Chapter Twenty-one Jaded one-sided love and a funeral...


Sakura couldn't believe that TenTen actually wanted to have a discussion with her, especially considering that when she first started there they were seconds away from a girlfight. Sakura's aqua eyes dimmed. Had Ino been right in her assumption of her, or was she just jaded because of her past, her past as a nobody, that no one liked; hiding behind her attitude to protect herself. TenTen pulled Sakura into her office and closed the door behind her. Sakura looked around the small space wondering when she was going to get an office of her own, if she ever would? It was the closest she was ever going to get to Sasuke, and for some reason that fact did not bother her as much, not anymore.

"Sit down, would you like some coffee before we start?" Sakura shook her head, but she did sit down. TenTen started the coffee machine and sat down as well. Sakura noticed the bags under her eyes and stared, TenTen seemed to read her mind:


Sakura smiled, she was no stranger to those. TenTen didn't start talking automatically, she spent a few moments staring at Sakura, until the other woman nervously folded her hands in her lap.

"Why do you like Sasuke? He's an ass."

Sakura looked at her, her mind nearly drawing a blank. Why did she like Sasuke?

"I think I like him because... it just makes sense for me to like someone like him, right? He's young, attractive, established, powerful... he seems like he'd be the perfect husband, the type of man any self respecting girl would want on her arm." Sakura wrung her hands together. "I was mostly attracted to his intelligence, I use to imagine the two of us staying up to all hours of the night exchanging wit. It sounds stupid, but he was the reason why I decided to become a writer... because I wanted to get closer to him, close enough to touch his face." Sakura's eyes stung as she gave her reason, staring down at her folded hands until they blurred before her.

TenTen laid her head on her folded hands, giving Sakura a sympathetic stare.

"I told you I didn't like you, I think my opinion of you is starting to change." Sakura looked up at her in shock, some of her tears catching the light and glinting. TenTen gave her a sad smile. "I understand how you feel, because I to am in love with someone who is unreachable."

Sakura would have never guessed. TenTen seemed so independent, like a woman who didn't really need a man in her life to function.

"I think you already know who that someone is," TenTen gave her an even stare. Sakura's eyes widened further.

"Neji?" It was so obvious. TenTen nodded her head.

"The two of us kind of grew up together. I had a crush on him ever since I was thirteen years old, and I had always figured that we'd end up together. I never suspected that Neji batted for the other team, he just didn't seem like the type." TenTen looked away. "Then I figured that he wasn't gay, because sometimes you just fall for someone and rather its your sex or the other, you really have no power over it, you just love that person exclusively."

"I remember I confessed to Neji in our last year of High School, unbeknowst to me him and Gaara were already an item, but they weren't out in the open and I never would have guessed, because I never really saw them together, they weren't even friends." Sakura felt her heart constrict when she saw the shallow tears in TenTen's eyes. "It was really hot that day and Neji had smiled at something I said and without thought I told him that I loved him. Neji paused, and with a sad sort of look in his eyes he told me that he could not return my feelings, because he was in love with someone else."

TenTen wiped at her eyes. "I never spoke to him again after that, I was too heartbroken and didn't trust myself to face him without bursting into tears. I've accepted the reality that we'll never be together, but I still love him and I guess I always will." TenTen shrugged and smiled at Sakura, tears slipping from from her lashes and falling down her cheeks. Sakura stood up and rushed over to her, just as TenTen's shoulders began to shake uncontrollably. Sakura wrapped her arms around TenTen and held her close, resting her head atop TenTen's.

Tears sparkled along Sakura's lashes as she comforted TenTen, her heart breaking in her chest. She would always love Sasuke too.


"Are you ever sincere about anything?" Gaara growled as he glared at his idiot boyfriend. "Naruto was really hurt over the whole thing and for good reason, and all you can think about is having sex with me."

"It wasn't like that Gaara, I was just saying that if the two of them aren't together, then we wouldn't be able to spend any time together because you'd be too busy comforting Naruto."

"In why is that a problem? Naruto was here first, I'm not just going to abandon him to go do it with you, because that's all you ever want to do." Neji blinked at him, wondering why he was being attacked and Gaara was sounding like such a girl?

"Gaara you know I don't just want to have sex with you, we just always end up having sex."

"Because you're always horny."

"I'm a man, its my default setting."

Gaara stared at him. "If you haven't noticed, I'm a man too and I hardly think about sex as much as much as you."

Neji sighed. "I really don't want to argue, especially over something so stupid, if you want me to be more romantic just come out and say it."

"I'm not a girl."

"I didn't--" Neji sighed again, feeling a headache coming on. "How about I take you out tonight, or I can just make you up something nice and we can stay in and watch movies in cuddle, we don't even have to have sex, not unless you want to."

Gaara was quiet as he thought this over. "I like the dinner an a movie, and no sex unless I'm in the mood, meaning don't provoke me by kissing or touching me."

"Wha--I can't kiss you?"

"No tongue." Neji groaned, but nodded his head. He took a cautious step towards Gaara.

"Are we good?"

"Yeah," Gaara answered pushing Neji back with his fingers. "For now."


Sasuke kissed a path of fire down Naruto's neck at the same time tweaking his nipple. Naruto groaned and arched into him, his hands trailing down Sasuke's smooth pale chest and stomach to the hem of his slacks, his fingers playing with the buckle of Sasuke's belt. Naruto skimmed the other man's bulge with his knuckles; Sasuke nearly bit through Naruto's bottom lip in his frustration.

"I'm horny as fuck Naruto, now we're either going to get to the foreplay, or I'm going to fuck you into my desk, your choice."

Naruto snorted, pushing Sasuke back and going down onto his knees. He made quick work of Sasuke's pants pulling them down to his ankles and giving the other man's aching member some air. Sasuke's fingers twitched in anticipation. Naruto smirked and laved his tongue around the head, nipping at the tip and tonguing the slit. Sasuke's head tilted back and covered his mouth to contain his moans, his other hand snaking into Naruto blond tresses and gripping. Naruto stroked Sasuke's length and palmed his balls, preparing himself to deep throat, as it was new to him and he didn't want to gag.

Naruto pulled back and pumped Sasuke, at the same time placing two fingers in his mouth coating them in his saliva. His blue eyes took in Sasuke his own dark eyes closed in his pleasure. Naruto made sure his fingers were nice in wet and then at the same time he took Sasuke in all the way to the hilt, he pushed his fingers into his ass. Sasuke gasped in shock, but Naruto held him in place with his mouth, scratching the sensitive skin with his teeth and pushing his fingers in deeper, deep enough to scissor. Sasuke let out a choked moan and glared down at Naruto.

