Song of a Marionette

Written By: Yaoi no Hime

Beta'd By: Yaoi no Megami

Notes: This chappie didn't come out as quick as I intended it to…oh well. Okay then, answering some faqs: No, Kakashi does not know just what's going on with Naruto and Gaara. He was just being a trusted mentor and getting Sakura and Sasuke off Naruto's back. Whether or not he believed Naruto's 'sickness' is up to you. I just wanted to clear that up.

Revision March 2005: NO REVISION SILLY! NEW CHAPTER! W00t! Enjoy people! The next one SHOULD be out in a few days.

I leave you with your misery

A friend who won't betray
I pull you from your tower

I take away your pain
And show you all the beauty you possess
If you'd only let yourself believe that we are born innocent
Believe me Adia, we are still innocent
It's easy, we all falter, does it matter?

Sarah McLachlan

Chapter 3: Adia


Hyuuga Neji sat on the edge of the 'porch' outside his room. There wasn't really much to look at except the small koi pond his father had put there years ago, but sitting outside where he knew he wouldn't be disturbed always helped him think better.

And at that moment, he was desperate for a clear mind.

For once in his life, Neji was dealing with problems that had nothing to do with his family. Rather than family issues, he had to deal with a tough matter of the heart and it all started during the Chuunin Exams. He sighed and ran his bare feet across the soft earth, heeding no attention to the fact that his feet would be considerably dirty by the time he went back inside. The Chuunin Exams had played a major part in his life, changing him for all the better and he had one person to thank for his fortune…

...Uzumaki Naruto…

Neji couldn't help but flush a little as he thought back to his most recent dilemma. Never had he thought there would be a day so early in his life when he'd develop a crush for the first time. Never would anyone think that he, Hyuuga Neji, could have a crush on anyone…especially one Uzumaki Naruto. Hell, it came as an unhealthy shock to him the night he woke up to a sweaty body and soiled shorts after a rather…erotic…dream of the blonde genin.

To say he was fiercely embarrassed would be the understatement of the year. He was down right mortified and more than glad it wasn't time for his daily wake up call from Hinata-sama. Just the thought of someone seeing him in such an embarrassing situation would've ruined the front he put up for the world to see.

Speaking of Hinata…

He was more than positive that the kunoichi was also pretty attracted to their fellow genin. That thought alone was enough to worsen his already sour mood. That was just what he needed…a rival in the race for Naruto's attention. Then again, she was pretty much a pushover since she couldn't even approach the blond without stuttering, getting red in the face, and retreating before getting a single legible sentence in.

He smirked.

The blonde was his for the taking.

Neji then took the time to look at his feet…which were now covered with dry mud. He glared at the offending limbs in disgust before standing up and heading back in for a shower.

Naruto frowned and glared at his steaming bowl of ramen.

Seven days.

It'd been seven days since he'd last seen his redheaded lover and, even though they'd only been together twice, Naruto was starting to feel the pains of being sexually frustrated.

That frustration seemed happy to be pointing out that no matter how much he hated Sasuke, the Uchiha was still as good-looking as they came. At least the seven Gaara-less days were enough to restore the heat in his and Sasuke's rivalry…

"Is something wrong with the ramen kid? I've never seen you look so disdainfully at it before."

The Ichiraku owner's question snapped Naruto out of his haze and he shook his head. "Nah, ojisan…just got some things on my mind."

"Well then, I'm sure a free bowl would cheer you up some, no? It's on the house kid." The old man smiled before getting back to work.

Naruto grinned, definitely uplifted and dug into his food. "Thanks a bunch ojisan!"

He heard a light chuckle and smiled at the man he'd known since Iruka had introduced him to the wonders of the ramen world. He was one of the few adults in their village that wasn't against him for having Kyuubi sealed within him. Even if the majority of the village hated his guts he was more than glad to have a FEW of them accept him.

Then, unfortunately, his thoughts whirled back around to one Uchiha Sasuke.

No matter how hard he tried, trained, and trusted, the Uchiha never even gave him a chance. Never once was he accepted for anything. In the eyes of Sasuke, he was just an idiot; nobody worth associating himself with. It hurt, but Naruto wondered why he even bothered to hope that Sasuke would ever consider him a friend, nevertheless anything more.

With one last sigh he broadened his shoulders and wolfed down the rest of his ramen.

