Disclaimer: Naruto and other characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi. Actual gay sex was MY idea, thank you very much.

… along with the exclamation mark and the Internet.

(And if you're not up to date on the anime or whatever ungodly-numbered manga chapter it is, there are spoilers)

Naruto kicked a rock down the middle of the road, glaring at the ground in front of him since he couldn't give that look to any of the other villagers. That would more than likely start trouble that Naruto just didn't want right now, anyone ready to fight with the Nine-Tails Fox Demon. Even after taking the Genin exam and shoving it all right back in their faces when he defeated Neji, not that much had changed. A few people no longer outright cursed or spat when he went by . . . but that was only because they respected his strength now. Naruto caught up with the rock he had kicked earlier, sending it rolling again as he strode miserably around the village. There had already been a morning meeting with Kakashi and the others this morning, but it had been nothing more than waiting a half an hour for Kakashi to show up and say that they had no missions today. On cue, they had all immediately split up before Naruto could even suggest they all train together instead- or at least talk for a little bit longer, just a few more minutes with his friends.

Why couldn't Sasuke be nice to him too?


He glanced up at the familiar voice, finally glancing up and seeing the part of town he was in. Naruto couldn't believe that he was next to his favorite ramen shop and hadn't even noticed, the smell stopping him dead in his tracks. Naruto stood there in the middle of the road like an idiot as a few villagers walked around him, finally locating that old Perverted Hermit waving at him from underneath the short curtains hanging over the doorway of the ramen shop. The old man already looked drunk even though it wasn't even dark yet, a red flush on his face and a horrible smell on his body when Naruto got closer.

"Sit down, Naruto, it's on me," Jiraiya laughed aloud, definitely drunk. He would never offer to pay otherwise. Naruto shrugged and was taking a seat by the taller man before he even really thought about it. All he heard was that there was free food.

It already seemed like the Perverted Hermit had been here a while, several empty plates in front of him along with three bottles of sake and that private gourd he carried around with him at all times. Naruto wasn't fooled when Jiraiya had said that it was just water. The old man was an incurable drunk and an outright pervert. Naruto wondered if Kakashi knew just who wrote his favorite books? He'd probably stop reading them then; Naruto glancing sideways at the old man hunched over the counter that had his wallet out in the open, resting on top of the worn wood surface carelessly. It was more than likely that someone would try to steal it, but Jiraiya would stop them before they got too far, no matter how drunk he was. Still, it was pretty careless of him.

"Hey, what can I get you?" the old man that owned the ramen shop cheerfully asked, smoothing down the front of his clean apron. The guy was always happy when he had a customer, and since Naruto was such a regular they got along pretty well. Naruto liked the old man and his much younger wife, especially since they hadn't ever once mentioned just what monster he held inside. At least, not to his face.

"Pork cutlet bowl!" Naruto ordered without even thinking, figuring that would be good enough for starters. If this was anything like eating with Iruka, Naruto could manage to weasel out a few extra bowls if he just waited. It had been a while since Naruto had eaten with the Perverted Hermit, and from what he remembered on their travels together, he'd been stuck with the check most of the time. Jiraiya had a nasty habit of walking off without paying, but this time he had said from the beginning that he would pay. Naruto could trust that at least, smiling as the old man went off to start cooking the meat for Naruto's order . . . and that smile slowly turning into a frown as he started thinking again.

"Naruto, is something bothering you?" Jiraiya asked immediately, picking up on his mood easily. The old man may have a healthy flush over his cheeks from the sake he had already put down, but he wasn't an idiot. Naruto really didn't want to talk about it, but he wasn't going to have many opportunities where someone would even like him, much less listen to his problems. It was Sasuke's fault for this whole mess in the first place, so Naruto didn't see why he had to feel so bad about this. Jiraiya seemed more interested in the leftover noodles from his bowl than whatever Naruto had to say anyway, so what would it matter if he started badmouthing Konoha's oh-so-precious, well-bred, and snotty as all hell genius.

"Well, Sasuke's being a jerk lately!" Naruto snapped out angrily. He didn't even understand what had happened himself. They had been doing so damn well too. Ever since Naruto had helped Sasuke with that cursed seal, it was like he had peeled back another layer from Sasuke's shields. Naruto had been let into Sasuke's life, deep enough to know that the other boy liked to take two showers a day, one in the morning and another at night- especially after he messed around with Naruto. Sasuke also kept his apartment cleaner than the hospital, always making Naruto feel awkward when he came over. He just constantly felt like he was going to screw something up whenever he was with Sasuke . . . and he didn't ever have to worry that any accidents would go unnoticed.

It was like Sasuke was just sitting around waiting for him to do something wrong just so he could call Naruto on it. There was nothing that could make Sasuke happy these days. He wouldn't even laugh for Sakura any more when they hung out together, not even bothering to fake a tolerable mood any longer. Naruto could sense that Sasuke was trying to pull away ever since they had become more . . . intimate. Naruto had made the mistake of saying 'fucked' and found himself with a kunai to the throat, nothing more unpredictable than Sasuke's wounded pride.

Even so, it had been fine the first few times- in fact, better than fine. Naruto loved being that close to another person, feeling skin on skin and knowing that Sasuke didn't think of him as some Demon Fox. It had been the best time of his life, a rush more exciting than any fight, and it was all because of Sasuke. The only problem was that Sasuke didn't do well with the idea of 'partners' or having something that resembled friendship, much less lovers despite anything they did in the privacy of their apartments. He had been trying to silently avoid Naruto lately, and he could bet that it wouldn't be long before Sasuke was outright pushing him away. It didn't matter if they messed around or not, if Naruto got to kiss those soft lips or if they were shut tightly in a line of disapproval, but Sasuke was his first friend. Naruto didn't want to lose that relationship, no matter what happened.

He liked talking with Sasuke, even if most of the time it was just the black-haired boy grunting when Naruto paused between stories. Sasuke would tell him to shut up more often than not, but he would still wait until Naruto was done speaking. He got the feeling that nobody had just joked around or even dared to tease Sasuke, the legendary survivor of the Uchiha clan.

In some ways, Sasuke was even more isolated and unapproachable than Naruto was, bitterly harsh with anyone who tried to attach themselves to him. Sakura had to deal with it the most, always getting the cold shoulder from Sasuke despite doing her best to catch his eye. It hurt sometimes to see the girl he used to love flirt with his best friend . . . and Sasuke had already forbidden Naruto from telling anyone things were different now between them. But, if he waited long enough, when nobody was around to see, Sasuke would put his arm over Naruto's shoulders and smile. Still, it had been forever since the last time Sasuke had willingly been nice to him.

"Oh, the Uchiha kid?" Jiraiya asked like there was another Sasuke that Naruto hung out with, just having to bring up that clan name. He knew that there was no way they could ever have an 'equal' relationship. He was the Nine-Tails Demon Fox, the curse of the village, while Sasuke was an elite among the nobles. He had been born that way. Naruto was always trying to catch up with the depressingly dark boy, so skilled at being a ninja but outright sucking at being a friend. Sasuke was strong, there was no doubt about that, and he had mastered powerful techniques that were much more precise and efficient than any of the moves Naruto knew… but, for some reason, Sasuke didn't understand why Naruto would want to stay with him once a mission was over.

It was enough to make Naruto want to beat Sasuke's ass into next week- if he didn't know that was exactly what Sasuke wanted. People may not give him very much credit for being sensitive or attuned to other people's feelings, but Sasuke might as well write out his moods on his forehead for how he frowned and glared. Naruto could estimate how pissed off Sasuke was just by the number of wrinkles between his eyebrows, and there had been quite a lot this afternoon.

"That idiot, Sasuke? Yeah! He hasn't been talking to me ever since we…" Naruto began to explain the reason for this fight, hesitating as he actually thought about yelling this aloud in public. Even if Jiraiya was the last person who would start berating him about common decency, Naruto still wasn't quite comfortable talking about this.

Things had been normal, typical, all day long. They had met at the western bridge at ten in the morning, waited until around noontime for Kakashi to finally show up, give them a lame excuse, and then leave them to their own devices for the rest of the day. Naruto had followed Sasuke home like a stray, and they had eventually wound up on top of Sasuke's futon after a long argument about who was better at throwing shuriken.

Naruto had forgotten what point he had been trying to prove soon enough when the yelling turned into kissing. Sasuke hadn't, however, stubbornly continuing the fight after they were both naked and Naruto had almost drifted off into a nap with both arms wrapped around the other boy. He would have been content to just stay within touching distance of Sasuke, didn't even have to talk to appreciate the company of another person, especially one he liked as much as Sasuke… but he just had to fall in love with the most conceited, bitter, obstinate bastard Konoha had to offer. When Sasuke had brought up their scores back in the Academy just to run his superiority in Naruto's, actually remembering worthless little details like that, he'd finally gotten fed up. Naruto had stormed out of there with a few choice words he was beginning to regret, realizing how childish he'd been as well.

"Since you…?" Jiraiya prompted, pouring himself another cup of sake as he waited for the rest of the story. Naruto wished that the depraved old man hadn't stopped him tonight and forced him to start thinking about what had happened. Already, he was starting to feel like he should go back and apologize to Sasuke.

That was the horrible, sad part about their relationship- Sasuke always had the upper hand. Sasuke liked being alone, where Naruto just couldn't handle it any more. Especially not since Sasuke had made the mistake of paying him a little bit of attention. Ever since then, it would take nothing short of a fatal wound to keep him away from Sasuke. The paler boy had once threatened to call Naruto a stalker and get some Jounins to protect him, but he had yet to follow through. Still, Naruto was wise enough to be careful, sure that one day Sasuke really would flip on him. He certainly had tonight, so intent on being such a pain in the ass that Naruto couldn't stand to be in the other boy's presence for another second.

Now, he wanted nothing more than to run right back to Sasuke's apartment and beg to be let back in.

