Disclaimer – Don't own Naruto. Kishimoto does.

A/N – This is a oneshot inspired by the latest manga chapter 486.

Warning: Manga 486 spoilers ahead. SasuNaru action too. Yaoi. You've been warned

Please R & R!!

...

...

...

"It's my job, no one else's!" Naruto declared passionately, blazing blue eyes locked with Sasuke's dark ones. Sasuke's eyes were like bottomless pits, as emotionless as ever. They bore into Naruto, cold and unyielding – one elegant eyebrow had raised by the minutest fraction; the only indication that Sasuke was actually listening to Naruto's fervent rant.

"I'll bear the burden of your hate…" Naruto continued, attempting to incite some sort of reaction from the other boy.

"…"

Sasuke remained as frigid as ever, and Naruto began to get desperate. The words poured out of his mouth, as he tried to make Sasuke understand exactly how much he meant to Naruto, just how badly Naruto needed him back.

"And we'll both die together!" he ended dramatically, meaning every shocking word he had just uttered. He heard an sharp intake of breath from Kakashi, a gasp from Sakura. Sasuke seemed to have gone rigid, eyes widening ever so slightly. Then-

"… What?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!" Sasuke suddenly shouted.

Sasuke's expression had suddenly contorted from its impassive mask, transmogrified into a look of utter fury, mingled with shock. His eyes were smoldering, with anger, obviously directed straight at Naruto for his proclamation.

'I finally got through to him,' Naruto thought triumphantly, his stomach fluttering ever so slightly at Sasuke's outburst and enraged glare. He thought, perhaps, that there was something else, barely noticeable but yet present… something else hidden within those dark, turbulent depths of Sasuke's onyx eyes. But Naruto knew he was probably just getting his hopes up, deluding himself that Sasuke cared for him in a way Naruto knew he didn't – couldn't.

"Why do you care about me so much?!"

Sasuke's voice was strangely thick. It was a subtle change, yet noticeable to Naruto; Sasuke was trembling, but not from anger – at least not entirely. There was a trace of grief, a trace of regret, shining from those dark eyes.

There was no need for words. They were both top-class ninjas. Naruto could read his thoughts – at that moment, he could understand what Sasuke was thinking, what he was trying to conceal behind his hatred, his uncaring attitude.

Sasuke was shocked. He was shocked at how much he meant to Naruto – but even more he was worried. And upset. At the prospect of Naruto dying, sacrificing himself for Sasuke.

The very prospect gave Naruto hope, and he met Sasuke's questioning glare, his lips lifting ever so slightly.

"Because I'm your friend," Naruto replied simply, the expression in his clear eyes now warm.

Sasuke's anger ebbed away, and he stared at Naruto looking rather bewildered. There was no longer even the slightest trace of antipathy in his expression – just a confused, regretful look; probably the closest to the old Sasuke that Naruto had seen in years.

Sasuke looked exhausted. With his scratched face, mussed up hair and astonished expression – it was as if he was Sasuke from Team Seven, staring at Naruto in shock after he'd performed some moronic misdeed to jeopardize their mission… it was as if he was back at the Valley of the End, gazing at Naruto from across the water, perched upon a log.

Naruto remembered the conversation they'd had back then…

'Why would you go so far for me, Naruto?' Sasuke had asked.

Naruto had replied with the usual 'bonds' excuse – it had been true, at the time.

Now, after all these years, Naruto realized it had been more than just mere 'brotherly bonds'.

Sasuke continued to stare at Naruto disbelievingly, eyes wide.

Naruto took a deep breath, debating internally whether or not to say the words that were on the tip of his tongue, the words that had haunted his mind and had been plaguing his heart for months, no years

Sasuke had instructed Madara to wait, wait for Naruto to speak. He'd wanted to listen to what Naruto had to say, which meant that a part of him, even if it was a tiny part, actually still cared about Naruto, right?

'And I may never get the chance to tell him this again,' Naruto realized, strengthening his resolve. He would tell Sasuke, once and for all.

"Because I'm your friend," Naruto repeated.

"…"

Sasuke seemed to sense, somehow, that he was not yet finished, and remained silent, waiting for him to continue.

"And… I love you."

This time Sasuke looked staggered. He stared at Naruto incredulously, mouth slightly open. Even Zetsu seemed rather surprised, and Naruto didn't even want to know the expressions on Sakura's face and beneath Kakashi's mask.

Sasuke didn't seem disgusted though, which was a relief – maybe he'd interpreted it as brotherly love. Naruto decided not to push further, for the moment, and proceeded with to pour the rest of his heart out.

"… The only way you and I can communicate properly is with our fists!" Naruto was saying exuberantly, though in reality he was actually watching Sasuke closely, trying to gauge his reactions.

