Of Brothers and Lovers

Disclaimer: I just don't own Naruto, or much of anything.

Rating: PG-15

Pairings: MAIN Neji/Sasuke; Itachi/Gaara

Warnings: AU, shounen-ai, very bad language, drama, lime (heavy make-out sessions)

Summary: Sasuke gets out of the hospital. His and Neji's date. Sasuke finally understands his feelings for his brother. He confronts Gaara and tries to get Gaara and Itachi together. :3

Chapter 6

--- ---

Sasuke hated sitting around and doing nothing, but all he had were the remote and television. He found himself glancing at Neji's bouquet of flowers from time to time, remembering that they still had a date together. Wait. Date? No, he and Neji were just going to watch a movie, something he and Naruto had done countless times before. But then again, Naruto hadn't gone down on him in a restroom or shown any romantic interest in him.

"I'm going out of my mind," he muttered into the still air. He was losing it, he was sure. Hazy images of Neji popped into his head, and he bit his lip. Sasuke suddenly wanted to see him.

An hour or so later, after watching a lame soap opera, his doctor came in. She was young and attractive, who had probably completed her residency just recently. She smiled as she neared Sasuke, a clipboard in hand.

"How are you this afternoon, Uchiha-kun?" she asked kindly.

Sasuke gave her a look, as if saying, 'how do you think I am?'. She was the one with the medical degree. Her smile never wavered, undeterred by Sasuke's expression.

"Well, I have excellent news. You are indeed being discharged today. I have already notified your mother. She said she'll be here to sign your release forms. The stitches will have to stay in for a week longer. Be sure to take good care of yourself!"

"I will, thanks," he said, trying to be nonchalant about it.

"I'll tell your mother the rest of the details. See you in a bit."

Sasuke allowed himself to smile after she left. He was finally going back home and back to school. He simply couldn't wait, no matter how he had tried to hide his enthusiasm.

--- ---

"Naruto-kun was kind enough to bring in your assignments. Be sure to thank him, ne?"

Sasuke nodded, staring absently out the window of the limo. "He should have just given them to me."

"You're still healing, dear."

They arrived at the mansion. Sasuke had never been so glad to see the enormous beige structure before. He went immediately into his room to start on his assignments, despite protests from Mikoto. She later came in with a tray of onigiri and miso soup. Sasuke ate them as if he had been starved. Hospital food wasn't exactly his favorite.

Time flew by quickly, and before Sasuke knew it, all his assignments were done and his mother was calling him for dinner. He left his room and went down to the dining room, where Itachi and Fugaku were already seated. He smiled brightly.

"How are you, son?" Fugaku asked, genuinely concerned. Sasuke took his usual place beside Itachi.

"I'm alright. I was able to finish all my work."

"Very good."

The youngest Uchiha glanced at Itachi, who looked tired but gave a small smile the instant Sasuke's eyes met his. Sasuke still hadn't forgotten what had happened the night before, and he had a mind to ignore his brother, but he would never do so.

"Feeling better, Otouto?" Itachi inquired. Sasuke nodded, a warm, pleasant feeling spreading through his body.

Mikoto took her seat just as the maid brought out the food, all of them being Sasuke's favorites. The family ate afterwards, the only interruptions being Fugaku talking to Mikoto about work and whatnot. Sasuke hadn't felt so content in years. He should probably get sent to the hospital more often.

"Sasuke-kun," Mikoto said after everyone had fallen silent. Sasuke looked up and saw that she had a somber expression on her face. "What happened was dangerous. You shouldn't play that sport anymore."

Sasuke's reaction was immediate. "Okaasan! It was just a one-time thing. I'll be careful from now on!" He didn't want to have to drop out. He thrived on sports. Not only was he good at them, but that was where he made his strongest bonds. He couldn't throw all that away just because of some stupid team.

"That was just a pre-season game, and look what happened to you!"

"Anata, don't be so harsh," Fugaku tried to reason.

"No!" Mikoto replied adamantly. "Sasuke-kun, you really scared me. You scared all of us. There was blood everywhere and you have five stitches! You cannot say this isn't a big deal." Sasuke closed his mouth when he saw his mother's eyes well with tears. No one said anything.

"I can't just quit, Okaasan," Sasuke said after a while. "Please let me play! After what the Cobras just pulled, they will be closely monitored. If it makes you feel better, I'll sit out on every game we have against them." He turned on his big, puppy eyes, the ones he had learned from Naruto. Mikoto looked unconvinced but sighed in defeat after a long pause. He inwardly smiled in triumph.

"Fugaku!" she tried for backup. Her husband gave her an innocent look. She looked to Itachi, knowing that if he agreed with her, then Sasuke would definitely quit. He frowned in disapproval, but said nothing. Mikoto turned back to Sasuke. "Fine, but one more scratch…."

"One more scratch," Sasuke agreed. He just hoped it wouldn't be anywhere visible, though if she asked Itachi, she'd probably find out about it.

After dinner, Sasuke returned to his room to get his things ready for the next day. He was putting his folders in his bag when someone knocked on his door. Itachi entered.

"Hey, Aniki," Sasuke greeted, still bent over his book bag. It was annoying because the wrapping around his head kept his bangs pressed against his face. He brushed them aside.

"Okaasan said to help you clean your stitches. Go ahead and shower. Be careful when you wash your hair."

