A/n: Finally!!! This has been done for over a week but was down. Now, sigh. To my beautiful, wonderful, amazing readers! So…what have I been doing these past four months? Read my profile. It's all there. I forgot to add, "read a lot of SasuNaruSasu smut for research purposes" but that's besides the point. I will say this, though. If I read the words "neglected member" in a yaoi lemon fic one more time, I'm gonna go crazy! I never realized before how many people actually use it but it was in almost every SasuNaruSasu I read throughout the time I went missing! C'mon people, creativity!

Anyway, sorry this took so long to get out. Good news at the end and thank you in advance for standing by me. Love u guys!

A/n2: Yes, this author's note belongs to my people at y-gallery. I have to say it because so many people commented on it. Compliments on Mikoto's characters were very well appreciated. I can't explain how great they made me feel, considering her character was inspired by a real life, amazingly strong woman: my mother. I thank every one of you that loved her character enough to specifically comment on it.

Disclaimer: Idon't claim ownership over ANYTHING in this story but the plot!

Warning(s): AC, AL, SC, F, no, no lemon…yet!

Beta: This chapter was edited by my wonderful beta, Yaaaaaaame. A special thanks to her. She got back to me in such a short period of time despite the fact that I took so long to get this out to you. I appreciate all of your help enormously! Thank you!

Underneath It All

Poster child. That's what Itachi had always been in his eyes. The firstborn Uchiha possessed all the attributes that fit the typical stereotype of a wealthy boy expected to grow up and become the president of the successful company his father owned, through which he would inherit a fortune substantial enough to have the rest of his life and that the lives of his children's grandchildren lives paid for. He spoke with chivalrous mannerisms, in a steady tone of voice that only served to accentuate his intelligence and his conversations were always concise and precise; he never spoke any more or less than he needed to.

Sasuke, younger than him by 5 years, guessed it was a result of spending most of his childhood surrounded by adults who expected him to listen and share his insight on issues no boy should know about nor be interested in. When one's free time was solely dedicated to studies, whether it be finishing homework or learning about a company you were to own at the young age of 18, such orderly fashion was only to be expected.

Sasuke had no complaints, as no matter how busy Itachi was, he was never busy enough to pay attention to him.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

He paid perhaps too much attention to him.

When still a child, Sasuke had idolized his brother the way kids his age idolized action heroes of their times. His father's obsession with his work, to the point he treated their family like a burden, along with the spiteful verbal fights he started with his mother that had grown more violent over the years had broken the innocent child within and it was his older brother's consistent presence that had helped heal the wounds.

Itachi never failed him and consequently he trusted him wholeheartedly to never become the coward their father had turned out to be. When he up and left, the pain from the disappointment Sasuke had suffered was such that he shut himself from the world. Out of anger, he taught himself to be self-dependent. Putting hopes in people, having faith in them, letting them get close to him, were things he forced himself not to allow. They would only bring more pain and disappointment and if he could avoid them, he would at all costs.

Itachi had done more than his fair share to make it up to him, not liking the man Sasuke was growing up to become, a heartless and miserable asshole that reminded him of someone they both knew all too well. He loved his brother enough to not let him turn into the man they both loathed. Though Sasuke's bitterness had consumed him, keeping him from appreciating every effort on Itachi's part, to make things right between them once again, Itachi had forced him to accept his terms--that is, he paid his younger brother random visits, sneaked inside his room and wouldn't leave no matter how many trademark family-glares he received asking him to.

Sasuke would never openly admit that he liked the attention, angry that even after his brother's betrayal; he still cared about receiving it.

Sasuke sat at the top of his desk, averting his brother's eyes, his currently miserable mood intensifying with the placid demeanor of the man seated across from him. Of course during one of his stupid, self-invited visits, the man had to see him and Naruto in the state he'd found them in.

His body still felt warm with arousal and it prickled at random places with the ghosts of Naruto's affection, like his neck― where Naruto had bit and sweetly kissed him― and his hipbones― where Naruto's fingers had curled on to him― and his now flaccid length― where Naruto had massaged with his thigh. The last one stung uncomfortably, to add to his misery, an after-effect of being so perfectly turned on by his rather appealing boyfriend. The skin of his face was flushed brightly― in arousal or embarrassment he didn't want to know. The fact made him tighten his jaw.

