Chapter 14:


“I can’t believe you talked him into coming back,” Sasuke grumbled as he and Naruto made their way out of the dojo after another day of practice. They were sore all over, and Sasuke knew they were pushing themselves to their limits, but he hoped it would be all worth it in the end.  They could leave nothing to chance; Sasuke would make sure of it. Naruto, meanwhile, was still showing no signs of hurting from the incident with Kisame, and Sasuke had to keep reminding himself not to be such a worrywart. If Naruto was convinced he was fine…then he had no other choice but to believe him.


“Admit that you’re happy, Sasuke,” Naruto replied with a chuckle, nudging the other boy gently. “At least we’re all together again.”


“Yeah, yeah, just one big happy family,” Sasuke said with a roll of his eyes. “Are you coming over to my place?”


Naruto pursed his lips in thought – the invitation very tempting. However,


“Nah, not today. I promised to check out Kiba’s soccer game. He’s going to be playing for the first time since he signed up.”


Sasuke nodded, trying to squash down the dull pang of jealousy. It was just a soccer game for chrissakes. It wasn’t as if Naruto was going to return back to Kiba… besides, their relationship was becoming deeper, wasn’t it? What was there to worry about?


“So…I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”


Naruto grinned. “Sure. The pep rally for us is on Wednesday, right? I don’t wanna forget like I usually do…”


“Speaking of which…”




“I haven’t seen you light up for almost two days now. Going cold turkey?” Sasuke asked with a raised brow.


Naruto, who was still amazed at his sudden dislike for his former addiction nodded, “Yeah. It’s weird. Ever since…”


That night with Kisame…


“…Monday, I just don’t seem to enjoy the damn thing anymore. I even tried buying new packs today and they all still tasted like crap. Maybe my body’s all smoked out and can’t take it anymore.”


Sasuke laughed softly at the rather nonsensical deduction, but shrugged all the same. “Whatever you say, Naruto. At least you feel healthier, don’t you? Smoking is bad.”


“Look who’s talking. You still smoke…”


“I’m trying to quit, douchebag. Anyway…I’m off. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” And before he could stop himself - actually, he hadn’t really given it much thought - Sasuke leaned closer to place a tender kiss on Naruto’s lips, only to blink in surprise as the blond took a step back with an aghast look on his features.


“What are you doing?” Naruto whispered harshly, blushing in embarrassment as a few students passing by snickered at what had just happened.


Sasuke frowned. “What’s wrong? I’m just saying good…”


“With a kiss in public?” came the accusatory tone. “I don’t mind us doing it in private, but not out here with everyone watching, goddamn it!”


Sasuke’s scowl deepened. “So it’s okay for you to tease me and give everyone some hint that we might be a couple, and I refer to what you said the other day in the dojo about ‘thanking me properly later’ and now you think it’s a bad thing to give you a kiss in public?”


Naruto rubbed a hand across his forehead. “Look, Sasuke…”


“Never mind, Naruto. I get it. See you tomorrow.”


Shit. “Sasuke, I’m not…”


“NARUTO!” came the sudden bellow that had the blond turning around quickly to see who the culprit was. Chouji was huffing and puffing towards him with Shikamaru strolling nonchalantly behind.  Torn between the two sides, Naruto glanced back at Sasuke and cursed beneath his breath as the dark-haired boy was already gone from sight.


“You’re running late,” Chouji panted as he stopped to catch his breath. “The game is about to start, man.”


“Yeah…” Naruto mumbled as he joined his friends to make their way to the soccer field behind the school.


“Boyfriend troubles?” Shikamaru asked with a light smirk, raising his hands in surrender at the cold look that was given in response. “Ouch. Sorry for asking.”


Boyfriend troubles? came the worrisome thoughts. Is that really what we are now? Christ!


