sirona_fics: (love from Naruto)
[personal profile] sirona_fics
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sirona_gs
Title: Advantage: Us
Rating: PG-13 for swearing and boys kissing.
Word Count: ~4,100 this part, just over 30K overall.
Summary: When your parents are world-renowned tennis players, it is natural that you would want to follow in their footsteps, Naruto reasons when he asks to be sent to tennis summer camp. What happens after that is all that bastard Sasuke’s fault. A tennis AU where both boys’ parents are still alive.
Warnings: none, apart from kids swearing
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'll put them back after I'm done playing with them, I promise.
A/N: In Part One.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three



But both of them have gruelling matches tomorrow – Sasuke’s is against the (5) seed, Andy Roddick. It will be a miracle if Sasuke can pull this one off.

---

He does. It’s unbelievable. Sasuke is developing into a mean all-court player – he uses the best bits from each style of play and mixes it together to create a truly formidable tennis style to play against. Roddick, who is much more of a serve-and-volley-style player, doesn’t stand a chance against Sasuke’s precision and speed. Sasuke covers the whole court almost effortlessly; Naruto doesn’t know whether to be jealous of his skills or proud that he’s doing so very well.

The match does go to five sets, but not to a tiebreak – Sasuke gets three match balls and decides the match with the second. Naruto yells himself hoarse cheering him on.

---

His own match is an absolute bitch. Ferrer’s stamina rivals Naruto’s, so this is not one of those easy matches where he can exhaust his opponent into the ground. He has to fight for every point, every game, tooth and claw. It goes all the way up to a tiebreak, and luck is on Naruto’s side today because Ferrer makes two unforced errors that send two vital points Naruto’s way. One ace and one jump smash later, Naruto’s through to the quarterfinal.

No one can quite believe that these two untried players are doing so well – the others from their group are not quite as successful. Tenten loses to Serena Williams – like anyone can stop her when she’s in top shape – and Sakura loses to her sister, Venus. Lee plays Itachi – Naruto isn’t quite sure who he should cheer for in that match. Lee loses gracefully, three sets to one. Five from the group go through to quarterfinals: Sasuke, Naruto, Neji, Ino and Hinata.

Naruto knows he’s going to have to play his friends soon; he’s not particularly looking forward to it. He’s still reconciling himself to the fact that him winning means other people losing. He doesn’t even want to think about having to play against Sasuke, especially with this new dynamic that’s evolving between them.

---

On the boys’ day off between 4th round and the men’s quarterfinals, all of them go to cheer the girls in their quarterfinals. Naruto takes Sasuke with him for the first time –Sakura almost passes out from excitement.

“I’m so happy the two of you have made up!” she squeals. “Naruto’s been insufferable ever since you had that fight!”

Naruto scowls at her and Sasuke raises both eyebrows at him.

“Haven’t been that bad,” Naruto grumbles, shooting daggers at the laughing girls.

Sasuke hums doubtfully but, out of sight of the others, draws a comforting finger down his arm in a silent apology. He catches Naruto off-guard and gets a pleased smile back. Naruto thinks he can live with the squeals of delight, the cooing, and the teasing, as long as he gets to keeps Sasuke by his side.

Ino and Hinata lose, but what a way to go – Ino almost sends Elena Dementieva (8) crashing out, but a last-minute dropped ball lets the Russian through instead; and Hinata only loses from Jelena Jankovic (3) when Hawk-Eye is deployed for the match point. They are disappointed, but ecstatic to have reached so far in the championship.

Once the matches are done for the day, Naruto walks Sasuke home. It takes them a while, because their walking pace is laughably slow, but Naruto enjoys every moment, every shy look, every uncertain smile, every tentative touch. He’s still not sure how they went from Sasuke hating him and ignoring him, to this – he doesn’t know what this is, only that he never wants it to stop, and that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep it.

---

Naruto worries about telling his parents; as it happens, he doesn’t have to.

“Ask Sasuke and his family over for dinner tomorrow, love,” Kushina tells him that night, and “you’d better wear that blue shirt I got you last month, it brings out your gorgeous eyes.” And then she winks at him. Winks! His own mother! Isn’t she supposed to defend his virtue or something?

