Disclaimer: I own nada and make nada. The ownership of Naruto and crew belongs to someone else.
Author's Rant: Whew the plot bunny just keeps nibbling. Not much experience with this pair so forgive any OOCness. ^_^
Warnings: MalexMale relations. Yaoi. AU setting. Language. Sasu/Naru.
"Hey Uzumaki, order call for table twelve!"
"Got it!" A swirly whirlwind of saffron hair wove through the crowd of crimson and white checker patterned tables to his destination of a family foursome, all smiles and delight to match the natural brilliance that was his outer and inner personality. Small notebook in hand, Naruto flipped to a clean page, and poured his one hundredth table the sweet sincerity of his charming smile. "Welcome to Ichiraku Ramen Café, I'm Naruto Uzumaki, your handsome waiter and I'm here to serve you, you, you anddddd you," he tapped his pen on the nose the smallest children, earning a burst of rewarded sugar giggles from the baby girl.
The dark haired father of the group chuckled, nodding his chin at his youngest, "My, I'm impressed with your way with children. Normally it takes a whole bunch of coaxing just to get her to smile."
"Well ya know," Naruto smirked the silly shine of his white teeth, shrugging a shoulder. "I just got a lotta practice in that area. Kids love me." Proof in his contagious smile, spreading from one person to the next—even to the squealing baby girl.
Yeah that was him. Everything around him radiated clean, balmy package of lively cheer that seemed to ooze from his very presence. There was no harsh demand for people to notice his luminousitic allure or a desperate attempt for anyone else's attention. From the sharp barbs of sunflower petals jutting out in every direction, to the cornflower blue orbs filled with a fluorescent light as bright as his sunshine smile; every fiber of his existence spoke of a simple 'hey how you ya doing today.' More than enough to automatically bring a grin to your face. Add to the gingerly peached tint of skin and broad set of shoulders compressed evenly under the spread of tie dye colored shirt and you had yourself another blushing reason to engage an extra smile at the blonde haired bombshell.
After all orders of the famous ramen and little kid meals were taken, Naruto hurried off to batch the latest order in before heading off to handle previous customers, never failing to gain a couple of laughs or pleased compliments on his robust services. Another day, another animated dollar made for every satisfied customer. That's why he was in always in demand and always requested by past customers vowing a return if he entertained their time as well as their patient taste buds.
The shrilling double ring of a dusty bell chimed dully over the noisy convey of comfortable consumers, but the sound was as clear as crystal to the busy blond. "Uzumaki, order up for table twelve!"
"Got it!" Naruto excused himself from the conversation of an elderly woman and dashed off to grab the large silver trays, balancing the bowls of slushed buttery noodles, and kiddie meals in one hand and the cups of green sweet tea, soda pop and milk in the other.
"Careful Naruto, can't break records now." Teased the café owner, Mr. Teuchi, smiling a crinkled smirk.
"Yes sir. Just trying to keep everyone happy."
"Well make sure you have enough energy for later tonight. You're gonna need it."
Doesn't he know it? The energy spent here was nothing compared to what he had to deal with later on. Nowhere near in fact.
"Here you are," In a single beat, a black tennis foot jutted out to pull a fold up stand near the table and spread wide to balance the metallic circles. One by one, Naruto gave each customer their desired meal, sweet drink and trademark simper in turn receiving the same kind of bemused gesture. "If there's anythin' ya need all you have to do is call Naruto."
"Thank you so much for your services, young man." The red haired mother praised kindly. "You're such a sweet boy."
"No problem ma'am." With a two finger salute in play, Naruto swirled off to clean off a couple of tables and straightened out a couple of chairs. On each finished one, lied a generous tip for his entertaining chores and he grinned quite proud of himself for earning a decent amount every time. At this rate he was bound to gain his desired earnings soon.
The rushing frenzy of the café's reputation, as always, brought with it the same buzz of excitement and overflowing tables for customers itching to get a taste of that delicious bowl of signature noodles mixed with the variety of ingredients and unique blending only known by the owner and a few others. No matter the time of day, the specific date or the mark of a holiday, these tables always stayed filled to capacity with eager, hungry customers.
