More than twenty people stood outside all wearing dark clothes. Rookie nine, team Gai, Iruka, Kakashi, Sakura, Sasuke, Tsunde, Jaraiya, Even the owner of That ramen stand and his daughter. Those three kids that used to follow him around everywhere and a few more he didn't recognize.
Neji absently looked at everyone surrounding a stone. Most were crying. It seemed unfair that the sky deemed it unnecessary to rain. It was late in the evening and dusk was quickly approaching. A breeze blew throughout the meadow and the clouds hiding the disappearing sun tinted the area blue.
Neji was faintly trying not to really think about the task that they had all just finished. Burying a friend. A close friend that had changed all their lives for the better, some more than others. The byakugan user suddenly found it very ironic that the sun decided to hide the day they officially said their goodbye's to their own bundle of sunshine.
Lee had tears freely pouring. Neji looked at him first because he was the only one to his left, As he turned to his direct right, Sakura stared at the gravestone without blinking. Her hands were shaking and he thought she might have broken down any second but she was holding out quite strongly. Neji put a hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "Sakura, are you going to be okay?"
She never took her eyes off the stone when she answered him, even her voice was small and shaky. "I can't cry anymore." Her bottom lip trembled. "The tears just won't come, I'm all out." A sad smile graced her lips "…But it's okay though because he wouldn't want me to cry. He'd want us to remember him with happy memories and …" She trailed off before nodding her head. "yes. It's okay not to cry anymore." Neji noted that she was no longer talking to him. Actually he wondered is she ever did. Her mind had probably just been waiting for someone to ask so she could talk to herself reassuringly. He ignored anything more that she said because she began to only voice half of the sentences that she was trying to speak aloud.
His eyes skipped over everyone else and focused on the Uchiha heir who stood apart from everybody else. Sasuke was standing, hands at his sides and his eyes were also glued to the gravestone that held his best friend's name upon it. 'But… '
Neji's eyebrows furrowed. He was an expert at reading someone's mind just by their eyes. It'd been a gift he'd been born with. He couldn't read anything in Sasuke's eyes. They were dead.
He wasn't blinking and not a single tear stained his cheeks. Painful sorrow did not grace his pale face like everyone else's. A small fire of fury suddenly burned inside of Neji. How was he not horribly pained by this loss? He knew for a fact that it couldn't of been from shock because he'd had over 40 hours to come to the realization that he was gone.
Naruto had come to his official end right after dark had fallen almost 2 days ago. Sakura, Lee, and himself had discovered the blonde. Sasuke and his team had gone a different route to intercept the enemy's.
Sasuke had finally killed his brother that dark night. He had been in the middle of a brutal battle along with others when they found out that they had finally 'taken care of the Kyuubi-vessel' using a special jutsu that the aksutski had created after the seventh demon. It enabled them to hold onto the demon's chakra and power inside a barrier-protected crystal-like thing until they could get back to a cave and finish the tiring 3-day jutsu. It made their job a lot easier.
Up against 7 aksutski members all by himself, Naruto hadn't lasted very long. He had managed to finish 3 off but that was it.
The information about his friend had blown Sasuke's top off, apparently. From what Neji had heard, the raven had gone on a killing spree. A blood seeking, painful screaming, and gory-filled killing spree. One of Sasuke's teammates had actually ran and abandoned the mission for fear of the Uchiha turning on his comrades.
Sakura had been too busy yelling and crying on her friend's lifeless body to go and join her remaining teammate in his lovely festivities.
Neji's information on how the Uchiha had acted was based solely on what he had heard in the mission reports and gossip though because by the time he had walked back through the gates where Neji and Shikamaru had been waiting upon the hokage's orders, Sasuke was emotionless.
The raven had walked by calmly, face and body alike were sprayed in blood. That had been surprising. Neji had thought, despite his loss, that the Uchiha would have looked happy or relieved or I something /I after finally killing his brother and fulfilling his dream. Sasuke didn't even acknowledge them as he walked on towards the Hokage tower.
Neji had watched him carefully from that moment to when he went home that night. He had never showed any sign of distress or loss. Sasuke had calmly given a full report of the massacre of his brother and how he destroyed the crystal that had held the once-demon chakra. Kyuubi had died the second Naruto did. His pure demonic chakra had simply been sucked out.
Neji looked around. Some people had gone home while he'd been thinking. Konohamurou and the other two Genin were gone, probably taken by the now-missing Iruka. The Hyuuga could faintly see Jaraiya walking a still weeping Tsunde back. Sakura was now leaning down next to the grave, hand lightly tracing along the carved letters. Neji's two teammates plus Ino were on her either side, giving her support as she trembled. She still wasn't crying. It was true, she had cried herself dry.
Neji's cousin, Hinata, was still silently crying into Kiba's shoulder. Shino had left awhile ago, along with Shikamaru. Kakashi was the Only other Sensei who still remained. He was starring warily at Sasuke, who still looked exactly how he had twenty minutes ago.
