Edited: 03/19/2011 for some grammar fixing.
StarsOfYaoi: I have a soft spot for this piece in my heart, probably because it was one I truly struggled to write. I hope you enjoy my hard work, then.
Warnings: yaoi. Male x male. Inconsistency. Mentions of parallel worlds. Don't flame if you don't like.
Disclaimer: hate Karin. I dislike Sasuke. so I can't be the author. Because he worships Sasuke and created Karin. I would never do something as stupid.
–Flashbacks, memories, dreams–
And life dances on.
Moving to a rhythm you can't hear, demanding a price of a thousand million gasping breaths…
Waking up every day to a new dawn.
Walking down a straight line, without being able to turn to a new direction, always wishing to change yet always wishing to stay the same…
Without control. Ever.
There are many legends travelling through. Legends that speak of the deathly Kitsune Youkai, Fox Demons, living in mounts and deep valleys, pranking and laughing at the expenses of the poor men who dared walking into their territories, otherwise simply enjoying their free, wild lives.
Where the foxes would come to play, no human dared to go, no animal either, unless equally gifted or cursed, would dare to trespass, such was their fear of the kitsune…
At the same time, though, humans couldn't just stay away –because just as much as fear, there was a deep allure of power, of beauty, the irresistible need to see with their own eyes, and believe, and feel.
Strong was the terror, stronger was the desire.
The kitsune were said to have the ability to transform into humans, only to lure out and kidnap those who would happen upon them
The kitsune also loved to trick the villagers into following their traces round and round until they got lost, their souls trapped forever in an endless circle of chase
Peaceful if not attacked, playful if not angered, they were respected and deified, dancing to the tune of Nature…
But all the same, kitsune were despised. Despised because they could not truly discern good and bad –tricking until it wasn't acceptable anymore, playing until there was no fun in it anymore…
But worse was… kitsune were said to rule over time and space –able to recognise every line and its possible futures, unable to predict, only to observe as one choice was picked, and then their eyes could flicker to all the other possible choices.
There was no advice they could give and thus, unable to warn, not trusted by humans because their tricks rendered them unreliable, they could offer no help.
The kitsune, in the end, were left to their plays.
And so we wait.
Left alone in regret.
It had always started with silence, the kind of silence that can deafen, one that no noise is able to break –a silence so thick and dense that it made it hard to breathe. Weighting down on his chest, pressing down, squeezing his lungs into submission.
A prelude to chaos.
It was a single instant, one moment stolen from his life, filling it with an eerie silence that wouldn't otherwise exist; in that moment, all his life rushed through him, his past stretching out of his carefully set boundaries to choke him, intense, sharp.
In that instant, all his choices, the ones he made, the ones he chose not to make… everything rushed painfully towards him.
Naruto lived a life so full he didn't have time to think –there was only space for action or reaction, not for second thoughts, because it was not required of him to think or feel the guilt.
His decisions spread from him like a disease, ripples in the water of his life, one causing another, erasing or mixing together, blending into nothingness, changing the lives of those around him together with his own.
He moved on like he didn't care, but he knew well that it would come a day when he'd have to pay the full price for each and every one of his decisions.
In that one second, all of this was painfully clear –lasting a lifetime.
He couldn't stop, wouldn't stop…
Yet in that one moment, out of reality, he wasn't able to push everything away anymore. It only lasted an instant in truth, but his whole life crumbled down every single time, forcing him to stop and think and analyze.
The ripple could come any time –during battle, whilst he evaded a kick aimed at his chest, or maybe while he walked through a forest, in no company other the one of a few chirping birds…
Then the silence would engulf him, so powerful and sharp, and the world would suddenly shift out of focus before plunging into a throbbing darkness, his entire life slowing down into a single heartbeat; for that mere second, he was aware of everything he was, everything he could have been and everything he was not –his brain exploding with notions and sheer understanding…
A heartbeat. Then another.
Burning its way up to his lips like flames, as he tried in vain to fight the ripple–
Then the images would assault him, with the strength and the ferocious aggressiveness of a starving animal, eating away his soul until nothing was left –a new birth only a breath away, that second that stretched over and then abruptly ended, throwing him into his normal life once again, unchanged and yet at the same time, different.
