It Takes Time

BY : Sasunarufan13
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 207
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor make profit of it. Kishimoto owns it.

Author's note: So we enter the xth week of me feeling tired as hell. I finally managed to finish this oneshot at least - something which I apparently started four years ago, so yay, my wonderful time management - so have this while I'm still working on the rest of my projects. Something small to tie you over? *winces*

Warnings: Sasuke's pov; set right after the war; established slash; implied mature content; implied panic attacks; smidgen of angst

I hope you'll like this!

It Takes Time

Like clockwork it happened again.

Rain was streaming down the windows, pooling together at the bottom. Lightning cleaved through the dark night, briefly illuminating the living room where the man was standing in front of the window. The thick branches of the oak tree in the back of the garden swayed back and forth as the wind howled loudly, smashing into the house. Thunder struck, heavy enough to make the windows rattle slightly.

The storm was particularly heavy tonight.

Above him, on the first floor there, there were stumbling sounds. The door was yanked open, the hinges creaking loudly, and footsteps hurried down the stairs; naked feet tapping on the wooden steps. The breathing of the other one was very audible, sounding like he was on the verge of hyperventilation.

Footsteps halted in front of the living room, as if the owner of them was hesitating. Then the doorknob went down and the door opened slowly; the sound of it drowned out by the next thunder clap.

"Storm is heavy tonight," Sasuke said mildly, hand resting on the ice cold windowsill.

"Ah, yeah, it is," Naruto muttered; his breathing was slowly turning normal again. "Did it – is that the reason why you're here?"

The dark haired man shrugged. "Couldn't sleep," he admitted easily. Restless nights were almost a given. "Did it wake you up?" he asked idly. Thunder continued rolling somewhere in the distance. His fingers twitched; opening the window and smelling the fresh scent of the storm would be nice, but he knew better than to do that now.

Naruto made a non-committal grunt; he didn't move from his spot in the doorway. He kept lingering there; blue eyes trained on the dark haired man.

"You have an early meeting with the council," Sasuke said calmly; eyes tracing one of the big rain drops shimmying its way down the glass. "Why don't you go back to bed?"

"The bed is cold," Naruto mumbled and there was the sound of clothes rustling as he moved his arms. He still hadn't come closer.

"It wouldn't be if you stayed in it," the dark haired man remarked a tad amused.

"Yeah, well, in spite of what you claim, bastard, I don't take over the entire bed, so there's still half of it that keeps being cold," the Jinchuuriki complained and the subdued tone that had lingered in his voice was completely gone now.

"You're such a baby," Sasuke sighed and turned around, leaning back against the windowsill, feeling the edge of it digging into his lower back.

"Am not," the blond grumbled and scowled. "You coming back or not?"

Sasuke snorted and shook his head. "You're going to keep whining otherwise."

"I don't whine!" Despite the snappish tone, a tanned hand reached out – almost tentatively – and the blond man took several steps closer.

Black and purple eyes rolled, but Sasuke linked their fingers together and led himself be tugged along. Up the stairs, hearing the steps groan underneath their feet, down the hallway, into the bedroom.

A pillow laid discarded on the floor and the blankets were pushed back in a crumpled mess. Lightning flashed through the curtains, casting a bluish sheen over the bed for a few seconds.

Naruto snatched the pillow off the ground, throwing it back on the bed, and only released Sasuke's hand so that he could climb into the bed, dragging the blankets over his body. Dark blue eyes regarded him intently as Sasuke walked to the other side of the bed and sank down in it. The blankets felt cool against his skin when he pulled them to his shoulders. He barely had time to lay down comfortably before Naruto threw an arm over his torso and a leg around his hips, effectively trapping him. A cold nose pressed into the junction where his neck met his shoulder and warm breath tingled across his skin as the blond sighed softly.

A dark chuckle left him. "I'm not going anywhere," he murmured, wrinkling his nose when blond hair tickled his jaw.

"I know," Naruto whispered, but all the same his fingers tightened around Sasuke's waist.

No, you don't.

The unspoken words hung heavily between them. Naruto didn't know, didn't let himself know, but it was something he didn't want to admit.

Naruto kept a firm grip on him the rest of the night, even in his sleep.

Just like every night.

Nothing appeared wrong at first, which was why it took him by surprise when it happened.

