Author's note: So much inspiration these days, so little time...


Sasuke should've just stayed in bed.

The morning was quickly rolling downhill. First, his alarm went off an hour late because he'd forgotten to set it, then he'd knocked the damn thing off its ledge before he could shut it off, and then he'd had to climb down out of bed and root around on the floor to find it. He finally managed to move his desk, reach the alarm and shut the damn thing off, but not without ramming his head on the underside of the furniture when straightening up.

Muttering curses under his breath, Sasuke threw on some clothes (black shirt, black pants. It suited his mood) and gathered his books. He made it about halfway down the hall before realizing that he left his homework. After the second trip, he managed to make it outside...

...And it was pouring rain. Hooray.

It was with a black scowl on his face that a sopping wet Sasuke finally blew into his 9 AM class with about three seconds to spare. Readjusting his books under his arm (which, thankfully, had fit under his jacket, so they weren't soaked through), Sasuke swiped at his hair and glanced around.

"Oi! Sasuke-teme!"

Shoulders tensing at the obnoxious shout, Sasuke turned and glared irritably at the blonde waving enthusiastically. Trust that idiot to insult him with a smile on his face. Glowering, Sasuke made his way to the third row of stadium style seats in the lecture hall, slogged his way down the row, and tossed his books down on the table before him.

Naruto glanced at Sasuke's condition and snickered. "What happened to you? Get caught in a tidal wave?"

"Shut it," Sasuke replied irritably. Seating himself next to the tall blonde, Sasuke sent a glare in the boy's direction. "Do you have to shout my name like that every morning?"

Grinning, Naruto lifted a hand and ruffled Sasuke's wet hair. He was unperturbed when his hand was slapped away.

"It's the face you make, man! It's like you don't know whether to strangle me or wave back." He chuckled, giving Sasuke a fox grin. "It's part of the reason I always embarrass you from a distance. Gives you fewer options."

Sasuke sent him an icy look, but he said nothing. Folding his arms on the table, he glared at the front of the room. The teacher's late. It figures...I rushed all this way for nothing.

"...Bad morning?"

Sasuke glanced at him and lifted a brow. Smirking, Naruto leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs out before him.

"You always have this black cloud of doom hovering over you when you're having a rough morning." He glanced to his other side. "Maybe you should sit further away. I don't want to get hit with a lightning bolt."

"Ha. Ha." Sasuke continued drilling holes in the blackboard with his gaze. Where the hell was the professor?

Amused with Sasuke's attitude, Naruto lightly smacked the Uchiha's shoulder with the back of his hand.

"So? Didja do the homework?"

Sasuke simply gave him a dry look.

"Oh yeah, I forgot. His Highness Prince Perfect always does the homework." Naruto sniggered as Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "Can I see it? I want to check my answers."

Grudgingly, Sasuke pulled the sheet out of his notebook and handed it over. Naruto snatched it out of his hands with a flair, pulled out a second sheet of paper, and began scribbling faster than Sasuke would have given him credit for.

Hey! Wait a minute!

"Dammit, Naruto, I didn't say you could copy it!" Scowling, Sasuke swiped the sheet out of the blonde's grip. The fact that Naruto simply leaned back, smiled sheepishly and ran a hand through his unruly hair didn't improve Sasuke's mood. "Do your own damn homework!"

"But you're smarter than me!" Naruto whined. Clasping both hands in front of him, Naruto gave Sasuke his best beaten-puppy look, which probably would have had more effect if he were a foot shorter and had about 50 less pounds of muscle. "Pwease, Sasuke-kun?"


Naruto started sniffling pathetically.

"I said NO."

Sighing, Naruto slumped in his chair and crossed his arms over his broad chest. "You're no fun, Sasuke."

"You're an idiot."




Naruto grinned at the cold look he received for that one. Before Sasuke could open his mouth to retaliate, the professor finally strolled into the lecture hall. The pale boy reluctantly faced forward, feeling Naruto's triumphant grin burn into his side.

