Chapter Fifteen: How to Be Honest

In the end, the last few weeks of Japan he had left were spent without talking much to Naruto. It wasn't that Naruto was avoiding him like before. They greeted each other normally every morning and they talked when necessary, but they didn't talk long and only conversation about their trivial everyday life passed between them. Naruto smiled when he saw Sasuke, but Sasuke knew that the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. When Naruto really smiled his blue eyes would light up brilliantly so that it looked like fired sapphires, making Sasuke's heart ache with love. But now…

Why are you smiling at me so painfully, Naruto? You don't have to overact like that, you know…

The night before Sasuke left, he finished packing and headed to Naruto's room. Naruto was curled up at the corner of his bed, facing the wall. He softly knocked on the door after he entered so Naruto would know that he came in, then asked, "Are you asleep, Naruto?"

Naruto shook his head.

"…Can I sleep with you tonight?"

Naruto remained still.

"I won't do anything. I promise. You can put a pillow between us if you want."

Naruto shifted, then sat up, rubbing his eyes. His eyes were red. He wordlessly held out his arms, and Sasuke crawled into them, resting his cheek against Naruto's chest. Naruto's heart was beating quickly, the little organ inside thumping rapidly and sending the tremors across the thin layers of clothing against his skin. Naruto smelled sweet. Strange. They used same bathing soap, didn't they? But somehow Naruto didn't smell like him. Sasuke inhaled the comforting, milky scent that Naruto permeated, then wrapped his arms around Naruto's waist and buried his face in Naruto's stomach.

"Naruto." His voice sounded muffled. "If you just say… If you'd only say, 'Don't go, Sasuke.' You don't have to promise anything… Just tell me not to go and I won't. Just ask me to stay by your side and I won't ever leave you…"

Sasuke felt Naruto patting his head. The hand was trembling, so the patting motions were jerky and sometimes his fingers got entangled in Sasuke's hair.

"Please, Naruto… Tell me not to go… Tell me not to leave you…"

Sasuke lifted his head. Dark orbs crashed into sapphire-colored orbs and the pain held in both boys' eyes ricocheted off of each other. Tears from Naruto's eyes dripped into Sasuke's eyes, and Sasuke blinked as salty liquid ran down his own cheek. Naruto wordlessly embraced Sasuke again, burying his head into Sasuke's neck.

"I don't want to go, Naruto… If you allow me to stay with you I'll never leave you…"

The thin arms that held Sasuke tightened.

"I promise, Naruto…"

'You're such a good liar, Sasuke,' Naruto wanted to say. But he didn't say anything. He just shook his head and continued to cry. He didn't want Sasuke to go. He knew that if he let Sasuke go now, he'll never see him again. But he liked Sasuke! He liked Sasuke so much, it hurt so much, he never wanted to let him go, and, and…!

"Be happy, Sasuke."

His voice sounded strangely strong and clear.

"You have to stay healthy, and make lots of friends, and maybe even get a cute girlfriend. We'll meet again someday, somewhere, and then… We'll introduce our wives and children to each other, and we'll laugh, and talk, and say, 'Ah, we were so silly when we were young, weren't we? Now that we think about it, it wasn't even that much of a big deal!' You can promise that, can't you?"

"Naru…!"

"You have to go with your parents and brother, Sasuke. You know that. You must go."

Sasuke gently pulled away from Naruto and pushed him down until his head rested on the pillows, then lowered his body and lay next to him. He pulled Naruto into his arms so that his arm pillowed Naruto's head. He kissed Naruto's forehead.

"Good night, Naruto."

"Sasuke…"

"I get it. I'm sorry for everything, and thank you for everything. Go to sleep."

"…"

Naruto closed his eyes. Sasuke closed his eyes, too. Despite the fact that they remained like that for the rest of the night, listening to each other's heartbeats and soft, steady breathing sounds, they both knew that each other was awake. When dawn came, Naruto shifted in Sasuke's arms. Blue eyes looked into black ones. Then Naruto leaned up and kissed Sasuke's lips.

"Good bye, Sasuke."

"…Good bye, Naruto."