Curse Itachi.

Curse Itachi to the seventh hell.

"Little brother." Itachi regarded him with irritating sarcasm. Sasuke internally bristled. "I've a proposition for you," the first-born Uchiha finally answered the almost forgotten question, rising to his feet. He fixed the light-grey suit and satin white button-down he'd chosen to wear for the occasion then looked up at Sasuke. "You've grown taller," he commented in a casual tone that made Sasuke's blood boil. So many irritating people he'd crossed in his life yet nobody could get him as worked up as his older brother could.

Itachi stared at the man Sasuke had grown up to be. He had been shorter than him the last time the former had seen him, his body awkwardly disproportioned having just hit puberty, the stage of physical maturity in which a boy's body underwent those embarrassing and graceless changes. His wasn't bad; thankfully, he was Itachi Uchiha after all. Even puberty paid reverence to him.

But alas, it seemed to have done a good thing to Sasuke. Now he stood a good 2 or 3 inches above him looking every bit like the top athlete he'd been hearing about so much. For one who handled a sports bar, Itachi rarely got to see his younger brother in action, due to his work duties. Hopefully, this was about to change.

"What do you want?" Sasuke interrogated undeterred.

"Always eager to see me," Itachi deadpanned with fake nostalgia. "Who's your… friend?" he asked leisurely.

"It's not your business," Sasuke snapped quickly and Itachi suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, as it would be unlike the caliber of a man he was. As he grew older, his little brother had grown more privy of his personal life, to the point no one was allowed to know things about him.

"Does father know?" At Sasuke's unresponsiveness, he smirked. If that didn't scream blackmail, he didn't know what could. "I'm taking the business global."

Itachi went into full detail, explaining how the move would increase revenues, the restaurant's mainly, and explaining why it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shisui's at the moment found itself in a good place financially speaking; they could back down from the deal should the deal tank and be fine. In reality, they had nothing to lose and if everything turned out well, they'd be winning a lot.

Finally, he reached the part where Sasuke came in.

"You want me to manage Shisui's?"

"In lack of a better explanation…yes." Sasuke frowned. Did his brother know his whole future had changed the moment he-Itachi decided to leave?

"I took away your freedom, Sasuke." Itachi said solemnly, obliviously answering the question as if he'd read his brother's mind. "And I'm giving it back to you."

All you have to do is spread your wings and fly.

He walked past his younger brother, headed for the door. "You have time to decide. Think about it."

Sasuke frowned hard at the door once his brother had exited. Why? Why must his life always be controlled by other people?


"I love you."

Neji stopped chewing, his jaw going slack. He swallowed the bite of crust-less turkey sandwich he'd only just taken in with difficulty.

"What?" he asked incredulously.

"I love you." The tone remained unfaltering, low but strong, as he'd always known his boyfriend's voice to be.

Though Gaara kept unwavering kryptonite eyes locked on the rare lavender stare before him, giving off the impression that he was far from nervous, he could feel his hands shaking inside his coat's pockets. Clamminess was building up; he could feel the sweat as he tightened his fists. His heart was slamming against his chest, making it hard for him to breathe, making it even harder for him to think.

What possessed him to come out and say it?

They had agreed to never voice this particular feeling, only show it, the word was taboo because of all the bad relationships they'd both had in the past. He couldn't help feeling so utterly pathetic.

Neji placed the rest of his triangle shaped sandwich down and pushed his plate out of reach then crossed his arms on the newly opened up space, automatically leaning closer to Gaara. Currently, they were at the Hyuuga manor's kitchen, across from one another at the bar-like counter there, having a light snack before they returned to their homework which they were used to doing together since it always provided promising incentives--Neji did always look forward to that. The Hyuuga's maid had just finished making their food and no sooner had she left that Gaara had uttered the words out of the blue.

"Why are you telling me?" Gaara narrowed his eyes.

"That's your answer?" Neji paused, gauging everything about Gaara, from the unreadable expression on his face, to his body language, to his strained breathing and the heaviness of his voice. He wanted to mess with him, make him mad, the jade-eyed man was a beauty when he got worked up, but something told him Gaara was serious about this particular conversation.

