AUTHOR: Ashvolt
PAIRING: Sasuke/Naruto
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Naruto, and make no claims on it. sigh Maybe next year, when I've taken over the world.
SUMMARY: All the girls in Konoha want to be Sasuke's date for the 5th Hokage's birthday party. If he doesn't make a decision soon, though, things could turn ugly. Sick of the attention, Sasuke finally makes a decision.He chooses... Naruto!
WARNINGS: Shounen-ai

Sasuke stared at the small, perfumed piece of paper in his hands.

/You are cordially invited to attend the birthday celebration of the Fifth Hokage on June 3rd. It will be held in and around the Tournament Stadium. The doors open at 5 pm. Formal clothing is required./

In the four years since Tsunade had become the Hokage, this was the first time she'd ever held a party in honor of something as mundane as her birthday.

...What was the Hokage thinking?

The next morning, Sasuke was training with Naruto in a field on the outskirts of Konoha. In between punches and kicks, they heard the sound of giggling coming from nearby.

Naruto blinked, distracted, and completely missed the punch aimed at his cheek. He fell hard a few feet away, while Sasuke smirked.

The giggling came again, followed by light whispers.

Sasuke twitched, but otherwise ignored it.

Naruto groaned, rubbing his cheek, and sat up. "Oww... I thought we were sparring!"

Sasuke crossed his arms. "Are you saying you can't take it?"

"Of course I can take it!" Naruto huffed, standing up. He patted down his clothes, getting the worst of the dirt off. "Doesn't mean you have to hit me that hard."


The giggles and whispers became louder. They could just barely make out a few words among the babble.


'...so cute...'

'...wonder if...party..."




Naruto sidled up to him, eyes on the gaggle of girls standing at the edge of the clearing.

"Is that why you're in a bad mood?"

Sasuke whacked him across the back of the head.


They collapsed to the ground, exhausted from their morning workout. Naruto sprawled across the grass, limbs flung out, while Sasuke sat, head bowed towards the ground as he tried to calm his breathing. Little trickles of sweat ran down both their faces. They'd pushed themselves hard, like always.


Sasuke sighed and looked up. Standing in front of him, blushing and clasping her hands, was a girl. Sasuke supposed she was pretty, with her long, black hair and nicely rounded figure. He noticed it, but didn't care, either.

"Umm... Sasuke-kun... The...the party... Would you..." At this, the girl took a breath, gulped, briefly squeezed her eyes, and finally blurted out, "wouldyoupleasebemydate?"


Without having done more than glance at her, he got up and walked away.

"Oi, Sasuke! Just a moment!"

Sasuke stopped and glared impatiently at Naruto. Naruto, meanwhile, had approached the girl. He was rubbing the back of his head and smiling. Sasuke knew what Naruto was doing – he was trying to explain Sasuke's dismissal of her in kinder terms.

Sasuke tapped a foot impatiently.

The girl sniffled into her hands, the tears that had been on the verge of leaking out stemmed by Naruto's words. He gave the girl a hearty pat on the back, nearly knocking her off her feet, and ran to catch up to Sasuke.

"You could've been nicer, y'know. You made her cry," Naruto accused as he fell into stride next to his teammate.

Sasuke didn't respond.

Sasuke yawned as he walked into his house. He'd stayed out training much longer than he'd intended, and knew that after he'd taken a bath, he was going to collapse in bed for the night.

Mail had been shoved through the slot in the front door, and now littered the floor. Out of habit, he grabbed the letters, placing them without looking on the entryway table.

One caught his eye, unfortunately. The envelope was a bright pink, and his name had been written in purple pen. There was no address or postage, so it had to have been hand delivered.

With a feeling of foreboding, he ripped the envelope open.

A cloud of perfume wafted out, almost choking him in its intensity. Sasuke unfolded the letter and scanned it tensely, but relaxed as soon as he read the opening line.

My dear Sasuke-kun,

You don't know me, but I've always admired you... Your beauty, your elegance, your utter perfection... I love everything about you!

So please, please be my date for the Hokage's upcoming party. I await your answer.

The letter went on for several more paragraphs, detailing why the author was in love with him and pleading her case. He stopped reading, disgusted.

He held it carefully at arm's length – the thing seemed to have been soaked in perfume. Sasuke eyed it. He would have just thrown it away if it didn't smell so bad.

That was why it lay in his wastebasket several minutes later, burning merrily.

Sasuke woke up the next morning and stretched his arms behind his head, working the kinks out of his back. Then he let his arms fall, and looked out his bedroom window.

He felt relaxed. It was a nice feeling. He knew a lot of it had to do with Naruto, who was always so willing to train with him. Due to their competitive natures, they would spar with each other to the point of exhaustion.

With a sigh, he crammed his feet into a pair of slippers and padded slowly across the wooden floor. Breakfast first, then he'd get ready to meet Naruto for another sparring session.

A small smile curled his lips.

The smile faded as he took in the sight before his front door. There were at least two dozen perfumed, frilly, pink or yellow or purple envelopes. The stench was enough to make him consider looking for a mask.

Instead, breathing shallowly through his nose, he scooped all the letters up and dumped them in the nearest trash bin. One quick trip to the kitchen for a match (why waste the effort of a jutsu?), then he grabbed the trash bin and hauled it outside.

He took a deep breath of the fresh air, feeling it clear the clingy perfume of the letters away from him. A breeze suddenly swept over him, bringing with it the perfume. Sasuke wrinkled his nose and glared at the letters.

Lip curling in distaste, he set the waste bin down, lit the match, and dropped it into the enclosed container.

Naruto was waiting in the park for him. The boy saw him coming and waved energetically, smiling. "Yo, Sasuke!"

Sasuke gave a small wave back. Naruto grinned and ran up to meet the boy halfway.

"So wanna get started training right away? I..." As Naruto came closer, the blond wrinkled his nose. "Hey, what's that smell?"

Sasuke looked to the side, eyes refusing to meet the boy's. "What smell?"

Naruto was sniffing the air. "It's like... really powerful... perfume..."

Sasuke didn't say anything.

He'd been on his way to meeting Naruto when a girl had cornered him. She'd held out a letter and a perfume bottle. She'd babbled some nonsense about him being the most beautiful guy she'd ever seen, then in her agitation had tripped. The perfume bottle had hit Sasuke in the chest and broken, dousing him with the full contents.

Naruto stiffed the air around Sasuke, then got closer, until Naruto's nose was pressing into the fabric of Sasuke's shirt. Sasuke roughly pushed him.

"Get away!"

Naruto stared at his friend, gaping and wide-eyed. "You... /you/ smell like perfume!"

"Hmph." Sasuke walked past Naruto, the better to hide the blush that had blossomed on his cheeks.

The blond hurried after him, chortling. "The wonderful, perfect, lady killer Sasuke smells like a walking perfume bottle! Oh man, I'm gonna remember that for the rest of my life!"

