A. N. here it is, chapter 5. Sorry for being late, I actually forgot I haven't updated the last part yet.
Naruto put the chopsticks aside, wiped his mouth with a napkin and turned on the stool to face her.
"What can I do for you, Koto-san?"
Her expression faltered a bit. "It's Kotohime, Naruto-san." She put the subtle smile on.
The blond grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head. "Sorry, I've never been good with names..."
"It's alright, I... I wanted to speak with you, privately." The girl sounded reluctant and unsure.
As the chuunin blinked and kept a neutral face, he wondered what sort of trap that mad female had prepared for him. He'd never believe she simply wanted to talk. It wasn't obvious but they hated each other's guts. Since the incident where she tried to seduce Jiraiya and Kakashi, on the mission investigating Orochimaru's connection to the Rice Country, he developed a dislike for the girl that had no self respect but had wide ambitions. She, on the other hand, could not tolerate his behaviour towards her and his ability to discard her charms, so they became silent, distant enemies. Add to that the whole fiancée business fiasco and his involvement in that, and their relationship grew claws and teeth. "Uh, ok. What do you want to talk about?"
She sighed softly, like a patient, kind and polite heiress. "Privately." She repeated, emphasising the word.
Naruto made a stupid face and nodded. Stupid woman, cannot get the hint I don't wanna go anywhere to have a private conversation with her? He slurped the rest of the bowl without any manners, pointedly ignoring that he was in the company of the girl and put the money on the counter. He stood up and when Koto stood as well, he motioned with his hand for her to lead the way, gave a quiet thanks to the stand owners and followed the bitch outside. Well, whatever she wants and whatever plan she has, I can deal with it. Let her believe I'm not aware of the nature of her visit.
"Where are we going?" He asked casually, placing his hands in pockets. Notably, the girl's hair shone in the light of the day, giving her appearance more appeal. If he didn't know that she could kill with those, he'd be admiring the way strands of her hair moved in slight wind. She had a pretty face, pale skin. Those qualities must've impressed the elders of the Uchiha clan. She was pretty and polite, from a family of lower standing and weaker blood, so, the best of candidates. ...But she was bloody insane.
"There is one place in this village that inspires me. It's quiet, nice. We will not be disturbed, Naruto-san." She answered softly.
The blond frowned at the inspiring part, but decided to humour her and follow the script.
They passed the main streets and districts. Sooner than later, Naruto had an idea where she wanted them to go, and his brows went up to his hairline in surprise. He didn't expect that choice of all the places, but had to admit that the move was smart. No one would look for him in there, and the area had interesting strategical points. They entered the Konoha Cemetery, empty of visitors at the moment. It had been quite awhile since he had been in here. There was only one name he cared about, but he visited them only once, unable to do it again. Well, he wasn't here for reminiscing, Naruto shook his head and paid attention to the failed fiancée. She walked a bit deeper among the tombs and statues and stopped.
He stopped several steps behind her, paying attention to every twitch and turn of her body. "A cemetery? Are we visiting someone?" He asked with a very subtle, barely heard mocking tone.
She turned around with a flourish, intentionally, most probably, and made a sad face. "I know it might seem awkward, but I want to apologize."
He didn't expect her to say that. He didn't believe her either. "For what?" He asked dumbly, pretending to be oblivious.
Koto looked down at her feet. "I realized that my attitude toward you and Itachi-san was unacceptable, I realized it too late, I admit, but I'd like to apologize still. I was trying to seduce him knowing that he already was in a relationship with you. It was, awful of me, and you had to tolerate my approaching him without your consent." Her voice was sincere, a bit too much, for a woman that chased his man, the blond observed.
"Ok, I, uh... accept your apologies. Is that all?" Naruto spoke, trying to keep his eyes from dancing around in search of the hidden trap.
The pretty girl shifted a bit in place and then raised her eyes to look at him. "I still cannot comprehend what he sees in you. You don't have the charm, manners, grace nor the intelligence worthy of him."
Ah, here's the honest speech. "Yeah, must see something else in me." The boy replied a bit cheekily. He knew that if there was anything Itachi saw in him it was exactly his graceless manners and free attitude.
Koto didn't look like she accepted the answer and scowled, revealing the expression that suited her far better than all the princess stuff, now, if only her dress was as red as the glint in her eyes...
"That is all I wanted to speak of." She huffed, gathered her dignity and started to walk away.
"Do you want me to accompany you on the way into the village?" The blond asked, politely but without any warmth.
"No." She bit out, passing him without a glance. He shrugged and looked around while hearing her walk away. The cemetery was quiet, bathed in the afternoon light. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time. He frowned, trying to get the point of that girl leading him to this place. Making an apology suited the girl that was ashamed of her actions, was afraid to speak in the presence of others, but Naruto knew better than to believe Koto was that kind of person.
A shimmer in the air around him put him on guard and before he knew it, his body was surrounded by webs. Spider webs? That's familiar...
He made a step back and bent to avoid the close proximity of the stings, but all of the sudden, those moved too fast and coiled around his body, restraining his movements.
At that moment, a guy he recognized from a past encounter emerged from behind a bigger grave structure, and smirked at the blond with satisfaction. Bald head, wide brows, a scar over the right eye, and dark skin. What a sight, Naruto thought. The enemy walked closer. "Caught in the web. Didn't think you'd fall for it that easily." The guy spoke.
Naruto tried to move a bit but found the threads to be too tight. "Would you mind releasing me... ? Sorry, don't remember your name. Must've been insignificant..." His tone was serious and contemplative.
Jigumo, a name the blond actually remembered but decided to grate on the man's nerves, scowled at the remark and spat little ugly spiders Naruto's way. At the sight, the boy paled and automatically tried to move away, that didn't work though, and little dark insects crawled on his body. Instantly, questions popped in Naruto's mind. Were those poisonous? Would they bite? What did he remember from meeting this guy before? What tactic did he use then? Has he developed the new technique? Had he actually waited for Koto to leave so he could attack, were they together in on the scheme?
Meanwhile, a wide grin grew on Jigumo's face as he watched Naruto's desperate attempt to escape. "If you don't remember my name by now, then it's Fuuma Jigumo, blondie. Keep it in mind as you die."
A sharp object hit the side of the scarred guy, abruptly and forcefully, and he lost his concentration, falling to the side on the ground.
"Sorry, I'm a bit too young to die." The voice spoke from above. Jigumo shrugged the doubles from his sight off and glanced up to see the blond. Confused he slowly turned and looked at the blond entangled in his trap, and found that either he was still seeing double, or there were actually two of the blonds.
Seeing his attacker's dilemma, the chuunin rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers, an action that dispelled the clone trapped in webs. The last expression on the clone's face was that of relief, it seemed he was glad he was tortured by spiders no longer.
Jigumo moved to grab the blond's leg, but didn't see the other one already move. A hard kick to the stomach stopped his advance, and the second kick stopped all thoughts and intentions. He had never expected the boy to have such strength in one limb. A knee pressed the man's body to the ground, and a hand tightened on his throat as a tip of the blade found its way closer to his neck. Slight drops of sweat started forming on the dark skin.
