Title: Of Friendship

Originally Written: October 19, 2007.

Disclaimer: Kishimoto and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit. Also, this idea was garnered from one of those e-mail memes that is supposed to be touching until the hundred and eightieth time you get it, when I suppose it prompts one to write boy love stories.

Summary: NaruSasu, AU, modern, high school; Sasuke's future POV. Whoever said that a smile could change your life couldn't have anticipated how much their words could ring true. Sasuke has managed to pass through his life thus far without a single real friend. On the day he finally decides it isn't worth trying anymore, he's given the opportunity to change that. What will he do, and what will come of those decisions?

Pairings: Eventual NaruSasu, but it's just friendship till about the end.

Rating: T

Warnings: Angst, so far. Allusions to suicide. May contain smut at the end(maybe), but just friendship and a little boy love for now.

Author's Notes: I may edit this again at a later date if I can find the actual meme that the idea was spawned from again. If you've ever gotten the e-mail with this meme, you might be able to recognize it pretty early on. I just added the lovely Naruto characters and some boy love. (If anyone has a copy of or link to it, mind sending it my way?) I want the valedictorian speech at the end especially. Anyway, this has been sitting on my hard drive for...about a year and a half now. Since I'm writing this from the standpoint of American schools, their names are in western format. Any questions or comments are welcome! I'm a bit of a perfectionist and slightly used to editing others' works, but if I missed some bit of formatting, spelling, or incorrect grammar...drop me a line? Thanks, and enjoy!!!

Extraneous Note: Argh! I don't know why, but the uploader doesn't seem to want to add in my spacing. If anyone knows how to do it, please share?

Chapter One

I didn't used to believe it when people would claim that a single smile could turn a person's entire day around. I used to scoff when I was told that one good deed could make all the difference for someone else. I used to think that those were just the well-wishes of the fairy tales people told themselves to make the world seem somehow less heartless and cold. Then came the day that led me to second guess everything I had ever thought, felt, and believed.

It was Friday, October twelfth; not quite two months into my freshman year of high school. As was the usual state of things, school was boring and life sucked. To pretty much everyone else, it had been nothing but an ordinary Friday - the students praying for the day to end so they could get on with their weekends, the teachers droning on about whatever subject they're supposed to be teaching and desperately(futilely) attempting to make the students pay attention. To me, however, today was a big turning point. One that everyone I saw in school that day would probably never remember, and only a small handful of people would never forget. But I didn't care about that, as it had nothing to do with any of them.

As such, I was dutifully trekking home with every damn textbook that I usually kept in my locker, as well as the various odds and ends needed for school that I'd had cluttered around in it as well. There would be no parties at so-n-so's house, no hanging out with friends, and no dates to the movies for me. I never got invited to parties, I had no friends, and the only time girls approached me was in the hopes of wheedling me into doing their homework for them. Thus, my weekends usually consisted of sleep, studying, and reading a hopefully good book. But not this one. Nor any one after that. I can't say I'd exactly have plans, but I'd be a little preoccupied.

As I pondered and plotted out my evening, I apparently forgot to look where I was going. Or so said the jerkoffs who shoved at me and tripped me from behind. I took a deep breath and sighed, sliding my bifocals back up from the tip of my nose. Figuring that they'd had their shits and giggles and would be moving on - leaving me with my mess - I reached for one of my books. Which was promptly kicked out of my hand with the exclamation, "Whoops, guess I tripped too!" And the inane yuk-yuking started again.

Once again figuring that I'd been enough amusement, I decided on a different tactic and stood up to dust off my knees. I suppose I must have been full of bad ideas that day, as another one of the idiots decided to show me that by hopefully helping me to puke them out(i.e., punching me in the stomach). Sadly, the contents of my stomach - and brain - decided to stay right where they were as I doubled over retching, once again falling to my knees. Mentally cursing them and deigning to stay down this time, I pondered glaring at them and asking them if they had anything better to do. In not so nice of terms.

Yes, I suppose you could say I'd had a death wish.