The stadium was filled to capacity, but Chouji had been able to get good seats for them nearly close to the field. A giant bag of snacks had been placed to hold the spot, and Chouji moved it out of the way so they could sit. The crowd was loud and boisterous, horns and trumpets blaring as the students (and some parents) tried to show their support for their favorite team. Their opponent today was Iwata High – a school that was consistently ranked top five in the nation when it came to their sports teams. They were dressed in blue jerseys and white shorts, while Konoha was in the familiar green and red jerseys and dark green shorts. It must have been an important game, because even Tsunade-sama, the principal, was a part of the special V.I.P section.


Naruto scanned the field in search of Kiba’s familiar features, and wasn’t disappointed as the players were introduced and Kiba took his place among his teammates. He had been designated the number 11, and he looked up at the sudden scream of his name, blushing darkly as he noticed Naruto, Shikamaru and Chouji all cheering as loud as they could for him.


“His sister and mom’s here too,” Shikamaru said, nudging Naruto and forcing him to look behind and into the upper deck seats where he could spot the loud women with Akamaru perched on the younger’s head, yelling at the top of their lungs for their boy to do his best. Naruto laughed softly; sure that Kiba was dying with embarrassment out there.


For the next hour and a half, they cheered and booed and went through the normal ups and downs that were involved in live sporting events, and at the end of the day, Konoha won by only one goal. Kiba had three assists, and even though his lone attempt at scoring had failed, he had still played like a pro and Naruto was damn proud of his friend.


If he’s still my friend that is…


Since their argument at lunch that day, conversation between the two had been stilted to say the least. Naruto had tried to engage Kiba in friendly banter, whenever they did see each other, but Kiba was either quiet or didn’t respond much.


After the game, he, Shikamaru and Chouji waited by the clubhouse, watching as the other players filed out of the building.


“Got any smokes, man?” Chouji asked, blinking in bemusement as Naruto shook his head.


“He’s quit,” Shikamaru replied through the dull rings of smoke that escaped his stick. “Didn’t you notice all this time?”


“Really?” Chouji looked wide-eyed. “How the hell…and why the hell did you decide to go cold turkey?”


“Let’s just call it a miracle,” Naruto muttered and pushed himself away from the wall as Kiba finally made an appearance. They waited for him to say goodbye to his teammates, before he noticed the trio and walked towards them with a sheepish look on his visage.


“Oooh, the soccer star,” Shikamaru teased, reaching out to give the other boy a firm handshake. “Congrats, man. You did great.”


“Not that great,” Kiba mumbled. “I didn’t even score a goal.”


“Three assists is no joke, bro,” Chouji replied with a laugh. “If those douchebags had been paying attention, we’d have won the game by more than one measly goal!”


The light banter continued for a while as they walked towards the parking lot, Naruto not saying much as Kiba seemed determined to act as if he didn’t exist. However,


“Oh, shit.”


“What’s wrong?” Shikamaru asked as Kiba patted himself down and then shook his backpack with frantic movements. “I forgot my keys back in the locker room I think. I’ve gotta go get it…Naruto, wanna come with me?”


Naruto, surprised at the sudden request, could only nod in response. “Eh…sure, why not?”


“Great. Thanks, guys. We’ll catch you later,” Kiba said, waving to his friends as he began to lead the way back to the clubhouse area. Neither boy said anything until Kiba came to a sudden stop beside the building, now away from Shikamaru and Chouji’s sight.


“I’m sorry, Naruto,” he said quietly, finally turning around to stare into the blond’s shocked visage. Kiba gave a deep sigh and scratched his head gently. “Look, I know I’ve been a dick to you the past few days…and I’m sorry, okay? It was all my fault to begin with and I just didn’t want us to keep drifting apart…like this. So…let’s try this again, eh? Truce?”




Naruto lowered his gaze, aware of how much it must have taken for the proud boy to finally admit his mistakes, and so as to diffuse the tension between them, Naruto huffed and rolled his eyes dramatically.


“Of course, it’s all your fault, dipshit. About time you apologized for acting like such a prick. You’re lucky I’m in a good mood or I would have kicked your ass.”


