Sorry guys, things happen. Thanks jacadenilla :)

.sunday morning


If only for this moment, there was complete untroubled silence in the small square room. The only sound that one could hear was the soft and even breathing of two tired boys. A slight amount of sunlight peeked into the room through the heavy blinds, leaving the rest of the room lit with undisturbed shadows.

A small shift on the bed broke the silence seconds later. Blonde tresses peeked out messily from the dark blue blankets, a strange sigh escaping the boy's chapped lips. His cheeks were slightly flushed from the warmth underneath the covers, his nose wrinkled as fresh air hit his previously warm cheeks.

There was no movement from the boy next to him besides the slight rise and fall of his chest. The boy looked uncomfortable in his sleep, sitting in a plastic chair with his arms crossed against his chest. His head was bowed down, his red messy hair covering his eyes.

Blue eyes began to open, his vision slowly focusing with every blink. Naruto winced slightly as he turned on his side, his whole body aching in protest. Owww…those painkillers don't last much, do they? He thought, remembering how pain-free and serene the first few hours of his sleep had been.

Naruto stared ahead of him, feeling a twinge of guilt as he noticed Gaara's awkward sleeping position.

"Uggh…" He groaned, squeezing his eyes shut for a second, the slight pressure at the back of his head returning. He frowned, taking his hands up to his head before rubbing at his temples. It's just as bad as it was yesterday, I really, really, really hope this goes away with time.

He sighed with relief as he felt the pressure slowly egging away. It feels like I barely had any sleep…He thought, continuing to rub at his temples. What time is it anyways? Pushing the sheets off his legs, he began to feel how sore his muscles really were. He sat up slowly, his body strangely refusing to go at its regular pace.

Grabbing the edge of the mattress to balance himself, he turned to his side, swinging his legs over the bed. He looked down at the faded blue carpeted floor, his cell phone staring back at him. It's probably out of battery by now, not like it had that many minutes left anyways. He sighed, picking up the phone regardless.

Unsurprisingly, an unlit screen greeted him as he flipped it open. Aiiish, stupid phone…stupid dead battery…stupid electricity! He tossed the phone to the side in frustration, sending it sliding across the room before it lamely hit the wall.

Oh! Gaara has a watch, duh. He mentally slapped himself.

Naruto stretched out his legs, allowing the blood flow to circulate before he stood up shakily. Dang, this is what an old man feels like? SUCKS. He shook his head, walking the short distance across the room towards the redhead. Naruto tilted his head, doing a double-take as he saw the expression on the boy's face. Wow, he looks so calm. Naruto thought as he began to see Gaara more clearly. I can't believe he went through all that trouble for me last night, er, earlier today. He sighed, blowing the hair out of his eyes. This is so confusing, what time is it?!

He bent down, taking hold of Gaara's cool wrist, twisting it to get a better view of the watch.

Wow, it's almost going to be noon. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere…wait, do I? He thought, biting his lip, starring at the small silver hand turning towards the next minute.

"Can I help you?" A voice came from above him.

Naruto jumped at the voice, letting go of Gaara's as if it had suddenly burnt him. He caught himself, his balance betraying him a bit before he looked up, sleep filled green eyes starring back at him in confusion.

"Oh, um." Naruto began, curling his hands back towards his body. "I was just looking at the time. I'm really sorry! I didn't mean to wake you up."

"It's fine. I'm surprised you're up though, I almost thought you were going to sleep through the whole day." Gaara said as he slowly lifted his hands above him to stretch, a hint of a smile at the corner of his lips.

"No way!" Naruto said, pretending to look outraged. "Actually, that sounds like a good idea…let's just go back to sleep." Naruto said, walking back towards his bed stiffly.

"Hm, not in this chair. Besides, you should eat something first." Gaara stood up, fixing his shirt down.

Eat something? Oh man! I don't think I have anything…at least not anything that's can be considered breakfast. Wait, there might be something behind those cereal boxes…

"I'll make breakfast, I think I can make something edible from what I have." The blonde said, slowly edging himself towards the hallway. "You can use the shower meanwhile if you want, the water's really cold though." He smiled, signaling towards the bathroom.

