Once again, I must thank all my beautiful reviewers for their comments. You guys are FAB-U-LOUS, and you keep me writing fanfiction instead of doing schoolwork, even when there's no profit in it for me. Yeah, that's devotion for you. Also, I must agree with what some of you commented on: it is amazing that Naruto can stay in character while spouting philosophical ideas about love. I'm also amazed at my ability to make several people lose their belief in it entirely OO. That was one by-product of my chapter that I didn't see coming… I guess it's a compliment.

Anyways, the yaoi begins in this chapter, so brace yourselves.

Disclaimer: This fic is, always and forever, dedicated to the magnificent Sora-chan, one of the best friends I've ever had, whom I shall love and cherish for the rest of my days.

Kishimoto-sensei is far more creative than I. He made it; I did not. I wish it could be otherwise, but…shit happens.

Habitual Infatuation .:. Chapter Three

Sasuke blinked. He stared at Naruto silently, as if expecting the boy to laugh at any moment and tell him the whole thing was a joke. The Uchiha boy waited, scrutinizing his teammate's face, but the laughter never came. Naruto just sat there quietly in his place across the campfire, staring into the crackling flames with a look in his sapphire eyes that made Sasuke's heart feel strange. He just looked so…unreachable. In that moment, Naruto was stuck on an island so far off in the distance there was no point in even trying to call out to him.

Sasuke started as he realized one of his hands had risen of its own accord, reaching out to the other shinobi. What do you think you're doing? This thought made his hand snap instantly down again. He didn't have an answer. By no means was Sasuke an affectionate person, but never before had he felt so drawn to the blonde boy who was his teammate. Naruto just looked so alone. Sasuke was reminded sharply of himself, ever since he'd lost his only family. For the first time, Sasuke began to realize how similar the two boys were. No family, no friends, no world outside of what they had made for themselves…. This was the life they were both confined to.

Yet somehow, they had both fought on despite all the odds, though in entirely different ways. Sasuke had chosen to isolate himself from the world, to cut off all ties and emotions that might come back to haunt him later, as his love for his family had. He'd convinced himself that he didn't need comfort from others. He didn't need their pity. He built walls around himself so high and thick, he wasn't certain he could bring them down even if he someday chose to. Naruto, on the other hand, had never been anything but the epitome of sunshine. Always laughing, always playing, always hopeful that tomorrow would be the greatest day ever. Even when he was shunned again and again, that dopey grin never left his face.

Sasuke began to feel a subtle tug of guilt in his stomach. While he had turned away from every hand that reached for him, Naruto had spent most of his life looking for even a single person who would do the same for him: accept him and love him in the same way Sasuke refused to be loved. How could I have been so selfish all this time? Naruto is seeking what I turn away from. I've even gone out of my way to discourage him. I've been blind…

It was then that a plan began to form in Sasuke's mind. He couldn't say what brought it on, or what mysterious force kept him following it until he was too deep to dig himself out, but the blueprints drew themselves so quickly in his mind it seemed as if he were being led by a divine force. He would have to prove to Naruto that love existed. He would make that idiot believe in it—give him hope for the future—and maybe someday he would find someone who would love him for who he was. Sasuke struggled against a lump that formed in his throat at the thought of Naruto someday falling in love with a woman and maybe getting married. This was just a chance to help his teammate, he told himself as he forcibly swallowed the lump. Nothing more.

The rest of the night was spent in contemplative silence. Eventually, when neither could think of a reason to stay awake any longer, they banked the campfire and piled together sweet-smelling ferns that were soft enough to cushion the hard ground beneath them. Long after both boys had climbed into their makeshift beds and closed their eyes, they lay awake, thinking about entirely different yet strikingly similar things.