Flashes and memories would pass in front of wide eyes, his mind parting to let knowledge come and reside there, words and colours and actions and feelings all mixed together until nothing made sense anymore –the incessant flow being the only thing that mattered.
Drowning him. Destroying his sanity.
Naruto knew that he couldn't lose himself, because if he lost control, he wouldn't be able to come back –no matter how enticing those visions were, there was nothing he could possibly do.
Those were not his.
Those didn't belong to him. They never did.
It was just a painful, obvious revelation.
Still, after so much time spent in denial, he'd slowly grown to enjoy those rare moments where he was allowed to see and touch and taste things that for him could never be –insanity plunging down at his heart like a hawk on its prey– because as rare as those moments were, they were different, counting as a lifetime.
The ripple was a new world every time, stunning him and allowing him to live it out through his own eyes, yet differently, as he had no control because they were not his own, just as much as they were.
A long time had passed since he'd come to yearn for such moments, abandoning himself, embracing and craving for that mass of life that was him and yet wasn't, rotting his heart, tainting him, where once was disgust and now there was only
Breathing screaming yelling crying needing –peace.
Closing his eyes, his mind spiralled backwards to when it had first started.
To when the ripple had first appeared in his life, shattering it.
The ground feels cold
my body unable to move.
At first, it had been simply pain.
To see the flashes, to feel them so real, just like he felt the grass under his fingers and the air in his lungs, yet knowing it wasn't real, no flash ever was –he'd almost gone crazy.
Something was deeply wrong with him, was it not?
The first time had been raw, explosive and sudden, attacking him with a fierce strength that had left him unable to come out from his room for an entire week –a second of a lifetime enough to make him reconsider his whole life instantly.
It hadn't been real –it couldn't be– but at the same time, it had felt so real. More real than reality.
He'd been mentally assaulted until his resolve had shattered; forced to see each single flash, feel it happen, live through them –his life, not his life.
The flashes were memories. Not his yet –his all the same.
Familiar brown eyes that looked at him with affection were instead filled with hatred, clouded with raw emotion, hands that patted his head lovingly were instead clawing at his skin to hurt, to break.
His blood gushed out of his veins, pooling at his feet.
The spicy smell of pipe that had always welcomed him during his childhood, a coveted memory of a man that had been the Village's Father, was instead a revolting stench associated with hate, the feeling of burning tobacco being pressed viciously against his skin until it was red and swollen and it hurt
Never words of care, only words of hatred.
Everything melting and fading away from his consciousness because as he died, losing everything not even five years after his birth, he had lost all will to live.
He'd lost something he never had… not there.
He'd sought out solitude to think and mourn, unable to understand, panicked, afraid, yet he didn't give in to the need to tell someone –he couldn't even form the words in his mind, how could anyone understand if he couldn't even explain?
Those were only nightmares –of that he was certain… or at least, he tried to convince himself that they were just that.
All his memories were pushed inside, and he tried to forget –he wasn't crazy, he wasn't mad… he hadn't just seen himself die…
At the same time, meeting those brown eyes that were filled with so much worry and care, knowing it was normal, the way it was supposed to be, only triggered those memories–not–memories, reviving the glare that was only sheer, utter hatred.
It had been painful not to know what was going on, facing everything on his own out of fear –you're crazy, the demon has finally cracked, we knew it'd happen– and no one to turn to.
His heart still thumping in his chest.
He had died. Yet, he hadn't. It hadn't happened.
He had refused to see anyone, and then his team came to offer him words of care, pink and silver and ebony hair, belonging to three of his most precious people, and they fussed over him… nothing to worry about, he lied –I'll get over it, he'd said, words hollow to his own ears.
It's just a flu, he reassured them.
They accepted and left, and after they were gone he cried himself to sleep, still unable to understand, unable to accept.
Something had cracked inside him, and he didn't know what.
Eyes drooping close
I can't see the sun anymore.
It happened again.
