Disclaimer: Not mine. Bummer.

Summary: A Twisted Fairytale. A pact with the devil leaves a desperate soldier careening down a path he never imagined. Will he survive to find his happily ever after or lose his soul in the process? SasuNaru

Author's Note: It should be noted that when I started this I thought I'd finish it in a night. Quick little drabble… riiiight… this is just the first half. Still have to edit the rest…

The original story is one of my favorite fairy tales from two of my favorite authors, the Brothers Grimm. "Bearskin" is a story I came across a couple years back when my mother and I were discussing happy endings and how the original tales were normally much darker than what we hear today.

That said… it will be a cold day in hell before I write something that doesn't make me smile while I'm writing it, so, don't worry. Put your tissues away and sit back and enjoy my twisted take on an old classic.

Here's the link to the original… yeah, it's like four pages long.

www . grimmstories . com / en / grimmfairy-tales / bearskin

Warning: OOC abounds… it's a fairytale, people. And the fluffiness factor… kill me now. Oh… and there are boys who like boys who want to show that they like each other by doing stuff… you know… stuff. And no, they are not picking out curtains. You have been warned.

Dirt and Grime

A Twisted Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a handsome soldier by the name of Sasuke Uchiha. He had entered the military at the tender age of sixteen and although he had fought bravely and courageously throughout the war, when the war ended he found himself in rather dire straits. He had no money and when he returned to his home village he discovered that his parents had died in his absence.

Looking for the kindness of his fellow villagers, he found none. They scoffed at him in his fine, bright red uniform and told him to set forth and find his own place and fortune. Left with no alternative, Sasuke took up his shotgun and his sword and left the village entering the thick and gloomy forest.

After several days walk, Sasuke stopped in the middle of a circle of stones and weighed his options. He had no money, no trade besides killing people and ducking at opportune moments and, looking around, absolutely no idea where in the hell he was.

Now, some might wonder, if an Uchiha loses his dignity in the forest where no one can see him, is he still an Uchiha?

Well, the dark haired soldier would answer with a resounding 'hn' before flopping gracefully onto the grass in the middle of the circle of stones and with deep thought and honor consign himself to the ever pleasant death by starvation that was in store for him.

Throwing an arm over his eyes Sasuke was just dosing off, the image of a precious person he had yet to meet teasing at his senses, when he heard a dark chuckle and felt rather than saw the dark shadow fall across his face.


Sasuke felt the shiver run up his spine at the silky smooth voice and removing his arm blinked open his coal black eyes to reveal the trespasser who would dare infringe on this, his eternal sanctuary of starvation and death. Was nothing sacred anymore?

"Hn." Even in his weakened state, the young soldier was still able to pull off a flawless glare, one dark, regal eyebrow arching in irritation.

The well dressed stranger leaned back against one of the circle's boulders, crossing his arms and smirked down on the desolate soldier. He eyed the young man, taking in his creamy pale skin and midnight oil black hair, bangs framing his exquisite face. The soldier moved to standing and the stranger saw that the young man was tall and certainly handsome with a strong build and regal features even for a common born man.

And to think this fine soul would soon belong to him. He had to fake a cough to keep the evil chuckle at bay.

"Your point, sir?" the soldier asked impatiently although it would never be read in his expressionless face, "I was trying to die here and although you aren't impeding that process by offering me food or money or any manner of kind acts, I was so enjoying not having you here."

Sasuke watched as the man brushed none existent dirt from his forest green jacket and pushed back his long, tied back black hair. Two shallow lines trailed down either side of the man's nose, but instead of distracting from his obvious beauty they only made him more mysterious.

"Well, young Sasuke, I wanted to offer you a little… Shall we say… deal?" When Sasuke's black eyes met with the stranger's, he wasn't surprised at all to see that the man's eyes had bled blood red.

"My answer is no," Sasuke said and walked over to a nearby rock where his gun and sword rested, sliding down until his back was against the rock and his long legs crossed in front of him at his ankles. He closed his eyes and continued, his voice nothing short of boredom on ice, "I don't think any deal you offered would be… beneficial… to my salvation and I am hoping to play the harp on a fluffy cloud someday."

"Oh, but this offer puts your salvation solely in your own hands, I assure you. No interference from me, whatsoever."

Sasuke glared up at the smirking stranger, "Sir, I repeat…"

"You may call me Itachi."

Sasuke lowered his head, black bangs covering his face but his mumbled reply still reached the stranger, "You say Itachi, I say the devil…"

"Listen, you weak, useless boy. I will provide you with all the riches of a lifetime, riches that will never run dry for seven years."

Sasuke sighed. Obviously the egotistical bastard wasn't going to quit. "Get to the part where you stand over me cackling darkly and steal my soul." Looking at his watch free wrist, he continued, "I have a date with starvation."

Itachi closed the gap between himself and the soldier in three easy strides and falling back on his hunches until he and the young man were eye level, he grabbed the soldier by his uniform front and forced him to meet his eyes.

"I propose we trade jackets. For seven years you will wear mine and I will wear yours. For seven years you will not be allowed to bathe, cut your hair or nails or take off the jacket and cloak I provide you. If, after the time has passed, you are still alive, we will trade jackets once more and you will never want for money again. Should you die," The handsome devil shrugged carelessly, releasing Sasuke's jacket and made a show of straightening the fabric. He finally looked up, red eyes glinting in the shadows of the forest, and smiled, "Well, at that point, I will cackle evilly and gobble up your worthless little soul."

"I see," Sasuke said and once again weighed his options. Death by starvation with a guaranteed position as a harp player on high or the tiniest little deal with the devil including life, money and a new found aversion to soap.

What to choose… what to choose?

"Hn." Sasuke said and stood, shrugging off his red jacket, holding it out to the practically preening devil before him.

"You can't tell anyone," Itachi continued shedding his own jacket and making the trade. He watched with hungry eyes while Sasuke slipped the jacket on and adjusted the sleeves.

"I can't say I'm fond of the fabric…" the soldier muttered and turned his eyes on the devil when the dark haired man snapped his long pale fingers.

"Oh, and we mustn't forget your cloak. Wouldn't want you to get cold now…" With another snap Itachi produced a dark brown furry mass of skin and tossed it at the narrow eyed soldier.

Shaking the mass out, Sasuke found the cloak to actually be a bearskin. Sighing, realizing he'd already made the deal, he threw the animal skin over his shoulders and stood before the devil.

"Are we done here or do you intend to blind me and take away my first born child?"

