Because you guys have been so good and I've been such a horrible authoress - making you wait like that while I sort out my Code Geass fic, what a terrible thing to do - I'm going to give you a little treat. This is an Heirshipping oneshot that I've been casually working on for a while, and I thought it might help tide over the wait for more of my wonderful Angel Clan goodness. XD Ego check, yeah?

Anyways, it's set some time during Shippuden - the specifics aren't really important - and it's taken from canon continuum, unlike the AC. Finally, I have ideas for a sequel, so if you think that I should write it, say yay or nay! ^.^

Enjoy!


"What are you doing?"

"What do you think I'm doing?" he responded – and his voice was such a low purr that I felt it vibrating in my chest. His fingers ghosted over my exposed belly, and I could only twitch against his burning body.

His hands floated up my black and orange jacket, rattling the zip. Slowly, sensually, he dragged it down.

"Why- why are you- Ai!" My trembling voice cut off with a yelp that was higher than I'd ever admit. Purring wickedly, he rubbed his thumb roughly over my tank-top covered nipple.

Since my clothing still separated us, he ran his hands over my shoulders and down my arms – effectively ridding me of my jacket. His fingertips lingered at my wrists.

I shivered as the cool night air brushed over my bare arms, contrasting with the heat of my pounding heart. He was so close that my shiver transferred to his body and his skin teased mine with touches as light as butterfly wings.

"Tease," he gasped, leaning into me – his hands found their way to my waist, drawing my hips closer to his.

I'd never seen him like this before. He was always so calm, so reserved and in control. Even when he lost his cool in a fight, he was never… like this. It was kind of scaring me – just a little bit.

His cheek heated my neck for only the briefest moment—then I leapt away from him.

"Tell me what the fuck you're doing," I growled; he bared his sharp teeth at me in a wicked smile.

"Only what you want me to," he replied – and my belly coiled as his sinful voice washed over me. Oh Kami. What was he doing to me?

He watched me with glittering, ink-black eyes that were filled with the temptation of sin itself. I couldn't move. I didn't dare. I feared falling prey to the pure desire of his tempter's gaze.

Then he reached up and tugged on the zip at his throat. My mouth went dry. He surely wasn't…. Surely my missing jacket was enough absent clothing…?

And still I couldn't move as his midnight jacket puddled at his feet. Clad now only in his pants and thin white cotton shirt, he took a terrifying step closer. My heart jumped into my throat, sending pulses of hot blood through my body like the heavy throb of hunting drums.

"Back off," I snarled, panic pouring adrenalin into my veins thick as my blood. "I don't want this."

He ignored me and came as close as our thin clothing allowed, capturing my face in his hands.

"Don't lie to me," he whispered, trailing his fingers down my jaw and neck until they rested on my raging pulse. "I don't like being lied to – you know that."

"I'm not lying to you," I replied somewhat nastily – and it was the truth. In no way did I want his aura of pure sin to overcome my self-control. I never before laid eyes on a male and felt the desire of lust, but he could bring anybody to their knees. His midnight hair and blacker-than-black eyes were the perfect trap, while his flawless body was the bait. His hands were still touching my face and neck, heating my skin, and I knew the longer we stayed this way, the more vulnerable I became.

I tried to take a step back, but he slid the hand touching my neck around my shoulders to stop me.

"Just admit you want me, Naruto," he whispered wistfully. And then, Sasuke Uchiha, my best friend and eternal rival, snared my lips under his in a passionate kiss.


There was a buzzing in my ears. I awoke slowly at first, but as my eyes blinked open, my mind began to rush back. I reached out to flick off my alarm.

Sitting up, I rubbed my sapphire eyes, yawning.

I had dreamed. I knew that much – remembering that dream, however, was a completely different matter. I rubbed my eyes some more, knowing it would come in time. And so it did.

My eyes fell upon the picture that always sat beside my bed, just as I was towelling my hair dry from my shower. For the first second, I was simply reminded of how often I had failed in bringing Sasuke back; of how much Sakura was hurting because of it. It made me both angry and miserable. But then my dream swelled in my mind – a tidal wave breaking over a city – and I froze, staring at the picture of Sasuke and his scowl.

…The hell?‼

It didn't help that while I was drying my spiky blond hair, the only thing I was wearing was my necklace. Chills raced down my spine and my damp hair rose on end, and I stood and stared at his frozen black eyes in total shock.

