[SasuNaruSasu, KakaIruKaka.] Drama/Romance/Humor. Yaoi.

"Six years ago, Naruto and Sasuke became teammates and formed a bond of rivalry that had always held something more–though they'd never quite acknowledged it for what it was. Now, with Konoha preparing for a major festival competition, the two have an encounter that forces them to consider what they really want. Kakashi and Iruka inevitably become entwined in the issue, putting their relationship to the test as they try to mentor their two students in a situation whose outcome no one can predict."

(IN-PROGRESS. Mild AU, in that Itachi didn't kill the clan, and therefore Sasuke didn't defect from Konoha. Itachi's story is different, but hopefully enjoyable nonetheless.)

Everyone's Got Secrets…

Chapter 1:

Uchiha Sasuke had been waiting for this day.

A gentle breeze swept through the dust in the Uchiha manor courtyard while he stretched his lean, muscular body in preparation for his morning training regimen. Feet spread apart, arms reaching up to the sky, Sasuke felt the early morning sun on his bare face and chest as he moved through the calm and deliberate motions that kept him flexible. It was quiet, just the way he liked it.

It was quite the luxury to have so much free time. Twisting his narrow waist from side to side, hands still reaching high in the air, Sasuke wondered what the others were doing right then.

'Kakashi-sensei is no doubt sleeping the morning away with the latest orange novel covering his face,' he mused, bending backwards until his hands touched the soft earth, bridging his back into a bow-string curve.

That Jounin was altogether disgraceful. When Sasuke passed the upcoming Jounin exam, he expected to teach Kakashi a thing or two about responsibility. He kicked his feet up, balancing his inverted body on his hands alone, muscles taut in a vertical line interrupted only by his black shorts and sandals.

'Sakura…,' he furrowed his brow, drawing a blank. 'What the hell did girls do anyways?'

Girls were practically useless as far as he could tell, even if this girl was training under Godaime. Still, he was glad to have such a strong kunoichi on his team; Sakura had been specially requested to visit their allies in Sunagakure for an internship, thus giving him the chance to study and train at his leisure for two full weeks. No distractions. Pure bliss.

He shook his head as he slowly raised his right arm to shoulder height, adjusting the weight of his body fully onto his left hand. His brow relaxed as his thoughts passed to the last member of the team.

'Naruto…' he closed his eyes, an image of his blond, loud, obnoxious teammate coming unbidden to his mind.

He saw a memory from the day before: Naruto's blond hair held back from his eyes with his hitai-ate, his face split into a wide grin and his cheeks flushed from the effort he always put into their sparring matches. Having cast aside his shirt and jacket, Naruto stood five feet from him, tanned upper body glistening in the sunlight. He reached his arms out wide in a taunting pose, and Sasuke could almost hear his annoying voice shouting loudly at him to, 'Hurry up and get me, bastard!'

Unable to stifle it, Sasuke chuckled, and then his eyes snapped open in dismay as his body began to sway. He lost his balance, pushing off the ground with his left hand to land neatly on his feet, braced so he wouldn't completely fall over. Shaking his head again, Sasuke decided he'd had enough of a warm-up.

Before any other memories could distract him, he grabbed his shuriken pouches and sprinted off towards the weapons training area, his feet splashing across the surface of the lake as he took the most direct route over Uchiha property.

Naruto grunted, reaching fingertips to his toes which were planted firmly on the ceiling with chakra.

His firm abdominal muscles tightened and pulsed in an inverted crunch, before he unfolded and stretched his arms back over his head towards the floor. His muscles worked harder this way, against the pull of gravity. As he focused on maintaining an even flow of chakra to his feet to keep his body from falling to the ground, a black swirling tattoo spread out from his navel. He counted each crunch out loud from behind gritted teeth.

"One ninety-seven… One ninety-eight… One ninety-nine… Two hundred!" Naruto whooped, slapping his sandals for the last time, then releasing his chakra and somersaulting from his perch to land in his small apartment living room.

The tattoo quickly faded away as his energy flow returned to normal. It was obvious that he spent a lot of time exercising, as lean muscles wrapped his hard body from neck to calf. Naruto didn't spend time looking in the mirror, though, gauging his growth instead by the power in his arms, or the speed of his steps. Or—though he tried not to think about this too often—how close he'd caught up to Sasuke's height. Those last two inches were infuriating.

