I recommend reading the other two Studio 69 fics before this one, but it's not necessary.

I also warn you that this one is... different from the others. I hope you enjoy it, because it was definitely an adventure to write.

More notes at the end. Much love,
~Sarai


Red Ribbons and Black Bows

It's beginning to look a lot like…

Gay.

That was the only word which popped into Sasuke's mind at this exact moment.

For Studio 69, Christmas meant two things: glitter… and more glitter. Shimmering silver garlands wrapped around staircases, shimmering Christmas balls on each of the multiple trees scattered throughout the club, the disco ball had been replaced with a silver and red version which looked like a drag queen peppermint… and oh! All the shining, twinkling lights which had been hung for the holidays…

And this was just the interior decorations.

The events! Don't even get someone started discussing the tomfoolery which goes about at Christmas, because that would be hours' worth of conversation… most of which would be stories dating back to years past. Each patron of Studio 69 loved Christmas more and more as the years went on.

Why?

Well, it was quite simple. Christmas was the time of year when family came to visit and out of town visitors meant fresh faces… which meant a whole new crowd to join the old. Every Christmas was a new year… metaphorically speaking.

Amid all of the preparations and delegations, Sasuke had to coordinate an entire week worth of entertainment just for the week leading up to Christmas, and the day that mattered most was the Eve of Christmas Eve, that last night where everyone came out to party before spending time locked up with their relatives and "close companions". Yes, it was the last night of freedom for most… which made it a night of frivolity and festiveness.

Tonight was the big event… the big bash before another year vanished behind them and a new one lay on the horizon.

Tonight was the one event which would determine the future of Studio 69, because it set the bar for everything that was to come.

Tonight… was the Ho Ho Holiday Underwear Competition.

It wasn't really a competition so much as it was an auction of carnal desires. It followed a fairly simple premise—the most attractive employees and regulars would line up on stage, showing off nothing but a pair of undergarments of their choosing, and the clientele would bid on them for the evening.

Of course fifty percent of all the proceeds would go to the GMHC as a donation to charity, and all auctioned dates were to keep everything entirely "respectable" while on premises… what they did after they left didn't matter to Sasuke, all he wanted as for this night to be over—well that an one more thing, one thing he wanted more than anything else in the world…

He wanted Naruto NOT to participate.

No matter how hard he had begged, pleaded, and demanded that his boyfriend not participate… Sasuke hadn't gotten his way. In fact, Naruto seemed to take great pleasure in teasing him.

"Just buy me for yourself," the blonde had said on repeated occasions.

Sasuke had been tempted to do just that, but, as the owner of Studio 69, it would be bad business to overbid his customers… especially when so many of them were so fond of Naruto. The happy-go-lucky blonde would be the highlight of the auction, much to Sasuke's annoyance.

Which is where he often found himself where Naruto was concerned: annoyed, flustered, or confused… three things he wasn't very used to. This puzzled Sasuke quite frequently, just as he was puzzling on it right now.

He stood up on the catwalks, observing the night's festivities… puzzling and puzzling until his head started to hurt. He puzzled until the very act of doing so began to puzzle him more.

"I'm going crazy," he thought to himself, rubbing the sides of his head, "No way is this good for my health."

Before he could question his sanity further, Sasuke felt his back pocket vibrate and instinctively pulled out his cellphone, "Yes?"

"Hey, boss!" Kiba's shout came over the line. Thankfully the club was loud, so Sasuke was in no danger of becoming more deaf than he already was.

"What?"

"What?" Kiba shouted back.

"Kiba!" Sasuke snapped.

"Ah! Now I hear you!" the bartender laughed, "Look, their ready backstage to get on with the slave market."

"I've told you stop calling it that."

Kiba chuckled, "I know, but come on! That's what it is!"

"Was there a point to this call?" Sasuke's voice was icy, even through the volume of noise in the club.

"Right," Kiba stopped laughing, at least from what Sasuke could hear. "They need you to get things started… you are still doing that right?"

"I do it every year, Kiba," Sasuke said coldly.

"Yeah, just wanted to make sure… you know with Naruto and all."

"I'm hanging up now," Sasuke didn't even wait to hear Kiba's protests. He just powered his phone of and made for the staircase, glaring at the shining garland all the way down to the main floor. This was probably why he was in such a foul mood… not only was Naruto participating in the auction, nor could he bid on his own boyfriend, but he was also going to be the one practically selling the blonde to a complete stranger.

