Disclaimer: I'll never own Naruto.
A/N: This is a train wreck project; I shouldn't be starting anything multi-chaptered, considering that I have finals waiting for me and RL is crazy at the moment. However, I had to get this out of my system (and just had to write after getting into a very nasty argument with my father). And here my attempt to AWOL from the fandom is thrown of the window. All criticism accepted.
Naruto Uzumaki, as a general rule, hated trains: they were filthy, smelly and one was always being served cold, mud-like squelching tea. Of all things, he loathed this fancy brand of tea not because he was a pansy, but because he didn't have suicidal tendencies. He didn't need to die of some weird infection, no sir; cold tea, as a reliable source had told him, nearly always lead to mysterious infections.
Besides, he – being the unquestionably or rather unfortunately fortunate bastard he was, constantly managed to get stuck with some freak in his compartment; either a sexually frustrated housewife desperate seeking an "adventure" or one of those closeted homosexuals. As in, men in their late thirties who had finally discovered that they were into the same sex and were on the lookout for any eligible bachelor.
Contrary to what these reflections suggested, Naruto wasn't homophobic -- far from it, in fact. Indeed, he would have been an awful hypocrite to be one: he was bisexual himself and it would have been remarkably weird to go against his own preferences. He just didn't like older men and, most of all, he didn't want to get involved in any messy business. Fooling around with said-repressed, still married closeted men was a considerably risky deal, leading to heartache and against common sense – and Naruto liked to believe that he did possess an ounce of common sense, even though the majority of his acquaintance believed he didn't.
So far, sitting on that obscenely loud train travelling from Kyoto to Tokyo, truly didn't make him reconsider his prejudices. As expected, it was boiling hot and stuffy in the compartment; dead flies lay scattered about the window sill and the zoosh-zoosh motion of the train made him feel dizzy; he felt like being seasick – a sensation similar to your head swelling up like a balloon-- which was dumb because no normal person was sea-sick on a damned train. Oh yes, he was certainly blessed.
God, he wanted to be in his apartment already, kick off his shoes and watch the telly all night long; there was nothing better out there than rotting his brain with atrocious horror movies. He hadn't seen anything good for days; the programmes in his hotel room had been either documentaries or shopping channels.
He hated documentaries; they put him to sleep faster than sitting by a warm fire and watching the flames twirling in the hearth.
The second option didn't appeal to him either because he wasn't a posh lady, hence there was no need for him to buy hair products – it was a waste of money, as well.
Driving his fingers through his tousled hair, Naruto mused on how messy it was and, by his action, he was making it look even messier. Oh well, he had a bird's nest for hair, but really didn't care.
He was alone and, though Naruto was a sociable fellow, he was mighty glad: no prim and proper idiot was bothering him.
"So, I'll just take off my shoes now and take a nap," he said to no one in particular and, leaning down, was about to untie his shoes, but stopped midway. Perhaps, this wasn't such a good idea, after all: he could get caught and he didn't want to attract any unnecessary attention, even though a part of him was very, very eager to cause a little commotion – but he was an adult, wasn't he?
"It's not like I haven't had got enough trouble already."
Of course, sooner than he had voiced these thoughts aloud, there was a harsh knock on the compartment door and, without further ado, it was pushed wide open, revealing the disgruntled looking face of another male.
"Fuck," Naruto cursed silently, hoping that the other man didn't hear this pricelessly eloquent exclamation.
"Would you mind, if I sit here?"
"No, of course not," Naruto replied politely, not forgetting that he lived in a country renowned for its politeness and good breeding. And though he wasn't a stickler for good manners, he felt generous today.
"Burn in hell," he thought and tried his best to act inconspicuous, which according to him, meant not to scrunch his nose in disgust and exclaim his disappointment loudly.
"So, you're going to Tokyo as well?" Naruto asked, though he honestly didn't care; he was merely trying to be friendly. Besides, occasional chit-chat was fine, as long as it didn't cross any dangerous boundaries.
"That's none of your business," the young man replied testily, as if he'd been asked to undress or do something humiliating. There was on his – which Naruto soon took notice of – a scowl on his pale face.
