Author's Note: Jesus Christ. I started this and wrote ten pages in one sitting. Then I managed five. Then three. Then two, then one, then one again. Soon I was down to writing only paragraphs, sometimes sentences, at a time. I've worked on this for two months. Those who've read "Teeth", I haven't updated because I've been working on this monstrosity.

Extra warnings: This is not the giggly fangirl rape where Naruto falls to his knees. I've read some supposed 'rape' stories, perhaps for some reference as I've never written anything about it before, and found it disturbing at how lightly people take it. And also, fanfic writers, gay sex is not perfect. Most first times it's a downright disaster. It's messy, awkward, and downright painful. I can understand not wanting to ruin the scene, but I thought I'd share. I've even fictionalized the act of it in here, sugar-coating things. I don't want to go into nitty gritty detail. Did I just contradict myself?

Also, this is the clean version. The link to the un-cut version can be found in my profile. Enjoy.


"In my field of paper flowers and candy clouds of lullaby, I lie inside myself for hours, and watch my purple sky fly over me."

-Imaginary, by Evanescance

Purple, 1 of 4

Out of all the houses he'd been expecting, this was not it. It wasn't even a house at all; a penthouse suit, situated somewhere between the fourth and sixth stories of an eleven-story building, gleaming and new like a sore thumb in a metropolis of garbage and industrial wreck.

His messenger bag, khaki with frayed edges and broken buckles, was uncomfortable against his side. Sweat made his shirt glue itself to his skin like fly paper. His task set, his map in the form of a torn-out sheet of loose-leaf clenched in a fist with cracked knuckles, Naruto crossed the last street towards the Uchiha's complex.

"Take this straight to him, Naruto," his guardian's words continued to ring. "No side trips. No stops. Straight. To him."

"I got it, I got it," his own words echoed back, lacking just as much stability and sounding more like a recorded message on the answering machine. "No side trips."

There was a mat of gleaming red fur curled by the sewer, Naruto noticed, as he stepped over the chipped curb. Its mangled legs were furled in an almost graceful way, and its stomach was sinking in and starting to turn obsidian with rot. Copper fur was heavy with crisp, dried blood, and its black paws still seemed to claw at the pavement. The creatures eyes were shut, mouth slightly agape, and if it weren't for decomposition, Naruto would have taken it to be asleep. But its tail's bush had flattened to a snake-like center, and it had become a beautiful skeleton as opposed to a beautiful creation.

Wondering idly what a fox had been doing so far from its woods in the first place, Naruto waltzed up and through the swinging doors. The metal framework was stainless steel, very modern for a not-so-modern town.

But who would expect anything less of the great protégé Sasuke Uchiha?

The bastard's homework was settled somewhere in his bag. The fourteen-year-old, after not missing a single minute of class over the entire year, had been absent with no call nor notice for the past three days. Naruto's impromptu visit was more of a reassurance for the teachers that the star pupil of the class hadn't thrown himself out the window than to deliver homework the raven could have no doubt completed before the last bell of homeroom rang. Which threw Naruto for a complete loop; the guy couldn't speak a word of English when he'd first enrolled in Clifford Private School.

He'd been a dark, brooding thing that shone so brightly you couldn't help but notice him. His tongue was so foreign and something new to hear, like the catchy new song played over and over on the radio until it lost all appeal. At least for Naruto it did. For others, it grew more sickeningly addictive every day, and it was so obvious the youth didn't want the attention. But since when did things like that make a difference?

Middle school graduation was in three weeks, a small and uneventful ceremony made to please the parents rather than the students. A sense of accomplishment was more of a requirement, it seemed, than the basic four years of math and English. His guardian Iruka would, of course, be there. He was a teacher at the high school and seemed pleased (insultingly pleased) that Naruto had managed to claw his way out with a passing grade. Passing if you squinted.

That being said, while Naruto's legs skimmed awkwardly along the floor from his position on the bottom rung of the ladder, Sasuke sat so high up he was in danger of his high horse throwing him off.

The guy was Asian, so that could have been key, but did he have to graduate at the top of the class? He didn't speak a word of English when he'd first come, and honestly, Naruto wasn't so sure that he knew how to now. The two were in completely opposite classes. Sasuke joined in with the honors and AP classes for calculus and Physics, while Naruto was stuck with career-prep in Algebra 1 and Language and Composition. But even when they strayed paths in public settings, no words were spoken. Or in any sort of setting. The blonde was pretty sure the other had quite a colorful set of insults in his arsenal, though. Too bad they were all in Japanese.

But, hey, who needed words when you had fists?

There were some people Naruto couldn't help but like. He was attracted to them, and they to he, and through mutual attraction could form some sort of bond, whether fickle or iron-clad. Then there were the people who put a sick feeling in his stomach when he heard their force, made his fists clench whenever their eyes met.

Sasuke was one of the latter.

Naruto's eyes tightened at the memory of their first head-on collision. It took a week before their heated glares cooled and staled, no longer enough to sedate that unquenchable thirst for contact. For the feel of hard bone against furled knuckles, to feel hot breath as they got into each others face. To have foreign blood splash against their skin and to taste their own in kind. It was a short skirmish, half a minute before hall aids tore them apart, an unrefined quarrel that was more tugging hair and going for weak spots. Their spot was ostantuous and no good. They learned. They learned to dodge like a bullet and strike like a falcon, and learned to make use of quite and desolate spots. The math and science hallway after third period every fourth day of their six-day rotation. The old auditorium that had had a 'renovation' sign on it for over a year. The tiny network of alleys stripped the surrounding grounds like a cobweb.

Their fights continued, and the scale of bruises quickly began to tip in Sasuke's favor. Naruto sometimes avoided the hot spots, if nothing but to calm Iruka's worried face and his friends' anxious stares whenever he showed up with a fresh patch of shiny red surrounding his eye or his cheek.

Sasuke knew. He must have. He wore a sneer whenever Naruto took a shortcut, although the blond remained positive that no one followed him. Somehow, he knew. The bastard just knew.

Of course, Sasuke wasn't the only one Naruto found himself in regular skirmishes with. There were various options to pick from. The football jocks, the black kids with baggy clothes and bad music, the younger, scrawny kids who had more bark than bite but were so quick on their feet that keeping track of them was impossible, and holding onto them even harder. Plenty. Naruto supposed it was just something in his personality. Maybe he was labeled a poser for having a Japanese name with no heritage to back it up. Maybe it was his diminutive height that made him so easy to look down upon.

His sociology teacher had once told his class that for every person that liked you, there were at least two who did not. Naruto had yet to meet what was sure to be a huge flock of admirers, but looked forward to the day that he did.

But so far, he'd been stuck with the not-so-friendly crowd. Sometimes he wondered if even his friends hat strayed over to that side. But until then Naruto grinned and bore the title they'd given him with pride. 'Monster'. It was fitting, in a way. Monsters were vastly misinterpreted creatures, and always smarter than those who had created them.

The doorman raised an eyebrow at him. Naruto flashed a nonplussed grin and pointedly shifted his shoulder strap so that his pack swung against his hip. "I'm here to give Sasuke Uchiha some homework. He up there?"

The doorman waited a ridiculous amount of time before sniffing in distain and muttering, in an altogether too-prim voice for such a small town, "The young sir lives on the fourth floor. The elevator is down the hallway past the lobby desk."

Naruto waited, and under the expectant gaze, waited for further direction. Receiving nothing, he just nodded awkwardly and strode past him to the dim hallway by the dim desk.

"…Mr. Uchiha is still attending school?"

Naruto stopped in his tracks and whipped his head around. Uchiha not going to school? Of course. And president Bush had found a cure for breast cancer through personal experience.

"Yeah. Why wouldn't he?"

He was beginning to grow annoyed by being looked at as if he were a tiny fraction of his age. "Ask him yourself."

"Fine!" Naruto snapped. He whirled around, determined not to stop even if spoken to. He was uninterrupted and made it to the elevator doors winded. And he couldn't tell why.

The ride upwards was smooth, but Naruto felt as if his stomach had remained rooted to the first floor. When the doors opened all the air had gone from Naruto's lungs and his chest felt ready to collapse.

And he didn't know why.

Sasuke lived in apartment 409. The first eight was grouped like small complexes to one side of the vast building, 409 and 410 being the master suites, and the latter under construction. Ten rooms to a floor, all lain out in a similar fashion. All costing more than ten combined years of Iruka's pay, no doubt. It was sickening, the amount of money people spent on just an apartment.

Vaguely wondering if he would be able to find out what Sasuke's parents did for a living, he trailed along the short and stubby hallway with only two doors. He knocked on the first one and waited.

And waited.

He waited ten seconds, blinked, furrowed his brows, and knocked again.

Still no answer.

After the fifth set of knocks, by which time it had become more of a hammering, Naruto was considering just leaving the work by the door. The kid could come out and get it himself, couldn't he? But it was Miss Ghandi who'd given him this assignment. And it was Miss Ghandi who'd always favored slime above him and called his guardian to make sure he completed the task.

It was her ass he had to kiss now. Or so Naruto told himself.

There was also that frighteningly obvious curiosity that was digging its claws deeper and deeper into his skin, sniffing the air before him tentatively.

Before he knew it, the blond was twisting the unlocked doorknob and letting himself into the suite.

There was no evidence to the contrary, but Naruto had a feeling that not a drop of paint had adorned the walls since the Uchiha's had moved in. They were that same conformist white, a blank slate in which families could paint as they pleased. But these walls were still white. The floor was covered in lack-luster blue carpeting, cheap and also meant to be replaced. There were no photo frames on the walls. No TV in the living room, or what Naruto assumed to be the living room. There was a computer in the corner on a plain oak desk, but it was shut off. A two-seater sofa with an empty coffee table.

And, most importantly, only one pair of shoes by the door.

