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—Thunderstorm—

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They were a blur on the rooftops. Sasuke raced with his heart pounding behind Naruto's dark form, a shadow if not for the shock of blond hair. Closer, closer. Faster, a little faster…

'What?'
'Let's go out into the rain.'
Sasuke looked at Naruto like he was insane.
'Rain is depressing.' Sasuke wasn't sure if he was talking to Naruto or himself.
Naruto responded by sticking his face only inches from Sasuke's. He had his full attention now.
'Yes, but this is a thunder storm.'

This is ridiculous, Sasuke thought. Yet when Naruto challenged to race him and jumped out the kitchen window (without his jacket and barefoot—that moron), he had followed. That's the unspoken rule of being rivals, you don't back down from a challenge. The sky flickered and rumbled.

For once, Naruto agreed with Sasuke: rain was depressing. The way the clouds tainted everything grey, the way the rain sadly drummed against the earth, the way the cold wind sighed and wailed. Naruto hated the rain. He felt that the sky manifested what was in the depths of his heart and betrayed what he was desperately trying to hide. When he stood out in the rain, somehow the water in his eyes always rose to mingle with the water falling from the sky.

But thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms were angry. Volatile.

Kyuubi loved it.

The beast inside Naruto could feel the pent up energy in the dark cloud and became agitated. The crackle of raw energy, the roar of an invisible power. Kyuubi knew that power and it stirred him from the deep recesses of his prison. Naruto's body would tingle and itch with restlessness and the part of him that was connected to the fox reached out to the sky and was sated. The part that was just Naruto appreciated something that could drown him out—drown out his thoughts, hide his pain for him. He always came out during the storms.

He always ran.

He was running now, out of the village and into the surrounding woods. Leaping tree to tree, branch to branch, his wet bangs flopping into his eyes. He reveled in feeling the rough, cutting surfaces under his feet and the numbing water pelting at his skin. The adrenaline, Kyuubi's surfacing energy, the sheer flood of physical sensations from being connected to a force greater than any demon was exhilarating. He had almost forgotten Sasuke when he saw him out of the corner of his eye. Sasuke pulled ahead. Then Naruto. Silently the two boys struggled for dominance, besting each other in their determination to best themselves. And inevitably they fell into tandem, each acutely aware of the other, one splash for two people. And they ran side by side.

Sasuke's lungs were on fire. His was numb from the freezing rain yet inside he was burning from the exertion. His feet squished uncomfortably in his soaked sandals and wondered if Naruto was faring better barefoot. He didn't know if he was running to or away from something. And yet he kept running, not for the competition anymore, but because he felt everything and nothing at the same time. And he wasn't doing it alone.

Finally the blond turned his head.

"Hey Sasuke, lemme show you something," he said with a grin and took off, veering right.

Gods, what now? Sasuke moved to catch up.

The boys leapt out of the woods and into a clearing where the edge fell away into a valley. Naruto stepped up the edge and looked down. All grey and green and away from everything, like being on the edge of the world. Sasuke watched Naruto panting hard, shaking from the torture he put his muscle through and realized he was doing the same. What the hell are we doing? Sasuke thought as he watched his companion, somewhat taken aback by the intensity of those blue eyes as the blond took in a deep breath.

Suddenly, Naruto let out a feral scream.

"Aaaarrghhhhhhhhh!"

Lightening and thunder crashed around them.

It sounded strange. Lower, more mature and raw than that small body should allow. Almost like the roar of a beast.

After an eternity, Naruto ran out of breath, like there was nothing left to let out. He placed his hands on his knees and panted.

"Your turn."

"What?"

"I said: Your. Turn. Come on Sasuke, it's great!"

Sasuke looked from him, to the valley, and back to the blond. For the second time that night, Sasuke thought the boy was insane.

"Come on, just do it!"

Sasuke took a test breath and hesitated. His eyebrows twitched. This was stupid. This was embarrassing. Yet…

"Come on, it's just you and me, bastard. Here, we'll do it together. On three. One, two, THREE!"

Naruto inhaled and Sasuke followed suit. His yell wasn't genuine at first, half-hearted at best. But something stirred inside him and he yelled again. And again. A weight that he didn't notice in his chest lessened somewhat. And suddenly all the self-pity and loathing he had buried and refused to acknowledge broke loose and poured out. He yelled until his yells became screams and his voice became raw. Naruto smiled and yelled again, this time his voice much more his own.

Then Sasuke laughed.

Naruto didn't need to hear Sasuke's thoughts to know that in that moment he was glad that he came. That they understood and trusted each other on a fundamental level. That in each other's presence, being alive wasn't so bad.

Together they yelled into the abyss, drowned out by the sound of the thunder and washed away by the rain.

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Author's Note: Inspired by Klayter McCabe's Bring on the Rain.

(3.23.09) I still love reviews. Please let me know what you think!