Chapter 20: Saving An Old Friend

Black.. Everything was black.. at first. But suddenly it was warm.. Then just as the warmth had come, it was gone. She shivered in it's absence. Sakura needed that warmth because it made her feel safer than anything in this world. She felt lost without it's presence on her skin.

Slowly, she opened her eyes. It was bright and pain suddenly started to flow to every part of her body. She felt spit and blood mixed together in her mouth. She spluttered at the disgusting taste of the copper-flavored liquid.

It was quiet, and Sakura didn't know where she was as she slowly sat up in her place. But suddenly she heard gasps of surprise and shock. She was instantly surrounded by her blurry friends and teachers.

" S-sakura-chan?! Is that really you?! Are you ok?!" Hinata said, surprisingly with little stutters.

Sakura shook her head, ridding the fuzziness of her vision. She rubbed her head in pain at the newly developed headache she had gained. She nodded, but as she brought her hand down, she saw all the blood and her eyes widened in surprise.

" What happened?"

Kakashi decided it was time to explain to his student in which predicament they were in.

" Um.. Well. We all thought you had been killed by Itachi. Including Naruto and Sasuke.." Kakashi paused and sighed, ".. So they went after him for revenge.."

Sakura gasped in realization that it had been Naruto that had been holding her before and kept her warm, and it had left because he went for Itachi. He wanted revenge for my so called , 'Death'? Naruto..

" But.. What I don't get is how you are alive after all that. What was the whole point to Itachi's plan?" Yamato asked Sakura and Kakashi.

" I really don't know his intentions.. But we will find out. Let's go after Naruto and Sasuke." Kakashi answered.

They all nodded, but Sakura said,

" I'll catch up.. I need to clean up this blood off of me."

They once again all nodded and jumped after Naruto and Sasuke.

Sakura sighed, I sure hope they are ok..

Naruto and Sasuke

"Why the hell would you kill Sakura Itachi!" Sasuke yelled as he stabbed Itachi in the chest with his Katana.

Itachi pulled back from the feeble attempt of being attacked, and dodged Naruto's 7 tailed form.

" GRAHAHAHAHAGG!!!" Naruto yelled, as he swiped another blow at Itachi's face.

Itachi disappeared. Sasuke looked all around with his sharingan, to try and spot his brother.

" GRAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" Naruto yelled in frustration and had somehow managed to keep some of himself in his 7 tailed form.

Sasuke moved aside as one of Itachi's blows came at him from his blind spot. But, Sasuke couldn't dodge the attack completely, for Itachi had grazed his shoulder with one of his unique attacks.

Sasuke jumped away, but grasped his shoulder in pain as blood started to slide down his arm.

The clearing that the three had been fighting in, became silent as a graveyard. Suddenly Naruto's eight tail grew out, and all you could hear was the slow hissing of the burning skin. The smell became intoxicating and it reeked of death. If the ninth tail came out, Naruto would be lost forever, and the nine-tailed fox in his place..

Naruto.. You can't do this anymore! You'll lose yourself forever! No.. I gotta stop this!

Sasuke sucked in a breath he didn't know that he was holding and let go of his arm, to try and forget the pain as he went to get Naruto. He was about to get up, when Itachi appeared behind him.

" Now what do you think you are doing.. Little brother.."Itachi said, Sasuke turned in surprise. Out of the thought of Naruto, he had completely forgotten that they were fighting his brother.

But Sasuke disappeared before Itachi had a chance to strike him out cold.

Ok.. Now that Itachi's distracted, I can go and try to stop Naruto.

" As I was saying.. What are you doing?" Itachi said, as he appeared before Sasuke and in-between him and Naruto.

Sasuke glared at him, hating him even more. The more Itachi meddled in his life, the more he hated Itachi. He was the most evil person he had ever the pleasure of meeting. First he murders his entire clan, then he kills Sakura, then he stands in the way of Sasuke to go and stop Naruto from being lost too? What kind of person can do this all to you and not even care how much this person is hurting because of it? What kind of sick, twisted, evil, crazy bastard does all that to one person in more than half of their life?

Itachi.

