A/N: Well, since I got some reviews that said I should continue, I decided to take this a little further and see how it goes. I'm really flattered. Honest. SOOOO…… Hope you guys support me! LOL. XD
Disclaimer: Nep, never owned Naruto……sadly……ok, don't rub it in……
Chapter 2: Regret
Everything was normal, in fact, everything was better than normal to everyone else in the village. The Uchiha prodigy was back, and now that they had him, they had less to fear of enemies trying to attack the village.
Kakashi for one seemed really glad. And all the routines were carried out like before. Team 7 merely met up with one another, chatted, gossiped, trained, carried out missions, on a whole, things couldn't seem much more perfect, yet, Tsunade knew……the boy was hurt.
She knew that smile. He used it whenever he wanted to hide himself from others. He was retreating back into his shell, to prevent himself from hurting. And for the first time since being Hokage, she regretted her decision to pursue Uchiha Sasuke. She didn't know why, but the constant twitching of eyebrows told her something bad was about to happen. Sadly, that sense of hers always proved her right.
She couldn't care less about what happened to the Uchiha, Naruto was more of her concern. That kid……somehow, she felt that Naruto lost his energy of all a sudden. Yes, he was still constantly badgering everyone else in the village, yet……it's just……well……
"Tsunade-sama. The council's waiting for you." Shizune spoke up.
She took in a deep breath; she really didn't want to deal with the old geezers now, but then, being the Hokage does have its disadvantages.
"All right. I'll be there in about two minutes……"
"You think that kid actually succeeded?"
"Hmph. He better."
"Aww, caring for him?"
"You know as well as I do, that he's nothing but trash. A useless piece of trash, but that's it."
"So according to plan, chaos should start around midnight huh. Meh, this mission took us a month. It's been pretty boring when I don't get to kill people."
"Hey, you think that's the signal?"
Back in Konohagakure……
Kakashi sighed as he watched this scene. It just didn't felt right. Naruto no longer had the sparkle in his eyes whenever he called out Sakura's name. Also, the suffix was left out. And even though he hated to admit it, the greeting between Sasuke and Naruto lost the……fire within it. No emotions. Just a plain greeting. No happiness. He had no idea what to do. It actually seemed much better when it was a three-man team, with Naruto, Sakura and himself.
Naruto seems lost in his own thoughts all the time now. Sometimes, he wondered. Where was the Naruto that was supposed to be active, happy and noisy at all times? And even though he knew the answer, he really didn't want to accept it.
The reason would be because that kind of Naruto never existed. He pretended to be happy even when he was sad. He was noisy so that he could get attention. He was active to get himself into top condition for any obstacles that might come his way unexpectedly. You never knew what would happen with yourself being a Jinchuuriki.
Kakashi knew it was partially his fault. Scratch that. It WAS his fault for not showing more concern for Naruto. He taught Sasuke most of his techniques in the hope that Sasuke would not want to go over to the evil side just to gain power. He even taught the guy advanced chakra control techniques such as Form manipulation and Elemental Manipulation.
Come to think about it, all he ever taught Naruto was how to control his chakra to enable him to walk vertically up a tree. He winced at the thought of only catching up in his training with Naruto when Sasuke left. Yet, Naruto never said a word about it, but he knew that deep in his heart, Naruto must have been heartbroken. Not only was he constantly rejected by Sakura, his sensei too neglected to give him training. He could only imagine how that felt.
Sakura noticed how Naruto always looked away whenever they met. Also, there was no more enthusiastic "Sakura-chan!" No, there was only a quiet, reserved, "Sakura." She bit her lips. This was not how she intended it to be. She knew Naruto liked her in a way more than a friend. She noticed it yet, she did not tell him. Where's the point? She would always tell herself. I belong to Sasuke-kun….right?
But now, she was beginning to regret her decision of totally ignoring Naruto's affections when she was young. How could she have not noticed him?! He would risk anything, even his life, just to save her. He proved that by going against another Jinchuuriki just to save her. That Jinchuuriki also happens to be the Kazekage of Sunagakure. Subaku no Gaara.
Sakura was unsure of her feelings towards Naruto and kept telling herself that it was just respect for him. But then, why was she feeling so down when Naruto wouldn't look at her, and why does it feel like her heart's being torn apart whenever he had that look on his face. The look of sorrow and melancholy. She really missed the old Naruto who would always pay her his utmost attention. She felt really good that way. WHY?
She knew. Yet, she didn't dare to go any further. This isn't right. Naruto's just my friend. Besides Sasuke-kun is back…… Those were the stuff she kept telling herself. However, just one look at Naruto's sad face was enough to bring tears to her eyes. No. This was not the way she wanted it to be. She had thought that with Sasuke back, Team 7 would be ready to go like before and the happiness would return. But that didn't happen for Naruto. It seemed as if all he felt was bitterness. He would no longer voice his opinions anymore, just going along with whatever they suggested.
