Chapter 9:

One and a half months later:

The television was blathering about something stupid. Gah, the idiot box! Sasuke flipped through the channels again, trying not to chuck the remote at the TV. Nothing good was playing on any of the 300 channels he had. He switched off the TV and opted to pace up and down the living room in frustration. Gaara was away and that weird Sai boy-toy of Naruto's was upstairs. He was pale and dark haired…just like Sasuke…just like Hinata. Maybe Naruto had a fetish for pale dark haired people…maybe Naruto missed Hinata and wanted Sai and him to be replacements.

He shook off the line of thought and went over to the computer. He'd suddenly gotten hooked on to that new movie that was out…It was called Haru wo Daiteita and was about to gay actors…the fanfiction written about them was awesome. Sasuke couldn't believe that girls could write such good stuff. The lemons were good…Sasuke wondered if all the girl authors spend their time in voyeuristic activities with regard to gay men, how else could they write such stuff so well? He opened a funny one about hot springs and began reading it….which suddenly made him remember their trip…the one with Naruto all those months ago.

Sasuke shook his head and continued to read, snorting softly at the funny parts…Uchiha's didn't laugh. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs, but didn't bother to turn around. Naruto was narrating something to Sai, his voice disappearing down the drive as he walked Sai out. Sasuke snorted, but this time in distaste. He'd just gotten to the funniest part of the story, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

Sasuke stiffened completely, sitting absolutely still and ramrod straight. Naruto cleared his throat awkwardly. "Sasuke…"

"What?"

"Eh…" Naruto sounded a bit nervous. "Wanna go get a doughnut?"

Sasuke felt anger welling up in him again. He bit his tongue and made an effort to go back to nonchalantly reading, hoping that Naruto would take the hint.

"Sasuke…I'm asking you something, teme…" Naruto's whine got a tad bit louder. When Sasuke didn't reply, Naruto repeated the whole thing in a louder voice. All of it gained him a punch that sent him right into the ground's embrace.

"Fuck. You."

Sasuke started making his way across the hall to the staircase, when a hand curled around his wrist stopping him. Naruto's voice was completely serious. "Sasuke…we have to get back to being friends. Orochimaru knows about the will and will most probably make a move to break us apart…"

At that Sasuke whirled around and punched Naruto again. His cool had evaporated, leaving him in an angry heated mess. "Fuck you! You fucking run away at every opportunity and have the gall to say that to me? You ran away! You ran away then, you ran even now…I didn't…I'm the one that's stuck here trying to keep things going. You keep thinking that we're all here for you to return to!"

Sasuke walked up to him and grabbed him by the collar. He slammed him against a nearby wall. "What if I don't want to make up, Naruto? What if I tell you that the will stated that we have to live together…it never said amicably. What if I were to tell you that I don't want to be 'friends', that I don't want to be used and thrown away…that I am happy with things continuing the way they are…I'm fine with hating you…"

"Sasuke…" Naruto tried to speak, seeing all those emotions swirling around in those black holes that Sasuke had for eyes.

"No…" Sasuke growled. "No. I don't want to hear it. What if I died Naruto? What if on one of your periods away I had died like Arashi? Would you come to me and say you regretted it? How many times and how much loss will it take to make you face your fears? Sometimes all I feel like doing is walking out into the traffic in the hopes of getting mowed down. But then I wonder how much you'd care anyway? And we both know you probably wouldn't care much…you'd go out and find a look alike for me and go on living to the happiest. God, Naruto, why can't I just fucking hate you?"

Sasuke let go off him and stalked to the staircase. Naruto stood up and brushed himself down. "A simple 'No I don't want a doughnut' would have sufficed." He watched Sasuke clench his hands before seeing him disappear upstairs. When he was sure Sasuke had gone, Naruto sank into a chair. Fear like a cold vice gripped him. He couldn't bear the thought of Sasuke dying…he had to regain his friendship…even if it meant just taking a grumpy Uchiha out for dinner and trying to act friendly. He didn't think he could run anymore…

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And that was how two evenings later Sasuke found himself sitting opposite Naruto at a Mexican restaurant, fighting over what they should have for starters.

"Nachos…"

"Flautas…"

"Quesadilla…"

"Flautas…"

"Mexi skins!"