But, before I got a chance to unclench my teeth, someone else happened by. Sure there'd been a few people pass the group of us already, but they all either sniggered or averted their eyes and hoped for the best(gee thanks). I glanced over to put a face to the idiot who'd just asked my question for me. I think I was half amused at his stupidity and half intrigued at the way he managed to say it with very nice words that somehow sounded particularly 'not nice.'

"Well?" he asked, the self-satisfied grin plastered on his face practically daring someone to hit him. I'll admit I was tempted myself. "I'm sure you've got plenty of other things to attend to than harassing random passersby. Like you there, don't you need to go find a hole to curl up and cry in over getting dumped? Oh yeah, and you over there should've probably had this guy's," he said as he nodded in my direction while still focused on one of the jerkoffs, "foresight and brought home some books so that you might have a chance at not flunking history. Or was that government? Oh yeah, wait, you're failing both."

I rolled my eyes and briefly wondered if he was going to expect me to feel badly for him after he got his ass kicked in my defense. Because I really wouldn't. Smug, grinning asshole. However, I only had the chance to think on that line for a moment before I noticed that they were shuffling their feet. He'd managed to make them squirm somehow and then, much to my surprise - and chagrin, heaps and tons of chagrin - they started to make excuses about places they needed to be or things they needed to do. One of them actually said, "Yeh, we ain't got time for this shit," as he backed up, turned tail, and stalked off.

And all I could think was, Damnit, now he's really going to expect me to thank him. As I turned to voice the caustic remark forming in my head to tell him I hadn't needed his help, I instead saw him stooped down next to me with a few of my books already gathered in his arms. I blinked for a moment, wondering why he was collecting my scattered textbooks. Then my inner pessimist kicked in and I asked, "What, chase them off so you could steal my books?" Not that I particularly cared, at the time. Yeah, it might have irked me that at some point that my parents would have to pay for the missing ones because I'd screwed up, but it wasn't like I was ever going to use them again.

He turned his face to me and blinked a few times, obviously confused, then let out a short bark of laughter and put on what he must have considered the most friendly and dazzling grin he could. "Of course not, I've got enough of these stupid things already." He apparently thought he was funny, for he started chuckling as he reached for another book. I shrugged and decided to let him help me gather them. Why not, right? Though I was just waiting for whatever he would request in return. My inner pessimist was just about ready to leap up and scream 'Hah!' when he piped up and asked-

"Why the Hell do you have so many books with you? I swear you have a copy of every textbook our school offers - with a few dictionaries tossed in. You sure you can carry all of these?"

Okay, not what I'd expected. I took a moment to smirk at my drooping inner pessimist, then turned a doleful glare at my unwanted helper. "Of course I can; I had gotten this far and I'll be just fine the rest of the way. And that would be stupid to have a copy of every textbook since I can only take eight classes at a time. ...And why on earth would I have need for more than one dictionary, you idiot?"

I suppose I should've admitted defeat as soon as I saw the sly grin flitting across his features. Right before he held up my copy of good ol' Webster's and waved it at the dictionary I used for my Advanced Japanese Language class. "Geez, you don't have to be such a bastard about it, ne?" he teased.

Touché. Well, fuck you too, bright stranger. I settled for not saying anything and slowly turning the hand I was picking up books with to give him a nice view of my middle finger. His response was to let loose a loud and - to possibly anyone other person - infectious laugh.

"Regardless of what you say about being able to manage your way home with these towering monstrocities, if you want I could help you carry them," he offered. As I opened my mouth to answer in the negative, he added, "Or I suppose I could steal them, follow you home, and leave them on your doorstep."

I glared. He grinned at me with the face of people who know they're going to get their way no matter what. "...Fine. Just don't damage them more than they are, if you can. I don't want my parents to have to pay the school because idiots caused my books to go scattering across the pavement twice in one day."

He shook his head and chuckled, snagging the last book as we both stood up. "So, which way then?"

I couldn't help but smirk at his seemingly indomitable enthusiasm. I nodded my head in the direction of my house and we started walking. Not a minute later, I discovered that he liked to talk. A lot. He didn't seem to mind that I stayed pretty much quiet, but every now and then he'd ask if I knew something or for my opinion on some matter. My short answers didn't deter him either. He'd just nod his head - or smile or 'hmm' or laugh - and keep going wherever his train of thought took us.

