Author's Note the Final: I want to thank everyone for supporting me, and I hope to see you all again with my future works. The epilogue I mentioned will be posted as a separate one-shot.

I also created a webgroup for my works, so that I can share all the lovely pieces of fanart I've been given, link you to the translated versions of my stories (Spanish by Noel, Portuguese by Danyshi, and Russian by Shinde, love you guys!), and make all of my stories available. You'll find the NC-17 stuff that FF dot net won't let me post and the warm, fluffy stuff that isn't really fit for aff. The link is here: http (colon slash slash) groups dot yahoo dot com (slash) group (slash) crimsonclaws

Hopefully I'll see you guys there! Thanks for all of your wonderful reviews, encouragement, and wuv. I already have two more Japan-traditional themed ideas on the backburner, so you'll be seeing more from me soon!

Dewa mata, AkaiTsume

P.S. You can find the smut version of this ending at http : // naruto. adultfanfiction. net / story. php? no=544180027 &chapter=24


Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto, not me.

"I need you to do me a little favor..."

Sighing lightly, Sakura folded her arms and leaned against the wall outside Sasuke's door. She contemplated the dark wood in silence, her mind buzzing.

"I'm going to sweep my little Prince Charming off his feet."

When Sakura had first heard Naruto's gleeful admission, she'd been thrilled to help—and, by default, learn of Naruto's crush—but now that she knew who Naruto was actually after...

...Well, it kind of put a damper on her mood.

He's really after Sasuke-kun? She gave a light, puzzled frown at the Uchiha's door. I suppose it makes sense...after all, those two have been thick as thieves for the last couple years. Hell, even when they were at each other's throats, they still spoke of nothing else... The pink-haired girl sighed. It's still disheartening to find out that the guy you've liked for that long is attached, more or less.

For a brief moment, Sakura considered backing out of helping the blonde, but she promptly shook her head at herself. I never would have had a chance with him, not the way Naruto does. I'm not sure Sasuke-kun even really knows I exist.

After a quiet moment of wrestling with her selfish urges, Sakura brushed her hair back and straightened away from the wall. Well, if I can't have him...then I'm sure as hell going to make sure that he's happy. If he and Blondie want to be together, I'm not going to stand in the way.

She knocked smartly on the boy's door.

...And at the very least, I can tease Sasuke about Naruto's ass.

She waited as the sound of his footsteps approached her, her lips twitching.

And every girl knows that gay guys love to be forced to go shopping...and get their hair done...and waxing...

Thus it was that when a confused Uchiha Sasuke opened his door, he was met by a very worrying, demonic smile.

Sasuke leaned back against his desk, a cool expression on his face as he watched Sakura wander about his room.

"Remind me, again, why you're here?" he questioned eventually, his voice dry. The girl stopped her wandering and turned towards him, giving him a sweet smile.

"I told you, Naruto wanted me to come talk to you."

His lips turned down into a light frown. "And you have yet to tell me the reason because...?"

"You didn't ask." Flashing him a bright grin, she walked towards his bed, turned around, and sprawled herself upon it. "Mm, nice bed. How do you get up in the morning?"

She's doing this deliberately, the brunette mused. "What did Naruto want you to tell me?" His confusion after their kiss returned full force, jarring his irritation into motion. "And why couldn't he come tell me himself?"

Blinking, she sat up. "He said it would be more fun if he sent a messenger instead." During the pause that followed her statement, she tipped her chin up in thought. "Come to think of it, he looked like he was in an extraordinarily good mood about it."

Sasuke scowled, then smoothed his features. "Fine. Now, what did he want me to know?"

While the girl stared at him, Sasuke fought the urge to squirm...or storm over and strangle her. After being surprisingly dismissed by the blonde earlier, the Uchiha's patience was small and rapidly fizzling away. Sakura smiled.

"He said you have to keep Friday free. The whole day."

Confused, Sasuke frowned again. "Why?"

She chuckled. "Because he's throwing you a birthday party you won't want to miss."

What? "I hate birthday parties," the boy ground out. "So you can tell him to—"

The flutter of a piece of paper drew his words to a halt. Eyes wide, he stared at the narrow slip dangling between her fingers.

"...He also said that it was not a request."

Scowling, Sasuke moved forward to snatch the offending favor out of her hand. He glared down at it.

What the hell is that idiot planning? Unbidden, his heart gave a little thump in his chest. Maybe he's thinking up something special...?

"Sakura..." He hesitated, glancing up at the girl. "What is this really about? Did he tell you?"

She watched him for a long moment, a small smile on her lips. "No, he didn't, but...I got the impression that this is going to be big. I think he's inviting everyone we know."

Sasuke heaved a light sigh. "That idiot."

After a moment of silence, Sakura stood and made her way to the door. Placing her hand on the frame, she looked at him over her shoulder.

"It starts at three o'clock, at the pavilion next to the Commons." She lifted her eyebrows at the odd look that crossed the Uchiha's face. "I'd suggest being on time."

When Sasuke nodded shortly, the pink-haired girl gave him a soft, indulgent smile.

"And...Sasuke-kun..." She paused, then shook her head depreciatingly. "I'm happy for you two."

Before Sasuke could formulate a reply—like "What are you talking about? What do you know?"—the girl was gone.

Silence settled in Sasuke's room as he contemplated the blonde's request. Naruto knew Sasuke hated socializing, so why would he force the Uchiha to go to what sounded like a big blowout for his birthday? Crossing his arms over his chest, he crumpled the favor into a ball with his fist.

Is he planning to make an announcement? Sasuke's heart gave another sharp thump. Maybe he's going to tell everyone that we're an item. I mean, we are, aren't we?

