Thing(s) you need to know: In Japan 'Nana', which is the number 7, is also a popular girl's name.


"I'm looking for true love."

Naruto stared at his best friend as if he had grown a second head. Uchiha Sasuke looked back at him impassively as if he had just commented on the weather.

"Excuse me?" Perhaps he had not heard correctly. Sasuke would no more look for true love, than he would do a strip tease at Sakura's bachelorette party.

"I am looking for true love." Sasuke enunciated precisely and clearly, he had been expecting this reaction.

"And what has brought this on, if you don't mind me asking?"

"This." Sasuke whipped out a neatly folded piece of paper or of his pocket and sailed it to Naruto.

"AH! This is…"

It was Sasuke's affirmation list from the academy. They couldn't have been more than twelve years old at the time when Kakashi-sensei made them do it. They were told to think long, hard and seriously about the goals and dreams they wanted to accomplish by the time they were twenty-six (Kakashi's age at the time). Honestly, Kakashi had only wanted time to read some perverted novel, and had made up some bogus assignment. Of course, Sasuke being Sasuke, the boy had taken it seriously.

Looking at Sasuke's sheet, everything was ticked off neatly except the one about true love. Naruto hadn't been able to believe it then, when Sasuke had shown him his list, and he still had difficulty believing it now. Sasuke never seemed to type to think about such things, let alone desire them.

"As you can see, all the academic, financial and professional things have been achieved. Only that remains. I need to get started as soon as possible."

"I can't believe you still have this."

"What, did you complete everything on your list?"

"Are you kidding? I wrote that I wanted to be the greatest ninja in Konoha, which was one of the more achievable goals if I recall correctly. I lost that list ages ago, and I can't believe you are taking this so seriously."

Sasuke sighed.

"Look, I just feel as if I need something else in my life. Despite everything else, I am not…" Sasuke groped for the word. "…Fulfilled. Then I found this list and it gave me the idea that, maybe, that was what I was missing. Thinking analytically, the romantic and social components of my life do seem a bit lacking. So I decided to take a chance on it. Besides, I am twenty-five and still a virgin."

"There's nothing wrong with being a twenty-five year old virgin. Granted, you may be one of the last of a dying breed, but it's completely honorable and attractive. The problem starts when you hit forty. Then you become either a raunchy, romantic comedy or a tragedy, depending on the supporting actors."

"Are you going to help or not?"

Naruto nodded and went hunting for a clean sheet of paper and a marker. He scribbled quickly and handed it over.

"Now go to the corner of the street, hold that up and smile."

Written across the paper in bold kanji was 'IN NEED OF GIRLFRIEND, APPLY WITHIN'.

"What the hell is this?"

"Sasuke, since I've known you, all you've had to do is exist and girls come running. I don't think you need anymore help than that."

"Look, if you aren't going to help, fine." Sasuke stood up to leave.

"Wait; are you really serious about this?"

Sasuke crossed his arms and nodded, still obviously peeved at Naruto's flippancy.

"Your twenty-sixth birthday is in three weeks. It takes some people a lifetime to find love. You think you can pull it off in three weeks?"

"That's where you come in. You are going to tell me how to go about this whole thing."

"Eh, what makes me the expert?"

"Well, despite your obvious mental deficiencies, you appear to have the unfailing ability to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships…"

'Yeah, way to win a guy over.'

Sasuke continued heedlessly however. "It takes you forever to break up with your girlfriends."

"That's a weird way to put it. You make it sound like I am always overstaying my welcome in these relationships."

"I guess it just seems like forever, because I have never liked any of your girlfriends, and I am always forced to hang out with them."

Naruto's eyebrow twitched. Sasuke was never forced to do any such thing. He was the one always showing up on Naruto's dates, completely uninvited. Actually, his behaviour had precipitated more than one of the above mentioned breakups. However, far be it from him to point out Sasuke's obvious re-write of history.

"Fine Sasuke, fine. As your best friend, it is up to me to go along with your schemes, no matter how insane. So I'm game, let's get you a girlfriend. I'll find your true love."

"Promise then."

Naruto smiled easily and struck Lee's nice guy pose. "It's the promise of a lifetime."


