Author's Note: I wrote this some time ago, but never published it, so the story takes place before Pain enters the picture, Asuma is dead, but Jiraiya and Kakashi are very much alive.
Disclaimer – I do not own Naruto. If I did, Naruto would be a little emo kid and sexier than Sasuke.
Warnings: Attempted suicide in this chapter. If the topic makes you feel uneasy just brush through it. I promise you'll live.
"…" - speaking out loud.
'…' - thinking.
"Bold" - Kyuubi speaking to Naruto.
Italic – Short flashback
Goodbye Now, Hello Tomorrow
Six years. Six long much needed years of solitude and pure bliss. It had been six years without the people of fire country. Six years without the members of the hidden leaf, and six years of joyfully running away from demon hunters looking for the head of the carrier of the nine-tailed fox with no luck for the hunters. It had also been six years of living without the beatings and the sneers. Six years without the having to hide his feeling and run away from his tears. Six years of basic, much-needed peace.
However, his time away hadn't all been sunshine and daisies. He had been though things that made him grow as both a ninja and a person. Horrible missions that left him close to death and bleeding everywhere, but in the end it had been completely worth it. He had found real friends that trusted him and believed in him unlike the so-called "friends" he had had in Hidden Leaf.
No one, not a single one, had questioned his departure or even tried to stop him, not that they knew he was leaving anyway, but it didn't matter because the day he left he had finally convinced himself that they didn't care, not even a little, and from what he knew that was still the absolute truth. As far as he knew only one person had tried to find him, and he assumed that it was probably because he wanted to kill him for the power to destroy his own personal boogieman.
That one day, six long years ago, had changed him from the smiling, obnoxious kid he had been on the outside to the serious, icy-cold teen he secretly was on the inside. That day, his mask of happiness shattered into a million pieces by hearing those words; hateful words shattered the heart of a fragile child with no parents and nothing to hold on to but his own hopes and dreams. Hearing the truth fall from the lips of those he loved, protected, and trusted destroyed him and forced him to do the unimaginable. After all, even though not a word of it was true, who was he to call them liars?
/Flashback – Six years ago/
A blonde boy of approximately fifteen years of age lay in the grass in the after glow of a good training session. He had been practicing his taijutsu skills and chakra control, and the blue-eyed boy was absolutely exhausted. However tired he might have been, he couldn't help but let his mind wander onto a somewhat foreboding topic: the topic of one Uchiha Sasuke. The youth that had been resting in the back of his mind for the last three years, the betrayer that had tried to kill him not once but twice, the second having been no more than a month ago during their little reunion after over two and half years of separation.
'Damn it, Sasuke. What the fuck is your problem?' he thought lazily.
As Uzumaki Naruto thought about the nuke-nin and their recent meeting, he couldn't help but remember the very dangerous hug the Uchiha had given him during their crossing. He remembered the feeling of the cool metal as it hovered just above his skin. He also remembered, with a slight frustration, that the dark youth had still been taller than him. He thought back on the words the Sharingan wielder had bestowed on him.
'He wants to break all ties with me, and he was once again willing to kill me, but why didn't he do it the first time when it would have been all too easy? Why didn't he try harder to do it this time?'
So many questions of this type had plagued Naruto nonstop for the last three years. It kept him up at night and denied him proper training time. They even strained his mind to point of not eating or sleeping. He was unable to sleep because of the recurring dreams that haunted his mind of a phantom kiss ghosting over his rain-drenched lips in a sad farewell. He would ask himself if it was real, but had to have been his imagination acting up again, or it may even have been the sadistic nature of Kyuubi causing the fox to make him suffer in his own dreams, but no matter how hard he thought on it, or how often he had the dream, he just couldn't answer the damn question.
In exasperation, he threw up his arms and huffed into a sitting position. He had to distract himself once again from the topic that ate at him and unnerved him to no end.
