Shinobi rule Number 25 by Mr. Lee

A NaruSaku WAFF and a NaruTsu family one-shot based off of manga chapters 404-406

Rated T for a dose of angst, WAFF and Kleenex moments

Disclaimer: This fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only. The author of this fanfiction does not own Naruto or its characters. Naruto is owned by Masashi Kishimoto. Any other similarities are purely coincidental.

Author notes: Hello Naruto fans :)! It's been a while. Mr. Lee is here trying to get back into the swing of things with this short NaruSaku one-shot based off the recent events that happened in manga chapters 404-406. To be brutally honest, the main reason I haven't really updated as of late (Besides the usual BS of Life.), is mainly because due to the events that are happening in the Naruverse, I'm really starting to lose love for the series that made me throw my hat into the fanfiction ring, which helped me meet great fans and friends like all of you. A number of great authors on the site have felt the same way I have and have since retired from fanfiction.

Now don't panic. I'm not saying that I'm retiring nor am I thinking about it. But I'm sure that hardcore fans of the series can understand my frustration. Hence, one of the reasons I'm writing this is to get back into the swing of things, while providing you with great reading that hopefully I always give you LOL XD. As I'm sure the readers of the manga are fully aware of, Naruto has found out about the death of Jiraiya. And needless to say, he has not taken it well. And while those parts of the chapters weren't too bad, it could have been much better. The Iruka part was kind of strange to me since from my personal knowledge has never truly spoken to Jiraiya in the series. As for Shikamaru, as much as he says that he understands how Naruto feels, if he knew the real truth, he wouldn't have been so quick to open his mouth.

In any case, after seeing that, and talking to a few friends, I decided to write a revised version of that chapter in the way I know best. Obviously, it will be slightly AU and there may be a tad OOCness, so be prepared. I dedicate this to my friend Gnosismaster, for his thoughts and help in this. I also want to give a special dedication to my old friend, fellow author and NaruSaku vet Storm of Silver. I will miss you. Good luck in whatever you do. You are one of the few authors who inspired me to become one, and for that, I thank you. Well, here goes nothing. Despite this being more of a 'test' to me, I hope you like it still. Enjoy :)!

A shinobi never shows their feelings, no matter what the circumstances. Feelings are a weakness that only clouds their judgment and weakens their sense of duty- 25th principle of shinobi

Say what we will. Do what we will. In the end, we shinobi are still just people after all…with feelings all too human- Momochi Zabuza after Naruto shows him how important Haku was to him

Being hurt inevitably breeds feelings of hatred towards your attacker. But when we hurt others, we have to deal with their hatred for us, and out own feelings of guilt. But knowing what it feels like to be hurt is exactly why we try to be kind to others. That's what makes us human.- Jiraiya to Nagato

Uzumaki Naruto rests on his bed, trying to rest his body, his mind, and his old wounded heart and soul. An old wounded heart and soul that should be as young as he is, but it's not. Too much has happened in the short time he has been on this world for them to be young anymore.

He ponders about his failure of bringing Sasuke back. Stopped by the leader of the Akatsuki himself, Uchiha Madara. He spoke so strongly when he saw Itachi for the last time. How he would 'save' Sasuke no matter what. But now, the spiky blond feels that his words are hollow now. That they don't have the same fire in them as they did when he spoke to Jiraiya back then.

Truth be told, he was tired. He knows that Itachi has been defeated by Sasuke, thanks to Madara's parting words. But Sasuke still didn't come back. He still felt that weakness when he last saw him. When he last failed. The third time wasn't the charm. This was his third strike, and he finally wanted out. But he dare not say it out loud. He couldn't, for many reasons, no matter how much he wanted to. And he hated himself for it, because it would be another thing he had to hide under his mask. It was then that he heard a tap from his window. Sitting up quickly, he pulled open his shades to see the copy ninja.

"Wh-what? Kakashi…?" Naruto mumbled as he wiped his eyes.

"The Godaime wants to see you. Get ready immediately." Kakashi said in a surprisingly serious voice. Naruto nodded and complied with his request. Ten minutes later, they walked quietly to Hokage tower, the young ninja wondering what Tsunade wanted to see him about that was so urgent. Reaching the tower, he sees two old friends sitting next to the tower.

"Huh? Boss and Gamakichi." The spiky blond said with surprise.

"Hey Naruto." Gamakichi responded, without his usual energy.

"What are you two doing here so early in the morning? Did something happen?" He inquired, since only he and Jiraiya would be able to summon them at the same time.

"Actually…" The young toad started to say.

"Gamakichi! Keep your trap shut! Let the boss and Tsunade take care of it!" Gamabunta said, angrily cutting his son off. The young toad lowered his head and remained silent. Naruto looked at them with confusion, wondering what was going on.

"What was that about?" The young man asked as he turned to Kakashi.

