Originally Posted: Monday, June 5, 2006

Disclaimer: Do not own.

Warnings: Shounen ai, spoilers for anyone not keeping up with the manga, & AUish. Anything involving Akatsuki and bijuus after the timeskip is completely irrelevant to this story, and as such, never happened. Actually, this applies to everything after the timeskip except the part where Naruto, Sakura, and Sai meet up with Sasuke.

General: Takes place after chapter 308 for those of you that are keeping up with the manga.

Thank yous: peachie-x and Nox (betas) as well as everyone who has reviewed SF. Much love!

Summary: The invisibility started with one silly wish upon a star. Good thing Sasuke's doormat personality, Sai's attempts at matchmaking, and a mission gone wrong were all quite normal in the life of Naruto Uzumaki... Wait. What? SasuNaru

Surface Flaws

Chapter I

"Don't you worry anymore,
Don't you worry anymore,

'Cause whatever it's about
Well, you know without a doubt
You'll always have a place in my heart
Yes you'll always have a place in my heart…"

- A Place in My Heart (Craig Salkheld)

His right foot was asleep.

Which triggered the question: How long exactly had he been standing in Tsunade's office?

Naruto looked at Sakura incriminatingly, silently begging her to shut up. How she could prattle on about a mission where absolutely nothing had happened was beyond him. That being said, she was doing a wonderful job of it. In fact, she was doingtoo wonderful a job of it. Blue eyes shifted and narrowed in on the Hokage of Konoha.

If he could only get her attention, then perhaps he could somehow give her a signal to wrap things up - cut Sakura's 'brief overview' short.

But it was too late. The acute woman had already caught on to the fact that nothing of mention had occurred during Team 7's mission. It was blaringly obvious. As a result, her angular face was pulled into an expression of forced interest as Sakura spoke, and her eyes were unmoving and almost glassed over.

The two boys on either side of Sakura might as well have not existed. Not that they were doing much to draw attention to themselves, Naruto being uncharacteristically quiet and Sasuke being exceptionally 'broody'.

As in ridiculously, irritatingly, and completely broody.

Naruto scoffed. Good for the bastard. He should be.

Now if only Tsunade would look at him…

But she wasn't.

The old woman hid a yawn behind her hand and tried to smile encouragingly at Sakura - completely missed Naruto's very obvious stare - before turning to the rather large pile of papers on her desk. Tsunade grabbed for a pen, the motion fluid and lethargic, and began writing on a stray paper absently, probably playing a game of Xs and Os with herself.

There was no hope of catching her attention now.

Not that that particularly bothered Naruto. If the Hokage's mind was a million miles away, the blond figured he couldn't be reprimanded for letting his stray as well. Not that it hadn't already. The blond's focus had been far from the recap at hand the second it had started He had already had the absolute pleasure of experiencing the mission once.

And that was one time too many.

A sudden hand gesture caught Naruto off guard and his head snapped to Sakura.

She was still talking - just getting more into it now that the big finale was drawing closer.

At least he hoped it was.

In all actuality, the the girl's words were nothing more than a dull murmur at the back of Naruto's mind - a dull murmur that he was easily able to ignore. Especially when he noticed ominous clouds looming in the distance just beyond Tsunade's window.

There was a stark contrast where the thick black clouds met with the vibrant blue of the sky. They were rolling forward - rushing toward Konoha. They looked fantastic; a nice relief from the dry spell that had been plaguing the hidden village.

Naruto was looking forward to another relief as well.

Because he was back in Konoha, he would no longer have to deal with this new Sasuke that he had dragged back from Oto.

Sakura stopped speaking and the room went silent but Naruto didn't notice.

This new Sasuke was a Sasuke who never joked, or insulted, or sparred. Just sulked around, never saying anything.

"That's it, Hokage-sama," Sakura said when the silence had persisted. Three sets of eyes landed on her almost audibly and for the first time in the last forty-five minutes, Sakura had everyone's full attention.

'It?' Naruto wanted ask, just to make sure he had heard her right. But he didn't, he just rolled his sleeping foot a bit and let out a relieved sigh.

That was it.


Sakura held tightly to Sasuke's arm, her eyes glowing with adoration as she chattered happily to the boy. They were all walking home now, taking the back streets because Sasuke wasn't very fond of crowds. It was almost as if nothing had changed.


Naruto trailed the pair with no real intention of catching up, as he was rather preoccupied.

