A Back Of Scars For Two

I stared at the mop of blond hair poking out from under the sheets. It's already five in the afternoon, what's he doing still asleep. Geez, why did I have to come wake him up? Trudging up to him, I pulled the blanket off and dropped it on the floor. This idiot shivered and groaned but only curled up more on himself. I twitched at the sight of his bare back presented to me. So he went to bed shirtless...

It was the first time I saw it. My lips tightened and I looked down at the sight of the jagged scars that covered it and the memory that came with it. A couple years back there had been this building in the middle of construction. I was passing by a scaffolding with some beams and whatever else the workers needed on it when it collapsed. One of the workers called out to me in warning but I didn't hear because I had music blaring in my ears. I was shoved out of the way though and it all came down on this guy instead.

That was in our graduating year of high school. Back then, even though we were never that close we got along pretty well because our families were. That's why I knew he was supposed to get a soccer scholarship and that he missed out on it because of his back. I'm pretty sure it got really messed up from it. Well, he gave up on a soccer career afterwards so there was definitely lasting damage. I guess... that must have been when I started avoiding him.

Coming here for dinner was normal but since then I'd always found an excuse not to come. This time around mother was having none of it and even father and Itachi were in agreement. They all knew I was just avoiding this guy. In the end mother must have gotten fed up with it and even did something as meddlesome as "offering" to send me in place of Kushina to wake Naruto up.

Now that I think about it, it was never like the blond to not be up and about when guests were over. Nobody's had to wake him up in the past and even when he would pull all nighters playing video games he'd be ready for us. I sighed as I sat on the edge of his bed. What's up with him today then? I gently shook him to get him up but he grumbled something incoherent and curled up more.

"Oi, idiot, wake up." I muttered and tried again.

Surprisingly, it appeared to work. Naruto froze and turned to look at me with groggy eyes.

"Sasuke...?" He mumbled.

He slowly rubbed his eyes and sat up. A groan easily slipped past his lips and he grabbed his head. He muttered something about being dizzy and gave me a sidelong glance.

"That's right. There's the dinner today but," Naruto said, "I didn't think you'd come."

I didn't say anything and before long the blond turned away. He crawled to the edge of his bed and leaned over to snatch up his blanket. He wrapped himself back up in it and looked at me again. Naruto started to say something but then broke into a coughing fit and groaned.

"Just tell them I'm sick." Naruto said and buried his face in his pillow.

I wanted to tell him I would stay with him but the words wouldn't come out so I just got up and left. Once I was at the door I glanced over at him again. The idiot is hidden under his sheets, an unmoving object. All I could do was quietly close the door behind me as I left. I headed downstairs and told them about the blond.

Kushina and Minato both looked surprised. The more fussy of the two, Naruto's father, got up with the intention to go tend to his son. On the other hand, Kushina and mother shared a look. That can't be good. It didn't come as a surprise when mother suggested I take care of the blond while they're here. Minato was mid-sentence refusing the offer when Kushina elbowed him and "gratefully accepted". Her husband was forced to reluctantly sit back down.

Kushina patted his shoulder as she got up and headed into the kitchen. She waved me after her so I followed. The redhead made soup for Naruto and sent me off with an "I'm counting on you". For some reason it was harder for me to turn the handle of his door and walk in than the first time. Maybe it was because I was reminded of the accident. Probably.

When I finally managed to open the door and walked inside the tension in me didn't go down at all. The idiot was a prone body on his bed. I wonder if he fell back asleep. Awkwardly stopping in front of the bed I gently nudged the blond but he didn't move. Then what am I supposed to do now? Rest is important but so was eating. If he's been sleeping this entire time then eating should be more important right now.

I set the soup on his nightstand and sat on the edge of his bed. As I grabbed his arm to shake him awake the door opened and his mother came in. She gave me an apologetic face and said she forgot about the medicine and placed it next to the soup. Kushina waved at me as she made to leave but stopped at the door and turned back to me. She thanked me for looking after him and then left.

