Disclaimer: Naruto is drawn and written by a fantastically splendid, wonderfully cute, and very talented manga artist: the Masashi Kishimoto. (And Kishimoto-san, if you are, by the slimmest chance, reading this and somehow understanding the English, please elope with me; I will bring the bags of onigiri.)

Chapter Rating: PG-13

Author's Note: One of the big questions that'd been repeated in the reviews was "Why doesn't Naruto realize that Sasuke is truly in love with him?" or "Why did Naruto's attitude towards Sasuke change so much?" The answers to both questions are the same (or, at least, root from the same thing). Naruto is obsessed with someone being his "real fan" and, to the blond, someone is a "real fan" when they are not in love with him but only in love with his music.

As he very mistakenly says to Sasuke in chapter nine, "Sasuke sempai doesn't want my body. You don't come to my concerts because you think I'm hot. You don't ever search for photoshopped pictures of me in the nude on the internet. You just like my singing." This is all totally wrong. Sasuke probably not only searches for these hot photoshopped pictures, but makes them himself and uses them as backgrounds to his laptop. Now that Naruto knows this about Sasuke because the Uchiha said so in chapter ten, "I'm not your brother. I'm not even really your fan at all. I don't want your music or your body even. I just want you. All of you. To keep for me," Naruto is deathly afraid of Sasuke not being his "real fan". (This is just one of the reasons why both boys are messed up; there are a whole bunch of other insecurity and parent issues, which some of you really eloquently pointed out in your reviews. I'm guessing y'all are English majors or avid readers.)

Of course, Sasuke may still be sincere in his love if not his fanboy-ness, which Naruto will have to come to terms with in the following chapter if you read on. Muhahahaha.

Happy Readings!

My E-mail: rosesareblue at ymail dot com (Write me with any comments, questions, or suggestions. Remember, there's nothing like feedback that improves an author's moral/writing and keeps the chapters coming.)

/ Dead / Last /

By Rosesareblue

Chapter Fourteen: Sasuke's Debut

It all happened in slow motion. Sasuke heard Naruto's song, felt Itachi's shoulder brush against his, and knew. Uzumaki Naruto was in love with Uchiha Itachi and Sasuke would rather die a thousand times than live in a world where that was true. But even louder than Sasuke's anguished moan was Naruto's happy shout.


All eyes in the room were on Itachi and Sasuke now, standing in the doorway. There was complete silence, until Temari stumbled to her feet. Shikamaru stood up to restrain her, but the busty blonde woman shook off his hands and blocked the kimono-clad stranger from making his way towards where the Dead Last vocal was opening his arms to him in greeting.

"You get away from him, you sicko!" Temari screamed, hysteric. "My father made it clear, my mother made it clear, and I'm going to make it clear to you for the last time! It doesn't matter one shitty bit if you're Naruto's godfather and Minato-san left him to your care – you aren't laying a finger on him! He's my brother and you won't hurt him too."

In a matter of seconds Naruto had bounded off the stage and slapped Temari across the cheek. Naruto, who had loved and respected his adopted older sister so dearly, slapped her across the cheek.

"Don't talk that way to Itachi-san! He came because I invited him!" Naruto was livid, his fists clenched at his side. "Not even you are allowed to speak to him that way, Tem. I won't allow it."

The blonde girl blinked, and stared at her adopted brother in awe. "You… you invited him? Why in the world would you…?"

"Because he's my dad's friend." Naruto's blue eyes snapped and Sasuke, watching almost mindlessly, suddenly remembered the first time he had laid eyes on the dobe. How singular he had seemed, like he was the one and only true beauty in the world. The lithe body. The golden skin. The shining hair. And those eyes like electricity, challenging everyone in the room to dare go against the fact that Naruto himself was meant to be desired and loved without any hope.

"Because he's my dad's friend," the blond said in his husky voice. "And I love him."

