Paper Notes

Summary: As Konoha dresses itself fully in red, there is more red in the scene that it should, with a certain redhead invading Naruto's way. Together they engage into a sweet friendship through their own way of speaking - paper notes. GaaNaru fluff.

Disclaimer: Own Naruto characters, places and stuff - do not - Masashi Kishimoto does. Own the plot of this story and original places - I do. If it sounds too similar to your story or some you've read, please tell me. The lyrics in the beginning come from 'Your Song', by Elton John/Moulin Rouge Soundtrack - I've listened to the soundtrack one, it's truly beautiful.

Some Notes: Hey there! This is my first Naruto-versed fic!

First of, I am fully aware that I need to update Trading Hearts For Love, but I am an impasse of a person and I chose to write this first. And in any way, I will rewrite that fic and my other as well, since I believe my writing style has gotten much better and matured a lot. (And I'm a big fat liar)

And GaaNaruGaa is a pairing of which I've gotten fond of in the past months, big thanks to my sister. This idea was born from a little insignificant epiphany of remembering places where I've been - and later I came to discover it was Madrid influences - and everyday life in Naruto's world. And this was born - after all that epiphany wasn't that insignificant.

Yes, I'll be working on this until it is over; it is a short fic, 4 chapters total. Please don't kill me. ;-;

A special thanks goes to my dear beta kathlaida-princess and other people who motivated me. Oh, and a warning, your brain might explode with the overload of time exposed to this; but enjoy anyway.

H-a-p-p-y reading!

Chapter o1: Which Is About A Meeting And A Rather Lugubrious Boy

"So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do

You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue

Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean

Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind

That I put down in words

How wonderful life is, now you're in the world"

Autumn was coming.

It was indeed a nice Autumn beginning. Konoha, city known for its flourishing trees - a surprise in such a developed space - and good disposition of its inhabitants - generally -, was raising and strengthening its defenses against the cold breeze that came with that time of the year, dressing itself fully in orange, red, yellow, to make up for the following emptiness of colors in the cold season. As usual, the streets were filled with people walking in a calm - or sometimes running and even hopping - pace, attending to whichever they had to do; the city was blossoming with life, even if the sky was getting pink already. It was truly beautiful.

Konoha was an ancient city, so ancient that it could be characterized by the ancient rituals that marked its landscape, mocking the invisible line that was usually traced in people's minds - that line which divided the now from the then -, erasing it and mixing those two substances into something indescribable. That was the case of the row of faces embodied in the mountains that partially embraced the city, a mark and count of great rulers of the city - being only a couple faces relatively recent, because now that everything was peaceful the opportunity to see a great leader being born was little. There were other time marks - the large tree in the centre of the large city, holding many stories in its old, wise branches, like green paper notes, and the old gates to the city, with the symbol of 'retreat' written on gold in red, meaning the city was a safe harbor.

Other than that, there wasn't much to say about the city, it was your average modern place - streets, buildings, people walking along the streets -, but at the same time, unique, because there were no signs of pollution, traffic nor problems that could affect the population's well being.

That city was a treasure chest of life.

A rather violent shake of one of the buses that crossed the city at that time, and the whiskered blonde young man was dragged in its movement, seeing himself being rather uncomfortably pressed against a mass of people. Not that he really minded the chaotic bumping - actually, he liked the swaying of the bus and smiled like a boy being offered candy whenever the bus engaged him into its braking, accelerating and turning around in the streets -, but he could sense that his opinion wasn't universal - nowhere near it.

The only thing that could make him uncomfortable was the warm setting inside the bus - and instead of warm setting, 'brain melting temperature' should be read -, because even if Autumn was coming, the heat was holding onto the vibrant setting of the city. And Naruto was never too sensitive when it came to temperature matters, but feeling cold drops of sweat trailing their way down his back or caressing the curves of his forehead, cheekbones and jaw he knew that cooling down was a priority.

So he decided to get closer to the cool metal of the bus's surface and closed his eyes, sighing at the refreshing feeling of the metal against his back through the thin fabric of his clothing - an orange hooded short sleeved shirt and black khaki pants -, not actually caring about his surroundings. Unconsciously, his hand moved itself to his messenger bag's inside, cupping around until a fresh cylinder was found. He took it from the bag and took the blue cap from the bottle, taking its sinfully fresh content to his mouth.

Once he finished his cooling activities, he realized that the bus was arriving at the stop he should get off, and quickly put the bottle in the bag and walked, swaying with the bus, in direction of the door.

Another rather violent shake of the bus, and it stopped while the door slid to the side to leave a space for passengers to enter or get out as they wished. Naruto moved himself out of the road and into the street at a half-walking, half-running pace, feeling lighter at the sight that - finally - he was there.

The place where he was heading to was known to be one of Konoha's busiest places - the station. It was indeed a station of all sorts, serving the city as a connection point, there all public transportations the city provided could be found - bus station, train railings and respective stations, a subway entrance and several taxis could be found waiting for someone to use them. The building held a pleasant and harmonious design, something which stretched to most buildings around it. The station sat in front of a large plaza, crossed by a road exclusive to only buses and taxis, in the middle of it stood a long post with a large clock on it, surrounded by a fountain which kept splashing water away.

