StarsOfYaoi: cryptic piece. Each part is labelled with a musical term. Explanation of such at the end of the chapter.
For the SuiNaru contest held by Crimson2006
Summary: (SuiNaru) What was left for Naruto as he broke his own dream, taking Sasuke back? A new direction, perhaps.
Warnings: SPOILERS FOR LATEST CHAPTERS. AT because some things do not follow canon. Male x male pairing, a bit of confusing rhetoric, and similar. Any problem, you can click back and forget about this.
Disclaimer: meaning not claim. Why is it here? To state I don't own Naruto. I wouldn't be writing here otherwise.
THE PERFECT DAY
Adagio – flowing
It was as if there had never been a start, or an end, always circling from one to another without clear distinction –a dream that ended and continued on, as clear as crystal water.
Everything had tuned into focus after the words had left his mouth, as if watching himself from afar, lost in Sakura's tear–filled eyes as she begged him to go, and take Sasuke back.
And save him.
Holding her hands into his (because no matter his own insecurity, he had to stay strong for her, because that was what he was), he had comforted her with a smile, and words he had to believe himself.
"I will take him back Sakura–chan… that's a promise".
From then on, knowing he would never go back to his word, he fought on. It was his nindo (no matter how much he was laughed at, for his foolishness… it amused them so much).
And when the first time he failed, he didn't let go. His promise was still standing, still strong, and Sakura had seen it, accepting his apologize and promising him the same thing.
They would be together when the time would come, and they would do it together. Keep a promise of friendship that had taken over their entire world.
And three years passed by.
Returning to his hometown, he was still as eager, still as determined (maybe because he feared that if he changed, he would see things as they were, and would be forced to back away), stronger and older. He was still Naruto, and that was enough.
In all the time he had spent training, he had known that someone needed him. That was his strength, the strength he used to back up his words, the strength he kept inside him when no one else believed in him –when his friends secretly shook their heads, muttering of his stupidity.
When he had no one to believe in him, he would believe in himself.
His dream had taken roots from there, created by small, almost invisible fragments of his imagination, a way to shield him away, clear, so clear in his mind.
That dream would always be there, Naruto could easily access to it, day and night, from when his conscious emerged from the black abyss of sleep to the moment he returned in his bed at night, and even then, it would be his last thought.
Obsession of sorts, it had turned out to be his sole solace, until it was so clear, so perfect, that Naruto had started believing it would be the truth. How it was meant to be, mulling over each detail, carving it out, as if that would make it come true.
Twisting every aspect to his desire, until there was nothing else but it.
There was no childish egocentrism in his dream, because to wander too far from the truth would have uncovered the lies, and Naruto's mind evaded the thought, squirming away from any possibility… no images of himself as the super–hero, because even in his dreams, bitter realism ruined his ego, twisting it down until he was scared and embarrassed of the obviously fake moments.
Things that could not be true. And so they were not.
And still, the dream was perfect, in its own way.
A glorious day.
The sun was shining in a cloud–less sky, the blue so deep it hurt; birds were chirping around him, as he slowly made his way to Konoha. There were scars on his skin, but he could barely feel pain from them, a smile on his lips, one warmer than any other he had managed before.
At his side, the cause of his sudden happiness, was walking his long lost friend, the person that he had finally convinced to come back home.
Sasuke was smirking, not maliciously, but simply cockily, muttering something under his breath about Naruto's thick–headedness, apparently pissed off but clearly amused by his friend's acting.
Everything was perfect. Everything was right.
They were finally going back to Konoha… together.
And Konoha appeared in front of their eyes, and Naruto slowed down his pace, feeling the silent aura surround them both as the villagers appeared around them, ninja and peasants, everyone staring at them, pointing in shock at the sight of their loved Uchiha coming back.
Naruto could easily hear their comments, too, how the demon they hated had managed to bring the Uchiha to Konoha again.
Everyone too shocked by his act to question his loyalty.
Naruto, the demon, the one they despised… had been the one to take back their precious Uchiha. And that could mean he wasn't as bad as they thought…
Naruto was smiling again, feeling inside himself that this would be the first step of the village's acceptation of him. He could not be the demon, since he had been the one to take the heir of the Sharingan back home…
And then he turned to the left, and there was Sakura running towards him, smiling and hugging him tightly and then punching him in the head, because she had been afraid this time, once again… and then she turned to Sasuke and smiled at him too, reserving a similar punch for the Uchiha's head… because Naruto loved Sakura as a sister now, and she loved Sasuke as a friend… and now…
Now they could finally be the perfect friends.
That was the most Naruto could think, the moment when everything would turn to a happy ending, as the dream vanished, leaving him warm inside –for he never ventured any further than that, because (he was afraid to think any more, afraid of a reality check to ruin his dream) it didn't matter.
It felt like he was living solely for that single moment, waiting to get Sasuke back, allowed to dream because that sole dream belonged to him, he had every right to hold that future. Moulding it to his desires.
A silent wait when his entire conscious would deny anything but hope, denying the doubts and the dark, lingering thoughts that assaulted him at night. Thoughts that he forced away, ignoring them. He couldn't doubt.
It won't be that easy, you know.
"Shut up" he whispered, his own voice almost surreal in the darkness.
A village can't change like that…
He knew it was true, but this was his only way to cope. Taking back Sasuke, that was his goal. Just that.
What if he hates you for taking him back, then?
"But I can't hesitate" Naruto muttered, facing the empty ceiling of his room, eyes glazed over. "What is left for me if I let go of him?"
Canon – vertigo
Blue eyes watched transfixed as Kakashi got kicked in his stomach by the Akatsuki member, the one that had looked almost harmless just minutes before.
It had been happening in a blur, when a moment before Naruto had been ramming his Rasengan down into the masked man's back, having successfully tricked him with a Kage Bunshin, and the next moment the guy had laughed, and Naruto had fallen through him, down to the ground, the Bunshin disappearing with a loud pop.
And then, the masked Akatsuki had moved, still acting childishly, dropping down on Naruto's head –making it slump deeper in the soil– and had scratched the back of his head, laughing like an idiot as he made no move to evade any of the Konoha–nin's attacks.
Kiba had been the first to move, running at top's speed towards the Akatsuki member with Akamaru stomping on the ground at his side, trying to punch the laughing man right on the face, but orange–mask simply side–stepped, slipping a bit, before standing up straight to evade Sakura's punch.
Kakashi had pulled his hitai–ate up, his Sharingan active to see exactly who, or what, this man was (an Akatsuki, no matter how strange he could act, was still a threat), but not even his Doujutsu could see anything wrong with him…
It wasn't a Genjutsu, nor a Bunshin. The man was absolutely there. And yet–
Hinata was standing a bit back, her Byakugan activated as well, but something strange was blocking her sight too, making her unable to distinguish the chakra patterns in the Akatsuki member's body. It didn't feel like anything she had ever seen before.
Kiba attacked once more from behind, growling in anger and disappointment, but the masked shinobi simply laughed out, jumping upwards and evading the incoming punch, using Akamaru's head as support to swirl away from the two.
Naruto stopped for a split second, shocked over that guy who flawlessly evaded all their attacks. He appeared a fool who just had luck, but… Naruto could feel it. There was something wrong with that person –something dangerous. His guts never failed him.
And then, the mask turned his way. Eyes were looking at him, Naruto could feel it with the same intensity he felt the adrenaline pumping into his body. Those eyes were looking at him. Naruto tensed up, preparing to attack again–
"I wonder, why are you still here?"
The words were spoken right next to him, whispered in his ear, but he had no recollection of seeing the man move at all; a merely blink of an eye, and he had disappeared, and now that voice –a voice both ridiculously mocking and dark was speaking to him.
The world moved slower, so much slower, and Naruto blinked again, the man's hand on his shoulder used as support, just like before with Akamaru, as the Akatsuki stumbled around, evading the physical attacks of his comrades with apparent clumsiness.
Naruto could feel the bare touch of the man's cloak against the naked skin of his hand as the masked Akatsuki twirled around him, managing to look awkward, stumbling, evading Kakashi's Chidori whilst still holding Naruto's shoulder, but Naruto knew better.
The man had power beyond recognition, far more than the two he met when coming to the rescue of Shikamaru and his team.
Fear griped in his guts, but he had no time to act upon it, because once more, the man whispered at him.
"Your friend, is it? The young, foolish Uchiha… he's getting what he asked for and you're here, held up in a pointless battle against me" he laughed, low, dry chuckle that sent shivers down Naruto's back. "Believe me, I am not an opponent for you, when you could just get what you want… and save your Uchiha".
Had he been moving Naruto would have frozen but as it was, it was simply his blood that stopped flowing, the masked man's words burning inside his brain as he tried to understand.
He didn't see the man evade others punches like he was playing against babies, and he didn't see the combined attack of Team Ten, Shino joining in the battle as well as Kakashi's dogs, he only saw one gloved hand lift up in the air, pointing South.
"Why aren't you going, then?"
Naruto knew that had he been without mask, he would have seen his opponent smile gleefully.
There was actually no time to think (was the Akatsuki guy even saying the truth, and if he was, why?) but Naruto felt his own body move –if against his will, he didn't know. But he was moving.
Far from the fight (a pointless, useless fight of babies against a grown adult), and he ran, lost to the voices of his teammates.
