Story: Melancholia, Chapter 14

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Replies to Reviews:

britenyblanc4 chapter 6 . Sep 20

ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggvggggggggggggggggggfgg ggffgg ggggggggvggggggvgvgggg fggggggggggggggggggggfggfff ggg ggfgggfggggg.

(Um okay? I can't tell if you're happy or upset. I hope that's a good review... haha)

zachosg7 chapter 13 . Sep 15

interesting story, will fav and follow to see where this all leads

(I'm glad you're interested! ^^)

Shippingshoujo chapter 13 . Sep 14

I really like this story a lot! Keep up the good work! The action scenes were good (at least, in my perspective) and don't you worry! They got the point across :D

(I'm glad you thought so! I did try my best but I have been super worried about it!)

chapter 1 . Sep 12

I'll support your story

(Thank you very much X3)

GunBlade2020 chapter 13 . Sep 12

Hi there

I was wondering if Kakashi himself don't have issues that was not healed yet, since I don't think therapy was done for him...

Anyway, keep up the great writing and stay safe!

(Yes, a vast majority of this mission issues of Kakashi's has kind of popped in and out of focus, but not really gotten much spotlight and a huge reason for that is that he's trying to prioritize his students(can't blame him for that), but things are beginning to get to him and he does have a lot of his own issues from the past that haven't been resolved, and present ones which will be gone into soon! And thank you!)

elemental wolf sage chapter 1 & 5

- for me a narusaku paring is really awkward and feels unnaturally like they have the whole best friend/sibling thing going on that a sasuke naruto paring would feel better as there is so much emotion and conflict they match each other perfectly

- ok this annoyed me your going to some how dare a parallel between kushina uzumaki and shakira but that cant be done they are nothing alike kushing is like nauto confident and strong always loving her friends and family while shakira was and still is selfish and filled with unjustified superiority it cant be done this is why naruto and sakura pairing are so unnatural you try to hide and cover her bad personality traits as if they arnt there and pretend she is perfect the same could be said for hinata fans its really annoying to see

(Um excuse me? 1. This is my story and I have a right to choose what pairing I write. I specifically tagged it as NaruSaku, so if you don't like that pairing then you shouldn't have even clicked on my story.

2. I like SasuNaru too, but saying NaruSaku is "like siblings" is a very controversial argument considering Naruto said himself he saw Sasuke as like a brother several times, not to mention the fact that they're also reincarnated brothers(that's not saying they ARE brothers, just that the "like siblings" argument could have been thrown at SasuNaru far more for that exact reason)...

3. I'm only really going by the manga at this point, where I liked Sakura much better at. I'm basing this very little off the anime, where I feel they amped up a lot of her negative personality traits for comedy or even changed some scenes with her making her look worse(no hate to the anime).

4. I'm sorry that I don't focus on the characters' worst aspects, but if I did, Sasuke would have already left the village at this point.

5. Yes, Sakura may have some issues, but to anybody like me who has read the manga, Sakura never struck me as that bad of a person(even the anime has plenty of good moments with her). She was often worrying for Naruto and rooting for him. Heck, even in the wave arc, she was the only one who spoke out of concern when he stabbed his hand, and in the manga she knocked Naruto out of the way of Zabuza's sword, saving Naruto's life. If I focused on all of the characters' worst traits and judged them by that, I'd have to label Naruto as nothing but a brat, Sasuke as an emotionless douchebag, Tsunade as a slacker, and I don't need to even talk about Jiraiya. Hell, Gaara would still be a psycho! But I'm not gonna do that because I'm not a hater. I love all of Kishimoto's characters. So please get off my fanfiction if you hate it so much. And about the thing with Kushina and Sakura, I'm not going to even grant that with a response.

MoonLightSkies16 chapter 13 . Sep 11

I really like how you expanded the mission and gave them a side mission to complete, it would feel kinda rushed if it was just a simple escort mission and then leaving it at that, besides Team 7 somehow always runs into trouble with small C-ranks so im glad you added something else

(Yeah, it didn't feel right to me either just leaving it like that, which was part of why I extended it! haha)

...

Within the next couple hours, all the women and girls were off the ship and the criminals that were in on the human trafficking were being hauled off and locked away.

