"Breaking the Pattern" -- Part ISeries:
Naruto & Sasuke, also Neji/Shikamaru (reference)Word Count:
~15,000 in Three PartsWarnings/Notes:
THIS section: language, angst, D/s relationships. Story is a continuation of the "Salvation," "Breaking Point," "Breaking the Rules," and "Checkmate" series. Overall warnings: anal, oral, impact play, toys, spanking, denial, etc.Spoilers:
After Sasuke talks to Shikamaru, he begins to wonder if it's possible to change parts of himself and his relationship for the better.
NOTE: Best to read "Checkmate" and this story together.
Story is a reward for Corsetcase, as she won the annual D/s Naruto contest in the fiction category over on Y!Gallery
Uchiha Sasuke paced the length of the ballroom, vodka Kool-Aid in one hand and cell phone in the other. Window to door was twenty-five long strides, and every pass took him by a wing-backed chair and the tacky bear rug in front of the unlit fireplace. The hardwood was worn and cool under his bare feet, the house that Sasuke had called home since he was sixteen creaked beneath the gusty night winds, and Sasuke despaired that there wasn't enough vodka and Valium in the world to drown his unrelenting, compiling anxiety.
Not that he'd ever admit to another human being that he was capable of such a mundane, limp-wristed emotion. Stressed, thinking too much, overworked and underappreciated -- absolutely. Sasuke was never above anything that gave him an excuse to be perpetually pissed. He liked
pissed. Angry, enraged, irked, irritated, inconsolable -- all those things made perfect sense and were always allowed.
But… worried? Oh hell
no. That meant there was something to worry about
which was way too close to admitting that he was--
Wrong. Screwed up. A disappointment of a human being.
--misunderstood. Right. Sasuke was just perpetually maligned. By everyone. Even himself.
"Fuck," Sasuke said, conversationally, to absolutely no one.
Checking the clock for the millionth time, Sasuke sighed. It was half-past eight, Naruto was due to call from London at any moment, and in Sasuke's three-vodka drinks down stupor, he admitted to himself that he was dying to talk to Naru. If put on the rack and subjected to torture, Sasuke would deny it to the bitter end, but in truth, Sasuke needed
the man in the way Sasuke only ever needed his lover for comfort, support, reassurance--
"An ass beating," Sasuke grumbled, draining the last drop from his Old Fashioned and staggering to the mantle for a refill. He glowered at the knowing look in the dead bear's eyes -- "The hell you looking at, asshole
?" -- and tried not to remember body oil, slow kisses, long hours of kneeling, watching Naruto jerk off. Watching Naruto smile, laugh…
…stare into the distance with that goddamned wistful look that broke Sasuke's teeny tiny coal-rock of a heart into chipped fragments.
Sasuke sank onto the rug, coated his favorite pair of Diesels with two shots of alcohol and sticky kids' drink, and cussed. He swore right then and there if he ever got that damned Nara cornered, Sasuke was going to set the jerk on fire without the benefit of safewords.
Because, obviously, it was all Shikamaru's fault that Sasuke had a head full of niggling doubts over his ability to be a good partner, lover… or other things. If they'd never had that stupid conversation last Sunday in the poorly executed luxury of Neji's reception area -- if the Nara had kept his trap shut about things like weaknesses, needs, and the insane rationale behind wanting to play submissive to an uptight douche like the Hyuuga -- then Sasuke never would have connected the happiness in others' lives with the sadness in Naruto's eyes. Wouldn't have put together his brooding uneasiness with his stifled desire for self improvement because Naruto was the only human on the goddamned planet worthy of and cursed with the likes of Sasuke. And Sasuke wouldn't have had that dawning moment of realization that maybe -- just maybe -- Sasuke wanted and Naru wouldn't mind a change of pace. Maybe they even deserved it.
Yeah, without the damned Nara's interference, Sasuke could have gone on steadfastly ignoring the obvious like any sane man should.
"…I have to know what the fuck I'm talking about or we wouldn't be having this conversation… Sasuke, you're not stupid."
Draining half the glass in one gulp, Sasuke held the cut crystal aloft while he fell back on the rug hard enough to knock the wind out of his lungs. More vodka sloshed onto the rug, and Sasuke didn't care. Maybe he could wrap the Nara in the rug and then
set him on fire. Two birds, one righteous blaze.
Sasuke groaned and threw an arm over his eyes. He supposed it wasn't exactly fair to saddle Shika with all the guilt. Especially not when everyone else made such easy targets.