"Flautas…"

"Teme!"

"Dobe…"

"Uh…excuse me?"

"WHAT?"

"…." Cold Uchiha glare.

The waiter cleared his throat nervously. "If you get the platter, you could get some of everything…"

They nodded and let him go bring it. Sasuke refused to talk past telling Naruto what he wanted to order. But Naruto was having none of that. "So how are things with Gaara? Haven't seen him around for a while?"

Sasuke pursed his lips. "Why don't you ask him? He's your friend too isn't he…?"

"I haven't talked to him since…well…"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "Why not?"

Ok. This wasn't what Naruto had in mind when he'd wanted conversation. "I don't know. Look…I'm sorry…about what I said…I freaked out."

Sasuke just looked at him for a few moments. "Hn…"

"Sasuke…I know I've been acting like an asshole, but I really am sorry…"

"What makes you think sorry will cut it, Naruto?" Sasuke looked towards the waiter who was bringing their order. He did not want to look at the blond across him right now.

"I don't think sorry will cut it, I'm just apologising because I feel bad. I guess you need to know the truth too, so I've decided to tell you." Naruto sighed. "It was complicated… I'm sorry that I had no idea how to react all right? I mean you were my father's boyfriend…my father asked me to protect you…do you have any idea how it feels?"

Sasuke looked at him then. He sighed. "Naruto…of course I know how it feels…but I don't run away from my feelings all the time! We would have talked it over…I'd thought we'd gotten close enough to do that…."

"I'm sorry. That's all I can say. I know that you might think it doesn't cut it…but apart from that and trying to face up to my fears, I don't think there's anything else to say…"

The platter of the extremely yummy food was set in front of them and then they were busy looking at what to order for main course. Sasuke didn't know how to reply to that so he decided not to reply. Naruto on the other hand felt a little annoyed at the fact that the Uchiha seemed to be saying nothing.

It was in the middle of the meal that Gaara called. Sasuke excused himself and moved to a corner to converse. Once he was done he came back looking all thoughtful. Seeing Naruto give him a long stare, he blurted. "Gaara wants me to join him on his next business trip that's happening next week. I was wondering if I should accept…"

Naruto crinkled his nose. "Not that I support all this Uchiha, but you really think too much. But you know what? I'm going to help you get your mind off everything by taking you out tomorrow…no more work for you mister!"

Sasuke frowned. "Just because you worked overtime all these months doesn't mean that you should stop me from working. And why should I be wasting my time with you anyway?"

Naruto wasn't called a loudmouthed, oblivious and tornado-like idiot for nothing. Like the whirlpool he was named for, he swept people off their feet and this was the first time in years that he'd done it to Sasuke….he was banking on that fact to get the Uchiha to agree. "So yeah…I've got the whole day planned…let's get the check."

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Itachi tapped his fingers on the able, frowning. He looked over at the silver haired man sitting opposite me. "So Orochimaru's all ready made his move?"

Kakashi nodded. "It seems that way…only thing is I don't know who the plant is….it bothers me….but I've been getting information that the boys all ready trust whoever it is. I've done as many screen checks as possible…but nothing's come up."

"Are they really keeping you informed about everything that goes on? I hope you impressed it up on each of them that you are looking out for them?" Itachi frowned. "Though for Sasuke to trust you after everything would be extremely difficult…I don't know why you've made our decision harder Kakashi…"

Kakashi sighed. "It isn't like I meant to make it this hard. It slipped out that night and Sasuke was definitely not supposed to hear all of that." he caught Itachi's eye. "No I'm sorry I made a mistake ok?"

"As long as you're clear on that…"

"Hn."

"Does Naruto know about who Orochimaru really is?"

"No."

"Keep it that way. What he doesn't know won't hurt him especially in this case…"

Kakashi nodded. "I'm off to make more enquiries."

"Find something. It is of utmost importance to the Akatsuki that Naruto remains in the dark and Orochimaru does not get his hands on the fortune."

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Sasuke groaned and rolled out of bed when the cheerful voice rang down the corridor. Naruto had been so loud that Sasuke's ear drums were hurting even though the blond was yelling from the kitchen. He hated that the blond had weaselled his way into his heart again…not that Sasuke wasn't all ready head over heels in love with him, but he'd managed to forgive Naruto again!