It struck him that if nothing really had changed, he would be the one standing beside Sasuke talking non-stop about trivialities and whining about whatever he could think of - anything to get a rise out of the brunet.

But things had changed.

Maybe not for the better, but that was fine. Naruto drew in a breath and smiled even though - maybe just because - there was no one watching. He'd made it through far worse than a little silent treatment from a stubborn Uchiha and he would be damned if he let the bastard pull him into a crap mood!

In front of him, Sakura pulled Sasuke to a stop. They were in front of the academy now and would have to split ways.

"Naruto, I'll see you later okay?" the girl said. Her eyes were holding his, trying to figure out what was wrong; his skin prickled under the scrutiny, but he said nothing, instead picking up his pace and making his way to her side.

"Course you will!" he said with a laugh, nudging her side and offering a wide grin.

Sakura answered, "Don't be late this time then!" and her voice was scolding in the most friendly of manners, but Naruto didn't quite catch her words because Sasuke had stopped a few steps ahead. He was staring, the look cold and almost cruel.

One thought rang through Naruto's mind: I don't care.

"Oh Sasuke, can you wait just a second?" Sakura waved her hand at him, bouncing to the balls of her feet.

The jerk didn't even look at her. He just kept staring at Naruto.

I don't care.

Naruto drew a deep breath.

I don't care.

And then Sasuke looked away from him and suddenly Naruto could breathe and there wasn't a giant weight spread across his chest.

The brunet nodded at Sakura then looked stubbornly to the side. He looked almost bored, Naruto thought, but really, he didn't care.

"Are you going home to wash up?" Sakura asked, returning her attention to Naruto. Her hands were held politely in front of her and she winked at him, promising the boy some of her time later.

The blond pulled an affronted expression. "Do I really smell that bad?" he asked incredulously as he peeled his sweaty tee away from his sticky body and sniffed it. Naruto let out a disgusted gasp. "Uh, pretend I didn't ask that."

Sakura laughed and patted his arm. "Done." She started to walk away then paused as if remembering something and glanced at him over her shoulder. "You're still welcome over for supper by the way"

It was only natural that Naruto's mouth watered at the thought. Still, he pulled a face and pretended to contemplate her invitation. "What're ya having?" he asked as if he might not come.

The look Sakura gave him clearly informed him that she knew he would be there.

"Something good. Just make sure you're there. My mother's been asking where you've been lately…" She trailed off, looking back in the direction she had been heading.

Sasuke was beginning to make his way down the street now, probably sick of waiting. When Sakura turned back at Naruto, there was a question in her eyes, 'Do you mind?' Naruto shrugged and shooed her off. He was rewarded with a smile.

"Sasuke-kun," Sakura called innocently as she took a tentative step in his direction, "Are you going by Ino's flower shop?"

The boy in question stopped and slowly - every move deliberate - turned around. His head was bowed but then he glanced up with blank, unfocused eyes and nodded while the wind of the approaching storm swept around him and pulled at his hair. He flicked several loose strands from his eyes and stared at Naruto almost…resentfully. Then the look was gone, replaced by nothing.

Naruto felt a shiver run down his spine at the apathy in his teammate's eyes. He hated this new Sasuke, this Sasuke, who, even after six months back in Konoha, refused to show any emotion or speak anything beyond what was required of him.

It seemed that Sakura, for all her observational prowess, was completely unaware of the building tension between her friends because she clapped her hands together with an excited giggle, effectively breaking whatever it was that had been happening.

Or perhaps she had known what was happening. Slight discomfort was evident to Naruto in Sakura's tightly clenched jaw; her smile was pinched and fake.

"Oh good! I'm going by Ino's too so we can walk together!" She decided gleefully, making her way over to Sasuke's side and latching onto his arm as she always had.

But she wasn't that Sakura from years back anymore. Not all the time anyway. She was only like that when she was around Sasuke.

There was no goodbye thrown over her shoulder to Naruto, which the blond had anticipated. He always seemed to disappear around Sasuke, which was fine, because the minute Sakura had touched him, Sasuke had tensed.

And even though it was horrible, that caused the blond the slightest bit of comfort.


It had always been lonely living by himself, but before Sasuke had left, Naruto had felt a little less isolated. The stares of the villagers had been dulled to a bearable sting by his happiness. Then Sasuke had left, and, as far as Naruto was concerned, never returned.

The changes in his teammate weren't subtle, they were clear as day, pronounced and displayed for all to see. It was as if Sasuke wanted everyone to hate him - and maybe he did.

