Naruto wet his hair.

But it just spiked right back up.

"Can't you hurry up?" Sasuke snapped irritably.

"We're not going to be late or anything, so chill out," Naruto called back, running a comb through his blond spikes.

The raven huffed impatiently. He knew they didn't have a time limit. He just wanted him to hurry up, since Naruto had been preparing for almost five minutes now.

The blond stared at his hair. Then he mussed it up, returning it to its former and natural disorder.

He sighed. He didn't want to admit it, but he was a little nervous. What was he supposed to say?

"Hey, you look the same way you did going in," Sasuke grumbled at the blond.

Naruto grinned at him.

"You just wish your hair could do what mine does naturally," he teased.

Jiraiya glanced at the blond and his best friend as they stomped down his stairs.

"Naruto, are you sure you should go? I mean, he's-"

"He's not insane," Naruto said stubbornly. "I already told the cops-"

"Don't be upset, I'm just saying he's probably really upset and I'm not sure if... well, you of all people should be-"

"He'd want to see me," Naruto said obstinately. "He's got to know he's not alone. Kankuro's in the hospital and Temari's not allowed to see him. She's being questioned by the police. I need to know Gaara's okay, old man, and I know he'll tell me what happened!" He wanted to know the truth, the real truth, not what had been said, around school, on the news, in the newspaper, by the police. As Gaara's boyfriend, he himself had been questioned, as had several other people, including Temari, who, being a witness of the crime, was still being questioned.

The police had told Naruto something like this: Gaara Sabaku, who had a long, violent and unstable past and some mental health issues they'd dug up, had snapped and killed his father. They suspected mental instability and dual personalities and a dangerous sadistic streak. They hinted that he'd hurt his family, attacking his brother and sister before killing their father.

Naruto had set them straight.

He'd given a lot of evidence, helped, presumably, by Temari and several others, including Tsunade, Jiraiya and Kakashi.

They both managed to clear "murder." Instead, Gaara might be facing the crime of "manslaughter" which Sasuke said was "fucked up" since it should be counted as "self defense," his nasty bruises being the proof. But manslaughter was a lot better than murder.

There was an upside and downside, however.

Since Gaara was "clinically ill", he was currently institutionalized in a hospital for the "criminally insane" wing in a juvenile center quite a distance away.

And Naruto finally had permission to visit his boyfriend.

Itachi was driving them.

He was overjoyed to find them together. Well, not together together. That would've been too much to ask, since he actually thought Gaara and Naruto made a cute couple. No, he was just happy that Sasuke wasn't being a douche anymore, had ditched Suigetsu, and was once again Naruto's best chum. He was happy Sasuke was happy. Or at least, back the way he'd been before, which was emo happy. He often peeked at them with his rearview mirror. Naruto was blabbing about something and Sasuke had his arms crossed and was answering him with sarcasm. Same old, same old. Mean, ever-cool-and-sarcastically-quick-witted emo Sasuke and obliviously happy Naruto, who took it with a grin.

"What the hell are you smiling so wide for?" Sasuke asked his brother.

"Nothing."

But it wasn't really nothing.

Itachi sighed with contentment. Everything Deidara had told him, when he'd called a while ago, hadn't been Sasuke. That jackass he'd heard about in a good hour rant, was the kind of kid he wanted to beat to death with a spoon.

This Sasuke was his little brother.

The Sasuke who came with Naruto, the boy he loved, to see his possibly insane boyfriend.

The Sasuke with a heart, who hid his jealousy, and selflessly supported Naruto.

All the while dropping smart ass lines and complaints and whines about anything from the color of Naruto's hair to the sun.

They got to the institution after about thirty minutes.

They were directed by the somewhat anxious and tense receptionist to the proper wing of the hospital. All of them were somewhat uncomfortable. Being in a hospital was bad enough, but being in a hospital for the mentally insane juvenile criminals was creepy as well as depressing. Still, Naruto didn't seem affected.

In fact, he ran through the hallways without a glance at or reaction to his surroundings.

He wanted to see Gaara.

He'd wanted to since he'd heard of the accident, the murder.

He'd needed to.

It had killed him to wait this long, to be held forcibly in his house by Jiraiya. It had killed him to break his promise.

"Gaara!"


Gaara stared out his window.

The light was hurting his eyes.

He wished he had curtains rather than bars on his small window, high above his low, crappy and unsteady bed.

He smiled bitterly.

He was glad he didn't have to share rooms with anyone. He didn't have to eat lunch in the cafeteria since his food was given to him through a slot in the prison door.

He was glad.

He was sure they'd heard of him and knew of him.

He was sure they'd be curious and ask questions.

And he wasn't sure if he could answer any of their questions.

He himself, was still confused over what had happened. He himself still felt a numb shock, a long-lasting reaction to murdering someone and actually smiling about it. To tasting someone's blood and reveling in the taste, to being a monster in a moment of passion and hatred. Was he a victim or a murderer? He wasn't sure now.

