Renegade Ch: 27

Naruto and Sasuke were both sitting in the waiting room at the hospital. After Hinata and Sakura had gotten hurt, both left and followed to them to the hospital. Neither of them bothered to stay and see if they ended up having to fight again, bothered to wait to see if they were going to advance to finals. They just didn't care. While they weren't really concerned about the exams in general, the fact that they both dismissed them so quickly for the sake of their teammate and friend did bother them both. Neither of them had ever felt so concerned for someone else before, and it scared both of them.

They both knew that shit happened, that both Sakura and Hinata knew the risks when they signed up and went in to this. That they should have just accepted what happened and moved on. Check on them at the soonest possible moment sure, but to just outright abandon something like a chuunin exam? No, this was different. This was something that they both felt that they shouldn't be feeling.

None of this was being discussed between the two of them. There was nothing that needed to be said. They both knew that the other was thinking about the exact same thing, and neither were sure where to start. Finally, Sasuke broke.

"Fuck it." Sasuke declared, making eye contact with Naruto. "Naruto, things are changing, we are changing." Naruto just nodded in resignation. He knew it too, there was definitely something wrong with him. Doing what he did was stupid. He knew it, Sasuke knew it, and he found it hard to care. In fact, the more he thought about Neji, the angrier he got. And on top of that, something else that he hadn't felt in a long time was coming up because of it.

Sasuke knew it too. Sakura really wasn't even hurt all that bad. Sure she had been stabbed and beat up some, but she would live. He had seen her hurt plenty of times before, and this certainly wasn't her first time going to the hospital for treatment. Hell, he had put her here a few times himself. Still, this was different for some reason he couldn't explain. There was no real rational reason why he should feel this…concerned. They went in this half expecting to die for gods' sake!

For all of this, they still knew that Sasuke was right. A few months ago Naruto wouldn't have reacted that way. Sasuke wouldn't have thought or cared much at all about Sakura, but the fact was, Naruto did step in, Sasuke did care. Somewhere, they had changed, and they didn't even notice it.


Kakashi finally got a hold of Jiraiya, after so many years, he actually looked the same. He never would have known that he was in the village if Esibu hadn't given him the heads up, but Kakashi did not feel the way he thought he would.

For one, he felt no kind of joy what so ever in meeting Jiraiya again. In fact, he felt a healthy amount of rage. Here was the man who knew the most about people like Naruto in the world. Here was the man who could and should have been there to help and guide Naruto his whole life. Here was the man who was Naruto's Godfather. And as far as Kakashi felt, Jiraiya had no right to even see Naruto, ever. He owed him so much that Kakashi could barely see any way that he could even begin to see a way for Jiraiya to make up for all of it.

"Hello Kakashi, I trust that…" Jiraiya didn't get a chance to finish.

"What are you doing here Jiraiya? Why are you really here?" Kakashi practically demanded. He didn't even try to hide the distain his voice. Jiraiya for his part was able to hide his shock fairly well. He was many things, an open pervert among them. But while a great many people, woman especially, may not like or even despise him, everybody always remembered that he was a Sanin, and one of the most powerful men alive. As it were, Jiraiya only raised an eyebrow at him, and was surprised still when Kakashi did not lower his stare down.

"Remember who you're talking to Kakashi." Jiraiya stated in a firm tone, no mirth or humor in his voice. He was used to it, but for once Jiraiya felt truly disrespected. "Now, since we're old friends, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and let you explain yourself. Now tell me Kakashi, what exactly is it that's bothering you?

Kakashi took a deep breath. "Fine, are you planning on making any kind of contact with Naruto." Kakashi asked, obviously restraining myself. Though from what Jiraiya was starting to see.

At that last comment, Jiraiya did feel a little more than a little twinge of guilt. But like everything else in his life he shook it off, or at least that's what he told himself. Despite his still fearsome reputation, Jiraiya was an old man, and that meant regrets. Regrets of a lifetime of killing, lying, and loss. It came with the job, he knew it going into it, and he still knew it. When he was younger he dealt with it like a ninja should and was able to rationalize and accept it all. But one of the downsides of growing older is just that, growing older. He learned a long time ago from his own experiences that getting older did not mean becoming wise, only becoming increasingly tired. And Jiraiya was so very tired. Tired of all of the lies and deceit that didn't end up changing anything, tired of not having any real faith in anything or anyone anymore.