Itachi doesn't care how much he hurt Sasuke, all he wants is for Sasuke to be miserable and have no one, so that he is drived to want revenge against him.

Sasuke felt his glare harden at the thought of losing Naruto too. He couldn't lose Naruto too. He was his best friend, and a better brother than Itachi ever was! No.. Itachi couldn't take him away too.. He wouldn't let him!

" Move Itachi." It was not a statement, it was a demand that looked like if it wasn't followed, there would be deadly consequences.

Itachi smirked at Sasuke.

" Now, why would I do that, when I need him to become the nine-tailed fox?"

Sasuke narrowed his eyes in anger, his sharingan blazing with hatred.

" Why would you need Naruto to do that?!!" Sasuke spat.

" Well, it would be easier then having to do the bijuu extracting ceremony. So, yes that is my whole reason I need him to become the nine-tailed fox." Itachi bluntly answered.

Sasuke couldn't tell you when he had been any angrier with anybody more than Itachi right now. He thought he hated Itachi before. But now, Itachi was actually ok with just using someone else to gain power, and not cared what happened to Naruto to gain it! Naruto had a rough life to begin with! He doesn't disserve this, and he doesn't disserve to die before he had his dreams come true. If it may have been someone else, anyone else, maybe Sasuke wouldn't be as mad. But this is Naruto we are talking about here!

Naruto is like his brother and he wants him to be happy! They share a strong bond with understanding and it was something very little people could comprehend. That's why they are so close. And that's why Sasuke wanted to kill Itachi on the spot for even standing in his way to help Naruto back to his senses.

Sasuke took in a deep breath and closed his eyes. He relaxed for a moment, before his eyes reopened with his sharingan. He felt the blood in his veins boil at the sight of his brother.

He was going to kill Itachi. And he was going to do it right now.

Sasuke slipped out of sight.

Itachi smirked and stood his ground, waiting for the attack.

Sasuke appeared behind Itachi, about to strike right through Itachi's heart.

Itachi looked back at Sasuke, and Sasuke glared with the utmost hatred in his eyes for Itachi back at him.

His katana zooming faster and faster towards its destination.

Spleck!!

-Sakura-

Sakura healed all of her cuts and bruises, which actually weren't too deep, it just seemed like a lot of blood. But it must have been from something else. Because it was not hers.

Sakura felt a needle on her neck. Sakura's eyes widened. Didn't Hauk, from our first mission, use this same technique on Zabrze to fake Zabuza's death? Why would Itachi want to pretend to kill me?

Sakura's eyes widened in realization. She had to get to Naruto and Sasuke, before it was too late.

Don't worry you two! I'm coming!!

Kakashi, Yamato, and Team 8-plus Sai

Each person in the group was swiftly making it's way towards the clearing that they sensed Naruto's chakra. No one spoke a single word. No one knew what they could say. Naruto was on a rampage, and they could feel it from there.

" .. Kakashi-Sensei?" Kiba began.

" Hm?" Kakashi looked back at the 15 year old.

" Will Naruto be ok..?" Kiba asked, worry written all over his face,

Kakashi gave the boy a smile.

" Of course Naruto will be ok, especially when he hears Sakura is alive." Kakashi replied.

It took Kiba a while to respond, but he said,

" Thanks Kakashi-sensei.."

Kakashi continued to smile as he jumped from tree to tree,

You have got to keep strong Naruto.. We are almost there. Please hold on. I will not see another of my precious comrades die again..

You have my word..

Naruto, Sasuke, and Itachi

Itachi dodged Sasuke's attempt at killing him, and instantly cut through the shadow clone. Sasuke growled in fury, he lunged forward to attack him. Itachi smirked and swiftly disappeared from sight. But, Sasuke could still sense him nearby somewhere.

Naruto was on a rampage, destroying everything in sight. Sasuke couldn't help but wince at his best friend in more pain than he's ever been in. Sakura was more important than anyone to Naruto, even more than Sasuke himself. And she was gone, never to bring a smile back to the face of his best friend. All the doing of Itachi's. Sasuke knew exactly the hatred Naruto felt for his brother, and he wanted revenge.

