Title: Serenity
by: xmarksthespot
disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me. And I had gotten the idea of this story while reading Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It's a really good book, I recommend it.

A/N: I don't mean to offend any religious beliefs by having this take place in Heaven/Hell. For pure entertainment purposes only.
P.S. If you squint, you can tell that this story mirrors the manga, in a way. Well, for the first half, at least. The second half is made up cause the manga hasn't really ended. Ask me if you don't see it though, and I'll give you an explanation. :)


She smiles giddily, prancing around on the grassy terrain, as if the weeds and tree stumps were stunningly beautiful golden gates that hovered over a clouded surface. Her fairytale pink hair sways with the breeze along with her empire waist, white gown. She looks directly at you.

Where am I?

She responds very carefully: You're in heaven. She muses at your perplex expression, but decides to skip away anyway.

Why? You ask again, unsure if your lips actually moved – she doesn't say anything. Instead, a pair of dirty feet hop onto the railing of the familiar old bridge; it is painted red, just like the tint of her cheeks.

You know you shouldn't worry, but you follow her. You force foreign words to come out of your mouth, be careful, get off of there, but nothing is audible. Your bloody arms extend, reaching out for the pure ones that glide through the wind – it looks like she wants to fly.

She avoids your hands, and continues to face forward. She doesn't turn around, doesn't speak. Rather, her right foot is pointed out, while her left foot is on its toes. The wind gently tugs her body, as she leans to the side.

You want to say her name, but you hesitate. Your lips are tainted, your actions are vile, and you are aware that her name is too angelic to be called out by you. The slight breeze somehow pushes you toward her, and you stumble on your steps.

Suddenly, her body pivots, and you hear her voice.

You mean, why are you here? She smiles warmly, giggling after that. The ruffles of her dress are played by slender fingers, and are lifted when she unexpectedly decides to jump into the river.

Crystal-like water droplets splash all over you, but you pay no attention to them; you watch her play around in the shallow river, like a small child. She cups her hands together, gathering the cerulean blue water, and then flicking it towards you so that you are wetter than before. She makes a small gesture, asking you to come into the river to play with her.

You've never known this side of her before, you realize, but while you ponder on this, your legs move on its own accord. The water's height reaches just above your ankles, and now at your knees. Your dangerous eyes lower, finding your reflection blurring.

Rusty blood – not your blood, but the people whom you've fought against – drips from your pant legs, and pollutes the water the more your body is exposed to the river. You wonder whose it belongs to, the blood – Naruto's, Kakashi's, maybe your own brother's? It's been too many years, you're not even sure if they were alive anymore.

Your arms shake, and you take a step back. Even though you are physically here, your undeserving soul is too far from this place. You shouldn't be here, and you shouldn't be ruining someone else's Heaven. Your body is no longer in the river, and you shift further away. It doesn't matter how many times she calls out for you, you know you have to leave.

The dirt and blood on your hands are still visible, and now grass stains cover them as you drag yourself away. Wet legs, now numb, are unable to move, and you can feel every scar on your body opening, and revealing itself into the clean air.

This isn't right, you tell yourself, I shouldn't be here. Your head turns from side to side, eyeing for any balls of fire, torture devices, anything that represents the Hell that you should be residing in.

Anger is expressed on your sickened face, and your brows are furrowed when you see her approach you with the utmost concern. Don't come near me! You repeat it, over, and over again, but similar to your preteen years, she doesn't listen to anything you say.

Her full, pink lips are pulled into a smile, and this time, it's her hands that reach for yours. No matter how much you try to use your arms to push them away, they uncontrollably move for her fingertips.

No, you tell your own body, but you somehow get up so that you are facing down on her. You feel moisture running down your cheeks – your eyes are bleeding again. The blood dampens your long, messy hair and soaks through the collar of your shirt.

A drop of blood falls onto her, and you can hear a hissing sound – it's burning her. Your eyes widen, as soon as you see her pained face. Before she could raise her hand to her own flesh, you raise yours, wiping the blood away with your thumb.

