Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to me.

A/N: N/A

Chapter Four

Sasuke came back to consciousness slowly, his mind feeling almost fluffy – as if it had been packed full of wool and left to sit for a few days.

Gradually thought began to seep into his mind and he noticed small things – he was warm – his pillow was soft – his mattress was comfortable – he had a small, dull pain in his left arm. There was something niggling at him though, something he was sure he was supposed to remember that was terribly important. He worked at it, trying hard to make his thoughts become something coherent so he could make sense of them.

There was something odd about being so warm and comfortable, he was sure he wasn't supposed to be, so he worked on that first. Why shouldn't he be? Because he wasn't at home. Right, that was good logic. He shouldn't be warm and comfortable if he wasn't at home because…because… He pushed his mind a bit and vaguely recalled that it had been raining. But why had he been out in the rain? He pushed his mind a bit more. He'd been out in the rain…fighting, yeah, that's right. He'd been fighting in the rain; it had been exhausting and had eaten away at his last reserves of energy, which he'd already been pushing to the limit to get home. To get home because… And suddenly Sasuke remembered. Like a dam breaking his memories flooded back and he sat bolt upright, his eyes snapping open.



Sasuke snapped his head to the right and looked down directly into Naruto's blurry expression. The boy had obviously been sleeping, his head resting in his crossed arms on the side of Sasuke's hospital bed.

Sasuke stared.

After a moment of sleepy blinking, Naruto yawned, sat up straight in his chair and stretched. Then he glared at Sasuke.

"So you're awake now, asshole. Thanks, you were a lot of help." Sarcasm.

Sasuke's eyes narrowed at the blonde's tone and he found his voice, "What happened?" he demanded.

"Oh nothing much," Naruto glared, "you just walked into my room and passed out cold. You've been sound asleep for the last two days straight."

"Two days." Sasuke repeated blankly then very deliberately reached out and poked Naruto in the shoulder. His eyes narrowed, "You're solid." He accused.

Naruto glared, slapping Sasuke's hand away from him and stood up, "No thanks to you!" he snapped, "You fell flat on your face and then Kakashi-sensei stepped right over you and reversed the Jutsu!"

"Kakashi-sensei! How did he-?" Sasuke stopped talking as the image of Kakashi nonchalantly leaning against a tree watching as Sasuke figured out the Jutsu came into his mind. He had…he'd been watching Sasuke with his Sharingan while it was still half covered to make it look like he hadn't, it was the only explanation. But why? And for how long had he been doing it?

Sasuke shook himself out of his thoughts and tuned back in to Naruto who was in full ranting mode complete with finger pointed at Sasuke accusingly.

"…Bastard! What if I had died while you took your little nap?! Some heroic saviour you are! If Kakashi-sensei hadn't have been there I'd probably be long gone, you selfish asshole! I bet you did it on purpose! Ahhh!! You did, didn't you! Basta-mfph!"

Sasuke let the noise wash over him and allowed himself a small smile. It was irritating and loud and normally made him want to strangle the blonde to within an inch of his life, but right now it was proving to Sasuke that the boy was alive. No longer an image, or a spirit, he was really alive and back to normal and safe. Sasuke wasn't going to lose someone else close to him, but still…

Not really thinking about it, Sasuke reached out and grabbed Naruto's raised arm and yanked the blonde towards him, crushing him against his chest in a fierce hug.

"I'm glad you're alright." Sasuke murmured and ignored Naruto's startled exclamation, hugging him tighter, "I really, really am."

"Y-you are?" Naruto asked slowly, his voice muffled slightly from being half crushed against Sasuke's shoulder. "R-really?"

"Yes." Sasuke said firmly, "I-I'm sorry I passed out." He added, the words only sticking in his throat a little before he could get them out. "I…"

A subtle tension seemed to drain out of Naruto suddenly and he curled his fingers tightly around the fabric of Sasuke's hospital shirt and moved his position so he wasn't so sprawled across the bed or crushed against him, "It's okay." He said over Sasuke's apology, "I was mad but…" he tightened his grip and glared fixedly at the floor, "I was more worried if you were alright. You've been pushing yourself since we left the village, your energy had to run out sometime."

"It picked a hell of a time." Sasuke said his voice touched with irritation.

They fell silent for a moment, each falling into their own thoughts, searching for something to say. Naruto broke the silence first.

"That reminds me!" Naruto exclaimed and twisted slightly to look up at Sasuke, "I talked to Kakashi-sensei when I woke up yesterday and he said that that Tsuitsui guy knew what was going on!"

Sasuke frowned for a moment, "Tsukai… He what?"

"He knew I was there!" Naruto shook Sasuke slightly, "And that's what he was blabbering at Kakashi-sensei before we left them!"

"Hn, I thought he might have." Sasuke stared at the wall in thought. So that was how come Kakashi had been half watching with his Sharingan. "I wonder if he told Sakura." He added.

Naruto began to laugh and Sasuke moved his gaze from the wall to the top of Naruto's head.

"Shut up, dobe."

"I hope…" more laughing, "he did tell her. It'd serve you right!"

"Chi'" Sasuke dismissed it as irrelevant and waited for Naruto to stop laughing. It was odd, but he didn't mind, not really. Normally he would have snapped at the blonde, tried to force him to shut up; but now…things were different now. Of course he was still going to act like Naruto was the most annoying person that ever lived but… He suddenly tightened his grip around Naruto again and fell backwards against his pillow to lay down. He didn't want to lose Naruto, whether it was from an enemy attack, or because he'd been cold enough to the boy that he thought he wasn't wanted. If he'd learnt anything from this experience, it was that no matter how irritating he could be, Naruto was the one person on this planet that Sasuke couldn't afford to lose.

"I'm going back to sleep." Sasuke declared.

"Err…" Naruto hesitated, "Are you going to let go of me first?"

Sasuke smirked and moved slightly, pulling the blankets out from under Naruto then throwing them over him and tightening his grip.



"Go to sleep." Sasuke ordered.

"O-okay." Naruto answered.

Sasuke let his smirk widen a little, made himself comfortable resting his cheek against the top of Naruto's head and then closed his eyes to follow the orders himself.

End Chapter Four End Skinless

A/N: Yes indeed, the fik is finished. The End. No more. Over and Done with. Wasn't it sweet? I tried to keep Sasuke IC, not sure if it worked.

…Hmm, okay this fik isn't quite as finished as I just said it was. My amazingly cool Beta-er of DOOM 'Ians_K' picked up the bribing idea where my sister left off and so, on the condition that I write a sequel for Skinless, I get a SasuNaru Doujinshi. ^______________^ So yeah; the sequel has been roughly planned out and I think now that I've finished Skinless I'll open a new Word Document and start writing the prologue. Look out for it; it'll be called 'Underneath the Underneath'. …Just don't look out for it soon – I tend to wait until I've gotten at least half the fik written before I start posting it, that way I don't go silent for six months (like I did with Bound) because I got stuck ^_^

And also, I'm working on a second, rather random, fik with my sister that so far is taking priority; we rather like it.

Ja matte ne!!

R&R!!! I consider good feedback akin to bribes and as we can see I work well with incentive ^_~