This is one of my first Naruto fics. And no, I don't own them, just like all of you other writers who don't own stuff. This is a somewhat dark fic, although it's not as dark as some of my other stuff. (links are found in my profile) Yaoi! Mwahaha. Angst!
I also don't want you to think I'm going to make anyone OOC or anything. It's just I have a certain view on how Naruto would feel, or react, or what I think he would have thought long before everything went down. This also takes place in a general time after the chunin exam, before Sasuke's taken to Orochimaru and after the two duke it out with the chidori/rasengan…
At least someone is clear on that…_
Just to be sure, this is YAOI. Sasu/Naru, if you couldn't see the fic-description. You don't like it? Don't read it. ^__^;; er…Rated…um, R, for later situations…XD
(Oh! Song lyrics are "Every You Every Me" by Placebo!)
Out from Inside
//Sucker love is heaven sent//
//you pucker up, our passion spent//
A shadow across his face makes him raise his eyes to the sky. He looks up to see the outline of a hand against the sky and blinks in surprise. It takes him a moment to realize that the hand is merely dangling over the edge of the flat roof of the school, and thinks Who would be out there at this time? Nearing sunset? Most people are inside, now…As he would have been, if not for Kakashi's constant barrage of 'training.'
Curious, somewhat annoyed, he stares upwards, sore and tired and decides unconsciously to vent his anger on what is most likely a child skipping out from his family. A second later, he is skimming up along a nearby tree and lands soundlessly on the metal rooftop, crouching to keep his balance.
It was a good thing he does so, he reflected later, because when he sees who the hand belongs to, he nearly slips right back down and to meet the earth face-on.
Naruto? Sasuke blinks rapidly. It seems to be a sudden habit. What is he doing…just lying there?
The boy hasn't noticed him, hasn't heard him touch lightly upon the metal. Sasuke feels a frown form upon his face. Naruto looks asleep, sprawled out upon his back, face turned slightly. Still curious and more than mildly annoyed now, Sasuke eases his way over on light fingertips and toes, as loud as the passing breeze.
Was he training too? comes the quiet thought. He feels a stubborn flash of anger and a vicious sense of smugness—even if he had been training, he's apparently out cold from it. Not like Sasuke—true, he's exhausted, but he wasn't sleeping on a roof because he was too tired to go home.
What an idiot, he thinks, almost fondly.
Sasuke scoots around to peer with a smirk into the face that's turned away—and a shivery cold feeling strikes him in the stomach when he manages to get a clear look at the face for the first time. Almost against his will, he exhales a low puff of surprise.
Those are…tears on his face?
He has never seen the other boy in such a state, has never seen anything but exuberant cheerfulness, or ridiculous anger and foolish ways—he hasn't ever thought to see such a lost expression, even if he was sleeping. It slams his mind into a hesitating sympathy.
Why do I feel as if I'm seeing something no one else ever sees? A shiver racks through him. Absently, he reaches out to brush an finger across the dried tracks on the whisker-marked cheeks.
The eyes flutter, and panicking, Sasuke flickers himself out of sight and lands on the ground with a belated intake of breath. His heart is thumping wildly, and his fingertips tingle in the absence of touch. What was that? What the hell was I doing!?
He scuttles over to the wall, pressing close into the shadows, and looks up. He watches the hand flex, then withdraw. Then a mutter of sound—but Sasuke is already slipping along the wall and darting away. In moments he's out of sight, and conceals himself in a dark unused room.
Why—Why did I do that?
//my body's broken//
//yours is bent//
He ran until the trees sped by in blurs of mossy brown. He was heedless of the wet rain, the slick leaves and treacherous footing. He didn't care—anything would be better than this. His heart pounded furiously, his throat burning as he sucked in half-sobbing gulps of air.
He ran, pushing himself until his legs burned into numbness, until he couldn't feel his heart thumping, until all he could feel and hear and think of was the sneer on that perfect face. The disgust in the eyes, the cold irritation in the set of the mouth. A face he had thought wouldn't show such a hateful expression.
—Damn you damn you damn you!—
He ran, soaked to the skin, hair plastered to his skull and tears mixing with the rain. His mouth was open in a silent scream, the grimace more of pain than anger and the world was a blur of bitter anguished hurting—
Everything was hurting.
A vine caught his ankle, and suddenly—before he could react he had tumbled to the ground in a boneless heap, shuddering with the force. Stars knocked through his vision as he lay there, too stunned to move, too stunned to breath for a moment.