"I knew there was more to leading me to this place. I'm not stupid. As if I'd follow any enemy of mine without precaution." Naruto laughed a bit, pleased with himself and glad that his prediction proved true. "Before I knock you out and make sure you and your whole clan are in the biggest trouble possible, I'd like to confirm the motive behind your attack."
The man sneered and kept quiet. Naruto pressed the sharp tip closer. "Well?"
"Fuck you." Jigumo grit through clenched teeth.
"Bad answer." The blond replied and squeezed the throat in his hand. He was sure that if he pressured the guy enough, he'd give in and spill something useful, Koto's involvement, for example. Imagination wild, Naruto saw how Uchiha clan reacted to such news. Surely after such an act they'd sever any deals with Fuuma clan! He was adopted into the family and ambushing him for any reason was like declaring a war. Whatever fate awaited the clan, it would not be pretty. It's not like he hated them, that Hanzaki guy was funny and cared about his family, and Sasame and few others were actually decent, but if making their life harder released Itachi from the bind and gave Naruto peace, he'd go for it without hesitating.
Jigumo wriggled and thrashed in the tight hold and under the weight of the blond. He had no access to air and his lungs were burning. Naruto loosened his grasp somewhat, afraid that he'd kill the man but not willing to give him any chance to get away.
And then somehow, the guy turned the tables. One moment Naruto was enjoying himself and interrogating the attacker, and the next, he was forcefully thrown into an illusion of sorts. 'Cause from where else could those walls come from? His fall wasn't pleasant and his surroundings lost shape, as colourful, angled walls held him within. Angry, Naruto closed his eyes, focused and stopped his chakra flow, then released the pulse to disrupt the genjutsu, but as he opened the lids a moment later, the thing was still in place. But if it wasn't genjutsu, then what? Confused and puzzled about walls seeming smaller with each second he processed his predicament, he charged the wall with kunai that was still gripped in his hand, only to be rebound from the seemingly unbreakable structure. Shocked and puzzled, he realized that he felt an unusual amount of chakra emanating from the walls, hinting that it was a powerful ninjutsu. And then walls were becoming smaller, and smaller... the blond bent as he could no longer stay straightened, and noticed that walls formed a triangle with him trapped within. Another trap? How? He didn't let that guy form any jutsu, unless...
His heart started beating faster, recognizing the danger. He had to get out before it was too late. Improvising, Naruto reached for his pouch and pulled out another knife, then he coated it in a layer of wind chakra to make the edge extra sharp. A little voice in his head said that if the first attempt at breaking the wall did not work, then the second is useless, but he had to try, didn't he? Naruto hit the barrier, noting that the space was now so narrow that he could not accelerate the move. Outwardly scowling and inwardly panicking, the blond repeated the action several times, only to see that the colourful barrier was unbreakable. And it was getting narrower still.
Curling his body further, the boy felt fear reach every fibber of his being as any idea that popped in his panicked mind was discarded. He could not use his usual ninjutsu as the technique would be too weak, could not use the powerful one as seal sequence would take too long to form and if failed, would probably backfire. Replacing himself with anything did not work as the walls were made of chakra, which prevented him from connecting his own chakra with anything outside. Strength and weapons were useless, and he did not have any fuuin tricks! Unless you took the exploding tag into account, but he suspected that using it equalled blowing himself up.
The space inside the cage was so small that Naruto felt the walls press his limbs closer to his torso. His muscles hurt, strained, and bones felt like any more pressure would break them. He was bruising and tightening and was so trapped! Did they actually plan to kill him?
The size of the pyramid like space could not be any smaller, it seemed, but before Naruto knew it, it narrowed again. He screamed in pain as his ankles twisted, his legs no longer fitting in length. Am I going to die, like this? Smashed by the stupid barrier jutsu? Turned into the pile of meat and bones? Recognized later by clothes?
His emotions were so messed up, in the mix of fear, pain, hatred and helplessness, that he felt an empty sob escape him. Naruto held his head close to his chest, hoping to keep it from being crashed, though a fleeting thought said that he better let it be crushed before he was tortured to the point of dying.
They actually aim to kill me...
The sound of knees snapping right next to his ears was far worse than the actual pain of it. He had his bones break on missions, in training and other stupid situations, but the realization that something else was next, until only his middle was left, hit him like a mental ton of bricks. A burning sensation from his belly said that chakra of the fox was moving out, but the pressure was bigger, and he almost absently wondered if the beast's power was also nothing against that barrier.
Would I have ever used such a technique on anybody, torturing them and breaking their body? Whoever is using it on me, is that person deriving sadistic pleasure from killing me in this slow, painful way?
The pumpıng of blood was loud ın hıs ears, and he felt the wall push his skull, bend his spine and crush his elbows.
Ideas and thoughts flew from his mind as only pain was left. The last thing he saw before closing his eyes was the red hue of chakra that instead of pushing the walls of the cage away, burned his skin. Behind the lids, his tear-filled eyes burned. Did he close them permanently? A snap of one elbow, he screamed so hard his throat hurt. Some of those broken bones were out, beyond the protecting layer of skin. The feeling was new, uncomfortable, unsettling. Don't wanna die, don't wanna die, don't want to!...
He felt wet, was it sweat covering his deforming body? or blood... The distant feeling of dripping and tiny streams here and there rather gave an idea of blood.
The burning increased, or maybe that was just his imagination. With all the pain and pressure he couldn't tell anymore.
And then another thought hit him.
If I am a mess of broken bones and a dying body, then Itachi is the same way, wherever he is, whatever he's doing, whoever he's with. Oh Kami, please, don't let him die because of me! It's me in this fucking cage and not him! What if he was with Sasuke? He wanted to spend time with him... They didn't have a lot of time together because of the mess I started...
The blond cried, realizing that if he was going to the other side, he was inadvertently taking his best friend with him. His feet made a disturbing sound, not mentioning hurting in the way he haven't experienced, and snapped too. This time he screamed inaudibly, just kept his mouth open as no sound came out, and no air moved in. A tiny, conscious part of him felt pity for his self. Why me, again? What the fuck did I do? Another tear that felt like it was hot, burning even, slid down his tense face. He thought he even felt his cheek trembling.
Bastards, if I could just get out... I'd rip them all apart with my bare hands... All of them... backstabbers... traitors...
A gleeful laugh filled his ears. But his almost absent mind could not understand where it came from, from beyond the trap? From him, his own mouth, as a result of hysteria? Or from within?
Come on, die already, it hurts too much... the blond mentally muttered, tiredly, to himself and gave in to the pain filling him everywhere from the inside out.
As medics gathered around Itachi's thrashing, curling and screaming body, Sasuke could only watch and clutch his brother's shirt in his hand so tightly, his knuckles turned white. When bones pierced the skin of his limbs, the chuunin tore the young man's shirt to pieces to stop the blood from flowing, and tried setting the bones back in place in any way possible, but Itachi was just wriggling and fighting him, as if not realizing who was beside him.
