Once, when he was a child, he chased a butterfly in the garden. Its wings were wide and beautifully tinged with the color of the sky. Vibrant blue. Sasuke deemed it incredibly beautiful.
A pale hand hovered in the air…
One breath—and the young raven caught the butterfly deftly in his hand. Skillful fingers gripped the wings, and a feeling of satisfaction bloomed in his chest.
'So beautiful,' he thought. He could see the insect's thin legs struggling desperately at the capture but it could do nothing, its wings trapped between the pale fingers. "So beautiful," the young raven whispered; his eyes fixed on the exquisite form.
"Let it go, Sasuke." Itachi voiced out behind him.
"You're killing it."
Dark eyes widened at the words, genuinely confused. Sasuke turned around to face his older brother. "But Aniki," the young raven started, "This is mine. I found it."
Itachi shook his head and leaned down to meet his brother's eyes. "Yes, you found it and it's yours. But you have to let it go or you'll kill it, otouto. Look," Itachi's eyes flicked towards the butterfly, "You're hurting it."
Sasuke refocused his attention on the butterfly, an unreadable expression on his face. His eyes narrowed slightly in thought.
And then without word or warning, the same pale fingers clipped the butterfly's wings. Itachi watched in mute shock as the beautiful blue wings slowly fell to the ground.
The butterfly writhed in the ground for a few agonizing seconds... before it finally died.
Itachi's jaw clenched, suddenly finding himself unable to say anything.
"If I let it go, it will fly away." Sasuke said.
"It will fly away, Itachi. Away from me..." the young raven continued, his eyes still focused on the dead butterfly on the ground.
"And it will no longer be mine."
Before the other could say anything, Sasuke knelt down, gathered the remains of the butterfly from the ground and cupped them in his small hands. He held it like a treasure and brought it closer to his chest.
"This is mine… forever mine," the young raven murmured, smiling.
Itachi moved closer to his brother, his eyes laced with worry. "No Sasuke, that's not…"
"Can we visit Mother?" The young raven looked back at Itachi with expectant eyes. "I missed her so much. I'll show this to her."
"..." Itachi stood still for a moment, looking at the dead butterfly in his brother's hands. A cold, cold breeze passed them.
"Sure," Itachi said after a while. Sighing, he made his way towards his younger brother and held his hand.
Sasuke's hand was much colder than his.
Sai's dark eyes roamed around the doors lining the corridors. A frequent visitor at the apartment complex, he already knew the place by heart. He smiled when his eyes rested on one particular door.
He rang the bell and counted in his mind. He heard a loud tumbling sound behind the door, followed by a pained yelp, then a curse.
"What a klutz," Sai commented, unaware that his smile had widened a bit.
The door opened and vibrant blue eyes peeked at the small opening.
"Oh hey Sai, you're early." Naruto greeted, smiling as he rubbed the back of his head.
"And you are late, pantywaist."
Naruto chuckled softly as he removed the chain from the door. "Haha, good morning to you too, jerk."
The blond gestured the other to come in.
As usual, Naruto greeted him in only his boxers. That wasn't new and Sai didn't mind it in the least. But what made the sight more interesting was the endless bruises and marks marring the tan skin. The blond's face was slightly flushed as well.
Sai's eyes glimmered playfully in realization. "Finally got laid, dickless?"
The blond's blue eyes widened. The flush in his face deepened.
"S-Shut up! That's none of your business." he stammered. "And quit staring, you ass."
Suddenly feeling exposed, Naruto crossed his arms over his chest. When the other's eyes didn't leave him, he punched him in one shoulder. "I said, quit staring."
The playful grin on the pale man's face merely grew. "So who is it?"
Sai moved closer to the blond. "Who is he? I bet you were the one screaming."
"The hell I'm not— I didn't— It wasn't like that, Sai!"Naruto shouted in a voice higher than usual.
"Your face says otherwise, dickless. You're lying. You have to do better than that—"
"Naruto's right. It's none of your business."
A smooth voice suddenly cut in.
A man appeared behind the blond. He was tall, Sai noted, and the man's dark eyes were narrowed and glaring right through his.
"S-Sasuke!" Naruto called out. "What are you doing? I told you to stay in the room."
"Get inside, Naruto." The man spoke, eyeing the blond's state of undress. His jaw was tightened at the sight, clearly displeased. "Get dressed. Fix yourself up."
"Shut it bastard. Don't order me around."
"Fine, fine." Naruto sighed, deflating. He turned to Sai.
