So this is something that I've been writing for some time now, and also is my first betaed (is that even a word?) story.
THANK YOU Divinely Insane!!!
Well I haven't decided yet on where this story is going, but so far is going somewhere hehehe!
Don't own anything blah blah blah!
-"Have you ever seen this site? Is where people post their secrets and stuff like that, is really cool!"- said Naruto as he was chopping down the lettuce for their dinner.
It wasn't normal for the three of them to have a night off, all of them together at the same time, so they decided to "celebrate" this happening with a dinner cooked by the three. Sakura and Sasuke wisely decided that Naruto was not to come anywhere near the stove, and so he was chopping some of the vegetables they were going to use.
Not like that was more safe, but it only meant they could control the chaos that was him.
-"If you have enough free time, you should use it on doing you final project"- reprimanded Sakura from the stove stirring some of the ingredients on the pan.
-"Oh oh! Mother hen mode is on! Watch out!"- interjected Naruto playfully again in fear of another motherly comment from his housemate.
-"Shut up dope, before you get yourself another bump on the head"- mumbled Sasuke as he washed the dishes from the sink.
-"You are no fun guys! Really it's an interesting site; don't you want to see it?"- asked Naruto finally putting down the knife on the cutting board; the salad, which consisted mainly of tomatoes, was placed in the counter and Sasuke eyed it wondering why had the blond put much more tomatoes than necessary, but didn't comment on it.
-"If we do will, you shut up?"- asked Sasuke with an almost-not-there smirk in his lips.
-"Yeah!"- responded Naruto enjoying the smirk he got from the other.
-"Then let's see your freak show, shall we"- added Sakura as an after thought as she turned the stove down and started serving each their portion.
Both the raven and the female watched Naruto race to his room and a small smile formed itself in their lips.
They had met each other in high school and since then been like a family… In a way they were, none of them really had one to begin with…
Naruto had lost his parents at the age of eight, they had been mugged and killed one night; Sasuke's parents had gotten a divorce when he was ten and then they went their separate ways leaving him and his older brother behind, sometimes they would send them money, but they hadn't seen them in like forever; Sakura lost her father in a car accident and since then her mother lost herself, she was only twelve.
The bright blond came back carrying his beaten up laptop into the dining room, a grin plastered in his features.
Somehow this childish aspect of his friend always made Sasuke smirk, not quite smile, because he never smiled, but smirking was okay in the presence of his "family".
-"Come over here"- said Naruto nodding with his head towards them while placing his laptop on the table moving the salad bowl a little too close to Sasuke's side of the table.
Sasuke took his seat and grabbed a tomato from the salad bowl secretly thankful at having it so close to him and leaned over to his left to look at the screen. The background was a picture of the three of them on the last trip they had taken together.
When Sakura and Sasuke saw the background image they looked at each other feeling moved by the fact that Naruto had that picture as his background.
Secretly Sasuke had set his own screen saver to show a slideshow of all their pictures taken at his last birthday, when Naruto and Sakura had taken him to Buffalo to eat those chicken wings he loved so much; they had travel for at least 10 hours, mainly because Naruto kept getting lost over and over again… It had been so worth it!
-"Oh! Here it is!"- said Naruto excited about it all.
It always amazed Sakura how Naruto could turn every little thing into something really important, and she was thankful for this. If it hadn't been for this she would be probably sitting alone on a dark apartment watching some cheesy soap opera.
-"These people send their secrets to this guy right"- he said and took a bite of the stir fry Sakura had made for the three of them: -"And then they get published here every Sunday"- he said as he took yet another bite: -"Sakura your cooking skills are getting better; should we be thanking fuzzy-eyebrows for it?"- added the blond playfully smirking at his "sister".
She just rolled her eyes in a playful manner and let the joke slip, just this time.
-"So these are just random people who send their secrets? Why would anyone want to share their secrets with complete strangers?"- asked the raven serving the three of them lemonade, adding a little extra for Naruto as a thank you for the tomatoes on the salad.
