Title: Dearly Beloved

Chapter Eight: The Patriarch

Pairing: Naru x Sasuke, Shika x Neji, Kisame x Itachi

Rating: NC-17

Warnings: (for the entire fic not necessarily this chapter) Angst, snark, sex, heartbreak, love, divorce, plot, making up, snark, sex, love, slash, mentions of femmeslash, sex. Some more snark….Oh…and sex.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own Naruto. Goddamnit.

General Announcement: Whoa, whoa whoa people- lol that Shukaku Sui thing was just a joke. /fail

A reviewer mentioned that making turning this into a fic where everybody is gay isn't necessary- and I agree with them. It's a bit juvenile and very unrealistic when you consider that the gay population of any given country is probably like 7 – 10%

Not gonna do it guys- Don't worry about it 8D

RE TWITTER: I have finally taken the leap and gone and done my Twitter account. Link is on my profile- feel free to follow 8D

For all the Naruto lovers, we get to see more of him and hear more about his past this chapter. I did this because many reviewers have been calling Naru-bb a 'mysterious' character and I think it's time to bring him home for more of you lovely readers 8D

Ya'll don't even need to imagine the amount of typos in this thing. I'll fix them tomorrow, when I've gotten some sleep. -shrug- sorry


Eight am on Monday found Sasuke in the antechamber of his building's bustling lobby, accompanied by Neji and feeling charged and ready to go. Naruto had just stepped inside himself and both parties had nodded curtly – and yay for some level of civility - to each other before turning to go to their respective ways.

And then Uchiha Fugaku walked in.

The small room had gone amazingly quiet and Sasuke felt a sick kind of swoon come to his gut when he realized exactly what was about to happen here.

These two hated each other.

"Uzumaki." Fugaku drawled, eyes half closed as though that could hide the glaring disdain he held for the blond man.

"Fugaku." Naruto shot back, voice pleasantly poisonous even as he insulted his older man by using his given name which –incidentally- he had never, ever been granted permission to employ. "Still alive, then."

Fugaku's jaw went tight.

Neji discreetly exited.

Sasuke's heart was racing a mile a minute.

So not good.


Silence had never been so loud.

Sasuke felt like his eardrums had both simultaneously ruptured and blasted his sanity to resounding pieces and like a bale of cotton had descended over his ears and slammed out all sound.

"Father," he managed, throat drier than the Sahara.

"I wasn't expecting you."

Adrenaline pumping and his entire mind being thrown into full 'damage-control-fix-this-erupting-shit-now' mode, Sasuke carefully positioned his body between Fugaku and Naruto's lines of sight.

"No. I dare say you weren't" the older man said flatly, his steely brown-black eyes dragonishly boring through his youngest's head as though it were cellophane and straight into Naruto's mutinous blue ones. The blond's fists had gone tight and his left eye was beginning to twitch dangerously.

Bad day, bad day, bad day.

Out of the corner of his eye Sasuke watched Neji's ponytail disappear into thin air.

'Faggot' Sasuke thought venomously. 'Fucking sissy coward, leaving me alone in this mess without a paddle or a prayer'

"Is there something you needed, father? We do have a meeting to get to."

Clearly, Naruto just couldn't hold it in anymore.

"Most likely to put C4 under my Veyron. Check his pockets for the remote controls Sasuke, I fear for my car's engine."

Sasuke wanted to slap him. "Naruto please, Father wouldn't ever-"

Fugaku's eyes narrowed into slits. "- be stupid enough to keep the remote on me. How are you Uzumaki? Still proving your blond hair accurate, I see. Run my company into the ground yet?"

"I'm almost there. The final stage is some suspicious arson over near where your old office used to be. The place reeks of death and bad karma."

A hastily muffled snort dragged Sasuke's attention over to the open door that was currently showing an abnormal amount of passer-by traffic. A young aid slapped his notepad over his face and scuttled off like a ferret. Sasuke made a mental note to assign him ancillary duty for the next thirty years.

Clearly, his life was a farce.

"What the hell is wrong with you two?" he hissed voice serpentine as his infamous temper finally flaring and grabbing both of their arms and glaring hellfire and brimstone.

"This is my bloody building. I need to command some level of respect around here and a throwdown between you both in my blasted lobby is not going to get me any cub scout point. Father, your old dinosaur pundit colleagues already don't respect me because I'm less than half their age. Naruto, get the hell out of the sandbox and be an adult. I don't have the time for this."

Both parties went silent…stiff, but silent. Naruto yanked his muscled bicep from Sasuke's death grip and stalked off back towards the elevator, back stiff like titanium and stride viciously clipped.

Sasuke sighed.

"I still don't understand how that immature child ever attracted you Sasuke. The boy is a mental peasant."

Sasuke just shook his head. "What do you want dad?"

Fugaku shuffled himself a bit. "I am entitled to visit my own company, Sasuke…Moreover, I was on my way to the penthouse to pick up some documents and your mother asked me to hand you this."

From a hidden pocket in his suit Fugaku produced a small cream parchment envelope and handed it to the other.

"I believe it is an invitation to an annual Sakura festival the Sarutobi boy keeps at his father's estate."

Sasuke accepted. "Anything else? I really do have a meeting."

Fugaku just stared at him for a minute. "Itachi has informed me that he intends to return to Japan by Christmas…I expect you to receive him and his…companion."

