Naruto didn't get much time to talk to Sasuke over the next two days, though definitely not for a lack of trying on his own part.
Sasuke in defense mode was a terrible, terrible thing. He glared at grandmothers and infants alike, sneered at puppies, flowers, stationery, Naruto, the sky, Naruto's hair, food (except tomatoes), Naruto's orange shirt, books, and human beings in general. He studiously ignored anything that wasn't related to debate, and treated the world around him with a sieve: All Naruto particles were to be kept out, while the rest of the three dimensions gleefully trickled in.
They worked on the debate twenty four into seven, breaking only for meals. The moment Sakura chan left the campus, though, Sasuke turned tail and disappeared so quickly that Naruto started to wonder if his leaking libido had begun emitting odors or anything as scandalous as that.
So Naruto thought that it was perfectly justified when he dug himself a hole in Kiba's favourite armchair the night before they left for Kyoto, and refused to budge, even when Kiba threatened to do unspeakable things to his backside with a compass.
'He won't talk to me.'
'So you're giving up?' Kiba asked, surprise colouring his tone.
Naruto looked at him as though he had grown an extra head. 'Don't be stupid, of course not!'
'Then get your paws OFF my chair!'
Naruto dismissed this. 'What would you do if you were me?'
'Get off my friend's chair?'
Kiba sat down on his bed, grumbling. 'One, I wouldn't be you, it would be too traumatic. Two, I dunno, jump off the nearest bridge, I suppose.'
Naruto scowled at him.
'Look, I don't know, okay? It's difficult to think gay when I've got it bad for a girl!'
Naruto looked at him curiously. 'Wha – Who told you to think gay?'
Kiba's brow wrinkled in confusion. 'So is this Chouji's love life we're discussing? More importantly, are we discussing love lives? What're you doing to me, you monster, and GET YOUR ASS OFF MY CHAIR!!!!'
'I'm not gay,' Naruto informed him.
Kiba just looked at him.
'How can I be gay? I like girls.'
'Unless Uchiha's been hiding something down there none of us have any clue about,' Kiba said, smirking slightly, 'You're gay.'
Naruto was too ruffled by this sudden piece of information to bother to kick at Kiba's ankles. It was true that he had always like girls; Sakura chan, the figures in Kiba's porno magazines, The Vein of Terror chan. Sasuke was an exception, but so what? Sasuke was pretty, so it obviously didn't count.
It didn't mean – it couldn't – If he was gay, wouldn't he be the first person to know?
He voiced his thoughts.
'If I were gay, wouldn't I be the first person to know?'
Kiba laughed so hard that for the next fifteen minutes he forgot to reclaim his conquered furniture.
He was still in deep contemplation of his sexuality the next morning as Iruka drove him, Sasuke and Kakashi sensei to the station. It was still dark outside, but that was nothing compared to the state of eternal midnight in Naruto's heart.
His friends, Naruto thought, had made it their sole purpose in life to make a mockery out of him. They were bad friends. B-A-D, bad! Horrible.
He was gay? Everyone knew? HOW DID EVERYONE KNOW? HE HADN'T KNOWN!!
Naruto was manly! MANLY, DAMMIT! So manly, that he had had no inkling of the fact himself.
Needless to say, after the enlightening conversation with Kiba, Naruto had panicked…slightly. In other words he had proceeded to confirm the newfound truth with everyone he had ever had contact with.
'You mean to say,' Ino had asked incredulously, 'that you didn't know?'
Naruto had scowled into the mouthpiece. 'Why does everyone keep saying that?'
'Naruto, because, come on, how could you not have known? Hang on, Neji's asking if you'd like to borrow his Linda Goodman; Love signs. He says that it might help.'
'Tell him to go stuff himse – Wait, Neji reads Linda Goodman?'
Ino sighed. 'He swears by it. Thankfully, we're compatible.'
'How come nobody realizes Sasuke's gay?' Naruto asked, heatedly. 'I mean, I'm obviously manlier!'
Ino had hung up.
Naruto would never fathom the workings of a female mind. How could you date somebody and still retain your position as the President of The Official Uchiha Sasuke Fanclub? Women!
He had always hated complications. Maybe that's why he was gay. That seemed logical.
Except, Naruto couldn't help thinking, Sasuke was the biggest complication life had thrown him headfirst into.
The other boy was asleep, his head resting against the glass of the window. Naruto had tried, about ten minutes earlier, to sneakily shift towards him and jostle him slightly, so that Sasuke's head would fall on his shoulder, and everything would be nice and cozy from there on, but it had only resulted in Sasuke waking up, and corroding his visions of a happily snuggling couple with a venomous glare.
In the rear view mirror were two crescents. One was the rapidly fading moon and the other, Kakashi's smiling eye. Naruto stuck his tongue out at the latter.
He was bi. Or Sasuke sexual. It didn't really matter, because when Sasuke was sleeping, he was cuuuute!
The part of Naruto's brain which wasn't going kawaiikawaiiDON'TGLOMPhe'llKillyou!!! resolved that he was going to make watching Sasuke sleep a permanent feature in his life.
Which also sounded slightly creepy, but whatever. Sasuke was pretty creepy when he went around hissing at everyone like a snake, so he was just returning the favour.
Harsh white light flooded into the car, like a sheet, and Naruto realized that they had reached the station. Seizing the opportunity, he placed a palm on Sasuke's shoulder, the edge of his thumb lightly grazing the soft stretch of skin on the collarbone; shook him gently.
