OK, so here it is after a billion years! I'm so sorry it's taken me this long (and such a short chapter too!), but it's been quite hard managing my time in school and life in general! :(
I hope you guys enjoy though. :)
The usual disclaimers.
"Think of it as sort of a purification of emotions!" I beamed at him as I tried explaining the word for a second time.
He looked at me strangely and turned his head away, a slight blush on his cheeks. His sudden silence after that outburst was not unexpected. I suppose it had taken him by surprise. To be able to speak that way again after so long must have felt somewhat brand new to him.
I kept my gaze trained on him. Waiting.
When he still said nothing, I ventured further, "Naruto, this isn't good for you. I know what you've been through, and I've seen what it's done to you. I may not understand your pain or fully grasp what it means to you, but just—"
"What are you playing at?" He gruffly cut me off and turned an intense stare in my direction.
Not one to be intimidated or brushed off so easily, I held his eyes and said evenly, "I want to help you."
"I don't need any help, not from you, not from anyone." His answer was so predictable I almost rolled my eyes.
I lifted my shoulders in a shrug. "Well, from my vantage point, it seems you do."
He was looking away from me again, his hands slightly twitching. I was positive he'd hit me and for a few seconds I waited for the blow to land. When nothing came, I started again. I moved a step closer to him and reached out my hand to touch his cheek. It was burning. All the emotions that flared through him a few minutes ago still lingered and it was all I could do not to lift my fingers from his face.
I turned his head so he could face me, yet his eyes refused to look at mine. But I would not let that deter me. Clearing my throat, I tried for a second time.
"Naruto, you aren't treading on the right path to your goal. True, you've become stronger than anyone I've ever known, you've reached heights far greater than you dreamed of and there's no doubt you will become Hokage someday. We admire you and look up to you but… but you've left us all behind!"
An unexpected sob choked in my throat, and his eyes locked with mine. I was faltering, memories of that fateful day were rushing back and I was finding it very difficult to keep my emotions in check.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" I whispered, his piercing eyes were suddenly searching my face, presumably trying to make some sense out of my driveling.
"I'm one to talk, huh." I smiled ruefully, remembering that Naruto wasn't the only one to blame for the way that bubbly, blond-haired knucklehead turned out after four years.
"I too left you behind four years ago. I should have tried harder, I should have been kinder. We may not have been friends and we may have chosen to ignore each other for the better part of our lives, but I had every capacity to reach out to you. I shouldn't have let this happen." There was shame in my voice and I could no longer bear to look him in the eye. I hung my head, my thoughts muddled.
My brain was somehow telling me this wasn't right. I had come to help Naruto. I came today not seeking forgiveness, yet my heart told me this was where I had to begin. If I was going to truly help Naruto, I had to know that he would forgive me and after all these years, finally consider me a friend.
My resolve was returning bit by bit, I composed myself and looked up into his bright blue eyes that all at once held a million questions, confusion and wonder at this bumbling fool standing in front of him.
"Tell me...It isn't too late, is it?"
And...that's it for now.
Thank you for taking the time and having the patience to read! I can't promise to update anytime soon, but I will try my very best to have a new chapter up by next month! :D