"The bastard's Sasuke. He's my... brother."Naruto introduced. "And Sasuke, this dick is Sai. He goes to my school."
Naruto waited for some sort of response from the two but there was none. Not even a nod or a handshake. "O—kay." The blond bit his lip, unsure on how to proceed. The whole scenario felt suddenly tense for some reason.
"So I'm going now. Just... wait for me." Naruto said. He leaned in towards his brother. "Oh and Sasuke, speak English okay. Despite the looks, Sai isn't Japanese, Asian or anything. The guy's... I dunno. Be good okay. Don't scare him away. I mean it, teme. He's a dick, but he's my friend. Be nice." Naruto warned. And with one last wary glance at the two, the blond left, leaving the two ravens alone.
A complete and utter silence settled between the two.
After a long while, Sai adjusted his stance and bowed low to his waist.
"I am honored to finally meet you, Uchiha-sama. I've heard a lot of things about you." Sai greeted in perfect Japanese. "Great... things." He straightened his posture and looked directly at the Uchiha's eyes.
"Who are you, really?" Sasuke asked, his voice has turned low. His eyes were narrowed.
"My apologies. I cannot disclose that information. But like Naruto said, you can call me Sai."
"...You work for my Father." Sasuke deduced.
It was not a question. Sai's smile widened. 'A prodigy indeed.'
"That is correct. It was your Father who hired me."
"To watch Naruto?"
Sai nodded once. "Yes and it is imperative that he does not know about it."
"Hn." Sasuke finally tore his eyes away. He seemed satisfied and... relieved? Sai wasn't sure. He took a mental note to research on that later.
"I am relieving you of your duties. You are no longer needed." The Uchiha suddenly said. He looked back at Sai, his eyes as piercing as ever. "I'll take care of himfrom now on."
Sai's smile faltered on his face but it remained. "As much as I feel humbled by your concern towards my job, I'm afraid you can't do that, Uchiha-sama."
"It was your Father who hired me, not you. He is the only one who can relieve me of my assigned duties."
The Uchiha's lips pressed thinly at that. A curve appeared on his jaw, signaling a tightening there. Sai felt quite satisfied at that.
"Therefore I will continue to watch over Uzumaki Naruto until he says otherwise. I hope that is acceptable."
"No, you will not. Your job ends here."
"Leave." Sasuke hissed. "He's not going anywhere. Especially with you."
Sasuke stepped forward, both hands already down. "Now get out."
Sai's stance grew rigid.
Everything felt cold all of a sudden. A lump has formed in his throat and it took his all to swallow it. Sai didn't know why his fists won't stop shaking at his sides.
"I understand, Uchiha-sama." Sai gritted out as he bowed down again. A fire raged within, coupled with the feeling of fear, but his voice remained deceptively even. He did not bother to restore his fake smile; his face reverting to its usually cold state.
"If you'll excuse me then, I will take my leave."
With one last glance at the Uchiha, Sai turned on his heels and left.
The door closed slowly and too silently.
The lock clicked, and Sasuke's gaze immediately lowered to the floor. He closed his eyes, trying to control the furor in his chest.
Faintly, he could hear the sound of water running in the background.
And a voice.
He could also hear a voice. That familiar high-pitched voice.
Sasuke stilled—and listened. Though a bit muted, he could still make out the wrong lyrics and the blond's off-key singing.
His lips curved slightly and a ghost of a smile appeared on the pallid face. The heaviness in his heart gradually receded and Sasuke sighed deeply.
"Idiot." He heard himself whisper.
He began to walk towards the sound. His footsteps were soundless against the old polished floor. He gripped the door handle and without hesitation, went inside the room.
The voice was louder now with the blond still singing and unaware of the new presence. A pale hand slid the glass divider to one side, exposing the bathing blond.
Dark eyes roamed over the wet slick body, lingering for a moment at the newly formed marks and bruises on the tan skin. Gritting his teeth, Sasuke stepped into the tub.
Naruto felt the movement and turned around. "Sasuke, what—!"
Pale long arms wrapped around the blond's torso and Naruto was pulled closer to a body much drier than his own.
Naruto's eyes widened in disbelief, seeing that the raven was still fully clothed.
"Shit bastard, you're getting wet."
The only response he got was a long hum against the back of his neck.
The hold tightened even more. Naruto shivered when warm lips were pressed suddenly against his wet skin.
"…You are mine, right?" Sasuke spoke after a while. "You're mine..."
