Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, no one on this site does

Note: I am trying to remain neutral for the most part when it comes to character portrayal, but I need to make Sakura somewhat harsh at the beginning, so sorry to any overzealous Sakura fans that might be reading this story to get the plot started.

Shadow Fox

The fight was over. Zabuza and Haku were dead, Gatoh was dead, and his hired thugs had all fled, but it was not a time of celebration for team 7, Sasuke was dead, killed by Haku. Naruto and Kakashi watched sadly as Sakura was crying over Sasuke's dead body. After what seems like hours, Kakashi managed to pull Sakura away from Sasuke's body and lifted up Sasuke's lifeless corpse.

"We will take Sasuke back home so he can have a proper funeral, but for now, I think that we need to rest." Kakashi said to his students, he then turned to Tazuna, "Do you mind if we stay at your house tonight."

"Not at all, take as much time as you need to rest before you leave, after all, you are the saviors of this village."


And so, the remainder of team 7 returned to Tazuna's home. It was very silent as everyone was fairly upset over what had come to pass; it was hard to accept that Sasuke was dead.

Suddenly, the silence was broken as Sakura asked the question that Naruto wanted to avoid as long as possible, "How did he die?"

Naruto tensed, he had been dreading this question, he didn't want to tell them that Sasuke had died protecting him, but they were his team, and he knew that they needed to hear the truth.

"While we were inside Haku's mirrors, we were both struggling to stay alive while Haku kept piercing us with his needles. Sasuke finally managed to activate his Sharingan but….while I was injured, Haku came after me and…Sasuke jumped in the way to protect me."

Silence fell over the room as the information sunk in when Sakura was once again the one to break the silence.

"So you're telling me that Sasuke is dead because he had to protect you?"

"…Yes" Naruto managed to softly reply.

"SO IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT SASUKE-KUN'S DEAD." Sakura screamed at Naruto.

"Sakura, that's enough, calm down." Kakashi said, trying to calm Sakura down.

"NO, IT'S ALL HIS FAULT" Sakura continued to scream, until she finally managed to lower her voice, "Why did we have to be paired with the Dead Last, if we had only received a team member who could protect himself, then Sasuke-kun would never have had to die. WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE PROTECTED YOURSELF?"

"SAKURA, stop that right now." Kakashi was starting to get sterner in his tone.


That one hit Naruto hard, he was very upset that Sasuke had died protecting him, and being around Sakura was not helping his mood. So Naruto simply got up and wordlessly walked away from everybody, wanting some time to be alone.

Kakashi sighed and leaned back against the wall, he knew that Naruto would probably want some time to himself and so he let him go. However, he was very disappointed in Sakura's reaction. They were a team and the way that she had talked to Naruto was unacceptable. He sighed again and began to speak.

"Sakura, I don't care what how you felt about Sasuke, that was going to far. Naruto is your teammate and this was not his fault. Sasuke chose to protect Naruto, and yet you blame everything on Naruto, and even worse, you chose to drag his past treatment into it as well, and to top it all off, you wished for his death. You know nothing about Naruto and what he has been through, and to say something like that was taking things way to far. I don't care how you feel about his matter, Naruto is your teammate and you WILL apologize to him, do I make myself clear."

"Yes Kakashi-sensei." Sakura said looking down towards the ground.


In all honesty, Sakura didn't know why she had reacted like that. She knew that Naruto was not at fault for what happened to Sasuke-kun, but she was just so upset at the moment that she had to take her anger out on somebody. What bothered her most though was that Sasuke-kun had protected him. Sasuke-kun had never shown any kind of caring towards anyone, she had tried so hard to make Sasuke-kun care, and yet he always pushed her away, yet here he was, dead because he gave his life to protect Naruto. Sakura was upset with her self though because she knew that Naruto had not deserved those last comments she had screamed at him. She knew that she needed to apologize to him without Kakashi telling her to, but right now she knew he was probably still very upset and so decided that she would apologize to him tomorrow.


Sakura's words had cut deeply to Naruto, he felt bad enough about Sasuke dieing, and now he knew that the girl that he loved hated him and wished that it was him who died, just like all of the other villagers. Naruto felt like a failure, a worthless excuse for a ninja. His first serious mission and his teammate died because he couldn't protect himself. He felt a bitter laughter escape from his mouth.

"What kind of Hokage has to have people protect him, he has to protect the village, not be protected by it. I don't deserve to be a Hokage. Maybe people were always right about me, maybe I am a failure, and maybe I will never be able to be Hokage."

Naruto didn't want to be a burden on his team. He didn't want Kakashi or Sakura dead because of him, because he was a failure, so he made his decision. He would leave tonight, leave the leaf village and live somewhere else. Sure he would probably be killed as a missing nin, but he really didn't care anymore. If he returned, he only returned to unending hatred, probably even more when the people find out that it was his fault that their "precious Uchiha" was dead. Sakura hated him too, hell, the only people who would care are Iruka, the old man, and maybe Kakashi. Besides, if the hunter nin killed him, then the Kyuubi would die also, so nothing bad would happen from him leaving. He still felt sad about his decision, but knew that it was for the best, so he decided to wait till everyone was asleep, then he would leave and never come back.


