Written for Kuu-ish.
red and gray…by Taes
I close the gate behind me, listening for the small thud to tell me it’s all the way done. The fence shakes
a little, like it’s about to fall. The wooden structure dominates the world’s view of the Uchiha dwelling. Little
do they know, it’s more to keep us in than others out.
I push my shoulders up, rolling them out beneath a too big jacket…his coat, given to a scowling, protesting
me after he insisted the fall weather to be dangerous to my health.
I scowl at the cement under my feet, and think to the ground that it’s perfectly fine to go without
the blazer-like, red overcoat.
“Sasuke.” The voice is low, but not without emotion. Not cold like a snake’s
My eyes confirm what my ears signaled; Hyuuga Neji stands before me in regal silence. I offer a chill, arrogant smirk to
the other boy—though indeed he’s my senpai, a third year high school student to my second.
The Hyuuga-bastard doesn’t change countenance. “Wipe your face, Uchiha.”
I stare at him, aggravated now. “What the fu—”
Without turning pale, icy eyes from me, the guy pulls a navy-blue handkerchief from his train-pass envelope. The plastic
makes a small klp sound as the cloth slides out, like a frigid kiss. Hyuuga takes a few steps forward, and with an
air of unending patience, he pushes the cloth around my mouth, my cheeks, my forehead.
“You should have cleaned up, before coming out.” The boy says simply.
I can feel an angry blush setting in, just below my furious, twitching eyes. “Fuck you, asshole!” I
mutter, taking a few steps backwards. “What the hell are you talk—”
I stop, not wanting to finish. I know exactly what kind of cleanup he’s talking about, exactly why
he started at my swollen, aching
and ended with the top of my sweat-bathed, throbbing face…my eyes widen, my breathing stills. Unbidden, the next
words come from a dirty, too-well used hole. “Ha…how did—?”
His knowing eyes make me feel like a damn elementary student. I look away hastily.
“Get the hell off my property!” I hiss, shoving my hands into Brother’s too big jacket.
My fingers are cold.
The jacket won’t help, I can tell, but I keep it anyway. I turn around, ready retreat into my towering, ominous old
Hyuuga allows his pale eyes to travel down my form. “Going back?” he asks, condescending and disappointed.
I know those tones too well.
I nod, briefly, and turn composed eyes back to the older kid. “It’s Saturday. I don’t need to
attend lessons when they’re all—”
Neji takes my hand, pulls back the old jacket to reveal—as he saw, dammit—our school uniform. His eyes
turn down to the matching black pants and tell-tale travel shoes. “I see.” he murmurs, a hellish version of his
usual, arrogant self.
I turn around, ready to start a brawl then and there. “Senpai,” senior, “I don’t know what
the fuck you’re doing here,” I begin, moving smoothly into a solid defense position, “but you’re going
to leave.” I smirk, tilting my head to the gray sky.
“Right—” I say,
“now.” His voice joins mine at the last moment, and as I begin a running attack, he bends down. His long, black
hair swings upward in strange reminiscence of a blackbird. His white hand—so like mine—flies back to meet mine,
successfully pinning my wrist to my stomach.
“Stop.” He commands.
I laugh, slowly, brokenly, letting my loose amusement spiral into the heavens. I’m too tired, anyway…too tired
for this crap.
When I open my eyes and senses, I find I’ve fallen to the ground. My legs are too close together, my arms wide apart
to keep my head facing the ash-washed horizon.
It must have been raining…there are cold streaks on my face.
Not caused by too-long pent frustration. Not the result of a lifetime of miserable performance—
“—never matching up, wouldn’t you say?” that low, smooth voice asks.
I stare. “What—” heated again. Ready to throttle the pretentious bastard. “—did you—”
“The weather.” Neji offers me a hand. “It’s never matching my mood.”
I snort, thinking it does a hell of a job at mimicking mine. But I sure as anything won’t tell him that.
I take the hand.
