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Hiding In Plain Sight by suzieuchiha

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Story notes: Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of the affiliated characters or settings, they are the property of Masashi Kishimoto. I also do not own any of the amazing songs featured/mentioned they are the property of their respective artists (see below). No copyright infringement is intended and I do not profit in any way from this story.
Chapter notes: The prequel to Filling the Void.

A/N: This is the prequel of 'Filling The Void'. I was originally going to write this as a whole story but since I have other full length ones on the go I decided against it. Instead it will be a series of one-shots. I don't really consider this a songfic because the songs don't really have anything to do with the story, they are just there to show the influence music has on their lives.

Songs (in order of appearance): Epiphany - Staind, Patience - Guns N' Roses, T.N.T. - ACDC, Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

Key: Italics emphasis/lyrics. A load of bold zeros a break.
'Tap. Tap. Tap.' the sound of bored fingers tapping dutifully at a keyboard.

'Bang!' went Naruto's head as he dropped it on the keyboard.

He gave an exasperated groan and looked up to find the computer screen full of nonsense letters typed by his forehead. He sighed and erased them all. Behind him their teacher called for someone to read out their report and Naruto shifted to hide his measly few paragraphs. ICT wasn't his strong subject, he'd only chosen it to make up the hours on his timetable and earn his points for uni. His girlfriend, Sakura, had persuaded him that ICT was the most useful subject he could chose and had promised that she'd help him pass it. True she had so far stuck to her word but that didn't mean he found the lessons much easier. He sighed in relief as someone else was chosen to deliver their report.

Naruto couldn't wait for college to finish for the day and usually he'd being hopping on his motorbike and driving out of there so fast that he'd have teachers screaming after him. But not today, today he had something to attend to. So when his last lesson was over he said a nice long goodbye to his girlfriend before heading towards the art dept. on the other side of campus. He was meeting Sakura's best friend, Ino, to check out her new designs. She had offered to put her Photoshop skills to practice and draft up some new flyer designs calling auditions for a new vocalist. They had held auditions a while back for a voice for their band, Hiding In Plain Sight, and had found a pretty decent guy. He was older than them and could sing but after inappropriate remarks about the size of Naruto's penis and his last attempt to hit on Kiba they'd told him to get lost. So once again they were short a member. The band consisted of Shikamaru on bass, Kiba on the drums and Naruto on guitar. They were all very good at what they did but none of them 'did' vocals.

The art dept. was the most detached part of the college and Naruto had rarely visited it. The last time he had come this way he'd found several hippies lying on the grass outside smoking something that didn't smell like tobacco and painting on a huge canvas on the floor. But today it was deserted and Naruto let himself into the main building to look for Ino. He called out but no one answered and he began to wonder if she had forgotten; it wouldn't be the first time.

Then he heard a voice. A low voice; definitely not Ino. Male, smooth, deep and mellow...

Your words to me just a whisper
Your face is so unclear
I try to pay attention
Your words just disappear


Naruto stood stock still, trying to determine the direction of those words.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said


The voice came from down the corridor, it was low and almost distracted, as if the person didn't really register their own words.

So I speak to you in riddles
'Cause my words get in my way.
I smoke the whole thing to my head
And feel it wash away
'Cause I can't take anymore of this,
I wanna come apart,
or dig myself a little hole
Inside your precious heart


Naruto kept his footsteps as quiet as possible, so he wouldn't miss a word. He thought he recognised the strong voice.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said


He followed the voice to the furthest of the art studios and peered inside. Someone sat with their back to the door on a stool in front of a canvas. Naruto followed the others movements with his eyes as the canvas was painted with caring strokes.

I am nothing more than
A little boy inside
That cries out for attention,
But I always try to hide
'Cause I'll talk to you like children,
Though I don't know how I feel
But I know I'll do the right thing
If the right thing is in fear.


And now he saw that spiky black hair, he knew why he recognised the voice. He had listened to that same voice earlier today, in ICT giving his A-grade report. He had stolen a few of those brilliant points which that voice had made and had cheered himself with the fact that Sakura had beaten that perfect student.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said


"Sing for us," Naruto blurted out.

Sasuke jumped and his palette slipped from his grip landing paint-down on the floor with a 'splat!' He groaned at the mess and knocked his headphones off his head to hang around his neck. Sasuke turned a hostile glare on Naruto.

"Why are you here?" he asked coldly.

"I want you to sing for our band," said Naruto, in case Sasuke had missed the question.

He hadn't. "I don't sing."

"You just were!"

"In front of people," corrected Sasuke.

"You just sang in front of me and you were bloody good!" exclaimed Naruto enthusiastically.

"That wasn't intentional," said Sasuke through gritted teeth.

"Well next time it will be," declared Naruto. "You can come to practice and sing for the others. Shika finished a new song recently but it would sound a million times better in your voice!"

"I'm not singing," Sasuke reiterated stubbornly.

"You have to!" insisted Naruto, equally as stubborn.

"I don't have to do anything."

With that Sasuke turned away and began cleaning up the mess his fallen palette had made. For him the subject was closed but Naruto was, if anything, persistent.

