Disclaimer: I still don't own Naruto -cries- Fine, announce it to the world, why don't you?
Chapter 3: New Beginnings
Five minutes later, Sasuke pulled up in front of a set of large white gates with huge metal fencing covered in ivy and hedges continuing on both sides that Naruto could only guess encircled the property. Sasuke rolled down the window and pressed some keys on the keypad. The gates swung open silently and they drove through. Naruto watched in fascination as the gates closed behind them. They pulled up the driveway and Sasuke watched Naruto's face when he finally saw the house with great amusement.
"Well, that's the house," Sasuke said, though it was obvious.
"House my ass! This place is a fucking mansion!" Naruto exclaimed as Sasuke parked the car and got out.
"It's not that big. Only five bedrooms." He shrugged, grabbing his backpack and indicating for Naruto to do the same so he could lock the car.
"Only!? You remember what my room looked like? Trust me, this place is a fucking mansion. ...And I still can't believe you drive a Corvette." Naruto looked back at the car.
"Heh, you really have lived a deprived life. Haven't you?"
Naruto only stuck his tongue out in response, following Sasuke up the stairs to the entrance of the house and marveling at the architecture.
Sasuke unlocked the door and led Naruto inside. "Guys, we're home. Come meet your new vocalist!"
Naruto was greeted by arched ceilings, a huge chandelier, and marble floors. It was the most beautiful building he had ever seen, not that that was saying much because he'd prettymuch lived in the slums for his entire life.
Moments later, a long-haired brunette boy and a spiky red-headded boy walked in. Naruto recognized them from the magazine cover. He knew he had also seen the red-head, Gaara was what Sasuke had told him his name was, somewhere else before, but he couldn't place him.
Gaara froze when he saw Naruto. "Hey, kid, aren't you that dancer from that club downtown?"
"Oh, please Gaara," Neji said, dismissing the other. "I don't think Sasuke would hire some skanky stri-" He was cut off by Sasuke interrupting him.
"Actually, yes, he is, Gaara. ...I suppose now I know where you disappear to when you're not sleeping."
Gaara pouted. "It's not my fault I have insomnia! ...Besides, the bartender, Kiba, is really nice. He gives me free drinks sometimes."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at him. "Just how much time do you spend at that place?"
"Heh heh heh...um." Gaara coughed nervously.
"Sasuke, can I talk to you for a moment, in private?" Neji asked, pulling him off to the side of the room.
Neji was about to speak, but Sasuke cut him off again. "Look, Neji, before you kill me, let me say something. You know how you're always ranting about destiny and fate determining everything? It was destiny that I go to that place tonight and find and rescue Naruto. Before you judge him, at least hear him sing and give him a chance."
"Sasuke, we can't just hire a stripper as our vocalist."
"First off, I believe the term is 'exotic dancer'. Second, no one ever has to know. Naruto's only nineteen, just like you and me. He's not old enough to be working in that place in the first place. The owner was basically blackmailing him into it."
Neji paused, unsure how to respond to this new bit of information. "Why are you so set on this, Sasuke? I haven't ever seen you this determined about something before."
Sasuke grinned, a sight which put Neji slightly off guard because Sasuke normally made at least some effort to hide his emotions, and pulled the notebook out of his backpack. He flipped to the new lyrics and handed them to Neji. "He's my muse, Neji. He gave my music back its voice. I need him. We need him."
Neji sighed and looked over the lyrics, his eyes widening as he read. "Sasuke, this is great! This could totally work! You haven't written anything new for us for how long?" Neji walked over to Naruto and swung an arm around his shoulders making Naruto jump. "Welcome to the band, kid."
"My name's Naruto, not 'kid'," Naruto muttered.
Neji released Naruto and stepped back, assessing him from head to toe. "What's with these clothes? They're so...ratty."
"I was going to ask you to help him with that, Neji. His entire wardrobe's worse than that. I think this might actually be the best thing he has."
Neji sighed heavily. "I have definitely got my work cut out for me then, ne? Naruto, tomorrow morning I'm taking you shopping."
"There's nothing wrong with my wardrobe!" Naruto whined.
"Other than the fact it looks like you lost a fight with a lawnmower?" Neji replied.
Naruto glared at him. "Fine. I give. You can take me shopping." He said the word as if it were some disgusting concept. "But be warned, the last time I went shopping was...three years ago."
"Three years!? No wonder your clothes look like shit!"
Finally Gaara spoke again. "Neji, leave the poor kid alone. He looks tired as anything...not to mention severely malnourished. Seriously, when was the last time you had a proper meal?"
Naruto blinked. "I...erm...I don't remember. Orochimaru always said the only thing eating was good for was making people fat. He had me on this vitamin combination...so I think the last time I ate was...last week? Yeah, that sounds about right." He smiled sheepishly.
"So you haven't eaten for a week!?"
"Um, basically, yeah. I mean...unless margaritas count as food?"
Gaara promptly walked over to the side of the room and started repeatedly bashing his head against the wall. After a while, he stopped, took a deep breath, and walked back to the others. "Alright, Naruto, come with me. We're feeding you. Now." He grabbed Naruto's arm and dragged him off into the kitchen.
"Eep, Sasuke, save me! I'm being kidnapped!" Naruto exclaimed, startled.
"You're not being kidnapped. You're being fed. Now if I were you, I'd stop complaining. He's not a half-bad cook," Sasuke replied. He could have sworn he saw Gaara...chuckling before he disappeared into the kitchen. 'Gaara...chuckling? That's...creepily not normal. Maybe Naruto's presence will be good for all of us.'