And the worst part was……Sakura somehow felt that it was all her fault………
Naruto just wanted it all to end. Maybe suicide would be a good solution. Nah. The stupid kitsune would not agree to it anyway.
'Damn right I wouldn't!'
'I didn't ask for your opinion."
'Look kid. I don't care. Just stop thinking all these thoughts, you're driving me insane!'
'You are insane. You are kyuubi. You massacred my village. I got blamed for it. How sane are you?'
'Hey. I said I pity you, don't take my kindness for granted. I forbid you to have any negative thoughts! Especially because of that girl! Just grab her and run away or something. You humans are so complicated. If I were you, I would just tell her and get it over with.'
'Look, she's with Sasuke. I brought Sasuke back so that she can be back. She……she only loves him. I knew that three years ago.'
And as flashes of that scene came back, it took all of his willpower to stop him from breaking down at that particular moment.
"You're too late Sakura. Tsunade-sama specifically ordered that you stay out of this mission."
"I know. Naruto, before you leave……please! Promise me that you'll bring him back! I've tried, I've tried but he doesn't listen to me. Please, I know that only you can bring him back! Promise me Naruto!"
Naruto could only stare at the tears on Sakura's face. And of course, given the situation, what would you do if you were Konohagakure's no. 1 random ninja?
He gave a tiny smile, but anyone could tell it was bitter. "So……that's how you feel about Sasuke. You really love him, don't you? I understand……totally……how you feel right now."
He then changed back to his usual grin, "No problem! I'll bring Sasuke back to you if that's the last thing I do! It's a promise!" And with that, they had proceeded on with the mission……which of course, earned him a chidori in his right lung……
He slapped his hand over his eyes, 'Ha. Well, I never go back on my word. I'm starting to doubt myself now. I'm pathetic.' He thought once more as he continued to stare at the clouds drifting freely above. At least now he knows why Shikamaru loves to watch the clouds……
'You know kid. I really have to say it. You are one amazing shinobi. Hmph. I don't think even the fourth would be able to withstand such pressure throughout the years.'
'Well, well, baka kitsune actually praises me. What is it that you're up to?'
'Heh. Sensed it huh?'
'I know I'm dumb, but I'm not THAT dumb.'
'Look, here's the thing. I don't trust that Uchiha.'
'Would you give it a rest?'
'Listen. I know what I'm talking about. Just……be alert kid. Don't want you to go off killing yourself, acting like a hero and stuff……not when I'm in you at least.'
Naruto pondered those words. Sasuke is suspicious? He sighed, well, not much he can do about it can he? It's not like he can just go up to him and like, "Hey! What are you up to? You didn't just come back here for friendship eh?"
Pft. That would be as bad as the villagers putting him down. No. He would take the risk. He would not doubt him, and if it turns out that he does have something else up his sleeve……he'll make sure, that he will be the one to kill him.
With Jiraiya and Tsunade……
"Look, Tsunade. Just listen to me this once. I swear I saw Kisame and Deidara outside Konohagakure. Itachi might be here as well, seeing how he was paired up with Kisame. And the reason……"
"Jiraiya! Enough. This……I already know. What I'm not happy about is the next sentence you're going to say."
"You and I both know that this happened because that Uchiha brat is back."
"I want you to put four Anbu on his case straight away. I would rather not risk the chance. I prefer Naruto in one piece thank you."
"And you think I don't?! It's just……the council. That bastard Danzou actually wants the Uchiha brat to become the sixth Hokage. And of course, he had got the whole council going his way. So sending an Anbu team tailing him is not happening, as much as I want it to."
"Isn't nominating the next Hokage your job?"
"I know……but apparently, the advisors feel that since Danzou and Sarutobi-sensei were from the same generation, and hold approximately the same political power, they were willing to listen to him as well……and since well, you know who I'm going to nominate………"
Jiraiya sighed. Leave it to the old geezers to screw things up. He stared at Tsunade for a second, and noticed how her usually strong appearance is faltering. She looks so weak and frail right now, so helpless, so tired. And he knew, she was desperate. She wanted Naruto to be acknowledged by everyone in the village, and even though half the village did just that, the other half remains stubborn, insisting that the boy was nothing but a demon.