"Itachi! Why don't you just give it up, there is no way in hell you can take on Naruto in this state, and it's not like I'm going to be any help to you either." Sasuke shouted, whilst looking all around to see if he could catch any of Itachi's movements among the remaining trees.

A muffled reply came from all around him, not giving him any of the information on where Itachi may lie. Sasuke glared, turning around his eyes scanning the shaded trees to see what he wanted to get rid of the most.

"What if that is exactly what I want, huh, little brother..?"

Sasuke could feel Itachi's lips curl into a sneer as he spoke. It only fueled the vicious anger that poured out from his answer.

"And why would you want that you bastard!? Why??!"

Sasuke's eyes grew wide with shock and surprise as he sensed his brother right behind him, feeling the hot breath on his ear as Itachi spoke.

"Well, why wouldn't you want to kill me foolish little brother? I have done nothing but kill almost everything that was important to you."

Sasuke turned with the anger burning in his stomach, acid pumping in his veins as he heard Itachi's words. He gripped onto his Katana with all his strength, and roared with anticipation as he plunged it straight into Itachi's heart. Sasuke's eyes grew wide when he saw blood escape the corner of Itachi's mouth, realizing that this was real, he had achieved his lifelong goal in killing his brother in the revenge of everything he had done to hurt him so. Sasuke's shocked wide eyes turned to ones that were full of peace, at finally doing something right. He pulled his long katana free, seeing it was bloodstained covering its usual silver shine. It was surreal, the feeling Sasuke had coursing through him at the moment, and the peace of finally able to live like a normal shinobi.

Itachi stumbled backward and fell to his knees. Itachi looked over at Naruto, and gave a small smile. He threw a paper that zeroed on Naruto's forehead, causing Naruto's form to swerve, and fall to the floor, slowly turning back to his normal self.

Sasuke looked down at Itachi, to see his expression before he died. But Sasuke's eyes widened in surprise again. Itachi didn't look at all surprised, but he did look grateful. And that's what was so surprising, you'd think someone about to die would be all mad at their killer, but Itachi looked just like Sasuke had felt. Peaceful.

"I-itachi! W-wha-?" Sasuke mouthed, but couldn't really get the words out.

Itachi smirked at his brother, finally able to tell Sasuke everything.

"Foolish little brother.. I wanted to die, by your hands.. It was simply the easiest way to die." Itachi answered.

This only confused Sasuke more. He shook his head and dropped his katana on the floor and looked at his dying brother to understand what exactly he meant by how he wanted to die. He fell onto his back, wincing at the pain.

"Why the hell Itachi? D-don't you want to kill me?"

"I would never want to kill you Sasuke, you are too important to me.."

"What? What do you mean?" Sasuke yelled at his brother. He scrutinized him, looking at him as if he was insane.

"Sasuke, did you ever think that this could be a ruse?"

"H-huh?" Sasuke said with shock.

"Sasuke, all I ever wanted for you was to be strong. Stronger than me, stronger than anyone you, or I, know of. And I know one day you could be. So I had to make you strong, even if you had to hate me. Even if I had to kill our family. They were replaceable. I knew you would grow strong from that hatred, strong enough.. To kill me.. To make you a strong shinobi for Konoha.. But that girl friend of yours and Naruto-Kun's of course was a set up of course.. I could see you two could not live without her, so I spared her.."

Sasuke froze from ere shock. Itachi had been a good person all along.. He just wanted Sasuke to become a great shinobi, even though he would die..

With a small smile, the shine in Itachi's eyes started to fade as he stared up into his younger brother's sad face. Sasuke couldn't help the tears that fell slowly down his cheek. His eyes squinting in pain at the overwhelming feeling he felt as he stared down at Itachi. He couldn't help but feel horrible for hurting his brother.

"But don't think that you were to blame for my death," Itachi said as if he were reading Sasuke's mind.

Sasuke's eyes went wide with surprise.

"How can I not? It was my katana that sliced into your heart."

"I would never let you kill me by your own hand with you own strength without my own choosing.. After all, you have never been able to.. Beat me.. I will always be stronger than you. Always will be.." Itachi said with a smile before raising his blood stained fingers to flick his little brother's forehead one more time.

