Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Warnings: post-time-skip, spoilers, OOCness?, lemon (nothing too graphic though), shounen-ai, yaoi, angst, M, character death, SasuNaru and ItaNaru.
Notes: Please see my profile for the latest updates and notes :D Thanks. YOU ROCK! XD
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Dedication: for StarsofYaoi—thank you for the doujinshi scan:) You want ItaNaru? I really tried a pure ItaNaru, but the SasuNaru fangirl in me couldn't allow a fic without SasuNaru XD for WingIt, because you edited my summary. Damn it, I really ENVY the fact that your exams finished earlier :D for all my readers and reviewers, because you guys are the best XD
The sky was covered with a couple of white streaks, clouds drifting lazily across the peaceful skies. Sunlight streamed from above and illuminated the area; the passing breeze smelled of green grass and blooming flowers.
Konoha was peaceful—so very peaceful, but it was okay, because, after all, Uchiha Itachi and the rest of Akatsuki was dead, Orochimaru was dead, and—
He was only Rokudaime for a couple of months, but it seemed that the weights of the responsibilities were showing on his youthful, tanned face. Blue eyes that rivaled the color of the pure, undisturbed skies were closed, brownish-gray lines running beneath them. Sleep was something that rarely came to him for the past few days, and the eyebags were a testament to his fatigue.
It was weird, since there wasn't really much to do—for everything's safe and secure, and everybody's so goddamn happy, and—
He opened azure-hued eyes and gazed at the floating clouds, irises filled with some emotion that nobody was able to perceive. The triangular-shaped hat tipped backwards and fell to the soft, green-covered ground, exposing the golden mop of hair that sat atop his fox-like face. He didn't have the time to cut his hair; his bangs grew much longer than before, and he could hear the indiscreet whispers of him looking so much like the Yondaime.
A heavy sigh escaped from petal-colored lips, and he tightened his hold on the exquisite bouquet of flowers that he bought from the Yamanaka flower shop. He saw Ino and Chouji there—but they instantly stopped their cheerful conversation when they saw the strongest ninja of Fire Country enter the humble-sized store.
It was a bit painful to slowly lose his friends once he started being Hokage.
He couldn't blame them, though. It was considered disrespectful to mingle freely with the village leader—but it still felt hurtful. Like he was still not acknowledged, despite his reasons for becoming the Rokudaime Hokage.
A passing breeze that was much stronger embraced his tanned body, whipping the long, heavy ends of his Hokage robe, startling him out of his reverie. He became aware of the presence that stood not twenty meters away from him and the tombstone in front of him.
He dropped to his knees—a sight that his enemies would definitely want to see—and offered the flowers to the tombstone, tears building up inside cerulean eyes when the flowers weren't taken from his hold. He could only wish—wish so much—for another person to take the flowers and smirk at him, taunt him for his reaction.
"Let's go, Naruto," The very familiar voice called out to him, and the presence was beside him in a split-second. The blond's shoulders stiffened, an act that wasn't detectable with all the thick robes that encased him.
The Rokudaime let out a shuddering breath, crystalline tears not escaping from his determined grasp.
The flowers' petals swayed obligingly with the dance of the wind.
—SasuNaru, ItaNaru oneshot—
Thank you for letting me love him one more time.
"Yakushi Kabuto's corpse was found on the hidden tower of his laboratory, beside a bed with tissue samples, hair extracts, and other experiment variables," The voice was a bit monotonous, much like the voice that the reporter possessed years ago, before he purchased books on how to acquire friends.
Sai stood, with back ramrod-straight, and delivered his news to the Rokudaime, obsidian-colored eyes watching their leader intently. The only things he saw was the tired sigh that escaped Naruto's lips—and nothing else. It's like the sadness and the misery and the loss were all taken away from the blond—along with his happiness, determination and love.
The ANBU member continued with his mission report, all too aware of another man's presence on the other side of the door. He only saw the man a couple of times—in the bingo book, in the S-Class Akatsuki files, in the Hokage's apartment—but he could say that the other exulted an aura of malice and creepiness.
"…I knew this would happen," Naruto declared with nothing but a weary voice, and no upturned lips. There were no smiles, no grins, no sparkle—and Sai found it unreasonable and unfair for the other to take away everything that made up Naruto.
Suddenly—it happened on a split-second, something that occurred definitely, on a moment that Sai couldn't quite grasp in his katana-wielding hands—a spark of emotions blazed across those blue, blue eyes. Like an ephemeral flower—like the ones painstakingly offered on a solitary graveyard a few hours ago—it disappeared, falling inside the layers of façade and melancholic sadness, mixing with the duties of being the Rokudaime.