Capriccio – flooding
Suigetsu smirked as he countered Kisame's slash with his own sword (he had yet to use it in a real fight so technically it was still Zabuza's, but still), swinging it through the air to par a blow coming from the right side.
The Akatsuki was good, he mused, his smirk widening at the speed the older man used whilst moving his Samehada, swaying it around with polished ease and attacking him; Suigetsu could see the same excitement in the eyes of his opponent, a twin smirk on the shark man's face.
'But so am I' he thought, as the sword slashed through his body, resulting it to smash in thousand water particles that flew everywhere, before his body recomposed itself, as if nothing had happened.
Kisame let out a quiet chuckle, amused. "As reckless as I remember, Suigetsu" he said, his eyes never leaving his opponent's figure. "You did train, after all… and am I mistaken if I say your sword once belonged to Zabuza?"
Suigetsu laughed out aloud as he jumped high, attacking with the same practiced ease by slashing down with his sword, expecting Kisame to block –which was what happened.
"Hai, Kisame–sempai… how considerate of you to remember your fallen comrade" he said, pressing down with his sword before rolling in the air, thrown away from the sudden strength the other swordsman used on him.
Kisame let out a laughter. "Impudent brat" he growled out, his smirk widening. "I will teach you to respect your elders!"
Swiftly, Kisame's hands moved into a series of seals, clapping them together, a surge of chakra coiling inside his throat 'Suiton –Bakushouha!'
Kisame's throat constricted and he doubled down, spitting a stream of water on the ground; Suigetsu, Karin and Juugo stared at the massive amount of water that gathered together, forming a tidal wave in front of them, on top of which Kisame stood.
The wave thundered over them and fell, the ground trembling at the sheer strength of the water, submerging everything in a hundred meters radius; Juugo swiftly moved away, whilst Karin cursed loudly and followed him before the water collided with them.
Suigetsu jumped up, part of his body melting down in the raging waters, maintaining his place as Kisame rode the wave, his sword uplifted, waiting for his opponent.
Despite being partially composed by water, Suigetsu found it hard to resist the current of the shark man's attack, and knew he had to get the upper hand, since Kisame had way more chakra than he did.
Suigetsu evaded one swipe of Samehada as Kisame passed next to him, pushing upwards on the moving water and rolling down on its surface, then straightening back up and leaning over his sword. He was definitely having fun, for a change.
The travelling with Sasuke had not offered any boredom–relief, and not even bickering with the double–faced bitch had helped –plus Juugo was completely plain.
Sasuke himself was totally unfunny. Not cool.
Flickering his eyes to the side, he watched as Juugo and Karin jumped on two poles, barely above the water that was cooling down, filling the ground around them; the orange haired young man had his eyes lost in the distance again, whilst Karin was glaring at him.
Suigetsu fought the sudden impulse to take the fight over to where she was standing just to spite her, but then decided otherwise –it would just ruin the fun.
There was no more time to think as Kisame moved towards him, and he had barely the time to move out of the way, dropping lower in the water stream and swinging his sword through Kisame's legs… and watching as the Mizu Bunshin exploded.
Suigetsu let himself fall into the water, having no problems breathing as he felt around with his chakra, trying to guess from where Kisame would attack again. The whole surface was coated with his chakra flares, so it wasn't easy, and Suigetsu had never been good at pinpointing directions anyway.
He felt an increase of power below him and resurfaced, standing on his hands and knees above the water just in time to see Kisame explode out, holding his sword as he slashed it parallel to the surface, hitting Suigetsu in the face and making him fall back inside.
Slowly, the water started to flood away, partly being absorbed by the ground and partly drained away; Suigetsu stood up again, whistling at the destruction around them, holding the handle of his sword. He was ready to start another round, and Kisame, who was standing in front of him with a smirk on his face, was of the same idea.
Unfortunately the fun was short–lived as Karin suddenly turned around, feeling Sasuke's chakra subside, wavering and disappearing far too quickly to be normal; merely a second later, a shattering scream reached their ears, effectively stopping both Kisame and Suigetsu mid–strike.
Karin blinked in shock, knowing something had happened inside. Juugo shook himself out of his trance and turned in the direction where Sasuke had disappeared into, frowning lightly; Kisame's smirk faltered, if only slightly, and he replaced his sword on his back with a haste move.
From behind him, a dark figure flickered away from the Uchiha hideout compound.
"Seems like we'll have to cut our meeting short," he muttered, his shoulders tense. "Until next time, Suigetsu".
Kisame's figure vanished in a pool of water, together with the heavy chakra that belonged to him, and Suigetsu's smirk disappeared from his lips. Karin and Juugo jumped at his side, both with the same confused frown, and all the three of them turned towards the Uchiha hideout.
No one moved, the only thing breaking the silence was the softly blowing wind.
"Someone is coming" she murmured, pointing behind her.
Dissonance – fracture
Barely a glance, eyes lost somewhere behind his back, on the wall. It had been a mere second, the time it took for him to blink in shock, and everything had been twisted around, the control he held on the Genjutsu, on the world, was not his anymore.
It had been easy to fight, knowing he was superior, knowing this would be the final glance at his brother, knowing that he would end it all right now.
Equal fight of Genjutsu skills, Sharingan against Sharingan, until Itachi had taken the battle way higher, activating his Mangekyou Sharingan. Sasuke had refused to follow his brother's lead this much, ignoring his words, unable to kill the person that had been his closest one just to be at the same level of the man he had sworn to kill.
Sasuke thought better of himself.
And yet, listening to Itachi's words, the explanation, the impossible truth, what was behind his actions, Sasuke couldn't believe his ears. Was this what was hidden behind Itachi's attitude, behind his fake care, behind everything?
A man that had, with his doings, corrupted his brother's mind. Uchiha Madara. A man Sasuke knew would die, right after Itachi.
Sasuke had summoned his shuriken, pressing against the bloody seals on his wrists, attacking his brother viciously, breaking the fight in the real world just as he fought his brother's control, knowing he would–
And then, he had understood. When Itachi moved on him, effortlessly evading all his attacks, causing him to harm a Kage Bunshin instead, the face that had been contorted moments before had already returned to the impassibility emotionless stone.
Three single moves and Sasuke was pushed against the wall, one arm slammed above his head and Itachi standing millimetres from him, holding him there, their eyes meeting for a second. Itachi wasn't even trying.
The loud crack had echoed through the room far too clearly, followed by the choked sound of a gurgling throat fighting hard to breathe –bubbles of red liquid pooling at the sides of his mouth, filling everything.
Methodical to a degree, brutal, harsh.
Another loud crack, this time the muffled voice could make it through the blood, and coughed in the air, gasping for the air that tried so hard to fill his lungs. Painful.
The dark haired man stood still, his face void of emotions, void of what had been there moments before, eyes that were still swirling madly but that didn't see anything anymore, lost somewhere that was nothere anymore.
Still looking in Sasuke's eyes, but not looking at all.
"You will be my eyes".
Torment and anguish, as one pale, strong hand lowered down to the body held against the wall, circling lightly the white neck, brushing over the pooled blood only to move down, reaching a shoulder, and then, with a swift, graceful strike, pulled it off its socket, driving out from the agonizing teen he held still another pain filled yell, with a raw throat that shouldn't have been able to hold sound anymore.
The tormentor not even caring as he inflicted any kind of pain, torture, to the fallen body, unable (or uncaring) to see anything but his own determination in completing his work.
There was a methodical, plain reasoning through his actions though, and in his barely conscious mind, Sasuke knew his brother was teaching him another lesson. He was still stronger, and despite the training, despite it all –Sasuke still meant nothing.
Sasuke cried out again, the pain far too strong to even clutch to his policy of not making a sound (he didn't want to give Itachi the satisfaction of knowing he was hurting him), because it didn't matter anymore.
Itachi didn't care for Sasuke's pain.
Sasuke fell down, the grip on him loosening up, making him hit hard, coughing blood; and still, Sasuke gritted his teeth, defiance burning in his eyes. He would never give up.
Harsh breathing, air filling his bloody lungs in broken gasps, Sasuke wondered what had gone wrong. He was supposed to be stronger, and still, with all his training, it had amounted to this.
Ignoring everyone and everything around him, only trying to become stronger, leaving the place he was born into just to seek power strong enough to satiate his lust for revenge, hurting others without caring, and yet…
It amounted to–
His brain processes ended suddenly when he felt Itachi's hand grasp the back of his head, towering over him with the same emotionless eyes, swirling with madness, and the ease it took to the older Uchiha to lift the battered body of his younger brother was far too clear.
Sasuke could feel the pain flare from his broken fingers and his dislocated shoulder, and from the many broken ribs that made it hard to breathe, but nothing compared to the horror he had for himself.
That was stronger than his own pain. The knowledge that he was still too weak.
His blurry Sharingan still active, Sasuke said nothing when his brother's free hand moved towards his face.
Glissando – droplets
Suigetsu cracked his shoulders, carefully placing his sword against a small pillar, and turned towards Karin, who was deep in concentration, her head lightly lowered. "Do you recognize the chakra?"
The dark haired teen blinked and bit on her lower lip, turning towards the Uchiha hideout and then back at Suigetsu, for once not up to fight him.
"It's the Jinchuuriki" she said, frowning in confusion. "But he is moving alone, at a great speed, and it's coming this way –almost as if…"
Suigetsu blinked, for a moment not understanding what Jinchuuriki she was talking about, then he remembered. Sasuke's so called friend, the one the Akatsuki was searching, the one he had failed to kill.
