disclaimer: not mine.
pairing: naruto/sasuke, implied kiba/hinata and others
The little frog-shaped wallet was tellingly light when Naruto picked it up, but he still upturned it over the table just in case. A grand total of four coins tumbled out onto the wood with a disproportionately loud clatter.
Naruto wilted. That saying about empty vessels really couldn't have picked a worse time for a practical demonstration.
"Well?" Kiba prodded impatiently from the doorway. "How much is it gonna be?" Without waiting for a reply, he stomped into the room to peer over Naruto's shoulder.
"Aw, man!" he whined (in a rugged, manly way of course). "We were so close, too!"
Naruto snorted as he started to put his measly savings away, petting Gama-chan's flat belly apologetically. "Uh yeah, if by close you mean a small fortune away?"
"Not true!" protested Kiba. "I had nearly half the sum ready anyway, and if you'd only saved up like you were supposed to, we could be halfway over to the bleedin' place by now!"
"EH?" Naruto let out an indignant squawk as he whipped around to face his friend, battle-ready. "Don't make this my fault, Inuzuka! You were the one who picked the one onsen for miles around that'd cost three A-rank missions' worth of earnings for one fuckin' hour!"
"It's also the one onsen for miles around that's co-ed, so you could be a bit more appreciative, Uzumaki!" snarled Kiba.
"Hmph." Naruto crossed his arms and turned his face to the side. "Besides, you should've known I don't always have money to burn," he said loftily. "I happen to have… needs."
"Needs more pressing than sharing bathing space with naked chicks?" Kiba gritted out, clenching his fists.
"Needs that taste like ramen!" Naruto wailed urgently, seizing the collar of Kiba's shirt and shaking him back and forth. "Like pork and miso and everything that's good in the world!" He swept a quivering hand across the air, eyes glazed over.
"Ugh get off me, you tit," said Kiba disgustedly, plucking the back of Naruto's shirt and prying him off. "How am I friends with you again?"
"Oh pfft, you couldn't live without me if you tried," Naruto crooned, puckering up his lips and making kissy noises.
"You do realise that's not helping your case any? I mean, you just openly put ramen over wet naked chicks. Fuck man, it's like I don't even know who you are anymore."
"The only wet naked chick you're supposed to wanna look at is Hinata, though," said Naruto patronisingly, waggling a finger and staring him down through narrowed eyes.
That earned him a violent clobber clean across his face. "Don't – ever – speak about her – like that – again," hissed Kiba, eyes glinting maniacally even as a dark flush rose up his tattooed cheeks at the mention of his crush.
"Hey, it's your fantasy, not mine," said Naruto, raising his hands defensively. "Though I bet with those jugs – "
It took Kiba twenty minutes after that to deem Hinata's honour restored and Naruto's skull bashed in well enough to withdraw, dusting himself off with a withering look at the blond.
Naruto stuck out his split lower lip. (A bit miffed that he was still able to manage that, Kiba briefly considered launching a second round of volleys at him.) "Don't get cocky, you only won because I let you," he sniffed. "Out of pity."
"Save it, fox-face – that'll be my job when I'm chillin' with wet, naked girls while you stay home and get frisky with your ramen."
For a moment, Naruto looked as though he were seriously considering it. "But, you can't go without me," he said patiently, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "And besides," he added smugly, "You're still short on cash."
"Like you're helpin' with that?" said Kiba. He ran a hand through his messy dark hair and sighed resignedly. "I guess we could always go after our next mission…"
"The old hag gave us two weeks off after our last one, remember?" said Naruto. "And there's no tellin' how long the next one's gonna take, or how much it'll pay."
"You're talkin' sense," Kiba conceded, looking at him with a touch of suspicion. "All right then, it happens now. The cash remains a problem, though." He frowned and crouched down next to Naruto, deep in thought.
Naruto lifted his knees up to his chin and twiddled his toes, also thinking hard. What was a sure-fire way for two boys to get rich quick whilst avoiding jail and preserving their ass-virginities?
As all good little boys and girls should do in situations such as this, he thought of what his elders might have to say.
U-use… Y-Your body? The breathy voice that floated into his head sounded uncannily like Jiraiya's when accosted by the only sure-fire method Naruto knew to grab Jiraiya's attention: his sexy-no-jutsu
Heh-heh-heh, a perverted giggle, muffled slightly by a book, agreed. That was Kakashi, of course.
Don't do anything illegal! Don't sacrifice your dignity! Don't stay out late! Don't forget to brush your teeth! Don't… Tuning out Iruka-sensei's phantom voice before it turned him deaf, Naruto scrunched up his eyes and assimilated the golden advice of his mentors.
Sell his body without sacrificing his dignity? A conundrum indeed…
Then it came to him.
He opened his eyes slowly. Seconds later, Kiba looked up too.
Their faces split into identical, wide grins.
"So," Kiba began slowly, rubbing his hands, "Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?
"I don't know," said Naruto gleefully, leaning in. "What are you thinkin'?"
Kiba licked his lips. "So you know how people hold dog shows for charity?" He paused for effect, cracking his knuckles. "Well if we can get Kakashi's mutts to open the show, they can easily set the stage for Akamaru! Who will, of course, be the star attractio—"
"What?" he snapped, breaking out of his daze.
"No offence man, but that's kinda lame."
"You tellin' me you got a better idea?" said Kiba irritably.
"Heh," said Naruto, leaning in to whisper two words in Kiba's ear, "I'm pretty sure I do."
"Shut up," said Kiba as the other boy pulled back.
Naruto's grin grew, if possible, wider.
"Shut up!" repeated Kiba.
"Told ya it was epic!" said Naruto happily.
"A kiss booth," said Kiba, still looking at him as though he had grown three extra heads. Out of his ass. "As in… getting chicks to pay us for a kiss. Us. In case you hadn't noticed, we're not the ones with the fuckin' mental fan clubs that meet on different days of the week to appreciate different parts of our bodies?"
