Title: Prologue: Touch Starved
Warning: AU. Little OOCness
Disclaimer: We don't own Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto owns it. We are not making any money from this fan fiction.
Notes: Apparently we just can't stop writing. Because we bring you a new story! Also, this one is supposed to have less angst (you'd think that'd be easy, but not for us LOL) and more humor. Hope we managed.
Summary: Uchiha Naruto's only just found his one remaining family member, and the prank potential is just too much to pass up. Faux!gay!SasuNaruSasu, Confused&Disturbed!EverybodyElse. AU. WIP.
It doesn't surprise Naruto that they left him tied to the post - and while it hurt that Sasuke, his family, left him like that, without a way of escaping - that they knew of - Naruto is aware that Sasuke doesn't know he is family. Naruto sighs and shakes his head before untensing his muscles, breathing out and sucking his thin belly even further in, and the ropes fall off him like water off a duck's back.
He quickly tracks down Sasuke's scent - which he knows almost better than his own - and finds the black haired Uchiha laying on the ground, staring at the sky. The Katon that he'd used during the bell test must have taken a lot out of him.
Naruto takes a few moments to study his cousin. He knows that Sasuke won't believe him until he shows him his sharingan, but he has to wonder how Sasuke will take to not being the last Uchiha anymore. Not that they'll be able to tell anyone, since Sandaime managed to pass on his paranoia to Naruto and the blond doesn't want to get into a political scandal. He hasn't even told Sarutobi about his sharingan. He hasn't told anyone.
He knows to keep quiet about the sharingan because his father, Namikaze Minato, told him when he was less than an hour old not to say anything about being an Uchiha. He only remembers because he'd been born with his sharingan active.
He figures that it had been the Kyuubi's killing intent that activated his sharingan and the Shiki Fujin that put his life in danger that made it evolve to the second level so fast. He knows that no one as young as he was, was supposed to have an active sharingan.
Activating it before even being born has messed his brain up but good. He had been cognizant and aware during his own birth. That was said to be impossible. But for him, anything is possible, so he supposes that being conscious while being born is just one more strange thing about him.
He follows Sasuke until the other Uchiha enters one of the empty alleys closer to the Uchiha districts, one that nobody ever travels since the massacre. He doesn't travel through here often either, no matter how much he's wanted to see the remaining member of his family, because the massacre hurt. Itachi's betrayal, his killing of everyone - despite Naruto never having known any of them - was still a bleeding wound in his chest.
He had lost a lot during that day, though nobody knew about it. Sasuke had lost even more though; he had lost everyone he'd known, everyone who'd loved him up until then- or so he thought, anyway. They'd both been alone, too. Naruto had considered approaching Sasuke in the days after the massacre, until he'd realized that while they wouldn't hurt him for spending time with Sasuke, the adults of the village wouldn't exactly condone it either.
So he'd spent years developing his prankster persona even farther than before, finding that being a harmless clown was not only a good way to suppress the loneliness, but also genuinely fun. Even if the Academy was the most boring places on earth, and having to sit through the lessons he knew by heart already was sometimes more than he could stand; well, there were a lot of pranks he could think up during that time. Besides, he got to see Iruka, one of the only adults who didn't despise him and in fact welcomed his company.
He learned a lot during the years he suffered through the Academy curriculum. Never much from the actual lessons, but from the things he found in the Academy library. By the end of his first year in the Academy, he had read all the books assigned to the different years classes, and even if it had taken him another year to fully comprehend everything and learn how to apply what the books taught him in real life, those first two years hadn't been wasted.
The years after that, he'd used henge to sneak into the civilian libraries and learn as much as he could about things like gardening (herbs for both healing and cooking), geology (how to use the terrain to your advantage) and first aid, since the shinobi library is so heavily guarded it seemed almost ridiculous at times. The one section in the shinobi archive that is open for everyone holds mostly things about politics and the customs of different countries, and while he's sure that would be useful to know sometime, at the moment it's little more than useless.
Sasuke stops at his house and Naruto watches him stare at it for a few seconds before entering. Sasuke pauses just inside and softly calls out the traditional greeting, but gets no response.
