Disclaimer: Yeah, it's mine. I mean, come on, Dangerrosa? Masashi Kishimoto? They sound exactly alike.

Pairings: SasNar

Warnings: Eventual yaoi. Always the language. Possible hand fetish (I'm still wondering where it came from, too…)?

Title is kinda random. Had a song stuck in my head.

Chapter 7: Two Ton Paperweight

Naruto walked home alone that evening—deciding he didn't want the Uchiha to accompany him for obvious reasons. Just what the hell had happened back there? One moment he and the bastard were rolling around wrestling frenziedly and the next—the next—

Just what the fuck had that been? Where had that all come from? Why?

His mind flashed back to Sasuke, hair dripping with a towel wrapped around his waist, retrieving a bottle of shampoo. And then, all of a sudden, he was a nice, bright magenta and desperately shaking his head, seeming to think that he could toss the image out of his mind and never have it haunt him again. But no such thing happened and Naruto swore he could hear the cackles of a sadistic god.

Alright! he cried. Maybe I liked it—maybe. But also maybe not!

His treacherous mind replayed the five-point-four second kiss again and a chill rippled down his spine despite the warm weather.

Alright! he cried to himself again. So it's probably a maybe!

More images of Sasuke, near naked, in the bathroom.

Alright! was his next cry. So I it's a maybe.

Another reply of the kiss.

Okay, okay! I enjoyed it! Damn. Naruto paused to rub his nose anxiously. Whose side is my overactive imagination on anyway? The damn sadistic god's?

Naruto sighed, feeling very bummed. Honestly, why the hell had Sasuke kissed him? It wasn't like the blond even insinuated it—it had all been the Uchiha's doing. It hadn't meant anything—right? Right. Naruto snorted. Guys did things like that all the time—kissing and messing around. He had heard about guys practicing kissing techniques on each other all the time. It was normal. It didn't mean anything.

It had felt so—heated thoughlike he was being engulfed in some sort of—

It didn't mean anything, Naruto snarled (a little too) hastily, shutting up his thought process effectively.

Besides. Sasuke was more than probably interested in the fairer sex. It was just downright rare and wrong for a competent, good-looking guy like Sasuke (Naruto groaned at his thought that Sasuke was good-looking) to have no interest in girls. It just didn't happen. Right? Right.

Having contented himself that it was simply the raging hormones and curiosity of the stereotypical teenager that had led to their heated kiss, he nodded and unlocked the front door of his house.

And still, Naruto couldn't shake himself of it. Sasuke had spent a lot of time with him lately—and had been lying about a lot of things like where he lived and needing tutoring the day before (the only tutoring he got was on Naruto's history).

It wasn't until he was almost up the stairs that he realized with widened eyes and a quiet snarl the most important thing:

That was my first kiss!

While he didn't necessarily keep a to-do list, there were a few things that Gaara expected himself to do and not do. On the same note, there were a few things that he expected to happen and didn't expect to happen. One such thing that he most definitely didn't expect expect—nor did he volunteer for—was to open his door, thinking his visitor was an innocent person, and have a large, blond, flying mass tackle him.

"Gaara-chaaan!" the mass cried enthusiastically.

Oh, it was Naruto… well, never mind then: previous incident now expected.

"Naruto. Please. Release my neck."

Said large, blond, flying mass released Gaara and chuckled, scratching the back of his head. "Sorry, Gaara-chan. I'm easily excited, ya know?"

Boy, did he ever.

"Hn," Gaara hummed in agreement, then moved out of the doorway so Naruto could bounce—no, literally, bounce—inside.

"So what've you been up to, Gaara-chan?" the blond enthused, making a bee-line for the living room and flopping on the couch.

Gaara didn't respond right away. Naruto took the time to ruffle through the papers that were lying on the table nearby. Gaara then appeared out of no where with two cups. He extended one toward his guest. Naruto took it absent-mindedly, sipping at the warm liquid and smacking his lips afterward appreciatively.

"Mmm, hot chocolate… sometimes you know me too well." He grinned over at Gaara who had taken a seat next to him.

"That girl was over here and we were working on our English assignment," Gaara informed Naruto, finally answering his question.

"Oh, yeah. The English assignment." Naruto gave a nervous chuckle and promptly stared down into his cup, suddenly fascinated with the thin film of white bubbles that was slowing disappearing from the surface of his drink.

However, no matter how hard he tried to slip past Gaara's notice, he knew Gaara's keen senses would pick up the anxiety that was pouring off of him in waves. And, of course, because those damn gods were sadists who just loved to torture a certain Naruto Uzumaki, he could feel Gaara's gaze probing him, waiting for the story and-or explanation that was due.

Naruto spilled everything, just like the pot eventually does in that blasted game of Don't Spill the Beans. (1)

Gaara, for his part, sat completely motionless as Naruto gave a very detailed summary of the events that transpired at the Uchiha's, telling of how he actually spilled the Holy of Holies (ramen), and how Sasuke-teme actually lived in a palace with perverts for body guards/security/butlers/whatever-the-hell-Kakashi-sensei-was. He briefly touched base on how he looked for a mop, skipped the whole Sasuke-plus-shower-plus-nakedness-equals-holy-crap-I-can't-breathe! and told Gaara about the kiss. In full detail.

Gaara seemed to turn a little green at the idea of the Uchiha with a sex drive, but other than that, he seemed relatively calm as Naruto spoke. Seemed—another key word.

As soon as Naruto finished with his summary, Gaara promptly stood up, arms crossed, face unreadable.

"Uh… Gaara, where are you going?" Naruto blinked in confusion.

"I'm going to kill him," Gaara responded simply.

Naruto quickly tackled him. The unexpected (well, nothing is unexpected when Naruto is involved) motion caused Gaara to lose his balance and they both crashed onto the couch again.

"Sit down," Naruto told Gaara. "It's nothing, really. Just… calm down, okay?"

Gaara didn't respond, but he also wasn't leaping for the door anymore, so Naruto resumed to spill his woes.

He sighed. "I mean, Gaara-chan… it's like… I dunno… I didn't mind it. I don't know if I liked it or not, but—where are you going?" he cut himself off to ask as Gaara stood again.

"I'm going to kill him," Gaara once more responded simply.

Naruto grabbed his arm and pulled him back down to the couch. Gaara once more didn't seem like he was going to make any sudden movements, though he was glaring straight ahead rather angrily.