Morning came quickly for the remainder of team 7 that was staying in Tazuna's home. Kakashi and Sakura got up and joined Tazuna and his family for breakfast. As they sat around the table eating their meal, Kakashi turned to Sakura.

"Did you apologize to Naruto yet?" Kakashi asked her, curious to why Naruto had not joined them for breakfast.

"No Kakashi-sensei, I thought he might want some time alone last night, so I thought I would do it today."

"Well go wake him up and do it now, once he has eaten breakfast, we will head back home."

"Yes Kakashi-sensei" Sakura replied, walking off to wake Naruto up.

Sakura knocked on the door to where Naruto was sleeping "I wonder what I should say to him, what I said last night was pretty mean, I don't know if a simple 'I'm sorry' will cut it" she shook her head and laughed "What am I talking about, this is Naruto, the guy practically worships me, of course he'll forgive me."

"No response, he must still be asleep" she thought "Guess I might as well head on in"

Sakura opened the door and looked around the room, she didn't see Naruto anywhere.

"I wonder where he is"

Sakura gave up on looking for him in his room and started to look around inside the house, then around the house, Naruto was nowhere to be found. Having no luck finding him, she went back to find Kakashi.

"Kakashi-sensei, I can't find Naruto anywhere, have you seen him"

"He wasn't in his room?" Kakashi wondered where Naruto could be, he was beginning to get a bad feeling about this.

"I have checked almost everywhere, the only place I haven't checked is….." She couldn't say it, it made her too sad.

"It's possible that he could be in there, He probably feel's really guilty about what happened, he may have wanted to make to say his goodbyes." Kakashi got up from his chair and started walking away "I know it's hard for you, I'll go check to see if he is in there or not."

Kakashi made his way to Sasuke's room and let out a heavy sigh, yet another comrade that he lost, at the beginning of the mission, he told Sasuke that he would protect him with his life. He had failed.

Kakashi reached his hand out and opened the door. When he opened the door, he didn't see Naruto anywhere, he did however, see a note left on top of Sasuke's body. Feeling that whatever was in this note was a bad sign, Kakashi walked over and started reading the note.

To my remaining teammates,

I am sorry to leave this note on Sasuke, I feel bad about leaving it here, but it is the only place that I can be sure that you will find it. Last night I thought a lot about everything that happened and I realized that Sakura was right, if I hadn't been on this team, then Sasuke wouldn't have had to protect me and may still have lived. I guess that everyone was right about me being useless all along. I decided that I don't want to be a burden to you guys or anyone else in the leaf anymore, so I've left. I would prefer not to be declared a missing nin, but if it must be done, then there's nothing I can do about it, it shouldn't take them too long to kill a dobe like me, and hey, if they kill me, then 'it' will be gone too. Tell Iruka and the old man that I'll miss them, but not to come look for me. Maybe I'll try to return one day if I get stronger, but I doubt that the villagers and council will let that happen, so this is probably goodbye forever. I hope that you will both be happy with your new team, and I hope they are more competent then me.


Kakashi sat there staring at the letter for a long while, this was just too much, now he felt really depressed

"Our first real mission and I get one member of my team killed and one runs away, everyone paired with me always ends up gone. Why can't I protect the people I care about. If only I hadn't left Naruto alone, maybe I could have talked him out of this."

Kakashi was shaken out of his thoughts by the sudden gasps for air coming from the body below him.

"Sasuke?" Kakashi called out in shock

He looked over to see Sasuke with his eyes open, breathing heavily. Kakashi examined Sasuke and realized from his wounds that once again, he had failed to notice that the boy, Haku, had not killed, but put his target in a near death state.

"Sasuke, can you speak."

"Where am I" Sasuke asked in a weak, raspy voice.

"Hold on, I'll get you some water." Kakashi replied as he left the room.

As Kakashi was getting Sasuke his water, Sakura came up behind him.

"Kakashi-sensei, was Naruto in there."

The happiness that Kakashi felt over Sasuke's being alive was quickly dampened by the mention of Naruto.

"Sakura, come with me, there is some good news and bad news for you." Kakashi said with a small forced smile.

Sakura was not happy about having to enter Sasuke's room, but she listened to her sensei and followed him into Sasuke's room. Soon, a loud girlish squeal could be heard throughout the village.


"Of course I'm alive." Sasuke snorted "Now what happened, where's the Dobe?"

Sakura felt terribly guilty at the mention of "the Dobe," she had said all of those terrible things to him, and yet here Sasuke was, alive. Suddenly, she remembered the bad news that Kakashi had mentioned and her guilt turned to dread.

"Kakashi-sensei, I assume that this is the good news you mentioned, but what is the bad news." Sakura asked, afraid that this bad news had something to do with Naruto.