"So, is he a good singer?" Neji asked once Gaara and Naruto were gone.
"Way better than Sai ever could have been."
Neji looked somewhat impressed. "Really now? That's quite the statement there, Sasuke."
"Just trust me. When you hear him, you'll know what I mean."
Neji seemed to deem that answer sufficient because he didn't press the point. "So have you prettymuch figured out the entire next album or just these two songs?"
"I think we should go for a theme album. All songs like this."
He nodded. "It could work. Our manager's going to swing by first thing in the morning. He's going to have a fit when he finds out we've already found our new vocalist. Um, does Naruto know any of our songs?"
"One or two that he's heard on the radio. But what can you expect? He was almost never let out of that club. It's not like he could go out and buy the CD."
"Fine, whatever. We'll deal with it in the morning."
"Speaking of morning, what time is it?"
"I dunno, it's like...one? Maybe a little later than that?"
Sasuke was about to reply when a loud 'ploof' followed by the sound of someone laughing erupted from the kitchen. Sasuke and Neji exchanged worried looks before walking into the kitchen.
Gaara was standing, a stunned expression on his face, in the middle of the kitchen with flour covering him from head to toe. Naruto was standing to the side, also covered in flour, laughing his head off. A grin crept onto Gaara's face and he soon started laughing hysterically as well.
'Wow, is Gaara actually laughing?' Sasuke thought, biting back a smirk at the scene in front of him.
"The flour exploded!" Naruto exclaimed.
"It did not! You knocked it onto the floor, then it exploded!" Gaara replied.
The two of them were still laughing.
"You guys look like idiots," Neji announced dryly. He wasn't able to contain his amusement at the scene, however, and started chuckling slightly. "And I thought Gaara was pale before."
Gaara glared at him for a moment before his face turned to a shocked and surprised expression. A large clump of flour had just hit him in the side of the head...from the direction of Naruto.
"Flour fight!" Naruto laughed. He was soon hit in the face by a clump of flour from Gaara.
"Beware the flour of doom!"
Naruto aimed another flourball at Gaara, but Gaara managed to duck in time and the ball flew past him and hit Sasuke square in the face. Naruto and Gaara froze, neither of them sure how Sasuke would react. They soon got their answer when an indignant cry came from Neji. Sasuke had thrown flour at him.
"That's it, Uchiha, you're going down!" Neji cried, launching a large clump of flour back at him.
Naruto and Gaara were quick to get back in on the game, launching clumps of flour at anyone who moved. The so called 'flour fight' continued for the next half hour and by the end they were all completely coated in flour.
"Damn, now we're going to have to clean all this stuff up," Gaara complained.
"Um, yeah, that might be a good idea," Sasuke agreed.
Naruto's stomach growled loudly. "Wah, Gaara, you were supposed to make me food! Instead you were playing around with the stupid flour!"
Gaara glared at him. "Oh, and you weren't? You were the one who knocked it on the floor in the first place."
"Details, details. Anyway, what's quick to make?" Naruto asked, somehow managing to look like an unknowing 5-year old.
Gaara thought for a moment before sighing. "The only thing I can think of is ramen. We'll have to save 'Operation malnourished Naruto' for the morning."
Naruto blinked. "Operation what?"
"Nevermind," Gaara replied, dismissing him with a wave of the hand while rummaging around to find what he needed. "Hey, guys, can you start cleaning? I'd help, but I'm the only one here I trust to not burn down the kitchen...again."
"How was I supposed to know you had to turn the flame off?" Neji defended guiltily, going to fetch a mop to clean up the flour.
Gaara shot him a glare. "Idiot." He turned back to the stove in front of him and in a few seconds the pot of instant ramen was cooking. "Naruto, no slacking off. You're helping clean this shit up." He ordered, handing the blonde a mop before grabbing several wet washcloths so he could make some attempt at cleaning the counters.
"Hey, who are you to order me around?"
Gaara gave him a look that clearly stated 'you did not just ask me that'. "Just shut up and clean."
"And what happened to your eyebrows?" Naruto asked, starting to mop the floor.
Gaara sent a quick glance at Naruto before glaring at Neji. "When he burnt down the kitchen. They just... never grew back."
"Whoah, freaky. So you've like... permantently got no eyebrows? That's so fucking cool!"
Gaara raised one nonexistent eyebrow. "Cool? You've got a weird definition for that word then, Naruto."
Naruto shrugged. "I've been told everything about me is weird."
Sasuke laughed slightly. "Yeah, you'll fit right in here, Naruto."
Naruto pouted. "What's that supposed to mean? And you were supposed to say 'you're not weird', teme!"
"Sorry, dobe, then I'd be lying. Besides, people who aren't weird are boring."
The blonde's cheek's puffed out indignantly, but he said nothing more, mopping the floor furiously.
After about half an hour of cleaning, the kitchen was finally returned back to its original state. Gaara handed Naruto a bowl filled with noodles and some sort of broth. "Um... what is this?" Naruto asked, having not eaten much other than bread, alcohol, and cheese for a while.
"It's ramen. Try it, I think you'll like it," Gaara explained.
Naruto stared at it for a moment before taking the chopsticks and tasting a mouthful of the noodles. His eyes widened and he chewed quickly. "This stuff is awesome! I love it!" he exclaimed before eating more of the substance.
Once Naruto was finished, they all went upstairs for some much needed sleep. Sasuke showed Naruto his room and once Sasuke left, Naruto spent five minutes gaping at the sheer size of the room. It was bigger than anything he'd ever had to call his own! Eventually, he passed out on the bed from exhaustion, not even bothering to change.