"N--Nnn--Naruto, what the--ah--fuck are you doing?" Sasuke hissed out. Naruto smiled around the girth in his mouth and inserted a third finger. Sasuke's knees buckled and both his hands fisted in Naruto's hair as he tried to keep himself upright. Naruto had been entertaining thoughts of topping Sasuke since their first time, he had just been waiting for the right moment to catch the other man off gaurd, and this was total payback for nearly breaking Naruto's heart. Naruto sucked him off until Sasuke cried out that he was about to cum, specifically when Naruto's fingers brushed against that sweet spot inside his body, that made stars burst in full color behind his eyes.

Naruto released Sasuke with a loud smacking sound and stood to remove his pants. Sasuke had of course saw him fully naked before, but then again he was always doing the taking. Naruto loved the way Sasuke's eyes widened when Naruto freed his dick from his boxers; so erect that it curled up into his stomach.

"Naruto I think we should discuss this," Sasuke stuttered taking a step back and nearly tripped over his trousers, since they were still wrapped around his ankles. Naruto grabbed his arms and pulled Sasuke flush against his body, kissing him and pulling the other man's tongue into his mouth and sucking on it. Sasuke melted into Naruto, wrapping his arms around his neck and kicking his pants off. Naruto backed up into Sasuke's desk and then flipped them over, lifting Sasuke up easily and placing him spread legged on the edge of it. Sasuke's chest was practically heaving in his excitement, he had never been on the bottom before, the thought had honestly never appealed to him, but he felt comfortable enough with Naruto to let him take control.

Naruto kissed him slowly, the head of his dick pressing up against Sasuke's hole. Sasuke kissed Naruto back, harder, tangling his fingers in Naruto's hair and closing his eyes tight against the pain. This time he was going to relinquish the dominant role and let himself be taken. He loved Naruto just that much.


the previous night...

Iruka wrapped his arms around Kakashi as the other man settled his weight a top him and laid his head on Iruka's chest. The erratic beating of Iruka's heart a comfort to him. Iruka stared up at the ceiling and stroked Kakashi's damp silver hair, loving the feel of Kakashi's strong, lean and sweaty body on his.

"Kakashi... are you sleep?"

There was a short pause: "No."

Iruka sighed and stroked his back. "Are you thinking?" Kakashi nodded his head. "About Rin?"

"Yes, but not only that," Kakashi hesistated. "I'm thinking about you, me... us."

"I'm never going to leave you Kakashi."

"No one lives forever." Kakashi's voice was hard. Iruka's eyes widened slightly as he realized what Kakashi was hinting at. He held Kakashi tighter.

"That's true, but maybe you should stop thinking about yourself Kakashi, because you aren't the only one whose lost someone." Kakashi stiffened and sat up, his two oddly colored eyes staring into Iruka's warm brown one's.

"... Iruka..." Kakashi looked away, ashamed. "... I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't thinking about your feelings, I'm just so use to people leaving that I've grown to just accept it. Obito... Rin... him..."

Iruka's heart leaped into his throat. Kakashi never talked about him, in fact Iruka didn't even know who this mysterious man's name was. There was only five people in this world that Kakashi cared for, Iruka was one of them, his mother, who died from cancer when he was still a child, Obito, Rin and this man who Kakashi never felt comfortable speaking of. Iruka never pressed the issue, because he knew how much it pained Kakashi, but he had to know, because if they were going to make it work there couldn't be any secrets between the two of them. Iruka smoothed his hands along Kakashi's shoulders in soothing circles and took that leap.

"Who is this man Kakashi? I would like to know... I don't think we should keep such secrets from each other, because we should be able to depend on one another, if you're hurting, I want to help you through that hurt." Kakashi sat all the way up and Iruka sat up with him, pulling the sheets around both their bodies. He scooted up behind Kakashi and looped his arms around the other man's shoulders, kissing his neck. "If you're not ready Kakashi, I--"

"No, Iruka, I want to tell you who he was."

Iruka was surprised by this, but it warmed his heart nonetheless. He waited patiently for Kakashi to begin, letting the other man know that he could go at it own pace, Iruka wouldn't force him.

"I was in love with another man before you, his name was Sun Uzumaki." Iruka gasped. Naruto's father!?

"Kakashi..." Iruka was speechless. Kakashi shook his head, he didn't want to be interupted.

"I was bright, but I had a nasty attitude. I made good grades, scoring at the top of my class, but I could never stay in school long enough for it to matter, because I was always getting kicked out. I was quite the troublemaker when I was younger and got picked on a lot. My mother had died and my father was an abusive alchoholic because of it; I didn't have anyone, but Rin and Obito, and aside from them I trusted no one."

("If it isn't Kakashi," sneered one of the older students. "Hiding from your daddy?"

Kakashi's one visible eye flashed, the other hidden behind an eye patch, the result of one of his father's frequent drunken rages. Kakashi crossed his arms over his chest and leaned up against the side of the school building, deciding not to rise to the idiot's bait, it was exactly what he wanted him to do. Kakashi ignored him. The boy didn't like this and getting up into Kakashi's face he grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and yanked him up.

"Don't ignore me you piece of shit Hatake! You think you're all that just because you're at the top of the class and your dad use to be the mayor," he then smirked. "But then your model mom died and your dad went batshit crazy, and now he beats you for the fun of it--" The boy hit the ground with a loud thud, nursing his rapidly swelling jaw. Kakashi gripped the boys neck and hovered menacingly over him.

"You don't know shit about me or my family!" Kakashi made to punch him again, but was pulled swiftly off the other boy and into a hard solid chest. Sun Uzumaki looked down at the boy on the ground, sniffling, saliva dripping from his crooked mouth.

"Go see the nurse, then head straight to the office Miyako, I won't have you bullying students younger than you." Miyako stood up and took off. Kakashi ripped himself free from the man's hold and whirled around, but the rant died on his tongue when he saw who it was. Sun's blue eyes bored into Kakashi's lone ice blue one, his spiked blond hair shimmering in the sunshine. Kakashi's cheeks burned. Sun smiled down at him.

"Hatake Kakashi, right?" Kakashi nodded.

