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Breaking Through the Snow

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It's fucking cold.

Naruto lets out a blustered yell as he finally stumbles in, slamming the rest of the storm away with the door. This place isn't made for winter, and it shows—the breeze cuts through every bit of the wood that isn't sealed anymore and Naruto knows those bits of white sure as hell aren't dust—

Sasuke sits, in the middle of it all, as carefree as can be.

"You!" Naruto greets him, and Sasuke smiles, but doesn't look up. He flips a page in his book, as if no one's spoken at all— "Asshole! You plan this, don't you? Every beautiful fucking day is the one you come to me, and every time I have to come, this happens!?"

He waves a frantic, unbandaged arm around himself, and Sasuke flicks a bit of hair away from his eyes.

"Answer me!" Naruto demands, and he's soaking wet. He's soaked, and he's cold, and when Sasuke's eyes finally meet his, there isn't anything in the world he can do about the way he starts to laugh—

It breaks Sasuke, too, and he looks down again. He can't hide it, though—he's always hiding that smile behind a book or something. Naruto punches him in the shoulder for it.

"Ow," Sasuke says, unmoving. "You're wet."

"Great deduction, genius," Naruto shoots back. "Do you have anything warm in this house or should I just die?"

Sasuke shoots a burst of flame his way. Naruto yelps and dodges and knows he should have fucking expected that, but Sasuke only laughs and flips his book, open and upsidedown, onto the small table beside him.

"Fuck you," Naruto tells him as he passes by. Sasuke shoves his palm into Naruto's chest and keeps walking.

Naruto follows him into the bedroom—Sasuke's bedroom, anyway. Naruto's bedroom is the one with the cracks and the cold...but the fireplace, at least. The couch hasn't been the comfiest thing in the world, and Sasuke brings it up every time Naruto stays the night. But what's he expecting him to do? Sleep on the floor?

"Blanket," Sasuke announces, and Naruto—


—gets a face full of it.

"Ow, assho—"

"Shirt," Sasuke continues, and that tumbles from Naruto's hands before he can even try to catch it, too, "pants. Towel—"

"Oi, oi, oi, fuck you—I'm—"

He drops everything, and grabs the towel instead.

"I'm taking a goddamn shower. Just—just leave those somewhere."

He flings it over his shoulder as if to make the point, and rips the wet clothing from him as soon as he closes the bathroom door.

This water better be hot enough.

It isn't. The heat cuts out on him midway through, and Naruto frantically scrubs Sasuke's soap all over himself before he gets the hell out of there.

He's covered in chills, and he smells like Sasuke.

The towel doesn't help. It's Sasuke's and it's damp the second he touches it. He scrubs his hair and his chest and avoids the arm that needs new bandages again. He forgot to bring them, but Sasuke might have some. Sasuke should have some…

He sighs, and a part of him is surprised he doesn't see his breath. He wraps the still-wet towel around his waist and shoves the door open.

"Where are my clothes?" he shouts at the hall.

"Somewhere," it replies back, and Naruto swears at Sasuke again. He appears after only another second with a— "the bedroom, moron. Come on."

"Come on? I'm getting changed! Why are you—"

Sasuke tosses something at his chest, and Naruto automatically catches it. The towel slips on his hips and he yelps to catch it before it falls—

Sasuke laughs at him again.

"Come on," he says, pushing his door open. Naruto holds the bundled bandages with one hand and the towel with the other, and awkwardly shuffles after him. Their connection is weird—full of thought and emotion and mind-numbing visions in one moment, and then the barest breath of a feeling in the next. Naruto has no idea what it is that Sasuke got from his head, but he's thankful nonetheless.

The new skin isn't painful, but it's sensitive and weird and uncomfortable, and Sasuke knows all of those things without needing one of his own. Without wanting one of his own. Naruto had just assumed he would, and he was...not mad about it—not even upset, but just—

He doesn't know. Betrayed, or something. Not by Sasuke, but by himself—their arms mark something Naruto hasn't been able to put into words, and Naruto's...afraid that he's hurt that, somehow. Diminished it.

He hasn't, though. Not yet. Naruto sits on the bed and Sasuke kneels beside him.

His fingers feel like fire.

"Hold," he says softly, and Naruto presses his free hand to the place Sasuke's tapped. A million and one ways they've worked as a team. Naruto wants to close his eyes and sink into the feeling. He's missed it.

God, he's missed it.

Sasuke wraps the bandages around and uses them to coax his arm up higher. He leans forward and rests a knee over Naruto's lap to get a better angle—

Naruto's eyes snap open, and he remembers that he's naked.

Or, uh, well. He's got this towel. It doesn't seem like enough. It very suddenly feels like nothing at all, with Sasuke halfway onto his lap and breathing onto his skin and it's weird, right now, how the chills are breaking out all over him and his nipples are like, really erect, and the pressure Sasuke's putting on his lap is causing a friction that's gonna get real fucking obvious if Naruto doesn't do somethi—

"Cold?" Sasuke asks, and Naruto stifles a shiver.

