Set Free

Ok so this is my newest sasunaru story. As stated in the preview, this is prewritten because I have a horrible tendency to start stories and not finish them. If you were waiting on some of my old stuff – just check my profile about that.

If you are offended by: swearing, guy on guy, underage drinking and smoking, drugs, angst…then this might not be the story for you. I promise, I will try and take Naruto down any chapter I can! He will suffer! Also, this story is very Naruto-centric. There will be sasunaru, but it will be here on it's own time!

Chapter One: I've Been Gone

Sasuke parked near the back fence of the parking lot at the back of his school and got out of his car, eyes locked with Naruto's blue ones.

Naruto stood on the other side of the fence, two of their classmates with him, leaning against the brick wall of the alleyway that led up to the chain-link fence and emptied out toward the street at the furthest end.

He glared heatedly at Sasuke who glared right back. It was their fucked up and weird way of acknowledging each other. Anyone who cared enough to look might see that there was something off about the way they interacted – it was almost intimate when they did. Sasuke didn't really know how else to explain it.

A car pulled quickly into the alley and Naruto broke his gaze away hesitantly as the passenger exited the car. The trunk was popped and Sasuke vaguely heard 'You little fuckers know what to do.'

The inhabitants of the alley shot a quickly glance around before heading for the trunk, Naruto somewhat reluctantly. Sasuke knew what he was doing. Naruto was picking up drugs – probably to sell while at school.

Sasuke shook his head as he laughed dryly, leaning against the side of his car as he pulled out his phone and tapped incredulously at it; stupid, stupid Naruto.

The fence jingled as his three classmates climbed over it, landing deftly on school property as the car pulled away and disappeared with a shrill peel out.

Sasuke leaned back further against his car, arms crossing over his chest as he finished with his phone and eyes once again locked with Naruto's.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" the blonde inquired easily as he slowed to a stop in front of him. Naruto hated that he had to look up just to look Sasuke in the eye. He wasn't that much taller, but still; Sasuke wasn't all that tall himself – and Naruto was still shorter than him.

"Naruto, come on, we can't fuck around," his red haired companion reminded in an urgent voice.

Naruto didn't move – not yet anyway. His eyes were cold and somehow imploring as if silently asking Sasuke how everything was, if he was doing ok. Sasuke's eyes shifted down to the blonde's cheek and he examined the dark bruise running across his jawline. He reached out to touch it, eyes filled with unease, but Naruto quickly slapped his hand away as he pulled away and shut off before his eyes.

"Fuck off Sasuke."

Sasuke watched him leave but he resisted the urge to follow.


"Come on, two for nine. I'll get back at you next time."

Blue eyes gazed unimpressed at the person before him and he shifted his gaze away in irritation.

"I can't front you anything – not even a dollar. Ten."

The teen hesitated a moment longer and Naruto turned to leave. He didn't have time for this shit.


Naruto turned and gazed expectantly.

They didn't really need to exchange any further words. A five dollar bill was handed to him and just as quickly, a small rock wrapped in a square of plastic and twisted shut at the top was handed back and the two parted ways without so much as a second glance.

The school bell rang for the end of the day and Naruto glanced up at the ceiling of the hallway he was in, eyebrows furrowed as he stared heatedly up at the bell he was standing under. It left his ears ringing and he hated thinking about how long it might last; did it need to be that loud, really?

Plus, he was in a bad mood ever since this morning and his irritation was only growing as the day progressed toward boiling point.


He turned in time to see a brunette with long hair approach him quickly, eyes inquisitive.

"Hey, Haku–"

"You should have given that guy two for nine. You could spare that definitely; and then it looks like you sold more."

"No way!" Naruto disagreed easily as he shot a quick glance over his shoulder, "I bet he's already on his way to smoke that, find more money, and be right back for more. Heh," there was a bitter edge to his voice and Haku wondered if he was angry about something, "Plus, after you start selling twenty rocks, they're getting a deal. Sell a lot, make a lot. I break down almost every rock worth more than ten that Kyuubi gives me. And stop selling to your friends. They always want a deal."

Haku shot him an ironic and unamused stare and Naruto smiled back innocently and there was still that subtle anger he was trying to hide.

"Like when you purchase weed from me," the brunette clarified in an unenthusiastic tone.

"No, you are selling to your best friend which is far worse than selling to your friend," Naruto teased as the brunette fell into step with him while they headed for the back exit to the school.

"I should just get rid of him; I'd have more money," Haku shot back with a smirk, earning a soft laugh from the blonde at his side.

"Hah! I'd like to see you try!" Naruto challenged with a competitive acidity to his tone before he furrowed his eyebrows slightly as he was overwhelmed by something else completely, "I'm so pissed about this morning."

Ah, so that's what that gritty edge to his posture was about; Haku wasn't too thrilled about this morning either.

They wasted most of their walk with similarly as meaningless banter before finding themselves on the sidewalk outside the back of the school where almost no one got picked up and Haku's eyes shifted up the road at the sound of a loud and expensive engine.

"Zabuza," he pointed out in a low tone while Naruto's gaze shifted up to confirm.

Naruto didn't reply by any verbal or recognizably physical means and Haku wasn't expecting him to because the car was pulling up in front of them and it was better not to talk when they didn't need to around certain people.

