Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me, just this fic. It is enough.

Naruto/Sasuke pairing yaoi

Now considered AU but don't let that put you off. A few things won't add up with the show, but hopefully it will still run true with most of the character studies, and be enjoyable regardless .

Rated: R

By: Sunstrike

Chapter Eleven

Absorbing The Demon

In a forest, at another part of the continent, the leaves were still fiery…still exploding, the only difference was that these leaves hadn't been dying, hadn't been about to fall off the trees in the usual autumn way. Entire pieces of land were being blown away in pure flame. Smoke billowed in choking thickness and creatures ran for their lives.

Leviathan was having a tantrum.

He was frustrated be being forced into such a tight and confining place, and he was distraught at how little power there was, which wasn't quite true.

Imagine a person, releasing chakra. Pores open and release an amount, which complies with how much that singular person can take. Now, picture that person as a funnel, with an ocean behind it. The results were more then messy, they were disgusting.

Flesh was expanding and contracting, forcing itself into another form, in some cases it was dripping off in rags, like old clothes on a body that was too big, or plastic wrapped around clay that was alive and suffocating. Somewhere in that mess was the remains of a human, and the beginning of a serpentine creature, but right now it just looked like something some had chewed up and spit out. Flies, that weren't caught in the explosions of chakra, buzzed furiously around bleeding flesh, doing what flies do best, making something not all that appealing to begin with, worse.

This was a new development for the creature, which, up until this point, had been making progress towards something more powerful, a bigger funnel, as it were. But when something rejects its host as much as Leviathan had, the host starts to degrade at an alarming rate. Now the creature trapped in the body was trying desperately to form the flesh back together. Unfortunately it hadn't been in enough contact with humans to know what they truly looked like, so was going with what it had known from reflections on water surfaces and on smooth cave walls.

To Orochimaru, who was observing silently in a patch of tree's still standing, it was a pathetic sight, and one ripe for advantage, to the right people. He shifted on the tree branch, just slightly. He sympathized with the creature's frustrations, for he as well was suffering from similar problems. Itachi had not contacted, but truthfully he hadn't expected there to be any reply, had actually hoped that there would be none, because that gave him the opportunity he needed. But it was still a bit irking to be ignored. It showed just how much of a defeat he had taken at the hands of the Leaf Village, and, more specifically, at the hands of Naruto. Now wasn't the time to think of failures, however. And with that simple thought, he jumped down and advanced on the creature.

Even though he was used to the smell of death and decay he still had to gather himself slightly when he came within range of the beast. The atmosphere was terrifyingly awesome up close, and when a blue orb in a rotting skull turned to look his way, he was hard pressed not to run screaming into the hills. Years of technique and fortitude, no less some large amounts of necromancy, boosted his confidence however, though he nearly lost everything when it spoke at him.

"You do well to come so close, huuuuuuman." The eye squinted and it heaved its body around with lots of squelchy noises. Orochimaru's own eyes did not leave the orb. To back off now and stare away would be like flicking off a firing squad. He kept faith in the knowledge that while he stared into the blue, his line of vision would keep out seeing anything else. "You have the rrrrrrreak of snake about you, strange, for a huuuuuuuman." The odd inflection of his voice was made by the fact that two voices were trying to carry over the same voice box, with probably the same effect as the chakra mentioned earlier.

"My studies required many reptiles, they are a part of me now, and always shall be, your grace." The eye widened for a moment before retaining the suspicion of before.

"You speeeeeak to me as if I werrrre as nnoble as I onccccccccce wass, huuuuman. Even though I appearrrr to you as suuuch?" To reiterate this, the creature rose to its full height, something that Orochimaru had rather wished that it hadn't. Things twisted and turned under flagging and blue skin, the smell was unbearable, though through it all, he still managed to find his voice.

"Your grace, though the body may be, unwanted, you are still the demon inside, are you not." It seemed to ponder this statement, and then too tired to speak or to stand, it flopped down. Little pieces flew off in all directions, only to start moving back again towards the main body.

"I will need those." Was the simple statement in explanation. Another thing Orochimaru could have done without. "You arrrre correct, what do they callll you?"

Instead of answering right away, Orochimaru pondered, considered all the requirements of the name that he would have to choose, they could be there for hours while the thing tried to work through the tongue twister that was the snake-man's original name. He went with the shortened version.


"Well, then Marrrrrru. Explain to me, why I should not consummmme you where you stand?" The teeth, some sharp and alarmingly new, grinned through the cracking skin and its head stretched and moved closer. Orochimaru stood his ground.

"Unappetising." Was the simple statement. And before it could muddle though an answer to that one he began to speak again. "Besides, I know what you want, and I know how to get it to you." Surprise rippled over the monsters face. Orochimaru continued. "You need power, to retain your form again, you need a sacrifice to absorb that power, and you need a host to transfer to that won't fall apart, one that you can manipulate into doing what you desire, correct?" The creature mumbled an acknowledgment to this statement. "I can get these and bring them to you, which, in your current state, is impossible." Claws scrabbled on the ground forming huge rents where they passed, and Orochimaru was snatched up before he could think. He choked as he was brought up close to blue eyes that now had vibrancy about them that wasn't apparent before.

"Do this for me, and I will not eat you. I mayyyy even give you an exxxtra rrreward, Marrrrru." It hissed. "Betray, or fail me and I will do much worse then eat you." The threat was left in the air, threateningly clear. All Orochimaru could do was nod.

