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Tightrope 10

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Chapter 10 – Toeing the Line

“My name is Uzumaki Naruto!”

“I know. Iruka-sensei said your name during roll call.” Sasuke said, not once pausing on his way home.

“Oh. Well, get this; I’m going to become the Hokage! Dattebayo!”

“Hmm… That’s nice.”

“Huh? You think that’s nice? You really, really think so?”

“I don’t mean nice in that-” Sasuke cut himself off and massaged his nose bridge. He cast around for the right words to explain, “I just meant that it’s a nice ambition to have.”

“So you think I can become Hokage?”

“Certainly not now, but nothing’s impossible with hard work.”

Naruto’s eyes sparkled at that answer, and Sasuke got the feeling that he would never be able to shake off the blond now, but he hadn’t wanted to be rude just to avoid the protagonist until graduation. It just wasn’t in his nature to be mean.

“Right? Right? I’m going to work hard and become the Hokage. Dattebayo!” Naruto grinned, beaming sunshine and rainbows. “Hey, hey! Where do you live? I went to the Uchiha Compound to find you but you weren’t there. Do you live somewhere else? Outside the Compound? In an apartment?” Naruto was running his mouth a mile a minute as he dogged Sasuke home after school.

They were walking through a rather scenic trail, with white cobblestone pavement, soft dappled lighting, and cherry blossom petals fluttering everywhere.

Sasuke paused and turned to Naruto with a raised eyebrow. He didn’t look annoyed, just bemused. “What is it that you want Uzumaki-san?”

“Eh? Don’t be so foreign, call me Naruto! And I’ll call you Sasuke. We’re friends right?”

“Since when?”

“Since you gave me presents! I still haven’t returned the favor,” Naruto said, then he thumped a fist into his palm, “Oh, I know, I’ll treat you to ramen. It’s the best food in the entire world.”

“You’ve never been out of the village,” there was a definite undertone of amusement in the voice and Naruto took that as a positive sign.

Naruto grinned, “I don’t have to. I know it’s the best thing ever because Teuchi-san makes ramen from the heart!”

Sasuke smiled, amused. A soft pink petal drifted onto his hair. Naruto reached up and casually brushed the petal off Sasuke’s dark locks.

“You know…” Naruto leaned forward slightly with his hand still settled on Sasuke’s hair in a light caress, “You’re very beautiful.” A soft flush spread across Sasuke’s cheeks at that candid proclamation. Naruto couldn’t help thinking how cute he looked.

Sasuke pushed Naruto’s face away. His expression was part amusement, part exasperation. “You’re a smooth talker, aren’t you?”

Naruto grinned, unabashed. “You’re so pretty I thought you might be a girl when we first met.”

“Hn.” Sasuke continued down the path and Naruto trotted next to him, a content smile on his face. Sasuke didn’t say anything else, but he didn’t shoo Naruto away either, so Naruto followed him all the way home.

“You do live here!” Naruto pointed an accusing finger at Sasuke, who arched an eyebrow.

“I never said I didn’t.”

“What? But- but-”

“Are you coming or not?”

“Of course! Dattebayo!”

Naruto still had vague memories of combing through the Compound when it was empty and eerie. With Sasuke walking beside him, the Compound didn’t seem so bad.

As soon as Sasuke opened the door to his house a blur barreled towards him. “Welcome home, onii-sama!”

Sasuke hugged the little boy. “I’m home, Ranmaru.” The boy nuzzled his face into Sasuke chest.

Naruto watched the display. “Who’s this kid?” He smiled at Ranmaru.

“This is my adopted brother, Ranmaru. Ranmaru, this is Uzumaki Naruto-san, my classmate.”

Naruto’s smile drooped a little at that. Classmate, not friend…

“Uzumaki?” Ranmaru queried.

“Yes. I assume Karin is still out with her team?”

“Yeah, another D-rank,” Ranmaru giggled.

“Well they only graduated three weeks ago. No matter how skilled they are, I doubt their jonin-sensei would just throw them on a C-rank mission,” Sasuke reasoned.

“Who’s this Karin?”

Both Sasuke and Ranmaru smiled eerily at Naruto. “You’ll meet her soon.”

Naruto wasn’t sure he wanted to.

Yeah, Naruto knew for sure he didn’t want to meet this Karin, but he met her anyways. He was surprised to learn that she was an Uzumaki too. For a while it looked like they were going to hit it off well. Naruto complimented her hair. Karin told him stories of Uzushiogakure. Then things got weird when Naruto invited himself to dinner.

It was Karin’s turn to cook. The entire time she was in the kitchen she was muttering and cackling to herself. Naruto feared for the safety of his stomach lining. While Karin cooked, Naruto got to know the other members of Sasuke’s family, Juugo and Kimimaro. They were nice enough, but Kimimaro was always there when Naruto tried to get closer to Sasuke to talk. Juugo seemed shy and didn’t want to interact much, so Naruto let him be for now. There was plenty of time to get to know each other later. For now, Naruto focused his attentions on Sasuke and Ranmaru whom were the most receptive and indulgent to his motor mouth.

When Karin dished out the food, Naruto immediately smelled something different about Sasuke’s portion, but it wasn’t poison. If anything it smelled like Karin put extra spices into Sasuke’s portion, which was odd since Naruto was sure she was cooking everyone’s share at once.