And Naruto loved it. Every single minute of it. The pleased smiles, hummed purrs of pleasured taste buds, low rumbles of laced conversation easing from one end of the building to the next; all of it. Every bit was enough to keep Naruto coming back every day, all day working his twelve hour shifts with a pep in his step and not utter one compliant.
When the hottest hour of the café aroused, waiters and waitresses were hustling all around the others, cleverly dodging from side to side to prevent a colliding mass of hot yellow spillage on heads or hands. Trays stood as tall as the hands posturing them with ease in a sea of young voices announcing or taking orders. In the midst of it all the rays of sharp blond sunshine breezed everywhere, ducking and swirling through his coworkers.
"Whoa easy Naruto!" Yelled the bristled growl of one particular chocolate haired waiter, nearly losing the hold of his platter of dirty bowls. "Ya almost got me with the soup man!"
Naruto maneuvered around, bowing underneath his friend's arm, keeping the coursers in hand. "S'rry Kiba, busy, busy, busy!"
"Tsk busy my ass. Betta' watch that damn soup…" Mumbled the irritated sneer of an equally super active waiter.
At the slap of twin rubber doors flapped open to reveal a bubble gum pink haired girl, carrying a small server in each hand. Sea foam eyes scanned the heavily crowed café for her table until a hard frowned Kiba came into view. At the frustrated scowl plastered severely on his face, she could already tell he wasn't too hyped on all the crazed commotion, "Bad day already?" Asked Sakura Haruno.
Kiba signed a low grunt, hitching up the dirty dishes on his weary shoulder, "Nah, same as always. Better watch out for Naruto. You know how he gets during rush hour."
"Right." Had to definitely watch out for that colorful whirlwind.
On cue, Naruto came barreling pass the pair to head in the kitchen, grabbed his sizzling order and in the same saffron flash, came hurrying back with three trays of ramen. Thank god for his oddly unique methods of dipping and somehow managing to prevent hazardous collisions with other bodies, otherwise they'd all be doomed. Kiba and Sakura shared a friendly chuckle, watching the ever energized blond switch from one table to the next, all thousand watt smiles and appeal.
"Silly fool," They both murmured before heading off to do their daily duties.
Ramen went flying every several minutes to whoever demanded its subtle flavors and salted tastes. The bubbly converse of hyper amusement stayed erratic and fast pace till the wee hours of late evening when an exhausted Kiba finally escorted the last of a family of six out the door, wishing them a great night and for their return soon. "Oh God never again," Groaned the beat Kiba, sliding his back down the smooth glass door, bumping his butt on the tile floor.
The few remaining waiters and waitresses all found cozy sits in leathery glitter red booths or fell back in the chair or stool closest to support their steel heavy bodies. Naruto located a comfortable place on a cooled piece of floor he deemed worthy enough to hold his ass in place and blew out fanning a hand over his sweaty face.
Sakura settled down in a chair next to his feet, dropping her head and hands between her knees, "Had a long one huh?"
Naruto's eyes shifted up to meet the equally tired mint green staring down, "No kiddin'. I think I had at least three hundred customers today. Damn near broke a toe runnin' into Kiba."
"Hey no one told ya to run around like some hyped up psycho," Kiba flopped down next to the blond, bracing back on his hands, glaring at the wrinkled ceiling. "I was running around like a mad man. Had twenty orders of the butter special and nearly sixty of the double whammy. But," he sighed, "we had rougher days."
"Tell me about it. But this one's at the top."
Sakura reached inside her blouse pocket, wrangling the loose change and rolled her eyes, "Bad day for tips. How's about you guys?"
Kiba slid his hand down the front of his jean pockets, fingering over the crumbled dollars and coins. "Had better."
Naruto did the same, patting his semi filled pockets and grinned, "Pretty good for me. Glad it wasn't like yesterday. Couldn't get dog piss with that."
They shared a laugh, no one feeling any better or any sort of resentment towards their partner for having earned a deal more. Especially for Naruto being that he needed the money more than anyone else there. All earned monies went straight to two separate sources of his life and a tiny piece to the side for another dream.