A vein throbbed in Sasuke's forehead. "Shut up."

Naruto slapped a hand against Sasuke's back. "It's great! You smell like you /bathed/ in the stuff!"

Sasuke snapped. Seconds later, Naruto was lying on the ground, clutching his stomach, while Sasuke stood over him, fist clenched.


A light, becoming flush suffused Sakura's pale cheeks as she gently bit her lower lip, leaving it an inviting cherry red. Her eyes were turned to the ground, demure and shy, eyelashes fluttering. Her hands betrayed how nervous she was; they were in constant motion, playing with the hem of her outfit, twiddling, pulling stray pink hair back into place, and running over the skin of her arm.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "Well?"

Sakura took a deep, steadying breath, gathering her confidence, and pasted a bright, cheerful smile on her face that didn't quite reach her eyes. She clasped her hands together in front of her. "Sasuke-kun... the Hokage's birthday party is coming up, and... if you're still unpartnered, would you go to the party with me?"


He didn't wait to see her reaction. After knowing her for so long, he knew what she would do without having to look.

Sakura's shoulders would slump, her entire body caving in, crumbling. Her expression would dim, trapped within her own thoughts of failure.

At times like this, Naruto was supposed to bound over and ask her out instead. Her insecurity would turn to anger, and she'd lash out at Naruto. Then she'd be able to forget the pain of his refusal.

But Naruto wasn't around. She'd deliberately cornered Sasuke while he was on his way home, when Naruto wasn't with him. She'd wanted to ask him all alone, without the prying eyes of her friends or teammates or family or other rivals.

He refused to give her false expectations; he'd never been interested in her, and never would. To give her any reason to hope for something deeper than friendship would cause even more pain in the long run when he couldn't provide it.

So Sasuke continued to walk away, and didn't look back.

He wasn't more than a block or two away when he spotted Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru sitting in the middle of a field of flowers, looking at the clouds, smiling and laughing together.

There was something there, something within the three of them, that made him hesitate. He stopped, looking on with a strange wistfulness.

Ino saw him and immediately got up. Sasuke cursed and turned around, preparing to leave.

"Sasuke-kun!" Ino shouted.

He sighed and stopped, waiting impatiently for her to catch up.

She slowed down as she neared, taking her time to reach him. A large, flirtatious smile graced her lips. "Sasuke-kun, I have a question..." When there was no reaction from the other boy, she continued, "Will you go to the party with me?"


Ino sighed and shrugged. "I figured you'd say that." She winked at him. "But I'm not giving up, Sasuke-kun! So watch out!"

And with a laugh, she spun on her heel and headed back to her teammates.

"So, who are you going to choose?"

From his seat on Naruto's sofa, Sasuke looked down at the blond sprawled across the floor.

Sasuke shrugged. "I don't know."

Naruto rolled his eyes before looking up at Sasuke. "You'll have to choose eventually, you know."

Sasuke stared coldly at the blond. "I see no reason to."

"Oh, come on! You /have/ to bring someone to the party!"

He glared. "No, I don't."

Naruto sighed. He waved a hand in the general direction of the sofa. "You could take Sakura-chan. She knows you well enough not to expect too much, and then the girls would stop harassing you."

The black-haired boy ignored this. The girls annoyed him to no end; he refused to take any of them. And despite what Naruto thought, Sakura would read too much into it if he asked her to go with him.

"How about you?" Sasuke asked, pulling himself out of his inner debate.

Naruto sat up. Tucking his feet under him, he asked, "Me? What about me?"

Sasuke made an impatient gesture. "I mean, who are you taking?"

Naruto shrugged. "No one."

His eyebrows rose. "And you're telling /me/ I need a date?"

"It's different for you." Naruto's voice turned mocking. "You're the number-one rookie, Uchiha Sasuke, from the legendary Uchiha clan, and have the equally legendary Sharingan. All the girls love you."

Sasuke didn't argue, although a vein throbbed in his forehead.

"I, Uzamaki Naruto, am going to be Hokage, and someday I'll be able to beat you into the ground. ...But the girls don't know this. And Sakura-chan doesn't believe me."

"...Basically, you couldn't get a date even if you wanted to," Sasuke concluded, sounding as close to laughter as he ever came.

A blush rose on Naruto's cheeks. Growling, he launched himself at the other boy. Sasuke just braced himself, eyes dancing as Naruto landed lightly on top of him.

"I could so get a date!" Naruto pouted.


Naruto pouted for another few seconds before something seemed to occur to him. Grinning slyly, he brought his hands together, fingers automatically forming the seal he wanted.

Sasuke's eyes widened. "Oi! Naruto, don't!"


Naruto disappeared in a pop of smoke, leaving in his place a very voluptuous, very naked girl. Her long, blond hair trailed in two pigtails over her shoulder. She smiled coyly at Sasuke and batted her lashes.

"You could always take /me/ along."

Sasuke roughly shoved her off, causing her to fall with an audible /thump/ to the floor. "Turn back to normal, Naruto."

"No fun." The girl disappeared with another burst of smoke, returning Naruto to normal.

Since the Hokage had announced her birthday party two weeks ago, Sasuke had been plagued by girls. The more outgoing ones had asked and been refused. But the rest sent love letters, watched him, and otherwise made their presence known.

The love letters had increased to impossible numbers, and he found them everywhere – stuffed under the door, shoved through his window, hidden in various places in his apartment, thrown at him while walking... He didn't bother to open any; he just burned them. If it continued, he was considering burning the letters in public. Perhaps it would discourage more...

Worse than the letters were the girls who approached him. Some took it well, laughing it off or sighing. Others, though – usually the more nervous girls – seemed to take it hard, sobbing and crying and generally making a scene.

It was annoying.

Sasuke glanced around the small grove, his Sharingan spinning as he tracked the movements of his enemies. They surrounded him on all sides, forming a tight circle; more sat in the trees, watching and waiting for their opportunity.

There was no way for him to escape.

"Sasuke-kun, you have to make a decision!" Ino, the leader of the campaign, declared.

Sakura, Ino's second-in-command, nodded. "That's right! You can't keep us waiting this long!"

He glared as coldly as he was consciously able. "I'm not choosing any of you!"

Sakura bit her lip. "But Sasuke-kun..."

Ino clucked her tongue. "Tsk, tsk. Sasuke-kun, if you won't willingly choose one of us, then we'll force you to."

For one wild moment as he stared into their eyes, Sasuke wondered what kind of torture they were going to put him under. Thumb-screws? Fire? The press?

Everything was still.

The girls attacked.

"Kage Bushin no Jutsu!"

Suddenly, out of the trees popped two or three dozen versions of Naruto. The girls were so surprised, they stopped in their tracks and stared at the Narutos' heading towards them.

One Naruto broke off from the group and ran up to Sasuke. "Let's get out of here!"

Sasuke gave a tight nod.