Somehow it felt like it would be impossible to go downstairs again and that was the whole purpose of what she said. I sighed while roughly shaking the blond awake. Naruto whined into his pillow and muffled words I couldn't hear were said.

"Oi, stop that." I sighed and rapped him on the head.

"Huh? You're back?" Naruto rolled over to look at me.

"Medicine. Eat." I demanded.

Cerulean orbs stared silently at me. It made me uncomfortable, having that unreadable expression directed towards me. In the end he sighed and slowly sat up. Naruto quietly took the soup from me and eyed the spoon for a second. He chose to forgo it and just drink it from the bowl. The blond's a little shaky and would probably spill everything if he didn't so it made sense. Thankfully it's just wanton soup so it wasn't anything that required a spoon to eat.

Wait. If he couldn't use the spoon then... I stared at the medicine in my hands and mentally cursed. It was the syrupy kind so a spoon was necessary. That means I'm going to have to give it to him personally. Naruto wasn't paying any attention to me as he ate and I wondered if I was the only one who found the atmosphere tense.

The blond eventually looked at me and the medicine awkwardly. With the uncomfortable face and mumbling he was making it would seem he too knew where this was going. The empty bowl sat in his lap and he stared at the medicine with apprehension. I made an exasperated sound even though I didn't feel any differently and put the bowl aside while telling him to suck it up.

Naruto huffed and looked away while I got the medicine ready. He was being rather compliant thankfully. I didn't think I could deal with him making a fuss of things. All it took was a grunt for him to look at me again. The idiot had this unsettled face but opened his mouth and looked away. I noticed he was blushing a little when I put the spoon in his mouth. Somehow that expression made me more embarrassed.

A thump was heard as the idiot curled back up on the bed again as soon as the spoon was gone. It almost seemed like he was hiding under his sheets. I sighed softly and set everything aside, wondering what I was supposed to do now. Playing nurse didn't suit me at all and left me even more uncomfortable than I otherwise would be. Then I noticed that tired cerulean orbs were peeking out from under the covers and watching me attentively. I scowled at him and he blinked at me once, twice before saying anything.

"You can go now." Were the unexpected words I received.

"What?" I asked on reflex.

For not wanting to be here, I'm certainly making things difficult for myself.

"You don't wanna stay, right?" Naruto spoke with an intentional nonchalance, obviously hiding his feelings behind it. "I mean, you've avoided me like the plague since a couple years back."

I swallowed the words of protest begging to come out and lowered my gaze. What was I supposed to say? That was entirely true. It's not like I can say that and leave though. Telling him our mothers won't let me leave would be even worse. There's no way I can respond to those words.

Geez, I'm the worst.

"Whatever, just go back to sleep or something." I muttered.

"...Oh, that's right, on top of not wanting to be here," Naruto's tone was light with mock exasperation, "you suck at taking care of someone."

Not waiting for a reply, the blond rolled away from me and disappeared beneath the blankets again. There was some coughing and then silence. I sat there, staring at the rising and falling mound silently, feeling awkward and out of place. The idiot returned to resting, which was all fine and well, but what was I supposed to do now?

Surprisingly, it wasn't that long before Naruto surged upward with a big inhalation of air. In the next moment he was moaning from the dizziness of sitting up too quickly. Watching him in confusion, he turned to me with a haggard expression. This retard clearly expressed the fact that he couldn't sleep and that it was all my fault for waking him up. My eye twitched in annoyance. Is this guy for real?

"Oh, actually... Have you eaten yet?" Naruto asked me unexpectedly.

"No, why?" I said.

"What? Are you serious? I just thought to check, I didn't actually think..." Naruto looked shocked. "I can't believe they sent you here without any food. Anyway, go eat."

He pointed to the door as he said so and looked like he wouldn't take no for an answer. Not that I listened.

"It's fine. I can eat later. Don't worry about it." I said.

My response clearly annoyed Naruto, which wasn't all that surprising given the face he was making earlier and as expected was not letting it go that easily.

"No way, you need to eat." Naruto protested.