3 weeks until Sasuke's birthday

Naruto figured that the first thing they had to do was determine Sasuke's type. They sat on a bench in the mall watching girl after girl go by. Well actually, Naruto was paying more attention to ensuring none of his vanilla ice cream cone was wasted, and Sasuke was in turn, endlessly fascinated by that.

"So, see anything you like?" Naruto asked as he salvaged a drop of ice cream before it could fall off the cone.

"Ah, huh, what?"

"Are you doing what I told you to do? You are supposed to be looking out for physical and attitude traits that you might be attracted to."

"I am" Sasuke bristled defensively, "and I have."

"Oh you have? Mazel tov. Why haven't you spoken to anyone then?"

"Most of them seem more interested in you." Sasuke pointed out rather mildly.

"That's because unlike some people, I am fairly successful in my attempt to appear human, and am not sitting here as if I am etched out of marble. Would it kill you to look more approachable?"

Sasuke appeared to think hard about the question but remained silent until his friend rolled his eyes.

"You know what, don't answer that. It probably would kill you, and it'd break your mother's heart twice to hear your cause of death. What is your type?"

"Huh?"

"Bastard, if you are going to be this slow all day, you shall forever lose the privilege to call me 'dobe' without getting hurt. Your type? The characteristics you like?"

"Oh, I have decided on tall."

"Hmm, interesting. Go on, I'm taking notes."

"Ah, yeah- tanned, I guess. Most of the girls here seem too pale for me."

'Hypocritical pot calling the kettle black, if you ask me'. "Good, this is good. Anything else?"

"Athletic, definitely athletic."

"So we are looking for a tall, tanned, athletic girl. Quiet and reserved, or loud and outgoing?"

"The latter." Sasuke shrugged as Naruto looked at him in obvious surprise. "To balance me out, you know."

"Heh, you know, I always imagined you with small, serious, quiet ones you know. I guess this whole thing is going to keep surprising me until we see it through. In any event, we have a good idea what to look for. It should be smooth sailing from here."

--

Only it wasn't smooth sailing. The week ran out and Sasuke had made no progress. Two days into the second week of the project and none of the few dates Naruto managed to set up lasted more than a couple hours. He couldn't help but feel that Sasuke was self-sabotaging. Clearly, if this was to be completed on time, they would have to bring in the big guns.

"Sasuke, you remember when we were about eight years old, and I told you girls had cooties and you shouldn't play with them?"

"Vaguely," was the dry response.

"Well this may come as a shock to you, but I was lying. I was just saying that so you wouldn't abandon me for someone prettier. Actually, girls are quite cootie free, and fun to play with!"

Sasuke remained quite unconvinced, however, which was why he found himself on the couch in Sakura's living room, while she and Ino sat peering at him as if he was under a microscope. He had been grilled, prodded and subjected to every basic psychological test ever developed, while Naruto had been merrily shoved in the kitchen.

The girls soon appeared to have exhausted all their material, after which they consulted briefly in hushed whispers. At length, Naruto was called back into the room. He sat carefully in one of the easy chairs, trying not to spill his instant ramen and ignoring the death glare coming from a much hassled Uchiha.

"After much careful psychological analysis, we have arrived at what we believe is a fitting diagnosis."

Naruto was careful not to roll his eyes at Sakura's crisply delivered statement. The two girls had taken and passed one, one solitary introductory psychology course in college. One course, and suddenly they were Freuds in miniskirts.

"We have concluded that Sasuke-kun suffers from a fear of intimacy!" Ino declared as if she was prophesying judgment day.

"What?! Who, Sasuke? Noooooo, that's crazy talk!"

"Naruto, your sarcasm is counterproductive and unappreciated," Sakura huffed indignantly. Okay, so it hadn't been an earth shattering diagnosis, but they had worked hard on it.

"Yeah, we worked hard and determined that Sasuke-kun has a lot of issues!"

"Of course he has a lot of issues! He's Sasuke. If you fixed everything that's wrong with him, you'd have to change his name to 'the individual formerly known as Sasuke'. All I wanted to know is how to help him with his project."

