A/N: Wow, wow, wow, would you look at that! Another story I probably won't finish for a very long time! Actually, that's a lie, I've got the first 3 chapters already on my computer. And they're all pretty short, about 4 to 5 pages each. This time however, they follow a pretty decent plotline! I think you'll actually enjoy this story, as it's a deviation from what I normally do. A reader told me she liked my characterization for Sasuke in The Reward of Hard Work, and honestly, I like him too. Sasuke may have been a brooding character, but the dude has smiled more than once in his lifetime.
So I decided to write another story with a Sasuke that had already dealt with all his bullshit and was now trying to move on with his life. Albeit, this Sasuke is a little more harsh, a little more wary of the world around him, but he's got a confidence that he wasn't capable of when he was angry and heartbroken and bitching over every little thing that went wrong. Also, he's a photographer.
So please, enjoy my new story - Viewfinder.
Chapter One: Broken Cameras Can Be Repaired
"Uchiha Sasuke, Uchiha Sasuke, please, stop and talk, just for a few moments! Just answer one question, please?"
Sasuke stopped, piercing the cameraman with a hard look. "I'm not exactly in the mood for this, if you hadn't noticed."
"Y-yeah, I can see that!" the cameraman seemed pleased enough to get a shot of him. Sasuke shifted his shopping bag to his other hand, uncomfortable in front of the camera after having spent so many years away from it. "I just wanted to ask you a question, you know, because nobody has seen you around for a while."
He glanced away, sighing. "This isn't going to be another, 'tell us why you left us' thing, is it? I'm tired of explaining my actions to everyone."
"No, nah man! I just wanted to know why you came back." The cameraman inched closer and Sasuke glanced away, giving the camera his profile. "I mean, you were gone for so long, nobody expected you to come back at all. A lot of people thought you had managed to find Itachi and were staying with him –"
"I wish," Sasuke muttered, shaking his head. "I came back because it was my responsibility. I fucked up, I had to make what I had done right." He waved the man off, turning on his heel. "You asked me for one question, I answered one question. I have places to be."
"Thanks man, I mean it! You look great, you know? I mean you came back all strung out and no one would think you'd recover, but you look great." The cameraman held his breath as Sasuke stopped mid-step. Slowly, he looked over his shoulder at the man, his charcoal-gray eyes dark and unreadable. The cameraman decided to press forward, saying in a cheerful tone, "A lot of people worried about you, man! Like the whole public was concerned you wouldn't get through detox."
Sasuke nodded slowly, still watching him. "It was... hard. Detoxing. But it was necessary for a full recovery." He turned back around just as slowly, his hands shoved into the pockets of his leather jacket, the small shopping bag swaying gently. "I need to get going. No more questions; I don't have anything else to say to you."
"Alright man, and thanks for the scoop!"
Naruto grinned brightly, watching as Sasuke approached his booth in the diner. "Hey, you bastard. You're late!"
"I wouldn't have been hadn't some guy with a camera stopped me." He emptied his pockets of a wallet and a pack of cigarettes with a sigh. "Shit – he spotted me so easily. Now they're gonna be all over my goddamn back. I shouldn't have said anything."
"Wait, you actually stopped to talk to the guy?" Naruto arched an eyebrow, not risking reaching for his coffee. As much as he enjoyed hot lattes, he always managed to burn his tongue, and he had learned to wait a few minutes longer than should have been necessary to let it cool down further. "I thought you didn't talk to people not in your innermost circle."
Sasuke shot him a glare, pulling money out of his wallet. "Whatever, idiot. I don't have to take your bullshit and you know I won't."
"Right, well. You want a slice of pie? Today's special is coconut cream and it is to die for. In fact..." He rubbed his hands together, licking his lips comically as a waitress placed a plate with pie and vanilla ice-cream in front of him. "I missed this from the states. Pie in Japan just isn't the same. But God, do they try." He sank his fork into the edge and succeeded in cutting a large piece for himself, immediately stuffing it into his mouth. "Oh, oh my God, Sasuke, this is delicious. It just melts in your mouth. It's so good –"
"I don't want any fucking pie, Naruto. I just want a coffee." Sasuke didn't bother to hid his disdain as Naruto took yet another large bit of the dessert, the waitress pouring him a cup of black coffee. "How can you eat that much sugar so early in the damn morning? It's barely even eleven."
"Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself, man." Naruto began on the ice-cream, scooping up bits of flaky crust as well. "But you'd know a lot about that, wouldn't you?"
