Chapter One: Chemistry
Ahh, how could I forget about how FF dot net kills formatting dead? The proper title for this fic is L.U.S.T. It's an acronym. No, you don't get to know what it stands for yet.
Before anyone asks, no, this is NOT a sequel to Two Face. It might be considered something of an AU to the AU that is Two Face, if only because I plan to bring back my OCs from there.
I ought to mention, before this chapter begins, what the Kinsey scale is. It measures sexuality on a scale of 0-6, 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 being completely homosexual, and the middle being bisexual. Asexuals come up as an X on the scale. It measures both sexual activity as well as preference. It's simplistic, but a little more detailed than just saying homosexual or heterosexual.
"Yeah. Well I wanna do some of the assigned reading tonight, so we'll see. I know you do. I dunno, I'm going now to check. Yes, right now, the machine's just around the corner! You're not my mother, I don't need you to remind me. I'll talk to you later, alright? Yeah, and you're an asshole; it evens out. That's not what I meant. Yes, I do. Goodbye, Katsumi."
I hang up before he can say anymore and put my cellphone away, heaving a sigh of equal parts exasperation and relief. Reaching the ATM, I pat down the numerous pockets of my cargo pants until I remember where I've put my wallet, then find my bank card to slot into the machine. While I wait I tap out a little pattern with my fingers, a song I'm supposed to learn by next week. The rhythms are seriously complicated, though; even the slightest distraction trips me up. I miss a beat, sigh, and key in my PIN.
A couple of menu selections later and I'm staring at a solid twenty-one cents in my bank account. "Fuck my life," I grumble, and retrieve my card. Fucking student loans company, why can't they understand that without money, I'll die of starvation?
I shove my wallet back into my pocket and I step aside to let the guy behind me use the ATM. As I pull my hand back out, something from my pocket catches on my finger and goes flying. I stare in the direction it went, waiting for the clatter of metal on floor to locate it, but it never comes. I frown.
"Looking for this?"
I look up. The man at the ATM is tall, dark-haired and pale-skinned, with clear grey eyes like sun showers. He's holding up a little circular badge with a rainbow target pattern on it.
"Yeah, thanks," I reply. I reach out, but the guy pulls away before I can take the pin.
"So this is yours?" he asks, examining the design of the badge, the safety pin on the back. "You gay?"
"No. It's for a friend," I say. What? It's technically true.
He puts his card in the machine and asks, "What's your name?"
"Will you give it back if I tell you?"
"…Naruto. So can I—"
He smirks but amends, "Gender?"
"Three. I mean—" I stop, realizing what I've just said, but too late. His smirk is triumphant now.
"So you weren't lying. Bisexual – fair enough."
"I'm pan, actually," I reply, "but if you're going to ask about my sexuality on a binary scale—"
"Okay, I get it. We can't all be wonderful three-dimensional personalities like you." He holds out the badge. "I'm Sasuke."
I look from the badge up to his face, and for the first time our eyes meet. Oh, no, don't get me wrong – I'm not about to go into some love-at-first-sight crap. I don't believe in soulmates. Hell, I hardly believe in love. Looking into his eyes, I don't feel any sort of spark or connection or magical understanding. But I can read eyes; I've been training at this kind of thing for years and I know what desire looks like.
"Do I get to hear your answers to the rest of the questions?" I ask, taking the badge back.
Sasuke turns away to take his money from the machine and puts it away in his wallet. "Twenty-one, if you're offering, male, visual communication, year two, six."
I think about this for a bit, considering which to comment on first. "What happens when you combine 'yes please' with 'if you're offering'?"
Sasuke raises an eyebrow, though that smirk is still plastered to his face. "Well, at this point both of us have expressed interest in receiving but not offering as of yet."
"Well, hey, it takes two to tango," I say with a shrug. "Can't have one person giving everything and not getting anything in return. Though if we're talking positions I'm not usually one to take—"
There's a loud cough behind me. I turn to see an older woman – possibly one of the professors; I've seen her around before – standing there.
"If you're not using the machine, gentlemen," she says pointedly, "might I request that you take your conversation elsewhere?"
"O-oh. Sorry," I say, and step out of the way. The woman goes to the machine and says no more, giving me the opportunity to consider whether or not I feel like a little kid who's just been chastised for not using his indoor voice.
