Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto. Not me. Obviously.

Notes: Timeline disjointed. Based on Mexican traditions. Naruto Birthday fic, of course.

In his hands was a flattened plastic bag, a few pieces of orange paper still inside. Most of it was being brushed off by Sakura, who had cast him a wry, half amused look before punching him gently in the gut. He'd walked away, laughing weakly. Away from the festivities, as always. He tried not to wake up remembering that it was his birthday. As the years wore on and he became stronger, he found he had friends, unlike the dark days of his childhood. But the tenth day in the tenth month still made him feel like the outsider.

Today the celebration of the Kyuubi's defeat was reduced to little more than an opportunity for street vendors to make money and chunin to skip training in favor of running around like idiots, spending their coins on games and snacks.

Naruto smiled softly, remembering the festival he'd been to with Jiraya, the brat that he'd been. Not that all that brashness had left him. It had only been five years ago. He wished briefly that he could somehow find that happiness again, but it was hard, especially since the noise from the street reached him there in the dark, halfway to his apartment. He smiled to himself, trying to remember fondly the faces of his friends as they were sprinkled with confetti. Sakura blushing fiercely as she shook off a handful of green and white paper strips, Kiba laughing as Ino dumped her entire bag of purple and white over Shikamaru's head.

His stock had fallen largely on Sakura, but it had really just been for old time's sake. There were a few small circlesof colored paper in his hair, but none of it was deliberate, except for maybe the tiniest amount of pale blue from Hinata. He felt the urge to crumple up the bag.

"Hey, loser."

Sasuke was standing in front of him suddenly, and Naruto had to frown. Sasuke brushed a few flakes of confetti off his shoulders.

"Why aren't you out there being loud and making an idiot out of yourself?"

Naruto smirked. "Stupid question."

Sasuke withdrew something from his pocket. Naruto stared. "Man, Sasuke, did you actually buy that?" he said, almost laughing, unable to look away from the bag of blue and white confetti in his bestfriendrival's hand. "Going to go throw it in some girl's hair?" he asked at last.

"Don't be such a moron," Sasuke retorted, tearing it open.

Naruto shrugged. "Who came up with that anyway?" he mused, more to himself than to Sasuke.

They were both silent, Sasuke dipping his fingers into the open bag and letting a few light handfuls be taken from his palm by the autumn wind.

"No one threw any at you."

Naruto frowned again. Bastard. Did he think this was some sort of contest? Sasuke's hair was littered with color and there was probably some down his shirt as well.

"So what?" he said, the timing completely off.

Sasuke laughed then, a rare sound.

Then he promptly upended the rest of his confetti into Naruto's hair.

Naruto barely had the chance to get out his trademark – "Bastard! The hell?!" – insult before a hand seized the back of his neck and he was pulled forward into the most awkward second kiss of his life. It was as brief as the first and maybe just as embarrassing, but this one was deliberate.

"Oh... and Happy Birthday," Sasuke added as an afterthought, that light arrogant smirk on his face again as he turned and began to walk away.

Naruto watched him for a full ten seconds before registering what had just happened.

"Hey! You bastard!" he cried out as soon as he found his voice. "Wait up!"

Oddly enough, Sasuke did, slowing his steps enough for his bestfriendrival to catch up with him, blue confetti flying out of his hair.