He knew he was lucky to be able to have a - shared - apartment in the centre of the city, very close to the main bus station - joint with railing system for trains and the city's subway -, that meant that if he felt too tired to walk home from classes he could always catch the bus and go almost directly to his home. And more, the apartment was close to Konoha's best hangout places - the large park where the city's guardian tree stood and some shopping points.

Offering a radiant smile to whoever sent a look in his direction, Naruto unpinned his orange-ish, brown-ish sunglasses from the v-neck of his shirt and unfolded them to put them above his nose - where they should be. Taking a look around the front of the station building, he could tell from the clock in the tower that he was somewhat late, so he began walking in direction of the small restaurant where he was supposed to meet his group.

(Just as he was done with classes he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket to the loud and rather cheerful melody of 'Caramelldansen', giving him the cue that someone was calling him. While shoving his hand in his pocket to take out his phone took him a couple seconds, struggling to open it and click on the green button took him more time than it was required, leaving the female voice on the other side of the line somehow annoyed at him.

"Naruto, I was wondering what took you so long to answer the phone," Sakura said, sounding just a little bit amused. "You know, your birthday is just in a couple weeks, so I was wondering if the gang could join today and hang out, or something like that?"

Naruto's eyebrow twitched at that. He knew his eighteenth birthday was coming - the mark of his entrance into adult life -, but it wasn't even October yet, it was too early. "You know my birthday is just in a couple weeks, right? But yeah, let's go all together," Naruto half-mumbled, half-yelled to his phone.

"Yes, Naruto, I'm not as stupid as you are," Sakura pointed out rather incisively, "This won't be about your birthday, in any way, it is just something to catch their attention, okay?"

"Yes, Sakura...", and as he sheepishly mumbled that a low sound of cheering could be heard from Sakura's side of the conversation.

"Okay then, meet us at your favorite in an hour, okay?" She sounded cheerful on the other side.

It was good, Naruto thought, at least he was going to have the opportunity to eat a nice warm bowl of ramen and bug someone else to pay it for him, since his birthday was the excuse for them all to be together, the big gang of thirteen. By the gang, both Naruto and Sakura understood that they were talking about the big group formed while they still were a class in their Senior year of high school, with four others who were just a year older than them.

So, before Naruto hopped on the bus to get to their meeting point he found himself with some time to burn, and he spent it doing nothing else than hanging around - which, by itself, meant doing nothing.)

And there he was, late to the supposedly dinner of his birthday. No one would mind that, though, he was frequently late for that kind of meetings, and everyone always waited attentively for him - even if there were some not-so-friendly looks when he met up with them.

The restaurant was just on the other side of the plaza, and he was just by the fountain and the clock. He threw a glance at the pink sky for a few moments, enough time to give birth to a succession of happenings that would change him.

As he looked down to the place where he was walking he could spot a figure - dressing in a black short sleeved shirt and black pants that slightly lined his legs, and black shoes as well -, dressing in just as black as he was, looking as melancholic as he was, that person could only be his best friend and roommate. What happened was that the figure bumped against him, throwing them and whatever the other held in his hands to the ground. Naruto fell on his hands and feet in a completely uncomfortable position to stop himself from falling on his back and butt. In front of him, the other male didn't have the same luck as him, falling on his torso.

As Naruto made an effort to raise himself, he was able to examine the other closely. At this point, there was no way he could mistake him with the other. This male seemed to be around his age, he displayed an elegant silhouette, pale, ivory skin that seemed to be soft to the touch - all of those that were common to his friend -, but then there was something that made him stand apart from everyone he knew. Kneeling himself on the ground and preparing himself to get on his feet, he was left in a dumbfounded state, as if he was transported into another dimension where there were no surroundings - just them. He eyed him while in that state, and the other responded, looking right into his eyes, giving Naruto a chance to absorb all of him - his short and vermillion hair, twisted in some curls here and there, a pair of blue eyes (or were they green?), with black rings around them, a pair of small, delicate lips. Looking closely, some red traces could be noticed in his forehead, through some locks of hair, like a tattoo.

His eyes - tinted with a color he couldn't define - looked at him with an intensity he couldn't dream to be possible, and what affected him the most was the melancholy imposed in them that seemed to pierce, drill, a hole in Naruto's head that blocked the passage of any coherent thought.

Despite all the delicate and frail elements of his appearance he didn't look like a female at all, he was androgynous - he was an angel.

After being able to observe and memorize all of this boy, the world woke up from its temporary state of slumber - 'Too soon, too soon', Naruto would think, getting on his feet and walking closer to the redhead, poking out a hand at the boy trying to get up and taking a deep breath. Naruto was cursing himself for getting that dumbfounded at seeing that stranger.

"I-I-I'm so sorry! Are you hurt?", Naruto found himself asking those words for lack of better expression, and because his brain still felt the effects of what could be compared to being ran over by a horde of camels.

The redhead's eyes opened wide, looking at him. "No... It was nothing, I'm sorry," he requested rather shyly, while getting up on his own after looking at Naruto's hand and not taking it.

