DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters. I also do not own the plot/setting to Spirited Away on which this fic was heavily influenced by.
PAIRINGS: SasuNaruSasu, KakaIru, mentions of various others.
AUTHOR NOTES: Sorry for the massive delay on this. I meant to have it out ages ago but my brand new computer turned out to have a faulty memory and hard drive. So I had to send it in and was without it for over a month. I seriously just got it back two weeks ago and have been getting all my links and stuff in order since (I'm STILL not done…;cries;). So once again, I apologize. Thank you to all who have reviewed and shown patience and thank you for not sending the tar and featherers out after me. That said, I will honestly TRY to be quicker with the next one.
CHAPTER 5: FEBRUARY
February brought a bitter sort of cold to the village of Konoha that year. Skies were either gray and foggy or clear blue, not that the spirits knew that as they slept during this time. When they were up and about, the ground was frosty like and crunched beneath their feet. The cold however, did not deter them from their celebrations. Which was why, a few days before Valentines Day, the villagers were found decorating for a festival.
Sasuke jumped over the rooftops of the village that night and finally found Kakashi sitting on a tall blue building in the town square. He was seemingly reading his usual orange porn book, however, Sasuke noticed that every few minutes his eye would glance down at the crowd in the town square. He glanced down in the same direction and sure enough, there was Iruka helping with decorations. Sasuke shook his head after awhile of watching this.
"You know, one of these days, you really should let him know you feel the same as he does."
Kakashi's face became blank. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Sasuke."
Sasuke sighed. "Sure, you don't."
If Kakashi wanted to make himself misarable by keeping quiet, that was his business. Personally, Sasuke thought he was being quite ridiculous. Anyone with eyes and a brain could tell Iruka adored him, even though Kakashi drove him crazy like he did everyone else. Sometimes Sasuke wondered about Iruka's taste but really, the situation wasn't his business, so he kept quiet.
"So, anything to report?" Kakashi said, eyes looking once again down below.
Sasuke looked down as well and saw that Naruto was also down there helping. He couldn't help but smirk at the sight of the small blond stuggling with all the streamers and paper hearts in his arms. It was an amusing sight. "No, nothing to report. There haven't been any changes."
"Hmmm…" Kakashi said and then the two fell into silence, just observing.
Even after a few weeks of observation, Sasuke still didn't have a clue how Naruto and the Nine Tailed Spirit were connected. It was growing frusterating, because he was sure that this somehow had to do with why Orochimaru wanted Naruto. But observing was not helping. Naruto was the same he'd always been since he'd gotten to Konoha: loud, annoying in a charming way, and just…well him. Sasuke had even gotten desperate enough to ask the blond once if he'd heard of the spirit of the Nine Tailed Fox. Naruto had given him a weird look and said slowly, "Yeah. Doesn't everyone in Japan know about the Nine Tail Fox spirits? I mean, they pop up in animes for crying out loud."
Sasuke couldn't really answer that because it was true. Nine Tail Foxes were a part of Japanese legends so he quickly changed the subject. It was obvious Naruto knew nothing about Kyuubi. But his frustration grew after that. He hated mysteries. Especially ones that he couldn't solve. Naruto was turning out to be a big mystery and he didn't like it.
Naruto held up the paper hearts for Iruka to put up and glanced around.
"Man, people around here sure are crazy about Valentine's Day."
Iruka snorted. "Naruto, haven't you realized by now? It doesn't matter what holiday it is, all spirits like is an excuse to party. Valentine's Day just gives them an excuse to throw an even bigger party."
"With booze?" Naruto asked eagerly.
Iruka rolled his eyes. "You have MET our Hokage, right Naruto?"
Naruto smirked. It took him all of a month to realize that booze was Tsunade's biggest addiction. The only other thing she craved more was gambling which, unfortunately, she was horrible at. He was pretty sure that Tsunade made up these celebrations herself just so she would have an excuse to drink. Not that she needed one to begin with.
