Hey guys - getting back out there with my first story in years! So exciting and nerve-wrecking! Anyway - just wanted to give a quick disclaimer that I don't own Naruto or any of the characters.

Also - I just wanted to put it out there that I wanted to interject this story as a part of the canon Naruto Shippuden episodes - 214, 215 and 216 - obviously this is my different spin on what could have happened and how things might have led up to this
moment. If you haven't watched to this point, you can still follow what's going on - but there might be some spoilers for you!

And - I watch the japanese sub version of the anime - so writing english dialogue was really, really difficult. Because of this, I kept a few of the japanese-isms for myself :)

Lastly - The idea for this fic came to me having discovered the cover version of the song Demons, by Boyce Avenue. It was originally going to be a one-shot, but I have no self control and it quickly became eight chapters. Give the song a listen before,
after, during, or all of the above.

Hope you enjoy! Reviews are wonderful and welcome!

...

Naruto struggled to open his eyes, light flooding in, shooting pain up into his head. Through the strain, his vision began to adjust. White walls around him. The crest of the leaf village mounted up on them. A green curtain visible out of the corners
of his peripheral vision. Suddenly, he was fully awake and in a panic, realizing, he was in the hospital.

He writhed in agony, having tried to sit up and being immediately incapacitated from pain wrestling his broken body back down. The light dimmed in and out of his eyes again, threatening unconsciousness.

"Be still, please." Gaara's voice came through the haze unexpectedly, "Relax. Breathe."

Naruto shifted his gaze over to the fiery-haired teen Kazekage standing awkwardly by his bedside, arms slightly outstretched, a dust of sand and sweat across his forehead and cheeks.

"Gaara..." Naruto rasped, a dry cough following after.

"Just breathe, please. Do you want..." Gaara hesitated, flustered and searching the room for some way to help. Finding a pitcher of water on the nightstand and pouring a glass, he stepped forward. "Here."

Naruto's eyes narrowed, and a small grunt of frustration and pain slipped between his teeth.

"Gaara, I can't move my left arm. Why am I here? What happened?" Panic started to set back in. "Why can't I move my arm? Why is there-"

The coughing interrupted again, followed by a brace against pain.

"Please, be still." Gaara surged forward. "May I help you?"

Naruto gave a slight nod, trying to even out his breathing.

Very slowly, and as gently as he could, the sand shinobi slipped a hand under Naruto's neck and, tilting his head forward, touched the glass of water to the blonde ninja's mouth to let him drink. Laying his head rest back, and setting down the empty glass,
Gaara reached out of impulse to wipe away some of the water that remained wetting Naruto's lips. Pausing, he resigned himself from touch, gripping his hand into a tight fist and stepping back instead.

"I'll call the nurse for you. Lady Tsunade and the others will want to know you're awake." He turned swiftly to leave.

"Gaara..." Naruto called after him, stopping his steps in the doorframe. "What happened to me? Why am I here?"

Gaara's eyes closed tight, teeth grinding and hand gripping tight onto the doorframe.

He didn't remember.

Slowly, Gaara turned back, dread in his face. How was it that it fell to him to recount such a story? His stomach twisted and his mouth ran dry. He didn't know what to say, how to start; would Naruto even believe him?

One word was all it took.

"Sasuke..."

Naruto remembered. The memories crashing into his mind hard, fast, and relentless. Tears involuntarily welled up in his eyes, and though he tried to dry them back with closed lids, they spilled out and onto his cheeks. The pain in his body diminished,
becoming nothing in comparison.

"Sakura went to meet him, to try-"

"Gaara!" Naruto interrupted in desperation. "Please don't..."

The images flicked through his mind over and over, with increasing clarity. Heavy and tortured, Gaara crossed back over to the bedside.

"You remember now?"

Naruto slammed back, Sasuke flying in the opposite direction.

"Sakura, are you alright?" Kakashi quickly darted her from the water and the action, into cover. How foolish of her to have come there. How foolish to think she could kill Sasuke. Aside from her own fighting incompetence against his skill, how could she ever try and kill him against her own affections for him?

"Sasuke!" Naruto bellowed, "I'm not ever going to give up on you. I don't care about the promise I made to Sakura to bring you home - I want to bring you home. I want you to see that there is something greater and more powerful than hate and vengeance. Come back at me - I can do this all day, ya know!"

Kakashi was at his side, feet nimble and hovering delicate on the surface of the water.