A hand rests on my shoulder, and I turn and end up face to face with Sasuke. His fingers brush down my arm as he pulls his hand back. "So," he says, "guess we'd better move on."
"Uh – yeah." I nod and we set off, out of the building and onto the campus grounds. It's a pretty nice day for January – then again, we haven't even gotten any snow yet, so that's not saying much. Though we walk side by side, the silence between us is palpably awkward. I don't know this guy, this Sasuke. Walking next to him like this doesn't feel right, even for someone like me who can strike up a conversation with anyone. I stuff my hands in my pockets, glancing sideways at my new walking companion. I didn't really get to analyze him earlier because I was distracted by my financial situation. I do this thing, see, where I size a person up when I meet them. It's not on purpose, I swear, but after a few years of acting I pick up on looks and characterizations pretty quickly. Sasuke's angular face is framed by short bangs, his hair flicking back and outward like the tail of a duck. He's tall – maybe taller than me, maybe a bit shorter; hard to tell. Lean. His shoulders are slender and his limbs are long. He's kind of androgynous, almost feminine, though you would never mistake him for anything but male. And there's something graceful about him that nevertheless holds confidence and power. It's a weird duality that I frankly find intriguing.
"Where are you headed now, then?" I ask. I don't have anywhere to be, but Sasuke seems to have a destination in mind despite his leisurely pace.
"Coffee," Sasuke replies curtly. Then he seems to remember he has an audience and looks at me somewhat apologetically. "Sorry. I need my caffeine or I'll fall asleep mid-lecture. I don't suppose you'd care to join me?"
"Only if caffeine makes you less of a bastard," I joke. I follow Sasuke into the little café by the gallery and take a seat at one of the high tables by the counter as Sasuke gets in line. It's pretty warm here, so I take off my jacket; Sasuke seems to like this idea and follows suit, leaving him in a form-fitting, sleeveless blue shirt that catches my attention at once. Fashion's never been my strong suit, but it's easy to see Sasuke likes to dress well (and to disregard weather in favour of this). My eye travels up to his face, along to his ear and down his slender jaw, the line of his nape, the curve of his shoulder and spine, the dip of his lower back, the slight angle of his hip and the way his weight rests more on one leg than the other, relaxed but not off-guard. I'm tracing the subtle hints of muscle at his arm; the tendons on the back of his hand; the long, spidery fingers idling against his thigh, clad in sleek, faded black skinny jeans.
Well fuck. In my humble opinion very few people can pull off the look of skinny jeans, and I'm an instant goner for almost anyone who can. Guess who's rocking the skinny jeans?
"Yeah?" I say automatically, then realize I'm talking to his ass. Instantly my eyes snap back up to his face, but it's way too late. He's watching me patiently, his face passive, but there's a smirk in his eyes.
"I was saying, do you want anything?"
"Huh? Nah." I'm distracted, scrambling to appear casual. I cough to give myself time to recover, then say, "So, Mr. Kinsey Six, what's it like not being attracted to the larger half of the population in the slightest?"
Oh, yeah. Very smooth. Go from visually feeling him up to asking about attraction. A little weak as flirting goes; completely unhelpful here.
But he doesn't seem to mind. "It's liberating," he says easily. I'm surprised by this answer.
"Not restricting? You're not bothered that you can't take advantage of another three billion chances to find someone really special, or just really hot? VisComm has mandatory life drawing, right? How do you handle it when you can't appreciate the natural beauty of every body?"
I've been told more than once that I don't get the concept of TMI, but the drink machines behind the counter are pretty loud and there are enough people for our voices to get a little lost in the chatter, so I'm not too worried. Anyway, Sasuke doesn't seem to mind either, choosing not to comment on the fact that I'm talking about sex and attraction in a public coffee shop. I decide I like that about him.
"It's not that I can't appreciate the female figure in art," says Sasuke. "I'm just not attracted to it. Life drawing isn't about sexual attraction. Anyway, heterosexual people take life drawing too."
"Yeah, and I don't understand them either. How could you not be attracted to people of the same sex?"
Sasuke raises his eyebrows. "Don't ask me, I'm 'Mr. Kinsey Six.' Are you sure you're not getting anything?" he asks as he nears the counter.
I shake my head. "My student loan's late. I can't afford a gumball from a machine, let alone a café mocha."
"A mocha and a coffee, then," Sasuke tells the barista.
