He had a way of lingering in the doorway that he hated. As if he expected you to know precisely why he stood there, each and every little thought passing through his mind, fleeting or not, and when you couldn't come up with the right conclusion, it became his reason to gloat. A perfectly designed failure, one tailored specifically to him. Or so that's that way Naruto felt.

When Sasuke showed up, he couldn't shake the feeling that he was merely the eye-catching mouse. Which led into whole other realms of emotion – mostly the one ruled by indignant anger.

"What the hell do you want this time?"

Sasuke tilted his head to the left and placed an arm casually against the door frame, shifting his weight to accommodate his new support. "Figures you'd have to ask something like that."

"I think it's a pretty damn reasonable question. This is my apartment, after all."

A smirk coiled in the corner of Sasuke's mouth, waiting for the moment it could spring into full life. Just knowing that he knew what that look entailed was more than enough to stoke Naruto's anger. The outer corner of his eye twitched as the prelude to that smirk threatened to dive into a full on symphonic suite.

And he hated that. Hated it because it always looked infuriatingly good on Sasuke. Only ever on Sasuke.

Naruto kept his eyes trained on the other man's face. Deciding, perhaps, whether or not it was worth the investment of thought. He ran a hand through his hair, already disheveled from the nap he had been so abruptly woken from just minutes before. Though, it wasn't like some part of him hadn't expected this. For all the trouble it took to figure out Sasuke's motives sometimes, there were moments when every act fell into place with a glaring clarity.

Right now, however, Naruto was certain he was wading through the murky waters of not-quite-there understanding. He could sense it though, like a scent that glossed over the tongue, the taste evoked familiar.

Righting his head, Sasuke peered into the darkened apartment. There was a slight huff that puffed out past his lips, which resettled into their former pose of arrogant assumption as soon as the sound dissipated. Fingers drifted a little lower along the edge of the doorway, tips tracing the worn grooves until they hit a notch. That would explain why it was so damn difficult to shut this door. Or open it for that matter. Naruto seemed to have the art of that down, however.

In any other moment, Sasuke might have appreciated that slight talent. Unfortunately, there was still that question lingering between them both, the one that Naruto seemed to be weighing with the haphazard reason of a man used to the reckless.

"Don't think this is going to end like the last time."

However Naruto put it, Sasuke still chalked it up as a victory. The smirk grew bolder, a spark of haughty approval turned full-on conflagration. He stepped forward and moved a hand upon Naruto's hip. Not touching skin, but suggesting that at any moment, all dependent upon his own wants, he could give in to that temptation. And oh, was it one.

After all, it wasn't every day that Uzumaki Naruto greeted you half-naked.

"I see you've done most of the work for me." His hand skated the air around Naruto's waist and came to a rest near the center of the other man's back. Completely casual. No move made to take up the hunt, but the glimmer of possibility sat there in Sasuke's eyes.

Naruto was well-versed in that, if nothing else. After all, it didn't take a genius to note such a basic desire. Even if you couldn't name it, you knew what it was instinctively. He just had precedence, and thus, a name.

"Don't you wish," he shot back, irritated by the arrogance he had been greeted with. Like it was that damn easy. Just show up and bam! have at it. He gave a derisive snort. "You probably did."

Fingers pressed forward, closer to his lower back. Yet again, all contact with skin was avoided, though it was difficult not to feel like they were there. Right. Fucking. There. It was enough to make him all the more irritable. . .and curious. With Sasuke, you tended to get all or nothing. Though that was after you had already taken the scenic route home, all promises and subtleties sitting by the wayside like pockets of morning glories tucked into the scenery for viewing, but in the end. . . it was always one or the other.

It was that damn feeling though – that word trapped at the back of your throat, evading final form in the mind. Because there had been that look in Sasuke's eyes combating every move made by his hand. A conflict of desires.

"So what if I did? Not like you haven't gotten off to worse. . ."

"You're a fucking bastard."

"Not yet."

"Ha! Don't you. . ."

