Naruto had never been less interested in eating. He politely picked at each of the four courses and tried to join the conversation every so often, but each time his gaze crossed Sasuke's the bites on his neck tingled and he'd have to struggle not to blush. Sasuke would allow a small smile to slide onto his face, and whatever he had been saying would be lost. The client's father must think him mentally subnormal.
Because there it was, finally. Sasuke's smile. It was even better in real life than it had been in his dreams. He had stormed out of his assigned guestroom less than an hour ago, determined to find the bastard and make him explain that kiss last night, but his nerve had failed him at the sight of Sasuke standing by the fountain in the sunlight. All he had been able to do was stare, and hope that when Sasuke turned around he'd talk about something else.
Sasuke hadn't turned, and Naruto had stared at the back he'd always been chasing and suddenly he didn't want to look at it any more. His words had brought Sasuke around, and he had seen it for the first time in over five years: the most beautiful thing in the world. His mouth had gone on autopilot. Unfortunately, when he mentioned Sakura the smile had gone away and his world ended. The smile wasn't for him, the kiss hadn't been for him, it was all for Sakura and for the first time in his life Naruto hated someone . . .
He didn't want to hear Sasuke say it had been some twisted emotionless experiment where he judged whether or not his urges for Sakura were the ones a person usually had for a teammate. Sasuke's use of his name, his actual name, had set off his mouth again, and everything he'd been worrying about all night and all morning had come spilling out and suddenly Sasuke was laughing and the world had turned upside-down.
Naruto looked, really looked at his best friend. The chakra strain was gone, and Sasuke felt solid, as if the strange vibrations that had been increasing over the past few months had never been. In fact – he stepped forward to get a closer look – even Sasuke's perpetual aura of darkness had vanished. As the boy he'd come to believe was emotionless doubled over from the force of his mirth, Naruto began having doubts about Sasuke's sanity or, failing that, his own.
He was seriously leaning toward the second choice when, seconds later, after being distracted by a wound he hadn't even known Sasuke had obtained, Sasuke was kissing him.
No. No, no, no, nonononononono . . . yes. Yes. Yes!
It had, of course, been over far too quickly, and now here he was, aching for the touch of the person sitting five feet away, which may as well have been on the moon. Naruto faced Kakashi-sensei across the table as they flanked the client's father. The client was at the other end of the long table, with Sakura on his left and Sasuke on his right. Sasuke, of course, was not expected to contribute to the conversation, but Naruto kept getting looks from his other teammates who were carrying the burden to which he was unequal – concerned from Kakashi-sensei, knowing and wickedly amused from Sakura. And after this torture there was still the journey back to Konoha, during which Sakura would probably bang on endlessly about the client, whose father she was going great lengths to charm.
Naruto caught Sasuke's eye again over dessert. Sasuke lifted an elegant eyebrow that spoke volumes, and Naruto had to fight down the urge to blush, concentrating a good deal more than was warranted on his mochi. If they moved quickly and kept going after sundown instead of making camp while it was still light out as they had the previous evening, they could sleep in their own beds that night. Or each other's . . .
There could be no mistaking it. Sasuke wanted him. Sasuke wanted him. Sasuke wanted him.
I told you so, growled his demonic houseguest. Now shut up and eat your mochi already.
For once, Naruto obeyed the Kyuubi, eager to get through the meal and head for home. The client's father was suggesting an overnight stay and a fresh start bright and early tomorrow morning, but Naruto was having none of that. "Sakura," he left off her usual diminutive honorific in honor of the seriousness of the circumstances, "don't you have to get back to see your patients? Three days away has got to be pushing it." There, he'd disguised his rush to get home as a comment on her importance for the Hayakawas. That should work, right? He caught the approving glance Sasuke flashed him and felt a warmth seep into the pit of his stomach. No way am I spending my first night with Sasuke in a house with paper walls . . .
This led him to consider what it might be like – his imagination supplied pictures much like their sparring sessions except indoors and naked – and he had to disguise a moan in a gulp of scalding tea. How could he ever have thought what he felt for Sakura was this kind of love?
* * * * *
"Alone at last." Is that voice really mine? thought Sasuke. He'd never heard it sound so full of emotion.
He'd released his negative feelings for the high-speed journey home. They were a part of who he was, and if the corrosion on the inside of the trunk was any indication, it wasn't terribly healthy to keep them hidden away. Besides, it was the final request of one of his most important people, and he intended to see that all the way through.