It was all I could do not to fall to my knees. Normally, my dreams were blurry, indistinct in my imperfect memory, but this dream remained clear. Every detail, every word and every thought…. Every brush of his hands on my skin…. Every shiver that had peppered my body….

No! What the heck was I thinking?‼ I shook my head violently, turning away from the picture as I started to get dressed. Sasuke was my rival, my friend – my enemy.

And Sakura – Sakura, whom I loved – was in love with him.

So how could I dream that?

Otherwise dressed in my trackpants and tank top, I turned to grab my jacket, only to stare at it blankly. The black and orange mocked me, and suddenly I felt sick. I turned away and threw myself out of my bedroom door, stumbling slightly. With my torso clad only in my black top, my necklace resting against my frantically beating heart, I raced from my apartment into my balcony, leaning against the railing and taking gulps of the chill morning air.

Nausea clenched my stomach and I clamped my mouth shut. Dizzily, I closed my eyes and leaned fully over the railing, just in case my body betrayed me. The breeze fluttered over me, and all I could feel was Sasuke's hands ghosting over my stomach and at my wrists.

I whimpered through my clenched teeth, trying to fight off the phantom sensations and the nervous coiling that sent tremors through my body.

I have to bring him back… for Sakura. The thought of Sakura filled my heart with heat – but this was a nice heat.

My hands clenched on the railing as my breathing became more and more ragged. I could feel Sasuke's cool hands on my face, hot despite the chill of his icy skin. I could feel his gentle fingertips softly against my neck; see the lustful glitter in his inky eyes as his gaze met mine.

His low voice as he whispered words in my ear, words and tone of pure sin. Sasuke embodied sin in the most perfect way any human could.

It wasn't simply the way his genetics had shaped his appearance, though it did help. Eyes of liquid ink, dark and deep as the night sky and just as full of impossible light. They matched perfectly with his black hair, soft and neatly skewed around his head like the halo of an avenging angel. How surprisingly apt that description was of him. And somehow – somehow – his dark hair and eyes didn't make his pale skin look sallow. Rather, it took on an almost pearlescent colour, a perfect alabaster that made his hair look like black ice, and his eyes like black fire.

A faultless figure of opposites, Sasuke was a creature that ensnared the mind and soul of any who looked at him, and tempted them into the dark desire of black and white sin.

The funny thing was, when I had first met him I would have called him an asshole. But as I'd gotten to know him, I'd found that it wasn't the case, and that his personality impossibly, inexplicably, made his aura of sin even more powerful, more perfect. He was cold at times, and he had a tendency to be dismissive of any who couldn't or wouldn't prove their power to him, but he did care. He would save you from certain death – screaming for the blood of whoever threatened you – and then he would mock you for being weak. And perversely, I never felt down when he did that. Angry, yes. Like I wanted to kill him, oh hell yes. But he had never made me sad with his actions.

Not until he left.

A banging on my door woke me from my thoughts, and I turned towards it. A soft smile alighted on my face as I strode back through my room to answer it, and I thankfully no longer felt sick. It wasn't long, however, before the feeling of squirming tentacles filled my belly again.

It was Sakura at the door. Normally, I would have been ecstatic at her visit, but now she only served to remind me of what I'd dreamed; what I'd taken from her. It may not have happened outside of my head, but in my heart I still felt like I'd stolen something from the girl. Sasuke may never submit to her, but it wasn't my right to take him from her, nor her dreams. Especially without her knowledge.

"Sakura," I said guiltily. Leaving the door open – and grateful for the cool breeze it let into my apartment – I wandered back to my couch and sat down, elbows on my knees and head in my hands. "What are ya doing here?" I tried to make my tone cheerful, throwing in the roll of a chuckle, but all it did was make my voice tremble like my body.

"Are you okay?" Sakura demanded, green eyes widening as she darted to my side and crouched by me. "What happened to you? You look awful."

I shook my head. Even now, with the guilt gnawing me, I couldn't tell her. It wasn't only the guilt of what I'd dreamed that kept me silent; it was the guilt of promises broken, the guilt of years that she'd suffered while I'd failed time and again. It was the guilt of harbouring the guilt itself. "I'm ok, Sakura," I told her, but even I wouldn't have believed my weak voice.