"Huh? You don't have to—"
"I don't have to anything," Sasuke interrupts me calmly. He just smiles and pays for both the drinks, and I find myself lacking words after that. For someone who grilled me for personal information before he'd give me back my own belongings, he's suspiciously nice. I tell him so once he brings the drinks and takes the seat across from me.
"What about that saying about not judging books by their covers?" he says, amused.
"Why would you go out of your way to buy me a drink?" I ask. "If you were offering, I would've preferred an alcoholic one. Or lunch. Though I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and beggars can't be choosers." I slurp some of the whipped cream off the top of my drink. "I guess I owe you my thanks."
"You seem to be putting a lot of thought into this. Or at least a lot of sayings." Sasuke unflinchingly takes a deep swig of his scalding hot black coffee. "I might just be paying you back for the inconvenience of making you answer all those questions, or, yes, I might be bribing you into something."
"So, what is it you want from me? Need an actor for a project of yours? Bribing your way into a bit of networking? Or perhaps you're looking for more… personal services?" I ask, waggling my eyebrows for emphasis.
Sasuke snorts at this. "Stop that. I can't tell whether or not you're joking."
"It's whatever you want it to be." He can't mean that, can he? Not after he caught me giving him the once-over?
"Anything I want, just for a mocha. Is it even worth it if you're that cheap?"
"I'm priceless, babe. But for you, a discount."
Sasuke laughs. I'm surprised – I'd expected something cynical, a sneer or a scoff, but Sasuke's laugh is genuine and it sounds so… melodious. Photogenic, if it weren't auditory instead of visual. The kind of laugh you'd record to put on advertisements. Is this guy for real?
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were desperate," Sasuke says, humour still evident in his voice. Then he continues, "Wait. I don't know better. When's the last time you got any?"
I hesitate a moment before replying, in case the truth puts him off – off what? I don't know what I thought he might get upset by, so I answer, "This morning."
"It was that bad?" He doesn't look too disappointed or anything. That's good. I think.
"Pfft, no. This guy's the best lay anyone's ever had. Heard of the legendary Blue God of Konoha campus?"
I can tell before I'm done speaking that Sasuke knows what I'm talking about. "Oh, him."
"Fucked him before?" I wouldn't be surprised. It would also mean an indirect fuck by way of Blue, but that's kind of beside the point, maybe.
Sasuke laughs. "I don't do easy lays. But no, I've only heard of him by way of rumour."
"Right." Something about what Sasuke said bothers me. He doesn't do easy lays. Is he judging me for sleeping with Blue? Is he calling me easy? Sure, I'll sleep with pretty much anyone who's close enough in age, but is that so wrong?
"Did I offend you?"
"Huh?" I snap out of my train of thought. "That's—"
"Sorry. I ought not to slut-shame," Sasuke says. "It'd be hypocritical at best."
"You calling yourself a slut?"
"I've been known to be promiscuous," he says vaguely.
"Hey now, that's a loaded word." I think about it. "How about… experienced? You've had practice."
"And how is euphemizing it any better? It still carries a negative connotation."
"More for girls, to be fair."
"And gay men, and pretty much anyone who isn't a heterosexual male. It's not fair at all; it's a double standard."
"Well you sure are a depressing conversationalist," I say with a frown. It's not that I disagree with him. I'd just rather not think about it. I have to admit I've never had complaints when I hook up with girls, but admitting I'm pan – and then subsequently having to explain that it's not necessarily the same as bi – tends to lead to labels of greediness.
"The state of the world is fairly depressing." He tips back the rest of his coffee and stands. "Well, on that cheerful note, I have a class to be at."
"What, you're gonna leave this cloud of doom and gloom hanging over us?" I say, though I get to my feet as well. "Geez. D'you do this to every conversation you have? I'm not sure I wanna keep talking to a guy who gets me down whenever I say bye to him."
"Implying you were thinking of meeting up again?" He smirks at the surprise on my face and tosses his empty coffee cup in the bin as he passes. "It's a discussion, not a monologue. As you have said before, it takes two to tango. I'm sure that, since you have dance classes, you know that some pairs tango together better than others."
"The word you're looking for is 'chemistry.' Acting's all about it."
"Yes, well, apparently the chemistry here—" he makes a gesture pointing to me, then himself, that links us in a way that seems all too intimate "—has a tendency to produce weighty topics. You shouldn't be surprised, considering we bonded over that gay pride pin of yours."