Naruto made a face at the mention of his rival. (Who also sometimes doubled as his best friend.) "Sasuke?" he said, crossing his arms. "Don't make me laugh! That cold bastard could give anyone frostbite!"
"Hmm, I dunno about that," said Kiba unexpectedly. "That time I was babysittin' Hanabi – what?" he said grumpily in response to Naruto's raised eyebrow, "It's not like I could say no to Hinata when she looked so… anyway, turns out Hanabi's best friend Moegi – from Konohamaru's team, right? – is the new president of Sasuke's fan club." He shuddered.
The girls from their Academy class having finally moved on from their common object of obsession, said society had undergone quite a bit of renovation – with most of the younger generation of kunoichi taking over the helm.
"She happened to drop in for a bit that evenin'," Kiba went on, "And that's how I got to know more about the inner workings of fangirl minds than I ever, ever wanted to. Among other things, she had a lot to say on how she thought Sasuke'd be as a kisser… I think the general idea was that he'd be very… intense." He grimaced before continuing, "Lots of swagger too, apparently? With smoulderin' eyes and shit, not to mention mad skills with his… Gah! Don't make me say any more," he pleaded, gagging.
Naruto snorted. "Uh, that doesn't sound like Sasuke at all?" he said. Sure, the bastard had that stupid intense act of his going all the time, but swagger? Smouldering eyes? Looked like Konoha's young kunoichi brigade had been reading one too many trashy romance novels recently.
Because when Sasuke kissed you, it wouldn't be like that all.
He'd be focused, of course – as he was with almost everything he put his mind to, his coal-black eyes trained on your lips with the utmost concentration. His body would be warm, so warm you'd feel the heat creeping up your spine before he even touched you.
He wouldn't look nervous, but he'd bite his lip once and flick his tongue over it, fitfully; that pale pink mouth Naruto had been forced to get pretty up close and personal with all the times they'd fallen on top of each other in a tangle of limbs as they sparred, turning slick, shining –
"You okay, man?"
As the world shifted, Naruto gripped the edge of the desk behind him to steady himself. But his heart was still pounding like he'd run a mile, and his mouth was dry like it had been through the harshest of deserts, and his brain was throbbing with a single question – What the hell just happened?
He swallowed a few times, and willed his racing senses to calm down. As much as one could hope for after picturing their best, decidedly male friend leaning in to kiss them in vivid, (not entirely unpleasant) detail, that is.
Naruto stiffened. Fucking parentheses, coming out of nowhere and acting like they had it all figured out.
"They've got it all wrong," he said, voice impressively nonchalant as he remembered the conversation that had led to his little… diversion of thought. "Sasuke's such a prissy bitch, he wouldn't know what to do with a pretty girl puckerin' up right in front of him!"
Kiba chuckled. "You think that'll stop the fangirls? If he wouldn't Chidori 'em into next week for tryin', they'd rape his pale ass every chance they got! I'd almost feel sorry for the fucker… except, you know, I kinda don't?"
Steering his way out of the subject before he could give a name to the cold, sinking feeling that washed over him at the thought of horny fangirls and a not-unwilling Sasuke, he gave himself a shake and pounced on Kiba.
"But Kiba!" he cried theatrically, throwing one arm over his shoulders. This, he knew. This, he could deal with. "Think about it…" He stuck out a finger at some faraway point in space; swept along in the atmosphere, Kiba's avid gaze followed. "Sweet little Hinata stepping up to you for a kiss… oh Kiba-kun, lay one on me! Flushed cheeks, moist lips, heaving br—"
"All right, all right!" shouted Kiba, whacking Naruto with his elbow as his face burned red. "I – I'll do it! Just… just stop thinking about it!" He slammed his palm against Naruto's eyes, as if to stop the images from entering his head.
"Really?" Naruto beamed, bouncing a little on the balls of his feet and silently blessing Kiba for being so easy to bait.
"Yeah, yeah! For the love of god, just shut up," said Kiba hurriedly, trying not to think of what he'd agreed to as he made a hasty retreat. He didn't know it, but he wasn't the only one in the room sinking deeper and deeper into denial. "And you're buyin' the breath mints!"
"I can't believe I'm doing this," Kiba groaned for at least the fourth time that hour, voice stifled by the wooden counter he was currently slumped over. Next to him, Naruto was still fussing over their accounts notebook (brand new) and deposit box (empty).
"Did you feed me something back then?" went on Kiba, seemingly going through some sort of meltdown. "I hope you did. 'Cause otherwise it'd mean I was in my right mind when I… Oh hell, this is payback for all the times I stole a bite from Akamaru's dinner, isn't it? I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" he cried. "It won't happen again, Akamaru, I promise! It just… tasted so good…"
At his feet, the shaggy white dog woofed disdainfully and turned his nose up in the air.
"Akamaruuu," whined Kiba. "Don't be like tha—"
"CUSTOMERS!" bellowed Naruto suddenly, bounding delightedly to the front of their makeshift booth. Kiba lifted his head slowly, hardly daring to believe what he'd heard.
Shadowy forms of a bunch of girls were approaching from a distance. Kiba stumbled to his feet incredulously, palms dripping with sweat. Suddenly he found himself craving the complete and utter lack of business they'd had in the first hour since they opened, all over again.
"Oh fuck…" he muttered. "Oh fuck."
"Relax, dog-breath," chided Naruto in a whisper. Then, in a louder voice: "KISSES FOR SALE HERE! KISSES FOR SALE! ONLY FIFTY RYÕ FOR YOUR CHOICE OF GORGEOUS BISHOU– wha-? … Oh."
The feminine silhouettes had turned out to be a group of men with sacks of potatoes for 'curves'. Naruto sank to the floor, waves of melancholia rising all around him.
It didn't last long though – in minutes, his energy was back to regular Uzumaki levels and he resumed his flouncing around, trying to wave over anything that moved and popping mints into Kiba's mouth when he caught him off guard.