Sasuke rubbed his temples and imagined writing the three idiots' names in a death note, in bright red ink.

Sakura and Ino exchanged significant looks.

"Well, in regards to that, we think Sasuke-kun should practice intimacy in controlled situations. You know, with a close friend."

"Friends!" Ino amended emphatically, while shooting Sakura a quelling look. "The variety would help him to adjust to other social situations."

"Yes, yes fine. So Sasuke-kun could practice simple intimate things, like holding hands, or hugging, or kissing in a dark movie theater. Small things like that! What do you say, Sasuke-kun?"

Sasuke looked frightened and Naruto smelt a set-up. He stood up and dragged the 'patient' to his feet.

"Honestly, I am ashamed and appalled at you girls. You are both in stable and happy relationships. I thought you had gotten over your fangirl phase. Tsk, tsk!" Naruto shook his head sadly as he guided a grateful Sasuke out the door.

"But we are trying to help! And we are over it!" There was a muffled "yeah, sure' as Naruto firmly closed the door behind him.

--

8 days until Sasuke's birthday

"So Sakura and Ino have him on intimacy therapy, Kiba has him doing something called 'scent association' (I don't even know what that entails, something to do with smelling girls and finding the one you like. I keep expecting to get the phone call asking me to bail them out of jail), Lee has in on some mix of exercise and positive thinking, and I just keep trying to set him up on dates. All of which he keeps shooting down, by the way." Naruto complained bitterly as Jiraiya sipped his sake.

"That's a hell of a treatment plan you all have going there." The old man mused.

""Yeah, but he isn't responding to any of it. He's getting more and more pissed as the days wear on, too."

"I'll tell you a story. It happened while I was traveling around Japan. I was staying at this temple in one of those very traditional villages that you hardly see anymore. One night, some of the villagers brought a sick woman to get help. She was in obviously in a lot of pain, clutching her stomach and crying. There seemed to be no way to calm her down. Well, after some of the temple priests examined her, they decided that she was being plagued by evil spirits, so they went about trying to cleanse her. Whole lot of praying and incantations and the like, nothing seemed to work. In fact, she seemed to get progressively worse. After a while, one priest stopped the whole thing, begged for a few minutes with the woman, and took her into a back room."

"I don't like where this is going, ero-sennin. Is this another weird sex story?"

"Shut up and let me finish! Damned brat. Anyway, while they were in the back room, the priest brewed a strong, hot cup of ginger and herb tea, which he made her drink, without letting it cool even a little bit."

"Well, what happened?"

"What happened was- she belched."

"What?"

"Yeah, a huge one. Scared me when I heard it, boy. The more tea she drank, the more she burped, and the better she felt."

"Gas? You're saying she had gas?"

"A really bad case of gas, and the whole time those priests were chanting away, the woman just needed some hot tea."

"Ah…" Naruto thought for a moment. "So what you're saying is, we are overcomplicating this thing with Sasuke, and the solution is really quiet simple."

"Ohoho, we're sharp today" Jiraiya playfully ruffled the blond hair. "You never used to catch on this fast when you were a kid."

Naruto only stuck out his tongue in response. "So if the solution is so simple, what is it?"

"You're a pretty smart kid, Naruto, even though you take great pains to hide it. You'll figure it out."

Six days until D-day, and Naruto's inner genius had yet to show himself. He was giving Sasuke a pre-club lecture on behaviour and expectations. The latest idea was to introduce Sasuke to the nightlife in Konoha, something he mainly understood only in theory. He wasn't looking very receptive to this idea either. Instead, he was looking at Naruto wishing he was just a couple inches taller, so he could make the idiot fully appreciate the power of the Uchiha Downward Glare™. As it was, Naruto was making full use of his half-inch advantage, to make himself appear more authoritative.

"Now repeat after me: I will try to have fun." Only a mutinous glare met his request. "Do it or I give Sakura and Ino copies of your house key."

"I will try to have fun."

"I will be open to human interaction, and dance if I am asked to dance."

"I will be open to human interaction, and dance if I am asked to dance."

"My baby loves the hanky-panky."

"My baby loves the- what?!"

"Just checking that you were paying attention. Let's go."

