If you crack it, you can fix it. If you lose it, you can find it. But Naruto's mind shattered into a million pieces, and no one could hope to put it back together again. Naruto/Sakura NaruSaku. Dark.
"Please, Sakura-chan? Just go on on date with me, and I won't ask you again for at least a month!"
Sakura sighed, and opened her mouth to reject him yet again, when she hesitated. A whole month without Naruto pestering her to go out on dates? That could be worth it. It wasn't like she hated Naruto, and it wasn't like she was waiting for Sasuke to come back from Orochimaru anytime soon.
"Alright, Naruto. But remember, a whole month afterward, you can't ask again."
Naruto danced in circles, shouting. "YES! Thank you so much, Sakura-chan! It will be the best date ever, and we'll do all kinds of fun stuff, and..."
Naruto was cut off when Sakura grabbed his collar and pulled him close.
"Naruto, just make sure you wear something different that this orange suit. And take me to eat something other than ramen."
The blonde looked like he wanted to protest, but whatever his objections were, he swallowed them quickly, obviously too eager to please to worry about minor things like that.
"Of course, Sakura-chan!"
The pink-haired medic smiled. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
Naruto talked animatedly as they waited for their food to come. Sakura only half-listened, smiling slightly. She had been rather pleased when Naruto had shown up for their date dressed in a formal kimono. And it wasn't even orange! The pure white kimono reminded Sakura of her father's formal wear, although his had an outline of pink cherry blossom's along the sleeves.
And then Sakura had been even more pleased that Naruto had taken her to this nice restaurant, a rather fancy place that served French cuisine. The atmosphere was very nice here. Sakura wasn't sure how Naruto had picked the place, but he had obviously done his homework.
"...and then Kiba was all like, 'Huh?' and everyone laughed!"
Sakura chuckled, pretending she had been listening. When their food finally arrived, she ate slowly, and was amazed to see that Naruto had learned some manners sometime over the years. Perhaps Jiraiya had taught him some while they were out on that long trip they took? Sakura couldn't help but smile when she saw Naruto eating in such an uncharacteristically polite manner.
Naruto, noticing her look, smiled in her direction. "What are you smiling at, Sakura?"
She blushed prettily. Caught. "Just admiring your table manners, Naruto. Why don't you eat like this at Ichiraku's?"
Naruto laughed out loud. "Because it takes forever to eat like this! I could have been done eating like 20 minutes ago if I had eaten like normal! But since I'm not in a hurry right now..."
Sakura rolled her eyes, though Naruto missed it. So he really had nice manners, but normally just wanted to get done eating so he could do other things? That seemed so much like Naruto.
Later that evening, when Naruto was walking her home, Sakura looked out at the night sky. A chill breeze blew past, but Sakura felt warm anyway.
Suddenly she realized that this was because she was holding Naruto's hand, and leaning on his arm. When had that happened?
But she could hardly jerk away. That would be mean. So she just relaxed further into the strong arm of the man next to her, and enjoyed the walk home.
When they got there, Naruto gave her hand a squeeze. "Thanks, Sakura. I had a nice time, and I hope you did, too."
Sakura smiled. Of course Naruto would be too naïve to go for the goodnight kiss. One of his endearing features.
"I had a good time, too, Naruto. Thanks a lot."
As Naruto walked away, leaving her in the doorway, Sakura realized that she had forgotten to remind him not to ask her out anymore. Closing the door behind her, she decided that she didn't care.
Nevertheless, Naruto kept his promise. Sakura found herself disconcerted by his odd silence when he was around her, and when they trained together. Silence that had, until recently, been covered by his loud requests for dates.
After a week of this, Sakura began to wonder why she hadn't gone on dates with him before. It was not like he was bad looking, or rude, or perverted. Well, he wasn't any more perverted that could be reasonably expected after training with the legendary Jiraiya.
One day, after a rather intense spar, Sakura decided to ask him.
"Hey, Naruto, want to go to lunch with me?"
Naruto eyes widened, and a bright smile stretched his face. "Of course, Sakura-chan!"
The pink-haired medic couldn't help but giggle at his enthusiastic reply. It was so like him.
By the end of the month, they had gone on several more dates, though Naruto had kept his promise not to ask her out. In the second week, Sakura, rather embarrassed, had asked him out herself, saying that she felt bad for forcing him into that promise.
Naruto, of course, was ecstatic to be going on dates with her at all, even if, in a rather unorthodox turn of events, she was the one to ask him out.
It was around the end of the month, while they were eating together at a barbecue place, that a chuunin rushed in with that fateful message. An urgent summons to the Hokage's office.
They had rushed there as fast as possible, and Tsunade explained the situation quickly.
"Sasuke has been spotted at the edge of Fire country, on the border with Rice country." She pointed to a spot on the map that was laid out in front of her. "I don't have any other ninja available at this time, so it's just you two. Be careful! And hurry! He won't be there long!"
Not waiting for further information, Naruto and Sakura sprinted out the door, and out of the village.
Sakura twisted out of the way of Sasuke kunai thrust, and swung her fist down toward his head.
The Uchiha leaped backwards, grateful for his reflexes as the ground exploded under the force of the punch. His reactions also made him able to dodge the sudden attack of a half dozen Naruto clones, which pulled no punches as they attacked with surprising ferocity.
Suddenly there was another Naruto behind him, and Sasuke mentally berated himself for forgetting about Naruto's uncanny ability to use clone and henge combinations to great effect.