Sasuke nodded. He hadn't taken a much needed bath yet because of "doctor's orders". After fixing his school supplies, he disappeared into his bathroom with a change of boxers and a thin t-shirt. He unraveled the gauze and pushed his bangs back to get a better look at his wound in the mirror. It was ugly, to say the least. The black string held his skin together, which was dark purple from bruising. He quickly jumped in the shower and cleaned himself as thoroughly as he could, careful to avoid agitating his bruises and scratches. Once he was done, he dried off and dressed himself. Itachi was still waiting patiently on his bed.

"How was work?" Sasuke asked as he sat beside his brother. Itachi opened the first aid kit on his other side and turned to face Sasuke.

"Same. I'm leaving tonight to get back to class."

Sasuke couldn't fight the pout that crossed his face even if he wanted to. "The weekend's almost here. You can afford to skip one day."

Itachi chuckled. His gentle, nimble hands brushed Sasuke's hair back and tucked it behind his ear. "I've already missed two days, Otouto. Otousan will be angry." Sasuke continued to pout as Itachi used a cotton swab dipped in iodine to pat his wound. He deliberately winced. Itachi stopped. "Am I hurting you too much?" he asked worriedly. Sasuke fought the urge to smile.

"No, not too much," he replied, some of his happiness leaking through. Itachi saw right through him and pinched him on the thigh, right over a large bruise. Sasuke whimpered. "Oww!"

"Quit being a baby." Itachi resumed his previous ministrations, careful not to agitate anything. Sasuke closed his eyes and concentrated on Itachi's touch, on Itachi's cool breath as if swept over his cheek. His brother was laving attention on him, leaving him inexplicably happy. Itachi pulled away all too soon.

"There." He blew on the stitches and stole a kiss on Sasuke's forehead. Sasuke opened his eyes and gave a half-hearted glare.

"Aniki…." He grumbled. Itachi just smiled, but his expression turned serious.

"Okaasan was right when she said we were all worried. I would have killed that boy."

Sasuke's eyes widened, both moved and frightened by his brother's words. Itachi's eyes reflected so much anger, similar to the night he had seen all of Sasuke's hurts. Sasuke suddenly threw his arms around Itachi and held him close. He buried his nose in Itachi's button-down shirt and inhaled cologne and Itachi's distinct scent. His love for his brother intensified just then. The change so was exponential that his chest ached and his eyes burned. Itachi returned the embrace but held him tighter, pulled him closer, and inhaled deeper. Sasuke never wanted him to let go.

"I don't ever want to see you hurt, do you understand me?" Itachi asked, his hot mouth moving against Sasuke's neck. Sasuke could only nod, his throat suddenly too tight to form any words. "I love you so much. So much, Sasuke."

Sasuke hoped that Itachi could understand that he felt the same way. He finally broke out in sobs, overjoyed yet also very sad. The bond that they had was so strong, stronger than any of the others they currently had or will establish in the future. Their bond's links were pure gold, reinforced with titanium and brotherhood and friendship and love. This was what he had been feeling for Itachi all along, suddenly realized in this moment. Itachi was his brother, the person he would run to at the ending of the world, and he could never have romantic feelings for him.

He knew it was the same for Itachi.

--- ---

The next day at school, everyone practically fawned over Sasuke. His peers were asking him the same questions over and over again, and his teachers insisted that he turn in his assignments in Monday, even as he had them in his hands. But despite everything, Sasuke was glad to be back.

He hadn't seen Gaara, Kiba, or Naruto. He hoped Sarutobi-sensei was being lenient on them, but he knew the old man was being lenient because the suspension was only for three days. Sasuke would be able to see them on Monday. He knew he should have called his dobe best friend to tell him that he had been discharged, but he had been too tired the night before.

The next time he saw Neji was during lunch. As Sasuke was taking his usual seat, the Hyuuga came over and sat across from him, his bento in hand. They had never sat together before, at least not so close. Sasuke swore he heard whispers, but they were all white noise to him when Neji started speaking.

"You shouldn't have come to school today," the older boy said, concern lacing his voice. Sasuke chuckled.

"No chance. I don't want to fall behind." Sasuke hadn't wanted to admit that part of his reason for coming to school was to see him. Neji gave a wry smile.

"You're at the top of your class."

"I know, but that Sakura girl is catching up." It was a lame excuse. Sakura's GPA was one full point behind his. She couldn't catch up even if he missed two weeks of school.

"I doubt it," Neji replied. After a pause, "I'm glad you're alright."

That made Sasuke blush, though he wasn't too sure on why. "Thanks. I heard what you did for me."

"What else would I have done?"

Join the fight? Leaving him bleeding all over the court? Anything but hold him. "That's true, I guess." Sasuke turned his attention to the bento his mother had made him. Neji started eating as well.

The silence that ensued was comfortable. Sasuke had no intentions of breaking it. Instead, he kept sneaking glances at the pale-eyed boy, who chewed eat bite delicately with a grace that rivaled Itachi's. Neji suddenly looked up and their eyes met.

"About this weekend," Neji began hesitantly, almost shyly, "you should rest up. We'll watch the movie some other time."

"I want to go out." Neji's eyes widened ever so slightly, and Sasuke quickly clarified, "What I meant was, being cooped up in the hospital was bad enough. I don't want to stay home and have my mother bother me every hour."

Neji smiled. "If that's the case, then what about tomorrow night? We can meet at the theaters at the mall. Maybe even get something to eat before the show."

"That sounds good. Call me later." Because they were in Student Council, they knew each other's phone numbers, but their calls were strictly for business. Sasuke supposed that was going to change now, not that he minded.


Lunch ended soon after, and both boys went their separate ways.

--- ---

After school, Sasuke went to visit the library, where most in-school suspensions were spent. He immediately saw Naruto grumbling as he reorganized the periodicals. Sasuke approached him from behind.