The idea didn't sit well with Sasuke at all.

His mood persisted all the way through the club, and it only got darker as he was met at the door by some flamboyant drag queen done up like a Christmas Tree.

"Oh! There you are Mr. Uchiha! Oh my god! You aren't even dressed! How can we get started if you aren't dressed!" the man screeched, "The show starts in fifteen minutes!"

"I am dressed," Sasuke growled, "And it'll start when I say it starts…"

"But you're outfit is atrocious! Black does not say 'holly' or 'jolly'…" the queen pouted, "It says I'm a grumpy, gothic man with a bad demeanor and a grinchy spirit! Embrace your youthful vitality! Tis' the Season and all!"

"Look…" Sasuke said sharply, "I'll be ready when it's time to start this thing… just remember that I'm the one who has to sign your check at the end of the night. Don't piss me off…" Sasuke froze mid-sentence, completely forgetting who he was talking to.

"Mr. Uchiha?" the man asked timidly.

"Who are you, again?"

"Rocketta Lee… Drag Queen extraordinaire! The Lotus Blossom of any festival! The Queen of Joyful Spirit…" he struck a daring pose, "A performer who is both joyful and triumphant! I'm—"

"Stop." Sasuke held up a hand, feeling his headache worsen, "I remember our interview… you're not even supposed to be here."

"I'm not?"

"No," the raven haired man sighed, "The drag theater is next to the bar on the second floor…"

"Oh." The queen sweat dropped.

"Are you telling me we haven't had a drag show since we opened," Sasuke glared.

"Never fear!" Lee cried out, "I shall make the last hours of the evening the brightest than any patron has ever seen!"

"Just… get the hell out of my way," Sasuke groaned, stepping around the nuisance. He made a mental note never to hire him again. Not only was he annoying, but that Lee person made the most hideous woman ever… good thing he made a great Christmas tree. Sasuke seriously considered sticking him in a corner for the rest of the night as a piece of living statuary… he was paying the performer after all.

"Oh well," he consoled himself, "With that queen upstairs, at least everyone will be present for the auction—more money to be made."

He opened the door to the dressing rooms to see about a dozen men running around in their underwear, trying desperately to make themselves as attractive as possible. They were a squealing, cursing, shouting, dashing jumble of semi-nude bodies all of which would fetch a decent amount, but Sasuke's eyes trained in on the one body that wasn't moving or freaking out.

There, seated at a mirror and not even monitoring his appearance, was Naruto… a tanned, golden haired Adonis. He was perfection, and Sasuke had to fight a nosebleed from appearing right on the spot. In the next second, Naruto spotted him and jumped up from his seat. Nosebleed evasion = critical fail.

Naruto was wearing a pair of boxer briefs, which would have been nothing new… except these briefs were made of nothing but interwoven, red satin ribbons… and they had to be put on Naruto's body in order for them to work. The thought of a nude Naruto, standing with ribbon being wrapped around his perfectly sculpted frame, shot through Sasuke's mind. The Uchiha was briefly jealous of the tailor for the slightest of moments; then he remembered that it was Sakura who had designed the underwear… and he went from being jealous to extreme arousal.

Nosebleed evasion = critical fail.

Sasuke turned his head quickly to hide his face, covering his nose as he did so. How did Naruto continually do this to him?

"Sasuke! There you are," Naruto said, hugging him tightly. This only served to cause Sasuke's blood to burn, his heart beating wildly… if this kept up, he wouldn't be able to hide the nosebleed for much longer. "Come on, Sakura has been waiting with your Christmas present for half an hour!"

"Oh, yeah…" Sasuke nodded following Naruto's hand towards a closed off dressing stall, "I'll go… do that." Without another word, the raven fled, ducking into the booth and slamming the door behind him. Too close.

"You alright?" a feminine voice asked, barely contained laughter behind it.

Sasuke wiped his nose and went over to the sink to clean up further, "I'm fine… I'm always fine."

"Unless my best friend is concerned," Sakura appeared in the mirror, her pink hair sparkling—covered in glitter spray. "Then you seemed to go on the fritz… nice to know you're human at times, Sasuke."

"Of course I'm human," he protested, shaking the water off his hands and wiping his damp face with a towel."

"I know," the girl smirked, her green eyes laughing at him, "Despite your best efforts to appear otherwise."

"I've no idea what you are talking about," Sasuke glared. His headache was coming back.