There was another underneath the underneath reason for ninja being forced into retirement, no matter what the circumstances or current hardships going on. And that was that retirement was the one true gift that could be given to those that had been fortunate, or unfortunate enough to survive that long. It was a chance, a small chance at true happiness. For it is said that peace is the enemy of memory. Jiraiya had far too many memories for any man to bear. However, that didn't mean that he could forget his shame. If he could go back for one thing, it would be Naruto. But he didn't, he abandoned him to his fate. Jiraiya being too ashamed and numb did the only other thing he could do; he lost himself in brothels, and committed the worst sin that one can commit in his opinion.

That was a lesson in becoming tired, the ability to sort through all the bullshit that was conflict and greed. When you see things clearly, you begin to see the simple things that could change so many lives for the better, but nobody did because it was easier and simpler not to. And this made even good people monsters. The sin that Jiraiya was so ashamed of was his conscious choice to lose himself to apathy towards his fellow man. And Jiraiya knew that that was what he did towards Naruto. And because of that, he grew numb to everything else he did, for how could anything top that sin? When he convinced someone to spy on their own country and feed him information eventually, unless there were other things in play, Jiraiya had to abandon them to their fate. But he could live with that, even if he used to feel guilty, it was done so that his loved ones were safe. But after everything else that he had done, what loved ones did he have left, who was left to claim as his own? The answer was simple, and another harsh truth, no one.

Kakashi did not have the experience that Jiraiya did, but he had been around long enough and done enough to grasp what he was seeing when he saw Jiraiya age fifty years in a few seconds. After all, he had done some bad things in ANBU, and he knew all about regret. And while not on the same level that Jiraiya, there was a time when he too had let everyone down in different ways that he had one to claim as his own. And with that thought, Kakashi had an epiphany.

'Who am I to deny Jiraiya? I have done some bad things, but I apparently still have some sort of right to take joy in seeing Naruto grow and start to become what he should have been. Or at least become happy. I think that I may be falling for a woman, what right do I have for that love? If can't give Jiraiya a chance, than I am just a hypocrite of the lowest sort.' Kakashi thought with certainty. And as he looked at Jiraiya in the eye, they knew each other.

Kakashi tossed Naruto's and team seven's complete dossier, he brought it with him in advance as he had already planned to give it to Jiraiya.

"You will train him, wait for the right moment, you will know when the right time is." Kakashi gave another thought, it still wasn't enough to leave Jiraiya with that simple understanding, and he had to know what Naruto meant to Kakashi. Kakashi loved Naruto far too much to let Jiraiya hurt him the way only he could. For if he actually got to know him, Naruto would learn that Jiraiya knew more about the 'group' of people that Naruto belonged to than anyone else alive, and he would learn the true extent of his crime, what Jiraiya could have done for him. And if Jiraiya abandoned him again, Kakashi wasn't sure that Naruto would ever be able to feel again.

As Kakashi turned his back to Jiraiya and started to walk away, he stopped and without looking back, spoke in a tone that could not be interpreted as anything else but a promise.

"if you abandon him again, or in any way really hurt Naruto. I'm going to make you kill me." Jiraiya accepted this as a fact, and wasn't sure that he would be able to force himself to not allow Kakashi to kill him, no matter what was on the line. For the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. So no matter what happened, eventually everything would balance itself out and return to the way things were to begin with.


Gaara looked at the moon once again in his life and pondered thoughts that he had never before been able to explore. This was due to one person, Naruto Uzumaki. Somehow, he had scared mother and allowed him to be alone with his thoughts.

'Are we friends?' Gaara asked the moon in his mind, taking advantage of the clarity that he knew would not last forever. It almost made sense; the moon was really the only thing in his life that didn't end up hurting him in some way. There was nothing else that didn't, not the world, not the village, not people, not his family. Sometimes the moon almost seemed to call to him, or something inside of him. He certainly enjoyed killing people more when the moon was out.

