Chapter Three: The Setback, The Promise

Author's Note: WOO! Another update. I'm doin' good! For those of you who have Pmd me and I haven't responded, please forgive me. I'll get back to you soon!

Warnings/Disclaimer: Been done. Can be found in previous chapters.

Chapter Three: The Setback, The Promise

-For Akiru

The next day didn't start as it usually did.

When Naruto and Hinata pulled up, Sakura and Ino pulled into the spot next to them. They greeted each other like this was an everyday occurrence; with hugs and waves and loud chattering. Sakura started talking about the movies they had watched last night and Ino complained about how she would have to finish her homework in her first period. Naruto spotted Gaara getting off a bus and flagged him down and shouted at an embarrassing level. The girls laughed at him when Gaara gave him a funny look before he smirked. They even managed to drag Sasuke into their group when they spotted him walking by himself through the parking lot.

They carried on together all day. They bumped into each other after some classes and talked until they were late. They all sat together again at lunch. Without really realizing it and not thinking about denying it, they were quickly falling into a comfortable routine together.
Naruto broke off from Sakura and Gaara at the end of the day when they all had left class at the same time on coincidence. They agreed to meet in the student parking lot after school to make plans together.

Of course, despite how amazing he felt the day was going, not all good things last. Just as we was rounding a corner on his way back to class he collided with a fellow student. A fellow student and friend.

Naruto felt like his insides froze when he realized it was Kiba, and the two of them went rigid across from each other. The blond immediately shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced around them in the hall to find it deserted.

"Can we talk?" Naruto mumbled.

Kiba mimicked Naruto and uncomfortably shoved his hands in his pockets and barely nodded, checking around to see if anyone was around them.

"Are you seriously done talking to me?" The blond questioned.

"Right now, or period?"

"In general. As in we're not going to be friends anymore and all those years of my life have been wasted on a fake person."

"Fake?" Kiba asked incredulously. "You're the one who's fake!"

"How?" Naruto demanded. "Because I hid something like that from you in fear that this would happen?"

"You lied to me for years." Kiba pointed out, turning to look at him. "Not over something stupid, either. Something important. How do I know you haven't been like, hitting on me or some crap. Or our friends? What is everyone going to think about us? I don't know if I can be friends with you after that!"

"And you can't blame me? You, Mr. Homophobic. How was I supposed to tell you I was gay?"

"I don't know. Just be straight with me."

"Fine." Naruto growled. "I'll be fucking straight with you. You're a judgmental asshole that can't take his head out of his vagina for five seconds to see that he's throwing away his best friend. You're so in to what other people think of you, you don't care who you lose in the process. I would never hit on you Kiba because you are not; in anyway, shape or form, attractive."

The blond pushed past Kiba at that moment, making sure to bump his shoulder as hard as possible before storming on. He was mad and upset. He was furious and broken. He lost his best friend because he was being truthful and himself.

Naruto swiped under his eyes angrily with one of his hands as he marched on. He pulled his hood up over his head as the final bell rung and signaled everyone to leave class. The last thing he needed at this point was to be a known crybaby alongside being the schools mascot for homosexuality.

So concerned was he that someone would spot the tears, he ran straight into another random student who was just minding their own business. Naruto swiped his fingertips under his eyes one last time before he torn down his hood and started apologizing.

"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. Are you-"

"Figures." Sasuke sighed out.

Naruto sighed, rolling his eyes; of all people to run into it just had to be Sasuke.

"Sorry." The blond muttered.

"Are you alright?" Sasuke questioned, but managed without a tone of concern.

The blond shrugged, intent on staring at the ground. "Great man. Catch you later, yeah?"

Naruto tried to turn and walk away but was stopped by Sasuke's hand that wrapped around his upper arm.

"What's wrong? You aren't alright."

"I'm fine." Naruto protested, refusing to turn and look at him.

"Then look at me." Sasuke practically commanded.

"Now I really wish you hadn't done the program." Naruto said with a sad chuckle. "You would have just told me off and went about your day."

"Would you just shut up and look at me?"

The blond turned slowly, yanking his arm out of Sasuke's painful grasp. His face was facing Sasuke, but his eyes were staring at a wall off to the side. It was embarrassing facing someone who seemed so stoney and impassive and your face was stained with tear tracks.

"What happened with Kiba?" He asked suddenly.

Blue eyes snapped to attention and were immediately faced with dark pools that were holding a twinge of concern.

"How did you know I was with Kiba?"

"I saw the two of you when I was leaving class early. What happened?"

"Long story." Naruto muttered.

"What happened?" Sasuke repeated.

"It's nothing."