…damn you…his mind repeated in a broken whisper, and his shoulders began to shake. His voice made a keening breathy whine as he squeezed his eyes shut and told himself he wouldn't cry. He wouldn't cry, not over him—not over that bastard, not over what he said and how he looked and—
Choking, Naruto curled into a ball, aching more within his soul than out, and sobbed.
//in the shape of things to come//
//too much poison come undone//
//every me and every you//
The rain made winding patterns on the glass of the window. The wind was blowing at an angle tonight, so even as the rain slid into oblivion the wind would come along and push it aside, toying with it. It gave the world beyond an underwater sense, an off-balance twist to the normal view. He noticed this without realizing, staring out into the darkness and watched the clouds churn angrily. They were a dusky greenish black that matched his feelings.
His brow furrowed behind the protector, his eyes distant. White teeth worried at a lip, and almost absently, he stifled a sigh.
…the look in his face… his mind reminded. You hurt him.
I didn't… he lied. That's not it—that's not it at all. I didn't do anything!
Sasuke sighed softly, his expression flickering between stern resolve and remorse. He hadn't meant to make the blond upset—he hadn't thought his words would affect him so. He hadn't ever reacted like that to anyone else, had he? Naruto was always laughing, always bouncing from insults and as fidgety as a child on a pound of sugar. He always brushed off the slurs and grinned.
He was always smiling.
So his insults shouldn't matter, Sasuke decided. They were rivals. They were trying to out-do each other, and if a word could strike such a sensitive place, then didn't that show who was stronger?
But… why am I different? Why did you look at me like that? Why follow me and chase me as if defeating me was the most important thing? As if my…acknowledgement mattered?
Then, in a soft, almost unheard whisper of thought, What did I do wrong?
"I heard what happened," a quiet voice spoke in the silence, shattering into the depressed thoughts.
Unsurprised, Sasuke turned his head to see the half-masked Kakashi perched on the second window across the room. It was open, and although it was on the shielded side of the room, rain skittered in and left tiny puddles on the floor.
"Kakashi-sensei," Sasuke replied shortly, pointedly eying the puddles on the floor.
The tall rangy man ignored the look, and raised a brow. "Sakura mentioned that Naruto ran off into the woods, and that the other kids were saying that the 'great Sasuke' had put Naruto in his place."
"Really?" the dark-eyed boy said coolly, and turned back to stare through the window.
"So what did you say to him?" the man said offhandedly.
Sasuke frowned. His words had been no more than an automatic response, the words he always said…the ones everyone used. So why did he run off like that? "I said nothing that no one's said before," he glowered.
//I know I'm selfish, I'm unkind//
//sucker love, I always find someone to bruise//
//and leave behind//
Sasuke isn't sure why he's staring at the blond from the corner of his eye, isn't sure why he's regarding the boy with attention that most of the girls would die to have, or looking with his precious and rarely-shown curiosity. He doesn't know—all he can think of was the lack of pretense seemed to draw him.
Sasuke wants to see it again. He wants to see the boy without his masks, without his cheerful goofy grin and childish actions. Wants to know if everything the boy did was a charade, and why he pretends. Sasuke wants to know why he fights so hard and laughs without a care and why he's so stubborn—wants to know if he's hiding that sorrowful pain inside every time.
And…wants to know why he wants to know. Why it holds such fascination.
Sasuke follows him one afternoon, keeping his distance and watching with dark questioning eyes as Naruto slips off into the low hills. It takes him the better part of an hour to finally muster up the courage to approach, mind searching for a plausible excuse. Perhaps they could spar—
Sasuke tilts his head. "Oiy, dobe! What are you doing?"
"Eh?" the blond twists his head back over his shoulder, startled. "Sasuke? What the hell?" he says while frowning, a gleam in his eye that seems to be…happy.
Is he glad to see me? Sasuke thinks, staring down from the top of the hill. Glad even though all we do now is fight? He shrugs in response to Naruto's teasing grin, and paces down the hill. He raises a brow when he reaches level ground. "You skipped out of training early," he says finally, disapprovingly.
"Aw, who cares," the blond shrugs easily, then falls back with his arms behind his head. "That old pervert talks too much."
Old pervert—Sasuke frowns, scanning his memory for the name of Naruto's recent teacher. Jiraiya…a pervert? Sasuke remains silent long enough to make Naruto fidget uncomfortably and peer at him curiously. Deciding it wasn't important, Sasuke bends his legs and seats himself smoothly on the ground.