After so much time spent trying to understand and then forget it, his soul finally able to move on and return to his own normality, just when he'd thought he was fine, back to his life…
It had crept up to him again.
Naruto had been eating ramen with Sasuke after a fight.
He was enjoying the delicious broth filling his mouth, the steam coming from the bowl in his hands enough to warm him up, eyes watching how the vegetables twirled around, almost rhythmic, in synch with his breathing, and–
He had blinked, and suddenly the world went still –too late to brace himself, too late to try and stop it, the ripple was coming and he knew it…
His heart thumping louder and louder in his chest, the steamy vapour of the ramen swirling and changing and twisting until it was smoke, and there was a fire–
His eyes were crimson pools, just like lava, glaring in hatred at those that had betrayed him –there was pain in the eyes glaring back at him, but the hatred drowned the pain away.
They hated him. They had betrayed his trust, and had no remorse.
Whispers had never been whispers, screams and accusations had been there instead, making him growl in reply, making him feel cornered, alone.
His tails flickered and twitched behind him, extension of his hatred mixed with despair as his eyes cursed silently those surrounding him, tears or rage falling on his cheeks only to turn into steam by his skin heat.
Because he was the demon, and when the betrayal had been too great, he had reacted.
Konoha no more, only ruins–
Fire and explosions and burning chakra coming from his core–
Black flames caressing everybody without distinction, fuelled by pain and hatred, until nothing was left but their eyes burning with repugnance and disgust, and then not even that.
Twisting over when the moment, the ripple, was gone, bile burning its way up his throat, Naruto had fallen off the stool and onto the ground, heaving and gasping until the horrible stench of burnt skin and flesh and bodies and death was gone from his senses.
He couldn't look up –not when the faces of those around him were the same he had stared at with hatred then!
Then he did, and–
Everywhere he turned, he'd still see their faces in the mud, dead by his own hands –claws– all the precious people who had betrayed him (but they hadn't) were dead (and they weren't) and he was the one that had brought them down.
Ignoring the feeling of Teuchi–san's hands on his shoulder asking him if he was ok, ignoring Sasuke at his side, demanding to know what was going on, Naruto couldn't concentrate on anything but the smell of death and burnt bodies.
Those voices… they had uttered words of hatred, then had perished under his revenge –how could they be alive? How could they be near him?
Dead because of him.
He ran away.
Lungs constricting, still able to feel the smell of smoke lingering in his nostrils, the taste of blood…
It wasn't true. He had not killed them. They were still alive.
And yet it had been his claws, covered with blood, that had plunged into their bodies before the flames had eaten away all the corpses. His fangs into a villager's throat, phantom taste still on his paralysed tongue.
What was happening to him?
A thousand feelings left to die
Lips open to plead mercy
Oh, it had been painful to know that this torture was the only thing he had left.
The words had been carefully weighted, spoken by the inhuman voice cutting through his mind, finally offering an explanation for what was happening to him, and they had been made to hurt.
Every single word had sliced through his heart, meant to cause pain to him.
It had happened again. And again, and again, until the new blurs, the ripples, had turned into an unearthly torture, and Naruto, unable to understand and take refuge elsewhere, had almost lost hope.
Was he truly insane? Was all of this real?
Until finally, Naruto found out the truth. Not on his own –he would have never managed to by himself, not knowing where to search, what to ask…
No, it had been him, instead.
The demon inside him, uncurling his tails in the darkness of his mind, had advanced slowly, chuckling at his despair.
It had grown worse –every time it was worse. Every time he'd try to nail at the skin of his face, trying to stop that pain, unable to accept what was going on…
Blood and pain, one way or the other, every time different, yet still all the same…
The silence, the stillness of the world around him, time slowing down, the falter, the ripple approaching–
Rushing at him, clenching around his heart, making his head spin, his mind stop, his breathing slowing down in anticipation, panic settling in and then
Naruto had grown to recognise those feelings, rushing away from the others so that he'd be alone when the ripple came, to hide it, to hide his shameful secret…
It never stopped, so he tried to cope.
Falling to the ground, wet grass against his lips, blood gushing out from his mouth, a raven haired teen of his age standing above him, with eyes too old for how young his body is.