-"Well, because not everybody likes to live with a feeling of oppression on their chest Sasuke"- interjected Sakura munching on her salad not even questioning the fact that it had a little to much tomatoes for her taste, she knew why…
Naruto looked at her as if she had grown a second head and stole a glance at Sasuke to check if he wasn't going to jump the female and choke her to death; but was even more surprised to find a very peaceful Sasuke munching on his tomato salad.
Maybe he was being nice to her because her birthday had been a couple days ago?
There was a peaceful silence while the three of them kept on eating, each one of them lost in their own thoughts.
-"Wow! This one is cool! Look at it!"- Naruto suddenly exclaimed and pulling at Sakura's hand as well as Sasuke's; Sakura didn't fail to notice Naruto's hand lingered a little longer on the ravens' one, but didn't comment on it.
On his screen there was an image of a picture taken from above, people seating at a bench and a message on top of it: We're all waiting for something.
And in fact they were…
Sakura was waiting to get her internship at the main hospital of the city where the important things happened; Sasuke was waiting for a letter of response of that law firm he had applied for; Naruto was waiting for inspiration to finally hit him so he could finish his graduation project as a photograph major.
They were all waiting for something…
Naruto let out a sigh, but he himself didn't know if it was due to tiredness or sadness or just simply to break the silence that seemed to have taken over the room.
The raven sitting next to him eyed him for a few moments. He noticed how the tan skin seemed to be losing it's shine, the bags under the eyes, those were unmistakable: Naruto was going through one of those blocks when he spend all his time wondering what to do next.
Naruto never spoke to anybody about his little creative blocks, but Sasuke and Sakura prided themselves in being the only ones to notice this.
-"Have you ever sent a secret?"- asked Sasuke trying to take importance out of the question.
-"No… I'm not sure I have any secrets to share…"- said the blond with a thoughtful look in his blue eyes while his fingers absentmindedly played with the napkin he was holding.
-"Oh I think you do!"- snickered Sakura: -"We all do…"- she added this time sounding more cryptic than she ever did in all her life, or so thought Naruto as he saw her move her food around her plate.
They kept their silence; they didn't need to know each other's secrets right now. When the right time came they would share it with each other.
That night they watched a movie while eating popcorn, Sasuke still munching on what was left of the tomato salad from dinner.
A week went by rather quickly.
Sakura finally got her acceptance card from the hospital; she was going to be working with Doctor Tsunade, one of the greatest surgeons in the medical field.
Sakura was thrilled!
Sasuke hadn't heard back from the law firm, but Naruto knew he was going to get that job; there was no better man for the job than his "brother".
Sunday caught up to them.
A beaten up Sakura made her entrance at around 10 at night; Sasuke, who had been working on a case, had arrive only half an hour before Sakura; and Naruto, who had found his desired inspiration and had been working on it ever since it hit him 3 days ago, decided to take a break.
And so the "family" gathered at the kitchen counter, too tired and hungry to make it all the way to the table, munching on Chinese food leftovers from Naruto's last dinner.
-"So how was the hospital today Sakura?"- asked the raven as he stretched in an attempt to crack his back not being quite successful.
-"It was okay. We had a major pile up on the 94 highway and so a lot of people came in with rather bad injures"- mumbled Sakura in between munches.
-"Yeah, I heard about it in the radio this afternoon. I heard it was really bad"- said Naruto adding his 50 cents to the conversation.
-"And how about you Naruto?"- asked the female as she eyed the blond and then gazed at the raven sensing he had wanted to ask that same question.
-"Well I wanted to keep going, but I'm beaten up right now. I think I'll take a break and check my email, I haven't checked it in like forever"- answered the blond stuffing his mouth with the last mouthful of noodles and then disposing of the container.
Sasuke watched the retreating back of the blond into the living room and decided that he too should check his email, even if it's just to do something to get his mind out of that ridiculous case of divorce. He caught himself thinking of his parents; his mother had sent him a check a few days ago. He didn't even open it, he sent it back untouched.