Kiba, who had definitely not been expecting this comeback, looked relieved yet embarrassed at the mock chiding. “Shut the fuck up, dickwad. You wish you could kick my ass,” he finally mumbled and then gasped as Naruto grabbed him in a chokehold, trying to wrestle him to the ground. He laughed and dropped his backpack, reciprocating the gesture, feeling more than thankful that things just might get back to normal between them again. The part of him that still liked Naruto (in that way) wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, but at least he could wish for his friend’s happiness. And if it turned out to be with that stuck-up, prissy boy, Sasuke…then so be it.


“Oh, great,” came Shikamaru’s amused voice as he and Chouji eventually showed up. “I knew it. We leave you two alone for one minute and you end up wanting to kill each other. Typical.”


“Blame, Kiba,” Naruto said, around a snicker as he finally released the other boy. “Hey! First person to the goal post at the other end gets to have everyone buy him dinner tonight.”


And before giving anyone else a chance to begin, Naruto dashed off across the field, hotly pursued by his friends, who cursed him aloud for being a ‘goddamn cheater!’


Their happy laughter echoed across the nearly empty stadium, and for Naruto, experiencing the camaraderie and companionship of his three best friends again, meant all the world to him.




The lines seemed to dance and jump across the page, and Sasuke cursed as he closed his eyes, willing himself to concentrate on his assignment. However, Naruto’s painful rejection of his public display of affection was still bugging the hell out of him. He couldn’t understand it. He had thought Naruto would be more receptive to their relationship and yet the blond kept acting as if he had the crabs just by acting on his stupid spontaneous emotion.


Didn’t you know he was going to act like this anyway? Keep it up, Sasuke and you’ll definitely end up pushing him away completely.


“Urgh.” Giving up on studying for now, Sasuke left the desk and paced to his T.V, hoping a quick game would ease the tension. However, a light knock on the door had him looking up and into the familiar pale features of his unexpected guest.


Oh, great. Now what?


“May I come in?” came the soft question.


“You’re already half-way in, Sai,” Sasuke replied as he turned back to the screen. “Come to blame me for something else again?”


“I came to apologize,” Sai answered, closing the door behind him gently. He stood, hesitant and unsure by the door, aware that he had even taken a risk in showing up tonight. Sasuke was probably still pissed off at him, but Sai had to do this…to get some closure…of sorts. “I wanted…”


“You already apologized in school,” Sasuke stated flatly. “There’s nothing else to say, is there? The tournament will begin in a few days, and you won’t have to keep doing anything for me, since that’s turning out to be a pain in the ass…”


“I like doing things for you,” Sai said quickly. “I just…I just…”




“Sasuke I…”


“I don’t love you, Sai. I can’t love you and I really am sorry about that. You’re a great guy, when you’re not too busy thinking the whole motherfucking world is against you, and I’m sure there’s some other guy who’s ten times better than I am or could ever be. I really am not worth all the affection you’re trying to shower on me.” All this was said with his gaze still trained on the T.V. screen…more to help ease the uncomfortable direction the conversation was going.


“You said it yourself, Sai,” Sasuke continued, now in a much gentler tone as if trying to soothe his harsh words earlier. “I can be a cold, heartless bastard. I sometimes think and do things without even being concerned about the other person or what repercussions might occur, and yet, you stuck with me. That, in itself, is a testament to how strong you really are…”


“…or how foolish I am,” Sai muttered.


“That too,” Sasuke said with a small smile hidden from the other boy’s view. “Either way, I don’t deserve you, and I really do think if you opened your eyes a bit, you’ll see that there are a few other guys in school who would love to have you as a partner.”


Sai remained quiet, trying to digest everything he had been told. However, his astute nature had noticed that even though Sasuke had spoken so matter-of-factly, there was an underlying tone of sadness or frustration (or both), that couldn’t be missed. Deciding to take the plunge, Sai asked quietly,


“You find yourself in my position now, don’t you, Sasuke? In love with a boy who might or might not feel the same way, hmm?”


Sasuke stiffened, but said nothing, and Sai saw this as an opportunity to dig in further.