The fight had gone differently here, because the one he thought as a friend had a different resolution. Ambition. Ruthless.
That teen who rejected his friendship had slashed a kunai through his throat, smirking as he gurgled in pain, satisfied with his deed. Not shocked, not pained, not guilty –just relieved.
Losing the fight against unconsciousness, killed by his best friend, letting himself go, the last words he heard before death called him away were veiled with contempt.
"You've never understood what I've gone through, but at least your sacrifice will aid me in my revenge".
With his last flicker of life, blue eyes looked up to see spinning eyes bleed a different sort of red, a gained gift for killing his most precious friend.
And the ripple had just doubled and returned, not allowing him relief, forcing his mind through the pain of things he didn't understand, because his life was enough already, he couldn't stand to feel more at all, and…
And the flashes continued and continued and never stopped, because–
And there was a different symbol on his hitai–ate, not a leaf but something else, and he was older… or at least his eyes were.
He had left his house many years before, chased away by hatred, feeling constricted, and that had caused him to grow differently, free and allowed to mature, on the opposite side of the fence.
A pair of mismatched eyes stared warily at him from across the meadow, silver hair and a mask hiding his face, mistrust and barely concealed weariness, book forgotten in his bagpack.
And he didn't know the man was Kakashi but by his fame amongst the Hidden Villages, not because he had been his sensei, not because he had taught him how to be a ninja… because they had never met, they had never bonded.
At least not in that time.
They would fight, and it would be a deathly match, one he didn't want to lose.
Every single falter would send Naruto away from his team, away from his friends, trying to patch his sanity up so that he could function with them, head too heavy to accept the implications of what he was feeling, sorting through emotions and memories that were not his and yet they were, unable to stop all those images from coming onto him…
Make them stop. Makethemstop please –ohplease makethemstopnow
It was always him. Always him. One and the same…
When his opponent was once again him, whilst at his side there was someone he would have never thought he'd end up being with.
Crimson spinning eyes that were similar yet completely different on both sides; not that he would have known… the teenager of his same age standing on the other side of the field wasn't familiar to him.
Raven hair, eyes spinning similarly to those of his companion… they were foreign. Unknown.
And just as much, the person at his side was familiar to him in a way he had never ever been, older than him, older than the teen they were up against… he knew him only because he had destroyed his whole family on a single night and because he was hunting the Bijuu, but not there.
There he was his companion, there he was a trusted one, not an enemy.
They were wearing the same cloak –one that was midnight black with swirly crimson clouds and a scratched headband.
And the Sasuke in front of him was just another worthless prey.
And the Itachi at his side was just another companion, even a friend.
The creature inside him had taken pity of him, in the end –though more than pity, Naruto would have called it desire to plunge the kunai deeper into the wound.
The voice that was there yet wasn't had been low at first, and Naruto had to strain his ears at the time, catching himself up after another attack, another ripple, another falter.
Naruto had asked.
Kyuubi had laughed.
And the truth had finally reached him, and with Kyuubi finally telling him that, Naruto's pain had became unreachable to him, hidden away where he couldn't make it stop anymore.
Enjoying every second of his pain, Kyuubi had taken his time to explain, words cutting through Naruto's mind and heart, robbing him of everything he owned, leaving him in despair.
With knowledge, Naruto's heart truly shattered… because knowledge only made him realise he couldn't change anything –because whereas there had been hope before, now he knew he was powerless.
He had never had control, he would never have it.
"Isn't that what you want?"
The Kyuubi's tone had been mocking. Raw and brutal and amused.
Naruto still couldn't understand, but at least now he knew.
Hands stretching out
Never reaching their goal.
"Because this is what I am"
Words that would forever burn inside his chest.
"Because this is your ultimate, endless torture"
Laughing at him, cackling at him, mirthlessly because years of imprisonment had turned Kyuubi's soul into a dark, tainted creature.
The laugh that echoed through Naruto's mind and body and chest, making him want to break down in fearhorrorpain–
"Until now, together with the pain of this life, you were burdened with the pain your choices would have caused you"
So simple –so cutting.