"Um," he breathes out, and his mind trips over itself twice on the way to a thought, "uh—yeah, no—no shit, asshole."

It sounds weird and breathless and Naruto clears his throat and looks away. Sasuke's eyes linger on him, and he's uncomfortable. What's there to look at? Nothing for Sasuke, surely. Naruto could stare at Sasuke all day, but that's because he was Sasuke. You could watch him for a thousand years and still find something to look at…

"Hold this for a second," Sasuke says, pressing the bundle of bandages to his side. Naruto obeys, and Sasuke relents—leaning back and away and it's like Naruto can breathe again. Cold, of course, cold and sharp and jarring, but it's good, it lifts Naruto out of a fog he hadn't known he was in—

"I have it," Sasuke says, taking the bandages again. "Lift your arms up. This one first."

"Oh," Naruto says, catching on, "right—yeah. Um, thanks."

"Hm," Sasuke replies, nudging his shirt just enough to let Naruto wiggle through a sleeve. "You can thank me by not ruining my clothing again."

"Th—paint washes out! I would know better than anybody," Naruto insists, and for a second, he forgets Sasuke's still on his lap. He remembers as soon as his head pops out of the fabric, though, and he heaves in a breath—

Sasuke freezes.

"Sensitive?" he asks softly, and it takes Naruto way too long to clue in that he's talking about his arm.

"I—yeah, uh. It—yeah, it is."

Sasuke's touch grows lighter. More gentle. It doesn't really help with the feeling—Naruto still isn't used to anything...delicate between them. Or whatever this is—it's weird. It's weird and different and has Naruto nervous in a way that he doesn't understand. It's been normal for his heart to hammer every time he saw Sasuke, before—that had been in the middle of a battlefield. Or for the first time in years, or for the first time in months, or for the last time they might ever see each other, and all of those were damn good reasons to freak out, but now—

Sasuke reaches his hand, and raises an eyebrow.

"You're full of thoughts today," he mutters, lifting Naruto's hand with his own. It's a slow process—finger by finger, and Sasuke does it way better than Naruto manages on his own. He's grateful, for that.

Sasuke meets his eyes as he has the thought.

"Better than having you complain," he deadpans, and Naruto huffs out a breath.

"Well, I—how are you so good at reading my head?" he asks. "You get so much more than I ever do."

"Some of us don't set our emotions off like an explosion," Sasuke says, and it makes Naruto laugh.

"That's exactly what you end up doing," Naruto tells him, and there it is. He feels the soft, indulgent amusement hum through him. Not a lot, but he feels it—Sasuke is better at finding the boundaries and keeping himself behind them.

Naruto sucks at that.

He wishes Sasuke sucked too.

"Moron," Sasuke replies, and Naruto laughs. "You're done."

Naruto breathes in. Sasuke lifts the shirt up again and helps Naruto loop his newly bandaged arm through the other sleeve—the one with the Uchiha clan symbol stitched at the wrist. It sits neatly and comfortably against Naruto's arm, and he lets himself look at it a few seconds longer.

It makes him feel some...kind of way.

And he's not the only one. Sasuke's gaze is down, and it's lingering. He feels something that isn't his own, and it makes him want to—to do something. He doesn't know. Sasuke always makes him wild—unsettled, raging, like he needs to get up and do something and do it now

But he doesn't know what it is.

Not anymore. He's had the same goal for so long that now...he...he has everything, doesn't he? Sasuke's here, and alive, and in front of him, and something close to happy on most days, so—

So it doesn't make sense. His heart still pounds, his nerves spike in his throat, he holds his breath and he can't sleep at all. He feels the way he did without the aching terror and loneliness, and Naruto just doesn't know what this feeling wants.

He breaths in, but he doesn't have anything to say.

Sasuke pulls away. The cold slaps Naruto in the face again—and his neck, his ears, his nose, his thighs. Sasuke had been blocking off the worst of it, and Naruto misses the warmth as soon as it's gone.

"Bring the blanket when you come," he says, and Naruto shivers out his agreement as the door closes again. Sasuke's set aside Naruto's favourite—the fluffiest one. It's cozy and big and Sasuke says it's brown, but Naruto knows it's orange. It's probably why he never seemed to see it anywhere other than Sasuke's closet—that, or Sasuke had managed to never need it. But why would he have bought it, if he'd never need it?

He pulls on the rest of Sasuke's clothes, flexing the way the new bandages feel. It takes some getting used to with every switch, he thinks, but it's better this time. He always does it too tight, but Sasuke never does. He's always had that...attention to detail. Perfectionism. Stupid perfect pretty bastard brain.

Naruto smiles at his own joke, and wonders if Sasuke can feel him making fun of him in the other room. Probably, he thinks, flipping the blanket over his shoulder. His feet are still bare and the wood is cold underneath them—it's a sensation that just about has him sprinting to the couch.

He hops over the back of it, and lands on Sasuke.