The drive was silent. Zabuza was Haku's…guardian, in a sense of the term. Naruto preferred not to talk unless spoken to in front of him – the same principle applied to his mother's boyfriend, Kyuubi.

He wasn't scared of them: not nearly. He wasn't intimidated, he had zero respect for either of them, and their lifestyle definitely didn't impress him; not to mention he was the last person to bow down to terrorism. But he just held his tongue because he knew it'd pay off when the time came and the time was coming.

Of course none of this applied when he was angry like he was now. He could yell at his mom's boyfriend for weeks on end if given the opportunity. The loathing he felt for that man was out of this world.

They arrived at a rundown apartment complex and Naruto exited the car without a word as he headed for the hallway of doors, the two remaining inhabitants of the car exiting and following suit.

He approached the door, features already twisting with anger – he knew the person he was looking for would be home, at his home.

He slammed his fist against the door leading to his apartment until he heard the thick locks unlicking one by one.

"What the fuck?" he yelled as he pushed through the door roughly the second it was cracked open, eyes finding the tall, red haired man in the corner of his kitchen instantly as he took his backpack off, slamming it on the kitchen table, "Why the fuck would you schedule the drop off at my school? Are you out of your mind?" he screamed as he approached the man boldly, earning wary gazes from the other occupants of the apartment, "It could have waited until now!"

The man smirked before approaching the blonde slowly.

"It could have," he agreed easily before grabbing the blonde by the front of his shirt and roughly shoving him up against the wall, "But I'll bet you made three or four hundred between that time and now."

Naruto choked on the air forced from his lungs and he shoved the man off him roughly.

"Four-fifty so fuck off!" he choked out as he threw the wad of cash at the redhead before exiting the kitchen for the master bedroom where his mother would be.

Haku watched him go with incredulous eyes. His audacity always startled and baffled him. He'd never even think about speaking to Zabuza the way Naruto spoke to Kyuubi and Kyuubi was far more powerful and far more terrifying than Zabuza.

"Haku, your money," Zabuza asked almost gently as he looked down on the boy.

But before he could respond, Naruto's voice cut through as he made his way back into the kitchen, eyebrows furrowed and voice angry.

"Where's my mom you fucker?" he yelled as he rounded the corner, one hand gripping the molding around the entryway and glaring heatedly at Kyuubi.

A gun was pulled and Naruto stared down the barrel of it impassively, eyes unimpressed and stance as confident and unwavering as ever.

There was a very short moment of silence and Haku quickly handed his money over to the tall man before him.

"Right, because I actually believe you'll shoot me," Naruto began in a sarcastic tone, "Where is she?" he screamed as he slammed his fist against the kitchen entry way he stood under.

She shouldn't be working. He sold way more than he was supposed to and he felt frustrated and upset for his mom.

Kyuubi pulled back on the safety with a click and Naruto beckoned him to pull the trigger.

"Do it! I dare you!"

His palm smacked against the wall in emphasis when he said it and Kyuubi shifted until the gun was pointed at Haku and Naruto froze, features sobering promptly; just as quickly, Zabuza pulled his own weapon while simultaneously pulling back on the safety and pointing it toward Naruto, eyes steadfast on the red haired man across the room from him.

Naruto didn't move. Kyuubi wouldn't shoot him – but Zabuza…Zabuza might. He really was unsure about that person despite Haku's consistent reassurances in his character.

The stalemate hung for a long moment and every eye rested on Kyuubi who smirked softly.

He pulled back until his gun was pointed toward the ceiling lazily and he re-latched the safety, Zabuza following suit immediately. Naruto shot Zabuza an odd look because his reaction almost seemed protective now that he thought about it and he wasn't staring down the barrel of a loaded gun; and by the amusement pouring over Kyuubi's features and Zabuza's radiating irritation, he had a very good feeling that Kyuubi had been reminding himself to take advantage of the soonest opportunity to test a foggy theory.

"Your mom is at the methadone clinic, go wait in your room like the good little shithead you are," Kyuubi suggested assertively, tone dangerous and daring him to disobey.

"Come on, Haku," Naruto beckoned as he glared heatedly at Kyuubi.

Haku glanced up at Zabuza who motioned for him to leave and Haku swiftly followed, eyes remaining submissively on the floor as they disappeared down the hall into Naruto's bedroom.

Naruto's bedroom felt like another place entirely from the rest of the apartment. It was far from pretty enough for a spread in a magazine, but it was clean and intellectual and Haku felt his anxiety ease just slightly from the comfort of it. He had a single mattress lying on the floor and a bookcase resting against the same wall as the door sectioned off into two rows of three, square units that Naruto had half filled with old school books and binders.

And that was just about it, but this room was the closest thing to safe for them and it was enough.

Naruto grabbed the pack of cigarettes sitting on his nightstand, still unable to believe he'd left them there all day next to his house key and that neither was missing. He sat on the edge of his bed, pulling a cigarette out quickly and lighting the end with a lighter from his pocket.

He took one, long drag as he laid back on his bed but just as soon as he did, his phone started beeping softly and he groaned in exhaustion as he let the smoke escape his lips.

