"Juugo. Calm down," Sasuke said firmly, gripping the panicking man's wrist. His light gray eyes turned in Sasuke's direction, swimming in and out of focus.
"Calm down, Juugo," Sasuke repeated, raising his voice slightly. He didn't understand why it wasn't working this time; he was counting on his ability to control these rages.
"Juugo," the black-haired teen said loudly, catching his team-mate's shaking chin in a stiff grip. He felt relief when pale eyes found their focus, and a look of slight embarrassment crossed Juugo's long-boned features before the larger man looked away.
He lowered his hand from Juugo's chin, and wrinkled his brows when a hand caught his wrist gently on the way down. He didn't fight it, didn't say anything; Juugo wasn't looking at him, but he still appeared too nervous for Sasuke's comfort.
"Karin. Take first watch," Sasuke said, not removing his eyes from Juugo. He ignored Karin's protests, Suigetsu's snicker.
The young leader of Team Hebi noticed that Juugo stayed close to him all night, and kept him in plain sight whenever circumstances required that there be more than a few feet between them. When they unrolled their blankets and settled in, Sasuke finally got tired of feeling those sad, pale eyes on him. It was getting more than a little unnerving.
"Go to sleep, Juugo," he said quietly.
Juugo went to sleep.
"I'll take over, Suigetsu. You go get some rest," Sasuke said, hiking up a modest-sized hill to their chosen lookout point. The Mist-nin stood from the rock where he had been lounging, and Sasuke took his place, resting his sword against his knee.
"What is it?" Sasuke asked, more than a little annoyed, when Suigetsu didn't leave. It had been a rough day, with Juugo losing control almost every time Karin and Suigetsu argued, and it was taking more effort to calm the big man each time. Just before they stopped for the night, Sasuke had had to basically catch him in a bear hug to keep him from rushing the bickering pair. When Juugo wasn't busy losing it, he occupied his time by staring at Sasuke with an odd, confused look on his face.
And now Suigetsu was staring, too.
"Well?" Sasuke asked when no answer was forthcoming.
"Heh," Suigetsu said quite unhelpfully, baring pointed teeth in a smirk. Sasuke scowled.
"I'm just trying to figure out what they see in you," Suigetsu clarified.
"Who?" Sasuke asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Karin and Juugo," the Mist-nin answered, his tone implying that it should have been obvious. "I mean, I'd fuck you, but I'm not gonna start following you around like a little puppy. Like they do."
Through that short speech, Sasuke's eyes got wider and wider. He wasn't even phased by Suigetsu's offhand admission, but...
Juugo... Juugo has a crush on me?
He blinked. It made sense. He didn't want it, but it made sense. He freed Juugo, he calmed Juugo, he was the only person who could help Juugo to have a somewhat normal existence. Savior may have been too strong a word, but -- there it was.
He wondered if Juugo had been in love with Kimimaro.
Sasuke eyed his team-mate uneasily.
"Don't say anything about this," the dark-haired teen ordered.
"I won't... for a price," Suigetsu rasped. Sasuke frowned as those bright eyes roamed over his body.
"You're kidding me," he said flatly, and Suigetsu laughed.
"You got me," Suigetsu grinned, adjusting the straps of his sword holster. "It was worth a shot, though. I don't remember the last time I got laid."
Sasuke snorted softly.
"Go to bed, Suigetsu. We're leaving in four hours."
It made sense, Sasuke thought again as they packed up camp and set out the next morning. If Juugo had a crush on him (and crush sounded so stupid, so childish, but he wasn't sure what else to call it) then that was only adding to his stress level. And when he panicked, Sasuke had to touch him to calm him, and that made Juugo even more uncomfortable - because he wanted it, and Sasuke showed no signs of returned interest.
Sasuke wondered if Juugo was a virgin. He had to quickly halt his train of thought to keep from blushing; Suigetsu seemed particularly alert this morning, and he really didn't feel like being teased.
Right now, Suigetsu was watching Karin with a nasty gleam in his eyes. He sighed inwardly; he'd have to do something about this.