You want to apologize, as you never wanted to cause her any pain. Your mouth doesn't open to say it, but you're sure your hasty moves can explain it to her. Your brows still express frustration, however, as the more you're wiping your own blood off of her, the more mud and dirt from your fingers spread across her face.

She laughs, and her emerald eyes glistens with her own tears. She looks straight back at you, and caresses your face. Her small hands fall onto the blood that's streaming from your eyes, and you're scared it might cause her pain again, so you waver.

Her movements are controlled, and she doesn't shift her position. Suddenly, your peripheral vision can see a warm, fluorescent green glow. Your lips part, breathing in her air. The blood you had felt running down your face disappears, and your sight is no longer blurry; she is healing you.

Nevertheless, you continue to shake your head. You don't deserve this: the peacefulness, the warmth that exudes from her caring touch, or the happiness you know you're feeling. Stop, you tell her, let me go – I have to go.

This time, it's her who face is stern, but her touch is still soft. Don't leave me, her whispering voice sings. She reaches out her arms, extends her fingertips, and grasps onto the hem of your shirt.

Your lips almost curve upward in amusement. She never learns, does she? That you have never listened to her, and even in the final encounter, you still won't. You finally feel the strength to pull away from her and the tug on your shirt loosens. You quickly turn around, not daring to turn back, because you know that the sight of her tears will only make you weaker – it always had.

You reach the border of the village and can feel the winter air engulfing you, surrounding your body until your limbs start to ache. But you persevere, only pushing yourself further. You know that she's not too far behind you, because she always chases after you; she is equally persistent.

The steps you take, the long strides, become shorter as you reach the ending of the trodden soil. You're always so fit, so you're unsure as to why you're fighting for breath – was it your fitness, or maybe the air surrounding you? Of course, you try not to fixate on that, because now, those all-knowing eyes of yours stare directly at the end of the path; there are two roads.

The cruel smirk of your's appears, as you shake your head in disbelief. Is it really this easy? You choose the one on the right side, the one with the twisted path, with a never-ending darkness and blood stained dirt. Clearly this is what you want, not the road with the pale blue skies, and sunshine that allow mother nature to harness over her plants.

The voice in the back of your head still troubles you though – is she still following? You ponder about this and the war in your mind begins. You wonder if you should turn around – maybe, just maybe, you should turn around one last time? Take one more glimpse of her?

No! You scream to yourself, throwing yourself further into the dark eternity. Nevertheless, the more you run, the heavier your legs become. Those dark eyes of yours drop, so that the view is of your fingertips, which slowly succumb to the emptiness.

Blood falls silently through the tangible air, landing on your arms. You know that you are the owner. Shaking your head, you let out a grunt; even her healing wasn't enough. Up to this point though, you know you've fallen so low, it's impossible for anyone to pull you out, including yourself.

The darkness consuming you now runs up your legs, your torso, your chest. Your nose twitches, and you are familiar with this scent – oh, you know it too well: the smell of blood. That is what you are drowning in, you believe.

At this point, you can't feel your legs anymore, so you assume that this is it. There's no more running from here. No more escaping from the ones who once loved you. The war in your thoughts is over, because there is no way for someone as pure as her to have come this far just for you.

Maybe you should be ashamed of yourself, you think. Because there are countless of unimaginable acts which you have committed and yet there is no regret. It is because of your mistakes that landed you here, in Hell, but you don't even care.

Suddenly, your head falls back as you hear the high pitch scream.

Annoying girl, you think. It's her fault for following you in the first place, so you stand there and watch her struggle with the unknown. The feather-like dress she donned is now torn with bloody patterns, and her flowing hair is tangled into knots. You feel her watching you, begging for help, but you refuse to budge. You refuse to end your journey just for her.

She pulls out a shaking arm, hoping to grab onto your free one, but you keep it knitted to your body. She is strong, you are sure, so she should be able to get out of this. She shouldn't depend on you anymore. She should stop waiting for you.