'Boo!' he whispered into Sasuke's ear, grinning. 'The Heartless (1) are behind us!'
Sasuke stirred, blinked, and jerked away from Naruto.
Sakura was already there, waiting on the platform with her father. She waved when she saw them coming.
'I'm getting a drink,' Sasuke muttered before walking off.
Sakura frowned at his retreating back before turning to Naruto. 'So, congratulations on your discovery,' she said, smiling. Sakura had been the first person Naruto had thought to consult, after Shikamaru and Chouji. 'About time too.'
'Heh,' Naruto scratched the back of his neck sheepishly, and Sakura's expression turned thoughtful. 'So, is that the reason Sasuke's been so high strung lately?'
'Sasuke was born high strung, he can't help it. It's that hockey stick he's got lodging in his ass,' Naruto replied automatically. 'Though yeah, probably.'
'What did you do?'
'I,' Naruto considered all the physical damage he was risking for a moment, before plunging in anyhow, 'kissed him.'
Sakura seemed to choke on her own tongue. 'You…Sasuke, you?
'Now he's pretending that I don't exist.'
Sakura face had turned slightly pink. 'Oh. Okay. Ahem. So how was it?'
'The kiss? I don't remember.'
'WHAT? Naruto, you imbecile –'
'Look, it lasted three seconds! And it was a complete accident anyway. And I was too shocked to register much. That's why I want to do it again, to remember!'
Sakura arched an unsympathetic eyebrow. 'So you want to kiss him just so you remember what the other kiss felt like?'
'Yes, but only the first time. Then I want to kiss him because I want to. Then I'll kiss him again to piss him off. Then I'll –'
Kiss him because I can.
Sakura turned away grumbling about the injustice of it all, but all the same, she looked slightly mollified.
But the kissing would have to wait because Sasuke was being as coorporative as a triple knot.
As soon as the train started moving, he pushed his seat back and dozed off again.
Naruto was a hundred percent sure that the bastard was pretending.
He considered drawing a moustache on him, or writing 'Property of Uzumaki Naruto' on his forehead, but then decided that his chances of ever kissing Sasuke again would probably lessen considerably if he were, you know, dead.
Not to mention his chances of doing other things to Sasuke.
Unless…did Sasuke have a ghost kink? Naruto's gaze fell on the other boy thoughtfully.
So he waited until Sakura had fallen asleep on his other side, before poking Sasuke's forearm.
'Hey, bastard,' he whispered, 'Stop pretending to sleep.'
No change in expression.
Poke. 'I have a tomatooooooo.'
No change in expression. Sasuke, Naruto thought, would make a great dead body on the sets of Japanese drama.
Poke. 'I was wondering, teme, but do you have a ghost kink?'
AHA! Sasuke's eyebrow twitched!
Poke. 'You can tell me, you know.' Poke. 'About your fetishes, I mean. Then I'll tell you mine. I've heard (poke) that a pre sex discussion does wonders for a person's sex life.' Poke.
The Vein of Terror chan made a rapid appearance, and Naruto waved at her, gleefully.
Poke, 'I can even talk dirty, if you want.'
Then all talking stopped as Naruto's finger was twisted, brutally. Naruto screeched.
'Sasuke, stop! Shit, someone save me! SASUKE, YOU JERK, YOU NEED MY FINGERS INTACT FOR WHEN WE – AAAARRRRGGHHHHH!'
Wrong thing to say because Sasuke showed all the mercy of a hungry T-Rex.
Later, when Naruto looked at him, Sasuke was pretending to be asleep again.
Though this time, he had a slight smirk tilting the corners of his mouth.
'Drama queen!' he muttered, before wincing as a very disgruntled, wide awake Sakura punched his head.
They reached Kyoto in the evening. A brown haired boy, who introduced himself as the president of the Student Council, was present to greet them at the station.
'We were originally going to provide you with accommodation on the campus,' he said, apologetically, 'but there's been some problem with the…pipes. So we're putting you up at a guest house five minutes from the Academy, and we will do everything to ensure that you are comfortable.'
'Has Sound been invited too? To watch the debate?' Sakura asked.
'They had to turn down our invitation because they are having their exams this week.'
The guest house was very comfortable. There was only one problem.
'Three rooms?' Sasuke asked through clenched teeth, after the boy had left. 'Do we look like three people?'
'Hmm, I'm turning in. Got a lot of sleep to catch up on.' Kakashi yawned.
'What bullshit, you slept the entire journey.'
'Well, tomorrow's a big day,' Kakashi grabbed his key from the counter. 'G'nite, boys, Sakura.'
Then he was gone. Naruto could almost hear Kakashi's mental chuckles reverberating through the walls.
'Well I suppose we had better practice one more time,' Sakura spoke into the silence that followed. 'That guy said we could ask for dinner anytime we wanted, so I guess we'll just have to give the reception a ring.'
Naruto's stomach agreed with her logic. Sasuke grabbed their room key and stalked away.
They practiced till eleven, after which Sakura's head began to loll forward miserably, and they all decided to turn in for the day. Without a word, Sasuke grabbed his pajamas and shut himself up in the bathroom.
'Don't do anything stupid,' Sakura whispered fiercely before closing the door behind her.
The sound of the running shower made Naruto's throat run dry.