The dawn of a new day slid soundlessly over Sasuke's closed eyes, waking him instantly. He'd woken at dawn every day for such a long time, it was conditioned in him now. The rising sun was always the first thing in his thoughts, and with it the determination to succeed that such a symbol filled him with daily. He glanced over at Naruto's bed and noted with satisfaction that the Kyuubi was not only sound asleep, but snoring with a vengeance. Perfect…

Sasuke rose from his bed and moved from the camp with the stealth of a black jungle cat. He had a few hours before Naruto would awaken in which to set up the first part of his plan. They were both still young and driven by hormones, so love was closely linked to lust in their age group. In order for Sasuke to make Naruto believe in love, he would have to seduce the boy first. It had taken him a surprisingly short amount of time to get past his initial aversion to the thought. He'd heard other people say that two males together was considered wrong, but he'd never bought into the concept himself. That, and he simply didn't care. If two boys wanted to sleep together, it wasn't hurting anyone else. Naruto, much as he acted like an idiot, was attractive enough to satisfy any other qualms Sasuke might have had about the matter.

The dark-haired boy had needed only a few additional minutes to come to the conclusion that seducing Naruto would be easy. He'd sent many a fangirl to her knees with a mere glance, so he knew he was at least handsome enough. And while he had no experience with actual seduction, he figured his intelligence would help him pick up the basics in time to incorporate them into his plan.

After that…well, Sasuke wasn't quite certain what he would do after that. Sex was easy enough to make happen, but as for the transition between sex and love…he couldn't even begin to understand what that would entail. Maybe it'll just happen naturally? He supposed it was possible.

Either way, he was already too determined to back out of his plan now. He'd spent the whole night thinking it up, and he wasn't about to let his own precious thoughts go to waste. He'd even thought of the perfect location to begin his plan: a lake he'd found during their training. Naruto and Sakura had been sparring together at the time, and Sasuke had wandered off to find some water. He'd locked the location of the lake away in his memory in case it proved useful later.

Now, he couldn't think of a better use for it.

Naruto stirred lightly in his sleep, reaching out for a steaming bowl of ramen that only existed in his dreams. "Mmm, tasty," he murmured, unaware of what an adorable picture he would have presented if anyone else had been in the clearing with him. His hair was tussled to golden perfection, and his cheeks were flushed slightly from sleeping so close to the banked embers of the fire.

In his mind's eye, the bowl of ramen was dancing just out of his reach. If he could only sit up and grab it…. He lurched up suddenly, unable to stop the will of his mind from making his body act. Naturally, he found no ramen when he stretched out his sleep-heavy arms and could only blink blearily and wonder what had happened to his delicious meal. His eyes drifted around the campsite as he struggled to recall where he was. He yawned with casual remembrance. "Oh, right, Kakashi-sensei left Sasuke and me here, and…" Suddenly, he stopped. He looked around again, slightly panicked. "Where's…teme?"

He got to his feet unsteadily, still blinking sleep from bright azure eyes. He couldn't see his teammate anywhere in the immediate area. He growled furiously. "If that bastard left me out here all by myself…" Naruto took off at a dead sprint, though he had no idea where he was going. His usual lack of forethought had led him to believe it was a good idea to tear the forest apart looking for Sasuke when he had no idea where the boy had gone. Actually, this was exactly what Sasuke was hoping Naruto would do.

As the blonde began to loudly scramble his way through the forest, shouting obscenities as he went, Sasuke was not only warned that the boy had woken up but was also able to keep a perfect tab on his location. He took this opportunity to put the final part of his plan into action. He'd been waiting at the pond for hours now, figuring out exactly the right way to use this scene to seduce Naruto. With a confident smirk, he began stripping off his clothes, already thinking extremely evil thoughts as he gauged how long he had until the Kyuubi appeared.

Naruto was completely oblivious to all this, of course, and continued his mad crash through the forest. It was only through sheer blind luck that his rampage didn't lead him right past the place where Sasuke was waiting. But, as fate would have it, Naruto heard splashing water nearby and made a beeline straight for the lake, crashing haphazardly through the underbrush. "Sasuke, you stupid bastard, where have you…!" The blonde stopped short with his mouth hanging wide open.

There was Sasuke.

In the water.

Naked.