Sasuke couldn't even tell if the comment was meant to be a dig at his drug abuse or if it was Naruto being a smart-ass, and he shrugged it off. He couldn't keep running from that part of his past any longer. Becoming a professional photographer at the age of nineteen had allowed him access to world most didn't normally transpire, and it had warped him, taken his innocent little heart and smashed into the ground. He had done the drugs, he had nearly killed himself on several occasions, and after three years of sobriety, he was finally managing to move on his with life. "Anyway, why did you call me out so early to pick up this damn thing?"
He placed the shopping bag on the table in front of Naruto."They didn't even question me coming to get it, and I'm sure the clerk in there hates me."
"That crazy redhead with the glasses, right?" Naruto laughed as he reached for his coffee. "Yeah, Karin is a piece of work. I once touched a plasma screen and she about bit my head off. But she knows what she's talking about. And she's got a real good eye for cameras." He jerked his chin toward the bag, grinning smugly. "Go ahead and unwrap your best present ever, courtesy of your best friend ever."
Sasuke furrowed his brow, pulling the bag back towards him and reaching inside. He felt his stomach pitch with shock as he retrieved a camera from inside. A Nikon D3100 to be exact – one of the best new cameras on the market today. He studied the camera in his hands, turning it over and over again, getting a feel for the device. Finally, he managed to meet Naruto's smug gaze, and couldn't contain his own smile. Years ago, he had sold his professional grade camera and most of lenses in attempt to cleanse himself off the past, a rather stupid move on his part, as he now had to snap pictures on an tiny little digital that did the subjects of his photos no justice.
Naruto sipped his latte contentedly. "Am I awesome, or am I awesome?"
"I wouldn't go that far. But you are pretty fucking good." Sasuke brought the camera up to his eye, viewing Naruto through the viewfinder.
Naruto propped his chin in his hand. "Okay, so now I have proposition for you."
"Oh, fuck me, how did I know." Sasuke lowered the camera with a sigh. "You bought me an expensive camera so you could ask me a favor? Why don't you just guilt-trip me like Sakura does?"
"Well, this favor involves that camera, you little shit." Naruto laughed as Sasuke scowled. "I want you to come teach a photography class at the Academy. I've been getting a lot of students asking specifically for photography classes, and I want someone I can trust. You're the best I know. Plus, my goddamn yearbook and journalists students would actually know what the fuck they were doing."
Sasuke glanced at the camera in his hands, frowning. "You want me to teach a class? Seriously?"
"I'm as serious as a heart attack." Naruto smiled warmly, watching as his friend struggled to find an excuse not to accept. "I know you've been dying to get back behind the lens. You're one of the best photographers of your generation, Sasuke, and it's a damn shame you haven't done it in so many years. Plus, I don't want to go out and find some uppity bastard with some pedigree to teach my kids. I want them to learn from a guy who gets into the nitty-gritty. You'd be a good teacher."
Sasuke sighed. "I'm not comfortable –"
"Aren't you supposed to be getting out of your comfort zone? Isn't that what the therapist said? It's been three years, Sasuke. You aren't that guy from before. You've been through all the bullshit. Now you can just enjoy taking pictures – and help kids appreciate the beauty in the real world."
Sasuke frowned. "There's no beauty in the reality, Naruto. I took pictures to show that off."
"And you were damn good. Teach these kids how to do the same." He sipped his coffee, looking very much like his official self. "Look, just mull it over, alright? The job is yours if you really want it. And I know you aren't exactly hurting for money, but this will do you some good. The kids in the Academy are some of the best and brightest – I like to surround them with people who will actually help them survive in this big, bad world. You yourself know exactly how bad it can get. So please, think about it. You aren't a bad guy – you just made some really fucked up decisions. And you're trying to move past that."
Sasuke eyed him. "You aren't just saying this so you and Sakura can keep a closer eye on me, right?"
"What the hell do you think I am – your mom?" Naruto shook his head, sighing. "No, you bastard, I've got better things to do than worry if you're wearing the same pants you wore yesterday. That's more Sakura's schtick. I just want you were I can I show off my amazing leadership skills."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "How did you even become dean of such a prestigious fucking school. You hated school."
"Not true! I hated having to sit still for hours at a time! I liked what I learned – I just hated having to sit still to get it!"
"Are you sure you don't have ADHD, because that was about the shittiest excuse for hyperactivity I've ever heard."
Naruto glowered at him. "Hey, goddammit, I do not have attention deficient disorder! And I'll have you know that I do have students who have ADHD and school is a real struggle for them, despite wanting to learn all they can!" He folded his arms, looking down his nose as Sasuke, who still appeared unimpressed. "And as Dean, I don't teach classes; I just make important decisions about what happens in the school."
