Title: Six Days
Author: desbutterfly
Genre: angst/drama
Paring: KakaSasu, hints of ItaSasu, OroSasu, and NaruSakuSasu
Rating: Hard R for sexual content and dubius consent, age difference
Description: 6 days, 15 hours, and 21 minutes until the date of his execution. Sasuke awaits his death with peaceful resignation until Kakashi shows up to mess with his tranquility.


6 days, 15 hours, and 21 minutes until the date of his execution. Sasuke feels amused at the exactness of the report given by the man standing over him. Why so specific? It's not as if he has anything to count the minutes with. Even his clothing was taken away, replaced with a thin hospital gown.

Sasuke doesn't miss the clothing. It was too torn and stiff with blood to be comfortable anyway. He bows to the man as much as the chains around his wrists will allow, and smiles.

"Thank you for telling me, Anbu-san," he says, voice soft and ragged with disuse.

The body looming over him does not react and Sasuke can't tell what the face behind the bone-white animal mask might be showing. It probably isn't anyone he knows. Sasuke doesn't remember much of the fifth hokage, but he knows enough to suppose that Tsunade wouldn't be so cruel as to send someone Sasuke knew to announce his death sentence so casually.

The Anbu leaves and Sasuke is left alone on his cot, hands tugging idly on the shackles bolting him to the wall beside him that prevent him from reaching the chakra infused bars on the windows.

The chains are unnecessary, Sasuke thinks. He's not running away. There's no place left to go.

6 days, 15 hours, and 21 minutes.

He brings his arm up to his mouth and bites down hard enough to break the skin, sucking the blood up in stinging laps of his tongue before looking at the mark with satisfaction.

"That's one."


At night, Sasuke dreams of killing Itachi, except these are different from the ones he's had ever since the day he saw his mother's back laid open and his father's head split by his brother's katana.

They are different because they aren't dreams at all. They are memories.

Sasuke recalls the sheer speed of the encounter, how the whole thing seemed to take merely seconds. Itachi's look of mild surprise and disappointment as he summoned the snake that coiled around his throat for an instant before Itachi sent its head rolling in the dirt, venom streaming from its severed neck.

He remembers using all of Orochimaru's most powerful jutsus to no avail, and the entire time the Snake Sannin whispered in his head to let him take over, let him handle Itachi. Only Sasuke refused because this was his fight, had always been only his fight, and so he struggled against them both, chakra blade burning in his palms as he struck over and over again.

Itachi had sighed and crushed a hand around Sasuke's wrist, pulling him close enough to pry open his eyes.

"Foolish little brother," he breathed, pupils twisting and expanding into the mangenkyou pattern. "If you want to defeat me, you have to do it by yourself."

And then the blade Sasuke held flipped in his hands, pointed inwards, up into his own ribcage. He choked on blood, and stumbled forward, face smothered in Itachi's cloak. In his mind he could feel Orochimaru begin to panic and throw himself restlessly against the boundaries of Sasuke's body.

"Still so scared of death, Orochimaru?" Itachi asked. The knife twisted and Sasuke's gasp of pain was drowned out by the screaming of the one he shared his body with. With fingers that felt as heavy as stone, Sasuke found himself shaping unfamiliar seals.

There was a sharp cry, and then searing pain as Orochimaru's soul fled from his dying body. Shuddering, Sasuke fell to the ground, hands grasping at his chest.

Itachi shuddered as well, then blinked once, twice as the sharingan faded from his eyes and was replaced with a glassy, snake-like stare. Sasuke's eyes widened as he trailed numbed fingers across his smooth, unbroken skin, his pulse fast but strong underneath his palm.

A malicious hum brought Sasuke's attention back to Itachi, whose lips were curling into an expression that didn't belong on his brother's face. Itachi's hands shook as he held them out to Sasuke.

"We did it Sasuke-kun," he hissed gleefully. "We did it together."

Then the man who was not Sasuke brother started to laugh. He was still laughing when Sasuke slid the abandoned chakra blade into him stomach, although the smile slipped from his face soon enough as Sasuke held him and trapped him in the world of tsukiyomi, killing the Sannin slowly and tortuously in a matter of seconds.

