AN: Go listen to Stairway to Heaven. Right now. During this fic.
Disclaimer:I own neither the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven, nor the characters of Naruto.
- Seductive Dreams -
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow don't be alarmed now
The sunlight danced playfully along the forest floor. The leaves, green and tranquil, waved gently in the breeze, beckoning. The sky overhead seemed to be throwing everything into a magical relief. But it was the music that was weaving the spell. Fluted notes, lilting with the breeze and the green, green leaves, giving the sunlight cause for dance, the air its very airy, anticipatory quality.
The boy had never particularly enjoyed the forest. It was the fox that did. But it was he who heard the melody.
He had no conscious knowledge of it at first; he might have been following the whisperings of the breeze. He treaded carefully. He never made much noise amidst those green, blurring depths, with trees showing him the way. Today there were pointing him ahead helpfully with spindly, gnarled fingers. The boy padded softly over their twisted roots, and the trees eventually gave way, linking hands round in a circle to create a modest clearing.
It was green, as usual. Everything was. The ground was blanketed by a generous covering of soft pine needles, dirt, and tender, green sprouts, supervised by the vigilant eyes of the grown-up trees.
There he was, by the grown-up trees. His back rested against one, relaxed and smooth and fluid against the knotted wood, his eyes were closed, his fingers skimmed evenly over the wooden flute. His eyelashes threw long shadows across his cheeks, and the trees threw long shadows across his lithe frame.
The boy froze. He took a step backwards. He stared, eyes wide and blue as innocence. The moment slipped by in the warm sunshine, drowsy and intangible.
The other's lids opened in one decisive movement, like drapes being suddenly pulled back. His eyes were dark, yet had a sharp, clear color. The music stopped. His lips pulled up into the smallest of smirks. His teeth were very straight, very white and sharp. The boy hesitated. He knew what he was supposed to do.
The boy turned tail and fled, throwing curious glances over his shoulder as he ran. He did not trip or stumble.
The music gradually began again, walking him to the door.
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen
He knew what the boy was. He knew that pale sunless skin, that dark, dark hair, those wickedly sharp teeth, and he knew those eyes, alien eyes.
He took another decisive step forward. He'd always been one who tried and laughed in the face of danger. The forest welcomed him again, greeting him like an old friend. The trees cleared a path, the music called to him over its shoulder. It tripped lightly through the branches, always just ahead. It had a hollow, breathy sound, like there was something straining just inside the notes, like there was a hidden secret he couldn't hear. He followed quietly, listening. He reached the clearing.
And there he was, once again. He lay on his back in the midst of the grass and earth, his flute to his lips, his black eyes raised straight into the shining sun.
Perhaps they absorbed light, the boy thought as he stood back in the half-light of the canopy. The other played on, and the boy leant lightly against a nearby trunk as he listened. His mind emptied of its previous reserves. Left was only a burning curiousity and a strange pull. The same hollowed patterns as the music.
His own eyes fluttered closed as the last notes faded away, gradually; imperceptibly, almost.
They snapped open at a light, cool touch on his arm. He flinched backwards, directly onto the soft ground.
The black-haired, pale-skinned boy was feet away, directly in front of him. He was standing between two trees. The other boy noticed, with some annoyance, that he was a few inches taller than him—well, than he would be if he were standing— and was wearing a spotlessly white shirt, dark blue, almost black breeches, and no shoes. His hair was tousled so that it stuck almost directly upwards from the back, and his pale pink lips were tugging into that same smirk.
In the shadows, it seemed his skin glowed.
"What's your name?"
His voice was like his music. Deep, yet prettily hollow, almost like a lilting wooden flute.
"N-Naruto," replied Naruto, scowling at the ripple in his own voice.
The boy held out a hand. Naruto wavered before taking it, scowl deepening at his own caution. It was cool and smooth; natural.
The boy led him into the clearing. He didn't release his hand until both were safely past the outer ring of trees.
"Sit," he said, sitting cross-legged in his previous spot. Naruto joined him after a heartbeat of hesitation.
