His head seemed much clearer than it had been since before he'd been captured, though he was plagued by restlessness-like the one before his trip to the market.
Gaara had made several trips to check up on him and see if there was anything that he needed, but was sent away without providing more than a flask of water and a meal. Naruto hated to see the disappointment on his face, but he hated even more to rely on his friend's charity. More than anything he wished to be home, but even that was beyond his reach now. Again, for Kami's sake, he was virtually homeless again.
Gaara had told him to rest and not worry about anything right now. That first things first, they needed to get back to Suna. It was a trip that normally took four or five days, and they were pushing forward to make if before the potions wore off.
Baki had explained that the potion could only be given in two doses, the second dose didn't cure the affects as effectively as the first, and that there was a nasty side effect. Naruto had asked him to explain but Baki had been evasive and said he would explain if it came to that.
Sighing as Gaara left once again he leaned back against the pillows that theyd set up in one of the open wagons. The heat from the desert sun caressed his skin and toasted it a darker tan. It had only been a day and he was antsy to move, but Baki had insisted that he stay in the wagon and rest.
Naruto spun around to find a dark haired man standing just outsidenthe wagon watching him with intense black eyes. What shook him more than the eyes staring blatantly at him was the man's appearance. He resembled Sasuke, so much that it made Naruto's heart ache.
"Go away." He said in a voice that was lackluster before turning away from the man.
"A bit rude, dickless, too." There was very little inflection in his tone as if he spoke a fact instead of trying to get a rise out of Naruto.
Naruto tried to keep his calm, Baki's potion was more effective if he stayed calm. But the slander to his person…
"What the fuck, you penis envier?" He jumped to his feet, fist clenched as he readied himself to fight.
The man calmly cocked his head to the side to study Naruto. "You look much better now than you did a moment ago. Your face is flushed and your eyes sparkle with fury. I'd really like to paint you like this."
Naruto shook his head in confusion at the man. "I don't understand you, and you're giving me a headache. Go away." Naruto felt the fury drain from him but the heat spiked in his blood. A low moan was pulled from his throat as he slumped to his knees.
The man was blessedly silent but he didn't move away from the wagon. Instead he startled Naruto when he jumped into it. "Are you in heat?"
"God damn it! I asked you to go away; you're giving me a headache!" Naruto rubbed at his temples just under his nearly white locks, his hair having been bleached from being in the sun for the last day.
"You are in heat," it wasn't a question this time. "Baki must have given you some of his magic potion. Did you know that the heat is always worse once the effects wear off? It also differs from person to person depending on their metabolism."
Naruto just shook his head. "Please, please just go away," he whispered and pressed his forehead into his knees, which he'd drawn up to his chest.
A hand settled on his head brushing the locks before petting him between his ears. "You don't look so good, so I'm thinking that you don't have much time left before the serum passes from your system. I would like to become your mate."
"Don't be so quick to deny me. We are still half a day from the city, and you aren't going to last much past the next hour. I am a painter, but I make a decent living and you could have anything your heart desires. I have my own house, it is fairly good sized and there is much land with a wood to run through. Being a fox, it would be a good place for you."
Naruto looked up at the man, his heart aching at the resemblance to Sasuke. He knew that he didn't have much time and a glance at the surrounding horizon showed him that there was no sign of Sasuke. He didn't want to have this man as a mate, but he also knew logically he would have to choose. Pushing the sorrow and the dread from his heart and mind, he studied the man much more carefully.
On closer inspection there were differences. His eyes were narrower as was his mouth. There was a rosier tint to his cheeks that Sasuke didn't have, and of course, his hair was much shorter. He was leaner in build, lacking the definition that Sasuke had to his chest and arms. Naruto leaned closer and sniffed. He also smelled differently. There was a chemical scent, not the natural, earthy scent that Sasuke carried.
"Who are you?" Naruto asked.
"Just Sai or do you have a last name?"
Naruto nodded. "Do you ever smile?"
The man was quiet for a moment before his lips curled into a smile. It was almost genuine but Naruto didn't see it in his eyes.
"That's not a real smile."
"Sure it is."
"No, it isn't. It isn't even in your eyes. It's just your lips."
"Why does it matter if I smile or not? Most people just get by with the motions. No one really cares if someone else really feels happiness or not. They don't care. I try to be honest, but I don't think I have ever felt true joy, I don't think that I ever will." Sai shifted a little closer to Naruto and his hand settled on Naruto's knee.
"That is a very sad outlook on life. I've felt joy. When my mom used to hug me or my dad told me how proud he was of me when I was able to master a skill. Surely, you have felt the same? Or when someone has told you how much they like you?"
"No. I don't remember my parents, since I was taken away from them before I had any memories and no one has ever told me that they liked me."
"Why were you taken from your parents?" Naruto asked slightly appalled at the thought of a child being taken away before they could even remember their mom and dad.
"To be a soldier. It was my village's practice to train their people from a young age to defend their village and country. We were raised in a camp where only the strong survive." Sai's fingers came up to fondle a small lock of Naruto's hair, feeling it's texture as he studied the fox.