It was easy and wrong and so very unsatisfying that Sasuke felt tears burning behind his newly acquired eyes.

"He was supposed to be mine," he told Orochimaru's falling body, not caring if the words sounded childish.


Sasuke wakes up mouthing the word into the air, his throat tasting of dust and other foul things. He turns to the side and the chains rattle noisily.

On his shoulder, the imprint of teeth stands out garishly against his pale skin.

"That's two," he whispers softly to himself.


On the third day, Sasuke's cell door swings open to admit another Anbu. At first he thinks it's the same one who read him the verdict on that first day, but a second look reveals a familiar slumped posture and a shock of grey hair above the white wolf-painted mask.

Sasuke's lips quirk upward.


His former teacher pulls the mask off with a sigh, revealing another, more familiar mask covering his chin and nose. He runs black gloved hands through his hair and steps into the small room, sliding the barred door shut behind him.

"You never did call me sensei," Kakashi mutters. "Though I suppose I wasn't really good at teaching you stuff."

He's holding a hand to his stomach as if it aches, and Sasuke shuffles to the side so there is room for Kakashi to sit down if he wants to.

He remains standing.

"Don't say that. You taught me a lot."

"But Orochimaru taught you more?"

Sasuke doesn't wince, but the casual tone Kakashi uses makes him wary.

"What are you here for, Kakashi?" he asks, thinking it's horribly unfair that this man can still make him feel incredibly childish and awkward after all he's been through.

The jounin shifts against the wall, fingers seeming to fidget without a porn novel to clutch and hide behind.

"Can't I come visit my former student before he dies?"

Sasuke glances down at his arms and shoulders, counting the marks.

"I have three days left," he murmurs. Then louder, "I expected Naruto and Sakura to come before you did, actually."

"They aren't allowed to see you."

A snort of laughter escapes Sasuke and he leans his head back, chains rubbing uncomfortably against his wrists.

"As if rules ever stopped Naruto from doing something he wanted to do. They…they don't know, do they?" he whispers, the revelation making his gut twist strangely. "They don't know I'm here."

The accusation hangs in the silence. Kakashi pushes out from the wall and slides the cell door open.

"I'll be back later," he tosses over his shoulder, and then the door is being pulled shut, the clink of the lock echoing in the small room.

Sasuke pulls his legs up under his chin and loops his arms around his knees, rubbing his cheek against a grubby kneecap. He's surprised to find a wetness smearing the dirt on his knee, and touches the spot with a fingertip, choked laughter escaping his lips against his will.

'After all these years, I still can't stand his disappointment,' he thinks, wiping a palm across his eyes with a rueful look.

'How strange.'


True to his word, Kakashi is back the next day, only this time carrying a small green box. Sasuke watches curiously as his former sensei takes a syringe and a bottle from the box.

"You're going to interrogate me?" he asks, eyebrows lifting in surprise. "They already did that when I was first brought in. The Hokage has a report—"

"I wanted to ask some of my own questions."

Kakashi twists a string of cloth around Sasuke's left arm and examines the bruises and bite marks for a long moment before prodding for a vein. His fingers are strangely gentle and Sasuke shivers at their touch before he can help himself. He doesn't watch as the needle slides in.

"This is Ibiki's good stuff," Kakashi says reassuringly. "You'll feel a little woozy, like you've had a bit too much to drink, but not nauseous or in pain like some of our other interrogation drugs."

The blood starts to pump faster through his veins, and Sasuke feels some of it rise to his cheeks and neck. Things start to shift slightly out of focus. He can smell the grass and dog hair on Kakashi's shirt, and below that, just a little, the scent of old blood. Sasuke wrinkles his nose.

"You…could just ask me," he says, hunching over a bit into a more comfortable position. The movement makes his knees brush against Kakashi's arm and the contact is like a jolt to his skin.

"I am going to ask you," Kakashi replies cheerfully, which really means I don't trust you to tell me the truth. He notes the change in Sasuke's breathing with a tilt of the head. "There might also be a small aphrodisiac affect. Try to ignore it."

The laughter bursts from Sasuke's mouth in a choked gasp.

"Yeah. Sure."

"We'll start off easy. What is your name?"