"You haven't been in school for two weeks, is something wrong?"

Everything, was what Kakashi wanted to say, but he held it in. "No sensei, nothing is wrong."

"Then why aren't you in school?" Sun asked patiently.

"I don't like school," Kakashi shrugged, looking off to the side.

"That's no good, without an education you'll never amount to anything."

"I don't need school." Kakashi snorted, he had heard that speech a thousand times already.

"You would say that, though your arrogance is founded, your scores are always impressive when you choose to apply yourself, and you're intelligent enough to be raised up a grade or two, why throw that all to waste just because you don't like school?"

Kakashi glared and made to walk pass him. "Quit acting like you care!" Sun stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder, his handsome face open and sincere, it made Kakashi pause.

"I'm not acting, Kakashi, I do care and you're not going anywhere. I have a free period, so why don't we go back to my room and talk, we can figure out this school thing together, what do you say?" Sun smiled. Kakashi's one visible eye widened slightly, his heart thumped in his chest. Why couldn't he just push this man away like all the other teachers? It was just something different about this man, he was honest. Kakashi hesitated and then nodded his head. Sun ruffled his hair and laughed lightly.

"Good, because I wasn't going to take no for an answer anyway, you're too smart to throw your life away.")

"Sun became my whole world after that, I was in love with him, but I knew I could never have him, because he was straight." Kakashi stared down at his lap.

Iruka was confused. "I don't understand, Naruto's father wrote gay novels."

Kakashi's lips quirked up in a wry smile. "You don't have to be homosexual to write the material Iruka." Iruka blushed, he had known that, but he just figured... even if he had had Naruto, that maybe he was bisexual.

"I loved him in secret for a long time, but I never got the courage to tell him. When he got married I gave up and when he had Naruto, I knew I had lost him forever." Kakashi took hold of Iruka's right hand and kissed his fingers. "His wife was beautiful and had died during childbirth, an though her passing caused him great pain he never let it get him down and continued to smile to the very end; he gave Naruto double the love for the both of them. I found my suppressed feelings for him return after her death, wishing that my dad would have taken my mom's death with the same kind of endurance, and loved me."

Iruka closed his eyes, feeling his heart ache for Kakashi. He didn't know what it felt like to not have a father's love, because his mother and father had both been kind and loved him greatly.

"I was content to love him from a distance, if it meant I could always be near him, but one day our relationship changed and was never the same again."

(Kakashi sat cross-legged on the floor and bit the inside of his cheek. He was nearing graduation and the last of the year's finals were really taking there toll on him. Kakashi had Sun to thank for why he was even going to graduate a year earlier than he was really supposed to. He had already gotten accepted into the most prestigious University in their state, Konoha, an though his dad still wallowed in his own self pity, he did say he was proud of Kakashi, before he hung himself. Kakashi grimaced, he didn't like to think of his father, dangling there, his face so much like his own; afterwards he had started hiding his face. The boys thought it was cool in the girls just thought it sexy, which was why he could never keep them off of him. Kakashi scratched at the cloth on his face, his brows scrunching together as he tried to figure out this rather tough Trig question.

Sun wandered into the room with two cups of steaming tea, a bright smile on his face.

"Naruto is sleep, so we should be undisturbed for the next three hours or so." Sun placed the cup of tea next to Kakashi's lax hand and pretended not to notice him wince at the mention of his toddler son.

Kakashi had nothing against Sun's son, the bright eyed, yellow haired two year old was actually a joy to be around, it was just that his mere existence reminded him of the distance between him and Sun and how there was nothing he could do about it.

"You're studying entirely too much Kakashi, why don't you take a break and go hang out with Rin." Kakashi's one visible eye hardened. After Obito's accidental drowning he pulled more in more into himself an spent less an less time with Rin, something he wasn't proud of, but he couldn't bare to be around her knowing that he was never again going to see Obito running up with that grin on his face to join them, he was always the last one to arrive whenever they decided to get together, with some flimsy excuse on his tongue, that was probably where Kakashi had gotten his horrible excuse making from. Sun sighed.

"Well, don't you have a girlfriend, someone you like?"

Kakashi stiffened, his grip tightening around the pencil in his hand. "I don't want to talk about this with you old man, you're either going to help me with my Trig work or leave me alone."

Sun placed his tea down on the table and frowned over at Kakashi. Kakashi forced himself not to look up into those intense blue eyes, otherwise he was going to drown and be lost forever.

"I don't have a girlfriend, I've never had a girlfriend." Kakashi admitted.

"What, really, a handsome guy like you," Sun joked, though he was serious. "Are you saving yourself for Rin?"

Kakashi shrugged, his tired blue gaze finally meeting Sun's own. "Maybe, everyone thinks we go together anyway, I'll just marry her and have some kid and live the rest of my life happily ever after."

The smile melted from Sun's face at Kakashi's sarcasm. He sighed again and moved over to place himself down beside Kakashi. Kakashi closed his eye tightly at the proximity, willing his racing heart to calm down less Sun heard it beating for him. Sun reached up a large tan hand and placed it on Kakashi's head, moving it fatherly through his silver tresses.

"I--I just want you to be happy Kakashi, you're going to be attending Konoha and then after that you're going to be thrust out into the world to start your life, I just don't want your entire life to be based around work, I don't want you to be alone." Kakashi felt his eyes watering at Sun's words: alone, didn't the man already see that he was alone? Kakashi stood up abrutly and begin packing up his stuff, he was going to go give Rin a surprise visit and stay the night over there, he couldn't stay in this house another minute with Sun, he was going to drive him crazy.

Sun stood with him. "Kakashi, what are you--Where are you going?"

"Away from you!" Kakashi yelled without thinking. Sun paused and gave Kakashi a wide-eyed stare. Kakashi felt bad immediately for his harsh outburst, but he wasn't going to appologize, he wanted Sun to hurt just like he hurt. Kakashi reached for the door, but was stopped by Sun grabbing his arm and pulling him into his body. Kakashi's books, papers and pencil's dropped from his arms and scattered onto the floor around the two of them. The warmth of Sun's chest almost too much for Kakashi who felt himself melting into the older man's embrace. Though he snapped out of his trance when he felt Sun's hands snaking down his trim back to rest on his hips. Kakashi gasped and tried to pull back, did Sun not know what he was doing? but Sun's strong hold held him in place.

"Isn't this what you want Kakashi, me?" Sun asked softly.