"I don't know what I expected," he says, unmoving. His finger stays lazily flipped between the pages of his book, and his head tilted against the armrest he's using as a pillow. Naruto sits on Sasuke's feet and hugs his blanket around himself.

"You should've known," Naruto agrees. "Is this place gonna hold up against the storm? It's crazy out there."

"It's survived so far," Sasuke points out. "If you're so cold, come here."


Sasuke flips his book onto his chest, and holds his hand out.

"Here," he says, and a flame flickers to life in his palm.

Naruto laughs and shuffles closer to it. It's a little awkward—Sasuke's made no move to move his legs, and it leaves Naruto...well, uh. On top of him, kinda sideways, kinda leaning, kinda trying to hold himself against the back of the couch to make this less—weird. It feels weird. Sasuke doesn't seem to care—Sasuke's held out the flame for Naruto and closed his eyes, but Naruto…

Naruto doesn't know how to settle here.

Maybe that's his problem. He doesn't know how to settle around Sasuke.

Sasuke sighs.

"Relax, moron," he tells him. Naruto doesn't know how to, but he tries. Sasuke cracks an eye open and shifts the fire closer to him, and Naruto laughs a little.

"You seem tired," he says. "I feel like you should've kicked me off by now."

"I don't care," Sasuke mutters, and Naruto knows he's tired now. His eyes are closed again and he didn't even bother to move his book—Naruto grabs it and flips it onto the floor, keeping Sasuke's place, before they manage to set it on fire or something.

"Cooking again?" Naruto asks, skimming the title. "Are you just reading recipes over and over?"

"Techniques, dumbass," Sasuke mumbles, extinguishing the flame just in time to shove his palm into Naruto's face. "Shut up."

"Shut up?" Naruto asks, laughing a little. "I thought you weren't tired."

"M'fine," Sasuke mutters, and it sounds a bit like a sigh. "Fill me in on whatever."

"On whatever? Anything?"

"Whatever," Sasuke says again, shifting. "You always have some shit to say."

Naruto huffs out a laugh and swears at him.

...He does start talking, though.

Sasuke falls asleep quickly. Unsurprisingly. Naruto isn't even offended. Sasuke waits until Naruto starts talking and notices when he stops, over and over until he's actually totally out. And there's something about Sasuke wanting to hear his voice as he's falling asleep that has Naruto feeling…

Well, flattered is the best word, he guesses. That feels a bit—a bit weird, in the same sort of weird way he's been feeling, but it's accurate. It's the same way he feels about the way they've settled chest to chest, and the arm Sasuke's thrown over him. The way he feels like he's sort of stuck, as if if he moves, he'll ruin something. Something weird. Something...nice.

He breathes in—slowly. In little bursts. He's afraid of moving too quickly. Sasuke's face looks peaceful and calm, and for once, his bangs are out of his face. And he's close—way too close. If Sasuke was awake, there was no way he'd let Naruto get this close—

But he isn't.

And so Naruto is here.

It's been years, and it still feels impossible. Naruto feels like he's spent so much of his life chasing after something uncatchable that he doesn't know what to do now that he's caught it. Hokage was impossible. Sasuke was impossible. Everybody told him so.

And yet, Naruto is still here.

Sasuke makes a small noise and shifts, as if reacting to something in a dream. It's a pleasant dream, though—at least, from what Naruto can tell. The bad ones tend to be stronger. More wild. It's harder to keep them from whipping through their connection—

Sasuke's caught Naruto's nightmares before, too.

The wind picks up outside, rattling the door and threatening the fire still burning away in the fireplace. Naruto's been able to pick up the embers with his wind, coaxing them back up again until they can add some wood or something. The cold air can't be helping, but Naruto is determined to get this room as warm as possible before Sasuke leaves him for the night.

Night's probably coming soon, too.

He breathes out, and studies Sasuke's face again.

It's such an unreasonable face. Such an inaccurate face. Imagine, seeing a face so beautiful and blissful and thinking it had gone anywhere near what Sasuke had been through…come on. As if. But Sasuke's built out of contradictions—too perfect for his rage, too violent for his love. A porcelain vase filled with explosives.

Of course, he's simmered down since then—but still. Sasuke likes to think he's a calm, stoic sort of guy. Naruto knows better. Naruto knows his emotion's right up against his skin, pounding like a fist at a door. Naruto knows that Sasuke feels more than any of them. More than him, even. If Naruto wears his heart on his sleeve, Sasuke bites it behind his teeth—ready to burst out, if he ever let it.

Naruto likes to trick him into letting it.

He smiles a little, scanning Sasuke's face. It was an accident, most of the time, but just as satisfying. And it's fair, too, because Sasuke gets pretty much everything out of Naruto's head through their connection—but Sasuke had figured out how to hide himself within weeks. Control himself. Push his emotion down—and yeah, most of that is probably as a result of him doing that his whole life, but it's still as annoying as it had always fucking been.

