A/N: I'M ALIVE. I am so ridiculously sorry about the wait (8 months!), for some reason this chapter did not want to be written. To be honest, if it weren't for your kind reviews I probably would've dropped this story. BUT ALAS, I am back and this chapter is notably better written than the last 4, and very long.

Quick recap of what's happened for those without immense memories: Naruto has girlfriend, Sasuke realised he loves Naruto (finally!), Sasuke slept over, Naruto had nightmares and snuggled with Sasuke, Kakashi has just told them that they're going on a C-Class mission.

HUGE thanks to the wonderful DarkElectra ( u/3362645/DarkElectra), who did an amazing job at beta-ing this (without her this may never have seen the light of day). I beta her LxLight DN story if you want to check it out :D

Oh, and as thanks to my faithful readers, anyone who reviews this chapter gets the next one dedicated to them :)


"Baby-sitting?!" Naruto exclaimed, angry and incredibly frustrated. He glared at their teacher who just looked on calmly as they walked towards their destination: a fairly large house, situated near the outskirts of the village.

"But Kakashi-sensei, you said it would be a C-Class mission! This is D-Class for sure!" Sakura pouted, furrowing her eyebrows.

"Nah, it's a C-Class mission, alright."

Sasuke tensed slightly. Since when had baby-sitting become a C-Class mission? These must be some misbehaved children. Ugh. He hated kids, especially rowdy and boisterous ones.

He glanced round at Naruto, who was busy arguing. It seemed funny that Sasuke should like someone who on the outside appeared dumb and obnoxious, but Sasuke knew better. Naruto was the only person that was truly there for him, and actually knew him. With a small smile he recalled their first mission together; the way they'd worked together so flawlessly, how at that moment he knew Naruto would've risked his life to save him.

"What about you Sasuke-kun?"

His thoughts were interrupted by an eager Sakura. "What?"

"Are you any good with kids?" Sakura stared at him hopefully.

Sasuke just rolled his eyes. "I hate kids. They're messy, rude and stupid," he said, looking back away from Sakura.

"Ah-ha, you're right of course, Sasuke-kun!" She grinned nervously, her cheeks reddening.

"Eh? Sakura-chan? You just said you love kids!" Naruto questioned, resulting in a death glare from the pink haired girl.

"Shut it Naruto!" she growled, wasting no time in punching Naruto in the jaw.

Naruto clutched his face painfully, murmuring quiet exclamations of pain.

"You shouldn't go back on your word, Sakura. It's a bad habit," Sasuke told her, and saw her expression waver. The satisfied feeling of proving her right nearly had him smiling.

"U-un…" she trailed off, twisting a few strands of her hair and not meeting him in the eye.

"Oi, teme! Stop telling people off like you're better than them!" Naruto pointed his finger at the raven accusingly.

"Hn," Sasuke closed his eyes and turned his head away defiantly. Truth be told he knew he was better than Sakura, but he wasn't about to argue with Naruto again.

"Well, here we are," Kakashi announced. They opened the front gate and walked through the grassy front yard till they reached the front door. After ringing the doorbell, Kakashi smiled. "Well, have fun!"

"Eh?! Where are you going, Kakashi-sensei?!" Naruto said as Kakashi spun on his heels and made to walk away.

"I've got seats booked at the cinema, so I'm going to catch a movie! Don't worry," he smiled, "you'll be fine! They're just kids!"

And with that he left the three shocked ninjas waiting on the porch.

"Ah good! You're here!" A plump woman clad in shocking red attire opened the door. Her brown hair was dishevelled and she looked extremely worn-out, her eyes circled with dark bags.

"Uh, excuse me miss, what sort of kids are we talking about here?" Naruto asked, worried.

The woman forced out a strained laugh. "Oh they're angels really; they're just a bit misunderstood!"

Sasuke's jaw clenched."How many are there?" he narrowed his eyes when he noticed the sheepish expression she'd acquired.

"Oh, you know…twelve or so…"

"TWELVE?!" Sakura exclaimed.

"Well, you know. Round about. Thinking about it, it may be a tad more, but you'll be fine! I should be back at eight!" She hurriedly pushed past the three. Sasuke couldn't help but compare her to someone fleeing.

Fuck. He groaned inwardly. Kids. Ugh.

"Right. Well, come on," he said to the other two and trudged into the house.

"SASUKE!" A yell came from behind him, and in an instant he felt a body push him to the ground right before a vase hit the spot he'd been a moment before, smashing into the hallway wall behind him.

"What the…?" Sasuke muttered, then realised it was Naruto and he was lying on all the right places on top of him. "What was that about PDA, dobe?" Sasuke grinned. "Getting a bit hasty, aren't we?"

Naruto's face quickly turned a bright pink as he scowled and shoved himself off Sasuke. "Horny bastard."