"Every choice you made, every choice you didn't –things that didn't go as planned… things that did"
The truth, in all its bare horror.
"Because that is what I am, what we kitsune are… able to look through the folds of time, through the endless sea of threads that make up a life… choices, directions, decisions… what was, what wasn't, what could have been, what you left behind…"
Oh, so cruel. Oh, so painfully cruel.
The truth, more horrible than anything else could have ever been, gnawing at his insides, trashing and tearing him apart. Consuming him.
What if I had decided to steal food to survive? It would have been seen as treacherous, and Sandaime, Iruka… they wouldn't have looked at me with love, then… they would have seen a thief… a demon… unworthy…
"What if you had chosen differently? What if you had changed your future by moving to another direction?"
What if I had ran away from Konoha, in despair for their attitude towards me? What if I had allowed the hatred to control me, bringing me to attack them? What if Sasuke's determination to avenge his family was stronger than our friendship? What if… what if, what if… endless fields of possibilities… different futures…
No more empty questions made in the darkest of nights, when he was doubtful and alone.
Now they were real.
"You are my cage, and I thought it would be enough to show you pain… but perhaps I was wrong –what is the point of showing you the anguish of your failed choices? Your life is in a greater pain than any of those already…"
That was when Naruto knew that the worse had yet to come.
Eyes widened in shock at the implication of Kyuubi's tone, the promise of his thunderous voice, devastated by the truth that he would always have to face the undeserved punishment for being what he was –a vessel, a Jinchuuriki, something that shouldn't be alive…
Until he cracked, until hatred consumed him…
"What would happen if you were to see the whole truth? For each of your most important decisions, when you chose one path… had you taken the other one, it would have brought you…"
The true horror had only started then.
Dreaming of dreams
That will never be.
The real nightmare.
Never knowing when it would strike, always fearing what he would come to see –because pain had been enough to make his reality tremble and crumble, but soon enough he understood that something else could be even more deathly –enough to shatter him completely.
He was tough to pain, because his life was pain. Every single day he lived through hurt… but there had never been true pleasure. Only the fleeting kind, but never the stable, warm one.
What love of a family was, the love of comforting hands holding him and caressing his face…
The knowledge that the demon was right devastated what was left of his soul –because had he picked the selfish choice over the one he choose (whilst his precious ones wouldn't have hesitated in picking themselves over him again and again), then…
The torture greater than any pain –pleasure and affection and care and
Dreading the falter and the ripple and the silence when what assaulted him was
Lips trailing down his chin, gently caressing his neck, moving down to his chest, whispering words that were not meant to be heart but by the two of them, sensually tracing his skin.
Meaningless words of love were breathed with pride, filling him and warming his chest, making him feel wanted.
Nothing mattered anymore but the sinful touches, hands massaging his body, bringing him so much pleasure, fingers kneading his muscles, trailing down his thighs…
He allowed the older figure above him to take control, leaning into the touches, knowing their meeting would be despised yet…
Yet unwilling to stop.
He allowed himself to be taken, and the pleasure swept him away in a sea of blinding white.
He couldn't ignore the flashes anymore, he couldn't pick himself up after every falter and return to his life, mask in place, denying that they had ever existed.
His heart ached for the warmth and pleasure he felt, because they were real just like the pain had been, but he wanted it this time, he craved it, ached for more…
Always, always, Naruto had placed others before his own needs. His decisions were biased by his love for others, knowing that if he kept sacrificing himself, maybe one day he could discover what love truly was.
Killing the doubts as they were born because he couldn't let them destroy him. He couldn't let himself doubt…
He had to believe that he would be loved one day.
His fingers slowly inching forwards, penetrating through the skin and towards the pulsating heart that belonged to Sasuke, blood slowly covering his fingers, his hand, his wrist and down his arm. His other hand hastily pushed away the kunai pointed towards Itachi's chest, where Sasuke was going to plant it.
He had tried to kill the only person that mattered, and he couldn't allow him to.
Because such sinful thoughts were wrong, because he shouldn't want to protect someone like Itachi… and yet he had decided to side with the enemies because of him. he chose him, and he'd stick to his choice through hell and back.