"Have you ever… Have you ever really liked someone?" Naruto asked finally, ducking his gaze as he realized just was he was asking. He really was at the end of his rope, having no clue what to do with Sasuke or how to make him understand that he truly cared. He would do anything for Sasuke, would do his best to protect him from whatever haunted him, if only Sasuke would tell him what it was. Naruto had to guess most of it, piecing together Sasuke's history from what he had heard and seen. His older brother was someone that Naruto could live his whole life without ever meeting, and that Orochimaru freak needed a good punch right in the face. Naruto was more than prepared to kick ass whenever Sasuke was involved, not about to let anything worse happen to him than what had already gone on his hidden past.

"Huh?" Jiraiya drawled out, obviously too drunk to follow along with him immediately. The confused expression on his face was classic though, making Naruto relived that for once it was the other way around. One could get sick of always being left in the dark.

"Sasuke… Sasuke listens to me, but he doesn't say anything back," Naruto explained slowly. It was true. Sasuke would sit there silently, actually making eye contact with him instead of outright ignoring him like everybody else did. Sasuke took the time to nod and follow along with whatever Naruto wanted to say, even though half of the time he ended up bragging just to keep Sasuke's attention.

Naruto just didn't know how to act in front of others, suddenly faced with one-on-one conversations that seemed to fail miserably. Sasuke always ended up going back to his place before morning, never actually spending an entire night with him. Even when he stayed over at Sasuke's, the dark-haired boy would move away from him on the bed until they were no longer touching. Naruto always woke up alone. It was frustrating and tragic at the same time; Naruto unable to complain when Sasuke already did so much just by tolerating his presence beyond what was needed to accomplish a mission as a team.

"Naruto, do you mean that-…" the Perverted Hermit started, one eye more narrow than the other as the old man still grappled with what he was hearing.

"Sorry about the wait! Here's your pork cutlet bowl!" announced the shop owner, setting down a full serving in front of Naruto. He immediately grabbed a set of chopsticks out of the cup filled with them, giving thanks for the meal before digging in. This place was always the best. The noodles bordered on being too cooked, a little soft and a touch too hot- which was just the way Naruto liked it. There was a mix of vegetables as well as the thick pieces of pork floating around in the seasoned broth. Jiraiya ordered another bottle of sake and some fried octopus, proving his age all over again. Only old people would like something like that, Naruto more than happy slurping on his own bowl.

There was a drag of silence between them as Naruto concentrated on eating instead of worrying about his problems. The food was too good to be upset. The old man next him swirled the last cup of sake left in yet another bottle, as if he was tasting the liquor for the first time as he appreciated the sight and smell before drowning it all in one large gulp. Naruto sighed, waiting for Jiraiya to be finished until he tried talking again.

"I like Sasuke, but he doesn't seem to get it. We just end up fighting instead," Naruto grumbled, stabbing his chopsticks down intro the ramen and spinning them around angrily. How he'd like to stab the utensils into Sasuke's thick skull and wiggle them around until that damn Uchiha finally acted like a decent person. Naruto was so sick of it being some of the time, of waiting for the rare occasions when Sasuke was in a good mood. He could look so sweet and charming when he smiled- but Sasuke rarely let down his guard enough to allow such emotion to show on his face.

Naruto didn't understand how the guy could have so many fans when he could only make one expression- pissed off. Upset with the world and how his life had turned out, bitter and angry in general without needing a reason. Naruto would have gone crazy long before; if he didn't think he'd have to deal with more people just this Uchiha bastard when he became Hokage. Naruto was sure that there were more ninja that were the same Sasuke, the type to feel sorry himself and blame it on everyone else. That all-consuming depression was infectious, and if he wasn't careful, Sasuke could bring him down so fast that it could take days for Naruto to really recover. He wouldn't be able to pretend that his feelings weren't hurt and nothing had happened for very much longer. Naruto was already hitting against the limit of his patience for Sasuke . . . even if Sasuke was one of the few people in the village that would actually talk to Naruto like he was a human being.

"Because one of you has to be better than the other?" the Perverted Hermit asked, obviously taking time in choosing his words but somehow still managing to be natural. Jiraiya was actually looking at him now, holding up a cup at the ready in case he would need to drink after Naruto's answers. He stared back at the old man, thinking about those words and realizing just how true they were.

"Yeah, exactly!" Naruto cried out in agreement, slamming his chopsticks down on the table. He was too angry to eat now. "He always has to win!" Naruto added, wanting to go right back to the jerk's apartment and kick his ass once and for all. There would be no question about who was better if Naruto made Sasuke eat dirt. He couldn't understand why Sasuke had to fixate on the strangest things to fight about, from throwing shuriken to who had cleaner hair. Naruto didn't even think about half the things that Sasuke was clearly so upset about, enough to observe and remember and eventually get bitter about it. Sasuke would be fine if he didn't have such a dark, poisonous loneliness inside. That was probably what Naruto didn't get about Sasuke the most. All the other boy had to do was walk down a street and he'd easily have half a dozen girls licking his heels. Everyone loved Sasuke, wanted to congratulate him on how well he had done during the Chuunin exam. Sasuke was the village's last remaining bit of respected and formerly powerful nobility, the Uchiha name enough to get Sasuke whatever he wanted. There were some days when Naruto had to sneak out his window because there had been some drunk, violent asshole waiting for him on the other side of his door. The difference in their lives was so obvious, and yet Sasuke suffered from the same agonizing solitude that Naruto had . . . except now he was with Sasuke most of the time, so there was no reason to think he was alone any more. Why couldn't Sasuke fucking see that as well! If Naruto didn't know any better, he'd say that Sasuke liked feeling so bad all the time. He could get so depressed and withdrawn that he wouldn't even move from mattress, sheets pulled over his head like a child. Some times, there were no jokes or insults that could get Sasuke moving, until Naruto had nothing left to do but sit there quietly along with the other boy- because that was better than being alone.

"Even in bed?" the old man asked slowly, carefully. Naruto didn't know if it was supposed to be a joke or not, but his mouth was already moving

"Especially there, except I- . . ." Naruto blurted before he realized what was coming out. Jiraya's mouth dropped, hands frozen above his bowl of ramen as they stared at each other. The old man's face was unreadable, though flushed from how much sake he must have already had tonight. Naruto felt a sweat break out on his forehead and didn't dare wipe it away. He couldn't stop looking at the other man, worried that the infamous, lecherous author would actually have some scruples against a gay couple. He hadn't ever had a conversation about it before, but it had never been such a problem, until now.

"Do you like Sasuke? As more than a friend?" a certain bit of serious inflection entering his voice. Jiraiya may write his own dirty novels, but there was always a man and a woman on the cover. He had never asked what the old man thought about same-sex couples. It had never been important before. Now, Naruto was waiting for one of the few people who even recognized his existence to say something, to pass judgement. He was scared, ice growing on the bottom of his stomach as Perverted Hermit waited silently for an answer, like he was enjoying stretching out the awkwardness. He was never quiet, especially not after drinking! Naruto suddenly found himself struggling just to keep what little ramen he'd had down in his stomach, bile rising in his throat as the old man kept staring at him like he truly was a monster.

"Hmm? What's that face for?" Jiraiya demanded, finally noticing Naruto's discomfort. "I'm just worried you two are a little young to be fooling around like that."

He sighed so loudly that his whole body seemed to fall down. It was just about age, not that Jiraiya was actually thinking badly of him. The Perverted Hermit just raised an eyebrow and cautiously resumed his meal without looking away from him, obviously waiting for the full story. Naruto shrugged, pausing to slurp down some noodles and buy himself some time. What had happened between him and Sasuke had just . . . happened. They had already killed people before on missions, so why would having sex be such a big deal?

"Well, how young were you when you did it for the first time?" Naruto snapped right back, hoping to divert attention from himself.

Surprisingly enough, that was what finally got a reaction out of the old man as he choked on his sake and got stuck in a coughing fit. He was blushing in a way that had nothing to do with the alcohol, way, way, waaaaay over fifty years old and still embarrassed about it. Naruto blinked, surprised at what he had been able to do as Jiraiya picked up a napkin to wipe his face clean. He mumbled something about Naruto not being interested in such stories, but the Perverted Hermit was obviously thinking back to that time- whenever it had been for the old man.

"Stupid bitch! When I get free, I'm going to finally teach you a real lesson!" Jiraiya yelled at Tsunade's back, kicking his legs in the air in outrage. He was lashed to the wooden post from shoulder to waist, unable to break the ropes or move the pole he was restrained to. Damn Konoha traditions; this was fucking abuse! One stupid training session after another, absolutely no real situations where Jiraiya's genius could be applied. Their team of three had been ordered to grab two bells from their professor; whoever didn't manage to get one wouldn't be allowed lunch. Jiraya was still in the middle of his growth spurt! He couldn't afford to miss a single meal . . . and in his zealousness had been hit in the head twice before waking up tied up like this. They had all gathered at the edge of the clearing where there were several posts dug into the ground. This was usually meant as training ground for the Taijutsu-users, with plenty of open space and targets to practice moves on. Now, it was being used as a torture field while Tsunade held up two bells and all three of the box lunches she'd won, the sneaky little vixen.

"I'd watch your mouth, you freakin' mutt! I'm definitely not helping you now," she swore very seriously, her pigtails whipping around her back as she tossed her head angrily. Despite being just as young as them, she had already begun to show signs of puberty- hips and breasts that Jiraiya could actually notice. In a few more months, they might be curvy enough to actually appreciate. Until then, she was just another foul-mouthed girl with too much attitude. Jiraiya didn't know why he had to be teamed up with a brat like her and another boy that was so thin and pretty he could hardly be counted as one. Orochimaru was a stick of white in a plain yukata that contrasted hard with the other boy's arrogance, standing back and obviously entertained at the scene. His skin was barely a shade darker than milk with stark black hair, the only bit of color on him in those strange and golden reptilian eyes. It was hard to glance back and forth between the other two, Tsunade's own pink tank top, matching shoes, and loose, soft green pants getting unbearably brighter every time. She had the nerve to show her skinny little girl waist after pulling that winning antic, making Jiraiya hate her more.

"You only got those because you cheated, damn it!" Jiraiya roared, renewing his struggles to break the ropes so he could knock some sense into Tsunade. Orochimaru made a noise of agreement, the first thing he'd said since this argument had started.

