I accidentally deleted this one when in fact I was supposed to delete another fiction so I re-posted it. At the same time, I made some grammatical errors which I now have corrected.
Hope you enjoy this one.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Simple.
The sun is already setting down, its red rays seeping into the dull, grey evening sky as rains started to fall down heavily. Everywhere you look around, you find every shinobi attending to all the casualties of the long-drawn battle between Akatsuki and Konoha.
This battle would be marked as one of the most vicious and brutal battle that ever happened in the history of Konoha. Many lives were sacrificed in the name of peace and justice…many souls were torn by the death of their close friends, of their family…
Yet no one can compare to how a few number of Shinobi were feeling at the moment as Naruto despite his heavy injury held his friend close to him, as the latter struggled against death.
"Damn it, Sasuke!" Naruto cried to his fallen friend as his eyes tried to search any medical ninja who is available to heal. Where is Sakura? Where is the Godaime? Why are they not around? Where is everybody?
His eyes continued to scan the surrounding in desperation, not minding about his wounds. Damn Sasuke for getting that hit for him. Just doing that brought a memory of three years ago in the Mist Village when Sasuke tried to protect him from Haku.
"Naruto," he turned back to find his sensei with a bleeding shoulder and a limping foot.
"Kakashi-sensei! Help me bring Sasuke to a medical ninja…where is Sakura?" he asked, his eyes showing all he felt inside. "Damn it Sasuke, fight it will you!"
Said ninja stirred and opened his eyes which are still red…like the crimson eyes of his older brother…Sasuke opened his mouth to speak but Kakashi gently shook his head. He knew Naruto is in no condition to move around as well so it would be up to him to carry both men.
A memory flashed in his mind…it was the memory of himself carrying Naruto from the Valley of the Ends after his match with Sasuke. Back then, he only carried one body back and failed to get the other…this time, he has two of them to carry…his mind not wanting to give up on any of them as well…
"Hang on, I'll carry you both," he said casually and winced a little at the jolt of pain.
"N-No," Sasuke refused as he tried to speak in a steady voice, his eyes staring right ahead.
"Let it go now Sasuke," Kakashi spoke softly. "Let go of that hatred, let me help you."
Kakashi was not aware that he choked out the words. He was not aware that he was being overcome by an overwhelming emotion at the sight of his former student who is now resting on his lap while Naruto tried so hard to sit up.
What shocked Kakashi were the tears streaming down Sasuke's face as he tried to talk once again.
"I-I'm so sorry," he finally said in a croaky voice as his hands balled into fist, as his mouth splattered blood yet he was unmindful about it.
"Sasuke…don't die okay?" Naruto tried to speak as lively as he could despite the pain.
Kakashi turned to see Sasuke's new team, the two men, Suigetsu and Juugo as they hurried towards their leader. They were as injured as the rest of them though.
"I'm so sorry," Sasuke repeated again as his shoulders began to shake and Kakashi had to hold him down to prevent his wounds from opening.
"It's all over Sasuke. You can start all over again," he said reassuringly while his former student made an effort to clutch Kakashi's sleeves in fistful.
"Sasuke, teme, don't mind it. We forgive you Sasuke, we understood you," Naruto spoke amidst the sound of the heavy rain as Juugo and Suigetsu sat beside their leader, not believing the fact that he is starting to lose his life.
"Juugo, where is Karin?" Suigetsu asked as he stood up to find the redhead. They needed her. He needed her right now.
"M-My b-brother's remains…" Sasuke began to talk while his eyes continued to stare right ahead…his eyes which have gone blind already by the last use of Sharingan… "Juugo…you know what to do."
"Yes. Don't worry, I have not forgotten it. Just hang on a little. Suigetsu went to find Karin."
A small smile curved his lips, a smile of regret, a smile of pain, a smile of gratitude. "I have always wanted to apologize…Kakashi-sensei…Naruto."
Naruto for the life of him had never been so speechless. He was supposed to be the cantankerous ninja of Konoha…
Yet as he tried to fight the pain, he could only stare at his fallen friend as he started succumbing to the call of death.