With a smirk Itachi scanned the soldier. His beautiful face still shown fresh and clean but the large bear hide already weighed his shoulders down, covering Sasuke's silky black hair and obstructing his tall, handsome figure. It wouldn't take long at all for the dirt and grime to accumulate and turn the handsome young man into nothing more than a monster.

People could be so cruel. Itachi could practically feel the feather soft touch of the soldier's soul in the palms of his hands already.

Sasuke watched the zealous glee shine in Itachi's red eyes and forced himself not to roll his own. It hadn't been one day yet and Sasuke could already see the bastard's triumphant air. He stepped around the power hungry moron and gathered his few belongings. "You mentioned something about money. Lots and lots of it, I recall."

"Hn," the devil mimicked the Uchiha and nodded toward the pockets of the soldier's new green coat. "No matter how many times you stick your hands in the pockets, they will always come out with gold."

Sasuke gave a brisk nod and turned, exiting the circle and making his way back into the world.

"Do have fun!" Itachi yelled and chuckled darkly when the soldier didn't turn but waved his fur covered arm half heartedly before disappearing into the dense forest.

"All in a day's work…" Itachi mumbled and disappeared on the wind.


And so began Sasuke's life as a wanderer. The first year wasn't so bad. Yes, the bear skin tended to raise a few eyebrows and his less than hygienic practices were noticed here and there, but for the most part, he was still human. A weird, bearskin wearing, somewhat smelly human, but he was still human.

Into his second year of the devil's deal Sasuke relied heavily on the fact that his pockets would never empty and paid for the privilege of being seen as a man. Having never been much of a people person to begin with, the isolation from those around him didn't bother him terribly but as time wore on, even with money, he found that he wasn't spending the money for an inn room and a hot meal anymore. Now, his money bought him stale bread and a comfy stay in the outhouse.

One afternoon, in the middle of his third year, Sasuke entered a new village and for preservations sake stuck to the shadows. Rounding the corner of the market place he saw a young man dressed in tan trousers and a soft creamy orange cotton shirt, laced up loosely at his neck. The young man smiled merrily at the people around him receiving warm greetings in return.

Sasuke didn't realize that he had moved closer until he heard the boy's laugh ringing like springtime rain in his ears. Nor did he realize that his heart beat had increased or that his black eyes had softened for the first time in years. Blonde locks fell into soft spikes around the young man's tanned face and crystal blue eyes shone with happiness as he trailed behind two finely dressed women.

As he followed behind, Sasuke saw the boy's female companions gossip and point at the villagers around them, occasionally stopping to ogle and purchase some frivolous gem or item before pressing on, yelling back at the blonde boy.

"Naruto!" The pink haired girl cried out turning around with her pretty gloved hands on her hips, "Stop lagging behind or we will leave you here with all the other riff raff."

The blonde girl beside her giggled obnoxiously and added, "Won't grandfather be happy not to have to worry about you!"

The boy… Naruto… turned and waved, his smile planted firmly on his face but Sasuke saw the exaggerated roll of his eyes before the blonde returned his attention to the vegetable vendor and paid the man's price for the vegetables he placed in a basket he carried.

As the blonde walked near Sasuke's hiding place, he must have seen the dark shadow because he stilled glancing at Sasuke's deformed image and quickly back to his companions. Having seemingly made his decision, Naruto stepped closer to Sasuke who pressed himself further back into the shadows.

"Don't be afraid, sir," Naruto said soothingly reaching a hand up to touch the furry mass. When Sasuke pulled back even further, the blonde allowed his hand to drop but not the gentle smile on his face. Grabbing the money purse on his side, Sasuke watched as Naruto tipped the bag, emptying its contents in one hand while the other grabbed the loaf of bread from his basket.

"It's all I have to offer," the young man said and held out his gifts for Sasuke to take. When Sasuke shook his large furry head, words seeming to die on his lips, Naruto laughed, but his eyes narrowed in warning. Sasuke couldn't help but noticed that his breath hitched at such an open streak of stubbornness. "Don't be rude. I believe that if you have the money to share, it is your responsibility to do so. Take it."

Reaching forward with one dirt incrusted hand, his nails more like claws and the bear skin grimy and smelling, Sasuke took the offering, "Hn."

"Well then," Naruto said stepping back, "that wasn't so bad."


His screeched name caused Naruto to jump back and look around guiltily before screaming, "Whhhhhhaaaatttt? I heard you last time, Sakura! We all did!" His arms waved wildly indicating the scattered villagers in the market place. Sighing, he turned once more to the shadow covered man, squinting to make out his features before frowning when Sasuke pushed back farther into the darkness.

"Good day then," Naruto mumbled and took off after the two retreating girls.

Sasuke stepped partway into the sun and watched the three disappear at the edge of town. He still held the money and bread in his hands and opened his hand wide, letting the gold glitter in the sun.

The blonde young man had been right. How dare Sasuke not share his new found wealth? Wasn't he in need of a hand up when the devil found him? If someone had helped him, shared what they could, would he be standing in the shadows, his skin so dirty and his face so hairy that it was impossible to tell where the cloak ended and he began?

Shaking his head, Sasuke withdrew from the shadows and walked to the vegetable vendor that Naruto had just left. The balding man stood in front of his wilting goods smiling at the passersby but on the other side of his stand two small children held on tightly to his legs, their skin pale and stretched while their large eyes took in everything around them. Without hesitation Sasuke offered the man everything that Naruto had given him and then reached into the pocket of the devil's green jacket and pulled out another handful of gold.

When Sasuke nodded his furry head and turned to leave, he felt a change in weight and looked down to see that the vendor's children were now grasping tightly onto his own legs. The vendor came around from his table and smiled kindly up at Sasuke.

"Sir, I can't possibly take this…"

"I insist," Sasuke growled, surprised to find that his voice was raspy from disuse.

"I must give you something in exchange." The vendor argued and his children nodded their eager heads.

For a moment Sasuke thought and then gently prying the children from his knees said, "I'll have your prayers that I stay alive for another three and a half years. That is all I will accept."

With a quirk of his eyebrow the vendor nodded slowly and Sasuke left the village. From then on, in every village that Sasuke visited, the young soldier gave away his endless fortune to those in need asking for nothing more than their prayers for his survival.

And at night, when images of a blonde haired angel with sky blue eyes filled his dreams, he knew that survival was all that he truly desired because he finally had something besides a soldier's pitiful soul to live for.


At the end of his fifth year, Sasuke found himself once more at the village that hunted his nightmares and colored his dreams. He had told himself that he wouldn't come back until he had finished this game he played with the devil, but as the dirt caked on his body, encasing him until he thought he might suffocate and the sneers and jeers of disgust hung around him as heavy as his own smell, Sasuke would give anything to see the young blonde just once more. To hear Naruto's musical laugh and see his smile would be like the cleansing his body was denied but that his soul craved.

