Chapter 1: Sakura
Naruto wakes up in the hospital wondering why he doesn't remember what happened before that. Thankfully, Sakura was there to help remind him about what went on. Sort of.
Naruto wakes up and realizes he’s in the hospital again. He doesn’t remember why this time. Normally, he remembers it after waking up, but today doesn’t hit the nail. What’s going on?… Oh no, this means I have to pay for another medical bill if Tsunade wasn’t the one healing him… Sakura entered the room with a clipboard, but she wasn’t in her doctor coat. Sakura’s really cool as a fighting doctor. She’s like grandma Tsunade except she’s Sakura.
“Oh thank god, you’re awake.” Sakura said sighing onto her clipboard
“What happened to me? I don’t think I can afford another hospital bill… please tell me Grandma Tsunade took care of me” Naruto asked with a sudden panic
“Oh I was your doctor. Wait, you don’t remember what happened?” Sakura put down her clipboard and scratched her head.
“No? I just remember we were sparring then I woke up here. What did I do?”
“Oh boy.” She sighs while sitting down and leaning against her hand.
Sakura talks about the odd chance that Naruto passed out from hitting a chakra point that got him knocked out. The middle of Naruto’s abdomen has a certain spot that knocks him out like a bullet hit him and his clone missed Sakura, thus hitting himself with his own chakra. Though, he never bruises for long, he realizes that his stomach does feel weird.
“Don’t worry, it’s not bad. You just need to rest.”
Naruto laughed and scratched the back of his head. “I could fight Pain from the village yet I couldn’t dodge my own clone, huh? What would I do without you, Sakura-chan!”
“I’m not a medical ninja for nothing, you know!”, she grinned and made Naruto lay back down.
“I owe you! Also… do I get to go home? I can’t afford another day without having to take on another mission…”
“I’ll handle it, Naruto. Don’t worry.”
“What?” Naruto said with a pout. “But, you already healed me, are you sure that’s okay?”
“Leave it to me, Naruto. Anyway, you’re my little test patient for my healing techniques!” Sakura said happily while checking his body one last time.
“You’re already great, Sakura! The coolest and strongest and cutest!” He said proudly.
Sakura blushed and lightly hit him on the chest. “You’re a big loser, you idiot. Go home when you’re ready.”
Naruto perked up and hugged Sakura. “Thanks, Sakura! You’re the best.” He kisses her cheek and stretches to walk home.
Sakura went back to the doctors lounge and laughed at what happened. That Naruto. If only he knew what really happened… The afternoon where Naruto and Sakura were sparring, Sakura learned to incorporate her anatomy lessons with Hinata’s chakra point lessons. She waited for Naruto to form his rasengan to hit him with a massive blow on his abdomen. Naruto can handle it , she thought. But, once the blow hit him, he was knocked unconscious. Oh no. She carried him straight to the hospital and healed him as soon as she could. Nothing was wrong, Hinata told her not to worry and that he just needed some rest. She finished all her papers and paid for the room rental fee. Sorry for lying, Naruto! At least this one’s on me.
Chapter 2: Shikamaru
Shikamaru tutors Naruto on his final lesson before being promoted to Jonin.
check out the cute art here! https://twitter.com/kuramapaw/status/1056454864710991872
Naruto was a lesson away from becoming a Jonin-level ninja. If it wasn’t for Iruka-sensei or Shikamaru, he wouldn’t have gotten so far so fast. Sensei was the bearer of great news once class was over.
“Naruto, one more lesson and we’ll fix your paperwork for Kakashi to grant you your rank.”
Naruto’s eyes went wide and he almost cried from excitement. “I’m proud of you, Naruto”, Iruka smiled and ruffled his hair.
“Does that mean ramen!” Naruto looked at Iruka-sensei eagerly.
“...After the next lesson, please. Let me earn my share from the mission desk first.” Iruka laughed while feeling a sharp pain in his back pocket, suddenly feeling how thin his wallet has been from spoiling Naruto. Shikamaru joined in the conversation, realizing it’s supper time.
“Do you want some dinner at my place instead? My mom cooked some red bean soup and Choji made some hotpot yesterday.” Shikamaru offered while watching Naruto look at him like a deer caught in headlights.
“Shikamaru, have I told you you’re my best friend?”
“I thought Sasuke’s your best friend?”
“You’re my best friend. Also Sasuke. And Sakura. And Sai. And Gaara. And--” Iruka laughed and stopped him before he rambles on.
“Hey, if you two are done just lock up. I’m gonna be late for my shift if Naruto lists all his friends from all the villages.”
Shikamaru chuckled and waved for Naruto to follow him“Come on, let’s go. My mom likes you anyway.”
They lock up and walk towards Shikamaru’s house. Shikamaru lit a cigarette while Naruto talked about how he didn’t understand how analyzing the angle of trajectory can make him Hokage, but he would do anything to be a rightful Hokage.
“Hey Shikamaru, I know Asuma-sensei did it, but why do you smoke?” Naruto asked casually. He means no harm, unlike his mom who hated when she found out he developed his dad and sensei’s habit.
“Calms me down. Plus, it feels nice. It’s warm.”
“Can I try?” Naruto asked like he was a little kid.
“Nope. Iruka-sensei will kill me if I make his precious Naruto-kun develop smoking habit.” Shikamaru kept his eyes on the road to avoid Naruto’s pout.
“...Speaking of Iruka-sensei, are you doing anything after dinner?” Shikamaru looked at him confused.
“Probably not. When you’re around, my mom doesn’t make me do any chores.”
“Can you tutor me on the last lesson, please? I want to finish it as soon as I can!” Naruto asked with his puppy dog eyes that made Pakkun’s paw pads run for its money.
“Ramen really motivates you this much?”
“It’s not just the ramen… I want to prove that I can be Hokage as soon as I can! Plus… I want to make Iruka-sensei proud…” He was looking at the ground. Shikamaru felt how serious this was to him ever since they started studying.
“Sure, Naruto. Just don’t keep me up for too long, we just spent the whole day studying with Iruka-sensei.” He smirked. What a troublesome request, but I admit, that’s Naruto for you.
Naruto did a quick leap of joy and ran towards Shikamaru’s house. Shikamaru sighed and threw his cigarette in the nearest bin. They arrived at his house and had their dinner. Naruto loved red bean soup, so he let him have his serving. After dinner, they were in Shikamaru’s patio and used the shogi board as a desk for Naruto to read his book. It took them 3 hours for Naruto to completely understand the lesson. The clock hit 10 and Shikamaru stood up to stretch his back from slouching over and tutoring Naruto.
“That’s it, you got it.” Shikamaru yawned.
Naruto looked at him wide eyed, “Thats.. it?”.
“What, you want more?” He replied sarcastically.
“I can finally be a jonin like the rest of you…” Naruto mumbled while starting to smile.
“You already we-” Before Shikamaru could continue, Naruto pounced on him giving him a bear hug. Shikamaru’s instincts grabbed Naruto while Naruto clutched onto him like a koala.
“Shikamaru, you’re amazing! An huge idiot like me can be a jonin like the rest of you!” Naruto said still hugging him.
“Hey, you aren’t that big of an idiot. You got the lesson down in three-” Naruto kissed Shikamaru’s lips while smiling. Shikamaru could feel the edges of Naruto’s lips curving upwards from excitement. Naruto pulled away with his eyes beaming from happiness.
“Thanks a lot, Shikamaru! I wouldn’t be a big idiot if it weren’t for you!”
Shikamaru was blushing when he started to chuckle. “Naruto, that’s not how you say that. You’re saying you’re a big idiot because of me.”
Naruto let go and stood on his own feet. “Oh hehe, whoops. I guess I still am a bit of an idiot, huh.” Shikamaru shook his head and walked Naruto to the guest room. I knew you’d make it this far. He greeted Naruto goodnight and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Naruto gave a cheeky grin and yelled a goodnight to Shikamaru’s mom. Shikamaru laughed and went to his room. He took off his vest and fell on the bed. I’m proud of him.