"I have to go to work," he remembered as he sat back up and pulled out his phone, silencing the alarm before reaching over and pulling open the drawer to his dresser and fishing out his work uniform.

Haku's eyes watched him with a tinge of regret and Naruto paused momentarily to gaze at him for it.

"Do you want to come with me?"

He nodded softly as Naruto set down his cigarette in the ashtray on the bedside table in order to pull off his shirt from school and pull on his black work shirt, the word Ichiraku spelled across the back.

"Ok, let's get going," he beckoned as he grabbed his house key off the table and slipped it into his pocket before grabbing the cigarette off the edge of the tray and slipping it back between his lips as he checked his phone to confirm the time before slipping that and his cigarettes into his pockets and heading for the door.

"Where the fuck are you two skipping off to?" Kyuubi asked as they headed for the front door. Naruto grabbed the cigarette between his lips by his middle and pointer finger and scowled heatedly at the red haired man as he removed it and let the smoke in his lungs out in a quick breath through his lips.

"It's none of your business but someone has to pay the bills!"

"Well who the fuck do you think is going to weigh out and bag the new shipment?" Kyuubi asked coyly as he gestured toward the separate piles of packaged, white bricks of drugs. Naruto glared at him, unimpressed for a short moment before replying.

"I'm sure you cokeheads will figure something out."

With that he turned and unlocked the three heavy deadbolts across the length of the door just above the doorknob with a practiced finesse before throwing it open and disappearing into the hallway outside. Haku turned and gazed at Zabuza timidly.

"I promise I'll do better," he breathed before turning and leaving after the blonde.

The city was always cold here and Haku shivered as he glanced up toward the concrete buildings lining the paved streets as he caught up to Naruto swiftly. It was always cold and always gray. There wasn't a patch of grass on this entire block.

Their walk was mostly quiet and Naruto looked preoccupied so Haku resisted breaking the silence.

So it was surprising when Naruto spoke first.

"Haku, don't sell while I'm at work."

The brunette gazed over inquiringly at the blonde next to him, eyebrows furrowed gently.

"Why?" he asked softly, features twisting in confusion.

"It's shady there, Haku, just–" he paused for a moment, tone slightly frustrated, "Just give me what you have left."

Haku glanced away and Naruto looked over, eyebrows furrowed in something close to pity. Haku hated dealing; it was so difficult for him – he shot Naruto an apologetic look before handing over what he still had.

"Haku, ya know, Juugo's working tonight too so you can keep him company at the bar."

"Naruto, I'm sorry I always make you work twice as hard," Haku apologized in a small voice, his eyes steadfast on the cracked pavement beneath their feet, "You don't have to try and cheer me up. I know I'm horrible at this."

"Well I'm not trying to cheer you up, I'm definitely cheering you up and don't worry about it so much ok? We're a team. You help me out in a lot of ways too."

He smiled warmly at Haku and Haku could only stare back. He didn't know how Naruto was able to put up such a strong front. It was so surreal to him.

When they arrived at the small twenty-four hour diner at the next intersection, Haku sat down at his usual seat at a secluded end of the bar and a tall, orange haired teen turned, eyes lighting up instantly at the timid presence suddenly before him.

"Hey Haku!" he greeted gently with a soft smile.

"Hey Juugo," Haku returned with a shy smile of his own as he watched Naruto grab an apron off the hook near the sink and sling it across the back of his neck, tying the strings across his back.

He laced his fingers together before stretching his arms out before him and taking a deep, steadying breath. His eyes slipped shut as he let the air in his lungs out slowly, lips forming soft words that never really left his mouth. Haku's features sobered as he watched the blonde mentally egg himself on. Haku was positive Naruto thought no one noticed when he was losing it because he reigned it in with subtlety, but Haku was always observant enough to tell when he was close to breaking point.

He knew Naruto was giving himself that same pep talk that kept him going for years now. There was little Haku wouldn't do just to know what kept motivating him forward – he wondered what types of word combinations were possible to keep the blonde so visibly sane because everything he kept telling himself must have been substandard in comparison; Haku's internal pep talks were rarely even close to as effective and he'd mostly given up on them.

The night consisted of Haku submissively chatting with Juugo as he watched Naruto speed through the stacks of dishes lining the table next to the sink. Every so often Naruto would pause and dry his hand on the front of his apron before reaching for his phone and exiting the building through the back door leading to the dark alley along the back side of the restaurant and Haku would hold his breath while he waited, because every sale was a risk and there was always a chance they could be jumped – it happened a lot. But the door consistently swung open only moments after he would exit and Naruto would return to his dishes.

He was selling – a lot – and Haku felt so useless just sitting here at the bar and doing nothing.

By nine he was solely focusing on the dishes and only stopped to respond to imploring texts about needing a fix before finally making his way toward Haku and handing him the phone.

"Will you respond when these guys hit me up? I need to focus on knocking out the rest of these dishes. If someone texts me for a sack, just hold down this button," he explained as he showed Haku which button by pressing it, "And then select Paste Copied Text and then Send."

Haku smiled up at him and nodded reassuringly as he grabbed the phone off the counter and slipped it in his pocket.

"Thanks Haku!"

