Aright, it's a little later than I planned, but after writing it I decided that I wanted to sit on it for a night to decide if it was REALLY want I wanted to do with the end of the story. It was and so I am, if that makes any sense at all. Like I mentioned in chapter 25, this is real short, but it sets up a nice little area for explanation in Chapter one of Book two titled... Yet to be Determined. Anyway, enjoy and, please, please, please review at least this chapter as it is the very end (until Book Two, anyway).

Embrace of Solitude


Sakura walked to Sasuke's house with a heavy heart. It had been three days since Naruto left and the dark haired boy wasn't taking it overly well. She knew it would be hard on him especially, but he hadn't left his house since it happened, he was barely eating, he spent all day and night training and from what she could tell he was not sleeping. Sakura had continued her daily visits to his house under the guise of fulfilling the promise she'd made to Naruto as he left that she would take care of Sasuke, but in all honesty she was actually really worried. She knew that Iruka-sensei was also visiting the Uchiha household to check in on Sasuke, and she felt much better knowing that.

"Hello? Sasuke?" She poked her head into his house, not worrying about knocking. She had the distant hope that he may be sleeping and was not willing to risk ruining his slumber if that were the case. Anyway, if her were awake than he should be expecting her, she's been arriving at the same time for the last three days.

She shrugged after checking his room to find it deserted. He was probably out back in the training area. Of course. "Why do I only make friends with troublesome people?" She muttered to herself, walking towards the kitchen. She was beginning to feel like a glorified cook.

Without even bothering to search for Sasuke, Sakura pulled out the groceries she'd brought and began cleaning the vegetables. After a few moments of silence she sighed. "He's training awfully quietly today... I hope he's not hiding somewhere around here so he can jump out at me..." After a moment she shook her head. "No, he's not Naruto. He wouldn't do something like that."

"Sakura-chan?" The sound of Iruka-sensei's voice caused Sakura to jump. She blushed, praying that he by some miracle had not noticed her muttering to herself.

With a forced smile, Sakura pushed the door to the kitchen open, "Hai, Iruka-sensei. What are you doing here right now? I thought you usually stopped by on your way to school."

Iruka smiled reassuringly as Sakura's worried eyes appeared before him. "Ah, no, it's nothing. It's just... Sasuke wasn't here when I stopped by this morning. Is he out back? I just wanted to make sure he was OK."

Sakura's eyes widened and she dropped the carrot she was holding. "I-I don't know... I just assumed, I mean..." She trailed off as both she and Iruka dashed towards the kitchen exit.

"Sasuke-kun?" Iruka yelled as loud as he could, jumping swiftly towards the target practice area. That was where he often was in the morning.

Sakura followed at a slightly slower pace. Her heart was pounding. All she could think was that she'd promised Naruto she would watch over Sasuke and she couldn't even do that. "Sasuke!" She screamed, echoing Iruka, but there was no reply.

Iruka turned towards Sakura, feeling a bit of remorse when he noticed how panicked she looked. He needed to keep his cool or he'd just send her into hysterics. "Sakura-chan, I'm sure everything is alright; he probably just went out. Just in case I want you to go back to my place and get Kakashi, OK?"

Sakura nodded, taking a deep breath to calm herself. Iruka-sensei was right; Sasuke was probably just out shopping. Or maybe he went to see someone; either way he would be fine. "Alright." She replied, already turned and headed towards the apartment Iruka shared with Kakashi.

It took them four hours, and was almost completely dark by the time the three of them found out what happened to Sasuke. It was hidden pretty well, the note he'd left behind. Kakashi had been the one to finally find it, tied to the cutting knife Sakura used when she was cooking; if Iruka had shown up a few moments later they probably would have saved themselves a few hours. The note read simply, "To Whom It May Concern: Joining Naruto, don't look for me."

It was discovered at the same time that Shikamaru was also missing, although no note was left. Talk of assembling a search party ensued and a few small parties indeed went out. They returned empty handed and with Konoha still in disarray from the battle there just wasn't enough manpower for a full blown search. Perhaps if the runaways hadn't gotten at least a ten hour head start or if the search parties knew which direction Naruto had headed they would have had a chance to find them, but as it was, for Konoha, both Sasuke and Shikamaru might as well have disappeared. The only thing that was known for certain was that that there was a faint scent trail headed towards the East.

The Real End


Psychic King: OK, that's the real end to Embrace of Solitude. Yes, I'm having Sasuke go after Naruto. After much deliberation I decided that I couldn't have them apart for TOO long, although they WILL be apart for a major part of the beginning of the story. As mentioned in my last chapter author comments, I am searching for Beta readers for Book Two which will be titled... I'm not sure yet. Let me get the first chapter done before I run off and title it.

Got questions? Well, let me see if I can help you a bit. Certain things are going to be answered in book two in my own time; these things include, but are not exclusive to the following: What really happened to Kentaar? What the heck's wrong with Mina? Why'd Shikamaru tag along with Sasuke, that spiky haired bastard? What promises were made at the end of Chapter 25 that the evil Psychic King made reference to but never wrote them out because she's communist (not really)? You said there'd be Gaara! I want my Gaara!! OK, not really a question, but there is a Gaara appearance planned, as promised in, what, chapter 1? Anyway, it just takes me a while to get to these things... Any other question that you feel need answering? Come, on, just review or e-mail me and I'll either answer the question through e-mail OR incorporate the answer into a chapter (sometimes I forget that I left a string dangling over here while I'm working over there)...

Now... OK, I've already received questions involving things like "Why'd Naruto have to leave?" I'd prefer not to explain myself, but here goes. I feel that I gave Naruto both a serious and compelling reason to leave; obviously, when faced with a decision of whether to have fun or save a life (especially when that life is your daughter's, or at least your children's sister) a good person would choose to save the life. Now if your question is, "Why'd Naruto leave Sasuke behind?" (A very different question), than please take this into consideration. Naruto is well aware that Sasuke had an ambition; to kill his brother. Naruto also knows that Sasuke will have an almost impossible time of doing that while chasing Naruto around the world, if only because Itachi is most likely not gonna be wherever Naruto ends up. On top of that, Naruto and family's powers are such that, generally speaking, no one else can be taught them. That means that Sasuke can have someone to SPAR against, sure, but he'll pretty much have to invent his own jitsu because there won't be anything that Naruto can really teach him; meaning his powering up process will probably be slow in coming if he goes with Naruto; no quick fixes like someone (::cough:: Kakashi) teaching him already developed jitsu (::cough:: chidori). Anyhow, I felt that Naruto, knowing these things, could not in good conscious either stay or ask Sasuke to go with him; it would be selfish. Sasuke deciding to go with him was another story, which is what I have happening; so really, I think I've redeemed myself to some extent. Anyway, I wanna have fun tormenting- er, I mean, developing their characters while they're apart.

::Bowing:: Anyway, it's been real fun for me as a writer. Thank you for your support and I hope that you all continue to support me throughout Book Two. Once again (not to sound desperate) PLEASE review!!! Last chapter needs a lot of reviews to look pretty. Don't you think?