Naruto sits on top of Hokage Mountain. A half-eaten ramen cup sits in his hand, but his eyes are skyward. Up over the whole village, in the end stages of rebuilding now that the war's over, he looks out over the horizon.
The box in his pocket feels like it weighs a ton.
He's planning something big. Big and crazy, even for him. And as the Hokage-in-training, and still Konoha's number one knuckleheaded ninja, that's saying something. But his free hand slides into his pocket and he turns the velvety box over and over, testing its weight, and knows that this has potential to be his craziest idea yet.
The timing's right, maybe. Or maybe it won't ever be right, and he's deluded himself into thinking that this is a good idea. And since when is Uzumaki Naruto afraid of anything?
But he is. He's half out of his mind with worry, with self-doubt. All of his self-confidence, borne of years of hard work and the talent to back it up, all of it flees him in this most crucial hour. Sitting in his favorite spot, looking out across the village he loves so much, he can do nothing but imagine all the ways this will blow up in his face.
"Tch, dobe. Knew you'd chicken out."
Naruto's so caught up in his own problems that he didn't even sense his best friend approaching. Startled, he whirls around to see Sasuke standing behind him, arms folded, disdainful smirk in place.
Three years since his 'triumphant return' to Konoha, and Naruto still itches to punch the pretty boy's face in.
But his nerves are rendering him more anxious than angry at this point. He can't summon the energy to be properly nasty to his best friend, at least not right now. Standing on the precipice of what could be the single dumbest undertaking of his life, he's got more pressing things to worry about than getting a good swing in.
"Oi, teme," he says, a little desperate at this point if he's reaching out to Sasuke of all people. "Do you…do you think I'm doing the right thing?"
Sasuke rolls his eyes. Stares out over the village, vigilant as ever, but he's still more than able to communicate his disdain for the man he will never admit aloud is his closest friend.
"Idiot," he scoffs. "What's wrong about it."
"Seriously, man!" Naruto says, appetite nonexistent at this point as he lets his half-eaten ramen fall off the side of the mountain. Sasuke's eyes widen slightly at the sight of such blasphemy, but Naruto can't bring himself to care. He's a wreck. His palms are sweaty, his knees are shaking, and when he stands up, it's hard to keep balanced. It feels like he's gonna keel over at any given moment. "This ain't normal. A guy like me…you don't think it's crazy to…to ask Hinata to marry me?"
Sasuke's quiet for a minute, like he's weighing his words. Even if he's still a complete asshole, Naruto has to give him credit; since returning to the village, 17 and remorseful, he's mdae concerted efforts to not be such a dick. At least, all the time.
"You've been dating for months," he mumbles. "Everyone knew you'd get married anyway."
"Everyone knew you'd get married," Naruto corrects him, pointing somewhat enviously at the simple gold band on Sasuke's left ring finger. "You never had to worry about being good enough for Sakura-chan…she loved you since we were kids."
Sasuke looks down at his wedding ring, and when he smirks, it's full of nostalgia. Naruto gets the feeling that he's reliving a moment or a hundred moments he wasn't there for, and wonders what's going on in his friend's spiky head.
"If you think that," Sasuke says dryly, "then you're even stupider than you look."
He doesn't elaborate on the subject. Naruto senses it's useless to push it, but he's desperate at this point. And he's got to be, if he's seeking romantic advice from the stoic police captain of Konoha.
"Look," he says, "I know what I am. So does the village. So do all the other villages. And yeah, it's gotten better and better, but…why the hell would someone like Hinata Hyuuga marry someone like me?"
"If you're talking about being a Jinchuuriki, then…"
"Not that! Me and Kurama are tight, dattebayo! Things aren't bad like that anymore." And Naruto means it. The demon inside him, the source of his childhood loneliness and struggle, is nothing more than a friend now, a compatriot, his heart bled of darkness. Kurama is nothing to worry about these days. "I'm talking about…everything else."
Sasuke cocks an eyebrow, his way of asking for more details without having to waste breath.
"How the hell am I supposed to know if I'll be a good husband?" Naruto blurts out, astonoished that his worries are pouring forth, and to Uchiha Sasuke of all people. "I have no idea how to be a husband, let alone a good one! I can't cook, I broke the lawn mower last time I tried to mow the lawn, I don't know how to do laundry and Sakura-chan balances my checkbook for me since I can't even keep my money straight! I still forget to check the date on the milk before I drink it sometimes!"
