Title: Of Rivalry and Rules

Author: WolfPilot06

Pairing: SasuNaru, if you squint, tilt your head to the side, and do a somersault.

Warnings: Mostly gen, a little language, and probably a little OOC, one-shot. Oh, and overabuse of italics. One-shot.

Notes: This is my first finished fic for Naruto. I'm absolutely crazy about the series, but haven't really found myself worthy of writing these two idiotic favorite characters of mine. Ah, well. Enjoy!


This, Uchiha Sasuke thinks sourly, has to be the most utterly undignified thing ever to have happened to him.

"Fucking bastard," his companion hisses, "Haven't you heard that old saying? 'Don't light a fire if you can't handle the heat'?"

Okay, Sasuke decides, Naruto sucks at adages.

Though, really, if he tries to think about it with a Naruto-ish sort of logic, it makes some sense, especially in this case, what with Sasuke's hands and legs having been seared by his own Katon jutsu, reflected back at him by a water jutsu he'd never seen before.

"Shut up, dobe." He snaps, in far too much pain to come up with a more intelligent response, "I'm slipping."

"Fucking idiot." Naruto hisses again, but he obligingly clasps his hands beneath Sasuke's bottom again and hefts him up further along his back. Sasuke's half-tempted to say something about inappropriate touching, but he suspects that Naruto would dump him on the ground, injuries or no injuries, if he did that. Still, Sasuke has to comment on Naruto's tendency for vulgar language, or else the blond idiot might think he got dropped on his head or something.

"Language, Naruto," he chastises, smirking against Naruto's neck, "There are more words to the Japanese language than 'fucking'; you might want to pick up a dictionary – that's the book that you look up words and their meanings in – and expand your vocabulary."

Naruto merely grunts, though from the way he tenses under Sasuke's arms, the Uchiha heir knows that the blond is just barely resisting the urge to drop him and stomp on him a few times. Sasuke knows that he is pushing the limits of Naruto's admittedly short patience by needling him like this, but hell, he's the one being carried. There is self-preservation and then there is pride, and the entire village of Konoha could tell you which one he favors over the other.

"Yeah, well, there are four people on our team," Naruto retorts belatedly, "Not one. I know that you might have a little trouble counting, but really…"

"I could have handled them on my own," Sasuke growls, referring to the three missing-nin he had fought back in the forest. They were the same missing-nin that had first turned his Katon against him and then flung him off a cliff in the midst of a taijutsu brawl. Of course, he had managed to bring two of them over the edge with him as he had fallen, and they had taken the brunt of the fall while Sasuke had only broken a leg upon hitting the ground. He had sat on the ground, cursing his own fate after agonizingly wrenching the broken bone back into place, and was making a bad attempt at wrapping it in a makeshift splint while his vision swam in and out of focus when Naruto found him. "I had two of them out of commission already."

"Right," the blond says, and even though Sasuke can't see his face, he knows that his rival is rolling blue eyes up at the sky in askance. "And when were you planning on taking care of the third? Before or after you passed out from setting your own leg? And how were you planning on climbing up yourself? Or – hey – maybe you were hoping he would jump over the edge and obligingly impale himself upon your kunai."

Sasuke snarls, and he is glad that first, he is on Naruto's back so the blond idiot cannot see his face, and second, he is not one to blush easily. Naruto's right, though Sasuke will never admit this to his stupidly grinning face; there was no way that Sasuke could have found his way to the top of the cliff short of sprouting wings and flying there. If Naruto had not found him, it is entirely possible that Sasuke would still be sitting there cursing his fate and waiting to die from infection. "I didn't pass out."

"You were close to it." Naruto snorts and shifts Sasuke's weight again. They are a fair ways away from Konoha, though on occasion, Sasuke's eyes can pick out a glimpse of the tops of the walls through the trees as Naruto patiently tromps through them. He is not dashing along the tree branches, and Sasuke suspects this is because Naruto – the idiot – had gotten rid of not only his own three missing-nin, but the one Sasuke'd left behind, and climbed down the cliff face after his rival without a second thought. Of course, with the idiot's luck, he had not so much as gotten a scratch as he had speedily clambered his way down, and he had spent a good ten minutes making fun of Sasuke before offering to carry the irate Uchiha back to Konoha.

Personally, Sasuke thought Naruto was suicidal. If he had been anyone other than himself, Naruto probably would never have dreamed of teasing Sasuke before making the demeaning offer to carry him on his back. As it was, Sasuke had been in the perfect position to strangle Naruto. He had given the attempt a serious try as Naruto had hopped about like a madman, trying to knock Sasuke off his back against the trees and cursing his ungratefulness. In the end, Sasuke had only given up because he had no desire to sit there for a few weeks, waiting for his leg to either heal or rot off, with only an idiot's corpse for company.