I, on the other hand, would have let it go.

"Bullshit," she countered, voice razor sharp. Tugging her long, pink-red sleeves to her elbows, Sakura repositioned herself and placed her hands – one on top of the other – near my head. It wasn't her customary garb, but I couldn't figure out why she'd be dressed differently; and trying made my head hurt. A faint sound filled the apartment as her hands lit up pale green, and I obligingly sat back, keeping my eyes closed. For minutes on end, she roved her hands over me, never touching. One direct touch from those hands would send a jolt of chakra through my system, and it wasn't a treatment I needed. Nor did I ever need any more chakra.

The Kyuubi took care of that for me.

It was only several minutes later that I realised the room was silent, and I opened my eyes to make sure Sakura was still here. My kunoichi teammate was, indeed, still right next to me, but she'd lowered her hands and was watching me with concern. She didn't say it, but we both knew we were thinking the same thing: It took me way too long to notice she'd stopped.

"There's nothing physically wrong with you," she admitted, and sat back from me. I could see her distancing herself from me emotionally while she did that. Her eyes went from alive to dull, though they never lost their pit of concern.

I wasn't hurt by that. There had never been a time that Sakura had stopped caring about her comrades, though she could sure act like it sometimes. Only when there was nothing she could do to help did she ever distance herself, and it had never been because she didn't care. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It was because she cared too much.

Sighing, I forced myself to my feet. I still felt sick, and I was suddenly weary; it felt like I was disconnected from my body, a simple passenger in someone else's vehicle. The dream felt more real than ever, Sasuke's touches – his words, and the mouth that said them – encroaching on my waking mind like a parasite in the gut of an animal. If I closed my eyes, even for a second, I could have sworn I heard his voice from behind me. I would have sworn I felt his chakra signature so very close to mine.

"I'm fine, Sakura," I told her again, putting effort into making my voice more believable this time. "Why are you here?" I asked her for the second time, stretching to try and rid my flesh of the gentle shivers wracking it.

Every tremor was noted by those eyes, and I knew that. Each flaw in my normally smooth skin, each raised point on my arms and shoulders filed away into the list of differences she was making for me. Nothing escaped her eagle gaze, and everything would be catalogued while she tried to decipher what was bothering me.

"You're late for our meeting. Remember, we got assigned a mission for tomorrow," she reminded me, and I paused for a moment.

"Shit." I'd forgotten. I could have claimed I'd forgotten because of the dream, but the truth was I'd forgotten long before that.

"You don't say," Sakura replied sarcastically, frowning at me. She was still watching, taking into account every time I twitched or shuddered. I knew I was making it too obvious that I'd lied when I'd told her nothing was wrong, but I couldn't help it. My training had never accounted for something like this; I guess we were expected to know how to deal with it.

The problem was, I didn't. I don't think it was the fact that Sasuke and I were both male that threw me. After all, I loved Sakura, but as for the rest of my sexuality – well, I don't think it actually would have mattered that much to me. Everybody had equal standing in my mind, male or female. What right had I to choose one over the other purely because of how they were born?

No, I was bothered so much by the dream not because Sasuke was a guy, but simply because of who he was to Sakura. Who he was to me.

He was my friend, my rival; my eternal enemy and the only one who ever understood me fully. He knew who I was and I knew him. It was a fight between allies, a spar between enemies, a desire for bloodshed and a need for laughter. We were both friend and foe, and who we were together and apart couldn't be complete without both. He was almost my brother – if not in blood, then certainly in spirit.

But we were never lovers.

Even thinking about the concept made me shudder; I sensed Sakura narrowing her eyes. Perhaps I'd been gazing out my open door for too long, but I couldn't break my train of thought.

What Sasuke was to me – and what I was to him – was a precarious balance. Any wrong move, any shift would send it tumbling down into chaos, and then I don't know where we would end up. It could be heaven – it could be hell. It could be a labyrinth of something in between. All I knew was that if I did something to disrupt our compellingly fragile bond, then I would change it all. And I wasn't sure if the changes I would wreak would be good or not.

"Naruto?" Sakura said quietly, touching my shoulder. My gaze shot to her, but her concern – remote as it was – gave me something else to think about, and I gave her a grateful half-smile. I knew that I probably still looked unwell – pale, sweaty and my eyes had this strange penchant to darken whenever I was stressed, worried or angry – but relief flooded me. I had to think about the mission now.

