June 23rd, 2008 -- Extensively rewritten. It was inspired by the song "Shiver" by Maroon 5.

--

Shiver

"Are you ever going to get around to it?"

Naruto blinked, brow furrowing. "What the hell are you talking about, Sasuke?"

He noticed the eyes first. They were deep eyes, the color so clear and dark that they appeared black. Powerful eyes. They had drawn him in without him ever noticing or wanting for it to happen, promised things even when their owner didn't intend it. It had just taken that one breath beneath that gaze, just one moment, and Naruto had realized that everything he did was just for that look.

Then it all fell apart. Red sharingan eyes didn't provoke the same sensation. Sharingan eyes said that death would be dealt this day. They said that Sasuke was serious about what he was saying, or that he had lost control, or that he was afraid. Sharingan eyes said that you should start running now and never stop, and sometimes sharingan eyes frightened Naruto, though he would never admit it aloud.

Maybe it was because of the things that Sasuke did. He could make an insult into an endearment just with a smile and the tilt of the head. He never refused to meet your gaze; he was never fragile, but he gave off the impression of vulnerability at the same time. Maybe it was the way that he would hurt himself to save another person, then try to say it didn't mean anything. Maybe it was the way that he expressed his feelings about the few connections that he still had. Naruto supposed it didn't matter. The end result was clear.

Naruto would never tell Sasuke that he looked like Itachi now that he was older. He probably didn't have to. Sasuke could probably see it every time he looked at his own face and had to shudder because of who he saw. He didn't say anything, not just because of the fact that he didn't need to, but also because it would end their friendship. There wasn't much of it left, after everything, but he had to save what he could.

He wanted to help Sasuke so badly, but there was still such vulnerability, still such wildness, in Sasuke's eyes. Sasuke was even more broken and bruised than he had been before. Naruto knew it was there, but even more than that he saw the strength that had allowed Sasuke to come home: a strength that was so powerful, so much of a burden, that Sasuke could scarsely stand beneath the weight.

They had gone their separate ways three years ago and Sasuke had returned one year ago. Naruto still kept Sasuke's old hitai-ate in his drawer, pushed in the back but placed so carefully. The leaf symbol was still scratched out; another parallel between the two brothers that Sasuke would never acknowledge. It hurt just as much to see it now as it had when Sasuke first left. Naruto couldn't help but poke at the wound like one picked at a scab, just to watch it bleed and try all the harder to make it better.

--

Sasuke grinned that smug grin of his and lifted his chin just a bit, contempt almost unconsciously appearing on his face.

Eyes that were such an angelic blue could become such an angry red, but it was all part of Naruto. The fierce eyes of a wild animal, the blue as inhuman as the red was, and so utterly uncontained. He was a human cannonball; a wildcard. He held such incredible power in him that his manic energy was the only way he could express it.

His grins were careless; he threw himself into battle recklessly. He would die without a thought for his teammates, his friends, and even people he had never met. Sometimes, Sasuke wondered if he had never learned to be selfish about his own life, given how much he had been told it was worthless when he was young. Naruto was still the same. He snuck into the girls' locker rooms and bungee jumped from the First Hokage's nostrils at least once every few months so that it looked like boogers hung from it.

Sasuke still didn't know why it had nearly killed him to leave Naruto after their battle, and not just in the physical sense. Even while passed out Naruto had looked torn and terrified. Sasuke had watched over him for a moment, wanting so badly to press their lips together. He wanted to never leave and that feeling more than anything had made him run. He couldn't have these ties, these emotions that made him weak and fearful. They had no worth; no meaning. They made everything more difficult and held him back just as much as Orochimaru's curse was able to, yet it had still hurt to walk away.

--

"Kissing me, loser."

Naruto abruptly fell of the railing, arms flailing. "What the--?! Mmph."

Contact.

A soft brush of lips.

"That's what I meant, you idiot."

How had it all come together? It still amazed Naruto that Sasuke had come back to Konoha, despite all of the consequences and tribulations. It still amazed him to see Sasuke walk around Konoha, usually with a few ANBU trailing him as a suspicious, never-seen guard. Sasuke on his right side, however grudgingly, and Sakura with her smile and her quick fist on his left. For the first time in three years, other people mattered. They filled up his life with their words, their mannerisms, and their bright personalities. Hinata's stammering and her blushes were once more heard and seen, confusing and sweet at the same time. Ino still made loud and rude statements about Shikamaru's supposed idiocy. It felt like a large family in a way. It didn't feel anything like his lonely childhood, separated from the rest of the village by an invisible wall a mile high and hundred thick.

Kiba would joke around with Naruto every once and a while, Kiba's brash, outspoken humor no longer directed against him. Gaara had shaken his hand with some measure of sanity in his pale eyes; the Kazekage of Suna but waiting patiently for the day Naruto became Hokage. Naruto finally felt like people noticed him.

To see everyone together was so strange. He and Sasuke had gone from the village at the same time; they had missed the same things. Kiba and Hinata had kissed their first kiss int he middle of one of Tsunade's announcements, attracting everyone's attention and making Hinata turn red and faint. Neji had made jonin, one of the fastest since Uchiha Itachi. They had missed it all together and apart at the same time.

Naruto remembered Sasuke reaching down a hand to help from the stream he had been lying in, the dying sun behind him. The way it had turned into a play fight. Sakura and Kakashi's laughter; Sasuke's smile. Maybe that was how it had come together.

They were brothers. Friends. What else?

--

Naruto tackled him, pressing his lips to Sasuke fervently.

His hands framed Sasuke's face. Gentle.

Shiver.

"Who's the idiot now, Sasuke?"

"Still you. Want to prove me wrong?"

Naruto smiled.

--

There! T'is rewritten. I am moderately happy with it now and in case anyone is looking at this for the second time, tell me what you think of the rewrite.