"'Cheated!' I only used what I had!" Tsunade snapped right back, even though she had a definite blush covering her cheeks. Jiraiya wasn't surprised after the little bitch had actually managed to get close enough to Sarutobi to land a hit . . . and flashed the old man instead, dropping him hard with blood coming from his nose. Even Orochimaru had looked shocked and more than a little upset that Tsunade could win just because she had boobs. Their teacher was a hopeless pervert, but it wasn't like they had anything that could get that kind of reaction. Tsunade had taken the bells before Jiraiya could even try to steal them, so he settled with rummaging through his teacher's pockets instead. A ninja's reactions upon waking from his lecherous stupor were uncanny, but Jiraiya didn't think he should be the only one to get hit and tied up.

"Amazing you could do anything with those flat, pink mosquito bites on your chest," he grumbled out darkly, having been forced to see whether he wanted to or not and being sorely disappointed in spite of it all.

Tsunade's shoulders twitched, a strange kind of smile spreading over her face as she ducked her head down, eyes hidden by the fall of her bangs. Orochimaru was already sliding backwards through the grass, silently distancing himself like the snake he was. Jiraiya couldn't even budge as she approached, already able to figure that his insult hadn't really been worth it in the end.

One small, pink shoe was able to do incredible damage as she kicked him hard right in the groin.

Jiraiya couldn't even fall to the ground, coughing and blind with the pain as Tsunade walked off to have her lunch alone. The bitch was the only one who had anything to eat in the end anyway. The ropes dug into his stomach as he coughed and wheezed pathetically, left to die without so much as a second glance back. For a brief moment of panic, Jiraiya wondered if he would even be able to have kids now. It certainly felt like she had broken something as Jiraiya pressed his knees together in an attempt to ease the aching throb between his legs.

"Are you okay?" Orochimaru's soft question was even more unexpected than Tsunade's kick, since the bastard rarely cared about anything that didn't directly concern him. The boy had managed to sneak back up beside him without a sound, just as quickly as he had left when Tsunade had been attacking him. Jiraiya could only make an agonized, wheezing noise for an answer, shaking his head in an obvious negative. Orochimaru just arched a thin eyebrow; the skin underneath smeared with purple mascara. Even Tsunade wasn't old enough to be wearing make-up, but Orochimaru did it with pride. He liked bringing out that sinister side, a shockingly wickedpersonality underneath it all. That's why it made even less sense for him to be giving a damn right now.

"Maybe I should take a look," Orochimaru announced, more like he was talking to himself as slitted eyes went down to his groin in a pointed manner.

"No, no, I'm . . . I'm okay, honest," Jiraiya forced out, though it was now because he was uncomfortable instead of in any real pain. He just didn't like the look that had started to grow in Orochimaru's eyes. He had some sort of plan going on, and that could never mean good things. The thinner boy obviously ignoring him, bending down to peer closer at the incredibly personal area as Jiraiya fidgeted without any results. Damn Sarutobi for being able to make the knots so tight in the rope!

"She kicked you pretty hard," Orochimaru argued, always able to beat Jiraiya when it came to rationalizing and discussion. If Jiraiya just had one arm free, he could have easily punched the little serpent freak into next week- but he had been tied up too well to break free. Orochimaru knelt all the way to the grass, taking the time to brush his yukata back into order like a spoiled prince as he settled down exactly eye-level with Jiraiya's crotch.

"Just untie me, damn it!" Jiraiya screeched as he kicked out, meaning to strike Orochimaru right in the middle of his big, fat head. Instead, the pale and slender boy slammed two hands down on the top of his knees. Even though he was skinnier than Tsunade, Orochimaru possessed a ridiculous strength and speed as well. He had given Jiraiya some trouble before during mock combat, but eventually brute strength won out over all. The same theory didn't really apply when he was immobilized from the waist up, stuck in one spot.

"Stay still. What if something is damaged?" Orochimaru countered while he began pulling down Jiraiya's pants.

"'Damaged' my ass! I'll find that out on my . . . own," Jiraiya's perfectly good rant ended in a squeak as fresh summer air hit his genitals. His own clothing was used against him as Orochimaru looped one hand underneath his pants and over a leg. The other one was trapped between Orochimaru's own, straddling Jiraiya hard with long, black hair tickling his thighs. He couldn't see the other boy's face, but from this angle he looked so much like a girl it was unbearable. Orochimaru was more feminine than that beast Tsunade could ever imagine of being, and he wasn't even trying.

"It looks a little red," he assessed quietly. Jiraiya wasn't sure if Orochimaru was talking about his penis or his face, blushing so hard that steam must have been coming from his ears. How could he be so calm about this? It was one thing to see another boy in the bathroom or before they had to change for a mission, it was something entirely fucking different when he was the only one with his pants down. He bit his lip, humiliated and horrified . . . and slightly turned on despite it all. Damn Orochimaru for taking advantage of young hormones that Jiraiya had absolutely no control over yet. He had kissed and hugged a few girls, had managed to sneak a few peeks into the women's side of the public baths, but none of them had been so daring as to remove a single article of clothing. Orochimaru was completely the opposite, so removed that Jiraiya couldn't even be sure if he really cared as dry, snakeskin fingers touched dangling flesh.

He'd been on the verge of becoming aroused, mostly able to fight it off because he'd been too stunned. Now, he was losing even the sense to argue as Orochimaru examined him, hand tugging and squeezing like he was just some stupid animal . . . and Jiraiya was, heat exploding in his gut and shooting down to his formerly aching balls. Orochimaru definitely wasn't just checking him for injury, but fondling him hard, fingers massaging out all the pain and turning it into shocking little jolts of pleasure.

"Does that help?" Orochimaru asked smartly as Jiraiya's cock began to grow hard, wanting the obvious stated. His mouth wasn't working properly, not even if Jiraiya had been coherent enough to keep fighting. His hips were already started to twitch forward, instincts taking over when his brain couldn't figure out just what the hell was going on. Was this some sort of payback for always beating Orochimaru during their training? Either he had some sort of grudge against Jiraiya or was really coming on to him. Orochimaru had never shown any sort of interest in him- in fucking anything, for a matter of fact. He was about as disrespectful and haughty as they came, and had made it clear before that he wasn't fond of Jiraiya's rash behavior or lack of any real plans in life. He only wanted to get stronger; not get tied to posts, kicked by girls, and felt up by his teammate.

"Orochi- . . ." Jiraiya started to protest again, but he could only get out the first half of the name before the other boy experimentally licked the twitching head of his erection. Jiraiya's fingers dug in hard to the wood post behind him, splinters driving into his skin and under nails, but he barely even felt it. It was like everything had shut down except the direct connection between his brain and his dick. Orochimaru's tongue was warm, wet, and surprisingly long as he ran it along Jiraiya's entire length, pausing underneath his bellybutton.

Jiraiya's breath caught, feeling like he was going to explode any minute and knowing that Orochimaru was probably getting some kind of sick pleasure out of this all. He was planning something; he always was. The only trouble was figuring out just what the fuck it might be! Jiraiya had been completely lost long ago, concentrating on controlling his breathing and not exploding right in Orochimaru's face. The other boy had no idea what sort of monster he was calling life as he kneaded heated flesh with a solid and sure grip, arousing Jiraiya to the point of tears. He wished his hands were free, no longer so he could smack Orochimaru a good one for daring to take advantage of him like this, but to hold him there in case he got the idea of backing off.

Orochimaru chuckled once at the reaction he was causing before his mouth swallowed Jiraiya whole, like he was an old expert at this. He wasn't uncomfortable at all; nose buried into Jiraiya's pubic hair, and a faint purring noise audible above his own protesting moans. Orochimaru's mouth and throat provided a warm, wet oblivion to thrust into, only seemed to grow larger and softer every time. It was completely insane, but he didn't really give a damn. He was past restraint and common sense, moaning wantonly, arching back with the sensation. He was making noises that would embarrass even Tsunade, but it only seemed to encourage Orochimaru to move faster.

He was much better at this than he should be, forcing Jiraiya onto the point of insanity. It just wasn't fair; the ropes creaking with the strain as Jiraiya struggled with the sensation of Orochimaru working his mouth up and down, over and over. By all standards, he should have died from over-stimulation quite a while ago. Jiraiya found himself staring up at the sky instead, finally noticing how damn blue it was as Orochimaru sucked and licked and touched . . . Since when had his hand gotten so warm and soft, his tongue nothing but slick velvet greedily running along sensitive skin?

Years later, when asked by annoying little runts of apprentices and a few choice drinking-buddies, Jiraiya would insist that it had lasted much longer than it did.

But, as it was, he had come with a mortifyingly loud cry right into Orochimaru's mouth, like a dog that couldn't keep itself from humping the furniture. What made it worse were the sloppy noises Orochimaru kept on making afterward, making sure to lick up every last drop after sucking him completely dry. Jiraiya was still doing his best just to remember his name, legs shuddering helplessly while Orochimaru surveyed his work with smug satisfaction. No smart comments came to mind, only Jiraiya's hissing breath between clenched teeth as he sagged down with the bone-deep weariness of a good orgasm. Granted there had been very few, the majority of them delivered by his own right hand, but this one had trumped them all. Orochimaru was smiling as though he knew it too, slowly releasing Jiraiya from his awkward but effective hold.

"Now . . . how should I leave you?" Orochimaru asked aloud, settling back onto his ankles with one hand pressed to his chin like he was in some sort of philosophical debate with himself. Jiraiya still had his hands lashed down to the post at his back and his pants dropped down over his shoes. He couldn't do anything in this situation- except beg for mercy.

"You wouldn't!" Jiraiya cried out, praying that Orochimaru wouldn't be so heartless. The asshole had already abandoned him when Tsunade had been trying to send him into the next world. There wasn't even a logical explanation for the sudden change in attitude; not that Jiraiya didn't appreciate it. The fact that he was tied up with his dick still wet from Orochimaru's mouth was another matter entirely. Tsunade and Sarutobi could come back at any minute, and neither of them was the type to handle this sort of scene with delicacy. If they found the two of them like this, Jiraiya wouldn't ever hear the end of it.