Temari started both laughing and crying at once, shaking her head furiously. "'Ruto, 'Ruto, please. You can love anyone in the world but him. I am begging you…"

Naruto scowled. "What do you mean by that?"

Shikamaru hugged his fiancée to him, shielding her from Itachi and Naruto. "Temari, that's enough."

"No it isn't, no it isn't." Temari's voice rose out of her sob as she struggled in Shikamaru's arms, "Get that man away from my brother, Shikamaru. Get him away from Naruto."

The guitarist pulled his fiancé back. "Tem, Tem, don't say anything…"

"Say what?" Naruto's eyes were darting from a frozen Itachi to a pale-faced Shikamaru, confusion contorting his exquisite features. "Why can't I be with Itachi-san?"

Itachi touched the blond's arm. "Naruto…"

The offensive touch was what made Temari snap, and she said for all to hear, "Because he's your dad's friend. Because he's your dad's friend and he killed both your parents. This sicko is responsible for your mom and dad's accident!"

At her words, the blonde's eyes went blank. He stumbled a little, then fainted to the floor with a crash.

Public Relations Manager Temari managed to keep Naruto's hospitalization out of the papers for a single day, and even that was an impossible feat that only she could have pulled off. So the day after the concert, the news and tabloid spewed endless compliments about Dead Last's latest gig, its legendary success, the band's popularity, and Naruto's ever rising popularity. The day after that, the scandals hit. About Naruto's tragic parents, talented musicians who had died before their prime. About Naruto's godfather being the famous master of the Uchiha dojo of Konoha, and the legal issues surrounding his adoptions to the great family of Sabakuno Production Company. And especially about Naruto's hospitalization. How Konoha's hottest idol hadn't been able to cope with the stress of his fame and his numerous infamous scandals, and had lost consciousness in front of all the representatives of Japan's music industry.

And this turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Three days after regaining consciousness and remaining completely mute, Uzumaki Naruto snuck out of the hospital and disappeared. Not only did he disappear, Uchiha Itachi vanished from Konoha on the very same day. Dead Last,mired in scandal and missing the very face of their band, was forced to announce its hiatus.

This broke even the strong Temari, who had to be taken in by doctors and nurses and forced sedatives. Even under the influence of heavy drugs, she'd cried wretchedly to her brothers, the band, and the girls, "Bring Naruto back. Tell him I'm sorry I failed him and bring him back safe. I don't care what happens to me but… Minato-san, Minato-san was exactly like this too!

"He loved Kushina-san with all his heart but that man, that evil man Uchiha Itachi, was supposedly his muse. His muse, ha! His band was going to him when they had their accident. Itachi's no muse; he's going to kill my baby brother too. It's Naruto's family curse, those red eyes are a curse that controls them! Bring that idiot Naruto back, bring him back! Don't let him die!"

And Sasuke had heard all this with his own ears. He'd been at Naruto's hospital too, not because the raven-haired boy cared about the dobe's wellbeing but because he suddenly didn't know what to do with himself anymore. His first and only love had ended. The sole family he had in the world was gone. The two big purposes of his life, obsession and revenge, had disappeared together. So what was Uchiha Sasuke to do now? He felt that even the annoying but familiar girls he'd had pretended to be friends with, Sakura, Ino, and Hinata, were looking at him strangely – not because they blamed him for what happened, but because he was the only one around anymore remotely linked with the scandal. This was his father's and his past love's scandal and the raven-haired boy was leftover and left utterly alone.

The only contact Naruto bothered with at all after his disappearance was his brother Gaara. The supermodel receive a text from Naruto with the words "Black Rose". The text was traced but the search proved futile, leading to one of Naruto's many work phones that was reported missing and later discovered in an airport trashcan. Shikamaru, Kiba, Chouji, and Kankuro had no idea what the words meant; and if Gaara did, he sure wasn't telling. Having received that message, the redhead packed his bags and returned to Europe without saying a word.