But the more she screams, the more your conscience begs you to move. The guilt you haven't been feeling lately resurfaces, and in a moment of carelessness, your body jerks and you try to move.

Your voice cracks when you try to yell out her name, but she lifts her head up anyway. You see her. The glue that kept your team together, the paperclip which you tossed aside so easily, the only girl who has loved you for who you were, now suffocating in the darkness.

Your vision blurs, and you're unsure if it's because of your eyes' condition, or because of the deathly air. You force yourself to endure the pain, and with all of your might, you extend your arms for hers', fighting against the currents of Hell.

Sasuke-kun, she says in an almost whisper-like manner. Even in this situation, you realize that you like it when she says your name. She still somehow makes it seem innocent.

Then, for some unknown reason, she smiles at you, and stops struggling with the void, allowing herself to be swallowed even more into the darkness.

You continue to fight, however, for her freedom and happiness.

You're still planning to go back, aren't you? You hear her say. Back to the nothingness. Back into... Hell. After you save me, you're still going to leave us, – leave me – right? The heartbreaking expression appears on her face as she looks at you like she's staring right into the truth.

The tips of your fingers tugs onto the ends of hers', and they linger momentarily, but she pulls her arm back. The darkness takes advantage of this situation to remove you from her a little more.

You know your wordless reply answers her question, but you try to save her from drowning in the swamp of blood anyway. She doesn't deserve this at all, you tell yourself, hoping that it might push you even harder for her safety. You bite your lips until crimson liquid falls from them. You feel your skin breaking, your body bleeding, and your eyes growing blinder by the second.

She gazes back at you with her eyes – you never realized how green they were, almost like those apples that she would frequently cut for you. Her lips quiver for a few seconds, but you can't hear a sound.

What? You ask her.

She smiles, and for one more time, she repeats: You still have a chance. After that, she vanishes with the remainders of your heart. Swallowed by Hell, she leaves your sight, and every wound on your body stops hurting. You stop struggling. There is nothing left but you and the sea of blood, which continues to rise – it reaches the nape of your neck now.

Your breaths become short, and you tell yourself that it's because of the poisonous air, but in reality, you know that this is panic. The arm which fought to hold onto her, drops in hopelessness. Your eyes are widened, though you can barely see anything, and you fail to hear any beats in your chest. The source of light in your life is now gone, and you know you deserve it, but you also know that she didn't.

Your head shakes in disbelief, but otherwise, your body remains still. Was it really supposed to be like this? You ask yourself that question over and over again. In order for you to arrive in Hell, others had to pay the price? Your eyes begin to shift back and forth, as if trying to find some way to reverse all of this.

This shouldn't have happened, you cry, and it is in this moment, that you finally realized that you let down your people, your only friends, and your family.

Once again, you can feel blood falling from your eyes. Taking in one final breath, you part your lips slightly, only to feel the moisture slipping through cracked openings. You taste salt; they are tears, not blood. Your lids fall shut. Ironic, how the darkness that masks your view is blacker than when your eyes are close.

Nevertheless, it helps, you think to yourself, because you can fully visualize them now – your family – and it soothes you. The feeling of nostalgia, however, forces you to furrow your brows in frustration and regret ever committing those sins. So with one last gulp, the final inhale takes place, and your marred skin feels the pool of blood rise to your nostrils. Your last thoughts are of the girl's final words to you: You still have a chance.

Your eyelids burst open.

The blackness remains in your vision, but you don't care. You force yourself to pull your arms through, though they weigh as much as a ton of bricks. Excruciating pain jolts through your entire body, as you try to push yourself up and over the flood. Your head peaks just enough for you to take in another breath, but waves crash down onto you.

Every time you pull your arms and legs up and out of the water, thousands of needles prick on your skin. Your mouth is forced open, and you gulp in the vast sea which attempts to fill your body, drowning you more and more.

You still have a chance.

Her voice still echoes in your head, as you swim against the millions of daggers, disguised as the everlasting currents of Hell.