Naruto ignored the fact that the stranger didn't accept his help. 'He's shy, that's all,' Naruto thought to himself, while helping him catching the stuff that fell in a circle around them where no one stepped in. He could notice the other catching a bag that seemed to be appropriate to contain some sort of musical instrument - a guitar or something like that -, some papers and another bag, this suited to transport traveling stuff. This boy was just a tourist.

The other male stood in front of him and looked around before piercing his eyes on his. He stood at the distance of nothing more than an arm away - Naruto just felt like shortening the distance to zero.

"Do you know where the Konoha Art Institute is?", he asked in a rough but still soft and melodious voice that struck Naruto with its melancholy.

The blonde's brain just froze, or engaged into combustion, there was no way he could tell for sure.

He knew that there was some sort of Art Festival going on Konoha that Autumn season - he heard about it from one of his friends -, but he never found himself very interested in that but for the fact that Sai was taking part of it as one of Konoha's best artists, Sai, who was part of the institute which location Naruto never seemed to be able to save in his mind.

Naruto's inner self just felt like drowning himself on the fountain not too far away from them for not being able to give him an answer, so he shrugged. "I'm sorry, but I don't," Naruto replied in a half-mumbling, half-yelling tone, joined with a sheepish smile, "You could ask me where every place is, but the Institute? I can't really help."

The place where there were no eyebrows to bee seen contracted itself in such way that in a case that he'd actually have noticeable eyebrows, they would be frowning. "Don't worry, I can ask someone else," it was the redhead's sole reply.

And then he was gone.

Naruto looked at his feet to find that there was a black notebook with a white musical note printed on it. Naruto lowered himself so he could grab it, and when on his full height, he opened the notebook to find a complex composition of symbols he could only identify as being musical notes from some arduous work, judging by the scribbles around the page. The whiskered blonde figured it was the stranger's. Desperate to be able to give it back to him - and to engage interaction with him -, Naruto's head twisted around his neck looking for the boy. He found him with other two people who were slightly taller than him and wore brighter colors. He found him too far away for his reach.

He decided to keep the notebook, though. He had a feeling he should keep it. Maybe he should just learn the location of the damn institute for once and just give it back to him - whatever it was, the notebook should be important to him. Maybe that was a sign that Naruto should meet him again...? Naruto nodded to apparently no one and put the notebook in his messenger bag with a special care and a smile on his lips. In the movement of turning his eyes again to the plaza he spotted the clock, and noticed he was already late.

Right, he should get going.

Looking again at the crowd around him - walking plainly as if that meeting happened in another dimension - he could spot another rather melancholic figure in the middle of the walking colorful blurs, another one just as dark as the one he had just talked to, but he wasn't him. There was no thump, there was no joy, there was no mysterious tingling in his brain - so there was no way he could be the lost man. But, in any way, it still was the one he had mistaken the musician for. It was good, though, after all he wasn't the only one to be late for the meeting.

"Sasuke! Wait for me!", Naruto requested, now in a full yelling volume.

He found the raven haired flinching at hearing him scream as loud as he did, especially screaming his name in the middle of the crowd, but he shouldn't be much annoyed with the blonde, or else he wouldn't stop, spin on his heels and wait for him - even if his glare was one that told Naruto to walk quicker. Sasuke wasn't kind enough to wait it out until Naruto was by his side; he began walking in the direction of where they were going to when Naruto was a couple meters away from him.

"You animal, you are late," Sasuke said in his usual emotionless voice. Not that it mattered to Naruto - the mutual name calling was constant in their relationship and came to transform itself into something like calling the other a loving nickname - he was used to Sasuke's anti social tendencies.

"Well, you are just as late, you moron," Naruto replied in a friendly grunt. It wasn't like the other was going to listen to him all of a sudden.

And as expected he got no reply from Sasuke. It seemed that whenever something didn't matter - or wasn't convenient - to him he chose the path of silence. And both of them knew that Sasuke Uchiha, to look just as good as he was known for, spent a considerable amount of time on his person. Not that it was all that important - he'd look good as well without special care -, Naruto admitted it sometimes, in an almost gay fashion. It wasn't weird, though - more than friends, they were the brother the other didn't have. It would feel like incest.

It took them only a few minutes to get to the restaurant, with Naruto enthusiastically speaking about his day - which was good - and about the boy he had just met. What was surprising was how Sasuke listened to all of it, patiently, and without a single comment - he had had a good day as well.

Finally, they got to the small building which held a rivalry with the large, tall buildings around it.

It was a small restaurant, accessible by going up a small flight of stairs that lead to some sort of front balcony, with walls of dark wood and floor in equal dark wood. It had no actual entrance door, but three flaps of fabric with some Japanese symbols Naruto couldn't understand even with his knack for learning the Japanese language. Other than that, it had large windows and two floors - ground floor, where the kitchen, eating area, entrance and both male and female bathrooms were, and another eating area, destined to large groups, in the second floor. The things Naruto liked the most about Ichiraku's were the open kitchen (letting a mouthwatering aroma invade the by passer's nostrils) and the delicious ramen which was cooked there, along with other excellent oriental treats.

There, at Ichiraku's, they found the group waiting for them with not so satisfied looks upon their faces, and Sakura extended her left wrist at them and showed them the time from her watch - they were very late -, followed by shoving a punch into Naruto's face before even asking for a plausible answer - and it wasn't like Naruto was going to tell her the events with the redhead -, then, the pink haired female turned to Sasuke in search for an answer, to which Sasuke shrugged his shoulders with an indifferent gaze and walked past her.