Uchiha Sasuke was now the only one left in Naruto's apartment. He had no interest in supporting a broken band like Sakura, Ino, and Hinata did. Especially, he had no interest in waiting for Naruto or Itachi. So the raven-haired boy sold all his possessions, his Dead Last merchandise, and emptied his savings from his job at the music store. With that money, Sasuke as a boy with no attachments in the world left Konoha.

"Young man! You can't sleep here, get up!"

An offensive mop handle prodded the raven-haired boy's side and Sasuke opened his eyes grumpily. Over his messy hair, a cleaning lady was gaping like a fucking fish. The raven-haired boy groaned, and rolled on his side so that he was facing the back of the plastic seats.

"Oh no you don't. Get up so I can mop."

When the Uchiha just flicked her off, she dropped the mop head on his back.

The raven-haired boy sat up and shot daggers into the cleaning lady's head with his glare. "Go away."

"YOU GO AWAY!" the lady huffed, but left the fight to empty a trashcan first.

The Uchiha was seriously considering homicide, when a voice shouted, "Hey, it's Uchiha."

"What the fuck are you doing here, man? I thought you went back to inherit your dad's millions."

Sasuke looked up to see vaguely familiar faces of his classmates from his boy's boarding school days in middle school. At Sasuke's uncharacteristic disheveled state, reeking faintly of hard liquor and cigarettes, the boys were trying hard not to snicker because, though they remembered well how much the Uchiha bastard had been conceitedly disinterested in their attempts to be friends, they remembered even better their past number one student could punch the daylights out of all of them in a blink of an eye.

But the situation was too tempting for one of the boys not to venture timidly, "Still going through that rebellious stage? What does your hotshot father say about the heir to his dojo pretending to be homeless at the train station?"

More than the implied insult, the word "train station" seemed to rouse the former Uchiha heir. He looked around himself to realize in dismay that it was here that he'd first met Uzumaki Naruto, at those steps over there. His aimless wandering had led him to the place he least wanted to be, save Konoha.

At Sasuke's hardening expression, the schoolboys eep-ed and bowed profusely before hightailing it out of there. The Uchiha stumbled to his feet, trying unsuccessfully to shake off his hangover, and made his way towards the steps he'd crashed into the dobe. He sat on the top step, leaning against the concrete wall.

A fireworks of memories went through his dazed mind.

"My parents left me and now the girl I love is going to leave me too," Naruto had heaved on the night of their meeting, a mess of loneliness. "I'll have no one left. No one to love me for me, the real me. I know I don't deserve to be loved but… but I'm still so scared of being alone. I don't want to be alone anymore."

Sasuke had known. He'd known from the very beginning that Naruto wasn't as self-confident or as happy as he'd tried to pull off. Hiding behind awkward jokes, cracks about his own singing, and in the arms of only those girls who liked someone else, Naruto had been looking for any excuse to be rescued from himself. Sasuke had known how fragile Naruto was behind his stubborn façade, and the raven-haired boy had still left the dobe alone, making him a prize that would fill Sasuke's own loneliness…

"What the hell?" the Uchiha had said that night, "Is that all? You were always alone – we all are. You only just realized it now because you are either retarded or blessed. At least you figured it out before it's too late, dead last, so now you can actually start doing something about it."

And listening to Sasuke's own careless words, Naruto was trying his best to do something about it, but he was still scared of being alone because… who wasn't? Who didn't fear being hated, misunderstood and abandoned? And why should anyone have to do anything at all, to deserve love?

The Uchiha realized then he was crying, tears coming from his crimson eyes and flowing down his pale face silently. He covered his face with his hands and sat at the spot where Uzumaki Naruto had once entered his life and cried tears that had never been shed.

Temari sat with sixteen dictionaries in different languages open around her on her hospital bed. She would look up the words "black" and "rose" in every language in the world, if it came to that. If that didn't work, she would somehow hypnotize Gaara until he was forced to speak. Even if her precious baby brother had been kidnapped by a possible murderer and rapist and demon (aka Uchiha Itachi), there were still things that could be done.

