The Ever Elusive Afterwards
This was the first time in just over a year Naruto had been back to the caves. Unsurprisingly it didn't look all that different and he remembered the details and the layout like he'd been here yesterday. And why not? He'd been dreaming about this place almost non-stop since he'd left.
But he didn't ever remember being this nervous when he was here last. Actually he wasn't sure he'd ever felt this nervous in his life. A lot of his future well-being, his sense of worth and his happily ever after rested somewhere within these caves.
Or not, as the case may be.
Optimism wasn't normally something he was in sort supply of but it was hard to keep up the excited feeling when so much rested on whether a certain bastard had any feelings for him anymore. And the invitation had been clear, 'if you love me, you'll be there'.
He'd meant to make it sound like it was a certainty, as though there was no way Sasuke wouldn't show up. But assuming things where Sasuke was concerned, especially where his heart was concerned, was sometimes a bad move.
He couldn't believe that one person could reduce him to this. A nervous, second-guessing, negative version of himself. But he did and he could with a single look or word. It sometimes made Naruto wonder why he felt so strongly for him.
But that was just it, no one else ever made him feel like this. And although those feelings were sometimes negative, mostly it was exciting. Besides, if all his feelings were warm and mushy what would ever push him the way Sasuke did? Who could ever make him strive to be so much more than Sasuke did? No one did, Sasuke made him a better person just by being the way he was.
And a slight nervous wreck too.
Of course it wasn't the only reason he loved him. The determination he showed, the unwavering devotion he threw into whatever he did was truly awe-inspiring whether the deed itself was all that moral or not. Well almost unwavering. Thank every god that perhaps Sasuke wasn't determined as all that or things last year might have turned out a lot differently.
But the way he threw himself into things, his confidence, the way his sometimes over meticulous mind worked was nothing short of fascinating. Fascinating and scary, sure, but amazing to Naruto all the same.
However underneath that there was something that wasn't a little vulnerable, something not a lot of people ever got to see and it was that something, that glimpse of wanting to be doing the right thing that had made Naruto push so hard to save him. He could be good, Naruto really believed that, but Sasuke just had to realise what was really good not only for him, but to the rest of the world. He had only done the things he'd done because he had thought deep down that he was justified and the moment he had felt that he wasn't, he'd begun to second-guess himself. It was that hesitation that had made Naruto feel for him even more.
It had been a year and no one had seen the elusive Uchiha. Naruto believed this was actually a good thing. Sasuke had not come back to the village for revenge, he had not in fact done anything bad that Naruto had heard of. And he had heard things. Little things from reports saying that someone that fitted a vague description of Sasuke had been reported from time to time. An assault stopped in a mining town, a robbery foiled in a small shop, things like that.
Naruto wasn't completely stupid, he wasn't about to assume that Sasuke had gone out of his way to start doing good deeds. Most likely he had been in the right place at the right time and it would have hardly made him break out in a sweat to assist someone who needed it. But Naruto didn't care if Sasuke was only doing these small deeds because it had been connivent for him to do so at the time. The fact that he had bothered at all was a better sign that Naruto could ever have hoped for. Accidental hero or not, the fact remained that perhaps Sasuke was trying.
Well sort of. Of course it was also entirely possible that the wrong doers in these situations had simply gotten in his way or annoyed him and he just happened to help out the right person at the time, but Naruto wasn't about to let all his optimism die at once.
He walked into the little room that he and Sasuke had spent the bulk of a month in a year ago now and stopped dead in his tracks. He had expected to see that all too familiar figure waiting for him in this room. No matter his negativity on the reality of that hope, he had secretly believed all his confidence at the time hadn't been for no reason and that Sasuke might actually be here waiting for him.
And he was.
Sitting but half reclined back on the old bed, dark eyes boring into his, faint but familiar smirk in place was the object of his determination as cool as cool can be while Naruto meanwhile had been fighting to keep his heart in place in his chest and not let it succeed in breaking out of his chest after all.
