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Rhye_Meow

~FIX YOU~ Uchiha Itachi X Uzumaki Naruto [NARUTO]

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Rhye_Meow

Summary:

 

Naruto knew the inevitable end; Sasuke and him were never meant to be.. A story of moving on, struggling to live again when the life you planned out came crashing down, all in one night.

Notes:

 

Warnings: PLEASE READ THE WARNINGS!

 

This story contains MPREG.

 

In this AU, male pregnancy is risky, hence not common. Please keep an open mind. Slow-burn, mutual pining, mentions of abortion, attempted rape, mental health issues, suicide, depression, unresolved sexual tension, unresolved romantic tension, controversial issues, family problems, angst, hurt and comfort, swearing [a lot of it], gay sex, casual sex, characters basically licking each others wound, polyamory, OOC[ish], long chapters, not beta read - please forgive the mistakes! every chapter was inspired with song/s.

 

ITANARU, former SASUNARU

 

THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NO CHARACTER BASHING HERE! they all have issues and problems to bear.

 


Chapter 1: Fall out

 

 

 

 

~I know you're fine but what do I do?

 

I'm awake, and trying

 

While you're sleeping like a babe

 

Beside him

 

I'm on the ledge while you're so

 

God damn polite and composed

 

And I know you see me,

 

And you're making it look so easy

 

What comes and goes,

 

I'd go without

 

I know you're fine but what about

 

(Fallout), Fallout (fallout), fallout (fallout), fallout

 

Through the Fallout

 

(Fallout), Fallout (fallout), fallout (fallout)

 

You're the fallout~

 

~0~

 

 

Naruto got out of the bed one morning, feeling the cold on his feet. Just a few minutes ago, his lover was still beside him. That guy always wakes up earlier before him and must've forgotten to cover the blond's feet like he used to. Then again, his lover rarely do the things he used to do for and to Naruto anymore.

 

They both know they were headed to an inevitable end.

 

With heavy body, Naruto dragged himself out of slumber and stretched a bit. The clock said it was 8:05 am. He snorted. That was a record today, Sasuke got up and left earlier than the other days. Nothing new, Naruto said to himself.

 

As he was headed to take a shower, he tried his best not to look at his reflection. He felt so ugly, dirty even. He guessed that this was the depression acting up. Pills these days doesn't work for the blond like they used to. Then again, his doctor also said it's important for him to pick up a hobby or have someone to talk to. He doesn't have those. His life revolved around Sasuke, it made him smile and sad at the same time after he realized that.

 

Turning the knobs of the shower, he tested the water a few times, trying to get the right temperature. After a few minutes of rinsing himself, he grabbed the shampoo bottle and quickly worked his way and do punishing scrubs over his scalp. The stress these past months that'd itching through him, somehow manifested on his hair. The shiny blond locks now lack its luster, underneath also had patches of bald spots. "Damn, I need to buy new conditioner. The old one doesn't work anymore!" Naruto cried out.

 

After he was done with what seemed like a blur of moment, he got out of the shower, still refusing to look at the mirror. Getting dressed was swift too. It was not like there was anything new to his ensemble. Just a pair of pants, a shirt he grabbed in haste and a cream colored tailored jacket. He matched it with the same sneakers he wore everyday.

 

Same old thing.

 

He went back to the bedroom, checking if he needed to charge his phone. He didn't.

 

He grabbed his toothbrush, he cleaned his teeth using the kitchen sink. 'Gross, I know. It's easier this way'. He thought.

 

After he felt like he was already clean enough, he grabbed the things he needed. He doesn't have a class today, thankfully. He asked himself what to do? Where to go?

 

He felt his phone vibrated, looking at the screen, a frown crept his face.

 

"What do you want?" he asked as he called Sasuke liked the man asked.

"I was thinking of asking you if you want to have dinner together. I think I can come home tonight," he said, sounding apologetic. He often sound apologetic these days, Naruto thought.

 

The man sighed, "Sure. Usual place?"

 

"Yeah! What're you going to do today? I'll come pick you up if you want.."

 

The bastard sounded cheerful now. Somehow it made Naruto a bit happier as well, "Well, I think I'll go head over to Gaara. See if he wants to hang out."

 

At the mention of the red haired male's name, Sasuke always expresses his anger, irritation, and open hate for the man. Lately, he doesn't anymore. Naruto felt Sasuke restrained himself for doing so, because he felt he has no right. That saddened Naruto even more.

 

"Okay. Send me a message then... See you..." was the standard reply Naruto had just as he expected.

 

Naruto heaved a long suffering sigh before he moved on to start his day.

 

He grabbed his keys and went straight to Gaara's place, reaching it by foot under 45 minutes. It was not really that far, Naruto just felt like walking leisurely. He spent whole 15 minutes at a convenience store too, picking up random snacks for the redhead. Gaara would expect Naruto to bring some if the blond planned on staying at his place.

 

Naruto often finds himself running towards the place, lounging at his said best friend's living room while Gaara snores peacefully till late afternoon. Lucky, Gaara was nice enough to give him the spare key. Naruto knew Gaara most likely just didn't want to be disturbed during his precious rest. After all, he was a bit of nocturnal, sleeping when the sun rises. Though Naruto don't mind. Gaara's place, though messy, offered some kind of sanctuary for the blond. This place has been his 'go to' whenever the situation with his Sasuke got so suffocating.

 

He paused for a while as he dropped the bags of snacks on top of Gaara's kitchen counter, seeing Gaara's place was dirty, he deduced Gaara's boyfriend - Neji, didn't come last night. He sighed, he wondered how in the hell could Neji put up with such mess.

 

"Guess that's love for 'yah.." he said and a frowned once again found its way on his face. He wondered if he can call Sasuke his boyfriend out loud without feeling the bile rising from his throat. Naruto shook his head and smiled bitterly. He doubt he still could.

 

He swatted a few wrappers of potato chips to the floor and invaded Gaara's living room, flipping through the channels mindlessly and stared at the flickering TV screen without having the image register. He admitted, he slowly withered away.

'If a love can't move forward and grow, isn't it about time to let things go?'

'No. No, no. I can't. I admit that I can't! I love Sasuke too much, I mean I've been with the bastard since I learned how to walk? How can I leave him?'

 

Naruto started his inner monologue again.

 

'Am I being selfish? I don't think I am. Even Sasuke continues to cling to our relationship. He loves me, despite everything. Sure, things this time 'round were tense, and probably wouldn't be settled until Sakura gives birth.'

 

'How long do I have to wait? Three months? Two? I lost count.'

 

"Heh..." a dry laughed caught his throat. 'Who am I kidding? I know exactly how far long is she.'

A little over 29 weeks.

 

"Oh, hey. How long have you been here?" a voice stopped Naruto's stupor. Gaara's hair was wet, having a small towel wrap over his shoulders. He wore khaki colored shorts and blue T-shirt that says 'Hug me'. Naruto smiled remembering he was the one who gave it to the redhead as Christmas gift last year.

 

"I didn't hear anything.. How long have you been in the showers?" Naruto asked and Gaara answered him, though he wasn't listening and absentmindedly gave Gaara a noncommittal hum as answer. He felt so drained to even let his brain process basic language.

 

"..you brought too many snacks," Gaara said as he checked the contents of the plastic bags littered on top of his kitchen counter.

 

"Gaara.. what do I do? I'm not happy about this anymore.."

 

The look from Gaara's face said he was shocked with Naruto's question. Naruto too, was shocked about what he just blurted out. He didn't mean to, it was just things like this slipped his mind and mouth. He guessed his cup was full.

 

"This is the first time you're willing to talk about it. I'll listen, go on." the redhead opened up and bag of chips and popped up a few in his mouth, looking at the blond seated at his sofa.

'What's this? He's willing to listen calmly? Alright, that's new. Maybe the new potato chip flavor is working. Though I doubt it's a good thing to eat for breakfast, or meal replacement for that matter.'

 

The offer was tempting for Naruto. Oh, so tempting. He shook his head for a second. He was ready to tell this for a while but didn't know how and when to start. He was ashamed, to be honest. No one wants to exposed your dirty laundry to other people, no matter how much you trust them. Little part of yourself still wanted to hold on to your pride. Since this is Gaara, he decided to cave. He yearned for someone to talk to anyways. Very few of their friends knew about Sasuke's and Naruto's situation, and Naruto's sure Gaara would want the whole details.

 

"I guess I'm ready to talk.. Sit with me? Grab some drinks." he said which Gaara agreed and brought the plastic with the canned iced tea and sat beside Naruto. The freshly showered man smelled like the shampoo Naruto recommended last week. Somehow that made Naruto happy.

 

"So?"

 

"Ah, yes. Well, you know Sasuke is married to Haruno Sakura now, right?"

 

He saw Gaara's lips twitched. The redhead really wasn't happy with Sasuke ever since, especially with the recent happenings.

 

"We all do," he answered with a taste of disgust in his tone. He was right, all of their friends⁠?Sasuke's included⁠?knew that.

 

"Well.. few months ago, Sasuke and I fought at that drinking party Ino hosted? I went home before him because I was pissed. I heard he continued drinking and stayed there that night..."

 

Gaara saw that this was hard for Naruto, so being the sweetheart that he is, he opened up the drink for his friend and let Naruto compose himself, waiting patiently for man to continue.

 

"The next day, Sasuke and Sakura found themselves naked and sleeping in Ino's spare bedroom. They already deduced what happened from the condition they were in. That afternoon, Sasuke came home with Sakura and came to grovel at my feet. Apologizing nonstop. Fucks sakes!" Naruto groaned and continued.

 

"They told me what happened was an accident! A drunken haze? They weren't even aware of what they did? Hah! Though.. that part was a lie and I know it was.. I mean," Naruto could not even finish that and skipped the part where he punched Sasuke and slapped Sakura silly.

 

"I went to our room, ready to leave the house and packed my bags and all. I don't wanna even look at his face! I mean, this is Sakura! She's our friend! Damn! You know what? I was ready and packed my things, yeah?" Naruto looked at Gaara's face, the blond used his hand with his animated story telling⁠?and Gaara thought he was kinda cute. He wouldn't say it to Naruto's face though, so he kept his usual stoic expression. Naruto continued after Gaara nodded.

 

"I'm moving the fuck away from there! Then teme hugged me with all his might, he was ready to trap me there! We had a screaming match, he let me beat him black and blue, we cried and broke down."

 

'Geez, this is fucking hard to do.' Naruto said to himself and he wiped a rouge tear he tried so hard suppress.

 

"Are you sure you can continue?" Gaara asked, stroking Naruto's scarred cheeks. Naruto smiled at Gaara for a second, he was glad Gaara's a sweetheart..

 

"Yeah," he nodded. Continuing, "The weakling that I am, I decided to forgive them, though after that, things got a little weird. Sasuke, the bastard, became cold after three weeks. He looked like he was hiding something from me and whenever we're alone, He looked and acted like he was guilty from something.."

 

"That's when you guys knew Sakura was pregnant?" Gaara asked. Naruto nodded and gripped the iced tea now going warm.

 

"We three talked and decided that Sakura will give birth to the baby and asked us to be involve with the child's life. She knew we both love each other and she wasn't going to be in the middle of that. Who would?! Sakura has been our friend since forever! She knew how long Sasuke and I been dating!"

 

The fake smile Naruto wore crumbled. He felt his chest tightened, but guessed he needed to let this out of his system. It was slowly eating away his soul for months and it wouldn't be good to let this go on.

 

"That sounded like a good plan, right? Since I don't want to carry Sasuke's kids. You know very well how dangerous it is for males to carry babies. Only 1 out 10 survives. Sasuke doesn't want that too. Sakura's baby was the only chance we have to have a child in our lives.."

 

Naruto coughed a bit and felt the burn inside. Gaara wrapped his arm around his friend's shoulder, and with his free hand, wiped the tears that trickled down those scarred cheeks Naruto has.

 

'Embarrassing...'

 

"Then Sasuke's parents heard the news. Though they knew our relationship, guess they were blinded by the fact that Sasuke can have a chance of a regular family. Sakura? She? She's from a family with businesses and all that shit.. What about me? Who am I? A fucking orphan.. poor grades and shit..." Naruto let out a choked sob, "What about me?!" Gaara rocked him back and forth, while he let Naruto say what he needed to let out.

 

"We three talked again, Sasuke decided to marry her and he will come home to our place. He'll only to come to Sakura's when the in-laws visits on weekends, or whenever he needed appearances."

 

"Huh?" Gaara let go of the blond for a second to look at him, "You allowed that to happened? Why didn't you just let him go? Isn't that the easiest?"

 

"What you say made sense! I know it does!" Naruto cried out. "But Sasuke is mine! As long as he too, doesn't want to let go, then I won't! His marriage is just an appearance! He still comes home to me..." he moaned the last part out of his quivering mouth. That sounded desperate, as if he was convincing himself, seeking comfort from the truth he deluded himself to have.

 

There was silence between the two. After a few minutes, Naruto let out the thing that has been hurting him.

 

"Lately, Sasuke looks tired. He looks guilty. Whenever he kiss and made loved to me, he has this sad eyes. Whenever his phone rings and Sakura's name pops up, he grovel? Yes! Fucking kneels and all, asking for forgiveness because his wife needs him!" he almost spit those words up. That was the hardest thing he had to admit that it took all of him. He knew Gaara would not judge, but it still hurt his ego.

 

Another uncomfortable silence, then Gaara decided to puncture that, "Naruto, you already know what you have to do, right?"

 

"Yeah.. That's the sad part." he smiled while he pursed his lips. 'Raising a kid with all three of us? How idealistic!" A sob still escaped despite his efforts to control himself.

 

.

 

It was seven in the evening and the lovers were currently enjoying the appetizer that was served to them. Naruto admitted this was a pleasant ambiance. How long has it been since they were out like this? He already forgot. Weekends were spent with Sakura and those were only the days Naruto was free. He's still in school finishing up college, unlike Sasuke who already had his Bachelors degree. He belongs to the Uchiha Corp. a big shot company. Studying the ways of the company was the only thing he needed to learn. The degree was basically a formality; Sasuke has always been set from the day he was born.

 

The Uchiha were kind people, Naruto couldn't complain. Sasuke's parents and older brother adored him. They were equally broken and saddened by the news that Sasuke cheated on him. The Uchiha parents' gave Sasuke a stern scolding and Mikoto was kind enough to visit their home and cooked for Naruto his favorite Ramen. Winds changed, however, when news of their grandchild landed their ears. Though they pity Naruto, Sakura holds their vote. She, after all, was carrying an Uchiha heir.

 

Sure, there's Itachi⁠?Sasuke's older brother⁠?who can produce kids as well. Though they weren't expecting much from him. He was broken and gave up on love years ago after he lost his lover. Naruto didn't asked much details, but he got an idea that it was Shisui: their cousin and closest person to Itachi.

 

There was also the fact that the Uchiha never dishonor their family that was why Fugaku asked their youngest to marry Sakura. Sasuke knocking-up someone and doesn't take responsibility? It was inexcusable, unheard off, and just damn looked down upon.

 

"Yeah.. I guess that's how it should be.." Naruto muttered, resting his soup spoon.

 

"Excuse me?" Sasuke asked, raising an elegant, ebony eyebrow. His eyes always on Naruto, gauging the blond's expression. He knew Naruto went to the doctor for his anxiety and panic attacks. He also saw some new pills on their medicine cabinet. He asked his brother to check what was that for and found out it was an anti-depressant pill. Sasuke didn't like how this situation was straining his ever sunny beloved. He couldn't be more sorry for causing the man grief.

 

"hmm.." Naruto shook his head, eyes darted towards the waiter approaching them, ready to serve the main course.

 

The raven haired had no choice but to let Naruto be. He doesn't want to pressure him more than he should. Whenever he pressed the wrong button, Naruto ends up having his attacks and Sasuke's soul was ripped in pieces every time. It was3 as if he was afraid to even touch the blond without fearing the man would explode on him.

 

Sasuke's physically, emotional, and mentally tired as well.

 

.

 

Naruto looked at raven haired man in front of him, the usual flawless skin Sasuke has was now blemished by eye bags, ruining his face. His complexion was paler than the usual. Naruto was sure Sasuke wasn't sleeping well, especially when he was forced to share Sakura's bed. Naruto knew at some degree that Sakura loves Sasuke, but Sasuke loves him, not her. Above all the crazy things that has happened between them, Naruto was sure that Sasuke's heart belongs to him and no one else.

 

'Not for long though.' Naruto thought when his mind wandered to the unborn child, soon making Sasuke happy. He can't helped but laugh... He was this man's lover since middle school. Now he was reduced to be the paramour.

 

"What is it, dobe?" Sasuke asked, his tone has a color of annoyance in it.

 

"Sasuke, I'm tired.." he said in a raspy voice. True to what Naruto said, Sasuke saw Naruto's eyes detached and half-lidded.

 

"Okay, I'll bill out..." Naruto only gazed at the wall behind Sasuke, chin rested on his wrist. Even though Sasuke wanted to ask what was the Naruto's problem, he knew he shouldn't. It was obvious this was all too much for his beloved.

 

After they settled their bill, Sasuke silently escorted Naruto to their car, he opened the door for him like he usually do whenever Naruto is in the mood to be treated as a princess. Though, the Naruto now just wanted to get home and rest. He cried so much earlier that his energy was drained.

 

When they reached their home, Sasuke took a quick shower. After he was done, he saw Naruto already covered himself under the duvet, resting on their bed. He sat besides the blond and ran his hand through those silky locks. "Naruto, why don't you take a shower?"

 

"I'm tired." was all the reply he received. Sasuke can't helped but sigh. He let Naruto do as he pleased, hoping his lover would adjust to the situation soon.

 

"It's weekend, aren't you going to sleep at Sakura's place?" Naruto asked surprising Sasuke.

 

"Well.. there were complications.. You don't want me to sleep here?" Sasuke leaned down and kissed Naruto's shoulder that was exposed from the covers.

 

Naruto sat straight and frowned, "Stop that!" he raised his voice that scared Sasuke for a moment.

 

"Stop what?" he hissed back. Sasuke didn't like how this looked like it was going to be another fight.

 

"Stop hiding things from me! Didn't we already agreed we three are going to raise the kid?! So tell me, why the fuck are you hiding things? Tell me! Tell me how her check-up goes, how's the kid? What's happening now?! I don't have a fucking clue!"

 

By the time Naruto was done with his outburst, he was panting heavier and he was rubbing his chest vigorously. Sasuke panicked for a second before he decided to turn on the lights, temporary blinding Naruto. He ran to the kitchen to fetch water and let Naruto took few big gulps.

 

"I understand.. I'm sorry.." Sasuke said.

 

After Naruto calmed down, with a little help of Sasuke massaging the man's chest and letting him lie down, Sasuke started.

 

"Sakura, she.. she said she changed her mind about allowing you to be part of us. She said she loves and me and tried to convince me that it would be best for us to start a real family. I don't want to stay there, so I asked her to calm a bit. It was probably the hormones talking.."

 

"Haha!" Naruto laughed and covered his eyes with his right forearm while his left hand clenched the sheets. Sasuke saw the tears streaming down the sides of Naruto's temples. It was wetting the pillow covers as well. Grabbing the blond's arm, he yanked it out of the man's face. Wanting to see the Naruto's face.

 

What he saw broke his heart. The blue orbs that were warmly greeting him with shine whenever he comes home all tired from the days' weary, were now broken and hurt.

 

"Naruto, what do I do, baby? Tell me," Sasuke buried his face on the blond's neck.

 

"I don't fucking know, Sasuke!" Naruto hissed back. He tried to pushed Sasuke off the bed, he was not in the mood for him, but the raven was relentless. Amidst Naruto's muffled sobs, Sasuke showered him with apologies, and promising that everything would be alright soon. The kisses Sasuke gave him felt desperate and hungry that Naruto couldn't helped but give in.

 

It was far too long since he felt that hungry kiss.

 

"Mhm," a moaned escaped Naruto's throat as Sasuke pushed his tongue inside the blond's mouth while he pressed the blond's chin to force the man in opening his mouth. Naruto welcomed it after a few seconds, making Sasuke release his hold⁠?battling tongues inside. The kiss was not sweet, romantic or anything like they used to do. It was lonely, impatiently; trying to fix the gap that has wormed its way between them.

 

Sasuke's slowly made his way on top of the blond, separating his lover's legs and situating himself between them. He caressed Naruto's thigh while the man under him writhe. The moans became louder when he started to assault Naruto's nipples, palming one while he nibbled on the other.

 

Naruto's tanned hand ran through Sasuke's midnight locks, bucking his hips, needing the friction between them. He was not disappointed when Sasuke started dry humping him, slowly rubbing their growing erections pressed together.

 

"Naruto.. I love you so much.." was whispered to Naruto and the latter can't helped but shiver. Damn he missed this so much, he needed Sasuke so much.

 

Sasuke littered his neck with kisses, sucking and biting in between. They continued to rub each other, feeling the friction and hot breaths in each others' skin.

 

Naruto's hands worked its way under Sasuke's shirt, already ready to remove the offending clothes between them, when he was stopped and startled by a knocked on their door.

 

"Open up, Sasuke!"

 

They recognized the voice, it was from Itachi.

 

The lovers stopped what they were doing and hastily tidied themselves, before Sasuke answered the door nervously. Naruto lingered behind.

 

Knowing Itachi, this must be serious, for the said older Uchiha never visits without purpose. He's a busy man after all.

 

"Wh-what is it, nii-san?"

 

"It's Sakura, she's in labor.. We've been calling you, but you turned off you phone and I don't have Naruto-kun's number as well." Itachi said with his cold, seemingly uncaring voice. His ebony eyes darted a glance towards Naruto and nodded once. Even his greetings were short and cold that Naruto was used to it. He knew Itachi is a good man, and always placed his brother's happiness over his. His attitude doesn't bother Naruto.. he was used to the Uchiha brothers answering with nods or 'Hn,' after all.

 

"I...I'm..." Sasuke stuttered and Naruto slapped his lover's shoulder a bit harder than he intended to, causing his palm to stung.

 

"Calm down, teme! Go and change clothes, now! Bring your IDs with you!" Naruto yelled and Sasuke blinked once before he left in a hurry to get changed.

 

"Naruto-kun, our parents' aren't here, so you can come if you want to. I know your arrangement with Haruno-san. I'm sure Sasuke would like you to come as well," Itachi said that caught Naruto by surprised.

 

"Thank you," Naruto really wanted to come, and he was glad Itachi understood their situation. He also appreciates the fact that Itachi addresses Sakura as 'Haruno-san' even if this was only done whenever they were alone. This still means so much to Naruto. It made him feel Itachi was his supporter, and not on Sakura's side. Though there wasn't a competition to begin with.

 

Not a moment too soon, Naruto and Sasuke was dressed and ready to go to the hospital.

 

Itachi gave them a ride; the two passenger were nervous and fidgety all throughout their short journey. When they reached the hospital, Sasuke and Naruto stormed inside, leaving Itachi to look for parking.

 

"Uchiha Sakura, where is she?" Sasuke asked the receptionist, still trying to catch his breath.

 

"And you are?" the nurse asked while she looked for the information asked.

 

"Uchiha Sasuke, she's my wi..wife.." Sasuke stumbled over the words, and Naruto behind him turned his gaze away. He bled every time he heard that word.

 

"She's still in delivery, she had preeclampsia. The doctors had no choice but to do a Caesarian operation on her. Please go to left and wait outside Delivery Operating room: A." She handed Sasuke some information slip he needed to sign - and soon Itachi was behind them, making calls. It seemed like Sakura's condition was worse than they thought it would be.

 

They were silent for a while, Sasuke tapping his foot while Naruto bit his finger nails. Naruto was genuinely worried for Sakura and her daughter. Despite everything, he also loves the pink-haired woman.

 

Sakura was somewhat a part of Naruto's life before this whole thing with Sasuke. She was one of his close friends, taught him many things at school, protect him from bullies, ate lunch at school together. They laughed and cried over silly things. They fought and made up; they were friends. What hurts Naruto too, was the fact that he really can't hate Sakura. Even though she seemed brash, she is a sweet and caring girl. Often misunderstood because she has a bit of temper.

 

Naruto knew Sakura loves Sasuke.

 

Then again, he really can't blame Sakura for loving Sasuke. He's a bastard, but an easy to love one once you get to know him. That, and there's also the fact that being a mother to a child while you have to see your husband goes home to someone else must hurt like hell, too. Naruto sighed. All four of them, the kid included, were really unfortunate. No matter what they do, they would end up hurting everyone else.

 

They were quiet for a while, waiting on the news when Itachi tapped his shoulder and gave him a cup of coffee, the same one Sasuke has. Naruto thanked him and they seated together, while Sasuke paced the floor.

 

Sakura's parents together with the Uchiha elders were out for a short vacation when she called Itachi. She was throwing up that afternoon, and was emotional when Sasuke said he needed to spend time with Naruto, for the said man was having a hard time. Little did they know that she was suffering from high blood pressure that'd caused her status now. She was losing proteins by the minute from throwing it up and peeing it. Lucky, she was well enough to call Itachi and he immediately went to her place to rushed her to the ER.

 

It was understandable that Sasuke feels guilty.

 

After a few hours, the doctors stepped outside the ER carting a very tiny, pale, baby girl being pumped with ambu bag. She can't breathe on her own, for her lungs was still weak.

 

"Oh, God." Sasuke gasped. In pain as they followed the cart in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

 

They were asked to wait outside, for they carried germs. Hurting as they did, for they can see⁠?from the glass window⁠?the doctors attached tubes on the baby's feet. She was really small, and scary tiny; being under-develop. She needed to stay in the incubators to mature herself, immediate concerns for her lungs.

 

Sasuke broke down. He felt the pain, saying his 'if only's' like a prayer, while he stared at his daughter. His tiny, weak looking baby girl.

 

All the while, Naruto stood back and cried behind. Itachi rubbing the said blond's shoulder for comfort.

 

.

 

Few hours later, they were allowed to see Sakura. They were broken too, when they saw her.

 

She was pale, her eyes had dark circles over it. She has oxygen tubes wrapped around her ears and stuck on her nose. She's thin, scary thin. Naruto had no idea she looked like this.

 

All this time he thought he was the only one suffering. He couldn't be so wrong.

 

"Sa.." Sakura opened her eyes and saw Sasuke and Naruto together, she gasped and started crying as well.

 

"I'm so sorry. I'm sorry, Sakura-chan.." Naruto grabbed her hand and kissed it as he wailed.

 

"Naru.." she was overwhelmed. It has been a while since she was called 'Sakura-chan' by Naruto, she admitted it was rather lonely to be called 'Sakura' by his blond friend.

 

There were tears of joy, and sadness in that room. All three knew where they were headed now, but can't put it in words. Sasuke was the one being affected the most. He knew the moment Naruto kissed Sakura's hand was the moment he lost his beloved.

 

Naruto had given him his unwanted freedom.

 

"Nii-san..." he called to his brother while the two Uchihas' left Sakura and Naruto to talk.

 

"Yes?" Itachi said, looking over his exhausted little brother with eyes that were, surprisingly, softer. Uncharacteristic of the older brother.

 

"Please, look after Naruto while I look after my family. He needs someone to be with him.." Sasuke said with a sob. It was killing him too, but his girls needed him. Sadly, he can't really juggle two lives together, now he knew. He needed to do what was right for the sake of their sanity.

 

"Alright," Itachi said as he let Sasuke used his shoulder to release his anguish.

 

Today, life has not been kind to four lives that revolved around Itachi. At least, he can offer a little bit of help.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

a/n;

 

 

song is Fall out by Marianas Trench.

 

note of interest: Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure had been normal. Even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia.

 

signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include:

 

-Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problem, Severe headached, Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity, Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side, Nausea or vomiting, Decreased urine output, Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia), impaired liver function, Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs

 

source: mayoclinic.org

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 2: With or Without you

 

 

 

 

 

~Through the storm we reach the shore

 

You gave it all but I want more

 

And I'm waiting for you

 

With or without you

 

With or without you

 

I can't live

 

With or without you

 

And you give yourself away

 

And you give yourself away

 

And you give

 

And you give

 

And you give yourself away~

~o~

 

 

 

The problem in being together with someone for so long is that you don't know how to function without them. That certainly was the problem with Naruto.

 

He stopped moving forward the day he decided to end it with Sasuke.

 

It has been exactly two weeks since that night at the hospital. For the sake of everybody, Naruto decided to gave his love up. He knew Sasuke would choose him if ever he ask for it, which was why he never did. The minute Naruto saw how torn Sasuke was?seeing his daughter struggling to live, Sakura deadly pale, thin, stressed out and suffering too?forcing to continue with their relationship would break them all down. He wasn't that heartless.

 

Naruto knew he would be unhappy for the rest of his life while he ask for whatever morsel of time he can have with the man. He won't be satisfied with that either.

 

There's also the little girl; how the hell was he supposed to compete with Sasuke's wife when he has nothing, while Sakura offers him a family? Naruto dreaded the day that Sasuke would leave him on his own. Call it pettiness, Naruto would rather be the one who leaves, rather than the other way around.

 


 

"Done with thesis?" a cold hand patted his back while his mind wandered again with the 'what went wrong?' lamenting.

 

"Hey.." Naruto gave a weak smile to his Professor, Iruka. "Yeah, done. I was about to have you check it out.. Have the time?" he asked the brunette and the said man pulled a chair beside him while he studied Naruto's face. Worry evident on the man's eyes which somehow comforted Naruto.

 

"Give it here, I'll check it out this afternoon," which Naruto did and gave the data to his godfather and Professor.

 

Throughout the University, the gossips never died down around the blond. They were confused as to why Sasuke married someone and that someone was not Naruto. Some of the jealous ones stated their relief; they were not pleased with Sasuke having Naruto as his lover. The couple, in which Naruto admitted himself, were hated because Sasuke would not shut up and chill, showing how possessive he was over the blond. That ruffled some feathers in the past.

 

News spread like wild fire when Sasuke stopped picking up Naruto, and the said blond was pedaling his bike to the University instead of being ferried by Sasuke's expensive car. Of course Naruto's closest friends already graduated last year, so he had no choice but to tough it out and let the people talk behind his back as they pleased.

 

It didn't mean their words did not affect him, though. It surely did.

 

"Naruto, why don't we have lunch toge-

 

"Iruka-sensei," Naruto interjected. "I'm going home for today, my classes already ended. Please let me know if I needed to revise my thesis.. you know where to call," he gave the older male a smile and gathered his things.

 

"O-Okay. See you Naruto. Make sure you rest, your face is so pale." the blond nodded to him as a reply.

 

As Naruto stalked out of the library, Iruka saw some of the girls pointed and whispered to each other. He wanted to go over and ask them what was their problem, but he was caught by the arm by his Colleague and lover, Kakashi.

 

"Let them, it'll cause Naruto more problems if we interfere. Just look out for the kid, 'kay?" the eye that wasn't covered with mask or hair showed indication that Kakashi was not happy with the situation as well. Sasuke and Naruto were practically their sons, for they'd lived near them. They grew knowing the two and were so sure they would spend their lives together.

 

Needless to say, the couple were equally torn and disappointed as well.

 

.

 

Days like today dragged as usual; Naruto moping around their house, him going back and forth ? wondering if he should call Sasuke and ask how's everything.

 

He knew he ended it himself, but if he was being honest, he was definitely regretting it. He clearly loves Sasuke. Losing him was equal to him losing half of himself ? half of his sanity.

 

What should he have done? Ask Sasuke to stay? He doesn't want that, yet he does. The contradictions inside him were too much to bear, especially at night. The time when his lover usually gives his nape soft kisses as they spoon and cuddle together. Now all he has were nothing but sheets, pillows and ceiling that seemed to be coming closer the longer he stared at it.

 

What's been tormenting him as well was his phone. Why wasn't it ringing? And when it does, the name didn't flash the person he wanted to talk to.

 

"Goddamn it!" Naruto threw his phone to the wall of their, now his, house. Realizing what he has done, he dove and picked up the scattered pieces of the broken gadget.

 

"Shit, no!" his eyes watered instantly, trying to place the battery back, trying to smoothly fit the casing back. He pushed the on and off button, sadly, the phone wasn't working.

 

"No!" Naruto wailed, nursing the piece of electronic closer to his chest.

 

"Naruto? Er, your door is open.." Iruka and Kakashi decided to drop by that evening to ask the blond if he's interested in having dinner with them. It looked like they came at the right time, for the said man was crying ? gasping in agonizing sobs, hugging his phone while he laid down on the cold floor.

 

"Oh, Naruto.." Iruka went to his side, pulled the man to sit and hugged him with all his might.

 

"What's wrong?" he asked the blond while Kakashi set the food they brought on top of the counter. He took a bottle of water in the fridge and sat behind Naruto while he patted the young man's back. He gave Iruka the water and latter offered it to Naruto, which was refused with a hard pushed.

 

"Okay..." Iruka gave the water back to his lover, and shook his head. It looked like Naruto broke down.

 

"My..ph-" Naruto whispered.

 

"What about your phone, Naruto?" Iruka asked in soothing tone.

 

"Sa-Sasuke's pictures! I'm so-sorry! I didn't me-mean to throw.. it! Ugh..Waah!" Naruto cried some more, now having difficulty breathing. Choking on his words, and probably his snot.

 

Iruka couldn't helped but cry as well. Kakashi was sad too, though they were no tears like Iruka.

 

They could practically hear, see and feel Naruto's pain. He looked like he was ready to collapse anytime soon.

 

"It'll pass.. Don't give up.." Iruka said as they tried to comfort Naruto.

 

 


 

 

-Ding Dong-

 

The doorbell rang, which made Naruto's heart leaped faster. He knew this was the day Sasuke scheduled to get his things, and he doubt the man would come himself knowing Naruto would be here. Still, there was the tiny hope that he would.

 

"Damn, traitorous heart," he muttered as he hurried towards the door from his bedroom. He smoothed out his shirt and tugged it a few times before he opened the door.

 

"Itachi?" he said in a strained voice. He didn't expect the older Uchiha to pick up the things instead of Sasuke, or his secretary.

 

"How are you Naruto-kun?" Itachi invited himself in, leaving his shoes neatly tucked on the shoe rack. He was followed by a fidgety blond while his eyes scanned the place.

 

He looked at the boxes stacked near the entrance way, "Looks like you're ready," Itachi's voice was softer than usual, somehow irritating Naruto. There was no need for the pity. Naruto was a man of his words.

 

"I packed so that Sasuke can pick it anytime whenever he's free. I was informed by his secretary that he was going to pick up his papers that he left in his study. Che! I should've known he's not going to show up..." Naruto pouted and showed his obvious displeasure about the situation.

 

Itachi raised one eyebrow towards the blond, "I thought you said you didn't want to see him?" reminding Naruto of his very colorful way of breaking up with the younger Uchiha.

 

"Okay! Fine! I slugged his face, he kinda annoyed me. He was clingy and out of character, I'd rather him spar the fuck with me, rather than that," Naruto chuckled remembering their last exchanged of punches, "Sasuke is such a bastard, I just hope he'll change..." he exhaled loudly and looked at Itachi.

 

"Anyway," he guided Itachi to sit at the bare looking living room, "I'll make some tea, surely you have time for one, ne?"

 

"Can I have coffee instead?" He was in the mood for it, though he doesn't usually drink one.

 

"No. I don't have coffee. And.. the coffee maker's inside one of those," Naruto turned around without even pointing what he meant by 'those'. Itachi isn't stupid though, of course he got the meaning. Naruto already packed the coffee maker, along with Sasuke's things.

 

The tea came swiftly, which Itachi admitted was nice. Naruto sat on a bean bag, relaxed on the floor. They didn't need to have small chats, they never do. It was one of those things he does with Naruto over the years of seeing the blond together with Sasuke. He was somehow comforted by the fact that even though Naruto can't and won't shut up, he never really invaded Itachi's need to be left alone. Unlike Sakura who tried her best?well meant or not?to talk to the older Uchiha. He prefers people like Naruto, someone who can sense the mood, if you will.

 

When he was done with the tea, he rested the cup on top of the coffee table and looked at Naruto for a brief second. The blond looked...lost. He decided to get on with it and spoke.. "A company would come pick up the boxes, I'm just sent here to fetch some of the things Sasuke needed for his work. Would you mind pointing me where are those?" Itachi asked and Naruto thinned his lips for a second, looking like he was thinking where he placed what Itachi'd asked.

 

"Come with me then..."

 

They both walked through the narrow corridor, which Itachi admitted to be too big for the two. He knew Sasuke purchased the house for Naruto and him, but he didn't think Sasuke would be willing to give the ownership to Naruto. Somehow he nodded to himself. He knew Naruto is still a student, not having to rent a place would mean lesser burden on the man.

 

"I placed Sasuke's things in these boxes, but his library still needed to be sorted out. I was hoping to talk to him about it. Kinda wanna have some of the books here, quite frankly," Naruto stated matter of fact. Itachi knew Naruto doesn't have an underline intention there. He nodded, somehow admiring Naruto's attitude towards everything, which was why he likes him more than Sakura.

 

She is a nice and smart girl, and Itachi was sure that some people would find her beautiful, but Itachi would always be a Naruto supporter. Naruto knew Sasuke deep down that handsome and perfect son facade.

 

Naruto openly calls Sasuke a bastard, a whiny brat, an indecisive fool. Itachi likes how Naruto never hides his attitude just to please the crowd.

 

"I'll leave this to you then, cause.. I can't be here," Naruto smiled, showing a hint of sadness in his tone. Though he was smiling towards the older Uchiha, Itachi knew Naruto was suffering.

 

"I understand. Would you be here, or?"

 

"I'll be at my room if you need something from me, just knock," Naruto pointed at the room at the end of the hall which Itachi remembered to be a guest room. The room he usually sleeps in whenever he stayed over.

 

Itachi understood, Naruto doesn't want to stay in their former room. That'd be too much to handle.

 

"Hn," he nodded and Naruto was gone.

 

Itachi looked around the study cum library and noticed a few things. There were two desk: one tidy, one messy. One can see whom those belongs to. He went to the tidy one, deducing it was Sasuke's. On top of the mahogany wood lies a few things commonly found on someone's study. Some papers for taking notes, a clock, pens and holder, folder organizers. Itachi decided to take a seat, while he grabbed an empty box to take the things asked of him by his younger brother.

 

However, his gaze was caught by a small photo frame. Naruto and Sasuke, sat side by side. Naruto was flashing a wide smile while Sasuke, at first glance remained expressionless. Itachi knew otherwise. His brother's eyes showed a color of happiness, lips curled a little smile. It seemed like the photo was taken during their high school graduation. Both boys holding diploma. Naruto's hair was longer then, reaching the back of his nape, while Sasuke has the same duck butt hairstyle.

 

Naruto looked like he was so happy in the picture, they both do. Now his brother was an empty husk, functioning routinely. Which saddened the older Uchiha.

 

Itachi debated if he'll take the photo. Looking at Naruto, it seemed the man is the sentimental type. It would be bad for him if this memento was kept here. Sighing, Itachi took the photo frame, deciding what to do with it later.

 

He opened the drawer and saw the same usual things: a pair of scissors, paper clips, adhesive tape. He knew those were just excess to carry, it was best to leave those for Naruto to use. Opening another drawer, he saw something unusual. A bottle of lubricant, two sachets of condoms and a fur covered handcuff. A smile crept to his face. 'It's not a big deal, really. Those two were probably having sex in here.' He decided to pile those in the trash.

 

"Well then," he said as he was done with the desk. The files he was asked to retrieved were carefully place inside a brief case he brought over. The rest would have to be segregated, though reluctantly, he did so.

 

He decided to place a call, leaning back to the chair he was in. His eyes caught something again and snorted. Sasuke's ceiling was filled with badly drawn doodles. One with Sasuke with an oddly drawn penis. A speech bubble next to it, saying 'Hi, I'm Sasuke.. My penis is smaller than Naruto's.'

Another doodle has Naruto kicking Sasuke with a speech bubble, 'You teme! Don't forget your meals!' among other random things.

 

Itachi wondered how Naruto got up and drew it there. This was probably the small thing the blond did when he was pissed with Sasuke, or just his playful manner.

 

"Nii-san?" the man from the other line answered.

 

"Yeah. I've already collected what you asked of me, though there's something I'd like to ask," Itachi said, his eyes never tearing away at the lovely scribbles on the ceiling.

"What?"

 

"Naruto placed your things inside boxes and was wondering when will you get it. I lied and said a moving company is coming. Ah, when I say things, I meant all of it. Even spoons, ladles, coffee maker.."

 

There was a brief silence between them then Sasuke's breathy voice caught Itachi by surprised, "He's being unreasonable! There was no need to go that far!"

 

"Is he? I don't think so. This was his way of coping, at least give him that." Itachi answered sternly which was returned with momentary silence.

 

"Hn, fine! I don't need it Nii-san. Please arrange it to be donated."

 

Itachi thought about it for a few seconds before he answered, "I'll keep it inside my home for two weeks so you can go through it. You might be surprise with what you find," Itachi paused and decided to tease Sasuke, "By the way, otouto, I didn't know your dick's small and bend to the side."

 

"You! Are you still in my study?"

 

He only answered Sasuke with a chuckle. Itachi can hear his younger brother sighing heavily before he spoke again, "Nii-san, can you.. please take a picture of those doodles?"

 

Itachi frowned, he sat up straight slowly and hummed, "I won't do that. I'll contact the moving company and ask them to rush now to take your things. Let's not prolong Naruto-kun's suffering, shall we?"

 

With that, Itachi cut the line. He stood up and resolved to check up on the blond. Last time he saw the man, he had a little weight on. He was always been healthy, not thin and buff. But now he saw the man had cheeks hollower, protuberant eye bags, messy clothing, and unkempt hair.

 

Just like Sasuke, Naruto was not handling their separation well.

 

"The poor kids," Itachi shook his head as he went to the common bathroom. If Naruto wasn't staying at the master's bedroom, then there was no doubt he's using the common one. Itachi went inside to check on things.

 

The inside were clean enough, actually smelling a strong hint of lemon and lavender cleansers he remembered as Naruto's favorite. Though there was no mirror which was odd. He opened the medicine cabinets and checked the inside.

 

There were razors, shaving cream, kits for enema (which made the older Uchiha cringed for some reason), a bottle of aspirin and lotions.

 

The medicine below deck made him sullen though. There was a bottle of sleeping pills, already down to half, though it looked like it has been a while since Naruto had it refilled. There was also Prozac bottle which was down to one pill. The prescription note said it needed to be refilled tomorrow, which was relief to Itachi. At least Naruto wasn't skipping or overdosing in antidepressants.

 

He decided to close the medicine cabinet and check the kitchen. Like the rest of the room, it was bare, nothing but water and protein bars. He felt angry for some reason but understood that it was probably a big hurdle for Naruto to go out and buy food.

 

Itachi contacted his secretary with specific instruction to rush the movers ? to be precise, it has to be done today. If Kisame has anything else to say, he did not let Itachi hear it. Risking a glance at his schedule, Itachi decided to move all of his appointment for tomorrow.

 

"Hn,"

 

.

 

.

 

Naruto felt the kitchen was kinda noisy for his taste. He was staring at the ceiling, listening to some music that afternoon when something came crashing. He knew it was the movers or maybe Itachi roaming around. He has no intentions to stop them, he just simple didn't care.

 

Minutes after, he felt the noise was unbearable and decided to check what the heck was happening now. The moment he stepped out his bedroom, his nostrils were greeted by the scent of a familiar dish his sense of smell and taste was missing.

 

He ran towards the source and called out, "Sasuke?!"

 

To his surprised, it was not the Uchiha he was expecting but the older, colder one. He scowled for even thinking Sasuke would come home and cook Ramen for him. The teme never even gave him a call.

 

"Sit," Itachi commanded, pointing towards the breakfast counter. The blond was about to say something to object, when he realized they weren't alone in the house. Few people emerges from the outside, heavily sweating and chatting with each other.

 

"Oh, hey. You're up..." Naruto saw Gaara looking at him, using the sleeves of his shirt to wipe the sweat of his brows.

 

"Itachi-san, we're going to go, I have night shift." Kiba, also one of Naruto's friend smiled at Naruto and walked to him fast, "Look at you!" he exclaimed and cupped Naruto's chin. "You're so fucking thin, dude. Seriously, take care, 'kay?"

 

Naruto swatted his friend's hands, his gazed wandered to the people standing near them. "Why are you guys here?"

 

It was Shikamaru who decided to answer, "Troublesome. Itachi-san asked us to help moving some stuff and packing things. Anyway, eat. We have to go," he also walked towards Naruto and gave his friend a squeeze on the man's shoulder. Naruto knew Shika for a long time, and this gesture was enough to let him know that he really did made his friends worried about him.

 

"I'll stay here," Gaara said, pulling up a chair next to him. Itachi, who remained silent took another bowl, it seemed like there will be more who'll be joining them for dinner.

 

"Thank you," Itachi said as Kiba gave Itachi a key and turned around to collect their things. Kiba and Shikamaru shares one apartment, and both were working for Uchiha Corp. Specifically, under Sasuke's command.

 

They're the friends Naruto and Sasuke gained during high school, hanging out with them from time to time. Both have girlfriends, Shika with Temari - Gaara's sister. Kiba with Hinata - Naruto's friend as well.

 

"Thanks guys, I'll see you soon, yeah?" Naruto called out before the guys were out of his sight.

 

They were silent for a few minutes, hearing only the slow boiling of the broth, while Itachi chopped up some onion leeks. Naruto knew Itachi knows how to cook, and does it well, unlike his brother who only knows how to reheat things from take-out boxes. What made the blond confused and equally touched was Itachi went out cooked for him. Itachi never cooks for anyone but for himself, as he heard from Sasuke.

 

"We came," Gaara said, deciding the quiet was unbearable for the blond, "..cause Itachi-san said he wouldn't know which ones of the thing inside that library were yours, or.." Gaara trailed off.

 

"Oh," muttered Naruto.

 

Right then, Itachi served the bowls of Ramen. It looked okay, simple with two cuts of meat on top of it, egg and onion. There were also different kinds of toppings Naruto usually see on a Ramen he frequently ate. Itachi must've researched on how to do it, or ask Mikoto for the recipe.

 

He took the chopstick and clasped his hand together, "Itadakimasu," he said, slowing mixing the noodle bowl before he took one large slurp.

 

He was silent for a while, Gaara eating his own food, Itachi seated opposite of the men, quietly sipping his tea. His white button-down shirt's sleeves were rolled up, his hair was tied higher than he usually wears it. Somehow, if it was possible, Itachi looked more handsome.

 

"This is horrible," Naruto sniffled and continued to eat.

 

"Hn," Itachi hummed.

 

"The egg needs to be boiled longer,"

 

"Hn,"

 

"The meat is not tender," Naruto continued to sniffle, Gaara offered him a handkerchief, his eyes were soft, looking at the quivering shoulders of his blond friend.

 

"Hn," Itachi reached out to Naruto's hair and ruffled it. Naruto froze for a bit as he stared at Itachi. The older Uchiha didn't liked how Naruto's eyes were bloodshot, but didn't say anything else. Instead, he brought two fingers and poked Naruto's forehead, enough to left a little reddish mark. With what appeared to be a smile he was wearing, Itachi said,

 

"You did good, Naruto-kun,"

 

With that, Naruto cried quietly and ate.

 

"You 'hn'ing' bastards," he muttered and Gaara snickered.

 

.

 

 

 

 


 

 

a/n;

 

song is with or without you by U2

 

notes of interest: Prozac or fluoxetine is a synthetic compound that inhibits the uptake of serotonin in the brain and is taken to treat depression.

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Rhye_Meow

CHAPTER THREE: LOST WITHOUT YOUR LOVE

 

 

chapter warnings: LONG CHAPTER! [this is mammoth, lol] OOC, swearing, Cheating, physical attacks, gay relationships, talks of abortion, depression, drama, jealousy, ATTEMPTED SUICIDE, mentions of character deaths (past), mentions of mpreg (past), made up medical practices, un-betaed chapter! please, forgive the mistakes. [English is my third language, not counting the dialect/s i use.] no character bashing! everyone has their burdens to carry..

 

Again, please read the warnings. if anything triggers you, then please don't read. be responsible for your mental health. this is not a safe space to say the least.

 

 

 

~Lost and all alone

 

I always thought that I could make it on my own

 

But since you left I hardly make it through the day

 

My tears get in the way

 

And I need you back to stay

 

I wander through the night

 

And search the world to find the words to make it right

 

All I want is just the way it used to be

 

With you here close to me

 

I've got to make you see

 

That I'm lost without your love

 

Life without you isn't worth the trouble of

 

And I'm as helpless as a ship without a wheel

 

A touch without a feel

 

I can't believe it's real..~

 

~o~

 

Another two months went by on a blur and things have slowly settled in. After the excruciating break-up they had, surprisingly, Naruto and Sasuke settled down with their own lives.

 

On Sasuke's part, his baby girl coming home from the hospital took most of his attention. Helping Sakura cope with her Postpartum Syndrome also made the raven busy. If he had time to think of Naruto, that was when the quiet starts. At night after everyone went to bed.

 

It was so unlike him, as Itachi'd pointed out, to drink himself to sleep. But he did. Even if he already accepted that Naruto's already a part of his past, he still can't help but love the dobe.

 

Sakura is great. She showed everyone just how much she'd be willing to put out with Sasuke's difficult attitude, that much the raven can concede. But being with her, though acceptable, wasn't enough.

 

He guessed that it'll take time to fall out of love with his former lover.

 

That night, same as always, he drank himself to silly, not bothering if he had to wake up nursing a headache. He let him burn from the scotch going down his throat.

 

The maid that hasn't come to sleep saw Sasuke seated by the bar counter. "Eh, good evening, sir. I was about to rest for the night, is there anything else you need?" the old lady asked the Master of the house.

 

Sasuke looked at his now empty bottle and to the maid, "Hn, can you... cook Ramen for me? Instant is okay," he asked and she obliged, though confused.

