Almost Sucks
by Mashiro

Naruto fandom, series, no spoilers
AU, BOYS LOVE: Naruto x Sasuke, Kakashi x Iruka, Lee x Gaara

first version: January 5th 2006, Thursday
second version: June 13th 2008, Friday


This was my first fan fiction series and it started out quite simple. I just wanted to put Naruto and Sasuke in an AU setting and get them together. I thought it would take ten or fifteen chapters and three months of writing at most. 22 months of writing and 63 chapters later, I had a story about falling in love, about family, about growing up and the struggle of coming to terms with yourself.

The first version of this story was posted on FanFictiondotNet between January 2006 and October, 2007, but because 22 months had a huge impact on my writing and the story (and because I'm a perfectionist), I couldn't just finish and leave the story as it was. This is the second and final version and I've tried to fix weirdness not just in grammar and typos, but also in characterizations, actions, events, age, time... Yeah. Lots and lots of thanks to my wonderful beta Allys777 for helping me out. This second and final version (Almost Sucks 2008) will be posted here and on AFFdotnet simultaneously.

If you read this story to the end you will come across: fifteen-year-olds smoking, using bad language, getting drugged, drinking and occasionally having sex. There is also an occasion with twelve-year-olds drinking and a fourteen-year-old failing to say no to drugs. However, I have done my utmost to keep the content posted here within the site's regulations. If you see a chapter labeled "FFdotNet version", you will know that a full version of that chapter has been posted elsewhere for interested legal adults. With some of them I might have been a bit too careful, leaving out things that I could have kept here, but I like being on the safe side. Directions to those other versions can be found on my profile.

Oh, and until all new chapters have been posted, chapters with this layout are new ones, chapters with other layouts are old. You can also see it if you look at the first version, second version part above. Check for 2008 dates.

I really hope that you will all enjoy reading!


DISCLAIMER: I don't own the rights to the Naruto series or characters and I make no money writing this. I'm just a fan. This is fan fiction.


01: Pretend it's perfect when it sucks


Sasuke felt like his insides were crawling around inside his stomach, now and then clawing at the back of his throat as if trying to get out. It wasn't very nice. It wasn't very logical either. Unless, of course, no one had bothered informing the insides that the outside was the reason they were upset in the first place. Someone could have decided they were better off not knowing, Sasuke could understand that. If he had been given a chance to not know he would have jumped at that chance like a man on fire jumped at water.

There were many reasons why the outside was upsetting. The cold milk and the straight-from-the-oven fresh cinnamon buns, still hot enough to have steam rising from them; the overfriendly smiles that never got turned off and the polite words that had been scraping at Sasuke's ears since he came; the cozy furniture and the pictures on the walls showing a small but happy family, a cute childhood and a bunch of perfect summers spent in the country side; the white tablecloth with red strawberries that looked like it was handmade. Sasuke had always had trouble handling situations and expressions that were faked.

The guy sitting across from Sasuke at the table was not necessarily fake, but disturbing nonetheless. He was staring and didn't seem aware of it, like someone important had suddenly left the office in his brain to have lunch. His eyes had a glazed over look and there was milk stuck at the corner of his mouth, as if he was drooling the stuff. If it hadn't been for the guy's energy and talk before, Sasuke would have guessed he was a serious retard; the drooling, grunting and eating soup through a straw kind. Maybe it would have been better for the guy if he had been a serious retard, at least then he would have had an excuse to act like one. He was probably Sasuke's age, but his eyes made him look younger; blue, very blue; the color mostly only found on babies and contacts. Oh, and he was blond, go figure. Hopefully this damned place was big enough to have more than one school (or at least more than one class) and hopefully Sasuke would get to be as far away from blond retard neighbor guy as possible.

Sasuke had just moved to the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood in the perfect fucking town. His guardian, Kakashi, had claimed that Sasuke needed a stable and safe environment to grow up in. The city was too dangerous for fifteen year olds it seemed. Fourteen, thirteen, twelve, all the way down to eight years old were perfectly safe. Fifteen? Noo... At fifteen you were too old to take of yourself. Though, to be perfectly honest (and because of the general aura of this place it was hard to control yourself), that probably had never been the real reason Kakashi pulled his foster child up by the roots and dragged him half across the country (well, sort of...), away from his friends and home; he had probably just felt it would be a fucked up thing to do. Kakashi liked doing fucked up things to mess with people's heads, especially Sasuke's. He'd never gone as far as to trash Sasuke's life this much before, but there was a first time for everything. Sasuke had liked living in the city. The people in the city never pretended life and the stuff in it were perfect. They knew they weren't and weren't afraid to face it. Sasuke had had friends in the city. He had had fun. Kakashi was a bastard.