"Look," began Naruto kneeling down on the floor next to Sasuke. "Just come and sing for the band at practice. Just for now, yeah? Come on, you're not committing to anything by doing that, I swear!" he bargained.

"No."

"Come on man, you can trust me," wheedled Naruto. "Pleeeease?"

"No."

Naruto kept up his pleading as Sasuke packed away his stuff and moved his canvas into storage. Then he vacated, as fast as possible. Sasuke headed for the back entrance to the college campus, near the art rooms, where his bike was chained to the railings.

"Do not even think about following me!" he ordered, jumping on his bike and riding away as fast as possible.

"Couldn't even if I wanted to," muttered Naruto as he watched Sasuke speed away.

Naruto had parked his motorbike on the other side of campus. Even if he legged it over there right now he had no idea which direction Sasuke lived in and he was pretty certain the Uchiha bastard would take a misleading route just in case he decided to follow. Sasuke was clever like that, too clever in Naruto's opinion. And now it turned out he had a brilliant voice too. Naruto sighed, some people had all the luck.

"And all the attitude," he muttered to make himself feel better.

When that didn't work he reminded himself that his girlfriend was better than Sasuke at ICT. Then again, Shikamaru had told him that Sasuke's real strength lay in Business Studies and that he was going to be applying to some top brass Business Management course at a university somewhere up country. Naruto rolled his eyes; no doubt he was going to become hugely rich and successful. People like that had no time for making music, they saw it as a waste of time. But really, with a voice like that, sitting in an office would be a waste of talent. Naruto had no doubt that he would make it big one day, Sakura had said she admired his 'unwavering confidence'. His uncle Jiraiya had called him a mad fool.

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Sasuke glanced over his shoulder, panting from his hurried getaway. There was no sign of pursuit so he slowed down a little, heaving a sigh of relief. He hated that someone had heard him singing. He never let anyone hear him sing, only his brother and his best friend had ever heard him sing and Sasuke wanted to keep it that way. But he had thought he was alone in the art studio after college hours. He hadn't even noticed he was really singing having been so absorbed in his work.

Sasuke didn't really understand why he hated people hearing him, he knew he could sing so that wasn't the problem. It was just that when he sung it seemed almost like a private moment of his and he didn't want anyone intruding on that, it was uncomfortable. Besides, no good came out of singing, it was a useless hobby. People who indulged such dreams as becoming 'famous' were foolish. Fame was fickle and fleeting unlike getting a good education and a 'real career'.

Itachi had a real career. He managed communications between the many offices of a multinational software firm. His brother could speak many different languages and was a smooth talker in every single one. But his job kept him away for long periods of time. So often was he out of the country that Sasuke thought of himself as 'living alone'.

Next year he was expected to go to Oto Uni on a business management course with high entry requirements that he was confident he could achieve. But he was reluctant. He had visited the university during the summer and, prestigious as it may be, he didn't fancy spending several years of his life there. In fact he had been holding off his application. He had prepared a long list of reasons why Konoha Uni was a better choice for him and planned to pledge his argument to Itachi on his brothers next home visit.

0000000000000000000

If Sasuke had been naive enough to think Naruto would just drop the idea of having him as their new vocalist, the relief was short lived. Next day Naruto asked him again. Then again the next day and the next and the next each time pledging new arguments for why Sasuke should put his 'gift' to good use. Sasuke was told that he was 'wasting himself', 'being selfish by not sharing his voice with the world', 'being a stubborn bastard' and 'missing the opportunity to play alongside amazing musicians'. And yet Sasuke was still determined not to sing.

At practice on Thursday Naruto had told the rest of the band as well as their self-proclaimed groupies, Ino and Sakura that he had found them a new vocalist. Everyone had been very excited though their optimism had been somewhat diminished by the news that this 'new vocalist' refused to sing for them. They had been doubtful of Naruto's ability to persuade him, not that this had dissuaded Naruto in the slightest. Naruto had assured them that he would succeed but had refused to name their soon-to-be vocalist saying happily that they'd 'just have to wait and see!'

"He's very mysterious you see, perfect for our band. He even matches the name; Hiding In Plain Sight, 'cause he was right there all along! I think Fate had a hand in this," Naruto had said with a bright grin.

"Well 'Fate' better pull her finger out and give him a push in the right direction," was Kiba's gruff reply, it annoyed him that Naruto wouldn't tell him who this mystery vocalist was and he thought Naruto might be withholding the information just to get on his nerves.

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On Friday morning Naruto decided it was time for a real attempt at changing Sasuke's mind. So that morning he swapped his motor bike for Kiba's bicycle. Instead of parking in the college car park, he left the bike outside one of the units in the industrial estate that ran along the back of the college grounds. He checked that Sasuke's bike was chained in it's usual place half hidden behind a large bush for extra security as he entered the campus via the back entrance.

For once Naruto was glad that his last lesson was ICT because it made it a lot easier to stalk Sasuke from the premises. Even Sasuke wasn't studious to stay after hours on a Friday. Naruto grinned from behind his bush as Sasuke glanced back uneasily.

'Sharp senses, that one,' Naruto thought to himself.