He caught Suigetsu's arm when they started walking, and waited for the other two to get several yards away before speaking.
"Don't argue today. We need to cover more ground. We got behind yesterday," he said in a firm whisper.
"Yes, sir," Suigetsu acknowledged with a touch more sarcasm than necessary, but Sasuke was satisfied. He didn't need his team to revere him; he just needed them to follow his orders when it mattered.
Of course, by this point, both Karin and Juugo had turned to see what was taking Sasuke so long. Releasing a long-suffering sigh and ignoring Suigetsu's knowing grin, Sasuke started walking.
Juugo stayed much closer than he would have liked all day, 'accidentally' bumping him a few times when he stopped, and Sasuke had time to consider his team mate's complete lack of experience in the real world. This was the kind of thing he remembered from his early days at the academy.
He was positive Juugo was a virgin.
Sasuke did flush lightly this time at the unbidden mental image of the big man lubing himself up. He would have shaken his head to clear his mind of that image - of something he was sure had never happened before, so why was he thinking it? - but that would have caught someone's attention, and he didn't want any one of these three to see him flustered like this.
When they stopped for the day, Sasuke was very pleased with Suigetsu; the man hadn't provoked Karin enough to get Juugo started even once during their trek.
"Suigetsu, first watch," he said as they unloaded their supplies. "There was a tree about a quarter of a mile back, broken lower branch - "
"I saw it," Suigetsu said, refastening the sword holster that he had been in the process of removing. Sasuke nodded.
When the Mist-nin started to walk past Karin, Sasuke realized he had congratulated him too soon. With a toothy smile, Suigetsu planted a boot in Karin's back to send her sprawling in the dirt.
Sasuke fumed. They just couldn't go a day, could they? Predictably, Karin was on the attack immediately, and also predictably, before Sasuke could break them up, Juugo's curse seal was climbing his neck, spreading across his face.
"Juugo. Relax, Juugo," Sasuke said in a clear voice, reaching for the man's wrist. Juugo stood still, but Sasuke could tell he was straining - his fists clenched and unclenched, the muscles in his jaw stood out like walnuts, his eyes rolled wildly.
"Relax. Relax," Sasuke repeated, tightening his grip on that thick wrist. Karin and Suigetsu had stilled by this point, calling a temporary cease-fire as they always did during these episodes.
Sasuke was cut off by Juugo's agonized roar. He reached for Juugo's other arm. Now he could feel the heat radiating from Juugo's skin, the deep shudders that ran through his body as he tried to fight the transformation, the bloodlust.
After what Suigetsu had brought to his attention the night before, he was vaguely uncomfortable wrapping his arms around Juugo, but at this point, he didn't see much choice in the matter. His other two team-mates flanked him, each grabbing an arm as Juugo began shaking uncontrollably.
"Calm down, Juugo," he said in a tone as close to soothing as he could manage. He wrapped his arms tighter around his waist, pulling him close.
In their struggles, Juugo took a step backwards, catching his heel on a root that sent him tumbling, pulling his team-mates with him. Karin and Suigetsu landed fairly gracefully on either side of him, and Sasuke crashed down on his chest, not releasing his grip on Juugo's solid waist. The black-haired teen tensed and readied himself to deal with the surge of killing intent sure to follow after that jarring impact, but none came. Instead, Juugo raised his light gray eyes and looked around fuzzily.
"Damn, Juugo," Suigetsu said, brushing the tree bark and dirt from his pants. "Warn us next time, why don't you?"
Sasuke frowned at the Mist-nin and started to push himself up, trying not to show the awkwardness he felt at deciding where exactly to put his hands. He quickly found non-intimate handholds and levered himself to his feet. He looked Juugo over and was concerned by the look on the big man's face; he looked disoriented, and there was something else there that Sasuke didn't have time to think about. Especially not now, when Karin had a much more dangerous look on her face--
The kunoichi pointed an accusing fingertip at Suigetsu, but before she could speak, Sasuke raised his hands in an authoritative gesture for the two to stop.
