Note: Oh my! Thank you very much for your wonderful responses. :-) I'm very glad you liked it. I was a bit worried the complete story was not as good as your expectation, so those reviews saved me a lot. ;-D Thank you! And enjoy the second chapter.
Chapter 2: Choosing a Mate
"Sasuke, this spare skin itch me." Naruto said as he pulled the front of an oversized polo shirt that hung like drapes on his figure. Nine fuzzy tails swayed from beneath the hem, as he leaned in towards the silent man beside him, crawling on his hands and knees in the backseat of the car.
Sasuke coughed softly, his eyes fixated at opposite direction. A neatly folded indigo handkerchief was covering his nose. "Bear with it." He tonelessly said, tightening the hold on his nose.
The blonde pouted, narrowing his cerulean eyes. "I don't understand why humans need these artificial spare skins and furs. It's itchy and uncomfortable and hot! My birth furs are better than this; they keep me cool in summer and warm me during winter, can I just—"
"Dobe," The raven interrupted chilly, switching his gaze to glare at the blonde. "If you don't want me to stop the car and drop you, stop complaining and keep that shirt on."
"Don't call me that." Naruto groaned softly, baring his fangs.
"Then at least sit properly if you don't want me to." Sasuke responded coldly, fixating his eyes at the scenery beyond the window.
Naruto growled in low tone and withdrew himself to sit, baring his fangs and glaring to space. He didn't realize the Uchiha was staring at him in an extant of intensity, ogling the boy's figure from his oddly shaped ears to his fuzzy tails to the feet and hands with sharp long claws. Sasuke had to admit the boy had unusual animalistic traits in him, but it was simply…hard to admit that he wasn't human, but a hybrid.
Sasuke had heard rumors about them before. He heard hybrid was the rarest race among the rare, it was a race of half-man half-beast creatures that only had several tens of population in the world. Some considered them as a holy race, some even worshiped them.
But to elites and riches, hybrids were like rare exotic animals they wanted to add to their collection. The price of a hybrid may cost a whole fortune in the market. But Sasuke thought it was only rumors so he didn't pay attention to such things.
And this boy claimed to be one of them.
"Sasuke," The blonde called out softly, interrupting his train of thoughts. The raven raised his gaze to find the boy was stealing reluctant glances at him, his furry ears were dropped.
"I'm sorry about earlier. I've caused you troubles last time. I mustn't complain." He gestured to his oversized shirt by pulling the collar. "If this is human's culture, I guess I can endure. Kakashi once told me humans don't like to see each other furless, he said it'll get their balls up."
Sasuke gulped silently, pinching his nose beneath the cloth when he felt the searing wave of heat overwhelming to his nostrils again.
Getting out of the house was hard enough; they could barely past mountains of fainted bodies that scattered on the floor and an army of hungry carnivores.
When they went out of the room, the bodyguards who stood by the door started flushing at the sight of them for some unknown reason, before throwing themselves to their feet. And then some maids walked past them, they stopped in their tracks and swooned immediately after releasing loud groans and undignified shrieks and blood slipped down their nostrils like tap water. The rest of servants and maids and vassals in the manor were all swooning and having nosebleeds, if not darting towards them with the speed of a devil and never letting go when they caught one of them.
In fact, whenever they went, people around them suddenly sported the same symptoms; swooning, nose bleeding, face flushing, assaulting, stalking, and screaming strange things that were not meant to be said in front of children below thirteen, which was something like:
"Ooh…you're so ORGASMIC!"
"God bless you…PLEASE NAIL ME!"
"MOLEST ME RAW!!"
"Do you mind taking it up the ASS?"
"Forget I'm gay, I'LL EVEN GO LESBIAN FOR YOU!!"
"I'm a FELLATIO specialist!"
"I can be a VIRGIN for you!!"
"I may be already fifty, but I'm still FIFTEEN AT HEART AND BELOW!!"
"I'LL EAT CROCODILE'S TESTICLES IF YOU WANT ME TO!!"
They clearly didn't act as they usually were.
It was an utter chaos in his mansion back then. Somehow they could (barely) find a sane driver and got the hell out of the hellhole as soon as possible.
