|...in the library with the...
||[Jan. 8th, 2007|06:02 pm]
Characters: Neji and Sasuke
Setting: The New Orleans public library
Time: Around 9 pm.
Warnings: There is shounen-ai in this one. ^_^
Summary: Neji and Sasuke meet in the library one evening... and there is some tension.
Sasuke’s eyes drifted back and forth between the open book before him and the notebook which was quickly being filled with numbers and equations. The calculator was right there on his left, but the Uchiha didn’t use it. These formulas were easy and the numbers weren’t so outrageously large that he couldn’t do it in his head. It was all a matter of logic and deduction.
The bright neon light overhead cast his shadow on the notebook, making it a little hard to see, but he managed. There weren’t many people left in the library, so it was fairly quiet. And Sasuke liked it. He liked staying in the library until it closed, ten at the latest for some days. It was the best environment to work in, and he had resources close by and easy for access. No children, too. That was always a good thing. He disliked children.
Fingers slowed and he stopped writing, back reclining against the chair as he stretched, then glanced at the clock on the wall. Nine. An hour more and he would have to go home. The homework was about done. Wasn’t that hard. Maybe he should take a rest and read a book. Yep. He should. So he stood up and pushed the chair out of the way, then stepped towards the fiction area.
It just so happened that Neji was presently lounging in a large armchair in the fiction area, perusing an old copy of Crime and Punishment. He had read the book before, in his advanced English class in high school, and had enjoyed it. This was odd, apparently, because he had gotten many strange looks from other patrons of his own age; most people like Neji would spend their evening off drinking or going out, not sitting in a library reading long Russian novels. He had reached the point where the protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, had killed the landlady and her sister, and was now attempting to destroy all of the evidence.
Looking up from his book momentarily, Neji spied a familiar face… Uchiha Sasuke. Given the younger man’s current occupation as a student, Neji guessed that he wasn’t here for pleasure. If the bored expression on his face was any indication, he had most likely been doing homework.
Dark eyes scanned the rows of volumes, trying to find a title that would spark an interest. So far, nothing yet. Every summary he had read had been too overused and cliché. Sasuke didn’t want to read these trash. He scowled, and pulled a heavy-looking book down from the top shelf, flipped the cover over, and quickly scanned the text on the inside. Romance. Nope.
At the end of the aisle, Sasuke found nothing. Maybe he was just being picky, or maybe the library’s collection of books just sucked. A sigh left his lips and he turned, walking down the next aisle. The air was especially cold here. Air conditioning vent right above. He pulled the collar of his sweater on a little higher in response to the sudden drop in temperature. A little sensitive to the cold, that he was.
And so finally, he decided on “In Cold Blood.” It didn’t look too bad. And murder. Sasuke was interested in murders. He shouldn’t have been, but he was, as twisted as it seemed. So he held the book and walked back to his desk.
Neji watched all of this closely, raising his eyebrow at the title of the book. It wasn’t one he was familiar with, but it sounded… creepy. Then again, in some respects, his book was rather creepy as well… he was about to get to the part where Raskolnikov became ill and began to suspect everyone of suspecting him (and rightly so.)
And sometimes creepy could be interesting… in books, anyway.
He stood up from his chair, holding a finger in between the pages of his book to mark his place… Neji would never fold the pages of a book, especially one he didn’t own, unless he absolutely had to. “Sasuke,” he said, his voice low.
The Uchiha looked up just as he was about to take his seat at the desk, eyes locking into the other's white orbs. He was seeing this guy everywhere, it seemed. It hadn't been long since Halloween, either. Was it such a damn tiny world or what?
He replied, nodding and sliding into the chair, the book placed neatly on the desk as his textbooks were closed and pushed aside. He should offer the guy a seat. Common courtesy. Hn. Sasuke still couldn't figure out why Neji would want to talk to him. They had never had a decent conversation - except for that one time on Post Blue's roof, but that didn't really count, he was stuck there because of the rain - a voluntary one anyway.
"What is it?"
“Nothing, just wanted to say hello,” the longhaired youth replied. As he smiled to himself, Neji realized that Sasuke was possibly the most antisocial person he’d ever met. Neji himself had been very antisocial in school, but he’d made a few friends; in particular he remembered a teacher who had come from somewhere in California during his first year in middle school. He’d been one of the few people on at the school, including most of the teachers, who could actually hold a conversation in English, and initially that was the only reason that Neji had even talked to him; the Hyuuga had become sick of the repetitious dialogues in his English class. The man had been the first to pay attention to the fact that the normal Japanese English classes were poorly suited for Neji’s needs, and it was through his efforts that Neji had ended up taking English classes at a school for native English speakers, mainly the children of American soldiers who were stationed in Japan. And that was where Neji had read Crime and Punishment.