"Anikiiii," a boy's voice whined. "The sitters are having butt-sex in our hallway!"

Just as a furious Naruto turned an even brighter red and Sakura let her jaw fall slack, a small child ran acrossthe hallway.

"OI BRAT!" Naruto screeched, scrambling over Sasuke after the kid.

"Who's having butt-sex?!" A grey-haired boy emerged, fuming.

"NO ONE!" Naruto roared. The boy narrowed his eyes at him. Naruto returned the glare.

"O-Ohayo!" Sakura forced a smile at the boy while shoving Naruto away. "We're the baby-sitters!"

"You? You need baby-sitters yourself," the boy told her rudely.

"Oi! We're ninjas, runt!" Naruto spat. He was clearly referring to how skinny the boy was.

This is getting us nowhere. Sasuke sighed.

"Look, we're going to be looking after you for next few hours, so you better get used to us." He looked down his nose at the kid, taking advantage of his height.

"Not likely." The kid stared up at the raven defiantly. "I make the rules round here."

Sasuke snorted. "You wish. Now where're the rest of you?"

"Aniki! Don't tell them anything!" the small boy whispered loudly, staring up at Sasuke with huge green eyes. In a way, he was cute, with ginger-blonde hair and a round face, but he was still a noisy, bratty, annoying kid.

"As if!" The grey kid huffed. "C'mon, let's go round to-"

Sasuke very nearly jumped as the boy was transported to the wooden floor with an audible smack.

"NOW LISTEN HERE BRAT!" Sasuke blinked. Sakura? Her eyes were wild with anger and fist still stretched out in front of here. "YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEN TO US, GOT IT?!"

The boy groaned, hand clutching his throbbing jaw, but nodded.

Sakura sighed, and then blushed when she noticed Sasuke staring at her. "Uh…ignore me Sasuke! That's never happened before."

Naruto piped up. "That was awesome!"

Sasuke smirked and saw Sakura's eyes glisten at his approval.

"Aniki!" The ginger kid looked like he was about to cry, and proceeded to glomp his brother. "Nezu-kun! I don't like them!"

"It's alright! I promise I'll be nice now!" Sakura said earnestly, trying to get a smile from the boy; her expression faltered at his fearful whimper.

"Look," the grey kid pushed the ginger off of him and stood up with a grunt."I couldn't give a fuck if you punched me, but you touch my siblings and I will fucking murder you."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes. The way he talked gave him the impression it wasn't a bluff. In a way, Sasuke respected that, but at the same time he thought it was stupid.

"I-I won't hurt anyone else…I just, got really annoyed, and couldn't control myself!" Sakura was backed up slightly. "I promise I won't hurt your siblings."

The boy looked satisfied with her answer, and his eyes softened. "Sorry for being rude. Just the mention of butt-sex and I get angry. We had a problem a little while back that I'm not going to embarrass you with." He smirked and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

"Well it's nice to meet you anyway! I'm Harano Sakura." Sakura smiled. The mood was much lighter than it had been a few moments ago.

"Nice to meet you too, Harano-san. You're gonna love all my siblings, I just know it." And with that, he left.

No sibling honorifics? Sasuke pondered. Maybe he's just too rude. But why'd he give Sakura –san then?

Sasuke let it leave his mind, though it still bugged him. He'd ask later though. Right now he needed to find the masses of children that apparently lived here.

As if in answer to his unvoiced question, a scream came from the end of the hallway, and a brunette girl clambered down the carpeted stairs, followed by a black haired boy. Before any of the ninjas could say anything, the two kids slammed into them, knocking all of them onto the ground in a chaotic dogpile.

"Itai…" the brunette moaned, but made no motion to get off.

"Can you get off me please?" Naruto grumbled beneath her, squirming in an attempt to push her off. The girl shifted awkwardly and unlocked herself from the cluttered mass of limbs.

"Who are you?" The black haired boy who'd been chasing the girl spoke, untangling himself from a pissed-off Sasuke.

"We're the baby-sitters!" Sasuke hissed, standing up and brushing himself off. They hadn't even moved from the hallway yet!

"Heh…you're awful pretty for baby-sitters," the boy smirked at Sasuke, unsettling the Uchiha with his rabid gaze. "Say, have you ever played midget boxing?"

"What?" Sasuke frowned. The fuck?

"It's easy! I'll get down on my knees and give you a few blows." The boy grinned, an untamed fetish in his indigo blue eyes.

Sasuke clenched his fist to punch the man-whore into oblivion, but before he could Sakura leached onto his arm and the brunette girl did it for him.

"ISAMI YOU CRAZY SLUT!" the girl roared as she connected her fist with the boy's jaw, knocking him back onto the floor. "You don't just fucking offer complete strangers BJs!"

Ah, so that one's Isami. Sasuke growled mentally. He had loosened his fist, and Sakura had let go.

