DISCLAIMER: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.

Continuum of Chaos

Chapter Twenty-four

Rinse and Repeat

Kakashi raced through the woods, the trees blurring by as he leaped from tree branch to tree branch. Just moments before, an ominous storm formed suddenly over the forest to the east. Similar to the one that appeared at the same time that his charges disappeared two weeks ago.

He pushed more chakra into his legs to gain more speed, his worry for his students causing him to be rash. It's been two weeks, and this was his last hope. After several search parties, after countless investigations and waiting to see if by chance kidnappers would contact them, people were beginning to believe them dead. They were slowly giving up. If they didn't find any sort of clue to their whereabouts within the first week, it was most likely they never would.

Just as suddenly as the storm appeared, it dissipated. And there they were, the chakra signatures of his three students. He breathed a sigh of relief, sensing their chakra signatures meant that they were still alive. His speed increased without the wind hindering him and he came upon three forms on the forest floor. Unmoving. . .

The sight of Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura laying limp on the ground caused his relief to fill with acid. Death wasn't always the worst that can happen to a shinobi. He checked each of them over, made sure they were breathing, and found they didn't have any marks on them. That didn't lower his anxiety. There were many forms of torture. Many of which didn't require laying a finger on them.

He summoned his faithful canine, Pakkun. "Get to the Hokage-sama. Tell her I found them and am heading to the hospital."

Pakkun disappeared as he created two Kage Bunshins. He carried Sakura, while his copies carried Naruto and Sasuke, and they set off back toward Konoha at full speed. He just hoped that his charges were alright. . .

The light blinded Sasuke as he attempted to crack open an eye. Shutting them, he shifted a little and felt the stiffness of his body. Lifting his arm, he used it to shade his eyes when he opened them again. A white ceiling is what he saw. One he could only associate with a hospital room. Now the real question was: How did he get there?


He closed his eyes and covered them with his arm. Sakura was not the person he wanted to see right now. His head hurt and he was slightly confused. Her obsession was not welcomed.

"Sasuke-kun, are you awake?"

No, I'm dead. That caused a series of images to flash through his mind. Too fast for him to see any of them. But the pain that filled his chest, then spiked in his head was enough to have him groaning. He rubbed his forehead in an attempt to sooth the pain as the side of his bed dipped.

"Sasuke-kun." Sakura's worried voice sounded again.

For a short moment, he forgotten she was even there. Too bad he couldn't stay oblivious to her presence for long. He opened his eyes and glared at her. She was too close with being sat on the bed. That though, was soon replaced when he noticed she was wearing a hospital gown. That was strange, Sakura was rarely in the hospital. He then looked down at himself, and found the same one as hers. It felt wrong. The whole thing felt terribly wrong.

"What happened?" he asked, the pain in his head lowering to a dull thud.

She opened her mouth, then closed it again. When she opened it again, she said, "I don't know." That was helpful. "What do you remember?"

It took him a minute to think around his headache, but otherwise said, "We were heading for ramen after finishing a mission – "

"The mission with those nasty boys." she interrupted with her head nodding.


"That's where I remember too." Tears formed and brimmed her eyes. "But Sasuke-kun. . . they keep telling me that was three weeks ago."

Three weeks? Shock overrode his other senses. How could three weeks go by when that mission felt like it was just yesterday? Trauma – it automatically came to him. That one word had several scenarios entering his mind. Each scenario worst than the last one. He scanned over Sakura and then himself, and found no visible marks on them. It didn't mean though that other means weren't used. "How did we get here?"

Tears still threatened to fall when she answered, "Kakashi-sensei found us in the forest a couple days ago. We've been missing for two weeks by then." She wipe away the tears that got loose. "I woke up here yesterday. They said we all were going to be fine. That we were exhausted and you guys would wake up soon." More tears streamed down her face. "I was so afraid that you wouldn't wake up. And they keep checking and whispering about Naruto like something's wrong with him. I-I-I j-ju-just d-did-didn. . ." A sob cut her off, then another. She broke down and buried her face in the hospital blanket.

He barely paid any attention to her after the mention of his blond teammate. Naruto. Panic rose and it was so close to suffocating him. He turned in the opposite direction of Sakura and found Naruto laying unconscious on a hospital bed merely a few feet from him. This didn't help the constriction of his chest, it only worsened. It brought another series of images he couldn't slow down to see, just another spike of pain to his head, and a deep sense of dread that consumed him.

It was irrational, there was no reason for such a reaction. It wasn't like Naruto hasn't ever been in the hospital before. What made this time more different than those others? What made him think the blond wouldn't wake up?

The door opened then, and a nurse walked in. She paused in her stride when she saw him. Like a thousand watt bulb lighting up, she smiled. "Sasuke-kun, you're awake." He glared at her. It didn't deter her though as she continued, "How are you feeling? Any discomfort?"