"I'll help."

"Really? Sure, if you really want to. I'd go with the shower though." He said, scratching the back of his head.

Naruto turned towards the hallway as Gaara nodded. He winced, stepping on his right foot a little too strongly.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, just a cramp. Mind opening up the blinds for me?" Naruto asked as he headed straight for the pantry. Let's see, let's see. Naruto thought as light suddenly bled into the room, opening up the main cabinet and looking for something edible.

Okay, there's bread, and there's tomato sauce, baking powder, kool-aid… "How does a peanut butter, tomato sauce, and blue cake sprinkles sandwich sound?"

"Delicious." Gaara replied, leaning against the counter.

"Oh, you know what? There's some eggs I just got the other day in the fridge. Can you get them for me?" Naruto asked, getting out a bowl as a thought occurred to him.

Gaara nodded, taking out the carton of eggs from the fridge, handing it over to the blonde, who had mixed peanut butter and what looked like bacon bits in the bowl.

"What?" Naruto asked as he noticed the odd look from Gaara. "Oh! Yeah, it looks weird, but trust me, it's going to be sooo…" He trailed off, remembering how his friends had previously reacted at his food choices. "Well, it'll be edible." He smiled.

"I turned on the stove, you can toast the bread while I beat these eggs." Naruto said, taking out a fork from one of the cupboards.

Naruto cracked the eggs, beating them in with the previous ingredients until he was satisfied with the result. He poured half the mixture into the pan, enjoying the aroma that the mixture was created. Gaara had placed the bread on a plate and was watching Naruto from the table.

Naruto turned down the dial on the stove, mixing the eggs one last time before taking the pan off the stove.

"Oh, thanks for setting the table." Naruto said, placing the pan in between them. Gaara nodded, watching Naruto place half of the omelet in front of him before taking his half.

Naruto watched Gaara as he took the first bite, watching for any signs of choking.

"So what do you think?" He asked nervously after chewing.

"It's above edible."

Naruto grinned, continuing to eat his omelet. The silence around them was calm, not as awkward as Naruto had imagined minutes before.

Naruto began to nibble on a piece of toast as his mind slowly began to wander. I think now's a good time to say something. But what exactly do I say? 'Heeey…so your crazy half brother…' No, nothing good can come from that. This is all so complicated, making my head hurt… Well he's kind of acting like it didn't happen, so maybe I should do that too? But…after last night, I think I owe him an explanation. Yeah! I owe him this at least. Okay, here I go…

"…Gaara?" Naruto began, as he looked up into green eyes. He stopped, suddenly feeling unsure of himself. "I'll take your plate." He finished, quickly looking down.

So much for that plan…Naruto frowned, gathering his plate, disappointed in himself.

"I'll take them." Gaara stood up, taking his own plate. He reached over to take the blonde's plate, his hand accidentally taking hold of Naruto's hand instead of the plate. Naruto reacted immediately, he took his hand back as if it had been burnt, his breath caught in his throat.

Gaara looked down at Naruto, his figure looking childlike as he brought his hands together under his chest. The redhead frowned, setting his plate back down on the table before taking a seat.

"I don't mean to be blunt," Gaara began softly. "But what exactly happened last night?"

Naruto kept his head down, his suddenly mind unable to process his mind into words.

This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be…

"Naruto?" Gaara tilted his head to the side, trying to read the emotion of Naruto's face.

"Di-didn't I tell you last night?" Naruto spoke up, his voice shaky, staring at his lap as he intertwined his fingers together.

"Not…not exactly. Ever since last night, something is very different about you." Gaara said cautiously, trying to meet Naruto's eyes.

Naruto ran his fingers through his hair, chewing on his bottom lip as he tried to think of what to say. "Most of what I said was true. I just…I just never finished telling you everything." He began, looking up to meet Gaara's unreadable expression.

Naruto took a deep breath, trying to hold his hands steady as he felt them begin to tremble.

"The reason I went over last night, actually was to clean Kankuro's room. Though… it wasn't because I lost a bet." He sighed, pausing to hold his hands tighter together.