"Eh, what?" Naruto blinked. Now, he's totally confused.
"You'll never leave me again?"
-you'll never fly away from me
"Uh… Yeah, of course not." Naruto faced the raven fully. His hands gripped the other's shoulders.
"What are you saying? What is this about?" Naruto asked, searching for anything in Sasuke's eyes.
The Uchiha was now soaked to the skin; his bangs hanging limply on his face. His head was lowered pitifully. He looked like a child that has been left in the rain.
Naruto's fingers tangled themselves on the Uchiha's hair. "Hey… Hey, what's wrong?"
A pale hand slowly rose and gently stroked the whiskered cheek. Vaguely, Naruto was reminded of what happened last night. He closed his eyes as memories flashed by.
Last night, he cried so hard while reading his letters.
And Sasuke… Sasuke just listened.
And when Naruto stopped reading, Sasuke licked the trail of tears on his face. And the kiss they shared that night was the most painful, yet gratifying kiss he's ever experienced.
Everything was a blur after that.
"You will never leave me again, right?" Sasuke's deep voice cut him off from his thoughts. Naruto opened his eyes and the Uchiha's dark eyes were finally on his.
"No, no, of course not. I will not…" Naruto shook his head. "I will never leave again, I promise."
And to seal that promise, Naruto wrapped his arms around the older man's neck and pulled him closer. "I love you, bastard. Don't you ever forget that. I will always…"
"You are mine, Naruto." Sasuke said.
The tone has suddenly changed and if Naruto was more observant, he could have noticed that.
"Yeah. And you're my jerk-ass bastard too," Naruto said softly. He kissed the side of the Uchiha's face, his neck, and everywhere he could reach—completely disregarding the raven's tightening, bruising hold on his body.
"I love you," Naruto said again.
There was silence after that, and Naruto patiently waited.
The sound of the shower was drowned out in their ears and there is no world other than theirs. The billowing steam enclosed them as if separating them from everything.
"I love you too." Sasuke finally said.
The words were repeated over and over again as Sasuke dragged his heated lips across the tan skin.
"Mine… Forever mine." Sasuke whispered.
And here, Naruto finally closed his eyes; a smile forming on his face.
Slow, now—go at this softly.
"Baby, who were you? How would you grow… and who would you love?"
-James Ellroy, "The Black Dahlia"
-Responses to Questions / Comments -
Shiroxcat: How did Sai know how Sasuke dealt with Naruto's absence if he hadn't met him? In the epilogue, when Sai met Sasuke for the first time, he mentioned that he had heard "great" things regarding Sasuke. This sort of implied he did his research about the whole family. It was not worded out in the story but Sai's job includes knowing everything about his employers, even keeping tabs on each of them without their knowledge.
What is Danzo's connection to Naruto? Danzo met Naruto when the latter was 13. Remember the hidden camera in the governor's hotel room? It was placed there by one of Danzo's men. Politicians destroy each other. In a political sense, Danzo's aim was to "ruin" the governor's public cred using his "indecent" lifestyle. This was also one of the reasons why Danzo was one of first who arrived in the scene. It was at that crucial moment where he discovered Naruto. When Fugaku adopted Naruto, Danzo had planned to use him to ruin Fugaku this time. Regrettably, I wasn't able to delve further into Danzo and Naruto's story. They had indeed met and talked. In such ugly circumstances though...
violetkisses and FanofBellaandEdward: Was Sasuke planning to kill Naruto if Naruto somehow gave the wrong answer (Epilogue)? No, definitely no. I know I portrayed Sasuke as somewhat of a 'dark, obsessive' character, but he does love Naruto. He loves him so much. He'll never do anything to harm him again. What the last part meant was no matter what Naruto's answer is, Sasuke will never let him go. He'll make sure that they'll never be separated again. That's possessive and somewhat twisted, but he's not murderous. Thank you so much!
Reader: Oh yes. I agree, it does give off that vibe. Thank you, still.
Wolfthoughts: I'm sorry for the confusion. I'm sure you'll find your answers in the comments section. Thank you!