"What do you want me to say?" The Hyuuga asked sounding confused.

Gaara took his time to answer, as if deciding what emotion to go with, before anger, slowly but surely and rather triumphantly made its way up and down his body.

"What do you think I want you to say?" Disdain dripped from every word and Neji snorted before he spoke.

"I've put up with you for three years, Gaara. What I feel for you is pretty damned self-explanatory--"

"You're an asshole." Gaara's barstool scrapped against the stone floors, the kitchen adorned in an elegant baroque theme and thus all things were made of finely smoothed rocks, before the redhead moved to the living room to grab his books spread out on the coffee table.

Neji followed him, completely at a loss for what to say. Not a minute passed before his fuming lover pushed past him, headed towards the entrance of the mansion, not sparing as much as a glance to him. The Hyuuga clicked his tongue.


"Don't fucking bother coming after me," was the last Neji heard before the front door of his house harshly shut closed.

Neji ran a hand through his fine chestnut hair, sighing helplessly. God, he loved him, the only one able to make a fool out of him any day, any time.

But why couldn't he say it?


The cool Californian evening found Naruto sitting on the desk within his room, mercilessly glaring down his Biology homework. He breathed out, slightly pulling at sunshine spikes of hair in frustration. Who the hell invented sciences, anyway? It's not like they were important to get ahead in the world. He knew numbers and, quite frankly, all of mankind would agree it was all that mattered…

The thought of officially being part of the football team kept tugging at his mind, diverting what little attention he was paying his studies to begin with; it still felt so surreal. Perhaps because at Ochiba he'd been denied of all after-school organizations, despite his endless desire to become part of something worthwhile.

He'd been more than qualified too, with good enough grades--even if he wasn't top of the class--though that wasn't what was most impressive about him. His volunteer work spoke for itself, able to rival and sometimes surpass that of the presidents of each small club alone, because he liked to do good for the community. It was the means he'd resorted to, to deem himself worthy in the eyes of the town that had grown and lived despising him. He wanted to prove them wrong.

And most of the time, he ended up doing exactly that.

But people at Ochiba High-- namely the student council-- never gave him a chance. He assumed it was all related to the mistreatment he'd suffered for as long as he could remember in his small town. It wasn't the first time and it certainly didn't surprise him. Nothing ever did surprise him at Ochiba.

His godmother had initially opposed to the idea of him joining the team, as Saturdays were chore days in the Uzumaki/Sanin household. He'd never felt so jealous of Sasuke, who had a servant that could get all his chores done for him and thus he was able to enjoy his Saturdays to a full extent.

Naruto knew the reason why his godmother refused to find a servant for them, despite the fact that they now had enough money leftover to hire one. She wanted him to grow up to be a hardworking man, with hands-on experience on labor, not a snotty brat that had never as much as touched a dirty plate in his life. They hadn't led an affluent life back at Ochiba and she had warned him from the beginning; that they had all these riches now did not change the fact that they were a humble family.

If his calculations were correct, he'd need at least four hours for practices every day that were normally put into his schoolwork and four hours for games on weekends that were usually used to get housework done. He figured he could get the work done after practices and games. Because he understood English well enough for a foreigner, classes weren't taking so hard a toll on him. He was managing just fine and the physical exertion he went through in practice was bad but not bad enough that he couldn't carry on with chores either.

Ultimately, based on the fact that her godson having been extended an invitation to join a sports team alleviated some of the worry she'd had since they had moved to America (though Naruto always said "school was fine" whenever he got back from school in Japan, she knew it had been far from it, if the pitiful attempt at a grin on his face was any indication. She knew he desperately wanted to be accepted and being denied of organizations through which most teens automatically "fit in" made him feel like a nobody), Tsunade had agreed.

"I expect you to keep up with your duties, however. The moment you get sidetracked because of football, you'll be quitting the team. There will not be second chances," she had warned.