"About two months ago, Kankuro found out something about me…something that I've been trying to keep a secret ever since the day I entered Konoha High. If he told anyone, especially Sasuke, my school life would be over and I'd probably be run out by the ice prince himself."

He shook his head, looking anywhere but at Gaara's face.

"That day…when he found out, we made a deal. If Kankuro kept my secret safe, I would…I would be his personal slave." He whispered the last part lowly, he wasn't even sure if the redhead had heard him.

He swallowed, quickly taking a glance at Gaara's face. He looks upset, even I can tell, has…has he figured it out already? Oh man…he's going to hate me. What if he…no he wouldn't do that, he's not like that. I can trust Gaara, can't I?

"This is why you were doing his homework?" Gaara rested his elbows on the table, his expression hard.

Naruto nodded slowly. "Yeah, that was part of it…"

"Were there other things?"

"Just…just the homework, carrying his things around, getting in trouble for him so I could do his detentions, that only happened twice though. I got tests answers from teacher's desks and also asked me to lower my times during our last meet." Naruto bit his lip. "He didn't have to ask for that though, I sucked anyways." He spat out bitterly.

"You did look distracted."

"All I could think about was how much I hurt you guys that day. Especially Sakura, I can't believe I made her cry." Naruto frowned at the memory. "Wait, you were at the meet?"

"And Sakura. We hid behind the bleachers, she thought you were still mad at her."

"I'm such an idiot." He shook his head. "Those pills that fell out of my bag, they weren't even mine…just so you know. Kankuro, he's taking steroids, besides whatever else he's doing. Anyways, he called me last night, saying he'd pick me up so I could go over and clean his room. One of the reasons I accepted was because he said there'd be food, and the last thing I had eaten that day was half a bag of chips someone had left in the locker room." He muttered, his cheeks turning red with shame.

"After we got there, I started cleaning and he said he was going somewhere, he didn't mention where he was going. After I finished cleaning, I guess I fell asleep on the floor, then-"

"You guess?" Gaara interrupted.

"Yeah, well I don't really remember thinking about falling asleep, but that's where I woke up." Naruto looked off into the wall, trying to recollect his memory.

"You fainted." Gaara stated, a bit of concern reaching his expression.

Naruto slowly nodded in agreement, feeling embarrassed. He looked away from the wall and sighed, knowing the hardest part was coming.

Naruto cleared his throat before beginning again. "I'd say he got there about two hours later, then he woke me up. He saw how much I wanted to go home, so I guess in a moment of desperation, he offered me freedom." He put his elbows on the table, taking his hands and covering his eyes from seeing Gaara.

"Freedom?" Gaara asked, furrowing his brows.

Naruto nodded.

"With one condition though." He gulped.

"In exchange for my freedom, he wanted me to…." He stopped, the words caught in his throat. "He wanted me to…."

Gaara clenched his jaw, feeling a murderous intent growing within him. He could feel something inside him snap, as he silently watched Naruto's thin shoulders holding back a tremble.

Naruto took a small gasp for air, covering his mouth with his right hand. "I won't lie and say I didn't consider doing it, because at one point, it was all I could think of." He swallowed, holding his shoulders dejectedly.

"'If I do this, everything will go back to normal' is something that went through my head. But I just-I just couldn't let myself do that. Even at that moment…I just felt so humiliated." He looked up for a slight second, red rimmed eyes not going unnoticed by the other boy.

"Once he realized I wasn't giving in, he tried to force me. I quickly made up my mind to leave, but he caught me by surprise." Naruto rubbed his neck, the ghosts of Kankuro's hands still lingering on his skin.

Gaara watched him carefully, eyes widening as he saw small hints of handprints around the blonde's neck.

"He started saying all sorts of things, he wanted to make me feel like I had no other choice, I guess. I was starting to believe him at first, but then he said some really stupid things. I called him a sick fuck and he punched me." Naruto pointed at his jaw. He hadn't taken a look in the mirror, but judging by the tenderness he felt earlier by pressing it, he could tell a major bruise had formed.

