Disclaimer: I own nothing in regards to Naruto


Change can be good or bad. It just depends on a person's point of view. Some people can easily embrace it and adapt to it while others absolutely dread it and resist it. Personally, I fall underneath the category of the latter as there's always been a sense of easiness associated with familiarity. I try my best not to deviate from that. What I've come to realize, though, is that life doesn't care about your preferences. It'll still chuck a random curveball in your direction every once in a while just to remind you that change is inevitable – whether we're ready for it or not.

It was about a month ago when I received unexpected news that sent my entire world spiraling in a totally new direction. My summer vacation from school had been ruined because of it. There were so many things I had planned on doing that I literally sat down just to write a list for all of them. And for what? Just so that my parents could crush all of those hopes and dreams by announcing that we were moving.

The obnoxious beeping of the moving truck backing up into our driveway is what snapped me out of my thoughts and back to current events. I still couldn't believe that this was actually happening. It was as though I were in some kind of awful nightmare. Any second now I was hoping I'd wake up and that this terrible reality would be done and over with.

"I mean I knew it was happening and all, but now that the moving truck is actually here, it just feels like it's actually real," said a voice from behind me. I immediately recognized who it was without even having to look. When I turned around, I saw my best friend standing before me, taking a final drag out of his cigarette before putting it out.

"Bruh! What the hell? You said you were gonna help me out today," I said angrily. "Where've you been?"

"I know, I know. I'm sorry," my friend apologized, raising his hands up high in mock surrender. He nervously laughed as he slightly retreated and added, "I set my alarm for eight this morning, and, well, you know how that goes. Eight turned into eight-thirty and then eight-thirty turned into –"

"It's eleven, Shikamaru," I let out with an exasperated huff, rolling my eyes at his lame excuse for having been tardy.

"I… may have hit the snooze button two-three-maybe nine times tops! But really? Who's counting?" Shikamaru chuckled as he scratched the back of his head.

"I am!" I snapped. "I'm counting the clock tick away as I stand here waiting like a dumbass 'cause my best friend made me a promise!"

"Geez! When you put it like that…" Shikamaru started to say.

"How else is there to put it!" I barked.

"I'm sorry, Naruto," Shikamaru apologized. "I didn't mean to show up late. I mean I'm here now. Still need my help?"

My blood was boiling, but the moment Shikamaru apologized I instantly felt bad for how I was lashing out at him. The pained look on his face made me realize that I may have been coming off just a bit too harsh. I mean, after all, he was the one doing me a favor here. Maybe I should have cut the guy a break.

"I'm sorry, Shika," I said to him, shaking my head at how stupid I was behaving. I let out a collected breath in an attempt to control myself.

"It's cool, Naruto. I get it. I mean I'd be stressed, too. Moving is such a drag," he said, letting out a long stretch that seemed to make his bones pop.

"Yeah, especially when all I had was one more year of school left. I mean… come on! They couldn't wait until I was done? I don't want to go to a new school and meet new people. I already fucking hate about ninety percent of the human race as it is."

"Yeah, well, look at the bright side. At least you won't be alone. You got your sister with you," Shikamaru said in a weak attempt to consolidate me.

"She's the one thing I don't have a problem leaving behind," I said rather darkly.

"Is this one of those situations where whenever I say something positive you're gonna flip it into a negative?" Shikamaru queried.

"How dare you! I'm shocked that you would even ask such a ridiculous question," I replied in an offended tone. "The insinuation – No, the disillusion that I would even consider a positive outcome has me nothing short from upset with you right now."

"Of course," Shikamaru said with a resigned sigh. "I should've known! In any case… as fun as it is seeing you mope around and fall into what I'm sure I am witnessing as the early signs of an ongoing, persistent depression, don't you think we should start to move shit around. I mean complaining about it isn't going to get shit done, ya' know."