You scream a soundless scream, and your nose inches above the waves momentarily. Your legs kick as hard as they can, but you know that you're exhausted. You're out of breath, and your arms and legs are weighing you down. Your throat aches, partly from trying to scream and partially because you've been swallowing too much of the ocean.

Before you know it, it starts to rain; you're only pushed down under even more.

You still have a chance.

You refuse to give up though. You know you have to fight it. She believed in you, and now she is gone.

You're still planning to go back, aren't you?

But you still have a chance, you tell yourself, soaking in her words for the last time. You can make a difference for yourself. You can fulfill what she wanted for you; that's the least you could do for her.

Suddenly, a flash of white light appears, blinding you. Your eyes narrow, in pain from such brightness, but it's warmth attracts you to it, so you swim towards it. Even though the waves grow higher, your body feels more pain, and a voice in the back of your head tells you to give up, you ignore it all.

You fight.

Collages of your memories flash, of your team, your family... Everyone who has had a place in your heart, they all show up. Their voices ring in your thoughts, which only makes it harder for you to focus on the light that is fading away.

Wait, you call for it, only to suffocate on your words. Your throat is swollen, your breathing becomes short, and one leg falls numb. Your eyes focus on the shining star in the distance, and you pull our your left arm, reaching for it. Your hand tries to grab onto it, but you miss; the waves push you back again.

You scream, reaching out your other arm while the other keeps you above water. You extend it as much as you can, aiming for only the white light, for Heaven. The voices echo around the container that surrounds you again, and this time, you force the words to come out of your mouth, hoping that it will only increase your chances at a new life.

I still have a chance, you say, but the waves crash onto you. The light disappears, your control over your body is no longer existent. You are submerged in the bloody sea, and no matter how much you try, you cannot lift yourself up.

You know that you can't do this on your own, and for the first time, you admit that you need help; you can't do this by yourself. So you call out for them, for anyone. For Naruto, for Kakashi, for her. You need them more than ever, and for the first time since your first few days as a genin, you realize this; without them, you are powerless.

And for some reason, though, you feel as if you're being watched, even underwater. You've always had a sixth sense for these things, so even in the darkness, even while drowning, you turn your head from side to side.

You feel your hands being held, and someone is helping your body glide through the harsh water. Your arms and legs are suddenly lighter. You are no longer suffocating, your eyes do not sting, and the rhythm of a heart is heard.

The light has returned, so you find yourself smiling at its sight. Her pink hair swims with the sea – no longer of blood, but of crystal blue water. Her aura pushes your pain away, and even though you are not in the air, you find yourself breathing with her presence. She lifts the both of you up, and before you know it, everything in your view is clear – there's no blood, no more darkness, no more Hell.

You two are just on a dirt path, and you follow her. She uses both of her hands to pull you along, and you don't question her. You just watch her, smiling and laughing like your past journey didn't happen.

Your eyes lower and you notice that she is no longer barefooted. She wears shoes, and along with that, she dons tan shorts, a red tank top, and her hair is short, unlike before. You are thankful that there are no blood stains, or any dirt and mud that might contaminate her glowing skin. For once, you love the sight of her, you adore the sound of her voice, the words that escape her lips every few seconds.

I can't wait for us to get back to Konoha, Sasuke-kun.

I'm kind of hungry right now, aren't you?

You shouldn't worry, your mother told me that you can be out for as long as you want, and your father and brother are out on a mission.

Your eyes trail upwards, meeting with her gaze as you question her last statement. She smiles in response, and it was enough for an answer; your family is here as well. Jubilant, you find yourself running a few steps so that you are no longer following her, but rather, walking side by side. She lets go of one hand, and hesitantly leaves the other attached to yours.

You smirk, gripping onto the handhold even more to assure her that you are fine with it. She did, after all, save you from the very thing you had been stuck in for the last several years.

She stops at the entrance. This isn't my heaven, Sasuke-kun. This... This is yours.