"I'm going to send you and some other diplomatic team to Sound within a week, understand? For now, get some rest first and enjoy your time off," Naruto informed his ANBU member with a mechanical tone, blue eyes more emotionless than Sai's.
You need some rest too, Sai wanted to say, but he doesn't have the right to tell the Uzumaki boy what to do, he doesn't have the power to influence Naruto like a certain person did.
The door opened, and the Uchiha that was standing outside for the past fifteen minutes was still there, ruby irises absent in favor of charcoal-colored ones. Hair that was a bit longer than Konoha remembered Sasuke having, nails that were a bit more shiny than normal—
"Naruto," The older male said with a slight purring sound, lacking the angsting moodiness of Uchiha Sasuke, but possessing the deadly appeal of Uchiha Itachi.
Another split-second has passed, and those blue eyes blurred like deep ocean waters mixed with grime and blood, and then, Naruto looked as though he'd cry, but it was impossible, and Sai averted his observant eyes.
"You're dismissed," Naruto commanded in a sort-of choked voice, and Sai nodded respectfully, deeply, and fisted his hands, wanting to share his friend's pain, but knowing that he couldn't intrude.
The Uchiha on the doorway slinked inside the Hokage's office without any invitation, and Sai made his way out, head still bowed.
Sai didn't want to accept that Naruto was truly gone.
"You're not going to investigate Kabuto's body?" It was a simple question, but it also held the weight of years' worth of dreams and hopes and promises.
Naruto's shoulders stiffened—and this time, it was detectable, even with all the layers of pristine white cloth that draped over his form. Blue eyes turned sharp, and he fixed the older male with a cold, empty glare. It was a bit too eerie to find the previously-cheerful blond glaring at you with blank apathy and unfathomable sadness.
"I knew it'd happen," The Rokudaime said tightly, lips pulled together in a contemplative frown, "He couldn't go on without his master," Naruto continued, in a tone that suggested that he knew how Kabuto felt all too well.
"It could still be an act," The older one suggested lightly, but there was no hint of urgency or nationalism or anything of that sort. It was like they were rehearsing lines from a demented script, a play with tragedies and no happy endings.
Naruto let out a loud sigh, and he turned to his companion, blue eyes glittering with all the lost love and unshed tears.
"Let's go home," He suggested, and in just a second, they were gone, even before the flowers' petals outside landed on the ground, away from its origin.
Two men stood stiffly beside each other, shoulders almost bumping to each other and fingertips touching comfortably. One male had brown hair pulled upwards with a short ponytail, and his hands offered one bouquet of flowers. His companion was slightly taller, with silver-colored hair and a mask that hid not only half his face but also his woes and sorrows. A bouquet was clutched with his gloved hands; a similar bouquet rested on a tombstone a few feet away from where they stood.
It was a windy day—with the wind playfully caressing their clothes and toying with the loosely-bound petals. The graveyard was deserted, but the two visitors saw two bouquets laid down beforehand. The colors of pale violet and white were meant to entail peace for the person who was resting underground.
Somehow, Hatake Kakashi didn't think that the person would ever achieve rest—not with what's happening with the Rokudaime. The silver-haired man longed for the days when Sakura would still jealously glance between her teammates, emerald eyes eyeing the Uchiha heir longingly, while she'd envy Naruto who got her beloved's attention so effortlessly.
Umino Iruka longed for the days when Naruto's eyes still sparkled like the hottest and brightest stars, still blazed like the clear and powerful ocean waves. He longed for the days when Naruto's lips would still be pulled into brilliant smiles and determined grins, even if his goals were always focused on getting everyone—especially the Uchiha heir—acknowledge his presence.
From the point where their shoulders touched, the kind-hearted teacher felt tremors running around Kakashi's figure. "…Kakashi?"
Even with Iruka's worried voice and genuinely-concerned gaze, Kakashi couldn't stop his eyes from squeezing out pathetic tears. "I failed again—I failed again," The older male said through his tears, also collapsing on his knees, with Iruka gently embracing him.
There were four flowers on the grave that stood forebodingly in front of them.
The door to the outside world was shut with more force than was necessary. The blond forced his facial muscles to not twitch—because after all, he wouldn't want to alert the members of the ANBU that trailed after his departure. An early departure—something that he wasn't prone to make—but he tried his best to look fatigued… not that it was difficult to pull off.