He ran forward as soon as Sasuke rode out of the gate to see which way he went. He was surprised to find that Sasuke was riding through the industrial estate, he had taken a different route the day when Naruto had first confronted him. But now Naruto saw that Sasuke's course was going to take him right past where Naruto's bike was parked. Naruto was now very glad he had left his distinctive orange motorbike at home today as it would surely have given him away. As it was Sasuke rode past Kiba's bike without sparing it a glance.

As soon as Sasuke had cycled away Naruto ran over to his temporary transport and took off after him. He followed Sasuke from as far away as he could without losing the boy so as not to draw attention. The Uchiha was heading away from the city centre and it puzzled him; as far as Naruto knew there were barely any people living this way. Naruto and Kiba lived in one of the cheaper parts of the city, since even with Naruto's uncle paying a portion of the rent, they couldn't afford anything more than that. The college itself was fairly central set at the base of a steep hill. Now Naruto followed Sasuke up that hill through the industrial estate and then turned left, away from the college.

For nearly half an hour Naruto followed Sasuke along the outskirts of the city. He was sure there must be a quicker way for Sasuke to get home than this and was beginning to suspect that Sasuke knew he was following and was leading him on a wild goose chase. Naruto swallowed a snigger at the thought of 'Sasuke the Wild Goose'. But just when he was about to give up, announce his presence and demand that Sasuke show him where he lived, they reached the estate. Konoha was a big city and Naruto had by no means visited every part of it. The place where he now found himself was one he had only ever heard of, it was the rich area. An estate set idyllically away from the unpleasant hustle of the city but still close enough to be reached easily by means of the residents many impressive cars. Every lawn was perfect and every window of every expansive home gleamed.

Sasuke rode up to one of these mansions and paused. Naruto watched from nearby as he pulled out his keys and pressed the button on one. The forbidding gates slid open on well-oiled hinges and Sasuke strode up the long driveway as though he owned the place. Which, Naruto reminded himself, he did. Sasuke pressed another button and the garage opened for him to store his bike. As he walked further into the garage the gates to the property began to slide shut.

Naruto acted quickly, running through the rapidly closing gap dragging Kiba's bike with him. He only just made it through in time and Kiba's bike fell to the floor with a clatter.

"Does private property mean nothing to you?" asked an angry voice from the top of the driveway.

Naruto looked up to find a fuming Sasuke standing outside the garage with his arms crossed and a glare firmly in place.

"Oh crap," was Naruto's first reaction. "Look, just don't release the hounds or anything!"

Sasuke's eyebrow twitched, "Hounds?"

"Er... well yeah, I mean judging by this place you're insanely rich. And I thought you were only insane," Naruto added under his breath.

"I heard that dobe."

"Meant you to," shot back Naruto.

Sasuke scowled and glared at Naruto, "Why are you stalking me?"

"Would have thought that was obvious by now, join our band!" demanded Naruto, walking up the driveway now that he was pretty certain there weren't any guard dogs.

"And I would have thought it was obvious by now that I said no. But still you keep following me, there's a line between persistent and downright crazy! What the hell do I have to do to get rid of you?!"

At this Naruto grinned. Perfect, Sasuke had walked right into it. Naruto had been prepared for that question and had his answer prepared.

"Listen to our music and tell me your voice wouldn't sound absolutely brilliant with it."

Sasuke's eyebrow twitched again, he knew he had just been had.

"If I listen to it you'll leave me alone?"

Naruto nodded and Sasuke sighed in defeat. He turned away and walked back into the garage with Naruto trailing after him. Naruto was immensely happy, even if he didn't persuade Sasuke this time he now knew where Sasuke lived and he was about to see inside the nicest house he had ever been to.

As soon as Naruto set foot inside the garage he stopped and gazed in awe. Right there was one of the most gorgeous motorbikes he had ever seen. A sleek crimson Harley Davidson V-Rod stood proudly in the middle of the double garage. Naruto rushed over immediately and ran a loving hand over the seat before gripping one of the handlebars.

"Don't drool on it."

"Is this yours?" asked Naruto wondering who the hell would cycle to school with this in his garage.

"No, I don't drive... it's my brothers."

"Wow, your brother has taste!"

"Hn."

"Is he home now?"

"No... he's rarely home."

Naruto looked up at the regretful tone, "Why not?"

"He works abroad most of the time. I see him a few times a year."

"Wow... so he only sees this bike a few times a year?"

Sasuke looked ready to hit him but instead he turned around and stalked through the door leading into the main house. Naruto cast one last look at the bike before following.

"Shoes off," ordered Sasuke.

Naruto kicked his beaten trainers off feeling that they looked hideously scruffy on the hard wood floor of the kitchen.

"You want a drink?"

Naruto looked up in surprise, not sure if he was really hearing something so courteous from Sasuke.

"Yes please," he said with a smile, glad to be getting somewhere with Sasuke. But then it occurred to him that Sasuke's politeness might just be because he was a good host. "Are your parents home?" he asked leaning on the marble kitchen counter whilst Sasuke poured them both lemonade.

Sasuke's back stiffened slightly at the question, "They're dead."

"Oh..." Naruto shifted awkwardly. "Same here."

Sasuke hid his surprise, "How old were you?" he asked quietly setting Naruto's drink down in front of him.