Stretching his stomach like a cat, Naruto grinned and looked out his kitchen window to the Konoha streets below, the early morning sunshine painting the buildings warm yellow.

'I better get to the training grounds before it's too crowded. Should be a good day for Rasengan, too.'

Naruto pounded a fist into his opposite hand, ready to take advantage of his first day off. He bounded into his room and changed into his orange and black training jacket and pants, looking in the mirror as he tied his hitai-ate firmly.

He paused at his reflection, thinking of his goal to become Hokage. His mouth tightened in resolve; he would become strong enough to be Hokage. He knew it. It was a huge responsibility, but it was his biggest dream—it was what drove him each and every day to learn more, to gain more, to train more, to fight more. He was Chuunin now, but the Jounin exams were coming up fast; his dream was getting closer and closer.

Naruto considered yesterday's training, how his muscles had corded with the effort of combat, flexing and dodging, then striking and blocking. His eyes closed, remembering the feel of a strong, pale forearm braced against him, a lithe body twisting and kicking with a speed and beauty that took his breath away. His skin recalled the heat of that other body as he'd tried to pin it down, only to be burned by the fire within deep black eyes as they sparred past exhaustion.

He reached out to touch the mirror in front of him, body swaying from the intensity of the memory before he shook his head to clear it away. Naruto looked at his face, strong and handsome, serious about his dream. Then the seriousness vanished, and the boyish grin was back, his bright blue eyes twinkling in his reflection.

Reaching up to waggle his forehead protector, he winked, saying, "Next time, I'll beat that bastard!"

Naruto bolted out of his apartment, heading to get some Ramen and then train like hell.

Sasuke knelt in the cool grass, hunched over and breathing hard.

Thankful for the hitai-ate keeping the sweat from his eyes, he shook his damp hair off his neck and checked the target patterns all around him, deep inside Uchiha property. High, low, or half hidden in the trees and foliage of the virtually untamed training area, each target had a shuriken, kunai, or senbon needle piercing the tiny black dot in the center.

Sasuke allowed himself a crooked smile of satisfaction as he retrieved his weapons, since he'd hit all twenty-nine targets at least two tenths of a second faster than his previous record. Relishing the blood rushing through his veins from the efforts of the morning, he quickly gathered his things and sped back to the main house to find something to eat before taijutsu practice that afternoon.

Pulling a clean black shirt over his head, he rummaged in his kitchen, not finding much of interest. He scowled as his growing body grumbled its protest. Sasuke decided to eat something on the way to the public Konoha training grounds, leaving the main house where he lived to make his way into the village and duck into a small curry shop.

Sasuke was a regular here because it was hardly ever crowded, and the food was excellent. When he had eaten, he ordered tea and pulled out an old ANBU tactics manual he'd found in the Uchiha library, letting his stomach settle before his next workout while his quick mind absorbed everything it could.

He cut through the forest on his way to the practice area, until the tall Konoha trees thinned to reveal a large grassy field designed for sparring or practicing katas. Scattered across the space were logs and posts to be used for training at any angle or height. Sasuke was surprised to find it completely empty. He'd counted on at least one shinobi he knew to be around so he could spar, since he already had a training area of his own at the Uchiha grounds.

Sparring was clearly something he couldn't do alone. As much as it annoyed him, he'd just have to wait until there was a worthy opponent.

He started with jumping-jacks to get warmed up, and then he picked a vertical wooden post and began to practice a routine of kicks and punches. Sasuke spun around, jabbing and kicking high and low in an elaborate dance. His flexible body made the moves nearly effortless, the post denting and chipping underneath the blows. He focused his movements little by little, increasing his speed and using chakra to extend the impact of his fists and feet further beyond the reach of his flesh.

Although occupied with his training, Sasuke didn't fail to sense the chakra of an approaching shinobi.

The oncoming ninja felt familiar, and though he didn't know exactly who it was, he didn't expect to have to defend himself. However, strong fighters could always recognize other strong fighters, and a shinobi is always prepared. Sasuke froze and watched the trees, right hand loose beside his shuriken holster.

A tall young man strolled casually into the training area, though Sasuke could sense that he was on edge; perhaps an instinctual reaction to Sasuke's chakra presence. Pale, pale eyes blinked in his direction, handsome face impassive, long brown hair pulled back in a very loose ponytail.

"Neji," Sasuke nodded a greeting, relaxing.