Chapter 3: Neji
Neji and Naruto have ramen after the war.
check out the cute art here! https://twitter.com/kuramapaw/status/1056454864710991872
The war just ended and everyone was finally settling down from the stress of reparations. It’s been a lot more quiet in the village, other than all the reconstruction going on. During Naruto’s lunch break an the Academy, Neji asked Shikamaru if he could meet with Naruto for lunch instead of their usual bento-while-reading breaks. Shikamaru wasn’t really in any position to say no, nor did he want to say no, so he let Iruka know so that they’d push the lesson faster. Once the lesson was halfway done, Naruto was told by Shikamaru to meet up with Neji in Ichiraku Ramen. Naruto perked up with the thought of his favourite restaurant and Iruka’s shoulders fell from relief. I haven’t received my paycheck yet. Thank goodness for Neji. Naruto leapt from the window and went straight towards the ramen shop. He saw Neji seated and greeted him warmly. Naruto ordered his usual while Neji ordered Onomichi Ramen. Naruto loved the look on Teuchi-san’s face since he was making something other than Miso Char Siu.
“So, how’s your back doing?” Naruto asked, slightly sinking in his seat. He still feels guilty for putting Neji through that.
Neji could sense the atmosphere and replied lightly. “I’m healing. Don’t worry.”
“Hey uh, thanks a lot for what you did, Neji. Thank god Grandma Tsunade came on time. We don’t know what would happen without you. , Gai-sensei, Lee, Tenten, and Hinata would be so sad... I would be so sad.” Naruto looked at Neji with almost-watery eyes.
Neji had to contain the frown from his face. “It is nothing. I would hate for either of you two to get hurt.”
“For a genius like you, getting hurt like that was a really dangerous thing to do.”
Neji laughed at the change in tone. “Well, what can I do… Two people I care about would’ve gotten hurt if I didn’t.”
“But you got hurt”, Naruto frowned. He knows it was a war, but he knew that if Granny Tsunade didn’t arrive, Neji wouldn’t have made it.
“You two are more important.” He said smiling to his ramen.
Naruto’s eyebrows bunched together. It wasn’t anger, more confusion. “You are important too, you know.”
“.....I can’t think about myself quite rationally when it’s about you guys”
Naruto smiled at that. He remembers back when Neji was a stuck up pain in the ass before the Chunin exams. All he would talk about was how no one was good enough for fate and stuff.
“You do have a heart!”
Neji scoffed with a smile. “Don’t push it, Naruto. I’m still the same boring Neji you know”
“You have a heart! Remember when you helped Hinata when her eyes were hurt? Or the time you and Tenten took care of Lee when he was drunk! Or the time when Gai sensei had a rash from his suit and you--”
“Please do not remind me.”
Naruto wiped his mouth with his sleeve and had a cat-like grin on his face. He know what would prove it to Neji. He kissed Neji on the cheek. Neji blushed and didn’t look at Naruto in the eye. He was frozen there, either in shame or shock, but mostly in shock.
“You have a heart, Neji!” Naruto said smiling. He stood up from the stool and gave him a hug. “Okay, I have to go back to the Academy to finalize some papers for my promotion. Thanks for the lunch and paying for the ramen!” He said waving at Neji while running back to the Academy. Neji couldn’t even get mad at Naruto for making him pay for the meal, he was rich anyway. His face was flushed pink, he finished his soup and paid for the ramen with a smile on his face.
Chapter 4: Ino
Everyone celebrates Naruto's promotion to being Jonin by getting wasted. Ino and Naruto start fighting.
check out the cute art here! https://twitter.com/kuramapaw/status/1056454864710991872
It was a saturday night, there was a Yakiniku-Q celebration for Naruto’s jonin rank achievement. Everyone came to celebrate and chose to get wasted. Neji, Lee, Shino and Sakura opted not to drink to be the sober friends of the night. Sakura was in charge of the girls while the others were in charge of the other teams. Drink after drink: Naruto got progressively redder, Ino got louder, Sai was passing out, Kiba was getting more inappropriate than usual, Tenten was ordering more food, Shikamaru and Choji were quiet, and Hinata was still… normal. This was going to be a rough night for the babysitters. Sakura stood up and put Sai beside her to make sure he won’t vomit on his scroll like last time. Ino then crawled up to Sakura, whispering something indiscernible to anyone else. Sakura’s face turned pink and she went back to tending to Sai, slightly sweating. Ino suddenly gave Sakura a kiss on the top of her head. Everyone laughed as Sakura pushed her away; there was no point in hiding that Sakura liked it. Ino proceeded to call everyone out for the great things they do. She’s an affectionate drunk… who knew? After all the insults she gives on the daily, her kind side shows when she’s wasted beyond compare.
She started to yell towards Hinata’s direction. “HINATA, YOU’RE SO KIND AND BEAUTIFUL. ANYONE WOULD FALL FOR YOU IF YOU LET THEM. BUT YOU’RE SO STUCK ON NA-- OUCH, WHAT THE FUCK?” Shino’s bug bit the back of her neck. Hinata was flushed red from the compliments that she almost fainted when Ino almost divulged her crush. Shino started to take care of Sai while Sakura reassured her that nothing hit her.
“SAKURA, YOU TOO. YOU’RE SO SMART. AND BEAUTIFUL. AND CUTE. AND YOU’RE SO STRONG. PLUS YOU’RE A DOCTOR. YOU ARE A ONE WOMAN TEAM. YOU HAVE IT ALL.”
Naruto laughed and joined in. “I agree! Sakura-chan is the coolest! She has the cool forehead mark and she has really green eyes!” Ino looked at Naruto competitive and proud. “NARUTO, YOUR EYES ARE REALLY GREAT. IT’S SO BLUE. THEY REMIND ME OF FORGET ME NOTS.” Naruto was confused by the comparison, but retorted back. “Your eyes are pretty too! I would not forget them either!”. Naruto and Ino looked at Neji and Hinata with utmost passion,
“BUT THEY TAKE THE CAKE! I LOVE THEIR EYES! THEY REMIND ME OF THE MOON!”
“They’re not like any other! They remind me of mochi when they stay in red bean soup for too long!”
They kept going. Choji blushed when they called him the kindest man in Konoha. He chuckled when they also added the fact that he could be the second most handsome man in Konoha (second to the Handsome Devil himself, Lee). Shikamaru and Neji were given the typical “you two are stupidly too smart to exist” speal, but neither of them expected to also be told about the fact that they have big hearts and are very loving to their friends. Naruto told Shino how cool he would be if he stood out more and Ino told him that he would be a lot more handsome if he tried a new hairstyle. Tenten was called out for being so fucking adorable. Lee was told that he has the most positive energy anyone in the village can possess. Kiba was also told about how handsome he is even if he smelled like a dog all the time. Akamaru was continuously called a great boy, but Akamaru knew that. Sai was too passed out to know that they called his smile tender and warm. They fawned over how he has grown so much and that he has become so emotionally in-tune with himself. Now, it got serious. The two blondes were eye to eye.
“NARUTO. YOU SAVED THE WHOLE VILLAGE. WHO THE FUCK CAN DO THAT LIKE YOU?!
“SAKURA-CHAN! SASUKE!! KAKASHI-SENSEI!! SAI!! ALL OF YOU!! IM NOT AS COOL AS YOU GUYS. EVEN YOU, MISS I-CONNECTED-EVERYONE’S-HEADS-DURING-A-WAR!”
“NOT AS COOL? YOU HAVE FROG MODE AND FOX MODE. AND EVEN IN HUMAN MODE YOU’RE IN DAMN GOD-LEVEL. PLUS, YOU DON’T EVEN LOOK LIKE YOU FOUGHT A WAR, LOOK AT YOURSELF. YOUR SKIN IS BEAMING.”
“SAYS YOU! YOUR HAIR IS SO SMOOTH LOOKING AND YOUR SKIN IS SO CLEAR. YOU WOULD MAKE GRANDMA TSUNADE’S REGENERATION THINGY LOOK LIKE A WASTE OF CHAKRA.”