As elated as he was by his big brother's return, Sasuke felt his heart plummet with the wording of his father's sentence. It seemed that the old man would never see Itachi's decision to leave and live his own life as anything but a hideous betrayal to Fugaku's own person. The fact that he was fucking a man only made things worse.

"Goodbye Dad." He said softly, voice low and disappointed. "I'll visit Mother soon."

Not even waiting for an answer Sasuke departed, his turned back disallowing his from Seeing Fugaku's shoulders slump.


"Naruto!" Sasuke hissed, slamming the door behind him and swiftly drawing the brown blinds to his office from the gazes of curious onlookers.

The blond turned a blue eye upon him before sneering and flinging himself into Sasuke's padded guest chair that sat opposite his desk.

"What the fuck? You know not to antagonize him! Christ! You think I need any more drama in my life right now?"

It was barely nine in the morning and Sasuke already felt like his tie was strangling him. Tossing his briefcase to the large table and yanking on his constricting green tie with jerky pulls, the furious Uchiha's lips had thinned to pale, bloodless lines.

"Oh please." Naruto scoffed, his gaze mulish as he looked up at the now pacing Uchiha.

"Sasuke, I refuse to allow that bastard to walk over me anymore. As much respect I have for him and all the power he'd got, el abuelito es un pendejo, Sasuke. A complete fucking bastard and I'm sorry that he doesn't like me, but it is what it is. I don't like him either."

Sasuke rolled his eyes and slowed his pacing to face his rather stern, and frankly very sexy looking in his stubbornness, ex.

"Don't be rash Naruto…it's not that Father doesn't like you…it's just…if you could bend a little- you're so stubborn and independent and Father works best with if you just give him a little rope and let him do things his way. It's not the end of the world Naruto."

Naruto's eyes went softer and the set to his jaw lost a bit of its edge as he surveyed Sasuke, whose tone had gone a bit stressed and pleading there to the end.

"No," he said quietly and firmly. "You've never really known, have you?"

"Known what?"

Naruto's smile was wry but his voice began to explain. "Seems I've kept you in the dark for a very long time- I'm sorry Sasuke. That really was my mistake…I guess I wasn't as communicative with you as I though."

"Know what?" The brunet reiterated, drawing closer to the blond, his heartbeat kicking up a bit as he wondered if this is what Madara had meant the other day about much of his life being kept from him. Naruto considered for a moment and began.

"Your family is zaibatsu Sasuke, you know this. It's one of the large global family corporations that turn into empires and mega-conglomerates, the only difference between it and the Rockefellers or the Carnegies is that you come from samurai class and they're Western….Your father doesn't like me, because I grew up poor."

"What are you talking about?" Sasuke queried softly, trying to- finally- understand the man before him. "You grew up in the embassy, with money. Your grandmother has money."

"In Japan, yes. But I wasn't in Japan for a good portion of my times. After my parents died I bounced around Spain in foster homes for a while before coming to the embassy."

Naruto turned his chair towards Sasuke and leaned forward, his elbows propped up on his knees and his blue eyes gloomy. The Uchiha found himself leaning on the edge of his desk now, half perched on the gleaming wood and less than a foot away from the other. Naruto looked up again, vision liquid with memory.

"In Puerto Rico, when I finally got there, Baba Tsunade lived a simple life. She had money but she didn't care about it or she gave it away or gambled it off. Our home was small but functional and near the coastline so we got smashed sometimes during hurricanes.

It was un barrio, a lower level income community. I spoke slang and listened to raggaeton. I ran barefoot on dirt roads and played football with no rules in cowfields and in the dirt streets. I saw cock fights and bull dog fights and knife fights. We woke up, not from a fancy alarm, but because the cock crowed and you either got the eggs from the chickens or the mongoose would…. or if there was a drive by. Granny Tsunade had her issues- she wasn't no woman to tuck you into bed. After the death of her husband and with the things she'd seen, she got tough around the edges. Real touch… caring, but tough. That woman can still punch a hole through a half-inch thick cement wall."

Sasuke was quiet, allowing these words that Naruto had never shared to paint a picture of a land and a life that he had never seen or even imagined before.

"Sasuke, believe me when I say, 'I grew up poor'. In Octobers, when I came back to the embassy for classes and Japanese and uniforms I felt like a curiosity. 'Un extraterrestre' Sasuke- an alien.

I had this entire legacy to live up to and I was scared. When I got my inheritance and finished college, taking the plunge and starting Jinchuriki Entertainments was the biggest fright of my life. I didn't sleep for months; when I did, it was on the floor in my apartment 'cause the bed made me feel like I was suffocating. I struggled, I clawed and I earned my respect tooth and nail from the people who thought I was coasting on Daddy's money and old contacts. I wasn't."

Naruto's face was suddenly passionate and fierce. "I swear I wasn't Sasuke. I had help in some key places yes, I'm not going to lie, but I built that company Sasuke. I built it. I built it con mis manos, y mi sangre…y mis lágrimas."

'My blood,' Sasuke translated mentally, 'and my sweat…and my tears'.

Naruto flopped back like he had lost his strength.

"Your Father knows that." Naruto scoffed. "Hell, he knows more things about me than I'd like. I think, I remind him of himself…and that's why he doesn't like me."

Sasuke's eyes lit up and he edged closer to the saddened looking male, something in his gut twisting in pain.