"Naruto," he muttered from behind the mask so mysteriously and constantly covering his mouth. "We have to pull back. The odds aren't for us in this fight."

Naruto smirked, "Kakashi Sensei, fighting against the odds is when I fight my best."

"Be logical. Look at our opponents..." Kakashi urged, and looking out at them, Naruto felt the grip of reality wriggle its fingers onto his throat.

Sasuke, fueled and blazing with rage. Zetzu, his half white, half black body poking out of the ground, white clones of himself scattered over the water, ready to pounce, eager to drain away chakra. And Tobi, his masked face revealing a single eye glinting of his Sharingan, of violence, and suffering.

"Always the teacher, Kakashi Sensei..." Naruto mumbled. "Hey, Sasuke - I mean what I say. I don't go back on my word - that's my ninja way, ya know. I will bring you home."

"The leaf village isn't my home!" Sasuke spat back. "I will bring its ruin, just as it has brought ruin to the lives of the Uchiha for decades!"

"You are more than just an Uchiha!"

Sasuke's eyes widened, face contorting in fury at this rebuttal. "Just an Uchiha?!"

The black-ringed symbol for the Amaterasu blinked into red eyes. White hot pain blazed over Naruto as black, inextinguishable flames spread onto his chest and arms. He cried out and sunk to his knees, trying to rip away his jacket, desperate to quench the burn.

"Naruto!" Sakura cried, leaping forward with Kakashi, clashing kunai with white Zetzu clones.

Sasuke grit his teeth, and made his way across the water until he was standing over Naruto.

"I should have destroyed you that day, so long ago. I should have drowned out your hope and the hope of the Leaf at Final Valley."

He drew his katana, flicking it down, exploding a Chidori through the blade.

Suddenly, Naruto had grown very still, no longer fighting the torturous lick of the flames on his skin. He turned his head up, locked his eyes into Sasuke's and demanded, "Then do it already."

Sasuke's brow creased, sweat moistening the grip on his katana.

"You have said you are going to kill me too many times now for you to have meant it. You don't have this hatred, this vengeance in your heart, ya know. You have fear, and grief, and anger. All your life and talent went into a revenge that didn't even matter, that only brought you more pain. In that emptiness, you've had to find a bigger revenge to define yourself by. Sasuke, you don't have to do any of these things! You refuse to let yourself be taken back home because you'd rather stay where you can hang on to your suffering!"

"Shut up!" Sasuke roared, the flames of Amaterasu roaring with him.

Naruto grimaced and bared down for a moment, but quickly raising his head back, his eyes to meet Sasuke's again, without fear.

"You refuse the love and companionship of others because you have lost love and companionship. Shutting us out only leads to more suffering, more darkness, you know that. But, more than that, you know your anger and defiance comes from the fact that you have let some of that love in your heart, and that it chases after you, that it won't give up on you, not ever, Sasuke. If I'm wrong, strike me down here and now, just finally kill me. But if not, stop running. If I'm right, come home with us."

Tension hung thick for a moment, Sasuke breathing heavy, blood oozing out of his closed eyes, and the Chidori resending from his blade. What was mere seconds felt like years, indecision and desire grating away inside the young Uchiha. It was the moment of final choice.

Sasuke forced out a long breath. Then, eyes opening and focusing hard, he removed the flames of Amaterasu. Naruto collapsed down, his skin in tatters, singeing and steaming against the water, but with a grin spread across his mouth.

He had done it, finally.

The white Zetzu clones froze and then withdrew from Kakashi and Sakura, who were now staring in shock at what happened next. Sasuke sheathed his katana, and knelt down, scooping Naruto into his arms and over his lap, face looking up at his.

"Sasuke..." Naruto's grin spread wider and brighter across his pained and bleeding face.

A still moment hung between the two of them. Young ninja having lived through such deep isolation now held in each other's arms.

Sasuke opened and closed his mouth several times, unable to figure out the words, how to begin.

"Naruto... I'm sorry. I've been so foolish... I-"

"Don't. You don't have to…" Naruto lost words in swelling joy. "Can you really be... Are you coming home with us?"

"I'm coming home with you..." Sasuke smiled, leaned his face down, without hesitation pressed his mouth onto Naruto's, moving into him with ferocity.

All else tensed as if they'd been struck by lightning. Sakura stabbed through the heart, eyes fighting to process the reality in front of her. Kakashi squinting his eyes and gripping harder on his kunai.