After sliding his own off and putting them next to the black loafers, Naruto slowly wondered through, looking around himself as he did. There was a short hallway. All three doors were shut. There was another spouting off to the side of the living room, also closed. Another door by the dining room where there sat a polished wooden table with only one chair, and no placemats. A large kitchen with many cabinets Naruto suspected were empty, an industrial-sized fridge, a dishwasher, lower cabinets, a toaster and microwave that looked like they'd come straight from the box mere seconds ago, and a booth with two built-in swivel chairs. One chair empty, the other full of sleeping boy with a collapsed head on the black marble surface.

Sasuke's face was turned away from him, but from the soft and steady rise and fall of his shoulders, Naruto could tell he was asleep. His normally orderly spikes (Naruto suspected copious amounts of hair gel to be at fault) were jumbled with bedhead. The black wife beater was a stark contrast to the usual immaculate white uniform shirt Naruto had always seen him in. He wore loose-fitting corduroy shorts and his feet were bare, curled where the toes met the floor.

Naruto had never noticed just how thin the guy was until now. They were at the age where they'd either started along with growth spurts or had to wait a year. Sasuke belonged to the former category, Naruto the latter. The raven-haired teenager was a good six inches taller than the blond, a definite advantage when it came to fighting.

But still… Tall or not, no one should be that skinny.

His arms were like wire, taught with thin muscle and not much else. His shirt folded into a concave stomach, and his knees were bony knobs, thin calves stretching too far to meet smallish feet. His skin looked too tight, too thin, to contain what it did. Naruto moved around to bend over the counter and peer at his closed eyelids, under which hung heavy purple pillows. Even his face, under such natural sunlight filtering in through the kitchen window, looked sunken, like a skull.

On vacation to the Bahamas with Iruka two summers ago, Naruto remembered, they'd visited a small tourist trap down a block from their resort. It sold old voodoo dolls, shrunken heads, and various other artifacts manufactured to break soon after purchase. There had been one, a bleached skull with a puff of the softest black hair he'd ever seen. But when he reached out to touch it, Iruka had smacked his hand away, muttered something about counterfeiters, and dragged him from the shop before he'd gotten the chance to touch.

And now, with no hand to stop him, Naruto's hand, unbidden, reached out to give it a feather-soft stroke from part to the nape of his neck, and his fingers recoiled as if snapped at by a viper.

It was so damn soft. It felt like the down of a feather. Feather light to the touch, silky and smooth even in its knotted state. Naruto couldn't resist the temptation to touch it again, this time with a little more pressure. It was like dry water, the strands stroking the rough pads of his fingertips as if they had a mind of their own.

Again and again, from bangs to nape, parting easily and making a fork of hair that smoothed straight down, except for the stubborn tufts that refused to stay down at the back. Mesmerizing. It was mesmerizing. And in the sun, it seemed to have an almost blue hue to it. Hypnotized by the texture and the quite, Naruto allowed his hip to settle against the counter as he continued to pet the boy he'd traded more fists with than words.

It was more curiosity. Like stopping time to inspect the blade that was a mere second from slitting your throat. To study the intricate hilt, to run hands against the cool, silken steel of the blade, to study the symmetry while looking at it point-blank.

But it was something else, too. Something akin to control. Like his soft touches put the roaring beast to this picture of immobility, of fragile marble. That control poured from his fingertips.

And then a cold hand reached out and snatched his wrist, leaving his digits sunken into disheveled hair. Blank black eyes glared up at him for a moment, the smooth obsidian enflamed with a heated, passionate rage usually reserved for their fights.

The grip on his wrist tightened momentarily before lapsing to a gentle hold, allowing the blond to escape with his hand still attached. Sasuke Uchiha regarded him warily before speaking.

Naruto expected shouts, several well-chosen and colorful words, followed by a punch in the face. What rolled from his enemy's lips, however, was complete and total gibberish. His eyes were calm now, and his lips set into a thin line. Naruto noticed, again, how thin Sasuke's face was. His and many of his friends still contained a small bit of baby fat left on their cheeks and chin, but Sasuke looked more like a sixteen-year-old than a kid fresh out of puberty.

The blond blinked. "What?" He took the chance to take several casual steps backward, elongating the diminutive space between them. Giving himself space to breathe, but the room seemed to be lacking in oxygen nonetheless.

Sasuke smirked and repeated himself. More slowly. Still gibberish. Belatedly, Naruto realized he was speaking Japanese.

"Do I look Japanese to you, dumb ass?" he snapped, crossing his arms over his chest and hiding the way his hands shook beneath his armpits. Maybe he hadn't noticed. Maybe he'd forgotten. The first few moments after waking up were always a blur, weren't they?

The corners of his lips twitched slightly on one side, cocking itself up to one side. "Your name," he said, voice heavily accented. The 'your' slurred to the end, like he had a bad lisp, making it sound more like "you'll name." But his tone was a deep baritone, perhaps from sleep. Or maybe he was just mature for his age. Or maybe he lied about his age altogether.

"What about it?" was his anti-climactic response, after several long moments of contemplating the odd accent. His guardian was Japanese, but had no living relatives for Naruto to hear the native tongue of. Iruka, while perfectly fluent in the language, neglected to teach Naruto a word of it.

"It Japanese, dumb fuck."

Oh. Yeah, it was.

"My guardian named me. So what?"

Sasuke snorted, mumbled something too quietly for Naruto to discern between the two languages, and pushed himself away from the table before standing. Naruto arched his neck slightly to stare and took another awkward step back. Ignoring him, Sasuke went to the fridge and opened it, pondering its contents for a moment before throwing over his shoulder, "Drink, dobe?"

"Huh? Dlin--oh, drink?"

"Isn't that what I asked?"

Naruto snorted. "Your accent sucks, by the way. Can't hear a fucking word you're saying."

Smirking quietly, Sasuke merely replied, "You get used to it."

Frowning, Naruto shrugged, not knowing what to make of that. Did he mean anyone could live with it, or was it just Naruto? Then Sasuke tossed him a orange can, and catching it, the blonde noticed it was a Fanta. "You like orange soda?"

Sasuke grunted, and the blond wondered if even understood what he said. He popped the metal tab and took a deep swig, clearing out the bad taste that had caked itself over his tongue. The sweetness was welcomed, but reacted badly to the sourness that came with a dry mouth. Naruto hadn't noticed when he'd tensed up, but quickly wrote it off as unimportant, taking another swallow. It was cold, and his palms weren't sweating as much anymore. The distilled air was quiet and fuzzy, full of an energy that Naruto had thus far never encountered in the outside world.

This seemed like a different realm entirely. The way the orange light made the air syrupy and sweet, the emptiness making him feel claustrophobic, the quiet murmur of a foreign voice.

It wasn't Naruto's world anymore. It belonged to….

Sasuke fished himself out a bottle of water, and Naruto caught a glimpse of the fridge's contents before the door could swing shut. There was a half-finished gallon of milk, a thing of eggs, a mesh bag full of tomatoes, and a handful of other things Naruto could have counted on one hand. It was so bare--too bare, from what he'd seen of others fridges.

Squishing down the niggling thought in the back of his head that his refrigerator looked very much the same, Naruto asked the question that was much more prominent in his mind at the moment. Something any sane person would have asked the moment they'd woken up to find a hated-rival hovering over them.

"Aren't you gonna ask why I'm here?"

"Hn." Sasuke took his time twisting off the cap of his water bottle, taking a heavy gulp and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand before saying, "Homework, right?"

"How'd you know?"

"Iruka-san is very thanking man," Sasuke said dismissively, but something in his tone twisted the compliment into a way that made it sound like being thoughtful was a bad thing. Which to the raven, Naruto thought, it probably was.

"You don't want to know how I got in here?"

Sasuke was definitely smirking now. "The door?" he said haughtily.

"Oh yeah!" Naruto sad the can of soda on the counter that he'd wondered over to. "Who the fuck leaves their doors wide open, anyway, huh? You're passed out on the table. Anyone could come right here and…"

"And what?" Sasuke whispered sardonically. "Pet me to death?"

Naruto's heart froze in place, and his stomach filled with sand as it dropped to the ground, making his knees stiffen to keep from buckling under his own weight.

Sasuke continued as if he'd said nothing out of the ordinary. "I have nothing here that would be any importance," he said in his strong accent, half the words flying over Naruto's head. "There is nothing here that any common thief will want." He cocked a slick black eyebrow. "Also, my door not 'wide open.' It shut. Most will knock."

"I did knock!" Naruto persisted. "Not my fault you didn't answer the door."

Sasuke waved his hand, dismissing the comment casually and settling himself against the refrigerator door.

More to fill in the abrupt silence than anything, Naruto asked, "When will your parents be home?"

"That is none of your business."

Naruto glared. "It was just a question, bastard. You don't have to answer if you don't want--"

"When will yours expect you home?" Sasuke cut him off, setting aside his bottle and looping his thumbs into the pockets of his shorts.

"I don't have 'parents'," Naruto snapped. "I have Iruka. And he expects me home whenever I drop this stuff off." Struck by the sudden thought, Naruto stooped down to his bag to retrieve the papers, to get this over with and get out. "Hold on, I have it right here." But when Naruto began to glance up, he saw a pair of feet right by his face. Looking up, Sasuke regarded him with cool obsidian eyes. "Hey, man, ever hear of personal space?"

Not only did Sasuke seem to not be able to grasp the concept, but the next moment, Naruto bag was sailing across the threshold and landing somewhere by the couch, courtesy of Sasuke's arm.

"Hey!" Naruto was back on his feet in a second, and a moment later had shoved Sasuke back a foot with his forearm, a knee-jerk reaction he'd grown accustomed to over the year. This was it. This was the invitation for a fight he's been unknowingly waiting for. His fists clenched before he struck one arm, pointing to hid fallen shoulder bag. "Go and get that."

