The slam of the front door ushered in Sasuke’s arrival, quickly followed by the removal of his shoes, and the pounding of his feet up the flight of stairs that led to his bedroom. The subsequent slam of his door completed the short scene as his mother stuck her head out of the kitchen with a bemused frown.
“Goodness, his temper isn’t getting any better.”
“I’ll start charging him rent that’s what,” came the mutter behind the newspaper that currently hid Fugaku Uchiha’s face from view. “Next time he slams another door in this house…”
His wife’s giggle had him blushing faintly, and she didn’t help matters by placing a light kiss on the top of his head. “Hmm….oddly enough, he reminds me of someone. Mr. Grouchy.”
“I am not grouchy,” Fugaku mumbled and turned another page. “Hn. Looks like Itachi’s business is doing well overseas. His company made the economy section. Stocks are going up.”
“That’s good to hear,” Mikoto replied with a smile of pride. Her boys were successful in their own right; Sasuke with his academic and sporting achievements and Itachi, who was currently in Hong Kong although his travels took him all over Asia and Europe. He was hoping to expand his sports drink line to the American market and besides a call every once in a while, they rarely heard from their elusive first son. It was no wonder Sasuke was all but fawned upon…at least on her end. She wanted to enjoy being with her teenage boy before he made the dreaded decision to move out on his own. She sighed softly and peeled the onions even slower than before. Her boy was growing up, that much was true. It only seemed like yesterday he was still crawling all over the living room floor on his hands and knees, or sitting on her lap listening to the stories she’d read to him. Oh, how she wished she could go back to those times when he looked up to her and could tell her anything and everything. Now, she considered herself lucky if she got a simple ‘hello’ when he came back from school.
Ah well, boys will be boys, she deduced, and she’d just have to make the best of it. For now, dinner was important. She just had to make sure the baking chicken wasn’t burned to a crisp...again.
Sasuke’s room was huge…perhaps huge was too much a word…but it was impressive all the same. The black and white theme was something he had decided on the day he turned thirteen and his father had given him the option of redecorating the place himself. It wasn’t as if he wanted to copy his older brother – as Itachi’s room was done in deep mauve and browns – but he wanted to stand out – to be an individual – to be seen as someone other than ‘Itachi’s Little Brother ™ - Damn, that had always pissed him off. So one could only imagine his joy when Itachi finally moved out of the house, and the city in general, after his graduation from college. No longer would he have to continue to live in his brother’s shadow. He had worked hard to carve a niche for himself, over the years, and Sasuke was darn proud of it.
The large flat screen plasma T.V was currently frozen in the midst of the one of the latest video games he had purchased – he must have forgotten to turn it off before leaving for school this morning. A brand new computer sat on a sturdy black oak desk that faced the windows, giving him a view of the swimming pool and garden (his mom’s pride and joy) in the backyard. Text books, magazines and papers were neatly arranged on the desk, and a lone family picture – a portrait taken when he was eleven – sat close to the edge. There was a silver paper weight in the shape of a hawk that one of his uncles had given to him many years back, and it currently sat on top of his History essay which he was yet to proofread for submission tomorrow. There were two black wall –to-floor shelves which kept trophies or awards received from his sporting achievements and academic accomplishments to his favorite books and a rather impressive manga collection. This wasn’t just any ordinary collection though, but the greats like Akira, Fist of the North Star, Berserk, Dragonball, and Astro Boy. They just didn’t make them like they used to, in his humble opinion.
His tie was flung off his neck and tossed onto the king-sized bed draped in black and white Egyptian cotton sheets. His shirt and blazer soon followed. Kicking off his pants, he padded into the bathroom in his boxers, eyeing his mother’s handiwork. He could have sworn he had left the place in a mess this morning (as rushing to school was always a priority), but his mother had cleaned up and set new towels (even going as far as setting up some potpourri and fresh flowers). Hell! Even his basket of dirty laundry was gone.
“Why doesn’t she just get a freakin’ maid?” he muttered as he turned on the shower, deciding to forgo the bathtub tonight. It was somewhat embarrassing to know that his mother still took care of him like this – all the more reason for the hunt for his own apartment and soon. He had enough money saved up, and Sasuke was sure his father would have approved his leaving anyway. The old man was beginning to give him the same looks he had given Itachi when he felt the older boy was ready to hightail the nest.
He stepped out of the bathroom long enough to notice who was walking in with a light ‘Excuse me’ in salutation. Sai. His classmate was still dressed in his school uniform but was holding the information he had asked for.
“I’ll be right out,” Sasuke said with a nod as he motioned towards the couch. “Make yourself at home.” Like you really need any permission to do that.