Sasuke cracks an eye open.

"Uh—" Naruto says, shifting—

"You think too loud," Sasuke mutters. "S'just—shut up."

He closes his eyes and...nuzzles in.

Naruto presses his lips together and stares at the ceiling. He isn't gonna laugh. He isn't gonna laugh, Sasuke will hate him forever if he laughs at him for being cuddly

"Ugh," Sasuke breaths out, opening his tired eyes into a glare. "What? Are you uncomfortable?"

"No!" Naruto says, already giggling, damn it— "No, I'm—this is fine, really, uh—"

"Fuck you," Sasuke replies, and he heaves himself up. "I'm going to make tea."

"Wh—no! You don't have to—"

Sasuke turns around and stares at Naruto for a long, long minute.

"...I'm going to make tea," he says again, and then he turns around.

Naruto blinks.


That had almost been another one of those moments. Like a hurricane in his head, Sasuke's emotion whipped up a storm Naruto could barely manage to catch a piece of. Maybe if some piece of debris happened to land, but most of the time…

Naruto stares at his back.

His shoulders are stiff. His head is down. He's been caught on the edge of something he hadn't meant to be. Was it the cuddling? Naruto hadn't really…

"Did you talk to her?" Sasuke asks, and Naruto notices the way he doesn't turn around. "You never said."


"Hinata," he says, putting the pot onto the stove. "You were going to speak with her before her birthday."

"Oh," Naruto says, pulling his knees up onto the couch. "Uh, I—yeah. I...did."

Sasuke's hands pause.


He doesn't turn around.

"And she cried, Sasuke, it didn't go good. It sucked. She—she didn't deserve it. Why did you want me to do that anyway? It—"

"She confessed to you three times," Sasuke points out, finally turning around. He's leaning back against the counter as if he'd never been stiff at all— "She needed an answer."

"I—" Naruto heaves out a breath. "I was hoping she'd—y'know, piece that together—"

He waves a hand, and Sasuke watches it. He's shit at this stuff. Sasuke should know—it's uncomfortable and weird and Naruto doesn't know what to do with any of it. It's so much easier to just—not talk about it. Why do they have to talk about it? Just—

"She may have," Sasuke replies, and it's quiet. "Sometimes you want an answer anyway."

Naruto looks up, but Sasuke's back is turned again.

Sasuke makes them peppermint tea, from the leaves he'd dried over the summer. He'd gone from having a little spring of the stuff to it trying to take over the place, and Naruto had been fed peppermint water and teas and jams and recipes ever since. Not that he minded—there was something in Naruto that...reacted to the way Sasuke looked in the house, standing in the middle of all the plants he'd hung to dry. He'd pressed flowers, too, but Naruto wasn't sure he'd been supposed to find out about that.

He drinks his tea within the minute, and Sasuke gets up and makes them a whole pot. He grumbles, but Naruto never asked him to do it.

"And the food is in the fridge," Sasuke says, flipping his book open over his lap again. "Whenever you're hungry."

Naruto blinks.

"There's food already?! Why didn't you say—"

"I cooked earlier to—don't hurt yourself, moron," Sasuke says, as Naruto threatens to trip over the nothing in his way. He spins around and sticks his tongue out at Sasuke instead, wrapping the blanket around him like a cape.

Sasuke sprawls out over the couch in answer, watching him. Naruto whips the fridge open like a door and—

"No," he breathes out, staring. "Sasuke. You didn't."

A page flips in answer.

Naruto spins on his heels and points at the door.

"Ramen! That's ramen, Sasuke, what did you—"

"I'm learning," Sasuke mutters, not looking up. "I told you."

Naruto gapes at him. Sasuke's lips twitch, but he doesn't look up—and that's just about enough of the excuse Naruto needs to slide back and tackle Sasuke to the floor about it. He's been hiding that all day, all—

"—day, Sasuke, you asshole, when were you gonna tell me—"

Sasuke laughs and sends a spark through the foot he kicks into Naruto's stomach. It startles him just enough for Sasuke to flip them around, pushing Naruto's back against the old, faded carpet—

"I tell you things when you figure them out," he says, with a casual hand on Naruto's throat. It's a muscle memory sort of movement, and Sasuke's grip could easily be broken, but Naruto feels pinned under it all the same—

"How's that supposed to work?" Naruto complains, but his voice is strained.

"Poorly," Sasuke answers, and Naruto can see the smile playing at his lips. "You are an idiot, after all."

Naruto breaks the grip and slams Sasuke back.

"Asshole," he growls, and Sasuke raises his chin up in challenge. "You're such a fucking asshole."

"Am I?" he taunts. "I'll keep my food to myself then. Like the asshole that I am—"

"No!" Naruto laughs and relents and lets Sasuke shove him back. Hands pinned over his head and Sasuke's knee on his chest—Sasuke leans over him, and waits.


"...I yield," Naruto grumbles, and Sasuke lets go. He's pleased with himself—Naruto can feel their bond practically humming with it. Naruto sticks his tongue out again for good measure, and Sasuke kicks at him as he passes by.