Sasuke acted automatically, too shocked to be rational, to be thinking. Sasame even tried to help, using what little physical strength she had to keep Itachi from hurting himself, but the jounin continued to writhe and fight whoever came close. Anbu squad and medics quickly appeared on the scene that gathered witnesses and restrained the movements of the tormented, screaming man. Sasuke was pushed aside, useless. The girl that tried to warn them about Naruto was beside him, shaken and speechless, unable to rise from the kneeling position on the ground. Absently, Sasuke noted that her appearance was blood covered, and slowly turning his eyes to his own clothes, saw that those were soaked too. He was so stiff he could barely move, his body did not want to obey. Was it what true shock felt like? They were so useless, helpless now as they could only watch...
Another rasped, hoarse scream pierced the air and Sasuke felt his heart literally clench in responsive pain. How did they hurt his brother? It wasn't possible to break someone's body from afar, without coming in contact with it, unless it was poison or had any sort of chakra involvement. Sasuke's sharingan was active all the time and he looked for the clues, but did not find any! It was surreal.
He was angry that no one spoke of what was happening. Medics just pushed him away and anbu said to let them do their job and stay quiet. He was angry because Kakashi left without a glance back, and he still didn't know if his other, blond brother was safe.
Fighting the stiffness of his body, Sasuke grabbed the girl's arm and pulled her up roughly, unable to accept that he stood still and didn't do anything to act. "I don't know... if you're safe from your family or not, but we better not take any risks." He addressed her and decided to drag her to the district and keep her with someone who would make sure she didn't run nor was attacked in retaliation. That'd take time and keep him occupied while other capable people took care of his brothers. Sasuke moved away from the scene, keeping his gaze on the backs of the crowd of people around his sibling, and at that moment, the crowd was abruptly dispersed, as those closest to Itachi forcefully fell behind on their comrades. He stopped, surprised at the growing commotion and tried to take a step closer instinctively. More shouting and disturbance took place and then his heartbeat quickened and eyes opened widely, because he had an uncanny feeling that whatever mass of chakra was gathering in the centre of the crowd, was malicious, thick and highly dangerous.
Shinobi present started making quick hand signs to communicate with each other and before the chuunin knew it, his older brother, who seemed to be incapacitated moments before, was wildly attacking people surrounding him. His appearance was awful, bloody, torn and gleaming with sick, dark blue mist of chakra that coated his form. He made no words but growling sounds, like a furious beast that was let out of the cage.
He'd never seen him like this. The only person he's ever seen remotely resembling this behaviour was Naruto, and that was when he used the bijuu's power. The chakra was red then, not blue, pupils slated, not spinning with revealed doujutsu, and there were always claws, definitely claws, sharp and just as dangerous as those of a wild animal. Itachi retained his human appearance, but his behaviour was far from it. Whoever tried to get close, seemed to aggravate and provoke him into attacking, while medics cried that he was not to be injured further, as they feared for his physical, not yet healed, state.
Maybe it was stupid, mindless and totally out of character, but Sasuke could not fight the urge to be there for his suffering brother. It did not matter that the young man might be out of his mind and incoherent, the boy left the girl in place and threw himself into the fray of unsettled ninja that could not tame the beast his brother had become.
Not a few seconds later he squished the hurt he felt when Itachi did not recognize him and treated him with the same rage and bestiality as everyone else. Why did it remind him of Naruto so much? And what was the source of this horrific and ridiculous situation anyway?
Itachi really was one of the strongest jounin in the village. He almost screwed the neck of unlucky, masked anbu guy if desperate Sasuke hadn't grabbed his brother in a tight, caging grip. He screamed for Itachi to come back to his senses but the words fell on deaf ears, useless. And the mere feeling of the powerful energy the young man exuded burnt the boy who touched him and left him dizzy and nauseous. He knew that Itachi had lots of chakra reserves, but to actually radiate with such power? He'd never showed anything like this. If anything, many people still believed that the young man was the master of genjutsu, not ninjutsu and taijutsu.
Seeing Itachi like this, unrecognizable, broken, dirty, bloodied and wild was unbearable. Even as he fought, he was swaying on his feet, as if he was the last man standing on the battlefield, fighting the enemy to the last of his breath. Some of his bones and muscles clearly were not mended yet, but the jounin stubbornly stood his ground, incoherent and blind with rage, but capable of delivering damage.
Kakashi was glad that he had high self control. A cold, emotionless, careless jounin, people said. Those who knew him better could see behind the carefree behaviour, where hid the man that lived past the experiences that moulded him into a soldier. He was human still, of course. He had emotions, he just used the stone exterior so much and for so long, that he was incapable of acting outside of it. At that moment, Kakashi was thankful for it. Imagining that someone was killing his student right that minute somewhere, almost made his heart stop. Seeing Itachi and realizing what his state meant, it was like receiving a punch in the face, and he could not give one back. On the other hand, if it wasn't for Naruto's connection to the Uchiha heir, they wouldn't have known that something was happening to the blond, and possibly, when they found Naruto, it could be too late. But, the jounin's conscience pinched him, if the blond actually died, the young man would unfairly follow. Not a right moment to remember why I have strained relations with the Sandaime.
Somewhere in the back of the man's mind was the thought that Sasuke shouldn't have been left with his brother, but this thought had no priority, as finding the blond was more important. In mission mode, he followed the group of his ninken to the cemetery, a detail that put him on guard. It wasn't frequently visited, which made it a good possible ambush spot. Did they bring Naruto here after catching him or was he led here with trickery?
It was strange that he could not hear the sounds of battle, didn't the boy fight back? Did they exploit his weakness, genjutsu?
As he got closer, Kakashi felt a high concentration of chakra and frowning in puzzlement, uncovered his other eye to fully prepare for what lay ahead. Before long, his ninken threw themselves on the enemy that appeared in sight, without missing a beat, clawing and biting every bit of flesh they could reach. Kakashi could see two members of Fuuma clan and a pyramid like structure of sorts that was the source of chakra and his concern. Thinking quickly, he assumed that only one of attackers formed and controlled the unknown technique, therefore he was the first target. Dark hair, thick brows, bags under the eyes, red stripe on the shirt. Kamikiri was the name, if he remembered correctly. He needed to break his concentration to disrupt the technique. Kakashi ordered his dog partners to focus on the man that was probably guarding the caster of the jutsu, as he formed a Lightning Beast technique to distract the main enemy further. The gleaming hound quickly attacked unaware, sweat covered Kamikiri and shocked him with electricity.
A loud, wide and dusty explosion of the pyramid structure threw everyone present on different sides and crushed the surrounding memorials. The air became thick with dust and Kakashi was surprised to find himself not covered by debris. He hoped that if Naruto was the cause of this destruction, he was alive and out of danger.
He saw the familiar mop of blonde hair somewhere in the centre of the destroyed area.
The jounin stood and took a closer look at his student. His condition was awful, and Kakashi rushed to help him up. Halfway there he stopped though, seeing the red and glaring eyes that reminded him of the bijuu. If Naruto ever had that look, it meant that you better stay out of his path of rage.