 

After she gave Sasuke's ramen, she went to her quarters, ready to rest.

 

Slowly, Sasuke sipped the broth. He really wasn't fond of the noodle, it was just tasted too salty for his taste. Still, he finished the bowl almost too fast before he set the bowl in the sink.

 

Naruto has that habit of leaving unwashed dishes in the sink so he can clean them all the next morning, which Sasuke always had problems with. Their house was cleaned by the dobe and him sometimes, so seeing the dishes compelled Sasuke to wash it himself.

 

"Damn.." he said out loud as he rinsed the dish bowl. It has been a long time since he cleaned it himself. Their house?Sakura's and his?had two help: one nanny and one maid. Those were requested by Sakura, since she can't handle everything herself. She, however, made sure to cook for Sasuke and fix his things for work. If she can, she also cooked Sasuke's lunch. Though, being an Uchiha with lots of appointments for the day, it was not advisable to bring bento for he always went out to eat.

 

Really, there was nothing he can complain about Sakura. Except for a few things ? she wasn't a blond, her eyes were not blue, she has no whiskered scars across her cheeks, she wasn't tanned, her voice wasn't raspy and loud enough. She's not Naruto.

 

Sasuke sighed and relaxed himself in the living room. He turned the TV on, volumes on mute. Remembering about Naruto exhausted him too much lately.

 

Thinking about it, people often asked him how come he loved the blond, especially during his college days, where girls and guys flocked by his side. Naruto isn't from a known family, and he was somewhat embarrassing to be a company whenever they went to a social gathering. Of course people would be curious. If he was being honest with himself, he doesn't know the answer either.

 

Naruto was part of the orphanage Uchihas founded and supported for a long time. Sasuke was two the first time he came to the house where he saw Naruto, from what his brother told him. He has no clear memory of that early, of course. Regardless, ever since then, they were playmates.

 

During their kindergarten years, Sasuke's feelings towards the blond became obsessive and over-protective. He doesn't want Naruto playing with other kids and only wants the male for himself.

 

Grade school was no different. Sasuke saw how Naruto spent his time with his friends from public school and didn't liked it. Especially how Naruto spent the afternoon with Sasuke telling how he spent his day with his 'other best friend' aside from Sasuke. He remembered how his hate for Gaara started. Since then, Sasuke asked his parents to enroll himself to public school, too.

 

Middle school, when teens were starting to experiment with their sexuality, Sasuke and Naruto got into making out. Naruto was his first kiss, and one afternoon, his first sexual partner as well.

 

He was vaguely aware that he liked the blond and the feelings were mutual. As to why they never went out or verbally talked about their feelings before ? that was because of Itachi and his male cousin Shisui.

 

The two were dating at that time, and though they weren't heavily accepted, no one dared to say anything. Itachi has always been the best at everything. A genius. Giving him the freedom to choose whom his heart belongs to shouldn't be a problem.

 

Except it does.

 

Years ago when the birthrate became dangerously low, Governments around the world decided to let males carry pregnancy as well. They genetically altered human DNA, experimenting for a few years before producing a male body perfectly capable of carrying human inside his stomach.

 

It gathered a lot of praises and some raised eyebrows as well. But years passed and the gene has continued to their parents and on to the younger generation.

 

Everything sounded so perfect until it was proven that its mostly fatal for the male carrier. Often one out of ten males who carried full term died in labor, despite the advancement in technology. It wasn't only that. Males who got pregnant, suffered twice as much pain and symptoms experienced by women during their term.

 

For this reason, Itachi refused Shihui to carry their child.

 

The older Uchiha that time was barely out of his teen years himself, however, was matured enough to voice out his reasoning. He wasn't going to sire an Uchiha heir and that was final.

 

Their parents somewhat accepted that fact. And they did, for a few years.

 

Later they found Shisui carrying a child. The only contraceptive males can effectively use that time was condoms and those fails a few sometimes. That time, Itachi just boarded a plane for Germany. He was just a fresh graduate and needed to handle some business there under the tutelage of their Uncle, Madara. Everyone consciously decided that Shisui should carry the child without letting Itachi know, for the said Uchiha would definitely ask for an abortion. They can all see that Itachi would pretty much do anything to keep the man by his side.

 

Shisui, pressured and emotional, kept the pregnancy from Itachi until he came back. And so three months after, Itachi went home to a pregnant lover, past abortion period. Needless to say, Itachi went crazy and hated everyone, including his unborn child.

 

Shisui became depressed, but said nothing else. Somehow, their lives continued with Itachi slowly accepting that they would have a child soon.

 

Sasuke saw with his two eyes how in one night, the expected good news broke his family apart.

 

Itachi was frantic from their bedroom, calling all of them to help him for his said mate was in labor. Shisui looked pale and Sasuke blurted out that he looked dying. Because of that, he received a good slap from his brother, the first and hopefully the last one.

 

It wasn't a full term pregnancy. Shisui only carried the child for six months, until his body couldn't handle it anymore and died, taking the unborn with him.

 

Itachi blamed everyone. Blamed himself, blamed the government of old, blamed Shisui and blamed the child.

 

He stopped living.

 

From then on, the image of Shisui dying in his brother's arms was etched in Sasuke's memory. Every time he held Naruto, he was crazy and careful. They always wore condom and if that was not enough, he also pulled out before ejaculation. He kept reminding himself that he wasn't going to lose Naruto like how his brother lost his beloved.

 

That didn't stop the man to have dreams of family someday though. Unlike Itachi, Sasuke wanted kids. Not because of the pressure from the family, but he truly felt... empty. He was sure that a family without kids was just as important to those with. However, he can't help but wished for more. His partner nursing their child in his arms, while he wrapped his arms over them. His child with his name going to school. Calling him daddy, them playing in the park. Him sharing his car with his grown up son, teaching him how to drive. That kind of future.

 

Sure, Sasuke really did love Naruto. But somehow, he wished for something more.

 

Every now and then, without the blond's knowledge, Sasuke? cheated.

 

Call it testing the water or foolishness on his part.

 

He loves Naruto, and was sure that he would spend his entire life with the man. However, everything became mundane with their life and sex life.

 

There were a few times that his brother caught Sasuke and harshly scolded him over that fact. At the back of his mind, he knew that was true. He knew that when Itachi said that Naruto would be broken if he knew, was true, yet he didn't stop.

 

From the time he started cheating to various occasions, it took two years for him to quit. That was the time when Naruto almost died from dengue.

 

He realized his foolishness. What was he doing? Why was he testing fate like that? His blond safe in his arms, that was his only joy. He realized life would be so empty without his dobe. He promised he wouldn't hurt Naruto ever again.

 

Yet, five years later, Sasuke found himself into the arms of another temptation.

 

Sakura- their friend, a brave and honest girl, brazenly admitted at one point that she liked Sasuke but knew Naruto was his mate. She wasn't going to go in between them and just wanted to let her feelings known.

 

Then months later, Naruto and Sasuke fought one night, him really hating on the blond. What were they fighting about? Sasuke already forgot.

 

He drank the night away and things got out of hand resulting to this day. Maybe his promise was the only reason why he admitted his mistake the following day. He couldn't accept the fact that he broke his oath. He learned firsthand the idiom 'What you don't know won't hurt you' for he really hurt the blond. He saw how Naruto, from that day on, crumbled around him.

 

To say he really regretted everything he has done towards Naruto would be an understatement. If he can go back in time, he wished he didn't hurt the blond, with or without his knowledge. If he could take back all those times he held someone else and came home to a smiling Naruto, he would. He would trade anything.

 

In all honesty, Sasuke loves Sarada, his daughter. But sometimes?a tiny while?he wished she wasn't born. Or she was born with Naruto, and not Sakura.

 

"Too late.." he muttered as he let sleep take over his body.

 

.

 

Sasuke started his day late, he woke up after Sakura scolded him that he drank himself again. His head throbbed painfully as he tried to drown her nagging so early in the morning. It was not like he thought she was wrong, he was just not a fan of 'tough love'.

 

His day at work resumed as usual. His brother heard the news that he came late again and the said Uchiha dropped by his office to check up on him. He asked how everything was which he answered truthfully. "Everything sucks,"

 

Itachi chuckled and shrugged. His perfectly tied long hair swayed as he went out Sasuke's office.

 

Since Sasuke was busy that day, the time went by so fast that he was reminded to go home when his stomach started to protest. He saw the clock on the wall, "7:00 pm, huh?"

 

He gave the okay for his secretary to go home and gathered his things to go home as well. As he was walking towards the hallway, he saw Itachi coming out too.

 

"Just finished with your work?" he casually asked as they both walked towards the parking lot.

 

"Yes," Itachi's short reply.

 

"Why don't you come with me, let's have dinner together..." Sasuke offered but was refused instantly. His brother wore a light ambiance, his hair was let down and he looked relaxed, neck tie already removed. "You have a date," he teased his brother while he leaned his hand on the hood of Itachi's car.

 

"Well, a friendly date..." Itachi corrected his brother and started the engine, though he still hasn't close the door, allowing a few minutes to chat with Sasuke.

 

"Eh? Friendly date? Like hanging out, without the prospect of romance and sex?" Sasuke raised an eyebrow.

 

"Hn, why are you so surprise? When have I dated someone?" Itachi asked, raising an eyebrow as well.

 

"You never dated anyone, but you took your lovers on a date. There wasn't friendly with those,"

 

Itachi looked at Sasuke, trying his expression. "If you really must know, otouto, I am hanging out with Naruto." Itachi looked as impassive as always that caught Sasuke off guard.

 

"Why?" asked the younger Uchiha which Itachi answered seriously.

 

"I like Naruto, not romantic, not sexual. He's? charming. While you call him 'dobe', he's really smart. Plus, we have something in common." Itachi trailed off. He closed his car door while he left the window open, indicating he can still chat, but not for long.

 

Sasuke stood frozen for a few seconds, his mind wandering. Itachi and Naruto. Itachi with his Naruto. Naruto with his brother!

 

"In common?" his voice sounded more desperate than usual. He hasn't realized it, but he was shaking as Itachi can see. The older Uchiha sighed audibly, he thought his brother was really foolish.

 

"We're both broken.." with that, Itachi nodded and bid him good night.

 

The black Nissan 370z rolled out as the machine purred softly. Itachi stuck and arm out and waved one last time before he was out of sight.

 

Something inside Sasuke screamed and begged for mercy, wanting to die then and there. He hadn't thought about it - the idea never crossed his mind. His Naruto moving on, finding another to give him comfort. Naruto smiling for someone, him saying 'welcome home' to, or kissing someone good night. Why'd he think Naruto wouldn't move on?

 

He panicked. He stepped inside his car in haste and floored the gas. He was desperate to catch up with his brother. He wanted to know what was going on. The pounding of his head that he thought ended by the time he drank his third cup of coffee started punishing him again.

 

After a few minutes of struggling through traffic and nearly causing accident, Sasuke found his brother's car outside their former home. The home Naruto and him shared for years.

 

His hands that gripped the steering wheel held tighter. He gritted his teeth in annoyance. He was ready to go down, punch his brother in the face and accuse Naruto of things he was sure Naruto wouldn't do in a million years. Though irrationality was winning, and his chest was hurting as a result. When Naruto got out of their home, he had a huge grin on his face. Sasuke can make out what he said, either 'Did you wait long?' or 'Sorry for making you wait'. Doesn't matter, Sasuke said.

 

He watched as Naruto got inside the car and they drove off. He carefully followed them, sure that his brother would recognize his car, but didn't care. He wanted to see what the heck were they doing.

 

It was not that he doesn't trust Itachi, he knew very well what kind of a guy his brother is. What bothered him was Naruto. Was he really moving on and forgetting Sasuke?

 

The car he was tailing stopped at a restaurant, Naruto's favorite. The two went inside, side by side. He scoffed and thought Itachi was such a show off. He never ate a restaurant such as this, what was he doing with Naruto eating there then? Sasuke asked himself.

 

He saw them seated near the window, he waited for them to come out. From the distance, he saw Naruto speaking freely to his brother. He observed his beloved, somehow his anger grew more. Why was Naruto laughing so heartily? Itachi has never been the kind to make someone laugh. Heck, he doesn't even hold a proper conversation.

 

He waited and waited. He saw them finished their meals, it has gotten late and it seemed like Naruto ordered a bag of takeout like the usual. Itachi paid for them and opened the door for Naruto. For a mere 'hanging out' like his brother claimed, it sure looked like he was properly dating Naruto.

 

Sasuke can't breathe. Since their break-up, he wasn't able to properly cry himself. He had no luxury for that kind of grief. His wife was in the hospital and it took her a few days to actually move. His daughter had a very difficult situation, and though his in-laws and parents were there to help him, Sarada needed constant care. Sasuke was often besides her, soothing her very tiny hands with his gloved fingers. His feelings towards his lost loved was often pushed to the sides.

 

Now this. Naruto looked so damn happy with someone new, date or not. Have he moved on already?

 

Itachi and Naruto got in the car once again and Sasuke started his, tailing them as before. He sure was glad that it was night time, and it would be hard for Itachi to make out his car, for he would definitely won't live this down for the rest of their lives.

 

They didn't stop at Naruto's house this time. Instead the two went inside a supermarket nearby their housing district. Said market closes at midnight, which gave the two pretty decent time to shop. Sasuke debated if he should go in, but decided not to in the end. So like earlier, he waited for them to come out.

 

This kind of hanging out was so domestic, and looked so? Sasuke couldn't really swallow what he was thinking, but it really looked like Itachi and Naruto was dating. Somewhat in a steady pace. No one wants to shop with their friend, right? Especially if it's Itachi. Such stoic and uncaring attitude the man has.

 

"Who am I kidding?" Sasuke muttered. He knew no man better than Itachi which was why he was so torn. There was no doubt that Itachi would love Naruto, for Naruto is perfect. And there was no doubt that Naruto would love Itachi, for Itachi is perfect.

 

His phone rang, startling him a bit, which made him pressed the car horn for a second.

 

"Yes?" he asked a little annoyed.

 

"Sasuke-kun? Are you still at work?" Sakura asked.

 

Sasuke clucked his tongue and ran a hand through his hair, "No. I'm out. I'll come home late, don't wait up.."

 

"Oh, okay. Please take care."

 

Sasuke felt a pang of guilt for some reason. He knew he was being unkind towards Sakura which she didn't deserve, so he changed his tone and asked how their daughter was.

 

"She's fine. Though she didn't nursed much. I'll go ask mother tomorrow what should I do."

 

"Alright.. sleep early and don't forget your meds," he didn't wait for her to answer and cut the line when he saw Naruto and his brother going out the establishment. It seemed like Itachi carried the shopping bags and Naruto was eating ice cream. It looked like they didn't shop for much, probably a few things Naruto needed.

 

They got in the car and drove slower than earlier. Somehow Sasuke's jealousy burned more. Slowing down in going home was definitely because of Naruto. The blond has a habit of asking Sasuke to slow down because he doesn't want to go home yet, he was still enjoying their time and would want to prolong it even for a few minutes.

 

Sasuke was surprised that his eyes were spilling. He can't believe he wasn't with the blond. What was he doing with his life? What has he done?

 

He was dying inside.

 


 

Naruto enjoyed a long bath that evening when he heard something crashing inside his home. He was scared and was ready to take a call when he heard someone calling his name in an angry manner.

 

"Sasuke?" He asked, confused that he was probably hearing things... again.

 

Naruto wore his bathrobe and went to the living room and there he saw Sasuke looking straight at him. He pinched his cheek for a second, making sure he was not dreaming.

 

"Sasuke? What are you doing here, teme?" he asked now that he was sure he wasn't dreaming. Now that he remembered it, he still hasn't changed the locks of the entire house.

 

"Naruto, are you dating Itachi now? Is he my replacement? Another Uchiha you snagged, huh?" Sasuke spew accusing poison towards the blond which made Naruto instantly pissed.

 

"Hah! Real fucking mature, Sasuke. You march in here and you say that? That's the first thing you say to me in months!" Naruto was hurt. For a second, he thought Sasuke wanted to be with him again. He doesn't know what he'll do if it does, but it was still a nice feeling.

 

"What do you want? Isn't it you who wanted to separate from me? So why would I talk to you?" Sasuke moved closer to Naruto and the latter backed up.

 

"No, I didn't do this to us. You did!" Naruto yelled.

 

"I told you! I fucking told you that I wanted to raise Sarada with you! Why did you gave up on me?"

 

Naruto's eye twitched in annoyance, he was doing great moving on, with the help of therapies that Itachi helped him to and now the source of all his pains was in front of him, seemingly blaming him for things he was not guilty of.

 

"I'm so done with this shit.." Naruto muttered and went to the phone to call Itachi. He wanted Sasuke out of the house and soon.

 

"Answer me, you fucker! Are you dating Itachi?" Sasuke grabbed Naruto's hand and the other struggled to get out of his hold.

 

"Who I date is none of your business, Uchiha-san."

 

Sasuke saw red, he was furious. He grabbed Naruto's neck and tried to choke him for a second but Naruto has always been strong, so moments later, he received a good blow to the stomach.

 

"You!" Naruto rasped out while Sasuke struggle to breath as well, "You have no right, Sasuke! No right to barge in here and mess me up all over again! You said you wanted to raise Sarada with me? Ha! Don't fucking make me laugh!" Naruto yelled out, his eyes were already spilling out. It seemed like all he does was cry because of Sasuke.

 

"Yes. That's right! We agreed it was-

 

"I had no say in that matter?" Naruto interjected. "You came in here and told me Sakura was pregnant. You didn't gave me enough time to think things through! You came in here..." Naruto paused to slam a palm on his chest. Sasuke winced for it sounded like it hurt, which probably did. "You came in here and told me you're getting married for appearance and would like to continue our relationship! Did you have any idea how much that fucking hurt me? It literally felt like a knife went through my chest!"

 

"You're being so dramatic! Nothing will change if you gave me a chance!" Sasuke was annoyed. What else he could do when he was being pressured to marry her? At least he wanted Naruto to know that he was the one he loves.

 

"I have given you chances, Sasuke! How long have we been together? Did you really fucking think I didn't know about your sexcapades? The time you slept with your secretary, Karin? The time you had a fling with Sai from your University?" Naruto looked at him with a face full of anguished. Sasuke was surprised and stood frozen looking at those detached blue-eyes. Naruto knew all that?

 

"That wasn't all, right? Those nights when you said you had to work and went out of town? I saw the receipts of hotel accommodations, your spa trips. The gifts you purchased? Sasuke, I handle our credit card payments?what are you trying to do to me?" Naruto slammed another fist on his chest and Sasuke moved closer so he can comfort Naruto. It seemed like the blond was having difficulty breathing.

 

Naruto moved away and literally spat on the floor.

 

"Was it Itachi who told you? Did he tell you so he can look like the good guy here?" Sasuke asked which made Naruto laughed like a mad man.

 

"That's so like you, Sasuke. Blaming someone else for your mistakes..." Naruto chuckled and continued, "No. No one told me anything. I just knew. You weren't really secretive about it, you know. It's as if you're asking to be caught, so egotistical of you by the way." he paused some more and finger combed his blond hair.

 

"But I forgave you. I continued to show the same smile I always did. I smiled and loved you like I've always been, since you know.. I have nothing to offer you but that.." Naruto looked at Sasuke and cried while smiling. "I guess I'm the forgiving type, Sasuke. The kind of husband who'll overlook things his partner would do because of love.. And somehow I understood you as well. There are those people like you, that no matter how much you love your partners, you still couldn't keep it in your pants.. I just tried to close my eyes. As long as you come home to me, I thought it's going to be alright.."

 

"Then.." Sasuke gulped hard, he moved closer to Naruto closer "Please forgive one last time and let's start over." Sasuke's voice was softer. It has been a long time since he saw Naruto. He admitted that he did not liked what he saw. Naruto was so thin. His cheeks were hollower. His complexion was paler. Did he do this to his Naruto? Sasuke can't help but despair.

 

"I did. I already forgave you and Sakura. But I don't want to do this anymore, Sasuke. Don't you think I deserve more? More than a cheating bastard like you? I'm so tired of crying Sasuke, you have no idea how hard these past months have been for me.." Naruto said.

 

"A family. If you and I get together, them somehow-

 

"You married her..." Naruto interjected. "You married Sakura and gave her your name. You married her, and not me. That was supposed to be me." the blond said very softly. His eyes were so... tired.

 

"No, no. Baby, my Dad asked me to marry her, remember? Please believe me that you're the only one I love. I'm sorry for my past mistakes, I really am. Please, you gotta believe me!" Sasuke couldn't contain it anymore and hugged Naruto. "Dobe, you're so thin. Are you eating well? Look at you!" Sasuke cried and kissed Naruto's impassive and unresponsive lips. He tried too hard to push his tongue inside the blond's mouth, but Naruto closed his shut. Sasuke was so tempted to push Naruto to the sofa and start disrobing the said man, but he held himself. He doesn't want to hurt Naruto more than he already did. The blond's shoulder sagged and he dropped to the floor.

 

"I don't want this anymore, Sasuke. You need to leave."

 

"But I love you..." Sasuke knelt and cupped Naruto's face, forcing the blond to face him.

 

"You should've fought for me then. Uchiha money and name or not, you should've chosen me," Naruto hissed back.

 

"I know.. I'm really sorry!"

 

"Leave, I'll call the cops if you don't. Thanks to you, I own this house and you're not welcome here anymore.." Naruto stood up shakily and pointed Sasuke to the door. "Leave, Sasuke.. I don't want to see you for a while..."

 

Sasuke had no choice but to do what Naruto had asked. He needed to collect his thoughts as well. He was so sure that his secrets remained secrets, oh boy was he so wrong. So it seemed Naruto always knew but kept it inside. How many years did Naruto cried over this? He really was a jerk back then. How come he didn't notice it sooner? Now that everything was dragged into the light, Sasuke remembered seeing Naruto awake at night, crying on the sofa or their bedside. The blond often said it was the book he was reading, but now that he thought about it, it often happened when he came home from his affairs.

 

"I'll come back once we're both calm, please eat... I don't deserve it, so stop harming yourself," Sasuke gathered his coat that he removed earlier and went out the door.

 


 

Itachi woke up in the middle of the night by a call. At first he stirred in his bed and tried to ignore it. He knew Sasuke was following them earlier and it was probably his brother being drunk again. But the call continued for a while that he had no choice but to check who it was.

 

"Naruto?" he immediately picked up when he saw the caller ID.

 

"'Tachi, can you please take care of my fishes for me..." Naruto said, sounding really different than his usual self.

 

"Why? Where are you going?" Itachi asked, his phone nestled between his shoulder, neck and chin. He knew something was definitely wrong with the blond, so he hurried himself to get dressed.

 

"Somewhere far.. Can you take care of them?" Naruto asked.

 

"Hn,"

 

Itachi heard Naruto chuckled and said his goodbye. By then, Itachi already was dressed and the man grabbed his keys to go to the blond's place.

 

It didn't take time, he was there in under ten minutes, breaking many traffic laws as he goes. When he came inside using the spare key he had, he searched the house frantically. There was no sign of any struggle and he sighed a breath of relief. He knew at some degree that Sasuke would probably come, he was glad that it looked like there was no fight.

 

"Naruto?" he called but there was no answer.

 

He swiftly checked every room he could, seeing it only empty. Then it occurred to him that he haven't checked the master's bedroom. Maybe because Naruto refused to use it that it didn't occur to him that the blond might use it.

 

He opened it swiftly and saw Naruto lying on the bed, his wrist bleeding profusely.

 

"Fuck!" Itachi went to his side and used his hair tie as a tourniquet. Naruto has a pulsed but his breathing was shallow. Itachi called his secretary to arrange the hospital and everything. Calling for an ambulance would take a few precious minutes off the blond's life. When he was sure that the tourniquet was tight enough, he took towels in the bathroom and wrapped it over the arm as well, before he picked Naruto up and took him to his car.

 

He drove the hospital, calling Naruto to wake him up. The blond fluttered his eyes a few times and seemed like he wanted to say something, but can't. Itachi shushed him, gave him soothing words. A few minutes more and they were outside the hospital, with a few staffs and doctors outside. The hospital was partly owned by him and Itachi was known there. Kisame did a good job giving the doctors the details of the emergency and they were quick to take Naruto to the operating room.

 

Kisame gave Itachi an ice bag for his arm and shoulder. No matter how strong you are, carrying a full grown man would strain your muscles and make it sore. Itachi accepted the gesture and waited outside.

 

"Should I call your family?" Kisame asked and Itachi scowled. His family was pretty gung-ho over Sakura and Sarada that they sometimes badmouthed Naruto, intentional or not. Stuff like it was good that they have her now, for they now have a child to give joy to their house.

 

Itachi can't help but relived the nightmarish past he had. All because they thought it was their sons obligation to sire children.

 

"No. I'll tell them when I know Naruto's condition,"

 

Kisame said no more.

 

.

 

.

 

It was Sunday, the day the Uchiha family gather around their mansion to spend one day together. There was Sasuke and his family along with Mikoto and Fugaku, enjoying their lunch as they gushed over their baby.

 

"Sir, Itachi-sama has arrived." the maid announced and Fugaku sighed.

 

"Ah, dear son. It was about time you showed up. You were missing a few days, where have you been?" Mikoto asked as Itachi pulled a chair to sit. He was offered food but he refused to eat so his plate remained empty. He even refused to remove his jacket.

 

"I'm with Naruto for a few days," he answered which startled everyone. Sasuke most of all, for his utensils clattered on his plate.

 

"What? So that boy was after you now? Tch! And here I thought he was so much more than that! I should have known he was after the money..." Mikoto wiped her mouth with disgust and Fugaku shook his head, as if agreeing with his wife.

 

"Sasuke, aren't you going to defend your beloved?" Itachi asked, eyebrow raised towards his brother, which took Sasuke by surprise.

 

"Itachi! What are you saying?!" Mikoto looked at Sakura nervously and back to Sasuke who kept opening and closing his mouth like a fish.

 

Itachi sighed, "I guess I can't expect anything from a coward like you.." he said as he pulled a piece of paper from his coat.

 

"This is the title to your house, Sasuke. The one you two lived together, he gave it back to you. So much for a gold digger, no?" Itachi placed the paper on top of his empty plate. "I will also make sure that Naruto would file a Temporary Restraining Order against you, in claims that you are a harm for his health."

 

"What are you saying, son?" Fugaku asked, looking really confused about why Itachi looked so angry at them.

 

"Naruto.. he's suffering from depression for almost a year now, receiving treatments for it and taking medications. He got worse when he broke up with Sasuke the day he had Sarada,"

 

Sakura's eyes widen and stared at Itachi and the said man continued.

 

"Yes, Haruno-san. Sasuke didn't choose to stay with you, Naruto broke up with him so that he can get his shit together,"

 

"Language, Itachi!" Mikoto gasped.

 

"I don't have time to play nice, Mother," he said to her and drank a few sips of water.

 

"Then when he was finally doing fine, my foolish little brother decided to pay the man a visit. Needless to say, Naruto's wounds reopened. He? was pushed over the edge and slit his wrist a few days ago." Itachi really wasn't comfortable saying that. He was angry with Sasuke and his family.

 

Sasuke stood up and asked if Naruto was alright and where was he. But he got nothing from the older sibling. Itachi just painfully stared at him, at his mother and father and Sakura.

 

"You.." Itachi said with a low voice, his teeth gnashing in anger, "You all threw Naruto's feelings aside for such a selfish reason. Because you wanted grandchildren and false promise of a happy family. You even bypassed Sasuke's feelings and forced marriage down his throat," Itachi said and while Fugaku tried to say something, he continued, "Don't tell me it was for his best, that it was for his happiness. Just look at him for a second, will you? Look at Haruno-san. Look at Sasuke.. Where's the happiness?"

 

They remained quiet for a while until Sakura started crying. Itachi sighed when his Mother patted her back and stared daggers at him. "Naruto is your friend, Sakura. Did you really think everything would be alright after that? And you Sasuke, what the heck are you doing with your life?"

 

Sasuke didn't answer, he doesn't have anything to say. Naruto tried to kill himself because of him, what else could he say.

 

"I won't be coming here for a while. To be honest, you all disgust me. Naruto has been nothing but good to that cheating bastard, and all he received from you guys, after all these years, was you badmouthing him." Itachi wanted to say more, oh so much more. But he said too much already and it'd be futile to say more.

 

"Expect me to file TRO for Naruto against all of you too, he doesn't need this kind of superficial familial love."

 

Itachi stood up and turned around. He heard his Father yelling threats at him, Sasuke calling his name and asking where Naruto was, but he did not looked back.

 

It seemed that his family has, yet again, failed him.

 

.

 

That afternoon, Itachi was done moving Naruto's things to his house. The blond had agreed to live with him temporarily. He did what he asked and transferred the deed back to Sasuke and now the blond was homeless.

 

After he let the interior designer and movers in, he let Kisame handle the rest and drove back to the hospital.

 

He specifically told the doctors not to tell his family about Naruto. After all, Uchiha Itachi was the only Uchiha with stock invested in the hospital. His family was not interested in small profits.

 

Naruto was given a room for himself, the best Psychologist and best care they could provide. Though Naruto was weak, he kept looking better. The Doctors already suggested that he can come home tomorrow if he was up for it.

 

The reason why Itachi was willing to help the blond, if he's being honest with himself, was because he saw himself and Shishui in Naruto. He was broken by the Uchihas which left such sour a taste in his mouth. He has no problem with Sarada. In fact, he did find her cute, and admitted he loves her as well. But marrying Sakura was such a bad move for Sasuke. Now Sarada would grow up with parents in loveless relationship. That was not something she should live with.

 

With such situation, the best Itachi could think of was Sasuke marrying the one he truly loved ? Naruto.

 

Letting Sarada grow up with his single mother who loves her with a father and his father's husband who equally loves her would be the best. There was also a possibility that Sakura would move on and finds someone who cares for her and child as well. Isn't that a good thing?

 

Yet his foolish brother and parents failed to see the bigger picture.

 

"Good afternoon, Itachi-sama." a nurse greeted him which he answered with a nod. He opened the door to Naruto's room and saw it was empty with the IVs pulled. It seemed like Naruto took it out himself.

 

He ran outside and asked the nurse in station where the patient. She said he was there last time they checked, which was fifteen minutes ago.

 

He asked the hospital staff to search for the man, only to be startled by screams outside. Naruto was on top of the hospital building, standing on the ledge.

 

Itachi ran towards the rooftop, despite the warnings from the Doctors. He was not licensed negotiator after all.

 

After he opened the door, his ears were rewarded with such sweet melody. Naruto was singing something while he balanced himself over the ledge. Even at such tense situation, Itachi found the scene momentarily peaceful.

 

Itachi slowly walked towards him, he knew Naruto already knew Itachi was there.

 

"I can't anymore 'Tachi. I want it to stop. Why am I so weak?" Naruto asked.

 

Itachi hummed as a reply. The truth was, he was scared of the situation. He already asked the doctors to call for help, but still.. - "Are you really weak?" Itachi asked which took Naruto's attention.

 

"I wanted to kill myself to not hurt anymore, isn't that weakness?" Naruto asked without looking at the man.

 

"From the perspective of others, then yes, you are weak. For me, you aren't... I was like you before... I wanted to die as well..." Itachi said. There was something in his tone that made Naruto believed him, so the blond turned his head towards Itachi.

 

"What did you do, then?" he asked.

 

Itachi squinted his eyes, for Naruto was reflected by rays of the setting sky. He walked closer, not wanting to startle Naruto.

 

"I was scared to take my own life.. I tried, but it really takes a lot from you to take your life. That's what they don't know. It was scary to hold that knife to your throat, to pull the trigger, to drink those pills, to hang that noose around your neck."

 

It seemed that Naruto was having an inner battle and Itachi decided to continue, "So Naruto, I won't call you a coward if you jump. I really won't.. This is your life, and you decide how you want to live it, or to end it for that matter."

 

Naruto's eyes widen. He let Itachi come closer.

 

"If you decided to jump, I promise you I will take care of your funeral. You have my word that from the day we let you rest, I would visit your grave every day before I go to work until I am able and until the day I die." Itachi said which made Naruto cried. The blond said thank you to the kind Uchiha. The only Uchiha he trusts now.

 

"But.." Itachi added, "If you jump towards me, I promise I will catch you. You don't have to be alone anymore, Naruto."

 

Itachi opened his arms and moved closer again, he was now directly below the wall ledge Naruto was standing on. Itachi could hear the firemen and policemen below, the clamor created by this mess. He could see the restlessness in Naruto's eyes. He could hear Naruto's anguished through his sobs.

 

He stretched his hands more. The only thing he can do was hope that Naruto would jump towards him. One would think that he would grab Naruto the moment he tried to kill himself, but Itachi won't. Naruto tried to kill himself once. He wasn't going to let the man torment himself anymore if he really can't live this life. He knew very well how hard it was.

 

"You'll really visit me?" Naruto asked which made Itachi's heart leaped inside his chest. So that's how it's going to be? He said to himself feeling the bile rise to his throat. Nevertheless, he smiled to Naruto and nodded.

 

Naruto was silent for a while and asked, "You really won't let me alone anymore?"

 

Itachi again nodded.

 

Naruto screamed a long suffering howl, cursing Sasuke and Sakura. Cursing Sarada, cursing the Uchihas. His feet wobbled and almost lost balance. The people down below screamed from the scare.

 

Naruto closed his eyes, a genuine relieved smile spread across his face...

 

..and he jumped.

 

 

~But someday soon I'll wake

 

And find my heart won't have to break~

 

~o~

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

a/n: the song is Lost without your love by The Bread

anyway, sorry for this such sad chapter. things will get better... [ i hope

 

let me rant about depression for a sec- it isn't all sad episodes, sometimes its you losing your sense of time, being bored with everything, you don't care about everyone even yourself, always angry.. sometimes its even you being inappropriately happy, negative thoughts, you have no interest with your friends and activities that made you happy before.. they all said depression are for those who are weak, but is that really the case? people kept forgetting that the brain has its own way of shutting down when struck by grief or shock. or, simply by i dunno.. depression is a sneaky son of a bitch, i tell you.. it's not a pleasant prison. you even scare yourself. scare your love ones.. it isn't something that can be cured by 'you can do it! i believe in you!'.. its a serious disease that killed far too many.. so if you feel like you have the symptoms, then have yourself check. you're not alone..

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 4: Landslide

 

 

 

a/n; thank you very much for the subscriptions,kudos, comment--everything! you guys are awesome and i treasure each and everyone of you! sorry if i can't reply to each one if ever there's new comment for this chapter.. i have limited net access D: but reviews fuels me to continue.. thanks so much!

 

chapter warnings: Slight OCC, un-betaed~ please forgive the mistakes!, Death mentions, cheating mentions, Itachi's musings/broodings basically, this chapter is slow...[slow burn gives me life! -manic laughter-] some character backgrounds, poignant, etc. i decided this chapter before some major shit storms in succeeding ones. /le shrugs/

 

 

~I took my love and took it down

 

I climbed a mountain and I turned around

 

And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills

 

Till the landslide brought me down

 

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?

 

Can the child within my heart rise above?

 

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

 

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

 

Well, I've been afraid of changing

 

'Cause I've built my life around you

 

But time makes you bolder

 

Even children get older

 

And I'm getting older too~

 

~o~

.

 

It was Monday and Itachi woke up a minute before his alarm went off. After he took a quick shower, Itachi got dressed in pants, leaving out his shirt for later and dried his hair. There was no real reason why he kept it long through the years. He just got used to the look and he wasn't Itachi if he's not a creature of habit.

 

For years, he was afraid of changes. It felt like he was leaving a part of his life, which he admitted to be a hassle for some time. Not being able to change means stagnation, and that wasn't a good trait to keep. However, he has no problems with that for now.

 

Clinging to the past helped him cope with the losses he experienced at the end. And he has lost a lot.

 

After he was done with his hair, he went to check his personal emails like he usually does before he got out his bedroom, only stopping when he felt the hunger. By then, Itachi sauntered his way to the kitchen to check if there was anything he can eat. He only has one maid to clean and manage his house and that person only comes at lunch time, which was good for him. Itachi doesn't like company that much. Aside from keeping everything clean, Itachi doesn't require his maid to cook for him. He felt that was too personal.

 

Settling for a fruity cereal, Itachi took one bowl and quietly ate. He left the dish in the sink and went to chug the milk from the carton not caring his manners?it was near empty anyway.

 

A few more minutes and he was dressed.

 

By the time he got out of his house, Kisame and his driver already waited outside. He has three cars: one two-seater, one luxury SUV and one limo. The limo was insisted by his mother, and though it wasn't really his style, he agreed to purchase one so he wouldn't have to argue with her anymore.

 

It proved to be useful too. Like this day when he wanted to relax, he opted to use that one. A little extravagant for a day in the office, but he liked it.

 

So much for relaxation, though. His peace was disrupted when his phone vibrated, only to show his Mother's name. He has no time to talk to her, especially today. It seemed like she already forgot how important this day was for Itachi. He turned off his phone for the meantime, and frowned when he glanced at his Secretary who seemed to be evaluating his mood.

 

"What?" he asked and Kisame took a gulped before he answered.

 

"Sasuke-sama was caught last night coming outside the Hotel room. He seemed to be with someone."

 

Itachi raised his eyebrow urging his trusted employee to go on.

 

"It's a man. A model this time."

 

He said no more, Itachi's expression was sufficient. The elder Uchiha was irritated.

 

Itachi didn't want to deal with this so early, but having no choice, he ordered Kisame to buy everyone's silence, including the model himself. He sighed. His brother was constantly giving him headaches. He cared for the boy, but Sasuke was a foolish man. And it seemed like he wasn't planning to stop soon.

 

Itachi went in his office and his employees that saw him as he was passing, knew from his glares that they weren't allowed to disturb the man. Just outside Itachi's office, Kisame was busy firing calls while the others assisted him with whatever he needed. The boss on the other hand was typing furiously on his computer, taking small sips of the coffee that was served to him. Tea was too mild for his mood.

 

Itachi's eyes were caught on something when he leaned back and rested a bit. It was a picture of him and Shisui with Sasuke when they were younger. It rested on a platinum picture frame near the bookshelves he had in his office. He paused what he was doing for a moment and his mind wandered with what he was going to do with Sasuke.

 

While Itachi kept everyone at a safe distance so he can judge people and interacted with them accordingly, Sasuke has this constant need to be loved and fawned over.

 

Itachi didn't take this all on Sasuke, and of course the man wasn't faultless either. But Itachi knew exactly the roots of the problem.

 

To understand Sasuke, Itachi looked further down their lives. The Uchihas of the olden times were respectable and known to their influence in the Police Force. This continued generations after generations. Then their grandfather deemed it wasn't a worthy and noble life to live. To serve and protect sounded very ideal, but it's not exactly a comfortable life to live in.

 

They started to use their influence to sway some of the officials of Government to help them with businesses. At first they were all profitable, though the means were questionable. As they amassed money and power, they started venturing big. Owning properties, buying small companies, competing on bidding for government projects, though they weren't qualified. See, connections took them far.

 

Needless to say, by the time Itachi was born, the Uchiha clan became powerful enough, though corrupted.

 

He is a genius, and it was obvious that Itachi would go far. At such a small age, he already understood that he would not like to live in the shadows of his clan. It made him feel vile that his cousins older than him were bred to act accordingly, as if they were robbed of their childhood. And when Itachi?the star child and genius?showed miraculous talent, everyone was all over him, ignoring the kids they 'nurtured'. It made him sick even more.

 

At the age of 7, Itachi already voiced out his concerns on how his family dealt with small companies they were ruining as they go, on a day when he was brought to work for him to observe the company he'd be running one day.

 

Itachi has a heart, and his heart longed for peace. Heart and peace doesn't go hand in hand with business. Not their kind of business anyway.

 

By then, Itachi was brainwashed to move and do as they wanted. His imagination and intelligence that they should be nourishing were cut. Uchiha was bred to be cold and uncaring, and in his family, the elder's words were absolute. This made the little him developed the cold and calculating personality that he has. Observing people from a distance...

 

One day, Itachi told his Father that he find the man... pitiful. Living a life with only money and power in mind. Fugaku didn't like it. He didn't like how in the eyes of his son, he saw the things he didn't wish to discover about himself. Everything that Itachi said to him was true. He and the rest of the Uchihas knew from that day on that Itachi was someone they can't use.

 

Itachi doesn't blame his family for loving wealth. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it'll only be bad if you're using it for the misdoings, forcing your beliefs to your offspring killing them in the process. That, among other shameful things. He just thought Fugaku was such a weak person for being swayed by his elders and his equally power-hungry brother, Madara. Maybe his father himself thought there was nothing wrong with the way they do things, and that itself was a scary thought.

 

By then Itachi made his world by category. The good, the bad, the redeemable.

 

His immediate family were labeled and categorized 'Bad'. And those with 'bad' were shoved out of his life, one way or another.

 

A year after, Sasuke was welcomed to the family and Fugaku's world revolved around the young one.

 

But Itachi knew.

 

He knew that Fugaku opted to have another son, though his wife was very weak to carry another baby, was because he wanted someone he can actually control. He watched his father with eyes that can strip the man's soul. Since then he protected Sasuke from their hold. Sheltered him the harsh truth about their family.

 

As a result, Fugaku was furious and left Sasuke alone as well. He left his sons alone, hoping for the next generations. Itachi could never understand the need to be on top for a long time. Everyone has to die at some point, he himself wouldn't want to work until he's old and wrinkly. The money his parents have enough to even fund their grandchildren until they were old and have kids of their own. But he guessed the greed was ingrained in the man?and greed is evil. It makes you love material things among others.

 

What a sad family, Itachi thought.

 

Years passed and Itachi noticed Sasuke's attitude. The boy was in high school when he first caught Sasuke cheating. He was just months away from graduation and saw Sasuke leaving his room with another person which was not Naruto. He asked Sasuke and his answers were vague. He knew he'd be hurting Naruto, but can't stop.

 

It didn't end there as Itachi observed his foolish brother. Sasuke was starved for love, and while Itachi tried to accompany him everywhere and gave his brother everything he could, he himself was still young and green-horned. He knew that he could probably provide for Sasuke if he started working for another company, but Sasuke's bound by familial love. And while Itachi knew the horrible truth, he kept it from Sasuke. At least he wanted to keep the boy away from hurting.

 

Sasuke's constant need to be reminded that there were people who would want and love him was caused by broken and loveless home. Fugaku has no need for a son that doesn't do as he wished, and Sasuke worships his older brother, therefore, Fugaku has no use for him as well. Mikoto on the other hand was oblivious to her surroundings. It's as if she was blinded by the gifts showered to her. She has a 'one-track mind'. She doesn't have the capacity to handle many things at once and while Itachi loves her nonetheless, he knew his mother wouldn't be any help with Sasuke. Itachi saw how his brother was truly happy with Naruto, and though he often hurt the man to prove himself a point, Naruto was Sasuke's home?his safety net.

 

He truly wished for them to be happy. Though, that, too, was taken away from his poor brother.

 

In the end, his category for Sasuke was 'Redeemable'. He keeps the redeemable by his side only at a safe distance. That is until they turned into different categories. Though Sasuke is special to him, he wouldn't mind losing Sasuke if he doesn't change his ways. He needed to upgrade. He's not a little kid like anymore. Itachi'd seen enough bad parents around the Uchiha estate.

 

Itachi stared at his screen and the work that glared at him. He wished nothing more than to leave this company and take it under his family's nose. He wished for it to end.

 

All in good time, he said to himself.

 

.

 

Itachi frowned when he saw the name on his caller ID that afternoon. Why would his mother call him over and over? He sighed, resigning himself to answer the phone else she'll call his office number, or worse, she might actually barge inside his office. That'd be embarrassing.

 

"Hello, Mother. What brought this-

"You should talk to your brother!" she shrieked, which made Itachi moved the phone farther away from his ear.

 

He had an idea what's this about, but nevertheless asked her why.

 

"He was caught by Sakura, coming home with a lot of lo-love bites! She also saw Sasuke with dirty underwe... ugh! Anyway, please talk to your brother! There's a limit to doing such things! If your father hears about this, then he'll definitely be in trouble!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. That wasn't a good sign.

 

Itachi pressed his aching temples and massaged it. He sighed for the umpteenth time and promised her he'd do anything to convince Sasuke of changing his ways. She dropped the call unceremoniously and left Itachi in a foul mood.

 

What makes her think Itachi can convince Sasuke to stop sleeping around and cheat on his wife?

 

A scowl found its way to his face. All this talk about Sasuke started to bother him. It'd be bad if this goes on..

 

Which reminds him.. He'd been meaning to give Sasuke something for a while now.

 

"Uchiha-san? The car's already in front, Sir." Kisame called through the intercom, which startled Itachi in all honesty. He'll never got to get used to Kisame's voice over the speaker, it sounded funny for him. He paused for a minute before he gave instructions as he stalked out of his office unhurriedly. Kisame waited outside his office and immediately went to his side to help Itachi with his things.

 

Unlike the other days when Itachi wore dark, sharply tailored suits - today he wore a light colored ensemble. A white shirt with a navy blue bow. The lining around the edge of his white tailored jacket matched the color of the bow and the pockets as well. The pants, however, was a tad shade darker than the bow. His pants were straight skinny cut, length stylishly around his ankles to reveal a Ted Baker London Braythe Textured Derby shoes in dark. His hair was tied into a tight ponytail accompanied by his glasses with dark, large frames that Itachi wore lately to rest his eyes.

 

Overall, he had a casual vibe than his usual looks which made the ladies and the gentlemen to double-take and looked at him. There was no denying he's a handsome man that commands people to look his way.

 

"By tomorrow, everything would be sent to the Hyugas, along with the copy of the merger materials." Kisame reported while they walked.

 

"Nii-san," Sasuke called. From the looks of it, he was waiting for Itachi to walk by.

 

"Yes?" Itachi stopped for a second to eye his brother. He looked good despite the stress that'd probably plagued him for a few months.

 

"Are you coming to the cemetery?" the younger Uchiha asked as he looked at Itachi from top to toe. Sasuke admitted that his brother has a different style than he had. While Sasuke stick to the chic and comfortable style, Itachi has the modern feel to him, from time to time that is. Lord knows his older brother wore too much black even at home.

 

Itachi nodded as a reply and was on his way when Sasuke stopped him.

 

"Can I come with you? I finished my work for today," he looked hopeful. It has been a few months since they'd talked and while he tried to reach out to his brother, Itachi somehow got busy. The older Uchiha even went abroad for a few times without telling his family his purpose.

 

Well to be fair, Itachi did say he wasn't going to see them for a while. Especially after what happened, Sasuke told himself and felt his chest tightened.

 

"Sure. I'm sure he'll be happy that you came." he wriggled his finger to beckon his younger brother.

 

While they waited for the elevator, Itachi heard Sasuke fired a few instructions to Karin?his secretary?who wore too provocatively for an office environment. But that was just Itachi's opinion. As long as Sasuke was okay with that, then he has no problem with it. It certainly didn't affect him in the least.

 

The Uchiha brothers worked on the same floor and while Itachi's work station was bigger than Sasuke's, he doesn't have much staff, unlike his brother who have at least ten personnel in his department.

 

They were silent going down, even in the car park. Sasuke opted to join Itachi in his limo, since he was not in the mood to drive. As they entered the car, Itachi opened a bottle of Macallan 18 and raised an eyebrow at Sasuke, making the younger Uchiha sigh. Itachi poured a glass for the both of them, the younger one was apprehensive, but accepted it in the end.

 

"Gah!" he cried out as the heat of the Scotch Whisky burned his throat. Itachi chuckled and offered another glass, but he refused. Sasuke was desperately sucking on the fruits that was served by Kisame, seated opposite of them. Itachi asked the driver to play a music on, and they were silent all the way to their destination.

 

The weather that afternoon was windy - somehow dark and cloudy. As the driver parked and the three of them went out. Kisame carried the flowers and sweets?specifically Japanese tea cakes?they were to offer. Itachi on the other hand proceeded to borrow a wooden tub and ladle near the gates of the cemetery* and filled it with water. They were greeted by a few Priests, which they nodded and gave short greetings to.

 

As they walked towards the grave, Sasuke eyed Itachi and his silent form. If he wanted to say something, he held himself back.

 

When they reached the grave, Itachi commended how Kisame already managed to get it cleaned that morning without being asked to; the latter just said it was nothing much. Itachi then placed the incenses that Sasuke lit up, while the flowers were placed at the middle of the grave. The sweets they brought were near it as well.

 

After they were satisfied with their offerings, Itachi scooped the water from the bucket and carefully poured it over the grave stone.

 

Then there was a moment of silence. Kisame tactfully disappeared by then, leaving the brothers to offer their prayers as the incenses burned out. The ambiance was solemn; only the howling of the winds grazing the branches and leaves of the trees nearby can be heard.

 

After a moment, Sasuke was the first one to speak as he looked at his brother's back.

 

"Does the pain disappear, Nii-san?" Sasuke sounded confused and a tad hurt. Probably drained from his lost as well. That surprised Itachi for a while, then a smile then crept his face. The emotion was a bittersweet one..

 

Itachi took a few moments to pause before he shook his head, "You just get numb to it, but it's always there. It took a piece of me, I'm never going to get it back."

 

Sasuke clenched his fist. He understood the feeling, somewhat.

 

They stared at the grave for a few more minutes as the incenses finally died out. Etiquette dictates they should collect the sweets back for the birds can and will eat, which were harmful for them, not to mention the mess they can cause in the place. Kisame offered to do the cleaning and Itachi let him. Sasuke by this time was a few feet away from Itachi, staring at his older brother. After Kisame was done, he took the bucket with him and let the Uchihas alone for a few minutes.

 

Sasuke saw his brother placed a hand on top of the grave, with a face that showed forlorn. Sasuke's eyesight was good, and he somehow read Itachi's lips as he whispered.

 

"Are you resting well where you are?" the older Uchiha said to the owner of the well loved grave.