He warms up the ramen in one big pot, and Sasuke sneaks behind him before he realizes it. The kitchen is too small for the both of them—either one of them needs to squash behind the fridge, against the stove, or against each other—but Sasuke doesn't seem to mind.

Naruto breathes out that strange, nervous feeling again, and follows his lead. His adrenaline isn't doing him any good. All of its advice is making no goddamn sense. He's been closer to Sasuke in about a million more differently intimate ways, and what's another one to the two of them?

Naruto doesn't know.

He passes Sasuke a bowl, and gets a raised eyebrow in reply, as if Sasuke's sassing him about expecting a thanks for the food that he made. Naruto huffs out a laugh and grabs himself a bowl, too.

Sasuke slips to the side to let him pass, but Naruto still needs to press close. Too close, but he's too preoccupied with ramen, and this is another thing on the list of things that Sasuke doesn't seem to care about. He hops back on the couch and nearly burns his hand in the process—

"Don't compare it to Ichiraku's," Sasuke mutters, and Naruto pauses tilting the bowl just long enough to laugh.

"It's good! Asshole, it's ramen, not even you can fuck that up."

Sasuke slides the bowl onto the table and punches Naruto's thigh as he sits down, but Naruto only laughs into his bowl again. It's damn good. Maybe it's the cold or the not having eaten the whole way here or just not having to do a damn thing for himself, but Sasuke's cooking is starting to get dangerously good. Sasuke's everything is becoming dangerously good. Naruto's already finding every excuse he has to come out here…

"...What?" Sasuke asks, and Naruto jerks back into reality. "I thought you said it was good."

"It is good!" Naruto insists. "I'm just—I'm thinking."

The joke doesn't come. Naruto thinks it will and he waits for it, but Sasuke stays quiet, and it tells Naruto that he's probably worrying Sasuke way more than he let on.

"Nothing bad, asshole," he sighs, leaning back. "I just…"

He's warm. The fire is back in full, and Sasuke's tucked his feet under Naruto's blanket. The ramen was warm and perfect, and this room is warm and perfect, and all there is back out there is a goddamn snowstorm—

"I don't know how the hell I'm supposed to leave this place."

He shakes his head with a laugh. It's a stupid thought—he's got responsibilites and friends and this is Sasuke's house, not his. He doesn't live here. He'd drive Sasuke crazy. He's here every chance he gets anyway, and surely that's enough—

He looks down, and the Uchiha clan symbol shines a bright red on the inside of his sleeve.

"What's forcing you?"

Naruto's head jerks to the side.


"To leave," Sasuke says, and his bowl is nowhere to be seen. He's resting his head on the back of his hand instead, watching Naruto with those—those stupid, piercing dark eyes. What was the point in ever talking when Sasuke could just look at him and know everything—


The word leaves him like a breath, and it makes Sasuke sit up. It makes Naruto sit up, too, because he—

"Uh—I mean, no, not only—I've got—I've got stuff to do, um, in other places, so—"


Naruto's heart jumps into his throat.


He stares.

Sasuke gives him nothing.

"I'm telling you to stay."

Naruto breathes in.

He gets no air from it.

"I—wh—okay," he rips his eyes away, laughing out the breath as if it will help, "very funny, Sasuke. I'm not gonna—"

"I'm not joking. Stay."

Naruto shakes his head and shakes the thought away. He doesn't know what Sasuke's trying to do here, but—

"Is this—" he laughs again, and it sounds hysterical, "is this some sort of fucked up callback to when—when you left and I kept begging you to stay so now you feel like you have to—"

"Not even in the slightest."

Sasuke sighs, and Naruto makes the mistake of looking back again.

"Moron," Sasuke tells the ceiling. He's not even looking at Naruto anymore. His hand is stuck in his hair, like he's midway through massaging out a headache, or rubbing his eyes or the bridge of his nose, and all of those were reactions he'd had to Naruto before, so—

"The—I—" Naruto huffs out a breath. "You'd go nuts with me around all the time. This is your place. And I have—I have things to do. Y'know. It's impossible for me to stay here."

Sasuke's hand reaches up towards the ceiling.

"Aren't you the king of conquering the impossible?" he asks, unmoving.

Naruto laughs.

"I mean—I—I—if you do stupid shit enough times, it's bound to work eventually, right?"

That breaks a smile out of Sasuke, and his hand falls back to him.

"Well, then. Get started on trying to stay here, would you?" he says, rolling his head to look back at Naruto. "That's stupid enough."

Naruto laughs again.

"Yeah, it is. You'd kick me out within the day."

"You're right," Sasuke deadpans. "That's what I'm doing right now. Get out of here."

Naruto kicks him in the calf. It's more of a nudge, but Sasuke retaliates anyway.

"You're an idiot," he says, sitting up. "Give me some of the blanket."

