Rain began to fall steadily on the roof. Naruto had been gone for nearly an hour, but Sasuke found himself afraid to call or text him. He kept having these irrational thoughts, too, about how maybe Naruto had been so upset he'd gotten into a car accident and at this very minute, he was dying in a hospital somewhere as Sasuke sat around brooding. More than likely, Naruto had gone somewhere to clear his head, and Sasuke couldn't help himself from (jealously) wondering if he'd ended up at that bistro where Neji worked. Were they close enough Naruto would confide in him? He couldn't be sure.

Even so, Naruto wasn't like that. He didn't know how to be intentionally cruel, so it was rather easy to have faith in him. Therefore, Sasuke did the dutiful thing and just waited for him to come back before jumping to any conclusions.

But, another hour passed without a word from Naruto.

The rain had lightened to an insistent sprinkle, and Sasuke dragged himself off of the couch, the carpet somehow rougher under his feet than he remembered. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and went toward the bedroom. The door wasn't closed all the way, so he pushed it open. Naruto's stuff was all there - his suitcase, clothes strewn across the bed and floor, a stack of books on the table beside the bed. His laptop was on the desk, turned off and shut.

Sasuke breathed in deeply. It smelled like Naruto in here.

He felt unexpectedly morose, nostalgic for another time. Hell, he'd have been fine going backwards to only a few days ago. He would've refused to come out here, and then things between them wouldn't be so tenuous and annoying. He could've kept him from finding out, could've held it in like he should have if he didn't want things to change between them.

It was hard, he guessed, while going around the room picking up socks or t-shirts and tossing them along the back of a chair, to come to a point in life where things - no matter how badly you wanted it - could never be the same as when you were younger. It wasn't just about the fact Naruto now knew his deep, dark secret, but that... the time when they were growing up as kids could never happen again. It could never be about the two of them anymore when they weren't even able to do normal things out in public together without someone recognizing Naruto and wanting a photograph or autograph or hug.

Dejected and tired of cleaning up Naruto's shit, Sasuke took a heavy seat on the foot of the double bed. Naruto's scarf was hanging off the side of the mattress, trailing on the carpet and tangled up in a sandal. Sasuke grabbed for it, winding it around his hand and wrist. He ran his fingers over it, half-wondering if it had been a gift from that girlfriend who'd been into astronomy. He rubbed it across his lips, smelling Naruto's cologne. He moved to the other end of the bed and rested his head on one of the pillows.

"Where are you, idiot?" He mumbled, a troubled crease appearing between his brows as he shifted onto his side and grabbed for another pillow, pulling it close to his chest.

He closed his eyes, listening to the gentle sound of the rain, feeling a little homesick for the city, where it was much more easy to stay apathetic about life.

Maybe Naruto had it all wrong, because Sasuke was pretty sure there was absolutely nothing relaxing about the countryside.

He'd fallen asleep, and when he awoke, there was definitely someone else in the room, watching him. He raised his head off of the pillow and saw Naruto sitting on the corner of the bed. The sky through the windows was a dark, abysmal gray, but it had stopped raining. Although, he almost wished it would start again, because the silence between them was not in any way comfortable. Sasuke turned over onto his back, his eyes on Naruto, irritated he hadn't said anything yet. He was the one who'd stormed off, after all.

"I was worried," he told Naruto when his friend still hadn't said anything after a few minutes. "You could've at least called or sent a text so that I didn't think you were in a mangled Lotus somewhere."

"Sorry," Naruto said quietly. He had his hands in his lap, fidgeting with them, playing with that one ring.

"Did you...," Sasuke paused, making an attempt to swallow his jealousy and paranoia but failing miserably, "Go anywhere?"

Naruto glanced over his shoulder at him, looking somewhat annoyed by the question. "Go? Where would I go? There's nothing out here."

Sasuke absorbed his biting tone. "I don't know. I thought maybe you'd gone back to the bistro."

"Why would I go there?" Naruto asked, sounding genuinely curious about the answer.

"I dunno," answered Sasuke. "I guess I thought - "

"That's my scarf," said Naruto, interrupting him.

Sasuke had forgotten about it being wound around his wrist. He felt warmth in his cheeks and started to unwind it. "Sorry. You're always such a slob, leaving your crap everywhere. I picked up some of your stuff from off the floor. I think every time we stay somewhere, you end up forgetting something."

"Ah" was all Naruto said.

Then that terrible silence reared its ugly head again. In the dim light of the room, Sasuke studied his friend, not knowing where to start or if he should wait to hear what Naruto had to say before initiating the conversation he now knew they could no longer escape. He didn't appear particularly nervous, so whatever decision Naruto had come to, he was firm in his resolve, and since he also didn't look terribly overjoyed, Sasuke could take a wild guess that Naruto, in the time he'd been thinking on it, hadn't miraculously come to the conclusion that he also held long-time (repressed) gay feelings for Sasuke.

Because, well, that might've been a bit too much to hope for on his part. That was fine. He could accept that truth, couldn't he? So what if it felt like his heart had just shriveled to the size of a pea? No big deal.

He gazed at the ceiling, unable to look at Naruto any longer. "Have you made your decision?"

