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Naruto was trying to hide the smug grin on his face. He had been early to class today to see his prank unfold. He called it: Bring Down Sasuke 1.0. His plan? It involved Kiba sticking an A3 poster on the whiteboard at the front of the class. The poster read:

Like my hair? Ask an actual Uchiha about their hair care secrets.

Underneath that text was a candid photo of Sasuke that Naruto had taken off the university’s Facebook page (he couldn’t believe his luck). A few other people had been in the original photo, but Naruto cropped it just to Sasuke, who was annoyingly photogenic. Underneath the photo was ‘Take one!’ with an arrow pointing to a series of tabs with Sasuke’s student email for people to rip off. Naruto knew Sasuke’s mobile number — thanks to previous group projects they’d been assigned to — but even he wasn’t that cruel.

Naruto had been strategic about it, though. Kiba had a class in the same room the period before Naruto’s, so Naruto had him stick it up on his way out. Naruto also made sure not to be among the first few to enter the class, that way he couldn’t be identified as the culprit, or so he hoped.

More students arrived and noticed the whiteboard. A few went to get a closer look and giggled; one even ripped off a tab. Naruto’s inner self was ecstatic.

And then the moment he had been waiting for arrived: Sasuke’s entrance. 

Sasuke wore the same stoic, uninterested expression as he took his seat in the middle of the class. Several students were watching him. Some less obvious than others. They were trying to be discreet but failed terribly at it. Sasuke seemed to notice, though, and sent daggers to one of the girls staring. 

After he withdrew his laptop from his bag, Sasuke looked straight ahead at the whiteboard. A frown quickly emerged on his face as he took in the poster. He got up, walked to the whiteboard and ripped it off just as the professor, Jiraiya, walked in.

“Oh ho, what’s this?” Jiraiya asked and snatched the poster out of Sasuke’s hands. Jiraiya was not your conventional professor. He really didn’t care if he got reported for misconduct, not that he did anything terrible, but some students were easily intimidated.

“It’s just rubbish,” Sasuke said and tried to grab it back from Jiraiya. But it was too late, Jiraiya held it up high and read it.

Jiraiya looked towards Sasuke, tilting his head. “Your hair does always look healthy, though,” he said before handing the poster back to Sasuke. Sasuke’s lip twitched. He crumpled the poster in his hands and binned it before returning to his desk. He sent a death stare Naruto’s away; Naruto simply played dumb and responded with a shrug and look of confusion. 

When class ended Naruto tried to make a run for it, but Sasuke was one step ahead of him and pulled him back by his t-shirt.

“I swear, if I get so much as one email, you’re dead,” he said, his face mere inches away from Naruto’s.

Chouji overheard the threat and held his hands up in a calming manner. “It couldn’t have been Naruto, Sasuke. It was up before he entered the class,” Chouji said.

Naruto nodded rapidly in agreement. “See!”

Sasuke wasn’t so easily fooled, though. “That means nothing,” he said. He dropped his hold on Naruto and headed towards the door but stopped to look back at Naruto. “I mean it,” he said and walked out. 

Chouji grimaced. “Good luck, man,” he said to Naruto before leaving. 

Naruto wasn’t intimidated though. He and Sasuke went way back to high school days. They had fought at least once a week back then. Why? Jealousy, mostly and maybe something else… nothing Naruto would ever admit to. They had cut down on physical fights since entering university. They had been told to quit it or risk getting expelled. Neither of them wanted to sacrifice their education so they had kind of come to a truce.

But to Naruto, that had ended after Sasuke had embarrassed him in front of the whole class last week. It was in the same class with Jiraiya: Philosophy 1001. Naruto had attributed the wrong quote to Aristotle and Sasuke had to not only correct him, but also call him a dumbass. So, to Naruto, this was fair game. He was only disappointed that only one student had ripped off a tab. The professor complimenting Sasuke on his hair had been an unexpected bonus, though. Naruto would take what he could get.

When Naruto arrived to class the following day, a bunch of students were gathered around the whiteboard having a giggle. He couldn’t see past them, but a few noticed him and fled to their desks.

That’s when he saw it. A poster had been put up on the whiteboard, where Sasuke’s hair care one had been. It read:

The Wise Ass is here to answer all your questions.

Pictured was a donkey with Naruto’s head photoshopped on. Like the poster Naruto had made for this Sasuke, this one had rip off tabs. Only, the asshole had actually provided Naruto’s number and two tabs were missing already. Naruto ripped it down and glared at Sasuke. Sasuke just smirked.

Naruto knew what he had to do. Or more accurately, who he had to speak to: Sai. It was time to up the stakes.

Sai was the head editor of the university’s monthly magazine The Canary. He was a bit strange. One time he had recommended supposed penis growth enhancement drugs for Naruto. He had no idea what had prompted it but it was a memory Naruto would rather forget. Other than that he seemed okay. Naruto just hoped he would be on board with his plan.

“No. Definitely not,” Sai said.

Naruto put his hands together, pleading. “Please. You won’t regret it.”

“Naruto, I’m not putting a dating advert for Sasuke up in my magazine. For one, it would diminish the quality of our magazine. For two it would give us a bad reputation and set a bad precedent. For three, even if I was to, I’d have to have his permission. Not yours.”