Of course, the rest of the group was much more understanding.

Both Hinata and Kiba, who seemed to be her boyfriend of all sorts, got closer to Naruto to check if the blonde was alright after the blow he had endured - Hinata's courtesy. Both of them were on the group from the start. Kiba, the brown haired guy with red tattoos on his cheeks, always with his large white dog, Akamaru, was some sort of rival for Naruto from the beginning, but despite all the loudness of both they had come to develop some sort of friendship.

Hinata was always friendlier towards Naruto than her boyfriend; she was always a good friend of Kiba, and maybe the only one with whom Kiba cared about being sensitive, she had loved Naruto, and Naruto took knowledge of that, but after giving her the honest reply that he didn't reciprocate her feelings, she seemed happy nonetheless, and thanked Naruto for helping her overcome her self confidence problems.

Shino was close to Kiba and Hinata. He was the tallest and the darkest of the group, with a thick, curly, big and black sort of afro hair. Naruto never knew much about him, just enough to say they were friends who could count on each other, just that Shino had the weird habit of wearing some sort of scarf that covered his lower face and annoyed the hell out of his friends. Shino was a kind guy, though.

Sitting on the railing in front of Ichiraku's, the trio made up of Chouji, Ino and Shikamaru could be found. Shikamaru, out of everyone, seemed to be some sort of friend of Naruto's from the start - even when Naruto was the kid from the class to whom no one spoke -, Shikamaru was the lazy genius mind from the group; his common interests with Naruto included doing nothing. Chouji was Shikamaru's buddy for all of time - no one could tear their friendship apart -, he was the guy with the fitness problems whom Naruto called fatty once - an experience not to be repeated -, but Chouji seemed to be slowly lose some weight, but still keeping his sweet chubby frame.

Ino was the only girl of the group and, surprisingly, Chouji's girlfriend. Ino maintained a rivalry with Sakura that crossed the borders of mental health, just along with her maniac desire to keep on being thin - maybe that was why her relationship with her boyfriend was so good.

By the stairs an excited Lee could be found. Lee must be the most persistent person Naruto had ever met, especially in matters that touched his dear Sakura - which was a common interest between him and Naruto - and the 'youth' in everyone's hearts. Lee was never part of the original group, along with Neji and Tenten, who were a year older than Naruto, but they had known each other for a long time, even when Lee was still under the wing of some youthful man who had a strange resemblance with him.

Not so attentively listening to Lee were Neji and Tenten.

Neji was the man above average in everything - Sasuke, a year older - and was gifted with a bright personality in a gorgeous body. It was because of Neji that Naruto came to get along with those three, since Neji was something like a bully to Hinata in his early days - the Hyuuga cousins weren't on good terms and Naruto made sure to correct it.

Tenten seemed to be a cute girl and all, with her two buns from which came two tiny braids, and kind face - it was a lie. Tenten was one of the most fearsome girls to be met and had enough strength to handle the two men - necessary measures when being around Lee and Neji at the same time.

Both Neji and Tenten weren't giving much attention to Lee, choosing instead to hold each other in an embrace.

Half hidden under the shadow of the place, both Sasuke and Sai could be found with their elbows resting on the railing of the platform, idly talking about what seemed to be nothing and everything. Sasuke was the object for Naruto to compete with - a friend and a brother, a distant one even if one of the first -, if one of them excelled at something, the other did as well. Sasuke was the one who agreed to move in with him and become officially a young man of eighteen with two houses - the family one, unused, which Naruto knew to be kept to one day be filled with children who would restore the glory of the Uchiha family, and the apartment where he actually lived.

Sai, on the other hand, was the group's newest addition. The artist who had no emotions and annoyed the hell out of Naruto by calling him 'Dickless', giving the worst possible nicknames to everyone and fake smiles around. Some time of interaction made them discover that Sai was just someone who had lost his emotions and wanted to regain them and create what he called 'bonds'. After some time - comments on penis sizes aside -, the dark eyed artist proved to be a caring friend for them, even if he had a special touch at saying uncomfortable truth or facts - Sai was completely and brutally honest and saw no need to coat his words - but he never meant harm to anyone.

Against all odds, Sasuke and Sai became something of an item along time. Naruto discovered it the worst way, one day when walking happily into his apartment and finding them on the couch having a rather intimate moment - at first, Naruto wanted to think that one of them had choked on something and the other was trying to retrieve it with his own tongue. Although, after some moments of having Sasuke trying to calm Naruto down, sitting him on the couch and having Sai giving him a glass of water, Naruto could accept the truth with some maturity and after some time it only seemed natural - gay or not, they were the perfect fit for each other -, Sasuke was through with people lying to him, and Sai was brutally honest, neither of them wanted someone too touchy feely and both were social and emotionally awkward, leaving them space to grow with each other.

At the beginning it could only be the need to have someone, but with some time it had developed into something more and they found themselves dependent on each other. There was only the doubt of how to restore the Uchiha family, being Sasuke gay and all, but it was put down after some time.

