AN: No, I have not given up on my other fic. I am in the process of writing it; it's just going slowly. I wrote this oneshot to get my creative juices flowing again and hopefully help my concentration. Slight Sakura and Naruto fluff. They make such great friends. Please enjoy this little ficlet and I'll work on updating my other story for you guys.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kishimoto. ... err. Naruto. Yeah. That sounds better.
A Naruto Ficlet by Phoe-chan
Sakura sat in the back of the library of the Hokage's office. She had offered her assistance to help organize some old files for Tsunade, as thanks for her training Sakura in the medical field. Tsunade graciously accepted, which was what lead to Sakura sitting among a pile of musty old books.
As she started another shelf, she came upon a record book of great ninjas who had died while on duty. A small ache formed in her heart as she recalled the death of Sandaime, one of the few great ninjas who had died while she was alive. She closed her eyes, remembering the crushing attack on Konohagakure and her own near-death experience.
Touching the worn pages of records with a frown on her pretty face, Sakura flipped through the book, eyes skimming the contents. However, her skimming stopped as she paused on one page. The top of the record read: Yondaime Hokage.
It was sad that he died so young. She knew he had saved the village when she was just a baby; it was his final battle. But she knew little else. Turning the page, she began to read. The first were basics. Name, date of birth, date of death, etc. Then it changed.
Cause of Death:
Kinjutsu: Fuuin Jutsu; Shiki Fuujin. Forbidden Technique: Enchantment Spell, Dead Demon Imprisonment.
Sakura paused. This was a technique used to summon Death, who would remove the spirit from the opponent using the summoner as a host. This was what Sandaime used against Orochimaru. But did Yondaime seal the Kyuubi within himself? Wait, there was more.
Other notes: The sealing of Kyuubi was completed along with Shiki Fuujin by using Eight Divination Sealing Style; Four Image Seal to seal the spirit deep within a host. Upon completion of the seals, Yondaime died; payment to Death for Shiki Fuujin.
Host of sealed Kyuubi was a newborn child, Uzumaki Naruto.
After Yondaime's death, Sandaime reclaimed the name of Hokage.
Sakura dropped the book and stared down at it with wide eyes. Naruto... was -no, is- Kyuubi? It couldn't be. She stood up numbly, staring down at the book, the pages faded slightly. She felt sick to her stomach. Clutching her arms around herself, she kicked the book away and ran out of the room hastily, leaving her job half-complete.
It was only mid-afternoon, four at the latest. So the streets were still occupied by various citizens of Konoha. They stepped out of the way and stared as the pink-haired girl ran through as if she had seen a ghost.
She didn't see them as she threw the door open to her house and ran up the stairs, slamming the door to her bedroom and locking it. Breathing heavily, she shut the curtains hanging from her windows before crawling onto her bed and wrapping her blankets around herself. She trembled, eyes wide. Over and over her mind played stories told about the horrible kitsune that had killed so many. She rocked herself back and forth comparing Naruto to the demon. His stamina and chakra strength... it came from that beast. He was that beast! How.. how could they let him live?!
Sakura squeezed her eyes shut and bit her lip. Her thoughts drifted back to the missions she had been in with Naruto. He fought along side of her, argued with Sasuke and was an idiot a lot of times. Her eyes opened slightly as she stared down blankly at her bedspread. He protected her, worked hard to improve and nearly got killed trying to bring Sasuke back for her. And according to Sasuke, he had saved her life from Gaara. She shuddered, releasing a heavy breath of air that she had been holding in.
So, was Naruto the kyuubi? Sakura tried to think back to what the book said. The demon was sealed inside Naruto. Sakura thought back to the basics of seals. They were meant to either entrap or unleash something. The item or host was a container. So that meant.. Naruto was not Kyuubi. At least, not in the physical sense. But what if he had its soul?
She closed her eyes and thought. No... Naruto had never... She remembered the fight with Zabuza. Naruto couldn't kill that boy. He wouldn't. He wouldn't kill Gaara or anyone else he had fought. And he forgave those who had made a mistake.
