Oh my god. She's back.

Anyway…thanks to everyone for the reviews, I'll address them on the A/N at the end of the chapter, because I'm sure nobody wants to bother scrolling through a thick pile of thanks. Besides that… On with the story. It will get more serious…I think. I hope.

Warnings: 1) Semi-graphic violence in his chapter. Nothing really serious, and hardly any of it, just thought I'd stick it up here.

2) Shounen-ai. Boy on boy action. If you're homophobic, please don't even bother flaming about it.

Disclaimer: Unless you see Sasuke and Naruto making out in the next manga volume…chapter…thing, Sinful doesn't own Naruto. Yet.

-

. W A I T . A N D . S E E .

By Sinful Serenity

Act 2—Black and White Smile

-

"Fine!" Naruto snapped, whirling around as Sasuke stared at him in shock at the sudden outburst. "She was my girlfriend, okay?!"

››››› Have you heard that melody ‹‹‹‹‹

"Girlfriend…?" Sasuke echoed blankly, staring at the ghost as he shoulders trembled with what looked like barely suppressed rage. "...How is that such a big deal?" He muttered rather bluntly. The blonde finally turned to glare darkly at Sasuke and unleashed the full fury of Uzumaki Naruto.

"DON'T TALK ABOUT THINGS YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" Naruto yelled so loudly his voice scattered dust, ending the particles swirling in the musty air, the walls shaking as if they, too, were pulsing in rage.

Sasuke flinched, not expecting Naruto to become so quickly agitated. "Yeah…well…I can't understand if you don't tell me!" He snapped back after fumbling for a response. Well, kill two birds with one stone, right? Obviously the matter of this Haruno Sakura chick bothered Naruto very much. Maybe that was what was holding him back? But the raven-haired had felt compelled to ask before the thought of convincing Naruto to get over himself had even registered in his brain. It disturbed the teen, but he pressed on anyway.

The rage abruptly died from Naruto's face. "I don't have to tell you anything," he mumbled, sounding much more like the annoying spirit Sasuke knew him as.

"C'mon," Sasuke insisted, setting the photos down back in there place in the trunk.

"No."

"Damnit, dobe, so you're just going to bitch at me for something I have know nothing about and run off to sulk about it?!" Sasuke shot back angrily, trying to catch the blonde's eyes. Obsidian met aqua, locked in a commanding glance; it was no longer a question, a request, more of an order that Naruto spill. The golden-haired boy barely hid a shudder, his mind racing as he desperately floundered for some excuse, any way out of the situation. The steely onyx eyes refused to allow him to break contact. Naruto swallowed and visibly sagged, drifting quietly down the stairs and perching a top a stack of boxes. "I…well…shit, there's no way out of this, is there?"

"Nope. Now tell me, dobe."

"Keep your pants on, asshole," Naruto retorted, glaring at Sasuke before his gaze shifted to the stack of photos, then sighed; his face contorting into the expression of those who had a long and sad story to tell, if only someone had an hour or two to spare. "Fine. Part of it started ever since I was born. There was a demon fox that terrorized the shinobi villages, destroying everything in its path, mercilessly killing in eternal blood lust. The damned thing kept destroying our homes year after year, time after time, and nobody could fight back, cause it was just that damn powerful. So they kept building their homes over and over, only to have them burned down or crushed.

Well, the fifth or sixth time the demon fox—the Kyuubi no Kitsune, because he had nine tails—attacked, the shinobi decided to finally fight back, or at least try to weaken the Kyuubi until the Hokage—he's the champion ninja of the village—arrived and could hopefully destroy the demon. A lot of people died, many lost family members, and all of that jazz… as strong as the Hokage was, he couldn't defeat the Kyuubi. Instead, he decided to seal the demon away, since he knew it was senseless to fight a losing battle." Naruto trailed off, his voice becoming more bitter with every word.

"A regular seal wasn't enough, so they had to resort to containing the demon fox within a living vessel. Guess who they chose," he laughed hollowly, his voice ringing in the tiny basement.

Sasuke's eyes widened slightly at what Naruto implied. Well, that explained the three whiskers that marked either side of his face. "You mean…?" He started incredulously.

Naruto nodded, cutting him off. "Yup. That's me. So they sealed the Kyuubi in me, made a law that nobody was supposed to know about it, then went and died. Even if they weren't allowed to tell me that the Kyuubi existed in me, that didn't stop the bastards from picking on me since I was kid. I found out after Mizuki—fucking ass of a teacher—'accidentally' let it slip.

So then I figured out why everybody hated me, even though I didn't do anything to them. I got depressed for a bit… And Sakura noticed. She was the smartest girl, top student in the ninja academy, was assigned to be on my team, I had a crush on her for a long time, and she hated me. Still, she couldn't let one of her teammates fuck up any of their missions just because of some petty feelings, so she came over to see what the hell was wrong with me. I ended up telling her everything.

