Title: Never Ever
Part: 15 of 15
Spoilers: Manga up to Chuunin Exams
Summary: What if Naruto had sided with the Sand in the Konoha invasion?
Chapter 15: Aftermath and Consequences
An inviolable cloud of gloom hung over the village of Sunagakure. The only chance of restoring the shinobi village to its former glory just slipped through their grasp forever.
When Naruto awoke, it was dead silence. Even the forever restless sand was still, as if nature was mourning in its own way. Slowly, he got out of bed and headed downstairs. Temari and Kankurou were sitting rigidly at the kitchen table. Gaara was no where in sight. Temari gave Naruto a forced smile as he took the seat next to Kankurou. "What's going on?" he asked.
"They're having peace talks at the central office right now." said Kankurou flatly, dual meaning understood. The so called 'peace talks' were a load of bullshit. The Sand village was over, finished. It would be destroyed, its ninja army relieved of duty, and they wouldn't be able to do a damn thing about it. The Leaf were just here to collect their dues.
"Yashamaru left around ten this morning." Kankurou said, fiddling around with Karasu. "He said he'd be back around noon. Guess not." The clock now read two.
The two exchanged an uneasy look. "He's been missing since the day after we brought him back." said Temari. "I think he's mad that you... punched him in the face."
"At least it was you who knocked him out." said Kankurou. "If it was anyone else... they'd be dead by now."
"What happened after I.. Gaara.. afterward?"
"Orochimaru died even before Gaara went down." Then, catching herself, Temari hesitatingly added "Orochimaru killed otou-san."
'Kurosaki was right.' Aloud, he asked, "What happened?"
"Otou-san was murdered before the Finals ever began." Before the order to summon a Kyuubi came. "Orochimaru came in his stead and he was the one who fought the Hokage. After Gaara transformed, Sandaime did something that drained Orochimaru's soul." He'd seen the Hokage holding Orochimaru in place, but didn't recall a jutsu being performed at the time. "Shukaku disappeared just when Kankurou and I came back. He used the bomb in Karasu and then we all had to flee- Naruto?"
The blonde had risen to his feet and was headed toward the door. "I have to find Gaara." he said quietly.
"But they're coming back soon."
"Keep him here until I come back, alright?" And he was gone.
It took him a little over half an hour to find Gaara. Naruto looked all over town until it finally struck him that Gaara just might be at the rooftops he spent every sleepless night at. His hunch was right- Gaara was sitting on the Central Office Tower rooftop, like he'd been waiting this whole time.
Conversation was, ironically, begun by Gaara. Once Naruto was within hearing range, he said quietly, "The Leaf is demanding your return."
Naruto blinked. "Huh?"
"Sandaime Hokage's last words concerned you." said Gaara. "He wanted you to go back to Konoha."
"How do you know?"
Gaara nodded at the trail of sand that lead down the stairway door. "I heard them."
Naruto's face fell. "How's it going down there?"
"Baki and Yashamaru are fighting a losing battle." Then there was that silence, which, no matter what the situation, was always comfortable. "What will you do if you're forced to return?" For once, Gaara was looking straight at him and not straight past him. "What if you're not allowed to come back?"
He hadn't thought of that. In fact, right now, he had no idea what the HELL he was thinking when he did what he did. He'd lost hope, the Leaf was going to win, and he wanted leniency. So that's what it was? Cowardice?
Gaara's voice broke into his thoughts. "It'll be right," he said flatly. "Whatever happens, it'll work itself out." Subtleness was never a key trait when it came to Gaara, but at the moment, flat out remarks provided reassurance, even if only temporary. It was Gaara's own way of showing that he was forgiven.
The second the two walked in that evening, Temari knew that they knew. Baki and Yashamaru had put up a good fight, but in the end, their Prime Minister's refusal to assist them handed Naruto back to his homeland like a prize at a flea market.
She had not been crying. There's been something in her eyes and nose since she heard the news, but she was not crying before they stepped in through that door. Afterwards, though, there was no denying that she was definitely bawling her heart out. She immediately ran up and threw her arms around her two otoutou and wailed.
Naruto was also getting misty-eyed and Gaara- Gaara might or might not have been embarrassed of the emotional display at that moment, it was hard to tell, but he allowed himself to be of comfort to his older sister.
"Don't cry, Temari-san." Naruto said softly. "It's not forever. They're not kicking me out of the village or anything, it'll be fine."
"I know," she said, pulling back. "I know, but seeing you occasionally isn't the same as seeing you everyday." Then, as if suddenly realizing the scene she made, Temari promptly excused herself.
Yashamaru was in the kitchen throughout the first few minutes of Naruto's return. Despite his apparent apathy, Yashamaru was really going to miss that boy. No matter how incredibly stupid it sounded, the presence of Naruto alone calmed the demons of his mind. A decade ago, when he was ordered to murder Gaara, he refused it. Seeing Gaara happy, even if he was the murderer or his twin, made his heart forego a change.
"Yashamaru?" It was Naruto, offering a weak smile. "Ramen?"
That night, they all slept together in the living room, something they haven't done since they were eight years old, when Kazekage-sama abolished the childish antics of his children. They talked long into the night, about everything from food to weapons. The subject of his departure was not touched. There was laughter, there were tears, and Naruto and Gaara stayed up long past the others, talking. When morning arose, Naruto was packed and Gaara was gone.
"You think he'd be here." Temari fumed as she fussed with Naruto's jacket.
"It's okay, Temari-nee." Naruto replied serenely. "It's all right."
Everything will be all right.
"You missed it." Kankurou said as he heard the familiar rush of sand. "He's gone."
"I know," said Gaara tonelessly. The three siblings stared after the dust emitted by the carriage taking away their brother had long since disappeared. Finally, Gaara rose. "We should go. It's raining."
Temari glanced at her brother and started. There was a trail of water crawling down Gaara's face that was joined by another, another, and another. It was strongly suspected that Gaara wasn't even aware that he was crying.
"Yes." She said softly, "let's go."
There was once a little boy who changed the world. I should know, he changed mine.
O . W . A . R . I
This version was last edited on October 23, 2005.
Never Ever is now COMPLETE. This is the last chapter, a sequel may be pending, but it's unlikely to be released before 2006. I repeat what I said before: this story was not perfect, there were plot holes and unanswered questions, but it will all be covered in the sequel if there is one. If there isn't... then, well, use the imagination.
This fanfiction was my very first piece and 9630 hits and 400 reviews later, I must say: Thank you, thank you, thank you very much! My fanfiction experience has been wonderful thanks to reviewers and readers such as yourself. Thank you very much.