Sasuke seemed rather dazed, and was still looking Naruto, brows furrowed, as if trying to make sense of what he had said.

"We'll come to understand one another in the next world…" Naruto went on, trying to maintain his cheery façade. Somehow, being around Sasuke made him feel this inexorable rush of love, compassion towards the other boy – and yet at the same time, it made his heart feel like it was slowly being pierced by a poisoned kunai.

Sasuke hastily muttered something about not wanting to understand Naruto, scowling slightly as he spat out the words. Naruto could tell he was just saying it for the sake of altercation. Arguing with one another was something so deeply ingrained into Sasuke's and Naruto's mental psychology that it was inevitable.

Naruto ignored Sasuke's feeble retort, his face set.

"…The only person Sasuke's fighting is me!" he concluded.

Naruto took a step forwards, but before he could act, Madara had quickly warped Sasuke into another dimension, whisking him away.

The last thing Naruto had seen were his eyes, his dark, tumultuous, confused, beautiful eyes gazing at him – and every ounce of hatred, of anger in them had dissolved.

Naruto banged his fist on the ground in frustration, letting out an animalistic howl. The bastard, Madara, had taken Sasuke away, just when he was getting through to him!

But Naruto would find him again – and then he'd bring him back.

Believe it!

...

...

Two months later and Naruto and Sasuke were lying on the ground in a bloody, mangled mess. The area around them was destroyed completely, rocks smashed to smithereens, gaping holes puncturing the ground, trees burnt and lacerated.

Naruto struggled to push himself up, agonizing pains shooting through his chest; the wound Sasuke had dealt him was far too deep, far too wide for the Kyuubi to heal in such a limited time… Sasuke was in a similar state, lying limp on the ground, blood pooling from his chest, pouring down his eyes, from his mouth.

Naruto crawled towards Sasuke, ignoring the flares of pain that ignited as his weight crushed onto his already broken bones as he attempted to maneuver himself towards the figure that was Sasuke.

Somehow, he managed the journey, and collapsed on all fours, panting, his face hovering a few inches over Sasuke's pale one.

Sasuke's eyelids slowly fluttered open, the dark eyes gazing into Naruto's blue ones. Despite the fact that they were on the brink of death, Naruto's eyes seemed more alive, brighter than Sasuke had ever seen them.

Naruto leant downwards, ever so slightly, and Sasuke was reminded painfully of the aftermath of their battle at the Valley of the End. Their position had been the same, only reversed, with Sasuke kneeling down, and Naruto lying on the ground.

"S-S-Sasuke," Naruto managed to choke out, blood splattering from the wounds in his throat and his mouth as he attempted to speak.

Sasuke looked back at him, and Naruto was surprised to see his lips twist upwards by a millimeter. He wasn't smirking though – his eyes seemed calm, peaceful. After years of suffering and pain, Sasuke seemed oddly content.

"I told you – we die – together…" Naruto shifted his position slightly, tilting his head even closer to Sasuke's. He could feel Sasuke's labored breaths tickling his hair.

"Dobe," Sasuke finally said, though there was a hint of affection in his voice. Naruto grinned, and despite the blood and grime coating his face, despite the obvious fact that he was dying, it was his largest grin ever, and it seemed to light everything up.

"You – shouldn't have – done this for me. I – don't – deserve a friend – like you."

Sasuke's eyes seemed bright, wet, and his voice wavered. Naruto felt a sudden swell of happiness, a sudden surge of adrenaline.

He grabbed Sasuke's forearms, roughly pulling him up and onto his lap. Sasuke made a slight noise of protest, but then did nothing, as the boys tumbled backwards, falling against a tree stump. Naruto rested himself contently against the rough wood, satisfied even as he felt the life slowly drain out of him, the Kyuubi howl and rage in protest. Sasuke's head was resting against his shoulders, and Naruto's arms were wrapped around Sasuke's torso.

Sasuke raised his head slightly, gazing at Naruto with the same pained expression in his eyes.

"Naruto – I'm – sorry – I – I shouldn't have – your dream of Hokage – "

Naruto smiled sunnily, winking. He was very comfortable with their current position, and Sasuke wasn't complaining… he had really wanted Hokage, but this wasn't such a bad way to go either… lying with your best friend in your arms, your best friend who finally apologized and realized his mistakes… your best friend who finally had that peaceful, content expression on his face (even if just for a moment), after all those years of you trying to make him laugh, crack a smile out of him with your ludicrous antics… your best friend who was staring at you with indescribably gorgeous, dark, pleading eyes…

"Hey, it's okay, Sasuke! No worries – it's all over now! We'll – talk about it – in the next world!"

Sasuke bit his lip, obviously about to say something then deciding against it.

Naruto, however was curious. He had to know how Sasuke really felt.

"If you want – to tell me – something… Sasuke – just say it."