"Sorry I'm late, everyone. My boat had a leak in it this morning, and I had to patch it before coming to class." Half the class rolled their eyes at the lazily delivered comment, but the other half glanced outside. With the amount of rain coming down, his excuse wasn't entirely illogical. "Now that I'm here, you can pass your homework up."

Sasuke passed his over to the right, then turned to smirk at Naruto. The blonde blinked at him, then smiled brightly.

"Oh yeah! I completely forgot..." Opening his binder, he pulled out a sheet of paper. "I did it last night!"

...God, I hate you.

As Sasuke passed the offending paper to the side, he glowered at the grinning blonde idiot beside him. Who would've guessed that someone so abrasive and immature would end up being Sasuke's closest friend? They'd hated each other in elementary school, had developed grudging respect for each other in middle school, and after a not-so-brief falling out when they were thirteen, the two had grown almost abnormally—in Sasuke's eyes—close. Hell, they'd followed each other to college, hadn't they?

Throughout the years, it had been more "fun," as Naruto put it, to act like they hated each other more than to be friendly, but lately Naruto seemed to have dropped the habit. Instead of the glares and impromptu brawls on campus, Naruto had relaxed and settled for mildly harassing Sasuke in public. The sudden change sometimes left Sasuke at a loss...but what confused him more was how easily they'd settled into the new routine.

You'd think that two guys who hated each other's guts would...dislike each other more.

As the professor blabbered on about Early European history, which Sasuke had no interest in, Sasuke found his mind wandering. It had been easy to put Naruto out of his mind when they were enemies (or at least acting like enemies), but now that they were friendly in public, Sasuke was finding it surprisingly hard to ignore the blonde. Was it just a side-effect of actually behaving like the friends they'd probably always been? Or was it...more?

A soft thump and a sudden weight on his shoulder startled Sasuke from his thoughts. Spiky blonde hair tickled his face as he turned to give Naruto an exasperated glance.

"Oi, dobe. Get off me."

Naruto simply mumbled under his breath and shifted, pressing his face into Sasuke's neck. Sighing, the blonde seemed to fall into a deeper sleep.

A slow blush spread across Sasuke's cheeks as Naruto's warm breath ghosted over his skin. Looking away, Sasuke shifted uncomfortably. I should probably push him away, but... He stole a glance at Naruto, unconsciously taking in the taller boy's defined, toned body and handsome face—well, handsome minus that stream of drool. I swear, if that gets on my shirt...—while the blonde slept.

His heart started pounding as Naruto decided to make himself more comfortable, tossing one arm about Sasuke's waist. Embarrassed, Sasuke tried to pry Naruto's arm loose.

"I said off. Use someone else as your pillow," he hissed. Naruto didn't respond, though he absentmindedly fought Sasuke's attempts to remove him. Finally managing to remove the blonde's arm, Sasuke dropped the appendage to push the boy off him.

Entirely by accident, Naruto's hand dropped right onto Sasuke's crotch.

Jumping, Sasuke stared down at his lap for a second before flushing scarlet and violently throwing Naruto off him. Jesus...What the hell was that? Sasuke shifted away, desperately trying to will his blush away.

Startled awake by his back hitting his chair, Naruto blinked owlishly at him. He took in Sasuke's blush with confusion.

"What's the matter with you? Your face is red."

"Shut. Up."


"I SAID. Shut. UP."

"Sheesh!" Miffed, Naruto slumped into his chair. "What did I do to you, you insensitive creep?"

Sasuke decided to ignore that question.

The moment class was over, Sasuke strode out of the room and into the hallway, heedless of Naruto's calls. A frown marring his face, Sasuke tuned out the rest of the annoying public.

Why did I react to Naruto the way I did? He wasn't even awake, so it's not like he touched me...there...on purpose. Why was I so embarrassed? A worry line creased his forehead. His reaction today wasn't his only strange response to Naruto's presence. He seemed to have a habit of blushing like a schoolgirl—well, a faint hint of pink on his cheeks. He was an Uchiha, after all—whenever Naruto accidentally brushed against him or touched him. Ironically, Sasuke hadn't had a problem when they were fighting, but now...