The jounin gulped and reluctantly did just that, watching warily as the crawling, deformed, curled and blood covered boy rose on his feet and froze his attackers with killing intent even Kakashi himself could not produce. Right in front of him, wounds that terrified him closed themselves with a hissing sound, limbs righted without additional help and bones went under the skin, moulding back with a crack into shape there used to be. Powerful, dark, red and angry energy was heavy in the air as Naruto mindlessly attacked the men using his bare hands, like an animal. Screams and disturbing sounds followed. The jounin didn't mind their death, and he doubted he could stop it anyway.
Unwilling to watch such cruelty in someone so kind though, he grimaced and turned his head away from the scene, hoping that it will end quickly and that he would be able to attend to his student...
A couple of weeks later
The pair cautiously entered the house and looked around. The dust was everywhere and some furniture needed replacing.
Naruto touched some things, stroked the walls slowly and cocked his head observing the dust particles in the air as they were highlighted by the ray of morning light that came in through the windows.
Itachi lifted sheets off some pieces of furniture, checked the rooms and observed Naruto's reactions. It was interesting watching fear, wariness, excitement and eagerness merge on his face. The boy did not expect that he'd ever leave his guardians. He got used to them and to life in the clan. Changing it now was a turning point from where he could not go back. If he agreed, both of them would be far deeper in the game than they had planned and expected.
They locked gazes and the blond gave Itachi a mischievous smile. The young man raised a brow in response. Naruto kept his gaze and moved to the kitchen. Itachi followed curiously. There the blond turned to the shelves and opened several of them. His excitement then died, because all of them were empty, except for plates and glasses he pulled out and blew on, to check the level of dirt.
"All of it must be thoroughly cleaned, before restocking." The dark haired man supplied with a smirk. He waited for any comment from his friend, but the boy stayed quiet.
Itachi stifled a sigh and made a short tour through the small house again, checking which room belonged to his mother in the past out of curiosity. Mikoto used to live in this house with her parents, before she became a kunoichi, and before she married Fugaku.
Itachi stopped by one room and leaned on the doorframe. There was a single rolled futon, a decorated closet, a wide mirror, a closed window with grey smudges and a chest in the corner.
Mother's parents died quite a long time ago, leaving the house empty. She did not visit it nor was it given to anyone. The elders planned to rebuild the place but those plans changed when Mikoto suggested that Itachi and Naruto move in here. After the disaster that almost led to his, and to Naruto's death, she understood that without the support of the family, they were practically open for attacks. If everyone was against them, then what was stopping their enemies? It was ridiculous but Itachi's popularity caused jealous individuals to target Naruto, and that also meant danger for Itachi. Mikoto would not care if the blond was hurt, but the mere thought that her son was physically tied to the boy motivated her to adapt to the situation. If keeping Itachi safe meant keeping the blond safe as well, and if that also meant accepting their relationship, then she could live with it, because she loved her son and wanted him to be alive, wanted him to be happy. She forced that point of view onto her husband and no one stopped her. Then, she plastered a smile on her face and visited them in the hospital. Itachi could clearly remember as she forced kindness on her features and gazed at Naruto without rejecting him, judging him or showing any negative exterior. It was one of those moments when he was proud of her, proud of being her flesh and blood.
But living apart from parents, together, was a far more difficult decision to make than he expected. Suddenly his relationship with Naruto changed from a game to something more, something formal, with details known to almost everyone. Suddenly everyone knew they were attacked while inside the village, by the members of the new clan, almost died, and came back. Out of nowhere everybody knew to bring the blond bowls of noodles and boxes of sweets for Itachi. People stopped doubting their actions and accepted them as a couple once Uchiha clan severed all deals and ties with Fuuma family. Not ready to get on the bad side of the numerous clan, villagers stepped back. And now here they were, together, seeing the house that could be their home now. Would they be able to live without parents, guardians and daily interference?
Itachi heard Naruto's feet shuffle closer from behind, until the blond stopped by his side.
"What do you think?" The young man asked, unable to deal with silence from his friend any longer. From the corner of his eye he watched the boy look inside and around the room, inspecting it. There was an unusual understanding, sadness and tranquillity in Naruto's gaze and posture that he'd never expected.
"Is this what you want?" The boy asked, in a way that somehow implied that Itachi was the one that had to make a choice.
The jounin felt it wasn't fair to give him this responsibility. It was like putting on his shoulders the consequences of that one decision. What if everything got worse? He'd be the one to blame. "I'd rather have your personal opinion as well."
A small, genuine smile came as an answer and Naruto looked up with sparkling eyes. "When do we move in?"
He didn't think that Naruto would willingly come back to this place so early. Surely a traumatic experience, and memories of all the details haunted him?
Some part of cemetery was still in rubble. Distantly, Itachi heard someone work on the memorial, fixing the damage.
The sky was cloudy, promising rain. The boy stood under it, alien among the stones. It's not like bright yellow hair, orange shirt and overall black attire gathered attention, but there was something light, soft and warm about Naruto that did not suit this place. Everything around was too pale.
The memorial his friend stood in front of was made for the Yondaime. Very few people knew that there were remains of his wife beside his own, below the surface of the ground. That lack of information was for the sole purpose of keeping Naruto's ancestry secret. And the knowledge was bitter. Here he was, the pariah of Konoha, shameless, fearless, generous and loyal; misunderstood, underestimated, unappreciated. Adopted into one of the most powerful clans in shinobi world and still judged for something he didn't care about anymore. Why there were so few people that saw Naruto for who he was?
"Are you going to just stand there and stare at my back." The blond muttered without turning, probably feeling Itachi's eyes on himself.
He fought the urge to roll said eyes and then slowly, hesitantly came to stand by the boy's side. He respected the pair that gave life to Naruto, but he didn't know them. He opted not to judge them, even though there was always a little part of him that resented them for leaving his friend alone. A part of him that knew the Sandaime and remembered the day he confessed he knew who Naruto's parents were, resented the old man far more. Naruto lost all warm feelings he held for the powerful ninja he saw as a grandfather figure that day. It was years ago. They were keeping the professional outward behaviour now, and sometimes, Itachi forgot why, forgot that Naruto even knew and remembered who his parents were. This was the second time ever he visited their graves.
It must hurt, to know, to doubt.
Unsure, but determined, Itachi gently took Naruto's hand in his own. To show the boy that he wasn't alone. Sometimes support meant more than input. "Do you need anything?" He asked quietly.
"No." Was a whispered reply, but the stoic boy squeezed Itachi's hand tightly, as if this action was the only outside emotion he allowed himself.
He grew up so much. Stopped being a boy and became a teen. Started seeing through walls of lies. Started carving his own path. And somewhere along the way, captured, imprisoned and locked Itachi's heart. Was he ever going to let go of it? Did he even know what he's done? ...Unlikely.
He closed his eyes and squashed the need to sigh.
Being friends with Naruto was perfect, great, funny and safe. Pretending to be lovers with Naruto was blood rushing, risky, high, amazing and wide.
...Loving Naruto was a torture.
His hand was held in a tighter grasp. At least, Naruto was there. No matter how, or in what nature.
