What's the Harm in Trying?
He watched how the pink haired girl in their class, Haruno Sakura, made her way over to Sasuke, holding a very bright pink cupcake in her hand. There was so much deep red frosting on top of it that even his teeth ached at the sight of it and dad often joked he'd inherited his sweet tooth from his mum.
Even without continuing to look, he knew how this would end. It ended the same way every year since they had turned thirteen after all.
Sasuke had just finished his lunch and was about to leave with his tray when Sakura halted in front of him. Immediately a hush fell over the tables closest to them and everyone's gaze landed on the two, a lot of them eager to find out how this particular conversation would play out this time.
"Sasuke-kun, I've got a present for you," Sakura said, heavily blushing, and held out the cupcake. Her hands were visibly trembling and she bit down on her lower lip. "My Presentation Gift for you."
Sasuke stared at the sweet confection, his face utterly blank, before walking straight past her and shaking his head. "Not interested." He dumped his tray on the trolley and left the room without looking back once.
Meanwhile Sakura's face was a bright red and her lower lip started trembling before she whirled around and stormed out of the room too; her best friend, Yamanaka Ino, following her worriedly with their bags clutched in her hands.
As soon as they were gone, the lunch room erupted in loud whispers and giggles; girls delighting in the fact that Sakura had once again been rejected. Naruto would feel sorry for her, but after already having been rejected three times before, why had she thought this year would be any different? Sasuke simply wasn't interested in her, but she stubbornly refused to accept that, apparently.
Gaara sitting down next to him had him turning his gaze away from the entrance. "She got rejected again?" he asked monotonously.
"That makes it the fourth year in the row, huh?" Gaara looked disinterested for a moment before his green eyes sharpened when they landed on Naruto. "Are you going to try this year?"
Shrinking slightly in his chair, Naruto looked away, feeling his cheeks heat up slightly. "Why on earth would I do that?"
"Oh, I don't know – maybe because you've been nursing a crush on him for more than two years now?" Gaara remarked dryly.
"Shut up! Do you want everyone to hear you?" Naruto hissed embarrassed, scowling at his best friend.
The red haired boy just gazed back expectantly.
"I don't know why I should bother," Naruto admitted after a long pause, staring down at the table. "I don't want to get rejected like everyone else."
It was Presentation Week; a time when people interested in Alpha could offer them gifts they thought would appeal to the Alpha the most. If they were lucky, the Alpha would accept their gift. Some Alpha proved to be a lot more popular than others, as was the case of Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Neji, and Omega boys and girls were almost tripping over each other in order to be the one whose gift was accepted.
Four years after they had all Presented, however, neither boy had accepted any gift and people were getting more desperate with attracting their attention.
"You won't know if you don't try," Gaara said.
While that might be true, Naruto was also of the firm opinion that there was no fun to be had in being rejected just like everyone else.
"I thought I would find you here."
Naruto turned away surprised from the flowerpot, spotting his grandmother in the doorway. "Baa-chan! I didn't know you were visiting today!" He rose up and hastily pulled off his gloves, placing them on the shelf.
"My last two patients cancelled their appointments, so I thought I could use the extra time to visit you again," Tsunade smiled and her brown eyes slid from him to the small plant on the table. "That plant looks like it's growing well. What is it again?"
"A tomato plant," he answered and rubbed the bridge of his nose, glancing away when her all too knowing gaze tried to meet his eyes.
"A tomato plant, hm? I didn't know you had become a fan of tomatoes."
"Well, you have to eat healthy and all that," he said half-heartedly, but he knew there was no point in beating around the bush.
Not around her anyway, not when she knew him so well.
"Of course, it's because of a healthy lifestyle and definitely not because a certain Alpha likes tomatoes," she commented and the sarcasm in her voice wasn't even subtle.
He huffed, his cheeks stinging with heat for the second time that day. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Brat, please. His mother is one of my patients and like most mothers she has the tendency to chatter about her sons," she said dryly and crossed her arms underneath her rather large bosom. "I doubt there are a lot of people whose favourite food is tomatoes, so quit the bullshit."
Shoulders slumping, he turned back to the plant he'd been nurturing for a few months now and grimaced. "So what? It's not like it matters."