"I almost had to convince myself not to do it. The things he was saying…they made sense. And if I did this small thing, everything would be over. But then again…I've known Kankuro for years, and I may not be close to him, but I know how he is. If I gave in, if you hadn't shown up-" He took a short pause, collecting himself. "I have a feeling things could've gone much farther than he originally intended."

Naruto's hands were shaking almost uncontrollably as we waited for an sort of response from the redhead. He waited a few seconds, recollecting his breath before looking up towards Gaara. He was looking away, his jaw clenched and his knuckles gripped tightly.

"I'm pretty sure you've figured out my secret by now." He stood up, feeling slightly awkward, taking their plates towards the sink. He sniffed, rubbing at his eyes with his sleeve. Forcing a smile on his lips, he tried to ease the air around them. "I can't believe Sakura thought I was doing drugs…that's like if Kiba-" He stopped as he heard a crash, his vision suddenly filled with a strong bright light, a hot white pain bleeding into his skull.

He could hear his labored breathing as his senses began to come to, feeling hands prying him up against the counter's wall.

Wha-what, how did I get on the floor?

"Naruto…" He heard a huff above him.

He tried nodding, feeling his head swaying as he was lifted from the ground.

Gaara…just-just knock me out, I can't stand this pain! He moaned against what felt like Gaara's shoulder, a strong feeling of déjà vu hitting him.

He felt a small bit of relief as his head hit the cold pillow, he brushed his hair away from his eyes, feeling a cold sheen of sweat covering his forehead.

"Open your eyes for a second." He heard Gaara say above him. Naruto winced as he opened his eyes, a bright light hitting his vision. His brows furrowed, staring up at Gaara as the light adjusted to his vision.

"Gaara, what-"

"I think you might have a concussion." Gaara frowned. "Did you get hit in the head?"

"Er, yeah, a little…" Naruto admitted, closing his eyes. A bright ball of light still following his eyes around.

Gaara's eyes narrowed as he stared ahead of him, thinking. "If you do have a concussion, you shouldn't have gotten out of bed or moved around that much, that's probably why your head hurts so much."

"Are you sure that's what it is?" Naruto asked, holding his hand up against his head, watching Gaara sit at the edge of the bed.

"Your pupils are uneven."

"Woah, really? I want to see! That must look so…totally not cool." He had paused as Gaara turned to look at him, raising a non-existent eyebrow incredulously.

"You need to rest as much as possible, or it could become somewhat serious." Gaara explained, a slight frown appearing on his lips.

"I guess so…" Naruto thought out loud, the thumping in his head decreasing at what seemed like the slowest rate possible. "Hopefully it'll be gone tomorrow, otherwise school is going to suck with this headache." Naruto sat up, reaching for the blankets around his feet to cover himself.

Gaara stood up, pulling the blankets over to the blonde. "Actually," He started. "I don't think going to school tomorrow is the best idea."

"Wha-why not? I mean, I have homework to turn in, and besides all that, I have practice!"

"Exactly. You haven't exactly looked in the mirror yet, but…it might be better if you waited until your bruises started healing a bit more, at least to a point where they're concealable. Teachers would ask questions…isn't fighting outside of school against the rules?"

"Oh, I didn't even think about that…" Naruto thought out loud as he massaged his temples.

"You should get to sleep." Gaara said, picking up his bag, searching through the contents.

Naruto nodded, settling himself into bed. "Are you leaving?" He asked quietly, watching Gaara fixing his bag.

Gaara shook his head. "I'm looking for something."

Naruto watched as the redhead found his book, and as he began reading after finding a comfortable spot on the floor. Before he knew it, the weight of his eyelids had become too heavy to stay open. He could feel his limbs sink against the mattress by the second. "Gaara?" He asked, the sound of pages turning had stopped a few minutes ago.

"I'll be here when you wake up." Naruto heard from below him. The blonde attempted to smile, already half asleep.

"I promise."

And for the first time in months, the blonde had escaped from his troubles…if only for a few hours.