Kakashi was also a pervert that wasted no time. They had just arrived yesterday and he had already found a neighbor to harass, three perfect houses down the street. Why it had to be a single father to an acting-like-a-retard-without-a­-good-excuse blond, Sasuke had no idea. This guy was nothing like the guys Kakashi usually went for; he looked more like a housewife than the teacher he claimed he was. Yes, at first it would seem the scar across his nose messed up the image, but it didn't necessarily have to. The man could have had a day when he was clumsy with the kitchen knife. Sasuke wouldn't be surprised if he was the one that had made the tablecloth. After all, he had already confessed to the crime that was the cinnamon buns. Umino 'call me Iruka' Iruka-san. Maybe Kakashi just wanted to adjust to his surroundings. 'When in a perfect neighborhood, go after men that look like housewives.'

"Say, Iruka-san, these buns," Kakashi said and the very tone of his voice made Sasuke close his eyes, choke down a shudder of embarrassment and force his intestines away from his throat. "They're really... delicious. Can I have the recipe?"

It was the way he said it. Well, in a way it was what he said too, because since when did grown men discuss cinnamon bun recipes in the middle of the day with no alcohol involved? But mostly it was how. As if he were wearing a lot less clothes and saying something else entirely, in a place where no drooling minors could hear him. How long had he known this guy? Fifteen, twenty minutes? (Couldn't be much more than that, even though it felt like they'd been sitting here for hours.) Sasuke knew very well that Kakashi had no shame, but it still surprised him when it showed. And the bastard actually had guys falling for him. It should be some law against bad flirting that worked.

Iruka blushed and scratched his neck nervously. That damned annoying smile stuck to his mouth like fungus.

"Ah, of course," he almost stammered. "I keep it in my head, but I'll try to get it out."

Then he laughed. Kakashi laughed too. Sasuke wanted to crawl between the perfect floorboards and rot. How the hell could bun talk work? Or maybe the guy was just too clueless to get it. Maybe he thought Kakashi really wanted his bun recipe; he certainly looked naïve enough. Was there no way to wipe away that frustrating smile of his? Spill Kakashi's plans for the inside of his pants? Wasn't like the bastard didn't deserve some payback.

Why was Sasuke here anyway? Oh, yes, Kakashi had threatened to lock up his CDs. Sasuke had no idea why it was so important that he came, but there had been something in the way Kakashi had acted that said it was. Maybe suffering foster sons were like puppies with housewife men. While he had known the CD threat was an empty one (the man would never be evil enough to go through with it), Sasuke had sighed and put his shoes on. The move must have temporarily softened him.

The drooling blond finally woke up from his staring with a jerk, finished his cinnamon bun before taking a fourth from the bun basket. Iruka's attention was drawn away from Kakashi's flirting and sent the bun grabber a look of as much displeasure as could be shown in front of guests. For a second the fungus smile was gone and without it he didn't look as much like a clueless housewife that embroidered tablecloths. Unfortunately it was back so quickly that it made little difference. Iruka moved the bun basket closer to Sasuke.

"Are you sure you don't want one, Sasuke-kun?"

"Yes," Sasuke said.

He had refused the first time the basket was pushed his way too, wasn't a warm-cinnamon-buns-and-cold-milk guy. He'd accepted the milk only because Kakashi's glare had been so insistent and just that had taken a lot of willpower to get down his throat. Like the first time his homemade buns had been turned down, Iruka's smile faltered and he looked disappointed, but Sasuke didn't care and Kakashi's glares couldn't make him. Coming here was one thing, pretending he was a happy to have come was something else.

"He doesn't eat much," Kakashi said, suddenly sounding serious and worried. While the other two almost certainly wouldn't notice, Sasuke could smell the payback. Damned bastard...

"I suppose we did eat before we left," Kakashi continued, his forehead wrinkled and his eyes sad. "Some... hours before."

Iruka looked terribly worried. The drooling blond looked interested too, though his attention wandered from Kakashi to Sasuke and back and forth again, while Iruka's never left Kakashi.

"Really?" Iruka said.

"Yes. Unfortunately. He's so thin..."

Sasuke shut off his ears then and the conversation turned to a garbled background noise. Sasuke liked sounds. He liked drowning in them, letting them blend together and surround him. Cars, the subway and its announcements, automatic doors and escalators, traffic light sounds. The humming of buildings, crowds. Footsteps, the murmur of people talking in supermarkets, malls or the city square. Vendors yelling to get their merchandise sold. Music. Birds.