It wasn't until he checked his laptop clock that he realized it was well past midnight, but who cared, it was Sunday and he could oversleep that day, if only just that day.
-"Oh! They're up!"- exclaimed the blond excited about something, derailing Sasuke out of his thoughts of broken families and divorces.
-"What?"- asked Sasuke even if it's just to ask something.
Sakura had long since turned her lights out and was now probably on cloud nine.
-"The Sunday post! From Share a Secret!"- exclaimed Naruto again as he looked intently at the screen. Sasuke briefly wondered if everything Naruto said came out as an exclamation; he wanted to chuckle at the fact that, indeed, all in Naruto's life was a big exclamation sign.
He seated himself next to Naruto and the old couch cringed at the added weigh.
-"Cool! They seem interesting"- said Naruto as he slowly scrolled down.
Sasuke made a comment or two about some of the postcards. His shoulder and Naruto's were brushing and the raven's hair was tickling him on the cheek, but having the raven close like this was worth it, so he didn't say anything about it.
A postcard caught his attention…
It was a very simple postcard, but that was what made it stand out the most; a tomato in the middle of the picture, a plain dark background behind it, and with white marker written in cursive letters it read: I know you add extra tomatoes because I like them. THANK YOU!
Naruto's eyes read and reread the message over and over again and felt tempted to look at the other, but couldn't do it.
-"Keep on scrolling down"- he heard the other mumble and turned around to see the dark eyes fixed on the screen and then on Naruto's own blue ones: -"What?"- asked Sasuke and the blond couldn't help but notice how he could see the screen on those dark eyes, maybe if he looked close enough he could see himself as well.
-"Nothing…"- answered Naruto and kept on scrolling down.
Half an hour later they were both in their own rooms getting ready for bed.
The minute he saw Sasuke's dark eyes he knew it couldn't possibly be Sasuke's doing; hell, for all he knew it could be for a dog… But still he saved the image on his laptop and turned it off.
A week came and went and so did March.
Sasuke's letter of acceptance had come sometime during the week. They had all been happy about it and had even organized a little outing together, just the three of them to celebrate it. This was when Sasuke had told them he had declined the invitation and decided he wanted to stay here and work with the law firm that he was working with right now.
Secretly Naruto and Sakura had been more than happy about his decision. It didn't matter how you saw it, New York City was far.
And so that night they had celebrated the fact that Sasuke had not left.
Naruto had bought at least a dozen Duff beers for Sasuke; the raven wondered how Naruto had guessed that it was his favorite beer, but decided not to think to much about it. That night the blond had carried a stumbling Sasuke back to their flat and held his hair back as he emptied his stomach for the rest of the night.
He called in sick that day.
Since April was approaching so was the Hanami; it was a tradition among the Japanese community residing in the area to celebrate the Hanami as well.
It's not like they really cared about keeping their traditions and stuff like that, it was just that it gave them an excuse to drink, chat and enjoy them selves. And so they sat at the living room discussing what they were going to do and when; this year it would be the first year Lee – or fuzzy-eyebrow, like Naruto used to call him – would be joining them on the festivities.
It was Sunday afternoon and while the rest of the "family" was busy deciding on the place and date he was busying himself with his own work. Just a few final touches here and there and his master piece will be done for.
He logged into his email account as he stretched.
-"We should definitely do it on the northern part of the park, its closer to my office. That way I could save us a spot"- said Sasuke as he took a swing from his beer, it was a Duff.
-"What do you think Naruto?"- asked Sakura when she noticed him watching them.
-"Sure, that would be fine. I can bring the boost for the night"- added Naruto before returning his attention back to the screen where it said he had 15 messages unread.
He immediately went for the one that said "Update in Share a Secret blog"; apparently the new postcards had been uploaded already. He hadn't thought much about that postcard he had read last weekend, but now, as he opened the webpage, felt a strange anxiety take him over… He found himself thinking of finding another postcard that might say something for him.
-"Are you done yet Naruto?"- asked Sakura as she turned the TV on stretching her legs and placing them on top of Lee's owns.