"Fucking, Sasuke. Always mind-fucking me," he had whispered these words out loud to himself in an attempt to get off of this train of thought. Thankfully, it worked as he promptly heard his stomach grumble in annoyance at its lack of sustenance. He laughed internally at his body's childish display.
"Oh well guess I better go get my ramen."
And with that, a protective smile plastered on his face, he headed back into the village to comply with his body's demands.
The murmurs of hatred fluttered around Naruto's ears.
"Why doesn't that thing do what it should and just kill itself already, and do us all a big favor!"
Naruto kept walking with his head bowed to the whispers that were just loud enough to hurt him. Somehow he managed to keep the smile pasted on his face, so they didn't see the stinging pain the words were inflicting upon him.
"It's all his fault the Great Uchiha left us."
And with that comment he ran. He ran forward, blindly to a sanctuary that didn't exist. He finally brought himself to a stop by a small tea shop. He leaned against the wall to catch his breath when suddenly a tea cup was thrown at him from inside the shop.
"Get the fuck away from my shop, Demon, before I give you a good lesson on loitering!"
He took off again, smile long gone, and close to tears.
'I need somebody. Anybody… I know, Sakura.'
With that thought he took off to the center of town where the market was. No doubt she would be there on her day off.
As he neared the marketing district, the whispers followed him. He was crying on the inside when he finally a bright pink blur of hair followed closely by a mass of neatly cut black hair that was most likely Sai. Spirits brightened momentarily, he ran forward hoping to surprise her, but he stopped short hearing that they were talking about him.
"Didn't you miss Naruto at all while he was gone?" asked Sai stunned at the words that were coming from the obnoxious girl's mouth.
"Not at all, and now that he's back, he's as annoying as ever."
Unknown to Sakura, Naruto heard this. Sai, on the other hand, knew that Naruto was right behind them from the spike in chakra signature. Smirking he decided to push the issue further in hope of hurting and gaining a new insult against their blonde teammate.
"So, what would you have done if Sasuke had taken Naruto's life that day last month?" Sai could almost feel the waves of angst coming from the blonde standing behind them.
"I don't know. Probably nothing. I mean if Sasuke had killed Naruto then he would have come back to the village with all the power he needed to kill Itachi. Then he would get his revenge and finally ask me to marry him." At this point she had a very dreamy, heart eyed expression on her face. It was starting to disturb Sai.
"So, you wouldn't miss Naruto at all?"
Naruto ran away for the third time that day, tears pouring down his face. He ran to Iruka's house to find him gone, probably at the Ninja Academy, and Iruka wouldn't want him disturbing him while he was teaching, so he went to the Bar-BQ in hopes of finding Shikamaru, Chouji, or even Ino. They were their, but they were so engrossed in themselves they didn't even notice the blonde hover by the door until he had taken off again. This time he ran to Tsunade's office. Not bothering to knock, he ran in. She didn't even look up from the mountain of paper work in front of her.
"What do you want, brat? I'm busy."
"What is it, Naruto?!"
He stayed silent, hoping that she would look up at him. She never did.
"If you are just here to bug me, then scram. I don't need you wasting anymore of my time." She never saw the pained expression etched across his face.
He ran out of the office and into the street, running into people accidentally just to be insulted and shoved out of the way.
"Why don't you hurry up and die, demon scum."
"It's your entire fault he's gone, you monster!"
"Worthless piece of fuck shit. How can you live with yourself?!"
He fought desperately to hold by his tears, but it was all in vain. Streams of clear salty liquid were streaming down him face as he ran. He ran to the Hokage Mountain where he cried his sorrows away for the rest of the day waiting for his sadness and depression to empty out, but no one ever told him that emotions never run dry. It wasn't until dusk that he decided to return to his apartment emotionally drained, tired, and alone.
He got up slowly almost as if he was in a trance and began to walk down the mountain towards his small apartment. His ears perked up at the sound of voices heading his way. Instinctively, he ducked behind a bush close to his left and hid his chakra as best as he possibly could which made it undetectable by even the strongest ninja.