After all, he had told Naruto that friendship only made him weak. And yet, Naruto couldn't believe that Sasuke wanted to be alone that desperately. For the blond shinobi, who had longed for company his entire life, the concept was foreign.

How could Sasuke handle it? How could he bear the constant remoteness of having no one to confide in? Naruto glanced up as the clouds approached at an ever quickening pace, bringing with them the damp, dusty scent of rain. He had always hated the rain and a part of him wondered when that had changed…

Naruto glared across the cave at Saki-san, who was silently sipping water from his flask, eyes riveted to the fire before him. The flames flickered, dying, then sprang back to life, painting a quickly fading yet hypnotic vision of light and shadow upon the walls of the cave. Outside, rain poured down relentlessly, obscuring the group's visibility so drastically that they had had to call it a night and look for shelter.

Tired of holding the silent old man's dry gaze, Naruto cast his eyes around the cave, trying to find some sort of distraction that would allow him to move and work off his pent-up energy.

The flames were dying, he noted, watching the way they flared then flickered away until the flares were barely distinguishable from the flickers. Taking this as his distraction, Naruto stood. "Oi, baka!" he called to Sasuke, the sound bouncing among the cave's walls. "Get up and help me gather firewood," It was a demand.

A look far too dry for the accompanying weather made its way to Naruto, but other than that, Sasuke did… nothing. He didn't huff indignantly or tell Naruto just where to shove it. He didn't even mention that it was raining outside and that collecting firewood would be an absolute waste of energy, and he certainly didn't add an obligatory 'idiot' to the end of these nonexistent sentences.

Sasuke simply stood up, traveled to the mouth of the cave where he glared at Naruto as if to say 'are you coming?', and continued on his way.

Hiding his shock and disappointment, Naruto hurried to catch up with and surpass Sasuke, knocking into him on the way out with a muttered 'bastard' under his breath. The action had no effect. Instead of getting a rise out of Sasuke as Naruto had hoped, he got nothing more than another dry look.

"You know it wouldn't hurt you to talk," Naruto told Sasuke, not bothering to hide the bite from his tone.

"And what purpose would that serve?" the Uchiha questioned in monotone. He was following Naruto casually as the blond led them blindly into the brush, avoiding trees with little ease in the reduced visibility.

Naruto pushed a dampened clump of hair from his eyes and turned around to glare at Sasuke, though he doubted Sasuke could see it through the rain.

"Oh never mind," he huffed, holding Sasuke's barely visible eyes a moment longer before turning away and stomping deeper into the forest. It was irritating that Sasuke looking like a drowned rat wasn't as amusing as it should have been.

They continued walking, Sasuke noiselessly following Naruto as the other blindly pushed through bushes and entwined branches, forging his own path. He'd completely forgotten about collecting firewood in his anger.

It was then that Naruto realized they were lost. He glanced up and saw trees. He looked forward and saw more trees. To his left and right were trees and behind him was Sasuke, standing, soaked to the bone, and glaring… in front of a never-ending maze of trees. Naruto swallowed and shifted awkwardly, the rain and absolute monotony in scenery gave him no clues as to their location.

Translation: he had no idea where they were.

"Um, Sasuke…" Naruto started nervously. The dark-haired boy's eyes narrowed as he waited for Naruto to continue, "We're lost…"

Sasuke scowled but said nothing, opting instead to cross his arms and watch Naruto as if to say 'well then get us unlost.'

Naruto gulped and forced a laugh at his own expense. "You know, why don't we just sit down or something until the rain's gone…or something," he suggested with a hopeful look, just thinking of how ironic it would be if Sasuke killed him now, before they even had a chance to put their friendship back together.

Sasuke's glare darkened, Naruto could tell that much through the haze of rain, but he sat on the ground in one smooth motion, though his body language made sure his direction-challenged teammate noted that this was below his dignity. Naruto followed suit with a nervous smile.

It was awkward, sitting with Sasuke in complete silence, too nervous to say anything because he just knew that Sasuke would brush him off wordlessly.

Naruto sighed and resorted to drawing patterns in the ground in front of him mindlessly. His drawings, however, became victims of the rain and muddled together until they looked like nothing more than a puddle of mud. The blond huffed irritably, trying to hide the hopelessness he felt from his face and watched as the rain fell through the leaves above with a comforting sound.

As they fell, the thick droplets of water began adding weight to Naruto's already soaked clothing, drawing his defeated slouch increasingly inward. This was the first time he had let himself look this vulnerable in front of Sasuke since the other had returned six months ago.

