Disclaimer: "Naruto" and all its characters are property of Kishimoto Masashi, and I claim no ownership. "Bleach" and all of its characters are the property of Noriaki 'Tite' Kubo and I claim no ownership.
Do I Have A Purpose Anymore?
Chapter 1: A Fateful Decision
A shirtless Naruto was panting heavily as he continued his training, sweat glistening off his well-toned muscular frame, dripping from his forehead onto his chiseled chest. Before falling onto the ground, forming a small pool beneath him, as he mercilessly punched at the rock before him with his bloodied hands.
Long gone was the usual trademark orange jumpsuit he used to wear, but now sported a pair of black Jounin baggy pants much like ones worn by his old Sensei Kakashi. The necklace that Tsunade had given him hung loosely from his neck, but discarded to the side was a Jounin vest, and a black t-shirt. He had taken them off to cool down, so he would not have to halt his training, which at this point was nothing more than pounding away at a large boulder that shook with every hit and crumbled away into dust a little bit more with each blow.
He felt no pain as his bloody fists smacked into the stone, the Jinchuuriki enhanced strength and healing properties of the young Jounin was truly a marvel to behold. He said nothing as he hit the object before him, and cared not who might see him, training in the oppressive heat of the summer afternoon
Nothing mattered to Naruto anymore, even when he had everything he thought he had wanted, he was miserable. He had found Sasuke, five years ago; they both had been 18 at the time. A fierce battle had ensued. They had been evenly matched for a time, but in the cataclysmic climax of the battle, he had finally defeated the Uchiha, without killing him, and dragged him back to the Leaf village.
Upon their return, he had been hailed as a hero. Everyone praised him and he was finally receiving the recognition he had sought his entire life. Even Sasuke had thanked him for bringing him back. After that Naruto had joined the ANBU and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Jounin Captain. He had even recently been recommended by the village Council, the same Council that had been a plague to him for years growing up, as the successor to Tsunade to become the next Hokage.
This should have made him happy, everything he had strived so hard to achieve was finally coming to fruition, but it did not make him happy. All Naruto had felt for the last three years was emptiness that grew a little more every single day. Naruto winced has he struck the boulder again, as his mind drifted to the people who had brought this endless sense of nothingness upon him.
Sakura was now engaged to Sasuke after five years of being together.
Hinata had long since married Kiba three years ago.
Ino was an ANBU, as was Shikamaru. They had been dating for the last two years.
Everyone was prosperous, as was he.
But, what was there for him anymore? What purpose did he have? To be Hokage? He felt no drive, no desire for that position any longer. Part of that dream he had told no one about was to be able to share that success with someone by his side to love and be loved. Unfortunately Kami, fate, or whatever had deemed that not to be, so what was the point of being Hokage if you're all alone? He found no joy in this village anymore, but oddly enough, he bore it no ill will either.
What had happened to him?
What did he feel?
He felt nothing.
As he turned to pickup his shirt and necklace and put them on when he heard a voice softly say.
"I'm sorry, Naruto. I'm sorry for everything."
He froze for a moment before turning on his heel to face her, his cerulean blue eyes locked coldly onto her widened emerald eyes and he asked.
"What was that?"
Taking in a deep breath, she was about to repeat herself, but he stopped her when he snapped, the hate eating at his heart and soul.
"You're sorry, you're sorry for what, Sakura? For all the pain you've given me my entire life. From hitting me, belittling me, and finally humiliating me over the years. Are you sorry for using me as a tool to return your precious Sasuke-kun back to you? Is that what you are sorry for?"
Naruto's eyes were red and narrowed into slits as he fought desperately from letting his anger fuel the red chakra building within him from bursting forth.
"Or are you sorry because everyone in this village sees you for what you really are? A selfish manipulative bitch, who will use whatever means she needs to get what she wants and if she doesn't throws a temper tantrum until she does!"
Sakura was at a loss for words, and managed to stammer out:
"Wh-What's come over you?" Sakura pleadingly asked the hurt of Naruto's words evident in her voice.
Tentatively, she placed a hand on his shoulder, but he viciously slapped it off.
"Why are you so angry?" Sakura asked in a worried murmur.
Naruto laughed, but it was not the kind of laugh that was friendly. In fact, it was the furthest thing from friendly. This laugh it was harsh and filled with anger, malice and rage. When he opened his eyes, they were as cold and unfriendly as ice, as he now spat at her with spite.
"I can't believe you have the audacity to ask me that question? When you above all others should know why I'm angry. I'm sorry Sakura, I suppose you were expecting me to accept your apology with a smile on my face and jump up and down and follow you all over the place like a little puppy-dog, just like I did when we were kids. Am I right?"