The boy began to play again. Naruto studied him as he did so, watching as his eyes slowly closed, how the golden flecks of sunlight seemed to nestle in his hair as his fingers continued their easy dance.
This time the song was not as long. Amidst the dieing notes, Naruto asked,
"Who are you?"
The boy stopped his playing, his eyes opened steadily once more.
"Hn," he said, looking blank. Naruto waited impatiently. "...Sasuke."
As Naruto left the forest that night when the sun was bleeding red, the music once more followed him out.
And if you listen very hard
The next day was cold and windy. Naruto ducked and skittered about to avoid the flailing branches on all sides. Midway to the clearing, it began to rain.
"Great, just great," he muttered. The trees, once friendly guides, now seemed to have an aversion to his presence. They pricked and scratched at his skin like hordes of angry, bloodthirsty demons.
The music was the only welcome he received. The storm screamed viciously. Naruto would stop, strain his ears, and eventually gain his bearings.
Thus he found his—Sasuke's—clearing once more. Empty.
"Sasuke…?" he began. He took a cautious step through the bordering trees. It did not seem like he could simply enter. "Sasuke!?"
"In here, Naruto."
He could barely hear him. The storm was howling. The voice seemed to resound from all directions.
Naruto did so, squinting through the rain. There, nestled among the soggy leaves of a nearby tree, was a blurred figure. It was leaning against the trunk, and its legs were dangling on either side of the branch into midair.
"Sasuke?" Naruto narrowed his eyes even more; the rain was flying in almost solid torrents. Sasuke seemed to be shining through the dark.
Naruto scowled a little at the flat reply. So Sasuke could do sarcastic. Naruto didn't like sarcastic.
"What are you doing there? What if you get hit by lightning or something?"
Through his limited vision, Naruto saw Sasuke roll his eyes.
"I won't," he said simply. A beat of silence passed between the two boys. Then, "Would you… like to come up here?"
Naruto appraised the tree warily. It was pretty: healthy-looking with twisting bark and dark green leaves that would shade him from the angry rain. But—
"Will it be able to carry us both?"
Sasuke rolled his eyes again. What for, Naruto wasn't sure. It seemed a reasonable enough question.
"Yes," he called back over the wind.
Naruto hesitated again. Then he decisively stalked over, grabbing a branch and hoisting himself upwards.
"Don't be so rough," Sasuke cautioned. "You'll break the branches."
Obligingly Naruto softened his hold. It was just a stupid tree.
He was panting by the time he finally reached Sasuke. The boy was perched quite high up.
"Such little stamina," said Sasuke, that little smirk playing on his face again. Naruto glared.
"Yeah, well, I don't spend all day frolicking about trees like some people."
For a little while, neither boy spoke. Finally, Naruto began talking.
And it seemed he would never stop. The rain too was ceaseless, and the blond didn't want to brave his way home through this weather. The two sat in the tree for hours. Naruto's back grew sore and his voice hoarse. But Sasuke was a good, if somewhat scathing, listener.
At last, however, he ran out of things to say. Peaceful quiet reigned, with only the drumbeat of the storm to break it.
"Sasuke, would you… would you play me something?"
Sasuke, who had been staring out at the forest with steady dark eyes, turned to the other boy. He held his gaze.
Then he brought the ever-present flute up to his lips and began to play.
The tune will come to you at last
As a general rule, the villagers harbored a profound dislike for the forest. It's leafy green depths were the lairs of a temptress. It seduced and devoured those who ventured past its thick natural barriers. The cause of this hate was, as far as Naruto knew, unfounded.
"You!" He flinched and glanced to the left, straightening fully. He abandoned all attempts of stealth. "You—Naruto!"
"What, old hag?"
Naruto had a few general rules of his own. One was to never respect his elders.
Tsunade squinted at him sternly. "Don't go into the forest, brat." She strode forward to deliver a sharp whack to his head. Naruto barely cringed away; resistance was futile. "It's dangerous; you know that."