"As I was… I mean, I don't know what to think anymore! He's all nice to me one moment, then he acts like I'm some sort of rubbish that he accidentally stepped in and now has to clean off his shoe. I mean—I just—rrrg!" Naruto threw his hands up in the air and sighed. "I don't know how I feel anymore…"

A long pause as each contemplated ideas and thoughts. Then—

"Where are you going?" Naruto peered up at Gaara curiously as the redhead stood abruptly.

"I'm going to kill him."

Naruto then proceeded to (once more) drag Gaara back down to sit next to him.

"Gaara-chan… I'm having issues here and you're not listening!" the blond whined. "I mean, I'm just so confused! What the hell is wrong with me? If I liked that kiss—and no, I'm not saying that I did for sure—does that mean that I like that bastard?" Naruto wrinkled his nose at the thought. "Do I like Sasuke?"

This time, Naruto didn't even bother to ask Gaara where he was going when he jumped to his feet. Instead, he grabbed the redhead's sleeve and tugged him down to the couch, wordlessly and still fretting over his problems.

"Gaara," Naruto started, his voice uncharacteristically serious and anxious, "if I were to like Sasuke, would that make me gay?"

As a law, he protected those he cherished without fail. It was the way he was made to function. It was in his blood. Not only that, but nothing could stop him from doing whatever was necessary to protect his cherished. It was impossible for anyone to stop him; no one dared and no one could.

Ever since he had been little, Naruto had always been by his side, keeping him happy and sane. They had met at a young age and had always been inseparable. As kids, Naruto had always led a life of trouble—from pranks to playground scuffles. Every single time he had helped bail him out of trouble and smooth things over.

In a way, Gaara felt it was his job to take care of Naruto.

Needless to say, when he say Naruto distressed—over that damn Uchiha, nonetheless—he wanted to tear the raven to shreds. (It was going to happen sooner than later, anyway, so why not get it over with sooner and enjoy it—that was Gaara's feelings toward the situation, at least.)

As such, Gaara was disgruntled that it was Naruto who wasn't letting him teach the Uchiha a lesson that he needed to learn a long time ago. Naruto, the one who was being preyed on by the Uchiha, wasn't letting him, Gaara, to destroy the predator—Uchiha Sasuke—and tidy things up.

Worse than that, Naruto actually said—out loud, in words—that he had been kissed by the predator, and wasn't sure if he liked it or not. Not only that, but Naruto wasn't sure if he liked the same boy who drove him crazy. And still, Naruto didn't allow Gaara to destroy him.

If that wasn't a conundrum, then Gaara didn't know what was.

And now, Naruto was growing upset about the possibility of having a homosexual preference. Mentally sighing, Gaara turned to his life-long friend and offered his best advice:

"I could always kill him for you. Then you'd have no one to be gay for."

The blond boy looked at him as though he had suddenly grown a green, tentacle-ridden head; a little add-on to the head he already had. Gaara almost felt offended—see if he ever gave life-changing advice of any sort ever again! Hmph.

"Gaara-chan, if I liked him, I wouldn't want you to hurt him," his friend pointed out.

Oh. Right.

"I would leave you a souvenir by which you could remember him," he also pointed out.

Again with that look. Gaara was almost tempted to quickly check a mirror, just to make sure that there were no strange malformations growing on his face.

"Uh… and, uh, what would this 'souvenir' be, dare I ask?" Naruto looked as though he was afraid of the answer.

"It would be your choice. I would suggest one of his eyes, though. His dark eyes are his most known attribute. If I recall correctly, the girls claim that they cause them to swoon."

And another look. Seriously, he was going to have to get a mirror at this rate. He didn't want unknown appendages growing where they didn't belong.

However, after a second, Naruto started to laugh hysterically, gripping his stomach with one hand and rubbing his eyes with the heel of the other as they started to water.

"Gods, Gaara-chan, I forgot how funny you can be sometimes!" the blond chortled.

Funny? Since when was he funny?

Naruto finally stopped laughing and slapped Gaara on the shoulder, smiling wildly. "Your sense of humor kills me sometimes. I almost forgot how funny you are when you're joking."

Joking? Who the hell said he was joking?

Naruto leaned back, still smiling contentedly. "Gods, Gaara, I also almost forgot how it feels to chill with you. It's refreshing."

Gaara grunted his "hn," as expected.

Naruto suddenly turned his head to look at Gaara more directly. "Uh… So, Gaara, I have a favor to ask you."

Gaara remained silent. Naruto took that as an encouragement to continue and did so. "Could you tell me why you hate Sasuke so much? Ya know what, just tell me everything you know about Sasuke while you're at it, yeah?"

Gaara looked at him and Naruto could just tell from the look that Gaara wasn't tickled pink about the idea.

"… Please?" Naruto tacked on, hoping to add effect, because he just knew that no one could resist him when he tried to add his touching effects. Except those sadistic gods—who Naruto was surely going to massacre, just wait! One day, when they weren't expecting it, he was gonna—

"I suppose," Gaara sighed, "that it's only fair that I tell you. That way you'll see who much of an imbecile you're being about all of this."

Naruto beamed. "Thanks, man! You're the bestest friend ever—"

"I'm really not in the mood for a hug right now," Gaara clipped, and Naruto froze, smile still in place and arms still outstretched. Then, he slowly sank back to his original seat, allowing his arms to fall to his sides only when Gaara had looked away.

"Anyway," Gaara continued, "after you left, I didn't really have anyone with whom I could talk to or be friends with. It was… lonely, for lack of a better word. When I started high school, I met—or maybe 'threw a desk at' is the better way to say it—the Uchiha on accident in our first year."

Naruto could only chuckle nervously at the image.

"I had been aiming for some stupid kid, but the idiot ducked and Uchiha was the one who the desk hit, in a manner of speaking. He used his arm to reflexively block it. He broke the desk." Gaara paused to sigh, as though what he was about to say was the most painful few words ever to be stringed together into one sentence. "For a while, I admired him. His parents were both killed by his brother—"

"It's because they refused to give him his ramen, you know," Naruto interjected fluidly, matter-of-factly, then continued to stare at Gaara expectantly, waiting to see how the story was going to end (with Gaara, Naruto was willing to be that it would end with an explosion and much death—and don't forget the traumatized children who wouldn't be able to sleep properly ever again because of the scary goats and piñatas). (Naruto shuddered at the thought of piñatas—those damn things were just waiting for reinforcements and then—BAM!—they'd exact their revenge for all those years of piñata abuse and stick molestation.)

