"ANBU exit the room, it will be sealed for the night. Do not enter unless it is an emergency." Tsunade ordered and her honor guard obeyed, leaving her alone with Kakashi, as she activated the privacy seals then going into a desk drawer and pulling out two bottles of sake, handing one to Kakashi.
"It'll either help or give the illusion of helping and sometimes that's enough" she said, more tenderly than the blonde had spoken to Kakashi ever.
"I just don't understand and I guess I never will." Kakashi said. When Tsunade informed him that the, then, unknown Uchiha was responsible for Minato's and Kushina's death he took grim pleasure in knowing Naruto had dispatched the vile man. That feeling lasted as long as it took to remove his mask and Kakashi could feel nothing. He wanted it to be a lie, even used his sharingan to dispel the illusion but it was all true. The person he had lived in tribute to, had mourned and constantly felt he failed had been alive and killed his sensei and older sister figure. He caused so many so much pain, pain which Naruto was forced to pay for. Kakashi felt broken and lost as Tsunade guided him back to her office.
"Who knows what could have happened between the time you thought he died and now, my advice is to not consider that man your Obito. Your Obito died a hero, that man was some twisted creature that shares his face. Nothing more, nothing less." she said as she started to read over the letter accompanying a video on her desk and could only sigh in annoyance.
"Well, this isn't going to make your night any better but you need to see this" Tsunade said as she set up the video to play. Both veteran shinobi watched Naruto talk to Sasuke from Sasuke's cell and were disappointed by much of it but especially when Sasuke revealed Sakura had offered to go with him."
"Stupid, stupid girl." Tsunade muttered.
"So, what should we do?"
"What can we do? She didn't leave with him so while I'm beyond disappointed she'd give all that up for some boy she didn't break any laws. She will be barred from seeing the Uchiha, though. I won't take the risk."
"I agree. May-" Kakashi started but was interrupted by the appearance of a messenger toad.
"Hello, Tsunade-sama. Jiraiya-sama wanted to inform you that Naruto and he have left the village and he doesn't know when they'll return. It shouldn't be too long, however." The little toad said before it returned to its realm, leaving an irate Tsunade and a miffed Kakashi.
"How dare that idiot think he can just leave with Naruto without getting my approval."
"I wonder why Naruto would go in the first place."
"Knowing Jiraiya he laid on some guilt trip about needing Naruto's help. If he gets that boy in trouble I'm going to seriously punch him. None of those cute love taps I normally give him." She said and Kakashi could tell she wasn't joking and thought hitting a grown man hard enough for temporary flight counted as a love tap. He really wanted to flee that office.
The following morning had not treated Sakura well. She was deeply conflicted by Sasuke's actions to the point she hadn't slept well, not that Ino's couch was all that comfortable. So, agitated, she hoped to get some measure of resolution from the Uchiha but was denied access. Quickly, losing her temper, she was going to punch the ANBU on standby, consequences be damned until she was told to support to Lady Tsunade. Her day had only gotten worse from there. Given her decade plus absence from the village, people may assume Tsunade has a soft definition of loyalty. That. Is. Not. The. Case.
An epic ass reaming is the only way to describe what Tsunade did to Sakura. For an hour the women tore into her apprentice and her obsession with the Uchiha. Sakura was berated for even considering abandoning the village for "some limp dick boy that can't pee standing up yet". Sakura, at first, took the dressing down as some part of her realized she had been prevented from defecting from a defector but her acceptance of her own culpability grew thin and soon she fought back. Levying accusation, calling Tsunade a hypocrite and defended the thought of leaving the village to protect the one she loved instead of drinking her sorrows away. Sakura knew she had crossed a line after the words left her mouth. She tried to apologize but was immediately told to shut up.
Tsunade then pointed out that only after a lifetime of service in which Sakura has watched the entirety of her family die and she still made revolutionary changes to the village or a branch of the shinobi arts did Sakura have the right to judge her. Certainly not in defence of some petty obsession with an emotionally withholding boy. Tsunade then stated that while she understood being tempted to do the wrong thing for a good reason, Sakura may have alienated what was left of her team as they know she was willing to leave but can never know what she was truly intending to do.
"Were you really going to give up your family and your life for him?" Tsunade asked.