"Not old enough to remember... I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not," Naruto admitted.

"It's a good thing, believe me."

"So you live alone?"

"Yeah."

"Bit lonely isn't it?"

"I like my privacy."

"Hmm, maybe it would be nice. But I'm glad I've got my uncle Jiraiya, he pays my rent. I live with Kiba and his dog. Kiba's more trouble than the dog though."

"Kiba, the drummer?"

"Oh so you do know a bit about Hiding In Plain Sight?"

"A bit," Then he sighed, "Look I'm going to go and change, I got paint all over this shirt today. Just stay here and I'll hear you out in a sec."

Naruto nodded and waited until Sasuke had gone upstairs before setting out to explore the rest of the house. Every one of the many rooms was furnished lavishly and obsessively neat. But it wasn't until he wandered through an arch at the back of the house that he found something of interest. It was a lounge looking out over the sloping lawn behind the house. At one side of the room were stairs leading down to what must be the basement but in the middle of the room facing the windows was a grand piano. On the far side of the room was a sofa with an acoustic guitar laid across the cushions and on the wall behind it was a collection of framed Guns N' Roses discs. Naruto raised an eyebrow, he had to wonder who used this room.

"Do you ever listen to instructions?" asked a familiar voice from behind him.

"Occasionally," answered Naruto honestly. "You play?" he gestured at the room as a whole.

"Yeah, my mother started teaching me when I was very young and Itachi taught me to play guitar."

"Your brother? He plays too?"

"Yeah, he used to be in a band."

"He was in a band but you can't do it?" asked Naruto sceptically.

"It's not that I can't do it... I just don't see the point."

"The point?! You mean other than playing the music you obviously love to people who would totally love you!" exclaimed Naruto gesturing madly.

"I don't need people to love me. It's a fun little dream but one day you'll have to grow up and get a real job," argued Sasuke practically.

"Not if you make it big! And besides even if one day you do have to find 'real job' you'll at least know that you tried and had fun trying."

Sasuke shook his head, "Just stick the disc in," he said waving Naruto towards the stereo beside the sofa.

Sasuke just wanted to get this over and done with. Being in a band just wouldn't work out and therefore couldn't happen. It was a waste of time and more trouble than it was worth. It wouldn't get him anywhere in life. He didn't need to spend his free time chasing pointless dreams.

But even the pessimistic Sasuke couldn't deny that the demo disc Naruto had brought with him was good. Sasuke was surprised by some of Naruto's guitar solos, the playing was unpredictable and yet it still had a distinguished rhythm that he almost found himself swaying along to. Almost.

When it was over Naruto turned expectantly, he had seen from Sasuke's reactions that he had been surprised and that he had liked it. "What do you think?"

Sasuke thought for a moment, "It's missing something," he said pensively.

Naruto laughed at Sasuke's serious face, "Vocals perhaps?"

"That too, but perhaps another guitar or something completely different to add diversity."

"So join us and make it happen!" cried Naruto in his most convincing tone, to him it really seemed like the most logical option and every minute he spent with Sasuke only convinced him more.

"I can't."

"Why not?"

Sasuke paused, he was staring at the Guns N' Roses display but it didn't look as though he was really seeing it. "I don't like to sing in front of people."

"You're shy?"

"No! I just don't like it."

"Sing in front of me, you did before."

"That was different, I didn't know you were there."

"Pretend I'm not here now."

"Kind of hard since you're always so loud."

"Says he who didn't notice he was being trailed until I got past his big scary gates!" mocked Naruto.

"Hn, whatever." Sasuke walked over to the piano and lifted the lid. "I don't know what to sing now," he mused, more to himself than Naruto.

"A classic, something you've always liked," suggested Naruto.

Sasuke glanced sideways at the wall decorations and nodded to himself. As his long fingers began to play long memorized notes, Sasuke whistled. A smile lit Naruto's face at the pure joy of hearing Sasuke's piano version of 'Patience'. He was now certain that Sasuke had chosen the decorations for this room.

As Sasuke played he found it to be a lot different playing in front of Naruto than Itachi. When he played for Itachi his brother would always have criticisms to make which, though they were always constructive, made playing rather like sitting an exam. He could feel Naruto in the room with him but was surprised by how little it bothered him. The words flowed from him as naturally as they did when he was by himself. Sasuke never faltered on the lyrics of songs, he was one of those people who only had to hear the song a few times to know every word.

Again he whistled as the song petered out. When Sasuke reached the break in the song he had decided to finish there. But after the piano fell silent another instrument took up the tune. Sasuke whirled around to find that Naruto had picked up his acoustic guitar that he had left in here yesterday. Naruto smiled at his surprise and began to sing.

...little patience, mm yeah, mm yeah
need a little patience, yeah
just a little patience, yeah


Naruto's voice wasn't as low as Sasuke's and didn't have the same depth or mellow quality. As he swayed with the music he nodded for Sasuke to take the main vocals up as he continued his back up.