I was a shinobi. Missions always came first. "We should go," I said.

Silently, Sakura nodded at me and departed, her fern green eyes dark with empty fear. As she did so, my tumultuous gaze slid to my lifeless jacket – and somehow, it seemed duller than usual. It was no longer mine. That jacket belonged to Sasuke, and if I wore it, then so would I.


Shikamaru asked me if I was okay. Shino suggested a change in diet. Sakura said nothing more, but she watched me all day. Hinata fainted. The only one with any sense was Ino, and all she could think about was dressing up whichever girl had me in a slump. I couldn't decide if I should rofl or behead her. Perhaps both.

Okay. I lied.

Kakashi-sensei had that razor black gaze on me without fail, every time I dared to look. But I didn't dare often. Kakashi knew too much without being told, looked and really saw, and even if he hadn't, his Hatake lineage had bequeathed him with beautiful inky eyes, the black of liquid onyx. And the similarity to the Uchiha eyes – and particularly Sasuke's, filled with the hazy vapour of lust – was too much for me to bear.

So, at the end of the mission brief, after we had spent the day sorting out battle plans, backup plans, approach plans and stealth plans, when Shikamaru was the last to leave me with my Sensei, I was afraid. Afraid that he would find out – afraid that somehow, whatever it was that had caused my mind (or possibly my hormones) to spin out of control and snare me with the little slice of sin I called Sasuke, Kakashi had caught sight of it. And my fear proved grounded. Kakashi had indeed seen it, and after seeing it, he had pondered it.

But the first words out of his mouth calmed me so I felt like burned timber, flaking apart in his metaphysical hands.

"You don't need to fear me, Naruto. I am your Sensei and your friend, and I'm here to help you. With everything," he stated, clearly and precisely as he leaned against a pillar. It was a normal stance for him – a relaxed, unobtrusive slant of his body against something much more solid – but his stare was more alive than usual. It was always sharp, and bright, but it had always seemed to me that Kakashi-sensei had a blunt quality about him. As if he'd locked down on his emotional filigree and it had deadened the edges of his soul. I could think of many possible reasons why, none very likely, but forced to guess I would always come to the same conclusion: he didn't want to feel what resided at the fringes of his self.

Slowly, I raised my glittering sapphire eyes to his, and for some reason it did not surprise me to see both. His mismatched eyes; one the fire of blood and the other the darkness that fuelled it.

"But how can I trust you with something I don't even trust myself with?" I questioned. I wasn't, at the time, at all sure what my words really meant, but they tumbled out of my mouth before I could think of them. Flashes of my dream skittered through me, and for the first time that day I felt the wind dance across my bare arms – my jacket… Sasuke's jacket… left at home.

My old sensei shifted, and I noticed that his head wasn't tipped forward like it usually was; instead, he was looking straight at me. Levelly. Like I was his equal. "Tell me when I've ever let you down in the past," he challenged me. Blinking, I lowered my azure gaze to my feet, thinking seriously about his question.

There were so many ways I could respond to his words. I could tell him about the time we'd faced Sasuke under the bridge where Danzo had been slain, but even as the thought formed in my mind I pictured how it had happened. The chaos when Kakashi had tried to take his responsibility as Sasuke's sensei and I had pushed him aside, claiming the responsibility as Sasuke's greatest friend – his greatest rival. I was the one who had let him get away, and I had been the one who had to face him then. I could see it behind my eyes, clear as the pavement I was looking at; the snarl on my almost-brother's face and milky colour his eyes had become. His Mangékyo had finally caught up to him. He'd been going blind. He couldn't even see me properly – I'd felt it in his blows. The faintest hesitancy born of uncertainty – something his strikes had never held before.

Kakashi-sensei hadn't let us down there.

I could have told him about the time Sasuke ran away, when I was part of Shikamaru's team to retrieve him. He hadn't been there. But I knew that nothing would have changed if he had been. Perhaps we would have found Sasuke a little bit sooner. Perhaps those Sound Four would have died quicker, and less painfully. Perhaps the Sand Siblings wouldn't have been called upon.

But, ultimately, I still would have battled Sasuke Uchiha in the Valley of the End, and I still would have lost. Though perhaps he would have killed me then and truly made it the end.