"You have some of the blanket!" Naruto insists, but he flicks it out over at Sasuke anyway. Sasuke shifts along the couch and replaces the cold air with himself, and Naruto is—uh. Warm. Real warm. Warm in his face and his shoulder and his cheeks and his throat and—


Here's that feeling again.

"You could stay."

Naruto breathes in.

"If you need me to scream it a thousand times, I can."

"Fucker," Naruto laughs, shoving his shoulder into Sasuke's. But that's a mistake, too, because Sasuke rocks back when Naruto does—

And then he doesn't leave.

"It's too—it's too cold here. The walls are—"

"They need to be fixed," Sasuke agrees. "Sure. The breeze isn't bad in the summer."

"But now, Sasuke—"

"I'll fix them," Sasuke says. "What else?"

Naruto blinks, and realizes what he's accidentally backed himself into.

"I—hang on. I can't stay here! Sasuke, I have to—"

"What? What is there?"

"To—well, Konoha, for one thing—"

"You're looking to step back from your responsibilities," Sasuke points out, and Naruto realizes that Sasuke might not have been sleeping at all. "Isn't that what you said?"

"I—I mean, the paperwork, sure, now that—"

"Now that large pieces have been put in motion. What else?"

"The—I have friends! In—not even just in Konoha, I—"

"You'd be living here, not my hostage," Sasuke deadpans, rolling his eyes. "Try something better."

"The—this—this is a one person house! It's only got the one bedroom and everything—"

"God forbid," he mutters. "The bed again."

Naruto lets out a breath, and Sasuke's shifted only enough to give him a look.

"You realize we'd be about as far apart as we are now."

"That's not the—it's your bed! I'm not gonna steal your be—"

"You won't be."

Naruto blinks.

"Is that your only qualm?"

"I—uh. I—mean. Yeah, I—I guess—"

Sasuke shifts.

The fire, in front of them, flickers out.

"...You asshole! Sasuke—you prick, it's so fucking cold—"

Sasuke stands up and snatches Naruto's blanket from him. Naruto yelps in betrayal—

"Let's go, moron."

Naruto chases him down the hall.

It's a big bed. It's a big enough bed—and Naruto knows this. He knows it's weird to be weird about this but that doesn't change the fact that he—

That he is...weird. About this. Sasuke is warm and there, Naruto is so intensely aware of his weight in the mattress and the way he pulls the sheets and every single goddamn time he shifts even the slightest bit closer—

"You think so loud," Sasuke complains, and that does absolutely fucking nothing for Naruto's panic. "What's the matter with you?"

"Nothing," Naruto says, staring intently at the ceiling and not Sasuke's goddamn face on the pillow beside him. "Nothing, I'm—"


Naruto breathes in.


Yeah, lies are useless here.

"I—" he says, and it's strained. "I don't—know. Something's just—goes weird. In my head. Around you."

There's a pause, and Naruto...doesn't feel like he can breathe. The air's too thick. His chest's too heavy. He—

Sasuke laughs.

It's a low, quiet chuckle, and it tears Naruto's eyes from the ceiling to Sasuke, who's stuffed his smile into the pillow—

"What's wrong, Naruto?" he asks, and there's something in his eyes that has Naruto's heart pounding— "Do you think about me when I'm not with you? Do you look up at the sky and wonder if I'm looking at the same stars? Do you feel the place I put my fingers for long after I'm gone? Do you hold your breath when I look at you? Do you stare when I'm gone? Do you breathe the air in where I used to be, like it will put a piece of you back into yourself?"

Naruto stares at him.

Sasuke laughs again.

"Hopeless," he says, and Naruto doesn't know who he's talking to. His hand is over his face again, and he's turned back to the ceiling.

He breathes out, and doesn't move.

Naruto's head is spinning.

"Um," he says—

"Whatever. Don't worry about it," Sasuke says, rolling onto his side. And Naruto feels it—feels it in the mattress and the sheets and in the echo across his head as Sasuke pulls away—

"Hey—!" he protests, rolling after him— "No, no, no, you don't get to—"

"I'm tired," Sasuke says, and it makes Naruto stop. It makes him freeze, because Sasuke is tense again. He's tense and rigid and Naruto can feel the emotion he's trying desperately to calm. To hide. To stifle—

It's not working.


Good, because Naruto is spinning, too, and it wasn't fair for him to be the only one left like this. Laying here in the blizzard Sasuke's whipped up in his head—it's not fair. What the hell was that? What the hell is this? Naruto doesn't know—he doesn't know—

Sasuke does.

"Do you know what's happening?" he asks, and he feels wild. He feels hysterical and scared and wild, like he's an animal backed into a corner—

"To you?" Sasuke asks softly, but he doesn't turn back. "I'd like to think so."

Naruto wants to laugh.

"Are you—are you gonna share that with me, you fucking asshole?"


Naruto makes a noise and slaps Sasuke in the stomach. Sasuke flinches and grabs his hand, spinning around to press it down with his body—

He stops, and Naruto is frozen.