 

The sad form Sasuke saw somehow broke him as well.

 

Few minutes and they were back to the car. Itachi man remained impassive throughout the ride, though Sasuke could see that the man was sad since his brother kept on drinking and not saying anything.

 

It has been a while since he has seen Itachi since that day, and he looked the same, which was good. A lot has happened between them the last time, and frankly, a part of Sasuke was hoping not to see him as well. He doesn't have the right to, that's what he felt during those times.

 

"Sasuke," Itachi called, his voice void of emotions like the usual. Sasuke's heart leaped in his chest.

 

"Hm?"

 

Itachi pulled something out from his pockets after a few seconds of fumbling. It was a little box that looked a container of jewelry. Sasuke took it and saw the familiar famous jewelers logo. He raised one eyebrow, questioning his brother. Itachi urged him to open which he did, the light inside the car was a little dim as they were passing under a bridge.

 

When they were finally out of it, Sasuke saw that it was a platinum hair pin with tomatoes design in it. He gave Itachi a questioning look, and before Itachi answered, he gave Sasuke another glass that looked like the younger one has no option but to take.

 

"Sasuke," Itachi started, his deep voice rang, "...be good to your daughter. In a few years, she'll also be dating someone.. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?" the older Uchiha spoke, somehow a gentler tone with him. The long haired Uchiha quaffed his own drink and hissed after. Kisame gave the man some grapes, which he took quickly.

 

Uchiha Itachi is a man of few words. He didn't need to explain further what he meant.

 

Sasuke looked down on the hairpin. It was cute?Sarada would look good in it. It seemed like Itachi went out his way to request it be made just for her. A small smile found Sasuke's face. Sarada's the only one who's keeping him from slipping away and it would break him if Sarada got hurt in any way. She was his pride and joy. His happiness with a seemingly monotonous life.

 

"Yeah," Sasuke closed the jewelry box and tuck it inside his suit pocket. "Thanks Nii-san."

 

He handed his glass to his brother and asked for a refill. Itachi then grunted their famous 'Hn' before he poured the man another one.

 

When Sasuke was in the middle of his drink, Itachi spoke - "You'll be getting back to the office though. I need you to finish the merger contract details." Itachi chuckled and Sasuke choked on his drink. He heard his otouto said 'this bastard' under his breath.

 

.

 

Itachi went home earlier than usual. He had nothing to do for the day and there was nowhere to go. Kisame and his other employees were stressed during the planning they'd had a few days ago and it was high time he gave them a well deserved rest.

 

He has been drinking from afternoon till dinner time, and though the buzz already went down, his stomach started grumbling. After a quick shower, he scavenged his pantry and fridge for something to eat. There was nothing that appealed to him, making him surrender to takeouts like the usual.

 

As he was towel drying his hair and looking at the menus, something caught his eyes. There it was, a plate of dangos neatly wrapped by a plastic sheet.

 

A note beside it said his housemate went shopping and would be back soon.

 

Itachi tore the plastic wrap and took one stick of the sweets. He sniffed it a few times before he ate. It was still warm, which means it'll take time before the blond goes home.

 

Naruto doesn't usually leave food for Itachi. They were living together, but they didn't mind each other much. Just saying their greetings in the mornings and at night time. Sometimes Naruto would watch TV beside Itachi until he falls asleep. Itachi by then covers the man with a blanket and by the time he wakes up in the morning, Naruto was already out. Either he was running, was going for an interview, or meeting with his friends.

 

That incident that happened four months ago, Naruto jumped towards Itachi and the man was more than relieved to have the blond by his arms. That doesn't mean everything was okay from there on.

 

No. Naruto needed help and he admitted to himself that Naruto has a long way to go before full recovery. He convinced Naruto slowly to go through rehabilitation in the US which the blond agreed, surprisingly, too easy.

 

Naruto said to Itachi that he knew deep inside that he needed help and with Itachi sponsoring everything, even showing emotional and mental support, Naruto got sent to a state of the art facility. Itachi from time to time, visited him?though it wasn't frequent. Still, Naruto got the privilege to chat with the man over email and found comfort with their exchanges.

 

During this time, Itachi was surprised by Naruto's range. Their topic was never boring; from music, to art, politics, and science. There was also an almost an unhealthy knowledge and obsession towards ninjas which Itachi found very cute. He really wondered why Sasuke called Naruto 'dobe'. There was nothing 'dead last' about the man. Everything around the man was interesting.

 

It didn't take long before Naruto was out of the 'Self-Harm' category in no time. Showing tremendous progress, Itachi decided to visit Naruto a month ago and asked the Doctors in-charge if it was possible to continue his therapies and recovery back home. They all agreed instantly with the condition that Itachi should arrange a living situation for the man so that he'll never be alone.

 

Itachi already moved Naruto's things to his place and would be hassle if he went out and find another apartment for the said blond. His own house was ridiculously big for his taste. Two stories, 5 bedrooms and a large backyard with garden.

 

The estate was sold to him by his friend when they were migrating to Canada and he was in love with the place. Particularly, the beauty of the Music Room. Not that Itachi can play anything other than Piano, which was ingrained through Uchihas (probably from the time it was invented).

 

He doesn't have any qualms living with the said blond and Naruto was up for it as well.

 

Truthfully speaking, they both know that they were.. lonely.

 

Why not brood, mope, and sulk together?

 

Itachi laughed at the thought.

 

Not long after, Itachi found himself in the said music room. It was facing the small garden he tended for some time now, whenever he was in the mood to work up a sweat without having to go the gym. The lights that illuminated it made it look beautiful. Itachi didn't want to be corny and melancholic over it, but he what can he say? He was a lover of beautiful things. The garden is not that big, but there were varieties of flowers perfectly manicured through the earth. He was pretty proud of that particular patch of land.

 

On regular days when he can't keep it, it was tended by one of his employees who handled his matter on his other business, Zetsu. The man likes plants and was pretty gung-ho about it. He didn't mind. Zetsu's an interesting character and Itachi don't find him bad, at least not yet.

 

He was mindlessly hitting the keys of the piano through muscle memory, when he heard someone opened the door.

 

Naruto wore his lounge wear already, an apron wrapped around his waste. The man looked like he had his hair-cut, which made him looked younger.

 

The blond didn't said anything and just listened to Itachi. Him too, just continued playing the piece.

 

Naruto removed his apron and placed it on top of a chair nearby. He then walked closer to Itachi and sat beside the man, his back faced the piano while he rested his elbow on his thigh, wrists under his chin.

 

Itachi continued playing, comforted by the silence. Naruto smelled like food which was inviting. He chuckled and that seemed to stop Naruto's stupor.

 

"What song is that?" The blond asked. His eyes were still not looking at Itachi.

 

"It's '?tude Op. 10, No. 3 or Tristesse by Chopin," Itachi answered as he softly turned the page of the music sheet.

 

"Hmm, it sounded? sad. But it's beautiful," the blond shifted in his seat and faced the piano as well.

 

Itachi's eyes widen a bit. If there was something he learned during Naruto's stay with him was that, the man is highly observant. Sometimes it's unnerving him.

 

"Funny enough, Tristesse was not named by Chopin. It was given by others because the melody translated a feeling of, well, parting lovers. Tristesse means 'Sadness' in French," Itachi explained. "So you nailed the feel to it." he followed that one with an amused chuckle.

 

Naruto remained silent again, watching Itachi's long fingers create music. Itachi admitted he was rusty and apologized whenever he struck a wrong key and fumbled to get the right one. Naruto didn't mind, though he humored Itachi, fake gasping as he does.

 

There was a weird mood between them?Itachi felt it. Somehow, it was the blond who was comforting him and offering some kind of help rather than the other way around.

 

After the song ended, Naruto asked Itachi if he wanted to have dinner with him. Itachi was about to say no, but his traitorous stomach decided it was the right time to grumble and protest.

 

They were silent?nothing special about their dinner. Just pork with ginger and rice among the side dishes. It was delicious though, and Itachi was again, unnerved by how much he was getting used to Naruto's presence.

 

What bothered him too, was that Naruto was too good at reading the mood. He was silent when he needed him to, he was engaging in conversation when Itachi needed him to. There was something scary about that. Maybe for someone like Sasuke who sees the world black and white, Naruto was dumb and selfless, but Naruto was far from that. He has keen sense, in a way, Naruto reminded Itachi of a hunter. Eyeing his prey in slow, meticulous dance.

 

Itachi's life was slowly changing and he doesn't like it. He was even surprised one day when Naruto called him 'Tachi' prompting him to call Naruto without honorific. Somehow the blond has a way to creep under his skin and make his way without Itachi knowing. Not good.

 

"'Tachi, I went and enrolled this semester." Naruto just served their desserts and caught Itachi's interest.

 

"I thought you already finished college? Graduate school?" He asked. It was odd because Naruto took Business and he wasn't the type to further such studies.

 

"No. New course." Naruto said nonchalantly and Itachi raised an eyebrow.

 

"I never knew what to take during College that's why I stopped for a year. Sasu?" Naruto caught himself and shook his head.

 

"Anyway, I was pressured to study so I took Business Management without really placing much thought to it. Now that I had some time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life, I decided it was time for a change." Naruto grinned and sprinkled some crushed nuts to his own ice cream sundae. He placed the rest in the middle of the dinner table, somehow saying Itachi should try some as well but didn't voice it out.

 

Again, that word. Itachi remained impassive, though. Enjoying his plain vanilla ice cream.

 

"Which one?" Itachi asked, implying which course did Naruto took.

 

"Oh? Uhm, Psychology.." Naruto smiled and pushed the plate of nuts towards Itachi. Now he wasn't so subtle. Itachi sighed and took a pinch and sprinkled it on top of his as well. He took a taste and liked how the salt and sweet melded so well. Naruto has a triumphant looked on his face, which somehow pissed the raven off.

 

"Why that?" Itachi asked, he sounded tactless, but Naruto was used to him.

 

"Well.. people looked at those who needed psychological help like their a leper. And I'm tired of those irresponsible people who advised people with depression and anxiety to 'feel better'. Since I received and is continually receiving help from professionals, then I think that kind of job isn't so bad. Somehow, I wanted to be part of those who helps," Naruto shrugged and added. "Plus, watching and observing people is like my gift."

 

Taken aback, Itachi stared at Naruto. "That sounded great, but are you ready?" he asked.

 

"Not really, no. I can only take a few classes. I'm also trying to apply work, but there's not much luck in that department," Naruto took a spoonful of his sundae and made happy noises.

 

Itachi pictured it already and a small smirk colored his lips. "I think it suits you. Good luck." he said.

 

"Thanks Tachi!" Naruto smiled and pinched a few crushed nuts before he sprinkled it more on Itachi's ice cream.

 

The Uchiha glared at him.

 

After dinner, Itachi and Naruto parted ways and continued the rest of their evening on their own. Naruto was thirsty and craved for some snacks so he decided to stalk the kitchen when he heard the living room had several people talking.

 

Being scared was his initial reaction, he was about to run towards Itachi's room when he heard Sasuke's voice along with Itachi's and an unknown man.

 

His heart leaped in place. He walked slowly and shakily towards the source of the sound and he saw that it was just Itachi watching on the big screen. It was a home movie, Itachi was probably the one holding the camera while Sasuke was there digging in the sand. Naruto saw his own mop of hair and remembered that this was the time when they went to the beach. All four of them.

 

It was Shisui's birthday and coincidentally, their first day of summer break during middle school. He can't help but chuckle at Sasuke's skinny figure while his ridiculously baggy shorts flapped as he ran. They were so young.

 

Itachi saw Naruto and waved a hand at him to join him. Naruto took some drinks before he sat beside the man, who very much was a sitting temptation. He was shirtless, his own pants hung dangerously low against his hips. He was also drunk, which gave his eyes a half lidded look.

 

Though it did not do much damage to Naruto since his libido was pretty much low, still, it was a nice eye candy.

 

They watched the movie, sometimes chuckling sometimes going on all out laughing. Those days were their happy days.

 

Naruto was the first one to spoke, "Shisui-nii is such a handsome man. I miss him."

 

Itachi looked at Naruto's face and knew very well that he was telling the truth, there was no lip-service in his tone. He poured himself another glass of his drink and hummed Naruto an agreement.

 

"I miss him too."

 

Naruto looked at Itachi's way and asked a drink as well. Itachi gave his own glass to Naruto and the man swigged it and hissed.

 

The movie continued; they both enjoyed reminiscing. It was Naruto who decided to speak again when Itachi paused the movie to get more drinks and snacks.

 

"Tachi.. I know I've said this a lot of times since then, but I really am sorry for your lost. For Shisui-nii and your son as well." He glanced down, and took a quick gulp of the very strong drink. It has been a while since he drank himself silly and it was not a bad idea to refresh himself on the feeling. Seeing his teme was also hard as well. Those were the days when they were young and so in love.

 

Watching the movie has brought a poignant feeling.

 

"You're 'Good', Naruto.." Itachi let out an amused smirk and shook his head. As if he was resigning to something. The blond didn't ask further.

 

They didn't know what happened or how long were they drinking, but morning came and Itachi found himself in the living room, his head rested on the sofa headrest while Naruto used his lap as a pillow.

 

He looked around and studied the situation first. There were two bottles of hard liquor and on the floor lay scattered, discarded chip bags and uneaten cakes. It looked like they'd drunk themselves to sleep.

 

He groaned as he felt the nausea. How the hell Sasuke keep up with hangovers was beyond Itachi. He for one, was reminded once again why he hated drinking. The head and body ache he was sporting was overwhelming.

 

"Ngh.."

 

Itachi stiffened when he felt Naruto moved from his lap. The said man was curled in a fetal position which made him looked goofy. Naruto wasn't small nor petite, so him curling like that made Itachi laughed a bit. It was funny.

 

"..."

 

His lips cast downwards. His frown deepened.

 

He doesn't laugh. He smirks, but it has been years since he laughed. His chest ached magnificently.

 

"I really don't like changes..." he muttered as he tried to push Naruto off him with no luck. The blond latched himself to Itachi and clung to his pants.

 

Nevertheless, Itachi decided to continue napping while he let the man use his lap. The warmth wasn't so bad, he said to himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

a/n; the song is titled Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

 

* is a Japanese Grave Visiting Etiquette

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 5: Somewhere only we know

 

 

chapter warnings: long chapter [i'm not effing kidding. look at the word count. I got too fired up!], OOC[ish], polyamory couple, regrets, drama, unbetaed! please forgive the mistakes!,

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

~I came across a fallen tree

 

I felt the branches of it looking at me

 

Is this the place we used to love?

 

Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

 

Oh simple thing where have you gone?

 

I'm getting old and I need something to rely on

 

So tell me when you're gonna let me in

 

I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

 

And if you have a minute why don't we go

 

Talk about it somewhere only we know?

 

This could be the end of everything

 

So why don't we go

 

Somewhere only we know?

 

Somewhere only we know?~

 

~o~

 

 

October 9

 

Sasuke has been cold for a few days now and Sakura knew exactly what was the reason. A few days ago, they'd received a wedding invitation from Shikamaru and what do you know? Naruto was asked to be one of the groomsman.

 

Sakura has no problems with Naruto seeing Sasuke there. She knew sooner than later, they'd have to face the tune and the consequences of their actions. After she had birth, she somehow declined a lot of invitations from her best friend Ino to hangout. Even if they didn't voice it out loud, Sakura knew their friends actually sided with Sasuke and Naruto's rather than hers. The day that news broke out that Naruto attempted to commit suicide, Sakura has the sudden urged to search for the man and apologize with all her heart. She tried, but there was no luck finding him.

 

And what would she say if she ever find him? Sorry for stealing your love? Sakura doesn't know. She was somehow stunted emotionally and mentally since she learned she was pregnant. All she wanted by then was Sasuke. But what she wanted was never hers to keep. In a way she knew what she had to do, but doesn't have the maturity to do so.

 

Love makes you irrational and she loves Sasuke. She loves Sarada and their little family. She knew it would take a few years for Sasuke would love her. Though the process to get there was ripping her apart. What if Sasuke never came to love her? That would literally end her. Times like this made her wished she didn't fall in love with someone taken. As Shikamaru always says, 'It's troublesome'.

 

Sakura was done with her bath, ready for a good night's sleep when she caught a glance at Sasuke and his sad, disturbed form. Really, she knew why her husband was cold?colder than he usually was. Sasuke wanted to be with Naruto but they don't know where was he. What has he been doing and where can they see him.

 

In a month, they'd be able to. She wondered how will she face the friend she betrayed for her little happiness. Will he ever forgive her fully? Somehow she dreaded the thought of that; Naruto ignoring her and managed to get all of their friends' sympathy were her worst nightmare.

 

Sakura looked at her husband who was currently drinking alone, again. She shook her head?she doesn't like to think like that. She doesn't have the right to even make Naruto the villain. That was her role here.

 

"Good Night, Sasuke-kun. Please don't stay up too late." She called and Sasuke stood up and walked towards her swiftly. He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

 

"Sorry, Sakura." he said. She smiled and nodded.

 

Yeah, all they need is time. And she's going to give it to him.

October 10

 

Morning came and Sasuke found himself in a pool of paper works. He often wondered how Itachi does his so fast. He had more staff than him and the older Uchiha has more responsibilities. Is he superhuman?

 

"Itachi-sama wish to have a word with you, Sir." Karin called through the intercom and Sasuke grunted. He stood up abruptly and walked towards his brother's office. Kisame let him through.

 

Itachi sat behind his desk, busy checking his also mountainous load of paper works. Itachi is the type of person to read and scrutinized the fine prints, so of course he has a lot to do as well.

 

"You called?"

 

Sasuke sat down and Itachi said without looking at him, "The temporary restraining order was not extended. Though I suggest you keep it together,"

 

Sasuke was pissed. He knew that Itachi sided with Naruto, but going as far as making sure he filed the order against him was too much.

 

One thing has been bothering him as well?Where the hell is Naruto?

 

"Do you know where he is?" he asked, his tone was a little harsher than he intended it to be. Itachi nodded and didn't say no more. It seemed like Sasuke was dismissed as well. The younger Uchiha stood up but before he went outside the door, he spoke.

 

"Is he at least doing well? It's his birthday today. If you can, please treat him to something nice, Nii-san."

 

Itachi paused what he was doing and studied Sasuke's face.

 

"He's doing fine," Itachi said coolly after a few seconds. "He's back to school, studying something new. He's also working, he's fine. When you see him, wish him well."

 

Sasuke nodded as calmly as he could. At least he knew Itachi knows where he was and the dobe was doing fine. That was a start.

 

Itachi watched Sasuke's form as he walked out. What his younger brother said caught his attention. He didn't know it was Naruto's birthday. And If he did, he might've forgotten about it since their interaction the last few days were pretty much nonexistent. Both Naruto and Itachi were busy with their lives and just a passing hi and eating together was their routine.

 

Not to mention, Sasuke sounded sad yet he made sure Itachi knew. Maybe he was having troubles with this. Not being able to celebrate it together with his ex must be hard for Sasuke as well. The older Uchiha felt guilty?he focused his attention on helping Naruto and while Sasuke was indubitably at fault, he forgot that man was hurting as well.

 

"Something nice, huh? Hmm," Itachi checked his phone and called Naruto.

 

.

 

.

 

Work day ended with Sasuke being impossible as he could. There was no pleasing the man that afternoon. He was hell to work with. Even Karin?his devout follower and stalker in every sense of the word?somehow went out his way, whimpering whenever he shouted and barked orders at her.

 

Sasuke knew he was being unreasonably mad. But he can't really help what he was feeling. He misses Naruto and that was the fact. Him moving on to an unknown place was hard. Studying something new? What was it? Job? What kind of job? Doing fine? How fine?

 

He was mad at Itachi. He felt the jealousy running through his veins. Itachi knew these things with Naruto and refused to tell him.

 

Deciding to swallow his pride, for he can't take it anymore, Sasuke went out and sought Kiba. He found the man on the floor below, flirting with one of the receptionists.

 

"Kiba." he said, immediately taking attention.

 

"Wow. What an honor. What can I do for ya'? It's rare for you to come down 'ere." Kiba grinned, somehow he knew Sasuke was in a bad mood and whenever the pale skinned bastard was in a bad mood, Kiba made sure to annoy him more.

 

"Do you have a minute?" Sasuke fought back the urge to punch the smug face of Kiba.

 

Kiba waved the woman he was talking to and followed Sasuke. The man led him to the smoking area near the break room and vending machines.

 

"Spill it." he said. He knew Sasuke was going to ask about Naruto. It was the blond's birthday and though his friends wanted to celebrate with him, Naruto said he was tired, and basically broke so he won't go out. They all knew Naruto just wanted to be left alone for a while and they were happy Itachi was nice enough to update Gaara, which the redhead happily shares with Temari and the rest of Naruto's closest friends.

 

"Do you know where Naruto lives?" Sasuke asked. He wanted to buy at least a can of cola for Kiba, but it seemed the man didn't want to waste more time. Kiba is his friend, but he can be insufferable if he wanted to.

 

"What's in it for you, Sasuke? We all know what happened a few months ago. Are you going to mess with his head again?" Kiba asked without looking at him. He wanted to smoke so he asked his companion the permission to. Sasuke didn't care if he did.

 

"I just.. I need to know. I love Naruto. I just want to see him. See if he's doing fine."

 

Kiba snorted, "Geez. That was.. I didn't know ya' had it in you to be so, romantic? Any-who, yes, I know." Kiba sighed. He wanted to make fun of Sasuke further, but he's not that much of an asshole. He can see Sasuke's desperation.

 

"If you hired someone to do the job for you, 's not really that difficult to discover."

 

"The TRO was not in my favor." Sasuke answered dryly.

 

"Ah," Kiba nodded. "'Kay. Well, Naruto went to the US for his therapy. He was clinically depressed. Heard he went to the rooftop to jump few days after ya' know." Kiba motioned his hand like slicing his wrist and Sasuke cringed. He was quaking softly, fists in a tight clenched. Kiba continued?

 

"Your brother saved him that day, and from what I heard, he funded Naruto's stay there. Now he's also living with him." Kiba got a nasty idea, he peeked to Sasuke's frozen form and snickered. "Maybe they're shacking up. Lovers? Ho!"

 

Upon hearing it, Sasuke ran towards his brother's office in haste, leaving an amused Kiba behind.

 

He was a little too late, for the said man was already out. He asked one of his employees and they all said he was out for a meeting. Tomorrow was Sunday and even today, they were supposed to rest. Yet they required their employee to come in preparation for their biggest partnership coming next week.

 

Sasuke decided to come by Itachi's place tomorrow.

 

.

 

Everything was going smoothly; Naruto slowly got the hang of things. His University life somehow got back on track. He got immune to the gossips surrounding him and decided to ignore them. In turn, they too, stopped talking about it. Of course it was not easy, but Iruka and Kakashi were there all the way to help him. Slow, baby steps.

 

"Hey, mind if I join you for lunch?" a familiar voice asked behind Naruto when he was busy wolfing down his lunch. He looked behind and a small smile over his otherwise busy mouth showed.

 

He waved his hand and pointed to the seat in front of him. Sai sat, a tray on his hand containing his curry lunch set. "How are you, dickless?" the man asked with an obvious fake smile on his face that'd compelled Naruto to roll his eyes.

 

He has no animosity over Sai and Sasuke's past. For some reason, Naruto knew that Sai was a bastard, but he's a bastard who didn't cling to Sasuke. He wasn't even friends with Sai when that happened and he knew Sai wasn't serious with Sasuke either. For what it's worth, Sai apologized to Naruto when he confronted the man. Now, Naruto was not stupid. He just didn't see the reason why hold a grudge on someone when he himself forgave Sasuke. The two were equally at fault. Dragging his feelings would only stunt his growth.

 

"Good. How's everything?" asked Naruto, he eyed Sai as the man elegantly ate his meal. He was pale, dark haired with lean body built. Naruto admitted Sai has the same beauty as Sasuke. Of course the bastard was a notch atop.

 

"It sucks that I had to stop for a year. Now I'm readjusting to everythin'. What about you? Heard from Ino, you graduated, what's this then?" Sai casually pointed at Naruto and the blond shrugged his shoulders.

 

"Shifted Course.."

 

Sai didn't ask the reason why?he just understood from all the gossips he heard at school. Normally, he would have said insensitive remarks here and there, but that would reopen up past he doesn't want to. So he just took a jab at how Naruto looked lame with his new baggy clothes. Something about looking sloppy.

 

"I gotta go, are ya' coming to Shika's wedding?" Naruto asked as he gathered his things and tidied his lunch box.

 

Sai nodded, "Yeah, but you already knew that, right? 'mean you and I are groomsmen after all."

 

"Oh, yeah," Naruto scratched the back of his head. "I forgot." he said sheepishly.

 

"Of course you didn't. Sasuke's a groomsman too. Will you be okay?" Sai raised an eyebrow. Deciding to tease after all.

 

Naruto frowned and squirted the remains of his juice box at Sai's which the man dodge effortlessly. "I'll be fine, you bastard."

 

He waved at the man and went to continue the rest of his day.

 

.

 

"Naruto, get a move on will ya? We have lots of things to do, Un."

 

"Coming, here!" Naruto panted hard, he wiped the sweat off his brows using his sleeve. It was such a long time since he went to work that demanded physical strength, lifting the boxes of deliveries to sort them in the storage room. He loves it.

 

"Deidara-nii, I'm done. Can I take a break?" Naruto asked the man in front whose busy gnawing his pen while he looked and checked the boxes Naruto stacked in front of him.

 

"Huh?" Deidara looked at the younger man in front of him. Said man was holding his knees and wheezing that Deidara found pretty funny. "Sure. I'll take it with you..." he patted Naruto's head and walked in front towards the break room, Naruto followed behind.

 

Deidara, a handsome blond, is Naruto's boss and Itachi's business associate. Now, Naruto had no idea of this when he saw the Classified Ads in the newspaper. He just applied for the position of assistant; the working hours were pretty flexible. Deidara works as a fashion stylist and importer of high-end textile and manage their business along with his life partner- Sasori; an equally handsome man with fiery redhead.

 

What was more shocking was that Sasori's related to Gaara.

 

Normally, Naruto wouldn't want to work for someone who has close relations with his friends, but he was immediately drawn to Deidara's commanding yet gentle personality. The man also has a healthy amount of love for himself and his work that Naruto envy. And even though Naruto knew the conflict it'll bring later on, he accepted their offer and Deidara was happy. They needed the help badly and knowing Naruto was close to family, they were happy to have him.

 

That and the fact that Itachi was living with the man.

 

They were College friends with the particular Uchiha and they knew the man before he became colder than he was now. They'd seen the abrupt changed Itachi had after that day and was shocked?equally intrigued?to see Naruto's address. Who was this blond who lives with him?

 

From Deidara's memory, Naruto was the loudmouthed brat that hangs out with Itachi's younger brother. So why was he living with Itachi then?

 

"How's everything, Naruto-kun?" Deidara unwrapped his store bought meal and looked at Sasori, who was busy talking to someone on the phone. He gave the man a questioning look, but his husband just shook his head and leaned down to place a lingering kiss on the older blond's forehead. Sasori walked out of the break room to check their other employees. Seeing their affection, Naruto's face had a tinge of blush. Even though he was used to the two being open with each other the week he was there, he still felt embarrassed.

 

"It's great, I guess. I needed a car though, so I'm going over second hand ones, but see nothing that fits my needs and budget, yet." Naruto settled for tea and slumped his body on the seat. Their break room had one couch and two seats with a coffee table in the middle; a small TV and a vending machine, and a coffee maker that seemed to be unused for a while. No one drinks coffee in their office.

 

The color of the walls was the main attraction of the room. It was painted with Trompe-l'?il arts that Deidara himself made. For Naruto, the older blond could make more money selling these type of art rather than running his business, and who knew if Deidara was already doing that aside from styling famous people.

 

"Car? Hm, Why don't you ask Itachi, Un. He has a lot of connections outside Uchiha businesses."

 

Deidara's eyes caught the scar on Naruto's wrist, which Naruto noticed, prompting him to tug his sleeve and hid it. Deidara felt he was rude and faked a cough.

 

"About that, how did you know Itachi?" Naruto was curious. Since Deidara and Sasori insisted he should treat them as a friend rather than an employer, he did what they asked. That instant, Sasori entered the room again, holding a box of pizza and three cans of cola. He sat beside Deidara and the said blond shoved his convenience store food to the side, making happy noises as he pulled a slice of pizza, strings of melted cheese oozing out of it. Naruto took one as well after it was offered to him.

 

"We dated Itachi?or more like?we fucked."

 

Naruto's tea came spurting out his mouth, luckily not hitting any of his two bosses.

 

"Wha?"

 

Sasori chuckled as well as Deidara, "Polyamory." the redhead pointed at his chest and to Deidara which the man smiled as a reply.

 

By then Naruto's head was short-circuiting. Itachi dated the two?

 

"Ah, I know what you're thinkin' Naruto-kun. Itachi never loved us, it was more a physical and consensus sexual relationship for him. For us, though, we loved him, Un." Deidara said matter-of-fact.

 

"But.." Naruto opened his mouth, but no words form.

 

"Do you think it's disgusting?" Sasori leaned his elbow to his crossed legs and rested his chin on his wrist. There was an amused smirk on his lips that Naruto admitted to be, alluring. What can say? He found the two hauntingly beautiful.

 

Naruto took a minute to think, he wanted to be honest and say he doesn't understand how two people who were dating can love others, but he honestly has no answer.

 

"I dunno'. I never thought about it till this day. I never met anyone like you guys. Maybe someone who cheats on their partner and equally love their lovers, but not both." Naruto shook his head. "And with the same person, no less."

 

"Well.." Deidara took a few gulps of his drink and continued, "Itachi's so very easy to love. One, he's good looking. Two, he knows what he wants. Three, he doesn't let money go over his head. He also have a weird sense of humor, borderline sadistic." Sasori let out a playful chuckle and Naruto cringed at the thought. He knew somehow Itachi has hidden kink?the man was stoic but his eyes said he wasn't the all-too-serious type. Many times Naruto has been a victim of Itachi's 'gentle teasing'.

 

"The list can go on, Un. Sasori and I knew each other for a long time and found ourselves to be polygamous. Nobody understood us, Naruto-kun. They all thought, 'ah, this lovers were just looking for someone to have threesome with.'"

 

Naruto was taken aback for he thought that too for a brief second.

 

"But it's not really like that. It's not always about sex, and our sex life doesn't always have to be an orgy. We just wanted Itachi to be happy and loved him regardless of what he wanted out of our relationship. You could say, our hearts are just different from everyone else." Sasori added.

 

"Is it hard? I mean to love someone other than your husband?" Naruto asked Sasori and the latter looked at Deidara and back at the curious blond.

 

"No. I love Dei and it won't change. If he ever came to love someone else and wanted that person in our life, I would love them too. Platonic or otherwise."

 

"Same thing as Sasori-danna said." Deidara commented. Sasori chuckled and fixed Deidara's hair-tie for him. They looked so happy with each other.

 

Naruto was having mixed emotions about this, but said no more. Maybe he was biased because he was repeatedly cheated on, but to know that there were couple like them made him see that his life has yet to mature. He still needed to see a lot of things. A small smile found its way on his face.

 

It's as if it was timed, Itachi decided to call Naruto. The blond had a shocked look on his face that Deidara and Sasori found funny. "Why are you so startled?" the older blond asked and Naruto apologized, somewhat sheepishly.

 

"Hello, Tachi?"

 

The lovers, hearing the conversation were surprised by the familiarity. Deidara smirked and thought it was cute that Itachi was allowing the creature in front of them to address him like that.

 

"Uhm," Naruto looked at the two and excused himself for a second. He stood at the corner of the room and took the call while the two continued eating. It was four in the afternoon and they already skipped their lunch. Sasori in particular was having double vision from hunger already. Though, their ears were attentive with Naruto's phone call. They both knew the blond couldn't take it outside because they have deliveries ongoing.

 

"No. After this I'm free. Yeah? Okay. Uh, what should I wear? Oh? Okay, see you."

 

Naruto sighed audibly and sat back. Deidara had his eyebrow raised as if asking 'Well? What's the call about? It sounded like he asked you on a date!'

 

"Itachi wanted to have dinner with me."

 

Bingo! The redhead and the long haired blond thought.

 

"Are you two dating perchance?" Sasori leered and Deidara elbowed his side.

 

"What? No! It's..." Naruto gazed down and fidgeted in his seat, "It's my birthday today.. He wanted to treat me for dinner is all."

 

"Eh?! What are you doing here then? Go get ready! Geez, why didn't you say it's your birthday? Why haven't we seen his birthday on the resume, Un?" Deidara asked his husband and said man shrugged. They were so busy that they hardly had time to notice other things.

 

"Do you have something to wear? I overheard you asked him." Sasori stood up and cleared the rest of the leftovers. From the looks of it, his Dei was already in his styling mood. Eyeing Naruto carefully. Nodding and mumbling to himself.

 

"Actually, I was thinking of wearing just the shirt I bought last week for interviews and maybe dress slacks."

 

"We can't let you do that!" Deidara slapped his own thigh and stood up. "Come with me, un."

 

"Eh? But I can-

 

"Stop the bullshit. Come!" Deidara carted the younger blond and Sasori waved at them.

 

"Have fun, dear. Leave me all the work for the deliveries. I don't have problems with that." the redhead deadpanned.

 

Deidara just laughed at him.

 

.

 

It was seven in the evening, Naruto was already dressed and waited by the door. Kisame was asked to pick up the blond while Itachi remained in the office. The raven said he'll come to the restaurant immediately after his last meeting and would like Naruto to wait there.

 

A few minutes and Kisame picked Naruto up. His initial reaction when he saw Naruto was to whistle in appreciation.

 

Naruto was dressed sharply, with the form fitting casual suit. Tailored jacket with black straight-cut slacks, accentuating his thighs and ass, (as much as Kisame tried to ignore). The blond's shirt was beige or off-white, playfully printed with with a sleeping fox near its collar. It seemed like Naruto got a haircut; his sides were slightly cropped?most of it was combed slicked back. Shoes and watch were nice as the rest of his look.

 

Kisame gave the man a grin and high five, which Naruto took happily. "Looks good! Happy Birthday, kid."

 

"Thanks!"

 

He was nervous because it was his first time to wear something like this. When he agreed to Deidara to dress him up?more like forced to?he was surprised that it wouldn't end with his boss lending him clothes. He summoned his whole squad to do Naruto a make-over. They'd let him use the shower and would have come inside with him if Naruto wasn't firmer with saying 'fuck no, let me clean my filth in peace!'

 

After they were done debating what would look good on the tanned and gorgeous blond, they proceeded to apply a lot of cream on his already smooth face. Deidara said he looked stressed, and would not tolerate him walking in a Roberto Cavalli suit looking like a hobo. Naruto had no idea what that was, but nodded anyway. Deidara shrieked like a banshee when he wasn't pleased with the look. Naruto was sure he was going to be murdered if he refused so he let them plucked, waxed and shaved him.

 

Kisame was silent during the ride. It seemed like Itachi used the limo and let Kisame fetch the blond by his two-seater. They arrived in the said hotel, Naruto was escorted by Kisame inside. They reached the 45th floor with Naruto going paler by the minute. When they were escorted to the somehow private dinning Itachi booked, he was left alone. Kisame said he has to come back to the office.

 

Naruto has no idea what to do. What if Itachi decided not to come? He had no means to pay even the glass of water there!

'Okay, maybe I can pay that. I need to calm down.'

 

"Wine, Sir?" the waiter smiled at Naruto. His nerves in full force right now, he had no choice but to nod.

 

The man gave him a menu for the selection and he has no idea what to get. "Uhm.."

 

"Would you like to talk to the sommelier? He can suggest you wine according to your taste. I can also suggest a few," the man said smoothly while he refilled Naruto's water glass. The blond was about to agree when a careful hand was placed on his shoulder, gently tracing it.

 

"We'll have something red and fruity, your sommelier's choice." a velvety smooth voice answered.

 

The waiter was surprised at first, then nodded and prepared the wine while he gave the two the menu for the meal.

 

"Did you wait long?" Itachi asked, his eyes never left Naruto as he pulled himself a chair closer to the blond. Itachi almost did not recognize the man.

 

Naruto shook his head, "No. Just a few minutes.. Meeting's done?"

 

Itachi nodded and brushed a rogue hair, tucking it behind his ear. Naruto didn't know why, but he felt relieved first, then nervous again. Sasuke celebrated Naruto's birthday by eating out, but never in this fancy place. For one, Sasuke was never showy with their relationship. Two, maybe because he got used to Naruto not wanting to spend too much money?and probably because Sasuke didn't put much thought to it. He was just there, and yearly, they'd be spending their birthdays together anyway.

 

"By the way, Naruto. You look good this evening. It suits you." Itachi's eyes soften as he studied Naruto. He had a glimpse of the man afar. Somehow his steps was halted because he was shocked Naruto could look like that. He liked how Naruto put up an effort. His long, thin fingers tapped the table. A mannerism Itachi does when he was in deep thought.

 

"Tha-thank you." Naruto felt his throat went dry and gulped the water. Minutes after, the wine bottle was delivered and Itachi checked the cork before it was popped open.

 

"Are we ready to order?" the waiter asked the two, eyes almost focused on Naruto. It wasn't everyday they get to see someone like him. Somehow, his whiskers like scars demanded attention. Naruto's face was smoother than any other day. Itachi would bet his entire fortune that it was Deidara who dolled up the man.

 

"Tachi?" Naruto asked him, somehow he got lost in his own thoughts. Not good again, Itachi said to himself.

 

"I'll have whatever the Chef's recommend. Tell him it's Uchiha Itachi. He knew my taste."

 

"Uhm, I'll just have whatever he's having, thanks." Naruto said meekly.

 

They waited for their meal in silence, Naruto taking occasional sips of the wine. Itachi stared at him, which unnerved the blond, making him squirm in his seat.

 

"Naruto, how's work? - Thank you," the last one was said to the waiter as he served the first course of their meal.

 

"It's okay. They're cool people actually. I think I have a crush on Deidara. Haha." Naruto chuckled as well as Itachi.

 

"Don't tell them that. They'll jump on you." the raven said, slowly eating as he does.

 

Naruto grinned and leaned near Itachi. "Are ya' jealous?" He jested.

 

Itachi paused for a while and continued eating. "And if I am?" he added without looking at the blond. He was about to asked 'jealous of who' but decided not to tease the man further. It was his day after all.

 

It took Naruto a few seconds to let the remark sank in. He blinked and felt himself sweat. "Eh? Ehehe, I was just joking. He's not really my crush or anything. Don't worry," he babbled nervously.

 

"They said something to you, didn't they?" Itachi said, eyes wearing his amusement.

 

"Uhm, yeah?" Naruto looked left to right and leaned in again, signalling Itachi to come closer which Itachi curiously did. As their proximity got close, Itachi's nostrils were rewarded by Vanilla laced scent. Deidara knew exactly how to rile up Itachi, he mused. He almost let out a cuss.

 

Whispering, Naruto added, "Dude, that's so.. Wow! I mean, they're both, you know.. Hot!"

 

Itachi couldn't help but smirk at this. He expected Naruto to act weirdly about it, probably ask a few things?be all poetic about love. But no. The man was being open-minded and smart about it. Itachi thought that was cool?sexy even.

 

"Hm." They returned to their normal space and Itachi spoke, "I never intended to live a life of celibacy, though dating was out of the window.. Those two were open to anything and I trust them. Don't get me wrong, they're really wonderful people, despite their peculiarity." Itachi said, musing something but didn't say anything to Naruto. After a sip with his wine again, he added, "And yes, they're both good looking. That's the bonus." Itachi playfully winked and Naruto giggled.

 

That was it. The blond wasn't nervous anymore. He really liked Itachi's company. Everything went smooth, and their conversations were always amusing.

 

"Ne, Tachi. How do I eat this? It looks small..." Naruto forked the appetizer and Itachi, once again, found himself laughing for a second.

 

"Naruto.." Itachi called, ignoring Naruto's question.

 

"Hm?" the blond didn't look at him, busy picking up his food.

 

"Happy Birthday.."

 

Naruto spun his head towards the raven, a warm smile flashed across his face. He raised his fist, and Itachi's eyebrow shot up, but raised his nevertheless. Naruto bumped theirs together and grinned, "Thank you very much."

 

As their fists touched, Itachi had an odd feeling welling up inside him. Oh, if the people who knew him could see him now. They'd think he has gone mental fist bumping someone while smirking like an idiot.

 

"Damn.." Naruto muttered and scratched his eye, "Something came in my eye, must be an eyelash," he hissed. Deidara has plucked his eyebrows to trim, so it must be the remnants of that, Naruto thought.

 

Itachi frowned for the ungraceful way Naruto was rubbing his face. His hair that had a semblance of order swayed in the process.

 

"If I may, Naruto." Itachi leaned closer to the blond, his butt almost at the edge of his seat and tilted Naruto's chin towards him.

 

His face was close to Naruto's that he can smell the man's breath as the hotness tickled his skin. Naruto had one eye close and the affected one half-lidded with tears. Itachi saw what was hurting him and it was, indeed, an eyelash that got caught on the side of Naruto's eye. He took his napkin and dabbed it, trying to take off the offending dirt.

 

Gentle fingers worked its way like magic and Naruto was relieved. Before Itachi fell back on his own space, the said raven stared at him for a few second. He was confused as to why Itachi was acting like this. Then very gently, Itachi's thumb grazed his scarred cheek.

 

"Ah, everything was smooth. The scar, even though noticeable, looks perfect." Itachi commented and got seated back abruptly after he saw Naruto's eyes widen. As if he caught himself doing something he didn't mean to.

 

For Naruto, that was... a sensual touch. The tip of Itachi's fingers were soft, unlike his. The man's voice was deep and low, somehow inviting him. His breath had a hint of mint, mixed with the scent of their wine. Itachi's hair that fell on his arms were soft and silky.

 

Yes, that aroused the blond.

 

He knew Itachi was really his type, appearance wise. But he wasn't going to fall for another Uchiha. And it was true, he doesn't like Itachi that way. He just knew he needed to get laid. Especially right now when he was off his meds. His libido, among other things, were waking up slowly. And like a traitor, they were betraying his every command.

 

If Itachi noticed something odd with Naruto after the uneventful and uncharacteristic touching, he didn't say anything else. He just pretended that everything's the same. He ignored his urges to touch the man.

 

He blamed Deidara for this. The artistic-egoist knew how to get under Itachi's skin and he was successful. Naruto looked exactly like he wanted and it was annoying him.

 

He wouldn't want to start anything with Naruto. Naruto doesn't need superficial relationships. The man needs love?something Itachi could not provide.

 

He asked another glass of wine as another course was served.

 

"Excuse me, Sir." an employee walked towards them and Itachi felt annoyed at the disturbance. Naruto too, was caught eating heartily and felt the shame when she glimpsed at her. She blushed for a bit seeing the handsome blond and cleared her throat.

 

"What is it?" Itachi asked, obviously annoyed.

 

"There's a gift for Uzumaki Naruto-sama. Here it is." She gave a key card and note to them which Itachi took.

 

She bowed her head and went her way, sweating heavily as she does for the long-haired man in front of her looked so murderous.

 

He gave the key card and note for Naruto to inspect and the man took it curiously. He read and gaped his mouth. He looked at Itachi and opened his mouth again only to closed it. Lost on what to say.

 

Itachi waited for him patiently, and after a few minutes, Naruto gave the note for the raven to read.

 

"Those bastards.." Itachi muttered after he read it.

 

It was Deidara and Sasori. They knew where Naruto and Itachi would dine and decided to help them a bit. Or so it appeared. Itachi knew they were just was just having fun teasing him.

 

"Uhm. I actually want to go. If that's okay with you?" Naruto said sheepishly.

 

Itachi raised his eyebrow. The idiot couple gave Naruto a suite for him to stay the night, complete with a note saying he can order anything he wanted and the bill's on the couple. There was also an indication that Itachi can accompany him 'if he wanted to'.

 

How should Itachi take this sudden invitation? And was Naruto inviting him? Or was he just stating he'd be using the room and Itachi can go home?

 

"You have no work tomorrow, right? We can use the room if you want, you know. Hangout and relax." Naruto said, somehow looking genuinely happy.

 

Itachi decided to clarify, "Are you saying I should come to the suite with you, spend the night in one room with you and 'hangout'?"

 

Naruto's face showed the just-dawned-upon realization. "No!" he said out loud and looked around if anyone got startled. He then lowered his voice and drew himself closer to the raven. Itachi didn't know why, but he held his breath.

 

"I mean, we can drink and watch movies or something! I didn't mean 'that' thing! What are you even implying?! I just..." Naruto paused and got back to his space. "I just haven't had the opportunity to spend the night at a suite. I wouldn't know what to do by myself." he pouted.

 

Itachi didn't answer. He was contemplating the consequences if he accepts. But Naruto spoke again.

 

"If you don't want to, I'll just ask if Gaara can come. No big deal. Ehehe." Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Now that I thought about it, it'd be weird to invite you. How rude of me."

 

Itachi knew Gaara is Naruto's best friend. But at the very mention of the name?and how fondly at that?Itachi somehow felt bothered.

 

"Fine," he sighed. "I'll come with you. On one condition."

 

Naruto perked up, "Okay! What is it?"

 

Itachi let out a dark chuckle and stared at the key card. "We're ordering the most expensive champagne, food and snacks. Let's burn those idiots' money."

 

Naruto nodded and gulped.

 

 

October 11

 

 

Sasuke pressed the doorbell on Itachi's gateway and waited for a few minutes for someone to answer. He knew his brother would wake up early to tend his plants or have a jog, so he went over his place a little time before lunch. He knew Itachi would probably invite him to stay as well.

 

He nodded to himself at the idea and was startled when an old lady answered. "Yes?"

 

"Ah!" Sasuke jiggled his keys, "I'm Sasuke. Itachi's brother. Is he in?"

 

"Ah, Sasuke-sama! He's not in yet. He called earlier and said Naruto-sama and him stayed the night out and would come home this evening. Would you like to come in for tea?"

 

Sasuke stilled. He didn't answer her. He patted his aching, burning chest and felt the bile rose to his throat. It spilled over the pavement near where he parked his car. He can't breathe. He heard the lady calling his name, but it was all a blur.

 

He didn't know how or when but he found himself in front of his old house. The place Naruto and him shared.

 

"Welcome home." Sasuke saw Naruto called to him. Of course the dobe was not there really. But he can see him. The goofy grin he has whenever he welcomed Sasuke. How had he noticed that blinding smile?

 

Sasuke removed his shoes, Naruto doesn't like them in their home. He noticed the now empty shoe rack. He was always mad at Naruto cause there were a lot of slippers stacked there. The blond always said it was because he has a lot of friends coming and going into their house. And while Sasuke doesn't like visitors much, the blond loves it.

 

Sasuke went in, his socks were sweeping the dust accumulated during the months it was inhabited. He opened the lights and glanced upon the sofa. "Sasuke, watch this show with me!"

Sasuke smiled and slowly walked towards the sofa. How many years has it been since he does this? He never sat besides Naruto and watch something with him. He found the man's taste in programming stupid and shallow. Now that he thought about it, even if he voiced out his hate for the said activity, Naruto never failed to ask invite him every time.

 

He patted the empty space beside him. All Naruto wanted was to cuddle, and he denied him that.

 

Feeling tremendously guilty, Sasuke stood up and went to the kitchen. It was empty. He never saw the kitchen empty before, and the lonely place was ripping him apart.

 

"Teme! Don't insult my Ramen!" Sasuke chuckled and finger-combed his hair.

 

Wandering around, he opened their room and saw the bed where he used to lay. Remembering the time where Naruto was massaged him?with mild complaining how Sasuke's body was too hard. The blond's hands would roam around the curves of his body, as if he was worshiping every inch of Sasuke's skin.

 

Sasuke sat on the bed and touched the dusted sheets. "Just lay there, I'll take care of you."

 

Naruto's mischievous smirk came to his memory. He laid his back on the bed with a flopped. Sasuke frowned; it was always Naruto who does things for him that he neglected the man. It must've been terribly lonely to lay there while he goes to Sakura.

 

His hand caught something crusted and sat up. He removed two layers of the sheets and saw pools of blood stain already caked and dried up. No doubt Naruto's blood. The blood he lost for Sasuke.

 

Sasuke was not shedding tears, but his heart was weeping. He traced it with his thumb and clenched it. He was mad and thankful for Itachi for not throwing the bed out. He should see what he'd done with his beloved.

 

It took Sasuke an hour before he moved from where he was. He roamed around some more, desperate to notice all those things he neglected. Glutton for punishment.

 

He stumbled upon the mirror-less bathroom in the their en suite. Naruto must've removed it all. Sasuke knew he made the man felt insecure that he didn't even want to see his own face. The raven felt shooting pains in his chest.

 

He was about to walk out the house and get the hell out of there when he saw the drawer Naruto used in front of their vanity was opened. His curiosity forced him to stay and check what was inside. He never checked Naruto's things. It doesn't interest him before.

 

"Sasuke, can you look at my drawer real quick?" Naruto asked him this one day and he nodded but never really did. That time, he just learned Sakura was carrying their child and he was out of it. Needless to say, he was guilty and ignoring Naruto.

 

Sasuke sat in front of the mirror-less vanity and opened the drawer. His breathing hitched as he saw something.

 

There was a jewelry box resting on top of two airline tickets. He checked the box first, and was surprised when he saw two rings. Plain ones that looked like wedding bands.

 

If Sasuke wasn't crying earlier, he was sobbing now.

 

How come he didn't see this? Naruto wanted to marry him?

 

He inspected the airline tickets and saw it was for the US. Naruto probably wanted to have the honeymoon there. What hurts the most was the date of the flight.

 

It was the same day Sasuke said he'll marry Sakura.

 

"I'm so sorry." Sasuke moaned as he wiped his tears and snot, those lonely tickets crumpled in his hand.