Sasuke re-wrapped his hand around Naruto upper arm and proceeded to drag him through the swarm of students that were rushing to get out of school. The two of them were bumped, pushed and shoved but Sasuke's grip never lessened.

"Sasuke!" Naruto barked, trying to rip his arm away.

His grip tightened as he rushed Naruto along behind him, the blond stumbling over his own two feet as he tried to keep up. They found their way outside and Naruto was thankful the trip down the cement stairs went without falter. He finally gave in and jogged slightly to keep up with Sasuke's pace when he noticed they were nearing the student parking lot.

They stopped next to Sasuke's car and the most expensive in the lot. Everyone in the school knew it was his. It was always parked in the back as far away from the other cars as he could muster. Which also meant not many students were loitering near it after school.

Sasuke finally released is death grip and left Naruto rubbing the sore spot through his hoodie.

"Why are you crying?"

"I'm not." Naruto rightly defended.

"You were." Sasuke pointed out.

"Yeah, and the whole thing you wouldn't understand. So can we drop it?"

"Didn't you learn the other day that we understand each other more than we thought?"

Naruto shrugged, shoving his hands in the confines of his hoodie pocket. "Well, yeah. I just didn't think you of all people were taking the program to heart."

"Because me sharing my feelings happens on a regular basis." Sasuke replied sarcastically.

Naruto reached back and pulled his hood over his head and then mumbled something under his breath. Sasuke cleared his throat signaling that he didn't hear him.

"He doesn't know...Kiba doesn't know if he wants to be friends anymore."

"Why?" Sasuke pushed.

"I don't know. Must be a really strong male pride thing or something. He can't even be around me for five seconds without getting freaked."

"He'll get over it." Sasuke reassured him.

Naruto shook his head and continued studying the ground, bouncing one of his legs to show his increasing anxiety. "I don't think so. Not this time."

"Naruto." Sasuke sighed. "He's your best friend, right?"

The blond nodded, refusing anymore acknowledgment.

"Then it will work out. But wipe your face, the girls are coming over here."

Naruto peaked his head up quickly at Sasuke, shock evident in his features. Small lines of tears were traveling down his tan face. He figured if he couldn't see them, he wouldn't be able to tell. It was why he had hid his face. He quickly wiped under his eyes with his sleeves and finished just in time.


The blond turned, facing Sakura and Ino with the two of them looking on the verge of tears.

"What's wrong?"

He reached out towards the both of them, gently grabbing at their arms as concern filled his face.

Ino groaned and Sakura sniffled. "We just...needed to tell you something."

Naruto swallowed, worrying slightly. "Alright, just tell me what's wrong."

"We've just sat down and talked to Gaara and Hinata." Ino started. "We needed to talk to you too. Naruto, we're so sorry with how we treated you in the past."

"We were horrible to you." Sakura continued.

"You didn't deserve it at all."

"You're so nice." Sakura said shakily.

"And you have difficulties just like us."

Naruto laughed, squeezing their arms and taking a step forward, giving them both a sloppy hug. He pulled back, smiling.

"It's in the past guys. Don't let the guilt ride you, alright. We're friends now."

Sakura and Ino both groaned before launching forward and wrapping their arms around him, crying and laughing at the same time. Naruto was mumbling words of comfort to the girls, messing with their hair and poking at their faces.

The three of them pulled back from each other and Naruto quickly wiped under their eyes while they laughed.

Sakura turned and faced Sasuke, her hand still resting on Naruto's forearm. "Look, I'm treating everyone to pizza down the street. I know it isn't much, but it's a small token. Will you come with us? Both of you?"

Naruto nodded looking over the girls and glancing at Sasuke. He wanted him to come along despite the twenty questions from hell.

"Yeah, that's fine. We'll meet you there."

"Alright, we'll see you there. Hinata and Gaara are riding with us."

Sasuke nodded and Naruto waved as the girls parted and went back down the parking lot towards their car, where no doubt, the other two were waiting for them.

"I don't think being best friends will help." Naruto said suddenly, watching the girls walk down the parking lot. "Being gay is a big deal to a lot of people."

"Tell me about it." Sasuke muttered.

The blond laughed, nudging Sasuke in the side. "Sorry. You seem to keep getting dragged into this and have to hear it. My bad."

Sasuke looked down towards the ground, pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. "What an idiot." He mumbled.

Sasuke didn't ask about Kiba after that. Naruto was thankful. Silently he hoped Sasuke understood that the fight was still hurting him and he just needed to take a break from thinking about it even more.

