Sasuke and Naruto are finally reunited. This story follows them throughout the year.

Warning: Cursing and slightly adult themes.

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto. The titles of the chapters belong to Stephen King, from his collection of short works entitled Different Seasons.

Notes: I've got to get back into the habit of writing. This is an attempt, of sorts. Forgive me if dialogue feels forced or things don't lace together seamlessly. I'm out of practice.

Konohamaru looked up from his lunch—a bowl of miso ramen—as a group of younger students from the academy rushed past Ichiraku, shouting excitedly. He only caught a snatch of their conversation as they shot past:

"—can't believe it!"

"Yeah! Naruto's coming home!"

"And I heard he—"

Konohamaru grinned lightly to himself, lowering his chopsticks. It was hard to believe that in the years since he had befriended Uzumaki Naruto, the blonde's popularity had skyrocketed. There were even rumors that the Old Hag (a.k.a. Tsunande) was seriously considering him as a worthy replacement for her as hokage. That rumor alone would have made Naruto fly into a gleeful set of backhand springs, but it was fairly recent, and the blond hadn't been around for a good while now: he was on a mission.

Not anymore, it seemed, and Konohamaru gulped the last of his ramen down and leapt from his chair, throwing a handful of yen onto the table, not really caring if it was the correct amount or not. He had to go see Naruto, had to go see his face as he walked back through the gates of the city that he loved so much. He had to see if Naruto had finally gotten what he'd wanted for the past four years.

A thick crowd of civilians had gathered around the high wooden gates at the city entrance. Some of the ninjas had either leapt up onto neighboring rooftops so they could get a better view, or balanced on top of the tall stone fence that connected to the gates and trailed off to either side. Konohamaru was one of these people, but as soon as the three (three? He could remember thinking worriedly. Only three?) silhouettes on the path turned into actual human-shapes, he leapt nimbly down and landed on the dirt path on the other side—the shocked gasp from the crowd made him grin smugly to himself—and started running toward them.

"Naruto! Heeeeeey, Naruto!" he waved one hand enthusiastically over his head, looking for some sign of recognition or acknowledgement from the party. That was when things looked eerily wrong: two of the three human-shapes began to take on a sort of bloated quality, as if they weren't human but fat, giant monsters that walked upright. That's totally ridiculous, Konohamaru blinked but it nonetheless stopped his run and stood in almost dumbfounded apprehension, waiting for the figures to show color and shape so he could identify what they really were. The first one that his mind completely identified was the actual human-shape: it turned out to be Sai. He looked almost pathetically tired, and his dark eyes landed on Konohamaru and gazed through him, as if there was nothing there at all. He shuddered, tearing his eyes away from that shell-shocked stare and tried to puzzle out the shape to the right; the larger monster (oh, get over it) of the other two.

That one turned out to be Hatake Kakashi carrying a sleeping Haruno Sakura. Konohamaru had just enough time to wonder why she was sleeping—or if she really wasn't sleeping, what was wrong with her—when a tired sounding voice called from his left.

"Hey, Konohamaru," Uzumaki Naruto croaked, and in that voice, the younger ninja heard years of pain and age wrapped up in the words, as if he had come back from a five year mission (which was actually close enough to the truth). He looked to his friend's face, but saw nothing of the Naruto that had left a few months ago to rescue his teammate. He saw Death staring him down and Konohamaru involuntarily cried out as it seemed Death lunged at him, and he turned wildly, unthinking (gotta run gotta run gotta run) but a thud came from behind him and Kakashi gave a sort of half-laugh, half-cry of pain and there was another thud. He spun back around to see that Naruto (yes, it was Naruto all along) had fallen face-first into the dirt and was now unconscious. The weight that he had been carrying was none other than Uchiha Sasuke, looking older and dressed in strange clothes but not really different from all his years of absence, also unconscious. His eyes shot wildly to Kakashi, who had fallen to one knee, panting harshly. Sai stopped and looked left, then right, his eyes taking in his fallen comrades unheedingly but he stopped walking as if on some inner level he understood after all, which, Konohamaru later thought, he supposed was the truth.

"Konoha…" Kakashi gasped, and for the first time in his entire life, he saw Kakashi didn't have his headband draped over his left eye; he didn't have one at all. He saw the blood-red flash from beneath the sweaty and dirty locks of fine silver hair and cold fear left him frozen to the spot. After all those years of wondering, he didn't want to know, didn't want to see, and he turned and fled back up the path screaming for a medical team. In the end, it was what Kakashi had wanted to ask him anyway, but no—he hadn't wanted to see. In some perverse way, that red gleam was like a seductive taunt that made Konohamaru want to obey whatever its owner commanded, and he didn't like that feeling, not one bit.

And that was Konohamaru's first run in with the Sharingan eye, but he didn't know that for a long time afterwards.