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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Lost

Warnings: a little angst, slight shounen-ai, OOCness

Disclaimer: I don’t own Naruto or any associated characters.

“What are you doing here?” The question wasn’t as accusative as he thought it would be. It actually seemed to be filled with more anxiety and concern than hatred. He considered that a plus.

The moon hid behind the clouds as he stepped out from behind the tree. It was no use trying to hide anymore – he had been caught. Luckily, it had been Sakura who had discovered him first. He could trust her, at least for a short while.

“I have some business to take care of,” he replied calmly, unable to look his former teammate in the eye.

There was a thick tension in the air as the girl contemplated his answer. Giving their surroundings a quick surveillance, Sakura grabbed his wrist, pulling him deeper into the forest. She stopped once they reached a familiar clearing. He forced himself to swallow, closing his eyes against the whirlpool of emotions and memories. It was much too late for regrets now.

“You have no right to be here. If anyone else had seen you, you would be dead by now!” Urgency marked her words, producing an odd calming effect on him. With a forced sigh, he carefully lowered himself to the ground, making sure the tree protected his back.

“You think I don’t know that?” His voice didn’t display any of the turmoil he felt. It had been hard enough just to return.

The brief rustling of clothing alerted him to the fact that Sakura was moving. Instinctively, he prepared for an attack only to find himself sitting face to face with the girl. She was hidden by the darkness and the wind blowing her hair across her face. Truth be told, he didn’t know if he liked that idea. The past few years had made him wary of people he couldn’t see clearly.

“Sakura-“ he started, only to be abruptly cut off.

“Don’t,” she stated coldly.

“Don’t what?” The tension was back, only worse now. Nervously, he shifted his position, ready to bolt should he need to.

“Don’t call me that. You gave up that right when you ran away. I no longer know you.” Although her voice was soft, the accusation sounded loud in his head, cutting deeply into him.

The darkness became oppressive. The air became heavy and hot and it was difficult to breathe properly. For a moment, neither of them spoke.

“I’m sorry,” Sakura whispered swiftly. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“No, it’s okay.” He forced a smile on his face even though he knew she couldn’t see. “You’re right.”

Silence fell between them again, but this time it wasn’t so strained. After a few minutes, he cleared his throat to catch Sakura’s attention once more.

“So,” he began a little unsteadily, “how’ve you been?”

“He’s fine.”

“Mmm.” He stared at his hands for a second before her answer fully set in. “What? Who said I-“

“I know why you’re here,” she replied solemnly. He felt her gaze slide over him, as if assessing him. “You shouldn’t see him; it would only upset him.”

The wind picked up, loudly blowing through the trees and pushing the clouds aside. For the second time that night, the two old teammates were able to see each other. They stared at each other in the dim light, each noting what the trials of a few years had done to the other. Sakura had been treated much more kindly, he conceded.

“Sa-“ He stopped himself, coughing to cover his mistake. “Look, I just need to talk to him.”

Sadly, Sakura shook her head. Her hands were stretched out before her in a conciliatory manner.

“He’s never forgiven you. Only harm would come out of you seeing him again.”

Head hung in shame, he fisted his hands in his lap.

“What you did…it hurt him the most. You know better than I do what his life was like - that loneliness. And he trusted you more than anyone else! How can you even think of seeing him now? You have no idea what your leaving did!” Her words came out fast and harsh, anger from his deserting the village finally surging to the front of her emotions. “How can you even think of coming back after what you did to us?! Didn’t you even care what that would do? Or were you just too selfish to care? You have no idea what it was like; watching him suffer, try to act like nothing was wrong, pushing aside your own feelings just to make sure that he was fine. You nearly killed us - you destroyed our team!”

Choked breathing filled the air as Sakura paused.

“I haven’t forgiven you.”

He couldn’t look at her, even when she was covered by the dark. Everything she had said, everything that she had intoned had hit with an unintended deadly accuracy. Sakura’s breathing was harsh and ragged in the cool night air, each breath a stab to his gut.

“I can’t leave yet. I have to see him.”

With an awkward stiffness, Sakura stood, her gaze leveled above his head. Her hands were clenched at her sides, shaking from some unknown emotion.

“You should leave before anyone else finds you. You may not be so lucky next time to find a friend - you don’t have many of those left here.” The dull light reflected off the few tears she allowed herself to shed. “More than anything, I wish I could hate you right now.” Sad eyes stared down at him as she searched his face for something. “Why can’t I?”

Before he could say anything, Sakura took off into the forest, not once looking behind her.

“I can’t leave yet; I won’t leave until I see him,” he stated to the night. It had been a risk to come back, but he had been willing to take it if only to set things straight. More than willing.

After all, it was the least he could do.

As the moon began to descend, he finally mustered up the will to move from the clearing and finish his self-appointed goal. His presence wouldn’t go unnoticed for long. In fact, it was pure luck that he had only been spotted by Sakura; he was growing careless. And he didn’t even care.

Determined not to get caught until he found his other teammate, he slid into the shadows of the forest and began his journey to the village. However, he hadn’t gone very far until a familiar feeling jolted his senses. He nearly tripped from surprise, catching himself just before he fell out of the tree. Silently, he dropped to the ground.

His body shook with anticipation. He knew that chakra, that hidden intensity and wildness. His breathing quickened, coming to him in short gasps. Blood pounded furiously through his veins; his heartbeat sounded loud in his ears. Eternity seemed to have been caught in that one moment as he waited, searching for the person causing these feelings.

A twig snapped behind him and he turned, instinctively pulling a kunai out for use. The clouds moved, allowing the moon to peek through and provide a soft light for the moment.

His breath caught in his throat.


When had the other man gotten so near to him? Had he been that concentrated on his goal? Had Naruto excelled that much since they had last meet? Or worse…had he forgotten Naruto that much?


Dull blue eyes stared back at him, watching him without any show of emotion. Those were not the eyes that he remembered leaving behind. Had his leaving caused this much of a change? Had he really been wrong?


The other man didn’t move, didn’t speak. Naruto just stood there, looking at him with those dead eyes. This, more than Sakura’s accusations, more than the knowledge that he had deserted his own village, this show of nothingness from someone who had always just /been/…it cut deeper than anything else.


He was growing desperate. Naruto wasn’t responding to him, just looking. It was as if the other man didn’t recognize him. But this had been his reason for coming back; his reason for risking his life. To just see Naruto again and to set things straight between them.

The moon slid behind the clouds once more, covering the forest in darkness. He kept his eyes trained on Naruto, willing the other man to do something.

Nothing happened.

Without so much as a word, Naruto turned and walked away.

“Naruto!” he called out in vain, hoping that Naruto would return.

“Naruto!” He didn’t want to give up now, not when he had risked so much.

“Naruto.” No one was there to watch him fall after so many years. The night deepened, as he stood alone in the forest. With a newfound emptiness, he turned and left the forest as his teammates had done previously.

Why had he returned? He didn’t feel so sure of that answer anymore.

AN: Wow…this piece didn’t come out how I saw at all. I’d say it really sucks. But it wasn’t meant to be anything great; just an idea that hit me upside the head while I was in B&N. Saw a book with the title “You Can Never Go Home”, or something like that, and the idea just struck. If anyone’s curious, the back story is that Sasuke left with Orochimaru to gain more power, became a missing-nin and is now supposed to be killed.

As for not using his name at all…I thought it added to the story. My mind is doing odd things now that I’ve gotten into Naruto . First a second POV fic and now this. Sorry if it’s confusing.

Hmmm….please review? ;;

Art of Losing

Disclaimer: Naruto and any associated characters do not belong to me.

Spoilers: None

Rating: PG

Pairings: Sakura+Sasuke, SasuNaru

Summary: Sakura’s thinking and trying to hide.

Art of Losing

Author: Lady Cosmos

Sakura hated being the analytical one. It was nice to be depended on, to know that you would be needed, would always be turned to when the situation got complicated, because you could see through everything. It was true, Sakura didn’t have the fighting talent that Sasuke or Naruto possessed and so had to depend on those skills to keep herself on the same level as her teammates. But Sakura hated being the analytical one.

Because, being analytical meant you usually saw things others did not. You could see patterns and holes in theories and actions; you were able to see past the noticeable and discover the truth. And no matter how much you kept telling yourself you weren’t seeing everything because you were too emotionally attached, you just couldn’t deny the evidence.

You could keep telling yourself that Naruto’s yelling and bumbling were his true self and not an act. But you knew that when he yelled, “Sasuke! You bastard!”, like that, that it wasn’t from anger or hatred towards the other; it was from his own frustration and self-directed anger. But his yelling also meant that he was with Sasuke, training to become stronger.

Which meant being left further behind.

“Idiot! You are too obvious! Try and hide your actions and stop going for a straight hit. Quit being so stupid!” And you knew that Sasuke’s comments weren’t from contempt like they had once been. They were now from the same frustration Naruto had; frustration at not improving, at forgetting simple things and…

“Sakura. Pay attention.”

“A-ah. Yeah.” And after so long, you knew why Kakashi-sensei always had Naruto and Sasuke train together, why he insisted on letting them figure things out for themselves.

Because together, Sasuke and Naruto were nearly unbeatable. While you could possibly help at the beginning of a fight, discovering the trick the enemy was using…it was Sasuke and Naruto that overcame it, defeating the enemy. Because they pushed each other to become better, stronger. They had a bond that you couldn’t begin to partake of.

And that seclusion hurt more than anything else.

“All right. We’re done for today.”

“Mmm…Kakashi-sensei?” So you keep looking for anything that will tell you you’re wrong; something that will completely reverse everything that you’ve been trying to hide from yourself.

“What is it, Sakura?”

But you hate yourself for asking because you know that you won’t find anything. That what he’ll tell you will only further cement the conclusion that you’ve come up with, and pushed away, time and time again. And you can’t even look him in the eyes, knowing that in them you’ll see something that you can’t hide from.

“Well…Sasuke-kun and Naruto…what do you think of them?”

“Hmmm? Them? They’re improving at a quick pace. They work much better together than ever before.” Even though he is purposefully vague, you can’t help but grasp onto that small bit of hope. “Well, at least they haven’t killed each other yet.”

“Umm…yeah.” But you still can’t convince yourself.

“Don’t worry, Sakura. They won’t leave you behind.” And it was frustrating how he always knew more than he let on; you were quite sure he did it on purpose, too. “Why don’t you go get them. I’m sure Naruto won’t want to miss dinner.”


