Sasuke who, the blond thought, had no fears, no secrets.
"I didn't expect to feel this way," Naruto began as he fiddled with his cap.
Feel what? Sasuke swallowed discreetly, but he didn't let his anxiety slip.
"I mean, being with you – I thought it would be okay."
He isn't talking about what I think he is talking about... is he? No, no that couldn't be it... he doesn't feel that way.
"But now that I've had time to think about it, the idea is kind of scary. Its just so...different."
Different isn't bad, different can be fantastic. I can show you...
"I may not be as ready as I would like to be, but at least if I am with you I know I can do it."
We can take it slow, there is no need to rush. I won't hurt you.
After a pause and a deep inhale, azure eyes peered deeply into those steady onyx orbs, "Sasuke... will you take a class with me?"
"Of course I – wait...what?" the pale boy was quickly snapped out of his thoughts.
"I think it will be an easier transition for me if I have somebody I know in at least one of my classes," Naruto gave a sheepish grin.
Sasuke's heart clenched tightly and he sucked in a breath. No, of course it wouldn't be that. He remained stoic as he responded, "dobe it is our first year of college, it's going to be mostly gen eds, we are bound to have a class or two together."
The blond laughed nervously and scratched the back of his head, "oh yeah... well can we at least look at our schedules together, make sure we get something?"
The raven-haired boy rolled his eyes but offered a reassuring smile, "whatever makes you feel better."
Sasuke began to move back to the end of the bleachers, the air suddenly seemed so thick and he felt claustrophobic. He reemerged and quickly unzipped his gown, fanning it a few times to dissipate the heat. Naruto followed close behind and slapped him on the back with a grin before running off into the crowd.
Sasuke brought his hands to his face and pulled them down, as if the action would wipe away all signs of distress. He shook his head and moved toward the slowly thinning throng of people. A voice to his left called his name and Sasuke turned to find his brother waving him over. Wearily, he approached his family. His mother cupped his cheeks in her hands and smiled – he looked down at her and felt a small smile tug at his lips. She let go and Sasuke righted himself before turning to his father. Anybody else might have interpreted Fugaku's expression as apathetic, but Sasuke saw the tiniest hint of pride in his father's eyes; it wasn't much, but it was the most he was going to get and it was better than nothing.
Naruto's parents owned a nice piece of land on the outskirts of the city; with few neighbors to complain about some rowdy teens, it was the ideal location for a graduation party. So it was with great effort that the blond had convinced them to let him have a "few friends over". Kushina tried to argue with her husband, supplying minors with alcohol is illegal – even if you take their keys; but Minato simply shrugged and whispered something in her ear that caused her to blush. Naruto averted his eyes, God only knows what his father could be saying to elicit such a response. Whatever it was, it worked and Kushina conceded.
The night was cool but not cold, summer was fast approaching. The graduation festivities had long subsided and the official after party was now in full swing. What were once mere high school students now found themselves on the precipice of adult hood, but they couldn't be bothered to think about that now. Now was the time to let it all go – worry, anticipation, apprehension – tonight was not the night to be burdened by such heavy thoughts.
Sasuke stood on the back porch, leaning on the wooden railing, and watched the crowd that had gathered around the bonfire. He liked it right here, he could still here the music from inside – as well as his own thoughts – and watch as his friends and acquaintances milled around talking and laughing... and touching. He sighed.
"You are not nearly drunk enough," a voice called to him.
The pale boy turned and watched as Sakura approached on slightly unsteady legs. She handed him a cup and he took it willingly. She smiled and leaned against the railing – and a little on Sasuke.
"I saw you in the auditorium," she turned to face him, her cheeks were a little red – whether it was from the booze or something else, Sasuke could not be sure. He nodded and took a long drink then made a face, she laughed at him, "rum n' diet coke."
"Hn," he took another drink anyway, "it wasn't anything important."
She leaned in a little further, her sea foam eyes trying to peer into him, "maybe that is why it is important."
Sasuke tried to glare at her, but he couldn't – she was drunk, philosophizing was not her going to be her strong suit at the moment. Instead he rolled his eyes and took another drink, finishing off the cup.