"It's not important. Let's go." The jonin said as he turned his head away and kept walking. Naruto could only look at him strangely. But deep inside, he wasn't really surprised that people hid things from him. Even in three years time, he felt that some things never changed when it came to his precious people. And though he wouldn't say it, it would hurt him.

A few minutes later, Naruto walks into Tsunade's office. When he's inside, he sees Sai, Shizune and Sakura all looking at him sadly on his right side. While on the left, three toads look at him quietly. As he stands in the middle of the room, the small bearded toad, affectionately call 'Pa toad' by a chosen few, speaks.

"So, this is little Jiraiya's apprentice." The old toad said.

"Yes…This is Uzumaki Naruto. He's probably the child of prophecy you talked about." Tsunade confirmed.

"What's going on? Are you one of the old man's frogs?" Naruto asked with agitation.

"Hey! Watch your language Naruto! This is Fukasaku, one of the two great sages of Myobokuzan. He's come all this way to speak to you." The Godaime Hokage explained.

"Actually, I'm one of the two great sage frogs. But more importantly, there's no doubt you're little Jiraiya's apprentice now, is there?" The sage asked.

"Little Jiraiya? Little!? Why are you treating Ero-sennin (Perverted hermit) like a kid!? Just who the hell are you, you old frog!?" Naruto shouted in annoyance, feeling that he was disrespecting the sannin.

"I said watch your language! This is Jiraiya's master. The one who taught him his sage techniques." The slug queen replied in a scolding fashion.

"Ha ha ha! Ero-sennin! That fits Jiraiya to a T." Pa toad laughed, which lightened up the room a bit.

"What do you want from me, old sage?" The young man asked after calming down a bit. The small, but powerful toad lowered his head slightly, letting out a sigh, knowing that what he was about to say would be painful for him to hear.

"Hmm…Where should I begin? Well…I guess I better start with this. Little Jiraiya died in battle." Fukasaku told him truthfully as he looked into the eyes of the boy. Needless to say, Naruto was completely stunned and flattened by the shocking news.

"Huh?" He said in a weak voice, making everyone in the room frown. "Wh…What are you talking about?" He asked once he got his bearings back a bit.

"His throat was crushed in his battle against Pein. Little Jiraiya left me a message as he fell. This is it…" The old sage replied as he took off his tiny robes and turned around to show Tsunade the message.

"A code…" Shizune confirmed as she looked at the numbers.

"No doubt he did it so Pein wouldn't realize. This is all that is left of him…" Pa toad said. Putting his robe on again, the toad continued. "At first, little Jiraiya was just supposed to gather information. He wasn't supposed to fight Pein. But Pein's powers were far beyond his wildest imagination. Without understanding his powers, no one could beat him, no matter how many times they fought. Little Jiraiya overextended himself. He was trying to figure out Pein's powers. No one else would have been able to get this far. But…he could have got away if he tried. But instead, he left us this code in exchange for his life. He left the rest to you." He finally finished as he turned to look at Naruto once more. As he did, everyone else looked at him as well.

The blond ninja looked down towards the floor as all the eyes in the room turned to him. He couldn't bear to look at anyone right now. He truly wished that it was a dream, that he was still back at his apartment sleeping, and that he would suddenly wake up. But he knew as usual, it wasn't meant to be. Messages, codes, child of prophecy, he didn't care about any of that. He didn't listen to any of that. Jiraiya of the legendary sannin, the toad sage, was gone, and he wasn't coming back. It was then he felt that familiar pain he has felt since he was born. And when he felt it, he would, as always, feel it alone. But this time, he felt like 'sharing' it, even if it did for once, make him feel selfish.

"Did you send him…?" Naruto asked in a hard voice that almost sounded like a fierce growl, making both Sakura and Sai gasp.

"I did." Tsunade replied without hesitation.

"Why did you let him go!?" The spiky blond shouted in rage as he glared at her.

"Stop it Naruto." Kakashi said. But the young man just ignored him.

"You know how he is! How could you send him into danger all alone!?" The young man berated.

"You must know how she feels." The copy ninja said, reminding him that they were teammates. Naruto turned his head angrily at his old sensei, surprising even him. But he remained silent. He looks at her face for a few seconds before turning away from her in disgust with his eyes closed and his head lowered.

"…Damn it!" He said with grinded teeth as he headed towards the door.

"Naruto! Where are you going!?" Sakura, who has remained silent throughout the whole thing, responded in an angry tone as she starts to go after him.

"If Ero-sennin had been made the Godaime Hokage, then Tsunade wouldn't have forced him to do this…I know it." Naruto spat out with extreme difficulty as he walks out and slams the door. Tsunade lowered her head disgracefully after the parting shot Naruto gave her, making her feel as if she's been slapped in the face. The fact that he called her Tsunade in such a cold way and not the affectionate form of Tsunade-baachan (Granny Tsunade) only made things worse, especially since a part of her felt that she deserved it.