No use letting Sasuke-bastard make his bad mood worse.

He stood up and threw a grin at the owner. "Thanks ojisan! See ya tomorrow!"

Exiting the shop, he looked around the town he fondly called home. The villagers weren't exactly what you would call the understanding type, but it didn't change the fact that he considered Konohagakure his home. It was the place he was born and raised. The same place where he met Iruka-sensei, his father figure in life, and the third and fifth Hokage, who he loved and respected a good deal. This was the place he thrived to protect and a few problems here and there weren't enough to deter his path.

Having not really been paying attention to anything around him, Naruto was surprised when his stroll through the village was interrupted as he ran into someone who'd been in front of him.

"What the hell…" He was still rubbing his head when a hand appeared in front of his face. Looking up, he was shocked to see who the person offering the hand was. "Neji…?"

The said Hyuuga gave a small smile and kept his hand out. "Afternoon, Uzumaki."

Shaking off his initial shock Naruto took the hand offered to him, allowing himself to be pulled up. Never had Neji bothered to be nice to him…it was really strange. He was about to dust off his bottom when he noticed Neji still had a firm grip on his hand. Naruto flushed slightly and looked up at Neji in question, "Ano…I'm up now…you can let go of my hand…"

Neji gave himself an inward smirk at Naruto's flushed face. The blonde was just too cute for his own good. He slowly slid his hand from Naruto's, deliberately letting it linger longer than necessary. Another blush graced Naruto's face. This time he smirked outwardly; the boy was too easy…

"How are you today?"

Naruto gave Neji an odd look. First kindness, now he was trying to spark a conversation? Something was definitely up with Hyuuga Neji. "Uh…okay. Not to sound rude or anything, but…why are you talking to me? I mean, you never bothered to before. Not since the Chuunin Exams."

The Hyuuga shrugged, "Just feeling particularly friendly today. No problem with that?"

Giving Neji another odd look Naruto shrugged as well. "Okay…well…I'll be on my way then." 'Weirdo…'

'I dunno, brat. It seems as if he has another motive in mind.'

Thoroughly surprised, Naruto nearly gave a start before remembering that Neji was still in front of him. 'What the fuck? Stupid fox, what're you doing in my head?'

'It's a newfound gift. You'd better pay attention, kid, the Hyuuga is getting suspicious. We can talk later.'

'Eh! Fine…'


The Kyuubi host was startled as he heard his companion's voice. "Eh?"

"I just asked if I can come with you wherever you're going."

Naruto wearily eyed the Hyuuga, not really sure if he should accept the offer. The boy seemed to be acting a little strange and had a certain look in his eye that Naruto was sure he'd seen somewhere before. Yet, being the 'nice' person that he was he decided to let him follow him anyway.

In the back of his mind he was positive there was an amused snort from his demon 'companion'.

"Where are you headed anyway?"

Naruto turned to look at Neji. "I really don't know. I was just wandering until I ran into you."

Nodding slowly, Neji turned his head back to stare in front of him as they walked. The silence wasn't exactly uncomfortable as he was next to the person he desired to be with, but he wished he could be a little less antisocial and spark up a conversation. He felt a little out of place being in the company of such a loud and boisterous person. He was pulled out of his thoughts as Naruto boldly grabbed his arm and started to run down the path, opposite of the direction they were heading in at first. It was a moment before he could come out of his shock to ask where Naruto was dragging him to.

With a grin Naruto gladly replied. "It's no fun just walking around doing nothing so we're going to eat at Ichiraku's! Sure I just ate there but I really wasn't in the mood for any more than one measly bowl and now that I'm done sorting out my thoughts and I have some company with me, I thought that we could go back and eat some more. Sure it's not the most fun thing in the world to do but it surely keeps me happy all the time and the owner knows me as his best customer so he may sneak in a free bowl or two, though I just had a free bowl not too long ago. You wouldn't mind paying would you? I'm really low on cash right now since we haven't been getting any worthwhile missions and Iruka-sensei hasn't treated me to ramen in so long!"

Giving a small smile at the panting boy, obviously catching his breath having said so much in one go, Neji shook his head. "I wouldn't mind paying at all…Naruto."

Naruto gave Neji a thankful smile, silently glad he didn't have to go over all his financial problems with anyone. Maybe the Hyuuga genin wasn't so bad.

After all, he was paying for the ramen.