When I showed no signs of listening, he wordlessly gathered up the bowl and medicine, cocooned himself in his blanket and hobbled towards the door. I asked where he was going but I quickly learned I was being ignored. Once he was at the door he gave me a dirty look and then continued on his way. All I could do was get up and follow. It was immediately obvious that he was going downstairs and I knew exactly what would come with that, so I spent the entire short trip attempting to get him to go back upstairs.

At the very least, he gave me the opportunity to spare myself some embarrassment by telling me to get food while he put the bowl and medicine in the kitchen. Kushina was asking why he was here and he shrugged and said he felt like it. I followed behind like a lost puppy and just wanted to go back upstairs and let this be over, but Naruto sent a look my way once he'd put everything done to tell me I spoke now or he would for me. When I turned to them, Naruto started hobbling over to me and I could just feel the smug satisfaction rolling off him in waves.

Awkwardly, I asked Kushina for some food I could take up with me so I could eat. There was a moment of silence and then the woman was freaking out about how she couldn't believe she forgot about me and how I was practically a second son. It went on for a couple of minutes, her getting "angry" with Minato and mother about how they were horrible people for not reminding her before finally settling down to put something together for me. Naruto was huddled up next to me by then and in the dead silence that followed it all, casually called out that he wanted some ramen.

That somehow diffused all the tension, Kushina sweetly saying she would make some, and we stood there as she barreled through like a tornado putting everything together. The idiot skipped over to her and enveloped her in a hug, cheerfully thanking her, and chatted happily about the ramen he wanted. I had never noticed how his antics could calm the atmosphere like this. Earlier he didn't sound like he wanted to talk much since he would cough a lot. Sure enough, when he turned away from them he immediately covered his mouth with a tense expression as he tried to suppress a coughing fit. So it was intentional, huh?

"I can bring the ramen, so you can wait upstairs if you want." I said awkwardly.

Naruto's eyes darted up to mine in surprise but then crinkled as he smiled.

"M'kay, thanks Sasuke!" Naruto nodded and then made to hug me like he had Kushina.

"Don't even." I said.

Naruto stopped just before reaching me and deflated instantly.

"Uwah, so meeean!" He cried as he spun around and scurried off, making sure his blanket hit me as he did so.

Now on my own, I waited for the ramen to be done. Kushina apologized to me again while we were waiting and I told her not to worry. She smiled at me knowingly and said Naruto had dragged me down here so I'd eat. I looked away embarrassedly at being caught. She laughed and pointed out how obvious it was from how Naruto wouldn't come down earlier and it was unlike me to make a point of something like this.

Once everything was ready, she sent me off with a "don't let him take care of you too much" and a wink. I flinched from surprise and then left in a hurry. Kushina seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in teasing me at every opportunity. I swear she did it more to me than her own son. When I reached Naruto's room and saw he'd had the foresight to leave the door open so that I'd be able to get in I was grateful. I kicked it shut after and headed over to where he was sitting on his bed.

The idiot waved at me but his eyes were glued on the instant noodles in my hand. He took the ramen from me happily and inhaled the aroma before digging in. Given the fact that I avoided him for two years and never even visited him in the hospital after he got injured, he was being really good about it. Mother told me that he'd even gotten worried that I'd been hurt too and had to reassure him that I was fine. She gave me a lot of updates about him as it went on, even about his rehabilitation.

I was snapped out of my thoughts by Naruto's sudden voice.

"Aren't you going to sit down?" He asked.

When I looked up at him, he was slurping down noodles and watching me curiously. With a quiet admittance, I sat next to him and also began eating. It was silent for most of the meal, but the blond spoke up at the end of it.

"Thanks for that, earlier." Naruto said.

"Earlier?" I asked.

"Yeah, back downstairs. You noticed how the act was getting to me, right? So thanks." Naruto said.

"Oh... Don't mention it." I said awkwardly.