 

He blamed Naruto for a lot of things. He blamed him for leaving him, for not wanting to live with him. He even accused Naruto for not accepting Sarada and somehow resented the man.

 

When he learned Naruto killed himself, after a few weeks, he blamed the man for being weak. He cursed him?why would Naruto wanted to die? To guilt him? Those were the things that bubbled up.

"That's so you, Sasuke. Blaming others for your mistakes."

 

Sasuke realized it all too late. He scarred Naruto deeply, left him alone and pushed his beloved to end his suffering. And now Itachi was with Naruto, no doubt making the blond happy.

 

His Naruto.

 

What does Sasuke want to do with his life? He was going with the flow, that he knew. He trapped Sakura in a loveless marriage, too. What about Sarada? Would she forgive him if Sasuke divorced her mother?

"I love you Sasuke, but I can't do this anymore."

 

Sasuke ran out and stepped into his car. He gripped the steering wheel tightly and sped home. The rings safely tucked in his pocket.

 

 

~This could be the end of everything

 

So why don't we go

 

Somewhere only we know?

 

Somewhere only we know?

 

Somewhere only we know?~

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

a/n; the song is Somewhere only we know by Keane

 

*

Trompe-l'?il (French for "deceive the eye", pronounced [tʁɔ̃p l?j]) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture.

 

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 6: Collide

 

 

 

~The dawn is breaking

 

A light shining through

 

You're barely waking

 

And I'm tangled up in you

 

Yeah

 

But I'm open, you're closed

 

Where I follow, you'll go

 

I worry I won't see your face

 

Light up again

 

Even the best fall down sometimes

 

Even the wrong words seem to rhyme

 

Out of the doubt that fills my mind

 

I somehow find

 

You and I collide~

 

~o~

 

 

 

Naruto rubbed his stomach and though with difficulty, he tried to make it to the bathroom. He stuffed himself with cakes and wines that Itachi ordered and now he was definitely regretted what he has done.

 

"Damn you," he muttered as he saw the mirth from the man's way of saying 'you'll be fine'.

 

After a few minutes of struggling, Naruto emerged from the bathroom and took a seat beside Itachi. The said Uchiha had a blast ordering this and that while he was not eating most of it himself. Naruto eyed him and took the remote off Itachi's hand.

 

"You know," - Naruto paused to look at Itachi and the raven tilted his body to face Naruto - "they're my boss, right? Come Monday, I'll see their faces and would have to answer to them. Ordering all these," - he gestured his hands towards the items in front of them - "would have to be explained by me."

 

"Hn, never you mind. Just tell them it was me."

 

"Whatever." Naruto changed the tuning to the show he was watching for a few seasons now. It was a re-run of the pilot episode and it has been months since he saw it. "You know this one?" he asked and Itachi just raised an eyebrow.

 

Of course Itachi wouldn't watch these zombie bandwagon shows, Naruto thought and pouted, "I just wanted to ask. That's all..."

 

Itachi stood up to loosen his tie. It has been a long day and it stifled him for a while. After Naruto asked that they stay in the luxury suite, Itachi went ahead and bought clothes they can use for the night. He planned on staying late till tomorrow so he could relax himself too; it wouldn't feel comfortable to stay wearing his suit. Naruto, however, protested and whined as he gave the man a new pair of underwear. Itachi just snickered at him and shrugged it off.

 

"I'm taking a bath," Itachi said as he took the bottle of half-finished wine with him.

 

Naruto let him be and watched show all seriously. He didn't even notice that the man was already done with his bath when Itachi turned the main lights off, leaving the dim-lights and sat beside him.

 

"How many episodes has it been?" Itachi asked, towel drying his long hair.

 

"Huh?" Naruto looked at him and counted in his head. "I guess it's been three episodes. Wow, you sure took your time." Naruto offered Itachi a Pocky stick out of habit and was ready to place it back on top of the coffee table in front, when Itachi surprised him and took the Pocky box, taking one and took a nibble.

 

Naruto's mouth was agape. "You eat this stuff?" he looked bewildered which amused Itachi.

 

"What do you think?" Itachi smirked and chewed on the snack. He took another one and watched the show with Naruto.

 

"Well, your brother doesn't eat this, so I figured you didn't as well."

 

Itachi looked at Naruto and shrugged, "I had the pleasure of living in dorms and looking out for myself since College—Sasuke wasn't so lucky. He was sheltered from these things."

 

Naruto knew all too well. When he dated Sasuke, the man had to sneak out for a few times so he can be with him. Naruto remained quiet after that, just watching the horror and suspense unfold on the screen.

 

"Anyway," Itachi punctured their silence. "Sorry, we couldn't do anything fun. I was pretty busy and couldn't leave work soon."

 

"Hmm-mn," Naruto shook his head. "This was enough, I honestly had fun. Thank you for your time."

 

They remained seated, just peacefully watching Naruto's favorite program, while the blond occasionally sips his beer. He had his head on the arm rest with his legs resting across the couch. Itachi on the other hand was relaxed, sitting cross legged on the other end. Their positions had Naruto's feet almost touching Itachi.

 

"I guess, I want to have a dog. I've always wanted to, but was never allowed to have one." Naruto said when a commercial of Dog food came up.

 

"Oh?" Itachi was again, amused. "Why didn't you get one before?" he added.

 

Naruto shrugged. "The orphanage doesn't allow us. And when I was old enough to get out, Sasuke doesn't want one."

 

Itachi wanted to apologize—and here he thought they were in a relaxed mood.

 

"Well, see, now that I'm not with Sasuke, maybe I should have one. I mean really. I would give it so much love." Naruto said elated.

 

"You should. The house is big and there's space for it." Itachi added, but was caught off guard when Naruto pouted.

 

"See, about the house Tachi. I wanted to talk to you about that."

 

"Okay, shoot." Itachi gave the go sign and Naruto took a deep breath before he continued.

 

"I found a studio apartment near my work. It's affordable and I could probably have another part-time job, since I don't have a full load on University. I already have my other subjects credited so my units are manageable. Do you think it's good that I think I should live alone from now on?"

 

Itachi knew that Naruto values his opinions and was happy about it. A few weeks after Naruto started with University and work, the man was paying him bit by bit with the expenses Itachi had helped him with during his recovery. It wasn't because Itachi wanted to—in fact, he doesn't need the money. But Naruto insisted that friends who borrow money should pay back, regardless if the other one was rich or not. It was rather admirable that Itachi didn't have the heart to refuse.

 

"Okay. But can I make a suggestion?" he asked. He didn't actually want to go over the blond's head and his decisions, but he was somewhat responsible for him.

 

"'Kay. Go on."

 

Itachi took a breath, "You just started earning and I don't think it's wise to move so soon. You could stay with me for a month or so, save up and then move. Clearly, the house is big—too big that we won't see each other unless we purposely seek each other out."

 

Naruto slumped in his chair and tapped his chin. "Yeah. You're right."

 

"But if you still insist on living on your own," Naruto suddenly perked up and looked at Itachi. "Then I guess it's not a problem. I can help you."

 

"But! I already owe you so much!"

 

"Yes. It doesn't really matter since you'll pay me back, right?" Itachi smirked and tossed the towel hung around his neck near the chair. That surprised Naruto. He chuckled and Itachi asked why he did.

 

"I never really thought about it; whenever I see you at the Mansion, you're so formal and stiff. You never laugh, nor say anything excessive. Who knew you throw your towels like that, or eat Pocky and cakes? I mean, holy fu-fudge. You ate a lot of cake!" Naruto ended up laughing and that made Itachi happy for some reason.

 

"So, tell me," Itachi further relaxed at the big couch in front of the equally gigantic flat screen television. "What's this show about?" The glaring obvious was that it's a show about zombies, still he wanted to ask.

 

"It's about a guy who was in a coma, when he woke up months after, the whole world has gone to shi-chaos. The whole hospital was infested with zombies! It's good! There's also a guy who carries a crossbow and is super badass, like oh my, I want him on my zombie apocalypse team!" Naruto made a few air-punches and Itachi snorted.

 

"Your 'zombie apocalypse team'? And you can cuss in front of me by the way. No need to censor yourself out." Itachi smirked.

 

Naruto eyed him and punched his gut softly, after he sat straight up. He opened another can of beer and sipped. "Stop being so condescending, mou. Anyway, you? Who's on your team? Like, we have a zombie apocalypse tomorrow, who would you want in your team to survive? Can be fictional characters or real life persons, doesn't matter."

 

Itachi wanted to roll his eyes, but Naruto looked so enthusiastic that he didn't want to burst his bubble, so he sighed and thought about it for a second.

 

"I would want Kisame on my team, he's strong and has a supportive attitude." he ran a hand through his hair.

 

"Okay, cool! Who else?" Naruto's eyes were practically shinning.

 

"Let's see," Itachi thought about it hard, which he admitted was fun. "Maybe one doctor, preferably practicing General Medicine. One knowledgeable in food preparation and hunting, one smart and—I don't really know Naruto." Itachi gave up and Naruto chuckled. The raven really looked like his head hurt, for the said man was pressing and massaging his temples. He was just glad that Itachi humored him. No one else does whenever he's in this nonsense mood.

 

"Naruto," Itachi called, "your phone is ringing nonstop. Maybe you should answer it."

 

"It's - " he hesitated. "…some of my friends I don't really want to talk to." Naruto said sheepishly and turned off his phone.

 

"Oh."

 

"Anyway, Tachi, are you tired?" Naruto had a dubious grin on him that Itachi had to consider his answer, but nodded anyway. He didn't want to burst Naruto's happy mood but he was indeed tired, and had too much to drink.

 

"Oh? Want to sleep? We only have one ginormous bed, but I guess I can sleep on this couch. I mean look at this," Naruto patted the said item. "It's so wide, two or three people can sleep here. Man, hotel suites are nice."

 

"You have to sleep on the bed, I can book another room to sleep in, or sleep on the couch. Do you want to rest now?"

 

Naruto wanted to disagree but he imposed on the man too much and knew Itachi wouldn't let him rest on the couch on his birthday.

 

"I wanted to watch some more, if that's alright." he just said simply. Hoping Itachi would be so tired and retire for the night first.

 

To his shock, Itachi just remained where he was. Naruto thought Itachi was just staying because he wanted to humor Naruto. And maybe it was that at first, but after a few minutes, Naruto saw Itachi was seriously watching the show with him. Getting jump scares like he does and asking Naruto a few questions here and there—cause he missed the first few episodes.

 

"One of my wishes came true tonight." Naruto said after binge watching one full season of the show. Itachi knew the blond had too much to drink and was probably tired—for Naruto was already slouched on the couch—curled in a ball and eyes dropping. Itachi was no different as well. He took a glance at the clock and saw it was five in the morning. They had the window curtains covering the view so they had no idea how much time had passed.

 

"What wish?" Itachi asked, stretching his arms upward after he cracked his neck.

 

"Someone sitting in front of the TV with me, talking about what we're watching. Drinking, eating, something like this… It feels oddly satisfying. I don't know." he chuckled.

 

Itachi frowned. Such a simple wish and no one granted this? What was Sasuke doing with this man?

 

"You should sleep on the bed, go on." Itachi urged.

 

"I… Tachi, I don't feel like sleeping alone, to be honest. It makes me sad, especially today."

 

Itachi understood the feeling and stared at Naruto. He then stood up and turned the TV off. He hovered in front of Naruto that made the blond curious. "What?" Naruto asked and Itachi pulled him up swiftly.

 

"Wah!"

 

"You should've said so." Itachi dragged Naruto to the bed and pushed him. Naruto on the other hand had his eyes wide. He was surprised at what was happening that he had no time to react.

 

"Wait, you took a shower earlier?" Itachi asked cause Naruto still wore the shirt he had when they had dinner.

 

"I did, but I want to shower now, anyway. What is happening, Tachi?" Naruto asked confusedly.

 

Itachi just looked at him and called the reception, asking for a wake-up call at a certain time Naruto didn't hear. He then flopped himself on the bed, causing Naruto to bounce on it a bit.

 

"Good night," the raven said and Naruto still looked at him with wide eyes. He doesn't have qualms with Itachi sleeping with him on one bed—and technically he did say he doesn't want to be alone. That doesn't mean he was not surprised.

 

He took a quick shower and changed into the boxer briefs Itachi bought for him before he slipped on the gray wife-beater tank top. He slowly got under the covers and soon after, sleep found him.

 

It felt like he hadn't shut his eyes that long when they got the wake-up call. Naruto grunted a few times before Itachi's voice registered in his head. It sounded too close to him, but he didn't mind. Just then, Itachi whispered 'good morning' to his ear which he answered sleepily back.

 

Apparently, Naruto didn't realized that during his sleep, he tossed and turned and kicked Itachi a few times. The raven was tempted to leave and use the couch, but his body was too heavy and tired to move. Instead, Itachi just pulled Naruto closer and hugged him—mostly him not over thinking it. He was just hugging Naruto, wanting the man to stop moving. In return, Naruto snuggled with him.

 

It has been a while since he slept with someone—Itachi forgot how comfortable it was. He propped up on his elbow and rested his chin, looking at Naruto's sleeping face. He looked funny, Itachi thought.

 

"Got plans for today?" Itachi asked when Naruto finally opened his eyes. Naruto too, didn't think anything weird by them snuggling close. He knew himself, and knows he had a habit of moving about. Gaara once hugged him when they slept together, so this was nothing new.

 

Still, waking up looking at Itachi's face—hair disarrayed, yet sexy—would make anyone flustered. Especially since Naruto has a thing for dark-haired men.

 

"Can you give me like, five more minutes?" Naruto buried his head on the pillows while he lay prone. Itachi's eyes caught Naruto's butt and almost whistle in appreciation. He wore only an underwear and wife-beater that was pulled up, probably from tossing in his sleep. The tan legs were well toned as his back muscles. Itachi can actually see Naruto was working out.

 

Appearance wise, Naruto is not the type who cares about how his face or clothing looks. On the other hand, it seemed like Naruto was actually someone who diligently goes on running and jogging, even in bad weather.

 

"Hn."

 

Itachi, once again, stole a glance at Naruto who was lying by his side. His eyes following the Adonis line down Naruto's obliques. It was something he has started to like. He wouldn't stop himself from staring; for he loved what he saw and made no effort to hide it. Itachi believed there is a difference in looking at another's body for admiration and for lust. For, right now he feels no lust for Naruto, but a deep appreciation of his well maintained physique. He was also glad that Naruto was able to bounce back; the blond was rather thin months ago.

 

When he had enough staring—which he admitted was rude—Itachi then started his day, standing up as he checked his phone.

 

Naruto could hear the shower running and after a few minutes, Itachi talking to someone on the phone and some clatters, but he didn't mind it much. He woke up fully only when Itachi went back and sat bedside. "Get up. Eat, we're going somewhere." the raven said. His deep voice was pleasant and Naruto hummed as an answer.

 

He was left alone to freshen himself and he decided to take another shower. He had the habit of taking one every morning and it was something he does to wake himself up. When he stepped inside the bathroom, he was greeted by the pleasant smell, which reminded him that Itachi was just there moments ago.

 

He swiftly turned on the hot water and let it run all over his body. Now that everything sunk in, Naruto realized how inappropriate he was. He slept in one bed with his ex's brother. He felt his stomach flipped in embarrassment.

 

True, they're friends and that don't matter much, but it's Itachi. The man is the definition of distance. Itachi uses polite language, even with his brother.

 

Somehow he knew that he had to push himself into getting his own apartment; he's been dependent to Itachi far too long and might overstay his welcome.

 

Naruto decided to talk to Iruka come Monday morning if the man knows where can find another part-time work. Money would be a problem from now on.

 

.

 

When he was done thinking in the showers, he swiftly got back to the bedroom—thankful that the suite had dividers for its parts and function—only to find two paper bags with ribbon on top of the bed. He curiously approached it and saw his name on the card. It was a gift from Itachi, again. Naruto frowned but opened it regardless.

 

In it were a pale-blue shirt and a simple dark gray pullover sweater. The texture of the textile suggests its price, if Naruto was dumb enough not to notice the designer brand. There was also a pair of jeans in it with colorful plaid socks. Naruto cringed cause he already knew it was Deidara who coordinated the look. He saw the jeans and the socks yesterday and he was forced to wear one but refused cause he doesn't feel comfortable folding his jeans ankle length.

 

Itachi did say they were going somewhere, and him being dressed in the same clothes as last night would most definitely inconvenience the handsome Uchiha. He was not oblivious about the fact that there were stares and whispers thrown their way when they were dining last night. And when they went up to their suite, Naruto could feel the stares from the hotel staff that saw them as well.

 

"Guess I have to wear this, ugh." he whined.

 

After he was done—hair styled like last night—Naruto went out to the breakfast table and his mouth immediately fell open. Itachi wore a white shirt underneath a red pullover almost similar to his. His pants; however, were darker along with a pair of red with white soles boat-shoes. As if it wasn't enough, Itachi's hair was lazily tied into a loose bun. Naruto knew he did spend time tying it, but he pulled off the I-just-woke-up-and-look-perfect-like-this look. He somehow hated how beautiful the man was.

 

Itachi saw Naruto ready and nodded then returned to his newspaper and coffee. The blond on the other hand, ate what was ready on the table. He had a big appetite and was fairly thirsty from his hang-over, not really minding the way Itachi gandered at him from time to time. The food was simple, to Naruto's liking. Even though they didn't sleep much, it seemed like it didn't affect him that bad once the food entered his system.

 

"You're not going to eat?" Naruto wondered since the Uchiha's plate was fairly clean except for the half-finished soup.

 

"I don't like to eat that much when I wake up, I'm usually eating ce-"

 

"Cereals. I know." Naruto shrugged. He was the one who washes Itachi's cereal bowl often so he knew. They didn't speak after that.

 

When they proceeded to check-out, the valet gave Itachi the keys to his car and Naruto seated in front like always. Itachi wore his large framed sunglasses and drove off.

 

"Where are we going?" he asked and Itachi just 'hn'ed' at him. It's not like Naruto planned on anything to do today, but he would like to know where this man was going to take him.

 

"Can I turn on some music?" he asked and Itachi nodded. Naruto's ears were greeted by a pleasant song and decided to listen to it. "What's this? It's good." he asked.

 

"Guess. It was from the movie with the doctor who eats people. We talked about that last night," the corner of Itachi's mouth curled up. Naruto frowned, then - "Ah! The Silence of the Lambs!" Naruto exclaimed.

 

Itachi was surprised when they were talking about their interests heartily back at the suite, he discovered that Naruto, similarly, likes the same kind of music and movies that he does. Not only that, they have very similar views on theater plays and arts which was pleasant.

 

He admitted that in a lot of ways, he undervalued the blond. He just thought Naruto is a happy-go-lucky, mostly airheaded and naturally friendly guy. And true to a fault, he still is. However, Naruto was more than what meets the eye. He knew classic movies and great ones at that. His views were fascinating, and his choices in music were very much to Itachi's taste. Itachi didn't even know Naruto liked romance novels.

 

That was one of Itachi's secret pleasures. He reads them and absorbs its calm beauty. Itachi was not romantic per se, but reading it somehow was comforting for him. The world of two people bound by love was not foreign to him after all.

 

.

 

When they came to a stop, Itachi eyed Naruto with a hint of smugness. He knew the man was dying to know but he likes to tease him, only cause Naruto gives the best reaction every time. Itachi was glad that Naruto was smiling more and talking like he used to. Indeed, therapy and patience helped him immensely.

 

"Wait! What's this?!" Naruto was excited going down on the sleek black car. Itachi walked in front of him and was greeted by Kisame in very casual shorts and a T-shirt. Naruto greeted him back and was tempted to ask why wasn't he cold in such little clothing.

 

"We're going to check some dogs for adoption, see if you find one you like. I also think a pet is good for you. I hope you don't mind the rescued ones. Though, puppies would be okay too if that's what you want. Ah, there's no pressure though. You can decide if you'd like one or not." Itachi stated.

 

Naruto was too overwhelmed to even know what was happening. He followed the two men in front of him and the experience barely registering in his head.

 

The caretaker of the animal rescue shelter was surprised when Kisame made an appointment. They don't have much donations so they could only rescue a few, and they're not a popular place when people wanted to adopt pets as well. They even had to send animals to different pounds to have them fostered there. And now well-dressed and handsome men came looking for dogs they don't really have—to say she was nervous was an understatement.

 

"We only have two dogs today, Uchiha-sama. One dog is already adopted. So yeah, it's basically one dog right now. Sorry, but this one is problematic. He's two, and he's been in three foster homes now. His previous handler said he has too much energy. We're alre-"

 

"I'll take him!" Naruto interjected. He hasn't seen the dog yet, but the way the lady described him broke the blond's heart. "I'll take him. Where is he?"

 

"Are you sure?" Itachi asked. He was a little upset that they didn't have many choices, but his request was very short-noticed and Kisame was probably resting with his girlfriend. Naruto looked determined so he was left no choice but agree.

 

When they were led to the kennel, they were greeted by indeed, a very energetic dog.

 

"Hi!" Naruto crouched down while the lady unlocked its cage. The minute it was opened, the dog jumped straight to Naruto and planted sloppy, wet-kisses over his face.

 

Naruto toppled over laughing, while Itachi and the rest laughed at the scene. The dog looked like a white Siberian Husky, but to be sure, Itachi asked. He was not wrong.

 

"His name is Choi. The old lady who picked him up as a puppy passed away—bless her soul." the lady said.

 

"Choi. That's a handsome name you got there, buddy." Naruto commented while he scratched the dog's body. He had blue-grayish eyes, and his body had one big, black marking on it. He looked healthy and a little plump as well. Naruto chuckled at this.

 

"Er…"

 

"Yes?" Itachi asked as they were filling out necessary forms for adoption. It was more of Itachi signing and Naruto being busy with his new found friend. The dog barked non-stop, trying to sit beside Naruto.

 

"He's not neutered yet, but all his vaccines were up to date. From our experience, he doesn't go into heat much. We have a Veterinarian we can recommend to you, but it seemed unnecessary, right?" she asked and Itachi nodded. He already had contacted the Vet they'll have to send him to regularly.

 

"He went to Obedience School. But if anything goes awry, you can always give us a call or you can return him here. We understand. He's a special one and he needs constant supervision."

 

Itachi looked at the two—Naruto and Choi. They got along fine from the get go.

 

"An energetic one that no one understands, huh?" Itachi's lips curled upward for a brief moment that surprised Kisame. He knew Naruto brought a different air to his boss, but him smiling? That was a first.

 

It seemed like Itachi wasn't really talking about the dog either.

 

After they were done, Naruto said his farewell to Kisame—and Choi wagged his tail one last time to the lady who took care of him. She had tears in her eyes. Sure the dog was a menace, but she loves him all the same. "Take care of yourself, okay? Love your masters." She hugged the dog and let go immediately. Saying goodbye to their foster was really hard.

 

Naruto was teary as well, "We'll visit from time to time, right Choi?" he said while he took the leash off her hand.

 

Itachi just looked at them while Kisame carried the cage and other supplies to his car. "Boss, I'll send this over now. Anything else you might need?" he asked.

 

"Ah! Please, tell granny to feed my fishes!" Naruto reminded Kisame and the man grinned and gave the okay sign.

 

Itachi, Naruto and curious Choi walked for a few blocks, just mindlessly roaming. When they passed by a coffee shop, Itachi caught a familiar vintage red Mustang with white racer stripes on its hood.

 

"Itachi! Naruto-kun!"

 

And just as he suspected, it was Deidara and Sasori, having coffee outside. It seemed like Deidara was smoking which was why they're not inside the air-conditioned store. "I'm glad you wore what we prepared Naruto-kun. It looks good on you, Un."

 

"What are you doing here, nii-san?" Naruto decided to ignore the remark, he's already embarrassed enough when he thanked Itachi on the car. Choi was sniffing like crazy, trying to recognize the new scents.

 

"Having a break." Sasori offered them a seat on the outside couch and Itachi took it. He was getting hungry too and it'd be a good time to order at least a sandwich and something sweet to drink.

 

"What would you like?" Itachi leaned closer to Naruto who was busy asking Choi to stay seated on the ground. He was not successful, though.

 

Sasori and Deidara shared a look when they saw the two. They seemed rather domestic and Itachi acting like that towards the blond was refreshing. Itachi is no doubt someone who commands respect, but he's also a person to equally give others that. But the way he treats Naruto implied he found the younger man special to him. They were not mistaken to push the two together. It's about time Itachi found someone he could trust to stay beside him as well.

 

"Say," — Deidara placed his cigarette on the ashtray and sipped his coffee, while Itachi ordered for Naruto like the tanned man asked — "How's your stay last night?" he wanted to add 'looks like you two got closer' but decided not to push his luck.

 

"Tachi ordered a lot. Expect a big bill coming your way." Naruto grinned. He did enjoyed it as well.

 

"Tch." Sasori knew about that for he checked their credit card statement online before they went out. It's not like they care, but it still felt like Itachi won for some reason. True enough, the Uchiha—though at first glance looked stoic—wore a smug face.

 

"What's with the dog?" the redhead asked.

 

"We adopted it earlier. His name is Choi." at the very mention of his name, Choi's ears wriggled and looked at the strangers. Deidara said 'hi' and Sasori eyed Itachi. Never once did Itachi correct Naruto when the blond said 'We'. It's as if Itachi was okay with them owning the dog together. Are they already dating? He wanted to ask.

 

"Are you two dating now?" and Deidara, bless his loudmouth, inquired what his husband was dying to know.

 

Itachi was quiet and Naruto's mouth fell wide opened. They were really suspicious but knowing Itachi, he wouldn't be dating this man, at least not yet.

 

"Your orders, Sir." the two were saved by the bell and Itachi started eating. While Naruto mumbled and said they were not dating and they should stop whatever it was they were doing.

 

They remained there for a few minutes before Sasori's phone rang. "Dude, we need to go." he said to his husband casually.

 

Deidara on the other hand punched his hand on his fist, "Je hebt me een uur geleden nog geneukt. Waag het niet om me 'Dude' te noemen, of ik hak je ballen er af!" he said darkly.

 

Sasori visibly paled and pinched Deidara's cheek playfully. "Ja, Schat. Sorry."

 

"We're gonna go. See ya Naruto-kun. Itachi…" Sasori nodded to Itachi.

 

"Hn."

 

"Bye!" Naruto called. They saw the two looking like Deidara was having a hissy fit, while Sasori coaxed him. Naruto would have to ask Deidara what he said tomorrow. He knew Deidara is from the Netherlands, but he didn't know Sasori can speak his language as well.

 

"They're really cute. I mean, their dynamics help each other shine. That must be nice…" Naruto said a little dreamily. His green-tea latte tasted heavenly that he almost finished it all. Itachi asked if he wanted a refill which he did. "I'll pay for this, if you don't mind." Naruto wanted to, but the Uchihas were the typical 'never let their dates pay' kind of men. Naruto learned to assert himself if he wanted to pay for something.

 

"Can I ask you something rather personal?" Itachi leaned his back on the foam of his seat. Naruto was curious and nervous at the same time.

 

"Okay."

 

"Have you slept with anyone other than Sasuke?"

 

The way Itachi asked him somehow made Naruto at ease. Itachi is not a gossiper, and he's not the type to intrude on other people's lives. Him asking Naruto must have some kind of meaning.

 

"No. I haven't." Naruto answered truthfully. In fact, he was never been kissed, hugged, held hands with anyone other than Sasuke. Let alone sex.

 

"I see. Do you think you can date so soon?" Itachi asked again. By then Naruto's face was flaming red. Is he going to ask him out? Naruto wondered.

 

"You see, I was thinking it'd be best for you to try and go out with a few friends more often. Not that I am pushing you Naruto, that's not it."

 

"Okay. So please tell me." Naruto absentmindedly petted Choi's head and the dog's tail swished happily.

 

"When I was like you, I tried seeing some friends that might cheer me up - like Sasori and Deidara. Of course our relationship turned physical at some point, but that was something good. It's time for you to experience things you didn't while you were with Sasuke." Itachi was genuine about this. He thought about that when he was with Naruto last night. The fact that Naruto had not experienced couch cuddling saddened him deeply. He was stoic towards Shisui too, but he gave the man all the love he could. Naruto deserved to have happy memories.

 

"Yeah." Naruto paused and nodded profusely. "I want someone who sings with me, and is not embarrassed when I eat loudly. I want someone who agrees to spontaneously dance in the rain with me, or play strip poker with me. I want someone who compliments how I look from time to time. I mean, look at me…" Naruto pointed towards his chest and patted his stomach. "I work hard for this!" he exclaimed and Itachi hid his amusement by chewing his sandwich.

 

Naruto started laughing at himself. He remembered Sasuke every now and then, but somehow things were different with Itachi. When he's with the man, he was allowed to do stupid things and have opinions. In fairness with Sasuke, the man does allow Naruto too. But more often than not, Sasuke felt distant cause of their familiarity with each other.

 

"I guess..." Naruto had a sad smile once again that commanded Itachi's attention. "I just want someone who makes me feel special, and not make me feel inadequate."

 

Naruto looked back on the days where he envied how sweet Gaara and Neji were. They often hold hands while walking and Neji shopped with him. How Shikamaru, though lazy, still carried Temari's stuff and kiss her goodbye even in front of their friends. And now Sasori, being crazy in love with his husband that he often see the two making out when they have breaks.

 

That kind of passion in life was something he was missing.

 

"I guess it's time to start looking for dates. Or at least a friendly one, ne?"

 

"Woof!" Choi barked.

 

Itachi on the other hand, thought it was rather funny that Naruto's likes was something he wanted in a relationship as well. He guessed that was another thing he had in common with Naruto. Though inexplicably, he felt some odd sensation inside his chest. A sensation very foreign to the Uchiha.

 

Naruto glanced at him worriedly; for the Uchiha had a weird look on his face. He wanted to ask why, but Itachi already asked for the bill. "Let's get Choi some food and other things he need and head home."

 

"Alright. Are we having dinner at home?"

 

"Take out is fine. I also want to buy some blu-rays before we go." Itachi answered. After Naruto paid, they walked towards the car and wondered how they will fit Choi. Naruto just opted to tuck Choi between his legs while they drove slowly.

 

After a few minutes of silence, "You're going to buy The Walking Dead Blu-rays, aren't ya?" Naruto jested.

 

"Hn."

 

Naruto could have sworn Itachi had a blush underneath the oversized sunglasses.

 

 


 

 

Sasuke was forced to go to his parents' home instead of talking to Sakura directly. He received a call that his Uncle Madara went home and would like to meet his family. However, Sasuke was very late, therefore forced Sakura to bring Sarada alone instead. He'd have to talk to Sakura later.

 

When he came down, they were already done with dinner and were having dessert.

 

"Where have you been? You look awful." Mikoto commented, for her son looked like a mess.

 

"I…got caught in a traffic accident." Sasuke lied—his hand in his pocket caressed the jewelry box—and Sakura felt it too. There was something wrong with her husband and she was sure it was because of Naruto. Her friends talked about Naruto's birthday on social media and felt she had no say in the matter. She already accepted the fact that Sasuke would relapse and seek the blond's company. They're always together ever since. It'd be weird if Sasuke suddenly forgets that.

 

"Oh dear! What happened? Are you alright?"

 

"If you needed help with, I can call my lawyers." Madara looked at him sternly. He was serious as always that made Sasuke more annoyed. They never talked about anything other than money this and power that. The whole dinner table suffocated him.

 

"It's already taken care of. Thank you." he said.

 

After the rest had their desserts, they retired back to the living room so Sasuke's parents' can fawn over Sarada. She wore a cute pink and green onesie, trying to stand on Sakura's lap. They were talking about how pretty she is, and how she looked like Sasuke. How they were sure Sarada would break a lot of hearts in the future. Sasuke frowned at this, "Sarada won't date. I won't allow it." he said which made everyone laugh. Including Sakura.

 

Sasuke somehow felt relieved. Sarada is his everything now, he was serious when he said he won't allow it. No one will ever be good enough for her.

 

Sakura saw Sasuke's expression and placed Sarada on his lap. "Hold her. She's missing you," she said softly.

 

Sasuke happily did, helping her stand up while he cooed at her. She was wobbly but still tried her best, "Good job." Sasuke murmured and kissed her soft cheek.

 

There was silence followed by murmurs and soon after, Mikoto turned the volume of the Television louder.

"Itachi Uchiha was seen outside the XX department store outside X City. You can see in this picture that he was holding a few grocery bags, walking with a man and a dog with him. They looked so natural with each other!" the lady from the news squealed.

 

"Do you think the famous Bachelor is dating this beautiful blond? They have a dog together and grocery shopping? I think they're living together, isn't that sweet?" another one commented.

"Whatever this was, it sure made a lot of women and men sad. Uchiha Itachi: Bachelor no more!"

 

The people gathered together looked perplexed and worried. They glanced back at Sasuke and could see him going paler by the minute.

 

Sasuke's eyes never left Naruto on screen. Has Naruto ever been this beautiful? He was dressed nicely and his hair was styled modern and fashionable. His face was practically beaming. He looked much happier than he was with him. Is this his Naruto? He asked himself. Naruto was the sloppy guy who wears orange tracksuits and eats ramen all the time. Naruto's eyes were never this blue. His tan was never this golden. Oh how this Naruto looked different yet familiar. Sasuke was so confused.

 

"Itachi? I mean…" Mikoto couldn't find the words. She knew Itachi was helping Naruto but for him to date the man himself? And what is Naruto doing? Itachi is Sasuke's brother!

 

"Hn," Madara tapped his chin. "Do you think they were seeing each other for a while? They looked pretty cozy. Don't you think so?"

 

"Are you..." Sasuke hugged Sarada and gritted his teeth. "Are you saying Naruto and Itachi cheated on me since long ago?"

 

Sakura was confused and hurt at the same time. She wanted to leave then and there but her legs were far too weak. For Sasuke to have such a reaction towards Naruto was a slap in the face.

 

"I did not say that, you did." Madara added passively. If he was starting to stir things up, he was successful— for this sparked anger inside Sasuke.

 

Uchiha Madara caught Sasuke's reaction and shot a glance towards Fugaku. They both have an unspoken wary and envy towards Itachi. If anything, Fugaku knew Madara's plans to oust Itachi. And now it seemed Sasuke is one of the ways he can do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

A/n;

 

what Deidara said is in Dutch. translated as "You fucked me an hour ago, don't you dare call me 'dude' or i'll chop your balls off there" and Sasori replied "yes darling/honey. Sorry" thanks Lien for translating that for me. /kisses/

 

I was inspired to write this one cause 'Collide' is such a nice song. It made me think of Itachi discovering his similarities with Naruto's taste and with the man himself.

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 7: What becomes of the broken hearted

 

chapter warnings: long chapter, talks of businesses, OOC-ish [itachi talks a lot when he's with naruto or if it's about naruto], drama, depression, characters licking each others wounds, being needy etc. also, just to be clear, when I said SLOW-BURN, I meant it. Itachi and Naruto are not in love. they're friends and both needed each other. though in this chapter, they've improve a bit, so yeah.

 

 

~The fruits of love grow all around

 

But for me they come a tumblin' down

 

Everyday heartaches grow a little stronger

 

I can't stand this pain much longer

 

I walk in shadows, searching for light

 

Cold and alone, no comfort in sight

 

Hoping and prayin' for someone to care

 

Always movin' and goin' nowhere

 

What becomes of the broken-hearted

 

Who had love that's now departed

 

I know I've got to find

 

Some kind of peace of mind

 

Help me, please~

 

~o~

 

 

 

Itachi had to release a formal statement clearing Naruto's name?and though the gesture was well intended, it gave the opposite effect. People thought Itachi was not the type of person to go to great lengths to clear someone's name?and that was true. This was actually the first time Itachi gave a comment on his personal affairs, officially.

 

He did tell Naruto he was going to do that, only cause Naruto has been harassed non-stop even when he's just going to the bathroom in his University. He had to use his power and go over to the Board, forcing them to do something about the safety of their student.

 

It was not a pretty situation.

 

During the week of the merger with the Hyugas, there were a few times that Sasuke came to his office and wanted to talk regarding Naruto and what was happening. His time doesn't permit him though; they were really swamped with things to do that he somehow couldn't even go home.

 

The Hyuga Inc. was once a small scale company, investing in Freight Forwarding. After its previous CEO stepped down, Hyuga Neji took over its management and the business bloomed significantly. They invested in all aspects of Freight and Logistics that they'd managed to own shipping lines that cater to high-end commodities such as: imported car parts, medical equipment, chemicals and so on. The type of commodities that requires a huge amount of insurance while traveling on land, sea or by air.

 

Since then, Itachi has been convincing the board to merge with the company; they do have their Freight forwarders partnership they used for their business especially their advance construction materials. Though, owning or investing in shipping lines themselves would lessen the money they waste on third party logistics.

 

The merger; however, right before the contract signing took an unexpected turn of events. The one that had the largest stock in their Corporation?next to Itachi's, that is?is opposed to the idea. Madara wanted to compete against the Hyuga, saying they could probably have more profit that way. Itachi on the other hand, said that competing against them would make them lose rather than gain money.

 

One: they have to do research on how the business would work, that'd be the easiest of the things they have to do. Two: they'd have to produce their own ships and cargo planes which cost a lot of money, not to mention uneconomical. Not knowing if your business would bloom in this day and age of economic crisis is a gamble. And the gamble into buying a multi-million to billions of dollars of ships and planes is something they could not afford.

 

Where they would get that kind of money was the main question. You cannot be a shipping line with a single ship or plane. Hiring other commercial planes and ships? That defeats the purpose of building their own line.

 

There's also an unspoken rule in this type of industry. Make a lot of allies before making enemies. If, somehow, they really make their own and compete against them, that would mean they'll lose business that associates with Hyuga Inc. Itachi said that Hyugas' didn't go that far in such a short time because of 'luck' alone?though that was a part of it. The cunning Uchiha Itachi said it was rather logical that Neji had some kind of help behind the scenes. That was the risky part of it?and while they're preparing for their business, Hyuga Inc. would rise to power more and more, making their venture an inevitable loss.

 

So Madara was outvoted?not surprisingly. Though what shocked everyone else was that Uchiha Sasuke voted in favor of Madara.

 

Itachi was unfazed.

 

He perceived Madara would use the latest tragedy of his brother's life to use or sway the man to his advantage. He sensed that his father would be behind this as well. He had a contingency plan and everything was going accordingly.

 

When the signing was over, the Uchihas left the board meeting with a bone-chilling silence. Uchiha Itachi had the triumphant look over Madara and Sasuke had the scowl on his face.

 

He went back to his office and resumed his day, thinking of how to execute his next steps. Sasuke is the acting Vice President, and though Sasuke is an Uchiha, he has no stocks of his own. This means, Madara or Fugaku himself would give Sasuke some control to oust him and regain their power.

 

Itachi scoffed at the thought.

 

The reason as to why Itachi was the CEO of the Uchiha Corp.?along with its other businesses?was because Madara and Fugaku made a blunder while it was in their hands. A few years back, Fugaku made bad investments and decisions and somehow kept losing money more than its gain. Itachi had researched about the incident and knew that Madara was also the reason why this was happening. Madara was not the trusted child for he had a dark ambition and was brutal in his ways of handling business. For this reason, Fugaku was the trusted one and their grandfather left the Uchiha's wealth to his name.

 

Fugaku is a foolish person though, for he kept Madara at his side. Unbeknownst to him, Madara was stealing money off of the Company to form his own. That's when Sharingan Corp. was build.

 

Madara had one fatal mistake; he thought he could use Itachi till the age of twenty or so, and Itachi somehow convinced him that he was indeed agreeing with his way of earning and running business.

 

When their stocks went down at a rapid rate, Itachi proposed to Fugaku to give him tentative power. The man was reluctant, but his love for money was bigger than everything, so he agreed. Fugaku announced his son replacing his position temporarily, for his health was declining. They already had an idea of how gifted the young Uchiha was, but had no confidence in his ability to lead the Company that has a gross income of billions.

 

Yet months after he was in-charge, Itachi had fired everyone connected to swindling and stealing money off the Corporation. He filed law suits and criminal charges, and though he earned a lot of enemies, he gained the board members' trust.

 

If that wasn't enough to spite Fugaku, Itachi had bought every little investment Fugaku lost during his reign. Everything?including a measly MCWonalds franchise.

 

That was a slap in the face for Fugaku.

 

After a year, Uchiha Corp. remained at the list of Top Twenty Companies worldwide and with a steady pace, it kept going to the top.

 

By this time, greed has taken its toll again, and by the two year mark, Fugaku took the power off Itachi and resumed his position by claiming he was already fit to work.

 

The board was unhappy with this and they could do nothing, that time Fugaku had the most stocks and influence, which was not in their favor.

 

Itachi was not called a genius without a reason, though. He knew this would happen and prepared for it.

 

He was exceptional in playing the stock markets and investing his money. He was so good at it that he was jokingly called 'Magician' in the stock exchange floor. He studied the current trends in this field and invests to whichever could give him more money. After two years, he had enough to buy the stocks of the small share holders and had the money to outdo Fugaku's influence by gaining more shares than him. He also swayed the Board of Directors to reinstate him as the CEO again, for he had the twenty year plan for the Company?complete with all its portfolios, targeted market, investments, and everything. Honestly, Fugaku was also in awe.

 

Itachi reclaimed the position and quietly offered his father to be an adviser, which he declined. He said he was happy that his son was serious into taking care of their family business and every time people asked him about this, Fugaku laughed and patted Itachi's back. He kept saying he was proud of his son.

 

But the savvy business man knew he was not. He sensed his father's spite for him and he couldn't care less.

 

The real problem now is Madara. The man wanted what he could not have: The Uchiha Corp.

 

Though Itachi had stopped his corruption, he knew it was far from over.

 

If only Sasuke was mature enough to let him know his plan.

 

The problem with his foolish brother is that the man was easily swayed with emotions. He doesn't know how to curve his needs, and he doesn't know when to retreat and see everything in perspective.

 

Sasuke was too soft for this world.

 

"Itachi-sama, Hyuga Neji-sama is here to see you." Kisame stopped Itachi's reverie as his voice rang over the intercom.

 

"Let him in," Itachi sighed and loosened his tie.

 

"You look awful." Neji commented as he took a seat. Itachi shrugged and offered him a drink which Neji took. They both enjoy hard liquor and were glad that it was already in the afternoon. Neji doesn't like stiff business meetings. He was more on the technical side of things and he likes it that way. But his 'boss' is a shrewd businessman and a terrifying person in general. He wouldn't want 'this person' pissed off.

 

"Everything's according to plan." Neji raised his glass to Itachi and offered a toast.

 

"Hn."

 

 


 

 

Sasuke was once again unsuccessful to talk to Itachi. He saw how overwhelming Itachi's work was, so didn't press any further. The older Uchiha was inundated with people to talk to as well. It seemed like a week after the merger, Itachi managed to get people to invest in their business.

 

That was rather fast and amazing, if Sasuke was going to be honest with himself. For sure he was the Vice, but his only source of money was his salary?gift-wrapped by Daddy dearest. At his age, Itachi was running the Uchihas' wealth and the lives of its employees and their families at the palm of his hands.

 

He was jealous; that was given. Itachi has always been the golden child and that's why he looked up to him. He idolized his brother and wanted to do the things he did.

 

Yet, Itachi? Itachi never seemed to care for the things Sasuke cared for. Itachi was not interested in being fawned over. He didn't like to be the center of everything unlike Sasuke. This made Sasuke feel childish and immature. He doesn't like the idea that he's being regarded as the social one, while Itachi was the unattainable one.

 

At some point in his life, the worship he gave to his older brother transformed into something else. He wanted to win over Itachi for once. But what can he do? Planning years ahead was not his strong suit. After years of trying, he finally gave that thought up.

 

He realized his brother's love for him was something no one?not even his parents?can match. Itachi was there to clean his act, was there to give him advice, the man was there to stop whatever he was doing regardless of how important it was whenever Sasuke asked him to come to his side.

 

He was convinced that as long as he has his brother's back, then doing things at his pace was good enough. It was not like Sasuke was failing, he's doing a good job himself and was noted by many of how smart and efficient he was. People at his age were still trying to figure out what they wanted to do in life.

 

He was; however, being pressured by his father and his uncle to go against Itachi. Saying that the man was trying to sabotage the company and everything it stands for. Sasuke has suspicions that Itachi was not telling the whole thing to him, but he was convinced that Itachi was not doing the things they accused him off.

 

"Itachi, give me a message when you get this." Sasuke left a message in Itachi's voice mail and was ready to go home when Itachi called back immediately.

"Sasuke, are you coming to Shikamaru's wedding this Saturday?" Itachi asked and though Sasuke was surprised, he answered him yes.

 

"Would it be a problem if I attend as Naruto's date? He asked me but I thought I should let you know first."

 

"Okay. Why would you be Naruto's date? And second of all, why ask for my permission?" Sasuke was kind of annoyed and he showed it in his tone.

"Oh, my dear brother, you don't have to pretend to me. I know you have feelings for him and wanted to talk to me about what was the truth behind all the rumors." Sasuke could hear the mirth from Itachi's tone and he was pissed. Itachi had this nasty habit Sasuke was not fond off, the one thing he hated about his brother.

 

"Nii-san, I'll be frank. Are you dating Naruto?" Sasuke ran his hand through his hair and started the engine of his car. He wanted to turn the heater on as well, he felt cold from his question that irritated him up to no end.

"The real question is would it matter if Naruto and I dated?" Itachi countered.

 

"What?"

"You don't have to concern yourself about Naruto, Sasuke. Naruto's doing fine, slowly. Whether or not I date him is none of your concern. Even if I didn't, it won't take long before he finds someone new. Wish him well by then."

 

What Itachi said was true, and he did say Itachi should stay close to Naruto for the blond needed someone to be with. But the fact that Itachi was being vague and answering with a question was insulting.

 

"Nii-san, are you playing with me?" he asked a little agitatedly.

"Sasuke, when have I played with you? When have I mocked your feelings? I am saying the truth; I like Naruto, and I was open to you about that last time. And though I do not like him romantically, I am not the type of person to close all doors. If I answer you 'no we are not' then I've already closed the possibility of us dating. But if I say we are, then you would've reacted differently and took a violent turn. I know you well Sasuke. Which was why I said what I said." Itachi paused for a while and Sasuke could hear him sigh.

 

"Naruto has had enough people nosing their way to his life. Allow him to date who he wants to. Including and not limited to me."

Sasuke had difficulty breathing. Itachi likes Naruto to some degree. If, by chance, Itachi decided to pursue Naruto, it would mean that he would have to see Naruto with the one person he can't be. The one person he loves and respects so much, yet the cause of his envy.

 

His Naruto would be with Itachi on every family occasion, holding his hands while the blond laughed that obnoxious laugh. His Naruto would love Itachi more than he loved Sasuke, no doubt he would. Itachi is better than him; he treats his lovers gently and never did them wrong.

 

Naruto's memory of Sasuke would be replaced.

 

"No. I don't want that." Sasuke breathed through the phone and hung up.

 


 

"How you holdin' up?" Someone pinched Naruto's cheek so hard he had to throw a punch so the other one would stop.

 

"I'm fine a few moments ago, what're you doin'? Pervert." Naruto retorted; the silver-haired man just laughed at his response. It has been a week since the news broke out, and though the Television stations stopped showing Itachi's and Naruto's face all over its gossip section, the rumor it created didn't die down.

 

"I have free time, wanna blaze weed with me?"

 

Kakashi wore a blue shirt underneath his white lab coat, his hair was a spiky mess as always and he had a dubious smile underneath his mask. Naruto eyed him suspiciously and was sure the sensei was not really on break.

 

"I don't smoke, remember? Does Iruka-sensei know about this? I'll rat you out for a bowl of ramen, you know?" Naruto had a bored look while he flips pages from the book he was reading. The library was his solitude for a while now and was glad that less and less students go there since the campus had free access to the digital copies for materials they need.

 

Kakashi gave Naruto a bar of seemingly melted chocolates. "How about I give you these and you shut your mouth?"

 

"Gross," the blond refused but had a smile on his face. He doesn't really hate the man, rather, he was fond of him. Unlike Iruka, Kakashi was laid back and lazy. Somehow this attitude was refreshing to be with whenever he's not in the mood to be smothered. Iruka has a tendency to mother him to death?not that he wasn't grateful for it.

 

"Kakashi-sensei, I wanted to ask you about something?" Naruto stated. Kakashi didn't look at him, just busy reading his erotic novel. A novel he seemed to be re-reading for a whole year.

 

"What is it?" the man answered.

 

"I'm living with Itachi, you know that right? Do you think it's wise that I postponed my plans on moving out?" Naruto asked while he still read his notes, occasionally jotting down on his tickler; he was the type to write on small pieces of paper so a tickler was best for him.

 

Kakashi?who was sitting by the window?looked up at Naruto and closed his book. "Why did you stay with him in the first place?" he asked.

 

Naruto shrugged. "I was desperate and lonely. I don't want to be alone, yet I don't want to be with people who don't give me space either. I can't stay with Gaara; he'll give me advice I don't need. I don't want to stay with my other friends either; they'll tell me how stupid I am and that I should've left Sasuke sooner."

 

There was a pregnant pause between them before Naruto spoke again. "When I'm with Itachi, everything's easier. I'm with someone, but he doesn't mind my business and leave me be. He doesn't question my choices, he sits there and listens to me, he lets me cry however long I please? I guess I'm using his kindness, huh?" he asked.

 

Kakashi contemplated what to say. Indeed, Naruto looked like he was using Kakashi as his safety blanket, but what's intriguing was what Itachi wanted with Naruto. He never really trusted the Uchiha. There was something about his eyes that tell Kakashi that he wasn't all that innocent and helping Naruto was his only goal, though this was just a hunch on his part. Uchiha Itachi is a man that's hard to read and looks like he was planning his steps in life years before it happened. That kind of cunning is something you fear if you're not his ally.