Naruto squinted right back.
"Whatever, old hag. I'll do whatever I want—"
He cut off, remembering Sasuke. However little prudence was in his nature, Naruto realized it would not be wise to reveal his existence.
"It's the fox, anyway," he muttered. He toed at the ground. This was not strictly a lie. The village permitted him to roam the forest to some extent out of respect and fear for the Nine-Tails.
Tsunade was not satisfied. "You've been seen around the forest more often lately, brat." She inspected him carefully. She made sure to rake her eyes from head to toe in her customary unnerving manner.
"I'd keep a leash on…your emotions, if I were you."
She couldn't know. She was probably referring to the Nine-Tails.
"Stop worrying, granma."
The piper's callin' you to join him
As spring turned to summer, summer began to fade into autumn.
"And then," Naruto said, lips tucking into a cross between a frown and a pout, "I had to fetch water for the whole class, just because Mr. Iruka didn't appreciate the brilliance of my imitation of him when the old hag—Tsunade's—corset broke free."
Sasuke hn'd in reply, a signature response of his. He picked idly at one of the small sunflowers littering the lush grass. Even in then sweltering heat of summer, the filtered green light kept the forest cool.
"Oi, Sasuke," Naruto said, snatched the flower from him, "are you listening?!"
Sasuke looked up at him lazily. His eyes were dark, almost half-lidded. "No."
Naruto scowled. He pushed at him roughly with one shoulder. Sasuke barely swayed. Over the past few months, Naruto had learned that the brunet had a very steady balance to match his fluid movements.
He yelped as he was hit round the head by the hard wooden flute.
But the exclamation held no real emotional inflection behind it.
Sasuke lay back after a few minutes to watch the clear sky above. He brought the flute to his lips, blowing absentmindedly into it. Naruto fiddled with the grass.
"Here," he said presently, and held something up, "for you."
It was a garland of butter-yellow flowers. Sasuke was forcibly reminded of his companion's hair.
"Keep it," he said, sitting up and brushing the grass from his back.
Naruto ignored him and placed the string on his head. The flowers glared brightly against his black hair.
"Princess," the blond said teasingly.
Sasuke shook his head a little. The flowers slipped down. Naruto snickered.
"It's stuck in your girly hair. Here…" He reached over to tug it down. His arm was both very close to Sasuke's face and very warm.
The garland slipped further still to rest around Sasuke's neck, reaching down over his collarbone.
"Idiot," he muttered grouchily. He brought an arm up to yank them off. Naruto grabbed it midway.
"Don't," he ordered. "It's pu-urty."
Sasuke scowled. "Shut up, dead-last."
Naruto frowned in return. "How do you know I'm—if I'm last in my class? I—I could be first, bastard!"
Sasuke's expression cleared into a smirk. "You just told me you were." The other boy's brows furrowed deeper.
"No, I—shut the hell up, asshole!"
Your head is humming and it won't go, incase you don't know
Sasuke's musical abilities were always a source of wonderment to Naruto. The tune was always different, always steady, like Sasuke's long fingers never faltered.
"Sasuke," he called huffily into the clearing one cloudy day. "SASUKE!"
Said boy slid gracefully onto the ground from a nearby tree. "You're early, dead-last."
For once, Naruto ignored the insult. "Whatever, bastard. Start playing."
Sasuke looked puzzled; dark, sharp eyebrows pulled together imperceptibly. He inspected Naruto carefully.
"What happened, dead-last?" The words came out dangerously near a sigh as he settled onto the ground.
"Nothing," Naruto snapped uncharacteristically. He flung himself onto the cold grass with a touch of violence.
Sasuke glanced at him from the corner of his eye and began to play. The surrounding wind was cold and biting, ever so slightly bitter. Gradually, Naruto's eyes began to droop shut. The music was clear, with the same hollow, carved feel, holding a sharp melody.
As it was fading away, Naruto murmured,
"Sakura… I asked her out."
Sasuke cut the last few notes off abruptly.