"What the – Who are you, and what have you done with my friend, Shikamaru?" I said, raising a skeptic brow. "Shikamaru never wants to work or do anything. All he wants to do is sleep and get high."

"Oh, trust me, I'm high!" Shikamaru said. "I had an edible a little while ago and I could feel that shit kicking in."

"Whyyyyy?" I dragged out.

"Why what?" Shikamaru said with a complacent look on his face.

"Why would you take an edible before coming here? You knew we'd be working!" I reprimanded.

"I think what you meant to ask is why didn't I offer you an edible? Your brain just lacked the proper words to put the sentence together," Shikamaru responded.

It was clear that he was already high by the look on his face and the way he was slightly laughing at his own lame jokes.

"Urgh! Whatever! Let's just go," I surrendered, leading the way inside.

The instant we made our way through the front door, I had to quickly grab Shikamaru and throw our bodies against the wall as my dad nearly crashed into us.

"Jesus, dad! Can you shout out a warning next time you decide to nearly run me down! I haven't paid this month's life insurance yet!" I yelled at the top of my lungs.

"Sorry! This box is just really, really heavy!" my father apologized as he quickly shimmied his way outside. He was grunting quite profusely while carrying a large box that was almost twice his size and just as wide.

"Life insurance? Really?" Shikamaru questioned, raising a brow.

"It's going to be a long day, isn't it?" I groaned, leering fiercely.

After it was safe to make passage, I led Shikamaru towards the the back of the house and into a narrow hallway.

"Ugggggh! Finally! I've been waiiiting fooooorever!" whined an annoying voice that sounded very similar to nails grinding on a chalkboard. I looked up to see an unwelcoming sight in front of me: my sister was standing next to my door at the end of the hall.

"What do you mean finally, Karin? Why are you standing in front of my door?" I asked her rather bluntly.

"Mom said I had to help you move your stuff because you don't have any friends to help you," she replied, flipping her long red hair that she always seemed to style quite stupidly; one side was always straight and neatly combed, the other was unkempt and unruly.

"Well, good news, she-devil, you're relieved of duty! Shika pulled through, so you can go back to whatever hole you crawled out of," I told her.

"You mean mom's loose and worn out vagina?" Karin said.

"Gross!" I gagged in disgust. "Why! Why would you even say that? Now I have an image in my head!"

Karin let out a smirk and shrugged her shoulders. I swear it was her objective to make sure that she brought misery into my life.

"Fuck off, Karin," I snapped at her. "I don't need your help. We got this."

"Seriously? You're expecting this lazy ass to help you? Ahahahaha!" Karin guffawed, readjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose as they threatened to fall off. She pointed a finger straight passed me and towards Shikamaru. "This shirker isn't going to help you with shit. Just look at him. You're high as fuck right now, aren't you?"

"Oh, fuck, how did she know?" Shikamaru panicked, becoming sweaty and paranoid at once. "Are my eyes red already?"

"Just a guess," Karin said in an all too superior tone, placing one hand on her hip while inspecting her nails on the other. "You're like high all the fucking time. Why would today be any different? It doesn't take a genius to figure that out."

"She had a point there," I conceded, nodding my head in approval.

"Naruto's right. Fuck off, Karin," Shikamaru repeated for me.

"Trust when I say that I don't wanna be anywhere near you two faggots." I glowered at the word. "But mom's orders!" she finished with a shrug of her shoulders.

"Well, we don't need or want you here. Emphasis on, WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE!" I said loudly. "Just go help mom with something else."

"Hell no! There's no way I'm going back out there. That lady has been in a fucking mood all day. It's like she's got a cactus up her snatch or something," Karin argued.

"Snatch?" Shikamaru repeated in a rather grossed out tone. He shuddered at my sister's choice of words. I ignored his comment and opened my mouth to rebuke Karin but she went on, not giving me the chance to speak.

"Look! If you don't want me here, that's fine! But you go tell her that, 'cause I ain't gonna!" she said with resoluteness, crossing her arms in a stubborn fashion.