Sasuke turned and leaned back against the rail, "you know, he wanted to be roommates?" Sakura barked laugh at this, "yeah. I convinced him it would be better to get random roommates, you know... broaden our horizons."
She smiled and tweaked her eyebrows suggestively, "you wanna broaden his horizons."
"Okay then," the dark-haired boy moved away from the rail, "always a pleasure talking with you Sakura."
"Oh, come on..." but her pleas fell on deaf ears as Sasuke walked back into the house.
A shock of yellow hair directed Sasuke to the kitchen and he leaned against the counter while the blond rummaged through the fridge.
"Hand me a beer dobe," Sasuke said coolly.
"That's not nice teme," the blond said as he shut the fridge and turned to Sasuke.
"Oh shit! Minato, sorry," Sasuke stood up straight, his head bowed slightly.
The man laughed and held out a bottle, "its fine Sasuke, here."
The pale boy looked apologetic as he took the beer, Minato twisted off the cap to his own bottle and put it to his lips. Sasuke mirrored the action nervously. He didn't like being around Naruto's father alone, he couldn't help but feel as if the man knew more than he let on – about Sasuke? About Naruto? He wasn't sure.
"So do you have plans for the summer?" Minato asked casually as he brought the bottle down.
"Uh, yeah actually. I am interning for my dad," Sasuke hated the tone in his voice, he sounded so uncertain, so weak.
"Oh? Planning on going into the family business?" the man sounded dubious.
Sasuke shifted his gaze, following the line of liquor bottles on the adjacent counter before he replied, "not particularly. I think Itachi has got the legacy covered," his eyes returned to Minato's with a renewed confidence, "I just want to prove to my father that my choices aren't as foolish as he believes. I'm going to act as an interpreter for the company, help them with deals in other countries. I've already had 4 years of Spanish, French and German and 2 years of Chinese and Russian."
Minato whistled, "you must have a very skilled tongue."
Sasuke sputtered and the blond man laughed heartily. The laughter continued until Minato brought a hand to his stomach and willed himself to stop, "ahhh," he continued with a chuckle, "seriously Sasuke, that really is quite impressive. Is that what you will be pursuing in college then?"
The raven-haired boy took a long swig of his beer while he fought down his rising blush, then with a calm voice replied, "I will get my bachelor's in business with an emphasis in cultural awareness and minor in linguistics."
"Those are some very lofty goals," Minato's tone was impressed, not condescending, "I'm sure you will make your father proud."
Sasuke nodded politely, though he honestly doubted that. Fugaku always criticized Sasuke's interest in language, thought it was a waste of his talents to focus on such things. Sasuke got the impression his father thought the whole endeavor was rather...fruity. Maybe he was just projecting, pushing his father's critiques of himself onto his goals – it hurt less that way. Nonetheless, making Fugaku proud was a long lost cause, hell even approval was a shot in the dark – Sasuke would be content to garner acceptance from his father, he could live with that.
"You know," Minato's voice drifted into the silence, the tone reminiscent, "I have often thought it was a sort of kismet that brought you and Naruto together. You are like opposite sides of the same coin. Have you ever thought that?" The man looked to Sasuke and took another drink of his beer before continuing, "you have very different personalities, but the same kind of raw determination. You are both stubborn as all hell, but have learned to pick your battles. You are of Japanese heritage but you were born in the states, where as Kushina and I met in Japan during school and even though Naruto was born there, there is no hiding his European ancestry," he looked contemplative for a moment and smiled, "well, that is just an observation. Anyway, enjoy the party."
Minato made to walk past Sasuke, but he paused and placed his hand on the pale boy's shoulder. He looked down and smiled again, that same eerie chill that always made Sasuke a little uneasy coursed through him as he looked up at the blond man. Minato lingered for a moment, patted Sasuke's shoulder and left the kitchen.
Sasuke waited a few seconds before exhaling in a shudder. He took another sip of his beer and moved in the opposite direction, out into the living room. It seemed most of the guests were at the bonfire, so Sasuke stretched out on the couch and closed his eyes. There was far to much commotion to actually fall asleep, but he felt more at ease laying there. That was until a heavy weight crashed down on his legs.