It wasn't long before they made it to Ichiraku's….though that may have had something to do with an impatient Naruto close to literally dragging Neji up the street to the ramen bar.

"Yo, Ojisan!"

The owner turned around and smiled slightly at the boy. "Back for more now, Naruto-kun?"

Naruto flashed a grin in response and, again, dragged Neji forward. "Yeah! I brought someone with me to. He's paying of course, 'cause I'm penniless at the moment!"

"Alright then, a full-sized bowl of ramen on the house then!" With that, the middle-aged man returned to the kitchens to finish up his orders.

Neji let himself be lead to two adjacent seats and took a look around the small place. He silently wondered how often Naruto visited, since he seemed to know the owner so well. He was about to ask the blonde when a steaming hot bowl of ramen made its way in front of him. Neji looked up to see the owner grinning down at him.

"The kid comes here practically every day. Best costumer this place has ever had." He set another bowl down in front of an equally grinning Naruto. "Well, enjoy kids. I got work to do."

With that said, the owner walked back into the kitchens, leaving the genin in companionable silence. Naruto usually wasn't one who dealt well with silence, having been along most of his life, but sitting with Neji had him at ease. He didn't really know the Hyuuga that much but after the Chuunin Exams, they were considerably nicer towards one another. Maybe he could find a friend in Hyuuga Neji…one to replace that bastard Uchiha.

"Ne, Neji-kun?"

'Kun?' A light flush settled on Neji's cheeks as he turned to face his friend (?) in acknowledgement. "Hm?"

Naruto played a little in his food before turning and looking at Neji with an unreadable expression. "What makes you fight for Konoha?"

Slightly taken aback by the question, it took Neji a few moments to answer. "…I don't know. I guess because I was trained from birth to become a shinobi of Konohagakure. I never had much of a choice in the matter, so I do what has to be done."

"Ehhh? You're a shinobi because your clan wants you to be one? That's not a very good reason…"

Neji flinched.

"What about you?"

Naruto looked a little startled. Nobody had ever really asked him why he wanted so hard to become a shinobi, except maybe Haku but he was dead so…

"I wanted to become acknowledged by the villagers…not too much to ask for, ne?"

Neji just nodded in agreement and they finished their food in no rush, occasionally engaging in small talk about this and that.

Naruto hummed to himself as he fished through his pockets for the key to his apartment.

It had been a wonderful day.

What started out as just another day for brooding and wondering about Gaara had become a day for free ramen and a new friendship. Who'd have thought that Neji-kun could be so talkative? Just as he was about to open the door, he heard someone calling his name and looked over the rail down at the ground.

"Ah! Shizune-san, hey!"

Shizune smiled lightly and started up the stairs towards Naruto. "Ah, Naruto-kun! Good to see you again!"

He just smiled in response and opened the door to his apartment. "Would you like to come in? It's kinda messy but…"

She shook her head. "No thank you. As a matter of fact, I'm here to see you."


"Hai, Tsunade-sama has requested your presence in her office due to an important matter."

Naruto frowned and shut his door again. What could Tsunade want with him that was so important? There hadn't been any attacks or anything recently and any missions above C rank were pretty rare in their peaceful days.

Could it be…?

He nodded and gestured for Shizune to lead the way to Hokage Tower.

If his guess was right, he'd need a lot of will power to stop himself from screwing up his lies and getting into a sticky situation. To be called to see her after seeing Gaara in Konoha could only mean that Hidden Sand was up to something.

But why would she call on him?

Naruto grimaced. All the heavy thinking was giving him a migraine. He was about to ponder more on his situation when he ran into someone for the second time that day. 'Geez…I'm such a klutz today.' Feeling eyes on him, he looked up and noticed Shizune giving him an odd look.

"We're here already, Naruto-kun."

He blinked, looking up at the tall tower.

Indeed they were.

That just proved his theory that thinking too much wasn't good for one's health.

Giving her a nod, he picked himself up and Shizune lead the way up the tower, explaining to the Anbu guards that Tsunade requested their presence. They gave hard looks in Naruto's direction, but let the two pass without word.

Naruto frowned.

Damned adults…

Shizune stopped in front of the door and gave a knock. To Naruto's surprise, they received an answer from Tsunade, showing that she was indeed awake at her desk for once. Oh yeah…this had to be important if Tsunade was actually awake at her desk. He gulped and entered the door.