This guy would have known he was there long before he'd have sensed anyone's approach. If Neji had wanted to fight—or to avoid him—he wouldn't be simply walking up to him now.

"Sasuke," Neji nodded in return. He gestured to the training grounds. "I didn't expect to find you here."

It wasn't a question, so Sasuke simply shrugged. He'd fought the Hyuuga in the tournaments that their Jounin-sensei's had arranged, but never for fun, just to spar. He was as surprised to see Neji as Neji was to find him at the public grounds, when they both knew they had access to far better equipped places to train.

He watched Neji size him up, and just as Sasuke opened his mouth to suggest a friendly match, he sensed another shinobi approaching very quickly. His brows came together as Neji sensed it too, and turned, pulling out a kunai as Sasuke armed himself with shuriken—it was coming towards them too fast to be a normal ninja.

A wild, green blur came directly towards them, then detoured sharply to their right to circle the immediate area several times. Leaves, dirt, and fresh grass clippings whirled in the air behind the new arrival. Sasuke leaped high in the air and loosed two shuriken at the blur, aiming not to injure, but only to slow it down, his sharingan recognizing and confirming that this was not a normal ninja. He was aware that Neji had also leaped out of the circle, choosing to aim his kunai quite a bit closer.

Their attacks were successful. The green blur was forced to alter his path and do some quick back flips to avoid the weapons, landing proudly in the center of the field before them with a huge grin spread on his face. Sasuke and Neji stood opposite their opponent—Sasuke with his typical look of boredom, Neji looking annoyed at the dramatic entrance—both of them beautifully spotless and graceful.


Lee struck the 'nice-guy' pose, grinning at Neji, cheeks flushed and black hair all tousled from his sprint. He would have cut a dashing figure, so young and fit, except for the goofy haircut and green training suit. Sasuke glanced over to Neji, who gave a small sigh.

"Are you ready to train, Lee?" Neji asked, his voice and manner so refined in comparison to his boisterous teammate.

"I am always ready! The springtime of youth waits for no man!" Lee shouted in his normal voice, laughing in his hearty laugh. He turned to Sasuke, still grinning.

"Sasuke-san! What a surprise! Are you here to train as well?"

Sasuke shrugged, grunting noncommittally. Neji had come here to meet Lee, which made sense. Teammates often helped each other train. Sasuke preferred to train alone, since he learned skills so easily that he outpaced the ninja his own age. He could name only one other who could match him in focus and determination—he respected Neji and Lee though, and would have welcomed an opportunity to spar had they not already made plans with each other.

Neji, sensing Sasuke's disappointment at being third wheel, turned to him and lowered his voice, "Lee asked me to train with him today." They both glanced over at Lee, who was busy doing preparatory push-ups, still grinning. "You're welcome to come by my family's house anytime, if you'd like to spar."

Sasuke, still appearing bored, nodded once. Neji turned to walk back towards Lee, and Sasuke followed, retrieving his shuriken from where they'd landed. He stopped when Neji turned back to him. Those silvery-white eyes seemed to look deep within him, and Sasuke was mesmerized. He wondered, not for the first time, if the Hyuuga could read his mind—and what he might see if he did. Then Neji's gaze shifted over Sasuke's shoulder.

He watched Neji's brows draw together, the muscles around his eyes tensing. Sasuke made a mental note that he could use the Byakugan without hand seals or vocal commands now. It was difficult, but he resisted the urge to look behind him, knowing his inability to see whatever had caught Neji's attention. After a moment or two, Neji's face relaxed.

"Go northwest about a half mile towards the river," he pointed into the dense trees. "I think you'll find someone there to spar with."

Neji touched his shoulder, then turned and walked past Lee, saying something Sasuke couldn't quite hear. Lee sprang up, following his teammate into the open clearing, both of them settling into familiar opening stances.

Sasuke tucked his shuriken into his pouch, and considered. Neji hadn't said who was on the other side of the trees, but since he was aware of Sasuke's abilities the opponent had to be strong. He turned northwest and jumped into the trees to make his way over to the river, deciding to do some reconnaissance. If it wasn't someone worth his time, he could always try and find Kakashi-sensei for some training.

Sasuke leapt through the trees, arms stretched behind him, the summer breeze ruffling his thick black locks. Eventually he began to sense the presence of a strong fighter—but there was something else on the wind besides the scent of chakra, a spark of something that made his blood race with electricity. Wrinkling his brow, Sasuke picked up his speed, determined to find the source.