"Whatever," she shrugged, "Are you ready for me to finish up your Christmas present? Naru was very specific about what he wanted… and what you'd be comfortable in. I don't have time to do exactly what I did for him… but I've managed to improvise, and I think it'll fit your personality nicely."

"What exactly are we talking about?" Sasuke raised an eyebrow. He'd completely forgotten about Naruto's secret Christmas gift… now that Sakura was involved—the raven was a bit frightened.

"Just take off your clothes and come over here," Sakura snapped, pointing at the floor in front of a tri-mirror set up.

"Still trying to get into my pants, Ms. Haruno?"

"Not in the slightest, sleigh boy…" Sasuke snorted, "I don't have the equipment to play your sport."

"Haha…" he chuckled, "Glad to know…"

"Look, just because I hit on you my first time here," Sakura started, but Sasuke cut her off…

"It's all good, Sakura," he smirked, "Let's just get this over with. I've already dreaded this for months."

"My work should never be dreaded," Sakura growled, going over to the Uchiha and forcibly stripping him before pushing him over to the mirror. Sasuke, of course, tried to protest… but, when Sakura got pushy, there was very little he could do to resist. He quickly found himself at her mercy, fabric flying around him and scissors snipping much too close to vital areas for Sasuke to feel comfortable… thankfully all arousal from Naruto's image had faded. He also was on his best behavior—pissing Sakura off when she had sharp, cutting object down around your prized possession? Not a good idea.

"There!" she proclaimed happily after several minutes of silence, "Done… tell me what you think?"

Sasuke took a moment's respite from his self-induced coma to look in the mirrors before him, and he had to admit… Sakura had a reputation as a designer for a reason. She'd fitted him in a matching pair of briefs, just like the one's she'd made for Naruto; only, to make it work faster, she'd added corset-like draw strings on the outside of each of his hips, which were down up in an intricate bow… Sasuke also had to admit that she'd definitely fit them to his taste. Rather than the festive red and green that the contestants were wearing, Sakura had made his out of solid black lace and black satin string.

"Here," she said, walking up behind him, "Arms up."

Sasuke did as he was told, and Sakura slipped a dressy shirt, which matched the pants, over his head. It was definitely more to his tastes—people would know he was in charge. All he had to do was button… Sasuke fumbled around looking for the buttons to the shirt but none existed. "Dammit, woman!" he muttered in frustration, "How do you close this shirt."

"You don't," She grinned at him wickedly, "You're built like a marble statue, Uchiha! Show it off for the kiddos outside." At that, she smacked him on the ass and shoved him towards the door, "Go on! Get out there, you've already wasted enough time… I won't be your excuse."

The raven muttered a string of curses, but they had little effect on the pink-haired hag. Grumbling and slightly murderous, Sasuke stomped out of the dressing room and into a room full of gays that went completely silent upon catching sight of him.

"What?" he glared at all of them, "Haven't you ever seen a man in underwear before?"

"Yeah," Kiba chuckled, "Just not you!" Neji, who was seated next to Kiba, chuckled at this but was decent enough to avert his eyes from Sasuke's form. The others in the room weren't so polite—Naruto definitely didn't try to hide his interest. The blonde's mouth was hanging open, and he was practically salivating.

"Alright… all of you better be ready," Sasuke muttered, walking away from the lot of them, "I want to get this over with."

Sasuke exited the dressing area and walked to the stage, pushing the through the velvet curtains and exiting out into a ready spotlight. He braced himself for the whistling and cat-calls, of which there were a few, but for the most part… the gathered crowd reacted just like the boys backstage had. Sasuke was beginning to wonder if perhaps his junk might have been hanging out—but a quick, inconspicuous glance downwards revealed that he was completely PG-13. Most of his honor was still intact.

"Mouths shut people," Sasuke smirked, "You've all seen one before… and if you haven't? Well you have a reason to spend your money tonight, don't you?"

The crowd broke into laughter at his opening like always, and Sasuke fell into his comfortable routine… trying to ignore the fact that he was showing off more skin than he had EVER felt comfortable with in public, "Alright… you all know why you're here tonight… so rather than keep you waiting with a long speech… I'll just get right down to the point: let the bidding wars begin!"

"Five hundred!" a voice shouted out, "Come home with me!"

The raven smirked, "That isn't even the starting bid… trust me when I say that none of you can afford this." He brushed off their groans and cries of disappointment and called out the first boy.