"Gaara!"

Shocked, the redhead turned away from the window.

Just as his door opened and a blur of yellow attacked him.

He felt fear well up in his stomach.

But then, he felt two arms around his waist and smelt a familiar scent.

"I missed you," his boyfriend whispered into his ear.

"Naruto," Gaara murmured. "I-"

"It's okay, Gaara. You're not insane. And I promise I'll make sure everyone knows it. Kankuro will be fine, Temari will be fine and you will be released, and you'll be fine too! Don't worry! And don't regret. That bastard deserved what he got and don't you dare believe otherwise! He was a bastard who deserved to be killed as slowly and painfully as possible! I think so and I'm not insane!"

"That's debatable," Sasuke said.

"Shut up!" Naruto said, head whipping around like a hunting dog on point. Then he giggled softly and turned back to the redhead.

He took Gaara's hand.

"Believe it. You're going to be happy if it kills me. And if that makes you unhappy, it makes me unhappy."

Gaara smiled slightly.

"I'm going to be here for you if I have to get myself into this institution to do it. I'm going to be with you as long as you want me and even if you don't want me! You're going to be happy! Believe it!"

Naruto shook his hand enthusiastically.

I promise, Gaara. I promise you'll be happy, with me or without me, away from me or near me.

I promise.

And I'd never break a promise.


Several months later...

Gaara stared across the courtyard discontentedly.

The sun was shining brightly, hurting his eyes.

It annoyed him. Still, he didn't mind too much. It was yellow. And bright. And warm. And spiky.

His lips twitched into a grin, before sinking back into his thoughtful frown.

He thought about Kankuro and Temari, who were living with the same foster parents, for the time being. Would he ever see them again?

"Hey Gaara."

He looked behind him.

"Oh great, it's you," he sighed.

"So impolite," the man sighed, sitting down with a lazy plop next to him. "Listen, Gaara, I'm a counselor, you're a troubled kid. I have a child foster care license, you need someone stable with counseling experience, so not just any parent can handle you. I have a job at the school the healthiest aspect of your life goes to, namely Naruto. You want to stay in this state right? You don't want to be shuffled around, state to state until you're eighteen, right? You-"

"Spit it out, where are you going with this?"

"I'm saying if I take you in, then we can convince the government that you're mentally stable with some counseling sessions. I know you're not messed up, Gaara. I know. I- well you know I'm not the first candidate for a father, but... well I- you're not such a bad kid... and, well I'm your counselor- and it wouldn't really be hell to live with me, so-"

"Shh. Kakashi, does this mean I'm going to have to deal with you every day?"

"Yeah. And you get to talk to me every day. Think you can handle it?"

Gaara groaned.

"Come on, Gaara, you're a tough kid. I'm sure you could handle me."

"I always have. Are you sure you could handle me?"

"Oh, psh. You're a piece of cake compared to that Gaara kid I had before. He was a real mess and he was in a bad place for a long time. But you, Gaara? You're alright. And I think you're a good kid, who did the right thing and saved himself, without someone else's help. Better than I managed to do. I don't think you belong in this mental house. And I'll get you out of here. Even if," here the school guidance counselor sighed. "I have to be a father to do it."

Gaara winced.

"Can I just call you Kakashi? Father's just awkward."

"You're right. As long as I can call you Gaara and not have to call you or Kankuro 'son.'"

"Deal," the redhead said. "Wait, did you say Kankuro-?"

"I convinced the state it would be healthy for you to have family living with you and they gave me some child support, as well as some of Kaze's money. Most of it was left to Kankuro, and to his company, but there was enough to get myself a two-roomed apartment. It'll be crowded, since you and Kankuro sleep in the same room and you'll have to help him get dressed in the mornings and night, but hey, when Temari moves out, you can have your own room-"

"Sounds cozy," Gaara interrupted. "So none of us have to call you Dad? Deal."

"Deal. Let's get out of here, huh? Naruto's waiting at my house with Temari and Kankuro. Just thought I'd warn you. They're kind of rambunctious at the moment, even Kankuro, who should be resting on the couch." Gaara smiled.

It felt good to have people waiting for him.

It felt good to know he was finally going back. He was finally going home.

Because the place where people loved you, a place people waited for you with longing and open arms, was home.


...

...

...

...

This... is the end.

Goodbye...

forever...

Unless you want to read another one of my stories... in which case you shall hear from me again.

So anyways, I ended this rather badly, but not nearly as bad as I have in the past, so I don't have too much self-hating to do. I tried to make it the finishing chapter and quite obviously so, but you'll have to tell me if you got the sense of "it's over," and didn't think, "oh, it's over, I guess." I want to make sure this made an impact on you before you forget about it completely.

Thank you all for reading. Thank you all for reviewing. Thank you those who were around since the very beginning and helped this tiny, ten chapter intentioned story become a trilogy. Thank you for being so supportive. I can't thank you reviewers enough!

THANK YOU!

And have a good night.

Witchdoctr... is... out.