The allies from sand never came, and so the Sasuke retrieval mission went badly. Naruto is captured. Konoha thinks he is a traitor. Naruto gives up. NaruTayu Dark One-shot

Written in response to a request by vietmonky.

Just a few minutes. Just a few short minutes, and everything was lost.

Temari arrived just in time to watch Shikamaru take his last breath, dying from his wounds.

Kankouro was too late to save Kiba or Akamaru, both of whom were but slowly cooling bodies when he arrived.

Gaara could not help the mortally injured Rock Lee, who nevertheless managed to finish the diseased Kaguya before his muscles all relaxed at once, like a string had been cut. He was dead before he hit the ground, lifeless before Gaara could rush to his side.

Chouji managed to return to Konoha, and he knew only that the others had gone ahead. Then Neji came back, with the same story. The others had gone on.

One by one, the bodies arrived. Tsunade cringed at the sight of the lazy chuunin leader of the mission, his broken body brought back by the silent blonde kunoichi of Suna.

Tsunade flinched upon seeing the battered corpses of Kiba and Akamaru, when Kankouro brought them to her.

And she wept silently when The Kazekage returned the lifeless shell of Rock Lee, no longer filled with anything resembling the Fires of Youth.

And Naruto never returned. The ninja of Konoha found no trace of the loud blonde ninja, who, from all accounts, had pursued Sasuke with particular effort, leaving all the others behind. With no corpse, and little sign of a struggle anywhere, there could be only one conclusion.

Naruto had followed in Sasuke's footsteps, joining Orochimaru in the village of Sound.

They had no idea that a red-headed ninja of the sound had found the wounded blonde, taking him back to Oto in hopes that he might prove useful somehow. And maybe just a little because he was cute. Not that she cared.

Two weeks after entering the account of the failed mission, Tsunade filled out two more forms, for Konoha's two newest missing-nin. Uchiha Sasuke, and Uzumaki Naruto.

She wished she had just left that idiot back in the valley she had found him in.

Tayuya wasn't normally one to complain. Heck, she put up with a lot of shit as a shinobi, harsh conditions and limited rations. Grimy clothes and cruel wounds. But this was beyond any of that. How could any one person make so much noise?

Naruto pounded on the bars of his cell, screaming at the nearest sound ninja, which happened to be Tayuya. "Let me out of here! I have to take Sasuke back to Konoha! I promised Sakura! And then I'm gonna be Hokage, so that everyone will acknowledge me! So unlock the door right now, or well I get out I'll pound you into the ground like a little..."

"Shut the fuck up, you stupid shit!"

"Make me, Red!"

Tayuya snarled, but kept herself from responding. Anything that she said back to him only seemed to make him even more noisy and obnoxious. For the past two days, two days, Tayuya had been assigned to guard this idiot. Orochimaru said it was because she had brought him back, and so she needed to take care of 'her pet' as he referred to the constantly shouting pile of blonde shit. And because she had refused to tell him her name the first day, he always called her 'Red' after the color of her hair.

Which was really aggravating. Like his voice. And his hair. And his goddamned orange outfit that just her eyes just to look at it. What the fuck was this kid thinking, wearing what was basically a 'Kick me' sign everywhere he went?

She tuned out his inane blather, hoping that ignoring him would make him shut the hell up. Turning to face the opposite direction, so that she wouldn't be distracted by his frantic movements, she almost screamed when she turned straight into Orochimaru.

She stumbled back, spitting out apologies. "I'm sorry, Orochimaru-sama. I didn't see you there. I..."

The snake-nin smiled, and walked past her to the screaming child beyond, holding a scroll loosely in his hands.

Naruto's yelling redoubled in volume as his hated enemy approached. He threatened and used uncharacteristically hostile language as he snarled at the traitorous sannin.

Orochimaru merely tossed the scroll into the cell. "I thought this might interest you, Naruto-kun. It was intercepted from a Konoha courier-nin earlier today."

The blonde scowled, but glanced at the scroll's contents. He flinched, the shuddered, and looked closer, his face paling as his expression became less angry, and more...

Depressed. Horrified. Terrified. And oh so very lonely.

Tayuya was almost scared herself, seeing the loud, annoying blonde now as silent as the grave.

Naruto slumped the floor, leaning all his weight against the wall. His eyes were hollow, devoid of life, of hope, of anything. His trembling hands dropped the scroll onto the floor, lacking either the strength or the will to hold it any longer.

His entire being seemed to radiate with this new feeling. This dark aura of loss, of betrayal, of...


