And here is part 2! This story ends after this part. However, i have many more stories that I wrote that I am in the process of uploading. Thanks for the amazing reviews and liking the story!
Disclaimer: I own neither the series or its characters. But it'd be nice if Kishimoto gave me rights for the day, considering tonight is my graduation night.
Sakura never really noticed Naruto's emotions all that closely. Every smile, every glare, and every tear was just Naruto being Naruto to her. Once upon a time she thought it was a good thing that Naruto's emotions could be so flexible and yet so…him. This time, Sakura must make a mental note to herself not to get too empathetic every time she visits the almost comatose fox boy.
For the past week, Naruto has refused to get out of bed. Sakura has tried to rouse him to function even if only a little, but each time Naruto does nothing but look at her with cold, empty, dead and dull blue eyes. Naruto hasn't gone so far as to actually blame her for it, but she can tell on a subconscious level that he thinks of her as responsible for everything. He curls up inside his thin and worn out sheet and listens to depressing classical music on his stereo at full blast. Sakura knows for a fact that Naruto has ditched his bed's comforter because of "bad memories" (Now there's an image Sakura most certainly did not need) but the music surely was from Sasuke, too. Sakura sighs and rolls her eyes before shutting off the stereo with every visit.
Sakura pulls up a folding chair and sits herself next to Naruto's bed waving a cup of instant ramen in front of his face.
"Come on," she coos. "It's your favorite."
There is a slight response, but Sakura cannot make it out. It was either "Don't want any damn food," or "doughnut fanny ham is crude." Sakura can only assume it was the first.
"If you don't eat, Lady Tsunade will place you in a psyche ward," Sakura says.
Naruto grunts and turns away. Sakura can't help but imagine herself in Naruto's place. What would she have done if Sasuke had admitted out loud he was using her as nothing more than a means to alleviate basic biological urges? Sakura shakes her head and reminds herself that she is lucky no one has used her. Naruto is the victim here, not her.
"Look," Sakura says. "I know that you're hurt and you don't even want to waste the energy to blink right now, but if you don't at least try to get up, then you'll do nothing but give Sasuke the satisfaction of knowing he got to you. You want him crying and begging on his knees for you back? Then you have to at least pretend to have moved on."
"And how do I do that?"
"By getting out of bed, eating some ramen, and acting like your chipper, over-cheerful, and hyperactive self." Sakura grins.
Naruto sluggishly turns to sit up and drags his feet over to the door of his apartment where he keeps his shoes.
"Well, let's just do this thing," he grumbles.
"You're going to have to try harder than that."
. . .
The night after Sasuke admitted that Naruto was just a fuck toy to him, Sakura spent eight whole hours perusing through book after book of old Konoha folklore in the Hokage's extensive library looking for a story to the old fox myth that had a happy ending.
Out of the hundreds of stories she read, only two had endings that weren't the same as the ending to the story her mother had told her. The first involved a fox-woman who seduced her husband with her beautiful singing, but when her husband discovered her secret, they could only meet up at night when the elder foxes wouldn't know what was going on. The second told of a fox-man and his human lover who asked the gods to transform them into constellations rather than be separated from each other by fox law. Neither of these options was good enough for her.
Sakura knew these stories were just that: stories. But Sakura craved a fox legend that ended with a positive outcome, if only to make herself feel better. Maybe she put too much faith into old child stories read before bed. Sakura only felt that if at least one of these stories had a better ending then everything would be alright. Older women would've scoffed at the idea of being comforted by a bedtime story. Sakura is not one of them.
. . .
How can Sasuke just stand there and act normally when his teammate is standing right next to him, staring at him longingly and biting his lip to keep from breaking out into tears? It's like he doesn't even realize what he did. If she wasn't standing in front of Lady Tsunade and Shizune, she'd give Sasuke her biggest megaton punch yet and break every bone in his pretty little face. Sakura restrains herself only because doing so with her master watching would suspend her from doing missions. She does, however, give Sasuke the biggest murderous look she can muster. Too bad he has a patent on the "always totally indifferent" face, because Sasuke's nonchalant attitude is pissing her off.