“Oh, do stop looking so gobsmacked, darling, what would Sasuke think?” she smirks at him.

“Probably that my parents are insane,” he mumbles under his breath, but Kushina still hears him.

“Is it so wrong for a mother to want her son to be happy, hm?” she says in her best ‘guilt-trip’ voice.

“No, Mom,” he replies dutifully.

Kushina’s face softens. “And he does make you happy, I can see that,” she says softly.

“He does,” Naruto tells her, grinning that big smile she loves so much.

---

Quarterfinals. Naruto is playing against another young player, France’s Sai Fude, seeded at (11). Sasuke has to play Gaara – Naruto is actually more worried about Sasuke’s match than his own. Neji is playing Federer and Itachi – Rafa Nadal. The outcome of Neji’s match is almost pre-decided – no young player can win against such a seasoned professional, though Neji is determined to do his best, anyway. Reaching quarterfinals on his second Wimbledon championship is still quite an achievement.

Itachi and Nadal’s match result is less certain. Nadal is the number (1) seed, but he has been known to be inconsistent in his performance at Wimbledon, grass being his least successful medium of court covering. Itachi definitely stands a chance of winning.

Naruto’s match is the first and Sasuke’s is the third of the day, so Sasuke sticks around to wish him luck. They are in the dressing rooms and Sasuke is fixing Naruto’s collar and hair when his opponent arrives. A tall, pale man, Sai has a wiry build that hints at speed and strength both. Curious black eyes take in the two teenagers standing a little too close to each other for them to be just friends.

Sasuke’s hand is still tangled in Naruto’s hair; when Sai tilts his head a little to the side in question, he demonstratively draws it slowly through as if he meant to do that from the start.

“Good luck,” Sasuke tells Naruto quietly, eyes full of confidence. Naruto smiles at him – if Sasuke thinks he can win, then he really can.

“Is that your boyfriend?” Sai asks him the moment Sasuke is out of the door. He has a pleasant voice, a light tenor that goes well with the overall impression he presents.

“Yeah,” Naruto grins. He is.

“I would have thought you could do better. A bit short for you, isn’t he? If you like dark hair and pale skin, I imagine you and I would make a better picture.”

Naruto blinks a few times, not sure if he’s heard that right.

“You’re saying that I should go out with you?” he repeats disbelievingly.

“I’m saying you and I would look better together, though now that you mention it,” Sai’s eyes drift lower, taking in Naruto’s body in his T-shirt and shorts, “you do seem to have a disappointingly small penis.”

---

Naruto storms out on court moments later, still fuming. That little bastard! Better than Sasuke, is he? Naruto’s going to wipe the floor with him, just to show him what’s what. He knows Sasuke is watching him, but he can’t quite school his features into his normal composure. Sure enough, when Naruto looks at him, Sasuke is staring murderously at Sai, who is calmly taking his racquet out of his holdall and sitting in one of the white chairs to wait for play to start.

Naruto wins that match, too, but it’s not until the very end that disaster strikes. When they go to the net to shake hands over it, Sai leans over it and pecks a kiss onto Naruto’s cheek. Naruto’s too stunned to react, but Sai looks pleased with himself.

“Think about it,” he says, then goes to shake the umpire’s hand. Naruto follows in a daze of disbelief. The sheer nerve of that arsehole!

“What was all that about?” Sasuke growls from behind him; when Naruto turns to him, he looks livid.

“I’ve absolutely no idea,” Naruto mutters, still shell-shocked. Surely people didn’t go around kissing each other like that where Sai was from?

It takes a moment to register Sasuke’s narrowed eyes. “What?” he snaps at him defensively. “It’s not like he asked me before he did it!”

Sasuke still looks livid, but Naruto can tell he now has a plan by the way his eyes glint behind his lashes.

“Come with me,” Sasuke purrs. He grabs Naruto’s hand and leads him outside to where his parents and the rest of the group are waiting for him. Sasuke pulls Naruto to stand next to him. “We’re going out,” he declares, daring anyone to comment.

“Where?” asks a bemused Minato. Sasuke doesn’t quite glare at him, but it’s a close call.