He watched as two figures entered his line of sight. The two figures turned out to be Kakashi and Yamato have a conversation about Naruto's current training. Currently, it was Yamato speaking.
"Do you think he will ever be able to master blending rasengan with wind chakra? He's been coming along quite nicely as of yet."
"I'm not sure. It is a very tricky thing to do. I'm not sure if he has the skill, yet."
The small gleam that had returned to his eyes at Yamato's statement was extinguished with the words of Kakashi.
'Why would you say that Kaka-sensei?' thought Naruto sadly.
"It's not that I don't believe in the kid; it's just that he's not…" Kakashi trailed off not wanting to finish his sentence.
"He's not Sasuke," Yamato finished for him.
Kakashi didn't answer Yamato's statement, but Naruto knew that that was the bottom line. He wasn't Sasuke. He could never be Sasuke. He wasn't worth all of the training he was getting from Kakashi because he was never Sasuke.
"Is it true that before Sasuke left, you had never personally trained Naruto?"
"I suppose that is true."
"Why did you neglect him so?"
Naruto couldn't take this. He wanted to run. He wanted to flee. He wanted to leave before Kakashi answered that question, but something compelled him to stay. He wanted to know. Deep down he wanted to know.
"I didn't see anything in him worth training. He was nothing like me, and Sasuke was everything like me."
'So that's it. That's why.' Naruto's once bright blue eyes darkened considerably as one final tear of angst fell from his face and dripped to the ground to disappear forever with no one ever knowing it was ever there. Naruto closed his eyes in pain and heartache.
In the darkness of his sight, he saw a glass mask fall. It was painted with blue eyes and gold covered the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. A wide smile portrayed the focal point of the mask as it was accentuated with laugh lines and dimples. Three whisker marks decorated each side of the mask leading away from the carved smile. He watched as in a split second, it hit the ground and shattered into a thousand pieces never to be repaired.
As he opened his eyes, the sound of broken glass deafened his ears to the rest of the conversation. He sat in place void of emotion. Blue eyes that once shined in the daylight grew dull as the sun set on them never to light them up again in the same manner. He was broken.
Lying on his bed after a dragged walk back to his apartment, he contemplated everything that he had heard that day.
"Why don't you hurry up and die, demon scum."
Die. Death. Words he had thought about often in his childhood.
"Why doesn't that thing do what it should and just kill itself already?"
Kill myself. Suicide. That sounded like a good idea at the moment. He could never please people in his life, maybe he could make them happy with his death. That's what being a shinobi was about wasn't it. Pleasing the people he worked for, and he worked for the villagers, didn't he?
Like in a trance, he rose from the bed and made his way to the bathroom. He reached into the medicine cabinet and pulled out a bottle of sleeping pills Jiraiya had given him in the two years they were training together so he could sleep properly. He went back to his room and placed them on the vanity. He walked into the kitchen and filled a glass with water. As an after thought, he pulled a kitchen knife out of its holder on the counter and returned them both to his room. He placed them beside the pill bottle.
Now he had to think. Should he just take all the pills in the bottle and sleep for the rest of eternity? Or should he slit he wrists and bleed out slowly onto the floor watching his life essence drain away? No, he knew what was to be done. He should perform both methods just to be safe. Knowing it would take longer for the pills to affect him, he decided to take them first.
He opened the bottle and poured the remaining twenty pills into his hand. Taking five at a time, he had swallowed them all with four swings of water. At this point he was rather drowsy, so he knew that he didn't have much time before he was knocked out by the pills. Slowly, he lifted the knife from the vanity and placed it lengthwise along his wrist, relishing in the feel of the cold metal against his flesh. A small shiver coursed down his spine from the coolness touching his heated flesh.
He drew the blade down his arm from the wrist to the middle of his forearms. He repeated this on the other arm, but he wasn't finished yet. Just to make sure, he made three horizontal slash marks along the already bleeding line. They were each about an inch apart and deep. He repeated this on the other arm though the lines weren't as straight because he was right handed. Studying his handiwork, he dropped the bloodied blade to the floor with a clatter. He sighed at the sensation of his life essence flowing out of him onto the floor of the apartment. It formed a small puddle before he started to really get drowsy.