Being the analytical one sucked. There just wasn’t another way to put it. While other girls were still lost in their fantasies and daydreams, wondering if there was ever a chance, you knew the truth. Not only because you saw them every day, but because you were able to see past their facades.

“Sasuke-kun? Naruto?”

You were able to see past their rivalry and hatred of each other and see what their intense glares really meant.

“What is it?”

Those words, now directed at you, were no longer able to set your heart pounding because they merely acknowledged your presence, nothing more than that. And you notice that his gaze is still on Naruto, never moving for a moment.

“Kakashi-sensei says we’re done for the day.”

“Ah. Just give us a little longer.”

You know you’re nothing more than an interruption, because they won’t stop until they want to. They’ll train until neither can stand, then finally come back supporting one another, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders and waists. That’s something you can’t ignore, no matter how hard you try because it’s what you’ve imagined happening to yourself many times; it’s exactly how you imagined it happening, down to the slight tightening of his fingers around your waist.

Except it’s not you that he’s holding, and you want nothing more than to deny what your mind keeps telling you. But you can’t, and you hate yourself for it.

So you say things and do things to get their attention, to make sure that they don’t leave you behind.

“You’ll miss dinner if you don’t come now.” And you can’t help but feel satisfied when Naruto proves you haven’t been forgotten.

“Nooo!! Sasuke! We’re stopping now. I’m not missing dinner this time.”

“It was your own fault last time, idiot. Don’t blame me for your mistakes.”

It’s at times like these that you can allow yourself to forget; when they bicker so violently, you can almost imagine that everything you’ve seen, heard and concluded isn’t the truth.

“Don’t call me that! You bastard!”

“What? Idiot? Then stop being one.”

You allow yourself to slip back into a familiarity of actions long since forgotten, their meanings changing some obscure time back. And as you walk back with them, you can’t help but let yourself glance at him with hopes that he’ll be looking at you even if it’s for a moment.

“Ahh! It was great, Sakura-chan. Sasuke fell for a simple trick…” But as he talks, you’re able to notice how Sasuke’s eyes watch him more closely. There’s also something in that gaze that sends shivers down your spine. Something that you wish was directed towards you. So you look away, more annoyed than before at the one-time freak in front of you.

“Naruto! Don’t be so annoying!”

“I was just distracted. I won’t fall for the same thing again.”

“Heh. You’re just mad that…gah!”

As he falls, you feel bad that you rejoice from his pain, but you can’t help it. Why should he get everything you wanted? and worked for? How could someone like him…

“Watch it!”


But he’s always there to catch Naruto; always there for Naruto. It’s always Naruto and never you. You tell yourself it’s because you’re hardly ever in the sort of danger Naruto is and that if you ever were, he would be there for you too. It’s simply the fact that Naruto gets in so much trouble that…

“Naruto! Would you quit being a nuisance?” As they finally stop looking at each other, the moment broken by your harsh insult, you know that that’s not the truth. No matter what happens, Sasuke will always be there for Naruto. “Geez…can we just make it back to camp without you trying to kill yourself?”

Your words are harsh and bitter, but you can’t help it. No matter how much you’ve come to respect him, he took everything you ever worked for away. Without even trying, or thinking, he smashed your hopes and dreams. So you can’t help but feel resentful.


Even if he does deserve it more than you.

It’s because you can’t accept it that you push it away and ignore it. Because you don’t want to give up the dream you’ve held on to for so long. You don’t want to have to grow up and realize how foolish you were. You’re just not ready to face reality.

“Back so soon? Mmm…and it was just getting interesting.”

But you’re analytical. And when the whole team is together, you can’t help but watch the others and try to figure them out. So you notice how Kakashi-sensei, even though he has that perverted book of his up, isn’t really reading it but watching each of you. Just as you watch him. More than likely, his thoughts are different than yours; his would be more focused on individual as well as team growth. You’re just interested in figuring out your teammates on a much more personal level.

Well, maybe not all of them. But because you’ve spent so much time thinking about Sasuke, you’ve inevitably had to think about Naruto. It was obvious from the beginning they both played an important part in each other’s lives – it was just a question of how important. And as you’ve watched him more and more, trying to figure out how to gain his acknowledgement, you’ve watched Naruto more and more as well. Because they’re always together.

“Hey, hey! Where’s dinner?”

Because they’re always very close together. And you don’t like noticing how they both lean against each other more than the tree; you don’t like noticing how their knees are pressed so close together or how Sasuke’s arm is resting over Naruto’s. But you can attribute that to how close they’re sitting. That it’s always just an accident and it doesn’t mean a thing that they never correct it.

“Can’t you wait?”

“I’m hungry! Why should I be forced to wait?”

The way their fingers slipped together, just barely hooking around each other…their training had simply worn them out.

“Ow! What was that for, asshole!”

“Stop being a nuisance.”

Even that act of violence now appears as something different. It doesn’t seem as harsh as it used to be and you know this because Naruto didn’t use both hands to cover his head. Just one.

The one not touching Sasuke’s.

“Dinner? Hmm…well, we need some water first. Sa-“

“I’ll go.”

“Eh? Sasuke-kun?”

Part of you can still believe that he volunteers out of generosity. As he stands, the grip he has on Naruto’s leg says differently. Usually, you could push off such small things claiming that Sasuke was simply using Naruto to stand. Yet in the back of your mind, you recognize that possessive grip as one you wish he would use on you; so you can’t dismiss his touch so easily. Even though it isn’t given to you.

“I-I’ll come with you.”

It’s a vain hope, that this time he’ll let you come. That this time, out of all the others, Naruto won’t join him.

“No, that’s okay. Naruto, come on.”

Or that this time, you won’t have to see. You know you could just look away, but yet you’re still looking for that one piece of evidence that contradicts everything you’ve gathered so far. You watch Sasuke’s eyes, hoping that that strange, dark look to them will disappear when he watches Naruto. Or maybe that Naruto will blow Sasuke off, becoming the obnoxious brat he was once.

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“Let’s go, Naruto. We need water for dinner. Unless you don’t want to eat.”

“Huh? Hey! Sasuke, wait up!” But nothing ever happens the way you want it to.

So, you do what you do best. Go back over everything you can remember, every piece of evidence that you can call to mind, and search through it once more. You look for something that you missed before or look and see if you have gotten the pattern wrong and are just blowing things out of proportion. Like you have every other time they’ve gone to get water. Or firewood. Or just go for a walk – together.

The worst thing about going back over all the memories, the evidence, is that you wish you could manipulate it. Change how you remember it so that it’s you he’s looking at now and not Naruto; just as long as he’s not looking at Naruto. That he never touched Naruto, even held Naruto, the way you wished he would touch, or hold, you. But you can’t change anything because that would go against who you are and how you work.

Because, if you changed something now, what’s not to stop you from changing it in the future? What happens if you get so used to changing stuff that isn’t important, that you end up changing things that are? What happens if your greed right now ends up killing someone later?

And because of those worries, you can’t change anything or deny it either.

“Oh! They forgot the water containers.”

“So they did. Well, Sakura, you can go to save time.”

“Yes, Kakashi-sensei.”

The work isn’t what bothers you. It never is – because if you’re doing something, no matter how small, you feel needed. Like you’re not being left behind. But at the same time, you hate doing the work. It makes you feel like you aren’t good enough for anything else as well as –

No, you don’t even want to think about that. Because, you still don’t have proof that it’s true, even if the rational part of you is screaming at you to just accept it. You don’t want to; you don’t have to either.

The work also helps you keep your mind off of –


“Quiet or they’ll hear us, you total moron.”

It keeps your mind off –

“Unn…like it matters? They can’t hear us out HERE!”

You concentrate on the water before you, saying that you’re just hearing things…that the running water is ruining your hearing and you’re just misinterpreting everything.

“They probably alre-ady – know! You’re a HORrible li-i-iAR!”

“Like you’re any…mph…better?”

Because the work…you hate the work. And there’s no denying that who you’re hearing is Sasuke-kun and Naruto.

“A-aa-ahh!! Sasuke!”


There’s no way to deny what you hear, especially first hand. And what you hear –


So you do the only thing left you can do. You run. You run away from the truth. You run away from any evidence. You run away until you can’t breathe.

“Sakura? Where are…”

You ignore everything and for the moment…you run.

AN: Ugh…my first attempt at Naruto fic and it had to be a second POV from Sakura. Never again. Not too much to say really. I don’t know where the idea came from, but it decided itself that it was to be in second person and nothing else. I hope I didn’t do too poorly. Please let me know what you think

Walking Away

Walking Away

By K-chan

AN: Wee.. I heard this song and I so thought of Sasuke and Sakura… I love the pairing…but I also love LeeSaku.. wahh! So this is what happens when I combine the two XD Angsty… but good I think… There are also hints of other pairings, like ShikaIno and KibaHina

The song is “I will always love you” by Whitney Huston

In this ficcy they stay part of their gennin teams even when they are jounins…so yeah, just ignore that ’ R+R no flames please )

A person is supposed to be happy on their wedding day aren’t they? Not to say that she wasn’t happy, she truly did love the man she was marrying. She loved her fiancé, but in a different way. He wasn’t him.

Uchiha Sasuke.

No, Rock Lee wasn’t Uchiha Sasuke, but he loved her, worshipped her even, and one day she would learn to love him as much and in the same way he loved her. In truth, Lee deserved someone that would give him the same unconditional devotion he showered on her, but like her with Sasuke, he was hopelessly in love and couldn’t let it go.

It was a never-ending circle of unrequited love.

If I should stay

I would only be in your way

So I'll go

But I know

I'll think of you every step of the way

Saying goodbye to Sasuke-kun was the hardest thing Sakura had ever had to do. They had long since become jounin, a feat that she could directly associate to having two of the strongest leaf chuunin on her team. Sakura knew that with out Sasuke and Naruto on her team, or even having Kakashi as a teacher, she wouldn’t have made it so far. She probably wouldn’t even have made Chuunin. But that was neither here no there.

The day finally came when Sakura realized that Sasuke would never love her…never fulfill her true dream and marry her. It was late fall and Kakashi’s team seven was on a routine B-rank mission. They had just completed it and were on their way home when she pulled her routine “Wanna go on a date when we get home Sasuke-kun?” It was more out of habit than actual want. For the past year before she had begun to realize just how hopeless her cause was. However, she still held one small shred of hope that one day he would surprise her and say yes.

But that day was exactly the same. He answered with a surly “No thanks.” And shoved his hands into his pockets, going back to ignoring her. It was in that instant that she realized it was pointless.