"You already made that particular point," Sasuke drawled, cutting off Naruto. He peeked once more into the apartment with the air of a man bored beyond all reasonable expectation. His hand now sat firm against Naruto's back. Waiting.

The blond muttered something beneath his breath before pinning Sasuke with an indignant glare. "Do you plan on hanging out in my doorway like some half-ass stalker, or do you actually plan on coming in? Because you can leave othe. . . "

Sasuke had stopped listening the moment the word doorway dropped from Naruto's lips. His hand slipped free, swinging easily back to his side as he stepped around Naruto. An invite was an invite, no matter how coarsely put.

The darkness that greeted him served only to confirm what he had thought from the start – he had been the one to lure Naruto from his slumber. Which was something considering he could have easily just slipped in through one of the windows. That had never really been his style, though. He liked the direct route, the one that left the subtle subtle.

Lingering in the entry area, Sasuke waited for the blond to make his move. It was certain to come, though he imagined sleep still had some sort of hold on logic. Not a tight, possessive sort of hold, but the one that held just to let you know it was still there, still an option. In all honesty, it wouldn't surprise him if the other man chose to do just that.

He tilted his head in Naruto's direction, flexed his fingers in the light that spilled in from the hallway. "Now that I'm here. . ."

Naruto took a step back. Rethinking, perhaps, the situation he was beginning to craft for himself. It was still early enough to recall the decision. Not that it wasn't well within his rights to retract this all at any point he damn well desired. Fair or not, this was still his apartment. He looked at Sasuke in that moment, blue eyes dark with that warning.

Just because I say this now. . .

For his part, Sasuke merely smirked, lifted his head a little higher. The door was finally shut now that the terms were set. . .for the moment at least.

Without any further glances to relay his plans, Naruto brushed past the other man and made his way into the main living area. For the first time in the last week, he hadn't slept on his couch. Strangely, it seemed that when he didn't have the time, he always crashed in his bed, and when afforded the choice, he almost always ended up sprawled on the couch. It wasn't a particularly comfortable piece of furniture, though that had never stopped him from getting a decent night's rest. Then again, once you've learned to fall asleep in the freezing rain while hidden in some tree. . . .

"Like I said, this won't be like last time."

Sasuke merely huffed his response. An obvious dismissal, much like a stallion snorting at some patch of grass he simply found distasteful. Just as the animal wouldn't bite, Sasuke refused to rise to the bait Naruto was setting out for him. Instead, he simply toed off his shoes and moved soundlessly in the path already set by the other man.

Sensing the encroaching presence, Naruto turned around and was halted by the intensity claiming Sasuke's gaze. It was the sort of burning that was doomed from the start, too much too fast and everyone knew it would only burn itself out of existence. Not, however, without casualties. That was the point Naruto feared. . .the one he liked.

That was always the problem. You could only stick your hand in the fire for so long before the fuel you'd coated your skin with had burned away, leaving you painfully vulnerable. Even so, it was an addictive kind of daring, and with Sasuke. . .

"Who says it's always the same?"

"My point is that it's not happening."

As Sasuke took a step forward, Naruto took one back. He wasn't giving away ground. That wasn't the thing at stake. It was. . .

The breath had barely enough time to flee his lungs before Sasuke had moved again. Standing before the Uchiha's talents, the distance between them hardly stood a chance; each step taken massacred the inches that stood between them. Uncaring and viciously so.

"You have my answer," Naruto said. His statement was solid, no cracks in his tone to suggest otherwise.

But it had never been about the way Naruto spoke. Not even what he said. It was everything that sat in his eyes as he said it, and in this, Sasuke saw the rifts created between heart and mind.

No. . .not even that. This was far more basic, an animalistic drive so ingrained in the human state that not even the most disciplined could snuff it out of existence. Another step was taken towards Naruto, left foot falling with all the weight of one set to condemn and seize.

Naruto retreated once more, though this was merely a half-hearted step. Left falling behind right, caught in this half-step of movement, neither here nor there. Or perhaps, one could say trapped. Another moment spent under Sasuke's burning gaze, testing and taunting him. He planted his foot firmly on the ground, then stirred no more.