Naruto tore his gaze from the sky, his eyes landing on the wayward teammate he had always thought he'd known so well. He was surprised to notice that Sasuke was staring at him as well and the waterlogged blond made a point of masking the sadness on his face with curiosity. He certainly wasn't a masochist, and trying to talk to this new Sasuke would only prove to dampen his mood.

This new Sasuke…Naruto couldn't stop brooding over him. He was so distant and emotionless. It reminded him of Sai, except Sai painted over all his apathy with a fake smile that could disarm the best of them. Sometimes Naruto wondered what Sasuke had been thinking when he had left. Actually, Naruto wondered about a lot of things when it came to Sasuke.

"Was it worth is?" he suddenly asked, voicing his most prevalent question.

"What?" Sasuke questioned, surprise and confusion knotting his eyebrows together. Naruto nearly smiled at the familiar expression, until it disappeared, taking his smile with it.

"Was it worth it?" he repeated, staring solemnly at Sasuke. The frozen appendages that were his fingers withdrew into his sleeves as Naruto waited for Sasuke to reply.

"Was what worth it?" Sasuke asked through a clenched jaw. He was irritated, or at least Naruto assumed he was.

"Everything." the blond replied, "Leaving, coming back, almost killing me…" His voice fell into a thoughtful whisper. "…just… everything." Staring at his sleeves, Naruto roughly rubbed the fingers together, keeping his gaze strictly away from Sasuke.

There was a long pause and during it, the droplets of water pounding down on their heads began to lighten, though they still came down steadily. Naruto noted with surprise that Sasuke's breathing was uneven as it came out in irregular puffs of white of mist. Then the puffs evened out and the third member of Naruto's team looked at him with a solid expression.

"…yes," Sasuke finally murmured, his deep voice ringing loudly through the patter of rain. Naruto dared not look up at Sasuke because the consequences… He refocused, and instead tried to quell the anger rising within him. It was visible - easily interpreted through the fierce shakes running through his body. The suddenness of the violent shakes discredited the cold as an excuse. Sasuke, being as observant as he was, must have caught on because his eyes became abruptly alert.

"What did you say?" Naruto could hear the menace in his voice. It was a hint to Sasuke that he had best rethink his answer.

Sasuke's firm gaze never wavered. "Yes." This time the answer was strong and immediate; its surety seemed to rip into Naruto.

"You mean that almost killing me, killing yourself, was an equal price to pay for what you gained?" Naruto demanded in a hoarse growl.

Sasuke's silence was enough of an answer to fuel Naruto onward; it wedged the metaphorical knife even deeper into him. It burned

He wanted to punch Sasuke until his pretty little face was as marred and distorted as his personality had become. "What if I haddied, Sasuke?" Naruto challenged, his voice rising. "Say you hadn't left me alive. What would you have done? Coming back would never have been an option."

"I wouldn't have wanted to come back…" Sasuke murmured under his breath, his voice barely a whisper, but Naruto, missing what Sasuke had said, spoke over him in a shrill and uncontrolled voice.

"More importantly, what if you had died? You know about the The Kyuubi now. Do you understand what kind of power you were up against? I could have killed you and you expect me to believe that you think it was worth it?" Naruto demanded sharply. The question repeated itself numerous times as it bounced off the surrounding trees rather than being absorbed by them.

Sasuke was as calm as the ocean on a still summer day. No hints of unease were visible in his face, his body, his anything

"You bastard…" Naruto whispered and was up on his feet aiming a punch at Sasuke's face strong enough to kill before his mind could even catch up.

Sasuke jumped to the side, narrowly avoiding Naruto's fist and surveyed his ally with slitted eyes. It only served to enrage Naruto further that Sasuke had not felt the need to activate his Sharingan.

"Fuck you, bastard," Naruto hissed and lunged forward, smoothly drawing a kunai. His eyes flickered to the sword at Sasuke's hip and Naruto was painfully reminded of when Sasuke had killed Yamato.

"Tell me Sasuke," he growled as his kunai clashed with the one Sasuke had drawn in defence, bringing them to an impasse, "why didn't you kill me? You had no problem killing Yamato-sensei. Why was I so special?"

Naruto's breathing was coming in short ragged gasps. He needed to calm down. He was seeing red, and not in the figurative sense. Glaring wrathfully, Naruto pulled back from his stalemate with Sasuke and drew in a deep breath that was executed with the intention of pulling The Kyuubi's chakra inward.

