Summary: Rain, a chase, a difference of opinion and the game they’re playing. Naruto attempts to prove something through the veil of rainfall. But since Sasuke rarely agrees with him anyway. One-shot. Post-Time Skip. SasuNaru- if you (really, really) want.
Rating: T- bad words- I’m not even allowed to say them ;D
Spoilers: For the Sasuke Retrieval Arc up and, um, for Part Two- includes certain characters and what not. Ignores certain others.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Naruto- Masashi Kishimoto does. He’s cool!
All is fair...Naruto trusted his instincts blindly.
Foolish little brother.
Thoughtlessly, he had stopped to collect an umbrella rather than a coat before stepping outside into the rain, the sound-engulfing torrent. He shivered relentlessly and ignored it, aware only of the need to escape from the rooms that haunted him, haunted his dreams and his thoughts. At least, at least his tears would be invisible in the rain. A boiling self-hatred always rose within him when he realised he could only remember bad things. Images of his parents’ rare and frightening arguments, the time he’d been yelled at by his father for accidentally dropping and smashing a glass. A thousand shards bursting across the spotless floor.
One of his worst was the memory of the silence that had followed when he had accidentally knocked his father’s and brother’s war game off of the table, sending the pieces scattering across the room, destroying carefully constructed strategies and alliances and earning glares so intensely agitated that Sasuke had felt like crying, dying. Clumsiness had always been one of those unforgivable things in their household.
But he couldn’t remember... he couldn’t remember his mother’s gentle touch or her soothing voice...
He despised his most prominent positive memories. Because they featured the person he hated, hated, the most. He remembered vaguely snuggling up to his brother during stormy nights. He remembered being silently offered a towel when he’d been out in the rain too long. When his mother had been too busy to notice, his father too oblivious to care.
When he returned back inside, he travelled straight to the room where that war game could be found. He wasn’t superstitious so his umbrella was still up and rain slowly dripped into a puddle on freezing floorboards as he stared at the untouched board- still in the throes of an imaginary, heated war, of stilled chaos. The tears that followed were no longer warm and he mindlessly mistook them as lingering drops of rain. He stopped breathing as he approached and pushed it slowly from the table, watching breathless with combined feelings of release and regret as it crashed to the floor. Armies torn apart by a natural disaster.
Upon his exit, he closed the door with a deafening click. He stubbornly resolved never to go back in there again. Sometimes he tried to believe that his brother wasn’t cold-blooded or callous but the taste of fantasy wasn’t very sweet- he had grown tired and killed it weeks ago.
Now, he couldn’t help but wonder how long Itachi had been planning it all. He couldn’t help but wonder how on earth they had all remained so blind to it.
If you want to kill me, hate me, detest me...
To call the rain torrential would have been an understatement. It crashed down through the foliage, a futile protection from the force of damp nature, and thundered into Naruto’s ears, drowning out sound and coherent thought. Perhaps he was drowning, perhaps. It was impossible to see clearly through the rainfall, like opening eyes under water- everything was a crashing, intimidating blur. He had to sense, feel for the source he was chasing. That was easy though; Sasuke’s chakra was unmistakable- unique and strong, an unshakeable presence- Naruto found himself following it instinctively. There was something invisible yet binding that pulled him like a magnet towards it.
It had been hours now. Naruto was wet, wet to the bone, and shabbily concealing a shiver. He cursed this absurd form of training- a game of chase where they weren’t allowed to use any jutsu. They could only use their chakra to stay balanced on the slippery, snake-like branches. He wanted things to end now, to stop. Because the alluring thought of a soft pillow was infinitely more welcoming than an entire night spent chasing an opponent he was clearly incapable of catching. The branch beneath him cracked from the pressure as he fiercely launched from it. Drenched, Naruto continued his pursuit, forcing himself to bear it. Catching him would not only be a mark of his endurance but a victory in their endless war of rivalry.