"I don't know, I didn't know how else to stop him. I thought if I stayed with him long enough I could convince him to come back or keep him from falling too far into the darkness."
"I said bullshit. If that were the case then you would have gone along on the retrieval mission; you wouldn't have put the burden on bringing Sasuke back on Naruto's shoulders alone. One knockout blow is all it took for you to give up on trying?"
"It was an impulse decision; desperate in every way. I don't know what you want me to say, I thought I loved Sasuke and I didn't see another way to help him."
"Would you free him if you knew he was going to be executed?"
"I-I don't know."
"That's incredibly sad." Tsunade said.
Kakashi had not had a pleasant night. Large amounts of alcohol and earth shattering revelations will do that, he concluded. But like most nights turned sour by the devil's drink, the morning hadn't started out that great anyway. Kakashi knew there were any number of things he could do to handle Obito's fall from grace. Talk to a professional? Go drink some more? Get lost on the road of life, especially if the path is well maintained (and how no one has figured out Kakashi means he was sexing some dame yet confounds him). But Kakashi has deepened his appreciate of outright juvenile pettiness so instead he chose to visit his latest failure.
"You look well, Sasuke-kun." Kakashi said without looking up from his book.
"Well, you look like shit."
"Yea, well I was fucking your mom. She didn't actually die, she just hated you. Loves the "D" though."
"FUCK YOU!" Sasuke shouted, struggling against his restraints, eyes wide and filled with hate.
"No, I fuck her, you sit in a cell. For a genius, you're stupid." Kakashi said with an eye smile.
"Kakashi, shut the hell up before-"
"Before what? Restrained, chakra suppressed and staying in a drab jail cell. What are you going to do? What can you do? You couldn't even manage to kill one man."
"Because you got in the way." retorted Sasuke.
"Mah, mah, Sasuke-kun. You've had three years and you still haven't confronted him. At this point, we really should just assign Naruto a team and have him handle it."
"When I get out of here I'll enjoy killing Naruto and you before I kill Itachi." Sasuke said, seething. The enraged Uchiha wanted nothing more than to show Kakashi the penalty for his disrespect.
Kakashi let out a snort, amused by Sasuke's declaration. "If by some miracle you escape punishment you really should run, Sasuke. Cling to your pathetic existence. Maybe you'll find Itachi and he'll take pity on you. Setting your sights on me is just looking for disappointment and for someone who doesn't handle their own inadequacies well, fighting Naruto would just mentally crush you."
"So, you say but adding a bit of muscle and a growth spurt won't save the dobe. I'll end him with a chidori, just like I should have done when I first escaped. I will get out of here. I will find him and I will kill Naruto Uzumaki for impeding me."
"What was that, Sasuke? Did you say something?" Kakashi said and had to fight back the smile threatening to adorn his face. Seeing Sasuke become even more enraged, Kakashi considers his mission complete and leaves without speaking again wondering if he could find Gai since it was a good day for training.
In Ame, Zetsu had just informed Pein that "Madara" was most likely dead given the evidence at the location of his ambush. Zetsu pointed toward the significant amount of blood that was confirmed to be "Madara's" as well as organ tissue and bone fragments, implying impalement. After his report, Zetsu left allowing Pein to speak with Konan about this shocking discovery. After accepting that Madara was, in all likelihood, dead the pair started to consider their choices now that they were free from the legendary Uchiha.
"Do we really need the bijuu anymore, Nagato? That was Madara's plan. Maybe we should come up with another." said Konan.
"I agree, if nothing else sealing every bijuu with our current numbers is untenable but before we do anything we need to find Orochimaru. I find it hard to believe he killed Madara at all, let alone by himself. I'll inform Kakuzu to start collecting more bounties and we'll have to figure something out for Itachi and Kisame but these developments are most vexing."
"Indeed. I'll inform Zetsu to begin another search for Orochimaru."
"Good, I need time to think."
Orochimaru was currently recovering at one of his many bases. The wayward Sannin was taking stock of all he had lost during his confrontation with the masked Uchiha. Not only was his body deteriorating faster due to the battle but the damned Uchiha had teleported Kabuto some place and the Sannin had no idea how to get find his second in command. While never becoming attached to any of his subordinates, Orochimaru wasn't Danzo and realized Kabuto's value, he would be difficult to replace. Orochimaru could not further his laments from his bed as his medic, Karin, had just brought him what he asked for. Orochimaru couldn't even work up the rage at being denied Sasuke's body for a second time, to tired and defeated to do so. While Time was on his side, he had no doubt that Sasuke would be well guarded in Konoha and possibly executed, if he wasn't already.