But that was neither here nor there. Back to the matter at hand.

Gaara could only blink at his friend and say: "…"

Naruto beamed back, also saying: "…!"

Gaara sighed, more disappointed at himself for not expecting such a silly interruption. "Has anyone told you lately that you're a moron?"

"Actually, Gaara, I earned a new title! It's 'dingle bat!' " Cue more beaming. (2)

And cue more "…" on Gaara's part.

After more silence, Gaara decided to get back to the point. "As I was saying, though. His older brother destroyed their clan, though what sodium-saturated noodles had to do with, I couldn't honestly say."

"That's okay, Gaara-chan. Not all of us can reduce to the truth of the psychotic brother's true reasons for going shit-ballistic like I can," Naruto comforted his friend.

"… I think the word you were looking for was 'deduce.' "

A pause.

"No, reduce—when you make informed conclusions from the evidence."

Rather than pursue the topic further, Gaara continued once more. "His entire clan was killed by his brother and he has taken on the responsibility of his family's empire. He's inherited more money then anyone can ever dream of. He grew up completely alone, unwilling to trust anyone. I could see all of that and more in his eyes. His eyes were so dark, bleak, and empty. Yet they had so much depth behind them… I thought that maybe we could be friends."

Naruto burst out laughing, but cut himself off sharply when Gaara cast him an annoyed look. "Sorry," he murmured apologetically. "I just got this image of the two of you holding hands and walking toward the sunrise, with sparkles trailing after you and a large wave—"

"Do you want to hear this or not?"

Naruto clamped his mouth shut. "I'll try and keep quiet, Gaara-chan."

Gaara once more continued. "Anyway, I thought we could be friends. However, it didn't take me long at all to see that the Uchiha was very confused and lost in his own world of revenge and hostility. I didn't really care, though. His problem, not mine." Gaara paused, remaining motionless. Naruto was tempted to poke him, just to make sure he hadn't fallen asleep with his eyes closed (a feat that Naruto wouldn't put past Gaara's abilities).

But Gaara continued on his own after several moments. "However, he's not only lost in this world—but obsessed, body and soul, with finding and destroying his brother and restoring honor to his family's name. He's not afraid to step on whoever he needs to get to that point, either. He has no sense of moral when it comes to other people. He sees only his needs and desires. He puts nothing first and doesn't want mundane things like 'friendship.' He toys with people's emotions and then shuts them out of his life with a simple flick of his wrist. He does it all the time."

"Okay… but why does that bother you?" Naruto's brow furrowed.

Gaara looked disgusted. "While I'm not one to talk… not really anyway, he has become so obsessed with what he wants that he could probably be considered clinically insane at times. It's beyond the healthy point—I think the fact that I'm commenting on it should emphasis the severity of it. His obsession disgusts me," Gaara said simply. "I have no respect for anyone who functions like he does. I have no respect for him as a person. And I hate him for brainwashing you with his false charm. I don't want him to bring you down with him. Not only that, but he also isn't fond of me. He may be toying with you to get a rise out of me. He likes to play with people's emotions."

Naruto wrinkled his nose. "You analyze things too much. Nothing bad is gonna happen if I become friends with Sasuke."

Gaara looked much like he wanted to disagree with that notion. His gaze flicked over to Naruto to give him a Well-I-warned-you-and-no-I'm-not-going-to-bring-flowers-to-your-funeral-they're-much-too-expensive-and-you-should-be-glad-that-I-even-show-up look.

And yes, one look expressed all of that.

"Fine then, don't give me flowers," Naruto huffed. "I see what type of friend you are."

Gaara then proceeded to look at his friend as though he had lost his mind—which he probably had done long ago, knowing Naruto.

"So that's it?" Naruto asked suddenly. "Are you sure? You can't tell me any other juicy tidbits about him besides that?"

Gaara looked at him blankly. "Like what, might I ask?"

"I dunno… his history?"

"No one really knows much about him. He's a mystery. That's probably part of why he has such a gathering of fan girls that monitor his every move at school."

"Do you have any idea what his brother looks like?"

"Why, yes, I could draw an exact character sketch because I happen to have been there on that fateful night years ago when he went on his killing spree, before he went into permanent hiding."



"If I give you a pencil and paper do you think you could draw him for me?"

Gaara's eyebrow almost twitched. "Why not."

It wasn't a question.

Naruto hastily scrapped together a pen and a sheet of paper, basically throwing them at Gaara and trembling with excitement as his friend picked both up. In a few seconds and with a few pen strokes, Gaara had depicted beautifully what words could not and handed his masterpiece over to Naruto.

Naruto, past eager, snatched the paper away from his friend and scanned its contents with hungry eyes.

He then peered up at Gaara, who was flicking some dirt from under a fingernail.

He looked back down at the drawing.

Back up at Gaara.

And back to the drawing once more.

And back to Gaara again.

"Uh… Gaara?"

Back to the drawing.

A nonchalant "hn?"

"Uh… you do realize that this is an angry stick figure triumphantly holding a knife and standing over a few dead stick figures, don't you?"

Once more, a nonchalant "hn."

"And… are the stick figures drooling?" Naruto blinked in confusion.

"Bleeding," Gaara corrected just as nonchalantly, flicking away more annoying dirt.

"Bloody stick figures, then," Naruto amended, and then squinted. "And… is that stick figure in the back with an odd hairdo supposed to be Sasuke?"

This time, Gaara's response was, "Crying."


"He's crying, if you had actually paid attention."

Naruto paused before leaning closer to the paper, squinting harder than ever. Then: "Oh. Yes, he is. Alright, I'll rephrase then. Do you realize that this is an angry stick figure triumphantly holding a knife and standing over a few dead, supposedly bloody stick figures with a supposedly crying stick-figure Sasuke in the background?"

"I prefer to call it a masterpiece, but if that's what you're going to reduce it to, then yes," Gaara allowed, giving his hands a final once-over. He hated it when dirt was under his nails, he really did. If it were up to him, he would throw all the dirt in the world into a huge concrete case and pave the world. So much less mess. Plus, when people fell, they could actually crack their head open when they met the ground.

