A guttural rumble sounded in the far distance. It was a faint reminder of the storm that was brewing in the south. The white wisps of clouds that passed overhead went on to bleed into dark gray cumulus. Rain was to come; the air was riddled with the smell and humid moisture, tell-tell signs that the calm would not last forever.
The first drops squeezed through their clouded barriers, warning the life below of the impending storm. They still had time, but the rain would not stay at bay forever. For now, it would wait, watching the world below. It would rain, but only when the time was right.
Wind blew the stray drop. It swayed in the assault and lost its original course. Quickly it fell, the amusement park looming closer and closer in the distance. Soon the drop would meet the dry world as it had done many times before.
Thunder growled again, stirring those that had been asleep. Eyes, as blue as the crystalline sky, fluttered in a lazy fashion. Each lid pulled slowly open, blinking again as a drop of rain touched tanned cheeks.
Naruto groaned, his back popping from the position it had been forced to rest in. The hard surface on which he laid did little to help alleviate it. Turning onto his back, he looked up trying to grasp at his surroundings. He was on a bench; it's back coming to sweep up over him like a canopy. Before him, its twin sat empty and lonely.
The colors were striking, deep blues, purples, and gold's. Elaborate designs traced the back, sides, and bottom panels. The overall color was cream in the overcast skies. Naruto wouldn't have been surprised if it would be pearl white on the brightest days.
Turning his head, Naruto jumped, becoming instantly aware of where he was at the sight that ghosted over him. There frozen mid gallop was a zebra, decorated in a flourished fashion. Head tossed back in a muted cry, colorful feathers perched atop its head. It was a sad sight as it sat there still, the golden pole keeping it skewered in place. The creature was created to move, not to hang still; dead to the world.
As odd as it might seem, Naruto knew he had come to find himself on a carousel. The assortment of animals lined and waiting was testament to that. His only question was how he had managed to come here. Two women flashed to mind, in a room that had come to make his head spin and reality disappear.
It didn't take him long to figure that he had been taken; away from the safety of the street he had come to live on. The blackest of eyes bleed into his mind, and Naruto's heart fell. Sasuke. What would Sasuke think? He had warned him not to go, and like a fool, Naruto had not listened. Now look where he found himself.
He didn't need to be a genius to guess who his kidnapper had been. There was only one Sasuke had warned over and over again to watch out for. If only the raven-haired man had been more descriptive of who Naruto should have been looking out for. Not matter how much he wished to push the blame off towards Sasuke; he knew that he too should have asked more. He should have been more concerned and aware of who could possibly be out to get him.
Sitting up, he groaned. His head was killing him, much like what he would expect from a hangover. Now if only it had been one of those nights. Where he had gone off to hit bar after bar with friends, only to end up waking in some strange and random place in the morning. Was it too much to hope for?
Another drop splattered his brow and he wondered how they managed to reach him. The over hanging on the covered seats of the carousel should have kept the rain at bay. Naruto could only blame it on the wind, which had begun to blow with more force as the storm slowly approached. If he listened carefully, the thunder could be heard grumbling and complaining. Looking to the distance Naruto counted until he saw the first flash of lightning trace the sky.
He had long ago forgotten how the trick worked, but he had counted to fifteen. Did that mean the storm was fifteen miles away, or fifteen minutes away? Wasn't that about the same? Quickly he stopped himself. The panic was settling in causing his thoughts to scrabble in hopes of getting his mind off his current situation.
His eyes darted about, grabbing at anything that would hope to settle his anxiety. The park seemed vacant. A Ferris wheel loomed in the distance; a haunting sight. The paint was dulled and fading from weather; rust was beginning to set in. Naruto was alone, or from what he could see, he was. Hope danced just below the surface. Maybe he had been mistaken in his captor's identities. It was entirely possible that the women could have just been common crooks. They had mugged him and then left him in some desolate area of town. The part of the city he had been walking through supported his theory. Crimes were not unheard of in that area.
Naruto almost laughed as his panic subsided. He had gotten worked up over nothing. Sasuke would be sure to scold him when he got home, but that would be the extent of it. That and a few missing bucks, which was all he had been carrying on him. Standing he surveyed the skies once more, trying to make an assumption of the time he had left to safely get home. It wouldn't be pleasant if he got caught up in the storm. His eyes caught the glittering face of the black towers clock, realizing his distance from his new home. It would be a good thirty-minute walk; he could make it.
Feeling a sense of adventure settle in him, Naruto maneuvered his way from the carousel's covered benches. Thinking back, that had been his first time to sit in one. As a child, he preferred the animals. A pretty bay horse, or if the assortment of choices went beyond mere horse, he would often seek out his most favorite mount. The red fox with its rich forest green and gold ornaments.