"Naruto!" The pink haired kunoichi shouted once more.

"Sakura…its okay. Just leave him alone for a while." The beautiful blond said quietly with her head still lowered. Sakura clenched her fists after hearing that. Normally she would have obeyed her master. But her anger got the best of her.

"No! I'm gonna drag him back here if I have to!" The med-nin told her as she ran out after him.

"Sakura, wait!" Kakashi shouted. But it fell on death ears as the door closed.

"I'm sorry Fukasaku. Maybe you can speak with Naruto another time." The Godaime Hokage said with her voice still quiet.

"Yes…That's fine." Pa toad said as he looked at the ninja leader, her eyes closed and head still lowered. "About the child of prophecy of which I spoke…I can tell that boy loved Jiraiya. I want the child of prophecy to be like him. That is my fondest wish." He added.

"The world has not been kind to him Fukasaku. And neither has the people he believes in. If what you say is true, then fate is truly more cruel than kind. But I guess putting it all on fate is a sucker's bet. After all, when wishes are gone, hope gives nothing. And hopes, especially his, have given him just that. Nothing." Tsunade said cryptically.

"Tsunade-sama…" Shizune said somberly. Everyone in the room couldn't help but lower their heads at that, Pa toad included.


As Naruto walked out of Hokage tower, his thoughts turned to all the good times he's had with Jiraiya in the two and a half years he traveled with him. But at the same time, he thought about the bad times as well. It made him feel torn; caught between the realms of sadness and anger. It was then that Sakura came running after him. The young woman screamed his name, but he was in another world, or maybe he didn't even care. It was only when she ran up to him that he even noticed.

"Naruto, wait a minute!" Sakura called as she finally was right next to him. "Where are you going? Hokage-sama and the toad sage weren't done talking with you!" She said with a choleric tone.

"I'm not going back to see that old bat Sakura-chan. Leave me alone." Naruto mumbled as he looked at her for a moment before turning his head back and lowering it.

"I know you're upset about Jiraiya-sama. But we're ninja Naruto. You know that we can die at any time. He was Tsunade-sama's teammate for years! How do you think she feels?!" She explained to him, getting annoyed at his stubbornness.

"Sakura-chan, back off. Please, just leave me alone!" He warned her in a hard tone.

"No Naruto! You're just being a stubborn baka (idiot) as always! Now stop acting like a kid and let's go back so you can apologize." The med-nin said as she grabbed his arm roughly and proceeded to drag him like she always did. It was then that Naruto had finally had enough. In his current emotional state, he was in no mood and in no state of mind to keep his mask up. So he decided to take a stand against his long time teammate, and perhaps the closest person to his heart. Even if it opened up old wounds. Even if it ended up hurting someone that was precious to him. Standing firm to prevent himself from being dragged, Naruto turned and grabbed Sakura's arm, roughly dragging her to an alley a short distance away.

"Naruto, what are you doing?!" The kunoichi asked, shocked by his actions. Once they were in the alley, he jerked his arm and released her, making her back hit the wall. "What was that for?! What's wrong with yo-" Sakura's sentence was cut off as Naruto punched the wall next to her head, stunning her into silence. She looked into his eyes, and saw that his cerulean blue eyes were full of sadness, but slits were in the place of his pupils as his face was contorted with a rage he's hidden inside of him for years.

"Tell me Sakura-chan. What is Shinobi rule number twenty five?" Naruto inquired with a growl.

"Huh?" Sakura said, her body shaking slightly from his piercing gaze.

"Don't tell me you've forgotten. You said it so well back then, when you thought that Sasuke was dead." The spiky blond said joylessly. The young woman's body grew cold after hearing that as her memory of that battle at the bridge in Wave country came to the front of her thoughts. "After that battle with Haku, when you asked what happened to him and I told you, you ran to him, running past me like I didn't even exist…" He told her.

"Naruto…that's not…" Sakura started to say.

"DON'T LIE TO ME!" He shouted at the top of his lungs, cutting her off and making her gasp. "You sat there stroking Sasuke's hand and face, reciting that rule you learned so well in the academy. What was it again? Oh yeah. A shinobi never shows his feelings, no matter what the circumstances. Feelings are a weakness that only clouds his judgement and weakens his sense of duty. It's been four years and I still remember that. Not bad for the reigning king of stupid, don't you think?" He said as tears stung his eyes. The pink haired young woman wanted to say something, but he raised a hand to silence her. He's held this in him for years, and he wanted nothing more than to get it off his chest.

"But you want to know why I remember that? It's because that was the hardest you ever cried since I've known you. You sobbed and wailed his name so hard that day. And with every sob, it was a stab of pain in my heart and soul. But you didn't even care how I felt. Just like that day when I gave up more than you can imagine, just to make you happy…" His voice started to crack as Sakura lowered her head, already knowing the day he was talking about.