When he caught the first scent of the river up ahead, Sasuke began his descent from the tree branches to land without a sound in the shadows. He crept forward, all senses on high alert. From up ahead, he could hear hard breathing and the dense pulsing of someone's chakra, mixed with the sounds of the river flowing by on the other side of the sloping bank. Sasuke crouched behind a thick trunk near the edge, and peered around the side.

Shirtless and barefoot, Naruto was busy training.

Stifling a gasp of surprise, Sasuke gazed wide-eyed at the sight before him. A look of extreme concentration screwed his teammate's handsome face into a fierce scowl, as he focused on the dense blue ball of chakra swirling in his hand. Gritting his teeth with the effort, Naruto dug his toes into the riverbank as he worked. Sasuke changed his black eyes to the Sharingan's blood red so he could really see.

His teammate pushed more chakra into his hand until the round mass grew to the size of a watermelon, then Naruto condensed it back down to the size of an apricot—but without any chakra getting lost. Sasuke looked on in amazement. How could Naruto contain all that chakra in such a tiny shape?

With his hand still across his mouth, he continued to watch, his eyes not the only part of him interested in the view.

Naruto's whole body was tense, muscles tight and trembling with the effort of molding so much chakra at once. His lean legs were bent, bracing his body on the slanting riverbank, his torso leaning forward in an attack pose. The round curves of his right shoulder and bicep sang with tension as he held the Rasengan in front of him and manipulated it carefully. His dirty-blond hair stuck to his forehead protector in damp patches, and sunlight gleamed off his skin, which was slick with the sweat from concentration and summer heat.

A droplet of sweat trickled down Naruto's neck and over his pectoral, catching on the tip of an erect nipple. Sasuke felt things low in his body clench as his hungry gaze traveled over Naruto's flat stomach, eyes tracing the patters of the seal marking his navel. He'd known it was there, but didn't often see it as it only appeared on Naruto's skin when he used chakra. And Sasuke didn't see his teammate half naked very often, a disappointment he worked hard to suppress.

Naruto's concentration never faltered as he increased the Rasengan to its normal size and then slowed it down, its density dispersing. Sasuke gave a prayer of thanks for his Sharingan, for it showed that Naruto was somehow reabsorbing the chakra back into his body instead of using it up in the jutsu. 'When had he learned how to do that?' Intrigued, Sasuke forgot everything except the sight of Naruto's very attractive form training in front of him.

Everything, that is, until a kunai struck the tree trunk centimeters above his head with a reverberating thwang.

Naruto was looking right in his direction. Sasuke skipped backwards, instinctively pulling a kunai into his hand even though he was sure Naruto couldn't see him in the dark shadows of the forest.

"Oi," Naruto called out, his expression annoyed. "I know you're there! So come out already!"

The blond pulled out another kunai, and stared into the trees. Sasuke considered retreating, however he was irritated that he'd been caught off guard—and by that idiot, of all people. Scowling in the shadows, he tucked his kunai away, and moved out of the protection of the trees. Uchiha Sasuke had nothing to hide.

He walked forward deliberately, hands empty, aiming a look at Naruto that said he needn't bother arming himself. Naruto started at the sight of him, his mouth almost twitching into a smile before his expression changed into one of confusion.

"Sasuke?" He asked, relaxing his body in relief that it wasn't someone more dangerous stalking him. "What the hell are you doing here?" Naruto put his kunai away, his hands on his hips, facing his teammate defiantly now that he knew who it was.

Sasuke's nostrils flared in annoyance. "What the hell are you doing here?"

He struck a pose of boredom and superiority that he knew would annoy Naruto. Sure enough, his teammate scowled, squaring his shoulders in his direction and looking very irritated. Sasuke smirked back at him.

"Tch, asshole…" Naruto trailed off. "I can train anywhere I want. What I want to know is why you were hiding in the bushes watching me." He reached up to adjust his hitai-ate more squarely on his head, exposing the long lines of his torso, and unaware of how the movement showed off every inch of his skin.

Sasuke swallowed, watching intently without showing it. He hadn't intended to hide in the bushes and watch Naruto, he'd just been attracted to his massive chakra and—

He sighed. This was all Neji's fault. But that wouldn't make sense to Naruto. Being a tensai had its merits; it wasn't hard for Sasuke to come up with a story that Naruto would believe. He stretched his arms above his head, yawned, and turned to go.