His fingertips lifted to his lips, and he sighed. It certainly seems like we are...but what if he's really still mad about the whole bet thing? He wouldn't... Sasuke shook his head. No way. Naruto wouldn't start a make-out session like that with me if he was planning to publicly humiliate me. After all, he said that he has feelings for me.

To his embarrassment, a light flush leapt into his cheeks. Speaking of feelings... Closing his eyes briefly, he ran a hand through his raven hair. I should probably tell him that I...that I him, but...

Sasuke scowled, opening his eyes and moving to sit on his bed. "Dammit, I can barely admit it to myself in my thoughts. How am I supposed to tell him in real life?" he muttered to himself. Eyebrows furrowing, he glared at his floor. Maybe I won't have to tell him...?

After a long moment, he sighed again. No...I probably should tell him. He has to still be harboring doubts about my feelings for him, and I'll be damned if I lose him now when I'm so close. He shook his head. But, dammit, it'd be nice if he spelled things out for me for once. How does he really feel about me? Like? Love? Lust with a strong mixing of like? Dammit!

Sasuke burned a mental hole in his carpet with the force of his glare. Abruptly, he rose to his feet.

Dammit to hell. I'm going to get that boy if it's the last thing I do! And I won't let anything get in my way. Clenching his fists in determination, Sasuke let his gaze swivel to a folder of papers that had been accumulating on his desk. He smirked. But before I do...I'm going to take care of one last little obstacle in my way.

Snatching up the papers, he stormed out of his room and slammed the door.

"I quit."

Orochimaru blinked up at the determined young man in front of him. "...Excuse me?"

"You heard me." With an oddly infuriating smirk on the Uchiha's noble face, Sasuke slapped a folder upon Orochimaru's desk. "I'm quitting, and you're going to stay the hell away from me from now on."

Anger coursed through the older man, but he simply leaned back in his chair and smiled. "I'm afraid that won't be possible, my dear Sasuke-kun." He smirked inwardly as the boy tensed at the suffix. "After all, I'm very close to convincing the courts that I would serve best as your guardian. Once I do, I'm afraid you will have to spend a great deal of time in my presence."

Darkly amused, he watched as the Uchiha ground his teeth. "You'll never convince anyone to let you serve as my—"

"Au contraire. All I have to do is imply that you are unstable, even if you are a legal adult." His serpentine smile grew wider. "After your suicide attempt—"

"I was thirteen!"

"—We've all been very concerned about your welfare. Even now, your lack of guidance has clearly caused an impact on you."

Sasuke scowled, to Orochimaru's delight. "And that's why you bought out the owner of this place? So you could give me 'guidance' by becoming my employer?"

Chuckling, the slender man rose to his feet. "That would be one reason, Sasuke-kun."

The boy frowned at him. "Your other reasons would be...?"

Orochimaru lowered his eyes to take in the boy's appearance. "If I am to be your guardian, I do need to be close to you." He began his trek around the desk, eyes locked once more on Sasuke's own. "Very close."

Before he reached the Uchiha, Sasuke stepped back and, surprisingly enough, smirked.

"You stay right where you are, you lecherous prick." Sasuke ignored the irritated frown that bloomed on the older man's face. "If you so much as come near me again, I'm going to make your life a living hell."

Interesting. Raising an eyebrow, Orochimaru resumed his condescending smile. "And how would you do that?"

"Either you drop your case for becoming my guardian...or I let slip all those 'meetings' you had with those juvie boys."

The older man froze. One eye twitching, he felt his smile became strained. "What are you talking about?"

Sasuke's smirk widened. "Oh, you know exactly what I'm talking about." He opened the folder, flipping through various pictures and profiles of boys in juvenile detention. As he sifted through the pictures, Orochimaru's expression grew darker.

"Most of these boys met you while you were working at their facilities, didn't they? I wonder... How would it look if they started talking about your meetings?" When the boy glanced up, his eyes were sparkling with triumph. "After all, the detectives I hired to look at this evidence—"

"You had me researched?" the older man hissed, eyes narrowing. Sasuke simply smiled at him.

"Did you think I would give myself over to your custody," he spat the word at him, "without a fight?"

Orochimaru scowled. "You're bluffing. There's no way that you could have anything that my lawyers wouldn't—"

"Oh, I assure you, I do." Sasuke's voice took on a smug edge. "Now, as I said before, I quit, Mr. Orochimaru."

Clutching his folder to his chest, he strolled past the seething older man. "Have a nice life."

Without another word from the enraged, yet cornered man, Sasuke sauntered off towards freedom.

Naruto had never been so nervous in his life.

Hands clasped behind his back, he paced back and forth in front of the stereo system in the Pavilion. He tugged nervously at his red T-shirt and wiped his hands on his jeans, worrying for the 85th time that afternoon that maybe he was a little too underdressed. What if Sasuke didn't take him seriously today? Attempting to calm himself, he forced himself to stop moving and ran a hand through his hair.

He'll take me seriously, he reassured himself. Once he sees what I got him for his birthday, he'll have to—Oh god, what if it's too much? What if he laughs, or hates it, or...

Groaning, Naruto gripped his hair with both fists. I put so much work into it! God, what'll I do if this all blows up in my face? I mean, it's all well and good to take risks like these when I'm flirting with him, but this... A light blush tinged his cheeks as he nodded sheepishly towards the curious guests that wandered into the Pavilion. Ever since we made up, this doesn't feel like such a good idea...

Naruto wandered off to the side of the stereo equipment, briefly closing his eyes. I can't afford for things to go wrong today. I would've been hurt before if he didn't like his gift, but now...

I love him too much to screw everything up.

He laughed lightly under his breath. And wasn't that a shocking revelation in and of itself. I mean, I knew I had feelings for him, but this?

