I started writing this over two months ago as a birthday present for sha La La. oh my-my, and had had the intention of, you know, finishing it said two months ago. But, uh, obviously that plan failed miserably. I hate school.

But, dear Cassie, I veryveryvery belatedly present this fic to you now. (Er, better late than never?) This started out in my head as a drabble, but it grew and grew and grew…

As this became more and more late, I thought to myself, "Self, is there anything you can do to make this a better birthday present for Cassie (and make up for the massive fail that is your lateness)?"

And because I know how much you love her music, I found myself looking up Vanessa Carlton lyrics! :D I discovered that the song "Who's To Say" went eerily well with what I had written, and that in turn inspired me write more and more... and here we are.

So happy belated sixteenth birthday, Cassie! Thank you for your friendship, support, and incredible writing! -hugs & much love-

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, unfortunately; I might actually be able to afford a car if I did. I also do not own "Who's To Say" by Vanessa Carlton, as I am not, in fact, Vanessa Carlton (sorry, Cassie!).

Warnings: Boy love (NarutoxSasuke): don't like, don't read! Also, brace yourself for abuse of commas, parentheses, and italics (once again, please blame my poetic background! Gah.). Oh, and about enough fluff to knit a scarf with. And it's AU.

Notes: I think I'm actually fairly satisfied with how this turned out. I've wanted to write this scene with Sasuke and Naruto for a while now.


So bright

Do your trick, turn on the stars

Jupiter shines so bright when you're around

Beyond the glass, the world below is bathed in neon, faraway lights flickering like a swarm of radioactive fireflies in the blueblack night.

Out there, in a little village miles away from tiny apartments and plagues of firefly-lights, the first twenty-one years of his life have been left behind. And he finds that the boxes around him no longer seem to hold quite as much of him as he thought they did.

He only notices that he's stopped unpacking when Naruto catches him staring out the window. He listens to the footsteps shuffling across the bare floor—a squeak-crunch as a stray packing peanut meets its premature demise.

Naruto questions nothing (never does in the moments like this, when those dark eyes look as they do now, reflected in the glass like black holes absorbing endless light), just ghosts his arms around a too-thin waist and settles the warm, reassuring weight of his chin onto the strong shoulder in front of him.

He follows Sasuke's gaze out the window, but knows that they aren't seeing the same thing. So he waits.

They stand like this for seconds, minutes (hours, days, lifetimes?), looking out from the window of a bedroom—

(Their bedroom, but it doesn't seem real. None of this is real.)

It, like the rest of the apartment, is empty, a white-walled wasteland of cardboard and packing tape. Sasuke finds that he can't bring himself to look at it all for the moment—to look at the boxes he carried out from the house he grew up in, the boxes he loaded into his car alongside Naruto's, the boxes he took with him to finally start living his own life. The boxes that gave him the strength to never look back.

He knows he'll only see the sadness in his mother's eyes if he looks now. There is nowhere to look but out now.

Yet the dark becomes his father's eyes, hard and angry, shining with disappointment— Oh, he never could turn away from those eyes either—

He had thought that the you're not fulfilling your obligations as an Uchiha!s and why can't you be like your brother?s and you'd turn your back on your family to be with that…boy?!s had all faded into nothing as the scenery bled from green to gray concrete, as he abandoned a life planned for a life wanted.

But here, fresh out of college and in an apartment in a strange new city, it all just seems so... fallible.

(and he is finding, for the first time, that he is fallible, too.)

There's a whole universe down below, unknowing and uncaring of their very existence. Here, left to their own private corner of the universe, they are allowed to be—to finally just be—Sasuke and Naruto, instead of Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto.

But when the silence is loudest, the Is this all worth it?s and the What if we don't make it?s come, crackling and buzzing inside his head.

(and he is finding, for the first time, that he is truly scared.)

He's on his own—no, no—

They're on their own.

The guilt creeps up his veins and gnaws at his insides (which are so overwhelmingly full; he hasn't been hollow since the first time he felt those lips against his).

And Naruto's arms tighten around him, because he knows. Knows Sasuke feels the instinctual need to sabotage anything good that may happen in his life; knows and holds him closer, to remind him that it's alright to let himself be happy.

Naruto is quite good at banishing demons away, Sasuke thinks.

Naruto's breath is warm as it fans softly against his cheek, and he can feel that heartbeat thudding faintly in the chest pressed up against his back—almost imperceptible, but unfailingly there. Sasuke allows himself to be held, just for the moment.

(and so there is light juxtaposed against the dark within the room as well.)

"We can't see the stars," he murmurs, just to break the silence, and doesn't realize he's speaking until the words spill from his lips. It sounds like something Naruto would say, he realizes belatedly.

But even as his own words reach his ears, his mind registers that from their window onto the world, no star can be seen from under the blanket of smog and permeating florescence of the city.

Naruto's brow furrows at the statement, and Sasuke can feel the muscles in the jaw pressed lightly against his neck twist into a contemplative frown.

A heartbeat, two heartbeats, and then he feels the smile return. Just as suddenly the arms around him are gone and Naruto is out the door, firing a "Be back in a few!" and a grin over his shoulder.

