Hallo.  just dropping off a SasuNaru ficcy done in just TWO days…which explains the weird jumps.  My mind and body are not aligned, but we are happy that way.  Or stuck at least, and that's nearly the same thing.

A/N: Funky Halloween story that came to me on Wednesday, finished before Halloween.  SasuNaru, much weirdness. 

Warnings: Character death, swearing, and shonen ai. 

Standard Disclaimer Applies

My Journey In Hell

By gelfling

gelfling8604@yahoo.com

***

"So…what was it like?"

"Ugh…Hot!  I mean like…it wasn't amazingly hot, it was just stuffy, 'Ack I can't breathe', hot, you know?  Annoying hot."  Naruto stuck out his tongue.

"Yeah but…Did you find anyone who…you know…" Gaara asked without really asking.

Naruto realized his stomach was in question.

"Oh geez, I can't even start…Everywhere I went it was always, 'Ohayo kitsune' and 'You still owe me money!' and 'Youko darling!  We're married you sisterfucker, who in Heaven is that slut!'" 

Naruto shook his head. 

"I'm not even married!  I don't even think it was female!  They're all talking about… it, and I'm not it, but they can't get that through their stupid demon heads that I'm not.  …Sasuke's still not speaking to me, the bastard.  And after I was such a nice guy and everything and I can't even find him!  He won't even take me to ramen!  Shiznit!"

Gaara blinked, slowly absorbing the information.  Then he left.

So.  It sounded like the demons didn't see them so very differently from what the humans did either. 

Hybrids were rare things.  It showed.

***

Everything started when Sasuke died.

Stores ran out of flowers.  Mothers yanked the aspirin away from their daughters and sent them to bed with a good smack.  Naruto ran screaming bloody murder through the village because the Ichiraku had run out of ramen.  Kakashi-sensei was late for his student's death.  Sakura was drinking sour peach tea and losing at cards at her grandparents in the country.  Iruka-sensei was taking a nap while, far, far away, Itachi opened another overseas banking account and became even more filthy rich.

Kakashi was right on time—right on time—when Death knocked on his door. 

Kakashi stumbled in his super-cool-stroll, not because it was Death knocking on his door, but because he was on time!!!

…Kakashi nearly had a heart attack.  Then he opened the door.

"Oh.  Hello."

"Hello Hatake Kakashi."

"We've met, haven't we?"

"Oh yes.  Several times in fact."

"Er…Not to be rude or anything, but I don't think I'm bleeding."

"You're not."

"My heart feels fine."

"It is."

"Oh…  Then what the hell do you want anyway?"

"Well, see, it's sort of embarrassing, but…"

"Yes?"

"We've had a kind of accident."

Kakashi absorbed this.

"Would you like some tea?"

"Sure," said Death.

Some filled 15 minutes later Kakashi said, "Shit.  Oh.  Well.  …Shit!"

"Indeed," replied Death.

"How do you plan to fix it?" asked Kakashi, who knew better than to volunteer himself.

"It is very simple for you to do," answered Death, who knew how to volunteer people.  "Find the old man who was *supposed * to die, and help him on his way by killing him physically.  You even get to choose how he dies," Death quipped generously.

"Uh…thanks.  And Sasuke *will * come back to life, right?  Since it wasn't his time?"

Death looked surprised.

"No.  His time was his time, however it happens.  Granted it was unexpected, and well…" Death trailed off.

Three different eyeballs glanced at the small egg timer on the table.  There was still sand at the top, but none of it was flowing through.  Life was still there, it just wasn't happening. 

"This really is very embarrassing."

"Really."

"I don't know how I'm going to explain it."

"Yep."

"So when can you get started?"

"I'm not."

Death gave Kakashi a rather sharp look.

"Shinobi, as it has been traditionally understood, have always been for the buying and selling, not unlike property or Hollywood real-estate."

Kakashi leveled the look.

"Oh yeah?  Ever hear of a thing called unions?"

***

Tsunade the Godaime listened.  Then she leaned back and scratched her stomach.  The desk was drummed with manicured nails.  She sucked at her teeth. 

"Okie dokee," she announced at length.  "Send someone for Naruto, will you?"

"…Why?"

"We'll need an expert on the terrain."

"Er…how will the boy be of use there?"

"Well, you don't think Uchiha got sent up to Heaven do you?  With his rap sheet?"

Realization sunk in.  The speaker blanched.

"Oh.  Right.  Right.  Right away, Hokage-sama."

***

Sasuke looked about, startled.  Then he looked down at his journal.  He looked around again.  He sniffed his hands.  He twiddled his pen.

Then, in very neat script, he wrote, "Dear Diary.  I appear to be dead."

Shadows appeared before his eyes, and the journal disappeared.

"Got your fare?"