“Will you eventually give up, Sasuke? Turn away and allow him to find someone else who will be better for him? Is he really worth all the pain he’s putting you through? Don’t you think it’s better to just forget about the whole thing? Ah, what’s that saying again?” He snapped his fingers as if suddenly remembering. “If you love someone, set him free, if he comes back to you…it’s meant to be.”


“Bull shit,” Sasuke interjected, even as the spools of doubt began to unravel in his mind. What if Sai was right? What if this whole thing wasn’t really meant to be and all he had been doing was forcing the issue with Naruto? It had started that way from the beginning, hadn’t it? He had forced his intentions on the boy and had worked hard to woo him from there. Naruto’s gradual response and acceptance should have him jumping over the moon by now, and yet that subtle rejection at the public kiss still hurt like hell.


“Although I’ve lost this fight,” Sai was saying, “I truly do wish for your happiness, Sasuke. Even if it isn’t with me…at least with someone who really does care about you and wants the best for you…..and if that person turns out to be Naruto then…” He took a deep breath and forced himself to say it. “I wish you both the best. I’ll…I’ll let myself out.”


Sasuke turned around just in time to see the door closing quietly behind Sai. He sagged back against the couch and closed his eyes.


Set him free, huh? Gah.


This was definitely going to be harder than he thought.




By Wednesday evening, Naruto was so nervous and excited, he could hardly think straight. The venue for the tournament this year had been moved to Osaka – miles away from Tokyo. The fighters would leave tomorrow morning by plane and from Friday to Sunday, the tournament would take place in the historical arena reserved for the annual event.


The pep rally, hosted by the school, had been an amazing experience. It seemed as if the entire stadium was jam packed with not only students, but parents and teachers who wanted to see off the six fighters and their teacher.  For Naruto, it had been a surreal time, and it had taken all of his strength not to get too emotional as all the students, even those who had mocked and made fun of him, cheered his name the loudest when they were introduced. Shikamaru, Chouji and Kiba had made the most noise, as expected and even Jiraiya and Ms. Fuyutsuki had turned up to show their support.


However, it was Tsunade-sama’s heartfelt speech that had done the trick, forcing Naruto to lower his gaze to hold back the tears.


“I’m so proud of you,” she had whispered in his ear, as she met with each fighter to either give them a handshake or a hug. In his case, the hug had surprised the hell out of him, for he never really thought the woman cared that much for him. She pulled back with tears in her eyes, causing him to squirm in embarrassment. “Make Konoha proud, Naruto.”


“You bet,” he murmured, not trusting himself to say anything else or he was sure he’d bawl like a baby.


Girls, who would have otherwise not given him the time of day, ran up to him to place kisses on his cheeks and to give him flowers – Sasuke got the worst of it as his heartthrob status was yet to be diminished – however, Naruto gloated at all the cards and candy received, ignoring the jealous wails from his friends as he bragged about them. Even some guys, who had secretly always been jealous of Naruto’s ‘coolness’, had to give the guy his props for being a part of the team.


All in all, it had been one hell of a day, which was coming to a climatic conclusion as they had all been invited for a night out by Kakashi and his girlfriend, Anko, to a local well-known eatery where a booth had been reserved for them. Naruto invited Amaru, who was all too willing to be his date for the night. Karin and Suigetsu brought each other. Juugo came with his latest beau, a shy pretty girl from Class 3-2 – whose name Naruto couldn’t remember. Sai came solo, and to everyone’s surprise, especially Naruto’s, Sasuke walked in with Haruno Sakura draped on his arm.


Since when?! Naruto thought wildly, even though he masked his shock by engaging in a chopstick battle with Suigetsu over the meat cooking before them. He tried to ignore the dull coil of, what he recognized as jealousy, within the pit of his stomach as he watched Sakura laugh and lean into their captain every time a joke or something funny was said.