Naruto knows that Sasuke has done that since the Massacre. He knows that Sasuke will continue to do that until someone is there to answer him.
It's kind of sad.
Naruto never had anyone in the first place, but at the very least he can say that he remembers exactly what his mother and father look like and how they sound. He thinks that Sasuke's memories must be fading, like any normal person's memory does. He wishes that Sasuke had activated his sharingan before the Massacre.
Well, Naruto's about to fix that. Sasuke won't be alone anymore; he has Naruto now.
They are cousins after all.
He enters the courtyard silently, listening carefully for anyone else who might be in the area. He knows the ANBU take turns to watch his cousin, but they generally only do so during the night or whenever Sasuke has been alone for a long period of time. They should have spoken to him, Naruto thinks angrily. They could have just said hello, to let him know he wasn't completely alone in a house large enough to echo. It wouldn't have brought about any negative consequences for them to do so.
There is no point in his growling mentally at the ANBU, though, so he leaves that train of thought with a last sass at them; he'd be much more awesome than that. He'd not just go on routine, like a mindless automaton, he'd see the people too.
He knocks on the door quietly, more hesitant than he'd liked to admit. He'd gone over all possible scenarios before deciding to take the bull by the horns, and he knew things could easily go wrong. He didn't think they would, though. He'd watched over Sasuke for so long that he thought he at least had a semi-accurate picture of his cousin, more so than even the psychological profile the Academy reports had about him.
The door opens silently, and Naruto sees a kunai glint under narrowed suspicious eyes. It hurts a little that his cousin looks at him with such suspicion, though he knows it isn't rational to think so. Sasuke doesn't know him, after all.
There is surprise in Sasuke's voice, quickly masked and choked. Naruto nods, dropping his normally eternally-cheerful mask for the seriousness befitting this situation. It isn't that he isn't a genuinely happy person; not everything he showed the public was a mask, but contrary to what most people believes - shinobi and civilian alike - he is not just a clown.
"Hey Sasuke." He leaves of the 'teme' suffix that his mask usually adds to Sasuke's name and Sasuke's eyes sharpen, "I wanted to talk with you."
Sasuke obviously doesn't want to talk to him because he goes to close the door in Naruto's face. Naruto reaches out and grabs the edge of the door and stops it cold. Sasuke's eyes widen and he looks from Naruto's hand to his blue eyes and he frowns.
"What the hell..."
"Sasuke, it's about your family." Naruto wants to say 'our' family, but can't. Not yet. He has to get Sasuke somewhere safe first. Somewhere no one will see or hear what he's about to reveal.
Sasuke's face closes off and he glares at Naruto, "You don't have the right to talk to me about my family," he spits out with contempt and Naruto shakes his head.
"No, wait, Sasuke-" Naruto sighs and steps away from the door, running a hand through his shaggy hair, "Sasuke, it's not like that. I really need to tell you something, but it can't be overheard. It's important."
Sasuke looks indecisive, and Naruto does understand his reluctance. After all, what could the dead last possibly know about the Uchiha clan? It still annoys him a bit though, since he really doesn't feel like standing on the threshold to their family's house while Sasuke debates the merits of going with him. In the end though, he does do what Naruto predicted he would: he steps out the door to follow him.
Sasuke would never take the chance that Naruto might know something about his family and that he bypassed hearing about it, no matter how unlikely it seems to him. A bit of an obvious vulnerable spot for an enemy to take advantage of, really. But then, they've only just become genin, and for all Sasuke's genius, he's still lacking experience. To be fair, they both are; but Sasuke more than himself.
He takes them across lesser traveled roads to one of the training grounds that borders the wall facing west, and steps lightly over the grass towards one of his favorite thinking spots. This training ground isn't often used anymore, since it was deemed unsafe to be so close to the weakest side of the wall during the war. That weakness has since been rectified, but apparently the habits were too well ingrained, since no jounin or chuunin active during the war used it anymore, and nobody else knew about it. Naruto himself had only by accident stumbled upon it - quite literally - after a mad dash to get away from an angry mob after one of his pranks a few years ago.
While it was true that he's never been beaten by the villagers, they still punish him for his attention seeking pranks. He's tried to use fairly harmless things in his pranks, but sometimes he's under-estimated things, or something goes wrong unintentionally and he's blamed for the resulting injuries.