The guy they met for a single instant, as a Kage Bunshin.
And he was coming in this direction, all by himself?
It made no sense.
"Somehow, the Jinchuuriki seems to know we are here" Karin continued, feeling the strong pressure of the double chakra of the Bijuu–container move accordingly to their exact position, even increasing his speed.
Juugo breathed deeply.
"Sasuke's chakra is almost completely gone" Karin continued. "If we don't move right now to get him away, the Jinchuuriki will soon reach us. I never fought against one, I don't know his strength…"
Suigetsu frowned. Even though Sasuke had never mentioned it (God knew the brooding Uchiha never tried to speak to them in familiar terms), he heard the Jinchuuriki was fixated with him, and that he wanted to take him back to Konoha.
So probably, if he were to get Sasuke right now, and Suigetsu was practically certain Sasuke had been crushed by his brother's strength, he would take him back to the village without hassle.
And Sasuke didn't want to go back. Not before killing Itachi.
"We have to take Sasuke away from here," Karin said, stepping towards the Uchiha hideout.
Suigetsu looked up at Juugo, meeting his eyes in a silent confrontation; the two had never been on friendly terms, but now, after some time in the same team, the previous dislike had no reason to exist anymore.
'Juugo is just… too… too…' Suigetsu grimaced inwardly. Yeah, he was nothing like he had once thought him to be.
She stopped, turning around at Suigetsu's serious voice, and looked at him, twitching slightly, but not speaking.
"Let the Jinchuuriki come and take Sasuke back".
Karin's cheeks coloured red in anger, her eyes sparkling us as she ran to him, trying to hit Suigetsu's face, but this time he evaded the hit, straightening back again to look at her in the eyes.
"What the hell are you saying, you damn idiot?! Sasuke–kun doesn't want to go there anymore! We are here to–"
"To what, exactly? To help him kill Itachi?" Suigetsu turned towards the hideout. "He wanted us to keep any unwanted attention off himself as he fought, but in the end, not even his so–called skills helped him. This Uchiha Itachi was stronger than him".
"And he will need time to recover, and we are not the best with that" Juugo intervened, surprising both Karin and Suigetsu, who had not expected him to speak at all. "Konoha will take care of him. He will be healed. He ran away once, that place has no protection. He will do it again, if he feels like it".
"Konoha wouldn't let him go" Karin hissed, angered to be the only one seeing the truth. "We have no authority to go against Sasuke's desires!"
"Sasuke did not care he was running towards probable defeat, Karin" Suigetsu shook his head, cursing the woman's stubborn side. "He didn't think it through, nor did he think he could lose… he was a cool, stoic type, but in the end, he acted in a rush and without planning anything out" he gripped the sword harder in his hand. "No training, he just decided we had enough power, but he knows nothing of what we are capable of. And he underestimated his own brother's strength, even though he had years to prepare himself".
Karin gulped down her reply, knowing he was basically right but not willing to accept it.
"Still, I don't get what good would do Konoha to him! You were the first badmouthing that place!"
Suigetsu smirked, his pointed teeth flashing as he did so.
"Yes, but I am not talking about the place. It's the people. Three years, and they are still searching for him –and not to kill Sasuke, but to take him back. Any other shinobi would have been labelled as missing–nin without second thought, but not him… his friends want him back as he is".
Juugo turned his eyes towards the Uchiha hideout as well, a small smile on his face. "He might not want it but it is better this way".
"I am not allowing someone to take Sasuke–kun away!" Karin persevered, baring her teeth as her anger bubbled under her calm surface. "What would we do then, let him go, and then? We have promised him to follow him until Itachi was dead –and he certainly isn't" she spat.
Juugo frowned, inclining his head a bit. He didn't want to go where people lived. It would only sparkle his curse.
"Konoha has one of the best medic nins ever, Orochimaru himself said so" Suigetsu casually said, not looking at the orange haired man at his side. "She would help with your little control problem".
"Why would she? We're not the good guys!" Karin huffed, crossing her arms in anger. "What would stop her from killing or torturing us?"
Suigetsu rolled his eyes.
"We are not ninja –well, I once was, but I don't have a hitai–ate nor any background records other than my name, and that is not recognized outside my specialization" he shrugged. "We have no records against any hidden village nor commoners, we are just Sasuke's chosen team. Even if they wanted answers from us, they have no rights to question us. They can't control us, they can't force us into things we don't want".
Juugo blinked, apparently thinking it over, then nodding his consent. Suigetsu was right, they had no records on them.
"If we offer information on Orochimaru's experiments and his hideouts' whereabouts, it would be an even better deal and they couldn't but keep us" Suigetsu continued, pointedly looking at Karin. "So we could wait whilst Sasuke is healing and afterwards decide what to do".
Now he could feel the pressure of the incoming chakra as well, and he wondered idly if the Akatsuki was enough miles away not to feel it too. It was so fast… that Jinchuuriki seriously knew how to run.
Karin was uncertain on what to do; either leave by herself, which would be useless, or accept her two team mates' idea and stay as well. Despite her hatred for Suigetsu she had to admit his reasoning made sense.
Was it the better alternative possible?
She was the one with the most information, since she had worked in the Snake's prisons for years now. And even though she despised the idea of telling Orochimaru's enemies about them, she really had nothing left to do in there.
Even before Sasuke came to her, she had long since decided she would move away from there.
Besides, the thought that Sasuke had underestimated them all in his plans against the older Uchiha bothered her more than she thought it possible. She wasn't sure that he was worth her interest in that department. She hated to be underestimated.
Looking away, still grimacing, Karin stepped back, her shoulders relaxing. They would wait for the Jinchuuriki's arrival. But she was doing it only for Sasuke, she reminded herself and the other two, her voice clipped. He needed professional treatment.
Deceptive cadence – shattered
Naruto didn't know when he started pouring out Kyuubi's chakra, using it to assess if the masked guy had given him right information, trying to find out the chakra that could tell him where Sasuke was, and all in all, he didn't care what he used as long as he could get to where he was.
This was it, apparently, and this time, alone or not, he would certainly take Sasuke back.
He felt adrenaline rush through his body, feeling a thrill he hadn't felt ever before, not in any of his previous battles –the knowledge that this was the moment he had expected for years.
He smirked, feeling his slightly elongated fangs brush against his lower lip.
Yes, he was going to see Sasuke, and make him understand. With actions if words wouldn't be enough. Anything to get him back.
At any normal pace, travelling through the forest would take at least one, two days, but given his Kyuubi–enhanced speed, a few hours seemed to suffice enough.
Soon, Naruto could feel a change in the nature around him, noticing the different type of trees and bushes as he kept moving onwards, vaguely realising he had entered the Sound country's boundaries in his mad run.
Sasuke had to be this way. He had to.
Not even knowing exactly where he was going, Naruto briefly wondered if he had to stop for a moment, to organize his thoughts and see if he could recognize Sasuke's chakra somehow, but despite his own uncertainty, he didn't stop.
'I will keep going until I–'
His next step faltered as he suddenly caught a sniff coming from somewhere further ahead of him; his speed reduced drastically as he frowned, analyzing the sudden presence of three chakra that had entered his perception.
He didn't recognize any of them, but something was nagging at him, something he had forgotten… but what?
'Three chakra, and none I can recognize… it's not Sasuke, but…' Naruto bit his lower lip, moving faster again. 'Who?'
His answer came pretty soon, when he reached the end of the forest. His feet stopped outside the grass, on clean ground, feeling it sag a bit under his weight, detecting traces of lingering chakra everywhere around –a chakra he remembered well.
'Akatsuki… was here? Shark–face?' Naruto stopped entirely, allowing the flux of Kyuubi's chakra that had surrounded him to fade away, pulsing lightly one more time before seeping back in the seal.
And right there, standing in front of him, a few meters away, stood the three people he had seen by chance when his Bunshin had met with Sasuke.
His heart skipped a beat, finally understanding whom the three chakra signature belonged to –inwardly cursing against his rush. Now he would have to fight them all by himself, and he wasn't sure just how strong they were.
Falling on guard, he stared at them, his eyes flickering from one to the other, trying to see something he could use at his own advantage. Maybe the idea of leaving his group wasn't that good after all…
The guy on the left had a strange skin colour, his hair looking oddly coloured too –a mix of grey, white and light azure– and was smirking, one pointy teeth clear between his lips. He had a giant sword in hand, one that Naruto had seen somewhere else already, but he couldn't remember.
The lingering chakra in the air that belonged to Kisame was stronger on him, which meant the two had… fought?
Then there was another male, a tall one, with orange hair. The guy looked positively imposing. And still, the look on his face was puzzling. He wasn't… well, Naruto had expected his face to be as dangerous as his figure. But he looked so peaceful.
The third person of the group was a female, with reddish mid–length hair, and a pair of dark glasses. She was glaring at him, a stuck–up expression on her face, and was tapping her foot on the ground, her hands twitching at her side, but still, none of the three moved as Naruto stopped to a halt in front of them.
Truth to be told, Naruto had quite expected to be attacked as soon as the three saw him, because they had met once (the Kage Bunshin) and surely Sasuke must have explained them… and yet…
"I am here for Sasuke, and I intend to bring him back to Konoha!" he decided to chase his insecurity away, and growling at them, Naruto narrowed his eyes. He was ready.