Naruto didn't follow Sasuke's family to the airport. He had already said his goodbyes to the Uchiha family before Kakashi came to pick him up. Mother fussed over him and told him to eat well and study hard, while Father silently gave Naruto an envelope which, when Naruto opened in Kakashi's car later, contained allowance with note as to how much to use for what purposes. It seemed so like Father that Naruto had laughed through his tears at the car. Itachi messed up Naruto's hair and told him to call him anytime he needed advice or help, and Sasuke wordlessly but tightly held Naruto in his arms. Sasuke hugged him so hard that it hurt, but Naruto didn't say anything; he just patted Sasuke's back. Then Kakashi had came to pick Naruto up, and Naruto was pleasantly surprised to find his favorite teacher from his old school, Umino Iruka, sitting in the passenger's seat.

"Iruka-sensei! What are you doing here?" Naruto asked, grinning happily. Iruka smiled and poked Naruto's cheek.

"You seem well enough. Haven't you gained some weight?"

"Sure did! I grew taller, too! So what are you doing here?"

"Ah, well, that's… Um…"

"He's my wife," Kakashi cheerfully supplied. Naruto watched the two with a helpless smile as Iruka attempted to choke Kakashi to death, while Kakashi did his best to drive in a straight line. (Let us keep in mind that it's not good to goof around when one is driving, everyone.) Naruto turned his gaze to the skies. Would the plane that contained Sasuke be flying across the clear winter skies by now…?

Naruto unconsciously reached for the necklace that Sasuke gave him and his hands grasped nothing. Startled, Naruto looked down at his neck. His necklace was missing! Naruto paled. They had already driven quite a good distance from Sasuke's home. It would seem ridiculous to go all the way back just for a necklace, and Naruto wasn't even sure if the necklace was lost inside the home, but he had to check.

"Kakashi-sensei… Kakashi-sensei!"

"Aah? No toilets until we get home, Uzumaki-kun"

"Um, I'm really sorry, but please head the car back!"

"Haa!"

"I, I forgot something that's really important! Please head back!"

Naruto was in such a rush that it was difficult to fit the key into the lock and opening the door. He rushed into the room and bounded up the stairs, two at a time, until he got to his room. He remembered last night that the necklace was in the way when he and Sasuke were lying together, so he had taken it off and left it at his bedside. He burst into his room and stood at the entrance, panting, as his eyes scanned for the necklace. Luckily the necklace was where he left it last night, at the bed stand, and Naruto gingerly picked the necklace up. He was surprised to find two gemstones attached; two necklaces were tangled up together. Ah. Sasuke, too, had taken his necklace off last night. The necklace he had given Sasuke as his Christmas present…

Even though he knew Kakashi and Iruka were waiting for him downstairs, Naruto plopped on his bed and pulled the necklaces apart from each other. He held the necklace that Sasuke gave him against his cheek while eyeing the other one. The completely coal-black color of obsidian really reminded Naruto of Sasuke, and Naruto laughed a little before he dropped the necklace on the bedside table. If Sasuke would ever come back to claim it, that would be Sasuke's decision.

Naruto stood up and looked out at the window. He was delighted to find that the first real snow of the year was steadily falling down. He headed towards his door, smiling, when he bumped into someone. He backed away, stunned. Sasuke was standing there, panting, and he looked at Naruto with a shocked expression as well.

"What are you…?"

"Just how…?"

Sasuke's eyes strayed to Naruto's hand, where he was clutching the necklace tightly. Sudden fury twisted his face as Sasuke shouted, "You moron!"

"Sa…suke?"

"After you got hurt so much… Can't you still give her up!"

"What…?"

"Is that necklace that important to you that you'd bother coming back for it! Is that girl Sakura still so important! I can't believe it; even if you can't like me in return, I won't allow you to get hurt!"

"Sasuke… What the heck are you talking about…?"

Sasuke bit into his lower lip and looked at Naruto, confused, who also looked back at him with dumbfounded expression. He hesitantly held the necklace against his chest. "This necklace… You gave it to me, didn't you? You… asked Sakura to give it to me, because… this is my eye color? That's why… I also got you…"

"But I asked Sakura to say… that it's from her… Then you… All this time…?"

"Ah, because… Sasuke is…"

"Naruto…"

Sasuke grabbed Naruto's arms. "Why did you come back for this necklace?"

"Because Sasuke is… my precious friend…"

"No, Naruto." Sasuke slowly shook his head. He let go of Naruto and walked to the bedside table, where he picked up his own necklace. "I risked missing my flight for this necklace because it's from the person I love the most. It might not be much, but it's very important to me. By this time you must have been quite far away from here, but to ask Kakashi-sensei to return here at once when you could have came here some other day…"

Sasuke's eyes met Naruto's eyes.