His tone made Haku's chest ache because he sounded so genuinely grateful – as if Haku were doing him a favor when it was so wholly the other way around.

Naruto turned and headed back for his dishes and the phone in Haku's pocket vibrated and he pulled it out with a hint of an ironic smile; he should have known to just keep it out.

He opened the unread message and his eyebrows furrowed as he read through it.

Hey dobe, sorry for the late reply. My phone died and I only just got home. Two months? Two months until what? What are you trying to do? Just give it up and come home, Naruto, please.

He felt guilty for it, but his curiosity overpowered his better judgment and he scrolled up to read the conversation from the beginning.

The oldest text was from this morning and it was from a person Naruto labeled 'Teme'.

You fucking idiot, I cannot believe how stupid you are.

Haku glanced at the time of the text and noticed it was received just after their pick up this morning. Someone had seen – he wondered if he needed to be worried. His features shifted toward incredulous and he read what Naruto typed in reply.

Shut the fuck up fuck off seriously fuck off I hate you.

If Haku thought the conversation couldn't throw him for another loop, he was fatally mistaken and he clenched his jaw before forcing his features calm once more.

Mom's worried sick, stop fucking around with that shit Naruto seriously.

There was a gap of several minutes between that text and the next and Haku felt his features slip slightly at the words typed next.

Tell Mimi rest easy. Everything's falling right into place.

What was Naruto talking about? Who was this person? Did Naruto have a sibling? This conversation made it seem that way but Haku had never met any person who might be mistakable as a brother or sister. Plus, he'd never heard Naruto call his mom Mimi.

At how steep a price Naruto?

Haku was instantly drawn toward the idea of this person. How did he or she know what Naruto was doing? He glanced up from the phone, eyes landing on his blonde companion's back. Naruto had always had secrets and kept them well, but Haku didn't know Naruto had secrets from him.

He shouldn't have been surprised though. Naruto was always juggling the weight of the world in privacy. He never let anyone help.

Don't ask me something like that, asshole. And quit spying on me.

How can I spy when you're doing it right there for the whole world to see?

Were you under the impression that I was thrilled about that? Because I'm as pissed as you are. Just give me two months and I'll have all this figured out.

That was the last thing Naruto sent and Haku glanced up hesitantly to stare at him once again. What was in two months that Naruto was planning to have finished?

The phone vibrated on the counter with a loud sound that shook him from his reverie and he glanced down at the unread message.

This one was one he had been expecting – it was drug related. He quickly pasted the text as Naruto instructed and sent the reply.

Out, restock seven AM.

Fifteen minutes and four texts later, Naruto appeared before him and he jumped slightly when his voice floated over him.

"Wanna go see Gaara when I'm off? Geeze, I'm sorry–!" he apologized quickly when Haku covered his chest with a shaking hand, "I didn't mean to startle you."

"No it's ok," Haku assured timidly before glancing up, meeting Naruto's inquiring gaze. He knew he probably looked somewhat suspicious so Haku changed the subject, "I want to see Gaara."

"Me too," the blonde mumbled as he grabbed the phone off the counter, composing a text quickly. Haku felt his pulse beat quickly and he worried that Naruto would notice that he'd read the text message from that Teme person, "I'm off at eleven."

But he handed it back and turned, heading back toward the sink of dishes at the back and Haku let the breath in his lungs out slowly. His eyes shifted back toward the phone and he contemplated what to do.

He could very easily tell Naruto the truth – he hadn't been spying really; it was his job to respond to the texts he received while on the clock.

But it wasn't his job to browse through old, personal messages and he had a vague idea that Naruto would inquire if Haku had resolved to temptation and explored a little after reading it. It was a suspicious text and he knew he'd never get away with lying about it. The voice in his head was already stuttering over excuses that sounded horribly un-buyable; he'd never be able to convincingly deliver any of them.

So on an impulse of insecurity, he deleted the message and returned to the home page, relief and guilt twisting at the pit of his stomach to form an odd sort of unease. He wasn't sure he'd made the right choice but then again, his life consisted of that same vague idea multiple times daily. He was far too used to it to let it bother him for long.

When eleven arrived, Naruto pulled the plug to the sink filled with soapy water and untied his apron before slinging it back onto the hook it rested on when he wasn't wearing it.

"Haku, let's ditch!" he called as he made his way toward the area where the bar parted and he was able to exit the kitchen into the lobby where Juugo still stood at the bar.

"Juugo? You still working?" he asked when he realized he'd been there before they got here and he didn't look ready to leave.

"I'm pulling a double to cover Suigetsu."


"He's sick."

"He's just lazy," Naruto accused with a smirk before turning and leaving Haku alone at the bar as he headed for the door.

"Bye Juugo," the brunette offered shyly before sliding off the barstool and following after Naruto as he headed through the diner exit.

"Later, Haku, bye Naruto!"

Naruto waved over his shoulder as he pushed the glass door open, the crisp, night air biting at the exposed skin across his face and hands. It didn't help that his shirt was still damp from doing dishes for seven and a half hours.

"It's cold tonight!" Naruto exclaimed as they hurried down the block toward Gaara's apartment complex, "I should have made Gaara come pick us up," he joked with a smile as they crossed the street, quickly entering the rundown building at the corner of the intersection.

