Disclaimer: I do not claim any rights to Naruto or any characters associated with the anime and manga. They are the property of Masashi Kishimoto. All I do is play around with the characters for fun, not profit!
Summary: See first chapter!
Warnings: See first chapter!
It Should Be Obvious
"talk" normal talk
'talk' thoughts of the character
Chapter Five: Growing closer
Naruto watched as Sakura, again, tried to get Sasuke's attention. He kind of felt sorry for her, because it was obvious that she was still in love with the dark-haired avenger. But Sasuke, apparently, still found her annoying. In the past, Naruto would yell at Sasuke whenever he treated Sakura this way, but now... Naruto found himself feeling happy that Sasuke still didn't like Sakura in the way she wanted him to. He couldn't understand though, why this would make him happy.
"Sasuke-kun, you really do need to take a break. You've been working so hard. It would be nice if we all could have a quiet, relaxing dinner together."
"Sakura is right, Sasuke-kun." Kakashi grinned at his ex-student and then looked over at Iruka. "Don't you agree, Iruka-sensei?"
The brunette nodded his head. "Yes, it would be nice."
Naruto couldn't help but glare at the masked man. 'Damn it! Kyuubi was right! Kakashi-sensei has been flirting with Iruka-sensei ever since they got here.'
"Of course I was right, Brat. I told you, I'm always right." The fox chuckled in amusement.
'I wasn't talking to you, bastard!' Naruto looked at Iruka and saw him blushing and trying to hold back a smile. 'Oh no! Iruka-sensei likes him too!' He ignored the snort he heard from the fox and then looked at Sasuke to see what he would say.
Sasuke was frowning at Kakashi, but then he got up from his desk and walked towards his door, saying behind him. "Fine. I'm not going to get anymore work finished today anyway, because of all of you bothering me."
The others followed the young man out of the room. Naruto took his time though, because he wasn't really happy about having to eat with all of the others, too. He didn't feel like watching Kakashi flirting with Iruka all night. because it freaked him out. But he had to admit to himself that the real reason was that he only wanted to have dinner with Sasuke, alone. Ever since the others had arrived in the village, a week ago, he and Sasuke hadn't had many opportunities to have dinner by themselves. It was either Sakura eating together with them, or it would be Iruka wanting to eat with Naruto alone, or all of them would end up eating together.
After they all got to the restaurant, Naruto sat quietly and just ate, while Sakura and Iruka did most of the talking. He didn't understand why he was feeling jealous about sharing Sasuke with the others, but he couldn't help it.
Sasuke tuned out most of what Sakura and Iruka were saying. Most of their conversations were about the ninja academy or the hospital anyway. He couldn't help but look at Naruto every once in a while. He wondered why the blond was being so quiet. He'd noticed that Naruto was acting differently ever since the others had arrived in the village. 'I thought the dobe wanted them here. He wouldn't leave me alone until I agreed to let them come. What the hell is wrong with him?' Sasuke had to direct his attention to Iruka when he realized the chunin had asked him a question. "Sorry, can you repeat that?"
Iruka smiled at the dark-haired boy. "How are things going with the treaty alliances you are trying to make?"
"Everything is going well so far. The Sand, Cloud and Mist villages have already agreed to an alliance. The elders of the Leaf village, though, are asking for a couple of conditions that I don't wish to grant them."
"Really?" Kakashi sat forward and looked at the young Otokage carefully. "Do you mind telling us what those conditions are?"
"Yes, I do mind." Sasuke looked back down to his plate and started eating again. He was hoping that Kakashi would mind his own business. But he knew his former teacher too well.
"Aww, Sasuke-kuunn. That's no way to be to your former teachers and friends. You aren't afraid to tell us, are you?" Kakashi smirked under his mask and waited to see the boy's reaction.
