Part I

Eleven

He kicked the mulch beneath his feet absently as the kids around him laughed and ran. The wooden bench was cool against his skin from the shade of an oak tree, saving him from the late spring heat the others were playing in. The whole scenario was a laughing stock, really. Middle schoolers-just having entered sixth grade-stopping class in the middle of the day for a 'play break.' But not him, of course. He was too old to play.

No, that wasn't it.

A girl his age giggled from a way toward his right. He didn't spare her a glance. He wasn't too old to play, it was just the kids around him. They didn't know anything. To them a scrape on the knee or a broken arm from the skating rink was the worst imaginable pain. To them the world was safe and slowly coming into their reach as they got older. All they saw was hope and opportunity without any consequence. He didn't want to play with naivety. He didn't have time.

His head ached from keeping it still for so long, but as he leaned his neck to the side, a particular sound reached his ears and it wasn't the release of his joints. It was disparity. A boy was crying out for something…for someone to hear him.

"Please, guys!" His dark eyes trailed slowly toward the sound, finding a blond mop of hair and tanned skin turned toward an enclosed circle of kids. "C'mon, look at me!" He threw a large piece of mulch at their feet. None of them even turned to glance at the boy's plea. They were shutting him out. "Please…" The boy fell on his knees and started crying, but the group just laughed and walked away as if they hadn't seen him at all. "Not again."

He sighed and brushed a strand of black hair from his eyes. They were about to be called in anyway. He might as well get his good deed for the year over with. He stood and nonchalantly made his way over to the wreck of a boy. The shaking figure didn't even acknowledge him as he approached. What a hypocrite. "Oi." No response. "What's your name?"

The shaking stopped momentarily before the golden mop turned upwards to show a face. A scarred face with gorgeous eyes of lonely blue. He knew those eyes. "Naruto," the boy said, giving him a curious glance.

He smirked at the sign of mistrust and held out his hand. "I'm Sasuke." Naruto stared at his hand as if it would burn him-a disgusting, vile thing. That made Sasuke even happier. "We're going to be late." He heard a growl before the hands touched and the ebony-haired boy finally helped his friend up from the dirt.

Naruto: the boy who knew pain.

Seven

Sasuke pouted and swung his legs in and out from under him. The plastic chair at the police station made his butt hurt. He had been there before visiting his father at work, so why couldn't they let him sit in his father's chair? It was fluffy and he could spin around in it until he was sick. It was the least they could do after pulling him out of school.

The boy sighed impatiently as he thought of his missed subtraction test. His grade would drop unless he made it up soon. Then his parents wouldn't be happy and he would be grounded and his brother would tease him and poke him on the head…

"Sasuke?" Young dark eyes looked up to meet their bored twin, only in an older, silver-haired man. "My name is Kakashi. I'm a social worker." Sasuke crinkled his nose in confusion. The man sighed, drooping his uncovered eye to an impossible level. "I help children, like yourself, out of certain situations-like family problems."

Family problems? Sasuke eyed the odd-looking man with distrust. His family was fine. And how did-what was his name, Kakashi?-get his hair up like that? He must have used a lot of crazy glue when his boss wasn't looking.

"Focus Sasuke." Kakashi snapped his fingers, drawing back the boy's attention. "I have to tell you some bad news okay? Listen carefully." The man waited for a nod before continuing. "You're parents died this morning, after you went to school." What? "The evidence-or clues-lead to your brother, Itachi, being the one who killed them. Do you understand?"

Sasuke looked at the man as if he were insane. His parents, dead. Like his goldfish? Do they flush parents down the toilet? No, wait. He never saw that fish again. No…no, no, no. He wanted to see his parents. "I want to see my father!" he demanded, jumping off the chair and standing as a perfect, miniature defiant statue of his father.

Kakashi raised in eyebrow and stared at Sasuke in thought. When he came to a conclusion, he kneeled down to the boy's height and looked him straight on. "Your parents aren't coming back, Sasuke."

The boy started to shake, but bit his tongue in resistance. "What about It-Itachi?" He held up his chin, willing a better answer, but received none.

"They say he is the reason they won't come back," Kakashi said slowly. "You aren't allowed to see him. It's for your safety." Sasuke's eyes lowered and then his head as tears came to his eyes and he finally began to cry. Kakashi almost jumped when he felt the small body lean on him for support. It almost seemed surreal for such a strong boy, no matter how small, to still act like a child.

The moment, of course, didn't last. Kakashi eventually grabbed the boy's hand and stood up, preparing to go. "Someone has volunteered to take care of you until we can find someone suitable. He's going to meet us at my office." Sasuke nodded and rubbed his arm across his sore eyes. He was so confused. Who was going to love him now?

Thirteen

A thin, pale hand slammed down onto the light wood of the table. Sasuke had just arrived to meet Naruto at their favorite diner, a look of pure determination on his face. "Naruto," his bland voice said, "I'm in love."

The blond blinked twice before bursting into laughter. "Sasuke, you hardly love me!" Then he stopped and paled slightly. "Wait, do you-"

"No!" Sasuke cringed and looked down at the floor, letting his black bangs hide his face. "Idiot. I mean…I mean with him."

Naruto's face contorted immediately into an emotion beyond rage. "You can't," the boy growled, "He hurts you. He doesn't even know what love is."

Sasuke's fist clenched. "I have to!" His voice broke and he paused. "If you do it with someone…you love them, right?"

The sentence hung in the air like humidity, weighing down Naruto's heart. The beginnings of a thousand questions ran through his mind, but the only word that escaped his lips was, "What?"

Sasuke refused to look up and lowered his voice. "I was almost asleep and he got on top of me. I didn't even hear him open the door." His fist shook on the table, in anger or despair Naruto couldn't tell. "He wouldn't stop. He just kept touching me and…and I couldn't do anything." He paused, a defeated tone surrounding him. "I couldn't stop him."

Naruto let out a frustrated yell and slammed his fist into the booth wall behind Sasuke. His breaths grew more ragged as salt started to sting at his eyes. "Sasuke," he said, winding his arms tightly around his stiff friend, "believe me, that isn't love."

Seventeen

The warm summer breeze breathed an ounce of life into Sasuke as he walked across the dark parking lot. The only light still shining at the ungodly hour was coming from right ahead of him at Ichiraku's. The diner was silent and still despite the flashing neon light on the door, and Sasuke almost felt guilty interrupting the silence when the bell chimed as he entered.

As usual, the owner wasn't in sight and no customers were in view, so he took the liberty of walking to the payphone without announcing himself. He wanted it to be private, anyway. He slid quarters in expertly and dialed the all-too-familiar number of the person he needed most.

A dial tone. A dial tone. A-click and a groan. "Nn, Hello?"

"Naruto?" Sasuke clutched the receiver tightly, making his knuckles fade.

"Yeah. What time is it…?" He heard his friend shuffle to find the alarm clock, but wasted no time.

"Naruto, you won't believe what he's done."


Author's Blab: This little piece of work is divided into two chapters for the two parts. This was part one, the next will be part two. It's another one to go in my boredom/inspired by a song series. Joy.

This story was inspired by -drumroll-...'Delilah' by the Dresden Dolls.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Naruto series. Simple and Sweet.