Like always, a habit, even if it had been so long ago, Sasuke winced as Itachi flicked his forehead. He looked at his brother as he smiled, his eyes slowly closing.

".. Foolish.. Little.. brother…"

Itachi's eyes closed as his hand fell from Sasuke's forehead, down to the ground, taking his last breath with it.

Sasuke could feel blood on his forehead, where Itachi had flicked him but, it didn't bother him really. He felt tears slide down his cheeks, but he smiled. By saying Itachi chose to die at that time, he was saying that he forgave Sasuke for killing him. Rain drops slowly began to descend from the graying clouds. Crying for the death of his brother.

"Ni, brother, why do you always flick my forehead?"

Team Kakashi, Team 8

"It looks like Naruto has been cut off from the nine tails Yamato." Kakashi said as they were nearing the clearing Sasuke and Naruto were.

Yamato nodded and said,

"And it seems that Itachi must have gotten away, or had been killed. His chakra is no where nearby."

They all nodded and hoped for the latter.

After a few more jumps, they finally made it to the clearing. They jumped down to expect the area.

Everyone's eyes went wide. Itachi laid dead on the floor, Sasuke leaning over him with the rain pouring over him. His katana was a little covered with blood still. They looked all around to see where Naruto was. A little ways away, Naruto laid on his stomach, face on the side, clearly knocked out. Kakashi looked at Yamato, and he nodded. He went over to Naruto, along with Hinata and Kiba.

Sai and Kiba followed Kakashi to where Sasuke sat by Itachi.

".. I killed my brother.. But he says, he was only planning to do everything he did to make me stronger than him, to kill him.. In the end.." Sasuke whispered, but still looked down at his brother.

Kakashi nodded, knowing Sasuke knew what he did.

".. How's Sakura doing..?" Sasuke asked.

"..Actually, she is doing great. A lot better than what she was before.." Sai answered with a smile.

".. Yeah." Sasuke said, standing up.

It was then that Yamato came with Naruto on his back.

"Naruto's out like a light. It looked like he's mostly healed, but he will be in pain for awhile." Yamato answered Kakashi's unanswered question.

Kakashi smiled, and nodded.

"Of course you two would head off into a battle without thinking.. Its impossible for you not to." Kakashi said, his eye showing he was smiling under his mask.

"Tch.. I'm not like the dobe at all." Sasuke said with a sneer, but looked away from everyone.

".. I heard that teme!" Naruto growled as he opened his eyes.

"I don't care.. It's not like its not true.." Sasuke said, sneering at Naruto.

"Tch.. Whatever teme.."

Sasuke looked into Naruto's eyes and saw sorrowfulness in them that went deep beyond anything he's seen in anyone's eyes. He winced at the feeling he got when staring into them, like it was his katana stabbing him a million times all over the place. He tried to glance away from the pain, to escape it somehow. But he knew he couldn't abandon his best friend like that. He had to be there for him. Then realization struck him, and he was about to open his mouth when someone spoke for him.

".. Naruto?"

Naruto's eyes widened at the voice. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He thought she had died in his arms before. Naruto looked all around to find the source of that voice. Finally, after looking everywhere, he spotted her, his eyes widening even more and his mouth dropped in sheer surprise.

Sakura Haruno stood right in front of him, arms behind her back, and her smiling bright at him.

"S-sakura-chan?" Naruto asked as he struggled out of Yamato's grip. He made his way over to her quickly, even though he winced a lot of the time. When he made his way over there, Sakura hit him, knocking him to the floor.

"It-tai!! S-sakura-chan, why? I'm injured" Naruto said, groaning on the floor.

"Because you're injured and you ran all the way over to me while hurting yourself further, you baka!" Sakura explained with her brows furrowed and hands on her hips.

"But you just hurt me!" Naruto whined.

Sakura sighed.

"Well you were already hurt, I didn't see how it could be worse if I injured you one more time."

"Aww.. But Sakura-Chan..!" Naruto whined, while everyone sweat dropped.

Everyone decided to head a little away to give them some room to talk. Hinata secretly holding Kiba's hand as they walked away. They were both blushing. Somehow they both had come to like each other a lot.