"No," Sasuke says again, and it's as if he's holding himself back from something. As if he's tying the rope that pulls him back—Naruto sees something desperate in his eyes and he recognizes it, he recognizes that feeling—

Sasuke breaks the gaze, but he doesn't pull away. His brow is furrowed and his eyes are down, staring somewhere past Naruto with a tension that waits for...something...painful.

Like he's bracing for a hit.

"I'm not gonna hurt you," Naruto says, confused—

Sasuke's head snaps up, and Naruto blinks at the way those eyes are glaring.

"Don't make promises you can't keep."

Naruto's spine gets a little more rigid.

"I don't," he says, glaring back, "and I'm not gonna—"

"Stop." Sasuke says, and it's a hiss. It's a snap, it's the warning rattle of a snake ready to strike. "Just…"

He breathes out, and he's the one that deflates. Naruto feels himself do the same, in his confused, dizzy state. Sasuke's eyes flicker to his and he feels something like a soft quiet...regret?

No. No, it's an apology.

Sasuke's lips thin, and he looks away.

"I'm not mad," Naruto offers, but Sasuke just closes his eyes.

"...I know."

There's a pause. The wind rattles at the walls outside, and Naruto hears the branches scraping across the roof. It's still dark—still dreary and windy and Naruto has never been more thankful to be inside, but…

It's weird.

Sasuke looks so...bright. In the dark. Naruto shouldn't be able to see him so clearly...

"You're right," he says, and Sasuke's eyes snap up.

Naruto swallows.

"I do think about you when you aren't there. I've looked up at the sky and—and wished on stars, and I've—I hold my breath when you're close to me and I feel it when you're gone and you're—isn't that—that's just how we are? Isn't that just—just—us?"

"I don't know," Sasuke replies, and it's careful. "Is that what friendship is to you?"

"I didn't say friendship," Naruto says, "I said us."

"Am I not a friend?"

"Well, yeah, but—"

He cuts himself off, expecting an interruption, but Sasuke is silent. Sasuke is tense, even—he looks as if he isn't even breathing, only staring, only waiting—

But Naruto—he—

He doesn't know what he was going to say,

"I mean, yeah, you are. You' friend."

Sasuke breathes again. The tension relaxes into something worse—a tired, quiet...resignation. Not surprise, but—sadness? Naruto digs through the bond in their head—

"And I'm your...friend," Naruto says, and he's looking for it. Looking for something Sasuke doesn't want to give him—he can tell from the way his brow furrows. The way he looks up, with his eyes a dark so different from the rest of the room—

"I—damn it, Sasuke—we're us. Why are you trying to put us into—we're not just—"

He heaves out a breath and runs a hand through his hair. The hand that Sasuke had bandaged for him. The chills break out across his skin at the memory—

"I'm more than a friend," Sasuke says, and it feels like a question. It's hesitant and careful and Naruto laughs at it anyway—

"I mean," he says, waving a hand, "not like that, Sas—"


Sasuke turns around.


Their connection clicks shut. He feels the door swing and the padlocks snap into place, feels it as Sasuke curls his emotion into his hand like his chidori—where he's going to swing that weapon, Naruto doesn't know—

"Sasuke," he tries.


"Sasuke," he insists.

Sasuke breaths out and doesn't reply.

"Fucking hell, bastard, will you at least look at me," he says, grabbing Sasuke's shoulder and spinning him arou—


The door breaks free.

And Sasuke sucks it back and snaps it's broken pieces shut, but Naruto was trapped in the eye of the storm for just long enough. Just long enough, he grabs Sasuke's shirt and twists it in his fist—Sasuke expects a hit, but Naruto isn't gonna give him one, he just wants to keep him here, stop pulling away, stop pulling away, stop pulling—

"—away, bastard, Sasuke, you fucking asshole, just talk to me. Stop, I'll—I'll—"

He doesn't know.

And Sasuke doesn't either. He can tell by the way he doesn't want to stay but he doesn't want to leave, the way he's frozen but still tense, the way he doesn't speak and he doesn't look Naruto in the eye—

"Okay," he breathes out. "Okay. Okay."

But it's not. It's not at all. Naruto's head turns and turns and turns again—

Not like that. It wasn't like that. Their—they weren't—they weren't in—


"Are you in love with me?" he asks, because—no. Right? Sasuke will laugh. Sasuke will laugh and push him away and—

He doesn't.

He doesn't even look at him.

"Oh," Naruto whispers, and he's weak. He's too weak to hold himself up, suddenly—he's too weak to even breathe, and so he sits back, sits up, and stares at the dark with eyes that start to burn—

"Oh," he says again, and it breaks.


"That's us," he says, and it spins in his head. It turns in his head and it clicks, like a puzzle piece into place—Naruto breathes out and it hurts but it makes sense— "that's what this—that's what I—fucking hell."

He rolls off of Sasuke and stares at the ceiling.