Gochi was led by Izumi out to meet up with his mother. Sakura felt a warmth grow in her chest as she watched them hug and saw how happy they were to reunite, while Sasuke couldn't help but remember Mikoto, feeling a sense of longing, wishing once again for the past he would never be able to get back.

Mei chose to stay behind to offer some final words of parting.

"I really can't thank you guys enough. I honestly thought we were gonna die in there..." She said.

"Please, it was really no trouble." Sakura smiled. "I'm just glad we could help."

"When your friend there wakes up, tell him he was awesome out there, alright?" Mei smirked.

"We'll make sure he knows…" Kakashi said softly, glancing over at Naruto, who had long since passed out on his shoulder.

"Now all that's left is finding my no good boyfriend, Katsuo." Mei sighed.

"Wait, Katsuo?" Sakura rose an eyebrow. "If that's who I think it is, we just met that guy this morning! And I'll tell you, he's a total sleeze bag. If I were you, I would just dump him and be done with it."

This took Kakashi aback, but for some reason he found himself smiling. Maybe she had been a little more aware than he gave her credit for. Then again, he had also warned her to be careful around him...

"You think so?" Mei rose an eyebrow, before smirking. "He is a handful, that guy… I hope he didn't give you too much trouble."

Sakura shooed her hand, dismissing her concern. "No, I took care of it. I doubt he'll ever even think of flirting with me if we meet again."

Kakashi and Mei were left chuckling in response. Looks like maybe there was no need to worry after all, Kakashi thought, patting her on the head.

"Well, I doubt I'll see you again, but it was nice meeting you all." Mei said. "I should probably get going."

Everybody acknowledged her goodbye respectfully.

Shortly after, everybody finally headed back to Izumi's place, where Izumi offered them dinner, which only Kakashi accepted.

Kakashi and Sakura had patched up Naruto's back after assessing just how bad the damage was. Knowing Naruto, he would most likely wake back up the next day, but as for the injury itself, it would probably take several days to fully heal even with the Kyuubi's Chakra aiding the process. And then there was the matter of Naruto's ankle…

Kakashi sighed.

"Sakura, you should get some rest." He said, looking at Sakura, who was by Naruto's bedside. "Naruto's probably not going to wake up until at least tomorrow evening."

"But I'm fine, I slept some earlier on the ship." Sakura argued. It wasn't a lie. Even so, Kakashi could see the rings under her eyes, and he could tell that she hadn't been sleeping good at all the past few days in general. Even if she had slept some, it wasn't enough.

"...And despite that, you still look like you haven't slept much in days." He pointed out, placing a hand on her shoulder, causing her to jump a bit, as she was obviously surprised that he knew. "Just trust me on this. If you stay awake now, you won't be able to be there for Naruto when he wakes up."

Kakashi supposed he wasn't really anybody to talk, since, in truth, he hadn't even slept once since before leaving the village, but his students were the ones who mattered right now.

"...I guess you do have a point." Sakura said guiltily after thinking about it for a second, looking down at Naruto, who was sleeping. "I feel bad for leaving his side, though. I'm the reason he got hurt in the first place…"

"Sakura, Naruto wouldn't want you to blame yourself for this." Kakashi kneeled down by her side. "He protected you because he wanted you to be safe. Part of that is getting the proper sleep you need."

"I know, but-" She started to protest, but Sasuke cut her off.

"Kakashi's right, Sakura. We can't afford to have you passing out while we're heading back. I'll watch over him." He said.

"No, that means you too, Sasuke." Kakashi said. "I'm going to be the one watching over Naruto tonight. Both of you go to sleep. We'll discuss our plans in the morning."

Sasuke opened his mouth and was about to utter a "but" like Sakura had, but knew there was no point in debating with his sensei over this. He caved in, sitting down on his bed. "Fine…"

Sakura walked off, uttering a good night. Sasuke barely responded(no surprise there), but Kakashi returned the gesture in kind.

Sasuke turned over in his bed, while Kakashi was left to observe Naruto as he slept. After everything that had happened over the past few days, especially this morning, he couldn't risk Naruto waking up and finding his way to another weapon.