“YOU HAVE TSUNADE-SAMA’S NECKLACE FOR GOD’S SAKE. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT NECKLACE MEANS? I FUCKING DO, IT MEANS YOU’RE SO FUCKING SPECIAL.”
“YOU ARE THE HEIR TO THE YAMANAKA CLAN, TSUNADE’S STUDENT, A MEDICAL NINJA AND A FLOWER BUSINESSWOMAN. I’M A JOBLESS NINJA WHO JUST BECAME A JONIN.”
Kiba groaned at the yelling and loudly commented, “Just make out already, god damn.”
Naruto pouted in drunk anger. “DON’T TEMPT ME. BECAUSE IF I FIND OUT THAT SHE’S A GOOD KISSER, I’M REALLY GOING TO WINGMAN SAK- OUCH MY FOOT.” Sakura stepped on his toe. Naruto squawked a yelp and went back to his yelling match with Ino.
“FUCKING TRY ME. I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW, I MADE A BET THAT YOU’RE A GOOD KISSER. YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WOULD EXFOLIATE YOUR DAMN LIPS.”
“I DON’T. I JUST LIKE DRINKING WATER.”
“FUCK, YOU’RE EVEN WELL HYDRATED.”
Neji started to press on his temples. He looked like he was close to imploding from annoyance. “Please stop yelling. The other patrons are starting to think you two will fight.”
Ino sat in front of Naruto, sneering at him. She pointed at him with intense motivation.
“Listen here, you little punk. Don’t you ever undermine yourself again. You are just as great as everyone in this damn room. Got it?”
“I uh… Yes, Ino. You too, though.”
“You fucking sweet friend.” Ino kissed him quickly. “That’s for Hin-- OUCH. SHINO I KNOW THAT’S YOU.”
“No you don’t. Why? Because you are drunk and have no rational thinking brain cell at the moment.” Shino said while holding Hinata’s shoulder.
Everyone went home with their sober friends and the next day Naruto woke up with a headache. He walked to the nearest convenience store to grab some instant coffee when he saw Ino opening up her shop.
“Hey, loser! Got a hangover?”
“Yeah, don’t you? We drank so much last night.”
“Ha! I don’t get hangovers ever since Tsunade-sama taught me a trick. Sucks to be you!” 'It was just last night that she was so nice to me.', Naruto thought. Drunkenness really is a short lived friend.
Naruto was walking home when he felt another sting on the back of his neck. However, before he could get mad he scratched it off and found a little lavender bud with some liquid on it. His head felt less heavy and he smiled at the pleasant attack on his nape. Ino went back in her store and kept her floral ointment while getting ready for the rest of the day.
Chapter 5: Sai
Naruto always wondered if Sai gets cold.
check out the cute art here! https://twitter.com/kuramapaw/status/1056454864710991872
Naruto and Sai were waiting for Sakura and Kakashi for their next mission. Naruto noticed that Sai’s hair was getting longer. Sai smiled back and thanked him. Naruto thought it was a good time to ask Sai a question he’s always wanted to ask.
“Hey, Sai.” Naruto asked carefully.
“Doesn’t your belly get cold? You wear a sweater during our free days but you wear your tummy out shirt when we go on missions… Isn’t it cold?” He asked slowly drifting his eyes to Sai’s pale stomach.
“I like my cropped shirt. Is it not nice?” Sai asked with a kind smile.
Naruto waved his hands while shaking his head. “It’s nice! You look great in it! You’re the only man in Konoha who would pull it off this good! Not even Neji would wear a top like that as good as you, and that’s Neji!”
Sai then went on explaining that back when he was in Root, he learned a lot of methods on keeping his body temperature stable. He really liked cropped tops since it made him feel freer when fighting, especially since his ink would be hard to wash off on fabric. Sakura arrived shortly after and joined in the conversation. Naruto was scolded for judging Sai’s outfit, but Sai took no offence. Naruto wasn’t judging it anyway, Sakura’s just really careful.
“You should really mind your own business, Naruto.” Sakura sighed.
“I am! Sai’s just really pretty, you know! Plus, his outfit is really nice on him, it makes him look like a rogue ninja! But he isn’t! He’s a good guy like us! I was even telling him about how he’s the only man in Konoha who could pull it off. Right Sai?” Naruto looked at Sai for validation. Sai smiled and grabbed Naruto by the cheeks to give him a kiss.
Naruto blushed from shock and waited for Sai to pull away. Naruto was pink in the face while lightly yelling at Sai for not warning him about that. Sakura giggled at Naruto’s shock, she knew it was coming. After Kakashi-sensei lent him a book on understanding flirtation, Sai has been more affectionate to others who would compliment him. He remembers the other day when Sai kissed Choji for helping him carry scrolls to the Hokage’s office or the time Sai hugged Lee when he told Sai that he was radiating youth during his birthday.
Kakashi finally arrived from his path of life and they walked to the field for their B-Rank mission. Sai was talking more on their way to the meetup spot with the clients. Sakura and Naruto looked at each other, pleased with how Sai has lightened up to all of them. After the mission was done, Naruto found a note with a gift in front of his apartment door.
You may find this interesting. Consider this as my thanks for your compliments to me the other day. I do think there is another man in Konoha who can pull off a cropped top other than me.
The next day, Naruto wore his new cropped shirt when meeting up with his team to plan for the next mission. He received nothing but compliments from Sai and the others. Naruto felt a warmth in his stomach from all the kind remarks. No wonder he doesn’t feel cold.
Chapter 6: Lee
Lee and Naruto train together.
check out the cute art here! https://twitter.com/kuramapaw/status/1056454864710991872
Naruto woke up in his apartment feeling a little lonely. It was a normal feeling, but some days are a little worse than the others. That morning, he took a jog around the training grounds to keep his mind off of things. No one was really around since they were all busy with work, so we proceeded to go back home to rest. Lee knocked on his door and to Naruto’s surprise, he was happy to see him. Lee offered they train together after seeing Naruto jog in the training grounds. Naruto knew this was going to be hell for his body the next day, but he agreed. He hasn’t hung out with Lee in a long while anyway.
Lee and Naruto spar together when Naruto knows he needs to bulk up for the next mission. He always found sparring with Bushy Brows more fun than with anyone else. It was like having a personal trainer, except he trains your muscles and your heart. Throughout training, they’d always catch up. Naruto and Lee would practice kickboxing while talking about how their senseis would fight their rival battles in the middle of training. While doing muscle training, Lee proceeded to talk about his latest mission and on how Neji and Tenten have learned new skills. Naruto was impressed by their new team move, it was perfect for the three of them. While doing sit-ups, Naruto talked about how Sakura and Sai were getting along well and how they developed a three-man hand sign to create a new jutsu. It was pleasant, until Naruto knew he was close to losing all sensation in his muscles. One last round , Naruto thought.
Lee noticed Naruto’s slight quiver when sitting up and knew that he just needed one last exercise before calling it a day. They did hand-in-hand push ups. It was something Lee always wanted to do, but no one would be up for it. Tenten was too embarrassed to try and Neji declined right away. He thinks it’s because their hair is long. Naruto on the other hand agreed once he recommended it.
“You know, Bushy Brows, you’re a fun guy.” Naruto said, slowly getting more tired
“What makes you say that, Naruto? You are the most fun guy here!” Lee said looking up at the face above him.
“You’re really fun to be around, it’s like you’re a party wherever you go! People don’t give you enough credit.” Naruto started to sweat and let go one arm to wipe it off. He was unbalanced but Lee kept him stable.
“Thanks, Bushy Brows! Sorry, I would hate to sweat on you. That’s gross.” Naruto chuckled sheepishly and continued his push-ups.
Lee proceeded to dip his elbows to his chest level to have their faces meet in a kiss. Naruto was confused at first but he let it happen. Lee pushed him up again and flashed his iconic handsome devil of the leaf smile. They continued their workout until Naruto couldn’t feel his arms. He walked home with Lee following him and they said their goodbyes once Naruto reached his door. Naruto didn’t feel too sad entering his home. Having people like Lee around him made everywhere feel like home.
