Legends Live Long, Idiots Die Young
Four years ago…
The streets were quiet, lacking the normal hustle and bustle that roamed them, and were paved in thick white. The air was frigid, the sky was a dark ominous gray but offered no rain, and smoke rose from many roof tops indicating who had a lit fire. Large flakes floated down to earth, adding on to the already quilted ground of snow. It had been a while since the last time it snowed over the village, and especially this much. Those who've been there the longest and saw the last snowfall were not that surprised to see it, but those who had not seen snow before were aw stricken. It was a Winter's day, in a cold December, when he left the very place he vowed to protect.
Said figure was walking slowly towards Konoha's gates, a bag of essentials slumped over his shoulder held by one hand, with the other shoved in his pocket. Those normally bright, warm, friendly cerulean blue eyes of his were dull, cold, and lost. The darkness under his eyes said he had not slept well, or even at all, for at least a week. The familiar spikey blonde hair shadowed his face as he watched the ground during his slow trek towards what could potentially be the last time he passed through those large gate doors. He couldn't stand being around that raven-haired bastard if it meant he'd lose the one thing he had always been fighting for.
That's right. The legendary last of the Uchiha Clan had returned, after his teammates had fought so hard to bring him back home, he had come back on his own. But he was still the stoic Sasuke they all knew from before, but perhaps a little colder than those times. He had no interest in his kunoichi teammate, but it was her that his blonde comrade was trying to bring him back for, so she would be happy. But the truth was the blonde loved the girl as much as the girl loved the Uchiha, and Sasuke knew it well. But the fear of losing said kunoichi's attention to the raven-haired snake was too much for the blonde to bare, so to save him the pain and her having to choose between them, he was leaving the village behind.
"Big brother Naruto!", called a voice of about thirteen years old, followed by the crunching of snow underneath a running pair of feet towards the blonde, who looked back over his shoulder at the sound of his name being called. "Where are you going?!", asked the great honored grandson of late Lord Third, Konohamaru Sarutobi.
"Konohamaru…", the blonde said, breathing out a sigh that turned to a cloud of steam in the frigid air, and he turned to face the genin. "What are you doing here?", came the question.
"Are you…Leaving, Naruto?", Konohamaru asked shakily, noticing the bag, and the dull cold look in the older ninja's eyes, the frown on his face. Why would Naruto leave? He never had any reason to, since he himself had promised he'd protect the village no matter the cost, even if it were his life.
"…", Naruto was silent, and his lack of immediate response confirmed Konohamaru's assumption.
"You ARE leaving! Why?!", yelled the genin, a glare of anger towards his blonde superior, but his tears betrayed his expression and flooded over his eyes down his cheeks turned red from the cold, teeth gritted.
"You wouldn't understand", came Naruto's cold answer, while he returned the glare, only his was tearless. "I can't stand to be here. Since Sasuke's been back I…", he stopped, leaving the genin curious. "I must leave. If I don't then everyone would be in danger because of me, so I'm leaving to prevent that! At least that way, I'm still protecting the village!", he said.
"But…", Konohamaru was about to protest, but the blonde had moved towards him until he was directly in front of him, and he felt the older ninja's hand rest on top of his head.
"I might come back, later down the road, but for right now…I can't stay", Naruto said softly, the look in his eyes reflecting the sound of his voice, with a slight although small smile on his face.
"You promise?", the genin looked up at the blonde with his tear filled eyes, expression saddened. But Naruto didn't answer right away, so he repeated himself. "Promise?!", he said more loudly and impatiently.
"…Promise", Naruto nodded, removing his hand from Konohamaru's hair, and turned to continue onward, but the genin grabbed him by the sleeve.
"Pinkie swear?!", the genin demanded, holding out his pinkie to make the cross that would swear the promise to be upheld regardless, or else be broken to shame.
But the blonde held out his pinkie and hooked it with the genin's, swearing the promise be true. "You can count on it", again he spoke in that soft tone, expression to match. He broke away and continued onward, leaving a sobbing Konohamaru behind.
"You better come back big brother!", he said to Naruto just as the blonde passed through the gates, sobbing like a five year old child, watching the one person he had looked up to most leave into the growing blizzard. The blonde's foot prints were slowly being covered, as if he had never really been there, and Konohamaru only imagined the whole thing. The genin stood there until Naruto disappeared into the distance and he couldn't see the blonde anymore.