She remembered the Chuunin exams. Naruto had beat Neji for Hinata. Instead of continuing to humiliate him, Naruto told Neji that he wasn't a loser like Naruto was.
But Gaara was a monster. Why wasn't Naruto like him? Gaara loved killing.
Yet Naruto had beat him and let him live. Maybe...
Sakura's face contorted into one of deep thought. Naruto knew what Gaara had went through. But what was the difference? What made Naruto not like Gaara? The Shukaku seemed to influence Gaara's thoughts and reasoning. But it seemed the blood-lust of the Kyuubi didn't affect Naruto. At least, it looked like it. But he had to have some connection with it to use its chakra, right? So, what made them different?
She thought back to previous missions, talks that she had with Naruto while waiting during a mission.
"Iruka-sensei was my first friend." Naruto had told her as he shoved another piece of food in his mouth. "He would buy me ramen."
Sakura remembered that conversation well because it ended with Naruto throwing his food at Sasuke, to which she smacked Naruto for trying to dirty up Sasuke's clothes. She gave a half smile before she remembered something. Iruka-sensei had mentioned his parents were killed by the demon fox.
So he had to have known that Naruto... What was she missing?
She pulled the quilts around her body tighter. She thought back to the seals. Naruto was a container... a host. That meant that Naruto was not the kyuubi.
And that's why. Iruka-sensei knew it was not Naruto's fault. Right? That had to be it. But Naruto had always been an outcast. So did everyone hate him? Realization then hit her. The adults.. the looks of hate and whispers... that was why. Their hatred of Kyuubi was directed to Naruto. To them, he was the same demon that had hurt them... and their bitterness seeped into the next generation. She gave a pained look. The children didn't understand but shunned him anyway. Naruto was constantly alone. That was why...
A boy without parents. Without friends. Without anything. His pranks and acts of foolishness were his cries for attention. For anyone to notice and acknowledge him. And no one did. Until Iruka-sensei took him in like a son. He took the boy for who he was. Naruto was innocent. He didn't have a choice to have that thing put in him.
"Iruka-sensei was my first friend."
Sakura felt her eyes water. She had done it, too. She had been so cruel to him in the academy, just like everyone else and then when they were first assigned together on team 7, she couldn't stand him. She didn't even know... but all the adults did. Kakashi-sensei, Hokage-sama. Kakashi-sensei didn't seem to care. Not that he cared for much besides his book.
And somehow, slowly, people had gotten attached to Naruto. Hinata had a crush on him; Neji would often have a small conversation with him. He and Kiba would often play sports and even she had gotten attached to him. He was her friend. He was just... loveable. There wasn't any other word to really describe him. He could get on your nerves so easily yet there was something that drew you to him.
She decided it was because he was always himself. He didn't care what others thought. Unlike her, who had an inner personality that wished to strangle people and hid her feelings when she was hurt, Naruto would complain, laugh, cry and get angry.
She found herself smiling a little. Besides, if he was a danger, they would have done something by now, right?
She tried to reassure herself, but it just wasn't that easy. She needed... confirmation? Something... and there was only one way to get it.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura shrugged off her blankets and opened the curtains again. The sun was setting. She'd better get it over with before it got dark.
Naruto sat lazily on the balcony of his small apartment. Today was his day off from training, for Ero-sennin had "business" to take care of. Heh. Can't stop a pervert.
The now 15 year old ninja was clad in his favourite black shirt and a pair of worn jeans. His lithe form was leaning back against the wall, one leg dangling off the balcony and the other propped up on the railing. One hand rested in his lap while another was boredly twirling a kunai between adept fingers. The afternoon sun casted deep golden highlights on his ragged hair which stood out in every direction. His face was relaxed, eyes half closed. However, inside of himself, he was talking to the Nine Tails.
"Kid, I'm bored. Let's go kill something."