Soon they were in the packed nightclub, trying to maneuver their way to the bar. Shikamaru greeted them as he wiped down the counter.

"Oi Naruto, you managed to get Sasuke out at night? I will never doubt your powers again."

"Make sure that you don't. Try and help me get him smashed tonight. Maybe it will dislodge the stick."

Shikamaru grinned as he watched Sasuke flop down onto the bar stool. "What are you guys having?"

"One Black Russian and make it virgin after that, I'm driving. You, order something."

Sasuke just said the first alcoholic beverage that came to mind. "A Cosmopolitan?"

Shikamaru blithely disregarded the request and turned to Naruto.

"He'll have a rum and coke."

Shikamaru nodded and went off to do his duty. Sasuke was quite put-out by the pooh-poohing of his drink choices.

"And just what is wrong with a Cosmopolitan?"

"We are here to meet girls, not join their book clubs. Now drink up."

It was a blatant misnomer that Shikamaru and Naruto referred to the beverage as rum and coke, since the bartender had apparently only used just enough coke to change the colour. The thing should be given an octane rating, and then poured into a car tank.

"I thought you bartenders were supposed to water down drinks." Sasuke said as his eyes watered.

"It's troublesome, but sometimes we have to make an exception or two."

--

Six rums with coke essences later, give or take a few, Sasuke was concentrating hard on the duel tasks of staying on his barstool and frowning into his self-replenishing drinks, since he could never see when Shikamaru did a refill. He glanced out moodily on to the dance floor, where Naruto was currently engaged in obscene sexual acts with some pre-teen wearing nothing but her father's stylish handkerchief. Apparently, it was supposed to be dancing. Sasuke muttered something about 'stupid blond morons' before knocking back the contents of his glass. Shikamaru looked quite amused.

"You want to switch to the Cosmopolitans now?"

Sasuke was about to tell Shikamaru exactly where he could take his drinks offers and put them, when a familiar weight settled on his back.

"How many of those has he had?" Naruto asked as Shikamaru slid the glass away.

"A lot. I'm thinking its detox time."

"When I said 'get smashed', I didn't think you would take it so literally. You haven't been on the dance floor once. I brought you here to meet girls, not acquire cirrhosis of the liver. Anyway, did you see that girl I was dancing with?"

"No."

"Liar, I saw you looking. That, my friend, was entirely for your benefit. Her friend digs you."

"Yes, that much was obvious."

Naruto ignored the dripping sarcasm. "She, the friend, has been trying to work up the courage to come talk to you."

"They do seem rather shy."

"Will you shut up? That girl approached me, because one, I am the wingman, and you always go to the wingman for the setup, and two, I do not look as if I kick puppies as a hobby. What did I say about looking more approachable?"

"That it would lead to my mother's heartbreak."

"Whatever, so I will be sending the main girl over. Be nice, do not traumatize her. I and her wing-woman will be somewhere… in the wings. Good luck!"

"What, dobe don't you dare! Will you get back here?"

If Sasuke had had sufficient confidence that in descending from his stool, gravity would not prove completely irresistible, he would have beaten a hasty exit. Since he lacked that confidence, however, he was still precariously seated when the girl arrived.

"Hi, Sasuke, right? I'm Nana." The girl was the perfect picture of nervousness. "Well, actually I'm 23 but my name is Nana, get it, ha-ha."

Shikamaru hid a smile as the girl let loose a giggle so high-pitched, it should have made him nervous to be around all the glass. Sasuke just looked at her dumbly.

During the course of the next twenty minutes, Nana had been able to extract all of seven words from Sasuke. She hung around a bit longer, her persistence and optimism quite admirable. She eventually admitted defeat and slunk off in disappointment. Naruto appeared a second later.

"Well, how did it go? Did you get her number? Will she have your babies?"

"Die in a fire."

"What, all this time and nothing happened?" Naruto looked to Shikamaru for confirmation, which was given with a slight shrug. "You're kidding! Sasuke, you aren't being proactive at all!"