That moment brought many realizations to Sakura, the least of which being that Sasuke would never love her. She also understood then that his dream had to come true, and that if she continued to follow him, to love him, she would only be in the way. Sasuke couldn’t complete his revenge and avenge his family if he had a girl tagging along. She was in the way, and that realization hurt. She never wanted to be a burden.

Sakura decided from that day on should would take the path Ino had taken three years before. Let him go. Ino had always been a bit sharper when it came to real life issues such as love than Sakura was and so figured it out first. She also figured out that she had another man that would take care of her, love her in ways it was clear Sasuke was not. She married Shikamaru three weeks after she turned eighteen, only a year after becoming a jounin.

It took Sakura three extra years to figure out what Ino did. Even though the blond girl didn’t realize what it was Sasuke had to do that was more important, she recognized his need to be alone all the same. Sakura was different. She was stubborn and refused to give it up. In her mind, everyone needed someone, and Sasuke needed her. Of course, that was proved wrong.

As soon as they returned Sakura disappeared from the three men’s side, ignoring Naruto’s whines and Kakashi’s curious looks. Sasuke didn’t even turn his head, and it was the straw that broke the camels back. She fled to her room and cried for three days straight.

She refused to answer when Naruto and Kakashi came around to inquire about her whereabouts. Both men became worried, and word spread through out the village that Haruno Sakura was sick. Once word reached the ears of Rock Lee, who was now an instructor of taijutsu at the academy, he rushed to her home in a panic.

Sakura fell into his arms upon letting him in. He promised to help her heal, and she accepted, not knowing what else to do. The two went slow, but a year later, after switching teams to fill the third slot on Gai’s team, she agreed to marry her long time admirer.

A decision that both broke and healed her heart.

Bittersweet memories

That is all I'm taking with me

So good-bye

Please don't cry

We both know I'm not what you need

The day he learned Sakura had agreed to marry Rock Lee was the first time in his nineteen year life he cried. Uchiha Sasuke actually cried. It wasn’t a sobbing cry as most would have cried, only a few stray tears, but for Sasuke it was a river.

At first, he couldn’t believe she had actually given up loving him. She had been his source of warmth for so long that he simply taken her for granted. But looking back on the year since that certain mission –the last time she had asked him out- it started to make since. She changed after they returned to the village. The rumours said she had fallen ill. But he found it offly strange that she began to ‘get better’ after Rock Lee had visited her. Why didn’t he visit her?

Truth be told he thought nothing of it. He just took for granted that she would be healthy again soon and would be back to their team and on missions again. She would be supporting him again.

He should have known something was up when she requested to transfer to Gai’s team with Neji and Tenten.

But again he shook it off; maybe she was just tired of Naruto. He hadn’t matured much since the chuunin exam and could grow very taxing on ones nerves. He was denser than people gave him credit for, especially when it came to the pink haired girl.

True he ignored her, shot her down and was even rude to her. However, that didn’t mean he didn’t care. Quite the opposite actually. He loved her, more than anything he had ever loved in his life, but he never learned how to express it. That, combined with the fact that he was afraid to hurt her, and that he didn’t want her mixed up in his revenge, held him back from accepting the love he knew she felt for him. She was better off with out him. She needed someone with a stable mind. Someone like Lee.

That didn’t stop the fiery pain that engulfed his heart when he heard of her upcoming marriage, nor did it stop him from drowning his sorrows in many bottles of sake. Kakashi found him passed out in an alleyway and thoroughly lectured him when he woke. Even though the older man was technically their equal in rank, both Sasuke and Naruto looked up to him as an older brother figure. Kakashi told him it was his own fault for waiting so long and that he should be happy Sakura wasn’t suffering anymore. He said that he should take the memories he had of her and move on, leave her to be happy.

Sasuke knew Kakashi was right, and so, the next day, with a level head he asked her to meet him in the park fountain at sunset. Their conversation was the last memory of her he would have, and he would cherish it until the day he died. It gave him strength. Strength to be where he was now.

Watching her marry someone else.

I hope life treats you kind

And I hope you have all you've dreamed of

And I wish you joy and happiness

But above all this

I wish you love


The quiet voice turned Sasuke’s attention to the new arrival. Because it was fairly late, around dinnertime, there was no one else in the park but him, and now her.

She was beautiful, standing in the soft golden glow of the setting sun. It reflected in her pale green eyes and brought out certain highlights in her pink hair. He felt his breath catch just looking at her. To think…he was about to give her up for good.

“Aa,” was his simple response as he once again turned away, sitting down on the lip of the fountain.

Sakura stood there awkwardly for a few moments, wondering what exactly he had called her out for. He wasn’t saying anything, just staring at his folded hands that were leaned between his knees. “Sasuke-kun?”


She blinked for a few moments then did as he asked, sitting cautiously beside him, wringing her hands nervously. What could he want?

“You’re marrying Lee.”

Blood rushed to Sakura’s face and she hung her head. So he had heard. Why wouldn’t have he? The whole bloody village must have heard Lee’s joyous shouts when she accepted. “Yes.” She replied softly, tears leaking out the corners of her eyes.


The question caught her off guard and she didn’t know how to reply. What did he want to hear? As if hearing her thoughts he shook his head, reached over and took her soft hand in his callused one. “No Sakura, not what I want to hear. Tell me the truth. Why are you marrying thick-brows?”

His eyes were as dark and serious as ever, but a sadness lingered in their ebony depths that she had never seen before. He looked as if he were about to cry. Her lips cracked a small smile at his use of Lee’s old nickname. “His name Lee, Sasuke-kun, not thick-brows.” She scolded softly, sniffling.

“Aa. Tell me.”

Sakura took a big breath in and let it out in one loud woosh. Her heart twisted in pain, she didn’t want to tell him she didn’t love him anymore because it wasn’t true. But if she told him that she still loved him then she wasn’t sure she could go through with marrying Lee, a man she also loved and admired, albeit in a different way. “I…I…I love him Sasuke-kun.”

“Do you?” Sasuke didn’t really want to press the issue, but he found himself doing so anyway. Part of his mind really couldn’t believe it and didn’t want to let it go.


His eyes drifted shut, a stabbing pain shooting through his chest. His eyes burned with tears he refused to shed. “And me?”

“I-I-I…” Sakura choked, her tears taking over. “Don’t make me say it…” She whispered, hanging her head once more.


“I…” She buried her face in her hands. Why was he making them go through it? He knew that they could and would never be together, yet he prolonged the agony. Was this why he called her out here? To make her suffer more? “You know how I feel about you Sasuke-kun.” She whispered finally, swallowing down the large lump that had grown in her throat.

Silence settled over the two, both lost in their thoughts. Sasuke was surprised. Surprised that she still loved him. He put her through hell, yet she still loved him? Why? Life was cruel.

It was Sakura that broke the deafening silence. She wanted to know how he felt, and if he was going to drag it out of her, she would do the same to him. “Sasuke-kun. I-I want to know…how you…feel. Onegai?” Her voice was faint and held none of the signature Sakura spunk Sasuke had come to know over the many years of being together.

She was met was silence as Sasuke searched himself for an answer. He knew he owed her at least that much after years of torment. However, words failed him. He was never one for words, and this was no exception. He couldn’t find any words to describe just how deeply he felt for the girl that sat beside him. So he did the only thing he had ever known. He showed her.

Turning his body, he slid his hand around to cup her cheek and gently brought her face up and around to face his. Slowly he leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. It was that moment that held the most happiness for Sasuke, and he promised himself that he would hold it close in his memory forever.


Sakura froze in horror at hearing the exclamation a short distance away. Oh god, her world was going to crumble around her…

Sasuke pulled away slightly, also hearing Lee’s startled exclamation. His eyes flickered towards the dark haired taijutsu master before coming back to rest on the face of the woman he loved. It was time to give her up, make her happy, and take one more step towards his destiny.

“Be happy, Sakura…-chan. Be happy. Goodbye.” He whispered against her lips.

He stood then, breaking contact with Sakura and began walking away. He chose the path that would take him directly past the frozen Lee and paused as he passed him. With out turning his head he said quietly, “Take care of her.” It was a threat and both men knew it.

Lee didn’t comment, merely inclined his head towards Sasuke and continued forward towards his fiancé.

Sakura watched helplessly as Sasuke walked away, out of the park and out of her life. It was the last time she would talk to him alone, of that she was sure. Especially since Lee had seen them, and he became very possessive and protective of her when it came other men.

He even punched Neji for something small, even though the other man had a betrothed and was completely loyal to his friends and fiancé.

Collapsing against Lee’s chest she continued to watch the broad back of her first love. Goodbye Sasuke-kun… she thought, clutching at Lee’s shirt. Suddenly a thought occurred to her and she called out in a haste, attempting to step away from Lee, who merely clutched her around the waist. “Sasuke-kun!!”

The dark man stopped in his journey and slowly turned until he was facing them.

“You’ll come won’t you?” She yelled over the distance, tears tracking down her face.

He simply raised a hand in acknowledgement before disappearing in a puff of smoke. Sakura sagged in Lee’s arms. He didn’t say anything…

“He’ll come.” Lee whispered in her ear. “In the honour of a shinobi, he will come.”

And I...

Will always love you


Will always love you

Lee fidgeted nervously. It was the biggest day of his life, and he couldn’t be more nervous. Today he would make the most beautiful woman in the world his wife. Oh yes, he knew very well that she loved another man, but he knew that she loved him too. Not in the way he wanted her to, but he could change that. He had the rest of their lives to convince her to love him, and by god he was going to do it.

He still remembered the anger that washed over him the month before when he went to find his Sakura-san and found her in the park kissing another man. And not just any man.

Uchiha Sasuke.

He couldn’t get angry at Sakura, not only because he just couldn’t, but also because he had seen the instigator. He knew then that despite the dark man’s treatment of his angel, he loved her. Lee had never felt such panic and utter terror. After the anger came the fear.

If Sasuke loved her, then it was all over for him.

Lee knew that he couldn’t compare to the dark haired Uchiha genius. He was Sakura’s first love, and still had an immense hold on her heart. Even a year of slowly mending her heart could completely erase Sasuke’s hold over her. Though lord knows he tried.

He had been so pissed when he found Sakura wilted, tear stained and overly skinny all those months ago. And even more pissed when she spilled the whole thing to him. How could Uchiha do that to such an angel? Couldn’t he see that she was delicate and deserved to be worshipped?