"Orochimaru! If you don't pull my pants up, I'll . . . I'll never return the favor!" Jiraiya swore, throwing out the only threat he could think of at the time. Again, Orochimaru made one elegant eyebrow curve up at the threat, clearly not impressed. Jiraiya moved his leg at last, meaning to kick the boy down while he was unguarded, but Orochimaru managed to catch his leg with uncanny reflexes without breaking his gaze from Jiraiya's own once.

"Ever?" Orochimaru asked with a smirk that told him the other boy knew very well just how hollow that threat was.

Amazing how that one little question could excite him all over again.

"So?" Naruto asked with some impatience when Jiraiya stayed silent for too long. The Perverted Old Hermit refused to answer him, concentrating on finishing off all of his sake in one solid gulp. Naruto grumbled at being treated like a child as he hunched his shoulder down and stared into his ramen. He was half-hoping the old man would tell him how his first time had gone, no matter if it had been with a girl or not, so Naruto could hopefully take some hints from it. The man had written several books on the subject after all. Naruto didn't know what else to do. Sasuke was becoming more and more distant, and Naruto couldn't remember how many days it had been since he had last been allowed to hug the other boy.

"I'll tell you that story another time, okay, Naruto?" Jiraiya snapped impatiently, forgetting to mention that it could be a few days or a few weeks before he saw the man next. It wasn't even like Jiraiya did anything besides being a lecherous old man, but he somehow managed to keep busy.

"But, what am I supposed to do about Sasuke now?" Naruto asked desperately. Jiraiya glanced down at him in surprise, finally realizing that Naruto could care less about Jiraiya's sex life, whatever it may have been. He needed advice, and he didn't care whom he got it from. Naruto was just at the end of his rope, hanging on miserably until Sasuke cut all ties off at last. It was painful to think about but Naruto didn't foresee anything else happening unless he did something drastic. Sasuke was impatient at best, so Naruto had to figure out what he was doing wrong quick. It didn't even occur to him that the Uchiha descendent could just quite be impossible to please.

"The only thing that I've ever regretted was not being honest. Trust me, Naruto, after you've had a few more relationships you'll understand that sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, because you're still going to be in trouble. If you at least stay true to yourself, than there's nothing to worry about."

It was probably the best opinion anyone had ever shared with him. Naruto gaped at the Perverted Hermit, more shocked that the old man had actually been able to say something so profound. He was right- except for the part about Naruto needing to be in other relationships. He'd been lucky enough to get Sasuke- harder still to find more people who might tolerate the presence of the Demon Fox child. The only problem was that Sasuke didn't believe in things like 'friendship' or 'love.' He viewed them more as physical afflictions than emotions. It didn't even really make sense for such complete opposites like them to be together, but somehow they had always managed to work before. It was only lately that the harder Naruto worked to finally be complimented by Sasuke, the more the other boy would to tear into him for mistakes that Naruto didn't even know he'd made.

"Besides, if you just nod your head and agree, the better the odds are for a little make-up sex," Jiraiya offered, pointing and winking Naruto significantly.

He felt the blush take him from toes to hairline, steam exploding out his ears as Jiraiya just chuckled at the damage he could cause. Hadn't the old man been lecturing him about it only a few seconds ago! Adults were such hopeless hypocrites! Naruto was left with no other choice but to walk away from the Perverted Hermit, needing some time alone to think.

At least there was one certainty in his life; some people veering all the way over the opposite side of the street just to avoid him. All he had to do was just not try and everyone would leave him alone.

Always alone.

It was a slow walk home; his feet dragging pathetically along the ground as he thought hard about all the mistakes he had made with Sasuke. There had to be reasons why Sasuke hated him so much, things that Naruto had done wrong. As much as the Perverted Hermit had tried to cheer him up, he couldn't get rid of the honest truth. Naruto annoyed Sasuke. He wasn't worth the Uchiha's time. He was just some stray, parentless child with a monster sealed inside his stomach. Sasuke was the last remaining member of Konoha nobility, a true genius that certainly didn't have the time for a dropout like him.

He went to sleep like that, barely evening having the free will to change his clothes before bed. He just stared at the wall, remembering how many times Sasuke had called him an idiot, before exhaustion finally overtook him.

Naruto didn't expect the knocking on his door . . . well, what turned into heavy pounding when it took Naruto a moment to wake up and realize someone was really visiting him. He managed to untangle himself from the warm bedsheets holding him back, stumbling against the wall and to the entrance in a blurry haze.

He didn't have to look at a clock to know that it was too damn late at night for any decent guest to come calling. He could only hope that it wasn't the drunkard from downstairs that would come up just to harass him for being alive. Over the years Naruto had finally gotten fed up and simply punched the bastards' lights out, effectively ending the rages. He was too tired to deal with that sort of crap right now, unlocking the door with a heavy sigh.

He opened it to the last person he would have expected. Sasuke already had both hands in his pockets instead of trying to beat his door down, looking sideways over at the empty balcony as if he didn't even mean to be here. Naruto couldn't say anything, staring at the other boy in complete shock. Uchiha Sasuke never came to his side of town unless forced to. Naruto couldn't imagine what would have brought Sasuke here, about to ask why- . . .

"Do you think you're stronger than me?" Sasuke demanded in a dead, soft voice, not even bothering to look in Naruto's general direction while asking the question.

"What?" Naruto didn't understand if this was supposed to be a joke or something. Sasuke blinked over at him slowly, a visible shudder going through his shoulders. Naruto didn't know what his problem could be, not when he looked so good even though it was way past midnight. Sasuke had taken to wearing black lately, probably trying to be somber and dull but only looking more handsome for it all. The stupid jerk didn't even care about his pretty face, unable to understand why the girls were always flocking around him. He lacked a sense about those things, especially when it came down comprehending other people's feelings . . . like his.

Naruto had enough time to rub at his exhausted eyes before Sasuke kicked him in the middle of the stomach, sending him into the door with a resounding thud. He stumbled and managed to slap a hand against the wall, somehow regaining his balance. The only problem was that Sasuke was already moving, slamming his fist into the side of his face and backhanding Naruto in the same motion. It was enough to make his nose bleed, his fingers wet with red snot when Naruto smeared his hand underneath his mouth.

This was definitely the rudest fucking awakening he'd had in years.

"What the hell are you doing!" Naruto screamed as the door slammed shut behind his teammate. Sasuke seemed to fill up the hallway, the usual darkness of night becoming thicker and more ominous just because he was there. Sasuke had that sort of presence, an attitude that would send some children running off screaming when the Uchiha glared at them. Naruto had been around Sasuke long enough to know just how cruel the other boy could be. Sasuke had just never been so openly violent with him before- at least outside the mock duels Kakashi had to constantly split up when things got too serious. Right now, there was no reason, no emotion in Sasuke's dark, black eyes. Naruto had a hard time not flinching when Sasuke advanced on him, straightening up his back instead and glaring Sasuke square in the eyes.

"You think you're better somehow?" Sasuke demanded, obviously not pleased with the damage he had already caused and that Naruto could recover so easily. He raised his fist up again, but Naruto was now awake enough to slide into a defensive stance; more than ready if Sasuke dared to hit him again. Sasuke tisked at the change in body language, like he hadn't expected Naruto to fight back when he was being beaten for no damn good reason.

"Sasuke, I don't know what you're talking about!" Naruto pleaded with Sasuke to stop being so fucking ridiculous. He hated when they fought, arguing and bickering simply because Sasuke didn't have the capacity in his heart to trust other people. Even though Naruto was sure he was closer to Sasuke than anyone else in the entire village, the boy still didn't have the slightest amount of faith in him. Sasuke assumed everyone was going to betray him, or die and leave him alone again. Naruto could glean that much from the murmurs Sasuke made when he was in the throes of a nightmare, or on the even rarer occasions when he actually told someone else how he was really feeling on the inside.

"I know you secretly train after all our missions and team meetings! Did you really believe I wouldn't notice?" Sasuke hissed out bitterly, stepping forward and invading Naruto's personal space in an instant. He was almost close enough to be touching Naruto, and yet managed to hold himself back. It only made things worse as the hairs on the back of Naruto's neck bristled, preparing for an attack. He couldn't understand why Sasuke was being so violent right now, why the fact that Naruto practiced ninja techniques every possible moment of the day would piss him off so.

Since when had Sasuke found out, anyway? Naruto had long since made a habit of using the time between the missions their three-man team was given. Training in the woods at the edge of the village until pure physical exhaustion stopped him was something he had turned into a routine long ago. Anything was better than sitting alone in his apartment, listening to people outside the window- ones that had lives worth living. Naruto had managed to salvage together a real dream, had finally started walking down that path to becoming Hokage. But, he was still just a Genin in Team Seven; -always up-shown by Sasuke or outsmarted by Sakura. He wasn't smart or special, beyond his ability to irritate even the most serene and composed personality. Naruto was just a lower-level ninja who had the dumb fucking luck of being born the vessel of the Nine-Tails Demon Fox.

"I'm not trying to be better than you. I'm trying to keep up. We're supposed to rivals, right?" Naruto tried for honesty, looking at Sasuke in the hope that the other boy would just be able to understand him. He had never once admitted to being better than Sasuke, though it wasn't for lack of trying. Naruto was always struggling against his reputation as a dropout and screw-up, only looking for someone to actually recognize his skills as a ninja. He was truly lucky to be teamed up with the genius like Sasuke; able to observe amazing techniques one after the other while the boy single-handedly finished missions that should have taken all of their combined effort. Kakashi was always praising Sasuke, encouraging Sakura, and yelling at Naruto. No matter how hard he tried; he just couldn't seem to surpass Sasuke in Taijutsu, Ninjutsu, or even outright yelling matches.

"'Rivals?' Don't give me that shit. You. Are. Below. Me," Sasuke hissed out, managing to stab right through Naruto with every word. It was always surprising when Sasuke was such an absolute bastard- not because the attitude was unexpected, but shock at how utterly inhuman and cold Sasuke could be. If Naruto hadn't seen it before, he wouldn't have believed Sasuke was even capable of shedding tears. It was like Sasuke had come over tonight just to see how much it took to make Naruto cry. He'd be damned if he was going to take this sort of abuse in the front door of his apartment.