Out of the frying pan-

The first few snowflakes fell as Naruto carried the sleeping Kohonamaru home. Darkness filled the streets and a cold chill blew through his hair. It was a little disconcerting to see the flakes evaporate before they hit his body, but at least the boy on his back was warm. Safely dropping the slumbering bundle at his well lit, cosy home, Naruto made his own way to the empty apartment he still resided in.

He had been thinking much on what the young boy had said, and realized ultimately just how far he had fallen. His goals were becoming blurry with determination to survive, which fought against the other realization that not many people would want demon spawn as a Hokage. It was comforting that most would rather have just Naruto, and gave him a renewed strength in believing he could ultimately overthrow the fox demon.

Maybe it was time to talk to Kakashi and Iruka about this, three heads were better then one, right? And they wouldn't persecute him for something beyond his control, he had no idea where that thought had originated. It was ridiculous. I mean, look at the facts up until now, he thought to himself. They had delt with Sasuke and welcomed him back, and that guy had fallen as far as you can go. Probably was still gone, around the edges, if Naruto wanted to be brutally honest with himself. After all, Itachi was still out there, and as long as he was, the dark boy would still be at war within.

Hey, that was a point. Naruto wasn't the only one fighting a battle, maybe Sasuke would understand…

He had to laugh out loud at that. Yes…he'd understand all right, in his own dark way. Pondering through the blond's declaration with that pretty face showing no emotion, until stating how much of an idiot Naruto was for keeping it to himself. Nothing bad would come of telling a friend. That settled manners. He'd go right up to Sasuke and tell him what was going on. He was leaf-nin, he would understand.

Naruto opened the door…and barely missed the fist that came for his face.

"Naruto!" Dark eyes were alight with inner anger as a foot came from the left. Naruto rolled to the right and grabbed onto a wooden chair for balance.

"Sasuke! What the hell-?"

"What did you tell HIM!"

Who? What? Wher- the thought was cut out as Sasuke advanced with lethal intent. He seemed surprised when the chair came up to defend, Naruto shaking a bit behind it. Sasuke tsked with disgust, what was wrong with the blond? He'd never been scared of a fight before…

Though not with fear as the dark haired boy thought. Naruto was trying desperately to hold back the sudden influx of chakra that had appeared at his defence. If it hadn't been so dark, his eyes would have given away the sudden inner struggle.

The chair dug painfully into him as Sasuke pushed up against it and grabbed the wooden legs, attempting to wrench it out of his grip. But Naruto would not be moved, would not give way, lest the whole thing explode in his friends face. Red began to eek out of his hands and the alien power slowly began to spiral around the parts that he was holding onto, barely kept in check. The heat of the room dramatically rose to furnace level.

"Gaara. What did you tell him?" It was said through clenched teeth, and Sasuke moved so he was as close to the blonds face as possible.

Eh! He was trying to kill Naruto over a conversation! It didn't make him any better to know that Gaara had shared said talk with the person now trying to do him serious bodily harm. Naruto knew he shouldn't have said anything, damn hormones. He choked out an answer.

"You jackass! Why does everything have to be about YOU!" Naruto was on the edge now, his strained confidence bearing the brunt of this attack, the chair shook more as power began to fill it.

Sasuke just now began to notice the huge change in atmosphere, it was beginning to be very dark around Naruto, though the lights from the window should have been lighting up at least a few of his features. Slight wisps of smoke began to pop up from the joints of the wood he was holding, and he actually began to feel his hands start to burn.

Anger moved aside for startlement. What was Naruto-?

The thought was interrupted as the door suddenly slammed into his back, pushing him and a burst of colness forwards. The already weak chair gave way, and he was falling. Straight into Naruto. There was an oof that was smothered and in a tangle, they both fell to the floor. The heat was…incredible, suffocating, unbearable. And then a hand reached down and yanked him off of the blond into the cold night air. He gasped for air, but stifled it just as quickly, lest the weakness be noticed.

"Sorry about that you two, I heard yelling…" And so went Iruka. Kakashi, the one holding onto a now severely embarrassed Sasuke, just sighed and put him down on his feet, only to grab him again when he swayed.

"What's going on here?" Was the quiet statement from under the mask. There was a chuckle from the floor, and Naruto sat up. Sasuke blinked. Had it all been an illusion? He thought, as they fell, that he had seen something behind Naruto's eyes. Something he'd only witnessed once before…and then there was that heat.

"Sorry Kakashi-sensei, Iruka, it's nothing, really." The one eye narrowed at the cheeky, patent, Naruto grin and then focused on the taller Sasuke.

"Well!" The dark haired boy jumped and then just looked away in silent agreement. Another, long suffering sigh. "I thought you two were old enough to be over this by now. Sasuke go home. Naruto…" He turned away, having let the other boy go. He left them out into the snow with a parting glare.

"Iruka said that Gaara visited him today…and Sasuke mentioned earlier that you may have run into him. I hope you were careful? Relations with the Sand-nin are strained at best…"

Naruto looked up from trying to clean up the splinters as quickly and subtly as possible. Another fake smile.

"We just talked of old times and headaches, Kakashi-sensei. If you want proof ask Konohamaru when he wakes up tomorrow. He got most of the conversation without being caught, I think." And with that he turned his back on the other two, who shared a look. It hurt too much to smile anymore. There was silence until the door closed.

He waited a while longer, before finally leaning back against the wall under the window. Shadows and light danced as curtains moved. As he watched them with empty eyes he began to curl up on himself more.

What was he going to do now?