"He's down there, in the big building you can see from here" the one with the sword on his back said, pointing behind with his thumb. "I suggest you to move quickly, because he needs help".
Despite his words, Naruto couldn't move.
What did this mean?
"You're not… going to stop me?" he hesitated, not understanding what the three were doing. They had looked possibly dangerous to him, and still, they were not moving against him? "Shouldn't you… I don't know, Sasuke–"
"Doesn't want to come back, we know" the girl sneered, pouting a bit. "But that's what is best for him at the current moment. He had a very one–sided battle against his brother, and we don't have the knowledge to heal him all the way, not if Itachi used his Mangekyou against Sasuke".
Naruto blinked, eyes widening in shock as he finally caught up with what had happened. Indeed, the masked man's words were true, and Sasuke was… Sasuke was…
Pushing away the guy with the sword, Naruto moved towards the building, ignoring the growing feeling of uneasiness he had. In a single day, all his thoughts had been turned around and twisted. An enemy had helped him, the reasons still unknown, and three possible enemies had given up even before he arrived.
He didn't want to think about it.
Running towards the building, every other sound washed away by the mad thumping of his heart, Naruto gulped down on a dry throat as he tried to feel Sasuke's chakra, but without being able to pinpoint it.
'Why can't I feel it?' he pressed on, slamming open the first door in front of him and running through the first corridor, feeling an insane sense of déjà vu as he searched every corner to see his friend.
This was it. The moment he had waited for all these years, the moment that would conclude his dream, the only dream he ever had, a truly powerful one that had been in his thoughts so long.
Find Sasuke, fight him and talk to him, now that he had nothing to fear from the Uchiha's companions…
He wouldn't stop now. Sasuke was going to come back to Konoha, willingly or not–
The world shattered in front of him.
Rondo – infinite?
All thoughts fled Naruto's mind, his heartbeat rushing in his ears with the noise of a tornado, as with the last corner, he entered in a bigger room.
Deep blue eyes dulled out at the sight that was burning itself in his retinas, his feet suddenly feeling so heavy he found himself stopping on the entrance, unable to move anymore.
There was a voice uttering Sasuke's name again, but surely it wasn't him.
Wasthis his voice?
It didn't sound confident, a part of his mind reprimanded him. So frail. Trembling. But any consciousness he had seemed so far away now. His eyes lost in the sight of what was Sasuke now.
What his insane need for revenge had caused him to become.
"Is this a joke…? Come on, Sasuke teme…"
There was no reply.
No sound except his own heartbeat, and it was hard enough to hear his own words in the chaos of it.
Naruto finally moved forwards, the soft noise of his footsteps echoing in the dead silence, as he reached the body of his friend, his own heartbeat dulling down, the perfect undertone's music.
The still form of Sasuke was right in front of him, on the ground, the pool of blood slowly growing bigger around his head, the liquid covering the grains of dust, eating them away.
Crimsonblood –it was all over him.
His face, his clothes, his naked skin, the disjointed arms…
Was this Sasuke?
'This isn't a dream anymore'.
The fear came almost as hard as a physical blow, making the blond waver. It wasn't just fear, but the feeling filling him now had no name.
It was so sudden that for a moment, Naruto was overwhelmed, and yet it was so strong he was already stepping backwards when he realised what he was doing.
The panic washed over him in waves, his breath erratic and irregular as he fell on the ground, still backing away from the sight of Sasuke, tears burning his eyes and his cheeks as they streamed down.
And still he couldn't yell, nor explain the empty void the sight had caused inside him.
Only a part of him took notice of the degree of injuries the dark haired teen had sustained, the list of it growing longer and longer the more his blue eyes looked at him, barely noticing the light breathing that still moved his chest up and down, clear signal he was still alive, if only barely.
One arm was twisted in a strange position, Naruto noted, still in a daze. And there was too much blood pooling from his face, the left side, the side that was pointing upwards. And the blackness from where the blood was coming from–
"Don't go there! Don't go there don't go there don't go there" the words were coming out from his lips without control, and still Naruto had yet to move from his fallen position.
This was it.
The three years, the pain, the betrayal. This was the result.
A bloody form lying on the ground.
The next thought came like a slap.
'Leave him there and go away –it was not supposed to be like this!'
For a second, as Naruto stood up shakily, the thought made sense. This couldn't be real. After all, Naruto had it clear, how he had to take Sasuke back.
The fight, the way Sasuke's eyes would darken in pain, the way Naruto's words would finally penetrate the blackness of his heart, and how the two would walk side by side to Konoha…
Everything was rehearsed in detail, night after night…
There was not a bloody Sasuke, a Sasuke that couldn't listen to Naruto's reasoning.
There was not an unconscious teen whose actions had led to this.
It was supposed to be the fight of their life. It was supposed to be Naruto's dream, after all.
Naruto was going to bring Sasuke to Konoha unwillingly.
No, certainly it wasn't the truth. This was not real.
As such, Naruto turned around, eyes still wide, and took a step away from the bloodied form of his friend, a small smile appearing on his face.
Yes, this was… a nightmare.
"Not the truth" he smiled to himself. "Sasuke isn't supposed to be dying. Not after killing Orochimaru. Not after all he did…"
Not like this…
Then he stopped.
No breeze around him, but still, his entire frame was trembling terribly.
Slowly, almost as if the entire world's fate depended on him, Naruto turned around. The look in his eyes, had anyone been there to see, couldn't be described.
Panic, fury, pain, fear, anguish… swirling madly in deep blue orbs, almost pulsing through his body as Naruto's eyes turned even larger, taking in the whole picture.
Emptiness eating away the hope he had felt barely a minute before.
This was the truth.
What had he been doing?
He had turned his back on Sasuke, who was slowly dying at his feet. For a single, desperate moment, Naruto had looked away. Wishing he could leave him there.
Naruto blinked slowly, his erratic breathing fading away, his shoulders relaxing down. His eyes were still on Sasuke, a part of him desperately clinging to the stupid hope that the raven haired teen would wake up and fight.
It shouldn't be like this…
A mantra repeated over and over again in his head, the only thought that had still place in his mind.
His mind had never been clearer, however. With the same strength of a thousand typhoons, thoughts leashed inside him, the barriers he had kept strong until that moment were now finally broken.
Had eyes been able to look at him now, his soul would have been bare to them, everything so clearly written on his face.
This was the truth.
As he kneeled down next to his fallen friend, hands carefully cradling the young teen's body in his arms, not even cringing now at the sight of so much blood (and pain, and suffering), Naruto's body was trembling again.
A raw laughter coming out from his gritted teeth.
Progression – professing
It was raining.
Kakashi was looking through the darkness, his only uncovered eye darting from left to right, unable to confront the deep instinctual fear that told him something bad had happened.
So much to think about, knowing he had failed to see the real purpose of the masked man until the very end. Knowing he had caught Naruto in a Genjutsu ever since the start… and still… had looked so utterly stupid, playing with them, faking his idiocy.
And Naruto had turned away, running in the distance, apparently with a clear destination in mind, but Kakashi could only feel his own heart constricting.
Another student he had abandoned. Another student. And once again, he feared for the worst.
The rain was falling messily on his frame, as he made no move to turn away from the spot he was on, his eye still glaring at the darkness around the walls of Konoha. He had appointed himself as guard, unable to think of anything to do in the meanwhile, as ANBU moved through the forest and everywhere, intent in finding what he had lost.
Tsunade's words still lingering in his mind.
"We don't know what the Genjutsu placed by the man could have done to Naruto's mind, we don't know what caused his sudden running –hopefully we will be able to get to him before Akatsuki does, because with the speed burst from Kyuubi's chakra being used, not even they could have predicted his exact position".
Kakashi shuddered under the thundering rain, slumping against the wall. They had turned to Konoha after the attack, when the masked man whose name was Tobi (as he had gleefully told them) had disappeared, apparently finding them less interesting after Naruto had gone away.
Naruto was gone somewhere, and had his control over himself faltered a bit more, Kakashi would already be running with the ANBU, unable to stand still. As it was, with the sudden lack of strength due to the guilt heavy on his heart, Kakashi could do nothing.
Just wait, as he had done for the last day and a half.
Wait for a miracle to happen?
Or for Naruto's body to be found.
That was the reason why, hearing people approaching, Kakashi had simply cringed, expecting the last ANBU team to come back with bad news or no news at all.
The voices were dulled out by the rain and thunders, but still, when they got near enough, understandable.
"If we had moved a bit slower, then I wouldn't have slipped, you damn idiot!"
"Perhaps if you had looked where you were going, it wouldn't have been a problem at all, bitch".
Kakashi frowned. ANBU were more silent than this, and they didn't bicker.
Travellers? With such horrible weather? In the middle of the night?
Whipping out a kunai, Kakashi's body slumped a bit more in the relaxed tenseness that brought so many enemies to their premature death.
Only he wasn't expecting the sight.
The light of the lantern that was hanging at his right, above his head, could only reach so far with the storm, and it was only in its cone that he was able to see the incomers.
First came a tall orange headed guy, dressed with a black cape. Then the two that were bickering, a male with a familiar–looking blade and a female with flame–coloured hair, both wearing the same cape, the girl's looking dirty for the worse.
All the three of them were completely wet but didn't look like they cared.
Kakashi stepped forwards, trying to attract their attention, but suddenly his own attention was all for the fourth figure stepping from the foliage, a slumped body supporting something on his back.