...There must be something wrong with me, he concluded. Do I have a fever?

Before he could even consider testing this theory, a heavy arm dropped onto his shoulders. Not losing even a shred of composure, Sasuke glanced coolly at Naruto.

"Why'd you run off like that, bonehead?" Naruto glared at Sasuke. "You didn't even let me ask if you wanna work together."

Sasuke lifted an eyebrow, trying to ignore the press of Naruto's muscled arm about his shoulders. "Work together on what?"

The blonde gave him an incredulous look. "You actually weren't paying attention? That's a first." Sasuke looked away, slightly embarrassed. Like hell I'll tell him that I wasn't paying attention because I was trying to ignore him...and failing.

"Well, anyway," Naruto continued, "Dr. Hatake said that we have to break up into groups and do a report on some famous European explorer. Are we going to work together?"

Sasuke couldn't resist smirking. "Well, just because you don't have any other friends—"

Naruto whacked him upside the head. "Smartass."

"Sasuke-kun! Sasuke-kun!"

A chill raced down Sasuke's spine while Naruto calmly glanced over his shoulder. "Looks like your horde is coming."

I hadn't noticed. Sasuke grit his teeth. Being hounded by his fan club was NOT going to improve his already sour day, especially with their gleeful usage of the Japanese suffix (they had leapt on that when they found out that Sasuke was half Japanese. Naruto had decided to pick up the more "colorful" tags instead). When Naruto started to remove his arm from Sasuke's shoulder, Sasuke glared at him.

"You are not leaving me to deal with them alone."

Naruto gave him a cheeky smile. "Hey, they're your harem. Just let them service you and be on their way."

"...You have no sense of decency, do you?"

"Nope. None at all."

The hair on the back of Sasuke's neck began to tingle as he sensed the pack of females behind him. Regardless of how sweetly they may be smiling right now, he could still sense their real appearances: drooling, clawing, maniacally grinning she-demons swarming en-masse behind him. A prickle of desperation seized him.

He hated to ask for help, but a quick glance behind him showed an even larger horde than he was used to. As Naruto began to move away, Sasuke grabbed his arm and hissed in his ear.

"Get me out of this, and I'll buy you ramen."

Instantly coming to attention, Naruto turned back to Sasuke and smiled evilly. "Make it a month's worth, and you have yourself a deal."

"A month? No way in hell!"

"Ja ne! Have fun with the feeding frenzy!" Naruto started to walk off again, chants of "Sasuke-kuuuuun" floating about him.

Gritting his teeth, Sasuke tightened his grip on Naruto's arm. "A week's worth of ramen. Final offer."

Naruto thought about that for a long moment, his hand stroking his chin. Sasuke had to use almost all of his self control to keep from reaching up and strangling him. Damn you, Naruto! Just do it!

Reaching a decision, Naruto cast a sunny smile on Sasuke. "Deal!"

Just as the horde finally decided to ignore Naruto's presence and began to bombard Sasuke with coos, calls and phone numbers, Naruto turned to face them and smiled charmingly. Sasuke lifted an eyebrow.

I wonder what he's going to do to get rid of them...

"I'm sorry ladies, but Sasuke-kuuuun," he sang the suffix in a high pitch, clasping his hands together and batting his eyes, "and I have plans. You'll have to catch him later."

With that, Naruto turned and faced Sasuke, an expectant grin on his face. Sasuke stared up at him in confusion, growing uneasy as the grin grew and Naruto's eyes narrowed mischievously.

Maybe this was a bad idea...

Before he or the fan girls could question Naruto, the blonde squatted down in front of Sasuke, wrapped an arm about the boy's legs, pressed his shoulder against Sasuke's stomach...

...And hoisted him into the air.

A shocked speechless Sasuke flopped over his shoulder, Naruto turned and waved cheerfully at the crowd.

"See you later, ladies!" He winked at one shocked girl up front. "Especially you."

Leaving everyone with their jaws hanging open, Naruto walked off.