"Fine!" I gave up, throwing my hands in the air. "Whatever! I don't care! Just don't get in our way!"

I pushed past her and opened the door to my room. What was once an awesome space that was beautifully decorated with anime figurines, comic book posters, and hardcore gaming equipment was now a dull and empty bedroom that had a king-sized mattress with its railings waiting to be hauled into the loading truck. There were also a few boxes and a couple of dressers that needed to be put away as well but I didn't care too much about that. I was still pining over the fact that my room was now incredibly bland and lifeless.

"Well, where do we start?" Shikamaru said.

"Help me get my bed first, Shika. Then we can move the dressers," I instructed as we walked into the room. "Karin, I guess you can get those boxes I have lying around since they're not so heavy."

"No thanks," Karin replied with an exhausted yawn as she made her way to the side and lazily slouched against the bedroom wall. She pulled out her phone from her back pocket and immediately began texting.

"What the- Why are you even here then?" I growled at her between gritted teeth.

"'Cause mom said I had to help you. Duuuuuh!" she drawled rather unattractively, even going so far as clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth so that it would make an annoying clicking sound.

"Well, what the fuck are you doing?" I hissed.

"I'm supervising. Now chop chop!" she said with little to no interest, not even bothering to look up, as her ugly nose pressed further and further into her phone's screen.

"You're so annoying!" I said with such disdain.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shut the fuck up, Naretard! Your shit isn't going to move itself!" Karin dismissed before she started bursting into laughter over something she had been watching on her phone.

"And she had the nerve to call me lazy," Shikamaru whispered to me rather indignantly as we began to pull the top mattress off of its support.

"Well, she's not wrong," I admitted, earning me a very reproached look from Shikamaru. "Whatever, dude. Just ignore her."

The comment was easier said than done. For the entire two hours that it took for us to move everything from my bedroom to the moving truck, Karin was being more obnoxious than usual. She would laugh really loudly to the point where it felt like by eardrums were about to pop and splatter, and she would only do it whenever we were passing by. It was like she was faking it just to get on our nerves. She also got in our way. Like a lot. It took every ounce of self-control that I had just to keep my mouth shut so I wouldn't tell her off for blocking the door for the umpteenth time.

"Did I ever tell you how annoying Karin is?" Shikamaru said with a defeated sigh as we finished loading the final box into the moving truck.

"You could stand to mention it more," I told him.

"Dude, what was up with her today? She was being a real cunt. Remember how she threw herself on top of the mattress while we were trying to angle it through the door?" Shikamaru huffed.

"Bro, I don't know. I swear she's being annoying on purpose," I told him, letting out an exasperated breath as my eyes landed on my sister who was now standing outside of the front door, still on her phone. My eyes narrowed into a glare instantaneously. "Fucking bitch."

"Ergh-hem!" someone coughed from behind.

A cold chill ran down my spine and made the hairs on my body rise. I turned to see a lock of red hair, and, for a second, my heart skipped a beat as I thought it was my sister. But then it quickly registered: If Karin was over there, then who – I realized who was actually behind me, and all the muscles in my body immediately tightened as it was somebody far worse than I had originally imagined.

"What did you just call your sister?"

"Mother!" I said with an elated smile. "You look quite lovely today!"

"Cut your bullshit, Naruto," my mother snapped. "What did you just say?"

"WHAT WAS THAT, DAD?" I shouted at the top of my lungs, pretending to have heard something. "COMING!"

"No, no, no! You're not going anywhere, mister! Your father didn't call you! Answer me. What did you say about your sister!" my mother snarled.

"Noooooothing," I drawled, turning away from her murderous stare. If there was anything I hated more than being reprimanded, it was having to repeat the reason why I was being reprimanded, especially in front of my friends. So embarrassing.

"That sure didn't sound like nothing. Don't you dare ever let me catch you saying something like that about your sister again, you hear me?" my mother sternly scolded as she shook an accusatory finger at me.