"He would have done it if you asked. I think Gaara takes everything a little seriously," Haku added with a hint of something that sounded unsure.

Naruto glanced over at him as they climbed the stairwell to the third story, footfall echoing back around them.

"You're probably right," he breathed as his lips curved up in mirth.

They arrived at the third story landing and made their way toward the second door on the left, knocking softly when they arrived just before it.

Their red haired companion opened the door and let it swing open wide enough to grant them entrance and both proceeded through the threshold with a smile and a wave in greeting before Gaara shut the door behind them.

It wasn't long before they were settled into the living room where Kankuro resided as well. Temari wasn't around.

"She's been working and we haven't heard from her in a while," Gaara explained in a low tone, earning an apologetic and solemnly passive stare in reply; Naruto understood how that felt. Temari was in the same business as his mother. There were times she disappeared for days and he wasn't sure he'd ever see her again.

"Do you want to smoke?"

Naruto glanced up to see Gaara holding up a cleanly rolled blunt.

"How can I say no?" Naruto asked back with a playful smile, "But we can't stay long – new shipment this morning so Kyuubi's probably gonna make me weigh it out."

It didn't matter if it was half an hour or half a day – Gaara cherished every minute he spent with Naruto. Naruto was a lot like the embodiment of Gaara's stability; there was very little that Gaara wouldn't do for him. Naruto was the person who brought him back from a dark place in his life. He was positive he'd of gone insane far long ago where it not for him. He was probably just about the only person in this world he felt he could relate to.

Broken people flocked to Naruto and Naruto sheltered them relentlessly with his strong personality and unwavering confidence in the solution to every problem. At least that's what Gaara assumed from what he saw; Naruto never failed to change each life he touched and none of them could help but marvel at it.

It felt like very little time passed as the apartment hazed over with a floating smoke before Naruto was pulling out his phone, features irritated as he stared at the name on the caller ID.

"What?" he snapped when he answered the phone. His tone caught every eye in the room and the attention was solely on him; he only spoke to one person with a voice filled with that much contempt.

"No, fuck off," he continued incredulously before his features dropped slightly as he listened to the words coming through the speaker that no one else could hear, "Ok fine! I'll be there in a minute, fuck!"

He reared back and Haku turned swiftly, grabbing Naruto's wrist before he could throw the phone across the room.

"Naruto, don't, you need your phone," Haku reminded as he pushed himself up onto his knees and reached up to press the end-call button at the bottom of the phone.

Naruto relaxed because he knew Haku was right and thank god Haku was quick enough to stop him from doing something incredibly stupid. He shot Haku an apologetic look.

"We have to go," he whispered in a repentant tone, "Kyuubi's being a complete asshole, but what's new?" he asked sarcastically as he stood from the couch, Haku following suit, eyes glazed with regret that their visit was over already, "We'll see you at school tomorrow Gaara."

"Wait," he requested as he, too, stood from him position on the couch to follow them toward the front door, "Do you want me to drive you home?"

"No Gaara!" Naruto laughed as he turned slightly to gaze humorously at him, "It's literally down the street."

"Yeah, down the street with the highest crime rate in the city," Gaara reminded easily.

"I appreciate the statistic you must have seen on the news last night, but we kind of are the crime, and you too Gaara. I'm not too worried about it," he assured as he pulled the door open, letting himself and Haku out.

With one last wave, they disappeared into the shadows of the stairwell and were out of sight.

Their walk was silent until they reached the street and Naruto hummed as he remembered something.

"We have a Calculus test tomorrow," he mused softly, his voice tired at the reminder.

"You have a Calculus test tomorrow. I'm not in Calculus yet. I'm still in Algebra," Haku corrected as he shot the blonde an affectionate look. Haku was barely passing Algebra One and it was his second year taking it. If he was lucky, he'd pass Algebra, take Geometry next year and finish off his senior year with Algebra Two and leave Calculus for the kids planning on college.

The kids like Naruto – Naruto took Algebra One when he was in seventh grade and he kicked that class in the ass easily. If Haku could describe it any way, he would say Naruto was pretty fucking good with numbers and he was extremely positive Naruto didn't really understand just how good he really was.

Haku was pretty sure Naruto was on a different level in general.

"Naruto, what's it like being smart?"

Naruto shot him an odd look and Haku assumed it was because Naruto didn't consider himself smart at all.

"I'm not that smart. I'm just good at taking tests," he rationalized easily.

Haku stared back, features vaguely skeptical. Naruto was vastly generalizing the term 'good at taking tests'. He had seen Naruto spit out numbers that didn't even sound possible to remember let alone find without a calculator – numbers that had such a lengthy fraction of a whole number it had Haku's head spinning.

"Unfortunately that doesn't do much for you if you're never at school to take the tests. I'm fucked if I do all of this just to fail out of high school."

He sounded the epiphany of determined and Haku wondered how he was able to set his sights on such an impossibly far away thing such as college. Haku assumed it was his superior intelligence that kept pushing him forward – kept finding a way through the maze of problems littering his life on a daily basis.

No one else really believed Naruto was smart enough to make something of his life – even his mother was blind to it; not because she thought Naruto was dim, but because she just wasn't around, or aware enough when she was to really realize the things coming out of Naruto's mouth.