We were almost to my block when I realized that I was actually not bored to death by his chatter. I'd let out a few sniffs of amusement - even chuckled a few times. I wasn't used to having real conversations, or even talking past the superficial level, with anyone. I allowed a small smile to grace my lips when I knew he was otherwise occupied with checking both directions on the street we were about to cross. I pointed with my chin at my house when we finally turned the corner on my block.

"So...why are you carrying all these books? Got a big test in all of your classes on Monday or something?" He quirked an eyebrow at first the stack of books he was carrying, then cocked his head at me.

I thought on that for a moment, then chose to simply shrug and reply, "No."

"...So you just study a lot."

Well, yes actually, I did. "Indeed."

He rolled his eyes. "Well, you don't have to be so bastardly about it. Heh." He set down the books he was carrying on the porch as I reached to dig for my keys. And then he did something that made me rethink everything I'd previously planned. "Hey - if you're not too busy shoving your nose in those books - my birthday was on Wednesday, so I'm having some of my friends come over tomorrow to sing poorly and throw cake at me. You wanna come? I swear I'm a bad target," he added with a mischevious grin. "My mom's an awesome cook, too."

I stared at him blankly for a few seconds, my key halfway to the deadbolt. Did he just...? "Um..." was the only thing that seemed capable of coming out of my mouth, though.

If I wasn't so good at reading people(or hadn't been staring so hard), I might've missed the tiny flash of disappointment in his eyes before he brightened back up. "Hey, no worries, I understand if you wanna study and all. No biggie. But, hey," he turned to tear a scrap off of something in his backpack and quickly jotted something on it before sticking it under the cover of the topmost book of my pile, "if you change your mind, you're more than welcome. There's my number just in case, so I can give you directions and let my parents know that someone else is coming. It'll be fun! Promise!" He was practically bouncing in anticipation.

"Uh...yeah. I'll think about it." I don't think I'd ever been so inarticulate in my life before that point. Then again, I hadn't been invited to a birthday party - let alone any party - since third grade, when it was still half-customary to invite your whole class. So, needless to say, I was a wee bit at a loss for words. Good use those two dictionaries went to. Not that I thought any of it would matter anyway.

"Right then, see ya!" he called as he bounced down my porch steps, waving. I saw him stop suddenly a few feet down my street and tilt his head. I was half nervous he was going to take the number back because of my lack of interest when I saw him bound back towards my house. "Hey," he called from halfway back up the steps, "if you don't want me to just keep calling you bastard, might be a good idea to tell me your name. Would help if you do call tomorrow, having a clue who you are."

I seemed to be doing quite a bit of staring that day, and that instance was no different. After a few awkward seconds I cleared my throat. "Sasuke Uchiha."

"Ah, cool cool. I'm Naruto Uzumaki, so you know who to ask for." He gave me a lop-sided grin as a way of making fun of both of us for not asking sooner. It did annoy me a little that we'd walked and talked for almost forty-five minutes without even thinking of asking who the Hell the other person was.

I nodded and he once again rushed off my porch and towards his own home, waving behind him for a few houses and going back in the same direction we'd just come. I waited, frozen to the spot, until he turned the corner; then unlocked my door and walked inside.

Earlier I had planned out exactly what I was going to do that evening, and without thinking I began my preparations. My mother wouldn't be home until six, and my father no earlier than eight. My older brother Itachi lived on his university's campus, but despite the fact that sometimes he came home on the weekends to visit the family, I knew he'd be out partying tonight. I organized my books on my desk and cleaned up my room. The books and calculator that belonged to the school were set off to one side, my handful of personal books organized on the shelving. I glared at my bed for a moment, then dug out the handful of porn magazines that I kept tucked under the mattress, all the way towards the wall. I scowled at them, purposefully ignoring that I'd actually looked through them on occasion and instead thinking of how embarrassed I'd been when Itachi had tossed them at me with an evil smirk when he'd turned eighteen and was old enough to buy them. Kisame, his best friend, had laughed at me for blushing.