With everyone gone, Naruto stood up, wincing a little, and hugged Sakura tight. Sakura blushed at the contact, but wrapped her arms around his waist and held tight. It was such a sweet tender moment, a moment Naruto didn't think would ever happen again.

"I am so happy that you are ok Sakura.." Naruto whispered to her as he closed his eyes and squeezed her once more before he let go of her, but kept one of her hands. He looked down at it, and realized how soft it was. Sakura was still flushed as his eyes made their way back to hers. A smile made its way onto her face.

"I'm happy that you are too.. You always rush into things Naruto.."

"Yeah.. I know.." Naruto said with a nervous smile and scratching the back of his neck.

".. But that's just one of the many things that I love about you Naruto.." Sakura said quietly.

Naruto grinned brightly, a blush making its way onto his face.

".. So.. Do you love me Sakura..?" Naruto asked looking down at his feet.

".. "

Naruto looked up to see her eyes.

",,Of course I do silly.. I've always loved you, you baka." Sakura said while closing her eyes and smiling.

Naruto took a breath of relief.

".. G-good, then I guess it's alright if I do this?"

Sakura looked completely confused.

"D-do wh-ha-?"

Naruto leaning in towards Sakura, caressing her face with his right hand, and pulling her closer towards him by wrapping his left hand on Sakura's waist, he brushed his lips over Sakura's. His hot breath tickling her begging lips. Sakura blushed at the unexpected move of Naruto's. When it came to stuff like this, Naruto was such a klutz. But at that moment, he was making her feel so nervous. Sakura's eyes closed as Naruto's lips touched Sakura's soft pink lips. The heat and static was unimaginably, unbearably sweet. Sakura had never felt anything like this in her life. Sakura wrapped her arms around Naruto's neck, pulling him closer to deepen the kiss that she couldn't get enough of.

' I love you..'

' I love you..'

They whispered in their minds to each other.

What they didn't know was that Team Kakashi had stayed behind to see if they got together, and when they kissed they all smiled and turned to give them some privacy.

"Now that Itachi's dead, what are you going to do Sasuke?" Kakashi asked as they walked away.

"I guess.. I'll go back to Konoha with you guys.. I don't have anywhere else to go.." Sasuke shrugged as the team all nodded.

"You'll probably get probation or something.." Yamato said, while Sasuke just shrugged again.

"Well, you got lucky an old friend decided to save you after everything that's happened.. I see Naruto's perspective about you a little now.." Sai commented.

"Yeah.. I guess.." Sasuke answered.

Sasuke looked behind him to see Naruto and Sakura still wrapped in each other's arms; he could see the peaceful happiness on Naruto's face when he was with Sakura. It was as if he in his own little world with Sakura. He gave a small smile that Naruto was happy finally. Maybe it had been worth saving his old friend by letting him have Sakura, even if he was and idiot. He realized that he could live peacefully now and live a normal life. But Saving an Old Friend was probably one of the most right things he has ever done in his still young life. No.. He was sure it was.

End

Hehehehe.. Um.. *gulps* I am SOOOOO sorry!!! I know I haven't updated in, like forever!! Yeah, I guess I really didn't know exactly how I was going to make this end, and yeah, so I put it off. I guess I put it off for too long, hehehe.. Sorry..! Yeah well, since I really don't want to write anymore for this story, this will be the last chapter of this story. So thank you all for waiting for the final awaited chapter! And those I disappointed by that news I am truly sorry I have upset you. I just don't know what else to write, and well this would make the story and even 20 chapters, so that's good.

Well, I had started this chapter after putting up my last chapter, but I hadn't gotten very far because I didn't know how to make it go on. So yeah, I quit for a bit to try and think of how to make it right, but that turned out to be a really long wait. So, yeah, I am sorry again for not getting this out sooner. But it's my first complete chapter story, so I am happy I decided to finish it. Oh, and I'm also sorry if it seemed a little rushed, seriously I am, but it's all I could to. So I apologize for that as well. I hope you enjoyed it anyways, and I want to thank all the people that have read it all from the beginning. It was my first story I had posted up on ff, so I am happy it is done.

Sorry again for everything, including this long rant, but thanks also for reading! :D

R&R

Luv you all always,

XoXo ninchick01