StarsOfYaoi: this is the prologue for a SasuNaru fic, only to see if someone likes this plot; I hope people will read and enjoy. Beware it will have heavy angst later on.
Note: the fic is Naruto–centric mostly.
Takes place after Sasuke and Naruto's fight in the Valley of End. Sasuke was rescued in this fic. So, this is an AT (Alternate Timeline).
Summary: (SasuNaru, NejiShika, eventually others) Naruto is trying to forget his former team, busy in Chuunin missions. But as his past is left uncover and many of his kind start to appear, old bonds are stretched to the maximum.
Warnings: yaoi, boy x boy relationship, angsty, torture, and such. Mental as well. Flames will be used to warm up food. OC warning as well.
Disclaimer: Not own Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto does.
–Flashbacks, memories, dreams–
No one spoke in the room as Tsunade finished her speech.
It wasn't necessary to say something, the faces of the five teens were already telling both her and Jiraiya what they were thinking about the shocking news.
The Godaime Hokage and the Pervert Sannin stared at the faces of the five ninja in front of them seriously, for once neither willing to ruin the solemn aura, taking in their appearances. They looked so young, too young, as if they didn't belong here but in a playground, smiling and running around, clueless. But their painful thoughts were useless now; it must have been because the two of them were old, and reacted as if they were staring at children instead of young adults.
Shinobi were trained from a young age to be skilled and emotionless, and Tsunade and Jiraiya both knew it; even thought they didn't approve it, they had been through the same and were now fiercely reminded by the young teens sitting there, shocked.
They had it even harder, in some way. Because they grew up in a war time, when not even living was taken for granted. When no one was sure if there would be a next day. Forced to mature when they should have been learning how to live.
So it was stupid, how they stared at the five boys in front of them, wondering where their childhood had gone. They were shinobi. They were bound to be like this.
No one of them looked like a teen to her as Tsunade sighed, shifting the weight of her head to her hands, elbows placed on the table. Though, their eyes told her otherwise.
At her right, a blond boy that had never taken anything by granted; he'd fought for everything he had, to prevent others from taking his security away.
He had watched as everyone turned their backs on him, watched as he lost everything he gained, lost in the little game adults played to shun him out. All of this because of things he couldn't control, be it a seal placed on him at his birth or a friend's lust for power.
Naruto was no child. Not in his mind anyway, and it was clear seeing the cheerful act he put up every single day. Something that could help him accept and stand the pain he received.
Next was what to an inexperienced person's stare could have appeared as an overweight teen, but that indeed had faced a hard decision concerning his life and death and had chosen the harder way to achieve a victory that would have helped his team.
Chouji too had his problems, hidden under an uncaring exteriority so not to be hurt.
The third was one people labelled as lazy and grumpy, caught in the need to keep up with a family reputation he didn't agree on, with an intelligence that helped him develop battle strategies for a group of inexperienced ninja as if they were elite jounin, and that could help him out of any difficult situation.
His eyes too, were the ones of someone too old to be twelve. Shikamaru could drop his laziness anytime for those he cared for, because he knew things no boy should know.
Then there was the heir of the Inuzuka family. Hiding under a harsh arrogance his insecurities, because being a ninja meant to show power and determination… and any mishap could be punished hard if the mission was not accomplished. And despite his loudness, he would still work in a group treating anyone like a pack member, trusting and caring and protecting.
Kiba knew better than act around his duties.
Last of them was a pale teen with long dark hair, whose blank white eyes were fixed on her with a hollow stare. Older than the other four, he held such a coldness in his stance and soul that only Naruto had been able to warm him up enough to show his real self inside, deep hidden among the abuse he went through all his life –until he could not even think about life without saying that Fate was the one ruling it all.
Neji had suffered equally, and still was standing.
They were all still standing.
And Tsunade felt like it would have been easier if they didn't, if only for her to not see their eyes. Hollow, and yet, still sparkling with life and even hope. Because they were young. The young could still dream.
No matter what, they still hoped. And wished. And lived on, because there was so much to fight for.
And that was enough… at least for now.
"Are you… kidding?" Naruto was the first to come out of his shock, and to the surprise of everyone else, he was not yelling… instead his voice was so low it was barely a whisper. It was like he was trying not to break the silence, as if he was afraid it would shatter and reveal to him it was just a dream.
Tsunade shook her head and smiled warmly at them, a forceful and strained smile, buta true one. "What you accomplished is a great feat, you fought with ninja that were at the Chuunin level, maybe even higher, and you all won… I think you all deserve this".
Jiraiya nodded, for once not looking a stupid but actually serious. He was proud of them, really proud. Despite his previous thoughts, his distrust, his scepticism, he was happy he had been wrong.