***

Kakashi pushed down on Naruto's stomach towards the floor, and slapped his scratching hands away for the sixth time.  He'd nearly taken off his mask, damn it!!  Not to mention his other eye!   He was worse than a wet cat!  And he wasn't even wet!

Iruka-sensei was—simultaneously! —multitasking.  He (a) yelled at Naruto for squirming, (b) held Kakashi's headband, (c) asked Kakashi to be a little more gentle, (d) gave Naruto encouraging words, (e) tied Naruto's hands up with Kakashi's headband, and (f) tried to shut the blonde up.

"You're not sticking anything in me!  You're not sticking anything in me!  I bruise easily!  I have severe stomach cramps!  My intestinal juices are nn mmmphmr--!"

"Naruto calm down!  No one's gonna stick anything.  All right?  Just calm down.  Hokage-sama already gave you the medicine—"

"Potion."

"Potion you'll need to travel.  It's going to slow down your heart rate and breathing—"

"Shit."

"He bit me!"

"Ahhhhhh!!!"

"Ow!"

"What the hell are you three doing?!"

"Poison!  I've been mrmrmphed mmm—"

"Hello Hokage-sama and…er…"

"Death," said Death helpfully.

Iruka offered a plastic smile and wondered how quickly he could get to his weapons. 

"You're not laying a FINGER on me buster, or else I knock your pasty skull off and shove it up your ass!!"

There was a studied quiet.

"And I mean that too."

"Indeed," answered Death, which could have meant a number of things.  "I am no more thrilled over the course of events than you appear to be.  Regardless, time goes on.  Oh…you've managed to mess up the pentagram again."

Kakashi looked up at the unnoticed figure smoking quietly in the background.

"Bring him in," Kakashi said, straightening up and retracing the lines with a fresh piece of chalk.  "I think we're about ready to start, if Naruto's ready to be still."

Naruto nearly snapped back.  Then he saw what Asuma-sensei had in his arms.

There was a very empty quiet, not chilled or spooky quiet, just a very…still quiet.  Except for the 'tack' of Asuma's sandals on the hollow floorboards, the rustle of his clothes and creak of his muscles, there was no noise.  He moved very gently, then faded into the background,  taking the cigar from his mouth and exhaling.

Naruto looked at Sasuke laid out beside him.  His lips were a pale blue, but then November was settling in. 

"Is he asleep?" Naruto asked finally.

Iruka looked at Kakashi, nearly accusingly.  He hadn't been told about this…

"No one told you?" asked Death.

"There wasn't time," answered Kakashi.

Lightly, Naruto's fingers grazed Sasuke's face.  "He's very cold."

"Of course," answered Death.  "He's dead.  Well…nearly, anyway.  This really is quite embarrassing.  Will you lie still now?  It's going to be sunset in 3 minutes 17 seconds.  We need to being now."

***

Naruto sat up with a shriek, jumping to his feet and yanking dual katanas out of his sword belt.  "Bring it on, you hippie SCUM!!!!"

His eyes darted around wildly in the swirling damp fog, but he didn't put down his weapons.  The air tasted like an oily ash-tray, and his skin burned.  He noticed he was being watched by a lone slumped figure.

"Where the hell is Hell?!  Don't eff with me, I haven't eaten dinner!"

"Got your fare?"

"I don't like  wheels!"

"Do you got your change?  Your fare?"  Charon realized he was dealing with an unusual person.  Possibly quite stupid.  Wraiths didn't tend to yell this much or glow gold, but a tuppence was a tuppence, either way.

"You wanna get to Hell, right?"

"Watch your dirty mouth or I'll—Oh wait.  You're the boat-guy, aren't you?  Death told me about you.  Here, wait a sec…I think…Yeah, yeah, there you go.  Will that be enough?"

The old shadow took the money, clinking on his bare bones in his fingers.  He smelled like really dead rats.

"Yeah.  Yeah.  That'll be enough.  Get in."

***

"I know what you are but what am I?  I know what you are but what am I?  I know what you are but what am I?  I know what you are but what am I?  I know what you are but what am I?  I know what you are but what am I?  I know what—"

Sasuke knew what he was.  And, thanks to careful, subtle movement on his part and the handy automatic .33 millimeters this place was absolutely trashed with, he also knew what the pinkish loquacious demon was too.

There was a gratifying stattaco of bullets.  Then… silence.  Absolute silence.

Sasuke nearly smiled.

"Yes.  You, ugly, are now modern art on the wall."

And with that, Sasuke jumped off the ancient giant sea turtle, it's eyes covered with film and shell pocked with craters and abrasions and infested with white maggoty jelly-beans that was making its way down the high-cholesterol blood river of Hell for the Violent.  Quietly, of course. 

This was Hell?  This was Hell?  Geez…he hadn't been really tortured or anything, except for that stupid pink demon that wouldn't shut up and a couple of other things that wouldn't shut up or wanted to do illicit activity with his body. 