Naruto gave the slightest of smirks. "We are. We're killing time."
"Ha." The Kyuubi replied dryly. "So, are you going to rip out the organs of that Uchiha kid? Break his arms and legs and drag him back? Have I ever mentioned how much I loved the sound of crushing bones? It's quite pleasant."
Naruto inwardly laughed, though it was bored and sarcastic. "Nah. I'll break his face, pummel his ass then drag him back to Konoha, face down."
The Kyuubi grinned. "And this, kid, is why I like you. When I get out, I'm gonna make sure your death is a quick one."
"Ha. I'm flattered." Naruto replied dryly.
"Good. You should be. Now go away, I want my sleep."
"Damn lazy fox."
"You don't have room to talk. Say hi to the chick for me."
Naruto blinked as his connection with the fox was cut off. Chick? Wha? He opened his eyes, letting them adjust to the near-evening light. It was then he heard the knock at his door. Must be Iruka-sensei... Naruto mused as he lazily swung his leg over the balcony and pushed off, walking inside. "Hold on, I'm coming." He called out, shuffling past some dirty laundry. Running a hand through his hair, he yawned, opening the door. And blinked. "Sakura-chan?"
Sakura looked up at him, her hands clasped in front of her. She looked nervous, maybe a little scared. "Ano.. may I come in?"
Naruto scratched the back of his head, giving the typical "Naruto Confused; Please Explain" look. Which meant squinting and tilting his head.
Naruto blinked before stepping back, motioning for her to step in. "Uh, sure. It's messy, though."
Naruto gave a half-grin, fumbling around for a light switch. He crawled over the sofa, foot knocking the remote control into the trash can, and tugged the cord to a lamp. "There. So, what does Sakura-chan need?"
Sakura snapped out of her thoughts, looking up at him. "Ah.. " She had practiced what she was going to say when she got here, but now... it all seemed to be jumbled in her head. Especially with him looking at her like that.
His eyes... they looked nothing like a monster. He looked... boyish. Not like a killer.
""Haha, you're really out of it this evening, ne, Sakura-chan?" Naruto inquired, grinning at her. "Want some hot cocoa? I think I got some around here somewhere." He muttered, scratching his head as he squinted at the floor of his one-room apartment.
Sakura gave a thin-lipped smile. "I was cleaning some books out for Hokage-sama today."
"Whoa, how'd she bribe you into doing that?" Naruto inquired, holding up the cocoa box in triumph before hopping over a pile of magazines to get to the kitchen.
"I volunteered." Sakura replied softly.
"Oh. Haha. I knew that." Naruto muttered, stirring the powder in with hot water. "Want marshmallows?"
"You're really quiet. Been thinking about Sasuke again?" Naruto inquired, handing a mug to her. It had ramen noodles as the pattern.
She was about to reply as she took the mug when she saw Naruto's cup. Arching a brow she muttered dryly. "Want some cocoa with those marshmallows?"
Naruto gave a sheepish grin as a marshmallow fell out of the overflowing cup. "Hey, that's what they're there for."
Sakura nodded, sipping her cocoa. Well, who knew the boy could follow directions on a box. "I wanna.. talk to you about something I found."
Naruto nodded, not half paying attention as shuffled over to the sofa, flopping on it. "You're welcome to sit, ya know."
Sakura flinched. She wasn't sure she wanted to do that. "I've been sitting for.. a while. I'd like to stand, please."
Naruto nodded, stuffing his mouth with marshmallows. "Mmph. Wanna talk 'bout somefin?"
"Kinda... I found a book about the hokages."
Naruto seemed to perk up. Well, it was common knowledge hokage was his dream goal. "Mmph! Do tell!"
Sakura sighed a little bit. "I read about Yondaime's death."
Naruto seemed to freeze. "O-oh?"
Sakura nodded. "Yeah. About how he sealed up the fox demon."
Naruto nodded slowly.