It was all around frustrating but he couldn't dwell on his ambitions. He needed a new body and he needed to go to ground. The Akatsuki was clearly intent on making moves against him and he couldn't afford to rely on Naruto interfering again. The progress of the jinchuuriki amazed him and once he got free of the Akatsuki he resolved to look into the Uzumaki a little further. Now, however, he had a body to possess and them fighting it is his favorite part.
A month has passed since Jiraiya and Naruto left for Nadeshiko and Naruto is relieved to be back home. Mostly to get away from Jiraiya. Once Naruto realized what Jiraiya needed help with, he was angry at the overgrown manchild but also disappointed in Jiraiya for manipulating him. He had been attempting it the entire trip, trying to reassert his status as Naruto's master and showing how little regard he held for his former student. However, a mission is a mission so Naruto decided to remain professional until its end. That new found professionalism was challenged when he had to fight Shizuka, the leader of Nadeshiko, due to some nonsensical promise Jiraiya made.
After the fight, which he won, Naruto got to know Shizuka better and the two connected. The pair shared several late night talks about everything and nothing at all. She, too, struggled against the standards of her society and wished to change them instead of holding firm to tradition. Naruto encouraged her to never give up her dream and wished her well in finding someone she could build a life with.
The two soon made their way to Tsunade's office and she looked everything but pleased, if her murderous glare was anything to go by. Jiraiya's report only worsened her mood. Tsunade then informed Naruto that she never cleared the mission to Nadeshiko and through no fault of his own he could have been listed as AWOL and given missing nin status due to Jiraiya's stunt, while Jiraiya would have gotten off with no penalty as he hadn't broken any laws. That was the last straw and the frustration Naruto had been repressing for a month finally unleashed itself.
"You selfish son of a bitch! How many times will you put my future at risk, Jiraiya?"
"Kid, I knew you weren't going to lose so there was no risk and Tsunade wasn't going to mark you as a missing nin. It all worked out, besides didn't you like getting to know Shizuka?" He said, wiggling his eyebrows.
"There are no guarantees and I could have lost. I would have never become Hokage and it would have been because of you. You wouldn't even give me enough information to prepare myself. It's bad enough you ignore my request to stop treating me like your student but to trick me into some duel to settle an old score for you? I just… I understand you only care about the prophecy and absent it you wouldn't have anything to do with me so let's just call it. I tried to get over your disregard but you have no respect for me so just stay away from me. Can I be dismissed?"
"Yes, Naruto, you're dismissed." said Tsunade. After the blond chunin departed, the Sannin continued glaring at each other until Tsunade finally spoke, "You happy?"
"No, I didn't think he'd be this mad. It was supposed to be something fun, one of the adventures we would have gone on had his training trip worked out."
"No, you didn't think, you rarely do. Also, it didn't fall apart by some unknown means, Jiraiya. It was you, your actions caused you to miss out on time with your godson. And now you've pushed him too far. Congratulations."
"This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't hid him away for two years. Two years to resent me and blame me for every minor fault. The old Naruto was forgiving to a fault."
"Yes, to a fault. I'm glad he holds people to standards now. He values himself, anyone who truly cared for him would be elated at that development."
"I just wanted him to have one good memory of me before I left."
"Left to where? Where are you going?"
"Me and the team are going to infiltrate Ame. We believe Akatsuki is stationed there."
"Why are you talking like you won't be coming back?"
"Because there are no guarantees. I know I messed up with Naruto, I don't have any excuses but it was never because I didn't care."
"Jiraiya, come back. He's changed but I doubt he's written you off complete, just be honest with him. No more of your schtick, just the truth."
"Aww, I knew you still cared, hime!" Jiraiya said before jumping out the window.
Naruto was in a very familiar room, a room reminiscent of one of his last independent missions Fukasaku-sensei assigned him. "Naruto" the blonde haired, pink eyed Priestess called out as she started to remove her robes, revealing her breasts, "Help me continue my line, Naruto".