They had slid in through the gate just as Izumo and Kotetsu were setting up at their night-guard post. Kakashi-sensei had poofed to Hokage Tower to prepare and file a mission report, and Sakura had sped gleefully toward the Yamanaka flower shop with a laughing backward glance at the pair of them, almost exploding with gossip.
This had left Sasuke with Naruto, who suddenly wouldn't look at him. Izumo and Kotetsu had looked on curiously as Sasuke said "Dobe," then when Naruto had looked up angrily he had grabbed his wrist and vanished them both, using the transport jutsu he had sharingan-ed off Kakashi-sensei.
When they had reappeared in his living room (he had set anti-transport traps in his bedroom, or he would have taken them there directly), Naruto had stumbled away, thrown off-balance, while Sasuke leaned back against his front door and made his comment.
Naruto caught his balance a few feet away, straightened, and turned to face him. Fully himself for the first time in ages, Sasuke didn't even try to stop the smirk that slid onto his face, but Naruto's lack of violent response meant that his heart was reflected in his eyes.
"Bastard, when did you learn that one? If I knew it I'd never walk anywh- mmph!"
Sasuke had yanked Naruto flush against himself in one swift movement, and in the space between "any" and "where" he had snaked his tongue into Naruto's mouth and Naruto had stopped trying to talk. It might have been the tongue, but it also might have been from sensing exactly how Sasuke felt after six straight hours of watching Naruto's leg muscles and glutes bunch and relax as he leaped from tree limb to tree limb on all fours. Sasuke was gratified to discover that the feeling was mutual.
Just as his tongue was exploring Naruto's mouth, so were his hands roaming over Naruto's body. He'd felt probably every inch of it with his fists during sparring, but the situation now was quite different. Now he could linger on the broad planes of muscle that covered his back and the steel hardness of his arms. He liked it even better when, after turning them around so that he could shove Naruto up against the door, instead of an "ouch" and a punch to the face, he got Naruto's left leg wrapping around his thighs, pulling them even closer. Naruto's own hands were busy, one arm wrapped all the way around Sasuke's neck so that he was practically touching his own shoulder, and the other gripping the hair on the back of Sasuke's head almost to the point of pain.
All those stories he had heard about lung capacity being necessary for long make-out sessions were just plain lies. Either that, or whoever was telling them had never had a session passionate enough to qualify them as an expert. He and Naruto repositioned themselves every few seconds, mouths working hungrily and air whistling in through their nostrils as they tried frantically to merge their two bodies into a single united being (AN: see Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium, or, failing that, "The Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch).
Despite the outer warmth that finally matched what had been growing inside of his mind since that day Naruto had forgotten his jacket, it still wasn't enough. Sasuke stilled his hands, leaving one to clasp the small of Naruto's back, cushioning it from the hardwood door, and curving the other upward until he could almost see his own fingers over Naruto's shoulder. He pulled away from his teammate's mouth, placating Naruto's disappointed growl with a tightening of his arms that rubbed their clothed groins together and shot electricity up his spine, and planting kisses on that tan neck, occasionally using his teeth, relishing the sensation of Naruto's fingers tightening and loosening in his hair with each attack. He knew he'd found the right spot – just below the ear, under the jawbone, while golden hair tickled his nose – when he sucked hard on it and Naruto made a gasping noise and went boneless in his arms.
Taking advantage of the blonde's temporary lack of grip, Sasuke divested Naruto of his shirt while using his lower body to keep him pinned to the wall. Recovering more quickly than Sasuke had anticipated, Naruto growled again and returned the favor. Caught off-guard, Sasuke had to move fast to keep his high collar from hitting him in the nose as his hemline whipped past his face and disappeared.
When his vision was again clear of obstructive clothing, he was rewarded by the sight of a half-naked Naruto, real as anything, surrounding him with his honey-tan arms and pulling him close again. He caught sight of a flash of blue, Naruto's eyes twinkling, and he just had time to wonder why they were open at all before he was falling.
Naruto had expertly slid lower the leg that had been wrapped 'round his thighs, hitting him behind the knees and taking them both to the ground in a tangle. A huge bright grin split the whiskered face hovering above him, and he realized that he'd let Naruto have the upper hand. How had he let that happen? Oh right, he'd been kind of distracted.
He let the idiot have his fun playing at being in charge while his arms went around Naruto again and Naruto's lips came down on his own. Now that there was bare skin to touch instead of the rough fabric of a t-shirt, he could feel the dampness of sweat and the pounding of Naruto's heart when gravity pressed their lengths together.