Sasuke didn't know what had gotten into them that they acted that way, but he caught vague ideas about the certain reasons for their unlikely demeanor. He realized he might've caught the same symptoms, only lighter. He knew it all started with their first meeting.
He threw his gaze at the blonde boy in his left, who seemed noticing his stare and whipped his head towards him, lolling his head to side. The Uchiha unintentionally caught the sight of smooth bare legs under oversized shirt, the ones that pants could go through but nine fuzzy tails made the bottom stuck in the middle of a well-shaped plump ass, which he would love to plunge into in a good, steamy round of—
"Sasuke…?" The blonde reluctantly called. "Um, my face is up here?"
The Uchiha leashed his head up. "Oh. Sorry."
"Are you okay?"
Sasuke didn't answer the question. Instead he silently averted his eyes and switched his gaze back to the running scenery beyond the window, bringing up the stained indigo handkerchief to his nose.
He just bled again.
Sasuke took in the sight of a huge manor when he stepped out of the car, awed by the form of a supposedly shop. It was a European manor which was located in the middle of a hill by the town's outskirt; sized larger than his own and aged about several tens of years, the outside surface was built entirely by red bricks, and some bricks were already eaten by age, and the front garden was unorganized and the vegetation around the house and in its garden inside the cluster of brick wall was left growing wild.
"Our home." The blonde said at the other side of the car. "This is where we live."
Sasuke glanced at him. " 'we'…?"
"My friends, other hybrids like me." Naruto said with a smile. Then he ran towards the entrance, but stopped a few feet before the entrance. He stood there and suddenly went quiet.
He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. When Naruto snapped his eyes wide, his eyes turned crimson and he delivered a loud, hoarse roar into the air. The wave of his roar released a certain degree of pressure on the Uchiha's body as his ears caught the tremulous sound, petrifying his body. It was strong, straightforward, and dauntless; a roar that even trembled the air and his body. It was like…
Like a lion.
The roar lasted for a few seconds, before it slowly toned down and gradually disappeared as the hybrid boy lost his breath. Sasuke watched as Naruto threw his head back as he panted slightly, his chest weaved up and down unsteadily, clawed fingers ran through golden tresses.
He tilted his head and stared at the stunned Uchiha over his shoulder. "Sorry, did I surprise you? I was saying 'I'm home' in our language. I guess you're not used to it." He jovially said, grinning brightly.
Sasuke stayed silent. Something about the boy's smile and his beastly roar formulated strange sensation within his stomach, like flickering flame burning him from the insides. A bit similar to the one he felt before, the roar was unbelievably intense and…sexy.
He touched his nose, relieved when he found no red fluid.
"Naruto!!" Came a loud shout.
Sasuke held up his chin and looked at a silver-haired man was by the entrance, who wore a mask that concealed the lower part of his face and had a long vertical scar across one of his eyes, but there was no certain animalistic trait in him. He looked like a normal human.
The man made a quick beeline towards the blonde and stopped in front of him, grasping at his forearms. "Naruto, where have you been? Are you all right? We're so worried! You suddenly disappeared without a trace…" He stuttered.
"I'm fine, Kakashi. This person helped me." The blonde assured, turning to the Uchiha.
The taller man gazed in line with the blonde's eyes, finding a dark-haired man stood not far from them.
Then he walked past the blonde and stopped in front of Sasuke, his eyes reducing to slits. "I apologize for my rudeness. I was very relieved that I didn't see a guest. My name is Hatake Kakashi, the caretaker, thank you very much for taking care of our Naruto." He politely said, outstretching a hand towards Sasuke.
The Uchiha received his hand. "Don't mention it. I'm Uchiha Sasuke." He said, shaking hands with him.
"Pleased to meet you." Kakashi smiled beneath his mask. "If you don't mind, I'd like to properly say thank you to you. May be over a cup of tea?" He asked.
"No. You don't have to, I—"
"But I insist." Kakashi interrupted. "I'm guessing you must have a lot of questions concerning our Naruto, or perhaps…the business we run."
