Notes: The boys are about 16 in this fic (they're 12 at the beginning of the manga, I think). Despite this angst-ridden fic, I'm a firm Sasuke/Naruto lover. This was just an interesting idea (and an awesome song) that I wanted to try out. ^^; It doesn't take place during any specific time in the actual series x_x;
Please forgive any typos, as my beta is unavailable -_-;;
Disclaimer: The song "As Is" is by the goddess that is Ani Difranco. *_*
Characters (c) Kishimoto Masashi.

Chapter 1: "Suspicions"

you can't hide
behind social graces
so don't try
to be all touchy feely
cuz you lie
in my face of all places
but I got no
problem with that really

    Naruto grinned, turning to wave. "Oyasumi, Sakura-chan."
    He turned back, reaching up to blow warm air into his cupped hands, cerulean eyes glancing up at the star-studded sky. "Man, I'm stuffed," he exclaimed, patting his stomach contently. "Her mom sure can cook."
    Sasuke, almost invisible in his dark clothing, walked beside his partner and declined to comment.
    Naruto stuffed his hands in his pockets, glancing towards the taller boy out of the corner of his eye. A frown tugged at his mouth, and he wondered what was going through the other ninja's head. As always, he came up blank. Sasuke was an enigma to everyone-- his firey blond lover was no exception. "Ne," he said, trying to sound casual. "Whatcha thinkin' about?"
    It was a question that irritated Sasuke, and Naruto knew it. But he couldn't help it. Sasuke could be so damned introverted, and it drove the kitsune nuts. Because Naruto was wont to let everyone in hearing range know whenever he was happy, angry, or indignant, Sasuke's unreadable face and cool attitude baffled him. He'd labelled the boy as an asshole upon first meeting him, and now, four years later, being his lover hadn't changed that opinion.
    Sasuke's short reply was the same as always. "Nothing."
    Naruto scowled at him, but Sasuke looked ahead, ignoring him. Naruto blew a noisy sigh and tilted his head back in sullen contemplation of the sky again. He would not start an argument, he told himself firmly, pressing his lips tight together to hold back an irritated retort. Angry words usually led to blows, then sulking on both parts, which almost always meant no sex. He'd be damned if he was going to let Sasuke's arrogant aloofness ruin his good mood.
    They continued on in silence for another two or three minutes before Naruto could stand the quiet no more. "So are you ready for tomorrow's mission?" he asked, giving his partner a vulpine grin. "I am so gonna show you up."
    Sasuke quirked a brow at him, unimpressed. "We'll see who ends up on top."
    "Is that a challenge?" Naruto sneered playfully. "Or an offer?"
    The other boy grunted noncommitedly.
    "Where were you this morning?" Naruto asked suddenly. "That's the third time in a row you skipped out before I woke up." He raised his eyebrows. "You cheating on me?" he asked, only half teasing.
    Sasuke refused to look at him. "I was training," he snapped.
    Naruto studied the other boy's face, his own face straining with the smile he forced himself to wear. "Workaholic," he accused. His voice sounded hard even to him. Training. You liar, he wanted to say, but stopped himself. They trained together- or with Sakura. Kakashi disapproved of them training alone, now that they were a solid team. Working to make yourself better than your teammates only made you arrogant. That was what their teacher had told them. They were all strong in their own way. They worked well together. There was no need to try to show each other up. That only caused discontent in the group. Sasuke had agreed to that- hell, even Naruto had grudgingly agreed. They might tease about making each other look bad, but they always worked together in the end.
    Which meant- unless Sasuke was for some ungodly reason feeling insecure in his abilities -he was lying.
    Sasuke seemed to sense his lover's mood, and came to an abrupt halt. He reached up and dug his fingers into golden hair, dragging Naruto closer. He brought his face right up to Naruto's, lips brushing his just barely as he murmured, "Quit sulking."
    It was an old trick Sasuke had figured out awhile ago to distract his short-tempered lover, but Naruto was in no mood for it tonight. He pulled back just enough to glare into his partner's eyes. "Stop it."