"Hey, you should be more grateful for this!" he pouted as the eighth piece of mint made its way into Kiba's oesophagus. "I'm doin' a service to whoever's gonna have to kiss your mangy mouth, ya know?"
Kiba looked morosely up at him from the slump he'd receded back into. "Wow, thanks, I bet they're gonna be so much use," he sighed dramatically, hiding in his face in his arms again. "Shouldn't you start stockin' up even more now, for all those ladies you see linin' up in droves?"
"Che, could you be any more pathetic?" said Naruto, narrowing his eyes at him. "You're lucky you have me!" He slung an arm around the other boy. "To remind you that I—" He stood up, pounding his chest, "—the unfailingly charming, devastatingly gorgeous Uzumaki Naruto, will have 'em queuin' up in no time! Sure, I'm a bit of an… acquired taste, but once you get a taste—" He lowered his voice conspiratorially for effect, "You keep comin' back for more."
"Fascinating," said Kiba drily. "You got a theory about me, too? You know, bein' your wingman and all, I should have some somethin' to deserve that position of honour, right? "
"You?" Naruto scratched the back of his head, surveying the other boy. "Hmm, well, heh-heh… let's see, you? … Ooh look, shiny!" He lunged forward and pulled Kiba's forehead protector over his eyes.
"Wow, I absolutely did not notice that subtle change of topic there," drawled Kiba, the eye-roll implicit in his voice though he was too lethargic to even carry the motion out.
"Naruto?" came a voice suddenly. "Kiba?"
Jumping at the unexpected arrival, the two boys turned to look across the counter. "Sakura-chan, Ino-chan!" said Naruto at once, grinning ear-to-ear. "Here for a little kissy-time?" he wagged his eyebrows.
"Um… what on earth are you doing?" said Sakura, eyes comically wide.
Naruto jabbed a finger at the sign displayed over the counter in reply.
"Chu-Chu-Choose Me," read Sakura in a faint voice, "Have you got a kiss from your gorgeous bishie toda – What the hell?!" she squealed.
"Awesome catchphrase, ne?" said Naruto proudly. "I came up with it!"
"Wait…" said Ino, who had mirrored Sakura's shell-shocked gaze before erupting into giggles all of a sudden, "What you're saying is…" She clutched her stomach, almost doubling over as she wiped tears of mirth from her eyes. "This… this thing you've got here… Is a kiss booth?"
"Yes!" said Naruto loudly, even as Kiba hopefully managed a "No?"
"Ino-pig," began Sakura patiently, "That's ridic – Oh my god!" she exclaimed, clapping a hand to her forehead as her eyes took in the whole scene. (Naruto watched her arm move with a wariness bred from years of first-hand experience.) "You idiots!"
"Sakura-chyaaan, you're so mean," whined Naruto.
"It's not your fault," said Ino kindly, patting his arm. "Even if most of us didn't have boyfriends, we wouldn't pay for a kiss! That's just not a girl thing to do." Then her pleasant smile became wicked. "And besides, it's not like I can't kiss you any old time I want!" She pulled him close and place a big sloppy kiss on his cheek.
"No fair!" pouted Naruto. "That's fifty ryõ!" he said, holding out his palm and blinking expectantly at her. Ino just laughed and swatted his hand away.
"Not a girl thing, you say," said a new voice, and Naruto turned to see Tenten looking around the booth with a touch of interest. "I wonder how many would make an exception for Sasuke, though!"
The unexpected mention of the one person Naruto had been trying not to think of since that conversation with Kiba sent his stomach plummeting through the ground. Because it reminded him of that gross and deeply unpleasant vision he'd had that time, of course!
"Now, Tenten," said Ino huffily, "That's isn't very fair. Sasuke-kun hosting a kiss booth only now, when I already have a boyfriend…"
"Troublesome," muttered Shikamaru, emerging behind Tenten from a conversation with Neji. Dragging his feet up to Ino, he grabbed her arm, tugged her behind a tree and proceeded to kiss her so soundly she'd forget anything else ever existed.
"Damn," said Tenten as she watched them go. Worrying her lower lip with her teeth for a moment, she glanced up at Neji. A mischievous smile spread across her face. Linking her fingers with her boyfriend's, she threw a wave behind her shoulder as she hurried off, dragging him along behind her.
"Um… what just happened there…?" said Naruto gloomily, watching their list of potential customers dwindle down to one.
Sakura rolled her eyes, folded her arms and made a poor attempt at hiding her frustration.
Pondering a way to coax the stony-faced girl into accepting their deal without attracting her iron fist instead, Naruto didn't notice Kakashi approach.
But Sakura had – and she was looking at their former sensei with a strange glint in her eyes Naruto had never seen before.
"Maa, maa, what have we here?" said the masked jounin, peering around curiously. His one visible eye lit up with realisation. "A kissing booth?" he gasped in disbelief.
He moved with lightning speed, "But I – I've only read about these things before!" he said, voice shaking with poorly disguised excitement. "Naruto, you have proved yourself a worthy disciple of mine indeed!" He looked at his old student with pride.
Then his gaze turned calculating. "In technical terms, I'd say it's a fair effort," he said, running a critical eye over all their arrangement, "But still a pretty amateur job, all things considered. For starters, you should take your top off!"
"EH?!" screeched Naruto, springing a good few yards away from him. "You… you pervert!"
Kakashi's mouth moved under his mask, evidently to impart more advice to his dear old student, but he froze when Sakura's hand clamped suddenly over his arm. The gleam in her eyes was more predatory than ever. Kakashi's eye widened.
The next moment, it turned up in an inverted U as he allowed her to yank him off without too much of a struggle.
"Oh, and get yourselves nice and wet!" he called as they disappeared around the corner of a building. "Sprinklers, you know?"
"Ne, Kiba," said Naruto confusedly, scratching his head. "Why does it look like everyone besides us is getting kissed right now?"