He dodged this clone, too, and backed away, forming seals. As the clones rushed forward, Sasuke spat a giant fireball, which engulfed the clones in its raging, fiery globe.
Rather proud of his work, Sasuke was surprised when Naruto burst out of the flames and smashed Sasuke's face with a powerful punch. Orochimaru's apprentice smashed through several trees before coming to a stop at the foot of Haruno Sakura, whose right leg was raised high, ready for a smash kick.
There was no way Sasuke was letting that hit him. He had seen the effects of Sakura's monstrous strength on the landscape, and had no desire to experience it firsthand.
Rolling quickly, Sasuke avoided the kick but was still sent flying by the shockwave that created a large crater around the point of impact.
Sasuke turned as he flew, to face the direction he was going. He couldn't react in time as he saw the large, swirling ball of blue chakra, held in the hand of that unpredictable blonde ninja.
Sasuke grunted in pain as the blue ball ripped the flesh from his torso, and brought him to a halt in midair. The wind knocked out of him, Sasuke was helpless to respond when Naruto ripped the rasengan upwards, ripping a giant gash across Sasuke's chest and face.
Sasuke finally hit the ground, and was able to spring away to avoid Naruto's newest variation on this old technique. The ball of chakra, exploded, sending thin blades of wind chakra whipping around the general area, but not hitting Naruto.
Sakura smiled as she saw Naruto finally get that technique right. He had been working so hard, ever since she had warned him about the dangers that came with the use of that other, earlier variation on the rasengan, to learn a different way of doing it, that would inflict the damage without hurting himself.
Sasuke, seeing her momentary distraction, used this to his best advantage, and rushed in, the chidori forming in his hand without seals, and almost without effort.
Sakura dodged to the side, but Sasuke, gifted with the Sharingan, had foreseen this, and plunged the chidori through her heart.
Sasuke smirked as he pushed the pink-haired body off his arm. With her gone, the dobe would lose his concentration, and Sasuke would finally be able to kill him and attain the final level of the Sharingan.
He was interrupted from his thoughts by another powerful punch, this time to the back of the head. Sasuke flipped as he soared through the air, and landed deftly on a branch.
The Uchiha watched as the idiotic blonde ninja knelt and cradled Sakura in his arms. It was too late. Not even Tsunade could save her now.
Naruto's eyes streamed tears, as he held Sakura in a loose embrace. "Sakura-chan, you can't die! I won't let you! Please..."
Sakura gave a weak smile, and whispered, "Naruto-kun..."
The light left her eyes.
Long ago, Naruto had been the rejected demon child of the village. He had suffered terrible trauma, and sometimes, his mind cracked. Sometimes, he just couldn't take it anymore, and he would finally find his temper, and lash out at those around him.
But his few friends, and the old man Hokage would comfort him, and the crack would heal soon enough. Naruto would go back to normal within a few hours.
Sometimes, when Naruto or his friends had been threated, in grave, deadly danger from an evil enemy, Naruto lost his mind. The Kyuubi briefly asserted its influence, and Naruto became a raging animal.
But once the danger had passed, he would calm down, and, with the help of his friends, he always found his mind again.
This was different. As the life left Sakura's body, Naruto's mind shattered into a million pieces. He didn't find his temper, like when his mind cracked. He didn't transform into the raging Kyuubi form that had emerged every time he lost his mind.
The blonde looked at the smug grin on that black-haired boy who stood on a tree branch. What was hid name again?
It didn't matter. All the blonde could remember was that the person in front of him was an enemy. The blonde boy attacked, using his hidden power, some sort of red energy, and blurred across the distance between them Where did the energy come from? He didn't know, and he didn't care.
He didn't know why he was here.
He didn't know why he was angry.
He didn't know his own name.
All he knew was an unquenchable, burning hatred for this black-haired boy with the funny eyes.
Somehow, through a reflex that came from he knew not where, the blonde flipped and dodged every attack that the hated child through at him. The blonde slashed with his razor sharp claws, and drew deep, red lines across the already mangled face of his opponent.
His enemy staggered from the injury, and the cold fury overwhelmed him. He followed his advantage with a blast of angry, fiery energy. A manifestation of his rage and his hatred for this foolish human.
As the pieces of the blonde's mind settled in a pile of broken shards and fragments, his crushed soul sank into sweet oblivion. He was not aware of what his body was doing, only that it was carrying out his last vengeance.
Vengeance for what? He didn't know.
Tsunade reviewed the details of the mission, and filled out the appropriate paperwork.
At the top of the page, it read:
Mission: Capture Uchiha Sasuke
Status: Failed. Target killed.
The Hokage sighed as she finished writing and put the paper away. She rested her face, still wet with tears, on her hands. Naruto and Sakura were both dead. Just when Tsunade had finally seen them realizing their love for each other.
The ANBU who had found the scene had brought back the body of Haruno Sakura, and the charred and torn remains of Uchiha Sasuke, and had brought back limp, comatose form of Uzumaki Naruto.
Tsunade had been overjoyed when he had opened his eyes, only to immediately realize that something was wrong.
Naruto stared blankly at the ceiling, and never moved. He never responded to her voice, or to her increasingly violent shaking. Although he was conscious, and his eyes were open, no one was home.
His mind had shattered, and no one could put it back together again.
Hm. Didn't turn out quite like I imagined. Oh well. Let me know what you think.