The silence was heavy in the room. Sakura wrung her hands together as she watched him carefully. Naruto stared down at the floor, gripping his mug of marshmallows. "Oh..."
His face turned into one of pain. "I... I didn't want you to know."
"...You're scared of me now, aren't you?" It wasn't as much a question as it was a statement. "Your actions. You're scared stiff. I can almost smell the fear on you."
Smell...? Sakura shuddered. Animal-like traits. Naruto saw it, lowering his head more.
"I'm not--" She paused, before sighing and setting her cup down. Her arms folded across her chest. "I am scared."
Naruto closed his eyes. He was going to lose such a close friend. Damn that fox. Damn Yondaime. Damn--
"That you think it matters."
Naruto's head jerked up, staring at her. "What?"
Sakura took a small step forward. Then another. And another. "It doesn't make a difference. You're still my friend. I thought about it for a long time. You've protected me, you risked your life to bring Sasuke-kun back to me. You even had a crush on me--" Naruto flushed, looking away. "--but you've never done anything to make me think you were dangerous."
Of course, she left out the time he accidentally set off a trap that nearly toasted them all on a mission.
Naruto looked at her with wide eyes, the faint dust of pink on his face. "You.. You don't care?"
"...No, he didn't."
"Then why should I?" She inquired. This was getting easier. He wasn't any different. He was Naruto. And she could see that. She wiped her eyes. Damn, she was crying again. How could she have doubted one of her own teammates? Hell, he'd been more loyal than Sasuke-kun had ever been, even if she didn't want to admit that.
Naruto's eyes widened as he scrambled to his feet. "S-Sakura-chan! Please don't cry! I'm sorry!"
Sakura gave a small laugh. "Don't apologize. I should. For ever having a doubt about you. Baka."
Naruto's face was one of shock. For once, he had nothing to say. He closed his eyes and smiled. "Thank y--oomph!" Naruto stumbled back, catching his balance as Sakura threw herself at him. On reflex he caught her by her elbows as he regained his footing. He stared down at her, bewildered. Was this the same Sakura-chan who used to punch him to the floor? "S-Sakura-chan?"
Sakura sniffled a bit, her face buried in his chest as she clung to him tighter. "I'm sorry, Naruto." She whispered, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
Naruto's face softened as he stood there, supporting her by her elbows. He couldn't ask for better friends than the ones he had now.
Sakura felt her uncertainties leave her. He was the same as he was yesterday or two years ago. How stupid was she to doubt him? Even his actions were soft. He was holding her by her elbows, careful to not overstep his bounds. Sakura smiled and straightened up, looking up at him.
"I'm glad you're my friend, Naruto."
Naruto's shock turned into relief as he smiled widely. "I'm glad you're mine, too, Sakura-chan." He hesitated, looking up at the ceiling momentarily before adding, "Still don't have a chance against Sasuke, do I?"
Sakura smiled. "Well, you've definitely been more loyal. I'll think on it."
One could see Naruto give a look that clearly said "YES!" However, he just voiced, "Can I hug you?"
Sakura wrapped her arms around him again. Hesitantly, he returned the embrace, resting his chin on her head and sighing contently.
Sakura giggled quietly. She'd have to hug him more often. He gave good hugs.
Tsunade set the books up on the shelves. She picked up one book and looked at the page it had been left open on. Her brows raised slightly before she gave a small smile. Shutting the book, she replaced it on the shelf. She'd reprimand Sakura for leaving her duties later. Chuckling, she walked out of the library and shut the door.
Yondaime couldn't have chosen a better person than Uzumaki Naruto.
AN: Well, I hope you enjoyed that. I rather like the idea of Sakura and Naruto as close friends. Perhaps as a pairing, but I've not yet read a good fic that seems to portray it to my interest. Now, I promise to finish the next chapter of "I Just Wanted To". Thanks for your patience.
Comments are welcome. Criticism as well, though I do have good news. Next semester I'm taking advanced grammar. Maybe that will help me out and make my stories less of any eyesore. :P