"Working hard, usurakontachi?"

Naruto turned with a grin and practically pounced on Sasuke. "Sasuke-teme! You're out of the hospital."


The blond released him and stood back. He gently brushed Sasuke's bangs back to take a look at the stitches. Naruto frowned. "I should have punched that dipshit harder."

"He's been through enough," Sasuke said, sympathizing with Tokoro. With Gaara and Itachi after his blood, Sasuke figured the boy wouldn't last long; the last thing the Cobra needed was a furious blond.

"Not nearly," Naruto grumbled darkly.

"What time are you allowed to go home?"


"Come find me in the gym. I'll take you home."

"Okay. See you."

Sasuke waved and walked off. He caught a flash of red by the literature section and stopped to watch Gaara for a while. The redhead appeared to be unhappy, more than usual. As if sensing someone's eyes on him, he turned his head and caught sight of Sasuke. They both nodded at each other before Sasuke took his leave to the gym.

Anko was ecstatic to see Sasuke, though she berated him for coming to practice, as he had his gym bag and all. The whole team stopped what they were doing to watch as Sasuke tried to explain that he felt fine, and if he didn't practice then he'd lose whatever skills he had. Anko looked unconvinced and banished him from the court. He sat on the bleachers with a pout.

"Don't you dare give me that look," the female coach said. Sasuke cooled his features, mildly horrified that he had made such an undignified expression.

"What look?" he retorted defensively. He saw Neji smile.

Anko ignored him and yelled at the team to continue the scrimmage. Their first official game would be on Tuesday, after all.

Sasuke watched from the sidelines, his mind occasionally wandering. He thought first about Gaara's parting words in the hospital. What did he mean by them? Is that what people did when someone was injured: fight? Or was it that people defended the person they cared about, in the form on vengeance? Itachi's reaction had been natural – it was what family did. Gaara wasn't family, but he did care for Sasuke, if Naruto's words were anything to go by. Or was he simply backing up Itachi? Sasuke was confused, though a deeper part of him knew the answer. Gaara had fought for him because he cared, as did Itachi and Naruto. Kiba was just known to have a bad temper and was also one of Naruto's good friends. Neji had taken care of him, so he must have had the same reason as Gaara….

The more Sasuke thought about Gaara, the more he realized that he didn't dislike him as much anymore. So their families had differences. Itachi was dating him, so that must mean something about Gaara's character. But recently, it seemed like the two fought more than had sex. Sasuke remembered how he felt at their last argument and found that he didn't like it at all. Perhaps he could talk to Gaara or Itachi about it, maybe help them get back together. He didn't want to see either of them alone. Though he hadn't wanted to admit it, Gaara and Itachi looked good with each other. Their personalities had transformed during their relationship. The change was subtle, but obvious. Back at the restaurant, they had seemed like a real couple – something that could develop, and probably had, beyond physical attraction.

He had liked the peace then. Even though he had been too aroused to remember the exact atmosphere, Sasuke could still recall the overall feelings of comfort at the restaurant. If they were substituting each other for Sasuke, he had a feeling that would change. Perhaps it already had. Perhaps their falling out was due to complex emotions forming between them. Sasuke and Itachi already understood each other. All that was left was Gaara.

Sasuke's eyes shifted to Neji. Aesthetically watching from the sidelines, Sasuke could perfectly see the natural grace that came with the Hyuuga. He moved effortlessly, beautifully. Sasuke's perception of Neji wasn't clouded by rivalry anymore. He saw someone who had a good soul, who was romantic and considerate. Sasuke wanted to be on the court with him, but he didn't need to. They were going to spend time together, away from everyone else.

"Are you paying attention? You'll need to learn this new play." Anko's voice cut through Sasuke's musings. He turned to her with a slight blush.

"I see it." No he didn't.

"We'll have practice on Monday. Naruto, Gaara, and Kiba will be able to join us then. I can't believe those idiots lost their temper, but it's understandable."

"Is it?"

Anko smiled. "I would have throttled Orochimaru for setting that kid up to knock you out of commission, but then I probably would've been fired, and I need to think about the future, too."

Shortly afterwards, Anko let the boys take a much needed break. They practically rejoiced before getting a drink or simply falling onto the court. Sasuke checked the time on his cell phone. It was already four thirty.

"You should be at home," Neji said. Sasuke looked up at him, trying not to notice the way sweat fell down his – now – naked torso in sexy rivulets. It was difficult to keep his eyes trained on Neji's face.

"Anko-chan wanted me to learn today's plays," he said in half-truth.

"I could have taught them to you later."

"That's true." Images of Neji guiding/molesting him on a secluded court ran rampant through his mind, and he inwardly cursed.

"I'm here now!" a loud voice rang out, blissfully interrupting Sasuke's thoughts. Sasuke turned to Naruto just as the blond was getting chewed out by Anko for the fiftieth time. He had to smile.

--- ---

The three boys walked to Sasuke's car. Naruto was talking to the oldest boy about the plays the team had gone over in the past few days. Neji was nice enough to explain all of them with Naruto nodding periodically. It amazed Sasuke how the blond could be so good at grasping game play, but never Algebra II.

"Let's go now, dobe," Sasuke said after a while. They had stopped at his car three minutes ago. Neji looked apologetic and Naruto just stuck his tongue out as he walked to the passenger side.

"So," Neji said, "I'll call you?"

Sasuke saw the blush on Neji's cheeks, even as the sun was going down. Never before would he have considered his 'rival' to be the bashful type, but apparently, he was. It made Sasuke's cheeks heat up as well. What the hell was wrong with him?