At times like these, Naruto felt as off balance as he did when he first realized how strongly he felt about the other boy. Laughing with Sasuke over how ridiculous he must have looked, seeing how deeply he affected the other boy—after all, Uchihas normally don't crack up like that—and realizing how goddamn special he felt any time he was around the other boy...

Uzumaki Naruto was head over heels in love with the Prickly Bastard formerly known as Sasuke. And now that he knew, it wasn't going to let him be for a long time.

Hence the fact that he was now a nervous wreck. Oh, he'd hid it well over the course of the week, grinning like the Cheshire cat whenever the Uchiha asked him about the party and keeping silent about the whole matter, but the effect was the same. To be truthful, the Uchiha had made it damn hard to keep the matter to himself during the week, especially during times that the Uchiha decided to corner him.

God, there's nothing good on at aaaaall... Naruto glowered at the TV as he lounged on his bed, one leg swinging off the edge as he lazily flipped through the channels. What was a grown boy to do, while cutting classes on a rather dreary Wednesday afternoon, if the television couldn't even provide him with decent programming?

As if in answer to his prayers, Naruto's bedroom door swung open.

Glancing up, Naruto blinked at the sight of Sasuke standing in his doorway, arms folded across his slim chest. The blonde cursed mentally as his heart rate sped up.

"Hey there, sexy thing," he greeted casually. "What can I do you for?"

When the Uchiha's cheeks turned the faintest shade of pink, Naruto beamed a grin at him. Hah! Score one for me!

"Where the hell have you been all day?" Sasuke eventually replied, his voice irritated. Naruto blinked at him.

"What do you mean? I was at history class this morning. What more did you want?"

There was that hint of a blush again. Gaze warming, Naruto found himself focusing on the Uchiha's lips, which, come to think of it, he hadn't gotten to taste since yesterday afternoon and it was clearly past time for him to get another...

Gradually, the sound of Sasuke speaking and then clearing his throat in his We-are-not-pleased Uchiha fashion pulled Naruto from his thoughts. He returned his gaze to the brunette's.


Sasuke frowned. "I asked why I haven't seen hide nor hair of you for any length of time since..." The other boy trailed off, looking to the side. Naruto's heart melted.

"I wasn't trying to avoid you, Sasuke," he replied quietly. After a moment, he patted the bed beside him. "Here, come join me for a second."

The pale brunette hesitated, then made his way over to the blonde's side and sat down. Naruto watched him, a slow grin crossing his features.

"Now, Naruto," Sasuke began. "I—"

The blonde cut him off by wrapping one arm about the boy's waist and tugging. Caught by surprise, the Uchiha ended up sprawled upon Naruto's chest with both of the taller boy's arms wrapping firmly about him. Chuckling, Naruto watched as Sasuke's thought pattern derailed, came to a stop, and restarted on a new set of tracks.

"Naruto!" God, I love it when he yells my name like that. "Dammit, I was trying to talk to you."

"You can still talk. I just wanted to be comfy." Smiling to himself, he ran one hand lazily up and down the Uchiha's back.

Sasuke fell quiet for a long moment, his right cheek resting upon Naruto's chest. "...Why did you kick me out yesterday?"

Naruto's hand stilled briefly, and his heart rate sped up. "I...had some work to get done."

"Work on what?"

"Well..." Naruto weighed his answer carefully, resuming his exploration of the other boy's back. "Getting things ready for your birthday, I guess."

At that, Sasuke pushed up onto his elbows, lifting an eyebrow as he stared down at the blonde. "You 'guess'? You make it sound like you don't know what you were doing."

True enough. The blonde chuckled. "Well, you could say that." He grinned up at the other boy. "I want things to be special."

"Why?" Sasuke's gaze had lowered to Naruto's lips, making him wet them subconsciously. "You know I don't give a damn about my birthday."

"Well, I do." Ooooh, his mouth is so close... "After all, you're turning twenty. Your first milestone."

Sasuke snorted. "Most would say that twenty-one is the milestone."

"Yeah, well, this one has a zero at the end. Therefore, it's a big deal in my book." His voice slipping into a low murmur, Naruto let his hand clench briefly on Sasuke's lower back. Tightening his grip with his other arm as well, he gently pulled Sasuke higher up on him. The brunette swallowed hard.

"Then...why don't you tell me what this big party is all about? If my birthday is so important, why couldn't we just spend it...together?"

Ok. If that wasn't a come-on, Naruto's nose was made of cheese.

"Well, if that's what you really want, Sasuke," he replied in a low, teasing tone, "I'm sure we could arrange something..."

The Uchiha made a low noise in his throat, shifting imperceptibly closer. "Oh? Then what is it that you have planned now?"

"Ah, but if I told you, I'd ruin the surprise!" When Sasuke opened his mouth to reply, Naruto lifted his head and caught the other boy's lips in a searing kiss. Lifting one hand to cup the back of the Uchiha's head, Naruto tilted his head and slipped his tongue into Sasuke's mouth. Both boys moaned.

No one should taste this good, he thought dazedly, tightening his grip on the shorter boy. Growling, he rolled the two of them over and pressed Sasuke into the mattress, delighted when the other boy growled back and briefly bucked against him. Slim arms wrapped around his back and clung tightly, slender fingers digging into his shirt as their mouths battled. Naruto shifted upon him, eagerly chasing Sasuke's tongue about the other boy's mouth.

Quite convinced that things were going along swimmingly, Naruto let out a low groan against Sasuke's lips when the other boy lifted a leg and hooked it over his hip, grinding upwards. A hand painfully tugged on his blonde hair when he pulled away, and he gave Sasuke's lower lip a playful nip.

"Don't look so irritated. I'm not going anywhere." Grinning, he tugged on Sasuke's bottom lip with his teeth, gently worrying it between them while flicking his tongue along it inside his mouth. Midnight eyes glazed, Sasuke let out a low groan.