Sasuke raised a fine brow at the approximately accurate guess, as if the man was able to read his mind. His mind warned him to reject this fishy offer, but the thought of coming home to clean up the mass of chaos had downright turned down the warning.
"If you insist." The Uchiha finally said.
"Thank you." Kakashi solemnly said. "Shall we?"
Kakashi led him to a room with an impressive collection of books lined up in shelves, he had a strong guess it was a study. The interior was beautiful, chock-full of antique furniture that was quite old, but well-taken care and clean, the atmosphere was very comfortable. The house itself was larger than he expected.
The man in charge approached the table, pushing a teacart. He carefully placed a porcelain teacup onto the table, in front of the Uchiha, and another at the opposite direction. Then he brought up a round teapot and poured light brown liquid into Sasuke's cup, "I hope you like Earl Grey." He said, pulling away the pot.
"I don't hate it." The Uchiha said.
"No thank you."
Sasuke watched as Kakashi poured tea into his own cup, settling the teapot to the table. Then he suddenly threw his gaze towards the room entrance, feeling as if being watched. But found no one, or nothing at the door. He had been having the same creepy feeling ever since he stepped into the house.
"Uchiha-san, I would like to say thank you again for helping Naruto." Kakashi said, grabbing his attention.
"It was nothing." Sasuke said.
"Of course not. I want apologize for the troubles Naruto has caused you."
Sasuke paused at the sentence, bringing up his gaze from the cup with slight curious look on his face. "No, really. It was…nothing."
"No. I must apologize" Kakashi said, drowning his veiled chin on a bridge of entwined fingers. "You see, when your employee came, there was a pregnant mother who suddenly went into labor, so I had to help her. I…left your employee for a moment, and she mistook Naruto for Kimimaro. I really had no idea that Naruto was in the stall instead. I'm very sorry."
"It's fine." Sasuke said. "So that boy really is…a hybrid?"
"I guess you've figured it out yourself, haven't you? It's easy to tell he's not a human." Kakashi uttered lightly. "In fact, he's a hybrid of lion and nine-tailed fox."
The Uchiha's eyes went wide. "Lion and…nine-tailed fox?"
"You're from the Uchiha family, correct? I assume you've heard about hybrids."
"I know about them to certain extant, but I've never actually seen one before. This is the first." The Uchiha admitted, remembering the first time he saw Naruto, his ears and his tails.
"Do you want to know more?"
The Uchiha paused for a short moment, before reluctantly nodded. His curiosity had swelled even more than before. "Please."
"Hybrids are creatures that posses unique traits which they inherited from different parents, but hybrids don't consist only half-man half-beast creatures like Naruto." He began.
"In common interpretation, hybrids are considered as animals that were born from cross-breeding between two different parents, but still in the same species or family, for example, a liger was born from a male lion and female tiger, and such. This kind of hybrid is allowed to be known to people around the globe, but human hybrids are kept secret for some reasons. Generally, a perfect hybrid has three or more different types of genes instead of just two. And the genes are of completely different species or kingdom. Not all of them are meant to be though. Like a mix of lion and mermaid that results in the hideous merlion. But perfect combinations might result in wonderful creatures like unicorn or dragon."
Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows. "Why did they keep it a secret?"
"That is…I cannot say it specifically, but let's just say that human hybrids are almost the same as humans in general, but with animalistic traits and special abilities that no normal human has. Do you think people will just accept it whole-heartedly?" Kakashi lightly asked.
"I get your point." Sasuke said. "What kind of abilities are you talking about?"
"Oh. Nothing special really, hybrids' abilities are determined by the type of dominating genes they inherited. But in general, they have strong sense of smell, keen ears, pheromone…"
"Wait." The Uchiha interrupted, his expression suddenly lit up. "That. The last thing you mentioned."
"Pheromone?" Kakashi repeated. "If you want to know…Pheromone is a biological tool animals produce to attract opposite sex, its form is like certain unique scent the body releases, especially in mating season. It also acts as aphrodisiac to encourage mating ritual."
"Scent…?" Sasuke murmured softly. He recalled the moment he stepped into the room with Karin there was a sweet fragrance lingering in the air, was that it?