I said nothing back, too furious to respond, but my silence was not good enough of an answer for her. My mother got in my face, and I could feel her hot breath brush against my skin.

"Do you understand, Menma!" she repeated.

"URGH! OKAY, OKAY! YES!" I barked, backing away from her.

"Watch your tone when speaking to me!" she lectured once more before finally storming off.

When she was finally a good distance away, I no longer felt like I had to be on the offensive. I dropped my guard. A second later I realized that was a mistake.

"Menma?" Shikamaru questioned as he struggled to maintain his composure; it was plain to see that he wanted to start bursting into laughter but was doing everything he could to try and be serious. I shot him a look that told him to back off, but he was unfazed by it.

"URGH! She always says my stupid middle name whenever she's pissed at me!" I explained, crossing my arms. "She's so annoying. What kind of stupid name is Menma anyways?"

"What kind of stupid name is Naruto?" Shikamaru stated.

"Fuck off!" I snapped.

"Hey, why am I getting heat?" Shikamaru retorted. "You're the one who called your sister a bitch, not me."

"Didn't you just call her a cunt?" I said in disbelief.

"Correction: You're the one who called your sister a bitch and got caught," Shikamaru added with a devilish smile. "Besides, she's not my sister. I can say whatever the fuck I want…, Menma."

"Fuck off," I told him, shaking my head in disapproval.

"How is that we've been friends all this time, and I never knew that?" he asked.

"Because you're not a very good friend," I answered.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Let me make room for all of the people here giving you a hand," Shikamaru replied as he stepped to the side to allow imaginary people to pass. "Good day, sir. After you, madam."

"You're so annoying," I said to him.

"I'm just saying, bro. I'm the only one that came by to help you move," Shikamaru replied.

"You're the only person I asked," I countered.

"Awe. Is it 'cause you love me?" he asked while batting his eyes, looking extremely feminine.

"Loove? What is this loove you speak of? Can I harness its' power to destroy others?" I queried.

"Hmm…" Shikamaru mused, scratching at his chin. "Technically… Yes. In any case, never say I'm a bad friend ever again. Remember: I'm the one taking time out of my day to come help you out."

"Time out of your day?" I laughed. "If anything, I gave you something to do. Knowing you, you'd probably still be sleeping!"

"So? Wouldn't you?" he said.

"Of course not. Unlike some people, I like to be a productive member of society," I told him quite proudly.

"I doubt offering your loose butthole to random strangers constitutes as being 'productive,'" Shikamaru replied, using air-quotes.

"Oh, fuck off, dude!" I told him with a roll of my eyes. "Here I am trying to do something nice for a change by having some troubled youth contribute to society and this is the thanks that I get."

"Troubled youth?" Shikamaru said, fascinated. "That's funny because here I thought I was doing charity work for the LGBT community by helping some dumb, gay, blond kid whose lame nickname is Menma."

"Can we skip to the part where that edible kicks in and makes you shut the fuck up already?" I barked.

Shikamaru opened his mouth, no doubt ready to give some kind of snarky response of his own, but before he could speak, my sister shouted at the top of her lungs.

"NARETARD!"

"Stop calling me that!" I snapped as I instantly whipped my head in her direction.

"Mom and dad are finishing up! They want us to get in the car."

"But-"

"Nooooooooow," Karin dragged.

"Shit. Are you sure you don't want to stay Karin?" I asked her. "I could leave a note for the new homeowners saying that you have all your shots. Can't say much about the smell, though."

Karin scrunched up her nose, making her face far more ugly than usual. She put on her headphones, flipped me the finger, and made her way for the car. A satisfied smile stretched on my face because of her reaction.

"So… this is it, huh?" Shikamaru said with a long, depressing exhale that caused me to divert my attention back onto him. I could see that there was a melancholic look in his eyes, and it made me instantly sad. So much so that my smile faded away all together at the sudden realization that he was right: this was it.