I've been walking these streets at night
Just trying to get it right (Need some patience, yeah)
It's hard to see with so many around
You know I don't like being stuck in a crowd (Could use some patience, yeah)
And the streets don't change but maybe the name
I ain't got time for the game
'Cause I need you (Patience, yeah)
Yeah, yeah well I need you
Oh, I need you (Take some patience)
Whoa, I need you (Just a little patience is all we need)
Ooh, this ti- me....


"Wow," breathed Naruto once Sasuke had trailed off. "Tell me you didn't enjoy that. We work well together don't you think?"

Sasuke wasn't looking at him. "Just give my guitar back and leave."

"Eh?"

"I listened to your demo, I even sung for you and now I want you to leave and stick to your word by not following me," Sasuke intoned heavily.

Naruto handed the guitar back looking at Sasuke worriedly. Then he left. Something felt wrong all of a sudden. They had been great together and he knew Sasuke had enjoyed it... it had been clear in his voice. For a moment it had felt like they were friends and Naruto had forgotten that he had bargained his way into the house. Sasuke had sung for him, that hadn't been part of the deal. Sasuke could have easily refused and told Naruto to get out.

But their deal hadn't been completely fulfilled. Sasuke was supposed to tell Naruto that his voice wouldn't sound brilliant with their music. But he hadn't... and Naruto hadn't reminded him. He didn't know why he hadn't tried to get it out of Sasuke. Perhaps he didn't want to hear Sasuke tell him he was wrong, it would make all this seem pointless. And yet wasn't it already pointless, hadn't he just been thrown out? However, Naruto was reading underneath Sasuke's cold exterior, somehow he didn't believe Sasuke was as much of a bastard as he seemed.

It may have been foolish but Naruto was optimistic and he hadn't given up yet. Sasuke was intriguing to say the least and Naruto thought it would have been interesting to be friends with the guy even if he didn't know about that amazing voice. Sasuke had so many layers, at college he was the business minded brainiac, yet Naruto had had no idea that he was also an art student, then you add living alone in a mansion and having a talent for music and you have one interesting person. And then there was the personality; deep, stoic, mean and witty, lonely yet too proud to admit it, confident yet unwilling to share his talent.

Uchiha Sasuke was an endlessly complicated individual but to Naruto... that was a challenge.

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Sasuke couldn't sleep. Every detail of Naruto's visit was running through his head and each had been scrupulously examined. But what puzzled him most was his own behaviour. Why had he sung for Naruto? Just because the idiot asked him to? Sasuke had never done what anyone wanted without having his own motives. Perhaps he had enjoyed playing with someone else... Sasuke didn't consider himself a lonely person, he had a few select friends and people always seemed to like him even if he didn't like them.

Sasuke knew he wouldn't get any sleep for a long time now. But it didn't matter; he didn't have to be up early tomorrow. So he got up and wandered downstairs in his baggy pyjama's. Slowly he paced through the many rooms of the mansion. Perhaps he was a little lonely. The only person who had ever visited him at home was his best friend, Neji, and Neji didn't exactly fill up the empty halls; though the two often played their music together Neji wasn't much more talkative than Sasuke. That might have been why they got on so well together. But Sasuke couldn't help wondering what it would be like for this house to be full of life again.

Eventually Sasuke wandered into the music room. He stared long and hard at his guitar, which was still lying on the sofa, then he picked it up and headed for the basement stairs. The basement had long ago been converted into an outlet for their music. You could say Sasuke had music in his blood as the basement had been set up by Itachi's band. As far as he knew Deidara was the only one still chasing his dream and was currently singing for some band in Suna. The basement walls were covered with posters and band flags, the carpet was crimson and in the center was a big fluffy sheepskin rug. The basement was Sasuke's favourite room in the house aside from his own room because it actually looked like it had been lived in. There was a comfy sofa, a few bean bags, Sasuke's keyboard, the drums that Kisame had left here and a rack of guitars, some his and some Itachi's. They were lucky it was a large basement because all the amps and recording equipment took up a lot of room.

Sasuke placed his guitar carefully in its place on the rack before returning to the music room. He ran his fingers lovingly over the keys of the old piano. It had been his mothers and he still had clear memories of sitting on the stool beside her whilst she played. He sat and let his fingers move automatically over the keys. It was his way of thinking and Sasuke had a lot to think about.

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Naruto had stuck to his word for nearly a week, he hadn't followed Sasuke or even talked to him. But when their Friday night band practice rolled around he saw an opportunity that he couldn't pass up. Kiba had parked the bands van around the back of the college campus, so he wouldn't have grumpy college bus drivers telling him to get moving, but when they walked out of the gate he saw Sasuke bent down examining his bike. Kiba, Shikamaru, Sakura and Ino ignored him and piled into the van. But Naruto had stopped.

"What's up Sasuke?"

Sasuke turned and a strange look washed over his face as he laid eyes on Naruto. "Puncture," he mumbled.

"Oh... Kiba will give you a lift!"

Sasuke gave him a suspicious look. "What's the catch?"

"He can only drop you home after practice."

Sasuke rolled his eyes. He opened his mouth to refuse but Kiba shouted over him.

"Naruto! Get your ass in here or you can walk!"

Naruto glanced back at the van, ready to run after them if it started moving, "Please?" he asked Sasuke.

Sasuke still looked torn. "I can't just leave my bike here..." he said feebly.