And so, here he was, trying to finish his Biology homework due next day, DNA and RNA codes looking like hieroglyphics to his too tired and jumbled up mind. The French Victorian doors made to resemble windows to the side of his fine oak desk gave way to a balcony that displayed a view of the Californian city, currently in its peaceful slumber, so beautiful it was worthy of postcard framing and tourism magazine covers. They rattled on their hinges, bringing the blonde's ever short-spanned attention to them. He stared, wondering why the sudden noisiness when there was hardly any wind and they had been still all night.

A spike of dark midnight hair poked out from the rails.


That's why.

Slowly he rose from his chair to let the intruder in.

The first time Sasuke had sneaked up on him like this had been about two days ago. He'd scared the living shit out of him, dressed in black sleeping pants and a plain black Hanes shirt, knocking on the window as if he were a visiting neighbor in broad daylight…only it was 3 o'clock in the morning!

Naruto had paled as though he'd seen a ghost, and in a manner of speaking, he had seen a ghost. Sasuke's skin was fairer under the reflection of the moon, he'd had twigs sticking out of his wild sleeping hair and the glare he'd been given after he'd yelled his lungs out loud enough to have his godparents come check on him (forcing the brunet into hiding), made him seem like an evil spirit after his soul.

Once he'd let him in, Sasuke had knocked him over the head and had whispered an "Idiot" to which he responded "It's 3 o'clock in the morning!" Sasuke had said something about his parents being loud; he hadn't paid much mind though. Who was reasonable before daybreak anyway? And with warm lips falling on the crook of his neck, sweetly nibbling away until all life left him, who could be?

It was needless to say, sleep had never been the same after that night.

Their relationship aside, Sasuke was the perfect sleep-buddy. He didn't snore; in fact, you could barely hear him breathe at all. He didn't wake up to snoring― then again, he wouldn't wake up to the sound of an airplane taking off either; his sleep was that heavy. He was warm, not clammy-warm but comfortable-warm. He smelled good and he hardly moved in his sleep.

As opposed to Naruto, who was used to waking up to his own bed sheets strangling him around the neck from rolling all over the place. His reflexes were always twitching involuntarily, as if a day's events hadn't been enough to wear them out and he could wake up to a snowflake hitting the windowpane though most of the time it was his own loud snores that made him jerk awake. His sleep was that light.

No words were exchanged between them this time. As if on automatic pilot, Naruto opened the doors, Sasuke walked in and the second the door was securely shut behind them, they kissed.

Exhilaration rushed through them, lightheadedness invaded their brains, their chests constricted with all the powerful emotions that had been waiting for this moment to be released as their bodies succumbed to the headiness that their desire for each other provoked.

Sasuke's long and pale fingers got lost in golden mounds of hair. His world, these days, came down to Naruto's soft lips, his adventurous tongue, his curious hands and his darkened sapphire eyes full of eagerness and mischief, always willing him to have more. He never could get enough.

Naruto smirked into the kiss. Heaven was a place on earth… a person on earth was more fitting and he was right here, in his room, perfectly warm against him as he always was, smelling virile and clean, as if he'd just come out of a shower. All Naruto could think of was the lingering taste of cinnamon in Sasuke's kiss. For someone that didn't like sweets, cinnamon toothpaste sure was a paradox.

"You can't keep sneaking in through my window." Naruto interrupted the kiss, instantly regretting it when he felt Sasuke's smooth lips kiss below his lower lip and down his chin, idle hands traveling underneath his shirt, thumbs tracing gentle soothing circles low on his bare hipbones. All sense of reasoning was lost in the tingles that erupted throughout his body at the gentle gesture.

"You left," Sasuke breathed on his lips, pressing their bodies closer together and slowly pushing Naruto backwards towards his bed. Naruto fisted his shirt at the sides of his torso as he staggered backwards carefully, trying to keep their lips locked in a newly initiated kiss at the same time.

He knew what the bastard was talking about.

The tense silence that had enveloped his room right after that Itachi guy had made his presence known had been enough for Naruto to take a hint. He'd taken off without preamble. Judging by the merciless stares Itachi and Sasuke had given one another, Naruto got the feeling they had a lot to talk about. Neither Sasuke nor Itachi had protested when he left which was more of a reason he believed he'd made the right choice.