He didn't want to count how many nights were spent with eyes dilated and staring in futile hopes at the starry skies, at the passing meteors. He didn't want to recall how many times he was disappointed when he wished at each passing streak, at how many times he was failed by his fervent wishes.
The soft, cat-like footsteps snapped him out of his trance, and he made a small hand gesture, shooing away his ANBU guards. He couldn't see it—not from his distance—but he could almost feel the confused frown that marred Sai's face. He was really thankful for the other's concern, but—this involved only him—and there was no point in dragging more people into this.
It really felt shitty when he was the only one that was still caught up with the sticky web of the past.
There was a pause. "They're gone," Naruto said, even though it was something that the other probably knew milliseconds before he even spoke.
Soft skin—perfected by genjutsu—wrapped tightly around his elbow, and the Rokudaime let himself be dragged towards the other's taller, slimmer form. He buried his face into the very familiar blue top, but he didn't inhale the alluring scent of the man that held him with something akin to affection, and something akin to misery.
If he inhaled—he'd know that this wasn't him, and he couldn't afford to have that. This was already too much pushing on its limits—hell, Sakura-chan looked ready to pound him six feet underground, Tsunade-baa-chan looked downright livid—but this was the only thing left to him.
It was pathetic, really, but this is his last chance—and he'd never let it go. He felt stupid—not the 'he tripped on his way to the blackboard' type of stupidity—but rather, the kind of stupidity that involved turning a blind eye to things that were blatantly shoved into his face.
He could feel the surge of power, the shift in the chakra concentrations, and he suddenly, reflexively, held the other's wrist in a vice-like grip. "Don't," He whispered hoarsely, reminding of his voice once he finished shouting his best friend's name on top of the fated Valley of the End. He was frustrated then; he was still frustrated now—but—
He could sense the other nod his agreement and the embrace turned into something more miserable.
Naruto buried his face more deeply into the other's blue shirt, tears stinging his eyes when he remembered the other's shirt, the other's smell—
He could feel himself growing weak again, and he couldn't have that, because he wasn't weak, and he was supposed to be strong—always, always—even when his most important person was ripped away from him.
His hands, which had long loosened their grip on those pale wrists, made the necessary seals for teleportation.
He regretted using the teleportation jutsu, because it made time go faster for them, and he could still feel the gnawing of regret and loneliness whenever he let himself be laid down with absurd gentleness that was unexpected of his companion. He kept his eyes tightly shut, even when the other's hands slowly pulled his robes away.
He couldn't allow himself to see the other; he couldn't allow himself to see the truth.
During the first time it happened, he made a mistake of opening his eyes—in valiant hopes of seeing the other—but he saw the worrying, long eye-lines, the signs of the deterioration that would visit every successful Sharingan user. He saw the way light caressed the silky strands of grayish-black, and he saw the deep-red irises.
He recalled throwing up on the bed—much to Sakura's loathing when she visited the morning after—and being tormented by anguished sobs. If only reality was as easy to have as a shallow drop of tears.
After that, he made it a point to always make the room dark; it was another reminder of the past he could never forget and the future he could never have.
It was pathetic, again, to be so caught up with the other—but it was like oxygen to him, the memories of the not-perfect past and the impossible future. It was painful and downright crazy, but he couldn't let go—because if he did, he'd die, and—
He felt lips tracing a path from his right earlobe, down to his jaw. The lips were warm; it was something that he'd never expect from the stoic man. His lips were as cold as the snowflakes that dwindled down from clouds during winter. It was too different, and Naruto told his companion so. A couple of seconds' pause as a genjutsu was made; when those lips descended to kiss him, it was much colder, and it was much more believable to the blond.
Everything happened like it was rehearsed, it was much too monotonous, much too lifeless, but beggars can't be choosers, and Naruto kept silent, with only little sighs escaping him as he made love to him. No, he fucked him. It was easier to think of everything that way, because 'making love' involved having the other feel things that S-class murderers usually didn't possess.
Naruto opened his eyes, eyes that were as blue as the sky when he passed away, and saw some faint slivers of light clash with the genjutsu-faked bangs. They were colored navy-blue, and the eye-lines weren't very visible from his angle, and he could almost see, almost feel the future that was ripped away from him.
The other thrust into him, but Naruto saw the black eyes, blue hair—
"Naruto," The other whispered his name with snake-like venom, but there was a tinge of dangerous, deadly affection.
He opened his mouth, pink lips reddened slightly, and he formed the words that were made with utmost emotion.