Sasuke is silent as they walked. Naruto wonders what he's thinking. He's well able to guess that Sasuke thinks that if this is a prank or a joke, he could beat the ever living crap out of Naruto to make himself feel better. He's wrong, but it's probably one of the few reasons Sasuke had decided to follow him.
When they reach the out of the way training field - all ground in with long grass and small trees - Naruto sits down on the ground abruptly, drawing his knees up to his chest.
Sasuke watches him with narrowed eyes.
"What did you have to say to me, Dobe?"
"I've never had a family," Naruto starts. He needs to be clear on this for Sasuke to understand why he's waited as long as he had, "I know I had a mother and a father, but they both died the day I was born. It's understandable that they both died on the same day considering that I was born during the Kyuubi attack." Sasuke pales and Naruto thinks that he's getting through. "Since I lost my parents the day I was born, I've never had anyone be kind to me. Except maybe Hokage-sama and Iruka-sensei."
Sasuke straightens his spine, his body rigid, "What has that got to do with my family, Dobe?"
"I'm scared, Sasuke." Naruto refuses to look up into those black eyes that stare at him with contempt. "I... I have a family that I've never contacted because I'm scared they would have ignored me as well. No matter what I do, I'm not good enough. So I hid. And I protected."
Sasuke is getting interested despite himself and Naruto takes that as a good sign, "What do you mean?"
"When I figured out who my family was, I was amazed. But I never said anything. Because I couldn't. I didn't want to drown my family in my reputation. Things were bad enough for them. And then a year after I figured it out... they died. All of them." Naruto raises his head and looks at Sasuke plainly, "All but one traitor, and one kid, my age."
Naruto sees the light of disbelief enter Sasuke's yes when the boy grasps what he's implying, and that doesn't surprise Naruto at all. He wouldn't trust him - or rather, his prankster persona - either. The belief fades and is replaced by an anger that's courting rage, but before Sasuke gets far enough in his violent thoughts to try and punch him, Naruto blinks at him.
With sharingan eyes.
There is absolute silence for almost an entire minute. Sasuke's eyes widen slowly and his face pales to an alarming shade of greyish white. Naruto frowns; he hadn't expected Sasuke to react adversely to his revelation, and wonders with dawning worry if he's miscalculated. Maybe he should have waited a while longer to talk to him, when they'd gotten to know each other as a team... but it'd been hard enough waiting this long to reveal himself, and Naruto doesn't think he would have been able to be so close to his only living - acknowledged - relative without hurting every time he saw nothing in the other's eyes.
Naruto needs Sasuke, and Sasuke needs him. His cousin needs a big brother who could be a role model, to erase the memories of the Weasel.
"Sasuke?" Naruto asks quietly, watching the boy's eyes turn inward and his throat swallows convulsively. Naruto wants to reach out to touch him, ensure that he's alright, but he doesn't dare to.
"...You - you're - an Uchiha?" he asks hoarsely and his eyes are tracing Naruto's features, trying to find a connection. Naruto isn't surprised when he frowns at the yellow mop of hair on his head, because it really isn't very Uchiha.
"Yes," he says quietly, carefully, trying to gauge the boy's reactions. Because Sasuke is a boy; they may be the same age in year of life, but Naruto has had his sharingan activated since the day he was born, and remembers six more years of his own life than Sasuke does of his.
Sasuke stares into his eyes then, hunger and longing that would probably be mistaken for another kind of emotion to anyone but Naruto. But Naruto understands, because he feels it too. When the boy raises a hand to Naruto's cheek, tracing the skin just under his eye with feathery touches, Naruto smiles a little. He almost wants to cry, he feels so happy.
"How?" Sasuke chokes out, finally, and Naruto covers the pale hand with his own tanned one. He is a little surprised that Sasuke allows the action, because his cousin has been very reluctant to touch anyone since the massacre. Naruto wouldn't have blamed Sasuke if he hadn't wanted him to touch him either, especially as intimate a touch as almost holding hands.