"A-And to Sakura…I-I did you wrong and there is no way to atone for that," he continued as the men gathered could not help but shed tears. It was a confession from a dying man…
"I should have listened but I let hate rule me over," Sasuke pressed on, not realizing that his every effort to speak out also means he is starting to shorten his life span even more.
"You've always been the best friend I look up to Sasuke," Naruto finally sat down and looked at his lying friend. "You have always been in front, I have always been chasing you around."
"Ah…it brings back memories…"
His voice was wistful when he said those and all he could remember is the times he was on Team 7…the laughs…the rivalry…the mischief…
He all buried those memories deep down, not wanting it to resurface again when he joined Akatsuki. But on Madara's last attempt to hold down Naruto, the scene became an epiphany for him. In that instant moment, he chose to save a…friend…
His best friend for that matter…
And chose to die for him…if only to atone a little for what trouble he had caused them all…
"I still remember how we tried so hard to find out what was behind Kakashi's mask," Sasuke said with a smile, his blinded eyes were seeing no one except the very image of his brother, yet his ears were clear on his surroundings…
Itachi was standing not a distance away, looking at him with his crimson eyes…
Then behind him stood all of his family, watching him…
Sasuke knew his time has come…they are already calling for him…they have come for him…
"P-Please let m-my nakama go," Sasuke murmured close to Kakashi who understood what he meant. They are still rogue ninjas to begin with despite their help in the battle…they still have injured a lot…and there was no saying that they would go unpunished…
But Sasuke…he is pleading for them…Uchiha Sasuke never pleads…it only shows how Sasuke cared for his newfound team as well as he cared for his former team.
Kakashi merely nodded as he screwed his eyes shut. Damn it. He had never cried in his entire life before. Or maybe he did but never this way…it felt so painful that all he could do is watch his former student slowly go…
Sakura came rushing in a few seconds later, injured as well. She was told by Neji that they were all here and so ignoring her injuries, she rushed out despite the protest of the other medics. They just could not understand. She watched the battle between Naruto, Sasuke and Madara. She saw the shock that rippled Naruto's face when Sasuke stood between him and Madara.
That was all she could remember before she was knocked out by someone.
"Quick Sakura!" Naruto's voice hitched at the sight of his other teammate as she tried to run towards them at such a fast pace.
Again, a wistful smile curved Sasuke's lips upon recognizing the voice. "Ah…Sakura…y-you're here as well."
"Hush. We can all talk later. Hang on a little, I'm going to heal you," Sakura said firmly, not wanting her voice to break as well. It was enough to see Naruto looking so beat up to know that something is not right.
"Let me help too," Karin spoke from behind as she winced in pain. Everyone really fought a hard battle. Akatsuki in its entirety is a small group yet each member proved to be disastrous and formidable.
"Karin, are you well?" Sasuke asked instead, his voice of concern for another nakama.
"Y-Yes. I'm just a little beat up but I'm alright," Karin nodded and extended her hand. "Here. Bite my hand. I'll transfer some of my chakra."
Sasuke's hand moved but did not catch Karin's hand. Sakura and the others glanced at each other in confusion.
"Oi Sasuke, take it," Naruto said a little harshly because his friend is a little bit stubborn now.
"Sasuke…?" Juugo muttered the name and laid down his hands on him. Kakashi sighed.
"He's gone blind."
"But – "
"It was a side effect of using Mangekyu."
Karin nodded and cupped Sasuke's face before offering her hands once again. "Come on now Sasuke. You have to bite. You can't die yet."
"You're too tired and your chakra is not enough. Save it for the others Karin," Sasuke said. It felt odd that he was surrounded by the people he came close to call his family now. His former team and his newfound team…all gathered together as they tried to revive him. From a little distance the other Rookie Nine were watching, wanting to go there and talk to him for the last time. They may never been that close but they were part of the teams who considered Sasuke as a comrade and so they were part of those who went after him…who searched for him…
"I-I'm so sorry…" he spoke those words again and this time it was as if he was saying those words not only to them but to someone else. His breathing had become shallow. There is no question that he is indeed dying. Kakashi knew it. The group knew it.