"I don't know," said Kiba loudly, seeming to rise from the dead. "Maybe 'cause we'd have better luck with business paradin' our hairy ass cracks instead?"
"Hey, hey, I'll have you know this ass crack happens to be perfectly hair-free, thanks!"
"Hah!" Kiba preened, "Don't pretend you're not actually jealous of all that glorious fuzz gracing my perfectly, awesomely, masculine—"
"K-Kiba-kun?" said a voice uncertainly. "N-Naruto-kun?"
"—h-head?" finished Kiba with a whimper, jumping up and smoothing down his hair and the creases of his shirt with a wild, panicky expression on his face. "H-Hello, Hinata, er… nice day, isn't it?"
"Ano… what are the two of you doing?" she said. Her voice was gentle and sweet as always, but there was curiosity in her large pale eyes.
"Th-this?" said Kiba with a nervous chuckle. "Ah… funny story, you see… "
Glancing over, Naruto could almost see the cogs turning in his friend's head as he tried to think of a way to explain what they were doing without scarring the poor girl for life.
His eyes travelled over to the lonely park across the road from where they'd set up their booth. There were tall trees scattered about that cast much of it in shade, but he knew there was a pretty bubbling brook running through them somewhere.
Snatches of a conversation with Shikamaru came back to him - he'd taken Ino on a date here once because it had seemed a fairly non-troublesome location, but she had fallen so in love with the place, that everything the lazy genius did had seemed overwhelmingly romantic to her. She'd rhapsodised about it for days afterwards.
in short, it sounded like just the place that might inspire an idiot like Kiba to finally, finally make his move and spare Naruto the mooning.
"He's right, you know… pretty hilarious, actually!" he told her brightly.
Both of them turned to look questioningly at him, Kiba with a side dish of 'what the fuck do you think you're doing?' Ignoring him, Naruto placed a firm hand each on his and Hinata's shoulders. "In fact," he said cheerfully, "You're gonna wanna sit down for this, Hinata!"
Offering which explanation, he steered them out in the direction of the park on the other side of the road, a short distance off. "And maybe a walk to warm up?"
Kiba threw him a horror-stricken look over his shoulder, but Naruto just grinned blindingly at the back of their heads. "Have fun!" he called and shoved them off together.
For a few moments, he watched them go – Kiba gesticulating furiously back at him and Hinata's puzzled face dissolving into a soft giggle when Akamaru bounded up to lick her ankles.
With a small smile, he turned to return to the counter –
… Only to bump into something. Something warm, solid, and deeply disgruntled.
Rubbing his forehead, Naruto squinted one-eyed to find Sasuke glaring back by way of greeting. He looked windswept, as if he'd just been training, and there was a bead of sweat trailing down his jaw. It trickled off to his collarbone.
"You… What are you doing?" demanded Naruto, hastily shifting his eyes up to meet Sasuke's. It came out as more hostile than he'd intended, but Sasuke hadn't moved at all since the collision and neither had he, so they were still awkwardly pressed up against each other and just so very, very close.
"Hn," came the noncommittal grunt, but Naruto didn't miss the curious glance he cast over the counter, the sign and back at him. "I could ask you the same thing."
"You first," said Naruto, sticking out his lower lip childishly.
It happened in slow motion. Down flickered Sasuke's eyes to his mouth, then back up to his eyes. Naruto felt his heart crash to a halt, then start to thud painfully against his chest. Why did those dark, dark eyes feel so impossible to look away from now? And had he always felt so warm?
Trapped in a sort of paralysed daze, Naruto watched helplessly as Sasuke's gaze travelled back to his mouth. Pale lips parted, the lower caught between his teeth. He was so very close. So close, that he could see the blood rushing into the area surrounding the crevice his teeth had sunk into, turning it bright red.
Then his tongue appeared to lap at it, and it was so very like a certain vision he'd once had that it him with a jolt of déjà vu. The spell broke, and he stumbled back a few steps, jerking his head away.
What had gotten into him? Why was he looking at Sasuke – Sasuke, for fuck's sake! – like some over-zealous shoujo manga heroine, acutely aware of every molecule of his person, every tiny motion he made magnified a million times, overwhelming every one of his senses?
He clenched his fists, annoyed at the ridiculous directions his mind was taking.
Then Sasuke spoke. "I was training," he said. Naruto stiffened, steadfastly ignoring the prickles that familiar voice now sent down his spine. "Where were you?" The glare that was back in his eyes was almost accusatory now.
Flushing embarrassedly with the sudden realisation of how incredibly stupid their whole endeavour had been, he stalled, not really feeling like explaining everything to him.
"Well?" prodded Sasuke.
It wasn't like him to be this insistent. Naruto took a moment out of his exercise in denial to bask in it. Slowly, his face cracked into a huge grin. Sasuke clenched his fists, but waited till he was done with his gloat.
"… And then we brought all our supplies and set up here!" He winked, giving the other boy a thumbs-up. Recounting their plans had almost helped him forget what a train-wreck it had turned out to be. "That was two hours ago though…"
"Moron," came Sasuke's calm assessment of the situation.
"What did you say?" growled Naruto, bristling at once. The nerve of him, walking in here, listening to everything and calling him… that. Arrogant prick!
"Moron, I said. You complete and utter moron. You need a bit of money, and this is the great plan you come up with?" There was a pause. A muscle in Sasuke's jaw tightened. "Kissing… other people?"
Naruto looked away from Sasuke's face. It had been fleeting, but he'd seen it. A strange, unfamiliar look in his eyes as he said those last two words, ever so softly. One that made him feel like he was on the brink of something. Something so big, so certain to change everything between them that he didn't want to identify it, not just yet.
Instead, he snickered. "That kinda was the plan, actually… considerin' I'm not too keen on gettin' up close an personal with all that dog-breath any time soon, ya know?"
"Wha—?" said Naruto, completely thrown.
"I accept," Sasuke gritted out, fists clenched and resolutely looking at some faraway point over Naruto's shoulder. "I'll do it, I'll stand at the damn booth with you."
