The Autumn Sky

This is a one-shot story. I had to write this after reading Chapter 469 of Naruto. So enjoy.

Sakura, Kiba, Akamaru, Lee and Sai arrived in Kurogane No Kuni (Iron Country). The arriving group had found out that Naruto, Kakashi and Yamato were staying at an inn due to the falling snow. Sakura and company soon found the inn and found Naruto meditating outside in the snow. Sakura called out to him and told him that there was something she had to talk with him about. Naruto postponed his Sage meditation to hear what she and the group had to say. Needless to say, what Naruto and everyone else heard from Sakura caught them completely off guard.

"What…?!," Naruto stuttered, "What did you just say, Sakura-chan?! I think I misheard you…say it again."

"As I said I love you Naruto!," Sakura said, "I said I don't care about Sasuke-kun anymore! I was crazy to ever love him. Can't you at least listen when someone is pouring their heart out to you?!"

Naruto's expression gradually changed from surprised to a frown.

"…But why...?," Naruto asked, "Why...? If this is a joke, then this it's not funny, Sakura-chan. What the hell happened…?"

"Nothing…," Sakura replied, "I've just come to my senses. There's no use loving a missing-nin and a criminal. I'm not a child anymore. I'm just being realistic.

"So, Naruto…I don't need your promise anymore. You can stop chasing after Sasuke-kun."

Naruto gave no reply.

Yamato interjected, "What is this-"

Kakashi stopped him.

"Did something happened Sakura-chan? Why are you telling me this all of a suddenly…"

"It's nothing," Sakura said, "It's just clear why I fell for you."

Sai was silent as he watched the scene play out before him. Naruto though wasn't convinced one bit by Sakura's words as he recalled past moments where and when Sakura loved Sasuke, wanting his notice of her, wanting Naruto to bring him back to Konoha after his desertion and defect to Otogakure and stating she was going to do likewise in helping to bring Sasuke back.

A moment later Sakura hugged Naruto in front of everyone, however Naruto didn't return the embrace.

"…Sakura," Kakashi said, "…You…"

"Sasuke-kun just keeps getting further and further away from me," Sakura continued while holding Naruto in her embrace, "…But Naruto…You've always been at my side. You encouraged me. I've realized…who you really are. You're a hero who protected the village. Everyone in the villages loves you now…I'm one of them. Little by little you've grown from that no-good prankster to someone wonderful and heroic…And I watched it happened. But Sasuke-kun's crimes just keeps growing…and it just breaks my heart. He's becoming someone distant and unrecognizable."

Again Naruto gave Sakura no reply.

"But Naruto…," Sakura continued, "I can touch you…It brings me peace…from the bottom of my heart, I…"

Unable to take it anymore, Naruto pulled away from her and said, "Stop it, Sakura-chan. This isn't funny."

There was a brief moment of silence between the two of them.

"What are you upset about…?," Sakura smiled and asked, "I've just fallen for you instead of Sasuke-kun. They say a woman's heart is like the autumn sky, right?"

Holding her by the shoulders, Naruto replied as he looked her directly in the eyes, "I…hate people who lie to themselves!"

Sakura was speechless completely. Naruto's reactions to her wasn't at all what she expected, especially after telling him she loves him and wants to move on from Sasuke. She knew that the others agreed that Sasuke had to be dealt with soon, realizing that his actions were going to lead to more and bigger problems for Konoha. She believed that she was the one fitted to tell Naruto that with the added intent to get him to forgo all efforts to retrieve Sasuke. She also had the others agree not to say anything to Naruto and to let her handle matters with him. They evidently agreed, believing that Sakura, being Naruto's teammate, would have been the right person to use to sympathize with him about Sasuke and why things came down to why Sasuke had to be dealt with.

"Na-Naruto…," Sakura stuttered trying to come up with the best words she could say to him.

"I thought better of you than this," Naruto stated with disappointment ever so present in his voice, "I never thought you would have stoop to lying to yourself, especially to me."

Everyone was silent as Naruto continued.

"You were always interested and chasing after Sasuke since our days at the ninja academy, even after he left Konoha," Naruto brought up, "And a few days ago you had a complete meltdown after that Kumo ninja asked you what you were to Sasuke. And after all this, you're now saying that it's me you love and fell for and that you've gotten over Sasuke!? I don't find this funny and I don't appreciate you coming all the way out here trying to force yourself to love me while telling me that a woman's heart is like the autumn sky that can just change on a whim!"

Kiba wasn't happy at all with Sakura's approach to talking to Naruto about the matter concerning Sasuke. To Kiba, not only did it make Sakura look bad, but her reasons for now loving Naruto made Kiba think that to Sakura, Naruto was the rebound and silver medal after seeing that Sasuke was an absolute failure. Also, Kiba was very well aware of Hinata's strong affections for Naruto and he knew that Sakura was aware of that truth also for years. If anything, it made Kiba look at Sakura as someone who was not only completely shallow, but someone that gave little regards to the feelings of both his teammate and Naruto's.