Sasuke just stared at him, unfazed by the push. "No. I don't want the papers."

"I don't give a shit about the papers," Naruto snarled. "Go and get my freakin' bag."

"No," he repeated.

"Maybe you're hard of hearing, you stuck-up bastard, but I said…"

"I do not care what you said." A small pause, and Sasuke made an about face. "Why are you still here?"

"I'm still here so that I can give you your stupid make-up work because your lazy ass can't make its way into school! Just go and get my fucking bag so I can get out of here!" His arm dropped and mimicked the other in forming a threatening fist.

Sasuke snorted. "No. You don't want me to get that bag."

"I don't," Naruto repeated scathingly, sarcasm like heavy syrup drenching his words. "Then what is it I want, huh?"

Sasuke countered with an unrelated comment. "I've been expecting you to come here for while now." Naruto was too distracted by the fact that Sasuke was now moving towards the thrown bag to notice the oddness of his statement. "But really. I'd have never expected a homework excuse from you of all people…" His next few words were lost in a different language, and Naruto squinted in suspicion as Sasuke flipped open the bag to shuffle lethargically through the disorganized contents. The blond let him find the assignments on his own, remaining rooted to the spot. He felt that to go over would be awkward, that his place, for the moment, was to wait in shadow as Sasuke finally pulled out the leaflet of papers.

"Are these?" Sasuke waved them so they flapped gently from the current of thick air. Naruto nodded, noting in slight surprise he didn't feel even the smallest urge to correct the horrible English. Naruto's probably wasn't all that good anyway, and--

His train of though derailed abruptly as Sasuke tore the packet in two by the metal stable, and then, by papers in sets of twos and threes, ripped them to shreds and allowed them to flutter to the floor and scatter around his feet, under the sofa, through the legs of the chair….

Wide-eyed, Naruto could only watch as Sasuke gently discarded the bag by means of throwing it against the couch, where it gently rebounded from the high back and slumped over the couch cushion like a dead body.

"You appear to have lost the papers, Uzumaki-kun," Sasuke sneered, once again throwing the odd little phrase at the end of his name, as he did with most. "How thoughtless of you."

Words were only half-formed on the tip of his tongue, and slipping out of his rough lips too fast for him to piece together into coherent sentences. After garbling out nonsense that was neither English nor Japanese, his cheeks flushed red with rage. Iruka would blame him. The school would blame him. Somehow, the story would end up with him losing the papers down some sewers, or him spending the afternoon down at the arcade instead of making his promised delivery. Somehow, the bastard would make it so. Somehow, he could, and Naruto knew he would.

"You bastard." Deep breaths and a narrowing of cerulean eyes. "They're gonna blame me, ya know that? They're gonna fucking blame me you asshole." It didn't matter that insults made no difference. They made him feel better. His nails were painful as they dug rivets into his palms, but he couldn't cool himself down enough to unclench them.

Sasuke smirked and strode forward, cocking his head to the side like the perfectly pampered little dick he was and Naruto wanted to shoot a hole through that corner of his mouth that seemed to stay permanently suspended over the other corner, seeing that pale face hovering and looming over his. The condescending, smart-ass, mother-fucking ape shit bastard that….

Really had no idea what personal space was. Naruto lurched back as Sasuke weaved through the thick air towards him, leaving him little space and time to formulate a proper punch or kick. As he stumbled backwards, he lost track of distance and found a fist curled in his collar and a counter digging deep into his spine. His back arched unpleasantly, and almost instantly the vague feeling of warmth settled in, followed by pins and needles. More startling than the oncoming pain, however, was the way Sasuke's right thumb was slowly tracing the collar of his white linen school shirt.

When Naruto looked up from that hand to that pair of eyes, a realization dawned on him.

He wasn't as stupid as he looked. Playing dumb was always easier than acting smart. He was somewhere in that go-between, and choosing the latter just made his life easier. And it sounded funny to be called a dumb ass, as opposed to insulting when called a smart ass.

It was all in his own series of logics, and right now, his logic pointed to one thing.

Fighting wasn't enough anymore.

It wasn't enough?

One could get used to taking the hits, he supposed. You could train the body to remove pain from the conscious. Was this the new plan, then? Discomfort? Or was the raven just too lazy to throw a decent punch his way? Or was the threat of an able hand so close to his neck such a paralyzing threat that Sasuke assumed Naruto would be wary of it?

He wasn't wary. He wasn't even nervous. But he was very uncomfortable. But ignorance had to be called bliss for some reason..

"How'd you know I was coming?" was his genius question. It seemed to stump Sasuke for a moment, anyway. The taller boy frowned for a fraction of a moment, debating on whether or not to stay under the false pretense that Naruto was playing dumb or he honestly had shown up as a favor to his teacher. He pressed his fingers against his collarbone with the slightest application of pressure. Naruto didn't so much as blink. But when he shifted his thumb to rest on the skin of his throat, the blond couldn't rein in the tiniest flinch of his eyes.

Seemingly satisfied with this, Sasuke replied, "You would have found excuse sooner or later. And this is perfect one." Silence. "I'm moving," Sasuke hissed impatiently, seeing no spark of enlightenment cross his features. "I leave at end of the week."

"Mr Uchiha is still attending school?"

Suddenly, the words had gained a whole new meaning.

School. School. Still attending school.

I'm moving.

Still attending school?

At end of the week.

Of course he was leaving, Naruto thought. It made perfect sense. Sasuke was too special to be at this school. Not special, per say, but different. Too restricted by the language barrier. Too dark, too quiet, too anti-social to even fit in with the misfits. He glared too often and was impassive even more. He showed emotion only when in a brawl, and even then so guarded he looked half-ready to run. He was too mature for his peers, and too mature for the teachers to properly handle. Too cocky, but with such a shadowed and jealous look he shot at other students one would wonder how thick his mask was.

And that one was only Naruto. How sad.

When Sasuke's forefinger found a gentle path from the hollow of his throat to his Adam's apple, Naruto shifted back a bit. Perturbed that whole charade had gone a notch above unacceptable, he said the first words that came to mind. "Good riddance." And watched as the hand slowly slipped down his chest to hang by the owners hip.

Sasuke stared at him with the first dumb expression ever to be witnessed on his noble face. Then it slid to disapproval, with a small trace of disappointment. Then understanding, and finally, the smug look that Naruto knew so well slid right back over his face like the pointer of a compass to North.

Like it belonged there. Another reason he hated the raven. As if he needed another.

And when the bastard started laughing. And when his knuckles started itching, so badly that as he clenched his fists he felt he could only bite at the flesh to tear out the sting or hit something.

He chose the reasonable of the two, and the feeling of hard bone cracking against his hand was a instantaneous satisfaction. Well worth the after-ache, and whatever punishment came his way.

The Uchiha had stumbled back several steps, and Naruto was pleased to see that he'd stop laughing. His head was bent, as he wiped the back of his hand against his lip, and then pulled it away to inspect the smear as if he'd never seen blood before. Blatant shock was mirrored in every one of his actions, and yet when he looked up, his gaze was settled and calm as he said, "You hit me."

"You deserved it. Don't laugh at me, retard. People are gonna think you're a psycho… Your mask'll slip, Uchiha."

"Mask," he echoed blankly. "Do I look like I wear a mask, Uzumaki?"

The automatic 'yes' caught in his throat as, upon closer inspection, Naruto noticed something slightly off in Sasuke's expression. He'd picked up his guardians annoying knack for pestering people to show true colors. That blending in was cowardice, and standing out was a birth-given liberty meant to be executed at every point in a person's life. That one exception stood in front of him now. A frightening mixture of misunderstanding and superiority twisted his features. His black eyes were slightly wider, and the way they were sat in his sallow face with its white complexion made him look demonically handsome, twisting his already harsh features and making them too perfect, better meant for a hand-drawn creature in a graphic novel or computer-generated villain from a movie.

The look on his face was like a maniac. A quiet maniac gently coaxing his victim backwards until they embedded their own selves on the knife propped up behind him.

Sasuke spit a glob of blood at the ground by Naruto's feet, and a sickening feeling told the shorter boy that that spot was the least of the blood stains that would ruin the carpet. And he was afraid of who would spill the most.

No. He was just afraid it would be him. Because it undoubtedly would be if he didn't get out. Now.

"You are safe in here."

A lie if Naruto had ever heard one. Sasuke stood five feet from him now, and he was slowly closing in with measured steps. Slowly, like a dancer, he treaded across the generic carpet, piercing eyes reminding Naruto that the exit was behind him, and Naruto would have to go through him to get to it.

"Safe from what?" he asked.

Sasuke had the nerve to roll his eyes, shake his head, and call him something undoubtedly insulting in Japanese before demanding, "Stop hiding."

"I'm not hiding Don't know what you think I'm even hiding from."

"And stop lying," he added. And then, "I know why you are here."

"Yeah. To give your crazy ass your fucking homework, which you tore up, idiot face, and I am not taking the blame for that."

"I know you're not here for the homework. You've never done well in school anyway. Why care to deliver homework when you not even complete your own?"

Naruto, who'd inched himself forward a few inches, was no grappling along the counter, sliding sideways and eyeing the wall over Sasuke's shoulder. The door. He had to get to the order. Any other day he'd love good brawl, but only when there was a back door. Not here, not in his house. His house.

He had to get out.

Sasuke was losing his understanding look and raised a curious eyebrow, frowning slightly now in confusion. He didn't understand, but to be fair, neither did Naruto.

Clearing his throat, the blond forced out, "I think there's been a mistake."

"There has been no mistake," Sasuke hissed. "I know why y-"

"No, I really think you don't," Naruto cut in. "I don't have a clue what you think I'm doing here, but I'm just here as a favor. Iruka couldn't find anyone else, so he sent me, all right? You don't want the papers, I get it, fine. Could've just said so. I came, I delivered, I'm leaving." He took a deliberate step forward, but paused in the action of taking a second.