Seconds later, a familiar voice let out a very unfamiliar screech.


"Oh come on, you know you love it."


"Aw, c'mon, are you still mad at me?" Naruto, cheerfully sporting a black eye, slurped down some of his promised ramen.

Sasuke simply continued to glare daggers at him from over his folded hands.

Rolling his good eye, Naruto pointed his chopsticks at the pale boy. "Some thanks I get for saving your ass. Next time I'll just let them have their way with you."

Suppressing a shudder at the images that conjured up, Sasuke began twisting his eyeball daggers into Naruto's chest.

"Of all the ways to get us out of there, you had to choose that?"

Naruto smirked. "Well, I could've kissed you," he stated flippantly. "That would've worked just as well."

Sasuke froze, his eyes widening slightly. He could've...kissed me? His heart started pounding at the mental image. The thought of Naruto running his fingers through Sasuke's hair, fisting his hand at the nape of Sasuke's neck and just devouring the slimmer boy's mouth... Swallowing hard, Sasuke fought down a blush.

Before Sasuke could gather his composure, Naruto leaned forward and smiled mischievously.

"...Unless that's what you actually wanted, Sa-su-ke-kun..." He drawled Sasuke's name, eyes glinting dangerously.

Straightening, Sasuke repaired his Glare of Death. "Try it and I'll kill you." God, don't try it, I'm begging you. I don't have a CLUE how I'll react. Keeping a straight, icy face, Sasuke trampled down the inkling that he might know exactly what he'd do.

Laughing, Naruto leaned back in his seat. "Relax, Uchiha, I was just teasing you. It'd take something drastic for me to kiss you."


Unsure of how to react to that, Sasuke simply grunted and glanced away. He listened to Naruto smack and slurp down his noodles before glancing back at him; apparently, the blonde was completely undisturbed by the conversation and its implications. Sasuke couldn't completely fight off a small smile while watching Naruto's simple-minded enjoyment of the food. Well, he certainly has his priorities in order.

...But still. What did he mean by "drastic"?

Naruto made a sudden noise around his mouthful of food, glancing up. He started to speak incoherently, stopped, swallowed, and tried again.

"So when are we going to meet?"

Sasuke let out a soft huff of air. "Well, we could meet tomorrow at the library. I don't have any classes after noon."

"Sounds good." Taking a swig of his soda, Naruto smirked. "I don't have any classes that I care to go to after noon."

The Uchiha shook his head. "How you manage to get away with that..."

"...And still get good grades?" Grinning, he leaned back and placed his hands behind his head. "It's all about the charm."

Snorting, Sasuke leaned back in his seat as well. "I'm sure," he replied dryly. He glanced at his watch, winced, and stood, tossing some money on the table.

"I have a class in twenty minutes. Ja."

Naruto lifted a hand and waved lightly, but it wasn't until Sasuke had reached the restaurant's door that he chose to speak.

"Oi, Sasuke! Just so you know..." He smiled sweetly.

"It's always a pleasure to sweep you off your feet."

Smoke curled in the air of the dimly lit room as Sasuke busied himself with wiping a table clean. Waving irritably at a particularly large cloud of smoke as it settled about his face, Sasuke straightened and glowered around the dark room. Goths, emos and punks milled about the tables, smoking and drinking while bemoaning the sad fate of the world. One guy in black leather pants, a tattooed on shirt, and round sunglasses recited a poem on the small stage while his buddy tapped a set of bongos.

Why the hell did Sasuke choose to work at a place like this? Sighing, he moved to the next table and began to clear it, for once wishing that he had the standard black apron to cover his outfit (just because he happened to fit the café's dress code today, it didn't mean that he wanted to get crap all over his clothes). It was annoying, but he preferred to have his own money to spend rather than live off the life insurance for his parents. It seemed more respectful.

And besides, the atmosphere actually suited him.

As he finished cleaning the table, an irritating voice spoke from behind him.


Gritting his teeth, Sasuke straightened and turned.


