Title: "If That's All Right"

Author: Shaitanah

Rating: R

Timeline: post-canon

Summary: One of these days, Sasuke will have to stop running. It could be today. [Naruto/Sasuke] Please R&R!

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi.

A/N: This little monster squeezed my soul out. Blame it all on this: http :// satalex . deviantart . com / art / Bitter-honey-burns-111784418, and Damien Rice.

Dedication: Nox! You have eaten my brain, you evil CRACKodile. Take the fluffy/angsty comeback.


I know I've been a liar and I know I've been a fool.

I hope we didn't break yet, but I'm glad we broke the rules.

My cave is deep now, yet your light is shining through,

I cover my eyes, still all I see is you.

Damien Rice. 'The Animals Were Gone'

The desert was melting in the sparse sunlight. It heaved in splashes of crimson over molten gold and fell away like sea during ebb tide. Silence reigned over the chaos of colour; but not the deadly, menacing sort of silence. All the battles had already been fought.

Naruto walked, listening to the sand squeaking softly beneath his feet. It was yellow shot with red, fat with blood and flattened with footprints and shots of various ninjutsu.

"That's a weird place for a rendezvous, I'll give you that," Naruto noted, diving under the low-hanging ceiling of a small cavern, hollowed out in a solitary rock standing in the middle of the wasteland.

"Still, you came."

Naruto cocked his head. Everything around him was so dazzling, so much like him, orange, yellow, crimson – too vibrant; even the black rock was like him. Amidst the brightness, Sasuke, in his ragged black cloak, with his tousled hair and his lifeless eyes, looked ridiculously alien.

"Does it surprise you?" Naruto scoffed. "What did you want to tell me?"

"I've fought my wars," Sasuke said in a tone that sounded estranged and confusing; Naruto couldn't tell if it was an answer to his question or the beginning of some uncalled for soliloquy. The continuation, however, turned out to be short and straight to the point. "I do not intend to go back and die in prison. Just wanted you to know that."

Naruto licked his lips thoughtfully.

"And… what do you expect me to say to that?" he asked in a low, weary voice. "Should I let you go? Just like that? I've spent years of my life trying to get to you. And now that you're finally done chasing your demons, you just want me to–."

"No need to be so dramatic," Sasuke cut him off dryly.

Waves of red washed over the sky. Such a beautiful sunset, coloured with all shades of blood. Naruto closed his eyes. He could still remember those majestic, monstrous buildings that had risen here before. The sand had not always been creeping treacherously through every crack. After all, the Hidden Rain Village stood tall and proud but a year ago.

Wars had been fought. Wars had changed the façade of this country. Wars had ended.

Naruto reached inside his weapons' pouch and took out a headband and handed it over to Sasuke.

"There. Yours."

Sasuke brushed his fingertips tentatively over the scratched metal. A huge crack ran right across the Leaf emblem. The blue band was worn out and dirty.

"I don't need it," Sasuke declined resolutely. "I'm not loyal to any village. If anything, it makes me look even more like Akatsuki."

"It's just a memory."

Naruto turned to face him and pressed the metal plate to Sasuke's forehead. Tied the ends of the band at the back of his head and pulled back, appraising the view. The forehead protector concealed Sasuke's shortened fringe, bringing out the fine features of his delicate face. The look in his eyes was eloquent enough. Sentimental fool, it said. Oddly enough, Sasuke himself kept silent.

They were looking at each other as minutes wore on. Naruto's searching gaze drifted from the shaggy bangs to the pale smoothness of Sasuke's cheek; to his straight, elegant nose; to his thin, bitter lips. Taking in every detail. Trying to have it all imprinted in his memory once more. Sasuke hadn't changed all that much, but Naruto studied him with that obsessive diligence at every chance he got.

Sasuke began pushing the forehead protector down, intending to take it off. Naruto's hand shot up, and he stopped him when the headband came over his eyes. Naruto held on to Sasuke's hand, leaving him blindfolded.

"What are you doing?" Sasuke asked, frowning slightly beneath the fabric.

Naruto leaned into him, lips brushing his skin randomly, hovering dangerously close to the corner of his mouth. His skin was hot from traveling under the scorching sun for quite some time; Sasuke's skin was cool as though he only left the cavern at night.