Naruto grinned at me knowingly and bumped my shoulder playfully. He then chugged the broth down without a word. I tensed up, worried he'd suddenly choke or something. Should he be acting so recklessly while he's sick? Regardless of its intelligence, the action resulted in a satisfied sigh from him. If nothing happened then I guess it's fine. I watched as he put the empty cup on his nightstand and then he looked at me. He blinked in surprise and then burst out laughing, saying I looked like he'd just kicked my puppy. Probably not actually the face I'd be making if someone actually did do that though.

Then the blond got up and stretched, saying that he'd be right back. He left the blanket on the bed this time and hobbled out of his room, leaving me here without a concern and to cringe at his back. I wonder if I should have followed him? Being responsible for him, I'm not really sure what the rules are. Last time I really only followed him since I had a bad feeling about it but if he's sick enough to get dizzy from sitting up maybe I shouldn't be leaving him alone. He was fine earlier though so I don't know. Without a clear answer coming to mind, I decided it was better to stay near in case he tripped over his own feet.

Stepping out of his room, I saw he only went straight across to the washroom and was washing his face. Dull blue locked with my onyx and I'm somehow frozen and unable to breath while he looked at me, leaning against the counter with water dripping off his face. The only sound came from the faucet pitching a torrent of water out from the tap. Then he blinked and the spell was broken as he turned away from me.

Naruto used a washcloth to squeeze water over his head and back. My expression immediately tightened when I saw those scars again. I bored holes into the floor and remained awkwardly in front of his bedroom door. Suddenly, something cold and wet hit me in the face. It's the washcloth he was using. Holding it in a hand, I looked up at him with a glare, but he met my gaze with a smug smirk.

"That's supposed to be your job, you know." He teased me while pointing at the washcloth.

"You want me to wash your back for you?" I retorted with a raised brow.

Naruto only shrugged dismissively and said, "I'm not opposed to the idea," while gesturing for me to give him the cloth back. That response was unexpected and I didn't have an immediate comeback so I just walked over to hand it back. Then he looked up at me with a mischievous grin and asked if I was actually going to scrub his back so I whipped the washcloth at him in annoyance. The moron laughed and caught it before it hit him. He dropped it onto his head with that stupid grin and turned the water off.

"So, what's wrong?" Naruto suddenly threw that question at me.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

The blond gave me this pointed look and remained silent. My eyes flickered to his back and then away with a scowl. A quiet "aah" sound came from him then. Oh great.

"Does it bother you?" Naruto asked vaguely, but we both knew what he was referring to.

"Hn." I grunted uninformatively.

When Naruto didn't say anything to that, I had to wonder how uninformative it really was. There was a soft sigh and then the sound of something falling into the sink, undoubtedly the cloth. The idiot stepped unhesitatingly into my personal space, close enough for my vision to be filled entirely by his chest, and did nothing. It set my nerves on fire that I didn't know what he was about to do. He shifted awkwardly and sighed again. Then I was being hugged by him.

My eyes widened and I held my breath, not moving a muscle. This guy I hadn't so much as spoken a word to in over two years now had his arms wrapped around me in a strong embrace. Naruto quietly murmured that it wasn't my fault in my ear and a lump formed in my throat from those words. Two years later and now he's telling me? This idiot, I didn't think he could be stupid enough to not know this was why I avoided him but it looks like he did.

Still, it wasn't like I blamed myself because he never said otherwise. Even if we weren't that close, I knew him well enough to know he wouldn't blame me over what happened. Naruto probably didn't blame anyone. Yet somehow, those stupid reassuring words were getting to me. It's not as though I suddenly stopped blaming myself but... being told by him of all people that it wasn't my fault, even though I should have already known he felt that way, made me feel a lot better about everything anyway.

Before I'd realized it, I'd pressed my face into his neck and my fingers dug into his back. I wanted to stop, no, my pride demanded I stop, but my pride was taking a back seat right now. To have allowed myself this, I must have been out of my mind and I had to admit it felt good. This idiot had this odd sense of security about him. It probably came from that overprotective personality trait of his. Not many people seemed to be of this opinion, but he was reliable. If you needed him, he was there, so it's not hard to imagine where that oddity came from. It just felt so foreign to accept something I spent so much time resisting.