What was up with the Uzumaki family, anyway? Why were all of them idiotically obsessed with Uchiha Itachi? Minato-san's doctor father, making his career out of curing a pair of dimming red eyes; Minato-san, insisting on his friendship with Itachi and writing difficult songs about crimson gazes when Temari and all of Sabakuno Production Company had begged him on their knees to focus more on popularity stunts like game shows and promotion videos; Kushina-san, letting her husband get away with it, laughing over her gleaming guitar and proclaiming friendship was the most important thing in the world; and now Naruto, obviously having been mindfucked by Itachi's goddamn red eyes, and running away to probably elope with what had killed his own parents… WHY COULDN'T THEY JUST PURCHASE RED CONTACTS OR SOMETHING AND BE DONE WITH IT?

"NARUTOOOOOOO!" the blonde PR manager screamed, hurling a Spanish dictionary so hard the IV almost came out of her arm. "WHERE ARE YOOOOOOOOOOOU?"

The door to her hospital room opened and Temari sat up in her seat. "Naruto?"

The nurse was most apologetic, especially noting the broken furniture around the room with steaming books resting on them. "U-um, there's someone who is desperate to speak to you. He keeps calling so I…"

Temari snatched the cell phone from the frightened nurse's hands and barked into it, "NARUTO? I'm so sorry. I was a jackass so please come home you stupid moron…"

An unfamiliar male voice said, "This is Sasuke."

Overwhelmed by disappointment, Temari waved away the remotely familiar name. "Do I know you? Hang up. I can't talk right now…"

The voice interrupted, "I am Uchiha Itachi's son."

"You know where your father and my brother are!" the blonde girl cheered. "Ohmigod, thank you, thank you, thank you even though I fucking hate your whole fucking family, thank you…"

"No, I don't," the voice said curtly, puncturing Temari's glee. "But, I know how to find Naruto."

Temari was more than ready to sign a pact with the devil, or in this case the evil Itachi's son, if it meant the safe return of her brother. "I'll cooperate."

"Good," Sasuke said. "Because I have a plan to get that dobe back."

Haruno Sakura slammed open her classroom door, holding a handheld television over her head like a trophy.

"DEAD LAST IS BACK! THEY ARE COMING BACK!" the pink haired girl crowed.

Immediately, every girl in the classroom was crowded around her.

Ino, violently shoving the heads of her classmates aside, appeared at Sakura's left shoulder. "Naruto finally came back?"

Hinata, crawling under and between the legs of her classmates, popped up at Sakura's right shoulder. "Is he… okay…?"

"No and no. But look!"

In the tiny palm-sized screen, Temari stood with Shikamaru, Kiba, Chouji, Kakashi, and Iruka. She was introducing a lean boy wearing a simple white t-shirt and tight black jeans. Taller than Shikamaru but shorter than Kiba. Raven hair, short and spiked at the back. Not dark, but totally black. He was slender but fit, and had the toned arms of an athlete. He stood gracefully – while boasting a sort of defying arrogance of someone who cared for one and only one thing in his life. He stared down the camera with eyes the color of a crimson moon and spoke after Temari in a man's voice that crashed with his pretty face.

"My name is Uchiha Sasuke, and I'm the new vocalist of Dead Last."

"Sasuke-san… went and had… a sex change…?" Hinata whispered, so that the startled and suddenly drooling girls behind the three couldn't hear.

"Damn that surgery went well," Ino whispered back. "She looks exactly like her cousin and her father at the same time. Maybe the Uchihas are made in factories and not really born?"

Sakura, ignoring the squealing that erupted throughout the classroom, said, "Yeah. I'm glad that Dead Last is back, and that Sasuke-chan is safe though her boobs obviously aren't…"

"She didn't have much breasts to begin with so it probably didn't hurt that much," Ino soothed her best friend.

Sakura nodded but still looked worried.