"Ow! Taeko-chan!" the boy moaned, rubbing his injured face.

And that one's Taeko, the so called 'only other normal one'.

"Listen, we don't particularly want to be here, so can you just gather all your siblings into the living room so we can explain what's going to happen," Sasuke breathed through clenched Kakashi, fuck him to hell!

The brunette studied him for a while, taking in all his features. The raven felt uncharacteristically unsettled by her gaze.

"You've meet Nezu-kun?" she asked. Sasuke furrowed his brows. Nezumika was his last name, meaning they all shared it.

…So Nezu-kun?

"Um, yes, we have," Sakura said. She also looked slightly confused.

"He was really rude!" Naruto complained. Judging by his expression, Naruto hadn't noticed anything odd. Go figure.

"Yeah, that's Nezu-kun! Just ignore him." She laughed awkwardly, blushing slightly. "I'll get everyone down. You can help yourself to food if you want."

Naruto perked up, looking at Taeko gleefully. "Woo! Free food!"

Taeko grinned at the cheerful blonde boy and Isami smirked ravenously. "I'll show you the kitchen," he purred.

Isami led Naruto away from the hallway. Sasuke growled as he saw his pale hand wander too far down Naruto's lower back, onto his butt, but he didn't say anything. No matter how much he loved Naruto, he wasn't about to go shouting his feelings while it was still (temporarily, he assured himself) unrequited. Unless, of course, that person was Naruto.

Sasuke waited for Taeko to call everyone down, but instead she rooted round for something. He frowned when she brought out a match.

"What are you planning to do, smoke them out?" Sasuke continued to watch as she lit it.

"My voice isn't loud enough to call them all down. Plus, I forget their names sometimes." Taeko reached up and wave the lit match under the smoke alarm.

Sasuke raised his eyebrow at her in puzzlement, then realised what she was doing.

"Wai-!" Sasuke was too late. The smoke alarm went off, and a shrill siren rang throughout the house. He pinched the nose of his bridge, feeling a migraine coming on. The hell was wrong with these kids?

He watched as a hurricane of children scrambled either down the stairs, or through doors along the hallway. They were all bustling towards the living room, complaining about the noise, or trying to outdo it with their own screams.

Taeko reached up in order to turn the alarm off, but she was just a couple inches short. She was a tall person, especially for a girl, but not that tall. Sasuke watched as she stretched, scowling as her fingers ghosted the button.

He sighed and reached up easily to press the button. The alarm rang a couple more times then turned off. Taeko stared at Sasuke, and then her eyes nervously flickered around the room. She ended up coughing an embarrassed 'thank you' and then walking round to join her siblings.

Sakura pouted childishly beside him."I don't like her," she announced.

"It doesn't matter. We're looking after her and her siblings for a while so you'd better get used to her." Sasuke knew Sakura was jealous, but didn't bring it up, since he didn't care.

At that moment Isami re-entered the hallway. That took a while, Sasuke thought suspiciously.

"Uzu-chan is happy eating right now," Isami said to Sasuke, who was mentally fuming at Isami's excessive friendliness towards Naruto.

"That's fine. We just need to introduce ourselves. Naruto needn't be there." Sakura appeared fairly disgusted by the boy. Sasuke felt like growling at the way she regarded Naruto.

Isami walked towards the living-room, he turned to Sasuke and grinned mischievously. "You coming?"

Sasuke gave the boy a death glare, having caught on with the innuendo. He furiously bit back a witty – and highly perverted – retort, and went into the living room.

XXX

Naruto slurped on noodles and mused over everything that had happened that day. Sasuke was still talking about loving him and had kissed him again. What horrified Naruto the most was that, well, he was okay with it. He wasn't completely repulsed by the idea of him and Sasuke as…a couple, and in all honesty the attention he was receiving warmed his heart. What worried him most was that Sasuke was joking; if Naruto fell for it and got crushed, he didn't know what would happen to him. He couldn't handle anymore negativity that people might throw at him. It would be alright if he wasn't alone, but if Sasuke was just tricking him, that would crush him.

Could he risk it?

"No," he said to himself, shaking his head to rid his mind of the thoughts. "I'm not gay, so it's not possible for us to be together. Shut up, Uzumaki, and concentrate on important things." Once his head was free from thoughts, he let them wander to this mission. It was going to be a handful, no doubt, but the kids seemed like people with their priorities set straight.

That Isami was really weird though. In all honesty, Naruto had no clue what he was talking about with 'giving Sasuke a few blows' and why Sasuke had looked so furious. He was talking about punching him right? And then that Taeko girl had said something about him offering 'complete strangers BJs'. Naruto made a mental note to ask Sasuke later.

After finishing his noodles, Naruto decided he'd better show his face during this mission. Even though it was sure to be boring, he didn't want to be a dead-weight. He stretched – the food had made him slightly sleepy – and headed out the door.