Neji smiles tightly. His eyes offer no readable emotion.
Without changing face, I pull on the proffered hand, forcing my senior to fall face forward—
—as expected, he lands in a perfect spin, a twist of arms and beautiful form. Like the wind. Like a crane, sweeping
icy water with angelic, broad wings and a graceful, slender neck. He would have made a better dancer, a performer for
the eye, not a fighter…his hands have better uses than pulling sweet blood from unwitting fools.
I stand, and straighten the jacket. “I’m not weak, Neji.” Use of a senior’s first name is
considered impolite in most circles.
Like I give a damn.
Ghostlike and beautiful, the bastard comes to his feet. “I know.” Standing again, just behind me, speaking
into my ear. As though he would impart words of wisdom this way, as others spread bright, scarlet paint across barren walls.
“So you shouldn’t allow such…inappropriate sexual advances on your person.”
His voice is light. His meaning, otherwise.
My eyes narrow to shadowy slits. A mask of fury covers me, sealing off my terrible eyes—a family gift—and spreading
the darkness. “Are you telling me to—”
Cool laughter. Not cold. “—‘betray’ your family?” the quirky smile suits him far better than
a stoic expression of indifference. “Of course I am.”
His laughter is like rain.
When he continues, I am hardly surprised. “What else would you expect from me?” he smirks, the perfect
I find myself laughing in the chill air. A broken marionette, spinning in a storm’s harsh and ragged winds.
Neji puts a hand on my shoulder, a quiet and bemused presence. A child, come to rescue the old toy.
My fingers are still cold.
“Don’t touch me.” My voice is stiff, something of a coarse whisper…like a spider’s legs dragging
Neji merely smiles, a quiet waif beside me. When he walks down the narrow street, I look after him dumbly. He pauses expectantly,
an elegant eyebrow raised. He looks like a porcelain doll.
With a sigh, I follow.
We walk in silence, shoulder to shoulder at times, a good step between us at others. He leads, marking the way with quick,
graceful steps and sharp looks of ice. I walk in his shadow, alone and not caring…
When we stop, it’s at a small building. The place is tucked between a used-bicycle shop and a prosperous café…my
eyes skim the window paint. The small, humble sign promises warm, fast food with a taste of home-cooking. I suspect this to
be true, seeing the cook and waitress is a middle-aged lady.
She’s plump and friendly. The kitchen-smells follow her like clouds of fragrance…
Neji does the talking. At my indifferent stare, he orders for the both of us. Omuraisu, an omelet filled with vegetables,
fried rice and seasoned with ketchup.
I smile. It’s not a meal either of us would enjoy at our homes…the two great clans of Konoha-city are
too steeped in tradition to allow for such a simple, cheap meal…
Neji mirrors my expression. “So.” He chuckles. “As the second years’ best student,” he leans
forward, “what have you got to say for yourself?” his tone is teasing, his eyes serious.
I could hit the fuck.
“Listen,” I cock my head, looking down on him with half-lidded eyes. I lick my lips lightly, and meet him in
the middle. “You want a piece of me?” I laugh to myself, letting my shoulders roll with the easy motion. “or
are you here for purely” rolling my neck brings long, black hair over my face. The screen of thread covers half my smirking
face, and tranquil eyes speak silent oaths of sensual, privileged
I sigh, slowly, “innocent, chivalrous reasons?”
Neji leans backwards, putting some space between us. His eyes offer no ready reaction, but I can read the tension in his
My eyes travel down his well-honed body. I note the subtle bulge of his groin, and smirk triumphantly. “You—”
“—clearly want something, hmm?” a shadow lacking the good mirth of friends, the condemning wrath of enemies,
and without the coercive glance of family.
He stole the words from my mouth.
In that instant of surprise, I want for a hot cup of green tea…boiled enough to rip soiled tissue from my tongue
and leave me blissfully clean…
My eyes flutter, and I breathe deep. The fragrance, too, would purify me.