Lips twisted into a smirk, completely smug and so damnably indifferent. "I don't like your answer."

Sasuke brought his right foot in line with his left. It was a solid affirmation of all that had just been said. Staunch and unrelenting. It didn't hit the floor with the usual creak of aged wood, but with a concrete bang. All flesh and blood and unwavering motive. The sound of it echoed in Naruto's head, the reverberations working their way down from the base of his skull to the base of his spine.

It was a subdued sort of shiver, yet despite that, Naruto worked quickly to fortify himself in the wake of that betrayal. Eyes narrowed. Lips set in a hard, but not bloodless line. There was too much here for that level of determination, as if life itself sought validation in the way the color lingered in his lips. A challenge to everything Sasuke would seek.

Not giving in. No, he wouldn't be doing anything of the sort.

But. . .he wasn't quite saying no either.

"Since when have I ever given a damn about what sort of answers you liked or disliked, Sasuke?"

For a moment, the other man simply stood there. What little light penetrated through the window shades barely supported sight. It was enough though. Between acclimation and the dusty spill of sunset through the slates, Sasuke could make out every little movement on Naruto's face, the shift of emotion in his eyes like the changing of the guards. Expected and seamlessly executed.

Feet hip's width apart, Sasuke stood unmoved. Unmovable. The smirk had settled into an easy curve of arrogance, a smile that danced just a little too close to devilry to be called a uch a thing. His gaze flicked to the side. There was nothing by the way of blankets on the couch, just a few white undershirts and a bundle of neatly packed kunai.

"You slept in your bed. . ."

"No shit, genius. That's what they're for."

Sasuke's reply was quick but was nothing crafted by tongue and sound. Instead, it was a smooth progression of the body, a hand that snaked its way around Naruto's waist, the other grabbing at the blond's right wrist. Tilting his head close, Sasuke breathed out against the other man's ear. No words. Just the brush of expectation, hot but not demanding.

Sweeping his far foot around, Sasuke swung them both, forcing movement from Naruto unless he dared risk falling completely, and they both knew that the blond would allow nothing of the sort. No sooner, though, had their feet found purchase was Sasuke pressing back into Naruto. Their chests bumped lightly together, Sasuke's head still bowed gracefully beside the the other man's ear.

Yet, still no words. Only the sound of air as it rushed from Sasuke's lungs, the steady pump of his heart. Naruto stepped back, refusing to tear himself away lest it appear out of ruffled emotions, refusing to fall against Sasuke should that appear too desperate. His retreat was followed by advancement on Sasuke's part. The Uchiha's steps were light this time. Anticipatory. Eager even for the next move made.

From the corner of his eye, Naruto caught a glimpse of the other man's face. No longer the pale reflection of ice he remembered, but holding something of the sun on his skin. Not that he would call Sasuke tan by any means, but there was something more than chill and perfection lining his features now. A hint of fire made flesh.

His free hand finally found purchase on Sasuke's shoulder. From there, it slid down over his chest, fingers clutching, uncommitted, at the dark fabric of his shirt. They would hang up for a moment, their free-fall halted by some wayward branch of thought, before the drop was resumed. It wasn't until he felt the edge of Sasuke's pants that they finally settled on a grip - the hem of Sasuke's shirt.

It was a light hold, however. Promising nothing, though he felt the other man's breath hitch when fingertips pressed against cloth and skin as another step was taken.

Sasuke shifted his head a little lower. Lips ghosted along skin, the words inaudible though they fell with undeniable force upon his skin. Hot as a sunflare and threatening to burn it all just as well.

"But that's not its only use."

Naruto's thoughts fell static, the reception lost. All he could do was move, body angling back until he could detect a solid presence looming behind him. His back hit the wall with muted force. Though Sasuke's hips remained at a distance, Naruto could feel the hand at his back swallowing the power of that move. It was enough to let him know he was locked into this, not a place to go. Enough to show that Sasuke was well aware of the hand he held and just how to play it.