I knew it was probably just pity then… But I made myself pretend she liked me too. We got pretty close and started going out… She made happy. Really happy."

"And?"

"And then the fucking Kyuubi decided to screw up my life more then it did already." Naruto shook his head, anger burning in his cerulean, shifting in a complex web of the emotional overload the dead teen's tale obviously spun. "One night… A team of missing-nins, or traitors to the village, launched an attack. Sakura was in danger, so the first thing I did was to go protect her. The missing-nins were too much for a couple of kids—" The blonde scowled, "—and we got badly wounded. The kyuubi took advantage of the weak hold I had on it and…well, it came out, fully possessed my body, and proceeded to kill everything in a five mile radius, including the entire village. The last one left was Sakura… And even though she probably knew it was the Kyuubi, I guess grief took over the chick and she got really angry. She tried to kill the kyuubi… and in the end, she died too."

››››› "Please don't take my sunshine away"…?‹‹‹‹‹

The blonde's eyes were slitted, a deep, crimson-red, the whiskers on his face more pronounced, a pair of ears poking out his hair along with a tail, his nails elongated into sharp claws. He stood in front of her, her slaughtered family, surrounded by dancing flames that cast razor-edged shadows everywhere, and Sakura felt her breath hitch as she cradled the head of her older sister.

"S…Sa..kur…a?"

"Sssh… I'm here, I'm here," The pink-haired kunoichi whispered, hugging her sister tightly. "It's…it's gonna be alright. I promise, Arashi!"

The girl in her arms was too weak to move, her blood staining Sakura's dress, the warm fluid seeping through the fabric and feeling icy cold at the same time. "H…how many times have I told you, Sakura?" She whispered, eyelids slowly drifting shut over her emerald-green eyes. "Don't…make promises…you…can't…keep…" The older girl's head rolled back as her chest ceased to stop moving, her body shutting down for the final time.

"Arashi? ARASHI?!" Tears flowed openly down her cheeks, streaming in crystal rivulets. "No…damnit…Arashi! Open your eyes!"

"She's gone," The kyuubi hissed, a feral grin lighting Naruto's face. It crouched , tail lashing the ground, fire raging around them; screams echoed in the ruins of the once peaceful Konoha, whispers fading into the night.

"No…no…" Sakura released Arashi's body, sliding back, her gaze shifting from her sister's face to Naruto-turned-Kyuubi. Hatred flared into the mint-green orbs as she wrenched a kunai from her holster, stumbling to her feet, trembling in rage. "I…I'm gonna kill you!" She screamed angrily, her hair pale in the firelight, sticking to her face in clumps as she cried. "You killed them! Killed them all!"

And Naruto could do nothing but watch helplessly from the back of his mind, watch through the Kyuubi's eyes as it leapt forward on its latest victim. Sakura couldn't possibly keep up with the sheer speed and power the Kyuubi exhibited. With a ululating howl, the fox demon knocked aside the girl's weapon, pinning her to the ground, claws poised over her heart. "Say good bye."

Sakura squeezed her eyes shut, willing with all of her heart for this to just be some horrible dream. But there was no such relief, and her eyes slowly opened to those fiery blood-red eyes, once a beautiful shade of sky-blue that had called to her heart, a shade of ocean sapphire filled with sorrow that touched her soul. But it was gone, gone, gone, replaced by those horrible cat-like orbs, snarling down at her. She wondered how Naruto could have lost control—wondered how she had fallen in love with Naruto at all. It was his fault! All of this was his god damned fault!

"I…I hate you, Naruto!" She cried, instantly choking on her words as the Kyuubi's talons dug into her chest, cruelly ripping into flesh, clawing about in search of her heart. The girl died in that instant, eyes glazing over, forever caught in that haunting, hateful gaze…

››››› I would so wholeheartedly agree‹‹‹‹‹

"…That's not it, is it?" Sasuke asked quietly.

"No." Naruto replied curtly, running a hand through his golden spikes, letting out a resigned sigh. "And…she told me she hated me." Naruto didn't voice the next section; he woke up the morning, fully in control of his body, after fighting at the Kyuubi's control for hours on end and finally gnawing away at it's chakra to the point the fox-spirit was forced to retreat. It was then Naruto finally got the picture of how much carnage the Kyuubi had caused, how destruction had raged through the village and surrounding forest. And worst of all, there was still Sakura's corpse, heart torn out, eyes forever locked in that gaze…

The Village of Leaves had been almost entirely destroyed. All of the people's remaining possessions were moved into one wealthy ninja's home, who had managed to flee in time, placing all of their objects in his basement as they waited for their owner's relatives or maybe acquaintances to come and retrieve them. The few survivors had been forced to leave the ruins of Konoha, moving away, leaving behind the mansion and the history of the village, locked away underground.