"Huh?" Naruto blinked as he reached the sitting-room door. At the foot of it, a boy was splayed out along the floor, seemingly unmoving.

Naruto crouched down, scrutinising him, then came to the conclusion he was asleep. "You can't just sleep in the hallway!" he shouted, as though he was expecting the boy to leap up, apologise and be on his way.

He scowled when nothing happened.

"Come on, wake up!" He shook the teenager, trying in vain to stir him. "Wake up!" he shouted again, this time slapping him. "Damn it!"

He sighed, deciding he'd just have to drag him. Muttering light curses, he hooked his arms under the boy's armpits, skillfully opened the door with his elbow, and then immediately dropped the boy when he saw the sitting-room.

Blurs of clothing were racing in all directions throughout the room, like colours in a blender. Broken objects could be spotted between trampling feet and grabbling hands. His mouth agape, Naruto continued to stare, until he finally noticed Sasuke sitting cross-legged on the wall, hovering horizontally above everyone else, his expression bored. Sakura was half as mental as the kids as she ran desperately after them.

"S-Sakura-chan? Sasuke?" Only Sasuke appeared to hear him. The raven looked over at Naruto as the blonde stepped into the room with shocked caution, forgetting about the slumbering boy he'd left on the floor behind him.

"Naruto, I know these children are misbehaved, but you didn't have to go so far as to kill one of them," Sasuke taunted playfully. His eyes were closed and he looked very comfortable horizontal.

"Teme! I didn't kill him, he was just asleep outside the door! Why don't you get down from there and help out Sakura-chan?!" He stuck his hand out in Sakura's direction. She finally noticed Naruto.

"NARUTO! Get some clones to restrain these kids!" she demanded, her pink hair disheveled and her face flushed from running about.

"Right! KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!" Naruto grinned, made hand seals and let everyone watch as a dozen shadow clones poofed into existence. "Okay," he said to his clones, "you listen to everything Sakura-chan has to say, alright?"

"Yosh!" one clone exclaimed, resulting in a disbelieving stare from all present Narutos. "Uh…I mean, sure?"

"Just get to work! Sakura-chan, tell them what to do!"

Sakura nodded, green eyes determined. "What will you be doing then, Naruto?"

"Getting Sasuke off the wall!" He looked round at Sasuke, a mischievous smirk on his face.

Sasuke smirked, eyes still closed, while Sakura worked on getting the kids under control. "Well, usuratonkachi? Standing there isn't going to move me."

Naruto knew Sasuke had officially challenged him, even if it was in a playful manner. It was moments like this, when Sasuke was just being a kid with Naruto, that made the blonde remember why they were best friends. "Heh, you'll regret ever challenging me, baka!"

XXX

Sakura watched with hidden amusement at her teammates play-fighting while the shadow clones worked on calming down the children. One clone had even taken it in his stride to try and wake up that narcoleptic kid on the floor. It was good to know that the boys were getting along, and really Sakura didn't resent the close relationship Naruto had with Sasuke, even if jealousy did growl slightly within her stomach. There wasn't much she wouldn't give to be able to talk and mess around like that with Sasuke. It was odd that the fair-skinned teen was so willing to let his guard down with Naruto, when he was everything that Sasuke appeared to hate: childish, loud, and not afraid to mess up that perfect raven hair. Why was it they got on so well? She wondered. She would never dream of acting like that.

I guess that's the difference in our relationships. One of love and the other of friendship, she thought, not knowing how close she was to the truth, yet at the same time how far.

She sat on the sofa, still staring at Naruto's hilarious attempts to get Sasuke's feet on the floor. A few of the children had actually stopped running around to watch.

"How long have they been together?" A voice came from next to her on the sofa, startling Sakura and forcing a small 'eep' out of her. She scowled as she recognised the brunette from earlier. Taeko.

"Sasuke-kun and Naruto? Well we've all been teammates for around a year and a half," the Sakura answered reluctantly. Talking to Taeko wasn't something she wanted to do.

Taeko shook her head. "No, I mean together. Dating."

Sakura nearly fell of the sofa. "Whaaat?! Naruto and Sasuke-kun dating?! What on Earth are you talking about?!" she rambled, unable to process Taeko's words.

"They're not going-out?"Taeko blinked, sounding genuinely surprised, and then looked back at the boys. Naruto was on the ceiling (though she couldn't for the life of her figure out why), and Sasuke was busy checking his spotless nails for dirt.

"Of course not! I don't know what gave you that idea, but I can promise you that Sasuke-kun would never go out with Naruto." She almost laughed, the idea was so incomprehensible. Taeko gave Sakura a displeased look.

"Well, why not? They certainly seem happy in each other's company, and there's no denying the obvious chemistry between them. If they're not dating now, they will be in the future."

"They're both boys, in case you haven't noticed."