"You came to me that day, with tears in your eyes, asking, no, begging me to bring him back to you, and again, you didn't care about how I felt. To this day, I always wondered what you told Sasuke that night when you couldn't convince him to stay…" The young man said, making Sakura turn her head away from him, hoping to Kami he wouldn't ask her to reveal her forgotten sin. "…Don't worry. I won't ask you, since I know all of you hide things from me 'for my own good'." He spat the last part out with spite and bitterness before he continued. "Anyway, you knew about my nindo. To never go back on my word. And despite how I felt, I wanted to make you happy. I wanted to do whatever it took to grant you your wish…" His voce took a soft, but melancholic tone.

"Yes Naruto. I know…" Sakura said softly, her memory of his four tailed form flashing before him.

"No Sakura-chan. You don't." Naruto countered.

"What do you mean?" The kunoichi asked. Naruto removed his jacket and lifted up his shirt. What Sakura saw made her gasp. There she saw the permanent scars on his chest and shoulder. Scars that not even Kyubi's powers could heal. Scars left by his 'brother'.

"These are the reminders of what I gave up for you. It would have been easy to kill someone I called my friend, the one I thought of as a brother. But despite getting a Chidori rammed into me twice. Despite him trying to kill me in order to get his Mangekyo Sharingan. Despite him spitting in the face of all of us, and the sacrifices we made for him. I held back for you. I spared him for you!" Naruto bellowed with a scowl on his face as he pointed to her.

"No…stop it…" Sakura said while turning her head away.

"When we failed to bring Sasuke back the first time, Sai told me on the way back to the village that Sasuke told him he only had one brother, and it was the one he would kill with his own hands. I was hurt, but not surprised. That day, he cut the bonds with me…with us…of his own free will. It wasn't Orochimaru, the curse seal, or anyone else. It was all him. And these are the proof. I've been denying that for years. But I always knew." The spiky blond explained as his tears continued to fall.

"Naruto…why? Why are you saying this to me?" The med-nin asked absentmindedly.

"Because I'm tired Sakura-chan! I wanted to keep your once in a lifetime request, no matter how much it hurt me. No matter how much Ero-sennin and Itachi called me a fool for keeping it. But more importantly, I wanted to keep it because I never wanted to hear you say the words you said about me the first time we became a team." He told her as he gave her a sad smile.

"W-What words were those?" She asked nervously. Sakura had said many disparaging remarks about Naruto that day, so in her mind, it could have been anything.

"The one I hate…is Naruto…" He revealed, making her gasp in horror, as she saw his true reason for fighting so hard to bring him back. To giving into Kyubi's temptation when he fought Orochimaru. To carrying both of their pain and suffering on his shoulders. Sakura's tears finally fell as he turned his back to her. "Back then, when you said that, I knew you meant it with all your heart and soul. You gave everything to him, and the front of your fists to an annoying baka like me. Even so…I tried so hard to protect you…I took everything you gave me, all the rejections, all the hits, all the times you pretended I didn't exist…only because I thought if I made you happy…you would at least treat me like you treated him and the others that were precious to you. That's why I was able to take such risks to get him back. That, and because I was afraid…afraid that you would hate me." He told her honestly.

"Naruto…" Sakura muttered.

"I know things have changed between us since then. But it was only because…of this." He turns back to her and focuses chakra into his hand and places it on his stomach, making the seal appear. Sakura was confused by his action, but she got it a minute later.

"No Naruto! You're wrong!" The kunoichi shouted.

"Am I?! When you found out the truth. When Chiyo-baachan told you what happens when a biju is removed. When you saw me like…that, it was only then that you thought or cared about my feelings or my wellbeing! That's why you lied to me when you got hurt, even though Yamato-shishou had the courage to tell me the truth! Well, I don't need or want your pity Sakura-chan! Save it for that bastard you love and want me to get back so badly!" He roared at her angrily.

"Stop it!" The young woman screamed. It was then that Sakura pulled her arm back and punched him in the face. She didn't know what compelled her to do that, but after hearing that, she was enraged, despite her knowing that Naruto was upset and not himself. Naruto didn't flinch or fly back as he usually did, he just stood there, with blood coming out of the side of his mouth, looking at her blankly, as if he expected her to do that. The kunoichi wanted to say something, anything, but nothing came out of her mouth except air.

"See Sakura-chan? Some things never change. I know that no matter what, you'll never care about me without thinking about me being a jinchuriki. Ero-sennin and Itachi were right. I am a fool. As long I kept my promise, nothing else mattered, and look where it got me. I always tell everyone I want to be Hokage, that I want everyone to respect me. But even after four years, I'm still the dobe (Dead last) of all of us. The one that everyone still calls the baka. The little genin that doesn't understand anything, and is always the last to know things that everyone else does. If I wasn't so focused on Sasuke, maybe I could've focused more on my training. I could've focused more on those Akatsuki bastards. Maybe I could've stopped what happened to Gaara and the other biju that have probably suffered. And then…Chiyo-baachan…Asuma-sensei… and…Ero-sennin would be alive…" Naruto sobbed as he grabbed his things and jumped away in his grief.