-"Yeah… I'm just checking something…"- mumbled the other distracted as he urgently went through the postcards looking for one that might look similar to the last one.
-"Mitsuketa!"- exclaimed the blond as he clicked on the image to enlarge it.
-"What did you found?"- asked Sakura venturing a glance at Sasuke who seemed to be to immersed in his own work, but he did lift his eyes to steal a look at Naruto and Sakura didn't fail to notice.
Naruto kept silent as he looked at the postcard; again a simple image, a bottle of Duff, this time placed to the right side of the frame and the plain dark background, with the same white marker and the same style of letter it said: How did you know I liked Duff so much? THANK YOU! I'm glad I didn't leave you behind.
Sakura noticed how Naruto lifted his eyes and looked at Sasuke with a questioning brow in his features and then turned to Sasuke to see that he was not aware of being looked at by his housemates.
He saved the image and went back to finish his own work.
That night him and Sasuke finished the stack of Duff beer Sasuke had bought for a week, he didn't even complain about it as Naruto drank the last bottle.
Monday came and went.
Naruto finally finished his work; it had been a collection of photographs he took of unsuspecting people while doing what people do when they think no one is looking. He especially loved one in which a men was sending a kiss to the retreating back of a woman.
His thesis advisor had then suggested an exhibition; he had a good friend that had an art gallery and they could manage a few days on there.
Naruto got really excited about it and completely forgot about the postcard that had made such an impact, even if just for one moment, and put all of his attention into forming an exhibition that could mean the launch of his career.
In that week Sakura got to participate on her first open heart surgery, the patient was a woman of 47 and had 2 beautiful daughters waiting for her in the waiting area; the operation lasted hours, but it was a success… and Sakura had been a part of it.
Sasuke had finally finished that case of divorce; it had been way too intense, even for him. The man had cheated on his wife and then she had cheated on him, their only son had been a witness to all of this and he was no older than 10. He talked to the lawyers himself and asked to be given into custody to his grandmother who lived in Wisconsin.
On Saturday night they had had their Hanami in the park.
Naruto had gotten there late because of his project consuming most of his time this week, but he had made it; he would never miss a chance to be with his "family", no matter what other important things came around and he knew the others felt the same.
They told each other about their weeks and Naruto showed them a few of the pictures he had taken.
He was now working on a collection of expressions of people.
Right now he was forming a collage of smiles; he would go around the city in search of unexpecting people smiling at life, love and tears.
Naruto still had to find his favorite one, but he was sure he would very soon.
They drank and ate for several hours; Naruto had made sure to bring an extra stash of Duff's just for Sasuke if only just for the fun to see him getting drunk again.
-"You know what guys? I should take a picture of you smiling!"- said Naruto standing up as if for toasting, bringing his beer with him and looking around the familiar faces in search of approval: -"Well I guess with you I would have to settle with a smirk"- added the blond when his eyes and Sasuke's collided.
-"What makes you think I'll participate in such a thing?"- grumbled Sasuke as he took a bite of his onigiri.
-"Won't you smile for Naruto Sasuke?"- interjected Sakura eyeing them both with a smirk already plastered in her lips.
-"I don't think he can make me smile…"- said Sasuke all trace of a smile now erased from his lips and eyes. This was his way of issuing a challenge to the blond; he was more than sure he was going to take the bait.
-"You are so on bastard!"- exclaimed Naruto as he emptied his beer on one swing.
Sakura let out a "humph" as she rolled her eyes, leave it to her "brothers" to make the night into an all out competition of stubbornness.
The blond spent a great deal of the night trying to get a laugh out of the other male, but didn't even got so much as a smirk; so finally accepting defeat he slumped back down on his spot next to Sasuke accidentally brushing his shoulder with the other male's.
-"Told you dope"- said the other and a barely there smirk could be seen.
-"Well, whatever…"- grunted the blond as he eyed the last tomato filled with tuna that Sakura had made for them. He turned towards Sasuke as if asking his permission and all he got was raised eyebrow from the fair skinned man.