There was a time when Sasuke was afraid that Naruto would change their lives and the world around them so much that he wouldn't be able to recognize it. The boy was wild then, new, foreign. He was a brother, a rival, and a possible friend. He was thrown into the family, where everyone engaged in making him feel welcomed, feel at home and strived to make him useful and strong. Naruto repaid that by filling the void Sasuke didn't even know was there.
With a heavy sigh, the dark haired teen leaned on the doorframe and looked down to the floor of the room. Since he and the blond became as close as brothers, he was used to affection, hugs and clinginess on the part of the boy. It was adorable. Especially when they were too lazy to separate and fell asleep beside each other.
Sasuke wasn't sure what he felt when he watched Naruto sleep beside someone else.
With the same eagerness for embrace and closeness the chuunin knew, the blond clung to Itachi. They made an unsettling picture. Sasuke started suspecting that it was too easy for them to pretend. And now seeing them holding each other unconsciously, while sleeping in one bed, gave him clues. He wasn't spying, just visiting to deliver a message from mother, again. She had invited the pair for breakfast, knowing that none of them was motivated to cook in the morning. It was quite early still, and he knew that his brothers were moving in and had been reorganizing the interior of the house all night. Waking them up now was like signing up for becoming a dummy for their testing of jutsus. He'd go back and tell her he could not wake them.
How could life change so drastically? From strangers to brothers, from brothers to lovers... Next thing he knows, all of them would be mortal enemies. He smirked at the thought. When Naruto was close, nothing was ever boring.
He watched as Itachi nuzzled the blond mop of hair, features creasing as the strands tickled him, and became still again.
A little part of him resented Naruto for endangering Itachi's life. An image of a helpless, bloody, broken and mindless young man continued to appear before his eyes, in the weirdest and most awkward of moments, or when one of his brothers was near. A reminder that Itachi's life depended on Naruto's. That wildness and bestiality he saw then, belonged to the blond as well. Itachi never lost control, and never would have, if it wasn't for the boy's condition. He never would have known if he wasn't a witness. Was this connection a reason they were so close? He remembered that it started after the Ebisu business; before that, Naruto was friends with Itachi and treated him with mischief, but after, it's like they became the best of friends. He was even afraid that Itachi would take his place by Naruto's side, but found that their roles were different. Naruto and Sasuke were brothers, in anything but looks, and spent a lot of time together, training, resting, having missions. But Naruto and Itachi were friends, and understood each other, supported and loved in a different way. It just seemed to grow over time. He wondered... how serious they were about living together? How many secrets did they hide from him? He doubted that this physical connection and contract was the only thing they kept quiet about. But it wasn't like he wanted to pressure them. Honestly, he'd rather that he didn't have to know any of the details.
Seeing that the pair did not plan to wake any time soon, Sasuke left the comfortable place in the entrance of the room and stealthily left.
Opening his eyes and looking around Naruto noted that he was alone, in an unfamiliar room. The walls were white, sheets far too clean, room too bare. A hospital? The crease of brows, hitched breathing and then the blond was rising on the bed, noting that he was in a light lavender gown, bandaged heavily all over the place. There were wooden sticks along his legs to keep them straight, tied with force. Some other strange bandages, really rather flexible constructions, were covering his feet, elbows and wrists. With distaste, he remembered where injuries came from.
"I'm actually alive." He muttered, looking down at himself. The boy blinked, looked around again and then his eyes turned determined. He awkwardly shifted to the edge of the bed, barely able to use his limbs, and taking a deep breath, put his feet on the floor.
The surface was cold, which meant that he did not lose the use of his legs. Testing his strength a bit, the blond moved and leaned on one leg, then the other, before he decided that it was good enough and slowly stood up. Well, stood is an exaggeration, because he could not bend the legs using knees. It was rather a battle with his body as he adjusted to the new development and staggered to his feet. He swayed a bit when he finally managed, but regained balance and moved to the door. He opened it with ease and ignored the number on the front. His steps were slow, unsteady, but he stubbornly went on. An inner compass of sorts led him to the left, down the bare, boring corridor. Thankfully, it was empty and he didn't have to feel as embarrassed about his state of dress.
He wondered how strange it was, to always know where to go to reach Itachi. It started over a year ago, and he steadily became used to the quiet, subtle tug in the back of his mind. Most of the time he was thankful for it, because it became a habit to check, to see, to know where Itachi was. Feeling the young man approach him before he was in sight, the unexplainable excitement that rose with it, it was so easy to get used to. Itachi said that he found this connection far earlier, and couldn't imagine how it could be without it.
Another door gathered his attention and Naruto smirked. Eagerly, he reached for it in his undignified, graceless step and opened.
Itachi was lying on the bed, asleep. The white sheet was covering him, but Naruto could see the same bandages and constructions on his arms and legs. A sting somewhere inside his chest, a soundless sob pushing through the wall of self control were suppressed at the sight and realization, but not because he didn't want to let it out, rather, he was restrained because of the presence of someone else in the room.
The blond stood holding the door handle, still not entering, but looking at his sleeping friend and his teammate.
It wasn't Sasuke, whom he suspected to see sooner or later anyway.
Hana sat on the chair by Itachi's bed as if she had every right to be there. Who let her in? Why did she visit his friend when he was perfectly available, her precious, irritating and lovable teammate? Ah, right, she, like every other girl in Leaf blasted village had a crush on the dark haired, illustrious heir of Uchiha clan. She even put on the dress for a change. Where was her chuunin vest, shorts and hair band? He'd guess she wanted to make an impression. A pity the jounin was unconscious. "Hi there." Naruto voiced, and awkwardly walked in, closing the door behind him.
The girl blinked and stared at him, and then pointedly stared at his legs. Then she cleared her throat and finally replied. "Um, hi Naruto."
He noted that she became tense. The blond walked a bit closer, stopping at the foot of the bed. "What are you doing here?" He asked, seemingly cheerful.
Hana tilted her head in Itachi's direction. "Visiting a friend."
"A-ah. My boyfriend, you mean." Naruto nodded his head sagely. "I see he's still sleeping, and gonna be knocked out for quite a time. Want me to deliver a message or anything? A kiss?" His tone was a bit mocking, a bit serious and friendly as always. No need to have strained relations with a teammate, but he had to make sure she threw the thought of seducing Itachi out of her mind.
The Inuzuka girl blushed scarlet and stammered. "N-no need to. Get well soon," she rose and went to the door, obviously getting the point of Naruto's concealed threat, "I'll see you around."
And as she disappeared behind the door, Naruto gave in to the urge to laugh. "Bloody fan girls. Throw themselves at your feet and become obstacles in my way." He looked at his friend and his laugh abruptly stopped because the jounin was glaring at him from where he was lying on the bed. "What?"
Itachi did not move but his eyes travelled up and down the blond's form. "What are you doing walking around? You're not supposed to leave the bed."
The boy snorted and swayed, went to Itachi's side and carefully sat on the bed, or rather, fell into a sitting position because his legs would not let him do it the usual way. Shifting for a comfortable pose, he spoke. "Did she give you a heartfelt confession of love? They tend to loosen their tongue when they think you're not aware."