With an inaudible 'plop', they landed safely. Lazy strands of dark bluish hair tickled his flushed cheekbones as dark irises held him captive in the illusion that was their world. His thumbs caressed the pearly skin of the jaw above him, the skin slowly taking a rosy contour. Sasuke shifted in between his legs and settled more comfortably with his elbows at either side of his head on the bed, their lower extremities pressed together, creating blissful friction.

"That guy--"

"My brother." Sasuke provided. The blond repressed the urge to snort at the revelation. Some people got all the good genes, especially if their last name was Uchiha, apparently.

Naruto caught on to the stony glint that momentarily passed through dark onyxes at the statement and made a mental note to ask about the stranger soon. Though Sasuke had never said anything, it seemed as though his family, in general, was a delicate subject. His eyes always dulled at the mention of them.

"Your brother." The blond corrected himself. "And you seemed like you had a lot to talk about. I didn't want to be in the way of mmph--" a kiss stopped him from talking.

"You weren't in the way." Another kiss stopped him from disagreeing. Tanned fingers wound themselves in dark locks of hair as the kiss deepened. The pace Sasuke set so very slowly and painlessly disintegrated every bone in his body. He was suddenly grateful they'd found the bed before they started this particular makeout session, otherwise his boneless form would've sunk to the floor in the shape of a damned amoeba.

Sasuke's different, sirens went off within Naruto's mind, making hazy sapphire eyes snap open briefly. True. The brunet felt different, he was gentle but selfish, sucking his mouth greedily, almost as if he needed something from him.

But what?

Hot passion was consuming them, turning them into a mess of primal instincts and just like that, blue sapphire eyes dropped closed again. Naruto could contain no longer. He slid his hands underneath Sasuke's dark sleep shirt, reaching his nipples without clothing barring his way. He rubbed the pert nubs, rolled them with the tip of his fingers, and Sasuke rolled his hips, rubbing their growing tents together in retaliation.

They broke the kiss, panting into each other's mouths along with their hips' frantic movements, the dimness of the room hiding their flushed faces. Clouded onyxes so close to him made Naruto furrow his brows in confusion. There wasn't lust reflected like he had expected given their situation. There was something else, something he couldn't place, something that bothered him and he couldn't keep quiet about any longer.

"Sasuke…" with all the willpower he possessed, he forced himself to stop by gripping Sasuke's hipbones tightly. Sasuke stared at the aroused blond, their short and shaky breaths mingling. He was equally aroused, their hardness down below, pressed together, made that very clear. But he couldn't continue, not when those beautiful depths of ocean beneath him were grim with worry, asking the same thing from him they always did.

Talk to me.

He breathed out, lowering again to nuzzle in the crook of the blonde's neck.

I can't. How could he even begin to explain?

"Tired." Naruto heard him mumble against his skin and he stilled for a moment, disappointment making his insides grow cold, before he hesitantly ran his hand up and down the other's back in a strangely familiar motherly fashion.

When Sasuke? When will you open up to me?


Analyzing situations were his forte, it was the reason he was one of the most gifted high school quarterbacks in the nation, next to Sasuke, even when he didn't get that much playing time. By the third class period, Shikamaru Nara knew something was off within the members of their circle.

For starters, Kiba wasn't being his usual loud self. He looked somber during classes, reacting a few minutes too late to whatever comments anyone in their clique had for him, unable to answer what class-related questions teachers asked, not even taking part in whatever jokes were shared by the class, which was unusually strange for the usually cheerful brunette who always looked forward to at least the last one, seeing as he was almost always the reason for them.

During breaks he would daze off, enough that things had to be repeated to him a couple of times before they could actually get through to him. His eyes only ever seemed to focus when Hinata Hyuuga was somewhere in the vicinity.

Shikamaru shook his head miserably at this, already knowing the doom that awaited his shaggy haired friend. If there was one girl that was untouchable in their school, it was Hinata Hyuuga, not because of her precedence but because, well, she was Neji Hyuuga's very dear cousin. Crossing her meant crossing him and thus many guys claimed that, though desperate to date what was perhaps the most beautiful girl in Konoha High, even they were not that suicidal.