He gritted his teeth, fixated on a new goal that fuelled his inner fire of determination.
Almost instantly, he could feel Sasuke’s chakra pressing against him, like the blanket a kidnapper would use to suffocate his captive. He was closer now. His rain-induced blindness was fading and he saw a shadowy blur pushing through the branches ahead. This wasn’t the first time though. He’d been this close earlier. Sasuke had lured him close before shooting away in a burst of speed so obvious, so predictable, that Naruto’s eyes had burned red with pure vexation. And minutes had passed before his chakra had calmed considerably.
Blindly rushing in again would be a mistake.
He closed his eyes in concentration. An image of Sasuke’s eyes, mocking him, haunting him appeared. Hesitantly, he remembered the vigorously self-satisfied smirk that had settled on that flawless face. Sasuke had been toying with him. Sasuke was always toying with him. And an emotion that couldn’t be placed as hatred erupted inside of him.
“Kage Bunshin no jutsu,” his whispered words were lost to the rain. He was tired and damp and annoyed and didn’t care for what they were allowed to do. It had been dragging on for too long.
Two of his clones disappeared into the trees, leaving one behind as he swiftly followed them. He allowed the chase to continue for a few more minutes, knowing that Sasuke would sense the extra chakra, knowing that he himself was...
An anguished yell and the clones were seemingly upon their target. Instinctively, Sasuke dodged and looked around with a lack of surprise, with boredom. Disappointed. That attack had been... uninspired. He didn’t bother to watch them disappear in clouds of failure and turned his gaze away. So much for being unpredictable. They were in a for a long night.
Awkwardly, he collided with a motionless, orange figure. They slipped, a tangle of cloaks and raindrops, breathlessly. Sasuke inaudibly gasped at the sudden warmth- the tight grip Naruto inflicted ruthlessly on his arm. Curses were flung mindlessly into sound-engulfing air that was still heavy with rapidly descending rain, but the message was clear from the icy glare that pierced through the gap between them. The rush of air ceased abruptly when they hit the painlessly soft, saturated floor.
Naruto wasn’t giving Sasuke any semblance of a chance of escaping and Sasuke found himself pressed to the ground by an unwelcome weight- a kunai an incentive for staying put. This was the closest he’d been to Sasuke all night.
“...cheating.” was the only word Naruto heard. His clutch on Sasuke’s shirt tightened.
“So what?” he growled more aggressively than truly intended. The glare shared was multiplied in intensity due to their proximity.
“It doesn’t count.” Sasuke said, a blank tone, a blank face. “You broke the rules.”
“Fuck the rules,” came the anguished retort. Blazing, red heat darted across his eyes. He didn’t like this idea of rules, like it was a game, “We don’t have rules on missions, we just complete them no matter what. Why should we treat training any different?”
Still no reaction. Not even a flicker.
But Sasuke looked up at him through drenched lashes, really looked at him. Took in Naruto’s appearance in its entirety- the eyes that struggled relentlessly between brilliant blue and chaotic crimson, the mouth that was curled downward in displeasure, matching furrowed eyebrows, the raindrops that trickled impermanently over the whisker-like scars and dripped off and his hair, damp, sticking to his forehead, sunshine yellow unclear. He drank in the shivers, shivers that Naruto had given up on hiding. Because Naruto preferred the warmth and Summer and despised the rain with a loathing passion. Sasuke could stay out in it all night- he felt numb and allowed the rain to wash things away. It had been a therapy. He had learned to stop shivering a long time ago.
Naruto tried to hide his discomfort at the impassive, still, emotionless gaze that swept intrusively over his face.
“It isn’t a game. It-- ” Naruto trailed off because Sasuke smirked up at him, mocking, smug. Naruto scowled.
“It isn’t a game.” Sasuke repeated, eyes closing briefly.
“What? You think we’re all these little playing pieces in this huge game of...” Naruto demanded, almost confused. Sasuke was gazing at him again, with a look of mild interest. “It’s real life...”
