In a Name
Chapter VI: Reintroduction
Naruto didn't sleep on his bed conventionally, he found it was his subconscious's personality to spread his body and extend his limbs in strange angles to cover the most space possible. He snore was thunderous too, but what do you expect from one of the noisiest shinobi's of Konoha.
A rude noise abruptly awoken him from his sweet dreams that consisted mostly of him in Hokage's office devouring bowl after bowl of free ramen. Naruto let out a low groan, trying to shield his cerulean eyes from the bright light that spilled over the cracks between his blinds.
He bolted up from bed in response to the call of his name.
"What is Sasuke doing here," he thought as he shifted his feet towards a part of the floor that wasn't covered with discarded trash.
"Wait a second! Sasuke is here?"
Naruto bolted towards the door and opened it up with a speed only Lee was known for to see Sasuke in a perfectly calm waiting stance.
"Idiot," he whispered fiercely in his ear, "You aren't suppose to visit Sakura, that makes it seem suspicious."
Sasuke couldn't help but wince at his morning breath.
"Couldn't help it," he grumbled- making sure no one could hear, "We've got a mission. And brush your teeth."
Naruto turned red and resisted the urge to wave his fist in his face. Instead he gave Sasuke an aggravated look and muttered, "Yeah whatever. You wait here, I don't want to give anyone a reason to search my apartment."
"Like anyone could finding in there."
Naruto slammed to door in his face, but he wasn't quite angry, the promise of a mission and actually doing something helped rise his spirits. He got ready as quickly as he could, gulping down a quick breakfast, and then using a hairbrush in one hand with a toothbrush in the other.
He grabbed his orange suit and was halfway in the pants before he realized that he hadn't fed Sakura yet. He hopped towards her, trying to lift his pants all the way up his legs. It was a very good thing that Sakura was asleep or you she would be horrified at the site of Naruto half-dressed.
He didn't even try to neatly feed Sakura as he let the thick milk-shake like substance slide down her throat.
"Sorry Sakura-chan," he said, "But I gotta hurry!"
With that he simply dropped her and rushed out the door leaving Sakura alone, sleeping on the dirty rags of his apartment.
"Itachi? Are you all alone?" Little Sakura asked him in the middle of an Inner Sakura rant about how annoyed she was that Kakashi-sensei never tried to train her- or even find her a decent fill-in.
Inner Sakura felt a little put out, but instead of her usual furious verbal fighting words, she contented herself with an angry glare. Little Sakura, instead of cringing at it, ignored her.
All the things that were expected of them didn't play out anymore.
"I have Kisame."
"Oh, is he your friend?" she asked.
"You got the worst taste in friends," Inner Sakura snorted, obviously not relishing the memory of the shark-like man.
"He's not a friend. He's an ally."
"I forgot, ickle-Itachi doesn't have friends."
Itachi ignored her, but there was a rebellious part of him (that didn't seem existent until he got into this damnable world) that silently agreed.
"Do you have a precious person?" she asked.
The precious person nonsense again.
"I don't want one," he corrected himself, "I don't need one."
"I have a precious person," little Sakura said smiling, "Many of them. Naruto, Ino, (Inner Sakura snorted), and Kakashi-sensei. But the most important one is Sasuke."
"Allies are good enough for me."
"Spoken like you think the out of reach grapes are sour."
He didn't think that the philosophy of his life could parallel to an old child's folktale. Then again, did he even have a philosophy in life?
"There's a difference," little Sakura said trying to change the subject, "between like and love. I guess that's sort of like an ally versus a precious person."
"When I liked Sasuke, I use to dream where he would hug me, and he would say I was pretty and I would be happy. But when I loved him, I wanted him to smile, I wanted him to be happy, and everything. My dreams just got flip-flopped."
"You can't help it when it happens."
"Love is never annoying!" Inner Sakura said pumped up.
"If you want, you can be another one of my precious persons," little Sakura said.
"What the hell?!"
Little Sakura looked at Inner Sakura, "You were thinking the same thing."
"Like hell I was!"
"I'm still you..." little Sakura looked at Itachi, "If you're one of my precious people, maybe you won't be so lonely."
"Do as you wish," he said deadpan.
Little Sakura gave him a wide smile, something brave for her. He regarded her for a second and then noticed she slipped out of focus. The hazy world world didn't seem to become as bright and the cosmos in the distance color's slightly faded.
"Yo Itachi!" Inner Sakura shouted, but even her loud voice seemed muffled as if someone was smothering her mouth with a pillow.
The familiar smell of rotting flesh came back, and he felt he was lying down...
"Yo Itachi! Snap out of it!"