First it was Gai and Lee -- and who the hell ever thought that
would work? Sasuke would never have gone near that sweaty karate gi
explosion of angst waiting to happen if Sakura didn't have a memory on her like a steel trap. All those times she used to run interference for Sasuke when he couldn't bear to look Naruto in the face but had
to give the moron a piece of his mind… well, apparently they added up, and Sakura remembered the precise tally. Damn her.
But somehow those two were badly-cut-bangs deep in true love, and Sasuke swore that was the finger flick of fate that started the dominos falling. Next came pencil dick pretty boy Neji and his oh-so-observant Shikamaru. If Gai and Lee were unlikely, then those two were this year's winners of the Impossible Couples Award. The lazy ass and the OCD prince: so obviously
a match made in fuck-your-logic heaven. And they were happy, of course -- devoted, kind, supportive, and sweet enough for dental hygiene warnings.
Then along came Itachi and the Oh Take Master Twins. Sasuke shuddered, drank, and still had to admit that his brother seemed… deliriously content. Late in the night when dawn was still hours away, no one was around to see Sasuke wide awake, and his head throbbed with the beginnings of the increasingly common hangover, Sasuke could admit that he loved seeing his brother smile again. Wanted the guy less twisted and more tranquil, but it was all so hard, now, because whenever they'd go over for a visit, Naruto got that
look on the drive home.
The wouldn't it be nice if
look. The, Jesus Sasuke, why are you such a bitch
Not that Naruto ever said such things or made comparisons or even spoke negatively about either their relationship or their friends'. And maybe Sasuke could have written it off as Naruto's dom side waking up and taking notice in the presence of two such abject submissives, but that hope died a fish-flopping-on-dry-land death when Kiba called just before Naruto went out of town.
Everybody knew Kiba had taken up residence in CrazyTown when he went after Señor Psychopath. Sasuke banked on Kiba ending up dismembered in a ditch, but when he called to tell Naruto good news, Sasuke could only sit nearby and listen to his rationalizations crumble.
"Dude! Where the hell have you been?"
"Wait, what happened to your car?"
"Dogs? The fuck do you--"
"Where the hell did find the hour to make out in the first place? And how was it?"
"Shit, man, did you just use the words 'beautiful' and somebody's name in the same sentence with a straight fucking face?"
"Okay, okay… not 'straight' face, then. Yeah… yeah… I know man. I get it. Just don't do anything terminally stupid, right? I kinda like my best friends above ground and breathin'."
So now, apparently, everyone was seasick with love. Even Sasori and Deidara were their version of blissful, Iruka and Kakashi were just nauseating, and last time Sasuke laid eyes on Kuchiki and Urahara at a For the Arts Benefit, even they had that swacked been laid but good
twinkle in their eyes.
Sasuke hated them all uniformly in that intoxicated moment, and the list of people to kill was getting longer by the second. He had no idea how he'd ever find the time to do them all in and still manage beauty sleep and chores. Which reminded him: the cleaning crew was forgetting to dust the dungeon again, and God that pissed Sasuke off. He absolutely had to get that straightened out because Naruto was coming home the day after tomorrow…
…and Sasuke was pretty sure that the impending emotional Armageddon was going to take up all his free time that he usually reserved for murderous rampages.
"If Naruto hasn't left your ass on a street corner by now, he's never going to. So stop being a chicken shit and tell Naruto that you're done fighting what you want."
Fuck. Just fuck
. Why on God's paved earth did Sasuke ever open his mouth to the Nara? It was bad enough to know trouble brewed and only Sasuke could fix it. But he could barely face his own desires, much less the awesome wall of bad possible outcomes, and to have the Nara add everything up, spew forth drunken Yoda wisdom, and imply that everything would come out in the green? When Sasuke
-- the man actually in the fucking mess -- wasn't sure that was true?
Honestly, if he wasn't dunking himself in alcohol every night, Sasuke was pretty sure he'd be spending all his time consolidating prescription medicines or maybe finding some innocent animals to kick.
Because much like anxiety, Sasuke found it nigh-on impossible to admit that some third party understood his problems better than he did, much less have the right take on what Sasuke should do about it. Giving somebody that much credit was against Sasuke's religion.
Kesha's, "Your Love Is My Drug" began to play, and Sasuke yelped. He got his glass to the ground, groped for the phone, and jabbed the right portions of the screen to make it work. "Hey."
"Hey," Naruto answered, and God but he sounded awful.
"What's… is there something wrong?" Sasuke asked.
"Naw, just tired. And I still can't deal with the jetlag."
"Oh." Sasuke's mouth worked, nothing came out, and he tossed back the last of the too-sweet drink.
"The hell's wrong with you?" Naruto asked.