"—sorry for the troubles Naruto caused you." Kakashi concluded.
Sasuke brought up his head, glancing at the silver-haired man. "Excuse me?"
"Apparently, foxes have normal amount of pheromone." Kakashi began. "However, nine-tailed fox is a very special kind and extremely rare, its pheromone is nine times stronger than average fox or any animal in general. Lions, in the other hand posses great charisma and wisdom that live up to their title as the King of Jungle. And the combination of these has created one of a kind pheromone with tremendous effects. It triggers certain symptoms, causes temporary insanity, and affects most living creatures…"
Sasuke could feel the smug smirk when Kakashi uttered his last words. "…that's why I apologize. Naruto must've caused a lot of troubles."
As if something sucked out his energy, Sasuke slumped down into the chair, wide-eyed. The information he received seemed very hard for him to digest, from the beginning to the last piece, it puzzled him. So the cause was that hybrid boy's—Naruto's pheromone, all of that chaos was because of his trait. His ability as a hybrid.
Sasuke couldn't imagine what kind of abilities other hybrids might posses.
"But you're pretty strong." Kakashi's voice awakened him.
"What?" He asked, vaguely remembered someone had said the same thing to him.
"Most people—creatures would've become temporarily insane from the intensity of Naruto's pheromone. But I see that you're able to control yourself to this extant without any help. I'm impressed." Kakashi said.
"Are you saying that you've experienced those...symptoms too?" Sasuke asked, surprised.
"Well, yes. Sometimes. I can't clearly remember when it happened though. It was hard to block his pheromone at first, but I gained control over it eventually." He jovially said.
"I see," Sasuke said, sounding relieved.
"Oh yeah, I have some medicines for you. It's on the plate." Kakashi pointed.
Raising his eyebrows, Sasuke raised the teacup and found two white tablets on the small plate. Curious, he entrapped them between his fingers, bringing it up.
"It's to prevent anemia." Kakashi gushed before he could ask.
Sasuke glanced at him, wide-eyed.
"I knew the moment you tried to hide your stained handkerchief."
"…thank you." Sasuke murmured, feeling heat rushed up to his face.
Kakashi paused when the door suddenly creaked opened. Both of them glanced towards the source of the creaking sound as the entrance fluttered open, a black animal peeked through the crack, its golden eyes fell to their forms. It stepped further in, revealing its full form. A panther. The panther settled itself by the entrance, eying silently at them with beady golden eyes.
"Excuse me." Kakashi said, standing up. Then he approached the panther, crouching down to its eyelevel. Sasuke watched as Kakashi stood up again, glancing at the Uchiha.
"I'm very sorry, Uchiha-san. But I have to leave you for a moment. Something came up, and it might take a couple of hours. If you'd like, I will escort you back to your car." The silver-haired man said, bowing apologetically.
"No! It's fine." The Uchiha quickly said, recalling the chaos that waited for him back in his house. He also had taken a day off. "I'll wait."
"Oh. Well then," Kakashi said, sounding unsure. "Feel free to entertain yourself, call me if you need something."
Sasuke nodded. He watched wordlessly as the man vanished from his line of vision along with the panther. The Uchiha suddenly found himself surrounded by a cluster of silence. He still felt the creepy feeling of being watched; it only intensified when he was completely alone, in a foreign house of hybrids.
Sasuke looked around, finding the books were the only thing that caught his interest.
He stood up, pushing his legs towards the bookshelves, stopping when he heard a rattling noise. Spontaneously, he whipped his head towards the source of the sounds, glancing at a crack between the window sills and pane. Sasuke raised an eyebrow, he was sure the window was closed before. Curios, he approached closer, raising the windowpane. He looked around but found nothing more than trees and bushes.
Maybe it's just me, he mused, intending to close the window.
But when he was about to close the windowpane, he saw a blur of something dashed into the window and lunged onto him, causing him to lose balance. Sasuke crashed against the floorboard headfirst and struck a sharp pain to his head, a hoarse scream ripped its way out of his throat. His vision was blurry when he opened his eyes, seeing blurred yellow color.