After several long arguments – one which had ended up in screaming matches, but neither of them had left at all, which should have been the first warning sign – they had agreed on living deep in the woods, which separated Konoha from Suna. Naruto was unwilling to leave Konoha completely behind, but Sasuke had no interest at all in staying at a place which had condemned his entire family to death and had forced his brother into a villain's role.

So they compromised: far enough from Konoha that Sasuke was at peace, no longer feeling like he was going to suffocate by just merely breathing in the air there, yet still close enough that Naruto could easily visit his friends.

The whole visiting friends part should have been the second warning sign in hindsight. Not that it was odd for Naruto to want to see his friends – the blond thrived on being surrounded by other people after all – but it was strange that he no longer accepted missions. Or well, to be more precise he no longer accepted missions that would take longer than a day to finish.

Sasuke didn't pay much attention to that fact at first. After having had his arm blown off in his fight with Naruto when his body had had yet to heal from the war itself, he spent the first few weeks after coming to live in the cottage healing and getting used to having one arm less. Tsunade had offered to create a new arm for him, having extended the offer to Naruto as well, but unlike the Jinchuuriki, Sasuke wasn't interested in having a new arm. The missing limb reminded him of how close he had come to losing everything that was dear to him and it was a reminder he was unwilling to forget, for fear of what would happen otherwise.

He'd lost himself to the darkness once before – he wasn't going to give it another chance to take hold of him, not after all that Naruto had done for him.

Immersed as he was in figuring out how exactly to go about fighting with one arm missing, it escaped his attention for the most part that Naruto wasn't sent on extended missions, not even after he already had fully healed.

Oh, at some level he was aware that something was off, wondered whether Kakashi was just being extra careful with Naruto now, but he was too focused on training to be really concerned with it.

Until it happened.

He had completely lost track of time. Normally he already had ended his training and had taken a shower by the time Naruto came stumbling back home, but tonight he'd been so focused on performing his Chidori perfectly with his right hand that he hadn't paid any attention to the time or even the sky slowly darkening.

When the first raindrops splattered apart across his forehead, he frowned and lowered his hand, letting the half formed Chidori sizzle out.

"Tch," he uttered annoyed, realising he would have to stop now.

Sure, he'd used his Chidori in bad weather before, but he was still working on his control and he wasn't in the mood to listen to Naruto's gleeful comments if he accidentally set part of the woods on fire.

Snatching the towel from the wooden bench, he wiped his face with it and turned around, about to walk back to the house. He had barely taken a couple of steps when the backdoor suddenly slammed open, revealing a wild-eyed, pale looking Naruto.

Blue eyes roved across the garden quickly, the blond looking on the verge of panicking, before his gaze landed on Sasuke. At once his shoulders sagged, as if tension was abruptly released from them.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Sasuke asked, furrowing his eyebrows. "Did something happen?"

It couldn't be any enemies trailing after Naruto. As immersed as he had been in his training, he would have felt it if someone had been following Naruto to their home.

"What-what the hell is wrong with me?" Naruto sputtered, bracing his hands against the doorframe. "What the hell is wrong with you? You're the one still training like a lunatic this late in the evening!"

Sasuke looked up pointedly at the sky, which was only just darkening. "Unless time and nature are suddenly in disagreement, I don't think it's that late yet."

"Well, you're still outside!" Naruto shot back non-sensical, waving his arms wildly.

"Yes, because I lost track of time for a bit," Sasuke said slowly, staring at him bemused. "Why are you acting so strange?"

"I'm not acting strange, you are!" Naruto snapped and stormed back inside before the other man could reply.

Sasuke remained standing there, completely befuddled. What the hell had just happened?

That wasn't the only time Naruto acted off.

After that first outburst, he started paying closer attention to the blond and he started noticing more things that were off.

How Naruto came home every evening, never taking missions that lasted longer than a day. How upon returning, he immediately sought out Sasuke, only relaxing when he found him. How he clamped on to Sasuke during the nights, his grip only loosening the slightest when he was in a deep sleep – the latter which didn't happen that often anymore. Naruto had always been a relatively deep sleeper from what he could remember, which made the sudden change even more noticeable.

Sasuke didn't understand what was going on and that frustrated him. While Naruto acted like mostly himself, all the little things he'd started noticing recently didn't add up at all. He felt like he was missing something obvious, something that was clear to everyone else but him, and it led to him destroying several trees in pure frustration.