-"Eat it, I don't want it"- answered the raven to the unasked question as he diverted his own eyes from the blond; gathered in the park there was a big number of families and friends gathered for the Hanami this year. Once his group of friend had been bigger, but most of them now lived in other cities, even in other countries, and it was, again, only the three of them… Well, now four.
When Sasuke turned around again he found his plate had been placed in front of him, half of the tuna filled tomato on it. He looked at Naruto with a questioning look, but it was ignored as the blond in one bite swallowed the whole thing.
He eyed his own half; a sakura petal fell on top of the tuna, but that made it even more perfect, that way he could have both "Sakura" and "Naruto" in one bite.
And without even realizing it a full out smile formed itself on his lips and he was unable to control it. No, he didn't want to control it; it was okay, to smile like this at such a small gesture…
A camera flash brought him out of his musings…
-"There! The great Sasuke Uchiha smiled for me!"- exclaimed Naruto as he danced around the raven in what he liked to call his "victory dance".
-"Baka…"- muttered the other angrily as he too swallowed, on one go, his tomato.
-"If all it takes for you to smile at me is niceness I'll do it more often"- joked Naruto as he held out another beer for Sasuke.
The blond then had asked both Sakura and Lee to allow him to take a picture of their smiles.
Naruto had loved how Lee could not help himself from looking at Sakura as she smiled, this provoking a smile on him; if that wasn't love he didn't knew what was.
They had kept going through the pictures; each one of them picked their favorite one, except for Sasuke, who had claimed they were all very boring.
Later that night, as a punishment for one of their drinking games, Naruto had to pick up a bunch of sakura petals and put them in his hair while doing an imitation – a very lousy one by the way – of a ballerina. What people do when drunk…
Sasuke had gotten a picture of it and even gotten a video; he was so sure he was going to upload this on his computer the minute they got home.
Sakura knew then what smile the raven had chosen as his favorite.
The next day Naruto completely forgot about the Share a Secret blog and didn't even think about it for the rest of the following week.
Naruto had gone to see the place where his exhibition was going to be held sometime during the week, Sasuke had agree to accompany him with the condition that his picture would not be part of the exhibition… Naruto had said that even if he didn't approve of it, that smile was a part of the exhibition in Naruto's heart…
At the end Sasuke yielded a little, only a little…
That Friday Lee had come over to their place to have a "Boy's only" night; but when Sakura got home at around 11 that night it became a night of "Forgive us Sakura".
To placate the wrath of an angry Sakura Naruto had agreed to show just them his new collage for the exhibition; this one was about tears.
This one, to everyone's surprise, seemed to get Sasuke's attention as he went through the pictures with a little more care than last time. Naruto briefly wondered why tears would interest the stoic man and thought about questioning him, but when he saw Sasuke's intense stare decided against it, let the man have his secrets to himself.
And when he thought about secrets he idly remembered that blog; he hadn't checked it at all since last Sunday. And he hadn't even once thought about those two postcards he had seen. He would check it that Sunday.
And so Sunday morning came and even though he had decided not to give the issue more importance, first thing he did that morning was turn his laptop on and log into his email. He clicked on the one that read "Update in Share a Secret blog" and immediately checked last weeks update.
But there was no plain dark background and no white marker cursive letters…
Why had he felt so sure he would find something? It was very unlikely for it to be meant for him anyways… But he kept on looking… Maybe in the new updates…
-"Aniki?"- he heard the muffled voice of the occupant on the adjacent room.
He knew Sasuke for not being a morning person, so it was rare to find him awake and willing to engage himself in conversation at the early hour of the morning.
-"Yeah, thank you… No, I didn't… It's okay…"- he heard the other say and then was startled to hear a chuckle; had Sasuke Uchiha just chuckled?
He was unconsciously scrolling down and he tried unfruitful to listen to more of the phone conversation; it was rare that Sasuke's brother – real brother, Naruto found himself thinking in a rather scornful way – would call him, not because they didn't have a good relationship, but because he was constantly traveling and spend most of his time at Maryland.