Kakashi's single eye widened in shock as the figure finally reached the trembling light cone of the lantern.
The blond was huddled in the same white cape he had during his fight against the masked Akatsuki member, a deep contrast with the other three figures –four, Kakashi numbly added as he stared at the person on Naruto's back.
The cape Naruto wore was totally wet, attached to his frame, and ripped in various parts, as though the blond had been running miles through thorn–filled bushes, his hands tightly gripping Sasuke's waist from behind.
Sasuke was unconscious, his whole face minus mouth and nose covered with bloody bandages, his hands falling limply at Naruto's sides, the paleness of his skin far too noticeable in the darkness.
Kakashi's uncovered eye closed, unable to take in the sight.
"Seriously man, are you going to stay still like this forever?" the dull atmosphere was suddenly shattered with the voice of one of the other three, the guy with the sword. Kakashi dully noticed that the guy's eyes wandered from him to Naruto, the fierce look almost wavering at the sight, before strengthening back again.
Kakashi stepped towards Naruto, who wasn't even looking up at him as he spoke. "He's back" he muttered, still keeping strong his hold on the Uchiha. "And he needs Tsunade. Now".
Fermata – stone
Suigetsu looked with a rather perplexed stare at the village around him.
It had been almost two days since Team Hebi's arrival in Konoha, but he had been released by the Hokage only now, after six entire hours spent talking with the ANBU and the village's torture specialist, a strange guy who had looked quite disappointed when the Hokage had refused to allow him to use his methods with the three of them.
Suigetsu was more than thankful though.
Juugo was still in the infirmary, his situation had been explained, and Tsunade had lost no time in accepting their truce, since after Orochimaru's death it would be best to close up all the laboratories.
Suigetsu had seen the interest clearly in the woman's eyes, together with the assurance she would do anything in her hands to help him. If something had to be said about the Konoha shinobi was that they were true to their words.
Suigetsu had been the first to insult them, Sasuke's stupid idea not to kill people, but in a way, he also admired their view. Not that he quite understood or shared the idea with them. Not at all.
As it was, Konoha's Hokage took the Uchiha's return quite calmly, more interested in Naruto's own state than in Sasuke's (Suigetsu had thought it would be the opposite, knowing how the hidden village's policy about bloodlines was), but had healed the raven haired teen nonetheless, preventing anyone from staying with her inside as she did so.
Suigetsu had been actually shocked to learn Itachi had popped out one of Sasuke's eyes whilst fighting (the reason was still unknown), but a battle injury was a battle injury, and an eye was not the worst he could have come up with.
The Hokage had also allowed them free pass through Konoha, knowing that, even if their allegiance fell with the Uchiha, they had no ill feelings towards Konoha and actually she couldn't really hold them up in a cell, as their status was clean.
Karin had remained in the hospital as long as she had been allowed to, accepting a room to sleep into and then visiting the Uchiha as soon as Tsunade deemed it safe to –Sasuke would still be out for a week at the most, since his injuries would require a lot of rest to heal– and Juugo was now a patient of said healer Tsunade, but of the three, Suigetsu was the one that had nothing to do in all the racket.
Thus his bored walking around through the village, eyeing the sake–ya and the small restaurants, not curious at all.
It was only then that his thoughts had returned to the blond boy; when he had stepped out from the building with the Uchiha on his back, Suigetsu had not been the only one to notice there was a change in him.
Of course, he could blame it on the fact that he didn't know this Naruto at all, but when he had presented himself to get Sasuke back, the teen had wanted to fight, and was ready for it. His eyes were burning with determination.
And yet, the moment he stepped out from the Uchiha hideout, his eyes had been clear and cold, a blue so transparent it looked like ice; he had refused to give up Sasuke's body, so Karin had to bandage him right there to ensure he would live long enough to get to Konoha, and then, without a word, Naruto had taken off towards Konoha, without looking back.
He had asked them if they would follow their leader or not, and it had been Karin the one to answer, the three of them (counting Juugo as well, despite his normal denseness) surprised at the strange lack of emotions in the voice.
Sasuke had rarely spoke about something Konoha related, but some things had been easier to get by, and the only thing the Uchiha had said about Naruto was… passionate.
This was far from it, and in his actual uncaring way, Suigetsu was quite worried.
'Well, not worried. More like intrigued' he told himself, nodding in agreement at his own words.
The blond teen had vanished from the hospital the moment Tsunade had ascertained he was fine, when the news of Sasuke's return were not yet of public domain, and since then, he had not visited again.
For someone who had appeared so concerned of Sasuke's welfare and had expressed it fairly obviously back in the Uchiha hideout, it was quite strange.
Suigetsu saw a pink bubble run past him and towards a strange guy with even stranger clothes, but quickly dismissed the two shinobi (the hitai–ate was a giveaway) and resumed his looking around, until some words reached his ears.
"Sasuke–kun is back! Naruto returned yesterday… Tsunade shishou said he wasn't alone, but that Sasuke's companions are free to move through the village".
The kunoichi's face was lightened up in happiness, reminding Suigetsu of Karin, in a way.
The pale guy nodded, a cold smile making its way on his face –a smile that was as fake as Suigetsu's smirks– and flipped a small brush through his fingers.
"Is Naruto safe?" he asked, clearly unimpressed about Sasuke's return.
"Ah, well, I don't know yet –Tsunade shishou said he requested a day off and disappeared as soon as she allowed him to leave the Hokage tower… you should have seen Sasuke's condition, though, Tsunade shishou had a hard time working on him".
The guy named Sai allowed a frown to take place of his smile. "Is Naruto ok?"
Both teens shared some kind of private look, the excited smile on the pink haired kunoichi disappearing from her face. "I don't know, Sai. Something was wrong, and Tsunade shishou was sure of it too, but…" she shrugged. "I wanted to ask you to help me search for Naruto. He isn't at Ichiraku and his apartment is empty…"
Sai nodded at her. "Don't worry Sakura–san," he told her.
There was something he was missing, Suigetsu was sure of this.
Shrugging it away, happy that he had left his sword with the Hokage (moving around through villagers would be quite tiring if everyone was looking at him), he left the two behind and moved through the crowd, wishing for once that Karin was at his side.
The azure haired teen had never despised a person more than her, but she could recognize the blond's chakra and tell him where he was. Suigetsu's curiosity was highly piqued, and he wasn't going to back down.
He was someone who never stopped his own impulses, after all. Apart with Sasuke and his problem about killing. But that was merely because Sasuke was a Konoha citizen, and was stronger than Suigetsu, apparently.
Suigetsu would only admit it to himself, but at certain times he had been afraid of the Uchiha… but even then, he had stressed his boundaries, wanting to know how far he could go.
The thing was, Suigetsu wanted to know about the blond. The reason?
He wasn't supposed to have reasons. The blond teen simply interested him. As easy as that.
Smirking openly, Suigetsu looked up at the giant mountain whose side was carved with the previous Hokage faces (quite the bad taste, but who was him to comment on that?); if he were to get up there, he would have a better view of the village. Someone with a blond head would be easy to spot if he was anywhere in the open, and if he wasn't…
Well, but anyway, Suigetsu had a very good sight.
Ostinato – buried
It felt as if the world had stopped moving –like holding a breath, not willing to let it go.
Even his own heartbeat was dulled somehow, even the colours around him were a bit softer, not as bright as they had looked until the day before.
And yet, Naruto felt everything had never been this sharp before.
Yesterday's rain had been quite welcomed, somehow feeling the droplets on his skin had helped Naruto maintain his grip on reality, because as it was, not even the weight of Sasuke's motionless body on his back had been good enough.
As it was, Naruto could no longer deny his own reaction back at the hideout. He had been disappointed.
The sight of Sasuke on the ground, bloodied and barely alive, had been quite the shock to him, but he could not deny it wasn't the real reason for his sudden subdued mood.
Part of him had known Sasuke would not be unscathed after a confrontation with his brother, but he had believed it would make Sasuke see his mistakes and repent, willingly coming back.
Part of him had even wanted them to see each other, so everything would end up well, so Naruto could have had another incentive to take the Uchiha back.
And the same part of him that had thought rationally about the whole situation, had been the one that stood in front of Sasuke and accepted what he saw. Naruto had somehow felt this was going to be it. He had foresaw the consequences, but the moment he faced them, another part of him had been destroyed forever.
He had turned away.
He had turned away because if he had taken Sasuke back as it was, his own dream would have been shattered beyond repair… because it wasn't how he had wanted it to be. Because it wasn't how he had deluded himself it would be.
Naruto had wanted to run, fast, away from Sasuke.
"I was so stupid, all this time" his voice felt just as hollow as he himself felt. He chuckled, mirroring the same laughter that had erupted from his mouth before. Barely clinging to sanity, he had laughed because he had seen the utterly hilarious side of the situation.
He had promised to bring Sasuke back, and he had forgotten everything else in order to do that, and the only thing he had left to think about was how he would do it. He had given no thought of the after, and now that Sasuke was really back… Naruto had no idea what to do. He felt empty, tired, without energy.
Because to keep his promise he had broken his own dream –the only thing that kept him from realising the agonizing truth about himself, and Konoha.
He had needed something to keep him chained down, because otherwise he would have realised how good it had felt to train with Jiraiya away from the village, how good it had felt to have attention on himself… how good it had felt to concentrate on anything in order to deny that he had no reason to keep up anymore.
