Author's Note: Written for Kat's birthday. She wanted SasuNaru with a bit of ambiguous Itachi love in there, so she got this! Hopefully, I was effective at portraying that. Enjoy! /Author's Note

Three days. Nine hours. Twenty-four minutes.

That was the time he had been gone, give or take a minute. At least, that was what the latest tally was according to Shikamaru, and who was Naruto to call into question his genius (albeit reluctant advisor) As far as he was concerned though, that was just. . . . .too long.

And it didn't help that the whisper of traitor had risen once more. Naruto couldn't even say it was back from the dead (like some super-secret zombie ninja project), because the damn title had never died in the first place when it came to Sasuke. Honestly, that bastard really left him with no fun. You would think it was the least Sasuke could have done for taking off on him again.

Yet again.

Naruto sighed, chewed mindlessly on the end of his pen for a minute before staring blankly down at the document he was supposed to have been reading. Tsunade was going to expect some kind of coherent thought on the matter of. . . .what the hell was the topic again?

"Ne. . . .Shikamaru. . ." Naruto whined. He poked restlessly at the stack of papers still waiting to be attended to. Did Tsunade really think all of this was going to help him take her place? Weren't there other ninja more capable of handling paperwork (like Neji or Shino even. . .Naruto knew better than to shove the whole load onto Shikamaru than him) than him? "What am I supposed to be reading about? You can tell me, right, and then I won't have to read this!"

See? He was plenty smart.

Shikamaru merely rolled his eyes and placed the next shogi piece on the board as though he hadn't even heard. There was something muttered, but Naruto didn't try to decipher it. He was fairly certain what it was anyway.

"Come on. . . .Even time I start reading this stuff, I end up. . ."

Naruto glanced out of the window, blue eyes drawn immediately to the thick forest surrounding Konoha's walls. His sentence was left unfinished. What did it really matter? There was no point in trying to learn if all of him wasn't here.

"Heh. . .I thought you said you didn't like this."

Fingers pushed upward, rebelling against the cover the dark blue shirt offered. Claiming. It was as if they understood that words meant nothing, that this was theirs and had always been.

Not that Naruto was about to agree with that, but Sasuke took it all in stride. Even when those lips pulled back into semi-snarl (too half-hearted to be taken seriously), the Uchiha heir remained undeterred. Took every little act of defiance without skipping a single heartbeat. For the snarl, there was a smirk. For the jerk backwards, there was a rough tug on cloth. Nothing left unanswered.

"I thought I said to stop this. . . .aahh. . .Sasuke!"

There was a sharp gasp as teeth nipped at his shoulder, a flush of red billowing out over his cheeks when laughter was all that greeted his words.

"You asshole! Come on!" Naruto huffed. Struggling within the grasp the Uchiha had on him only seemed to lock him further into this. . .this. . .mess. He was a mess. "Bastard, how the hell am I supposed to go to this meeting looking like this!?"

"Hmm?" Lips roamed over skin, climbed the column of Naruto's neck with the easy flare of the well-known. "Not really my problem, is it, moron?"

Six days. Nearly a week and there had been nothing. Not a single word. It was hard just to rally the anger for that now. Easier, he was finding it, to just sink into his thoughts. Of the things he would do when that bastard finally came back. Of the things that had been done before. . .


The blond ninja jumped at the sound of his name, issued in the harsh tone of annoyance that only Tsunade seemed to possess. He shifted in his seat, then ran a hand through his hair, embarrassed.

"Have you even heard a damn thing I've said to you these last three minutes?"

She was glaring at him. He hated it when she did that. It always made him feel guilty. . .and want to scream right back at her in defense of whatever it was that stare was accusing him of. Giving a weak laugh, Naruto mumbled something along the lines of not really.

Funny how he always seemed to forget that keeping his mouth shut in these matters was more useful than half the things that came out. Tsuande gave a frustrated sigh and sank back into her chair.

"He's not coming back."

Immediately, Naruto stiffened at those words. All the anger he thought had failed him suddenly rose up, slamming against skin as if that were the only way out of its physical confines. Fingers clenched, tight fists that had nails biting into his palms. A tremor of betrayal.

"Like you would know that," he growled.

Tsunade shifted, her eyes trained carefully on Naruto. "Did you honestly think he would stay here when he realized that man wasn't dead?"

Blue eyes widened slightly. But there was nothing of shock there. Because he had known. They all had known. That organization had been scattered, most dead but there had been a few. . .He had witnessed Sasuke's reaction himself. He had hoped though, that maybe this time. . .

"That boy. . . .He's only ever thought of one person," she stated quietly. Perhaps it was a truth that needed to be heard. Naruto had already proven the depths of his loyalty (the kind, she knew too well, that bordered on madness), and she wasn't willing to tolerate that again. Not at this point in time. "You have Konoha, brat. Don't forget that."

