There’s an unspoken assumption amongst their group of friends and allies that in the weird-yet-totally-working-so-who-are-we-to-ask relationship formed by Uchiha Sasuke and Akimichi Chouji that the emotional labor is. well.
Chouji can’t blame them for that. Once you factor in how standoffish Sasuke has always been, sprinkle over his inferiority/messiah complex regarding his dead brother, muddle with vengeance and garnish with a dash of ‘oh no he didn’t bring back Orochimaru’s head in a bag’, what you got was a cocktail of iceberg proportions.
Still, fact of the matter is, it isn’t true.
Shikamaru knows this, because Shikamaru knows the Secret Sacred Rule of the Akimichi, but as explaining to everyone else would be troublesome (for him) burdensome (for Chouji and Sasuke) and all around unnecessary, he mainly makes disinterested grunting noises whenever someone asks him “hey Shikamaru you’re Chouji’s best friend how does that work exactly”.
Yes, from an outside viewpoint Chouji picks up a lot of the slack. He has to- he’s the one who’s in the village the most often, training his genin. Why would you expect an ANBU to remember to do the grocery shopping when he’s only sleeping in his own bed one week out of every three?
Ino does ask once, because she’s Ino and she’ll kill for Chouji, and he says to her, “Sasuke takes care of all of me.”
A weird statement, but she’s Ino. She understands.
It’s true. Sasuke doesn’t have time for niceties. Like Shikamaru, he’s too far ahead (but not quite Nara-ahead) to contemplate all the stickiness of paths untrod. Sasuke is more than happy to gather Chouji up in his arms, to tell him exactly how he makes the Uchiha feel.
Sasuke has been chasing his own demons for so long that Chouji’s are like child’s play. They run screaming from him every time. All the little voices that insist he isn’t good enough, isn’t fast enough or strong enough, can’t stand up to a sharingan.
Sasuke does the laundry when he’s home, imagines doing it when he’s not. Sasuke will brush Chouji’s hair on their stoop, kiss the ends of the strands. He introduces Chouji at the few official functions they have to attend as ‘my lover’ without blushing or stuttering.
Sasuke talks Chouji down, when he needs to be talked down and Shikamaru isn’t around, and he never hesitates to put a hand on Chouji’s shoulder even when he knows he’s within arm’s reach of a painful, crushing death.
It’s not a lot. Not flashy or obvious which is strange, since the Uchiha have as a whole been a flashy and obvious clan.
That’s fine by Chouji. He never asked for very much in the first place. If Sasuke is a burning fire, Chouji is a mirror, and together they throw light a thousandfold.
It’s weird, and it works, and no one asks why.