Beta'd by Darkalbino till Master finds free time to read, let alone breathe again. XD Of course, this is also dedicated to said lovely temp beta.

Exhibition

Chapter 3: Curiosity Killed The Cat…

Sasuke's art studio was NOT what Naruto imagined when they'd briefly spoken on the phone. Again, it went to show that artists were just weird.

However, he was apparently a weird but extremely famous artist who Jiraiya happened to be a big fan of.

When Naruto had called and spoken with his godfather, the old pervert was actually practically jumping for joy about being offered the chance to meet the Uchiha brothers and that one had offered to do the cover art.

"Naturally we'll make up some sort of deal with them," Jiraiya said. "As they offered, we can lower their payment unlike the last artist I used for Icha Icha Paradise. Do you know he actually demanded twice his usual fee? I suppose he thought we would definitely use him! Ha! That'll show him not to charge extra," Jiraiya cackled.

Jiraiya was a stingy guy, even though he was plenty wealthy enough, Naruto mused. It wasn't even as if that money was going to Jiraiya anyway. The publishing company would pay for the cover art. They could spend a million dollars on it if they wanted; it wouldn't be going into Jiraiya's pocket either way.

Shaking his head at how weird his author god father was, Naruto focused on how weird Sasuke's studio was.

The place wasn't dark or emo, which was a nice surprise. There were a lot of lights over head that Naruto suspected were more high-tech to get the exact lighting Sasuke wanted when working on a painting. Naruto idly wondered if it had a disco ball or black lights.

Large windows (which were currently covered by thick, dark blue drapes) would probably help give natural light if Sasuke needed it.

No more than fifteen paintings hung on the walls displaying his artwork; Naruto had expected to see hundreds. There were also all portraits. Naruto recognized Sasuke's brother, Itachi as well as the woman who had just let him into the studio, and a man that looked like Itachi, but older and with brown hair.

Only a few more portraits lined the walls. Most seemed to be simplistic, but Naruto recognized the "Silent Killers of the Soul" hanging up. Another morbid one of a man floating eerily in water, his pale hand reaching up struck a chord with Naruto, especially when he recognized the man's face.

The man in the painting was Sasuke, and he seemed to be drowning. He didn't know why, but it was hard for Naruto to look at this one. Instead, he turned his back on it, and instead looked at the way Sasuke had two sets of organization; by color wheel and then by the alphabetic name of the paint.

Overall the place was also strikingly clean. Or at least, clean from paint and other art materials. There seemed to be a lot of art supplies that cluttered the area, but it still seemed organized nonetheless.

Gaara's studio tended to have a light dusting of sand. His friend Sai usually had ink stains on the surface of his table while his other friend Neji tended to have bits of dried clay as he used his gentle yet firm hands to shape and model sculptures.

The weirdest thing about Sasuke's studio, despite the cleanliness, was all the cats.

If the artist were around, he could have asked why cats. As it was, Naruto had come to this address, been ushered inside by a very petite dark-haired woman, and promptly left alone.

There were five cats that Naruto could see milling about. A slightly chubby, all black cat sat sprawled up on a shelf, its body stretched out with its paw dangling over the edge. Another cat sat near by it: mostly black, but with white on its front paws and a little tuft of white under its neck. That cat sat alert, watching Naruto's movements. Its slender body seemed arched and almost ready to pounce.

An extremely fat cat sat on the floor. It had a large, white belly, white on its paws and face, with gray and black on its back and tail, a pattern of stripes and spots along its side.

An orange cat was curled up in a corner, asleep with its face curled in on its tail.

A mostly gray cat with white on its face, belly and paws began stalking behind Naruto as he walked around the room. Finally stopping in his exploration of the studio, the cat caught up with him and wound itself between Naruto's legs, rubbing his leg affectionately, purring loudly.

Naruto bent down and began to scratch the gray cat's head, a smile forming on his lips as the cat nuzzled into Naruto's scratches, rubbing his face and whiskers against Naruto's fingers.

"I didn't think to ask if you were allergic to cats," Sasuke said as he seemed to materialize out of no where. The mostly black cat with hints of white made a spectacular leap and began to follow behind Sasuke.