"It wasn't really a question of coming to a decision, was it?" asked Naruto. "I couldn't even believe it at first, and I was so fuckin' angry at you. That you'd keep this from me, Sasuke. That maybe, because you're more than capable of it, you would've never told me if you'd hadn't come this weekend."

"Can you really blame me for not running to you to confess?" he asked, the bitterness he felt showing up in his tone.

Naruto sighed and, while leaning over, grabbed for the other end of the scarf. He proceeded to wrap it around his wrist, just like Sasuke had done.

"I don't blame you," Naruto answered him calmly. "Because I hadn't ever thought of you like that before today."

"Fair enough," he said, though it hurt to hear it. "I figured as much. And did you have any breakthroughs?"

"Are you gonna be a sarcastic asshole the entire time we have this conversation?"

"It wouldn't surprise me, no." Sasuke sunk his teeth into his bottom lip. "It's not like you to be evasive, Naruto. That's my job. Please don't hold back how you feel on my account."

"I don't want to hurt you," he said.

"That's life," Sasuke replied, "You go about your day, not purposely trying to hurt people. Sometimes it happens. It's worse to drag it out. C'mon, Naruto. Put me out of my misery."

"Sasuke - " Naruto looked pained.

He knew he was being a jerk but couldn't help himself. Sasuke sat up and reached for Naruto's arm. "If anyone's going to do it, I want it to be you."

Naruto glared. "This isn't a game or anything. I'm not tryin' to toy with you, asshole, and I'm not wanting to enable your masochistic side by purposely making you suffer."

"Ah." Sasuke let go. "Is that what I'm doing?"

Naruto shook his head. "If you want me to feel bad, believe me, I already do."

"Because you, what, don't feel the same way? Can't you just say that much?"

"Just to be clear. You didn't tell me how you felt, so, when I left... I wasn't sure what it is you want. Like, more time with me? Because," Naruto sighed, sucking on the inside of his cheek. "I know we don't get to see each other much anymore, and I know how that makes me feel sometimes. That things now are so different than how they used to be. But I honestly never thought it bothered you, which is why it never occurred to me that - "

"I love you?"

"No, I knew you loved me," said Naruto. "As a friend at least. Even if you never said it. I love you, too. That much is clear."

Sasuke nodded, lowering his head. He swiped his tongue over the sharp edges of his teeth. "But you're not in love with me."

"No. I don't think so. At least not right now."

Sasuke looked up at him. "... Not right now. What does that mean?"

Naruto rubbed at the inside corner of his eye. "It means that I'm still surprised, alright? I feel stupid for not realizing earlier. I'm pissed off at you for making me force you to do all those scenes without tellin' me you'd be bothered... that maybe you didn't trust me... I dunno. I need..." He let out another long sigh. "I need to be able to trust you. Always."

"Are you serious?" He almost kicked him. "Are you really saying you think you can't trust me?"

"Sasuke," he growled. "Y'know what I mean. You didn't tell me because you were scared, right? You probably figured I'd throw you out or something or would want to quit being your friend."

"No," Sasuke argued and felt his body moving on its own so that he was much closer to Naruto. "I didn't say anything because - "

Naruto's eyes narrowed when he hesitated. "Because?"

"Because I didn't see how it could fucking work!" he shouted. "I know it can't work. Because of all the reasons you stated earlier. You think I wanted to feel this way about you? About someone I couldn't even be with?"

He didn't know what hit him when his back slammed into the mattress. Naruto was heavy as he lay halfway on top of him, an arm thrown around his neck.

"What the hell, Naruto?" He started to push him off, but Naruto clung on stubbornly, and Sasuke could see the tears.

It shocked him into silence and he stopped struggling, suddenly very in tune with the unnerving sound of Naruto's uneven breathing. After a while, he managed to get his arm out from under him and started to rub his back. "I'm the one being rejected here," he whispered. "I should be the one crying."

"I do love you," Naruto said, pushing his face against Sasuke's neck. "But only as a friend."

"I know." Sasuke leaned his head against Naruto's, trying to comfort him though it felt like his own heart was breaking. "It's okay."

Naruto lifted his head, his eyes already red and swollen. "Maybe you could get me drunk," he suggested, obviously joking since that's what Naruto did when he felt uncomfortable. "And we could go at it, huh? I've never been with a guy."

Sasuke gave him a small smile and brushed his hair out of the way. "And I could agree to it. I'd convince you that it'd help you expand your acting repertoire. We could even do it now, and you'd have some real experience to work with once rehearsals start Monday."

Naruto sniffled and wiped his nose with his sleeve. Sasuke loved him this way, too, even with his bloodshot eyes and snot dripping from his nose. Because Naruto, after all these years, still needed him, cried for him, and loved him enough not to want to hurt him. Eventually, he put his head back down on Sasuke's chest, and Sasuke kissed the top of it. He shifted around Naruto's arm until it lay across his stomach. Sasuke grabbed for his hand, and Naruto didn't resist. He clasped their fingers together, giving them a squeeze.

Rain began to fall again, beating at the windows like it wanted inside.

Here, where it was warm.

"It's okay," he repeated, lips brushing Naruto's hair.

He closed his eyes and felt his fingers trembling where they remained joined with Naruto's. Sasuke placed another kiss to the top of his head, voice shaking only a little. "Maybe one day I'll get you to change your mind."