He was going to sleep on the same bed with Sasuke.
He was gay and he was going to sleep on the same bed with Sasuke, who was also gay.
At least, that's how Naruto presumed things went. Hadn't he given Sasuke a hard on? To simplify things down Naruto did a quick calculation in his own head.
Naruto gave Sasuke a hard on = Gay!Sasuke
OH MY GOD, he was gay (proof: all his friends, and also the fact that he liked Sasuke) and he was going to sleep on the same bed with Sasuke, who was also gay (proof: Naruto induced hard on)!!!
Naruto's heart started doing the hula.
What should he do? Naruto wondered if he should start making the bed, or would that seem too obvious? And eager? Oh wait, if the train journey hadn't already made his intentions clear as crystal then he didn't know what would.
Naruto tested the mattress a little. It seemed fine.
But would fine do? They were, were they not, teenage boys with volcanoes of stamina?
So Naruto bounced on the mattress. Once, twice.
The bathroom door opened and Sasuke walked into the room in his pajamas, hair still damp from the shower.
'What are you doing?' he asked suspiciously.
'…guh?' Naruto inquired, hearing considerably dulled by the blood rushing past his ears.
'Never mind,' Sasuke walked up to the bed and hesitated. Then, very slowly, as if the bed might explode any minute, he lifted the bedsheet and slid inside.
Naruto's brain was melting. Sasuke in Pajamas! Sasuke in pajamas in bed! Should he make the first move? Would Sasuke kill him?
No, Sasuke wouldn't kill him. He was needed for the debate.
Would Sasuke kill him after the debate then? Was the sex worth dying for?
What if Sasuke was very bad in bed? His trial with Temari had been a disaster, hadn't it?
But Naruto had given Sasuke a hard on! Sasuke probably wanted Naruto to come on to him!
Naruto was a virgin, not an idiot. So he immediately saw the situation for what it was.
Sasuke was playing hard to get!
Very convinced, Naruto nodded to himself and edged closer to Sasuke.
Sasuke looked at him inquiringly. Then Sasuke sniffed.
Naruto was flying! It was beautiful! There was soft golden light and pleasantly cool air whipping past his face, and this was probably heaven because-
He hit the floor with a yowl.
What the fuck?
Naruto looked at the beautiful madman before him in rage. 'You!' he yelled, pointing a finger at his attacker. 'You kicked me!'
Sasuke looked down at him imperiously. 'You stink. Go take a shower.'
'So you kicked me? You couldn't act like an Earthman for once and simply tell me?'
'This was more efficient. You're no longer on the bed and you're one step closer to the bathroom. Go take a shower.'
'Don't tell me what to do, you retard. I don't believe you just –'
Then divine inspiration struck Naruto like lightening strikes trees. He immediately saw the situation for what it was.
Sasuke wanted him clean!
And why would Sasuke want him clean?
Naruto's brain was a happy, happy puddle of goo.
Somewhere amidst the birds and the bees, he saw Sasuke frowning at him.
'What're you looking so happy for?'
Naruto gave him a knowing smirk. 'Like you don't know, Sasuke,' he said before waltzing into bathroom, and slamming the door behind him.
Because, well, Sasuke slammed things all the time, and Naruto had decided to find it sexy.
He scrubbed thoroughly. Naruto knew Sasuke. The guy used paper napkins after his meals, for heaven's sake. He'd probably go OCD during sex too.
Then Naruto let himself get distracted by scenarios which involved him teaching Sasuke how to get down and dirrrty for too long, and the shower ran cold.
Though by then, he needed it.
Sasuke was going through their notes in the room. He looked up as Naruto entered.
'I've got another point for you, cram it in before the conclusion-'
'I've been thinking,' Naruto interrupted him.
'So where are the injuries?' Sasuke asked, an eyebrow quirked.
God, didn't Sasuke know anything about setting the mood?
'So I've been thinking,' Naruto continued, ignoring the poor bastard who probably didn't know any better. 'And I came to the conclusion that there's a lot of tension between us.' He waved his hand between the two of them, leaving no room for confusion.
Sasuke stared at him impassively.
'Sexual tension,' Naruto clarified, to remove any doubt which might have arisen.
'And you know what they say about sexual tension don't you?'
When Sasuke remained as responsive as a pillar, Naruto answered his own question.
'Get rid of it!'
A one thousand, seven hundred and eighty pages Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary crashed into his face with the vengeance of a father bull.
Naruto remembered thanking God for letting it be a soft cover one this time.
Then the world went black.
When Naruto came to, it was dark.
A bull, no a book, no – Sasuke.
Sasuke had tried to murder him! The object of his affections had attacked him with a dictionary! Naruto wanted to cry.
Then a voice said, 'you're awake,' and something cold touched the side of his face.
Naruto's blood froze.
'Where have you brought me?' he demanded. Only his voice came out croaky. 'Why can't I see anything? Have you blindfolded me?'
Hell, had the circumstances been different, he might have even thought this was sexy! Those would be the circumstances under which his face wouldn't feel like it was about to fall off.
He heard Sasuke sigh, and finally realized what the cold thing was - ice. 'No you idiot, I've turned off the light. You would've found it too harsh. And I've brought you to the bed.'
'You tried to kill me!' Naruto accused.
'You were supposed to dodge!' Sasuke retaliated.