For a few moments, Naruto just stared at him. Then his eyes widened. "Stand at the…" he repeated blandly. He blinked, struggling to digest the fact that Sasuke – ice-cold bastard extraordinaire with the social skills of a doorknob – was really making this offer, and his auditory faculties hadn't gone completely berserk.
Then, before he could decide how he was going to even begin to react to that, he found his hand in Sasuke's warm grip. Shit, he thought, as the heat flared up all over his body, down to the tips of his toes. Shit, shit, shit.
So distracted was he that before he knew it, Sasuke had tugged him over behind the counter.
"What do think you're doing, bast—" he began, but he never finished that sentence.
The effect was instantaneous – twenty yards away, a girl turned her head, twin pigtails bouncing. She blinked a few times. Slowly, her eyes widened. Emitting a high-pitched squeal, she raced back around the corner she'd just crossed, only to return with three others.
Naruto stared in stunned silence as the efficient machinations of Sasuke's fan club set to work before their eyes. Like moths to a flame, bees to honey or Kakashi to porn, they scurried from all directions up to the counter, giggling madly.
"Ne, Sasuke…" mumbled Naruto. He lifted a hand to scratch his head. Sasuke's digits, still linked with his own, rose with it.
"HUH?!" As one, both boys sprang apart with squawks of dismay, till they landed on their butts on opposite ends behind the counter. Sasuke glared at him for a few moments, then turned his head away emphatically. (It was what Naruto called his inner diva move, but he was careful not to say as much within earshot of him anymore.)
Naruto saw the red-tinged ears and the back of his neck, and felt a vicious sense of satisfaction despite the matching colour on his own face. Serve the bastard right for being so making him feel so conflicted, damn it!
Nursing his bruised behind, he clambered to his feet. Five feet away, Sasuke did the same. Grimly, they turned to each other and nodded, reaching an unspoken truce.
Facing the clamouring crowd, Naruto offered them a sunny beam. The few kunoichi that weren't fixated on Sasuke's every move and were only really here because of peer pressure, blushed.
"Now, ladies!" he said, blessedly ignorant of the flutters of confusion he was causing. "Calm down, there's enough Uzumaki to go around!" He gave a disparaging glance to the side, and conceded, "Him too, I guess."
But another dark pair of eyes had seen everything he'd missed, and narrowed menacingly.
"Bastard," muttered Naruto, elbowing him. "I know it's askin' for the impossible, but would it kill you to look a little less murder-some at the girls expectin' some solid tongue-time with you in a moment?"
"Murderous," corrected Sasuke absently, but he tore his glare away from the still-blushing girls eyeing Naruto. Then he started, and spluttered, "Tongue-time?"
Horrified, his eyes fell on the first girl in the line. She was staring beadily up at him, a few coins clutched in her hand.
"I'm here for a kiss from Sasuke-kun," she declared, as if the creepy, unblinking stare wasn't a dead giveaway.
Sasuke gave her a long, assessing look normally reserved for particularly tricky genjutsu. Naruto watched him like a hawk, half-expecting his eyes to turn red any moment and frighten the girl, but she seemed unconcerned. In fact, judging by the deep blush on her cheeks, she was wallowing in it.
"You sure about this?" Sasuke asked her gruffly.
"Uh-huh!" The girl nodded vigorously, grinning so hard her eyes squeezed almost shut.
The girl nodded again; it was a wonder her head stayed on.
Sasuke tried his one last bit of hope, and glanced at her cheek.
"And I want it here!" she trilled, placing a finger on her lips and effectively squashing that.
Sasuke snapped. "What the – how old are you, twelve?!" he barked.
"Not yet, but my birthday's in two weeks," she said, giving him a meaningful look.
Naruto, who had just been contemplating the possibility of Sasuke making a run for it, and deciding he didn't particularly like the idea of dealing with a horde of jilted, hormonal females alone, cleared his throat.
"Ignore his bastardly ways," he told the girl. "He's just cranky 'cause he hasn't kicked his daily round of puppies yet. Oi, bastard!" He flapped a hand in front of Sasuke's nose. "Stop bein' so rude to these lovely ladies or I'll kick your ass till you're grovellin' at their feet!"
With a long-suffering grunt, Sasuke turned, undoubtedly meaning to inflict some choice words of insult at him, but the words seemed to die in his throat when their eyes met. He stared at Naruto for a long moment.
(Naruto's mouth most certainly did not go dry, nor his heartbeat escalate. Especially not when Sasuke's eyes slipped to his mouth again.)
No scathing words seemed forthcoming, but Naruto wasn't complaining. Partly because it was a little hard to wrap his mind around any coherent thought at all when Sasuke was staring so fixedly at his lips, and partly because whatever Sasuke saw in them made him straighten up, square his shoulders, and turn back to the girl.
"Right then," he muttered, adjusting his collar again.
He cleared his throat. Cracked his knuckles. Stretched his neck for a bit.
Once he'd stalled enough, he began to lean in.
Naruto was going to say something stupid. He just knew it. It was coiling in the pits of his stomach, churning up his insides. In the privacy of his head, he could admit it wasn't an entirely unfamiliar experience. It bubbled over, charged up, up, up.
... and out.
At once, Sasuke straightened. He looked at the hand gripping his upper arm like a vice, then up at Naruto with an unreadable expression on his face.
Naruto folded an arm behind his head and looked off to the side. "I mean…" he muttered, biding for time because where the hell he was planning to go with this, he had no idea. "What I meant to say was… ah damn it, come with me!" He yanked the other boy along behind the booth, and into the thicket of trees beyond.
He skidded to a halt a good distance into the trees, not sure if the persistent ringing in his ears was the rising, heated murmur from the crowd they'd left at the booth, his own thudding pulse or the cacophony of voices holding a frenzied conference in his head.
When he'd caught his breath, he found Sasuke looking steadily at him. He felt his stomach drop all over again at the cool, inscrutable gaze.