He dragged him self to the bed and collapsed on with his wrists hanging out over the edge as the blood dripped onto the floor and sheets. And like this, he fell into a darkness so thick it could not be broken by any outside noise.
Grey-blue eyes opened to see the bloodstained knife lying across the room.
'This can't be happening.'
He shut his eyes again trying to fall back into the eternal blackness he so longed for. He had failed. He could feel the dried blood caked onto his wrists. As he inhaled, the smell of blood coated his nostrils filling him with the disgusting need to retch.
He felt weak, but very much alive. It hadn't worked. He opened his eyes, looked himself over, and saw all the dry blood he was laying in. It covered the sheets, his clothes, and even his hair and skin. The burning in his nose spread to his throat. It tainted his lungs and tore at his esophagus. Like a disease spreading from his throat, he felt the burning spread into mouth. He ran to the bathroom, lifted the lid to the toilet, and emptied the acid from his stomach. The bile rising in his throat kept him hacking away in the bathroom for a good twenty minutes. He was thankful that he hadn't eaten anything because all that came up was water and bile.
Having finished heaving, he flushed the toilet, lowered the lid, and sat down on the covered basin. He lifted both his hands to examine his wrists. Pale pink scars now marked his once unmarred flesh as proof of his hateful deed.
He sighed in exasperation.
'Why didn't it work?'
"Because, brat, I do not feel like dying." Naruto visibly jumped at the verbal manifestation of Kyuubi in his mind.
'Why didn't you just let me die? I don't want to be here anymore.'
"You know that that is not true, kit. You are not ready to die, but if you want to be gone so badly, leave the village."
"You heard me. Leave. They are not worthy of your presence here."
'But I can't leave.'
Kyuubi felt terrible for his host. It was after all his fault that he was going through all this. It was time to leave.
"Yes, you can. Leave this place and grow into your own person. Then maybe you can return here, but until they see you as who you are and respect you for that, they do not deserve to have you."
Naruto thought for a second. It was a good idea but…
'Where will I go?'
"I will show you a place and tell you how to get there. Come, Kit, before someone comes."
Naruto got up and started collecting his things. It was still early in the morning. Too early in the morning, so not many people will be outside. He could leave discreetly and not be found. He highly doubted anyone would look for him anyway.
And on that day, he left the village he had grown up in with no intention of returning ever again.
He found out later that Sasuke had returned to the village exactly a week after he left. The Hokage had discovered his leave three day after he'd left and had informed the others. They had searched his apartment to find bloodied sheets, an empty bottle of pills, and a bloodstained floor, but no sign of Naruto. A lot of his clothes and personal belonging remain where he had left them, but his weapons, equipment, and other necessities were no where to be found. It was like he had just disappeared or left. Sasuke had been shocked to return to a Konoha without Naruto. That shock later turned into blind rage aimed towards the blonde who had woven a path to his heart, but no one knew that yet except for a select few who knew how to read people very well.
Sasuke had been sentence to a month long probation, but after that time period was up he was quickly promoted to Jounin and allowed on missions with team 7 which now consisted of Kakashi, Sakura, Sai, as a replacement for Naruto, and Sasuke himself. But in his spare time, Sasuke would seek out Naruto hoping to find him one day, but that didn't happen. As the years passed, Sasuke became ANBU and was now the head ANBU captain and the right hand to the Hokage. He worked with different ninja everyday and never had anything easy to do.
And now, more then six years from the day he left, the still coveted blonde stood atop the Hokage Mountain, on Yondaime's head to be exact, peering down at the village he had left behind. The blonde sighed knowingly. This was going to be interesting, if not down right lunatic.
"Home sweet home," he murmured with a smirk. His voice dripped with sarcasm.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. I know you might think there was some out of characterness in the chapter, but it will all be explained in the future of this story.