–Author's note: I do not own Naruto, but any other characters and ideas are my own. Enjoy...-
Naruto's eyes flitted open, sunlight peeping through his blinds and hitting him unceremoniously in the face. He had been released from the hospital after a very brief stay there following his episode in the condom aisle of the store with Sasuke, so he had the pleasure of waking up alone in his own room. It had started to feel like he hadn't had much alone time in the last week and change. Even though that might seem unpleasant to some, the blond had rather enjoyed not being alone. It was a nice change of pace from the majority of his childhood. Whomp whomp.
He hopped out of bed and stretched his arms up over his head, yawning as he did. He glanced at the spot where his alarm clock should have been, then headed out to the kitchen. Once there, he grabbed the big can of Folgers that waited patiently for him almost every morning. He cracked it open, and slowly inhaled the sweet scent of instant ramen powder that it contained. The best part of waking up, indeed.
After downing a hot mug of ramen juice, our young friend was ready to begin his day. But first, he needed to collect his partner in crime. Sasuke Uchiha had been released from the hospital at the same time he had been, but something had seemed off about him. Yesterday they hadn't even crossed paths one time, and that felt weird. He wasn't even responding on the walkie talkie! If that didn't mean that something was wrong, then he didn't know what else could.
"Alright," he hummed to himself, stepping outside. "Time to talk it out, like broooossss!"
He pounded his fist on Sasuke's door for the third time. "Heeeyyy! I know you're in there! I can feel the angst and online shopping from here! Come on, open up!"
His acute ninja hearing kicked in, and he could hear someone shuffling inside the home towards the door. Geez, about time. The person who opened the door, however, wasn't Sasuke. Well, they looked sort of like him, but not really. It was like when you saw an acquaintance from far away and waved to them, only to discover that they were some random stranger that didn't even resemble the person you thought they were. Awkward.
"Uh, is Sasuke home?"
"I'm standing right in front of you," the person grunted in Sasuke's voice.
"Wh-What are you wearing?" the blond stammered, looking his friend up and down. He was wearing, for your information, a blue and black checkered flannel shirt, skin tight jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, a matching blue scarf, and what Naruto believed was a fedora. He had also sprouted a black beard, somehow. "Are you in disguise? Are you on a mission?" the blond whispered frantically, hoping he hadn't blown anyone's cover.
"Dude, quit being a spaz and come in," Sasuke sighed, stepping aside to allow Uzumaki entrance.
Naruto did as he was beckoned, and then followed Sasuke through the house and to the living room, where they both sat down on separate couches. "So are you gonna explain all of that," he made a waving motion to indicate Sasuke's general person, "or are we just gonna pretend you don't look like a douche?"
"Nice. Thanks, it's not like I'm having an identity crisis or anything right now. I definitely don't need any compassion or understanding."
"Ok, ok, I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. What's going on?"
"I just...I'm just having a hard time dealing with what happened at the hospital," the Uchiha mumbled, twisting his beard between his fingers.
"What the heck happened? We got you a male nurse after the lady one got a little too friendly, didn't we?"
"And then another male nurse after that one got a little too handsy too but, no, that's not it."
He scrunched up his face in thought, but nothing came to Naruto, who asked, "then what?"
An unmistakable look of embarrassment was etched onto the raven-haired boy's face, and he looked away to nothing in particular when he admitted the truth. "When we woke up in the hospital, Sakura, Ino, and Hinata all came to visit you. They were so worried about you."
"They were worried about both of us!"
"No they weren't. They were all crowded around you, didn't you notice? It used to be that everyone, or at least Sakura and Ino, would be all over my business in that kind of situation. They barely even said a word to me, though."
"Hold on. So are you jealous? Is that what this is?"
"I know, how the hell did that happen? It's like we accidentally slipped into some alternate universe or something."
This didn't make sense! "But you've never cared about what any of the people in that room thought before! Why do you all of a sudden give a crap who they visit?"
"I don't know..."
"And then you still had the nurses fawning all over you, anyway!"
"That's different," Sasuke stated firmly.
"Explain it to me, then. How is it different?"
"The nurses didn't even know me. I mean, sure, they knew who I was, but they didn't really know me personally. They only acted that way because it's their job. That, and I'm extremely handsome."
"Don't forget humble."
The Uchiha nodded his agreement, "that too. People always treat me differently because of my looks."
'Oh, cry me a river!' Naruto had to stop himself from flying across the room and headbutting his friend.
"Remember all of the random girls who kept coming onto me while we were doing stuff? That always happens, even with people I've never even met. It's nothing. It's empty. It's just attraction without substance. But the girls do know us. They know me. And, somehow, I've gone from being the undisputed object of their affection, to someone they don't even worry about when he's in the hospital."
"Aw, don't say that. They do care!"
"Not like they used to."
"Well, why do you care? I still don't get it."
"Ugh," Sasuke exhaled a throaty grunt. "Because they lost interest in me because they got closer to me then most other people get to. It isn't my looks that drove them away. It was me. I don't get it. That's why I'm upset."