Before any of the girls could react, the dozens of Narutos were disappearing with a loud /pop/. As the smoke cleared, they realized that their prey had disappeared with them.

Several minutes away, Sasuke and Naruto stopped, glancing around them for any possibility of attack. When none was forthcoming, they gave identical sighs of relief, walking along at a more sedate pace than before.

"I told you that you needed a date," Naruto pointed out smugly.

Sasuke glared. "And I told you that I don't."

The blond pointed back towards the way they'd come. "You /need/ one because of /them./ I never said you /wanted/ one."

Sasuke mentally admitted he had a point. If the girls were determined to force an answer out of him, there was only one solution he could live with.

He stopped. Naruto continued ahead, walking past him.


Naruto bounced on the heels of his feet as he turned to face Sasuke. "Hm?"

"I accept."

He blinked. "Accept what?"

"Your offer."

He blinked again, starting to frown. "My offer?"

Sasuke looked rather annoyed. "Since I don't seem to have any choice, I'll take along your girl form to the party."

"WHAT!" Naruto backed away slowly, waving his hands wildly in front of him. "Wait, wait, wait! When and where did I offer such a thing!"

"In your apartment, two days ago."

Naruto frowned, tapping his foot. Sasuke could almost see the moment the memory clicked into place. Paling, he said, "But... but that was a /joke!"

"Do you have a date yet?"

"Well... no..."

"Then you're coming as my date."

The blond stared at his companion. "That was the most unromantic offer I've ever heard."

Sasuke gestured. "Come on, we need to practice."

Naruto turned an interesting shade of red. "...Practice what?"


There was a pop of smoke, and where Naruto had been standing was a young woman with long, blond hair in two pigtails and three whisker-like marks on each side of her face.

She was also completely naked.

"Put some clothes on!"

"Oh yeah." Smiling sheepishly, she positioned her hands in the appropriate seal and said, "Henge!"

There was another burst of smoke, and suddenly she was wearing Naruto's usual orange pants and coat – although the coat fit a bit more tightly than it did on Naruto.

They were back at Sasuke's house. It seemed safer to be inside closed doors for the practice they needed to do.

Naruto-chan twirled and looked girlishly cute – a look Sasuke was sure the /girl/ had practiced. "Heh. So, what do you think of your date? Aren't I cute?"

Sasuke ignored this. "I'm assuming neither of us want you to be recognized for who you really are."

Naruto shook her head, pigtails flying. She had an expression of horror. "Of course not! Jeez, if the girls in the village found out who I was, I might be killed."

"And unfortunately, half the village knows what you look like in that form."

Naruto winced. That was true.

Smirking, Sasuke continued, "So, we need to adjust your appearance enough that no one will recognize you."

The blond nodded slowly. "I see..."

The boy raised a finger towards the girl's face. "First, get rid of the lines on the sides of your face – they're a dead giveaway. And change the hair color and hairstyle."

Naruto performed the seal. "Henge!"

The smoke cleared.

Sasuke nodded. "Better."

She gave a mocking bow. "Gee, thanks."

"...But change your eyes back to normal." He didn't look at Naruto as he said this.

Naruto blinked her slanted, almond-colored eyes and shrugged. "Okay, whatever."

"And change the hair a little..."

Sasuke awoke the next morning to a light rapping on his apartment door. "Mmgh..." He groaned and turned over.

The rapping continued, despite the pillow over his head. Finally, he threw the covers off and shouted. "All right, all right! Just a minute!"

It only took a few moments to put on some clothes and get to the door.

"Yes...?" he asked, glaring coldly at whomever had the absurdity to wake him up after spending most of the night before refining and practicing Naruto's new version of the Sexy no Jutsu.

Standing on the other side were Sakura and Ino.

He slammed the door on their faces.

"Sasuke-kun!" Ino shouted through the wood.

Sakura was just as vocal. "Sasuke-kun! Open up!"

"What am I, a criminal?" he mumbled, ignoring their request.

"We know about the woman who was in your apartment last night!"

"Who was she!"

It didn't sound like all they planned on doing was talking with the non-existent female.

He opened up the door. Icily, he said, "That was my date for the party."

Then he slammed the door again and went back to bed, despite the sound of banging and screaming.

Sasuke leaned against a tree in the park, his arms crossed and eyes closed. Around him, he could hear whispers and murmurs as people passed by.

The news that he had asked someone to the party had spread fast. By mid-morning, everyone in the village seemed to know. He'd been ignoring all the talk going on around him, but it was starting to get on his nerves.

Worse, the rumor mill was hard at work and had already invented a history for him and his "date."


Sasuke looked up. Naruto was further down the path, waving madly at him. The blond caught up, and they began walking towards the market center.

Naruto laughed gleefully, using his hands to full effect. "You gotta listen to what everyone's sayin' about your date! It's too funny!"

The boy cleared his throat and began solemnly, "She was a visiting ninja from another village, come to greet the Hokage - who she'd made friends with while the Hokage had still just been old lady Tsunade.

"You met her by chance in a field outside Konoha, took one look at her, and fell in love!" Naruto's eyes turned into little hearts. "She led a merry chase – but you were hopeful she would return your love, and spurned all offers from other girls. Eventually, she admitted she loved you. Now you're a happy couple, and no other girl stands a chance."

Sasuke glanced at his companion. He'd already heard the rumor, along with other variations. They'd incorporated love triangles involving everyone from Naruto to Neji, as well as duals to the death, affairs, and betrayals. Him and the mysterious girl had broken up and gotten back together at least three times.

The blond slapped his knee and cackled. "It's straight out of that stuff Kakashi-sensei is always reading!"

"How would you know what's in them? Don't tell me you've read one," he asked, smirking.

Naruto gave a little start. "Of...of course not..."

Sasuke stuck his hands in his pockets as he walked. Mockingly, he said, "Sure you haven't."

A small blush appeared on Naruto's cheeks, while his hands clenched into fists. "Sasuke!"

Sasuke chuckled.

Naruto was preparing to pummel Sasuke, while Sasuke continued to smirk, when they were interrupted by two loud voices calling from a distance. "/SASUKE-KUN/"

The boy in question cursed under his breath and reached for Naruto. The blond took his hand without comment, his attention focused on the two women running after them.

"Wha...? Sakura-chan? Ino?"

"Start running, idiot!"

The two girls' faces came within view. Naruto paled – they looked /mad./

The boys ran.

They stopped, panting, in the market, and slumped against the nearest wall, trying to get their breathing under control.

Losing Sakura and Ino had been tough, and required all their skills as ninja. They did everything – laying traps, bombs, triggering sprays of kunai - but Sakura and Ino proved to be an able-bodied team when forced to work together. It had been sheer luck they had finally managed to escape.

"That...was...difficult..." Naruto panted.

"Mm," Sasuke agreed, his body bent over.

"Why... were we... meeting again?"

"To find... a dress... for you... idiot..."

