I dedicate this story to catiemon! :D

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto and after what I put him through it will never happen.

Warning: SasuNaru, NejiShika, language, and character death


Chapter Twelve

**Day Seventeen-Eighteen**


Naruto felt his mind slipping out of consciousness even as he struggled to stay coherent. He couldn't pass out now, not when they were still in danger! He turned to stare at Sasuke who was looking back at him with a mixture of fear and alarm. He felt his heart clench at worrying him again so soon after being released from the hospital. He told himself if they made it out alive he would treat him to something nice, anything the teme wanted.

He watched Orochimaru pace back and forth, growling as his mind worked to find the quickest escape from this mess. Kabuto's attention was completely on his boss, watching the man think, oblivious to the two people who should have had his avid attention. Naruto seized his chance and reached down his left pant leg, biting his lip to hold back a groan as he extended the muscle around the bullet wound, and pulled out his back up pistol. It was by divine grace that they didn't check him for any weapons and that it hadn't been discovered when his thigh was bandaged or when he kicked out to save Sasukes life. And to think that earlier that day he had received a scoff from the teme for even carrying it!

Sasuke stared at Naruto, his mind flooding with thoughts of his rapid decline and the amount of blood soaking the shirt around his thigh. He needed to get the dobe to the hospital quickly before he bled out and died. Even now he knew Naruto was going into shock. His breathing was rapid and shallow and he was deathly pale. He wouldn't be surprised if he was cold to the touch. If they didn't hurry he would die and Sasuke would not let that happen!

His eyes followed subconsciously as Naruto snaked his hand down his leg and pulled the gun from its holster. He could remember thinking that Naruto had been a hypocrite for arguing with him about the phone when he was strapping a gun to his ankle, but it had made the dobe feel more at peace with what had happened to Mizuki and Gato. Now he was thankful that Naruto had decided to ignore him.

Naruto pulled the gun up with a shaking hand, pointing it directly at Orochimaru and flicked off the safety. His captor turned, pausing in his pacing to stare in shock before Naruto fired, catching him in the shoulder. Naruto cursed at his miss and fired at Kabuto as he fumbled to shoot in retaliation. The bullet hit Kabuto in the elbow shattering the joint, causing the gun to fall to the floor with a thunk and discharge another round.

Sasuke leapt into action when he witnessed Orochimaru go down, followed by Kabuto. He tackled the bespectacled man to the ground pinning him under his weight before he turned to locate Orochimaru. His eyes widened at the bullet hole in his side, blood flooding the ground as Orochimaru's heart pumped it out of the open wound. Sasuke turned away, not willing to watch the man in his last moments of this world.

His eyes alighted on Naruto and fear instantly gripped him. Naruto was so pale and shaking like a leaf; his lips were even turning blue. Sasuke wanted to race to his side, to be there for Naruto; to soothe him and tell him that everything was going to be just fine, but he couldn't risk letting Kabuto get away. Someone had to pay for all this now that Orochimaru was dead!

His head jerked up as the KSWAT descended on the house, guns sweeping over the scene before aiming at him. Everything happened in quick succession that he barely had time to take it all in. There as a sense of rushed relief that flooded him as he was hauled away from the suspect and a shout for paramedics were called for Naruto who had fallen unconscious. The medics rushed inside their sole focus on Naruto who was in dire straits. Sasuke struggled haphazardly against being led outside into the boisterous noise surrounding the house, intent on keeping Naruto within his sights at all times. But the hand on his shoulder wouldn't let him and he was dragged from the house and seated by the ambulance where an EMT checked him over. He turned to stare at the hand that had never left his shoulder and realized that it had been his brother that had pulled him away.

He felt another wave of rushed relief wash over him before it was chased away by the sight of Naruto being loaded into the other ambulance and whisked away. He felt numb and anxious and sick to the stomach; and all he wanted to do was hurry to the hospital to be there for Naruto. He turned to survey the EMT who was in the process of dressing his arm. Everything seemed surreal to him as the lights flashed and the deafening noise assaulted his ears, closing in around him and making his head pound.

"Sasuke?"

The sound of his name being called had Sasuke turning to witness Tsunade swooping down on him. Tears were seen in her eyes as she did the unthinkable and pulled him into a hug, holding onto him tight enough to constrict his breathing, but he didn't have the heart or the energy to push her away. A hand placed on Tsunades shoulder had her releasing him just as he was turning blue from the lack of oxygen.

"What the hell happened in there?" She demanded. Her eyes flashed with a mixture of emotions as she viewed Sasuke for an answer; but it was beyond him to voice it. He turned to his brother and saw Itachi speaking with Chief Sarutobi off to the side, worry evident in eyes that matched Sasuke's so perfectly. Without thinking he shrugged off the blanket that was thrown over him, the EMT treating him, and his own Chief demanding answers. He walked unsteadily to his older brother, halting his conversation with the Chief.

"Sasuke...?" Itachi started only to fall quiet as Sasuke held him for dear life.

"Has something happened to Naruto? Please, Itachi tell me?"

"Sas…"

"Please, tell me he's going to be ok. Just let him be ok!" Sasuke agonized into his brother's shirt. "Please, I'll do anything! Just let him be ok!"

Itachi gripped him close wishing with all his heart for the same thing. He couldn't tell Sasuke though, that Narutos heart had stopped on the way to the hospital. He couldn't tell Sasuke that the paramedics were having a hard time getting it started again. He couldn't tell Sasuke that he feared Naruto wouldn't come back to them, because to voice it would make it true and he wasn't willing to give up yet. He knew Naruto was strong-willed with a healthy appetite for life, but everyone had their limits. Had Naruto reached his?