Sasuke glared at the silver-haired man and then looked over at Naruto. He saw the interest in the boy's blue eyes and sighed inside. 'I wish I had not given in to the dobe.' He looked back at Kakashi. "That is a lame attempt to try and get information out of me, Kakashi. It doesn't matter what those conditions are, because I have no intention on meeting them." 'I'm not going back to Konoha and I'm definitely not reviving the clan there.' Sasuke pushed away his plate and then put some money on the table. He stood up and then looked at Naruto. "I wish to talk to you later, Naruto." He then looked at the others after Naruto had nodded to him. "I need to get back to my office. Feel free to stay here as long as you like." He had left more than enough cash to pay for all of their meals and even dessert.
They all watched as Sasuke left the restaurant and then looked at each other. Iruka was the first to speak. "He is taking his job as Otokage very seriously. Even though he left our village to gain power from Orochimaru, he's turned out to be a good leader."
Sakura smiled and nodded her head. "Yes, he has." She looked over at Naruto and frowned. "Naruto, are you feeling alright? You haven't been acting like yourself lately. Maybe you should come by the hospital tomorrow for a checkup."
Naruto looked up at his pink-haired friend and forced himself to smile. "I'm fine, Sakura-chan! You don't need to worry about me."
Iruka put his hand on the blond's shoulder squeezed it lightly. "You know we can't help but worry about you when you get all quiet. It's not what we're used to, when we're around you. Do you want to talk?"
Naruto did want to talk to Iruka, but first he needed to go talk to Sasuke since his friend had requested it. "Maybe later, Iruka-sensei." He got up from the table. "First I need to talk to Sasuke. If you aren't busy later, maybe I'll stop by your room." All of them had suites in the Otokage tower. Sasuke had had it built to accommodate several guests, just in case it was needed.
Kakashi leaned towards Iruka and put his arm around him. "Ah, Naruto. You might want to wait until tomorrow. Your Iruka-sensei and I have plans for the night."
Iruka shrugged off the other man's arm and glared at him. "If Naruto needs to talk to me, he can." He looked at the blond. "You can come by later tonight, if you want."
Naruto had to force himself not to glare at Kakashi. He smiled at Iruka instead. "Thanks, Iruka-sensei! I will!" He then smirked at the annoyed looking masked ninja and waved goodbye.
Iruka turned to glare at Kakashi after Naruto had left. "Naruto needs to talk to me and you should care more about the problems of your ex-students."
Kakashi gave Iruka a pout, even though it was hard to see under the mask. "Awww, Iruka-chan. I just wanted to spend the rest of the evening with you."
Sakura already knew that Kakashi and Iruka were dating, it wasn't hard not to notice their new relationship after the journey to the Sound village and their behavior the past week. She still didn't understand why Iruka liked her perverted ex-teacher, but she no longer found their relationship too disturbing. She knew when she was the odd man out, so she decided to leave the two love-birds alone. "Well, I need to go study some medical scrolls so I'll see you both tomorrow. Have a good night." She left quickly without waiting for their goodbyes.
Kakashi put his arm around Iruka's shoulder again and pulled him closer. "How nice. We're finally alone."
Iruka blushed. He really liked the other ninja, but sometimes the man embarrassed him out in public. He pushed the arm off his shoulder again. "Please, Kakashi-sensei, not in public."
Kakashi pouted again. "But Iruka-chan, I don't get to be alone with you enough. Let's go back to my room."
Iruka blushed again and looked away. 'Why did I have to fall for a pervert?'
"What's wrong, Naruto?"
Naruto looked at the dark-haired boy who sat waiting for his answer. He didn't know what to tell Sasuke. 'What is wrong? How can I tell him I miss sharing dinners with just the two of us? That I wish that Sakura, Iruka, and especially Kakashi, had stayed back in Konoha.'
"Just tell him the truth, Brat. I thought you were supposed to be a brave ninja. Ha! Coward!"
"Shut the hell up!!" Naruto rubbed the back of his neck and grinned at his friend in embarrassment, when he realized he had shouted out loud. "Uh, sorry, Sasuke. I wasn't talking to you."