“With each other. We’re going out together.”

Naruto cringes. Way to come out to everybody. “Was that really necessary?” he hisses at Sasuke.

“Yes. Yes, it was,” Sasuke says softly, shooting a deadly glare at Sai standing a little way behind their little group, which isn’t looking particularly surprised at the news.

Naruto sighs. Sasuke, it seems, has a possessive streak.

---

“Interesting,” Gaara comments later on, just before his match with Sasuke.

“Hmm?” Naruto spares him a distracted glance from where he’s anxiously watching Sasuke change.

“I knew there was something between the two of you almost as soon as I saw you back then. I just didn’t think it was this.”

“Gaara! We were ten!” Naruto exclaims, horrified.

“I didn’t mean that you fancied each other. There was just some connection bringing you two together. Friends, rivals, doesn’t matter. It was there,” he avers, no doubt in his voice.

“You’re right,” Sasuke says. “I felt it, too. Tried to fight it. Didn’t work,” he finishes with a rueful smile and a glance up at Naruto.

Naruto loves how unguarded Sasuke seems in that moment, almost stripped bare, and all his, he thinks with satisfaction.

“Good luck, both of you,” he tells them. He’s torn about whom he should cheer for, they both mean so much to him. Sasuke squeezes his hand reassuringly.

“May the best man win,” he says and he and Gaara nod to each other.

---

Apparently, the best man is Sasuke. Naruto is so exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster of the match that all he wants to do is give both of them a hug. He hates that Gaara had to lose for Sasuke to go forward, but he knows that the two of them are much more practical about winning and losing than he is. It doesn’t stop him giving Sasuke a good, long kiss, after which Sasuke drags him back to central court to watch his brother hand Nadal his arse back.

It’s been some time since Naruto has watched Itachi’s every match whenever he could, and he’d never been able to watch him live. The difference is quite something. Naruto privately thinks that if he and Sasuke manage to improve this much in five years, then the world’s number one and two spots will be occupied by the two of them for the foreseeable future.

Nadal is a brilliant server, and his strength lies in behind-the-baseline game founded on heavy topspin groundstrokes, speed and excellent court coverage, making him a very capable defender. However, grass is his least favourable court covering, and he struggles to achieve his best form on it. Federed still leads in their rivalry on that surface.

Itachi, on the other hand, has formed his play on grass, being a British player who has spent most of his life practicing on it. Also, much like his brother, Itachi is an all-court player, excellent at defence and offence both. The grass surface is often slippery, which Itachi uses like a weapon, utilising his speed to perform some truly spectacular sideways slides that help him reach the ball faster than Nadal, whose best surface is clay –which has almost no slip to it.

As a result, Itachi clearly has the advantage over him, and while the match is by no means easy, Itachi does take an easy win, three sets to one. It helps that Nadal seems a little out of shape because of an injury he had sustained in the Australian Open in January obviously still giving him trouble.

Which, of course, means that Sasuke will play Itachi in the semi-final, and Naruto will play Roger Federer. Naruto isn’t sure which option terrifies him more.

---

The Uchiha brothers are two brilliant young players that have far too much in common to have an advantage over one another. Both are all-court players, both excel on grass, both have excellent techniques, and both possess ironclad determination to win against the other. The infamous Uchiha rivalry, which has frequently been compared to that of the Williams sisters in the past, is about to get its first outing in a major tournament.

Most of the spectators are content in the knowledge that this draw means at least one British player in the finals, with the (admittedly long-shot) possibility of an all-British final, something that hasn’t happened during the open era.

---

On the day of the semi-finals, one day after the quarterfinals, Naruto is pacing nervously outside the changing rooms where the two brothers are getting ready. He can hear nothing from the inside, and anyway that isn’t their style. They are far more likely to fight with barbed, loaded comments than with fists.

The door opens and the two perfectly outfitted men come out one after the other. They both look fine, he thinks as he studies their faces anxiously. There is no sign of the nerves they must both be feeling – they look like statues, gorgeous but blank. The moment their eyes fall on Naruto, though, he can see the warmth flowing back into their expressions, and just like that they are back to looking alive.

