Uzumaki Naruto – bright, loud, brash; disrespectful even towards the Hokage. Uchiha Sasuke – dark, quiet, hardworking; determined to kill his older brother Itachi. All that they had in common was their rivalry – or so everyone thought.
Naruto ran away from the village, tears blinding him as he headed towards his favourite place to be alone, a little cave behind the waterfall in the middle of the forest. The villagers had called him demon-bastard again, not to his face, but to each other. He had sharper ears than they thought. And the children never wanted to play with him, just laughed at him when he asked them if he could join in. He usually just continued grinning hugely, but sometimes it was just too much for him. That was when he went to his secret hideout, just for a while, so that no-one would ever see his tears. But as he slid along the ledge into the cave, he realised that someone was already there. He froze when he saw the shape of another boy sitting in is usual spot, silent sobs racking his entire body. He was clad in dark clothes, and – Naruto gasped when he saw the distinct shape of the Uchiha fan printed on the back of the boy's shirt. The thundering of the waterfall drowned out the soft footsteps as Naruto slowly walked towards the boy. He now saw that it was Uchiha Sasuke, the younger brother of the famed Uchiha Itachi. When Naruto crouched down beside him, Sasuke turned towards him in shock. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" he asked in an arrogant voice, but Naruto knew all about masks hastily put back on – how often had he had to hide his true emotions, after all? "Uzumaki Naruto," Naruto said quietly, then did the only thing he could think of and crouched down next to Sasuke, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Will you be my friend?" He asked, wide innocent eyes looking directly at Sasuke.
Sasuke answered with an unfortunately rather watery glare. "Why would I need a friend?" He growled.
"Maybe you don't," Naruto answered, familiar grin once more threatening to split his face in two, "but I sure could do with one!"
From that day onward, the unlikely pair established a friendship of sort. They never met outside of the cave, but the simple companionship helped both of them through their troubles.
When Naruto heard about the dreadful tragedy that had befallen the entire Uchiha clan, he immediately ran towards their cave. He didn't expect Sasuke to be there – some pains were too great to be shared – but whether out of habit or something else, Sasuke was sitting right on the edge of the cave, legs hanging over the ledge, eyes staring unseeingly at the waterfall roaring in front of him. As he had so often done, Naruto crouched down next to him, but unlike most times, Sasuke didn't react at all, just continued staring at the rushing water. "Sasuke," Naruto said softly. When still no reaction was forthcoming, Naruto purely on impulse reached out towards Sasuke and hugged him tightly. Sasuke stiffened, but Naruto was just glad he had finally gotten a reaction out of his friend. As Sasuke's empty eyes stared into his, Naruto was overcome by the urge to put some feeling back into those eyes; anything, even anger or hate, was better than that nothingness. That same urge pushed him to close the distance between them and press his lips against Sasuke's. That, at least, got a reaction out of him. Sasuke's eyes widened comically and he jumped back a foot or so. "Eh?" He shouted, uncharacteristically loud for the young Uchiha, "Naruto, what on earth –"
Naruto cocked his head. "What?"
Sasuke stared at him in disbelief. "You – you just – you just kissed me!" He finally stuttered out.
Naruto bit his lip and looked at Sasuke apprehensively. "I wanted you to react," he said apologetically. "I've seen mothers kiss their children, and I thought, maybe it would make you feel better."
Sasuke was forcibly reminded that Naruto lived alone, without anyone to tell him what was right and what was wrong, and that kissing you friend to cheer him up was most definitely wrong. He sighed and shook his head. This was Naruto for heaven's sake; he should expect these kinds of things from him. Just like he had just randomly asked him to be his friend the first time they had met here. He realised Naruto was still waiting for an answer, teeth biting his bottom lip as he worried that he had done something wrong. Sasuke sighed once more. "No, it's fine Naruto. Your – kiss – did make me feel better." He gave Naruto a small smile. "A lot better." Sasuke was very relieved when that familiar grin was back on Naruto's face and he was hardly surprised when Naruto hugged him again. This was Naruto, after all.
So, you see, their friendship goes far deeper than any rivalry they might display in public. Both of them know all about masks, after all.