Sasuke stares blankly at the door for what feels like several minutes, and, as the Uchihas don't get confused! rings out inside his head, is once again relieved that now he is just Sasuke.

It is nearly an hour later when Naruto returns. Sasuke turns from the box he is unpacking to fix the boy walking through the bedroom doorway with a pointed glare.

"Where the hell did you run off to, idiot?" …Not that he was worried about Naruto wandering around the dangerous, unfamiliar city. Or something.

"Aww, did you miss me that badly?" Naruto grins impishly, but wisely decides against throwing in a good eyebrow-waggle for emphasis when the glare directed at him intensifies.

Hastily he whips out a paper bag, nondescript and flat, from behind his back, presenting its contents to Sasuke.

And Sasuke, still scowling, doesn't know what the hell he is supposed to be looking at.

"They're glow-in-the-dark stars," Naruto supplies helpfully, and is met with a disbelieving look.

"…You just ran out of the apartment to search the city for plastic stars?"

Naruto shrugs, smiling sheepishly. "Well, you said how we couldn't see any stars, so…I thought I'd try to find you the next best thing, and this was all that came to mind. We can stick 'em on the ceiling in here and it'll be like our own private galaxy!"

Sasuke feels his heart constrict and pulse in a delightfully dizzying manner, awestruck by the man before him. There are a number of things he could say, wants to say, but because he is Sasuke it comes out, "It'll be a pain in the ass to have to take those off of the ceiling. The landlord will be pissed."

"…Oh. I thought we were… planning on, uh, staying awhile…?" Naruto's mouth is still grinning, but something fizzles out in those dazzling eyes, and Sasuke finds the urge to smother himself with the pile of newly-unpacked shirts momentarily tempting.

Watching the uncertainty that had plagued him just hours before start to infiltrate that thick blond skull, Sasuke realizes he needs to remedy it immediately lest he have to assume responsibility as the pillar of stability in this relationship (and he is more than aware of the several strikes against them without wishing to add that cataclysmic ingredient into the mix).

So, opening the package and peeling back the adhesive backing on one of the flat pieces of star-shaped plastic, he reaches up and presses it firmly to the ceiling. His gaze trails down from his hand to meet Naruto's eyes, hoping he understands.

Hoping he understands that's it's not just an affirmation, but a promise.

And Naruto smiles because he has always understood.

The next half hour is spent crafting constellations (Sasuke) and haphazard shooting stars (Naruto).

The ceiling of their bedroom becomes a reverse cosmos—a field of pale stars splashed upon a canvas of white.

His last star in hand, Naruto contemplates the ceiling, then the man beside him, before reaching out to stick the small piece of plastic right on Sasuke's forehead.

Sasuke, in true form, wastes only a moment to register his surprise before retaliating. He lunges after the fleeing Naruto, aiming for his face but ending up with his star sticking somewhere around the other's exposed collarbone (ultimately, he thinks it is better there anyway, closer to his heart).

They end up on the floor, as they usually do. Limb over limb they tumble, grappling and wrestling. It is their oldest and truest form of communication, left over from boyhood clashes of temper. In moments like this they are nothing but two teenage boys, the best of friends, and nothing has changed, except—

Naruto manages to pin him this time. His victorious grin is short-lived however; Sasuke, ever the sore loser, yanks him down to erase that grin with his lips.

It's better when they both win, anyways.

Their kisses lack the fluid grace of those seen on television and movie screens, but those hard, rough presses of lips nonetheless hold a tenderness lost to the eyes of any outside observer.

They pull apart a few minutes later, with some reluctance. Sasuke registers the sensation of Naruto's heartbeat once more—this time pressed against his chest—and decides he prefers it this way. Its new, frenzied tempo seems to melt down through blood and flesh and cloth, seeping into his own chest cavity and filling up every empty space.

Naruto stands, clicks off the light, and bathes the bedroom in a darkness interrupted only by the faint glow from the beyond the window pane and from the ceiling. He grabs a few thick blankets from one of the boxes, and though the bare mattress sits inches from them, they lay on the floor together, gazing up at the stars.

"Our own private galaxy," Naruto whispers, eyes dancing and bright in the darkness, his expelled words tickling the skin behind Sasuke's ear.

In the faint glow of the stars, Sasuke's soft smile is just barely visible.

Here, away from eyes that judge and families who do not understand, they will make a home for themselves. Here—high above the city in a tiny, star-flecked apartment surrounded by an expanse of starless sky—they will begin a life, their life, anew.

They will make it somehow. They always do. Of that, if nothing else, Sasuke knows he can be certain.

And when he finally falls asleep some time later, with Naruto's fingers curling into his, Sasuke dreams of endless fields of stars.

Stand up boy

I shine so bright when you're around

A/N: Just wait until summer--then I will finally be able to write fics with more frequency, and will hopefully be able to write the chapter fic I am planning. Until then, please bear with me! Thank you all for the support you have shown me, especially to all those who reviewed The Gift of Christmas Present!

Please review!