He slammed the door shut in Sai’s face – so he hadn’t meant to slam it that hard, but he knew Sai had his sights set on him and the artist hadn’t exactly made it a secret that he wanted Sasuke. The brief, but heated look he had given the team captain was enough to have Sasuke shuddering and diving into the safety of the warm sprays of the shower. He scrubbed himself down with rather vicious strokes, as if hoping to wash away the gaze; however, it didn’t take long for his thoughts to drift to one person – the only person who could cause him to lose his cool so easily.
/Take back the ultimatum. /
“Shit!” Sasuke struck the wall with a clenched fist in frustration. Naruto was smart. He had to give him that. He knew he could no longer dangle the threat of reporting the fake tickets or deny him the meeting with Amaru…not if he wanted to keep Naruto on the team. But then again…
“…might not be such a bad thing after all,” he thought aloud as he poured a generous amount of shampoo into his hair. With Naruto now on the team, he could see more of the blond during or after school practices, and even better, he could perhaps convince Naruto to spar with him…alone. All he had to do was make sure Suigetsu and the others weren’t around on that day.
“Thought you had escaped me, eh, Naruto?” He chuckled softly to himself and closed his eyes as he rinsed off, focusing on the way the blond had looked during his fight with Kakashi. He could still see every strain of concentration and focus on that face – could still see the sheen of sweat that had coated and dripped off Naruto’s skin in tiny clear drops. Sasuke’s tongue tingled with the thought of licking it off slowly …thoroughly…of tasting the tangy saltiness of sweat and flesh, of having to hear those pants of exertion whispered in his ear, of having those strong hands and legs wrapped around his body as they made out in the middle of….
“Oh God,” came the low groan as Sasuke leaned his head against the cool tiles, trying to even his sudden ragged breathing. His hand slid down his chest, caressing and pinching his hardened nipples gently before drifting to the clenching muscles of his torso and stomach. He moaned and sagged against the plexiglass, finding his swollen organ to caress and stroke into completion. He whispered the other boy’s name like a mantra as his motions became more feverish and uneven. He squeezed his eyes shut at the heady rush of pleasure that made his knees weak, his lips parting with a small cry as he came hard and fast into his hand and against the tiles. The sticky evidence was quickly washed away with the shower’s spray and Sasuke lifted his lashes slowly, struggling to control his breathing, while trying to reassemble his disoriented mind from the orgasmic aftermath.
Only in my dreams, he thought with a heavy sigh as he rinsed off again and turned off the shower. He reached for a towel and draped it around his waist…and then cursed as he realized he’d have to walk out of there with only this on and with Sai more than ready to pounce on him. However, he was more than ready to hit the other boy if he even thought of anything in that light. It was bad enough that everyone thought they were a couple…even Naruto had noticed it.
Speaking of which…why would Naruto really notice such a thing anyway? It wasn’t as if he cared…right? He had never thought that Naruto would even give a concern to matters relating to him, and if such a rumor was enough to pique his interest, perhaps it meant in some little way that Naruto was just a tiny bit more aware of him than he let on. Sasuke tried to latch on to that thought as he walked into the bedroom. He barely glanced at Sai, who was lounging on the couch with a pocky stick stuck in his mouth as he played the video game.
“Interesting stuff about Team Akatsuki,” Sai was saying as Sasuke walked into his closet to search for a pair of sweatpants. “Seems like Deidara is fully recovered and will be joining the team for the tournament.”
Sasuke gave a light grunt and slipped into the comfortable cloth. He walked across the room and opened the manila envelope Sai had placed on his desk. Sitting on its edge, he ripped it open and read through the carefully typed documents. His lips tightened as he eyed the photograph of the blond teen from Seihou Gakuen. Deidara’s terrible driving had landed him in an accident that nearly took his life about three months ago. Like Sai, he was an artist who regarded himself superior to everyone and anyone who dared to challenge him. It was safe to say that both he and Sai were rivals in every sense of the word as neither boy could stand each other.
“I thought for sure he was out for at least six months,” Sai muttered with a curse as he sat up. “I wouldn’t mind fighting him in the tournament. The bastard nearly sliced my cheek at the last art competition.”
Sasuke raised a brow. “How so?”
“He pretended to be waving his carving knife about as he spoke to some guy and he knew I was walking past and almost took out a chunk of my flesh. Permission to kill him when the time comes, Sasuke.”
“Well not during the tournament,” came the wry reply. “Don’t want you or us getting disqualified. How about Cloud?”
“No changes,” Sai replied with a shrug. “Kirabi’s still in and last I heard Yugito will be returning to the country just in time for the tourney.”