Swallowing, he opted for the best road he knew. "Heh, bastard, you can stop lookin' at me like that. I saved your ass back there and you know it!" He folded his arms and gave him what was sure to be a maddeningly superior look. "I mean, I couldn't just let ya mess this up, could I… we have a reputation to consider!"
"Of course," said Sasuke dryly.
"I mean, it's just so obvious," went on Naruto loudly, barely aware of the words leaving his mouth but still recklessly plowing on, "That you obviously didn't have the first clue where to start."
"Cut to the chase, moron," said Sasuke. "Just where are you going with this?"
Naruto wished he knew himself. His voice had a mind of its own, though. "It's relevant 'cause you're workin' for me and Kiba now…" he drawled triumphantly, "And you obviously haven't ever even kissed anyone before!"
In the six seconds it took his brain to catch up to his mouth, Sasuke raised one eyebrow. "What?" he said.
Good question, Naruto thought, but his mouth held an answer at the ready.
"You heard me!" he said breathlessly. "You act all cool like you've seen everythin' and done everythin', but I can bet my ass you've never had any actual experience before!"
"Actually, there was that time at the Academy…" Sasuke deadpanned.
Naruto let out a mortified squawk. "The hell does that count!"
"And that time when we were chained together at the waterfall…"
"Gah, neither does that!" cried Naruto, cheeks burning. "What I meant to say was, we could… kiss."
Sasuke's eyes widened. "What?" he breathed.
"We could kiss…" said Naruto, mouth running off again as blood pounded in his ears. "God knows you could do with some practice, bastard."
He may have found the look in Sasuke's eyes comical, stashing it away in his head as prime teasing material for the future. Except all he was now was a tiny mottled pebble caught along in a crashing torrent, hurtling towards what, he didn't know.
Sasuke squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. When he opened them again, Naruto may as well have just commented on the weather. "And kissing you is supposed to be the answer to all my problems?"
Naruto grinned. He felt strange, like he was floating a few inches off the ground. Maybe it was all the water rushing wildly beneath his feet. "What's the problem, Sa-su-ke?" he sang. "Could the great, all-knowing Uchiha be…" He clutched a hand to his chest, mouth forming an 'O' in mock disbelief. "…scared?"
There was a grunt, and a swish of fabric, and then – Sasuke was kissing him. Dimly, he felt sure this warranted more of a reaction. It all seemed so dream-like, though, and he didn't want to disturb it. Who knew what direction this dream might take if Sasuke stopped kissing him?
Besides, Sasuke's nose squashing into his own, and Sasuke's calloused hands framing his face as he pressed their lips together furiously, didn't feel altogether unpleasant. Somehow he was sure it should, but if it didn't, no one needed to know, did they?
Naruto hummed, wondering if dream kisses always stole your breath away so effectively.
As if in answer, Sasuke shifted his fingers to sink into his hair, gripping the blond locks fiercely. He mashed their closed mouths together harder, only faintly aware of fingers linking with his own and a pressure in the middle of his chest that made him feel like he was going to –
"Can'd breadhe," Naruto gasped as he clawed the other boy's hand off his hair and managed to shove him off at last.
Stumbling back a few steps from the momentum, Sasuke took in a huge gulp of air that he hadn't even noticed he'd been sorely lacking. Both boys crumpled forward, hands on their hearts as they panted heavily.
In time, Sasuke's breathing returned to normal, but he didn't look up. He'd blown it. Of course he had. He wondered for how long it might be considered socially acceptable to stay hunched over like this, intently observing a tiny beetle scurrying between his toes.
"Were you trying to kill me, bastard?"
Sasuke jerked up at the loud, familiar tone, features schooled into well-rehearsed neutrality.
"Heh, told you you'd be a shitty kisser." Dark eyes narrowed at the self-satisfied tone. Six inches away, a tiny mottled pebble lost the battle it had never had a chance to begin with. Naruto fell under. "Good thing you have me to practice on though, huh?"
The rest of his body now joining the conspiracy his mouth had started against him, he put a hand on Sasuke's shoulder and moved towards him. Inches apart, he felt impossibly warm, and he was looking at him the way he'd imagined once.
Still, nothing could have prepared him for this, not really. Sasuke's breath hitched once, then twice, as he awkwardly closed the gap between them. Somehow, this was enough to make Naruto's heart squeeze a little.
When he felt the first barely-there touch of lips send frissons of warmth all over his body, down to the tips of his toes, he started and parted his lips for a sharp intake of hand on Naruto's shoulder slid up slowly to cup the back of his neck, leaving of a trail of heat and a skipping pulse in its wake. Sasuke shuffled closer and deepened the kiss.
Some indeterminate amount of time later, Naruto found himself feeling unreasonably bereft of warmth and drawing a blank to remember where they were, what he ought to be doing, or why the sky was blue. Though to be fair, he'd never really been very clear on that last one, come to think of it.
He was going to be Hokage! Hokages didn't need to bother their awesome heads with crap like why the sky was blue.
He scratched his belly for a few moments, waiting for his head to get a little less woolly. When it did, he realised Sasuke was looking at him, face insufferably smug.
That did it. As everything that wasn't an Academy lesson he'd slept through began coming back to him, he also came to the understanding that there was a rather impressive blush currently burning up his face.
"I'm not blushing," he muttered at once, "You're blushing," and yanked Sasuke forward by the nape of his neck.
When they parted next, it was Sasuke's turn to ponder the reason for his existence while Naruto looked on, shamelessly pleased. Sasuke gritted his teeth, and returned the favour.
Kiba was dreaming.
He was dreaming, he was sure of it. It was a lovely dream. He'd spent almost an hour in the park with Hinata, and she had laughed at the lamest jokes he could crack shy of toilet humour. He could still hear the sound of it tinkling enchantingly in his ears.