Neji told him that Uchiha more than likely loved her as much as she loved him, but for outside reasons couldn’t act on it. So, with his best friend’s help, he searched through Sasuke’s past. He found out that Uchiha’s sole goal in life was to kill that man, Uchiha Itachi, his own brother, and an S-class criminal. It became clear to him why Sasuke refused to acknowledge his angel. Lee whole heartedly agreed with him, and then did everything he could to keep her away from him. It was him that suggested she join Gai-sensei’s team.

But all of that was in the past and today he would make Haruno Sakura his wife. He was truly ecstatic, if not worried, anxious and very, very nervous.

“Lee! Stop fidgeting already, you’re making me nervous with your pacing!” A deeper male voice snapped.

Lee stopped, a blush crossing his cheeks. He turned to see his best friend sitting in a chair across the room glaring at him with his arms crossed over his chest. “Aa… sorry Neji.” He apologized, bowing a bit.

Neji snorted, rolling his eyes. “Grooms…” He muttered under his breath.

At this Lee grinned. “Your day will come my friend! Sooner than you think!”

“If I’m like you just kill me on spot.”

Laughter echoed through the groom’s waiting room. Tenten smiled a bit as she cracked open the door and stuck her head in the room. Her teammate, and former teammate, both glanced to the doorway, and once again Lee began to fidget. “It’s time boys.” She said, her eyes softening at Lee. She was so happy for him. “Ino-chan told me to tell you can meet Hokage-sama now.”

Both men nodded, Neji standing and placing a hand on Lee’s shoulder. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

I, I will always love



Darling I love you

I'll always

I'll always



He watched in silence as the bridesmaids walked slowly down the small isle. Tenten was first, then a very pregnant Hinata –Kiba apparently worked fast- and then Ino. Naruto danced anxiously in the seat beside him. The blond man had taken Sakura’s engagement very well, dancing around and shouting, twirling her around. He had apparently let go his silly childhood crush on the pink haired girl. He said that he was too busy to get chained down like all the other men in their group. Naruto had exclaimed quite firmly that if Sasuke was going to stay a bachelor, then so was he. He has also sworn he would help him get his revenge. The memory made Sasuke smile a bit. Even though they were ‘rivals’, somewhere along the way they became friends…best friends to be exact.

The bride appeared then and the whole congregation –the whole village had shown up- gasped, Sasuke himself included. She was…amazing.

Kakashi guided her proudly, finely decked out in his jounin uniform. Sakura’s father had died a few years before, and she had asked him to give her away in his place. He was, after all, the closest thing he had to a father or older brother. It was the only time anyone had ever seen Kakashi become truly emotional. Tears welled in the older jounin’s eyes as he accepted. He even hugged her, proclaiming he would be proud to give away his ‘little Sakura’.

As she passed him, she turned her head and her gaze caught his. She smiled and mouthed a simple “Thank you” before moving on to her future husband.

The rest of the ceremony flew by for Sasuke. He didn’t really pay attention, but was just content to stare at Sakura and dream of what could have been. At the end of it he stood, and as everyone rushed to give their congratulations he smiled softly and walked away, not even looking back.

Naruto caught up to him, but said nothing. Instead the blond grabbed his arm and turned him enough so that they could look back at the happy couple, and the just starting party. Sadness clouded both their eyes. Sakura belonged to a different team now, and while she would always be a part of their youth and hearts, she had moved on. Regret dwelled with in Sasuke, and pride with in Naruto. Both men loved the woman beyond belief and both knew they had to leave her.

“So, we off to kill that man eh?” Naruto exclaimed, slinging an arm around Sasuke’s shoulder.

Sasuke shot his best friend a look and shook his head. “Yes.”


A puff of smoke and the simple greeting alerted the two men to their sensei’s arrival and both looked up to see him squatting on the tree branch above them. “Where do you think you’re going with out your old sensei?”

Naruto grinned and jumped up, pumping his fist in the air. They were going together!

Sakura smiled sadly, her eyes watching the three men walk away from her wedding. Life was difficult and sometimes walking away was the only answer.

Star Song

Insomnia Productions presents..

Star Song

By Clara (one of the two insomniac freaks)

It was a whole different kind of loneliness.

That was a good way to describe the way he felt every night. Lonely. So terribly, terribly lonely.

Naruto curled up around himself in his bed, eyes wide open and staring listlessly out the window. It was nighttime he felt the most alone, when everyone were in their beds, safe and sound with the knowledge that their parents would always be there to protect them. He never knew that knowledge. Hell, he was lucky enough that he even had the house he lived in then, but that was only because of the third hokage’s charity.

During the night he wished he had someone to tuck him in. It was such a futile, silly wish, and so very sophomoric, but it was still there. He wished, oh how he wished that someone was there to kiss him on the forehead and tell him to not have any nightmares, but no matter how hard he stared at the door, no one would come through.

Sighing, he rolled out of his bed and landed on his knees with a thump. He didn’t think he could handle the oppressive isolation that night. Not bothering to change from his pajamas, or to even put on his precious headgear, he left his house.

The sky was particularly clear that night, revealing the thousands of stars that filled the inky blackness. When he was younger and found he couldn’t sleep, he would always go outside and look at the stars, pretending as if they could wrap him up in their caring embrace. That maybe the stars were someone who could take away his unwanted solitude.

But they were always out of his reach.

“What are you doing out so late at night, dobe?”

“Don’t call me that.” It was reflex, really, and he didn’t put any emphasis to it. He blinked, suddenly, when he realized that someone should not be talking to him this late at night. “Eh?”

Sasuke stepped from the shadows. To Naruto’s surprise, the other boy was also still clad in his pajamas.

“..Sasuke? What the hell are you doing way out here so late? And in your pajamas!”

“You’re in your pajamas, too.”

“That’s totally different!” Naruto snapped, folding his arms over his chest. “My house is right there.” He pointed over his shoulder. “Your house is far away.”

Sasuke shrugged, moving to stand by Naruto. He looked like he wanted to put his hands in his pockets, with the way he rested his hands on his thighs, but unfortunately didn’t have any. “It didn’t cross my mind to change. Besides, I’m comfortable.”

Naruto gave him his customary slitted eye look, then snorted. “Fine, whatever. What are you doing out this far, then? And this late?”

Sasuke didn’t answer immediately. Instead, he just stared up at the sky, features abnormally pale from the star’s light. His face was relaxed, usual tenseness replaced by contemplativeness.

“I was feeling alone,” Sasuke finally said, startling Naruto. The blonde frowned; faintly disturbed at having his emotions voiced by someone who wasn’t him. “I decided to go for a walk, and ended up out here.”

Naruto finally pried his gaze away from the taller boy, turning his eyes back to the sky. Somehow, some of their comfort had disappeared. He had a feeling it was because Sasuke was there, and that comfort was transferred to him.

Does he get like that too? Does he want someone to tuck him in at night, like me? Him? No way, not him. He’s way too confident for that. And why is he sharing his emotions with me? Aren’t emotions supposed to be weak? Question after question about the normally stoic boy flooded Naruto’s mind, but they were interrupted by a soft voice.

“What about you?” Sasuke asked. “Why are you outside? It’s late.”

“Same reason,” Naruto responded, still looking up at the sky. “The stars have always comforted me. I wish I was one of them.”

Companiable silence washed over them for a long moment, as the two stared at the stars. Naruto folded his hands behind his head, a peaceful smile touching his lips.

“When I was younger, I used to think the stars would sing to me. I guess I was trying to make up for the fact that my mom never got the chance to sing me a lullaby, so I acted like the stars would. As if I deserved their attention.”

He spread his arms then, as if he could take all the stars into his entire being. Sasuke turned to look at him and smiled very slightly, cold eyes softening. There was so much to Naruto that he was only beginning to learn about, despite the several years they had been working side by side.

Naruto was one of the reasons Sasuke trained so hard. It wasn’t because he was trying to impress the boy, no; he knew he already did that even if Naruto didn’t admit it. It was because he didn’t want Naruto to surpass him. ‘Dead-last’ was a lot more powerful than people took him for, rapidly rising in both skill and intelligence. He was also Sasuke’s best rival, both striving to top the other.

He turned to look back down at Naruto and, to his very surprise, the other boy was looking at him and blushing. Well. That certainly wasn’t something he would have expected from Naruto, of all people. A girl, maybe, but not Naruto. For some reason, though, seeing Naruto blush made heat rise to his own cheeks. He almost felt like he had done something, well, inappropriate.

“What are you looking at?” he asked, a little more coldly than normal, then grimaced internally. Man, he was turning into such the jackass..

“Hey, um, don’t think I’m a freak or anything..” Naruto said, words hesitant and almost halting. “I mean, I know stars can’t sing and stuff, but I was a kid. You know?”

Sasuke stared at him for a long moment, genuinely baffled. Was that why he was blushing? The smile returned to his face, and he even chuckled lightly.

“Oi, dobe, if I were to think you were a freak, it most certainly wouldn’t be just because of that.” He put a hand on Naruto’s shoulder momentarily, before pulling it back and returning it to his side. It was such a small gesture, but more than normal.

“..Don’t call me dobe,” Naruto grumbled, but he was smiling.

There was a brief silence again, ending when Sasuke stifled a yawn with his hand. It was rather late and the walk had sapped all the energy that was keeping him awake. He wasn’t looking forward to the walk back, or the empty house that awaited him. Sighing and accepting his fate, though, he took a step back in the direction of his home.


Sasuke’s step faltered, and he turned around. “Yeah?”

“It’s late.”

“No shit.”

“Your house is kinda far.”

“Is tonight the night you’ve decided to state all the things I already know?”

“Shut up, jerk. I’m trying to invite you to spend the night.”

That, of course, effectively shut the dark haired boy up. He blinked a couple of times, then smirked.

“Yeah, why not?”

Naruto beamed, then turned around and walked back into his house, not bothering to invite Sasuke in first. Of course not. The young ninja shook his head, still smiling, and followed his friend in.

It was a whole different kind of loneliness that had a whole different kind of solution.

The next morning, Naruto woke up to an empty house. The futon he had laid out for Sasuke was folded, along with the blankets and the sheets. He wasn’t surprised, of course, since that was just the way Sasuke was.

What did surprise him, however, was the folded up piece of paper on top of the sheets. Sliding out of his bed, he picked it up and unfolded it, then smiled when he read the neat, precise words.

‘You’ll hear them when you listen hard enough.’