Naruto recognized that tone. It was the tone Sasuke used to put up a self righteous front whenever he was getting cornered by an opponent.
'How many hours have I been out for?' he asked, trying to rub the guilt in.
Oh. That didn't sound so exciting. Sakura chan wouldn't even be impressed.
Naruto sniffed, 'that doesn't make what you did right, asshole.'
He heard Sasuke make a frustrated noise. 'I know, you idiot, I know! I just,' Naruto winced as the ice was jabbed into a tender cheekbone, 'do you have to go around making sick jokes like that all the time?'
Quietly, Naruto said, 'I wasn't joking.'
Sasuke stilled. Naruto felt the ice melting against his cheekbone, a trail of cold water streaming down the side of his face. He felt a brain freeze coming, but he didn't complain, because Sasuke's fingers were right there, five pinpricks of heat, like a narrow beam of sunlight after a blizzard.
How were his fingers even warm, when he had been holding the ice for the past eight minutes? Then Naruto realized that Sasuke had been switching hands. Stupid logic. Sasuke couldn't even panic like a normal person.
Then the ice was gone and Sasuke's fingers were still there, light against his swollen skin; there because Sasuke had allowed them to remain there, because this was probably Sasuke's spastic way of saying that he was sorry.
And Naruto knew it was pathetic, but it made his chest feel warm.
Because he sort of understood where Sasuke was coming from. Sasuke was scared. Naruto could get that. Naruto could forgive that.
So he closed his eyes and leaned into the touch, which was his spastic way of saying that it's okay.
It lasted for about four seconds, and then Sasuke was pulling his hand back.
'We need to get you checked up. You might have got a concussion,' he said, tone crisp. 'The debate starts at twelve, so we'll take you to Kyoto's infirmary straight after breakfast.'
Naruto found himself smiling, 'Why, Sasuke, are you worried about me?'
Sasuke snorted, but Naruto thought that it sounded weak. 'I'm worried about the debate. We can't have you go up on stage and blank out.'
'I'm fine, we don't need to go to the infirmary.'
'Shut up. We're going.'
Naruto snickered, 'you're totally worried about me.'
Sasuke huffed and got out off bed.
'Where're you going?'
'To draw the curtains, its pitch black in here.'
A moment later the room was flooded in silver moonlight. Naruto turned his face to Sasuke when the other boy climbed back onto the bed.
'Sasuke,' he said, 'maybe you should check my eyes.'
Sasuke looked at him blankly. 'What?'
'See if my pupils are the right size. They do that when checking for concussions.'
'I'll need torchlight for that, moron.'
'Sasukeeee, just check already!'
Sasuke sent him a look of extreme suspicion before closing in and peering into Naruto's eyes. Naruto held his gaze steady for a second.
Then he punched him. Hard.
'What the –'
'Now we're even, bastard,' Naruto told him, grin feral.
Sasuke looked as though he was having a hard time restraining himself from inflicting more damage on Naruto's being.
'You really shouldn't be so violent, Sasuke,' Naruto said, impetuously. 'God, after we get married, you'll be such a wife beater.'
Sasuke was silent for a moment, before he said, very precisely, 'dobe, do you realize you just referred to yourself as the wife?'
Naruto's jaw dropped. 'I did not! I didn't mean it like that.'
'I didn't! I'm way more manly! And I wasn't the one sobbing over my immobile body just a few minutes ago.'
'Sobbing over your – you must be concussed if you're having such delusions.
'Delusions, my foot. You even fight like a girl SasUKE, I mean – you throw things.'
'Didn't you say you wanted to be a ninja? From what I've heard, ninjas throw things all the time.'
Naruto gasped at the audacity of the bastard, 'Oh, DON'T even imagine for a SECOND that you would make a better ninja than me, you asswipe!'
'It wouldn't be difficult to be a better ninja than you, dobe, you couldn't even dodge a dictionary.'
'That was different!
'I'm sure it was,' Sasuke said dryly. 'Goodnight, idiot.'
Naruto sulked for a full minute before it dawned on him that Sasuke hadn't actually said anything against the marriage bit.
Naruto might be an amateur when it came to matters of the heart, but he wasn't an amateur enough to miss a hint when it was doing the mambo right under his nose. He immediately saw the situation for what it was.
Sasuke had left him an opening!
'….so,' Naruto said, getting straight to the point, 'wanna have sex now?'
Sasuke threw a pillow at him.
The nut, Naruto thought, was cracking.
Naruto woke up in the middle of the night to find that he had rolled onto his side, and apparently, so had Sasuke. They were close, so close that Naruto could feel Sasuke's breath on his jaw, and despite its warmth, he shivered.
Sasuke in his sleep was amazingly peaceful to look at, and it reminded Naruto of all his reasons for wanting to break down the walls that surrounded the boy. Sasuke's mouth was turned up, and his eyelashes caught the moonlight, like a web; with a smile Naruto recalled their softness.
When the world spun for Naruto, it spun around people – important people, people who he would trade his life for. Naruto had their faces etched on the back of his eyelids, like a precious photograph a soldier might carry of his daughter, tucked away with nothing but a layer of skin separating it from his heart.
There had been a time when he had been alone and scared, and had thought that it was okay to stay that way, because wasn't it better than being afraid of everyone moving forward and leaving him behind all the time?
If his parents could have done that, what guarantee did he have that others wouldn't?