That was much more exciting than dirt, no?

"Um… Gaara? You do realize that you gave more detail to the blood than you did to Itachi, right?"

"If that's what you choose to observe."



"You didn't actually see Itachi, did you?"

Once more, Gaara's eyebrow almost twitched. "Do you honestly think that I was there all those years ago when the Uchihas were destroyed?"

Naruto's jaw dropped. "But you said—!"

"I was being facetious," Gaara drawled in monotone.

"So… you didn't see him?"

"That is what I just said, was it not?"

Naruto sighed, rolling his eyes. "Oh, whatever, Toots. I'll forgive you for lying. This time."

"But of course, dearest."

"But make a mental note to never do so again, agreed, hon?"

"Anything for you, foxy."

The both looked at each other.

And promptly burst into their own version of hysterical laughter—Gaara, a smirk and a small roll of his vocal chords that might or might not count as a small chuckle; Naruto, persistent hyena-shrieks that served as his too-funny-holy-shit-my-stomach's-falling-out-from-all-the-laughing! laughter.

"Ya know, Gaara-chan, I know that I've said this before, but I really missed hanging with you." Naruto used the heel of his palm to smear the tears that had gathered in the corners of his eyes. It felt great to relax with his childhood friend and play the silly games that they used to when they were younger… despite how immature they were (though what the point was in a game where the participants simply called one another by terms of endearment, he had no idea, but that was a thought for another day).

"Hm. Well, maybe if someone had written me every now and then, there would have been more of a correspondence."

Naruto winced. "Yeah, sorry. I really am, Gaara. Mizuki thought you were a bad influence and told Tsubaki to destroy and letters that you sent me. I also wasn't allowed to call you… um, not that I really knew your number, but that's beside the point!"

Gaara sighed quietly. "How have they been treating you, anyway?"

Naruto gave a one-shoulder shrug. "Okay, I guess. Tsubaki never really bothered me. In fact, she's decent as far as adoption parents run. She's pregnant, you know." He paused to take his own turn at sighing, then continued: "She could have another miscarriage and it's putting Mizuki in a horrible mood." He paused again to blow a scrap of bangs out of his eyes. "He keeps going on about how he's going to kick me out and blah blah blah—his needs."

"You're always welcome here," Gaara offered automatically.

"Of course I am… but living here would make me happy, and we can't have that, now can we?" He gave a bright, sardonic smile.

"I could always just kick his ass."

"I'll tell him to meet you behind school tomorrow, three sharp." Naruto grinned then snorted at his own joke.

And once more, who said Gaara was kidding about that?

"How're you feeling now?" Gaara asked, changing topics suddenly.

The blond waved the though away. "Fine, I swear. It's weird, but I swear I heal faster than jackrabbits screw in the spring. I had real troubles sleeping last night because of it, and this morning my body seemed to be convinced that something was sawing it in half. But as the day progressed, I just forgot about it. And now I don't feel it unless you touch—even the lightest touch… makes… it…" He drifted off and pulled a face, remembering full well the last time something gently touched his bruises.

Why the fuck had that bastard kissed him?

"Is anyone home or should I leave a message?" the redhead asked after a few moments of silence.

"You can leave a message after the tone." A three second pause, then: "I said fuck, no, I ain't washin' no dishes! You get off yo' fat ass an' wash 'em, bish!"

Gaara simply stared at his friend, unmoved at the pun-thing Naruto had attempted.

"But yeah, no, seriously, Gaara, I'm fine," Naruto said, jumping back to their previous conversation abruptly once he realized he was not going to get a rise out of his friend. "They're usually almost completely healed within a few hours; only hurt if you touch 'em."

"Hn," was the reply he got.

Other than that, they decidedly mostly to continue sitting on the couch and be lazy bums. A friendship couldn't live without those moments in which the participants simply sit on a couch and laze. It's how soul mates are created.

Or so Naruto proclaimed to Gaara, but what did he know? He was just an idiot. And he proudly reported this, as well, to his redhead friend.

Said redhead simply slapped his forehead in the faraway recesses of his imagination.

So, yes, there was a chance that Naruto and Gaara lost track of time. And why, yes, Naruto scrambled out of Gaara's in the wee hours of the night and scurried home. And of course, yes, Mizuki was there to greet Naruto when he closed the front door, breathing a little shallow from his excursion.

"Where have you been all night?"

And yes, he had not been expecting his guardian to be standing directly across from the door, arms crossed and face twisted with scorn. But, hey, quite honestly since when had life gone as he had expected it to?

"I was at a friend's working on homework," he answered, completely omitting Gaara—there was no need riling Mizuki up any more by mentioning the redhead. Mizuki hated it when Naruto was around him.

"You're lucky Tsubaki is home," Mizuki growled. "She hates it when we argue."

Naruto had no idea what to say in response, so he remained silent.

A slow, cold smirk spread across the older man's lips. "I think I can put up with not arguing with you for a few days. It's not as though you're going to be here for too much longer anyway."

Naruto was more than suspicious. "What do you mean?"

Mizuki shrugged a shoulder. "Who knows? Let's just say that I found a relative of yours."

Cerulean eyes narrowed. "I don't believe you."

Another one-shoulder shrug. "It doesn't matter if you believe me or not, brat. All that

matters is that in the end, you'll no longer be ruining my life."

Naruto snorted. "Right. Whatever you say."

With that, he brushed past his guardian and headed for his room. He was relieved and surprised when he wasn't pursued by an angry, screaming Mizuki—usually if Naruto walked away from him, he went on a rampage.

Rather than question his luck, he changed into looser clothes and dove into bed, rubbing his face against his soft pillow.

"I warned you."

It was a complete mess; tangles and snarls and thorns and snags and tears and darkness. He wasn't quite sure where he was. He couldn't see anything around him, just an inky darkness that seemed all-consuming. He was extremely confused as to why he was there and even more confused as to what was happening. He struggled, trying to grab something; trying to get away from the turmoil that was unfurling around him. But for all his struggling, he received no reward.

He didn't know how long he stayed there, but he felt as though he kicked and bucked for years, trying to find a way away from everything.