Fuck, he'd never seen anyone look so angry before.

He hissed Japanese through gritted teeth, and it reminded Naruto strongly of a cobra's hiss he'd heard before while watching Animal Planet. Then the snake had struck the guy who'd been dangling him from his arm with bared fangs. And as entertaining as it was then, that certainly did not apply now. Hs feet spread apart slightly, ready for a fight if need be, Naruto asked, "What did you think I was here for, huh?" He had a hunch, but it was so far out of the realm of sanity he couldn't dare voice it without either cracking up or getting a wicked punch to the gut.

But that look Sasuke was giving him…

The raven narrowed his eyes to slits of thin obsidian. "Do you think this all funny?" he growled. "You think it joke?" Naruto couldn't even find his English funny anymore. Now, for the first time in a very long many years, Naruto was starting to feel the slightest bit afraid.

"Well, you're obviously not laughing," Naruto breathed. He then attempted a sneer, but it came more of a spastic twitch before his lips fell flat again.

There was a long, quiet silence in which neither of them spoke. Sasuke was breathing slightly heavily as if he'd done a few rounds around the apartment, and Naruto could hardly breath at all. What had Sasuke wanted? What had he expected?

What did he want now?

Naruto didn't know what Sasuke said next. It was a lowly-spoken hiss of Japanese, a short sentence the blond didn't have the time to pick apart, couldn't guess its contents from his rival's face, before Sasuke attacked.

When Naruto went into a home other than his own, the first thing that struck him was the smell. It was the smell of that person, only many times more potent, and surrounding him in a thick current. That particular, distinctive scent of all those people combined with all of their possessions, their plants, their animals, the laundry detergent they used, the food they cooked, bundled into one that he'd get used after half an hour. But he couldn't smell his own home, smell his own scent, or taste his own taste. It was as part of him as his own flesh and bone.

Sasuke had drunk water after being passed out on the counter for who-knew-how long. Was this his real taste? Untainted by foreign substances? Because Naruto would swear on every grave of every person he'd lived long enough to watch die, on every grave he'd ever have to visit, that he would never in his life get used to that taste, that smell of the other's boys skin that was abruptly shoved under his nose.

Kissing Sasuke was like swallowing ash.

But it would have been a lie to call it a kiss. It was a pair of cool, chapped lips scraping clumsily along his, sharp canines biting in every now and then. It was a thin, slimy tongue slithering into his mouth and thrusting past his teeth, roaming where it pleased. It was a large hand pinching at the junctures of his jaw with bruising force. It was the blond crying out from the ascending pain of it, and disgust as his mouth was pried and kept open by greedy fingers. It was his fist that had escaped Sasuke's other hand that beat against the boy's chest, and when the raven pressed closer, it was Naruto pulling at his hair. It was Sasuke hissing in pain before pulling back, releasing Narutos jaw before capturing the other hand that was still buried in hair the blond had once marveled as so soft. It was large hands snaking around his wrists before the other pinched his jaw and continued his not-a-kiss. It was the raven with an air of trying to do something he'd seen so often, but couldn't quite pull off, so he tried harder.

The taste was heavy and disturbing. It wasn't unpleasant, but reminiscent of what Naruto imagined he'd taste if he licked under the grate of his fireplace, or the cinders left from collapsed coals. The pleasant, woodsy smell they gave off. He tasted like that.

Naruto never wanted to see another fire in his life.

The way his head was forced back made it hard to breathe, and his face went lax as his mind swayed to and fro, not processing the present, still stuck in the not-too-distant past when they were glaring, but had a reasonable distance between the two. His mind was stuck at a bump, the present waving itself tantalizingly over his conscious.

Sasuke slipped his tongue back into his own mouth, kissed Naruto's lower lip, then the top, and drew back. A faint gleam of triumph entered his eyes at the glazed look on the shorter boy's face.

"I knew it," he whispered, warm breath laving his captive's face. "I knew you felt the same." He released Naruto's face, curved his hand below the jaw, cupping it tenderly before leaning forward to plant a chaste kiss on the other's mouth. When Naruto didn't respond, Sasuke took it as in incentive to deepen it. Without hesitancy, he plunged inside once more, letting his eyes flutter shut, a deep rumble of approval growing at the back of his throat.

When his wrists were freed, when a hand nestled itself on his hip, Naruto snapped. And bit down, hard, tasting bitter copper ruining the flavor of ash. Like drinking orange juice after just brushing his teeth, it tasted vile and made him flinch, but he held on until Sasuke himself jerked back.

They found themselves in another standoff, now with a mere three feet of distance between their heaving bodies. Both with expressions of pure shock. Of violence, of betrayal.

And that, Naruto thought, crosses the line.

"What," he whispered slowly, "is wrong with you?" It was a serious question, deserving of a serious answer. He didn't understand, and half of him didn't want to. This was insane. Sasuke wasn't serious. There was something wrong with his head. His brain was fucked up in one or two ways and that was why…

His lips began to tingle and his jaw began to ache as Sasuke slowly spoke. "I thought…"

When he didn't finish, Naruto finished for him, "Whatever you thought was wrong, okay? I don't--I mean-- Dude, c'mon, I don't… swing that way, all right? Don't know where you got the wrong impression but I'll set it clear for you, okay? Right now?"

Sasuke didn't seem to be listening. He was murmuring something under his breath. The blond distinctly heard the words 'lead me on' thrown into the mix, and couldn't help himself from shouting, "Lead you on? What in the flying fuck gave you that idea, dickface? I've done nothing to you! Nothing with you, hell, we fight, idiot! We don't… don't kiss or shit like that! We don't fucking flirt, for God's sake! I'm not gay, all right?"

"This entire year…" His voice was distant, shallow, unbearably heart-breaking. Somehow, in the matter of less than a minute, Naruto Uzumaki had gone from victim to villain. This didn't set well with him, and sank heavily to the bottom of his gut. "This whole year…"

"What did you think it was?" Naruto asked hoarsely. "Violent foreplay? Gimmie a break! Look, I don't even like you, so just…"

Like a two-ton hammer, a fist collided with his stomach and he found himself doubled over as pain clutched him in a terrifyingly lethal grasp, breath choked from his lungs one gasp at a time. It was the hardest Sasuke had ever hit him, and Naruto realized with a reluctant realization that the raven had always been holding back on his behalf. Sasuke watched as he hobbled backwards, sifting his weight to rest on the counter as he clutched his aching abdomen. Glassy black eyes met his with an eerie, angry calm, waiting for the blond to catch his breath. When the blond finally did, and straightened his posture, readying his body for another attack, Sasuke took the final step in closing the distance between them, locking their bodies into a tight fit. His arms trapped Naruto's by his sides and he leaned forward so that the tips of their noses touched. Sasuke's skin was too warm, the blond noticed, and a pink hue outlined the root of his hair. Maybe the boy was sick. Hopefully, Naruto prayed, he was sick, sick, sick.

"You. Lead. Me. On," Sasuke stated slowly, annunciating each word with perfect clarity to as Naruto could understand perfectly, although he didn't understand at all. Not one bit.

"No. I. Didn't," he bit out.

"What is it you wanted from me, then?" Sasuke asked. "A friend?" He emphasized the word in disgust, as if the very idea of it repulsed him. "A rival? I can be that, if you like. I always be there to beat you," he said this so matter-of-factly that it made the nausea in Naruto's stomach boil unpleasantly. "I always be here." His warm, cindery breath fanned across Naruto's mouth, and he had to stop what he knew would come soon. "I be what you want if you be what I want, ne?"

"That's the problem, bastard," Naruto retorted. "I don't want anything from you. Not a single damn thing. Now let me the Hell go."

Sasuke snorted. "Wrong again, dumbfuck."

His hand snaked up and snapped a fistful of golden spikes, and Naruto hissed as his head was yanked back. A strong arm instantly circled behind his back, pinioning both arms to the blond's sides.

His skin erupted into goosebumps as the Uchiha blew a gentle breath across his collarbone. "Wrong, Uzumaki. Everybody wants something." Naruto felt a warm, slightly damp pair of lips press tightly into his skin.

"Everyone wants something," he repeated, mostly to himself it sounded. "It's only fair that one of us gets what we want. And since you apparently want nothing…"

Finally comprehending the whispered words, Naruto snarled, "Wait a minute, you asshole! Don't you--What the Hell do you think you're doing!?"

The blonde watched Sasuke's dark head of hair bob up and down, side-to-side, as harsh lips viciously attacked his neck, along with a pair of sharp incisors and a hot, wet tongue. He started on the right side, licking and biting his way from the lobe down to his collarbone. "Sasuke, stop!" He sucked small bits of skin before clamping down with harsh bites, pushing against the bruised skin with his rough tongue, lapping warm trails over flesh. His body also began to move to a suffocating close proximity. "Knock the fuck off, get the hell off of me!" He pulled at Naruto's waist until the boy fumbled, his lower back now balanced as his feet struck out to keep himself from falling. Sasuke's body pressed him down tightly, legs tucked snugly between the blonds to prevent any kicking. "Let me go!"

"Bastard," Naruto hissed. "I don't want anything, but I definitely do not want this!"

"You shouldn't have lead me on, then," Sasuke returned before opening his mouth wider to leave a large bite mark on the column of Naruto's neck. The blond bit back a startled response, biting his abused lip and try to lean further back. Sasuke's lips latched onto his neck and followed his body's movements.

"The kids at school are right," Sasuke finally declared, face still hidden, but venom lacing his voice. "This your fault, you know. You shouldn't let it this far. All your fault," and a short string of Japanese syllables. And then, hissed do low Naruto had to strain his ears to hear it, "You truly are a monster."