"I'm not, but what's with all the cats?" Naruto asked as he continued to scratch the gray cat's face.

"My mom loves cats. My father hates them. They're all cats my mom has found that my father has refused to let stay at their house. She comes by and drops them off here – or with Itachi. Since I'm not one to have cats in my house, they stay in the studio. This one," Sasuke said, picking up the black and white cat, "Is Tuxedo Kamen-sama. Please keep in mind my mother named them."

"Tuxedo Kamen-sama? Like from Sailor Moon?" Naruto snickered. Sasuke nodded.

"He leaps around on things, and he has these little white gloves," Sasuke said as he maneuvered Tuxedo Kamen-sama so Naruto could see the puffs of white on his paws, "and the little white tuff like a bow-tie under his chin. The all black one is his brother, Mamoru. I suppose my mother thought she was being funny naming the one the name of the alter-ego."

Naruto found it highly amusing and grinned widely, watching as Sasuke let the cat lick his fingers.

"The one by your feet that's purring her heart out is Gorogoro. Hence the purring. Her son, who's around here somewhere," Sasuke said, looking around for the absent cat, "is just a kitten. His name is Spinner."

"Spinner?" Naruto asked.

"Apparently it means 'purr' in Swedish. My mother thought it was cute to name him after his mother. She's recently started watching that True Blood series, and in the show, her favorite vampire is Swedish. Her newest hobby is learning how to speak Swedish of all things." Sasuke shrugged as if shrugging of the oddities of his mother. "Ah, let's see, the fat one is Inu. He's about the size of a small dog and drinks from the toilet when allowed, so she thought it fitting to name him dog."

"And the orange one?" Naruto asked.

"Yodare, since he drools when you pet him. Be careful petting him as he will drool heavily. He's Spinner's sire," Sasuke explained. Allowing Tuxedo Kamen-sama a few more licks on his fingers, Sasuke put the cat down.

Naruto couldn't help but think that perhaps Sasuke's mother was purposefully giving them to Sasuke as he seemed really affectionate with them. He definitely seemed like a cat person, even if he made it sound like they were a burden his mother siphoned off onto him.

A mental image of Sasuke dressed all in black with kitty ears and a tail invaded his mind, and Naruto bent lower to pet Gorogoro in order to hide the blush it caused.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Naruto eyed Sasuke up and down.

Now that he wasn't busy being mortified at how he had greeted the man, he took a good look at Sasuke. Tall, dark, and handsome. Yeah, that suited Naruto's preferences just fine.

The artist wore a tight fitted, silky black shirt. He wore dark blue jeans that had a few splatters of paint on them, and Naruto was glad the cat was in front of him. He had a strong urge to reach out and touch the pants and was grateful for the distraction with his hand.

"Speaking of my mom," Sasuke said, turning to face Naruto, "she was the woman who let you in. Apparently, Itachi told her that you were coming over and wanted to meet you. I'm surprised she didn't stay and fangirl over you. I didn't realize that in addition to Jiraiya's book publicist, he had you write one of the books in his series. She said the one you wrote was her favorite."

The blush on Naruto's face darkened. He'd written it as a joke for Jiraiya. However, as Jiraiya had needed to get a new book out in time for a deadline, the perv had gone ahead and used Naruto's work as his own. At least the normally stingy man gave all of the sales to Naruto. It was how Jiraiya had raked Naruto in to being his publicist, saying he could help make more money – and get paid lots of money. The more Naruto advertised the books, the more money Naruto would get from the book he had written.

Even so, it was a bit awkward knowing that Sasuke's mother had read and liked his porn novel.

"I didn't realize that many people knew I wrote one. It's still under Jiraiya's name," Naruto said, standing back up slowly, scratching the back of his head awkwardly.

Sasuke snorted.

"My mother is a bit fanatical about the books. If there's a hint of information out there, she'll find it. Speaking of your god-father's books, do you happen to have a manuscript I can read to get an idea of how I should paint you for the upcoming series?" Sasuke wondered.

"Uh, well. You need to sign a contract first. It will explain about the copyrights of the book and about the copyrights we will have to the artwork related to it," Naruto began as he pulled out the contract from his pocket and thoroughly went over the legal rights.