He sighed and brushed his teeth watching the tooth paste swirl into the drain with light pink tints of blood from where he'd brushed too hard. Sometimes he wished he could just drain himself away to another place…but a very Naruto-like voice reminded him that sewers were dirty and proceeded to inform him in detail of what went into the sewers. Sasuke shook his head…having the dobe reside in his mind must be the first sign of madness…Naruto would drive him nuts.

The said blond was standing at the counter in a pink frilly apron and shorts holding a pink wooden spoon. His grin reached from ear to ear as Sasuke almost had a nosebleed. "Goooood moooooorning Teme-sama….I've made you your favorite herbed scrambled eggs and sugar-free musk melon juice! Smiiiiile for me…"

Sasuke nodded his thanks and scowled. Naruto had known that asking for the Uchiha to smile was a bit too much and settled from grinning enough for two. He spent sometime watching the brunet eat…somehow since he'd decided not to runaway from his feelings; he just felt the need to act on them. Not that he was going to tell the Uchiha how he felt, but he was going to try and win back Sasuke's favour.

After breakfast he whisked Sasuke off to a massage place for some good and healthy backrubs. Naruto poked the teme in the shoulder. "God that's a huge amount of tension there…."

Sasuke scowled. "Well yes…not everyone would like to skip work and get back massages…"

"You are so anal teme!"

"Shut up."

"Teme!" Naruto whined. Then he put on a sympathetic look. "Aw, it's ok teme-baby, the sweet little masseur will get you feeling all better." He ducked the punch that swung his way and did a little victory dance inside his head. He'd broken past one of Sasuke's barriers and the banter was back to normal!

Sasuke stripped down to nothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. Seeing Naruto in similar garb made him want to jump the blond. He shrugged it off and missed Naruto giving him a similar look. They continued their banter throughout the massage though it was interspersed by a few moans when something felt a bit too good…each moan making them blush slightly.

It was in the dressing room that things got a little weird; each man tried hard not to check each other out but ended up doing just that. Neither realised the other was doing the same things until their eyes met…it was a time for blushes and glares.

"Checking me out, dobe?"

"Not really, baa-chan…just marvelling at how the stick got out of your ass…"

"Still suck at insults, eh?"

"Teme…"

Sasuke stepped aside as Naruto swung at him and knocked him on the head. Naruto whined and tried a kick…they got caught and got chucked out.

"Your fault, dobe…"

"What? Your prissy little bum can't take being chucked out?"

"An unhealthy obsession with my ass don't you think?"

Naruto gaped at him and then looked away. It kept him shut for a while, with Sasuke smirking. Naruto fumed…the teme was back in bastard mode…good…but it didn't mean that Naruto enjoyed it!

He took the raven to a comedy next. "Took" meaning forced Sasuke inside by threatening to tell all the women that Sasuke was looking for the "one". Sasuke wore a disgusted expression.

"Resorting to blackmail, dobe?"

"No. Just threatening you, if you don't comply…"

Sasuke rolled his eyes. "It's the same thing!" Nevertheless the moment big blue eyes turned on in full blast Sasuke sighed and went in. sasuke never noticed Naruto watching him like a hawk through half the movie.

So when the blond took a chance during one of the darker times to lightly brush his lips against Sasuke's the brunet was caught off guard. He recovered and glared, trying desperately not to lean forward again.

Naruto almost smirked knowing what was going on in Sasuke's mind. So Operation: Separate Sasuke from Gaara, was working perfectly. He just shrugged when Sasuke stared at him and accept the clout that came his way.

Sasuke couldn't brush it off as easily as he thought he could. He was craving Naruto's lips once more. So the second time the blond leaned in Sasuke kissed him back for a few seconds before pushing him away. Gaara…think Gaara…

"Stop it!"

"Why?"

Sasuke wanted to tell him to stop because of Gaara…but something stopped him. He just got out of his seat and stalked out of the theatre. But he was stalking as fast as he wanted to because the blond caught up very quickly. A few apologies later, they were headed home.