The night went fairly quickly from there, with every bid accepted being at least a few hundred dollars. Kiba managed to bring in more than a thousand with his red and white fur "Sultry Santa" boxers as they were advertised, and Neji managed to bring in well over two thousand… of course he was wearing drag… and was one of the very few Queens in town who could pull off a lingerie outfit.

One by one the "Twelve Gays of Christmas" were auctioned off, until only one remained… and Sasuke dreaded calling out the name.

"And finally," he said stiffly, "The last body of the night… one that many of you have probably been waiting for… Naruto Uzumaki, wearing "All Wrapped-up For Christmas"."

The crowd exploded into cat calls, swoons, professions of love, and a variety of other obnoxious things as Naruto bounded onto the stage, completely encouraging them all. Sasuke kept his glare to a minimum, thinking that it was at least expected for him to look protective of his property. His patented glare did little to nothing when it came to stopping the clamor and praise.

"Okay, settle down all of you…" Sasuke tried to gain control of the crowd, "You can't win if I don't hear your bid."

That shut them up.

"Everyone ready? Bidding starts at two hundred dollars…" the raven shuddered in fear of the anticipated uproar that was about to commence, "Can I hear two hundred going once?"

"Two hundred!"

"Two fifty!"

"Four hundred!"

"Four oh one!"

"Four hundred and thirty-one dollars!"

"Six hundred!"

"Seven!"

"Seven twenty!"

"Eight hundred!"

"Nine!"

"One thousand and two dollars!"

"Wait!" Sasuke looked at the small blond girl who had just bid on Naruto, "What kind of bid is that?"

The blond smirk at him, "It's all our money combined!" She gestured to the other women around her.

"Fair enough," Sasuke chuckled, "One thousand and two going once… going—"

"Fifteen hundred!" a man shouted from the catwalks.

Sasuke looked up and saw—to his horror—that his older sibling was the one who had let out the atrocious bid.

"Itachi…" Sasuke muttered to himself.

Much of the crowd muttered indisappointment, knowing that the bidding had gotten out of most everyone's price range at this point. Now all that remained to be seen was who was going to win… and how much would the final bid be.

Sasuke was still glaring up at his brother, seething that he had been caught off guard. If he'd known that Itachi was going to be in town, Sasuke would have made certain that the bouncers kept him away from the premises. Every time his brother came around, Sasuke suffered a migraine, a coronary, and every insult in the book… or at least that's what it felt like. Itachi was beyond insufferable—he was a plague that existed for only one purpose: make Sasuke's life a living hell… and take as much from him as possible.

Admittedly, Itachi was much more successful than he was, but Sasuke would never admit that to a single living being… not even Naruto. "Especially… not Naruto," he thought, "The last thing I need is for him to be wooed away by that bastard and his money."

"Are you going to call the bid?" Itachi goaded him from on high.

"One thousand, five hundred going once…" Sasuke called out, "One thousand five hundred going twice… Once thousand, five hundred—"

"Two thousand…" a voice broke in.

Sasuke's eyes widened at the sudden increase in the bid, turning to look towards the voice. What he saw was a man, about average height and fairly lean… well built too, but Sasuke couldn't see what he looked like. The man wore a dark, brown, sleeveless hoodie—which you could see perfectly well toned arms through… and an impressive looking tattoo of a skull made out of a what appeared to be quicksand.

"Two grand to the gentleman in the hoodie," Sasuke muttered, somewhat glad that Itachi had been out bid.

"Three thousand," Itachi countered nonchalantly, faking a yawn.

"What the hell!" Naruto sputtered, "That's more money than I make in three months!"

"Quite!" Sasuke snapped under his breath. He didn't need the blonde to further escalate this scene. He turned back to the crowd, about to announce Itachi's latest annoying act… when the hoodie-clad stranger counterbid again.

"Four thousand," the man said, and although Sasuke couldn't see it… he would have sworn the stranger was smirking.

Itachi was obviously impressed as well, looking down at his competition for the first time, "Can you actually pay that much?"

"Lunch money," the hoodie man called back.

"Oh really?" Itachi smirked, "Five thousand…"

"Six," the stranger countered.

"Six and a half…" Itachi's eye twitched, which was never a good sign. He was getting annoyed, and having two annoyed Uchiha's in one building could end up being catastrophic.

"Bored…" the man in the hoodie visibly yawned, greatly exaggerating the motion, "Ten thousand."