Sasuke seemed very much the same… he wouldn’t talk to anyone unless he had a very good reason. Neji wasn’t entirely sure why he kept trying to give him reasons… other than the fact that they kept running into each other. Perhaps he saw the other boy’s closed-off nature as a challenge, and maybe he felt some amount of pity after finding out that most of Sasuke’s family was dead. But try as he might, Neji couldn’t escape the fact that there was something undeniably attractive about Sasuke. He had never placed any great importance on gender when considering a person’s attractiveness and this was part of the reason why he had run away from his uncle; though Neji might not think it made a difference if his lover was male or female, Hiashi certainly would. Now, he had found someone who was both attractive and male, and the fact that he was not in Japan would make this a little easier.
The only remaining matter was to get Sasuke to talk.
“What are you reading?”
An eyebrow raised, but Sasuke said nothing. Eyes withdrawing from the other’s face, he leaned back against the chair and drummed his fingers on the desk. Normally, if other people that he did not know well came over and started a conversation, Sasuke would either ignore them, answer very little, or just plain out tell them to leave. He didn’t dwell much on subtlety. Too many things had happened for him to bother being polite to other people. The only person that he had hung around with for a decent amount of time was Naruto, and with that idiot, subtlety was out of the question. They exchanged insults more often than most, after all.
But to say that he didn’t like Neji’s company would be a lie. He didn’t dislike it. Somehow, it was almost peaceful, even. There was a sense of serenity in the white-eyed boy that was entirely different from most people Sasuke had interacted with. Sasuke decided that he liked it. Just like the libraries. Quiet, calm, and composed. Exact opposite of Naruto. A nice change that he would like to enjoy once in a while.
Most of all, Neji didn’t seem like an idiot.
“I think the title speaks for itself.”
But… Sasuke wasn’t one to warm up to others so easily.
Neji arched an eyebrow. “It sounds like it’s about a murder.” And a cold-blooded murder, at that… the murder in his book had been cold-blooded as well, a man’s attempt to prove that he was special, above the law. He had quickly found himself to be wrong, and the ensuing guilt had made him physically and mentally sick.
The Hyuuga briefly wondered how Sasuke’s parents were killed, but decided it best not to inquire.
Sasuke almost snorted. But only curled his lips a tiny bit.
“Let’s hope it’s murder. I wouldn’t want to read about a cold blooded robbery.”
He flipped open the book, skipping over the introduction. He read introductions, sometimes, only when he needed to know the background information on the book, and mostly for school assignments. Otherwise, he read purely for entertainment, there was no need to find out the circumstances behind the story. Unnecessary information.
Neji laughed under his breath… it seemed that Sasuke had something resembling a sense of humor. “I’ve never read anything by Capote… you’ll have to tell me if it’s any good.”
Sasuke didn’t say anything, instead, he sat still, contemplating the seat. It was a wooden chair, with no cushions, only suitable for studying. And he was not doing his homework anymore, and the table was no longer needed. After a moment, he stood up and gathered his things, putting notebooks and pens into his bag then finally gathering the books in his arms. There were some plush armchairs at the far end of the room, hidden behind the book shelves.
“I’m going over to the armchairs.”
Just a statement, announcing where he was going, but it was still strange, coming out of his lips. He never needed to tell anybody whenever he wanted to go somewhere. They didn’t need to know. Why he suddenly said that to Neji – absent-mindedly, but still, to Neji – perplexed him. But Sasuke said nothing more, and walked past the other towards the other side of the room.
Neji was equally perplexed… did this mean that he was supposed to follow? On a second consideration, he decided that it didn’t really matter what Sasuke meant, because that was what he was going to do. He followed the younger man behind the rows of bookshelves, to the two armchairs which flanked a table covered with magazines.
He sat down in the one on the right, opened his book where he had marked it, and pretended to read.
For a while, Sasuke did read, really. He read, but the words slipped past his mind right when they entered. His attention was elsewhere. It had taken him a lot longer than it usually took to read the first ten pages, and a whole lot more re-reading to actually get what was going on in the first chapter. He did not like it. The distraction was right there beside him, never made a sound, but Sasuke was distracted. He didn’t know how, he just was.
