AN: Kayso, I'm back! muahaha, etc, etc.

First off, thanks to everyone who participated in the polls! It's always nice to get a gauge on what people want to read-- that way I can hopefully satisfy all your Sasu/Naru cravings and make everyone happy! To those of you who didn't vote, welp, I hope you like the story anyway!

Here's basically what I'm starting this from-- the top three choices were: AU Fic, Falling in love, and High School Fic... so, those are what I went with. I was kind of just sitting here staring at the screen, wondering about what I was going to do with that extremely common situation, and then.. BAM! this little plot bunny came to me. I really hope you all like it, because strangely, I already feel very good about it and its potential. I think it could end up being one of my best works, should the ideas keep flowing and the time to write keep being available to me. I hope you all think the same about the idea-- and if you don't, feel free to let me know! I can always incorporate peoples' suggestions and I usually take criticism well (unless the comments are just blatantly rude, and then I get to send meanie PM messages and call on my angry mob of fans to attack people.. :D)

Anyway, enough rambling, I'm just gonna get to the good stuff and hope you guys like it. (Is it odd that I'm kind of nervous about this one? Maybe it's cause I always end up liking the ones that aren't as popular.. whatevs. We'll see.)

Also, sorry that the beginning is kind of tedious. Gotta do that whole setting-up business. It gets better, I promise!

Enjoy, folks!

Warnings: cursing

Pairings: so far, Sasu/Naru; in the future, minor pairings: Kaka/Iru, Neji/Kiba

Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, unfortunately.

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It was a Saturday morning and the air was crisp.

Sasuke Uchiha tugged his jacket closer to his body to ward off the winter chill as he walked towards the gates of Konoha High School. It was Christmas Break, and he was headed to the school for some swim training. As the star swimmer of the Konoha High team, he was allowed full access to the school swimming pool throughout the break. He usually swam laps for about four hours, and then did weight training to cap off the workout. His friends and brother had lamented that he was supposed to be on break, but– as he'd told them several times– there was nothing he'd rather be doing than swimming.

It was a sort of drug for him. Swimming made him feel alive. The rush of the dive, the feeling of his body sliding into the water with natural ease, the power he felt underneath his hands and within his thighs as they propelled him through the abyss... everything about it set his veins alight with fire and life. Nothing else in his boring, structured existence came even close to giving him the same feeling.

So it was with a soft look gracing his normally hardened face that he pulled open the door to the gym and headed into the locker room to get changed for training. The expression immediately twisted into a scowl, though, when he noticed the other bag already tossed upon the bench in front of him.

Uzumaki.

Sighing, Sasuke threw his bag down next to the other boy's, purposefully throwing it too hard so that it knocked the ugly orange thing to the floor.

Naruto Uzumaki was also on the Konoha High swim team, and resident outcast of the highschool. No one talked to him; he was bullied daily. Even teachers kept a wide birth from the blond boy.

The reasons for the ostracization were shocking, but unfortunately very real.

The year before, his parents had been brutally murdered in their home. Naruto had been the prime suspect in the investigation, for he'd been at home at the time, and the murder weapons had his fingerprints upon them. For months, the boy had been held in custody, until another unknown suspect had cropped up during investigation– and now the police were toying with the idea that Naruto may have been framed by the latter, something that would unfortunately take a long time to prove.

Thus, with no end foreseeable in the near future, and with Naruto's young age– the court had decided they'd allow him to stay at school during the day, while at night he'd sleep at a juvenile detention center– an arrangement that would stay put until the verdict had been decided.

Needless to say, despite the evidence showing that Naruto might not have been involved after all, no one at school wanted anything to do with the Uzumaki boy. The only reason he was tolerated on the swim team was because their coach, Iruka Umino, had an unexplainable soft spot for the boy– and refused to kick him off even when the entire team petitioned for it.