All of a sudden, a terrible, dreadful feeling came over me. My chest felt heavy as if my lungs were made of iron, and there was a sinking feeling dipping into my stomach like a ship that had just gone under. I felt that same awfulness just as I had when the news of our departure had been delivered.

"Oh, man…" I let out in a short breath, feeling quite weary. It was all coming in: the feels. And they felt like too much to bear.

"It's going to be okay, Naruto. It'll be fine," I could hear Shikamaru assure me. His voice sounded faint, almost muffled, like if he were speaking through a thick glass. He placed a hand to my shoulder and squeezed, and the next time he spoke, he sounded a little clearer. "You'll be okay. You got this."

"Pffft," I spit out, chuckling nervously. "I know that. I'm just worried about you is all."

"Me? I'm not the one moving or going to a new school," Shikamaru replied.

"Yeah, but I'm looking at the bigger picture here, Shika. Like what's gonna happen to you after I leave? I mean I'm basically like your emotional support animal. You're gonna be a wreck without me."

"Well, you got the animal part right. Just replace emotional support with dirty and stupid," Shikamaru said with a sardonic sneer.

"Fuck you!" I laughed.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, bro, I've told you before: I'm flattered, but I don't swing that way," Shikamaru said, raising his brows in a flirtatious manner.

"Really? Had me fooled," I told him.

"Alright, alright. All bullshit aside. You gonna bring it in, or were you expecting a goodbye kiss?" Shikamaru said as he smooched his lips together and blew me a kiss.

"I regret ever telling you that I was gay," I said while shaking my head, pulling Shikamaru into a tight embrace and trying my damned hardest not to laugh.

"Nah. You know damn well it was the happiest day of your life."

It really was. Coming out to him was probably one of the greater highlights of my life because it was so damn easy and drama free, but there was no way that I would ever admit that to him. He was already a huge dick to me as it were. Telling him the truth would only inflate his ego all the more and bring on a world of never-ending teasing.

"Har-har-har! Don't you mean the happiest day of your life? You're always talking shit. I feel like you're a lowkey queer basher," I speculated.

"Hey! I don't discriminate. I hate everyone equally," Shikamaru shrugged. "You just gotta stop being a little bitch and try growing a pair sometime."

"I FUCKING HATE YOU!"

"I love you, too, man."

Holding onto Shikamaru made the thought of going away so much harder. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't want to leave here. I wanted to stay in my house and go bike riding with my best friend in the morning just like how we always used to. I didn't want things to change. Not yet.

Our embrace went on for a little while longer, but I guess it must have gone on for too long because Shikamaru awkwardly coughed, prompting me to pull away from him.

"Listen, you're not that far. You can always come and visit me whenever, and my dad is fixing up our old hoopty, so once that's up and running, I can make the drive out there."

"Dude, I'm gonna live like a thousand miles away!" I told him.

"It's only an hour," he told me calmly. "Forty miles at most."

"Still!" I exclaimed. "That's a lot. My parents won't be down to bring me, and there's no way in hell your lazy ass is gonna drive out there."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Shikamaru replied.

"It's just the truth, bro," I said straight up.

"You never know," Shikamaru said, letting out a good stretch. "For that ass, I just might," he continued with a wink.

"FUCK OFF!"

"Seriously, though, Naruto. I'm just a text or a phone call away. Keep in touch, and I'm definitely down to come chill with you on a weekend or something."

"Netflix and chill?" I said, lifting my eyebrows up and down.

"Shiiiiit. Can you buy me flowers first?"

We both burst into laughter.

"I'll even head down there during winter break, too. Hopefully by then you guys would have found a nice pet shelter for Karin," he told me, grinning like a mad fool.

"If there's an animal shelter out there that'll take her, then, fuck yeah, man, what am I waiting for!" I said with excitement.