"You listen to me, I didn't-"

Sasuke turned to demolish his idiot friend, but was stopped short. Naruto was glowing. A golden glow radiated from the ultra-shiny hair. Rainbows of colours flowed and ebbed around him. Naruto spoke then, and the words took the form of spreading fairy dust. Sasuke blinked, then slowly looked over to Shikamaru. Mellow browns and yellows flowed around him, and the bartender's body seemed in constant, but slow motion. The man's voice was distorted and deep, which for some reason struck Sasuke as being really…cool. He then ventured to look around the night club. Bright, vibrant colours everywhere. The driving music seemed infectious, and the rainbow swirled around him. There was only one way to describe the scene- psychedelic. He wondered if he could taste it. Yeah, he was going to taste the rainbow.

Shikamaru and Naruto looked at each other as Sasuke started licking the empty air. They had been trying to ascertain what was going on for the last ten minutes, but were being blissfully ignored. The dazed looking man started to wander off, but Naruto immediately hauled him back.

"What is wrong with him? This doesn't look like a rum and coke issue."

Understanding hit Shikamaru quickly. "No wonder she hung around so long after striking out. I think she drugged his coffee."

"What?! What the hell could she have given him?"

"I really love these clothes" Sasuke mused as rubbed the material of his shirt. "I really love this club. Oh, and I really love this song."

Naruto and Shikamaru watched in stupefaction as Sasuke started bouncing in place.

"I can't believe this, she seemed so sweet and wholesome compared to the other one who was groping my unmentionables on the dance floor. I think I better take him home."

Naruto paid their tab and with some difficulty managed to get Sasuke, who had now taken a liking to the club's DDR machine, outside. Thankfully, for the duration of the trip, passing trees and whizzing stars held the man's attention, allowing Naruto to drive in peace.

"Can't even have a club experience without drama." Naruto muttered as he closed the door behind them.

"This carpet is really soft." Sasuke giggled as he wiggled his bare toes. He suddenly flopped down and started squirming about. "Really soft."

Naruto snorted and headed into the kitchen. He had no idea what to give someone strung out on party pills, and the kitchen was pretty bare anyway. Obviously he wouldn't be giving Sasuke anything caffeinated or sugary, the man was already hyper. The tomato juice did not look promising, and the milk… Milk- that might work. Milk was good, milk was healthy, and milk was their friend. He wasn't sure how, but maybe it would help. Naruto poured a glass and took it to the living room.

Sasuke had managed to find his way to the couch, and was busy staring in awe at the splendor of his ceiling, wondering how he had never noticed before. He suddenly heard someone calling him. After a few moments of location determination, he deduced that the voice came from somewhere in front of him. It turns out it was Naruto. Hiiiiiii Naruto.

The Naruto being smiled. "Are you feeling good, Sasuke?"

He nodded, he did feel really wonderful.

"I can make you feel even better." The Naruto being slowly peeled off his shirt to reveal tantalizing, glowing skin. "You wanna play with me, Sasuke?"

Sasuke nodded his whole-hearted assurance that he did indeed, want to play with Naruto.

"Come get me then."

That's how the events unfolded in Sasuke's head. In actuality, Naruto had simply walked out with a glass of milk, only to see his friend with his head lolled back, staring with open mouthed admiration at his ceiling.

"Oi Sasuke."

The man started looking about as if hearing the voice of God. Eventually he managed to focus in Naruto's general direction. Then he appeared to be really focusing. He was staring at Naruto the way the latter did at an extra large bowl of miso-ramen.

'Maybe it's the milk.' Testing his theory, Naruto moved the glass of milk about, but his friend's focus did not change. He grew even more concerned as Sasuke grinned goofily and then nodded. Alarm bells went off, something was not kosher.

He always knew Sasuke was fast, but this was indescribable. One second he was on the couch, then there was a brief blur, and the next second Naruto found himself on the receiving end of a professional-grade football tackle. The milk went flying in one direction, and all the air that used to live in his body went out in another. He lay on the floor completely dazed, trying desperately to re-inflate his collapsed lungs. He then came to the realization that he was being mauled. Naruto lay stunned as Sasuke hands, lips and teeth attempted to map out his body.

"Um Sasuke?" The mild inquiry gave opportunity to another jarring phenomenon. Sasuke's tongue in his mouth.