"Suigetsu. First watch. Karin. Set up camp," he said in a commanding tone. Suigetsu tilted his head, grinned, and walked away. Karin stood with her hands on her hips, watching the pale haired man's retreating back until Sasuke prodded her into action with a firm, "Go."
After she stepped out of hearing distance, Sasuke crouched next to Juugo, who was still laying where he landed.
"Did you hit your head?" Sasuke asked, concerned at the fog still softening pale gray eyes.
"I think so," Juugo replied, pushing himself up on his elbows. Sasuke moved around behind the big man.
"Don't move any more," he instructed quietly.
Sure enough, dark red blood matted the flame-colored hair near the base of Juugo's skull. Sasuke parted through the sticky tufts, then focused his chakra in his hands.
Kabuto had been jealous with his healing techniques, but Orochimaru had ordered him to teach Sasuke the basics, at least. Now Sasuke used one of the more delicate techniques in his arsenal to knit together skin, blood vessels, and tiny cracks in the bone.
Juugo gasped as the healing chakra rushed into him. It felt like ice, pummeling against his skull, sinking into the roots of his teeth, freezing his eyeballs. He dug his fingers into the dirt at his sides and tried to relax.
Sasuke paused in his work to examine his progress, then brought his hands back up to Juugo's skull. At an odd urge, he opened his mouth, hesitated, and then went on anyway,
"I'm almost done, Juugo. It's almost over," he reassured, unsure why he felt the need to do so. He knew for a fact he wouldn't use this bedside manner with either of their other team-mates.
Juugo's shoulders relaxed visibly, and Sasuke resumed the healing jutsu. After about a minute, he cut off the chakra flow and reexamined the skin under that blood-matted hair.
Good... there was no more wound. Satisfied, Sasuke knee-walked to Juugo's side, where he peered into those pale gray eyes.
They were clear, focused... sad, lonely.
Sasuke tried not to frown as he stood, worked even harder not to frown when a large hand wrapped around his wrist.
"Wait," Juugo said, sitting up fully.
"What is it?" Sasuke asked, hiding his unease behind seeming cool indifference. Juugo's hand dwarfed his wrist, making him feel as he always did when he was made aware of the man's size. He felt small, he felt strangely young...
No, he wouldn't think like that. But it was hard not to when Juugo was watching him with confused, barely hidden need.
"It's... nothing," Juugo relented, dropping his eyes, releasing his loose grip on Sasuke's wrist. The teen felt oddly indecisive, unsure whether he should press his team-mate or let it go at that. They didn't need even more interpersonal problems in the group. He was saved the decision by the reappearance of Karin.
"Sasuke-kun," she called sweetly. "Come and eat dinner!"
Sasuke wasn't surprised to see Juugo's hulking form hiking up the hill later that night. He nodded a greeting, and the man took a seat at the foot of the rock where Sasuke was comfortably perched.
They sat in a companionable silence for a long time, and Sasuke was beginning to wonder if the other man just wanted his company when Juugo finally broke the silence.
"I loved Kimimaro," he admitted, without preface. "I loved him for a long time, but he couldn't feel the same about me... all his loyalty belonged to Orochimaru. And even in Sound, I was - I am - a freak. I know."
Sasuke listened quietly, twisting in his seat so he could see as much of Juugo's expression as the dim moonlight would allow.
"I miss him. I figured it out - that's why I feel so drawn to you."
Sasuke carefully regulated his heartbeat, trying not to read too much into what Juugo was saying.
"Part of it is because you remind me of him, so much. You're nothing like him... but you are. Your strength, the confidence you have in your power, the way you're able to help me."
They were silent for several more minutes, listening to the wind in the trees and the occasional hoot of an owl.
"I think..." Juugo started, raised his eyes to Sasuke, and went on. "I think you feel drawn to me, too, but I won't try to guess why."
It's because you're nothing like him, either - except that, sometimes, you are.
He didn't break Juugo's gaze, though he wanted to. He could tell the man was gathering his courage to ask for something, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was.