Still rubbing his hurt cheek, Naruto followed the large group inside the small restaurant and found himself beginning the slow fall for the temptation of the soft food aroma.

Inside there weren't many people to be seen, and so they were greeted rather cheerfully by the host and chef of the place who told them to go upstairs where they already had a table ready for the thirteen people - Sakura's hand, since she was the only one who had sensibility enough to do it ahead of time. Naruto found himself sitting between Sakura and Sai and in front of Chouji. Quickly the booklets with the menus were brought to them, but Naruto didn't find the need to check it - he knew what to eat since Sakura told him the place where they were going to.

After the orders of the group were done - thing that took them a long time since Chouji was always getting second thoughts on his choice, and it was needed a great effort from both Ino and Shikamaru to conciliate their food choices with the spiral-cheeked brunette -, interesting conversations were bound to happen around in the table. Naruto talked with Sakura the way he usually would - flattering and at the same time simply - because Sakura was his dear Sakura, with or without phenomenal bone crushing strength. He didn't care to turn himself to his other side; he knew Sai would be just too busy handling his sweetheart.

Naruto began a fight to see who could eat more - he or Chouji - and both put on some money on it with a scary glow of competition in their eyes, leaving Ino pretty much skeptical about a good end to that night and having some good moments with her boyfriend. While waiting for the food to come Naruto kept nagging Sakura to see if she would pay his dinner - process which ended in good terms for Naruto.

Finally, when the food came, Naruto discovered that he had been hungry all along, since his incident with the strange with the red hair. Licking his lips in preparation for what's to come while sending a defiant glare to Chouji, and then to his serving of hot ramen, he grabbed his chopsticks and got them ready for the meal.

"Itadakimasu," Naruto mumbled softly to no one in particular, giving beginning to the dinner.

In an Autumn whim, the night had come sooner than usual, and even if the group was leaving the restaurant at the relatively early hour of twenty two, it seemed as if night had fallen for a long time then.

At that point, Naruto was a happy Naruto - because a happy Naruto could be easily obtained through the offering of a bowl of ramen for free -, because he had won the battle against Chouji - because Ino's glares at her boyfriend told Naruto that if Chouji continued with that nonsense he'd be in trouble - and Sakura paid for his ramen and dessert. So he was smiley and jumpy and touchy just like Lee who was now attempting to drag as many people as he could into some night time jogging to 'keep the youthful shape intact and beautiful even after a big dinner'.

But the best part of the evening had already passed - Shikamaru almost falling asleep on his bowl of soup and strands of ramen past flying around aside - and now people considered going different ways - it was the cue it was the hour of the couples -, hinting that Sasuke would not sleep at his apartment that night. Not that he really wanted Sasuke spending the night at their apartment like that - moans, growls and happy laughter weren't Naruto's cup of tea, maybe the laughing thing was, but not like that.

Neji and Tenten had already declared their goodbyes and set on their own to their own houses. Tenten lived on the towns suburbs and it was Neji's ritual to take her home before he headed to his own. So they caught the bus and headed on their own. Sakura, being a close neighbor to Ino, was telling her she would go home now, that she had much homework to catch up on, and Ino complied, getting her goodbyes to her good friends in action.

And one by one, everyone began leaving in groups, and after a while of having a walk (which lead them to a park nearby the station and the plaza) and a conversation with Hinata, she kissed him on the cheek rather shyly, saying she had to go home with Kiba and Shino, leaving Naruto alone to go home on his own. After spending that while with Hinata, Naruto was left with a genuine smile on his lips at wondering how much she had gotten stronger and more secure on herself. She deserved it.

Slowly Naruto began walking his way to the place he had come to call home - nothing special, but still a place where to spend the night. It wasn't too far away from that park anyway, and besides, Naruto enjoyed walking around, even if he had no one to keep him company. In the streets filled with life of Konoha, despite the hour, he could always find some interesting sights on the way, and that was always something worth the effort of trying not to walk around blind - thing he would find himself doing often. It didn't take too long for him to get home, in a small count of ten minutes he was in front of the grey apartment door that hid the warm and cozy interior. While searching for the keys inside his bag he felt his fingers cup the notebook he knew to belong to the mysterious redhead.

And thinking of him made Naruto remember that he didn't even ask Sai to take him to the place where he knew the stranger to be.

His fingers finally clutched the keys and pulled them out of his bag with a radiant smile on his lips. Still smiling he put the key in the keyhole and twisted it so the door opened itself, showing him the way home. He walked into the apartment and seeing it was empty, he closed the door and idly walked into his bedroom through the door across the room. There he took the time to fully undress himself until he was wearing nothing but his orange boxers - because that was his idea of a pajama - and laid the clothing on the - unsurprisingly - also orange bean bag he used for most things - it amazed him how that old bean bag could have so many uses.

Then, he went to the bathroom to answer Nature's call, and when he got out of the bathroom, feeling unbelievably tired, he walked to his bed and laid under the covers and hugged his pillow until he fell asleep.

Sitting on the couch upside down like that - because according to Naruto, sitting with your back where your bottom should go and have your legs up so they are where your back should be, leaving your head hanging off the seat, is the one confortable way to seat -, he couldn't truly understand what he was doing, but still his fingers kept on mashing the buttons of the Playstation command without great effort. 'Triangle... Circle, circle, circle, circle. Circle!', and another enemy dropped dead inside the box he would call television screen.