No, Kakashi-sensei had not let us down. Regardless of all the situations I thought of when he wasn't there, never had he actually let us down. He'd always been there when we really needed him. And when he'd refused, it had always been better for us anyway. Nothing our silver-haired, dual-eyed, ex-Anbu jo̅nin of a sensei had ever done could have been said to be letting us down.

"I can't," I admitted, raising my head again to look at him. "I can't think of a single time you've let me down, Sensei," I told him honestly.

"Then what leads you to believe that I will now? It doesn't have to be a fight with your fists, Naruto, but I can help you with your battles."

A careful, slightly sorrowful smile touched my face. As always, my sensei had not let me down.

"You don't have to tell me what it is that's bothering you," he continued, still leaning comfortably against the pillar, "but know that I would listen to you." With a dip of his head, he pushed himself off his pillar and turned to leave.

"Sensei…. Wait," I murmured, still watching him with fearfully. He turned back to look at me, standing straight. I'd never seen him stand all the way up before; he was always leaning, fighting or slumping. He was a lot taller than I'd realised. Abandoning all sense of caution, I looked into his eyes – his uneven, red and black eyes – and said, "I had a dream…."

My moment of courage passed, and I dropped my gaze again. I was sure he would question me, and once the truth came spilling from my lips, I was sure he would condemn me. I would have condemned me, had I been in his position.

"What was this dream about?" he asked calmly, resuming his tranquil lean against the white pillar.

"…Nothing important," I mumbled, looking away from him. What was I thinking? I couldn't tell my sensei about a dream where I was kissing his other, now-a-rogue-nin apprentice. I was totally mad!

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kakashi frown slightly. Oh no. "You've never been one to lie, Naruto," he reminded me gently, and I flinched. I couldn't help it. Lying to my sensei wasn't something I enjoyed doing, but…. "It must have been some dream," he added seriously.

I took a deep breath. I could do this. I could tell him. There was no condemnation in his voice, only a light concern that I hadn't noticed before. He wasn't going to judge me like anyone else would – like Sakura would have. "It was about… Sasuke," I said, hearing the panther say my name as I spoke his. I shivered slightly, even though the light breeze wasn't cold. Kakashi-sensei, both eyes open, wouldn't have missed it – I knew enough about Sharingan to know that – but he didn't comment. I was thankful to him for it.

But I could tell he didn't quite understand yet. "Was it about bringing him back, or… when you fought?" Even I knew he was talking about when I fought the living sin Uchiha heir in the Valley of the End. That was a fight that no one but the two of us knew, even now.

"No," I replied slowly, but I didn't feel as uncomfortable anymore. I was able to raise my head and look at my sensei. Granted, I didn't meet his eyes, but I wasn't looking down anymore. I couldn't meet those eyes – one inky black and the other Sharingan red. They were too similar to Sasuke's, reminded me too much of staring into his possessive gaze. "It was about…." I stopped. I didn't know how to say it.

Kakashi frowned again. I could see it through the mask; an ability gained through years of working closely with the man, of training under him and becoming his friend. He wasn't angry, though – he tended to glare when he was angry, not frown. He was worried. "Did he kill you?" he tried, trying to decipher the puzzle I was presenting him with. He had said that I didn't have to tell him, but he was interested now. Despite myself, I smiled. I always did know how to get myself into a fix. I had only just begun to shake my blond head, but Kakashi-sensei was already speaking again. "Did you kill him?" he asked seriously, real and obvious concern blazing in his eyes – it was the same in each, despite the different background it burned upon.

My head shot up, and I looked at him in horror. I think that, normally, my reaction wouldn't have gotten away from me like that, but I couldn't stop it in time then. Not to Kakashi-sensei, anyway. Before, when I'd spoken of killing Sasuke and dying by his hand at the same time…. There had always been a reason I'd included my own death. Despite my words, my confidence, despite how I spoke about it… I didn't think I could live with myself if it came down to me killing Sasuke. But I knew that I'd have to do it, if it actually ever did.

So, I'd decided that should I have to kill him, he should have to kill me to. And if, by some miracle, I survived such an encounter, I'd find a way to die.