Orochimaru, apparently having achieved his objective, left the room silently, ignoring Tayuya.

The red-head stared at Naruto. What on earth had come over him? He had spent two entire days proclaiming how he was going to fix everything, and return to Konoha, and become Hokage, and now he was sulking silently?

Not that she was ungrateful, but she was confused. Seeing that he was distracted, she decided to breach prison protocol and reach into the cell to get the scroll. There were plenty of reasons not to do so. He could be faking, and the moment she reached in, he could grab her, and then kill her or worse. She didn't have the key to his cell, but without a guard it wouldn't take any competent ninja to devise a way out.

But as she had suspected, Naruto did nothing. She couldn't even be sure that he had noticed her move at all.

She picked up the scroll, looking over the contents quickly. Just an update on missing-nin. But then the photos grabbed her.

Sasuke and Naruto.

Sasuke she understood, but Naruto? He'd fought Sasuke to the bitter end, trying to bring him back. Then it dawned on her. Sasuke and Naruto had fought mainly on the water, leaving little to mark their battle there. So there were no signs of a struggle. And since Tayuya had kidnapped him, the Leaf knew nothing about what had happened. Using what little they had, they deduced that Naruto had gone renegade.

Naruto, who wanted to return triumphantly, and become Hokage. Who could now do neither, because he was a missing-nin. An outcast. A criminal to be killed on sight. Now his friends back in Konoha would be obligated to attack him on sight. If he was caught, he was to be executed.

Now she understood. With this little scroll, the young boy in front of her had lost his will to fight. Because now there was no reason to fight. No friends to rescue. No enemies to conquer. No home to return to.

Tayuya frowned a little, trying to stamp out her feelings of pity. This was an enemy. He should suffer like this, and more.

But she couldn't help but feel just a little sorry for the rather good-looking prisoner, who now sat silent and unmoving in the back corner of his cell, staring at nothing.

For days.

Tayuya couldn't believe it. This stupid idiot wouldn't eat. Wouldn't drink. Was his village really this important to him? When he lost it, had he lost his reason to live?

Tayuya felt like a horrible person. How could she have done such a thing? With a whim, she had crushed this boy's hopes and dreams, the moment she had taken him back to Sound. On the merest flight of fancy, she had brought upon this innocent kid untold suffering.

She knew she shouldn't care, but... this was worse than torture. This was worse than any physical pain that she couldn't have inflicted upon him. She wouldn't wish this upon anyone.

It hurt her just to look at him, to see the pain and betrayal shining out of his eyes, which looked larger now, on his increasingly gaunt face. His whisker-markings stood out against his pale, pale skin. His arms shook continuously, as if shivering from the cold.

It was his last day in prison, although she didn't know it.

Veins stood out on his face, and on his hands, which stuck out from his overly-large orange jacket. The jacket hung about his shrunken frame more like a cloak that a coat, more like a shroud...

Tayuya couldn't stand it anymore. Looking into his dark eyes, from which no light was reflected, she couldn't wait a moment longer. Using a spare kunai and some hair pins, she unlocked the door and knelt down next to him.

God damn it all, if she wasn't crying. Why was she crying? She couldn't like this guy. She didn't even know this guy. She'd never talked to him, or done anything with him.

But that didn't keep the water from running down her cheeks, dripping onto Naruto's sleeves as she leaned over to look right in his face.

He didn't see her. His eyes looked past her, as if seeing something in the distance. His breathing, so slow and shallow that it was hardly detectable, did not move his frame visibly.

Gently, with a care that she had known she possessed, Tayuya slowly and delicately placed her hands against his cheeks. They were cold. So cold that she almost thought he was dead.

But as she tenderly stroked his face, he seemed to revive. His eyes blinked, and blinked again. His pupils moved, looking her straight in the eye.

Tayuya wished that she had spoken then, that she had voiced this silent, nervous feeling for him that had grown in the past few days.

But she didn't, and now she never could.

As she looked into his eyes, unable to speak, she watched him fold in upon himself. His head became heavier in her hands as his muscles relaxed one last time.

Now she knew how he felt, when his goal was snatched away from him, never to return. When his one chance at happiness vanished like a candle in the wind.

She could never tell him. And so she sank into the embrace of her dark feelings, blacker and more melancholy than the curse seal could ever hope to be.

Tayuya fell into the depths of despair, never to rise again.

This was originally supposed to be completely different. But... I was writing and suddenly I had no idea what I was doing. This was supposed to be a happy fic. What the heck happened?

I know it's not amazing, but it's better than nothing. Or at least, I hope so. Anyway, let me know what you think.