Uzumaki and Uchiha, beside him, seemed to be working on a 'silent treatment' basis. Both were immersed in their work, no matter how easy the high-pony tailed brunette had found it, avoiding each other like plagues. Shikamaru had even caught Sasuke staring a few times, assessing Naruto carefully, but Naruto seemed not to be giving anything away, which, to the brunette, meant that while one was aware of the problem, the other one wasn't.

Whatever problem Naruto had, Shikamaru concluded, was very obviously a painfully oblivious Uchiha's doing.

Shikamaru hadn't also missed how Sabaku no Gaara's piercing kryptonite eyes looked duller and colder with every class period that passed. He was alone during class breaks and he returned to the classroom at least a minute early, without a certain brunette hanging by his side.

His known partner, Neji Hyuuga, not only arrived a few notable minutes after him (they usually entered together) but he took his usual seat next to him and didn't as much as spare him a glance, what was more, neither had spoken a word since they had arrived, not to each other or anybody around them. This could only mean one thing.

They had a fight.

Shikamaru eyed his two childhood friends quizzically, both doing their best to feign the other didn't exist. The hazelnut-eyed jock sighed tiredly, deeming as a curse the ability he had to pick up on these things, also wondering about the apocalypse soon to come. He didn't know about Sasuke and Naruto but whenever the Sabaku/Hyuuga couple seriously argued, they engaged in self-destructive patterns on their own in order to fill the void that not being with each other caused.

Shikamaru never managed to understand it. To him, there was nothing as simple as going back to the one you need, the one your heart corresponded to, instead of torturing yourself and doing stupid things that might hurt the other even more. He only hoped he could keep them away from danger.

"As a reminder, exam one is scheduled for Tuesday next week." Kurenai announced, earning a few tired groans from the class in response. "It will cover everything we have discussed from chapter one to chapter twelve. The review will be handed in tomorrow. If nobody has any questions, you are all free to go."

Clatter broke out in a huge wave as students made their way outside the classroom to take advantage of the couple of extra minutes their biology teacher had given them before the bell rang.


Naruto was about to beeline past the bathroom where he and Sasuke usually met for breaks when he was forced into it, door locked behind the instigator, though he already knew who it was.

"Sasuke." He heaved a tried breath, not in the mood for this. Last night had left him confused. He'd tried to convince himself that it was nothing he should feel pained about, but it had hurt. His godfather always told him that he was an idiot for offering his trust to people when they sometimes didn't deserve it, leading to him getting hurt easily, but he hadn't desisted, because it was his way of life. He encouraged people to trust him by first trusting them.

Still, this seemed to do nothing to Sasuke. He didn't understand his lack of faith in him, Naruto, his boyfriend. Naruto saw it as a sign. Sasuke wasn't taking things between them seriously, or at least seriously enough to step out of his comfort zone. He knew nothing of Sasuke's life because the bastard wouldn't talk to him, wouldn't let him in, as if Naruto was someone he needed to close off, like everybody else.

Only Naruto wasn't like everybody else.

What was he so scared of? If there was one person that was in the least position to judge his life, it was Naruto. Why was he keeping him at bay?

Sasuke inched closer to Naruto, supporting himself against the bathroom wall with his hands at either side of Naruto's head, feeling Naruto part his letterman jacket to curl the sides of his uniform button down shirt in loose fists at the same time. He stared at the blond closely, silent, examining darkened cerulean orbs that he hadn't been able to read since this morning. He knew something was off, the dobe's silence on their way to school had been a dead giveaway, he just couldn't figure out why that was.

Seconds that felt like hours passed by with them breathing into each other's semi-parted lips, reveling in each other's manly scents, growing hazy in the comfortable body heat their bodies gave off, holding each other in the loose but affectionate embrace.

A kiss was all it took for Naruto's resolve to strengthen. He should've know that once the bastard knew something was wrong with him, he wouldn't be asking out loud but stick around until Naruto decided to tell him. It was with willpower he didn't even know he had in him that he pulled away and interrupted their kiss, his body screaming in protest, his heart beating in disproval, but his mind steadfast in getting his point across.

He wasn't losing Sasuke to this.

"I don't know anything about you," he whispered as steadily as he could, given his situation. Smoldering charcoal orbs drifted to the side before they fully focused on him, taking his breath away as they penetrated to his very soul.