But now, even that less-than-elegant solution horrified me. I guess it was because of the dream – as everything that day seemed to be – but I couldn't even begin to contemplate killing him now. My own death notwithstanding, if Sasuke wasn't on this planet, if I didn't have my own little piece of sin to call friend, to call foe, then what was the point of it all?

I realised then, we needed something to make our lives meaningful. As a race, humans can't simply exist and enjoy it, like the rest of the creatures of the world. Perhaps that was why we were so destructive. And creative. We needed the pain to make the pleasure worthwhile, not the other way around.

But most of all, most of us needed to not know that. Somehow, I was one of the few who needed to be aware of it. And so was the solemn man who watched me realise this. The only difference between us was that he'd known it for years.

I felt no fear of Kakashi-sensei's reaction now, realising what he'd known long ago.

"No," I whispered. "Honestly, I don't think I could kill him," I added. I was prepared for the surprise that widened his eyes, and I laughed softly at him, the sound melancholy in my throat. "Well, I guess I could," I corrected myself, still smiling gently at him. "But I couldn't live with myself knowing I had."

The surprise faded from Kakashi-sensei's expression, and understanding took its place. It was a cool look, calm and almost serene. "It's a hard thing, to kill your teammate," he said, and I smiled at him properly. I hadn't really expected Kakashi to understand me when I'd started this conversation, but now that he was, I realised that it really couldn't have gone any other way. My sensei had been through a lot in his life, even though he wasn't yet thirty years of age. "So then what did happen in your dream?" he asked me, and for the first time I wondered why he was watching me with both eyes.

It seemed right for the conversation, somehow, and yet it began to bother me. But I let it go, because it wasn't important; he was my sensei. He wouldn't harm me.

"Sasuke kissed me," I told him in a low voice.

I didn't really know what I expected. Perhaps reprimand. Perhaps shocked spluttering. Maybe I expected him to ask me if it was because of how we'd accidentally kissed when we'd first been teamed together, all those wistful years ago. What I most certainly wasn't expecting was what I got though.

Kakashi-sensei blinked at me, once, and then hummed. "Oh. I see." That was all he said for a while, just thinking about it. He just thought. It was nice, somehow; a companionable silence.

Then, finally: "Do you think of him like that?"

"What?" I yelped, looking up at him in astonishment. "No! Of course not! He…" my voice died. I didn't… did I? No, of course not. Sasuke was practically my brother, I couldn't look at him that way…. Images from my dream drifted past my eyes. Feelings I'd felt. The lust I'd tried to deny when Sasuke's liquid obsidian eyes had been so close to mine, the shot of adrenalin as he'd kissed me. Even before that. I could feel my body shaking in my real present, adrenalin lancing through it as my mind said it should, but for a second, all I could see was Sasuke's eyes, closed as he kissed me. I could count every one of his pitch-black lashes, only an inch from my eyes.

The world returned to me. "I don't know," I amended my answer.

There seemed to be something Kakashi wanted to say to me. I could sense it. The air was heavy with it, surrounding us like a dense fog. I didn't know what his mind, in some ways as twisted as mine, had led him to, but he seemed to be seriously considering not saying it.

"Spit it out, Sensei," I told him, gesturing for him to speak. "Maybe it's important."

He looked up at me, startled, but then he smiled again. "You know It now, don't you?" he asked me. It was the oddest thing he'd ever said to me – and that was a hot contest, trust me – but at the same time, I could understand why he'd asked. If I did, then what he thought would be confirmed, because if I did I would know exactly what he was talking about. If I didn't, then it could mean anything, and I'd be none the wiser.

I dipped my head. "Yes, Sensei. I realised It."

He smiled sadly. Then, without waiting to think about it any longer, he spat it out. "What would you feel if it were the only way of bringing him back?"

I stopped. I just stopped. It was like freezing, only my mind simply ceased thinking for those moments. Then, my mouth rebooting the fastest, I blurted, "What? What the heck do you mean?" I didn't mean it to come out like that, but it did. I just didn't understand – how could that be the answer I'd been looking for? Wouldn't I have found it….

But I just had, hadn't I?

"I mean," Kakashi said slowly, "that the whole reason he left…. He left us because he felt that his revenge was more important than anything else. The truth of that matter is, none of us were able to give him a good enough reason to stay." I stared at him, my blood running cold at his words. Because as he said it, I wanted to deny it – and I couldn't. I couldn't find the words. There were no words, because he was right. Sasuke hadn't had enough of a reason to stay with us. So he'd left.