Hinata said what was on the pink-haired girl's mind, "I hope… Naruto-sama… wherever he is… is okay… with the news…"

Uchiha Sasuke faked a gentle laugh and tilted his chin so that the camera could get an even better shot of his strong jaw line. Thanks to the practice he'd gotten acting as a girl (the hardest role he'd ever pulled off), acting the vapid pretty boy was a cinch. At least in this scenario, he still had a dick – though not much of one, if he really were this pansy ass he played.

The blonde manager had been pretty tame, surprisingly compliant when Sasuke had said he'd join her precious band. But even Temari seemed more bent on getting Naruto back than Dead Last, not to mention the band members themselves. It'd been awkward explaining the cross dressing, but Shikamaru had backed him up and the band and Sabakuno family had encountered much more surprising news in their time, for instance, Naruto's being kidnapped by Itachi? Or maybe eloping with him, who knew?

The raven-haired boy had said he wanted spotlight, and damn quickly at that. Temari had booked him an interview with Hot Stuff, a celebrity program, and given him a demeaning creation of that ponytailed freak Iruka's to wear. For the interview, Sasuke was clad in some tailored cape that hung loosely about his shoulders, leaving his neck naked and his collarbones bare. His inadequately low shirt was of some black filmy material and his pants hung precariously on his hips. All in all, Sasuke felt like a prostitute. It would have been bad enough without the stupid hat. With the hat, he was the King Fruitcake of Fruitcake World.

The cursed hat effectively swept his long bangs from his face to reveal his father's features. Anyone could see the delicate cheekbones and the long black lashes of his eyes. Sasuke, who normally detested showing his face, wasn't shying away today and executing perfectly the lines Temari had coached him.

The interviewer was all a flutter from sitting so close to the erotic looking new star that might go on to beat even Uzumaki Naruto in female popularity if the newspaper predictions proved true and couldn't help giggling after every word.

"So, Sasuke-chan, to break the ice. I heard these bizarre rumors that you used to go to Konoha High as a schoolgirl." The interviewer winked. "What do you think of those rumors?"

Sasuke faked another gentle laugh. "Probably some poor distant cousin of mine with the same name as me. I'm sure she's a nice girl. I'd like to meet her. I've never met someone with my name before."

"Oooh, is that a confession?" the woman teased.

"No, no. I just want to apologize to her for what might be an inconvenient coincidence," he replied chivalrously, while thinking, 'I can see your nose hairs at this angle, lady.'

"Haha, I see. So, Sasuke-chan, can I ask what type of person you really like? Romantically, I mean?"

Still not as loud of Ino, the raven-haired boy thought before saying practiced words, "I like a cute girl with a big heart. I want to cook for her every night."

The interviewer started giggling madly again and Sasuke wished someone would show some humanity and just shoot them both in the face.

"You don't mind if the girl isn't good at cooking herself?" she pressed.

'If she can't even fucking cook, why would I keep the stupid cow of a maid around?' the Uchiha wondered, while saying aloud, "Of course not. Who cares about that when we have our feelings for one another?"

When the interviewer burst out into a giddy "OHOHOHOHOHOHOHO", the raven-haired boy decided she was officially more annoying than Sakura and Hinata combined.

"Maybe this is too heavy a question," the interviewer went on, "but I'm sure everyone is curious. Give us your take on your father Itachi-san's and the former Dead Last vocalist Naruto-san's dirty dirty scandal?"

Sasuke did the gentle laugh yet again and lied effortlessly, "The only thing scandalous are all the speculations. My father was upset that I wanted to start a career in music, because he saw from his close relationship with the Sabakuno family and Naruto-kun how taxing the schedule was. Now that I've debuted, I understand why Naruto-kun wants to take a short break. The schedule's pretty tough."

"That's right. You have a live concert scheduled in only two months – at the Soundless Live House at that," she said.

"My first performance. I am very excited and trying my best," he said smoothly.