He shifted, crossing his legs and bringing his book higher, fingers flipping a page over as he tried to concentrate on the text. There was no reason for him to not be caught in the story. He always was before, today should be no different.
Then again, Neji hadn’t been sitting right beside him before. But he was now, and the Hyuuga could sense – could feel Sasuke’s unease. And he knew that his dark-haired companion was just as preoccupied with his chosen reading material as Neji was… which is to say, not at all.
The pretense went on for several minutes before Neji grew tired of it.
“Sasuke… you’re not actually reading that book, are you?”
The Uchiha tensed a little at the accurate observation. There was another thing he did not like, being too obvious and open to others’ eyes. He did not like being able to be read like a book. He masked his emotions. He gave little straight answers. He socialized little. He disliked human contact. And that had been fine these last ten years.
“No, I’m a bit tired.”
He lied, bringing a hand up to rub the bridge of his nose. A simple gesture that was supposed to make his words sound believable, and at the same time shielding his eyes from the gaze of those white orbs. Something was not right.
Neji saw past Sasuke’s pretense of fatigue… he had been around enough liars to recognize one right away. He was still unsure as to what Sasuke was trying to hide… did he share Neji’s interest, or had he picked up on it and was now trying to escape without coming off as rude? Either way, Neji intended to find out.
“Really? You seemed fine a moment ago.”
Sasuke’s cheeks felt a bit too warm.
The book laid open on his lap, and he stared at it without really seeing the words. What time was it? Nine twenty-five. Suddenly he wanted to go home. Anywhere. Just get out of this library. This feeling was too strange. It was driving him mad. He was confused. He didn’t know what to think. He was pathetic.
“It’s almost nine thirty. I’m going home.”
And so he stood up, book slapping close.
It seemed that “blunt” was just not blunt enough. So Neji decided to be completely straightforward… if that was the only way he would be able to discover what Sasuke was really thinking, then so be it.
He stepped in close, lowered his voice to barely above a whisper, and replied, “What would you say if I invited you back to my place?”
Sasuke’s eyes widened and his breath hitched.
“… For what?”
His voice still came out strained even though he had willed himself to calm down. Neji was probably just joking. Just a mere jest. But that voice, that tone, they sounded genuine. And no matter how hard he tried, Sasuke was affected. He hated it. He barely knew this guy. Only talked to him for brief moments. And he was already feeling this way. Since when had he lost control of his mind?
Once again, Sasuke was reminding Neji of himself. Six months ago, when Neji had turned nineteen, one of his former coworkers- an older boy who had since quit working at Queen Marie’s- had offered to take him out to a bar, to celebrate the fact that Neji was finally legal to drink in the state of Louisiana. Neji had accepted, not bothering to ask where he was being taken… and had been quite surprised when they ended up at Bourbon Pub and Parade, the largest gay bar in the city. But he’d assumed that his friend had meant it as a joke, and had stuck around so as not to seem ungrateful.
After a few rounds of drinks his friend’s true intentions became clear, and they’d ended up in the men’s room, a tangle of limbs and lips and tongues and teeth. They’d both been too drunk to go any further than that, but the experience had been… interesting, to say the least, and not unpleasant.
But only a month later, the boy had left to go to university (in Wisconsin of all places) and Neji had never heard from him again. The details of the encounter were a fuzzy memory by this point, but he remember enough to know how it had began… and from this knowledge, he knew just what to do now.
Leaning over slightly, Neji pressed a quick kiss to Sasuke’s lips.
Sasuke, during the eighteen years course of his life, had never been involved in a relationship, or even something that would resemble one. He didn’t live like a normal teenaged boy. He never drank, he never played games, he never glanced at the girls that followed him in lines. But he never did think that he was attracted to the same gender, either. He just didn’t care about that. There were other things that he would rather spend time on than defining his sexual orientation.
There was no wonder why Sasuke froze up when Neji’s lips touched his.
His body stilled, eye wide open and flush rushed up his pale cheeks. Fingers digging into the straps of his bag as he stared at the long-haired boy in confusion.
Neji’s lips pulled up into an amused half-smile. “Did that answer your question, Sasuke?” Neji knew that in all likelihood it had not only answered the original question, but brought up a thousand more that Sasuke would want answers to… answers that Neji would be only too happy to give.
Sasuke bit his bottom lip, his face burned.
“… What was that?”
It was a kiss, no, just a little peck. It could have been a joke. Neji could be playing with his head. It was nothing. (Funny how he kept thinking that while inside he hoped that it was genuine.) Sasuke did not take anything for granted.
