Sasuke Gives Up... He had waited so long to attain his revenge, when finally, finally it began to become clear... Perhaps he wasn't the one who could avenge his tragic clan after all. Sasuke+Sakura and Neji+Tenten.

---------- Sasuke Gives Up ----------

It had come out of nowhere really -- Sasuke's sudden insane urge to test his strength. He had gotten to thinking after his most recent run-in with Itachi, and he was getting tired of never getting any closer.

He had trained and fought so hard to match his brother, to be able to avenge his fallen loved ones; however, his goal seemed to only be getting farther away, rather than closer. Even with all of the hard effort and the undying determination... it wasn't enough.

Sasuke had begun to feel insecure.

And carrying his already manifesting inferiority complex along with him, the Uchiha prodigy decided to go challenge one of the strongest shinobi he could think of to a sparring match...

-----

Neji had just arrived at his usual training spot(a little earlier than usual), and as expected due to the earlier time, his dear friend Tenten had yet to arrive. So, there he was, with not much to occupy his time with.

The Hyuuga prodigy sighed heavily as he leaned back against the tree, his white eyes drawn up to the seemingly endless sky for a minute. It was nice weather today, actually...

"Hey," a voice suddenly said from nearby, drawing Neji's attention. Dropping his gaze to the one who had greeted him, Neji smirked just slightly. Sasuke levelled him with a rather serious stare before fisting his right hand. "Fight me."

Neji was a bit surprised by this sudden challenge, but pushed himself away from the tree slightly anyway. He could tell from Sasuke's expression that something was wrong -- he was looking to test himself. It was just as he'd been told; Sasuke did seem a little unlike himself today...

"Are you sure you want to fight me? There are others you could ask," he said almost tauntingly, and Sasuke tightened his fist a bit more before lowering his head slightly.

"I want to fight you," he replied again, and Neji shrugged a bit.

"I can see that you're serious about this," he observed before shaping several hand seals to activate his Byakkugan and slipping into his Jyuuken stance. Honestly, he'd always wanted a chance to fight the Uchiha -- a test between the two strongest clans of Konoha so to speak...

A full minute passed by quietly before Neji chose to say anything else, "Have you changed your mind?"

Sasuke clenched his teeth before activating his Sharingan and deepening his frown. Neji stared at him for a few seconds before loosening his stance and straightening his posture.

"With your level of ability, you couldn't possibly hope to defeat me," he taunted rather coldly before turning his back on Sasuke; was he denying him a simple sparring match? Sasuke gritted his teeth slightly in response. "After all, a loser is a loser; they cannot change. No matter how hard you work or how often you train, it's futile. It isn't destined for you to equal me -- you were born weak, and that is something that can never change."

Where was this coming from suddenly? It didn't really matter, as it was having its desired effect -- or so the Hyuuga thought. As Neji turned around to observe Sasuke's inevitable furious expression, his lips parted a bit in surprise.

Sasuke had lowered his head dejectedly and turned to sulk off, his eyes looking uncharacteristically sad. The stunned look on Neji's face didn't waver as he turned in Sasuke's direction and folded his arms at the Uchiha's curious behavior. It'd just been a taunt -- he'd been anticipating an angry, furiously rageful Sasuke out for blood after such a taunt, but he was rewarded with depression?

Shrugging his shoulders and brushing it aside for now, he returned to his previous posture to wait for Tenten's arrival.

-----

A loser... I'm a loser, am I? Sasuke thought, his eyes narrowed into slits. Weak... I can never... change. I can never get stronger. No matter how hard I train, I can't kill that man... I can't kill Itachi...

His expression fell as he forcefully ingested this piece of information. After all this time, it was finally beginning to sink in -- he couldn't kill Itachi, was that it? He couldn't avenge his clan, is that what he'd been failing to realize all this time? Maybe the method to defeating Itachi had never been what he needed to discover, maybe he'd only needed to discover the truth about his own weakness.

He was a loser.

Worse, he was a loser that couldn't avenge his family.

And worse still, he was a loser that couldn't avenge his family by killing his elder brother, no matter how hard he worked to accomplish said goal...

"I'm... useless."

Uchiha Sasuke would never be the same again.

-----

A lazy as usual Shikamaru made his way up the stairs, his mind wandering from one thought to another equally pointless one. He was on his way to his usual cloud watching spot to... well, watch the clouds for a good portion of the day; then he would return home as usual and accomplish whatever tasks were set out for him today(if any). Then, the next day, he would be right back to his same cloud watching spot for the same routine...

But this was not to be.

As Shikamaru rounded that final corner and his dull eyes came to rest on the seat he loved so dearly, his mouth closed into a bored frown of the closest thing he could come to confusion.

Because, there in his usual spot, sat a very depressed looking Sasuke. His eyes were lidded, his hair was somewhat disshevelled, his hands were on his head and his bottom lip seemed to be trembling. Honestly, he looked like his whole world had just fallen appart.

