A/N: I wrote this story already some time ago and fished it out now to read it through a second time and then decided to put it up here. Nothing much, nothing special. Some naruto-angst, some sasu/saku fluff. Yup. Not entirely happy with it, but what the hell. I thought this idea would be better expressed in a doujinshi but I'm not skilled enough for that.
And please excuse all mistakes and flaws (and crappy formating >>;;;) of this story, english is not my first language. I hope you can enjoy it anyway ;P and don't forget: useful comments may contribute to the improvement of my future writings :D (if I ever find the time again to actually do them oO). yeah, and if I'm already at it, i just wanted to say !thanks so much! to all the people who have read and reviewed my former stories until now! i'm so happy that even with my poor skills i still can produce something worth your time! thank you!
The usual blackness of the river, in which it happened to be tinted in after sunset, was now nearly extinguished by all the reflections of lanterns and colourful fireworks, spreading like spots over the calm waters. The festival was at its peak, loud laughing, joking was heard from everywhere, enjoyment and happiness giving the air a nice smell, just like all the food offered at numerous food-stands. Couples were walking hand in hand, children running around, chasing each other or some poor dog who happened to be lured there by all the different smells and the general busyness.
They sat by the river, watching passer byes and the hanabis, which seemed to be never-ending, sparking up high into the dark night sky every five minutes. They had already gone through nearly every festival activity, from tasting all the offered delicacies to catching fish with a small net. All three were dressed in Yukatas Sakura had made herself, both for Sasuke and Naruto. She couldn't remember him being so happy before. He nearly chocked on his tears of happiness and utter adoration for the work she had put herself into for him. And she had even allowed him to hug her while expressing his thankfulness. He had been simply too adorable. But if she hadn't pried him off immediately after that he would have squeezed her to death. She then simply patted his blonde head and smiled, while Sasuke only frowned at Naruto's overreaction.
He himself had only stared a bit in surprise at first when his Yukata had been offered to him, then he blushed just the tiniest bit and then murmured a quite "thanks" while looking at anything but her. But as his mouth slowly curled up into a nearly invisible smile, her heart overflowed.
So they sat, Naruto munching away on his candy cotton, which was nearly as pink as Sakura's hair, Sasuke staring off into the distance and Sakura staring either at him or at the beauty of the midnight river. Her little finger wrapping itself around his behind their backs went unnoticed.
They shared a very rare moment of peace together. And Naruto overly enjoyed it. The last of his cotton candy had melted inside his mouth, leaving the sweet aftertaste and sugar clinging to his teeth. The blond sighed happily and leaned on his elbows, looking up into the sky and smiling blissfully at the stars. This evening was so very amazing. First he received this wonderful gift from Sakura (part of him still couldn't believe it!), then he had eaten so many nice stuff at the stands (never actually thinking, that for the next days he would be broke… very broke) and now he was sitting here, together with his team mates and friends, without even once breaking out into a fight with Sasuke. Naruto had never felt so very nice and lazy before.
But nice things never really last for long.
The unusual silence coming from said friends by his side caused him to turn his head to his left. The fireworks had stopped some time ago, making the area at the river a bit darker and quieter. First Naruto thought he simply had imagined things because of the dark and his half-closed eyes. But when he stared a bit longer he was sure he hadn't mistaken.
Sakura was leaning against Sasuke's shoulder, their hands entwined shyly.
Naruto just stared some more. The two weren't looking at him so they didn't notice his shocked expression which might have appeared rather comical if it hadn't been so traced with sudden hurt. The boy felt his throat go dry and a strange lump slowly forming in there, somehow making it hard to breathe all of a sudden.
He sat up from his primly relaxed position on the grass and then he turned his gaze again into their direction.
No, he wasn't dreaming although he wished he was. It was dark but he could make out the blush both on Sasuke's and Sakura faces, now pressed to each other even more firmly. The looked like a couple.
The lump was bothering him more fiercely now, somehow forcing tears to suddenly appear in the corner of his eyes. What the hell he thought. So they're probably really a couple now. You were just too ignorant… there had been certain signs after all …
But why then was it bothering him that much? He had gotten over his crush on Sakura already some time ago. It shouldn't hurt that bad.
But still it did. Only with some effort could he prevent the sudden tears to fall.
Naruto's persistent but unintentional stare caught Sasuke's attention and he turned his head slightly, half of his face hidden behind Sakura's pink mane he appeared to now have buried his nose in. He caught Naruto's gaze.
The blond winced at the eye-content, still wide eyed and in a way uneasy. For a second or two they simply looked at each other. As if a silent communication was going on between them. Then Naruto's features relaxed and his eyes softened.
Sakura took her head from Sasuke's shoulder she had it leaning on and looked up at him, then turned to Naruto. She had a very strange expression gracing her face. A lot of very different emotions occupying it. But one particularly stood out. Bliss. Happiness.
Naruto smiled at her. It suited her so nicely.
"Eh … Naruto?" she watched him with slight confusion as he got up, stretching his arms above his head and yawning.
"Hm? Wha?" he peered at her, one eye closed.
"Are you already going home?" She asked again. Sasuke meanwhile stayed silent, only observing Naruto with his dark orbs, never betraying even the slightest bit of emoition.
"Um, yeah. I'm kinda tired, ya know? Eating that much s' really wearing me out a lot, I tell ya! So, uh, I guess I wander around some more and then I'll head straight to bed, ne?" He grinned sheepishly, his arms crossed behind his head, making the sleeves of his yukata slide down to his elbows.
"But …" Sakura looked uncertain. Even a bit guilty. But she didn't move from her position beside Sasuke. And her blush didn't leave her cheeks.
"No no, it's really time now. Or I'll sleep through tomorrow's training again! And again, thank you so very much for this yukata! I'm soooo happy!"
"I told you already it was nothing. I'm glad you like it …."
"Well then, see ya tomorrow! Ja, minna!"
Naruto turned around quickly, only hearing Sasuke's grunted excuse for a farewell. He didn't mind. It was Sasuke after all. And it wasn't him at the same time. Because now he was with Sakura. And that made him different from before, didn't it?
Naruto quickened his pace, waving over his shoulder to Sakura's "Good night!"
He didn't turn around until he was some safe distance away and could be sure they thought he was already gone. But from where he stood now, he could still see them clearly. Although rather silhouettes, he could still make out their bodies and even Sasuke's arm now wrapped around Sakura's small frame. Naruto decided it had been the right thing to do. He was – after all - the third wheel now.
It dawned on him slowly. Maybe all of this … the invitation to the festival to go with them … the Yukata … probably all because they had felt guilty that now he was somehow the outsider of their team?
Naruto felt his fists tighten. He sunk his head and stared at his getta-dressed feat for a moment.
The festival was still loud and the fireworks had started again. Cries of appreciation and gasps of awe filled the air. They had waited with the really beautiful fireworks till the end. People clapped their hands and smiling faces were raised towards the sky.
Except for one.
Naruto dove into the crowd and was out of sight.