They lay resting for several minutes, waiting for their breathing to calm down. Eventually, Sasuke got up and patted himself off. "Let's get going before they catch up to us."

Naruto shuddered as he allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

The market was lined with stalls in-between the walk-in shops. Everything from bed sheets to fruit to various weapons were being sold. Due to the party being that night, the market was filled with last-minute shoppers. Most, Sasuke was relieved to note, were not girls his age.

"Hey, Sasuke! There's a clothing store!" Naruto said, pointing to their right.

Sasuke glanced at it. The sign read "Madam Rose." In the window was a beautiful, full-length gown next to a gorgeous, silk kimono.

Sasuke shrugged. "Sure."

The inside didn't disappoint. The shop seemed to cater to formal occasions. Every row, shelf, and hanger held a gown, a full-length kimono, or a formal suit.

From behind the counter bustled a big, rosy-cheeked woman wearing a green dress-suit. She smiled at the boys.

"Welcome, gentleman! I am Madam Rose, the owner. May I help you with anything today?"

Sasuke nodded coolly towards his companion. With a manic grin, which hid a certain amount of nervousness, Naruto brought his hands together in a seal. "Henge!"

Where Naruto once stood was Sasuke's date. Rose blinked at the change.

Sasuke waved towards Naruto-chan, who scratched the back of her head, and gave the woman a smile that was more of a wince. "This is my date for the Hokage's party. We need a dress for her."

Naruto eyed the woman, and the woman eyed her back. The speech had been carefully rehearsed - they had needed a plausible excuse to be out shopping for clothing for a girl. Still, sticking that closely to the truth made Naruto nervous.

Rose's eyes widened. Then she smiled and nodded, her face relaxing. "I see! She couldn't get away, the poor dear, so she asked you to shop for her."

The woman clucked her tongue admonishingly. "Not very wise, though, to leave two boys to do the choosing for her. It's a good thing she has Madam Rose to help!"

Naruto relaxed minutely. Sasuke flicked a glance over at her, eyes dancing and face expressionless. "I told you she'd understand," he said.

The woman rubbed her hands. "Yes, yes. Leave everything to Madam Rose!" Her eyes narrowed. "You have enough money?"

"Of course."

"Good, good..."

First, Naruto insisted on trying on an orange dress with a matching jacket, white fur trimming the collar. She posed proudly in front of her small audience, her hand displaying a "v" for victory.

"No," Sasuke said, voice monotone.

"Dear, dear, this won't do," Rose said, shaking her head.

The shopkeeper called for reinforcements – her two young assistants. Both smiled dreamily at the sight of Sasuke. Upon seeing the girl he was with, though, they sighed and gave each other commiserating looks.

"Now, then! Sasuke, please come back in roughly an hour and a half."

Naruto sent a horrified look in Sasuke's direction. Surely it didn't take that long to pick out a single dress!

"Half the fun for a girl is surprising a date with how good she looks!" she confided to the two boys, winking.

Naruto rapidly shook her head. Sasuke couldn't leave her alone with these... these /women/.

Sasuke didn't seem to hear her pleading, though, and just shrugged. "Whatever," he said as he walked away.

The vague fear Naruto had been feeling before turned into sheer terror as three sets of eyes turned their gazes on her. Was it just her, or did their eyes... glint?

After that, it was one dress after another. None looked quite right to Rose, although Naruto thought most of them were fine.

While Naruto was dressing in a spaghetti-strap red dress, Rose fingered another one, her eyes thoughtful. Finally, she nodded and handed it over the changing curtain to the boy-turned-girl.

"Try this one on."

"Whaat! I just got in /this/ one!" Naruto screeched indignantly. "Jeez."

There was rustling behind the curtain, and then Naruto stepped out.

Rose crossed her arms, looking satisfied for the first time since Naruto had started trying dresses on.

"It'll do," she pronounced.

Naruto, once again in his normal form, clutched the clothing bag on the way back to Sasuke's house. "I never want to shop for a dress again!" he declared, still looking rather frazzled around the edges.

Sasuke just shot him an amused look. "How often do you shop for dresses, Naruto-chan?"

A small, embarrassed blush appeared. "Shut up," he mumbled through gritted teeth.

They walked along in companionable silence for several minutes. Finally, though, Naruto asked a question that had been bothering him.

"Oi, Sasuke..."


"Why..." Naruto bit his lip, then continued, "Why didn't you wanna take out any of those girls chasin' after you?"

Sasuke blinked and looked at the blond. "Why /would/ I want to take any of them out?" he countered.

Naruto shifted the clothing bag under his arm and began ticking points off on his fingers. "The vast number of girls after you are very pretty."

Sasuke said sarcastically, "They're also fools, which somewhat detracts from their features."

Naruto continued doggedly, "They're devoted to you."

"They're obsessed, not devoted."

"They would do anything you asked."

Sasuke snorted. "Boring."

"They're...well, they're /girls, not guys transforming into girls."


Naruto glared at him before finishing, "And there's a lot less risk involved going out with a normal girl..."

Sasuke shook his head. "I refuse to go out with anyone who simpers my name like a love-sick buffoon and stalks me like a lunatic."

Naruto threw him a confused look. "So you'd rather go out with /me?"

Sasuke just smirked down at him. "Consider it ninjutsu training."

His companion rolled his eyes.

They arrived at the party at seven-o-clock precisely. Two bored-looking Chuunin ninja stood by the entrance to the arena, asking for invitations.

Everything was lit up. Colorful paper lanterns hung every few feet around the arena and the area surrounding the main entrance, casting a warm glow. Cheerful red and white paper streamers connected between the lanterns, adding a festive air.

From the shadows of a tree stood a male and female. The female eyed the entrance as if it were a mortal enemy, her fingers digging into the bark and face tight.

Naruto-chan took a deep breath and held it for several seconds before slowly letting it out, still glaring at the entrance just ahead. Not for the first time, she wondered why she was going along with this.

"Relax," Sasuke whispered.

"Easy for you to say! You're not wearing high heels!" Naruto whispered back furiously. She took another steadying breath, while Sasuke waited.

"Ready?" he asked, sounding impatient.

"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled.

Sasuke took her arm, and they walked leisurely towards the entrance. Their speed was enforced by Naruto, who had to go slowly or risk falling on her face.

The Chuunin at the entrance took their invitations without a word and ushered them through the doorway. They went almost unnoticed into the large arena.

Sakura was one of the few who saw them as they descended. She'd been watching the stairs ever since she arrived, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sasuke and his mysterious date.

She flicked her eyes towards the stairs, and gave a mental shout of triumph as she saw their two figures. Her patience had paid off.

Sasuke looked wonderful, as always. He wore a black, button-down silk shirt. The top three buttons had been left open, allowing a hint of the pale, smooth skin beneath. Crisp, black pants covered his legs, and he'd forgone a ninja's traditional sandals for black dress shoes.