The byakugan user blinked in surprise when he felt something cold hit his cheek. A moment later another one hit his forehead. It was raining?
He looked up and sure enough very light-gray clouds now covered the sky and not 5 seconds later a light spray littered across the clearing. As it slowly got heavier and heavier and the sky darkened, more people began leaving. Soon enough the only people who were left was Neji, Sasuke, and Kakashi.
It'd been about two or so hours ago when Uzumaki Naruto's funeral had started and Sasuke STILL stood their staring at the grave with unwavering eyes. Neji frowned. Sasuke's empty stare was unnerving him. No sadness, no mourning, nothing but a body standing there in the rain. Kakashi still hadn't moved from his spot under a small branch of tree's but it was nothing like the raven.
Neji took a step forward, then another. He slowly made his way across the clearing in the pouring rain until he was standing next to the Uchiha heir.
"Sasuke…" He didn't move. Neji opened his mouth to say something more to him, whether they were words of comfort or words of his anger towards the other man, he didn't know but they got stuck in his throat. Neji raised a hand and waved it in front of the other's face to tell him that he wanted his attention but nothing changed. Neji was starting to get annoyed. "Hey." He slightly pushed the other's shoulder with just enough force that the boy had to move his left foot in order to not fall. 'Well, that proved he wasn't dead.'
Sasuke didn't 'snap back to reality' or 'finally realize he was being talked to' which were the reactions the byakugan user was expecting. Instead his eyes oh so slowly left the grave and swiveled to his eyes, then over to Kakashi who was watching and then he turned around. Two or three slow seconds passed by before Sasuke took a step forward and began his steady way home.
That annoyed Neji too. He walked normally; calmly. He didn't walk in a hurry to get out of their quickly but he didn't walk slowly to pass by time. He looked like someone had picked him up when he was in the middle of a relaxing walk-in-the-park and set him down in the wrong picture. As Neji's vision of the raven began to blur due to the rain he turned around and walked his own way, passing Kakashi who also turned and walked slightly behind him.
The wind howled and the rain began swishing around the grave, covering it in blankets of water.
Neji sat next to an exhausted Kakashi who was holding a beer. On the copy-nin's other side sat a shit-faced Iruka.
That would have been an unbelievable sight before but this was the teacher's second night in the bar. Iruka would sit on the stool, his head laying in his folded arms on top of the counter and as soon as someone would think he had passed out he would sit back up and swallow another strong drink.
Neji took his second sip of the night. He didn't drink much but he would stay here to pass the time. It was much more easier to not think about everything when he was in public, even if everyone around him was thinking and talking about Naruto.
The bartender was leaning against a wall behind the counter drying off a clean cup. He was sporting a blackening eye but refused to shut down the place for the night because it was filled. Kiba had punched him earlier when he had cracked a rude joke about how Naruto was giving him a lot of new customers.
Neji put a few bills down next to his half-full cup and walked out after saying goodbye to his friends and patting Iruka lightly on the back. He walked home and performed a jutsu to make him fall asleep instantly.
I the next day /I
Neji paused in his walk across Konoha and stared at the now familiar door of the pub that had indiscreetly became the meeting place of the ninja's. It was the fourth night since Naruto had died and now one night since his funeral.
There was much doubt in his mind that this would stay everyone's routine for very long. Within 2 weeks people would probably start disappearing from the evening nights here and within two months it'd probably just be a place for whoever caught themselves thinking about old memories of the blonde.
Neji decided to walk in. He'd probably only stay for an hour or two because he wasn't in the mood for any alcohol. He looked around. It wasn't that different from the night before.
Kakashi, Iruka, Azuma, Kurenei, Jaraiya, Shikamaru, Kiba…a few more.
Gai had opted to stay with Lee because it was common knowledge that he wasn't allowed in here. Hinata, Ten-Ten, and Sai had already been sent out on new missions. Not on the same team but sent out on the same day.
Sakura often came and go every few hours or so. Not to really drink but to talk and confide in Ino and a few others, she wasn't here yet. The Uchiha had never came in here as far as Neji knew. Tsunde was in her office but Shizune had come down once to get her extra sake. …That was slightly surprising considering she was normally the one reprimanding the Hokage for drinking.
He sat down in his normal seat and nodded to Kakashi in a silent greeting. He never really talked to the grey-haired man but he found him interesting and for some reason he felt oddly comforted when he was in his presence.
An uneventful hour and a half passed by before it was interrupted. Outside a crash was heard and someone yelled at somebody to "Watch it!"
Many people looked towards the doorway along time before it opened. That would separate the shinobi from the civilians.
The wooden door was slammed open and a panting Sakura stumbled in noisily. Before anyone could reach her she fell to the ground on her knee's, sobbing uncontrollably. Neji, Kakashi, and Ino were the first ones to reach her. Neji stayed standing while Ino sat down and wrapped her arms around the pink-kuniochi comfortingly. She didn't know what was going on but apparently she thought she was helping out until Sakura sobbed harder, tears streaming down her face.