"No worries!" shouted Naruto grabbing the bike and running towards the van with it.

So that was how Sasuke had ended up rocking around in the back of Kiba's van with his bike and Naruto who was singing loudly along to ACDC's T.N.T. which was blasting from the radio in the front. Sasuke lurched forward as Kiba took another sharp turn and found himself half on top of Naruto.

"Having fun back there?" called Kiba from the front.

"Kiba you bastard! You drive like a fucking madman!" shouted Naruto not even sparing Sasuke a glance and the other pulled himself awkwardly out of Naruto's lap.

"It's better than having to listen to your singing!" Kiba shouted back over the music.

"This is definitely not safe," muttered Sasuke.

There were no seatbelts in the back because there were no seats, only a few cushions and they weren't attached to anything.

"If you only did safe things you'd never have any fun," Naruto told him with a grin.

Kiba and Naruto's apartment was near the downtown district in a run-down area of the city. Or at least it seemed run-down to Sasuke who was used to living in the most expensive part of the city, in reality there were much worse area's in Konoha. They all jumped out of the van and Sasuke followed the group into an old building. The hallways were plain and looked out on a weed strewn and graffitied play park. The apartment was small and barely allowed for any movement with all the band's equipment crammed in. Posters were plastered everywhere so that most of the peeling paint of the walls and ceiling was covered up. Sasuke stood in the corner because the only sofa had been taken by Sakura and Shikamaru who had lit up a cigarette. Ino threw a beer in Sasuke's direction and then proceeded to elbow Shikamaru out of the way so that she could sit down. Sakura had flipped open her laptop and Naruto had fetched his guitar from his bedroom. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly as they tuned up before launching into a warm-up song.

Sasuke leant against the wall with his eyes half closed and listened to them play. He recognised a few of the songs from the demo CD that Naruto had played him and he even enjoyed hearing them live. But halfway through quite a catchy song there was a loud banging on the wall next to him. Sasuke looked up in alarm, about to ask Naruto what it was but he found the guitarist waving his middle finger at the poster coated wall.

"Ah, give it a rest old hag!" Naruto shouted at the wall. "I'm all thrown off now, want to take a break guys?"

Shikamaru yawned and threw himself onto the sofa, half crushing Ino. Kiba went into the tiny kitchen area in search of more beer and Naruto walked over to Sasuke.

"What do you think?"

Sasuke sighed, "You already know I think you're good. But have you considered getting another band member?"

"I'm working on it," replied Naruto with a wink.

"Not me, I mean another instrument."

"You know anyone?"

"Hmm maybe."

"Well, if he's good, and I suppose he must be for you to consider him, send him my way."

Naruto then wandered over to see what Sakura was up to on her laptop. Ino had just stolen it, they were working on a t-shirt design.

"That's kind of girly don't you think?"

"That's because it's not for you, it's for us!" Sakura told him happily. "As your groupies/team of technicians we need t-shirts."

"Anyway, why exactly did you bring Sasuke along? Is he going to sing for us?" asked Ino.

"Doesn't look like it," muttered Naruto sadly.

"So he was the person you had in mind?" Sakura's face had lit up in anticipation.

Naruto nodded.

"But you failed, he won't sing," Ino said critically.

"Hey, I haven't given up yet!" protested Naruto.

But he was running out of idea's, he had used every argument he could think of to get Sasuke to join them. He had stalked and goaded, insulted and pleaded and still Sasuke was stubborn. Naruto thought it would do Sasuke good to seek the spotlight a bit more and he honestly believed that Sasuke would enjoy the experience. All he needed to do would be to show Sasuke that he would enjoy it. Naruto felt he had made a start when he had gotten Sasuke to sing with him. If only he could get Sasuke to sing with all of them...

Then the answer hit him. It was right in front of him, just above Sasuke's head! A poster of Slash, the lead guitarist from Guns N' Roses!

Making it seem as though he was simply moving it out of the way, Naruto grabbed the microphone and placed it in the corner right in front of Sasuke. As innocent as Naruto made it seem Sasuke still gave him a suspicious glare. As soon as Kiba returned to his drums Naruto began the epic guitar riff that everyone present immediately recognised. Shikamaru rolled his eyes and began strumming at his bass. Kiba laughed and caught up his drumsticks, preparing himself for another of Naruto's Axl Rose impressions. But Naruto had no intention of singing. He looked Sasuke directly in the eye daring him to do it.

To Naruto's surprise Sasuke glared at him, pushed away from the wall and leaned towards the microphone. When Sasuke's voice flowed easily through the speakers Kiba nearly dropped his drumsticks in surprise. Naruto smiled as he played but Sasuke didn't see it; he had closed his eyes.

But then, with the worst possible timing, just as Naruto reached his solo, the door was thrown open by an angry Tsunade. Her voice bellowed over their best ever rendition of Sweet Child O' Mine and shocked Sasuke out of the happy daze he had been experiencing.

In a matter of seconds he had thrown his satchel strap over his head and bolted out of the open door, bouncing off of Tsunade's breasts on the way. He ran full pelt down the stairs, stopping only to clasp a hand to his mouth before starting off again. He hadn't intended to sing, but the combination of several beers, the friendly atmosphere and the challenge present in Naruto's eyes had caused him to open his mouth. Sasuke was annoyed both at himself for falling for such a simple trick and at Naruto for counting on him knowing the lyrics.