"I—" he says, and his cheek is wet. Not the one Sasuke can see, and so he doesn't do anything about it, because any motion would be too obvious— "I didn't—I don't know how to—"

Crap. Crap, that's his other cheek. Naruto slaps it away before Sasuke can see—


Sasuke catches his hand before it can fall.

Naruto stares.

"Oh," he says, and it clicks into him all over again. It's real, suddenly. He's here, in Sasuke's bed, with his hand in his, looking him in the eye, and it hits Naruto, all at once, that this is—

This is really happening.

"Sorry," he says, because he can't stop the tears now. They're going and he's broken and he's sitting up to try and be a bit less pathetic but all that does is make Sasuke sit up too, and Naruto does all he can to give him his best, most apologetic smile—

"Moron," Sasuke replies, and it's gentle. It's warm and soft and Sasuke's just as close as he's been the rest of the night, and Naruto's heart aches with the fact that he knows why. He can barely breathe again. He can barely think again. Sasuke lets go of his hand to sigh and wipe his cheeks with the sleeve he isn't using, and all Naruto can do is laugh about it—

"Sorry," he says again, and Sasuke gives him a look. "I'm not gonna—I'm not gonna—"

His head falls forward to rest against Sasuke's chest. He breathes in, and it smells like Sasuke. It feels like Sasuke. He's warm and he's here and Naruto just needs to close his eyes for a second, or five, and just—just—

Something presses against the top of his head.

Naruto's breath hitches.

Sasuke kisses him again—once, twice—in delicate, hesitant motions. Like a question, like a tentative, careful touch of comfort. Sasuke isn't as new to this as he is. No, it's not a shock to him at all. Sasuke's known. He's known for—

How long has he known?

Naruto pulls back.

Sasuke breathes in. He's still scared—Naruto can see it. And he doesn't understand—if Sasuke had known, and he knew Naruto's heart, and he knew—

"How—if you knew, why didn't you—"

He doesn't know how to ask the question.

Sasuke hears it anyway.

"A moment ago, you laughed at the thought," he points out, and Naruto wants to cringe.

"That's because I'm stupid, Sasuke, you can't expect me to—"

"I needed you to. I needed an answer."

Naruto's head jerks up. Sasuke doesn't look at him, again. Not in an unhappy way, but the way he tends to—whenever he thinks he's said too much. Been too honest. A bit of emotion's made it through his shell, and he still doesn't seem to get that Naruto loves it when it breaks.

"Oh," he says, the realization back in his smile, "that's what you meant…"

Sasuke doesn't reply. It's a different kind of silence—one of those where Sasuke thinks enough's been said, and he has nothing to add.

What it really is is agreement, but you've gotta learn to speak Sasuke to know that.

"It—um," Naruto says, shifting to—to sit up a bit straighter. Face Sasuke a bit more head on. "Um. If you—"

Damn it. Damn it, Sasuke's head's all wrong, and he can't just—just kiss Sasuke's forehead or head or—it's too awkward. It's all too awkward, and Naruto wants to say something, to do something, he wants to give Sasuke his answer but his heart is pounding in his goddamn ears—

"You don't have to force yourself into anything, moron," Sasuke mutters, and Naruto wants to punch the mattress.

"I'm not! I'm just—I've never—" Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, "I've never done this on—on purpose, you asshole, shut the fuck up—"

"I can fall off a desk if you want."

"Fuck you!"

He shoves Sasuke and Sasuke shoves him right back—harder, as usual, and Naruto's back hits the mattress with Sasuke's palm pressed to his chest. Naruto breathes out all the air he has left and lays there, holding Sasuke's wrist. Doing nothing to pull it away. Doing nothing to push him away. He melts into the bed and stares at Sasuke and wonders if he can get away with never breathing again—

Sasuke's hand moves up. His thumb trails along Naruto's neck, and it stops just under his ear. Naruto's grip loosens but doesn't let go—he feels the need to have something to hold onto—

Sasuke leans down.

The first kiss is soft. It's like the ones in his hair—gentle and closed and confusing, something so delicate that Naruto just doesn't know what to do with it. The second one's a question—it's a push, it follows the first after only a moment, and it barely gives Naruto enough time to breathe—

The third is fire.

The third is twisted, the third picks Naruto up and slams him back down and reminds him he's never been anywhere but here, trapped in a room with nothing but Sasuke and every chance to leave. He never will. He never could. Sasuke lets go only to slide his palm down Naruto's body and every inch of him replies—his body comes to life, trembling at the slow, painful purpose in every way Sasuke curves against him, Naruto arches and aches and—

Breathes out.

Sasuke's pulled away, but he hasn't pulled back. He stays close, stays warm, and Naruto feels the promise of another kiss in the way their breath mixes together.

"Better?" Sasuke asks, and Naruto trembles out a laugh.

"No," he says. "Awful. Do it again."

He feels it as Sasuke laughs. He feels his smile against his lips, feels the way his body relaxes and tenses and relaxes again…

It feels like the moon, finally breaking through the snow.