Then Naruto recalled that conversation with Kakashi-sensei so long ago.
A shinobi isn’t supposed to pursue his own goals... becoming the country’s tool is most important...
Maybe being a tool counted as the same thing. But Naruto didn’t believe that; he hadn’t liked that and he had made a decision back then. Because if that’s what it meant to be a true ninja...
... I’m going to be a ninja in my own way!
“I don’t believe that!” he hissed. The ideologies of a twelve year-old by were still lodged stubbornly in his mind.
“That doesn’t mean it’s untrue.” Sasuke whispered, warm, weirdly warm, breath misting over Naruto’s cheek. “Sometimes people see only what they want to.”
Gradually, it became easier to hear as the rain cleared; the monstrous pounding of a million merciless raindrops began to recede. It wasn’t long before sickly moonlight filtered through the overhanging foliage, revealing Sasuke’s expression of boredom, Naruto’s of incomprehension. He detested when Sasuke was... right. Swiftly, he was on his feet, leaving the clearing, darting away into the trees, the last glance he shot over his shoulder bearing the message that he was going home.
Perhaps the morning sunlight was supposed to burn away all the evidence of the previous night’s awful weather. Most would call it the joy of Spring. The hormonal mood swings of Spring, Naruto thought was a more fitting title. But Naruto didn’t really care. He felt late. Naturally, he blamed Sasuke.
Team Kakashi, all five, sometimes six of them, had recently settled upon a new meeting place to accommodate the season of Spring. Like Hell were they ever going to wait for two hours in the rain for a certain sensei to turn up. Agitated, Naruto rushed the remainder of the journey, approaching the Hokage tower and rushing blindly up inner staircases and bursting into Sakura’s office, a thousand apologies on his lips.
Slowly, he registered the sight of Sai and Sakura opposite each other; they were so wrapped up in their usual board game that they barely noticed him. Sai raised his hand as a greeting. Naruto relaxed upon finding that neither Kakashi or Sasuke was there yet. His gaze settled back onto his team-mates’ game- the same one they’d been playing since what he thought was forever. It seemed incredibly boring, sitting and staring and eventually deciding to move something or the other. Kakashi and Sakura both had attempted to explain the rules, but he hadn’t been in the mood for listening. Playing around with war games was like tempting fate, he felt.
“You can’t do that.” Sai’s bored voice sounded from the centre of the room. He glanced up at Sakura, a slight, almost invisible frown.
“All’s fair in love and war!” she teased, returning his gaze. She followed with a secretive grin- a grin she intended to be discreet. But Naruto noticed, for once. So that plan had failed, for once. She retraced her move. A frown settled on Naruto’s face- an irritated expression he was becoming far too familiar with.
“I told you.”
Naruto’s head cracked up, allowing him to notice Sasuke’s sudden presence in the doorway, and the gaze Sasuke fixed him with. His privacy cried out, as though it had been violated somehow; Sasuke’s intensely uninterested gaze was unnerving enough.
“It doesn’t prove anything.” he said, agitation seeping from his thoughts into his speech. “It isn’t real.”
Naruto believed that spontaneity played the most important role- people could make any choice. Maybe Sasuke believed things happened for a reason. The clan geniuses were all the same; so sure of their place in life, their abilities, their purpose, themselves. So wrong. He had already proved that to one of them. He would have to work even harder on Sasuke.
“I think you’re wrong.” Sasuke muttered, immediately smirking at the spontaneously predictable reaction. The scowl, the whip of challenge in Naruto eyes. And, although he hadn’t been expecting the grin, he allowed it to settle comfortably between them. Naruto never adopted façades of seriousness for long anyway.
Sasuke shrugged, too used to the stubbornness. He watched Naruto approach the window, blocking enough sunlight so it was forced to filter through locks just as bright. He could tell that Naruto was staring straight at the sun in a determinedly thoughtless attempt to blind himself.
...in love and war.