Stunned into silence, Naruto slumped against the edge of the counter. And as Sasuke tilted his head to the right for easier access, Naruto began to wonder at the irony of it. It wasn't just his heritage and apparent nonchalance to the world around him that made Sasuke different. It was the way he looked at Naruto. That bitter hatred, that arrogance over having beaten him, the pain when the blonde landed a punch, the reluctant approval on the rare occasion Naruto came out on top. It was acceptance, almost. Acknowledgement.

To find someone who acknowledged him outside of family, outside of a person who was forced to sleep under the same roof as he, was something the blond had always wanted. It was in a different form, but always what he wanted.

'Everyone wants something.'

But why realize it now, he wondered. More importantly, was this kind of want that same acknowledgement? Sick, twisted, perverted, but it was a want all the same. Sasuke wanted Naruto.

Naruto wanted something different. This he did not want. And when he felt struggling fingers beginning to pick at the first button of his shirt, he rammed his chin down onto the Uchiha's head. The motion cause ringlets of pain to spiral through his jaw, but nonetheless got the desired grunt of pain.

"Stop it," the Uchiha murmured, as if to a five-year-old tugging on his shirt sleeve. But he abandoned Naruto's neck in favor of giving the shirt more attention, managing to slide the first button through its hole and worked on the second, gaining speed quickly as his hand trailed down. Naruto's captive hands curled into tight fists, wrenching this way and that, Sasuke's hand allowing minimal motion. Words choked and died before they could leave Naruto's mouth. What did he say in such a situation. To stop it, like a little girl. To curse him off, like the small child he felt like. The raven towered over him like an adult, a teacher, who was doing what he thought was right.

Sasuke finished the last button, and wasted no time in bringing both Naruto's hands behind his back, lacing strong fingers around them before whipping his shirt down and off his shoulders. The blond's face was pressed against a pale neck, warm and slightly sticky with anticipatory sweat, while the Uchiha worked to bind his wrists with the crisp white cloth. He struggled to open his aching jaw, and when he could, bit harshly. Sasuke hissed, but otherwise didn't halt in his ministrations. When finished, he yanked his head back, glaring slightly before smirking a triumphant sneer. Cerulean eyes stared back up.

"Do you even know what you're doing?" Naruto snapped.

"I know what I'm doing to do," Sasuke sneered in return before looping his index finger through the belt loop of his school trousers and pulling back, slowly and firmly, causing Naruto's feet to slide across the floor. His socks offered little help as the balls of his feet grappled to find purchase on the carpet.

"You fucker, watch it! I'm fall--"


Naruto groaned heavily, dots marring his vision, head pounding from where it had cracked against the wooden paneling of the countertop. He slumped against it, neck crooked, arms twisted painfully behind him. His fingers were starting to numb, and he briefly wondered if there'd be welts. He also wondered how the carpet had went from blue to neon purple, and how there were so many lights on the ceiling when the room was so dank with dying light as the afternoon passed them by. He wondered when Iruka would start to become concerned. He wondered if the police would get involved, or already were. He wondered how long he'd been here. An hour, or two, or a week? He wondered when, if, Sasuke would decide to let him go. And he wondered how far Sasuke was going to take this.

He lay there, dizzy with overbearing exhaustion and frustration. Sasuke was fumbling with something in the kitchen, but he couldn't tell what. Opening drawers, opening cabinets, opening something that made hinges squeak. He allowed himself to slump down further, his white undershirt riding up slightly. His pants buckle felt too loose, like he'd lost twenty pounds since that morning, and his toes felt sweaty in their shoes.

A pair of bare feet came into view. He trailed his eyes. Sasuke was, if possible, even skinner than he'd looked before. His chest was broad, but feeble looking. His hips were narrow, his waist slim, and pale skin still undaunted by black wiry hairs. The naked shoulders, bony and white, met with a neck, and atop that a highly-strung head with a smug-looking expression on its face.

He approached slowly. It was then that Naruto saw what was in his hands. One was odd; a bottle of what looked like extra virgin olive oil, golden in its intricate glass bottle. The other was terrifying; a gleaming, sharp steak knife, hardly the length of his hand but with enough point to make up for its diminutive size.

That's it, Naruto thought. That's it. He's fucking insane.

When the blond told him so, loudly and angrily, Sasuke just sunk to his knees before him, one leg between Naruto's spread ones. He placed the mysterious bottle to the side, and to Naruto's dread kept the knife.

"You crazy bastard," Naruto whispered. His throat hurt too much to keep on yelling. "The fuck do you think you're doing? This is illegal, you motherfucking dip shit, illegal/ They're going to rag your pasty little ass behind bars and I'm going to laugh you sick fuck and--"

"It fine to talk," Sasuke interceded gently, not an ounce of hurt appearing in his fierce eyes. "Words," he scoffed. "They all you have, now." Then he raised the knife to level with wide blue eyes, keeping it there for a long moment for affect, before gently tapping it against an unblemished cheek. Naruto flinched. He dragged it down lightly, with just enough pressure to pose as a threat, but not enough to leave a mark. The blond held deathly still. He slowly slid it down Naruto's threat, and the small boy held his breath until it had cleared his collar. He felt the cold top of it slip over his shoulder until it was removed. The Uchiha's hand lifted to grab hold of one of his wife beater's straps, slid the knife under it, and jerked it upwards, splitting the fabric cleanly in two.

Naruto watched helplessly as Sasuke repeated the motion with the other sleeve, and then brought the knife point back to the center of his chest. Sasuke lifted the shirt slightly to slice a neat notch in it before putting the knife aside. He grabbed a side of shirt in each hand and in one deft motion, ripped the shirt clear off him.

Naruto was too busy watching the knife to pay attention to Sasuke's face. As soon as he'd placed the weapon aside, beside the bottle of oil, the other hand was grasping his face again, fingers digging into his cheeks and finding the spots along the jaw that had already been worked into painful tenderness. Naruto cried out quietly before warm lips smothered his again.

It was more of a kiss this time than an assault. Sasuke took time to alternately press his lips against Naruto's slightly open ones, to lightly flick his tongue out to taste him. He smoothly ran his mouth over his captives, shifting his body to a better angle. He gripped Naruto's hip, thumb hooking through the belt loop and tugging him down until he lay flat on his back. Sasuke followed, never detaching his lips from Naruto's, continuing to let his tongue grow bolder until the kiss grew just as vicious as before.

When Sasuke did draw away, he did so reluctantly. He feebly bit down on Naruto's lower lip before he looked him in the eye.

Naruto waited a moment to recapture his breath before spitting in his face.

Sasuke took the time to wipe it off with his thumb before backhanding him with just as much force as the punch to the gut earlier. When the raven leaned back down for another stolen kiss, he rearranged his body to fit it better along Naruto's.

It could not have lasted more than three minutes, but it seemed to stretch much longer than that. The blond's shoulder blades and arms burned, but he could hardly feel them anymore. He found his peak before Sasuke, crashing himself upwards one last time before collapsing. The boy continued to move as if possessed for ten more grueling seconds, in which the horrifying realization of what he'd just participated in came crawling back, bruising both their bodies, before he grunted and dropped downwards, suffocating Naruto with his weight.

It wasn't white. It wasn't blinding. His climax didn't bring the that bright light his previous attempts at masturbation had brought him. This one was shared, and demented somehow. Tainted, dirty with sin, but intoxicatingly pleasurable. It was almost… the color blinding his sight, the color he saw when he closed his eyes was…

Sasuke shifted above him. His arms felt bruised and stretched, and his shoulders were sore with rug burn. He knew that by now his neck must look like a plum and the bastard was gonna pay for it, this had to be all sorts of illegal, this was disgusting and disturbing and had felt too good for it to have been right.

Sasuke was sitting back down, sitting on his haunches to survey the damage below him. With one hand he absently ran his palm over Naruto's stomach, not yet completely flat, still shiny with perspiration.

"You really should lose this weight," he murmured. "You still are a child, aren't you?"

"'m fourteen," Naruto ground out, too tired to reply with a proper comeback. "That's not a child."

"Close enough." Sasuke seemed to pause. "I'm sixteen."

Naruto just glared up at him, unfazed by this new piece of information. It wasn't that much of a shock; they guy looked way too old to be stuck with their class, anyway.

"I was held back few years when I came to America," Sasuke informed him.

"I have bad breath in the morning," Naruto replied sarcastically, "since it's apparently show and tell time."

Sasuke ignored the snipe. "Don't you want know why I came here?"

Yes. "No." Naruto shifted, trying to find a place to rest against where his arms wouldn't hurt. "I want to know when you go back."

"I'm not," Sasuke said coolly. "This was temporary home."

"Do I care?"

"Do you?"

"No." Naruto sighed, ignoring the slightly pained look on his rival's face. "Look, I won't tell anyone what you did today, okay? We can just let it drop and forget about it. You can go off to some fancy city that'll tend to every one of your pissy gay needs and I'll rot away here in peace. Deal?"

"I've never done anything like this before," Sasuke admitted slowly, as if Naruto had asked. He pressed his other hand to the boy's chest when he began to prop himself on his elbows, gently pushing him back down. "I always wanted my first time to be with you," he continued, as if nothing had happened. "It's shitty… cliché… but true."

"Yeah, well, you want too much."

Naruto had to had bipolarity to the growing list of trends he'd picked up in Sasuke's warped personality. His hands went from gentle, soothing motions to gripping tightly at one bruised hip and the conjunction between his neck and shoulder.

"You think you are free of that accusation, you do?" Sasuke murmured, eyes like black ice. "'Stop Sasuke,' 'Get off Sasuke,' 'Let me go Sasuke,'" he whispered. "You want too much. You expect patience while you make up your mind. You expect everything you want from me while I receive nothing."