But Haku – Haku knew Naruto was special. Naruto was going to change the world someday. He promised Haku so himself; facing the world's doubt only drove him toward proving them wrong harder.

"You'll figure out a way to get your grade up," Haku reassured easily – easily because it was what he honestly believed. Naruto smiled warmly at him, the same one that made Haku feel inferior in comparison.

"You're probably right."

They had arrived at the door on the first floor of the low income apartment complex he lived in and Naruto shoved his key into the first lock, followed by the second, and finally the third. It was done in a quick succession that came with years of doing it.

"Well look who decided to come home," Kyuubi greeted sarcastically as he placed a generous bag of powder at the small table in the corner of the room Naruto usually sat at to bag drugs. It would take him several hours at least and it was already close to midnight.

He sighed in resignation as he made his way into the living space, dropping his backpack at the chair by his table and taking a seat as he rolled up his sleeves.

The drug before him was coke – he wasn't allowed to sell it; but he was allowed to bag it, and that alone was a mistake he wouldn't dare pass on taking advantage of. Kyuubi made few mistakes and he wouldn't wave goodbye as an opportunity like this passed him by.

Haku floated toward Zabuza's side and he watched as the man zipped shut the small bag in his hands, eyes steadfast on the powder lining the bottom before tossing it into the pile of bags littering the table. He'd just finished weighing out his portion and Naruto felt his irritation spike at seeing Kyuubi sit down at the couch in his spot near the man; his pile hadn't even been touched and that meant Naruto would have to stay awake with him for the next several hours. He was hoping they'd be done and ready to disappear for the rest of the night, do coke, fuck women, and come home sometime after six just to ignore him and pass out for the rest of the day.

But they looked comfortable to hang around for the entire night and Naruto kind of wanted to smack his head against the wall next to him until he was unconscious.

He grabbed the abandoned credit card left there from the last time Kyuubi made him weigh out drugs. He remembered when he first got the small plastic rectangle – the bank sent it to his mom in the mail with directions on how to activate it.

What a stupid thing to do; his mother would have maxed it out and dodged the collections agencies in a hot minute.

He took it instead just to stop it before it happened; he was already scrambling to pay off everything else. Plus, the card was easily one of the easiest ways to sort out powdered drugs.

Minutes dragged by slowly as he weighed out the powder, gram by gram, before packing the ten bags he'd finished filling together and wrapping a rubber band tautly around them until they were compacted into a small square of a thousand dollars' worth of drugs bundled and ready to sell.

"You know," Kyuubi began as he held up two bags of powder, one in each hand, "1 gram of coke looks a lot like .95 grams of coke."

Naruto shot him a sidelong glance because that statement was far too dangerous to outright ignore. When Kyuubi said something as rhetorical as that, it usually meant he had something to say. He was sure the other occupants of the room didn't like the idea of dealing those stiffed bags. It wasn't something they could get away with for long – it would have to be something they did spontaneously and very sparsely to the same person in very spread out succession – a lot like what Naruto did when he was stealing drugs from Kyuubi.

"How much money would we make off something like that?" Kyuubi asked toward the general populace of the apartment.

Four-thousand, nine-hundred and twenty-eight dollars per kilo.

But Naruto kept the answer to himself because he didn't care to help Kyuubi out.

The spider-like man in his kitchen that had been around as long as Zabuza struggled to figure out how to create the problem that would give him the solution to what Kyuubi wanted to know. His name was Kidomaru and he was fairly dim. He leaned over toward his partner and nudged the white haired man boldly. His partner was Kimimaro – Kimimaro was not dim, probably the furthest away from it out of the adults in the room.

Haku doubted he was smarter than Naruto but Naruto refused to accept entering judgment against a cokehead – to him, it wasn't fair comparing the two. Drugs made people fucking stupid; he'd win on principle. He remembered that had made Haku laugh and he felt a fond surge toward his dark haired companion across the room.

"How many grams are in a kilo? Nine-hundred and eighty?" he asked aloud as he pulled out his phone and tapped at the calculator application within it.

Wrong, Naruto thought to himself as he glared toward the wall as his hands paused for a moment. He was slightly incredulous at the fact that a man who dealt with as many drugs as Kidomaru did, didn't know how many grams were in a kilo.

"So what would I do, just subtract .05 from 1?" he continued on, making Naruto fear for his own intelligence, "Oh wait, no. I should multiply .05 times 980."

There was still a lot of error as he continued to painfully work out the problem before coming to a poorly estimated four-thousand, nine-hundred.

That seemed like enough to Kyuubi.

"Let's do it. We'll do it for one kilo every third shipment."

Naruto shook his head slightly but didn't say anything because his opinion didn't matter anyway.

Three swift and solid but urgent knocks resounded from the hallway's side of the door and Kimimaro gazed through the knothole to see who it was. When his features remained calm as he unlocked the door, the rest of the room remained calm because recognition was somewhat safe – in a very general yet specific instance.

"Fuck you!" the person nearly yelled as he stumbled into the apartment, eyes finding Kyuubi instantly, "Why'd you fuck with Gato?" he asked, eyes wide with unease, "I almost just got shot!"