…But not before Naruto snuck in. Not before the blonde crept down in the cellar, searched for his discarded weapons, death of his beloved still fresh in his mind—not before the golden-haired teen found an ebony kunai and slammed it into his heart.

The legend of the Kyuubi faded with time, and as it no longer had a host's life energy to feed off, the Kyuubi died with him. Konoha disappeared as well, before someone returned and built New Konoha into the city it was today. But they never touched the mansion, never touched the home of a lost ghost and the story he carried with him.

"That's it?" Sasuke's voice rammed into his thoughts.

"What'dya mean, 'that's it'?!" Naruto exploded, throwing his arm down and balling his hand into fists, glaring at Sasuke once again. He would've expected the raven-haired teen to be just a tad more sympathetic, or at least a little more god damn sensitive! Couldn't he tell this was obviously a touchy subject for the ghost boy?

Sasuke shrugged, scooting back a bit to slam the lid of the trunk shut, pausing to clamp down the rusty locks. "I mean… So she said she hated you. Get over yourself…It's not that god damn big of a deal if you think about it." Okay, so that was harsh, but Sasuke had never really understood what was so damn special about "falling in love" and all that shit. Yeah, feel good for a couple hours, get dumped and resort to either drinking and cutting, intent on the belief that nobody could possibly understand your pain and agony, or spend the rest of your life slowly wasting away, bumbling about in your pathetic stupor, never forgiving yourself for causing your so-called lover problems.

Summed up; love made you weak. And Sasuke hated being weak more then anything else…well, second thing he hated more then anything else. There was that bastard of an older brot—

"What do you know?" Naruto answered bitterly, cutting into his thoughts as he crossed his arms. "She was the only person in the whole fucking village that wouldn't turn away as soon as I stepped in the god damned room! I really loved her, okay?! She was really…special…and she…" he trailed off, furiously attempting to restrain the tears beginning to pool in his cerulean eyes.

The raven-haired teen rotated his body, one arm resting on the trunk as he gazed up at Naruto. "So you're telling me she scarred you for life or some shit like that, right?" He answered, internally wincing. "You're right. I don't know anything. But if this Haruno girl loved you and you loved her, she would have understood that it wasn't you that killed her family or the village, right? So from what you've told me, I don't know much, but I don't think much of this Sakura either."

Naruto discovered that, for the first time in his life, he was rendered completely speechless.

He couldn't do anything but stare at Sasuke in disbelief, who gazed back at him levelly with those obsidian orbs. Naruto jerked away, shaking again in spite of himself. Every word was the honest truth, and it dawned on him that all his life, all he wanted was this kind of blatant truth, instead of the 'white lies' and deceit and utter fake-ness his previous life had thrown at him because of the secret of the Kyuubi. But years of deep love for Sakura and the weak affection she returned to him, despite the misgivings of everyone around them, had earned his respect, even if he had long since forgotten the love he originally felt for the pink-haired girl.

"Don't…don't talk about Sakura that way…" He whispered weakly.

Silence. And… "The truth is better, even if it's harsh, then some stupid lie. No sense in sugar coating things…because sooner or later, you can't pretend anymore."

A sick feeling rose in Naruto's stomach, his eyes growing distant as Sasuke's words, riddled with a bitterness he failed to notice, sang over and over in his mind like some twisted psychotic mantra…

Sooner or later, you can't pretend anymore.

Sooner or later you c a n ' t pretend a n y m o r e

Oh, but how he wanted to.

Suddenly he inexplicably hated the raven-haired boy, hated him for shocking him out of the sweet nightmare he had been living; loathed him for bringing him back to reality, despised the teen simply because of the salt stinging in old scarred wounds, brought freshly back to his mind, all because of the honest truth he couldn't possibly handle.

He was shaking.

"S…SHUT UP! I HATE YOU, SASUKE!"

The silence was heavy, thick, suffocating. Sasuke's shocked expression hardened in an instant, his eyes turning to icy obsidian chips. Naruto wheeled around and fled the basement, disappearing through the wall and soaring up to the attic in the mansion, which had become his sort of 'room', his haven whenever he wanted to be truly alone in utter silence. He discovered, floating there, that for the first time in years, it wasn't only Sakura's angry green eyes that haunted his vision, but another pair as dark, as black, as night…

Those obsidian shards stared at him from every shadowed corner.

Downstairs, Sasuke shook his head, hauling himself to his feet and dusting off his jeans, steeling his mind against Naruto's parting words. He had been awfully harsh…but that was the only way to knock someone out of their stupid self-pity, right?

Right.

Then why, the ebony-haired teen asked himself as he ascended the wooden basement steps and then the iron-railed stairs, trekking towards his bed in what he knew would be a sleepless night, did he feel so god damn guilty?