"Did you, now?" Naruto mentioned Sakura often, always with a slightly reverent tone to his voice.
Naruto spared the other boy a glance. He looked irritated. "Bastard. You know I hate it when you do that."
Naruto sighed. He lay back on his elbows and gazed up at the gray sky. "She refused."
Sasuke's expression was nonchalant. "Oh? She did?"
Naruto scowled. "Yes. She said no, then changed the subject and told me not to go into the forest anymore. The old hag Tsunade ratted me out. Now they're both nagging me about demons and crap."
A dark eyebrow arched. "Demons? You believe in such things?"
"Well, yes," confessed Naruto. His angry expression melted away in discomfort. "I… Nine-Tails and all…"
Sasuke shrugged. "Perhaps, but are there truly any demons in this forest? I think it's a rather peaceful place, don't you?"
Naruto was looking at the ground. His blue eyes flickered to and fro. "Yes, it is… but perhaps… that is to say, I'm sure demons…" He finally glanced up at Sasuke, then looked away immediately.
"I—I think I should get going—it's late, and—"
Sasuke watched as the blond scrambled to his feet. He softly blew into the flute. He began to play an obscure melody, and his eyes did not leave Naruto's all the while. Slowly, the other boy sat down once more. Sasuke did not stop playing.
Eventually, Naruto's eyes drooped peacefully shut. He knew no more, collapsing quietly across Sasuke's legs. The dark haired boy carefully removed them from beneath the other. He folded them up and sat on them neatly instead.
"Do you really believe in demons, Naruto?" he murmured softly, leaning in close to the boy. He stroked him gently on one cheek. Naruto whimpered and turned on his side to escape the cold touch.
Yes there are two paths you can go by
It was hot, stiflingly so. In the twilight green of the forest, Naruto found solace. The canopy overhead was merciful, and Sasuke's very presence was cool and calm. He no longer needed to ask the boy to play anything for him; the other would often glance at his expression and raise his flute. Today was one such occasion. Sasuke's notes were clear and pensive, and, as usual, liltingly hollow.
"Sasuke…" Naruto began as the lingering notes faded quietly into the wind, "what do you think of me?"
Sasuke did not respond. The silence stretched on, and Naruto continued,
"I mean, I asked other people as well. Tsunade said I'm a brat, Sakura said I'm an idiot. Mr. Iruka claimed I'm "naughty but good-hearted," Naruto chew at his lips thoughtfully, "and Hinata… squeaked. Shikamaru said I'm troublesome, Ino said I'm annoying, Sai…" Naruto's lips quirked upwards, "Sai said I'm foxy, and the old pervert Jiraiya said that I'm innocent." He turned towards Sasuke, cocking his head slightly, chewing once more on dry pink lips. "You… what do you think, Sasuke?"
For a great while Sasuke did not say anything. Naruto was looking down, eyes lidded, when the boy replied. Slender fingers drummed lightly against his flute as he said,
"I…" Here Sasuke faltered. Naruto glanced at him curiously.
"You're a dead-last."
His signature smirk was twisting his lips. Naruto grinned back strainedly. Blue eyes flickered away. Sasuke fingered his flute once more, bringing it to his pale pink mouth.
"…But you're sunshine, too." The words were a whisper, almost hidden by the rustling of the leaves.
And he started playing as Naruto froze.
There's still time to change the road you're on
It was Naruto—who else?—barreling through the trees, tumbling onto the soft, sweet ground.
"Yes, Naruto?" said Sasuke indulgently, breaking off a melody. Usually Naruto would never bother him in the midst of his music.
"Sasuke!" cried Naruto exuberantly. He jumped up from the floor to rush over to Sasuke. The other boy was leaning peacefully against the trees. "Sasuke, guess what?!"
"I asked Sakura out—and she said yes!" And with this breathless exclamation, Naruto leaned in to soundly kiss Sasuke on the lips. The other boy froze at the warm, chapped lips pressing reassuringly against his. Naruto pulled back before the brunet had the chance to react.
