In the last chapter: Naruto and Sasuke played a drunken game of exchanging secrets – Naruto telling why he can't play b-ball and Sasuke telling about the Itachi scandal. The Uchiha, having tricked the kitsune, still has one question left…

Author's note: Sorry for the long absence and lack of updates. I was not in the states but studying abroad. I'll be better about adding chapters, so look out for updates to Dead Last and Give You Back as well!


By Rosesareblue (fangirl shitte kuuudasai, muhahaha)

Chapter Thirty-four

"On a scale of one to ten, how drunk would you say you are, dobe?" Sasuke asked, putting his feet on the table and simultaneously crushing the karaoke remote. Some numbers were put in accidentally, and an old Morning Musume song started playing.

"Um, twelve," Naruto slurred, getting to his feet as the title "Love Machine" flashed on screen. "Drunk enough to admit that I know the words to this song and I's gonna SING IT BABY!"

And he did. He got up and sang, complete with the idol group's dance moves:


(Loosely translated: On you, it's completely wasted (fu fu))


(Because I~~~ have a really NICE BODY)


(I'm saying it myself 'cause…)


(It's not for free! Not at all!)


(If it's too hot, you should cool down (fu fu))


(Because it's lonely for EVERYBODY)


(No one knows (fu fu))


(When their romance will catch fire)



That's as far as Naruto got because Sasuke, with an athlete's reflexes, ripped the cord of the karaoke machine out of the wall with a crackle of electricity.

"All right," the Uchiha heir snapped, glowering at the blond who eeped. "We are going home now."

"Eh!" Naruto groaned. "You are just pissed because my NICE BODY is wasted on yoooouuu. DYNAMITE!"

"Shut up and help me finish off the rest of this beer. You were slacking the last couple minutes, just 'cause you spouted some sappy crap about your life," Sasuke sneered, but his eyes were smiling.

Sasuke and Naruto staggered back to the dorm, both erupting into cynical snickers at the smallest provocations (like streetlights changing, cars honking, etc). Finally, when they reached the camp grounds, the two hung around the bordering fence – just barely supporting each other's body weight.

"So, dobe, last question."

"What are you talking about?" Naruto slurred.

"The game we were playing," the Uchiha pressed. "It's your turn to tell me a secret."

The blond muttered grouchily, but waited for Sasuke to ask.

The brunet, for his part, seemed to be rousing from his stupor, at least enough to be careful in his phrasing, "Gaara of the Sand. You… you like him?"

The answer was instantaneous. Naruto blotched crimson, sputtering. "What-what-what?"

Sasuke smirked, but he was clenching his fists where the kitsune couldn't see. "Why?"

Naruto swallowed thickly. "Um, well, he's good at basketball…? Shit, I sound like total girl. I mean, there's that but also… I have a feeling about him."

"You have a feeling?" Sasuke repeated, incredulously.

"Yeah, like he needs me. And I need him." Naruto froze when he realized Sasuke was cracking up. "Hey, stop laughing!"

"Watched too many chick flicks, usuratonkachi?" the Uchiha sneered. "You don't know one thing about Gaara. He's the wrong guy for romance."

"Who said anything about romance?" the blonde snapped back. "I'm talking about something else, it's like Gaara's aura is – oh forget it. I don't have to explain anymore of this to you. I answered the question, right?"

Sasuke was still chuckling softly.

"Hey!" Naruto pouted. "We made it to first base, y'know. Gaara and me."

The Uchiha was unfazed. "First base, huh? What's that for you, dobe? Meeting each other's eyes and getting a… feeling?"

"Screw you. I made out with him."

"Like hell you did," Sasuke leaned back against the fence and adjusted Naruto's body slouching against him. They were close enough that the brunet couldn't tell whether the alcohol he was smelling was from his own breath or the kitsune's. Naruto was glaring up at him reproachfully, his cheeks flushed.

"What do you know about kissing?" Sasuke asked, looking at Naruto's pink lips almost touching his shirt collar. "I bet you've never kissed anyone in your life."

The dobe was drunk enough to admit, "I had a dream of kissing you once, so don't act all too superior."

"Interesting? When was that?"