››››› If only your smile wasn't so fake‹‹‹‹‹

His eyes slid over neat rows of printed text, word after word after word, marching in straight lines across the page, broken here and there by a picture or a diagram. But try as he might to focus on the page, the mesmerizing effect the lines usually had on him simply wouldn't take over. Sasuke sighed in frustration, brushing raven bangs away from his eyes. Today simply was not god damn working for the teen, and he desperately needed all the studying he could get. Well, not really, and though Sasuke himself would never admit it, his subconscious had the I-will-get-an-A-or-die-trying mentality. So, he studied a lot, did well in school, and attracted the attention of his teachers and quite a few girls.

He had gotten so good at ignoring people in general he could open a book and lose himself in it in a matter of seconds. But today, no amount of studying could be accomplished, simply because his mind was somewhere else.

"S-Shut up! I HATE YOU, SASUKE!"

For the third time that morning, the desk happily greeted its new best friend, that being Sasuke's forehead, as he whacked his head into the wooden surface repeatedly. He had no freakin' clue why the hell he was dwelling on the dobe's words. If anyone else had told them they hated him (a lot of people actually did, mostly jealous boys and angry boyfriends; even a couple of girlfriends), he would've just brushed it off with the blink of an eye and a cold glare that could scare anyone shitless. But this was Naruto, not some nameless stranger he couldn't remember.

And that made all the difference.

Sasuke sighed and stared absently at the untouched sheet of paper that sat in front of him, his pencil finding its way to the surface, making a few experimental strokes. From those a web of sleek silver lines grew as Sasuke sketched away, suddenly absorbed in this sudden artistic bout; surprised at himself for doodling so mindlessly, even more surprised at the subject of said doodle.

The dulled pencil tip traced the curve of Naruto's cheek, pausing before slashing on the whisker scars. He drew his golden-yellow hair dipping into his closed eyes, covering his forehead in shadows, the rest of the spikes slightly more tamed then their usual wildness; every crease and rustle in his garish clothing with precision only an professional could do. The form of the ghost boy, sound asleep, took shape on the paper, his normally excited face calmed and serene, as the raven-haired teen added some heavy shading and few highlights to give it the pretense of night. Sasuke suddenly snapped out of his stupor, blinking with confusion at the drawing that laid in front of him.

What the hell was wrong with him?

Sasuke wasn't sure he knew himself anymore. That alone scared the teen more then he was willing to admit. He picked up his eraser, ready the wipe away the image, if there hadn't been…

"Oi, Sasuke?"

Sasuke jumped and hastily hid the sketch in his history book, slamming the cover shut and whirling around in his chair as Naruto emerged from the wall behind him, looking thoroughly embarrassed and sounding lot more quiet then from his usual "Hey! Uchiha-bastard!" greeting.

"Err…what?"

Naruto scratched his head, eyes avoiding Sasuke's, before he sat cross-legged on his bed and sighed. "Umm…I kinda wanted to…uh…apologize."

The world was coming to an end!

Sasuke arched one charcoal eyebrow, arm coming up to rest on the top of his chair. Naruto? Apologize? In all the time he'd known the ghost (which wasn't long, truthfully) he had never heard Naruto utter anything close to a 'apology', and looked about as sorry as the damned cat that ate the whole fucking pet store. It was one of those 'what the fuck?' moments, in which silence weighed heavily upon the occupants of the room, before Sasuke prompted, "Go on…"

"Um, yeah. I'm sorry for, like, blowing up on you…" Naruto mumbled, his eyes finally meeting Sasuke's. "…and yelling at you…and…umm…" And then his wonderful attention-span-of-a-goldfish-memory gave out. Brilliant timing, no?

"Accepted." Sasuke waved a hand absently as he turned back to his desk, though besides picking up his pencil he made no other move to actually work. The sketch remained trapped in the pages of the history textbook, and he knew Naruto would pester him to death if he found out he drew him. Annoyance was the last thing Sasuke needed, on top of the fact he couldn't really explain why he drew Naruto in the first place.

Naruto stared at his back for a moment in utter disbelief, before his usual grin made itself at home on his face. "Hey, Sasuke?"

"What?"

"You never told me about you." Naruto floated on over to Sasuke's desk, a bit disappointed the teen had nothing besides a pile of books placed on its surface, as he had no particular interest in snooping through some stupid old book (which he probably couldn't read anyway).

Sasuke twitched. Good ol' Naruto was back. "No."

"C'mon, I spilled my damn guts to you!" Naruto whined, 'sitting' on the edge of the desk and pouting.

"No." Sasuke rolled his eyes and pulled a folder towards himself, flipping through a few of the papers stuck inside before studying one thoughtfully. Write a paper on the beginnings of your home town or city. Include details about life from that age, political, social, and economical aspects, and provide a detailed analysis of how the society may have had an impact on life today. Damn history essays to hell. Then something clicked in Sasuke's brain… "Hey, Naruto…"

"Whaaaat?" Naruto looked up from picking through Sasuke's bookshelf, searching for something of interest.