The game he was playing was Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within, a game he excelled at even if he - and many people who played it - knew that the secret for a good battle was mashing buttons without planning ahead - he loved it. As the little man ran around the screen, and when Naruto found another enemy to beat in the same way, he heard the door to the bathroom open, showing some clouds of vapor on their way into the living room.

"You're going to start getting ready now, aren't you?", a stoic voice came to him and Naruto quickly paused the game and looked at his roommate's frame - or better, naked, hairless and well shaped legs -, not giving much attention to detail since Sasuke had just finished taking a long bath and just had a towel around his waist.

Three days had gone since the event that got the title of 'Fortunate Bumping Into a Stranger' and as soon as Naruto heard that Sasuke was going to meet up with Sai at the institute he knew it was his cue to follow his jumpy will and get into action - and Sasuke, after a while of whining, complied. Naruto had even prepared ground. After checking the notebook he caught from the ground - filled with musical notes he couldn't simply even try to decipher - he decided to rip a piece of paper from Sasuke's own neat notebook and write a quick note on it - quite simple, something like 'Hello, my name is Naruto! I'd like to know you better!' and some other words along - and tucked it in the notebook with hopes the redhead would read it.

"Yeah, right. Just wait a minute... But, please, cover yourself," Naruto took the hint and slowly twisted his body so he was sitting in a correct position to get up and walk into the bathroom while Sasuke walked to his room to get dressed.

The bathroom was provided with a large mirror and Naruto could check his bright appearance with it.

Looking closely to his face, some details of a grown and more mature Naruto were put into evidence. Because when Naruto was discarded into the lonely pile of cute boys at the age of twelve, the fact the eighteen-year-old Naruto would be just completely and totally delicious was thrown out the window and, since then, forgotten - hence the surprise coming from everyone when Naruto came back from a summer as a handsome young man. The characteristics that earned him the designation of the cute were still there - the beaming, toothy grin, the somewhat big and cerulean eyes and the more-ruffled-than-a-scared-to-death-kiwi-bird, golden hair -, but age handed him dandy good looking tools. His honey skin was still there, but for some time then he seemed to develop a few freckles in his upper nose area, shaped his round chin into a composition of angled sculptural strokes and gave him a neck that would make a vampire go into collapse. Thin, almost invisible trails of blond hair were beginning to invade his jaw line, giving him a rather charming appearance.

Naruto shoved his hands in his hair and gave it some adjustments to make it look better until it fulfilled the requirements to make him happy.

At the door of the bathroom he found Sasuke, who walked in and shoved a place by Naruto's side to give his appearance a couple final touches. Crossing his arms on his chest and giving a rather mocking smile permission to invade his lips, Naruto found watching Sasuke's reflection on the mirror very entertaining.

Looking at Sasuke most of Naruto could be found, but in a full opposite. Pale skin, onyx eyes and black hair in an impossible haircut - the 'Duckbutt', how Naruto would mockingly name it -, lips just pale enough to fill someone with the desire to punch them so they would flush some color, long, straight nose. Sasuke was taller than Naruto and had a body frame that could come across as bony - in his shoulders -, muscular and that which would remind of Michael Angelo's 'David'. While Naruto's male traits were developing, Sasuke's hair related hormones seemed to stop around the age of twelve - Naruto suspected it was the transvestite -, resulting in neither facial hair nor a single hair in his white legs. Of course, the personality of Sasuke was just what made his appearance a deceiving mask.

"Your Royal Princess, I believe you are already drop dead gorgeous," Naruto said sardonically with some jazz hands to mock Sasuke with his words.

Sasuke's sole reply was silent and it was armed with an elbow to hit Naruto's torso. Flinching to the side, Naruto almost fell off his feet, which earned a triumphant chuckle from the black haired one. Naruto sent him a glare before leaving the bathroom and walking into his bedroom to fetch the usual messenger bag with the notebook in it. After wrapping the strap of the bag around his shoulder he got out of his room to find Sasuke by the exit door.

The trip to the station, where they caught the subway that would take them to their destination, was marked by silence and Naruto feeling a tingling sensation wrecking his nerves - maybe he was just too excited about seeing this guy again. The time they spent in the subway wasn't as nice as it should have been. Going to work from their lunch break, many people invaded the subway, not that Naruto was bothered by that, but Sasuke - who found himself pulling his lean body as close to the wall of the transportation as possible - was, and Naruto could see him feeling as if his personal space was being invaded by all those strangers.

In the last part of the voyage in the subway there was a young woman with her hands clutching the handle of a baby trolley, where a tiny, pink baby could be found laying and looking at the surroundings with wide open eyes. The baby found Naruto something interesting to be looked at, so the baby directed his blue glare at the whiskered blonde. In return, Naruto found the baby just as interesting and was making happy and silly faces with cute sounds at the baby, who stretched his chubby hands at Naruto. Naruto could see Sasuke watching the scene with some disgust from the corner of his eye.

Their stop came and Naruto waved goodbye at the woman who smiled at him, looking truly grateful, and Sasuke followed Naruto when going outside the tube and making their way to the surface. After getting used to the sudden light invading their eyes, they continued their way.