"There's nothing to make my mind up about!" Naruto cut in, alarmed. "I told you I didn't want it and you didn't lis--"

Sasuke cut him off again. "Your body, your heart, are completely different. And it isn't fair to not give me both." He narrowed his eyes. "It all or nothing, dobe. Which?"

"N--ahh!" He thrashed his head, no longer sure of the answer himself. His mind felt clouded by the building sexual tension, by the desire to feel more, from another boy nonetheless, to get more, to have more, to take whatever Sasuke would let him have, to take more than he could handle.

"Very well."

Whatever Sasuke thought he'd just gotten permission for, he was very much mistaken. He swung his foot up and jerked it forward, into the other boys chest. He heard a slight wheeze as the wind was knocking from the raven's lungs, but he lurched back only an inch or two before capturing the blond's ankle and pushing it forward. Naruto felt his knee lock as he struggled not to be pushed all the way back. The position was too awkward for him to struggle back and he bit at the gag binding his mouth in frustration. His eyes felt hot and watery, his throat like stretched rubber. A gurgling erupted from his mouth and game out as a muffled, undignified whimper. He shifted on his painful arms, but the position he was forced into left one knee almost to his chest and the other hooked around Sasuke's hip, held there by another hand. He glared the best he could, and slowly, that hand began to move.

"Please!" he tried to shout through the cloth, but it came out as a low-sounding, "Aaaiee!" The sound was so feeble he doubted Sasuke had heard it. Even if the older teen did, however, he made no move to stop his ministrations. All the while he stared into wide cerulean eyes with his lusting ones, watching as they finally began to brim over, searching for any sigh of enjoyment, any trace of acceptance. All he found was fear.

Because Naruto was finally starting to feel it. The realization of hopelessness, and the fact that right now, Sasuke could, and would, do whatever he wanted with him. For once, the blond wouldn't get a say.

It was frightening, bone-chilling and frustrating. He had that familiar sensation when he was in a nightmare, where no matter the circumstance it felt like he was being torn from his life. Torn from his dreams and aspirations, from Iruka, from his family, that everything would change and he'd never see any of it again. The feeling where he knew it was a dream, but couldn't find it in himself to find a way out.

Now was no different.

His vision was badly blurred and his lips trembled with the effort to keep from sobbing. He couldn't stop the tears now, and the dripped freely down his cheeks. Sasuke didn't seem to mind. In fact, he seemed delighted to an extent. With a small smile on his lips, he drew his hand up to cup Naruto's cheek.

"It's all right to cry," Sasuke assured him. "It is greatest honor to have someone cry for you."

I'm not crying for you! Naruto thought frantically. I'm crying because of you, you idiot! You're scaring me! You got what you wanted, I'm terrified! You scare me shitless! You're done, I'm scared enough!

I'm terrified.


Sasuke sighed heavily, his hips slowing shifting, and then he fell quiet and still, collapsing on top of Naruto. Their twin sets of heavy breathing were uneven and loud, now the only sound in the room. The sun had finally set, and the walls were masked with dirty orange. The windows were open, and a chill racked Naruto's body. But he kept on trembling, and could no longer blame it on the cold.

There was a pause, as if Sasuke were uncertain of what to do with himself, before he collapsed to Naruto's right side. The blond's head had been laying to angle towards his left, and with the way his neck ached, he knew it would be only beneficial for it to move a bit. But it was too painful now.

And he knew, just knew, if he saw any trace of bliss, any pleasant expression, on Sasuke's face, he would break.

The raven was untying his hands now, with what felt like only one hand. Their frantic movements from before has lessened his restraints, and Naruto probably could have released himself without too much effort if he wanted. For now, he was content to let the other boy do it. When his arms slid to the ground, he wondered f they'd roll right off; white hot pins and needles digging and scraping his joints. They were too giant, long bruises, held on by ligaments that felt like they housed hot magma. It was altogether too painful, altogether soul crushing.

Then Sasuke undid the gag. At first it choked him further as he pulled, but then it slumped like a dead snake to the floor, stretched and damp. It was Sasuke's shirt, Naruto realized, before he took a deep gasp of air like he'd been denied it for days. At first he choked, like he swallowed too big a lump of food or a drink had gone down the wrong pipe, and the exhale was shaky. His next breath he choked on as well, several times, and it came out in a low, whistling gasp. He choked and gagged on the air like it was toxic, and his lungs felt swollen, deprived of oxygen, he'd run a million mile race and a bag had been tied over his face and he couldn't get enough air.

Naruto didn't realize the choking on air was actually a series of wrenching sobs until he felt a warm, rough hand begin to trace soft circles over his shoulder blades. That made him cry harder. He tried to move away, to shrivel away, but the mere motion sent bolts of pain racing up his spine like lightning, causing his whole body to burn. He felt broken already, physically broken, he could smell the blood and feel it drying on his thighs with Sasuke's semen. That blood came from somewhere, and he knew it wasn't from the older boy.

But when Sasuke shifted to wrap an arm around his waist, and a body spooned him from behind, he felt entrenched in ice despite the rigid warmth, the hot and sticky remains of sweat and blood. There was truly no air now and he cried harder than he'd ever cried in his life. It was like being born again, from something pure to some worthless, broken, filthy possession. Some dirty, tainted, disgusting vermin and what he wouldn't give to die.

The crying, the countless tears running down his sweaty cheeks, and the way his body shook didn't make him feel less a boy, less a man. No, he'd gone far beyond that. Sasuke's stripped him of everything now, including his humanity.

He didn't feel human anymore.

He didn't speak until he managed to finally calm himself down, and that in itself took longer than the actual act. Sasuke waited with baited patience, every now and then run a hand over his hip or his chest, or run fingers through his knotted hair. He felt lips latch onto the skin at the back of his neck, on his shoulders, the shell of his ear, the curve of his jaw. Half of him found it natural, the gentle caresses smoothing out the broken pieces of him after such a harsh and violent act. It was the smooth sandpaper after the iron file had shaved him down to his core, a cooling salve placed around his pounding heart. The other half, he figured, anyone would have felt.

Every pore was bleeding. Every breath brought him closer and closer to vomiting, adding to the mess on his skin already. That half was crying and crying, getting louder and louder with each past second. It was like the rape was the eye of the storm. Once it had blown over, now Naruto had was himself to face. And what a self it was.


He'd never felt this way before, and knew he never would. How could a life ever grow this dark? How could he ever get clean? Would his and Sasuke's essence ever wash out of his skin? Would that soul-eating pain working its way from the bottom up ever ease up? Would his eyes ever stop burning, would his throat ever stop turning itself out as he choked down waves of nausea? Would the bruises fade, or would they remain yellow smears on his skin forever? Would he ever be able to shower, to bathe, without resisting the urge to scratch off every follicle of skin? Would he ever be able to kiss someone without wondering when the fire would turn saliva to grisly ash?

And would those dark eyes ever fade from his memory?

He'd stopped crying now and lay quite still. So did Sasuke. So quiet, so still, suspended in time as they were the blond had to wonder when it was that he'd fallen asleep. Or, more correctly, he began to doze. His eyelids fluttered like shutters in the midst of a heavy storm, and his heart went from too fast to too slow. He wasn't aware of whether his breathing was louder than the others or now, but it didn't feel right. Like this was another world his lungs had yet to adapt to the air of. There was a distinct barrier, now, between him and the rest of the world he'd left barely an hour before. Already he felt different.

He wasn't human.

Sasuke was murmuring something again, he realized belatedly. He thought of turning his head a bit to hear better, but decided that it was too much effort. He wondered if Sasuke had changed, too. If he would look at his reflection into those eyes like black ice and see something different than the image that had stared at him in the mirror that morning. His insides had rearranged, and his heart had, metaphorically, stopped beating. It had yet to restart.

And he didn't want to see Sasuke. Not now, not ever. He wanted to turn around and see thin air. He wanted to wait a few minutes before dragging on his clothes to stumble out the door and act like the luckiest survivor of an act of gang violence. Although he might have fared better with a gang. The gang could only rearrange his face, not his whole existence, like one sixteen-year-old with only a loose grasp on the English language could.

"Naruto," Sasuke was saying, his tongue slipping the 'r' into an 'l'. "Naruto. Naruto…? Naruto!"

Stop. Stop saying my name.

"Are you listening me?:

I wish I were able not to. What did he want? What more could he want?

How much more can you break me before you're satisfied?

"Are you all right?"

He'd never felt less all right in his entire life.

Sasuke was shifting again, and hands returned to his body. He was too exhausted to suppress the flinch that shook his whole body. The dark-haired youth didn't seem to mind. Grasping one shoulder and one hip, he drew Naruto to lay on the side, where he paused at the sharp gasp of pain. Then he was gently coaxed to lay on his back where he lay panting, eyes squinting but no longer closed. Sasuke was one of the last things he needed to see, but even worse than that was the dark. He didn't want to be closed in by darkness now, not when he was surrounded by so many blind spots, as vulnerable to attack as he was right now.

He saw the older boy's outline first, a halo of glowing light separating him from the rest of the world, the rest of this frightening world Naruto had stumbled into by accident. Then he saw those eyes, thick ribbons of concern reeling in them like an old film strip and contradicting everything he'd done up until this point. And although he couldn't see his reflection in those eyes, he did see the way Sasuke looked at him. It was like he was a toy; a toy he'd just purchased, only to break it after the first afternoon of play, and was now determined to fix it before his parents came home to find it broken n pieces upon their floor.

"Do-I-," some muttered Japanese, "I didn't meant--I didn't want--to-- that to you…" He stuttered and stumbled, forgetting his lines, seemingly trying to convey with his eyes what his mouth had obvious problems with. "I… don't know what was over me…."

Naruto couldn't say anything, or move his mouth into a frown or a grimace. He doubted if he could even cry anymore. His tear ducts must have been dry and barren by now, all their hard labor drying in salty tracks across his face. He couldn't help but think, in his numb state, where his voice had gone to. He longed to rip into the boy above him with every single insult in his living memory, and then some. He wanted to ask, to demand, how Sasuke could thing an "I didn't mean to" could solve a single thing.