Naruto looked away. "There was this one time when I fell asleep in the gym, and I had this whack dream of kissing you okay?"

"That wasn't a kiss, idiot, that was just a peck on the cheek – " Sasuke stopped in mid-sentence, flaming in having showed too much concern. "Anyway, that wasn't a kiss."

"Haaa…?" Naruto was smiling like a cat now. He poked the taller boy's chest. "What, you're becoming conscious of me just because we faked we were dating today? Who's the girl, Uchiha?"

"Who's the one with crappy sleeping habits where they make out with random passersby?" Sasuke demanded. "Stop with the goofy grin."

"No." Naruto stuck out his tongue. "Besides, I thought my kissing you was just a peck on the cheek and no big deal

It was probably because the dobe had dared show his tongue that the Uchiha lowered his head slightly. Due to their proximity it was enough for their noses to collide, their breathes to mix.

"This," Sasuke whispered, "is a kiss…"

One step closer, and their lips met. Sasuke linked his hands through the chain fence as he pushed Naruto against it. Their kiss tasted strong and bitter, like all the alcohol, like all those secrets they'd just shared, like their curious friendship. Still Naruto's lips were soft, soft, and so was his tongue when the Uchiha pushed his own into the cavern of the blonde's mouth. A shiver went through Sasuke's entire body, and he couldn't tell whether he was being overtaken by the effects of beer, Naruto's pheromone, his own emotions – relief from having confessed his family's dark history, jealousy towards Gaara or Naruto, anger, guilt, tenderness, maybe even…

Naruto withdrew and Sasuke knew. He knew what he felt for the dobe that was now grinning at him impishly.

"That's a kiss, huh?" Naruto murmured, encircling Sasuke's head with his slender arms. "It's not worth all the hype…"

"Teme," the Uchiha growled. "Don't fuck with me."

"Shouldn't that come after more kissing...?" Naruto whispered, and pushed his head up so that his lips met Sasuke's again.

Both boys slowly sank into the grass, kissing.

Sasuke and Naruto woke up approximately around dawn, out on the fields under the candy colored sky. Both had matching headaches, and found themselves without an article of clothing.

"At least you don't have a shirt on," Sasuke complained, hopping into his jeans. "Think about how I feel, waking up on grass without pants. Fuck, my legs itch."

Naruto snickered. "I was smart enough to fall asleep on your chest so I'm fine-is this a kiss mark? Shit, it is! I'll kill you, jerk."

"We should be glad we weren't discovered and kicked off our teams for underage drinking." Sasuke muttered, rotating his shoulder.

"Are pigs flying? Why's the Uchiha looking on the bright side?" Naruto wiggled into his shirt. "Hey, you think drunk kissing is also banned in the student manual?"

The boys glanced at each other at that, and smirked.

"I'm going to get a shower in before morning practice." Sasuke started jogging towards his dorm, half-turning to call, "What about you, dobe?"

"I'll see you in a minute, then," Naruto said, grinning.

Neji was the first to spot Naruto's approach, from his spot on the dorm steps where he'd spent a sleepless night. Yesterday, Shikamaru and Chouji had went off with Temari, saying they'd call if needed. The others had gone to sleep after that, Kiba saying that there was only a problem if Naruto didn't show up by morning practice.

And here was Naruto, in plenty of time for morning practice. Only Neji had gotten so needlessly riled up, actually lost his cool. Why? Because Naruto had once risked his life, his basketball career for the Konoha team? No, the answer was from before that. Way before that. Since the day they'd met.

So today, this moment, Neji was going to come clean.

"Hey you." Naruto waved, spotting his friend and speeding up to meet him. "You're up early. I was a dumbass last night and got trashed. Are the others up? I'm going to take a quick shower… Neji? Is something wrong?"

Naruto's yellow hair was bright, even in the faint morning light. Wherever Naruto was, it was bright, warm, real. The dark haired boy swallowed thickly. Then –

"I love you, Naruto."

The kitsune froze, staring at the pale boy in front of him. Then, Naruto forced out a loud laugh and said with cute nonchalance.

"I love you too, Neji."