.sunday evening

Gaara sighed as he turned to the last page of the heavy book. How disappointing. He frowned, setting the book down on the floor. He looked up to the bed, the blonde had been sleeping for almost three hours, the only time Gaara had ever heard complete silence coming from him.

He leaned against the wall, quickly scanning the room. Naruto didn't have a lot of furniture, which was probably why mostly everything was either scattered or stacked up on the floor. Out of all the possibilities, this scenario never crossed our minds. He thought, thinking back to all the crazy things Sakura would come up with. But…why would he hide this? Aren't we…aren't Sakura and Kiba his close friends? Surely he could trust them with something like this.

But…it was me he confided with first. Does that mean something? Gaara set his chin on his knees as he folded them up to his chest.

Does that mean he trusts me more than them? No, no…it's just because I was the one that was there…It was my own brother who caused him this pain though. The redhead bit his bottom lip, anger seeping into him, remembering Kankuro's smug face as he was gripping the back of Naruto's hair the night before. That fucking bastard…

He balled up his fists as they began to shake from the strong rage that hit him. He'll pay for this eventually, but for now, it's Naruto I should focus on.

Taking a deep breath, he grabbed his bag and headed towards the bathroom.

.monday morning

Sakura frowned, looking around at the empty seats around her. Where are those guys? I could have sworn I saw Kiba earlier in Tsunade's office… Well, it wasn't completely empty, two guys from the class below were sitting in the next bench over, giving her stares and suggestive looks. Ugh, pigs.

Should I wait for them? Her stomach growled at that very moment, making her freeze as she looked over at the boys in the next bench, making sure they hadn't heard. She brushed her cheek off, feeling the heat radiating from the embarrassment. She picked up her sandwich slowly, taking a small bite, not seeming to enjoy it with the silence around her. She sighed, the fight from Friday night still lingering in her head, leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.

She looked around the courtyard one last time, looking for any signs of her friends. She pushed her plate away, her appetite disappearing. Naruto never misses school, maybe he's just avoiding me, that inconsiderate jerk! She balled up her fists lamely, knowing her anger wasn't true. Should I call him? She sighed again, resting her chin on her open palm. She shook her head. No! Sakura, be strong, you're still mad, er…annoyed at him. Right?

But what if something happened? She thought to herself. He was horrible at the meet on Saturday, and he looked so crushed afterwards…

Okay, okay! I'll just call really, really quick! I just need to hear his voice and make sure he's okay. She nodded to herself, flipping open her cell phone and pressing speed dial number one.


Sakura took away the phone from her ear, looking at the screen to make sure she had pressed the green button.

"We're sorry, the number you have reached is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording…"

WHAT. No, no, I must have dialed the wrong number.

Sakura dialed the number once again, double checking every button before pressing 'ok'.

"We're sorry, the number you have reached is no longer in service. If you feel you have…"

She could feel her heart sink, leaving a heavy feeling against her chest, something was definitely wrong. She stood up suddenly, causing the boys to stare back at her strangely. She ignored the looks, taking her plate and throwing it away into the nearest trashcan.

The phone charms jingled against her sweater pocket as she hurried off into the school building, a plan quickly formulating in her head.

Naruto, Gaara learned, was a sleepwalker. Naruto had twice woken up spontaneously, sitting up in bed, looking around the room carefully with half lidded eyes before falling back onto his bed in a deep slumber. What had surprised Gaara the most was how many hours the blonde was capable of sleeping. It was almost 24 hours since yesterday's incident and Naruto had only gotten up once to use the bathroom.

His watch began beeping obnoxiously, drifting him from his thoughts, reminding him of that lunch time was over. He pressed the 'OFF' button, sighing in annoyance. Gaara had been sitting by the kitchen table, drinking cold tea as he calmly worked on a few chemistry problems in his notebook. He stopped his pencil mid-stroke when he heard footsteps approaching.

He looked up to find a sleepy blonde starring back at him with almost closed eyes. He was wearing his tennis shoes on the opposite feet, long shorts on top of his pajama bottoms and his sweater was only on through one arm. His skin was sallow from sleep and his messy hair made him look wild. Gaara stayed still, waiting for him to make the first move.