Lady Tsunade turns in her chair to face Team Seven with the most confused look she has ever had. She sees one blond ninja who used to be perky and up to doing anything dangerous and exciting now looking so downcast his chakra is starting to form a literal storm cloud over his head, an Uchiha who (judging from Naruto's face) is the cause of the blond's misery and instead of being upset about it has been rolling his eyes and studying his fingernails for the past ten minutes, and one seriously pissed off kunoichi two seconds away from giving in to a desire to scream and hurt her raven haired teammate.
"I'm not even going to ask," she mumbles.
"The man standing behind you is the last surviving member of the Takeuchi clan. His bloodline limit involves his cells secreting an organic compound that coats his cells and renders him totally invisible. As you can imagine, that particular ability is highly sought after. He's had Grass Village ninjas after him for years now. He's been promised high security protection by the Sand Village, and has requested Konoha ninja to escort him there in case any Grass ninja plan to ambush him on the way. This is a B-rank mission, and you'll be gone about a week. Don't let the village down." Lady Tsunade hands Sakura a paper handout of the mission's details and turns back around to stare out the window. She has nothing more to say to this messed up group.
. . .
Yutaka Takeuchi was a member of the Konoha Biological Research Bureau before his transfer to the Sand Village. What does this mean? He has spent the last ten years of his life digging up the shallow graves of enemy ninja and analyzing their tissues for any info on enemy jutsus and chakra. Yutaka might not be aware that the stench of rotting flesh has been permanently bonded to him, but Team Seven sure is. Sakura and Naruto walk twenty feet ahead of him and try to breathe through their mouths while Sasuke walks twenty feet behind him holding his nose and trying not to retch. Yutaka either doesn't notice or doesn't mind. Sakura figured out hours ago that the man doesn't talk much and isn't sociable in the slightest. She considers it a stroke of luck.
Team Seven ends its first day on the mission with a stay at an onsen. Thankfully, Yutaka decides to go to bed early (in his own room, of course). The hot springs are mixed because it is so small. Team Seven feels that although they deserve to spend a while relaxing in pleasantly hot water, they know they cannot afford a place to stay at an inn with separate baths. Sakura wades through the hot springs with her knees crouched to hide her torso and her arms crossed over her chest. She and Naruto soak in one end of the springs and Sasuke keeps to himself at the other end. Despite the smallness of the hot springs, Naruto and Sakura are confident that they can whisper to each other without being overheard.
"The more I sit here," Naruto said, "the more I think Yutaka should've come in with us. God knows he needs the bath."
"Decaying tissue isn't the kind of smell that can be washed away with lavender soap and hot water," Sakura replied after shuddering. "Besides, he'd stink up the whole onsen. We'd never be welcome back here if we let him in with us."
"I used to go to onsens with Sasuke," Naruto said quietly. "We'd scrub each other with soap and one thing would lead to another…"
"Let me ask you this," Sakura interjected before Naruto could get too upset. "When he was with you, did you ever once feel like you were being used? Did you ever do anything together that didn't end in something sexual?"
Naruto closed his eyes and sighed deeply while reaching for his towel to dry off his wet hair.
"We used to watch the sunset from the cliff with the five Hokages' faces carved in it. We sat on the Second Hokage's head because it looked better from there." Naruto said after a few minutes of painful memory searching. "And our afternoons in the meadow didn't always end the way you saw that one time," he continued. "He might not ever admit it, but Sasuke can make a great daisy chain."
"I just wonder if Sasuke actually meant what he said, or if he was just trying to cover up his feelings," Sakura said. "He might have been lying because it was me who asked, instead of you. Sasuke's very distant and not good at sharing feelings. He probably wasn't comfortable opening up to me instead of you."
"I know I should've asked myself, but you don't know what it is like," Naruto whined. "Admit it. If it became widely known that Sasuke had chosen me out of anyone else in the whole village, every girl in a ten mile radius would want my head on a stick."
"You do have a point," she admitted.
"It's no excuse for treating me this way." Naruto said softly. "Maybe if Sasuke wasn't such an asshole, it'd be easier to forgive him for reacting to your question the way he did. But he hasn't tried to apologize for claiming he was using me. He hasn't even looked at me since then."
Sakura remembered when she was younger, she had asked her mother why all the girls liked Sasuke so much. It made her angry that she had so much competition back then.
"Girls like a fixer-upper." Her mother had said. "Every girl loves to think that she'll be the one who will get the good looking bad boy to change his ways and settle with her forever. The troubled and broken ones who act cold and distant are especially attractive to this type of girl. Please tell me you'll end up with someone who will treat you with more respect than that."
Sakura could only stare at her mother and feel ashamed of herself. She was that kind of girl. It disgusted her.
"I will, mama."
"Sasuke always treated me like I was the most important person in the world," Naruto said, "But only in private."
"Maybe he's been alone for so long he doesn't know how to react to real love." Sakura said. "He's just broken. And he wanted to pick you to fix him."
"He fucked up," Naruto shrugged. "I can't fix him if he won't let me."
"Then it's up to you to figure out how to get him to realize his mistake." Sakura yawned and reached for her own towel. "Close your eyes. I'm getting out." Sakura made sure that Naruto's hands were completely covering his eyes before lifting herself out of the bath and wrapping her towel tightly around her body. When she walked back inside, she'd left a trail of small, wet footprints on the hall carpet leading to her room, and the maids politely asked her to dry her feet after using the onsen. Sakura chose to ignore them.
. . .
Even Gaara, the most stone-faced member of Naruto's large group of friends, wrinkled his nose when he got close to Yutaka. Nevertheless, he was polite.
"I welcome you to Suna," The young Kazekage said. "I shall send for two highly trained Jonin to guard you immediately."
Gaara watched as Yutaka walked away behind Baki.
"But I will not send for Kankuro or Temari." He said under his breath to Naruto and Sakura. "I just cannot bring myself to subject them to guard that smelly man."
"What about us?" Naruto asked loudly. "We had to spend the last three days with the guy! Now we all stink, too!"
"Try scrubbing yourself with lemons," Gaara said sympathetically. "It'll get rid of the smell faster."
Naruto tilted his head curiously.
"I don't even want to know how you know that." Naruto shuddered.
Gaara ignored Naruto's last remark.
"I'd offer you a place to stay to recuperate here in Suna," Gaara said. "But I'm afraid we have no room for three more."
"Nah, it's okay," Sakura said. "We'd better head back before it gets too dark."
"Yes," Gaara said. "Farewell and good luck."
"At least we don't have to deal with Stinky McInvisible Pants anymore." Naruto whispered.
. . .
Sakura once saw Hinata walking with Shino on a warm afternoon weeks ago. Sakura didn't mean to overhear their conversation, but these two spoke so rarely that Sakura couldn't help her curiosity of what they might be speaking about.
"B-but I'm s-so afraid he'll reject me," Hinata stuttered as her pace slowed.
"Hinata," Shino answered. "You must not be afraid of Kiba. Even a dog boy who ignores his friends is gentle and respectful of a girl who loves him."
Sakura guessed that it was Aburame-speak for "grow a pair and tell him how you feel because you'll never have a chance if you don't get out there and ask."
As far as Sakura knew, she and Kiba were still together.
Sakura decided that this was exactly the kind of kick-in-the-pants advice Naruto needed to finally have a talk with Sasuke.
Sakura watched silently as the two males went their separate ways to get ready to camp out for the night. Naruto struggled to clear away stray twigs and rocks from the campsite and Sasuke wandered into the forest to collect firewood. Sakura pushed up from the ground to get up and walked over to Naruto, who was trying to dislodge a pear sized stone from the ground.
"Tonight, you and Sasuke are going to have a talk about this whole mess." She informed him.
"I'm not ready to…" He mumbled.
"I'm sick of that crap," she cut him off. "You and Sasuke will talk tonight or you will suffer the consequences."
Naruto gulped audibly and nodded.
"Good. Just making sure we're on the same page."
. . .
Naruto and Sasuke stood a few feet away from each other. Not a word had passed between them since Naruto asked Sasuke to follow him out. Sakura sat on a high tree branch waiting for Naruto to say something. It was bad to eavesdrop, but she just had to know how this would turn out.