The female... Sakura glared at her, despite knowing the woman couldn't see it. She had black hair that fell in gentle waves just past the middle of her back, and skin paler than Sasuke's. Part of her hair had been pulled into a bun at the back of her head, and blue beads sparkled and dangled from it, making her almost seem ethereal. Her low-cut, midnight blue, silk dress hugged her in all the right places, showing off her figure just enough to tantalize the male imagination. On her feet were matching high heel shoes that sparkled in the light. But most captivating of all were her wide, blue eyes.

They looked perfect together. And that just pissed Sakura off.

Her eyes narrowed as she looked the girl over again. So/this/ was the woman whom Sasuke had chosen. /Oh HELL no! He did not chose that... that.../ Even in her mind, she couldn't think of an awful enough word to describe Sasuke's date.

She elbowed Ino, who was standing next to her.

"Ow! Hey, what're you..."

Wordlessly, she pointed towards the stairs. Ino hissed as she took a hasty breath in.

"So... that's who won Sasuke's heart," Ino said, frowning.

"Should we introduce ourselves?"


Naruto glanced around the arena from the top of the stairs, searching for faces she knew... so she could avoid them.

Shikamaru and Chouji were standing by the wide buffet. Shikamaru looked bored, sipping a glance of punch lazily and talking with Chouji, while Chouji helped himself to a massive plate of food. Neji, Lee, Hinata, and Gai were talking in the middle of a crowd.

There were two faces in particular that he especially wanted to avoid, though: Sakura-chan and Ino. So, perhaps it wasn't so surprising that Naruto saw them first.

"Oi, Sasuke. Incoming."

Naruto nodded at the females coming towards them, a look in their eyes that made Naruto gulp reflexively.

Sasuke gave a slight grimace, but otherwise didn't react. "I don't think we can avoid this one," he muttered.

Ino and Sakura stomped up to them, fire in their eyes and auras glowing.

"INTRODUCE – US – TO – YOUR – DATE – SASUKE-KUN..." they said, words clipped.

Sasuke mentally sighed and recalled the manners his mother had pounded into him as a child, although they were rusty from disuse. "Ino, Sakura, I would like you to meet Ruka. Ruka-san, I would like you to meet Sakura and Ino."

"Ruka" smiled cheerfully and stuck her hand forward. "Hi!" she chirped.

Sasuke promptly stomped on her foot, shooting daggers at her. Belatedly, she saw the blank looks Ino and Sakura were sending her, and recalled what Sasuke had told her.

"Er... I mean... I'm very pleased to meet you, Sakura-san, Ino-san," she said, while giving a small, wobbly curtsey. Inwardly, Naruto vowed that, yes, Sasuke was going to pay for this humiliation.

Sakura and Ino gave her one last look, but curtseyed as well. "Pleased to meet you," they parroted.

Sakura smiled as brightly as the light off a razor. "So, how did you and Sasuke-kun meet?"

Naruto gave an equally false smile. "Um... We met in the market..."

Sasuke shrugged, "We're just friends." Naruto nodded.

Ino and Sakura both blinked. So... she wasn't Sasuke's girlfriend?

While they gaped at the pair, their brains slowly catching up, Sasuke grabbed Naruto's elbow. "If you'll excuse us..."

They were down the stairs before Ino and Sakura could think to move after them.

Sakura turned towards Ino. "So... they're /not/ lovers?"

"Then what was she doing in his apartment late at night?"

Identical evil grins broke across their faces. "This bears further investigation!"

Sasuke and Naruto slipped into the crowd with the stealth born of their ninja training... or they would have if Naruto hadn't been in shoes that made her even clumsier than normal.

"Where're we goin'?" Naruto said in the general direction of Sasuke's back, knowing her voice sounded strained.

The crowd was such that they were forced to wind their way in single file, their joined hands the only thing preventing the crowd from splitting them up.

Sasuke said over his shoulder, "To the dance floor. No one should interrupt us there."

Naruto ground to a halt, yanking sharply on Sasuke's hand. "D-dance!"

"You didn't think that all we were going to do was talk?" Sasuke snorted.

Naruto hadn't really considered the matter, if truth be told. "But... I've never danced!"

He rolled his eyes, looking entirely unsympathetic. "That's never stopped you in training. C'mon."

She pouted. "Jeez."

Several minutes later, they were on the edge of the dance floor. A lit, crystal globe had been set above their heads, suspended by robes and wires over the roofless arena. Spinning and twirling, it cast silver light among the dancers.

Naruto only had a moment to appreciate this before Sasuke was pulling her into the middle of the dancers. In the background, an orchestra played a slow love song.

"Slow songs are easy," Sasuke whispered as he halted. "All you do is sway to the music."

That sounded okay. Naruto relaxed a little...

...Until Sasuke put his hands on her hips and pulled her closer. She gasped, a blush spreading across her cheeks, and brought her fist up to punch him.

Sasuke caught the punch easily enough, smirking the entire time. He leaned into Naruto and whispered next to her ear, "Put your arms around my shoulders."

Naruto ground her teeth, but reluctantly allowed her arms to drape over Sasuke's shoulders. "I'm not gonna forget this," she hissed.

Sasuke's smirk widened. "I hope not."

Naruto frowned uncertainly at him.

From the sidelines, Shikamaru raised his eyebrows at the couple now swaying along to the music. "Well, look at that. Ino must not be very happy," he said to his friend.

"She's very pretty," Chouji mumbled through a mouthful of food.

"And very familiar..." said a voice from behind them. There was an accompanying bark.

Shikamaru glanced over his shoulder. "Kiba?" He looked at the girl dancing with Sasuke, then back at Kiba. "Why do you say that?"

"Call it a dog's instincts," Kiba said, grinning as he joined them. Akamaru, long since full grown, padded along at his side.

Shikamaru studied the girl in Sasuke's arms. "...hmm..."

On the other side of the ballroom, Sakura and Ino were thinking similar thoughts.

Sakura was frowning. "I'd swear I've never met her before, but at the same time..."

Ino nodded, stroking her chin. "Yeah, same here."

They stared with jealousy at the girl who'd managed to catch Sasuke's interest – a feat they'd both been trying for years and never succeeded at.

"You don't think she's trying to seduce Sasuke with her womanly charms, do you?" Ino asked, eyes flashing.

Sakura gave her friend a suspicious glance. "...Are you sure that's not /your/ plan...?"

"Uh... heh heh... whatever makes you say that...?" Ino laughed.


At first Naruto was clumsy, managing to step on Sasuke's feet more than once despite the lack of steps involved. But as they swayed to the music, gradually Naruto relaxed, and her feet began moving more naturally.

"You're getting used to it," Sasuke murmured next to her ear.

Naruto nodded cheerfully. "Yeah, it's just like learning a new jutsu!"

Sasuke's lips twitched suspiciously. "I suppose it is."

"Jeez, why didn't they ever teach this at the academy? It's great training for balance."