When Naruto inhaled, his chest brushed against Sasuke's. Again, the other man's breath stumbled on its exhalation. And then, Sasuke lifted his gaze, centering it directly on Naruto's face.

The heat hit his cheeks before he could stop it. A rush of blood that was concealed by the lack of lightning, though Naruto knew nothing could stop Sasuke from sensing it. Such an obvious flash of warmth wouldn't escape the man raised on fire. His gaze hardened under the pressure of his embarrassment.


Naruto could feel the curve of Sasuke's lips, as if the smirk itself were being drawn onto his skin. It haunted the kiss that came after, a taunting little gesture that prided itself on its own arrogance. In punishment for that, he refused to tilt his head when the other man's nose brushed up along the side of his neck.

Though retaliation was expected for his stubbornness, Naruto wasn't prepared for the swiftness with which it came. Sasuke pressed his left leg in between Naruto's, his knee only briefly touching the inside of the blond's right thigh before moving on. When Sasuke moved his attention to Naruto's opposite leg, the act became far more intimate. A slow press that started with skin against cloth, pantleg to pantleg, and ended with cloth moving against skin.

The pressure generated by Sasuke's leg lingered. Hardly a heavy affair though one to be remembered nonetheless. It made itself known discretely - in the heat that grew in the shuttered space separating cloth from body, in a manner that inspired discomfort for all the wrong reasons.

Pressing back into the wall, as if through sheer want alone he could melt right into the arms of safety, Naruto pulled his leg back until his heel hit the baseboard. Still, his fingers held onto the hem of Sasuke's shirt. Even in that, however, Sasuke could feel betrayal. A treachery of thought, of memory-inspired dreams that knew what lay beneath. Seeking the impossible, Naruto tightened his grip.

"So much for denial," Sasuke murmured against the other man's throat.

Naruto's hand relinquished its hold. His eyes flashed with anger, blue flames of resentment that glittered dangerous. This game that Sasuke was playing at. . .It felt he like trying to dance his way through a floor littered with glass shards. It would only take one wrong step. . .and there would be a wrong step because even if he avoided the largest, sharpest pieces, there were countless numbers of slivers strewn about, barely detectable by the eye but no less painful once they lodged in skin. All as colorless as rain.

A low growl slipped loose then. Sasuke met it with a neat little nip.

With a harsh vengeance, Naruto once more took hold of Sasuke's shirt. His hand pressed on further, palm hitting the other man's hip and fingers sinking into it with the ferocity of one unaccustomed to surrender. Sasuke jerked back, a dark fury in his eyes as he looked at the source of sudden pain.

"Why don't you just spit it out, then?" Naruto growled. A strange sound that was feral in its delight.

Immediately, Sasuke's gaze was back up and focused on the other man. For a moment, his eyes lingered on Naruto's, caught by the predatory glimmer there. Over the years, things had warped irreparably between them. Whatever innocence had existed in their relationship had lost its brilliant sheen, becoming as scratched and dull as the surface of a well-used kunai. It took on other qualities – still well-meaning at the center, but on the surface it had learned to coat itself with an armor of lies.

Sasuke moved his hand down to Naruto's and plied each finger free from its grasp upon his hip. There was reluctance with every one, a power struggle for victory that Sasuke claimed for his own by pinning the offending limb to the wall.

Naruto immediately tried to wrench the arm free.

The first jerk was poorly executed, though the second far more powerful. And the third was crushed completely, with only his wrist having managed to leave the surface of the wall.All because of a roughly packaged shock that had been precisely what Sasuke had been looking for.

A kiss to tame.

Naruto's arm fell slack as his eyes went wide. In them, Sasuke watched the progression of emotion, each possessing Naruto in turn. First, surprise. It was that particular feeling that made Naruto's mouth go slack, lips parting as if owing allegiance to Sasuke's will alone. Next came the whisper of desire as shock faded into the truest of all emotions crafted by the situation. Flicking his tongue against Naruto's lower lip, Sasuke prepared himself for the final and most passionate of all sentiments – anger.