Weren't demons supposed to be scary?  Weren't they supposed to be really strong?  Wasn't that the big deal with the Kyubbi because the thing was a demon?  Weren't they supposed to be a big deal?

Inhuman screams came from Sasuke's right, not more than half-a mile away. 

He checked the splatters of the pink thing's body on the ground, and came away a shotgun, hunting knife, and $4.23 richer. 

***

"Hi I'm Naruto, Naruto Uzumaki the future Hokage of Leaf.  Pretty cool, huh?"

"Where's Leaf?"

"It's the ninja village in the leaves."

"You a ninja?  You're very loud."

"You betcha!  I'm gonna be the very best ninja there'll ever be!"

"Kinda late, aren't you?"

"What?"

"Never mind.  You don't appear to be on our roster…  Are you sure you're in the right place?  How did you die?  And why are glowing?"

"Uh, well, um…Well what the hell is this!  Twenty questions?  Who do you think you are anyway, asking me all this?  That's client abuse, damn it!  You want me to pull that on you, see how you like your own medicine, huh?" Naruto jumped on the desk the perturbed zombie was writing on. 

"Where's your voice box, buster?" Naruto screamed, pointing to the raggedy empty spot of the zombie's esophagus. 

"Where are the rivers of blood, where are the flames, the harpies and shit!  It's just a bunch of stupid outlet shopping centers!  Broken Slurpee machines!  Theme park bathroom lines!  Do you know how bad I have to pee!?  The worst thing that's happened to me here is some stupid kid trying to sell me broken watches!"

"Come on stupid just buy the damned watch!" said Stupid Kid.

"How come I don't see anybody?  Why's that guy named Sharon?  What kinda name is that for a guy, huh?  Do you name each other Susan too!  Your name's Susan, that it!"

By this time, Naruto was *this close * to the graying man's face, with his nose falling off and Naruto screaming, never minding the smell too much.  You wouldn't know it, but he really was quite nervous.  Dead people in Hell shouldn't be this calm.

Through his daze, Naruto realized the zombie's hand was up his shirt, touching his stomach.  His eyes didn't even have time to widen before his body reacted.

An involved 20 seconds followed, ending up with much smaller bits of zombie.  The watch-seller shut up, his broken Rolex still in his hand.  Naruto turned on him.

"Your stomach's glowing mister."

Naruto sweated slightly.

"I have indigestion!  Shut up!"

***

"Do you think they'll be alright?"

"Sure," Kakashi said around his book read by candlelight. 

"They aren't moving much."

"That's expected.  Death said that might happen."

"But…even with Naruto's power, he still doesn't know how to use it completely.  There's probably stronger demons down there.  And he doesn't even know where Sasuke is..." Iruka took the bottle from Asuma and healthy drink from the bottle.

"Nah, he'll be fine.  They're always fine, you'll see.  They look after each other.  I don't think they could be kept away from each other by anything."

"They fight all the time."

"Yep!  That's how much they can't stay away from each other.  Anyway it's that Dead People Holiday.  I'm sure the demons have better things to do than harass our students."

Iruka raised an eyebrow in extreme reluctance, and took a heavier drink from the bottle.  He had no idea what was in it. 

***

Naruto skidded to a stop at the sound of gunfire before hitting the ground around a handy corner while the bullets skidded over his head and through the plaster.  His breathing came in startled gasps while he scuttled on all fours.

"WHERE'S MY PAYMENT AT YOU LYING FOX?  YOU GUT-SUCKING TREE-HUGGER!"

Knees bruised and katanas already dirty from some things that accused Naruto to be his husband, third-cousin, and long-time debtor.  He had alternately been groped, hit, kissed, shot at, glomped, and accosted in different ways. 

Right now something ooshy-green with various arms was trying to tear his off.  He wasn't quite sure why.

"Beelzebub's socks!  You're still alive Stupid!" something squawked over Naruto's head.

Blue talons grappled Naruto's shoulder and yanked him up several feet in the air.  He was clapped conspiratorially on the back.   "Haha, good one mate, oh hell…Here comes Demitrix.  You still owe him his second lover, I think."

"What?!"

"Nice human body you got there.  Smells like shit, but looks good on you.  Where'dja get it from, I'm thinking of going upstairs pretty damn soon myself."

Nine Tails had had a very busy social life.

There was a brief commotion and short scream and wet explosion further down on the street below Naruto's bewildered feet.  The giant green oohsy thing was in little green ooshy things now, splattered all over the various smoke-stained store fronts and streets and Naruto's dirty shirt.  Where the green thing had been stood a indigo spider thing with an insanely big zanbatou(Translation: effing big sword) and piercing yellow eyes locked on Naruto.

"Lemme go idiot!  That guy's trying to kill me!"

"That…" serpentine eyes squinted.  "Nah, that's your wife, mate."