He arrived late and after being physically removed from the inn, bribed the innkeeper with a hand full of gold to allow him to sleep in the outhouse. Sasuke had hoped for the barn but the helpful ass of a keeper had assured Sasuke that even the horses and pigs wouldn't be able to tolerate him.

Pulling the cursed bearskin around his body, Sasuke leaned his tired head back against the wall and closed his eyes, forcing himself to recall every second he had spent with Naruto all those years ago.

He was pulled from his thoughts by a commotion outside of his 'bedroom'. Pushing the door open, he saw a white haired old man tossed out the back of the inn. The indignant man stood and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Oh god… what will I do now?"

Sasuke watched the old man for a moment deciding the man must be down on his luck to be thrown out of the inn. Sasuke slowly approached the old man who still muttered angrily to himself and touched him lightly on the shoulder. The man shifted to see who had touched him and in a move Sasuke was very familiar with, jumped back as though Sasuke were the devil himself. The notion brought a sad smirk to Sasuke's filthy face. If only they knew…

After a moment, where Sasuke raised his arms in a placating manner that apparently appeared quite threatening when one is covered in fur and dirt with long fingernails that eerily resembled claws, Sasuke was able to talk the frightened man into believing that he was, indeed, human. By the end, the dark hair man had grit his teeth down to near nothing fighting the urge to shake the old man silly or just walk away.

He learned that the man's name was Jiraiya and he was staying the night in town after having a rather disappointing meeting with his accountant. Somehow his investments in the next country had fallen through leaving the old man virtually penniless. Now, he didn't have the money to pay for his stay at the inn, much less his home, and would be arrested, leaving his three grandchildren alone and defenseless in the world.

Sasuke solemnly patted Jiraiya on the shoulder, forcing himself to ignore the flinch. He offered to pay Jiraiya's bill at the inn, as well as, give him money so that he and his family wouldn't be evicted from their home and they might find a way back on their feet.

Jiraiya thanked Sasuke and offered him a place to sleep and eat at his house. On the way home, Jiraiya explained that the debt he owed Sasuke was so great that surely Sasuke would considered entering into a marriage contract with one of his three grandchildren. At the skeptical look the furry man gave, Jiraiya laughed heartily and assured Sasuke that all of his grandchildren, upon hearing of Sasuke's generosity, would be more than happy to marry such a fine, albeit eccentric, gentleman.

Sasuke rolled his eyes at the old man's ridiculous faith in his grandchildren but continued on. The promise of a hot meal and a warm bed too precious to give up even with the harsh rejection he would face once morning came.


Sasuke looked down amazed to see that his arms and legs were his own. Strong and pale… furless. He reached up and touched his face feeling nothing but his bare cheekbones and chin. Curling his fingers he smiled when his now blunt fingernails merely tickled as they trailed down his smooth skin.

A laugh in the distance caught his attention and he watched Naruto appear over the crest of the nearby hill, the wind catching his golden hair, tossing it around his faintly scarred cheeks and blowing his white shirt up exposing slivers of his toned torso.

When Naruto reached his side, the young boy held out his hand, opening his mouth to say what Sasuke knew would be his name… oh god, how he longed to hear his name fall from Naruto's lips, but then a drop of water fell on his outreached hand. Naruto's mouth snapped shut and they both looked down expecting to see a rain drop slide off of Sasuke's wrist.

It wasn't rain… it was mud and, panicked, Sasuke started speaking quickly, assuring Naruto that it was okay but the drops came faster and faster, running down his hair and neck, filling his nose and mouth even as Naruto yanked his hand away and screamed…

Sasuke sat up with a start, blinking rapidly to clear his sleep clogged mind and nearly jumped out of the bed when he heard a startled yell at his side.

"Holy hell!" The voice hollered, "I was just trying to rinse you off!"

"No!" Sasuke said this time sliding off the bed and facing his enemy, the smell of soap and water actually burning his nostrils. He was not expecting to see the object of his dreams and affections standing only three feet from him with a damp cloth clutched in his fingers.

"What are you doing here?" Sasuke asked and nearly flinched when blue eyes turned hard at his cold, condensing tone.

"Well, first off, bastard, I live here." Naruto began and tossed the cloth carelessly back into a soapy bowl, water slouching over the sides. "My grandfather told me that you were our guest and that I should assist you this morning. Upon entering your room, I could only assume that by 'assist' he meant douse our honored guest in soap and water." Blue eyes travelled up and down Sasuke's body, taking in his grubby appearance, before a half smile came to the young man's face. "Rinse and repeat as needed."

Sasuke fingers curled into fists and his mind warred against itself. One part delighted to hear Naruto's voice, the other irate at his treatment.

"I don't bathe."

Naruto actually snorted, "You don't say?"

Sasuke growled stepping forward and watched as Naruto's eyes became cautious but noticed immediately that Naruto didn't flinch away.

"So get that," Sasuke pointed at the bowl, "away from me immediately, dobe."

And just like that, the caution was gone. "WHAT?! What did you call me, you condescending, stuck up bastard from…"

"BRAT!" the holler came from the door and both men turned to see Jiraiya in the doorway. "I thought I asked you to assist our guest, not argue and abuse the poor man's ears so early in the morning."

Naruto glared angrily at Sasuke, sticking out his tongue before he turned to glare to his grandfather, "Yes, and I thought you said we had a guest upstairs, not a cold prick."

Jiraiya cuffed Naruto around his ears and shoved him out of the room. "We'll see you at breakfast then?" the old man asked and left before he could get the answer or see the genuine smile that came to Sasuke's face.

Naruto had insulted him, yelled at him and stuck out his tongue, but not once did he mention what Sasuke looked like.


Taking a moment to collect himself, which consisted of a half hearted pat down of his hopelessly tangled and dirt matted hair, Sasuke made his way to the breakfast room. From the hallway, he could hear the noises the small family made over the gentle tinkering of silverware on china.

Of course, as the dark haired man had predicted, when he appeared in the doorway all conversation stopped. The young soldier watched as the blonde haired girl stood slowly, fear paling her already white skin before she bolted from the room, knocking over her chair in the process before disappearing around the corner in a flash.

Sasuke mentally snorted. Customary Reaction Number One… run… run and hide as fast as you can.

"Ino!" Jiraiya called out but before he could extend his apologies the pink haired girl beside him stood as well. Once again Sasuke was reminded of the first time he had seen the siblings when she turned to him, hands on hips.