Though he hadn't realized it, until that point it had been deafeningly silent. Then, suddenly, an eerie pulsing noise reverberated throughout. And just as suddenly, every nerve in his body came alive—with a scalding fire. Pain surged through every fiber of his being and he tried to scream. His scream echoed back at him, growing louder and louder every time it repeated until he thought his ears would surely bleed.

Still, his nerves were liquid fire. Silently and pathetically, he writhed. He was left breathless by it all. The chaos around and within him temporarily convinced him he couldn't breathe and he thought he was going to suffocate. His lungs started to also burn, but in a different way. He gave in and writhed, knowing there would be no end.

But suddenly, there was an end.

"I warned you."

Suddenly, everything stopped; the noise abruptly screeched to an end; his pain abruptly cut itself off; the chaos around him abruptly disappeared.

And then, right before him, red eyes glowed ominously.

"I warned you to stay away from Uchiha Sasuke."

He heard it and yet he didn't. It was a whisper in the back of his mind. It was a scream in the darkness. It was a song he sang as a child. It took physical form and it was a picture he desired to hold and see. It was his pain, known only to him. It was all of this and it was nothing.

And then he was in chaos again and there was pain and he screamed and it echoed and it got louder and he thought his ears were going to bleed and he writhed and he gasped and his mouth formed silent screams and he struggled and he couldn't get away and he writhed and he succumbed and he was broken and his essence was ripped and he was forgotten.

"I warned you."

But god, how he writhed.

Air tore into his lungs and he lurched up, breathing pattern well past erratic. He held his fingers in front of his face and wriggled them, watching as they moved on command. He then used his fingers to feel his cheeks. He glanced around the room and soaked it in.

Convinced that he had merely been dreaming, Naruto gave a shaky sigh and lied back down. However, he was almost afraid to go back to sleep. His physical needs overcame his wishes, though, and in the end, he lost consciousness again.

Red eyes watched him balefully.

"I warned you."

Saturdays were days to be spent relaxing and living it up and doing anything without annoying bastard-teachers complaining and yelling about it. Basically, it was a free for all in which everyone did whatever the hell they wanted and no one said anything about it; perfect for madness and mayhem and fun.

Naruto planned to participate in all of that.

What he had not been expecting was to nearly trip over something large and blubbery when he raced outside.

He went down with a flurry of curses and climbed to his feet with the same vocabulary, especially after he saw exactly what it was that he tripped over. "What the fuck do you think you're doing? Trying to kill me while you have the chance?"

Cheeks stuffed and fairly clueless as to what was going on, the addressed boy looked up at Naruto and said through a mouthful of something scrumptious, "I was just sitting on the curb. Not my fault if you're so blind as to not see me."

Naruto glared. "Yeah, that's the excuse they all give. Who the hell are you, anyway?"

"I introduced myself to you yesterday," the other boy responded blandly.

Naruto paused to reflect over that. "… I think you're lying."

"I'm Chouji," the boy said.

"Great. What are you doing outside my house? You sure you're not hatching some plots to off me?"

Chouji rummaged through the box on his lap and popped some chocolate into his mouth. He then held the box out for Naruto to have. "No," Chouji finally answered. "This is for you."

Naruto blinked before accepting the box and peered inside. Two lonely pieces of chocolate looked back at him.

"Hey!" he exploded. "You ate my gift yesterday, and now you chow down on today's gift as you please? What gives? You're a horrible messenger!"

Chouji shrugged and stood. "At least you got some of it."

"I think I deserve to know the name of my secret admirer for all the trouble you put me through!" Naruto yelled, displeased.

"You'll figure it out eventually," Chouji reassured him. Then he turned on his heel and started to leave.

Naruto squawked indignantly as Chouji wandered away. "That's all you got for me?" Naruto raged. "You think I'm going to be okay with you just waltzing away like that, huh? Is that what you think?" Despite the fact that Chouji had disappeared around the corner by that point, Naruto kept ranting. "Next time I see you, we'll just see what happens! I'll kick your ass is what'll happen, by the way!"

"Why is it that every time I see you, you're talking to yourself?"

Naruto whirled. "Teme, don't sneak up on me like that!"

Sasuke pointed with a jab of his thumb to the sleek black limousine parked several meters behind them. "I'm here to pick you up."

Before he could think things through, Naruto dove into the limousine and started poking around. "Oh, wow, there's a fucking mini-fridge in here!" he cooed, opening it to check out what was inside. He grabbed a bottle from inside and popped off the cork and took a swig—

"I wouldn't drink that."

—and promptly spewed it out like a water jet, coughing and gasping for breath.

"What the hell is this shit?" Naruto asked Sasuke, who had taken his seat and motioned for the driver—Kakashi—to take off.

"Sake," Sasuke smoothly responded, placing his chin gently on the heel of his palm and turning his attention to something outside the window.

"You actually drink this shit?" Without bothering to attempt to re-cork the bottle, Naruto put it back in the fridge and plopped onto the seat.

"Yes, idiot. It's what I give my company when I'm escorting them."

Naruto wrinkled his nose. "They drink that shit?"

"Many do. You're one of the only people who don't appreciate it, I'm sure." Sasuke's gaze never returned to Naruto. Instead, he continued to be enthralled with the scenery outside, not looking away from the window.

The blond huffed. "Yeah, well, I have class. And those of us with class appreciate things like soda. And ramen. The gods sent us ramen to keep us believing in them—proof that they still exist, ya get what I mean?"

Sasuke decided that Naruto's idiotic rants didn't deserve a response—it only encouraged them. But that didn't stop Naruto from prattling on incessantly; oh, no, nothing could ever do that.

"Oi, bastard, you know what I just remembered?"

Better question: did he really care?

"You're supposed to have fun on the weekends. Ya know, that stuff that is illegal in bastardtopia?"

Damn. Maybe he really ought to start verbalizing his thoughts—that seemed to dissuade many people from persisting in striking up conversations with him.

Sasuke almost rolled his eyes. "So work stops completely just because it's the weekend and then promptly resumes at midnight on Monday morning?"

"Well, duuuh! Glad we're on the same page, finally."

Sasuke took this moment to wonder just how he was going to live through an entire afternoon of Naruto and come out with the semblance of his mind and sanity intact.