Sasuke continued to glare anyway. "Is it Kyuubi that is causing you to act different? If there is some kind of problem going on with you or it, you better tell me."
"It? It! Let me out, Brat and I'll teach him not to insult me!"
'I said, shut the hell up, Kyuubi! I don't need you making things more difficult. Just go to sleep or something.'
"Naruto, answer me." Sasuke was getting very impatient with the blond.
Kyuubi growled in anger but decided not to speak anymore. 'That stupid Uchiha brat. I was going to try and get him and Naruto together, but now I don't think I want the brat around him anymore. I'll find the brat a more respectful mate instead.'
"Kyuubi was just saying something that pissed me off, Sasuke. Don't worry about him."
"Should I be worried about you then? You've been way too quiet lately. What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me!"
"Dobe. I thought friends were supposed to tell each other the truth. Stop lying to me."
Naruto sighed. "I guess it's because we don't spend much time together anymore."
Sasuke looked at the blond in surprise. He knew that he had missed the private time they spent together, but he hadn't realized that Naruto had also missed it, too. "Is that really why you've been quiet?"
Naruto nodded. "I know it was my idea to invite the others here, but I didn't realize it would mean that we wouldn't get to spend much time alone together anymore." He looked away from the other boy. 'I feel like I'm being selfish, wanting to keep Sasuke's attention always on me. Why do I want that so much?'
"Naruto, we can try to do things together more often. The others don't always have to be around, you know. I thought you wanted them to be, that is why I've gone along with it. It's not that I want their company."
Naruto smiled at his friend. "Great! Then can we have lunch, just the two of us, tomorrow? I've been wanting to show you a new jutsu I created." Even though Naruto had Kyuubi's power now, he still wanted to be able to create his own jutsu's. It made him feel independent from the other demon. Like he was an ordinary ninja.
Sasuke couldn't help but smile back. Even though it was a small smile. "Sure. I just have an early morning meeting with my ANBU teams, but after that I'm free." 'I guess for one day, I can take a break to make the dobe happy. It's too strange when he's not acting like himself. Also, maybe I can avoid Sakura and Kakashi all day tomorrow. Sakura still doesn't get that I'll never fall in love with her. She may have gotten stronger and better at being a ninja, but she still has that ridiculous crush on me. And Kakashi just annoys the hell out of me. He finds it entertaining.'
Naruto sat on Iruka's couch, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa that his father figure had given to him. He smiled at the man. After his talk with Sasuke, he was feeling good and it showed on his face.
"I was worried about you, Naruto. But you seem to be feeling much better."
"I'm sorry that I was acting strange to you, Iruka-sensei. I just had a lot on my mind."
"Want to talk about it?"
Naruto put his cup down and turned to face the man. "Iruka-sensei, is there something going on between you and Kakashi-sensei?"
Iruka blinked in surprise. "Um, well...yes there is, Naruto." 'I guess it would be wrong to lie to him.' "We are sort of...dating."
"Dating! But isn't that supposed to be done between a man and woman? And why would you want to date that pervert?"
Iruka frowned. "Well, he is a pervert sometimes. But I still like him anyway." He then looked seriously into Naruto's eyes. "There is nothing wrong with men dating men, Naruto. You may not have seen it before, but it does happen. Love is not something you can just decide to feel for whoever you choose, it just happens."
'So it isn't wrong for men to like, or even love, other men in the same way that men and women do. That means if I like another man that way, it would be okay.' "Um, Iruka-sensei...just be careful with that pervert, Kakashi-sensei, okay? I want you to be happy. If he gives you any problems, just come to me."
Iruka smiled at the blond. He was happy that Naruto felt protective of him. "Sure. I'll let you know if I have any problems with that pervert." Then Iruka couldn't help but laugh.
Naruto laughed with him. "You know how to punish him, don't you?"