.:end (prologue?):.

a/n: Just a little fluff fic with no real meaning. I can't decide if I want to continue it or not. This was inspired by the third episode when Sasuke said to Sakura, ‘it’s a whole different kind of sadness’.

Oh, and since I REALLY hate short chapters, if this does become something longer this will merely be the prologue, as stated above.

Disclaimer: I’m not creative enough to think up something as wonderful as Naruto. He, and all the other characters, belongs to Kishimoto Masashi. I merely borrow them for my silly ideas.

If anyone saw that before, please don't mind the HTML screw up.. --

Moonlight Magic

Pairings: Naruto + Sasuke

Warnings: Shounen-ai, lime. (Boys are about seventeen here.)

Disclaimers: Main characters are properties of Kishimoto Masashi. I make no money off them.

Author’s Notes: My very first Naruto fic! Yay! So proud of myself . I was beginning to think I would never be able to write something about one of my favorite shows. Please be kind and leave your thoughts on it. Feedback gets the creative juices flowing! Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Moonlight Magic

Author: Kiya Sama

Naruto hopped from one foot to the other. He paced like a boy possessed. He bit his lower lip in agitation. He leaned against a tree trying to feign nonchalance. He pushed himself off again and paced around some more. Kami! The anticipation was at fever pitch! What was taking him so long?!

Come on….come on….

He tried not to glance at the house across the street, but that was proving to be a hopeless cause. And just when he thought he was going to go insane with impatience, the familiar blue shirt came into the vicinity. Hardly giving the owner a chance to think, Naruto raced towards him and pulled on his arm, leading him back into the safety of the nearby forest.

Blue eyes dancing with eagerness blazed at the handsome but stoic visage before him. And seeing that his companion had no intentions of speaking to him first, Naruto gave an exasperated sigh and stomped his foot.

“Well?! What happened?!”

Cool dark eyes filled with boredom stared at the flushed features of the blonde before them and with a light shrug, the boy replied just as coolly. “She said ‘yes’.”

For a second, Naruto wasn’t sure he had heard right and he stood gaping at his rival in disbelief. “That’s it? She just said…yes?!”

“Well, it’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?” came the snapped reply, as a scowl filled the handsome face. “What else did you want her to say?”

Naruto pouted, although it did not dampen his high spirits. “Didn’t she say something like – ‘I have always wanted to go out with him for so long. I was just denying my feelings…”

“Cut the crap, Naruto. You’ve gotten your date with Sakura, so why don’t you just enjoy it and stop being such a fool.”

The blonde was in too good a mood to respond to the insult, so instead of his usual glare; he grabbed the strong hands before him and gave them an uncharacteristic warm squeeze. “Thank you so much, Sasuke! I owe you big time for this!!” He released the hand quickly and grinned. “Gotta run! I have to get ready for the big date tonight!” And giving his companion a wave, the blonde shinobi ran down the street with a song of joy on his lips.

He failed to see the look of longing that was etched on the face of the boy he had left behind.

Naruto figured that getting Sasuke to ask Sakura out on his behalf was a stroke of genius on his part. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t do it on his own. He just wasn’t sure that the pink-haired beauty would be able to understand him clearly. Naruto was sure he would have made a botch of the situation and not wanting to mess such a wonderful opportunity, he had done the unthinkable.

Begged his rival.

Getting Sasuke to agree with him in the first place had been a nightmare on its own. The dark-haired heartthrob (to every girl in the village), had given a vehement ‘no’ the moment Naruto had asked him to do it. But the blonde had refused to give in and so for the past week or so, he became an incessant thorn on Sasuke’s side. He made sure that he was at every location the genius chuunin was. He had snuck into Sasuke’s private moments, nearly getting killed in the process from the angry tirade that followed, until the day he had finally broke down Sasuke’s resolve.

Sasuke’s reason for giving in had been simple. He had claimed that to prevent Sakura and the other girls from asking him out, he had simply agreed to do the favor for Naruto. Of course, the blonde hadn’t bought it, but anything to get Sakura to the Hidden Leaf Summer Festival was fine by him.

And so here he was, after trying for so long to get a chance to be alone with Sakura, he was finally going to profess his love for her tonight. After all, if she had agreed to come out with him, it must mean that she liked him a little bit, ne?

He seemed to be floating on air and he ignored the usual cold or bemused looks from the adults that were thrown his way. Right now, nobody else mattered.

Nobody but my Sakura-chan! We are going to have so much fun tonight! I just know it! I will make you forget all about Sasuke and I will show you just how good I really am.

“Ohayo, Naruto. You look pretty happy today.”

“Aah! Iruka-sensei! Ohayo!” He waved to the kind-hearted teacher, who was, coincidentally standing before a ramen shop. He stopped before the older man and smiled sheepishly. “I am taking Sakura-chan to the festival tonight. She agreed to come with me!”

Iruka raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Eh? Sakura actually agreed to go out with you? I find that a bit hard to believe.”

Naruto frowned and pouted. “Sheesh. She did agree. Sasuke asked her for me and she said yes!”

Iruka held up his hands in surrender, laughing softly. “Hai, hai. Okay, I believe you. So, do you want to celebrate your first official date?”

Naruto had the grace to blush as he nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah!!”

And leading the chuckling teacher into the small shop, Naruto made sure that Iruka lived up to his promise.

Kakashi flipped another page of his book as he sat high above the trees in the cool forest. Although, giving an attitude of nonchalance, he was highly aware of everything around him. The delicious scent of meals being prepared for the annual festival filled his nostrils and it did more to remind him of his current state of hunger. Making a mental note to visit one of the stalls later this evening, he tried to focus his attention on the book again, only to blink as a flash of blue whizzed by him.


The sounds of heavy breathing, quickly followed by a loud cry caused the Jounin to close his book and to jump down from the tree. Landing lithely to the ground, he idly watched his student work himself into a frenzy with various fighting techniques that would have left any ordinary shinobi panting on the floor with exhaustion.

“Shouldn’t you be preparing for the festival like your friends are, Sasuke?” He asked calmly, as he sat down beneath a tree and opened up his book again. “There are no training or missions coming up soon.”

For several minutes, he was ignored, before a low ‘I feel like training’ was heard. Kakashi nodded slowly and flipped another page.

“That is all well and good, Sasuke, but we don’t need you overworking yourself for nothing. Today is supposed to be a day of relaxatio…”

“I said I feel like training!” And with a low snarl, the dark-haired boy leapt high into the trees and got lost in the thick leaves overheard. Only the sounds of birds chirping and the light breeze filled Kakashi’s ears, but he knew otherwise. Sasuke was still up there… hiding.

“Don’t you want to go this year, Sasuke?”

No answer.

“It is going to be a fun event. There will be lots of food and games and…”

“It’s stupid and for only people who have nothing to do with their time. I would rather train than spend an entire evening sitting around doing nothing.”

“There is lots of food.”

Sasuke groaned and stuck his head out of the tree he had been sitting in. “Kuso! Is that all you think about?!”

“And fun games.”

“Bakayaro.” Came the angry mutter, as Sasuke snorted and remained up in the tree stubbornly.

He didn’t care about the stupid festival. Never had, never will. He had avoided going to the event all these years. Why should this one be any different? It wasn’t as if he was a people person anyway. He sighed softly and raised his knees to his chest, trying hard not to focus on the real reason for his refusal to go this year.

Kakashi’s sharp hearing caught the sad sound, but he refused to comment on it. If the dark-haired boy was not willing to share it with him, then who was he to interfere?

Just don’t hide it so much, Sasuke. It’s better for you to let him know.

It had turned out to be a beautiful night as many had predicted. Everyone was dressed in his or her finest kimonos and even a few neighboring villages had decided to drop by. The moon peeked through the clouds casting a silvery glow upon the throngs of people that lined up the gaily-lit streets. The sounds of music, laughter and entertainment filled the air. The smell of good food ranging from ramen to a whole pig being roasted over a spit, tantalized the senses and brought out the gluttons in people. Little children ran in and out of stalls, some playing the many games that had been set up to keep them busy, while the adults either gambled in make-shift casinos or engaged in mock fights and challenges.

Many of the teenagers went about in groups, each trying to savor the festive atmosphere as much as possible. In this particular group, Shikamaru, Ino and Chouji were sitting upon a bench, each with rice cakes in their hands as they admired the dancing troupe performing on a stage to their left.

“Wow...this is so cool. I can’t believe they let me have so much money to spend tonight.” The blonde girl gushed in excitement as she took another bite of the sweet snack. “And just think that Sakura is going to be stuck with Naruto as a date all night. Haha! I almost feel sorry for her.”

Shikamaru groaned and made a face. “You are just happy that Sasuke didn’t show up tonight, aren’t you? Or you would have pounced on him the moment he walks out here. Tch! I really don’t see what you girls see in that guy anyways.”

“He is a whole lot classier than you, that’s what!” Ino retorted with an added kick to her teammate’s shin for good measure. That got both of them arguing again and sighing softly, Chouji reached for the neglected rice cakes and gorged on them happily.

At the other end of the street, Hinata and Neji were caught up in an argument of their own...only it was a little bit one-sided as the dark-haired girl remained silent, while her fellow clan member continued his speech about the merits or demerits of gambling. It didn’t help that his own teammate, Lee, had already begun to wager some money on the stupid game and with a grunt of disgust, he punched the bushy browed boy to the side, now deciding that it was Lee who needed the lecture after all. Giving a weary sigh, Hinata began to walk away from the fracas, only to suck in a harsh breath as she noticed the couple heading towards her. Hiding quickly behind a stall that sold hand-woven baskets, she spied on the duo, hoping she wouldn’t be spotted.

Naruto looked resplendent in a black and white stripped kimono, while Sakura was dressed in a black silk one with a red dragon printed on its back. Her now, short hair was decorated with flowers and if it wasn’t for the look of boredom on her features, she would have been considered breathtaking. She was holding onto a stuffed animal, which Hinata was sure that Naruto had won for her, but as they came closer and closer, the conversation that took place had her thinking otherwise.

“Honestly, Naruto, I really wish you would stop hounding me like this. Why don’t you go play with Konohamaru and the others, eh? I am sure that they would like to play with their idol.”

Naruto tried hard to squash the feeling of disappointment that had been growing steadily all evening. “But...Sakura, I came out here to have a date with you...not Konohamaru.”

“Well, you have spent the better part of the evening with me...don’t you want to take a break?”

“But, I thought you wanted to come out with me? You told Sasuke that you wanted to come out with me, ne?”