The morning sun's rays were filtered by the tall trees' leaves, leaving brilliant points of light to shine upon the young man's form. He was seated beside a plain-looking tombstone, knees folded up to his chest, Hokage robes left at his apartment, beside the gray-haired former Akatsuki member.
The clouds were thick and fluffy—the kind that children would want on their picnic, the kind that Shikamaru enjoyed watching. They drifted lazily ahead, uncaring of the tumultuous emotions that lurched inside the troubled blond's heart.
He was calmer now, though. It was like the initial disappointment and heartbreak gave way to resentful acceptance and resigned desolation.
It was too early; Sakura-chan would have been proud to see him already awake at this time of the morning. He has changed; he wasn't the slacker, class clown of the past; he wasn't the determined dreamer of Team Seven. He was now the jaded and worn-out Rokudaime Hokage, who was forced to answer the questions he threw at his best friend before.
After you accomplish your goal—what then?
He thought that it only applied to him and his lust for revenge. He never thought it would bounce back to him, and worse, he wasn't here.
He wasn't here, because he was already dead.
It was a fight that was destined to lose, Naruto recalled. The Snake Sannin was cruel and unforgiving even until the end: even when Sasuke successfully regained control of his stolen body, Orochimaru still managed to make them both perish.
Sasuke's body was already wounded from the blows exchanged during the fight with his older brother. Orochimaru was trying to dislodge Sasuke from controlling the body; after all, he never really planned on letting the younger Uchiha from extracting his revenge. It was simply unthinkable, because even the Legendary Snake himself was beneath Itachi's level of strength.
The blond couldn't bear to recall how Sasuke struggled for breath as he still wanted to kill Itachi even though he was already dying. Naruto could only remember pressing his face at the crook of his ex-teammate's pale neck, pulse slowing down into a terribly sluggish rate. He could remember himself saying the words of adoration and love that they both couldn't afford to say before.
He could remember Sasuke embracing him tightly, for the last few moments, because it was his last chance of redeeming the love that Naruto had reserved for him for the past years. He could still remember kissing Sasuke's deathly-cold lips, frozen like the ice atop the towering mountains.
He could still remember Itachi's voice when he surrendered to him, the Rokudaime.
I can pretend as my foolish little brother, Itachi suggested with a toneless voice, scarlet eyes frigid and hard when they gazed at him, hugging the younger Uchiha's corpse.
He could remember the defiant anger that he expressed, even though his insides were twisting with the possibilities Itachi offered. It was like something of a guilty pleasure—he knew it was wrong, but he still considered it.
He missed Sasuke, terribly.
It was the only reason why he found himself asking for the keys to the maximum security prison from Ibiki; it was the only reason why he unlocked the door to Uchiha Itachi's cell with a wordless invitation.
It was all because of his love for Sasuke.
He pressed his knees closer to his chest, so hard until they were already hurting. It was all right, he was always hurting.
He missed Sasuke.
He pressed his palm towards the grass that covered the area of the graveyard he was in. Four bouquets rested nearby, and he could smell the faint scent of the dull flowers.
He missed Sasuke, so, so much.
He clenched his fist, drawing into his hand some clumps of innocent grass-blades.
Near his other hand, lie a scroll with the seal of Konoha and the Rokudaime's signature.
He picked the scroll up, and embraced the tombstone, as though it was the person that laid down a couple of feet underneath.
He pressed his lips against the scratchy, earthy surface, and it wasn't hard to imagine that it was his most important person.
One knock, two knocks.
His tanned knuckle was suspended mid-air when the wooden door swung open to reveal a pink-haired woman with a bit-wide forehead. The sleepy frown on her face was replaced with a pleasantly surprised smile, and she instantly welcomed her friend into her house.
"What is it, Naruto?" She asked with genuine concern on her voice, ushering him into her messy living room. "Be quiet, though; Lee's still sleeping," Sakura added, fixing a place for the Rokudaime to sit. She seemed a bit lost as to what the Hokage wanted with her; it didn't seem official, since Naruto wasn't wearing his formal robes. She also looked surprised to see the blond this early.
"Do you mind standing?" Sakura asked after a couple of minutes of trying to find a place for the visitor to sit. Her living room and the adjoining kitchen was filled with animals and plants and herbs and scrolls and potions and tubes and mixers. She looked a bit embarrassed at being caught studying until this early into the morning. Faint lines of lack of sleep seeped beneath her emerald eyes.
Naruto smiled in that friendly manner of his, and shook his head. "I wouldn't be staying for long," He offered, the scroll tightly held between his strong hands.
Sakura looked sheepish, but she regained her composure. "So… what brings you here, so early today?" She asked, hands on her feminine hips.