Itachi took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and opened them again. The world refocused, the colors came back, the smell dispersed, and the Sakuras' voices came back.
"It happened again?" little Sakura asked.
"You slipping out of the world is happening more and more."
Inner Sakura sighed, "It's a bitch to keep him in here like this. I feel tired."
"I... don't want you to leave," little green orbs stared at Itachi desperately as she latched her small hands around his arm.
"Stop acting like a wuss," Inner Sakura demanded.
"I'm not," she defended herself, "But I don't like losing people."
So there they where, Itachi leaning against the dead cherry-blossom tree. Little Sakura kneeling by his feet. Inner Sakura standing by her side. They've been in that pose what seemed to be like years, it was strange to think that it would be any other way.
"You know what, we've said a lot," little Sakura said suddenly, "I think out of everyone- you know me best now. I think I know you the best too."
Itachi didn't confirm or deny her beliefs.
"If you leave, I would want to see you again."
"If you want to see him you'll have to leave this place," Inner Sakura snorted.
"... I know."
"Eh?" Inner Sakura was so surprised that she practically fell on her face.
"I think I could surface... from out of here now."
In shock, Inner Sakura could only blink at her and then turn her stare to Itachi. Itachi ignored her, but something felt warm now, he was so concentrated on the feeling that he barely had time to register that the tree he was leaning on was stirring. He backed away and stared at it.
At first, it was barely noticeable, but if one concentrated their gaze at its base, it was obvious that the color was changing. The rotten bark slowly rejuvenated, and the progress made it's way gracefully upward, from the base to the trunk... from the trunk to the branches, and then it began to sprout little green buds that covered the tree limbs. The top of the tree was filled with green when it seemed to burst and in explosion of color, there were pink cherry blossoms. The coloy came so violently, crashing against the monochrome sky and mundane field, that Itachi actually reverted his eyes for a bit.
"The tree..." little Sakura looked at Inner Sakura in confusion.
"What's going on?!" Inner Sakura cried out in surprise.
A smile tugged on Itachi's face, it felt weird and very foreign. And it was so small it was barely noticeable. But it came none of the less.
"The tree blossomed."
"Even after they wilt... they will always return next spring."
"Itachi-san..." her voice began to waver. Because now even the Sakuras' could see that Itachi was slowly fading out of this world.
"..," He didn't reply as usual but he did stare at the two, his black gaze setting on their green orbs. And they their eyes couldn't be concentrated on, they were too blurry.
"Hey, Itachi. Thanks." Inner Sakura called out her voice booming in the air, yet it was hard to hear.
Even when it was hard too see anything yet he could see tears weld up in the younger Sakura's eyes. His profile blurred even more and little Sakura screamed after him.
He didn't know what he said, but he could see the sadness and distress in her mouth movements. Then it became so out of focus he couldn't distinguish the shapes of Sakura.
The last thing he remembered he saw was the brilliant pink of the cherry blossoms.
Itachi felt sore. His eyes twitched before they opened, that was the first thing that moved. Then his fingers, then his arms, then his body. He was sitting up right, he had done a sort of push up to help him.
"Sleeping beauty has finally awoken and I didn't even have to kiss him," Itachi saw Kisame smile menacingly, showing off all his teeth.
Itachi swung his feet over the lumpy bed. He glanced at his surroundings. Worn blue stripped wallpaper, dirty hardwood floor, a man lying with bits of his torn flesh on the floor.
"How long?" he asked Kisame curtly.
"You've been wasting away? A few days," he growled.
Itachi stood up warily, feeling the floor felt out of place. Only a few days? Hadn't he thought it was years? There was no possible way that the conversations they had could be held in such a short amount of time. Then again, he did not fully grasp the power of the mind.
"Where are we?"
"Some poor village in the Fire Country, about two hours east of where you had your fainting spell."
Itachi didn't say anything, he simply rose off the bed and walked out of the room.
"Where the hell are you going?"
Itachi felt no need to answer to him. With a few hand seals he vanished, the only proof he was there was the lingering smoke
"Figures," Kisame was greatly annoyed. All that waiting for nothing. What the hell was wrong with Itachi?
Which was exactly the question Itachi was asking himself. He wasn't sure what he was doing, but his body willed itself on its own.
The first thing he noticed about outside was that the sky was blue. And not all of the ground was covered with grass, there was worn paths in the ground and some of the greenery were dead and trampled. The flowers grew wild and disordered, different colors clashing with the others. The way the wind tossed his hair felt cool.
This was reality?
Sakura wasn't really sure where you was at first, or how she got there. She blinked once, twice, before she attempted to move. With a reluctant lurch, she pushed herself forward and looked around at her settings.