It worked.

He opened his eyes and all trace of red surrounding his pupils was gone.

"Sasuke, why didn't you kill me?" Naruto stepped forward, dropping his kunai to the ground, lest he use it to slice the Uchiha into a million fragments of nothing.

"Because…" Sasuke's eyes were wild and yet so calm: controlled chaos. The two genin were so close now that Naruto could feel Sasuke's quick, trembling breaths on his face.

"Why?" Naruto's attempt at stifling the shout caused his voice to crack and he took another step forward, another step towards the warmth he'd longed for during the last three years.

"For the same reason I didn't kill you the first time," Sasuke whispered, his eyes focused firmly on Naruto's. His hand moved forward, barely, a millimetre at most, and it was touching Naruto's.

"Which is…" Naruto prompted furiously - breathlessly. He didn't pull back from the touch with an enraged insult, as he would have three years ago. He instead moved his hand forward slightly into the challenge. His entire focus shifted to the nerves in the appendage, which felt as if they were short-circuiting.

"I'm too weak…" Sasuke admitted with a scowl and stepped away, his head bowed in something akin to defeat.

Instead of the feeling the anger he'd expected at the answer, Naruto felt a tightness in his stomach - a sickness that threatened to purge itself from his body if he didn't do something.

Taking his lip between his teeth and biting hard he turned and picked up the kunai he had dropped and replaced it in its holster - tried to stop his body from trembling, from gasping for air… from feeling.

"The rain's lightened up enough that we should be able to find the cave," Sasuke commented after a moment in the unfamiliar tone that he had picked up in Oto. Then he turned around and headed in the direction they'd come from with Naruto following at his heels, feeling more lost than he had ever felt in his life.


Naruto stood from his regular seat at Ichiraku's with a wide beam on his face as the man at the stand admonished him half-heartedly for the burp he had just released. A few customers shot him nasty glares, but the blond ninja easily ignored the looks with a good-natured chuckle.

"Sorry," he apologized with a sheepish grin.

"Of course you are," the man replied.

There was the ringing sound of laughter as the blond cheekily stuck his tongue out at the man and dropped a handful of coins onto the counter.

Tossing a quick goodbye over his shoulder at the man, Naruto ducked out of the stall, shielding his eyes on the way. The sky blushed brilliantly under a painted wash of pinks, purples and oranges. It was beautiful; the perfect backwash for that glittered upon the horizon. The village itself smelled of the storm that had passed over hours before - a fresh scent of grass and contentment.

The road crunched quietly beneath Naruto's feet on his trek. While walking home through the village, the boy was careful to keep his head down without making it obvious that he was avoiding the stares that were being aimed at him.

Naruto smiled vibrantly at the few people he recognized and, once it had broken through his features, the smile remained firmly in place, even for the people he didn't know. When he became Hokage they would understand that those smiles had been meant as a comfort, as a way of saying, 'I'm not what you think I am.'

Because he was under the impression that he was not spacing out, it came as a surprise to Naruto when he realized his feet were taking him to the clearing where he and Sasuke had spent their time together on Team 7 training, both of them slick with sweat and panting for air as they tried to beat the other. As they tried to domineer the other into submitting; into admitting that they were the weaker of the two.

Naruto shook his head and pushed that thought, no, all thoughts, of Sasuke aside, and walked into the clearing, staring around him as if only seeing the small hideaway for the first time.

The trees were lush with leaves, save for the tree he and Sasuke had always collapsed under after their training was done. That tree was covered in an array of blossoms that would bloom into apples come summer. He smiled faintly at the soft pink petals that dusted the ground. It was beautiful; a work of art.

He could almost see a younger version of himself lying under that tree next to Sasuke, laughing and making jabs at the other boy, who snorted with feigned contempt. An amused smile worked its way onto the dark-haired image's face as it slowly became more and more tangible to Naruto.

Pulling his eyes away from the illusion, Naruto sighed and pulled a shuriken from his holster. With little effort or concentration, the shinobi threw the metal blade to his left and hit his target, a knot in a tree, square in the centre.

Three shuriken followed the first, each one wedging itself deeper into the tree, a sign that Naruto was slowly becoming aggravated.

Sasuke was still lying in the cloud of pink blossoms, watching Naruto with a raised eyebrow as if to say 'is that the best you have, idiot?' A shuriken slashed through the image and it disappeared, leaving Naruto to his thoughts, which were fixed on the fact that he was here… alone. In a spot that was not just his, but theirs. Sasuke's image proved that.