Neji, who should have looked out of place with his white polo shirt and slacks, actually seemed to fit into the atmosphere of the café. His cold, impassive eyes latched onto Sasuke as Neji calmly slid his hands into his pockets.

Sasuke had to curb an instant belligerent reaction to the other boy as they faced each other. For some reason, the calm Hyuuga had always rubbed him the wrong way, and the feeling was apparently mutual. Sasuke couldn't be sure of the real reason behind their actions, but animosity was animosity. Live with it.

After a long, tense silence, Sasuke finally asked, "What do you want, Hyuuga?"

Neji considered Sasuke for a moment. "I hear there was a...disturbance between you and Naruto today."

Sasuke scowled. "That's none of your business."

"What was the situation, Uchiha?" he demanded softly, his voice cold. Sasuke unconsciously shifted into a fighting stance, his eyes narrowed.

"I said it's none of your business, Hyuuga." Shoulders tense, Sasuke clenched his fists. "Now get out."

Neji didn't even blink. "I consider Naruto's business my business." He paused. "Were you fighting with him?"

"What are you, his keeper?" Sasuke bit out. "Why are you always so concerned about him?"

Hyuuga didn't reply, but Sasuke could almost swear that a hint of red fleetingly touched the boy's cheeks. Neji smirked in response.

"That's none of your business."

Sasuke bristled at that. Before he could open his mouth to bite out a scathing reply, however, Neji turned.

"Be glad that he seems fond of you, Uchiha," the boy calmly tossed over his shoulder, "because the moment he isn't, you'll have much worse than a black eye to worry about."

Scowling, Sasuke clenched his fists tightly at his side and watched Neji walk off. Damn him. What right does he have to threaten me like that? Bastard!

Snatching up his washcloth, Sasuke stomped over to the next vacated table and began furiously swiping bits of food and ash from the smooth surface. As always, Neji's unconditional support of Naruto—especially when this support involved a fight with Sasuke—pissed the Uchiha off on a level he didn't care to delve into. How those two even became friends was a mystery...Naruto kicks Neji's ass once, and suddenly the pale Hyuuga is his champion for life? What the hell!

It wasn't as though Sasuke was afraid of Neji; he could easily hold his own in a fight, and he could rest secure in the knowledge that even if he lost, the Hyuuga wouldn't be in good shape either. It was just that their rivalry, which had existed since the two had first set eyes on each other, seemed to have stepped up a notch when Sasuke and Naruto had become "close," whether the two had been enemies or friends at the time.

Why did he and Neji despise each other so much?

Lost in his musings, Sasuke frowned and continued to work.

"Hey there, hot stuff! Mind getting me a drink?"

Glancing up, Sasuke saw a wiry guy with about forty piercings wink saucily at him and lick his lips. Sasuke stifled a groan—and a gag—and dredged up a small, painful smile in return.

"Right away." I hate my life.

Tired, weary, and irritated, Sasuke made his way down the hall in his dorm, ignoring cheerful voices as they streamed out of open doors. A quick glance at his watch told him that it was 7:00; his day was finally over.

With a soft sigh of relief, Sasuke pulled out his key and unlocked the door to his room. Thank God for single rooms. If I had to deal with a roommate right now, I'd probably kill him.

Stepping in, Sasuke slammed his door shut, threw the lock, and flopped gracelessly onto his couch, an arm covering his eyes. God, I'm tired...

"I could've kissed you..."

Sasuke's arm tightened over his face. Naruto's comments from earlier in the day had plagued him, and Sasuke had found himself analyzing the boy's words. No matter how he looked at it, it felt like Naruto had been...flirting with him. Was that even possible? And did Sasuke even want that?

Sighing, Sasuke lowered his arm and stared at the ceiling. With Naruto, it's too hard to tell. He makes comments like that, but the way he treats them as jokes...I can't tell if he's honestly joking or just trying to cover it up. Sasuke frowned. Which do I want it to be?

Unable to find an answer to that question, Sasuke glanced over at a picture on his desk. It was a picture of Naruto in full basketball regalia, a basketball tucked under one arm as he grinned and gave the victory sign to the camera. Sasuke remembered when he took that shot...