It was easy to say he was over such things, that he was over his father's suicide, since he hadn't wanted to worry Sasuke, or for the boy to blame himself for Naruto hurting himself, but the reminder was as haunting as it could have been. He knew this had reached a point that he would have to get Tsunade and Jiraiya involved when they got back to the village.

He couldn't do this alone anymore. He was exhausted, and afraid that if he turned around even a split second, he would find his student in a pile of his own blood like he had his father and the damage irreversible. The thought terrified him.

If he had taken Naruto with him earlier, he wouldn't have hurt himself again.

Not to mention sending him off to do such a task with Sakura had been taking a huge risk as well, not only due to Naruto's mental state but also the Akatsuki and other possible people that could have been in cahoots with Juro.

Then there was the possibility that villagers had been hurting Naruto…? And both Sasuke and Sakura had appeared to be skipping meals too, Sakura had even mentioned some kind of diet...

He rubbed his head through his hair, muling over the situation. He had been trying his best to stay as calm as possible throughout the mission, but it was becoming more and more impossible to put these things out of mind, to keep his own feelings in check and not let the past drag him down as it had so many times before.

Looking at the bandages on Naruto's arm, however, he let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding in.

Since other means of dealing with his stress were out of the question, especially right now, maybe reading one of his books might help him calm down some; distract him, because if that didn't work, he didn't know what he would do.

...

About five hours later, Kakashi had become rather entranced by his story, snapped out of his focus when Sasuke started tossing and turning in his sleep, uttering incoherencies beneath his breath.

He couldn't say it really surprised him, but that didn't make it any easier to witness, as he himself still had a lot of nightmares and understood all too well what it could be like. His eyes softened when he approached his sleeping student, noticing the tears in his eyes.

It was moments like this that he was forced to remember that beneath it all, Sasuke was still just a normal child, suffering from a past trauma. He always tried so hard to push himself, and keep things to himself, do things alone and yet it still showed through when it came down to it - he was just like Naruto in that aspect.

Reaching down, he placed a hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "Sasuke, wake up. You're having a nightmare."

It shouldn't have been a surprise when Sasuke shot out of bed, reaching for his throat, his eyes red due to his Sharingan, and despite that, Kakashi was barely fast enough to respond. Fortunately, he managed to grab Sasuke by the arms to stop him. "Woah, calm down, it's just me...!"

For a long moment, Sasuke was glaring, not seeming aware of his surroundings.

"Let go of...!" He struggled against his hold until he realized who it was. "Kakashi…?"

"Yeah…" Kakashi said softly, nodding. "How are you feeling…?"

Sasuke was silent for a moment, before he snatched his hands away and turned around, irritated. This was the second time something like that had happened this week, the first time it was Naruto. "I'm fine. I'm going outside…"

"Sasuke…" Kakashi placed a hand on his shoulder.

"What?" Sasuke didn't look back at him.

"I know you probably don't want to hear this, but it might make you feel better if you talked about it." Kakashi said. "Judging by your behavior a moment ago, I'd have to guess that wasn't your run of the mill nightmare."

For a moment he considered opening up, letting Kakashi in, but he just couldn't. Talking about his own feelings had never been something he was good at. "It's none of your business. Just drop it."

And with that, Sasuke walked out of the room, leaving Kakashi sighing yet again that night.

It wasn't like he didn't understand. He himself still had nightmares a lot, especially over Rin's death. In fact, that had been yet another cause of his insomnia, the fear that if he even tried to close his eyes, he'd be forced to relive the moment where his hand was in her chest, blood covering his arm. Her face, her voice, it all still haunted him.

Knowing Sasuke, he could only assume that his nightmare probably had something to do with the Uchiha massacre. To do with Itachi.

He sat back down, letting his shoulders slump.

Honestly, he wished more than anything that he could help Sasuke, to make him feel better. But he knew that there was only so much he could say or do for him. After all, it was impossible for him to entirely fix somebody else's problems when he didn't even know how to fix his own. And he could tell Sasuke needed space right now, so he left him be.

Several hours later, at the break of dawn, Sasuke had come back in and Sakura had returned to Naruto's bedside. It was fairly easy by the look in her eyes to tell that Sakura had barely slept if at all and Kakashi felt like he was at the end of his rope.