"Out! Out, I say! We will not tolerate wild beasts at our breakfast table. Leave now or I will be forced to insist that the servants use any means necessary to make you."

And there was Customary Reaction Number Two… pitch forks, anyone?

"Sakura! Please sit down. You must apologize. This gentleman is my guest and our savior."

Sakura turned her green eyes to stare disbelievingly at her grandfather, "Oh, you must be joking." She pointed at Sasuke without facing him, "This thing is our savior? What could he have possibly done? He is dirty, vulgar and atrocious on every level imaginable and should be hunted down and killed…"

"Sakura! That is enough. If you cannot conduct yourself as the lady that you are, you may leave." Jiraiya growled.

Sasuke stood still as Sakura huffed, stomping her foot and throwing down her napkin. "With pleasure," she mumbled and made a show of holding her lacy pink handkerchief to her nose as she passed him by.

Sasuke closed his eyes for just a moment before shifting his gaze to the only remaining sibling. Naruto sat with his elbows on the table, his head held in his hand while he stared at the fur covered man. His blue eyes were dark as he seemed to look straight through the dirt and the grime and Sasuke had to quell the urge to fidget. With a sigh, the blonde turned his head back toward his meal and calmly gathered up his forgotten utensils.

"Well, come sit down," Naruto said and turned narrowed eyes toward his grandfather once more, "I hope you know that I will not be waiting for the 'ladies' return before I start eating."

Jiraiya looked up, mouth full of toast and eggs and mumbled some reply that might have been the word 'brat' and waved his hand flippantly, his attention back on his notepad where he scribbled feverishly.

Sasuke sat at the end of the table, away from Naruto and his grandfather, and began to load his plate with bacon, toast and eggs. He knew that etiquette dictated that he take his time and chew slowly but it had been such a long time since he had such a delicious meal. Two full plates and three glasses of orange juice later Sasuke paused to look up and see blue eyes staring at him.

"If you have so much money, bastard," Naruto ignored the grumbled reprimand that Jiraiya threw his way as the old man exited the breakfast room, "why do you eat like this is the first real meal you've had?"

Sasuke leaned back into his chair eyeing the blonde who continued to eat his toast. "Are you stupid, dobe?"

The resulting sputter was very satisfying for the young soldier.

"Or perhaps you are blind…" For a moment Sasuke really entertained the thought. How else could the young man stomach him when no one else could? But, he knew those blue eyes saw more than anyone else had and shoved the thought aside. Without thought, his voice fell several degrees in temperature, "As your lovely sister pointed out, I am dirty and repulsive on every level imaginable…"

"Not true," Naruto said tossing the uneaten toast onto his plate and wiping his hands off on his napkin.

Sasuke felt his temper rise. He knew what he looked like! Dammit, he knew what he was and how much longer he was going to have to live in this disgusting shell. No matter how many times he told himself that 'he' wasn't the dirt, 'he' wasn't the smell and 'he' wasn't the bearskin, no matter how many times he told himself that what other people thought did not affect him, god dammit, it DID. And here was this boy… this angel in his nightmares… telling him that the one truth he had brutally learned from this experience was false. It was nearly unbearable.

Black eyes sharp with anger turned onto the blonde man, pinning him to his seat. "You have no fucking idea what you're talking about. You sit there making judgments…"

"You gave everything I offered you that day to the vegetable vendor. He had enough to feed his family and make it through another winter." Naruto said his voice calm and clear.

Sasuke's dark eyes widened momentary at the knowledge that Naruto also remembered their encounter. "That means nothing… I have all the money in the world. I didn't need what you offered me. In retrospect," Sasuke said a smirk coming to his face, "I should have given the money to you and your family. Perhaps you would have avoided the embarrassing situation you find yourself in today."

Sasuke immediately regretted his words when Naruto's face paled and he fell back into his chair like he'd been slapped. "I…"

"You," Naruto hissed rising slowly and gently pushing his chair back, "Should close your mouth. Obviously, I was mistaken." Sasuke opened his mouth once more but Naruto cut him off, "And the dirtiest, filthiest, most disgusting thing about you, bastard, is your manners."

Blue eyes flashed and Sasuke struggled to decipher the emotion before Naruto turned on his heel and walked angrily out of the room.


Sasuke excused himself to his room after that. Not that anyone knew. The ladies of the house remained scarce, and, for that, Sasuke wasn't complaining, while Jiraiya locked himself into his study. As Sasuke walked by the closed doors, he heard the old man giggling and quickened his steps.

Entering his room he took several steps until he stood in front of the small vanity and wash bowl. He saw that no water had been left for him and imagined Naruto must have had someone remove it. Sitting carefully on the white wicker stool, he finally stared at this reflection.

What he saw made vomit race up his throat and his dirt black fingers fisted the sides of the wash bowl while he sicked up the meal he'd happily eaten an hour before. Wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, his black eyes lifted once more.

His face, which at one time he had cursed for its handsomeness and beauty, was black, either from hair or mud. The hair was matted and coarse. He was appalled to see that the bearskin really did blend in perfectly with his hair's natural coloring and a gentle tug on his 'cloak's' hood confirmed his fear that his own hair had grown in and around that of the dead animals.

Lifting his hands he saw more disgusting dirt and his stomach twisted again thinking that he had eaten with these hands. His nails were long and chipped, dirt imbedded so deeply under the nail that he could feel the nail pulling painfully away from the nail bed.

"Oh my god," he whispered. He was horrifying, morbid, he deserved to die… he wanted to die. The images swirled around his head until he felt faint, dizziness making him fall off the chair and onto his knees and, just as the darkness flitted like a blessing at the edge of his senses, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"What happened?" Naruto said and fell to his knees next to the trembling man. His eyes took in the rings of red around the wild man's eyes and his nose wrinkled at the acidic smell of vomit. "Do you need a doctor? Let's get you to bed…" Naruto wrapped his arms around the furry body and the man pushed him away violently, both falling back onto their butts, glaring warily at one another.

"Why?" the man demanded, "Why aren't you scared? Disgusted?"

Naruto shrugged and shifted back until he rested against the far wall, his knees wrapped in his arms. He watched while the wild looking man rested his back against the bed, his head falling against it, his exhaustion clear in the way his shoulders shagged.

"I…" Naruto weighed his words, "I have seen flowers that attract insects with their beauty and then devour them whole and I've seen the plainest flower stand sturdy and strong. I have seen people so beautiful they hurt your heart to behold and watched them attack each other like hyenas and… I have seen you." Naruto offered a small smile, "You who are belittled and spat on but still helped a vegetable vendor. You who are treated less than a dog and still offered service to my grandfather in our time of need."