Sasuke nodded and stood up, stretching his arms above his head as the weariness of the day began to creep up to him. He ignored the faint blush and poignant look Sai gave him and began to count in his mind.
“Go home, Sai,” came the sharp retort before the other boy could even finish. “I’m not in the mood today.”
After school on Wednesday, Naruto found himself standing before the large ornate gate which led to the Inuzuka compound, clutching a brown bag full of fruits and some of Kiba’s favorite candy to his chest. He captured his lower lip between his teeth and shook his head, wondering why he was suddenly doubtful of being in Kiba’s presence all of a sudden.
/You don’t kiss boys and pretend that many times, Naruto./
Damn it! Was Sasuke right after all? Christ! It wasn’t as if he and Kiba were into guys. And they only did it to amuse the girls in class – at least the few times they had done it. They weren’t even long kisses – just Kiba pretending to be ‘seme’ or whatever the girls called it, and he dipping Naruto and placing a hard but quick kiss on his lips, after spouting some corny romantic movie lines the girls wanted to hear. It had meant nothing. They had laughed over it. They had both wiped their lips afterwards and gone their separate ways. So why then was Sasuke’s stupid comment about the whole thing now bugging the crap out of him?
“You gonna keep standing there, Naruto?” Kiba asked as he stuck his head out of the window of his bedroom on the second floor. “Can’t open the gate?” Akamaru joined in by giving a light bark, his tail wagging in excitement as he noticed who it was.
Naruto looked up and managed a small smile, deciding to push aside the troubling thoughts and to focus on the visit. He had come to cheer up his sick friend. They’d hang out, talk smack, watch some porn maybe (if his parents weren’t home), or just play some video games. Nothing to it.
“Get your ass down here and open the freakin’ gate,” he yelled back up, giving his friend the middle finger in salute.
Kiba reciprocated the salute with a laugh and motioned for Naruto to hang on. Five minutes later, they were sprawled before Kiba’s T.V, rummaging through his stash of video games for something to keep them occupied for the rest of the day. Akamaru was happily gnawing on the bone Naruto had purchased for him, while Naruto eyed his friend’s room with a small smile. He had known Kiba since they were in grade school. In fact, Kiba, Chouji and Shikamaru had been friends for that long. Kiba’s mother was into Native American art, hence her son’s room was filled with images of Indian chiefs and warriors. Even his blanket was a thick plush intricately designed item that his mom had purchased from a trip to the States. Evidence of Kiba’s flu lay in the box of tissues and the two bottles of medicine on his night stand. Other than that, Kiba’s room was still as messy and yet comfy as he always remembered.
“Heh, you still haven’t taken down that poster of Anko, eh?” Naruto observed as he eyed the large blown up poster of the beautiful dark-haired girl clad in a white bikini that barely managed to hide her nipples from view. “I thought your mom was going batshit over it?”
“She’s given up,” Kiba replied with a chuckle as he finally found the right game and slid it into the game console. “I promised I’d get an A in one subject this quarter and she’s holding me to it.”
Naruto laughed out loud, earning a pout from his friend. “You? Get an A? Hahaha! That’s the best one I’ve heard yet.”
“Hey! It could happen, dipshit! I’ve been studying!” He pointed to the pile of books on his desk. “Being cooped up at home sometimes shifts your priorities, buddy. Now, let’s play.”
For the next half-hour, their focus was on the combat game, where Naruto seemed to excel as he kept beating Kiba despite the other boy’s adamant refusal to admit defeat. In between snacking on the food Naruto had brought over and the occasional bathroom break…or dealing with Akamaru trying to get in the way, it was relatively quiet…until…
“Shika tells me you joined the Martial Arts Club?” Kiba asked while chomping on a biscuit, eyes still trained on the screen before him. “How come, man? I thought you and I were going to be the lone rangers? Affiliated with no one?”
“I just joined yesterday,” Naruto protested weakly, feeling his cheeks flame with heat at the somewhat accusing tone. “Besides, it’s not as if it’s going to be a permanent thing…”
“Yeah, right.” Kiba rolled his eyes. “How come you aren’t at practice today?”
“I came to see you,” Naruto replied just as he delivered another crushing blow to kill off his friend’s character. “See? I care for my friends that much.”
“Dude, if you’re on a team, you can’t just ditch them like that. They might kick you out.” Kiba tossed the game controller to the floor in exasperation and leaned against the bed. He turned his head to eye his friend. “Shika’s becoming more responsible...as bizarre as that sounds. He even stayed back for his baseball club thing today.”