At least this mission would be over soon and he'd be able to get some advice on exactly how to approach the situation, because he wanted to help them, he really did, but a part of him was just afraid of making everything worse. Because while it was true that he was their teacher, there was only so much he could do to get them to listen to him.

Because in the end, it wasn't like he was their father or anything, and he highly doubt Sasuke especially would take kindly to such a notion.

At some point, Saburo peeked into the room, followed by Izumi. Izumi gave a soft smile at Sakura, who couldn't seem more worried for her blond teammate.

"How is he?" He asked.

Sakura was about to respond, but Kakashi beat her to it. "Naruto has always been a quick healer, so he'll probably be better before we know it…"

"I see, I hope he wakes up soon, I'd really like to thank him for his help with Gochi…" Izumi murmured. "Also, Saburo and I are going out for a walk into the town, but we have stuff in the fridge in case y'all are hungry. I know you haven't eaten for a while, so feel free to help yourselves."

"Ah, if we get hungry, we'll be sure to consider your offer..." Kakashi regarded him politely, but didn't really feel in the mood for eating anymore than the others appeared to be right now.

"Also... I heard.. from Saburo about what happened yesterday morning…" Izumi's voice was low, but not condescending. This gained a glance from Sasuke, who immediately knew what he was referring to. They were a little bit surprised when he held up his arm and showed them some scars on his wrist. "For about a year after our village was burned down, I used to do the same thing until Saburo found out, so I understand a little bit of what he's going through. But you know… I could tell on the day we met that Naruto-san is a fighter, so I'm sure he'll be fine as long as you all stick by his side and don't give up on him… Just try to be patient, alright?"

"Is there… anything we can do to help him? If you've been through this like you say you have, then you must know of a way to…" Sakura trailed off into silence, unable to finished her sentence.

"encourage him to stop?" Izumi inquired. Sakura looked away at Naruto, confirming his question.

"Well, I can't really give you a straight answer for that. This kind of situation is different for everybody, as well as the reasons for self-harming in the first place… I don't know how close you all are, but in my case, I think I was lucky because I had Saburo… He knew exactly what I was going through, and why I was suffering, since he'd experienced the same pain as me. But in many cases, it's not really that easy."

"If you don't mind me asking… What worked best for you?" Kakashi wanted to know.

"Well, that would probably be talking it out. If I hadn't, I don't really know where I would be right now." Izumi murmured.

Of course this wasn't such an easy plan whenever it came to Naruto, but as both Sakura and Sasuke had seen, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibilities. Sasuke had managed to get him to open up some and Sakura had managed to distract him from a possible break down. It might take time, but Naruto would just have to have somebody work with him.

"What about techniques?" Sakura suggested. "He seems to respond really well to physical contact… I've actually been able to get him to calm down a couple times now… And I think it may also help him to just… talk, not about that, but..."

Suddenly she remembered the stuff Naruto had alluded to the day before, about the villagers. Was the suggestion of physical contact really a good idea? Why had he been so comfortable around her?

"Just to be honest, if I may, the whole time I've known you guys, I've kind of got the feeling that he's not the only one here who's dealing with problems right now…" Izumi said. "Sorry, I'm really not trying to sound like a jerk, but... unless you're willing to try and work out your own problems as well, you might not find it very easy to help him through this..."

Sasuke looked away, as did everybody else, unable to deny it. Izumi was right.

Izumi obviously had grown a bit awkward when nobody said anything in response. He swallowed. "Well, um… we've got some stuff I need to take care of, so… I should probably go ahead and leave."

"Right…" Kakashi said. His voice was solemn, and he didn't look up as Izumi and Saburo left. Instead he found himself observing the sleeping face of his student and then Sakura and Sasuke, who didn't look happy at all with the consideration of Izumi's words.

Thoughts from early that morning resurfaced again. In the end, Izumi was right. The truth was he didn't like outsourcing or talking about himself. Perhaps, that was even truer for him than any of his students. He'd made that perfectly clear on the day he met them with his introduction where he didn't really tell them anything more than his name.