He blinked suddenly when he felt a familiary prickling sensation at the back of his neck. He glanced up and around and sure enough, there was Sasuke and Kakashi on the roof of one of the buildings. Naruto frowned and looked back to the streamers in his hands. He honestly didn't know what was going on with Sasuke these days. More then once he had caught the spirit eyeing him in a way that made Naruto feel slightly uncomfortable. It also, unfortunately, caused butterflies in his stomach as well. This stupid attraction was not going away. In fact, he was pretty sure it was getting worse. Sasuke staring at him in ways that made Naruto feel weak in the knees was so not helping.
He turned to glare at the spirit and then huffed when he saw both of them had disappeared.
"Jerk," he muttered.
The rest of the week was filled with preperations for the celebration. Naruto even found himself helping Iruka make chocolates. He found it odd that Iruka made chocolates, Valentines Day in Japan was, after all, for girls. He himself had always received chocolate from Sakura in the past and lately a few of his friends who happened to be girls. Some of them once in while jested that he should make chocolate to catch the attention of whatever guy he was crushing on then. He usually told them to go jump in the Pacific Ocean; he may be gay, but he wasn't THAT gay. He had his pride.
With his usual tact, he had asked Iruka why the man made chocolate, he wasn't a girl after all. Iruka blushed and then shrugged. "I make it for my students," he explained quickly. "They almost always give me something after all."
Naruto frowned, "Well then why don't you give them the chocolate on White Day like everyone else?"
"I give them chocolate then, too. I just like too."
Naruto still thought it was weird. That didn't stop him from helping and snitching a few extra chocolates though. Iruka was a really good cook. It also didn't stop him from teasing the man about the fancier bag of chocolates that was obviously for Kakashi. Iruka hmphed at him, "Well, you're taking a bag for Sasuke."
The blond shook his head. "This isn't for Sasuke, it's for me. I wouldn't get him stuff like this, he hates sweets."
Iruka blinked. "He does? He's never mentioned it."
"Wasn't hard to figure out; he turns his nose up at the sweet shop whenever we pass it and scowls whenever I have some and offer him a bite."
Iruka raised an eyebrow at the keen observartion but didn't say anything.
When Valentines Day did arrive, Sasuke spent the beginning of it as he did most of his nights these days: in his study, researching. He was currently going over a book on spirit myths and legends when the door to his study banged opened. He looked up and raised an eyebrow at Naruto who stood there with his hands on hips scowling at him.
"Yes, Naruto?" He asked blandly. Glancing at the blond up and down. He couldn't help but admire Ino's handiwork again. Naruto had gotten a new outfit for the festival. This one was a blue yukata that matched his eyes perfectly that came with a dark red obi belt and overcoat to keep him warm. On the red over coat were black embroidered swirls that were the symbol of the Konoha village. The coloring went well perfectly with Naruto's complexion. Sasuke realized he was staring as Naruto talked at him and realized he hadn't heard a word the blond said.
Naruto's frown deepened. "I asked, are you going to be in here all night again?"
Sasuke sighed. "Yes. I have a job to do."
"Yeah, protecting villagers. All of whom are going to be at the festival, so you can do your job there."
"No. You've been staying cooped up in this study for over a week now. That cannot be healthy. You're coming with me, and you're going to have some fun, damn it."
Sasuke raised his eyebrow at the sheer thought of him having "fun" at a festival full of lovesick fools.
The blond obviously realized what he was thinking. "Okay, maybe not have fun. But you are coming with me."
"Or you'll what?" Sasuke asked coolly.
Naruto blinked. "Or…I'll…sit here in the study and talk constantly in your ear until you do."
Sasuke weighed his options. "Fine."
A couple of hours later the two men walked back into the apartment. Naruto carried an armful of goodies from Ino, Hinata, and a few other females he had met here. He even had gotten one from Moegi, Konohamaru's pig-tailed friend. That was nothing though, compared to Sasuke's stash. He had gotten so much from random girls who kept popping up out of no where that he had to get two bags to carry all of it. Sasuke hated the attention he kept getting from girls. Naruto seemed to find it hysterical.
"Shut up," Sasuke muttered as Naruto giggled again.
"Oh come on, that was hysterical! Do they always follow you around like that?"
Sasuke glared and Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Really? No wonder you're so damn anti-social."
"You could've helped," Sasuke muttered.
"Yeah, but then we wouldn't have all this yummy chocolate to eat. Or I wouldn't have it to eat anyway."