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Sasuke watched Naruto's mouth moving, much more interested in watching Naruto than listening to the details of the contract. The publicist was a lot different than Sasuke's usual "preference." Naruto seemed happy and cheerful. He smiled easily, and his blue eyes sparkled warmly.

It was strange to see Naruto in his art studio. He hadn't planned on letting Naruto come up here; he rarely let his family come in let alone people he barely knew, but his mother had gotten to Naruto first, ushering him in before Sasuke could say anything. The art studio was his sanctuary. He'd feel more comfortable inviting Naruto into his bedroom than into his studio.

Yet to see him in the studio felt strangely nice. Naruto seemed to fit right in, and if it turned out Sasuke wasn't able to pursue him in the way he wanted to, he would make sure to have a painting of Naruto added to his personal gallery of paintings hanging on his wall.

"So if you'll just sign here," Naruto said, as he handed Sasuke a ball point pen. Dark eyes quickly rescanned the contract page before him as he'd stopped listening to the last bit to make sure he wasn't being hood-winked; he signed his name in a flourish before handing it back to Naruto.

"No distribution or speaking with anyone else about the book until after the release of the book in two months?" Sasuke clarified.

"Yes. And you said over the phone two weeks will be enough time to finish your work?" Naruto asked. Sasuke nodded.

"It will be plenty of time. Normally I do full canvas sized paintings, but I will do a smaller one for better detail and quality for the smaller book covering. That will take much less time. In this instance, it's actually very nice to have cats around. They shed their whiskers, and I use the whiskers to make a small paint brush. One cat whisker is good at making small lines, like painting eyelashes," Sasuke explained.

"Cool. I never thought about that," Naruto mused. Sasuke nodded again.

"I'm going to take some pictures to get an idea of how I might want to dress you," Sasuke smirked, inwardly thinking of the double meaning to his words as he walked gracefully around the two cats at his feet.

"Pictures of me?" Naruto asked.

"It will help give me an idea of how to paint you. In reality, you don't need to be here when I work, but it would make the painting process go a lot faster," Sasuke explained. Not to mention it would give him an excuse to invite Naruto over.

"Should I, uh, pose or something?" Naruto wondered.

Sasuke grinned to himself. It seemed he wasn't used to being a model. While he exuded self-confidence, there was a hint of shyness to it. Idly, Sasuke wondered if Naruto had always been so chipper and bold now this other side was showing. Remembering how Naruto had seemed so deeply into his painting, "Silent Killers of the Soul", Sasuke decided that Naruto might have a darker past than he let on. The grin slipped from his face as he wondered about the attractive man before him.

Grabbing his camera equipment from off one of his many shelves, he motioned Naruto toward the center of the room toward the window. He opened the drapes and let the natural light shine down on Naruto.

The light and shadow play on Naruto's face made something in Sasuke's chest ache while meanwhile making his pants a little tighter.

"I'm guessing that as a ninja, this will be a story that takes place mostly out doors. Sunlight will be better for the lighting," Sasuke said as he began to direct Naruto in poses before snapping away.

Looking down at the screen on his camera, Sasuke back-tracked through the photos to make sure that all the pictures were to his liking. Sasuke wondered what Naruto would say if he asked him to take off his clothes and pose nude. Deciding it wasn't quite appropriate…yet…Sasuke continued to take a few more pictures before Naruto suddenly stumbled.

At Naruto's feet was a little tuft of gray fur with a few hints of orange mixed in. The little kitten looked up at Naruto, and meowed expectantly.

"Ah. That's Spinner," Sasuke explained. Naruto's eyes went wide.

"He's so cute!" Naruto said with a goofy grin on his face as he scooped the kitten up and lifted it close to his face. Spinner started purring loudly, and his little pink tongue darted out to lick Naruto's nose.

Sasuke put up a hand to lightly scratch his nose, hiding the smile on his face.

"Isn't he so adorable?" Naruto asked, holding the little kitten in front of his face. It was as though he expected Sasuke to disagree. It was his cat after all.

Smirking, Sasuke held up the camera and snapped a picture. The angle of the picture made it look like Naruto had Spinner's whiskers as the little head barely covered Naruto's lips and nose in the picture.