Konoha Art Institute. It was a luminous building, contrasting with the brick made buildings around it, but still beautiful in their own way. It was a large building, with a shape resembling a coliseum; its outer walls were colored in white, but filled with broad, floor-to-ceiling windows. Around it was a large, lush green garden covered in fresh grass that seemed to be mown to a constant, neat height and regularly watered, some bushes cut in ornamental shapes, trees - with their upper shape cut to be completely round, which made Naruto whisper to Sasuke that he wanted a garden with those -, and there were even some sculptures and completely white stones spread all around.

Naruto followed Sasuke's footsteps into the building, twisting on his heels at some points where he saw something worth seeing more attentively. On the other hand, Sasuke didn't stop or waited for him even once, and the blonde was just sensitive enough to see the shadow of an almost smile crook its way into Sasuke's lips. Naruto hurried his pace to walk by his friend's side and together they entered the building.

Now inside, they could see the institute was build around a circular garden as well, accessible through the many glass doors. Inside the building was a reception desk on their right and a large glass panel with a list of all expositions and places written in black; there were two staircases that joined in one way near the ceiling and lead to the upper floors, however, there was a couple of panoramic elevators as well. Through the sides, the spaces where paintings, sculptures and whatnot were exposed and auditory rooms could be reached. Going around the glass and then forward, the enclosed garden could be reached.

"We're waiting for Sai in the garden," Sasuke informed in a stoic voice. Naruto listened to him and followed his footsteps by sound, not really looking at where he was going, but scoping the flow of people that were passing by, hoping the redhead was passing by as well.

Sasuke got outside first and was followed by Naruto. The space was similar to the other in every aspect except for the garden benches that were white cubes and the garden gnome that was not a gnome, being taller than the average person - it seemed to interest Naruto, since the whole time they were sitting on a bench waiting for Sai to come Naruto kept looking at the little-big man.

While Naruto was lying comfortably on the bench, Sasuke was sitting with his elbows on his knees and looking around from time to time, keeping an altogether calm and stoic appearance - if it wasn't for the tapping feet on the ground. After a few minutes that seemed to be too many hours of thoroughly inspecting everyone that came across Naruto, Sai appeared and stopped in front of them, looking rather refreshed.

"I'm sorry I'm late," Sai said, bobbing his head to the side.

It seemed as if his apologies had been accepted, since Sasuke got on his feet and took a step in direction of Sai, grabbing his elbows and getting even closer to him. "Penis," Sai said in a low tone. "Penis," Sasuke complied.

Naruto watched the rest of the scene with disgust to see his two male friends kissing in front of him, but there were some hints of thinking it was adorable to see Sasuke in love. Naruto watched as Sasuke's hands were quick to travel from Sai's elbows, one to grab his shoulder in an I-need-you way, and the other to the back of the artist's head, pulling them into a deep mouth-rape; however, Sai was more daring to have his hands snaking around his almost twin's waist to slip into the back pockets of Sasuke's pants.

And that would be when, tired of seeing it and feeling sick, Naruto looked around and noticed the place had been invaded by a red cloud, a blond cloud and a brown cloud, all together. And that time there was a thump, there was joy, there was the mysterious tingling in his brain. It had to be him.

"Sai," Naruto called somehow loudly, since the head that poked from behind Sasuke's neck seemed startled at the sudden calling of his name.

"What now?" Sai asked in a monotone, getting freed from Sasuke's arms and sitting on the bench where Naruto was.

In return, Naruto pointed his finger - certainly not a discrete move - in direction of the redhead as in a way of someone who wants information and won't leave without getting what they want. It seemed that the trio had found a bench to sit on. "Who is he?" he asked him - it was more like a request, despite the interrogative tone used.

"Him?" Sai asked, sounding insecure if the redhead was really who the blonde was asking for. Naruto nodded while Sasuke made himself comfortable next to Sai. The artist seemed to accept it and went on, "His name is Gaara. The tall brown haired guy is Kankurou and the girl with the weird haircut is Temari. They are siblings. They come from Suna, you know, in the desert?"

Naruto nodded in response and made sure to hear all of it.

"They just became orphans not long ago," Sai said turning to Naruto, knowing it would be something directed at him, since Naruto himself was an orphan; then Sai went on, "But they weren't on good terms with their father, at least the guy you asked about wasn't. In any way, he is something like a mute, I haven seen him talk only once or twice in these three days he's been here. He always looks sad."

"Gaara? It says here he plays the violin," Sasuke told them out of the blue while reading a small, black pamphlet that came from the unknown, "And it says he's pretty good at it."

"He is," Sai complied, "I only heard him play once, but he was good... Wait, wasn't that in..."

"...The back pocket of your pants? Yes, it was, I took it," Sasuke completed.

"Right," Sai seemed to lose what he was going to say, "In any way, it seems that he is in trouble, since he came here to represent his city with an amazing melody, they say. But he lost the notebook where he had it written down, and now he's having trouble remaking something as good."

Naruto's heart sank at hearing that. He could never guess the importance of that notebook to the redhead, nor the things in him that interested Naruto. Gaara, it was a nice name for someone who certainly was as nice. He felt like getting up and walking to the redhead and giving him what was truly his.