What on earth was he missing?

"You know, I've been wondering," he said slowly, watching Naruto shimmy out of his clothes.

The light bout of rain this afternoon had made way for a heavy downpour in the evening; the rain nothing but a loud hissing noise through the cracked open window. Occasionally lightning cleaved through the air, cracking the sky into two before thunder would roll over a little while later. It didn't sound like the storm would be over soon.

"About what?" Naruto asked, squawking when he nearly tripped over his trousers. He managed to keep upright by grabbing one of the bedposts, sighing in relief.

"If there's something on your mind – you would tell me, right?" Sasuke questioned, leaning back on his hands when Naruto came to stand between his spread legs, clad in nothing but his underwear.

Placing his hands on Sasuke's shoulders, Naruto cocked his head to the left, eyeing him bemused. "Where's this coming from? I thought you were the emotional stunted one between the two of us?" he jested, grinning to show he was just teasing and not being serious.

The dark haired man ignored the teasing. "I don't want you to think you have to keep anything to yourself. If you want or need to talk – I'm here."

Blue eyes softened just a fraction. "I know," Naruto murmured and a weird, melancholic smile crossed his face briefly before he lowered his head and kissed Sasuke.

Nothing else was said anymore, save for the whispering of the sheets when they fell back on them, rough fingertips gliding and dancing across naked skin, eliciting soft moans and cut off whimpers.

Sasuke swallowed Naruto's gasp when he pushed inside him, holding darkened blue eyes as he slid deeper and deeper, filling the younger man completely. They slipped close when he started moving, the rhythm slow but deep, pulling pleased sighs from the blond.

Here, surrounded by Naruto's heat, feeling his lips pliant but eager against his, listening to the sighs and the moans escaping a kiss bruised mouth, it was easy to forget that something was wrong, that Naruto wasn't behaving completely like he should.

When Naruto grasped his shoulders tightly, groaning out Sasuke's name when he came, spilling between them, his body shuddering and quaking underneath Sasuke, nothing seemed amiss.

Afterwards Naruto practically plastered himself against his side, one arm thrown across his stomach, one leg strewn across his thighs, and kissed his shoulder sweetly before falling into an exhausted sleep.

Sasuke remained awake a little while longer, listening to the thunder rolling into the distance; the rain not that heavy anymore.

The answer, ironically, was given to him by the Kazekage of all people.

Gaara showed up out of the blue four months after the war had ended. He was completely alone, a fact which had Sasuke staring at him in silence for a moment, surprised and wary at the unexpected visit.

"Naruto's not here yet," he informed the red haired man, leaning his shoulder against the doorframe. "He'll be likely back in one or two hours."

"That's fine," Gaara said calmly. "I can wait if you don't mind."

"Is this about something important?" Sasuke questioned. "New enemy on the rise?"

"If there is one, I haven't been informed about it yet," Gaara answered dryly. "No, I'm just here for a regular visit, that's all. I haven't spoken to Naruto for a while and I needed to be in Konoha anyway to discuss an upcoming Kage meeting."

"Without your guards?"

"I told Kankuro and Temari to go on ahead. I think we're past getting into fights, aren't we?" Green eyes stared unnervingly blank at him and Sasuke clucked his tongue annoyed.

"Fine, come inside. You can wait in the living room." Sasuke stepped aside, allowing the other man to enter the home.

He couldn't help but feel tense around the Kazekage, remembering that last time they had encountered each other, they had been trying to kill each other.

"I heard you're not taking up any missions," Gaara remarked out of the blue after Sasuke had prepared some tea for the both of them.

Awkward acquaintances at best they might be, but Sasuke still remembered the lessons his mother had instilled in him how to receive guests and he knew Naruto was friends with the guy. He might as well be polite to him.

"No, I'm not interested in working for Konoha," Sasuke replied shortly.

Gaara nodded in understanding. "Yes, I can imagine why," he murmured. "I presume Naruto does his missions with Haruno and Sai then?"

"Given that his missions never last longer than a day anymore, I doubt they really need a whole team to pull them off," Sasuke snorted, leaning back in the armchair. He was itching to return to his training, but he also didn't want to leave Gaara alone in the cottage.

Green eyes sharpened. "He doesn't take up longer missions? Hasn't he fully healed yet?"