"I know it's - stupid - but..." Vertical lines formed between those strangely delicate eyebrows as Juugo trailed off, and he looked down at his hands. "I never kissed him. Never even tried. Can I kiss you, and just... pretend it's him? I think that might get it out of my system, and I can feel normal again. Well, normal for me, anyway..." Juugo finished weakly.
Sasuke swallowed silently. There it was, out in the open, and there was a slim chance that it could work, that it would actually do some good for Juugo. There was also a chance that it would make it worse.
"If it doesn't work?" Sasuke asked quietly.
"Then I'll figure something else out. I'll deal with it."
In spite of everything that could go wrong, Sasuke realized he didn't want to say no to this humble request. He had done far more, with people he liked far less. If there was a chance that this could put a stop to Juugo's escalating episodes, it was worth trying.
He stood and took a step toward the man sitting at his feet.
"Yes," he said softly. Juugo looked up at him, and instead of standing, reached for Sasuke's wrist and gently pulled him down.
Sasuke leaned awkwardly over Juugo's lap, ready to get this over with. He was uncomfortable to a degree that he hadn't expected, already. He balanced with his hands on Juugo's shoulders, and then those large, warm hands were cupping his face.
"Thank you," Juugo whispered, and then he pressed their mouths together. The kiss was soft and hesitant at first, with Juugo's hands completely still on Sasuke's cheeks. It was inexpert, clumsy, on Juugo's part, so Sasuke was surprised when the man's tongue lapped softly at his upper lip. He felt his face heat and he leaned into the kiss, caressing Juugo's tongue with his own, insisting to himself that he simply wanted to ensure he did this properly.
Juugo's hands slid down his jaw, respectfully caressed his bare throat, and he tightened his grip on those broad shoulders.
This felt good... this felt good, and if he closed his eyes, he could imagine it was someone else, too.
He kept his eyes open. Juugo held his shut tight as his hands smoothed their way down to Sasuke's exposed collarbones, and lower, still respectful, and reverent as hands can be when slipping inside an open shirt to touch, and feel, and pull a body closer.
Sasuke shifted, pulled off balance, and finally decided to steady himself on Juugo's legs rather than continue on in his swaying, ungraceful stance. He would stop the kiss soon, but in the meantime, he felt quite undignified in this wobbly crouch.
He swung his leg over Juugo's hip and lowered himself, and those long, warm fingers tightened on his ribs approvingly. He shifted to cement his balance, and his heart leapt up into his throat when he felt Juugo move, too, felt stony heat nudge his balls.
Juugo made a soft noise in his mouth and his hands tightened around Sasuke's waist, but he held himself thankfully still. Sasuke kept kissing and pretended he hadn't noticed how big Juugo had felt in that brief second, how hard he himself was getting in response, how strong the urge was to roll his pelvis down, to press himself snug against Juugo's crotch.
The breath feathering against his upper lip was quickening now, and those large hands were becoming more familiar, less respectful, calloused fingertips grazing over his nipples, thumbs tracing the center line of his stomach. Sasuke felt his hips tilt forward at that, felt his rigid length lightly brush the larger one underneath him again, and he held back the noise that tickled at his throat.
Juugo exhaled shakily, and his palms slid over Sasuke's chest, over his shoulders, smoothly coaxing the fabric of the open shirt back and down Sasuke's arms. The dark-haired young man passively allowed this; he dropped his hands to his sides so that the shirt would fall free and pool around his waist.
Those broad hands gently stroked up the skin of Sasuke's back, long fingers, wide palms splayed out almost covering the slender teen's entire back, and Sasuke stopped breathing for a few seconds. This re-emphasis of how much bigger Juugo was, how small he felt, was entirely too evocative.
Then those hands slid back down, hesitantly cupping the teen's bottom, and Sasuke kissed Juugo fiercely, dug his hands into the man's deltoids, welcomed the surge of arousal to chase away unwelcome sparks of memory.