But maybe Sasuke is as touch starved as Naruto is, because he closes his eyes a little and shivers. Naruto doesn't know if he's trying to hold back tears or if he's afraid, but he forges on. That's about all he can - and wants to - do in this situation. He wants to tell Sasuke who he is; he's wanted someone to see the real him for so long it's like an old ache in his stomach - usually ignored, but always present.
So he talks, for real. With his own inflections and vocabulary and emotions, and it's such a relief; it's like taking a deep breath after having held it in for so long. He tells Sasuke about activating his sharingan the moment before he was born and watches his cousin's black eyes widen when Naruto tells him about his father, about the Yondaime, and about the masks he's cultivated and perfected over the years.
He talks about how he'd wanted to talk to Sasuke after the massacre, wanted to share his pain, but unable to because of the village general dislike of him. About how he'd done the only thing he felt he could; he'd decided to end up on the same team as Sasuke, throwing the Academy's lessons and skipping classes to ensure he'd be the dead last to Sasuke's rookie of the year.
When he tells Sasuke how proud he'd been in his progress, a silent tear drops down the boy's cheek. His eyes are wide open and Naruto can barely see the dilated pupils in the circle of black. And then when he tells his cousin how worried he'd been to see Sasuke retreat further and further away from the world as the years went by, and how he'd been trying to watch out for him as much as he could, both in and out of the Academy, Sasuke sobs a laugh.
"It was you, wasn't it? The carrot cakes on my windowsill every birthday?" he says with a hitch in his voice, and Naruto is truly proud of how quick Sasuke is on the uptake. His cousin isn't called a genius for nothing.
"Yes; they're your favorite," Naruto feels his own throat close up at the look on Sasuke's face and isn't all to surprised when he ends up with an armful of Uchiha. Naruto hugs him as tightly as he can, probably a bit too tightly, but he can't help it. He's been waiting for this moment all his life, and now that it's here it's so much more emotional and real than he'd ever dreamed of.
They sit with their arms wrapped around each other for several minutes, and though it's a very uncharacteristic thing to do for the both of them (Sasuke isn't the only one who doesn't enjoy being touched very much) it feels just right in this moment. They've found each other. They're together. They're safe, if only for the moment.
When Sasuke finally leans back he shows only a little embarrassment at his tears, and he tries to be subtle in wiping them away. Naruto watches the skyline to give him privacy and then scoots to the side of the tree to make room for his cousin. Sasuke blinks at him and then moves to the side gracefully, coming to rest at his right side, close enough to brush their shoulders together. Naruto is glad that he isn't the only one who feels the need to have the other within touching distance.
When Sasuke speaks up again, several minutes later, his voice is back to normal - if a bit warmer than usually. "So you manipulated the whole school system, just so we'd end up on the same team?" Naruto can feel Sasuke watch him from the corner of his eye and feels a little embarrassed. He doesn't want Sasuke to think he's clingy, and he almost laughs it off, when he sees the soft curve of his cousin's lips. Sasuke is smiling. Truly smiling; not smirking or sneering or anything else.
Naruto feels almost giddy at the thought that he put that expression on Sasuke's face, and bumps their shoulders together before answering. Sasuke tilts his head to rest on the tree trunk at his back, looking at him with the most unguarded expression Naruto has seen on the boy's face since Itachi's betrayal. He doubts it would look like much more than a slight softening of his normally stoic features to anyone else from their Academy class, but Naruto knows it's much more than that.
"Yeah, I did," he answers and then adds mischievously, "It was a lot of fun, too." Sasuke's smile turns into a non-aggressive smirk and he snorts, looking a little amused. Then the amusement fades, and in its place is an intent expression that makes Naruto a little nervous.
"So it wasn't only a mask then?" Sasuke asks quietly, and Naruto is stuck by how perceptive his cousin is, even without the sharingan. He's not sure what gave him away, and though he knows he should probably be worried that Sasuke realized it so quickly, he can't really bring himself to care much. This is his cousin, after all, and it wasn't like he was trying to hide himself from Sasuke.
"No, it's not," Naruto confirms and Sasuke nods. The intent expression fades and his eyes flicker up to Naruto's hair. Naruto isn't sure what Sasuke is thinking, but it doesn't look like it's about something painful, so the silence is alright.