"…Huh?"

The indigo spider was scuttling closer way too quickly.

"It tried to kill me!  It stabbed me in the arm!"

The thing that was holding Naruto looked at him with huge yellowing teeth the size of a T.V. screen.

"Well…yeah.  'Course.  Tha's coz you're married to 'er, mate."

Gasp!

***

"I'm never getting married!  Sasuke!  Sasuke-kuuuuunnnn!!!  I'm so glad to see you!  I can't believe I'm glad to see you!  How the hell did you die stupid?"

"Don't touch me.  Come on."

Sometime earlier:

Naruto had been running screaming through the Super Ugly City/Mall thing, crashing into more whinny bitchy people than he had ever thought possible.  Why were people so fucking pissed off?!  What the hell was their problem, nothing was married to them!  He was sweating bullets; he could barely still see

That…spider thing…

That…

Had…

Ewwwweeee…

Naruto had nearly thrown up, and had simply settled for running as fast as his feet would carry him.  He had no idea how he knew where he was going, he just did.  This place…this place freaked him out.  He knew where things were.  He recognized things after a while. He was starting to remember…really bad coffee.  They had crappy coffee here.  But he was remembering all that and, as a result, Naruto had a pounding migraine.

Then, as Sasuke had noticed, Naruto noticed that the place was just littered with all sorts of explosives and weapons.  It was as common as wood.  It was nearly as common as cement!  It was amazing.  And nobody was using them!  Just the demons on whoever and the whinny people on the popular people and the racist people on the racist people and the capitalists on the communists but no one actually used them on the demons!  These weapons weren't used, they were wasted!

||Captives stupid  Will not fight captors  Fight each other||

||Use weapons on each other||

||You use weapons on them||

Well, who was Naruto to argue with the little voice in his head?  Especially when the little voice had more sense than anything else he had met so far, and the little voice knew how to program the bombs to go off just after Naruto was out of range. 

There was less of the City/Mall place standing, as consequence of listening to the smart little voice in his head.  Naruto had been standing on some rubble and gasping for air that no one else seemed to breath, and trying hard not to collapse into hysterics.  A cold sweat kept trying to come out, but his body was too warm to let it happen.  He felt very sick.  He wanted to curl up and shut his eyes; his hands were supported by his knees now.

Oi…if Iruka-sensei could see him now.  He'd always been a troublemaker, but he'd never created this much damage before.  He'd never…geez he'd never

The indigo spider rocketed out of the ground behind him, slammed a leg into his neck, throwing him on the ground and stabbing his arm again to keep him there, like a fly on cardboard.  Naruto had screamed in pain, eyes bulging at the insect on top of him that seemed about to dive into his glowing stomach and—

--Splattered all over his face. 

Naruto stayed frozen.  The echo rang.

After an eternity of about 3 minutes, maybe less, Sasuke came into view holding a smoking shotgun and wearing a Grateful Dead shirt.  And Naruto had been very hard pressed not to faint. 

"What are you doing here?"

"…I'm…rescue you?"

Sasuke frowned.  Then he extended one arm down to him.  Naruto had grabbed on and pulled up, before noticing that Sasuke's skin was still ice cold and rock hard.  In a snap Sasuke let go, as if Naruto had burned him, and Naruto fell back on his ass hard.

"You're not dead," Sasuke stated.  He had met a lot of dead people, none that he had known before.  "Why are you glowing?  How did you get down here?"

"Er…It's kind of a long story."

"I think we have the time."

"No!  I mean, no, we don't.  We gotta, I'm here," Naruto dug his fist into his stomach, and tried to get his breath back.  His mind was spinning and so was his stomach and those two together did not mix well.

"I can see you're here.  Why are you here?"

"I was born?" Naruto joked badly.  "Um, no, it's…  Can't you ever be nice to me?  I come all the way down here to find you and all I get is questions!  You're not even where you're supposed to be, this isn't Hell for the Violent!" he shouted, frustrated and venting.

"I was there.  I got out.  What do you want?"

Naruto face-faulted and stuttered, mouth gaping like a fish.  In a flash of light and emotion, he stabbed his finger at Sasuke.  And it wasn't the index.

"Damn it!  You!  It's always YOU!  I came here to save you, you stuck up puppy and this is the thanks I get?"

"You didn't save me from anything," Sasuke pointed out.

Naruto ranted.

"Not even a hello!  Not even a 'Hi Naruto, wow it's really good to see a familiar face here!'  Fook!  Even the demons said hello to me before they tried to yank my arms out and steal all my money which is a hell lot more than you ever did mister!  Damn!" 

Naruto turned his back angrily.  Sasuke lifted an eyebrow inquisitively.  He looked at the recent destruction.

"I saved you from the spider."

"WHAT?"