It was comforting. Having so many different sounds around you that you almost couldn't tell which one came from where. So many different sounds mixing together that they turned into one sound.

Here though, in this place, during the almost-a-day he had been here, Sasuke had found that the sounds frustrated him. They felt empty and cheap compared to the sounds in the city. There was never enough sound; a few here and there, just not enough. Sasuke's ears had spent most of the almost-a-day covered with headphones.

"Naruto, why don't you show Sasuke-kun your room?"

Sasuke looked up at the mentioning of his name. At Iruka first, then, when the drooling blond rose from his chair, at him. Naruto. The 'contact' blue eyes met his.


Naruto smiled. His teeth showed and his nose wrinkled. He must have lost the milk by his mouth when Sasuke wasn't looking because there was no trace of it now. Sasuke felt a surge of something that had to be horror sweep down his spine. He looked at Kakashi and found the man looking pleased. Of course. Pleased to get rid of the minors. Pervert.

"Go on, Sasuke. And be good."

"You be good," Sasuke muttered under his breath as he got to his feet.

Naruto snatched a fifth and sixth bun from the bun basket, earned another glare from Iruka, then off he went. Sasuke shoved his hands in his pockets and followed, sending one last 'damn you for getting me into this' glare at Kakashi.

"I'm on the second floor," Naruto almost yelled over his shoulder as he started up the stairs.

'I could never have guessed...' Sasuke would have sighed, if he hadn't been afraid the blond would misunderstand it as him wanting a conversation. Naruto's voice was too loud and Sasuke did not want a headache added to the list of things to curse. The steps of the stairs creaked under their feet.

Naruto's room had posters on the walls. Schoolbooks, comics, scrunched up paper, pens and plastic robot models fought over the space on the desk, floor and bed. The armchair in the corner was home to a big pile of what seemed to have once been washed and folded clothes. Other, more or less dirty clothes had been tossed pretty much everywhere; Sasuke wrinkled his nose at what probably was underwear under the desk. But while any other day it would have been too messy, after the fake perfection that was the rest of the house (and the neighborhood, and the town), the room was like a sigh of relief.

Iruka must have been pretty desperate to get them out of the kitchen, suggesting Naruto show this room to Sasuke. Wasn't it supposed to be some kind of deadly sin to let your guests see messy rooms in perfect neighborhoods? Naruto didn't seem to know that though.

"Hang on a second!" the blond jumped over things and got to the armchair in the corner. Put his cinnamon buns on the desk and then took the pile of once folded clothes in his arms and dumped it on the floor half a step away.

"Here!" Naruto spun around and grinned. "You can sit...!"

The invitation was cut short as Naruto noticed Sasuke already sitting on the floor. For some reason Sasuke wanted to play good guest and accept the guy's eager hospitality about as much as he wanted to live the rest of his life on Iruka's cinnamon buns. He raised a brow and gave Naruto a look that said just that.

The former drooling blond had stumbled on his trail of actions and for a second he just stood frowning and mouth half-open. When he had recovered enough, he gave a hesitant smile and a shrug and sat down in the armchair himself.

"Or sit on the floor," he said, his voice having lowered to normal speech volume. It didn't sound nearly as screechy.

For a moment they sat there, half a room between them. Naruto was fiddling with his hands and his toes; sometimes looking at Sasuke, sometimes looking at something else. Sasuke was trying to ignore a hard, pointy thing of unknown identity sticking into his thigh because he didn't want to lose his cool by shifting.

"So, you're... from the city?" Naruto's voice had gained new strength, but not enough that he was back to almost yelling. The amount of words made up for the lowered volume however.

"How was it? Where did you live? You're my age, right? I'm fourteen. And a half. How...?"

"Fifteen," Sasuke interrupted, before he had to punch the guy.

For a second Naruto looked surprised, and interrupted. Then he smiled again. His teeth showed.

"Okay! I'll be fifteen too soon. October. Maybe we'll be in the same class!"

'Let's hope not...' Sasuke's mind muttered.

Naruto fiddled for a moment again, before jerking in 'oh, yeah!' and reaching for the buns he'd left on the desk.

"Want one?" he asked cheerfully and held one of the buns out for Sasuke to take, as if he'd completely missed the two times Iruka had asked before. Sasuke stared and wondered how long it would take before the blond took the hint, then decided he didn't care.