"I'm sick of saying goodbye," Naruto whispered sharply. "Sick of chasing you. Tell me to give up."

"Give up," Sasuke said automatically.

"I never do." Naruto nipped at his lips. Sasuke stiffened. "I never will."

Sasuke raised his hand, wanting to push him away, but it froze in mid-motion, as if he were unsure what to do. Naruto's lips slid down, mapping his jawline. They felt rough, chapped, very warm. Sasuke held his breath.

Tongue followed. Just a momentary moist dot pointed somewhere on the plain of his skin.

Sasuke lowered his hand, trailed his fingers over the coarse surface of the rock and dug them into the sand. It was cool beneath the protective shade of the cavern, even somewhat damp.

It hadn't rained here for ages. Not since Pain's defence mechanism was shut down.

Naruto moved closer, shifting his weight so that his hand that he had placed near Sasuke's knee supported him; his other hand came to rest on Sasuke's shoulder, barely touching it at all. He swept his fingers over Sasuke's collarbone and up his neck, halting to feel the pulse. It was so strong that it required no pressure to sense it.

Naruto tangled his fingers in Sasuke's hair casually, mixed the ends of the headband with the locks and sifted through them with almost childlike curiosity. Sasuke opened his mouth to tell him to cease this farce, and that was when Naruto kissed him.

At first Sasuke thought he had lost balance or something. Like that one time in the Academy. Naruto's kiss was sloppy, awkward, all kinds of stupid and uncertain; but it was by no means accidental. It took Sasuke a while to realize that. That time had been a real accident; this one was happening on purpose.

Naruto had tasted of food back then, like he hadn't had the time to brush his teeth before rushing off to the Academy. Nothing surprising about that. Now he tasted of nothing. He was just warm and probably thirsty because his mouth felt drier than it was supposed to feel, but then again, Sasuke hadn't had the opportunity to kiss many people to compare.

Naruto moved his head accidentally, and their teeth collided. Sasuke gasped into his mouth, and both of them pulled away.

"Moron…" Sasuke muttered under his breath.

There came a muffled snort. The idiot was laughing. Great!

Sasuke processed the sensations. It made him wonder if, having a chance to compare, he would be able to tell Naruto apart from any other person he would kiss. Was he different? Was his taste specific?

Naruto grasped his shoulder again, this time harder, and pulled him into another kiss. It was forced, nervous, as though he was trying to prove something. It made Sasuke want to bite at his mouth, to squeeze more out of this stupid liplocking.

Naruto's mouth glided lower, as if living the life of its own, exploring various patches of Sasuke's skin in no particular order. Sometimes it made Sasuke gasp out quietly. He arched back, chilly sand streaming between his fingers as his hand sank deeper. He stretched out his legs, and Naruto positioned himself between them. There was something incredible about Naruto the way he appeared now: an invisible warm, quiet mass that consisted of vague, imperceptible scents, occasional sighs and the rustling of his clothes.

Sasuke stirred and lowered his head forth, until his nose was buried in Naruto's hair. It bristled in its usual unruly fashion and it tickled. Sasuke pulled away; Naruto's lips hovered over his bellybutton. Shivers ran down his body.

A low rumble rolled over the sky. Naruto threw up his head, eyes wide in surprise. Thunder?

How had Amegakure become a desert? He barely remembered it now. Losing control of all powers at once. The Kyuubi breaking free, sprouting tail after tail, razing the industrial-looking buildings to the ground. Itachi's chakra leaking in raven feathers all over the place. The Sage Mode on and off and on again, regardless of his commands. Hectic determination had gripped him. Hunger. Desire to put a stop to it. His emotions mingled with the Kyuubi's instincts so disastrously that he couldn't have told them apart for the life of him.

There had been others too, Konoha ninja mostly. Firing their jutsu, fighting, fighting, fighting… Unexpected allies had arrived. He could have sworn there had been Gaara; perhaps the sand had been his work, but Naruto never knew Gaara could produce so much sand.

He never knew – never asked – what had changed the climate so completely. Perhaps without rain, this land was doomed to dry up. He just never realized it could happen so fast.

The wind was rising. Winds here were either gentle and barely noticeable, or high and powerful; this one appeared to be strengthening. Winds here also had the ability to change colours. Layers of crimson were washing off and streaks of puce were brought forth. Burs had germinated here and there, sporting dark aubergine thorns; if the sky was cloudy, they looked almost black. Dunes stirred in the wind and slowly crumbled, streaks of orange trickling down the smooth slopes.

