Yes, I know I'm a tad late, but this is a Naruto birthday fic. I got this idea trying to come up with a theme for my second A to Z story, but I decided it would work better as a standalone oneshot. I think it was a good idea, but it seems I have a difficult time putting it into words. I think it drops off towards the middle, but let me know what you think of it. Thank you!

Naruto and Sakura belong to Masashi Kishimoto.

Naruto sat in his dimly-lit apartment, depressed. The only light came from the bright colors of the festival below.

'Another rotten birthday,' he thought bitterly. Needless to say, he truly hated this date. For sixteen years now, he's had to shut himself away so no one would bother him.

"Well, at least no one's thrown anything or tried to burn my house," he joked aloud, laughing sourly. He sighed and sprawled himself out on his couch, his hands behind his head.

"Heh, I'd probably go to that festival, provided there was someone who'd protect me..."

As if on cue, a light knock sounded at his door. Quickly getting up, he sprinted to the door. He peered through the peephole. After all, he had to be extra careful on this day. He recognized pink and green and quickly unbolted the door to let her in.

"Hey Naruto," she said casually when the door swung open.

"Uh, hey, Sakura-chan... How come you're here?," he asked dumbly.

"I came to wish you a happy birthday, Naruto."

"Well, this is as happy as it gets, I guess," he joked dryly. "Come on in."

"Thank you, Naruto," Sakura said as she stepped in.

"Whuzzat?," Naruto asked, noticing the small shopping bag in her hands.

"Oh, this?," she asked, holding up the bag. "It's your gift, Naruto," she said with a grin.

"Gift? For what?," he asked, confused.

"It's your birthday gift, silly!," she chirped, giving him a light slap on the shoulder.

"I-I didn't know people got gifts on their birthdays, Sakura-chan."

Sakura's smile disappeared. "You mean you never got a single present for your birthday?," she asked guiltily, knowing that up until now, she hadn't done anything either.

"Well, I guess Iruka-sensei got me ramen, but he got it for me so often, I didn't think it was anything special."

Sakura dropped her bag and pulled Naruto into a hug. "You poor thing, and I never did anything for you either, did I? I'm so sorry, Naruto," she said sincerely.

"It's alright, Sakura-chan, that doesn't bother me," Naruto said, removing himself from her embrace. "The thing that I really hate though, is that every year on my birthday, everyone looks at me with more hate and anger than usual. They throw things at me and try to destroy my home. I really don't like to complain, but it just makes me so angry," he explained, tears beginning to sting his eyes.

"Naruto, it's alright, you have every right to be angry," Sakura said quietly. "Everyone failed to see you for you, and they hated you because of it. I could've been nicer to you, tried being your friend, but I didn't because no one else did," she admitted, her vision becoming cloudy as well.

"It-It's just the pain of being alone and knowing everyone hates you just really gets to you sometimes, y'know?," Naruto half-asked, half-stated with a sniff, trying to hold back his tears.

"Yeah... Although it's probably not the same, I felt cold and empty when Sasuke-kun left. I was so miserable, I couldn't eat," Sakura recalled, a tear managing to slide down her delicate cheek. "If you need to cry, Naruto, you're more than welcome to," she offered, seeing his glistening eyes even in the poor light. He spoke as Sakura guided him to the couch and sat them down.

"What're you talkin' about, Sakura-chan? I'm gonna be Hokage. Hokages aren't s'posed to cry," he said, tears splashing down his cheeks in spite of himself.

"Yeah, you're right, Naruto. People really shouldn't cry, it's so unbecoming," Sakura sobbed, pulling Naruto into her arms once again. He returned her embrace, crying silently on her shoulder. Sakura buried her face into his chest and let her sobs overtake her.

"Naruto, I'm so sorry! I'm sorry for the way I treated you in the past, I'm sorry for not believing in you, I'm sorry for everything I've ever done to you! I'm so sorry!," she wailed into him, tightening her hold on him.

"I-It's alright, Sakura-chan, you're f-forgiven," he said shakily, patting her back. She only tightened her embrace further. The two teens continued crying and reassuring each other for minutes afterwards, their sobs weakening into little gasps and hiccups. By the time they were through, their hair was disheveled, their faces were red, and both had slightly runny noses. They gave each other a warming smile and laughed awkwardly.

"Ah... that was a good cry, huh, Sakura-chan? I feel great now!," Naruto said in an attempt to break the tension.

"Yeah... I think we all need one once in a while," Sakura agreed with a laugh.

"Do you need something to wipe your nose, Sakura-chan?," Naruto asked, already reaching for his handkerchief.

"Yes, please. Thank you," Sakura said, taking the cloth and wiping her face before blowing her nose. Naruto took it back when she finished and blew his nose into it as well. Sakura watched in disgust.

"Naruto! That's gross! I just blew my nose into that!," she scolded.

"Ah, no worries! I used the clean part, Sakura-chan!," he exclaimed with a wide grin. Sakura smiled, glad to have the cheery Naruto back.

"Oh! That's right! I totally forgot!," she said, getting up from the couch to retrieve the forgotten paper bag. She noticed the front door was still wide open from when she was let in. She blushed in embarassment, hoping nobody was around to hear them. She picked up the bag, shut the door, and sat back down next to Naruto.

Naruto watched as she pulled out a small square box and an elegant white ribbon. She handed the box to him first and instructed him to open it. He did as told and set the lid aside, revealing two sterling silver necklaces.

"What're these?," he asked, picking them up and dangling them in front of him.

"They're friendship pendants, Naruto. As you can see, there are two necklaces, each with half a heart on them," Sakura explained. "We each take one for ourselves, and see? The two fit together perfectly. It's a symbol of our friendship, Naruto."

"Hey, that's pretty neat," Naruto commented, putting the two halves together. "Thanks, Sakura-chan," he said graciously, putting it around his neck. "This'll be right next to Granny's necklace, and it's gonna stay there!"

Sakura grinned at him as she put her half on. She picked up the ribbon and tied it around Naruto's upper arm.

"Now what's this?," he asked.

"To be honest, Naruto, I bought this for me, but I think you should have it. It comes with a promise, so you'll always be reminded when you look at it.," Sakura started. "My promise, Naruto, is this. No matter how down you may feel, no matter how badly you hurt, remember this: I will always be there for you. I'll be your support. I'll be your friend. It's my promise of a lifetime to you, Naruto. It's the least I can do for the man I love," she stated honestly, giving Naruto's hand a squeeze.

"Wow, thanks, Sakura-chan, that's the best gift I could possibly get," Naruto mumbled.

"Are you so sure about that?," she asked.


"Really? Come closer, I have something else for you, Naruto."

"Seriously? What?," he asked curiously, peering into the bag.

"It's not in there, Naruto. Look at me," she said. Naruto complied.

Sakura reached up and held Naruto's face in place. She leaned in and gently pressed her moist, soft lips against his drier, slightly chapped ones. She kissed him tenderly, pulling away after a few seconds, leaving a bewildered Naruto behind.

"Was that a better gift?," she asked shyly.

"Y-Yes," Naruto answered, at a loss for words. "I-I love you, Sakura-chan."

"Haha, I love you too, Naruto. Happy birthday."

Thanks for reading! Reviews will be appreciated!