"Alright everyone," Announced Mr. Teuchi, appearing from the dreaded kitchen, wiping his hands on his flour coated apron. "Great job as always. No complaints about the meals or the service. Now that's progress. Keep it up and we'll stay at the top." He scanned the worn out expressions of his several crew members, cooks, hosts and waiters noting the slumped shoulders and stiff necks, rolling. No sense in keeping them longer than necessary. He'll give them all a chippy pep talk later. "Alright everyone, the week's up. Make sure to be here bright and early tomorrow for the next wave. I'll be closing shop early so make sure to have it cleaned from top to bottom otherwise I'll have ya here till next week."
The less then enthusiastic chorus of 'yes sirs' grumbled from some while others settled for a little nod as one by one they filed to the back storage room to retrieve their jackets, hats, and belongings from name labeled lockers.
Sakura was one of the first to finish getting her things and went over to see her friends before heading out, "Hey me, Ino, and Choji were planning on going to see the Strawberry Street Play this weekend. You guys wanna tag along?"
"Nah got plans this weekend," Kiba declined. "How's 'bout you Naruto?"
Naruto slipped one arm through a backpack strap as he replied, "Can't guys. Gonna be busy all weekend," Whatever small spit of energy he had stored was going to be used up tonight and tomorrow dealing with other affairs. "I'll try to catch ya another time. See ya." Waving his good bye before another word uttered a familiar argument, Naruto ran off.
"Damn. Poor kid," Kiba scratched his head. "All he ever does is work."
"Yea I know," Busy. He was always engrossed in so much. Sakura sighed and shook her head, pitifully. As much as she wanted to disagree with the disappeared blonde's decline, there wasn't much to protest when she knew the deal. Naruto was busy for a reason and no amount of coaxing was going to stop him from altering his time from another matter. She just wished he'd devote just a bit of his time into having a life.
At least a little to himself.
Long days brought even longer walks home for the yawning Naruto. The late evening was pleasant and cooled with the smell of rain sprinkling the cloudy sky. With his book bag slung over his shoulder and a less then energetic step in his stride, he finally took the chance to truly search inside his pocket to check the honest fruits of his labor after another long day. Feeling around the tiny folded wad and scattered clinging coins, Naruto blew out a low sigh, "Gotta do better than this. Dammit," he proclaimed softly. Profit was good but not enough to make a dented difference.
At this rate he was going to have to do double shifts just to make up for his intended wages. Things weren't getting easier for him and God forbid if they didn't stay as steady as they currently were. At nineteen years old, he wasn't exactly living the prosperous life his parents wanted for him but after their unfortunate accident three years ago, there wasn't much left for him to do. Especially with the small burdens they left behind for him to care for. Times were going to have to change at this rate.
And now he was only left with one solution.
Naruto shoved his free hand in his pocket, slumped forward and thought over his plans for tomorrow. After working his shift, he was going to have to beat the pavement for a part time job or hell maybe a full timer. More money for the cause, he thought as he passed by a store window reflecting his shadowy image. Not too bad on the looks if he had to admit himself. Mom and Dad raised him up to be a good looking guy. This he thought as he flashed that wide smile of his to ease the tension stiffened in his body and csettle the negativity boiled in his body before climbing the stairs up a two story complex to see one of his neighbors.
The surrounding apartment setting was traditionally built of crimson brick, curved brown tiles lining down the rooftop, and steep, narrow stairwells on either side of the building. Mid waist high Ginger Rose bushes dotted two feet apart in front of each complex, giving the whole vicinity a gentle cozy appeal. Not too bad for a young adult.
His building was three sidewalks down from the one he was approaching where the bronze symbol A19 lied inscribed. Three knocks and two taps and he waited patiently for the door to open.
"Just a sec!" Called the deep voice from behind. Seconds later, the sage green door swung open to reveal a bushel of coco spiked hair pulled high above an equally positive smile. "Ah Naruto welcome. I wasn't expecting you till later." Mr. Iruka Umino stepped to the side to let his neighbor in the warm home.
"Yea we kinda closed early for a morning session tomorrow. Mr. Teuchi wanted everyone to get some shut eye for the breakfast and lunch rush."
"Well that's good to hear. At least you'll get some kind of rest until then."