    Sasuke studied the shorter boy's face solemnly for a moment, saw the seriousness in it, and released him calmly. He turned and began walking again. Naruto hurried to catch up.
    "Why are you lying to me?" he blurted out.
    Sasuke's mouth was a thin line, his eyes narrowed slightly- it was a sign of his dark temper, but Naruto wasn't about to drop it now. "I'm not lying," he growled.
    "We never train alone," Naruto snapped, almost jogging to keep up with the other's longer stride. "Will you just tell me already? You never used to do that before- leave me there, I mean. Are you mad about something? Just say it. Geez."
    "You say enough for the both of us," Sasuke pointed out coldly.
    Naruto blinked, then scowled automatically to hide the hurt. "You're an asshole," he spat. Turning on his heel, he cut across the grass on another route home, hunching his shoulders against the cold. Sasuke didn't follow him.

what bugs me
is that you believe what you're saying
what bothers me
is that you don't know how you feel
what scares me
is that while you're telling me stories
you actually
believe that they are real

    God damn it. Naruto bit his lip hard and picked up the pace. Why can't he just tell me?? How can he lie with such a straight face?
    He wasn't training alone. One of those mornings when he had woken up alone in a cold bed, he'd called Sasuke's house, and he had been there. So either he'd trained for a very short amount of time, or...
    He was lying his ass off.
    And lately, their sex life hadn't been exactly up to par. Sasuke didn't even stay over as often as he used to.
    With a silly grin Naruto remembered the last time they'd had some good 'exercise'... before all of this secrecy on Sasuke's part had started to wear down their relationship.

    They hit the bed still fumbling with clothes, gasping for breath between kisses. Naruto muttered curses as he struggled to get out of his jacket, and Sasuke smirked, pinning him beneath him. "Snared, kitsune?"(1) he breathed.
    "Jackass," Naruto shot back, panting as he wriggled in a vain attempt to free himself. "Oi- I wanna be top-- mmph!"
    Hands slipped under the jacket and carressed his skin with deft familiarity, and Naruto groaned into his lover's mouth, arching into the touch. He wasn't cold anymore- he was burning up. "Off," he managed to breathe when he could get his mouth free. Sasuke complied, tugging the jacket up over Naruto's head and tossing it carelessly aside before leaning in to latch onto the blond's neck with a willing mouth.
    "Haa-!" Naruto reached up, burying his fingers in dark hair and throwing back his head, exposing more skin. He lifted his hips in a silent plea, and Sasuke ground against him, forcing a moan from the shorter ninja....