"Uchiha Sasuke."

"And how old are you?"


Kakashi's fingers move to his cheeks and Sasuke tries to control the way he is panting as the jounin examines his pupils. He manages to keep himself from nuzzling into the hand just barely.

"Seems like it's working," Kakashi says, resting his hands on his knees. "Let's move onto something harder….Who gave you your first kiss?"

"Naruto," Sasuke says immediately, and then scowls. "Is this a game of truth or dare, or an interrogation?"

"Could be both. Why did you leave Konoha?"

"Because I couldn't accomplish what I needed to do and stay here."

"What did you need to do?"

"Kill Itachi, you know that Kakashi," Sasuke snaps, irritated by the questions and the way Kakashi is not looking at him and directing his attention to the specks of dirt on his gloves.

"And did you?"

"Did I what?"

"Kill Itachi?"

Sasuke's jaw aches suddenly. "Yes…and no. Orochimaru had possessed my body by the time we found him. Itachi stabbed me and Orochimaru tried to jump from my body into his. I think…I think he let him do it. And then I killed Orochimaru and what was left of Itachi."

"Orochimaru jumped from your body because you were dying?" Kakashi asks, visible eye narrowing as he finally lifts his head to peer into Sasuke's face.


"Then why are you still alive?"

Some broken expression flits across Sasuke's face, and he smiles bitterly.

"Because I'm not even worth killing," he murmurs into the dry musty air of the cell.

Kakashi looks at him and is quiet a few moments. Then his hands reach out to circle Sasuke's arm, rattling the chains around his wrists. The slide of Kakashi's gloves over his skin makes Sasuke tilt dizzily for a moment, hairs standing on edge immediately. A thumb brushes against a purplish bruise and he breathes in sharply.

"What are these?" Kakashi asks, his voice softer than before.

"Reminders," Sasuke rasps, throat tightening. He tries to jerk himself out of Kakashi's hold, but the jounin holds fast to his arm.

"Reminders of what?"

"Of what I have left. Are you satisfied yet?"

Kakashi's fingers stroke the inside of Sasuke's trembling arm once…twice…and then he lets go, placing the arm calmly into Sasuke's lap.

"No," he whispers, and the tone is…sad? Pitying, maybe? Sasuke feels the anger of his childhood bubble up to the surface again after so many years. He doesn't need anyone's pity, least of all Kakashi's.

"If that's everything," he sneers, hating the excess of emotion he is showing, like a child still bound to a tree and snarling at a disapproving parent-figure, "then why don't you just leave me to die in some semblance of peace."

And then Kakashi is rising on his heels, long legs folding out until he towers above Sasuke, hands brushing the dust from his pants as he stands.

"If that's what you want."

Sasuke watches him move, watches his lean corded muscle collect into an obvious slouch as Kakashi walks towards the door, green box at his hip, white Anbu mask slung over his shoulder. Kakashi's hands brush the keypad of the door and Sasuke cries out, desperate.

"That's not what I want!"

Kakashi pauses but does not turn around. The line of his back is tensed, despite his curved posture.

"Well then," the tone is silky and dangerous and just a bit mocking, and Sasuke hates his body for responding to it immediately, "what do you want, Sasuke-kun?"

"I want you to kiss me."

The words hang in the air, and it takes Sasuke a second to realize that they came from his own mouth. Heat rises to his face and he wants, for a moment, to bury his head in his hands. He refuses to look away, though, as Kakashi turns, slowly, to stare at him.

Then Kakashi's hands lifts to the mask covering his nose and chin, hooks a finger underneath. Sasuke's eyes widen and his stomach twists painfully. Is he finally going to get to see…

The finger pulls down and reveals a straight nose, pale skin, a normal looking mouth with lips just a shade darker than the inside of a peach. All in all, a handsome, if completely normal-looking face.

'Guess he doesn't really have fish-lips,' is the one irrational thought that flits through Sasuke's mind before Kakashi closes the distance between them and fits his normal, full lips to Sasuke's in a rather chaste kiss.