Sasuke would never understand why Naruto had brought him back.
He would still want to move away, restart it all, trying to attack Itachi, no matter the injuries he had sustained. Their friendship meant nothing to him. Itachi would always come first…
Whilst for him, Sasuke always came first.
"I have to admit it, it's a good sight from here".
Naruto nearly tripped down from Yondaime's head, where he was sitting, when a voice suddenly spoke from above him; he twisted his back, watching an upside down version of the azure haired teen without the sword looked down at him with a smirk.
"Ah, you're…" Naruto stopped. Despite having travelled from the Uchiha compound to Konoha with him and the other two, he had not bothered to ask for their names. The situation had been quite ruffled, but he had still acted impolitely.
"Suigetsu," the guy said, his smirk widening even more. "If you wonder, though I would ask you why you would in the first place, the other two idiots are Juugo and Karin".
Naruto frowned, confused by the other's speech, but nodded anyway, returning his gaze to the sight in front of him. Coming up there always brought him peace, because Konoha's view from the head of the Hokage mountain was beautiful and calm.
He wanted some time alone, that was why he had asked for a day off, and now this guy had appeared. Maybe he would go away if he ignored him…
"Sasuke is doing fine" Suigetsu continued, sitting down at Naruto's side despite the blond's obvious distress. "I thought you would care for his welfare, after everything you did to bring him back".
"What would you know?" Naruto felt himself ask despite his own thoughts. Had Sasuke spoke about him?
"I heard about the Valley of End" Suigetsu replied, looking down at Konoha as well. "And you kept searching for him for three years?"
"I wanted him to come back –to know he was still wanted here" Naruto commented, a strange undertone in his voice. This kind of conversation wasn't what he had expected from the stranger, but still not something he wanted to indulge into.
Suigetsu bit his lower lip with his sharp tooth and inclined his head to the left, as if pondering over his words. "Why are you here and not with him?"
Naruto sighed. It looked like he wouldn't be alone anymore. "He's asleep, no need to be there. I wanted some time by myself, that's all. What is it to you?"
The other shrugged. "I was just curious, that's it".
For some reason Naruto felt disappointed. "Why did Sasuke choose you to help him out?" 'why didn't he ask me to join him? I would have helped…'
"I am not sure. He freed me from Orochimaru's laboratory tank, and then he also wanted the other two, but I am not sure if he really knew our strength" Suigetsu's hand moved towards his back, but then realised he had no sword with him, and shook his head. "When he had to meet with Itachi he told us not to interfere… actually, we were useless to him".
Naruto frowned, it seemed as if that guy wasn't totally unhappy about it.
There was another thing he had wanted to know about this Suigetsu guy, and maybe asking would take the subject away from Sasuke. "Your sword…?" he wasn't sure why he was holding up his part of the conversation, but it felt nice. Probably because Suigetsu didn't know much about him. "I've seen it before, I am sure of it".
Suigetsu laughed in pride. "Of course, of course. It was Zabuza–sempai's sword, I retrieved it at his tomb".
Naruto felt a cold rush inside his chest at the mention of the Mist man. Memories of him replayed in his head, how he had died, the last thread of his honour and pride restored, and then buried next to Haku.
"My brother was a member of the Seven Swordsmen of Mist, just like him and Kisame–sempai" Suigetsu continued, as if the speech wasn't bothering him at all. "They have disbanded, but my goal is to get all their swords for myself".
His goal… his dream, then?
"I want to show I am far stronger than any of them might ever be, that's all" Suigetsu smirked again. "What is your dream? Don't you want to be strong?"
Yeah, his dream had once been just that –to be strong enough to be recognized. "I want this village to recognize who I am… to see the me behind…" he stopped, eyes wide. He couldn't believe he was admitting such things to a perfectly unknown person.
Said unknown person chuckled, looking at him with acute eyes. "The you behind the demon?" he chuckled more when Naruto paled. "Come on, Sasuke told us about it. And before him, I heard Orochimaru speak about that".
Naruto wasn't sure what to think, but decided that if this guy wasn't freaked out, then he wouldn't be too shocked.
Then, another thing occurred to the blond as he looked at the smirking Suigetsu –talking to him had helped. They had not spoke of anything important, nothing more than a casual chat, but Naruto felt something inside him had changed again.
The casual speech had helped him calm down completely, allowing his heart to catch up.
He had been empty before, not understanding his own actions or the cause of it, but right now he realised he didn't care. Sasuke was back in Konoha, even if he wasn't ok with that, and he would stay there. Naruto had kept his promise, but that didn't mean he had nowhere to go now…
Sure, Sasuke was still the first in his mind, but he would be fine. Slowly, and their friendship would never be fully restored –because on the Uchiha's part the friendship had ceased to exist years before…– but Naruto would be ok too.
Even if Sasuke wasn't his friend anymore, Naruto was still Sasuke's friend.
The smile he sent Suigetsu's way was returned with the same intensity.
Requiem – destruction
They had been there, Sakura, Kakashi, Tsunade, and even two of the three companions Sasuke had chosen –Naruto had been there, of course.
It had taken less than ten minutes for Sasuke to wake up, stare at the faces all around him, and understand where he was, and who had brought him back, not to mention for Tsunade to explain in detail the amount of severe injuries he had sustained.
They all had watched with a twinge of pity as Sasuke's hand had moved upwards, brushing against the bandage that covered what remained of his left eye, the other one widening in shock.
Sasuke had barely heard Tsunade tell him that he would still be able to retain his title of shinobi, had not even realised who was around him –he was completely and utterly furious.
First, Itachi had managed to run away, once again too strong for him to defeat, and this time he had not allowed Sasuke to go away unscathed. He had taken one of his eyes as punishment, as a way to show him he was not strong enough, not yet.
He had seen his pride and honour destroyed with each of Itachi's blows.
Then he had been taken back to the place he had left for revenge, a place he didn't want to be in anymore. Naruto had taken him back –using his and Itachi's fight as advantage.
And now he woke up, with an eye less, only to realise his own team had thought he would be safer here.
But Sasuke knew better –if not for his fight against the Akatsuki member, the one who blew himself off, he would have defeated his brother.
And now he had to face them all in his weakness, when all he wanted was to follow Itachi again, and this time destroy him completely.
In front of the two adults and the other teens, Sasuke had forced his depleted chakra up, growling in hatred, trying to attack Tsunade, Kakashi, anyone, to get away –expecting his team to follow him up again, now that he was awake.
But he had been forced back down, in shame of his own recurring weakness, furious ten times more by the pitying looks they were sending his way.
He had attacked again, sending spiteful words towards Naruto who had brought him back, to Konoha and to his team, and again he had been forced down.
And then the offer had been made –such preposterous offer that had caused an uproar in the room.
"Sasuke, I am willing to give you one of my eyes".
Naruto had been the one, of course. It was always Naruto. Who could have been so stupid to say things like this? No one else. Just him.
Tsunade had gasped out in shock, knowing nothing of that, Kakashi had moved his hand to his own covered eye, feeling a strong déjà vu hit his mind, unable to understand why Naruto would do that.
Suigetsu and Karin, the only two of his team in the room, had both blanched. Suigetsu had been a recurring presence in Naruto's life for the last seven days it took Sasuke to wake up, a strange, comforting presence that allowed Naruto to train and even talk, glad for someone that would not look at him in pity. Karin had wandered around Konoha, surprised to find herself liking the place, in the end, liking some of the younger generation.
Both had not been aware Naruto would offer so much to Sasuke, a way to try and mend their broken friendship, and Sakura had turned pale, scandalized as well.
No one wanted Naruto to keep this offer true.
"Why not?" the blond had looked at all of them with his bright blue eyes, forcing them to understand. "It's important for him –I thought about this. I want to do it!"
So much, all for Sasuke… to Naruto this was not a painful decision –it had been easy, far too easy, to end up this way. What was an eye when he could help Sasuke finally conclude his revenge days?
What was an eye if compared to friendship?
And then they had all been there to witness what exactly Sasuke had thought of Naruto's offer.
The laugh had filled the infirmary room, a clipped, insane and rough laugh that caused them all to still in shock, their eyes turning to him in a split's second. Sasuke had never laughed so hard in his whole life, but the thought of accepting one of the blond's eyes had done the trick.
"So you think I could accept" his words were so laced with malice it was hard to believe he was the one speaking –even him was mildly surprised.
The flash of relief that crossed the Hokage's face was shortly lived.
"How could I accept such worthless eye?! Useless, against the strength of a Sharingan eye!" he glared at the blond with his only eye left, his blurry sight and the twinges of pain coming from what remained of the other one ignored. "Your eyes are worth nothing! I will take my own eye back from him, so why would I use you instead?"
Naruto stood there frozen, shock and pain washing through him. But Sasuke hadn't finished.
"The only thing I'd accept from you would be the only thing you're good at –the Kyuubi's power" the Uchiha sneered, propping up a bit on the hospital's bed to look more closely to the blond.
The slap that echoed right after he finished speaking made his entire world spin around, as a pair of green eyes were looking down at him, filled with hatred.
Elegy – whirlwind
Quite fitting, Suigetsu thought as he made his way up the Hokage mountain, his trained eyes already spotting the blond teen sitting on top of the fourth head –the one belonging to Yondaime– that the last thread of their friendship was to be broken like this.
"Hey, Naruto" he casually said, allowing the blond a second to feel his approach. "I knew you'd be up there".
