House of Cards Ch.1: Sparks

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, anime or manga, nor do I profit from this work.

(I merely abuse its characters for my own personal enjoyment.)

Author's Note: This is not the first fanfiction I have written, but it will be the first I have submitted to peer review (given that anyone reviews it).

Most effects are fairly universal (italics for thought and so on).


Dark forests, looming shadows closing in, a sense of dread that built and built until it was nearly unbearable. He was aware of running, running somewhere…he knew it was urgent, so urgent…but the shadows obscured the path, the trees blocked the way: he knew he would never make it in time, but he kept running. He had to.

Finally, he burst out of the woods, and for a second, for a fleeting moment more painful for its beauty than the horrors of the shadow, he saw the Uchiha complex bathed in summer sun, sprawling majestically in a vibrant green vision of summer…but only for a moment.

Sunshine became fire, grass became ash, and he looked upon his home consumed by flame, everything ablaze: where there was not fire, it was only because there was nothing left to burn. The once green lawns were now a puzzle of every shade of grey from sullied white to almost black, trees laid stark and bare as gallows.

He tried to move, and found that he could not.

Transfixed, he could only look on in horror, as the bleak tableau before him blurred, colors rearranging into a sight every bit as terrifying: a single, blood red eye.

The Uchiha heir awoke violently, sitting upright with enough force to dislodge the silken coverlet. Dripping with sweat, his chest heaving, his right hand clamped over his mouth to stifle a scream, Sasuke looked blankly into the black cavern of his enormous bedroom.

It was that same dream, or some version of it, that had haunted his childhood and continued to haunt him yet.

Sasuke lived on the vast and majestic Uchiha complex, perhaps the richest, most beautiful property within any distance of Konoha.

He hated it.

He truly and vehemently hated it. He had overheard people in town praising it, wishing they lived somewhere nearly so nice, but sometimes he just felt he would give anything, anything, to be elsewhere.

Or at least, he reflected, not to be alone.

It wouldn't be half so bad, he mused, if someone else lived here. It wouldn't be so…lonely.

Sasuke had been alone for most of his life, and yet had never felt lonely: that is, until he had met a certain blonde boy…a certain beautiful, cheerful, caring boy, who had changed his world irreparably.

After that, he had become far more aware of how alone he was, of how infrequently he had visitors, or went to town, or, in short, saw him.

Sasuke shook himself. He tried to think about him as little as possible, especially at night. It only tended to…agitate him. Slowly, he climbed out of bed, pulling a shirt over his head as he walked over to the window. Looking out, he could see the lights of Konoha not so far away, and on some nights, when he couldn't sleep, he would watch them and feel calmer.

He wasn't really paying attention at first, and that was perhaps why he didn't notice how bright all the lights were, and how many, especially where there usually weren't any, or see the occasional orange tongue lick the darkness above the rooftops, and the thin tendrils of smoke that curled lazily against the night.

Then suddenly, everything registered at once, in a moment of frightening cognition followed by a void of total absence of thought, through which the tiny, worrying little idea still managed to wriggle its way into Sasuke's head: isn't that near where Naruto lives?

Sasuke had never though of himself as rash, and anyone who knew him would say how cold he was, how logical, how devoid of personal emotion. No one would ever say he was unreasonable.

And yet…he could feel panic growing in the pit of his stomach, his heart beating faster as he raced through the night, sandals he couldn't even remember putting on barely skimming the surface of the ground.

As he neared downtown he slowed, because here people might see him, and he could not afford to seem, at any point, anything but cold and distant. He had spent years building a wall of ice around his heart, and for this he feared nothing perhaps so much as the sound of ice cracking.

"No, no, really, I'm okay!" Naruto said for the sixth time to a worried Iruka. And he was. After all he had been through, it would take more than a freak fire to kill him. And that was even discounting the kyuubi, something few people did anymore.

"Are you sure you're not hurt?" Unsatisfied by Naruto's response, Iruka checked the youth over again for himself, even as Naruto laughed. Thank goodness, he thought, watching the blonde reassuring his friends, I don't think we really realized how much we'd miss him. Half Konoha's shown up to make sure he's okay. Iruka was smiling, for he had a soft spot for Naruto, and was glad to see his student doing so well.

Naruto had just turned from Kiba when suddenly Sasuke was right in front of him. The latter raised a single eyebrow, asking, "Are you causing trouble again, Naruto?"

Naruto flushed, taken off guard not only by Sasuke's sudden appearance but that the Ice Prince had come at all. He could feel the blush deepening as he looked at his friend. He desperately needed to break eye contact, to look away, lest Sasuke read in his eyes what was stirring in his heart.

Sasuke was lost in his own reverie, half grateful Naruto was fine, half angry that he had let himself become so worried in the first place. Of course Naruto is fine. How could I ever have thought he wouldn't be? Although…he's going to need a place to stay. Perhaps… Sasuke blinked. His life had never seemed so perfect than at that single moment.

And new clothes… Sasuke thought, eyeing the burning building, …less orange…and much tighter… Clearing his throat before he had time to think anymore about…about certain things, Sasuke turned once more to his, unusually, quiet friend. "Hey, dobe, you're going to need a place to stay, right?"

Naruto blinked, stupefied, unwilling to read more into Sasuke's words, unwilling to set himself up for more disappointment. Sasuke's voice was just as flat, his eyes just as cold and dead as ever, and yet, was he saying…

"You can have any room you like. It's not like I even use half of them." This said, Sasuke began to walk away, leaving an even more stunned Naruto to gaze wonderingly after the dark-clad youth.

When Sasuke realized Naruto had not moved, his heart rate doubled. He wanted so badly for the blonde haired ninja to follow him, to stay with him and bring sunshine to his dark life. But…he couldn't let anyone…not even Naruto…know that, so he forced himself to keep walking until he had reached the edge of the shadows cast by the fire. Then and only then did he pause, only slightly, and half-turn, and allowed himself to utter no more than an icy, "Coming?"

I should have just asked! Sasuke berated himself, mentally yelling, Why do I always have to be so damned cold? What if Naruto just… Sasuke's thoughts stopped as his senses picked up Naruto's chakra closing with him, until he could turn his head slightly and see his friend's beautiful face, so close next to his, smiling like always. Sasuke allowed himself the barest, tiniest of smiles: more a smirk, even, but when Naruto saw it, he beamed twice as brightly and warmly as before.

As the two made their way through the dark, Naruto's heart seethed with conflicting thoughts, emotions, tangled feelings he could barely define…but one thing stood out certain and clear: he would be living with Sasuke, in the same house, under the same roof, so close and yet so distant from the one he loved more than anything.

Little did Naruto realize, under the many layers of ice, the very same frustrated emotions were whirling around in Sasuke's heart as well. The spring thaw had started, and even the thickest of ice would melt under the warmth of a golden sun.

Let me just say that I am personally so behind in the anime/manga plotline that anything I write might as well be considered AU for all of its relevancy.Also…PLEASE: tell me if the chapter is too long (or too short) I really, really need input

(Or if you thought it was totally horrible and doesn't deserve to continue, you have the right to tell me that as well. However, I have the right not to listen.)

Coming up next…

House of Cards Ch.2: Complications

With Sasuke and Naruto now living under one roof, how much longer will they be able to hide their feelings for each other?

Stay tuned!