Emboldened by this, those hands cupped, squeezed Sasuke's ass, pulling him closer. Both men groaned softly when their erections brushed together through layers of fabric. Juugo pulled Sasuke even tighter against his body, rumbled deep in his chest as he tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to thrust up against Sasuke's solid heat. Sasuke's weight on his thighs kept him from achieving any real movement, any real friction, but his hips twitched up regardless, out of reflex he never knew he had. He pulled his mouth away to lick and suck a wet path down Sasuke's jaw.
Sasuke kept his eyes open so he could keep that bright red hair in view, tilted his head back to feel those wet lips on his throat, and he wondered if this was how normal teenagers started having sex - teenagers that didn't have their lives shaken and destroyed at the age of seven, didn't willingly give up what innocence they had left at twelve, and didn't turn traitor less than a year later, only to find that layers of innocence run deep, but are oh-too-easily torn away.
This, though, this clumsy groping, blood racing, knowing he should stop right now but not wanting to-- it made him feel just... like... a normal person, for once. The way the heavy muscles in Juugo's thighs moved arrhythmically under him, the way his own thighs were starting to shiver, it felt new. Juugo's earnest and enthusiastic inexperience, hands shaking on his hips, made him almost feel like he had never done this before, either.
That... that was something he could pretend painlessly.
So - he didn't melt, Sasuke would never admit to melting - he relaxed into Juugo's touch, lifting his passive hands from solid shoulders and digging them into the spiky hair at the nape of that broad neck. He moaned softly, he spread and relaxed his legs so that he slid down Juugo's thighs to press their groins together.
He rocked his body forward, felt Juugo's deep groan vibrate through his throat, through his chest, adding heat to the fire building and pooling between his hipbones.
It wasn't quite enough, wasn't quite comfortable. He pulled one hand away from that thick red hair and reached down. Accompanied by another deep rumble against his throat, he carefully nudged Juugo's erection, stomach clenching at the solid weight of it, shifted it so that it was pointing straight up, straining against the fabric of loose pants.
Now he lowered himself again... oh, much, much better. Now he could flex his hips forward and feel that wonderfully long and thick cock rubbing against his entire length.
And much better, again - now that he had shown Juugo it was all right to touch, Juugo's hands slid down his outer thighs, up his inner thighs, aiming to slip underneath the excess fabric around his waist. Hung up on a heavy coil of the belt, Juugo grunted breathlessly and caught Sasuke's lips again, pressed his tongue into Sasuke's mouth.
Sasuke sucked gently on that probing tongue, reached down, and untied the rope. He parted the fabric, shedding belt and wrap to fall to the sides, and Juugo's hands continued their inward path as soon as his were out of the way.
They paused at his hips, long fingers spread out to feel the subtle movement of muscle as Sasuke rocked slowly up and down, and then thumbs crept inward, hesitantly stroking the skin just inside Sasuke's hipbones through his pants.
Sasuke twisted his tongue around Juugo's, heart racing at the anticipation of feeling just Juugo's thumbs on his cock. He pulled his hips back far enough to hint to the big man to go on, touch me, and those thumbs moved another inch, fingers still wrapped around the teen's hips, and brushed up either side of Sasuke's erection.
He looked at Juugo's face; that familiar face, usually either placid and calm, or twisted in madness, was now tight with need and flushed with arousal. He noticed that his eyes were still screwed shut. So Juugo was still pretending Sasuke was someone else... that was fine. Sasuke was pretending he was someone else, too - someone who hadn't already done all this before, who hadn't gone far past all of this years before he was truly ready.
Juugo moaned roughly and pushed his hips up to grind into Sasuke, gliding his shaking thumbs down the sides the teen's shaft to gently brush the soft swell of his balls. Knowing that Juugo was so aroused by such a simple touch set Sasuke's blood to boiling, sent bolts of heat straight to his groin. And immediately raised the question of just how aroused Juugo would become if Sasuke touched him.
He found out soon enough, after he snaked a hand through the tangle of arms and legs between their bodies to trace the shape of that thick, cloth-covered erection. Juugo shuddered and groaned, and his mouth fell away to rest, panting, against a pale shoulder as Sasuke used every considerable bit of dexterity he possessed to squeeze and rub that solid length.