Sasuke didn't matter anymore.
He couldn't matter anymore.
Every single one of his choices –he couldn't dwell on it!
Then love he always craved for –he'd have gotten it, had he… had he…
(stopthepain please godstopit… ohgod PLEASE it hurts)
Crimson eyes that would have loved him.
Foreign feeling to them both, they would have discovered it together, they would have made it true.
Anywhere else –away from Konoha– the stares wouldn't have been filled with hatred. They would have given him a chance to prove himself. Neutral. Even caring.
Every decision that could have turned for the better was rejected, stubbornly keeping him tied down. Alone.
All of his choices were wrong. All the choices he let go would have given him–
(he'd offered Sasuke his heart. His trust. His friendship. His soul. He'd offered the village the same, and both had rejected it countless times…)
It wasn't Kyuubi's desire to torment him –just the truth.
He could feel it in every fibre of his body.
Because Kyuubi knew it –truth could hurt more than any lie.
Had he walked close to the Uchiha compound that night of ten years before, instead of spying on Iruka–sensei (hoping he'd smile at him like he did for all the others) he would have assisted at the massacre, he would have seen Itachi standing there, and then he–
He couldn't accept it, refused to
Had he followed Itachi and Kisame out of that hotel room, that day, instead of going with Jiraiya to find Tsunade, the Akatsuki would have failed to extract Kyuubi from him, because–
Because it was wrong
Ad he ditched Jiraiya's training during those three years they had been together (since the hermit never did teach him something useful) he would have met Itachi on a personal mission and then–
Because otherwise he'd have to accept that in all those memories
Had he followed Itachi, joining him instead of rescuing Gaara, he'd have been asked to join in the ritual to suck the Ichibi away, and his taming presence would have saved Gaara's life, allowing him to be alive at the end of the extraction, and there–
there was no place for Sasuke
no place for Konoha
no place at all.
Until reality doesn't matter anymore.
From that day on, he accepted the punishment for what it was. He still walked, ate, spoke with people, lived the life he had –the one resulted from the choices he picked– but his soul, still haunted by all the possibilities, was slowly but certainly sinking.
He was afraid –not of people finding out anymore, now that he knew he wasn't crazy, but afraid for the moment his mind would just give up and shatter under the pressure.
Regretting and mourning…
But worst of it all…
Knowing that a part of him still wondered about –what if…?
What if… he were to choose the other way the next time?
Yet knowing that such a wonder was just that –harmless wondering.
Because he would never be able to place his own happiness before someone else's. Sasuke's. Sakura's. The Village's. Anyone's.
He had been stupid.
The scream you hear
is my soul rebelling against me.
Tears rolled down whiskered cheeks, blue eyes slowly opening to stare in pain at the figure in front of him, whose blind eyes could no longer see.
A smile was frozen on pale lips, raven hair scattered around, caked in crimson blood.
He was aware that words were rolling out of his mouth, but he couldn't hear himself talk, he could only feel the vibrations through his skull, almost as if dulled out.
And all he could see were the dark, unseeing eyes fixed on something that wasn't really there –a gaze that would never focus on something ever again.
Slowly but surely, the person in front of him, his once best friend, a person Naruto had cared for during his life, Sasuke… died.
A last word hesitantly left those chapped lips covered in blood, a breath barely reaching his ears, yet louder than the silence around. It was for him, Sasuke's last word as his spirit left his body forever, running away where he would never reach him again.
It was quiet.
It was always quiet, his mind silently supplied. Especially after an attack.
There was this peace that he had never been able to acquire before, but now it was familiar, welcome, filling him as he slowly came out of his attack, eyes flickering to distinguish the truth that was his life from the truth that was another Naruto's life.
Around him, the sight was beautiful. Lush. Living.
He had come to accept and let go of the pain, and now not even the flashes could bother him anymore.
He'd even come to covet them, waiting for the thrill they brought him. analyzing the choices he didn't make with curiosity and attention.
Some were still painful, but of a bittersweet kind –especially that last one. Sasuke's death, as Naruto had remained unmoving in front of him, unable to help.