Despite the problems caused by Konoha's mistrust on Team Hebi, especially Tsunade, who had hard time accepting she could not lock them up away by law, Suigetsu had been able to casually stroll through the village and had the company of Naruto (who had probably been appointed as his 'guard' by the distrustful Hokage), something he had appreciated.
He had come to enjoy his presence, as did Juugo, whose attitude when not controlled by his blood was just as friendly as Naruto's normally was, and it was something uncommon for the azure haired teen, especially after the years of imprisonment under Orochimaru.
Suigetsu had never met someone so easily befriended as the blond, and in the last five days, at least until Naruto had been refused once more by the Uchiha, the two of them had often spent time together.
And still, it was probably something very Konoha–like, to attract and befriend even those who resisted –even Karin had ended up liking the place, after all. And that was saying something.
Suigetsu had been laughing it off at first, telling himself he was merely waiting for Sasuke to wake up, so then they would take off again and make the Uchiha get his second beating from his brother, and repeat until he would understand he still lacked strength and a proper plan, but when Sasuke's eyes had opened, Suigetsu had found himself hoping to have more time.
It wasn't a matter of liking Konoha. Just… Naruto.
He was far too interesting to give up just to follow a madman to his death pledge.
So Sasuke's reaction, despite turning his blood cold in desire of hitting him, had caused Suigetsu to feel a rush of relief.
He would never follow a man who valued friendship so little. Suigetsu himself wasn't totally into the whole friendly stuff, but he valued his companions equally, even Karin, even Juugo, after all. He had immediately considered Sasuke one too, but if the Uchiha could say things like these to someone he had known since childhood, then…
He was unfit as their team leader.
Karin had been hurt as well. She had followed Sasuke mainly because she was attracted by him, but her interest had been short–lived, as she had realised his traits even before seeing this side of him.
She wasn't as compelled in following him anymore either, and the news would reach Juugo as well, in his own infirmary room where the Hokage was treating him.
Naruto's voice was quiet, so low Suigetsu had hard time hearing it. He wasn't trembling or anything, but he did look defeated.
Suigetsu sat down next to him, looking right down at the village, deep in thought. "I don't quite believe the 'why' is important now" he finally said, a small smirk gracing his lips. "Sasuke is… complex. I can't understand what he went through, nor I want to. I am not interested in that. But this revenge thing… is unhealthy. He threw himself in his enemy's hands without reflecting. He was defeated and now he can't accept it, and sends the blame to anyone but himself. I don't know how he was before, but I do believe that no one should allow such disruptive behaviour to themselves".
Naruto blinked, the words of wisdom strangely out of place in the azure haired teen's mouth.
"The 'why' doesn't matter, because there is no answer to that" Suigetsu shrugged.
"Sasuke, the one you knew, is not anymore. Your ideal of 'Sasuke' was of a friend, if you are still so bent in helping him… you are clinging to something that was lost years ago, or that perhaps never truly existed. There should be a 'why' for that too, but I am not asking".
Despite the deep hurt that was burning inside his heart, Naruto's lips twitched in a smile. A tired, sad one, but still a smile.
Maybe Suigetsu could never truly understand the pain Naruto had suffered, nor Sasuke's own pain, but perhaps it didn't matter. If the condition for someone to understand and befriend him was to share his pain, then Naruto wished no one would ever understand.
He would never wish that pain to anyone, so why ask fervently for someone to understand, when others were acting as friends even without such cognition?
"I can't give up on him –he still means something. Even if what I am loyal too doesn't exist anymore, I still owe that Sasuke my friendship. No matter how many times he rejects me" he admitted.
Looking at Suigetsu, who was staring at him, he had the impression that even under these circumstances, the teen could understand.
"I've always had a dream of taking Sasuke back to Konoha… dreamed of what the village's reaction would be… dreamed of how Sasuke would act, that he would understand, and come back willingly… I thought it would be perfect then, but my own dream was too perfect to be true…" he felt himself explain, knowing Suigetsu would listen, but not understanding why he was revealing such private thought to someone he had known by barely a week. "But Sasuke was taken back without understanding my reasoning… and his loathe was apparent just minutes ago… but I had to bring him back!"
"Do you feel like you have to take responsibility for his actions, then?" Suigetsu was looking straight at him, his eyes intent. Naruto felt something shift in his stomach at the sight of the other's complete attention on him.
"Not of his actions, but if I had seen before his need for power, I would have tried to help… I wanted him to understand he can rely on his friends… I just thought that…"
"Naruto" the azure haired teen met Naruto's eyes. "Sasuke's mind is fixed on his revenge. Until then, he will never look at anything else. Until he's got what he wants, he won't listen to any reason… not even through a beating. You did see how he was after Itachi had some time with him" Naruto flinched "and yet he was defiant, not admitting he has no way of beating him yet…"
"Even though he got away at the Valley of End doesn't mean that I will allow him to go away again" Naruto bit back, eyes flaring in anger.
"He left you behind without a second thought, and every time you see him, he shows you he doesn't care… why are you still so determined to be at his side?"
Suigetsu really didn't understand. The blond had friends who didn't act like idiots. Why Sasuke?
"He's the first person who looked at me and saw me" Naruto admitted, finally looking away, right down the village underneath him. Despite it all, despite the hole Sasuke's words had caused in his heart, he couldn't let him go. It would be equal to admitting defeat… and he could not give up on a friend. "how can I give up on him? I care for that teme!"
Suigetsu could not understand this, but perhaps it was because he himself hadn't had many friends to begin with. He despised the mere thought of betrayal of mates and friends because in his mind, they were important. Weapons could be tools, but people were not. Even he had a heart. "He has given you up already".
Something in Naruto's eyes changed, and Suigetsu realised with a start that he had hurt the blond with his words. But they were the truth.
"Naruto" he would not ask for forgiveness, because it was not something he did daily. "Face the truth. He won't care until Itachi is dead".
"And then? What then?!" Naruto's burning eyes flared with anger, fisting his hands on his lap. "If I give up on him he won't have anywhere to come back to!"
"Even with Itachi dead, are you sure he will want to come back? Won't he go against something else? There is no end".
"Listen, Naruto". Suigetsu had to admit that Naruto was truly stubborn. Sasuke had been right, he was truly passionate about everything… so strange to find such passion in a ninja. Different. He had to admit that trying to make him see his point was impossible… he had to twist it around. "Let Sasuke go. If you really trust him to come back, he will in his own time. You can't force him to listen to you… you said you care for him… but if he feels pressured, he will close himself even more. Accept that this is what he wants to do, and simply wait for him".
Naruto's entire anger evaporated in that instant, Suigetsu's words penetrating his mind, burning in his conscious.
He did trust Sasuke. But at the same time, he had actually tried to impose his own view on the Uchiha, who was too sucked up in his revenge need to pay attention. Was this the right way to go instead? Was this–
"I must admit I am jealous" Suigetsu let out a chuckle, even though Naruto detected something in it that was humour. "He doesn't deserve a friend like you. I wish someone would go that far for me as well".
"But I would do the same for you too!" Naruto grabbed Suigetsu's hand, tightening his grip on it and making the older teen look at him. "You are a friend, too!" and he meant it. Naruto easily formed friendship, even when the other part wasn't aware.
Suigetsu blinked in surprise, the warmth of Naruto's hand on his was pleasant for his senses, and a part of him suddenly wanted it to last.
'This Naruto is definitely something else' he thought.
His hand tightened a bit as well, making Naruto realise what he was doing. Flushing a bit in embarrassment, the blond tried to let go, suddenly ashamed of his touchiness that had once again controlled him.
"Ah, sorry" he muttered, but when he tried to tug his hands away, he realised that Suigetsu wasn't allowing him to.
A second later, Naruto's vision was covered by the other's face, as Suigetsu brought their lips together.
It was a mere feathery touch, before he moved away, a smirk appearing on his face as he licked his lips, utterly pleased with himself. That kind of warmth felt pleasant on his lips as well.
Naruto stood frozen for a second, spluttering in shock at the horrible red flush on his own cheeks, before freeing his hands.
"What the hell–"
A second later he punched Suigetsu, expecting him to fall right on the ground by the sheer strength he had used, only to feel his shock turn into confusion as Suigetsu's face exploded in water, recomposing itself the moment Naruto's hand moved away.
"Huh?" was Naruto's intelligent reply, the 'kiss' forgotten.
Suigetsu smirked again, enjoying the confusion written on Naruto's face. At least he knew what he wanted, now.
Duet – priorities
The streets were completely void of people, the few lampposts throwing strange, trembling lights over the houses, the darkness of the night enveloping everything in a mantle of blackness.
Sasuke was staring at the ceiling, deep in thought, trying to think of a way to get away from the bed, get away from Konoha, and track down his brother again. Tsunade had healed his injuries at her best, and despite the white bandages covering half of his face, he actually felt good.
He didn't want to stay here anymore. If only his team had visited him in the last three days, he would have been able to demand to be freed –as it was, he needed to wait for them to get out from the hospital, warded as he was to prevent his escape.
Konoha was once again tying him down, preventing him from finally getting his revenge.
Sasuke's eye turned into cold, red stone as his Sharingan activated, sending a flare of pain directly onto his other eyehole, where no eye was anymore.
Itachi had taken away that and his pride, but now that Sasuke was healed, eye or not, he would get everything.