A chill went through Sakura's body at the sound of the venom dripping from Naruto's voice and his glare broke her heart. Sakura had missed the way Naruto use to look at her. The way he would speak softly to her when she was sad, lonely, or needed support. That Naruto was gone and the cold brutal one standing before her now she herself had helped to create by her own hands as he continued on.
"Well, let me tell you, I don't want anything to do with you. I'm not your little bitch anymore Haruno. Nothing you could say to me would ever make me change my mind. I brought your Sasuke-kun back to you. What did you think that you can just waltz in and say sorry and everything will go back to the way it was?"
Naruto snorted with derision not waiting for an answer and in a voice that was literally dripping with sarcasm said.
"Sweetheart, I am not falling for it. I was a fool once for you, but never again, never freaking again! I will not become the Jiraiya to your Tsunade for the rest of my life!"
Sakura fought desperately to hold back the tears that were trying to well in her eyes. What could she say? What could she do? Why didn't she realize after her encounter with him last month that he bore a deep hatred and anger towards her and had for a longtime.
(Flashback one month)
As Naruto stumbled out of the bar with an opened bottle of sake in his hand it was late and he was drunk, very drunk. Naruto had tried to convince himself that the reason he was hammered was because he was celebrating….. alone of course. His celebration being the fact that on his last mission he had broken Hatake Sakumo the legendary White Fang and his former Sensei's father's record for most kills in ANBU history. Such a feat had garnered him much praise throughout the village, so why not celebrate the achievement. However, deep down Naruto knew the only reason he got drunk, which was getting more frequent was to drive back the memories of three people over the last three years. When Naruto staggered over to a lamppost and leaned against it to steady himself to take another drink a friendly voice called out.
Looking over through half-lidded eyes, Naruto spied his two former teammates and any merriment he had been feeling quickly disappeared, as he coldly replied before taking another swig of the bottle.
Both Sasuke and Sakura shot pensive looks at one another before they approached Naruto and Sasuke said.
"Hey Naruto, we've been looking everywhere for you. We heard you got back from your latest mission and wanted to find you before you left on another one. You've been doing so many missions these past three years, we've hardly ever see you anymore."
"Well, now you've found me, what do you want?" Naruto replied in a bored tone of voice.
"Sakura and I have some exciting news and we wanted you to be the first to know, go on Sakura, why don't you tell him."
"I don't know Sasuke, maybe we should wait until Naruto's feeling better."
"I feel the same way I always do Sakura, so go ahead and tell me this exciting news." Naruto commented in a monotone sounding voice before taking another drink.
"Nar-Naruto…I, we…..Well, Sasuke and I wanted to announce that we are going to be getting married soon and, and…." Sakura stammered.
"…..and we want you to be the best man. Kami Sakura, it's not that hard to say." Sasuke stated with annoyance at his fiancée's stammering, as he finished her sentence.
Anger and jealousy burned at Naruto's soul and he clenched his fist until his knuckles turned white, but forced a smile for Sakura and Sasuke and firmly said.
Naruto then brought the bottle up to his mouth and took another large swig of the burning liquor.
"Is that all you have to say dobe?" Sasuke queried.
"What more do you want teme?"
"I want you to be my best man"
"Sorry, I don't think I can do that."
"Because I'm busy these days, you yourself said it; I have a lot of missions that need to be accomplished over the next few months. I've been given a lot of responsibility in the ANBU and I have no way of attending the wedding."
"Our wedding is going to be next month Naruto. You can't take one day off for that, for me and Sakura?"
"I can't Sasuke; my responsibilities concern the safety of the Leaf village so I can't."
"That's bullshit and you know it."
That was the straw that broke Naruto's proverbial back, as he had been keeping in all the anger, envy, and resentment he had felt for a long time for his former teammates. Seething with rage, he glared at the engaged couple and angrily declared.
"You know what's bullshit? Its bullshit that after everything I've given to you teme….….. literally, that you two have the nerve to ask me that and then when I say I can't, you try and guilt me into doing it! You know what, Fuck it! I may or may not have a mission next month but whether I do or not I can tell you one thing I won't be attending your wedding!"
"After everything you've given me, what the hell are you talking about dobe?" Sasuke shouted with angered confusion.
Naruto shot a quick look at Sakura who had remained silent with her head bowed down and then it hit Naruto like a ton of bricks who suddenly realized and said with low mocking laughter at her.
"Ha, ha, ha, he doesn't know does he, after all this time and he still doesn't know."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…!"
Naruto then turned around and walked away his maniacal laughter growing in intensity as he left his teammates standing in the street.
(End of Flashback)
Taking a deep breath, Sakura nodded and did her best to mask the pain she was feeling inside before softly saying.
"I understand, I won't bother you ever again Naruto. I just wanted you to know that I'm truly sorry for all the pain I've caused you and deeply regret my past actions towards you. I never meant to hurt you, but I did and I'm sorry and there's nothing more that I can say other than that."