"…If you said that you'd drop by, I could have cleaned a bit… I mean… I was still updating on my poison-anti-venom library… and…" She rambled on, eyes bright, even with the lack of sleep. She looked happy that Naruto was a bit more normal—a bit more like the Team Seven Naruto—today.
I know, Naruto refrained from saying that out loud. Of course he knew; he knew that Sakura-chan was going to update her records on the poisons and anti-venoms this week.
"Aa, I was just going to give you this," The blond said lightly, and passed the slightly-thick scroll, and dismissed Sakura's questioning glance with a wave.
"What is this, Naruto?" The emerald-eyed woman asked, worry lacing her tone. She really was a great friend.
"…I'm going now, Sakura-chan," He said, pleased when he heard Sakura's rapid footsteps to put away the scroll, to place it somewhere were the chemicals couldn't topple on it by accident.
He walked away from the Haruno residence, the scroll not on his hands, but a bottle with an opaque liquid instead.
He was back to his position earlier that day. The clouds were still aimlessly journeying, but for the blond, his journey has already ended when he failed to save his best friend. He wanted to be the Rokudaime—but he knew that he couldn't protect and rule the village if he's heart was too entangled with pains and pasts. It was cowardly, but it was also for the best.
He missed Sasuke.
The bottle that he discreetly stole from Sakura's bottles that lined her coffee table was now beside him, contents almost empty. He could feel the paralyzing effect crawling upwards; his chin felt a bit numb already. It seemed that he chose the correct bottle—it was working quite fast.
Being found by a Chuunin doing rounds would definitely be a blow to everything he did.
He fondly recalled telling Sasuke that he looked like his older brother—he said before they fought on top of that hospital roof—but he never expected things to be proven this way.
The four flower bouquets lay peacefully beside his dying form, petals dancing with the wind. He hoped that Kakashi-sensei didn't think that Sasuke's death was his fault. He hoped that Kakashi-sensei could help Iruka-sensei cope up with this. He hoped that Sakura wouldn't blame herself for this.
He hoped Itachi would forgive him for using him like this.
His eyes were a bit numb now, and his vision was blurry. He saw Sasuke standing a couple of meters before him, and before he could even blink, Sasuke was already beside him. He smiled a crooked smile, because now, finally, he was ready to accept the truth.
"You can remove the genjutsu now, Itachi," He said softly, addressing the older Uchiha by his true name, at last. He couldn't remember when was the last time he said the other's name. It was funny though, because as he squinted to see the other's face, the colors were blurred, and he couldn't see the eye-lines and he couldn't distinguish the blue from grey and the charcoal from ruby.
"Sasuke," Naruto whispered brokenly, feeling his skull grow numb. He felt a single drop of liquid on his cheek. It wasn't a tear—Itachi wouldn't cry. Maybe it was Sasuke? No, Sasuke didn't cry either. Maybe he was crying? He doesn't know. It's not like it matters.
His nerves are shutting down, and he could see the final two Uchihas' faces overlapped: the face of the person that he loved and loved him back; the face of the person that he hated but offered him his dream anyway.
With the last of the strength that he had—or maybe it was the Kyuubi's force, resisting this?—he pulled Itachi's head down to his, and he gave the other one first—and last—kiss. It was not love, but it was the only thing he could give.
His eyes completely blurred, leaving him with only the memory of Sasuke and Itachi's faces blurring into one another.
Thank you… Thank you, Itachi.
He didn't know if he still managed to smile. A pained, happy, free smile. One last time.
Thank you for letting me love Sasuke one last time.
It's long. Finished in an overall span of three-and-a-half hours. I deserve some cookies! XD;;;;
Yes, a couple of parts were vague. But I think they work well like that XD I rarely (and avoid) write Itachi, and this is my first time writing something that's not… SasuNaru… so, comments are deeply appreciated :)
Clarifications: Sasuke already died. Itachi offered to pretend as Sasuke. Naruto was Rokudaime. Naruto made Sakura the Seventh Hokage (from the scroll). Naruto committed suicide by drinking the potion he stole from Sakura.
StarsOfYaoi: I know that this most probably isn't the type of ItaNaru that you want… but -.-;;; Hahaha, I can't write anything too happy at the moment. Exams are a pain in the ass. Huhu.
Authoress' Notes: Yes, I know that I should be updating my other fanfics right now. This idea is just too… intriguing to not pass up. StarsOfYaoi said that the world will love me if I write an ItaNaru. Can you guys tell me how true is this? XD
Please review :)