Very, very cautiously, Shikamaru went against his better judgement of just leaving for now and coming back later to approach the Uchiha boy. Not once did the other male turn his obsidian gaze to the lazy chuunin, and Shikamaru of all people was beginning to feel uncomfortable being there.

"Oi, Sasuke." Shikamaru spoke up, drawing Sasuke's weary eyes to himself. He sweatdropped at the sunken look he received, before continuing to speak, "That's my seat."

The voice was bored and dull(in a calm way as usual), but Sasuke registered his request quickly. He not quite as quickly proceeded to scoot over, his eyes once again beginning to look off into nothingness. Shikamaru was eeked out by that, but tried to ignore it and watch the clouds pass by overhead.

It was quiet and amazingly peaceful for the next little while, until the uncertain and highly unexpected sound of Sasuke's voice asked, "Do you... want to play Shougi?"

"Eh?" Shikamaru mumbled as he raised up and looked to the equally uninspired male beside him. Sasuke looked back at him, as if expecting his answer. Shikamaru rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged before yawning.

"Okay."

-----

"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura called, beginning to become worried. Ever since Kakashi had told her something was wrong with Sasuke, she'd been searching all over Konoha. In every building, behind every curtain, in every suitcase... She hadn't managed to even catch so much as a fleeting glimpse of him all day, and a strange bubbling feeling was starting to make itself known in her stomach.

"SASUKE-KUN!" she screamed, cupping her hands around her mouth.

But Sasuke didn't answer her.

Clutching her hands to her chest, she nipped on her bottom lip; what if something had happened to him? What if Orochimaru had abducted him? Maybe her own annoying behavior had finally been too much for him to bare and he'd left... again.

"Sasuke-kun," she muttered, her eyes scanning every inch of scenery before her as she walked. He wasn't anywhere to be found in Konoha, and if he wasn't anywhere to be found in Konoha, that meant that he wasn't anywhere to be found at all -- and if he wasn't anywhere to be found at all, then that meant that he simply wasn't anywhere...

"Check."

The sound of Shikamaru's voice drew Sakura's attention; that's right, she hadn't asked him if he'd seen Sasuke. In fact, he was the only one she hadn't asked yet. She'd pretty much pestered everyone else to death already.

Walking up the stairs in silence, she froze when she saw what was at the top. Sasuke and Shikamaru were sitting across from each other, obviously very involved in a game of shougi -- or rather, they had been. Shikamaru had apparently just won, but Sasuke seemed insistent that they play again.

"Okay," agreed Shikamaru lowly; he didn't care. He enjoyed playing shougi, and maybe Sasuke would eventually get good enough at it to offer him up a rare challenge. The Uchiha studied the game board in silence for several long minutes, only pondering his move as Sakura walked up beside him.

"Sasuke-kun... Are you all right?" she inquired cautiously, laying a hand on his shoulder. He glanced at her only briefly before returning his full attention to the game.

"Sshh. It's my move," he informed, and Sakura's head began to throb when his words resounded over and over in it. He was really, truly, genuinely into this game of shougi? She'd never seen him play shougi before in her life, why would he just suddenly up and start?

Minutes seemed like hours as move after move was made; Sakura watched intently. It seemed that this was about the twelvth game they'd played, and she was pretty sure she'd at least counted eight while she'd been standing there.

It just went on and on, over and over...

Until a miracle happened.

Somehow, Shikamaru had relaxed just enough(probably too tired to bother strategizing games of shougi over and over; he'd won so many times already), and Sasuke impossibly managed to overcome the smartest youth in Konoha.

By winning a game of shougi.

Sakura's eyes widened when Sasuke declared rather quietly, "Check."

Shikamaru flicked an eyebrow in mock interest before nodding his head. "You won; that makes 11 to 1. Do you want to continue?" he asked, and Sasuke began searching his brain for an answer. He felt kind of... different now. Smarter maybe? And something else... He had won! He had actually won! Maybe he wasn't a complete loser after all since he'd won...

"Iie, that's enough for now. There's something I need to do," he muttered before standing finally and turning to wander off. Sakura shrugged carelessly and followed him to find out just what the hell was going on...

-----

After laying out a perfect plan of approach and somehow creating six back up plans in case of failure, Sasuke was ready. He folded up his map, having magically determined where Itachi would show up next and had set up an ambush right there on the elder Uchiha's direct path.

Sakura only watched in wonderment as Itachi and Kisame came walking just as Sasuke'd predicted, a dark frown on the weasel named man's face. However, before triggering the first of Sasuke's traps, Itachi stopped. He was too good to be tricked with a simple booby trap after all.

"Kisame," Itachi pointed toward the explosive tag on the tree to his right and Kisame nodded before raising Samehada and cutting the tree in half along the middle of the tag(how he could cut anything with Samehada, no one may ever know, and how him cutting the tree in two negated the explosive tag we may also never know).

So Itachi kept walking, and in a stroke of pure bad luck, tripped over one of the wires Sasuke had set. Kisame found himself tied up in a net that had been triggered by a kunai trap that had been triggered by Itachi tripping the wire that had been triggered by Itachi's ego.