Sakura laughed lightly and shook her head. “Well, yes I did. But I only agreed because Sasuke promised to take me out later on in the evening. You don’t really think I had planned on spending the entire festival with you, did you?”

Naruto’s jaw dropped in shock at the revelation, the color draining from his features as he felt the stab within his heart. “Sa...ku...”

But, the pink-haired girl was oblivious to anything besides her story. “So, you see Naruto, I am only doing this as a favor for Sasuke-kun and not for you. It was fun in the beginning...but I am tired now. I think I will just go wait for him by the fountain like we had promised...”

“Yamero!!” came the vehement cry filled with pain and helpless anger. This had several visitors glancing towards the blonde’s direction, some with looks of disdain on their faces as they realized who the culprit was. But, Naruto didn’t care about any of that. What mattered right now was the hurtful news that Sakura had just fed him. So, all he was doing was being a nuisance as usual. He was just in the way of Sasuke and Sakura again and that knowledge made his blood boil with fury.

Sasuke...Sasuke no baka!! How could you do this to me?!

Sakura was a bit surprised at the cold tone, but she regained her composure quickly and snapped back in irritation. “What do you mean ‘stop’?! I told you that you didn’t have to hang around me”

Something small and pink was flung in her direction and on reflex, she dodged out of the way, only to see that it was a wrapped box with a white bow on it.

“I...I got that for you...” Naruto muttered with his head lowered. “You do what you like with it. I don’t...I don’t care anymore!” And without looking back, he spun on his heels and began to run as if the devil was on his tail.

Sakura made a small sound of dismay as she bent down to pick up the box, only to gasp as she watched it disappear from sight. “What in the world...Hinata?!”

The gentle-mannered girl stood with the parcel in her hands, her usually friendly and shy gaze now filled with disdain. “You don’t deserve this.” She said softly, as she began to step backwards. “And you do not deserve a boy like Naruto...or even Sasuke. I can’t believe anyone can be this selfish.” And without waiting for a response, she took off after the elusive blonde, leaving the other shinobi staring at floor in shame.

For how long she had been running, Hinata had no idea. She had been trying to hang on to Naruto’s chakra, but the kyubi was as evasive as he was noisy. Finally, stopping on a safe tree branch, she eyed the lush woods below her and tried to catch her breath. She would have to use her Byakugan to locate him then. There was no other way. And making sure that the present was tucked in safe and sound within her kimono, she pressed her forefingers together and frowned lightly.


As soon as that was said, her vision and ability to locate his chakra became a hundred times better than before. She was able to detect him a few miles away and smiling softly in victory, she jumped down from the tree, only to fight back a scream as she noticed the still figure standing before her.

“Sas...Sasuke-kun.” She gasped out weakly as she shook her head to get back her bearings. “What are you...”

“Who are you looking for?” came the quiet question, as he eyed the girl warily. “Shouldn’t you be at the festival?”

She got to her feet and blushed darkly, before holding out the small package, still wondering how in the world she had failed to sense him. “Na...Naruto dropped this in the village and I...I just wanted to give it back to him.”

Sasuke frowned in confusion. “Isn’t he supposed to be in the village? I thought he was attending the festival as well.”

“He was...until Sakura...” She refused to continue, but she could tell that the dark-haired boy had put two and two together quickly. A thunderous scowl came onto his features, as a colorful curse escaped his lips causing the shy girl to gasp and blush in response.

“Give it to me. I will take it to him.” He finally said as he held out his hand to accept the present. Hinata nodded slowly and placed it within his palm, not daring to question his reason for doing so. “Please make sure he gets it.” She said softly. “And...and thank you...”

The chuunin nodded quickly before leaping into the trees to search for his elusive rival as his mind churned with a million and one scenarios of what could have happened to the blonde to make him this distraught. His fingers tightened around the box as he finally sensed his teammate and stopping abruptly, he stood hidden amongst the leaves, staring at the huddled figure that lay beside the running brook.

Naruto was crying.

One thought ran over and over in his mind as he lay shivering on the grass. The stupid tears had refused to stop falling down his cheeks and quite frankly, he was too powerless to stop them now, even if he tried. If only he hadn’t been born. If only he hadn’t been in the way of every one else’s happiness. If only he had just remained in his room tonight, not bothering to save so much money to buy this stupid kimono just to impress Sakura or the stupid gift. If only he hadn’t swallowed his pride and begged that damn bakayaro, Sasuke to help him get this date tonight...none of this would have happened.

God, he was such a fool!

He sniffled pitifully and was about to sit up, when the small object fell to the ground beside him. Jumping to his haunches in readiness for a possible attack, it took him several minutes to realize that it was the small box that he had given to Sakura just moments ago. Blinking at it in bemusement, he immediately froze as the familiar lazy drawl reached his ears.

“I was told to give that to you. You must have dropped it in the village.”

Naruto rose to his full height and refused to turn around to face the other boy as his hands clenched into tight fists of fury at his sides. He could vaguely hear his rival jump down from the trees and his silent footsteps as they approached him.

Sasuke...I will...

“Why aren’t you at the festival? I thought you wanted to go badly tonight.”

I will...

“And to think that I went as far as asking Sakura to be your da...”

“I will kill you!!” came the roar that had Naruto barreling into, the quite surprised, Sasuke.

Reflexes kicking in quickly, the genius chuunin wrapped his arms around the other’s form, sending them both rolling down the bank, each trying to give the other a direct hit to some part of his body. Panting and heaving with growing exertion, Sasuke finally managed to make contact with Naruto’s jaw, throwing the blonde off his body leaping away to crouch in defense, as he eyed the downed blonde warily.

“What the hell do you think you are doing, Naruto?!” He bellowed angrily, only to groan as he heard the familiar chant.

“Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!!”

About ten Narutos suddenly had him surrounded and growling softly as they all began to run towards him, Sasuke performed the seal quickly, before responding with a loud. “Katon Ruuka no Jutsu!!” He didn’t want to hurt Naruto too badly, but he didn’t want to get killed by the angry blonde either. The balls of fire seemed to make contact with the copies of Naruto, but as soon as the smoke cleared, Sasuke found himself flying across the landscape with a now throbbing jaw as he landed painfully to the ground. He coughed and tried to get to his feet, only to find himself pinned to a tree as he stared into the furious visage of his longtime rival. Naruto had his right hand raised, quite ready to smash it into the handsome face before him, but to his growing irritation, he found that he couldn’t get himself to do it for some reason.

Sasuke tried hard not to show his concern over getting hit by Naruto. Eyes that were the brightest of blues had taken on a deep hue of almost pitch black. The last time he had seen Naruto this angry was back in the Forest of Death during the Chuunin exam. Back then he had been in a fight against a much greater foe, but this was different. Surely, Naruto wouldn’t hit him over…over what exactly?

“Go ahead and hit me.” He finally muttered as he narrowed his eyes into thin slits of disdain. “If it makes you feel any better, Naruto…go ahead and punch me.”

For several minutes, they both glared at each other, breaths heaving with barely concealed emotions as confused thoughts swirled between them. Naruto grit his teeth and bit out coldly.

“You lied to me.”

Now, it was Sasuke’s turn to blink in surprise. “What the hell do you mean? When did I lie to you…?”

“Sakura! You told me that you had gotten Sakura to go out with me tonight, Sasuke!” Naruto was humiliated to find that the tears had begun to fall again and wiping them away quickly, he continued to shout out his frustrations. “You struck a deal with her and told her that she could come out with me and then you would go out with her later! How could you do that to me, Sasuke?! You know how much I wanted to have this night to myself with her! Why would you do such a thing?!”

“Because you deserve someone better, Naruto!!”

The vehement response had both boys gaping at each other in disbelief, before Sasuke tore his gaze away with a light blush dusting his cheeks. Naruto allowed the words to sink in for a few moments before frowning. “What is that supposed to mean?! There is no body better than Sakura…”

Sasuke snorted and pushed the blonde away from him. “Bakayaro! Open up your goddamn eyes and see!” He stepped further away with his back to the blonde. He closed his eyes and tried to calm his thudding heart as he prepared himself for the words that would break his heart. “Hinata.”


“Yes! Yes, Hinata Hyuuga! Surely you know who she is, Naruto?”

“But what has Hinata got to do with…?”

“She likes you, you idiot! Why do you think she keeps blushing and acting like a complete fool around you?”

Naruto sniffled lightly, blinking in surprise at the stiffened back of his rival. He plopped onto the ground and stared at the moonlit waters blindly. “I know that.” He finally replied softly. “I know she likes me, but…”

Sasuke stole a glance at the blonde. “But what?”

“But it’s not the same, you know? I mean…she is a nice girl and I like talking to her but…but…” Naruto wasn’t sure he could explain what he was trying to say to the dark-haired boy, but it seemed as if it wasn’t going to be necessary.

“You don’t feel any excitement when you are around her, right?”


“She doesn’t make your heart beat faster or your mouth go dry or your body tremble, does she?”

Naruto could only stare at Sasuke’s back with growing bewilderment. “Well…yeah…”

“And Sakura does that to you?”


“Answer me truthfully, Naruto. You talk about Sakura this and Sakura that…but does she make you feel all those things? Does she make your blood boil with anticipation? Whenever you see her…does your heart beat quicken? Do you feel as if you would give anything and everything to be with her no matter what it took?”


“Or do you just do it to spite me?”

The last question had the blonde stumped and he found himself staring at the grass in confusion. How did he really feel about the pink-haired girl? It was true that he had always fantasized about being with her but with all of these questions…he found that Sasuke was right in everything. Sakura might have been the girl he had always wanted to be friends with…but she never made him feel any of those things. He couldn’t say that she made his heart beat faster. She didn’t make him sweat all over in anticipation. She wasn’t capable of bringing about a level of excitement that he lusted for. Kami…the only person who was able to bring out those things in him was none other than…

“Sasuke?!” He cried out in dismay and dawning horror as his widened gaze met the blank ones of the genius chuunin. His face flooded with color and scrambling back quickly, he tried to gather his scattered wits about him.

“What is it, Naruto?” came the bland question that had the blonde lowering his gaze in growing worry. What in Kami’s name did this mean? He couldn’t be…No! He just couldn’t be! It was so…so…wrong!

“No…nothing.” He muttered out quickly as he rose to his feet and attempted a wan smile. He had to get away from here fast or he was bound to make a fool out of himself. “I have to…to…”

“Run away again?”