"You have whiskers," Sasuke said, showing the picture to Naruto. As Naruto moved closer to him to look at the screen, tingles went through Sasuke's body. Usually Sasuke liked to keep a large radius of personal space. Yet Naruto, who clearly could care less about personal space, seemed quite content to get close to Sasuke. For once, Sasuke didn't mind.

Purposefully brushing his shoulder against Naruto's, Sasuke zoomed in, showing a close up of Spinner.

Naruto grinned at him before his eyes darted above his head, his grin fading slightly. Sasuke frowned at the look before turning his head over his shoulder, looking at his self-portrait.

"Why did you paint yourself drowning?" Naruto asked.

It would figure that the book publicist would ask about that painting.

"Why do you want to know?" Sasuke wondered, trying to figure out how much to say about it. On the one hand, it could be a good segue way into asking Naruto out. On the other hand, it was extremely personal.

"Just curious."

"Curiosity killed the cat. And I don't want that to happen," Sasuke half joked as he reached out and scratched behind Spinner's ears, also lightly brushing Naruto's hand as he did so.

"Emo artist moment?" Naruto said while grinning widely, joking back. Sasuke chuckled, but didn't respond. Instead, he opted for changing the subject.

"Would you like to join me for dinner? I'm sure my mom has already invaded my kitchen and prepared a meal in attempts to lure you to stay so she can talk with you more," Sasuke explained. Naruto laughed.

"Ah, yeah, sure, I guess. It's kinda weird. I'm used to people recognizing my god-father, but I've never really had this happen to me before. Do you get it often, being a famous artist and all?" Naruto wondered as he put Spinner down.

"Not usually recognized. I get fan mail, but I usually don't read it. It's often silly. You recognized me though," Sasuke said, remembering the lovely greeting he'd received. Naruto cocked his head to the side and looked a little puzzled.

"Itachi pointed you out," Naruto responded. Sasuke nodded, realizing Itachi must have shown Naruto his picture at some point and time, or pointed him out earlier in the show. The only painting Itachi had of Sasuke was mostly fucking circles. Then again, Naruto had managed to recognize Itachi's one painting as a bowl of ramen; maybe he could just figure Itachi out? If that was the case, Naruto deserved an award.

"If you come through this way, it leads to my apartment," Sasuke said, ushering Naruto through his art studio to where one of the drapes hid a stairwell that led downstairs.

A large grin spread across Naruto's face as he inhaled deeply.

"Mmm! Ramen!" Naruto noted happily. Sasuke gave a low chuckle as they descended the staircase.

Sasuke's mom was happily moving about his kitchen taking out the fresh ingredients he'd bought earlier that morning. Yes, Itachi had told their mother that Naruto was coming over, but Itachi had also happened to tell Sasuke that Naruto's favorite food was ramen. Sasuke may have mentioned that to his mother knowing as the expert cook she was, would want to try and impress Naruto.

Feeling not the least bit guilty about using his mom as an excuse to get Naruto to stay for dinner and to come down to his apartment, Sasuke graciously introduced Naruto to his mother.

"Mom, this is Naruto. Naruto, this is my mother, Uchiha Mikoto."

"It's nice to meet you, Uchiha-san," Naruto said politely as he gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek. Giggling sweetly, she grabbed Naruto's hand and smiled.

"Please, please! Mikoto is fine dear," she said happily, giving Naruto's hand a firm squeeze. "Did I hear right? Is your favorite food ramen? You must stay for dinner," Mikoto said happily.

"Yeah, sure," Naruto said.

Dinner went well in Sasuke's opinion; at least it had up until the end. His mother had been the one to grill Naruto about his life, happily comparing Sasuke and Itachi to him which in turn made it easy for Sasuke since he was never one to talk about himself. He learned a lot about Naruto, and in turn, Naruto learned a lot about him without him having to say a word.

"Well, I must get going! It was lovely meeting you, Naruto," Mikoto said with a large smile. Naruto gave her another hug and another peck on the cheek.

She turned to Sasuke and gave him a hug too, an unusual show of affection, but he took it nonetheless. When she gave him a quick squeeze she spoke quietly in his ear.