At this, Naruto choked on his own tongue, and even Sasuke was shocked. He thought he had taken every possible situation into account for tonight, but for someone to bid ten thousand dollars on his boyfriend? Sasuke didn't even think that he would have bid so much on Naruto… why would some stranger do such a thing?

"Geh…" Itachi sneered, "If you want to spend that much on a blonde… be my guest. I can get ten of them for a tenth of the price…"

"Not this blonde," the stranger smirked, flipping Itachi the middle finger.

Sasuke was both impressed and suddenly very possessive, taking a step closer to Naruto, "Are there any other bidders? No? Okay then… going once, twice, sold! …to the man… in the hoodie."

The stranger made his way through the applauding crowd and pulled himself up onto the stage. He stood about four feet apart from Sasuke and Naruto, looking at them from under his hood, and then revealed his face.

He was younger than Sasuke, probably by a year or two… which put him at around Naruto's actual age (not the one he told everyone). The man was pale, attractive, and serious looking. He had piercing green eyes and violent, crimson red hair—which he had to dye because no one had hair that color… such a thing came straight out of a Crayola box.

Sasuke had never seen the man before in his life, but Naruto apparently had because, the moment the hood came off, the blonde went from being suspicious to being shocked… and then extremely happy. That was not a good reaction for the jealous Uchiha to witness.

[…]

"Gaara?" Naruto shouted, running forward and nearly tackling the other man, "When did you get back from England!"

"About three hours ago…" the redhead said blandly, "Your mom said I'd find you here."

"I'm surprised you didn't find mom here bidding on some of the other guys," Naruto chuckled, scratching the back of his neck, "She's… kinda like the local matriarch these days."

"She wanted to drive me," Gaara smirked, "But your dad wouldn't let her out of the house… I think he knew what was going on."

"Haha," Naruto slapped Gaara on the back, "She would have definitely gotten into trouble…"

"Wouldn't be the first time," Gaara said with a shrug, "I remember plenty of good times when Kushina got wasted…"

Naruto and Gaara shared another laugh before they were interrupted by a sharp, "Ahem."

The blonde turned to see a very irritated Sasuke glaring pointedly at the two of them. Naruto looked at the raven with a blank stare, which earned him an exasperated sigh.

"Are you going to make an introduction or just stand there like a space case all night," Sasuke said coldly.

"Oh! Right," Naruto nodded, pointing to the redhead, "Sasuke… this is Gaara. Gaara…" he pointed to the raven, "This is Sasuke… my… uh… boyfriend." He scratched his head again, realizing just what an awkward situation he was in.

"How do the two of you know each other?" Sasuke asked with feigned interest, it was obvious he was waiting to hear some excuse.

"You have a boyfriend?" was Gaara's response. The redheads face had gone from cheerful to angry—yes, he had looked completely pissed earlier, but that was just Gaara's face on a daily basis. The way you noticed his actually feelings was by looking in his eyes… and, right now? Gaara's eyes were shooting lightning bolts.

"Um… Gaara is my… well he's my ex," Naruto confessed.

Sasuke raised an eyebrow, looking at Gaara with an appraising up-down glance. When he spoke his voice was completely icy, "You dated Naruto?"

"Since high school," Gaara replied just as coolly.

"Yeah, things ended when Gaara had to go away on business," Naruto said, trying to finish the story and get out of the situation.

As if reading the blonde's discomfort, Gaara looked at him with a quizzical expression and then spoke to Sasuke, "Look… I'm sorry if I stepped on any toes back there with the bidding… I didn't know Naruto was spoken for. It's no problem to pay the bid, afterall I did get myself into that pissing match," he smirked, "So if Naruto'll just walk me out to the car… we'll forget this happened and… I guess we can do lunch tomorrow, Naru?"

Seeing a way out, Naruto nodded emphatically, "Yeah! That'll be perfect. I'm sure mom has a Christmas present she wants me to give you!"

"Well, I'll wait for you by the exit," Gaara smiled and waved bye to Sasuke before jumped down from the stage, leaving the blonde alone with a very, irate Sasuke.

"So…" Naruto ventured, "That… was a little awkward."

"I didn't know your parents lived in town," Sasuke whispered.

"Uh… I never mentioned it?" Naruto asked sheepishly.

"No."

"Sorry…"

"You forgot to mention your husband while you were at it," Sasuke bit back, not wanting to hear the halfhearted apology.