What reason had Sakura given him? The desperate pleas of a young girl, blinded by her own obsession. That was enough to drive anyone mad, not persuade them to stay. I'd used to do the same to her myself, and look where that had gotten me. What reason had Kakashi-sensei given him? Probably the best out of all of us. I didn't know the extent of it, but I know he'd talked to Sasuke, and there had been plenty of training exercises where Sakura and I had been absent for them to talk. That hadn't been enough.

And what reason had I given him? A constant, grating desire to be better than him. It had been all well and good when he'd easily put me in my place, but as I'd gotten stronger, he'd started to see the things I could be capable of. And still, I didn't let up on him. I'd hounded and hounded and the only thing I'd ever done for him was to force him to prove that he could keep up with me, and what had that done for him? It had battered his ego when I'd grown stronger, made him feel that he wasn't strong enough to accomplish anything he wanted to. He had been perfectly powerful – he would have become so much more so in time. But instead, I'd pushed and pushed. And in response he'd given into something he never should have, to try and strive for enough power to beat me soundly. I hadn't understood him then. But I understood him now.

I just had to let him feel powerful. He panicked when he didn't. That was just who he was.

"All we've been trying to do lately is make him come back," Kakashi continued. "Of our will, not his. That wouldn't work on us, why have we been stupid enough to think it would work on someone like Sasuke Uchiha?" he added. I flinched. Kakashi's voice was harsher than I'd expected, but he wasn't just talking to me. He was talking to himself too, angry with his own poor judgement. But I couldn't claim to have chosen any better, and I should have. I knew Sasuke better than anybody else.

"We have to give him a reason to come home," I finished my sensei's line of thought. "One good enough that he'd abandon his Avenger's quest."

Kakashi looked at me solemnly. "What has he been shown since Itachi murdered his Clan?" he asked me. I blinked at him; what kind of a question was that? But, I'd learned that it was better to just try and answer his questions, so I thought about it. What had the Leaf Village – the man's home – shown Sasuke since he'd been victimised by his older brother?

Well, I know that there had been so much gossip about him right after it happened that I'd gotten sick of hearing his name. I know that almost every girl on the face of the Earth had tried to get him to like them with their weird, stalkerish habits and squee-ing. What did that even mean, anyway? And I knew that everyone else had viewed him as an outcast, a loner. They'd avoided him almost like they'd avoided me. Given the option to walk on my side of the street or his, most people had chosen to get run over. Only the senseis had loved him, and only in an academic sense. Outside of his ninja prowess, they'd dodged him just as much as everyone else. After the Uchiha Massacre, he'd had pretty much the same life as I had.

Only Sasuke had achieved and achieved and achieved and vowed vengeance in ways that I never had.

But, now that I thought about it, no one had shown him any real love. Iruka-sensei had saved me, proving that he cared and would risk his life for mine. I'd known that, finally, I really mattered. It had changed me. Now that I mattered to that one person, I couldn't let him down. And after that, I'd gained more and more people who I couldn't let down. All because one person had taken the plunge and believed in me when no one else would.

But Sasuke hadn't had that. He'd had no one but himself to believe in him, to not let down. And he hadn't. Even now, he hadn't let himself down. But now that he had people who needed him, he didn't know how to handle us.

But, in all the years I'd known him, I'd never seen anyone show him a simple, unconditional love. I knew his parents must have… I hoped. Not all parents got that part right. But I'd never seen it given to him. Not even from Kakashi-sensei. I looked up sharply, ready to point that out to him – even though I knew that I myself was no better than him – but the words died on my lips as I saw the look on my sensei's face.

He was already condemning himself. He didn't need me to do it for him. "Kakashi-sensei…. How do I…. How do I show him?" I asked, feeling my own inadequacy fill my throat as I tried to talk clearly.

"You know how. You've tried every other way to prove it to him. You even offered to die with him."

Kakashi-sensei's words hit me like a sledgehammer, and suddenly I saw everything I'd ever said to Sasuke differently. When I'd told him that if I killed him, I'd die too – I hadn't meant what I thought I had. Even then, I'd already seen what I had to do and what it would cost me, I just hadn't realised it. Though Sakura would never know, and Kakashi hadn't realised until he'd heard my dream, I had already felt, somewhere, that his death would result in mine. But not that he would be the one to kill me. That's what we'd all thought I'd meant, but… I hadn't.