But then he had met people who accepted him, loved him even, taught him that it was okay to move along with the others. There was no guarantee that they'd stick around forever, and so it was okay to be scared, really, because if you thought about it, they were scared about you too. So it was all even.
So Naruto had accepted fear as a part of the game there was just no getting rid of. He understood it, so he understood Sasuke.
For someone whose brother had been arrested for murdering their entire family, Sasuke handled the fear thing pretty well.
Except when he snapped and started throwing dictionaries.
So even though Naruto understood Sasuke's fear of loss, he also thought it to be extremely stupid.
Because if he had learnt anything, it was that if you let your fears rule you, you've already lost the game.
Naruto lay absolutely still, breathing the same air as Sasuke, and thought, please stop running away.
Because even though Naruto was ready to chase him for the rest of their lives, think of all the sex they'd be missing out on!
Smiling a little more, Naruto raised his arm, and very carefully, brought it down to rest on Sasuke's waist.
The next morning Naruto woke up to the feeling of fingers being dug into his ribs. Because there were fingers digging into his ribs.
'Dobe, let go,' came a muffled voice from somewhere around the vicinity of his chest.
He released his hold on what his sleep fuzzed brain registered was definitely not a pillow. Immediately, Sasuke scrambled away, glaring at Naruto. He would have looked a bit more threatening, had his face not been the colour of a tomato.
'Good morning,' Naruto said, stretching lazily, and smiling. 'You're cute when you blush.'
'I'm not blushing,' Sasuke snapped, 'I was simply asphyxiated.'
Even as he said that, Naruto noticed, his eyes swiped a quick trail down Naruto's body. He grinned, and then promptly winced as the right half of his face gave a violent throb.
Sasuke, instead of looking guilty, smiled smugly. The asshole!
Sakura chan did a double take when she saw Naruto's face. Naruto wasn't surprised, he had done one too when he had looked into the mirror that morning to find that his face had acquired the colouring of different latitudinal zones. Kakashi had merely raised his eyebrow at Sasuke, who turned away from all them and immersed himself into the task of finishing his toast.
Naruto liked toast. He liked Sasuke's mouth. There were a few crumbs of toast which had accumulated at the corners of Sasuke's mouth.
As far as Naruto was concerned, that in itself was a breakfast fit for a king.
Then the mouth spoke to him.
'Huh?' he said brightly.
Sasuke let out an exasperated breath although, Naruto noticed, he coloured slightly. 'I said, we have to go for your check up after this.'
'Oh. Right, yeah. You're blushing again.'
Sakura choked into her cereal, and Kakashi brought his newspaper up so that it would cover his face.
For a moment Sasuke went as rigid as the chair he was sitting on. Then he looked, very pointedly, at the butter knife that lay between them on the table.
Naruto immediately stopped grinning. The butter knife might not have been made to kill, but Naruto knew from experience that Sasuke was very creative when it came to causing pain.
The check up had revealed that he was as right as rain.
Naruto wished that it would rain.
The last time it had rained, he had gotten to kiss Sasuke.
He wished that he could kiss Sasuke.
Sasuke. Mmm, pretty…
Sakura jabbed him hard in the ribs. 'Stop spacing out, idiot, and start taking notes.'
And Naruto was brought back to the debate.
Usually Naruto had no problems staying awake during debates. As a matter of fact he liked finding faults in his opponents' speeches, taking notes on them and passing them down to Sasuke to use during the rebuttal.
But today. Today Gaara had spent the past six minutes elaborating upon the joys of maternal love, and Naruto couldn't seem to be able to keep his mind from wondering anymore.
The timer had gone off twice already. Why wasn't this guy stopping?
In fact, Naruto noticed, that there seemed to be something terribly wrong with the redhead today. Three minutes into the speech, and he had stopped debating and started babbling.
Gaara was speaking like someone possessed, and cracking under emotion. It was painful to watch.
Naruto turned his face to where Temari and Kankarou were sitting and caught identical looks of horror on their faces.
'What the hell's happening here?' he wondered out loud.
Sakura looked at him sadly. 'This is bad. I had a cousin in Kyoto who once told me about a rumor she had heard. Gaara's mom committed suicide when he was a kid. The rumor is… that she had tried to take him with her.'
Naruto gaped. 'Gaara? Why the hell?'
Sakura turned to the podium where Gaara was still speaking while gesturing wildly with his arms. 'They say she had turned insane. Something to do with the father.'
Naruto processed this information in shock. Here he was, trying to act the hero in his own little world, while there were people out there, dying a little more each day that they lived.
The world was not small. It was not limited to the sketches at the back of Naruto's eyelids.
For the first time in his life it occurred to Naruto that sometimes, even he wouldn't be able to save the day.
Then he saw Sasuke's hand, unmoving, clenching a pen so hard that the knuckles had turned white. His body looked as though it had been coiled to the point of snapping.
Oh, he thought, but today I can, right?
He tore a piece of paper, drew a smiley on it, and scribbled Have I ever told that you look awfully sexy in those jeans?
Then he flipped the paper over and passed it on to Sasuke.
He watched out of the corner of his eye as Sasuke read it, threw Naruto a glare, and bent down to scribble something back.
A few seconds later Sakura was pushing the paper into Naruto's hand.
Shut up, dobe, and concentrate on the debate.