"I would think it matters a lot if you're intending on giving that to him as your Presentation Gift," she said calmly.
"Not you too," he groaned dismayed. "I'm not planning on giving it to him."
"Why not? It's not like you don't know him at all."
"That isn't … I just – don't think he'll be interested. In me," he muttered, taking a leaf between his fingers but not really looking at it.
"Why wouldn't he be? You're kind of friends, aren't you?" she questioned curiously. "At least from what his mother has mentioned, you two are rather close."
He only shrugged, uncertain whether they could really be considered that close. Yes, they sometimes hung out, studied together at times even, and he definitely knew a lot more about Sasuke than his supposed fangirls did, but …
He wasn't going to presume that that meant Sasuke actually felt something for him.
Tsunade uttered a soft sigh and sank down on one of the lawn chairs. "What's keeping you from going up to him and offering him your gift? Why are you so convinced that he won't accept it?"
"Because it's not like we had such a great first meeting," he mumbled, having a hard time keeping the bitterness out of his voice.
"Naruto, nothing about that time was your fault," she spoke sharply. "Those punks were goddamn arseholes who had no right to try to pull that shit!"
He swallowed, hating how his mind immediately flashed back to that moment even though it had already been four years ago. He had just Presented as an Omega when some guys from a year higher had dragged him behind the gym and had tried to pull off his clothes, taunting him about how they were going to teach him his place in society now.
He had fought back as hard and as violently as he could, but five against one – that had been an impossible task.
They had just managed to pull down his jeans to his knees when Sasuke had suddenly appeared, alerted by Naruto's shouting, and he'd basically kicked the living shit out of those guys. Even at just thirteen years old, Sasuke had been a force to be reckoned with and after seeing three of their comrades knocked out cold on the ground, the other two had fled in a panic.
Sasuke had stayed with the shocked Omega until both the police, an ambulance and their parents had shown up. The group of five had been kicked out of school indefinitely and were currently serving time in a juvenile detention centre for attempted sexual assault and abuse against an Omega, which carried a heavy penalty.
He and Sasuke had started hanging out after that, after the other boy had paid him some visits in concern, and while Naruto liked that he and Sasuke had got closer throughout the years, he hated that they had only started spending time together after he'd been nearly attacked.
"I just hate that he might think I'm nothing but a weak Omega," he admitted reluctantly.
"Naruto, I might not know Uchiha personally, but I very much doubt he thinks you're weak," Tsunade said firmly. "Don't let your insecurities stop you from going after what you want. You're only going to regret it in the future if you don't give him your gift. There's no harm in trying."
She hugged him before leaving the shed, going back inside to continue her talk with mum and dad. Naruto remained, staring at the plant, trying to decide whether putting himself out there was really worth the risk of being rejected by one of the few friends he had.
"You're going to do it?" Gaara's eyes fell on the inconspicuous black bag Naruto had clenched in his right hand.
He had hidden the bag in his locker the entire day and had only just gathered the courage to actually take it out. He knew Sasuke was waiting at the front for his older brother to arrive in order to pick him up. Itachi was always punctual so if he wanted to present his gift to Sasuke, he only had ten minutes left to do so.
It was just … The thought of actually going up to Sasuke and offer him his gift, remembering all the girls and boys who had been rejected by the Alpha before – it paralysed him, had his legs frozen and his feet stuck to the floor.
He and Sasuke were good friends – was he really going to fuck that up by admitting that he liked him as more than a friend? That seemed so stupid.
"You know, just standing here won't do much," Gaara remarked and the locker being slammed close had Naruto jumping in fright and glaring at his friend.
"I know, it's just – I'm going to fuck up our friendship and for what? Because I was stupid to start crushing on him?" he blabbed, panic steadily rising, making it harder to keep his voice down. There were still a lot of students mingling around in the corridors and some of them were eyeing his bag curiously.
They probably wanted to know who the Alpha was he wanted to confess to.
"You're not stupid for crushing on him," Gaara said patiently and took his arm, pulling at him gently but insistently until his feet started to move one at a time. "And if he considers your friendship ruined because of this, then that's on him. Just go up to him and give him your gift. If he's an arsehole about it, I'll set him straight."