"Well, duh, of course you turned them away. You're a premature ejerkulator, dude. I could have told you that."
Eyebrows raised in concern, Sasuke asked, "what's a premature ejerkulator?"
"Don't worry, I'll teach you," Naruto fist-pumped to show his willingness to educate. "Do you have a dry erase board?"
"Please," the Uchiha scoffed. "I'm a ninja. I have three."
A few minutes later, Naruto was standing in front of a dry erase board, marker in hand. Sasuke returned to his spot on the couch, notepad and pencil ready to go. The blond went to work, first writing professor Uzumaki at the top of the board. He, at first, had two 'F's in professor, but smudged one of them out with his thumb after thinking for a second. Now was the time! Time for him to show the world the burning star of his YOUTH! ...No, of his intellect. That's what he wanted to show. Dammit, Lee.
He drew up what looked like a thermometer. It was a circle at the bottom, and rose up in a cylinder which tapered off into a rounded out tip. He added lines and percentages to them, more for filler than a scientific need for them. He then drew a stick figure lady with long hair and a skirt, and then another bearded stick figure with a hat, who Sasuke guessed was himself. He was soon proven correct.
"Alright, if you take a look at this little picture here, you'll see that this is you approaching and engaging in a social situation with a lady. Looks like it's going pretty good so far, doesn't it?"
Sasuke looked at the two stick figures, and noted the smiley faces on both of them.
"Right, it's going awesome," Naruto continued. "Social interaction is very important for humans. We're social creatures by nature, and we get depressed if we spend too much time alone. But what a lot of people won't tell you is that we all have a built in desire to be jerks, too. It's usually way easier to be a jerk than it is to be a nice person, and most people are inclined to do things the easy way. I'm sure you can agree that, sometimes, being a jerk can feel really, really good, too."
"I do enjoy it, yes," the student answered in the affirmative, writing in his notepad.
"We all know you do, buddy. But that's sort of the problem. You see, when we engage in social interactions with another person, our jerk levels," he pointed to the thermometer, "immediately start to rise. The longer you engage in social interactions with a person, the more likely you are to reach your jerk limit and explode, or ejerkulate, all over them. To illustrate my point, let's assume that the girl in the picture," Naruto adds buns to the girl stick figure's head, "is Tenten. You walk up to her and you both say hello. Now, Tenten wants to tell you about the neat new trick she taught to her pet. What do you say?"
Oh, geez, roleplaying. Sasuke hated in class participation. "I tell her that I don't care about her stupid pet."
"See?" Naruto filled up the thermometer, and had it explode out of the end and rain drops of marker all over the girl stick figure, who he gave a sad face. "You've barely even gotten past 'hello' before you ejerkulated all over her face. Social stimulation is important for ladies, Sasuke. The goal is to interact as long as possible before ejerkulation, thereby increasing the lady's overall social stimulation and, by extension, her affection towards you. She'll never be satisfied if you succumb to immediate self-gratification and ejerkulate way too soon."
"Well how do I stop from prematurely ejerkulating all over the place? I just said the first thing I felt!"
Through a smirk, Naruto started writing down more stuff on the dry erase board. "Don't worry, I wouldn't just tell you the problem without offering a solution. That's what butt holes do. There are lots of ways that you can increase your social stamina and add time and strength to your social interactions. One of them, and it's an obvious one, is practice. If we go back here to the thermometer, you'll see that I put some numbers on it." He took a moment to clean up the exploded thermometer and reset it to its default self. "If you think of one hundred percent as reaching the climax of your social interaction, ejerkulation, then you can think of about eighty percent as being that point where you're tired of the person you're interacting with, and starting to get pissed off. You need to know that this point is when you should scale back the interaction, and begin your retreat. Once you get back down to a lower percentage, you're ready to reinitiate the social situation. Repeatedly doing this is a good way to increase social stamina because it helps you learn to control your urges. This ensures that your partner reaches the utmost level of satisfaction that you are able to provide."
It was with no small amount of awe that Sasuke declared, "you're surprisingly smart, Naruto."
"That's professor Uzumaki, Mr. Uchiha."
"Don't push your luck. Alright, so then if I'm going to really get anywhere, I should go and practice. I can't be a premature ejerkulator forever."
"That's the ticket," Naruto chuckled, pleased to see his friend's spirit rising. "We can go and find some people for you to practice with right now!"
That was when Sasuke held up a hand to stop his overeager instructor. "Actually, I think this is something I need to work on, myself. I know you've got a lot on your plate, too. I think this is a good time for us to tackle our own problems before the Hyuga Ball. It's in how many days?"
"Four," Naruto nodded somberly. It was true, he had a lot of stuff going on, and Sasuke's ejerkulate was not high on his list of priorities. Sakura, Ino, Hinata, even Anko. They all were more important, and demanded his immediate attention given the small amount of time he was left with. "You gonna be able to handle it without me?"