    An impassive voice interrupted his reminicing. "You're going to run into a tree if you keep walking around grinning like an idiot and staring off into space."
    Naruto came to a halt, looking around wildly. A shadow shifted under a nearby oak, a hand waving in casual greeting. "Yo."
    "Shikamaru." Naruto blinked in surprise, then headed over towards his friend. "What are you doing out here so late?" He stood over the seated boy, smirking. "Ino kick you out again?"
    The other ninja flipped him off calmly, chewing on a grass stem. "Whatever, snotface. She's just PMSing."
    Naruto sat down heavily beside him, sighing loudly. "Geez, did you two get in another fight?"
    Shikamaru offered a mild scowl to the foliage above. "She'll get over it. She always does."
    Naruto gave him a Look. He knew exactly what the biggest problem in the relationship between the two of them was. "Yeah, she'll get over it," he snorted. "Until the next time she's horny."
    Shikamuru sputtered, spitting out his grass and glaring heatedly at his friend. "Teme! Shut up! Don't talk about things you don't understa-"
    "Oh, please." Naruto rolled his eyes, leaning back on his hands. "Everyone knows you two fight so much cuz you won't put out."
    "P-p-put out?" the other boy repeated, flushing. Naruto laughed wickedly at having embarrassed his friend. Shikamaru's face darkened. "What do you mean 'everyone knows'?" he demanded quietly.
    "Well.. yanno..." Naruto scratched his head, suddenly uncomfortable. "Ino, uh.. well, she blabs everything to Sakura-chan. You know how girls are."
    "And Sakura's been telling everyone the shit Ino tells her?" Shikamaru's face paled.
    "Oh- no," Naruto corrected himself quickly. "Sakura-chan can keep a secret. It's just.. Sakura's not the only girl Ino blabs to. I guess some of her other little friends can't keep their mouths shut." He pat his friend's shoulder in sympathy. "Sorry, bud. Your girlfriend's got a big mouth."
    Shikamaru glared at the ground.
    Naruto leaned a little closer, waggling his brows and grinning encouragingly. "So?"
    "So what?"
    "So... is it true? You won't sleep with her?" He ducked just in time to avoid his friend's swinging fist.
    "Idiot!" the other boy snarled.
    "C'mon~" he wheedled. "I'm not gonna tell anyone!"
    "Bullshit," Shikamaru said bluntly. "You can't keep your mouth shut either."
    Naruto spread his arms wide and tried to look innocent. "Me?? Besides, smartass, who am I gonna tell? No one listens to me."
    Naruto's grin slipped from his face, and he lowered his arms. "Yeah right. Sasuke just tunes me out whenever I open my mouth anyway."
    Shikamaru squinted at him in the darkness. "What's with you two lately, anyway? For the past month or so you've been acting weird around each other. Uptight and shit."
    Naruto suddenly became very interested in the ground between his legs, studying the grass intensely. "I dunno," he muttered, almost too quietly to hear. "He's the one acting all weird. Disappearin' and acting like a cold bastard. And he's lying to me about something. I just don't know what." He snapped his mouth shut so quickly he almost bit his tongue. What in the hell was he thinking, whining about his lover like some stupid little girl? Shikamaru didn't want to hear this shit. He grasped frantically at straws for a change in conversation.
    Before he could blurt out the first ridiculous thing to pop in his head, Shikamaru spoke solemnly. "Sasuke's always been a cold bastard, Naruto," he said bluntly. "You should know that better than anyone. I hate to say it, but he was most likely involved with you just for.. well, the sex." He shifted uncomfortably. "I mean, he always looked down on you and called you an idiot."
    Naruto stiffened slightly, glaring at the unoffending grass. "So you're saying basically all I'm good for is a lay, and an idiot like me shouldn't expect anything else?" he snapped.
    Shikamaru blinked, taken off guard. "What? That's not what I said.." he started defensively.
    "Never mind," Naruto cut him off, getting to his feet abruptly. "Forget I brought it up. I know it makes you uncomfortable, anyway."
    "That's not what I'm trying to say," Shikamaru said angrily, jumping to his feet and glaring at his friend. "It's..." he hesitated.
    "It's what?" Naruto growled.
    "Never mind," the other boy muttered, looking away with a disgusted scowl. "It's none of my business. You can figure it out for yourself."
    "Whoa, wait a minute," Naruto protested, nabbing his friend's arm as the ninja started to walk off. "Figure what out? Is there something you're not telling me?"
    Shikamaru shook him off irritably. "I said figure it out yourself," he snapped. "He's sure to slip up eventually." He looked Naruto in the eye suddenly, face dead serious. "Just remember, Naruto, you asked for it, getting involved with a cold fish like that." He turned and strode off. Naruto called him back, to no avail.
    He stood fuming and clenching his fists as he glared in the direction the other boy had gone. "Figure WHAT out?" he shouted to the sky in frustration.
    Did Shikamaru know something he didn't?
    Something about why Sasuke was acting so strange?
    Muttering to himself, he headed home. Tomorrow he would corner Ino and see if she knew anything. Surely Shikamaru confided in his own girlfriend.