"Temari is a dancer and Kankurou works with puppet shows. They always have their work with a common theme to the three. This year's theme is 'Sandman'," Sasuke informed them, still reading.

"Okay, you are reading way too much, you moron," Naruto mocked and clutched the paper from Sasuke's hands, who gladly presented him with a glare that could easily throw poisoned daggers at the blonde.

Naruto chose to conveniently ignore that detail and begin reading the paper to see the information Sasuke had just thrown at them, but then, deciding to trust his friend - not completely trusting, but being too lazy to read -, Naruto decided to check the images instead. He found a picture of the redhead and of his siblings. Now it was the first time he could actually notice any detail in the other two's faces. The tall guy, Kankurou, wasn't much like his little brother - he was completely different -, he was provided with a strong jaw line, small, dark eyes and spiked brown hair. On the other hand, Gaara was more like their older sister, Temari. She had a soft face, blond hair in four ponytails and turquoise eyes - which told Naruto she was a girl with an attitude, like Tenten or his Sakura.

He looked at the other two, who were talking about Sasuke and art - that was because somehow the man who couldn't produce any form of art became a muse and a model -, it was more like Sai was the one talking and Sasuke listening and nodding to let the other know he still was alive. In any way, those weren't Naruto's favorite subjects (not anywhere near it), so he put the pamphlet on the bench and looked around and spotted the desert group leaving the space - but Gaara was taking long, while his siblings were already getting up.

Naruto was very much aware of Sai telling him, "Hey, Dickless, please don't do your stuff in my place. You know I find it amusing, but not there." The blond still felt a lump on his throat at hearing, "You animal, you do anything stupid and I'll make you a full fledged dickless," as Sasuke warned him with a predatory smile. He seemed to let those old warnings out the window.

He looked again at the other two and then at the other three and he knew it was his moment.

Without any form of coherent thought, the whiskered young man got up from the bench and quickly made his way to the redhead, who was already getting up, leaving the other two ahead walking away from their sibling. The redhead was already beginning to walk away, and the blonde quickened his pace.

At the distance of only an arm away Naruto - almost desperately - stretched his hand to curl its fingers around the incredibly bony elbow of the redhead. "Wait," Naruto requested in a quite pleading voice.

On the other hand, the redhead stopped in his tracks and almost tripped on his own feet.

Green - or blue - eyes met with Naruto's own blue eyes.

If at the distance of an arm all those details could be noticed, Naruto wished to discover at the distance of a breath. That close, he could see the emotions of doubt and melancholy in the eyes of the redhead. That close, he could decipher the red traces in his forehead that had been hid from sight in their first encounter - the kanji of 'ai' -, that close, he could touch with his eyes the smooth surface of Gaara's skin.

"Gaara," Naruto called again.

"Excuse me?" The redhead asked him in a calm voice, "Do I know you...?"

Naruto nodded and smiled at him - even if inside he was sad that the redhead didn't associate the memories of the plaza to him -, giving him a good reply, "Do you need me to recall a memory from you?"

"A name would be nicer."

"You don't know my name, but it is Naruto," The blonde informed him, taking his hand to his bag and taking the notebook from it with some ease. He watched with interest the face of the redhead brighten up when he saw the notebook that would save his participation in the festival. "I'm the guy that bumped with you at the plaza," Naruto continued, "the one who couldn't tell you where this place was. I noticed you forgot this and I asked my friend to bring me here with him."

"Thank you," Gaara sounded genuinely grateful, "and I'm sorry for giving you all this trouble..."

Naruto handed Gaara the book and vigorously shook his head, half-mumbling, half-yelling, "It was nothing!"

This earned a smile from the boy from the desert, who pointed something important, "Is that the guy who took you here?" He asked, pointing at Sasuke and Sai, more specifically at the latter, who was sending him a smile - Naruto didn't even want to watch the other. Naruto nodded. "Yeah, that's him!"

"Hum," Gaara mumbled as he saved the face in his memory for future reference.

"I... have to go," Gaara said, glancing sideways at his siblings, Naruto followed his line of sight and saw Kankurou and Temari who were standing not too far away from them, scowling at Gaara. He continued what he was saying, "Temari doesn't like to wait too much. It was... nice to meet you."

"Same here," Naruto replied with a broad smile as he watched Gaara walk to his siblings while he found himself walking to Sasuke and Sai, who seemed to be amused by Naruto's gesture.

In a matter of seconds he reached the place where the other two were sitting and stopped in front of them. Sasuke glanced at the place where he blonde and the violinist were just seconds ago, and asked, "Is he the guy you told me about?"

"He is," Naruto confirmed with a broad, crooked smile.

It was time to put the players into motion.

D'awwh. Finally chapter end.

Thanks for making it to this point alive! I'm really glad you did! And I'm sorry this took so long. ;-; My favorite things to write were the descriptions of characters and the baby scene in the subway. : D And next chapter is Gaara's chapter, so let's all enjoy!

Did you feel your brain writhing in your head? Did this torture you as much as if I was screeching a knife in a plate? Please tell me what you thought of this, it'll make me happy. :')

Red Riding Freak is about to end your suffering by leaving.