The man stared at him and Naruto thought for sure that he was going to be sucked into the depthless black pools. Suddenly, Naruto didn't see the dirt and he didn't see the animal skin instead he saw the pain, the uncertainty and something deeper, hidden and sacred… something that made his breath catch painfully and he forced his eyes to break contact.

"That's not to say that you aren't a bastard." Naruto mumbled and then felt his heart screech to an abrupt halt when the bearskin man chuckled. The sound was like a crystal bell, sharp, light and carefree. Beautiful.

"You are probably right there, although in recent years my inner bastard has been buried deep."

Naruto met the man's eyes once more and smiled, "Lucky me that I am the one that digs it up." He watched as the black eyes shuddered closed and the wild mop of a head bobbed against the filthy green jacket before jerking up. "Hey, let's get you to bed. Dinner isn't for several more hours. I imagine you could use the sleep."


Naruto smirked and jumped up to help him into bed, pulling back the covers and yanking off the old, worn boots. After tucking the man in, Naruto looked him over and brushed a lock of greasy, stiff dark hair from his blackened face.

"Why don't you bathe?" he whispered.

The man's nose wrinkled, "Hmmm… smug, evil, asshole…"

Naruto's forehead wrinkled in confusion and he started when he found himself trapped once again in midnight depths, "What is your name?" The sound of his voice was so quiet Naruto barely heard it with his own ears.

With a heavy sigh the black eyes closed again and Naruto checked the blankets once more before leaving the room.

"It's Sasuke…"

Naruto gripped the frame of the door, his heart pounding in his chest painfully until his hand came up in a futile attempt to calm it.

And from that moment on, Naruto's heart beat to the rhythm of one word:



Sasuke awoke sometime later and lay awake with his eyes closed. He tried to memorize the feeling of Naruto's fingers in his hair and the warm whisper of his voice. Sitting up abruptly, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and put his head in his hands. He couldn't stay here much longer. The whole trip to this village was about getting a glimpse of Naruto, not staying in his house, eating at his table and learning that Naruto was everything he had hoped for.

Fuck… he had to make it until the end of the seven years. He would come back and claim Naruto as his own when he could offer himself as the man he really was… and the devil's promise of 'endless wealth' would be useful as well.

Yanking on his boots, Sasuke walked over to the large open window, the white curtains flapping gently in the wind making Sasuke think of angel wings. Leaning against the window frame, he had a clear view of the barn and back yard.

He heard voices to his left and watched the barn doors swing open slowly revealing Jiraiya and… well, shit. Sasuke swallowed and even if God himself had asked for Sasuke's attention he wouldn't have been able to pull his eyes away from the sight of Naruto leading a large, honey colored horse out of the barn.

He wore scuffed black leather boots that came up mid calf with tight tan riding pants that hugged his legs giving Sasuke a very good view of his thighs and ass. That, in and of itself, made Sasuke's mouth dry, but then his eyes trailed up to the bare muscular chest and he knew that the only thing that kept him standing was his death grip on the window's seal. Tan skin glistened in the sun and Sasuke watched captivated while Naruto used the white shirt in his hand to wipe the sweat from his neck and chest before tossing it at Jiraiya.

Words, Sasuke's befuddled mind wouldn't have been able to make out if he were standing right next to them, were spoken and Naruto moved to the horse's side swiftly swinging up into the saddle. With a mock salute to his grandfather, Naruto urged the horse into a steady gallop and entered the fenced in corral.

Stepping back from the window, Sasuke closed his eyes not surprised at all when the image of Naruto bent forward over the neck of the horse as his back muscles rippled was branded onto the back of his eyelids.

Walking quickly to the door Sasuke decided it would be remiss of him not to go offer his expertise on horses. He was a soldier after all.


Naruto leaned forward, his bare chest brushing against the horse's cream colored mane and whispered cooing sounds as his heels dug into the horse's flank urging her to speed up. Naruto's mind was spinning, racing faster that he could have imagined possible and he fleetingly hoped that maybe he and Meg could out run his thoughts. The effort, as predicted, was futile.

He had been mucking out the horse stalls when his grandfather had found him late in the morning after his discussion with Sasuke. Apparently the old man had been trying to get his attention for sometime because the power behind the hand that slapped the back of his head sent him toppling head first into a hay stack.

"What the hell?!" Naruto sputtered and sent his darkest glare up at white haired man. The horse in the stale over gave a high pitched whinny at the sound and his front hoof worried the dirt floor nervously.

"I haven't seen you thinking that hard in a long time," Jiraiya said and stepped forward, running a calming hand down the black horse's neck before leaning against the low fence.

Naruto brushed off his pants as he stood, not that it helped all that much, and approached the agitated horse as well, whispering soothing words.

"I don't know how you haven't gotten kicked in the head yet, brat," Jiraiya chuckled, "You are a ball of unpredictable twitches and annoying sounds. Horses normally don't like that."

Naruto smiled as the big black head nuzzled the side of his face, "They know I love them."

Jiraiya nodded before his face became more serious than his grandson had seen in a long time and Naruto gently pushed the horse away, "What?"

"We almost lost everything, Naruto. This house, the horses… everything. If it weren't for that gentleman upstairs…"

"Sasuke. His name is Sasuke." Naruto said absently thinking about how lucky they were. Everything gone… He didn't see the curious look on his grandfather's face and when he looked up, it was gone.

"Naruto," Jiraiya said softly, "I promised him the hand of one of my grandchildren."

Blue eyes flashed for a moment and unconsciously Naruto's head turned toward the house where he knew Sasuke lay asleep.

"Who does he want… that is to say, um… what?" Naruto's face flushed crimson and he yanked off his thin white cotton shirt, suddenly too hot in the barn.

"He saved our asses, kid, and I don't think he's a bad man." Jiraiya said his face impassive but all the while he let his thoughts finally relax. He wasn't going to have to 'force' anyone into anything, which had been a very real concern this morning when he watched the different reactions at breakfast.

Naruto scoffed, running an angry hand through his straw ridden hair, and walked passed his grandfather, "Of course, he's not a bad man. We owe him our lives if what you told me this morning was true. Do the girls know?"

"And here I thought you were thinking," Jiraiya said shaking his head, "No, I will bring up the topic tonight at dinner."

Naruto clutched his shirt in a tight grip, turning his knuckles white. He made his way to Meg's stale, opening the gate and patting her gently on the neck before leading her toward the large doors.