Naruto was fuming at Tsunade but as soon as he'd shouted that she'd just scared their vocalist away he ran into his bedroom, snatched up his bike gear and the spare helmet that Sakura used and ran from the building. He was relying on the fact that Sasuke didn't know the way back to his house from this district and that, as far as he knew, none of the bus routes went further than the college. Naruto drove in the direction of the nearest bus stop which was towards the downtown area.

Sure enough he came across Sasuke, still walking at top speed. Naruto slowed down and hailed him loudly. Sasuke walked faster.

"Come on man, I'll give you a lift home!"

"No thank you," replied Sasuke coldly.

"Why not? You're not scared of motorbikes too are you?" taunted Naruto pulling his bike into a parking space.

"I'm not scared of anything."

"Why won't you sing then?"

Sasuke stopped walking but didn't turn around. "I'm not scared of singing, I just don't want to."

"I think you do," insisted Naruto.

"You don't know shit about me!" shouted Sasuke whirling to face him. "You promised you'd stop following me but you're doing it again."

"Our deal isn't over, you were supposed to tell me that your voice wouldn't fit perfectly with our music."

Sasuke looked at him in disbelief.

"Can you say it?" Naruto prompted.

If Sasuke could say it then Naruto would leave him alone, he was a man of his word after all. But Sasuke couldn't say it, looking down he shook his head.

"You don't need me, there are plenty of people dying for the chance to sing for a band like yours."

"But we don't want them," Naruto told him. "Look, I reckon you enjoyed that just now, even if you won't admit it. That means you aren't done deciding just yet. So... let me take you home and you can think about it some more."

Sasuke looked at him, long and hard, and Naruto met his gaze. There was something between them, whether it was their equally stubborn attitudes, the beginnings of friendship or more, neither could tell. But Naruto wanted Sasuke to choose to join them. It was no longer just about having Sasuke's amazing voice as a trophy or a weapon that would allow their band to succeed, it was now about wanting Sasuke to be happy and that meant that Naruto would accept his decision either way as long as Sasuke was sure of his choice.

Finally Sasuke spoke, "I don't ride bitch."

Naruto laughed so hard he nearly lost his balance on his bike, he had never imagined Sasuke could say something so funny. A small smirk pulled at the corner of Sasuke's mouth in the face of Naruto's genuine mirth.

"Well you don't drive either so get on. Don't worry no one will find out."

"Hn."

With that Sasuke took the offered helmet and used the footrest to swing himself onto the ridiculously orange motorbike. He had actually lied, he had ridden 'bitch' before but only few times on Itachi's bike and he had always gripped his brother securely around the waist. Now Sasuke wondered where to put his hands, it felt a bit too familiar to cling to Naruto. But as soon as Sasuke had decided to place his hands at Naruto's sides, the motorbike revved loudly and took off at such a speed that Sasuke gave up on being dignified. After all, he reasoned, it would be even more undignified to fall off. So Sasuke wrapped his arms around Naruto's waist, scowling when he felt rather than heard the other chuckle.

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The next morning Sasuke dragged himself out of bed at midday because his phone was ringing for about the fifth time. When he finally located it he wasn't in the best of moods.

"What?" he asked grumpily.

"Can I come over?" asked the familiar voice of Hyuuga Neji.

Sasuke coughed the sleep out of his voice, "Sure, why?"

"Urgh, the usual, my uncle is driving me around the bend!"

"Yeah see you."

With that he hung up and headed for the bathroom. He hadn't even gotten undressed before he heard the buzzer. Neji must have been outside already. He walked down the landing a little way and pressed the button for the gates before returning to his shower, trusting Neji to let himself in.

Sure enough when Sasuke came downstairs Neji had made himself comfortable in the lounge. Sasuke sat on the arm of the opposite sofa and let himself fall backwards.

"What happened this time?"

Neji let out a frustrated groan and raked his long hair back off his face. "I just had to get out of there. Hiashi's been in an extra bad mood recently, something about the state of the economy, not exactly something I can control, but anyway this time he blew up about me 'making a racket'."

"And were you?" Sasuke asked the ceiling.

"No, I was just playing my violin. I swear he is so touchy recently. Both Hinata and Hanabi were conveniently nowhere to be found so I got the brunt of it; he called my playing an 'incessant screeching'."

Sasuke hummed nonchalantly in answer.

"Why were you still in bed at this time?"

"Couldn't sleep last night."

"Why?"

"I had stuff to think about."

"Could you be more specific?" asked Neji sarcastically.

"Do you know a guy called Naruto?"

"Not personally, he's in a band right?"

"Yeah and he wants me to sing for them," said Sasuke morbidly.

Neji made a humming sound as he thought this over. He knew how much Sasuke hated people hearing him sing.

"Are they any good?"

"Yeah, I went to their practice last night."

Neji looked at him in surprise.

"Not out of choice," said Sasuke quickly.

"Nonsense, no one could have forced you to go, which means you chose to go," Neji told him firmly.