 

"So why did you postpone your move again? I thought the place Iruka told you about was perfect for you and your pet?" he decided to not answer the question laid out.

 

"The news still didn't die down, and me moving to an unprotected apartment would be bad. At least Itachi's house has CCTV cameras, alarms, gated and all that shit..." Naruto waved his hand dismissively.

 

"Hmm. Indeed, that's a wise decision. I guess you'll have to tough it out for now, ne?"

 

"Guess so."

 

By then Naruto's phone vibrated.

 

"Thanks Kakashi-sensei, I have class now. Please say hi to Iruka-sensei for me. I'll come visit soon."

 

Kakashi waved goodbye at the young man, but had a look of concern for him. He'll have to talk to Itachi soon to get to the bottom of that nagging uneasiness in his chest.

 

"Ah. I'm such a good person." he nodded to himself profusely.

 

.

 

.

 

The lecture was both gruesome and tiresome that Naruto, come afternoon, was ready to bury his head under the earth.

 

Just as he suspected, he was the source of amusement for some and the source of hatred for others.

 

'First Sasuke and now his older brother? That's really sick.'

'He really has high ambitions, no? I mean forget having a rich boyfriend! That man was gunning after the Uchiha wealth!'

 

'I'm definitely a better catch than he is! I met Itachi-sama a few times and my Dad is his business associate. But when they arranged us to meet, Itachi-sama immediately refused, saying he was not interested! I guess that bitch didn't want Itachi-sama taken away from him! He's scared cause he has nothing!'

'His face is so ugly, ugh. Look at those scars! I bet the reason Sasuke left him was because he woke up and realize what a scum that Naruto is! Yuck!'

 

Naruto kept hearing these things and more in the last few days, sending himself into fits of anger. He wanted to hold on and ignore them. But how can you? When you're a victim and you're the one being blamed, it hurts you and even wounds your soul.

 

What can he do? It is true that he is nothing; he has a few yen under his name, but that was it. He's not bad looking, but it's true that compared to the Uchihas, he looks like dirt. He knew that Sasuke is a good looking guy and dating him was something he was always insecure over. Now that Itachi is linked with him, imagine the negative impact to his self-confidence.

 

He was bombarded with questions the day after they went out. Apparently, someone took a picture of them and spread it over the news and internet. It wasn't supposed to be a big deal. The problem was Itachi is a bachelor that separated his private life very meticulously, for him to be seen in public with a man, doing domestic stuff was something to gossip over?that's for sure.

 

Naruto immediately denied the fact after a reporter practically shoved a mic at his face. "We're just friends." he said. People didn't buy it for one second.

 

He was glad; however, that Kakashi and Iruka fortified security over the campus. Kakashi's family was part of the University board and had no problems providing Naruto the safety he needed.

 

Though his protection can only go so far. Gossip from students themselves cannot be stopped.

 

Messages from group boards and University online forums sure had a feast on his private life.

'An orphan.'

 

'Gold digger.'

 

'Sure. They're friends -rolls eyes- After all, it's everyday that you get to be friends with billionaires.'

 

Naruto was and still enduring these hurtful comments?seemingly fine. It's not like people can harm him physically. They could, but they'd be in a world of pain; for Naruto is one hell of a fighter.

 

Sai is helping Naruto's University life a bit as well. The man was always beside him and bit by bit, he got to know him. The man wasn't as bad as he perceived him to be. In fact, even though he's blunt, Sai's a good person deep, deep down.

 

.

 

.

 

Naruto's classes came to an end, after a whole new day of endurance. When he reached his bike, he saw the tires were deliberately slashed. He sighed audibly and heard some giggles from the girls not so far away. He recognized them as Sasuke's fans.

 

He looked at them and stared without blinking.

 

"Wha ? what?" one asked.

 

"It's because you people are so pathetic that the Uchihas wanted nothing to do with you." Naruto said a little loudly, making sure everyone near would hear him. He finished it off with a meaningful smirk and unchained his bike. Tomorrow, he'll make sure to walk and take the bus instead.

 

"What did you say?!" an angry voice came from them and few girls stood up, as if ready to pounce at the blond.

 

"You heard me!" he challenged back. "You people have nothing to do in your lives that you had to gossip over others. Feh! Why don't you try flirting with them for once, see if they'll be interested in small minded people like you." Naruto hissed.

 

They were about to walk over to Naruto when the man's phone rang.

 

"Hello? Itachi, just in time?" Naruto shot a glance at the girls and smirked again. He was so done being the victim.

 

He still was talking on the phone while he rolled his bike away, leaving a few angry shouts from the people watching over him. And while he looked so tough on the outside, Naruto was in the verge of tears.

 

He didn't deserve any of this. And for sure, tomorrow's going to be hell again. He knew those girls would make up stuff like Naruto attacked them or something like that. For now, he was happy that he got to be smug over them.

 


 

Deidara shot concerned glances towards Naruto every now and then. When he called the man earlier, Naruto addressed him as 'Itachi'. He knew to some degree that Naruto was bullied at school. What he can't understand was why.

 

Naruto has always been hated because of his closeness with Uchiha Sasuke. Now that he's 'with' the older, more refined and successful Uchiha, people seemed to have lost it and targeted him more. Somehow, they?Deidara and Sasori?felt responsible for Naruto's unhappiness.

 

They were the ones who pushed the two to spend time together, without thinking of the consequences it'll bring.

 

Naruto kept saying he was fine, and was functioning normally like always, but they knew Naruto was suffering.

 

He kept losing track of time, always needed to be reminded to eat, or drink. He kept losing focus and seemed listless.

 

His aversion to mirrors and anything that shows his reflection resurfaced. They heard it from Itachi before and they were really glad when Naruto slowly didn't mind seeing his face again. But now that everything was a mess, somehow his clinical depression relapsed.

 

"I'm done for today, need anything else?" Naruto asked with the fake smile on his face. Sasori saw this and he visibly cringed. He hated this Naruto but had no right to say anything. He understood that he's going through a difficult time, but still trying his best to move on. The man?the couples thought?was so unlucky. If only he was someone with a name to back him up, he wouldn't feel so small right now.

 

"Let me take you home." Deidara offered and Naruto immediately said no.

 

He didn't gave his boss time to argue with him and left as fast as he could.

 

He knew they were looking at him with eyes of pity. He hated that and he hated himself, yet again. But what was he supposed to do but move on and try to numb everything else.

 

Though he can't help but wonder about Sasuke's life at the moment. Sasuke's child in his arms, cooing her. Falling asleep with his wife in his arms, resting side by side. Eating dinners together, talking about what Sakura did with Sarada.

 

It pains him. He was left with nothing and everyday he fought hard. He fought against people misunderstanding him and fought against society judging him. What's harder was he's even fighting himself and his inner battles were the worse of his life. He wanted to be with Sasuke again, he wanted to see him, he wanted to fall desperately onto his arms and cry until everything was over.

 

He really love the man, and at times when the nights grew colder and his feelings seem like endless voids, Naruto wanted to give Sasuke a call. Ask him if he was doing fine without him. Why Naruto seemed to be dying every day. And just when he seemed to have a break, everyone and everything was dragging him down again.

 

Naruto took the bus, leaving his bike parked at work. He'd have to change the tires for they were slashed violently. He doesn't have the money for it yet and it'll have to wait.

 

It took him twenty minutes to reach home. Thankful that Itachi had the influence to keep their home safe, Naruto was relieved to see that there were no reporters waiting outside their house. It was a gated community and no one was allowed to enter without special permission.

 

"On foot today, sir?" the guard asked Naruto and the blond nodded with a grin on his face.

 

"You look sharp tonight, have a date?" he joked and the old man flustered. It looked like Naruto hit the nail in the head.

 

"Heh. Good luck then," he called out as he walked the few meters to their house.

 

By the time he reached their driveway, Choi's face was already stuck between the metal of the gates. He was whining and wagging his tail at the same time that Naruto couldn't help but laugh and feel pity.

 

"I'm home, Choi. What're you doin' buddy?" Naruto asked and freed the dog. When its nose was finally free, Choi pounced on Naruto, licking wherever he can.

 

"It's good to see you too, buddy. Why're you out though?" Naruto wondered if granny was still inside. She was supposed to leave before the sun sets and leave Choi in. Why was he out?

 

"I let him out, he was making a mess inside."

 

A familiar voice stopped Naruto from breathing a few seconds. He was sure that he's having auditory hallucinations. He refused to look back until, "Hello, Naruto." the voice spoke again.

 

Naruto turned around, and though the sky was already dark, the driveway had ample lighting, illuminating the pale skin and dark hair he knew and saw many times throughout his life. The lady had her one hand in her skirt pocket while the other ran over her hair. She looked like she was waiting for a while.

 

"Mikoto?" Naruto still couldn't believe she was there. Naruto's heart was beating so fast, he knew Mikoto could hear it too. Somehow this made Naruto painfully aware of what was between them.

 

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked and Naruto opened his mouth and said a tiny 'yes'.

 

Minutes after they were inside, Naruto offered his guest tea but she refused, looking at everywhere but him. She scrutinized every inch of Itachi's home and was wondering what changed when Naruto came.

 

"Is that dog yours or Itachi's?" She asked after a pregnant silence.

 

"It's mine, but Itachi signed up for him and gave this address as his home." Naruto said. He was nervous to hell and back. Why was Mikoto sounding so - mean?

 

"I'll be straight to the point, Naruto. I don't like the fact that you're living here. But my son earns for himself and this is his home, so he can ask anyone to live with him. The fact that I am his mother won't change. And seeing as you're Sasuke's ex-boyfriend, you shouldn't live with Itachi. You shouldn't even be friends with him and bother him, let alone date him." Mikoto spat these words with much hate that Naruto couldn't believe this was the same Mikoto he came to love as his own mother.

 

"Are you saying I should leave?" Naruto asked. Choi on the other hand knew something was up, for he was growling at Mikoto and the woman stared the dog into submission. Naruto could almost hear her thoughts on how untrained and disappointing his dog was. Naruto patted the dog's head to calm him down.

 

"Yes. That's exactly what I am saying. You leeched off Sasuke far too long, and now Itachi? I didn't have problems with you dating Sasuke back then, cause my son really liked you. But let's be honest here, you're an orphan and without a career. Sasuke was better off with Sakura. It was like a torn in my throat finally dislodged when you're gone. I felt as though you're an anchor to Sasuke. He needed someone who can support his career, and give him a family. Don't you agree Itachi deserves someone like that too?" Mikoto stated.

 

Naruto took a minute to calm down, then laughed so hard Choi howled and barked at him. When he was done he faced Mikoto with teary eyes?either from hurt or anger or both.

 

"Leeched? When I was living with Sasuke, the man did nothing but rinse the dishes he used and pay for the house. I bought the groceries, did the laundry and cleaning, did all the household chores. With my part-time work, I paid for the gas and water bill. Sasuke only paid for the house and electricity. You know where he got his money? Yeah, from his parents. Not something he worked hard for."

 

"Then what? After years of staying with the man, he cheated repeatedly. Who washed his semen soaked underwear?" Mikoto flinched and Naruto continued. "That's right. Me!"

 

"Not leaving his side then would prove that you're after the money!" she retorted.

 

"If I am then I would have married your son a long time ago, then ask for a divorce and have myself paid by millions. The evidences I have would shame the Uchiha name you guys are so proud off. Did you know Sasuke fucked one of your friends? That's right, the mother of our friend. Same age as you are!" Naruto insulted. It was not true, but the woman did flirt with Sasuke. Whether he slept with her was Sasuke's problem, not his.

 

"Not only that, Mikoto." Naruto's voiced cracked. He loved Mikoto so much but this was how she truly sees him? "I have never leeched anything off Sasuke. If there's one person who was drained here, it was me. Sasuke used me as his outlet for stress, treated me like dirt all because? oh gods why?" Naruto started crying. "All because I love that man... you have no fucking idea how much he hurt me and I remained by his side because I'm willing to take the risk...

 

"And now you? and everyone else kept popping in my life, saying I'm this bad person when I have done nothing but love you? I love you, Mikoto. I treated you like my Mother!" Naruto stood up and rubbed his chest.

 

"Please get out, Itachi gave me permission to stay here. I will call the police even if you're the mother of the house owner. Itachi said whoever made me feel like they're trespassing and invading my privacy, I shouldn't hesitate to call for help."

 

"How dare you!" Mikoto stood up and slapped Naruto's face. Naruto on the other hand slapped her back which shocked the woman. He was angry and hurt but he did not regret what he did.

 

"I'll sue you for this!" she warned and Naruto pointed at the CCTV.

 

"You slapped me first." he said apathetically. This drove him insane and the ache inside his chest grew back.

 

He wondered if there was a possibility that he'll die tonight.

 

She was about to hit him again when Itachi grabbed her hand and yanked her away. "Stop that, Mother!"

 

"Itachi! He's taking advantage of you! You have to wake up!" Mikoto hits Itachi's chest over and over while she sobs, Itachi gently dragged her away and Kisame helped Naruto to sit back at the cushion. Naruto was sobbing without tears, as if he was having difficulty breathing. Kisame gave him water and the man drank a few sips before he collapsed and laid his head on the couch.

 

After twenty minutes or so?when Kisame was gone and everything went silent?Itachi sat beside Naruto and took his legs to place it on top of his lap.

 

"My mother was concerned for me. Her actions were just in the eyes of a parent. But on her behalf, please let me apologized to you." Itachi caressed Naruto's thigh while he looked at him. Naruto hid his face behind his forearm, "Naruto? Look at me, please."

 

Itachi was torn. Naruto was doing so well and yet this happened. He heard from Deidara and Gaara regarding all of Naruto's symptoms and forced himself to come home to look out for him. He was glad he did as well.

 

"Why would they say that I'm taking advantage of Sasuke, or you? Am I not capable of earning my keep? Do I smell and breathe designer clothes and expensive perfumes that I need to be suspected off?"

 

Naruto cried when he asked Itachi. His nose was clogged and the tissue box was far away. Itachi offered him his handkerchief, seeing as he doesn't want to stand up. He was absentmindedly massaging Naruto's legs.

 

"My mother's reactions were probably because she was convinced by someone. Either way, people are like that because they didn't take the time to know you personally. You're the most hardworking person I know. And that's not lip-service."

 

"Hmm."

 

Itachi let Naruto cry for as long as he needed, and though his legs and thighs were starting to go numb as well, he let Naruto rest his body onto him.

 

He opened the Television to see if the program Naruto loved so much was on, but it wasn't. After a while, Itachi's stomach was growling loudly that Choi?who was busy drooling over the expensive rug?woke up.

 

"I'm hungry. I have some take-outs but it got cold now, mind if I heat it up?" Itachi asked as he slowly stood up and let Naruto's legs fall back to the soft couch.

 

"Why are you so nice to me?" Naruto asked, looking at Itachi with void eyes.

 

The Uchiha sighed and tucked his rouge hair behind his ear, "At first it was just a favor for Sasuke. He asked me to look out for you. Then bit by bit I get to know your sadness and started relating myself. I got to know your strength and how you worm yourself to people's hearts so easily." Itachi searched for words then continued.

 

"While I said you and I are the same, you are far stronger than I am. I don't know. Even though we don't talk much, I got used to you being here."

 

"Yeah..." Naruto sat and blew his nose. "I was thinking how I got used to you as well. I guess we comfort each other, huh?"

 

"Hn."

 

The two remained quiet while they ate. They had some movie being played and from time to time, they talked about trivial stuff.

 

Naruto by the middle of the movie leaned his head on Itachi's shoulder and Itachi didn't stop him. Choi was seated beside Naruto, busy gnawing his bone.

 

There was a peaceful atmosphere between them that Itachi was tempted to tease, "Why don't we stop caring so much and tell them we're dating. I bet they'll go crazy."

 

Naruto laughed and choked on his spit before he pinched Itachi's cheek without looking at him. "I guess we should do that. I bet we'd look good together. Let's wear matching Tuxedos at Shika's wedding."

 

"Hn. We should."

 

"Yep. We should."

 

Naruto straightened up and glanced over Itachi. The man had his hair tied in a bun. His shirt had its top button unfastened as well, revealing his pale collar bone.

 

"Why are you so beautiful?" Naruto squinted his eyes and asked.

 

Itachi smirked. "Hard work." he said. Of course no one was that handsome without working hard for it. He had to work-out, eat right, condition his hair and do all things necessary to maintain it. This he had to explain to Naruto.

 

"I see. Which is why I'm ugly cause I don't do that."

 

Itachi frowned. "Who said you're ugly?"

 

"A lot of people."

 

"I think you're handsome though."

 

"HA?!" Naruto blushed.

 

"Let me rephrase that. You're beautiful." Itachi reached for Naruto's face and the blond felt no sexual intent over it. Itachi was really praising him and this made his stomach flutter.

 

"Thank you, Itachi. But, please don't do this again. I might take your offer and tell the world you're mine. That'll shut them up." Naruto laughed and focused on the screen. He was nervous for some reason and was glad for the feeling. He'd rather be this than remain angry like he was earlier.

 

He still has to go through all the bullshit tomorrow. At least let him feel like this tonight.

 

"I don't mind. Frankly, that would save me some time and energy. The interest between us would die down, people would just stop and think 'ah, another couple' and then move on. Seen the news around celebrities? Once they came out, the public's lost interest."

 

"Eh?"

 

Itachi shrugged.

 

"Your choice though. I'm not dating anyone so it won't inconvenience me. But if you started dating someone, then you'll look like a bad person for dumping me." Itachi had an amused expression on his face. He knew Naruto won't accept.

 

"I don't mean to be mean, but when you suggested that I should date, I felt as though I don't want to. And I just agreed because it's 'you' and you gave that advice. I think I'm that kind of person who doesn't date people easily, ya know? Like, I take my time and get to know them before I jump into a relationship. It took me years to admit I love Sasuke? so no offense, but dating for me is going to be years from now."

 

"Then..." Itachi raised an eyebrow.

 

"Yeah, we could do that. We could pretend to date or we don't need to confirm or deny anything. When they ask again we just shrug it off and let them think what they want. That's better than denying. They fucking don't believe us anyway!" Naruto waved his hand exasperatedly.

 

Itachi didn't understand his feelings though, but kept it to himself as he let Naruto used his shoulder again.

 

"Naruto?" Itachi broke the silence between them after a while.

 

"Hmm?"

 

"Forgive me for being rather rude, but you smell like the dog?" Itachi noted.

 

"Gah!" Naruto then gave him a gentle punch, then laughed like crazy and Naruto decided to take a bath in his room. Choi watched him take a shower and was laughing when the dog wanted to come inside the tub as well. Naruto knew the dog was hyperactive but he is cute and a little stupid. He smiled fondly at him.

 

After he was done, he saw Itachi had taken one as well and was just picking up bottled water back to his room.

 

Naruto led Choi to his kennel and said his goodnight while Itachi looked at him. They climbed the stairs to their rooms respectively and said their good nights to each other as well, when Naruto decided to jest, "Now that we're quote unquote dating? can I sleep beside you?"

 

Itachi looked at him and it was his turn to squint his eyes. He opened his bedroom door nevertheless and gestured Naruto to come inside.

 

The blond was surprised, sure, but entered anyway. He looked around and saw Itachi took one side and patted the other side of the bed.

 

Unlike popular belief that it was all dark, Itachi's room was a nice color of beige and brown scheme. Naruto excused himself and lay beside the man. He admitted to himself that sleeping with someone is so comfortable, but he did not expect Itachi to allow this.

 

"Sorry. I think I should go back to my room. I don't know what got in to me." Naruto panicked after a while when Itachi shut the lights allowing only the dim lights not so far away from them.

 

"Don't worry about it. I also like to sleep with you. Somehow, your midnight rants while you sleep are amusing me." Itachi joked.

 

It was not true though. Naruto was not ranting random stuff, but was calling his love's name. He was calling out to Sasuke a few times when they slept. Itachi's heart was hurting in a funny way. Either he was pitying Naruto or Sasuke. Or maybe more of Sasuke. His brother had let go of a very fine man. A man who would cry out his name in his sleep. That is indeed something to be envious off.

 

Naruto surrendered and moved closer to Itachi. If this was improper, then fuck it, he told himself. He faced too much crap during the day and he thought he's allowed to be spoiled at least when it's time to rest his tired bones.

 

"Good night, Tachi." Naruto sleepily said while he faced the wall, his back to Itachi's.

 

There was a rustling sound followed by a sweet baritone voice. "Good night, Naruto. May you have peaceful dreams."

 

If that wasn't enough to let Naruto's heart leap in place, then the next action Itachi took almost knocked the wind out of him.

 

Naruto felt Itachi's hair dangled, draping over his shoulder. He twisted his head so he can look what was happening and was caught by surprised when the handsome face was inches away from him. Itachi's hot, minty fresh breath, tickled his face and the smell of Itachi's after shave was inviting.

 

Naruto nervously gulped and closed his eyes, slowly submitting to the feeling.

 

He was surprised when Itachi kissed his cheek and flopped back to his side. The man seemed to yawn and Naruto hid his face under the covers.

 

'What was that?' Naruto asked himself. 'Why was I thinking that he'd kiss my lips?! Gah, you're so embarrassing! Get yourself together!' he berated himself.

 

What Naruto didn't know was that Itachi also berated himself. He really was about to kiss Naruto's lips because he was tempted by the sweet way Naruto greeted him, and how the man smelled like vanilla.

 

'Get yourself together, me!' Itachi scolded himself inwardly.

 

 

~I know I've got to find

 

Some kind of peace of mind

 

I'll be searching everywhere

 

Just to find someone who cares~

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

a/n;

 

the song is 'What becomes of the broken hearted' if you haven't heard Darly Hall with Patrick Stump (the vocals of Fall out Boys) 's version, then you should. it's hella rad. watch the video.

 

so Story so far: Itachi has a crush on Naruto, but was unsure about it, since he was convinced a long time ago that he won't love anymore. Naruto on the other hand needs Itachi. so yes, that's the development so far. ^^

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Rhye_Meow

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE SCIENTIST

 

 

chapter warnings: OOC, regrets - might trigger depression, jealousy, misunderstandings, cheating, sexual tension (?), LONG CHAPTER (like fuck, look at the word count holy f. Forgive me for the length. It might take me a few weeks to update again. Let me do this! OTL), mentions of menstruation (noted for those who are uncomfortable with female body function), a hint of vengeful action (?), not beta read-please forgive the mistakes, long narration of what transpired before the Shika's wedding, absolutely NO CHARACTER BASHING; everyone has their circumstances here. 

enjoy and please leave reviews if you like. 

 


~0~

~Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry

You don't know how lovely you are

I had to find you

Tell you I need you

Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets

And ask me your questions

Oh, let's go back to the start

Running in circles

Coming up tails

Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy

It's such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh, take me back to the start~

~0~

 

 

Sasuke was trying to put Sarada to sleep, while Sakura struggled to put on her shoes. They were headed to Shikamaru's wedding place later that afternoon and would be away from her for two days at least. Though Sasuke seldom takes care of Sarada personally, he really likes being with her – even watching her nurse or observing the maids and Sakura bathe her.

"I'm gonna miss you," he muttered and kiss her cheek which Sakura happened to caught sight of.

"We don't have a choice, it's been cold lately. I'd like to bring her with us, too..." Sakura commented, finally looking ready to leave.

"Well then," Sasuke went outside their room first, carrying the fuzzy baby downstairs. His mother waited at the living for they'd be leaving Sarada with her for the time being.

"Mother, we leave Sarada with you for the meantime. Be good, 'kay?" he addressed the last one to Sarada and stroked her cheek for the last time before he turned around and got the small luggage Sakura carried, directly headed to the car without another word.

Though Sasuke surely would miss her, he can leave without making it such a big deal – he can always call back home if needed. His wife; however, was different. It was not easy for Sakura; this was the first time she's going to be away from her child and already, she's experiencing the anxiety.

"Bye baby," Sakura said and Mikoto smiled.

"Bye bye, Mommy. Bring grandmother lots of souvenirs.." she answered while motioning Sarada's arm to wave goodbye to her parents. Just as Sakura was about to say something else, Sasuke blasted the car horn.

"Impatient as ever," Mikoto sighed and said her goodbyes to Sakura as well, bidding them a good journey. The baby and her stood near the gates as the maid helped Sakura load the last of their luggage to the trunk. Sasuke waited by the door of the passenger seat and opened it up to escort Sakura, offering to fasten her seat belt, but she insisted she can manage.

Sasuke drove slowly so that Sakura can see her baby as they made it outside their driveway. After the automatic gates closed, Sasuke sped up and turned on the radio, killing the silence between them. He can practically hear Sakura's gentle sobbing which he decided not to interfere. Sakura's been a hands-on mother when it comes to Sarada, and being apart was hard for her—that he understood.

.

 

.

"Sasuke-kun, can we drop by the convenience store?" They just exited the town and headed to the freeway when Sakura sounded distressed. She was busy rummaging her bag placed on top of her lap. It has been just fifteen minutes after they'd left home.

"Can it wait?" Sasuke asked, focusing on the road as he steadily drives.

Fidgeting on her seat next to Sasuke, Sakura blushed slightly and looked down. "I forgot to bring.. some pads.."

Sasuke understood, "Hn," he nodded and got a glimpse of Sakura looking down and still looking embarrassed.

After she gave birth, though they slept together in the same room, Sasuke never actually consummated their marriage unless Sakura made the move. Of course he doesn't have any reason to embarrass Sakura and refuse her. And it's not as if he's against with it either, he was just feeling guilty for a lot of reasons.

He was not faithful to her: physically and emotionally. Though these past few months, he was trying his hardest not to play around, that doesn't mean he already forgot his transgressions. You could say that Sasuke felt a bit dirty to touch Sakura. The woman is loyal to him, and though she wasn't as meek as she seemed to be on the outside – like what she's displaying right now – Sakura is easy to feel embarrassed around Sasuke. That kind of innocence is hurting Sasuke in a way. It felt like he unnecessary dragged Sakura into his personal hell.

"Would you be alright?" he asked her, still focused on driving.

"Hm? What do you mean?"

"Hn. I know you have menstrual pains every time, would you be alright traveling right now?"

"Ahh!" she gasped. By this time, Sakura felt his face turned so hot and red. She fanned herself with her hand and tugged the hem of her skirt, sitting so unnaturally. "I'm…. I'll be fine… I just need to get… some pills for the pain as well..."

"Hn."

Sakura took a few minutes to recollect herself and peeked at Sasuke. She was caught by surprised that Sasuke actually paid attention to what was happening her. She took great care into not bothering Sasuke whenever she's having her period: Sleeping early, taking pain medicines, putting on hot compress around her abdomen— all of these things she did secretly. She was somehow happy that Sasuke noticed and it appeared like he did care.

She was feeling uneasy because of this wedding. Sasuke grew up in the same Village where they were going now, and though Sakura went to the same school as Naruto and him, she were not that close to Sasuke unlike how she is… was… with Naruto.

Not to mention the fact that Naruto and Sasuke are groomsmen for this wedding. How will she face Naruto after all these months that'd passed them by? She always dreaded the day she sees him again, and together with their friends that sided with Naruto. How will Sasuke handle seeing Naruto, too? From what she'd learned from Ino, Naruto is bringing Itachi with him. It honestly shocked her that the two had that kind of relationship where Itachi was willing to go the lengths to help Naruto, even offering the man a place to stay. She knew that Itachi was just trying to be nice, for the sake of Sasuke's peace of mind as well, but that made her… jealous.

Itachi and Sakura didn't have the easiest relationship. Though Itachi clearly loves Sarada, he remained distant towards Sakura. Every time Itachi came for a visit, all they exchange was, 'Hello, How are you?' and that sort of standard greetings. She tried -boy she did- to get close to the older Uchiha. Itachi; however, remained aloof towards her. She was certain that Itachi looked at her at a distance – though closely studying her. Some of the questions among their limited conversations revolved in him asking her what are her plans for herself. Will she continue Medical School? Does she intend to stay at home? Things that unnerved her.

She was really wary that Itachi was measuring her versus Naruto.

It's not a bad thing to stay with Sarada—that she already decided on. Though every time Sasuke and the rest of his family asked her how she was, her mind often got thrown into chaos and uncertainty. And even though it was hard for her to admit it, she felt like she gave up a lot of things for Sasuke and their marriage that she can't get anything out of.

Not love, not certainty, not comfort.

Ino was right. She's a simple idiot. Something like Sasuke noticing her discomfort every month, made her happy. It made her feel a bit important to Sasuke. The man never cares for just about anyone, after all.

.

.

"Sakura, we're here..."

Sasuke let Sakura freshen herself up inside their car, while he hauled their luggage out. He saw some of their friends outside the garden and parking lot of the Ryokan(Japanese Traditional Inn), chatting up while they park themselves. The Lady of the Ryokan gracefully assisted some of the guests inside, and Sasuke could hear some really loud cheers. He supposed Kiba was already there, and most probably flirting towards the Inn assistants.

"Hey! You guys're early," Temari greeted Sasuke while she waved cheerfully to Sakura which caught her off guard since she was brushing her hair. She was way jumpy and nervous.

"God, I hope I survive this wedding," Sakura muttered.

When she was done combing her hair back, she opened the car door which made Sasuke walked towards it and helped her out.

"They're already inside, I guess lunch'll be serve in a while, why don't we take it there to catch up? Some of the guests haven't arrived yet, Shika's on the phone cause Neji and Hina's ride made a wrong turn somewhere," Temari shrugged and then smiled when Sakura commented how beautiful she is. She took great efforts to dip in rice sake bath, have massages, facials and all that during her two days stay in the Inn.

"How are you, Sakura?" she asked, while they took their time walking inside. Sasuke was in front of them while he was on the phone checking his emails before he shut it off for lunch.

"I'm fine, though this is the first time I left Sarada's side. I'm a bit anxious," she answered.

Temari is one of the people who tried to be as understanding as she could, weighing the facts before she side with whomever. She honestly straight hated Sasuke, and was one of the first person who wanted to strangle him when Naruto was drove to self-harm. But when Sarada got born and Naruto slowly regained his life back, Temari – like the rest of their circle of friends – accepted the fact that Sakura is Sasuke's wife now, and that they needed their peace in order to move forward. Ino made sure to ask Sakura to hang-out with them, but Sakura often refused. Temari was just glad that they could be adults and forget their indifference.

"Oi, Sasuke's here! Heya!" Kiba was taking his tea, seated on a zabuton(floor cushion for sitting), while a lady of the inn fixed some assortments of side dishes on their table. Gaara and Kankuro were there as well—looking really annoyed at Sasuke's presence, especially Gaara. The raven didn't mind them, for he was already used to it. He can't help what they felt towards him and it's not as if it directly affected his life whether they like him or not.

"He..Hello," Sakura greeted them and Kiba cheerfully returned her greetings, while Gaara just politely nodded.

Soon after, Shikamaru came and they started their lunch. Sakura seated beside Sasuke and Choji, while the rest of them seated wherever they wanted to.

"Where's Ino?" Sakura asked Choji whose face was already stuffed with rice and meat.

"She's with Sai, they went to check the Wedding Chapel not far from here," Shikamaru was the one who answered her, and though these people are Sakura's friends as well, she can't helped but feel unease. She just nodded and continued eating while thwarting Choji's hand to eat her share as well.

As they were busy with their lunch, the door slid opened, revealing a handsome Neji wearing Black shirt and dressed pants, together with Hinata, whose lavender dress fitted her perfectly, revealing her curvy form.

"Sorry we're late, we got lost..." Neji said, letting Hinata seat near Temari, while he on the other hand, seated besides his partner Gaara. Greetings were shared and they started to eat as well.

"Hm?" Sakura got curious why Kiba got silent all of a sudden and the mood turned cold. Was it her? Was it because she's here?

"You look good, Hinata.." Kiba said, a hint of sadness in his tone.

"Tha...Thank you, Kiba-san.."

'Kiba-san?' Both Sasuke and Sakura gave the two a questioning look. The two are engaged to be married not so long ago, yet why were they're sitting so far to each other?

"We're missing a few people, are they coming tomorrow or tonight?" Neji was the first one to changed the topic and Temari caught on.

"Yeah, Ino and Sai are there at the Chapel. Sai was the one who helped me designed the place, he's done a good job.. My other friends would come tomorrow, while Shika's parents are just dropping by their relatives and would come here very early tomorrow to help for the preparation. Naruto and Itachi are coming later, along with our Uncle and his husband…"

At the very mention of Naruto's name, Sasuke and Sakura flinched at the same time.

"Landmine after landmine, huh?" Kiba laughed and somehow the mood lightened up, though it was uncomfortable for Gaara. He was asked to behave himself, but inside, he was running scenarios how to provoke Uchiha Sasuke.

Neji decided to spoil Gaara and didn't mind the presence of others; lost in their own world. The handsome long haired man being thoughtful and placing food on Gaara's bowl, while Gaara told stories no one could understand.

Like always, a meal between the Uchiha couple were stiff and silent. Some glances were thrown their way, since this was the first time they saw the two together after everything's that'd happened between them. Saying that it was awkward was an understatement.

"Hm? Whose phone's that?" Shikamaru asked, hearing the light buzzing of vibrate. Everyone checked theirs until Gaara realized it was his.

"Oh, Naruto. Are you near?" he answered without asking anyone's permission if he could.

"Not at all! We had to wait for Choi's sitter and she was late. Anyway, that's that. We're totally late 'ttebayo!" Naruto's voice echoed throughout the small room they were in, and Sasuke's heart ache good, beating violently against his chest.

"Can I borrow the phone?" Shikamaru asked and Gaara nodded.

"Shika?"

"Naruto, you bastard, what's with the 'you lost your tie' thing? Temari's going to kill you.."

"Uh-huh, that I will," Temari added.

"Don't worry, I have it all figured out…" said the blond, and already, Shikamaru can see him nodding his own head, "Sasori-niisan gave me a replacement, and it's similar to the ones you gave me. It's actually more… I think I might look better than you!" Naruto finished that one with a hearty laugh that they can all hear. Then they heard him saying something to the person beside him, before he asked permission to pass the phone.

"Shikamaru.." Itachi's baritone voice boomed through the speaker.

"Itachi-san, where are you guys now? Are you riding in one car with Deidara-san and Sasori-san?"

Shikamaru kept his cool while gauging Sasuke's expression. Personally, he was siding with Naruto; he was closer to the blond, and more at ease with him. He's just not the type to go all out to meet and be friendly with others, and Naruto bulldozed his way into Shikamaru's life. That kind of person would leave a lasting impression on someone as lazy for everything like him.

"We're going to be there by four hours I think," Itachi said curtly as always while Naruto kept speaking and side commenting.

"Take your time then," with that, Shikamaru ended the conversation.

"Who is this Choi?" that's the time that Ino and Sai decided to enter; they partially heard the conversation but decided to stay hidden behind the door, to feast at Sasuske's expression. It was interesting to see the Uchiha moved so unnaturally: shoulders tensing up, glancing at Shikamaru and trying to correct himself when he realize he was paying attention to the phone conversation. Sai and Ino can't helped but laugh behind the screen.

"Naruto and Itachi adopted that boy. Such a cute one; very energetic…" Kiba jested. Though he was really fond of the dog, he did not clarify what kind of 'boy' Choi is, irritating Sasuke and purposely confusing those who aren't updated with Naruto's life.

"Eh? Are you kidding me?" Sai asked and Ino seated next to Sakura, starting small talks and saying Hi to Sasuke. It was especially awkward, again, with Sai near them. Though Sasuke briefly had a relationship with him, Sai was one of those very open, not-at-all-ashamed with what they did.

Married or not, Sai's always been blunt with Sasuke.

"Hello, Sasuke-kun, handsome as ever," he started. Of course, he was ignored. He then turned his attention to Sakura, eying her very intensely.

"What is it?" Sakura asked, a bit annoyed at how he acts.

Sai smiled, a creepy way he does with his eyes closing, fake and obviously made to tease her. "Nothing. Nice to see you Sakura-san," he stared at her forehead which angered her some more.

"Are you dating this guy, Ino?" Sakura asked.

"Is there a problem with that, forehead?"

"Who are you calling forehead, you pig!"

While the ladies continued to throw insults in a seemingly friendly banter, Temari smiled a bit towards Sasuke. She caught him eying her, looking relief.

"Good thing she's not nervous anymore, right?" she said to Sasuke and Shikamaru got the gist of it, while Choji got confused and asked his best friend.

"Too troublesome," as always was Shikamaru's reply.

.

After their lunch, they decided to roam around the inn or town on their own; Shikamaru and Temari went to their reception hall and Choji joined them. Ino, Sai and a few people from Shikamaru's work went to the town to roam around before dinner, while Kiba stayed, trying  to catch some sleep. Sakura and Sasuke; however, went outside for a short walk.

Sasuke was familiar with the place, though a lot has changed since the last time he went there. Sakura grew up not far from where they are, but since her family were originally from the city, their type of recreation and relaxation involves going to the mall, playing bowling, shopping or eating out.

"Oh, the park's still here," Sasuke commented, walking up the stone stairs and stopping to check for the trees nearby.

"What're we looking at?" Sakura asked and looked with him as well.

"The dobe scratched our names here, guess the tree's around here somewhere… Ah, see? There it is," When Sasuke turned around, he saw Sakura's expression. It was sad and hurt at the same time. It wasn't his intention for he simply forgot about what they were, or what situation they were in. He's just reminiscing and got lost of reality for a second.

"I'm.."

"It's not that I'm mad, Sasuke-kun. We know what we need to improve on, we'll get there..." Sakura tried to be cheerful and walked towards him, looking at the tree Sasuke was trying to show him earlier.

"It really is still there.. How long has it been here?" she asked.

Sasuke drew in an audible breath before he answered, "Fifteen years, or so.."

Sakura's smile faded, "That's a really long time..."

"..It sure is.."

After an uncomfortable silence, Sasuke decided it was time for them to head back and take a dip of the bath themselves.

It was in the bath when Sasuke encountered a very different Kiba. Silently dipping his body on the hot water while he stared at the open sky.

"What? Not drinking?" Sasuke splashed himself a few times and started washing his body on the side. The bath has nice scented soaps which he appreciates. He was never fond of sulfur baths, which the onsen has other than their well-received Rice Sake Bath. While Kiba turned around, he rested his elbow on the rocky side of the hot bath and clicked his tongue.

"Are you really serious about Sakura?" he started.

"Hn," though the raven would rather not talk about it. It was obvious that Kiba has problems with Hinata. The lady was very happy to shop and hang-out with Gaara and Neji while they wait for Naruto. It's as if she was not minding Kiba's flirtatious ways like she used to. If that wasn't enough, Hinata wasn't wearing her engagement ring.

"Naruto.. Do you not love him anymore?"

Sasuke sighed and rinsed his body hastily, slowly he got up and dipped in the bath as well. "If you have problems with Hinata, why not talk about that instead of going roundabout."

"I so don't want to talk about it to you," Kiba sighed and further relaxed in the baths while he massages his shoulders.

After a short silence, Kiba couldn't keep his mouth shut and started telling what happened between him and Hinata.

"So, she woke up one day, broke up with you over breakfast and didn't come back ever since..." Sasuke made sure he got the gist of the situation. It was surprising, since Hinata is a good girl—someone who wouldn't normally do that kind of thing. Her leaving abruptly was uncharacteristic.

"Yeah, pretty much it," Kiba said. He continued to say what's on his mind and Sasuke listened, mind wandering towards Naruto. In a few hours, he'll see him again. He wondered what would he say? How will he react towards him? And what about Naruto — how will act towards him?

"Troublesome, huh?"

Kiba laughed at him, "Are you Shikamaru?"

"Shikamaru's really happy right now, not like us." Sasuke retorted.

"Now that is so true."

Sasuke 'Hn'ed' while Kiba laughed hard.

.

"Sasuke, Sakura, It's dinner time." Ino knocked on their room, waking the two who decided to take a nap before dinner.

"Thanks, Ino. We'll see you there," Sakura answered, fixing the Yukata she had on. It was one of those clothes given by the inn so they can be comfortable sitting on the matted floor while having dinner with drinks. From what they heard while they were resting, Kakashi, Iruka and some of their High School and University friends finally came and they'd be using the bigger room so they can celebrate.

Shikamaru's parents decided to have dinner at home, letting the younger crowds enjoy their night. Kiba's parents joined them.

When the Uchiha couple came in, most were all settled in, though dinner was not prepared yet.

"Sasuke, Sakura!" Iruka waved at them and they seated next to him.

"How are you, Iruka-sensei?" she asked, while Sasuke nodded to Kakashi. Seeing him in a yukata while wearing a mask was weird. Even though he'd known the man for a long time, that still gives him the creeps.

"I'm fine. We're both fine, and you? How is little Sarada?"

Just as she was about to answer, a really loud voice from afar startled them all.

"Shikamaruuu! Temariii!"

Noticeably, people around looked the Uchiha couple, which was understandable. This was the most dreaded part of their day.

Not for Ino and Sai though. Ino is Sakura's best friend, but she has good times teasing her. The two were smiling ear to ear, as if this was their most anticipated event.

The door to their private room, opened and Sasuke could practically hear Sakura gasping her breath. He could understand, cause he was doing the same. The bile started to rise on his throat.

It wasn't Naruto who came first, surprisingly. It was another blond.

The man is gorgeous, wearing his hair on a loose tie to the side, mocha-colored Tailored jacket paired with dark, skinny straight cut pants and off-white T-shirt with bold, graphic prints. Everything screams fashion with the blonde. Behind him was a redhead, looking sharp in dark suit. From his eyes, they can easily see he was the Uncle Temari was talking about.

"Hello," Sasori smiled at them and took the seat next to Shikamaru and Deidara followed.

"Everyone, this is my Uncle Sasori, this is his husband Deidara-san. This inn we're all staying 's because of their courtesy," Kankuro said.

"Wow. Thank you so much, the service and everything else here is superb," Iruka said, sounding really happy and sincere.

"Aww, it's nothing. Good to see you again, Iruka-sensei, Kakashi..." Deidara said, smiling as the server gave them their utensils.

"Where's Naruto?" Gaara asked.

"Just turning in their luggage, Itachi's with him."

Right on cue, the door slid opened loudly and Itachi went in first.

As expected of him, looking smart and handsome; wearing a navy blue shirt, sleeves rolled up his arms. He looked sharp even though he was looking for a relaxed look.

"Good evening, everyone. Looks like most of us are here," Itachi said, nodding towards Sasuke and Sakura. The only empty seat was besides Deidara and he gladly took it.

As if the suspense wasn't enough, Sasuke can hear Naruto talking to Hinata outside on the halls, laughing at Hinata's stutter. "You haven't changed, Hinata-chan."

Ino and Sai, together with the newcomer couples was not hiding their amusement in their faces. It's as if they don't care if they come off as rude and uncaring towards Sakura. It was Sasuke that they wanted to tease after all.

"Uzumaki Naruto has arrived!" the blond cheered, saluting his way inside the halls.

Everyone, including Sasuke was shocked to see Naruto. He wasn't the same one as they knew him to be.

"Wow, Naruto. Like… hot damn..." Ino commented, forgetting her initial goal. She now straight gawked at him.

Naruto did not hesitate and knew exactly where he'd sit. Automatically strutting his way towards the older Uchiha. Itachi, on the other hand, stood up and meet Naruto halfway, carefully escorting him.

As if time slowed down, every single one who anticipated Naruto's grand entrance was captivated by the stunning, tanned and blond man in front of them. He wore something he normally wouldn't wear: a dark, form fitting dress shirt, and though he paired it off with a gray suit jacket, it looked relaxed and not too formal on him. His hair was cut stylishly, comb back, revealing a shaved side. His face glowed, looking healthy and smooth, accentuating his whisker scarred face. If anything, it made him looked a handsome young man, with a wild, untamed beauty. The best of all was his earring. A plain, studded black one. They never knew Naruto could look like this; he was sloppy most of the time, if he could, he'd wear sweats everyday. If he really had to dressed up, a polo-shirt and jeans would suffice.

Yet this one – the one in front of them was smiling confidently, commanding attention, greeting everyone with ease. He's a different, way improved version of the old Naruto.

When Naruto was finally seated, he greeted everyone happily, like always. He was cheerful and natural that it made everyone who knew him genuinely happy.

For those who saw him on a regular basis, knew that this change was not abrupt. Naruto took great care of himself this past few weeks and was glad with the result.

Of course their meeting was inevitable, and so when Naruto caught site of the Uchiha couple in front of him, seated closely together, he gave the two a smile. "Hello. You look well, Sakura-san. You too," nodding towards the oh-so-familiar younger Uchiha.

"He...Hello Naruto, thank you. You look good as well."

Sakura handled that one well, Ino thought.

Sasuke; however, just 'hn-ed' as expected and kept drinking his sake that was served to him awhile ago. He wasn't expecting Naruto looking like that; Naruto facing them head on. Most of all, he wasn't expecting Naruto not even calling his name, or throwing his usual insults – calling him 'bastard' like he used to.

He wasn't expecting his heart race to hell and back.

.

A few weeks ago

.

"Deidara-nii, do you have a minute?" Naruto lurked behind the office wall for a few minutes, thinking on how he'll start the conversation.

"Sure, come in!"

He saw the couple looking over few papers that looked like shipments invoice. There were couple of mugs laying on top of Deidara's desk and he was sure that the man had more than enough coffee for the day, which means he's either feeling good, or feeling agitated.

"Yes?" the older blonde asked with a wide grin on his face; a good timing, Naruto thought.

"Okay, so I don't know how to say it.. so I'm just going to be straight with 'ya," Naruto drew in multiple audible breaths before he said – "Please, do make-over one me!" really loudly.

Deidara was sure he was having auditory hallucinations. This was Naruto in front of them. Naruto who came to work without brushing his hair. The gloomy brat he kept calling 'mushroom' 'dirty alley cat' and other things like that. What brought the request on? Deidara wondered. He looked at his husband for answers, yet Sasori just chuckled and searched something on his smart phone, before showing it to him.

The older blond saw Sasuke and Sakura attending a gala, looking like celebrities. It was all over the business news since Sasuke was introduced by Madara to some of his business associates. Usually, functions like the mentioned was attended by Itachi; he handled the majority of Uchiha affairs in the recent years. To see the younger Uchiha—together with Madara, no less—was a surprise.

For Naruto, it was a stepping stone to let people know that Sasuke and Sakura are married and have a family now. But for Sasori who were familiar with the business and what was happening around the said household, it was a power struggle.

He knew Itachi is a shrewd businessman and if needed, he would directly confront anyone, even though his personality is a pacifist. Naruto who was in the middle of Sasuke's interest was probably already being used as bait by the schemer Madara. Maybe Naruto being aware of himself and his standing between the Uchiha brothers would do him more good than harm, that's what Sasori thought at least. So he urged his husband to help Naruto. Deidara; however, was just happy he can do make-over with Naruto, oblivious with the underlying problems to come.

And so the older blond made the succeeding weeks hell for Naruto, making him change his unhealthy diet for Naruto was taking too much salt in his regular meals, which was the hardest part for Naruto. He made the young man switch to high protein, high fiber diet too. Since Naruto's body isn't in bad shape, he just 'urged' him to take intense Birkam yoga classes. He also made him take fish oil food supplements, Vitamin E and increased his intake of Vitamin C. Gave him facials, luxurious salt scrub, done a lot of hair treatment to make his hair silky soft, and changed his nightly routine. Just taking a bath was not enough anymore; he had to deep condition his hair, scrub himself from head to toe, clean his face with liquids he hasn't heard before, moisturize himself all over and have his nails cared for. Naruto realized that when Itachi mentioned before that 'being beautiful comes with a price and hard work', he was not kidding.

Two weeks into doing the routine that was asked of him, he can already see the results. Kakashi was the first one to notice that he was glowing and that his body looked leaner. Deidara and Sasori was kind enough to give him their old clothes; by old, means the clothes they haven't wore for the past 3-4 months. Some of it was fairly new and some are even in packaging. Shoes and other accessories was bought by him on a very discounted—almost free—price, from Deidara's clothes store. So his fashion sense changed drastically as well. No longer the slovenly man he was once after Sasuke left.

People who noticed him have very mixed reactions. Like a females who went into a messy break-up, more often than not, they change their image for the better. So they took it like the blond was rebounding. Some men were very much into his new look, asking him on dates—which fed his ego, quite frankly. The females who were jealous of him from way before became even more, spreading rumors that he found himself someone to support him and make him all glammed-up to suit his new victim's taste.

Months ago, this was enough to make Naruto angry, and maybe even hate himself. But thanks to his bosses support, he learned how to handle them. That is, smile dubiously at them and have a smug attitude.

Not confirming or denying the rumors made Naruto mysterious. It was hard to admit, but Naruto felt high. Even though his change was superficial—he still takes his medication and went to therapies he needed—, he was still happy that this helped him cope.

He saw Sasuke and Sakura's face all over the news one day while he was in the library. The nosy girls was talking about it, and without any reserve showed him the pictures. He just got out of an annoying, intrusive talk with Iruka and was not in the mood for the heckling. He tried to shut down the rest of the world that afternoon and focus on his assignments, but when he saw the pictures, he lost his cool for a second and came dashing towards the bathroom to throw-up.

After he got Choi, his appetite returned with a vengeance, so he doesn't have difficulty eating. It was a surprise to him to vomit, and violently at that. He understood that he got confident that he had no trouble seeing Sasuke again, now that he has a lot of support behind his back: Itachi, Sasori, Deidara and his friends. Boy, was he wrong.

What shook him to his core was that he was way hurt now more than he was months ago. It's as if he was angry that Sasuke seemed to moved on, while he was on stand-still. He knew that he loves the man, and would probably still feel that way for a long time. He just didn't expect him to feel that strongly even after he had gave up.

So yes, changing his appearance, as well as the rather spartan etiquette training—and charming people, AKA seducing technique—courtesy of Sasori lifted Naruto's mood even for just a bit.

.