Chapter 7: Tenten
Tenten's heart can't handle training. She needs to know what happened to Neji.
(setting: after the first chunin exam, before the timeskip)
Based off of Mariel/@automeru's art! Check it out here: https://twitter.com/automeru/status/1054962932004593664
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After sparring, Tenten summons a cup of water for everyone. Everyone was sweaty, it was gross really. Tenten re-did her buns and Lee stretched his muscles while talking about what he should improve on. Neji wiped off his sweat and looked back at his teammates.
“Thanks, guys.” Neji smiled.
Tenten and Lee were at a loss for words. His smile is a gift from the gods. Lee and Tenten we’re dumbstruck. It wasn’t his common smirk or smug grin. It was a genuine smile; it radiated warmth and softness. Neji’s smile dropped in confusion.
“Did I say something wrong?” Neji asked while looking around him for the possible reason why they couldn’t reply.
Tenten bolted at him. “Nothing wrong! Please, don’t mind us! We’re just tired from the spar, that’s all! Hey will you look at the time! I forgot I had to meetup with Gai-sensei! How time passes, right, Neji? Lee, keep up the great work! Neji… bye!” Tenten kissed both their cheeks and ran to her apartment to quickly change her clothes from the mud and sweat she developed from the spar. She went rooftop to rooftop looking for Naruto. Not in Ichiraku Ramen, not at the Academy, I don’t know where he lives, where else… Then she saw the eyesore of orange on his way towards the Hokage’s estate. Out of panic of losing his trail, she threw a kunai at his direction to stop him on his tracks.
“HUH- oh hey, Captenten!” Naruto said while sheepishly waving. He doesn’t know what he did to piss her off and he isn’t sure if he wants to know.
“Captenten? Since when have you called me that?” Tenten did not expect that nickname but she liked it. The only time she was on a team with Naruto and she was captain. It had a ring to it.
“So, are about to go on a mission? I’m just about to go to Sakura-chan for dango… you can join us if you want? I know you and Sakura-chan are friends because of the whole girls clu-”
“What did you do to Neji?” She asked, arms on her hips slightly blushing.
“Ha? I haven’t talked to him in a while. Is he alright?”
“What did you do to him after the Chunin Exams?”
“What’s wrong with Neji?”
“NOTHING IS! LITERALLY NOTHING.”
“Wait… what?” Naruto feels dumb. Even more than usual.
“He’s SMILING. Lee and I’s hearts can’t take it! How did you make him do that?!”
“I… don’t know? Why is this my fault? I would think he’d frown more because I beat him!” Naruto said before dodging a blunt senbon flying beside his head.
“Don’t remind me.” Tenten warned him.
“Look, Neji’s a cool guy! Isn’t it good that he’s smiling? He loves you two! He told me that you two are the first people to let him feel free from his birdcage blah blah!”
“He… said that?”
“I won’t lie to you right now. You threw a kunai and senbon. I’m going to piss my pants at another weapon.” Naruto said arms in front of him.
“Thanks a lot, Naruto. Neji really needed someone like you.” Tenten said kissing his cheek and slapping his back. He fell flat on his face. Gai-sensei’s habits were rubbing off of her. Why do the girls always have to beat me up… I get Sakura-chan, but I don’t know what I did to Captenten… Girls are weird. Naruto stood back up and Tenten was nowhere to be found. He walked towards the Hokage’s medical room waiting for Sakura to finish her lectures with the apprentice medic-nins.
Tenten ran back to the roofs near the training ground to see Lee and Neji practicing their weapon aim. Neji was smiling when he saw Lee being able to hit the dummy’s bullseye in one fell swoop. Tenten observed from the background until Neji caught glimpse of her and called her to join them. He remarked how he never gave her enough credit for her marksmanship and Tenten’s heart fluttered. Lee and Tenten looked at each other with pink cheeks, tears in their eyes, and giant grins. Thank you, Naruto-kun!!!
Based off of Mariel/@automeru's art! Check it out here: https://twitter.com/automeru/status/1054962932004593664
Chapter 8: Hinata
Naruto and Sakura spent the afternoon keeping Hinata company.
(setting: after the first chunin exam, before the timeskip)
The moon wasn’t their first kiss.
As kids, Hinata needed the help she could get. After Neji got back from the Sasuke Retrieval Mission, his recovery was important to Hinata. For a day, he needed to keep his eyes covered, like when Hinata had eye strain from excessive Byakugan use. Naruto and Sakura offered to help keep her company since that’s what they did with Neji. Sakura saw the sun start to set and she went ahead, leaving Naruto and Hinata to watch over the now-sleeping Neji. Sakura winked at Hinata and promised she’ll be back the next day. Naruto was then sitting beside Hinata on her porch, legs dangling above the grass of their training field.
“Hey Hinata, are you okay? I’ve never seen you this uneasy before.” Naruto said watching her frown at her feet.
“Oh, don’t worry, Naruto. I’m just concerned over Neji’s condition. He’s like a brother to me.” Hinata was startled by Naruto’s conversation with her. He was mostly talking to Sakura and Hinata with Sakura that she was caught off guard with the one-on-one conversation together.
“I’m glad you two are like this now. He was such a prick to you before! You’re the reason why I beat his ass in the chunin exam! I wanted to prove him wrong for treating you like crap!” Naruto smiled. He was really proud of that.
“That wasn’t necessary, Naruto! It’s clan matters, I’m used to it. But… thank you, nonetheless.”
“You better not get used to it. You aren’t into the weird caged destiny bird thing either right?” He frowned and went closer and pulled up Hinata’s bangs to check if she also had a curse seal.
She shrieked and pulled away. Naruto raised his arms and apologized immediately.
“Naruto... don’t hurt her.” Neji spoke softly.
They both looked at the sleeping figure and eventually at each other, suddenly laughing at Neji’s sleep talking.
“He really grew a heart, especially for you… Sorry for touching your forehead, Sakura gets mad at me when I comment on hers. But, yours isn’t even that big! I don’t understand why you cover it, but it’s probably a girl thing I won’t get. You know, one time, Granny Tsunade flicked my forehead and I had a red mark for a whole day. Except with her monster strength. She’s crazy. Then another time she threatened to do it again but she ended up kissing my forehead instead.” Naruto was always so animated. She was getting comfortable.
“I’m glad she didn’t hurt you, Naruto.” She smiled, it was a good feeling amidst the stress of today.
“But I was so scared! Here, try it.” Naruto looked at her dead on and poked her forehead without warning. “See!” Naruto saw her react — Hinata blushed and froze at the gesture.
“Oh no, did I do something? You’re red in the face! Is this a Hyuga thing with the forehead” Naruto kissed her forehead and hoped she’d feel better. He was staring at her in hopes that the redness would go away.
It did. Red turned white.
He panicked and asked the person at the nearest room for help. A snarky little 7 year old girl was his best bet of help at the moment. After she told him that she wasn’t surprised, she put a pillow under Hinata’s head and lay beside her.
“You can go now. Bye!”
“Oh… Alright… I’ll come back tomorrow! Tell Hinata I say sorry!”
Hanabi stared at him until he left and she started giggling to herself. She can’t wait to use this as blackmail for Hinata one day. She just knows that it would get her to do less chores!
Chapter 9: Kiba
Naruto and Kiba are just bros being bros while giving Akamaru loving cuddles and pets.
Akamaru and Kiba were on a leisurely stroll in their favourite valley and they ran into Naruto jogging around. They called him to join them, mostly because Akamaru loved attention. He’s a ninja hound, but still a hound. They join Naruto for a jog until they get tired and take a break on the grass. They spent their rest time playing with Akamaru. He really grew, so Naruto had the opportunity to rub his belly with all of his arms. While Naruto was rubbing Akamaru’s belly, Kiba was nuzzling against Akamaru’s head. They were throwing around “you’re a good boy” and “best dog in Konoha” like it was nothing. Akamaru was so spoiled and he loved it. Kiba was rambling about to Naruto about how this always happens.