Sasuke's thumb stroked over the edge of his eye, and then ran through his hair tenderly. His face begin to waver less, and he could see a fierce look in those eyes. Naruto could recognize anger in the blink of an eye, but found himself dumbfounded under that stare, unable to identify even a single emotion that was reigning through his companion, that made him look like he had a dozen swords stuck in his back and digging deeper every second.

"Do… you need anything?" he was asking softly. "I--" He faltered, leaning back, then leaned forward, and then back an inch or two. His pale, bony shoulders still shimmered with sweat. "I'll go get you something… Do you need lie down? You can go my bed, or--or--you can lea--" the last word stuck in his mouth and went unfinished. "How about a drink? I can get you a drink, if you wish."

The 'r' sound was slurred and sounded more like "dlink". Sasuke would get him a drink and then he'd corner him and tear him in half because there was something in the drink, something in the air, than was reminiscent of poison but thousands of times more lethal. It was utter power versus cowering weakness, it was smug superiority versus strong inferiority, it was the dark versus the light and he'd had to concede that the dark could exist with no light while feet were forever implanted in shadow. It was good versus evil where both sides were playing the other up to be the villain. Naruto had made a mistake. He shouldn't have left his bed, he shouldn't have agreed to do the errand, he shouldn't have accepted that drink that made one thing lead to another after another after another until all those anothers had him dying and bleeding on a floor that wasn't his.

Die, die, die, let him die, don't let him die, he's only human, he isn't human, he can't be human now, but then what does that make me, both of us monsters, death is such an ugly word, even for beasts like us, but stillstillstill, I don't want to see his face anymore!


He'd found his voice. It was like the long half hour in which he'd been gagged had been a mere few seconds, and that he was starting off from where he was so rudely interrupted. Now he could shout, scream, tear at him and tear him up until he could feel even a fraction of the pain Naruto felt.

Sasuke vaulted back onto his ankles when Naruto towered over him, those two inches of added height making all the difference. Then a half uttered cry as the blond was immobilized by a brief flash of fire burning up his spine, and then they were at eye level. Naruto's eyes darted down and he saw a smear of blood on the older boy's pelvis before he forced his eyes back up. He couldn't look at it, he wouldn't.

"Get away!" he tried shouting again when Sasuke didn't budge any further. "Go--get out of here!"

"I can't," Sasuke whispered, vague shock marring his white face. "This mine apartment…"

Naruto gritted his teeth, blue eyes flashing brightly, feeling so hot he wondered if even his pupils had turned red. "Fine!" he snapped. "Fine!" He leaned forward, now expecting the sharp pain and ignoring it. "I'll leave, then!"

But before he could get much farther, Sasuke had grabbed him by the forearm and was forcing him back down. "Wait!" he urged. "Please, just wait! You're hurt. Lay there while, let me get you ice or--or something, but please, just wait!"

"No! Let me GO!" He thrashed, and fingers gripped icily into the already bruised flesh of his wrists.

"Just let me explain, then! You can… you can go, all right? Let me explain first, then you go."

"No! No, no, NO! I'm not listening to ANYTHING you have to fucking SAY! I'm leaving and I'm getting your ass hauled into fuckin' prison! You… you forced me and I don't know about that harebrain place you grew up in but over here it's ILLEGAL!"

Sasuke's face was quickly falling with every word, but now it brought itself back up into a twisted sneer. Like the flip of a coin, Sasuke had done a one-eighty. Naruto knew, in that moment, that Sasuke had not had a single intention on letting him go. That if he'd stayed, like the raven had asked, he wouldn't have been able to leave later. It would have boiled down to this, all to this, and it was better to skip the formalities and dive straight into the point.

"Like you go to anyone," Sasuke snorted. Naruto gasped as he was forced back down, and winced when his knees buckled unpleasantly beneath him. Both of his wrists were caught now and despite his frantic pushes, they were forced to the floor on either side of his head. "What are you, Uzumaki? A girl? Run and scream rape to authorities, hoping some will protect you? I may not know you as well as I thought I did, but I know you well enough. I know you not enough of a cowardice to run screaming and crying. Although…" Smirking, Sasuke, drew both hands up until he could grasp them single-handedly, and used his free hand to lightly slap Naruto's cheek twice. "Looks like you already cried yourself out."

"Shut up!" Naruto hissed, his cheeks stinging with the sudden blush that ran from his hair line to his ears. "Just--"

"Eh, what's wrong?" Sasuke asked, sarcasm dripping from his words. "Going to cry more on me?"

"Shut up, shut the fuck up! Get off of me, now! I said get--"

"It hurt, then, didn't it?" Sasuke asked smugly. "It's a lot bigger than yours, isn't it?"

"Stop it," was the embarrassingly low reply he managed. He couldn't think of anything else right now. It was like he was in the middle of having his whole mindset renovated and they'd only just threw his old personality out. "Stop, please, you've done enough…."

Sasuke continued to move, and then there were hands, hands everywhere. They crawled up his sides before running over his chest. Two sets of forefinger and thumb found dusty nipples and pinched, twisting until Naruto was forced to cry out.

"I'm sorry," Sasuke was saying, letting his mouth draw wet, slick lines from his neck to his heart. "I didn't mean those things." Sharp teeth stopped to nick at his left nipple, and the blond whimpered when a rough, wet tongue lapped at the pebbled skin while the calloused pad of his thumb smoothed and flicked the other one, the other fingers gently running nails continuously over tan skin.

At a loss of what to do, how to struggle, Naruto gripped at the broad shoulders, pushing gently, but not making a sound. Sasuke simply captured the hands again and then moved them to his head, forcing smallish fingers to bury themselves in ebony hair. Sasuke's mouth detached from his skin to whisper, "That felt so nice, earlier. When you ran through my hair." He laid a gentle kiss to the skin he'd just ravished. "My mother did that, when I was young." Eyes as dark as his hair shut gently and a small smile cracked through. "Feels so nice."

The carpet beneath his body had gone wet, soggy, and Naruto thought he was truly drowning. Some feared that being buried alive was the worst death one could ever be faced with. Some feared fire, others of dying alone. Naruto feared drowning. To have the frustration of seeing the surface, his salvation, hang unmoving and so real above his head and to be trapped by something as weak, as intangible as water. To sink and to never resurface.

He was too afraid, he realized, and that there was a cliff he'd fallen off some time ago he couldn't climb his way up from. He was too scared, too petrified stiff to so much as move, to scream, to protest, to push. He wanted sleep, yes. Now a darkness would be a blessing, a gift he'd never asked for but was so pleasantly surprised to find. He wanted to sleep, to let his mind repair itself, to fall into bed, alone, by himself with no watchful eyes, and to sleep until all the bad things were gone. To have a dreamless slumber, to sleep, sleep, sleep it all away. The air was a dark burgundy, like dried blood, night time so close. When it came, he knew, he would sleep. He would sleep until he didn't know who he was and he'd wake up a new person. Just wait until night. Everything, everything would be all right again.

Sasuke's foreign cursing brought him back to reality, and he realized that the floor was, indeed, wet. He could feel his hair sticking to his neck and the back of his head, and the smell told him it was the extra virgin olive oil again. For the first time in a long few minutes, he uttered a long, throaty groan. He wondered how his body could react to the meaning behind this, to the fear, when his mind was so far from caring. His heart no longer seemed interested in his well-being.

"Your body, your heart, are completely different. And it isn't fair to not give me both."

You can't have both, the smaller, fiercer part of Naruto's brain snarled, like a box with its foot caught in a bear trip, you have my body, you son-of-a-bitch. It's all yours. But you can't have me. I'm not yours. I'm not yours!

"And it isn't fair to not give me both."

You'll never get my heart.

"It all right," Sasuke was murmuring half-heartedly, distracted as he fumbled behind Naruto's head. "I forgot last time. It will make it much easier." Done with whatever he was doing, Sasuke drew his hand back, and his partner noticed that it was coated in a sheet of thin, clear gold. "You'll like this," Sasuke promised. "Much easier. You'll like this."

Naruto groaned when the fingers were removed completely. He heard the familiar schlip sound that had warned him the time before, and he shut his eyes, waiting for it. The head in his hands was drawing up, the pain would come momentarily, and maybe Sasuke would sleep afterwards this time and he could get away…

He didn't expect to be kissed.

His eyes flew open, but Sasuke's were closed, and feeling awkward, he shut his, too. The movement of lips over his was slow and deliberate, like the other wanted to memorize the shape and feel of them. Like the rough end of silk they slid over his, slightly wet, mostly warm. Naruto's lower lip was captured for a brief moment, a set of teeth seizing it in a gentle nip before a smooth tongue soothed over it before slipping into his mouth. Naruto could detect the faint taste of salt and knew it was himself he was tasting along with the ash and cinnamon. The way the tongue melded over his, ran over the roof of his mouth, lined up along his teeth, was gentle, almost passionate, and slow. The raven didn't want to scare him, Naruto realized with bitter humor. He didn't want him to be frightened anymore. The fear began to ebb away, though, as the kiss grew longer, but stayed at the same pace. It dissolved away into reluctant resignation, into acceptance for something he knew he'd have to put up with for now but could forget all about later.

Sasuke's tongue slipped from his mouth, and a gentle, chaste kiss was placed at the corner of his mouth. Naruto opened his eyes to meet hopeful black ones. Two hands drew up and, as if my magic, his hands were released, and then held tenderly in rougher, larger ones. The pad of Sasuke's thumb ran circles over the back of his hand.

"Well?" Sasuke asked.

"Well what?" Naruto grunted, truly beyond caring of what he was asking. The white, dizzying almost-pleasure had dissipated to be replaced by anticipatory dread, his body waiting for what it knew would come, perhaps more painful than the first time.