Itachi, that time was very busy with his work and rarely sees Naruto. It seemed that him and Neji had a lot of things to settle before their new partnership runs smoothly. Because of this, Gaara felt lonely as well, often dropping by Itachi's house to play with Choi and Naruto. This time, Gaara helped Naruto in keeping up with his schedules. His nightly routines, and diet was closely watched by the redhead. Naruto tried to weasel himself out of it every now and then, wanting to cheat and eat sweets or his beloved ramen, but Gaara knocked him to his place.

It was exactly one week before Shikamaru's wedding when Itachi gave Naruto a call, telling the blond that he's on the way home and asked him what would he like to eat as dinner. He knew Naruto haven't started cooking yet; it was past five in the afternoon and the blond just finished his work for the day and probably just got home.

"Sushi, please. The deluxe kind! Ones with lots'a fatty tuna. Oh! ginger and soy sauce dip too!"

Itachi chuckled and 'hn'ed' at the receiver, a smile on his face when he can practically hear the dog barking like crazy. When he dropped his call, Sasuke surprised him by clearing his throat behind him.

"How are you, Chairman?" Sasuke asked.

Itachi affectionately poked Sasuke's forehead, "Niisan's fine, Sasuke. How 'bout you?"

They walked towards the elevator, both seemed done for the day. Sasuke already loosen his tie, while Itachi removed his hair tie. Sometimes, he like to keep it that way.

"I'm fine, we're all fine. I'm headed towards our home. Wanna come with? Sakura's making dinner with Mother."

Itachi shook his head without hesitating, "Someone's expecting a sushi platter. The 'deluxe' kind, apparently," The chuckle after surprised Sasuke. Itachi never laughs. Itachi never chuckles. Well, he does, but it's always condescending and never out of amusement.

"Ginger and Soy sauce? Try the shop near the station. It's called-"

"-Ichiraku, I know. I'm headed there now," Itachi interrupted Sasuke intentionally. He wanted Sasuke to distance himself away from Naruto, for his and Naruto's sake. Not because it was complicated and messy, but because he doesn't want Madara to use Naruto against the man. Though at this point, it all seemed bleak and pointless. Madara already started doing his thing.

"Please kiss Sarada for me, and tell Mother I'll come visit this weekend."

Sasuke could not say anything anymore and nodded his head. He wanted to ask about the dobe, but when he did a few days ago, he was stared into submission. It's as if Itachi was saying it was not his business anymore—which was true.

He tried calling Naruto few days after the incident with Itachi and the news that broke to them; trying to confirm if Itachi and Naruto are dating. The phone rang, and all throughout the unanswered call, Sasuke could hear his heart beating at his chest.

Never did Naruto made him wait for a call. Even when Naruto was at work, at school or some place inconvenient, the blond would always answer him. Unlike Sasuke who doesn't answer Naruto's call when it's not necessary or it's not an emergency. Having to wait for someone you love to pick up the phone was painful. That he just learned the hard way.

.

.

"I'm home," Itachi called and was not surprise by Choi's loud barking. The dog got attached to him for some reason and was drawn into anything Itachi owns. That means, anything Itachi left scent on.

"Hello, Choi," the raven knelt and patted Choi, while the white Husky barked really loud and wagged his tail. He then got super excited which prompt him to pee a little.

Itachi 'tch'ed' his tongue, "We still need to work on that," he said as he was headed to the kitchen.

"Where's Naruto?" Itachi asked the newly hired guard when the man assisted Itachi with the overexcited husky; he jumped on Itachi and wanted to tackle the raven, so the burly guard had no choice but to held the dog down.

"I think he took a shower, Sir."

"Hn. Sushi's going to be delivered in a few minutes, the owner was out when I went there, so please take care of it."

The barking didn't stopped though and Choi broke out of the guards hold, directly headed towards the stairs and into the first door he saw. He scratched it a few times, and though the guard wanted to take him, Itachi said he doesn't mind.

When he let Choi enter the room, the dog already knew what to do and fetched Itachi his room slippers, carefully carrying it on his mouth. After he was done, he sat in front of Itachi, as if waiting for something.

"Yosh. Good boy, good boy," he said as he patted the dog's head and scratched its body for a bit.

Itachi was used to Choi fetching things for him. It's true that the dog was rather undisciplined in some areas: stealing leftovers on top of the counter, sneaking out to play with stray cats from the subdivision park, pooping on the rug, and other stuff that needed work on—but there's no denying that the dog is a sweet one. He strives for human affection, and would cry every morning whenever Naruto or Itachi leaves the house.

Itachi's surprise that he got so attached to Choi. He's a cat person in all honesty. They grew up with cats around their home and was happy that his Mother still take cares of cats for Sarada to play with. But Choi was an exception. It's as if the dog has a personality resembling to Naruto. Noisy, energetic and mischievous.

Itachi was showering when he heard Naruto's voice excitedly 'ooohhing' about something. Like always when he got home, Choi was by his bathroom door, watching him bathe or shower while he feast on his bone or treats given by the raven. It was uncomfortable for Itachi the first few weeks, but when the dog tried to gnaw on his door, he decided to let him do as he pleases as long as he does not step inside the bathroom itself.

Naruto on the other hand let Choi enters his, allowing the dog to sleep on the floor while he took long baths at night.

"Ne, Tachi, are you showering?" the blond called, staying by the door and saw Choi at his usual spot in front of the bathroom door.

"I am. I'm still not done. Need something?"

"The sushis and sashimis are here! Looks good! Thank you! Be quick, I'll wait for ya', alright?"

Itachi, just then felt a funny sensation on his chest. It has been a while since he heard Naruto. They often exchange mails but rarely sees each other. He leaves early while the blond was still asleep, and comes home very late—if he does at all.

It's not like he was missing Naruto. When he was busy, he forgot about the man for the meantime and would remember him when his mind was not occupied. Like the normal person who is busy with work, Itachi thought this was normal. But times like this made him realized that he was not living alone anymore, and that the blond had wormed his way into his monotonous life. Him and his weirdly cute dog.

After Itachi was done with his hair and got dressed, he whistled and let Choi followed him downstairs and into the kitchen. He knew Naruto was there, for he could already hear the songs Naruto often played on his iPod. Some South Korean Pop Group Naruto was really in to.

"Hello," he called, seeing the man's back facing him. When Naruto turned around, Itachi halted and stared in disbelief.

Naruto wore a cream colored tee and gray shorts, nothing really fancy. But his face was different. This was the second time Itachi thought Naruto was incredibly attractive. His skin contrast the scars on his cheeks gave him a wild, untamed personality. It was symmetrical, making it looked like it was tattooed instead of just scars. His face was different as well, almost glowing and smooth. Itachi had to take a few seconds to adjust.

"Liking what you see?" Naruto jested, a hint of blush on his cheeks. He was happy that Itachi noticed the difference as well.

"Well, what happened?" Itachi took a seat and ordered Choi to stay on his corner; the dog was already seated on one of the chairs so he whined a bit before he did as he was told.

"Lots of things happened, so Deidara-niisan and Sasori-niisan helped me. The diet was exhausting, quite frankly."

"Hn."

As they started eating, Itachi—despite the food laid in front of them—could smell Naruto's scent. It was a good hint of vanilla and lemony scent. He can't helped but stare at the blond's face. It really has been a while since he saw Naruto and somehow eating together with him made him relaxed and be at eased.

"..how 'bout you?"

Itachi was caught off-guard, "I'm sorry, what?"

"How was your week?"

"Oh, that."

So he, as little as he can provide, gave Naruto an idea of what was happening after the merger. Naruto was not that interested, especially the part where Sasuke was mentioned, but he still listened to the man. He loves it when Itachi tells him stories, or simply chatting up with him. Many people asked how Itachi was at home and that they couldn't believed someone like him was living with someone like Naruto. Yet, here he is. In front of the man, eating dinner with him.

Naruto was happy he could see Itachi again. Somehow, even after all the mentioned source of his stress, Itachi appeared to be more handsome than he was the last time he saw him.

After their conversation, the two spent the night watching the rest of the series on the Blu-ray discs Itachi bought sometime ago. Naruto was not allowed to have alcohol, but figured it would be rude not to drink when Itachi offered, so like the raven, he had wine. It was the second hour of their series marathon when they heard Choi making a racket at the door, asking if he could go out for a second to pee.

"I'll do it," Itachi offered. He needed to check on the guards outside as well.

"Can you give me that pillow please," Naruto pointed at couch pillow asked and so Itachi did, pausing the player for a second while Naruto browse his phone.

Outside, there were two guards patrolling the premises. When they heard the dog barking, they immediately had a smile on their faces. Apparently, the dog has a habit of staring at them by the glass door at the living room. He looked pitiful like he wanted to go out, but was not allowed to. So whenever Choi's outside, he ran towards the men like crazy. Of course, not forgetting to pee a little in excitement.

"Everything alright?" Itachi asked, coolly tucking his hand on his designer cardigans sweater.

"No problems at all, Sir,"

"Hn."

Itachi stayed until Choi had enough and was done doing his business on the patch of earth that was allotted to him. When they entered the house again, Itachi saw the beautiful blond already asleep at the big couch, curled up in a ball. Unlike months ago, Naruto looked healthier, and Itachi was truly pleased.

He was about to cover Naruto with a blanket when he heard him moaned in his sleep, tossing around.

Itachi's breath hitched. He gulped hard seeing Naruto's moist lips and that made him a bit weak in the knees. It has been a while since he had any form of human touch so this affected him in a lot of ways. Especially since he was pleased with what he saw.

Itachi, overall, likes those who are very nice and easy to talk to. He doesn't like those who tries too hard to change their personality to please people. Which was why he never really liked Sakura like he does with Naruto. He felt that Sakura was brute, honest and loud towards others,—Sakura's personality that Itachi likes so much— but keeping herself in-checked in front of Sasuke—a trait Itachi did not care for.

How about Naruto? He liked how Naruto is the same with the rest of the people he knew. He loves Sasuke romantically, but never was shy to show his ugly side to him as well. Those idiotically honest folks are Itachi's favorite kind of people. Those who are serious too, when it comes to protecting the ones they love. Itachi thought Uzumaki Naruto is very similar to his beloved Shisui—not that he was comparing, nor substituting the blond for him.

"Hgn," Naruto moaned again, stopping Itachi's unabashed staring. Did he had a lot to drink? Apparently, he did or so he convinced himself after he tilted Naruto's chin and gave a man a chaste kiss on the lips.

"Good night."

.

~o~

.

The groomsmen were already at the saloon at the chapel while the bridesmaids were being noisy at the room next to them. Shikamaru, unlike normal groom who were nervous on their big day, yawned really loud, looking bored already.

Sasuke sat crossed legs on one corner, right next to Sai, annoyed at Choji's loud chewing of his snacks, but had no choice but to endure. He was more concerned by Naruto's presence.

The blond's really handsome, the suit suit him well. It was a perfect fit—and not only that, his poise was good as well. If Sasuke didn't know better, he would assume Naruto was replaced by an unknown being.

He wished he could say 'fine feathers make fine birds' but that wasn't the case.

Last night, when Sai and some of their University friends asked them to take a dip at the open-air bath, Sasuke had the chance to stare at Naruto's body. He was not ashamed of it, and he was really doing it intensely.

That night, he was the first one to take a dip, near him was Kiba and Sai, who was having fun poking fun of him and his reactions.

Itachi came without a towel wrapped on, as expected of him. Some of their colleagues and friends felt insecure towards the older Uchiha's physique. If that wasn't enough blow to the ego, Sasori and Deidara followed without towels too, flaunting their otherworldly beauty.

"The suspense is killing you, huh?" Kiba said, elbowing his side. Sasuke could not deny it, he was tapping his finger on the rock, looking at the bath's entrance. When they can finally hear Naruto's loud chatter with Choji through the dressing area, Sasuke didn't realized he was holding his breath.

The dramatic entrance came and Sasuke was shocked to see Naruto flaunting himself in the nude as well.

The blond really did transformed, looking all smooth and firm all over. Prominent abs here, nicely shaped butt there. Sasuke deduced that the bigger impact Naruto left to them was not because he changed his hair, and clothes—but his attitude change. 

If he was a people's person before, now he's a people's person with a devilish charm.

It was not surprising to see himself get arouse by what he was seeing. That smile Naruto was flashed sent Sasuke to heaven. Was he smiling to him?

As he was about to stand up and meet Naruto halfway, Kiba held him by the arm. "No," the man uttered.

Sasuke was then sent back to hell. It was not him Naruto was approaching, flashing a million dollar smile, but his brother behind him.

After that, Sai who seemed to be enjoying making fun of him kept his distance. Sasuke hated it. He knew Sai and those who understood what happened felt sorry for him.

.

.

"We're ready," Sakura was the one who knocked on their door, signaling them to get ready to the entourage. Sasuke was the first one to get out. He could not take another minute being in the same room with this Naruto.

More than physical attraction, it felt he lost the Naruto he loved. The Naruto of his memories. His vivid, and spiteful memories.

As the procession of the wedding started, Sasuke kept Sakura fastened on his arms as they walked the isle together. Their own wedding was a civil one; only a few people present. Walking the isle made Sakura felt mixed emotions.

After them were Sai and Ino followed by Lee and Tenten—who came in just an hour before the ceremony because of a job they can't leave.

Few people were in the procession and Sasuke could not care of them. The time went so slow.

But when it was time for Naruto's entrance, he felt unbelievably angry at the time for moving so fast. The blond had Hinata in his arms, looking suave with his Carlo Pignatelli suit. Sasuke had no shame on staring at him and it's not like he was doing something other people weren't doing. Kiba too, by his side stared at Hinata.

It felt like the two brokenhearted idiots were waiting for their spouse-to-be, walking down the isle.

It hurt them, Sasuke especially.

Recalling what Kiba told him at the bath when they were alone, having a heart-to-heart talk.

.

"If you have problems with Hinata, why not talk about that instead of going roundabout."

"I so don't want to talk about it to you," Kiba sighed and further relaxed in the baths while he massages his shoulders.

After a short silence, Kiba couldn't keep his mouth shut and started telling what happened between him and Hinata.

"I often told myself that since we've been together for a long time and that our relationship naturally turned into a romantic one, ya' know, I felt like I was cheated by fate and that I had no choice but to fall in-love with her," Kiba started. That part, Sasuke could understand. There was a point in his life where he felt that way as well.

Kiba sighed another loud one, "I was smug. No matter what I do, she was willing to forgive me and when I come home, she'll wait for me with a smile on her face. I was angry at myself. I felt I was doing Hinata a favor by going out with her, ha!" Kiba laughed. "Sorry, but I know I'm a jerk but I'm telling you the truth. I was justifying me cheating her. It felt like I was sabotaging my relationship, thinking 'okay what if we're not dating? What if I can be with this model instead of her? Just because we're childhood sweethearts, doesn't mean I have to fucking marry her!' and this kind of thoughts...

"But I was a cowardI was selfish. I didn't had the guts to let her go. She was my safety net, that..." Kiba choked, "..no matter what kind of an asshole I am, she'd be there. I'd just have to accept that she'd give me a punch or two, not talk to me for a few days. That kind of... of shitty way of thinkin'. Like fucking shit, what have I've done?" Kiba patted his chest and continued.

"You know Sasuke, I laughed at you. I felt like when you were going crazy about Naruto, you were a shame for all the players out there. I kept telling myself I won't be like you. But when Hinata and I broke up, I was torn. It felt like I was going to die. I haven't taken a shower, I forgot to eat. I forgot the time. Shit!

"Then I begged her. I asked her to stop being unreasonable and come back home. I was angry at her, I don't know why I am, ya' know? I think I even told her it was her fault for not being mad the first time."

Sasuke flinched. He could not believe what he's hearing. The similarity was like a stab in his gut.

"I woke up one day when a girl I was messing up with messaged me, asking for a hook-up. Know what I realized after that? I was an idiot. I traded Hinata for that..." Kiba finger combed his hair, "I traded Hinata for her, and all those people I kept seeing behind her back. And now what? Hinata had enough, and I can't really blame her. It's like, the day she left, she proved me that I was wrong all along. I did not fell in-love with her because we're always together. I did cause she was Hinata. And everything about her is lovely."

Kiba felt like crying, but held back.. "I'm an idiot. Did 'ya see her? She's fucking beautiful. That beautiful smile is not for me anymore. And for what? So that I could sheath my dick into pussies that belongs to girls I do not really care for... Know what she said when I talked to her last time?"

"What?" Sasuke asked, since it seemed Kiba wanted him to.

"She fucking smiled at me, looking like a weight was off her shoulders! She said 'I hope you'd be happy, Kiba-san.' After that what can I say more but cry?

"The day she left, she made my favorite breakfast.. and... fuck"

"So, she woke up one day, broke up with you over breakfast and didn't come back ever since…" Sasuke interjected.

He could understand how much Kiba's suffering right now. He was somewhat the same.

.

.

All throughout the wedding ceremony, Sasuke stared at Naruto and Sakura could see it all. It hurt her, it hurt Sasuke. The only one who doesn't seemed to be affected was Naruto himself.

The wedding was simple and beautiful. The reception was not an exemption; the band they hired played beautiful songs. Right after the first dance—which Shikamaru did clumsily, showing how nervous he really was—the guests flooded the dance floor and dance their butts off.

Hinata was seen having fun with Tenten, Lee and Neji. Deidara and Sasori showed their skills while Itachi and Naruto sit that one out. Sakura asked Sasuke to dance with her, and he obliged.

He was skilled; Uchihas are trained to escort a lady perfectly. The focus on the dance floor were directed at them. It was the first time they saw the Uchiha couple dance. Sakura, not to be outdone, dance very well too. Her beautiful hair swayed as Sasuke lead him.

After the waltz, it was time for tango and those who brave enough to dance the technical, and very intimate dance was called to step-up. There were a few old people takers, dancing however they want. Though, one couple by then, surprised everyone.

Naruto and Itachi dancing tango, commanding everyone's attention to them was probably the highlights of the night. Almost everyone had their phones out, recording the dance.

Itachi always looked good in suit, hair tied at the back, was a perfect lead for Naruto. The blond's face was stuck on Itachi's cheek as they skillfully circled the floor. By this time, everyone that was dancing at first gave them the floor. It was beautiful to watch.

A dark figure like Itachi was a beautiful compliment to Naruto's glow. Even Sasuke could wholeheartedly say that Itachi's really handsome and princely. It broke him even more to see his brother's face. It's as if he saw something in Naruto that made him happy again.

"I did not fell in-love with her because we're always together."

".. looking like a weight was off her shoulders!"

Sasuke could hear Kiba's words echoed in his head. He hated it. He hated that Itachi smiled because of Naruto. That was him. He was the man who was supposed to smile like that. So borrowing courage from alcohol, Sasuke decided to drag Naruto out of there. Pride, and everything be damned.

"Sasuke-kun?" Sakura was confused why Sasuke stormed towards the dance floor.

"That idiot!" Kiba saw Sasuke swaying his way towards the two and was late to tug Sasuke in the corner.

It seemed Naruto and Itachi saw Sasuke's expression, heading towards them, scaring Naruto that his old-flame would make a scene.

"Naruto, would you please forgive me for this?" Itachi grabbed him by the waist, earning audible gasps from everyone, including the overjoyed Temari, fangirling over them.

"Wha-

Naruto didn't finished his question when Itachi drew the blond's body closer to him.

Itachi's face came closer.

All of the sudden, a warm mouth met his and then the reception hall erupted into chaos.

 

 

 

a/n; the song is 'The Scientist' by Coldplay.

anyway, sorry this was so long. XD

next chapter is Itachi's POV about all these mess. ^^ hopefully I can squeeze it here sooner. See you soon, everyone. thank you!

-rhye

 

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CHAPTER NINE: YOU DON'T KNOW ME

 

 

chapter warnings: SMUT! (finally, get that squared away
√ ) , 3P (threesome for those who doesn't know *yeah baby*), unresolved sexual tension, unresolved emotional turmoil, drama, jealousy, mutual pining, polyamory characters, casual sex, alcohol intoxication, might trigger depression, swearing, OOC, long chapter (as always), not beta read; please forgive the mistakes, as i said before: there's no character bashing here. please try to understand that even though some characters are not likable™, I still want to write them as 'human' as possible. people with feelings, things to consider, families to think off, insecurities and everything. so please do not message me anymore about bashing a certain character. I would not do it. ^^

 


NOTE. PLEASE READ!: IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH CONSENSUAL 3P OR POLYAMORY AND WOULD LIKE TO SKIP IT, THE INDICATION IS THIS SYMBOL ( ~o~ ) . BEGINNING SCENE AND END SCENE. THOUGH I WILL TRY TO TONE IT DOWN. I DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT PURELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SMUT CAUSE IT WAS NEVER MY INTENTION TO DO SO. THIS PART IS NECESSARY.

 

 

 

~You give your hand to me

And then you say, "Hello."

And I can hardly speak,

My heart is beating so.

And anyone can tell

You think you know me well.

Well, you don't know me.

(no you don't know me)

.

No you don't know the one

Who dreams of you at night;

And longs to kiss your lips

And longs to hold you tight

Oh I'm just a friend.

That's all I've ever been.

Cause you don't know me.

(no you don't know me)

~

 

Naruto blinked a few times, lost on what has happened. Nothing registers in his mind, except Itachi's salty-sweet mouth—probably due to the food the man has consumed throughout the night—and how he felt the hot breathe on his skin, giving him a pleasant goosebumps. The next thing, he was pulled towards a warm embrace while his body froze stiff.

There was a moment where he heard his name being called and luckily, through the intense training Sasori implanted on him for weeks, he smiled and nodded towards whoever it was. He had no idea if the conditioned response he gave was appropriate at that moment and he doesn't care. All he wanted was to get the away from the crowd that has started to move towards where they were.

His feet were pulled by force and he was taken headed to the exit; his head hung low the entire time. He heard Shikamaru talking to Itachi and the latter bid his good nights and congratulations to the newly weds before Naruto nodded and smiled again. The blond felt all the blood rushed to his head and it started to throb painfully. All the while wondering what was wrong with him.

For a brief moment, Naruto saw Sasuke's face looking lost and broken amidst the crowd. Despite the fact that Naruto was confused, his head zoned everything out and focused on one person. One face.

Sasuke's lips were thinned and his hand that was finger-combing his jet-black ones visibly trembled. He saw Sakura behind the man, seemingly asking Sasuke to retreat for she was tugging one his other arm, but the raven just kept his gazed fixed on his ex. If Naruto wasn't doubting himself, he could swear he saw Sasuke mouthed the words 'Don't go' to him.

Was he near Sasuke that he can make out even the slightest expression on the man's face? He doesn't know. He felt so far away; yet near. It was confusing how his heart violently thrashed inside his chest, making him desperate for air. Why was Sasuke looking like that? Naruto asked himself once more.

"Oh, yeah.." weakly, he said and hung his head low once again. "It was the kiss."

Itachi kissed Naruto in front of many people. The kiss that had happened right before Sasuke approached them. He can't explain the needle pains inside his chest, recalling the incident. Was he having a heart attack? That doesn't seem to be the case, but he was unsure how to explain it either way. It was just clear that he was in physical pain.

The blond's gripped towards the strong, steady arms that were escorting him out, tightened. Itachi, knowing how must horrible must the blond be feeling right now, acted more intimate and wrapped one arm over Naruto's shoulder to pull him closer. They were greeted by a few guests and maybe spectators who wished to gossip about them, right before they escape the suffocating wedding hall.

Naruto, by then, heard Sasuke calling his name in a last desperate attempt to stop the former for leaving. He was not successful though; Kiba was kind - or not - enough to give the raven a slap on the back of his head, and forcefully dragged him towards the back of the crowd.

"Just a bit more," Itachi whispered to Naruto and cracked a smile as if masking his words to sweet-nothings. Naruto, this time, was sure that Itachi mouthed the word 'I apologize' to him.

Naruto felt how kind Itachi is once again, not minding how the news will affect his life the next day.

He nodded and whispered, "Just how many times do I have to be save by you?" Not really caring if Itachi heared or not. For the blond, the impending doom this event would bring him is nothing compared to the weight Itachi's going to bear for now. After all, Uchiha Itachi is a man of high status, unlike an orphan like him.

He had no idea that they were outside the hall after a few minutes of walking, when Itachi touched his face, "Naruto?"

Said man looked left and right, surprised that it was suddenly cold. Though the part of that town was known for all the Onsen, it was still very cold during the night. A suit would not suffice at all.

"Naruto? We're outside now. Are you alright?" Itachi asked again while he draped his coat over the blond, though there was no reply. It seemed like Naruto was having a good attack of panic, so he decided to escort him out and go for a ride. A ride far away from spectating eyes.

After what it felt like long years of Naruto's life, he finally gain his senses, feeling the warm air blowing on his face; his knees up to his chest.

"Huh? Where are we, Itachi." Naruto felt confused as to why were they inside their car and that Itachi gave him pats on his shoulder or thigh every once in a while, when the road was fairly free. Did he managed to walk on his own? Did Itachi picked him up and put him in his seat? His feet was up and he was hugging his knees, was he the one who did that unconsciously? Where were they driving?

All these questions inside his head made him dizzy.

"I'm gon' vomit," weakly he said to Itachi, barely audible. His gags; however, were heard loud and clear, making Itachi abruptly stop the car.

Not a second later, Naruto opened his passenger door and dropped to his knees on the sidewalk. All he felt was his dinner in reverse, giving him an unpleasant sour taste and nauseating smell. The dirt on his hands as he braced himself on the ground, cut him deep. After what it felt like one whole season, Naruto was aware of a warm hand giving him soothing massages at his back.

There was a car behind them that stopped and also parked; Itachi waved his phone towards whoever those were. Naruto, feelt extremely embarrassed, asked who are they and Itachi said it was Deidara and Sasori.

"I think I'm alright," the blond said after they made sure his cut was taken care of and that they already made him drank the bottled water they brought. His scratch was not that serious when they checked it out so they let Naruto rest a bit.

No one was speaking; let alone knowing what to say. Naruto looked like he can handle himself in-front of Sasuke, but they were wrong. That was a mistake on Itachi's part as well. He knew Naruto loves Sasuke and vice versa. This reaction; however, was an eye-opener. Not one of them knew how much Naruto is suffering.

What was stabbing Itachi with guilt pains was the fact that it really looked like Naruto regretted the kiss. He looked like he wanted to run to Sasuke and explain everything. That it was all a lie, and that Itachi was just doing things on his own.

The pain inside him was evidence of his feelings for the blond. Seeing the blond lost on what to do sealed it for him.

This is a problem; this is not planned, Itachi brooded.

Itachi ran his hand through his hair—partly, cause he got irritated all of a sudden and partly cause the locks of hair in-front of his face that was not tied together, was already hindering him—and loosen his tie, before he brought himself to apologized to Naruto. Though dazed, Naruto gave a short nod and hopped on the car seat; door still opened while his companions does what they had to do: Sasori, made a call, while Deidara was fixied Naruto's mess-of-a-hair. They were parked somewhere relatively private and made sure no one followed them. Especially those who wished to send news to press about what has happened.

Deidara who saw the whole scene on sidelines was more shocked than he expected himself to be. He knew the kiss was so they could avoid bigger dramas, and frankly, the act itself was up to his taste. He loved how the subtle and suave Itachi when said man just went for it.

What shocked him was Naruto's face. It felt like he was just betrayed by someone, rather than surprised. Of course, it didn't looked like that for everyone else, since his face turned flushed right after.

Though Deidara is sensitive with such things that he got the gist of everything that transpired. Naruto searched, longed, and gazed for Sasuke's face—and poor Itachi's mouth, right after realizing so, quivered a bit.

Deidara would know, he loves Itachi after all.

Still, how Naruto was acting right now got the best of him.

"Naruto, forgive me for being blunt, but you are kinda annoying me, Un."

Shocked, Naruto and the rest of them looked at the ever handsome Deidara, with his arms crossed against his chest.

"Listen up, you fool! Who was it who decided to take Itachi as a date, huh?!" Deidara attacked the younger blond with a vicious tone and leaned closer to latter's face. "Sasuke and Sakura would attend, of course it'll be awkward and messy, did ya' expect it'll clean and civil? When does the overly possessive Uchiha-brat does 'civil', Un?" Deidara asked, though not really needing an answer.

"You live with Itachi, you sleep inside his room, you share meals together, you have a pet - that part really baffles the fuck out of me - and you are in a weird relationship with him where you guys, oh I don't know, maybe pretend to be dating?!" he yelled.

"And your point, Honey?" Sasori always finds it amusing whenever Deidara losses his calm and this was rather fun for Itachi as well. Of course, the raven's passive face said otherwise.

"That Naruto should be happy that Itachi kissed him!" He answered Sasori and got back at Naruto, "..he just fucking saved your ass. If Sasuke goes for you and questions everything, not only will you guys be ruining the Naras' wedding, you'll also be attacked the next day, Un! Look at all the tweets that's been circulating now! I'd rather see this headline," he opened his smart phone and read one tweet, "Itachi-sama and the gorgeous blond got intimate over weekend wedding reception... See?" Deidara showed Naruto the screen and the blond's eyes widened.

They were silent for a while, only the rustling wind can be heard. The only light they have were their cars' headlight and a lamppost a few meters away. To think that minutes ago, they were part of a bustling town, now they were in the middle of a road near a rice field. Sasori can't help but feel unease. Shouting was never a good idea, for they would definitely disturb farmers and families even hundred meters away.

Itachi then sighed deep and Deidara continued.

"What I'm tryin' to say is that, no one asked you to have a make-over - you wanted that for yourself. You didn't distance yourself to Itachi and got in this situation on your own volition. Naruto-kun, I understand that this is a tough time for you, but Itachi is not the type of person to fool around. If you're going to do something, do it flawlessly."

Naruto understood immediately that he was being unfair, so he gazed at the man, eyes full of self-reproached. He was acting like a victim just a while ago and he had no idea.

"I had no choice but to do so," Itachi started, "Sasuke looked so drunk and would make a scene if I didn't. I know this is a big deal, but for now we dodge a bullet. We.. I meant, I wouldn't want to ruin the Naras' wedding."

Naruto looked straight at Itachi's face while the man stated his case. He understood; Naruto really did.

The confusion he felt earlier was a weird case. More like, he didn't want Sasuke to misunderstood what was between him and his older brother – and Itachi, being the smart man that he is, understood Naruto as well. That was the normal reaction anyone would have. Yet, Itachi, the stoic man showed a slight hurt expression.

"You're confusing me, Tachi." Naruto soften his voice and settled down on the seat loosing-up his tie.

The raven, removed his hair-tie and fixed it again, unbuttoned his vest, uncapped his cuff-links, before he drank himself water that Sasori gave him. "Confusing you about what?" He asked the blond, not really in the mood to look at him. At least Naruto called him 'Tachi' once more. He got a little upset being called 'Itachi' back then.

"I don't know what're you thinking. You helped me, yet it seems there's a lot of things you're not telling me. You, you.. kissed… me. I don't know how're you going to handle this in a few days when your Mother comes and slaps me again. This is so fucked up." Naruto waved his hands exasperatedly. "But I know I am at fault. I think I really need to pull myself together. I'm sorry about the reaction I had. I've no idea why I did that. I'm playing the victim here, I'm really sorry for putting you through this."

Itachi, feeling his phone on his pocket vibrating, sighed deep and long before he excused himself and took the call. He was just silent, listening to whoever it was on the other line before he took a glance at his watch and said a time and place the blond couldn't make out of. He was not interested anyway. He was still confused a bit.

"Then Naruto, let me ask you," Itachi breathed out, the 'this is so fucked up' part of Naruto's question still rang in his ears.

"When you said you were willing to say you're in a 'fake relationship' with me, did you think of the consequences it'll bring you - us? When you brought me here as a date, did you really think Sasuke would take this sitting down? What would you do if he were to drag you there and make an idiot of himself, Hn? What would happened to you then? If I didn't kissed you, pulled you out of there, and make Sasuke understand that he has nothing to do with you anymore?" Itachi fired series of questions without battling an eye. It seemed like Naruto was being lectured and this made his face bright red with embarrassment.

"I'm sorry. I didn't think any of those, I admit." Naruto stood up and bowed towards the raven.

"You love Sasuke, right?" Itachi scorned, his voice laced with venom as if ought to kill Naruto. "I know that too, but please don't flatter yourself. I didn't kissed you because I wanted; I did it for Sasuke. Sasuke needed my help and I responded, that's all. Above everyone else, Sasuke is my main priority."

Naruto saw Itachi's expression became blank like the usual that'd confused people from the past. That was not a 'bored Itachi' expression like most thought. That was an 'angry Itachi' expression and Naruto felt scared.

"I'm so-

"I'll be gone for a few hours. I already apologized to the newly weds for retiring early and they understood. Please relax yourself and have a good night," Itachi interrupted and picked up his coat that Naruto rested on the hood of his car before he asked Deidara and Sasori if they can take Naruto back to their room. He left the guilty and upset Naruto behind.

It was when they we're headed to the Inn when Deidara scratched his head profusely. "Shit. I think I made it worse."

Sasori looked at the shadow of a figure at the backseat and nodded, "I think you did," he said as they both heard Naruto sniffled.

.

.

"Did you wait long?" The long haired raven asked the woman facing her back on him while she sipped tea.

"Not at all, thank you for coming," she answered as her eyes followed Itachi from the time he walked beside her to the time he took a seat in front of her. The raven didn't even looked at the menu and ordered green tea.

"What is it that you wanted to tell me, Haruno-san?" Itachi asked, eying the woman in front of him. He had an idea what that was all about, but he decided to humor her.

"I just wanted to thank you for tonight. You saved, well, both of us, really. Sasuke is a big jerk." She had a solemn face that Itachi, somehow pity her. This must be so damn hard for her for sure.

"What're you talking about?" Itachi asked, testing how she'd handle herself. Often times she found Haruno Sakura holding herself back, probably to gain his family's favor. Pushing her would make the tightly-wrapped feelings, unhinged.

Sakura blinked a few times before she laughed a bit, "You don't have to lie to me, Itachi-san. I know you and Naruto aren't into 'that' kind of relationship," she said in good-humor.

Itachi, annoyed, raised one elegant eyebrow and asked, "What do you mean by 'that kind' though?"

Sakura, looked like she had drinks herself giggled and wiped a tear off her eye. "I know you and Naruto aren't dating. It was obvious that Naruto was surprised about that display of affection. He practically froze and searched the people around him. Did ya' see him? His eyes were practically apologizing to my husband." She finished her sentence with a sad smiled and sipped her tea once more.

Itachi found the conversation a little funny, therefore, smirked a bit. "Assuming all of what you said was true, it is none of your business, though. Hn, since we are on the topic, may I ask you a rather personal question?" Itachi curtly said.

Though startled by how serious Itachi looked like, Sakura agreed.

"What is it that you love about Sasuke? Looks aside, that is." Itachi asked and she blushed, slightly embarrassed.

"Well," clearing her throat, she continued, "- he is serious, but when he smiles, for a while, his face lights up. He may seemed detached but he's actually a caring guy," she searched for words before continuing, "He also is the jealous type, trying to control himself but can't and –

Itachi interrupted Sakura with a laugh. A laugh no one has heard before. It really does looked like he was having a blast that Sakura felt insulted.

"What's so funny?" she asked. Itachi was one of the people that sided with Naruto no matter how many times she tried to make the man like her and that has always bothered her.

"When, Haruno-san? When did Sasuke did all these things for you? As far as I know, there is only one person who made Sasuke laughed, smiled, and jealous. That is not you, though." Itachi stated.

"You know what?" she gathered her things and placed money on top of the table, "- you just blindly sided Naruto without knowing me, and that has always been unfair on your part. It took two people to made that mistake that night! Please don't go on judging me like you've always have! That condescending attitude is not attractive!"

Sakura was about to leave when Itachi stopped her by grabbing her arm. His eyes are fierce - almost red - under the light. Sakura shivered a bit.

"You know, I know what you really did that night, Haruno." Itachi said, his eyes still stared down at her while his grip got tighter, slightly hurting the woman.

"Wha-what do you mean?" she panicked.

Itachi continued, "Sasuke was drunk that night, obviously angry at Naruto. That day, where were you? I know from investigating around that you were at school working on something. You already told your friends you won't come, but Naruto and Sasuke had a huge blow-out and you left your work to came to Ino's party, isn't that right?" Itachi still held onto her, even though she was not struggling anymore.

"And?" Sakura visibly paled.

"You took your chance with Sasuke that night—and what happened the next day? You cried and begged Sasuke to tell Naruto what happened because, let me guess, you felt guilty for Naruto and that you didn't mean to hurt your 'friend'?"

"What are you implying, Itachi-san? This was the longest conversation we had and that's the thing that comes out of your mouth?" Sakura finally yanked her arm out of his hold. She briskly rubbed her stinging wrist and looked straight at Itachi. Well, tried to. She now had an idea why the man was donned as 'cold and deadly'. Itachi could kill her with his stares and there was nothing she can do about it. It's as if an awful creature can make her spill all of her emotions and secrets. He was not someone she - no - anyone should mess with.

"I'm saying I've noticed you around the two for a long time. A long time, Haruno-san," the courteous way he spoke was intimidating that Sakura had to step back.

"You better be careful, Haruno. I will make this clear for you – Sasuke is important to me. Anyone who cause him harm, I'll gladly eliminate; anyone who makes him happy, I'll gladly protect. You and Naruto belongs in that same sentence. Judge who are you from those."

Though Sakura was the first one to stood up, Itachi was the first one to leave. He handed a ten thousand yen to the waiter and left without looking back. He was so pissed and angry that night that he needed to simmer down.

That conversation was also not part of his plans.

.

~For I never knew the art of making love,

Though my heart aches with love for you.

Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by.

A chance that you might love me too.

(love me too)~

.

He took a deep breathe before he started the engine of his car and drove towards the riverbank he used to play with Shisui when they were little kids. The place changed a lot over the years. His view before were hills and full of trees, now nothing more than a few high-rise apartment buildings and parking spaces. Still, he was grateful that the other side of the bank still had grassy hill that he can sit or lay down to, if he wanted.

The grass were soft and wet, probably from the light shower rains they had that afternoon, which made him lying on the ground impossible. "Hn," he grunted and decided to use his coat as cover so he can sit on the concrete steps. He can't help but notice the faint scent Naruto left on his clothes. He was too agitated that he said some pretty awful things to a person suffering from depression. He decided he'd take Naruto drinking tomorrow or maybe after he had cool down.

There were a few people nearby, either walking their dogs, or walking towards a convenience store not so far away. Some even managed to stop a second to look at the handsome man near an impossibly sleek, black car. Itachi knew he was getting a lot of attention but didn't care. It's not like they were approaching him anyway.

He had a busy night, that was for sure. It was so unlike him to feel irritated for long; usually he just brush whatever and whoever the source of this feeling aside and move on from his day. Why would he actually needed to take deep breathes to relax now? What was happening?

It was probably - there was no probably, Itachi said to himself. It's surely because of Naruto.

Yep, he was a goner.

He realized it all too well, that what he was doing was more than just something he'd do for Sasuke or for his friendship with the man. He was oblivious of his feelings at first, thinking he was just physically attracted to Naruto. What brought on his realization was that move Sasuke was about to do.

He felt his long-ago-broken-heart beat violently inside his chest when he saw Sasuke approaching-and had Naruto's confused face. 'Go on,' it taunted him, 'take Naruto for yourself' his conscience said.

He was embarrassed, even.

He kissed the man with good intentions: to save Sasuke's face and to save Naruto as well. Yet the blond actually shown that kind of expression. A face where he looked like he wanted to explain to Sasuke that he didn't want Itachi's kiss.

What did he expect? Itachi, once again asked himself. It's true that they were going in a nice kind of place and pace when it comes to their relationship. But what was he expecting? Sleeping in the same room sometimes, eating together sometimes, drinking and hanging out once in a while. Taking care of a dog together, and lives on the same roof.

Romance aside, everything they were doing can also be called being close friends, or best friends.

Is it the case for Naruto? Itachi wouldn't know himself, for, in all honesty, he doesn't have any close friends and been single far too long.

Sasori and Deidara can be considered as one, either lovers or friends. Though Itachi would never confide his weakness to them and would never drink till he passed out in front of the two.

How different was he when he was with Naruto?

Now, Itachi is not stupid. No. He knew he was starting to treat Naruto different than how he intended. That was the thing that's been eating him.

This part was not going according to plan.

"What?" he answered his phone after nearly thirty minutes of trying to simmer down.

"Behind you," the person on the other line said and he did was he was told to. To see who it was before he dropped the call.

"Yo," the other person greeted.

"Good evening," the long haired raven answered back.

.

.

Pacing back and forth inside their room, Naruto waited for Itachi. After he had sorted out his feelings, he realized the err in his ways. He had no right to hurt Itachi, not even a fraction. What's more, he realized how bad he had treated the man that night and the past.

Sleeping with him and doing things so comfortably without any reserve. Things got to his head and it wasn't pretty.

"Damn," he muttered as he bit his nails, checking if the mail he sent the man was returned. There was none.

"Uhm, Hello?" Naruto cleared his throat and proceeded to talk to the voice mail for the umpteenth time. "Tachi? I'm so sorry! Please come back soon and let's talk, okay? You were right about everything you said! I just got affected by… well, you-know-who. Please, come back soon. I'm really worried. 'Kay?"

Naruto didn't realized he fell asleep when he woke up from rustling of clothes. Startled, he sat straight up and adjusted his vision through the darkness. By then he realized it was Itachi who was undressing, looking like he was ready for a dip at their private outdoor bath.

"Join me?" the raven asked after he slid the paper door and head out to dip. Like the last time, Itachi was fully naked, not even a slightest hint of baring shame.

Naruto caught a glimpse of Itachi's penis and can't helped but felt shy. He said yes in an awkward, stuttering fashion and stood up. A few seconds of inner debate and he decided to remove his clothes as well. There was no point in covering himself with a towel now that the man saw whatever it was that he was trying to hide.

The sky was reddish that night, and the air was cold. There were no stars in sight, a stark contrast of the hot water so Itachi asked the blond to soak his feet a few minutes and gradually submerge himself so he'd give his body temperature a time to adjust. So the blond did, feeling extremely embarrassed sitting on a towel Itachi laid for him. His crotch had an awfully funny position, that he was tempted to reposition it. Itachi, on the other hand, knew the predicament Naruto was in, but enjoyed the scene regardless. Of course, his face said other wise, as always.

"I apologize for saying the things I said earlier, I was in a lot of stress lately, forgive me." Itachi started.

"Ah, damn." Naruto muttered and plunged right in the water. He seemed to rowed and swam towards the raven that Itachi's body stiffened in anticipation.

"Why is it that you're the one who apologized first? I wanted to do it, didn't you heard the voice mails?" the blond was relatively lower than the long haired raven so he had to gaze up at the raven one. It was incredibly tempting to Itachi; however, seeing it was rather provocative of their positions. Naruto's wet hair that dripped towards his silky smooth, tanned skin, was inviting. The way the man spoke was a testament to the Suna couples' (AKA Sasori and Deidara) training. Naruto still speaks loudly, but when needed to, he does have an air of calm and allure around him.

Or was it because he finally understood his need for the said man?

Both. Both is good. Itachi said to himself.

"Let's just agree to accept each others' apology, Hn? I don't want to argue again. It was wrong of me to kiss you on the mouth, without consent, for the second time." Itachi splashed water on his face and subtly moved away from the temptation. When he opened his eyes, Naruto was making a funny face that he had to snort.

"What did you... I mean. Twice? What 'twice'? You kissed me, what?"

Oh, dear. "Ah, yes. I did. I was drunk that day and was tempted to kiss you because you're so vulnerable. I meant no harm. Remember the time when I took Choi to pee and that you fell asleep on the couch after that? We both had our fill of drinks and that happened, sorry 'bout that."

Was what Itachi wanted to say, but realized he'd be hated more. So, "Ah, my mistake. I was out of it tonight. Pretty tired and all." he was being vague.

Naruto bought it and offered to massage Itachi's shoulder which the other one happily accepted. They started with Naruto sitting by the side with towel wrapped on his waist. He was unsure of what to do, until Itachi asked to be between his legs, while Itachi faced his back towards the blond.

It was all sorts of awkward for Naruto, suddenly conscious of how beautiful Itachi's skin up close. The rice bath water, white and illuminating them, made Itachi glow otherworldly beautiful. His hair that was tied to a lazy-bun was a striking contrast of his pale self. As Naruto started to pressed his thumbs towards the male's shoulder, Itachi rested one arm on top of the blond's leg which immediately sent shivers towards latter.

There were times when Itachi let out contented hums as Naruto tried, with all his power, to concentrate in giving the man massages.

Though it was clear that Naruto was having a hard time. For one, he really was attracted to the man physically. What's not there to like? Well-toned, handsome and well-mannered. His libido was working well too. Getting out of his medication certainly was bad for him. There was one time he found Sai and Neji attractive. It seemed like he had a thing for certain beauty. Fair skinned, and black haired.

"Okay," Naruto interrupted his train of thoughts before it got ugly and slowly pushed Itachi away, before he dipped himself. "That's enough," he said as his mouth formed bubbles on the water.

"Naruto, let me do yours," Itachi said, wriggling his fingers while he situated himself where Naruto sat a few seconds ago. The blond was shy, of course, but it'd be suspicious not to do it so he muttered under his breath and let Itachi's fingers do the work.

.

.

"Ah.. Aargh.. Damn.. there, that's so good!" the blond cried out, making it impossible for anyone who heard it to think it was an just innocent massage that has the blond like that. Itachi just worked his way to remove the knots from the man's stiff muscles.

The raven chuckled at how big of a mess Naruto was, his whole body fighting the urge to sleep and yet let out a hiss whenever Itachi stops.

"My body got cold now," Itachi said. Finally allowed to end the session.

"Are you sure this is not what you do for a living, damn. It's so good, I think I'll sleep here." Naruto begrudgingly walked out of the bath and got ready for a good night's sleep. He was exhausted for the day and would like to rest. Itachi; however, stayed behind, warming up again before he let out a deep sigh.

He was in trouble.

Asking to massage the blond titillated his senses. He felt how the tanned skin glided to his fingers, and how that moans sounded sweet. Itachi felt the need to be with someone tonight, or he'll break whatever façade he had going on.

This was not the time to make a move, if ever he really would consider it.

The thing is, Itachi also did not consider it. Whatever it was that he was feeling at the moment, he can and would control. Whatever the outcome of his decisions, should he does not control himself, is something unacceptable.

He can't have Naruto. Not until Sasuke gave up on the man.

What he said with Sakura earlier was true. He'd be willing to help Sasuke should he sorted his life out and wants to start over. Whether or not Naruto was part of it was the question.

Swiftly he got up and got dressed in his yukata before he took his phone and left. Naruto was already snoring lightly under covers when he sneaked out. He wanted relief and wanted to get out there fast. He wasn't himself and that was whats messing him up.

He was surprised to see Deidara just near their room, with his hair up like he just got out of the baths as well.

"What're you doing out? You'll catch a cold," Itachi said, slowly walking towards him.

Deidara answered with a sigh and opened their bedroom door with a loud slide. "I know you, you son of a bitch. Get in," he said and Itachi felt relieved. It'd be awkward after all these time to ask the two to comfort him, for it has been a while since he had been with them.

Now that he realized it, he stopped coming to the partners' place when he started enjoying Naruto's company.

"What was that noise around back there?" Sasori asked, offering Itachi a drink.

"Massage," Itachi simply said. It seems he is reverting back to being straightforward and aloof whenever Naruto was not around.

~O~

"Can I ask one thing first?" Sasori asked while Deidara slowly removed Itachi's robe. Said raven sat on the large futon and was not in the mood to lead anyone.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Sasori continued, now situated behind Itachi.

Annoyed, Itachi asked. "What do you mean?"

Deidara, planting soft kisses on Itachi's chest, was moaning low. His husband, on the other hand, let Itachi's body rest on his chest, while he trace his thumb on Itachi's mouth. He was partly sad for the man, and partly feeling sorry for themselves. They wanted him to be happy and they can't give it to him. For Itachi, they were nothing more than some bed-warmers and someone to console his bruised heart. But the man is important to them both. They both can see this was hard for Itachi. What was bothering them - Sasori all the more - was what was Itachi's intention with Naruto.

He can most definitely pursue Naruto and Sasori thought he had a fair chance. Was he trying to be chivalrous and gave Sasuke another chance? Taking care of a flower so he can transfer it to the garden where it'll bloom beautifully?

"How sad," Sasori muttered and said nothing more, when it looked like Itachi doesn't really want to talk about it. Deidara understood, and started moving things in a faster pace.

The soft kisses he planted were now open, wet ones, sucking on Itachi's skin, enough to make a faint mark. Itachi was strict when it comes to things that'll ruin his image, therefore, no kiss-marks allowed. Deidara was feeling pissed; however, since Itachi was musing and brooding like a teenage boy. He can't really know what was going inside the raven's head. He can try to guess, but that's about it.

Itachi is such a complex character that the man even planned years ahead on what kind of move he'll make like everyone around him were pieces of shougi game. Yet this Itachi, a seemingly calm one, was jealous of his brother and could not admit to himself that he was. It irritated Deidara. He was annoyed that this Itachi was not the cool one he knew. Yet felt jealous as well. Naruto can crumble this man, like how Shisui did.

"Your mouth stopped," Itachi lifted Deidara's chin towards him and opted for a kiss. The long haired blond had a pout that Itachi sighed seeing it. "Are we doing this, or?" he jested and Deidara rolled to his side, laying on the futon himself.

"All yours," he said as he lifted his robe, revealing his legs and underwear on. Itachi then accepted the challenged and hovered on top of him, tracing his cold fingers on the pretty blond's neck.

It was during sex when they can see Itachi's raw expression, his usual cold demeanor changes to lust filled ones. His eyes lidded with it, squinted enough so Sasori can see how ready the man was. The redhead then uncapped a bottle of lubricant and poured some on his hand, after which he poured some to Itachi's.