No, the annoying little freak was on the team for good, despite the latter's effort to achieve the opposite result. And even though they'd finally stopped trying to get him off the team, he was still treated like dirt– he was forced to swim in his own lane during practice (the 'monster lane', as it was called), he wasn't cheered on at competition (in fact, he was often booed), and when he was unfortunate enough to not make it out of the locker room fast enough after practice, let's just say he didn't come out looking quite the same as beforehand.

Sasuke didn't often participate in the physical bullying– only on really bad days when he was in a sour mood and the idiot was so easy to take it out on– but he certainly didn't make any move to stop it. The truth was he really didn't care that much to take any action against it. The only thing he cared about was swimming; his family and friends were background noise, and Naruto Uzumaki might as well have been dirt on the bottom of his shoe– annoying, but entirely inconsequential in the scheme of things.

Sighing in irritation at the realization that he wouldn't be alone today, Sasuke pulled his shirt over his head and then slipped off his sweatpants, revealing his toned body in all its glory to the empty room.

I wonder if Coach gave him permission to come during break as well, Sasuke mused as he opened up his bag, absently curious about it. If not, I'll certainly let him know that this is my time, and he'd best not be encroaching upon it without permission to do so.

He slipped his dark red and white spandex suit over his muscled legs, then grabbed his cap and goggles and silently headed out towards the pool.

He stopped short when he suddenly caught sight of the Uzumaki boy, who was sitting facing away from Sasuke, his knees curled up to his chest.

His whole body was shaking. Sasuke could see his shoulders rise and fall with heaves.

Sobs, he realized, as he stealthily moved closer. The idiot was crying.

His heart did a very funny leap at the realization.

Ignoring it, he held his breath and stayed very still, something in him wanting to watch the other boy– preferably without being caught.

"No good... monster..." Naruto was mumbling, his voice rough and broken and pained. "They'll never believe you. Never..."

Sasuke bit his lip, nostrils flaring and stomach clenching with some unknown emotion.

"Your fault...all your fault..."

The boy's head fell forwards, and his hands reached up to pull at the messy blond locks. Sasuke could see the violent way the long fingers shook even from far away.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the blond boy stood and wiped his eyes. Sasuke noticed that his tanned legs were wobbling dangerously underneath him.

Naruto whispered something very quietly then, and Sasuke thought it sounded suspiciously like, "This is what you deserve."

The next moment, with the grace and ease of a practiced, natural athlete, Naruto dove cleanly into the water.

Sasuke watched.

Naruto didn't swim back up.

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For a moment, Sasuke simply continued to gaze at the water, at the ripples that radiated outwards as a result of Uzumaki's jump.

And then reality set in, and Sasuke realized that he was watching someone attempt suicide.

His heart thudded to a start in his chest, and his feet took off underneath him. Within moments, he was in the air, body arching gracefully in a dive before being enveloped in the water's silky embrace and rocketing towards the bottom of the pool.

As soon as he was underwater, Sasuke opened his eyes and grit his teeth against the sting of chlorine. Naruto was in front of him, face serene, body loose and lithe as he floated there.

Sasuke had the strange thought that the other boy looked rather beautiful in this complete, naked freedom.

Chalking the thought up to the shock of the situation, Sasuke waded quickly over to the other boy, slipping his arms around his waist as soon as he got to him and attempting to kick off the floor.

He didn't predict Uzumaki to still be conscious.

A body weakened by oxygen deprivation began to struggle wildly in his arms. Sasuke took a kick to a stomach and several scratches to the chest before managing to wrangle the wayward limbs in his grip and keep them still.

Turns out the action was unnecessary, for in the next moment, Naruto's entire body went limp against him in unconsciousness.

Shit, Sasuke inwardly cursed, eyes narrowing in irritation and, dare he say it, the slightest bit of panic.

Kicking upwards with legs honed from years of training, Sasuke quickly and efficiently brought he and the deadweight in his arms to the surface of the water. He sucked in air through his nose as soon as his head was above it, somehow managing to do so in a dignified way, then hauled Naruto's limp body with him towards the side of the pool. Once there, he maneuvered the blond's body effortlessly over the ledge, then followed in one limber movement.