Neji shook his head furiously, determined – desperate – to get the point across now. In his panic, the stoic boy was rambling, actually rambling, "No, Naruto. It's not the same thing."

This time the tremor in his voice was undeniable.

"I love you, Naruto. I – I love you in the way – in the way I won't mind devoting my life – my everything – my – "

Neji bit down hard on his lip to stop himself from babbling anymore, because Naruto's shock was turning, melting, into one of quiet – what was that emotion? What was it? That moment, Neji choked. That was, that expression was –

"I know, Neji." Naruto looked at his feet. "I know you love me."

What was he saying? Neji didn't understand what Naruto was saying. And why was that expression still on Naruto's face? Didn't Naruto understand? Neji was giving Naruot his heart to accept, to trample, to do anything the blonde wanted to with it so why – why the fuck did Naruto look, so, so…


"Too much, Neji." Naruto's lips were moving. "You love me too much."


And suddenly, Naruto was in Neji's arms. The Hyuuga felt a wave of delight. Neji embraced the blonde close, his confusion at Naruto's answer easily distracted by the immediate heat from the smaller boy. Neji's racing heart quickened to almost a loud hum, so fast that the individual beats were lost, especially in contrast to…

Neji stiffened, his world shattering around his ears. Naruto's heart was keeping a constant, almost serene, beat. So that was it. That was what Naruto felt…

The blonde's voice found Neji again in his darkness.

"Sorry. I'm really sorry." Naruto leaned his forehead against the taller boy's chest. "I tried. I knew, so I tried."


"I can't catch up to you, Neji."

The slim shoulders quaked in a sigh.

"Hey, I wouldn't mind devoting everything I have to you either but – I still love you too little."

Naruto's last words rang in Neji's ears. Neji let the other's embrace sustain him before he found his voice again. He stroked Naruto's bright hair and said, perfectly coolly now, "You shouldn't have to try, dobe."

"You are right," Naruto murmured. "It's not the same thing."

Waiting for Sasuke in front of the Sound dormitory was Sabaku no Gaara. The Uchiha slowed his jog, his black eyes meeting the redhead's piercing green glare, and asked knowing the answer, "Why are you here?"

Gaara tossed his head, the gorgeous smile on his face not reaching his eyes. "Where were you all night? I was looking for you."

And Sasuke replied, matter-of-factly, "I was with Naruto."

The brunet blocked the other's punch just in time, else it'd have knocked out a couple teeth.

"I already made it clear to everyone in this fucking camp not to mess with Naruto because he's mine." Gaara's voice was calm, though both boys were now locked hand to hand, trying to push each other back. "I especially made it clear to you, Uchiha."

"As it turns out," Sasuke sneered back, his grip tightening, "the dobe and I might be friends. And, speaking from experience, I can't let a friend of mine date a psychopath like you."

"What do you know about friendship?" Gaara hissed. "You are the one that let ours run dry – you think your life's fucked up, Uchiha? You think you're lonely? You don't have any clue what it means to be lonely!"

For a split second, Gaara had the upper hand – and that was enough for him to kick Sasuke in the stomach and send him flying back.

"You are a mistake I made once," Gaara said. "One I'm going to correct before Naruto."

Before the redhead could attack the Uchiha once more, Temari was in between the boys. Shikamaru, Chouji, and Kankuro ran up to join them.

"STOP IT, STOP IT!" she cried. "No more of this… this crazy stuff. Please, Gaara, you are going to get us all kicked out of the tournament – "

"I am only going to say this once, Temari," her brother snapped. "Move."

Sasuke got to his feet too. "Get out of the way, manager. I can deal with this myself."

"No, Gaara, stop – gyaaaa!"

Three things happened almost simultaneously: Sasuke and Gaara lunged at each other; Shikamaru blocked a punch that would have hit Temari in the back of the head; and there was a sickening crunch as Shikamaru's shooting hand bent back in a way that shouldn't be possible. The Konoha player fell to his knees clutching a broken hand.

A/N: That's the end of chapter 34. All comments, complaints, suggestions, and speculations are welcome, especially since we are nearing the end of this story (canya believe it?)! I suspect maybe 1, 2 chapters more, so if you want your inputs heard before then, please review!