By Geno Calamari

So this is it, huh? You and me, and we're gonna rumble.

It's always like this, ain't it? You go off runnin' off on your own and do some stupid shit and I go runnin' after you to try and make it better. You unbalance the team just as much as I do.

That's why I am, Uzumaki Naruto: the Uchiha Fix-It Ninja. Nobody else can get through to you because nobody else really matters to you. I guess I matter because I'm a rival or a friendly enemy or something like that. That's supposed to make me feel good that the Great Uchiha Sasuke considers me good enough to be a rival, huh?

Fuck that.

I'm always chasing you. I'm not a rival; I'm your goddamn protector. How many times have you needed my help? How many times have you been within an inch of your life and I had to save you? Snap you out of your own dumb-ass self and get you to save the day? I can't remember all the times.

How many times have you done something stupid, just like this, and I had to calm you down or cover for you? Shit, that's a lot of times, ain't it?

So you want to leave Konoha? Not happening, if I have anything to say about it. I'm gonna bring you back to that damn girl with the pink hair. Yeah, the one you can't stop hurting and the one I can't help loving.

She's gonna cry, Sasuke. Either way this goes down, she'll shed tears. Do you really want her to cry?

I hate it when she cries. Something inside my chest just tightens up and it hurts. The only thing I want when it hurts like that is for her to stop crying. But people cry in lotsa different ways, I know, I've done all of them. People cry when they're happy, too. So if she cries when she's happy, I think it doesn't hurt so bad.

There's only one way to make her happy Sasuke. I'll let the Kyuubi tear its way out of my stomach before I hurt Sakura-chan.

So here we are, standing on these huge statues and glaring at each other. Your face is half-covered in seal and your eye has been fucked all to hell. My determination slips just a bit, but I've come too damn far and watched too damn many friends sacrifice themselves for you. For no reason other than they were told to. They weren't friends of yours. They had nothing to do with this. But they came anyway.

You tell me that you want Orochimaru, because he'll give you what you need to kill your brother. I tell you that you're an idiot, because you are.

Do you know what he wants with you? I do. He's gonna crawl into your skin and use your body and throw away what makes you you and you'll be dead. Sure, the bastard may not do it today or tomorrow or even this year, but he'll do it eventually. When it's done, you won't be anything more than a memory and he'll have the Sharingan. All so that you could get revenge on your brother.

And it's not worth it, Sasuke. Don't you get that?

And now we're gonna fight. I'm kicking and screaming and yelling anything I can to get through that thick head of yours and get to the real Sasuke. The Sasuke I know, my rival… my friend.

I'm gonna fix this. If I have to beat you senseless, I'll fix it.

I don't care how bad this hurts. I don't care how long this takes. I'll bring you back. Some how. Some way.

You want power? I'm gonna give it to you. I'll prove that you can find strength in Konoha and you'll be so amazed by how bad I beat you that you'll never leave again.

You're never gonna hurt her again.

That's what I gotta do. I can knock you out and drag you back, letting you hit your stupid Uchiha head on every bump and rock on the road back to Konoha, but it won't change anything. If I can show you that I'm stronger, that Konoha's stronger than Orochimaru, then you won't want to leave. Ever.

And then she'll be happy and everything will go back to the way it used to be.

Yeah, right. Even I know that nothing'll be the same after today.

Let's go, come on, pull out that seal. Go ahead, I don't give a shit. I'll beat you no matter what you do, no matter how much you take. Take and take and take and take, damn you. That's you all over, isn't it? You always take everyone else's best moves and strengths and make them your own. I think that's pretty much cheating, don't you?

Guess what? It doesn't matter.

Because Sasuke, I can cheat too. I've got something you can never copy or steal or use against me. And I can give more than you can take.

And we're gonna let the shit hit the fan. You wanna go, I don't wanna let you. It's that simple.

So here we go. I'm gonna fight you with everything I've got. You better not hold back now.

Iruka-sensei once said 'Nothing ever comes easy, that what makes us strong.' You didn't figure that out yet.

Why am I doing this, you ask? Because she asked me to and I promised her, like the dumb, love-struck idiot I am. Yeah, her. I love her Sasuke, and I don't really know how to explain it, I'm not good with words. But I will not let you go. A promise is a promise and if we break promises, then we're worth less than trash. I'm not trash, Sasuke. I've spent my whole life tryin' to prove that and I'm be damned if I'm gonna become trash for you.

When I'm done beating your ass, I'll drag you back to Konoha and she'll start crying. She'll thank me and maybe, if I'm lucky, she might even hug me.

But she will smile.

And then it'll all be worth it. Every bump and bruise will be… I don't know… justified or something. Because Sakura-chan's happiness is worth all of this… to me anyway. She's better than holy, Sasuke, and I don't get why you can't see that.

So let's dance. Get ready, Sasuke. You're not just dancing with the dead-last loser, you're gonna dance with the demon, too. It's been waiting for this ever since we met and the monster's ready to rock. I'm so pissed off I could spit fire. Hit me again, pain helps me think.

Iruka-sensei once told me a word, but because I'm not so good with them, I didn't understand what he meant. He said 'impasse,' and I just looked at him with that squinty, suspicious look I'm known for. One day, I finally asked him what it means. He told me.

This is an Impasse, Sasuke. You want one thing and I want the other. We can't fix this without coming to blows.

This is it. There are only two ways this can end. I'm gonna make damn well sure that it ends the way I want.

This is our crossroads, Sasuke.

Author's Notes:

Hmm… that came out a bit more coherent than I expected. But anyway, I read manga 219 and I couldn't really resist the urge to write this. I probably made Naruto's thoughts out to be more intelligent than they really are, but I don't claim to be able to follow his thought patterns. Yes, I am well aware there wasn't enough ramen in this for it to truly be Naruto, but bear with me.

Well, this is a one-shot, probably because I'm leaving it up to Kishimoto to choose who trumps whom. I rather like the idea of Sasuke losing, if only to take the Uchiha down a peg. But if he succeeds and escapes Naruto, I wouldn't be too heartbroken. What can I say? I like the idea of everybody being free of the Uchiha rain-cloud.

If this story happens to be similar to one that you have written or are writing, then I apologize. I came up with this on an urge and I do not make it a habit of borrowing other's intellectual property. But then, you have to remember that this is fanfiction and we're all borrowing from someone else, so the whole point is moot anyway. Hence, the reason why I never include disclaimers.