Iruka stopped laughing and thought for a moment. 'Oh!' He nodded at the boy. "Yes, I know about his love for those books." 'The whole village knows! I'd burn those books if I wasn't afraid it would kill Kakashi.'
Naruto grinned. "Yep! Well, I got to go, Iruka-sensei. Thanks for the cocoa and for being honest with me about you and Kakashi-sensei." Naruto got up from the couch.
Iruka stood up also and then reached out and hugged the boy. "You're welcome. I hope you know that you can always come to me when you need to talk. Don't keep it inside."
'As soon as I can understand what I'm feeling, then I will tell you. But right now, I'm not ready.' Naruto hugged back and then let him go. "I know and thanks again!" He smiled as he walked to the door. 'I guess it is good that Iruka-sensei is here. It was wrong of me to wish he wasn't.'
Six months later...
Sasuke re-read the scroll that had been handed to him by one of his ANBU captains. 'I can't believe it! It can't be this easy, can it?' He looked up to the captain. "Find Naruto and send him to me. You're dismissed."
"Yes, Otokage-sama." The man then disappeared.
Sasuke put down the scroll and then sat back in his chair. 'Soon, one of my goals will be completed.'
Naruto appeared in front of Sasuke's desk, having used a transportation jutsu instead of the door. He saw that his friend had a strange look in his eyes. "What happened, Sasuke?"
"I found him, Naruto."
It didn't take the blond but an instant to figure out who his friend meant. "Where?"
"It's better if I tell you on the way. Be ready to leave in two hours. We'll be traveling light, so don't pack too much, just a couple changes of clothes."
"Where do we meet up?"
"At our place near the lake."
For months now, the two of them had met at a lake that was just outside the village. They would meet there for lunch every day and no one else ever used their spot. They had grown closer as friends. But both of them actually felt more than friendship for the other. Yet, they had never spoken to each other about their real feelings. Each one thought that the other only felt friendship, and neither wanted to say or do anything that could destroy their relationship.
"Okay, Sasuke. I'll meet you there." Naruto left the room the same way he had entered it.
Sasuke opened one of the drawers in his desk and pulled out a sealed scroll. It was addressed to Kakashi and would instantly be sent to the man, in the event of Sasuke's death. Sasuke believed that he would be able to defeat his brother and survive, especially since he knew that Naruto had the power to heal him and bring him back from death, if needed. Naruto had found out from Kyuubi that there were demon jutsu's that he could use to accomplish this, and had shared that information with Sasuke. But just in case something went wrong, he wanted Kakashi to take care of some things for him. Even though Naruto would survive, he knew that his friend would be too upset to do those things for him.'I really can't believe that this time has finally come. And Naruto will be by my side.' Sasuke got up from his desk after putting the sealed scroll on top of it. No one else would be able to open the scroll, only Kakashi, so he wasn't worried about leaving it out in the open. 'Time to tell my ANBU captains that I'm leaving.'
Naruto and Sasuke had been traveling for a few hours, neither of them talking. Both were too caught up in their own thoughts. They were headed towards a small village, called Careyo, in Lightning Country. That is where one of his allies, the Cloud ninja, had said that Itachi, and two other former Akatsuki members, were recently spotted. Deidara had been the one that had fought with Gaara and captured him. So Naruto knew what kind of skills that man had. The other, called Tobi, was supposedly the weakest of the Akatsuki and so neither of them were that concerned about him. Naruto would be taking care of Deidara and Tobi, so that Sasuke could concentrate totally on Itachi. Naruto was planning on killing them himself without the help of Kyuubi. One reason being that neither he nor Sasuke wanted to see the bloodthirsty demon ripping people apart and eating them. The other reason was that neither of them trusted that Kyuubi would stick with just going after Deidara and Tobi. Needless to say, Kyuubi wasn't very happy about it. They still had two days of travel ahead of them though. Naruto could have made it in under a day, but he had to stay at Sasuke's pace instead. They didn't want Sasuke to be too tired either, when he had to face off against his brother.