Sasuke yanked Naruto's arm hard enough to nearly take it out of its socket, fingers closing in over his clothes instead of his actual skin, and Naruto had to run with him to keep it in.  Sasuke ran too fast!  Sasuke always ran too fast, and right now Naruto made a firm mental note to hurt him for this kind of physical abuse.

"OW!"

"Do you wanna get caught?  Can't you ever do anything quietly.

Naruto screamed.

***

They were wandering around in another of the City-Malls Hell was plagued with, bantering off and on and picking up rather nice hunting knives along the way.  Naruto was reluctantly wearing a long-sleeved shirt with "I like squeezy-cheese.  Fuck you pimp-daddy!  Repent!  I hate your tie!" written on the front and "Meaningless flies!  Let me lick your teeth.  You can lick my knees ;D " written on the back.  Sasuke had gotten tired of burning his fingers on his skin.

"Yo, kitsune!  Wassaup!"

Naruto blanched, his eyes turning desperately to Sasuke and hoping very hard with his young heart. 

None of that really happened, since he was glomped quite hard around the neck and given a vicious noogie.

"Ow!  Shit!  You blessed piece of cow shit—Let me down right now Glas or I'll bite your ears off!"

Sasuke watched fascinated, forgotten.

"Nice job with Deptropolis, that place was such a woozy effridge!" the demon congratulated.  "I don' even know why we didn't do it sooner.  Right through the brain!  Why didn't we do it sooner?  And where've you been Slut?  It's like one minute we're sucking rock an' the next they're saying some sappy human killed you!  My ole Foxy!"

Naruto froze.

"What the hell happened?"  Demonic yellow eyes noticed that Sasuke's own eyes were glaring at him.  "Who's your boyfriend?"

Naruto stuttered, "Uhh…"

"Looks pushy.  How's he taste?  Any good?"

Sasuke stared.

On that final point, Naruto seemed to come to life, kicking at the gargoyles' grip and squirming with various expletives.  He was dropped on the ground without ceremony—that was happening a lot lately—and he jumped to his feet instantly.

"All right I don't know who the fuck you are jerk wad but don't you dare touch—"

"I'm Glas, remember?" and the bad thing was that Naruto did remember.  Glas had been a minor demon specializing in bad jokes, Naruto remembered.  They had gotten drunk together.

"You said it yourself.  You feeling all right Ninesy?  You like hell.  …Oh hey I made a joke, get it?!  Oh wow, yeah, 'Hey you look like hell,' and we're in Hell so you know it's like…you don't get it, do you?"

Naruto had turned very pale.  He was did not look at Sasuke, who was looking at him. 

"No.  I get it, hehe, ah…Yeah.  That's good!  It's just I'm, I'm…"

Sasuke put a hand on his shoulder.  Naruto jumped.  "He's having a bad day," Sasuke stated.

The demon Glas seemed to find that funny.

"Hah!  Not giving 'im any, izzat it?"

Sasuke lifted an eyebrow.  "Yep.  He's not getting anything from me," he said coolly while glancing sideways at Naruto who had turned very red in the face.

Glas seemed impressed by the interplay of emotion on Naruto's face, and the lack of emotion on Sasuke's. 

"Wow.  Very nice, Kitsune.  You always did like the cold bastards.  Come on, I'll buy you a drink."

Sasuke steered the colored Naruto after the demon by his shoulder, cold and hard fingers digging painfully into the flesh. 

"Sasuke, I…"

"The dead don't glow here; we don't have any life at all.  Only the demons glow like your stomach."  Naruto pulled his shirt down.  Sasuke continued. 

"I've let you lead the way this whole time, and you haven't gotten lost yet.  And, you seem to recognize everyone we meet.  You certainly recognized him," Sasuke jerked his head towards Glas.

Naruto plodded on in silence, his head down.  Sasuke didn't remove his dead fingers.

"You could've told me you were a demon before now, you know."

"Didn't think you'd be so…"

"So?"

"…So relaxed about it all.  I mean, I kinda thought maybe, you'd be, you know…angry or something.  Maybe a little scared?"

Sasuke looked down at him, crooking his eyebrows.

"Scared of you?  Never.  I am angry though."

Naruto waited.

"Oh," he said finally.

"You could have told me before this."

"Well it never really came up before now did it?" Naruto snapped back, eyes flashing, the gold glow flashing a little.  He was out on a limb; a metaphorical snowball in hell and Sasuke actually had the nerve to talk to him like that!

Sasuke just looked at him, and the dead fingers gripping his shoulder lessened into something friendlier.

"Still," said Sasuke, before walking on ahead by himself.  "I really hope you have a plan for getting out of this."

Naruto followed fuming.

"Nice boyfriend ye got there mate, even if he is a wraith."

"Shut up."

"Cute ass too."

"Shut up."