Naruto swung at Sasuke with all of his strength, depending on surprise to land a heavy blow to Sasuke's side. He just grunted and took it, throwing an elbow down against the back of Naruto's neck instead. He lost his balance, flying face-first into Sasuke's knee.

There was a moment of blinding-white shock before Naruto hit the floor . . . blinking and dazed by how terribly wrong things were going. His nose was starting to bleed. Sasuke just smiled in a twisted manner, his eyes not matching the quivering line his lips were making.

"See? I could kick your ass any time I wanted to," he sneered, wiping at his face with the back of his hand. Naruto began to take in the washed-out pallor of Sasuke's skin, the blue and purple streaks underneath his distant and ice-hard gaze. He could tell that Sasuke hadn't been sleeping, was stressed and in 'fight-mode,' was deeply disturbed by something he would never tell Naruto about.

Sasuke wasn't like that. Everything that really hurt him was kept on the inside, far away from anyone else. He might not ever talk to Naruto about what was going on, but at least he was coming over to take out his frustration. That was good enough for Naruto, when he was used to be utterly and completely ignored.

"Fine, go ahead. Hit me until you're satisfied," Naruto offered, rolling onto his back to his expose his stomach. He didn't say it to be cocky, or in a sarcastic manner that Sasuke was so fond of using. He was just being honest. Naruto didn't really cared what happened to his body. All pains healed soon enough, or he would just learn to adjust. If it would somehow help Sasuke deal with whatever crisis he was going through right now, then all the more reason to let Sasuke beat up on him. At least he could be useful for once.

There was a thick, solid silence as Sasuke's face twisted up between severe depression or rage . . . one expression was what Sasuke was really feeling, while the other was the tough front the dark-haired boy put up all the time. The only problem was that Naruto couldn't figure out which one was the truth. He could only lie there as Sasuke grabbed at the back of neck hard enough to make his fingers red when he pulled them away.

"You don't understand! You never understand anything, Naruto!" Sasuke screamed out like he was the one being assaulted, kicking the door shut behind it. The echoing slam made Naruto start despite himself, his heart beating panicky in his ears. He could feel Sasuke's irritation like a living thin in the air, pressing down against him with all intention to kill. Naruto had felt this sort of bloodlust before from other Shinobi, ones that were after his life or capture just because of some monster sealed inside his belly. Even so, no matter how serious their fights had gotten, Sasuke had never given off this kind of pure hatred.

Naruto had no doubt in his mind that if he even so much as moved wrong, Sasuke would slit his throat open.

What was even scarier was that a small part of him thought it would be all right . . . since it was Sasuke, after all. The first person to ever accept his existence, to recognize him as another person. Naruto had always thought it was because they were basically the same on the inside . . . wretchedly, terribly alone.

Sasuke dropped down on top of his chest, simply not heavy enough to make it anything more than uncomfortable. It was the two knees digging into the inside of Naruto's elbows that hurt, efficiently pinning him down. It wasn't like Naruto was even giving up a fight, didn't even make a sound when Sasuke struck him across the face- so hard that he couldn't even tell if it was a slap or a fist.

Another hit followed, this time definitely a punch. Naruto could feel the knuckles grazing up against his cheek. They were already wet, open red wounds from the skin being torn back. Sasuke had already been hitting at walls or something equally hard, not caring of the damage it caused to his hands.

Now, he was using those same fists to strike at Naruto repeatedly, obviously beyond feeling the pain he was inflicting upon himself. Sasuke was grunting, louder with each hit he landed while Naruto just stared up at the other boy silently . . . at his dark, fathomless eyes and loose black hair . . . Naruto finally noticed that Sasuke wasn't wearing his forehead protector to hold his hair up like usual. Sasuke looked nice like this, actually being honest for once. Even if it was to just strike out at his closest friend, Sasuke was finally showing his real emotions. Naruto was so sick and lonely that he didn't really care, each punch beginning to feel like a kiss. This was something that Sasuke wouldn't do to Sakura. This was unique, just between them.

A fist paused in the air, the arm holding it up shaking hard. Naruto blinked up at Sasuke through the burning, swelling bruising that was already coming in on his face, unable to understand why the other boy had stopped. Wasn't this making him feel better? Naruto would let Sasuke hit at him until he actually ended up dead. He wouldn't mind it, if he could bring Sasuke out of the depression that had fallen upon him

"Damn it! Why won't you hit me!" Sasuke bit out, sagging down hard as the violence left him for a moment. He slid off Naruto's arms, breaking in half until Sasuke's forehead hit his chest. Naruto was motionless, looking down at Sasuke as the other boy hunched over him . . . his hitched breathing signaling that he might be ready to cry.

Naruto couldn't understand a single bit of this mess. He didn't know what Sasuke was thinking, feeling, or even why he was doing all of this. Some kind of internal wound had busted open and there didn't seem an easy way to fix it. Sasuke hadn't been this bad since the first weeks after the cursed seal had first appeared on his neck. Even so, throughout Sasuke's worst depressions and unpredictable rages, he'd still been the best friend Naruto had ever managed to have. Sasuke was the only person that actually shown him affection- could turn into this soft, vulnerable thing melting on top of him.

It was all completely senseless, but Naruto didn't really care if Sasuke had a reason or not. It was more than enough that he'd come over of his own free will. Naruto just had to ignore everything that had followed after he'd opened the door. This unreasonable, erratic, and downright insane side of the Uchiha was just a sharp edge to his charm. One had to look past the terrible person Sasuke could be at times and see the gentle, shy person that just needed someone to weather through all the bullshit. Someone that would allow Sasuke to hit at all he wanted without complaining.

It was so damn simple that even someone like Naruto could do it. For one moment, he actually felt special. He couldn't stop from reaching out, even though his elbows burned in protest, and putting a hand on top of Sasuke's soft, silky black hair.

"I love you," Naruto whispered it; not even realizing how damaged his own jaw was until he moved his mouth. They both were still for a moment, aching with different kinds of pain, not quite holding onto each other . . . but the small contact was enough to bring tears to both their eyes.

Sasuke screamed out wordlessly, like Naruto had managed to plunge a blade into his guts. He knocked off Naruto's hand with a violent jerk, as if he couldn't even stand to be in the same room with him . . . but stayed there on Naruto's stomach, knees on either side of him, head bent back as he stared up at the roof. It was like everything in the entire world had abandoned Sasuke, leaving nothing but a cold, dark shell of a person. One that Naruto loved so badly it hurt . . . not like the bruises Sasuke's blows would leave on his body, but on the inside. A clenching, icy feeling that took away rational thought. All he knew was that he didn't want to be alone.

Naruto glanced up into Sasuke's black, bottomless eyes- all emotion tucked away so tightly that no one could guess what the Uchiha might be thinking. Naruto closed his eyes, not sure if he wanted to know what would happen. He only wanted Sasuke to accept him, always ready to do anything for the other boy.

The next moment, Sasuke was kissing him, violently, desperately . . . his teeth managing to find Naruto's lower lip and bite down hard. He tasted blood; Naruto was sure that the both of them did. The kiss simply deepened, pushing Naruto's skull down against the floor as Sasuke tried to dominate him their mouths alone. Naruto almost choked on Sasuke's tongue as it shoved against the back of his throat, his body jerking instinctively before he could stop it. One of his hands managed to find Sasuke's shirt, making a fist and tugging him closer.

Naruto didn't care about the pain Sasuke was causing. It was just a price that came along with Sasuke finally expressing his love. He couldn't be any closer to the usually solitary Uchiha than he was now. Naruto didn't need pretty words or any kind of foreplay, completely ready to be whatever Sasuke needed. His pajamas were unsteadily jerked over his knees, bunching around his ankles and too much trouble to worry about any further. Sasuke's other hand found one of Naruto's, sliding up his wrist, his palm, and finally knotting their fingers together in a parody of intimacy.

"How do you like it when someone crawls all over you? When they destroy all the trust you had in them?" he hissed out, teeth fastening down on his shoulder. This time, Sasuke bit down hard into the muscle like he was trying to take a chunk out, blood flowing freely once again. Naruto couldn't help grunting at the pain, his first audible complaint since Sasuke had gotten serious. Ice-cold fingers found his hip, distracting Naruto as they slid down . . . and clenched around his penis hard, without any thought or finesse.

Naruto let out his own cry then, arching up against the floor in an instinctive, pathetic attempt to get away. When things hurt, a body couldn't help but struggling. Sasuke just pressed his slightly smaller body down over Naruto's own, still yanking at his dick like he meant to take it off. This wasn't romantic, going a bit beyond what Naruto had foolishly guessed Sasuke might be planning to do.

This was all about domination. Naruto had already given up the moment he'd let Sasuke in. He was going to be the victim tonight, at least physically. Emotionally, it was like Sasuke had lost long ago; so much pent-up rage and anguish taking over- easily turning Sasuke into a cold monster that didn't care about his own friends or comrades. Sometimes it was like the dark-haired boy had forgotten the meaning of the words. Naruto had already tried understanding it, talking aloud and telling Sasuke how he really felt; and that had always made things worse without fail.

Sasuke didn't need words. He didn't want them and the hollow meaning related to the sounds that poured out from their lips. The only thing left was to show Sasuke that he was serious. Naruto sucked on the cut Sasuke had given his lip, steadying himself for what was going to happen. The taste of blood in his mouth helped him calm down. He wasn't that much of an idiot. He had threatened plenty of times by his neighbors- saying dirty things like 'pounding his ass' or 'raping him until guts spilled out.' He would always be hated as the vessel of the Nine-Tails Demon Fox that had killed so many, nearly destroying Konoha before it was sealed away.

Inside him.

Numbness overwhelmed him . . . that same sort of terrible, echoing darkness that he used to run to when he was just a child. There had been no reason to lately, when he had finally managed to make such good friends. He didn't feel like he had to hide away somewhere, cursing the very fact that he'd even been born. When everyone else hated him so much, it was hard to find the smallest shred of confidence. He'd finally gotten old enough to realize that nothing was going to change unless he made them- slowly able to laugh it all off and smile through the worst of the insults.