Immediately, Sasuke's hands fist into Kakashi's shirt-front, dragging him closer. His mouth opens hungrily under Kakashi's slightly parted lips and the kiss deepens, becomes something significantly more needy, more desperate. A wet tongue strokes its way along the rim of Sasuke's teeth and he moans, nails scrabbling desperately for purchase on the slippery fabric of Kakashi's uniform before the jounin gently pulls the chain attached to Sasuke's wrists back with one hand, restraining him.

The other hand strokes along Sasuke's spine and he arches into it like a cat, whimpering a bit as Kakashi's lips leave his to trail hotly across his jaw and neck. The way Kakashi is pulling on his wrists is awkward and just a bit painful, and the ache in Sasuke's arms almost matches the ache between his legs.

"Please," Sasuke whispers, moving his hips against nothing, wanting Kakashi to press himself fully against him.

Kakashi laps soothingly at the bite marks on Sasuke's shoulder and shifts the hand from Sasuke's back to slide underneath the hospital gown. Sasuke cries out at the sheer bliss of Kakashi's gloved hand fitting tightly around his cock, sagging forward onto Kakashi's chest and spreading his knees as far as possible. He mumbles things as Kakashi begins to stroke him—steadily, roughly, perfect—things that might be Kakashi's name or oh god or don't stop. It doesn't really matter what he's saying as long as Kakashi's palm keeps on rubbing over him, as long as those lips keep pressing to his temple, his hair, his neck.

He doesn't last that long, however, and it's far too soon before Sasuke is coming into Kakashi's hand with a gasping curse, shaking violently in Kakashi's arms while the world spins out of focus.

He must black out for an instant, because when his eyes open again, Kakashi is leaning him against his cot, semen-stained glove already crumpled into a ball and placed in the bottom of the green box, mask back in place over Kakashi's nose and chin.

Sasuke sighs and tugs his shift down over his thighs, wincingly slightly at the stickiness between them. Kakashi's ungloved hand threads through his hair and Sasuke bats it away, frowning.

"I'm not a child," he says.

Kakashi fingers twitch and then his eye squints upwards into a fake smile, the kind he always used to give whenever he made his lame excuses for being late.

"No," he says ruefully, "I suppose you aren't."

After Kakashi leaves, Sasuke checks his skin with his fingertips.

He doesn't know whether to be glad or disappointed that Kakashi didn't leave any marks.


When the door of Sasuke's cell opens again, the dark-haired boy shuffles forward, arms raised in supplication, before he recognizes the person standing in front of him with a tray of food in his hands.

His hands fall back to his sides immediately.

"Kakashi," he rasps, "I didn't expect you to come again."

The other man raises an eyebrow and then smoothly places the tray on the floor in front of Sasuke.

"Why wouldn't I?"

Sasuke shrugs and looks down at the tray. Six pieces of onigiri arranged as elegantly as possible on a tin plate, and four fresh slices of tomato.

"What's this?"

"They're your favourite, right?" Kakashi crouches down across from Sasuke, long legs folding down into a relaxed pose. His gloved hands pat at the dusty ground, and Sasuke wonders if they are the same gloves Kakashi was wearing when he…

The thought brings a flush to his cheeks, and Sasuke quickly shakes his head and replies.

"I don't hate them. Can you tell me what day it is?" Sasuke says, casually changing the subject. "None of the guards will speak to me and I've…lost count."

"Tomorrow," Kakashi says. "It happens tomorrow. You still have one day left."


There's a tone of relief in Sasuke's voice, and it irritates him. He was ready, dammit! Before Kakashi came in with his stupid hands and his stupid kisses, Sasuke was ready to die. He was satisfied. And now all he could think of was eating as slowly as possible to stretch out the time before Kakashi had to take the empty tray and leave him to his fate, why? He couldn't really be this pathetic.

Glowering at the food as if it had personally injured him, Sasuke stuffs one of the onigiri into his mouth quickly, just for spite. He nearly chokes on the rice and has to stop and cough a bit before chewing and swallowing. Kakashi watches with a hint of amusement in his posture as the bits of food disappear one by one.

"The Anbu said you were starving yourself until the execution," he notes. "Glad to see they were wrong."

"Just because I won't eat the swill they bring doesn't mean I'm refusing to eat anything at all," Sasuke mutters between bites. "It doesn't matter to them anyway, whether I starve myself or not. I'm still going to die tomorrow."