This was what I'd meant.

"There's no other way, is there?" I asked, meeting my old friend's gaze with my blistery blizzard blue one. I didn't cry, but I was sad. Sad that it would have to come to this. That Sasuke had been so isolated that the only way to reach him would be to sacrifice my love for Sakura. That the only way I could prove to him – no, even just show him – that even before I realised it had to be this way, he'd been my best friend and I had loved him unconditionally, was to make it into something even he couldn't ignore or misunderstand.

But the thing that made it the most real was that, contemplating my fate, I realised I was willing. Sasuke, my friend, meant enough to me that I was going to willingly give up my admittedly slim chances with Sakura – the girl I had loved since before I was twelve – in order to bring him back home. Willingly sacrifice Sakura's love for him in order to bring him back to us. In order to make him choose us, choose life. And I knew that it meant that, if need be, I would fight every single person in the Village to keep him alive. I already loved him – it was only a question of choosing to love him in a different manner to the one I did now. And that wouldn't be all too hard. I knew what I was doing, and I knew why.

But I didn't know how it would tilt the world around us, and I didn't know if we'd all survive it.

"But how do I know it will work? How can I believe it enough myself that he will too?" I asked desperately, hoping that my incredible sensei would, as he always had, have the magical answer for me.

Slowly, Kakashi approached me. His Sharingan spun, stunning me motionless. He was powerful. I could feel that washing over me like a waterfall I had failed to break. Then, just as slowly, he raised a hand and touched the tips of two fingers to my chest – I could feel his soft heat through my thin black top, resting just by my heart.

"By remembering that, in his quest for revenge, you are the only one he ever spared."

Pain erupted in my body as a rush of foreign, lightning white chakra blew into me, and the last thing I remember about that day is a spinning whirl of black and red, shadow and blood, and the feeling of weightless gravity pulling me down.


I was exploding.

This time, I had kissed him. I had pushed him up against a wall and ripped through his clothing with a ferocity I had thought only the Kyuubi within me could express. I had strewn his midnight garb with mine and let go of all control. This time, I had walked – unarmed and unshielded – straight into the lion's den, and I had no intention of walking out again.

I wanted him back and now, because I'd chosen to sacrifice so much in order to achieve that, I needed him back.

"Why?" he asked me once I released his mouth, hell in the form of heaven, from under mine. I couldn't think of an immediate answer. But I did stop my assault on him, my attempt to make him understand how I felt now. How much I loved him and that he could return with me, and I would never judge him or condemn him. Instead, I took a step away from the panther that roamed my mind and examined him. He was still clad in his pants, though I could have torn them off without resistance. His smooth, moonlight chest gleamed with a thin film of sweat, adorning his milky alabaster skin like tiny diamonds.

His cheeks weren't flushed – indeed, I had begun to wonder if his face was capable of holding colour – but his eyes were bright with a gleam usually only seen during fever, his pupils tiny pricks of black within a lighter black that was, nonetheless, deeper in some way. He was lean enough and slender enough that I could see the skin on his neck fluttering frantically over his pulse, and each quick draw of oxygen past those velvety lips raked against my ears, but I was not overwhelmed. He had asked, and I would answer. And until I could give a satisfactory response, he would remain beyond my grasp; a mere ghost to my fingers.

"I need to bring you back home. And if I am the price for that, then so be it," I finally said. White fire sparked in the pools of dark sin Sasuke had for eyes, and he lunged for me. This time I let him. I was the price. And I would pay it.

This time, I would show him everything he needed to be shown to forgive himself.

Never before had I laid eyes on a guy and felt desire. But he could bring anyone to their knees. He had brought me to mine. And as I let my sensitivity mingle with my recklessness and my tongue slid up his exposed belly to his neck, his jaw, his lips and his feline teeth, I found myself bringing him to his.

And then, in the second of infinity that existed while I dreamt, I gave Sasuke the only thing that would appease him; I paid the price that only I could.

I became the bounty that was worth his revenge.


And there you have it. ^^ My take on the Naruto-Sasuke relationship. I hope you like it!

Note; Please Review! I'd like to know if this idea is believable. And also whether I should write a sequel! ^^

Arigato!