Naruto pulled Sasuke's clothes down, taking his explorations further. Sasuke was glad he could see neither Naruto, nor himself; that way he could pretend those deep, almost lecherous groans coming out of his mouth were not his. Naruto pushed Sasuke's legs further apart, and then there was nothing but darkness covered in the web of moans, casual lapping of tongue, nails scraping over his inner thigh, wet, warm suction surrounding him…

Sasuke arched his back, thrusting deeper into Naruto's mouth. His heart was pounding.

The rumbling sound repeated. This time there was no doubt: thunder.

The fading light gathered in shimmering pools all over the place. It dribbled down the black rock, filling the cavern little by little. Naruto withdrew, glancing back over his shoulder to check what was going on outside. The sky was dark, strewn with purple and gold. Something flashed in the clouds.

Sasuke cringed uncomfortably. The air grew colder, settling against his exposed skin like chilly sediment. But then there was another warm touch, and the sudden pressure of saliva-coated fingers, and his muscles clenched automatically, protesting against the intrusion.

Fortunately Naruto remained silent. It was almost unnatural to have him so quiet; but if he spoke, Sasuke would never let him continue. Things were embarrassing enough as they were.

And painful.

Sasuke gritted his teeth. Okay, if that… weird sensation was sex, he never wanted to do it again! Fingers weren't exactly terrific, but this was so much worse. Leave it to Naruto to ruin things towards the end.

Sasuke was ready to give his private life up for lost (and reduce Naruto to ashes by using a Katon jutsu on him in the process) when the pain was suddenly gone, replaced with… nothing, to be precise. He couldn't quite place the sensation.

But it was growing, taking over him, sending jolts of pleasure through his system. Naruto was moving – inside him, setting up a rhythm, and his ragged gasps formed a vortex around Sasuke.

Rain crashed down upon the desert. It struck on the sand, making it flat and then churning it up.

Sasuke managed to sit, wrapping his legs tighter around Naruto, feeling him slow down momentarily and then move even faster. Naruto was still almost fully clothed; his bunched up clothes felt strangely alien in contrast to Sasuke's nudity.

The rain intensified.

Sasuke decided that yes, he would probably recognize Naruto if he ever had to compare. The blockhead surely had the taste of his own. Indefinite, changeable, but his.

Sasuke moved with him, up and down, trying to maintain the frail synchronism. He kissed him, silencing him, and then the noise of rain drowned out any other sounds, having grown impossibly loud.

Sasuke pushed the forehead protector down past his chin and opened his eyes, meeting Naruto's determined gaze. His eyes looked even brighter in the thickening darkness. Sasuke never broke the eye contact as they hit the climax together.

Rain poured for a few more minutes before the sky began to clear up.

Half an hour later Naruto crept out of the cavern and got ankle-deep into the multi-coloured sludge that sloshed around the black rock. He got it all over himself very quickly. The first rays of sun that broke through the layers of clouds raced themselves along those stains of wet sand. Naruto found it funny. Like playing in the mud when he was a kid. He made a clod and threw it at Sasuke playfully. It splashed over his cloak with a nasty wet sound.

"You're a jerk," Naruto said.

"You found a stupid way to ascertain it."

"No, I mean it: you're a jerk. You're just gonna run off now, aren't you? Like you always do. And I'll have to move heaven and earth again to find you, unless you suddenly pop out of nowhere out of desire to feed me some other bullshit of yours!"

Sasuke chuckled. The idiot was getting worked up again. Could have already got used to…

Sasuke rubbed his nosebridge wearily. Over what? Him leaving, he was going to continue. Right. He was going to leave, after all.

He tossed the headband on the sand.

"Nah," Naruto shrugged. "It was yours."

He rose and began to walk away, hands balled into fists. Sasuke picked the headband up and looked at it thoughtfully.

"Come back tomorrow," he said. "I might still be here."

His voice sounded quiet, maybe too quiet, but Naruto surely heard him. He quickened the pace after Sasuke fell silent and was soon out of sight.

Sasuke clutched the headband in his hand and smirked. Ah, the hell! One of these days, he would have to stop running. It could be today.

February 5–6, 2009