This story is dedicated to two old friends of mine with whom I wish I could spend more time together just like in the good old days.
Hopefully, our bond hasn't been shattered yet.
I often found myself sitting next to the dusty road in the hot summer sun, watching you from the distance playing with the others. I saw you laughing, running and dancing in the grass with your new friends. I saw you sitting at the ramen stand with them eating and telling stories, going swimming with them in the river near-by, even having sleep over parties.
You remember that old tree house? The one in the tall oak in the middle of the forest? The one you, me and Tsunade made together? It took us two months filled with tears and blood to make it. Every time one of the branches broke, we had to remake it again. But it was only us and nobody else. One day we were tired of rebuilding it. Tsunade yelled at me, since I accidentally broke one of the branches. It was my fault the whole house fell down and got destroyed. Our work for the past few months went down the drain in only a few seconds, because of me.
You were the one who smiled and helped me up. You told Tsunade to stop. You believed it was an accident and nothing more, you didn't believe in my blame. You forgave me and gave me another chance. We rebuilt the house a few weeks later. It survived during the war. How amusing. It shattered when I left. How ironic.
Can you still remember that little incident with the women's bathing area? Because I still can. And I bet that Tsunade does also. It was your bright idea to peek at the kunoichies while they were relaxing. Quite a sad incident that sensei's sister was there also. It was a very curious day. You ran half the villages while screaming apologies and compliments which were taken more like insults than anything else by the kunoichies. I was the one who saved you that day. You remember, don't you? It was a close call but we made it. When you asked why I helped you, I answered that I had to pay my debt. But I never told you what the true reason was. You were my friend.
It wasn't long until we got that mission from sensei to spend a night in the forest. Tsunade got lost while searching for firewood and slipped down a hill into the cold river. We barely managed to save her, you know? You jumped in the wild water like a mindless idiot and grabbed her just in time. The waterfall was approaching quickly and I had to think of a way to save you two or else I would have lost my precious persons. It was then that I decided to show my new powers. I barely managed to yell "Hidden Shadow Snake Hand!" when black snakes appeared from my arms and grabbed you two just before falling in the waterfall.
I was very young when I learned that technique. You two promised not to tell sensei what I did. Not because of fright or terror but because you were … my friends.
You trusted that I would never turn against you; you thought that things would remain the same forever; you thought that we will remain together; you thought that our friendship will not shatter!
But you were wrong. The moment time passed fast and we grew up, we separated. I often watched you make new friends and play with them more, especially that Sakumo brat. You two had so much fun together you forgot about the others. Tsunade also turned into a lovely lady and started making friends with the other kunoichies while dedicating herself to learning medical jutsus.
You two stopped coming to our tree house meetings, something you proclaimed as a 'duty for us to come here every Saturday and talk about the week's events!' I often found myself sitting in the tree house by my own, curled up alone, waiting for somebody to come. I spent nights there, thinking and waiting. In the end…nobody came.
After that, I stopped watching you two. I didn't care what you and Sakumo did. I didn't care that Tsunade was spending a lot of time with the other girls, ignoring her studies, just like you did. I stopped watching, I stopped asking, I stopped caring. I simply didn't want to know. Time had broken us apart. It didn't have to separate us suddenly, because something would always remain within us, regretting and fighting to get together again. But slowly, time had managed to shatter our bond. Something I never managed to do before.
Sensei started running after us, from one side of the village to another to get us together for practice. He always came after me the last. Because he always knew where I was, hidden away in the old tree house, reading complicated scrolls while listening to the forest's voice. There were times when he also stopped carrying, even if I arrived at the meeting place in time. He never showed up and neither did you two. He began to think you didn't care anymore. And maybe you didn't.
I stopped coming also. I decided it was time I taught myself. The library became a second home to me. Every night I would come to the tree house, my arms filled with scrolls of all kinds and learned. I studied hard and never gave up, because I wanted to prove to you that it was possible to be together again, just like the old times. In the end, the power for more knowledge pulled me away from my goal and I found myself slipping into darkness more and more. And nobody was there to pull me back.
The light stopped shinning for me.
The rain continued to fall as my eyes memories complicated and old words, as my fingers brushed the antique scrolls. I had no reason to stop. I knew deep inside that I could prove you how wrong you were. But I slipped. I fell and couldn't stop from screaming. Useless did I try to grab on old memories of us together as a team, laughing and joking. My hand slipped on the tears. And I fell into darkness.
I wanted to know more. I started aiming for things impossible for man like eternity. I would prove them wrong, just like I wanted to prove you. I would become the greatest, most respected and most known ninja. I did become like that but not the way I wanted. But I didn't care, as long as people knew me for my strength and intelligence, I was happy. Happy I proved them wrong! I was happy! But was it worth it?
When sensei first found me in that dark chamber, experimenting on fellow Leaf warriors like myself, I knew my time had ended and I had to flee. I proved my sensei wrong; I was not fit to carry the Torch of Fire. I was not fit to be a ninja. I was nothing but a malefic snake, waiting in the dark, stalking its victim until it died by my fangs in the slowest painful death possible.
While running away through the forest, I didn't shed a tear for the people I had killed, but for myself, for what I had become and for what I could have been. That was when I met up with you again. You jumped in front of me, in all your pride. You seemed disappointed in me. You had lost your trust and faith in me. But I didn't care; I had lost mine long time ago. And because of you, Jiraiya, because of you and Tsunade.
Look in my eyes and see the ruins of my world. The pain, the anger, the betrayed, the dead walking among my memories, spilling tears of blood. All because you two forgot. You forgot the most important thing. What we could have been, what we are now, all because of our shattered friendship. All because of you!
Now I gaze over my dark lands from the highest tower in the middle of nowhere. I feel stronger than before. My abilities know no limit. I can life forever. I cannot be defeated. I am known and respected because of fear wherever my name echoes. I am a traitor, a murdered and a liar. I know no limit of evil.
Yet, whenever I think of you two, why do I feel that something is missing?
Why do I wake up screaming during the night, wishing you were dead?
Why did this bond, after all these years of pain and loneliness, survive?
Thank you Jade for being my Beta for this story. You're awesome!