I walked out of my room and to my brother's and tossed the magazines messily on his nice, neat comforter. I was glad to at least get one last smirk at him for that, though he couldn't see it.

I went over my mental checklist as I finished my preparations. Everything was tidy and easy to get to. No one would have any trouble disassembling my room. The correct stack of books could easily be returned to the school by my parents. Why? Because I wasn't going to need them. I wasn't going back to school again. Not that I was dropping out, or graduating early as my brother had. Of course not, I thought to myself as I idly flipped through some of the pages of the nearest book. It's not as worthwhile for me to do so. Nothing is, that's wh- It was then that a tiny piece of paper fancied to flutter out from inside the book and land in front of me, blank. I stared at it for a moment in confusion, then snatched it up and turned it over...to find a happy face with whiskers and a phone number.

Oh yeah. That.

I don't know how long I sat in my desk chair and stared at the simple little paper in my hand, concentrating hard on it yet not even really seeing it. The implications of those stark, uncomplicated pencil lines gave me a weird feeling that I just couldn't shake. My mindset was all thrown off, so even with my preparations complete I couldn't quite continue. I decided to take a shower to clear my head.

All through the shower I thought of nothing. Just the methodical steps of washing my hair and body like I normally did. I walked out of my bathroom feeling a bit better, but now somewhat jittery. I looked over my room, took a deep breath- and then my stomach lurched as my eyes drifted across my desktop and the tiny scrap of paper resting on it.

I decided that since I didn't eat when I got home like I normally did, I must just be hungry. It wouldn't really matter - and I'd clean up after myself - but I might as well be comfortable.

I ate in the silence of the austere, empty kitchen. Maybe it was that awkward feeling I was having, since the kitchen always seemed perfectly normal before. My whole house seemed darker than usual, for that matter, despite the fact that I'd turned on as many lights as I usually did.

I shrugged it off. It didn't really matter. In fact, I should probably turn off all those lights so I don't waste electricity, I thought inattentively. After I rounded the house shutting off all the lights except the front entry light, I climbed the stairs to my room once again.

Earlier that day I'd been so set in my plan. I hadn't thought anything could veer me from my path. I'd been thinking of this and planning it for months until I was ready. Something that day had clicked in my head and said I was ready. But right then, standing in my doorway and staring a what should have been an insignificant, torn corner of notebook paper lying so innocently on my desk, I paused. I hesitated. And I felt afraid. And a little angry too.

I strode over to the desk and grabbed the slip of paper, wanting to toss it in my wastebasket and be done with it. But I didn't. Instead, I walked over and sat on my bed, scooting backwards so my back was against the wall. I drew one knee up so I could rest my arm on it and study the paper in my hand.

I found amusement in the fact that the smiley face had whiskers and a big stupid grin, just like the odd markings and grin plastered on its artist's face. I tried so hard to figure out what it was about the paper that was so special, turning it over and flicking it this way and that in an attempt to decipher just how it could throw me off so thoroughly. I honestly have no idea how long I sat like that - staring, questioning, and finding no answer.

But then I heard a car in the driveway, snapping me out of my thoughts. I glanced at the clock and then out my window. It was 6:02 and my mother was home. I cursed myself for my lost opportunity, crunching the scrap in my hand as I crawled off my bed and lumbered down the stairs to fall into the normal evening routine of my household.

As usual, I chatted politely with my mother and pretended enthusiasm about school as she cooked dinner, then ate dinner with my parents, did the dishes, and announced that I was heading upstairs to study until I wanted to go to bed. My mother warned me not to stay up too late and I agreed. I wasn't planning on it anyway.

My parents were home now, but they wouldn't come bother me about anything until the morning. I could proceed with my plans accordingly now with no interruptions. As I reached in my pockets to empty them as was my custom before flopping on my bed, I heard a crinkle as my fingers touched paper. I grimaced and pulled out the scrap of paper with his number on it and looked at it once again.

I stared at it for a few moments more before giving up - tossing it on my desk, getting undressed, and crawling into bed to go to sleep early.

Apparently, my plans would have to wait.