"Gaara isn't my husband," Naruto growled, "We just dated!"

"Since high school?" Sasuke asked skeptically, "When did he 'go away on business'?"

"Two years ago," Naruto snapped, "And if you wanted to know, he's the reason I kept turning you down! I was waiting for him!"

"What!" Sasuke's voice raised a little.

"It doesn't matter though"! Naruto said, realizing just how angry Sasuke was for him to even think about raising his voice. He went over and put his hands on Sasuke shoulder, "He's always going to put his business first… and I… I met someone better. I met you, and I love you, Sasuke… Gaara and I are history."

"We've been dating for almost a year, Naruto," Sasuke said, pulling away from the blonde's touch, "And in one night I learn more about you from a stranger than I have from you in this whole year…"

"I'm sorry," Naruto said again, earnestly hoping that Sasuke would hear him, "I've been focusing on you, and we've been so preoccupied with… other things, that I didn't even think to tell you about Gaara."

"That's the kind of history you tell someone about," the raven said bitterly, "And if you're really proud of someone, you take them to meet your parents. God knows I would have already had you meet mine if they were still alive!"

"I don't know how else to say I'm sorry, Sasuke," Naruto pleaded, "How do you want me to apologize?"

Sasuke held up a hand. "I don't want you to apologize…" he sighed, "I just need some time to think through all of this. Go walk your ex out. We'll talk at home…"

This wasn't how he wanted to leave it, but Naruto didn't see any other choice and Sasuke walked away before he could say anything else. Confused and saddened by the sudden downturn of the evening, Naruto walked towards the front entrance to find Gaara.

"Hey," Gaara motioned to him.

Naruto nodded and walked over, "Where you parked?"

"Back of the lot," the redhead frowned, "This place is insanely crowded! Is it normally packed like this?"

"Every night," the blond nodded, "But even more so on events like this."

"Cool," Gaara mused.

As they walked outside, the cold, winter air hit Naruto's bare flesh and he instantly wished he'd gone to get his jacket, but he'd been too preoccupied with his and Sasuke's first fight… the thought had slipped his mind.

"Everything alright?" Gaara asked. He'd always been very observant.

"No…" Naruto grumbled, "Sasuke's pissed."

"Why?"

"Let's just say that you're surprise arrival came before I ever mentioned you," the blonde sighed, realizing that this probably hurt Gaara even more than it had Sasuke.

"You didn't tell him about us?" Gaara raised an eyebrow.

"Didn't really know how to explain it," Naruto said.

They were at Gaara's vehicle now, a sleek, chocolate colored Mercedes S-class. He probably had it custom ordered, and it probably cost a fortune. Naruto didn't even want to touch it, but Gaara leaned up against it as if it were nothing.

"Do you know why I came back?" Gaara asked with a curious expression on his face.

"Nope," Naruto shrugged, "You stopped calling after a few months… I have no idea what you've been doing."

Gaara nodded, something odd flashing through his eyes, "Phone works both ways you know…"

"It's kind of hard to track down a man who's in a different European country every week," Naruto countered.

"Heh," the redhead pushed off the car. Before Naruto knew it, Gaara had him by the hair and slammed him up against the nearest car—a large, decked out pick-up. "You didn't have a problem with me paying your rent for over a year!" Gaara growled in his throat, "And then you just cancel the lease, leaving me to not only finish paying for it, but I have to wonder… where did my boyfriend suddenly vanish to?"

"Ow! Gaara… you're hurting me!" Naruto pushed against the truck he was pinned up against, but Gaara's other hand quickly stopped him from struggling.

"I trained this body for everything it's good for," the redhead snarled, "I took care of your lazy, artistic ass throughout college… and you think you just get to dump me without so much as a phone call? I own you!"

There was a sharp explosion of pain in Naruto's left ear, and he had the vaguest memory of what that pain meant: he'd been punched. Gaara's fist slammed into the side of his head, knocking Naruto to the pavement.

"Shit!" Naruto cursed, holding the side of his head while bracing himself up with his other hand. He could feel several scrapes from the fall, and he was certain he would have a shiner in the morning.

"How strange of you to know that word," Gaara sneered, slamming his boot into Naruto's ribs—completely winding him, "Because the way you've handled this whole mess really is completely bullshit, Naruto, and frankly? I never expected you to fall in with such a trashy lifestyle as this!"

Naruto cried out, and rolled onto his back as Gaara kicked him again, "Please… stop!"