"Actually I was looking for Kakashi-sensei. Since there's no one else strong enough to train with me."

Sasuke turned his back on his teammate, looking over his shoulder before walking away from him. In one second, Naruto was blocking his way back into the forest, his face furious. Naruto shoved a finger into his chest.

"Oi!" Naruto shouted. "You're not going anywhere until I've kicked your ass!"

Chuckling at Naruto's intensity, Sasuke stepped back out of his reach, and let a lazy smirk cross his face. It really was too amusing to push his teammate's buttons.

"I probably have at least ten minutes to spare before getting on with my real training," he challenged Naruto, turning to a relatively dry patch of the riverbank.

He heard Naruto's cursing in response, and smiled. Maybe this was a good idea after all. He had to admit that they were well matched fighters, and he always felt like he'd gotten a good workout afterwards. He refused to acknowledge how much he enjoyed this simple contact with his friend, needed it even, since he spent so much energy keeping his distance from others.

Somehow Naruto was just…different.

Sasuke unbuckled all his weapon pouches, laid them in the dry area and took off his ninja sandals. He could feel Naruto's confused expression on the back of his head as he deliberately disarmed himself.

"What the hell are you doing? Stripping?" Naruto shouted at him. Sasuke bit back a laugh, turning to look over his shoulder as he stood, crossing his arms.

"I can beat you with taijutsu alone, moron." Sasuke smirked, enjoying the banter they always went through, and the shocked expression on Naruto's face.

"The hell?" he shouted, his face turning red with rage.

Naruto's piercing blue eyes locked with his own, and Sasuke fought the sudden urge to take a step backwards. He couldn't tear his eyes from Naruto's, radiating murderous intent like two tiny blue Rasengans struggling for release. It gave Sasuke the most fearfully exhilarating feeling deep in his gut, though he remained calm on the outside in his perfected pose of bored superiority.

He watched as Naruto ripped off his kunai holster and shuriken pouch, tossing them onto his orange jacket ten feet away; he managed not to look surprised when Naruto also shoved his orange pants down to his ankles and kicked them aside. He stood opposite Sasuke in only short orange swimming trunks, his lean, mean form taking a fighting stance, and his jaw tightening in concentration.

Feeling competitive, Sasuke grabbed the hem of his black shirt and peeled it up and off his body, displaying his own finely sculpted torso and lean muscles, so that he too was only in shorts. Black shorts. Uchihas did not wear orange. He watched Naruto's face as he flung the shirt towards his pile of discarded weapons, knowing that he was just as nicely built as his teammate.

'Was there a flicker just now in Naruto's eyes?' Not waiting to find out, Sasuke took his own fighting stance, their gazes locked in a display of fighting spirit.

A bird fluttered out of the trees, breaking the silence and urging both of them to rush at each other in a flurry of attacks. Sasuke dodged Naruto's fists as he scanned the terrain, making mental notes. They'd never fought here before, and it posed an interesting challenge with the long, narrow riverbank stretching underneath them, water on one side and dense trees on the other. He quickly calculated the slant of the bank and the soft moistness of the earth under their feet as the fight began.

Naruto aimed a roundhouse kick at Sasuke's head, but he blocked it with forearms, catching Naruto's calf and twisting upward with the momentum to throw him onto the ground. Naruto dropped his hands, twisting his other leg up and catching Sasuke's arms between his ankles, blocking the attack from a handstand position. Sasuke pulled out of his grasp, sliding down to sweep his long leg near the ground where Naruto was dismounting, aiming to do damage to that pretty stomach of his. Naruto somersaulted out of the way, and then sprung up and at him again, his sheer, physical energy a force to be reckoned with.

A smile spread across Sasuke's face as he dodged, struck, and blocked his teammate over and over, Naruto's loud voice teasing and taunting him all the while. His blood pumped with effort and sweat broke out on his pale skin; the sun was warm, but not uncomfortable. They both got in multiple hits—Sasuke knew there would be some marks on his body the next day. It was just as he'd thought, though, they really were well matched fighters. The score was close.

Sasuke lost track of the time as they sparred. He noticed when he got tired, however, muscles protesting the activities and begging him to stop. Naruto showed no sign of fatigue yet, which made Sasuke's eyes darken. 'How much goddamn stamina does the idiot have?'

