It's minus fourteen degrees Celsius outside, not to mention all the snow everywhere. And now it's dark too. I don't want to go outside a second time today:( At least this time I'll wear more clothes...
This chappy is brought to you by defrosted fingers. Enjoy :)
Chapter six: Not as bad as it could have been
Two hours later found Naruto standing nervously beneath a huge towering mansion, surrounded by perfect lawns and methodically placed trees and flower bushes, although since it was fall there weren't any flowers. So this was Sasuke's family home. He thought of his own, a rundown apartment he'd shared with his godfather Jiraiya since his parents were what they called 'adventurers' and travelled around the world climbing Mount Everest and taking pictures of poisonous snakes and other things in what weren't very good environments for kids. He'd felt as if the two bedrooms, living room and small kitchen had felt vast and empty all those hours he'd spent alone since Jiraiya worked a lot. Now, he imagined Sasuke as a kid, coming home to a place like this, terribly impersonal and large enough to get lost in and not be found for hours.
Well, he hadn't seen the inside yet, but this sure explained why Sasuke was so tense all the time, and had gotten outbursts regularly the first months they'd lived together every time Naruto left something out of place or messy. He noticed Sasuke squaring his shoulders out of the corner of his eye, molding his face into that flawless Uchiha Noh mask. Naruto fidgeted with the collar of his shirt again. Sasuke had judged all his clothes as unworthy and had forced him to wear the new dark blue shirt he'd bought earlier that week, since his parents wouldn't recognize it. And Naruto absolutely loathed wearing shirts; he avoided them like the plague. Unfortunately the plague known as Sasuke had assured him that from now on he would be wearing a lot of these shirts. Asshole.
The massive front door swung open, and a bowing butler showed them inside. Who the hell has a butler nowadays anyway? And the inside was even worse than Naruto's imagination had thought. There were large hallways, the ceiling so high Naruto almost had to crane his neck to see it, and there were lots of scary paintings and large mirrors. Heavy crystal chandeliers hung on golden chains, the light subdued. He snuck glances into the rooms they passed on each side, they were all large and with an interior design that looked distinctly old and too valuable to touch or use. No wonder Sasuke was so bitchy about the furniture in their apartment. He'd literally grown up in a museum!
Eventually they reached their destination, after a lot of twists and turns and two wide stair cases. He noticed Sasuke frowning, but he ignored the questioning glance Naruto sent him. The butler stopped outside a decorated white door, and stepped inside motioning for them to wait. Naruto didn't like this, he was actually glad now that Sasuke had forced him to wear the shirt. He still felt underdressed in this heavy atmosphere. He clenched and unclenched his fingers, and almost gave a shriek when Sasuke grabbed his arm. He started turning around but stopped when he felt the bastard leaning close to his ear and whispering, his breath warm against Naruto's ear.
"Stop fidgeting, you need to look confident, and don't let them scare you. If things get awkward, talk about the tea or say something embarrassing about me. They love hearing stuff like that."
Before Naruto had time to retort, the butler showed up again and told them to enter. This room wasn't very big compared to some of the others they'd passed, but still larger than the average living room. There was a spidery white table in the middle, where some blue patterned china was placed. Naruto gulped. Those cups were probably worth more than he earned in a year. Better not drop his. Around the table were six white chairs that looked too rickety to be safe, and the whole room seemed to be rather romantic-looking, a grandfather's clock in the same style by one wall and some small tables with flowers underneath the large windows. His gaze then zoomed in on the other occupants in the room; Sasuke's family.
Naruto had met Sasuke's brother Itachi before, and occasionally he had nightmares about the good-looking, pony-tail-wearing older Uchiha heir. His face was of course in that perfect mask, but underneath that the devil lived, at least if you believed some of Sasuke's stories. Sasuke's mother Mikoto looked much more pleasant, she was actually smiling slightly! It was easy to see where Sasuke got his good looks from. The father looked… intimidating. He decided not to let his eyes linger on Fugaku for too long. And that left only the grandmother… She looked the same as many old ladies, except wearing a lot more jewels and her back so straight and regal that she seemed to think of herself as a queen. And perhaps in this household she was.
Naruto was snapped out of his musings by the Uchiha family getting to their feet and moving forward to greet him and Sasuke. Oh god. This must be how it felt like to be a mouse trapped into a corner by a cat. Or maybe a tiger. Or that spider in the Lord of the Rings. But incredibly enough introductions passed without any incidents, and soon Naruto was sitting beside Sasuke on one of those thin chairs praying that it wouldn't break as he was being served tea by the butler. He lifted the beautiful cup to his mouth and took a sip.
"Wow, this is really good!" he exclaimed. Mikoto looked at him with a slightly surprised look, and then smiled.
"I'm glad you like it, it is from our own plantation" she answered calmly.
"Really? Sasuke never told me you had your own tea plantation?" He looked at Sasuke who just kept sipping at his tea. Naruto could see the small, almost invisible frown of distaste on his face and laughed a little.
"There's a very nice tea shop and café close to the university, we go there all the time. Although, he only comes for the coffee" he said while nudging Sasuke in the ribs with his elbow. Sasuke graced him with a small irritated glare.
"Yes, well, Sasuke was never much of a tea person" Itachi flicked in, receiving Sasuke's second glare with an amused expression. Apparently Uchihas were allowed such expressions at home.
"It's lucky for me that he likes coffee though, he's such a horrible morning person before he gets it. And for some reason he's always forcing me to make it for him!" Now Sasuke was on the receiving end of an annoyed half-glare, which he ignored completely.
"You must make good coffee then."
It was Fugaku who suddenly opened his mouth, shocking Naruto with a compliment. Naruto scratched his neck, slightly blushing.
"Hehe, well, my godfather taught me lots about coffee" he said. And mentally added: And lots about alcohol and drinks. He didn't think the Uchihas would be impressed by such things though.
There was a lull in the conversation, when Sasuke surprisingly broke it.
"It's good" he said. When the others looked at him rather curiously, he added: "Naruto's coffee, I mean."
The rest of the Uchihas nodded, and Naruto looked down into his tea smiling to himself. Even if Sasuke only said it for the benefit of their charade, it was still nice to receive a compliment from the bastard. Those things were really rare, and usually hidden within insults.
"Well, I think it's nice to see that my dear Sasuke finally found a good friend, and hopefully even better fiancé!" Sasuke's grandmother said then.
Sasuke and Naruto stared at her. What did she mean by friend?
"Oh, don't look at me like that Sasuke dear, I know you two are much more than friends, but good marriages are based on friendship, not fleeting attraction. Let us discuss the marriage plans, shall we?"
And with that, she proceeded to tell her dear Sasuke and his supposed fiancé about the perfect wedding reception she had planned for them, asking questions now and then about their preferences and making small changes. It was all very confusing for Naruto, but he tried to follow as best he could. Sasuke seemed content to leave their opinions in Naruto's hands and barely said a word. He just glared at Itachi occasionally who looked as if he found all this extremely amusing.
So the Uchihas turned out to be nice people... maybe... so far at least! At least the grandmother is happy making plans... :p