Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
A/N: This is my second fic. A bit of angsty so you have been warned. Pairings: Naru/Saku and Naru/Shiz.
Shizune stormed away from the small café. Furious at the pink haired kunoichi who went by the name Haruno Sakura, she did not even notice the surprised looks of the bystanders. Tears threatened to pour from her eyes as she rushed to find a place to cry herself out. That woman had taken everything from her, everything that she desired for, everything she worked hard for. And she could not do a single thing. Every time she meets her, Sakura smiles; the same mocking smile, making fun of her, silently saying that she had everything that Shizune had once but not anymore, mocking her helplessness.
To most of the people this may be surprising, for the fact that they both are fellow med-nins, both are close to the Godaime-Hokage and both are as gifted as the other. But only a few knew what was going on between them. From her childhood, Shizune had Tsunade as her idol. When Tsunade left the village all those years age, she too, left with her. Since then she worked hard, learned every technique that Tsunade taught, thereby slowly approaching her dream – to become like Tsunade, to become her support, to become her family. Maybe not the best, but she had become the 2nd best med-nin ranking just after Tsunade.
When they finally returned to Konoha, she was in charge of the medical facility as Tsunade became the Godaime. She was also acted as her personal secretary, although she liked to think of herself as a family to Tsunade. She was content with that. It was all she wanted.
Then Sakura came into picture.
Sakura was a very promising student. Both Tsunade and Shizune agreed to that. They were quite friendly to each other. Sakura started out quite well, learning techniques quite easily that even surprised Tsunade herself. Shizune once held pride for having a pupil like that. Then slowly Sakura started to fill out the space, her space. She became Tsunade's prodigy. Slowly Shizune faded away from the picture.
After Naruto returned to the village form his two and a half years of training, he and Sakura brought back Sasuke. Sasuke was sworn allegiance to Konoha, a mild interrogation and that's that. He was reinstated. Not only as a nin but as one of council advisors seeing that he knew many things about Orochimaru. That infuriated her. Not because she had any feelings against Sasuke, but she thought it was unfair. She had seen the condition of the rookies who went after Sasuke when he defected. It seemed that they spilled their blood for vein, just to be puppet for council politics. She had voiced her opinion to the Godaime.
That did not go well with Sakura.
A cold war had erupted between the two. Within months, Sakura replaced Shizune as the head of the medical facility of Konoha, thanks to direct reference from several council members, Sasuke and the Godaime. Shizune was asked to step-down form her post because she was incompetent. She did not say anything; still she was Godaime's personal assistant.
Now she was not.
Shortly after she was demoted, Sasuke was announced to be the candidate for the next Hokage. Tsunade has chosen Sakura as her assistant. Sakura's smile was unbearable that day. Shizune felt betrayed, lost and broken. She had lost her family. She had lost everything she dreamed and held dear to her.
She was forced to abandon everything she had.
Naruto sat in the bar, slowly sipping his sake, his eyes lazily scanning the occupants of the bar, before finally settling onto the new arrival, Shizune. She was currently drowning herself into Sake getting more and more disoriented as time passed. He knew about her situation and he wanted to comfort her but he was not in any better condition himself.
He had worked his ass of just for acknowledgement of the village. And he has craved for that his whole life. Hell, he even returned their precious Uchiha back to them. What did he get in return? An accusation that it was him that drove him out and he used unnecessary force to bring him back and thus endangering the life of an innocent man. An 'innocent' man. And who testified against him?
Haruno Sakura, his one and only love.
He spilled his blood for her, to keep her promise. He nearly sacrificed himself to bring that bastard back. And that's how they repay him. The decision was unanimous as far as he knew. His punishment was to be demoted to Chunin rank and be there for rest of his career. Now the bastard was going to be Rokudaime and he was working under him, and Sakura.
The dull numbness was starting to take over him again, same as the day when his dream shattered. He does not care, not anymore. When he remembers his ninja-way, he can not bear its irony.
'I don't take back my words. That's my way of ninja.'
He looked at Shizune again. She was trying to down yet another cup of sake, muttering some profanities loudly. He downed his own cup and slowly rose up from his seat. He had a really high tolerance. Then again, he had too many of them today. He walked to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"That's enough Shizune-chan."
Still he called her by her old nickname which was given by him in the first place.
She swatted her hand away violently from her shoulder. Spinning around, she faced him.
"What do you want, asshole," she growled.
"Stop drinking and let me take you home. At this rate you are going to get yourself killed," he tried to reason while grabbing her hand and pulling her up.
She slapped him, hard. "Why do you care? Go to that bitch!" She tried to continue her assault.
He stopped her with ease and slung one of her arms over his shoulder to support her and slowly walked towards his home. That was closer to the bar than hers.