He figured Sasuke got the hint when instead of pushing the subject of the matter further, he simply turned on the car radio. Naruto swayed his head to the music and hummed out of tune while Sasuke occasionally turned to glare at him. He never complained so Naruto never stopped.

They arrived at the pizza place just as Sakura and the rest were getting out of her car. The blond nudged Sasuke as soon as they met again side by side outside of Sasuke's car and laughed a little.

"This feels like we're starting something permanent, huh?"

"What do you mean?"

"Us." Naruto said, pointing between the two groups as they walked towards each other. "It feels like this is meant to last a long time."

Somewhere, deep down, where Sasuke didn't have to admit it out loud; he silently hoped it did.


Three whole pizzas and nine pitchers of soda later, the group left. Sakura and Ino had plans with the cheer leading squad. Hinata had to head home for her cousin's birthday. Gaara had a doctor's appointment.

Naruto bumped Sakura's shoulder on purpose. "What are you doing this weekend? Like, starting tonight after cheer-cult meet up?"

She shook her head and shrugged. "Nothing. You have an idea?"

"Yeah. My dad is heading out of town for business and he said I could have friends over as long as we don't get crazy. Which defines itself as no parties. I wanted to see if you guys all just wanted to come and spend the night. Movies and pizzas, you know?"

Ino smiled. "Aren't we a little old to have slumber parties?"

"It's not a slumber party!" Naruto insisted. "It's hanging out."

"He won't have a problem with girls coming?" Sakura asked.

"No. He trusts me." The blond said. "He knows we aren't going to get into trouble. Though, when I told him about the idea he stressed that I tell you it was alright to beat me if I make you cry."

The group laughed and Naruto grumbled, not finding it funny at all. He knew his father was serious with letting a few girls beat him senseless if he made them cry.

"Girls get beds separate from the guys in the living room. You know, being polite and making sure you're comfortable."

"I-Iruka?" Hinata asked with a smile.

"Yeah. I got another sex talk out of it, too. What does that make it Hina? Over twenty?"

She was laughing while she nodded and then she shook her head. It was just like Iruka. She was still surprised the over protective father was fine with a group of kids he was unfamiliar with were going to be spending the night there. She was betting family friends would be stopping by as well as he would be questioning her upon arriving home. He knew Hinata couldn't lie.

"But I understand if some parents aren't cool with it." Naruto said suddenly. "But Iruka is willing to talk to them before he leaves in a few hours. No doubt insure them of his plans of spy neighbors and randomly appearing family friends."

Naruto passed out his father's cell number happily and everyone took the time to exchange their own numbers. He was surprised everyone was agreeing to the plan. Even Sasuke.

"Tell Neji I'm sorry, Hinata. I have to go clean up the house. But tell him he's welcome to come!"

She nodded and waved as the group of Ino, Sakura, Gaara and herself walked back towards Sakura's car.

Naruto elbowed Sasuke lightly and turned to look at him. "Want to help me clean?"

Sasuke snorted at the wiggling eyebrows and turned towards his car, leaving Naruto behind. "Why not...?"

The blond jogged up to the other side of Sasuke car, shock clearly written on his face. "What? Seriously?"

"I have nothing better to do."

"Well, gee. I'm oh so excited to spend time with you as well, bastard."

"Whatever moron, just get in the car."

"Hey, by the way..." Naruto said as he yanked his seat belt on. "Do you want Iruka to call once we get to my house? You didn't get his number."

"No. It will be fine."

The blond squirmed uncomfortably in his seat as Sasuke reversed out of the parking space. "Do you need to drop by your house to grab stuff?"

"I'll go later."

"Why, we're already out?"


Naruto huffed as he crossed his arms over his chest and looked out the window as the pizza shop disappeared from view.

"You know, you make me open up and you can't even do the tiny thing of taking me with you to your house. Friendship is like a partnership, there is supposed to be an equal amount of everything. That includes letting each other into each others lives. Not being selfish."

Sasuke glared out the windshield as they idled at stop light. He stayed silent and Naruto snorted lightly.

"Sucks to be wrong, doesn't it?"

"Did I say you were right?" Sasuke snapped back.

The blond rolled his eyes and and huffed when Sasuke turned the car stereo up. Sky blue eyes were reflected in the glass of the car window as he watched the passing scenery, too annoyed to try and strike up another conversation with Sasuke. He figured the teen was simply going to drop him off at his house and call it a day.

So when they took an unfamiliar turn in a direction that wasn't in any relation to Naruto's house, the blond would admit he got confused.

As soon as they immediately pulled into an unfamiliar driveway just a few short minutes away from the pizza place, he knew Sasuke had taken them to his house.
As they road up the long driveway Naruto turned to stare at Sasuke, trying to study his face to catch a feel for his emotions. Not one to give up with Sasuke's face set in stone, he decided to provoke him. Like an idiot.