Kakashi felt his breath slow. Of course this was what he wanted, this was what he had always wanted, but not like this, it didn't seem right, Sun didn't mean it, he was only trying to make him feel better. Words escaped Kakashi as Sun took a hold of his chin and pulled the cloth away from his mouth, which was a pale pink. Sun stared at his lips, then his eyes.

"Why do you hide your pretty face Kakashi?" Sun moved closer to Kakashi, Kakashi wanted to push him away, but he just couldn't. Tears stung his eyes as Sun's lips landed on his own and he kissed him, surely. Kakashi closed his eye and kissed him back, no more able to stop him as the shore was able to stop the sea. He wrapped his arms around Sun's neck and fell.)

"Did the two of you... did you and Sun have sex?" Iruka asked, his hold tightening all the more around Kakashi's shoulders.

"I--Yes, we did. Though it was only a one time thing, Sun hated himself after that, feeling that he had taken advantage of me, even though I had told him that I didn't mind and that I loved him. He pushed me away an our relationship returned to that of mentor and pupil. I never pressed him on the issue, I never forced him to aknowledge again what happened between us, I just accepted fate and left it alone." Kakashi sighed sadly. "I left for Konoha that following fall and I never saw Sun or little Naruto again. It was through the papers that I found out about Sun becoming a novelist, though none of his work was ever published because of the material. I was in my third year of college when I found out that Sun had died, though no one quite knew why."

"Naruto had been put in an orphanage, but no one would tell me where because I was not a blood relative. Sun's sudden death shattered my whole world and I was never the same again; I dropped out of Konoha soon afterwards and took odd jobs until landing the one at Inkwell under Sasuke by chance, since I had went to school with his brother, then I met you and the rest is history."

There was a heavy silence as Iruka took this all in and Kakashi recovered from one of his most painful memories. Iruka eyes had turned a dark chocolate in their melancholy and he removed his arms from around Kakashi's shoulders an went to sit beside him. Iruka took Kakashi's limp hand and squeezed his fingers.

"You still love him don't you Kakashi, just as you still love Obito and Rin?"

"I loved him in a different way Iruka, I can't put him in the same category as Obito and Rin, or even my mother. Its just as I can't classify you with them, because I love you in a different way. I love Obito and Rin as my best-friends, my only friends, like my brother and sister if I had had any. I loved Sun as a son would love a father, but also as a man would love a woman, and that is how I love you Iruka."

Iruka didn't show it, but Kakashi's explanation left him quite breathless. He had no clue that Kakashi had such an elegant way with words. Iruka knew the other man was intelligent, but Kakashi was always vague with his statements. Kakashi turned his head and looked Iruka straight in the eye.

"I love you more than I loved Sun." Kakashi admitted, squeezing Iruka's hand in confirmation. Iruka wasn't quite sure why, but those words affected him a lot more than he thought they would, because he had honestly expected Kakashi to tell him that he loved Sun more, because Sun had been his first real love and his first time. Though, hearing Kakashi say that he loved him more than the man who had practically saved his life brought tears to Iruka's warm brown eyes and he flung himself at Kakashi, kissing him hard on the mouth. Kakashi smiled and kissed Iruka back, falling onto his back. Iruka straddled his hips, translucent tears trailing down his cheeks and falling onto Kakashi's bare face.

"Iruka--" Iruka placed his finger on Kakashi's lips to silence him. "Don't speak..." You're going to ruin the moment. Kakashi's features softened as he pulled Iruka back down for another sweet kiss.

"Thank-you Kakashi, I think I really needed to hear that." Iruka whispered against his lips, his own trembling.

Kakashi deepened the kiss. You're welcome Iruka, I think I really needed to tell you that.


still the previous night...

Haku gasped when Kimimaro grabbed him around the neck, his back slamming against the side of Iruka's car. Kimimaro's pale eyes bore into Haku's own, and Haku felt fear sweep through his body.

"I'm going to take you with me, whether you like it or not." Haku tried his best to shake his head as his fingers scratched at Kimimaro's, his wide brown eyes welling with tears.

"You... You can't... Kimimaro..."

"Shut-up!" Kimimaro shouted, losing his aloof disposition in a flash, his eyes seeming to burn red. "You're mine, its not fair that he gets to have you, I had you first!" Kimimaro slapped Haku. Haku fell to the cold ground. It certainly didn't feel good to be slapped twice in the same night. Haku laid his head down on the ground and cried, it just seemed like everything in his life was going wrong. Zabuza had broken up with him and Kimimaro, his childhood friend was treating him like some sort of possesion, it was just a little too much for Haku's fragile heart to take.

Kimimaro had made to grab Haku by the hair, but stopped when Haku's cries reached his ears. His rage seemed to dissipate and he dropped down beside the other man who was crying into his arms, huddled in the fetal position. Kimimaro made to touch Haku, but didn't trust himself, after all he was the reason why Haku was crying. Kimimaro seemed to become even more paler in his sadness and crouched over Haku's shaking form.

"I'm sorry, Haku." Kimimaro appologized, his voice sincere. He touched Haku's shoulder gently. "I didn't mean to slap you... Haku you know I would never hurt you." Haku lifted up his head, his pretty face stained with his tears.

"No Kimimaro, I don't know you anymore, but I do know that the old you wouldn't treat me like I was some prized possession, what happened to you, what happened to the sweet and kind Kimimaro that I once knew!?" Haku cried. Kimimaro flinched away from him.

I died. Kimimaro thought to himself. That me... burned away. Kimimaro looked away, silver tears, that in the meager like of the moon looked like blood slipped from his eyes and fell down his cheeks like fine scratches. Haku's eyes widened and he sat up reaching for Kimimaro, perhaps to wipe away the tears, but Kimimaro pulled back, his pale eyes wide. It was almost like he was seeing Haku for the first time.

"Don't touch me!" Kimimaro's tone was vicious and Haku was frozen in shock at the sudden venom in the other man's voice, suspended in shock, his arm outstretched. "You're the reason why I died, why didn't you help me, why didn't you come back!?" Kimimaro seemed to be moving further and further away from him, disapearing, like smoke blown away by the wind. Haku rose to his knees and stumbled to his feet.

"Kimimaro--Wait!" but Kimimaro was already gone, nothing but darkness stared back at him. Haku's breathing was labored as he looked around him, his face burning and wet. "Kimimaro... I..." Haku wrapped his arms around himself. Had it been his fault? Haku closed his eyes and all he saw was fire, bright red and orange fire; he heard screams, Kimimaro's screams and everything went black.