"Yeah…" Kakashi rubs his chin thoughtfully. "Guess that's true. Still, rumours about starving prisoners…it gives Konoha a bad image."

Sasuke snorts and pushes the last bit of tomato into his mouth, cradling its tart sweetness on his tongue for a while before swallowing. The empty plate stares back at him, a few sticky grains of rice clinging to its surface. Sasuke restrains himself from scooping them up with his fingers and popping them into his mouth with the rest. It doesn't matter. He's going to die tomorrow anyway.

"So, will you be there?" he asks, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. "Tomorrow I mean."

Kakashi shakes his head. "I have a mission," is all he says.

Sasuke feels a little disappointed that no one from Team Seven will be there on the day he dies, but then, he wouldn't want Sakura to have to watch that either, and he knows that telling Naruto might result in the kyuubi-vessel doing something stupid. But he thought at least Kakashi would be there.

Sakura's voice comes back to him, wavering and tearful.

No one likes to be alone, right Sasuke?

He sighs and pushes the tray towards Kakashi, who takes it and sets it behind him with a soft thud. He curls his bare toes into the dust.

"So…I guess this is our goodbye."


"Do I get a last request?"

"Is it going to be anything like your first request?"

Sasuke peers sharply at Kakashi's face, but the older man isn't giving anything away this time. He shifts forward onto his knees and licks his lips.

"Will you kiss me again?"

Sasuke crawls towards Kakashi as far as the chains will allow him. It isn't quite far enough. He's stopped two feet from the other man's folded legs. Sasuke arches his back and reaches a hand out imploringly.

Kakashi watches this in stillness, not budging from his spot. He cocks his head to the side.

"Something you learned from Orochimaru?" he drawls sarcastically, and Sasuke winces at the contempt present in Kakashi's voice. But it doesn't affect the stiffening hardness beneath his smock or the slight writhe to his hips at all.

"Please," he whispers, and it seems to be the magic word, because Kakashi is moving, gathering Sasuke into his arms and then into his lap, pressing them close together.

Sasuke shudders at the sudden warmth of another body against his and clings tightly to Kakashi's shirt, one hand reaching up for the cloth around Kakashi's neck and chin, dragging it down so he can fasten his mouth on those full lips again. They slide together; mouths meeting, parting, then meeting again in slow kisses that make Sasuke whimper and shiver against Kakashi's chest.

"That day at the tree," Kakashi murmurs, twisting a hand into Sasuke's hair and pulling roughly, "If I had said something different…"

"Nnn?" Sasuke's neck arches back and he groans as Kakashi begins to attack the pale skin there with tongue and teeth. "What…oh god…"

The hand on Sasuke's hip slips down to cup his ass, pushing the younger man harder into Kakashi's lap, grinding them together. Kakashi sighs into Sasuke's ear and the warm puff of air against the shell in more than enough to make Sasuke moan.

"If I had said…something different," Kakashi continues, sounding a bit breathless. They move faster against each other and Sasuke digs his fingernails into Kakashi's shoulders viciously. "Would you have stayed?"

Kakashi's other hand leaves Sasuke's hair and drops down to join the hand gripping Sasuke's ass. The grinding takes on a frantic edge, and Sasuke gives up at keeping pace and rests his head on Kakashi's shoulder, letting the other man move him at his will.

"What could you have said that would have been different?" Sasuke pants into Kakashi's neck, lifting his knees up and apart even further.

There is no reply from Kakashi except for a few hard thrusts which make Sasuke cry out and bite down on the jounin's shoulder until the wave of his climax recedes, leaving him shaken and limp in Kakashi's arms. A damp kiss is pressed to his forehead, and then Kakashi is putting him back on his cot, tucking him in under his solitary blanket at if he were a child.

Groaning, Sasuke hooks a hand around Kakashi's neck, trying to pull him down on top of him.

"Why won't you fuck me?"

Kakashi detangles himself easily from Sasuke's hold and steps back. Sasuke notices that his smile is wry, gentle, and just a little bit sad. Then Kakashi is tugging the mask back into place, slipping the cloth up over his nose and mouth.