Dammit. He won again. Grudgingly focusing his camera, Sasuke snapped pictures of the team as the players congratulated each other, certain that the principal would have his head if these pictures didn't make it into the school newspaper. Sasuke hated school sports and would rather saw his leg off than participate in the mindless cheering that always accompanied them, but the job looked good on a resume and if he took enough good shots, he could make a portfolio.

Unfortunately, his job currently included taking special pictures of the MVP.

Schooling his face into a cold glare, he rose from his seat on the bleachers and made his way down to the court. The blonde he was unwillingly seeking was surrounded by fans, cheerfully soaking up the praise and shoulder slaps. As Naruto turned and spotted the photographer, the temperature of Sasuke's gaze dropped several degrees.

A smirk on his face, Naruto made his way over to his rival and stopped in front of him.

"I'll bet you just hate it that I made the most shots today, don't you, Uchiha?" His smirk twisted. "You have to ruin a perfectly good roll of film with shots of me."

Deigning not to answer him, Sasuke simply lifted his camera. Naruto's face immediately shifted into a smile as Sasuke's flash went off. Sasuke quelled a brief spurt of disappointment. I was hoping to get a shot of him with that glower on his face. Now THAT would be a perfect addition to the school paper.

Lowering his camera, Sasuke sent Naruto a brief nod before turning away.

"Oi, Uchiha." Naruto waited as Sasuke glanced back at him. "Take one more picture."

Sasuke lifted a brow, a cold smirk crossing his face. "That's a little conceited of you, don't you think?"

Naruto snorted. "I'm not talking about the newspaper, dumbass." He ignored the way Sasuke tensed at the insult. "I want you to take a shot for yourself."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "What on earth makes you think I want one?"

"Just do it." Naruto waited as Sasuke scowled and reluctantly lifted his camera. "You ready?"

"Of course, usuratonkachi."

Naruto briefly stuck his tongue out at the insult, but before Sasuke could snap the picture, his face melted into a triumphant grin. Sasuke's breath caught in his throat at the sudden wave of humor and camaraderie that poured from the blonde. Swallowing hard, Sasuke snapped the picture and lowered his camera.

I've never seen him smile at me like that before...

Chuckling, Naruto dropped the pose and slapped the stunned boy on the back.

"See, Uchiha? Even you can't ruin my mood after a win." Giving Sasuke a two-fingered salute and a wink, Naruto turned and wandered off into the crowd of milling people.

A second later, Sasuke recovered enough to scowl furiously. He thinks that he can just make a fool out of me like that? Turning on his heel, Sasuke made his way out of the gymnasium. As soon as I develop these, I'm tossing that damn picture AND its negative into the garbage!

Yet somehow, the picture had made it into a frame, standing proudly beside his bed.

-End Flashback-

Sitting up, Sasuke wandered over to his desk and leaned on it, gazing at the picture. That was the day our relationship started changing. He threw me off kilter with that damn smile, and I haven't been able to get him out of my mind since. He picked it up, running his thumb over the frame. After that...even though I wouldn't admit it...

...I wanted him to smile at me that way again.

Sasuke resisted the impulse to run his fingers over the image of Naruto, determinedly setting the picture back on his desk. I should have thrown this out years ago. In fact, I should do it now.

He didn't move.

After a moment of struggling with himself, Sasuke gave up and shook his head. I still can't fight it. No matter how much denial I go through, I still want to be closer to him.

...I wonder if he wants to get closer to me, too...

Author's note: Next up, Attack of the Rivals! Stay tuned, and Review!

Fyi: Dobe means dead last, usuratonkachi (which, after checking about nine times, is what he's actually saying) meansmoron of morons, teme is an extremely impolite way of saying "you," and vaguely translates to either b-word. Dr. Hatake is Kakashi, for anyone who didn't know.

Random fact of the day: The Japanese really don't have any curse words, considering that little kids can say every "bad" word we anime fans can think of without their parents batting an eye.