Kiba squeezed hard at the bridge of his nose, he was trying to meet his deadline since Sasuke was on his ass about it, but it was getting increasingly hard to concentrate on his dog tales with Lee quoting love poetry at the top of his lungs. The other occupants of the cubicles had already starting throwing pieces of balled up paper at him in their annoyance. Lee seemed blissfully unaware of this of course, because the volume of his voice only got louder as he went along and Kiba figured he was reaching climax.

Ugh... that did not come out right. Kiba thought with a grimace. "Oi! Lee, shut the hell up already, I'm trying to work!" Kiba barked. Shino sat in the cubicle next to his and only shifted his circle glasses up higher on his nose. Kiba's outburst seemed to do the trick, because Lee stopped abrutly and beamed over in his direction. Kiba's eyes nearly popped out of his head when Lee skipped over to his desk.

"Hello Kiba, what a fine morning it is to be in love!?"

Kiba blushed hotly and decided not to comment on that, especially considering Shino's cubicle was right next to his own and he was most likely listening to everything they were saying. Him and Shino had only been dating for a couple months, and it was sort of not a secret that they were together, though the word love had never come up between them and Kiba wanted to keep it that way.

"I don't know! Stop saying weird stuff and get to work!" Kiba went back to his typing, but Lee didn't move instead he stood there staring circle-eyed at Kiba, a huge grin on his face. Kiba's eye twitched, did Lee always have to be so freaky? Kiba could remember that one time when Lee had spat out some particularly cheesy poignant dialogue and a green flowing meadow had appeared behind him, equipped with little blue birds, classical Disney music and cute little woodland critters. Kiba had gone green and hurled into the nearest trashcan. Lee, nor Shino... or Sasuke... or the cleaners had been too happy about that little episode.

"Why did you never tell me that you and Shino were going out?" Lee boomed. Kiba's heart nearly skipped a beat. The typing in the cubicle next to him had stopped a little too suddenly, an now kiba was perched on his haunches a top his desk with his hand over Lee's mouth.

"Kami, thick brows, let the whole world know!" Lee looked highly confused, why would Kiba be so embarressed over something so trivial? Yes, Shino was a little... eccentric, but it was no reason to get this high strung over it. Lee removed Kiba's hand galiantly.

"If I didn't know better I would say you didn't want me to know about you and Shino," Lee's eyes glazed over. "I thought we were friends! When I fell in love with the fair Haruno-chan I told you straight away!"

Kiba felt his brain break. "Idiot! This is different... and I don't want anyone to know about us." Kiba felt bad in his admittance of that, but it was the truth. He didn't want any more people to know about him and Shino. It was bad enough that he was considered weird because he liked canine's a little too much, to the point that people considered his devotion towards them borderline bestiality, but Shino's oddness was a step above his own and people avoided him like the plague, what would they think of him if they found out that the two of them were lovers? He'd be shunned, his family would disown him.

Lee looked sad. "That wasn't a very nice thing to say Kiba, in the club that night you looked pretty happy with Shino." Kiba looked away.

"I have work to do Lee, just drop it." There was a warning tone in Kiba's voice, that Lee chose to ignore. Kiba had hopped off his desk and made to sit back down, but Lee leaned forward and gripped his wrist, his face serious.

"Do you love him Kiba?" Kiba wasn't sure of what had come over him, but by just hearing the word love, it set him off and he slapped Lee's hand away and growled:

"I don't love him!" Lee looked surprised, but also hurt. Kiba regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth, especially when he turned to see Shino standing in the doorway of his office, his face smooth and blank, but Kiba knew that turmoil was burning behind those black glasses he always wore. Shino without a word turned and left. Kiba sprang after him.

"Shino--Wait! I didn't--"

Shino stopped suddenly and Kiba almost ran into his back. Shino half turned to regard Kiba, his brows furrowed, and this was the only indication he gave away that showed that he was angry.

"I never knew that that was how you really felt about us Kiba." Shino's voice was flat and straight-forward, like it always was. Kiba felt his heart constrict. "I don't want to continue this farce any longer, let's just go back to being friends." Kiba's eyes widened slightly. Shino turned away from him, but Kiba grabbed his arm.

"Wha--Wait... are you breaking up with me?" Kiba, strangely, didn't think he could bare it. Shino's mouth was a thin line, but he nodded his head and shaking off Kiba's hold he walked off. Kiba watched him leave in disbelief. After a short while his face contorted in pain and he let out a yell that sounded like a howl and punched the wall next to him, hard enough to dent it. Sakura who had been rushing up screamed. Kiba looked up at her without really seeing her, he then turned and rushed off down the hallway in the opposite direction of Shino.

What did I miss? Sakura thought in confusion. Lee walked out suddenly, looking defeated. The smile that had lit Sakura's face upon seeing him fell and now she was really wondering what she had missed, because she had passed Shino on the way here and could have sworn she saw a lone tear catch the light on his face.

"Lee?" Sakura ventured, softly.


Lee didn't really know what to make of Sakura finally iniciating a conversation between the two of them, but he wasn't going to let this rare moment pass him by. The two of them were in the breakroom and Sakura had finally took someone up on the offer of coffee, because she definitely needed some to settle her nerves. The funeral, as had been sent to her e-mail this morning, was pushed back until two days from now, since today would have been entirely too soon to get everything set up in time. Sakura was almost grateful for the reprieve, because it gave her time to get a few things done and settled.

Lee looked torn between excitement and nervousness, or at least Sakura figured that was what it was, since the man's body was shaking like a leaf in the wind and his coffee was beggining to slosh along the sides of his cup. Sakura gave him an exasperated smile.

"Lee, I wanted to appologize for the way I've treated you--"

"Ah, no Sakura-chan, its fine... I--I'm sure you had your reasons." Lee's face was so red it looked like it was going to pop. Sakura's forced smile turned more genuine, she walked over an placed a hand on Lee's shoulder. Though, maybe she should'nt of done that, because Lee's eyes widened to the size of saucers an his blush extended to his ears and neck.