She was mumbling something incoherently, cursing. Her emotions were changing rapidly. From angry she went to calm at first and then started to cry. He paid no particular attention to her the whole way to his apartment. Once they were inside he dumped her on his bed. His head was also started to fill a bit foggy. He stumbled his way to a futon and dropped himself on it. He knew he should sleep now, but at this moment that was as hard as him being Rokudaime, even if he was drunk.
He wondered, if this is how Gaara felt.
Sakura, with smile on her lips, watched Shizune as she stormed off the café. She did not understand her problem. In shinobi lifestyle, it was natural to replace someone with someone better and she was better than Shizune. That's how shinobi villages ran in the first place. If Shizune had anything against that, that's her problem.
Last few years were really good for her. They had gotten Sasuke-kun back. The council had forgiven him. Not that she had any doubts about that; he was an Uchiha after all. She had gotten couple of promotions.
But, Naruto was worse off.
She had played a key part in testifying against him. If it was not for that accusation, Sasuke might have a very hard case. Sakura had two choices. One, do not testify so Naruto would be safe but Sasuke might not be and two, testify, so that Sasuke will be forgiven but Naruto will be punished. The council constantly pressed the Godaime. When Tsunade had given her these two choices, she had chosen the second. Atleast both, Naruto and Sasuke, will survive by her choice.
Or so she thought.
What happened next was a blur to her. How Sasuke was promoted to a council advisor directly and after that the possible candidate for Rokudaime, was beyond her imagination. She was happy nonetheless. But she realized one thing,
Naruto was dead.
The Naruto she knew died that day. Now he was a Chunin working under her, obeying her commands without any words. He did not question her after that, not even once, about why she support the false accusation. But nowadays, she questions herself why did she do that. Even after she had done so many things, Sasuke was still as distant as ever, his dream still being the same as before. She questioned herself, was losing Naruto worth having Sasuke back?
She stared at the night sky. She knew the answer, she was just afraid of giving that to herself.
'It seems God of sleep has taken a vacation tonight,' Naruto wondered.
His thought went back to Sasuke and Sakura. As much as he wanted, he still could not bring himself to hate them. He could not consider them as his friends either. It was that numbing feeling again. He wondered how Sasuke's face would look like on the Hokage Mountains.
Maybe he should paint it like he did to the others.
A slightly bitter feeling came to his mind. His dreams, proclamations to fulfill them filled his mind. Sasuke has taken everything from him; yet again. The pain was not easy to handle; the pain of being lonely, being made to give up. He preferred the occasional numbness he experienced; and he wanted that more that anything now.
His musings were cut short by some noise. Shizune was tossing and turning in his bed. He stood up from his futon and made his way to the bed.
"Hey, Shizune-chan, are you OK?"
She did not answer. Instead, she moaned. He touched her forehead, lowering himself so that he can see clearly what was happening. Shizune's hand lashed out. He expected a slap or a punch. But instead she grabbed him and pulled him on top of her.
"Please, stay with me," she pleaded in a drunken voice. "Please don't leave me", she stroked his cheeks. "Please…"
Something stirred inside him. He did not care about what would happen, not anymore. Two people, one man who failed to attain his dream and the one woman who was forced to abandon her dreams, resigned themselves to the depths of the night and to each other.
Sakura watched the starry sky in the silence of the night. She was sitting at the same spot that Naruto showed her once. She had done this numerous times before; the only difference was Naruto was not by her side. She thought of all the years she spent with him. They had become closer over the years after he had gotten back from his training. She had started to know him more. She had started to understand him and his pain. She had started to feel his pain. She had wanted to comfort him then.
It was a night like today when they had kissed each other; their first kiss. To her, it was incredible. He had asked if she would stay with him forever.
"Sakura-chan..." Naruto trailed off, holding Sakura close to him.
"Hmm?", Sakura nuzzled his chest.
"Will we stay like this, forever? Will you stay forever with me?"
Sakura tightened her grip on Naruto. "Yes", she answered.
She knew what was coming next. Silence regained for sometime before Naruto broke the silence again,
"Even if Sasuke comes back?"
Sakura wanted to avoid the question badly, but now she had no idea how to answer that. She stayed silent for a long time before attempting to answer. However Naruto cut her off,
"Just promise me one thing, Sakura-chan. Promise me that even if you go back to Sasuke, you will remain my friend and won't forget me. Promise me that you won't view me as a mere replacement."
"I promise, Naruto."
She remembered the scene clearly. She remembered her promise. Slowly tears started to trickle down from the corners of her eyes as she continued to stare at the sky. She made no attempt to wipe them away, letting them fall freely. She realized why Naruto was so desperate to keep his promises.
It hurts like hell when you break one that you wanted to keep so badly.
Somewhere in a small apartment, moans of two people were swallowed by the lonely night.