"Naruto, wait!" Sakura called out. But the blond was already gone. She slid down the wall as she looked up at the sky. As much as people told her how much she understands Naruto, this was truly the first time she saw the real him. The 'him' that he hid away from everyone. The 'him' that was behind that false grin and smile she always seen. The one she thought showed who he truly was. She turned her head and looked at the scar on her arm. The scar that her teammate gave her when she said she would save Sasuke for him.

It was so easy to blame the demon fox for it, to say that Naruto wasn't himself during that time. But now, after he bared his scarred heart and soul to her, she couldn't help but think that when he lashed out at her in his four tailed form, if it wasn't a part of him deep inside himself that hated her for all the pain she caused him since they've known each other. As kindhearted, hyperactive and full of energy as Naruto was, as funny as it sounded, it was easy to forget that he's human. It was at that point she thought about what Naruto said to her before he started to fulfill her once in a lifetime request.

"Sakura-chan, you really love Sasuke huh? I know how much pain you're in because of Sasuke. I can understand very well, the pain you're going through…"

"I…I'm so stupid…All this time, even back then… and he…I'm so stupid…" Sakura mumbled as she wept. It took her four years, but at long last, she now saw an important thing she had overlooked since she's known him. A thing that has been eating him alive for four years, and that has come out in the worst possible way.

Naruto's apartment- Several hours later

After speaking about his issues with Sakura, Naruto swiftly went home without looking back. Once inside, he quickly took off his jacket and just tossed it on the floor, not caring where it went. He sat on his bed, still feeling the sadness and anger from before. But it was now accompanied by a large dose of guilt. He tried to eat, but his cup ramen remained open and untouched, the only moisture hitting them being his salty tears. As the late night came, he put some casual clothing on, and decided to get some air. He walked slowly through the empty streets of the village, enjoying the quiet that only the night can give. Grateful that there was no one telling him that they understood his pain or that they knew what he was going through. Those people had others to lean on and comfort him. He, as always, only had himself to do that.

While walking, he came upon a twenty-four hour store. He went in and purchased a double popsicle stick, the same flavor he shared with his teacher so long ago. Back then, he truly thought that the sannin was a jerk. While he trained so hard, he went to the village for his research, while using his money to do it. But when he shared that simple treat with him, it made his day. The blond smiled at that memory, but it only lasted a brief moment as he left the store and went to a bench where a single lamppost illuminated it. He slowly sat down and removed the wrapping off the popsicle. But he made no other action. He just held it in his hand, letting it melt on the ground and join his tears.

"Mind if I join you?" A female voice, cautious and soft called out to him. He lifted his head towards the voice to see the last person he thought he would see. Tsunade was also dressed in casual clothes, wearing her blue jacket instead of her gambling one. Tonight at least, she was the not a Hokage, a sannin, or a legendary med-nin. She was just Tsunade, the woman. A woman who was looking for someone who was in as much pain as her, if not more.

"Do whatever you want…" Naruto mumbled as he turned his head back and looked at down at the popsicle that was still melting. Tsunade quietly sat next to him, staying quiet for about a minute before she began to speak.

"Sakura told me what happened between you two." The slug queen said. He remained silent, not making notice that he heard her. "Everything that has happened since Sasuke left. You must have been holding that inside you all this time. I'm sure it was very hard and painful for you." She said. He nodded silently in confirmation. "I'm sorry Naruto-kun. I know it won't make up for anything now. That it won't change anything that's happened. In our line of work, it's easy for us to forget that we all have thoughts and feelings, regardless of what the twenty fifth rule of shinobi tells us to be. If I had known what you were going through, I wouldn't have put you on the spot like that today and would have spoken to you privately. I understand if you hate me right now." She said softly as she lowered her head.

"No. I wouldn't blame you if you hated me." He said.

"Why do you think that?!" The beautiful blond asked in surprise. Naruto remains silent for several minutes with a somber look on his face before speaking.

"I wanted…him to always watch me…I wanted him to see me become Hokage. And yet…all he ever saw was me being totally uncool…" He let out a humorless laugh as he continued. "Did you know that on our trip, I almost killed him? I used the fox's power when I sparred with him once. When I snapped out of it, I didn't even remember it. I felt so bad that I told him I would do anything for him once to make up for it. He told me to buy a new outfit. Despite what happened, the day ended up to be pretty fun." He told her.

"I'm sure it was. He was always like that in his own way." She said with a small smile.