A shift outside his window attracted his attention and he turned swiftly that way when the window slid open, revealing a blond head; Sasuke gritted his teeth, knowing who exactly was coming into his room, and his old anger resurfaced, making his Sharingan swirl faster.
Naruto stopped there, the only light coming from behind him and thus hiding his face from Sasuke. The Uchiha glared with passion at the still figure, growling at him, almost daring to advance towards him.
Slowly, in perfect silence that was so opposite to his brash acting, Naruto moved near the bed, hands moving towards the restraining wards around Sasuke's legs and arms.
Sasuke almost twisted around, trying to do something, anything –he didn't want to know what Naruto was doing, what he thought he was doing, what–
The wards slid off, falling on the floor with a fluttering sound.
Sasuke blinked in shock.
Naruto turned his back to Sasuke, making the Uchiha fury bubble until it felt almost painfully physical (a double meaning of complete trust or complete underestimation), and moved towards the window again.
Neither had spoken yet.
Sasuke stood up carefully, and a second later was crouched next to the bed, a bit disorientated by the world in a different perspective, but his sight never wandered away from the back of the shinobi in front of him, who was slipping out of the window.
The dark haired teen followed.
Cold whips of breeze hit his skin the moment he exited the room, but Sasuke did not care. He wanted to know why Naruto had freed him, why he still cared even after all the things Sasuke had told him.
Things he wasn't sure he meant or not. It didn't matter anyway.
He was pleasantly surprised to see his team standing underneath the hospital wall, and wondered if they had forced Naruto to help as well. Not that he cared.
"You can go" Naruto finally spoke, his tone low, barely higher than a whisper. "Tsunade won't realise until morning, maybe mid–afternoon, if you are lucky".
Naruto was willingly helping him to escape… when previously he had done everything he could for the opposite reason. He was truly an idiot.
Ignoring him, Sasuke turned towards Suigetsu, who was holding his katana in his hands. The azure haired teen moved forwards, handing the sword to Sasuke, who hesitated a second before grabbing it, his own hand a bit unsteady calculating the distance of things due to his only remaining eye.
It would take him a while to get used to that.
"Suigetsu, Karin, Juugo" he stated, his voice cold. "Let's go".
He turned his back to them and took a step towards the village's wall, only to stop when he realised the other three had not moved. He turned around again, his Sharingan flaring against his control.
The world swayed around him, but he kept his footing and ignored the feeling.
"What are you three doing?" he hissed out, clearly conveying his fury.
"We're not coming" Suigetsu replied, stepping back at Naruto's side; the blond had yet to look up. "We are not leaving Konoha… at least not with you".
Sasuke's eye widened in shock, then he recoiled and narrowed it, glaring at the three of them before his attention turned sharply to Naruto.
It was surely his fault… he had turned his team against him!
Sasuke took a step towards the blond, who was still looking at the ground, but stopped dead in his tracks when Suigetsu stepped in front of him, effectively blocking him. In a way, he was protecting the blond for eventual attacks from the younger Uchiha, even though he didn't need that.
"Go away, Sasuke" he said quietly. Then, completely spontaneously, a smirk made its way on his lips, swinging Zabuza's sword around and pointing it at him. "You never cared to check our strength, it might surprise you".
Sasuke flipped towards Karin, but she was staring at him with the same loathing she had the day they met for the first time. Juugo was looking at him with an emotion in his eyes that Sasuke had hard time recognizing, but when he did, he felt his rage turn cold.
Why would he look at him like that?!
"We won't turn this chase of yours into a massacre, Sasuke" Karin said, pushing her glasses up her nose. "We won't follow you".
Sasuke growled. He could not fight them, because he wanted to keep his full energy for Itachi. But then… if he didn't leave now, the ANBU patrolling would see him.
"I will come back" he hissed, intending his words as a threat, especially for Naruto.
He turned around and started to run.
That was why he never heard Naruto's quiet reply, that made the other three turn his way, all of them sharing the same feeling at the sight.
"I hope so…"
Finale – perfection
Suigetsu rolled his eyes as he stared at the horrid sight of Naruto slurping down his third bowl of ramen, sitting comfortably at the counter in the ramen shop Naruto had called Ichiraku. At his side, Zabuza's sword was carefully placed so it wouldn't be hit by any customer coming in.
Despite his interest and care and… that something more he felt for Naruto, the sight of him inhaling ramen was enough to unsettle him. And that was a first.
Calmly, Suigetsu sipped his water packet, wondering just what did Naruto find in such disgusting food.
"Have you finished yet?" he wondered, twitching in annoyance when Naruto shook his head, pondering over the next flavour he could get. "Naruto, it's not like I have all day".
The blond turned towards him with a smirk, cleaning his mouth with a handkerchief. "Is that so? I suppose since you spend all days mimicking Shikamaru, you'd have all your days filled to the fullest".
Suigetsu didn't really know who this Shikamaru was, but he got the point at the same time.
Not being a shinobi, and not belonging to Konoha at all, he had nothing to do the whole day, spending all his time wasting away in some meadow or another, waiting for Naruto to finish up his daily missions with his team.
At the other side of Naruto, Sai leaned backwards to send Suigetsu one of his usual fake smiles, managing to unnerve the teen even more. Damn doll–faced stuck up. "You should get used to it, water tank" he said calmly, pleased about the nickname he had given Suigetsu.
Suigetsu's eyebrow twitched.
"Sai! What did I tell you about nicknaming people!" Naruto spluttered, trying hard not to snicker at the choice of words.
"That I should research the meaning of them before using them… that someone might find them offensive" Sai replied candidly, sending Naruto's way one of his less fake smiles.
"Yeah, that" Naruto muttered, turning apologetically at Suigetsu and shrugging it off.
Suigetsu shook his head, leaning forwards with a smirk. A second later he was carefully tracing Naruto's lips with his own, cringing a bit at the ramen taste before deciding it was still tasty enough for him.
Naruto's reaction was amusing, just like every time –the blond had yet to accustom himself to Suigetsu's open affection in public– as he spluttered and blushed, pouting in a way that on him looked pricelessly good, punching Suigetsu in the face.
Just as effective as the first time, every single time he tried punching, Suigetsu's face turned into water at the contact, reforming a second later.
"That sucks" Naruto muttered half–heartedly, picking his chopsticks back up and preparing for another bowl.
But both Suigetsu and Sai could see his lips twist upwards in a smile, and both exchanged a knowing look. Suigetsu would never try anything if Naruto had not shown his acceptance… and Naruto had long since given it to him.
He just was a bit opposed to openly affections… something that Suigetsu enjoyed doing instead.
"Apparently Dickless is not as opposed as it'd seem–" Sai had barely time to finish his line before he and the floor had a close, face to face encounter by the same fist that had hit the azure haired sword–wielder before.
Suigetsu smirked again, leaning on the counter of the shop and restarting his favourite hobby –blond sightseeing.
Naruto sighed in frustration, his mind once again thinking in shock at how things had changed in the span of three weeks; in less than a month, he had kept his promise to Sakura, and broken it all the same, allowing the Uchiha to run away again –not that anyone knew it had been him. And he had ended in this strange, twisted sort of relationship with a water tank.
Yes, unexpected things always happened to him. It felt like a small rest before more dangers dawned on him, since the Akatsuki was still on the loose, and Sasuke was still somewhere, running towards the inevitable battle, but as it was, Naruto had never felt more contented.
This was not a start, nor a conclusion… it was just a pause, but he could truly end up settling down with this… things had never been this good. Even if Sasuke's return in Konoha had not been like he had hoped, and nothing had been solved, this… this was…
Naruto peered at Suigetsu whilst blowing on his ramen bowl, smiling as he saw the other still lost staring at him (and probably thinking NC–17 rated things again…); this was not how he had pictured his days to be after his dream ended, in a sort of pleasant normality, but…
It was perfect all the same. A perfect day.
StarsOfYaoi: so this ends the shot. Quite a long way to go. hope it's ok :D
Glossary of words used in this shot:
Suiton –Bakushouha: Water seal –aquatic shockwave. Expels water from the mouth to form a giant tsunami.
Sempai: older colleague in school or at work.
Teme: bastard (technically, just like kisama, is a rough term for 'you' with a light insulting undertone).
Shishou: master. Word used by Sakura to identify her teacher Tsunade.
Glossary of musical terms used in this shot:
Adagio: a tempo having a slow movement; restful at ease.
Canon: A musical form where the melody or tune is imitated by individual parts at regular intervals. The individual parts may enter at different measures and pitches. The tune may also be played at different speeds, backwards, or inverted.
Capriccio: A quick, improvisational, spirited piece of music.
Coda: closing section of a movement.
Deceptive cadence: A chord progression that seems to lead to resolving itself on the final chord; but does not.
Dissonance: Harsh, discordant, and lack of harmony. Also a chord that sounds incomplete until it resolves itself on a harmonious chord.
Duet: A piece of music written for two vocalists or instrumentalists.
Elegy: An instrumental lament with praise for the dead.
Fermata: To hold a tone or rest held beyond the written value at the discretion of the performer.
Finale: Movement or passage that concludes the musical composition.
Glissando: Sliding between two notes.
Ostinato: A repeated phrase.
Progression: The movement of chords in succession.
Requiem: A dirge, hymn, or musical service for the repose of the dead.
Rondo: A musical form where the principal theme is repeated several times.
Tempo: indicating speed.