"No, I didn't have any reason to treat you the way I did and I'm sorry..." Sakura hesitated. "I was wondering if maybe you wouldn't mind going out to dinner... with me?" Lee was honestly wondering if he had heard right, but when he realized that he had, he didn't know quite how to feel, it was the first time in his twenty-three years of life that he had been asked out by anyone. It brought tears to his eyes and before Sakura knew it, Lee was wailing. Sakura, predictably, panicked.

"Oh--I'm so sorry Lee, I know I'm the last person you'd want to--"

"NO!" Lee's sudden outburst shut Sakura right up at the same time scaring the shit out of her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell, but, I'm just so happy." Lee wiped at his tears. Sakura's face fell a little, she felt like a real heel for the way she had treated Lee, she didn't deserve his affections at all.

Sakura reached her hand back out and gripped his shoulder once again, her smile lighting up her whole face.

"I'm happy too." Lee blinked up at her, then in a bold move placed his hand on top of hers.


Gaara and Neji had been waiting for Naruto to re-emerge for nearly an hour, and needless to say Neji was beyond impatient he was ready to go.

"They're fucking." Neji concluded, rather bluntly. Gaara fixed him with an irritated stare.

"Do I look like a virgin? Of course they're fucking." Neji was certainly surprised, Gaara wasn't as crude as to say the word fucking, he had honestly expected him to say something lame like... engaging in intercourse. Gaara's new way of speaking had kind a turned him on and he made no secret of it.

"Get your head out of the gutter Hyuugi, they're coming." Neji groaned at the word 'cumming' and Gaara wondered if Neji could get anymore immature. Naruto was glowing as he walked towards the two of them with a huge grin on his face. Sasuke on the other hand was glowering... and limping.

"Gaara, sorry about the wait, but the talk took a little longer than I thought it would."

"Its fine, let's just go, we still have to go get fitted for the funeral." Gaara turned to go, but Neji stopped him with a quick wrist grab.

"I'll pick you up at 9:00, be ready."

"Be on time," Gaara countered and walked off. Naruto looked from Gaara's retreating back, to Neji's frowny face and decided he'd take his chances with Gaara. He gave Sasuke a quick peck good-bye and ran to catch up with his friend. Neji sighed in irritation.

"He's been so prickly since we got back together, maybe I should propose to him or something, he's acting like he's pregnant."

Sasuke choked on his spit and glared a Neji. Neji smirked at him.

"I can't believe you honestly let your little uke top you, if I wasn't so annoyed at Gaara I'd be laughing my ass off."

Sasuke managed to keep his composure in spite of the jab. He straightened his back and smoothed his fingers through his hair.

"It wasn't bad," Sasuke looked thoughtful. "You should try it sometime with Gaara, word of advice." Sasuke was the one with the smirk on his face now.

"You can't be serious." Sasuke shrugged.

"I am, me and Naruto have agreed to switch up from time to time." Neji stared at him.

"It was that good?" He was curious.

"... yeah." Sasuke blushed, thinking it wise to leave out the fact that Naruto had him nearly in tears calling his name. Neji looked thoughtful after this admission.

"... I see." Neji pressed the button to un lock his car and got in.

"Where are you going?" Sasuke didn't really care, but he felt like he was obligated to ask anyways.

"To get everything ready for tonight, you gave me an idea that might get me back on good terms with Gaara... looks like you're good for something Uchiha."

Sasuke smirked and walked off. He had to call his stupid older brother and invite him to Rin's funeral, otherwise he'd never hear the end of why he didn't feel the need to invite his only remaining blood relative. Sasuke could feel a migraine coming on, the one he always got whenever he had to either speak to, or see Itachi.


"Hey Naruto, Gaara, come in." Iruka stepped back and let the two friends inside.

"Hey Iruka," Naruto was always boisterious when he was around Iruka. "Is Kakashi here? Where's Haku?" Iruka's eyes flickered, something Gaara caught, but Naruto didn't.

"Kakashi left earlier to meet with Rin's family, her wake is tomorrow and then her funeral is the day after that, so he just wants everything to be ready."

"It can't be easy for him," Naruto said as him and Gaara sat down on the couch. Iruka shook his head.

"He's getting better though, its going to take some time, but I believe our relationship will be able to survive this final blow." Iruka smiled brightly and Naruto smiled back.

"Is Haku all right?" Naruto asked, looking around as if the other man was sitting or standing somewhere out of sight.

Iruka sighed and sat down as well. "He's upstairs sleeping and he's been sleeping all morning. I found him passed out in the driveway a little after midnight last night. I'm not sure how long he was out before I realized he'd never come inside, but I've been checking on him periodically and he only seems to be exhausted."

"I hope he's all right and able to make it to the funeral." Naruto voiced worriedly.

Iruka smiled tiredly. "He should be fine by then." There was a short silence.

"Do you think him and Zabuza are going to get back together?"

Iruka looked uncomfortable for a second. "I'm not sure, but I hope they do, Haku looks better with a smile." Naruto couldn't help but agree.

Haku tossed and turned in his sleep. He had broken out into a cold sweat; all he could see was fire, bright orange and red fire... thick black smoke... he could hear screaming, terrible screaming. Haku could hear his voice calling out to Kimimaro, choking around the acrid smoke in his throat.

"Kimimaro... Kimimaro..." Haku moaned in his sleep.

He was trying to save him, but the fire was so hot, it was so high, his arm couldn't reach him. Tears streamed down his sooty face. Kimimaro's screams grew louder.

"Haku...! Haku, please...!"

"Kimimaro...!" arms wrapped around his waist, voices, deep voices, and suddenly he was being pulled away from Kimimaro... and he was burning... the screams... helplessness.

"Kimimaro!" Haku cried as he sat bolt upright in the bed, his face covered in tears and his chest heaving. Haku's hair had come a loose sometime during the night and was now a damp fan around his face, falling into his eyes and sticking to his skin. Haku closed his eyes and steadied his breathing, hoping that Iruka hadn't heard him and wondering when he had come into the house and gotten into the bed. Haku recalled the dream, bits and pieces flashing vividly across his mind.

I tried to save him... I remember... Haku thought. I tried to save him... but I couldn't...

"Kimimaro..." Haku covered his face with his hands. "... I'm sorry."