"What was Old Konoha like?"

"Old Konoha?" Naruto frowned, his face scrunched up in thought for a moment before he snapped his fingers. "Oh! You mean my village! It was—wait a sec, how come you get to ask me questions but I can't ask you?"

Score for Naruto for questions he really didn't want to answer. "Why the hell d'ya wanna know about my past anyway?" He asked irritably, glaring at the spirit.

Naruto shrugged. "Dunno. You know all about me, I don't know anything about you." Sasuke interested Naruto, especially after the escapade in the basement. The raven-haired teen aroused his curiosity, though Naruto didn't really know why he wanted to know everything he could about him. And it's not god damn fair he can weasel my frickin' past out but I can't ask about his! The ghost-boy mentally added, if only to justify the fact he didn't have a reason.

Naruto is not alone, though. Everybody's curious about the Uchiha.

And yet, very little is known about the Uchiha family. All people do know from their two sons is that they're stoic, almost criminally pretty boys, and they have this freaky technique of making their eyes turn red.

"What if I don't want to tell you anything?"

"Then I'll make your life living hell!" Naruto responded quite happily, an almost maniacal glint lighting his sky-blue eyes.

Sasuke suppressed a shudder, sighing in irritation as he focused on death-glaring Naruto. The evil eye had no effect on the bouncy ghost (Sasuke glared, he grinned, and the drama was lost), and he soon gave up. "If it'll make you go away, fine. What do you want to know?"

"Ha-HAH! The ice prince melts!" Naruto snickered as Sasuke's hands twitched in longing to wrap themselves around Naruto's neck, had he one. Naruto never failed to be able to piss him off to no ends like no one else could. "Right-o. So…why are you living alone, not counting my endearing presence?"

"I study better alone." Twitch.

"Okay, so…what, are you an only child?"

"No." Naruto blinked as Sasuke ground out the word angrily, the pencil held in his shaking hand jerking across the desk's smooth surface and leaving a shallow dent in its wake. Judging by that reaction, the next question would be a really stupid maneuver, but…well, fuck that. Naruto was about as good with tact as an freakin' bull in a china shop or whatever the damn quote was.

"Brother?"

"Not talking." Sasuke clamped his mouth shut, attempting to calm his furious shaking as his eyes trained to the jagged lines he was creating, then lifted the pencil away and tried to keep himself from hurling it into the wall. Families were not good subjects to speak of in front of Uchiha Sasuke, particularly brothers. He couldn't blame Naruto—well, he could, actually—for being curious, but he swore if he asked any more…

"Why not—argh!"

The pencil in Sasuke's grip snapped in half with such violence the top half went flying (through Naruto, who squawked), wooden splinters spilled on the desk, and crushed shards of led dug into the raven-haired teen's palm. "I said, I don't want to talk about it," he hissed, voice riddled with venom. Sasuke dumped the remains of the writing utensil in the gray trashcan that stood by his desk, eyes so narrowed in anger he could hardly see through the obsidian orbs.

He had forced himself not to think of that fucking bastard Uchiha Itachi. The teen had suffered years trying to wipe his elder brother from his mind, and having finally succeeded, would prefer to keep it that way—forcefully forgotten. But it didn't stop the occasional nightmares, and sometimes Sasuke would still wake up in the middle of the night, tangled in his sheets; soaked with cold sweat, wondering just what the fuck he was doing still living and having to put up with it all, face streaked with trails of tears.

Those were the times he hated himself the most.

Naruto's own baby blue eyes narrowed as he accepted the unspoken challenge. "And I do," the ghost answered, using his very best commanding tone.

Sasuke seethed, glaring dangerously at the ghost boy. "Well, tough luck," he snarled at Naruto, who, for a moment, looked briefly shocked at the poison in his tone. "I've never told anyone before, so what makes you think I want to spout all my emotional problems to some stupid, annoying ghost?!"

No answer. And…

Cerulean narrows slightly, and the ghost of a smile slips onto the translucent teen's face. "Well, despite the fact you were a demanding bastard at the time, I felt like I could tell you about Sakura…" He trailed off, though his gaze never wavered; "…Don't you feel the same?"

"No."

"Liar." Naruto stuck his tongue out in a half-hearted attempt to lighten the atmosphere, then stopped as Sasuke cranked up another notch on the death glare.

Though, unfortunately for the raven-haired teen, whether he was willing to admit it or not, Naruto was quite correct. Wasn't that the reason he hadn't asked Iruka and Kakashi to forcefully get rid of Naruto then? He'd never let anyone get this close to him before—no one. And he had felt guilty after Naruto had fled the basement—and Uchiha Sasuke never felt god damned guilty! Sasuke sighed in irritation and silently fumed, before grinding out through his teeth; "Fine. I had a brother."