Turning away from the young man, she held her head up high as she walked off of the training field and towards the Hokage's office to report in from her mission. After that when she was alone in her apartment, then she could cry.
For little did Naruto know that she had broken off her engagement with Sasuke, as both of them had decided to go their separate ways.
Naruto watched her go, and when she was gone, he angrily swung around and with a chakra enhanced fist punched a tree that seemed to explode on contact, as wooden chunks of shrapnel fell about the training grounds like rain falling from the sky.
His rage filled scream echoed in the air, before he slumped down to the ground. Naruto mentally cursed at himself for melting to her words, and then attacking her with his. A large part of him felt that she deserved it, but his heart cried in agony.
It was not just her, but she was a part of it. Where had he gone wrong? Why wasn't he deserving of some happiness? Somewhere along the way, he had lost himself, and he knew not how to replace what he had lost.
Love, Joy, Happiness. Naruto now realized he would not find any of that here. All he found here was nothing but pain. So what purpose did he have anymore in his life?"
Naruto looked down at his Jounin vest still lying on the ground for a moment before kicking it away. This place was too much for him. She along with the other two had been too much for him. Everything in this village was just too much and he was going insane as a result.
He had to leave.
It was late into the night and no one was awake. So, there was not a soul present to see one blonde young man with a pack strapped to his back walking calmly towards the gates of the village.
Or so he thought.
In a swirl of leaves, Sasuke appeared before him, clad in Jounin attire with arms crossed over his chest. His black obsidian orbs fell on the backpack Naruto had shouldered, and he frowned, as he put two and two together.
Naruto was leaving.
Naruto's cold cerulean blue eyes met his and he said nothing. He took a step forward, but Sasuke was in front of him in an instant barring his path with his arms out to block him, as he asked.
"Naruto, what's wrong?"
There was genuine concern resonating in Sasuke's voice, as he remembered going down a similar path years ago. A dark path Naruto had saved him from and had shown him the light. He owed his friend that much, to steer him away from this path.
Naruto's eyes narrowed as he was stopped and a second later, there was a kunai pressed against Sasuke's throat, held by him as said demanded with seriousness.
"Move Sasuke, don't make me kill you!"
Sasuke shook his head, ignoring the small trickle of blood it drew, as the blade nicked his throat.
"No, this isn't the Naruto I know. You saved me from this dark path and I won't let you now go down the same path."
A dry and bitter laughter filled the air, as Naruto shook his head before saying.
"Sasuke, you just don't get it do you?"
He leaned in now, and whispered into the ear of his best friend.
"The Naruto you knew is dead, he died three years ago."
Sasuke frowned at this as Naruto pulled back and he angrily shouted at his friend.
"Baka, I refuse to believe that. You're still the same loser, the same teammate, the same best friend."
Naruto scowled at him now, and the Uchiha knew a different tactic was in order and exclaimed.
"Sakura broke off the engagement. She wants to be with you. I told her to listen to her heart."
Naruto paused for a moment before he lowered the kunai, and Sasuke saw a grave sadness in the eyes of his friend.
"I'm sorry, but it doesn't matter anymore Sasuke, I can't stay here, it hurts too much. I won't betray the village that I swear to you, but neither can I stay here any longer. What's been taken from me, I can never get back if I stay here."
In a flash, he was behind Sasuke and the Uchiha heard Naruto quietly say.
"Thank you for being my friend."
Sasuke then felt everything go dark from a quick chop to his neck.
As his friend collapsed to the ground, Naruto turned around to continue his journey and in one monumental leap, soared over the village gates and into the night, his life was uncertain except for one thing.
Naruto Uzumaki had left the Leaf Village.
Author Note:If you didn't already know, this is a revised version of a story I've been co-writing with my fellow author NeonZangetsu called "My Purpose? What is my Purpose?" The story started off as an original work creation by NeonZangetsu. I joined in the writing of the tale on chapter 11 and NeonZ and I have alternated writing chapters since then. He has the even-numbered chapters to write, and I have the odd beginning with chapter 11. Unfortunately, NeonZ has had some serious health issues among other major things going on in his life and has not been able to write the latest chapter for the last six months.
However, I wanted the story to have a conclusion so NeonZ and I came to agreement. We are going to leave the original story up with his account and one day life permitting he might return to the tale and finish it and I will be creating this new revised version of the story on my account. And while some things will remain the same in the story I can assure you that this new revised version I will be doing will not be a carbon copy of the original. If you're a fan of the angst, drama, suspense, surprises, and romance I've done with my story. Then you should enjoy reading this tale as well, both the original version and the revised version. And I urge all readers to checkout both versions when they have a chance and please feel free to leave reviews on both versions as well.
Take it easy and be good!