"Hey!" Karin interrupted, causing both of us to look her way. "Are you two done blowing each other yet? Mom and dad are ready to leave!"

Her timing was spot on as the moment she arrived we burst into uncontrollable laughter, howling at the top of our lungs.

"Uggggh! You two are sooooo annoying! I'm so glad we're moving. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep instead of hearing all of the butt-fucking you two make at night."

"Hey!" I instantly went from being in a good mood to being pissed off. I got in my sister's face and instantly snapped at her. "Don't be saying shit like that, Karin."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Karin apologized. "I forgot. You're the one that bites the pillow. It's mostly Shikamaru who makes the noise."

"Urrgh!" I growled. "You know that me and Shika are just friends. Don't even play around like that. It took me a really, really long time to come out to mom and dad, and they've always been sketched out about what guy friends I bring over. Shikamaru is the only one they trust to spend the night!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever!" Karin dismissed. "Just say bye to your butt buddy, and let's go already! Unlike you, some people are actually looking forward to this new chapter in our lives."

"Shika," I called.

"Yeah?"

"You got any more of that edible?"

"Yeah. Why? You want some?"

"I figure it's gonna be a long ride home. Why not!"

"If you eat that shit then I'mma tell mom and dad!" Karin warned me.

"Bro, your sisters a narc!" Shikamaru laughed from behind.

"No, I'm not! Naruto just acts fucking dumb when he's high. Remember the time you guys got on the roof and he made it seem like he was gonna jump.

"Oh, shit! I forgot all about that," Shikamaru laughed. "Good times!"

"Not good times! Anyways, if you take some of that, then I'm singing like a canary. There's no way I'm putting up with that much amount of stupid again," Karin finished saying.

"Can it be a dead canary?" Shikamaru said from behind me.

"FUCK OFF!" she yelled.

"Calm your tits, Karin. The edible wasn't for me," I told her.

"Really? Then for who?" she asked.

"You! You spaz!" I told her.

"Me? Why the fuck would I take that?"

"How else will I get you to shut the fuck up for a whole hour?"

Karin flashed me another breathtaking view of her lovely middle finger as she rose it to my face and then walked away.

"Text me when you get to your new place," Shikamaru said, still chortling from before as he placed his hands into his jacket, looking cool. "Remember: pics or it never happened."

"Yeah, yeah. Just don't go asking for dick pics," I told him.

"I don't think they've made a zoom on the camera to see something that small yet," Shikamaru jabbed.

"Asshole!"

"I know, but I think you should get going man. Your mom doesn't look too happy that you're still here talking to me," he warned me, glancing to the side.

I turned to look over at what he was referring to, and I could see my mom staring at me through the car window. Shikamaru was right: she looked irritated with how long it was taking for me to say goodbye. If her hair could rise like snakes, that's how I'd imagine it to have been.

Having noticed that I looked her way, she rolled down her window and yelled, "What's the hold up, Naruto?"

"Ya' know, just saying goodbye to a dear childhood friend in which you've decided to heartlessly rip me away from! How do you sleep at night!" I shouted back.

"If I didn't have a problem ripping the umbilical cord that tethered you to my uterus, then I definitely don't have a problem doing this. GET IN THE DAMN CAR NOW!" my mother yelled.

"Gross…" I let out, disgusted by the choice of words she had used.

"Daaaaaaaaamn. Your mom is savage as fuck, Naruto," Shikamaru muttered low enough so that my mother couldn't hear him. "I see where you and your sister get your attitude."

"Hey!" I said in an aggressive tone, roughly poking him on the chest. "Never compare me to the dragons ever again! Got it?"

"Ow! My moobs!" Shikamaru said, rubbing his chest.

"Your man boobs will be fine, Shikamaru," I said in an annoyed tone.

"But they're so sensitive," he said, forcing me to facepalm my forehead.

"This is going to be a looooong car ride home," I sighed, heading towards the car.