***

A few drinks later, dizzy but not yet lost, Naruto and Sasuke wobbled out of the bar laughing.  Well, Naruto was laughing, laughing so hard the tears were coming, Sasuke just seemed to wobble and look around dazed, his own party and action locked up inside his head.  This was not a good idea.

"Some day, somehow--" Naruto wailed.

Hell is not a physical place.  It's an emotional, psychological place.  The rain and wind won't tear it to bits, but the pain of it's damned souls can.  That's how most of the torments came into to being anyway; they were imagined by the inhabitants and given flesh by the nature of the place.

When Naruto was nervous and volatile, he met all the people who were equally nervous and volatile; when Sasuke had steadfastedly decided to get out of Hell, his journey had been pretty straightforward, if a little gooey in places.

"How the hell did we wind up like this? Why weren't we able… Let's rewrite an ending that fits!  Nothing's wrong, just as long as you know—"

Sasuke was a depressed drunk.  This was not good news.

"Some day, some how, gonna make it all right some how…You're the only one who knows that!  I know you wanna…"

Naruto had known all the songs the demons had sang, except some of the newer ones.  The alcohol hadn't made him sick like it usually did either; he'd never felt so light…so rich.  He kept trying to get Sasuke to dance with him, but he was stubborn about that as usual too.  The alcohol had made Sasuke sick; it wasn't meant for wraiths.

Around them, the empty air started to take form, matching the shapes in Sasuke's head.

Without either of them really noticing, what with Naruto singing off-key to Nirvana and trying to get Sasuke to dance with him and Sasuke trying not to throw up, not touch Naruto at all and at the same time not let Naruto go.

The walls came up around them, so Naruto's feet clumped on wooden floor, soaked with blood and anger greasing the air. 

Then, finally, Sasuke threw up shadow.

***

Naruto wandered around the place, confused, lost, and trying to figure what was the deal with red.  Whoever built this place really liked red; the walls were red, the floor was red, even the light was red and there was a vague wet/dark/stickiness to everything that really got to him, that said that this wasn't safe. 

Black and red clouds…tacky, very tacky.  Naruto stepped on a hand.  He had tripped over a thigh sometime back, and the ceiling dripped intestines.  The wood was soaked with blood.  It really smelled bad. 

A happy place for a homicidal maniac this was, but for a teen coming out of alcohol-induced stupor it was not.  He wasn't complete enough yet to be physically sick.  Where'd Sasuke go? 

He poked his head in the corners.

Oh.  The shadows—and there were shadows, but no light—were eating the blood.  Vigorously.  And Sasuke, naturally, was right in the thick of it, on his hands and knees completely out of it but still being eaten enthusiastically. 

Naruto paused. 

|| Goblins ||

Naruto hated goblins.  They picked and ate like scavengers, except scavengers were never that aggressive.  They ate anything they could get out of someone, but Sasuke needed that blood a lot more than they did. 

Finally!  Naruto nearly grinned.  He got to use his shiny swords!

He yanked them out and dove in, floundered and slashed and hacked, then dashed out with Sasuke thrown over his shoulders.

"Fucking ass wipes!  Bleeding cracks!  Bloodied snot-suckers!  Lemme go!  Kersplatz!"

There was a surge of heat down his arm, and the floor splintered with yellow fire, not the red stuff that was everywhere else.  High-pitched squeakings seem to come from the vicinity of his ankles, angry like many small mice.

Naruto kept running.

Damned goblins!  Blood suckers!  Shit-faced little maggoty punks, pink piggy coward bitches! 

Where wouldn't they go though?  Nearly everywhere; they weren't confined to Hell or anywhere in it.  Sooooo….

Next stop was through the Hell for Empty Dreamers, so probably no more demons demanding money from him.  Hopefully.

***

Naruto was duly surprised.

"You…hentai."

He kept his back pressed into the corner, kept them both in the heavy shadows, and didn't make a sound.  Sasuke was curled up in his lap, cold and not breathing, and hadn't woken up, but his thoughts were still being given physical form for Naruto to see.  These, like the previous, were based on memories. 

These weren't memories of tragedy and blood and betrayal though.  This was Hell for Empty Dreamers, and the landscape acted appropriately.   These memories were based on Sasuke's later life, and Naruto seemed to feature a great deal.

It was New Years Eve.  Big deal among some people, for other people it just meant the price of fruits and wine went up stupidly.  Sasuke and Naruto were Fruits.   But for one of the rare times, maybe the second in Naruto's life, the holiday was not spent alone.  They passed the illegal bottle back and forth at leisure, making a point not to talk.  If they started talking, they'd argue.  It wouldn't be quiet anymore, and Sasuke would jump out of Naruto's window again. 

In reality, after the fireworks—they'd been OK—Sasuke had left without a word and with the bottle. 

In the space in front of Naruto in the small not-bloodied room, the fireworks were just finishing for Memory Naruto and Sasuke.  Slowly, Sasuke had turned to him, leaned over and…

Naruto raised an eyebrow inquisitively.  Well, the goblins sure weren't coming in here.  Wasn't their thing.