Sasuke shrugged. "Could you see the teachers trying to convince a bunch of kids to dance?"

Naruto gave a wide grin. "Heh, I would've been the first one to ditch class!"

The music stopped, and a new song came on. It was light, graceful, and spoke of majestic times.

Sasuke tilted his head to one side. "A waltz this time. We'll have to do more than just sway." All around them, couples were adjusting their steps to match the new music.

Naruto winced. She'd gotten used to the movement required in the last song, but her coordination still wasn't the best...

He saw the apprehensive look on her face and gave her a condescending smirk. "What, can't do it?"

Her eyes flashed. "I can do anything you can do!"

"Then keep up."

The steps were quick to learn, requiring no overly complicated motions. Naruto studied the movement of Sasuke's shoes, brow furrowed and tongue peaking out from between her lips. Soon enough, Naruto was doing the steps along with Sasuke.

When Sasuke felt that she had them down well enough, he nodded and said, "Good, now this is where your arms are supposed to go."

He took her left arm and placed in on his shoulder, letting his own hand fit snugly around the small of her back. He entwined his other hand with her right hand and held it.

Naruto blushed and glared up at him through her eyelashes. "If anyone ever finds out who I am, I'm going to kill you."

Sasuke snorted. "As if you could, idiot."

She nearly punched him. But as if sensing her intent, he gave an evil little smirk and said, "Get ready."

Naruto blinked, her anger disappearing under her confusion. "Get r---?"

She never finished the question. Suddenly Sasuke was whirling her, fast and breathless in a circle. Naruto came out of it amazed that her footing hadn't slipped.

But it was also /fun./ She grinned excitedly and laughed as they slowed down to the normal pace again. Sasuke gave her a returning smile as they continued to whirl about the dance floor to the strains of the waltz.

"So, how come you know how to dance the waltz?" Naruto asked after they'd completed another turn.

Sasuke shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "I just do."

Naruto wasn't about to leave it at that. Eyes gleaming with curiosity, she persisted, "Oh, c'mon! You had to learn it somewhere!"

Sasuke looked at a spot around Naruto's shoulder. "The Sharingan does more than copy jutsu..."

They kept whirling to the delighted sound of Naruto's laughter.

"My feet hurt," Naruto muttered.

Sasuke snorted. "We've only been dancing two hours."

Naruto poked him in the chest. "/You're/ not wearing high heels!"


She rolled her eyes. "So, we're sitting down before I /fall/ down. Wouldn't that look good? 'Sasuke's date collapses in the middle of dancing!'"

Sasuke glared, before finally stepping away and grabbing her hand. "Come on."

Naruto followed obediently, anxious to get off her feet.

Sasuke wound his way through the crowd, seeming to know his destination. A few minutes later, Naruto was able to collapse at one of the tables spread throughout the arena.

She slumped down and casually kicked her shoes off, then winced as the circulation in her toes began flowing again.

Sasuke sat next to her. Barely moving his lips, he muttered, "Shikamaru, Kiba, Ino, and Sakura have been watching us."

Naruto blinked up at Sasuke. "They have?"

"Mm... I wonder if they suspect something..."

Naruto cursed under her breath. Sasuke only caught a few words – "stupid" and "Sasuke" heard most prominently.

Sasuke hesitated, then said, "We can leave as soon as the Hokage makes her speech."

Naruto looked at him hopefully. "And when is that?"

"An hour."

"What do we do until then?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow as he looked at something just past Naruto's shoulder. Naruto blinked and followed Sasuke's gaze.

Standing behind her were Shikamaru, Kiba, and Chouji.

"Yo! How's it going?" Kiba greeted cheerfully, displaying and abundance of fang as he looked Naruto over.

"There's plenty of food," Chouji said helpfully.

Shikamaru sighed, "Guess I'll have to do the introductions. I'm Shikamaru, that's Chouji – " the boy pointed at his friend, " – and that's Kiba," Shikamaru finished, pointing at Kiba.

Kiba, meanwhile, walked up to Naruto and bowed. "And who are you?" he asked, grabbing her hand.

"R-Ruka," Naruto said, eyebrow twitching.

"What a pretty name," Kiba murmured, before bringing Naruto's hand briefly to his lips.

Naruto snatched her hand away like it had been burned. She tried to smile, but it came out as a snarl. Something in Sasuke's expression tightened.

Meanwhile, Shikamaru and Chouji had taken seats at the table. Kiba sat down in a chair next to Naruto, smirking in a satisfied sort of way. Akamaru panted lazily, sitting close to Naruto and his tail wagging.

"So, where did Sasuke meet a pretty girl like you, Ruka-san?" Kiba asked. It almost sounded like a challenge.

Naruto answered. "Oh, we met in the market about two weeks ago."

"And it was true love from the moment you saw him, right?" Kiba asked.

Naruto's hands clenched in her lap, but she managed to keep her smile in place. Kiba was definitely challenging them.

Sasuke answered this time, tone flat and forbidding. "We're just friends."

Chouji asked innocently, "Really?"

Kiba smirked as he said, "It didn't look that way when you two were dancing."

Naruto gave a bright laugh, eyes scrunching into little half moons that hid their furious expression. "Oh, that's because I love to dance! But my feet started hurting, so I had to take a break."

Shikamaru said in an offhand, bored manner, "It looked like Sasuke was teaching you how to dance."

A vein throbbed in her forehead. Naruto laughed again. "I've never had a chance to practice. Sasuke-" Sasuke shot Naruto a warning look, and she hastily tacked on, "-kun was kind enough to show me."

Kiba smiled toothily at Sasuke. "That sure was nice of you, Sasuke-/kun/."

Sasuke didn't bother glaring at Kiba, he only /looked./ Kiba shifted his eyes away.

Silence filled the table until Shikamaru yawned. "I wonder where Naruto is? Sasuke, did you hear anything from him?"

Sasuke shrugged. "He decided not to come."

Chouji sighed. "That's too bad. They have ramen at the buffet."

Naruto sat up. "Ramen?" To emphasize, her stomach rumbled loud enough for the table to hear it.

A muscle twitched in Sasuke's forehead.

She looked with sparkly eyes over at Sasuke. "Sasuke-kun..."

He glared for a few seconds before sighing. "Alright, alright. Put your shoes back on."

"Yes!" she cheered, already bending down and retrieving her shoes. "Let's go!"

She bounced onto her feet, willing to endure any torture for the promise of ramen. Then she turned toward Sasuke, prepared to pull him along if necessary.

But her feet, trapped within the unfamiliar heels, didn't like the motion, and she found herself pitching forward towards the floor.

Surprisingly, Naruto didn't get far. Two arms wrapped around her waist, and her shoulders and head were stopped well before they had reached the floor.

"Clumsy idiot," Sasuke whispered into her ear.

A shiver worked its way through her body at the softly spoken words. Blushing, Naruto grumbled into Sasuke's chest, "Let go of me."

