Disclaimer: No rights to Naruto..

For the Love of my Friends

Chapter One: His Last Words

by Foxie

The hidden Leaf village was known for many things, the strength of its ninjas, the beautiful springs and summers, the great training faculties.. Konoha was always seen as the last village that would fall under siege. An impossible feat, some would have said.

But many impossible things can be done by ninjas.

More than half of Konoha was occupied by the Sound, its most hated enemy. The small percentage that wasn't, still was dangerous, even to those powerful leaf ninjas.

"Come in Home Base. This is Team Omega." someone whispered. Two ninjas cautiously walked down the road, near the crossroads of Sakura and Lotus avenue. The first, a tall strange looking man with eyebrows that nearly took up his entire forehead lead the way, his dark eyes sweeping over the debris and rubble that littered the streets. His eyes were sad. Never would he have thought his proud village would be in such a state, ten years ago.

The man that shadowed his footsteps was pale and thin looking, with two red strips going down his face. He had a hand on his ear, presumably the one trying to get in contact with Home Base. A medium sized dog walked protectively by his ankles.

"Fuck. These things have horrible reception." The man with the dog hissed harshly, taking the communicator off. He shook it around, as if he was trying to intimidate it into working. His companion looked back, wordlessly asking for the communicator with a casual hand. The other man tossed it to him.

With undying patience, the thick browed man adjusted the wavelength until it was the right one. "Home Base? Over." he asked of the communicator quietly.

Someone coughed on the other end. "Just where the hell are you guys? Over." Both of the men smiled, recognizing the stern voice of the operator.

"And don't give me that bull shit excuse 'We got lost'. Naruto already used it. Over." They both laughed quietly, despite the seriousness of the situation. Really, Naruto-kun.. the first thought with a shake of his dark hair. How could they get lost in their own village?

"My apologies, Shikamaru-kun.. Kiba-kun and I got intercepted by sound nins. Over." the man said politely. Kiba rolled his eyes.

"How many survivors, Lee?" Shikamaru asked, his voice slightly staticy over the faulty line. Lee frowned.

"Only Kiba-kun and myself." he said somberly, exchanging a dark look with Kiba, who snarled.Shikamaru cursed over the line.

"Another fucking win for Orochimaru.." Kiba whispered angrilyto Lee. The taijutsu specialist could only nod silently, his dark eyes full of sadness.

They made it to Home Base, once the Hyuuga mansion in better days, got past the guards, and found themselves in the makeshift infirmary. The head medic, their pink haired friend, Sakura, looked over them with a critical eye. They found themselves shifting uncomfortably under her gaze.

"You really shouldn't over exert yourselves." she said scoldingly. Kiba shrugged, leaving Lee to do all the ass kissing he wanted. Lee's eyes morphed into hearts when he spoke to the pretty medic.

"But of course, Sakura-san! How foolish of us!" he took her hands in his. "We'll follow your orders the next time, my lotus blossom!" Sakura arched an eyebrow in amusement, too used to his antics to be embarrassed.

"Hey, don't volunteer my services, Thick Brows." Kiba said rudely. He turned to Sakura. "Where's the idiot?" Sakura smiled when she thought about her blonde team mate. He was usually attached to her hip, making sure she didn't fall into a period of depression. Even now, after seven years, she still mourned Sasuke's death. Inside, she was still the little girl, so in love with the quiet boy.

"I'm not sure. Maybe with the Hokage?"

Nara Shikamaru stared at the memorial stone, brought to their hideout by Kakashi, in the last hours of his life.

"O-Obito and I.. tried to put in his name. Sound interrupted.." Kakashi hadmuttered, his voice slurred from the large doses of poison injected in him. "Can you carve Iruka's name in?"

Iruka was Kakashi's best friend. The chuunin instructor had been killed when the Hokage was attacked by several curse seal sound nins. He was the only one to see the attack that could have ended Tsunade's life, and threw himself in front of it. He was killed instantly. A noble death for a ninja, to die for one's village.

Shikamaru remembered how the Hokage broke the news to Naruto, just coming back from a dangerous mission. The slightly happy look on the blond's face had fallen, his expressive eyes had filled with tears. He hadn't believed it, had run all the way to Iruka's apartment. He ripped through the wooden door, screaming his adopted father's name. In the end, Naruto had accepted the truth. Iruka was gone. No one cared about him anymore.

The shadow user's eyes landed on a different name. Hyuuga Hinata.

She had been the one to guide Naruto out of his depression, to bring him back to them. But only to be cruelly taken away by the Grim Reaper, in a successful attempt to bring Naruto back to life after his epic battle with Kabuto.

It was a wonder that Naruto didn't snap and go crazy. Shikamaru knew of the Kyuubi, one of the few of the people his age that did. He didn't hate Naruto for it. It would take too much effort for a Nara to actually hate someone. Rather, Shikamaru was in awe how the blond seemed to be oblivious of it. How the blond could walk with his head held high, in a crowd of people who hated him purely because of what the Kyuubi did so many years ago.

Two long arms wrapped around his shoulders in an embrace. He leaned back, careful not to jar his pregnant wife too much.