The redhead slowly crouched over him, and Naruto could see the glint of a knife blade in Gaara's left hand. Naruto suddenly felt fear leap up and grasp his heart. Gaara hadn't had that look in his eye since high school, when they'd both gotten caught up in a very dangerous—very unhealthy S&M relationship, and only thanks to Naruto's mother had they actually worked things out into something co-habitable…

But this crazed person standing over him, Naruto recognized him from nightmares.

"Gaara… listen to me," he pleaded, "Get ahold of yourself!"

"No," Gaara whispered, "You're going to remember who you belong to…"

The knife blade rose, Naruto's eyes slammed shut as he raised he hands defensively, and in the deafening silence as gunshot rang out.

Gaara collapsed atop Naruto, completely limp. The blonde's eyes snapped open, and the first thing he saw was blood and Gaara's lifeless eyes. Naruto screamed, pushing the body away and scrambling backwards across the pavement, looking everywhere frantically. His eyes came across a black-haired figure holding a gun, which was pointed at Gaara's corpse.

Naruto was on his feet in an instant, running over and latching to figure, wailing uncontrollably, "Sasuke, thank god! I'm so sorry! I should have told you everything… I should have but… I just didn't know how to do it, to explain everything… and Gaara—he just…" He continued rambling like this, but a calm hand slowly worked its way into his hair and began stroking it… Naruto felt the soothing gesture and began to calm down marginally, trying hard not to picture Gaara's lifeless eyes.

"Sasuke… I'm so sorry…"

"Naruto?" A voice called out.

The blonde looked up to see Sasuke from the direction of the club, followed by Kiba, the bouncers, and several dozen patron's all who had worried expressions on their faces—and most of them with their cell phones out.

Naruto startled seeing Sasuke not beside him, and he looked up to see the face of Sasuke older bother. "Itachi?" he asked, completely confused.

[…]

"What the hell is going on?" Sasuke shouted, pulling Naruto out of Itachi's arms.

"Calm down, Sasuke," the older Uchiha said sternly, "Everything is fine."

"The fuck it is!" Sasuke shouted, pointing at the gun in his brother's hand and then noticing the dead body on the ground… all that blood made him sick to his stomach, "What they hell happened!"

"The redhead got violent and pulled a knife on Naruto," Itachi said coldly, "I didn't have a choice. Things didn't look right when they left so I followed Naruto…"

"He's telling the truth," Naruto said meekly, looking at the ground, "Itachi saved my life."

Sasuke didn't know what to think. In one night he'd met his boyfriend's ex, his brother and said ex had bid enormous amounts of money on said boyfriend, and his brother, whom he hated, had saved said boyfriend by killing said boyfriend, who was obviously psychopathic. To top it all off, he had come outside to see his brother and his boyfriend embracing/comforting/being much to close for his comfort… Sasuke's head hurt from trying to contemplate everything that had happened.

He looked at Naruto, who looked frail and frightened, and pulled him into a hug—the one thing he could think to do that wouldn't have any serious or dire repercussions; then he looked at Itachi. The smug bastard was on the phone, probably with the police, but he hung up quickly and shot Sasuke a sinister grin.

"Merry Christmas, Sasuke."


~A/N~

What to say about this one-shot?

Heavy.

Yeah, when I set out to write it… it was going to be called "A Holly Jolly Homosexual Holiday", but then it took this odd turn, and it threw Itachi in out of nowhere (which I hadn't EVER planned on bringing Itachi into anything)… then Gaara became a crazy person… and then it just ended like this.

Is there going to be another Studio 69 one-shot? Yes. I'm planning a Valentine's Day fic. No. It's not going to be dark and creepy like this one. No, I don't know what's going to happen to Sasuke and Naruto, but they are definitely in a rocky spot after all this kerfuffle.

Hopefully you enjoyed it for what it is, and I'm sorry if you came in expecting it to follow in the "happy" spirit of the last two, but I'm always out to try and write NEW things, and these one-shots allow me to tell stories that are vastly different and very challenge from a literary perspective.

So, let me know what you think and I'll see you all with the next update for N:K.
Don't forget that both N:K and TABS have updated recently, and if you review either of them… you get entered into a drawing to win a piece of art by yours truly. The art will be signed and noted with a request from the winner… so if you want to see an example of the art, there is a link on my profile until the N:K portion.

That's all! Review my lovelies! I reply to them. See you all soon.

~Sarai