"But despite that, I knew that there were things that he didn't tell me. Things that I wanted to know. About him, about my parents. Strangely enough, I always knew that the people I cared about were hiding things from me. Even the old man…Even Sakura-chan…Even you…" The young man said in a melancholic voice. "But I'm not mad. I'm just a stupid little genin who doesn't understand anything. When the villagers look at me, they look at me as 'the apprentice of one of the sannin', or the classic 'demon brat', or the 'baka of the rookies who's still a dobe genin'." He looked at her as large tears started to fall from his cerulean blues, which were now red from all of his sorrow.

"I…I wish I never had this damn fox put in me!" He clutches his stomach with his free hand roughly. "If I didn't have this, then so many good people…people better than me wouldn't have had to die! That bastard Pein may have killed Ero-sennin, but he only did it because he was after me! Kakashi-sensei, Chiyo-baachan and Temari-chan say I have this strange power to make people better and to bring them together. But if that's true, then why do I still have this pain in me? Why do I always feel so alone?! Is it so strange to want to be happy? To be loved? To have friends you can trust and believe in as much as they believe in you? To have a family and parents who say that they are proud of you no matter what? To have someone to come home to and tell you that they love you and miss you?! Why is it so easy for others to have these things, but strange to me? Please Tsunade-baachan! Please tell me! I just…I just don't know what to do anymore…" He was completely hysterical when Tsunade grabbed him and held him tightly as he dropped the popsicle and wailed all of the grief he's been keeping inside of him for so long.

"Go ahead Naruto-kun. Let it all out." Tsunade choked as she cried with him. For tonight, they were not ninja, they were just two humans who were grieving over someone who was special to both of them.

Afternoon- Tsunade's house

It took twenty minutes for Naruto to stop sobbing that night. Afterwards, he fell asleep in the legendary sucker's arms. After finding out his feelings, she didn't want him to be alone tonight, so she carried his sleeping form to her house. Once inside, she placed him in a guest room so he could sleep knowing that this time, someone was there. The Godaime barely got any sleep that night. Not only because of her thoughts about the times she shared with her old teammate, but because she realized how much stress and pain Naruto has been dealing with without her knowledge. Once morning came around, she immediately went to Hokage tower to have Shikamaru decipher the code and for Ibiki and the others to start working on one of Pein's bodies Jiraiya acquired in his fight.

Once that was accomplished, she quickly went back home to check on Naruto. He woke up an hour later after that time. When he did, she was sitting next to his bed.

"Good afternoon Naruto-kun." Tsunade greeted in a gentle voice.

"Tsunade-baachan? Where am I?" Naruto inquired as he rubbed his eyes.

"You're in one of my guest rooms in my house. After what happened last night, I didn't want you home by yourself, so I brought you here so you could sleep and talk to me if you needed to." She explained.

"I see…" The blond said.

"Are you alright now?" She asked with concern.

"I guess." He answered sadly.

"Come on. I made lunch in the kitchen. Your clean clothes are over there." She said as she got up and left the room. Getting out of the bed, he grabbed his clothes, which Tsunade cleaned this morning, and put them on, heading to the kitchen five minutes later. The Godaime sat at the table with a nice amount of food and some sake next to her. Telling him to take a seat, he complied. After not eating last night, Naruto wolfed down the food quietly, making the grown woman smile. "How's the food?" She asked.

"It was delicious. Thank you for the meal." Naruto replied with a small smile.

"Don't mention it. All the times my brother and Shizune told me my cooking was bad has given me a lot of practice." The female sannin half joked, making her fellow blond let out a small chuckle. Once she cleaned the table, she sat back down and looked at him seriously. "Naruto-kun, I thought about what you said to me last night. I thought about it a lot. Not only as the Godaime Hokage, but as Tsunade too." She told him earnestly.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean…" The young man started to say.

"No Naruto-kun. There's no need to apologize. If anything, a number of us should be apologizing to you, myself included. If you didn't let all of that pain out, it would've consumed you eventually, and it would've made you bitter and cold towards the people you cherish. Besides, after all that I've lost in my life, I, more than anyone else, knows exactly how you feel." The beautiful blond said with a compassionate smile.

"Tsunade-baachan…" He said with wide eyes.

"Naruto-kun, listen to me. What happened to Jiraiya, to Asuma-sensei and to Chiyo-baasama is not your fault. Nobody blames you, and you know they wouldn't blame you either." She told him truthfully.

"But…" Naruto said doubtfully as he lowered his head slightly. The woman moved her chair and sat down next to him, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze.

"No buts. Jiraiya risked his life for you so that one day, you wouldn't have to watch your back because of those bastards. So that you can live your life in peace. I won't say that things won't get easier for you from this point on. And I know that you feel that a more heavier burden is upon you now, a burden you never wanted. But know this. Despite your occasional differences, you were the closest person to him." Tsunade told him honestly.

"I was?" The spiky blond asked incredulously.