It hurt, and yet –and yet, Sasuke's last word had been all Naruto wanted to hear. The knowledge that another him had gotten them was good enough.
Besides, now the flashes, the ripples, the falters –they were getting less frequent the more Kyuubi's power mixed with his bloodstream.
"Are you ready to go?"
Turning around with a pleased smirk on his lips, Naruto observed the figure that stood at his side, crimson eyes looking at him, awaiting his reply.
Making it clear that his reply was important, and the only thing that mattered.
"I was just… looking," he replied easily. Still smirking.
I am running around
Creating my own way
There was something close to a smile flashing on the other shinobi's lips, arms moving to circle Naruto's shoulders, bringing him closer to the taller figure's chest –gently, almost caringly.
"Then we should move… our time outside is growing thinner and the Leader must be already waiting for us…" the words were calm and contemplative, holding a line of regret in having to return.
Once he'd have been shocked to see the display of open emotions on that man's face, but he'd long since grown familiar to them, appreciating how that openness was something reserved to him alone, and no one else.
"You're right," he murmured, shifting the dark cloak so that it would hide his face.
With one finger, he traced softly the red clouds on its pattern, idly smiling at the thoughts that moved into his mind –he was deeply amused at such a deep contrast still.
He had been thinking so much, probably too much, reminiscing of his past, of his decisions and everything that came before –but he had expected it would happen. This was the only place where he would allow himself to, where the past mattered again…
This would be the last time visiting that place, after all, as he was finally leaving the remains of himself behind forever.
"Have you ever wondered…" he started, voice not rising above a whisper, knowing the other man would hear him. a question that had plagued Naruto's mind for the last four years. "What would have happened had I decided not to…"
Not to leave Konoha, on a sunny day, after eating a ramen bowl at Ichiraku, laughing with Sai on one side, and Sakura on the other
Not to fight with fangs and claws against the demon that had caused him so much torment, using all of his mental strength and willpower to reduce Kyuubi's soul and spirit to dust, until his very essence had disappeared into nothingness
Not to ignore the guilt and the pain and the regrets that filled his heart as he wandered around, trying not to run back home pleading for mercy, trying to stay strong to his decision
Not to laugh when he finally met Itachi, smiling as he'd never done before, even though he wasn't sure about his decision, he wasn't sure about anything
Not to struggle against all odds, resisting and enduring until he got what he wanted
Not to grow and let go
He wasn't able to say all of this, so many emotions tangled inside him, things he couldn't explain, but the older male caught on, because he knew Naruto and could understand.
"No," was his quiet reply.
Naruto sharply looked up, blue eyes meeting a pair of dark, black ones in surprise.
"Because I see the present, and that is enough for me. I am content with what I have already, as I would have never hoped I'd ever get this much".
Naruto's lips twitched upwards in a fond, reassured smile, a smile that lit up his face and caused the older shinobi to smile back, although not quite as much.
Yes, Itachi was right.
That was how it was, that was how it had to be.
The reason why Naruto had left Konoha, searching for something only for him, four years before. The reason that made him free himself from the web that had tied him down for so long, making him die every day a bit.
The reason that sent him fighting down a new path.
Fighting against all odds, both in the life he chose and the ones he didn't.
Naruto leaned upwards, delighted when his lips met Itachi's, tasting the unique mix of flavours that he'd come to associate with him –a killer, a missing-nin, a person he had ended up seeking, desiring, wanting, needing…
"Let us go then, Naruto–kun," Itachi murmured in the end, looking up.
Naruto nodded, turning his back to the beautiful sight of Konoha in the late evening, bristling with life, unaware of his presence.
As they made their way down the hill, the village slowly disappearing from sight, Naruto never looked back as a breeze brushed past him, caressing the five faces carved on the stone of the Hokage mountain.
Never looking back as he finally let his past go completely, giving a last parting word to the village he had once been devoted to.
A silent, definitive goodbye.
My life awaits.
StarsOfYaoi: thank you for reading, and to all the people who reviewed, thank you so much. Comments are welcome and they fill me with happiness. Thank you, really.