Still, now, with Naruto blabbering on and on about how it is not weak to call for help, and how Sasuke's pansy ass will always need saving by the Great Uzumaki Naruto, Sasuke's giving the option a second thought. There are plenty of other idiots in Konoha, and he is sure he will be able to find a more bearable sparring partner if he looks. As to getting back to Konoha – they are now close enough that Sasuke could probably find a branch to use as an impromptu crutch and hobble back to the village on his own.

Apparently, though, as idiotic as he is, Naruto can also read minds.

"And if you kill me, Tsunade-baba won't heal you, and you'll have to sit there for weeks waiting for your leg to heal." Naruto chirps, his irritation at Sasuke's show-off, loner tendencies seemingly having faded away enough for his characteristic (obnoxious, Sasuke thinks) cheerfulness to bubble up again.

"I'm currently weighing the possibility of inaction for three weeks against a lifetime without your stupid blabbering." Sasuke says dryly.

"Life would be boring." Naruto replies wisely, spiky blond head nodding in agreement to his own words, "'Sides, I still haven't become Hokage; I can't die yet." And then, offhandedly, "You couldn't kill me if I turned my back to you and gave you a kunai to stab me with, anyways."

Sasuke does not feel that this comment warrants a verbal response and lets Naruto know by cuffing him across the back of his head. The idiot actually turns his head to grin at Sasuke.

"Don't get too used to this," Naruto warns Sasuke. The dark-haired shinobi is fairly sure that Naruto is referring to carrying him. "I don't want you thinking that I'm getting mushy-mushy feelings towards you or anything. It'd just be really stupid if you died of a broken leg at the bottom of the cliff, you know?" Abnormally long canines are exposed as Naruto's grin widens, and yet Sasuke is so used to the expression that it does not strike him as being the least bit feral. "Besides, Sakura-chan would have my head if I left you there, and I don't think the village would be all too happy with me if I let their precious Sasuke-kun die."

Sasuke snorts and turns his head to the side under the pretense of watching the underbrush for possible enemies, although he knows that Kakashi and Sakura long ago cleared the way for them. Naruto's blue gaze is too open and familiar, and whenever Naruto looks at him with that broad, taunting grin, Sasuke cannot remember about his psychotic brother or his purpose in life.

Sasuke hates this dissolution of focus, and so he avoids looking at Naruto as much as possible.

"Idiot." he mutters half-heartedly. He can't really dredge up the will for a good insult in the face of the fact that Naruto's banter is really a cover for concern, that of all the people in Konoha, Naruto would probably be the most upset if he never came back. It's one of those weird rivalry things, which Sasuke understands instinctively but cannot explain in words.

"Bastard." The reply is automatic. Naruto does not even have to think about it. Both of them know what they're really saying.


No problem.

For a moment, Sasuke wonders if this is what having a real brother feels like. Itachi was hardly a prime example. But this easy camaraderie, the banter and simple acceptance of their connection to each other – there could hardly be Sasuke without Naruto, nor Naruto without Sasuke – is so overwhelmingly right as to completely dumbfound Sasuke. Sometimes, he wonders if he should not be just a little more wary of Naruto, a little more offended when the blond moron drapes his arm around Sasuke's shoulders or declares that he's going to kick Sasuke's ass five times to Sunday.

"By the way, you owe me ramen." Sasuke blinks as Naruto breaks him out of his thoughts abruptly, disoriented and startled to see the great walls of Konoha rising before them. He snorts audibly right into Naruto's ear, causing the other boy to flinch.

"I'm the one with injuries here. I think you should treat me to dango." Sasuke drawls. Naruto just rolls his eyes, ignoring the medic nins and Sakura as they hurry forth to take the injured Uchiha from his careful grasp.

"After I went through the trouble of carrying your pansy ass all the way back here?" the blond snorts, barely reacting to Sakura's scandalized call of his name at the disrespect to her precious Sasuke-kun. "Fine. You treat me to ramen, and I'll treat you to dango, how about that?"

"You're such a moron." Sasuke grumbles, but his lips twitch slightly, "I still get the better end of the deal."

"Whatever." Naruto says, and already, he's turning away towards his apartment. The hospital won't let him in to see Sasuke even if he does follow – they both know this from past experience – and so Sasuke just chucks his sandal at Naruto's back (it broke after the fall off the cliff, anyway). He's not surprised when Naruto catches it easily and turns back to scowl at Sasuke.

"Tomorrow, then." Sasuke grunts.

Naruto grins. "Tomorrow."


The End


Yes, that's actually the end. Wow, I actually finished a Naruto fanfiction. Now, to finish all those half-finished ones lying around my hard-drive…Comments and criticism deeply loved, appreciated, and adored.