Sakura had no time to wipe her tears as she began to heal him, her every tear drops falling down his face. Kakashi's eyes watered at the sight while Naruto held Sasuke's hand.
"Sasuke, I apologize…" Kakashi spoke this time, feeling the need to talk to him more. "I failed to protect you and it hurts for a warrior and a teacher like me to lose one of my students to the enemy. If only I had been stronger then you would not have to know about Itachi coming here…"
"Ah…I-I killed my brother who a-always protected me," Sasuke said with a tone of regret, his shoulders shaking once more as he tried to suppress the tears…the emotions…
"I-It was comforting to know that at least…y-you're still here," he continued and his voice sounded tired and small. "It's over now. Naruto, you'll become a Hokage, right?"
He closed his deep-set eyes, the crimson color now faded and blurred. After a long while, he spoke again.
"Naruto, you better become the one you always wanted. Sakura, you also did great. Karin, Juugo, Suigetsu…don't let yourself fall back in the same pit of darkness…live a life…a life where you're free. Live a decent life as much as possible…enjoy whatever chance of happiness you could get…don't tread on the same path I did…Kakashi…sensei…t-thank you so much…for everything you taught me although I did not heed all of it…" he finally addressed his teacher with the title he deserved…
He seemed to drift away for a moment and Naruto and Kakashi held his hand tightly as if to keep him from going while Sakura continued to heal him as Karin screwed her eyes shut, knowing she cannot do anything because he refused her help. Juugo's face was impassive while Suigetsu looked away.
"I've always wondered if I would see them at my own passing. They came." He lay quietly for a long time while after that, barely breathing but holding tightly to their hands that lay at his side. They all stared at his pale face, his mouth seemed pinched and drawn. And they somehow knew that he was sinking relentless to the sleep of death. His eyes had already fallen shut as his face was tranquil.
A shadow of a smile flickered his wondrous face and he started up on ground as if making a great effort to reach out someone he alone could probably see. Sasuke pulled his hand from their grasp and clasped widely at the air as if at an unseen hand. He whispered something.
Then he was gone. There was no need to tell them that he was dead as they all watched him go. Sakura's horrified face turned into a sorrowful one while Naruto remained shock still, his brain muddled yet as if unable still to register what just went through. Karin bent down to kiss his forehead and let her tears fall down on his face, running through it as it mixed with the rain.
Sakura took Sasuke's hand into hers, touching it to her lips, wet with tears, in a gesture of infinite tenderness.
Then finally when Naruto came into terms he let out a wild cry of grief and sorrow as he stared upwards just as the powerful force that was Sasuke's had vanished.
Those who were just nearby gathered in a whispering gaggle, fearful of coming too close. Kakashi stood up and picked the body of the boy who had grown so much than the last time he saw him, the boy he tried to protect from the clutches of temptation yet failed, the boy who in his last breath was smiling as surrounded by the few people who understood him, his pain…
The ANBU had closed in on Suigetsu, Juugo and Karin who were suddenly feeling so weak to fight back, their minds trying to adjust to the fact that the person who freed them from Orochimaru, the person who wanted them for something at first, the person whom they watched fight Kirabi, the person who never wanted any more power than what he already had…the person who became their friend as well…had passed with a smile.
"Leave them alone!" Naruto's voice was loud enough to be heard around the clearing. "Leave them be!"
"Don't be absurd Naruto, they're enemies as well," one of the ANBU spoke tersely.
"Leave them alone," Kakashi spoke as well, his voice was clear and defined, his eyes not on them but at the peaceful face of his student.
"Uchiha is dead. The three are the only ones left from Akatsuki," another argued not believing the fact that they were protecting some criminals who aided Uchiha Sasuke in his madness.
"Naruto," Sakura closed in to her comrade and wrapped her arms around his neck as they both cried for their loss. Karin was just sitting there, staring blankly at the sky so Juugo knelt down to pat her on the shoulder.
"I failed Sakura. I failed," Naruto cried out in agony. "I told Itachi I will help him without killing him. I failed on that."
Gently, Sakura felt the need to be stronger emotionally as she now cradled Naruto close to her, like a mother does to her child.