"I'm too weak."

Naruto lashed out and began a series of punches on another tree, a tree that faced away from their tree.

Why did Sasuke consider his inability to kill Naruto a weakness? The skin on Naruto's calloused knuckles ripped as the splintering wood pierced it. He winced slightly and continued his assault on the tree. Taking the counter attack as a challenge, he strengthened his offence.

Behind him, he heard a derisive snort.

He wanted to break something. Hear the satisfying crunch of wood before the tree fell to the ground as nothing more than a shadow of its former self. He wanted to know how Sasuke could allow such a thing to happen to him.

It was as if Naruto had to see something break for himself to understand how Sasuke could have been so thoroughly destroyed as a child. How Itachi had managed to snap the boy in half with barely a thought, the way Tsunade had managed to send Naruto flying through the air with nothing more than the flick of a finger.

Piercing red eyes drilled into the back of Naruto's skull.

The tree refused to break and instead mocked Naruto's weakness, its growing splinters laughing at how pitiful it all was. There were no sounds save for the splintering of wood. Naruto assumed his chakra was flaring with his anger, setting the instincts of the nearby animals on edge.

That was for the best.

He was intimately knowledgeable in the workings of instincts. He had relied on the the Kyuubi's far too many times to not be familiar with them. The stupid fox. Sasuke had seen it - touched it even.

Naruto's leg shot up and slammed into the tree. The shock vibrated upward and a littering of leaves began drifting to the ground.

Now Sasuke knew about the the Kyuubi. And he assumed. He had respected Naruto before when he had thought that the other boy was powerful. But now he had learned that Naruto's power was not his own, but rather an ancient demon's.

Naruto clenched his teeth; he would never rely on the the Kyuubi again. Ever. Every accomplishment he made would be his. It would be won with his bare hands.

The tree wasn't breaking.

Naruto stepped back and continued to do so until he was more than five meters away from the tree. His right hand was now held in front of him, a glowing ball of blue energy swirling in his palm.

Sasuke's eyes widened slightly in acknowledgement but Naruto ignored him.

He would see what it was to break something with his power, not The Kyuubi's.

Without warning, he dashed forward and moved his hand until it was directly in front of him, aimed openly at the tree. When the connection of flesh and wood was finally made, the impact was incredible. His hand crashed through the tree, splitting it.

Breaking it.

Before the tree had time to collapse on him, Naruto pulled away, gathering chakra in his feet, and vaulted upwards slamming into the upper half with his shoulder. The direction of the fall rerouted, it fell - as if in slow motion - away from the clearing and hit the ground with a deafening boom.

In the silence that followed Naruto could hear only two things, his heartbeat and his breathing.

He stepped back, his mind swirling with a hundred different words - none of which he could pinpoint - and collapsed, sprawled upon the ground, suddenly realizing that night had fallen. As his temper subsided, his heartbeat and breathing did as well, leaving him to nothing but his restless thoughts and his quest for peace of mind.

Naruto frowned. Now he could hear two heartbeats and two exhales of breath and, drawn by the need to know who had been watching his outburst, he reached out to identify the source of the noise. The chakra was easily recognizable; it was Sasuke's.

His stomach clenched.

"Oi, bastard, you gonna stand there all day and watch me?" Naruto called.


He sat up, turned to where he felt Sasuke's chakra, and forced a grin.

Just like old times.

"Are you coming or going?"

The chakra slowly moved away and Naruto's smile dropped.

'Going. Always going,' he thought and fell back to the ground. The starry sky, framed by clusters of leaves, filled Naruto's view and he took in the sight greedily. It was beautiful and ethereal. A trail of light shot through the sky, catching his attention, and Naruto watched it, ignoring the way his skin suddenly prickled with the familiar warning of the Kyuubi's instincts.

'Wish upon a shooting star.'

Closing his eyes, Naruto let out a soft breath, sinking into the damp grass and into contentment. Sometimes he wished he were as invisible as he felt; then he would be able to form justification in his mind, true or not, for Sasuke's distance. He opened his eyes slowly then bit his lip in contemplation as the star disappeared from the sky.

It was then that the Kyuubi's chakra flared suddenly within Naruto in warning. But before he had time to react, a strange tugging sensation pulled his eyelids downward, just as the moon began to give off a faint red glow, and Naruto fell into a soft slumber.

AN - This is an edited/partially rewritten Chapter 1! Enjoy

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