Pleased with himself, Naruto released him and leaned forward for another round of tongue tangoing.

"Aaaaaaaaaargh! How many times am I going to be scarred this week?"

...And with the second coming of Kiba, their impromptu make-out session came to a screeching halt.

A smile touching his lips at the memory, Naruto shook his head. Thank goodness I don't have to keep it secret for much longer, even if distracting him is one hell of a good time.

Looking around, he took note of all the friends who had arrived during his lapse. No Sasuke yet graced the crowd, but Naruto turned to the stereo and started a CD anyway. As music filtered through the Pavilion, people shouted and began dragging each other onto the dance floor. Grinning, Naruto decided to make his rounds.

"Naruto...I need to speak with you."

—And Naruto's mood dropped like a rock.

Sighing lightly, he turned to face Gaara. "What do you want?"

The redhead stared unflinchingly up at him for a long moment. "I've thought about it," he started quietly, "but I still can't let you go. I can't bear with the thought of losing you."

Naruto closed his eyes. "Gaara, it's not a question of 'losing me'."

"Yes, it is. If you start dating Uchiha, you..." The shorter boy trailed off for a long moment. "I'm afraid that you won't remember that I exist."

Eyes softening, Naruto placed a hand on his shoulder. "Gaara, you're still my friend. I know it's not what you want, but I'm not going to abandon you. You should know me better than that."

Gaara gazed at the blonde's hand, then looked up into his blue eyes. "I suppose..." he murmured. "But I can't guarantee that it'll be enough."

Naruto sighed. "I know, but unfortunately it'll have to be—"

The shock of a pair of warm lips gently pressing against his own made Naruto still for a moment. Eyes wide, he jerked his head away and swiped at his mouth with the back of his hand.

"G-Gaara! You—"

"Uchiha had better take good care of you, Naruto." Pale blue eyes carrying a hint of sadness, Gaara turned and walked away. Naruto frowned after him.

Now why did he have to—

"This really does seem to be a reoccurring thing with you, doesn't it, Uzumaki?"

Aw, shit. Wincing, Naruto turned around to face Sasuke. The pale brunette stood patiently, one eyebrow lifted, his hands in his pockets, and one foot tapping upon the floor.

"Sasuke, that wasn't what it looked like." Naruto cringed slightly when the Uchiha's expression didn't change. "I honestly didn't expect him to try to kiss me! I was trying to let him down, and he—"

"I know."

"—Just up and wait, you do?" Naruto blinked at him, surprised when a tiny little smug smile crossed Sasuke's face. "You mean, you're not going to try to kill me?"

"I was close enough to hear the conversation, Naruto, and I'm not a complete dumbass." The phrase "like you" was left unsaid. Sasuke's eyes drifted off to the side. "Of course, that doesn't mean I won't try to gut him, but..."

Relieved, Naruto wrapped an arm about his waist and pulled him close, Sasuke's crisp white shirt sliding against the blonde's skin. "You scared me for a minute there. I thought we were going to rehash all of that bullshit and—"

"Then stop rehashing it." Rolling his eyes, Sasuke leaned against him. "You're an idiot, Uzumaki."

"Yeah, well..." He paused, gazing down at the boy next to him. "At least I'm an idiot with his eyes very firmly on you."

The Uchiha's eyes swung up to him at that, and Naruto let a warm smile settle on his face. Giving the shorter boy a squeeze, he pulled them into the crowd.

"Come on, let's go make nice with all the people who came to see you."

Relishing in the warmth of the blonde's arm about his waist, Sasuke let himself be carted around the Pavilion. He managed a polite smile and a kind word or two to the people who came to celebrate his birthday, but he wasn't paying very much attention. Naturally enough, his thoughts were entirely preoccupied with the boy standing next to him.

Glancing up, Sasuke took in the warm smile etched on Naruto's face and gave a small one in return.

"You've been awfully attentive today, Uzumaki," he murmured. Naruto graced him with a pearly white grin.

"Well, since it is your birthday, I figure that entitles me to publicly smother you with affection."

Sasuke's heart started pounding as Naruto tightened his grip on the shorter boy's waist. "And you just assume that I'll let you, hmm?"

The blonde laughed. "Well, you've been 'letting me' for the last half hour now. I think my assumption is safe."

Shaking his head, Sasuke made his way over to the refreshments table with the blonde still attached to his side. He poured himself a drink, lowering his eyes.

I don't know if I should bring this up, but... "Naruto...why aren't you more upset about the bet?"

The arm about his waist tensed for a millisecond. "What do you mean?"

I'm an idiot. "Well..." He trailed off, turning towards the boy at his side. "I just expected you to be a bit more..."

His expression calm—but thankfully not that I'm-going-to-murder-everyone-in-sight calm—Naruto let his fingers gently trace Sasuke's ribcage.

"You expected me to go Hulk-smash on you?" the blonde finished. Sasuke's lips twitched as he nodded. Tilting his head in thought, Naruto swept his gaze over Sasuke's face. "I admit I wanted to at first, but... Dammit, Sasuke, you're my best friend."

Wrapping his free arm about the shorter boy, Naruto drew him close and rested his cheek upon the side of Sasuke's scalp. He fell silent for a long moment.

"I'm still annoyed by the whole thing, but I'll be damned if I lose you over something as stupid as that." After a beat, he pulled back and gave Sasuke a lopsided smile. "You'll just have to make sure that you make it up to me."

Sasuke snorted, placing his arms loosely around the blonde's waist. "And how do you propose I do that?"

"Well, I do have an entire mountain of favors you owe me." He gave Sasuke a mischievous grin. "I'm sure I can think up something for you to do."