Naruto's eyes darkened, a deep cobalt sort of blue lined with shadow. In that moment, Sasuke lowered his gaze and took Naruto's lower lip between his teeth. It was a gentle bite, but enough to deter the other man from reacting violently. Only when Sasuke felt he had hit the center of the storm did he release his captive with a sharp nip.

"He must have been really good. . . ."

"Just what the hell is that supposed to mean?" Naruto snarled. His eyes were narrowed, the threat defiant. It was the only thing visible in that slit of a gaze. Beneath that though, in the darkest, deepest harbors of his being. . .Naruto felt his arm tremble in Sasuke's grasp, and he internally cursed the many ways betrayal manifested itself.

Sasuke absorbed the guilt-laden tremor with a sweet smile of conquest. The kind of smile that danced the line between arrogance and genuine satisfaction. As his grip tightened on Naruto's wrists, he pressed his chest against the other man's and exhaled softly. "I think you know quite well what I'm alluding to. . ."

At that, Naruto balked. The fury in his eyes took on a murderous gleam, as sharp as a viper's fang but without the poison. No, that particular element rested in Sasuke's fingertips, each touch spilling more and more of its venomous want into him. It was a damnable thing really, to hate and want . . .to want and hate that want. And all the while, Sasuke's thumb kept stroking at the underside of his wrist.

A growl bubbled in Naruto's throat.

Sasuke, however, kept his attention locked on their hands. Just beneath the surface, he could detect that rush of blood. A strong pulse made all the stronger by the situation. The smile he had given life to wilted only to be reborn as a callous smirk.

"Was it the couch or the bed?"

Though Sasuke's tone lacked the fire's lick of hatred, Naruto could still hear the bitter notes of contempt woven into every word. But when he looked into the other man's eyes, there was nothing but black ice greeting him, slick with cold and treason. The stroking against his wrist stopped, replaced by a pressure that increased with every passing second until Naruto was certain Sasuke would have him pinned to the wall for his pleasure alone.

"Since when does the where matter to you. . ." Naruto sneered.

Sasuke bit him on the shoulder. "That wasn't an answer to my question."

Naruto shrugged off Sasuke's lips. The momentary unsettling in Sasuke's balance was all he needed. With the flat of his foot firm against the wall, Naruto lunged off of it with force enough to send Sasuke stumbling back. Even so, the other man didn't release his left wrist, though the right was now free. . .if only by centimeters. Before Sasuke could reclaim the limb, Naruto cocked his arm back and shot it straight at his face.

The cost of avoiding the hit was great - Sasuke's hold on Naruto was now completely lost.

"It's none of your fucking business!"

"So, it was the couch. . ." Taking another step back, Sasuke paused to roll each wrist in turn, fingers flexing, as if inviting Naruto to intercept his next statement before it came. When nothing was done, the only sound being the cautious creak of a floorboard, he locked his sight on the other man and smirked. ". . .and the bed."

Back stiffening, Naruto glared at Sasuke. It was maddening, the way he could look so damn cocky, like it was owed to him. Even when he was completely pissed and Naruto knew this topic would never have been brought to the fore had it not been eating away at the other man's ego, he still looked so thoroughly composed. As if anger had its own chest of ice to soak in, the steam rising to cloud the intent in Sasuke's eyes.

Before that mist could clear, however, Naruto was cutting a trail across the floor to where Sasuke stood. Footfalls were heavy, anger completely unmasked. He stomped to a halt just in front of the other man. "It's not like you had some claim on me after what. . . five. . .six years, was it? Maybe I did just fucking enjoy it!"

The color seemed to drain from Sasuke's eyes at those words, leaving behind only the depthless shadow of all that had once been. A soul-snaring sort of black, seeking to replace everything that had been lost. His lips twisted into scowl. Taking a step closer to Naruto, Sasuke lowered his head as they stood chest-to-chest once more.

"Not good enough to forget then. . ."

