Prologue: Failure

The night was cold, and the wind blew steadily over the treetops. On the wall stood a solitary figure, gazing off into the darkness of the forest, his mind haunted by memories. He had failed. Failed to save his friend and failed to keep his promise to Sakura. What was his "Way of the Ninja" worth if he couldn't even save those few who he cared about?

How many days had it been? He wasn't sure. He spent his days in fitful slumber haunted by nightmares, and his nights were spent exactly as he was now, gazing out into the forest, seeking answers.

He let himself drift, reflecting on all that had happened since he passed the Gennin exam, trying to find some fault in his actions, somewhere he had gone wrong. There must have been a way to save Sasuke, he refused to allow himself to think otherwise.

He thought about Kakashi and Iruka, those who had tried to teach him everything there was to know about being a ninja. He thought about Sakura, who he now realized would never have eyes for anyone other than the bastard; and of the various other people whom he has had the (sometimes) pleasure of knowing. Konohamaru, Lee, Neji Sandaime, Tsunade, Jiraiya, Shikamaru, Chouji, Hinata, and Kiba. He immersed himself in memories.

Naruto blinked and looked up at the sky, feeling a drop of water on his face. Within minutes, a light rain was covering Konoha. He laughed bitterly to himself as more painful memories surfaced. Memories of time spent in idle banter with Haku in the forest, of the inevitable fight they fought simply because they were on different sides, and some of the last words the boys had uttered:

"Please hurry and kill me, I'm sorry that you had to stain your hands…….Please fulfill your dreams."

"My dreams… dream to become Hokage, to gain everyone's respect, and to never take back my words….my dreams are a joke." Naruto broke, he fell to his knees and let his tears mingle with the rain. "I've been wasting my time, what would Zabuza and Haku think of me now. I once thought they were evil, but they both died in contentment, fighting for those they loved most."

Of all things he believed that to be true; and sometimes, it was all that kept him going. When he seemed doomed, he tried to remember the look Zabuza had had on his face, tears running down it, as he had fought to avenge Haku with nothing but a kunai in his mouth. There had been fury, despair, and love. Zabuza, killer of 100, demon of the hidden mist, had loved Haku like a son, and in return had gotten love, and loyalty above any other.

Naruto looked up into the sky and wondered if he would ever be able to understand those feelings, and suddenly felt a need to escape. He jumped off the wall onto the slightly damp forest floor, and dashed off into the darkness.

In years to come he would look upon this as one of the most irrational decisions he had ever made, but it was always followed up with a laugh and the comment that it was also one of the best.

Authors Note: Sorry for short prologue, I really have no idea how this will be received, so feel free to comment (this is just a subtle way of begging for reviews)