That was the…what?  Seventh time he'd seen himself kiss in the last 10 minutes?  Eighth time maybe?  

Well.

Sasuke had things he hadn't told Naruto either, that was for sure.  Made up for the fox-demon bit, Naruto figured. 

There was another one coming up as the New Years issue faded in form and color, this time of them both at the bathhouse.  The weird thing was that Naruto remembered all this, he knew it had happened.  It just hadn't happened the way Sasuke wanted it to, apparently.

Brief shouting match, scuffle, and then Sasuke had nearly drowned Naruto again.  But, as before, it hadn't ended with Naruto's back against the floor, Sasuke's hand trailing down his stomach or Naruto gasping for air.  It just hadn't.

      Naruto was beginning to notice a trend he did not like. 

Sasuke's tongue hadn't touched his throat, hadn't kissed his chest, Naruto knew he had never touched Sasuke's hair ever in his whole life, and certainly not like that, and very much doubted he could make sounds like that.  Those were girly sounds.  What did Sasuke think he was anyway?

The Real Naruto pouted.  He was feeling singled-out.  The bathhouse Memory faded out before anything really squishy happened, and a new one rose from the steam and took form.

This one was—surprisingly—of them when they were older.  There was no pretence to how this one had begun, and Naruto knew for a fact that it was pure fantasy because he'd remember if he had ever been in bed with Sasuke Uchiha naked.

Dream Naruto's back was pressed into Sasuke's chest, his eyes were closed and he looked  pretty sleepy to himself, and his paler counterpart was slowly placing kisses along his neck, arms wrapped around his waist, fingers trailing along his ribs. 

Real Naruto raised an eyebrow.

The Dream Naruto had grinned, snickered, and finally laughed while the Dream Sasuke continued to tickle him along his ribs and stomach and kiss along his neck and chest, pulling his body closer to his own.

The laughter eventually died down, Dream Naruto smiling and looking worn-out and the Dream Sasuke smirking his evil little smirk, and taking the time and effort to really kiss the Dream Naruto good; locking eyes and deliberately making it slow and deep. 

Well.  This was certainly one of the odd ones. 

But…Sasuke had thought of them when they were older?  Older?  As in the future?  What the hell?

But they weren't doing anything real wrong; just kissing and tickling and being naked.  Not, when you got right down to the fuck of it, really doing anything wrong.  Just playful and kind of…too cute to be real Sasuke Uchiha but there you had it.

In Naruto's lap, Sasuke hadn't stirred, didn't breathe.  Naruto would go so far to say he was dead, except that he knew he was.  The next memory/fantasy was harder to pin down.  Naruto didn't remember it. 

He had been walking at night—alone—but Sasuke had been following him.  He hated when he did things like that to him.  Made him feel…well, it made him feel irresponsible.  Sure he was, but that didn't mean Sasuke had to do it behind his back.

And that seemed to be the fantasy in total.  Naruto walked around, and Sasuke followed.  That was it.  No big deal, right?

And it wasn't. 

They hadn't touched at all in reality, during the whole thing, and Sasuke was left watching outside his window like a funky stalker-owl but…

Real Naruto could tell between memory and desire now.  The colorings were different.

In the fantasy that Naruto watched, Sasuke came into his room. 

In the fantasy, Naruto had talked and Sasuke had listened, and, unsurprisingly, they had kissed. 

And while the Real Naruto still thought Sasuke was being terribly perverted about all of it, it was interesting to note that, for once, in the past 14 odd fantasies he had seen, Naruto had been the aggressor and not Sasuke. 

This fantasy was also more detailed than the others. 

"…Wow.  Sasuke-kun that's really…" Naruto looked down.

"…Oh.  Hello.  Good morning I think, but there's never really any time here."

Sasuke had seen the fantasies.  Too bad for him they didn't disappear just because he woke up.  The landscape had it's own sense of humor.

"I do have a complaint though.  Nothing big, it's just something I've noticed."

Sasuke didn't move.  Not even his eyes twitched.

"Why am I always bottom?  Except for here?  It's not like I'm a girl or anything, so what's up with that?"

***

Sasuke ran from the structure; bits of it were still falling flaming to the ground, and his clothes smoked, his eyes still blazing brightly and body tanning from the fiery attack.  Naruto ran to catch up.  He yelled. 

"Will you drop it already!" Sasuke yelled back.  Sasuke yelling was a rare thing.

Naruto, for the first time it seemed, finally looked Sasuke in the eye. 

"No!" he shouted on the top of his lungs.  "First time EVER anyone tells me the sexiest boy on earth has a crush on me,"

"It's not a goddamn crush!  Stop saying that!"