The Uchiha clan had very fine health. Not only had they never suffered heart attacks (please refer to the incident known to Sasuke as The Curious Incident of the Boy who Ran in Front of Car in the Middle of Rush Hour and Nearly Became a Speed-bump All for the Sake of Ramen for more information), but they also never worried about possible strokes. Just as with heart attacks, they were caused by things such as high blood pressure (caused by high stress levels), high cholesterol (from exceedingly fatty diets), age, and it was prevalent in smokers. However, the Uchiha was a master at controlling their emotions—stress being on that list. They also had professional chefs prepare exquisite meals that were comprised of many courses, all of them healthy; thus, the walls of the Uchiha manor had never seen a single grease-soaked French fry in the decades that it had existed and it was almost a theory that the paint on the walls would start to peel from disgust if anyone ever did decide to bring a grease ball inside (this is a theory that Sasuke decided not to test, however—he quite enjoyed his walls just as they were, thank you very much!). Not only that, but Uchihas aged with grace, and not a single Uchiha to date had kissed death full on the mouth through the abominations known to the common people as cigarettes. Thus, strokes were an ailment unseen within the family.

Indeed, the Uchiha clan had very fine health.

"So what are we doing exactly again? It slipped my mind."

Onyx eyes flicked over to him briefly. "Well, I suppose you can choose."

"… We have more than one thing to do?" Excitement bubbled within him.

And then simultaneously:

"We can continue the project or we can start the tutoring."

"Are the choices a mad rave party or a ramen party?"

Both boys paused to digest what the other said and then, once more simultaneously, responded:

"We are not having a party of any sort within the confines of my house. Remember what happened last time we involved ramen?"

"What the fuck? Since when did tutoring become a part of anything? Count me out then—I want no part of this."

Another moment for digestion. And then, before more chaotic simultaneous retorts could be born, Sasuke quickly intervened.

"Dobe, listen to me before you respond." When Naruto clamped his mouth shut obediently, Sasuke nearly gave a sigh of relief. "Do you not remember asking Raidou-sensei for a tutor."

"Yeah, but I didn't know that it was going to be you! I think you're lying!" Naruto crossed his arms defiantly.

Sasuke paused. "Funny, because I swear I got a call last night from Raidou-sensei himself and I swear that the person he told me to tutor was an Uzumaki Naruto." Another pause, this one dramatic, and then he continued, his tone resembling that of an annoyed mother trying to get a straight story out of her son: "Is there another Uzumaki Naruto I should know of?"

Naruto scuffed his shoe guiltily on the floor. "… No."

Sasuke rubbed one of his temples. "He also said that you specifically agreed to tutoring with me and that you were already aware of this."

Another guilty scoff. "… Sometimes I suffer short-term memory loss."

The Uchiha was starting to develop the first symptoms of a skull-shattering headache. "Apparently. So which is going to be first—math or English?"

A contemplative silence from Naruto and then: "… I choose door number three."

And Sasuke would have been stunned at the comment if it had been said by anyone else. "…"

Naruto was defensive. "What?"

"There is no door number three."

Automatically, his idiotic companion enthused, "Does that mean I get to make up what's behind it then?"

And he started to go through his medicine cabinet mentally, trying to remember if he had any aspirin. "It means that you choose English or math or I choose for you."

Naruto stared at him thoughtfully. "…"


"So about that door number three—"

More clenched teeth. "There is no door number three!"

"—it's a movie night."

Sasuke's tense silence, as expressed: "…"

And Naruto's hopeful and confused one: "…?"

"Get out of my house. Now."

Naruto gaped, crestfallen. "But movie night—"

Gods, his head was starting to pulse. "There is going to be no movie night."

And then Naruto blinked, tilted his head in bewilderment, and sealed his fate by saying, "Sasuke-teme, what are you going on about a movie night for? We have work to get done, dammit! We don't have time for such frivolities."



Well, on the plus side, at least Naruto knew the word 'frivolities.' On the down side, Sasuke swore he felt a vein pulsing on his forehead and—damn his familial health history to hell—he could already sense how hectic a day he was going to have. Uzumaki Naruto was the noun 'stress' personified.

Despite any control he may have tried to exert, the words slipped from his mouth before he could censor them. His Uchiha predecessors would have frowned at such a display of immaturity, but even Itachi wouldn't be able to maintain a mask of stoicism if he were to be put in a similar situation.

"… I'm going to kill you." And after saying as such, he rubbed more adamantly at his temples and walked away to find some aspirin that could knock out a herd of horses.

While his amazing lineage shielded him from strokes and heart attacks, no one ever promised immunity from tension headaches brought on by the likes of one Uzumaki Naruto.

After Sasuke temporarily disappeared only to return moments later, still rubbing at his temples, mumbling to himself about idiotic idiots with their idiotic ideas of idiocy (yes, his vocabulary was breath-taking when he was induced by a combination of pain the starts of the effects of powerful drugs), they finally decided on which of their two choices to get out of the way first. Of course, it was Sasuke who picked. Naruto was as reliable as a prepaid cell phone in the middle of a stranded island.

"We're going to do tutoring first," he announced, then tacked on, almost as an afterthought, "No one can possibly understand how badly you need it."

Ignoring Naruto's indignant squawks at the comment, Sasuke grabbed his math text that he had placed on a nearby table earlier and moved to sit a little closer to Naruto. He flipped open the book to the chapter they were currently going over in class and was just about to ask if Naruto understood anything on the page when—

"Ne, ne, Sasuke-teme? Remember when I tried to tutor you in history?"

—yet more nonsense blabbered out of his companion's mouth.

"No," he curtly answered and was once more just about to ask about the page when—

"What?" Naruto squawked, surprised. "You don't remember?"

—yet again he was interrupted.

"It's more of your brain malfunctions playing with your memories," Sasuke explained, dismissing him and once more opened his mouth to ask about—

"Remember, you came in and we never did get to the tutoring because my electricity went out? And then I got bit by an evil rodent and—" Naruto cut himself off, his neck darkening. "—we had to get flashlight?" he finished, trying not to think about what he was originally going to bring up.

you licked my finger.

And then Sasuke suddenly remembered.

Oh. Yeah. That. Well…

"Saaaay," Naruto wondered aloud, his brow crinkling in thought, "why did you ask for me to help you, anyway? You seemed just fine in school…"

Oh, yes, why did he say that, indeedy? That was a very good question. Sasuke would have to get back to you at a later date with the answer, though.