Lee, caught off guard like everyone else, was both confused and saddened by Sakura's display. He had always liked Sakura as though she was an angel and he considered himself a rival to Naruto for her affections. The scene he saw before him left him distraught and uncertain about how future events were going to play out.

Sai remained neutral as he stood there and observed quietly what was happening in front of him and everyone else.

Yamato, while watching the scene play out, recalled the event when Naruto went four-tails and injured Sakura. Despite that, Yamato saw the deep concern Sakura had for Naruto while she was healing him after he managed to neutralize his four-tailed state. Seeing the way she was acting, he figured that Sakura cared for Naruto more than just as teammate. He wanted to go into details with her about it but he never got the opportunity to do so at that moment nor at any other later moments. Sakura's chosen words and method of confessing to Naruto wasn't at all something Yamato approved of. In fact, he heavily frowned on it.

Kakashi, being the sensei of both Naruto and Sakura, knew how much Naruto liked Sakura during their Genin days. He also saw how both of his two loyal students grew and matured over time. He was also aware of Sakura's affections and interest in Sasuke and Naruto's long time attempts to woo and win Sakura's feelings. Sakura's sudden confession to Naruto left Kakashi wanting to know how things were going to play out. It was even more so considering that her impulsive wanting to be with Naruto now and not Sasuke seemed to have come from the left field.

A moment later, Naruto released his hold on Sakura and lowered his arms to his sides. After taking a breath, Naruto decided to speak again.

"Days earlier when Pein attacked Konoha," Naruto revealed, "Hinata appeared and battled Pein-"

"We know," Sakura interjected, "And it was also her actions that led to you going six-tails and nearly nine-tails. She was totally reckless that time."

"You call it reckless," Naruto retorted, "But I say it was the bravest, most selfless act I've ever seen. She came to rescue me after Pein had me immobilized and pinned to the ground. She knew she had no real chance surviving a fight against someone like him, even before I warned her of the dangers and for her to get away. Yet she still chose to stand and risk her life for my sake. And yes Sakura-chan, I can listen when someone is pouring their heart out to me."

Naruto didn't give Sakura or anyone else time so say anything as he went on, "During that same moment, Hinata poured out her heart to me with just a few words that touched me on levels I never experienced in my whole life. With just a few words, Sakura-chan, she made me see how I've done so much for her.

"She was always chasing after me, wanting to overtake me. She wanted to walk with me, she wanted to be with me. I was completely oblivious about her feelings because of my ignorance and naïvety. Hinata told me that I changed her and that my smile saved her, which was why she wasn't afraid to die protecting me. But most importantly, she said that it was because she loves me. She loves me for me, she always have, since we were kids but I was too blind to see it. Her feelings for me wasn't something that just happened so suddenly or changed like the autumn sky. She had no reason to lie to herself about me at all.

"I was the dead last no one liked and I was always mocked and looked down on. Even you considered me an unwanted obstacle between you and Sasuke, Sakura-chan, and you often hit me or ignored me whenever I tried to gain any romantic attention from you."

Sakura visibly flinched, being reminded of her past mistakes.

"And yet despite my low status in both the village and the academy, I was the one Hinata always had eyes on and the one whom she grew very fond of. I was a fool back then to have never noticed her and I have much regrets about it. Perhaps things between us might have been a lot different had I paid Hinata more attention."

"Naruto," Sakura said pleadingly, "I know I've made a lot of mistakes in the past and recently. I know I've hurt you in many ways and that promise I had you make to me to get Sasuke-kun back was one of the biggest burdens I've ever placed on you. I just want to free you from it. I want to make things right and-"

"Sakura-chan," Naruto cut her off, "I also have my own reasons why I'm seeking to get Sasuke back and you're here trying to convince both yourself and me that you want to be with me and forget about Sasuke all of a sudden. I don't want to be with a dishonest girl who's only seeking to be with me because her feelings for me were forced. It's not fair to me at all having a girlfriend whose affections for me aren't truly genuine and sincere from her heart and soul.

"Hinata's confession and selflessness left with me a lot that I have to think about and I have to give myself some time to sort out my own feelings about all this. I want to come to a decision that's both honest and whole-heartedly sincere to me, Hinata and you, Sakura-chan; because my heart isn't like the autumn sky."

And there you have it folks. I know this small one shot isn't one of my best works, but it was something I had to get out my system. I know Kishimoto will definitely have something very different from this piece of fiction. Nevertheless, feel free to tell me what you think.