At first he pretended that it didn't bother him when he was younger. He faked smiles for a while, convinced that if he acted the way they wanted they would love him. Then he started to get desperate, trying very hard to figure out what exactly he was doing that was so wrong. Then he found out.

They hated him for being born. They hated his existence. There was no open scorn, they feared him too much. So they just pretended that he didn't exist, and that was so very much worse. No one wanting him, no one caring, no one even looking at him. There was a chance, a small chance that if he had anyone in his life that cared, that he would not have started to look for ways to prove he was actually alive. He should have died; he should have given up and withered away to nothing being ignored like he was. But Gaara was made of something they couldn't understand, they tried ever so hard to make him invisible and untouchable, they tried to break him. But Gaara simply could not be broken.

What proof was there that he did indeed exist? There was nothing, until he finally lashed out one day. He saw blood, he saw people look at him, and he saw fear. If he was alive before that, he didn't know it. Seeing the look that people were giving him, seeing the carnage, hearing the screams. It made him feel alive like he never thought possible.

Even still, there was a chance, a chance that someone could happen across him and recognize the grieving child that he was. Someone that could see the little boy that only wanted his mother underneath all of the blood. However, all of that was ruined when his 'mother' started to talk to him. He knew better, knew that she wasn't his real mother, he knew it all along. But if he didn't do what the voice told him, if he didn't talk back, the voice said it would leave him, and the thought of being alone when he was just starting to get a small look of what it felt like for someone to pay attention to you was unbearable. So Gaara consented, and felt what he thought was love for the first time in his life. He never knew love, so he assumed that this voice who thought it was his mother loved him. He didn't know any better.

As time went on, he finally started to get some regular reactions from people. He got the fear, and he got the hate. After he found out what it was that was actually talking to him, he wished he could feel pain the way others did. He considered stopping talking to Shikaku out of spite, but then he would have almost no other way to feel. If he could feel physical pain when the assassins came, it would actually help remind him that he was actually alive.

Eventually he made a decision. He decided that even if he hated Shikaku for the betrayal for pretending to love him that he would pretend that he didn't care. After all, when you are alone, you want someone to acknowledge you, even if you hate them, if only to not be alone anymore. Even though some part of him was hurting, the hurt was better than feeling nothing at all. And Gaara had learned from a young age that all emotion was precious, because as he forced himself to not feel, feeling nothing at all was so much worse, so he clung to any and all emotion that he could spare.

Without the Shikaku to interrupt him, Gaara found that it was rather easy to come up and recognize all of this in himself. It tends to happen when you have nothing to think on but yourself. And that brought him back to Naruto Uzumaki. He had no idea on what to do about him. Here was a person that could somehow relate to him, someone who Gaara just knew was like him, and yet this person was able to have what he had never been able to. He had a family, or at least the closest thing to it.

Gaara was jealous, he was confused, and he was scared. So he had to make a decision, what was he going to do? He could kill him, if he could. That would prove he was alive and end all of the problems relating him. But there was another part of him that had been buried for years that wanted to cry out for help. He was getting nowhere with all of this.

As Gaara sat and contemplated all of this, he noticed that someone was watching him, someone was going to start approaching him. Gaara aloud himself a small smile, he was going to feel alive tonight after all.

Gaara smoothly let all of his sand out and spread it out to slide in the tiles on the roof that he was sitting on. While he knew it would kind of give it away, he even used the sand that made up his gourd. In effect, that made him look defenseless, this in turn should raise suspicion in any decent shinobi. Then again, anyone that was looking to actually attack him probably knew about how much chakra he had used to defeat the green thing earlier in the day.

Gaara had taken no chances when dealing with him. If he gave him the opportunity to use a Genjutsu like he had, he was not sure if he would be able to defeat him. So, he had held almost nothing back from the beginning. The effect was that they had both ended up going all out very fast.

Any Jonin in the room was able to sense or estimate exactly how much chakra Gaara had used in order to both defend, and eventually crucify the green thing to the arena wall. The amount that he used was enormous. It wouldn't have been as much if he hadn't taken him so seriously, as the more chakra he put into the jutsu, the more effective it became. As it was, Gaara was happy he had taken him as seriously as he had.