Naruto grinned and wrote You're blushing again. That's sexy too, you know. Though you'll never be as sexy as The Vein of Terror chan. Hehe. But no need for jealousy, MUNCHKIN, I'm all yours.
Naruto mentally gave a sigh of relief as Sasuke finally, finally, switched Gaara off and focused his attention on trying to glare Naruto into an alternate universe.
As he stuck his tongue out at Sasuke, Naruto thought that what the hell, even Superman could be defeated by Kryptonite, and Robin always fell for the bad girls. Who set down rules for superheroes anyway?
Besides, he was a ninja.
Leaf won the debate, and Naruto was announced the best speaker of the day.
He traced the swell of the metal with the pad of his thumb and wished for a moment that he could return the cup. The trophy felt cold and unwelcome in his hands, like a spoon when he wanted to eat ramen.
Over its massive rim he saw Temari approaching him.
'You got what you wanted,' she said, with a half smile.
Have I, Naruto wondered.
He mustered a smile, 'Yeah,' he said brightly, 'I never give up on the things I want.'
He glanced over at Sasuke who was talking to one of the judges.
Temari touched a finger to the base of the trophy. 'Massive, isn't it?'
Naruto watched her for a second, before quickly making up his mind.
Temari looked at him in surprise, 'He went out. Did you want to talk to him?'
'No, I just,' he circled a fist around the stem of the cup and held it out to her. 'Give this to him.'
Temari gaped at him. 'What?'
Naruto smiled at her, a genuine one this time. 'He was the only one who didn't go up on stage today, and lie through his teeth, so I'd say he deserves this.'
'But this…you said you wanted this.'
'Yeah,' Naruto grinned, stretching his arms over his head, feeling strangely light all of a sudden. 'I'll get it next year too, don't worry.'
Slowly, Temari began to smile, 'Don't get so cocky, runt, next year we're kicking your ass.'
'Yeah, yeah, I wouldn't get your hopes up.'
Temari picked up the trophy carefully, and with one last smile, she began to walk away.
Naruto called out to her, 'Oh, and Temari,' he smirked at her when she turned back, face inquiring, 'The thing with Sasuke? That was totally a special case scenario.'
They had taken the night train back.
Naruto had decided to feel very sleepy.
He had also decided that enough time had been wasted in idle talk. The time had come for direct action. Wear a red tea cozy and take the bull by its horns.
So he had (in his sleep, of course) let his head fall on Sasuke's shoulder.
Immediately to have it jerked off.
But Jiraiya had not brought Naruto up to be a quitter. He tried it again.
Around about the fifth try, it had started to resemble a really robotic dance.
Finally Sasuke had hissed, 'dobe!'
Naruto's shock was as great as the heavens! How had Sasuke realized that he was awake? He had been acting so well!
Impossible! To make things all the more convincing, Naruto released a loud snore.
Beside him Sasuke snorted. 'Dobe, if you don't get off, there will be pain.'
Naruto cracked an eye open, giving up the act, 'Trust me, teme, there's nothing I want more than to get off, but I'll need your help there.'
Sasuke threw him a filthy look. 'Too bad then, you'll have to handle that yourself.'
'Alright,' Naruto waggled his eyebrows before resting his head on Sasuke's shoulder again, 'you can watch if you like.'
He heard Sasuke make an exasperated noise, 'God, do you ever give up?'
'No,' said Naruto immediately, 'Besides, you don't really want me to. You like me.'
'Your delusions worry me.' And Naruto's head was jerked off again.
By the time they had reached, it was already dawn.
Or it was supposed to be. Naruto watched in dismay as the rain pouring down from the inky sky slashed at billboards like the edges of a million angry knives. 'Who was supposed to pick us up again?'
Kakashi glanced at his watch with a worried frown, 'Iruka was. I can't get through to him.'
Sakura's father offered to try with his mobile.
After twenty minutes parading up and down the platform in hopes of getting a decent signal, Kakashi came back to them with a change of plans. Iruka had been stuck in a mini hailstorm at the other side of the city, and was not going to be able to make it.
'Calm down, Naruto,' he said to the boy struggling in Sakura's death grip as he attempted to run through the wind and the rain to get to Iruka. 'He's just five minutes away from the campus, so I told him to turn back. We'll spend the morning at Haruno san's house and then go back to school after lunch.'
Sakura's mother fussed over them with towels and breakfast till Sakura had to bodily drag her teammates out of her reach, and up the stairs to the guestroom.
'There are towels in the bathroom and if you want anymore food, the kitchen's always open. Don't tell my mom though, because she'll try to empty the entire refrigerator on you. Don't call me, I'm going to crash.' She stifled a yawn before adding, 'And I'd appreciate it if there were no murders in my guestroom. Just saying.'
Naruto turned to Sasuke, 'So do you want to shower first? Or can I go? Or can we shower togeth -'
'You go,' Sasuke walked over to the balcony door, 'Call me when you're done.'
Naruto studied the objects in the Haruno's bathroom cabinet with great suspicion. Nothing looked safe. He would actually have to read the labels. Gah.
He selected anything that was not pink in colour. There hadn't been many options.
Finally, he exited the bathroom smelling of apples.
Why couldn't there be tomato scented shampoos? It would have been a piece of cake seducing Sasuke while smelling of tomatoes. What was up with these manufacturers anyway? Did they have no imagination?
He found Sasuke standing outside on the balcony. The rain had calmed down to a light drizzle, and the sky was a dull red canopy above the buildings.