"You taste like… dew, Sasuke," he began thoughtfully as he absentmindedly touched his own lips, "And something else…" He sought to describe it. "Something cool. It's nice. Natural—"
He cut himself off, his eyes wide. Sasuke licked his lips.
"Dead-last…" he breathed. Naruto frowned.
"Our first kiss and you call me that?" he said crossly.
"Of course," Sasuke said, smiling, to Naruto's shocked elation, very, very softly. "Don't expect anything less."
And he hesitantly, slowly touched those chapped pink lips for his own. He kissed Naruto, pushing him back into the welcoming earth as the leaves hid their embrace.
And in my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
"Sasuke-bastard…" the words were slow, drowsy, "what are you?"
Sasuke froze. His hand stopped its slow, rhythmic strokes, tangled among soft blond strands.
"I'm Sasuke, dead-last."
Naruto sat up, rubbing at his head.
"Are you?" he said, blinking blue eyes. "…And what else?"
And then Sasuke did a strange thing. He averted his gaze.
"Your lover," he murmured, pulling gently at a dandelion. Long black bangs fell across his eyes.
Naruto blushed a little. "Anything…besides?" Sasuke could hear the determination—the suspicion—in his voice. He rose abruptly.
"Are all your lovers treated to an interrogation?"
They were sharp, rough, like prickling unwelcoming branches. Naruto drew back a little. He stood up as well, wiping the grass from his clothes.
"N-No!" he said loudly, and crossed his arms over his chest. Then, quieter,
"You're my first one… I've never had a girlfriend or a boyfriend."
It was silent. Sasuke felt something well up inside him.
The words were a sigh, a promise. They were a melody unto themselves.
Naruto looked up in time to see Sasuke's eyes. They were so dark, yet, at the same time, not truly so.
"I'm... I'm yours. You're bastard." His smirk wasn't the familiar hard slash.
And as Naruto was enveloped by cool lips and that familiar scent, he thought that he wasn't supposed to hear that, because Sasuke was so quiet and the words were so raw.
You know sometimes words have two meanings
"Sasuke! Oh, fuck, Sasuke!" The words were dry and hoarse as Naruto emerged panting. He ducking gingerly under a tree and entered the clearing. "Sasuke, finally! There you are!"
Sasuke looked up. There he was, lying against that tree. His eyes were soft. His flute remained against his lips as a quiet melody hovered in the air.
"Sasuke!" Naruto cried again, rushing over. "Come on, we have to get out of here! The forest—it's burning! Th-There was an accident, and we didn't know until two late…" He tried to grab at Sasuke's arm, and missed as his voice cracked. "We have to go! Stop playing this—this goddamn sad music and goddamn get up!"
Sasuke remained where he was until the melody whispered away. He rose slowly, brushing at his pants.
"I know, Naruto." Naruto had never seen his eyes so alive. He couldn't stand it.
"Then COME ON!" It was a desperate, futile plea, and he roughly pushed Sasuke back against his tree, kissing him angrily. Sasuke's eyes closed—thank god—and the kiss gradually softened, until it was barely there, a glistening droplet of the morning dew and the faintest whisper of the evening breeze as Naruto pulled away.
"I know, too," he murmured.
He had never seen Sasuke smile like that, either. It almost hurt. "You—You can go, Naruto." His voice was soft, small nearly—nearly broken. But Naruto was smiling, too, wiping at the tears.
Sasuke looked lost. It was an odd sight.
"Play me something?" whispered the blond.
"But the fire—"
Naruto kissed him again. It was unbearably soft and sweet and—and human.
Sasuke sighed. Then, after a heartbeat—a waft of the wind carried a hint of smoke—he raised his flute to his lips. Naruto smiled. Sasuke never repeated his melodies—but this, this was different. Whole. Completely and irrevocably whole. He grabbed hold of Sasuke's shoulders as they melted back. They greeted the welcoming woods once last time. And then they were visible in the cool green twilight only as a faded, lively imprint on the bark.
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind…