Hi! Happy 2013!
It's getting harder and harder to update, College life is busier than ever. Still, I hope you guys don't feel disappointed with this chapter.
I hope you like it!
血の涙 (Chi no namida)
Who are you without your memories? If you don't remember who you used to be, the people who you hated, the people who you loved… it's not you anymore.
Sakura couldn't take her eyes off Tsunade as she told them how Sasuke had been with Naruto all this time after being hit by an age regression Kinjutsu which also erased all his memory. The young medic-nin didn't say a word while her master explained that the Kinjutsu was irreversible and that Naruto had finally decided to raise the boy as his own son in secret, away from Konoha and his friends… to protect him.
"Bullshit!" Sakura yelled, her right fist crashing the nearby wall.
Tsunade didn't move, but her eyes were sad. "I know this is hard to hear, Sakura…"
"You don't know anything!" Sakura cried out, angry tears behind her green eyes. "You had no right to keep this from me! Naruto had no right to lie!"
The rest of the young ninja were as stunned by the revelation as Sakura was, but they didn't share her anger or outrage. How could they? Sasuke had been a traitor in their minds for far too long and he wasn't in their team. Only Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi had felt the full pain of his defection and descent to madness. Team 7 had been the one who fought and longed for his return and the one whose hearts had been crushed into pieces when they realized that Sasuke was never coming back as the teammate they loved but as someone else completely different wearing his face.
Just like he was now.
"Sakura… Please, try to understand Naruto's point of view. He just wanted to keep Sasuke-kun safe" Ino said softly, her gaze never leaving Sakura's furious face.
"You knew" the pink-haired young woman hissed, her fists trembling and hot tears streaming down her flushed face.
"Yes" the blonde Yamanaka answered, trying not to show how guilty she felt. "I… we found them by accident. We saw Naruto and… and Sasuke-kun. He was happy, Sakura. I had never seen Sasuke-kun happy before. Naruto just wanted to protect him from those who could hurt him, that was all."
"Hurt him? Was I one of those people, Ino? Did Naruto think that I could hurt Sasuke-kun? Was that why he kept me in the dark like I meant nothing?"
"No! Of course not! Naruto knows how you feel about Sasuke-kun. He wanted to protect you too…"
"I DON'T NEED TO BE PROTECTED!" Sakura yelled. "Naruto had no right to keep what happened to Sasuke-kun from me. He didn't have the right to tell me that Sasuke-kun was dead while he ran away with him! Who does he think he is?"
No one dared to answer Sakura, though both Hinata and Ino tried to comfort her. They stopped when the medic-nin glared at them.
"Naruto should have brought Sasuke-kun home… we could have tried to find a way to turn him back into normal."
"Sakura…" Tsunade whispered.
"Stop saying my name like that!" the young woman cried out. "Stop acting like I'm an idiot who doesn't understand a thing! I'm not an idiot!"
Tsunade's brown eyes widened before she nodded. "You're right. I'm sorry. No one thinks you're an idiot. It's just that Naruto thought the same way as you. He tried to find a way to turn Sasuke back, but when he found out that he couldn't, he learned how to live with the boy. He fell in love with him and he became his father. I know this is hard to hear, but his decision to raise Sasuke had nothing to do with you. Naruto did what he thought was best for Sasuke. He never meant to hurt you."
Sakura glared at the Hokage, trying as hard as she could not to break down in front of everyone. She walked towards Tsunade and kicked the metal door of the room open, before running out into the dark.
She heard her friends calling her name and Tsunade telling them to give her some space. Though her master had done what she wanted, Sakura didn't feel grateful. Not after Tsunade had lied to her all this years. How could she look at Sakura in the eyes all those times she went to her office, begging for news about Naruto, and not say anything?
It had nothing to do with you.
It had always been like that. No matter how many times she tried to convince herself otherwise, she always knew on the back of her mind that she was Team 7 weakest link. She was the helpless little girl who could never save the day, but needed rescuing all the damn time. No matter how hard she trained, she would never be on Naruto's or Sasuke's level. She always stayed behind.
She thought Naruto trusted her, but she had been dead wrong. Tsunade and the others could say whatever they thought, but it all came down to this. Naruto didn't trust her enough to tell her what happened to Sasuke, just like Sasuke didn't think of her when he left the village or when he tried to kill her twice.
Like Tsunade said, it had nothing to do with her. Naruto and Sasuke were all that mattered. Sakura was just a secondary, irritating character in the story of their lives.
Unsure of where she was, Sakura finally slowed down and leaned against a three. As soon as the first sob came out of her mouth, she finally broke.
Naruto's intentions had failed miserably, she was hurt. Hurt because of Naruto's betrayal, because she had been lied to and because, despite all that was said, Sasuke… her Sasuke was still gone. She didn't know who that boy that was living with Naruto was, but it wasn't the teammate she had fallen in love with.
Naruto had promised to bring Sasuke back so they all could be together again. In the end, Naruto had kept Sasuke to himself and any chance they had to turn back into what they were was lost with that decision.
Too tired to be angry, Sakura fell on her knees and hugged herself tight as if trying to prevent her heart from breaking anymore. She cried in the middle of the woods all night, her mind holding to the precious memories of the boy she loved and which she was the only one to keep.
In the next days, the islanders' lives slowly went back to normal. The damages were repaired, families got together, the samurai went on missions, the fishermen went finishing on their boats and the merchants reopened their stores.
Soon, the Islands were buzzing with life and activity as everyone tried to forget Nobunaga's curse. Still, there were things that no one should ever forget.
Sasuke made sure everyone knew about Muramasa-sama sacrifice and he even went to talk to Shigeru in person. The Sanada Family declared the deceased swordsmith a hero and arranged a proper funeral for him.
Muramasa's old house was burned in a solemn ceremony and a statue was built in its place, where people from every rank came to pay their respects to the kind man, leaving flowers and prayers.
Sasuke tried as hard as he could not to cry during the funeral. He and his father were on the front row, dressed entirely in black and holding a white lily to put on the statue's feet. The raven child had also brought his chokutō, Kizuna. It was the last sword Muramasa had worked on and Sasuke had never thanked him for his wonderful work or his help.
Naruto placed a warm hand on his son's shoulder when he saw the sword shake on his trembling hands. Before the funeral, the blond had told him that it was alright to cry and that Sasuke had nothing to be ashamed of. Muramasa had been proud of the way he had used his sword to save the islanders' lives. However, Sasuke didn't think it was enough; he wanted to thank the swordsmith.
"It's time" Naruto whispered, gently pushing Sasuke towards the statue. "You can do this."
With his eyes burning, Sasuke followed the old lady that known Muramasa for years and was responsible for the speech. Thankfully, Sasuke didn't have to make a speech. The old lady introduced him briefly to the huge crowd and told them about Muramasa's last sword, while the boy stood quietly by her side with his cheeks flushed and his eyes bright with unshed tears.
He saw Kakashi, Yamato and Sai on the row behind Naruto and he glanced at a very serious Riku on the other side. Then, Sasuke decided to keep staring at his father's blue eyes and remembered why he had fought so hard to end the Sleeping Curse. Tou-chan was fine now; he was safe because Muramasa-sama had helped him end the nightmare before dying with a smile on his face. The boy hoped he could be as brave.
Sasuke turned to the statue of the man he had known for only a few hours, kneeled and raised Kizuna in front of him.
"Thank you, Muramasa-sama" the boy said, looking at the statue's eyes. "I'll never forget you."
When the funeral ended, Sasuke held his father's hand as they walked slowly towards their home.
"Are you okay?" Naruto asked, staring at the child's tearful face.
Sasuke nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his other hand, which was still grasping Kizuna.
"I just… I wish I had said more" the boy muttered.
Naruto pulled his son closer and stroked his back. "You said what was in your heart, which was more than enough. I bet Muramasa-sama would agree with me."
The boy felt like crying again, so he buried his face on his Dad's shirt. He wished he could jump to his lap, but they were surrounded by too many people. Sasuke still had a reputation to keep and no self deserving, future ninja would cry on his father's shoulder like a baby.
Sasuke stiffened at the sound of the voice and he jumped away from his father only to glare at the silver-haired prick that was blocking their way.
"Riku!" Naruto said cheerfully. "It's good to see you!"
Sasuke glared at his smiling Dad. What was good about seeing that asshole?
"I wanted to talk to you again after you got your memories back" Riku answered with a smile of his own. "I'm glad you're alright, Nii-san."
"Nii-san?" Sasuke cried out, completely outraged.
"Thanks. I wanted to talk to you too" Naruto went on, ignoring Sasuke's furious stare. "I wanted to thank you for all that you've done and for helping Sasuke out."
Sasuke frowned and did his best not to pout, though he really felt like kicking Naruto.
"It was nothing. I'm just glad that you're alright" Riku said, secretly enjoying seeing Sasuke so mad. It was fun.
"What about you? Are things better at home?"
Riku blinked and he looked behind to where his father and grandmother were talking to some family friends. In the last few days, he and his father had talked more than in the last seven years. He had learned more about Hatori and he had even entered his bedroom and seen his photo album. It wasn't that all his jealously had suddenly disappeared but, at least, Riku didn't think he hated him anymore.
"It's getting better" the young Sanada said. "Thank you. See you soon, Nii-san and kick Sasuke's butt when he's rude!"
"What?" Sasuke yelled, but Riku turned around and ran towards his family while Naruto laughed like an idiot. "Stop laughing, usuratonkashi! What was he talking about? And why are you being so nice to that moron?"
Naruto patted his grumpy son in the head, still chuckling. "What? I like Riku. I think he's a gutsy kid."
"No, he's not! He's a stupid asshole who thinks he's better than me! You can't like him."
Naruto raised a blond eyebrow. "So… what are you saying? I can't like him because you don't like him?"
Sasuke opened his mouth but closed it immediately, blushing.
"That's it! You're jealous" the blond teased.
"No, I'm not!" the raven yelled, pouting all the way home.
Hours later, after eating dinner, Tsunade showed up at the house to take Kakashi and the others home. Naruto felt slightly sad, he was going to miss having them around in this big house. The bright side was that Kakashi and Sasuke were finally getting along and the Copy Ninja had already asked Naruto if he wanted him to help training Sasuke. The young man accepted the offer. Kakashi was the only one who could help Sasuke train his Sharingan and he wanted them to bond again.
"Naruto…" Tsunade whispered, her brown her serious but worried.
Getting the hint, the blond turned to his son. "Go brush your teeth, Sasuke. Baa-chan is going to check up on you upstairs."
The boy, who was helping Yamato wash the dishes, grimaced. "Again? But I'm fine, Tou-chan!"
"I want her to check your eyes" Naruto said. "They've been hurting, right? She's just going to see them."
"Oh… Fine" Sasuke answered, cleaning his wet hands. "See you guys later."
After Sasuke ran up the stairs, Naruto face his Hokage with a sad expression. "You told them."
"Yes. I told your comrades the truth last night."
Naruto nodded, knowing what was to come. "How is Sakura-chan?"
Tsunade sighed and rubbed her forehead. "She… didn't take it very well. She was very angry… and upset."
The blond looked down. It wasn't like he didn't expect it. He knew from the moment he adopted Sasuke that his actions were going to hurt Sakura, even though he was also trying to protect her from the heartbreak he went through. Naruto remembered those feelings of loss and disappointment too well.
Even though he would never change the past now, Naruto remembered how he tried so hard to find a way to revert Sasuke to normal, how he searched for the slightest sign that his best friend was still inside that gurgling baby and the sorrow he felt when he realized the Uchiha Sasuke he knew wasn't there anymore. It felt like his best friend had died.
How would Sakura feel? How would she deal with the fact that the young man she loved for years was gone?
"I never meant to hurt her" the blond shinobi said softly. "Not then, not ever."
"I know. We all know that, but I don't believe that matters to Sakura" Tsunade answered, crossing her arms over her chest. "She's angry because you didn't tell her sooner and because she believes that you didn't think enough of her to tell her the truth in the first place."
"That's not it! It wasn't like that at all!" Naruto shouted. "I wanted to protect my son and I didn't want to make her suffer."
"I know, that's what Ino and the others also tried to explain to her, but Sakura is too distraught right now."
Naruto sat on a chair and rubbed his forehead. He felt Kakashi move to his side and place a hand on his shoulder.
"Sakura will be fine. She just needs some time to think this through" his sensei said. "She'll come around."
Naruto nodded, though his chest felt crushed by guilt.
Sasuke had just finished brushing his teeth when his eyes started hurting again. He was pretty used to these eye aches, so he waited until the pain subsided so he could go to his room and dress his pajamas. However, this time the pain didn't stop and the itching was getting worse.
The boy groaned and rubbed his eyes with both hands, pleading mentally for the pain to go away. It felt like hours when he finally tried to wash his eyes with some water, to see if that would help.
Painfully, he opened his eyelids. His vision was so blurry that he couldn't even make out his face in the mirror and it was getting harder and harder to see.
"Dad… Dad!" Sasuke whimpered, feeling a tear run down his cheek into the white sink.
Except, when he glanced at the sink he saw something red. There was a red liquid dripping to the sink from his face. They were his tears. He was crying blood.
Sasuke slowly fell on his knees, sobbing and screaming at the same time. He barely heard the sound of hurried footsteps and he didn't see his father kneeling in front of him, with his blue eyes terrified at the sight of his bloodied face. The only thing he felt were his arms wrapped around him as he cried.
"What happened, Sasuke?" Naruto cried out, touching his son's face, looking for an injury. "Where does it hurt?"
Sasuke stared at Naruto, though his eyes hurt more than ever. He saw his Daddy's face blur until he only saw darkness.
"I'm blind… Daddy, I'm blind" the boy sobbed, before throwing himself into his father's arms and burying his blood-spattered face into his chest.
In the agonizing minutes that followed, Sasuke reluctantly let go of Naruto's shirt and Tsunade was finally able to wash the blood from his face and stop the hemorrhage from his eyes.
Crying desperately and refusing to let go of his father's hand, Sasuke told the Hokage about the occasional pain he felt in his eyes ever since he defeated Nobunaga. He asked if it had been his fault because he had used his Sharingan during the battle, but the medic-nin assured him that couldn't be the reason.
"Did something happen? Something strange?" Tsunade asked, but the child only cried harder. "Sasuke… I know you're scared, but I promise I'll do everything I can to help, okay? Please, try to think."
Sasuke sniffed and he felt Naruto's hand grab him harder. He wanted this to be a nightmare, it wasn't fair! He already went through so much. Why couldn't he be a normal kid? Why did he have to pay for being a bad person in his other life?
"Nothing happened! I fought, that's all! I think I was unconscious for a little while because I had a dream about a giant fox that talked, but I woke up fine!"
Tsunade and Naruto exchanged surprised glances before Naruto went to his subconscious to face Kurama.
"What did you do?" the blond hissed at his Tailed Beast.
"I didn't hurt the brat, if that's what you're implying" Kurama said, his voice filled with defiance. "You were dying and the kid was losing. If you both died, that would have been the end of all of us, so I gave him a bit of chakra."
"You sent him chakra? How is that possible?"
"I didn't know if it could be done. I tried to make contact with him, through your blood in his veins. It worked because I managed to send him enough chakra to make him win the fight. I had no idea it could blind him!"
Naruto nodded, but he didn't spare any more words on Kurama. Even though he knew the fox had saved his son's life, Naruto was currently too worried to thank him, let alone forget what the side effects could have caused him.
Back in the outside world, Naruto nodded at Tsunade and mouthed "Kurama did it."
"That explains it" the Hokage answered. "I was surprised because I felt your chakra and Sasuke's chakra boiling up inside both eyes. The transplant probably had some effect on it too."
Naruto's eyes widened, while Sasuke pulled his sleeve.
"What transplant? What are you talking about?" the boy asked. "Am I blind? Is that it? I'm never going to see again?"
"Easy" Tsunade whispered gently. "I told you I'm gonna do everything to make you better. You're lucky because I'm the best there is. So, please, try to stay calm. Can you do that, Sasuke? It will help."
Because he wanted to see again, because he was so scared and desperate, Sasuke nodded and went back into his Daddy's comforting embrace. He didn't need to see him, he knew that there was no safer place in the world right now.
Tsunade stared at the crying child before facing his terrified parent, who was staring at her with tearful, pleading eyes. She had seen that look on so many of her patients and their loved ones.
"Sasuke needs to be seen by expert medic-nins" she said. "We need to stabilize the chakra in his eyes and I can't do it in these Islands. We need a shinobi hospital."
Naruto blinked and his hands pulled Sasuke closer against his body. He knew what Tsunade meant and the risks it bore for everyone. But, one glance at his wounded baby and Naruto's doubts vanished.
"We'll go" Naruto said.
Five minutes later, the group landed on the Hokage's office. After seven years, Naruto had returned to Konoha with Sasuke.
Sakura was angry, but that was to be expected, right? I tried to put myself on the skin of the characters and I must admit I would feel very upset to be left aside like that. Sakura is focusing on her anger against Naruto before the reality over what happened to the Sasuke she knew finally sinks in.
Poor Sasuke-chan. He really can't get a break. Don't worry, it will be okay eventually. Also, they're in Konoha! I know I said he would come back when he was 10 and I'll stick with my word. You'll see!
I hope you liked it.
See you guys later!