"I'm late for school." The blonde muttered, walking towards the door.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Gaara smirked against his hand in amusement as he watched the blonde tilt his head as if deep in thought.

Naruto patted his pockets slowly, searching for the unknown item. "The toaster?" Naruto guessed as his eyes landed on the counter.

"Not quite."

"Spoons." Naruto said, his face full of determination as he grabbed three spoons from the drawer and stuffed them into his pockets. Gaara stood up and followed him, seeing that Naruto was unlocking the apartment door.

"Naruto, wait."

"I'm late for school." Naruto repeated, his hand on the door knob.

"But they cancelled school today, remember?"

"Oh, yeah…I remember." Naruto dropped his hand from the knob, his head swaying forward. Gaara sighed, starring at the sleep-deprived boy, resting a careful hand on his shoulder as he guided him back towards his room.

"Now, let me get this straight." The secretary starred back at the young girl, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. "You think you dropped an earring in between one of the student files?"

"Yes!" Sakura exclaimed, trying her best to look distraught. "I was cleaning up the file room for Tsunade last week after school and when I went to practice, I realized it wasn't there anymore! I haven't seen it since." She sniffed, looking down at her shoes. "And I just HAVE to find it! It used to belong to my great-grandmother, if my mother ever finds out that I lost it, she will be so upset with me!" Sakura turned around as she yawned, her eyes instantly filled with fresh tears.

"Fine, fine." The older woman waved her arms as she caught sight of her fake tears. "There's no need to make such a fuss, I'll help you find it." She moved around some files, standing up to get out of her chair.

"Oh, oh, thank you so much! But really Shizune, that's not necessary," Sakura urged before she got out of her chair. "I mean, what kind of lesson would you be teaching me if you helped me? No, no, I think finding it myself is a punishment in itself!"

"Hm, yes, I suppose…" The woman glared, not fully convinced. "I'll give you five minutes, I have to lock up the office before I go to a meeting."

Sakura smiled as she thanked her, wiping the corner of her eyes as she ran off into the dark room. She flicked the lights on, watching them blink to life as she made her way through the room. She smirked, locating the cabinet labeled O-U at the end of the room.

She looked carefully out the door, making sure Shizune was distracted as she carefully pushed the knob in to the cabinet. Sliding it open carefully, Sakura began looking through the names. Not him, not him, not- Hey, it's Uchiha's file!…hmm, shall we change a grade or two? Ah, distractions…Umino…Uzaki…that's it? Did I skip it? No, no, it's in here somewhere... Sakura frowned, starting again from the end of the files.

"Name, name, name, aha Uzumaki Naruto!" She took out the fat vanilla folder, opening it as quickly as she could. A smile formed on her lips, a picture of a much younger Naruto smiling up at her. Flipping open her cell phone, she typed the address as quickly as she could, the time reminding her that almost five minutes had passed.

"Miss Haruno? Did you find it?" Shuffling could be heard from outside the room, the whir of a computer fan becoming silent.

Startled, Sakura fumbled with the pages as they slipped to the floor. "Ah, just looking in this spot one last time!" She called out.

Her hands began to sweat, the papers unwilling to go back into the folder. Oh, come on! She stuffed the folder back inside the cabinet, papers askew, then slid the cabinet close with a click.

Sakura took a deep breath, covering her mouth, taking a deep yawn. She messed her hair a bit, walking out to the secretary. "Oh, Shizune, I didn't find it...I'm so sorry for wasting your time."

"It's fine, it's fine." Shizune said hurriedly, picking up stray papers from the other side of her office. Sakura took a quick glance at the desk, a pad of golden passes starring back at her. Her fingers ran along the edge of the silver desk, carefully locating the passes, ripping one carefully before Shizune could hear.

"What are you still doing here!" Shizune looked up suddenly, surprised to see Sakura still in the room. "Come on, get to class, young lady!"

"Yes, of course! Thank you!" Sakura clutched the note to her side, walking out of the room as quickly as she could.