"But Naruto…don't you think these similarities with Father would endear you to him? Maybe, maybe he's just been trying to guide you because he respects how you've worked and-"

Naruto's smile grew even waner. "No my innocent Sasuke…he doesn't like me because I remind him too much of himself…remind him that he was once an outcast and an alien too, before Madara rebuilt the clan. And he doesn't like it."

Sasuke stood, stunned like a fool slapped over his head with a mallet.

Dear god…he had never looked at it that way. All this time, all this very long time- he couldn't ever understand why his father looked at Naruto the way he did, like he couldn't bear to see him. Sasuke has thought it was because Fugaku thought Naruto flighty, young and stupid (and, well blond) and the older man had done nothing to disabuse him of the notion. Allowing him to rant and rave about how Naruto just couldn't stay still for any amount of time and how he just couldn't get along with Fugaku.

Sasuke felt cold sweat break out on his forehead and the back of his neck. Christ. Just what the fuck had gone on in his marriage? His heart beat kicked up another notch and his eyes grew wide.

"Naruto, I didn't know. I didn't know! I swear to you, I didn't know- I thought you just hated him for no reason and I had him on such a pedestal- and still do- because he's my father and I thought you were trying to make me choose between you and my family and I-"

Sasuke was inches from Naruto now, his fists clenched at his sides trembling and unsure.

"Sasuke, as precious as family is to me, you should know that I would never encourage you to leave yours. Not ever - not even if he helped mess this up."

The rebuke was gentle and Sasuke felt so very, very small.

"Can you ever forgive me?"

The shimmering blond head tilted back and a small smile played across peach lips. A shiver of something dark and sinister twirled through the Uchiha when both of Naruto's broad hands came to rest on Sasuke's slim hips and pulled him into the 'V' of the blond's legs.

"Sasuke," he sighed pressing his forehead into the slender man's tummy. "I never really held you accountable in the first place."

Quiet, and flooded in gratitude and shame, Sasuke could do nothing more than bring his left hand up to softly hold the man's held in place by the back of his tan neck. He still wracked his brain for a way to show that he meant it.

"Mu-muchisimas gracias?" he tried tentatively.

Naruto laughed and looked back, blue eyes sparkling and face mischievous with a lopsided fox grin.

"Aha! I knew all those Spanish lessons would bear fruit someday!"

Sasuke snorted and gently pulled away. "Oh kiss my ass, dobe."

"Do you still have that tattoo there?" the blond perked up, his cheery face effectively eliminating the sombre atmosphere of before.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "The misadventures of my youth and the very tiny grasshopper and bamboo tattoo on my ass are two subjects I've actively repressed, thank you. Leave it, or I'll tell everyone in this building about how you use to drag race in Tokyo's underground."

Naruto stretched and buffed his nails on his silk shirt like a boss. "Man I ruled the road. They used to call me 'King' Naruto."


"No, for real! I was good. Left that shit behind real quick though- I had bigger things ahead of me than pulling mad maxes in underground parking lots…still stick to my roots though."

"Clearly, otherwise you wouldn't have that blue monstrosity in my building."

"What? The Veyron? You have the balls to call a Bugatti a 'monstrosity'. Sasuke, get down on your knees and repent."

Pale lips twitched at the others fierce look, his cheeks almost as puffed out as a fussed chipmunk.

"I don't think so. But you can kiss its bumper as much as you like. Me, I'll take pictures."

"I just want to breathe on that car." A new voice said.

Both parties spun around to find two widely smirking men standing in the doorway. The first was a wild eyed brunet with piercing golden eyes and a wolfish grin and the second was a huskier rusty redhead with seagrass eyes and broader shoulders.

"Man forget breathing on it, I just it to run me over. Just lay my ass down and let it clobber me - I can admire the neon blue undercarriage lighting better from the floor."

"Kiba! Kankuro! Man, what are you guys doing here?" Naruto shot up from his seat and grabbed his chief-of-staff, previously out with gout, into a fierce hug.

"Naru- man, dude, can't breathe. Sympathy for the convalescing here, please!"

The Uzumaki released him, eyes brimming, before turning to capture Kankuro. "Oye! cábron- que lo que, man? Que pasa, puto? Hace tiempo, chacho!"

"I don't understand a word you said Naruto, you know I only speak Italian. But it's good to see you nonetheless. Gaara sends his regards."

"Yes, yes of course. You guys remember Sasuke?" he turned to gesture.

Two sets of thick eyebrows shot up together.

"Yeah, of course. Uchiha-san," Kiba created a bit cautiously, "Good to see you."

Sasuke held up a hand. "'Sasuke', Inuzuka please. Drop the formality, I already have a headache."

Kiba's eyebrows disappeared into his hair and he shot his boss and friend a 'we so need to talk' look before getting back into the conversation.

"Sabaku Kankuro right? Gaara's older brother. I heard you were a puppeteer."

Kankuro gave a deep belly laugh. "Yeah, and Gaara does glass. Temari just does women- guess we all have an eye for beauty."

Sasuke came forward. "Glad to see you in better health Inuzuka. What brings you both here today?"

Both men simultaneously pointed to Naruto.

"The conference this week." Kiba said.

"A message from Gaara." Kankuro added. He smirked, "We couldn't find him in his office, so we took the advice of the fine people in the lobby and just followed the trail of blood and innards here. Heard there was a bitch fight."