They dug in. The food was nothing like Ichiraku’s but it was good and he told her so. She thanked him for his compliment – “It’s a recipe from Uzushiogakure!” – and they were still getting along well, making conversation about the Uzumaki clan while they ate.

After dinner, Ranmaru did the dishes. Juugo excused himself for the night. Sasuke stumbled, pink-faced, into the living room area, and the other three followed suit.

“Sasuke, what’s wrong?” Naruto asked.

Sasuke collapsed on the couch, looking boneless and limp, his head lolled back on the backrest. “Hmm?” Sasuke looked at Naruto through half lidded eyes.

Naruto’s heart fluttered. “Guys, what’s happening?” He asked the other two.

“Witch,” Kimimaro sniped at Karin.

“He ate it willingly,” Karin snapped back.

“It’s fine,” Sasuke murmured. “I feel relaxed.”

“That’s right,” Karin smirked at Kimimaro and went around to the back of the couch. “Just relax, Sasuke. You’re always working so hard.” She started to give Sasuke a massage.

“Feels good,” Sasuke said, his eyes fluttering close.

“It’s the clams,” Kimimaro said.

“Clams?” Naruto asked.

“Clams,” Karin confirmed, her hands working at the knots in Sasuke’s shoulders. “Imported from the shores of Uzushio. Expensive products you know. This is only the third time I got to make it,” she purred.

“I don’t get it.” Naruto said, watching as Sasuke melted into boneless putty under Karin’s skillful hands.

“When I first started experimenting to see if I could recreate the taste of home, I had to substitute some spices, because imported products are expensive you see.” Karin explained. “In one of my experiments I found out that if I mix certain spices native to Konoha with the clams from Uzushio, it produces an interesting effect in Sasuke.”

“So Sasuke is… drunk? On clams?” Naruto blanched.

“Not drunk. Relaxed.”

“Tipsy,” Kimimaro said.

“No one asked for your input,” Karin snapped at him.

“And Sasuke just goes along with it?” Naruto asked.

“He trusts Karin too much,” Kimimaro frowned.

“Of course, I’m very dependable,” Karin crooned.

“You said you wouldn’t overdose him again.”

“I didn’t. This is the perfect amount. By the way, you should go take a bath, Kimimaro. You stink. I’ve got it covered here.”

“I’m not leaving you alone with Sasuke-sama.”

Karin glared daggers at Kimimaro even as her hands kneaded Sasuke gently. Naruto heard a ripping sound and then there was a bone-white blade in Kimimaro’s hands.

“Whoa!” Naruto jumped in. “C’mon guys, Sasuke wouldn’t want you two to fight. Kimimaro, why don’t you go relax with a hot bath, I’ll keep watch over here.” Karin stopped glaring and looked away. “Okay?” Naruto prompted Kimimaro.

After an eternity, Kimimaro left the room.

“Finally. I thought he’d never leave. That spoilsport,” Karin complained. Her hands never once stopped moving against Sasuke, who was half asleep by now. He looked so relaxed. Naruto kind of enjoyed seeing it.

“Hey Naruto, can you go to my house across the street and fetch some massage oils for me?”

“What? Me?”

“Who else, dummy? Does it look like it’s a good idea for me to stop now?”

“I guess not…”

“It’s just across the street. The oils are all in a basket. Hurry back.”

“Okay…” Naruto rushed to the house across the street. He sneezed as soon as he got in. The house was covered in dust and didn’t look like it had been lived in for some time now. Maybe Karin was just really lazy about cleaning. Naruto wasn’t too keen on cleaning either. It had to be an Uzumaki thing.

He searched the house. He had suspected it from the beginning, but he didn’t want to doubt a fellow Uzumaki. Now Naruto knew for certain that he was duped. He went back to Sasuke’s house only to find Karin and Sasuke gone. He kept his panic under control. If Kimimaro found out there would be hell to pay.

“Which house does Karin live in?” Naruto asked Ranmaru.

“Just next door.”

Naruto found the two people he was looking for in Karin’s living room. Sasuke was shirtless and lying sprawled on his stomach on the couch. Karin straddled his waist and was rubbing unscented massage oils into Sasuke’s bare skin. Sasuke was moaning softly, completely oblivious, as Karin worked the kinks out of his body.

Something down south twitched at the scene and Naruto tried very hard not to think about it.

When Karin’s fingers trailed Sasuke’s spine a little too low, Naruto felt a surging panic. He threw her off Sasuke and picked up the dark haired boy to carry him back to his house, where Kimimaro could watch over him. Due to the way Naruto held Sasuke, his soft golden locks brushed against Sasuke’s neck as he moved. The uninhibited Sasuke moaned into Naruto’s ear, and Naruto groaned himself as a shudder ran down his body. Karin’s sharp eyes did not overlook his reaction.

After delivering Sasuke into Kimimaro’s arms, Naruto hightailed it out of the Compound as if actual ghosts were chasing after him.

Naruto’s dreams that night were… confusing.

Confusing, because he wouldn’t describe them as disturbing, and he would never admit that they were stimulating.

He woke up with morning wood the next day and stumbled into class late on his second day.

It was going to be a long school year.

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