“Good for him,” Naruto mumbled and leaned back as well. He pursed his lips in thought, finding himself suddenly getting a bit uncomfortable with the way Kiba was still staring at him. Man, this wasn’t good. Without the distraction of the game or anything else to do, Naruto was more aware of his friend than he would like. Kiba was handsome in a crazy sort of way, if that made any sense. His eyes were dark and narrow…and quite piercing too, especially when he got excited about something. His family tradition required he have a red mark on each cheek – a symbol of their tribe or whatever, Naruto wasn’t sure, but it made him even more appealing to the girls. If he wasn’t mistaken, Kiba had ditched two hot babes in the past month, just because they were boring to him. One of them was actually a freshman in college!
“…can’t wait till Friday,” Kiba gushed as he finally looked away long enough to pet Akamaru, who had crawled onto his lap. “Hot gals in bathing suits…”
“It’s a swim meet, asshole,” Naruto muttered. “They’ll be wearing their usual swimming gear or whatever.”
“So what? And to think, I’ll get to see the babelicious Amaru Azusa…damn! I can’t wait!”
At the mention of the red head’s name, Naruto frowned and wondered if Sasuke would still keep his end of the bargain and introduce him to Amaru. Sure the threat of having his ass manhandled was no longer looming over him, but still…he wouldn’t put it past Sasuke to do something like ‘conveniently forget’ to call Amaru to remind her about their meeting. Naruto pursed his lips in worry. Maybe he shouldn’t have skipped out on practice today. He should have made sure Sasuke would keep to his end of the deal. However, this would mean having to talk to Sasuke face-to-face again, something Naruto found he was dreading for reasons beyond him. Oh for God’s sake! He couldn’t keep running away forever! If he didn’t just deal with this head on…
“What’s wrong with you?” Kiba asked as he leaned closer to peer into Naruto’s face. He blinked as he noticed his friend’s red cheeks and pulled back with a raised brow. “You’re not catching the flu now, are you? I’m just about cured. See? No sniffling or coughing. I should be in school tomorrow if I get enough rest…according to Doc. Mom.”
Naruto felt feverish – his thoughts racing a mile-a-minute. Just…go for it…test it out and see and prove Sasuke wrong. It means nothing! It will always mean nothing!
“What?” came the drawled answer as Kiba had closed his eyes and was now humming some random tune beneath his breath.
“I want…” Naruto cleared his throat and tried to say this as nonchalantly as possible. “Kiss me again…you know…like how we used to pretend and shit.”
Kiba’s lashes flew open and without moving his head, his eyes drifted to his friend’s countenance. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“In class, remember? When those girls would say, act the ‘seme’ and I act the ‘uke’ crap.”
“So…I wanna test something.”
Kiba looked confused. “What do you wanna test?”
Naruto was beginning to get impatient. “Just…do it, man! It doesn’t mean anything, right? I just want to make sure…”
Kiba smirked, eyes lighting up with mischief. “Haha! You’re turning gay on me, aren’t you, Naruto? Dude, who’s the guy…? Ouch! The hell! I was just kidding!” He pouted and nursed his aching arm, which Naruto had punched as he rose to his feet.
“Forget I asked. In fact, forget everything,” Naruto huffed, feeling more humiliated than ever. “From now on, the pretend kissing thing stops, no matter how much the girls beg, got it?”
“But I thought you liked it…”
“I don’t like kissing guys!” came the furious reply that had Kiba (and even Akamaru) wincing.
“All right, bro. I got it,” Kiba replied, waving his hands in surrender. “The kissing stops. No more pretend. Sheesh. What’s gotten into you?”
Sasuke’s gotten into me, that’s what, Naruto thought with a low growl. It’s all his fault. If he had planned to do some psychological damage to him, Sasuke was succeeding beautifully. Fuck!
“I’m…I’m sorry,” Naruto said quietly as he sank back to the floor. “I’m just…” Going out of my goddamn mind, I think.
“Here.” Kiba tossed him a vial half-filled with white pills. “When I get stressed out, I take two of them. Calms me down quickly. And don’t worry, it’s doctor prescribed.”
Naruto eyed the medication and shook his head slowly. “Nah, thanks. Just let me take a quick nap. I’ll be fine when I wake up.” As he said this, he was already moving onto Kiba’s comfy bed, and before long, his light snores filled the room as owner and dog watched on in bemusement.
“Sure he’s not getting the flu, Akamaru?” Kiba asked with concern laced in his voice. A short bark was all he got from his precious pet, and not thinking much about it (as they had slept together before), Kiba crawled into bed with Naruto and Akamaru tucked by his side.