The young man closed his eyes and made an expression of a suffering man. Naruto laughed in response. "She did, didn't she. Oh, that was rich! And here your boyfriend walks in and spoils all her fun! You poor thing, had to pretend to be asleep for ages!" The blond laughed again.
"She described how Kakashi-sensei spoke to her and Sasuke explaining our connection. She's extremely upset that you endanger my life." Itachi grumbled.
Naruto's laugh quickly died. He gave Itachi an inquiring look. "He did...?"
The young man gently took Naruto's hand in his own. "People are not stupid. They see strange things, they see our bandages, the same injuries, our closeness. Surely, something must be the source of it. Sooner or later, more of the masses will be aware."
Naruto's hand was limp, his gaze lost.
"Does that upset you?" Itachi's question was quiet, but somehow filled the bare room.
"A little bit?" The boy replied after a pause. "And you?"
A silence fell over them and it had a sombre tone. They remembered why they were in the hospital in the first place. The first thought Naruto had as he was awake and aware was to see Itachi and make sure he was as alive as the blond himself was. Logic stated that Itachi was fine, of course, but his heart and eyes just needed to see, to confirm that. He did not care that physically he was handicapped, all that mattered was to find his friend and make sure. Itachi looked well, though his gaze was haunted a bit. His features were somewhat stern, like he could not appreciate the fact he was alive, could not derive happiness out of knowledge itself. It would take days for him to make Itachi himself again, Naruto was sure of it. But he could do it, better than anyone. He would do it.
"How do you feel now? Don't you need rest?" The young man asked with concern, rubbing Naruto's hand with his thumb slowly and absently. Naruto could not understand how the man could be so worried about him when he was in the same situation and state. Was he concerned for his mental condition? Like anything could break Naruto and influence him that much. Ha! "You ask me if I'm fine? I thought that you're quite aware if I'm fine or not. It's you that we need to ask this question."
Itachi turned his head away. "You know what I mean, baka."
The blond's smile turned smaller and after a slight hesitation, he leaned on his friend, a made a whining sound come out of his throat, like an animal. He let his body awkwardly fall over Itachi's, cursing his stiff limbs somewhere in the back of his mind, and nuzzled the jounin's chest and neck affectingly.
Itachi sighed and turned his head back to the blond, to watch him behave like a lost puppy. Like a lost adorable puppy. He could not stay annoyed nor angry with the blond for long. You'll be the death of me was a strangely fitting phrase for the moment, but far too meaningful and too solemn, so he stayed quiet and just kissed the top of Naruto's head.
With the memory of that the blond woke up to the sight of Itachi by his side, with the young man's arm holding him possessively close to his body. The weightless feeling it brought to him made breathing difficult. The memory of their public kisses, the words of affection they exchanged, the way they held hands while walking around the village, it was sweet and oh so bitter. Itachi was pretending to be in love so well. It was so funny to respond, to let him have control.
Naruto thought it weird that he did not mind their game as much as he should have. After all, any straight man would be disturbed with the whole issue. And here he was, actually enjoying it. Especially when it seemed Itachi forgot about role playing and enjoyed their encounters and moments just as much. That possessive streak he had when his hands almost bruised Naruto's body and he was almost crossing the line, the awareness that he was attracted to this smaller, truly male body, made Naruto's insides flip and flutter. And then realization that someday soon it will all be over. It hit him often, reminding him that whatever happened between them was temporary. Because Itachi could easily decide that he wanted someone else, wanted a family, stability, good reputation. Naruto could not give him that. Heck, he could not even admit to have feelings for his best friend because it meant that he had a crush on the gorgeous Uchiha heir like every other girl and guy in Konoha. It was so... demeaning. Itachi was playing this game with him because he thought that the blond did not love him. Because he wanted to get away from admirers, not because there was anything relatively romantic between them. And to think that he let himself fall in deep for the guy. It was painful to know that he'd never confess, and that Itachi was using him. Well, he remembered that he offered it himself in the first place, he just... never thought that it would force his feelings to grow that far. So what if Itachi was attracted to his body? He might as well be attracted to some females. There used to be a time he was seeing his female teammate; she was seeing Shisui later. From what Naruto knew, it was the reason Itachi and Shisui were having a colder relationship now than in the past.
Would their friendship go back to the way it was before? Unlikely. How could one forget that there was intimacy with a person? You can't be dating, kissing, and then be simple friends again. Would they grow cold to each other and apart as well? He didn't want it. Naruto wanted to hold onto their game for as long as possible, no matter how much it frightened him, because he could not discard it, could not refuse the chance. That was why he readily agreed to live together. He was such an egotistical prat.
He had the urge to touch Itachi without the young man being aware. Traitorous, his hand rose off the bed trembling and crept closer to his friend. The small distance between them seemed to stretch for eternity as his fingertips moved to Itachi's bare chest. The blond was gleeful that the jounin preferred to sleep without shirts. He had a chance and time to get attracted to that muscled torso. His fingertips brushed the surface of the skin lightly, delivering to him the knowledge of how warm that pale skin was. Gently, his stroked the flesh, trying to be so subtle that Itachi did not wake. It would not do to be caught doing such a thing. A small part of him was joyful that he woke before Itachi and could stare, touch and study without the jounin knowing. His eyes moved to Itachi's neck, where he could see the pulse, slight and subtle, under the skin. Then up, to the man's face, the side of which was on the pillow, and the other side was covered by long, shiny, dark strands of hair. Itachi let his hear loose before sleeping. The chaotic, dishevelled look suited him, the blond thought. He touched the strands and moved them slightly away from the man's face to see it better. He let the bangs stay on Itachi's cheek and pillow, it gave an unkempt, alluring picture. Just slightly, quietly, Naruto sighed. ...He wanted to keep that picture in his mind for a long, long time. He stared at Itachi's closed eyes, that had a mysterious power hidden within them.
A power to make a straight guy discard any love for female assets.
In his daydreaming, he barely noticed Itachi's dark eyes opening, slowly, stealthily, as if he wanted to catch a picture too. Those eyes stayed somewhat narrowed as they gazed back, wordlessly, as if seeing Naruto's soul, uncovered, as if reading his mind.
They were so close, having fallen asleep with their backs to each other, and woken up on their sides, facing each other and in a half embrace. Maybe Itachi was unsettled about it? Well, he can move away if he wants to. Naruto wouldn't mind. He understood lots of things. He just continued to gaze at Itachi's face, his mind a bit hazed. Could Itachi see all those feelings in his eyes? Could he tell? How would he react if he knew? Leave him, or reject him like he did everybody else in this village?
The arm that held Naruto close came alive and moved to the blond's hip, slowly, and then moved back, up, tracing the curve. The move was so casual and gentle that Naruto did not register it until Itachi repeated the action several times. What did he mean by that...