“People will just think it’s part of your satirical content,” Naruto pleaded. “What if I can get Itachi Uchiha to approve of it? Would that be okay? Please, I’ll do anything.”

Sai’s ears perked up at that. “Anything?”

Naruto gulped. 

And that is how he ended up in a thick, furry blue dog costume handing out flyers just outside The Canary office. His purpose was to raise student morale and advertise the health and wellbeing workshop that the magazine had been asked to promote. It was going well so far. No one had recognised his voice or even really tried to engage in conversation with him. He didn’t know how effective this whole costumed promotion actually was.

Even with the cold temperatures, Naruto had heated up quite considerably. He was just glad it wasn’t summer, or he’d be roasting. As it was, he could really have done with some water. 

With about ten minutes left to go, Sai must have read his mind because he approached Naruto with a water bottle. Naruto quickly looked around to see if anyone was about before taking off the head of the costume for a drink. The water was definitely appreciated.

After downing half of the bottle, Naruto handed it back and was about to put the costume head on but was stopped by Sai.

“You can stop now,” Sai said.

Naruto sighed in relief. “Thank god,” he said. He went into the magazine’s office to rid himself of the thick costume. When he handed it back to Sai he asked, “So you’ll hold up your end of the bargain?”

Sai raised an eyebrow. “Of course. I’m a man of my word.”

Naruto grinned and offered his hand to shake but Sai just looked at it. 

“Well, I’ll be going then. Thanks. Bye!” Naruto said. 

What an awkward guy Sai was. Naruto thought Itachi was difficult enough to deal with, but Sai clearly took the cake. Itachi had questioned him for fifteen minutes straight but ended up agreeing because, for whatever reason, he believed Naruto was a good friend to Sasuke (and it was possible Naruto forgot to mention that it was a dating advertisement). Naruto happily played along, though he did wonder how Itachi had surmised their relationship as such. 

When the next issue was released a week later, Naruto was among the firsts to take one from their stationed stands around campus. The guy whose job it was to stack them just shook his head. But Naruto had acquired a copy. He just needed everyone else to. He opened it straight to the sponsors and advertisements, which he knew to be the section at the back, and voila. His advertisement was there! It featured a photo of Sasuke framed by a love-heart and read:

Looking for love? So is Sasuke.

If you have a 4.0 GPA, a banging body, and desire a hunk, then he could be your man.

Call now 090-324-326

Naruto cackled to himself. It was great! He couldn’t wait for everyone to see. The only downside was it wasn’t as large as he had desired— it took up about a sixth of the page, but it would still do the job. With a smug grin, he opened Snapchat and sent a snap of it to Kiba, Lee, Gaara, and Neji. 

Within a few minutes Neji had sent him a video back. Naruto opened it and frowned as he read the caption “Lol” and watched Neji flick from Sasuke’s advertisement to the middle double spread. The video hadn’t played smoothly, so he replayed it. 

He instantly regretted it.

The double spread in the middle of the magazine was of Naruto. Or more accurately, Naruto in that stupid dog costume, only without the headpiece on so his face was visible. Frantically, he opened up his copy of the magazine to the middle and there it was. Two photos, one on each page, of Naruto looking around furtively. But the worst part was the caption in large bold letters:

Ruff day? Let this dog bring pawsitivity into your life.

And it continued below in slightly smaller text— but not small enough:

He likes long walks on the beach and he kicks his leg if you rub his belly right. Free to a good home. Are you the furever family he needs? Email naruto.uzumaki@gmail.com today!

Naruto closed the magazine and let himself fall back into the grass. How was this his life? He just wanted to crawl into a hole and pretend he never existed. He should’ve known Sasuke would be a step ahead of him and that Sai would double-cross him.

The next Tuesday, after Naruto had endured a lot of dog comments and emails, Naruto saw Sasuke for the first time since the Wise Ass poster incident the previous week. He looked just as fed up as Naruto felt. Naruto could only presume that, while the dating advertisement had been little in comparison, it had been effective. A lot of people crushed on Sasuke, so Naruto imagined they probably took advantage of the opportunity. In that sense it wasn’t a complete loss. But seeing Sasuke this way did make him feel a little guilty.

When the professor, Jiraiya, walked into the classroom the room hushed. “Well, well, well,” he said and stared right at Naruto and Sasuke. “If it isn’t everyone’s favourite canine and hunk!” Naruto sunk down on his chair while Sasuke ducked his head. The classroom erupted in laughter. Naruto wondered how long the torment would last. Would this be the only thing people remembered him for? He hoped not.

Fortunately the class progressed as usual — everyone had moved on from the teasing. But halfway through the session, Naruto received an email from Sasuke. All it said was: Truce? A few moments later there was yet another email from some random about the dog advertisement. The subject read “Join the Furry Guild!” which he quickly deleted without opening. But it made him think… Yeah, a truce sounded good. The damage was already done, but if they could prevent anymore from happening in the future, well then, it was worth putting aside his pride. For now, anyway.

He had one unread email left in his inbox. It was from Itachi. Curious, Naruto opened it; he noticed Sasuke had also been included. The message contained one word. 

Fools.

Naruto looked up, there was a hint of a smile on Sasuke’s face. Naruto smiled back. And it was the perfect word to summarise the entire series of events. They’d both lost in the end. Spectacularly. Just as fools do.