Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

"I don't hate you." Naruto ignores the incredulous looks the rest of Team Seven sends his way. They had been sitting by the lake doing absolutely nothing when his voice broke the silence.

Sasuke sighs and takes it upon himself to question the idiot. After all, it's only him Naruto could be talking to. "As heartwarming as that is to hear, why are you telling me this now?"

"Just wanted you to know." Sasuke nods mock sagely as if he understands.

"So I won't have to worry about you suddenly deciding you have to kill me? I can finally sleep well at night." At this, Naruto pauses in his perusal of the lake to gaze at Sasuke for a long moment. Then he chuckles and returns to watching the water ripple.

"I wouldn't kill you even if I hated you" Sasuke looks surprised. Naruto's changed in the years passed and whereas before he would think that the blond was too soft to spill blood, now he knows better. Naruto could kill someone he hated in cold blood with no remorse, perhaps with pleasure.

"No?" he asks softly


Then Sasuke understands, or so he thinks. "Ah, yes if you killed me, Sakura might get mad at you." They both seem to realize at this moment that Kakashi and Sakura are both still sitting beside them, listening to the conversation in tense silence. This time it's Sakura, that Naruto looks at before laughing.

"No, that's not why." He frowns. "If I hated you I wouldn't kill you. Instead I would leave Konoha in search of the Akatsuki. When I found them and Itachi with them, I would kill him. Then I would come back to Konoha. And I'd be the one drenched in his blood and I'd be the one holding his head and I would be the one laughing when you finally realize that everything you've done to achieve power," -the cursed seal, Orochimaru, the valley of the end- "was all for nothing."

Kakashi and Sakura sit in stunned silence while Sasuke somehow achieves a new level of paleness. Naruto rises, slowly and deliberately, from his seat between Sasuke and Sakura before looking Sasuke straight in the eye. The Uchiha resists the urge to activate the sharingan.

"Aren't you glad I don't hate you?"