Sasuke handed him the bags. "All that sugar is going to make you fat."
Naruto snorted, "Not likely. Like I care, anyway."
The spirit shook his head and the two fell into a comfortable silence. Then Naruto spoke up again, "So have you ever thought about it?"
Sasuke looked up at him from his place on the couch. "Thought about what?"
"Taking one of those girls up on their offers."
Naruto looked at him doubtfully. "Really? Not once?"
"I have more important things on my mind then sex. Besides, they weren't serious. They know as well as I, that if I did decide I want to sleep with one of them, they'd be tied to me for the rest of our afterlife. Most spirits do not want that."
The blond blinked in confusion. "Tied to you for life? What are you talking about?"
Sasuke sighed. "Dragons mate for life."
Naruto stared at him in surprise. "Wow…really? You seriously only have sex with one person your whole afterlife, or whatever this is considered?"
"Basically, yes." It was actually a lot more then just sex, but that was none of Naruto's business so Sasuke didn't elaborate.
"Huh…never would have pegged you for the whole soul mate type of person."
Sasuke scowled. "I'm not. It's just how Dragons are wired for some strange reason. I myself find it silly but it's a part of my species so I have no say in the matter."
Naruto tilted. "Oh. So I guess you haven't found…your mate yet, huh?"
"No." Something in him whispered that this was a lie. Sasuke ignored it.
The blond suddenly grinned as he flopped down on his futon. "Wow, so you're actually a virgin then? Who'd have thunk."
Sasuke scowled at him. "Shut up. Like you've had sex."
Naruto leered at him. "Actually, I lost my virginity a few years ago, I'll have you know. I could probably teach you a few things."
Something in Sasuke snapped at that. He wasn't sure why he was suddenly feeling this rage of jealousy but it made him suddenly stand up and walk over to Naruto who stilled at the anger in his eyes. Sasuke slowly leaned over the sitting blond till their faces were inches apart and then quietly said, "I doubt it. I've lived a very long time and some spirits can be quite the exhibitionists."
Feeling satisified at Naruto's shocked look, he calmly walked out.
A few days later, Sasuke sat on the couch reading another book, this one on seals. He was half way through it when the front door opened and Sasuke looked up to see Naruto finally come home. He frowned. "You're out late."
The blond jumped at his voice. "What are you, my keeper? I was with Kiba."
Sasuke frowned at the slightly slurred speech and noted the sluggish movements of the blond. "You're drunk."
Naruto shrugged. "A little."
Sasuke put the book down and scowled. "That dog is a bad influence."
"Drinking game was my idea."
"Yup. Beer pong. I totally won. Kiba's much worse off then I am right now."
"Congratulations," Sasuke said dryly, rolling his eyes.
"Thank you." Naruto went to go pull down his futon and struggled with it for several minutes. Normally, he would have no problem with it but he was a bit drunk. Sasuke watched him struggle with trying to find the switch in amusement for a few minutes and then finally sighed.
"Here." He reached up from behind the blond and pulled the mattress down.
"Thanks." Naruto said. He looked up at Sasuke and started to say something and then suddenly put his hand over his hand. "Excuse me." He ran towards the bathroom and a few seconds later, Sasuke heard the sounds of him throwing up.
He waited awhile and then went to lean against the bathroom door as Naruto finished throwing up. "Better?"
"Kind of," Naruto said weaking leaning back. "Man, I usually hold my alchohol better then this. I was a legend in art school, you know."
"Our alchohol tends to be stronger then human alchohol. You were probably drinking straight sake."
Naruto stared at him in horror. "No wonder I was drunk…Good thing I only had a few glasses."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "Define a few."
The blond's forhead crinkled as he thought hard. "Um….more then five, less then ten? I think…"
Sasuke muttered under his breath about idiots who shouldn't drink. Naruto glared at him. "Hey, I'm over twenty-one, I'm perfectly legal. Ow…headache." He leaned said head against the rim of the toilet.
Sasuke shook his head. "Best sleep it off."