"Are you…" He bit his lip uncharacteristically. "Will you… Can you…."

"Can I what?" Naruto whispered hoarsely, but Sasuke just shook his head, looking down forlornly with those unfamiliar eyes, carrying an expression so familiar but so mysterious, and Naruto just couldn't name it.

Naruto winced, but the pain didn't come. He squinted his eyes open a fraction, and black eyes consumed his entire world. A cool nose brushed alongside his and the pale face with, what Naruto now noticed, a widow's peek, dipping down and pointing to the space between his eyebrows.

Sasuke shook his head and kissed him, long and slow, no tongue but with lips like chapped velvet. Garnering no response, he pulled back with sad eyes, shaking his head.

"Mine," Sasuke whispered, the word ghosting over Naruto's mouth.

"AHH!" He cut his own cry short by biting into his lower lip, face contorting in pain. The sound that wrenched itself from between his lips was embarrassingly loud, too shattering in such a quiet room. Above him Sasuke growled, the sound a gentle yet strong purr from the back of his throat. His eyes were squinted and teeth clenched, a pink hue on his face from exertion, pleasure marring every line of his face.

He was tense above Naruto, the muscles of his thighs and arms quivering with restraint. Naruto kept his own body tense, almost holding onto the pain, afraid to let it go, or feel the new sensation that was starting to settle in.

"Relax," Sasuke gritted out, "just relax. It feels good."

Naruto's mind responded with a resilient, "No!", but his body was too exhausted to be defiant any longer. His muscles began to unclench, and with the tension left the pain until both were merely backdrops, hidden out of sight. The foreign pain become just one sharp shard instead of a sea of broken glass, tying him down to reality but causing him no harm. It was more than bearable, Naruto realized. It felt almost…

"Say my name," Sasuke gasped.

A rocking, rocking, rocky, head pulsing…


"That's it," Sasuke encouraged. "Say it, please, say it… Say it for me…"


"Say it for me."

"Sa--ahh! Sasukeee…"

"Say it louder."


"Louder, Naruto. Say it louder."




"Scream my name for me."


A groaning and rocking, rocking, darkness over-ruling his senses, mind-numbing pleasure threatening to crack his world.

"Mine," he growled. "All mine. Say it."

"Tell me you are mine," Sasuke ordered. "All mine. No one else's. Say it. Tell me it. Tell me you are mine."

"N-no…" Would be break? Naruto wondered. Would Sasuke break the moment Naruto left him? Would he be as irreparable as Naruto felt? Would he lose himself, forget his own name, forget everything that was him? Would he have trouble imaging a tomorrow morning? Would he forget that normal things existed? Would he be trapped forever in this crimson room with haunting memories, surrounded by the coppery scent of blood and musky smell of sex? Would he forget that the moon and the sun existed, as did night and day, that stars and clouds were figments of a child's imagination, and that all that existed was this dark twilight?

Sasuke was back to begging now, no longer forceful. "Say that you are mine," he pleaded, like it would be the only thing that could save his life. Perhaps it was. "Please!"

"I can't," his voice raspy, "I won't. I'm not." He spoke in fragments, coherency a thing of the past.

"Please," Sasuke tried again. "Say you're mine. You are. Say you're mine, no one else's, only mine."

"I'M NOT!" He finally withdrew his gaze from his captor's, looking to his left and towards the vertical line of the carpet, vision swimming in and out of focus.

"You are," Sasuke repeated, although his voice was unsure. "You have to be. I have nothing else--I must be allowed to have this. Just this, just you. Say you're mine."

"N-no… Nngh, Sasuke…"

"Naruto," Sasuke returned in kind. "Just say it, that all I need. Tell me you're mine."


"Nothing is mine," Sasuke whispered brokenly, and with a start, Naruto realized that he was crying. Twin tracks of tears cut through the beaded sweat coating his face and his nose was bunched along with his mouth, face brightening as he tried to withhold sobs. "Nothing is mine. Not even this.

"Not even you," Sasuke whispered. "Please… Naruto, please… belong to me. Just me. Let me have you, all of you…"

"Sasuke," Naruto cried,.

"Naruto," Sasuke whispered before his eyes finally slid shut.

Naruto been told orgasm was white. The world would suddenly be filled with light, pleasurably blinding, and causing dots to swim across your vision. That wasn't what he saw. What he saw was just as before, but in a different color. Everything was a different shade of purple, and like a malignant tumor it crept across his mind. The color of a dark beauty, he thought, something so breath-taxingly gorgeous, and one shade lighter than black. The color of violets, the color of bruises. It consumed him as he rode out the pleasure, the tightening in his stomach releasing itself. Everything was drowned in thick purple fog. He could smell it, like sweet grapes, feel it, clawing into his skin. Too dark to see anything, and the color grew darker and darker, dragging away his consciousness.

Something suddenly stilled above him, and then a weight was pressing him into the ground once more. Heavy panting washed over his sweaty skin. The color consumed him still, and he wondered what it was that Sasuke saw.

"You're mine," the raven whispered into his neck. There was shifting, but Naruto couldn't make out more than a blurred outline as the weight was lifted from his chest.

"You are mine," he repeated. "Never forget it."

He was slipping away. Naruto realized it moments before passing out, and he couldn't decide whether he was happy or sad about it.

And in those last few moments, the last before he knew he'd never see Sasuke again, he heard him whisper, "And I'll make sure you never will."

A glint of something shiny caught his attention, but only for a split second. The sun had set, he realized. The sky was black, and so were His eyes. He fell into unconscious.


Naruto didn't come to the realization that he was awake until he was a block away from his house. He paused at the street corner. He saw blue and red flashing lights. He kept walking, arms hanging loosely by his sides. He limped heavily and stepped slowly, each inch he gained paying him back with gratuitous amounts of pain. His skin was itchy with drying liquids; blood, sweat, semen and oil. He didn't want to know what he smelled like. Probably road kill.

His clothes clung to him, too small. He'd grown so much in one afternoon, and now he felt the world could not contain him. Or that he could not contain it, and it felt like the whole weight of the world was trying to cram itself onto his back. There was a broken nature in his gate. His blond hair smelled of rust and musk. Fingerprints left in black and blue marred his skin. He was marked, over and over, everywhere. When his wounds healed, he'd still be marked, still soiled. No water, no soap, could ever wash it off.

He didn't remember how he'd gotten outside. He didn't recall dressing, so maybe He dressed him. He'd left Naruto outside, He must have, how else could he have gotten out? He barely had the energy to walk, let alone escape.

Naruto heard voices now, and in them, Iruka's was the loudest. Strong arms, but not as strong as His had been, wrapped around his lanky figure, and spikes of pain shot through him.

"Naruto, oh God, Naruto." He heard sobbing, but at least it wasn't him this time. Swarms of men in blue shirts surrounded him, but his vision had suddenly been filled with warm brown eyes.

"Oh God, Naruto." A hand brushed his face, which Naruto just realized was burning. "Your face… what happened to your face!?"

His face? Nothing had happened to his face. It was the rest of him that Iruka should have been paying attention to. But as if run by unseen forces, his head slowly revolved to the left, towards the windows that ran alone the bottom floor of the apartment. The white blinds had been drawn, and orange light emitted from the lamp post behind him allowed him to see. From the bottoms of his eyes down to his neck, everything was caked in blood. It looked like a mask that only covered the bottom half of his face. So much blood should not be normal, he thought. It couldn't be.

And in that buddle of blood were six distinct tracks, so dark they might as well have been black. Three on each cheek, diagonal slits, like whisker marks.

"You truly are a monster."

Where did that world end, Naruto wondered dizzily. And where did this new one start?

"You are mine."

Despite his attempts at keeping his heart separate from his body.

"Never forget it."

He didn't lose consciousness this time, merely the last remnants of his humanity.

I don't feel human anymore.

"And I'll make sure you never will."

I feel… His.


Three weeks later Iruka was collecting the trash from Naruto's room. His eyes had lost the heavy bags that had gathered beneath them the week after Naruto came home drenched in blood. He wore bandages over his cheeks now, and estimates were being drawn by their insurance company over the prices of cosmetic surgery. It was dangerous, they warned him, to operate on such a highly-muscled area of the face. Permanent disfigurement was always a risk. Iruka and Naruto would have to have a talk about it later on in the week. But not today. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, and Naruto had fallen asleep on the living room couch with a comic over his face.

Iruka had grudgingly admitted, if only to himself, that there was one good thing that had come out of the fight Naruto had gotten himself into that day. He'd… not matured, per say. A week passed before he woke up just as bouncy, just as jubilant, demanding ramen and sweets and his manga collection. The blond was elated that he'd missed graduation, and even happier when Iruka mentioned that they could always move, switch schools, if the kids in this district bothered him that much. Iruka was looking into the townhouses in Konoha now, where there high school was in desperate need of new faculty due to n imprecated amount of retirements that year.

So no, it wasn't that Naruto was more mature. Just… older. Like he'd grown several years in the time span of a few hours.

Iruka was turning the thought over in his head when he dumped the wastebasket into the industrial-sized trash bag he was trailing along with him. Something bright orange caught his attention. Blinking, he daintily picked it out from the pile with thumb and forefinger.

It was Naruto's favorite shirt, he thought with a shock, and also the bane of Iruka's existence. It was the brightest shade of orange he'd ever seen with ridiculous amounts of graffiti and doodles printed all over it. It was too baggy, stretched out, and was riddled with holes, and until this point the blond had valiantly defended the article of clothing, refusing to allow his guardian to trash it.

Iruka smiled faintly. Yes, he thought, he certainly has grown.

And with that, he dumped it back into the back, the orange shirt with is crazy mix of large, blocky, obnoxiously purple graffiti.

To Be Continued