"You owe me an apology," Naruto told the dark haired ninja standing opposite him.
"For what?" Sasuke snapped.
"For telling Sakura you were using me."
Sakura suppressed a grin as she watched the horrified look blooming on Sasuke's face.
"What's the look for?" Naruto taunted. "You didn't think I was there? Well, I was. I heard every fucking word."
"I didn't mean…"
"Shut up," Naruto said calmly. "You think anything you say will validate what you did?"
"You should've had the balls to ask me yourself," Sasuke said back to the fox-boy. "Instead, you hid behind Sakura and made her do your dirty work. Saying 'I love you' was something I only wanted you to hear."
"And I wanted to scream it from the rooftops so all of Konoha could hear." Naruto yelled. "I'm not ashamed of us. Are you?"
"You don't get it, do you?" Sasuke said, bewildered. "You want to know what happened to the last person I said 'I love you' to? It was my mother. I told her I loved her before I left for academy that morning, and when I got home, I found her and my father dead and bleeding from the mouth because Itachi slit their throats. Itachi will kill everyone I love. I can't let anyone else hear. He'll find out and kill you, too."
Naruto staggered closer to Sasuke and held him. Sakura had never seen Sasuke act so frightened. Who would have thought that acting like a pretentious and uncaring bastard was a cover-up for how afraid and mentally scarred Sasuke was? Sakura knew from her years of medical training that traumatic experiences could harm people deeply, but to her, Sasuke had always seemed like the tough, strong guy who could brush it off. Sakura was surprised to see Sasuke show his true colors. Naruto hugged the Uchiha and rubbed his back as he shook in fright and fought back tears of pain on Naruto's shoulder.
"Is that really what you think?" Naruto whispered softly into Sasuke's ear. "You think that if you're open about our relationship, Itachi will hunt me down?"
Sasuke said nothing. He only nodded while Naruto cradled his head closer to his shoulder.
"Look," Naruto said. "I don't know why Itachi did what he did to your clan, but it wasn't because you loved them. Maybe he just didn't love them enough, and that makes you the better person."
Sasuke lifted his head. Sakura watched as Naruto's thumb wiped away the few stray tears leaking from Sasuke's eyes.
Sasuke cupped Naruto's face in his hands gently.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
. . .
Sakura huffed her way up the hill to the meadow. She was pissed at herself for being late. Whose stupid idea was it to have her go hiking to the meadow in a strapless pink dress and Stiletto heels anyway?
Sasuke and Naruto would be upset with her if she was late to their wedding. Sakura wondered what it'd feel like to die by simultaneous chidori and rasengan strikes. Not good, she decided.
Sakura finally made it and bent over to catch her breath before taking her place next to Lady Tsunade, who was acting as Justice of the Peace.
Sakura looked up at the crystal blue sky. She should've been listening to Naruto and Sasuke's vows, but she'd helped both of the boys write them, and she had something else on her mind.
Sakura snapped out of her stupor when applause for the happy couple broke out and Tsunade proclaimed them newlyweds. Sakura watched the crowd. Half were clapping enthusiastically and wolf whistled as Naruto grinned and shoved his lips harshly against Sasuke's. The other half cried tears of joy.
Sakura felt a small droplet of water hit her nose softly. She looked up once more. She looked back down at the crowd curiously. Why would it be sprinkling out? There wasn't a single storm cloud in the sky.
The droplets started falling more frequently and the sun shone brighter with each falling drop. Sakura gasped as she remembered. When foxes get married, their magic causes a Sun Shower.
Sakura picked up the sides of her gown and ran happily and laughing back home. She was too excited to care that the rain was ruining her best dress.
. . .
The next day after Naruto and Sasuke left for their honeymoon, Sakura paid one last visit to the folklore section of the library. She grabbed the book of legends from the shelves and turned it to the empty pages in the back. She dipped her brush into the ink and wrote.
She wrote about how Naruto and Sasuke met. She wrote about how they fell in love and about their wedding and the Sun Shower she never thought she'd get to see. And then, after a whole lifetime of anticipation, she finally wrote down those seven words she'd always wanted to end a fox legend with:
And they both lived happily ever after.