"He has, but so far his missions aren't longer than a day at most," Sasuke replied. "I've asked him about it, but he's annoyingly evasive about it." He scowled, resting his head against his remaining hand.

"Perhaps the Hokage is training him to be his successor?" Gaara suggested, frowning slightly.

"If that's the case, he's oddly quiet about it as well," Sasuke said. "I doubt he would be able to keep his mouth shut if Kakashi was training him. Hell knows he's been yapping about becoming Hokage long enough by now."

There was no way Naruto would be able to keep it to himself if Kakashi had decided to start training him to take over. He would be bouncing off the walls if he tried to keep silent about that.

"So what does he do then?"

"Take up one-day missions apparently and return here in the evening."

"And you never questioned him about that?"

Instantly Sasuke's hackles were raised. "You think I haven't?" he spat, straightening up. "I told you he's being evasive about this! He's been acting weird for a while now, but he doesn't want to tell me anything."

That hurt, he had to admit. He thought that their conversation after their fight had made it clear that they were both on the same pace now, that they could confide into each other about whatever was on their mind. The gods knew Naruto had been insistent about that enough.

"Weird how?" Gaara asked curiously.

Sasuke released his breath slowly. "Just – the way he acts when he comes home every time he leaves the house. How he – how he doesn't stop searching for me until he knows where I am. If I'm not here by the time he gets home, he, I don't know, he gets nervous? More jumpy too. He's not completely acting like himself and I can't figure out what's wrong," he admitted begrudgingly.

"Maybe he's …" Gaara cut himself off, frowning even harder.

"Maybe he's what?" Sasuke eyed him; a frown of his own starting to form.

Gaara leant forwards, his sand idly swirling around his feet. "Perhaps he's worried that he'll come home one day to find you gone again?" he suggested tentatively.

"Gone? Why on earth would I be gone?" Sasuke asked incredulously. "Why would he be worried about that? That's stupid."

"You did leave him for three years," Gaara pointed out quietly. "You ever thought that might have affected him more than he lets on?"

"That's - " Sasuke started before he quietened down and really considered Gaara's words.

Could that be really it? Naruto's behaviour, the way he almost seemed to panic every time he couldn't immediately find Sasuke when he came home, how his embrace was almost suffocatingly tight during the night …

Was all that because Naruto was afraid he would leave again?

There was no way Naruto would ever admit that he was afraid to lose Sasuke again. For all that the Jinchuuriki was loud and boisterous, he wasn't one to admit he was afraid of something, least of all if that something was losing his best friend again.

Sasuke wasn't planning on leaving again – but how could he make that clear to Naruto?

They were entangled on the couch, listening to the rain pitter pattering outside, joined by the last songs of the birds before they would go to sleep, making way for the nightlife.

His one arm resting around Naruto's stomach, he listened to the younger man's soft breathing, watching his chest gently rise up and down. The blond hair was still a bit damp from the shower Naruto had taken earlier and he'd taken to draw random patterns across Sasuke's arm. The white bandages covered his newly created arm, stark against the rest of his tanned skin.

"Say, Naruto," he murmured and the blond hummed, sounding drowsy.

"I'm not going to leave you. Not now. Not ever. Not again."

The declaration hung suspended between them for a while; Naruto appearing to have stopped breathing for a moment.

"I'll be here for as long as you want me," Sasuke promised.

"I know," Naruto said, breathing again. "I know. You're stuck with me, remember?" His grin was weak at the edges, a fine tremor going through his hands when his fingers tightened around Sasuke's wrist.

Sasuke kissed his temple and embraced Naruto closer; the man relaxing against him after a couple of seconds.

It would probably take a long time before Naruto got past his fear, before he would completely trust that Sasuke wouldn't leave again. It would take time before Naruto would stop panicking every time he couldn't find Sasuke immediately.

That was fine. Sasuke could wait. They had all the time in the world now. He would wait as long as needed and he would prove that he would stay with Naruto.

Day after day, for the rest of their lives.

The End

AN2: I'm not exactly sure anymore how I came up with this plot, but I wanted to explore how they would have progressed if they had stayed together instead of Sasuke leaving again. I feel like it wouldn't be that farfetched to imagine Naruto might have developed some issues with abandonment.

So yes, this fic resulted from that. Please leave your thoughts behind in a review; should you spot any mistakes, please point them out to me.

I hope to see you all back in my future stories! Please stay safe and take care of yourselves!



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