Then Naruto was moving, shuffling backwards. It was easy to follow. He got us back into his room. I knew when we hit the bed because he dragged me with him when he toppled onto it. Finally, I remembered he was sick and I was supposed to be taking care of him. I shouldn't be doing this. When I tried to get up however, those tan arms tightened around me and refused to let me up. Turning my eyes upwards, my confused gaze was met with him staring up at the ceiling with a completely relaxed face as if he wasn't doing anything at all.

Some irritation welled up in me from that but knowing him he's just trying to help. The fact that I, myself, didn't really want to move was certainly in his favour. That was no reason to let him have his way so I forced myself out of his hold. His gaze finally met mine and he pouted at my freedom, but then this mischievous grin suddenly took over his face. His eyes crinkled gleefully, but then he covered his mouth with a hand and looked away. I tried getting the idiot to tell me what the fuck was so funny, but he only shook his head in refusal at me.

For some reason, he was really happy with the situation and it was pissing me off. It was when I looked down in thought that I realized what was the cause of this retard's sudden amusement. My eye started twitching. It was all because I was straddling his waist and since he was shirtless, it looked pretty suggestive.

"Che. Pervert." I said tersely and got off of him.

"Takes one to know one." Naruto retorted cheekily.

I glared at him and things abruptly felt awkward as we silently stared at each other. If I could erase that incident from ever happening I would. Him knowing I have guilt over what happened to him is one thing, but the way things went down after that? The removal of its existence would be great. That wasn't an option though. I'm sure that moment wasn't what made things awkward for Naruto though. Hell, maybe he didn't even feel awkward in the first place, but he was giving me an odd look right now.

With a scowl, I turned away from him and ran a hand through my hair. If I could, I would have walked straight out of the room and away from him right now but that's unfortunately not the case. It was silent and I felt his eyes boring into me. They stared at me with an intensity that I'd become all too familiar with. When we first met, he'd only stare like that when he was glaring at me, then after the accident I'd feel his gaze linger on me whenever he saw me, probably wondering why I'd started avoiding him, and now there it was again. For what reason he burned my back with his gaze now I haven't a clue.

Then there were sounds of movement as the blond got up and took a step towards me. I tensed up somewhat, not sure what to expect, but didn't move or look at him. A minute must have passed before he did anything so I jumped at the sudden feeling on his hands on my waist. His chest was lightly brushing against my back now and for once in my life I wondered what in the world was going through his head. He was testing the waters now, slowly snaking his arms around me and tugging me against him. My heartbeat had long since skyrocketed through the roof and I hadn't the ability to react to any of this.

"I'm sorry. I should have realized what was bothering you long before now." Naruto whispered in my ear.

It was not necessary for him to be holding me like this or for his lips to be so close that they grazed my ear when he spoke to say that. Some part of me told me to tell him as much, but like the rest of me my mouth seemed to be frozen. All I could do was swallow thickly and stare into space. Then he dropped his head onto my shoulder and stood there, silent as ever.

"What are you doing?" I forced the words out uneasily.

Naruto shuffled awkwardly and then asked, "What do you mean?"

"You're hugging me. Why?" I said.

"...Erm, no reason." Naruto mumbled.

"Let go." I told him, ignoring the part of me saying it didn't want him to.

Naruto didn't move for a second, but then did as told and stepped back. I turned to face him and saw his back again as he was about to crawl back onto his bed. I must have made some noise because he looked back at me. Instinctively looking away, I knew it just made it even more obvious. He was staring at me again, I could tell. Then a small sigh escaped him and he headed over to his plain wooden dresser. While he opened one of the drawers my eyes stayed locked on his back like a curse, which was broken when it was suddenly covered by an orange shirt. My gaze snapped up to him and met kind blues.

"Is this better?" Naruto asked.

I looked away in embarrassment and didn't say anything. He sighed at my refusal to respond but didn't press the issue.

"Should we talk about it?" Naruto asked. "It's not a big deal, so you don't have to feel reserved about it or anything."