At sunset, they both stopped and decided to make camp in a small clearing that they had come across. There was a small stream nearby that they could use for water and to catch fish from. After they had set up camp and eaten, they both settled down on their blankets near the fire. Naruto laid down on his stomach and propped his head up on a fist. Sasuke sat on his blanket and just stared into the fire.
"Are you sure you are really ready for this?"
Sasuke looked over at his friend. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be. It's time to get this over with."
"And then what will you do after?" Naruto had asked Sasuke this once before in the past. The dark-haired avenger had said that he would probably die when he killed Itachi. But Naruto wasn't planning on letting his friend die.
Sasuke sighed and looked back at the fire. "I plan on rebuilding my clan."
Naruto knew that Sasuke had said that was one of his goals when they were twelve year-old genin, but back then it hadn't bothered him. Right now, it bothered Naruto a lot, because he didn't want to share Sasuke with anyone. And he didn't want to be alone. "So, you'll be going back to Konoha?"
"No. I'm going to stay in Sound and rebuild the clan there."
Naruto raised himself up in alarm. "What? You can't do that, Sasuke! What about my goal to be Hokage?"
Sasuke looked at the other in surprise. "What about it? What does that have to do with me staying in Sound?"
"Everything, you bastard! I've stayed with you all this time and I'm going to help you with your revenge! You're supposed to come back with me and help me become Hokage!"
"I never said I would help you become Hokage, dobe. My being there is not going to help anyway."
Naruto looked away from the other boy. "But, I want you to be there. I don't want to be there if you aren't." 'I really sound pathetic! But I don't want to be Hokage without Sasuke being there.'
Sasuke sighed. 'I should have known he would still want me to go back with him. But I have my other goal to consider. And I don't want to rebuild the clan there.' "Naruto, I want to have a fresh start for my clan. Konoha has too many bad memories for me. It's where my clan died and I don't want to rebuild it there. I wish you could understand."
Naruto knew he was being selfish. But he couldn't help it. Sasuke was the most important person to him and he didn't want to be separated from him again. He knew he loved his friend in a way that normal friends didn't. It had taken him awhile to figure out what his feelings for Sasuke really were. He felt that his life would have no meaning if it didn't include the other boy. Becoming Hokage came second to his friend.
When Naruto didn't say anything and kept looking away with a sad expression on his face, Sasuke found himself wanting to comfort his friend. If he hadn't made the promise to himself and to his parents, that he would rebuild his clan, then he would say to hell with his obligations and just do what he and Naruto wanted. He actually didn't like the idea of marrying some woman that he didn't love and having children with her. He knew there was no one that he wanted to be close to or to let close to him, except for Naruto. He had known for a while that he was attracted to his friend and he wanted, so badly, to show Naruto just how much he meant to him. But it was impossible. He owed it to his clan...his parents, to have children and to not let the Uchiha blood die out. His brother had made it so that Sasuke's life wasn't his own to live. His brother would pay for that though.
Kyuubi had been reading the thoughts of Naruto and listening to his conversation with the Uchiha. He had gotten over his anger towards the dark-haired boy, after watching the relationship between the two boys grow closer. So now he was tolerant, once again, of the possibility of the two becoming mates. 'I should tell Naruto the truth about himself now. But it would be better to wait until after that Uchiha brat has his revenge. I don't know if it will be good news or bad news for the brat. I can't believe how much being around humans has mellowed me. I used to be such a bad ass demon. Now look at me!! Playing matchmaker. I'm making myself sick. Well, it's my body too, now. So I'll be sharing in the rewards as well.' Kyuubi laughed to himself. 'It's the only reason I've allowed the brat to keep control. Well, one of the reasons. He is entertaining. I've had lots of fun messing with him and there is more fun to come. If the Uchiha brat turns out to be a good mate, then I might let the brat keep him.' Kyuubi decided to take a nap, since both boys had stopped talking and it wasn't time to let the brat in on the secret yet, anyway.