Sasuke snorts. It's not helpful.
"I don't know shit about this," Naruto continues, pulling at his blonde hair in distress. "There's other guys out there that'd be better for her. I know that. You know that! Everyone knows that! I'm loud and I can't pay attention for shit and even though I'm all grown up, I still get in trouble! Why the hell is she even dating me? Why the hell should I expect her to marry me, when she deserves so much better than me?"
"Oi, quit whining," Sasuke snaps, his dark eyes narrowed and pissed. "You think you're the only one who ever worried about that shit?"
Naruto's surprised. To hear Sasuke discuss any kind of ineptitude, any kind of inadequacy, is almost unheard of. But it's written all over his face in something more indelible than ink.
"You figure it out, idiot," Sasuke goes on. "She's been stalking you since the Academy. You know she'll say yes. So you take advantage of the fact that she doesn't know she deserves better than you, and you do everything you can to give her reasons to stay."
Naruto gets the sense that Sasuke isn't speaking about Hinata anymore. No, this sounds like insight into Sasuke's young but happy marriage to Sakura, a delightful scandal in the village when they eloped last year.
Sasuke looks away, eyes trained on the village below, but it's clear his thoughts are elsewhere. It's still sometimes shocking for Naruto to comprehend, but Uchiha Sasuke at age 20 is a completely different person than Uchiha Sasuke at age 16. Now he's (happily) married, living in a small but well-kept house with Sakura. He's captain of the police force, a member of the Konoha Council, and a good husband, if Sakura-chan's to be believed.
The irritation on Sasuke's face disappears, though, replaced with some self-satisfied smirk that Naruto wants to punch right off of him.
"Reasons to stay, huh?" Naruto echoes, sitting back down on the ledge, legs swinging akimbo over the ground. "What reasons did you give Sakura-chan to stick around your sorry, worthless ass?"
Sasuke's smirk turns wicked, and Naruto's stomach churns.
"Oh man, gross!" he moans.
But it gets him thinking. He's happy with Hinata. And he thinks she's happy with him, too. He tries to be a good boyfriend, and she's never told him he wasn't. She's never tried to leave him. She still blushes every single time he smiles at her, and the fainting's lessened to an extent, but sometimes she faints, too.
He wants to spend the rest of his life with Hinata. She comes first. He'd do anything for her. And even if Sasuke's quiet about it, he knows he'd do anything for Sakura-chan, too.
It's obvious neither one of them deserve the girls they're with.
But hell, if Sasuke can figure out how to be a good husband…Naruto can do it, too. Maybe if he looks at it as a competition?
"Of course!" Naruto exclaims, smacking himself in the forehead. "Why didn't I think of that earlier?"
"Because you're clinically stupid," Sasuke offers, without actually knowing what's going on.
"I'll just be eight times as good a husband to Hinata as you are to Sakura-chan!"
Sasuke scoffs and rolls his eyes. "Dobe."
Naruto's bolstered by this newfound confidence. He knows he loves Hinata, knows Hinata loves him. And maybe it's not enough to make a marriage work, but he'll do everything he can to take care of her the way a girl like Hinata deserves to be taken care of. If that means learning how to cook and do laundry and mow the lawn, then he'll do it.
If Sasuke can hold down a wife and job, then of course he can, too.
"You know you fucking suck at giving advice, right?" Naruto sighs. "You're like, the world's worst best friend."
"Just go and get it over with," Sasuke scoffs. "Unless you're gonna bitch out again."
Naruto chuckles and reads the underneath. He's gotten his best friend's approval and blessing to marry the girl of his dreams. Even if Sasuke will never actually say it, it means a lot.
"Make sure you pick out something cute to wear," Naruto snickers, standing up and stretching. "You know, to my wedding and shit. Since you're gonna be best man."
"Not on your life, dobe," Sasuke replies, his tone bored, and in a puff of smoke, he's gone.
Naruto grins, his resolution reinforced with steel. He turns the velvety box in his hand one more time for luck, before taking off at a run for the Hyuuga Manor.
Sasuke may have gotten a head start, but Naruto's more than ready to make up for lost time.
note.. Request fic! Naruto/Hinata oneshot. Hope you enjoyed it! I like the idea of Sasuke being a reluctantly helpful best friend/man. Good night, lovelies.