The Cumquat Day/ Birthday Card Fluff Story
Disclaimer: I think we can all agree that if Masashi Kishimoto read anything I wrote – though I'm pretty sure he knows that fanfiction exists – he would first laugh, then probably be mildly upset that I have a disclaimer as he would dearly love to sue me. In short: I do not own Naruto or its characters.

Opening Note/Dedication: I think you can also agree with me that there are some writers on FFfnet who you do not approach because you are intimidated by them. You may never even be willing to write a review for them because you feel utterly hopeless in light of their good writing. Uh… I hope I don't' sound arrogant or anything, but there are very few writers who do that for me. However, every now and then I stumble upon someone who doesn't make me feel intimidated, but they certainly leave me in awe.

sha La La. oh my-my was one of those.

Jim Steele was one of those drabble type oneshots that I like to read whenever I have a minute, and I was very glad the day I found it after wading through all the muck that is fanfiction. If you look at the reviews for that one, you'll find one word echoed over the better half of them: beautiful. Simply put, it was raw, real, and best of all, it maintains Naruto and Sasuke's masculinity while giving them the hushed innocence of two boys who are opening up their sexuality to one another in the truest display of trust.

Cassie is turning 16 this week, a fact that floors me. Sixteen and she writes like this? Okay, so maybe that is a little intimidating. In honor of the anniversary of the most glorious day of her birth, I present here a plot buried and dug up fresh from my porn book.

For you, dear Cassie. Happy Birthday, Feliz Cumpleaños, Otanjoubi Omedetou, Many Happy Returns of the Day, etc., etc.

It was 3 o'clock, and everything sucked.

At least it did if you were Naruto Uzumaki, crouched down and tying your converse, tugging down the hem of your ratty faded black pants to hide the fresh ink spelling out "Sasuke-teme" on the inside of your left. You're the loud obnoxious knucklehead and proud of it twelve year old, trying to fade into the woodwork of the slightly worn floors of Konoha Kids Summer School, because not five feet away Ino Yamanaka and Sakura Haruno are whispering excitedly about tomorrow. Tomorrow, you overhear, pretending that your iPod is too loud, is Sasuke-kun's Birthday. You cringe a little at the affectionate suffix. Last year, you would have dearly loved for Sakura to add it to your name. But things have changed since then. Things like hormones. You are now hormones-on-feet-Uzumaki, and for some reason your worst enemy turned rival turned best friend(?) is now the one you think of when you can't sleep.

At first you thought it was frustration and anger because he's better than you at everything and you can never seem to one up him, and when you do he makes like it's no big deal, like you're immature for keeping score. Eventually you think that it might be because you think you might like him. Just a little. As a worthy opponent. He doesn't tease you the way the others do. He picks on you because you think he wants you to be a better person. The thought makes you warm and fluffy inside. And eventually, eventually, after Sakura's 123rd rejection, two weeks before school finishes, you figure it out. You let your heart take over when you run home, beg Iruka-nii to enroll you in Konoha Kids, because Sasuke is going. You spend the next two weeks agonizing over it.


It was 3:07 and everything sucked.


Because you are hormones-on-feet-Uzumaki and tomorrow is the Birthday of your… your what? Tomorrow is Sasuke-teme's Birthday. And you know, without a doubt, watching Sakura and Ino walk down the hall, that every girl at Konoha Kids is going to give him a card. And why not? They, too, are hormones-on-feet, and Sasuke was the most popular boy in the entire 6th grade. And he was turning 13.

You envy him, in the back of your head. To be 13 would be better, nine times better, than being 12.

You buy a handful of blank Birthday cards on your way home, because even though you're no-good, loud, obnoxious, knuckleheaded Naruto, you want to get this right. You spend the next six hours composing and trashing every single one.

You wake up late and suddenly it's 7 o'clock and everything sucks because class starts in thirty minutes and if you're not there on time Sasuke will choose someone else for his sparring partner. Also, there are only three blank Birthday cards left and you have yet to come up with anything remotely close to what you want to say. Worse yet, you have no idea what you want to say. You're only 12, after all.

Twenty-four minutes later, you find yourself pulling on your karate uniform, cheeks flushed from the run and from the sight, out of the corner of your eye, of Sasuke-teme changing into his clothes. You're not a pervert. Not like your Uncle Jiraya. But you appreciate Sasuke's body, especially after weeks of sparring against him and doing damage to it, being dealt damage in return. You wouldn't mind it if he dug his fists into your shirt at the shoulders, pulled you close enough to knock your foreheads together, and breathed heavily after a long spar.

"You're quiet today, dobe," he says after you go a few rounds.

"I have a lot on my mind," you answer, truthfully. There's that warm fluffy feeling again. The fact that you can actually talk to him appeals to you, too.

"Don't let what's left of your brains leak out from the strain," he says sarcastically.

You nail him in the ribs with a roundhouse kick.

After Karate is art, and while Sasuke helps the lab tech load the kiln with clay pots, you pretend to be painting, while composing another card.

"Happy Birthday, Sasuke-teme. You are a great friend…" you look to Shikamaru, who's lazily painting a cloud scene. He raises an eyebrow, shrugs. You favor him with your trademark frown and trash that one, as well. It's almost lunch break, and you know that every girl at Konoha Kids, minus Hinata, maybe, but she might just to be polite, will use that as an opportunity to give Sasuke their card.

Frustrated, you pull out one of the two cards left and scribble "Happy Birthday, Sasuke-teme, you jerk. If you weren't so stupid you would know that I like you, and maybe you'd do something about it next time we spar and you pin me. Like you could. I'm way stronger than you. Naruto-dobe". You grin at the complete accuracy of this one, but stuff it back into your bag and write a simple "Happy Birthday, Sasuke from Naruto" on the last one, striking your canvas with a line of red before slipping out of class and shoving the card into the slot of Sasuke's locker before lunch break starts.

Sasuke's sitting at a table by himself when a group of girls approach him, and he's wheedled into opening his cards by a teacher, that weird Kakashi-sensei who shows up late to all of his classes.

Sasuke reads each silently, politely thanking the girl who gave it to him, and at last he mutters something about "Might as well read this one, too…" and pulls out the blue envelope from you. He must have checked his locker before lunch.

You can't help but edge over, pretending that you're going to throw away your ramen Styrofoam cup. He looks up at you after reading it and you grin, but the expression falls as you notice that the card he's holding is not the one you intended him to read at all. He smirks, perhaps reading your mind, and walks past the girls, putting the card into his pocket and grabbing you by the arm to drag you out of the canteen.


"We're going to spar," he says, still smirking at you over his shoulder. "You're not going to hold back. But I'm going to pin you. And then," his voice drops an octave, "I'm going to kiss you."

He releases you once you get out into the hall.

It takes a moment for you catch up to him as he opens the door to the dojo, lifting a leg to take off his shoe – "Naruto-dobe" written along the inner heel – but when you do, you're loud and knuckleheaded again, albeit warm and fluffy on the inside.

"What makes you think you're going to pin me, Sasuke-teme?"

- The Writer