Kakashi simply pulled a note out of his pocket and handed it to Sakura, "Read this."

As Sakura read through the note, her eyes widened in shock and her guilt suddenly felt much worse. She knew that this was all her fault, she didn't understand all the details of the letter, particularly wondering what the "it" was that he referred to, but she knew that he was close to breaking inside, and she gave him the final push. She felt her knees give out beneath her and started sobbing uncontrollably.

"This is all my fault, why did I have to say all that to him out of anger, why didn't I apologize last night, I could have prevented this….and now he's gone"

Sasuke watched the scene before him in confusion, he had no idea what was going on, but apparently it had something to do with Naruto.

"Let me see that note." He demanded

Sasuke read through the letter and felt his hands clench together tightly. He was gone, how could the Dobe just up and leave them like that. He read through the note over and over again, trying to figure out why he would leave them. As he read again, he noticed a mention about something that Sakura had said to him, so he turned his head towards her.

"What did you say to him." He asked in a cold voice.

Sakura looked at the floor ashamed, She didn't want to tell him, but she had to, so she looked at him and told him "I told him that I wished that we didn't have to be teamed with the dead last so that you wouldn't have to die protecting him, and then I sort of told him that…." Her voice began to trail off "I got mad and asked him why a genius that people loved died instead of a loser that everybody hates, and wished that it was him that died instead." She finished weakly, feeling horrible because of what she had said to him.

Sasuke glared at her. He may not have always liked Naruto, but he was one of the only people who truly knew what it felt like to be alone. He was one of the only people who knew how it truly felt. How could she have said something like that to a boy who had nobody in his life.

"Why did you do that?" Sasuke asked her in a cold tone of voice.

"I'm sorry Sasuke-kun, I thought that you were dead, and I was upset, and I ended up taking it out on Naruto." Sakura pleaded with Sasuke not to be mad at her.

"We have to go find him." Sasuke said trying to get out of his bed.

"No" was the stern reply from Kakashi.

"But why not" Sakura pleaded "He's our teammate, and we need to find him, and I need to tell him that I am sorry."

"Sasuke is in no shape to leave at the moment, we will need to rest here for a while till Sasuke is back on his feet again."

Sasuke wanted to protest, but he knew that he was in no shape to travel right now, so he let the argument drop. Sakura was more reluctant to quit, but soon saw the reasoning and also let the argument drop.

"We will wait till Sasuke is better, and then we will return to the leaf to report the mission success. After that, we will speak to the Hokage about this matter and ask if we can go out on a search." Kakashi told his team.

"But what if he is declared a missing nin" Sakura asked, worried that if they returned with this information, that Naruto would be in danger.

"Naruto knew that was likely when he chose to leave, as much as I don't want to see him killed, this is what he chose to do, and I am not too sure that we would be able to convince him to come back right now. He told us that he might return someday when he got stronger, so I think the best thing we can do is try to work with the Hokage to keep him off the missing nin list and leave the option for him to return to the village."

What Kakashi had said made sense to the two of them, although they weren't happy with the thought of leaving Naruto out there, they knew that this was the best thing that they could do for him right now.

Meanwhile, further into the forest, moving away from the Wave country and the city of Konoha, things were about to take a large turn for Naruto.

A/N: Yes, thus far this story has nothing to do with its title, however, that will change next chapter. I realize the story may seem slow now, and my thoughts flow much better then my words and I don't describe things too well, but I figured what the hell, why not write a story. And in doing so, I am now falling into the epitome of nerdom, but oh well, I don't really care that much.

Basically, I got tired of looking through the stories nowadays and the choices all being either 1.) yaoi 2.) Sasu/Saku; Naru/Hina; Neji/Ten; Shika/Ino, those pairings all bore me. 3.) Self-insertions: Don't get me started….I could rant on about this for a long time, personally, I blame the hopeless fan girls for this one (I actually blame them for most of these, but this one in particular). 4.) Naruto/Harrypotter crossovers…… that's just stupid. 5.) High school fics and other random fics of the like….they just suck.

Well, enough of my ranting (though I could do much more, but then I would have to deal with lots of angry fan girl hate mail, I already had to cut that rant out to avoid some of it) basically, feel free to state whatever you feel about this fic, however, I am just going to ignore reviews about "That's not cannon" or "that character wouldn't really act like that" or "That couldn't really happen" or "that was spelled wrong" honestly if you are going to review, make it significant (that means avoid the simple "I like this fic" reviews too). As for any angry hate reviews about my personality if you get offended, well, I might laugh at the first 3-4, but after that I will probably just ignore them, so I'd say don't bother with those either, I am a sarcastic bastard and I know it, tough luck.

Anyway, all rants and insults aside (but I do so love insulting people), I hope you enjoy this story as one of the few Naru/Kin stories out there, I like any Naru/het pairing that is NOT Hinata, so I'll probably write others eventually if people actually enjoy this one.