"Sorry! I'm sorry!! Are you okay?"
Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows and focused on the blurry form in front of him, his head was pounding painfully in his ears. His vision gradually returned as seconds passed, until he could distinctly identify three pairs of scars on each of his assaulter's cheeks.
"N-Naruto?" Sasuke stuttered, blinking.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke!" The blonde exclaimed, panic overcoming his face.
Sasuke brought body up, one of his elbows supported him and a hand caressed the lump on his head. "What are you doi—"
Naruto clasped a hand on Sasuke's mouth, his ears suddenly perked up. "Sshh." He whispered. Sasuke's onyx eyes widened when the blonde pushed him down until their bodies tightly pressed against each other, nine tails lowering.
They heard rash footsteps came closer, stopping right before the window.
"But I saw him running this way!" A high-pitched voice said.
"Naruto-san's not here, where is he? The ceremony is about to begin!" Another voice said.
"His scent is still here, he must be nearby!"
"NARUTO-SAAAAANNNN!! WHERE ARE YOU!?"
"NARUTOOOO!! TAYUYA IS RIGHT HERE!! CHOOSE ME!!"
"NO! CHOOSE ME INSTEAD!!"
"GO AWAY, BITCHES! HE'S MINE!"
Then their rushing footsteps began going away, slowly toning down. The two of them stayed in the same position until the noise completely vanished. Naruto released Sasuke's mouth but didn't get off, his ears were standing up.
"They're gone. Finally." Sasuke heard him moaned out. Then Naruto got rid of himself, releasing the Uchiha. Sasuke brought his body to sit, rubbing the lump on back of his head.
"Sorry Sasuke. I didn't mean to hurt you." Naruto said, glancing at Sasuke regretfully, his ears dropping.
"I'm fine." Sasuke managed to say. "Dobe… what was that?"
"Uh, I ran away from the ceremony," Naruto said, sounding worried.
The Uchiha glanced at him. "What ceremony?"
"It's a ceremony to choose a mate, since the mating season is due next week." Naruto explained. "But they suddenly went feeding frenzy on me, so I got scared."
"…must be hard for you." Sasuke recalled Kakashi's explanation. He suddenly noticed the blonde was staring at him, with a look of plea overcoming his face. That made Sasuke felt uncomfortable. "What is it?" he asked, averting his eyes.
"Can I stay with you here?" Naruto said, causing the Uchiha to leash his head to him.
"I don't want to go back. Other places are too risky, this room is Kakashi's so other hybrids usually avoid this place. This is the best hiding place. Besides, you're here, I won't get bored." Naruto glanced at the suddenly petrified Uchiha. "Just until it's over. Please?"
Sasuke felt his head began hurting, Kakashi's words swam in the back of his mind, warning him. It's a bad idea, he mused, if I let him, I'll go insane like the others. But the way Naruto looked at him pleadingly made it hard to say no, it somewhat made him feel uncomfortable and hot.
"I…" Sasuke stuttered, feeling a bead of sweat trickled down his temples. "…o…kay."
The blonde's expression brightened. "Thank you, Sasuke!" He exclaimed, grinning widely.
The Uchiha sighed heavily, suddenly caught the sight of Naruto's torn attire. He was still wearing the oversized shirt Sasuke gave to him, but now the shirt was torn all over and had many holes on it, the blonde was practically naked. "Your shirt…"
"Ah, this?" Naruto pulled at the collar. "It got torn up when I was running. Sorry I mess up your spare skin, I'll get you a new one later." Sasuke watched as Naruto pulled off the shirt over his head, tossing the torn cloth elsewhere.
Sasuke didn't bleed this time.
But he was in a dire need for a long cold shower.
:To be continued…:
Note: Thank you for reading! I hope I don't confuse you with the explanation. And I'm sorry to Singapore, I didn't mean to offend their merlion… :-) Please tell me what you think so I don't get a heart attack? I'm also thinking about writing side-pairings, any suggestion? XD And please forgive me for the grammatical errors, I was rushing when I write this chapter.
Next chapter: Auspicious Proposition