"Thanks, Captain Obvious."

Glare. "Who wanted to know about my fucking family?"

Naruto—0

Sasuke—2

Sasuke rolled his eyes as Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head. "Like I said…" The onyx-eyed teen muttered lowly, "I had a brother. His name is—was—Itachi."

Naruto noted the was; that meant either this Itachi dude was dead or had mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth. While he found the speculating the second option far more amusing, Naruto nodded for the other boy to continue.

"So. That bastard…was a genius. Straight A's in school, had girls falling all over him, student body president, star of the soccer team and Martial Arts club; generally, everybody thought he was god damned perfect."

"Oh, so I'm guessing you were always the inferior little brother and everybody looked down on you with something like 'Why can't you be like Itachi?'? Hey, there was that one dude I met who, like, got nailed in the head with a kunai cause he wasn't as good as—"

"Shut up, Naruto," Sasuke half-shouted in exasperation as the spirit began rambling, "Or you can get your ass out of here, because if I remember correctly, dobe, you're the one that wanted the stupid story in the first place!" He nearly smirked at Naruto's sullen expression as the foxy teen fell silent, if the gravity of the situation didn't feel like it was weighing down his entire body. He wondered what the hell he was doing; he never shared Itachi's secret, because it had been a promise between two brothers before the younger was betrayed. Maybe that was why he hated Itachi so much—he couldn't bring himself to truly, truly hate the bastard he once dearly loved. And if he tried to forget, the weight of that secret left a scar in his heart. "Anyway… Then some twisted jack ass named Orochimaru got involved, and Itachi fell in with the bad crowd."

"Eh?"

"Drugs, alcohol, and all that other wonderful junk. Itachi kept it a secret from Mom and Dad, because they'd be absolutely furious if they found out their perfect son," Sasuke bit the comment out scathingly, an almost disgusted expression twisting his pale face, "…was hanging around in a mob of failures. Itachi, for once, was an idiot, and came home with a buddy or two of his, since they were high in the sky—they didn't get caught, but I saw them. Itachi made me promise not to tell.

That didn't matter though, cause Mom found out when one of the dip shits left a heroin needle in Itachi's room. They started fighting and went on railing at each other for three freakin' hours. They went on about how awful drugs were, and how dare he keep secrets from him, and the horrible friends he was making—and Itachi snapped. He got sick of being the perfect child and yelled something about wanting his freedom—which only led them to try to ban Itachi from setting foot outside school or home without their permission first… That really got Itachi…" Sasuke's face grew dark with an angry scowl, and though his heart squeezed painfully, he chuckled hollowly. "...he killed them."

"W—what?" The spirit's eyes grew distant for a moment; he heard something along the lines of this before. A friend he had as a child, a introspective, quiet little boy (trust Naruto's memory to not be able to remember his name), whose parents refused to trust him with anything, and all their faith lay in their older brother. After a raging fit, the elder of the two disowned himself from their family, and the kid's parents took all their fury out on the kid. After that, he turned into a nervous wreck that continuously cried at the slightest mention of his elder brother or the responsibility he was supposed to be shouldering.

Now, he heard that story a thousand times, and it didn't bother that much—he hadn't really known the boy—but what deeply disturbed Naruto was the fact Sasuke could more or less rattle off the same tale, and laugh. Fucking laugh.

He had parents, didn't he? Naruto had never had anyone who cared for him. He simply couldn't understand how anyone could be so uncaring.

And—and—he said he never told anyone before. So now, as the normally hyperactive spirit stared dully into Sasuke's onyx eyes, he wondered—Doesn't he know jack shit about families? You're not supposed to be god damn laughing, you asshole! Don't they mean more then that to you?!

"So there. You heard it. Now get out." Against his will, his voice trembled with the last couple of words, and he felt close to ramming his head into the poor, unsuspecting desk yet again. That sounded pathetic, and the last thing Sasuke needed was for Naruto to use this against him. He wouldn't do that, his own sense whispered to him. But—but—god damn! He was Naruto! Stupid, annoying, naive, Naruto—and—and—god damnit, why couldn't he force himself to hate the dobe? He had trusted Itachi with everything, had always run to his big, strong older brother when he was upset. And Itachi was always there, calm, quiet, and supportive. And then the it's off to go slaughter the family, shall we? Irony laughed cruelly in the ebony-haired teen's mind.

The last person he trusted destroyed something precious to him.

He told himself, day after day, year after year, trust was something useless.

So why did he, against every god damned fiber of his being, feel like he could trust Naruto?

"No, thanks."

"Then at least be quiet, dobe. I'm trying to study." The relief Sasuke felt at finally leaving the bitter subject wasn't voiced; only his normal indifferent tone that managed to piss Naruto off and sooth his qualms about Sasuke's sanity.