The blond glared at him half heartly. "Duh." Sasuke raised an eyebrow and decided to leave the blond to tend to himself, he was obviously not going to appreciate any help from Sasuke tonight. So he went to put his book away and after a few minutes went to check on the blond and found him sprawled out on the mattress. He hadn't even taken the time to pull the covers over himself. Sasuke shook his head and went over to pull the comforter but then stopped. In his sleep, Naruto's night shirt had ridden up, revealing part of his stomach which had black markings on it.
"A seal?" He murmured in confusion. To be sure, he slow pushed the shirt up and sure enough, there was a seal in black ink. It was spirit ink too, he was sure of it, which meant Naruto probably wasn't even aware it existed as humans couldn't see anything made by spirits. Sasuke quickly went to get a piece of paper and drew the seal on it. Something told him that this had to do with Kyuubi. At least he hoped it did.
A few days later Naruto walked warily up to Lady Tsunade's office. After he had gotten home drunk the other night Sasuke had spent all his time in the study. He and Naruto had barely spoken for days and which made Naruto feel slightly hurt. Sure, Sasuke wasn't the most talkative guy in the world but he never out right ignored Naruto before. He had actually rather gotten attached to the silent presence that was the Uchiha. Okay, more then a little attached. He had a giant crush on the spirit. But he wasn't dumb enough to say anything about it.
Now all of a sudden, he was told by a messenger to go see Lady Tsunade. Some small irrational part of him wondered if maybe Sasuke had finally gotten tired of him and was pushing him on somebody else now. But he pushed that thought aside. Besides, it wasn't like he couldn't handle it if that was the case; he wasn't some wimp who cried if his crush didn't like him.
So he walked into Tsunade's office and then frowned in confusion when he saw not only Lady Tsunade and Shizune, but also Sasuke, Kakashi, and Jiraiya. Naruto slowly walked forward and sat in front of the desk. "Um…what's going on?"
Tsunade smiled reassuredly. "Don't worry, you're not in trouble. I just need to you show us your stomach please."
Naruto stared at her like she was crazy. "Um…excuse me?"
"It's very important, Naruto," Kakashi said quietly. Naruto looked at him in surprise because he had never seen Kakashi look so serious. Actually, they were all looking serious, and it was making him feel more nervous. He glanced at Sasuke, who was leaning against the wall behind Tsunade with his arms crossed, and he nodded at the blond.
Muttering under his breath about crazy spirits, Naruto undid his obi belt, and orange tunic to reveal his chest and torso and the minute his flesh was shown they all sucked in a breath and he looked at them with a frown. "What?"
"Naruto, are you aware that there is a seal mark on your stomach?" Tsunade asked. The blonde frowned and glanced down. He didn't see anything. "No there isn't."
"Actually Dobe, there is. It's done in spirit ink so you can't see it," Sasuke said bluntly.
Naruto glared. "Don't call me that! Why would I have a seal on my stomach? What's it do?"
"That depends, there are many seals for different purposes. This one is designed to contain spirits," Jiraiya said.
Naruto stared at him. "SPIRITS? Why would I have a seal on me that's designed to contain spirits?!"
Tsunade sighed, "That's what you're here for. Sasuke." She nodded to him and he walked forward and stopped in front of Naruto who looked at him warily.
"What are you doing?"
Sasuke looked at him gravely. "I'm going to see what's inside of you."
Naruto blinked. "Inside of me? There's nothing inside of me."
"That seal says otherwise, now keep your eyes open and don't blink."
The blond shook his head and Sasuke scowled. He reached down and grabbed Naruto's chin with his fingers and said, "Look at me, Naruto."
On instinct, Naruto looked at him and started when he saw that Sasuke's eyes were no longer black but a bright red that looked like there were black spirals swirling in them. "Wha-," he started to ask but then he fell into darkness.
Sasuke looked warily around at the place he was now. Naruto's concious was surprisingly organized considering the blond's spazzy tendencies. He was currently in a long hallway lined with many doors labeled with things such as 'art projects', 'ideas', 'high school memories', 'spirit world', and even doors for specific people such as Iruka and that Sakura girl that Naruto kept mentioning. He was slightly tempted to access the door with his name on it but decided against it. The blond would probably kill him if he found out. Besides, he wasn't here to dig into Naruto's memories, as tempting as it was.