"Actions are better than words. This is just as good as admitting I was right."

A blaze of black glared at him, fueled with anger and what Naruto was undoubtedly sure was nerves and confusion; the blond sank back into his seat in the car.

"The lawn looks nice." Naruto commented absently as the car was shoved in park.

"Come on, I want to make this quick." Sasuke grumbled.

Naruto undid his seat belt as he glanced at his phone, Iruka texting him about already talking to a few parents and how he'd appreciate a warning next time. He figured his friends would let him know somehow that they could come or not. Everyone had each others numbers now.

Naruto tripped over his own feet a little and jogged to catch up with Sasuke who seemed to be power walking.

Sasuke was brisk in opening the door and sliding off his shoes before continuing on; Naruto hopped around trying to yank his shoes off and run to catch up. They passed by two cleaning ladies who stopped to smile and wave at Sasuke who nodded back politely.

Naruto scanned the walls and opened rooms or anything blue eyes could land on as he tried to keep up with Sasuke. There was art spaced out on the walls in thick decorative frames. A few small tables were placed it seemed, to take up space. There was a strip of carpet down the middle of the hardwood hallway. The lights that littered the ceiling were the only things that looked practical and non-expensive. That was, until Naruto realized they were motion-sensor.

He paused briefly while walking past one door that was open wide when he caught site of someone sitting at a large desk. To Naruto, he looked like Sasuke in a few years time. He figured it was a close relative like a brother. It was probably the brother Sasuke had mentioned. He was so wrapped up in whatever work he was doing at his desk that he missed Naruto squawking when Sasuke yanked him down the hall with him after the short stop.

"Who was that?" The blond asked as he tried to free his wrist, but to no avail.

"My brother." Sasuke said quickly, still marching down the hall.

Naruto looked behind him as he was being dragged along. "Oh! The bookworm, right?"

"No, the workaholic."

Naruto frowned at Sasuke's clipped tone and short answers. The grip on his wrist disappeared suddenly, which left him rubbing the spot that was now slightly sore.
The blond shuffled his feet, feeling a little awkward as Sasuke walked around his room and gathered the things he needed. Naruto didn't know what to talk about but felt like the silence needed to be filled.

Despite knowing the subject was touchy and damn near murder inducing, Naruto decided to try anyway.

" I get to meet your rents?" Naruto shrugged.


"Oh. They not home?" The blond continued.

"I'm not sure." Sasuke replied honestly.

Naruto laughed. "What do you mean?"

"I mean I don't know if they're home or not."

Naruto shrugged. "When was the last time you talked to them, anyway?"

"Two...three, maybe?" Sasuke questioned more to himself than anyone.

"What, days? My dad always loves those days." Naruto laughed.

Sasuke shook his head, stuffing random bits of clothes in a bag. "No, months."

"Uh...what about your brother?"

"I talk to him everyday."

"Oh!" Naruto smiled. "See that's good."

"We always leave the house at the same time, so it's unavoidable."

"Well why don't you go talk to him now? He's home."

"I can't." Sasuke sighed. "Itachi's working. I'm not allowed to disturb him while he's working."

"Ready?" Naruto muttered, just letting it go.


Sasuke slung his bag over his shoulder and the two of them left in silence. Naruto quietly followed behind Sasuke as he led them out of the house. He barely glance into the random office where he had spotted Itachi when they walked by.

He almost said something to Sasuke when he noticed Itachi looking up from his work, his mouth opened like he was going to say something.

But when Itachi turned his face back to his work, he kept his mouth shut and continued to follow him. They were in the car before they knew it. Naruto stared out the window while Sasuke drove to his house, occasionally double checking his directions.

Otherwise, the only comfort noise was the music that played on in the background. It was an alternative band Iruka would listen to a lot when he thought Naruto wasn't around.
Just as Naruto started to lightly sing along, Sasuke pulled up in front of Naruto's house. He quickly shut the car off and Naruto's singing faded off.

"Don't worry." The blond said suddenly after neither of them had made a move to get out.


"Being lonely." Naruto said, still staring out the window. "You won't be that lonely anymore."

"Just drop it." Sasuke muttered, cracking open his door.

The blond turned and looked at him, his face set seriously. Their eyes locked and for a moment, Naruto swore he could see the guard Sasuke had up in his eyes.

"I promise." Naruto whispered.

"Let's go clean, moron."

"Fine, bastard."

Author's Note: I was going to make this like, three times longer...but I figured this was a fine ending point.