'Hey,' Naruto called from the door, 'you're getting wet.'
Sasuke glanced at him before looking away again.
Naruto let out a noisy breath and walked up to the stubborn idiot. Why couldn't he have fallen for someone a little less immature? After they got married, Naruto would probably have to take care of Sasuke like mothers took care of their five year olds.
Not that he minded it. Much.
He stopped next to Sasuke and put his hands on his hips. 'Sasuke. Inside. You can brood in the room.'
Sasuke looked bemused.
'You're going to catch a cold,' Naruto elaborated.
'Now, listen to me young man –'
Naruto glared at the ungracious bastard in front of him, 'I'm annoying? I'm annoying? Well excuse me for caring about your health.'
Sasuke turned a little, so that he was fully facing Naruto. 'You're extraordinarily loud.'
Naruto was about to come up with another incredibly brilliant response, but something about the other's tone stopped him. Sasuke didn't sound half as much as though he was insulting Naruto as he sounded…well, affectionate. In an exasperated way.
'Um, okay?' Naruto said, curious to see where this was going.
'And you're always in my personal space.'
Naruto bristled. 'That's not too difficult, you know, seeing as your personal space is larger than the entire northern hemisphere.'
Sasuke rolled his eyes, before focusing their intensity on a potted plant near Naruto's head. 'What I'm trying to say is …you should know that, well, having something can be a lot less exciting than the chase.'
Very slowly, and with the force of a herd of stampeding cattle, it dawned on Naruto that the magnitude of Sasuke's idiocy would probably break the Richter scale.
'Teme,' he said, very clearly. 'You're an idiot.'
Sasuke looked greatly affronted. 'Excuse me,' he said, very tightly, before taking a step towards the room.
Naruto grabbed Sasuke's sleeve and dragged his stupid, stupid bastard towards him. When he tried to pull away, Naruto reversed their positions, so that Sasuke was trapped against the railing, and Naruto was gripping his hands.
'Sasuke,' he said, softly, 'Sasuke.'
After a second, Sasuke stopped struggling.
Naruto pressed forward and lightly touched his forehead to Sasuke's. Closed his eyes and breathed in his scent. Tried to calm his own erratic heartbeat.
When he opened his eyes, Sasuke's were very, very close.
'But the chase is never going to get over, Sasuke,' Naruto said, his voice just a breath. Everything was too new, too fragile, and it felt as though if he didn't tread carefully enough, it would all come to pieces. 'Just think. After I finally manage to get you to sleep with me, I'll try to get you to cuddle. You'll give me a few broken limbs before I manage that. After that, I'll try holding your hand in public. If you cripple me, you're paying for the wheelchair. Then comes the moving in part. If you haven't killed me by then, I'll try to get you to cook me some ramen. After that, I'll have to convince you to let me name our kids Ironman and Aquagirl. And after all that is achieved, there's still that maid's outfit I have to convince you to wear. So yup, the way I see it, it's going to be a long chase.'
It would have been an extremely romantic moment if not for the heel crushing Naruto's bare toes.
'Let me go, you insane plebe,' Sasuke was struggling against Naruto's hold, 'Or I'll scream rape.'
Naruto rolled his eyes. 'Do you have to make everything so difficult? Also, scream rape? You're such a girl!'
Then he closed the distance between them and kissed Sasuke.
Naruto slid his lips once, twice, over Sasuke's unresponsive ones before leaning back slightly to look at him. Sasuke had gone stiff, as stiff as cardboard, and his eyes were wide and terrified.
Naruto kissed his nose, and smiled.
He waited for the slight softening of Sasuke's eyes before leaning in again.
This time, with the uncertainty of a feather floating down from the sky, Sasuke pressed back, lips yielding under Naruto's. Sasuke's lips were soft, and a little cold from the rain, but once they parted, Sasuke's mouth was nothing but a cavern of wet heat. Naruto slid his tongue in and trailed long, slow paths along the insides of Sasuke's cheeks, the roof his mouth, the length of his tongue, anxious not to miss a single crevice or fold, because if he did, he was sure that something terrible, terrible would happen.
He moved his hands in quick, successive jabs; light fleeting touches over the wet fabric of his shirt, on the shoulder plates, the backbone, down the sides, the protrusion of the hip bones, making sure that Sasuke was really there, and that yes, this was really happening, before sliding his arms around Sasuke's waist and pulling him close enough to melt against him. Sasuke's shirt was cold, but pressed up this close, Naruto could feel the body heat seeping in from underneath the cloth, fire under water, the warmth almost an undertone, like the whisper of a promise.
After what seemed like ages, Sasuke's hands came up as well; one slid through Naruto's hair, combing through the thick strands at the back, and the other wiped the water drops on his neck, rough palm smooth against his pulse, and finally came to a rest, a cup at his jaw.
Naruto couldn't recall when the kiss had turned frantic. When he thought about it later he was sure that it had been Sasuke who had turned the tables, though the brunette had denied any such thing, declaring that it was appalling how Naruto expected everyone else to follow suit just because he kissed like a cave man. But before they knew it, the softness had given away to bites, and licks, and heavy panting, and Sasuke's finger nails digging into Naruto's scalp. The rain sluiced down their skin, slick and giving, lasting only a moment before it was licked away from it's puddle at the hollow of a throat or it's coating over an upper lip.