"But that'd be against the code of conduct," Naruto whined and promptly turned to prod at Sasuke's history book if it were possible. "By the way, I saw you slam your book shut or something…you're hiding something, huh?!"

Twitch. "No."

A teasing grin lighted his face now. "Aww, c'mon, lemme just take a peek?"

"No." He answered even more vehemently then before.

"Too late." The cover of his history book glowed the sky-blue hue of Naruto's eyes as the ghost boy focused his on the book's spirit energy, the cover dangerously wobbling before flying open and pages shooting after it.

Sasuke's eyes widened, and before he even thought about it his hand shot out and wrenched the cover shut, slamming the text book closed with such force he nearly dented it. At the same time, the aura the book gave off abruptly vanished and Naruto let out a howl of pain.

"God—damnit—don't do that!"

"Huh?" Sasuke blinked.

Naruto furiously massaged his temples, glaring at Sasuke balefully. "Y'know, for me to move things in the real world takes a lot of energy. For something with a little bit of spirit energy, like a book, I have to put in a piece of my own energy to make it move. And when you fucking slam your fist into it—" He gestured with one limp hand to Sasuke's arm, which rested on the unfortunate hard cover, "It feels like I just got bricked in the frickin' forehead."

Sasuke snickered and Naruto glared at him. "Shit happens."

"Bastard."

"Thanks."

››››› I would ask you to be my sunshine‹‹‹‹‹

Hours later found a rather sleepy Sasuke leaning back in his chair, yawning as he slipped his essay away into his notes. After he laughed at Naruto's expense for a good three minutes, he roped the spirit into practically doing his essay for him by providing all the answers. It still took time to write the paper, and though it was a lot less stressful then before, he was still tired from the day's events. The raven-haired boy slid from his chair to plop on his bed and roll to his side, breathing the soapy scent of the detergent the sheets had been recently washed in.

So warm. So comfortable. The world grew hazy and he yawned again, now not even bothering to think; nothing else mattered, except the soft, comfortable sheets…

"Oi, done, 'suke?"

"Shut up," Sasuke muttered, cracking open one eye to stare at Naruto, who floated over him far closer then he would've liked. "Gaara was high, the idiot makes no sense when he drinks... Hnn…" He rolled over, stuffing his face in his pillow.

"You're going to suffocate if you do that, 'suke," Naruto cheerfully added, completely disregarding the teen's words. Sasuke half-heartedly glared at Naruto; he just couldn't sum up the energy to argue with him right now, though he briefly wondered what would happen if he tried to throw a pillow at him.

"Hnn."

"Is that all you can say?"

"…"

Naruto rolled his eyes, then turned to go through the wall and wreck havoc in the kitchen, maybe bang a few pots and pans together. Sasuke wasn't doing anything interesting now, which meant something like he wasn't doing anything that Naruto could jump in and ruin. The ghost floated away from the bed, when—

"…Don't go…" His voice was slightly slurred, quiet, sounding almost dreamy, clearly indicating that Sasuke was half-asleep.

Naruto blinked and turned around. "Uh…okay…" The orange-clad spirit floated on back, propping himself on the corner of Sasuke's desk, feet resting on the foot board. "Why?"

Sasuke blinked sleepily, too lazy to find an answer somewhere in his hazy brain even if there had been one.

"…I don't know."

Naruto blinked again but remained silent as Sasuke promptly fell asleep. He had no doubts that, next morning, if he used this situation against the older teen, he'd deny all of it, but… It was good enough for him right now. He snickered at how the stoic teen would react if he recounted how perfectly innocent and angelic he looked when he was sleeping. His raven bangs fringed his face, dark lashes fluttering close, ebony spikes pooling behind his head; the normally indifferent or strained expression smoothed out, Sasuke's almost vampire-pale skin looking so soft, so smooth

…What the crap was he thinking?

Naruto hurriedly looked away, before remembering his earlier mission: find whatever Sasuke was hiding. With a barely suppressed snicker of glee, he rolled over to the history book and concentrated on the pages again. This time, unhindered, the leaves flew open and stopped to where a sheet of notebook paper was hastily folded and shoved inside. Naruto forced the paper to leap out of the book and unfold itself, the creases smoothing out and flattening themselves to reveal—

Him?

Naruto stared at his discovery, the back of his mind noting that Sasuke was, indeed, a very good artist. The image of the fox-carrying spirit was accurate right down to the whisker marks and looked incredibly realistic. The pencil he had drawn with was apparently dulled with a reason, the granite tip splaying out lines in a smooth, almost fading manner, which mirrored his ghost-properties very well. What intrigued him was that Sasuke hadn't even drawn him with the huge grin he normally wore, whether or not he felt it—like Sasuke could see straight through him. And no, not in a god damned literal sense.