The two assaulted Deidara simultaneously, one tweaking the blond's nipples with cold liquid, while the other teased his entrance, poking in and out of it. Of course, the blond was already hard and needing friction. So he squirmed under Itachi, rubbing his crotch to the said man, while his husband, laying prone besides him, kissed his mouth rigorously, as if stifling his moans.

Itachi then entered one finger in, not moving until Deidara adjusted towards the invader.

Still hovering on top, Deidara decided to whipped out Itachi's semi-erected penis and stroke it to hardness. He did not have to wait that long, for the man's desire was clear on his face, and though Sasori was foreplaying his husband, he can't helped but feel the need as well. Deidara knew what to do, and so while he was working on Itachi's with his hand, his mouth was put to good use, pleasuring Sasori. He was clever enough to suck the air out for better sensation, that Sasori had to throw his head back in pleasure. The warm mouth was tight around him, and seeing how Sasori slowly lost control, Itachi kissed the man's lips deeply, earning him a low moan.

When a few good minutes has passed by, Itachi began to pushed in and out and added another finger, seemingly aware that he did not need to prepare Deidara all that much. The two was prepared all along for the insides were soft, and the traces of the lubricant and water* was leaking out.

Itachi removed his underwear, now totally naked, and took a condom Sasori gave him and wore one. He reminded Deidara to timed his breathing to his. It has been a long time since he slept with someone, and frankly, he thought he wouldn't last that long.

"Ah.. ohhh.." Deidara moaned, a tear rolled out, when Itachi entered rather violently. The raven had a thing for rough sex, though normally he would ask first. It was obvious that he was occupied.

"Was that too rough, baby?" Sasori asked, rubbing his member on Deidara's nipple. The lubricant applied to it before was now warm, and making a weird noise. The protrude part of the blond's nipple, gave Sasori a tingling sensation that his dick very much enjoyed.

"Yeah, ah.. Too rough," Deidara cried out, his hand guiding his husband's so that the redhead can stroke his shaft. Itachi, on the other hand, was lost in sweet pleasure, plunging in and out of Dei. Angling himself, Itachi lifted Deidara's one leg over his shoulder so he can hit the spot where the blond usually liked it. Sure enough, Deidara cried in pleasure, calling Itachi's name and begging his husband to stroke him hardly.

Being pleasured by his two lovers, It didn't took long before Deidara orgasm, understandably.

Itachi pulled out, asking Sasori to changed position and removed his condom for a fresh one. He knelt in-front of Deidara, his prick pretty much twitching - wanting release. Deidara didn't needed to be asked and so he got down on all fours and exposed his hole for Sasori, which the man gladly entered with a grunt and hiss, while Itachi enjoyed thrusting his on the man's warm mouth.

"Hmmm.. Ohh."

"Shit.. So tight,"

"Un."

It was, as always, a good sex with Itachi. Seeing the man lost in his sensation, sweat glistening over his body that was illuminated by the dim light in their room. How the man was rough and gentle alternately, how Itachi sometimes bit the back of the blond's neck, or how he kissed Sasori deeply. How he touched them both.

It was a sad consolation for their genuine affection towards the man. No matter how much they finished big, Itachi still looked like he was not satisfied. It was clear that his body was saying yes. His heart, was elsewhere.

~O~

It was awfully silent that morning, not one was saying a word. The place where all of them had their breakfast looked like it was a place for exam students. Everyone was nervous and not wanting to move. It was Kakashi who was the first one to break his chopsticks and ate heartily. It was weird, seeing him eating stealthily at one corner to hide his face. He was strangely happy that morning for some reason.

One part of the group was Hinata with Sai and Ino. She wore a light pink blouse, matching her white skirt. She always have simple taste in clothes that it fits her perfectly. They can't helped but feel sorry for Kiba, cause the said man deliberately stared at Hinata which she does good ignoring.

Gaara's group had to leave the night before, cause they had to see the newly weds to the airport and have their own short trip as well. So the big crowd last time got smaller.

"What'll you do after this?" Sasori asked Itachi and Naruto and the younger blond shrugged.

"I don't know. Honestly, I want to go home. I'm worried for Choi."

"How 'bout we drop by the market and roam around before we head home?" Itachi asked, checking who was it who sent him an email. After he had a glimpsed of it, Itachi looked at Kakashi for a brief second before he resumed eating, his phone secured on his pants' back pocket.

"After I painstakingly fixed your hair, you better not ruin it, Naruto. Un." Deidara warned, though had a friendly tone to it.

Sasuke and Sakura looked extremely gloomy, with dark bags under their eyes. It was clear Sakura was upset, for she was forking her food and not really eating. Sasuke was openly staring at Itachi that the said man, also had a good time ignoring. If things were a little uncivilized, Sasuke would chopped off Itachi's head by now, that was Naruto thought at least.

Naruto; however, was nervous, for whatever reason, he was weird around Itachi last night. Was he treating him as a candy? A substitute?

Yes. That's probably it. Here he was, stealing glances at Sasuke again. He hated how much his heart never listens to his head. What a poor excuse of being one of the major organ, Naruto thought. He just wanted to go home and prepare himself for the worst. What would his future be? What kind of gossip are they're in for when they come back? What kind of relationship will he have with Itachi now? Would he have to kiss and make out with him out in public, regularly?

The breakfast ended and they soon parted ways. Hinata was asked by Kiba if she'd like to join him for a short drive, with the promise of him taking her home safely. He was rejected, though, rather curtly at that, saying she has a date. This said date was a guy named Toneri; a guy she worked with for a while. True enough, Toneri came for her, all smile and looking really happy to see her. Kiba watched as she hopped inside Toneri's car, -whom Naruto might thought was more attractive than Kiba - waved at him and then rolled away.

"Shit," was all he could mutter, before he kicked his tire, got inside and pushed the pedal that the tires screeched.

"Will he be alright?" Naruto asked, thinking it was Itachi who was besides him, but was surprised by the 'Hn' grunt as a reply.

Sasuke was loading their things inside his car when he stopped to looked at how Kiba was acting. He can't believe they were similar. How unsightly it was to lose your cool and storm out. He can't believe that was the same man who gave him a square beating when he lost his cool.

"Ah. Are you guys going home now?" Naruto, tried his best to make small talks, asked Sakura. She nodded briefly and hopped on the car without another word. She saw Itachi not so far away, after all, and was not ready to face him. It bothered her a lot, that the older Uchiha had her investigated and that he implied other things that made her confused. She didn't even want to look at Sasuke, let alone Naruto.

Sasuke; however, stared at Naruto and took out something in his pocket. A box Naruto knew all so well.

"How? How'd you get that?" Naruto asked, reaching out for it but was caught off guard when Sasuke pulled back.

"I'm keeping this. This is meant for us. Let's talk when we get back," he whispered, sounding like his voice was laced with other intentions. True to his word, he stared at Itachi, openly taunting him.

"Take care on your way home, little brother. Give Sarada a kiss for me," Itachi said. Not at all fazed by Sasuke's silent warnings.

Naruto just froze there, not knowing how to respond. He just let his eyes followed Sasuke's back, from the time he rode his car, to the time they drove off. It was Itachi who escorted him towards theirs and let the young blond be comfortable inside, adjusting his seat for him. He excused himself and said his goodbye towards Sasori and Deidara.

It was funny, Deidara thought, how it seemed like Itachi was saying goodbye for good. Maybe this was the last time they can have him for a selfish reason, and that Itachi can't 'fool around' with them anymore. Deidara felt sad, yet happy that it brought him to tears all of a sudden.

Itachi's feature soften and offered the man a hug, not caring if the Inn's helper can see. He really had to stop doing it with the two. Just how much more does he have to hurt their feelings by convincing himself that the two are fine with a physical relationship. Of course they are not; they're not machines. Just because Itachi felt he had no chance to love again, he forgot what it's like to be compassionate of others' feelings. Somehow, his realization helped him regain that.

"I'll see you both on Monday." He reminded them the business they had and Sasori nodded, placing one arm over Deidara's shoulder.

"Good Luck, Itachi-san. We'll be behind you, a hundred percent." Sasori replied.

Looking back at Naruto and how the younger blond's eyes still trying to follow Sasuke's car, Itachi said, "- there's no need to. It seemed I already have an answer,"

The two had a lot to say about that, but held themselves back. That was not the place for it.

Itachi then moved on and hopped in the car. "You alright?" he asked, while fastening his seat belt.

"No. I'm not okay." Naruto said sadly, running his hand through his hair, staring at his empty ring finger.

"Me too," Itachi almost said that, but kept it all to himself instead.

 

~(For I never knew the art of making love, )

(Though my heart aches with love for you. )

Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by.

A chance that you might love me too.

(love me too)

Oh, you give your hand to me,

And then you say, "Goodbye."

I watched you walk away,

Beside the lucky guy

Oh, you'll never ever know

The one who loved you so.

Well, you don't know me

(you don't love me, you don't know me) ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

*was talking about water enema. though it's primary use was for health reason, it is also used to prepare yourself for anal sex.

 

-the song is "You don't know me by Ray Charles" I urge you guys to listen to how sad it was

 

-a/n; now there's two new chapter that was drafted and i need to sort it out first. sorry this chapter got long, but it was a transition chapter so it'll be clear what was itachi's feelings.

 

a)itachi 'kinda' likes naruto. enough to make him confuse.

 

b) naruto does not like itachi that way. he lust for him, probably?

 

c) what will sasuke do? his POV next chapter.

 

thanks for reading and i'll see you guys next chapter, hopefully next day, yeah?

 

-rhye

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Dai

Ok, I must say that the threesome parts are really hot to me! *_*

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Rhye_Meow

 

CHAPTER TEN: JEALOUS

 

 

 

chapter warnings: depressing/depression, regrets, heartache, in denial, anger, unfulfilled sexual tension, jealousy, unfulfilled romantic tension, drama, family affairs, business affairs, plotting revenge, victim blaming, noncon, OOC, NO character bashing, Not beta read; please forgive the mistakes, Basically – love hurts. *shrugs*

also, please allow characters to have flaws and be irrational. I mean, come on people – Love often makes one stupid. ^^"

 

 

 


~ o ~

I'm jealous of the rain

That falls upon your skin

It's closer than my hands have been

I'm jealous of the rain

I'm jealous of the wind

That ripples through your clothes

It's closer than your shadow

Oh, I'm jealous of the wind, 'cause

I wished you the best of

All this world could give

And I told you when you left me

There's nothing to forgive

But I always thought you'd come back, tell me

All you found was heartbreak and misery

It's hard for me to say,

I'm jealous of the way

You're happy without me

~ o ~

 

Sasuke just finished having diner with his Uncle Madara when he received a call from Sakura. Since they got back from Shikamaru's wedding, Sakura has been weirdly obsessed on picking up a fight with him. From simple things like the way he eats, how he never shuts the bathroom light, or how she always have to remind him to take notice of his posture when picking up Sarada. It was petty and blown out of proportion.

Sasuke knew Sakura was mad at him after all the scene he tried to pulled a few days ago—yet, somehow he felt like she had no valid reason to do so. He even took some time to ask her out for diner so they can have 'the talk'. Being adamant about avoiding it, Sakura refused, saying they're just fine and there was no reason for them to waste one night and leave Sarada alone.

"Yes?" He asked in a cool manner, not minding the noise from the other line. It was obvious that Sarada was upset about something and was loudly crying.

"She hasn't shut up for a while, I was thinking of taking her to the hospital. There might be something wrong with her. Maybe she's in pain,"  obviously worried, Sakura  told Sasuke to come home soon.

Of course, he intended to come home right off the bat, leaving his Uncle behind. Madara, however, insisted that was just normal for children which irritated Sasuke. Madara was showing his true colors gradually, and Sasuke felt he was being pushed into corner every time his Uncle talk about business and nothing else.

He had an idea from what he saw with Itachi that Madara could not be trusted—after all, his brother was directly under his Uncle's care way back. He was also the reason why Itachi never knew Shisui sired their child before it's too late. 'It was a distraction for Itachi,' Madara said and Sasuke felt Itachi's hatred towards the man ever since.

Later on, Sasuke thought it was this emotion that pulled Itachi away from his Uncle, even to the point that it looked like revenge. Itachi being in-charge of their businesses was a retaliation his brother did, so Madara would not partake in any of it.

This convinced Sasuke that it was personal between the two and though his sympathy was with Itachi, he could not let these matters affect his working relationship with the said two. However, his Uncle played his emotions well.

Naruto.

Sasuke realized their conversations always have something to do with Naruto, albeit subtle. He knew this was some sort of trap for him, yet he can't help with being drawn to his Uncle's pace. Part of him wanted to keep Naruto safe, and part of him wanted to keep Naruto to himself.

"By the way, have you seen the news?" Madara asked while Sasuke was getting ready to leave.

"Which one?" Sasuke answered as he grabbed his coat that was hung behind his chair.

Madara, swirling his wine cup, took a sip. "It seems Itachi was serious about that Naruto guy – he was seen buying a ring last night and was surrounded with paparazzi soon after."

Sasuke was visibly perturbed by the remark. He opened his mouth and closed it, his hand absentmindedly stroked the rings attached to necklace.

Of course Madara saw it and squinted his eyes towards the shiny things. He took a sip once again, and hummed.

"It has nothing to do with me, they're both adults and I'm married," he answered and  turned around, with the intention to leave the private room and his Uncle behind.

"Ah, yes. About your wife… shall I tell you something about her?" Madara pressed on. Adamant about disturbing Sasuke's peace.

"What about?" Sasuke asked, already angry at the man.

"Him and Itachi met the other day, you know? The night of that wedding you all attended."

"What?" Sasuke turned back towards their table and asked. He might punch his Uncle if the man wasn't careful with what he's saying.

"Sasuke, you… Are you sure Itachi didn't had his eyes towards Naruto way before? After all, Naruto was kinda Itachi's taste - you know the cheerful kind. Isn't it rather convenient that Itachi was the first person to help Naruto? You're not an amateur, Sasuke. You know how to be careful with people you're sleeping with. Haruno Sakura is a scientist – a medical student. Her getting pregnant 'accidentally' is highly unlikely," Madara had a mocking look all over his face while he quoted with his fingers the word 'accidentally'.

"I have no time for this! I have to go. My child needs me," Sasuke left there and then. Though he fumbled opening the door that Madara had to chuckle. He could take his time, Madara said to himself. He wasn't in a hurry.

.

When Sasuke went home half an hour later, he saw his parents fawning over Sarada. She was still fuzzy, but not crying loudly like how he heard on the phone call.

"Good evening. How come you guys are here?" he asked as he removed his jacket and gave Sakura a kiss like he used to everyday, like some kind of routine.

"Ah. Sakura asked us to help, since this one's been too difficult." Mikoto answered.

"Anyway, you… it's late, isn't it? Talking to your Uncle?" Fugaku asked.

"Hn, like that."

Sasuke sat and asked for a cup of coffee, looking at his busy-body family. He just stared at them blankly that Sakura felt uncomfortable. Everyday, Sasuke looked distant than ever. Not to mention his deteriorating health, loosing weight as a show for it.

Now Sakura knew this was tell-tale sign that Sasuke was experiencing Depression and knew it was better to ask her husband to seek professional help, though how could she tell him that?

She knew the cause and it would be digging a grave to open it up.

"Son, aren't you thinner than the last time I saw you? Are you overworking yourself?" Mikoto asked while she looked back and forth to the husband and wife in front of her. She was, as always, oblivious of Sasuke's feelings that it was somehow funny for Sasuke. The fact that she needed to ask means she already swept Sasuke's feelings towards a certain blond under the rug.

"Maybe," Sasuke answered noncommittal and drank his coffee in silence.

"Sasuke, the project your Uncle told me about-

"Father," Sasuke interjected, "-I'm really tired of talking about business for tonight. Can we discuss this some other time?"

Fugaku was stunned. This was the first time Sasuke interrupted him.

"Of course," he just said, looking at his son. Even him could tell there was something wrong with Sasuke. He was listless and looking too tired to even bother joining their conversation. No. Sasuke was too tired to even look at them.

"Would you like to have a bath, darling? You'll feel better, I bet." Sakura asked and not another breath, Sasuke stood up and left without excusing himself. He headed to their bath en suite and left his family shocked of his behavior.

"I'm sorry. Sasuke's been in tremendous pressure at work, that's why he's been like this lately." Sakura apologized.

"Ah… You know, maybe you guys need a honeymoon! I know! I can arrange a vacation for you guys and we'll take care of little Sarada for you." Mikoto said excitedly. She was certain that her son just needed a change of scenery.

Sakura laughed awkwardly, "Thank you, Mother. I'll ask if he can take some time off work."

"Anyway, it's getting late, so we'll be going now." Mikoto said her goodbyes to the mother and child and left, tagging her quiet husband along.

Sakura dreaded to retire to their bedroom since she knew Sasuke would just pretend he's busy and maybe sleep in his study again. She knew that it was partly her fault for being irascible of late.

Even so, the symptoms Sasuke was manifesting kept getting worse over time.

"Sasuke?" The said man was naked and was drying his hair in front of their mirror. Sakura still carried Sarada on her arms, as the baby was not ready to sleep just yet.

"Hn." He did not mind that Sakura can see him naked like it wasn't supposed to be a big deal. But it is a big deal between them, Sakura thought.

They haven't had sex in a while and only does it whenever Sakura asked. Of course this put a dent on Sakura's pride as well, but kept her mouth shut. She was the one who said she can wait and would like to live by her words.

"Get dress. You'll catch a cold," she said.

Sasuke just slipped on a white, cotton t-shirt and sweat pants. He brushed his hair and took his time, not really caring about the woman staring at him.

Like always, moving was like a routine for him. Things do not interest him even a bit.

Sakura was busy cooing the crying child, feeding her but the baby still refused. The doctor said it was just normal for her since she switch milk formula, but Sakura still worry.

"Let me," Sasuke asked and took the baby from her. No matter how uninterested Sasuke was towards everything, he still loves Sarada. Almost instantly, Sarada settled down and Sasuke planted a soft kiss on her head. He admitted he miss her.

"Ah, ah. She just needs her Dad, huh?" Sakura commented while she had a big yawn. She was extremely tired taking care of the fuzzy baby. Just last week, Sarada had teething fever added to the fact that she had her shots. It was really hard to carry her all day for the said child doesn't want anyone to hold her for long, except her Mom and Dad.

"Go ahead and sleep," Sasuke said as he cooed his child safely on in his arms.

"Okay. Good night you two," Sakura said as she slipped in to her negligee and turned in. Sasuke sat by at the foot of their bed and rubbed Sarada's back, rocking the child steady while he looked at his wife.

"Is there something wrong?" Sakura asked. Sasuke never stares at her for long. It unnerved her.

"Can I asked what did you and Itachi talked about the other day?" Sasuke asked. He choose his words carefully so she could not deny. He was curious and it was bothering him a lot. He can't help but feel that way. No matter how much he denied and projected himself as cold and uncaring, Sasuke is a very emotional person. People's actions and words around him affected him so.

Sasuke was expecting a rebuttal from Sakura, maybe even a denial. What he got; however, surprised him. Sakura sat straight up, visibly pale. "Why? What did Itachi said?" She asked back.

Sasuke was mad and was about to ask again, but Sarada cried. That had calmed Sasuke once again and thought things through.

"Nothing. Someone just saw you and I was just curious. It was nothing, right? Was Itachi cheering you up or something?"

"Ah.. ye-yeah. That's right. I was pretty upset, so..." Sakura said, one hand hugging herself while her eyes were downcast.

"Hn," Sasuke replied.

"I should sleep, good night."

"Okay," It seems there was some merit in hearing Madara out, Sasuke thought.

.

.

It was Monday and as usual, the Uchiha brothers were busy with their jobs. As soon as Itachi came, one of his secretaries gave him his usual brand of caffeine and started with his pending jobs. Impeccable as always, Itachi finished what he needed to do with time to spare before lunch.

There was an ongoing private joke around his staff that Itachi has 'secret people' surrounding him once his office door closed, helping him with his tremendous amount of paper works. It was inhuman how he does his work flawlessly that the said Chief had the time to roam around and inspect different departments whenever he fancied.

That kept everyone in checked, especially but not limited to Sasuke's staffers.

"Good morning, Sir." Shikamaru bowed after he checked his watch to see if the greeting was time appropriate.

"How's everything?" Itachi asked, his long line of secretaries and assistants tagging along.

"Fine. I wish I had extended my vacation, to be honest. My wife was pouting about it."

Shikamaru was one of the employees who openly sleeps regardless if the boss was watching and slacked off whenever he had the chance. The reason why he wasn't fired yet was because he does his job well. Itachi didn't mind staffs slacking off, as long as they'd done what they should. He wasn't a firm believer of working oneself to the bone for it does not benefit any company. Happy employees are good employees.

It wasn't the same with Sasuke; however. He hated idle chatters and people were tense around him. Different method of leadership, but effective nonetheless.

"What brought you here, Sir?" Shikamaru asked bluntly.

"I need you to check something for me," Itachi handed a folder that was thick enough for Shikamaru to say 'how bothersome' outloud.

The lazy man looked inside the folder and scanned through it fast. He looked at Itachi and the boss deadpanned, "Possible?"

"Well—do I have a choice?"

"None whatsoever."

"Then, consider this done." Shikamaru stretched his arms and cracked his neck before resuming back to work.

Kiba was just right next to Shikamaru that time, on the phone with someone as he typed away with his computer. He gave Itachi a curt nod and continued on. Kiba knew it was best not to ask about the things the Chief wanted Shikamaru working on. It was not good to pry on the big boss, even if Sasuke's a friend. Kiba has an instinct of an animal and he knew never to get in the way of Itachi. There was a certain air of danger around the man, like an Alpha dog between territorial dispute.

"Your Boss?" Itachi asked Karin who just hung up the phone. She adjusted her glasses and asked a moment, making Itachi wait outside Sasuke's office.

"Come in," Karin opened the door as she had informed Sasuke about the visit.

"There's no need for drinks," Itachi reminded Karin and the provocatively dressed secretary nodded.

"Good morning, Sasuke."

"Hn, 'morning. What brings you 'ere?" Sasuke was swamped with work, but decided to meet his brother rather than turn him away. It was just one of those things Itachi did that annoyed him, but accepted later on.

Itachi helped himself inside, sitting on the posh couch Sasuke had for guests. His assistants waited outside.

"What is it?" Sasuke asked again, not looking at his brother.

"I heard you went to inspect the XX Port last week. Care to explain what was going on?"

Sasuke paused and looked at his brother. He swirled his chair to face the man and laced his fingers on top of his grandiose desk.

"It's our company, isn't it? I should show myself there from time to time."

"Yes. That maybe so, but why with Madara specifically?"

"What's up with you and Uncle? He is a board member, you know? He can come with me as a companion whenever he pleased." Sasuke answered rather annoyed and tried his best to be nonchalant about it.

"Hn. Sure he didn't asked you to come with him?" Itachi gauged Sasuke's expression and thought the man hasn't changed. He was still easy to figure out.

"Don't treat me like a child; I know what I'm doing. Now if you'll excuse me I hav-"

"You have to be careful, Sasuke," Itachi interjected. "Madara isn't someone who does things without reasons behind it."

"Ha! Like you're the one to talk!" Sasuke scoffed.

"Excuse me?"

"Aren't you the same, Itachi? When have you done things without reasons?"

Itachi tilted his head. The agitation that was seeping out of Sasuke baffled him. He thought Sasuke was getting irrationally angry, "And why would you say so? What brought this on?"

Sasuke laughed a bit and collected himself, "I'm saying you're the same. Behind the gentleman façade, you just pick everyone apart and take whatever you want. At least Madara's greed is something obvious, while yours hide behind that stone-face. I'm sick of it!"

Itachi looked at Sasuke, his face expressionless and almost like staring blankly at Sasuke. It unnerved the younger Uchiha. That face was something he often see Itachi made on their ancestral home. The one where Itachi studied everyone carefully.

"Sasuke… my foolish brother. Is this the best you can do?"

"What the fuck do you mean by that?" Sasuke slammed his hand on table and Kisame immediately opened the door.

"We're fine," Itachi instructed and the other closed the door after noting that Itachi could handle the problem on his own.

Itachi then turned his attention back to his brother who cannot control his emotions and wore it openly around his sleeves.

Itachi stood up and moved closer to Sasuke, his eyes had a tinged of anger. He had an icy feel around him, something Sasuke saw long time ago. A young Itachi who had the pressure carried on his shoulder, walking alone through their home while he carried a book of their clan's history.

That time his tender and caring brother slowly changed into a cold and distant one. Something that happened between them as time progressed.

"You, who do not know what kind of path to take, dyed with colors from everyone else, losing things you held dear and throwing pieces of your life—I am asking you if this is the best thing you can do?"

"I.. I always fucking hate this about you, Itachi! Who do you think you are?"

Itachi was close enough to look down on Sasuke and Sasuke admittedly got scared to even stand. Sasuke was not weak – not at all. Though this reaction from the 'his understanding Itachi 'caught him off guard.

"I am what you perceived me, Sasuke. None of my 'truth' matters to different eyes. You are looking at me with scorn—I can feel it. Therefore, I am someone you need to overcome, yes?"

Sasuke finger-combed his hair and loosened his tie. It was too early for Itachi's egotistical teachings, he thought.

"Let me you ask you then – Did you really planned on getting Naruto? Yeah, Yeah!" Sasuke waved his hands in the air dismissively, "do not mix your private life with work! I know..."

Itachi looked at Sasuke again, and understood what it meant. "You are such a child, Sasuke. You are weak. Why are you so weak?" Itachi turned his back on Sasuke, leaving the man aggravated and so was he.

He did not expect Madara moving in fast.

After they walked back to their own office, Itachi called Neji Hyuga. "Start the plan."

 

~o~

I'm jealous of the nights

That I don't spend with you

I'm wondering who you lay next to

Oh, I'm jealous of the nights

I'm jealous of the love

Love that wasn't here

Gone for someone else to share

Oh, I'm jealous of the love, 'cause

I wished you the best of

All this world could give

And I told you when you left me

There's nothing to forgive

But I always thought you'd come back, tell me

All you found was heartbreak and misery

It's hard for me to say,

I'm jealous of the way

You're happy without me

~o~

 

 

'Why are you so weak?'

The question rang in Sasuke's mind all the time. He hated how his brother thought little of him. He hated how he was discerned as someone who hasn't figure out his life. He hated how it seemed like Madara was right.

He wanted to believe Itachi and Naruto, but he does not know what was the truth. Did Itachi really betrayed him? What was the thing between Sakura and Itachi that they had to secretly meet?

Did they plan to drive Naruto and him? Sasuke wondered.

It was dead of the night, and his phone had several miscalls all from home. He had promised Sakura that he'll be back in time for supper, but got so consumed by many things that day.

In fact, he did not wished to come home at all. If Sakura starts to pick a fight with him again, who knows what he would've said.

Looking at his office window, Sasuke contemplated on what to do. The time they went to the port, Sasuke noticed how Madara had met with the one in-charge of the transaction along with Itachi's trusted secretary, Kisame.

He thought nothing of it, for it was normal for Kisame to be wherever as a representative of Itachi. What bugged him was that Madara was adamant in speaking with Kisame privately.

It would be too suspicious for Madara to inspect that place without him, that much Sasuke knew. They were originally opposed to the idea of merging with the Hyugas for the said project to begin with.

Looking closely, Madara's personal businesses uses Freight as well, and would benefit him if he use the ones they already own—so why not do so in the first place? Why the need for secrecy and doing things with his backing?

Sasuke promised himself to see to the bottom of it; but first, he needed to sort things out between him, his brother, and Sakura. Madara knew things he does not, though he wasn't so keen on talking about his personal life with his Uncle.

He was about to get fresh coffee from across their office when he saw his brother's office door still open. His staff already went home, Sasuke knew, cause he saw them earlier leaving the floor.

Curious, Sasuke asked the floor guard and the man confirmed Itachi was still around, though he left without his jacket, probably out to buy something.

Sasuke was about to close his brother's door when he heard someone coughing.

Startled, he went inside to confirm it was someone familiar to him, and true enough, it was Naruto who was laid down on Itachi's office couch. Itachi's jacket was wrapped as blanket while Naruto continued to cough.

"Are you okay?" Sasuke asked. His heart leapt in place as he walked swiftly towards the man. As expected, Naruto was burning with fever from the throaty, dry cough he made.

"Why aren't you home?" Sasuke asked him as he wiped the man's sweat from the forehead with his handkerchief.

"...hurts," Naruto grunted, looking so out of it that his eyes were glassy. Naruto immediately slept again right after, proving he really wasn't too good.

Sasuke felt his heavy chest swelling up. His Naruto is in front of him, in pain and needy. "Where's Itachi?" He asked once more, and tried to phone his brother, but Naruto grabbed his hand.

"Naruto? I'm just calling Itachi..." Sasuke said softly, kneeling in front of Naruto that his face was near the blond - near enough to have felt the man's hot breath on his skin. Heard clearly how Naruto panted on his parted mouth. Sasuke gulped.

His romantic feelings for the man aside, he couldn't help but admit that the 'new' Naruto was very much to his liking. He had always been a fan of Naruto's cerulean eyes that somehow turns to Azure to certain summer days.

Funny, now he thought those whisker scars across Naruto's cheeks - that something he always perceived as a skin flaw - started to look really beautiful on Naruto.

"How stupid," Sasuke said to himself, only realizing how much he regretted not taking a lot of pictures with the said man and how he scoffed whenever Naruto took one. He just assumed they'd still be together through the years.

Sasuke soften his eyes and leaned down on the man. His thumb gently stroked Naruto's skin that he missed so much. He intended to kiss the man lightly so he won't disturb his rest. Knowing Itachi, his brother was probably out to get something for Naruto so he can at least breathe easily.

However, his eyes caught a faint tint of skin blemish around the man's neck.

Sasuke saw red, immediately scanning for the rest and saw multiple ones.

"How dare," he said through his gritted teeth and sunk his teeth onto the man's clavicle. He bit with force that actually made the blond bled.

"Ha-" Naruto's raspy moans made Sasuke snapped. The raven threw the jacket on top of Naruto on the floor and ripped the blond's shirt open. He hovered on top of the man, tracing the kiss marks on him with hate. He wanted them gone, he wanted them to disappear. How could Itachi do this to him? How could he take Naruto?

He kissed the man, forcefully opening Naruto's mouth with his tongue. It was hot; he felt the man's heat even through their clothes. He even moaned from it, feeling a bit guilty for doing this to a helpless Naruto.

What could he do when his rationality was already thrown off the window? Sasuke definitely loves Naruto. No matter how many times he tried to move forward, he could never leave the life he had with Naruto.

He had a lot of regrets and breathing everyday with such feelings became unbearable. Feeling so suffocated to mundane things like keeping up appearances, having dinner with his parents and family, talking about how perfect they look.

Sasuke continued to kiss Naruto, his arm hugged the blond while the other supported his weight.

"Wake up, Naruto. Tell me you love me once more! Wake up!" Sasuke planted desperate kisses on the man's neck.

"..Hgn,"

"Baby..." Sasuke whispered, hugging Naruto tighter.

He was stupid, Sasuke admitted. Oh the things he would give up just to have him back.

"Ta.. Tachi.. I.. Feel.. sick.."

Like cold water damped all over Sasuke, he released Naruto in an instant.

Sasuke picked up and jacket on the floor and covered Naruto rather boorishly and walked away, slamming the door behind him.

He went to his office and got his things before heading towards the car park.

"Why?" Sasuke asked himself as he leaned his head on the steering wheel. How could he fix this mess? How can he take Naruto back to Itachi?

"Fuck!"

Storming off, Sasuke drove like a mad man and went home.

.

He was ready to pack things when Sakura asked what he was doing.

"I need time to think things through, Sakura. My lawyer would contact you," he said.

"Why? What's wrong?" Sakura asked, worried evident in her eyes. Wondering if Itachi said anything to her husband. Does Sasuke intend to divorce her?

"'What's wrong?' Are you seriously asking me that? What the fuck is right, Sakura? Look at us!" Sasuke shouted and tossed his shirts on the floor. It was obvious that he was raging.

"Sasuke! Don't shout, Sarada isn't feeling well." Sakura pleaded and shut their bedroom door, embarrassed that they were seen by the maid who was turning Sarada for the night in the nursery.

"Sarada! Sarada! I don't want to have her!" Sasuke said, too agitated to be reasonable. He clenched his chest, in too much pain.

Sakura slapped Sasuke's face that the shock temporary calmed the man.

"Take what you said back!" Sakura hissed.

"I'm sorry." Sasuke sighed a long suffering one, "I didn't mean to say that about Sarada. I love her, you know that.

"But really, Sakura, I can't do this anymore. I just want Naruto.." Sasuke said, his face buried on his hands while he sat on the edge of their bed.

"Why, Sasuke? What does Naruto have that I don't? It's been a year! You and I were doing great, weren't we? We had Sarada and took care of her, the both of us! Why does Naruto..." Sakura broke down and cried, sinking on the floor as she looked at her mess-of-a-husband.

Sasuke looked at their ceiling and sighed once more as he ran a palm on his face, "Tonight I saw Naruto again, and I realized how empty my life has been without him. I don't get angry, I don't get happy, things doesn't simple interest me. Nothing does.

"You know, Sakura… I've been with Naruto for a long time that I forgot how important he is to me. He's just there when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I forgot the feelings I had for him, as if the romance simply diminished over time." Sasuke started the 'talk' he wanted to tell Sakura long before, but couldn't. He was too afraid to hurt her during her pregnancy and he was too much of a coward to lose his family's backing.

"I cheated, looking for that thrill I had with Naruto. My love for him simply faded in time, or so I thought. But, the time that we were apart, Naruto moving forward while I don't… I feel cheated. I feel like I'm being stabbed. I don't like this, Sakura. I don't like how he is happy, while I'm not. I'm not happy, oh God."

Sakura cried and cried – they both did.

"You can't do this to me," Sakura gasped.

"I can't, Sakura. I'm in too much pain. I'm going crazy."

"You were fine a while ago. You were fine before with me, so why now?" She asked. She was confused about what has happened.

"I..." Sasuke paused long and hard and stared at the floor.

"In my heart, I thought Naruto is still 'mine'. That I still have reigns over his feelings and that in time, we can still work things out. I was in denial. Yes, that's probably it." Sasuke cackled and Sakura felt the breakdown from the man.

"Then one day, the Naruto… my Naruto just slipped away from my fingers," he stared at his pale fingers, tears spilling out "and I can't have him. It dawned me, 'ah. So we're really over. I really can't have him back. It doesn't matter how much he loves me. He's not coming back.'"

Sakura felt the pain. She saw his husband's face contorted in pain as his mouth quivered. The proud and stoic man she knew was a different person when it comes to Naruto.

"I won't grant you divorce, Sasuke. I just won't, huuu," Sakura cried and stormed out the door.

 

~o~

As I sink in the sand

Watch you slip through my hands

Oh, as I die here another day

'Cause all I do is cry behind this smile

~o~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:
a/n; song is jealous by labrinth

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 11: Fall to Pieces

 

 

Chapter warning: drama, jealousy, unfulfilled romantic tension, mpreg issues, pining, conceit, swearing, misunderstandings, unbetaed; it was checked, but please forgive mistakes if any. slow-burn, there's a bit of progress towards them, but please let the story progress itself.

Enjoy!

 


 

 

~O~

I looked away

Then I look back at you

You try to say

The things that you can't undo

If I had my way

I'd never get over you

Today's the day

I pray that we make it through

Make it through the fall

Make it through it all

 

And I don't wanna fall to pieces

I just want to sit and stare at you

I don't want to talk about it

And I don't want a conversation

I just want to cry in front of you

I don't want to talk about it

Cuz I'm in Love With you

~O~

 

Good thing it was right after his meeting when Itachi received a phone call from Naruto. Seeing his roommate wasn't the type to make one, Itachi immediately picked it up. People were starting to leave the Conference Room anyway.

"What did you say?" Startled, Itachi raised his voice and everyone looked at his direction. His secretaries seemed concerned too; Itachi was known to be stoic after all.

"You're going to have to pay for child support!" Naruto was cheerful on the other line.

"A 'child' what?" Itachi didn't know why, but his heart leaped out of his chest upon hearing Naruto said those words. Did Naruto somehow lost it? Did he imagined having a child with Itachi? It doesn't make sense, so why would Naruto say so. 'Unless he was… wait, who's the father?' Itachi mused. That day when he saw the sick Naruto got molested by Sasuke, did his brother really? Itachi panicked inside, regardless of how calm he looked on the outside.

"The neighbor's dog – you know that pretty white and brown Husky – she gave birth today. It's Choi's." Naruto sounded to happy on the other line that Itachi, despite the fact that he was misled, started to smile too.

"I see. That's good news. Are we going to buy things for the babies?" Itachi swirled his seat to the right and faced the confused Kisame. His trusted assistant wanted to ask questions about this 'child' and 'babies' since everyone stopped what they were doing and eavesdropped, but then again, Itachi was so fond of Naruto these few months; it was no surprise if he actually start a family with the young man, Kisame thought.

"Totally! You should see them. Ah! So cute. I kinda want one again. I bet it's fun raising a puppy."

"Hn. I don't mind. We can have many if that's what you want."

Itachi was serious. He grew up with animals that were raised in their family home. They had lots of cats around their mansions and dogs—though most served as guards—playing with them. His house was big enough for a few pets. Now that he'd seen how Naruto was such a responsible pet parent, he wouldn't mind having a playmate for the rambunctious Choi.

"Ah, but, the puppies 're already promised to others, so I'm not sure about this; let's check first? For now Choi's girlfriend needs some Vitamins and I promised them I'd take care of it. When are you free?"

By now those people that surrounded Itachi had the tact to pretend to do something else, but still lingered around the room. Most of the older Executive bid their farewells and resumed to their posts, though interested on what was happening. It was rare for their Chief to have such a lighthearted conversation with someone—and not only that, he also took a personal call in front of everyone. It must be raining fire outside.

"My schedule for this afternoon?" Itachi asked Kisame that was waiting for instructions. They were about to head out for lunch with some business associates. So the big guy was kinda wondering when the good time to interrupt.

"Lunch with the YX Construction firm Executives, Sir. Around two in the afternoon, you're supposed to head back and have tea with your Mother." Kisame answered without checking his list. He memorized early on.

"Cancel the tea. Tell her something came up. Naruto, you still there?" Itachi addressed the last bit to Naruto.

"Yep."

"How 'bout we meet around two this afternoon. Where should I pick you up?" Itachi remembered Naruto might still be in class that time.

"Hm. I can make it around 2:15. My class ends at two and the walk is a bit… Can you pick me up at the campus' West Gate?"

"Right. 2:15, west gate. See you then."

Itachi stood up and walked out of the room as if nothing happened, leaving those who were listening at lost on what to do.

To begin with, was it true that their Boss got engaged recently? How sad, the females that admired him felt so.

.

.

"Ya' heard about that news earlier?" Kiba opened Sasuke's office door without even knocking

"What?" Annoyed, Sasuke resumed what he was doing and typed away on his computer. Kiba has been somewhat close to him, and the man acted like a gossipy Aunt was good in a sense; Sasuke heard a lot of rumor from Kiba especially about Itachi. So even though he hated the 'too close for comfort' type of approach Kiba does, he learned to get used to it.

"Know the meeting with Itachi's execs? Yeah... He took a phone call right after and was talkin' 'bout stuff like babies and child and canceling tea with your mother," Kiba paused for a bit. as if gauging Sasuke's expression. "Looks like he prioritized picking this person up and buying things for the 'babies'. Dunno why plural though. Are they having twins or?"

Kiba snickered on the outside, but was seriously worried about Sasuke, so making light of the issue was all he could do for the man. A few days ago, Sakura actually called most of their friends—him included—to asked if Sasuke was crashing at their place, or do they know where Sasuke went. Though Sasuke still came to work like always, he never told anyone where he was staying. Good thing Sakura was reasonable enough not to let their personal life get in the way with career, so she didn't interrupt the man during work hours.

Kiba knew—like most of them who often saw Sakura waiting outside the building after office hours—that Sasuke was actually thinking, if not already in the process, of divorcing Sakura. He was certain that the reason was Naruto.

The same person that 'might' be having Itachi's child.

"How?" Sasuke asked.

"'Scuse me? What do you mean 'how'?" Kiba answered back.

"How is this possible? Is Naruto really having a child with Itachi? Are you fucking serious right now?" Sasuke looked so stressed that he aged a lot, Kiba thought when he had a clear view of Sasuke's paler-than-usual face.

"Uhm." Kiba scratched his cheek. "Well, I don't know 'bout that, I just said what I heard. Itachi and whoever he was talking to was discussing about baby supplies and all. Hey, man, you a'ight?" Kiba reached out to touch Sasuke's shoulder but he was swatted.

"Not possible! No fucking way! Naruto didn't want to have a child!" Sasuke shook his head and laughed. He was having a real hard time processing all of these. Of course he was sure it was Naruto. Itachi was real hooked on what was supposed to be his right now. There was no one else seeing his blond other than Itachi.

"He's mine. Are they serious? What the hell..." Sasuke muttered.

"Dude... You've gone off the deep end." Kiba felt so sorry for Sasuke. True, they were in the same situation since he was also dumped by Hinata, but at least Hinata – whenever convenient for her – actually answered his call. She also greets him nicely, and was willing to have a cup of tea with Kiba once in a while. In a sense, he still have a spark of hope, even though it was obvious that Hinata was treated better by her new boyfriend. Sasuke on the other hand is married with child and the one he loves started a new life without him, not even mailing each other. No wonder the man lost it.

"Where are they meeting?" Sasuke asked. If Kiba didn't know better, he'd think Sasuke might cry.

"Uh. Lemme' think… I know 'west gate' around 2pm, but I don't know where's that West Gate at."

"It's the University."

Kiba sighed and gave up trying to reason out to Sasuke. Deep down, he wanted Sasuke to win. Learning from his mistakes, Kiba was sure that Sasuke would want to reconnect with his former lover. "Don't do anything rash, okay?" He just wish Sasuke does things differently. It was unfair for Sakura too, after all.

Sasuke just proceeded to give instructions to his secretary and left Kiba behind.

.

.

Sasuke waltzed inside the campus, standing out in the sea of crowd. He came at lunch time and most of the students have free time. Of course, having attended the same school, Sasuke was quite known, especially after the girls and some guys have nothing better to do but talk about Sasuke's and Naruto's former relationship.

"Uchiha-senpai!" One girl greeted Sasuke. As he remembered, that girl was one of 'those people' he played with during his stay.

"You know where Naruto is?" He didn't want to waste time catching up. He has no interest in other people.

"Che! What's with that? I thought you guys broke up?" She pouted. She knew who Sakura is and she knew what kind of relationship the two has. Sakura was also the same as she – someone from Science Department. Though Sakura stopped coming to school after she got pregnant.

"Sasuke?" A familiar voice stopped Sasuke from blowing a fuse and start yelling at the girl in front of him.

"Iruka-sensei. Good that you're here. Have you seen Naruto? It's kinda urgent." Sasuke left the girl that was begging Sasuke to come stay and went to Iruka's side. Sasuke was pale, breathing fast and sweaty. Iruka could sense that indeed, it was urgent.

"He's actually out on errand for me. I asked him to buy us lunch. Does he know you're here?" Iruka asked as he guided Sasuke back to his office.

"No. I don't know how to contact him." Sasuke took a seat and crossed his fingers on top of his lap after. Iruka served the man tea and waited for Sasuke to open up. He doesn't want to push things with the man. Sasuke was rather sensitive, Iruka thought.

"I heard some news about Naruto and my brother that I'd like to confirm." Sasuke said and he unfastened his tie. It was suffocating to wear suits even though the day was cold.

"So? Are you saying you really haven't moved past what has happened between you and Naruto?" Irked, Iruka showed his emotions through his piercing words. He saw how Naruto got broken and battered emotionally. There was no way he'd let Sasuke do the same thing again, now that Naruto finally started to smile and laugh again.

"I… I've always regretted it. Ending what we had just like that. But Iruka-sensei… there's no one I love most than Naruto. I'm filled with regret—anger even—that I threw what I had with him in the first place."

"You're surprisingly honest, Sasuke-kun." Kakashi was at the door when he knocked and entered without permission. Though he was teaching at a different building and different faculties, Kakashi always come to his spouse's office often during breaks.

"Isn't that plain selfishness?" Iruka asked, ignoring Kakashi that was rummaging through his desk. Kakashi was looking for cigarettes Iruka confiscated earlier.

It was obvious that Sasuke do not understand what Iruka said so Iruka further explained.

"See, Sasuke… When you left Naruto, he was broken. He could not eat, sleep – he's not even functioning as human. There were times where he sat in one position and stayed there for hours. Itachi, your brother, at one time had to drag Naruto to the bathroom and scrubbed Naruto from head to toe. When we visited him, Naruto looked so devoid of life. It was like he died without you.

"But he persevered. He did not call you and disrupt your life. He knew what he was doing was hurting himself, to the point of madness. Even so, he placed your life first. You're married; you have a child and there was no place for him in the middle." Iruka sighed and softened his face. He knew Sasuke was having a hard time too, and because he was closer to Naruto, he did not went out of his way to ask how Sasuke was. That was biased of him, Iruka thought so.

"Naruto, finally, after what feels like eternity, is smiling again. Laughing in the hallways. Hanging out with other students, and even making new friends. Are you here to add another scar again?" Iruka asked, leveling his eye towards Sasuke that looked like he was in a world of hurt.

"I just want to talk to him, Iruka-sensei. We've been together ever since I can remember and now he's out of my life. I did not have the same time to grief like him because I have Sarada. Like him, I was also in hell. The difference was that, I'm not even allowed to lose myself."

"And whose fault is that?" Kakashi asked. Finally settling on sucking a lollipop candy. Iruka was being a spartan in forcing him to quit smoking.

"Mine." Sasuke answered.

"Well, it's good thing that you know. But, don't you think we have to let them talk this out? Now that he's here, might as well have them settle things once and for all." Kakashi addressed the last one to Iruka.

"Hmph. As long as you promise not to cause Naruto harm again, then you can use this room to talk things out. Do you promise?" Iruka asked Sasuke.

"Uhn," the man nodded in response.

It was after when the two Professors left that Sasuke felt nervous. He went over his head and came without thinking, but what should he say to Naruto? The last time he saw the man, he took advantage of him and ended up assaulting him during his time of vulnerability. Now that the issues he wanted to talk about were serious, how will he proceed?

"Sasuke?" Naruto opened the door and was so shock that he double-take and looked left and right, wondering if he made a mistake which room he entered.

"Hi. Can we talk for a while?" Sasuke said. He couldn't help but stare at Naruto.

Was the man ever this handsome? Sasuke wondered. Clean undercut hair, pierced ear with small and subtle studded earring, clean, white T-shirt under a powder blue, single-breasted blazer; paired with jeans, white wristwatch and sneakers. From Sasuke's perspective, even Naruto's style improved tremendously, compared to his usual hoodies and jeans ensemble.

"Uhm. Sure? Where's Iruka-sensei though? I brought our lunch?" Naruto looked everywhere but Sasuke. He was unprepared for this moment. Even though the Uchiha looked tired, him in dark, sharp suit was really wonderful. Naruto had to admit that those Uchiha brothers' looked good in formal and business attire.

"He's not here. I asked permission to use this room to talk to you. Sit?"

Naruto settled the plastic bags on top of Iruka's desk and sat across Sasuke. He was nervous for understandable reasons so he stared at the floor and waited for Sasuke to speak.

"How are you? I heard you had allergies last time and was sent to the hospital. Are you okay now? You looked more handsome today than you were back at wedding, by the way." Sasuke said. It was unusual of him to comment on Naruto's looks so the blond can't help but be shocked—maybe even pleasantly surprise—and had blush on his face.

"Thank you. It was a reaction to an insect bite. I'm well now. How about you?" Naruto answered.

"Even your response became… I don't know. Your manners became perfect as well." Sasuke said, almos lovingly.

"Did you came here to comment how much I've changed, or?" Naruto changed the topic. He couldn't handle seeing Sasuke that long, all alone in one room, yet.

"No." Sasuke shook his head and stared at Naruto. He deep-breathed and got on with it. "Are you having Itachi's child?"

Naruto's eyes widened. He opened his mouth and closed it again. 'What kind of question was that?' he wondered.

"I don't care, Naruto. It doesn't matter to me. I'll take responsibility for that kid. Please, let's start over. I still love you and I know you feel the same way. Now that we changed and matured over the past few months, we can-"

"-Let me interrupt you there, Sasuke." Naruto interjected and scoffed, "I don't plan on getting back together with you, ever."

Sasuke took a deep-breath again and asked: "Are you seriously dating Itachi? Why my brother of all people? We both know that you're doing this to get back at me. Please, Naruto; stop this already. I got it. I was wrong. I've already filed a divorce case against Sakura. It's messy and complicated, but it's the first step." Sasuke said, dragging his chair closer to Naruto. Close enough that he cupped Naruto's hands with his.

Naruto stared down at the hands that were touching together and chuckled. He laughed loudly right after and looked back at Sasuke. How much has Sasuke aged, Naruto mused.

"Not happening, Sasuke."

"Why? Tell me why? Are you seriously going to live a life with that man? Is this a fucking game?" Sasuke asked through gritted teeth. His hands that were gently holding Naruto's tightened grip.

"Listen, Sasuke..." Naruto sighed and took his hands back. "Why do you think I'm with Itachi only to spite you? Are you saying that I can't even have someone as nice as him? That Itachi was so out of my league that it can't be true?"

"That's not what I meant." 

"Oh? Then tell me – why the fuck do you care who I see or not? Itachi makes me happy, he doesn't belittle me. He believes in my potential and knows my worth. For once, for fucking once, I don't feel inferior to someone I'm intimate with. Why do you have to go and ruin it again?" Though Naruto did not shout, it was obvious he was angry. How dare Sasuke. How dare he show himself and hurt him again.