"But you were a substitute teacher for a long time before you even got the job." Sasuke smirked as Naruto dropped his haughty expression for a loud groan. "You didn't even make it to full-time teacher status, did you?"
"Look, Tsunade-baachan stressed that I do the six years of teaching before I got to take her position. She didn't say I had to do them well!" He pouted, propping his chin his head. "And I was one of the coolest fucking teachers around, so I don't see what the goddamn problem was."
"How about the fact that you were a substitute teacher for six years and just barely made your teaching certificate?" Sasuke arched an eyebrow. "And now you're coming to me, someone who isn't even licensed to do something like that, to help teach a school full of kids how to aim and shoot."
"You make it sound a lot worse than it is," Naruto grumbled. "Whatever, I don't think you need a certificate to teach the kind of class you're teaching –"
"I think you need a certificate to even think of stepping into a school for educational purposes, idiot –"
"Don't fucking fight me on this!" Naruto snapped, slapping his hand on the table. "Quit bitching and either tell me yes or no! I'm tired of playing twenty fucking questions with you, Sasuke! Either say no and enjoy your new goddamn camera, or say yes and do something productive for the first time in three fucking years!"
Sasuke tensed, then sneered, his dark eyes piercing straight through the already apologetic blond. "Fuck you, asshole. I think my managing to stay sober through all shit storms I've endured is pretty fucking productive."
"L-look man, I didn't mean that just now. I just lost my temper." Naruto raked his fingers through his short blond hair, shaking his head. "I'm really sorry, Sasuke. I lost myself. I just... I really want you to teach the class."
"I can fucking tell." Sasuke glanced at the camera in his hands. "Will you finally shut up and leave me the hell alone if I say yes?"
"All I want is a yes from you."
"And I won't need to take a teaching course or whatever to do it?"
"You won't even need a certificate."
Sasuke sighed, frowning. "I don't know why I agree to these half-cocked plan of yours, but yeah. I'll teach the fucking class." He placed the camera delicately back in the bag, frowning. "You're lucky I still have a few of my filters and lenses. But for the class, you're probably going to need to order a class set of the latest photoshop program, preferably something that focuses more on photography than artistry. And I don't want to spend all fucking day at school, dealing with kids, or big classes, or any fucking fangirls for the love of God. I'm way too old to be dealing with some teenage girls who are too busy staring at my ass to pay attention in my class."
Naruto snickered. "Ah, I remember those days, when girls couldn't get enough of you. But I was the one who had all your love. Was our first kiss as wonderful as I remember it to be?"
Sasuke lifted his middle finger to the laughing blond, sipping from his lukewarm cup of coffee. He had never stated that Naruto was his first kiss, and he would never tell if Naruto was. When they were kids, Naruto had tried desperately not to let anyone bring up the memory of their kiss, which had happened at the beginning of their high school careers. Now, however, he seemed to be comfortable with that bought of homosexuality. Sasuke almost worried his friend was going to turn completely gay some day, but Jiraya had apparently ingrained enough love of the female form to turn Naruto off dicks not his own.
Naruto glanced at his watch and grimaced. "Okay, so I'm officially late for a meeting now. Stop by my office around three today, and we'll set everything up then." He slid out of the booth, and patted Sasuke's shoulder with a enthusiastic grin. "And don't sweat it. I know you'll do great."
Sasuke grunted, slumping forward in his seat to stare into his coffee. A photography class – a real, live actual class of students who were depending him to show them something useful. He shook his head, sighing softly. He didn't know the first time about teaching a room full of hormonally-charged teenagers how to do anything. Just what had he gotten himself into...
A/N: Welp, one chapter down, an unknown amount of chapters to go! Super fun, super cool, right? Who'd have thunk Sasuke would be such a troubled young man, what with that handsome face, the drugs... the dead family... Alrighty then, moving on! Whew, we sure had some fun today! You found out Sasuke was a one-time drug user and was now 3 years sober, after becoming a professional photographer at the age of 19, you found out Naruto is the dean of an academy, the prestigious Konohagakure Academy of gifted youth or whatever (I'll come up with an official name later) and you found out Sakura guilt trips Sasuke into behaving! Wow, lots of information, right?
I promise there will be more in the next chapter! Like maybe a love interest, hon hon hon *wiggles eyebrows seductively* And of course, I'll be introducing a lot of new characters to the story. None of them will be OC, so enjoy watching as your favorite peeps pop up now and again. I hope you enjoyed this little ditty, and stick around for even more! Keep dreaming ~ A Dreamer Always