For a while, he stared at his best friend, finding it hard to believe that the boy who looked so innocent in sleep could be a beast when angry or passionate about anything. He idly wondered what had brought about the weird request earlier, remembering what Shika had divulged on the phone about Naruto ‘acting strange’ the past two days or so. Shika had also mentioned that Naruto had met with that Sasuke Uchiha from Class 3-1, and Kiba, who wasn’t exactly on speaking terms with the other guy, had heard the rumors that Sasuke might be gay. Was it possible that Sasuke had come onto Naruto? If true, had that bastard gone as far as even touching Naruto inappropriately? It would explain a few things, Kiba deduced, but still…Kiba wasn’t sure such an event was enough to make Naruto turn gay overnight. Or the reason for him joining the Martial Arts club that had not only Sasuke in it, but that obvious fairy, Sai, in the mix.
“Maybe he really is gay…or bi…and doesn’t know it yet,” Kiba whispered, stroking Akamaru’s head gently as the dog whined in response. A small smile came to his lips as he remembered the prank kisses they had performed for the girls. To them it had been a joke and it really didn’t mean much, but Kiba had to reluctantly admit that kissing Naruto hadn’t always been such a bad thing. In fact, he could go as far as saying that it had felt good to him. Naruto’s lips were always tightly closed though most of the times they did it, since the ‘scenes’ didn’t usually last that long, but there was the one time, he had caught Naruto off guard and had gotten a bit of tongue in the process. Kiba could still remember the jolt it had caused the moment it happened…how his body had reacted in the same way it would have if he had been with a girl. He had actually almost had a boner from it. Kiba wasn’t sure if Naruto had noticed it, but they had both masked it with laughter and playful punches afterwards. Kiba, for his part, hadn’t forgotten and couldn’t forget.
He wasn’t sure if this made him bi, but to be honest, he realized he did like kissing Naruto after all. It was just a damn pity that playtime was finally over.
“I can’t believe he didn’t show up today,” Suigetsu grumbled as he kicked at a soda can on the sidewalk. He was walking Karin home as practice was finally over. It wasn’t as if he wanted to walk her home, but she had insisted as Sasuke had left early (the guy had been in a foul mood for most of practice) and Juugo had to leave for work.
“He’ll show up tomorrow,” Karin replied, not really in a good mood herself. She had hoped that Naruto would be there as well, just so she could get to know him better. Sasuke’s irritation at Naruto’s absence had been evident after they waited for the blond to show up and nothing doing thirty minutes later. He had only wanted to practice with Kakashi sensei, refusing to accept sparring matches with any of his other teammates. Grr! Sometimes Sasuke could act like such a prick.
“Ho ho, what do we have here? Konoha rats,” came a voice that had both Karin and Suigetsu turning around quickly.
Since they were still in their school uniform, it would have been easy for anyone to tell which school they were in. The same went for the duo strolling towards them.
“Seihou Gakuen pigs,” Suigetsu sneered as he cracked his knuckles. The familiar gray pants and black blazer belonging to the exclusive private school was donned by a long-haired blond boy with mocking green eyes, and his silent red-haired companion who looked as if he wished he could be anywhere but here.
“Hello, Suigetsu,” the blond greeted with a mock salute. “Long time no see.”
Karin scowled. “I thought you were in the hospital, Deidara.”
“Apparently not, sweet cheeks,” the blond replied as he walked up to Karin and promptly gave her ass a sharp smack, only to dodge back laughing as she swung a fist in his direction. “Whoa there, babe. Plenty of time to rough me up in the ring when the tournament begins, eh? So, you two dating now?”
“Fuck off!” Karin hissed even though her cheeks flamed at the insinuation. “Go bug someone else. Let’s go, Suigetsu.”
“Aww, already?” Suigetsu replied. “You sure I can’t just kick his ass for the heck of it?”
“You wish,” Deidara replied as he placed his hands on his hips and laughed aloud. “I’m back to a hundred percent, bitches! You’ll wish I was still in the hospital when I’m done with your asses.”
All he received for his efforts was a middle finger salute from Suigetsu as Karin dragged him away with a huff. He scowled as he watched them make the turn and disappear from sight, and would have gone after them if it wasn’t for the gentle touch on his arm from his silent companion.
“Not now,” the red-head said. “No fights until the tournament if you still want to qualify for it.”
“God, they piss me off, Sasori,” Deidara growled. “They think they’re the best thing to happen since sliced bread. Urgh! I should at least take one of them out before then, eh?”
“No!” came the sharp retort, as Sasori began to lead the way back home. “Let’s get some ice cream to cool that hot head of yours. We’ll deal with Konoha … when the time comes.”