For nostalgic purposes, blue eyes skimmed the small portion of the ride that he could see. It didn't take him long to stop the white tipped tail of the sly fox. His pace quickened turning towards the animal, wishing to relive some long lost child hood memory.
"I wouldn't wander off if I were you." Funny, how such a simple sentence can change ones fate. Naruto stilled, struck frozen in place. Those words were like one of those golden poles, impaling Naruto just like the animals around him.
gHinata?" The girl sat along the edge of the carousel, her back leaning against a fading pole. She was looking off into the sky, only staring towards Naruto for the briefest of moments. Lavender eyes looked blank and soulless. Had they always looked that empty?
"Come and sit. Leaving now will give Sakura reason to harm you." Naruto contemplated running for a moment. Sakura was human, Sasuke had said as much. She wouldn't be able to catch him if he desired to flee. Hinata was a different story. The aura she gave off was distinctly inhuman. Her eyes were testament to that. No human eyes were like that, pale almost white. Naruto wasn't sure if the quiet girl would give chase. It wasn't a chance he was willing to take. "Come, I won't harm you."
Her voice was smooth and soothing. Naruto was finding it hard not to join the girl. It wouldn't hurt to sit for a bit. Wasn't as if he had elsewhere to go. Besides he was finding himself still a little dizzy from the tea he had drank earlier that day.
"Don't think I'm afraid of you," Naruto said as he sat a foot or two away from her. Only because he didn't want to impede on the girl's space, not because he was scared. No, not at all.
Hinata smiled, "What makes me so different from Sasuke? You take him in without question, and yet here you sit distancing yourself from me."
"How would you know?" The look she was given was one of disbelief, not that she expected any different.
"I read your fortune after all. I probably know more about yourself then even you." She pulled a deck of cards from somewhere on her person, Naruto couldn't see from where. They were shuffled with care and ease, Hinata not even bothering to focus on Naruto as she spoke. "I'm a Korrigan, though I am not as cruel as my kind can be." She paused, a slim smile resting on plump lips. "Fortunately I am only part; my grandmother was one. So I only inherited the hair and their precognition." A small laugh bubbled up from her throat, before she blushed and turned away. It was somewhat hard to believe this was still the same shy girl he had met hours before.
"Korrigan?" The girl seemed to be expecting the confusing, since she merely waved it off unbothered. Her race was a dying breed, one that many would not mind forgetting.
"What is it about Sasuke that lets you trust him so freely? Is it his charm? No, it goes deeper than that." Each word was spoken quickly and softly, not truly meant for Naruto to hear. Hinata was no longer speaking to her guest, but rather to some unknown voice perhaps. One that she only had ears for. "You're both strange ones."
Naruto couldn't say he understood the connection any better. The pull he felt towards Sasuke was a subtle one. Making him feel like everything was safe; nothing would forcefully pull him into something he was not ready for. With Sasuke, he felt safe, even when he knew the world around him was glaring down with sharpened claws.
"Does it even matter?" He asked.
"To you, maybe not. Humans don't often question why things happen, at least not to its fullest." Hinata slid a card from her deck; a wooden wheel glimmered upon its surface. "But for me it matters. For it's my job to understand the fates of others. To do that, is to better understand the fortunes that I read."
Another card joined its kin, a maiden paying tribute to her eight lovely cups. Naruto knew them for what they were, tarot cards; beautifully drawn. By the yellowing of the white, he could see their age, and it peeked his curiosity. No doubt, they were old, but how many fortunes could they have possibly told in their life.
"Unicorns." Hinata stopped, her voice flat and eyes looking off behind her. Naruto turned, taking sight of the magnificent horse; face contorted in pain it seemed. Upon its brow stood the proud horn, and the animal's namesake. "It's funny how humans were able to perfectly display the last days of such a beast. They were blind to their fate, voluntarily so."
When Naruto looked back towards the girl, death stared back. The card ominous in it's foretelling. "What happened?" He found himself asking.
"I fear I'm not the best to tell such a story. Besides you have a better source than me." With a quick swipe, Hinata gathered her cards, giving Naruto only a fleeting glance to the last one she had laid. A shinning star, twinkling against a never ending black. "Be ready, it all begins now."
Sakura sat upon the carousel's top. She had long ago stopped listening to the words of the two below her. They bored her, and she saw the human as insignificant. He was only her ploy in claiming what should have been hers long ago. That damned Re'em with which held her fate.
Hard eyes kept a steady watch towards the horizon. The suns glow turned the clouds a melody of different colors. Gold and pinks reflected off her skin, warming her before the cold of the storm. Grays and deep blues assaulted her from behind, the winds blowing her strawberry strands wildly.
Skilled hands played with her thatch of arrows, quiver strung carefully to her back. One in particular, sat upon her lap. Its head shown bright in the evening light, the dark stone of the point reflected each catching ray. Unlike the others, this arrow seemed to radiate a sense of power and pulsated as if alive.