"Not a big deal? There's no way you can call an injury like that 'no big deal'." I said tightly, suppressing my anger.

Naruto didn't immediately say anything, didn't even react for a second. Then he sighed in a resigned way, but still smiled contentedly. He ran a hand through his hair sheepishly and grinned stupidly at me. The idiot slowly headed towards me.

"That's exactly what I'm doing Sasuke." Naruto then clearly repeated himself. "It's no big deal."

He stopped in front of me and I really wanted to start shaking him for the crap he was spouting. I glared at him and he smiled back. After a while, he started talking again.

"If you asked me two years ago, I'm sure I'd say something different but," Naruto said, "I somehow doubt it'd be the reaction you were hoping for. You know, you're something of a masochist, wanting me to put you down like that."

Though the smile never left his face, he looked sad for a moment. This guy must hate that side of me.

"Anyway, there certainly was a time when I was sad over it." Naruto went on. "You probably figured it out yourself by now, but I lost my soccer scholarship because of it. That hit me pretty hard but, you know, I never once regretted it and it's been two years Sasuke, I got over it. There are a lot of things I love besides soccer and can pursue. So yeah, my back got a little messed up, but it's not like I'm paralyzed or anything. It could have been a lot worse."

What was I supposed to say to that? That he should be mad at me because it never would have happened to him otherwise? Even if I feel that way, if he were to feel that way it would be the same as holding onto the pain from that day. The fact that he's moved on is good, but it felt like I hadn't got my dues. He lost something important that day for me and I should have been the one he got to unload that crap on, whether it was in anger or not, but I wasn't there. There were a lot of things I did wrong and I hated how forgiving he was about it.

"It's two years and you're still beating yourself up over it." Naruto said softly. "Don't you think you've put yourself through enough punishment already?"

I refused to look at him and before long I felt his hand on the back of my neck, pulling me into yet another hug. One arm held me tightly against him while the other hand tangled itself in my hair. Why does he keep doing this?

"Naruto..." I sighed, not even sure what it was I wanted to say.

"I swear, if you ask what I'm doing I'll..." Naruto paused unnaturally and then continued in a somewhat childish but still serious voice. "I'll do something and you'll regret it!"

In the end, I didn't say anything and smiled as I gave into him. I closed my eyes and lightly hugged him back. It was then that the door opened and Kushina's cheerful voice filled the room.

"Hey, sweet heart, how are you... feeling...?" It was obvious when she noticed us.

"H-Hi mom..." Naruto said nervously.

Both of us were tense and I didn't dare move. I didn't know what kept Naruto in place, but I knew if one of us pulled away I would have to face her so I was grateful he didn't. Just the thought of the happy, conniving expression she was likely to be making right now made me not want to see her for the next month, never mind right now while I'm this embarrassed over getting caught.

"Hrm... I'll leave you two alone now." Kushina sounded like she was on cloud nine.

Almost as soon as the sound of the door closing came, you could hear her yelling at Minato that he couldn't come in and then screaming at my mother that they needed to talk. Minato's confused and mournful yell barely managed not to get drowned out by his wife's excitement. That just left us standing awkwardly like this.

We pulled away and didn't look at each other. The silence was stifling, but neither of us moved to fill it. Naruto swiftly hopped onto his bed, leaning against the headboard and then staring at me. I still wouldn't look at him. When I finally did, he pat the bed in offering. It felt like I was the only one suffocating here, but at the very least I knew he still felt uncomfortable by how quiet he was being. Somewhat reluctantly, I sat on the bed a couple feet away from him. His expression told me he knew what I was doing. I didn't care.

"Are you going to stop avoiding me now?" Naruto asked not long after I sat down.

I was caught off guard and looked at him in surprise. His face didn't reveal much, but it was obvious he really wanted the answer. It was important to him that I stopped. I looked away before answering.

"Yeah, but why do you care so much anyway? We were never that close." I said.

"Huh? Uh, just... just 'cause?" Naruto mumbled pathetically.