"Yeah," he replied. "It's always on."

Neji waved at him and Naruto as he left. Sasuke heard a snicker and turned to see Naruto, who was resting his arms on the roof of his car, and therefore, had heard everything. Sasuke scowled, though the affect was ruined by his darkening blush.

"Heehee, Sasukaaaay!" Naruto sang teasingly.

"Sh-shut up." Sasuke quickly got into the driver's seat. Naruto climbed in after him.

"Ne, I think it's cute." At Sasuke's surprised expression, Naruto grinned. "He's a good guy. And he really likes you."

Sasuke distracted himself by starting his car. "What makes you say that?" he asked in feigned nonchalance. Inside, he was dying to know. He wanted to hear why and how much. He wanted the reassurance from Naruto, who seemed to know everyone better than they knew themselves.

"You've never felt his eyes on you? Sometimes, when I catch him looking, he has this sad expression on his face." Naruto's voice fell. "The same look I had before I met you, teme."

Sasuke's grip loosened on the wheel as he glanced over at Naruto, who was staring at his hands. He remembered Naruto's somber expressions when he wasn't hiding them behind his smiles and boisterous laughter. The blond had constantly been picked on and shoved into lockers and ignored by teachers who were too stupid to see beyond social status. Naruto was beautiful; he was energetic and sweet. Sasuke was glad he had seen him for who he truly was.

It was hard to believe that Neji looked like that, too. He had a well known name, a good family with a high reputation. In their rivalry, Sasuke had never seen the Hyuuga look anything less than proud. Why would he have the same eyes as Naruto? Perhaps it was because despite his family name and upbringing he was lonely – wanted love and recognition from someone he cared about. Sasuke realized that it must have been him all along.

"So you have me, dobe," Sasuke said. "You don't have to look that way anymore."

Naruto nodded and smiled at him. "That's right."

They drove to Naruto's house. After Naruto left, Sasuke was alone with his thoughts and wondered if Gaara ever felt the same way Neji did. Perhaps, he decided. That was why Gaara and Itachi should be together.

--- ---

Neji called him in the afternoon, just as Sasuke was researching more for the government project. They decided to catch the eight thirty showing, but meet up at seven for dinner. He told his mom he wouldn't be home for dinner because he was going out with some friends. She asked for Naruto to come over the next day, to which Sasuke agreed.

Thirty minutes before leaving and Sasuke was stuck on what to wear. He had formal clothes, informal clothes, and stuff to wear around the house. It would be too much trouble to call Neji and ask what he was wearing, and the last time he checked, that was something that real couples did. He finally decided on black jeans and a dark blue button down. Itachi had once told him that the latter color brought out the blue tint in his hair.

When he went to the mall, Neji was already waiting outside the cinema. Sasuke slowed in his steps to admire him from afar, as several groups of girls were already doing. Neji was leaning against a pillar, his pale eyes watching something that had caught his interest. His hair was half tied, the long, silky tresses cascading his back and shoulders. He wore a white polo underneath a three-quarter length leather jacket and black slacks. He looked like a model.

Neji's eyes suddenly swiveled to his, and he smiled, his white, straight teeth almost blinding. Sasuke gave a small smile in return as they simultaneously closed the distance between them.

"Were you waiting long?" Sasuke asked. Neji shook his head.

"No. Just got here."

They went into the mall and headed for the food court. Both went their separate ways to get what they wanted to eat, and Sasuke ended up finishing first. He found a seat at an area away from most of the crowd. Neji spotted him and came over. He sat across from him on the four-seat table.

A few moments passed in silence, but when Neji started speaking Sasuke listened attentively and responded in kind. He wasn't the social type; the only people he spoke willingly to were Itachi and Naruto, but speaking with Neji felt just as comfortable and familiar.

Afterwards, they headed into the movie. They chose a seat in the back only because they disliked having to sit and watch at an uncomfortable angle in the front. The cinema was hardly packed with several people scattered about the theater. Sasuke shifted in his seat as the pre-movie advertisements flashed through the screen. Neji looked at him.

"You don't like it here?"

"No. It's fine." Truth was, the last time Sasuke had gone to the movies was with Naruto and his friends a month ago, and the atmosphere was completely different. For one, he wasn't alone with someone on…on a date. They hadn't established this as a date, but it sure felt like one. After all, Neji liked him, and Sasuke liked him, too.

The lights dimmed and the previews started. Sasuke became more comfortable in the darkness and allowed his shoulder to lean into Neji's. If the older boy noticed, he didn't say anything, but he did lean in as well.

--- ---

Neji walked Sasuke to the latter's car, even though his was in the opposite direction. After the movie, they had talked about the plotline and the twist at the ending. Neji had said he was glad Sasuke liked it; he hadn't wanted the Uchiha to have a bad time with him. Sasuke had wanted to say that he couldn't possibly have thought otherwise, but that was being too forward.

"We should do this again sometime," Neji suggested, hopeful. Sasuke took out his keys and started at them for a while, trying to fight back a blush.

"Sure. That would be nice." He looked up and saw Neji hesitate. The older boy licked his lips, a move that had Sasuke in a slight daze. He had only kissed him that one time back at the restaurant and suddenly had the urge to lean in and capture Neji's taste again. Sasuke was quickly brought out of his reverie.

"How is your head? Is it feeling any better?"

Sasuke nodded. He jumped slightly when a pale, slender hand came up to brush his bangs back. The touch was warm and comforting. Would turning into the touch be too forward? His pride seemed to think so, and he held back. "It bothers me when I sleep."