He moved over to her slowly and allowed her to melt into his embrace. Just this once, he closed his eyes, just this once, he would let himself be her pillar……and he had no idea, that was what Tsunade was thinking at that moment…………
Back with Team 7……
"Yosh! We've officially finished our C-rank mission. Say, how about we all go out for dinner before I dismiss you guys?" Kakashi intended to use this opportunity to get the teamwork spirit back again. And he smirked, "Ichiraku Ramen is tonight's special! My treat. I won't disappear after eating this time."
Sakura knew what Kakashi was trying to do and therefore immediately agreed with great enthusiasm. Sasuke saw it too, and though he never really liked Ramen……he suppose he COULD put up with it for just this once.
Now, Kakashi thought that even Sasuke has agreed, there's going to be no problems right? Wrong.
Naruto scratched his head and grinned sheepishly, "Er……gomen ne, Kakashi-sensei. But I really have to catch up on training with Ero-sennin tonight. He's leaving soon remember. You guys……have fun without me! Ja ne!" And with that, he sprinted towards the Hokage Tower, leaving the other three of Team 7 in disbelief.
Kakashi sighed, no way Naruto just rejected Ramen. And if his sharingan noticed correctly……tears were about to well up in the blond boy's eyes when he said the last sentence. This is bad. Real bad. And somehow, he couldn't get rid of the feeling that he felt this afternoon, that it was all his fault……
Sakura gasped at Naruto's fast exit. She was hurt, couldn't the baka see that they were trying to get together again? But……what's with the intense amount of pain behind those cerulean orbs? Why...why does it feel so nostalgic? Where had she seen that look before……? And most importantly, why does she care?
Of course, she cared as a friend, but this time, it felt different. Not the immature way of just going, "Hey! Naruto! What's wrong with you?!" And with the baka replying, "Nothing! I'm as good as ever Sakura-chan." That doesn't happen anymore. They were sixteen years old now. And she couldn't help but wonder why Naruto was so anxious in leaving the three together, without him. Surely, surely he must understand that Team 7 will never be complete without him right? RIGHT?!
But……Sakura sighed. It wasn't really for her to judge Naruto. No, she never gave him any attention in the past, so what right does she have to talk about the way Naruto acts? She doesn't know why, but lately, she found herself caring more about Naruto more than anyone else, even Sasuke. The way Naruto hid his pain confused her, yet the reason behind this pain totally baffled her. Didn't he bring Sasuke back? Shouldn't he be happy along with her? Why isn't everything going according to how she pictured it?
Life……can be harsh……and for the first time in her life, she got the full meaning of that sentence.
"Gasp…gasp………damn it. DAMN IT!" Naruto hollered in the forest. He wanted peace, he wanted love, he wanted the pain to go away. Sadly, none of those happened. All he got, was more pain. He couldn't believe how the mere sight of Sakura, Sasuke and Kakashi smiling as they did their usual missions made his heart ache.
The scene was perfect. Sasuke's usual smirk, Kakashi's lame grin, and of course, Sakura's wonderful smile. Perhaps……perhaps it was too perfect. Till the point that even if he was left out, it still looked ideal. It was as though he never really belonged to the team. He didn't fit. No. He couldn't get himself to fit into that scene, as much as he tries. He realizes that maybe, he shouldn't fit.
After all, Sasuke was back, so he was back to his lame old self…right? He should be acting carefree and happy all day long right? But……it was just……too tiring. He did it to gain attention, to let others think that he's just a dumb, idiotic blond. But now……what's the point in acting anymore? Why should he pretend to be all joyful and content when every bloody thing in this whole world is against him?! WHY?!
He knew it would come down to this. The moment Sasuke was brought back by him, he knew this would happen. Haha. Life's a bitch alright. He knew it ever since he was born. He fought against fate and maybe even won a few times. Yet this time……he feels lost. He doesn't even know what he's fighting for anymore. The villagers obviously like the Uchiha more, and all attention would be turned to him, and of course, the fan girls would turn crazy once again.
It all seemed normal in any village. Everyone going about their daily business, not caring about anything else, with everyone only giving a damn about themselves and their friends. Yes, it was ordinary. But to Naruto, not having anyone even so much as look at him……even if it was with contempt, not having anyone to care for your well-being, no one to ask, "Hey, how ya been?", that……is pure nightmare.
And no way in hell, does he want to experience that……not again. Not when he finally found friends, friends who released him from his oblivion……no.
Ironic isn't it? His friends and loved ones were the ones that saved him……yet. The ones who are going to ignore him……ha. Life's unfair. If you think that it's just that simple……you've got a lot to learn.
"It's time. Forgive me. Naruto." And with a burst of fireworks, Sharingan was activated. Let it begin.
SO! How was that? Satisfactory? Hope so. LOL. Anyways, give me a shout if you feel that it sux, an imaginary pat if you think I did pretty gd. Up to you. Well, then. See ya! XD