Naturally, this wasn't the first time Naruto had seen his teammate bathing or changing clothes, but this occasion was somehow different. Sasuke was standing under a low cliff edge where water from a river fell over in a shimmering cascade to pool in the lake below. The water tumbled around him like thousands of streaming diamonds, making his skin glow. His wet hair looked like pure ink against porcelain flesh, dotted with tiny star-like water droplets. His eyes were closed with his chin titled up to meet the light flow, and Naruto noticed that his face looked so peaceful he could have been asleep.

And then…a very bad thing happened. Naruto's eyes slid down to look at his teammate's body.

He shivered slightly as an unknown wave of feelings suddenly crashed through him. His cheeks flared up with heat, as did several other places in his body, and a tingling ran down the length of his spine. He'd never seen Sasuke look so beautiful before. His skin was as white and smooth as ivory, pulled taut across perfectly toned muscles. His arms flexed as he ran nimble fingers through his darker-than-dark hair, and Naruto was suddenly wondering what those fingers would feel like running through his own hair…over his body…

Naruto gasped and stumbled back, falling in a heap on the floor of the underbrush he'd just cleared. Thank God Sasuke hadn't seen him staring like that…. Why was he staring like that? Naruto shifted uncomfortably, his pants suddenly feeling much too tight. His heart was pounding so fast he was sure Sasuke could hear it. Hell, he bet Kakashi-sensei could hear it, wherever he was. He squeezed his blue eyes tightly closed, whispering to himself, "Get a grip, Naruto. You have to calm down." Unfortunately, closing his eyes only served to bring a mental image of naked Sasuke straight to the forefront of his mind. Naruto let out a low moan, unable to stop himself, and froze as a voice suddenly called out, "Hey, dobe, what are you doing in the bushes?"

Shit! He's seen me! Naruto sprang to his feet, blushing furiously and scratching his head as he stepped out of the bushes.

"I tripped while I was looking for you," Naruto covered lamely, as his mouth split into a wide grin.

Sasuke's eyes roved quietly down Naruto's form for a moment, as if searching for some sign of a lie, but then he seemed to accept this explanation. The dark-haired boy turned away and continued bathing himself, calling over his shoulder, "Come get a bath. You haven't had one in days." Naruto let out a sigh of relief and began to strip off his clothes, thinking he'd managed to cover himself well. What he didn't see was the smirk Sasuke wore the second he turned away from the blonde. Everything was going exactly as he'd planned.

Sasuke could practically smell Naruto's arousal it was so obvious. The blonde was flustered easily, but not that easily. His cheeks had been flushed with a delicious pink color that made Sasuke want to swoon. The way his blue eyes had darted uncertainly down the Uchiha boy's naked form…so innocent and yet clouded with lust…. If Sasuke hadn't been so in control of himself, he might have taken the Kyuubi right then and there on the ground. Wait until the time is right, he reminded himself, suddenly tempted to do just that. His quest to seduce Naruto had abruptly become more than just a desire to teach the boy a lesson. He was curious himself as to how soft that tan skin was, how sweet those full lips were, how strong those legs would feel as they wrapped around his waist….

Sasuke quickly halted his train of thought before it carried him off into a dangerous place. It wouldn't do to become aroused in a way even dense Naruto could see, or he might scare the tentative boy off. Sasuke bit his lower lip, keeping his face turned carefully away from the stripping Naruto on the shore so as to keep himself from getting anymore naughty ideas. He heard a splash behind him a moment later but kept his face carefully turned away. Naruto would have to come to him first before this would work.

Sasuke's dark eyes closed as he used his chakra to feel for the other boy. The waterfall was on the other side of the lake, so Naruto would have to swim the length of it to reach him. The Uchiha boy could feel Naruto moving closer, but he was going at a painfully slow speed, hesitant. Sasuke did not move except to continue bathing. He reminded himself again and again to have patience, but the anticipation in the air was nearly tangible. With every stroke Naruto took, Sasuke found it harder and harder to keep himself from shivering. It was shocking to him how quickly he had developed a physical attraction to the boy. It was as if his own determination to carry out his plan had also made him determined to enjoy himself in the process. Whatever had caused it, he knew he didn't want it to stop.