It had been so long since he'd fallen back into that hazy fog he used to protect himself when nobody else would. Naruto just never thought that he might have to use it against Sasuke. His eyes managed to fix on a spot on the ceiling as Sasuke finally managed to get his pajamas all the way off. His legs were yanked open, forced around either side of Sasuke. Naruto could have struggled away if he really wanted too, his hands free to hit back at Sasuke if he wanted too. Instead, he just grabbed onto the floor in silent submission. He was too scared to try touching Sasuke right now, not know what might set the Uchiha off next.

Nothing was happening.

Naruto stared straight up, completely still while he waited for Sasuke to do his worse. Eventually, weak pants turned into distressed grunts . . . Naruto slowly realizing that Sasuke wasn't turned on by this. He may have already gotten Naruto sprawled out naked in front of him, but the other boy was struggling just to get a hard-on. One glance down proved that Sasuke was beating away at his own dick, trying to turn it into something he could use against him.

Sasuke's eyes were clenched shut; lips pulling back to show gritted teeth. There was sweat forming at his temples and rolling down the side of his face, making loose hairs sticking to his skin. Naruto had never seen Sasuke look so real before, actually alive with some sort of emotion beyond his usual 'I have one mission- I am an avenger' mindset . . . The one that didn't think anything of hitting his friends or killing any enemies that stood in the way. Naruto finally had proof that Sasuke thought he was special. Who else would he actually spend the effort necessary for beating a human being to death, instead of just finishing it off quickly?

"You're so pr- . . ." Naruto started, meaning compliment Sasuke again in a way that wouldn't offend him.

A hand clenched around his throat shut off the rest of his sentence along with all his breath, a nauseating tightness filling his lungs.

"Shut up, Naruto. Just shut up," Sasuke demanded, not releasing his hold in the slightest. The sight of Naruto gagging and beginning to pathetically squirm in a instinctive attempt to find fresh air must have finally aroused Sasuke, because he felt something warm and wet beginning to prod at the divot between his butt cheeks . . . awkwardly finding and opening before slamming in as hard as possible.

Naruto couldn't cry out like he wanted to, vision going gray from lack of air. Sasuke didn't even get halfway in on the first time, grinding the rest of his erection slowly . . . painfully in. He had to finally remove his hand from Naruto's neck and put it on his shoulder- finding a purchase to work against. There was blood now, but this was so violent Naruto couldn't tell if it was his or Sasuke's. He had to bite down on his lip to silence himself, not about to make the same mistake twice. Sasuke would get mad and start choking him again if he tried to struggle.

He made his body go limp, trying to make it go numb along with the rest of him. Naruto didn't feel any shame in relaxing his hips and spreading his legs to make it easier for Sasuke. It wasn't to speed things up; to distance himself from the fact that his best friend was actually raping him. It wasn't because there was no way to get free and he had just given up, because Naruto knew deep down in his heart that he could throw Sasuke off of him any time he wanted. It was just because Naruto wanted to make everything better for Sasuke. He was still trying to get the depressing guy to smile again, not quietly smirk to himself.

If Naruto thought about it like that, this was no different from the many other times he had tried to make Sasuke laugh, from practical jokes to Naruto purposely falling down because it seemed to amuse Sasuke at times. He always played the clumsy idiot before, hurting himself because of it. This time, things were a little more direct. If Sasuke wanted a willing victim, Naruto would become one. It was easy to do anything, if it was for Sasuke . . . who didn't seem to care one damn bit about what was going on in his head. Sasuke was trying to prove a point, though Naruto couldn't possibly guess what it was at this point. He didn't really care, not when Sasuke was finally making love to him.

He got his fists to unclench, lifting his arms off of the floor and daring to put them around Sasuke's neck. Despite everything, Naruto was simply heavier than Sasuke was. He easily dragged Sasuke down, pulling him deeper inside himself. Muscles were twitching, instinctively to resist the motion as Sasuke's erection forced apart inner skin and organs. There was nothing but a slow, dry, burning friction until something finally ripped. The rest of Sasuke's length was in, warm balls crushed up against his buttocks as hot, sticky blood began to dribble out between them.

Naruto had to scream, seeing nothing but white, unable to sense anything beyond Sasuke filling him up to a bursting point. It didn't feel good at all- and for one dark moment Naruto wondered if this was what it had felt like for Sasuke when they had been together before . . . but, when their positions had been reversed, Naruto had tried going slow for Sasuke's sake despite the black-haired boy denying it had hurt at all. No wonder he had been clenching his eyes closed and biting down on his lower lip the whole time. Sasuke had managed not to sound like someone was trying to murder him, so Naruto could at least do the same.

He concentrated on biting his tongue behind his lips- not hard enough to actually cut through and end up bleeding to death, just forcefully enough that he could stop every noise that wanted come out of his throat. Naruto was determined to be mute, no longer caring how his body jerked around underneath Sasuke. If he could just accomplish this one simple thing, maybe Sasuke would still recognize him as a friend at the end of all this.

It seemed like it had lasted forever; Sasuke pounding into him with a slow, meticulous beat, slamming the air out of him on entry and pulling out blood with he withdrew . . . on the verge of falling out, nothing but the rounded head of his penis stuck around the ring of muscle that refused to open any further . . . than doing it all over again.

Somehow, years later, Sasuke finally came. He ejaculated hard enough to shoot through Naruto's lower intestines, until he could feel the hot waste in the bottom of his stomach. Sasuke was immediately pushing away from him, tossing Naruto's legs away in his rushed retreat.

All he had to do was zip up the front of his pants while Naruto lay there motionlessly. He hadn't been aroused once; his genitals still hanging limp over his bloody ass. More bruises were coming in on his face, all over his body, beginning to appear on his heart as well. Sasuke wasn't saying anything, looking away from Naruto as if he might actually feel guilty . . .

. . . but, that could never be the case with this arrogant Uchiha.

Sasuke was probably disappointed in him- for Naruto having such a big mouth and boasting about how they were rivals when he couldn't even handle being on the receiving end. It did feel strange; to have his trust betrayed so thoroughly by Sasuke. Here was the one person that Naruto thought he could actually trust his life with- beating him within an inch of losing that life. Naruto was finding it tough to keep both eyes open, to continue breathing when Sasuke finally managed to stand up. His very soul was shaking; sensing that the other boy was about to do something terrible. The odd, muted stillness that had taken over the room was only growing louder, like Naruto was going to suffocate underneath the pressure.

"Goodbye, Naruto," Sasuke whispered it, just the low sound of his voice and the motions his lips were making enough to understand.

He was gone before Naruto had time to recover, leaving the door open in his wake.

Naruto couldn't escape from the numbness he'd fallen into.

He couldn't believe Sasuke had actually left.

Sasuke had really meant his farewell.

He was going to be alone again.

He'd done something wrong.

He'd failed, again.

Naruto couldn't even cry if he wanted to. He had already used up all his tears long ago in his childhood, when he suffered every moment of the day. Naruto knew how to harden himself up, to keep anything from hurting him, to put a shield in place that protected him from the raw hatred he experienced everyday from his fellow villagers. It left him empty and hollow inside, everything going toward keeping his outward appearance in place. A ninja must never show his emotions, no matter what the situation. Even if Naruto had an awful, nauseating feeling he might not ever see Sasuke again.

He would not cry.

Iruka sighed heavily, not sure why he couldn't fall asleep. The night was coming into the morning hours, even though it was still dark outside. He was already comfortably in bed, warm underneath the covers and pressed up against the heat of another person. He should be able to completely relax, but his mind was keeping him up with restless thoughts. Things he had to do tomorrow, the students that were having trouble this year, if Naruto was away on a mission or not. It seemed like a long time since he'd been able to talk to the boy, and it was beginning to bother him. Of course, so were a hundred other little nuances of life, otherwise he wouldn't be awake right now.

Next to him, Kakashi had no problem with sleeping. He was snoring with his mouth open, the trace marks of drool running down his chin. It was amazing that the notorious Copy Ninja could rest so peacefully, utterly defenseless as he murmured something incomprehensible, a part of whatever dream he was having. It was a rare day when the man even lowered his facemask, much less get naked in front of another person. There were exceptions to the rule of course, especially behind locked doors and on top of tangled bed sheets.

Iruka smirked to himself, lightly running his finger across Kakashi's collarbone. They had already made love . . . twice, technically, if he counted when the bastard had used Iruka's already spent body for his own pleasure. He hadn't been very aware for that part, lying about in a sleepy daze for an indefinite amount of time until he'd woken himself up with anxious, unfocused thoughts.

He wouldn't wake Kakashi up to talk about his worries, finding enough comfort in nuzzling up against the man's neck. He could be more affectionate now, when he knew Kakashi was totally senseless and wouldn't say something stupid. He didn't seem to realize how his teasing could completely kill a mood, despite having that damn Sharingan for a left eye. At least when he was asleep, Iruka could- . . .

. . .- jump up onto Kakashi's stomach when an unexpected thud echoed through his apartment. That was enough to wake up the other man, instantly alert and serious as he put a hand on Iruka's shoulder.

They both waited in trained silence, everything confirmed with the strange noise continued. Except now, Iruka was aware enough to determine that it was coming from his door. It couldn't be anyone knocking, far too late into the night for a visitor from visitors; and the scratching, thudding echoes didn't sound like anything human at all.

Kakashi was the first to start for the door, grabbing a pillow to hold in front of his groin. Iruka was treated to the sight of that bare, white ass jiggling as Kakashi crossed the room and went for the hallway without another word. At least he had the sense to grab up one of the loose sheets and wrap it around his waist before running out to meet the could-be enemy.

Iruka was there by the time Kakashi opened up the door, the scars along his back making a dangerous path down to bare buttocks. Really, he should have done something about the back as well as the front before greeting anyone at the door. Iruka didn't want to get a bad reputation in this apartment buildi- . . .

All of those frivolous thoughts finally left Iruka's head when Kakashi was suddenly blasted off of his feet like a giant fist had just swept him aside. He left an imprint in the wall, choking aloud before visibly going unconscious. The man slid down to the floor in a shockingly limp form, so easily defeated that Iruka wasn't sure if this could be part of a dream or not.