As I opened the back door and hopped in to join my sister, I could see Shikamaru waiting on the sidelines. I guess he planned on seeing us off.

"Thank you so much honey for all of your help," my mother said to him.

"No problem, Mrs. Uzumaki," Shikamaru replied nonchalantly.

"What are you thanking him for?" Karin chimed in. "It's not like he helped move any of our stuff."

"Hush, Karin!" my mother reprimanded. She then turned back towards Shikamaru and said, "You know you're always more than welcome to come visit anytime" – there was another groan from Karin as she said this – "and we'll be more than happy to drop Naruto off during seasonal breaks if your parents allow it."

'Yeah, I'm sure they'll be cool with it. They like having Naruto over."

"Statistically speaking, I suppose somebody has to," Karin commented.

"Fuck off, Karin!" I grumbled.

"MENMA!" my mother snarled, turning around in her seat at once. "WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU?"

"Ahhhhh!" I let out, clawing at the air and releasing all of my inner frustrations in a cathartic conniption over the indignation I was experiencing.

"YOU HAD BETTER STOP USING THAT KIND OF LANGUAGE AROUND ME OR I'LL BE FORCED TO GET YOUR FATHER INVOLVED!"

I looked over at my dad who gave me a wave and laughed nervously.

"MINATO!" my mother snapped, annoyed.

"Sorry. I just… hate being the bad guy," he admitted.

"And what? You think I enjoy it?" she said.

"Yes!" both my sister and I said in unison which earned us a very vexed look from my mother.

"Kids, just listen to your mother," my dad sighed. "Especially you, Naruto."

"Okay, okay," I said in an annoyed tone as I bit down on my tongue. Even though I felt indignant over the fact that my sister always talks crap about me and gets away with it, no stern lecture for her or consequences whatsoever, I didn't feel like arguing about it because my dad was such a nice guy. I hated putting him in the middle of all this bullshit. He didn't deserve that.

"Okay, okay." My mother mocked me, making my blood boil. She then turned back towards Shikamaru and went back to using, what I like to call, was her 'fake voice.' She always used it whenever she was talking to company or strangers to make it seem like she was innocent or polite. "Anyways, you take care of yourself, sweetie. Remember that you can always reach out to us if you ever need anything. Also… lay off the pot! You really need to be focusing on school right now. It's going to be your senior year, and your grades are trash. Now I know you're much smarter than what you lead others to believe, so I'm going to need you to get it together, understood!"

"Geez…" Shikamaru sighed.

My mother made a somewhat grunting noise, and I'm not sure what exactly went down, but I had a pretty good idea as Shikamaru quickly went from being annoyed by my mother's small lecture to downright compliant as fear completely engulfed his face and he said, "Yes, ma'am!"

"She gave him the look," Karin commented.

"Yeah, I know," I whispered back.

"Uh… if you don't mind me asking, how did you know?" Shikamaru said after having recovered from my mom's murderous glare.

"Kid, you're talking to some of the biggest stoners of the 80's," my father answered.

"What!" All three of us said excitedly.

"Minato…" my mother sighed heavily.

"What?" he questioned.

"Not in front of the kids," she hissed.

"Oh, right," he chuckled lightly. "Sorry."

"Why don't we get going, yes?" my mother suggested.

"Sure," my father beamed. He then leaned over so he could speak past my mother and to Shikamaru as he said, "Give your parents our regards, and get home safely."

"I will. Thank you, Mr. Namikaze. You guys do the same," Shikamaru said. He then looked over at me in the backseat and smiled and waved as he said, "Later, dude. I'll see you soon, k'?"

"Later," I sighed.

"BYEEE!" Karin croaked like a frog, sticking out her tongue.

With that, we were off, driving away from what was basically my entire life. I turned around one final time to look at the home I was leaving behind. It was heartbreaking. Even more saddening was the sight of my best friend still standing where we had left him, waving goodbye as his frame became smaller and smaller until he could be seen no longer.


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