"What?  You just like seeing me naked?!  Is my ass that hot?  No one's ever had a crush on me and I'm gonna fucking enjoy!  An' if you don't like it, well then tough shit for you Lover Boy!"

"What did you call me?"

"Lover Boy, Pin-up Boy, Pretty Boy…take your pick, I've got a million you asshole."

"…Just drop it."

" No."

"Goddamn it Naruto—"

" Why?  Hey!  Put me down!"

Sasuke had grabbed his shirt while Naruto kicked and spun.  His skin burned where he touched him.  He was dead, but Naruto was still very much alive thanks to Nine Tails.

"Because I fucking said!  All they were were fantasies!  They didn't actually happen!"

"No fuck!  I'd remember, yeah?"

Naruto stumbled to the ground in a heap where Sasuke had thrown him, and glared.  Sasuke stared impassively down and dry.

"Stop poking at it."

"You know what Uchiha?  You know what?  You're pretty sick.  No, I don't mean it about being me or us being guys I mean it where you're too dumb to go for anything where you might actually lose!  At all!  In a fight you're all macho but anything else you get so fucking scared it's sick!  People lose, you asshole!" Naruto screamed in face.  Then he stormed off ahead.

He had been expecting to be hit in the back.  What he hadn't expected was Sasuke's voice, strong, arrogant but strangely wet, quiet.

"What would you know…what would you know about losing?"

Naruto stopped.  Then, carefully, he turned around, and simply looked at Sasuke.  The slight gold glow that wriggled under his skin.  His eyes were faintly purplish.  Sasuke waited.  His eyes widened when Naruto strode back over to him, but he didn't back down or show what he was thinking. 

"Look around you, Sasuke," Naruto said quietly.  "Everyone here knows me.  The weird thing is, they don't hate me, and I find that very strange.  I'm not used to it.  I didn't have a family, you know.  I'm starting to have things, things that really belong to me…So I think that maybe, yeah, I might learn about loss pretty damn soon."

Naruto held his gaze; Naruto held him but they never touched. 

"But I keep the memory.  It's a hell a lot than what I had before, okay, because that was nothing.  It'll be fucking worth it."

And Naruto held his gaze, his body half-turning to walk away but…couldn't break his gaze.  Sasuke didn't dare blink. 

"Is it?"

To his credit, Naruto didn't answer that one immediately.  He paused, thought it over, and finally said, "Yeah.  Yeah it is.  Anything's better than that…better than the silence."

Sasuke simply studied his eyes, trying to see if he really believed what he was saying, the strength of his convictions.  Then, finally, he nodded, and allowed his gaze to drop.  He wasn't agreeing, wasn't admitting he was wrong.  He just wasn't arguing at the moment.

Naruto let go of a breath he hadn't realized he was holding—still weird being the only one that breathed—and nodded too. 

"Fine," he said quietly.  "We're nearly at the gateway anyway, we just need to—"

Sasuke cut him off again, but this Naruto was surprised.

Then, on nearly the afterthought, he leaned forward and stood up on his toes.  He let out a gasp as icy fingers touched his back gently, made his hair stand on end, and felt Sasuke swallow it and wince.  Demon flesh still burned him, but he wasn't thinking on that. 

Naruto breathed out gently through his nose, moaned softly in the back of his throat while Sasuke clutched him tighter and put his hands nervously on his shoulders.  It burned Sasuke to touch him; the wraiths and demons didn't normally mix. 

But this…this…

Sasuke didn't really care if he burned his fingers off or not right then.  His lips were burning, decomposing, but…

He didn't notice that he was breathing Naruto's air.

He did notice how his heart was starting to wriggle uncomfortably and how his head was suddenly light, foggy, and how very…

'Satisfactory,' his mind provided drolly.

…how very satisfactory it was to have Naruto's lips touch his like that.

***

"…"

"…"

"…Sasuke's blushing."

"…Yep."

"Do corpses normally do that?"

"I…think it can happen.  But…it's not real normal, I don't think.  Um…"

"Kakashi!  He's breathing!  He's breathing!"

Sasuke woke up choking, Naruto just woke up sick. 

Iruka flipped him over and slapped him on his back while Kakashi supported Sasuke and Asuma tended religiously to the bottle and his cigar.

'I'm never getting married,' was Naruto's last cohesive thought.

***

*Song Naruto sings in Nicklebacks' "Someday."  Not mine.

A/N: Okie dokee…I want more work done on this one.  Eventually.  All done in ONE big day!  Yay me!  Okieday…goodnight.  I'm going to sleep.

Oh hey…if you want me to reply to your review, would you mind terribly saying so and leaving your email?  I'd really appreciate it, because sometimes I want to reply but at the same time I don't want to harass someone after they've been so nice to me.  So, if you want me to, just say so and leave a way for me to find you (and that means you, Monkfish and Evafreak), and I will!  Promise!  I like to, I just don't wanna be too weird about it.