He glanced up at the doorway, expecting some sort of monster out for blood . . . and was sorely disappointed at the lack of anything, just Kakashi moaning on the floor with blood beginning to dribble down from his mouth.

A small weight hit Iruka in the stomach. He looked down to see a familiar blonde head, a short figure that seemed intent on burying itself inside the body it was pressed against.

"Naruto." Iruka put his arms around the boy, finally getting his feet to stop grinding into the floor. He couldn't even believe that the short, clumsy, ramen-crazy fool had even managed to land a hit on Kakashi . . . much less knock the man unconscious with the first blow. Naruto simply wasn't capable of that kind of violence against his teachers- the very few people in the village that recognized Naruto as something other than the carrier of the Nine-Tails Demon Fox. But, the boy looked upset right now, shoulders trembling as if he was trying to hold something back. Iruka couldn't only hope that the seal was in place, that Kakashi would be able to recover after that hit, that Naruto wouldn't become unstable enough to go crazy in the middle of his hallway . . .

The blonde head dug in further to Iruka's chest, arms clenching around his sides painfully as Naruto tried to crawl up inside him. He was immediately aware of a distinctively warm wetness against his stomach, legs, and hands. Iruka only had to lift an arm up to see that it was splattered in blood from simply touching the boy, slowly becoming aware of the stains all over Naruto's clothes. It was still warm, meaning the wounds were recent. The boy had been beaten, hard, and Iruka couldn't even imagine how it might have happened.

"Naruto," Iruka demanded, louder this time as he gave Naruto a light shake to get his attention. There was no response as the boy's arms tightened hard enough to make Iruka's ribs creak in protest. He had to push Naruto away then, hunching down so he could look the blonde straight in the face.

"Who did this to you?" Iruka tried to get an explanation out of Naruto, but all he got was a vacant stare in return. There was no sign of response . . . not even the slightest bit of light was being reflected back from Naruto's eyes. Iruka had seen this kind of gaze before, but it usually belonged to dead men. That irrepressible cheerfulness and arrogance that Naruto typically extruded was gone without a trace, leaving nothing but an empty shell. One that was dangerous enough to take out a Jounin single-handedly, from how Kakashi was still lying on the floor.

How this had even happened was beyond Iruka. He couldn't think of the person that would be able to survive through pushing Naruto this far. It was a damn miracle that the seal on Naruto's stomach hadn't broken yet, when there had obviously been deep psychological damage, as well as the fact that Naruto looked like he'd been caught by a pack of wild dogs.

"Sa- . . . Sasuke left," Naruto whispered out with such hollow finality that Iruka could tell it was much more serious than a simple fight. There was too much blood for two teenaged boys- they may be inexperienced and emotional, but things couldn't have escalated to the point where Naruto was about to pass out from blood loss. Something serious had happened, but Naruto didn't look like he was any shape to properly explain things. All Iruka could do was put a hand on top of Naruto's head, smoothing back sweaty and blood-crusted hair in a pathetic attempt to comfort the boy.

Just that motion seemed to be enough, because a tear finally welled up and spilled over Naruto's cheek. It was the first emotion he had shown since walking in the door, despite already beating Kakashi unconscious. Iruka didn't know what else to do beyond hug the poor, lonely soul that had wandered in. He could feel Naruto's breath hitch against his chest, close enough to hear the boy's heartbeat jump at the sudden contact. Small hands buried themselves in the bed sheet Iruka's had wrapped around himself, not so intent squeezing the life out of him anymore . . . just a needy, abused student hopelessly searching for anyone who would give a damn.

Iruka could remember the times in his childhood when he had been alone, his parents slaughtered by the Nine-Tails Demon Fox. When he had cried every day in front of the monument for all the lives that had been lost. There had been so many corpses- hundreds of dismembered parts scattered about on top of each other that there was no way to sort everything out. The village had been a mass funeral, burning away the remains of so many Shinobi- along with any private, individual graves. Iruka always had to go to the memorial to pay his respects, always had to deal with the other people who came to do the same- except everyone else seemed able to hold their emotion in so much better. The other survivors could smile and carry on even though they had lost precious family and friends while Iruka sobbed without abandon. He would forget his pride, the honor of a ninja, the rule that a true Shinobi could never show his emotions- just so terribly alone. He remembered how badly he had wanted someone to hold him, just like the parents did for his fellow peers after school. Despite those terribly dark and depressing moments Iruka had during his childhood, he'd been lucky enough to make friends that could support him along the way. He probably would have been lost long ago, turning into a broken and twisted person like Mizuki, without his few close friends. As for Naruto . . .

The vessel of the Demon Fox that had nearly destroyed the village would never be truly accepted. Even Naruto's spectacular fight during the Chuunin exams wasn't enough to change everyone's minds, though the number of people that vandalized Naruto's apartment had gone down a bit afterward. Nobody seemed able to make the distinction between the monster and the completely separate personality of the body that held the two of them. Naruto was complex to explain, much harder to comprehend, but Iruka had sworn to try.

Kakashi woke up with what felt like the worst hangover ever. What was even worse was the fact that he was naked, sprawled out in the hallway like someone had actually gotten the better of the infamous Copy Ninja. He blearily noticed an open door and kicked it closed angrily, disorientated, frustrated, and not quiet sure how he had even ended up here. It was all Iruka's fault, since that bastard always had a way of slithering up inside and getting a man to drop his guard. Kakashi had ended up with the painful, warm throb of new bruises and lost several minutes of his life because of it. No matter how good the sex was, Kakashi couldn't afford to lose his control like this. He didn't want to wake up exposed and vulnerable on the floor every morning.

It took a few moments of lying in a daze to gather up his senses. He started to notice the crumpling indent on the wall above him . . . piecing together a broken path of memories until he finally recalled answering the door. It had been Naruto, of all people, and the brat had been emotionally unstable- enough for the seal on the Nine-Tails Demon Fox to shake. That was the only way Kakashi could explain that explosive power that had decked him to the floor in one blow. He still wasn't even sure exactly where Naruto had hit him, his whole side throbbing with one massive bruise. That sort of barbaric strength simply wasn't human . . .

Kakashi realized at last that after he had been knocked out, Naruto must have passed by him and into the apartment. Iruka was a damn idiot sometimes with his sympathy and naïve belief in other people. Not that Kakashi didn't love the bastard for it, but he wasn't about to see his lover killed. Naruto was dangerous when that monster inside him began to leak out- always ready to overwhelm it's vessel and become the personality in control.

"Iruka!" Kakashi barked out the other man's name, managing to surge up from the floor and find his feet again. He didn't doubt for a moment that Naruto could be consumed by the Demon Fox's bloodlust and kill anyone in his path. The small part of the boy that would actually recognize his comrades and teachers would be repressed and that terrible youkai would have revenge on the village . . .

"Iruka! Answer me, damn it!" He demanded, not about to admit how the silence bothered him. He didn't care if he didn't have any clothes on right now, just determined to see if Naruto was still here- if he had dismembered Iruka in some horrific way because the Nine-Tails Demon Fox had taken over. Kakashi kept himself from shivering in revulsion, not about to feel something just because another lover might be dead. He had dealt with these losses before . . . so there was no reason for his stomach to be tightening up or for his eyes to be burning with moisture that could just actually be tears . . .

"Iru- . . ."

"Damn it, Hatake! I heard you the first time!" Came a familiar if hushed and impatient hiss. Iruka emerged from the bathroom, completely whole and unscratched. Kakashi wondered if he could have just been caught up in a nightmare, not even realizing that he was awake until his body had already reacted. He had trained so hard that his muscles knew what to do if his brain couldn't think. Now that he had finally caught up with the heat of the moment, Kakashi was left staring in a stupor at his alive, if irritated lover.

Iruka was so normal looking that it made him all the more amazing. His hair was loose, longer than one would expect as it drifted down over well-made shoulders. Usually the scar across Iruka's nose was the only visible sign the man had ever been in actual combat, but when he was just wearing a pair of loose pants all the scars above his waist were exposed. There was no ninja who didn't have a mark somewhere from a well-aimed attack or an outright plain mistake. Some of the puckered lines along Iruka's shoulders and ribs had a dotted pattern around the edge from the stitching that had once held that skin together. It was hard to think about all the times they had both been near death and left with the scars to prove it.

After an irrepressible moment of appreciation for Iruka's body, Kakashi managed to confirm that none of it was new. He finally noticed the small shadow that was attached to Iruka's side . . . flat, wet hair and cold, distant, lonely eyes almost unrecognizable.

Kakashi had never seen Naruto with that sort of look on his face before, so utterly quiet. He had watched the young Genin mature to a promising student and a reliable ninja through some of the most extreme missions. Even when the three members of his team had been unable to hide the fact they thought they might be killed and just wanted to run away- before they all had learn to stifle that instinctual fear and become truly strong- Naruto had never seemed so intense. The boy wasn't even saying anything and Kakashi could taste his loneliness in the air, like a wild animal that had been abused by every presence it had ever met.

"All right, you two quit that out," Iruka broke the spell, shifting in front of Naruto.

"I'm going to take care of Naruto for now while you're going to get some clothes on," Iruka made it an absolute order, his gaze pinning Kakashi down. There was a reason why the man was a teacher. He could make a person feel guilty as all hell as if it were easy, and the biggest hurt was knowing that he was disappointed in you. It made Kakashi uncomfortable to imagine the effect Iruka could have on small children.

He could only stand aside to allow the other man down the hall, turning his hips so at least his groin could be out of direct sight. It probably didn't even matter in Naruto's current state. Kakashi began taking in the bandages on the boy's face and along his arms . . . even a few scattered down bare legs and feet. Naruto only had on a large, black shirt that had too be Iruka's; shakily taking the man's hand when it was offered to him and allowing himself to be lead forward. The two of them resembled a father and son for a moment, forcing Kakashi to be silent as they passed by.

A door was softly closed, leaving Kakashi to slap a hand over his face. He could only hope that Naruto was messed up enough to not remember what he really looked like. And, he felt guilty at the same time for even considering such. He shouldn't be glad that another one of his students was wavering toward insanity. Sasuke was already a handful with his little head full of revenge. The boy didn't consider anyone else or the consequences his actions could have, completely selfish and arrogant . . . but even Sasuke's worst case of sarcastic back-talk was nothing compared to the total desolation Kakashi had seen in Naruto's eyes.