"I like him a lot! He's not like the usual one nighters you use," Mikoto whispered.

Sasuke felt the color drain from his face. Mikoto moved away from her son and smiled.

"I'm your mother. I know things," she said happily. She turned to see that Naruto had excused himself to the bathroom before speaking again. "And the video that one man made was on a website I, uh, might or might not like to frequent, sort of gave it away that you like men. Do you know how awkward that was to find out that my son was doing those types of things? Don't worry though; it was hardly recognizable as you; the pictures were fuzzy as it came from a camera phone and only lasted all of twelve seconds. Of course as your mother I could recognize, your, uh, moans. Also, I did make sure to send the man a virus that destroyed the video and his computer. Make sure no cameras or phones are involved the next time, okay?" She gave him another hug as Naruto re-emerged from the bathroom.

Sasuke could merely gape at his mother in stunned mortification, before schooling his face lest Naruto see.

"It was nice meeting you Naruto. Bye sweetheart," Mikoto smiled as she let herself out.

Sasuke felt he had a lot to be mortified about. First of all, his mother knew he was gay. Second of all, there had been a sex video of him circulating the web. Third, it disturbed him that he had no idea who had the balls to put a video of him up in the first place. Fourth, his mother went on gay porn website. Fifth, his mother had seen that video on said website. Finally, his mother was an internet hacker.

"Sasuke, are you alright?" Naruto asked, concerned. "You look, like, really pale. I mean, you are really pale, but more so than usual."

"I'm fine."

"You sure?" Naruto checked. Sasuke nodded and waved his hand airily.

"So, what time tomorrow?" Naruto wondered, still looking at Sasuke a bit concerned.

"What?"

"What time do you want me to be here tomorrow?" Naruto asked. "My work schedule is pretty flexible."

"Can you be here by noon?" Sasuke asked, pushing his earlier thoughts to the side.

"Sure, no problem. And here's the copy of the book. It's one of the originals that came out years ago. Shame not many of them sold then, but they're worth a lot now. Jiraiya signed it for you and everything." Naruto flipped open the inside and showed him the inscription.

"Thanks," Sasuke murmured, looking at the book.

"I should get going," Naruto noted. Nodding, Sasuke gestured for Naruto to follow him through his apartment, so he didn't have to go back out through his art studio.

"I look forward to seeing you tomorrow," Sasuke said as he showed Naruto to the front door.

"Yep! Later!" Naruto said as he gave Sasuke a hug. Sasuke tensed as he hadn't been expecting it. He was slow to respond, but he made sure to wrap his arms around Naruto back, lingering perhaps a little longer than he should have, especially as he felt another one of those lovely slaps to his ass.

Naruto grinned brightly at him before leaving.

Sasuke closed the door, his mind in a whirl.

He wished it could have been lingering on the second slap to his ass, or even seeing Naruto again tomorrow. Unfortunately, his brain was stuck on wondering how much of a pervert his own mother was.


My favorite part about writing this is hearing Darkalbino's reactions: "When I grow up, I want to be like Mikoto!" Glad you liked your pervry Mikoto Dark!

(Feel free to ignore this ramble.) Because I know you're all just dying to know about the cats which are all based off of actual kitties: the names Tuxedo Kamen-sama and Mamoru are copyright by Sailor Moon author Naoko Takeuchi. Those cats are based off of my aunt's cats, Cleo, who looks and acts as mentioned, and Harmony, who looks and acts like mentioned. Gorogoro (which means purr in Japanese) is based off of two cats; a famous YouTube cat that can be found by searching "Stalking Cat" into the YouTube browser. That cat is also based off of Munchkin, my friend's cat. Yodare (which means drool in Japanese) is based off of two cats; my husband's kitty who drools every time you pet her: like she drools so bad that you better have a towel, and the coloring based off of Monkey, another of my friend's cat. Inu (which means dog in Japanese) the big fat cat, is based off of my own cat, Pepper. He's big, fat, lazy, and does drink from the toilet. And Spinner, the kitty, is based off of Mako's cat who is gray and fluffly.

Hope you enjoyed the chapter! ~ Jelp