“Aaaahhh!!” Naruto held a hand to his chest as the voice had been heard just inches away from his ear. Staggering back weakly, he held his hands out as if to stave off the boy from coming any closer. “Don’t…don’t come any closer, Sasuke! Or I swear it, I will…I will…”

“Why did you call out my name like that?”

Perhaps it was the moonlight playing tricks on him, but Naruto could have sworn that the blush on Sasuke’s cheeks had darkened…and what was that strange look in his eyes? Or the change in his voice? It wasn’t its usual scornful or amused or mocking tone. It sounded almost…nice.

Argh! This isn’t happening to me! I can’t be thinking like this about Sasuke! I like Sakura and Hinata…and just…any girl! Not…him…

“I hate you, Sasuke!” He blurted out in desperation as if needing to validate the point more to himself than anything.

The chuunin nodded as if that was to be expected and replied in a much quieter voice. “And I hate you as well, Naruto.”

“You annoy me with your stupid looks and your…your…the way you keep acting as if you know everything, when you don’t! I hate you, hate you, hate you!” He squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath, only to gasp as he felt the hands cup his face in the gentlest of ways. He opened them up quickly, his heart pounding with an emotion that he couldn’t define as he stared into the eyes of darkest night that seemed to be filled with something that was hard to explain.

“Hate me for as long as you want, Naruto.” Sasuke whispered softly, as inches separated their lips now. “For I have hated you for as long as I can remember…”

And barely giving the blonde a chance to think or react, he covered the short distance between them, eyes fluttering closed as he allowed himself a moment to savor the taste of the boy that would forever be more than a rival within his heart. For how long had he known that Naruto was the only one for him? He couldn’t tell. But such a spirit, filled with strength and courage – a spirit that an entire village could not bring down despite the way he had been treated all his life. He had fallen in love with that spirit and no matter how long he sought for revenge that brilliant beacon of light was all that he needed to make his darkened life more…endurable.

Without you, Naruto, I am like a blind man stumbling in the dark. Hate me for as long as you like, for I need your spirit to lead me back to the light…

He finally pulled away with his gaze lowered to the floor as he took a deep breath to steady his trembling nerves. “This…this never happened, Naruto.” He muttered softly.

Naruto licked his swollen lips and nodded glumly, not trusting himself to speak for his breath had been taken away from the experience. Their first kiss might have been an accident, but this was…this was…indescribable. There had been a sadness that he had felt – a sadness that had seared through his very soul and Naruto knew now without a doubt that in someway…he was meant to be with the obnoxious boy.

He watched Sasuke leap back into the trees and knowing that he might not see the boy for some time, he called out desperately. “Sasuke!”

This stopped the dark-haired chuunin and he spun around with a questioning look in his features. “What is it, Naruto? You should go back to the village now, ne?”

“I…” He sighed and nodded softly. “Yeah…you are right. I should be going back. You…you…uh…take care of yourself or something…”

The chuunin nodded and tossed the small box back to him, which he caught with trembling hands. “You never picked it up after all.” He explained with a small smile. “Oyasumi, Naruto!” And with that said, he vanished from sight, leaving the blonde to stare at nothing but the rustling leaves from the huge trees.

Slumping to the ground, Naruto eyed the box and opened it up with a weary sigh. The gift had been a bracelet that he had bought from the local eccentric old lady that lived down the main street. People thought she was crazy, but Naruto had spent countless hours talking with her and he found that she was quite the colorful character. She had given him the silver bracelet, but something she had said had him frowning lightly.

/This is a magic bracelet that has been passed down for many generations, Naruto. It says that once you give it to the one you love, the person’s name will be etched upon it…like magic./

Naruto hadn’t believed her, of course, but he had wanted something desperately. He had wanted to give this to Sakura…to see if her name would appear upon it. To see if he would have a chance to be with her. But, as he held the precious jewelry to the moonlight, a small gasp escaped his lips before he clutched the item to his thudding chest with his eyes closed and a small smile gracing his features.

It seemed like the old lady might have been right after all. For the name…


…was now firmly imprinted on its side.


Demon King of the Demon Realm

I know, I know. Don't tell me. I'm digging my own graves. Supporting two yaoi stories and starting another one. Am I mad? Yes, but that's beside the point. I have this bad habit of having "certain" ideas crammed in my head, and refuse to leave till I write them down. It is an interesting idea. And we all know old habits die-hard.

I don't own Naruto; if I did I wouldn't be writing this, would I? Note: This story is in the future and it may be AU. May is the keyword.

Demon King of the Demon Realm

Author: BittersweetlyYours


Sakura sighed as she rolled over her to the side of her bed and turned off the alarm clock. She smiled as she saw the picture near the table. It was a picture of the four of them back in those days: Sasuke her obsession, Kakashi the pervert, Naruto the idiot, and her. If only things stayed the same and didn't change. But things did change. They were twelve at the time, six years have pasted. Sakura got out of her bed and made her way to the bathroom. Discarding her nightgown, she ran a shower and finished in ten minutes. Drying off her hair, she reached for her brush and fought with her tangles.

Sighing, she put her long pink hair in a ponytail. Wiping the water from her green eyes, she grabbed a towel, and went to the dresser. Putting on a blue top and pink skirt, not to mention her sandals. She went back to the table and put the picture in her pocket. Reaching into the kitchen cabinet, she pulled out some instant ramen, placed it in the microwave, and pushed start. It was actually quite good, though she would never understand why Naruto loved it so much. The very reason why she liked Ramen was because of Naruto.

Thinking about him brought so many memories: Sasuke and him always getting into arguments, Kakashi always being late and of course, Naruto bragging about being Hokage. Naruto never did become Hokage. It was kind of sad. She was so foolish back then. Being obsessed with Sasuke was one of them. Some things stayed the same. She still fawned over Sasuke, not as much as she used to, and Lee still made poor attempts on her part. Demo, she changed, she even went out on a date with him, and it wasn't so bad. She wasn't the only one who changed.

Kakashi still loved his 'Icha Icha Paradise', always late; he did mellow out thanks to Iruka. Iruka even to this day was still coping with the 'incident' that happened four years ago, demo he was in a happy relationship with Kakashi. Sasuke wasn't so cold hearted to her anymore, though the only conversations she had with him ended with 'hn.' However, Sasuke became isolated more, if possible. Hintana finally got the courage to ask Kiba out, and Kiba agreed. Ino and Shiko were together. And Naruto, he disappeared four years ago. Just left. Everyone who knew him was coping.

Sakura pulled out the hot Ramen and searched for her chopsticks. Sasuke and Iruka were still coping. Sasuke whether he admits or not, got rather close to Naruto. They were best friends, and had a special bond about being orphans. And it was obvious why Iruka was suffering; Naruto was like a son to him. She was fed some crap about the pressure being too much. That was a load of bullshit, and she knew it. A month after Naruto left, she was able to squeeze it out of Kakashi. Puppy dog eyes really work that and a lot of sucking up, she found out about Naruto being the fox demon. Well actually Iruka told her, so she wouldn't be left out. Sakura shoved some Ramen in her mouth.

The reason she didn't buy the story of Naruto getting scared and leaving was 1) Naruto is not that kinda guy just to leave, 2) He wouldn't leave his friends, especially Iruka. Iruka was like a father to him, and 3) Naruto's house was wrecked; everything was either broken or tossed out the window. Even the kitchen sink. Sakura finished her Ramen and quickly brushed her teeth. Then ran out the door. The third Hokage's grandkid whatever his name was Hokage. She was a jonin though she sometimes assisted Sasuke, who was also a jonin, and Kakashi; Iruka still taught at the ninja academy. There was some village meeting today and she couldn't be late. Running past the forest, she smiled at the memory of Sasuke turning down the offer of being Hokage.

It was 2 years after Naruto left, he stated," It was Naruto's dream, not mine. I will not stab him in the back, besides I have better things to do then put up with idiots and screaming girls." Or something like that. She jumped off a tree and landed in her village. It was days like these she regretted not knowing Naruto before they were a team, and not accepting his ramen dates. It could have been fun Naruto made everyone laugh, even at his own expense. The reason she was thinking of Naruto so much was it was the date of when Naruto left 4 years ago. Rushing through the building she caught up with a smiling Kakashi and a frowning Sasuke.

"I am not a girl. I am Sasuke!"

"You look like a girl with that long hair, Sasuke-kun."

Sasuke growled. It was kinda cute watching that. Sakura walked past them and into the room next door.

Iruka was explaining something. I wonder if he knows Sasuke and Kakashi were 2skipping this meeting.

"Okay. We know that beside our world there are others. We have learned that one of the other worlds, the Demon Realm; its king has been overthrown. We need to send someone down there to call a truce and not have a repeat of the Nine Tails incident."

"Why don't we just kill this new king and rule both worlds?" Some guy asked.

"Simple, this king over threw the old king with ease. If we attack we will be starting a war. "

"How will we get to the Demon Realm?" Sakura asked.

"Portals to the Demon Realm either pop out or a strong/ sneaky Demon is able to find a weak point in the dimension. We have found that weak point."

"Who's going?" Asked someone

Sasuke burst through the door after placing scissors in his pocket and glaring at his former teacher who was still chuckling replied, " I'm going. I need a challenge anyway."

"Well then you can bet, I'll go too." Sakura said and gave a look that read 'who wants some?'

The next day Sasuke and Sakura went to the portal/ weak point and ended up at the King's castle. They spoke to a demon servant saying they needed to speak to the king. Oddly enough the demon was a fox. The fox lead them through the castle to the Throne Room. Sasuke told Sakura to wait, since this was a demon, we're talking about and it might attack. Sakura reluctantly agreed. As Sasuke pushed the doors he saw a figure lying on the chair.

"I need to speak with you."

"Awww. Don't be so formal, when you do its scary."

"What?" The figure walked towards the window where the only sunlight showed. The figure was clashed in a mixture of reds, blues, and blacks. A blood red tank top, mixed with black pants, silver bracelets on each wrist, silver belts hung from his waist, one holding a sword with a black hilt, on the other belt goggles hung there and a blue cloak finished his outfit. Though the outfit was different the face was not.

"Naruto? What are you doing here?"

"What do you think, I live here."


"Just call me King Naruto, has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

Remember this is a one shot unless you give me ideas. I also need a beta reader. I hoped you guys liked the ending. I always figured Naruto would never be Hokage, so demon king is the next best thing, right? I know I'm speeding it up, but I want to get to the excitement.