Breathing became harder, especially when the strokes became wider, reaching his chest and the globe of his rear. Clearly, the moves were testing boundaries. Unable to stay utterly still under such a subtle, torturing assault, Naruto cursed and discarded all common sense and let his fingertips stroke Itachi's inviting chest, just like he did a short time before. It might be imagination, but he thought he saw a fire of sorts burn behind those dark eyes, an emotion far stronger than he was used to. It made a shiver run up his spine, and it banished the thought that they were alone in the walls of the house, without public and witnesses to put the show for. The hand that tortured him left his skin burning, and then moved to the back of his thigh, grabbing it firmly. ...That was definitely daring, the blond thought. He was slightly lost and wondered if Itachi was testing him, using him or whatever else. Why did he let him do it? Why did he let himself get hurt? Gently but resolutely, Itachi rearranged their positions, pushing Naruto on his back, and finding himself hovering over, still having the blond's thigh captured. He pulled it a bit sideways and let himself position his body in between Naruto's legs, but kept a slight space between them. His other hand kept him propped as his face hovered inches from the boy's own. "You know," Itachi whispered, gazing down on him with serious, barely readable expression. He bent down closer and let his lips move to Naruto's ear. "...I'm not pretending anymore."
One thump. Two.
Another one. And faster.
Naruto's heart acted on its own accord, not asking if the blond wanted it to race.
What did he say? Did he say what he thought he heard? No pretending... no game.
Naruto did not conceal a sharp intake of breath. He needed air so much at the moment. He turned his head to look at Itachi, to see his face and confirm the words. Dark eyes had a gaze that showed a mix of lust, determination, warmth and plea. A quick, sloppy, wet kiss followed without any warning, taking Naruto's air away, and making him incapable of thinking even more. But then the kiss stopped as abruptly as it started and Itachi leaned away, returning to the distance between them. Naruto was so scared that he planned to completely move away that he raised his trembling hands to wound them firmly around the man's neck. He could not let him go before they solved this not so pseudo relationship. "W-wait..." He breathed out and tightened his hold as the hand holding his thigh started leaving.
Panting as his mind was in a whirl and body barely responding to commands, Naruto looked at Itachi's face and found the obsidian eyes searching his own. The hand that was leaving his body, torturously slowly moved back and up, effortlessly lifting his rear and settling on circling it, almost possessively, but gently.
Itachi's head moved down to his other ear to whisper. "...speak to me. Tell me the truth." Then he nuzzled Naruto's neck, just slightly, enough to drive him crazy. Their bodies seemed to be closer, pressing into each other, and oh, both of them were positively excited.
"..tell me the truth." Itachi repeated in his ear and his teeth scraped the edge of now hot, insignificant body part. He didn't know his ears were sensitive that much, he did not even register a whine that left him.
"...I... I'm not p-pretending either... for quite some time..." He finally managed to whisper back, inwardly cursing the stutter. He could not even control his mouth. He behaved like a freaking girl that had just got an unexpected confession. What would Itachi think of him if he turned into the incoherent pile of goo without any serious prompting?
Itachi though did not think, he just hungrily attached his mouth to the blond's and attacked every inch of it with his hot, claiming and demanding tongue. The arm that was propping him over Naruto discarded its position and grabbed the back of the blond's head, to control the kiss in an absolute way. He changed angles, sucked and bit Naruto's lower lip harshly, and he was allowed to do it all without any protest.
Naruto just let himself get lost in the attention, sensations, and power of the man that obviously wanted him. He swallowed all the moisture contents of their mouths before those dripped out and ignored moans that escaped him. Soon, he felt that if he did not take the gulp of air he'd suffocate, so he tore his mouth away to breathe, and Itachi just attacked the column of neck that was presented to him instead. He made a responding, appreciative sound and pressed their bodies closer still, while his lips trailed down to the blond's chest. Finding the fabric of the white, sleeveless shirt in the way, Itachi growled and pulled it with his teeth. The sight of it left Naruto gaping and flushing, because it was so... it looked enthusiastic, provoking and ignited a fire within him.
The young man disentangled from the boy and breathing heavily, grasped the fabric of the shirt that blocked access to Naruto's skin with his fists and viciously tore it apart. Then he sat and stared down at the boy that was lying below him on the bed. Itachi stared as if he wanted to make sure that it was not a dream. Naruto wondered what his friend, no, boyfriend, saw in him, really. Tousled hair, small frame, lean muscles, blue eyes? Was that what drew him? Itachi smirked teasingly and slowly bent down, and then nuzzled Naruto's stomach. The action was so sweet and adorable and ticklish because of Itachi's long hair that Naruto giggled and wound his hands into the dark strands. He felt a smile on Itachi's lips that touched his skin. The man's mouth tasted the surface and left butterfly kisses as he trailed up to nipples. "The things I would do to you..." He voiced casually and licked the bud.
Naruto gasped and stroked the man's muscled back, wondering if there was anything he could do with his own limbs at this point. "...yeah?" He answered incoherently, not really getting the point of the comment.
Itachi hummed and gave attention to the other nipple, prompting another, stronger gasp from the blond to resound in the room. "The things I cannot do to you..." Itachi whispered again and moving his face up grabbed Naruto's head by the hair. He initiated one more wet, bruising kiss before looking pointedly into glazed, blue orbs, "...yet."
Few weeks later
When Naruto finally found the time when he and Sasuke were alone, not bothered by their teammates, he decided to say what he wanted to say without beating around the bush, opting to be quick and blunt about the matter.
"This relationship, between Itachi and I, it's serious." His tone was even, low and should have accented the message with sincerity. He didn't want Sasuke to get the impression that he was joking and making it up. With the reputation of being a prankster, people were distrustful towards him when he spoke things that were not believable.
"I know." The dark haired teen replied, not looking away from the scroll in his hands. They were standing on the bridge, waiting for Kakashi and Hana as usual before going after the mission to the tower; lately, they were receiving tough and express b-ranked missions, it had something to do with Kakashi's reputation and their tracking skills.
A single little, silver gleaming fish appeared in the waters and the blond paid it some attention out of curiosity. The stream was small, so he assumed the sight was rare. "How do you know?"
Sasuke smirked. "I just do. I actually waited for you to see it too."
Naruto leaned on the rail and turned to his brother. "We were pretending." He frowned, wondering if Sasuke was simply boasting about seeing something others didn't.
The dark haired chuunin rolled the scroll up and gave his full attention to the blond. "I know that you could have pretended. But Itachi is not a perfect actor, especially for that role. The way he described you after some of the dates just screamed that he had fallen hard." A glint of remembrance appeared in Sasuke's eye.
Intrigued, Naruto leaned closer. "W-what did he say?"
Sasuke smirked. "You know, this and that." He made a vague gesture.
The blond blinked and scowled. "Sasuke..." A warning was delivered with a growl.
"He-he..." Sasuke scratched the side of his face sheepishly and then blushed. "Uh, well," he gave Naruto a small smile. "...he said that you're unique." He emphasised the word delicately, giving it a soft, breathy tone that was meant to imitate Itachi. "I think that he meant a lot by that, but found one word that described you perfectly. And if there's anyone that I'd approve of, ever, it would be you, so count yourself lucky."
"As if I couldn't get him without your permission, teme." Naruto rolled his eyes. A knowing glint in dark orbs again caught his attention.