"Oh, don't tell me—"

Oh, may the gods have mercy up above in their heavenly domes of heavenly happiness (brace yourself Sasuke, this is going to be a doozy), it was that tone that the idiot was using—he was about to say something that was profoundly—

"—you wanted to get rid of Gaara and hang out with me all alone because you thought he was taking up too much of my attention!"

Well, to return to an earlier thought, scratch profoundly—"profoundly stupid" didn't cover it—and replace it with "an insult to the greater deities because they actually created the brain from which the statement came from" please. Or anything along those lines would do.

Naruto made a waving gesture, one which is very similar to the motion made when trying to shoo away an annoying bug. "Aww, no need to get jealous, ya know. I can be best friends with both of you."

… Pffffft. Okay, let's freeze it here for a second. Sasuke had a few thoughts to get off of his mind, and it is unwise to disobey the will of an Uchiha. Bad things happen.

First off, as well as having excellent bloodlines and health, Uchihas didn't openly express emotions. (In fact, emotions in general were discouraged, but that's another lesson for another situation.) As such, the idea of something as childish as "jealousy" was taboo. Expressing "displeasure" in a very appropriate manner was occasionally accepted. The Uchihas also expressed "disappointment" (usually in the Uchiha children) in healthy doses. However, besides that, showing strong emotions was frowned on. As such, Sasuke would never show something as crude as jealousy. In fact, his family was immune to over ninety percent of all emotions, and jealousy was definitely one on that list. Sasuke was quite sure that he had never experienced this "jealousy."

"Hn," he answered Naruto. "Please don't allow such fantasies to fill your imagination."

However, he couldn't help but wonder what he did feel when he was around the boy with mysterious cerulean eyes and sun-golden hair.

"Oh, whatever, bastard. Stay in your own world of denial, then."


Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't jealousy, right?

So that particular day seemed to be a day of epiphanies, realizations, and explanations, for Sasuke realized two more things about his crazy companion as he struggled to get Naruto to focus.

The first thing was that Naruto had the attention span of a dead turtle. No, seriously. A dead turtle. Either that, or he suffered from IDHADHOLR (I Don't Have ADH—Oh Look Ramen). As such, Sasuke knew then that Naruto was probably a test sent to him by the sadistic gods to see just how great the Uchiha Sasuke was at controlling the emotions he claimed to be nonexistent. And what a test it was.

Several times Sasuke had to pause and concentrate on finding his happy place (complete with a stick figure-Sasuke standing over a dead stick figure-Itachi triumphantly) just so he wouldn't snap at his guest.

The second realization was that knowing random facts, apparently, merely had a tendency to piss people off. This was especially so when said random facts were shared at awkward or inappropriate times, or if they were shared with someone who already knew all there was to know (such as himself).

Both of these realizations came within seconds of each other, oddly enough—

"So when can we make some ramen to eat? Teme, I'm hunnnngry." Naruto wrinkled his nose to show his lack of appreciation of his empty tummy.

A discreet deep breath as a happy place is found once more. "That's great, but that's a question you just asked. Not the answer to my sentence."

Naruto blew a tuft of hair out of his face. "What was your question?"

More discreet death breaths. More happy places. A barely restrained snarl: I swear, if you were a character in a book, I'd kill the author for making you so goddamn ADHD. And then, finally, the question that was still awaiting an answer: "What's tangent?"

"Oh, that's easy. A noun which refers to the change of a topic that is not relevant to the subject which is currently involved in the conversation."

Sasuke's expression didn't flicker. "…"

Naruto quickly grew nervous at the unmoving Uchiha. "… What?"

"You know what a tangent is when used in that context, yet you can't remember how it's used mathematically?"

Naruto shrank a little, not sure what to make of Sasuke's unmoving expression. "Um… well, yes?"

A short, disgusted sigh was the reply that the blond idiot received from him.

And despite that small spout of genius, Sasuke then found that not only did Naruto have the attention span of a dead turtle, but also brain and common sense of one, as well.

And it was only seven hours later that Naruto finally understood the first half of the chapter. Mostly, things were accomplished through threats and menacing glares. That, and at some point Sasuke may have gotten fed up at some point and promised ramen to Naruto after they were done studying, simply to act as a sort of incentive.

Not only that, but in order for Naruto to understand any mathematical concepts, Sasuke had to break it down into terms that a preschool-er or a dead turtle could understand. And no, no exaggeration—Sasuke clearly recalled several points in which he had to bounce back to basic principles of addition and multiplication. How the hell the idiot managed to get into Trig 2 was a miracle. Hell, how he managed to get through any math class was mind-boggling after their tutor session.

However, once Naruto finally wrapped his simple mind around the concepts, they stuck with him and he quickly started to piece things together on his own. It took many different types of explanations, but Sasuke felt like Naruto finally had an idea of what he was doing.

Though now what Sasuke would have really liked to know was how they had gravitated towards each other without his notice… They were sitting with only an inch or so separating their bodies and their knees were brushing. Every now and then, when one of them shifted position, their thighs would brush. And, even more baffling, as the hours stretched on, he found that these touches seemed to last longer and longer and that their bodies seemed to want to linger on these small brushes.

Not only that, but Sasuke had brushed hands with Naruto a few times when he stopped Naruto from proceeding with a problem that he was massacring. He would simply pluck the pencil from the blond's hand and correct any mistakes. However, each time he did so, his hand would linger for longer periods of time over Naruto's, their skin gently brushing, until it got to the point where Naruto had to pointedly clear his throat and jerk his hand in order for Sasuke to move.

Odd, indeed.

Even more odd, he kept having lightening-quick hot flashes, gone in a blink. He ignored and dismissed them, however, and made a mental note to adjust the thermostat (or have Kakashi adjust it).

"Alright," he told Naruto, "now we can—"

He didn't know why he did it. Maybe it was because Naruto was drumming the pencil against the textbook, maybe it was simply a reflexive movement, maybe he just wanted to brush his fingers against Naruto's again. Whatever the reason, the result was the same.

Sasuke reached to grab the pencil and he grabbed Naruto's fingers instead. Naruto's incessantly drumming hand stopped immediately and Sasuke grew immobile. Several frozen moments passed and then it was Naruto who made the next move. The pencil fell to the table, forgotten. Naruto turned his hand so that their palms were flush against each other. Between their skin sparks of heat ignited, heating their skin.