Naruto's grin faltered just like Iruka's smile had done. When could Sasuke get out of here? How long until the bastard downstairs was done flirting? But the grin recovered, just like Iruka's smile had. Iruka had given them different last names during introductions at the door, but Sasuke still could have sworn they were related somehow. Just living together did not give two people that much in common; at least Sasuke desperately hoped so.

"That's okay, I can eat two!"

Naruto was back to the almost yelling again. He stuffed his mouth full of bun and made a happy sound that sent sugar crystals flying and probably translated to 'see!' Sasuke wasn't sure, of course; it could have been 'he!' or 'me!' or 'fee!' Sasuke didn't talk speak-with-your-mouth-stuffed. There had to be something wrong with this guy. Sasuke decided that he had had just about as much as he could handle without nicotine and fished a somewhat crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket.

"Don't bother saying you mind," he muttered around the cigarette in his mouth. He glanced up to find Naruto staring at him like he'd sprouted wings or an extra head. It looked both pretty comical and pretty disgusting in combination with his cinnamon bun filled mouth. Sasuke snorted amused, the proximity to satisfied addiction cheering him up slightly, then flicked the lighter. He was already starting to feel the tingle of relief that came from nicotine. Yeah, smoking inside was a no-no, even Kakashi was firm on that, but Sasuke didn't feel like caring. It must have been the cinnamon bun that delayed the shout; bad timing and all that.

"What are you doing!?"

The first lung full of heavenly smoke hit Sasuke's system at the same time as Naruto flew at him, resulting in too slow reactions and Sasuke unable to dodge. The force behind Naruto's flight was so great that Sasuke was pushed down hard on his back and if the blond hadn't grabbed the cigarette Sasuke could have choked on it. The half-eaten cinnamon bun and the lighter landed somewhere in the room.

Sasuke didn't really care though, about being almost choked to death or his new retarded neighbor sitting on him, spewing words like 'crap!' and 'oh, man!' while putting out one of Sasuke's last precious cigarettes against a nearby comic book. Sasuke cared about his back, about a spot between his right shoulder blade and his spine. And he cared about the pain. For a moment, there was nothing in Sasuke's mind but the pain. He had to grind his teeth together hard to keep himself from screaming before he'd grabbed the right word. Just screaming was girly, after all.


Kakashi and Iruka's party must have been interrupted downstairs and Naruto flinched as his ear took the full blow of the scream, but Sasuke couldn't have cared less. He threw the neighbor off him with the ease that he usually threw off blankets and staggered to his feet, his left hand trying to grip at his back over his right shoulder, his eyes frantically searching the floor where he had fallen. Sasuke just barely registered Naruto's worried, definitely-a-yell-now 'what!' and the 'is everything okay?' shout from downstairs. Then he saw it.

It was pathetically small really for that much pain, not much bigger than a hand. Looked like some kind of hard plastic. Hellishly hard. It was orange with big arms and big legs and a very pointy gun sticking out from the shoulder. Sasuke could swear he felt blood trickle down his back. He kicked the robot model hard, too angry to care about his feet, and his lips curled into a smile as the thing broke against the wall. Then he turned and stomped away.

Sasuke passed Iruka half-way down the stairs and ignored his worried 'what's wrong?' and 'what happened?' At the bottom he passed Kakashi and aimed a kick at the bastard's closest shin. With a snarled 'I'm leaving!' and without bothering to put on his sneakers properly, Sasuke left Umino Iruka and Uzumaki Naruto's house, slamming the door hard as he did.

Enough was enough. He was being childish probably, he told himself that as he quickly crossed the lawn and then the street without looking. No need to look when there weren't any cars. This place was pathetic. As he walked toward the house that Kakashi expected him to call home, Sasuke took in the spotless streets and flawless lawns; the late July sun shining; kids screaming and laughing, taking their bikes off homemade jumps some houses away. Perfect living, perfect existence. Sasuke snorted, finally lifted his hand from his back and made a face at the blood. It had been one of his good shirts too.

Sasuke arrived at the door that was supposed to be his and found it locked. He felt his pockets and found no cigarettes; must have dropped them on the floor in pushing-guests-on-robot-models-from-hell-neighbor Naruto's room. Brilliant. Sasuke swore and sank down with his back against the door. His wound complained and the blood probably smeared, but pain could be ignored and Kakashi could have a bloodied door for bothering to lock it.

In what perfect neighborhood did you lock your front door when going to visit your neighbors three houses away? In the morning on a Sunday? But then again, since when did Kakashi need good reasons?

Maybe the day was just supposed to suck.