He walked further and further until he finally came to the end of the hallway which opened up into a large chamber. There was Naruto, laying on the ground floor as he should have been, but what Sasuke was looking for was behind the shield in front of Naruto. It looked to be like what humans called a force field that covered the whole room from floor to cieling. All along the edges were sealing cards that were obviously keeping the wall intact and there behind the wall was a spirit.
He was a tall humanoid spirit with fox ears and long waist length red hair. He was slim and sat gracefully on the floor and studied him right back with amber eyes. He was dressed in a white tunic and pants with a gold obi belt that matched the gold embroidery on the tunic's edges and behind him were nine fluffy fox tails.
Sasuke breathed heavily. "Kyuubi, I presume."
The man raised a delicate eyebrow. "Well, well, an Uchiha. It's been quite awhile since I've met your kind. I had a feeling you'd find your way in here sometime."
Sasuke walked up to Naruto and checked on him. Kyuubi smiled a little. "Don't worry, he's quite all right. Not used to having someone delve into his mind like this. He'll be up and about and loud as ever in a minute or two."
"What are you doing here?"
"It's a rather long and boring tale. But suffice to say, I got banished to the human world."
"I'm still not sure. But I've been wandering the human world, invisible to all of the pitiful creatures for the last century or so. It's been quite annoying, let me assure you."
Sasuke frowned. "That still doesn't explain how you're inside Naruto."
"Well, that was just luck on my part. I happened to be wandering about Japan when I happened upon a couple who were with child. I sensed that the baby boy within them had great spiritual power, quite rare in humans nowadays. So I managed to sneak myself inside him before he was born. I had hoped that if he grew up, grew old, and then died I would be released back into the spirit world when he did."
"What if that didn't work?"
Kyuubi shrugged. "Well I figured I had nothing to lose, it was just a few more decades, and at least I had his life to keep me entertained. I never imagined he'd wind up getting stuck here though. I've been trying to find a way to unseal myself so I could stay but, unfortunately, I was dumb and made these seals permanent until his death."
"So you've been in him all these years, and he's had no idea?" Sasuke asked in disbelief.
Kyuubi preened. "My seals are excellent. I didn't want to burden him further with my presence so I've kept quiet."
"How considerate of you," Sasuke said dryly.
"I thought so." Kyuubi suddenly smirked at him. "You know he's already half in love with you."
Sasuke stared at him and then back down at Naruto. "Don't be ridiculous."
Before Kyuubi could reply Naruto's eyes fluttered open. "Ow….where am I?" Then he slowly sat up and looked around. He glanced at Sasuke in confusion.
"What did you do earlier?" Then he noticed Kyuubi and gaped. "Who's that?"
Kyuubi smiled and Sasuke was surprised to see a look of fondness on the fox spirit's face as he looked at the blond. "We're in your head brat. I'm Kyuubi, it's nice to finally meet you face to face, though I've known you since you were born."
Naruto stared. "My….head? What the hell?! Who gave you two permission to be in my head?!"
Kyuubi shrugged, "It was rather unavoidable on my part."
Naruto glared at Sasuke who glared back. "It was necessary."
"Necessary?! Necessary my ass! Get out! How are you even in here?"
"It's a Dragon spirit ability, Naruto," Kyuubi explained.
The blond stared at him. "How the hell do you know my name?"
"I've been inside of you since you were born, I would hope I know your name by now."
"WHAT?!"Naruto sputtered, looking from Kyuubi to Sasuke in frustration and confusion.
Kyuubi sighed. "This is not going well…Uchiha, get out. I'll explain things to the brat."
Sasuke started to argue but seeing Naruto fuming and noticing Kyuubi's glare he decided against it and activated his Sharingun again. A few minutes later he was back in Tsunade's office, still holding Naruto's chin. Naruto's eyes blinked and Sasuke backed away as he woke up. For a minute they stared at each other, until Naruto then glared fiercely at him. Then the blond suddenly punched him hard enough to send him reeling back into Tsunade's desk.
"That's for entering my head without permission, asshole," Naruto snarled and then stomped out of the office. The others watched him leave and glanced at Sasuke who stared after him in slight surprise, holding up a hand to his bloody nose.
"Well," Kakashi said blandly. "That went well."
TO BE CONTINUED…
AUTHOR NOTES: Please review and once again, sorry for the massive delay.