"I agree with Tsunade, you all deserve this," he smiled.
Naruto blinked, his eyes flashing with something akin to fear.
Two weeks had passed ever since their return from the mission that changed them, and now they were healed enough to be able to stand in Tsunade's office, many of them still wearing the signs of the wounds they had been healed from.
When the Hokage had called them all in her office, the blond had known something was going to happen, but this was the last thing he would have expected.
"From now on, you will be considered Chuunin" Tsunade said, her tone one of finality. "And Shikamaru, since you were already one, you will be given a special mention. You are dismissed now".
Naruto blinked again.
Tsunade had promoted him… all of them… Chuunin.
He stood up in a flash and ran away. He felt like he wanted to cry.
The village was silent as he stared down from the Hokage mountain, eyes lost as they traced every street, every passage, knowing all of them, feeling oddly comforted by the fact that he could remember them anytime with no strain.
After exiting the Hokage's office, Naruto was so confused and shocked he didn't even know where he was going. He just ran, fast. He was in a dazed state, and when his swimming thoughts returned to the surface and he realized where he was, he found himself on top of the mountain, standing on Sandaime's head.
This had always been his favourite spot, usually changing from one Hokage's head to the other, able to look from up above at the life that continued below, as if admiring the fact that he wasn't there, with all the rest of the world, but in a secret place, higher, watching.
This time it was different. This time, he had no relief in seeing everything go on like usual, he felt no odd sense of happiness in seeing how everything looked so normal. Naruto stared down with frantic eyes as life continued normally for the villagers, feeling somewhat left out. He felt as if no one understood the danger they had been into.
He felt as if he wasn't grasping on reality at all.
Now that he was sitting there, feeling the breeze curl around him, the sun warming the back of his head almost comfortably, and his wounds had healed, he felt as if he knew nothing of this village anymore. It all looked so false, so… vain.
It looked as if he'd been away for years, instead of hours.
Everything was out of focus for him, when his mind was still back to the fight. Two weeks since that day, the day in which he'd seen his hopes and beliefs shatter in front of him by the sole person that had meant really something to him… and now that he was out of the hospital, as well as the other four of the rescue team, this had been his first visit to the Hokage mountain.
His friends were fine.
Their wounds had healed.
But for Naruto, something didn't heal completely, if any at all.
The deepest wound couldn't be repaired, the one in his soul; because after everything, he still remembered the spirited eyes of Sasuke as he stabbed the Chidori in his chest. Aiming for his heart.
He'd fought against his best friend that had wanted him to die. He had let Kyuubi take control of his body. He had felt like he wanted to die.
Nothing could be the same ever again.
And now he stood there, staring at the village he had sworn to protect, and it felt wrong. It was too normal. It was as if nothing had changed, as if nothing… nothing had happened.
He felt like he could never go back to what he was before. Not now.
And the news that now he was a Chuunin… he felt a step closer to his dream of becoming Hokage, but at the same time he felt he didn't deserve it.
He didn't want to be a Chuunin this way. He had done nothing to deserve it.
Nothing at all.
Naruto sighed and thought about who was now resting in the hospital… the one that was responsible for his friends' almost death and the pain he felt. The one that, despite everything, he'd taken back.
The Uchiha had been healing slower than the rest. His wounds had been even worse than Neji's, even if not deathly, so it would take longer for him to heal –Tsunade had commented that his cursed seal had been slowing down the process too.
And he was guarded by ANBU, because they did not trust him anymore.
Naruto felt his heart clench.
He'd trusted the Uchiha with everything he had. He had thought Sasuke to be almost a brother to him, someone he could trust, someone that cared, even with his insults. It felt good.
He had felt warm.
And now, everything shattered down. Sasuke had renounced to his life, his friends, his everything in order to succeed with his revenge.
The sole thought of having to see him and even having to stay in the same team with him made Naruto feel empty inside. He couldn't… he simply couldn't make himself meet with the Uchiha.
He didn't want to look into those black orbs and know he'd tried to kill him to progress further in his lust for power.
He had been weak. He hadn't been able to stop Sasuke from leaving, and even thought Tsunade had told him about the seal, he could not meet with him again. he didn't feel ready.
The cursed seal Orochimaru had placed on Sasuke's neck, just like the one Anko had, had been poisoning his mind, pulling him further into darkness, making his anger stronger, his thirst for revenge even more bitter and painful.
It had been its fault if he'd tried to leave in the first place, and it had been its fault if Sasuke had tried to kill Naruto.
But still, the blond felt it was his own fault. He should have tried to help Sasuke. He should have tried to understand him more, to take him away from Orochimaru's clutches.