"Naruto, you knew that that necklace was from me."

"I…have to go, Sasuke. They're waiting…"

"And yet you came back for it."

"Sasuke, your flight…"

"What am I to you, Naruto?"

"…"

Naruto lowered his eyes. The hand that held the necklace clenched tightly into fist, then he started to shake slightly. Sasuke stepped back as Naruto threw the necklace at his face. The force was so weak that the necklace harmlessly bounced off his cheek and dropped to his hands, making Sasuke blink in surprise. Tears were gathering at Naruto's eyes.

"Moron."

"Naru…?"

"Stupid, idiot, dumb ass, insensitive jerk, octopus, sea cucumber, pervert, lecher, ero machine."

"Naruto."

"I've… grown to like you, so what are you going to do about it…?"

"…"

"I've grown to like you so much! I have a crush on you, you moron! So what am I going to do now! What do I do when the one you like is Hinata! Uwaaaaan—"

"Wait a second, Naruto…" Sasuke shook his head. "I….think I'm missing out on something. Hinata is my cousin."

"Your…?"

"My very distant cousin. I don't even see her that often. I only met her once recently because she helped me find you when you were running around in the sleet trying to catch pneumonia, and I helped her research for her essay. Where did you get an idea that…? I've told you already. The only one I love is you."

"Liar…"

"Naruto, you meant that, right? About… liking me?"

"You cheater…"

"I can stay by your side?"

"You stupid liar! Mmmph!"

Naruto laughed and cried as Sasuke kissed him, holding him tightly. "I love you, I love you, I love you so much, Naruto," Sasuke throatily whispered as he rubbed his cheek against Naruto's cheek. Their cheeks were wet. "Thank you so much… Thank you…"

"Sasuke…"

"No more lies, Naruto. No more deceptions, no more secrets… I will only show my most truthful self to you, since I love you so much. And you will only show your truthful self to me… won't you?"

Naruto stood on his tiptoes and kissed Sasuke, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and smiling through his tears.

"Unlike you, I keep my promise."

"Merry Christmas, Naruto."

"Merry Christmas, Sasuke!"

Naruto eagerly leaned forward as Sasuke carved the turkey. Sasuke had phoned his parents to say that he was staying with Naruto, and they didn't seem surprised about it at all. He had to promise his parents that he wouldn't surprise them with grandchildren upon their arrival back at Japan and that he would be a good boy and use his condoms until they graduated high school. (He tried explaining to them that Naruto is a boy and couldn't possibly conceive, but they were very insistent anyway.) Kakashi seemed disappointed that Naruto would not live with him and his lover, but Iruka seemed happy that Naruto was so happy and told him to come to them anytime he needed help.

They were celebrating their first Christmas together. Sasuke was surprisingly good at cooking, so they had shopped together and cooked together (Naruto causing more trouble than helping), and now a small feast was spread out in front of them. Naruto, who was more interested in food than anything else, did not realize that Sasuke was hungrily thinking, 'tonight, for sure!'

Yes, they were still virgins.

As fluffy, large flakes of snow fell outside, the two shared delicious supper together as they laughed and talked. In the future there would be many more instances where they would cry and laugh. They would hurt each other, embrace each other, encourage each other, make each other angry, make each other sad, make each other happy. But they would be together, and that was all that was important at the moment. After the winter vacation, it would be spring again, and it would have been one year since they've met. A lot has happened in the nearly one year that they were together, happy moments and heart-breaking moments, but they didn't regret the miracle of their meeting each other. Above all, they would always have a place to return to each other, because in front of each other they could be the most truthful to themselves; they didn't have to wear a mask, nor did they have to keep secrets about their true identity.

Can you keep a secret?

- FINIS -

Thank you very, very much for reading this fan fiction. Though this year I was sporadic with my updates, thank you so much for staying with me to the end and waiting and reading and responding to this little story. Your reviews always made me think twice about my stories, and helped enormously with the writing process. It was very enjoyable to work on this story, and I hope it was pleasurable for your reading, too.

This story will probably be arc 1 out of trilogy (if I can muster up enough energy to write the other 2 arcs. -laughs-). Would everyone like it better if I continued the second arc under this story, starting from chapter 16? Or would it be better to start the new arc as a different story? (I'm leaning towards the latter, but what really matters is what is more convenient for everyone.) I'd appreciate it very much if you'd tell me which is better for you in the review. Thank you so much, and I hope to see everyone again soon:D