I can’t let my eyes close.
Neji swallows, and with effort, he composes himself. “This is not always the case.” His voice is slow, easy
coming and full. Like the wind in the trees.
I snort, dismissive. “Indeed.” I laugh mirthlessly, my eyes too wide, too bright.
I blink away painful tears in my eyes, trapped because of the moisture-spawning dust that’s touched the orbs. I snarl
in frustration, and I rise.
I head for the door, ready to make my exit—
Neji’s warm hand on my cheek stops me. “You need only listen, Sasuke.” He murmurs, a quiet breeze
in the night.
I turn around, and sweetly, gently plant a kiss on his cold, soft lips.
He is rigid with surprise.
Smirking now, I wipe away the taste of me with a rough tongue, trailing my putrid mouth down his delicate white cheek and
stopping at his ear. I scrape fine teeth against the tender skin, tugging and wetting and softly shifting my weight onto him,
swinging us back and forth—
—Brother’s jacket fallen down to my forearms and bunched loosely around my small shoulders—
—revealing my white hands.
Neji’s breathing is perfectly even. Perfectly calm and unrushed. His body is not in the least bit rigid; he is unexposed
and clear of conscious.
I pull away, frustrated. “Fuck you.” I growl, and he pulls me back to the table, a bright light in the
The fucking bastard.
Neji smiles, a sculpture of snow in a blizzard’s furious, unrelenting winds. He will surely erode away, a forgotten
piece of art after a few days. But he speaks, and I will remember for him. “No one’s as susceptible to
your…charms…as you think they are, Sasuke.”
I turn my head, trying to keep the image of that sweet, strong expression locked in my mind’s eye.
“We’re not all about sex.”
After a few minutes of dead weight and nothingness, the old woman comes back. She totes a tray of two perfect, crisp and
yellow-white omelets bearing finely chopped bamboo shoots at the side.
Her voice is flustered, a little wavering when she speaks. There is no doubt; she’s heard our words and seen our
actions. “Ahh, excuse me for the wait!” she places the dishes before us. “Please, enjoy!”
I keep my eyes trained ahead, my hands steepled across my swollen mouth…
At Hyuuga’s questioning glance, the old woman titters, “Oh, please try the bamboo shoots…they were a
gift from next door; we’ve all got too many…” and away she goes, not wanting to stay anywhere near the two
I snort, folding my arms around me.
I want this all to be over.
I reach for a pair of wooden chopsticks, despite Neji shaking his head. If there ever was a black crane…he is it…his
hair shimmers and sighs with the gentle, forceful movement.
I shake the thought from me. He’s still smiling, the asshole…
Neji doesn’t appear to notice my distaste. “The middle’s not very solid; it’d be better to eat
with the spoon.” He lifts the utensil gracefully, and his lips—finally—tilt downward. “Try
it,” he urges, pale lips grown pink with the unaccustomed heat.
I wonder how much of that is my doing. The boy moves with an easy elegance, and if I were unaware of his age, I would have
expected centuries of ease and practice from such a graceful display. All the same, I smear the ketchup into an even layer.
My fingers are light.
Neji clears is throat, a step away from his usual aloof, uncaring manner. “Tell me it didn’t happen.”
He challenges, greedy for a stab at one of the most prominent clans in our city. For a moment, I see him as a smooth viper,
all-too willing to sink his fangs into my yet bleeding throat.
I snarl at the thought, stab my chopsticks into the omelet, and cut the hot and steaming dish into chunks. There is nothing
beautiful about my hands. The job is done all too soon, all too mechanically. “Nothing happened.”
His passionless eyes sweep over my motionless, rotting face. He scoffs, quiet and unbelieving. …he’s got that
handkerchief in hand again, and he’s folding it neatly on the table.
Proof, his silken hands whisper.
My eyes twitch as I lift a piece of egg to my mouth. It’s a burst of flavor on my tongue, warm and filling and far
I swallow with difficulty, feeling the soft, hard pulse of—
—heat, rough and—
—I push the plate away.