Sasuke wasn’t helping matters much by acting like a gentleman towards her. He’d refill her cup, offer to make more okonomiyaki or simply lean into her as if she was the most interesting thing in the whole world. Naruto wondered if his rejection of the kiss had turned Sasuke straight again. Although he had to wonder why that little event would cause this much of a change. Sasuke hadn’t really made any overt moves towards him since that day either. Oh, they still talked, and practiced (that couldn’t be helped), but the heated glances were no longer there. Sasuke hadn’t asked to be taken home, or even invited Naruto as he usually did.


I guess…he’s over me…


Naruto bit his lower lip in thought, wondering why the hell he wasn’t feeling too thrilled about the whole thing. If Sasuke was no longer interested in him sexually…that was a good thing, wasn’t it?


“Ahem! May I have your attention please?”


The teenagers looked up and into the slightly flushed visage of their teacher (who must have been drinking one too many cups of sake), and forced themselves to pay attention.


“For the past two months, we’ve worked hard to get to this point and I couldn’t be any prouder of you talented and amazing fighters. So…” He raised his cup. “Here’s to a great tournament, Team Taka. Let’s get there and kick some butt, eh?”


“YEAH!” came the resounding cheers from the table’s occupants. Naruto cheered the loudest, only to glance towards Sasuke as if on cue, the back of his neck prickling in awareness. For a brief moment, that familiar surge of heat raced through his body as he met those dark eyes, but the moment was all too brief, for Sakura suddenly cupped Sasuke’s face to plant a big, hard kiss on his lips.


“Me too!” Amaru cried out and before Naruto could think, he too found himself trapped in an unwelcome kiss. However, remembering Sasuke’s actions with Sakura all evening had him switching gears, and with a low growl, he wrapped his arms around Amaru’s waist, dipping her and intensifying the kiss much to the rest of the table’s amusement.


“Get a room!” someone cried out in between happy laughter.


“Or a condom!” someone else yelled just as Naruto released the blushing girl to bow as if he had just performed the greatest act of his life.


To his chagrin, Sasuke wasn’t even looking at him, if anything the other boy seemed more preoccupied with Sakura as they looked through the menu to order something else.




Naruto forced himself to smile and pay attention to Amaru the rest of the evening. However, if he had been paying more attention to his teammate, he might have noticed the death grip Sasuke had on the menu, or the tightened lips as he forced himself to listen to Sakura’s squeals of delight.


By the time dinner was over, more than a few of them had consumed one too many cups of sake. Naruto, who had dozed off, lifted his lashes to gaze around him with bleary eyes. Amaru was passed out on his lap. Suigetsu and Karin were in similar states of comatose. Sakura was snoring lightly, her head upon Anko’s lap. While Sai seemed to be snuggled next to Kakashi…Naruto didn’t even want to know. Juugo and his girl must have long gone, because they were nowhere in sight. As for Sasuke…


Probably gone home too, Naruto thought as he extricated himself carefully from Amaru. He needed to pee.


Half stumbling into the restroom, he barely registered the other occupant as he walked to a stall and pulled down his zipper. Eyes still half-closed, he let go of his full bladder with a sigh of relief, only to stiffen at the voice that jarred through this mushy mind.


“Enjoy the evening with your girl?”


Naruto’s lashes lifted fully and he turned his head to see who was talking to him. Sasuke was about two stalls down, a scowl on his features as he shook himself then zipped up, apparently done with his toilet.


“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Naruto quipped, turning away as he heard the water running while Sasuke washed his hands.


“I had fun.”


“Good. I’m happy for you.” Naruto zipped up with barely controlled irritation, wondering why the hell he was even getting upset. It wasn’t as if he and Sasuke were indebted to each other in the relationship department. But geez, to think that the bastard had made him … well…more aware of how good it could be with guys, only to ditch him for…Sakura of all people! Goddamn him!


“I didn’t know you and Sakura were now an item,” he said with false gaiety, as he turned on the tap to wash his hands. He could feel Sasuke watching him, but he refused to look up.


“I didn’t know you and Amaru were getting hot and heavier.”


“Well, I don’t think it’s any of your goddamn business if I go out with Amaru or not. Besides, and I quote, if you wanted anyone to go out with her, it would be me, correct? Wish granted.”