Sasuke was good at it, Naruto admitted to himself. So good he didn't even realize he was kissing back with equal fervor. He heard Sasuke whimper, and felt him tug at his hands, belatedly realizing his friend wanted him to start touching him. Dazed, Naruto's hands came up automatically, moving to stroke Sasuke's face and his hair. Now inspired, Naruto shifted, pinning the writhing Sasuke beneath him. Sasuke moaned and arched, sighing as he was kissed and bitten along his jaw. Naruto's hands slipped under his shirt, fingers splaying against the warm skin. Sasuke cried out, arching hard against Naruto as each touch was forcefully amplified by the narcotics in his system, making the pleasure nearly excruciating. Naruto slowly moved Sasuke's shirt upwards, kissing and licking the heated flesh as it was exposed. The slight pain from the desperate fingers twisting in his hair did more to motivate as he finally tugged Sasuke's shirt off.

"You're making such good sounds, Sasuke," he murmured appreciatively as he moved to lick the hardened nipples and trail kissed down the twitching abdomen.

"Now, do it now." Sasuke demanded hoarsely as he twisted, pulling hard on the blond hair.

Enchanted, a long, tanned finger glided over well-formed abdominal muscles and came to a stop just above the black leather belt. Deftly, the belt was undone, as was the zipper which had being under considerable strain. Sasuke shivered as he felt his pants being tugged down. Naruto paused as he observed the slowly spreading damp spot on the front of plain grey boxers. He immediately abandoned hauling down the pants any further and toyed with the elastic waistband. He watched, fascinated, as pale lips parted and breaths came in short pants. Encouraged, he pulled at the waistband, about to reveal the hard, straining, flesh beneath it.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU DAMNED BRAT!!"

Naruto's head snapped up and immediately scanned the area. There was nobody there. Obviously the voice of conscience was late. It was panicked and out of breath. It also sounded ironically like ero-sennin.

"You do not take advantage of people who are high, only drunk! Have I taught you nothing?!"

Naruto sat up abruptly, trying to remember if he left his drink unattended at any point during their time in the club. Usually, his conscience did not sound like Jiraiya, it was usually Iruka-sensei.

"Put his clothes back on you pervert!"

"Okay, okay, there's no need to get nasty about it. See I'm putting everything back."

There was considerable difficulty re-buttoning Sasuke's pants, given the 'nature' of things. Eventually he succeeded and sat back with a sigh. To think, he almost deflowered his best friend who was strung out on uppers. He had no idea what came over him, but this was definitely the first and last time he was taking Sasuke anywhere in the name of socializing.

It slowly dawned on the brunet in question that there had being a cessation of all sexual activity. The colours were now buzzing agitatedly and he needed relief. He propped himself up and looked for his target, who happened to be sitting a couple feet away trying to catch his breath and soothe his hormones. Aware that he was being watched, Naruto looked up to see that he was being glared at.

"Oi, are you feeling any better yet?"

Sasuke sat up and blinked, eventually he spoke. "I want it…now"

"Well you aren't getting it. You're not even in this plane of existence right now. Besides, I am a nice guy. Nice guys do not take advantage of the mentally incapacitated. Also you are saving it for your true love and- what are you doing?"

Naturally, none of that had gotten through. Sasuke simply thought this was an extension of the game and had switched to predator mode. That is, he was now crawling slowly towards the unsuspecting dumb, blond animal. A second later he lunged, but his prey was quick and dodged.

"Sasuke, I am not kidding! You need to- ack!"

Ha, he had tripped his prey, but then it was up and running, so obviously he gave chase. Soon the two of them were tearing around Sasuke's house. Naruto could not comprehend how the evening had turned out like this. The man he had been trying to help was now on the dining room table, attempting to do a flying intercept. He dodged the attack, relieved that Sasuke had managed to land on the couch instead of smashing into the ground. Finally, he locked himself in the living room closet. Now they had degenerated to third-rate symbolism; him, stuck in the closet while Sasuke was outside rattling his cage. Bloody perfect. At length the rattling stopped and there was a dull thud. Naruto peeked outside to see Sasuke sprawled on the ground. Panicked he went to friend's rescue, but a defiant snore from the prone body stopped him.