They had to have been fighting for hours; the sun cast longer shadows, its rays now angled so that Sasuke's original hiding place would have been in bathed in sunlight. 'Did he intend to keep this up until they passed out?'

Sasuke had only looked away for a fraction of a second, and just barely managed to bend backwards out of the way of Naruto's sweeping leg, the power of the kick rushing past the skin at the tip of his nose. Back-flipping out of range, Sasuke glared at Naruto, who looked damn full of himself at nearly getting a major blow inside his guard.

"Oi," he cajoled, "Getting tired already?"

Naruto took up another stance, waiting patiently as if he could have fought all day and night. The sun glowed behind him in an orangey haze, and sparkled on the surface of the river nearby. Sasuke creased his brows in determination and sprinted forward with all his strength.

Feinting left, then right, Sasuke leapt high in the air, landing on Naruto and finally grappling him to the ground, arms pinned beneath his hands, and legs trapped beneath his thighs. Naruto squirmed against the moist riverbank, his face a ferocious scowl as Sasuke held him flat on his back. Both of them were breathing heavily from the efforts of the last hours, and for a few moments they just glared at each other, the Uchiha's red eyes fading to their original black. Sasuke held him fast, glad to have finally shut him up.

He was considering whether to let him back up when Naruto began to wiggle and squirm for all he was worth. Sasuke lowered his torso, pressing his forearms down to keep him pinned, and adjusted his legs to hold Naruto's trapped more securely. His hard chest was pressed fully against Naruto's stomach.

Sasuke gasped when he felt tingling on his skin, looking into Naruto's eyes, which were still boiling in fury at having been pinned although the expression on his face reflected similar surprise. Sasuke moved above him enough to look where their skin had been touching, seeking the source of the tingles that he still felt skittering across his chest. One look at Naruto's skin and the answer fell into place—the Kyuubi seal was vivid on his stomach, a dark black spiral surrounding his belly button.

Clearly Naruto was using chakra to power his muscles in order to escape Sasuke's death grip, but Sasuke held him there, helpless beneath him. He followed the elegant black embellishments of the central spiral with hungry eyes. How many times had he wanted to see this up close? The curving black line twisted around and around Naruto's abdomen, ending in a perfect navel, a fullstop. Sasuke looked at it, fascinated, ignoring Naruto's vibrating muscles as he tried to free himself.

The world narrowed down to that patch of skin, the black markings like the calligraphy of a deity on the most perfect stomach Sasuke had ever seen. Unconsciously, his Sharingan pupils resurfaced, deep red drowning out warm black. His face was close, hovering over the smooth skin, sensing the airy current of Naruto's chakra pulsing just inches away.

Sasuke felt the hunger in his eyes slide down through his body as if it were thick as honey, settling low and churning in his abdomen, driving away all sense of reality. He bent his neck, and reached out his pink tongue to lick the uppermost curlicue of the Kyuubi seal, a pulse of chakra tingling pleasantly on his tongue.

Naruto went very still. His muscles were frozen, tense, but his breathing sped up. Sasuke ignored him, moving to the next marking, and the next, following each symbol with a wet swipe of his tongue, and almost growling at the pleasure of the chakra flowing between them. He licked up the spice of the blond's skin—Naruto tasted so goooooood.

Sasuke's tongue danced over the outside markings, finally coming to the large spiral in the center, drawing out a small moan from his teammate as he licked his way around and down into the dip of his navel. Sasuke was so focused on the taste and feel of Naruto's tummy he missed the second very quiet moan from the blond as his tongue brushed across his belly button.

Sasuke kissed that perfect navel, nipping and teasing it, quite totally forgetting where he was, who he was with, and most importantly what he was doing. Naruto was still tense, but wasn't struggling like he had at first. A quick glance showed him Naruto's eyes were closed, as if he were trying to ignore what was going on—or perhaps he was rethinking whether or not he truly wanted to escape.

Sasuke let his tongue retrace its path around and around the heavy black swirl to the outer lines and symbols before stopping to gaze up at Naruto's face. Naruto's eyes were still closed, and Sasuke could still feel some resistance where their bodies touched, though his teammate had stopped squirming in earnest.