Damn it, now to flirt with the security guard…you better have a good excuse for this Naruto… She smacked her lips together, feeling blood rush through them, giving them a tinted rose color. Straightening her uniform and combing her fingers through her hair, she nodded to herself, stepping outside the building and towards the parking lot.

.monday afternoon

Naruto frowned at the cereal box staring back at him. He began peeling off the plastic from a rather wet carton of milk before setting it back down on the counter, turning around to face the redhead.

"Gaara, I'm going to pay you back."

"That's unnecessary." Gaara said immediately, placing empty plastic bags inside another.

"What's unnecessary is you buying my groceries."

Naruto scowled, he was pretty sure he was loud enough to be heard, yet Gaara remained silent. The blonde crossed his arms, watching him begin to put away many of the boxes from the table and into the cupboards. Naruto had woken up feeling almost completely better, and after a rather cold shower, he'd remembered that there was close to nothing in his pantry. After all, I do have a guest. Naruto had thought after informing the redhead of the trip. But apparently, Gaara thought otherwise, suggesting he should go for him. After arguing five minutes straight about his health condition and some pouting later, Gaara had finally caved, slipping his coat on and following the excited blonde out the door.

Despite the previous events, Naruto felt completely energized once they were outside the building. There was still a feeling of discomfort at the back of his head, a small detail Naruto decided wasn't worth telling the redhead. While they were shopping, Naruto realized how comfortable he felt with Gaara. It was a strange feeling, it wasn't what he felt when he was with his other friends.

"That'll be $65. 36, sir." The woman stated, popping her gum.

"Oh ok, hold on, I think I have enough change instead of a hund-"


"Oh Gaara, you dropped this."

"Here's your receipt sir."

Naruto had been confused at first, to say the least. Though as soon as he saw Gaara slip the small plastic card into his back pocket, he understood. Naruto frowned, he didn't want Gaara to start see him as charity, another small reason why he had kept his financial status to himself.

"Go back to sleep." A voice interrupted his thoughts.

Naruto scoffed, once again. "But it's one in the afternoon! Besides, I already slept long enough to cover me for the whooole week."

"Yeah, except that not how it's supposed to work." Gaara finished putting the last of the groceries into the cupboard.

"Gaara, I had enough to pay for all this, I told you all those things because I trust you, not because I want you to start pitying me." Naruto said meekly.

Gaara starred at the blonde, his green eyes vibrantly starting back at him, his expression unreadable. He turned away, trying to form the right words.

"Naruto…we're friends, right?" He said slowly, almost unsure of himself.

Naruto furrowed his brows, starring back quizzically at him. "Yeah…of course. Wh-"

"Isn't this what friends do? Help each other?" Gaara cut him off.

"Yeah, but-"

Knock, knock, knock.

A small timid knock interrupted him, Naruto turned towards the door, almost unsure if it was coming from his. Oh crap, yesterday was rent day, wasn't it?

"I think it's my landlord." Naruto whispered loud enough for the other boy to hear. "I forgot to get those stupid money orders for the rent!"

Knock, knock, knock

The knocks sounded more forceful this time. "He goes away after the second time, he'll realize that I'm supposed to be at school."


Naruto frowned, normally Gato would've left by now, if it wasn't him, then… Kankuro?! Tiptoeing across the room, he pressed his hands carefully against the wooden frame, squinting his left eye before hovering the other over the peephole.

UGH! Can't see anything! This thing is so dirty. He took his index finger, rubbing at the peephole.

"Naruto?" A small voice came from the other side.

Naruto's breath caught in his throat, the familiar voice connecting to the blurry pink blob he was seeing.


Well, it's not really a cliffhanger, right? I do have a reason why I took so long for this, but let's hear something else. I really, really, tried my hardest with this chapter, it's actually my longest, about 6000+ words, but I cut it off after the confrontation of next chapter because it didn't fit right with this chapter.

I'll be out of town for the weekend, if you guys could tell me what you thought of this chapter, what you hated, what you liked, what was out of character, what confused you, suggestions…anything! I just really want to hear your opinions, after all, I mainly write this for you guys ( 3!!!) other than to keep myself busy.

Much love and looking forward to (any) reviews :)