Jiraiya walked ahead and pushed the red wooden doors open, Naruto close behind him. He could feel Naruto's unrest and from Meg's whines, he knew she did as well. When they were in the middle of the yard he turned to his grandson and smirked, "There you go again… thinking."

Naruto tilted his head, his blue eyes clouded with… apprehension? Insecurity? Jiraiya wasn't sure and then the boy opened his mouth.

"Did he say who he wanted?" Had the old man not been listening he wouldn't have heard the question over the barnyard sounds. Naruto didn't meet his eyes and used his shirt to wipe away the sweat on his neck.

"No, he did not," Jiraiya said and smirked, "but I don't think he's an idiot either."

"What does that mean?" Naruto said and when Jiraiya shrugged Naruto tossed his soiled shirt at his face.

"I should think his choice is clear." Jiraiya said before he turned to walk away.

And now, as the wind rushed passed his ears, Naruto tried to decide at what exact moment his life had changed so completely. Whether Sasuke choose him or not, he knew that neither of his sisters would have anything to do with the man. Even if Naruto knew nothing about their savior, had his grandfather asked, he would willingly wed the person responsible for saving them. But, he did know him… or at least some of him and, god… when he closed his eyes and recalled Sasuke's voice or that look in the man's coal black eyes his heart hurt, a sharp, constant pain that made Naruto want to run back into the house to make sure that Sasuke was okay, still here… still his.

Well, damn. How did that happen? Naruto's grip tightened on the reigns and he squeezed his eyes shut. He had fallen in love with a man in a monster's body. Dirty, repulsive… brilliant, beautiful… vulgar, disgusting… intelligent, compassionate…

In his mind's turmoil, Naruto didn't realize that Meg had reared up until her frightened scream filled his ears and he felt his body fall helplessly toward the ground. As the pain of impact filled his senses, he heard another cry.



Sasuke watched horrified as the horse reared up at the sight of him. He was so stupid. Of course the horse would be frightened. As he vaulted over the low fence, the horse ran in the opposite direction and Sasuke allowed a self deprecating smirk to form on his face. The inn keeper had been right… even animals wouldn't tolerate him.

It had rained heavily the night before and Sasuke felt his boots suction into the mud covered ground as he ran. Just as he reached Naruto he slid to his knees and splashed mud over the prone young man's pants and chest. He kneeled at his side, fear gripping his chest and slowly moved his hand over Naruto's chest, hoping to feel a movement. He leaned his head down to listen for the shallow breaths when he was suddenly shoved away, a startled yell filling the air and wide blue eyes looked at him.

Naruto was scared… of him. That thought alone would have brought Sasuke to his knees but instead he just pushed away and stood slowly, head bowed.

"No, wait, you bastard," Naruto said and lurched forward onto his knees to grab Sasuke's wrist. The movement caused the mud covered blonde to groan and clutch his middle, his eyes squeezing shut. "Oh… owwww… that hurt."

Sasuke stilled, Naruto's free hand still warm and tight around his wrist. "Don't move, dumbass. And let go of my wrist. I'll send help." He tugged firmly on his wrist, but not with enough force to jar the injured man.

Blue eyes opened once more and Sasuke watched while he took several slow, steady breaths, "Look, I wasn't scared."

Black eyes narrowed but the blonde pushed on. "Hell, you could have been a stunningly handsome pale skinned man with an arrogant smirk and perfect hair and had you been leaning over me like that as I opened my eyes, I would have been sca… fright… startled." Naruto smiled brightly.

Sasuke tugged again and this time Naruto released his hold and whispered, "Please, Sasuke."

Sasuke's eyes widened and he felt his heart rate double, "How do you know my name?"

Naruto fell back onto his backside, pain flashing through his eyes. Sasuke wanted to curse. The blonde looked up at him and smiled, "You told me this morning before you went to sleep."

Suddenly, a dirty tan hand was thrust in his direction and Sasuke simply looked at it.

"Well?" Naruto asked aggravation coloring his voice, "Are you going to help me up?"

Sasuke stepped forward and extended his arm when he caught a glimpse of his mud splattered hand and pulled it back under his cloak.

"Dammit, bastard," Naruto hissed, "Look at me." Naruto slapped the ground, spraying mud and water over Sasuke's front, "I said, look at me!" Finally Sasuke lifted his eyes from his hand and met cold blue. "I am sitting in a fucking mud puddle." More mud flung in Sasuke's direction and Sasuke released a growl. "Not only is it a mud puddle, but it's a mud puddle in the middle of a horse corral. Do you know what horses do in horse corrals, Sasuke?" Sasuke's lips thinned in relation to how fast Naruto's arms moved as he got himself wound up, mud and water flying. "I'll tell you, they shit. That's right, I'm fucking sitting in a puddle of mud and shit and I hurt like I fell off a horse, which I DID, and you think your stupid dirt covered hand is going to bother me? Make me dirtier? Blemish me in some way? Give me your bloody hand!"

Sasuke reached forward and yanked the ranting idiot to his feet. A pained yelp filled the air and Naruto toppled forward, gripping Sasuke's soiled shirt front, his face pressed against the taller man's chest while his breathing became harsh. Naruto gave an audible whimper of relief when Sasuke's arms wrapped around him gently and pulled him soundly against his chest, taking some of the pressure off his legs and back.

"Thanks," Naruto whispered into his chest and Sasuke closed his eyes hoping that Naruto wouldn't be able to hear his heart thumping wildly against his ribcage. He felt Naruto shift against him and suddenly he was looking into curious blue eyes, Naruto's head tilted slightly to the side while he considered something only he could see.

A tentative hand came up slowly, twisting its way passed Sasuke's arms, and tenderly ran over the matted bear skin cloak that clung to Sasuke's head. "Whatever this is…" Naruto spoke softly, "is killing you."

Sasuke resisted the urge to shove Naruto away because he didn't want to hurt him anymore than he already had.

"I have to leave." Sasuke said and Naruto looked at him, hurt swirling in his eyes, and Sasuke was certain it wasn't just from his fall.

"Why are you like this?" Naruto asked for a second time that day but this time his eyes were hard and determined.

Sasuke sighed, his breath causing the few dry strands of hair still left on Naruto's head to brush against his forehead, "I can't tell you, Naruto."

Blue eyes drifted shut, "Why?"

Sasuke finally pushed Naruto away but stopped when he found that Naruto's fingers were still curled tightly around the cursed green jacket.