Xhre: At the first part, Naruto can't say he loves Sasuke because he's still going to leave and he knows that that would hurt Sasuke. Kakashi betrayed Sasuke because he cares genuinely for the Uchiha and he knows that doing the latter's whims will never help him. Kakashi doesn't want Sasuke's sins to pile up and eventually break him. Sasuke doesn't have more control than his father. Indeed he has many connections and secret dealings but Fugaku is still the more powerful one. Thank you so much!
sasunaruhugznkisses: Yes, the ending. Honestly, I debated whether I should stop at the beach-scene. I decided that I shouldn't and so, the part 2. I want the readers to see that Naruto still felt guilt at what he had done and that he should still do something to protect his family. What he did is a crime, and I know it cannot be justified by escaping to another country, but that's the only way Naruto could do. I don't want to end the story without Naruto doing anything about "that problem." I'm sorry if the romance between Sasuke and Naruto was hindered because of that. I'm so sorry. Next time I write a story, I'll focus more on their relationship. I'm sorry about that and I hope, if ever I write an epilogue, it would be satisfying. Thank you so much for the review again!
Kurama's Foxy Rose: Oh an epilogue? Um. I will try. I will have to finish HMB first or a chapter at least. Sorry if you find the ending unsettled. And thank you!
SilverSauce: OMG, thank you so much! That was long. Thank you for the effort. I really, really appreciate it. Now, for your question: Why did Naruto leave? (I forgot to include this one in the notes, sorry!) Naruto did not leave for himself. He knows that he can't escape his past and he'll forever bear the stigma of that abuse. He left because he knows that even if Danzo is already dead, there are people still capable of digging his past. Naruto left to protect his family. The Uchiha is a political clan. Any issue or controversy has the potential to ruin them. Why did Sasuke never even bothered to open the letters? The letters were sent back because Sasuke doesn't want to read them. There are two reasons for this. There is a sadistic part of him that wants Naruto to feel his pain for leaving him ("You hurt me first"-bold part). Also, he knew in his heart that once he read Naruto's letters, he won't be able to hold back and he'll chase after the other again, throwing everything away. His study has been his refuge, his distraction. Though in the end, it was revealed that no matter what he does, he just can't let go. Yes, dobe-teme dramatics. Once again, thank you so much! Thank you!
fnza: Sorry, I'm very confusing. What happened to Itachi? Itachi came with Naruto to the U.S. He's Naruto's guardian there. Nothing happened between them anymore, because even though Itachi loves Naruto, Naruto does not reciprocate that kind of love. Why was Naruto unable to contact Sasuke? As mentioned, Sasuke changed his contact details and address - only giving them to Itachi. And the letters Naruto sent were "disregarded" by Sasuke. (Reasons above) Thank you so much!
ttixz bebe: I'm very honored! Of course, you can! If you have any questions regarding the story, please ask! Thank you!
nailej: In this chapter, I hope I answered your questions. Well, most of them hopefully. Is Sasuke insane? I leave the judgment to you readers. But I do intend him to act a bit more obsessive and deranged. Thank you.
Powder: Once again, thank you so much! I'm flattered, honored, giddy, every time I read your comments. Thank you! [sniff] I do want to strangle myself too when I revived Naruto, but I love him and I don't want him to die. Also, he's still has a big role to play in the end. He's the main character after all. Does Itachi love Naruto? Yes, he does. But is it mutual? No. Naruto loves him like a brother. What happened to them in Chapter 2 is kind of an accident as Naruto is quite not himself at that moment. Thank you, thank you!
Stalker-san: Thank you so much! Your words are so flattering. Was Naruto abused (sexually)? Yes he was when he was 13, right after he met Itachi. I didn't delve much into this, sorry about that. The brown-eyed guy that Naruto beat up in Part 2 was the "pimp" who sold him to the governor in Part 3 (hotel-room incident).
Narutopokefan (no sequel, sorry); kyuubiton1114; Cb; ImaWilburD; EnchantedToReadYou; sugardash; crystalxangel; Mystic Dewdrop; violetkisses; Xhre; Cakeat; NiChee; Everclear-san; rabbit 17; Brie92; fujoshikanojo94; nertz; annabellemanix; Corn; pervyprincess; Aiko Tachibana; fnza; Lonelylulaby; Adevlo D.; Seungho; soulclenzing; Estella Maria; SUPERANON; The Darkness Of Your Fall; Jannasaur; Echo Uchiha; Kurama's Foxy Rose; Mimi Aiko; ME; patterns-at-dusk; JDark; Lastimosa; Kooksmagoogles; and to all ANONYMOUS reviewers: Thank you so much for your words! I really appreciate all of them. You don't how much these words mean to me.
To everyone who +added, +faved, or read this story: I extend my deepest, sincerest gratitude. Thank you very much!