However, all of this was irrelevant. While Gaara used an obscene amount of chakra, it only amounted up to a third of his overall reserves if he used Shikaku to aid him. So in effect, whomever was about to confront him was most likely under the impression that he was virtuously defenseless at the moment. That was fine with Gaara.

When the boy finally appeared, Gaara recognized him as one of Orochimaru disposable henchmen. He wasn't supposed to know that, but not being able to sleep left him with a lot of time on his hands, and he was curious to learn about someone who was so powerful.

His suspicions were only confirmed as the boy started to talk about wanting to fight the Uchiha heir to prove himself. Gaara quickly lost interest and stopped paying attention. So, being not so discrete, Gaara maneuvered the sand under the tiles to kill him. Gaara had a new idea that he wanted to test out.

He had gotten it by observing the sandstorms and massive tornadoes of sand that formed in the desert. He practiced on a bird once that he had caught unawares, but a ninja was made out of tougher stuff.

The mummified boy didn't realize what was happening until it was far too late. The sand had grabbed his feet in place, preventing him from moving. And before he could do anything to try and get out of it, sand quickly surrounded him and started to whirl around him. Gaara didn't have to wait long to see the results.

While all of this was going on, Gaara used another jutsu to form his Seeing Eye right above the boy so he could look down and actually see what was happening to the boy. Gaara was not disappointed.

At first the only thing that happened was his bandages and wrappings disintegrating, followed soon after by his metal braces that took a little longer to fall apart, after that, he was in direct contact with his flesh. Gaara watched in fascination from both angles as the boy was grounded down and torn apart like he was in a meat grinder. The screams alone sent shivers down his spine. What was also so interesting was watching as his whirlwind slowly turning crimson red. The effect was truly beautiful in under the full moonlight.


While Gaara was tearing apart and grinding the idiot sound shinobi into nothing, completely different things were going through Naruto and Sasuke's minds. After their quick epiphany, they just waited in comfortable silence for a while. That is until Kakashi came to wait with them.

He was just about to say something when a number of doctors and nurses burst into the room surrounding a gurney with a bloody green body on it. It took a moment for everyone to recognize who it actually was. This caused all three of them to involuntarily shutter at the memory of…whatever the hell that was.

Even still, Kakashi couldn't be helped but to worry about the boy. Despite their rather awkward interactions Kakashi and Gai were true friends, and that boy was something akin to a son to Gai. Naruto and Sasuke however had no such emotional bonds to him. They were just pleased that no matter what, they would hopefully not have to go through with that whole thing again for the foreseeable future.

As time went on, several other people came and went. Namely other ninja checking in on their friends and families. Some of them were actually classmates with Naruto and Sasuke, but they were kind of in their own world right now, and thus, a little bit dangerous. Whenever someone was going to approach them for whatever reason Kakashi subtlety interfered and got the message across that the two genin should be left alone for now at least. After a few moments consideration, they all left in agreement that this was probably for the best.

The ones that were of the older generation didn't need to be told at all though. One look at Naruto and it was clear what was happening. As veterans, they had all seen their fair share of monsters and such over their lives. But right now even a civilian could look at Naruto and tell he was dangerous in whatever state of mood he was in.

When Naruto had seen Hinata about to die, he should have gone white with rage, but he didn't. Instead, something worse happened. Kakashi had only seen his sensei in this strange 'mood' on two different occasions. Times he didn't care to think about anymore.

When most people raged, it's almost like part of their brains turned off. Or at least the part that was rational. With Naruto and Minato, it was a little different. While part of them did shut down, something else also woke up. The primitive animal side that is. Naruto was already there, Kakashi could tell. It was what he and the Hokage had worked so hard to suppress and keep at bay. It was why they allowed him to kill people as a child, to keep it in check.

Naruto's conscious that they had worked so hard to instill had shut down for the moment. It was just like when he was seven, the way he was looking around. Back when Naruto had needed to kill. But after so long of keeping in near constant contact with his team, and the intensive training, Kakashi and Sarutobi thought that they finally had a hold on it. But now it was back, you could see it in his eyes, like every other human was just a squirming animal that he wanted to tear apart. If Kakashi wasn't careful, Naruto would end up killing a lot of people tonight.