Oh, but that wasn't all – Akamaru had trotted up with a pretty bunch of flowers caught between his teeth, for him to offer her. She had blushed beautifully, drawing the dog into her lap to cuddle. And over his head, she had leant in to kiss him on the cheek.
They were heading out of the park now, because Hinata had to be home before sunset. Her soft, dainty hand was clasped in his own.
As if all this wasn't enough, on their way out onto the street he spied a huge group of girls gathered where he'd left Naruto at the counter. They were bubbling over with energy, huddled together in small groups .
Oh, he was definitely dreaming.
Frowning and exchanging a look with the girl next to him, he hurried over to the booth. To his surprise, the space behind the counter was empty. He looked behind the screen too, but Naruto was nowhere in sight.
"Uh, miss - could you tell us what's goin' on here?"
When his question fell on deaf ears, Hinata placed a firm hand on his arm, and stepped forward with a too-bright smile on her lips.
Whatever freaky girl-girl bonding jutsu she used, it didn't take long for the kunoichi in question to start talking. Apparently, Sasuke had joined Naruto behind the counter and he'd been about to kiss the first in line.
She pointed to a small pigtailed girl describing her experience to the others in vivid detail. Kiba sorely hoped his ears were deceiving him when he heard her wax lyrical about the occasional fleck spit that had had flown from his mouth as he spoke.
Except, Naruto had stopped him at the last moment. They'd looked at each other intensely, and run off together.
"That kinda sounds like somethin' out of a BL novel," Kiba pointed out, voicing what everyone had been thinking. "What? My sister had a lot of 'em lyin' around."
"Kiba-kun," Hinata whispered, drawing his attention to the rest of the crowd.
Kiba turned to look. The girls had ceased their huddles of conversation and suddenly, all eyes were on him. He swallowed.
"You," said a tall freckled girl said, approaching him slowly as her long braided hair swung menacingly behind her; the rest started to follow suit, "Inuzuka Kiba… You're the one who was here with Naruto earlier, were you not?"
"No?" said Kiba hopefully
"Tell us, Inuzuka Kiba," the girl droned, as the crowd closed in. "Where did Sasuke-kun run off to?"
Kiba grabbed Hinata, leapt five feet in one stride onto Akamaru's back, and made off into the woods for dear life.
Two hundred paces away, Naruto groaned. Who knew the roof of his mouth could be so excruciatingly sensitive?
He felt Sasuke smirk against his lips as his tongue lazily brushed that spot again, turning his brain to mush. Then he remembered the hand he had on Sasuke's lower back.
If he weren't otherwise occupied, Naruto would have rubbed his hands, cackling like a good old-fashioned villain.
As it were, his hands made their journey steadily south. Just you wait, Uchiha, he thought gleefully. Just a little lower…
There may have been a sound of people crashing through trees some distance away. They wouldn't know.
But when Kiba burst into their clearing, paused for a second and let out a blood-curdling yell… that grabbed their attention plenty.
With yells of their own almost rivalling Kiba's, Naruto and Sasuke jumped apart. They swivelled around to face him, finding him flanked by a wide-eyed Hinata and an excited Akamaru.
Kiba was still yelling, though, so Naruto felt obliged to continue as well.
"Idiot," Sasuke muttered, clocking him on the head. "Shut up."
Naruto felt something in his chest tighten when he noticed the shifty eyes and lip-chewing. He was nervous. The signs were barely noticeable, but Naruto had always been able to read his comrade and most frequent sparring opponent perfectly.
And it wasn't like the past half hour or so of enthusiastically acquainting themselves further with each other's bodies hadn't helped, either.
A few feet away, Kiba had stopped yelling. Naruto turned to find him regarding them sombrely.
"Um…" Naruto said, voice coming out a little scratchy from the lack of conversation earlier. "So, it's like…"
How would he go about explaining to his friend what he didn't have the first clue about yet himself? His head started to throb. He began to wish he were back home in bed so he could just sleep on it a bit.
Well if he was being completely honest, he wanted to make out with Sasuke some more, but did that and bed have to mutually exclusive entities?
He was jolted back from that interesting little idea by Kiba, who was suddenly almost nose-to-nose with him.
"How could you?" whispered the boy.
"How could you?" he said again, nearly sobbing as he gripped the front of Naruto's jacket.
Naruto stared at him. Sure it wasn't everyday you walked in on a friend you'd known all your life to be straight enthusiastically making out with a guy, but wasn't he overreacting just a tad?
"Uh get a grip, man," he said, but he was summarily ignored.
"How could you, Naruto?" Kiba wailed, eyes glazed as he shook him back and forth. "How could you just keep all those horny Uchiha fangirls hangin' back there, leavin' me at their mercy and have them tailin' my ass?"
Naruto winced. "Ouch," he said sympathetically.
"Accurate," sniffed Kiba, them turned to Sasuke. "So, Uchiha, huh?" he said, sizing him up for a bit before settling on a dark glare. "I don't know how this happened, exactly, but I guess this explains the ramen over wet naked chicks? So I'm guessin' top of the list was wet naked Uch- Ah, fuck no," he groaned with a violent shudder. "Seriously though, you're sure about this? I mean, Uchiha, seriously?"
As a dark cloud of murderous intent rose around Sasuke, Naruto turned red, impossibly touched, and threw his arms around Kiba.
"Shit man, when I said that I didn't put myself as a potential candidate," Kiba grunted, equally red as he pried him off gingerly.
"As touching as this little reunion is," said Sasuke coolly, "I think Akamaru can sense the fangirls closing in."
Akamaru wagged his tail urgently, yelping in assent.
"Why Uchiha, scared are we?" snickered Kiba.
Just then his nose twitched, just like Akamaru's had a minute ago. Abruptly, his face drained completely of colour. "Oh sweet Kami, they're really here," he hissed. Taking Hinata's hand he jumped onto the safety of Akamaru's back.
Then he turned to Naruto. After a moment of awkward hesitation, he pointed a finger at Sasuke. "You!" he said at last. "No funny business on my friend!" With these parting words, he turned Akamaru around, and they took off into the trees.