Sasuke snorted. Well, if Shukaku was crass…..

"Oh god, welcome to my nightmare. Naruto, you want to go deal with them while I floor mat it with my father? We can catch up later?"

Naruto hopped on the balls of his feet like a toddler. "Sure, sure! I'll see you later."

Smiling, Sasuke went back to his desk and settled. Naruto, Kiba and Kankuro said goodbyes and turned out the door. Just before Kiba's back disappeared, a snippet of voice floated back to Sasuke through the air.

"I am going to record every word that now comes out of your mouth about this, believe it."

Sasuke snorted and palmed the phone.


Naruto led Kankuru and Kiba into his previously empty and very unused office not too far down the corridor from where Sasuke's resided. Waving both his friends into a seat the blond went to the minifridge and offered them both a bottle of chilled Evian.

"So what's up? Kiba I thought you had gout."

The Inuzuka grinned and leaned back. "Private doctors can work wonders these days man."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "And Kankuro, you?"

The other man was silent for a while, his fierce bluegreen eyes darting to Kiba for a second before turning back to his younger companion.

Kiba shifted a bit, "Look, I can leave if-"

Kankuro snorted and waved him off. "Nah, sit down. You can hear this…Naruto, it's about that info on Shukaku you asked Gaara for. I've come to deliver it since; honestly, I know more about it than Gaara does anyway. I'm the oldest out of all of us."

The mood in the room immediately shifted and Kiba fell to observation as Naruto's eyes went serious.

"I thought Shukaku would be about twenty nine by now?"

"Yeah, but I've got him beat by seven months. I'm thirty man, this ass is getting old."

Naruto smiled and Kankuro took a sip of water.

"Storytelling time. Point blank, Shukaku really is just here on coincidence. A lot of people don't know it, including you and maybe your boy Uchiha there, but Shukaku really disappeared because he was drafted into the military."

Naruto blinked, clearly shocked but said nothing.

"Yeah. You know he was a troublemaker back in his teens. Was in juvie and jail for Grand Theft Auto and street racing by the time he was eighteen. By the time he was twenty he was facing hard time, but Daddy cut a deal and he was pulled into the military under the cover that he staged a revolt and broke out of jail."

Kiba whistled lowly. "Hollywood, man."

Kankuro snorted. "Now if there's one prop I gotta give Shu…he's a badass. Shu can really fight. He rose through the ranks quickly- and unlike the others, he knew the streets. By the time he was twenty three Shukaku was in deep cover over in Nagasaki - busted up a huge Korean drug import ring with some crooked customs officials and one nasty piece of work judge. Barely four months later was he headhunted from military into Japan Special Forces. He's been in Guam and Malaysia ever since and that's why he wasn't at the wedding with you and Sasuke."

Kankuro paused for effect and watched the other two men as they allowed that half of the information to sink in a bit before he moved on to the other.

"Gaara was still pretty young back then and didn't really understand what was going on. To be honest, nobody really explained to him either; you know the little squirt was having some of his own mental trouble back in the day before you straightened his ass out. Thank you for that by the way, I never really did say so." He added, lifting his water in a brief toast.

Kankuro sighed again and his eyes were a bit flat. "I kinda blame myself. Shu was always a good kid…but he was always the black sheep of the family. Too wild, to individual, to hot headed and had problems with authority." He scoffed,

"To be honest, just like a damn Sabaku. Temari ain't conventional either- none of us are. But it pissed Daddy off something fierce, especially when Shu went behind his back or disrespected him. Daddy couldn't deal someone so…so wild."

"And Sasuke?"

Kankuro laughed. "Nah man, that really is just a coincidence. No grand designs, no underbelly plotting. He really is straight, well, figuratively anyway, cocky bastard that he is."

Kankuro grew sober again. "I think he's about to be shipped out again though. There's been some trouble up in China, especially near the Russian border up near old Manchuria. Some old school nationalists are trying some kind of counter-revolution against the communist government. Nothing major, just some rebel crazies, but you know how Japan wants to keep relationships with China tight, especially since the world is still feeling this damn recession and China is edging the US out in world power and money. Beijing is loaded, hell- they're saving Europe's ass right now. Greece may owe them for eternity and Japan likes money so it all works. Send in troops for support under cover of cultural ties and friendship is diplomatic gold right now."

Both men were nodding in confirmation of the political fact that the older puppeteer was giving.

"I still wanna punch him though." Naruto muttered.

Kiba interjected this time. "Speaking of which, man what is the deal with this? From what I saw in that room, you two were pretty cosy. When you guys were together I got this bad habit of checking the room for sharp objects and quick exits."

Naruto glared. "We were not that bad!"

"Man, what the hell are you talking about man? The press lived for your fights! Remember that time the deck of the 8ft yacht blew up and they got pictures of you and Sasuke brawling in the sand on the beach just out east? Man that shit was a classic, they still run that shit on entertainment television."

Kiba grinned. "Especially that shot where Sasuke had just clocked your ass one. That shot was gold. I hear the paparazzo that took it moved to Malibu."

Naruto cringed. Okay, so not one of his finest moments. Bad memory. Bad, bad memory.

"Yeah well-"

"Oh, I almost forgot!" Kankuro perked up before rummaging in his jacket pocket for something.

"I saw Sakura on the way up. She asked me to give this to you." He continued, forking over to Naruto a stiff looking envelope of cream parchment.