"Uzumaki," he barked, leaning over the lifeless form. He reached a hand out and smacked Naruto's cheek– no reaction. "Damnit, you idiot, wake up!"

Sighing explosively in anxiety-tinged frustration, Sasuke began to shake the boy, hoping to stir any sort of consciousness.

No luck.

"Fucking imbecile," Sasuke nearly shouted, shaking with anger and some other emotion he'd rather not explore at that moment. "Goddamn it!"

Gritting his teeth, and taking one calming breath, Sasuke lifted his hands– which were absolutely not trembling– and laid them out on Naruto's dripping chest (which, he noticed idly, was covered in bruises.)

He'd been a lifeguard for nearly every summer of his life since middle school– he'd learned how to give CPR so many times he could nearly recite the procedure. Never before had he had to do it on an actual person, however.

At the rare flaring of fear in his throat, typical Uchiha confidence swept through him like a warm balm; he latched onto it desperately, then began doing compressions upon the other boy's chest. He counted each of them out firmly before leaning forward and pressing his lips to the moist mouth, where he breathed air– and hopefully life– back into the blond's body.

In the back of his mind, he thought it should have been a bit disturbing to have his mouth on another boy's, regardless of the situation, but firmly pushed the thought aside for later examination and instead focused upon what he was doing.

Luckily, it was only moments before Naruto's upper body jolted forwards and the boy began heaving with spluttering coughs. He twisted to the side as water forced its way from his chest out his mouth; his whole body convulsed for several long minutes, during which Sasuke sat silently and stared at him, face blank.

Groaning angrily, Naruto turned back towards Sasuke and snapped, "What the fuck, Uchiha?!"

"I just saved your life, and that's what you greet me with?" Sasuke asked, raising an eyebrow in irritation. He hid his still shaking hands behind his back.

Naruto reached up with weak hands and shoved his shoulders. "No one asked you to save me, you fucking bastard!"

Without thinking about it, Sasuke backhanded Naruto across the face, splitting the boys lip with his family ring he'd forgotten to take off and watching with a strange sort of fascination at the blood that dripped from the new wound.

When Naruto turned his head back from where it had whipped sideways, Sasuke was surprised at the fear in his eyes, and then, strangely– he felt guilt stir in his gut for putting it there. It was utterly foreign to him, and he went to get to his feet, mildly panicked.

Naruto stopped him with a look that would've broken any normal person's heart– taken it right out of their chest and split it in two.

Sasuke merely stared.

"You should've let me drown," Naruto whispered. Sasuke couldn't be sure the water dripping down his face was leftover from the pool, or tears. He didn't think it mattered at this point. "Goddamn you, Sasuke Uchiha, you should've let me die."

There was a long silence.

Sasuke fell back onto his knees. Something magnetic and purely separate from him drew his body forward, made him get close enough to the other boy that their chests were nearly touching. He matched the intense stare Naruto was giving him, black eyes sharp and fierce underneath his fall of soaked midnight hair. "I should have," he agreed, words slow and precise, with a voice that he refused to admit was trembling.

Naruto's face, of its own volition, twisted in grief and self-hatred at the words. "Then why–

"Because I couldn't."

At the words, Naruto's body went completely limp, drained of all energy and emotion. He fell against Sasuke, who tensed but did not move away.

"Thank you."

It was a whisper in the breeze. Sasuke couldn't be sure which one of them had said it.

Naruto shuddered once against him. "Don't leave me."

Sasuke said nothing. He raised his hand, and placed it on the back of Naruto's head.

It was enough.

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And so began one of the oddest, most tumultuous friendships in the history of Konoha High School.

Eventually, it would grow to be something unlike anyone had ever seen.

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AN: What'dya think? Let me know!

Much love~

CSTSS