And the bastard couldn't have looked more casual if he'd simply been meeting a friend for lunch.
"Don't look so shocked dobe. I could feel you coming from a mile away. It's a handy trick I picked up in Konoha."
But just like that he could make everything seem okay again.
"I didn't know if you'd come," Naruto admitted.
"And here I thought you were oh so confident about that," Sasuke mocked him. "And we both know I can't actually kill you."
"Asshole," Naruto replied smiling. He couldn't help it, Sasuke was here and he knew that what meant. "You remember what this means right?"
For the longest moment it seemed as though Sasuke wasn't going to reply. But the wait was worth it, everything was worth it, when Sasuke replied.
Notes: Everybody breathe out. And please don't throw things at me. Actually considering where this fic was going for the majority of it, methinks that was a pretty happy ending when it could so easily have gone so very bad. I was entertaining notions of epic last battles wherein they kill each other in a dark and violent though somewhat romanticised manner but as you can see, I got over it.
Actually I had a few endings planned for this and went with sweet and soppy at the end because I think it deserved it at this point. We definitely needed some aww moments. And as mentioned, thanks to Cellariusianua for helping me decide about the sex scene in particular. I always seem to take a bit of a risk in this story having Naruto top but fuck it, by now I think those of you left reading don't really mind all that much anyway. It just made more sense to me here because Sasuke really did need to let go for better reasons than he had the last time and I really wanted to point out the differences between that scene and this. Many apologies though for not making it too graphically smutty. I really had meant to but the emotional stuff kept getting in the way and eventually I just gave in. Damn emotions *sigh* Not sure how the plan came out to have the sex leading off from last chapter as a flashback throughout this chapter but I thought it somewhat fitting at the time. I'm not certain that wasn't the copious amounts of coffee that made me think that was a good idea though…
And yeah, I left it a little open on purpose. I didn't specifically state that Naruto had become Hokage or that Sasuke would return with him to the village because I wanted something left to the imagination even though since they both seemed happy to see each other it was greatly implied this indeed did happen. It was something I picked up in the reviews that while overwhelmingly people wanted a happy ending, there were quite a few that felt having things too neatly wrapped up would seem strange after everything that had gone on. But with this ending it seems like the boys will get their happily ever afterwards, but of course there may well be some trials ahead of them.
And on that note, no, this fic will not be continued. It is done, ended, finished. I know I don't generally set that in stone, but for this one it is certain, no matter what ideas I've had for it and how much I actually do itch to give it a little more finality. Sorry guys, but Remember Me will be the last story of its kind that I will write. I have found that I just don't have the time these days to post anything this large every two weeks or so. Yeah I know, it wasn't a massive story but just part 3 alone posted every two to three weeks if I'm lucky is a 4-5 month ongoing deadline I've been finding harder and harder to meet these days. So I'll probably keep to smaller controlled postings for the future. Little parts in stories that are 2-4 chapters long will be a lot easier to cope with like the instalments for both Long Way Home and WNL.
Thank you so much for those of you that have stuck with me through to the end, I appreciate it more than I can say. I think most of the feedback has been positive but honestly I have never been so glad to finish a story. 2012 filled me up on my angst quota and I'm going to tentatively dub 2013 to be my adventure year with some more Long Way Home, WNL and a smattering of requests in between. Oh I might throw a little angst around here and there but I think I'm more than ready for something a little lighter. Thanks to everyone who gave me helpful tips and pointers throughout, it helped me greatly. Unfortunately I will not be able to respond to this chapter's unsigned reviews but please don't let that stop you :)
Much love, you guys deserve it,
PS – I've had a few questions about songs since I posted up that song influence for Dreams Aren't Real so I thought I'd try it again. Remember Me is a bigger story and I've listened to many songs to either get me in the mood or have given me ideas but if I had to choose one I would have to go with: 'Save Me' by Gotye. Have a listen on YouTube if you are interested :)