"Then, what about the alleged fight between the Dead Last press manager Temari-san and Itachi-san? Was it about adoption issues surrounding Naruto-san? Does that affect your practicing?" the interviewer prodded.

This bitch just didn't learn...

"Oh, just the usual spat about what's best for me and my future," Sasuke said with gentlemanly politeness. "After all, we are one big happy family. What's on the papers are just technical stuff, especially when a family is made up of bonds mere scraps of paper can never capture."

All in all, the Uchiha walked away from the Hot Stuff interview with the opposite image of Uzumaki Naruto. While Naruto's charm had been his bluntness, his charisma, his boyish charm contrasting with his sex appeal, and his cuteness, Sasuke came off as gentle (ha!), mature, erotic, and elegant. After the take, the Uchiha sat with Kakashi teasing Iruka off the set, proud of himself for putting them all under his illusion, when the interviewer lady accosted him.

"Thanks for your hard work, Sasuke-san," she cooed, leaning forward to show off her impressive cleavage. "How about we go out for a drink? On me?"

The raven-haired boy didn't bother replying, turning to Kakashi and Iruka. "Let's leave. It's noisy here."

The interviewer stared after the disappearing men, thunder shocked and wondering how such a pretty boy could be so twofaced.

Temari came to find Sasuke at Naruto's apartment, where the raven-haired boy had been living since his return to Konoha, almost kick opening the door when he had unlocked it.

"Where the fuck is Naruto?" Temari demanded, "I listened to everything you said because you sounded positive that it'd bring that idiot back and all you've been doing for these past two fucking months is appearing on one superficial celebrity show after another and fake being so nice it's sick!"

The Uchiha rolled his eyes, not bothering to offer her a seat. "You think I enjoy being baby-talked to by ugly women wearing too much makeup? No wonder Naruto cracked, if you had him doing this shit even half the time."

At that, the blonde woman covered her ears and blubbered, "Don't say that, don't say that. I feel guilty enough."

The raven-haired boy wasn't sympathetic. "Naruto will come back after the concert. If that's all you came to ask, you can show yourself out now."

"About the gig too," Temari said. "Why don't you to come to one practice at least? Kiba's been complaining to me nonstop and it's a bitch."

"Yeah? Well these repetitive interviews are necessary to quiet the scandal made by your losing it in front of those big shots," Sasuke hissed, making the older girl blotch an uncharacteristic red. "And tell your loud bassist not to worry and shut up. I have all of Dead Last's songs memorized by heart."

The blonde seemed skeptical, but let it go with the question, "You are sure Naruto will come back after the concert?"

"Yeah." The raven-haired boy sighed, looking up at the pictures of Naruto with his parents, the Sabakuno family, and his bandmates still hanging from the walls. "Let me ask you a question? Did my bastard father really kill Naruto's parents?"

"Just about," the blonde girl spat. "I never knew what the big deal was with your freaky dad, I mean, he's one hell of a hottie but so what? There're loads of them in this business… but maybe musicians see things differently. I wouldn't know. Minato-san, Naruto's dad that is, was obsessed with your dad, maybe more than Naruto himself but in a different way… Anyway, supposedly you ran away from home once…"

"Not once," Sasuke smirked, but with no joy. "Countless times."

"Well, every countless time, Minato-san would hurry over to keep your dad company so he wouldn't feel alone or whatever, and one of these times was right after his mainstream debut gig. Minato-san had the band's van turn around to head to the dojo after getting Itachi's call, and that's when they had their accident." Temari's eyes filled with tears at the memory but her voice was snide, "So, the band's muse and unofficial mascot is responsible for killing them all, on the eve of what could have been the making of one of the greatest rock musicians in Konoha history. That's your father."