By now Naruto could sense the fangirls approaching as well, but Sasuke didn't move.
"Well?" he demanded, turning to him. "Are we just going to stand here and get mowed down by them?"
Naruto learnt two important life lessons right then: one, talking to your best friend after an impromptu session of heated making out happens to be pretty much the pinnacle of awkward situations. And two, said awkwardness does not apply to certain stoic bastards who can remain perfectly unperturbed in said situations.
"They're your customers," said Sasuke. "Shouldn't you be sticking around to give them what they came for?"
Naruto felt his cheeks go warm again. Damn traitor blood vessels.
Not trusting himself to reply, he grabbed Sasuke's hand and started to run.
And like that, in that clump of trees on the outskirts of Konoha, as the first stars began to glimmer in the sky, Naruto ran like the wind with his fingers locked with Sasuke's and proceeded to freak the hell out.
The problem with kissing your very male best friend like there was tomorrow was that despite what the metaphors said, tomorrows did come. In fact, they were pretty damn inevitable.
And when they did, they'd bring along so many things to run wildly through your head, you wouldn't have the first clue where to start.
So lost was he in his own mess of thoughts, that he didn't notice Sasuke had stopped till the momentum caused him to collide painfully into the other boy.
"Dobe," said Sasuke, "You're thinking too much."
Naruto balled his hands into fists at once - apparently his ability to itch to ram his fist in the bastard's face hadn't suffered in the slightest.
Sasuke's next words were in a voice so low he almost had to read them from his lips.
"We've never been very good at it."
Naruto's hands fell limply to the sides.
He could deny the way his heart had started to race at the words, or the pleasant warmth coursing through his veins. He could, if everything had ceased so spectacularly to matter anymore.
Suddenly, everything seemed so perfectly, laughably simple.
After everything they'd been through, was kissing really such a life-altering development? They'd been each other's first rivals, first friends – first kisses, even. Was sharing third kisses too, and fourth, and fifth, and all the ones after such a shocking notion? It was just...kissing, after all. Like fighting, except with tongue. More satisfying, too.
Oh yes, definitely more satisfying.
So maybe this was just another thing they were meant to be to each other. And maybe, it wasn't surprising in the least. Whatever it was. They'd always been so much better at addressing issues without words anyway.
Naruto took a deep breath, and stepped towards the abyss.
"But why?" he said, voice embarrassingly croaky. "No one's ever wanted to kiss me, not even when I put up a sign."
Sasuke sighed softly. "You always were a moron," he murmured, and pressed him into the tree they had stopped under.
Naruto wasn't sure how long they'd been kissing when he broke apart and narrowed his eyes at the other boy. "You made me jealous of an eleven-year-old!" he accused.
Sasuke looked away from him, eyes sullenly fixed on a point beyond Naruto's shoulder. "You started it," he muttered.
Naruto's mouth fell open. He'd been… jealous? Oh shit, he thought, remembering the way Sasuke had decided for himself Naruto needed help at the booth and unceremoniously dragged him there. Honestly, this was Sasuke. That had been as uncharacteristic a move for him as Shikamaru running marathons in his free time.
"Woah," he crowed, staring at Sasuke in a whole new light. "You actually didn't want me to kiss any of them, did you?"
Scowling, Sasuke pulled him in again. Naruto smiled into his mouth, slid his fingers into his hair, and didn't complain.
Then he un-glued himself to burst out, "And you knew if you showed up they'd only want to kiss and you and not give me a second glance! Cocky bastard!"
"No, lucky me," Sasuke smirked before closing the distance between them again, and there wasn't any more talking for a long time after that.
"I think they've stopped looking for us," Naruto murmured some indeterminate amount of time later. He'd always found it lame how couples started to speak in hushed voices when they got together, but that was exactly what he found them doing now. His cheeks burned at the thought.
"Hn," Sasuke breathed into the corner of his mouth. He'd been fidgeting for a while now, with mosquitoes attacking his bare calves as the sun set. When off-duty, he still gave in to that little exhibitionist streak Naruto had always suspected he possessed, what with the shorts and, once upon a time, the chest-baring.
Naruto shifted his face and kissed Sasuke on the cheek. Once, twice. Pressed his nose into the warm skin and breathed.
"Mm?" He sounded a little sleepy.
"How many times did we kiss today?"
Sasuke pulled back, a scowl on his face. "What?"
"You know... I'm runnin' a booth, remember? My kisses come at a price today!"
Naruto could nearly see the vein in Sasuke's temple tick. "In that case," he gritted out eventually, "So do mine."
"Yeah well, we never decided on a payment scheme for you," Naruto sighed. "Sorry, yeah?"
The storm gathering over Sasuke's head darkened.
"But you're in luck!" Naruto went on cheerfully. "I also accept… other forms of payment." He tilted his head, wagging an eyebrow suggestively at him.
Sasuke rolled his eyes. Naruto watched him lick his lips as he assessed the situation, clearly warring with himself. "And what kind of payment would this be?" he said.
"A date at Ichiraku's," chirped Naruto. "Heh – you were expecting something perverted weren't you?"
"Wh- Huh!? Of course not, you dolt," spluttered Sasuke, face red.
Naruto grinned, thoughts of ramen and the possibility of later investigating that epiphany he'd had earlier regarding Sasuke and a bed starting to flood his brain.
"Sure, sure," he said, and with a shit-eating grin he started off towards the village, knowing Sasuke would glare at his back for a bit, fidget some more and finally grudgingly follow.
Then he'd say something too clever for certain stuck-up bastards to stomach, said bastard would bitch a little, and they'd bicker like any other time, except this time it would end with one of them pressed into a tree with their tongues down each other's throats.
And Naruto could only wonder what the hell had taken them so long.
i have no idea how this ended up being so long. it was supposed to be like 4 pages in word, but once i started writing it just spun out of control, lol. oh well.
reviews are loved x