"It's true. More so than all the years we were a team. Like me, he always spoke of you proudly, whether it was training or just being with you. You were more than a student to him, though he never said it to your face. I wish he did. I wish we all told you and showed you how special and important you are to us so that you wouldn't have suffered for so long, carrying all of that emotional baggage inside of you. On behalf of all of us, we're really sorry. You are right. There's nothing strange about reaching out and caring for others. I guess its strange because you remind all of us of that. That if you take away all the ranks, all the jutsus, and the differences between us, we are all human. And that we should treat each other a little better. And I for one, am glad that you reminded me of that so long ago." She said proudly.

"Tsunade-baachan…" He said as a small smile crept up on his face.

"Jiraiya believes in you Naruto. All of his wishes and hopes have passed on to you. Cherish them, for you were not only like a grandson to him, but you were his true godson." She revealed, making his eyes widen in shock.

"He was…my godfather?" Naruto asked just above a whisper.

"Yes. And like your mother and father, he will always love you and watch over you, just like I will. You're not alone Naruto-kun. We're here for you. And from now on, we'll support you just like you did for all of us. That's a promise." Tsunade replied with a warm smile. For the first time in a long time, a real smile crossed the young man's features as he gratefully hugged Tsunade tightly.

"Thank you…" He told her, his voice filled with a happiness he has never felt. "Can you…tell me about Ero-sennin? And…about my parents?" He asked hesitantly after he released her.

"Yes. The time for secrets has long since passed. You have a right, and we were wrong not to tell you this sooner. It's time you heard the truth. All of it." The legendary sucker answered. And for the next several hours, Tsunade told him about his heritage and his family. It was a lot to take in, and it made him feel a myriad of emotions. But it clearly made him happy in the end as one of the greatest mysteries of his sixteen years of life was finally cleared from his soul.

Nighttime- Streets of Konoha

After the long talk with Tsunade, which went well into the night, Naruto decided to go out for a walk. Although he was still a little sad, he felt much better compared to yesterday. But one thing, or more appropriately, one person still plagued his mind. And that was Sakura. Even though he was in grief and emotionally upset with her when he spoke, he felt horrible for saying most of the things he said to her. He wanted to talk with her about it someday, but not in that fashion. So he decided to look for her so they could clear the air.

After finding out that she wasn't home, he searched for her throughout the village, only to find her sitting on a bench near the academy at the back exit of Konoha is. She had her head down, with dry tears on her cheeks, her short hair being carried by the breeze.

"Sakura-chan…?" Naruto called out to her softly. The med-nin lifted her head and looked at him. He had a pained look on his face, a look filled with shame.

"Hey Naruto…would you like to sit down?" Sakura offered as she patted a hand next to an empty spot on the seat.

"Sure…" The young man answered as he sat down next to her. They sat there quietly for a few minutes until she spoke again.

"I haven't been back here in three years." The kunoichi said nostalgically.

"Yeah. The last time we were here, you were leaving Konoha, and Ero-sennin and I came after you and we went to Otogakure together." The blond ninja reminded her.

"Yeah. I never thanked you for doing that for me, did I?" She trailed off. It remained quiet for a few more minutes before she continued. "You know, this was the place where I tried to stop Sasuke from leaving." She revealed, surprisingly not using the kun suffix like she normally did. Naruto attempted to say something only for her to shake her head, as if telling him that she needed to say this.

"I told him my feelings that night. That I loved him so much. That I would do anything for him. Anything. I even said I would go with him to Orochimaru to help him get his revenge." She confessed. Naruto looked at her with complete and utter shock after finding out her hidden sin. He looked into her emerald green eyes to see if there was any doubt in them. He found none.

"That's right. I was willing to give up everything for him. To leave Konoha behind. But all he said to me was that I was annoying and that I make him sick. But for some reason, he thanked me before knocking me out." The med-nin looked at Naruto into his eyes as she continued to bear her soul. "I said to him that if I lost him, even with my family and friends, I would be alone. That I knew how it felt to be lonely. And yet, when he left and you and the others went after him, all I could think about was getting 'my Sasuke-kun back'. So I came to you. The one who I said knew nothing about me, but knew me better than anyone, even myself. The one who truly knows what loneliness is." She smiled at him as tears began to sting her eyes.

"All I did was cry to you, asking you to bring him back to me, putting everything on you, using you and your nindo for my own selfish reasons. After what happened, I wanted to come with you next time. Be strong enough to fight beside you and not be a burden, even though you always said I wasn't one. But I never thought that my selfishness that day, my sins that night would cause you so much pain. So much hurt. I can smash the earth with a single punch. I can heal most wounds and poisons. And yet, I can't do anything for you except to make you suffer. And now that I know the truth, now that I know how you always felt about me. I have no right to ask you for anything anymore. Not as a teammate. Not as a friend. Not as someone you love." Sakura choked as her tears fell down her face.

"So you know…" He said, not taking her eyes off of hers.