"What do you mean?" Suddenly Sasuke's heart was in his throat, and he gnawed the rim of the tumbler.
"You've been drunk every night since I left. You missin' me or somethin'?"
Sasuke stiffened. Yes, I miss you, moron. Want you here to tell me I'm not going to fuck us up, that you'll love me anyway, say that the Nara's right so I don't have to. Want to tell you what I want so badly I can taste it. Want you to want me so much I can't breathe. And it's not just the fucking or the Scene. It's everything. And it feels like it's going to kill me.
"Of course not," Sasuke retorted, wiping his nose on his sleeve. "Just a lot on my mind. You know."
"Uh-huh," Naruto said, the background rustling as he shifted. "Why don't you pretend I don't know and tell me about it?"
Sasuke let the empty Old Fashioned roll away and lay down on his side, knees tucked toward his chin.
"C'mon, Sas… you know I love listenin' to you talk." Sasuke snorted, and Naruto chuckled before pitching his voice low into a bad imitation of southern accent. "You got such a pretty voice, boy."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Whatever. It's bullshit. Just… thinking about stuff to do since you're gone all the time."
"Like what?" Naruto asked, not rising to the barb, and Sasuke felt a coil of tension unwind in his guts.
"I don't know," Sasuke mumbled. "Maybe the gym or something. Train again."
"You want to spend time with Gai and Lee?" Naruto asked, voice slow with incredulity.
"Hell no. Not that dojo -- the other place downtown. Victory."
"Oh," Naruto sighed. "For a second there I thought you'd lost what little mind you've got left."No. Not yet.
"Fuck you," Sasuke said lovingly. "Saw Sasori the other day. He goes to Victory."
"Oh, and he'd make an awesome gym buddy."
A dead man wouldn't miss the tone. "He's not that bad."
"Are we talkin' about the same guy? Redhead? Creepy fucker? Likes to torture people in the name of beauty?"
"It's not torture. And you could do with your ass waxed, by the way."
Naruto laughed. "Well, you'd know."
For some reason that put Sasuke on the defensive, and he didn't bother reasoning through it. "Yeah. I would. And while we're talking about people you don't like, I'm doing some work for Hidan."
"I don't fucking believe it," Naruto said, and it was on the tip of Sasuke's tongue to tell Naruto off, to articulate exactly how Sasuke felt about Naruto's stark view of humanity, and to hang up, but Naruto's mock gasp gave Sasuke pause.
"You? Work? You're shittin' me."
Sasuke yanked the phone away from his ear, jaw clenching to trap words he didn't want to say and emotions he didn't want to feel. He heard Naruto calling his name, and Sasuke dragged the phone back to listen.
"I'm teasing, baby," Naruto said.
"Whatever." Sasuke fisted the rug, pulled at the nap.
"What are you doing for him?"
"Nothing." Curling tighter into a ball, Sasuke wished the pitcher of oblivion was closer. Wished the contents would actually do their job for once.
"Sas… I'm sorry." And the voice was so gentle, Sasuke scrunched his eyes shut in the vain hope that blocking vision would somehow block hearing. "Please tell me?"
"Artwork," Sasuke mumbled.
"Ran into Hidan and the gang at the art benefit. He wanted to find this rare Sai painting depicting a bondage scene." Sasuke swallowed. "Figured I'd ask Itachi if he could put me in touch with the guy who finds pieces for his collection and… you know…"
"That's great!" Naruto said, and Sasuke winced at the enthusiasm, though he knew it was both genuine in intent despite being forced in execution; Naruto was exhausted. "You thinkin' of maybe doing that more often? I know you found that sculpture thing for Kisame."
Sasuke shrugged to himself. "Maybe."
"Well. I think it'd be amazing if you did. Give you something to do that you're great at. Help people out." Naruto paused when Sasuke didn't answer. "I’m proud of you."
Shivering at the dropped tone and careful inflection at once so familiar and yet still damned effective, Sasuke licked his lips as his pulse sped up. "Proud of me?" He tried to make the words derisive, but they came out curious, instead.
"Sure. You're brilliant at anything you put your mind to, Sas."
The praise made the dam Sasuke tried to sandbag begin to bow. If Naruto didn't have a problem with Sasuke working or hanging out with people Naruto didn't even really like
, then... maybe he really wouldn't mind Less Bitchy Sasuke, Beta Version, and somehow everything would be all right. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps.
"Hidan said there's a group going to a convention next month?" Sasuke said the words, clapped a hand over his mouth, and had an answer for a question long undecided: temporary demonic possession was, indeed, possible.