"We all failed neh…it was painful…that our reunion would be this way."
When after a moment later, Naruto passed out due to injuries and fatigue, Sakura finally cried on her own, releasing her own grief and pain as she cried out uselessly to the one above. It was really odd that enemies had turned on each other for comfort at that point in time when Karin offered her shoulder for Sakura to cry on.
The following month, Karin and her two teammates decided to pay a visit to their fallen leader one last time before they depart on whatever journey that awaits them now that he was gone. In all honesty, they had no idea as to where they should go…and to what waits for them…
It was Kakashi who had insisted on the Hokage to let them stay a little longer on the village, to mourn for him who went away.
They found Sasuke's former team sitting beside the monument as if talking to the unseen.
"Karin, Juugo, Suigetsu…" Kakashi acknowledged them with a nod while Naruto and Sakura smiled warmly at them which shook them still. Acceptance from them was one thing they never expected but guess it just shows how they deeply cared for their rogue friend.
"We came to say goodbye to him," Karin spoke quietly and blinked. Every time she thinks about it, she still could not help but shed her tears for him.
"Where would you go?" Kakashi asked and patted the ground as if to motion them to sit together with the three where they could feel his lingering presence beside that of his brother's. Sasuke's last wish from Juugo was to have his brother's remains moved to Konoha and buried in the Uchiha estate.
"Somewhere…to find life…to search for it…what he had been chasing was the life back you know, but he does not know how," Juugo spoke for them. It had been Juugo who was mature enough to understand Sasuke better than Suigetsu and Karin. "I guess deep inside his heart, he denied that he missed you all, that he wanted to take the road back. However, it was impossible for him knowing he defected the village to seek out an enemy who killed your Third Hokage."
Naruto's eyes still mirrored everyone's feeling as he glanced at the two monuments that stood just beside them.
Departed on the 30th of January.
Where your treasure lies, there will your heart be also…
Departed on the 20th of May.
For years I have been mourning and not for my dead, it is for this boy for whatever corner in my heart died when his childhood slid out of my arms.
That line was specifically chosen by Kakashi who felt regretful at the loss.
These stones were reared and devoted as feeble tribute to two lost souls who had found their way back…to two souls who were brothers, great shinobi and great friend…
"The only way to untangle ourselves from him is to move away, to untangle the threads of our lives gently from his, not in rejection but in infinite love and remembrance," Juugo continued.
They all knew they do not begrudge his rest. Who better than them knew the turbulent rigors of his life…of the loneliness, the sorrows and the hatred…
They are also sure Sasuke is now with those he loved…his family and most of all his brother…the very person who molded him into someone…the person who taught him in a different way how to survive…
Somehow in a way, they felt happy for him…for he was reunited with those he had lost for a time…the loss which forever changed his life…
"Will all of you be alright in your journey? The Hokage is offering you jobs," Sakura spoke and eyed Karin. Like her, they both loved and adored and lost the same man…it was the loss that brought them closer…
"Yes. We should be," Karin nodded. This time, they would go and make their own path as well as the three others here…they suddenly felt freed of the ghost of him…willing to let him have his place in their past and not begrudging them the lessons that were now his legacy…knowing that to be a Ninja is to protect a nakama…it was his way of being a ninja…
He protected them all against Madara when in fact he could have easily crushed Naruto and Konoha with his ancestor…in the end, it was the goodness that prevailed…it was the bond that overcame the hatred and anger…
They spoke for a little while before the three left Kakashi, Sakura and Naruto. Now they have left to begin their journey, their farewell to him…their search for a new life…they knew as it began that it was what Sasuke would have wished them to do…after all he spoke about it in his last breath…
...uhm...was it alright? Please share me your thoughts on this...Review would be appreciated very much...I apologize for Sasuke fans if he ended up dead but it is something to be expected anyway altough I would admit I like his character and to be honest, I would surely hope his turning point would be when he meets up with his former team...
To be honest, during the reunion where Yamato took over for Kakashi and Sai was added...I think it would ave made a difference if it was Kakashi who was there when they saw Sasuke after three years or so...
Again a review would be highly appreciated...