Yep, flawless.

Sasuke rushed out of the bushes quickly with Sakura close in tow, and quickly tossed a kunai at his fallen brother's head. Itachi rolled to one side to avoid it before nipping back to his feet and pointing an accusing finger at Sasuke.

Sasuke smirked slightly as the flare bomb went off effectively distracting his opponent, and the wire attached to the kunai he'd thrown a second ago strung against an explosive tag a few feet away that was buried under very well placed twigs. This explosive tag was piled up with three other explosive tags and two grenades that two more wires were used to pluck the pins out of simultaneously.

Itachi's Sharingan eyes widened as the explosion went off and he was caught perfectly in it.

Coughing slightly from the smoke, Sakura began surveying the area for Itachi, soon enough finding a tattered Akatsuki cloak with Itachi in it laying nearby. And as Sasuke approached Itachi, the elder Uchiha spat up a tiny amount of blood in an overdramatized way. It was strange how he'd been beaten so easily, but sometimes sensibilities have to give way to plain out convenience for the sake of a story and its unbelievable plot holes -- a plot hole that Itachi had apparently fallen into.

"Nii-san, why?" Sasuke asked finally, his eyes narrowing as Itachi looked up at him smugly.

"You may have won this time, foolish little brother... And though this may look bad, I've got good news for me too," he said before nodding once proudly. "Because I..."

Sasuke flicked an ebony eyebrow as though asking for Itachi to explain. Itachi gasped slightly before forcing the corner of his lips into a slight smile. "I..."

"You...?"

"I just saved a load of money on car insurance by switching to Geico!" Itachi informed, obviously very pleased with his accomplishment. Sasuke sweatdropped and closed his eyes in partial anger. Besides the stupidity of that remark, what the hell was a... car? Oh well, you learn something new everyday.

Itachi then coughed again before closing his eyes and allowing his head to fall to one side, "and... besides... I'll be back... in the next Omake..."

And the final breath left Itachi's lips. Sasuke's eyes widened slightly. Omake? He'd never heard of such a thing...

(Suddenly, a short dark man with a moustache shouted from one screen over, "Itachi, could you please stick to the script? That isn't the Itachi Must Die! set!")

Sasuke blinked but dispelled his confusion and looked back at Sakura. She smiled and offered him a hand; he accepted her assistance and pulled himself up before turning to walk back to Konoha with her. They had a lot to talk about now that Itachi was dead...

Meanwhile, a certain sadly forgotten shark faced man yelled from inside a net. "Hey! What are you doing! Get me down from here! How can I grieve over Itachi-san if I can't get out of this stupid fing net!"

-----

"It looks like things went smoothly." Kakashi said from atop a building as Sasuke and Sakura walked back into the village through the front gate, hand in hand. He turned his lone eye to the two people sitting beside him.

Tenten smiled and leaned her chin into her palms as Neji folded his arms. "Why did I have to give him that talk about destiny and the like though? Is that really what caused this?" he asked, curiously.

"In a way; the depression Sasuke felt from your taunts is what caused him to find Shikamaru. Playing shougi against Shikamaru is what inspired him to devise a strategy against Itachi. Cause and effect, you could say." Kakashi replied before stuffing his nose back in his book to continue reading. Neji blinked before turning to look back at Sasuke and Sakura.

"Wow," he smirked a bit as his eyes fell to Sasuke's and Sakura's hands. "So that's all it took to make Sasuke happy -- kill off one dumbass, and it's like handing a guy the whole world," he raised an eyebrow as he tried to figure out the Uchiha psyche.

"Don't think about it too much, or your head will explode," warned Tenten with a gentle smile. Neji sighed before pushing himself up and offering Tenten a hand up also.

"Either way, want some ice cream?" he offered. Tenten took his hand and widened her smile as she stood as well.

"Certainly."

Kakashi watched in silence as Neji and Tenten hopped off the roof to walk inside the ice cream parlor. He then closed his eye, "Two birds with one stone... right Gai?"

Gai walked up behind him and flashed a Good Guy pose. "That's right, my eternal rival! It's what youthful matchmaking is all about!"

Not even trying to decipher that, Kakashi focused his full attention on the latest installment of Icha Icha.

He'd never really thought about it much until Neji had put it into perspective for him.

Kill off one dumbass, and it's like handing a guy the whole world. It's amazing just how well that statement could befit so many individuals; erasing the existance of a single character could turn almost any story or any person's outlook on life around near instantly. A hint of idea gleamed in Kakashi's eye.

Well there was this one guy...

---------- Owari: The End ----------

Note: This idea just came to me when my brother and I were having a conversation about Naruto the other day. I thought it would be a pretty funny idea to write, so here it is. Be sure to let me know if you liked it.

Disclaimer & Copyright Information: I do not own Naruto (© Kishimoto Masashi); however, I am the author of this story. If you have comments or suggestions, leave a review or send me an e-mail. Doumo arigatou, for reading my writing!