"And?" she asked, frustrated.

"And they're both straight!" Sakura didn't want to appear small-minded about homosexuality. "I mean, Naruto's had a crush on me for years and Sasuke-kun…" She trailed off, words failing her. On reflection, she couldn't find a single aspect of Sasuke that would absolutely confirm he was straight.

"And Sasuke-kun…?" Taeko prompted, a smug smile stretched across her round face.

"Sasuke-kun hasn't ever shown interest in any boys," she said resolutely. Taeko just closed her eyes and smirked.

"He seems to be showing quite a bit of interest in one particular boy." She nodded her head in the direction of Sasuke and Naruto. Sakura followed her gaze to where both boys were laughing, though Sasuke was clearly trying to hide it with his hand. Sakura continued to stare, speechless. Surely it couldn't be that Sasuke and Naruto were…like that?

"It makes no sense though. I mean, Naruto definitely isn't gay and they've been like rivals the minute they saw each other!" The information that this brunette was feeding Sakura's brain tasted cold and unsettling in her stomach.

Taeko shrugged. "He's only thirteen. You can't determine your sexuality that young. I expect they've matured much faster than anyone else though, which would be why they've moved on from being rivals."

Sakura took a glance at her companion; her eyes were gazing thoughtfully at Sakura's teammates. "Why do you think they've matured faster?"

"Everyone knows about the Uchiha massacre and Naruto doesn't have any parents either. You have to mature faster without a guardian." She stiffened at the words, her expression pained.

Sakura's quick mind caught on, and she felt a small prick of pity. "You're…you're all orphans."

Taeko smiled half-heartedly. "Took you long enough; Nezu-kun just likes to call us his siblings. But anyway, don't worry yourself about your teammates. I'm probably completely wrong and they're just in a serious bromance." The brunette stood up, leaving Sakura alone on the sofa.

Sakura was stubborn by nature, so her opinion of the other girl hadn't changed, though a part of her knew it should've.

She ignored it, distracting herself with checking on Naruto's clones. From what she could see, most were sitting on the floor or chairs, talking or watching the TV that had been turned on, and there were actually only 4 that were still running around (the lady had majorly under-exaggerated; Sakura had counted 22 children). More intervention was still required though, that much was clear. She got up with a small sigh and walked over to where Naruto was jumping up and down on Sasuke. "Naruto! Sasuke-kun!" she said to them. Neither moved from their positions.

"Ah, Sakura-chan! Help me get this teme off the wall!" Naruto asked, giving up on jumping and resorting to prying at Sasuke's legs.

Sakura kept her face straight. "We need to do this mission! These kids need feeding, entertaining and looking after!"

Naruto stopped and Sasuke sighed. "She's right, idiot. Okay, get off me." Sasuke shoved Naruto to the floor, who landed with a thump.

"Oi!" Naruto grumbled, and then his eyes widened as Sasuke got off the wall. "Hey, hey, you're off the wall!" he shouted happily.

"Yes but it wasn't you who got me off." Sasuke smirked playfully. Inner-Sakura squealed at the expression; oh Sasuke, why are you so gorgeous?

"Why you, TEME!" Naruto made to punch the raven, but he dodged it skillfully, managing to grab Naruto's hand and then dragged him along to the centre of the room.

"C'mon. We need to actually work, you realise."

Naruto looked ready to explode. "LET GO OF ME, YOU BASTARD!" he shouted furiously, flailing in Sasuke's grip.

"Naruto, don't use that sort of language in front of the kids!" Sakura scolded him, highly amused at the situation.

"But Sakura-chan-!"

"Right, now pay attention everyone!" Sakura began in a loud voice, cutting off a fuming Naruto. Sakura looked at their hands quizzically; she was sure Sasuke had grabbed Naruto by the wrist – how is it that now they're holding hands? It can't have been an accident: Sasuke's fingers were locked with Naruto's in an almost tender way. "We're going to serve dinner in a few hours, so in order to keep you in check till then we need you all to stay in here."

"But we'll get bored!" A boy shouted from the sofa.

"Well that's what we're here for," Sakura said pleasantly.

"I want Uzu-chan to keep me entertained!" All the shinobi reluctantly recognised the voice of Isami, who sat smirking on the floor. Naruto was the only one who didn't realise his true intentions.

"Well you can't have him!" Sasuke growled, tightening his grip on Naruto's hand. Sakura felt herself heat up. Could Taeko be right about them?

As though Naruto could read her thoughts, he subtly freed his hand from Sasuke, stretching his fingers in a way that is forced Sasuke's hand away. It wasn't obvious enough to embarrass Sasuke, but it was clearly an action of 'I'm uncomfortable with this position'. It was probably just awkward wording from Sasuke, Sakura told herself.

"O-Okay, it'll work like this!" Naruto said. "You can choose to either stay here to watch TV, run around outside, or help prepare dinner."