"Sakura's in the building?" Naruto cringed again, having a right to. Sasuke did not like having that woman in his turf, job description or no job description.

"She left right after. Yeah, I know the beef between her and Uchiha. Honestly, I side with him on this point. I always thought she was a bitch."

"Don't insult my friend."

"Watch it kid, I still outweigh your stick looking ass by two stone. It's my opinion and you know I'm flat out blunt. She didn't act right when you and Sasuke were together. She can't blame anyone but herself."

Naruto looked at Kiba and the other just shrugged, holding up both palms face out in a 'I'm-not-touching-that-with-a-ten-foot-pole,' expression. The blond sighed and let it go, opening the letter which turned out to be an invitation to the Sarutobi's yearly Sakura viewing.

"A viewing party, up at Asuma's. I hear his wife is pregnant."

"Who Kurenai? Well I'll be damned. Asuma always wanted a kid. Man'd make a good father if he quit smokin' so much." Kankuro rubbed his chin. "I been growing grapes and hitting on hot Romans out in Italy too long. All the stuff in Japan is passing me by."

Naruto stood, needing to get to some work. "Well hey, why don't you stick around the neighbourhood for a while? Christmas is coming soon and I know Neji is holding some kind of bash. You know how the Hyuuga can party."

"Yeah," Kankuro grinned. "I might even drag Gaara out of his hole. Tem, I'll put on a leash."

They all laughed.

"Look," Naruto said jerking his head towards the door. "I'll be running but I'll see you ok? Thanks for the info, I understand better now- but you tell big red he has a fist coming to him, you hear me? And Kiba, take care of business alright? Get up to speed with Shikamaru and Haku. I need you at the summit on Wednesday."

Kiba saluted and Naruto ducked out the door.


"What do you want from me?" Shikamaru asked flatly from the darkness, the only point of light in the room was the coal red of his lit cigarette.

Neji moved forward very carefully in the blackness.

"There is no way you can misunderstand me Shikamaru…I'm attracted to you. I'm attracted…to your mind."

Neji had, in the course of a few days, decided that the best way to approach this boy was just honesty. Shikamaru didn't strike him as the type to enjoy coy games even though he was more than stunningly brilliant enough to play them well.

"No one is attracted to my mind. Even I'm not attracted to my mind."

There was silence for a very long while and Neji's strong eyesight adjusted quickly enough to make out the youth's figure to the left of him curled up in a couch and hugging his knees. Moving softly he came to stand before the other, shivering a bit into his light beige jacket.

"May I."

"Can you?"

The model worthy lawyer lowered himself to sit beside the other and offered a small smile. Shikamaru's trademark hoodie was missing and his hair was down around is face, falling in beautiful curls to his sharp collarbones. Neji sucked in a breath as those shadowed eyes regarded him.

"Shikamaru," he breathed, "I want you…and I know you're in a lot of pain. Why?"

Neji didn't flinched when the other did but sat quietly as the young male, whose shirt was slipping off one of his shoulders, considered for a while, searching Neji's face with piercing, and fearful eyes.

"…I was in love, once." He started, long fingers moving up to remove the burnt out cigarette and crushing the nub to add it to an already overflowing crystal ashtray.

"With a teacher of mine. Completely besotted…head over heels like a fourteen year old girl for the kendo team captain. He was an amazing guy…the only one who could keep up with my brain. When I was younger I used to scare myself sick with the speed and force of my own thoughts…he calmed me…taught me chess and Go. He did what my parents, much as they loved me, couldn't. He helped me…helped me understand myself, helped me control my mind, taught me meditation…got me drugs to sleep."

Neji felt his throat close a bit. He had an awful felling this story had a bad ending.

"But he never once returned my feelings, even though he knew they were there. He wouldn't…he couldn't. Too much honour to fuck a desperate sixteen year old….too much respect. His nobility made me hate him."

There was silence for a bit but Neji had to ask. "What else?"

There was a shrug. "One day, coming back late from a tutoring session with me, he got mugged, shot and left on the street corner for dead. A police officer on the next block got to him… called an ambulance…she saved his life….

… Last I heard they're in love. Married man now, living the life of a college professor with a house in the suburbs and the white picket fence. She's pregnant. Her name is Kurenai, I think. His name…is Asuma Sarutobi."

Neji swallowed hard. Christ. This boy got hurt so young. Shikamaru must have been seventeen when he'd gotten his heart shattered. Hell, Neji would have had problems too if that had happened to him.

The brunet breathed out, his high ponytail swaying as he leaned forward and placed a hand on Shika's smooth, hollowed cheek.

"The insomnia came back…the fear came back…everything came back and they never left. I can't sleep sometimes for days. I twitch, and I can't drink regular coffee. I'm a mess- only good for my brain. I don't like people and I don't associate with them. No parties, no life, no nothing."

A beat.

"I have a cat though, her name is Delilah."

Neji came closer, his being twisting in hurt and sympathy. "Delilah? The most traitorous woman in the Bible?"

Shikamaru shrugged listlessly.

"I figure it's only a matter of time before she leaves me too…just like my mind did…just like everything else."

Neji had the boy in his arms by now and the two were talking in whispers.

"Answer me honestly Shikamaru…what is your IQ score?"

"Honestly…two hundred and seventy five."