After all, Shinobi were taught to keep their emotions in tact, to just suck it up and move on when something bad happened; to accept death as just part of life, not dwell on the past. Whether or not he entirely agreed with that principle now, it didn't change the way he'd been hard-wired to deal with his problems, especially after his time in the anbu. So what good would dredging up the past now, after all these years, do for him? Wouldn't that just make the situation worse than it already was?

More than anything, his students just needed him to remain strong for them. He needed himself to be strong and stay focused, and putting aside his own personal feelings and trauma was the only way to do that. His students were all that mattered.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Naruto, who started to stir.

"Naruto?" Sakura called out, tears in her eyes from the excitement of seeing Naruto finally wake up.

Naruto groaned, before opening his eyes.

"Huh? What's going on? Why is everybody staring at me?" he sat up, looking around the room, confused.

"You idiot, don't ever do that to me again, worrying me like that! You could have got yourself killed!" She immediately took the opportunity to scold him.

At first, Naruto didn't really know what to say in response, because it was hard to tell whether she was more angry or worried, but the answer was pretty obvious in its own way because of the fact that she hugged him right after.

"Hey, I told you not to worry so much, didn't I? I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if something happened to you, Sakura-chan..." Naruto smiled nervously, before he suddenly recalled something. "Wait, that reminds me..., where's Juro?! Don't tell me that bastard got away!"

Naruto immediately moved to get out of bed, only then being reminded of his back and ankle.

"Try not to move too much…" Sakura managed to calm him down by placing a hand on his shoulder, even though he was still tense. "Juro was taken to prison, as well as Kure and all those other guys that were involved…"

"What about Gochi?" Naruto wanted to know.

"He's back with his mom now. We were just lucky that she was on the ship…"

"I see… There's no telling how many other girls that guy screwed over…" Naruto murmured, looking down at his fists.

For a long moment, the room was silent as everybody considered the possible fate of other girls who got dragged into this whole mess.

Finally, Naruto spoke up again.

"I guess we should probably start heading back to the village today, huh?" Naruto asked, a little nervously.

"I suppose that probably would be for the best. We wouldn't want to overstay our welcome…" Kakashi said. "But, Naruto, your injuries still haven't healed yet, I'm sure we could hold off at least another few days, if you need to."

"What? No way! I'm totally fine now, ya know!" Naruto grinned.

"What about your ankle…?" Sakura started to protest. "Yesterday, you sprained it when you fell."

"Oh, that? Well, I mean it still kinda hurts, but I'm sure Kakashi-sensei can just carry me if it gets too bad." Naruto grinned, volunteering Kakashi without even receiving a confirmation.

"Hold on, don't I get a say in this…?" Kakashi wondered, sweat-dropping, as he remembered how he had to carry him on his back the night before as well. He really shouldn't have been surprised, though. Naruto was still just a kid when it came down to it.

Kakashi stood up after a moment. "Well... if that's settled, then I guess all I can say is get packing. We should expect to start heading back in a few hours."

"Right." His students responded.

As decided, Team 7 left three hours later, and were sent of by Izumi and Saburo who once again held up a note, this time asking all of them to be safe, which Naruto and Sakura regarded with a smile. They still never once got to hear Saburo speak, but they figured it was alright. Sometimes, trauma it can just take years and more to get over. That wasn't something that should be forced. Maybe, one day, he would reclaim his voice, but that was up to him when he chose to. At least they appeared to be moving forward, it was all they could hope for.

Besides, they couldn't focus on Izumi's and Saburo's problems anymore. After all, they all had their own issues they were going to have to work out.

...

Their trip back was much faster, since they were able to glide through trees rather than walking on the ground.

Two days later, they finally returned to the village.

A/N: Wow I don't like how this chapter turned out at all, and writing this was a huge pain in the ass because I literally just wanted to get this mission over with. I hope y'all don't hate me for this. This whole mission Kakashi has been trying to keep his own problems to himself because he wanted to prioritize the mission and his students. He didn't want to worry them, but he does have his own fair share of issues to work out and that will come up in due time, because he too never had the help he needed either, so yah… Anyway, from this point on is pretty much just going to be focused on recovery and other such things.