This arrow would become one of Sakura's greatest assets. With the loss of her elven gifts, she was forced to lay her hope in both knowledge and the magical weapons of her people. The crimson feathers, from a phoenix, that flecked the arrows end would ensure that it would fly straight in its plight. Sakura hummed in contentment. By the end of the day she would see that golden blood spilled, turning the ground a lovely inky black.
Manticore venom, which coated the sharp head, would be sure to make quick work of the unicorn. Sakura was sure she did not spare any expense on the lethality of her weapon. One drop of this despicable poison would be enough to bring a grown man into a fit of pain and agony, before sweeping him into oblivion. Laughably the only antidote was powder from the horn of a Re'em. It was unfortunate that Sasuke would not be able to heal himself. That was the fate of the unicorn. Their magical attribute did more for others, than themselves.
A pierced cry floated over the horizon, racing the booms of thunder. Emerald eyes gazed ahead waiting to see what she knew was coming. Soaring through the steal maze of beams that formed the decrepit roller coaster was the very hawk she had been waiting to see. He called out once more, circling and then falling back to the earth below. Kakashi was here, no doubt with company in toe.
In a quick skilled movement she let herself drop from the carousel's top, cursing as a jolted sting raced through her calves. Another penalty for being forced into a human body. These creatures were far too delicate for her liking.
Behind her, Naruto yelped and drew back digging blunt nails into the polished wood below them. He hadn't been expecting nor aware of Sakura's presence. Her sudden appearance did more that just scare him. At this point, he was far more worried, and not the least bit of it had to do with his own well-being. Naruto wasn't the one being hunted like some worthless animal. Soon everything would boil down to something he wasn't quite sure he could handle.
Looking up at the woman before him, he felt so helpless. The bow strung upon her back had Naruto's heart thrumming deep in his chest. He could only imagine what they would be used for. Empty hands were clenched, wishing for some strength to stop all of this. A calming hand drew his attention to a smiling Hinata. She shook her head almost as if she knew the crazy ideas flying about his mind. With a final quick squeeze, she released him, turning to watch the quickly approaching group ahead.
Naruto's stomach twisted as he recognized that mop of coal black hair. He couldn't even mistake Sasuke for Sai who was to the man's side. Sasuke's locks were stained from the deepest of blacks, almost glinting blue in the right light. Sai's seemed dull in comparison.
"Looks like you weren't a worthless piece of bait." Sakura spat, returning the arrow she held to sit among its brothers. "Like a moth to a flame." Naruto didn't like the smile that ghosted over the woman's face; it held something that was wholly cruel.
Sakura reached behind her, grasping at her hostages blond hair. Nails dug into the tender flesh of his scalp, tightening around the strands forcing Naruto to his feet. Hinata stood as if protesting the harsh treatment. Sakura shot her a look, but otherwise ignored her. "Come; let's go greet them shall we."
Tears threatened to spill from stormy blue eyes, but Naruto held them at bay. He hurried to keep up with the stride of the woman before him. Each ruthless jerk of her hand tore at his roots. She stopped, Naruto's cheek colliding with cool stone. There, resting at her hip was an oval jewel the color of pearl. It was wrapped haphazardly with leather ropes, which contrasted with the creamy surface. Another harsh yank was delivered to his head, forcing him to fall to his side. Hands slid against the gravel, the sharp bits cut and scraped at his palm. A broken bottle sliced into his knee, blood already coming to stain the ground.
Naruto cried out, eyes wide as they stared at the gash. Glass still protruded from it, making it look far worse that it was. With a quick breath, the fragment was removed and Naruto blinked away the salty tears. The wound was throbbing, each pulse forcing out more blood to flow down his shins in rivulets.
Sakura chuckled; there was no pity to be found in her cool green eyes. Instead, Naruto looked towards the entering group. He could see the worry in Sasuke's eyes, the clenching of his fits and jaw. Naruto knew that he had seen the brutality that had been dealt upon him.
"Sasuke, how kind of you to finally come join us." The once elven woman swung her arms out in false welcoming. The sweetness of her words grated on Naruto's ears. "I was beginning to think you weren't coming. You had your little human worried." Sakura kicked Naruto hard in the side, bring him lie flat on his stomach. Her heel pressed and dug into his back releasing a series of cries and curses from the blond's mouth.
"Naruto!" Sasuke yelled, finally coming within a hundred feet of them. Kakashi shot his arm out, keeping the distraught man from proceeding any farther. Sasuke gripped at the sleeve of the shape-shifter's shirt, fully prepared to toss him aside.
"Stay where you are Re'em." Naruto yelped, as the heel was ground into his spine. Sakura merely smirked. "Wouldn't want anything to happen to your precious human cause you were too hot headed."
"You bitch," He spat, voice venomous.