Sakura was taking in deep breaths while clutching her chest. It was apparent that she had intended to tell them something but she couldn't find the breath between her hiccupping, sobbing, and moaning. Neji wasn't sure but it looked like she was half-hyperventilating, just not getting enough time and control on her body to do so.
Kakashi bent down on one knee in front of her and gripped her shoulders firmly. "Sakura, What is it?!" They would of thought she hadn't heard him but she reached forward and knotted her hand in his shirt, gasping for breath while still sobbing uncontrollably. Kakashi shook her shoulders a little roughly "Sakura!" was she having a serious panic attack?!
Neji didn't even know he had done it until he was pulling back but…He slapped her. Hard. He thought Kakashi was going to turn and punch him for it but Sakura had slightly stopped. She was still slightly gasping in small breaths of air but she stared at the ground with wide eyes until she looked back up to Kakashi. Her body began to shake again as she spoke. It was hard to understand her because her voice was straining to form words. "S-S-Sasuke…" She pointed a violently shaking hand in the general direction of his house before trying to continue. "H-he… Kaka-…hiccup …He…oh, SASUKE!!" she wailed before slumping to the floor, still crying.
Kakashi ran out the door and Neji followed, assuming Ino and them would take care of the girl. A few rooftops later hey were joined by Shikamaru who was slightly straying behind while panting. Neji was struggling to keep up with Kakashi's pace too. "Jaraiya's taking Sakura to the Hokage." He heard Shikamaru yell from behind him. He nodded.
The byakugan user sped up so he could sneak a glance at the copy-nins face. He looked determined. Maybe a little sad, too? They were moving at an almost unbelievable speed across the rooftops towards the Uchiha compound but Neji couldn't blame him. He'd already lost one student this week, of course he'd worry about the others, it was natural.
But they didn't even know what happened. Though Neji had much respect for the Kuniochi, He wouldn't be too surprised if she had just been brutally yelled at. Sasuke may have hit her …maybe said something about Naruto to set her off? Personally Neji had began to believe that Sasuke just didn't care about his dead teammate. Well, of course he had I cared /I about him but not nearly as much as Neji had thought before…
They jumped off the roof of the house that stood in front of Sasuke 2-story mansion. Kakashi never stopped as he ran through the already open doorway without checking for enemies or traps. Neji raised his eyebrow's in surprise, was The famous Kakashi really that careless?
He activated his byakugan as he entered the house, Shikamaru right behind him. Kakashi was checking a room downstairs before running over and quickly peeking in the kitchen.
Neji looked around through his clan's eyes. He didn't automatically see any chakra's inside the home. In fact, there weren't any other chakra signatures around the house at all. But a weird sensation filled his mind when he looked towards a certain room above him. Suddenly he didn't fill quite right. A shiver ran through his body. Kakashi paused his search and watched as Neji slowly made his way up the stairs. Shikamaru was already up there checking a bathroom. Kakashi followed.
Neji started to move quicker when he reached the top of the staircase and headed in the opposite diretion of Shika, down the long hall. He didn't pause as he reached a certain door. He knew that whatever they were supposed to be looking for,…it was in here. He gripped the handle and pushed the door open.
With a gasp and wide eyes, he stared at the sight in front of him. He faintly heard Kakashi yell behind him and shove him to the side as he ran through the doorway. Kakashi stopped a foot away from him. What was he supposed to do?
…And that was it for him. Kakashi, the famous copy-cat-ninja of Konoha, a strong and respected shinobi, broke down.
Neji could I feel /I Shikamaru standing behind him with his mouth hanging open but the Hyuuga couldn't pull his eyes away from the sight.
On the floor was a very small puddle of blood. Every now and then one or two new drops of red would splash and join the puddle. The blood was dripping down a red-tainted hand from 3 deep cuts on a pale wrist. That wrist was in mid-air and connected to a arm that led to its unmoving owner.
A body hung limply from a rope that was tied to a ceiling hook.
b Uchiha Sasuke had commited scuicide not twenty-four hours after Naruto's funeral. Initial cause of death: He hung himself after slitting his wrist. On a note sitting on a desk a few feet away, were the three simple words "I loved him." /b
Sakura, Kakashi, and Iruka were put on full-time watch by orders of the hokage. They never left the sight of an ANBU for 3 months.
Word had reached Konoha that Suna had had to restrain their Kazekage when news of the kitsune's death had reached them. If Gaara still had had Shikuaku, that village may have been in serious trouble. Either way several ninja's from sand were on their way to pay their respects to Naruto. Tsunde had decided earlier to not send the information on Uzumaki to them because she knew it'd cause an uproar. So now her life was probably going to get a lot more tougher.
Many regular citizens of Konoha were more sad that the Uchiha blood-line had died out then the fact that two of their best Shinobi had passed away.
Neji himself felt like this was some sort of bad dream but he knew he was awake because
…only reality could be so cruel.