"Been handling my business no problem without you for most of my life," Sasuke smirked in response. "It just wasn't as fun." He paused a moment before asking, "what are you going to do first?"
"I haven't decided," was the succinct reply he gave. No move seemed like the right one, and a part of him was even wondering if he should do anything at all. The Hyuga Ball was going to arrive regardless of whether or not he mucked around trying to figure out things that may not even have concrete answers. "I think I'll go home for now, and come up with a game plan there."
"Sounds good, sounds good."
"Oh, and before I forget. I get the whole being depressed about feeling excluded thing, but why did you grow a beard and dress like a turd?"
"How am I gonna grow a beard like this in one day?" Sasuke asked incredulously, unstrapping the giant fake beard and tossing it over his shoulder. "And what else was I going to dress like? I was depressed. Emo is already my go to move, I had to do something."
"Just please don't do it again," Naruto asked sincerely, exiting the house.
"I make no promises," Sasuke replied, closing the door behind his friend.
On the way back to his house, something unplanned happened. Which was basically the story of his life by this point. He was having a hard time remembering when he was last able to string together multiple successes. This unplanned event was a girl with pink hair, as it turned out, and she ran up to him with a big grin on her face. It looked like he wasn't going to get to make a game plan, this time. He'd just have to roll with it.
"Naruto," she called to him, eliciting a wave from the blond. "How are you feeling?" she asked once beside him.
"Right as rain!" he cheered loudly in an attempt to convince her of his overwhelming health.
"That's great! I wanted to come and see you yesterday, but I thought maybe it would be better if I left you alone. I know I don't like it when people are all over me when I'm not feeling good."
"Haha, I guess I'm the opposite. It's too bad, no one was there to feed me ramen and I had to do it all by myself," he feigned sadness.
"That has to be the least romantic food someone can feed you. You'd be slurping juices all over the place."
"Oh, come on! You can cut the noodles up into little bits or something. I know normally that would be taboo, but desperate times call for desperate measures!"
"So... Did anyone else stop by to see you?"
That was a weird question. A look at the girl beside him and her hastily averted eyes told him that she was asking for some reason that she wouldn't outright say. What that reason was he could only speculate, but if he had to guess it was because she wanted to know if Ino or Hinata had visited, specifically. Sakura really was interested. His face flushed red when he recalled the kiss they shared in her room.
"N-No, no one came to see me," he answered truthfully.
"Then... I know it's late because you're better, and you can say no if you want, but... Would it be ok if I came over? I could make us lunch."
His chest got tight and his palms got sweaty. Her face was so cute it made him uncomfortable to even think about it, let alone see it like that! She was blushing, glancing at him and then looking away just as quickly. Thank goodness they hadn't stopped walking or else he would be forced to stand there and absorb the brunt of her level nine cute storm. What should he say? It felt like there was really only one option. "Y-Yeah, that sounds good."
She smiled brightly. It was so bright it almost burned out his retinas. "Ok! I'll even make ramen. I mean, there'll be more to go with it because we're not animals, but there'll be ramen."
His heart and stomach swelled in anticipation, and before he knew it they had arrived at his home. But something felt weird. Like too many things had gone right too quickly. In the recent past, his experiences with situations like this had taught him that if something seemed too good to be true, there was a distinct likelihood that something bad was about to happen. Try as he might, he couldn't completely shake the feeling of impending doom. He reached for his doorknob, a beaming Sakura beside him. He didn't even notice the grit and grind, traces of sand, beneath his feet.
The door swung open, and there was Temari, wearing one of Naruto's shirts and sitting on his couch. Gaara of the Sand was leaning against the far wall, and he opened a single eye in response to the home's owner returning. Temari hopped off of the couch and practically skipped over to a speechless Naruto, who remained frozen in place.
"There you are, Naruto," she spoke pleasantly, much unlike he was used to her speaking. Sakura, too, was rooted to the ground, her eyes wide as saucers. "I was wondering when you'd come back home," she cooed, draping her arms over his shoulders and pressing her forehead against his own.
'Ah, there it is,' he thought, the feeling of doom intensifying as the black and purple aura of Sakura's fury spilled over and threatened to consume him whole. He wondered if he could be reborn as a fox in his next life. That sounded nice.
–Author's other note: For a long time, now, not giving this story an ending has troubled me. I wouldn't think of it often, but every once in awhile I would remember it, and feel bad. Before I knew it, years had gone by and I had all but stopped writing as other things began to dominate my life. I had ideas and plans to write, I just never did. But, I recently moved nearly a thousand miles away from home, friends, and family, and my life has changed fairly drastically. That surge of change made me yearn for some nostalgia, and my change in circumstances has allowed me a new chance to go and finish that which has bothered me. So here we are.
It's my hope that this story might bring a few smiles to those who read it, whether you be a reader from years ago or someone who discovers it brand new (even though a lot of the pop culture references are no longer relevant). That all said, thanks for reading...-