Guessing from the piles of empty ramen packets that almost but didn't quite make it into the trash, this place was Naruto's. Sakura had seen the place before, but never really explored it.
She felt grimy; she let her hands wipe away an unknown substance that was on her face.
"Ugh, what is this crap?" she thought to herself as she warily stood up on her legs, "Naruto's going to pay!"
She slowly made her way towards the bathroom, ignoring the mess on the floor. Once in, she examined herself in the mirror. Still the thirteen-year-old, wide forehead girl she had seen last time she looked in the mirror. Except her hair, which she always so diligently worked on, was a rat's nest.
In a slight daze, she brushed pinks strands of her hair with her hand so it wouldn't look so wild, not trusting any of Naruto's hairbrushes. Fingers, though, don't take to tangles very well though, and she ended up pulling out some of her hair.
Wincing slightly, she gave up. It looked fine now anyway. She turned on the faucet and splashed water on her face, she didn't feel so dirty anymore. Something was still missing.
She let the water drip of her face, not moving when the name floated in her mind.
He was there, in her mind, listening to everything she was.
And she was there...
Listening to everything he was.
"Itachi," she turned one-eighty on her heels before she knew what was happening she was walking towards the door in slow insecure half steps.
Her steps grew wider was paced normally.
" I want..."
She increased her tempo to a near jog and opened to door to Naruto's apartment.
Her steps quickened even more as she dashed out of the building.
"You." And with that she leaped onto the roof of the buildings and sprinted across them in a speed that only a shinobi could reach. Hoping gracefully she passed some fellow genins she knew, her house, the academy. Where was she heading?
"I know," she whispered. Her destination was clear, and took another flying leap and settled on the ground, racing towards her goal. She ignored the houses and the fields. She paid no heed the sky or the wind.
She left the village and its people and her surroundings of nature became a blur of irregular shapes. She hadn't truly realized how fast she was running until she stopped. Panting heavily, she rested herself by putting her hands on her knees. Now along with her griminess, she felt sticky with sweat. Perfect.
The cherry blossom trees, the only place near the Hidden Leaf village that you could find them. Often when they bloomed there were many festivals held there, but now it was empty- the season has not come yet. The trees looked painfully dull without their ornaments, and hung shamefully in the wind. No one was there...
But Sakura waited without any real expectations. The sun had been high, commanding over the sky when she first arrived, and then she watched it as it slowly bowed to the land, the sky blushing slightly. Her efforts were not unrewarded.
A man, familiar aura of intimidation, cloaked in a bulky robe that showed nothing of his body shape. But she knew who he was, midnight hair and barren eyes. He was standing on the other side of the line of trees.
"Hello. What's your name?" she said as if it were to be teasingly, but for some reason the voice behind it sounded melancholy.
"That's a funny name. My name is Sakura. Haruno Saura."
The last name didn't seem to faze him and they stood there, staring at each other for a long time.
"They've wilted, there's nothing to see or reason to be here," she said waving her hand carelessly at the trees.
"They'll bloom. It always worth to check, just in case."
Then he turned his back and she knew he readied himself to leave.
"Where are you going?"
He didn't answer.
"I... I want to come too, Itachi-san."
He didn't move, and she didn't completely understand what she was saying. She knew what she had to do. She had to go home, and eat dinner with her family. Then perhaps, she would 'accidentally' wander into her favorite tea shop at the same time as Ino, where they would accidentally sit in the same table, insulting each other in light tones over their drinks. She had to lecture Naruto for calling Sasuke rude things, she had to wait for Sasuke to arrive wherever they needed to be and stare at him in wonderment until the rest came, then she would yell at Kakashi-sensei for being late.
She had to stay, but there was a part of her that didn't listen to her reason.
He didn't say anything but he turned his face so he could see her in the side of his vision, a wordless invitation. Sakura wandered to his side, not really aware what was going to happen next.
Wordlessly, he took off his head protector, the Konoha symbol etched off with a lazy slash through it. He discarded it, he was no longer a missing nin. He was a traveler.
Sakura, understood, and wordlessly dropped her own head protector on the ground, she wasn't a leaf kunoichi now. She too was a traveler.
She didn't know where they were going. She didn't know why she was going, it wasn't like the night she had given her vows of dedication to Sasuke. She wasn't sure how long she was going to be gone; maybe a few days- maybe for the rest of her life.
She didn't have any of her regulations, any of her boundaries.
She was just walking side by side with the killer. Just because he let her.
AN They woke up. Yeay. Well I'm glad I got this chapter out, didn't think it would be so quick. Originally I planned to make this the end but I decided against it. I have a different ending in view. Chapters wont come out frequently though, not when I'm in the midst of college.
I wish I could make this note longer, but I'm pooped.