"Sorry for asking, man."
"Shut up. I'd rather not talk."
Fine, you retarded, antisocial venom. That's what you get for trying to be nice. I really do hate trains.
Naruto repressed banging a fist into the moron's face. What the hell was he on? They had barely met and the moron was already insulting him: Naruto's ego was hurt. Normally, he didn't get insulted because he was an awesome guy and, in general, people liked awesome guys. Surely, in his high school days, he had been well-known for picking up fights and being a little out of bounds, but he'd never ever met someone like this before, had never felt the urge to pummel someone black and blue like that. That – guy – made him want to yell, scream and shout.
Now, that he was more or less face to face with the man, he could see – oh, he wasn't blind – how damned handsome the guy he was. Scratch that, he was beautiful – like one of those models he had seen in the magazines. Scary. Men weren't supposed to be that good-looking: it was ... weird.
"Why are you staring at me?"
"Huh? I -- uuh -- wasn't staring at you. Why should I?"
Damn, Naruto thought. This was a good start.
"Then don't, dumbass.."
Hell, it wasn't as if he was interested; there was nothing appealing in this guy, even though he was, well, good-looking. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said about his personality. So far, Naruto considered him to be an asshole with a stick shoved up his rear. Or, this was the result of not getting laid it enough. Whatever it was, Naruto hated the man's guts.
"You're still doing it," the good-looking, fuckwit remarked, his voice exasperated.
"Staring at me with that idiotic expression of yours. "
Naruto sighed and turned his head to the window, apathetically regarding the landscapes seemingly escaping from the train; the scenery changed and flickered so quickly from his sight that it made him feel dizzy again. Idiotic.
"I'm not looking at you anymore. Happy?"
If Naruto had taken a book with him, he might have found something worthwhile to pass his time with. But he didn't like reading, so that was a no-go, so he stared out of the window for a couple of minutes until his neck started to itch pretty badly.
"Tell me, were you born an asshole or do you always treat strangers like this?"
"Only the ones who are morons."
The man-- whatever, his fucking name happened to be – was smirking with a self-satisfied air: it seemed like he had a notion of his apparent superiority and indulged in it, the way a cat indulges in licking its fur. Or the way a dog chews upon a cherished bone.
"I swear to hell, if I wouldn't get into trouble for it, I'd kick that pretty ass of yours."
Oh, he wouldn't only kick his arse, but do so much more. He would wipe that smirk out of his face: no one insulted Naruto and got away with it.
"Like you'd have the guts. "
"I do have the guts. No question about that."
Of course, he had the guts, but – fucking hell and all – he worked for the police and usually the police didn't get into fist fights. Naruto wasn't a millionaire and wasn't going to get fired on account of this pathetic excuse for a man.
"I'd rather think you're like one of those dogs," the black-haired stranger told him briskly, sending jolts down Naruto's spine with that awful smirk of his. "A small dog who barks, but has no bite."
With an audible gulp, Naruto rose from his seat, ignoring the look on the other's face and, grabbing his stuff, made way to leave the compartment. Too much was too much; he wasn't going to shit from anyone and didn't deserve this.
"No, savin' you from having broken bones, bastard."
It wasn't only relief and happiness that made Naruto glad to see Sakura: it was something that came closer to euphoria – the sort that is maddeningly contagious and has the life span of a minute. As soon as he was safely on the ground and out of that dumb, foolish train, Sakura's arms were around him and he felt that familiar sensation of her hair brushing his cheek. He had missed her quite a bit, even though they weren't an item. Then again, it was entirely possible – in spite of the various clichés and misconceptions – for a man and woman to be friends. Really.
"Hey, Naruto, don't suffocate me. It's not like we've haven't seen each other in years."
Oh damn her. To him it had been years -- a lifetime, nearly.
"How was your trip?"
It hadn't only been fine, it had been spectacularly boring and uneventful. He hated sights, wasn't much into culture nor religion – in short, there hadn't been anything there for him. He had just wandered around aimlessly and slept most of the day.
"What's the matter? You look furious."