There wasn't much of a reply to that. Just a short grunt of acknowledgment, a string of would-be words that died before they could hit his lips. Naruto pushed up and away from his seat, then offered Tsunade a short bow before turning towards the door.

He hadn't needed to hear those words. People thought him dense, but the thing was, when you loved something, needed something so much, you could feel goodbye well before it ever came.

And he had done everything to avoid confronting that. Maybe he if just acted like always. Maybe if he made himself be content with the now. . . His back hit the wall, and there was nothing at all to stop him from sliding down to the ground and burying his face in his hands.

"Sasuke. . . .stop it. . . .c'mon. . ."

There was the rustle of sheets, followed by a burst of amused laughter. Then, the Uchiha heir was on top on him, perfectly straddling his hips and leaning down in that dangerously close sort of way. It was what Naruto loved, having the other boy that near to him. Without the wall-slamming fights that always left him bruised and barely conscious. This was something else entirely.

Perhaps the only thing he had ever really wanted all this time.

When hatred was all you had known growing up, wasn't it inevitable that the only thing you'd want before you died was to be truly loved by someone?

"I don't want to, Naruto," Sasuke murmured, lips pressed against the blond's throat. There was the smallest quirk of his lips as he shifted, hips giving that enticing roll. Naruto gave a moan, and Sasuke merely rewarded the sound with a quick nip to the blond's collarbone. "Not when you sound like that, moron. . ."

Naruto merely growled, attempted to shove the other boy off of him but failed miserably. Though, it was kind of hard to call that a failure when he really didn't want Sasuke off of him in the first place. He didn't fail when it came to the Uchiha heir.

"Hmph, funny that you could want other things now," the blond grumbled as his hands were pressed into the mattress at the wrists. It wasn't as though it had all been forgotten. For all the betrayal Sasuke had suffered, he had doled out his own in equal amounts. There had been enough hurt served over the last few years to make it impossible to forget. Forgive, maybe. Forgetting was simply not an option. Naruto could only hope that the quiet ache that still came from those memories would dull in time.

It helped though having Sasuke like this. Even if he still was an arrogant asshole that left him wanting to punch that gorgeous face just as often as he wanted to kiss it.

He could feel the smirk before he could see. Sasuke kept it well hidden, revealing it only at the last moment as he rose to a full sitting position and merely stared down at his captive. "Who says I haven't wanted these things all along?"

Word reached him sooner than he had expected it to. Faster probably because of Kiba, who despite his distaste for the Uchiha held enough respect for Naruto to send him the report first. But he had known even without that warning. As if the entirety of him had been waiting for that single moment when Sasuke's presence was close enough to be felt once more.

And from that, he was gone. Abandoned his duty to fly over dirt and dying leaves to the one he knew he would have forsaken almost anything for. Just short of betraying the village that had once hated him. But Sasuke. . .he had never really betrayed Konoha.

"Sasu. . ." Naruto started, but stopped as the wind died down. It was easy enough to say that someone was there when you wanted them to be. Naruto couldn't even count the nights he had been certain the other boy had been there, that his mission had been completed. "You're here aren't you?"

But this place felt right. Or maybe it was because it felt so terribly wrong. The thing about goodbye was that no matter where you were, you felt it. That was the godawful thing about loving something. And it wasn't the sharp crack into existence that some would have you believe. It crept over you slowly, gnawing at your confidence and breeding a whole new gut-wrenching brand of it. It was the certainty that killed.

Naruto waited. There was blood on the wind, crisp and new-born. If his life thus far had taught him anything it was to recognize when and where a battle had been fought. Not too long ago, but certainly not here.

"Tch. . . couldn't you have waited for me at the apartment?"

It was the usual irritation, and Naruto couldn't help but breathe a small sigh of relief. There was a flurry of movement to his left. Turning to face Sasuke, Naruto waited, prepared with a bright smile. Something to look forward to when one came home. Even if he thoroughly planned on pummeling the jackass the minute he sorted out the wounds and best places to hit.

But even the best laid plans could catch on the inevitable. Gripping his side, Sasuke leaned heavily against the tree that had been supporting him. Breaths were rapid, but neither too deep nor too shallow. Just enough for hope. Sasuke had always been a bastard about that though.

Everything Naruto had planned on saying fled his mind at the sight. There was blood. Lots of it. Streaking haphazardly over cloth and skin and merely hinting at the damage that had been done. Yet, there was a smile on the Uchiha's lips. Tired, but not broken, it was at least honest, and it made Naruto's heart stutter-step into despair.

"Heh. . .so stupid. . ." the Uchiha heir muttered, ". . .the things you do for love. . ."