Rolling his eyes, Sasuke tried to curb the sense of foreboding doom that hovered over him at the thought of what Naruto would make him do. I'm not going to think about that now. After all, he smirked. It is my birthday.

Before he could open his mouth to reply, a song shot through the air. Upon hearing it, Naruto grinned and snagged Sasuke's wrist, dragging him into the throng of dancing people.

"N-Naruto, what the hell are you doing?"

"C'mon, Sasuke! I didn't help set this up so you could stand on the sidelines all day." The blonde forced his way to the center of the dance floor. "You're going to show me your moves."


Pausing, Naruto turned to face him and drew him close again. "Relax, Sasuke." His blue eyes were warm as he chuckled. "You can afford to cut loose every once in a while."

So she said what's the problem, baby.

What's the problem I don't know... Well,

Maybe I'm in love. (Love)

Think about it, every time I think about it

Can't stop thinking 'bout it.

Snagging the shorter boy's wrist again, Naruto swung him around and laughed. "Get into the spirit!"

Sasuke lifted an eyebrow, unable to help the smile that crossed his lips. "Are you insane?"

How much longer will it take to cure this?

Just to cure it 'cause I can't ignore it if it's love. (Love)

Makes me wanna turn around and face me but I don't know nothing 'bout love.

"Just slightly." He tugged on both of Sasuke's arms, forcing the boy to dance with him in a swinging, haphazard fashion.

Come on, Come on!

Turn a little faster.

Come on, come on!

The world will follow after.

Come on, come on,

'Cause everybody's after looooove...

Ignoring Sasuke's sputtering protests, Naruto looped an arm about the other boy's waist and hoisted him into the air. He swung him down into his arms, gave the boy a big grin, and swung him back up, dropping him back down onto his feet. Despite himself, Sasuke started laughing.

So I said I'm a snowball running,

Running down into the spring that's coming all this love

Melting under blue skies,

Belting out, Sunshine

Shimmering love.

Sasuke ignored the fact that he felt absolutely ridiculous, dancing in front of all of his peers to a fast-paced love song. Grinning, he flipped one of their joined arms over his head, releasing his grip and sliding his free hand along Naruto's arm to clasp his hand.

Well baby, I surrender

To the strawberry ice cream

Never ever end of all this love!

Well I didn't mean to do it

But there's no escaping your love.

Laughing again, Naruto spun Sasuke backwards into his arms and picked him up, turning in a quick circle.

These lines of lightning mean we're never alone.

Never alone! No, no!

Come on, Come on!

Move a little closer.

At that, Naruto set him down, turned him around, and ran one hand down the boy's back as he grinned.

Come on, Come on!

I want to hear you whisper.

Come on, come on.

Settle down inside my love...

A flash in Naruto's eyes was all the warning Sasuke had before the blonde picked him up—

—And actually flipped Sasuke over his arm, swinging the boy into his arms and spinning around again.

Come on, Come on!

Jump a little higher!

Come on, come on!

If you feel a little lighter,

Come on, come on,

We were once upon a time in love...

Naruto set Sasuke down, wrapping his arms about the boy's waist and tugging him close. Sasuke's heart started pounding—though that may have had something to do with being flipped upside down—and he rested his head on the blonde's chest.

We're accidentally in love...

Accidentally in looooooove,

Accidentally in love.

Accidentally in looove...

Tipping his head up, Sasuke looked into the blonde's sparkling blue eyes and felt his heart give a leap in his chest. Smiling gently, he placed a hand behind Naruto's head and drew him down into a kiss.

Accidentally in love.

Accidentally in looooove...

Accidentally in love.

Accidentally in loooove...

Sasuke pulled away as the music quickened, flashing an uncharacteristic grin at the boy in front of him. He laughed, pulling the blonde into his own set of spins, people watching be damned.


I'm in love, I'm in love,

I'm in love, I'm in love,

I'm in love, I'm in love!


The brunette was unsurprised when Naruto picked him up again, laughing aloud as the crowd that had formed about them started cheering.

I'm in love, I'm in love,

I'm in love, I'm in love,

I'm in love, I'm in love!


Feet hitting the ground, Sasuke let himself get yanked around by the blonde.

Come on, come on!

Spin a little tighter!

Come on, come on,

And the world's a little brighter.

Come on, come on.

Just get yourself inside her


The two stopped moving, coming to a rest in each other's arms while gasping for breath.

I'm in looove.

As the crowd erupted in applause, Neji gave a small smile and let his hands gently come together. If he'd had any doubts before, they had just been thoroughly erased; anyone who could make the Uchiha laugh and act like that in public...was probably meant to be with him. Sasuke seemed to complete Naruto.

" 'Twas a far better thing that I have done, than I have ever done before."

Blinking, the Hyuuga turned towards the calm voice that had spoken beside him. TenTen smiled up at him, hands planted on her hips.

"Isn't that what you're thinking, Mr. Martyr?"

After a moment, Neji smiled back. "I was. Thank you for interrupting such a self-important line of thought."

"I aim to please." She flashed an impish look at him, then glanced away. "I don't suppose you can cut a rug with that posture of yours?"

Neji gave her something akin to a snort. "I'll have you know that I can dance perfectly well."

"Oh, yeah? Prove it, Ice Man."

He lifted an eyebrow at her challenge, then bowed and held out his hand. "After you, my lady."

An amused smile blooming on his face, he watched as the girl tossed up her nose in mock snobbishness and strode onto the dance floor. After a moment, he followed her.

Perhaps things aren't so bad, after all.

As the party began winding down, Naruto drew the short-of-breath Uchiha off to the side. He smiled down at him, running his hands down the shorter boy's arms.

"As fun as all of this is," he began, "I still have to give you your present."

Sasuke lifted an eyebrow, staring at the blonde's face in the dwindling light of the setting sun.