"I hope so." Naruto rolled on the back of his heels, eyeing over the familiar warm household, having been babysat here many times as a child. The simmering hues of deep beige furnishings positioned evenly from the balcony glass door to the entry way of the hall and subtle yellows decorated in the form of minor pieces for added effect toward the wide set kitchen, having been used countless times to make his favorite meals. So many memories of his earlier years displayed happily in his mind when he had to spend his afternoons with Iruka after school. Such good and fond memories he held here in this little place.
Curiously noticing the lack of routine giggles and normally excited shouts of greet, Naruto angled his head from the living room to the hallway before asking, "So how were they today?"
Besides the lifted of a brown eyebrow and expired sigh of resignation, Iruka could hardly hold in his retorted exhaustion but opted for giving his most sincere smile and jerked his thumb to the back bedroom. "I was blessed with a few hours of rest. They're sleeping in the bedroom."
"Had a rough one eh?" Naruto grimace a guilty tease, already heading towards the devil's chamber.
"Tell me about it. They were up and running about for hours wanting this and that or needing this for that. I just can't seem to figure out what you do to keep them so tame."
"Eh what can I say, the kids love me." His beginning speech died on a faint whisper as Naruto turned the doorknob and pushed—with a little extra effort— into the small square room littered from door frame to the red curtained window with large fluffed teddies and toys. Coloring books lied half open on their sides with scattered torn pages piled nearby a mess of broken crayons and topless markers. Probably the only sane looking pieces of entertainment left unharmed were the neatly stacked animal books in alphabetical order inside a worn down yellow and blue striped shelve.
Ah yes, the wraths of a child's hurricane-like actions for joyous fun and cheer. Evidence lain bear based on the tossed over plastic tables and utensils stuck in some awkwardly shaped pattern it didn't belong in. And despite it all, balanced in the farthest corner lying in a tangled mass of limbs and thin sheets were two small bodies sleeping peacefully in a leaf pattern bunk bed. "Out like a light," Naruto murmured pushing the door open to step in.
"And it only took three glasses of warm milk, six bedtime stories, four games of Gamabunta Attacks and ninety four promises that you'd return if they went to bed," Iruka snorted sacarastically.
"That's a new record. I thought you had to play Gamabunta twelve times the other day."
"Trust me; I more than made up for it with memorizing the colorful theme songs of Happy Frog and Little Fox. I'm never going to get those freaky guys out of my head." Those horrid mental scenes of a dancing frog and cha chaing fox playing happily with their forest friends, teaching the wondrous fundamentals of important morals learned and the qualities of friendship. Just like any other childlike replica of that damnable pink dinosaur with the one tooth.
Naruto kneeled down beside the lower bed and pulled the sheets off one of the Uzumaki twins sleeping soundlessly with his stubby arms wrapped around the neck of his favorite frog. Minato Uzumaki was the younger of the set resembling his big brother and their father in so many ways. The messy barbs of splattered blond hair hung lifelessly against the soft pillow like coils of soft sunflower petals. His soft plump face bore the exact hue of dark tan but held a natural hue of faint blush on his rosy cheeks. Had he been awake one would be awestruck at the sharp contrast of blue polished as bright as the jealous sky against his other bright features. He practically a mini Naruto wrapped snug in a pile of one large frog and a bunch of hidden baby toads stuffed in his one piece pajamas. That'll probably explains the bulge in his crotch area. Naruto had been worried for a sec. "Hey Minato, come on. Time to go."
"Mmm…" Squeaked the protesting babe, searching with one hand for the missing warmth and using the other to keep a tight grip on his froggy. "Don' wanna go Nawo…Sweepy…"
"You can sleep on our way home. Come on," Naruto reached down to scoop up the tiny child and oversized orange frog. Minato hummed contently nuzzling his face in his brother's warm neck and settled back into dream world. Now that the first brat was out of the way it was time for the more troublesome of the pair.