Love me, Love me not

Love me, Love me not
Author: jeano

Warning: Major OOC-ness

Pairing: ShikaIno

Nara Shikamaru lay under a tree, arms folded comfortably behind his head. As he stared up at the sky, he thought about his life, people, events.

His thoughts wandered inadvertently to his teammate and crush, Yamanaka Ino, and in response, his cheeks turned a shy shade of pink. 'How troublesome,' he muttered without much conviction. He thought about her blonde hair, bunned up neatly behind her head and longed to let it run through his fingers.

He ached to touch her soft, fair skin and caress her cheek. He didn't have to worry about having her in his arms; he often had to take care of her body whenever she performed Shintenshin no Jutsu, and her mind was somewhere else.

Shikamaru sat up abruptly as a rather unpleasant thought crossed his mind- Uchiha Sasuke, #1 Rookie and probably the most popular guy with the ladies. Even Ino and the level-headed Sakura couldn't resist his charm and were hopelessly in love with him.

Shikamaru thought about his appearance-small eyes, a downturned mouth, poor fashion sense, earrings, and a stiff bunch of hair tied up at the top of his head. Shaking his head sadly, he knew that he was no match for Sasuke, who was from an advanced bloodline and consequently, possessed the intriguing Sharingan. What Shikamaru did possess, was an incredibly high IQ that was well above 200, according to Asuma-sensei's estimate.

His gift of intelligence from Kami-sama came with a hefty price though, as it made him seem to have a rather cynical and bored air about him. This repelled girls, and Ino too seemed to have a rather profound dislike for him.

Sighing, Shikamaru lay down once more, crossed his legs, and resumed his daydreaming while staring at the sky through the gaps between the leaves.

Yamanaka Ino leaned against the counter of the flower shop business owned by her family. It was currently the low season for business, for Valentine's Day had long passed. Of course, there would be the occasional male who would come in and order a bouquet of roses for his crush, girlfriend or mother. But otherwise, business at the shop was rather slow- moving, so more flowers wilted than they were sold.

Sighing, Ino walked over to the shelf where the red roses were and picked one out. Fingering the silky and delicate petals gingerly, Ino began to wonder what Sasuke-kun thought of her. Did he find her pretty? Smart? Impressive? Or was she just another figure on the street?

However much she liked Sasuke (for his looks and cool attitude), she realised that they could never be together. For one, she had many rivals waiting for the first chance to pounce on the opportunity to impress Sasuke- kun. Secondly, Sakura was on his team, meaning that she could spend more time with him and hence stood a greater chance in winning his heart.

Sighing once more with resignation, Ino undid the cloth that kept her lustrous blonde hair in a bun. Her soft hair rippled like a wave and settled like a fair mist around her shoulders. She stroked her hair absently, pondering her future while staring hard at the red rose she had placed on the counter moments ago.

She picked the rose up, careful not to get pricked by its thorns and began to stroke the petals. Suddenly stricken by a foolish thought, Ino started plucking the petals off the rose, which was in full bloom.

'He loves me. he loves me not. he loves me. he loves me not. he loves me... he loves -'

Ino whirled around in surprise, having sensed a presence behind her.

'Oh, it's you,' she said, almost in disgust, as she found herself face to face with Shikamaru. She then busied herself, clearing the petals that she had plucked off earlier, careful to avoid Shikamaru's eyes.

She found that he was behaving rather queerly in her presence: fidgeting and staring at her as if in a trance. Under normal circumstance, as far as she could remember, he would simply ignore every thing around him and calmly stare at the sky. Or the clouds. Or whatever in the sky that caught his fancy.

Ino felt his gaze bore into the back of her head, and she shivered involuntarily. What was he thinking? She stole a glance at him from the corner of her eye and noted that his face was as unreadable as a mask, though he was watching her every move.

Just as she was wondering what he was doing in a flower shop, he spoke suddenly in his signature drawl,' So-what were you doing just now?'

Embarrassed by the question, Ino spun around to face Shikamaru, her cheeks pink. To him, she looked like an angel from heaven in that very instant-a surprised look gracing her cherubic face, and her fair hair formed a halo that framed her countenance. He barely heard her stammered replies to his question.

Shikamaru felt his cheeks grow hot and knew he was blushing. He cursed himself inwardly for letting his emotions be displayed like an advertisement on his countenance that screamed,' I like Ino!'

Fortunately for him, Ino, dense as ever, failed to comprehend this. She cocked her head to once side and stared at him questioningly. This made Shikamaru blush even more, and without another word, be bolted out of the shop, leaving a very bewildered Ino behind.

Barely minutes later, Shikamaru burst into the shop again, his face red. 'Ino, I'd. I'd like to buy a dozen red roses.'

'Why, yes, of course.' Ino smiled graciously and proceeded to wrap the roses in glossy paper. 'By the way, who's it for?'

Shikamaru did not reply but instead gave Ino a very badly smudged note in worse handwriting. It read:

iIno-chan, Please meet me at the park bench near the beech tree at the edge of the woods at 6 tonight. Love, Your admirer /i

By the time Ino had finished deciphering the note, Shikamaru was gone. But he had left the money on the counter. Ino smiled, although she was a little puzzled. Why would Shikamaru, a messenger, be so nervous?

Nevertheless, Ino forgot this conveniently enough and went about preparing for her meeting with her admirer that night.

Although she did hope that her admirer was Sasuke, but deep within her heart, she had an inkling that it could possibly be the nervous messenger.

Ino ran a comb through her lustrous hair, and thought about recent events. Her thoughts wandered back to what happened that afternoon-Shikamaru's uncharacteristic nervousness, and his unusual behaviour.

Somehow, Ino felt that his behaviour had something to do with the note. iPerhaps he's more than a messenger. It sure seems that he likes me, judging from his behaviour. /i

Ino then went on to ponder what Shikamaru meant to her. Was he just a teammate, a friend, or was he more than that?

Sure, he was always afraid of getting sucked into a 'troublesome whirlpool', but he was a decent guy, always there for his teammates. Ino giggled, as she thought of Shikamaru's somewhat ridiculous life plan: Marry an average looking woman, have two kids, the elder a girl, and the younger a boy. When his daughter had gotten herself married off, and his son was able to make a living, he would retire from the job of being a ninja.

Ino stared at herself in the mirror, and decided that she wasn't quite the gorgeous beauty, but was at least pleasant-looking with a body to flaunt. As she stared at the modest collection of clothes in her wardrobe, Ino wondered why Shikamaru liked her. She wasn't really an outstanding ninja, and she wasn't as smart as Sakura. In fact, there were many other girls out there who were smarter, prettier and better at her. Why her?

She thought about Shikamaru again, about his character, since he hadn't much looks to flaunt. He usually had a rather bored air about him, since he was so smart anyway. From the experiences she had with him during their missions, she decided that he was a brave and trustworthy person who would risk his life to save his teammates.

She remembered the examination Asuma-sensei set for them after they had graduated from the Ninja Academy. Three people had to work as a team in order to obtain two bells from him, and as a team, they succeeded. They relied heavily on Shikamaru's brilliant strategy, which Asuma was no match for.

Ino blushed as she remembered the time during the exam when she nearly fell into the river, and Shikamaru saved her just in time because he knew she couldn't swim.

Of course, Ino knew that perhaps that he saved her as an act of goodwill and not because he liked or anything. But something told her that perhaps being together with Shikamaru could be quite possible and even enjoyable.

She recalled all the times when they had argued with one another about trivialities, and realised that she had actually enjoyed doing so. In fact, a day without arguing with Shikamaru seemed incomplete to her, and it was only then that he had become an integral part of her life.

Ino was still rather confused as to how she felt about Shikamaru. True, she did care about him, but was her concern for him from the point of view of a teammate or was it more than just that?

Shikamaru went to the agreed spot nearly an hour before time. He was dressed immaculately, by his standards, in smart casual attire. Beside him on the bench was the bouquet of flowers he had purchased earlier.

He smacked his forehead hard, disgusted at his own stupidity. How could he buy flowers from a girl and then give them back to her as a present? How dumb of him! And here he was trying to impress the girl of his dreams.

He was just about to give up waiting at half past six when he caught a whiff of a rather distinctive scent that he'd know anywhere. iIno-chan! She has come! /i

He was just about to stand up to offer his greetings to Ino when his breath stopped. She was dressed rather provocatively in a skintight turtleneck that bared her belly button playfully, and a pair of white shorts that hugged her shapely thighs.

Shikamaru felt his face heat up again, and Ino winked at him cheekily. She walked up to him and plonked herself comfortably on the bench. 'Hi,' she whispered.

'Uh. uh. hello.' Shikamaru stammered nervously, his cheeks a shy shade of pink. He felt well, a little confined in the crotch area of his Bermudas as he let his eyes run up and down her slender legs. Ino giggled girlishly as she noticed Shikamaru's discomfort. iHow unlike him! He's usually so calm and nonchalant./i

She noted that he was twiddling his thumbs nervously.

Then almost as if he had been reminded to do so, Shikamaru whipped the red blossoms out from behind him. As he handed them to her, she squealed in delight.

Shikamaru stared at her oddly. She seemed rather different from that afternoon, somehow. Normally, she would probably have snatched the flowers from him and then thrown a caustic remark at him. However, now, she was utterly delighted to see the flowers although she knew all too well that they were from her own backyard.

Something wasn't quite the same as before, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Still, he decided to go ahead with his confession.

Ino was gushing about how beautiful the sunset was when Shikamaru interrupted her softly,' Ino-chan.'

Surprised, she stopped and listened, completely taken in by the sincerity in his voice.

Mustering all his courage, Shikamaru managed to get the confession past his lips. 'I. I. actually. I really like you.'

Much to his surprise, Ino blushed. A pregnant pause ensued before she spoke quietly in almost a whisper,' Actually, I think you're cute. And. I realised this afternoon. that I like you too.'

Shikamaru was caught completely off guard by her startling confession. But he was too happy to care.

He inched towards Ino carefully until they were sitting together, shoulders touching. Ino rested her head on Shikamaru's shoulder and sighed contentedly as they both watched the sun set, staining the sky a beautiful vermillion.

Meanwhile, Uchiha Sasuke peered out from behind a tree in the distance, and felt a small pang of pain at the loss of yet another one of his fangirls.


A/n: Hi. This is my first Naruto fic. Hope you all enjoyed reading it. (Sorry for the lame title XD) I know Shikamaru and Ino are rather OOC, but I hope you didn't find it totally uncharacteristic of them. Oh yes, this fic will have no sequel. Hehheh. Ja for now (and I hope to write more ASAP)