And now, he felt he would die if he were to meet with Sasuke. He could not look in his friend's eyes to see the hatred, or even the pity, or the disgust, or any other emotion Sasuke could be feeling.
And, even though Naruto was trying hard to deny it, he felt angry and betrayed too. Sasuke had thought he was important enough to be his best friend, but then, he'd tried to kill him because of that.
The seal was to blame, but the seal only amplified what Sasuke had inside. His desire for revenge was the only thing that mattered for him.
He felt he could not stare into the crimson eyes without thinking back to it all. The anger and the guilt would never disappear, as long as he was around him.
And he could not even think about seeing Sakura, either. She had been worrying over Sasuke ever since they were back, but apart a grateful thanks, Sakura had never visited him, nor his other friends.
Naruto knew it was not her fault, because she was in love with Sasuke, and he had accepted that, plus he was used to be rejected by people. It was nothing new, so he didn't feel bad for it, instead he understood what she was going through.
And even though he had brought Sasuke back, keeping his promise to her, he felt like he'd failed as a friend, to both.
That's why he too never visited any of them. He knew Sasuke would never be let out of surveillance, at least not in the first period, when they were trying to remove or at least control the seal he had. ANBU would be watching him, and Naruto was also sure they would never let the Kyuubi holder in to see the traitor.
He was a demon. Sasuke was a traitor. To the village elders, to have them meet in such a situation, even though he had been the one to take Sasuke back, would mean fuel rebellious instincts.
And for how stupid this sounded to Naruto, he could understand.
He didn't visit Sakura either. She'd been allowed to see Sasuke, because she was training under Tsunade as a medic–nin to be stronger, and besides, she wasn't a threat to the village. Naruto could see both his friends step further away from him, out of his reach, where he could not follow them, and they could not follow him.
Their lives were being drawn apart slowly, because of something they could not control… and yet for how painful that thought was for Naruto, he understood this was the better thing to do. He had to let go of them, and they would realize this soon enough, and let go of him as well.
'I can't face them. I know it's cowardly, I know it's a weakness… but I can't. I've been hurt, they have been hurt. We can't stay together anymore, for the sake of us all,' he thought, his heart clenching painfully in his chest.
He would hurt them more, and they would as well. Sasuke would surely be angry for having his chance at revenge negated by someone he thought as a friend, and Sakura despised Naruto even though he'd taken her precious Sasuke back.
It was a vicious circle, of hurt and betrayal. If one of them didn't break it, it would never end.
Blue eyes opened again, he didn't even realize he'd closed them, and stared again below his feet.
He knew what he needed to do. He had to speak with Tsunade, again.
Kakashi stared down at the blond, showing nothing of what he was feeling inside, but Naruto could still recognize his uneasiness.
It was clear, for someone that had known Kakashi for this long –Naruto knew for how much he denied it, Kakashi had let them close more than anyone else in a long time.
The visible eye was filled with something Naruto couldn't really put a name on, but that felt so familiar to him it was almost painful. His fingers were clenching on the orange book so much the knuckles were white, and Naruto could see the muscles were tense and his arms rigid.
He'd never seen Kakashi this troubled, not in the time he'd known him, he was almost fidgeting.
The blond would have been amused, if he weren't trying to hold back his own sadness. Ok, he didn't want to see Sasuke and Sakura anymore, knowing it would be better for all the team if they were to be kept separated –after all, Naruto would not drown in depression seeing everyday his failure as a friend, and they would not be drained down with him.
They would surely be better off without him, not having to care anymore for him… and he the same.
It could seem cold, but Naruto despite the pain inside him knew he was doing the right thing. Moving on was the best thing for the three of them.
He had to fight hard against his heart yelling at him he was lying to himself.
"So… that is it," Naruto stared hard at the ground at his feet, not able to look at his sensei's face.
Kakashi felt a tug in his chest. This was not like it was supposed to be. Everything was crumbling into nothingness and he had at least to show he cared. Because up to now his pathetic attempt to look carefree and stoic had only hurt his team –the first he'd passed.
They were supposed to be the thing he cared for the most.
They were supposed to be his family.
And he had not been able to protect them and prevent their downfall.
"Naruto, it's not like we won't see each other again," Kakashi forced a smile, even though the younger shinobi could not see it. "We will see each other in the village, I will visit you and I expect you to visit me as well, and… maybe you will be teamed up with me in a mission".
Tsunade had accepted Naruto's request. Usually, it had been like this since forever, a three–cell team would stay together even if one or more members turned of a higher rank –that only meant the higher rank would have solo missions as well, or be put in other teams for some time– but sometimes, things would change.
This was one of those times.
Naruto had asked to be taken away of team seven, and he'd been granted his request. He knew he had to face Kakashi and say goodbye, but he hadn't expected it to be this awkward. He'd realized only now he cared for his sensei just as much as he cared for Iruka or Tsunade.