"What do you want to know?" Sasuke asked in a neutral tone.

"Why you never talk about your family." Naruto decided to get straight to the point. They'd been beating around the bush enough. He wanted to know.

Sasuke swallowed, not taking in the request with ease. He held his silence and he could see it, the chain of reactions he set off with this reaction, as if in slow motion. Blue eyes flickered with anger, followed by disappointment, followed by hurt.

He had hurt him.

He had hurt Naruto.

And the worst part about it was that it felt good.

Naruto was asking about a part of his life that he had always been defensive about. His way to protect himself had always been to push away those who threatened to unveil the story.

The bell rang, interrupting the heavy silence that had settled between them. Naruto looked up with narrowed eyes and Sasuke could feel more than see the unrestrained fury rushing through him.

"I told you before that I'm not like everybody else," the blond started, his fists tightening on the other's shirt. "This isn't going anywhere if you don't trust me, Sasuke." The words were uttered with finality, darker toned hands uncurling and retreating from the taller form before them.

Naruto was out of the bathroom before Sasuke had a chance to say anything else, leaving the dark-haired man to contemplate on his own…

End of Ch. 9. Bit of a cliffy, I know. You'll realize, as you read the following chapter, that this particular chapter was only really divided in two. When I finished it, it was 28 pages long. Yes, I know I've been missing for a while and that you guys wouldn't mind it at all but a 28 page-long chapter would ruin my story. Hope you liked it! R/R, you know the drill!

Review Replies! Only cause I couldn't respond to them last time. Here we go:

spirtually-lunar - you didn't miss anything about the bet. The contents of it will be revealed soon so until then, you can speculate what it is about but you won't know anything for certain!

silver-eyed - I hope this chapter cleared up any questions about Itachi. Thank you very much!

Shadowphoenix143 - thanks, Europe is turning out to be quite the experience! Thankfully, it will be over in less than two months. I'll be able to write all day like I used to! I miss the good old days!

XxDrEaMcHiLdxX - thank you very much! Internet was up and running within a month. It just took this long to write this chapter out. Read my profile if you want further details. Thanks for the compliments. They're always great to hear!

Radders - Itachi's a sadistic bastard. We've always know that, lol. Thanks for the review!

Nanachan87 - that is a good question. I hope this chapter made it clear that Itachi is very minimally involved in Sasuke's personal life…hopefully…so him knowing about Sasuke's homosexuality was an assumption but not a certainty to him.

Redfoxmoon - thank you very much! Europe turned out to be…uhhh….different? Haha, anyway, don't think Sasuke's an ungrateful brat if he doesn't want to manage Shisui's. There's a reason he reacted the way he did. It just hasn't been revealed yet.

RosePetalx - thanks love. Wish I had more understanding reviewers like you ;p

purvy_sage - I'm ashamed at how long it has taken me to get back to you. I am so very sorry. I've had no time! This is a great experience but so time consuming I almost regret it. I mean, it's a job. What am I saying!? With how the economy is, I should be more grateful! I love it and all but I can't keep in contact like I used to and I miss that. Forgive me? *puppy dog eyes* please?

HairoM - thank you for the detailed review. Really appreciate it as it really did help me to work on things that the story is lacking. Thanks!

Maiyr - I'm PM-ing you!

TheGreyPebble - thank you very much! I'm glad you like the football parts since it takes a LOT of research for maybe like a page and a half of football writing. So I'm really glad you enjoy them!

Of course, I haven't forgotten the rest of you. odmstudent, Ornina, rOckSTar-RelIC, ReMy_K, capullo, FG, Blood_Zephyr, RaitenKitsune, silver-eyed, yearofthejazz, I think that's everyone. If I forgot you, PM me and I'll add your name with a silver star on top cause I forgot. Gah, I'm forgetful, sorry. Anyway, thank you so much everyone for the support you have shown to this story and the biggest apology for taking such a long ass time to release this chapter.

OH, the good news is that, as I said before, this chapter was 28 pages long initially which means chapter 10 is practically already done so you'll have it out sooner than I usually update. Have no fear! Hahaha. I hope you enjoyed this chapter (despite the hinted angst to it). Update will come soon!

Much love!