Feeling that gravity wasn't trying hard enough, Sasuke twisted his legs with Naruto's and thrust himself upward while pulling Naruto downward, so that friction did interesting things between them. Naruto squirmed, trying to find a comfortable place to put his arms, and white stars winked in Sasuke's vision at the sensation. He inhaled sharply, seeming to suck warm, moist air straight from Naruto's lungs.
This seemed to snap Naruto out of some kind of trace, because he sat up, straddling Sasuke's thighs and dashing the back of his hand over his chin. "Wait, wait, hang on a second!"
Sasuke had never wanted to punch Naruto in the head so badly in his entire life. "You have got to be kidding me."
He tried to sit up, but Naruto halted him with a hand splayed over his bare chest. Just the sensation of the heat of it made him want to purr, but he figured they'd never get anywhere if the idiot didn't have his say. He reclined, tucking his hands behind his head and staring up at Naruto after wiping the drool off of his own chin. "Fine. What?"
"I have a few questions, the biggest of which being: what the hell? All those years of asexuality, despite hordes of drooling fangirls, and it comes down to this?" His gesture with the hand not pressed to Sasuke's chest took in the living room – with Naruto's shirt draping a table lamp and Sasuke's dangling from a ceiling fixture - as well as the two of them shirtless on the floor, looking a mess. Sasuke was surprised and slightly disappointed they hadn't broken any furniture, but hey, it had been a long day and neither of them had slept well the night before.
Sasuke couldn't prevent his mouth from smirking as it said, "Obviously," but he could go on after his snarky side had had its say. He talked fast, because the hand on his chest was clenching into a fist, and Naruto – despite adorable sex-hair – was starting to look threatening.
"It's you, moron. I tried to be asexual, because I didn't need the distractions, but that night I saw those idiotic villagers hurting you, I just couldn't stop myself." He forced himself, against long habit, to keep talking as Naruto's eyes went wide at all the information he was volunteering. "After that, it was like I couldn't stop thinking about you, and I felt more and more until I felt so much that I couldn't ignore it any longer. The client helped me see it last night when he was banging on about Sakura.
"Come to think of it, she probably planned that with him on purpose. She's known all along, hasn't she? Did you tell her?" Naruto shook his head, still looking awestruck by Sasuke's uncharacteristic loquacity. "She's pretty smart. Anyway, what I'm getting at, what I've been trying to avoid saying by saying all this to you, is -"
"I think I'm in love with you!"
A ringing silence followed the exclamation/declaration, during which the two boys stared at each other while Naruto turned bright red. "I don't know why I said that, I'm sorry, it just kind of slipped out," said Naruto, and he shifted his weight to get off of Sasuke.
Sasuke moved like lightning, wrapping a hand around each of Naruto's knees, keeping him in place. "Baka," he said, tightening his grip as Naruto tried to pull away. "You can't just say something like that then run away. Let it sink in for a minute."
Naruto stilled on top of him, for which Sasuke was grateful; the squirming was . . . distracting. And, as pleasant a distraction as it was, Sasuke wanted very much to be able to focus on this moment. Time stretched thin between them as he lay on his entry room floor where his family had once passed back and forth and left their shoes and coats, unable to make himself move or speak lest he cause the moment to shatter.
More time passed, and Naruto started to look annoyed again. Shirtless, sweaty, gorgeous, but annoyed. Naruto had managed to up-end Sasuke's entire world in two seconds with one sentence, but at the sight of that expression on that whiskered face everything fell back into place with a click he was surprised wasn't audible. Everything was new now, yet it was just the same as it ever was.
Either way, Naruto was impatiently awaiting his answer, and though Sasuke was fairly certain about it by this point, he still wasn't absolutely sure and he couldn't lie to Naruto; anyway he'd lost his nerve to say the actual words when Naruto had derailed his momentum.
"Yeah, dobe, I think I am, too. With you, I mean." And that was really the best he could do at this point. Coward, hissed the mental voice, the "sane" one that always sounded a little like his father.
For once in his life he ignored it. After all, he thought as Naruto, looking satisfied with the response, resumed teasing his nipples with tongue and fingers while squirming anew in that pleasantly distracting fashion, it's not like I won't say it eventually. Just not now.
As he levered his legs upward while turning sideways in order to put Naruto back on the floor in the submissive position where he belonged, he smiled. At the moment, he had better things to do with his mouth.
Arigatou, everyone, for sticking with U and I 'til the end! When I sat down to write it I had no idea it would turn into this 10-chapter monster. Thanks for all your support and the lovely reviews that let me know I'm not completely crap at this writing gig!