Sasuke gave a small "hmph" and helped Naruto regain her feet. Naruto carefully stepped on the ankle that had caused the problem, and was able to stand without pain.

"Ramen! Ramen, ramen!" Naruto chanted, grabbing onto Sasuke's arm and dragging him through the crowd. Sasuke let her, looking pained.

Back at the table, Shikamaru and Chouji turned towards Kiba. Shikamaru looked impatient, and Chouji curious. "Well?" Shikamaru asked.

Kiba smirked, sitting back in his chair. "That was Naruto, definitely." He tapped his nose. "I could smell it when I kissed her hand. And Akamaru confirmed it." Akamaru gave a woof of agreement.

Shikamaru raised his eyebrows. "Really..."

Meanwhile, above the stands in the Hokage's personal seating, the person who's birthday was being celebrated grumbled to herself.

"I'll never forgive you, Jiraiya," she said, giving her best attempt at a death glare.

Jiraiya laughed. "You haven't celebrated your birthday in twenty years! It seemed like a good idea."

Her glare just turned sour. "There's a /reason/ I haven't celebrated it in all that time."

Jiraiya laughed a little more nervously than before, but forged on regardless. "Besides, look at all the presents people have given you," he said, waving a hand at a room just beyond their seating area, which was filled with boxes, cards, and other miscellaneous junk she hadn't gotten around to opening yet.

Reluctantly, Tsunade gave a small smile. "Well, there is that..."

Jiraiya relaxed, feeling the wave of anger directed at him pass. Perhaps now he could go out and mingle with the crowd... see what the young beauties were wearing this season... He smiled.

"...but that still doesn't mean I forgive you," she added, voice going cold again. "You had /no right/ to send out those birthday invitations in my name!"

He resigned himself to a night of placating the Konoha leader.

Naruto patted her stomach happily. A bowl of miso ramen, and she was much more agreeable. Sasuke munched absently on the remains of a dumpling.

"So what now?" she asked, looking out across the crowd.

"We could dance," Sasuke said emotionlessly.

Naruto winced and shook her head. "No. Definitely not."

Restraining an amused smile, Sasuke said, "There's also-"

Sasuke cut off when he felt a hand come down roughly on top of his head.

Kakashi smiled at Sasuke through his mask. Their differences in height had diminished over the years, but Sasuke was still shorter than his sensei. "Good evening, Sasuke," he nodded cheerfully at Sasuke's date, "...and Naruto."

From behind him came Iruka, who looked fondly at Naruto. "We were surprised at your appearance, Naruto."

Sasuke and Naruto both gaped. "How...h-how..." Naruto stuttered, going pale.

Sasuke frowned. "You used the Sharingan."

Kakashi laughed, lightly shaking his head. "No one but Naruto would choose ramen over everything else."

Iruka just smiled and brushed a finger over Naruto's cheek. "...And you forgot to change Naruto's eyes. They're still exactly the same."

Naruto's thoughts rushed in her head as she tried to decide what to do. Finally, she just shrugged and smile cheerfully at her teachers. "So, how do you like it? I think it looks pretty good!" In emphasis, she blew a kiss at them.

Sasuke relaxed minutely as his two teachers joked good-naturedly with Naruto.

Eventually, Iruka turned to Sasuke, a questioning look on his face. "How come you chose Naruto, anyway? I saw that mob of girls after you."

Kakashi stroked his chin. "Yes... I was curious about that myself."

Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "He offered. I accepted."

Naruto turned beat red and threw her date a deadly glare. "I was /joking/."

He smirked at her knowingly.

She screeched and tried to launch herself at him, only to be held back by Kakashi, who lazily grabbed hold of her arms.

Sounding amused, Kakashi said, "You can't kill your date."

Naruto just thrashed harder, her face completely red.

"G-good evening, Sasuke-kun," Hinata greeted, one hand raised partially in greeting.

"Good evening," Neji said.

Lee grinned. "How're you doing, Sasuke?"

Naruto smiled as the three walked up, and nearly called out a greeting, until she remembered that she wasn't supposed to know them.

Sasuke nodded slightly at the three. "Good evening. I would like to introduce Ruka. Ruka-san, these are Rock Lee, Hyuuga Neji, and Hyuuga Hinata."

"I'm pleased to meet you," Naruto chimed in, giving a small curtsey.

The three bowed as well. Hinata smiled shyly at Naruto, but in a way that didn't strike Naruto as being as weird as usual. Maybe it was because she wasn't fiddling with her fingers...

"So, how are you enjoying the party so far? We saw you dancing earlier," Lee asked brightly.

"I've had a wonderful time! Sasuke-kun's been very nice to me," Naruto gushed. She batted her eyelashes at him, her hands held demurely in front. Sasuke twitched.

Neji expression didn't change, but he seemed to be studying Naruto, searching for something. Naruto scratched the back of her head self-consciously.

Hinata smiled at Naruto. "I'm so glad that you're having fun," she said sincerely.

Naruto smiled back. "What about you, Hinata-san?"

She blushed and hid her face in her hands. "Ah... Neji nii-san and Lee-kun have been kind."

"That's good." Naruto's smile softened.

Neji looked at Sasuke, pale eyes intent. "Where's Naruto?"

Sasuke shrugged. "He said he didn't want to come."


Lee shook his head. "He'll be sorry he missed the ramen at the buffet."

Naruto grinned, looking satisfied. "It was really good!"

"You had the ramen?" Neji asked.

"Of course! I love ramen!" Naruto declared proudly.

Warning bells went off belatedly in Naruto's head. "I-I mean... ramen is o-okay..." She gave an attempt at a grin.

"You should have something more healthy, Ruka-san," Lee said earnestly, waving a finger. "A growing body needs fruits and vegetables, too."

"She seems to manage," Sasuke said, glaring down at his date.

Naruto glared back. This was all Sasuke's stupid idea in the first place.

"Ruka-san, may I have the next dance?" Neji said suddenly.

Naruto blinked. "Um..."


Sasuke's eyes narrowed. Neji was pressing exactly the right buttons.

"F-Fine!" Naruto said, holding out a hand.

Sasuke clenched a fist, teeth gritting. /Naruto, that idiot/

They were halfway to the dance floor when Naruto's brain finally caught up with her words. /Naruto, you idiot/ The longer she was in Neji's company, the more likely she was to be unmasked. Even without activating the Byakugan, Neji was a master of reading people. She stopped. "Actually... my feet really hurt from dancing with Sasuke..."

Neji raised an eyebrow. "You seemed to be doing better earlier."

Naruto pouted, a stubborn gleam in her eyes. "Well... I'm not."

"If you wish, we can go outside for some fresh air instead," Neji offered.

Naruto blanched. She'd hoped that if she protested, Neji would take her back to Sasuke.

It just figured the bastard would turn it back on her. Being alone with Neji outside was just as bad as dancing with him, if not worse.