For a moment, Naruto could only lay still. After all this time, was this finally, actually happening? How long has his heart cried to reach Sasuke, to have Sasuke? And now, burned a few inches from death, on top of waters that were moments ago a battleground, Sasuke held him, Sasuke kissed him.

As the seconds of stillness passed, Sasuke pressed harder in, hands sliding up Naruto's burned chest, biting into his chapped lips, forcing his tongue onto his mouth, hungry and desperate for response, for reciprocation.

And finally, after Naruto memorized the moment - the rush of relief, the feeling of Sasuke's tight, flexed muscles under and around his body, his fingers against his chest, the tickle of his hair on the forehead, the way he smelled, the way he tasted - Naruto let himself melt, giving way to the clash of his kiss, and finally, gently kissing back.

And then it happened.

Sasuke's Chidori flooded out from his fingers and through Naruto's chest.

Naruto went rigid.

He did not hear Sakura scream, nor did he see Kakashi leap forward, stopped by Tobi, laughing that he was just beginning to experience reality. He did not see the white Zetzu clones advance on Sakura as she fought in desperation to reach them. But he did feel Sasuke withdraw his lips, and he did see Sasuke's sadistic smile and wild demon eyes, and he heard Sasuke whisper with amusement into his face.

"You should have let me finish, Naruto. I said I was sorry, that I'vebeen foolish, that I'd come home with you, and I meant it. But I meant that I was sorry I hadn't killed you years ago, that I was foolish to ever let you live, to become a false symbol of hope, to not crush you and your dream as mine were crushed, and I meant that I would come home, to where the Uchiha once lived and thrived, with your dead body dragging behind me. Yes, Naruto, it can really be - you're finally meeting your long over-due end, and where it was late, at least I ensured it happened after I could cause your heart ultimate pain. Your love was never in my heart, but now my hate is in yours."

Sasuke let out a short and maniacal laugh, and then leaning down, forcing a last, aggressive and mocking kiss onto Naruto's mouth, he shouted into his face, "How's this for severing a bond?!"

The Chidori ran in one swift motion from the center of Naruto's chest, out through his left arm, and disappearing into nothing.

The rest came in flashes, the pain swallowing all other senses.

Sasuke stood, letting Naruto fall from his lap and sink into the water below. Sakura diving quickly after, pulling him from the depths, dragging him onto land, his body over her back, his detached arm in her shaking grip. A flurry of silver hair and white bodies, the clash of kunai. Blood from Sasuke's over-used eyes being flung into the water. Tobi sucking the three members of his purely wicked team away with his Transportation Jutsu, just as Kakashi broke the line of clone Zetzu.

Hot green chakra poured over Naruto, and he was on fire again. Sakura's mouth moved frantically and she worked to heal him, but he heard nothing. The medical ninjutsu flooded into him, through his chest, from shoulder into severed arm. Somehow, the pain was worse than Amaterasu itself, worse than the Chidori Lightning Blade through his flesh and bone. But somehow, even greater than that, was the pain of Naruto's decimated heart.

Gaara shifted uncomfortably as he watched Naruto bite back sobs, tears flooding down his cheeks despite the effort to stop them. He had to do something, something to ease back the pain, longing he could take it from him, that he could make things alright.

"I want to forget again. I want to forget again." Naruto pleaded in whisper.

"Naruto… I'm so sorry…"

Lady Tsunade burst through the door, a team of medical ninja closely in tow. "Gaara, you idiot, you were supposed to alert us when he woke! Get out of my way."

She quickly tossed the Kazekage to the side moving quickly to still Naruto against his protests.

"Lady Hokage," Gaara began, but cut off by a very brash,

"Away with you! Come back later if you must. I'm sure the Kazekage is needed more by The Sand than Naruto needs you getting him all worked up. Out!"

Shizune gestured for the door, apology in her eyes, "Please feel free to return later, Lord Kazekage."

Crossing through the threshold, he winced at Naruto's cry of pain at what was a new treatment of medical ninjutsu from the master herself. Longing to turn around and go back, to try and offer help and comfort, a desire even stronger overtook him as he
heard the yellow-haired shinobi - the one who would dive headfirst in to all kinds of danger, turmoil, and anguish - cried out in tortured plea for Gaara to return and help him.

Shizune clicked the door shut, pressing her body weight against it, and Gaara fled down the halls of the hospital, as fast as his feet could take him, desperate never to hear that cry from Naruto again.