Sasuke huffed but didn't reply.

"Have you sung for them?"

Again Sasuke didn't reply, but Neji could read him perfectly.

"Interesting..." he murmured. "I'd like to hear them play."

If these people had caught Sasuke's eye, even managed to get him to warm to them enough to sing in their presence then there must be something pretty special about them. Sasuke wasn't acting like himself, Neji was able to read him with renewed ease and he couldn't help but enjoy the change.

"I might still have their demo CD here, I don't remember Naruto taking it with him..." said Sasuke slowly.

"He was here?" asked Neji, even more intrigued.

He felt that he must have been neglecting his friend to be missing all this important information. Neji was a year older than Sasuke and was already attending Konoha University. Sasuke and Neji had met under unusual circumstances, when Neji been in a brief relationship with Sasuke's brother. Brief was the key word. But Sasuke and Neji had formed a friendship whilst Neji and Itachi's relationship had been failing and had grown to be good friends after Itachi took his job.

"Yeah he stalked me home," said Sasuke, however Neji couldn't help but notice that Sasuke didn't sound too upset by it.

Neji followed Sasuke through to the music room and watched as Sasuke popped the CD drawer of the stereo open. Sasuke rolled his eyes and lifted the disc for Neji to read the orange marker labelling the CD 'H.I.P.S's super awesome demo!'.

"H.I.P.S?" questioned Neji.

"Hiding In Plain Sight."

Neji listened to the demo commenting here and there and occasionally tapping his foot.

"Guitarist has definitely got talent, in fact they all have. Drummer obviously has good rhythm and that track that begins with the bass is catchy."

"Don't you think they need another instrument though?"

"Another..." began Neji. Then he caught the look in Sasuke's eye. "You mean me?"

"Why not?"

"I could ask you the same thing. It would do you good to share some of that talent that I know you're confident of. But I don't know if I would have enough time along with my studies..."

"That's bullshit, Neji. You spend more time than me playing just for the sake of winding your uncle up. But this way you could have a good time playing and get a lot of good experience out of it."

Neji sighed and sunk down on the sofa. "I think we're both being hypocritical here, Sasuke. I would be lying if I said I wasn't very interested in meeting them, perhaps even playing with them."

Sasuke nodded, he didn't really know what he wanted to do. He had stayed up all night playing and thinking and with every sleepless hour that passed he found the idea of singing for a band more and more appealing.

"I think I'll talk to them on Monday. Will you decide by tomorrow?"

Neji nodded and they spent the rest of the day hanging out and practicing. Not once did the subject of H.I.P.S come up again. On Sunday evening Sasuke received a simple text from Neji: 'I'm in if they'll have me'.

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On Monday morning Sasuke was wondering how he would tell the band members that he wanted to sing for them. After all he had run out on their practice session. At lunch time he found them sprawled on the grass outside the music rooms. Naruto's guitar was in it's case and no one seemed to be talking. In fact the atmosphere was quite miserable. Naruto waved him over and Sasuke sat beside him.

"Is everything okay?"

"We've hit a bit of a problem actually. Apparently me and Kiba have been the cause of too many noise complaints, one more and we lose the apartment, so we're a bit stuck for somewhere to practice."

Sasuke almost smiled, it was the opening he had been looking for, "Practice at my house."

Kiba looked up in surprise, "What?"

"Seriously?" asked Ino

"That would be really great Sasuke, but won't your parents mind?" questioned Sakura.

Naruto stiffened a little but Sasuke just shook his head. "Definitely not."

"Does this mean you're going to sing for us?" asked Naruto quietly.

Sasuke nodded. Then he let out a cry of surprise when Naruto grabbed hold of him and gave him a strong hug.

"I knew you'd choose well, you won't regret it!" he promised before letting go of the awkward Sasuke.

"I think I'm going to miss keeping my drums at home though," said Kiba regretfully.

"You can always use Kisame's drums," offered Sasuke.

"Who's Kisame?"

"My brothers boyfriend." Ino laughed at this but Kiba just shrugged and agreed. "Also I have a friend who'd like to meet you all."

"The new instrument?" asked Naruto.

"Yeah, if you all like him."

"I trust your judgement. What does he play?"

"Guitar, violin, cello and flute." Kiba raised an eyebrow. "He could play guitar for you, or electric violin, that's a pretty cool sound."

"I like it," said Kiba decisively.

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Their first practice went smoothly once the other band members realised that Sasuke was serious obout the mansion being his home. Neji proved his worth and they all liked him a lot, especially Shikamaru. Sasuke smirked when he realised the feeling was mutual. It was a night to remember and set the standard for many more practice sessions held at Sasuke's house. Sasuke soon found out that having a band hold their practice there filled the house's empty halls with much more life than he and Neji could ever manage on their own. It was the beginning of friendships that would last for years to come and Sasuke had never felt that he would never want to go back to living as he once had, alone. Naruto had been right and they were all better off because of it. As for Hiding In Plain Sight, they were finally complete.
Chapter end notes: Meant to post this one a while back but oh well. I've started work on the InoSaku side story that goes with this story, so if there's any yuri fans out there they might want to give it a go.
Ja ne!
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