"My mother used to say that a kiss would make hurts feel better." Sasuke barely had time to react when Neji gently laid his lips on Sasuke's wounded temple. The caress was light and fleeting. Sasuke moaned at the sensation, his temple throbbing almost painfully at the feathery stimulation. Neji's eyes widened in alarm. "I'm sorry. Did that hurt?"

"No." Sasuke tilted his head up and pressed his lips against Neji's. He heard the older boy make a sound of surprise and ignored it in favor of grabbing him by the collar and pulling him closer. That seemed to have done something to Neji, who opened his mouth and started to ravish Sasuke with lips, teeth, and tongue. Sasuke opened his mouth with a deep groan. Neji's tongue wasted no time in delving in and reacquainting himself with the taste he had dreamt about for months.

Sasuke's head spun at the sudden onslaught, and he fell back against his car. Neji pushed him into it, aligning their bodies. Sasuke moaned again, louder, as Neji wedged a knee between his thighs and started circling his hips. Their half hard erections ground against each other in the delicious friction, leaving Sasuke panting and silently asking for more. He spread his legs and thrust his hips up. Neji groaned and brought one hand down to cup him through his jeans. Sasuke was instantly hard.

"I've been thinking about you for so long," Neji whispered against Sasuke's lips. His breath was hot. Sasuke whimpered as Neji's fingers worked at him. "I've…been…." Neji's voice faded as he moved down to Sasuke's neck, which arched underneath him, as if offering itself. Neji took the opportunity to latch his mouth onto the pale flash. Sasuke gave a soft cry. His body was on fire. Every part of his body that was in contact with Neji's was burning with desire, and he wanted to take off everything…take off everything and have Neji – .

Sasuke's thoughts halted as he felt his lower stomach coiling in the warnings of orgasm. He pushed Neji away, panting heavily to regain control of himself. Neji stepped back, his eyes and body clearly screaming that they wanted Sasuke, but understood that the two of them had gone too far. Sasuke couldn't help but think that Neji was so beautiful with his cheeks flushed and his lips moist and parted to suck in much needed air. His hair was disheveled from where Sasuke and gripped onto it. He looked as if he had been on his way to completion as well.

The cold, night breeze helped to calm them. They fixed their clothing as best as they could. Sasuke's fingers continued to tremble as he fixed his collar. Hs fingers brushed against the skin that Neji had been sucking on. Neji caught the action and gave a sly smile.

"You should keep that covered for a few days," he said huskily. Sasuke colored a brilliant shade of red.

"Whatever," he mumbled. But in the deepest part of him, he wanted to flaunt it. What was this side of him that wanted to do that, that had wanted Neji to bend him over the car in a public parking lot? His hormones were getting back at him and with a vengeance for all the repression it had undergone, Sasuke grimly decided.

"Well, we should go," Neji said. "See you on Monday." Sasuke gave him a small, warm smile.

"Good night."

"Good night." The Hyuuga winked at him before leaving. Sasuke grumbled as he felt his member stir, not having completely gone down.

Along with Naruto, Itachi, and Gaara, who were on the list of 'Those Who Will Kill Sasuke Before He's Twenty', was the new name of Hyuuga Neji.

--- ---

The next school day had come quickly. Naruto, Gaara, and Kiba were back in class, much to Sasuke's relief, though the blond was as annoying as ever. At second period Calculus, Sasuke felt eyes on his back. He knew a pair belonged to Neji. The other was Gaara's. Sasuke ignored the longing gazes of other girls.

When the class ended for morning break, Sasuke sought out Gaara, who never faltered in taking his time to put away his things. Mamu-sensei had stepped out for a moment, leaving them alone. Gaara looked up once Sasuke was close.

"Yes, Uchiha?" Gaara asked rather impatiently. Sasuke almost felt discouraged.

"I was wondering if you had spoken to Itachi recently." He didn't fail to notice how Gaara's shoulder's stiffened as he mentioned his brother.

"No," was the curt reply. Sasuke nodded.

"Listen, about what happened last Tuesday…." Sasuke felt Gaara's eyes on him as he studied the desk between them. "I shouldn't thank you for fighting, but I should thank you for defending me. I know we aren't friends, but with everything that has happened…."


"Do you really like Itachi?" Sasuke asked in a rush. He looked up for a reaction. Gaara gave none, but he looked torn.

"I really like you."

Sasuke was at a loss just then. "But, I don't feel the same way."

"I know." Gaara knew? Sasuke searched his green eyes. They looked saddened and disappointed. "You never liked me."

"That's not true." Sasuke did like him. He respected him. "I just don't like you in the way you want me to. But…" He bit his lip. It pained Sasuke to say it. "My brother can."

Gaara gave a derisive snort. "Not likely. We were always after the same person."

Suddenly, everything made sense to Sasuke, and Naruto's infinite wisdom returned to him. Itachi and Gaara had been substituting each other for him. Sasuke shook his head. "Maybe so, but you can't tell me you've always thought about me." When you were with Itachi.

Gaara looked away. Sasuke knew his answer.

--- ---

His mother told him that there would be an important function on the coming Saturday. Sasuke was honestly happy, as that meant he could see Itachi and have him and Gaara in the same room.

"Okaasan," he asked over dinner, after she had told him the news, "Otousan, can we bring Naruto?"

Fugaku stopped chewing for a moment, and Mikoto blinked in surprise. Sasuke waited with bated breath for an answer. There were many political reasons as to why Naruto shouldn't go, but Sasuke's main defense would be that it was Naruto's birthright, regardless if anyone disapproved of it. Naruto was an Uzumaki.