Sasuke's body quivered ever so slightly as Naruto finally reached the low rock shelf underneath the cascade. He pulled himself onto it in one swift motion and sent an uncertain look Sasuke's way. The boy hadn't looked at him once since they'd talked before, and Naruto began to wonder if he'd done something to piss him off. He turned slowly away from Sasuke and began running his fingers through his hair, pulling out twigs from the ferns he'd slept on the night before. The water was cool and pleasant, and before long he forgot completely about the other boy bathing with him.

That is…until he felt the hands on his skin.

Naruto let out a gasp as Sasuke was suddenly touching him, running his fingers through blonde locks. It felt even better than the Kyuubi had imagined moments before.

"S-Sasuke," Naruto whimpered, trying to hide the lust in his voice, "what are you doing?"

"What do you think, dobe?" Sasuke's voice was calm and composed. "I'm helping you clean this mess that you call hair. No way can you pull out all these twigs yourself."

"Oh." Naruto couldn't conceal the disappointment in his voice. Of course that's what the other boy was doing. He went back to enjoying the feel of Sasuke touching his scalp, oblivious to the smirk on the dark-haired boy's face.

I've got him, Sasuke thought confidently, giving Naruto's head a proper massage. The blonde was making all sorts of little moans and murmurs, enough to drive his teammate crazy with building need. Somehow, he managed to keep his hands and voice steady as he kept up a conversation with the boy, gradually moving to rub his shoulders. "You must have slept on the wrong side, Naruto. Your shoulder muscles feel knotted."

Naruto's eyes had drifted closed from Sasuke's relaxing touch, but at this they snapped open. "Really? They don't hurt or anything."

"If only you could feel what I'm feeling. Something is definitely different." Sasuke chuckled privately at the double meaning in his words. Something was different all right, and Naruto was going to be the one to fix that. Slender fingers slipped over the blonde's skin, massaging every muscle carefully. Naruto had gone back to making those soft noises. Sasuke found himself stepping closer to the boy without realizing it, reaching lower to access more skin. Don't rush it, Sasuke scolded himself, but it was getting too late. Desire burned between his legs, and his body wouldn't let him ignore it for much longer.

Naruto was having a similar battle with himself. God, why did Sasuke have to start touching his shoulders? His scalp was bad enough, but this was damn near maddening. Those fingers slid down his wet skin in ways he'd never thought possible, teasing his muscles with light touches that lit his flesh on fire. Before he could stop it, he started having very bad thoughts, even worse than what he'd had before. He shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably, wanting so badly to relieve this tension in his body but not knowing how. The thoughts he was having about Sasuke weren't helping in the slightest. A wave of guilt hit him as he imagined all sorts of things that he would never say aloud. He hated himself for thinking this way about his friend, but he just couldn't help himself.

The matter was only made even worse when Sasuke suddenly began to move closer to him. Naruto's breath, already quickened in time with his pounding heart, hitched in his throat. Sasuke was touching even more of him now, tormenting him to no end. The blonde was shocked to feel how eagerly his body reacted to the feel of skin on skin. What do you think you're doing, idiot! He screamed at himself as he realized he was leaning more into Sasuke's touch. This was bad. He needed to get out of here before he did something…

"Naruto…"

Time seemed to freeze. Naruto himself felt his body stiffen like a board. Sasuke had just…said his name. This was not an unusual occurrence, of course, but…the way he had said it…. For once, none of those carefully controlled emotions had been present in Sasuke's voice. For a moment, he wasn't Naruto's teammate, or heir to the Uchiha clan, or his rival…. He was something completely different.

The lake was suddenly much to small for the both of them. Before Sasuke could say another world, Naruto had taken off, diving into the water and swimming across in what must have been record time. He paused only for an instant as he gathered his clothes and disappeared into the underbrush.

Sasuke watched him go, shocked slightly from the abruptness of it. Both his body and his mind cursed him for the loss of the delectable little blonde. "Dammit," he cursed under his breath. "I told you not to lose control…"

To be continued…

Woo-hoo! Yay for a good cocktease! Sorry about the lack of actual smex, but we have to build the story into it. Patience, my friends, it will come soon enough. Well, assuming that I get enough reviews to keep me satisfied. Ja mata, minna-sama!