Are you tired of all the angst? Well, hail and welcome and thank the gods for you. Nothing but feel-good pieces here.
Hello, all. Has it been long enough yet?
Disclaimer: This chapter, and the others following, have nothing to do with my ownership of anyone and anything related to the Naruto franchise, mostly because I don't own it. I don't even have any plushies.
"A dedication ceremony?" Butter sizzled enticingly as the bread was dropped into the pan, followed by the spit and crackle of an egg. Neji poked it with his cooking chopsticks. "So you're reading a new book then?"
Across the kitchen, Gaara raised an eyebrow, his fingers drumming out a mindless rhythm on the paperback cover of his new purchase. "I resent the implication that I am easily swayed by other people's ideas. I am not."
"You, sir, are the reason we own a fondue pot." The dark-haired jounin sighed, delicately licking a cheese-covered spoon. "Pass the pepper, please. We have a new satellite dish, tiny terracotta bricks for my garden, three water filters, countless pickle jars and jam jars, a potter's wheel and a kiln on the way, and the guestroom is piled full of board games that only you, Naruto, and children below eight find enjoyable. This apartment grows smaller with every book you buy and every magazine cover you find shiny and colorful. You were saying?"
Gaara frowned. "And yet you watch cooking shows every afternoon. These are merely things, Hyuuga, things that I know you also enjoy secretly. A dedication, on the other hand, is an event. I recall your family loving events. Like Hanabi's coming-of-age ceremony, yes?"
Gaara was not prone to chirping excitedly like other more lively personas, and so limited his voice tone to Bland, Droll and Madly Enraged. If ever there was an occasion to be happy and chirpy though, it was this time, as he tried to persuade his taciturn lover to see his side.
"Hinata organized plenty of banners and food, and she put streamers on all the chairs, even if Hanabi didn't want her to. Their father yelled at seven different florists for getting the wrong shade of lilies."
"You want me to yell at a florist?" The slice of bread was flipped, still cradling its white and gold burden.
"Sakura and Lee were married two months ago," Gaara tried again. "The party favor is still on your desk."
"True," Neji admitted, flipping the toast again, cooking the egg just enough so that the yolk had thickened but not hardened. "But only because the audacious pink froufrou of it distracts people from all the paperwork I haven't gotten around to filing."
He turned off the stove while sliding the finished piece of toast onto a waiting stack. The final touch was a liberal pour of the cheese mixture he had heated and a sprinkle of the hottest chilis available in Mist Country. The finished dish had been dubbed The Ultimate Tower of Burning Gold, a name only Naruto could have come up with, and it was Gaara's second favorite breakfast. His favorite breakfast would be the The Ultimate Tower of Burning Gold on Neji, and that wasn't going to happen very soon. He still had the rash from last time. Damned chilis.
He put the plate in front of his lover and ladled his own breakfast into a bowl. "Why do you want a dedication ceremony? And don't quote from the book, please."
Gaara thought out loud as he started on the bottom layer, keeping the cheesy top layer for last. "We are very different people. We like different things. You, for example, like to eat that foul, off-white muck – "
"Oats are good for your heart."
"- and you listen to that screechy Western music all the time - "
"Saint-Saens is classic good taste."
"- and you don't like the pets that I do - "
"There will never be a snake in this house as long as I draw breath, and I don't care how hypoallergenic they are."
"- but I must confess that I love you, even with all of that between us, and I wish the whole village to know it. Though all the florists of Konoha have blacklisted the Hyuuga family, and people still rightly fear me, I wish our friends to celebrate with us and tell ribald jokes over good wine and frosted cupcakes."
"And to take home party favors they can never throw away because the garbage collectors will laugh at them."
"Exactly." Gaara smiled around a forkful of toast and egg. "So, do you agree?"
"That was probably the strangest proposal anyone has ever heard." Neji leaned over and gently kissed away a smear of cheese. "And yes. You had me at 'I love you'."