"Well that's not a nice thing to say. It's not like this is any of my fault." Sakura kicked Naruto once, forcing him to roll farther away. Hinata was there quickly; checking him over before helping him to sit up. Sakura paid them no mind, her entire focus zeroed in on her prize. "You were the one who brought the human into this mess. Had you just given yourself up to me, none of this would have happened. Now this boy will be forever burdened with the sight of your dying face."
Naruto brushed Hinata off, forcing himself to stand without aid. His eyes darted between the two. Sakura's hands were playing with the stone at her side, while Sasuke visibly shook in anger.
"Then kill me now, and free Naruto." Kakashi had lowered his arm, allowing Sasuke to take a few steady steps forward. "I'm here. What are you waiting for?"
A dark laughter floated forth from Sakura's throat, dry and humorless. "You think I am as stupid as to think you would go down without a fight. Especially in that form. Don't take me for a fool." She pulled forth the stone, its pearl veins shimmering in the light. If one looked closely, they could see them swirl about like living fog. "You're weak in your true form, are you not?" She laughed again, not waiting for any sort of answer. "How tragic that the powers you posses are more useful to your enemies then yourself. Why was it that you were feared?"
"You know nothing of my power." Sasuke's eyes flashed, a deep red overtaking the otherwise dark orbs. Power radiated from ever pore, even the ground seemed to shake at this man's wrath.
Naruto looked on in awe. He never thought to question the powers that Sasuke might hold within himself. As he watched a pale hand, tickled with flames, come to point towards the woman who brought forth this rage, Naruto felt a jolt of fear. What sort of creature was this man? He was unsure if he even wanted to know anymore.
"I will burn you to the ground!" Sasuke roared, the flame growing with his anger.
"Really?" Delicate nails tapped in boredom at the stone in Sakura's hands. "Unfortunately we can't have that happening now can we." With a quick movement, she brought her thumb to her mouth, biting into the soft flesh. Blood dripped from the wound in a steady stream.
Kakashi, knowing what was to come, moved towards his master's side. His eyes went to Sakura's and she smiled quickly. "You have fulfilled your promise." Was all she said. He nodded once, bringing his gaze back towards the raging man. Kakashi pitied him, but it was Sasuke's own fault for attaching himself to a human. Humans were nothing but trouble, he had learned as much in his many years of living.
Sakura swiped her thumb across the smooth surface of the stone, a bold trail of her blood being left behind. It was a rare tool that she had come across completely by accident during her travels. A human had been selling it at one of the many venders she had visited in a market place in India. Pathetic being didn't know what sort of a trinket he possessed, claiming it to only be a precious jewel.
She watched with great interest as the stone glowed, sucking in the blood she had given to it. For the first time she was grateful for the human blood that now coursed through her veins. Without it, this plan would have failed before it had even been able to come to fruition.
"Do you know what this is?" She called.
Sasuke gave no hint of recognition, fire still licking at his wrists. Sai though, who had been standing by watching intently, began to move forward. His eyes wide for he knew what lay in Sakura's hands.
"Sasuke." A roll of thunder drowned out the cry, the storm had already come to rest above their fight. Grey wisps just waiting to let loose their down pour upon unsuspecting heads. Sai tried again, but was ignored. Sasuke was already moving forward, flames growing tenfold. It twisted and flicked, sparks flying out to burn at the ground. With a sharp flick of his wrist, Sasuke sent a flaming ball towards Sakura's feet.
The woman did little to acknowledge the warning attack. Despite the murderous intent, she felt leaking from the man, she knew he would not kill her unless he was given no other option. Compassion was in his blood, it was the curse of being a creature so pure. 'This ends now.' She tossed the glowing stone into the air, the light only growing as it raised higher and higher. When it reached its pinnacle, the stone pulsed. Once. Twice. It exploded then, pouring rain down upon them. Each drop sparkled like its mother stone, like millions of creamy pearls.
Naruto's head jerked back towards Sasuke, who screamed, tucking his head in under his arms. His skin seemed to boil and melt under each drop. It was as if the stone had poured acid onto the man, for it seemed to be eating him alive. The drops upon Naruto's skin felt cool and pleasant, leaving him far too confused. Hinata, who stood at his side, gasped her eyes looking away from the sight.
"Does it hurt Sasuke? That stone was made from the tears of fairies. Those tears will burn away any glamour you have placed upon yourself." She turned to Naruto then, amusement shinning so cruelly in her eyes. "Be happy Naruto. It is finally your chance to see what Sasuke has been hiding from you."
Even if Naruto wanted to look away, he couldn't. He had been possessed by his own sick fascination. The sight itself was morbid as flesh dissolved and bones twisted. The painful cries cut deep into his heart, yet he could not bring himself to look away. The smell of burning flesh reached his nose, and he had to force back the bile that threatened to spill from his mouth.
