Prologue: Altercation

Lady Hanaka

D. A. Nico

"He's not coming back!" Sakura screamed.

Naruto and Sakura had constantly shared their opinions over Sasuke's future with each other, and it often ended with Sakura giving in and letting Naruto believe in his dream. Now though, Naruto had broken down every frail nerve in Sakura's already tense body and she'd finally yelled back, she'd finally given into her urge and decided it was time for Naruto to get off his bully pulpit and realize the truth.

Their light conversation had turned into a heated altercation about five minutes ago when Sakura finally screamed at him; from there it had just escalated. Now, five minutes into the donnybrook, things weren't looking much better; voices were rising and Sakura was ready to punch Naruto through a wall and do some damage.

"Sakura, he's still our teammate! He'll come back! And if he doesn't I'll bring him back." Naruto declared for the umpteenth time.

"You're always trying to bring him back Naruto! Well this time I'm not going to waste time over that bastard!"

"Sakura we have to bring him back he's out teammate!" Naruto halfway pleaded.

"Not all teammates can be saved…" Sakura mumbled harshly under her breath as a vision of blonde hair erupted in her mind. She ignored the pang of guilt that made her heart ache, eyes hardening a bit in anger.

"Sakura..." Naruto immediately went to step forward to try and comfort her.

Sakura steeled her face as she shot him an icy glare, "No Naruto! I'm sick of your false hopes. I'm sick of your constant adventures to search for Sasuke in vain, all of which have come up empty handed by the way! I'm sick of seeing you fail and seeing you hurt yourself!"

Naruto remained silent as he stared at Sakura in disbelief.

"Just give up on it. Sasuke's moved on and so should we," Sakura spat out as she stared out the window of her apartment towards the Hokage tower and beyond that…to the forest where they all once practiced together; when they were young and when she was foolish.

"But Sakura—"

"You want to be Hokage right?" Sakura snapped at him. "Well, Sasuke was right about one thing: You'll never become strong enough to be Hokage if you keep running after him."

"And I told Sasuke that I can't be a good Hokage if I can't save my best friend!" Naruto shot back.

"You have to choose one or the other, Naruto." Sakura whispered harshly. "Your best friend or your dream of becoming Hokage." The way she said 'best friend' made it sound like a curse.

"I shouldn't have to choose!" Naruto wailed.

"Life isn't fair." Sakura said frigidly

Then they stood there glaring towards each other. Naruto hunched over as if he were going to leap onto something and Sakura standing straight and proud with her arms crossed protectively in front of her. Protection against what she didn't know, but it was a small comfort. His cerulean eyes met her jade and it was easy to see that no one had won this fight.

Naruto was too stubborn and hopeful to realize his dreams were halfway impossible. His idealistic imaginings of his utopian team were all hopes and assumptions that only Naruto believed. All of this was driving Sakura up the wall. She couldn't stand how naïve he was being. He was twenty for heaven's sake!

"Why can't you just accept the fact that the real team seven will never be what it was?" she asked calmly though her voice quivered with the need to rise again.

"It will be, I promised!" Naruto informed clenching his fist.

"Damn it Naruto! Even if he does come back, which he won't; he will not be the same. Ever!" Sakura said trying once more to berate it into his thick skull that not all things had a happy ending.

Happy endings were for bedtime stories. There was no fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make everything perfect again. This was life. And she knew it was hitting Naruto hard. Why couldn't he just accept these things?

Because it's Naruto and he's a stubborn ass when it comes to his teammates. She thought to herself.

"He still cares about us Sakura. We'll be team seven again." He gave a half-grin, which faded a bit at her stare. "And then me and you and teme and Kakashi-sensei can all go out for ramen at Ichiraku's and—"

"Damn it Naruto!" Sakura yelled. "I don't want you to waste your life searching for that idiot. I don't want him to come back. I don't want to be the same team seven. And I don't want any fucking ramen!"

Each word seemed to hit Naruto like a physical blow. His body seemed to cave in on itself as his eyes dulled a bit. The tears stopped, and he just stared at her, as if he couldn't understand how the monster in front of him could be the same Sakura Haruno he'd known for so long.

"Just you wait." He said fervently, clenching his own fist tightly. "I'll show you that you're wrong about him Sakura. He'll come back with us."

"I don't want to hear it anymore!" Sakura ground out. "Why can't you just marry Hinata and forget about all this?"

"Because you don't have anyone!" Naruto yelled back.

There was silence for a moment as Sakura stared at him, hurt flitting through jade absinthian depths.

"I don't need anyone," Sakura finally whispered between gritted teeth. She was holding back her rage and quite possibly her tears. She shot him a withered look before turning and leaving her own house. Her footsteps balanced evenly with her heart as she walked through and without a second look she slammed the door behind her. And it felt like that divider was something more than a physical barrier.

(A\N: This is the story I'm co-writing with the wonderful D.A. Nico. Hehehe, so…how was that for an interesting prologue? Hooked yet? Don't know when the next chapter will be, but I hope you like it so far.

Sincerely, Lady Hanaka)