Bowing, Shizune brought them to the front of the room. "Tsunade-sama."

Tsunade gave a smile to her friend and nodded her head in salutations. "Thank you Shizune, you may leave. I wish to talk to Naruto alone now."

Giving another bow, Shizune silently made her way out the office.

Almost instantaneously, the smile equipped on the Hokage's face was dropped and she gave a heavy stare towards a fidgety Naruto.

He didn't like the way she looked at him…


He looked up at her, giving no reply.

"I suspect you're wondering why I have called you here in the guise of an important matter."

The blonde just gave a slow nod.

"Well, that's because this is an important matter. Recently there have been several reports from Anbu and jounin guards of sightings of nin from a certain country. Are you aware of what country they are from?"

Putting up an innocent act, he shook his head in the negative.

"It seems Sand nin have somehow gotten past the gate guards and are staking the city. Now, since the whole Sound/Sand incident, we have indeed been on shaky grounds with both countries. The events of these past weeks have been giving us less reason to be welcoming with Hidden Sand. We are wondering why they would be sneaking into Konoha and recently, there have been rumors that some of Sand are siding with Akatsuki. You are aware what that means?" She finished her short speech and gave him a soft look.

Akatsuki with Sand…

Well, shit.

His fucked up life had just gotten worse.

In response to Tsunade's query he nodded his head and spoke for the first time since entering the office. "They're after me. They're after Kyuubi."

The Fifth nodded gravely. "On normal circumstances I would send a pair of Anbu to guard you but…it seems the village is getting paranoid of all things, including you and the demon within you. I doubt that if I were to assign such guards to ensure your safety, they wouldn't bother to do a good job of it so I'm just warning you to look out for yourself." She got up and walked around her desk, stopping in front of Naruto. "I want you to stay safe, Naruto."

Feeling slightly guilty he couldn't form any words and just nodded in agreement. Before he could do anything else, he was enveloped in a tight hug from the busty woman, being practically smothered by her large cleavage. It was as if she was holding her for her dear life.

"Be safe Rokudaime-sama." She whispered in a playful manner.

Sixth Hokage, Uzumaki Naruto.

That had a pretty cool ring to it, of course that's because he was born to be Hokage someday, he thought to himself.

Going along with the joke he quickly hugged her back. "Hai, Godaime-sama!"

Finally she let go of him, straightening up. "Well then. Have a good day Naruto. Come by to see me more. It has been a while since we talked together, no?"

He nodded. It had been a long time since he'd taken the time to visit Tsunade and have a friendly chat with her. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind. See ya baa-chan." With that said, he ran out the door.

Passing by Shizune on the way out, he gave her a wave and went about his way. Once out of the tower, Naruto sighed and looked up at the sky. It was getting pretty late. He did a quick stretch and headed down the street. 'I guess I'd better get home now...'

'Now's as good a time to talk as ever.'

Naruto was startled out of his daze by the 'voice in his head'. 'Kyuubi?'

'Of course, baka gaki. Who else would it be?'

For some reason it irked Naruto for the voice to sound so mocking. 'What the hell do you want? I'm trying to bathe here.'

'...Indeed. Quite the sight for sore eyes...'

A flush spread across Naruto's body as he thought of how strange it was to have 'his' demon ogle at his body. Then the flush faded as he remembered just WHAT the demon looked like. 'Ugh, gross pervert fox.'

An eerie chuckle echoed through the damp dark halls of Naruto's mind and, unconsciously, he shivered. It was more than weird to hear that deep, malicious chuckle in his head.

'Kono gaki...there is so much more to me than you could possibly begin to imagine. Maybe I'll show you when you're sleep.'

Naruto grimaced, quickly grabbing a towel and drying himself off. "Stupid animal..." Getting no smartass comment thrown back at him, Naruto guessed the demon was asleep. He gave a sigh and exited the bathroom, with only a towel hanging around his waist. He was about to make his way into the kitchen to get a bite of food before bed when a sharp tap on his door distracted him.

'Eh...? Who could that be at this time of day?'

With complete disregard of his state of dress, he went to answer the door, getting annoyed by the constant tapping. "Alright already! I'm coming, geez!"

He flung the door open and had a glare set on his face, ready to mouth off at the person at his door. Yet, he didn't get a chance to as he was shocked to see Neji standing there (a little red in the face...?) holding what looked like grocery bags.