Talk about falling asleep on the job.


He was dying. Propped over the toilet, Sasuke heaved up things he must have eaten when he was still enrolled in the academy. After his latest bout of intimacy with the porcelain bowl, he looked over groggily at his best friend. Naruto was rubbing his back and keeping his black bangs out of his face, all the while looking appropriately sympathetic.

"If you had an ounce of love for me, you'd kill me now."

Naruto smiled and continued to pat him. "I have nothing but love for you, but I'll let you tough it out. This too shall pass."

Sasuke was about to scuff until he realized that the tuna rolls he ate last week had apparently returned to seek their revenge. Finally emptied, he was stuck in a shower by his sadist friend, and made to brush his teeth…several times. After passing inspection, he was dumped into bed. Naruto sat on the floor beside the bed and watched him for any other signs of nausea attacks.

"I have work," came a weak protest.

"No you don't, I called you in sick. I am taking the day too, make sure you don't die or anything."

Sasuke snuffled, feeling quite pathetic. "Did I…do anything weird last night?"

"No not really, you were a perfect gentleman, a credit to drug users everywhere."

There was a snort from the bed. The images from the night before were all confused and muddled up. He had no idea what was real and what wasn't, but he knew instinctively his friend was lying. He was distracted by Naruto standing up, kneeling on the bed and rapidly bending towards him. Their foreheads connected, and Sasuke blinked.

"Well you feel normal. Your house is empty, so I need to go get some supplies. You won't die if I leave you alone for a half-hour, right?"

"No." Sasuke squeaked. He cleared his throat and repeated the answer at normal pitch. A second later, Naruto was out the door and he was burying himself under his sheets, face burning. Moron.


Sai smiled as rang up the videos Naruto was renting. "So these are all for Sasuke-kun?"

"Yeah, he's sick and out of commission for the day, so I am making sure we don't die of boredom."

"Well there are always other things you could do. How is his quest going?"

"You heard too, huh? Not so great and he isn't exactly helping."

"Ah, I have a special DVD that may help."

"One of those motivational things?" Naruto asked skeptically.

"Nope it's a movie." Sai reached under the counter and produced the item in question.

"Romancing the Rock? I've heard of Romancing the Stone or something like that. Never heard of this though. It looks like a chick flick." The cover of the DVD case showed an obviously angst-filled, but beautiful young man clutching a rose and staring longingly into the night sky.

"It is most decidedly not a chick flick, although it may depend on the girl. It is a romantic movie though, but it might help Sasuke-kun."

"Does it have a happy ending?"

"Oh like you wouldn't believe."

"Fine, fine. How much?"

"Just consider it my part of the effort."


"Drink the sweet and sour soup first." Naruto ordered as he popped the prescribed movie in.

"What's that?"

"Don't know really, Sai sent it along with his regards."

Usually, Naruto wasn't that great at drawing parallels between movies and real life, but this one was a giveaway. The star of the show was introduced as an intense young man, successful but unfulfilled. In a desperate act, he goes to fortune teller, who tells him that the key to his happiness is finding his true love. Cue the vivacious best friend a few minutes later, who vows to help him on said quest. A series of hilarious and heart tugging misadventures immediately follow.

As freaky as it was, it was also encouraging. If this show had a happy ending, maybe all they'd have to do is follow the recipe, even though they only had five days until Sasuke's birthday. The only thing that bothered Naruto was that they were taking a rather long time to introduce the main girl in this story. In fact, he couldn't recall spotting any women in this movie. But then, it was probably one of those last minute heroine deals. Thus assured, Naruto slurped his ramen and waited for it.

This would explain his shock, when at the climax of the story, after a passionate argument about love, relationships and the like, the best friend had the main guy bent over the dining room table, and was giving it to him as if the world was about to end. Besides the moans, screams and profanity emanating from Sasuke's big screen TV, the only other sound to be heard in the living room was Naruto's jaw hitting the floor. He was going to kill Sai.