Naruto raised his arm, fingers curling back into a tight fist, and took a single, leverage-granting step back.

"You really are a fucking as. . ."

There was the sound of skin colliding with skin cutting through Naruto's statement. The resulting sound was one that stung the ears as much as the flesh involved, and it had Naruto hissing with pain and anger. Sasuke's fingers curled around Naruto's wrist, and without any further warning, they were both moving back towards the wall that had been abandoned.

Naruto shot the other man a look. Dark but hardly concealing. It was anger in all its righteous fury, dyed with the hues of promised retribution - a bit black around the edges and fading into a glowing purplish pulse as you neared the very heart of a flame still fueled by innocence.

And gods could Naruto still be so fucking innocent about things.

Always with what was right. The honest, settle-your-soul sort of good that made Sasuke want to chip away at it. Just to prove that not all things in this world were that easy. Innocent only took you so far. Experience swallowed the rest. And when it came to Naruto. . .why bother playing innocent in this?

They both knew, and when Sasuke met that fiery gaze it was with that point sitting smug and accusing in his eyes. You have no room to talk. . .

The words Naruto had prepared died on his lips, a sacrifice to the conscience. Glancing to the side, he bit his lip and continued towards the wall just as Sasuke directed him. It was infuriating though. Just because Sasuke had those damn eyes. They were worse than the Hyuuga's.

With Sasuke, it wasn't a matter of dissecting you. Cold and efficient – all here's the scalpel. No, when he caught Sasuke looking at him, it was in a manner that didn't just open you up to pull out the parts and examine every little bit. Wasn't a matter of chakra lines tracing their way through the body, but slivers of your soul that had tucked themselves away from the world's view.

It was the private things, the sins and regrets that Sasuke found with those eyes. And he could do that because he knew each and every one that he had committed. Hell, maybe he even reveled in the fact that his hands weren't so pristine. But maybe. . .maybe that's the way you needed to look at things to survive that hells you created.

Naruto growled, a low sound that rumbled in his chest. Accusing right back. Because even if that was true, it didn't make a damn bit right, did it? Looking at him like that. Just because he knew.

Using the force of the next step, Naruto shifted his weight onto his back leg, took his would-be retreat of a step, and changed the direction of the game. His foot landed neatly in between Sasuke's, side-by-side with the other man's. In the span of a second, their positions were reversed. Naruto wasted no time shoving Sasuke into the wall, his captured arm acting as a means to enforce his weight against the other man.

Wasn't that one of their primary lessons as ninja though? Locate your weakness and use it to your advantage.

The wall shuddered as Sasuke hit it. His eyes narrowed, slits of a gaze that burned with something Naruto wouldn't quite call fury. It was too. . .expectant for that. Yet, it burned and burned. . .and burned. Unabated by this sudden reversal of fortunes.

But, the longer Naruto looked into those eyes, the more he felt certain Sasuke didn't feel abandoned by Luck. Or Fate. Or any other number of names that called into being Chance. It was all just another opportunity.

"Just who the hell do you think you are, huh?" Naruto hissed. "Do you honestly fucking believe that I'll fall, just like that because it's you?"

Sasuke leaned his head back against the wall. Pulled Naruto's arm toward him slowly. It was the kind of considerate that would put even the dumbest of creatures on alert. Accompanying it was the soft hum of musing. "Hmm. . ." – an eyebrow lifted as his tongue flicked against the underside of Naruto's wrist –". . . no."

Naruto blinked.

Glancing to the side for a moment, Sasuke appeared to mull over his options. Lips were still teasing skin, not quite pressed close but the concept of distance was practically nonexistent.

For his part, Naruto shifted his stance, preparing, then swallowed thickly when Sasuke looked at him once more. Those eyes. Darkening, like night consuming day, snuffing out the light until it was nothing but shadow. The devil's playground. The sort of look that lured a flash of heat from his very core.

Eyes half-lidded, Sasuke surveyed Naruto's wrist, the spot of skin that his tongue had wet. "I expect you to fall because of all the things you know I can do to you."