Ah, good plan Naruto!

"What are you going to be doing, Uzumaki-san?" This time it was a small girl.

"You can call me Naruto, and I'll be doing anything but cooking." He grinned and the little girl giggled. Sakura almost smiled at how easily he could laugh at himself.

"Sakura, would you like to cook or should I?" Sasuke asked her, in his usual monotone.

"Oh, I don't really mind." Sakura blushed slightly. Her cooking was awful, but she didn't want to tell Sasuke that; after all, who wanted a wife who couldn't cook?

"Ah, Sasuke's really good at cooking!" Naruto exclaimed, almost too excited. Sasuke looked slightly annoyed and Sakura remembered that Sasuke had stayed over at Naruto's last night.

"Alright then, Sasuke-kun you can cook. Who wants to join him?" Sakura asked, and then suppressed a groan as nearly every single girl jumped up eagerly.

Sasuke and Naruto looked equally pleased. "Bastard," Naruto hissed, so low Sakura nearly didn't hear it.

"Jealous?" Sasuke asked, just as quietly, with a small smirk on his lips.

Naruto narrowed his eyes angrily, then appeared to realise something and looked hurriedly at his smirking companion. "Not of them! Not them!"

Sasuke laughed as Naruto shoved him teasingly. Sakura blinked. Sasuke laughed? But…it wasn't in a mocking way, but a genuine 'that was funny' way. What is going on between them?

She tried to ignore it, though it was easier said than done. "Naruto, you have more stamina, so you can go with them outside and I'll stay here and tidy up." That last part was mainly for Sasuke to hear, but she really was planning on tidying up the ridiculous mess they'd created.

"Alright! Who wants to run around outside?" Naruto asked cheerfully. Mostly boys stood up, though it was a few girls, including the small one who spoke before.

"And the rest can stay with me," Sakura said happily. Things were starting to look better.

Team 7 split up to carry out their duty, though it wasn't exactly plain sailing: Sasuke had to deal with girls who would rather drool over him than their potential meal; Naruto had a huge argument over whether to play football or bulldog (the latter won eventually); and Sakura, no longer able to deal with the war going on over what to watch, ended up giving the remote to someone else, which resulted in some random soap opera.

But all the same, Team 7 managed to keep all the rowdy children under control right up until dinner (which was a less than pleasant affair) and afterwards they sent the younger ones to bed.

At 8:00, they were too tired to move off the sofa, so they all sat together, with Naruto in between Sasuke and Sakura, and all the kids either watching TV or their rooms.

"Hey guys…do you really think this should've been a C Class mission?" Naruto droned drowsily; he had been running around outside for a good few hours.

"Hn. Well, it was a lot of children," Sasuke replied, also tired.

"Yeah, but they were alright. I mean, I know you guys don't like Isami-"

"Hey!" came the indignant call from the black-haired boy, who was listening in.

"-But I think that they're all just really good kids at the end of the day," Naruto mused happily. "I think we did a good job in looking after them."

"I hate kids," Sasuke said off-handedly.

"Of course you do, teme, but remember you were a kid once. Heh, I remember you were much nicer then…" Naruto remembered with a smile. "…But not quite as attractive," he finished with a yawn and felt his head drop onto Sasuke's shoulder.

Sasuke smiled. "Baka." He flicked the top of the blonde's hair, whose only response was to snuggle closer. The raven closed his eyes with a small "Hn," and just let Naruto warm his chest.

"Um…Sasuke-kun?"

He opened one eye to look at Sakura, who was sitting rather awkwardly on the other end of the sofa.

"Hn?"

"Did…something happen between you and Naruto?" she asked, blushing slightly.

"…No," he answered curtly and closed his eyes again. Sakura didn't need to know anything that was happening in his personal life.

"Oh, okay then."

He couldn't tell if she was convinced; probably not, but then again he wasn't about to lose sleep over it.

Silence settled over the three shinobi, so all that could be heard was the TV playing repeats. Whether anyone was actually watching them was irrelevant; they continued on regardless.

Finally, the long-awaited sound of the door opening was heard. "Ah, that'll be their guardian home!" Sakura said, eager to leave the silence. But before she could move, all the children scrambled up to greet the woman.

"Muuuum!" they chorused gleefully. The plump lady smiled, gathering all the kids in a hug.

Sakura grinned at the sight. They really were good children, and she hoped to have kids like that when she was older. She imagined her and Sasuke surrounded by happy children: there'd be three, two girls and a boy that resembled his father so much it was striking. Sasuke would walk in through the door and his children would happily scramble into his arms, as Sakura looked on with an amused smile. They'd kiss and talk about their day, then send the children to bed and talk for hours.