"You went and set up this huge party just to take me away from it?"

Naruto grinned. "Are you saying that you don't want to get out of here?"

In reply, Sasuke simply grabbed the boy's arm and led him towards the parking lot. Laughing, Naruto redirected the boy towards his truck.

"I'll take that for a yes." Beating Sasuke to the passenger door, he unlocked it and held it open. Sasuke rolled his eyes.

"What a gentleman," he stated dryly. Settling himself in the seat, he watched as the blonde shut his door and made his way around the car. He waited until Naruto got in his seat, shut the door, and started the car before speaking again. "So, where are you taking me?"

Naruto simply smiled. "It's a secret."

Sasuke's eyebrow was re-elevated. "A secret?"

"Mmhmm." Naruto's tone grew distracted as he pulled out of the parking lot and turned onto a main road.

"I see you saw no reason to tell anyone we were leaving."


"And you don't think that'll be a problem?"

"Nope." His blue eyes fixed on the brunette beside him. "I told Kiba beforehand that I planned to steal you away. He'll let everyone know eventually."

Sasuke stared at him, wondering if the temperature in the truck had just risen. "'re not planning to come back here?"

"Not a chance."

The little pervert in the back of Sasuke's mind did a Happy Dance. "I see. What do you plan to have us do in the meantime?"

Glancing back at the road, Naruto gave him the sexiest half-smile Sasuke had ever seen. "That's a secret, too."

Sasuke's little pervert launched into a rendition of "Oh Happy Day."

Clearing his throat, Sasuke folded his arms over his chest and stared out the window. He recognized the area they were passing through, but his curiosity grew as he realized that they were actually heading off campus. When the streets flowed into a series of small houses, Sasuke looked back over at him.

"Naruto, where are we going?" he asked again. The blonde didn't reply. Tsk-ing under his breath, the Uchiha reached out and placed a hand on Naruto's bared arm. "Naruto..."

"Sasuke, you haven't been able to get this out of me all month. What makes you think I'll give it away now?"

The Uchiha frowned at that. "So, you're finally going to tell me what you've been up to?"

"Nope." Naruto grinned, teeth bright in the newly acquired twilight darkness. "I'm going to show you."

Deciding that he had nothing more to say to that, Sasuke watched curiously as they pulled up to a small blue house on the far end of a cul-de-sac. Naruto pulled into the driveway and cut the engine, pocketing his keys.

"Ready to go?"

Nodding, Sasuke unlatched his seat belt and climbed out of the truck. He gazed up at the blue house with a contemplative frown, noting the lack of lights within it. A polished red door hugged the face, giving the house a welcoming feel to it. Turning to the blonde, Sasuke held a hand out.

"I'm assuming that we're not dropping in for a surprise visit," he drawled. "Care to explain?"

Naruto said nothing, but he smiled and made his way to the front door. He fished a key ring out of his back pocket.

"You own this place?" Sasuke asked incredulously.

"Nope." Keeping the same smile on his face, Naruto unlocked the front door and stepped inside, beckoning for the Uchiha to follow him. Sasuke frowned, but he entered the house anyway. The dark living room only sported a few pieces of furniture, giving it an unfinished, unoccupied air.

Naruto paused in the center of the room, placing the house key back in his pocket and turning to face his companion. Surprisingly, a nervous smile crossed the blonde's face.

"Um...Sasuke..." He hesitated, then moved behind the older boy and placed his hands gently upon Sasuke's eyes. When the Uchiha's eyebrows shot up, Naruto chuckled lightly. "I just don't want you to see it yet."

Sasuke remained quiet as Naruto guided him towards the back of the house. What is it that he wants to show me?

"I...I've been working on this for a long time now, Sasuke," he heard the blonde murmur. "I just hope that I wasn't entirely off base with it, but... Well, I guess I'll just have to see what your reaction is."

I can't believe he's actually babbling, Sasuke mused. What did he do that's making him so nervous?

Shifting his grip to cover both of Sasuke's eyes with one hand, Naruto opened an unseen sliding glass door and led Sasuke outside. After a long moment, the Uchiha felt Naruto lean close to him.

"Happy Birthday, Sasuke."

He removed his hand.

Before Sasuke's eyes sprawled a calm, serene Japanese-style garden. A cool, butterfly-shaped koi pond rippled at the front of the yard, several glistening koi swimming about in its shallow depths. Short, soft grass swept around the bottom half of the pond, teasingly pressing against the moss that carpeted the rest of the ground in the backyard. Two individual, shallow waterfalls trickled serenely from the back of the garden in three gentle tiers, each filled with glistening stones and surrounded by large, moss-covered rocks. They spread away from the pond in a "v," two old maple trees guarding the far edges.

In the center of the "v," a single young tree spread its white-tipped green foliage between the proud maples. Fragrant white blossoms burst gently in clusters along the branches, waving lightly in the breeze. Pleased by the shade that the trees provided during the day, thick, dark-green moss filled the entire center area between the waterfalls, and a series of soft-looking, Japanese-painted ferns dipped over the far edge of the pond where the waterfalls poured into the basin.

Shocked speechless, Sasuke stared at the beautiful scene before him. The gentle "tok...tok" sounds of a bamboo Deer-chaser filling with and emptying water beside the pond ghosted over the silence.

After a long moment, Sasuke felt Naruto step up behind him, wrapping his strong arms about the Uchiha's waist and pressing against him.

"You know, I actually started working on this months ago," the blonde murmured. "I had no idea why I was going to such extreme measures for you, but I knew that I wanted to give you something...unforgettable."

Sasuke's lips pressed tightly together as he listened, his eyes shining with an unfamiliar emotion. The blonde's arms tightened about him.