"Neji-kun! What're you doing here at this time?"

To say Neji was in shock would be an understatement. It was definitely his lucky day to be greeted by one practically naked Uzumaki Naruto. Surprisingly, he was speechless for once and just held up his bags to show.

Naruto blinked and peered at the bags. "Eh? What's this?" Without waiting for permission, he peeked inside and nearly squealed in excitement. "FOOD!" With no hesitation in mind, he pulled Neji inside and gave him a brief, but firm hug of appreciation, before closing the door behind them.

He grinned. "What'd you bring the food for?"

Hastily regaining his composure Neji slipped off his shoes and turned back to Naruto. "I thought you'd appreciate some homemade Ramen for dinner..."

"Ah! Really! You can cook, Neji-kun?"

Neji nodded and, again, held up the ingredients. "Though it's not really necessary to learn at the Clan house, I just picked it up along the way."

Naruto was about to respond when a sudden thought came to mind and he aimed a frown at Neji. "Ne...why are you being so nice today, anyway? You never were before."

Somewhat sheepishly, Neji gave Naruto a not-so-smile. "I guess it's to apologize for the way I treated you and Hinata-sama before. I've already apologized to Hinata-sama."

"...Cool." Naruto replied, kind of at lost what to say to this seemingly foreign Hyuuga Neji. Yet, he had no objections. After loosing a close friend such as Sasuke, Naruto was glad to be making another friend.

Neji nodded and headed to the little kitchen. "We should start now..."

That was enough to get Naruto going as he rushed to his bedroom and threw on his pajamas, then rushed after Neji to get started on their cooking. The process was going just to Neji's liking as they often brushed hands and bodies, helping each other out as they went along. For Naruto, he was again feeling just a tad bit on the frustrated side. Even if he'd convinced himself that all the touching they were doing was innocent, his body couldn't help but flush.

Finally, after making a total mess of the helpless kitchen, they were done and Naruto couldn't help but feel giddy as they sat at his table ready to taste to product of their hard work. He gave his cooking partner a bright grin and picked up the chopsticks. "Itadakimasu!"

Picking up his chopsticks as well, Neji gave Naruto a half-smile in return. "Itadakimasu."

Naruto was the first to take a taste and immediately, after taking the first bite, dug into the rest of the bowl. "It's so good! You're such a great cook, Neji-kun!"

The Hyuuga flushed lightly and muttered a quiet thanks, digging into his own bowl. "You did most of the work, Naruto."

"Yeah, but I couldn't have done it without your help." He peered into his bowl of ramen and smiled solemnly. "I'm so useless...I can't even take care of myself without someone's help..."

Neji was taken aback by the sad tone creeping into the cheerful boy's voice. "Naruto..."

Smiling again, Naruto looked up at Neji. "But...I'm glad you're my friend now Neji. And that you're helping me out..."

"You're welcome." Neji replied with a nod.

Setting his chopsticks down, Naruto looked up at the clock hanging on his wall and did a double-take. It was well into the night. Had they really been cooking in the kitchen for that long?

Neji looked up at the clock as well and decided it was time for him to head home. They both got up, Neji helping Naruto clean up the mess and put away the left over groceries before leaving.

"Oyasumi, Neji-kun."

Neji paused at the door and turned back to Naruto. Then, without any warning, he gave the blonde a quick peck on the lips before closing the door behind him, making his way home.

The apartment was deathly silent as Naruto stood staring at the door where his newest friend left through.

Had Neji...


He prepared for bed, confused and thanking the gods that Gaara hadn't seen that kiss.

End of Chapter 3

O.O DOOD! I like...hit the 4000 word mark! Yay for me! Anyway, this chapter is out with 2 more chapters coming up and a few SLIGHT changes to the first 2 chapters. Just some words switched and added, a lemon sorta cleaned up, and dates added as they are important.

Preview of Chapter 4:

It was so peaceful in this forest...

Yet, the peace didn't really last as Naruto found himself suddenly being roughly picked up and pinned to another tree.

Thoroughly startled, Naruto didn't even have enough time to react and he cried out as his head painfully collided with the tree he was pinned against. He winced and groaned as he felt his warm blood trail down his neck. "Shit! What the hell..."

He quickly stopped his complaint as he opened his eyes and was suddenly peering into Gaara's own angry ones.

To put it lightly, the Sand nin looked pissed.