    Ino placed her hands on her hips, cocking her head at Naruto. She offered him an incredulous look. "You think Shikamaru tells me what's on his mind?" She snorted. "Hah! He doesn't tell anyone else the shit that goes through his head, why would he tell me?" Her voice was tinged with bitterness.
    Sakura gave her friend a sympathetic look from where she was seated beside Naruto.
    Naruto groaned, dropping his head onto the low table. He'd cornered the other girl in his favorite ramen shop as soon as he'd woken up, and asked her about Shikamaru-- or more specifically, if he'd mentioned anything about Sasuke lately. No luck there. Evidently the introverted ninja was as allusive with his girl as he was with everyone else.
    "He never tells me anything," Ino lamented, getting her "oh woe is me" expression as she rounded on Sakura. Naruto twitched, trying to interrupt hastily, but she bulled on. "He's your friend," she shot towards Naruto almost accusingly. "You need to find out what the hell's up with that boy. I've never seen a teenage boy that was so... unhorny. I mean god, it's like he's terrified of the idea of sex or something. I don't know if he's just afraid his parents will find out, if he's shy, or if it's just me, but.."
    This had been a bad idea, Naruto decided firmly as he tried to tune the other girl out and shovel ramen into his mouth as fast as he could. He was going to have to think of an escape plan soon before he choked himself with his own chopsticks just to get himself out of listening to Ino's pity party. How Sakura could sit there and listen to the same whiney BS day after day was beyond comprehension. She deserved a freaking medal of honor or something.
    Naruto slurpped up the last of his noodles and interrupted Ino's rant rudely. "Where is Shikamaru, anyway?" he demanded. "Is he around?" It was time to play dirty.
    Ino glared at him indignantly, huffing a little before gesturing vaguely. "He wandered off again," she said irritably. "Doing god knows what. He'll disappear all the time without telling me where he's going-- and I know he's not studying. The boy may be some kind of genius, but you could never tell from his shitty grades. I dunno... try the lake. I caught him there once, napping."
    "OkayThanksBye!" Naruto scrambled from the bench, tossing his money on the table and hurrying off before she could think of anything else to say to him.
    "And tell him he's supposed to come over to my house for dinner," she shouted after him.
    "Yeah yeah," he called impatiently, dashing off in the direction of the lake.
    Ino shook her head before seating herself beside her childhood friend. "That dolt. Anyway, speaking of boy trouble..." she arched a brow at the pink haired girl beside her. "Why haven't you made a move on Sasuke-kun? I can't believe he's still single!"
    Sakura offered her friend a watery smile, taking a long sip of her tea to stall. How could she possibly tell the village gossip the secret Naruto had entrusted her with? Hell, she hadn't taken it too well herself. To think that Sasuke and Naruto were a couple..! It boggled the mind. She'd thrown a fit, of course. She hadn't wanted to believe him. But that was then, this was now. She knew by now she'd never have a chance with the enigmatic Uchiha ninja. She'd accepted it and moved on. Her main concern now was the coldness that seemed to be developing between her two teammates. Something was wrong, but Naruto was too proud to confide in her, and Sasuke sure as hell wasn't about to say anything. He'd been pissed that Naruto had told her in the first place, almost six months ago. She heaved a quiet sigh into her cup. Hopefully the two of them would be able to work things out. She didn't like seeing her normally upbeat blond friend so moody.
    "Never mind Sasuke-kun," she said brightly. "Let's figure out how you can get Shikamaru to get over his shyness, or you'll never get that blockhead in the sack."
    Ino giggled, lowering her voice. "Oh, wait til you hear the things I've tried..."

    Shikamaru wasn't at the lake. Naruto searched high and low, until finally he spotted the lazy ninja dozing in the forest, propped against a log with his hands behind his head for a pillow. Naruto grinned evilly to himself.
    Shikamaru got a rude awakening when he abruptly found himself with a lap full of naked, grinning Naruto-- courtesy of Sexy no Jutsu.
    "GAHH!!" He shot to his feet, shoving the naked woman from his lap and blushing furiously. "NARUTO! You idiot!!"
    The blond woman jumped up and advanced, smirking and practically shoving her boobs in the mortified boy's face. "Ne~ 'Maru-chan," she crooned, "don't you like this?"
    "Damn it, Naruto!" Shikamaru yelled hoarsely, looking anywhere but at his friend as he stumbled backwards, face beet red. "Cut that out!"
    Naruto pounced, looping his- er, her -arms around the other teenager's neck. "Maybe now you'll talk, hmmmm?"
    "Get off!!"
    Naruto began a relentless chant, clinging like a leech. "Tell me tell me tell me tell me tell-"
    "What the hell are you doing?"
    The two friends froze at the icy voice. Naruto sweatdropped, glancing over her shoulder.
    Sasuke had materialized out of nowhere, and was standing by a tree, glaring daggers at them. Naruto hastily released his friend, and in a puff of smoke became himself again. "Sasuke," he stammered, "when did you-"
    The boy's narrowed eyes flicked from his lover to Shikamaru. Giving a snort of annoyance, he turned on his heel and stalked off.
    "Ah- matte!" Naruto ran to catch up.
    Poor Shikamaru stood rooted to the spot, still a little shellshocked and completely confused.

