A shirtless Naruto was panting heavily as he continued his training sweat glistening off his muscular frame, dripping from his forehead to his chest, and then onto the ground, forming a small pool beneath him as he mercilessly ravaged the rock before him, with his clawed hands.
Gone was the usual jumpsuit he wore, and he was wearing a pair of black Jonin baggy pants much like Kakashi's. The Necklace that Tsunade had given him hung loosely form his neck, but discarded to the side was a Jonin vest, and a black t-shirt. He had taken them off to cool down, so he would not have to halt his training which was at this point, smacking the crap out of a large boulder, which shook with every hit he gave it.
He felt no pain as his fists smacked into the stone, the super human strength of the recently promoted Jonin truly terrifying to behold. He said nothing as he hit the object before him, and cared not who might see him, training in the brutal heat of the summer afternoon
For even to this day,when he had everything he thought he had wanted, he was miserable. He had found Sasuke, five years ago. He had been 18 at the time. A fierce battle had ensued. They had been evenly matched for a time, but in the cataclysmic battle, he had finally defeated the Uchiha, without killing him, and dragged him back to the Leaf.
He had been hailed as a hero. Everyone had praised him. He had gotten the attention he had wanted so badly. Even Sasuke had thanked him for bringing him back. He had risen through the ranks, he had become a Jonin. He had even been recommended by the village, as the successor to Tsunade, as the next Hokage.
This should have cheered him, but it did not.
Sasuke was now engaged to Sakura.
Hinata had long since married Kiba, when he had told her that he had no feelings for her. He had even given her his blessing when she had asked him for it, and he had VOLUNTEERED to be Kiba's best man.
Ino was an Anbu, as was Shikamaru. The two had been dating for at least two years.
Everyone was prosperous, as was he-
He felt hollow. What was there for him here? What purpose did he have? To be Hokage? He felt no drive, no desire for that position. He found no joy in this village, and oddly enough, he bore it no ill will either.
What had happened to him?
What DID he feel?
He felt nothing.
As he turned to leave, he stopped when he heard a voice softly say, "I'm sorry, Naruto. I'm sorry for everything."
He froze for a momentTurning on his heel to face her, his blue eyes widened and he asked, "What was that?"
Taking in a deep breath, she was about to repeat herself, but he stopped her when he snapped, hate in his heart and soul. "You're sorry? For what, Sakura? For hitting me? Humiliating me? For stomping me into the ground just so you could look good for Sasuke? Is that what you are sorry for?"
His eyes were red now, he was getting angry, and he made no move to halt the flow of red chakra about him. "Or are you sorry because everyone in this village sees you for what you are? A selfish brat, who throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants?"
Sakura was at a loss for words, and managed to stammer out: "W-What's come over you?" Tentatively, she place a hand on his shoulder, but he viciously slapped it off. "You seem so angry," Was her worried murmur.
Naruto laughed, but it was not the kind of laugh that was friendly. In fact, it was the furthest thing from friendly. This laugh...
It was harsh and filled with anger, malice and rage. When he opened his eyes, they were as cold and unfriendly as ice, as he felt an unknown hate, pushing him onward, to the brink of insanity,as he now cackled at her.
"Oh I'm so sorry Sakura. I suppose you are expecting me to jump up and down and follow you all over the place, just like I did when we were kids. Am I right?"
He bared his elongated teeth at her in a snarl, as he directed his anger upon her. "Well, let me tell you, I don't want anything to do with you. Nothing you could say to me would ever make me change my mind. Now that Sasuke is back, you figure that you can just say sorry, and I'll fall head over heels for you?"
He snorted, and his voice was literally dripping with sarcasm. "Sweetheart, I am not falling for it. I might be a fool in some things, but for you, never again. Never freaking again." He hissed, his face coming mere inches from hers as he finished.
For once, she was silent. What could she say? What could she do? Taking a deep breath, Sakura nodded, hiding her brokenness inside. "I understand. I won't cross your path anymore, and won't bother you ever again. I just wanted you to know that I regret my actions towards you and there is nothing more that I can say." She quietly replied.
Turning away from the young man, she held her head up high as she walked off of the training field and towards the Hokage's office, from her mission. She needed to report in and then, when she was alone in her apartment, then she could cry.
For little did he know, that she had broken off the engagement with the Uchiha, as both of them had decided to go their seperate ways.
Naruto watched her go, and when she was gone, he angrily punched a tree that was unlucky enough to be near him. "DAMN IT!" Was his hate filled scream, as his blow turned the wood into mere shambles of timber, that crashed to the ground besides him.
Slumping down to the ground, he mentally cursed himself for melting to her words, and then attacking her with his. A large part of him felt that she deserved it, but his heart cried in agony.
It was not just her, but she was a part of it. Where had he gone wrong? What had he forgotten? Somewhere along the way, he had lost himself, and he knew not how to replace what he had lost.
Love. Joy. Happiness, he would not find them here. He foud nothing but pain here anymore.
He looked at his shirt beside him, and slipped it back on, but left the vest. This place was too much for him. SHE had been to much for him. Everything in this village was just to much. He was going insane as a result.
He had to leave.
He was at the gates. It was late into the night, and no one was awake, there was not a soul present to see one blond man with a pack strapped to his back, walking calmly towards the gates of the village.
Or so he thought.
In a swirl of leaves, Sasuke appeared before him, clad in Jonin attire, and arms over his chest. His black obsidian orbs fell on the backpack Naruto had shouldered, and he frowned as he put two and two together.
Naruto was leaving.
Naruto's cold blue eyes met his, and he said nothing. He took a step forward, but Sasuke was in front of him in an instant, baring his path, arms out and blocking him. "Naruto, what's wrong?"
He sounded concerned. He had gone down a similair path before, and Naruto had saved him from it. He had shown him the light. He owed his friend that much, to steer him away from this path.
Naruto's cerulean eyes narrowed as he was stopped and a second later, there was a kunai pressed against Sasuke's throat, held by his left hand. "Move Sasuke. Don't make me kill you."
Sasuke shook his head, ignoring the small trickle of blood it drew, as the blade nicked his throat. "No. You saved me from this, and I won't let you go down the same path."
Again the dry and bitter laugh, as Naruto shook his head. "Sasuke, you just don't get it do you?" He leaned in now, and whispered into the ear of his best friend. "The Naruto you knew is dead. He died three years ago."
Sasuke frowned at this as Naruto pulled back. "Baka. I refuse to believe that. You're still the same loser, the same best friend." Naruto scowled at him now, and the Uchiha knew a different tactic was in order. "Sakura broke off the engagement. She wanted to be with you. I told her to do to listen to her heart."
This calmed Naruto a bit, and he lowered the kunai, and Sasuke saw terrible sadness in the eyes of his friend. "I can't Sasuke. It just hurts too much to stay here. I'm sorry. I won't betray the village, I swear to you, but neither can I stay here. Everything I ever wanted has been taken from me. And I can't get it back."
In a flash, he was behind Sasuke, and the Uchiha felt everything go dark, from a hard chop to the neck. "Thank you. For Everything."
Then, as his friend collapsed to the ground, Naruto continued his trek, and in one monumental leap, soared over the village gates, and into the night, into his uncertain future.
Naruto Uzumaki had left the Leaf.