The blonde didn't look back but he heard Konohamaru, and just one tear escaped down his face, and into the snow.
Four years now…
"Come on Sakura, lighten up! We're here to have fun right?", asked a platinum blonde-haired kunoichi to a cherry pink-haired kunoichi.
"Cut it out Ino! I know! It's just…Today is the mark of exactly four years since he left and-", spoke Sakura to her friend, but at the same time her rival in many things, and had been cut off.
"I know you miss him Sakura, but he left on his own, he's been marked rogue and you know it! He had no reason to leave but he did anyway!", Ino told her.
"You don't know the real story Ino-pig! He left me a note explaining why! So just drop it already!", snapped Sakura, shutting up the platinum blonde.
"Why don't we go to the bar side, let her cool off her jets. She's upset enough with what today is", Shikamaru whispered to Ino in her ear so that Sakura, who wasn't really paying attention anyway, wouldn't hear.
"Fine", Ino whispered back, and the two got up and walked away to the bar side of the restaurant, leaving a distant Sakura to fiddle with a crystal the color of her hair hanging around her neck, given to her as a gift from her favorite blonde idiot she so dearly missed. He had told her that the crystal was connected to his, so that each of them would be able to feel the other's chakra no matter the inches, feet, yards or miles between. But she has not been able to feel his chakra since that day.
"Naruto…", she thought, remembering him only by the last time she saw him. It never occurred to her till after reading the note that he was acting strange, especially when the two of them were with Sasuke. The dullness in his eyes, the coldness in his gaze and the frown, and his lack of hyperactiveness. They were all signs, signs she didn't realize until now.
No. Signs she chose to ignore, and chalk up to it being near the holidays which, Naruto never really celebrated, for reasons. She felt guilt, like it was her fault. But the blonde knew well the feelings she had for Sasuke, which was one of his reasons for wanting to bring him back, and the note made him sound like he didn't want to get in her way of that. She never really could decide who she loved though. Her childhood crush had always been Sasuke, but she began to have doubts when he ran off to Orochimaru. Naruto became her light, always standing by her side, and fighting to protect her. She couldn't decide who, until she knew he was long gone. You never know how good something is until it's as good as gone, and that was him. She loved him.
"Well Heeeelllo there beautifuullllllll!", Sakura was brought back from her thoughts at the sound of a slurred voice, and she looked up to see two men approaching her, beer bottles in hand. It was clear they were drunk.
One whistled at her, while the other winked with a smile. "So whats a fiiiiine beauty like yourself doin' here allllllll alone?", asked the first one as they sat at the otherwise empty table, save for Sakura herself.
Sakura made no answer, growing annoyed quickly, tucking her hair behind her ear while trying to ignore them, but they only got closer as they sat on either side of her.
"Awww. Whats the matter beautiful? Cat gotchur tongue?", asked the second as he put an arm around her, making her feel so humiliated.
"She's out of your league", came a third voice, sounding stronger and deeper than the two mens' own. They and Sakura jumped when a man of about 6'2" approached, arms crossed. The three scars on his face from the right side to the left showed he had to of been a ninja, or else a member of an outsider group. There was no headband to prove he was a ninja.
"So I suggest, leave her alone", the stranger spoke again, giving them a cold glare of ice. If looks could kill, these men would have been dead the first time this stranger had spoken.
The two men jumped up from their seats, but not to run. "Sssaaaayys whoooooo?", asked the first, struggling to even stand straight, while the second leaned on him. But the stranger, who was standing in front of them, was suddenly behind them in the blink of an eye, kunai in hand.
"Says a very unpredictable ninja who'll kick your ass into next week", came his growl, sending shivers down the two mens' spines as they froze with fear. A second more and they walked away quickly, running into people and objects in their drunken state, forgetting all about their flirting with Sakura.
"Well then…", shrugged the stranger with a slight chuckle. "Other than that, did I miss anything?", he asked as he turned to her with a nonchalant manner, but when he did she was right there ready to strike him with a beer bottle left behind by the other two men. He reacted quickly, and grabbed it before it could hit him, but she countered by ramming her fist into his jaw. Her medical ninjutsu training had always paid off, increasing her strength ten fold like Tsunade's, and this in the long run helped her knock the stranger down.