    "Oi, Sasuke!" Naruto yelled as he chased his dark haired lover. "Hang on a minute, damn it! It wasn't what it looked like-"
    Sasuke rounded on him so fast he almost stumbled to avoid a collision. "What do you think it looked like, dobe?" he snapped. "Don't flatter yourself. Shikamaru's straight as a board. What the hell is wrong with you, acting like an idiot where anyone can see you?"
    Naruto dredged up a watered down version of his annoyed scowl. "Like anyone but us comes in here. Anyway, what's your problem? 'Don't flatter yourself'? Ass!"
    Sasuke rolled his eyes and began walking away again. Naruto jogged after him.
    "Oi! I'm talking to you! I want to know what's been going on with you lately."
    Sasuke made a noise of disgust. "Not this again. You nag like a woman."
    "Take that back!" Naruto hollered indignantly. "You jackass!"
    Sasuke turned around again, and this time Naruto ran slap-bang into him and fell on his ass. "Ow!"
    "Quit following me," Sasuke bit out. "I'm busy."
    Naruto's temper flared. "Doing what?" he demanded hotly, scrambling to his feet. "More 'practice'?"
    "Yes," the other snapped. "Now mind your own business."
    "Fine," Naruto snarled, matching him glare for glare. "Go jump in a lake for all I care, you prick." He turned his back on the silent boy and raced off in the opposite direction.
    He hadn't gotten very far into the forest before he ran into someone for the second time. "God dammit!!" he howled as he landed flat on his back. "Can't you people watch where you're going??"
    Shikamaru pushed himself to his feet from where he'd fallen in the collision. "You're the one running around like a chicken with its head cut off," he grumbled. "What the hell was that all about, you idiot? The Sexy no Jutsu thing."
    Naruto made a face at him, sitting cross legged on the grass and propping his hands on his knees. "You know what's going on with Sasuke, don't you? Spill!"
    Shikamaru frowned down at him. "Turning into a chick isn't going to get you answers, dumbass. Anyway, I said you can figure it out yourself, and I meant it. You want the village gossip, go to Ino."
    "But you brought it up!"
    "Barely. Just drop it, would ya?"
    "Would Sakura-chan know?" Naruto asked quickly.
    His friend gave an indifferent shrug. "I dunno."
    Naruto leapt to his feet lithely. "I'm gonna ask her. Since someone won't help a guy out, and Sasuke sure as hell won't talk."
    Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "So go ask her. Like I care."
    "I will," Naruto sniffed airily, starting to march off.
    Shikamaru muttered something under his breath and snagged the back of his coat. "Wait. Naruto, this is really something you should find out for yourself. Gossip and rumors aren't the way you decide things."
    Naruto pulled free. "Shut up, Shikamaru. Either tell me or don't tell me, but either way, I'm going to find someone who knows."
    Shikamaru looked at him steadily. "Suit yourself. Just don't come bitching to me if this blows up in your face because you jumped the gun. Don't say I didn't warn you."
    "What is that supposed to mean?" Naruto demanded in exasperation.
    Shikamaru gave a careless shrug and strolled off with his hands in his pockets.
    "Some friend you are," Naruto yelled after him. Fuming, he stomped off to get his answers.


(1) *cough* corny fic reference, anyone? lol No, this is not a sequel to "To Snare a Kitsune" o_o;

Author's Notes: Ta-dah~ ^_^ I wrote "To Snare a Kitsune"- my first Naruto fic -prob'ly about a year or two ago, and was surprised at how many ppl liked it.. and how many ppl asked for another Naruto fic. I've been meaning to do one for a long time, but never got inspiration for a storyline. Then one day I was looking for lyrics for a GW fic, ran across these ones and BING! ^_^; Naruto started jumping up and down on my muses. o_o;
This one's obviously more angsty than the last Naruto fic, but I thought it was an interesting darker look on their relationship. I can see the two of them having spats and fights throughout a relationship, just as they do as ordinary teammates. Their personalities just clash too much. I see them as a hot couple- but one with some internal problems. Anywho, things are gonna get kinda weird eventually, but don't flame me. ^.^; Blame my angst muse! *points accusingly in her direction* She's been neglected far too long, and is coming out with a vengeance lately. @__@ Run away run away~


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