Sarutobi Hiruzen was surprisingly, at peace. For the first time in a long time was actually content and at peace with himself. This was not what he thought he would feel when his time came, but it was what he was feeling right now.

The aged Hokage knew that he was going to die, and most likely, there wasn't anything he could do about it. As truly gifted and powerful as he was, he was an old man. He always knew that one day he would face Orochimaru again, and that it would likely mean his doom. As the years went on he had begun to have doubts, but he always knew. He knew that when Orochimaru finally made his move, that he would do so with the certainty that he would die.

Knowing that his time had finally come, Sarutobi actually found himself…relieved. No more waiting, it was finally time to end all of this. After a lifetime of serving the village, the time had come to get his affairs in order. It was a surprisingly pleasant, though grim, process. Although occasionally, it was painful. When reviewing his will it was a rather painful reminder of how out of touch he was with his son. Now that he was at the end, it all seemed so insignificant. All the fights, all of the harsh words. Looking back so much of it was pointless.

With a sigh Sarutobi set it aside and picked up the updated form of the Bingo book. As he idilly flipped through it, he suddenly froze. Setting it down carefully as if to make sure that his sudden revelation would disappear if he made any sudden movements. He pulled out older bingo books filled with names and faces of people and monsters long forgotten.

For a moment he actually stopped and had yet another nostalgic and slightly depressing moment. Thinking about how casual everything like dismissing all of this was to the masses. So many names, so many stories, forgotten and never to be remembered. Then he remembered what he was doing.

After sitting there for almost a half hour, he finally relaxed. It wasn't that a weight had been lifted from him or anything, no; actually he had discovered another burden. Thankfully, it was not to be his own.

After a moment of thinking, he finally decided to call attention to the visitor who had been spying on him for the past two hours. Someone who was good enough to not be detected by ANBU, but not quite good enough to get by him. Or at least that was what he was hoping was true. It may have been possible that he was simply letting him think that he couldn't get by his attentions. For whatever reason, that didn't piss him off; he almost felt a kind of flattered. After all, people were supposed to respect their elders, right?

"Come take a look at this Jiraiya, I just figured out what the next generation is going to be famous for." Sarutobi said in a slightly louder tone than normal. There was a brief pause, and then Jiraiya came in through the window with grace that defied his age.

"We have things to talk about." Jiraiya said in a soft tone that conveyed a sense of bitterness, self loathing, and quiet wonder all in one. Naruto may have been able to say all of that with a newly invented facial expression, but Jiraiya could do it with a whisper apparently.

"Yes, I suppose we do. But before all of that starts I want you to know two things, the first is what I already said, and the second is that Orochimaru is back and I am going to die soon." The aged Hokage said with such perfect calmness that Jiraiya was momentarily taken aback at how casual it was said. As if Sarutobi was talking about a piece of furniture that he had tired of instead of proclaiming that his life was at an end.

For several moments Jiraiya said nothing, and then he just frowned. "Are you sure?" he asked carefully. Sarutobi just nodded.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. We found a few bodies that I suspect were his work, and Anko has confirmed it by actually meeting and having a quiet talk with him. It has been a long time coming I suppose. However, I am an old man, and since when has Orochimaru ever left anything to chance? No my old student, my time has come." Sarutobi said without any hint of fear. Jiraiya just kind of stood there for a moment processing all of this. And after a minute or two, he came to the same conclusion. Orochimaru wouldn't have revealed himself if he wasn't sure that whatever it was he was planning, was completely covered. Orochimaru hated Sarutobi, truly hated him, and if he was being this bold, then the old man really was as good as dead.

"I see." Jiraiya said slowly. He wanted to say more, but Sarutobi understood. With a sigh, Jiraiya sat down across from his old teacher. "So what did you discover?"

Sarutobi kind did a half smile and offered Jiraiya to take a look at about a dozen bingo books that had been laid open on his desk. Jiraiya went through them curiously looking for some sort of pattern while Sarutobi waited patiently. After about ten minutes, Jiraiya frowned.