You look up and for the first time in a long time, you feel grateful. You feel a burst of excitement especially the moment your foot steps onto the ground that is officially your hometown's – Konoha's. Everything is almost the same, you realize. The smell of food stands, the crowd wandering through the streets, asking the venders the same question. There is a new face carved alongside the other Hokage's, and she is familiar; you assume that this happened during the first few years you were gone. But you don't stay at the front gates for very long, as your teammate pulls you away.

No one judges you, even as you pass by them with the same expression you always wear. They merely walk by, sometimes greeting the girl in front of you, and nodding at your presence. You don't think it's fair that you're being accepted so easily, but you don't think about it too much either.

Nevertheless, you feel yourself stopping in your tracks, which led to her stopping as well. You stare directly into her sparkling eyes, and you say, I don't think I understand. You disappeared in front of me. I thought you –

She shakes her head, laughing at your question. She begins walking, and you find yourself following her again, in search for the answer. Turning left, then right, you still seek after her and it wasn't until she stops in front of a familiar old stand that she faces you.

I was always with you, Sasuke-kun, whether you realized it or not. She points to the people nearby, sitting on stools and facing directly at you. One blond, with a childish grin on his face, and the other, a wise silver haired man, who simply nods the moment he sees you, though hides a part of his face behind an orange book. We were always with you. We waited, we searched, we never gave up on you. That is why I didn't leave you.

"Hey, Sakura-chan, Sasuke-teme, what took you guys so long?"

She laughs again and skips over to a seat near the blond, her hair swaying with the wind. She casually waves you over to sit in between as if she does this on a daily basis.

You listen to her, smiling. Your place is now with your team, and soon, you will go home to see your family. The scent of noodles raises to your nostrils, and your best friend hands you a pair of chopsticks. You just know that everyday will be like this. This is your heaven, everyday will be peaceful.

Then she says, "Sorry, Naruto. We had to overcome a few obstacles, right Sasuke-kun?" She looks at you with your favorite smile and all you can do is agree.

"Aa."

Thank you, Sakura.

FIN.


edit aug 01/10

A/N: Did you squint? Could you tell that the first half of Sasuke's journey mirrors his feelings and actions in the manga? If not, and you really want an explanation, here it is:

Beginning: Sasuke doesn't understand why he's in Heaven, which represents his beginning with Team 7, where he refuses to acknowledge his genin team. Nevertheless, as time passes by, he grows to worry over Sakura as she stands on the bride railing. In the manga, he becomes more accustomed to being teammates with Naruto and Sakura, and almost always tries to save them from danger. He grows fonder of them, even starts to love them without realizing it.

The part where he tries to step away from her after he realizes what he is, and that the blood pouring from his eyes hurts her represents what happens after Orochimaru shows up. Sasuke tries to separate himself from the team, because he believes that his quest for Itachi should be his own business, and refuses to let teh others get close, since they might get hurt.

The part where he runs down the pathway away from Konoha and faces the two ends, one dark and one light, but he chooses the Hellish one, this shows that the entire time, Sasuke had a choice to come back to Konoha before it was too late, but chose to stay with Orochimaru anyway (in the darkness).

Of course, Sakura was running after him the entire time, like in the manga where neither Naruto or Sakura gave up on trying to find him.

As Sasuke goes deeper on the path though, he is engulfed by darkness, which is also apparent in the manga where his hatred grows. Sakura, while chasing after him, falls into this darkness as well because she is exposed to more evils in life (in the manga, it's basically her training and pushing herself further, which therefore, promotes her to chuunin and provides her with more dangerous missions).

The rest is merely made up, because in the manga, Sasuke ignores everything Sakura and Naruto says. However, in this story, it would've been as if Sasuke realized that his actions end up hurting the ones he loves, so he decided to go back to Konoha with Sakura.

Whether you think that everyone (other than Sasuke who clearly is in heaven) is dead, it's really up to you. One way to look at it is that Sasuke goes to heaven and everyone else is already dead, so they meet him there. Another way is that he goes to heaven, and because it's his heaven, he's kind of taken to a fake world where everything that made him happy is there (ex. His family and his team).