It wasn't enough. There simply wasn't enough room between their bodies, not enough room to move. He withdrew his hand, then slowly picked himself up from Juugo's lap.
His team-mate's eyes finally opened, but Sasuke spoke before the other man could begin to question his movements.
"Come here," the teen said, holding a hand out as he sat on the ground and leaned back on one elbow. Juugo rose to his knees and crawled forward, his eyes flickering over Sasuke's face, down his chest, to his crotch. He settled over the smaller form, one leg between the teen's legs, one on the outside.
Sasuke leaned back with a hand on the nape of Juugo's neck, and the grass was cool and slightly damp on the bare skin of his back. His nipples hardened instantly, and gooseflesh pebbled all the pale skin of his torso. Juugo ran a broad, warm hand down his chest and stomach, eyes still open, still watching Sasuke's face as he reached lower to cup the teen's aching length again.
Sasuke moaned softly and reached between Juugo's thighs, now free to rub and squeeze and touch however he wanted.
The solid frame hovering over him shuddered when he pressed against the stony thickness between Juugo's spread legs, when he measured it with his fingers and palm, weighed it with a loosely cupped hand. Juugo continued exploring him and leaned down to continue their kiss.
Sasuke moaned quietly when Juugo flattened his palm against his arousal, pressing it hard between the warm plane of a hand and the tight skin of his lower belly. Fingers slid up to trace the shape of his head, and a thumb hooked around to pull it away from his body. Sasuke thrust his hips up when Juugo encircled his length, gave him a firm stroke through his pants. The teen's back arched up off the ground. So close, already so close...
He had never meant to go this far, but now that it seemed there was no turning back, it was only practical to pull his pants over his hips to keep them clean. And he was sure Juugo would appreciate not having a mess in his pants when this was over, as well...
Keeping his mouth steady on Juugo's, he slipped his hands down and untangled one leg from his own pants. The big man groaned when he reached out and slid the pants down over Juugo's hips, over his buttocks, pushed them down to mid-thigh.
Breathing heavily, Juugo looked down at the body spread out underneath him, long and pale, bare but for arm-guards, shoes, and pants twisted around one knee. The slim teen was visibly flushed even in this bare light, fully aroused and leaking in anticipation. White hands pulled Juugo down, and both men groaned quietly into the night when the warmth of their bodies came together. Their erections met, hard, silky skin slid close, and then closer as Juugo gripped Sasuke's hip and thrust, gasping at the friction.
"Oh God... Sasuke... " Juugo whispered, and then, as he pulled back to grind down against the teen again, he pressed their lips together once more.
Sasuke had never heard his name said quite like that before, urgent and breathless, but still tinged with a reverence that he would never, ever deserve. The time for pretending was long past. Juugo knew him, and he wanted him, and Sasuke couldn't keep up his harmless fantasy any longer, either. He couldn't help but think now, couldn't help but imagine how good it would feel if Juugo would just reach down and open him up, work that thick cock into his body... Juugo would be so gentle, so, so careful with him, and it would feel so good...
In the end, it was a relief when Juugo came with gasp muffled in the hollow of Sasuke's shoulder, after only a few more jerky thrusts. He lifted himself up on his arms to give Sasuke room when the teen reached between their bodies, and Sasuke quickly, quietly finished himself off under pale, watchful eyes, biting down on his lower lip to keep from crying out. They held that position, Sasuke's hand slowly drifting away from his softening cock, eyes locked in the shifting gloom.
"Better?" Sasuke asked when it seemed that Juugo wouldn't be the one to break the humid silence.
"Thank you," Juugo answered calmly, with a slight dip of his head. And then there was cleaning to do, and hanks of dew-wet grass were cold against cooling skin, and somehow sobering. Even as his mind cleared, though, Sasuke found that he didn't regret this, whether it accomplished anything, or not.
In the following days, both of them were pleased to see that Juugo's solution actually worked.
It worked every single time.
A/N: This was written before Juugo's eye-color was revealed, so please forgive the inaccuracy.