“So you don’t mind if I start dating Sakura, correct?”


I do mind, you bastard! “Why should I care? If you like the girl, go for it.”




Naruto blinked as Sasuke turned to walk away. That was it? Okay? After all the emotional wringer Sasuke had put him through? All he could say was…




Sasuke stopped and glanced over his shoulder with a bemused look. “What’s wrong now? You’ve got your girl and I’ve got…urgh!”


He barely caught the fist heading for his face, and reached out to block the second one coming for him. He stared into the furious blue eyes and felt a flicker of pleasure at the reaction.


“What’s the matter, Naruto?” he asked softly, trying not to smirk. “Jealous?”


“You wish,” came the low growl. He tried to attack again, but Sasuke was too fast for him. Naruto found himself shoved hard against the cool tiles of the restroom, and his lips claimed in a hard and bruising kiss that took his breath away. His entire body seemed to go up in flames as their fists became hands simply entwined and holding on to each other for dear life. Naruto’s lashes fluttered closed as he eventually gave in and responded in kind, parting his thighs to give Sasuke access to the straining bulge in his pants. God, how he missed this….this animal reaction to Sasuke every time they let go of their pretenses and gave in to their lust.


“Fuck you,” Sasuke breathed into his mouth as he finally pulled away to get some much needed air. “Goddamn you, Naruto for making me feel like this. I want to hate you, hate you…mmphff!”


Naruto had silenced him with another hard kiss, this time spinning them around to press Sasuke against the wall and to maul his mouth as he had been doing earlier. His hands slid down to Sasuke’s chest, finding and caressing the aroused nipples that poked through his t-shirt. Sasuke’s gasp was lost within their fevered kiss, his entire being trembling as Naruto pinched and pulled the tight nubs relentlessly. He wrapped his arms around Naruto’s neck and gave in completely, no longer caring if they went all the way in here. He was dying…his whole being was in tune with Naruto’s…he loved the bastard, loved him so damn much it…


“Ooh oh, sorry, didn’t realize it was occupied,” came the sudden interruption that had both boys pulling apart with guilt and embarrassment on their flushed faces.


The smiling man waved a hand. “Don’t mind me. You two just keep on doing what you’re doing.”


“Eh…no…thanks,” Naruto mumbled, before dragging Sasuke out of the room and into the narrow lobby that led to the main restaurant. For a while, neither boy said anything for they knew just how close they had come to letting it all go in there.


“Your hair’s messy,” Naruto finally said, as he noticed the tousled black hair, no thanks to his roaming hands.


“Well you look like you’ve been thoroughly kissed,” came the smug comeback, which brought a flush to Naruto’s cheeks. Sasuke sighed suddenly and ran fingers through his hair to regain some semblance of normalcy to it…which was hard in a way, considering the way the back of it seemed to stand on end anyway.


“Were you trying to make me jealous?” Sasuke asked, “Because if you were, it worked like a charm, you heartless prick.”


“Look who’s talking,” Naruto muttered, unable to look at the other boy as he admitted this. “I don’t know why you brought Sakura here. I thought you didn’t really like her.”


“Why don’t you just admit it?” Sasuke growled.


“Admit what?”


“That you’re falling for me, you moron. What else?”


Naruto could feel his cheeks flaming as he tried to glare at Sasuke. “I don’t…I’m not falling…”


“But you were jealous…”




“Why should you care if you aren’t falling for me? Shouldn’t you be happy I’m not eager to jump into your pants anymore?”


“So…you don’t want to have sex with me anymore?”


Sasuke rolled his eyes in disbelief. “After what just happened in the restroom, how can you even ask that?”


“I guess…”


“You guess what?”


Naruto lifted his hands in defeat. “All right, all right, you turn me on, okay? I  can’t stop fucking thinking about you and I like the way you touch me and…and…”


Sasuke tried to hide his smile. “And you’re falling for me…aren’t you?” he asked quietly, heart beating hard as he hoped Naruto would finally admit what he hoped to be true.