The funeral had been a nice though solemn and small affair. Rin was dressed in a lovely pure white gown, her hair swept back and up, a light amount of make up on her face and pearls on her neck and ears. The engagement ring that Kakashi had gotten for her on her finger. Kakashi, Iruka and Rin's last remaning blood family sat in the front rows, the invited guests strewn out around them, every one dressed respectively in black. It wasn't long, because Kakashi didn't think he could bare it, though Iruka was nearly brought to tears when Kakashi gave the eulogy and Ino, who was pretty last minute, because Kakashi had neglected to find a singer prior, sung His Eye Is On The Sparrow and nearly everyone in attendance was moved.

Iruka placed a comforting hand on Kakashi's shoulder. "It seems like everyone is leaving... it was a nice service, I'm sure Rin is happy." Kakashi was quiet, and Iruka wondered if the other man had even heard him. Naruto stood to the right of him with Sasuke, who looked extremely uncomfortable and was staring up at the sky, desperately trying to forget that he was in a graveyard, the same graveyard where he parents were buried. Naruto took his hand and squeezed it, he then looked over at Neji, Gaara and surprisingly Hinata. Iruka turned away from Kakashi and went to stand beside Naruto, he bowed.

"Thanks for coming, even though you didn't really know her."

"Its no big deal, there's someone buried here that me and Hinata need to go see anyways." Neji looked over at his cousin, who nodded her head meekly, her light eyes sad as she folded her hands over her black skirt.

"Well you're free to go, or see whoever you need to see, me and Kakashi are going to be a while..." he turned to Naruto. "I'll catch up with you later, all right Naruto?" Naruto nodded and gave Iruka a tight hug. He then looked back at Kakashi, whose face was ashen white, and long. Naruto's blue eyes flickered from Kakashi's pale face to Rin's tombstone. Naruto said a silent good-bye and pulling on Sasuke's arm they walked off with Neji, Gaara and Hinata.

"You can come with me and Hinata if you want to Gaara," Neji said, his arm wrapped around the shorter man's waist. Gaara had been strangely quiet during Rin's funeral service, his face paler than usual. Gaara's arms tightened in their crossed position and he shook his head.

"I'm going to go to my mother and father's graves." Gaara said suddenly, his voice sounding lost. Neji looked confused, but Naruto gasped and gripped his arm. The main reason why him and Gaara were best-friends was because their pasts were so similar, the both of them had lost their mothers in child-birth, but unlike Naruto who had a loving father, Gaara's father was a bastard who blamed Gaara for his mother's death and tried to kill him by poisioning. Gaara was taken out of his custody by child services and not too long afterwards Gaara's father had commited suicide by shooting himself in the head. Naruto could understand him wanting to see his mother, but his father?

"Are you sure... I can come with you--" Naruto begin, but Gaara shook his head.

"No... I want to go alone. I'll meet you all at the entrance in thirty minutes." Gaara walked off without another word. Naruto looked worried, but didn't protest any further. Neji watched Gaara's back for a short while, his face blank and then he looked over at Hinata.

"Let's go," Hinata nodded and made to follow her cousin, but she was stopped by Naruto. Hinata blushed.

"Y--Yes, Naruto?"

"I'm sorry, but who are the two of you going to see?" Hinata and Neji exchanged wary looks and Hinata pinned her shy gaze to the ground.

"... my father."

"He was murdered," Neji continued. "by my father." He didn't elaborate. Him and Hinata walked off, leaving a rather surprised Naruto and Sasuke in their wake. Naruto turned to Sasuke, though before he could tell Sasuke he wanted him to come with him to his father's grave, Sakura, Ino and Lee (who looked like a wilted flower, guess he didn't do well at funerals...) ran up, Kiba and Chouji not to far behind.

"Sorry we left without a word, but we all went to go visit some family members and friend's, is everyone ready?" Ino asked.

Naruto shook his head. "Its going to be a little while longer, but you all are free to go if you want to."

Ino nodded and yanked Chouji towards her. "Tell Kakashi we're sorry for his loss and the service was beautiful... come on Sakura."

"Ah..." Sakura looked at Naruto, who looked back. "Tell him I'm sorry as well... and not only him, but the two of you as well." Naruto looked thunderstruck, but Sakura just bowed, grabbed Lee's arm and followed off after Ino and Chouji. Kiba looked rather out of place and surly as he stepped up to them.

"Is Shino nearby?" Naruto asked, just now noticing that he hadn't seen the man at all today and he was certain that he had been invited. Kiba flinched and then looked off to the side.

"I'm not sure, we aren't talking at the moment..." A tense silence followed this in which Kiba stuffed his hands in the pockets of his charcoal black slacks, his hair was a mess. "I'll see you later." Kiba gave them both a two fingered wave and slouched off. Naruto and Sasuke watched him leave in silence, the others a few yards in front of him. Naruto sighed and looked over at Sasuke.

"I want to go visit my dad, I haven't in a while..." Naruto scratched the back of his neck nervously. This was a huge thing he was asking Sasuke, but he felt he knew Sasuke enough to share a moment like this with him. Sasuke looked shocked, his eyes slightly wide as they stared back into Naruto's, who in turn gave him an reassuring smile.

"I..." Sasuke was cut off by the last person he wanted to see, someone who he thought had went home after they left the funeral home, since he didn't see him among the gathering of people at Rin's final resting place. "Itachi?"

"Hey little brother... Uzumaki." Itachi extended his greeting to the other man, who nodded back stiff-necked. Sai stood off to the side looked irritable.

"What is it? I thought you were gone." Sasuke raged.

"I couldn't leave without seeing mom and dad now could I?" Itachi's smooth, though tired looking features gave nothing away, and Sasuke honestly looked like he had been slapped in the face. Naruto stared from one to the other in confusion. Sasuke grabbed the front of Itachi's shirt and yanked him into his body, their faces mere inches apart. Naruto jumped and wondered if he should interefere, they were in a cememtary for crying out loud! Sai on the other hand looked amused, though his dark eyes were hard.

"What the fuck are you playing at Itachi?" Naruto had never heard Sasuke sound like this, there was pure malice in his voice. Naruto knew that him and Itachi didn't have a very normal brotherly relationship, but he had no idea it was this volatile, Sasuke sounded like he hated the mere ground Itachi walked on. Itachi didn't reply just met Sasuke's glare head on. The stare off lasted for a few long seconds that seemed like minutes to the two watching, but eventially Sasuke let Itachi's shirt go and stepped back, his bangs covering his eyes.

"Naruto... I'm sorry, but I won't be able to come with you this time." There was so many questions running through Naruto's head, but he wasn't going to push the issue.