For a moment, he had the sinking feeling he was doing something wrong, but he pushed the feeling down, determined he was doing the best thing for everyone.
The blond teen found the courage to look up, and was relieved to see Kakashi was not angry at him. Despite his sensei didn't pay him the attention he'd wished for, he still respected Kakashi, and admired him.
Kakashi was startled when Naruto pulled him into a sudden hug, and was too shocked to even shove him away. He was not comfortable with this much contact with another person –a contact that wasn't meant to kill or harm– and he fidgeted until Naruto pulled away.
"I'm sorry, Kakashi–sensei… but I am happy you are not angry at me since I…" 'since I gave up on the team' he silently added.
Kakashi knew Naruto's unspoken words and frowned. Naruto had been strong, stronger than he would have believed him to be, and he wasn't giving up. Kakashi had long since realized his foolishness regarding the blond teen.
Naruto had been in need of a person to guide him, explaining and teaching him, someone that could see behind his appearance as the village's fool, someone that could help him. Kakashi had failed as a teacher in this, preferring to him the Uchiha prodigy… that had instead revealed to be nothing but an avenger.
Sasuke had needed just as much attention as Naruto had, in another way, but the silver haired jounin knew he shouldn't have preferred one student over another.
And now Naruto was happy because Kakashi was not angry with him… Kakashi felt bad. He knew it should have been Naruto the one furious, not the other way around.
"I am sorry, Naruto" he said, his voice steady and serious. "I failed you as a teacher… because I preferred the Uchiha prodigy over my other students".
"No! Kakashi–sensei, you're wrong!" Naruto shook his head and widened his eyes. "I can't lie and say I wasn't angry at you for favouring Sasuke over me, but I know why you did. He is a genius, someone who has great potential… I was, and still am, nothing".
Kakashi's eyes grew cold hearing such words being spoken so carelessly, as if the blond really believed that. Naruto felt worthless, even after everything he pulled through…
"Naruto, you have a great potential, equal to the one Sasuke has. I was wrong when judging you, and I want you to know that I am proud of what you've become" Kakashi smiled, his visible eye sparkling. "I am sure you will become the best Hokage Konoha has ever had".
The smile he received from the blond made him feel both warm and cold inside. Naruto was thankful for his words, although he really meant what he had said, but Kakashi knew that despite everything they could say, he'd failed as a teacher.
Naruto still looked up at him with respect, and Kakashi had let him down too many times to count.
He only hoped he could remedy his mistakes.
Naruto was a surprising shinobi, and the copy–nin was sure he would keep on surprising them.
"Sasuke has a bloodline and talent… but you, Naruto, have something more" he concluded, ruffling the blond teen's hair. "You work really hard" he scratched his head, his eye smiling, "maa, don't make me repeat this ever again, it would ruin my reputation, ok?"
Naruto smiled broadly.
"Thanks, Kakashi-sensei…" and he meant it.
Naruto shifted in bed, feeling the blanket rustle and brush against his skin.
He felt cold.
Turning to his left, he stared silently at the sight outside his window, admiring the night without speaking. He didn't need to put up a cheerful appearance when he was alone, and he could relax.
There were moments the silence was welcomed.
The night was dark over Konoha, the sky of a deep blue that tinged with black, a few stars twinkling in the blanket of darkness, almost as if blinking at him.
There was no moon.
Sighing, Naruto tried to brighten himself up. That morning he would start doing missions with another group of Chuunin, he didn't know yet who, and he was restless.
He couldn't calm himself down, for how much he tried. He wanted to jump out of the bed and run to Sasuke's hospital room, to see him, to confront him, but at the same time he didn't want to see him ever again.
He wasn't one to hold grudges like this, or to admit defeat, this simply wasn't him, but this time it was different. Who cared about what he would or wouldn't do? No one really was inside his mind, no one really knew him.
Not at all.
He only wanted to be recognized, but he ended up being hurt over and over, by the villagers, by the shinobi, even by his own close friends. Deluding himself had only brought more pain, and Naruto for once wanted to be selfish and think about himself.
He wanted to be respected, but he wanted someone that could care for him even more.
He ached for someone that could stare at him and walk at his side, as an equal, a friend, he wanted to be happy. Was that too much to ask for someone like him?
He was running away, but for once, he would not feel bad about it, he would not allow himself to.
The moment the sun would rise up, his new life would start.
Anew… without Sasuke.
StarsOfYaoi: I wanted to try something new.
Short, I know. But it's a prologue. Next chapter will be longer and more explanative, I promise.
Please, leave a review if you want me to continue :) Any comment is appreciated!