"Sasuke... I know I'm not always the brightest crayon in the box, have no idea how much you mean to me." Sighing, he rested his cheek upon Sasuke's raven hair. "Hell, I didn't even realize how much you meant to me until recently, but it doesn't change much. You are, and always have been, the most important person in my life."

After a quiet moment, Naruto pulled away a little and turned the boy in his arms. Sasuke stared up at him, heart pounding and face unreadable. Smiling gently, Naruto ran a hand along the side of the Uchiha's face.

"Sasuke, I'm in love with you." He chuckled lightly, a blush highlighting his whiskered cheeks in the moonlight. "And I always will be."

Sasuke stared up at the blonde for a long moment, his eyes wide and his heart frozen in his chest. Emotions crashed through him with such force, he wasn't entirely sure how he remained standing.


Making an odd noise—that he refused to admit sounded like a squeak—Sasuke threaded shaking hands through Naruto's hair and drew the boy's head down, pressing their foreheads together and closing his eyes.

He loves me. Naruto actually said that he loves me. That single fact swarmed in his head, jumpstarting his heart into such rapid beating that he was sure it was imprinting itself on his shirt. Some part of his mind felt like bursting into tears, and the rest of him wasn't sure that crying was such a bad idea. His breath hitching in his throat, Sasuke gently ground his forehead against the taller boy's.

"...Sasuke?" Naruto whispered. The Uchiha shook his head. Waiting quietly, the blonde gently ran a hand up and down the Uchiha's back.

"...went to all this trouble..."

"Hmm?" Pulling Sasuke closer, Naruto leaned his head down to hear a little better.

Sasuke shook his head again, keeping his eyes closed. "I can't went to all this trouble...for me," he managed, his voice hoarse. "I..."

Chuckling lightly, Naruto gave the boy a tight squeeze. "I take it that you like the garden, then?"

At that, Sasuke pulled away and glared weakly up at him. "Yes, you idiot. I like the damn garden. Shit. I love the damn garden." He buried his face in the crook of Naruto's neck, mumbling something under his breath.

Naruto placed a warm hand on Sasuke's quickly reddening cheek, tipping the boy's face up. "What did you say?"

The brunette glared up at him again, but his gaze held no heat. "I said...that I don't garden," he repeated awkwardly. Naruto lifted an eyebrow.

"What, this goes beyond love?" he teased. "If I knew you had this sort of passion for greenery, I would've—"

"That's not it, and you know it, Uzumaki." Sasuke lowered his eyes, taking a calming breath. I can do this. Really. I can.

"Naruto, I..." He lifted his eyes, staring defiantly in the blue orbs gazing at him. "Dammit, I...I love you, too." The brunette's eyes slid closed once more. "I've loved you longer than even I know."

In the silence that followed, Sasuke braved opening his eyes again and nearly jumped. Naruto was gracing him with the biggest, brightest grin the Uchiha had ever seen. Heart leaping in his chest, Sasuke let the blonde crush him against his chest.

"You do? Really?"

Lips twitching, he nodded. "Lord knows why."

Letting out a whoop, Naruto hoisted a startled Sasuke into the air. "You love me!"

Sasuke laughed despite himself. "And you've picked me up enough for tonight, Naruto! Put me dow—"

The moment his feet hit the ground, Naruto's lips closed eagerly over Sasuke's own. Moaning, the Uchiha wrapped his arms about the taller boy's neck. Their tongues clashed eagerly, chasing away the slight chill that was settling in the night air. Nipping eagerly at Sasuke's lips, Naruto tightened one arm about the boy's back and slipped the other under the Uchiha's shirt.

Sasuke groaned as the blonde's calloused fingers darted across his stomach, pushing the taller boy backwards until they stumbled through the open sliding glass door to the kitchen inside. When Naruto's legs bumped against the kitchen table, the blonde took the initiative again, sitting down and hauling Sasuke onto his lap. Relishing in the feel of the blonde's hands traveling down his legs, Sasuke settled himself upon the other boy and intensified the kiss, eagerly massaging the underside of the blonde's tongue.

Naruto let out a low noise, ran his hands briefly over Sasuke's bottom, and wrapped his strong fingers about the boy's thighs. Pulling away, he panted heavily and stared at the brunette with darkened blue eyes.

"Sasuke," he rasped. Shivering at the boy's tone, the Uchiha in question leaned forward and unleashed a series of love bites along the other boy's neck. Naruto groaned, removing one hand from Sasuke's leg to close firmly over his ass and grind their hips together. Sasuke's toes curled within his shoes, and he bit down particularly hard at the point where Naruto's shoulder met neck.

"Fuck," he heard Naruto swear. "Sasuke..." A large hand wrapped gently about the nape of Sasuke's neck, and Sasuke let his head be drawn back until he could gaze into the blonde's blue eyes. Swallowing hard at the emotion he saw swimming there, Sasuke placed a loving kiss upon the boy's lips and smiled.

"You seem like you're thinking about something," he murmured in a low voice, rocking his hips against the blonde's. "Care to share?"

Naruto let out a low moan, dropping his head to Sasuke's shoulder and wrapping his arms firmly about the boy's waist. He sighed, pulling the Uchiha close.

"I just..." he replied eventually. "This feels so...right, you know?"

Chuckling, Sasuke ran his lips over the blonde's ear. "I know. It really does." He paused, running a hand absentmindedly down the back of Naruto's shirt and stroking the warm skin he found there. Naruto shivered. Smiling, Sasuke gently nuzzled the taller boy's earlobe.

"Thank you for giving me such a wonderful birthday, Naruto," the brunette whispered. Naruto let out a single chuckle, then slowly lifted his head.

"Well...I do still have one to give you." Locking eyes with the curious brunette, he gave him a half smile. "Sasuke, you love me, right?"