He didn't know how long he stared at the image, but…

…it stirred something in his heart.

››››› In a sea of monochromatic days ‹‹‹‹‹

The wind raced through the open windows to the room, causing the curtains to flap in the breeze. A few pages of the textbook flipped as the gentle wind softened even more and came to rest with the raven-haired teen who lay, still fast asleep, in the twilight. It doubled back to the table, stopping to examine a piece of notebook paper it had caused to flap up before fading away.

The image wasn't alone anymore.

Besides the sleeping Naruto, a new person had been drawn in; very carefully, in sharp but smooth lines, one Uchiha Sasuke sat there besides Naruto in the picture, drawn in proud, bold lines. Sasuke sat with his back leaned against a wall, supporting himself, though he'd been drawn in besides the fox spirit so that the blonde's head barely touched his shoulder. The lines were the tiniest bit shaky, the shading not as fine nor the details as accurate, but it showed a few hours of work someone had taken to painstakingly lift a pencil and trace it to the paper.

Though the sky was vivid with pinkish-gold and blood red hues, around that faded sketch the world's harsh colors seemed to drain into shades of gray. For that moment in time, as one teen remained slumbering soundly for the first time in his life, and a ghost sat in his attic feeling happier then he had been when he still was alive, reality wasn't quite so harsh, and the truth lay there in plain black and white.

››››› If only your smile wasn't colorless… ‹‹‹‹‹

A/N: And that brings Act 2 to a close. It's so tempting to end the whole story right there, but that would throw off the other lovely ending I had in mind... Anyway…I hope that was still satisfactory. Tried to dump in a tiny bit o' fluff...Hnn.

Sinful also apologizes for that—what, two weeks?—it took her to finally write Act 2. So—REVIEW TIME! Rejoice!

feathergurl—Hey Morgan! I'm glad you like it…sorry it took so long? xD

Zoey Lives—Yup, tension, because everybody loves weak cliff hangers! –shot- Anyway, thank. .

Closet-Monsters—Haha, closet monsters. X3 I get what you're saying, I rather dislike it when people write AU that are totally out of characters…thanks for the review!

bishihuntress –Thanks for the link and the review, twas fun reading all that lovely doujinshi.

Silent Lucidity—Thank you. D

ririka—That was the idea. xD My friend and I even made up a song to go with it—"No noodles for Naruto!"—Then our science teacher looked at us like we were insane…Which is quite possible. Thanks.

Bishiehuggler –Yeah, doesn't paranormal stuff rock? Thanks for the review.

inu-chan 613—Heh, unfortunately there's going to be quite a bit less fighting from here…but I'm glad you enjoyed the first chapter.

Mister Pineapple—The idea of the ghost thing isn't quite so original, but your review still makes me feel all warm and fluffy. x3 Sankyuu!

HikariChang—xD. Thanks for your review(s).

daflippnay—Gaara makes me laugh. Funky gourd thingy on his back. 3

Ravyn-09—Hope you liked this chapter, it was more angsty then I would've liked, but…hnn. Thank you!

min-chan—Here's your update? xD;;; Thanks muchly!

Teki Star—Sankyuu!

Yuen-chan—-cowers- Don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. xD

KageKitsune16—Thanks for the kind words. On a side note, I love your fanfiction too.

Cknoakira—Thank you

Hieisbestbuddy888—Thank you. I'll try and do my best!

Fuzzy Eyebrows—Thank you! I love writing AU fics…It doesn't seem like a lot of people do for the Naruto fandom, or I'm just blind. Hah.

Jiro—Thanks, sorry I wasn't quicker. .; At any rate, I love your fanfics as well, and I feel kinda honored to be reviewed. xD

Chaotic Demon—Yeee-up. As said, Gaara makes me laugh. xD

Meow—You sound just like me. O-o Hi, long-lost-twin-sister? xD Thanks for the review and…enjoy your chocolate?

eyes0nme19—Thank you!

hogo-chan—Aww, thanks. Sorry I wasn't faster.

Sweetnlilly –Hey Lily! I didn't you wrote either…o-O G'luck with all your fics, n' thanks.

Someone—Hah. So the secret of Haruno Sakura has been revealed! Thanks for the review.

flare2—Thank you!

Phew. N' that's all.

Anyway… another decently long chapter, I guess, has quite a bit of action too… So that's all have to say, folks. You can check my profile to status updates on the next chapter, and sooner or later I'll add a snippet of Act 3. Leave a comment or two and thanks for you time!

-Sinful Serenity

Have you heard that melody

"Please don't take my sunshine away"…?

I would so wholeheartedly agree

If only your smile wasn't so fake.

I would ask you to be my sunshine

In a sea of monochromatic days

If only your smile wasn't colorless…

. BLACK . AND . WHITE . SMILE .