My skin must be peeling from the bone…I can almost feel the sagging weight, almost taste the rot of my cheeks. I
glower. “Fuck, it’s nothing!” I snarl, upset and disturbed and wanting out of my fucking skin. “Everyone
Locked on me.
A statue of cold and unfeeling ice.
Neji’s voice is slow, haunting and smooth. “It’s your fate, then, to be crushed beneath your brother’s
every whim?” cold and damning and infuriatingly right.
My voice is like a stone dagger. It falls flat no matter how I turn the words, poisoning perfect blood instead of a quick,
honorable end. “He didn’t mean to…to hu—” I stop. I clear my throat, wanting the decay
to fade away. I want to hit this unwelcome bringer of pain. To hit him in the face.
“It’s not.” I mumble, and the skin begins to fall away.
“His fault?” the icy angel persists.
Such enticing words.
I snort, turning my face from him.
“Fuck you.” I repeat, eying the delicious smelling omelet before me…I wonder if it would feel better
on my tongue…if I soaked it in ketchup.
I reach for the bottle.
Neji’s frozen eyes follow me. “So,” he says. His plate is half finished. “You’re content
his voice has engulfed the entire room, like shadow
“like a trapped, helpless bird…”
I smile. “In a fucking, gilded cage.” I whisper, my eyes sharp. There is no beauty left about me. I
am a shell, an unbearable, forgotten corpse.
I know he sees my vision.
He’s got gold bars in front of him, too…
I open the top, staring at the dark red sauce. I begin to smother the plate. Carefully, Precisely. What’s left of
my stomach is numb.
It’s like my eyes aren’t connected at all…everything I see is swallowed by the fucking
My stomach hurts. “What the fuck am I supposed to do, huh?” I demand.
Neji shrugs languidly.
“Bastard…” I mutter, clutching the soft wooden chopsticks between my fingers.
I look up.
Neji offers a tiny smile, as if he sees not at all.
I laugh. The emotionless action sends my head tilting back at an impossible degree. I wonder, vaguely, what it will feel
I don’t fucking care. My stomach turns.
I turn the thoughts over in my mouth. “What the fuck do I have to lose?” I ponder this for a few moments, but
nothing comes to mind.
Neji rolls his shoulders back again, and I bend over the table. I want to be held, to hurt and be hurt, maimed and broken
until I can finally stop. I claim his lips for mine and taste the flavors on his tongue…
…when I lean back into my chair, I’m laughing again. “Show me.” I demand, quiet. Amused.
I blink, and I’m whole again. The sense of decay is secluded to my tongue alone. Like before.
Neji comes closer now, his fucking morals forgotten as he takes my face between two warm hands. For a while, we pull, sucking
The noise is like a gentle, sweet chant to my ears, urging me to press more forcefully into succulent lips. We trade tongues,
enjoying the hot, swirling and jumbled feeling of fire and lust.
At last, I pull away. Tired, but not wanting to show. Perturbed, but not ready to say. “I…think maybe,”
I begin, smiling slowly, trying to be a doll to his frozen, statuette-like beauty.
“…maybe…” I repeat, “we can both get something out of this.” I swallow once.
Neji’s relief is obvious. So he writes down a number on a brown paper napkin, watching me with eyes like water.
I’m not sure if I should be smiling.
I grin, vaguely, making promises with my eyes as I stand. I walk, silent, to the corner of the small restaurant, and slip
two coins into the pay phone there. When someone picks up on the other line, I take a deep breath.
“…I’d like to report…a, uh, a case of”
In my head, the pendulum swings...every action will fall back on me.
Wish this is the right decision.
When this is over, I know I’ll find warm lips ready and waiting to heat my cold, frigid fingers. Ready to keep my
body from crumbling to ash.
Until then, I’ll keep the chill,
hide beneath my jacket
My eyes close, gently.
All that’s left is to wait.