"Actually that was me," Zabuza interrupted as he leaned back against the couch, arms crossing over his chest, "His complete disrespect pissed me off so he lost a couple pounds of coke for it."

"You killed someone, one of his guys. He's seriously out to take one of ours! I got clipped!" he explained urgently as he turned to show his upper arm to the man; he had a nasty little gash almost at the tip of his shoulder where a bullet grazed through a good amount of skin.

"Holy shit," Naruto breathed as he stood from his chair and approached the older boy, eyes steadfast on the freely bleeding wound, "Fuck this, I'm not risking my life just to help you sell drugs," Naruto snapped as he turned to glare heatedly at Kyuubi who looked irritated.

"Neither am I – it's not so risky for you guys. It's risky for us – the people on the street! I don't want–"

"Suigetsu! Will you shut up for a minute?" Kyuubi interrupted, the rising tension in the room peaking at the silence that followed.

Suigetsu was the person who bought huge amounts from them and sold it to all the dealers Kyuubi approved in the areas he approved – dealers like him and Haku.

Suigetsu sold crack like Naruto, only Naruto dealt to users and Suigetsu dealt to dealers like him; Naruto made more money – nothing like what Kyuubi made, not even close – but selling in bigger amounts like Suigetsu did, didn't earn him much. It was less work, and Suigetsu probably spent just a few hours a week on dealing for an ok amount of money, but, unless you were Kyuubi, you couldn't pull of sitting around most days and make money telling people what to do: few people involved in drugs ever made as much as him.

The only way for someone like Suigetsu or Naruto to make money, was to sell every fraction of a gram alone and at the absolute maximum people would buy it at, because after that, the buyer got a deal, and the customers that could, bought in bigger amounts to save a little money; the more a person bought at a time, the more a person saved. So Naruto mostly sold ten and five sacks and he never gave anyone a deal.

Of course, there was a lot more risk getting caught the more a person dealt too, but Naruto needed money more than he had the time to spare on worrying about it; his lifestyle was built on risks.

Kyuubi didn't like Suigetsu for some reason – he didn't seem to trust him, so he didn't let him anywhere near coke. Probably because he seemed more genuine, like Naruto; and that was probably why Naruto did like Suigetsu. So he was stuck dealing with crackheads like Naruto was.

Naruto and Haku were the only street dealers that actually came here because of their correlation between Kyuubi and Zabuza; not that Naruto thought that was anything worth bragging about. Other dealers like Naruto and Haku didn't even know where this apartment was. Naruto himself knew didn't know much about Kyuubi's position and he had no idea how many other apartments just like this one he had scattered throughout the city. All he knew was that there was a warehouse in an abandoned part of town that he'd never been inside of and he wondered just how much Cocaine Kyuubi put on the streets.

He bet a good amount that there was a lot more moved in and out of that warehouse than this apartment.

"Now," the man continued in a dangerous tone as he stared rigidly at Naruto, "Just to recap, yes, both of you will still be dealing. You can stop bitching about Gato because we're fixing that problem. Actually, since we're on the topic, Haku," he addressed, earning the alert and uneasy attention of the quiet teen in the corner of the room, hiding mostly in Zabuza's shadow, "You're making the drop off."

"That's stupid!" Naruto objected immediately as he turned to face Kyuubi more fully, "I'll do it, Haku doesn't need to."

"No, Haku will do it. It was Zabuza's fuck up so Haku will do it," Kyuubi reinforced with a dangerous tone. Zabuza looked impassive and that pissed Naruto off, "I'll correspond with Gato and find out where he wants to pick it up."

"You say that easily because it's not your life you're gambling with!" Naruto yelled before turning toward Suigetsu, "That is no joke, you need stitches."

"Well while you're out," Kyuubi began as he pointed toward the supply boxed and ready for the street, "Take that and get the rats living in the gutter of every street corner to make me some fucking money."

The command seemed to spark a train of thought because the blue haired teen reached for something in the inside pocket of his jacket.

"Speaking of which," he mumbled before dumping a wad of cash onto the table, careful not to disturb the drugs being sorted out atop it. It was thick, too thick to fold, and it was mostly hundred dollar bills.

"There's twelve kilos in those crates," Kyuubi informed, gaze back on the TV as he lit a cigarette.

That was his dismissal and Naruto shook his head in disbelief. Suigetsu had just been shot and Kyuubi was shoving him out the door, content to get him back to work as soon as possible.

Suigetsu came around pretty often – he usually didn't go longer than a week without coming back, and it felt like an incredibly short amount of time to move almost twenty-seven pounds of crack throughout the city and Naruto vaguely wondered just how many dealers Suigetsu was orchestrating. Their cartel was getting big and that frightened Naruto because he was dangerously close to running out of time.

Naruto shook himself from his reverie when Suigetsu turned and reached down to pick up the top crate.

"I got it," the blonde assured as he grabbed the box, eyes darting to the wound on the young adult's shoulder. Suigetsu shot him a grateful look as he followed him into the hallway and out toward the parking lot.