But then something caught his eye as he heard his name being mentioned in the conversation, but whatever it was they were discussing about him went unheard… he had found it! The third postcard!
It was the now familiar plain dark background and the white marker cursive letter: Your smile was my favorite smile. THANK YOU FOR SHARING IT WITH ME, it read. But this time the image was what caught his attention the most, in the left side of the frame was a tuna filled tomato with a lonely sakura petal lying on top of it.
-"Masaka…"- heard himself mumbled as he reread the message over and over again.
This postcard was for him! There was no doubt about it! Who else could it be for! This had been sent by Sasuke, he had no doubt about it anymore!
But as he made his way for the door knob, Sasuke's voice caught his attention.
-"No; why would I take Naruto with me?"- said the raven sounding offended at whatever comment had been made at the other side of the line.
Naruto stopped dead in his tracks; what had the other meant by that?
-"I don't want him to come… I just… don't feel comfortable about it…"- he heard the other mumble and his heart sank deep.
His blue eyes inspected the old wooden door of his bedroom; his hand was still holding the door knob…
'How could I even think that…'- thought Naruto as he heard the other say his goodbyes: -'No, it wasn't Sasuke… It wasn't for me…'- and finally let go of the knob.
This postcard he did not save it…
The rest of the day he did not leave his room, even when Sakura had come knocking on his door saying that it would be a good idea to go get some ramen for dinner; the blond had claimed he was busy and didn't even let her in, Sasuke had no better luck.
And so that week came and went.
Naruto hardly left his room when he was at home, but he spent most of his time outside or in lab developing his pictures.
This week he had put himself so much into it that he had completed two collages, one about hands the other about feet. He had forced himself not to think of the blog or of Sasuke or the postcards…
Sometime during the week Sasuke had called him on his cell phone while he was in the dark room, but he didn't answer; later on when asked, he claimed he hadn't heard it, but Sasuke knew better, something was off about Naruto's behavior of lately.
Sunday came and went.
Naruto didn't even bother to check his email that morning and left the place in a hurry; this time he was going to be taking pictures of kisses.
When Sasuke heard the door of Naruto's adjacent room being opened and closed and then the entrance one, he knew the blond had left.
Sakura and the raven waited for Naruto for hours to catch up on a movie or eat something out like the always did when the time arose; but this time Naruto wasn't there. The female had called him and he claimed to be very busy with the photo shooting.
And so Sakura and Sasuke had headed for the movies and then a restaurant; that night Naruto had missed Sasuke laughing and Sakura crying…
The next week started.
The same pattern seemed to be repeating itself again, Naruto avoided being at home and Sasuke and Sakura doing the best they could to try and bring him back from whatever lonely place the blond was heading to, but they seemed to be unsuccessful the first few days.
Friday night Sakura had manage to get Naruto out of his room and talk to her; she text message Sasuke and he said he would be there in a couple minutes.
It had been raining the whole afternoon, well into the first hours of the night; it was already 9 and Sasuke had yet to get home.
Sakura was eyeing the entrance door in a reproachful manner as if the door was to blame for Sasuke's tardiness.
Naruto took notice of the female's weariness and suggested to call the other just to check on him; he was just probably stuck in a traffic jam, it always happens when raining.
But the phone rang and rang and the person on the other end never answered…
Naruto was checking his email for the first time in the whole two weeks that have passed and without holding much hope in his heart he scrolled down looking at the postcards on Share a Secret blog…
And he saw it…
Plain dark background, white marker cursive letter: Don't leave me, dope… I MISS YOU…
He could hear a faint ringing sound on the background, but there was nothing more important than this message right now, because when he saw the picture he knew it… it was Sasuke…
A chopped up black and white picture of a crying eye, of Sasuke's dark crying eye, a tear already rolling down his check… It was Sasuke…
-"Naruto! It's Sasuke… he is…!"- half exclaimed, half sobbed Sakura.
Sasuke had had a car accident…