"All right." Naruto turned in walked off, wondering if something was in the air, everyone was acting so weird. A solemness settled over him immediately afterwards though when it set in that he was going to visit his father's grave. The last time he had been here was when he had graduated High School, wanting badly to tell his father the good news, that he had been excepted into a good college and was working towards being a writer, just like he had been. Naruto had become so overwhelmed with sadness that he cried on his father's tombstone until he could barely see out of his puffy eyes and hadn't been back since. Naruto felt as if he could handle it now, his father was gone and he wasn't coming back, just as surely as his mother, whom he never knew, was never coming back either.

"Dad..." Naruto breathed as he fell to his knees beside his father's grave. "I hope you're proud of me." Naruto ignored the tears that fell almost instantaneously from his eyes.


Haku hoped that Iruka wasn't too worried about him for splitting early from the group, but he felt that there was something he had to do and he wasn't going to be sastisfied until he did it. It hadn't been his fault that Kimimaro had died that day, if someone hadn't noticed the smoke and called the fire department they would have both perished that day, but Haku felt that he had to make peace with his childhood friend; ask for some sort of forgiveness, for not trying hard enough to pull him out with with him. Haku never knew what happened to Kimimaro afterwards, but he was almost certain that his friend had died. The few years that followed the fire had been the loneliest years of his life and Haku had vowed to never get close to anyone ever again.

Then he met Zabuza... and everything in his world had changed, for the better. Haku felt his heart jar painfully in his chest at the thought of his boyfriend... ex-boyfriend. Haku stopped at an empty plot, there was no headstone, nothing that indicated that someone was buried here; Haku didn't even believe that this was where his old friend was buried, but it didn't stop him from sitting on his knees beside it and placing one dainty hand over the ground above it.

"Kimimaro... can you hear me... I want to tell you I'm sorry... I tried..." tears blurred Haku's vision. "I tried to save you, I tried really hard, I just couldn't... I--"

"Haku." Haku gasped, his eyes widening as he recognized that voice, that deep and gruff voice. He turned his head and looked up to see Zabuza towering over him, dressed neatly in a suit.

"Zabuza," Haku could hardly believe his eyes. "You came? I didn't see you..."

"I was in the back, I didn't want you to see me." Haku looked away and stared down at his hands.

"I see..." he then looked back up at Zabuza. "Zabuza, I'm sorry that I didn't--but, its not what you think--"

"I know." Zabuza intercepted and then kneeled down on his haunches beside Haku, his features soft. "Why don't you tell me about him." Haku stared at the side of Zabuza's roughly handsome face and suddenly felt like touching him, hugging him, some sort of physical contact, but he held himself back an joined Zabuza in staring at Kimimaro's sadly neglected place of rest.


"Kakashi...?" Iruka ventured softly as he joined Kakashi and placed a firm hand on his shoulder. Kakashi hadn't spoken in a long while and everyone who had stood with them were long gone. "I think we should go, Rin needs to be properly buried and they can't do that with us here." Iruka figured that Kakashi didn't want that last step to occur, because then it would make Rin's passing all the more final and resolute. Kakashi closed his one visible eye, let out an audible sigh and then stood.

"Do you really think so?" Kakashi asked quietly. Iruka blinked in confusion. "What you said earlier, do you think Rin is happy?"

Iruka smiled sadly at Kakashi and then pulled his lover into a hug, his lips brushing across his ear. "Of course." Kakashi hugged him back, his shoulders shaking slightly.

"What to do now?" Kakashi asked after a short while. Iruka moved back and looked into Kakashi's eyes.

"We work on us, and try to move forward." Kakashi stared into Iruka's warm brown orbs for a long moment and then leaned forward to give his lips a soft, meaningful kiss.

"Yea... that sounds nice." I have no regrets. Kakashi thought as he turned to give Rin's grave one last look. Mother... Sun... Rin... Obito... I'll always love you, but its time I moved on, Iruka deserves all of me and that is what I'm going to give him. Later. Kakashi took Iruka's hand and giving it a firm squeeze he pulled him along.

"I could use a drink and a bit of sex Iruka, what about you?" Iruka let an exasperated smile cross his face, but his heart was lightened a little, glad that Kakashi had somewhat returned to his normal self.

"I agree, you better make it worth my while." Kakashi glanced over at Iruka who glanced back. No regrets.

("Its about time!" Obito exploded with a grin as he watched Kakashi walk away with Iruka. "I was tired of him moping, it wasn't his fault I drowned at all."

Rin came up behind him and bopped him on the head. "Of course not, it was your own idiot fault." Obito rubbed his head and sulked. Rin smiled softly after the retreating couple.

"They make such a nice pair, its going to be lovely watching how they progress in their relationship, Iruka really does bring out the best in our Kakashi, don't you think so Obito?"

Obito flopped down on a cloud and smiled. "Yeah, though I never would have guessed that Kakashi was gay." Rin rolled her eyes. Obito looked up at her and then took her hand, intertwining their fingers.

"Its good to have some company up here though, I missed you." Rin stared down at him and then she leaned over and kissed his cheek, her eyes bright with tears.

"I missed you too, you left us way to soon." Obito had the decency to look sheepish.

"Yea... sorry about that." His grin fell a little. "Its going to be a while before Kakashi joins us, huh?" Rin nodded her head, her smile wistful.

"What do you say we pay him a visit... you know just to let him know that we're all right?"

"That sounds like a good idea."

Rin sat down next to him and they watched Kakashi leave with Iruka together, smiling when the silver haired man looked up at the sky and straight at them like he could see them. He then slipped into Iruka's car and was gone.

"I think he's going to be all right without us," Obito whispered, his smile a little sad now that Kakashi was gone.

Rin closed her eyes. "He's going to be just fine.")


I think its been like three years since my last update, and for that I appologize profusely, but it honestly can't be helped. I had to do some serious cram reading, which is why every chapter has been re-edited, though not to perfection, I might go back over them again once I'm finally finished with this. I think they're some inconsistencies (did I spell that right?) as well, because its been so long since I've so much as thought about this, and I only retained so much reading it over, so if something seems out of place, please let me know.

I wanted to add a lot more to this chapter, such as flesh the funeral scenes out more, but it had already gotten long enough and that'll give me something to write for chapter twenty-two. I hope all the new readers and returning readers enjoy this chapter, I did my best and I hope its worth the three year wait!

Gomen! Ja, till next chapter.


To Be Continued...