The Uchiha felt as though he understood his estranged father for the first time in his entire life. Sasuke had resented Itachi because he'd always suspected he didn't love his mother, and by extension Sasuke himself. Itachi was always distant, aloof, and cold. And now the raven-haired boy knew that that coldness didn't sprout from Itachi's hatred of Sasuke, but Itachi's having lost maybe the one person he'd truly ever cared about. Whoever Minato-san was, his father had loved a married man without hope of ever being loved back in the way he wanted, only to lose the said man by his own accidental doing…

And, in the aftermath of that history, there was Sasuke and Naruto.

"I will bring Uzumaki Naruto back with my singing," the raven-haired boy told Temari with authority that surpassed even hers. "So make sure you have the rest of the band prepare. Also, send out tickets to your brothers, especially Gaara."

Temari rolled her eyes. "Gaara's not going to come. He prefers silence, if it's not Naruto singing."

"Send them anyway."

The blonde manager wanted to believe that this dark stranger could truly bring back her missing baby brother and agreed.

"What an impressive crowd," a very dirty Ino told a very dirty Sakura. The girls had gotten their live tickets through Hinata through Kiba, and had decided not to risk missing their former girl friend's debut by skipping two days of classes and camping out in front of the live house to be first in line. They looked like shit, but hey. Sasuke had seen them pluck their eyebrows and shave their pits in the bathroom during breaks; it wasn't like she-now-he was going to be impressed with their beauty now.

A very dirty Hinata looked at the crowd behind her and sighed dejectedly, "It's like… they forgot… all about Naruto-sama… only a few months… ago… those plank cards… read Naruto-sama's name… and not Sasuke-san's…"

"You got to hand it Sasuke-chan, though, she, he, really knows how to work it," Sakura said. "I watch all the stuff, she, he, ugh! Will I ever get this down? Anyway, I watch Sasuke-chan's shows and I don't know who the person doing that gentle laugh is. I mean, with us, it was like she was on PMS all the time, wasn't it?"

"No kidding," Ino agreed. "PMS to end all of PMS."

"Being in love… changes people…" Hinata spoke in Sasuke's defense.

"So does getting a sex change," Sakura said wisely.

When they entered the concert hall, the set up was hauntingly same as the last time save that the band was already on stage, wearing casual jeans and shirts. Ino noted, with a sinking heart, that there were rings under Shikamaru's eyes that couldn't quite be hid by foundation. Sakura noticed that Chouji had lost a lot of weight, and looked weary. And Hinata worried about the cross look on Kiba's face as he practically ripped at his bass while tuning it.

"U – CHI – HA – SA – SU – KE! U – CHI – HA – SA – SU – KE!" the chanting started, followed by screaming.





"KI – BA – KI – BA – KI – BA!"



At that last remark, calm docile Hyuuga Hinata whipped around and punched the screamer in the face.

"Hi-Hinata-chan!" Sakura shrieked, as Hinata threw herself on the fallen girl and smacked her repeatedly with her Chanel purse.

"Take… that… back!" the pearly eyed girl shrilled, even when the attacked girl's friends pulled Hinata off by her hair. The Hyuuga heiress gritted her teeth and shouted, "Take that… back… how dare you… insult… Naruto-sama!"

Ino and Sakura pushed the other girls off Hinata, and the three girls faced off a horde of angry fangirls. The girl who'd screamed, now supporting a black eye, shrilled, "What the fuck is your problem, you crazy bitch?"

"Don't call my friend a crazy bitch, you crazy bitch!" Sakura snapped back. "Or I'll bruise your other eye!"

The imminent catfight was interrupted by the appearance of one Uchiha Sasuke. He stalked out on stage, and stood up straighter so that everyone in the crowded hall could see all he was wearing was a pair of pants that hung low at his hips. The boy wasn't even wearing shoes; beneath the black jeans, his feet were bare. The brunet's shirtless-ness showed off the flawless white skin, the toned chest, and the slim waist. The way a silver key hanging from his neck emphasized his naked neck and accented collarbone. While the three girls were reminded that this had been Naruto's exact look at the first concert they'd taken their raven-haired girl friend too, the hall broke out into one deafening scream of desire.