Yes, he was a fool enough to accidentally get her pregnant in a time of war. All the child would ever see was blood shed and the bloody fragments of their beloved village. However, to his great surprise, instead of anger from the last surviving ninjas of Konoha, the new life that Ino carried within her was a great boost in their spirit.

The almost always frowning Neji gave her some of the baby things stored in the attic, with a tiny smile. Naruto always cooed and asked to feel the baby kicking, always adding in 'She's gonna be one hellva ninja!' whenever the baby kicked particular hard. Kiba and Lee had dragged Shikamaru aside, immediately on him, not for getting her pregnant, but how a competent husband and soon to be father was supposed to act around a pregnant mom, not that either of the two had the experience.

Tsunade and Sakura acted particularly gleeful about it, as most women did, saying they'd love to see her through the pregnancy, all while scolding Shikamaru about being too rough with her. Chouji, Konohamaru, Inari, and Naruto, the biggest eaters of the Rebellion, started giving his wife great portions of their share of food, insisting she needed it more than they did.

Gaara and his siblings, the few times that they visited before the village was occupied by the Sound, gave Shikamaru a stiff congratulations. Temari, as expected, illuminated her remorse about not 'going after him when she had the chance', the most sure fire way to set his wife's temper off. After his wife had ranted at Temari for still flirting with him, the sand nin patted her shoulder, asking if she felt better. To his surprise, Ino nodded. They walked off, arm in arm, talking about baby toys and colors of baby rooms.

Gaara had lingered back, giving him that unnerving look of his. Surprisingly, the Kazekage had a bit of advice that Shikamaru, though wary of him, took to heart. "Keep her safe." the red head had said seriously, a frown tugging the corners of his mouth down. "Or else."

Shikamaru sighed heavily. "We're running out of room."he told his wife, ripping the communicator off of his ear. He tossed it away from him. Nara Ino couldn't think of anything to say, but gave him all the comfort she could, pulling thespecial jonin deeper into her embrace until he finally relaxed against her. He stared off into the distance, looking at but through the memorial stone that Kakashi had so foolishly risked his life for."This war.. It should have never started." he whispered, entwining his hand in his wife's and gently kissing the back.

The Anbu in the corner slipped out, not wanting to intrude on a personal moment. His long blond hair shadowed his expressive eyes. He's right.. This shit has gone on far too long. he thought.

A voice interrupted in his thoughts, a voice oozing with wisdom and power. Maybe.. there's a way to keep it from happening? His tenant mused, almost himself. The Anbu's temper was sparked.

"Listen, fur ball, that shit isn't funny-"

"Uzumaki Naruto.. Talking to yourself again?" The Anbu looked up, blue eyes widening in surprise. Then he grinned.

"Gaara!" he gave the Kazekage an affectionate hug. The red head looked away, an expression of either embarrassment or annoyance flitting across his pale face. Naruto pulled away, oblivious to the demon's host obvious discomfort at being touched. But Naruto was always affectionate to his friends, whether they liked it or not.

Gaara couldn't decide whether it was the fact that Naruto was his friend, or that Naruto could beat him in a demon to demon fight, was the reason why he never complained about the blond's over zealousness. He supposed it was a little bit of both.

Naruto bounced on the balls of his feet, excited by his appearance. "You're here to see the old lady right? Come one, I'll show you-" A series of massive explosions cut him off. The mansion suddenly was a hundred degrees hotter. Gaara grabbed Naruto by his arm, creating a sphere of sand around both demon hosts. It protecting them from the heat and flying debris.

After a few seconds, an eternity to Naruto, the explosions stopped. The sand fell, the two demon hosts having a bit of a hard time getting out of it. The first layer of sand had turned into solid glass. Naruto threw himself through it, not caring about the numerous wounds that appeared on his body. Sliding on the shards of glass, he ran back into the room he just left.

"Shika!" he cried. "Ino!"

The memorial stone had protected them from the worst of the blast, but not the flying debris. Shikamaru had pushed his wife down, using his body as shield against it. Blood pooled around their bodies, all his.

Ino rocked back and forth, Shikamaru's body in her arms.Even in death, the tactician had a frown.Weak kneed and slightly hysterical at the sight of one of his oldest friends' death, Naruto wondered if Shikamaru would open his eyes one last time and mumble something about how troublesome death is.

He barely registered the feeling of his knees hitting the ground as he dropped down in front of the expectant mother, watching her wide terrified eyes blink rapidly as she cried. He wanted to reach for her. He wanted to reach for him. He wanted to run away and pretend that he didn't see Shikamaru's corpse in the frail Yamanaka's arms. He wanted to run out of the house, and, with a primal roar of anger, brutally kill whoever attacked them.

But he was frozen still, captivated by the look of pain in her eyes. She stared at him in return, slowly coming to the horrifying realization that she wasn't in a dream. Slowly, Ino tore her gaze from him and looked over his shoulder at the stoic Kazekage, his lips twisted in something that could have been disgust, or sadness.

Her attention shifting between them, she started to shake, tears streaming down her pale faceas she looked at the two demon hosts. They stared back in a mix of shock, sadness, and pity. Her chapped lips parted. The scream that ripped through her throat would haunt them for months afterward.