"Beautiful isn't he. The last of his kind." Naruto blinked, looking towards Sakura as she spoke and then back towards the creature that now stood proudly in Sasuke's place. Out of all the things, Naruto had not been expecting what he saw. Strong muscular legs, footed with charcoal hooves, lead up to a lean chest and hips. The horse reared up in protest, its raven mane flying up only to fall down upon the whitest of necks. Finally, Naruto's eyes came to rest on the chiseled horn that rested soundly upon the animal's forehead, black like onyx quartz. The unicorn was a beautiful creature, and Naruto found himself staring on in awed fascination.
This was Sasuke. The realization hit him, making him suck in a sudden breath. This was the identity that was hidden behind the man he had found passed out in a nameless back alley. In any other situation Naruto might have laughed. He had always associated unicorns with fairy-tales and princesses in pink ruffly gowns. Before he would never have called a unicorn fearsome, but looking at Sasuke now, he saw the danger in those piercing crimson eyes. They bore into his own for only a moment, before turning back towards the woman who had caused all of this to pass. Naruto saw the flash of fear in those red eyes. Saw the same worry etched in Sai's features as well.
"Sasuke." It was whispered more than anything else, but he saw Sasuke's ears swirl towards his direction although his eyes stayed glued to Sakura. Naruto wanted to run out to him, save him from whatever horrors were to happen next. He could only guess as to what Sakura would unleash next. His eyes traveled to the bow upon her back, that one arrow flashing ominously in the remaining sunlight.
"Why do you hesitate to come at me now?" Sakura goaded. A light drizzle, more of a mist, began to flow around them. The lightening flashed more deadly in the sky, casting an orange glow upon Sakura's slender arms. They reached up behind her catching the bow and a single arrow.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed, he reared back again letting loose a haunting cry. Great hooves pounded in the slowly moistening earth barreling him forwards.
Sakura laughed, watching the fire that seemed to ignite underfoot as Sasuke went. She placed her arrow along the slim bow, pulling back with ease. The silver head pointed straight at Sasuke. Naruto sucked in a shuttered breath, mouth open ready to scream.
The arrow flew with a light ping before Naruto could do much of anything. He stopped mid stride, wondering when he had even bothered to begin moving. The damnable thing cut through the air finding its home in the back tendon of Sasuke's long legs. With his muzzle high in the air, Sasuke lost his footing to the pain, falling hard against the ground.
Naruto made to move towards him, but Sakura was quicker. Already pulling back another arrow. It was blatant to see she meant to make quick work of the unicorn, far too tired of chasing him to draw this out much longer. As Sasuke made to regain his footing, golden blood spurting from the wound, another arrow whizzed through the air, sinking deep into his shoulder bring him to graze his face on the gruff ground. His body hit with a great force and Sai, who had been standing by helpless screamed a string of curses at Sakura; his powers were better suited for the bedroom then the battlefield. Sai turned his head towards Naruto who screamed out as well, making his way towards the fallen animal.
Kakashi stood back with Hinata whose state was far calmer then would seem normal with the situation. The gray haired man fingered the collar round his neck, feeling its dead weight. His hands tensed when the neckpiece clicked then slid like a cold snake from his neck.
"You're free?" Hinata questioned. Kakashi said nothing, only rubbing at his bare neck feeling lighter than he had in many, many years.
"You're not going to stop him?" They both looked back towards the boy who was quickly making his way towards Sasuke. Sakura would not hesitate to cut him down if he were to get in her way. She was already standing no more that a few feet from the injured animal, sending her third arrow into the tendon that ran up his hocks. Sakura would be sure that he would no longer be able to stand, at least long enough for her to make the final blow.
Before Hinata could answer, Sai was already grabbing Naruto at the shoulder pulling the boy back into tight arms.
"Don't be stupid," Sai whispered. "Don't let his sacrifice go to waste by you getting yourself so recklessly killed."
"Let me go!" Naruto fought against what held him, his eyes spilling over with tears. "Sasuke!" He gasped out as another arrow sunk deep into the man, the unicorn, he had come to hold so close to his heart.
Sakura turned to look at the commotion being made to her left. The sight picked at her conscience, but she quickly quelled the feeling, pushing the guilt back. Red eyes bore into hers when she brought her gaze to look at her victim.
"Is that all the fight you have in you?" Sasuke glared back at her, or as much of a glare as a horse could give. Regardless she could see the spite and hate in his eyes, the red irises shinning brighter than ever before. The rain began to pour then, erratic drops falling in mixed intervals. They began to wash the blood away, turning it black where the rain hit. She watched it for a moment, the black bring her mind to the deadly arrow that awaited its fate.