Sasuke diverted his eyes from Naruto's unwavering gaze, and Naruto thought he saw a light pink tinge dusting his cheek.

"Sasuke…" he whined petulantly, and Sasuke smirked slightly, before reverting back to his serious, but yet calm face.

His eyes met Naruto's, and this time, Naruto's heart skipped a beat. He was pretty sure he knew the expression in those eyes – he'd had the very same one in his own when he'd watched Sasuke.

It was longing – when he was little, it was longing mingled with admiration for the boy – he'd always wanted to be as smart, as cool as Sasuke.

But as he grew older, it was a different kind of longing.

"Naruto," Sasuke whispered, "You could never really compare to Itachi in my eyes."

Naruto's heart plummeted, and he felt tears pricking in his eyes. Had he misunderstood everything? Sasuke couldn't be that heartless, could he?

Sasuke smiled now, a soft, genuine smile. He reached a trembling hand upwards to rest his rough fingers on Naruto's cheek.

"You're – not my brother. That's – a bond I – never – shared with you…"

Naruto's heartbeat quickened. He could sense his chakra ebbing away, his senses blurring, but the pain seemed to have faded away. All he could do was concentrate as much as possible on Sasuke's face, Sasuke's voice…

"What is it, Sasuke?!" Naruto cried. "What is it you feel for me then? Nothing?! Say it!"

Sasuke tilted his head upwards, ebony bangs brushing Naruto's own golden ones, breath ghosting against Naruto's lips.

"Naruto, I…"

"Say it," Naruto demanded in a harsh whisper, closing his eyes, relishing the feeling of Sasuke, his warmth, his scent, his breath, his skin…

Sasuke said the words, the words he'd left unsaid at Valley of the End all those years back.

"Naruto, I love you…"

If he'd wanted to say anything more, it was cut off, as rough lips attacked his own, the grip around him tightening as Naruto pulled Sasuke even closer.

Sasuke let Naruto kiss him, unresponsive as ever, before finally moving his lips against Naruto's own.

Their tongues tangled, teeth scraped against lips, and Sasuke's hands found themselves buried in Naruto's golden strands. The kiss, like all their battles and skirmishes, was violent, aggressive, but yet passionate, as their tongues and lips battled for dominion.

They then drew apart for breath, panting, staring into each other's eyes.

Naruto was shocked, though pleasantly so. He had never felt this amazing, this loved, in his life… he had always thought Sasuke was someone out of reach, far too good for him, and this was like a dream come true.

Sasuke, similarly, never thought Naruto would even want him back, even as a friend after all he'd done, the treason he'd committed. Yet, there they were, wrapped in each other's arms like long time lovers.

Unfortunately, it would end too soon…

Sasuke pulled Naruto back to him desperately, kissing him again. This time it was slower, gentler, as Sasuke's lips slid tenderly over Naruto's own.

"Sasuke," Naruto breathed, pulling away after some time, gasping.

"Naruto…" Sasuke murmured, his gaze soft.

"I love you, you bastard. More than anything in this world…"

"Hn… as do I…"

They kissed for the third time, though it was actually the fourth counting the incident at the academy – but unlike then, when the kiss was an unwanted, awkward slamming of mouth against mouth, this time it was full of passion, emotion that had been held back, controlled for far too long.

Sasuke and Naruto, the two teammates, friends and lovers, finally pulled apart, breathing their last breaths.

"Guess – I'll see you – later…" Sasuke whispered, eyelids fluttering shut. Naruto noticed his cheeks were wet.

Naruto closed his eyes as well, holding back the tears, as he faded away into unconsciousness for the last time.

"You better believe it, teme…" Naruto muttered, and when his last breath passed from his lips, they were curved upwards in a smile.

...

...

...

A/N – Sappy fluffy angst. Oh lord. Well, at least I refrained from putting smut!!

I really hope you liked it. SasuNaru is tied with SasuSaku and NejiTen as my fav, I LOVE them, and they honestly have the most history, chemistry and moments in the show (I mean they kiss, and Naruto straddles him at Valley of the End, and he holds him in his arms and what not…)

I always wanted to write NaruSasu but I never really ended up – this was inspired from the latest manga chapter, and it just popped into my head and I HAD to put it down. I loved Naruto's heartfelt speech, and how Sasuke obviously wanted to listen to him – I think Sasuke's melting, from that chapter… Sakura didn't do much, which disappointed me, but the NaruSasu was enough to make me happy!

Oh and one more thing – the dialogues used are from MangaStream. Somehow the translations in MangaStream are so much more eloquent than those on OneManga… I prefer those anyday!

I sincrely hope you enjoyed it. Please review. That would make me happy =)

Oh and on a rather unrelated note – Happy Birthday Tenten!! (Though I'm 2 days late)

xx

HighQueen