Sheer terror stole Sasuke's voice and the anger that followed made spots of black taint his world's view. He had no idea why he brought that up. Sure, he had a conversation with Dei and Hidan at the benefit about the training seminar on the West Coast. And yes, Sasuke gave it some thought afterward, but not seriously. And he'd never actually bring such a thing up to Naruto. Not now
. Hell, not ever. It implied that Sasuke considered improvement, which meant deficiency, which meant that Naruto would--
"Just checkin'. You all right?"
"Fine. Just. Nearly spilled my… drink."
"Oh. Okay. So, what kind of convention?"
Now Naruto sounded interested -- gamer geek kind of interested -- and Sasuke beat his head against the floor. It helped. "You wouldn't want to go."
"Because Hidan and Kakazu and that crowd's going or…?"
"N-no." Sasuke bit his tongue. Stammering was entirely not allowed. He screwed up courage, though still all he could manage was a whisper: "It's a sub thing." Sasuke's teeth clacked shut, and he prayed Naruto wouldn't make him repeat himself.
"Oh…" Naruto said. "So that's why you're… and why you sound so…"
"Why I'm what?" Sasuke hissed.
"Drinking. And tense."
Sasuke wanted to throw the phone, cry, and scream. But he didn't know the proper order, so he settled for making his lip bleed.
"Did you want to go?" Naruto asked.
"No!" Sasuke barked, and at least that was the truth.
"Then why'd you bring it up?"
And still the man was merely inquisitive; calm. Not angry or upset or anything he should be, and Sasuke didn't know if he hated himself or Naruto more. "I don't know!"
"All right," Naruto called back, louder, and that satisfied Sasuke on some level. "It's not like I'd make you go to one of those things, Sas."
Sitting up, Sasuke shoved hair out of his face and watched a tree branch claw at the window across the room. God, make me go. Tell me I need training and help and somebody to show me how to behave because I keep disappointing you. Tell me you'd love me more if I did it. Tell me you love me anyway if I don't. Tell me why you won't make me, why you put up with this, why I feel so awful, and get home so you can hold me.
"Good," Sasuke said in a huff.
"I mean… Sas, you don't need strangers telling you how to be submissive. We could talk over anything you're worried about or wanted to--"
"It just struck me as humorous that Hidan brought it up is all," Sasuke said, smooth as silk. "Jesus. Hidan. What a handful."
"Yeah…" Naruto agreed, but distracted, and it worried Sasuke when Naruto began to sound that kind of thoughtful.
"Tell me about your day."
"Eh… it was boring. Though there's this guy here you'd think was hot as fuck." And off Naruto went expounding on the details -- glamorous, humorous, banal -- of his work, the trip, his plans. Sasuke listened, curled up into a ball on the floor with his eyes closed. The more Naruto talked, the calmer Sasuke felt, and he let his mind go blank. He let go of Naruto's pinched expressions and his own uncharacteristic self-doubt.
Stupid. It was all so stupid
, and he was totally -- absolutely and entirely -- going to kill the Nara.~*~
Sasuke craned his neck to see the clock: three a.m., the devil's hour. Dawn too far away, all's silent except the voices in one's head, and the options for personal torment include the Home Shopping Network or straight porn.
Cursing, Sasuke sat up, threw a pillow across the room, and hugged his knees. He looked left and saw Naruto's empty side of the bed, saw his laptop lying closed, and Sasuke considered jerking off again but the thought made him irrationally angry. He turned to the nightstand and saw the stack of books he kept there, but his brain felt full of red fog, eyes full of black sand, and somehow Sasuke didn't think Stephen King was going to help right now. He fell sideways onto the mattress, fisted his phone, and thought about dialing Naruto. It was eight a.m. in London, and Naruto would take the call no matter what. Maybe it would help…
…maybe it wouldn't.
Sasuke's head ached, and he gnashed his teeth at indecision. He hadn't lost this much sleep since the night before the damned poker tournament at Break, and that all had to do with excitement and nothing to do with this… this… whatever the hell.
And thinking about the tournament night was yet another classically bad idea. Sasuke dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets, trying to shove the memory of failures past out of his brain. The caning in the private room, the tower, Kiba and the flogger, the deal making, the anger, Naruto spanking--
Apparently, the world really did
revolve around the Nara. Began and ended with the asshole's existence. "Oh my fucking God," Sasuke gasped, sitting up. "You… you bastard
The sound of a bare palm hitting the Nara's skin echoed in Sasuke's head as he frantically hit buttons on his phone. The soft whine Shikamaru made when Naruto bent to speak in the Nara's ear sent shockwaves of rage down Sasuke's spine as the call went through. The damnable man's smile when Neji lovingly praised Shika flickered behind Sasuke's tightly-shut eyelids as the ringing continued: three… four…
"Mm'llo?" said a muffled, sleepy, confused voice.