And then, quite randomly, Sasuke found himself flashing back to their kiss, and he found that it was a memory which he couldn't easily ignore and dismiss, despite the fact that he had convinced himself before that it had been nothing (simply a weak moment which would never transpire again, all caused by a trick of the light). The memory caused his palm to heat even more and he thought for sure that his skin would scorch at the rate that it was heating.

And then Naruto cleared his throat again and Sasuke took his hand back, although none-too-quickly. Instead, he drew it back slowly—almost achingly so—and the skin of their palms brushed, tension and friction causing more pleasantly-warm sparks to ignite. Then their fingertip were running down each other's fingers and one of them (Sasuke really couldn't tell which of them it was at that point), curled his fingers and their fingers curled around each other, locked together, almost like they were trying to stay bonded together for as long as possible. And then, even more achingly slow now because they were interlocked, their fingers kept gliding over each other.

Such a stupid gesture and yet—why was Sasuke's heart rate increasing?

And then, finally, the pads of their fingertips caught and the heat had moved down and concentrated in those fingertips and they both seemed to freeze for a moment with time suspended—

And then their hands separated and the feeling was gone. The heat in Sasuke's hands faded, leaving his palms sweaty and clammy. He took a silent, steadying breath. And then, to his utmost shock, he felt a warm wave travel up the back of his neck, liquid fire rushing through his veins and causing his creamy, pale skin to darken to a hot red.

Mortified that the blush may spread to his face, where it would be more noticeable, he casually snuck a peak to Naruto. However, relief filled him when he saw that a pretty pink flush colored the skin above the cheekbones of the blond. Not only that, but he looked as confused and dazed as Sasuke felt. Well, that was a good sign, right?

Right, Sasuke assured himself, and then softly cleared his throat. "I'll see about convincing someone to deliver ramen. I'm not in the mood for a repeat of the last time you tried to make it yourself in my kitchen."

Naruto gave a small nod, still flushed, and Sasuke couldn't help but once more feel relieved because at least… well—

Whatever the hell is happening to me, at least it's happening to him, too.

While he wasn't exactly sure of the man's hidden motives, he was never one to question good fortune—at least, he didn't question real good fortune. He could always tell when someone was playing him the fool, and the idiots who tried to trick the master of trickery quickly discovered why he was such a feared being.

"You're sure about this?" he droned, his voice oozing out like cold, thick poison. "You will make it happen definitely?"

The man gave a jerky nod, a muscle in his jaw ticking nervously. "Of course."

Such a foolish man. Don't let your fear be so obvious, he wanted to advise the other man, yet he held his tongue. There was something about a jumpy rat in a serpent's den that had always seemed appealing to him; the way they always moved subconsciously, nervously, refusing to stand still lest their nerves get the best of them and they turn and bolt.

A slow, serpentine grin twisted his thin lips. Many had told him that this smile much resembled the confidant snarl of a predator before it pounces on its prey. "Then I will talk to you soon," he assured the man, dismissing him.

The man, however, shuffled his feet anxiously, unsure as to what to do next. There was a pause as he regarded the man with amusement. The man, however, refused to meet his gaze at that point.

His grin shifted into a smirk. The man was assuredly exceedingly stupid, but no matter. The stupid ones were easier to manipulate.

"You are dismissed," he said to the man.

Mizuki didn't need any further encouragement. He bowed his head a fraction of an inch, turned on his heel, and fled without glancing back. It wasn't until he was sure that he was out of the other man's sight that he shook his head to himself.

That man… something wasn't right with that man. Mizuki could sense it. The man had a creepy feel about him, the same creepy that was associated with pedophiles and rapists and Hitler and criminals of the worst degree.

And—yes, it may have been his imagination or his ears playing tricks on an aging man, but—he swore far behind him he could hear the rise and fall of loud, raucous, twisted laughter behind him. Or maybe 'laughter' wasn't the right word to describe it. Cackling. Yes, cackling. Did he hear the remnants of a hollow, jovial cackling which seeped from the thick air behind him?

Mizuki shuddered at the thought. It was more than likely. That man seemed like he was missing a few screws in his head and possibly had lost pieces of his mind in his sock drawer. Well, that and a lot more, more than likely.

Another shudder racked him and he almost—almost, make note of that key word, please—felt bad for what he was doing. But the feeling soon passed and he resumed his trek, feeling just as void of emotions as he did when he had arrived.

Yet another shudder racked Mizuki's body, causing the fine hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end and goose bumps erected themselves all over his body. He rubbed his forearms with his hands in an attempt warm his suddenly-freezing. Behind him, he swore another cackle echoed through the air, following him and escorting him to the door.

Yes, that man definitely wasn't right in the head.

Notes for the Deprived

(1) For those of you who are deprived of American games, Spill the Beans is a game which I, ironically, have never actually had to play in which the goal is to slowly and methodically add plastic beans to the pot without it spilling all over your side of the board.

(2) Just in case I have anyone out there who lived a sheltered life like me and doesn't know, dingle bat is not a compliment. 'Tis a name which insinuates stupidity... and other stuff.

We're getting somewhere with this story, I swear.

Eh… The Gaara/Naruto interaction went on forevvvvvver. Seriously. I'm sorry. I guess I tried to make it interesting to read, though. Does that make up for it? :/ And, uhhh, I don't really know where the hand thing came from. XD? Really, I don't. I had no idea what I was writing until it came out. But then again, that's how all of my writing is these days. :( I can remember back in the day when I, the author, had control over my stories. What the hell happened?


And well, fuck, this isn't extremely edited. Why? Because I have viruses attacking my poor computer and alas, I can't even open Microsoft word. In fact, I had to add the notes through the "edit" option. :( So please mail my comp some get well cards.

And, well, fuck again. I had planned on finishing a SasNar Christmas oneshot. Now it may turn into a belated Christmas oneshot if i buy my computer the correct Nyquil and-or Dayquil, depending on how bad this virus is. (And I so detest writing entire stories through the FF-dot-net edit option...) ARRRRGH, THIS IS MY LUCK: I GET TIME TO WRITE AND WASTE IT TRYING TO FIX MY WRITING PROGRAM SDFLKFJDSLKFJ.

Alright. Rant over.

Anyhoo. Drop me a line, yeah? It seems that I'm writing this more for myself than anyone else these days, but eh, oh, well. X3

PS: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc etc etc.