The Uchiha lifted an eyebrow. "Yes..."

"And you know I love you, right?"

"Yes..." He tilted his head to the side. "Naruto—"

"And, naturally, you want to spend every waking moment with me from now on, right?"

"Naruto, what on earth are you talking abou—"

"Want to move in with me?"

Sasuke froze, staring at the blonde in shock. "What?"

Naruto gazed at him. "I said, do you want to move in with me?"

Sasuke's mouth opened, then shut. "" He blinked at the boy with incredulity. "What are you talking about? Move in where? Here?"

The blonde chuckled, shifting the arm about Sasuke's waist to flit his fingers along the shorter boy's ribs. "Well, I wouldn't exactly convert the backyard of a place I wasn't planning to rent, especially if it's my gift to you." Abruptly nervous, he glanced around. "I mean, that's why I didn't really decorate the house, because if you wanted to, I figured that you could choose what we put in here and...everything."

"I..." Still unable to formulate a coherent reply, Sasuke stared at him. "'d you even get your hands on this place?"

"Remember when I said my aunt was buying buildings?" Sasuke reluctantly nodded. "Well, she bought this one after I begged her for about a month solid, and she said she'd let me rent it from her." He waited a beat. "So are you going to move in with me?"

After a moment, Sasuke let out an incredulous laugh. "That's how you decide to do things? You shock the hell out of me by giving me a garden, get me off balance by confessing to me, and then you wait until I'm in your lap and making out with you? God, you never even asked me out!"

"Fine. Sasuke, will you go out with me?"

Lips twitching, the brunette nodded.

"Great! ...Now will you rent this place with me?"

At the pathetic, puppy dog expression the big blonde turned on him, Sasuke couldn't help but laugh again. "You're insane, you know that?"

"Not too insane. After all, if we live here, nobody can walk in on us anymore."

"True." Shaking his head, Sasuke locked eyes with the mischievous ones of the boyin front ofhim. "Fine, Naruto. I'll move in with you. But under protest."

Naruto grinned, tightening his grip on the brunette. "Under what protest?"

"That you asked me out in that moronic a fashion."

Chuckling, the blonde gave him a loving kiss. "Ah, well. You'll remember it, won't you?"

Sasuke shook his head again, marveling at the fact that he could fall so deeply in love with such an idiot. "I don't see how I could possibly forget."

"Great!" Flashing him another grin, Naruto picked him up, strode into the living room, threw them both down onto the couch, and snuggled close. The Uchiha rolled his eyes.

"...Say, what would you have done if I said no?"

"I have about six favors you owe me in my other back pocket."

Despite himself, Sasuke laughed again. "Only you, Naruto."

Giving the boy next to him a tight hug, Naruto chuckled.

"That's the point, Sasuke. That's the point."

Cuddling close, the two boys fell into a peaceful silence and listened to the gentle rush of the outdoor waterfalls. His heart pounding, Sasuke shifted and laid his cheek upon Naruto's chest, closing his eyes. Now...I really will get to stay in his arms. A soft smile graced his features as one of Naruto's hands lifted to idly play with his hair. I love you much.

Comforted by each other's presence, the two boys let the quiet night sounds draw them to sleep.

"...Happy Birthday, Sasuke-love."

Two months later

Slipping his hands into his light jacket, Sasuke gazed down upon the gravestones before him, a group of flowers with one remaining bud adorning them. He gave them a short, quirky smile.

"Sorry I haven't been by in a while," he murmured. "Ok, so it's been more like years, but...I didn't forget."

He ran his hand gently over each of the three stones, letting it linger briefly upon Itachi's.

"I'm not going to ask you what really happened that day, Aniki. It doesn't really matter, not anymore." He paused, running his fingers over the engraving before letting it fall. "The point is, I've finally moved on. I don't know if I've made you proud, or if I can ever live up to your image in our parents' eyes..."

He stepped back, glancing at his parents' grave markers.

"...But I think I can finally be proud of myself." He slid his hands back into his pockets, lowering his head slightly so that his bangs brushed against his face. "I'm happy now. I've got a job I like, a place I can live without distractions, and...someone to complete me."

Pausing, he gave a light chuckle. "Although, come to think of it, he's a walking distraction himself."

As he spoke, a warm arm slid about his waist. Leaning back into the embrace, Sasuke gave the blonde a brief smile.

"Mother, Father, Aniki...I'd like you to meet Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto," he gestured at the stones. "My family."

"Pleased to meet you," the blonde replied politely. He gave them a light bow. "It's nice to finally meet the people who raised the man I love. I'm indebted to you."

Gently squeezing the arm about his waist, Sasuke smiled. "Don't let his politeness fool you. He's about as uncultured as they get."

"Uncultured! I'll have you know that I cook very cultured meals, thank you very much."

The Uchiha chuckled. "Alright, I'll give you that. He can cook."

"And I'm gorgeous."

Sasuke nodded. "And he's conceited enough to make me look modest."


Running his hand soothingly over the blonde's, Sasuke gave each stone a final nod. "I just wanted to let you know that even if we didn't understand each other, things have worked out well." He paused. "I love you."

Satisfied, Sasuke slipped his own arm about Naruto's waist and let the taller boy lead him away. Even as they made their way back to Naruto's coveted truck, they began to bicker teasingly. Sasuke shoved at Naruto; the blonde tripped and fell on his butt, and both boys laughed. Naruto tugged him down beside him, gave Sasuke a long, loving kiss, and sprang to his feet, racing towards his truck with a laugh and Sasuke's curses on the wind.

As they left, a warm breeze drifted over the area, tousling their hair as they ran into the parking lot.

And in the sunlight that peeked down from the late spring sky, the last remaining flower bud bloomed, casting tremulous color upon the stone for all to see.