"What the fuck!" Sasuke yelled as his eyes shot open and torso flew up.
"Teme watcha doin'?" Naruto slurred as he grinned down at the dark-haired boy.
Sasuke tried in vain to pull his legs out from under the blond, "I was trying to relax."
Naruto scoffed, "Fuck that! You have all summer to relax, have some fun."
"No, you have all summer to relax, I am going to be interning," the pale boy finally managed to free himself and sat crossed legged facing the blond.
Naruto looked confused for a second, then slowly processed the statement. His eyes clearly displayed his realization, followed immediately by disappointment, "Sasuke..." he leaned in and grabbed hold of Sasuke's knees to steady himself, despite his whispered tone and drunken Japanese, Naruto's words rang in Sasuke's ear, "I'm gonna miss you."
Five countries in three months left Sasuke exhausted, but it was an experience he would never forget. He learned a lot about Uchiha Corporation; its operations and directives. And he learned a lot about Itachi; it turns out the elder Uchiha son was quite the playboy.
Airport lounges were Itachi's favorite hunting ground because, as he put it "the prey is just as predatory". There is no confusion when you meet somebody at a bar built specifically for transient guests – this affair is for one night only. Sometimes the women would come to Itachi, other times he would invite them to sit with him – but it always ended the same; his hand on her thigh while he whispered something salacious against her neck. Sasuke would just shift uncomfortably and nurse the scotch his brother regularly ordered for him.
After about a month of business trips and not-so-business late night meetings, Itachi turned his attentions to his brother, becoming the wing man Sasuke never asked him to be. New York, London, Tokyo – Itachi introduced girl after girl to his little brother and Sasuke feigned interest as he politely engaged in chit chat.
Finely, having grown irritated with his elder brother's constant pestering, Sasuke took a slightly inebriated pharmaceutical rep back to the hotel with him. She was eager and very generous and Sasuke managed to make it through the event with enough prowess to obscure the fact that it was his first time. But it wouldn't be the last. During their last international tour Sasuke had two more women.
He woke up alone in Berlin... he hadn't gone to bed alone. He sighed as he shrugged on his hotel robe and made his way to the kitchenette. He could smell coffee already brewing and knew Itachi would be sitting at the table, reading the Wall Street Journal.
Itachi smiled up at his brother as the young, disheveled Uchiha poured himself a cup of coffee, "it took some time, but I think you are finally carving yourself a nice little niche."
Sasuke only glared his response as he sat down across the table. He looked out the window, there wasn't much a view and the weather was gloomy, it reflected Sasuke's mood well. The silence was filled with the rustling of paper as Itachi turned his attention back to the Marketplace section. Sasuke noncommittally flipped through the issue of Berliner Morgenpost that sat on the table, reading only headlines and captions.
Itachi finally folded his paper and looked to his brooding brother, "what?"
Sasuke looked up, a little startled, "I didn't say anything."
The elder Uchiha pushed the paper away and put his elbows on the table, he folded his hands together and rested his chin on the interlocked fingers, "exactly."
Sasuke huffed and sat back in his chair, "this really isn't doing it for me."
"You seem to be enjoying yourself," Itachi fought back a smirk but the tone in his voice betrayed his insinuation.
Sasuke pursed his lips and returned his gaze to the window, "they aren't my type."
"Well that is your own fault, you are the one picking them out after all," Itachi leaned back and stared at the ceiling as he contemplated his younger brother's conquests, "in fact, I would argue that they must be your type, as they were all the same – blond hair, blue eyes..." his eyes fell back to his younger brother and he chuckled to himself, "now that I think about it, there is something familiar about them."
Sasuke's gaze shot to his brother, don't you fucking say it.
"I can't quite place it... blond, a little excitable, a little terse..." Itachi was toying with Sasuke, and he made no effort to hide it.
I swear to God I will kill you!
Itachi just watched as Sasuke's eyes slit into a cold glare – not that it had any impact on the elder Uchiha, who had mastered that look while his brother was still in diapers. He snapped his fingers in an over dramatic revelation, "got it... they are all fem Naru– hey!" Itachi began to laugh as Sasuke shot up out of his chair, nearly knocking it over, "Oh, Sasuke come back!"