"Heh. I guess so." I fall silent as we leave the café and head through the building. Sasuke's now going in the direction of the visual arts faculty, and, having nothing better to do, I find myself tagging along like an aimless stray. The analogy fits even better when I remember Sasuke bought me sustenance. There's a nagging voice at the back of my head telling me I ought to stick up for my autonomy, but it's easily quashed by the overeager puppy inside me that's ready to jump all over Sasuke and adore him. Because, well, fuck.
"You're not going to show up to my lecture on intellectual copyright, are you?" asks Sasuke, noting my continued presence. "Because as much as I'd love having the distraction of your riveting company, I'll need to pay attention and make notes."
"Well, sorry I couldn't be more interesting to you," I retort, though mostly in jest. "Seriously? Who uses the word 'riveting' outside of a sarcastic context?"
"Who said I wasn't being sarcastic?"
"Oh, ouch. Did you just imply I'm drier than a lecture on intellectual copyright?"
"No, that was all you."
"Of course." I roll my eyes, but I have to admit I'm rather enjoying Sasuke's sharp wit, even if it may be at my own expense. I've never been adverse to a bit of self-deprecating humour. Sasuke just seems so sure of himself. He knows who he is and what he wants, and I'll bet you he knows how to get it too. You know what they say about what confidence does to people? Well, they're right. "Well, thanks again for the mocha, as misguided as it may have been."
"If you didn't want it you could've just said so."
"I kind of, y'know, just maybe tried to mention you didn't have to—"
"It's not the same," he says, shaking his head like he knows everything.
"Semantics! It's not that I didn't want it. Just… there are priorities, y'know? Like food, and bus fare. If my loan doesn't come in tomorrow I won't even be coming to class." Not that I'd mind, to be perfectly honest, but they take our attendance and stuff. I could convince someone to sign me in though.
"Can't you walk?"
"From Terra Park? Yeah, right. Take me an hour, that would."
He raises an eyebrow. "Why the hell do you live all the way out by Terra Park?"
"Uh, because it was the only house that wasn't taken, falling apart, or way too expensive? Trust me, if we'd had a choice, my housemates and I would've picked somewhere much closer."
Sasuke shakes his head as though in disbelief. "Look. I live on campus; if you wanted to come over for dinner—"
"What's this?" I say, hoping to take the initiative for once. "Asking me on a date? Sorry, I'm taken. In a committed relationship with Macbeth, at least until Friday. Then I'm dumping him."
"I thought you were dating Blue."
"Huh? Oh, no," I say with a laugh. "He's a fuck buddy. We're just sleeping together. Anyway, Blue's flexible. In more ways than one," I add, as an afterthought.
"Uh huh. Does he have a name?"
"It's Yamashita Katsumi, but he's a better fuck if you call him Blue in bed." I chuckle. "It's a bit of a crap nickname if you think about it. I try not to, though – I mean, you don't really need a turn-off like that, and it suits him well enough that you can ignore any unfortunate implications. Anyway, all he has to do is look at you with those eyes and—"
"Might I ask whether you know what the acronym TMI stands for?"
I blink, then give a sheepish laugh. "Hah, sorry. I do this sometimes."
"In public no less. If you're going to tell me your relationship history, do it tonight."
"Tonight?" I ask blankly, then remember the conversation from about half a minute ago. "Right, tonight. I just told you I'm committed, didn't I?"
"I thought you said he was flexible. Or did you mean Macbeth?"
"Both. I'm booked up tonight."
"Tomorrow night then. Do you have lines to memorize? I'll quiz you. You can keep me company while I cook."
I squint suspiciously at him. "Are you planning to mug me or something? I told you, I'm skint. You'd get more money finding a quarter on the ground, and I'm not exaggerating. Anyway, what'd I ever do to deserve your pity?"
"Can't you take a little hospitality?" he says with a shrug. "If it's payment you're concerned about, you can treat me to coffee when your loan's through."
"I was planning on it anyway, so it isn't—"
"Once again implying you want to see me again." That know-it-all smirk is back. "Be in the library tomorrow at half past five. We'll see how good you are at that tango you seem so keen on." And he rounds the corner into the lecture hall, leaving me standing there like an idiot.
If anyone out there has any experience studying – or working in – acting or graphic design, give me a shout! I need to do some research since they're not really things I know much about, and I figured getting some firsthand accounts might help.