“Picture this, bro, you’re enjoying some skewers and suddenly a group of pups come over and start playing with Akamaru! With their nasally ass ‘ Hey mister, can we pet your dog? ’ which is chill and all but like almost everyday! Akamaru has been getting treats non-stop, I can’t even get those gremlins to stop because that’s the first thing they do!” Kiba was exasperated. Naruto didn’t see the big deal since even without the kids, Kiba spoils Akamaru just like that.
“I don’t know, man, that sounds pretty normal to me. Back in the academy, he was the cutest little pup that made all the girls want to be around! Except you would play pranks on them so they would run away.” Naruto said while laughing.
“Hey, their loss! I think I’m just jealous.” Kiba said staring at Akamaru falling asleep to the love he’s receiving.
Naruto glossed over Kiba hugging Akamaru’s head on his lap. He scooched beside Kiba and gave him a soft hug, pressing his hands on the nape of his neck. Naruto kissed the top of Kiba’s head and told him that he’s a cool guy. Calling Kiba ‘good boy’ wasn’t something Naruto wanted to do, no matter what circumstance. Kiba’s face flushed but unbenounced to him, he liked it.
“T-thanks, I guess? But, bro… what was that for?” Kiba didn’t move. He liked the position he was in, but he was genuinely baffled.
“I thought you were jealous of Akamaru getting all the attention… so, I’m giving you some?” Naruto replied. Naruto thought he was clear with his actions, apparently not?
“Dude, I was jealous that I’m not the only one spoiling Akamaru, not jealous of Akamaru being the only one getting spoiled.” Kiba laughed. Kiba’s laugh is loud, boisterous. It was fitting. Naruto noticed he was still holding Kiba, he was about to let go until Kiba melted into the arms hugging him.
“It does feel nice though.” Kiba smiled.
Naruto continued the cuddles until Akamaru started kicking for attention again. Kiba sat up straight and pulled himself together to go back home.
“Thanks for that, dude! But, don’t tell anyone about this.” Kiba deadpanned.
“Uh, yeah man. Just hit me up if you want more? ‘ts what friends are for!” Naruto grinned.
“You’re a real bro, Naruto.”
With that, Akamaru and Kiba went off back home and Naruto jogged back to his apartment too. He felt something in his pocket when he got back and realized the dog treat he found inside, slightly wet from dog slobber. Naruto smiled and put it on his table to feed Akamaru the next day. They’re the ones spoiling me.
Chapter 10: Shino
It has to be about the Sasuke Recovery Mission. It’s always about the Sasuke Recovery Mission.
Before Naruto had to leave for his training, he wanted to see everyone before they left. He was going to see Sakura and Kaka-sensei last. Team 10 was easy because he’s close with Choji and Shikamaru. Lee brought Team Gai to say goodbye and Gai gave him the hug of his life. Hinata hid when she saw him but he eventually said bye and gave her a big hug. Kiba and Akamaru were on their way to Hinata and Naruto told them that he’ll be stronger than ever; he can beat Kiba without needing a fart! Kiba called him stupid and Akamaru licked his face (and peed on his leg). It was 2 more days until he was going to leave but he knew tomorrow was meant for preparations and for his own team.
“Forgetting someone, Naruto?”
“Huh…?” Naruto looked around for the voice. Shino jumped from the tree and landed in front of him.
“First you leave me out of the recovery mission, now you won’t even say goodbye. Shall I even consider you a friend of mine?” Shino said
“Ya know, it’s not my fault you don’t make your presence known! Can’t you let it slide?” Naruto was angrily pouting. It was adorable, really. Hinata could agree.
“I cannot. Why? Because I deem you worthy to be my friend, but I would guess this feeling is not mutual.” Shino deadpanned.
“Look, let’s talk about this. What can I do to make it up to you?” Naruto was getting impatient. He doesn’t want to start anything and leave it be until he gets back. He knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that.
“I do not know. Why? Because it would be ingenuine for me to tell you what you should do.”
“Okay, look. Do you want me to buy you dinner? We can eat at Ichiraku! I’ll ask Teuchi-san to make yours extra special!”
“No, thank you.”
“New glasses? Ero-sennin is loaded, I could ask for mon-”
“I am quite content with my current glasses since they have prescription lenses. Thank you.”
Naruto was getting annoyed, but he also didn’t want to leave it be. He nudged Kiba’s elbow and asked what he could do. Kiba just shrugged, Shino can’t really be mad at Kiba, he wasn’t the one who chose the team members. Naruto was desperate, he also wanted to go home. Naruto tried to pull his Sexy Technique to make Shino distracted. It didn’t work. Naruto hugged Shino’s arm, slightly yelling to his ear.
“What did I do wrooooong?! I even asked Shikamaru where you were! He said you were in a mission! I wanted you there too, ya know!” Naruto started hitting his head against his shoulder when he saw a slight blush on his pale cheeks and a slightly dumbfounded reaction on his face. What? Naruto was confused.
“...Did you actually think I forgot about you?! I needed you guys the most! Of course I wished you were there!” Naruto said while pouting again.
“My apologies, Naruto. I was not told of that.” Shino’s eyes aren’t always seen but Kiba could feel a glare at his direction.
“Y-you’re okay now? You forgive me?” Naruto pulled him lower to be of eye-level.
“There was nothing to blame you for, apparently. Why? I assumed you forgot about me and no one bothered to correct my assumption.”
“Oh thank god!” Naruto jumped and kissed Shino’s cheek out of excitement. He could finally go home.
“Bye everyone! I’ll be back as soon as you know it!” Naruto said while waving and running towards his apartment.
Kiba and Akamaru had to carry their now-paralyzed teammates back to their homes. One fainted from shock and the other fainted from too much blood going to their head.
Chapter 11: Choji
Choji always fostered love. He received love, and he gave love back.
At the rooftop, Shikamaru was asleep while Choji was eating his lunch. Naruto was talking about how he saw Iruka-sensei at the weird part of town with a gray haired man the other night. It was their lunch break before class would resume in a 30 minutes, but Naruto wasn’t eating. Choji paid no attention since he assumed that Naruto’s like Shikamaru; Shikamaru eats after school because he wants to sleep during lunch, so he eats a fuller breakfast. The next day, it happens again. He’s eating his lunch, Shikamaru is asleep, and Naruto is rambling away, except Choji notices Naruto glancing towards his bento every so often. Choji offers Naruto some of his lunch and Naruto’s eyes glistened.
“It’s grilled fish! My mom is a great cook and my dad makes really good desserts!” He was watching Naruto savour the fish. It has a miso glaze! It was just as fancy as Ichiraku Ramen, maybe fancier!
“Thanks, Choji!” Naruto returned Choji’s lunchbox to him and smiled while continuing his stories.
Shikamaru and Choji were picked up by Choji’s mom at the playground and Naruto walked home to his apartment. Naruto readied his electric kettle for his dinner of instant ramen, but he couldn’t help but think about the bite of fish he had from Choji. He readied his bowl of instant ramen and thought that if he imagined the taste of the miso glaze, maybe he could taste it while eating. It didn’t. He finished eating and went to bed. Tomorrow’s gonna be another day!
Alternatively, Choji was eating a hearty dinner with his parents. He asked his dad about Naruto.
“Dad, why do people look at Naruto badly?” Choji asked while taking a bite of rice.
“What do you mean? Isn’t he your friend?” Choza replied back, holding back a smile.
“He is! Naruto is really kind and fun, but whenever we walk around town, people stare at him like he’s a monster. He does dumb stuff, but so do the other kids!” Choji started to get angry, but at no one particularly.
“Then do the others matter?” Choji’s mom added. Choji stopped and thought about that.
“Don’t they? He doesn’t deserve that! The only one nice to him is Teuchi-san and Iruka-sensei and Shikamaru!”
“What about you, honey?” Choji’s mom stood up to clean her plate and Choji’s lunchbox for the next day.