"What does this mean?" he asked. While he saw the pattern, he was still unsure about what it meant. The aged Hokage just laughed. He would get to be teacher again if only for a little while.

"If you notice, there are almost no C or D ranked missing nins anymore. While they were plentiful during the wars and after, they are almost nonexistent now. However, there are just as many now as there have always been, the only difference is that they are stronger now than they have ever been. There are more A and S ranked criminals now than there have ever been, ever." Jiraiya's eyes widened, starting to put the pieces together.

"Every Hokage has done something great to ensure the villages survival. The first fought a war and founded the village. The second gave it a foundation to build upon and made sure it would survive. I did my part in the second war and ensured we survived and came up on top. And finally the Minato brought an end to the dozens of border wars that were seemingly endless as well as participating in the third great war." Sarutobi stopped momentarily to let it sink in.

"What this means," he said while using his hand to gesture at the books on his desk. "Is that the next generation and the next Hokage will have to deal with all of this. A new age is coming, or is already here. It is an age of monsters and titans roaming the world. It is a new kind of combat that I fear no one will know how to combat." At that Sarutobi sat back and watched the full measure of it land on Jiraiya, and was silently pleased that he could still have that effect on him.

Jiraiya just kind of sat silently and thought on it. And after a minute or two, he had to agree. He simply hadn't noticed the change. There were more outlaws in the last decade, and they were getting stronger every year. Eventually, there would be so many that the villages would be pushed back. With so many deserters from their elite going renegade, they would start to kill them off before they got too strong to avoid them disappearing. Of course, this would just start a chain reaction that would cause even more to desert. With the rate of bingo book entries, Jiraiya made an educated guess that such things would start happening within the next five to ten years.

"Wow, I guess our time of hero's is over." Jiraiya said in a strange tone that was laced with what sounded like regret. Sarutobi laughed.

"No, in fact, I think that the time of hero's is truly just arriving. We were all war heroes, but the new generation will make names for themselves on their own actions. We are just going to have to make sure that Konohagre at least doesn't make the same mistake that the other villages are bound to make. Jiraiya just nodded numbly, it was all a little too much for him right now.

Jiraiya cleared his head with a shake. "Anyway, I want to talk about Naruto." Sarutobi nodded with a sigh.

"Yes, things aren't well with him at the moment. I trust Kakashi can handle the situation well enough, but if you don't take an active role soon…things may get a little complicated." Sarutobi said with a hint of a warning.

Jiraiya couldn't help but agree. He had neglected his duties for far too long, and thus had let the situation get out of hand. If it wasn't for Kakashi, Naruto would be beyond his abilities to reel back in to humanity.


'I'm dead.' Was all Neji could think as he sat awake in the hospital. The wounds seemed so trivial now. He had always been a believer in fate, and it seemed that fate was telling him that it was time for him to die. The Byakugan was renowned as the 'eyes that saw only the truth'. Neji still had them activated when he was confronted by Naruto. He still was not sure about what he saw.

What he was sure of was that Naruto was going to kill him, that was a fact. Every fiber of his being told him to run from Naruto, told him to get as far away as possible. If that wasn't enough, Neji saw the truth in Naruto's eyes. His eyes weren't threatening, no, that would have implied that he could have gotten out of it somehow if he kept his head down. No, there was no 'or else' warning in his eyes. Naruto's eyes not only promised death, it was as if he were already dead. As if Naruto had already killed him and his body and brain had simply not caught on the fact yet.

Neji shook his head. Then, there was the red chakra, if it was even chakra at all that is. That was something else entirely. With Neji's gift, he had been able to see in all its glory exactly what happened, and while he didn't exactly understand it all, he knew that Naruto was not human. Not entirely anyway.

In any case, Naruto was going to kill him, he was sure of that. The fact that he was going to be fighting Naruto in a month's time just made sure that there would be an audience. Neji was a genius, of that he was sure. But he knew that there was really nothing he could do to stop him.

Neji had always been a firm believer in fate. It was how he had come to rationalize everything in his life. However, despite how awful he believed his lot in life to be, he had never been in a situation like this before. Sure, there was always a chance a main branch member could activate his curse seal and kill him, but this was a far different experience. This was the first time in his life where he actually felt, desperate. That in and of itself was terrifying.