"Honey, why do you ask again now?" Mikoto questioned softly. "He only has three more years, when he becomes an adult."

"I don't want him to wait that long."

"Many families will be upset," Fugaku added thoughtfully. "And he still doesn't know, yes?"

"Yes, but, if only we could tell him –."

"It's not our place," replied his mother.

"Then we won't. We can bring other guests, right? He's just one more."

"Sasuke, please."

"That can't be an issue right now," said his father.

Sasuke faltered. He wanted Naruto there because he was his best friend and because he should be there. Sasuke had asked them before if they could bring him, but the answers were always the same. He couldn't stand it.

"Honey, you know I love Naruto, but it's not his time yet. Until then, we can't do anything."

Right, they couldn't do anything and they were one of the most influential families in Japan. Sasuke felt his eyes burn.

--- ---

Itachi arrived late Friday night. Sasuke greeted his weary brother with open arms. Itachi returned the embrace then looked at Sasuke's temple. The younger boy resisted the urge to pout.

"The stitches are coming out next week," Sasuke said. "Quit fretting."

"I can't help it if I'm concerned about you. Now let me go to sleep. I'm exhausted."

Sasuke followed Itachi up to the elder's room. Once they were there, Sasuke plopped down on the bed while Itachi changed out of his clothes.


Itachi gave him a look, as if saying, 'Don't you Aniki me.' "Yes, Otouto?" he asked warily.

"Can you get Okaasan and Otousan to agree to bring Naruto with us tomorrow?"

"You know that's out of my hands, Sasuke."

"But – ."

"Yes, I know, and if I had it my way, Naruto would have been going ever since he was your age. I try to do everything in my power to please you, Sasuke, but this something your niisan cannot control." Once Itachi had stripped down to his boxers, he slipped under the bed sheets. He turned over on his stomach and gazed at his brother, who looked as if he were in pain. Itachi could never stand that expression. "I am sorry, Otouto."

Sasuke hung his head. "It's alright." He had always had this notion that Itachi was invincible, and it was very true in most cases, but there were those very rare times where Itachi couldn't grant Sasuke's every wish. It just made him love Itachi even more knowing that his brother always tried to do anything and everything for him. That was why Sasuke had to return the favor somehow. "I know about you and Gaara," he said quietly. When no immediate response came, he met his brother's steady gaze. "Do you care about him, aniki?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Because…you can't be with someone like how you were with Gaara and not develop any feelings for him."

"So what are you trying to say?"

Sasuke vaguely wondered when he had become the person being questioned. "What I'm trying to say is that you and Gaara should work something out. It shouldn't be about me anymore."

Itachi didn't say anything. His eyes were slowly drifting shut. Sasuke wanted to hit him with a pillow but Itachi had probably had a long day. Besides, his brother wouldn't ignore him. He was sure Itachi would think about what he had said. With that in mind, Sasuke sat for a moment longer before shutting off the lights and softly closing the door on his way out.

The next day was spent with Naruto, where Sasuke told him everything about Neji and Gaara and Itachi. Naruto listened and offered advice. He was happy that his best friend had found someone.

"So you're going to date him?" Naruto asked over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

"I'm not sure if I'm ready for a boyfriend." The thought had crossed Sasuke's mind several times during the past week. His parents couldn't find out about it, of course, and he wasn't too sure about Itachi. His brother still didn't like the Hyuuga. Besides, Sasuke had never been in a relationship before, and he was clueless on what it would entail. There had to be romance and contact. Sasuke wasn't sure he would be very good at the romance part.

"I guess not. Not that I would know." Naruto hadn't dated either. Sasuke knew the blond liked Haruno Sakura, but he wished Naruto would just find someone else, preferably Hyuuga Hinata, who obviously had crush on him with the way she constantly watched him. She knew Naruto for what he truly was and liked him because of it. Sasuke idly wondered if they could be together. Thoughts of double-dating invaded his mind, and he almost physically swatted them away. It was as if he had everything planned out already.

"Hey, dating isn't everything, but if you'd like, maybe I can help you."

Naruto arched a dubious brow. "Oh? I thought you were the one needing help, teme."

"A double-date," Sasuke decided, despite his mind shouting protests. "Free up next Saturday, dobe."

Later that night, at around the time for the social dinner, Sasuke and his family got ready to leave. Sasuke was actually anxious and excited, the two feelings he didn't usually feel when going out in public. When Itachi caught him smiling in the limo he nudged him with his elbow.

"What has you so happy, Otouto?" he asked teasingly. Sasuke looked away from the window and shrugged at his older brother, his smile widening.

"You, Aniki."

Itachi sensed the sarcasm and poked Sasuke none too gently in the ribs. Sasuke whimpered, and Mikoto fondly told them to stop fighting.

The dinner was for the birthday of Chairman Yamanaka Inoichi. Sasuke wasn't too ecstatic about that, as he was a classmate's dad. Ino was one of girls that were infatuated with Sasuke. After greeting the host of the party with his family, Sasuke stuck close to Itachi like he usually did and searched for a certain redhead. He was finally spotted with Temari and Nara Shikamaru, whose family oversaw the largest wildlife reservations. Sasuke left his brother and approached them.

"Hey, if it isn't Uchiha," Shikamaru said in his usual bored drawl. He was usually only energetic in the courts and on the fields.

"Ah, Sasuke-kun! You look well," Temari said, practically leering at him. Shikamaru rolled his dark brown eyes. Gaara remained unfazed, well acquainted with his sister's behavior towards the youngest Uchiha.