But where was Naruto? He could never leave their lives, after all. She tried to paint him in, as Sasuke's best friend that came round for a drink occasionally. Wait, no, that's not right. She frowned. Sasuke and Naruto had always been the closest out of Team 7. He could never third wheel Sasuke and Sakura like that.

The only way Sakura could imagine Naruto was if she and Sasuke weren't together…

She gave a small cough, shaking the thought from her head and turned her attention to the blonde ninja sleeping on Sasuke. "Sasuke-kun, you better wake him up, we need to get going."

Sasuke opened both eyes this time, and looked first at Sakura, and then at Naruto, who was snuggled up against his chest, looking undeniably adorable.

"It's fine. I'll take him home; no need to wake him up," he told her, and then with a small grunt, maneuvered his arms underneath his knees and across his back, like a groom would his bride. Naruto let out a small incomprehensible murmur, but other than that didn't stir.

"Are you sure, Sasuke-kun? I mean, he must be heavy and you don't even have his house keys," Sakura asked warily, unsure of what Sasuke was doing.

"It's fine, Sakura." Her stomach flipped slightly when he said her name. "It's only fair that I let him sleep at my house after last night." As though the blonde weighed nothing, he carried Naruto through the hallway and out the front door. Sakura ran after him.

"Wait, Sasuke-kun!" He stopped and turned his head in her direction grudgingly. "Uh…Don't you think we should wait for Kakashi-senseii? I mean, he really should be the one to tell us we can go home."

"Good point. You wait here and tell him Naruto and I have gone home," he said, and leapt away before she could protest any further.

Sakura stood on the porch, staring at the point where Sasuke had been.

"Hey, Sakura!"

She jumped as a voice appeared next to her.

"O-Oh, Kakashi-senseii," she greeted the jounin. "Naruto and Sasuke-kun have left to go home already."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow, but didn't questionher. "Right, well, I suppose I'll sort out the details here; you go on home."

She bowed slightly. "Thank you Kakashi-senseii." She walked home slowly, her mind buzzing with confusion. Something had happened between the two ninjas, she was sure of it. Maybe they'd just become closer, as friends. That was a good thing, she guessed.

Oh well, whatever it is, it's not exactly going to destroy your life. Come on Sakura, just focus on important things, she told herself firmly, and dispelled the thoughts, continuing on to her house.

XXX

"Muh…The only way…is…Essex…" Naruto muttered, the previous reality trash shows still swirling in his dreams. He was half-awake now, but incredibly comfortable wherever he was. His mind didn't want to figure out where he was, but then he unwillingly remembered the mission.

He sprung up, making his head ache and black-and-white swirls appear in his eyes. "Wha…" He rubbed his eyes to get rid of the head-rush and finally looked around. "This isn't happening," he groaned as he recognised the spotless adobe of Uchiha Sasuke. Why had the bastard taken him to his house?

With an incoherent grumble, Naruto flung off the covers. He found his shirt and jumper folded on a chair, as Sasuke had the decency to undress him only halfway. Throwing them on, he walked through the house to where he knew the kitchen (and therefore Sasuke) was.

I know this bastard too well for my own good, Naruto thought as he found Sasuke reading a book at the table, a half empty bowl of noodles in front of him, chopsticks in his left hand.

"Sasuke, why am I at your house?" Naruto growled. So maybe he was being a bit rude, but he'd just woken up (never a good thing), and at Sasuke's house no less.

"You fell asleep and I don't have your keys," the Uchiha said, putting his book down and looking at him.

As plausible as his answer was, Naruto was far from happy. "Well you should've woken me up then. It's not a normal thing for friends to just sleep round each other's houses without permission or warning."

"What about couples?"

Naruto felt pure, harsh anger rage up beneath his skin. "I'm not your boyfriend!" he yelled. Sasuke didn't bat an eyelash, but Naruto saw the pain twinge in his eyes. He breathed. Being angry in this situation wasn't going to help anyone. "I'm sorry…f-for yelling," he added on quickly, lest Sasuke got the wrong idea, "but Sasuke you have to stop this. I'm not fooling around here-"

"Neither am I," Sasuke growled, eyes dangerous.

"Please, Sasuke," Naruto asked, almost pleaded, quietly. "I'm a thirteen-year-old boy ninja. I'm your best friend and I'm not going to go out with you."

Sasuke didn't know any of the foreign swirls of emotions that had made themselves at home in the pit of his stomach, but they weren't nice. He narrowed his eyes and looked to the side. "Sure. That's what you think."

Naruto's right eye twitched. How cocky was this bastard?! He gritted his teeth. "Bye teme, I'm going home."

With a few furious strides, Naruto vacated the Uchiha's spotless house, leaving Sasuke to dwell on his thoughts.

Who does he think he is?! Naruto fumed, walking quickly. Sasuke can't just decide that we're together like that! I don't want it – it's not fair!