"I met a bastard on the train. Said helluva dumb stuff like dog, no bite etc..."
Sakura sighed, gave him that look of having heard it all before, but then smiled at him. "And you care about the opinion of strangers since when...?"
"I don't, but he was so...damn."
Naruto gesticulated wildly, throwing to show her all his indignation and fury; she got the picture.
"Well, you won't see him anymore. So forget it."
"Yeah, you're probably right."
"Come on, forget it. I'll even pay for the ramen this time."
Now, that was an invitation he couldn't decline because it was a rare treat. Sakura never offered to pay for anything, unless she was feeling very charitable or wanted to apologise.
"You're just a small dog with no bite."
As dumb as it was, the words wouldn't leave his thoughts and were driving him mad with anger – he wasn't anything of the sort.
"And you're sure you're not troubled?" Sakura asked, interrupting Naruto's reflections.
"Troubled? By what? The vacation was boring, but hell, well deserved."
There was an uncomfortable silence after that. Sakura shifted in her seat, averted her gaze from Naruto's and quickly changed the subject:
"No, I mean about that guy you met. "
Naruto snorted ungraciously.
What was with females and their interest in the guys one met? Naruto, as much as he tried to understand women, never understood that: there wasn't anything miraculous in meeting other people, especially not the ones in a device made for transportation. He saw tons of blokes each days: various men of different sizes, attitudes and hairstyles. And they didn't mean anything to him, just like that asshole.
"Sakura-chan, if I say I'm fine, then I'm fine. "
"You dimwit. I've known you for over ten years now...and you've never sat toying around with your food like that."
"Oh come on. It's nothing. He was bastard, some snobbish, spoilt guy who had a bad day or something like that. It doesn't have anything to do with my mood."
"If you say so. But I still think you're a pretty bad liar."
"Sakura-chan, if this some kinda crap about me being in love, then you're insane."
"Why so? It's not a crime and you're single...you've been so for ages."
Again, he snorted and, finally, stuffed some of the ramen into his mouth. He had not been in a relationship since...well, forever, but that didn't mean he was desperate. He was a man and men didn't set a store on such things: there was none of this "once bitten, twice shy" kind of crap in life's philosophy. He just wasn't interested. If he wanted sex, he knew where to get it – he could always find the right bedfellow for the night. That was fun.
"I'm twenty-two, Sakura-chan. The world doesn't expect a man of my age to settle down."
He knew that Sakura was going to give him a lecture. Maybe, on how she had found happiness with Lee and how wonderful it was to have someone by your side – all that rubbish on the beauty of waking with someone on your side and not being lonely.
"Besides, the last thing I need in my life right now is love. Least of all from assholes I've only met once. 'is not a romantic comedy."
"Naruto...I was only joking. But wouldn't it be nice, if it was?"
"Whatever. You're so cheesy."
"Coming from the guy who read poetry to make me go with him."
"That was ages ago and ...you never did go go out with me. It still breaks my heart."
That wasn't true, of course. Naruto had loved her back in the days. He still did, but with time, his feelings had grown more familial – he couldn't really explain it. He didn't love her less than before, but it wasn't the same love he had harboured for her as a teenager; that was one of the mysteries of life.
"Shut up, you fool."
"As you wish, my dear. I'm your sla-"
"I told you to hold your tongue!"
As usual, his apartment was a total mess. Or, in other words, it looked like a bomb had exploded there; a bomb filled with clothes, newspapers and tossed away pencils. Naruto had tons of these; he had a knack for gnawing upon pencils and, subsequently, left them all over the apartment complex.
There were two things he could do now: go to bed or make a night out of it. A part of him badly opted for the latter: he hadn't found anything noteworthy in Kyoto and his tension-filled, horny body wanted – needed – a good fuck. Something with no strings attached was just what he really desired.
Still, he was tired and sluggish: the excitement of having returned home had taken a toil on him. His body felt heavy – like he had drank too much and been hit on the head with a hammer – and, slowly but surely, his thoughts were solely focused on going to bed -- no point in denying it. And, against all better judgement, Naruto went to sleep in his clothes, not caring a whit about anything else.