He watched as Naruto's eyes opened, slowly, as if wondering why Sasuke's tongue had stopped what it was doing. Their eyes met, heat flaring between blue and black to make them both dizzy; dazed. Sasuke felt Naruto's body relax further, no longer struggling against him. Sasuke unpinned his arms and instead braced his hands against the riverbank, fingers sinking into the earth on either side of his teammate.

In a flash of speed, Naruto grabbed his back and flipped them over, effectively pinning Sasuke on the damp ground, his hips astride Sasuke's to keep him from getting back up. Sasuke gasped in surprise, his arms loose at his sides, his brain too fuzzy from lust and chakra to have stopped his teammate from turning the tables.

Naruto was looking at him now, his expression raw with only a hint of hesitation, and Sasuke could only stare in wonder at the beauty of the golden torso rising up from his, the orange of the setting sun bathing both of them in a haze, his hips gripped by Naruto's hard thighs.

Naruto reached down to touch his ink black hair, the fingers of his left hand stroking and making a fist in the long, silky locks at the back of Sasuke's neck. Naruto leaned forward—to kiss him?—instinctively rocking his hips against Sasuke's. Sasuke sucked in a breath as their hard erections rubbed together in excruciating pleasure, radiating throughout his entire body and making him bite his lip to keep from crying out.

He locked his eyes with Naruto's and watched in anguish as the spell of the past few minutes broke completely.

Naruto's face twisted in shock from the undeniable evidence of their mutual desire.

Sasuke felt the hand at his neck tighten painfully, and then all he could see was an explosion of bright stars; a moment too late he realized that Naruto must have struck him in the face with all his strength. Sasuke was completely frozen from the shock of the blow, couldn't make himself move although he'd felt the immediate absence of Naruto's weight and could hear him grabbing his clothes and crashing off through the forest.

Sasuke just lay there for a moment, waiting for his vision to clear, his cheek and eye throbbing painfully in contrast to his arousal. The sounds of the river were soothing in a way, and he tried to shut out all thoughts of the past few minutes. No, make that hours. Any moment of today that had involved one loud idiot.

When he could tell from the backs of his eyelids that the sun had shifted another few degrees lower in the sky, Sasuke sighed and sat up, feeling his left cheek very gently with his palm. It stung, but didn't seem to be bleeding. He blushed in embarrassment—it had been a very, very long time since he'd taken a direct hit from an opponent. He was the Uchiha tensai, after all.

He opened his jaw a few times, stretching muscles that he knew would only hurt worse later on, and then got to his feet. He looked around, knowing that Naruto was long gone, but almost hoping that he was still there.

He hadn't needed to look. He knew he was alone.

Sasuke walked to retrieve his sandals, shirt and weapons. Once rearmed, he trudged back up the riverbank to the trees, chest tight in an uncomfortable mixture of tired and hurt. He was about to disappear into the forest when he noticed a glint of something shiny a little ways to the side. He took three steps and found something unmistakably Naruto's in the grass, left behind in his haste to run away.

With another sigh, Sasuke reached down and picked it up, meeting the beady eyes of the frog wallet, it's shiny metal clasp of a mouth expressing nothing helpful in the situation. He felt a kind of hysterical giggle about to erupt from the absurdity of him, Sasuke, holding in his hand the most ridiculous wallet a teenage boy could have, so he quickly tucked it in one of his pouches and took off through the woods.

He'd worry about what to do with it later. Right now, the only thing on his mind was getting back to his house without seeing or talking to anyone.

Halfway back, as he cut through the outskirts of town, Sasuke groaned remembering that he had no food at home. He wanted to go home as quickly as possible, but he knew if he didn't get some groceries now he'd have to come back in the morning, and then he'd have to explain the black eye he could bet he'd wake up with. Compromising, he ducked back into the curry shop where he'd eaten lunch and ordered three days worth of food. Ignoring the questioning eyebrows of the proprietor, he paid and then disappeared with his meals.

He arrived home minutes later, arms full of food and no appetite. He put everything in the freezer for later, dragged himself up the three flights of stairs, and drew himself a hot bath. Scrubbing the sweat and grime of the riverbed from his body, he let himself soak for a long time, reciting ninja laws over and over in his mind to keep from analyzing anything that had happened that afternoon. It could wait.

Exhausted, mentally and physically, Sasuke curled up in his empty bed, in his empty house, in the empty Uchiha district, and fell immediately to sleep.

[to be continued...]