If the Uchiha saw his former classmates in the audience, he didn't show any sign of it, violently grabbing the mike before him and nodding to Chouji who hit the beginning beats.

And then the raven-haired boy opened his mouth and sang a stanza of his favorite Dead Last song: "In a world full of strangers, all I know is you."

It was epic, the reaction of the crowd. They stood absolutely still, mouth dropped open, as if the sky and earth had changed places. Chouji dropped a drumstick and Kiba was plain gaping. Even Shikamaru had stopped playing, staring aghast at the wonder that came out of the erotic raven-haired boy's mouth.

It really was a wonder how someone with such a glorious speaking voice could be so goddamn awful at singing. Sasuke sang with no pitch or tune. It was the worst sound anyone had ever heard and the horror was the Uchiha sang on and on, totally ignoring the stupefied expressions of everyone around him.

At one point, when the cursing started spreading through the crowd, Kiba all out sobbed, "Stop, man. For all that is holy, please stop now."

But Uchiha Sasuke just flicked him off and continued with the song. Halfway through, the audience started to disband, some bolting out of the live house with their hands over their ears. The three girls were rooted in place by their utter shock, thinking collectively how, in retrospect, it was a blessing Sasuke had rejected all their offers to go with them to karaoke. And still the raven-haired boy sang a song that should be impossible coming out of such a pretty body, all the way to the fucking end. If it were in the United States, the performance would have surely counted as "a cruel and unusual punishment".

When he was done, Sasuke swiped the single bead of sweat rolling down his creamy skin and said into the mike, "You listening, dobe? That one was for you."

A staff hand rushed to steal the microphone from the raven-haired boy, lest he start singing again, but the Uchiha heir simply shoved him off the stage and continued talking.

"This popularity thing is pretty damn easy," Sasuke sneered into the cameras. "I might have been more popular than you as of yesterday since I'm that fucking good looking, aren't I? Lots of your stupid fans converted to being my fan, usuratonkachi. Did you know that?"

The raven-haired boy paused and a sarcastic smile, but a real one, lifted the corners of his lips.

"But I can assure you that, as of tomorrow, I won't be popular at all, not with my singing. Now that I've proven to you that your singing's important, quit whining like a fucking bitch, Naruto, and come back home. Come back home or I'm going to remain the vocal of Dead Last and destroy your shitty band."

With that confession, Uchiha Sasuke shoved the microphone away so it toppled off stage and walked out of the spotlight.

When the raven-haired boy returned to the apartment four days after his notorious concert, Naruto was sitting on the leather sofa as though he had never left. On the Uchiha's entrace, the blond rose to greet him.

"Gawd, Sasuke sempai. I've never been so embarrassed in my entire life. I hid my face during the entire plane ride here in case people associated me with your crappy singing. Did a cat die in your throat when you were a baby or something?"

The Uchiha dropped the grocery bags in his hand and pulled the blond towards him – to slug him hard in the face.

"Damnit, sempai, I have to use this face for work!" Naruto wiped at his bloody nose and realized his lip was broken too. "Holy shit!"

Sasuke crouched down next to where the dobe had fallen and yanked the bleeding boy into a hug.

"Never do that to me again, usuratonkachi, or I'll kill you," the raven-haired boy spoke into Naruto's neck.

"By singing to me again?"


And at that, the blond started crying, not because of the pain but from sheer gladness of the other boy's presence. He clutched the bigger boy's shoulders and sobbed, "I am home, Sasuke."

Sasuke's embrace tightened, trapping Naruto to him.

"Okaeri, dobe."

Welcome home, dead last.

A/N: And that's chapter 14! The title of the next chapter is going to be "Naruto's Love"; lots to reveal from Naruto's side of things. Please, please review. They really help me churn out the pages and keep the updates coming. I'm sure those of you who write know that encouragement is a powerful thing.

As always, thanks for your interest in Dead Last.