"Th-that's horrible," Naruto exclaimed. His ears that he been droopy from most of the day laid flat against his skull and his tail twitched in outrage before curling around Naruto's calf.
Sai watched it before leaning brushing his lips gently over Naruto's causing the young fox to gasp and jerk away. A smirk appeared a moment before Sai cupped Naruto's head and pull him in for another kiss. It was longer and deeper. The man taking advantage of Naruto's shocked open mouth and sliding his tongue in to engage the other muscle in a quick game of rub-retreat. Naruto trembled as his body betrayed him. His mind screamed at him to pull away, while his body pushed closer. The heat was taking over.
"Naruto? Are you sure you don't want—."
Gaara's voice broke the trance that Naruto had settled into and he was able to jerk out of the man's reach, scrambling across the wagon and latching onto Gaara's robe.
"What the hell? Sai? What is the meaning of this?" Gaara demanded of the man who was smoothing the material of his own clothing.
"I was getting to know Naruto. I want to mate with him."
"Sai! We can discuss the potential of a mate when we reach the city, but now—."
"No. Naruto is about to lose the effects of Baki's potion. There isn't any time now. He will never reach the city. If he doesn't have a mate now, he can possibly go into a rampage and rape some innocent person, even kill them during the fever of the heat. As it is now, he won't be able to have a calm mating and it will be days—."
"Fine! I know, I can feel the heat now as well as smell it on him. There aren't any other potential mates in the caravan now either." Gaara pulled the trembling body of the fox closer feeling the effects himself of the heat. He was going to have to convince Naruto that Sai was his best if not only option for a mate, and he's have to do it quickly before the pheromones that Naruto was releasing twisted his mind into forgetting himself. Fuck!
"Naruto? Naruto, Sai is right. The heat is coming and it won't be pleasant for you or anyone else if you don't mate. And Sai is the only candidate for a mate. I'm sorry."
"Wh-what do you mean?" Naruto asked. He'd heard the conversation and there were many points that didn't sit well with him. A rampage, raping someone even killing them? What were they talking about?
"The potion that Baki developed to put off the heat has side effects. One of which is that the heat is more intense. It will choose a mate for you and it doesn't discriminate between gender or race, usually the closest possible person. It also won't wear off as quickly, meaning that you will be mating for several days, and if the candidate isn't a willing victim then it is rape and you can hurt someone very badly if not kill them if they aren't a completely willing and eager mate."
"I could kill someone during my heat? It would be better to just put me down right now!" Naruto gasped pulling away from Gaara wanting to run, but a spike of hot need dropped him back to his knees. "No!"
"Naruto! Listen to me. Sai is a willing and eager partner for you. It doesn't have to be like that! You need to make a choice now. We can get a tent up, for privacy, we can station guards outside for your protection, but you have to make the choice," Gaara said, then took a deep breath before saying the last part, the part that would probably make Naruto hate him for the rest of his life. "Or we will have to stake you down and let Sai mate you."
"That would be rape also!" Naruto exclaimed in horror and disgust.
"Your body wouldn't care," Gaara said stepping back from the wagon. He ordered his men to set up a tent then a guard.
"Gaara! Y—you can't possible mean—I…" Naruto gasped looking at his friend feeling his heart jump in his chest with terror and an underlying anger.
"I do. Naruto, these are my people that I have to protect, even from you. Sai is a good man, even if he lacks the emotions that you seem to want from a potential mate. We don't have a choice. They were taken from us by the hunters. I've grown up, and so must you. We don't always get to chose who or what or how." Gaara turned and walked away.
"Naruto, it's better th—," Sai started, but a quick downward slice of Naruto hand shut him up.
"Like Gaara just said. I don't have a choice. I never did as everyone seems intent on taking away my choices." Naruto's voice was dead and he didn't look at Sai. "I will accept this as it is. But only because I would kill myself if I took someone else's choice away from them and hurt them."
The tent was set up away from the camp, guards standing a few feet from it with their back turned. Naruto currently knelt on a blanket that had been laid out to be a bed for them. Sai was kneeling behind him.
Lips brushed the nape of his neck causing Naruto to shudder at the touch, disgusted, before a spike of heat pushed even that feeling out of his head. Hands gently cupped his shoulders sliding up and down in a soothing gesture. A nip at his neck and Naruto moaned. The robe he was wearing was pulled from his shoulders and down his arms before pooling about his waist then the thin under shirt was the next to be taken from him. He sighed at the cool breeze that drifted over his skin.
He should perhaps be the aggressor here, he thought momentarily before it was gone. There wasn't any way that he would be alpha, it wasn't in his nature.
As he was drawn around and pushed down onto the bed, he heard a distant grunt and cough but they too drifted out of his hearing and mind before they could settle. Sai continued kissing along his collar and neck small licks accompanying the touches. His hands were working on the belt undoing it and pulling it away from Naruto letting the robe spill open. He murmured in approval at being granted access to Naruto unhindered.
A glint of light shone briefly from the tip of a sword pressed against Sai's neck. Naruto winced at the brightness of the light, but then his eyes shot open at the words that came next.
"Get off him. Now. Before I slice your head from your shoulders." The voice hissed.