"No!" he heard a shout and as he turned he saw the silhouette of woman on a body of water under a full moon. "Come dance with me, N-naruto-kun" the voice said in a cute stutter. "You've dreamt about me for so long but I'm so close, Naruto-kun." As Naruto approached the figure, he could see her hair was longer than the original. As he walked closer, he could start to make out more of her. Her pale skin, her indigo hair, the ample bosom covered by a lilac coat and finally, lavender eyes.
"H-hinata?" he asked in shock.
"You finally figured it out, Naruto-kun!" she said with a giggle. She held out her hand in such a delicate yet commanding way. Naruto felt compelled to obey and placed his hand in hers. Instinctively he drew closer to Hinata, placing his free hand at the small of her back. She looked up at him, blushing cutely and before he knew it his lips were drawing closer to hers but right before the two could meet Naruto was blown away by a strong gust of wind.
Naruto tumbled, seemingly having no control over his body but recognized the feeling of sand. When he was finally able to stop his movement he took stock of his surroundings he realized he was in a desert oasis. Standing atop a small pond was a battle fan, opened fully. Soon, Temari stood up, her body still covered by the fan so only her had was showing but her hair was down.
"Why don't you come over here, Naruto, I won't mind you having a little peek" she said as she winked at her fellow blond. Once again, Naruto felt compelled to follow the command and walked toward the girl behind the fan. Slowly he progressed toward the Suna kunoichi, her knowing smile growing wider as the distance between the two decreased. The closer he got, the more the fan receded, giving him a clearer picture of what Temari was hiding. By the time he made it to her, the fan was just wide enough to cover her but reveal that she was stark naked.
"Well, what shall we do now, Naruto?" she asked with an alluring smile. Naruto closed the last bit of distance between them and took the kunoichi's cheeks into his hand, pulling her closer to him… only to once again be stifled by a strong gust of wind. The tumble this time was not as out of control but that was only because someone else was there. When the pair stopped, Naruto was being mounted by Shizuka, who was wearing a loose fitting midnight blue haori. They were in his bedroom but the blond didn't have much time to process his confusion. Shiuka started to slowly grind on the jinchuuriki before she began to speak.
"I think I'm owed a rematch, Naruto. Maybe we could even raise the stakes?"
"I-I…" Naruto couldn't finish as the pair were interrupted.
"I think Naruto would rather help me, isn't that right?" Said Shion
"Wouldn't you rather dance with me, Naruto-kun?" added Hinata
"I think he'd rather go back to the oasis, he was looking rather thirsty" Temari-finished.
"Who will it be, knock?"
"What" asked Naruto.
"Who knock knock knock!" repeated Shion.
"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!"
Naruto knew who was banging on his door so rudely. Only one person displays this level of entitlement to his time and attention. While he wanted to ignore her and think about that weird dream of his, the constant pounding on his door wasn't going to end. Naruto got up from his couch and opened the door to greet his guest.
"What's wrong, Sakura-chan?"
"Where were you?!"
"I got tricked into a non-mission mission by Jiraiya. Why, what's wrong?"
"I need to talk to you, about what Sasuke said."
"About you willing to defect? Sure, come on in."
"This isn't funny, Naruto."
"You don't get to tell me how to act in my apartment, Sakura-chan." he said as he led her to his couch. "You wanted to talk about it so please do."
"Do you hate me, Naruto?"
"For wanting to leave with Sasuke? No. That information would have hurt a lot before I left but now it's just what it is. Sasuke was always more important to you than the team, especially more so than I was so."
"Jealous?" she asked, not knowing why she was being combative.
"No. I would have been in the past but I've accepted you won't see me that way and I've managed to get over my crush."
"It was that easy?"
"I don't know what you want from me, Sakura-chan. Was I supposed to only ever love you even if you never returned my feelings? Was I supposed to just be an emotional punching bag? You used to detest my immaturity and be enraged by my feelings for you but now both have been solved and you're not happy for me. What do you want?"
"Things to go back to how they were, to be good again. Sasuke to not be a traitor, you to not be pushing me away."
"I'm not the one doing the pushing, Sakura-chan."
"You're saying I am?"