"It's not something I should be doing, Sasuke," he says. "I've already crossed some pretty big lines doing this much."

Sasuke frowns and turns on his side, tossing the blanket off his shoulders. "It won't matter though," he says. "Kakashi…there isn't a future for me. Consequences don't matter anymore."

"One of us still has a future," Kakashi chides, and Sasuke's back tenses. Is he being selfish? He won't have to live with this, but Kakashi does. Maybe it was enough that he got this much. It wasn't like he ever expected Kakashi to…to what exactly? Return his feelings?


"Hmm?" The jounin is almost to the door before Sasuke speaks, one hand resting on the latch. He turns back with a slouch that somehow manages to be awkward and elegant at the same time, like a swan learning to fly for the first time.

Sasuke swallows hard. "Do you…like me?"

He immediately wishes he could take back the childish question, but Kakashi is already laughing, a sharp, grating sound that makes Sasuke's stomach flutter nervously.

"Well…I don't hate you."

Sasuke watches the line of Kakashi's back as he leaves, hearing the lock clink into place with a final twist, and the barely audible footsteps as Kakashi walks away. He brushes his fingers over his right shoulder and discovers a bite-mark right above where his curse-seal used to be, deeply imprinted into the skin.

"That's five," he whispers to himself, smiling.


"Sasuke. Hey…Sasuke! Wake up, dammit."

Sasuke opens his eyes on darkness and strange looming shadows. It takes him three whole seconds to realize that the figure tugging at his arm is Naruto.

"Hey!" The blond prods at where his wrists are chained. "Come on Sasuke, focus. We don't have much time." He looks over his shoulder and Sasuke follows his gaze to another shadowed figure standing outside the door.


"Hurry up Naruto!"

"Don't yell at me, it's Sasuke who's being so slow. Are you sure they didn't drug him?"

In a second, she's inside the cell, pressing fingers against the pulse in Sasuke's neck, drawing down the lids of his eyes.

"Kakashi said they wouldn't until right before the execution," she says. "So he should be okay."

Sasuke brushes her hands away and watches with disbelief as she calmly takes his chains in hand and breaks them apart like they were made of paper. He rubs the sore spots on his wrist and gathers his knees beneath him.

"What are you doing here?" he asks, trying to keep his voice level and calm.

Naruto only snorts and tosses a pair of pants in Sasuke's direction. "We're busting you out of here, what does it look like?"

"You can't do that!"

"And why not?" Sakura's fingers clasp around Sasuke's arm as tight as any cuff. She's shaking a little, but her eyes are dry. "We didn't work so hard to get you back so you could die like this."

"You're betraying Konoha," he hisses, yanking his arm out of her grip and stepping back. "For someone who's not even a friend—"

"Don't be an idiot," Naruto says, folding his arms over his chest. Sasuke has to look up to see his eyes and it baffles him for a moment. "You'll always be our friend, no matter what dumb thing you do."

'So, dead last is actually taller than me now? Strange…'

A smile pulls at his lips for a moment, but Sasuke soon draws them back down into a scowl.

"It's dangerous," he says. "You don't even know what I'm like now. There's a reason they're executing me."

"Yes, Kakashi-sensei told us," Sakura says, stepping closer, hands on her hips. "He said you told the counsel that Orochimaru possessed your body."

"He did."

"But he doesn't now," Naruto points out.

Sasuke shoots him a sharp look. "No, but there are parts of him that remain in me. Just like parts of me remained in him. I'm still dangerous to you, and to Konoha."

"That's bullshit, Sasuke. Put your fucking pants on and let's get out of here, and then I can beat the hell out of you all you want, but you aren't dying today."

Sasuke stares at them both, something tightening uncomfortably in his throat.

"No," he says.

"Listen Sasuke, we don't care what kind of masochist urge is making you do this. You're either leaving with us quietly, right now, or we'll just all stay in here and make a bigger, messier stink for Anbu to clean up when Sakura-chan's genjutsu wears off and the guards realize what's going on."

"Six minutes," Sakura warns, looking at him anxiously. Her expression turns pleading.

"Kakashi is going to be pissed off if you waste the chance he's giving you."

Sasuke's neck snaps up, eyes narrowing. "What do you mean?"