"I did push the two of you together." Sasuke pointed out. And he was right. All those advices about going on dates, holding hands, public snogging, actually was a ground and start of his relationship with Itachi. Realizing that, Naruto shook his head, gaping, and hid his face in his hands.
Sasuke just laughed.
Later, when Naruto came home, he found a note on the kitchen table,
I have a mission and will be gone for three days. I know you will be bored so I prepared a reading material for you. You'll find it in the bedroom. Eat healthily, don't get into trouble.
Sweet and to the point, just like the young man to express concern, give a gift and complain about Naruto's eating habits at once. With a grin, Naruto left the note on the table and with an idea of the pile of scrolls with new techniques, rushed to the bedroom in search. He could never say no to new information, and ninjutsu was his specialty.
He did not find the pile of scrolls though. But, on the nightstand was a small stack of books. Still hopeful, the blond jumped on the floor nearby and grabbed the one that was placed on the top. He started reading, then frowned, then flipped the pages, that read again, and then after several minutes of that a deep red, scarlet blush spread on his face, neck and all body parts, both covered and not covered by clothes.
"Oh, Kami..." He whispered gaping at the sentences in the book. He closed the cover slowly, and placed the 'reading material' aside on the floor beside him. For a moment he was motionless and puzzled, and then, quizzically, tentatively reached for the next book. There were no words on the cover, and he was not surprised. He flipped the pages, noting that there were pictures, many pictures, and focusing on one he frowned while studying it, and then shocked, abruptly closed the book. He put it aside so quickly that one would think he got burned. Naruto's eyes were wide, dancing around the room as if he was scared and embarrassed someone noticed him reading the pages.
The blond did not reach for the rest of the stack, already having an idea what was in there. All of the books described males involved in romantic relationships. Some of the pictures were explicit. The 'reading material' was supposed to show him what to expect from 'close encounters' with Itachi. How thoughtful of him. The boy snorted and put the books back in one heap. Was that encouragement, discouragement, a promise or a test? It seemed Itachi wanted to make sure his boyfriend was educated.
Naruto grinned evilly, took off the vest and grabbing the first book-he was sure that the stack was meant to be read in the order it was presented to him-fell on his back on the futon, to start right away and read as much as possible before Itachi was back in three days. When they see each other again soon, Itachi better be prepared.
Two years later
"Why me? Why is it always me the bad guys choose to go after?" Naruto whined, staring at the pictures and notes on the desk that described a group of criminals known as Akatsuki. "Gosh, all of them are S-ranked monsters!"
Itachi, who sat beside the blond, coughed to mask his surprise at hearing the news and looked away.
The two of them occupied the chairs by the Hokage's desk, which was covered by all the information Konoha had on the group of enemy ninja. The Sandaime was puffing his pipe, giving the pair time to adjust to the new information, Kakashi was leaning on the wall by the door, probably happy that his face was covered by a mask so no one could read distress written all over his features, and Jiraiya, who insisted on this meeting in the first place, was pacing the office in agitation.
"Well, if the group that hunted jinchuuriki consisted of chuunin level idiots, we'd hardly have a reason to worry. It makes sense that only monster would go after another monster." The white haired man huffed and muttered. Naruto glared and rolled his eyes in response.
"Jiraiya-kun offered to train you personally, Naruto. It would be a trip away from Konoha..." The Sandaime started but was interrupted by Itachi.
"Meaning, that away from the village he'd be a bait for them, not out of their sight. With all the respect, Hokage-sama, but I am against it." The tone was even, if a bit cold.
The old man closed his eyes but did not say anything. He continued to smoke slowly.
The blond turned to face the raven haired man. "Dunno, learning under one of the sannin is an opportunity of the lifetime, on the other hand, I'd never leave without you as a company..." Naruto sounded half serious half joking, so everyone in the room was sceptical about his message.
Kakashi eye-smiled, "I wouldn't mind leaving the village for the so called holiday and training trip as well, Jiraiya-sama. Maybe you'd accept my company too?"
The Geta-man hid his face in the palm of his hand.
"Sounds amazing, sensei. How about a holiday training trip for you, me, and 'Tachi under the wing of Jiraiya of the sannin?" Naruto voiced innocently. The Hokage stifled the laugh that threatened to escape, but his eyes glistened with tears of amusement.
The white haired man turned to face them in his pacing and pointed at the Uchiha heir. "I understand that your Kakashi-sensei has much to teach you and could help me with shaping you up, but what your friend is there for? All your contract connection aside, you'd be simply placing him under risk because we might get attacked."
The blond pouted and crossed his arms. "But who will keep me warm at night? You wanna keep me deprived of kisses? Are you that evil? And sex! How about..." He did not finish what he wanted to say because Itachi jumped from his seat and rushed to cover the traitorous mouth with his hand. The boy struggled so Itachi forcefully pulled him onto his lap and keeping one arm around Naruto's waist and other shutting the blond's talkative lips kept him in place while both Sarutobi and Kakashi giggled, and Jiraiya gaped in disbelief.
Naruto shook with mirth, Itachi was blushing like never before, because he did not expect the blond to pull any stunt in the presence of such people, and the old pervert pointed at the pair with index finger. "I... I thought that was just a rumour! You can't be serious!"
The blond managed to free his face to reply. "Hey, you have anything against gay people...?"
This time it was Jiraiya's turn to flush. "What? Er, no! I just never thought you'd, you know..."
Naruto raised a brow. "What, fancy my male friend? Swing that way...?"
"He-he, see, I don't mind, really... but have you tried with women?" The old man asked hopefully.
The pair on the chair gave him dark glares.
"Uh, ok!" Jiraiya raised his palms in defeat. "I am all supportive and understanding, Naruto! I can even see what you find appealing in Itachi, he's attractive and cute when he blushes! And that intense glare!" He gave an uneasy laugh as Naruto stopped exuding massive killing intent.
The Sandaime shook his head.
"You know," Jiraiya continued thoughtfully, "your appearance is actually inspiring, Itachi-kun." He rubbed his chin with a glint in his eye. "I think you can join us on this holiday trip! You and Naruto can even share a tent!" With a grin he looked at the pair and Kakashi as well, "I think we can all share a tent together! Divine!"
The blond turned green in the face as his imagination showed unnecessary pictures.
"No." Kakashi, Itachi and Naruto voiced together, with a different degree of volume. Naruto could not imagine accidentally cuddling with someone other than Itachi. Itachi could not let Naruto cuddle with someone other than he, and Kakashi just could not let Naruto prank him and take off the mask.
"Why not? Oh, come on!" Jiraiya waved his arms, in what he considered to be an encouraging gesture. The trio of ninja visibly drew back from the man that had wanted his next book inspiration. They'd rather not go anywhere. "Let's go to the public bath house and get to know each other better!" The sannin offered with a perverse, promising grin.
The trio fled the office.
You may think that they lived happily ever after.
You may think that there was war, parting of ways, action, tears and death...
You may also imagine that Fugaku tried to force Itachi to marry, later, and was either successful or not...
You may also assume that the last scene was just that, the last scene of the story.
Thank you for reading and all the support. love ya)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))