"So be it then. Time to end this." Her hand batted her strawberry blond locks aside, her hair whirling in the wind. Fingers delicately sought out the item that would put an end to a life and to her own curse. In the background she heard the faint scuffling and yells of the blond accompanied by those that she did not both to put a face to. She was far to focused on the task at hand. Taking a step back, Sakura positioned the arrow, drawing it back and aiming straight for Sasuke's heart. She would make this quick for the sake of the suffering animal before her.
Her eyes closed as the arrow was released, not able to see those burning eyes dull as death came to sweep away the last of a species, and a legacy as old as time itself end right before her; by her own hands. She heard the pained neigh that left the animal's mouth and the startled cries behind her.
Finally opening her eyes, she was assaulted with breathtaking blue. "Na—Naruto" she breathed out in disbelief. Sasuke continued to scramble behind the blond, eyes wide in fear. Naruto coughed, blood spilling over his lips, a smile resting calmly on his face.
"I'm sorry." Sakura wasn't sure who it was meant for. Surely not for her. "I couldn't let you die for my sake." He sunk to his knees feeling a tingling warmth spread through his body making everything feel numb and dead. Death didn't scare him so much in that moment. Dying here seemed so much less painful then watching the beautiful creature behind him suffer any longer.
"Shit." Sai stopped next to Sakura, who was frozen is shock. The arrow seemed to have missed the heart, but it was in no better a place. "Maybe if we remove it..." His words faded off, no doubt trying to comfort Sasuke who had a wildness to his eyes.
"That would do no good." Sakura finally spoke, looking far ahead at nothing. No matter how ruthless she might had seemed against the boy, she had never meant for this to happen. "That arrow head was coated in Manticore venom. He has a minute or two at best."
Naruto shook with the might to stay upright on his knees. He tried to speak, to tell them it was all right. Nothing came forth, his lips not even flinching; forever stuck in that sickly calm smile. Blackness was already crawling into his vision. The chatter around him turned to white noise. He could only feel at this point, the warmth behind him that he knew to be Sasuke. It shifted once, and Naruto wanted to protest the loss. No longer could he see; his vision a united black void. He felt himself cough once, blood poured from between his lips. A jolt passed through him soon after, his body pushed forward from the force. Naruto's stomach burned, and he could feel a moist wetness soak through his shirt. As the darkness finally took him, he faintly allowed himself to acknowledge that he had been run through. With what? It didn't matter, death awaited.
Both Sakura and Sai jumped back, eyes wide as they watch the thick ebony horn pierce straight through Naruto's middle. It made a sickening squelch, blood flying in ribbons from the force. A warm thread hit Sakura's arm making her flinch. The rain, which had come in with more force, washed away the red in diluted streams. Her hands felt numb, dropping the bow before clenching them in fists. She looked towards the boy, being held up by the horn that skewered his body. For a moment, Sakura didn't understand what had possessed Sasuke to act so violently against someone he had cared for.
Sai though smiled, his panicked face smoothing over into one of relief. He watched as Naruto's body pulsed with a soft glow, which caused Sakura to suck in a quick breath. The horn in the boy's middle hummed, while it grew fainter with each pulsed beat. Naruto's body seemed to absorb the intrusion, attacking it like some foul disease.
Soon there was nothing left, Naruto falling with bruising force to the ground. Sasuke stood above him, looking far too much like a horse with a golden bloodied gash where his horn had once been. He shook like a dog freeing himself of some of the water and fairy tears that still clung to him. The rain washed whatever remained of the tears from his body, leaving him to feel less burdened.
"What." Sakura spoke. "I don't understand."
Sasuke allowed his body to twist, receding in upon itself. Soon a man stood in place of the horse, looking every bit as majestic. "I saved him." The words were dark and clipped, meant to tear into the one whom he was addressing. Wind blew his hair, causing it to stick to the stickiness that ran down his face. Sasuke walked forward limping as he went, arrows still protruding from his shoulder and legs. He paid Sakura little mind as he knelt to study the arrow that still stuck up from Naruto's chest. With a quick jerk he pulled, yanking with it tiny bits of flesh. The wound bleed for a moment before sizzling over to fully heal.
"I gave him my horn." Sasuke repeated, tossing the sullied arrow aside. It fizzed in the rain, before bursting into flames. When they resided only ash remained.
"But... you can't." A unicorns horn was the source of their power, their immortality. "Then you just..." Sakura couldn't finish her sentence. With the horn gone, so went her dreams. Her one chance of returning to her people had been taken from her, and by a human.
"Just a mortal horse... more or less." After all Sasuke still retained his fire and his ability to return to his human form. Something he was very happy for. "Looks like you caused your own failure." Sasuke added as an extra punch towards the woman.
Sakura's eyes flashed towards Naruto, she wanted so much to be mad at the boy. He had caused all of this. She made a step forward but was held back. She glared at Kakashi, trying to pull herself free.
"Leave them be."