"Who do you think is occupying the cell next to yours pretending to be you? Sakura-chan's genjutsu needs a real person to attach to, not just a bunshin. One with your scent to fool the nin-dogs," Naruto explains glibly.

"My scent?"

"Yeah, did you give Kakashi-sensei some of your clothing or something?"

Sasuke's mouth drops open, but Sakura interrupts before he can answer.

"Guys, we can talk later. There's only five minutes left before the genjutsu wears off, and I'd like to at least be outside the compound before that happens. Sasuke-kun, are you coming or not?"

Sasuke squeezes the fabric in his hands for a few moments, then sighs and stars to tug the pants on over his legs. They pool around his waist and thighs and he has to hold them up with one hand to keep them on, showing just how much weight he's dropped in less than a week's time.

'Here's hoping nobody's looking too closely.'

Sakura drapes Naruto's jacket over his shoulders and ushers them out of the cell. In the hallway, the guards stand, paying the three ninjas no attention whatsoever. In the window of the cell next door, Sasuke catches a glimpse of wiry grey hair, and then Naruto is pulling him down the hall and out into the night air.

As they run towards the woods and Konoha's border, Sasuke feels Sakura's hand clasp his, and Naruto's arm slides around his hips, supporting his unsteady gait. The moon is only a sliver of white above them, and Sasuke is glad for the darkness.

It hides the shameful look of hope on his face.


Five months later, they have moved to a small house on the edge of Suna's border, where the Kazekage is willing to overlook any hidden fugitives on the condition that they are Naruto's fugitives.

Sasuke does and doesn't expect Kakashi to show up on the doorstep, looking as if he'd walked non-stop, for days, to get there. Without a word, he stands aside and lets Kakashi into the living room.

A few glasses of water later, Kakashi is well enough to speak. He spreads himself out on the sofa and pokes a finger in the direction of Sasuke's stomach.

"So," he drawls, "I see Sakura and Naruto have taken good care of you."

"Did they hurt you?" Sasuke asks, ignoring the comment entirely. He rakes his eyes over the lanky jounin's body, but Kakashi is covered from head to toe and he can't see any injuries.

"House arrest," Kakashi says. "I thought of it as a pretty relaxing vacation, actually."

'Why did you do it?' is the question that Sasuke really wants to ask, but it takes a few tries at meaningless conversation before he can get it out.

When he does finally manage it, Kakashi is silent for a few moments, hands scratching lazily at his chin under the mask as he considers the question.

"Sometimes people make mistakes," he says, shrugging. "But it's selfish to just die to escape from having to deal with it. That's a coward's way out."

The words are sharp and they drive right into Sasuke's gut, twisting there and bleeding him. He grinds his teeth and examines the floor in front of him, suddenly wishing for an intervention of some sort, for Sakura and Naruto to come back from their trek for groceries early, any kind of interruption.

Kakashi's hand sliding across his palm surprises him, and he looks up as Kakashi takes his hand, examining the callused pads of the fingers, the faint scarring around the wrists. He caresses each mark carefully and Sasuke can't hold back his sudden intake of breath.

"Besides which," Kakashi continues, softly, "I told you once before that we have people who care about us now. Did you really want to leave them a second time, Sasuke?"

Sasuke allows Kakashi to tug him closer, to stand between the jounin's parted thighs. He bends a little so that his mouth hovers just over Kakashi's clothed lips. This time, it's Kakashi who pulls down the mask enough to brush their lips together, the kiss light and made mostly of air.

There's a bruise purpling the corner of Kakashi's mouth and Sasuke trails his fingers over it curiously.

"You're lying about the house arrest thing, aren't you?"

Kakashi gives him a lopsided grin and Sasuke's stomach flips over.

"Does it really matter?" Kakashi asks, sliding a hand around Sasuke's hip. "You never answered my question."

Kakashi's thigh is warm against his own, and Sasuke shifts against it, fitting his hands into the pockets of Kakashi's vest and crawling up on the sofa.

"No," he murmurs as he rests his head on Kakashi's chest with a sigh. "I guess not."

This time when Kakashi marks his skin with his mouth, Sasuke doesn't keep count.