The one who was Naruto's double in more ways than one. Had it not been for whom their mother was, no one would've ever mistaken Kyuubi Uzumaki for being related to the blonde brothers in anyway. With much longer hair than a normal child, Naruto stood up to see the tangled horror of disorderly blankets and limbs scattered all over the top bunk. For a person barely three feet tall, Kyuubi somehow managed to appear like an octopus covering every stretch of his bed, selfishly declaring 'its mines, all mines'. The only evidence of their mother's existence within the Uzumaki clan was generously given to the eldest twin in the heritage of crimson red hair coiled and woven around his pale skinned neck and chubby face. By his side was a big plush teddy fox missing three of its nine tails—presumably eaten or destroy in some way by its three year old owner. Naruto had to work with extra care to unwind the constricting sheets and rolled up appendages jutted out.
"Kyuubi, come on kid. Time to go home," Urged the eldest brother, nudging the whisker marked cheekbones.
One little sapphire eye peeped open tiredly before the entire body curved away to show half a tiny bottom half encased in rocket ship pajamas. "No Bwo Bwo…tiwed… wanna sweep."
"You can sleep at home brat. Come on."
"Mmm no Bwo, Bwo…" Kyuubi somehow disguised his whole body away from view except for the pile of scarlet locks swimming around the pillow.
Naruto sighed and jerked the sheets off, ignoring the pitiful whimper of childlike whines as he lend over and tugged the sleepy child until he rolled into his arm, less then pleased about being woken up, "Stupee Bwo, Bwo," mumbled hissy Kyuubi, before finding a cozy spot next to the soft neck.
"Yea, yea kid, heard ya say worst." With kids and super teddies in hand, Naruto gingerly made his way out and to the front door, "Thanks again for watching the twins Iruka-sensei. I 'preciate it."
"It's no problem really," Iruka held open the front door, escorting his neighbor's outside.
Naruto stopped half way, "Oh I almost forgot, Iruka-sensei how many vacancies are left at the school?" He questioned hiking up a slipping Minato.
Iruka's smile shifted, thinning his lips, "Only seventeen," Came his mumbled reply. "Summers almost over Naruto. The school's going to need the money by the end of this season."
A silent pause passed overhead, then, "Look if it's any consideration, I could easily lead you—"
"No," Naruto cut off softly. "I can do it. We'll be fine. I can have the money by then."
"…but the deadline's in fourteen weeks Naruto." Iruka sighed, feeling conflicted. "It wouldn't be any trouble too—"
"Thanks for watching the twins. W-we gotta get going before it starts rainin'. We'll see ya later."
Before Iruka could utter another offer of aid, Naruto was already sprinting down the stairs and heading off to their own building. By the balcony post, Iruka stayed near watching the young ones head off home, noting the less then assertive stride in his god-son's walk. The smell of rain was approaching soon to mimic the down poured slump of shoulders that were usually stiffened with pulsing confidence. Darkness building from the graying clouds bypassing the moon's glow until its shadow hung mockingly overhead, producing the unwanted gloom of despair and desperation.
Iruka waited and pondered over so much until he got the signaled wave from far off that they made it inside and went inside in hopes of figuring a way he could lead his support. So much would need to be accomplished in as little as fourteen weeks and it worried him how much he knew his god son's will was to succeed in achieving his goals.
And knowing Naruto, he'd stop at nothing to get it done.
Charity or pity. He truly despised receiving either from anyone especially when there was no need for it. He worked hard and did all of this for a reason and that was to get it done. Working hard had been his mission since losing his parents years ago and it had been a promise made by the blood that streamed through his heart, if nothing else he would make sure to take care of his baby brothers and ensure they earned the best education they deserved.
As he finally tucked in the tiny tykes under their shared bed and left to handle his own care, Naruto stripped out of his Ichiraku uniform shirt, gazing out the glass fogged window, watching pearl dribbles of rain feebly trickle in a crooked path. His gaze then twisted around to his dresser where the swell of his Gama piggy bag sat month agape from being filled with today's earnings.
By the surest spark teasing swelling in his chest, he felt more assured after seeing Gama's belly gaining weight and that alone was enough to bring that thousand watt smile back in full. He'd find a way to get that money.
And starting tomorrow he planned to work as hard as ever and then go out to look for every known place possibly hiring. Naruto Uzumaki was on a mission and he'll be damned if he wouldn't succeed.
TBC: Ok sooo tell me what you think? My first Naruto fic…yahhh! ^_^.