Sakura sunk to the muddy ground, the rain running into her tears hiding them from the on lookers. She felt so helpless, everything was over for her. Kakashi came to her, encasing her into his arms. Sakura eagerly took the comfort she was given burying her face into the corner of the mans neck, breathing in his scent. His wet hair tickled at her face, but she couldn't bring herself to care.
Sasuke ignored the sight, not wanting to look upon the woman for longer then he need. Sai was already by his side tending to the arrows. As each on was removed he flinched at the pain, but otherwise made no sound of discomfort. The whole time his eyes were focused of the sleeping blond whom he had thrown everything away for. After more lifetimes than he could count, having the life of a mortal staring down upon him felt as if death was already at his doorstep. His body shook, but he would blame it on the remaining arrow being pulled from his body and not the fear that threatened to course forth.
No words were exchanged as Sai went to gather Naruto into his arms. Sasuke would have taken on the task, but his shoulder was still throbbing. He was thankful that they were making a quick retreat; nothing was left for them here. Sasuke wanted to leave Sakura far behind, never to see her again.
"Let's go." For once Sasuke didn't feel the need to argue with the succubus. With heavy eyes, Sasuke turned feeling a great relief wash over him. Despite his fears, he had Naruto, already everything looked just a little bit brighter.
Hinata watched them leave, her smile never leaving her face. The rain made a tangled mess of her raven locks, but she couldn't be bothered with caring. She was increasingly happy that she had decided to come and witness this encounter. Naruto's fortune had indeed come to pass in interesting ways. To think he would be the one to cause the disappearance of the last unicorn. Yet seeing Sasuke walking away with the blond made the end result so much more fulfilling to her. Everything seemed to have turned out for the better in the end. For the last unicorn walked away in mortal guise, his precious human in tow.
With one last glance towards the retreating threesome, she focused on the crumpled pair sitting amidst the rain. Hinata could only hope that fate would smile upon Sakura. Perhaps she could finally find peace in the ill hand she had been dealt. Kakashi seemed to be a perfect candidate to help her through this hard time, because even Sakura deserved some form of happiness.
A soft tapping jarred at Naruto's ears. His eyes scrunched; face burring deeper and deeper into the plush pillow beneath him. The smell of fresh clean linen ghosted to his nose, causing him to sniff and sneeze at the floral scent. Naruto's mind was clouded and he fought to grasp some memory that seemed to hang just out of reach. His head throbbed as if it would burst at any moment spilling out the contents. Even the muscles of Naruto's stomach felt sore and hot as if a tiny fire was being held below it. He shifted uncomfortably trying to easy his body back into relaxation. Sleep sounded so good, why had woken up to begin with?
Tap, tap, tap... That sound, it was the retched sound that seemed to drill its way into the very nerve endings of his brain. Each throb seemed to mimic the insistent tapping. The rhythm in itself was horribly familiar. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap and then a pause. Tap, tap. Naruto's eye began to twitch, his patience coming to a quick end. All he wanted was to go back to sleep and to lose this apparent hangover in his dreams. He didn't remember going out drinking last night, but that could be due to the alcohol.
The noise began to pick up pace as Naruto turned, light shinning at his face from some unknown source. He was reluctant to open his eyes, knowing quite well that he would never be able to get back to sleep once he had. Granted with this racket Naruto wasn't sure he was going to be able to get back to bed either way.
Tap, tap, tap, tap... Oh for the love of god! Naruto's eyes snapped open, his body going ridged with anger. He sat up quickly, turning towards the noise fully prepared to lay into whomever or whatever was making that fucking tapping.
Naruto blinked, his surroundings hitting him and making him falter for a moment. This wasn't his apartment, but that wasn't his home any more was it? He relaxed as he took in the familiar eclectic decorations of Sai's home. Tap, tap, tap...
Blue eyes snapped to the little heathen that sat happily perched in a goldfish bowl on the bedside table, long tube running out the back towards the stream that ran throughout the house.
"Suigetsu!" Naruto snapped, head spinning and throbbing. "Will you shut the hell up?"
Small fingers slowed their rhythmic tapping on the bowls edge. Suigetsu smiled what one would normally consider an apologetic smile, except somehow he made it seem mocking.
"I'm sorry. Did I wake you?"
Was he serious? "What do you think?" Naruto looked the koi up and down. "What are you doing here anyways?" He asked, head coming back down to lie on the mound of pillows.
"Waiting for you to wake up. You've been out for a few days. Was beginning to think you were going to stay out." Suigetsu grumbled, cluing to Naruto that the tapping had been more or less a ploy to end Naruto's sleep quicker. Damn fish.
He'd been out for days? That would surely explain why his body felt so heavy. His head felt as if it had begun to squeeze into itself as Naruto scourged for something that would tell him what had happened. Everything was jumbled, every memory tossed to a blender leaving nothing but a mess of confusion. One thing though stood out stark white against the rainbowed collage of memories, a burning pain; fierce and unforgiving.
