Sakura's Grief

The whole village had turned out to pay their respects. Sakura wasn't aware of any of them. All she saw was the casket as it was brought to the grave. Jiraya, Kakashi, Shikamaru, Choji, Lee, and Gai, were carrying it and set it on the lowering mechanism. They all joined Tsunade around a podium. There were few dry eyes among them, even Shikamaru had a few tears strolling down their cheeks. Sakura stood on shaky legs, still unsure how she was standing up at all. Hinata was inconsolable, her usually quiet sobbing in Kiba's arms and barely standing herself. Kiba just stroked her hair. She vowed never to cut it again because the last thing Naruto said to her was he liked her hair long. He was only eighteen. That was the thought that kept coming back. It was then Tsunade's turn to say something. She began the speech the way the Hokage always does when a shinobi dies in combat.

"People of the Leaf Village. Let us not mourn this lose. He was a shinobi of honor and loyalty who died doing his duty. He..." Everyone looked up. Tsunade hung her head, hiding her face. Tears hit the ground and she collapsed. Jiraya rushed to her and she clung to him as he lifted her back to his feet. He didn't let go of her as she turned back to the mourners "He was such an idiot." that sent a chuckle through the crowd, "He was loud and impatient and crude, he ate way to much ramen, and was always complaining. Not an ounce of common sense in him." there were somber nods of acknowledgment. "But he loved this village. And he wanted to protect it... He died to protect it. His teammates were the only ones to survive. He was only eighteen and still... Such a child. It shows that the Hidden Bone village truly had no mercy when they slaughtered our warriors." Her hand went to her chest and she clung to the pendant. "I will miss him so much. I was going to pick him as my successor. Yeah, you heard me, alright. Naruto Uzumaki, the sixth hokage!" She let out a laugh that was more like a sob, wiping her eyes, "It may sound silly to you but... It was his dream. Two other men I cared for had the same dream. I just don't know why they all die!" She pounded the podium causing it to break into a pile of wood chips, "WHY!?" She then turned back to Jiraya who'd begun to cry as well, "Why do they all die?" No one else spoke after that. There were no words to better describe it.

Sakura looked around, Neji was staring blindly at the ground, his white eyes puffy and red. He must have run out of tears. He was still using crouches from his injuries. Over the past year or two, they'd become close. With the war and all, Sakura was stationed in the hospital. Neji had been reassigned to Kakashi's squad. The long bloody battles had brought the boys closer and they were soon inseparable, even when on leave back in the village. He looked bad enough to be in the grave himself. Tenten was comforting Lee who was almost as bad as Hinata, as he cried out the laments of lost youth. Gai didn't even join his former student. He had an arm around Kakashi, who looked like he hadn't slept in days. Gai was mumbling something but it looked as if her old sensei wasn't listening. She felt as numb as her sensei looked. Cut off from the grief she saw around her. She was sure it would sink in later, but she couldn't cry. Naruto had told her, just days before that no one would miss him when he was gone. She'd called him an idiot. Said he had no idea. She was right. But it was something she never wanted proven. Her heart was broken, she was sure of it. She couldn't sleep, or keep anything down. Maybe she was dying too. It wouldn't surprise her, the way her heart felt like it was bleeding into her insides. Slowly they lowered the casket into the grave and suddenly, she lost control. She ran forward. She didn't remember what happened next. Throwing herself into the grave, Lee catching hold of her, her calling out his name. Kakashi and Ino had to help keep her from flinging herself after her teammate. She cried out for him to come back. Afterward, they said she kept muttering, "They left me, both of them left me all alone, why? Why would they? I loved them. That's all I ever did..." Later she became aware again. Ino had an arm around her friend, a look of the deepest sympathy in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Ino." She whispered.

"It's okay, Sakura. Grief is a hard thing. To each 'is own."

"I'm not very good at it." They had finished covering his grave with dirt now. Everyone was dispersing. Soon it was only Ino and Sakura. "Will it get better soon?" Ino shook her head. Sakura gave her a weak smile, "You couldn't just lie to me?"