He didn't speak, but his glare hardened when she stepped up to Naruto's bedside and began to check his vitals. Sakura picked herself up and wiped her face. She stared at the nurse and watched her every move as he was doing. His nerves were on edge with the amount of time she was taking.

With the way he was keeping an eye on the nurse's actions, the door banging open had him startling. The Hokage and Kakashi came in, the Hokage telling the nurse to leave. The older woman replaced the nurse's position and began to check the blond herself. He looked over to Kakashi and asked, "Is something wrong with him?"

Instead of answering him, the man asked, "What do you remember, Sasuke?"

"The same as me." Sakura answered for him.

"I believe I asked him, Sakura." Kakashi reprimanded her. "Now Sasuke, what's the last thing you remember?"

He glanced over at the Hokage and Naruto before speaking, "We were going to get ramen."

"Who were?" Kakashi interrupted. He gave the man an irritated look, losing his patience. "Who were with you?"

"Naruto, Sakura, and you."

"And we were going to get ramen after the successful mission at the Takehiro household."

His hand gripped the blanket to hold the anger that was searing just underneath the surface in. "Yes." he gritted out through clenched teeth.

Kakashi sighed, "You do realize Sasuke, that was three weeks ago."

"So I've been told."

A look passed between Kakashi and the Hokage. A look that didn't set well with him. It told of knowledge that he and Sakura weren't aware of. The Hokage moved to him when she was done checking Naruto. "What happened to us?" he questioned before she could begin.

"We don't know." she said in such a casual way that when she reached for his arm, he jerked the limb away from her.

"We disappeared for two weeks; you can't tell me you didn't find out anything."

"That's exactly what I can tell you." Her voice was stern as she straightened, hands on her hips, and glared down at him. "You three disappeared without a trace to your whereabouts. We found nothing, until Kakashi came back to Konoha one day with your unconscious bodies. There were no marks, no indication of what might have been done to you. Just. . ." she trailed off for a second before resuming, "We have no idea where any of you were for those two weeks. The only people who do, are you three."

"What's wrong with Naruto?" He didn't miss the slip-up. She was hiding something crucial about Naruto. If her actions didn't give any hint, his gut was screaming it. He watched closely, seeing the flash of sadness that crossed her features. She attempted to walk away, but he grabbed her wrist, stopping her. "What's wrong with him?"

She didn't speak for a long moment, then her body went lax, like she lost the will to fight anymore. "When we examined the both of you, you two were fine – no signs of anything wrong. But with Naruto. . . we found something."

It'd never stop. . . his mind unexpectedly thought. He vaguely wondered where it came from, but the unusual anxiety that filled him had him dismissing it.

"What? What did you find?" Sakura urged the Hokage to continue.

With his loose grip, the Hokage removed herself from his hold. "There's a bruise on his temporal lobe. A section of the brain where memories are stored." She paused, folding her arms underneath her breasts and gazing down at Naruto. "It's severe. There's a chance. . . There's a chance he won't ever wake up."

The thundering of his heartbeat filled his ears, blocking out the sound of Sakura's cries. His anxiety slowly began to numb by a hollowness that felt all too familiar. It seemed almost automatic, like this has happened too many times. Too many times. . . Slowly, he turned and looked over at Naruto. His breath caught at the sight of what he could only guess was reality distorting. Naruto's image kept merging back and forth between several different images of himself. Ones that all consisted of him laying in a hospital bed, unconscious.

He attempted to blink the delusion away, thinking that maybe his vision was playing tricks on him. That wasn't the case though. It continued, and he stared at the images. Images he's seemed to have seen before.


He jerked his head to the one who called him. It was Kakashi. "What?" With the looks he was receiving from not only Kakashi, but the Hokage and Sakura also, he assumed his sensei had called his name for than once.

"There's one more question that needs to be answered, then you can get some rest." Kakashi said.

"You don't by chance remember the five kids you and the brat found in the forest?" the Hokage was the one who asked. "They could give us a clue to where you three might have been."

His head shook, he didn't remember finding any kids anywhere. "What kids?"

She sighed and lowered her gaze until her eyes were closed. A second later, they were back open and sharing another look with Kakashi. This time, Sasuke wasn't too worried about it, he was too busy turning back to Naruto. Only to find that the images were gone. He frowned, wondering if he was losing his mind. They looked so real. Too real. . .

Those images stayed with him, even as the Hokage checked him over, even after her and Kakashi left, and even through the rest of the day as he endured Sakura's presence. They continued to haunt him. Now he laid awake in bed, on his side facing Naruto, and still contemplated the meaning of them. The only reason he hasn't completely committed to being crazy was the recent memory loss. His mind could be trying to tell him what happened the past three weeks.