"Yes. You attacked me during our first team meeting for no reason. You always criticise me no matter what I do. It's like you need me to be a screw up to make you feel better about yourself. A friend wouldn't do that."
"It's not like that, you just don't behave appropriately." Sakura insisted, bawling up her fists.
"No, you just assume I can't do anything right."
"See, you just make me feel worse about myself, Naruto."
"I should be able to tell you if I don't like how you treat me. If I were Sasuke, you'd listen."
Sakura was quickly losing her patience. She didn't come over here to talk about this, she wanted reassurance that Naruto understood why she offered to leave or maybe even an offer to help her see Sasuke. "You used to care about me, Naruto. Before you left you would have been the first person to help me see Sasuke-kun. Now, you're just so cold and you don't care about the team anymore."
"The team that would have left me? That team? You say I don't care but you're just mad you can't manipulate me like you used to. I actually have some self-worth now and you don't like it."
"No, you're wrong!" Sakura shouted.
"No, I'm not. You liked being able to pick on me, insult me and never have anyone admonish you for it."
Sakura was furious and truthfully she didn't know why. She realized this was like that day in Tsunade's office and she should just leave but she needed to lash out. Much of her self-esteem was tied to Naruto's treatment of her. It wasn't fair, in her more rational moments she could admit that. Naruto had grown and matured and a large part of her was happy for him but losing the one member of the team that always valued her highly hurt. It made her feel less than. Just like she had no obligation to return Naruto's feelings, she had no right to expect his to never change. But it hurt, it was irrational and unfair but it still hurt and soon enough he'd find someone else while she'd be left. It was from this place, Sakura spoke. Her fear, her insecurities and her anger mixing into a cocktail of maliciousness.
"So what if I did? You were a loser, no one was going to ever like you as you were! You were lucky I let you around me, you socially awkward baka! And now because you've done some secret training you think you're better than me, that you don't need me? Fine, then, I don't need you either. Sasuke left because of you, if you had been stronger you could have stopped him and if you had stayed in your place he wouldn't have felt the need to leave. You ruin everything, you always screw up and that will never change. You'll never be Hokage because no one will ever follow you, Naruto. No one respects you and all of the rookies just pity you."
"The only value the love of your life sees in you is a target in which to hurt me."
"Shut up." said Sakura.
"Not as a teammate, not as a girlfriend, not even as a human shield while he fled the village. Three years of training under the Hokage and he only sees your worth in relation to me."
"Y-you bastard!" Sakura said as she pounced on Naruto from the other end of the couch, trying her best to hit the blond but having her attempts stifled.
"I hate you, Naruto. I thought you were my friend but you never cared!" she said, trying to free herself from his twin grips on her wrists.
"After all those things you said to me, they were hateful Sakura and you said them specifically to hurt me."
"So what?! Why should I be the only one hurting?"
"Because of Sasuke? Sakura, he isn't worth all of this. Do you care about him so much that you'd say all those things to me just because I won't help you see him?"
"THIS ISN'T ABOUT SASUKE, IDIOT!" she said in a huff. "It's about you. You weren't supposed to stop caring for me. I wasn't supposed to be easily replaced as soon as you returned. Am I really that awful, Naruto?" she said breaking down, no longer struggling to hit him.
"I thought we had already settled this."
"No, we hadn't settled anything. You don't get it."
"What don't I get?"
"You weren't supposed to move on yet, not until after I had Sasuke. You were supposed to be there for me until then because you were mine. If not, I would have just told you Hinata has a crush on you a long time ago."
"Hinata has a crush on me?"
"Yes, idiot. Everyone knew, she was just too shy and afraid of rejection to approach you."
"So, you allowed me to invest time and energy into you when there was someone else that would return my affections?"
"I told you, you were mine. She needed a boost and if you couldn't tell what was obvious to others then you didn't need to know."
"This isn't friendship, Sakura. If you cared about me you would want me to be happy."
"Why should you be happy? We can't be. You both left us."
"Do you hear yourself? You don't want me but you don't want anyone else to have me? How could you possibly think that's ok. Also, who is she and who are we?"
"I don't care if it's ok, it's just how it needed to be. You made it so I never had to come out. As long as I had you, she'd be ok. But now she's not and neither am I."
"Sakura, what are you talking about? Who are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about Sakura, idiot. I'm obviously not her!"