"Your mother's name... what was it?" And Naruto can tell that Sasuke is flipping through the rosters of Uchiha clan members in his head to try to put a face to his mother, to see if he'd known her, even if only by name.
"Uchiha Kushina," Naruto says and Sasuke's eyes widen in recognition. Naruto knew it would; he had no doubt that even without the sharingan, Sasuke remembered everything about from clan member's personal records, even about the ones he'd never known when they were among the living.
"You have her chin..." Sasuke says and Naruto smiles a little. He'd seen a picture of his mother once, in a book listing the Academy teachers lost during the Kyuubi attack. Iruka had been the one to show him, never understanding just how much that had meant to Naruto.
Sasuke continues, drawing a finger lightly over the features he mentions, "And the shape of her eyes... the cheeks, too..." They're sitting so close their noses are almost touching and Naruto suddenly can't help but wonder how it would look to any outside eyes. Highly suspicious, no doubt. Then a small light goes off in his brain, the same way it always does when he's stumbled over a great idea for a prank. There'll need to be some refinement of the details, but... yes, it should be a lot of fun. And he won't even need any particular materials.
"But Naruto, I don't understand why the village doesn't know about you, about who you are..." Sasuke's question is like a cold bucket of water over Naruto's tentative plotting and he involuntarily tenses. He could lie about this. He could, because the answer to that question is something that he wouldn't even blame Sasuke for being scared and hateful of.
But oh, how that would hurt.
Naruto was always good at facing his demons, literally and figuratively, but he doesn't want to be rejected by Sasuke. He doesn't much care about what other people think about him and his relationship to his tenant, but he doesn't want Sasuke's eyes to narrow in hatred or fear directed at him.
"Sasuke... I was born October 10th..." he begins quietly, not sure how to proceed. Sasuke just nods at him, looking confused, which doesn't surprise him.
"Demons as powerful as the Kyuubi can't be killed.... no matter what the Academy teachers say," Naruto states, trying to sound firm but fearing that he might come off as shaky, instead. Sasuke is starting to look worried, even as he examines the statement in his mind.
"...What happened to it, then?" he asks, frowning. He doesn't look like he doubts Naruto's words and Naruto isn't sure if he should be flattered or worried that Sasuke believes in his word more than their teachers. Not that that matters now, anyway.
Naruto takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. "Sasuke, the Yondaime didn't kill the Kyuubi. He sealed it."
Sasuke frowns even more, shaking his head. "I thought all animate things had to be sealed in the living?" He quotes one of the more advanced lessons on basic sealing, wherein the teacher had explained that something animate has to be in something animate, and something inanimate had to be sealed in something inanimate.
"Yes. Like in humans," Naruto murmurs and it only takes Sasuke a second to pale completely. Naruto flinches a little and tries to prepare himself for the coming outburst.
"The Yondaime - your father - sealed the Fox in you?" he snarls and Naruto feels his dreams slip through his fingers, but nods anyway. He doesn't want to lie to Sasuke.
And then his cousin says what Naruto was expecting the least, "How could he?!" he draws Naruto into his arms harshly, holding on to him the same almost too-tight way Naruto had held onto him before. And it takes Naruto several moments to process the fact that Sasuke isn't afraid. He's holding him, trying to comfort him.
They hug until they can't hug anymore and Sasuke seats himself in between Naruto's spread legs, wrapping the blond's arms around his waist to keep him close. Naruto leans in and breathes in Sasuke's scent. The scent of home.
"Thank you," He whispers. He won't ever be able to thank Sasuke enough for not hating him, or despising him.
"You're so brave," Sasuke wonders out loud in quiet amazement, leaning back into his cousin's hold, "You told me... you told me that we're family and you told me about... that, even though you thought I would reject you."
Naruto shrugs a little, but knows from the way Sasuke just holds him tighter that he can see past the nonchalance with ease. Naruto presses his forehead into the junction between Sasuke's neck and shoulder, breathing in more of his scent. It's something that comes from the Kyuubi, Naruto knows, the wanting to sniff people to catalog them. Sasuke has a hint of his own scent, a familiarity, that speaks of blood bonds and it smells amazing.