Several intimidating acrobatic feats later, that had Naruto tilting his head to fully appreciate the newest inventive position, Sasuke stood abruptly and started to walk off. Naruto instinctively grabbed his wrist to stop him from walking off. He released it quickly when Sasuke looked at the restraining hand.

"Sorry, I swear I had no idea what type of show this was. Sai just said it was a romantic movie that would help and-"

"Stop freaking out, dobe, I'm not offended or anything. I was just going to use the bathroom."

"Oh." Naruto's relief was evident. "Okay, I'll put something else in while you're gone."

"Yeah sure."

Later, after Naruto went home, Sasuke popped the movie in and found the scene where it had been stopped.

He was curious to see how the movie ended.


Sasuke's birthday.

"Still haven't figured it out yet kid?" Jiraiya said sympathetically.

"No, this is why I am here! It's his birthday and nothing has worked. I promised! I can't show up at his house today without his true love!"

"Seems like a pretty tall order."

"Argh, you said the answer was simple. So tell me already."

"Only you know the answer, brat."

"Will you stop talking like Gandalf for five minutes and help me out already?"

"Nope, you have sixteen hours. Maybe lightning will strike before then. Although, it wouldn't hurt to ask yourself just why this whole thing is so important to you."

--

It was officially his worst birthday ever. After a brief and breathless phone call from Naruto wishing him a happy birthday, and promising to see him later, he hadn't heard or seen the man since. Work had dragged on at a painful pace, and then it was the same at home. Sakura and a few other people had wandered in and out if the house for the rest of the day, and his parents had called. Finally it was way past nightfall, and the house was empty of company. Minutes after ten, and no Naruto. Miserable, he plopped down unto his couch, and watched Romancing the Rock for the umpteenth time. It may have been late, but Naruto always kept his promises.

11:40 (twenty minutes until the end of Sasuke's birthday)

Sasuke ejected the movie and dumped it in the trash. He was tired, and defeated and going to bed. He was passing his front door, when the sound of frantic knocking stopped him. He stood for a minute in a state of shock, listening to the urgent hammering.

"SASUKE! Are you in there?"

Shaking himself, he quickly opened the door. Naruto appeared surprised that he had actually been awake.

"What?" Sasuke asked suspiciously as he saw his friend break out into a relieved grin.

"Happy Birthday!"

There was no chance to reply as Naruto hauled him flush against him, capturing him in a kiss. Sasuke's jaw slackened and the opportunity was immediately taken to deepen the kiss. 'Psychedelic' Sasuke thought as the rainbows and fireworks came rushing back. Finally, they broke apart, and Naruto was suddenly nervous as Sasuke stared at him uncertainly.

"Are you okay?"

"It depends on whether or not someone has drugged me again."

Naruto smiled. "I know, but I think this is real."

"Oh, well in that case, everything is perfect."

The smile turned into a grin as he was pulled inside. Soon Sasuke found himself pushed up against the closed door.

"I could never find a girl who I thought was right for you, but I'll do right. You can be satisfied with me?" Naruto murmured as he pressed kisses into Sasuke's throat.

"Idiot, you're the only one who would ever do. I told you I wanted true love, I never said anything about a girl."

"Yeah? Heh, I'm an idiot."

"True, but I knew you'd figure it all out eventually."

--

Sasuke looked at the clock, 1:35 a.m. He had completed his affirmation list, gotten his true love and lost his virginity, right on the wire. Thankfully though the process had continued long after midnight. He sighed as he felt Naruto wrap his arms around him, melding his bare body against his own. He shivered as Naruto bit and licked his shoulder.

"You know, you could've just told me. Saved a ton of trouble."

Sasuke was too happy, contented and sated to give that statement the derisive snort it deserved. In the million and one scenarios he had played in his head, he could never give any of them a happy ending. If had though there was even the slightest chance that this had been possible, he would not have sat there and suffered in silence all this time. Naruto could never appreciate the amount of courage and self-motivation it had taken to attempt this insane plan, after he had found his affirmation list. He smiled and turned over to face his lover, after Naruto bit him again while muttering about bastards ignoring their birthday gifts.

"Yeah, I guess I could have told you. But honestly?"

"Hm?"

"What would've been the fun in that?"


The End

MUY IMPORTANTE!!

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