So what was he going to do? What could he do? Could he prepare?

'Prepare for what?' Neji asked himself. Other than what he saw that day, he knew next to nothing about Naruto Uzumaki. That would have to change.


It had been a long time, but Sasuke still remembered the feeling. He honestly thought that fear was actually beyond him, that it literally wasn't possible for him to feel it anymore. After he watched his brother kill his clan, a part of him really did die that night, or at least parts of him. In any case, through cool logic he discovered that there was what seemed like pieces of his soul that were missing, just gone.

Sure, as time passed he appeared to recover. But you don't come back from something like that, ever. What was really happening was basically what Naruto did consciously as a child. His brain was simply trying to adapt to the way it knew he was supposed to react.

Of course, things were nowhere near ideal. Sasuke might have just passed off as a shy kid had he cared to try, but the fact was that he didn't care, about anything. At least not at first. What Sasuke did know was anger, and hate. It was the only solace he had, all that was left, all that Itachi couldn't take from him. So he held it close, and gave himself to the hate.

After he was on Naruto's team for a while, he discovered he could feel new things, or at least part of new things. When he laughed, it was because he was amused, but it was nothing more than a natural reaction to an emotion that was only a shadow of what it once was. That was all his reactions were an act. Facial movements and body language that were only really put on because deep down he thought that maybe if he faked it long enough, maybe there would be a chance to regain at least some of his humanity. It seemed like a worthy goal, or at least something that Kakashi would like.

It had taken a while, but he now knew that there was no going back, not that he cared a whole lot anyway. The only reason he even tried in the first place was because it seemed to put people at ease if he didn't act like there was nothing inside him. But it was still a surprise to feel something new for a change. At first it was for Sakura to his surprise. There was always something different about her, especially after they started training as a team.

Sasuke had thought it was simply not possible for him to feel concern for another human, which was proved mostly wrong back in wave. Even still, there wasn't anything that could truly tie him down. Then he saw Sakura dying. He didn't know what to make of it.

At first he simply didn't understand what he was feeling, and then he recognized it as some type of fear. He had seen her hurt many times, some of the time by him. Sometimes he even hurt her badly enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. But seeing her lying, pale, in a pool of her own blood. Seeing her look dead, did something that he still wasn't sure exactly what. What he did know was that he felt a deep sense of some type of fear or panic that he couldn't get rid of for some reason. At first, it partly amused him that seeing Sakura hurt could cause this reaction. But after so many hours, it was starting to piss him off. That was, until he started to take notice of Naruto.

While Sasuke had assumed that he had felt about all of the emotions that he would be capable of, he was proved wrong again. In all honesty, Naruto was truly scaring him right now.

Back in the academy, Naruto was a scary kid; a lot of people were and still are terrified of him. But what Sasuke understood now was that back then people actually had a legitimate cause to fear him. Sasuke never feared Naruto simply out of ignorance of what he was.

But Sasuke was different now, or at least he was smarter and perhaps a little wiser. He had seen more of the world, and seen the monsters that really did exist. Case and point being that fucked up family that raped the Hyuga girl. But what Sasuke saw in Naruto right now was truly scary.

Perhaps it was because he had been around Naruto long enough that he simply didn't notice the gradual and slight changes that had made him at least a bit more stable. But looking at him right now, it was like seeing Naruto when he first came to the academy, only insanely more dangerous, and lethal.

Sasuke was one of the few that truly knew what Naruto was capable of, and what he could be capable of in the future. The idea that it could be what he was seeing right now was truly terrifying.

In his quiet musing into his own thoughts Sasuke had failed to notice that people had sutibly started to leave the room to just him, Kakashi, and Naruto. And in a waiting room in an active and large hospital, that was really saying something. And Sasuke couldn't blame them either.

He was watching Naruto out of the corner of his eye now and he was seeing a side that he hadn't seen before, and that was saying something. Naruto had never cared to hide his thoughts to spare people their delicate sensibilities. But this was something else. Naruto looked for the most part, calm, collected, and lethal. He walked around with a cool and collected confidence that was intimidating. Like he knew he could kill them all, like they were already dead and were simply waiting for him to finish them off, or let them die.