Naruto wracked her brains for something else, but nothing came to mind. She was stuck.

"I-it's okay. I should be fine, as long as it's just one dance."

Neji nodded, and they walked the rest of the way to the dance floor. Naruto took one last glance behind her, and saw Sasuke glaring. She gulped.

The strains of a waltz started up just as they reached the floor. Neji took her hands and twirled her expertly to the music. She admitted reluctantly that he was a good dancer.

"Are you from Konoha, Ruka-san?"

Naruto shook her head. "Um... no, I-I'm just visiting."

"Oh, from where?"

This was something that Sasuke and her hadn't discussed. "O-oh, um... C-Cloud Village..."

Neji nodded. "Ah, from Water Country."

Naruto smiled brightly up at Neji. "Yes, exactly!"

Neji sighed, a light smile on his lips. "Cloud Village is in Lightning Country, Naruto."

Naruto froze, heart suddenly pounding in her ears. "Wh-wh-wh..."

Neji smirked and twirled her around the dance floor. "Don't worry, I won't tell. I just wanted to know either way."

Naruto's heart continued to pound, but the intense light in Neji's eyes had dimmed. It seemed he really had just been curious. Her shoulders relaxed. "...Jeez, you really scared me," she grumbled.

"It seemed odd that Sasuke would take anyone to the dance, let alone some girl no one had ever heard of before." They moved into a simpler form of the waltz, following the pattern of the dancers around them.

"Okay, but... but how did you suspect it was me?"

Neji gave her an odd look, as if the answer were obvious. "Who else would Sasuke invite but you?"

As promised, Neji returned Naruto to Sasuke's side the moment the dance was over. She smiled demurely at Neji. "Thank you for the dance, Neji-san."

Neji bowed over her hand, smiling. "Thank you for permitting me one."

Sasuke's fists clenched as Neji once more stood by Hinata and Lee. His eyes held onto Sasuke's, and he nodded.

/He knows./

Naruto began to make small talk with Hinata and Lee, asking them about aspects of their training and the food at the buffet. Neji took the opportunity to shift towards Sasuke.

"You date is unique," Neji said blandly.

"Yes, she is," Sasuke agreed, voice monotone.

"I'd be curious to learn how you managed to convince her to come with you."

Sasuke glanced at Neji. He saw nothing but curiosity and a touch of humor in the pale eyes. Sasuke smirked, eyebrows raised. "I'll tell you later."

From the Hokage's platform, Tsunade approached and spread her arms, asking for silence.

Sasuke nudged Naruto, who turned from her talk with Lee about training methods to look at the platform.

"Thank you, everyone, for coming to my birthday celebration! It's meant more to me than you know..."

Naruto blinked at the trace of sarcasm audible in her voice. Next to Tsunade, she saw Jiraiya wince.

"This party is more than a celebration for me, though – it is to honor the hard work and talent of Konoha. Without everyone here, Konoha would not be what it is today.

"I am and have always been proud to be the Hokage of this village. Thank you, everyone, for coming tonight and taking a well-deserved rest."

Finally, she bowed to the assembled and the chatter resumed in the arena.

Naruto turned big, sparkly eyes upon Sasuke. "We can leave now, right?"

Sasuke's lips twitched, holding back an amused smile. "...Yeah."

"Great!" she cheered. "Lee-san, Neji-san, Hinata-san, please excuse us!"

She sped away without waiting for an answer, leaving Sasuke to make more polite goodbyes.

At Naruto's apartment, Naruto opened the door and turned towards Sasuke. She gave a big grin and fluttered her eyelashes. "So, you gonna give your date a kiss goodbye?"

Sasuke snorted and pushed past her. Naruto just chuckled under her breath.

"Get serious, idiot."

Half an hour and one shower later, Naruto was feeling much more himself. The dress was hidden as far back in his closet as he could stuff it. Sasuke had barely convinced him out of destroying the high heels, instead arguing that they might come in handy again. Would he want to shop for another pair? Naruto hoped he wouldn't ever be put in another position that he had to wear high heels, but...

Naruto came out with a towel around his shoulders and his pajamas bottoms on. Sasuke was lounging on the sofa, his head tilted back and eyes closed. He'd unbuttoned his shirt, letting the sides fall away to reveal a tantalizing strip of skin.

Naruto swallowed involuntarily. Then, shaking his head, he put on his brightest smile and said, "That went well!"

Sasuke opened his eyes sleepily, as if it were almost too much effort to open them. "Yeah, I guess."

Naruto frowned. He wanted more of a response than /that/ after all the trouble he'd gone through! With an evil smile, he performed the necessary seal. "Henge!"

Sasuke's eyes went wide, and a slightly panicked look entered them. "Oi, stop that!"

"Ruka" now stood in Naruto's pants, sans top, and gave Sasuke a flirtatious wink. "So? Did I live up to your expectations?"

Sasuke just glared. The other boy could see something running through Sasuke's head. Finally, he seemed to come to a decision, and an evil smile that put Naruto's to shame appeared on his lips.

Naruto had no idea what he was planning, but decided he didn't want to find out. "Eh heh heh..."

He let the transformation go, leaving him as plain old Naruto. "Just kidding, just kidding!" Scratching the back of his head embarrassedly, he chanced a look at Sasuke.

Sasuke had gotten up and was stalking towards Naruto, his shirt parting as he moved. Naruto hastily backed up, until he was stopped by the inconvenience of a wall.

"S-Sasuke, it's not good to kill your date! Y-you heard Kakashi!" Naruto stuttered, waving his hands in front of him to ward the other boy off.

Sasuke just kept on grinning that grin which Naruto knew would become part of his nightmares later... if he survived this.

"O-oi! T-think about this for a m-minute!" Naruto dropped his arms and gripped the back of the wall.

The dark-eyed boy pounced. Naruto refused to close his eyes, although it took a conscious effort to keep them open.

But instead of the punch he thought was coming, Naruto felt warm, soft lips covering his own.

He was completely unresponsive for all of five seconds from the shock of the attack. But finally Naruto's brain kicked into gear, and he...

...he kissed Sasuke back.

When they broke for air, Naruto muttered, "So that's why you went out with me..."

He could feel Sasuke smile against his shoulder.

Outside the window of Naruto's apartment, on the roof of the building opposite his own, stood two figures.

Sakura smiled triumphantly at the couple. "So /Ruka/ was /Naruto/."

Ino smirked, hand on her hip. "It makes more sense than some mysterious girl suddenly showing up and stealing Sasuke's heart."

The edges of Sakura's smile tightened, her eyes turning just a bit wistful as she looked at her teammates. Still, she nodded and whispered more to herself than Ino, "I can accept this."

Ino glanced at her. She bit her lip, hesitated, then gave her brightest grin. "Let's get back to the party! I bet the Hokage has begun opening her presents."


Sakura continued to stare for a few seconds before turning away and following after Ino.