"God damn, I should'a seen that one coming…", she heard him grumble in his dazed state, as he rubbed his jaw that now ached. "Your strength is as it's always been, that actually hurt a little", he said, standing to his feet, his height towering hers. "I'm not surprised", he said. Something about him seemed so familiar, but she couldn't quite place her finger on it.
"Who the fuck are-", she was about to ask, but what she wasn't expecting was for Shikamaru to come in and pin the stranger against the wall with a kunai to his throat.
"Sakura!", she heard Ino scream. "Are you ok? Who is this guy? Did he hurt you? What happened?", the platinum blonde asked without giving Sakura a chance to answer each question at a time.
"Ino calm down! I'm fine! Just a little flustered is all. And no, he didn't hurt me, as a matter of fact he scared away these other two men who were flirting with me. But I wasn't about to take my chances, he could have been here to do the same, so I punched him", Sakura explained with an annoyed look, crossing her arms. Both her and Ino looked towards Shikamaru and the stranger. However, even though there was a kunai held to his throat, he was eerily calm, as if Shikamaru wasn't even a threat.
"I've not seen you around here before, but judging by your appearance I'd say you're a ninja, and no headband would mean a rogue one. We don't welcome rogue ninja here", said Shikamaru with a glare.
"Really? Then what about that Sasuke Uchiha? He was marked for rogue wasn't he? And Tsunade let him back in to the village", said the stranger with a bit of a smirk, which caught Shikamaru off guard.
"How does he…?", thought the Nara genius. "Sasuke came back on his own, and because of that he was made an exception. We only kill rogues if we have to hunt them down", he said.
"Well you didn't have to hunt me down, did you? What if I was just trying to do the same?", asked the stranger, and this shocked Sakura and Ino too, not just the Nara.
"Wait, Shikamaru", Sakura said, walking up to the two ninja, and Shikamaru stepped away as told, but still kept his guard up in case this stranger tried anything. The stranger remained against the wall as Sakura got closer to him, looking him straight in the eye. Wait, his eyes, they were blue. Cerulean blue. His hair, it was blonde and spikey, a little ragged and wild though. And there she saw them. Those trademark whiskers of his on both of his cheeks. The only thing different was the three scars he bared. It couldn't be.
"N-Naru…to…", she could hardly breathe his name. After four years, four long years of agonizing loss and guilt eating her alive, he was finally here in front of her own wide eyes. "Y-you've…", her mind was spinning. How could it be that he was suddenly here, talking to her, after being gone for so long without a single trace? She felt dizzy, faint, and sick to her stomach. She began to lose her balance and fall over.
"Whoa, Sakura!", he said. Shikamaru would of caught her, but he was there to catch her first.
"I…I don't feel so…", she said, her vision blurring and head hurting from all the spinning the room seemed to do. She fainted in his arms, and he looked up at Shikamaru and Ino, who didn't quite catch Sakura saying his name, so were still clueless as to who he was.
"We better get her to Lady Tsunade", he said, and rushed off out of the building carrying Sakura, with the two following close behind because they didn't trust him. Luckily they weren't too far from the hospital which was just down the road.
They hurried inside the medical building, greeted by nurses who took them to a room, and he rested her gently onto the open bed, then stepped aside to allow the nurses to do their job.
"I'm going to get Tsunade, you stay here and watch him", Ino said secretly to Shikamaru, then left to find the head medical ninja who was also Konoha's Hokage. Naruto only waited patiently.
It had been three hours before Sakura woke up, but she still felt dizzy still and the bright light shining directly into her eyes hurt her head. She saw two figures, silhouetted by the light, standing over her and looking down at her. One she recognized to be Tsunade.
"Are you alright, Sakura?", asked the Hokage.
"Where am I…?", Sakura asked, looking around the room.
"You're in the hospital. You fainted", spoke the second figure she saw, and when her eyes adjusted to the light she began to see clear features. It was him. He was standing there next to her bed. Her right hand felt oddly warmer than her left, and she realized when something ran over the top of it that he was holding it in his hand, and he had ran his thumb over hers.
"Is that…You? N-Naru…to?", she asked, her feeling of shock from before returning as her eyes widened again.
"It's me Sakura. I've come home".