Naruto hadn't been the one to push himself out of his mind scape but certainly he should be able to go back? He wanted his questions answered.
Yet at the same time he was uncharacteristically frightened. It was hard facing the reality of never talking again.
Naruto had to admit he cried a little and sort of huddled into his futon, desperately trying to remember what had happened after he had been mortally wounded. All it caused was a huge migraine that grew worse as he got a flicker of a memory.
/The raven haired human was friend. Scent on him. The masked one as well even if a bit faint. He will get rid of the cannon fodder while he healed his wounds. He wouldn't move the body much but his chakra was pure raw power and was enough to kill a few deplorable humans./
Naruto shook his head before opening his eyes, feeling the slight change in temperature when the sun hit his face. He didn't want to face the day. He wanted to wallow in his misery and self pity. It hurt. His voice was something he used extensively. Especially when he was at home and the loneliness was too much to bear.
Damn it! Naruto cursed in his head and rose from his futon. It was an irritatingly slow process because of his still recuperating heart which made him winded at the slightest effort. Finding a mirror, he removed his shirt, looking for any entrance wounds and only finding tiny little scabbed over circles for scars as evidence of the senbons that had littered his heart. It was the same for his throat but he couldn't seem to stop running a hand over that one specifically.
It didn't seem like much but they were the only evidence of his near death experience along with the loss of his voice.
Naruto stared at his throat for an hour before his stomach growled loudly. Taking deep breaths, he mentally prepared himself for the pitying and guilty looks like the ones from before. He hadn't seen them since and, really, he was glad for the space but there was only so much silence Naruto could take before he really broke down and Naruto wasn't sure he would be able to face his team if they saw him at his most weakest – even more so than they already had.
Another loud rumble from his stomach made Naruto sigh at the inevitable, decided that there was no point in putting it off any longer and opened the door to go get breakfast.
Give it to a child to be able to cheer him up about his predicament.
The day had been filled with a natural fog (none of that annoying crap that Zabuza used for stealth) and the brief sunlight that had awakened him had been been from a slightly higher position from the sky than the morning warranted which explained why when he had exited the room, the house had been empty save Tsunami and Inari.
"I'm so sorry." Tsunami apologized when she saw him, bowing. Naruto jerked back, ready to yell that it was fine when he remembered that he couldn't and simply shook his head left and right while making an 'x' with his hands.
The motion was lost on her when she was still facing the floor. Instead, Naruto grabbed her by the shoulders and raised her.
Tsunami held her breath, ready for – well, she wasn't actually sure what but some sort of reprimand, which seeing as he could no longer speak, was quite insensitive. Instead, she met Naruto's impossibly blue eyes and found them expressing kindness. They were a little dimmer than before but she still found herself unable to look away and very nearly missed the smile he gave her.
She was speechless and suddenly quite emotional. Tsunami hugged the child that saved their country tightly, tears threatening to fall as they did so.
Naruto wasn't actually quite sure what to do... he'd never actually gotten hugged before. Recounting some of the ones he had seen on TV, Naruto hesitantly wrapped his arms around Tsunami and couldn't stop blushing as he did so.
That was the scene his Team and Tazuna had walked in on.
"Oh! Lunch already?" Tsunami sniffed and wiped her eyes, startling Naruto. He hadn't noticed she had been crying. Seeing his distress, Tsunami smiled and patted his head in a motherly fashion. Naruto was unsure of why but he wouldn't mind her doing it again despite the fact that it made him feel like a child. It sent a rush of warmth that Naruto had never felt before and Naruto was almost glad that he couldn't speak because he would have been speechless anyway.
"What would you like for lunch?" Tsunami asked. Naruto blinked but before he could answer, his Team did it for him.
"Ramen." They said in unison. Naruto slightly smiled, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
"Ramen it is then." Tsunami affirmed brightly. She turned away and Naruto was revealed completely.
"How are you feeling, Naruto?" Sakura asked a bit hesitantly. Naruto shrugged and raised his hand in a 'so-so' fashion finding no reason to pretend like he was perfectly fine. Sasuke, mercifully, didn't comment and didn't look all that fazed. Naruto might have been offended or hurt if not for the comfort Sasuke had offered before. Not to mention, if Naruto met Sasuke's eyes he would notice the guilt that plagued him. As it was, he didn't even need to to feel it. Plus, Naruto found solace in Sasuke's non-hovering. Sakura was doing that enough for the rest of them.
"I'm sure some food will make you feel better." Kakashi stated, deciding to help Tsunami with dinner. Tazuna passed them to the refrigerator briefly patting Naruto's shoulder but making no comment.
After a slightly awkward silence, Team 7 ambled to the table sitting around it. The awkward silence continued even after Inari joined them, having smelled the food being prepared. Both Naruto's and Inari's stomach grumbled at the same time.
"When was the last time you ate?" Sakura asked, trying to fill the awkward silence. Naruto raised two fingers.
"You really can't talk anymore?" Inari cut in. Naruto slumped over the table and shook his head no.
"So does that mean you can't be a ninja anymore?"
Naruto jumped at the question, going wide-eyed at the implications.
"Calm down. His voice has nothing to do with his skill." Kakashi said, setting a rather hefty bowl of ramen in front of Naruto. Naruto let out a relieved sigh and didn't even protest to the amount of vegetables Kakashi put in his beef ramen. He swirled them around a bit dejectedly but hunger won out and he began to shovel down his food though with less enthusiasm than his team was used to.
"So there's other ninja out there that can't talk?" Inari asked innocently.
"Most likely." Kakashi answered vaguely but it was enough for Inari.
"So that means you'll get to be the first mute Hokage ever!" Inari asked excitedly. The question made Naruto freeze for a moment, before he swallowed what was in his mouth and stared unseeingly into the broth to contemplate the question.
Would he still be able to become Hokage?
To be Hokage, you had to be able to inspire people with speeches and give out orders – and the politics. Hard to negotiate when you can't talk. Naruto may be a bit dense but when it came to his dream, he made sure to at least know what he was getting himself into.
And without his voice, his chances of becoming Hokage just got slimmer.
But perhaps- maybe he could still do it. The Impossible never stopped him before and now didn't seem like the right time to believe so either. There was something about clinging to a dream that no one believed you could that made Naruto feel alive.
So instead of focusing on the things he wouldn't be able to do, he thought back to Jiji's calming presence, and power that swept through you when he looked straight at you. The Sandaime didn't need words to assure someone that he would take care of them with his strength and Naruto decided that he would to – without words.
So after minutes of silence, most of which he hadn't noticed, Naruto smiled and nodded in assurance.
Nothing would stop him from reaching his dream. Not even the loss of his voice.
He wouldn't be Naruto without his determination and ability to achieve the impossible. Apologies for both the wait and length but I hadn't been sure how to convey this right. Plus, I'm technically on hiatus for my Naruto fanfiction which is why I probably got inspiration for this.
Hopefully the next chapter won't take forever.