Suigetsu looked down upon the boy, pity shinning through the mischievous glimmer. He had no doubt been through a lot, or so he gathered from what Sai had willingly told him. After hearing the tale, Suigetsu was slightly happy the he could not have gone. Something like that wasn't anything he wanted to bear witness too.
"I'll get Sasuke." The koi submerged himself, tail licking at the surface as he went. Naruto watched as he slipped through the clear tube, plopped into the stream, and disappeared into the house. He was soon left to himself, silence engulfing the room with the smart mouthed fish now gone.
The loneliness seemed to consume him, and Naruto wished that Sasuke would come quickly. Some part of him felt as if he had almost lost the other man, that part was screaming. Yelling at the top of its lungs, chanting only one name. 'Sasuke, Sasuke, Sasuke,' it said.
Naruto cocooned himself into the pillows and plush comforters in a hope to find some comfort in this endless empty void. He felt his heart race, each beat causing a strangled gasp to flee from parched lips.
Images flashed past his eyes, each one filled with so much blood and pain. Screams filtered through his mind, agonizing wails and clipped gasps. Naruto's eyes scrunched closed in hopes of willing away the memories that came back unbidden. His body shook and tears streamed down his face.
"St—stop... please... stop..," he gasped. The world around him began to spin and felt his stomach turn. He lurched forward, spilling his stomach onto the edge of the bed and onto the floor. Stomach acid burned his throat and mouth. He heaved, nothing coming but empty gasps. Each contraction racked through his frame, shoulders and stomach tense and aching.
He coughed once, sucking in air that his lungs burned for. The attack settled down and Naruto eased himself back down on the pillows. His body still shook, tears still tracking down his face. At this point, his head felt as if it would rip straight off his neck, stomach seeming to agree with the notion.
"Naruto!" Sasuke came into the room, shocked at the sight. He ran towards the bed, side stepping the vomit and coming to sit besides the convulsing blond.
Naruto was taken into strong arms, warmth entrapping him. His body stilled calming in the loving hold. Tears soaked through Sasuke's shirt turning it damp under Naruto's cheek. The pain seemed to fade, but not disappear. It stayed a faint hum, a small light in a dark cave.
"Are you alright?" Naruto nodded, drawing himself up closer towards the man.
"I died." Naruto remembered the feeling of floating, everything around him becoming unattached; the world fading. He could still see the blackness creep into his vision and his consciousness leave him for what he thought would be eternity.
"You did, to save me." Sasuke paused, smirk blossoming on his face. It had been many days since he had last donned it. "You're an idiot."
"But I'm alive," or was this some form of heaven?
"You are, I chose death to save you." The smirk grew into a smile at Naruto's confusion.
"You're alive?" It was a question; he was no longer sure what was real.
"I am, but I am dying." At this point Naruto looked close to tears again. Not wanting to have the boy crying again, Sasuke hurried to explain.
"You know what I am?"
Naruto smiled, a quick memory of a fantastic white horse came to mind, a unicorn standing proud and tall. Quickly the picture turned gruesome as snow colored hair was tainted with crimson red and he pulled himself from the memory. Naruto nodded, "You're pretty."
Sasuke tried not to let his eyebrow twitch at that. He wasn't pretty, majestic maybe or perhaps handsome, but not pretty. For now, he would let it slide.
"My horn was what Sakura was after." He pointed at his forehead and it was only then that Naruto noticed the finely wrapped gauze around the mans head. "It has magical properties... even one as great as to bring back a life."
Naruto's eyes widened. That's right, Sasuke had... "You Bastard! You ran me through with your horn!" He's finger was prodding Sasuke in the chest, emphasizing every word. It seemed as if the old Naruto was coming back with full force. "You had me dangling there like a piece of meat on a shish kabob."
"I saved your life dumbass." Sasuke flicked the boy on the forehead, pushing him back a little.
"Did it hurt?" Tanned fingers reached out, hesitant at first, towards the bandaged forehead. The warm appendages stroking the material and soothing the burn that had flared there for many days.
"Not too bad." Sasuke reassured, leaning forward into the touch. Naruto hand shot back, eyes growing wide, mind racing back to when Sasuke had come into the room.
"You're dying? You said..." Tears started to flow forth once again. Sasuke pushed into Naruto quieting him with a soft kiss to his temple.
"Yes, just as you are dying." He rushed to finish as he saw the panic flare in deep blue eyes. "Like any human I am slowly dying with each passing second. Time will take me just as it will take you. I gave my immortality to save you." Sasuke laughed kissing Naruto full on the lips, "Best damn trade I ever made."
"Thank you." Naruto smiled burring himself into Sasuke's warmth. Nothing more was said, nothing else was needed. The lull of silence passed over them as they held each other, neither ready to let go.