"Let me go, dobe." His voice was hard and Naruto still hadn't opened his eyes. Did he not want to see him up so closely? Well then he should leave him alone. No one was forcing him to stay! "I said let go." His voice was now a growl and the mud covered blonde head before him shook side to side.

"No, I won't." Blonde lashes blinked and Sasuke was spellbound by the softness in Naruto's eyes. Like a light had been turned on, just for him and before he knew it, Naruto pushed up and pressed pink lips against his own.

Black eyes widened comically before he yanked his head to the side, "No, what are you doing? I am disgust…"

"Shut up," Naruto said and once more pink lips were against his own, soft and asking. Sasuke felt the blonde pull away slightly, so that he could fell the boy's breaths against his mouth as he spoke, "I am just as dirty as you. Mud everywhere… we are the same, you and I, so just this once, Sasuke…" Sasuke leaned in and Naruto finished the sentence against his mouth, "Please."

Sasuke's hand came up from Naruto's waist and trailed over the smaller man's sides before one hand wrapped gently around the back of Naruto's neck and the other twisted in mud covered blonde hair. Sasuke trailed his tongue over Naruto's lips and tasted the mud and dirt before the lips parted and his searching tongue met Naruto's. They twirled slowly around each other, tasting each other before a moan escaped Naruto's mouth and Sasuke groaned and sucked Naruto's tongue into his own mouth.

He felt Naruto's hands slide down his chest and fingers splayed across his tight abdomen before running around his sides and wrapping around his back, forcing their bodies closer together.

"Oh fuck…" Sasuke said breaking the kiss and without conscious thought to anything else pulled Naruto's head to the side and kissed and nipped at the young man's pulse point, tasting mud and something purely Naruto before the blonde's knees gave out.

"Oh god… Sasuke!" The name. His name. He had dreamt about hearing Naruto call his name out like that, asking for him, begging for him… needing him and now that he had, it felt like a bucket of cold water thrown over his head.

He shoved Naruto away, "Enough."

Naruto staggered and Sasuke watched as he brought an arm around his middle, hugging his bruised ribs. He had closed his eyes again, but the muddy head nodded. With a heavy sigh, blue eyes opened once more and a painfully forced smile came to his lips.

"Right, well, that was interesting. Let's head back," Naruto nodded toward the gate and started walking.

Sasuke followed at a distance, paying close attention to the blonde's pained winces and sharp breaths, noting the already bluish purple bruises forming on the idiot's bare back. When they got closer to the barn, a stable hand ran out to greet them and Naruto gave orders for him to fetch Meg and bring her back.

"Sasuke," Naruto said finally breaking their silence as they reached the steps into the house, "Stay for dinner. That's all I ask."

Sasuke gave a curt nod and grasped the boy's elbow taking some of his weight as they climbed the stairs. When they reached the door, Naruto turned a full wattage smile up at Sasuke. "Care to share a bath? I don't know about you, but I could sure use one."

Sasuke stared, his stoic expression making it clear that he was not amused even through the blackened dirt.

"That's a no, then?" and the blonde laughed as he entered the house.


Dinner that night was a quiet affair. Jiraiya had spoken with his granddaughters about their earlier behavior toward their guest and spent quality time making it clear in no uncertain terms that it shouldn't happen again.

Sasuke, once again out of respect to the family, sat at the far end of the table. He watched as Ino pushed her food around but kept a suspicious eye on him. Turning his dark gaze to the pink haired sister he watched while Sakura smiled brightly, carrying on lively conversation with her grandfather, but whenever the old man's attention turned, she shot Sasuke a scathing glare of disgust.

But this was neither here nor there to Sasuke who truthfully only had eyes for the last sibling at the table. Naruto nodded in his direction, a smile on his face.

"You must move around a lot, bastard. Tell us about where you've been. I've never left the…"

"Aside from the outhouses and pig pins, of course," Sakura added her voice the pinnacle of courteousness. She took a slow sip of red wine. "Not really polite discussion for the dinner table, you know."

Sasuke opened his mouth to respond when he was stopped by blue eyes flashing in anger. Turning his blonde head, Naruto smiled sweetly at the smirking girl. "Tell me, Sakura, are you enjoying your soup?"

Sakura blinked for a moment, aware that she had garnered her brother's ire and cautious for what he might do next.

"Yes, brother."

"Oh good." The obnoxious smile nearly split his face. "Have mine."

In a move too fast to avoid, Sakura found a bowl of creamed asparagus soup turned upside down on her head and dripping off her hair and onto her light pink dress. Her angry sputtering failed to cover up Ino's gasp or her grandfather's half hearted attempt to disguise his amused chuckle. Sasuke didn't even try to hide his snort.

Naruto leaned back into his chair, smugly surveying his work, "Now, I believe you, too, will fit in perfectly in the pig pin. Wilbur has always been particularly fond of asparagus."

"Naruto, you little…" Sakura growled but she was stopped from retaliating by her grandfather's hand on her arm.

Jiraiya cleared his throat and pulled his hand back. "Ewww…" he said feeling the cold, green soup on his fingers and wiped it off with his napkin.

"I have no idea where I went wrong with you brats," the white haired man grumbled under his breath before turning a huge smile to Sasuke. "Two days ago we were moments away from being homeless but because of this young man we are secure once more. When he offered his assistance I knew I had nothing to replay him but a deed of this magnitude required something more than a simple thank you and I offered him…" Jiraiya continued but the words were too low and muddled to make out.

Sakura's green eyes narrowed, soup momentarily forgotten, "You offered what, exactly, grandfather?"

The robust man chuckled, a blush coming to his cheeks and a hand rubbed the back of his head. "I told Sasuke that once you all knew what he had done for us that you would all willingly offer yourselves in marriage to our savior."

Now, in situations like this, there is one of two ways that information of that magnitude will be taken. The first is an eerie hush that falls over the room, as time itself seems to slow down and a wind from seemingly nowhere blows a single tumble weed through the room. The second possible outcome is, well, quite honestly, more like this…

"What! Are you insane?!" Sakura screeched slamming her hands on the table before her chair overturned behind her as she bolted out of it.

Ino stood as well, choking on her soup and Sasuke was pleasantly surprised that she was no longer scared of him and instead glared at him pointing in disbelief while she tried to suck air into her coughing lungs.

"Girls!" Jiraiya shouted running a hand over his face. "I see there may have been some 'miscalculation' on my part…"

"Filthy, disgusting, vulgar monster… no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Can he even speak? I'm amazed that anyone was able to stomach him long enough to teach him to sit up straight and use a fork. God, that his mother didn't drown him…"

"My lady." And so fell the aforementioned hush. The voice was quiet, distinguished and cold. Sakura and Ino slowly turned their heads to look at the dark huddled shape of the man they were discussing. "Of course, I am capable of speaking," Black eyes flashed with something that made Sakura and Ino swallow thickly.