The Hyuuga nearly had a heart attack. "You…you score higher than the estimates for Albert Einstein."


"…Shika, believe me, I understand now. I can't know what that pain could feel like…but I do know the pain of loss…and I do know that I want you, and I can't promise not to hurt you but I can do everything in my power to try not to."

In answer, a slender hand reached out an up towards a light dimmer on the wall beside them. Slowly, the room filled with enough soft golden light until the shimmering haze illuminated the room and Neji, for the first time, got a good, solid look at Shikamaru's face.

Dear lord the boy was beautiful, even with his face set in its haunted cast. His nose was patrician and his heavy brows were as mahogany brown as his hair. His skin was as pale as moonlight and the long neck and protruding Adam's apple curved down to a bare clavicle and a thin but well-formed shoulder.

"Neji," Shikamaru warned lowly, tone flat. "If you hurt me there will be nothing left. Do not hurt me Neji. Do not."

The Hyuuga wrapped his arms fully around the other. "I will try my best."

Shikamaru pushed forward until he was centimetres away from the other.

"Oh and Neji…I don't bottom."

"That's okay." The lawyer whispered, nerves trembling as he leaned back into the couch, his fingers burying themselves into Shikamaru's hair and pulling him down on top of him. His lips were brushing Shikamaru's chapped ones now.

"I don't top."


After he had seen the last of Naruto's back Sasuke reached into his vest pocket, pressed a number on hi speed dial and prepared himself. The second Fugaku answered the phone Sasuke started.

"Don't talk daddy…just listen."

Silence but both the soft intake of breath.

"I love you…know that…. but you've done something to me that I can't forgive. I've just spoken with Naruto dad…I mean really spoken with him, for the first time in a very long while, and dad…I'm disappointed in you. I respect you, I love you and I'll take your advice. But not blindly anymore. You manipulated me dad, you manipulated my marriage and you made me fall into a pit I was stupidly creating for myself without so much as a warning."

Sasuke took a deep breath, his Adams apple trembling.

"I love you for looking out for me daddy…but I don't like you right now. Please don't contact me until I come looking for you. You shouldn't have cast your own self-hatred on Naruto dad. You shouldn't have. That's it. That's all I have to say."


"You're back." Sasuke blinked at Suigetsu.

"Yes," the blond male smiled, his eyes curving at the edges. "Video game conventions ended a bit early this year.'"

Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Video game con? I can only imagine the insanity. What, did you go dressed up as someone from Grand Theft Auto?"

"Actually Sir no, I went as one of the zombies from Mission to Mars. The fake blood and innards were a work of art- I have pictures if you want to see!"

"No thanks," Sasuke denied. "I'd like to keep my sanity, thanks. Met any hot girls?"

"No." Suigetsu replied mildly as he took Sasuke's coat.

"But there was this woman who made a really amazing Chewbacca and had a rack the size of a small r-"

Sasuke held up a desperate hand. "My sanity Suigetsu, my precious sanity."

The other smirked.


"…remember that Chewbacca I was telling you about? Well she introduced me to this exotic meat butchery and I decided to try it."

"…I'm eating roast giraffe for dinner, aren't I?"

Suigetsu shook his head aghast. "Oh god no, not giraffes! I've watched Lion King too, you know... But the flamingo I found is simmering rather nicely in the pineapple sauce."

Sasuke blinked.

"You're having me on."

"Am I Sir?" the butler said mildly ambling out to the kitchen. "Am I?"


The summit began right on time and smoothly for once in Sasuke's life.

The presentations were flawless, for once his finance department had some kind of handle on their data presentation and the human resource department was reporting some noticeable growth in worker productivity and output.

By the end of the first four hours Sasuke was feeling like his life had not been completely wasted. When it came for his first address Sasuke spieled off the usual platitudes before getting down to business.

"Upon further consideration of the proposal made by Orochimaru-san, I'm taking an administrative decision."

Naruto coughed and Sasuke rolled his eyes. "We...we are taking an administrative decision. Regardless of the possible revenue explosion we have identified certain phenomena associated with the shipping company that would be both libelous and a liability to our corporation at this time.

Consider these factors the proposed bi-lateral investment agreement with MandaCorp is now formally rendered void. And no, I'm not taking any questions."

Shocked and suspicious eyes were being cast around the room for a bit and one stupid twat from over in Documentations opened his mouth for a second before remembering that Sasuke might forcibly put his foot inside it, before settling back into his seat.

Naruto's smile was barely hidden behind his large hand.

Sasuke smiled brilliantly. "Moving on...So about this expansion into Taiwan…"


The Sarutobi's lived out into the country, a fifty minute drive from the town proper and was located on a soft gradient of a roiling grassland property that was about fifty something acres of Sakura and Japanese peach orchard. Unlike the Uchiha's property which was traditional Japanese mixed with French elements, the Sarutobi mansion passed down to Asuma from his aging father Sandaime, was strict Victorian design, with gothic towering that somehow didn't look too intimidating in the afternoon light.

Sasuke parked the sleek black vehicle in the roundabout and handed the keys to the valet, making sure that the ends of his traditional black and red garb didn't get caught in the doors.

The outfit he was wearing was simply designed but worth a fortune, crafted from handspun silk dyed blacker than the abyss and carefully stitched with dark red embroidery along the left sleeve in an intricate pattern of bloody looking koi and a repeated fan motif.