"Listen, asshole, this is all your fault, so wake the hell up," Sasuke demanded.
"No," Shikamaru said and hung up.
Sasuke cried out in inarticulate rage, vibrating with it before he got his wits together. "Oh no you didn't
," Sasuke cried and redialed.
"What?" Shikamaru said when he answered a second time.
"You hung up on me!"
"Who the fuck is
"It's Sasuke, you dipshit."
The Nara had the audacity to sound like the two men had never been properly introduced. "Yes. Sasuke. Uchiha Sasuke. Naruto's boyfriend? You may remember me," Sasuke said in a honeyed voice. "We've only known each other since we were kissing boys on the playground."
"How the hell did you get this number?"
"The fuck does that matter?" Sasuke heard movement and murmuring in the background. He rolled his eyes. "Tell pretty boy to give you an extra foot of leash right now. I need to talk."
Sasuke threw up one arm. "No. To the other
Nara Shikamaru I'm calling at two in the goddamned morning. Get your brain out of Neji's ass and online Nara."
"You know," Shikamaru said. "As fun as this is, I think I'm going to have to--"
"Don't you dare
." Sasuke pressed his lips next to the tiny speaker. "You started this. You have to help me finish it."
"I don't have to do a damned..." Shikamaru stopped his idiotic denials and paused. "Wait… is this about… Did you tell Naruto what you really--"
Oh, finally the idiot found a dollop of sense. "Not yet." Sasuke sat up straighter and tugged at the top sheet.
"Okay," Shikamaru dragged out the vowels in a lazy drawl. "So if you've not done that, then what the hell is your--"
"You!" Sasuke stood up on the mattress, trying to control the urge to screech at the overgrown redneck dimwit who was both the problem and the solution. "You're my goddamned problem. You drop these landmines about changing things up with Naruto like you're some kind of bloody relationship whisperer and just expect me to--"
"Sasuke. This is Neji." The Hyuuga didn't seem particularly pleased about that fact, and Sasuke went silent in muted shock. He fucking hated
that dick's voice. It just… did things to him that Sasuke didn't want to think about or admit.
"While I respect your right to have a shit fit, you will not do it at such a time as it disturbs my rest, nor will you ever -- ever -- call my home or my lover in the middle of the night and yell at him because you're too infantile to ask for something nicely at a sane hour."
Sasuke spluttered, but there were too many angry retorts jockeying for first place out of the gate, and Neji got the next word in edgewise. "Do not
say something to make me angrier than I already am, boy," Neji growled, and Sasuke stood rigid in the dark on the feather mattress and shook all over.
"Good." Neji sighed. "Shikamaru will meet you at the coffee shop in Fashion Square tomorrow at eleven thirty. You will be polite. You will have some idea of what you need to discuss with my Shika. You will not
be late. And you will not
be a prick because it would greatly
aggravate me to explain to Naruto why I've changed my mind about supporting his pet Congressman come election next, or why
your name is blacklisted in every hot spot in town, or why
I've revoked your pass into Bliss and Break for the next fucking year
." Neji paused for effect, all carefully contained fury gone from his purring voice when he deigned to communicate again. "Now then. Do we understand one another… boy?"
It was one of those moments that Sasuke dearly hated: The Royal Fuck Up Part Six Million and Four. It was impressive, really: perfect scores on private school's entrance exams and every standardized test possible. Acceptance to multiple Ivy League schools both domestic and abroad. Aptitude off the charts for everything from writing to business to marital arts -- and awards in all of the above to support the ability -- and yet through some unfortunate accident of fate Sasuke just couldn't get a handle on even a limited emotional scale or figure out how to interact with humanity without hurting somebody.
Sasuke's breathing hitched, he heard an exasperated noise on the line, and he felt roughly two inches tall and buried under a mountain range of self-loathing.
"Sasuke?" Neji asked again, moderately gentler but still full of chilly iron. "Answer me."
"Yes," Sasuke muttered, quickly anticipated Neji's next complaint and rushed to continue: "Yes, Sir
. I'm…" God, but he just couldn't make himself say it.
"Very well, then," Neji droned. "Good night, Uchiha."
The call ended, Sasuke fell into a heap of bedclothes and silk pajamas, and after thirty minutes of drowning in an emotional tsunami, Sasuke slurred a nasty curse at sleep, got up, and headed toward the gym and espresso machine.~*~