Naruto looks helplessly between them. Hs should be on Sasuke’s side, since they’re together, and – it’s Sasuke, he’s always on his side, except for when he’s being an idiot, but – it’s Itachi, too, and he wants both of them to win, but he wants Sasuke to win, too, because it would mean so much to him to be acknowledged that in that instant he is better than his brother, and…

“You’re thinking too much again,” Sasuke observes and bumps his shoulder with his own in passing; but he also tangles their fingers together briefly before he’s gone past, and gives them a little squeeze.

Naruto bites his lower lip. “Good luck, both of you,” he mumbles, because he hates choosing between people who are important to him. He wonders for a moment how Sasuke stands it.

But he gets smiles back from both of them, so he supposes that somehow he’s managed to say the right thing.

---

He almost can’t watch the match itself. Sakura and Ino are sitting on either side of him and keep pulling his hands away from his mouth when he forgets himself again and starts chewing on his fingernails. Several times he has to put his hands over his eyes, because he just can’t stand the tension.

He doesn’t know how Sasuke wins. Both brothers look absolutely wrecked, sweat pouring down their faces and under their T-shirts, soaking them and plastering them to their skins. Naruto knows he has it bad when the sight makes him more worried than horny. It’s always like this with him – when he falls, he falls hook, line and sinker.

Three racquets get broken, and each of them has to get changed once, when their wet shirts start sticking to their bodies so much that their swing is affected. In the end, it comes down to pure luck. Neither of the two players relies on it much, but Naruto can’t see any other way that it could happen. A slip here, a miss there, a serve gone awry, a spectacular catch – it all adds up, and what it adds up to is a disbelieving Sasuke falling to his knees in shock when Itachi’s return is called ‘out’ and he scores the match point after more than four and a half hours of play.

Sasuke walks to the net in a daze, afraid to smile in case it’s all a mistake. Itachi shakes his hand and pulls him into a one-armed hug, an unprecedented show of affection. Sasuke’s face is squashed into his neck, and Naruto thinks he sees him shake a little. Moments later Itachi lets him go, walks to the umpire and shakes his hand with every sign of pleasure.

Sasuke follows, the crowd’s roaring smothering any sound that might have reached all the way up the tiers where their group is piled together. Sasuke turns to the crowd and throws one of the spare tennis balls he has left into it; hands reach for it with alacrity. Everyone is on their feet, yelling and clapping for him. He stands there for a moment, just soaking it in, and a smile of triumph finally dawns on his face as he locks eyes with his parents, standing up in the family box and applauding. Naruto thinks his heart will burst with joy at how happy Sasuke looks in that moment.

“Well done,” he breathes later, when he finds Sasuke in the changing rooms, getting his stuff together.

For a moment they simply stand there looking at each other; the next moment Sasuke is striding forward and kissing him fiercely, almost violently. Naruto clutches at him, thinking that even though he still has his own match to play, in that moment he feels like he has already won everything that matters.

---

“I’m going to lose,” he tells his dad an hour later when he’s getting ready to walk out on court.

Minato is in the changing rooms with him, sitting on a bench and lounging against one of the pillars, but at that declaration he sits up straight.

“Why do you think that?” he asks carefully, and Naruto loves him even more for not just denying the possibility.

“It’s Federer, Dad. You know what he plays like on grass. He’s only lost twice in the final at Wimbledon in seven years. He’s an all-round, all-court player whose shots are virtually unsaveable. I’m just—I’m not good enough yet.” It hurts to say it, but it’s the truth and Naruto has to face that.

“O-kay,” Minato says in his usual calm manner, and Naruto frowns. His dad only says that when Naruto is being stupid and he’s humouring him. Naruto raises his eyebrows in an unspoken demand to know what his dad means.

“First of all, one of Federer’s losses was last year, and he was knocked out at the quarterfinal. He’s been struggling to find his form ever since the French Open, where the same thing happened, and he didn’t even play in the US Open.

“If you think you can’t win against him, you’ve lost already, kiddo. You have probably the best chance you’re ever going to get to beat him, but you can’t go into the match with that attitude.”