"Idiot," he says. "You're not going to be able to beat me with that kind of attitude, dobe. I know you better than you think, and you wouldn't pass up any opportunity to get to be the Hokage. It's going to take more than skipping out on training just because you can do some special moves," he finishes, smirking slightly.
Blue eyes are wide; the mask slips enough to show shock. "W-What?" the blond blinks rapidly. He must be startled to hear such a long-winded speech—Sasuke hasn't ever seen the blond so surprised.
Naruto is peering at him suspiciously.
Sasuke doesn't look at him, his mind slipping blankly as he reaches out and plucks a blade of grass, toying with it. He repeats, "I know you better than that. You shouldn't pretend."
There. Take the bait, Naruto. Show me how well you fight in this kind of battle.
Naruto pushes himself back up and frowns at him, eyes dark with a hesitant emotion. "Sasuke…"
The dark-haired boy has a slight scowl on his face. "Why do you pretend?" he pauses. "Naruto—"
"Why do you care?" the blond whispers, emotions pushed aside until only stiffness sets into his shoulders. He turns his face away. "You don't even like me—we're not friends, we're rivals—"
Sasuke glances at him sharply at the sound of the odd wistfulness in the voice, the grass pinched between thumb and forefinger staining his skin green, but the blond isn't facing him.
"Why should you care?" Naruto repeats bitterly.
He's never had anyone…they all treat him the same—and yet, I don't know why…he's different…He thinks he's my equal, he thinks he's that strong—"That's not true," Sasuke says slowly. "You—"
"Sa~aasuke!" a high voice cries out, and as the dark-eyed boy turns his head, Sakura waves from the top of the hill. "Kakashi said to meet him at the third statue!"
He gives a half-hearted wave of his hand to show he's heard, and looks back. Naruto is watching from the corner of his eye, emotions leashed and small wiry body tense. A wary look—as if he's merely waiting for a kick, expecting it—it stares out at him. It has been such a long time since they had done anything but fought—it seems ages ago that he had jumped in front of a barrage of deadly needles for this boy…not even knowing why.
It's strange how things seem to change even when you look them straight in the eye.
"Naruto," the dark-haired boy muses absently as he stands. "What if we are?" Then he turns and begins the climb. He's nearing the top of the hill when a furious voice shouts up at him.
"Oiy, you bastard! Even if we are—it doesn't mean I'll play nice! I'll still kick your ass!"
Sasuke turns to smile faintly at the determined look, the clenched fists. "You still can't beat me, and we might be friends in spite of it all," he calls. "But that doesn't mean I'll go easy on you, dobe!"
Kakashi made a quiet hmm, startling him out from the memory. "I see," he said after a moment. "So he took something that you said personally—yet, that's unlike him, right?"
"It's stupid," Sasuke declared, irate and flustered. "It's a stupid thing to do, running off like that and getting all upset over words. It's not like I—" he paused, mouth working, and turned away angrily. It's not like I meant it…
Not like he knows that, stupid.
"So, you think it's strange to see him hurt by the careless words of someone he cares enough to protect? You might as well slap him in the face, Sasuke," Kakashi replied simply.
Stop it. Stop it, I know! He grimaced, rubbing absently at his shoulder. "Kakashi-sensei…" I can't be his friend, not when I do something as stupid as this…not when all I seem to see is when he gets stronger…
"So what do you think you should do, Sasuke?"
"I don't know!" the boy exploded, finally turning to face the unruffled teacher. His clenched fists rose half-heartedly. "He gives me these looks, as if I'm something more—like what I do matters to him—We're rivals! Not friends—we can't be friends!" he paused, trying to breath. "God…" he said after a moment. He sounded defeated even to his own ears and slumped. His shoulders hit the wall, and after a second, he slid downward with a faint hiss of cloth-on-wood.
Not friends, but you'll pretend that you are just to find his weakness, a voice accused him.
Kakashi sighed, a fleeting irritation going through his single visible eye, and hopped through the window. He muttered something that sounded like 'blind to everything,' and walked over to the slumping dark-eyed boy.
"Sasuke," he said kindly. "Yes or no: do you want him as a friend?"
Dark eyes peered at him, confused. "Kakashi-sensei…"
A hand laid itself with comforting weight on his shoulder. "All I'm saying is that there is more to life than revenge and being the best…if you have the courage to find it."