When I looked over at him to glare at his obvious refusal to answer me, which was odd of him if I were to think about it, I was surprised to see his face flushed and his eyes averted from mine. He was embarrassed about it? As far as I knew, Naruto wasn't easily embarrassed. I certainly hadn't expected my question to be the cause of any. What kind of answer would make him act this way?

No way... the blushing, refusing to look at me, all the hugging, the unnecessary closeness and gentleness, could he-

"Fine, whatever." I muttered, now looking away myself.

"Eh...? Gah, you know! Damn it, you know! You suck!" Naruto yelled and beat me up with a pillow.

"Shut up! Don't be so obvious about it then!" I retorted, blindly trying to defend against him.

With one final yell, he hit me as hard as he could with the pillow and then stopped. Hesitantly glancing over at him again, he had his face buried in the pillow and I couldn't help but smile a little.

"It's not as though... I'm opposed to the idea." I mumbled.

"What? Really?" Naruto's head suddenly popped up and I dropped my gaze immediately in embarrassment.

"I just... I don't know if we should, right now, when I feel this way." I grumbled uncertainly.

"That makes sense. You need to be in the right place, I get that." Naruto's voice was somber but soft and understanding-it was soothing.

"But it's not as if I expect you to wait or any-" I spoke a little quicker now.

"I'll wait!" Naruto claimed loudly and tackled me, repeating again in a more tender tone. "I'll wait."

I didn't know what kind of face he made when he said that since it was pressed into my back, but I had a pretty good idea of it. My face was becoming flushed and I swallowed thickly. It was a big deal that he said he was going to wait. Being told you're worth waiting for felt really good, especially when you know the other party was well aware of just how long that could be. I couldn't calm down, my heart was trying to tear through my chest, and butterflies were in my stomach.

Just as I was about to say "thank you" Naruto made a smart remark.

"Guess that means I'm stuck waiting on you to make the first move, eh?" Naruto said cheekily.

The words died in my throat and I jabbed him in the side while muttering for him to shut up. The blond rolled away with a yelp. He grumbled under his breath and when I glanced over my shoulder at him, I saw him trying to awkwardly rub his side with the arm that wasn't trapped under me. I sighed softly and twisted onto my back. Naruto glanced over at me and then grinned, abruptly curling into my side. It took me by surprise and I tried to look at him, but he had his face hidden in my neck.

When I tensely murmured his name, he innocently responded with a "yes" as though he didn't know what he was doing. I sighed and just let it go. He could do what he wanted. Naruto hummed as he realized this and entangled our limbs together as he held me close. My one arm was trapped uncomfortably between our bodies so I wormed it under his waist and around his back. I hesitated to hold onto him, thoughts of his back plaguing me.

"You're not going to hurt me." Naruto said gently. "Hold on as tight as you want."

I took a shaky breath and fisted his shirt in response. My other hand had clenched the sheets but Naruto reached out and took it. He caressed the back of my hand and murmured soothingly to me. How ironic that I was supposed to be taking care of him, but it ended up being the exact opposite. In the end, I grumbled at him until he faced the other way. It was obvious the blond didn't want to and was just indulging me. He did that a lot, didn't he?

With me only staring at his back, he was becoming unsettled. Naruto wanted to cuddle so it made sense. His back was, as usual, a distraction to me. The thought of them still made my stomach twist in an unpleasant way yet I couldn't look away. I felt this way but still brought my hand closer to that scarred back. Apprehensive though I was, I swallowed thickly and lightly touched that back with a few fingers. In an instant, Naruto stopped his fidgeting. He didn't tense up, but an unnatural stillness came over him. I pulled away immediately.

This guy understood what happened and looked over his shoulder at me. He didn't say anything, but he snatched up my hand and tugged it back to his back. I knew he was trying to tell me it was okay and I needed that but I resisted him all the same. Even though I'd touched his back I still didn't want to feel those scars. The blond must have known that because he pulled my arm over his waist instead, urging me to curl into him. I clenched his shirt as I did so and pressed into him. Always the understanding guy. Thank you... Naruto.