Sasuke had had more than enough of this. He had told Jiraiya that this would happen and couldn't believe that he had remained long enough to have to sit through it. Unable to stop himself his black eyes drifted to Naruto and saw that once again the blonde had his face turned in his direction but his eyes were shut. Why? Sasuke wondered, he had thought that Naruto wasn't bothered because this afternoon… but even he refused to look…

A shifting of skirts yanked him back to the situation at hand, "When your esteemed grandfather was in need I offered my assistance without thought of reward. I had learned this lesson several years before from the most compassionate young man I have ever met." Sasuke saw a gentle smile come to Naruto's mouth, but his eyes did not open, "When I told him I wanted nothing in return, he assured me that his generous and caring grandchildren would look passed this," Sasuke's held his arms out wide and for a moment stood to his true height, the bearskin doing nothing to weigh him down. Black eyes locked and held the girls in place while his deceptively calm voice hit them in waves with the force of a hurricane behind them. Sasuke scoffed, "I knew what I would encounter once I arrived. Obviously, I was right and he was wrong. I will waste no more of your time. Thank you for your kindness," the word came out as a sneer, but his eyes softened slightly when they met Jiraiya's, "Good day."

Sasuke turned only to be stopped by a hand to his shoulder.

"I'll do it, bastard." Sasuke looked down at the hand and then up into vibrant sapphire eyes. They were open, seeing only him and Sasuke would have willingly drowned in their depths.


Naruto had been moments from doing more than dumping soup on his sister when Sasuke spoke. It's not that Naruto hadn't heard the sound before, he'd actually heard the smooth deep tenor, dark with want and need, moaning, sending shivers down his spine, but that's not the point. Dammit.

Naruto shook his head slightly to bring himself back to now and he felt his eyes slide shut. Sasuke's voice was the single most beautiful thing he had ever heard and it didn't matter what he said or how he said it, Naruto felt it wrap around him and pull him close.

"… I will waste no more of your time…"

Naruto's eyes snapped open. Wait, what? He watched Sasuke nod to his grandfather and then turn toward the door. In a heartbeat he was out of his seat, one of his hands on Sasuke's shoulder. He felt the man tense under his makeshift cloak and black eyes locked with his own.

"I'll do it, bastard," he whispered and had the satisfaction of watching black eyes widened.

After several moments Sasuke's eyes closed off once more, becoming cold and dark just like the rest of him, but Naruto saw one of his hands reach forward, brushing along the outside of his own tan hand. "Dobe, you can't possibly want…"

"Oh my god, Naruto!"

The hand jerked back and Naruto's fisted at his sides. Sasuke shifted beside him and Naruto sent a warning look that said in no uncertain terms that Sasuke was to remain where he stood before giving his attention to his sister.

"What are you doing?" Sakura sneered.

Ino finally found her own voice, "I told you I saw them," she spit out at her sister. "I knew this was going to happen. Naruto stood there, half naked and let that thing touch him."

"Is this true, Naruto?" Sakura asked her face already twisting in disgust.

Ino gave a high pitched laugh, "You are so stupid, forehead… look at his neck."

Without conscious thought Naruto's hand went to his neck and he winced slightly at the bruise there. A quick glare at the taller man beside him found Sasuke stoic as ever but Naruto was sure he read a flash of smugness in coal black eyes.

"What I do is none of your concern," Naruto began his voice low and even.

"It is if you think for a moment that we are going to let your disgusting animal sit at our table and sleep in our house. Or… oh god… have you touch him in our presence."

Naruto chuckled, "Given the chance, I'll do more than that," he said under his breath. "Sasuke saved us. He is an honorable, fair and kind gentleman that deserves all of our respect. If you don't want him, that's fine because I won't share him. However," Shadows darkened the normally bright blue eyes, "For all intents and purposes, this house is his. Wouldn't you say, Grandfather?"

Jiraiya who had been eyeing his grandson closely, watching as he approached Sasuke, taking in how close he stood next to the man and how 'quiet' he was being, merely nodded, "Yes, until I can pay him back, everything we have is his."

Sasuke bristled, "No, that is not how this works, idiot."

"So if Sasuke wanted to," Naruto interrupted, "he could have us all sleeping in the outhouse… correct?"

Jiraiya nodded and the girls' faces paled.

"I wonder who he would choose?" Naruto said his face the picture of innocent curiosity. His sisters looked horrified, glancing between a smiling Naruto, a smirking Jiraiya and a straight faced Sasuke. "Or how much of a say I will have as his fiancé?"

Jiraiya stood, tossing his napkin to the table before clearing his throat. "Well, I think we all have many things to think about tonight. Girls…" he motioned toward the door, "Shall we?"

"But, Grandfather…" "Isn't there anything…" Sakura and Ino began in hurried voices.

"No," Jiraiya snapped, "and it's best if you go to your rooms. You both made a fool of me and I'm going to need time to get over that, I think."

Both girls nodded to their grandfather, leaving the room, but not before sending glares at Sasuke and Naruto. Naruto smiled in response, "Night!"

Jiraiya sighed, "I would imagine that you both have things to discuss. I'll expect to hear more in the morning." He was nearly to the door when he felt Naruto's hand on his shoulder.

"Old man, are you all right? Are you upset with me…" Blue eyes looked into his own and Jiraiya stared at him in utter seriousness trying to assure himself that this decision would make his grandson happy. His eyes shifted to the pink bruise visible just under the boy's collar. With a bark like laugh that caused Naruto to jump, Jiraiya ruffled the blonde spikes and grinned lecherously.

"The only time I have even been upset with you, brat, is the time you dressed like a woman and walked around town making men pass out from blood loss."

Naruto batted his hand away and sneered, "Oh, you mean when you passed out…" But his smile was true and Jiraiya wasn't surprised at all when Naruto threw himself at him, hugging him tight.

"Thanks, grandpa." Naruto whispered into his chest and Jiraiya pushed his grandson away, toward Sasuke and felt the pain in his heart telling him Naruto had grown up.

With a ridiculous smile and cold, hard eyes Jiraiya looked at Sasuke. "I'll, of course, want to talk with you more."

Sasuke gave a stiff nod, "Yes, sir."

With one more ruffle of Naruto's hair, Jiraiya turned and left.

Naruto turned back to Sasuke, suddenly glad for the space between them when Sasuke growled, "What the fuck, dobe?"