Sasuke caught his eye for a moment. At that moment, he knew that Naruto would just as soon skin him alive as talk to him. Considering their friendship, this could be very bad indeed for anyone else.

Then there was the fact that Naruto looked…hungry, for lack of a better word. Sasuke at least recognized that look. It just meant that Naruto was eager and bloodthirsty right now. He wanted, maybe even needed to kill something, or someone. Normally, Naruto was in control, or at least he held himself back. This Naruto though, looked like he was considering disemboweling someone in broad daylight in the middle of a busy market because he wanted to hear people scream.

It hadn't really dawned on Sasuke how much Naruto had changed. It was subtle at best, but when he put thought into it, the change was nothing short of amazing.

Back in the academy, Naruto was different. Back then, Naruto looked a lot like he did right now. Not in the way of him being pushed in a new dimension of pissed off, but just in the way he looked at people. Hell, six months ago, Naruto looked at him differently. He looked at people like he always considering killing them. Not that all that much had changed, but back then it seemed like it was actually an option for him to decapitate someone because they gave him a dirty look. Now, while he certainly entertained the idea a lot. He knew that it wasn't worth it, or just an overreaction. Apparently, Hinata almost dying the way she had pushed Naruto back to the state he had been in when they hunted down, tortured, and killed that family of rapists.

Add in the fact that he was very angry, and you got an unstable possibly homicidal teenager that happened to actually know what he was doing. Sasuke was sure that if Naruto decided to go awall, he could probably make a good living as a serial killer in Konoha for at least a few months before someone tracked him down. Or at least that would have been the case if Kakashi wasn't involved.

As it was, Sasuke was also surprised at how much of an influence the man had had on all of them, Sakura included. They had all changed, or grown up depending on how you looked at it. Kakashi at the very least had put them in the position and given them all the means to change.

Now that Sasuke thought about it, he supposed that he should probably be a little pissed about being manipulated the way he had. He had not asked for any of this, but now he had it. And as much as he wanted to be mad, he couldn't bring himself to be. After all, hadn't he gotten what he wanted? It was because of Naruto and Sakura, and by extension Kakashi, that he was as strong as he was now.

On top of all of that, the relationship with his team was something that he still wasn't sure about, but it didn't seem to be all that bad. In fact, from what he could tell, Naruto was more of a brother to him than Itachi ever was. And while Sasuke still didn't know what to think or feel about that, he did know that he didn't like the way Naruto was now. Right now Naruto wasn't a brother to him, right now he wasn't even sure if he could trust Naruto as a teammate. And if something wasn't done soon, Naruto would probably have to be killed in order to stop him from killing innocent people. Or at the very least he would have to be sedated for a while.

Sasuke had spent so many years not caring about anything that he had forgotten what it was like. And even though he knew that he would never be what he was or what he could have been, it was still enough for him to know that he cared about Naruto enough to not like him how he was now. In short, Sasuke guessed that he just wanted his friend back. It was a scary feeling, to admit that to himself. He wasn't even sure for the reasons why he was afraid.

As Sasuke watched Naruto stalk back and forth in the waiting room, he began to actively think of ways to bring him back, before he did something stupid that would force him to do something even stupider. Like run away with Naruto. As completely retarded as it sounded, and much as Sasuke was sure that it would cripple his goals in the future, at least as far as he could tell, it seemed worth it. For some reason, the simple knowledge that Naruto, in his right mind at least, would do the same for him was enough. Sasuke couldn't explain it, but for whatever reason Naruto in trouble was all he needed to know.


I'm BACK! Sorry for the months of absence, but life got in the way. Ill just leave it at this. I work construction full time, it is hard work. On top of that, for some reason, I have made the brilliant decision to go back to school and get a degree. In all, this leaves me about an hour a night of free time, I'm tired. Anyway, that's what my life has been like.

Anyway, the story is still something that I want to do, but updates will be random, sorry. Also, I haven't read or watched the manga or anime for what seems like years now, so let me know if I'm going too far off base with this story. Thank you, and please review.