The hard part comes when no one else is around. When the nights silence begs him to think. More than he allows himself to in the day. Because the only thing on his mind then is to protect. Protect the village. Protect his family. Finally, to an extent. Protect Naruto Uzumaki.
Of course, Naruto can handle himself. That doesn’t mean Sasuke will risk anything less for his safety. It may be reckless to some. That Sasuke would give his life so quickly for someone. Someone who is so well protected already.
He knows that. Just like he knows why people stare at him. Whispers in the village no longer about his clan. Only about the reasons behind him and Sakuras marriage. He draws the line when it comes to Sarada. No one has any business talking about his daughter.
Him and Sakura agreed to have a child. Sakura does not love him that way anymore. She hasn’t for a long time. They had Sarada not only to support Sasukes quest, but to make Sakura a mother. She doesn’t want any sort of relationship. She probably won’t want one for a very long time. The only thing she wanted most in the world was a baby to call her own. If Sasuke was being honest, he wanted a child just as much. Sarada was perfect in his eyes.
While Naruto couldn’t help Sasuke on his quest. He can help Sasuke himself. With his internal battles and self hatred. Hinata and Naruto had come out as poly a long time ago. So he let himself have a foolish hope. That maybe Naruto felt the same.
It seems ridiculous that someone like Sasuke would have a crush. After years of pining and lost time though, is it even a crush? He can say with certainty now that he loves Naruto. He had always known, just couldn’t admit that to himself. Didn’t want to, it would only hold him back.
The now gentle and calm Sasuke knows better. Naruto would never hate him for loving him. He would probably smile, and realistically, feel the same. Those lingering glances and mentions that Hinata had cleared him long ago. Cleared what? Well Sasuke didn’t know. Cleared him to love Naruto is what wasn’t said. At least that’s what he gathered from that conversation.
So when Naruto sends a letter to him in the middle of the night. Detailing the many reasons Sasuke should come visit him. He can’t bring himself to deny his feelings much longer. The least he could do for himself is let them out. Whether Naruto accepted or not, Sasuke knew he would be fine with it.
They had gotten used to dancing around eachother. So if Naruto wasn’t ready yet, or really didn’t love him anymore. Sasuke could take that. They’ve been this way since they were kids. Secretly begging for the others attention. Never knowing what to say. While Naruto had eventually figured it out. Sasuke just ran away. He ran away like he did with everything else.
This time he won’t run away. Naruto deserves more than that. More than Sasuke can provide for him. He thought of himself this time. Once he would have decided himself inferior and a horrible choice for Narutos affections. Now, he’s slowly learning that being selfish sometimes is ok. That wanting Naruto to feel the same is ok.
To believe that wanting to marry Naruto and call him his husband is ok. Hinata would be thrilled, as she’s stated multiple times. Supporting Sasuke even when he wouldn’t out right tell her how much he loved her husband. Sakura had always known. She would not be shocked in the least. The rest of the village may be in a frenzy.
Really what did any of that matter though? If him and Naruto are happy. Nothing else would matter.
So Sasuke stands himself up from that tree branch. Adjusting his cloak and checking his surroundings. Leaping from the tree he had chosen to think in that night.
He began his journey back to Konoha. Back to his family. Most importantly, back to Naruto.
No more shying away from the subject. No report on the Otsutsuki. This would be the first time. The first time he would come home only for himself. Not for anyone or anything else. Because he learned to love himself again. That he could be enough for Naruto.
He’s on his way.