The obi was black as well with the red stitching more thick on the edges and a magnificent ying-yang symbol made by even larger red koi. The thing had cost a fortune and Sasuke didn't dare breathe on it sometimes. But it made him look like a vision from the bakumatsu and a true inheritor of his warrior name.

The home was beautiful and having been received by the head of staff he was led out into the main back garden where proceedings were.

It was a riot of amazing colour and culture out here. People from all strata were milling about, sipping sparkling rose wines and dressed in some of the most elegant and intricate Japanese finery. The women wore light, beautiful summer kimonos with magnificently tied obis of shimmering gold, rose and green. The hair ornaments were made of coral combs and golden chopstick shaped hairpins with long dangling charms and reams silken ribbons. The men stood austere in darker kimonos with bright sashes embroidered with Japanese proverbs or the clan emblem. Some had even gone so far as to don traditional samurai armor and were armed with ceremonial wakizashi and the longer katana at their sides.

It was magnificent.

"Uchiha-san," a heavily pregnant and red eyed Kurenai swept over to him to clasp his hands. "Your mother told me to expect you."

Sasuke bowed, "And to stuff me full with food as well, I'd imagine."

Kurenai smirked. "That too. You look like shard of glass."

"And you look resplendent in your condition. Congratulations. I hope to god the baby doesn't take after Asuma. A new-born with facial hair is not something I'm hoping for."

Kurenai snorted rather unladylike. "Help yourself, mingle, mooch- have fun. The orchard walk begins soon."

In all honestly, Sasuke really did enjoy himself. The gathering was amazing, the people were smart and sarcastic and the garden was gorgeous in it sable hues of brown, rich verdant, stunning pinks and whites and…

…brilliant, retina melting orange.


Sasuke felt like slapping himself in exasperation. Naruto had shown up to completely rape everyone's attention in a brilliant orange kimono, with a dark blue obi embroidered with swirls of golden thread and a blindingly white overcoat with roaring flames on the hems and the most enormous, painfully detailed embroidery of a fearsome nine tailed fox spirit blazoned across the back and right shoulder.

All that in addition to his tan skin, sunlight hair and loud mouth made the Uzumaki the blazing sun in a sea of pink and green calm.

"He's…quite a strike to the eye…isn't he?" Sasuke turned to find Asuma standing behind him, the big burly professors large hands shoved casually into his simple brown outfit.

"Like a thunderbolt to the brain. How are you Sarutobi? Still a pack a day man?"

The man scratched his scruff jaw. "I can't even look at a cigarette now. The baby you know. I fell like gnawing my own arm off most days."

Sasuke just shook his head. They stood in silence for a bit, the young Uchiha nodding to a few colleagues but finding his eyes always drawn to the blazing ball of blond and blue eyes in the centre of the gathering who was sending people into hysterics with some tall tale or other.

The sun was striking down on his just right and Sasuke swallowed hard. God.

Dear God.

"You'll never forget, you know."

The paler male turned a black eye on a suddenly grave looking Asuma.

"You'll never forget." He restated simply. A beat passed before the older man managed a wry smile.

"Kuri is calling for me. Next time you come around sneak in a pack of menthols, would you?"

Sasuke saluted as Asuma stepped of the small patio and towards his tiring wife, pausing for a bit to call back a low message before continuing on.

"Oh and Uchiha…next time you run into Shikamaru…tell him 'hello' for me?"

Confused for a bit Sasuke just blinked in slight shock, but confined the message to memory anyway


"You got roped into this too, huh?" An amused voice chimed in.

Sasuke opened his eyes and looked up from his small nest on a flat marble stone under an old grand white chery tree that was so laden with flowers that its wizened branches hung to the grassy ground.

Naruto stood before him; his hands folded into the overlarge sleeves of his orange kimono and a small half smirk on his face.

For a moment they just looked at each other before Naruto slowly held out a hand and offered Sasuke assistance in standing. There was a time when the Uchiha would have brushed the gift off with a sneer but now…not…something had shifted. Something…poignant.

Sasuke took that offered hand, and clasped it.

It was warm.

They were standing closer now and Sasuke had a nervous fluttering urge in his belly.

"In what blind seamstress's closet did you did that neon crime up."

Naruto sniffed. "Christian Dior's"

"Please, Dior doesn't so traditional Japanese. I've checked."

"He does for a good few thousand euros and a three day stay in Alps."

"Corruption." Sasuke sniped, lips pursed.

"Innovation," Naruto kindly corrected, turning to walk down a path.

"It's because you're blond." Sasuke muttered ungraciously.

"Lesson to be learned, little descendant- blonds get away with everything." A humorous older voice interjected from the ether.

Madara Uchiha seemed to materialize out of nowhere, his long black, silver shot hair falling to his sternum and his dark eyes glimmering with mischief. He was dressed in a forest green outfit with a dark brown sash and his hands were clasped behind him.

Standing to his immediate right was one of Sasuke's favourite persons in his family aside from his brother. Great Uncle Tobi stood beside his older twin, his outfit flip image of his brothers and was dark brown with a green sash.

Tobi's hair was shorter, cut closer to the sides, but had more shining silver than Madara did. He was shorter too and his eyes were softer and more clam that Madara's slyly cornered ones. All these considered, it was something else that made Tobi even dearer to the whole clan…he had never been born as intellectually quick as the rest of them and had matured at a much later age than his brother. Madara had always taken care of his challenged brother, keeping him by his side throughout their whole lives.