“I let him try some of my food a while ago! But, I don’t know… Shikamaru told me not to ask for snack money from Naruto, but it’s not like Naruto doesn’t have an allowance, right? He’s a kid like us!” Choji’s parents looked at each other concerned. Choji’s innocence was really making itself known, but something about their silence made Choji feel like something was up.
The next morning, Choji’s mom gave him two lunchboxes.
“I can have two lunches today?!” Choji asked, beaming to his mom.
“You silly kid, I made too much food last night, give your friend the other lunchbox! I’ll be giving him lunch too, is that okay?” Choji nodded happily. Choji’s mom ruffled his hair and kissed him before going to school.
Once lunch came, Choji was excited to give Naruto the other lunchbox. Naruto was confused and had a blush on his face.
“Choji, what’s this for?” Naruto asked, smiling.
“My mom made too much food yesterday, so she told me to give you one. Last night, we had spicy tofu and beef! What did you have, Naruto?” Choji asked while taking a bite of his lunch. Naruto was hesitant to reply.
“Oh the usual, some good ramen!” Naruto said sheepishly.
“You normally have ramen?” Choji asked with a jealous look.
“Yeah! Beef, Chicken, Seafood, Miso, Spicy, all the flavors!” Naruto said. He didn’t think Choji would be excited over his instant ramen after the good food Choji would normally eat.
“That’s so cool! My dad stopped letting me eat ramen because he said I’d eat less dinner, but it never stopped me!”
Naruto laughed and finished his lunch. It was the fullest he’s felt in a while. The food was delicious! It wasn’t just flavour, but he could taste something beyond normal food. Lunch ended and Shikamaru was leading the way to the classroom to start the homework due that next subject.
It was a routine. Two lunchboxes, one for Choji and one for Naruto. Shikamaru lay down, cloud-watching. Naruto gained more energy for those weeks. Naruto is stupid, but he knew that he had to repay him somehow. One night, he visited Ichiraku Ramen to talk to Teuchi-san.
“Teuchi-san!” Naruto knelt on the seat.
“Naruto! A regular?” Teuchi-san smiled.
“I don’t have money today, Teuchi-san” Naruto frowned.
“Hey, I told you! You’ll pay me when you’re rich!” He smiled and turned around to make one last bowl of ramen for Naruto. Naruto watched as he cooked his bowl. Something about Ichiraku Ramen and Choji’s food tasted so different compared to his instant ramen and the fish he grills by the river.
“Teuchi-san, can you teach me how to make a lunchbox?” Naruto asked quietly. It was embarrassing to ask, he didn’t pay for ramen, what more for lunch.
“Hm? How come?” Teuchi-san placed the bowl in front of Naruto and he didn’t eat it as fast as normal.
“I wanna learn how to make a lunchbox my friend would like! Would you know how to do that… I can try to do it! I have a kettle at home! I’ll save up for it, you know!” Naruto said accidentally getting over-excited.
“Who’s this friend of yours? They sound like a great person for you to do all of that!” Teuchi-san was closing up shop, but he left a side open for Naruto to exit from.
“His name is Choji! He’s been giving me lunch during school because his mom makes a lot of leftovers. But, I haven’t done anything to repay him… that’s why I thought about making him a lunchbox! Something about his food and your ramen tastes different from every other food.”
“There’s a special ingredient that makes food taste amazing! It’s one of the most valuable things in this world.” Teuchi-san spoke beside Naruto.
“What is it? Is it mushrooms? Iruka-sensei talked about how in a weird part of the world they sell a mushroom the price of gold!” Naruto’s eyes were wide, he was excited to know what the ingredient was.
“It’s heart.” Teuchi smiled.
“Ew… I don’t think I was eating heart… I’m sure it was fish, Teuchi-san.” Naruto frowned.
“Nonono, Naruto, that’s not what I meant. When Ayame was younger, before school her lunchbox was always made with food I put my heart in. I wanted Ayame to taste the love I have for my daughter! So when I cook, I make sure that it tasted good for the tongue, tummy, and heart. I would make her favourite food sometimes, add a note, and promise to kiss her before she goes to school.”
Naruto was still confused. But, he can’t doubt the masterchef himself.
“Naruto, tomorrow, come back tomorrow night. I’ll teach you how to make a good lunchbox!”
“Are you sure, Teuchi-san?” Naruto was beaming. He has a slight blush on his face from his wide grin.
“Why would I not be! Come on, go home, you gotta sleep early for school.” Teuchi told him in his dad-voice.
Naruto left something from his pocket on the table before leaving. He waved goodbye, thanking him for the ramen. Teuchi-san looked at the table to see two coins. He smiled and put it in his pocket for safekeeping.
The next evening, Ichiraku Ramen was closed early. ‘ Teuchi-san probably forgot ’ Naruto thought, until he heard a familiar voice call him.
“Naruto-kun! Come in!” Ayame called out for him behind the metal door. Naruto perked up and ran inside to see Teuchi-san and Ayame with fresh produce on his station. Naruto was brought to the kitchen and Teuchi-san made him help in each step of the cooking process. Ayame smiled at the sight, she remembered how she loved it when she would cook with her dad. Teuchi brought out two lunchboxes and made Naruto place the food inside. It was barbecued pork, vegetables, rice, a plum, and apple slices. Naruto made a goofy looking smiley face on the rice using the plum and leftover sauce. Teuchi-san laughed and ruffled his hair.
“You’re a creative one, Naruto! Maybe you’ll be the next Ichiraku chef!”
“I can’t! Being Hokage and a Ramen Chef might be too much for one boy!”
“Not if that boy is you, Naruto!” He laughed and let Naruto go home with the lunchboxes. Before Naruto left, he asked what he owed Teuchi-san for the future when he’s rich.
“You paid for this already, Naruto.” Teuchi-san said softly
“Huh? No I didn’t!” Naruto put his arm on his waist.
“I get my ingredients myself, but I was missing twenty ryo for the extra stuff. Guess who gave me twenty ryo?” Naruto looked up at him with a smile and gave him a hug.
“I promise! Once I’m Hokage, I will pay you back, Teuchi-san! Ichiraku Ramen will be the official food of Konoha!” Naruto proclaimed with a serious face. Teuchi and Ayame smiled at each other and let Naruto go home before digging into their dinner that Naruto cooked with them.
“Choji! I made you a lunchbox!” Naruto smiled. Choji’s eyes widened and he looked over at Shikamaru.
“What will I do with my lunch now?”
Shikamaru peeked open his eye and plopped down to their lunch space.
“Naruto can bring it home, if he wants? He needs dinner that isn’t ramen for the millionth night in a row.” Shikamaru interjected while patting Naruto’s back.
“Oh I almost forgot!” Naruto kissed Choji’s cheek and opened the lunchbox to show the smiley face. Choji blushed a bit and giggled at the kind gesture.
“Tada! How’s it look?” Naruto proudly asked. Shikamaru and Choji laughed at the face. It definitely screamed Naruto made this. Choji thanked him and dug in. It was delicious!
Choji went home with a lunchbox that wasn’t his.
“Choji, where’s your lunch?” Choji’s mom asked.
“Naruto made me a lunchbox today! So I let him bring home my lunch for him to eat for dinner!” Choji said while looking for a bag of chips. Choji’s mom looked at Choza with a warm smile and let Choji eat pre-dinner snacks.
Naruto returned from his two years of training and ran into Choji and Shikamaru again after the weird incident with the crop top ninja. The three were having lunch at a restaurant that served bento boxes and Naruto remembered when he gave Choji his special lunch back in the Academy. He brought it up and Choji smiled at the fond memory.
“Naruto, I always wondered though.”
“Why’d you kiss my cheek before giving me lunch?”
“Teuchi-san said that food tastes better with heart! And he would kiss Ayame before giving she would go to school.” Naruto blushed at his innocent actions as a kid.
Naruto’s order arrived and before they could dig in, Choji gave him a kiss on the cheek and Naruto smiled at the gesture. They all started eating and Naruto finished his Miso Grilled Fish with a smile.