"So do you," Sasuke replied truthfully. He looked at Gaara, his eyes meaningfully gazing into his, before nodding at Shikamaru and then leaving. His visit was only meant to alert Gaara that his family had arrived, namely Itachi.

He wandered aimlessly for a while, his journey only interrupted ten times by his parents' friends or flirtatious females. Sasuke didn't notice it yet, but his eyes kept scanning for a glimpse of Neji. He inadvertently caught sight of Hinata standing by a decorative fountain and approached her.

"Good evening, Hinata," he said. She looked up at him bashfully and unconsciously gripped the satin shawl about her shoulders.

"Good evening, S-Sasuke-kun," she replied shyly. "Neji-san is outside with L-Lee-san."

"I wanted to speak with you for a moment."

" Oh." Hinata smiled at him. "Sure."

"Are you doing anything this coming Saturday?" Sasuke asked. "Naruto and I wanted to spend time with you and Neji." It was mostly the truth; he wouldn't outright lie to the shy girl because Neji would kick his ass, and then Naruto would gladly finish the job. Besides, Hinata was too nice to be treated that way.

Hinata's face was on fire. "Eh? N-Naruto-kun? Um, Sasuke-kun, I-I don't think I c-could."

"Why? Are you busy?" Sasuke gave his cute, crestfallen expression, the one he always used on Itachi. Yes, he was pulling out the heavy artillery.

"N-No! It's just that…I wouldn't know w-what to do."

"Don't worry about it. Naruto is easy to please. He'll go for anything." He laughed when Hinata's blush became darker. Perhaps the Hyuuga family bred perverts. Sasuke found his own face heating up.

"You make him sound like a slut," came Neji's voice from behind him. Sasuke laughed again, and Neji chuckled. Hinata protested, truly embarrassed.

"Th-that's not nice!" she admonished.

"He's just joking," Sasuke said with a smile. He turned to Neji standing beside him. "I was telling Hinata that Naruto and I wanted to do something with the two of you next weekend."

"Sounds good to me," Neji replied. "What do you say, Hinata-sama?" He looked at her patiently.

Hinata looked between the two boys, and she must have noticed something because she smiled. Her face lit up with true happiness, and she nodded. "Y-yes! I would love to join you and Naruto-kun, Sasuke-kun."

"Great," Sasuke said with a smile. "Thanks, Hinata."

"Thank you." She bowed and left to her father and sister's side, still blushing.

"You know," Neji said after she disappeared into the crowd, "I've been meaning to tell you that you have a wonderful smile."

"Eh?" Sasuke asked intelligently, caught off guard. To say he was surprised was an understatement. Neji laughed.

"I said," he replied in a lower tone, "You have a wonderful smile. It makes me want to kiss you." To prove his point, he looked at Sasuke's lips. Sasuke blushed and cleared his throat.

"Th-that wouldn't be a good idea right now." The Uchiha felt like kicking himself for stuttering. Uchiha's don't stutter!

"I know," rejoined Neji, pulling back. "It's taking all of my will power to keep this distance."

Sasuke looked away, suddenly feeling bashful. Where was his pride, damn it? His ancestors were rolling in their graves.

He was saved from giving any sort of reply when Yamanaka Inoichi took the microphone. The lights dimmed as everyone started making their way towards their seats. Just as Sasuke was about to leave, Neji grabbed his elbow and stole a kiss, his soft lips meshing with Sasuke's. It was as quick as it had come, and before Sasuke could respond the older boy had vanished.

Sasuke felt dazed as he ambled to his family's table, which he didn't know the location of in the first place. Most people were in their places already. Just when he thought he was lost, he found Itachi walking off to the right. He jogged to catch up to him.

"Aniki," Sasuke said once he caught up to him. Itachi glanced at him with a smile.

"Where have you been, Otouto?

"Ah, around." Sasuke grabbed onto a piece of Itachi's jacket as they weaved through the tables.

"I see. Stay close."

They eventually took their seats at a table shared with the Haruno family. Sasuke nearly groaned when Sakura noticed him and waved enthusiastically. He would have ignored her if their parents hadn't been around.

Inoichi thanked everyone for coming to his 45th birthday. After a brief introduction and a surprise movie on his life made by his wife and children, the lights brightened and the tables opened up for dinner. The adults got up first, leaving Sasuke alone with Sakura.

"Ne, Sasuke-kun, how are you doing?" Sakura asked sweetly.

"I'm alright," he replied disinterestedly, idly toying with his silverware.

"That's good to hear."

Several moments passed in silence. The band on stage started out by playing classical music first, filling the ballroom with masterpieces of different countries. Sakura then began to tell a story of what had happened to her the day before and Sasuke zoned out.

Soon, their parents returned with food, and Sasuke gladly left his seat to the dwindling line. He stood behind Shikamaru, who had his hands in his pockets and was glaring at the windows.

"I hate gravity," the other boy mumbled. Sasuke shook his head.

He eventually got his food and sat at the table to eat. When he was done he looked around the room and found that Neji wasn't sitting too far from him – two tables, to be exact. He couldn't risk a smile or a wave. Neji seemed to understand. They looked away at the same time, though Neji glanced at him again.

"Hey, you should try this chocolate cake," Sakura said, licking her lips and gesturing to the dark brown monstrosity before her. Sasuke almost flinched, but again, their parents were around.

"No thanks." Geez, didn't she know that he hated chocolate?