It was the look of a person that had given up all hope long ago. Naruto was far too young to be so jaded and apathetic- but what else was he, other than the container for a terrible demon that had nearly destroyed the entire village.

Iruka had discussed it before, swearing that Naruto was different from the Nine-Tails Demon Fox that was sealed inside him. Kakashi somewhat believed the man, having seen Naruto mindlessly jump into a fight time and time again just because his teammates were in trouble. Sasuke was more than capable of taking care of himself and Sakura could be quite dangerous if she actually got angry, though that was rare. Naruto certainly wasn't a monster if he almost always got injured on missions because of his own stupid, over-protectiveness of other people.

Kakashi had just assumed it was because of Naruto's excessive healing ability- due to the evil chakra of the demon inside him. Only now did he realize that it was because Naruto simply didn't care if he died. To be without companions would be worse for him. Kakashi had seen how tightly Naruto had held onto Iruka's hand. The man had been smiling like nothing was wrong while Naruto squeezed his fingers hard enough to make the skin go blue all the way up to the wrist.

There would be bruises tomorrow morning, but Kakashi doubted he'd ever get the whole story. He slowly moved toward the small living room that better served as Iruka's storage space. At least there was a couch large enough for two people to sit comfortably. Kakashi knew from experience it could be a little bit dangerous to try lying down across the short length of the furniture- either one had to fold in half or hang out over the edges of the arms.

He found his pants strewn over the coffee table with the belt still inside the loops around the waist. Iruka wasn't necessarily the cleanest of people, and it was hard to keep up with the mess their lovemaking had left behind. They hadn't seen each other in several days, both of them ordered off to different missions that didn't allow any time for personal affairs.

Konoha was in a true crisis after Orochimaru's attack, the late Hokage's missing presence growing more apparent by the day. They had to maintain outward appearances while the village crumbled away with all the lives that had been lost. Kakashi made no attempt to guess at what the future might be for his home village. He would just listen to orders and obey them . . . except on the few evening when he actually got a night off.

Then Kakashi could rip at clothes and bust stitches in his desperation to get to the skin underneath. Iruka could actually settle him down, allow Kakashi the security to ease his constant defenses. He made a fist inside the fabric of his pants, frustrated at his foolishly relaxed attitude. That was the only reason why Naruto had managed to get the best of him. Kakashi would easily blame it all on Iruka – if he didn't still have the smell of the man on his body, in his hair. He'd be a liar if he said Iruka wasn't a good kisser. The normally docile and polite man could become aggressive and do things with his tongue that still made Kakashi see double.

There was no need for words between them. Not when Iruka could keep both their mouths so busy that Kakashi had felt his knees buckle. Iruka went down with him, the two of them landing in a controlled slide to the floor. They were both too well trained to fall, able to slip completely out of uniforms in a matter of seconds.

Iruka was one of the few people actually allowed to see his entire face and live to talk about it. Kakashi could trust him, something that was very rare. Iruka hadn't asked once about his own terrible scars or the tattoos that could only be used for Forbidden Jutsu- remnants of when he had been young and stupid. Those things weren't important to the man, not when they didn't know when they might get a chance to meet again. There wasn't even time to feel embarrassed about the fact that they were both naked, grappling about on the floor like horny teenagers. Kakashi just liked the taste of Iruka's mouth, the surging of his chest against his own, how easily that ring of muscle gave when Kakashi pushed up hard insid- . . .

He recovered from his own helpless flashback, finally pulling himself into a pair of pants. Kakashi found the hard body mesh he wore underneath his clothes like all Shinobi did . . . hesitating for a moment before he brushed the deceptively light armor aside. Iruka had already managed to calm Naruto down from whatever rage had taken over him. Kakashi didn't feel the threatening presence of the Nine-Tails Demon Fox beginning to leak out from Naruto's seal anymore. In fact, it just looked like someone had beat the utter crap out of the boy, judging from the bandages Iruka had applied.

Kakashi could only think of one person that could have made this kind of damage, teeth clenching as he wondered just what the hell was going on with Sasuke now. Iruka might accuse him of playing favorites, echoing Naruto and Sakura's voices . . . but it was because Sasuke was so fucking high-maintenance. Kakashi had never met someone so young that was so hollow inside, having no thoughts of anything but his personal vendetta. He had to tail Sasuke home a few times just because he honestly suspected the boy might try to kill himself.

He had to admit things had gotten better once Naruto finally managed to get close to Sasuke; something no one else in the village had been able to do since the Uchiha clan had been completely eliminated. Kakashi wasn't sure how Naruto had done it, merging their two completely opposite personalities together so well. At the true core of it all, Kakashi suspected that it was just because those two had both been alone for so long. Desperate souls easily reached out to each other, but Naruto and Sasuke had made their relationship something deeper than that.

Kakashi really didn't like to think about these things. They were still his students, the very first he'd ever had. He couldn't help but get attached, wanting to make everything go smoothly between his team. It seemed that dream was beginning to fall apart, if Sasuke and Naruto had been seriously fighting. Kakashi couldn't think of anyone else in Konoha that would be able to do so much damage without causing a scene, especially to someone was notoriously loud as Naruto was.

Torn between which student should take priority, Kakashi forgot that he had even been trying to dress in the first place. He pulled on the pants that were still in his hands, checking around the room for his shirt. After bending down to look underneath the furniture for it, Kakashi just gave up. He was adequately decent and he wouldn't listen to any complaints.

Finished at last, Kakashi made his way down the hall and into the bedroom without any more delay. The lights were still off, but Kakashi could make out the figures in the bed . . . and a sheet that had been tossed to the floor. He grimaced; realizing it must have been from when they had actually made it to the bed later on in the night. Kakashi hadn't minded lying about in their own bodily fluids, not when they were both naked and Iruka's skin somehow managed to be so warm when he pressed his own against it. There wasn't another living soul that knew Hatake Kakashi was a cuddlier.

"So, what's going on?" Kakashi asked in a quiet voice as he pulled up the covers that were still left on the bed. Sure enough, Iruka was already raising a finger up for silence; his other hand resting over a small body that was desperately trying to borrow its way into the mattress. Kakashi ignored Iruka's warning hiss as he climbed into the bed, keeping Naruto between them as he lay down.

"Well?" Kakashi demanded again, rolling onto his side to look Iruka in the face. The man only frowned before pulling the sheets back over the shaking blonde, his protective nature stirred up and roaring to life.

"Naruto doesn't want to talk about it any more. I'll tell you later," Iruka explained curtly, as if he couldn't be trusted. Kakashi was now the kid's current teacher- not some Chuunin still stuck teaching the youngest classes in all of Konoha. It wasn't because the stubborn bastard was actually good with children. Iruka just cared too damn much about other people, unable to draw the line between mere acquaintances and substitute family members. The man was looking for someone to fill the void that his parents' death had left in his life, extending himself out to anyone who could somehow fulfill that expectation. It had made Iruka a very compassionate man- which also ended up being his greatest flaw.

There was no denying that Naruto was seriously injured and deserved every bit of attention . . . but Kakashi couldn't stop that small, bitter part of himself that was jealous. It might be selfish on his half, especially since he was an adult and Naruto was a mere child, but Iruka didn't ever snuggle like this. He was usually a bit more aggressive . . . not that Kakashi minded that part either, but sometimes a man could want a change of pace.

"He'll heal by himself before the morning. You didn't need to put bandages on him," Kakashi returned, keeping his voice low. He was certain that Naruto was in no state to eavesdrop on them, withdrawing into mild shock now that Iruka had calmed him down. He still regretted the comment immediately when Iruka shot him a look that promised certain death if Kakashi said another word.

"Someone needs to take care of him," Iruka whispered bitterly, frowning down at the Genin hiding in his bed. Kakashi would have tried to get some answers first, not so accustomed to coddling as Iruka was. He thought it was better for his students to wrestle with their own emotions themselves, dealing with their unique situations in their different ways. Even Sakura had begun to mature and develop into a promising taction, though she was very likely the most spoiled of them all. Sakura still lived at home with her parents, a mind-boggling difference that couldn't really be explained. Sasuke was always toeing the borderline of self-destruction while Naruto managed to march around without a care, screaming about becoming Hokage. Between the two, Kakashi had always worried about Sasuke more . . . and now he was beginning to regret that decision when he saw how Naruto clung to Iruka underneath the bedcovers.

Kakashi took a deep breath, centering himself and forcing out those other useless worries. Sasuke would show up in a few days like he usually did after having another one of his tantrums, reeking of wounded pride and sour arrogance, not about to explain his sudden change in mood to anyone else. Sasuke didn't usually leave victims though, beyond the few poor trees he would destroy with his brutal training. Naruto was a fast healer, but the visible bruises and cuts were serious enough to cause concern. Maybe Iruka had been right in bandaging the noisy little brat . . . certainly when Naruto was so completely out of it.

He put a hand on top of the lump Naruto made in the bed, rubbing a shoulder affectionately. He couldn't offer any pretty words. Kakashi didn't know how to deal with kids when they were like this, or any one else for that matter. He could follow Iruka's lead, awkwardly trying to console Naruto without breaking whatever kind of moment the two had made between each other. While he might not appear as emotionally fragile as Sasuke, Naruto could still get his heart hurt. As the boy's teachers, it was their duty to look after him.

Kakashi could only hope that things would look better tomorrow after a night's rest . . . that was if he'd even be able to sleep after such a disturbance.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Dear lord, I haven't had a finished chapter in ages! When I finally got a winter break, I decided Naruto was the closest thing to being done and here we are. Thank you so much to everyone who supported (and also threatened death, which is creepy) me to write more! I look on the review page when I need the last-minute ego-boost to get this written pornography out.

Of course, some other people look at this before it gets shown to the public too. I'd like to thank Iie Nome for once again helping with beta-ing, as well as the newbie Ninjachick212 for offering services as well!

AFTER-NOTE: I can't believe STILL hasn't torn this down yet. They did it to everything else . . .