"Then why Itachi? If you want to move on and remove yourself from me, then why the closest person to me? Why him?" Sasuke stood up and ran his palm down his mouth. He tried to calm himself. He doesn't want to start a fight with the blond.

"Why the fuck not? Itachi is hot, handsome and smart. He is totally my type." Naruto answered. He was too agitated to counter Sasuke.

"You!" Sasuke gasped.

"Also, Sasuke, I don't care what you do with Sakura and your child. I seriously don't. Yes, I loved you and I went crazy when we broke up. That was then. I am beautiful, stronger and done with your bullshit now. Go ahead and marry ten more girls. Fuck whoever you want, go let your secretary suck your dick for all I care. You're not my friend. You're not anyone anymore. You're just 'Sasuke, Itachi's brother.'"

Naruto stood up and tried to leave when Sasuke grabbed his arms and tried to pin him on the wall. Funny thing was, Naruto never really used his strength against Sasuke ever since, so Sasuke often thought himself to be stronger than Naruto. He was shocked when Naruto actually managed to subdue him using Judo, successfully tossing him on his back.

"I'm done with this, Sasuke. I'm with Itachi now. Whose children I have with whomever is none of your damn business."

Before Naruto left, he added: "You see, Sasuke… You were my world. I don't see anyone past you. When you left me, I have nothing. You asked me why Itachi? I'll tell you why.." Naruto turned around and looked at the sad state Sasuke was in.

"He made me feel like I'm human, not just something to warm the bed. I didn't realize I was treated horribly because I have no option. I loved you, and that was stupid of me. You're the worst, Sasuke. Now you're doing this again to poor Sakura. Seriously, you're a big fish in a small pond. The world does not revolve around your problems."

Naruto slammed the door shut.

~o~

You're the only one,

I'd be with till the end

When I come undone

You bring me back again

Back under the stars

Back into your arms

 

And I don't wanna fall to pieces

I just want to sit and stare at you

I don't want to talk about it

And I don't want a conversation

I just want to cry in front of you

I don't want to talk about it

Cuz I'm in Love With you

~o~

 

 

"Are you okay?" Itachi asked Naruto, seeing the man silent throughout the traffic. What happened to his enthusiasm just a few hours ago?

"Tachi, you see… Hm. How should I put this." Naruto removed his shoes and raised his leg on his seat. Though he was safely fastened on his seat-belt, Itachi was concerned Naruto's posture was uncomfortable. The car's a two-seater and Naruto was not a small person.

"I still love Sasuke, but now I can't find reasons why. Looking back, all I can think off was the bad times. The heartache, the miserable state I was in." Naruto rested his chin on his knees. Itachi drove but had a glance off it.

"That's one stage of it. You know...lost."

"Is that so?" Naruto asked.

"Hn."

"Then, when you lost… him, did you felt anger too?"

Usually, Itachi didn't like to talk about Shisui. It was different with Naruto, though. He could sense the man has no underlying malice towards his questions, so he always answered as honestly as he could.

"Let's see." Itachi slowed down and came to a full stop when they reached the parking lot of the pet store. His hands was still on the steering wheel; his eyes in front.

"I did. I got angry at Shisui too. I thought he was stupid, and blamed him even. It fades overtime, so don't worry. I know you must felt guilty feeling this way, since you're the sincere type. Anyway, what happened?" Itachi was curious to know. He was getting ahead of himself for feeling elated seeing Naruto seemingly recovering from his heartbreak. Was he wrong? Did he just imagined it?

"I saw Sasuke earlier. He said really outrageous stuff, and told me he's divorcing Sakura. He wanted us to start over or something. I think the past me would have died then and there. Leap onto his chest and weep tears of joy. I was surprised I felt angry. I felt insulted that he thought I could not move on even after all this time."

"Then, why are you crying?" Itachi asked. His voice was soft.

"Eh?" Surprised, Naruto wiped his cheeks. Indeed, he was crying. "How stupid. I really hate this. I hate that the months I've struggled was torn down in one moment."

Itachi was silent and let Naruto cry himself. It was a good ten minutes when Naruto finally calmed down that he took his chance and asked.

"We're pretending and that was our set-up for a while, but have you considered it?"

Naruto asked, "Considered what exactly?"

"Real relationship; you and me." Itachi slowly raised his hand to touch Naruto's scarred cheek and traced the man's lip with his pale thumb. Those eyes that stared intensely at Naruto made the blond nervous, so much that his stomach flipped.

"Ta...chi?" Naruto gulped his saliva hard, almost not breathing from the suspense. Does Itachi going to kiss him or what?

Itachi's face grew closer that Naruto could feel the man's breath on his face. He felt goosebumps when Itachi's other hand unbuckled his own seat belt and moved closer to Naruto. Naruto froze in place, not knowing what to do.

"Oh, God." Naruto muttered and closed his eyes. He was so nervous, he forgot what he was crying about earlier. Heck, he even forgot his own name and what was he doing.

"Naruto..." Itachi whispered his name and Naruto whimpered a bit. Last time, Itachi admitted he gave Naruto kisses. Was Itachi really serious just now? Does he really want to date Naruto?

Just like Naruto, Itachi was also confused about his actions.

Then, the kiss.

At first it was soft and smooth, then Itachi suddenly became aggressive and plunged his tongue inside Naruto's mouth. Itachi's lips softly sucked Naruto's upper ones. After he had his fill of sucking, he slowly swirled his tongue inside Naruto's mouth the next. It was hot and soft all over, that Itachi felt good. He kinda thought Naruto's kisses would be rough, like his overall personality. He never knew the blond was passive, letting Itachi lead him.

Itachi's hands then crept up from Naruto's lower back to his nape, while the other hand played with the blond's ear and hair.

Naruto shivered; he felt good. He returned the kiss and softly licked Itachi's lips, moaning as he does. His arm hugged Itachi's back while the other one clenched on Itachi's jacket. The ear that was being tickled by Itachi's tender touches almost sent him to overheat. If he was a bit younger and knows no control, he might have been arouse then and there.

"Tachi!" Naruto cried out when Itachi let go of his mouth and traveled down his neck. Surprised, Naruto even pushed him back. He was not prepared for that.

Itachi didn't say a word, but stopped. He stared at Naruto and what mess he was in: disheveled hair, wet reddened lips, flushed face and panting through his mouth.

"It seems I... overdid it. Are you okay?" He asked the blond and fixed Naruto's hair for him.

"Uh? Uhm.. Yeah. I think… maybe." Embarrassed, Naruto straightened his jacket, wore his shoes and got out of the car. He inhaled and exhaled while he waited for Itachi to fix himself too.

When finally, Itachi got out as well, Naruto couldn't even look him in the eye.

"Are you ready?" Itachi asked. He pressed the remote and locked his car.

"Ready?! What for? Why?!" Naruto panicked and flailed his arms. Itachi has been weird today, Naruto thought.

"For shopping. The dog goods." Itachi's lips tugged at the side, slightly showing an amuse smirk.

"Oh!" Naruto knocked his head lightly. "Right! That! Of course! Yes, yes!" He started walking stiffly, leading the way.

"Naruto."

"Hm?" Naruto turned around and saw Itachi's face. He had quite a serious look on him that it took Naruto off guard.

"I'm not going to apologize for what I did just now. If you hate it, please tell me." Itachi said.

"Uhm.." Naruto swallowed his saliva. Itachi stopped walking and waited for an answer.

"I don't know about relationship and all… but I don't hate it. I mean.. ki.. kissing you." He blushed.

"Say something, please." Naruto pleaded when Itachi kept on being silent.

"Do you mean you're fine with physical relationship? Are you fine me touching you?" Itachi finally asked.

He felt his face grew hotter, but he answered Itachi since Itachi was seriously waiting for one. "I don't think this is the right time to talk about these things, but yes! It seems I am fine with that! Sheesh..."

When Naruto thought Itachi would looked happy a bit that they have this mutual arrangement, he was shocked to see the man looking kind of upset.

"What?" He asked and walked towards Itachi.

"No. It's nothing. Nothing at all."

.

.

A week ago when Naruto joined a mountaineering activity for a day for a University Club. It was just one of those things Naruto was excitedly trying. The last time he was that happy was when he started to try bath bombs.

Itachi was happy for him, of course. Before, Sasori and Deidara had to teach the young man to fake a smile. Who knew the Naruto, that was a messed before, started to be like his old self again.

"Yo. A call on line three." Kisame, done with his work pretense and formal attitude, barged into Itachi's office.

"The staggering difference would make other secretaries that looked up to you, cry." Itachi said as he picked the phone up. He had a small smile on his face. It was an inside joke between him and Kisame that the man was 'acting' like a great assistant-cum-secretary.

Kisame gave a salute and went on his way. He had things to do and was going out before his boss. Itachi was a perfectionist like always, refusing to go home if the work for the day's not done.

"Uchiha Itachi, speaking." Itachi answered the phone.

"Tachi.. Help me.."

"Naruto? What happened?" Itachi already picked up his things and jacket. Phone in one hand, already messaged his driver to ready the car.

"I think I caught a weird virus. I'm in pain and my skin's covered in red, itchy spots."

"I understand. Where are you?"

"I'm on a cab headed to your office. I think I'll be there in twenty minutes or less. I called home but you're not there; after I confirmed to Kisame-san that you're still at the office, I asked the dri—cough! Anyway, Tachi… I don't have money for the cab. I lost my wallet."

"Don't worry about it. I'll have someone wait for you downstairs then we'll go home or go to the doctor depending on the situation. See you later."

Itachi instructed his driver to wait for Naruto and pay for the man's cab. While the blond was on his way, Itachi called his doctor and she suggested to Itachi that it was best to bring Naruto to the hospital for complete blood check up. Who knows if it was just simple allergy or something else.

When Naruto arrived, Itachi got worried that it was worse than what he original thought. Naruto's fever was high and had a really serious coughing, accompanied with complains of slight chest pains. Itachi almost lost his composure when Naruto said he felt like he was about to vomit.

"What did you ate?" Itachi asked as he assisted Naruto to lie down.

"Just barbecue and some grilled vegetables along with it. I'm itchy, Itachi." Naruto showed his neck and some areas that got bitten by insects.

"How did it come to this? Didn't we bought insect repellent before you left?" Itachi  worried that it might be a mosquito related disease. He contacted the hospital once more and helped Naruto lie down. He removed his coat and used it as blanket temporarily.

"Ambulance is on its way. Would you like something to drink?"

"Yes… Pocari..."

"The vending machine is three floors down, so wait right here while I go get one. If you feel like you're going to throw up, roll to the side. It doesn't matter if you dirty the sofa or floor, just don't lie down. You might choke, okay?"

"Thanks." Naruto answered weakly.

Though Itachi wasn't running, he sure was fast enough that it might as well looked that way. He was worried for the blond. Though him and Naruto doesn't speak that much and see that often because of schedules, Naruto and him exchange mails several times a day.

That was something even him and Shisui never did.

Itachi, for all he know, was the quiet kind. The type to support in the distance. Why was he changing slowly? He often wondered before. Naruto certainly has his way to bulldoze into his life.

"Deidara?" Itachi called Naruto's boss.

"Sup?"

"I'm taking Naruto to the hospital. I hope it's just allergies since it looks like that way. I need help."

"Okay, okay. Hey, Schat. Kom van je reet af. Naruto is ziek. Itachi brengt hem naar het ziekenhuis, schiet op!" *

"Did I call at a bad time?" Itachi finally reached the vending machine. Lucky there was Pocari like Naruto wanted. He got coffee for himself as well.

"Don't be an idiot, geez. So? What can we do?"

"I need you to bring a set of clothes for Naruto, I guess. And contact Naruto's companions where he hiked. Kisame has things to do, you see." Itachi ran back.

"Right. Consider it done. Will call again in a few minutes. Take care of Naruto."

"I will certainly do so."

"Heh." Deidara laughed a bit, while Itachi could hear Sasori asking where his clothes were. It does seemed like he called at a bad time.

"You've changed, Itachi." Deidara egged on. "When It comes to Naruto, you lose your shit and all, Un."

"Losing shit means being sick. I'd rather not." Itachi joked around. The elevator was running too slow for his taste.

"You know what I meant. Anyway, Sasori's done wiping his dick. We gon'a go. Un."

"Right. Thank you." Itachi chuckled and ended his call in time to see Sasuke storming off his office.

He wanted to ran towards Sasuke and asked what he did to Naruto, but was stopped when he heard Naruto throwing up.

"Tachi.." Naruto called, weakly.

"I'm here. Are you okay? The ambulance is on its way." Itachi patted Naruto's back while the man got sick all over the floor. There were bits of meat in it, and though a bit grossed out, Itachi opened the lights to check if there were anything amiss towards Naruto's stomach content. Worse comes to worst, Naruto might be poisoned by someone.

"Blood.." Naruto muttered as he felt his neck was damped.

"Excuse me?" Itachi asked. He looked where Naruto was holding on and saw a bite mark. Not only that, his clothes were torn and ruined.

"That damn Sasuke." Itachi cursed. He didn't know why, but he got really angry with Sasuke. He knew the man loves Naruto, but does he have to molest a sick person? Sasuke really don't know how to act rationally. As always, his little brother moved on impulse.

"Sasuke? Why?" Naruto asked. It seemed he was trying to rationalize things. Why was he bleeding? Did he hit himself somewhere?

"It's nothing, Naruto. That wound seemed like a bite mark from someone. Do you remember anything?"

"Eh? No."

"Hn."

So Sasuke really attacked Naruto while he's unconscious? That enraged Itachi.

"Itachi-sama, are you here?" The medical respondents opened his office door after a few minutes and Itachi let them do their thing. He doesn't have the time to deal with Sasuke yet. He was sure that Sasuke will act stupidly in the succeeding days.

.

.

.

 

It was unbelievable how they managed to remain as they were usually are after that kiss, Itachi thought. Like how he always perceived Naruto, the blond  was actually sensitive to his surroundings. He knew Naruto sensed that Itachi's mood  somehow dampened right after Naruto brushed his advances off.

It was not that he could blame Naruto for what he did. Naruto just said he still loves Sasuke; what could Itachi do?

Does he love Naruto enough to force his feelings? No. It was not that serious.

If Itachi's going to be honest with himself, he just like the idea of falling in love with Naruto. For what it's worth, Naruto's someone Itachi had no qualms changing his life's plan for. The man was honestly great, though the complications was rather steep than the reward itself.

Sasuke - his stupid, beloved brother, was in-love with Naruto. And though he hated to admit it, Naruto was pretty much going to bleed every time Sasuke disrupt his life for a very long time.

Would they have peace if Naruto answered him then and there right after he kissed him? No. They won't.

"I messed up, Hn." Itachi commented to himself while on break.

Yes, indeed he messed up. He was overcame with jealousy when the blond cried about Sasuke. It was understandable; Naruto's even taking up medicines for his depression and taking baby-steps to changes. What did Itachi expect?

It seems he have to take distance as well. Not to mention, he needed to make sure Sasuke okay too.

From what he heard so far, Sasuke was staying at a hotel nearby. He hasn't brought any lover with him, and already contacted their lawyers to settle divorcement to Sakura. Although Sakura wasn't willing, she was not taking Sasuke's feelings out of consideration either. That was good, Itachi thought. Though he get the feeling that Sakura was weirdly confident since she has Sarada. He wondered how his brother would settle things up.

He was still considering of mediating with Sasuke's decision—or at least offer some advice—when his phone rang.

"Yeah?" Itachi answered as he saw Sasori's number on screen.

"Oh, dear heavens, Itachi look at XX news right now!"

Itachi felt nervous, but remained calm. He did what Sasori said and saw his name on screen along with a picture of Naruto and him kissing inside his car. The headline reads: "Having a child with the Uchiha heir after an affair with the younger one?"

"What?" Itachi was confused. How did that happened?

"What's happening? Is Naruto okay?" Sasori was concerned for Naruto. He knew the boy was bullied before, and was starting to learn how to deal with them. Now this?

"I'll head home." Itachi dropped the call and stormed out. As expected, he was mad as hell.

"Find out who spread the rumors and have them report to me tomorrow. Call the TV stations, magazines, internet messages boards whatsoever and buy all the photos of me and Naruto. I don't want to see his face anywhere else. Make sure to silence them, got that?" Itachi fired instructions to Kisame as they walk. One secretary trailed behind them. It was obvious that Itachi was mad, and those who were in meeting earlier had their head hang-low.

"Sir, your Mother is on your business line." The female secretary handling Itachi's business smart phone and other schedules was so scared that her knees were shaking. A mad Itachi equals scary Itachi.

"Yes." Itachi took the call. He decided it was best to deal with her than her making things worse. Her voice rang throughout the small VIP elevator.

"What is happening with you?! Naruto? Of all people!"

"I'll be home in fifteen minutes. Let's talk." After he hung up, Itachi's eyes darted towards the elevator as before it closed. It was Sasuke who looked like he's going to kill Itachi soon. Itachi sighed and wriggled his finger, asking Sasuke to come with him.

The younger one complied.

"I can't stand this anymore, Niisan." Sasuke said as they rode Itachi's car and headed back home.

"What do you mean?" Itachi asked. It was best to let Sasuke run his mouth whenever he's pissed.

"Do you know what happens if Naruto does not terminate that… thing? He can die. He'll die, you know!"

Good thing they were near their house that Itachi didn't have to answer his brother's foolishness. As expected, the reporters and paparazzi swarmed outside their house.

They went inside with difficulty and when Itachi was about to sit in the living room—where the rest of his family were, including Sakura, but without Fugaku—he was slapped by his Mother.

"How can you disgrace us like this?!"

Itachi didn't answered and let her hit him a few times more. It was when she sobbed that Sasuke finally forced his mother to calm down and hear an explanation, even though he wanted to punch Itachi himself.

"Why? What are you so against Naruto, anyway?" Itachi asked. He was seriously angry.

"What do you mean by that? Can't you see what's he's doing? Sasuke hasn't come home for a week, saying he wanted to divorce your sister-in-law because he loves Naruto. Then you starting a relationship with that… that whore!" Mikoto yelled in frustration. Sakura who was silent the whole time sat besides her and asked her to drink water. Itachi thought it was funny.

"Sasuke, does Naruto knows your plan of divorcing Sakura?"

"Yes." The younger one answered.

"What does he say? Be honest."

"He doesn't want to get back to me. I guess because he has you, there was no need for me to step-in." Sasuke said, words laced with scorn.

"Heh. So let me get this straight: the man Sasuke dated, you know, Naruto whom you called your own son," Itachi addressed his Mother and continued, "- was repeatedly humiliated by Sasuke by sleeping with their friends, or sleeping with someone close to their circle. Then got another girl pregnant, marry her and asked Naruto to be the side lover. When Naruto decided to dump your son, all of a sudden, Sasuke was the victim here and that Naruto plays the antihero to Sasuke and Sakura's love story."

Continuing, Itachi shifted his gaze and stared at Sasuke. "After many suicide attempts, and many months of recovering after that fact, Naruto found someone by his side, me, and was starting to be happy again. Then what do we know, Sasuke decided to show up and fuck every thing up. Pardon my language."

"It was Naruto who-"

"No, Mother. Naruto didn't do anything wrong, not one bit. The reason why you hate Naruto is because you see yourself in Sakura." Itachi sighed. He did not want to go there, but it was necessary, his Mother was very much like Sasuke. Soft and weak and acts on impulse. They're both easy to point fingers, too. "Like Sakura, you're a woman whose husband loves someone else."

Mikoto grew bright red, she stood up and slapped her child once more. "Why you!"

Itachi looked down on the floor, ears rang from the slap. As expected of his mom, she has quite an arm on her. "Naruto is not like Father's mistress. He did not asked for anything. All he wanted was a peaceful life, something you guys don't have the decency to give him."

"Are you saying you're marrying that man? The man who ruined Sasuke's life? Who is ruining Sarada's future?" Mikoto cried. As expected of her son, he has quite a mouth on him. He hit where it hurts, even she was surprised that Itachi knew about their problem.

"Who's ruining what know?" Itachi asked Sakura, and she did not answer. Sakura couldn't come up with the right words to say.

"Anyway, what the news said isn't true. Naruto's not carrying anyone's child."

Itachi stood up and was about to leave when Sasuke held him by the arm in a deadly tight grip.

"I'm not someone who's going to give up easily. I know somewhere in Naruto's heart, he still loves me. I'm going to beat you down and take whatever you took from me. Don't be so full of yourself." Sasuke said as he stared straight into his brother's eyes.

Itachi wanted to laugh, but was too exhausted to give a damn. "Fine. Let me just warn you. Not everyone besides you is your friend. Be careful of who you trust."

That was a sincere warning. Itachi knew that it was a start of the unavoidable between him and Sasuke. He just hopes Sasuke chooses the right thing.

.

.

When Itachi got home soon after, he saw Naruto lying on the cold floor. The blond stared at the ceiling like how he usually does whenever he was in 'that' kind of mood.

"I wonder why, but I feel so tired." Naruto commented when he sensed Itachi's presence. That and he heard Choi whining. The dog followed Itachi around wherever he walked, asking for a petting. He got one.

"Hn."

Itachi lay beside Naruto and stared at the ceiling himself. Choi was bored by how lazy his owners were, that he decided to bother the guards at the back door. Left alone, Naruto and Itachi stopped moving and relaxed. Curious, Naruto glanced at Itachi's face and saw some swelling around the mouth.

"Went home? Mikoto?" He guessed right and Itachi 'hn'ed' as a reply.

"This sucks." Naruto said.

"Want to move to a different house?" Itachi asked, giving Naruto an option to leave this nasty world behind. He'd have to protect Naruto from the shadows in case Naruto did decide to leave. Somehow, he was stung by his own thoughts.

"I want to be here. I don't have anyone, Tachi. Gaara is happy with his life, and so does my other friends. I'm afraid of getting alone at night. And..."

This time, It was Naruto who held Itachi's hand.

"It was you who're suffering because of me. How can I leave you behind? Unless you want me to leave? If so, then there's no problem. I'll move."

Itachi did not answer back and remained lying down beside Naruto. He already contacted Neji and Kisame and confirmed various things. He already expected such happenings and this does not deter him from his original plan. 

It was sad actually, that it was going on as he expected. Sasuke, Madara and his father are all predictable people. Itachi was dismayed by that fact.

"Naruto."

"Hm?"

"May I kiss you again?" Itachi rolled around and hovered on top of Naruto, his hair dangling on Naruto's chest. He remained still; his whole weight supported by his elbows. He did not want his weight on Naruto, after all.

"Uhm. Yes." Naruto said, longing for some human touch as well. Before Itachi, it has been almost a year since he was kissed by someone. Remembering his last with Sasuke, that was kinda sad and excruciating.

Oh, how he's been so sad and alone.

Itachi does what he asked, right after he brushed Naruto's cheek with his hand softly.

The kiss itself was quiet, calming, and gentle. Instead of feeling heat, it gave the two some warmth.

Ah, so they weren't alone anymore.

That night, the two lay together in bed, holding hands while staring at the ceiling.

Tomorrow's another day.

~o~

Wanna know how you feel

Wanna know what is real

I wanna know everything, everything

 

And I don't wanna fall to pieces

I just want to sit and stare at you

I don't want to talk about it

And I don't want a conversation

I just want to cry in front of you

I don't want to talk about it

 

Cuz I'm in Love With you

I'm in love with you

~o~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:
a/n: we can safely say Itachi and Naruto is in mutual understanding. Love? Nah, at least not for Naruto's part. Please let the story progress itself. Leave some comment if you like and thanks for the support.

* Means, "hey, honey, get off your ass. Naruto is sick. Itachi is taking him to the hospital, hurry up." THANK YOU LIEN FOR THE TRANSLATION.

Question: Why is there a need to establish that Deidara is Dutch?

- All according to plan.

see you next update!

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 12: Dollhouse
 

 

 

 

 

 

~o~

No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens

Don't let them see what goes down in the kitchen.

Places, places, get in your places

Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.

Everyone thinks that we're perfect

Please don't let them look through the curtains.

Picture, picture, smile for the picture

Pose with your brother, won't you be a good sister?

Everyone thinks that we're perfect

Please don't let them look through the curtains.

~0~

 

 

"Hello. How are you feeling today?" She tapped the table a few times and carefully observed the blond in front of her. He looked better than before—cleaned and proper, she noticed. The blond settled in the chair she offered before he answered; it seemed he was trying to catch his breath as he ran late for their session.

"I've seen better days," he laughed it off. She sensed there was humor in his tone and she jotted it down her note.

"Tell me what's new with you since the last time we saw each other." She said.

"Hm," - the blond man ran a hand through his hair, either exasperated or trying to dry himself. There was a light rain right before he came in - "work's doing okay. I was just assigned with more things to do."

"What kind of work?"

"I work for a stylist. My bosses asks me to pick outfits and looks for a few clients, trusting my taste. Sure, I mean," - the blond ran a hand through his hair again. It looked like a habit he developed recently, she mused - "this time they still have to approve my work, but I'm getting better at it," he beamed.

'Challenges fires him up. From comments of friends, he's always been the competitive type', she noted.

"I've been fairly busy with what's been going on between and…" the pause piqued her interest. She knew exactly what was he was trying to say, but asked anyway.

"With who? Between you and who?" 

There was the uncomfortable pause between them again. She never move nor break eye contact with him whenever he tried to regain composure so he knew she'd wait for an answer and there was no need to rush. Before, he seemed agitated, like she was trying to get all personal with him. The staggering difference from a few months to now astonished even her, the Doctor.

He smiled a bit and looked down, "I guess I was arrogant enough to think you saw me on the news." There was a hint of shyness in his tone and the scratching of his cheek proved it. She wanted to answer she did, but she is a doctor, not a friend. She was there to help him, not gossip about his life.

"I'm afraid I was busy. Please, do share if you want," she said again, this time, her voice was clearer.

"Umm..." - the nervous fidgeting started - "Uchiha Itachi is sort of my… boyfriend slash benefactor. There was a picture of us circulating around the web and Television… um.. kissing. Before that, there was a rumor going on that him and I are engage since they saw Ta-I mean, Uchiha-san picking up a ring. I guess you could say it's been a chaotic week."

That explained the sudden nervousness. He was always despondent, the very least, uninterested in replying. A few months since the man started to live with the older brother of his former lover, he became somewhat conscious of his outer appearance. Much more, he started focusing on getting himself better, asking for different sleeping pills, or medicines he could skip so he can start working out again. In her professional opinion, he still needed to see her, but not as often as he used to. Dating, or hanging out with someone as mature as the Uchiha Itachi brought good in him. She was wary at first, since the source of her client's problem was the brother of the said person, but it was handled rather maturely. So long as the blond continued with his diet, and medicines prescribed to him, she saw nothing wrong with continuing living with said benefactor. She just had to make a few things sure.

"Other than being chased by the press, is that right? You're being chased?"

"Yes. We both are."

"Then other than being chased by the press, is there any problem? One that is making you nervous?" She probed.

This has taken the man aback.

Bingo, she told herself. The man was visibly perturbed. He squirmed in his seat as he hugged himself. He opened his mouth and deep breathed to calm himself. He looked on the floor and began answering the question. He sure did took his time though.

"Sasuke… he came to talk to me a few times. Once in school, where I thought I had settle everything between us. Another time was when he asked, or I dunno…" he waved his hand dismissively and sighed.

Continuing, he crossed his hands on top of his lap, "I think he asked a few friends about my new number and called me. First, he wanted to talk; threatened me to go to Itachi's house if I don't meet him. Him being there would start another rumor I cannot handle. He filed a divorce case against his wife, or something!

"Then I said I would only meet him if I can bring Tachi with me. You know? I don't want to cause Tachi troubles. I heard he was having a hard time as it is during board meetings!" She noted how her client was desperate to have her approval as he, maybe, subconsciously dropping the honorific for Uchiha Itachi. She nodded and let him finished.

"Of course, I told Tachi about this. He said if he can't come, at least I should take his car and his Chief Assistant with me. Kisame-san is a big guy… heard he had different martial arts training."

"And what did you do?" she asked when she felt like he was waiting for her to comment.

"I took the last offer and brought Kisame with me. As expected, there were many people who followed us. The restaurant that Sasuke asked me to meet him was secured enough that no one can come in without proper reservations. Heard you have to make it at least two weeks in advance."

She felt like the client was straying and stalling in narrating what happened. She had no desire to push him as his meeting with his ex was something private. However, she was really against him meeting the man. She was the first person to sign the request for 'Temporary Restraining Order' and was the first one to suggest never to let Sasuke and his parents near Uzumaki Naruto. He'd have to contact Uchiha Itachi about the matter, of course, while protecting patient confidentiality.

"Where was I?" the blond asked.

"You entered the restaurant Sasuke Uchiha-san booked. You were with Itachi-san's Chief Assistant."

"Ah, yes. So anyway, when we entered, Sasuke was there, all smiles and beaming brightly. My first reaction was to asked him did something good happened. Kisame, by this time, was standing not so far away from us. We were accompanied by two body guards as well…. I'm always surrounded by body guards nowadays..."

Again, he seemed stalling, she noted.

"Sasuke happily said that even though Sakura didn't want to sign the divorce papers, he can build a case against her. He just have to show the court that she knew from the very beginning that him and I were dating before and living together. That she got pregnant one time when he was drunk. He said there were enough evidences of calls and text and emails from her asking if he was with me, and that she was okay with him marrying her for the sake of marriage and still come home with me… you know… all these nonsense we've talked about before. He said he could make Sakura look like she was only after the Uchiha name and money, so badly, that she didn't seemed to mind that he was with me.

"What annoyed me the most was that he thought that would make things clear, and we can finally start to be together. 'I'm sorry I took the long way. We'll be together soon, you'll see,' he said some shits like this—god!" Naruto ran a hand through his hair again. It was getting noticeable since he'd done it repeatedly.

"He actually tried to hold my hand as if I should be happy about this. About him breaking his family apart for me. Jesus, the selfish prick! He still don't care about what others think. Now he's even worse, with that distasteful, new personality of his. Did he lose a few screws when he heard about me and his brother? Feels like it! Can you believe this shit?"

He panted after he finished his story. She offered him a drink as she stood up. It was just so he could relax as he was getting heated up. He took the drink and apologized for raising his voice. Good progress, she mentally noted. Before, he just burst out whenever he felt like it.

"Oh, look at the time," the blond smiled after he had calmed down.

He was getting familiar with how session works and she smiled back.

"Do you still need to continue the sleeping pills?"

"No, Kurenai-sensei. I don't think I do. I got all the schedule from the email you sent, so I'll see you again next month." Naruto gathered his things and stood up, looking like he was in a hurry. She was right; he really was. Talking about how he needed to take his dog to the vet for his shots. Another thing good that has happened to the man, she nodded and giggled.

"I saw your laboratory report and everything looks fine. I suggest you keep up with the vitamins and call me if you need anything. Take care, and take care of Choi."

The last bit made the man happy and gave a genuine laughter, "Let's talk about him some other time. See you!"

When he left, she opened up her laptop and documented Naruto's progress along with replaying the voice recording of the session. She always have thirty minutes interval before she see another client so that she can prepare. Good thing the next one was running late too, as she read her receptionist email. The rain outside had started to become a downpour.

After she has finished all of her input, she took a cup of tea and sipped while listening to the music playing in the background. Naruto asked her something… but, what was his question again?

Ah, yes - 'Can you believe this shit?'

Yes, she could.

From what she heard, Uchiha Sasuke has never had some sort of psychiatric help since Uzumaki Naruto's two suicide attempts. From gossips her husband and her friends messaged her, it seemed Sasuke has tried to do a lot of crazy things; stalking Naruto for one.

That was understandable.

A suicide attempt from your former partner and you are mainly the cause? That had to have a blow to him too.

Now Kurenai is a personal friend of Itachi and was really close to him during their University days. She was always with Kakashi and his husband Iruka, along with her husband Asuma Shiratobi. You could say that she was very familiar with Uchiha family's dysfunctional relationship since her mentor and the ones before that have served the family for generations. Not to mention Itachi running in the same circle as them, even though he was much younger than they were. As expected of a genius.

However, it has been a while since she last saw any Uchiha main family member aside from Itachi. Itachi, no matter how powerful he was, never neglected his mental health. Something that was admirable for not everyone can admit to oneself that they needed help. And boy does Itachi needed a lot of help.

Though, it did not surprise her too that Sasuke has moved on to another professionals or stopped coming to one altogether. They were all prideful, and not in a good way. The risk of being a member of a prominent family.

That Sasuke even more. From the previous session he had with her, she wanted him to undergo a few test to see if he does have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder* as he seemed that way. Of course, when she brought up the issue, she was immediately fired.

The same with Mikoto Uchiha. She has been living in denial for a while and suffering from Depression among many things, so Kurenai would like her to have some treatment, but she refused and stopped coming back. When she still received checks from her, she personally contacted Mikoto's Assistant and was asked to just take the money for that was Mikoto's wish.

She contacted Itachi soon after and the issue has been taken care of. From what she understood, Mikoto's husband provides her with everything, given that he has full control of her life. It was clear to the doctor that Fugaku Uchiha might be conducting an audit of her expenses and that 'billing the shrink' would be in her favor.

How pitiful.

People from the news often commented how Naruto was quite the gold-digger, targeting the older, richer Uchiha when his relationship with the new one went down the drains. But, people in the know like her would never envy Naruto or anyone who wanted to date these brothers.

She sipped her tea and leaned back to her chair, "Sasuke's really troubled, and don't get me started on the parents."

She browsed the photos that has been circulating over the net and got worried for Naruto, "But I know you should never mess with Itachi... ever."

She closed the laptop and welcomed the next client.

 

 

~0~

D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E

I see things that nobody else sees.

(D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E

I see things that nobody else sees)

~0~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:
 

 

-Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations.

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Rhye_Meow

Chapter 13: Love moves in mysterious ways

 


A/n;  some characters might be OOC. this chapter opens up more questions than answers; please allow me to expand the story. still slow-burn but there's a huge progress. 

 


~O~

Who'd have thought this is how the pieces fit

You and I shouldn't even try making sense of it

I forgot how we ever came this far

I believe we had reasons but I don't know what they are

Don't blame it on my heart, oh

 

Love moves in mysterious ways

It's always so surprising

When love appears over the horizon…

~o~

 

 

 

As expected, things didn't settle down after their kiss.

Photos exploded like fireworks everywhere they look—from Entertainment and Business sections of newspapers and gossip channels of television—the two were practically the celebrity couple people talked about.

Naruto braced himself when he received the call from Deidara that their photo has been the talk-of-the-town, and he was actually prepared for the worst. His University life was filled with drama since his break-up with Sasuke anyways that he started to get used to it—or at least try his best to filter it out—by the time they feast on his relationship with the older Uchiha.

Having no choice, he changed his number and all his contact information, ignoring pretty much everyone except those he trust in order to get semblance of peace.

Of course, Itachi ihelped him in every way possible: sending bodyguards to him along with a van to take him wherever he needed to go, buying out photos, suing everyone who tried to print misinformation against Naruto and keeping his silence in the issue no matter how much the world bombarded him with questions.

At first Naruto refused Itachi's offer to protect him—seeing as it would be overkill to use money on something that would eventually die down on its own like every gossip out there—but soon as he saw how many people were waiting for him outside the campus and his work, he decided to just accept his fate. Not because he was concerned about himself; but because he doesn't want to cause Itachi more problems than he already have.

Sure, he had troubles, compared to Itachi's worries though? His was nothing. He's a nobody with nothing under his name; Itachi on the other hand was different. Something like this could make or break someone like him. Naruto would not be able to forgive himself if he ruin Itachi's life somehow.

While it was true that Naruto was willing to wear a mask until they are ready to 'part ways' in a way, he could not help but feel the anxiety building up. The hardest part for him was how the public perceived him – from a delusional orphan to a gold-digging whore. It doesn't matter how much money Itachi was willing to spend just to save Naruto's dignity, people were still free to talk about him in their Social Media accounts. Smear campaign was thrown at him like mud. There was even a 'Save Uchiha Itachi from the grasp of the Evil Blond' group.

However, that was just one of his worries.

Itachi and him dating were known to the public, and at one point the line was blurry for the blond. They exchanged emails, text and phone calls throughout the day, that sometimes their conversations were pretty mundane and domestic. The only difference between them and real lovers was that they don't have sex - they pretty much do everything else.

Slept on one bed some times, care for each other, syncing their schedules, giving gifts, having dates and making the other one somehow a priority even on busy days.

At least that's what Naruto thought.

He was a bit sad, however, when he realized Itachi acted the same. He greeted Naruto in the morning, ate breakfast with him whenever he could, said his goodbyes and usual greetings when he came home. Nothing much has change with the man while Naruto was having a hard time processing what was going on between them. Sad that despite their seemingly closer relation, Itachi wasn't flustered at all by Naruto's presence. It felt like the older brother was caring for his younger one, or was it?

This confused the blond. There were days when he couldn't look at Itachi because his feelings got too much to process, but Itachi was unfazed. Was he not attractive enough? Then what has happened between them at that parking lot? And when he got home after a fight with his family? A momentary slip of confusion? Heat?

What's worst was how their kisses replayed over and over inside his head. It gave him sleepless nights. Taking over his mind adding to the stresses he was going through. Does Itachi feel the same way? Did he feel pleasant and nervous around the blond too? Naruto kept asking questions like this before they go to sleep. Even if there were days when he went to bed first, the moment he woke up, Itachi was the first one he'd think of.

Was it a sense of comfort? It certainly was for Naruto. His worries and sadness lessened on the days Itachi was besides him. He wondered if it was the same with the man too. It certainly doesn't help that he kept on thinking about Itachi whenever he was not occupied with anything.

Though thinking about it won't do much for him, so like the usual, he went on his day doing what he was supposed to do. Taking classes, ignoring the snide comments from gossipers, having lunch with Sai or some of his friends that don't really care about the rumor, minding his business till it was time to leave the campus and start his job.

At work, everything remained calm, if not peaceful. His bosses are friends with Itachi and knew the truth between them, so they don't ask much questions except asking how they ware. They were nice enough to give Naruto some working space away from public view since some of their guests are actually coming to them to gawk at this said man who captured the hearts of the elusive Uchiha brothers.

"What are you spacing out for?" Sasori noted one day that Naruto sighed for the umpteenth time and lightly chuckled soon as he realized Naruto was glancing over his phone. It was early evening and the clients they were supposed to see were down to two. Nothing much to do but relax and prepare the items for tomorrow. "He'll call you later; I'm sure of that," the redhead added.

Blushing, Naruto hid his phone in his back pocket and started tidying the materials scattered all over Deidara's desk. "What are you thinking? I'm not waiting for Itachi to call!"

"Oh ho? Did I mentioned anyone's name?" Sasori teased.

"A-anyway! I'm done for the day, so I'll go home now. Anything you need?"

Sasori checked his schedule once more and nodded, "No. You're done for today. Ah! But, if you can come over tomorrow an hour earlier, that'd be great."

"Tomorrow? Uhm, sure. 'Don't have classes tomorrow, but what's this about?" Confused, Naruto asked. They don't have deliveries scheduled and no client to cater to, unless someone booked just now.

"Yep. It's a surprise though ~ dress your best!" Deidara butted in out of nowhere and looked extremely pleased with himself. Naruto knew that look. That look can't be good.

"Oh… okay. Tomorrow, then."

As he walked outside, his bodyguards were already on standby. There weren't that many people waiting for him at the entrance; knowing that they won't get any comment from the man, they'd already learned their lesson and just took photos and leave him alone.

No wonder celebrities have sour attitude towards fans sometimes, Naruto said to himself. The constant flashes of cameras hitting your eyes, constant self-reminder that you have to look and act your best, constant yelling near his ears – it was all too tiring for him, and it wasn't that big compared to what Itachi has to go through.

From what Naruto heard from Kisame, Itachi received numerous invitation to be interviewed right after the photos have been leaked. That and the paparazzis swarming over him.

If that was not enough, during their meetings, stockholders tried to take advantage of the situation and asked him about his personal life. Some of them genuinely shocked and happy for Itachi, since he has been aloof and unapproachable to anyone, while others were looking for ways to get under his skin or gain his favor. Some even tried to give Itachi gifts addressed to Naruto while others have tried to slip in marriage proposals since they knew now that he was 'in the market' and have started to date again.

It was funny, Naruto thought, that people were really fueled by self-interest and greed. Talk about being shameless. Not that he could actually say this out loud. For all he know, he might be overstaying his welcome and was  actually a hindrance to Itachi's daily life. Thinking about it pangs him a bit.

.

While Naruto was lost in his thoughts reading the latest issue about them on the internet—despite his better judgment not to—he was startled by a phone call.

"Hi, Tachi. How's your day?" A smile present on his face that he caught just now. Why was he suddenly being giddy?

"I'm fine. I heard from security that you're headed home. Did you have dinner yet?" It sounded like Itachi was in his office, playing classical music. Naruto recognized the song, Franz Liszt's La Campanella.

"Hm? I was thinking of cooking since it's been a while. Are you headed home too?"

"I am. Can you make my portion too?"

Naruto suddenly felt happy, and nodded even if Itachi could not see. "Yes! Any request?"

There was a small paused and Itachi 'Hn'ed' before he answered. "Anything you want. There's something I'd like to talk about too."

Suddenly sounding serious wasn't exactly something to worry about, for the said man has always been that type. But Naruto was different; Naruto can sense something was off.

"Oh. Okay. Then, see you." He did not stop fidgeting after the call.

.

.

Not long after, Naruto arrived at their home, greeted by his adorable dog, which lifted his spirits. Choi had a sitter during the day to avoid the great accident he caused a few days earlier; AKA the day Choi decided they don't their expensive China plates.

"How've you been, buddy?" Naruto happily accepted the face licks the dog gave and listened to the sitter as he detailed what 'mishaps' that had happened to them.

Without asking for it, some of the securities sent the sitter home, making sure he wasn't halted by the paparazzi waiting nearby.

It was always like this everyday for Naruto.

Now that he was used to it, his movements and decisions are always calculated and careful—something that was so out-of-character for him, for he was known to be headstrong.

Itachi was the deciding factor.

He had to hold back a lot of times because he cannot shame Itachi. He owed the man a lot and doing this was nothing. Of course Sai, his tactless friend, pointed out that Naruto started to be super dependent on Itachi and at some ways, he cannot refute the observation. But, aside from staying at Itachi's place, everything else was up to Naruto.

He wanted to own a place and start a new life, some thing he skipped over during his younger years. Chances were, he would not be able to do so, not until the problems – or should he say – their lies finally reached its end.

"Alright, buddy. Let's go and prepare dinner." The dog happily followed Naruto, wagging his tail as they go. Oblivious to the fact that his owner's mood changed a bit.

Naruto slapped his face to stop himself from having dark thoughts. He needed a change of pace since this whole kissing fiasco has turned him upside down. Though he was kind of  grateful. His worries were petty now compared to having pains remembering his broken heart.

Small blessings.

Desperate of a mood changer, he started to do what he does to relax.

Cooking. Yes, cooking has always been a healthy 'happy time' for him. He was confident with his skills since he has been doing it for himself and Sasuke for a long time. Uchiha's were known for being picky-eaters after all; it was an accomplishment if you get them to eat anything you prepare. Unlike Itachi who would try anything and be polite if he did not like the taste, Sasuke would just straight-up say how horrible it was. This kept Naruto on his toes which greatly improved him. Another thing to be grateful for.

"Since Tachi doesn't like eating meat that much, let's make something light." The main dish was fish and the rest was light soup with asparagus as starter. The dog remained to his side, looking up, wondering if Naruto would give him some of the end cuts of whatever.

Naruto received a text that Itachi was fifteen minutes away. Enough time for a quick shower while the rest of the meal was in the oven.

Choi followed him too, watching as his human quickly shampoo and rinsed his hair. Naruto opted to dress-up; a simple buttoned down shirt in dark blue together with black slacks and boat shoes. He gave up on his hair after a few combs. No matter, he said to himself. It being unruly gave him a relaxed aura.

He was nervous, understandably, since Itachi wanted to talk to him. Whatever was the matter?

He heard the dog whimpered and ran outside, assuming Itachi was home already. Naruto hurried downstairs and smiled back at the dark-haired man beaming at him.

"Something good happened at work?" Naruto went to the kitchen, while Itachi and Choi rummaged the fridge for drinks.

"Not really. I was just happy to see your face. The shirt suit you," he said, making Naruto blush.

"Oh? Right! I forgot you're the one who bought this." Good thing he had the excuse of taking the fish out of the oven or he'd really looked like he just felt ecstatic about the compliment. He had a tinge of pink even to his ears.

The dinner was ready in no time and while he waited for Itachi to wash his hands, Naruto tried to pick the wine that complimented their meal the best. For this aspect, he was thankful that Deidara's a wine-harpy.

"Everything's looks good," Itachi said, noting the aroma of the lemon zest from the sauce of the fish.

They ate quietly, Naruto too nervous to speak while Itachi savoring the meal.

"Problem?" Naruto asked first, unable to hold it in anymore. Despite his silence over the course of months, Naruto has always been known for being too loud.

"What?" Itachi got confused by the question, "- what gave you that idea?"

"You sounded serious earlier? Are you breaking up with me? Well," - Naruto fidgeted in his seat again - "technically, we're never a couple. But if you announce that we should break up then-" Itachi raised a hand, effectively stopping Naruto.

"I made you anxious, I'm sorry." Itachi smiled.

"Oh… I lost my cool back there." He felt the blush consuming his face once more so he drowned it down with wine. What the hell was that? He inwardly berated himself.

"It was about Sasuke. I don't want to open the topic soon since we're having such a nice meal." Itachi rested his utensils to the side and dabbed a napkin on his mouth.

"Sasuke? What about him?" He knew it. He knew there was a reason he felt so nervous about this.

"We all know he filed for divorce against Sakura and is trying to settle it amicably if she accept his terms, but there's also one issue I think you should know." The look on Itachi's face worried Naruto. If other people saw this, they would think nothing's wrong, just the usual stoic Uchiha.

"And?" Naruto still have food on his plate and such a pity he already lost appetite. He got too nervous and scared to be honest. Sasuke from the stories of their friends, seemed so… unstable.

"He's been trying to buy out from our stockholders."

"Is he trying to fight you for your position?"

"Ha. I supposed you know him best," Itachi chuckled and drank the remainder of his glass.

"Why though?"

"Hn. I can hazard a guess why; but I'm sure he can't if he's alone. You know Sasuke's real worth. He won't be able to buy stocks with a few millions." Itachi scoffed. It was obvious he was holding back on something. Naruto did not dare to ask.

It was true that Naruto knew how much savings Sasuke has. He'd actually heard his accountant for the yearly reports and he saw whenever Sasuke and his people audit his money. Of course, Naruto wasn't that interested in these things.

For one, counting numbers makes him dizzy. He also knew his place; it would not be good if he care too much about how much his ex was saving. That does not concern him. As long as they paid their bills and filled their fridge, Naruto's only concern was how much his money were by the end of the month by doing various part time works.

Though Naruto wasn't a complete moron. He knew Sasuke could be worth a few millions including his trust funds. He supposed that won't be enough if he wanted more shares than Itachi. After all, their company has always been listed in top 10, if not 5, of the biggest companies in Asia and Central Europe.

"Tachi, are you okay?" The blond asked after an uncomfortable silence.

Itachi looked straight at him and soften his gaze, "I made you worry again. I'll be fine."

"Hmm. Okay, if you say so."

Itachi stared at Naruto, noting the blond's hair grew longer. "It felt like, even though I see you everyday, it's been a long time since I've seen you… how weird."

"Oh. I know what you mean." Naruto chuckled. It was funny, he thought. Itachi's seemed to be saying what Naruto felt.

"You do?"

"I do."

"Hn..." Itachi wanted to ask Naruto about his meeting with his brother the other day, but was too… afraid to ask. It wasn't like him to be uncertain of his feelings.

"Ha." Itachi drank from his glass and muttered, "Actually, I am most certain of my feelings, it's just that, I don't know what I'll do with it..."

"Huh? You lost me there for a second—are we talking about Sasuke?" Naruto stood up and took the bottle and offered Itachi more wine. It just felt like the kind of night where they both needed to drink.

Itachi looked at the tanned hand that was pouring a drink for him. When Naruto was done and was about to sit down, Itachi held that hand for a few good seconds, confusing the blond.

"Tachi?"

"Hn. Yes, I supposed we're talking about Sasuke." He let go and drank from his glass as if nothing happened. Naruto felt it though; the lugubrious tone from the man's voice.

"Do you think I'm an idiot, Tachi?" Naruto asked as he huffed and downed his drink. He lost his poise for a second that Itachi had to laugh. He liked this kind of Naruto—a lot.

"On the contrary, I think you're too perceptive that I'm afraid all of my secrets will spill out."

"Then… why are you hiding something from me? It concerns me, doesn't it? I know you're worried about me, and I thank you for that. But it's always obvious when it's about me; you have this..." - Naruto waved his hand as if trying to find the right words to say, but could not explain it well. Instead, Itachi finished his sentence for him.

"As if I'm trying to burden myself by carrying the world over my shoulders?"

"Yes. That."

"Shisui often told me that." Itachi's lips turned up, smiling for a fraction of second. If you're not observant and quick enough, it was the kind of smile you'd miss.

"Well… you shouldn't do that, really. I think, rather than being deceitful, saying the truth would be better… no matter how hard and awful it is."

"That is so like you to say so..." Itachi commented.

"Is that bad?"

"Hmm." Itachi shook his head and unraveled his hair tie. His dark locks fell on his shoulders. Naruto gulped a bit and he does not know why. Perhaps Itachi looked too good with his hair down?

"People like you who are brutally honest are like… the Sun? I supposed I could compare you to that. Like basking under the sun."

"Sun? That's kinda deep. I don't want to be philosophical here." Naruto chuckled. 

"Haha. See? So brutally honest. Bright, fun to be with. I'm glad you're starting to be how you've always been, Naruto. Smiling, being l