"How about this?" Itachi asked, pushing his plate between them. It was a strawberry cheesecake square, something that Sasuke enjoyed immensely despite his 'I hate sugar' attitude. Itachi sucked at the tips of his thumb and forefinger to clean off the crumbs. Sasuke vaguely saw out of the corner of his eye that Sakura was drooling.

"Thanks, Aniki." Sasuke took the dessert with trembling fingers and bit into it. Itachi smirked, causing Sasuke to glower. Why did his Oniisan always tease him?


The dance floor opened with pop music, the first ones to dance being Inoichi and his daughter Ino. The ballroom erupted with laughter and people soon joined them.

"Wanna dance?" Sakura asked Sasuke once she had gathered herself together. Sasuke arched a brow.

"I don't really…." He felt his brother nudge his leg and looked past him to his mother, who was using one of her coercive expressions. "I mean…sure."

Sakura suppressed a squeal as she shot up from her seat and took his arm. Sasuke gave his brother a pleading look, one that Itachi responded with a smirk.

Sasuke didn't know why his mother pushed him to be closer to Sakura. He really hoped his parents wouldn't actually arrange something for him in the future. If that were to happen, he would gladly run away…or commit suicide.

The dance floor was crowded, and Sakura insisted that they make their way into the center. Sasuke felt all the moving bodies against him and cringed. He usually liked to watch, not participate. He hoped his mother would cook him his favorite meal everyday for the next 2 months.

Sakura was a pretty good dancer, but she insisted on grinding against him. Sasuke kept moving away, but it had come to the point where he had bumped into someone else. Now he was practically rubbing against two bodies. Sasuke needed alcohol. He wasn't a habitual drinker, but it did help to loosen him up.

"Wait, I'll be back," he told Sakura, who nodded and let herself be stolen away by her best friend. Sasuke made his way out of the mass of bodies and breathed in the cooler air with relief. He found Itachi by the open bar and took his glass from his hand. Itachi barely had time to protest before Sasuke swallowed the scotch in one gulp.

"Sasuke…." Itachi warned.

"Ugh." Sasuke set the glass on the counter, his throat burning.

"You've never had hard liquor before," his brother said. "You're going to get wasted."

"That's just what I need." Sasuke felt his face warming up and put his cool hand against his cheek. The contrast was huge, as if he had a fever. Itachi touched his other cheek. Sasuke whimpered.

"Hm." Itachi's fingers fell away in a caress. "Well, have fun then." Sasuke gaped at him.


"Go and dance," Itachi said, nodding towards the dance floor. Sasuke gave him an uncertain look, but Itachi gently pushed him forward. "I'll watch you. Here, give me your jacket." The younger sibling obeyed without protest.

Sasuke began to feel buzzed as he made his way back to the moving crowd. He was almost there when Temari grabbed his hand and led into the middle. Sasuke followed willingly.

Temari must have been a stripper in her past life. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders, bent a leg between his thighs, and constantly rolled her hips. Sasuke put his hands on her waist and moved with her, letting the music control his body.

Several songs passed this way until he felt someone behind him. He ground back without even considering who it was and heard a deep moan. Long, black hair spilled over his shoulder and warm hands gripped his hips. Temari changed her rhythm to meet that of the person behind him.

"I couldn't resist."

Sasuke nearly melted at the words whispered huskily into his ear. He raised his hands to the back of Neji's neck and pulled him down for a kiss. Neji kissed back hungrily, his hips thrusting and grinding against Sasuke's ass. Sasuke groaned as he felt something hard pressing into him, and he could smell Neji's expensive cologne. They broke the kiss quickly, not wanting to make what they were doing too obvious, and Neji quickly pulled away. Sasuke whined as the warmth left his back. Temari brought his attention to her again.

"You two involved?" she asked so that no one else could hear. Sasuke looked at her through half-lidded eyes, his face flushed pink from arousal, exertion, and alcohol.

"Yes," he replied immediately. "Yes." She needn't to have asked. He was sure she could clearly feel his erection on her thigh, not to mention that she had seen the little show they had put on.

"Well, he's very lucky."

"I'm lucky."

They danced for three more songs until Sasuke became too hot to continue; sweat was practically rolling down every inch of his body. He swore the dance floor was worse than the ones at school dances, but he wouldn't really know. Temari helped him off, as he was stumbling slightly. He felt more than buzzed, and more like tipsy. Temari let him sit on a nearby chair and went to 'freshen up.' Sasuke said he wanted to join her. The blond young woman laughed and called a waiter to give him a glass of water before leaving. Sasuke sat back in the chair.

"Shit," he moaned.

"What's the matter?" Neji asked, taking a seat beside him. "Are you uncomfortable?"

Sasuke glared at him. "Hell yes, you tease." His erection had faded sometime ago, but his member still throbbed. He still had the traces of Neji's scent on his neck.

"I'm the tease? No, Sasuke." Neji's voice dropped. Sasuke had to lean in to hear him. "I had to jerk off in the bathroom because of you."

"Why didn't you take me with you?" Sasuke asked, his cock jumping slightly. Neji chuckled.

"Maybe next time."

"You bet your ass."

Just then, the waiter came back with a glass of cold water. Sasuke took it and downed it quickly. The water refreshed his mouth, which had gotten dry sometime in the past thirty minutes. He put the empty glass on the table and looked up across the room. He saw both Gaara and Itachi step outside into the night.

--- ---

There might be 2 more chapters at the most.

Sorry for the long updates. Well, the final pairings are revealed. I lied about this story being Itachi/Sasuke/Gaara. I forgot what the me a year ago had planned.

Please review if you liked it. Thank you so much for reading. If there are any questions or criticism, please feel free to contact me!