Naruto laughed nervously, because he knew all too well that Gaara would follow through on his promise, whether that meant a severe punishment of not. A surge of affection coursed through him for his best friend for being so willing to defend him, but then they reached the front of the school, and affection made way for mounting horror instead.
There Sasuke stood, casually leaning against one of the pillars, his bag next to his legs and his arms crossed, ignoring the girls who passed him giggling.
Even though his posture was relaxed, he still appeared very intimidating all of a sudden and Naruto could only stand there frozen until Sasuke turned his head, spotted him and smiled at him.
"Go on," Gaara whispered and actually pushed his back slightly.
"God, I hate you," Naruto whispered underneath his breath back and took shaky steps forwards until he halted in front of Sasuke.
The dark haired boy tilted his head to the left slightly, eyeing him curiously. "Hey, you're still on for tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow?" Naruto looked at him blankly for a moment before he remembered again. "Oh yeah, the movie night at your place! Yeah, yeah, I'm still on for that."
"Good, with you being there, I might actually have a chance at not having to watch Itachi's selection again," Sasuke smirked.
Naruto smiled back, but he knew it was wavery when dark eyes narrowed slightly. Crap, he had almost completely forgotten that he had agreed to attend the movies night with Sasuke's family tomorrow evening! He had attended the movies night before a couple of times and it was always fun, Mikoto going out with preparing all sorts of snacks and drinks.
In all his worrying about his Presentation Gift, he'd completely forgotten that the movies night was tomorrow.
"Naruto, you okay?" Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows.
"Erm, yeah, I am, I'm fine, I mean," Naruto stammered and could hit himself when Sasuke's frown only deepened. "Here!" he blurted out and thrusted out his bag before he could think twice.
Sasuke's face was completely neutral when he looked at the bag. "What is it?"
"My – my Presentation Gift for you," Naruto barely managed to croak out; nerves squeezing his throat shut.
"I didn't know you liked me," Sasuke said and his voice was just as blank as his face, revealing nothing of his thoughts.
That did absolutely nothing to calm down Naruto's nerves and he licked his lips, his stomach performing several twists, when he admitted hesitatingly, "F-for two y-years now."
Sasuke's fingers briefly touched his when he accepted the bag, the touch both hot and electrifying at the same time and Naruto just knew his face was turning fire red, especially when more and more people around them gathered, their whispers grating at his ears and their stares piercing through his skull.
They were all waiting for the inevitable rejection, he knew, because that was what happened each time when Sasuke was presented with a gift. And now Naruto was offering him his gift, admitting that he liked him romantically, and he was completely and utterly screwed, had fucked up their friendship beyond repair, because he just had to be stupid and develop a crush on the most popular guy in their school and why hadn't Gaara stopped him?!
"You got me a tomato plant," Sasuke spoke surprised when he opened the bag. "Where did you get this?"
"I, erm, I grew it. I mean, I bought the seeds a few months ago but I grew it. In the shed in our garden," Naruto answered and cleared his throat; his entire face stinging with heat.
"I've never got a tomato plant before," Sasuke said and he sounded astonished, still staring at the plant in the bag.
"I'm – I'm sorry, it's a stupid gift, I know," Naruto said embarrassed and moved to take the bag back. "Let's just forget about this, okay? Just pretend I didn't - "
"Why would I do that?" Sasuke said to his surprised and instead of handing the bag back like he had done with so many presents before, he kept a hold on it.
His action hadn't gone unnoticed, because all around them mouths dropped and eyes widened in shock; their whispers turning urgent.
"What – what does this mean?" Naruto asked, not daring to hope, but his treacherous heart nevertheless started beating quicker when Sasuke smiled.
"What does it mean when an Alpha accepts a gift?" he asked rhetorically and held out his hand to the blond, ignoring some of the girls who actually started crying now.
"What do you say of making movies night something private between us two?" Sasuke suggested, his eyes glittering.
"I would definitely like that!" Naruto rushed to agree and grabbed Sasuke's hand, smiling giddily when the Alpha squeezed his hand gently.
He supposed his best friend and his grandma had been right after all: there had been no harm in trying, because as it turned out, his crush hadn't been that hopeless at all.
Far from it even.
And movies night was definitely a lot more fun with just the two of them, Naruto quickly found out.