Naruto covered his face with a hand and squeezed his eyes shut, mind racing with the enormity of what he was about to admit. Could it be he was actually in love with Sasuke? It was weird to realize such a thing, but what the hell? If this emotional rollercoaster was in anyway related to what love was supposed to be…then he guessed… he really was. With his heart pounding, and his mouth suddenly feeling dry, he lowered his hand and opened his eyes, ready to say what he hoped would sound flippant, only to find himself staring into accusing eyes that definitely didn’t belong to Sasuke.




“You left me there,” came the whine as she threw herself against him. “I woke up and you were gone. I was so scared.”


On autopilot, he wrapped his arms around her, looking over her head and at Sasuke, who only gave a small smile before turning away. They both knew the moment was gone, and Naruto had to wonder if such an opportunity would present itself again. Maybe then, they could finally get this damn thing right once and for all.




“Holy Shit! It looks much bigger in person!” Suigetsu cried out as the bus made its way around the towering dome where the 85th Annual Martial Arts tournament was to be held. He and Naruto’s faces were pressed against the window, both oohing and aahing at the impressive architecture. Colorful posters and signs announcing the tournament surrounded the building, and a few tourists stood on the grand steps, taking pictures beside the enormous statues of two lions that flanked the doors leading into the auditorium.


Karin was too busy taking pictures, pouting as Kakashi had announced that they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. They had to go to the hotel first to get their room assignments.


Sasuke, who had slept through the flight and was now blocking all noise thanks to his headphones, was actually lost in thought as he pretended to read through the magazine provided on the plane. He had barely slept last night, his nerves wracked from the excitement of the tournament as well as Naruto’s almost-confession at the restaurant. If only Amaru hadn’t shown up at the last minute, perhaps by now he would have gotten that elusive admittance of  love he had been looking for.


It didn’t help that this morning Naruto had acted as if nothing had happened last night, and was back to his normal friendly self. What had he been expecting anyway? That Naruto would pull him into his arms and profess his undying love in front of everyone? Sasuke hadn’t forgotten that the blond was still jittery about public displays of their relationship, so that was a ship yet to be sailed.


“Home sweet home!” Kakashi announced loud enough to break Sasuke’s concentration. They piled out of the bus and looked at the towering hotel before them.


“Impressive,” Naruto gushed as he began to lead the way into the building. “Make way for Konoha High! The best fighters ever!” He broadcasted in a loud voice, earning an inner groan from Kakashi and a muttered curse from Sasuke as several students from other schools looked to the group entering the lobby – some with amusement on their faces, others with obvious loathing.


Sasuke noticed them first, or to be exact, the short red-haired boy with the distinct tattoo etched on his forehead, surrounded by his teammates as they waited in line to be checked in. With his arms folded across his chest, Gaara looked bored with the whole affair, although a flicker of emotion filled his eyes as he caught Sasuke’s brief gaze. Konoha’s captain gave a small polite bow of acknowledgement, which was reciprocated. He turned back to face his team, only to feel the piercing gaze of someone trained on him. Glancing to his left, he finally noticed the group all dressed in black cloaks which made them stand out in the crowded room.




He could feel his body pulse with adrenaline, his hands clenching into tight fists as he took in the amused or cold gazes that came his way. It wasn’t until he caught Kisame’s eyes that Sasuke’s fury bubbled within him. Kisame was the one responsible for what had happened to Naruto. Kisame had tried to cheat before the tournament by thinking he could take down one of their fighters without getting caught.  A grim smile of pleasure came to Sasuke’s lips as he noticed the barely noticeable look of surprise that flitted across the big guy’s face when Naruto was noticed – the very loud, boisterous  and quite healthy, Naruto that is.


Thought you had gotten rid of him, eh? Sasuke thought as Kisame caught his gaze again. He smirked and then raised his middle finger in salute, almost laughing at the scowl this produced. It’s time to make you pay, asshole. I’ll make you feel his pain…twice as much.



Chapter Fifteen


©KiyaSama 2009