Naruto nods thoughtfully. His dad does have a point. “And the second?”

Minato stands up and walks over to him, looks at him with pride. “You are now a better, more skilful player than either me or your mother were at your age. You have excellent technique, you have the stamina of a marathon runner, and you have youth on your side. I truly believe that you can win this match,” he says, no question or doubt in his voice or face.

Naruto really does cry this time. The day, Sasuke’s win, the pressure, they all take his toll on him and he is completely undone by his dad’s words. Minato hugs him then; Naruto realises with a bit of a shock that he is now almost as tall as his dad is. He holds his father close, burying his face in his neck just for a moment.

When he walks out of the changing rooms, he is composed, collected, and a hell of a lot more confident than he had been when he had walked inside half an hour ago. His dad trails him as he makes his way to Centre Court, where the crowd is going insane with the anticipation. Federer is stretching a little, and looks about to start his warm-up.

Naruto takes a moment to look around before sinking into his ‘game zone’. The stands are packed, a literal wall of people waving all sorts of banners – “Go, Naruto!” “We love you, Naruto!” “Naruto for № 1” and others like them. Some of them are even orange. Well, he has the crowd’s support, at least. He looks up into the family box and sees his parents, his sister and Jiraiya beaming down at him and waving. He smiles and waves back, but his eyes are searching for another person out there.

A flash of black and fuchsia catches his eye and there they are – the entire Uchiha family, Mikoto wearing a truly stunning black shirt with an elaborate fuchsia bow at her throat. They don’t wave at him like his family does, but they do all smile warmly – apart from Fugaku who nods at him in approval instead. He grins at them, and at his friends seated two rows back from them. Then he turns to the court and he forgets about the rest of the world for the next four hours.

---

…I can’t believe how fast that serve was…

…there’s no way that was in!...

…you cannot be serious!!...

how the fuck did he catch that?!...

…faster, I have to be faster to keep up with him…

…did he really just miss that? That means the first set is mine...

…damn, that’s gonna catch the net, I have to get closer…

…I hate his drop-shots, that’s one set each…

…ooh, ooh, I can get that! Leapfrog!!...

…was—was that a double fault?? Did he just give me the third set with a double fault?!...

…FUCKING YES, SCORE!...

…three match balls—for me. What? When did that happen?…

…just focus. Don’t think about what it means. It’s just another ball…

…goddamn fucking motherfucker!!!...

…okay, two match balls. Still plenty of time to take him…

…this can’t be happening. How the fucking hell is that in?!...

…last match ball. You fuck this up, Uzumaki-Namikaze, and I’ll fuck you up…

…it’s out. I’ve—I’ve won. I’ve won!

---

Naruto doesn’t remember much from the next few minutes. He shakes Federer’s hand, who tells him he played a great game, and good luck in the finals, and then he’s shaking the umpire’s hand, and the crowd is going wild, and he can hear his mom yelling from where he’s still standing on the court, and Sasuke is running down the stairs of the stands, and Naruto worries there’s something wrong before realising Sasuke is coming to him, because he’s won, he’s in the final of Wimbledon with him, and he’s going to have to play Sasuke in a day’s time, and it’s just too much, so his brain shuts down for a little while, and the next thing he knows is he’s being pulled up to the barrier and kissed to within an inch of his life.

Flashlights are going off everywhere. Wimbledon hasn’t had an all-British final since 1909 – over a century ago; the last British player to play (and lose) in the finals did so in 1938; the last time a British player actually won Wimbledon had been in 1936. History is being made at that moment, not to mention the ‘blossoming romance’ angle the journalists are bound to sensationalise; the two young men in the centre of it couldn’t care less. Sasuke jumps over the barrier at last and lands in a crouch in front of Naruto, who pulls him up by his hand. They stand there staring at each other, a ridiculously big grin splitting Naruto’s face while Sasuke links their fingers together and smirks at him victoriously.

They both know they will have to play each other in two days. Both know that one of them will have to lose. They know that in a minute they’re going to have to let go of each other and pay attention to the hundreds of reporters swarming them, and their families’ insistent demands for celebration. This moment, though, is all their own.

END
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