Chapter 12: Gaara
“Some day, I want to feel needed by someone.”
What could have happened in The Kazekage’s Return.
This will be my first of two Gaara fics! This one is more romantically inclined with some angst, but not enough to take away the caring fluff I try to make!
If you don't want to read something slightly heavy, just skip this chapter for the other Gaara fic! No harm done c:
Sometimes, there’s the emptiness one can feel after a period of burnout. Nights of aimless tossing and turning, the consideration of defeat, or in this case, acceptance of death. Death was not new to Gaara, definitely not. He confided in death as his loneliness defined him, yet he never expected to have experienced it firsthand. His torso was numb; as his Bijuu was extracted from his core, he lost consciousness and awoke to a warmth on the same spot. His dream was getting clearer, he was alone. It was so dry. The air was so thick, yet so lacking; his lungs felt like they were full of steam and smoke. He wished it was over. He hated the cracks on the ground caused by the drought in his mind. It was burning hot, but he was freezing. Until he felt warmth on his shoulders. It was getting blurry. The cracks are softening. He can’t move, but he’s moving. A dull pressure is placed on his back and his head follows his body upwards as he sees his light. Gaara, you will never be alone. His vision is clearing up and he sees Naruto on his side, holding him steady while soldiers of his village watch in relief. The yells and cheers of excitement are fogged by his focus on the person beside him, hugging him with a firm grip.
“Gaara. Please…” Naruto was shaking slightly, his hands holding his arms to keep him upright.
“Please don’t do that again. We all need you.” Naruto was mumbling against Gaara’s vest. Gaara holds Naruto’s face to keep him from ducking. Naruto, you don’t need to cry. I’m not as important as you deem me to be. Gaara pulls Naruto to eye-level and before Gaara can say his thoughts to Naruto, Naruto gives him an emotional kiss on the lips. It waschaste, but also intimate. Gaara could feel Naruto’s pulse during the kiss. Gaara was too fatigued to pull away, yet even if he could, he wouldn’t. Naruto pulled away and wiped his tears.
“Don’t die on us, please. We were all so worried.” Naruto said. Gaara’s eyes were wide. He saw Temari and Kankuro near him, making sure that the soldiers were not going to cause any more uproar. Ninjas from Konoha were also there, watching over him.
“Don’t worry, Naruto. I have more the reason to stay.” Gaara said softly and Naruto smiled.
Gaara tries to sit up, but he couldn't. His body was not cooperating with his mind, he willed his core to push himself to his feet yet he felt like he was under multiple layers of quilts.
“You’re still fatigued, don’t push yourself.” Kankuro rushed to his side. As he did, Gaara witnessed Sakura hold on to Grandma Chiyo.
“Grandma saved you, Gaara. She has an amazing ninjutsu that revived you, now she’s all tired from it.” Naruto smiled widely at Grandma Chiyo. Kankuro had a serious look on his face, he had to explain to Naruto what was going on. Gaara was watching everything happen before him. He felt helpless. He caused this. Another death under him. He willed himself to stand, he did everything he could. Naruto and Kankuro were pushing him up and he could feel some of his sand planting his feet.
“Everyone.” Gaara said sternly. The area went silent.
“Let us pay our respects to Chiyo. Let us pray for her.” Everyone lowered their heads proceeded to walk back to Suna.
“Please, we insist you stay another day. With all of your present conditions, we would hope for you to rest until your return to Konoha.” Temari said in the office of the Kazekage after having a messenger hawk sent to Lady Tsunade and Kakashi planned to send Pakkun to the village for the prior arrangement. Gaara was not in the office with them, so Temari and Kankuro were handling the present paperwork. They gave both teams 3 rooms to stay in, one for the team leaders and one for each respective team. They thanked Temari and Kankuro’s hospitality, but in reality, this wasn’t for them. This was for Gaara.
It was evening when Gaara was asleep. Naruto and Sakura finished discussing the details to Pakkun to relay to Tsunade. Gaara’s fatigue kicked in, but his thoughts were still running. Gaara’s brows started to knit in pain and his eyes opened as he gasped for air. It’s just a nightmare, he thought, but his mind reminds him that his nightmares once weren’t. Grandma Chiyo collapsing was real. The Akatsuki is real. Their extraction of Shukaku is real. The damage on the village is real. He tries to sit up until warmth on his hand tightened and he saw the mop of blonde hair on the edge of his bed. Naruto’s eyes were half lidded from sleepiness, but he didn’t dare sleep. He looked over at Gaara with tired eyes, full of concern.
“Are you okay?” Naruto asked raising his head from the crook of his elbow.
“I just had a nightmare, that’s all.” Gaara murmured. He tried to sit up, but Naruto’s grasp on his hand tried to push him back to bed.
“What happened in your dream?”
“Nothing important. It’s alright.”
“Can you sleep again after the nightmare?”
“I will try.”
“Normally, I end up not sleeping much when I do. I’ll be here though! I’ll protect you from those nightmares.”
Gaara smiled at that. Naruto was making exaggerated movements to prove his point, but he was still tired. It was cute, really. Naruto perked up seeing Gaara’s smile.
“Gaara, you should do that more.”
“Smile, you dumbass!”
“I proclaim a hate crime between Konoha and Suna. Konoha’s future Hokage called the Kazegake a dumbass.” Gaara deadpanned and Naruto barked a laugh.
Naruto reached up and put his hands on Gaara’s head. He played with his Gaara’s hair, combing through it while holding Gaara’s hand. It was an awkward position, yes, but anything to release some kind of tension from Gaara was enough for Naruto. Gaara let go, to Naruto’s dismay. Gaara weakly pulled Naruto’s shirt towards him to lay beside him.
“Naruto,” Naruto raised his head to be face-to-face with Gaara. “May I kiss you again?”
Naruto realizes his brash actions from his spur of the moment emotional state. Naruto blushes at the question. For some reason, he’s feels the nervousness he was supposed to have during the first kiss he gave Gaara. Gaara couldn’t look Naruto in the eye, but he could see the pink against Gaara’s pale skin. Naruto gently held Gaara’s cheeks.
“Of course.” They kiss again, but this time Gaara initiates it. They pull away and Gaara hugs Naruto. Gaara was able to sleep that night. Even in Suna’s scorching heat, it was a different kind of warmth that enveloped him that night.
After visiting Grandma Chiyo’s grave, they depart back to Konoha. Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro send them off and Gaara greets Naruto goodbye. Naruto was sheepish. He didn’t know what to do: a farewell to the Kazekage or a goodbye to his friend. Temari smiled at Naruto’s shift in character. The kid really grew up, huh?
“Normally people shake hands, but I’m not good at this stuff.” Naruto said blushing slightly. Gaara smiled and put out his hand for a handshake.
“It is alright, Naruto.” Naruto was slightly struck by his nerves, but the sand guided his hand to Gaara’s. It was soft. Their hands fit perfectly. Before Naruto could let go, Gaara pulled Naruto’s hand and gives him a chaste kiss. Naruto was blushing and he flashed a wide grin.
“I’ll see ya again, Gaara!” He waves as his team walks away.
“See you, Naruto.” Gaara waved and smiled.
Something in his core was different. His lungs felt clean. He felt full. He watched his friends leave and walked back with his head hanging low. He walked back to his office on the clear path of sand. There were no cracks to be seen.
Chapter 13: Gaara 2
Naruto, Temari, and Kankuro love to make Gaara blush. It's adorable. Until Naruto realizes the consequence.
After the whole war, things started to settle down. The feudal wars were somehow getting resolved, the whole issue with the Akatsuki is over, Naruto defeated a god, Kakashi-sensei is now Kakashi-sensei-hokage, and Gaara is still the Kazekage. All is good. Gaara came to visit Naruto to check on how he’s doing. Upon entering Konoha’s gates, he was greeted by familiar faces. Lee, Neji, and Tenten were at the gates waiting to escort them to where they must be. Although they are trained and skilled ninja, backup would be good for any potential threats to such an important person to Suna. Lee started to hug Gaara when he saw him and asked where he would like to go first.
