He always suspected Naruto would end up in an unmarked grave in the middle of nowhere. He just didn't expect it quite like this.
Sasuke examined the bodies below him in the pit. The bright blond hair dulled by dirt and worse. Flies buzzed around before landing on the two bodies in the shallow grave, laying eggs on clothes and hair and skin. The smell was appalling-only Sasuke's Uchiha pride kept him from wrinkling his nose and applying Vix. Naruto's body was curved around his gravemate almost tenderly-despite the dirt it was easy to see that it was him-that atrocious orange jumpsuit was absolutely indicative.
"Somehow I'm not surprised to find you in an unmarked grave," Sasuke said out loud.
Under his goggles Naruto flicked him a quick glance before continuing to scrape away the dirt under the corpse's head, leaving it supported by a pillar of dirt. "I think there's at least one more body in here, maybe two," he paused, the clinical tone of his voice changing to one of irritation. "And fuck you too, bastard." His voice was slightly muffled by a dust mask.
Sasuke smirked and looked away, scanning the area. His fellow FBI agents were in place, fanned out in a protective circle around the site. This was a high-level mob killing, and some on the local police were suspected to be involved, hence the FBI involvement. The last thing anyone wanted was for their forensic anthropologist to be whacked. He sighed and stretched, letting relief wash over him-when Naruto ran away from his group home almost ten years ago Sasuke had been sure that he would end up on the streets, a druggy, or worse. It was a pleasant surprise to see him working as a forensic anthropologist.
No. It was more than that. The ball off guilt that Sasuke had carried around with him after Naruto ran away unknotted, leaving a warm, empty feeling. It wasn't his fault, he knew, but it wasn't like he had helped that much either. Sasuke looked back down in the pit, then moved so his shadow curled over Naruto's head. It was 90*F and no cover, sweat-soaked hair matted to Naruto's forehead, and Sasuke pondered getting a portable awning to provide him with more shade before Naruto got sunstroke. They didn't have one on site, unfortunately, so it would have to wait until they got back into town tonight. Hopefully Naruto was still as resistant to heat as he used to be. Just in case he grabbed a couple water bottles from the ice chest and handed one to his former friend. Naruto looked startled for a moment, then grunted a thank you, sitting up and peeling off his gloves with a grimace.
"Hopefully I won't get anything from this," Naruto grumbled, waving at the corpse. Sasuke shrugged, squatting near the edge of the pit, close enough to talk to Naruto but far enough away that he wouldn't accidentally kick anything down into the site.
"Where did you go to college?" Sasuke asked after sucking down half his bottle of water.
Naruto finished his off and tossed it out of the pit, replacing his mask and putting on new latex gloves. "University of Tennessee," he said, going back to work in the pit. This time he had a dry paintbrush he was using to carefully remove the soil from the victim's clothes.
"You studied at the Body Farm?"
"Yep. Studied with Dr. Orochimaru. Human decomposition." Under his mask Naruto wrinkled his nose. "Guy's a creep, but he knows his stuff. Hand me that camera, will you? I think I found a bullet casing."
Silently Sasuke passed the camera down, and stood up, stretching his legs a little. He considered Naruto as he snapped photos of the victim, he seemed calmer now. Ten years ago he had been boiling over with anger and frustration and hyperactivity. It didn't help that he sold his Ritalin at school rather then taking it. Sasuke still bore the scars from the time they fought on the blacktop, and he wondered if Naruto ever got that tooth fixed. The cool, almost clinical tone he spoke with today was totally at odds with the stick of unstable dynamite that was the old Naruto, as was the focused was he worked on the corpse.
Well it had been ten years. People changed a lot in that time.
Naruto grunted and pushed back slightly, angling the camera to shoot something in the soil below the victim before brushing more dirt away. "Hey, bastard!" he shouted, sounding a bit more like the old Naruto, "I think I found the second victim!"
Sasuke moved to get a better look, but whatever Naruto had seen wasn't visible up on the rim of the pit. Impatiently Naruto gestured for him to join him, and after a moment of indecision he skidded down the side of the grave. There wasn't any room to stand next to Naruto without stepping on him, so he ended up curling up against his back, levering up to see over the forensic anthropologist, arm draped over his chest. Under his touch Naruto stilled, barely breathing. In the grave the smell was so overwhelming it wasn't even smell any more. It was a putrid taste in the back of the throat, clogging his stomach and lung. Still, even with a corpse in front of them and another underneath something just felt right about lying with Naruto like this. Even with the flies buzzing around and trying to lay eggs in his nostrils and lips.
"Where is it?" he asked, trying to speak without opening his mouth. He really should have brought a mask down with him. Oh well.
"Right here," Naruto said, brushing away a little more dirt to reveal a scrap of fabric. No, not just a scrap.
Sasuke allowed himself to sink down next to Naruto, not caring if someone saw them like this. Finding Naruto was the whole reason he joined the FBI in the first place. Funny how that worked out.
"How were these guys found?" Naruto asked after a moment, brushing away more dirt into an evidence bag to be shifted later.
"Farmer laying an irrigation pipe hit the first one, as you probably noticed."
"Yeah, I see the damage." He was silent for a long moment, carefully brushing away more dirt to expose the new body. Sasuke rolled over onto his back as best he could, feeling lassitude steal over him, no matter the stink. The smell didn't matter, only the fact that he had found Naruto alive and well.
"Was anyone looking for these guys?" Naruto asked softly. Sasuke wrinkled his brow.
"Not really. We think they were a mob hit because of the location," the farm had been the dumping ground for several other bodies... including a classic 1969 Mustang someone had evidently been murdered in. "But no one was actively looking for them."
"They were forgotten," Naruto said softly, and Sasuke knew that they were talking about something else. Someone else.
"We didn't forget you," he whispered, folding his arms over his belly. Naruto froze, the sound of his spade stopping completely. Sasuke grimaced briefly as a fly tried to go down his throat. "Me and Sakura, we're still looking for you. We even have a Facebook page up about you." He paused. "It's why I joined the FBI, actually."
Naruto coughed, a startled sound. "And how is Sakura?" he managed to squeak after a moment. Sasuke smirked behind his back.
"Fine. Expecting her first kid any day now. With Lee, remember him?"
Naruto put down the spade and turned awkwardly to face him. "Holy shit, Lee? Mr. Eyebrows?"
Sasuke nodded, smirking. "It's a boy," he said. "Guess what they're naming him?"
"Guy?" Sasuke shook his head. "Lee Jr.?" Shake. "Sasuke-bastard?" That got a chuckle out of Sasuke and widened his smirk into a smile, but still got a head-shake. Naruto's eyes were so blue behind his goggles they matched the summer sky.
"Naruto. That's what they're naming him," Sasuke said, when he couldn't stand it anymore. The shocked look in Naruto's eyes morphed into something like joy and he laughed, a big, belly laugh that reminded Sasuke of all the good times before Naruto got shipped off to that godawful group-home; of summers spent hovering around Sakura's barn as she worked on her latest 4H project and winter breaks spent at Sasuke's parents' mountain cabin, learning to snowboard. Before all the light was beaten out of him.
Well, obviously not all of it.
After a minute Naruto settled down and turned back to the corpses. "Get out of here," he said, a chuckle still in his voice. "I want to get these guys out of here before the flies do my job for me."
Smiling to himself Sasuke scrambled out of the grave, leaving Naruto behind.
But not for long.