"Thanks," he breathed genuinely as he popped the trunk, eyes shifting over the parking lot and behind his back quickly. Naruto caught the swift sweep of his eyes and he felt a surge of sympathy for the person standing behind him. Suigetsu was visibly jumpy and Naruto didn't blame him at all for being gun shy. Naruto had never been shot but he didn't think it was highly impossible to happen some day in the lifestyle he was living in and from what he'd seen, gunshot wounds hurt like hell.

He set the box down and turned toward the blue haired teen as he walked back toward the path to the hallway leading to his apartment.

"Be right back."

After a few more trips, the trunk was shut and Naruto wiped his hands together at a job well done.

"All set," he deemed with a smile while Suigetsu shot him a complicated look.

"You shouldn't be involved in drugs."

The statement caught him off guard because as long as he'd known Suigetsu, he'd never once heard him speak ill against the lifestyle of a drug dealer. It must have been the near death experience getting to his head.

"Neither should you," he countered as he gestured toward his injury, "No one should be. Really, go to the ER."

Suigetsu nodded in acknowledgement and they parted with an exchange of goodbye's and Naruto turned and left without another word as he headed back for the apartment. Suigetsu didn't follow and he hadn't expected him to; why return when he had everything he needed?

The men usually littering his apartment filed out of his front door and he glared at each of them in turn as he passed them in the hall and giving Haku a soft 'later' before his disdainful eyes met Kyuubi's as he reentered the apartment, the door shut and locked behind him.

He let the air in his lungs out slowly before making his way back over to his table; it was just him and Kyuubi now – oh, and his mother in the other room in a highly drug induced 'sleep' – or the closest thing to it.

"Did you have a long, taxing day being everyone's friendly neighborhood drug dealer? Need a break from the guys?" Naruto asked sarcastically as he scooted himself closer to the table, returning his attention to the drugs before him.

"Been smoking weed, Naruto?" Kyuubi called out while Naruto ignored him, eyes steadfast on the powder on the table before him. Naruto always had a far more sarcastic attitude when he was high and Kyuubi could pick it out every once and a while, "You know, doing drugs is bad," the man mocked as he continued to attempt to catch his attention from his place on the couch.

"Pot is hardly a drug," the blonde reminded in an irritated tone before glancing up, eyes resting on the glass of liquor in the man's hand.

"But drugs make you stupid you know," Kyuubi continued when Naruto's gaze dropped back down to the drugs on the table. He only said it because Naruto told him so all the time – it was his most infuriating way of insulting Kyuubi and Kyuubi knew he was stirring the irritation brewing behind that mask of indifference he worked so hard to keep up. It didn't help that Naruto was practically wrists deep in coke right now.

"Mainlining smack makes you stupid," the blonde corrected disinterestedly as he weighed out a gram of the soft powder before opening a small zip from the pile at the right side of the table and tipping the small pile of drugs on the scale into the bag and sealing it shut.

Kyuubi stood from his position on the couch and headed toward the hallway, eyes steadfast on the blonde. Naruto reluctantly looked up when he froze under the entryway.

"If I wake up and not all of this is bagged, you can mainline whatever's left," the man promised in a dangerous tone. It wasn't an invitation to dip into the stash – it was a threat.

Naruto gazed back unimpressed before the man disappeared down the hallway toward his mother's room; it's not like Kyuubi didn't hand him a death threat any time he could throw one in. The initial wow factor had worn off. He wasn't dead yet and it'd been almost seven years since Kyuubi slithered into his life. He assumed this was no different.

But that didn't mean he shouldn't take his threat seriously. He knew he had to finish this before morning if he didn't want to have the shit kicked out of him.

He glanced over at Kyuubi's pile and shut his eyes as he breathed in slowly to reign in his frustration. Kyuubi hadn't even started – he'd just been fucking around with making a design in the powder. It would take him all night to finish this and he had an idea that Kyuubi knew that.

With a soft sigh, he reached for his backpack under his chair and grabbed his Calculus book, opening it to the page he was pretty sure they were studying last time he was in class before propping it at the other side of the table. He reached back down a second time for a bottle of pills, unscrewed the lid on the orange bottle, and fished out a capsule before throwing it back.

It wouldn't be long before all his synapses were firing and then he'd finish in time for school, in time to take another pill so that he could stay awake – so that he could focus and take the math test on the unit he was about to teach himself.

He wouldn't have to abuse Adderall if it wasn't for all this shit. If he could just sleep, he could do it without the drugs.

But he couldn't, so he compensated with pharmaceuticals and he wasn't complaining because at least he had access to helpful drugs; he would do anything to help his mother have to work less.

He pulled out a cigarette to hold him over until the pill dissolved in his stomach and lit it with a soft drag into his mouth before parting his lips and releasing the smoke before it could slip into his lungs. The end of cigarette dulled to a soft glow and he knew it was well lit so he popped it back into his mouth, hitting it again, this time with his lungs, and he felt himself relax as he reached for the pile of drugs before him, smoke escaping through his partly closed lips, cigarette balancing at a corner of his mouth.

And somehow, he wondered what Sasuke was doing.


Let me know what you think. I was super nervous about posting this for several reasons. There are probably still a lot of typos and errors and I'm working on weeding through them this week (let me know if you spot one), but I haven't looked it over much so lend me some patience :)

See you next Monday!