“Hospital?! Gaara, are you feeling okay? Shall I carry you?” Lee rushed and readied a piggyback ride for Gaara. Gaara made an uncomfortable smile rejecting the offer.
“I am here to visit Naruto. Thank you, Lee.” Gaara patted his shoulder and they walked towards the hospital.
Once they arrived, Naruto peeked out from the window to greet Gaara. He yelled in excitement. Lee followed.
“Gaara!” Naruto hollered.
“Gaara-san!” Lee repeated.
“Gaa-” Naruto’s yell was cut off by arms briskly pulling him in. Gaara and company did not need to see the person behind the arms to know it was Sakura once they heard a loud smacking sound (most likely being a slap to the back as consequence of disturbing other patients).
They all went to Naruto’s room and left Gaara and his siblings to enjoy the visit, Team Gai waiting outside to give them more room and privacy.
“Gaara! Cool new hair! I like it, it’s long” Naruto said before Gaara could greet him hello. Gaara bit back his lips in awkwardness. What does he do after a compliment? Does he smile? Isn’t that cocky?
“Uh… Thank you, Naruto. How have you been doing? Has the arm been doing you good?” Gaara diverted the topic as quickly as he could.
“Yeah! It’s like having your own normal hand except you know deep inside, it isn’t. ” Naruto was opening and closing his fingers against his palm to show Gaara that the hand works. “So, how’s it been? I’m sure things have gotten easier since the war is over!” Naruto asked.
“Well, of course there is still the paperwork and the legal documents needed for formalizing this historical feat, but otherwise, I guess it hasn’t been as violent.” Gaara smiled. “Naruto, be ready for paperwork when you become Hokage. Being a Kazekage now, sometimes I am seated all day.” Gaara tried to tease Naruto, but before he could, Kankuro scoffed.
“Sure, believe the boy who started gardening once he got home from war!” Kankuro ruffled Gaara’s hair and Gaara tried to keep him blush from rising. I am the Kazekage, please do not embarrass me in front of my friend. , Gaara’s eyes read as Kankuro continued embarrassing him in front of his friend. Temari found it cute. His baby brother is adorable when he isn’t serious. Naruto also found it cute, but he wanted to see what the siblings had to show in front of him.
“Gaara! Why so quiet suddenly? The other day you were so happy to show us your friend!” Temari added while grinning widely and deviously. Temari, no. , Gaara’s expression screamed. Temari, yes. , Temari reacted back. “Wasn’t it named Primmy for Primrose? Or was I thinking of your rosemary plant in our kitchen that you thoughtfully crafted a beautiful pot for?” Temari really loved that Gaara is gardening and she loves all the flowers and herbs he brings, but boy, she loves making him flustered.
Gaara’s face was red. It’s just gardening but it’s embarrassing for the Ruler of the Sand Village, Head of the Allied Forces, and Prince of the Sand Gourd to also be… a cacti lover. Naruto’s face was so bright, he was genuinely amazed by Gaara’s little hobby. But Gaara calmed down and let his blush subside.
“Anyway, Naruto. What about you? Are you doing anything to occupy yourself?” Gaara asked calmly as if he wasn’t as pink and flustered as he was seconds ago. Naruto wasn’t having any of it.
“Not much since I’m stuck in the hospital, but I have a favour to ask you though…” Naruto acted while holding the nape of his neck in fake-pain.
“What is it, Naruto?” Gaara asked moving closer
“Well you see, there’s something I…” Naruto then mumbles incoherently. Naruto smirking at Kankuro and Temari’s direction. Older siblings knowing that they’re playing a game around making Gaara flustered.
“Speak up, Naruto. I cannot hear you.” Gaara moved closer and Naruto surprised him with a boop on his nose. What. Gaara thought. Naruto watched him look at his nose, cross-eyed, and clench his jaw to avoid further blood rush.
“I-uh, Naruto, what were you saying?” Gaara stammered a bit, but tried to speak with composure. Naruto pouted in teasing annoyance.
“You can’t do it, Naruto. You may have saved the world, but you can’t embarrass him like his older brother and sister! It’s just life.” Kankuro said while shrugging and Temari nodded. “Plus, Gaara would never want to ruin his image in front of you. Right, baby boy?” Temari poked fun and made Gaara sink slightly. Naruto found it cute, but he also wanted to relish in the fun. He felt defeat, but he wasn’t ready to give up.
“Gaara!” Naruto wailed. “Stop trying to be to stoic, we know you’re a softy! You’re just like Neji.” Naruto said loudly.
“I would not like to be involved in this.” Neji says through the door of Naruto’s room. Naruto laughs at that. Then, it hit him. It’s his trump card. He knows what will make Gaar break and loosen up. It’s time to release his blue-eyes white dragon in this game against and with Temari and Kankuro. Naruto faked a concession.
“Fine, I concede to the sand siblings.” Naruto lowered his head dramatically.
“Naruto, this isn’t a competiti-” Gaara was cut off by Naruto’s monologue.
“Yet, I will not lose. I will never give up.” Naruto knows he’s exaggerating, but it helps because now Gaara’s more confused. He turns to face Gaara. “I concede in the fight to make you blush and soften up the most, but only after THIS!” Naruto gave him a quick kiss on the corner of Gaara’s lip and a soft hug, smushing his cheek against Gaara’s chest. Gaara was defeated. He was pink, silent, and his sand started to shroud him. Temari and Kankuro found it adorable. He’s so precious. He’s like a kitten who was given a massage for the first time.
“G-Goodbye, Naruto. I shall cut the ties between Konoha and Suna due to your personal attack against their Kazekage. I hope your arm is well by the time you must sign the paperwork of the loss of peace between the states” Gaara softly said and pouted.
Temari and Kankuro laughed at Gaara’s childish comment. Naruto smiled and retorted back with a comeback that… wasn’t all that good. Gaara and Naruto had a good time, even amidst the embarrassment at Gaara’s expense. Temari and Kankuro had so much more to tease him with.
Once they left, Naruto lays back and thinks about the next time he’ll see them again. He remembers Gaara’s face after kissing him and the initial smile he had before the scowl was worth it enough to make Naruto look forward to his next antic.
At their rented house for the next few days, Temari and Kankuro would not let Gaara live down the adorable circumstance that happened.
“Baby softy! Don’t forget to put out your hat for the meeting tomorrow!” Temari called out while she was unpacking her stuff to the bed.
“Yeah, Gaara! You have to bring out the formalwear to cut ties with Konoha because your best friend kissed you!” Kankuro singsonged .
“I hate you both.” Gaara sat on the dining table and considered how to get his siblings back.
“We love you too, baby bud.” Temari yelled back and Gaara closed his eyes at the thought of Naruto’s kiss. If it weren’t such a pleasantly embarrassing situation, he would’ve flooded the house in sand, yet here he is, at the dining table, proudly (and still shyly) readying his little cactus friend to gift to Naruto.
After the meeting, Gaara and Lee went to Naruto’s hospital room. Gaara was trying to not blush at the thought of his gift to Naruto, but he couldn’t help it. It was pathetic… He considered scrapping the gift completely, but Lee told him that it’s a perfect gift for Naruto. He entered the room and Naruto perked up to see him again. Naruto dashed in front of him and gave him another quick kiss. Without Kankuro and Temari to ease him into the sudden rush of emotion, he couldn’t stop what came next. Naruto was accidentally covered in sand and Lee rushed to dig Naruto out. Gaara composed himself and manipulated the sand back into his gourd. Gaara helped him up and poked his nose.
“That’s what you get for surprising me.” Gaara said in a teasingly serious voice. He gave his gift and Naruto blushed at the gesture. Gaara smirked to himself and surprised him with a kiss.
“I hope you like it.” Gaara commented after pulling away. Naruto was a shocked mess. Lee was amazed at the confidence and the way he was able to shock Naruto. And that’s when Gaara understood, this is fun.