"My chakra coils are a lot bigger than average, because they had to adapt to the Kyuubi's chakra," Naruto mumbles into Sasuke's skin and Sasuke stills, before bringing a hand up to rest at Naruto's nape. His cousin's palm is pleasantly cool, and Naruto sighs a little. It feels good to know that Sasuke is trying, awkwardly, to act like family. It must be hard for him to drop the coldness he's been shrouded in for so long, but he's trying his best anyway.
"I can't tell anyone that I'm the Fourth's son, because he had so many enemies. You know what he did to the Iwa-nin," Naruto mutters, continuing his explanation and feeling surprisingly relaxed about it. It's like lancing a wound, he thinks, almost therapeutic.
Sasuke nods, bowing his head forward a little, letting Naruto run his nose over the back of his neck.
"That's- the smelling me thing? That's from 'it', right?" Sasuke asks and Naruto hums his agreement to Sasuke question. "Oh." He breathes in deep but his heart rate doesn't speed up with fear or anything, "What do I smell like?"
He sounds curious and Naruto smiles against his skin.
Sasuke stops and then starts breathing again. Naruto knows at this point that he will never, ever be pushed off of Sasuke when he wants to, or needs to, scent him. Sasuke doesn't want his cousin to feel like his isn't welcome in the family, like he isn't welcome to be a part of Sasuke's life.
It's a great thing for his latest - and greatest - planned prank. And it won't even hurt Sasuke, just the villagers and the Council. He giggles a little. Oh boy, will the Civilian Council just want to kill him for 'making the last Uchiha gay'. This is going to be so awesome.
But he has to think about it a bit more before actually going through with it because Sasuke is his only family now. Sasuke is family. He doesn't want to hurt him, not in any way, shape, or form.
"Did you just giggle?" Sasuke asks, incredulous, looking over his shoulder at Naruto. Naruto grins at him and Sasuke rolls his eyes, "You are so immature."
Naruto's face falls and he looks away. He never had a 'childhood'. Because of his sharingan he's always felt so very much older than his body. He has the mind of at least an eighteen year old and he's only supposed to be twelve. It hurts sometimes that he'll never be looked at like he's normal, that he'll never be normal.
He wants to be normal.
Sasuke's face contorts and he twists his body so that he's lying chest to chest with Naruto. He reaches out and grasps his face, "Naruto," He says seriously, "I don't mind if you're happy. I'm happy too."
Naruto kisses his cheek then presses their foreheads together. He's taking more liberties with Sasuke than he should, and he's not sure that Sasuke will want to be so close to him, but he can't help it. He needs the physical contact as well as scent. He needs all of his senses filled with his family; taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.
He wonders how to explain that to Sasuke, but maybe he doesn't need to because Sasuke bumps their noses together gently and smiles.
"You don't mind?" he whispers, because although Sasuke doesn't feel or smell like he minds, Naruto still wants Sasuke to confirm it out loud. He knows this behavior isn't normal in a human, and he'll understand if it makes Sasuke uncomfortable, but he needs this. The familial connection goes deeper than his human mind, into the small piece of him that changed when the Kyuubi was first sealed into him. The one that screams 'pack' whenever Sasuke's scent reaches him, when the boy touches or talks to him.
He tells Sasuke as much and Sasuke nods, looking serious but still unafraid and undisturbed. It's so much more than what Naruto was hoping for, and he nuzzles Sasuke's neck again, almost wanting to lick him to taste his skin. But he's afraid that would be a little too much; a little too animalistic. He's only barely accepted that urge himself, and he's still so afraid he'll scare his cousin off.
They sit in silence for a while; both trying to come to terms with how much has changed in such a short period of time. They've both shed their masks, if only for this moment, and both are more vulnerable than they've allowed themselves to be for many years. It surprisingly comfortable to sit like this too, Naruto thinks with contentment. No matter how it would look like to the outside.
With that thought, his mind returns to the prank and he thinks that it could even help his cousin a little to have people think he's gay. He knows how much Sasuke hates to be touched by strangers, how much he hates the fact that the gaggle of fangirls will never leave him alone no matter how many times he turns them away. And everyone knows that when a clan member is courting someone, you stay the hell away.
Naruto smiles into the scent of home.
And it'll be so much fun, too.