And it had definitely been Sasuke who had wrenched away for one unforgiving moment to gasp, 'bed,' before diving in again, leaving Naruto the complicated task of having to think of a successful plan involving him, Sasuke, some skillful maneuvering, and making it to the bed without having to break the kiss for another second, breathing be damned.
It was a mystery how they managed it, but three minutes later saw them in a tangled heap on the bed, their clothes a wet mess on the floor.
But the world was a hard, hard place to live in, because Naruto found himself breaking the kiss again to move back and look down at Sasuke.
It was gratifying, however to hear Sasuke emit a loud groan, and shoot an annoyed glare at Naruto.
'Sasuke,' Naruto said, trying to get his breathing even, and failing utterly, 'listen to me. This, this is it. We're doing this. We can't take it back afterwards, okay? Because I won't be ready to forget it, even if you want to.'
He held his breath as Sasuke's frown grew deeper.
'Fine,' he finally snapped. 'But just so you know, I don't do cuddles.'
Naruto's breath left him in a relieved puff of laughter, 'Alright, we shall then indulge in some manly hugging.'
Before he could come up with another scathing remark, he bent down and planted a big, sloppy kiss on Sasuke's lips.
Then he swept his gaze down Sasuke's (very) naked body.
That was when Uzumaki Naruto's brain died.
'What are you doing dobe? Get back here,' He heard through the hubba hubbas in his head, before he was jerked down by a fistful of hair, and Sasuke was kissing him again, hard and insistent, all traces of previous uncertainty forgotten.
Naruto regretfully left Sasuke's mouth, kissed his eyelids, nose, forehead and temples. The Vein of Terror chan was in hiding again, and for a second Naruto contemplated making Sasuke deliberately angry during sex just so he could lean in and lick her.
Or would that make him unfaithful?
Shaking his head free of thoughts which didn't even make sense anymore, Naruto transferred his attention to Sasuke's neck. He kissed the jaw, traced his open mouth over the pulse, before biting down on a shoulder, smiling as he heard Sasuke try and fail to stifle a moan.
Naruto put his inexperience to good use, biting and licking, and repeating the action whenever he heard Sasuke make one of those noises, the kind that made all the blood rush straight down to his groin. He licked a wet path down Sasuke's chest, pausing only to tease lightly at the nipples with his teeth, before continuing his journey southwards. Finally, he found himself nuzzling the soft inside of a thigh, face level with Sasuke's very painful looking erection.
Hah, Take that Temari!
Very carefully, he bent down to lick at the pre cum pooling at the head.
Sasuke jerked so violently, that the bed gave a dangerous creak.
They had to use lotion (Sasuke said they did, Naruto had had no idea) because the only alternative was foot cream, and they had both come to the conclusion that they liked their bits a little too much to expose them to that sort of experimentation. Naruto had sat between Sasuke's legs, warily eyeing the bottle of body cocoon before Sasuke had finally snapped.
'Dobe, your fingers. Use the lotion. You have to prepare me.'
It had been weird at first. Putting his fingers up other people's ass was not something Naruto did on a daily basis, and if he were to be honest with himself, Sasuke didn't look much like he was having a good time either. Wasn't it supposed to be a bit more pleasurable? It had to be, gay people had lots of sex, didn't they? Why would they, if they didn't like it?
So Naruto decided to experiment. Fifteen seconds into the experimentation, Sasuke's back arched up like a bow, and he screamed so loudly, that Naruto had to use his other hand to cover his mouth.
So that's why.
'Ne, Sasuke,' he said, snickering, 'So is this your G-spot?'
Sasuke's masculinity was established a second later when a heel with connected with Naruto's spine. Hard.
Taking that as a sign that Sasuke was more than prepared, Naruto coated his cock with liberal amounts of lotion before bracing himself with his hands on Sasuke's hipbones, and carefully easing himself in.
Then there was nothing but heat, and for a long, long moment, Naruto forgot to breathe.
'Naruto,' he heard Sasuke say below him, 'God, move!'
So he did, and the white, blinding heat was more intense and overpowering than anything Naruto had ever felt in his entire life - but that was only till Sasuke opened his eyes and looked directly into his, after which it was explosive.
He fisted his hand around the length of Sasuke's cock, and three hard, successsive strokes were all it took.
Sasuke's face twisted, obscene and beautiful, and he said, 'Naruto.'
And Naruto didn't last a second after that.
Later, Naruto turned his face into Sasuke's neck and asked, 'Alright?'
Sasuke gave him a small smile. 'Hn.'
Naruto grinned, before raising himself on one elbow and leaning in to kiss Sasuke's cheek. Because he wanted to. Then, when Sasuke wrinkled his nose and made an annoyed sound at the back of his throat, he kissed his eyelashes, just to piss him off.
Naruto marveled at the way they fluttered, just like the wings of a butterfly, under his touch.
When he pulled back, Sasuke was scowling, even though his cheeks were suspiciously darker.
So he smiled, and kissed Sasuke again, just because he could.
In order to complete this moment of perfection, Naruto snaked an arm around Sasuke's waist and murmured against his open mouth, 'manly hug?'
The kick that was aimed at Naruto's shins resulted in him limping even worse than Sasuke when they made their way down for lunch that afternoon.
(1) For those who don't already know, heartless are these small, mean things without hearts (!) in the video game Kingdom Hearts.