But I—I told him—
//Hands catch his arm, and he hears an excited breathless voice. He turns to see Ino and a small group of the other girls. They ask him about his day, about his training. All of them have been impressed with—as usual—since he had shown his powers during the Chuunin exam. As usual, he thinks. Mildly disgusted with their actions, but unable to avoid it, he mentions a few details as they walk into the school. Anything to keep them occupied. Anything to get that faint sense of strength that they seemed to prove by flocking to him.//
//Then in the hall, a girl he has never paid any attention to before is asking,"So, Sasuke-kun—tell us! Does this mean you're friends with Naruto now? You've both trained and gotten so strong—" she breathes with half-awed, half-disgusted fascination. "Is he really—" //
//He frowns, wondering why they think of the blond, why he feels uneasy at their words, and shakes his head. Inside, a small part of him is realizing that his singular existence as a prodigy is being slowly worn away—and his voice becomes as cold as he can make it by the time they reach the door—which takes surprising little time. He injects his angry automatic thought as they all pause for breath.//
//"No—I'm not friends with that stupid dobe. He's just on my team—the team is more important than his stupidity. And we're rivals—besides, why would I want to be friends with him—" the door opens as he speaks. The words seem to die upon his mouth, as he sees the face beyond slip into something resembling incredulity. The blond is in the middle of opening the door for him, in the middle of yelling out a greeting, and as he sees the shock flicker into something stronger…//
//Blue eyes widen slightly, fine cracks in the mask that shatter outward—even as the face smoothes into practiced distance. There's a faint shimmer of disbelief. Of pain. Of a deep and constant pain, even after all this time.//
//…Sasuke knows he made a mistake, although he can't understand how.//
//Behind him sounds the heedlessly cruel laughter of the others, the mocking faces. People that had grown up with him, people that had been influenced since birth to look in a certain way.//
//People that the fox-cursed boy strived to prove wrong…including one Uchiha Sasuke. The blue eyes flicker, the mouth moving as if he wants to speak—but he flashes out of the room without another word, betrayal hanging thick in the air, thicker than the laughter of the peers and thicker than the uneasy doubt.//
//Outside, it begins to rain.//
//pucker up for heaven's sake//
//there's never been so much at stake//
//I serve my head up on a plate//
I should just leave, came the unbidden thought, as cold as the muddy mixture of leaves and roots he found himself on. Leave and never come back. I was wrong—he doesn't care…he'll never care. I should just leave.
Naruto inhaled with a wet snuffling sound, rain and tears and snot on his face, smeared with mud and scrapes. He fought back a choking pain at the thought—he'll never care!—tried to breathe through his stuffed-up nose.
Leave. Go away. No more pain, no more monster—go away where no one knows and no one cares…
…where there's no Sasuke…
Naruto pushed himself up, absently rubbing his bruised shin and knees, scouring away the filth on his face with an equally filthy sleeve. Where would I go?
But leaving meant traveling, and right off the bat he knew that anyone leaving the Hidden Leaf would refuse his company. He was on his own for this, or…
What about my training? Jiraiya won't just let me leave—
Naruto exhaled slowly, heedless of the rain and muck and the cold eating him away. The seed of an idea was taking root, and within moments, he knew what he could do.
He could go find Jiraiya…find him and continue his training and get away from everything because he knew that the old pervert would be up to 'visiting' some of the more prominent hot springs…Even if it meant leaving the Hidden Leaf for a time…
…leaving Sasuke behind…
Naruto had to leave.
The rain swirled in the muddy hollow as the afterimage fizzled apart, wet leaves stuck to the bark and the ground. There was no sign of movement, no sign of anyone ever curled up against the roots and breaking.
There was no sign of Naruto to be found.
//All alone in space and time//
//there's nothing here but what-here's mine//
//something borrowed, something blue//
Two days passed before Sasuke found out that Naruto was gone without a trace, leaving everything behind. His possessions, his ramen, his things—all of it was here, and Naruto was gone.
It took him three minutes to move, nodding with a jerk and struggling to breathe despite the news.
It's all my fault. All my fault he's gone and it's my fault!
It would be years before Sasuke had reason to smile again.
…um, first time I'm writing a Naruto/Sasuke fic. *grin* and it's all his fault! *points randomly*
but anyhoo…never fear, it's not that angsty. It'll be…different, true. But it'll be smut-ish, and *definitely* yaoi. But this is just the prologue, and I'm setting up everything. I hope the scene-shifts didn't mess you up—the present-tense stuff is flashback, and the other stuff (under the ~present~ tags) is what happens right then and there. Otay?
Otay. Enjoy! Review, please!