He couldn't be bothered to take the long route round to his house; he just needed to be away from that, now! Abandoning the tedious streets, he clambered up a nearby house, losing dexterity in his fingers from the cold.

Upon the top of the house, the cold wind cooled down his face, ruffling his hair and calming his temper. The wind had always been special in a way Naruto couldn't describe.

As he leapt across the rooftops, his anger was gradually stifled, and by the time he reached his house, he realised that, in reality, he had really over-reacted about everything.

He breathed slowly, feeling better after his journey home, then found to his horror that his door was unlocked. "Oh crap. I forgot to lock it," he groaned, opening the frail wooden door, and slamming it shut behind him.

"Naruto."

A yelp escaped the ninja as he swiveled round to see the intruder.

"It's alright; just me!" A familiar voice came from the interloper.

"Iruka-senseii!" Naruto exclaimed, gripping his former teacher in a hug.

"I-It's nice to see you too!" Iruka said, slightly winded from Naruto's bear-hug. He rubbed his neck and chuckled softly.

"Ha ha, sorry!" Naruto grinned sheepishly, loosening his grip.

"You left your door unlocked, you realise," Iruka told him, a frown and warning in his tone. "If you do that again you'll be robbed. It's a good thing I was going to pop in anyway."

"Thanks sensei! I promise I won't forget again!" Naruto grinned wholeheartedly and Iruka smiled. Naruto could be so adorable.

"But anyway, how're you doing?" Iruka prompted, wanting news about Naruto's infamous girlfriend Amaki.

Naruto froze up slightly; he wasn't really doing that well. Could he tell Iruka about his problems?

"Well…" Naruto started hesitantly, sitting down at his small table. The blonde was desperate to share his thoughts about Sasuke and get a second opinion, but there was a part of him that knew he couldn't say everything. "C-Can I tell you something?"

Iruka blinked. "Of course, Naruto. Anytime."

He breathed, mapping out what he needed to say; he would have to word this carefully. "I'm not sure what to do about someone who wants to, uh, take our current…relationship up to a new level."

What? A new level? This has to be Amaki right?Iruka was puzzled but didn't share his doubts. "And…you don't want to?"

"I-I don't know what I think! I really like them, but I've never thought about u-us like this before," Naruto stumbled over his words slightly, trying hard to make sure Iruka didn't catch on completely.

"Well, does it feel wrong to be in this new…level?" Iruka asked awkwardly. He'd given Naruto 'the talk' before, so trusted him to not be stupid about this.

"…No. I guess it freaks me out how right it feels actually," he admitted, the realisation shocking himself. When had it become so normal for Sasuke to act that way? Or maybe it was always like that, and Naruto just hadn't seen it.

"So what are you worried about?"

"That they're just messing about and will drop me first chance they get," Naruto said quietly. Iruka felt his stomach clench, and put a reassuring hand on Naruto's shoulder.

"Naruto, you've got to be careful here. Are they trust-worthy?" He gave a slightly squeeze that made Naruto feel better.

"I trust them with my life," he announced sternly and without a doubt. Iruka's surprised hand loosened slightly.

With his life?!

"Then…why do you not trust them now?"I knew Naruto was a trusting person, but this is unbelievable! He's only just met Amaki! How are they so close already? It normally takes years for that kind of bond to be built!

Naruto frowned slightly. "Because…them liking me makes no sense and I can't believe it."

Iruka said nothing for a while and just gazed on. "If they're truly trust-worthy, someone you could call a friend, then I know they won't trick you like that." He knew his words were true; everyone who actually knew Naruto would never hurt him, but it was whether or not Amaki was his friend in the first place…

"You sure?" Naruto asked hesitantly.

"Just establish that she's actually your friend first."

Naruto's heart skipped a bit as Iruka said 'she'. He hated lying to him. "Y-Yeah," he mumbled, the awkwardness of lying catching up to him in an instant.

Iruka didn't catch on though, and just gave his favourite student one final squeeze. "Okay Naruto. I'll leave now; you have a lot to think about."

Naruto barely managed a 'bye'; all his thoughts about Sasuke had just been completely changed. He knew absolutely that Sasuke was a friend, and Iruka had said that if he was sure, he should go ahead with it.

So what was stopping him?

"Eugh, sleep first, thinking second," he groaned, dragging himself to bed and taking off his shirt and jacket wearily.

As he slumped into to bed and snuggled up to the blankets, he realised sleepily that Sasuke's smell was still here. Without thinking about it, he gave the pillow a lazy punch. Then, nuzzled his nose deep into it, taking in every breath of the sweet scent he could, but still refusing to give the black-haired shinobi a thought.


Remember, reviewers get the next chapter dedicated to them! Thank you so much for your patience, I really hope you liked this chapter, though there was more humour than SasuNaru-y goodness xD

Oh and do take a moment to vote on a poll on my page (remember it's anonymous xD).

-Hollymist