“A kiss, of course.” Neji tried to sound confidant, but inwardly he wondered what Sasuke was thinking… and what he was going to do now. Would he go along with it? Would he just walk away? Would he avoid Neji from now on; ignore him completely?
Sasuke’s fingers trembled. Not out of the cold breeze drifting by (his body had grown hot since), not out of anger (he wasn’t angry, surprisingly). He didn’t know why. He just stared at Neji’s face, dark eyes scanning the features and probing deep into those white orbs to find an answer he desperately needed.
“Why?” he croaked out, feet taking an inch closer to the other man subconsciously.
Neji’s smile deepened, and he answered in a low voice, “Because you and I are alike in many ways… and you’re starting to grow on me for some reason.” In truth, Neji knew exactly what that reason was- because Sasuke was beautiful, in a way that no one else he’d ever met had been- but he had a feeling that if he said this, it would scare the younger man away.
Alike, huh? If speaking of similarities, the only thing Sasuke could think right off the top of his head was their state of being parentless. There were probably many more in order for Neji to take a liking to him, but with Sasuke’s mind muddled and confused, he couldn’t think. He couldn’t say anything either. Words were stuck in the back of his throat. He didn’t know what to say, either.
His eyes rolled away, staring at a random spot on the ground while his mind tried to work some sense out of this situation. Here he was, in a library where barely anybody was left, with another guy who practically just confessed that he liked Sasuke. Sasuke himself, despite what he told himself, knew that there was an attraction. It was there, barely. And it was messing with his mind.
Sensing the other boy’s discomfort, Neji moved away slightly. He could tell that Sasuke- or some part of him, anyway- wanted this, wanted to be close to Neji… to someone. But the rest of him hadn’t caught up yet, and Neji wasn’t going to take advantage of his confusion just to get laid.
“Sasuke… if this isn’t what you want… or if you don’t know what you want… that’s fine. I won’t take advantage of you.”
A faint sense of panic started to rise in Sasuke’s stomach. Did he truly want it or not? He didn’t know that either. The pace and the direction of where this was going was too new, too foreign. Sasuke wasn’t at all used to it. He barely knew Neji, really, they only talked all of… an hour and a half, at most, ever since they met. He did not believe in love at first sight. It was just a mere attraction. He was probably delusional.
But he didn’t want to let Neji go, either.
Sasuke’s hand grabbed the other’s wrist and held him there.
Neji sighed. When they’d first met he’d almost disliked Sasuke, but right now he felt only pity… the boy was so confused.
“Sasuke…” he began, moving closer. “Is this… pleasant, to you? Being so close to me?”
Fingers loosened then tightened around Neji’s wrist.
“… Yes,” The Uchiha breathed out after a long pause.
“And this?” Reaching up, Neji lifted Sasuke’s chin and placed another chaste kiss on his mouth.
Instead of an answer, the boy grabbed the back of Neji’s neck and pulled him down to press their lips together again.
Neji let out a noise of surprise, and almost lost himself in the kiss right then and there… until he remember where they were, and what time in was. They may have been standing behind the shelves, but sooner or later someone, probably a librarian checking around to make sure everyone left before the doors were locked, would come back there and see them.
“Sasuke…” he said, pulling away slightly, “…the library’s going to close soon.”
The flush on Sasuke’s cheeks seemed to burn. He hadn’t forgotten where they were, but he needed to answer Neji somehow. A kiss had seemed appropriate. It had felt good, even. But he had also lost track of time. A glance at the watch told him that it was nine forty. Itachi wouldn’t be back yet, he usually got home much later, midnight or more. Sasuke was not in a hurry.
“Yeah…” He swallowed. “We should… leave.” And he turned away, awkwardly locating the exit.
“Wait a moment.” Neji glanced a round, and spotted a pad of sticky notes and a pen on a nearby computer desk. He scribbled something on the top one and handed it to Sasuke. “It’s my cell number. If you ever want to…” he paused “…talk, or something, just call me.”
Dark eyes glanced over the square piece of paper and the numbers scribbled in neat, thin lines. "... Alright." He slipped the sheet into the nearest pocket and after a last glance at the long-haired man, Sasuke turned and disappeared behind the shelves.
Neji sighed, smiling to himself as Sasuke walked out of sight. He wasn't expecting the dark-haired boy to actually call him any time soon... but if he said he wasn't hoping for it, he'd be lying. Placing the book down on one of the carts, he made his way toward the exit, wondering what would come of this strange encounter.