Sasuke had played blocks with his older uncle who had always remained a silly child at heart. He had been the dearest thing to the youn five year old Uchiha and even now the man's value had done nothing but increase in Sasuke's eyes.

"Uncle Tobi." He breathed, placing himself into the old man's arms. "I haven't seen you in so long, I'm so sorry."

Tobi smiled and patted his head, producing a stick of candy from his sleeve and offering it over.

Madara chuckled. "No matter how much I search him he stores those somewhere. Clever little brat."

Tobi winked. "You're just not looking hard enough old man."

"Speaking of old." Madara perked up, "How are you blondie? My, you've finally hit a growth spurt."

"I've got you beat by four inches easy."

"Not where it counts sonny, not where it counts." Madara smirked while pumping Naruto's hands.

"Finally got your head out of your ass and came back for our Sasuke have you."

Flaming red shot up both the younger males' faces and stuttering began to spew from clumsy lips and were accompanied by frantically waving arms of denial. Madara just snorted.

"I would have been here earlier but I was speaking to a rather irate Fugaku. My, you've done a number on him today haven't you little one?"

Sasuke sobered and stepped a bit closer to Naruto, looking at him for a deep second before sighing.

"He did something very wrong Uncle…I had to speak my mind."

Shrewd eyes regarded him before the oldest patriarch nodded. "The party's winding down. We should go…and sonny boys, I have a box of condoms in the bently if you'd like a few before you leave."

Sasuke desperately wanted to drown himself.


"If I ever get suckered into that again I want you to punch me in the face." Sasuke muttered as he let himself into his home with Naruto padding softly behind him.

The blond had decided to follow him home for a night cap and a bit of late shop talk. Naruto cracked his stiff muscles before beginning to undo all the layers of his outfit. By the time he was down to his undershirt and his hakama Sasuke had ducked into the bathroom and removed his own.

Padding back downstairs he caught a glimpse of the clock: nine fifteen pm. Not too late that he was dog tired but late enough that he was craving comfortable clothes and a movie.

Returning to his room he pawned a pair of his largest sweats and came back to offer them to the other.

"Here, borrow these. Those pants must be an ass."

Grateful the other, quite unthinkingly, pulled off his hakama, baring his toned golden legs and tight black boxerbriefs to the world. Sasuke coughed and turned around.

"Heheh..sorry. Habit."

The young Uchiha coughed awkwardly. He really didn't like the stirrings in his belly that had suddenly flared up at his brief look at all that…bulge.

"How about a movie?" Sasuke suggested, meandering into the kitchen to get some snacks.

"Okay," Naruto shrugged, picking up the remote from the coffee table and flipping the LG ginormo-screen on before accessing the pay-per-view channels…how about Salt."

Sasuke wrinkled his nose as he dug out the granola bars.

"Ok then..er…how about a rerun of The Tourist?"

Sasuke paused…well…it had Johnny Depp in it….

"Fast 5?"

Sasuke closed the fridge. "Done." Bringing the stuff back into the living room, both men wearily settled on the couch with Sasuke appropriating cushions and throws from other chairs.

"Johnny Depp is the incarnation of Dionysus but Vin Diesel and cars is…well…"

"Yeah." Naruto sighed as the movie started. "That charger makes me think things."

The room was cool and dark and the movie was absolutely, completely amazing. By the time the credits were rolling on the screen Sasuke was pleasantly bushed and Naruto was a heavy snorting weight on his shoulder.

The clock read twelve fifteen am and Sasuke's soul was quiet.

He felt absolutely no urge to move, even though he knew he should. He felt an even greater aversion to waking the blond up even though he was damned sure he should. In the darkness and the silence with the soft blue glow of the tv casting an ethereal light over the both of them, Sasuke felt an old anger slither away through the cracks in the floorboards of his consciousness.

Softly extracting himself from the mass, Sasuke carefully replaced his person with a stack of pillows and a few blankets. Naruto promptly burrowed into the squishy couch and stuck his thumb into his mouth- a habit which had used to drive Sasuke virtually insane.

Another beat of silence passed before Sasuke shook his head, called himself a moron and left the room.

"Good night, baka…don't piss on my couch, you big baby."


The street was as empty as a sepulcher when the silent shadow slipped from the shadow of an oak and into the waiting hybrid sitting idle in front of him

Pulling open his cell phone he pressed in a number he had memorized by heart.

"Hey, Ukon, call that Kabuto guy back and get the presses ready for a coming apocalypse. ….Man, do I have a story for you."



A/N: Well…long new chappie for you. Clearly, things are heating up. Oh, and just lemme say: Tobi, I love you so dearly. –hugs my fictional character-

A/N2: Translations:

"Oye! Cabron- que lo que, man? Que pasa, puto? Hace tiempo, chacho!"

-Okay, this, this is just straight Panamanian and Puerto Rican slang with quite a few nasty curse words thrown in there. 'que lo que' is technically supposed to be 'qual es lo que pasa', which is another way of saying 'que pasa?' which is 'What's up."

'Cábron' is bastard , motherfucker….goat –dies laughing- It's a term of endearment even though its more native to Mexico.

'Puto' is, er, cunt or bitch.

"Chacho" is the shortened form of 'muchacho' which is like 'dude'.