The next few days went by in almost the same way, with changes in the destination. Naruto kept taking small opportunities to kiss him…claiming that Sasuke had looked too 'hot' to ignore. For some reason, Sasuke couldn't shut him out like he used to. And so passed the week. They visited amusement parks, shrines, tea houses (where Naruto played the part of a tea master in a kimono…it bothered Sasuke because only the honoured were ever given the honour of a tea ceremony), hot springs, movies and restaurants.

Sasuke had had fun. He hadn't had this much fun since Arashi had died. The evening before Sasuke's business trip with Gaara who was back, but was willing to meet him at the airport tomorrow, they were sitting on Naruto's bed. Naruto had found a box of old pictures and had once more bullied Sasuke into looking at them.

"Look at this one…gah…you're giving that 'I'm a Teme' smirk again….you were only 10 years old!!" Naruto laughed.

Sasuke smirked. "Ah…but you're still giving that goofy grin…I remember that time…you wanted that fox and you threw the biggest tantrum you could! Finally Arashi agreed after you peed in the neighbour's garden!"

Naruto growled. "Shut up…you did worse things, like setting Kanami-san's shoes on fire…"

"That was because she always threw them at us when you got us into trouble!"

Naruto harrumphed and fished out another picture. "Look at this! You're wearing that rainbow coloured shirt I got you…why do you look so sad teme?"

Sasuke's eyes suddenly darkened. He looked at the picture, but hoped that Naruto couldn't see the emotion wreaking havoc within. This was just before Naruto had proposed to Hinata. He remembered that feeling of helpless of knowing what was to come…the time he'd lost Naruto…

"Sasuke?"

Sasuke ignored the question and made to stand up. "I just remembered something that I have to do…"

Naruto just upped and tackled him then. "What's on your mind…?"

Sasuke felt the breath get knocked out of him as he collapsed face first onto the other side of the bed. "Nothing…if you don't let me go now, I'll hurt you Naruto…"

Naruto just rolled over so that Sasuke was above him and he'd gotten a good grip on the teme. "Sasuke…don't look like that…please…"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow and attempted to answer, when Naruto leaned closer. Suddenly he was drowning in those blue eyes…all those messed up emotions came haring back…except now he was the one with someone else…

Sasuke's mind made a good conscious decision and his head dipped. Their lips met in a soft and passionate kiss…

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"What is your situation, Sai?"

"He hasn't called me in a week…since the time that boyfriend of Uchiha's disappeared…"

Orochimaru glared at him. "I don't believe you've been working hard enough…Naruto-kun was supposed to like you…he was supposed to want you as his substitute to the Uchiha…"

Sai sighed. "I've tried…he can't…" Sai tried his fake smile. "He's in love with the Uchiha…there's nothing more I can do…"

Orochimaru's face tightened. "Get out of my sight!" His voice sounded like the hiss of a snake, and his reptilian eyes flickered with hatred.

Sai gracefully stood. "As you wish. Danzou-sama will talk to you about my payment later…I did my job after all…"

Orochimaru watched the man leave and waited a while to get his feelings under control. His assistant Kabuto entered with a clipboard, methodically marking various things off it, absently biting the end of his pen when he paused to think about some of it.

"Something wrong, Orochimaru-sama…"

"Uchiha Sasuke…"

Kabuto smiled softly. "But you know we've all ready got someone on his case…the Uchiha will be disappearing very soon…"

Orochimaru nodded. "Yes…but I can still hate him."

Kabuto just nodded and retreated from the room. He didn't want to be near his boss when he was in this mood.

After his assistant was out of the room, Orochimaru crossed over to the left wall and picked up a picture frame from the shelf. "Well my love, the time has come to take back what was mine…"

His eyes, full of love and bitterness lingered on the frame. In the picture, a younger and actually handsome Orochimaru smiled up at the camera, his arms wrapped around his lover; laughing blue eyes and bright blond hair…a seventeen year old Arashi grinned back up at the camera leaning back into Orochimaru's hold.

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A/N: how was that? At least I updated before six months passed and I'm proud… gosh I'm actually really sorry I hadn't updated before but I got this done today!! I'm trying to work on TBATB now and I don't know when I can get over the writer's block for that fic!! Hope you enjoyed this chapter!!

Ja na

Taka

Please review and keep my motivation going!! Let me know what you think of the chapter and all!!