Yet, since those images, nothing else has happened. No more flashes – no more distorting, only the anxiousness to remember. The almost desperate need to know what occurred. If he didn't remember, it felt like something terrible was going to happen. Some event that would destroy him.

That night he got no sleep, absolutely none. And he was more than grateful that Sakura was discharged that day and had to go home to spend some time with her parents. That gave him some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, it was only temporary.

He spent his day watching over Naruto, waiting for him to wake up. He was always waiting. He seemed used to it. And that's what bothered him, because he shouldn't be used to it. There shouldn't be a bruised and beaten section of his heart where seeing Naruto particularly on death's door was a common sight. It shouldn't be like that. And he had to begrudgingly admit that maybe that scared him a little, because what if that's how it was. What if Naruto was the one getting hurt?

For some unknown reason, that really bothered him. He never thought about it before, what Naruto meant to him. Well, he didn't think he had. But ever since he woke up, that's all that's been running through his mind. Just Naruto. . . Just his dobe. . .

Sakura didn't come back all day, nor the next day when he was discharged. When she did return the following day, he was still there. Still waiting. . . That day though was Naruto's day to wake up. Since Sakura was the first, then him the next day, Naruto was due that day.

He never did.

And with the way the medics were talking, Naruto's outlook was looking grimmer with each day that passed. By the time a week went by, many of those same medics didn't expect him to wake up. That was the worst part, they were already preparing a more permanent room for him. Some even spoke of ending his life. That had Sasuke losing his small strand of control and had to have Kakashi get him off of them.

It was only hours later that Sasuke found himself sitting alone in the dark, the light from the streetlamps flooding in from the windows. Technically he wasn't alone, but he might as well have been. There has been no movement from Naruto in a week. No sign of him waking up. He hated to admit it, but he was losing hope. He hated the thought that he might just lose that bright light in his life that has been dark for so long. He didn't just hate it, he loathed it. He was terrified of it. . .

He lowered his face into his hands, feeling the fear rise through the hollowness he's been grasping desperately to. Hugging that hollowness around him like a cloak to protect him from breaking down and dealing with emotions he thought he long since buried.

It didn't work. Tears still burned his eyes, still threatened to fall. It was just finally hitting him, striking him hard. He had to take deep breaths to try and keep calm. To try and stop the pain that swelled in his chest. It was becoming impossible to restrain his emotions anymore. He jumped off the bed and began to pace. Back and forth. He had to keep moving. . . otherwise he knew he was going to fall apart.

That was a hard thing to realize – what Naruto could do to him. How deep his attachment to the blond really was; it scared him to death. He wouldn't know what he would do if Naruto never woke up. He stopped at the thought, an epiphany hitting him like a ton of bricks. With shock overriding his senses, he slowly turned and stared wide-eyed at Naruto. His dobe. . . he's always referred to him. His. . . Maybe deep down he always knew.

The shock faded, and he was left with an emptiness that spread throughout his body. It was such a profound loss that it had him trembling. Because it didn't matter. No revelation was going to make his dobe wake up. . .

His foot unconsciously took a step forward, followed by the other. He soon found himself by the blond's bedside, staring down at the peacefulness that graced those tanned features. It hurt. It hurt more than he thought was possible. More than he thought he was capable of. He leaned in and rested his forehead against Naruto's. Hot tears leaked out of the corner of his eyes, burning a trail down his cheeks and dripping on Naruto's skin. He couldn't remember the last time he cried. No. . . he could. He just didn't want to. And now, he finally realized that maybe this weakness he had, he didn't want to ignore it anymore.

"Why won't you wake up?" he whispered, his lips mere inches from Naruto's. That space slowly disappeared, until their lips were lightly touching. The feel of the blond's lips had a shiver running down his spine. "I love you." He barely spoke aloud before he gently pressed his lips to Naruto's.

Electricity surged through him, causing flashes to run through his mind like a fast-forwarding movie. Unlike the other times, this was different. Even though they were speeding through his mind at a pace he couldn't keep up with in his mind's eye, he still knew exactly what they were showing him. His memories. Every event that took place in the future was now remembered like his gut knew he should.

It was enough to have his mind reeling and by the time Sasuke pulled back, it took him a moment before he could open his eyes. When he did, he lost his breath. Because right there, staring back at him drowsily, was a pair of sapphire orbs. Lazily, Naruto smiled up at him. . .

"Love you too, Sasuke."

The End

Yup, it's the end. There are some things that are left a mystery and are up to your own theories to fill in. Now there's not going to be a sequal, but I am making a series of time-traveling stories. Like the next in the series is going to be called, Lithium of Ice, which has nothing to do with this story. It's a complete other story all on its' own. I'll be putting the summary up a little later on my profile, but don't look for it right away.

Now for all those who have been waiting, I will be working on the sequel to Webs of Deception . . . Veils of Deceit. So keep an eye out for it!