"Yeah. The smartest kunoichi of our class and apprentice to Tsunade of the sannin figured it out after four years of chasing after someone who told me we could never be like him and treating the person who always believed in me like something beneath my shoe." She replied letting out a bitter laugh.

"Sakura-chan, please stop. That's enough." Naruto pleaded with her as he wrapped his arms around her as her body shook.

"I'm so sorry Naruto. For everything." Sakura mumbled as she leaned her head on his chest.

"I am too. A part of me wanted to talk to you about this. To tell you how I felt…but…" The spiky blond said quietly.

"It's all right. I understand. Despite what happened and how it came out, I'm glad you did. I think I needed to hear it. And I'm glad I heard it from you." The pink haired beauty said honestly as she looked up at him.

"Thank you Sakura-chan…" He said while breathing an inner sigh of relief.

"Naruto, though I still hope we can bring Sasuke back someday, I release you from my selfish promise." She told him.

"Are you sure?" Naruto questioned worriedly.

"Yes. Thank you for all you've done for me to honor your nindo and my feelings. But its time I learned to cherish and protect the people that are dear to me and who are here for me right here and right now. That's what Chiyo-baasama showed me. And that's what you taught me." Sakura said as she wiped her eyes and smiled at him.

"Sakura-chan…" The young man said, returning her smile. They hugged each other tighter while Sakura scooted closer to him, enjoying his warmth.

"I forgot to ask. Are you okay?" The young woman asked gently.

"Yeah. I'll be okay." He replied with a nod.

"I'm glad. I'm sorry about Jiraiya-sama. If you want to talk, I'll listen." She offered.

"I would like that. Do you want to come to my place?" Naruto asked with a small blush.

"Sure. It's alright with me." Sakura replied with a blush of her own.

"Great! We just need to make a pit stop at the twenty-four hour store." The spiky blond said as he sat up and reached out for Sakura's hand.

"Why?" The med-nin asked curiously.

"There was a ritual that I did with Ero-sennin. I…want to do it with you now, if that's okay." He answered bashfully with a deeper shade of red on his face. Sakura was a bit apprehensive at first due to knowing about the sannin's 'nature'. Nevertheless, if she wanted to start over her relationship with her teammate, she needed to trust him. She nodded and took his hand. Ten minutes later, Naruto came out of the store with a double popsicle in his hand. After taking off the wrapper, he broke the treat in two and gave one to her.

"So, what do you think?" Naruto inquired as he enjoyed his ice treat.

"It tastes good. Thanks for sharing with me." Sakura replied with a blush and a smile.

"I'm glad I was able to." The spiky blond said warmly.

"We should do things like this more often when we have free time." The pink haired kunoichi said shyly, making Naruto's eyes widen.

"Sakura-chan, you mean…?" He questioned with bated breath.

"Yes Naruto. That is, if you still want to." She responded without hesitation.

"Of course!" He said in a boisterous tone as he took her free hand.

"Good. Just one thing." Sakura started to say.

"I know, I know. I'm paying." Naruto said with a sigh. The young woman reached over and kissed him on the cheek.

"No Naruto-kun. I'll pay." The med-nin said sweetly as she added the affectionate suffix to his name and strengthened the grip on his hand. Afterwards, they walked back to his place, still holding hands. That night, they talked well into the morning, with them falling asleep next to each other on the couch. Some time later, a proper funeral was held for the toad sannin. Tsunade and Sakura were by his side as he gave the eulogy. Everyone, including the toad sages, agreed that it was a wise choice.

The only exception was that at Naruto's request, everybody came to the funeral without their Konoha headbands, which was the normal tradition of a shinobi who died in battle. Not only because the sannin never wore one, but because his greatest time with him was not as a sannin, a ninja, or even a teacher. But as a man who fought and died so that not only his most precious person, but the next generation could smile. And to this day, Naruto still never followed shinobi rule number twenty five. He remained true to himself, knowing that he was being watched over by those that loved him. Including a certain someone who was doing a kabuki dance in heaven, telling everyone his name.

Author notes 2: Wow, I did not expect my one-shot to come out like this. It's more angsty than I thought it would be. Still, this is about the death of someone close to the blond, so it can't be helped I suppose. Still, I hoped you enjoyed it, and had a tissue or two handy. I really hope I did good with this. Well my friends, you all know the drill. Read, Enjoy and Review. As usual, your thoughts and feelings are important. Also, with this story, if anyone wants to do a sequel to this, let me know. Just something I throw out for aspiring authors. We could definitely use some good fics right now :)!

Now that this is done, it'll hopefully give me some fire to update Kurorasen and How can you mend a broken heart? If all goes well, I'll have one or both updated this month. Wish me luck ;)! And don't worry, Love Hina fans. My Change of Pace fic is still in my head. Until then, despite this angsty, WAFF-y tale, have a great Fourth of July holiday with your friends and family. Try not to blow your hand off with any fireworks LOL XD. Until next time. Later for now :).