Itachi spotted the irritated EMT who marched over to them, demanding that Sasuke be taken to the hospital for treatment. Sasuke didn't fight him and was soon loaded inside the idling ambulance and rushed to the emergency room where he was given a once over by the Dr. and released to the waiting room where he met Itachi, who had followed him straight there; the two Chiefs, and the Senators. They were all concerned for Naruto and they had reason to be. He was still recovering from his first gunshot wound and had brazenly gone and got shot again.

Sasuke wasn't all that shocked either to see Shikamaru hobbling his way into the waiting room soon after, followed by Neji who was hovering over him protectively. He turned blank eyes to stare at Naruto's friend, not knowing what to say. He felt angry with himself for letting Naruto be injured on his watch again. What good was he if he couldn't protect the one that he loved?

"You look like shit, Uchiha!" Shikamaru muttered and lowered himself into the seat next to Sasuke. He sighed and leaned his head against the wall, staring into the overhead florescent lighting.

"I'll be fine." He barely whispered out, his throat constricting. He really felt like crying in that moment, but he held them back instead. This time he would be strong for Naruto. "I tried..."

"I know." Shikamaru whispered. "We heard everything through the phone."

Sasuke turned to stare, his eyes shooting up in surprise. He had completely forgotten about Naruto calling him! Did that mean Naruto never disconnected the phone call? "Everything?" He asked with uncertainty.

"Yeah, it was all recorded and turned over to Iruka for the time being."

Sasuke nodded, leaning back in his seat and gripping at his injured arm. He allowed the pain to fill him and temporarily draw him away from his reality. He didn't want to think at the moment, but he couldn't stop it…even through his forced haze.

"You shouldn't do that Uchiha." Shikamaru admonished.

"I failed him;" Sasuke stated, unable to stop himself. He couldn't stop the impulse to explain himself, to explain his actions. "I failed him again. I froze when I thought about him getting hurt...it didn't matter that he was already injured."

"You can't turn off being worried about someone, especially when you fear that they were injured or worse."

"They were playing games..."

"I know. I heard everything..." Shikamaru paused, staring at the two men in the doorway. Chief Sarutobi stood swiftly, speaking quickly and quietly. He took a step back and directed them towards Sasuke.

"Sasuke Uchiha," The man started. "I'm Ibiki Morino and this is my partner Gai Might. We need your version of events about tonight."

"Is it necessary to do this now?" Itachi asked softly moving to stand next to his brother.

"It is better to get everything we can while it is fresh in his mind."

Nodding, Sasuke sat forward, looking paler than usual. Itachi wanted to protest, but held his tongue when Sasuke started to speak. There was a haunted look that took up residence on his features and it seeped into his very speech as he spoke about the events that happened just hours ago. When he finished it finally hit Sasuke that he had never expected to live passed that night, that any thought of the future had abandoned him the moment he answered that door. He felt his breathing increase and exhale in short spurts, panic rising when he couldn't take in oxygen fast enough.

"Calm down, Sasuke. Take deep breaths." Itachi urged as he knelt in front of his little brother. "Sasuke…?"

Sasuke shook his head, clawing at his throat as he gasped for breath. He saw blackness creeping along the edges of his vision and he almost welcomed the waiting darkness. He barely noticed the nurse that had been summoned or the small pinch of the needle that slid into his vein, releasing a surge of frigid medication; but he did notice the immediate effects as his breathing slowed and the darkness receded. He felt calmer and lighter.

His eyes moved slowly toward Ibiki as he spoke softly. "So Jiraiya was searching all this time? I really believed that he had given up and moved on; I guess I was wrong. It's a shame that we still have no idea what happened to the Namikaze's, but at least we can close a murder case; two murder cases actually. Maybe we can get this Kabuto to speak."

"I wouldn't count on it." Sasuke muttered.

"Do you still have this letter from Jiraiya?" Itachi asked gently. Sasuke frowned at the care taken in talking to him. He hated it but he could understand why they were doing it. He had just suffered a panic attack; he, Sasuke Uchiha, had suffered from a panic attack!

"It should still be in the living room, Naruto set them on the table…"

"Gai, I need you to locate them." Gai nodded and disappeared through the door, leaving the room to wait quietly. "Whose idea was it to call detective Nara again?"

"Mine, Naruto didn't want to though."

"Why wouldn't he?" Ibiki questioned.

"He was more interested in tracking Orochimaru down, but I convinced him to let Nara handle it."

"So Naruto's reluctance was nothing to do with the unknown argument raging between him and his partner?"

Sasuke frowned wondering how Ibiki knew something like that. It had just happened this morning. He felt Nara stiffen next to him as the room waited for his answer. "I don't know how you found out about that, but that is none of your business. It has nothing to do with the investigations and is a private matter that should be settled between the two of them."

"I need to know every aspect…"

"You have no right to that information. I have told you that it is nothing to do with the case." Sasuke growled.

"I need to know the state of Naruto's mind…"

"For what reason…?" Sasuke demanded.

"To see if any of this was avoidable, if the outcome could have been different. Maybe prevent the suspect dying." Ibiki ground out.

"Do you think that Naruto intentionally killed him out of vengeance? Do you really believe that he would do something like that?"

"The suspect is dead…"

"I can't believe this. Naruto…"

"Naruto can be consumed by anger," Ibiki stated. "Ahh, I see you have witnessed this side to him…"

"That doesn't make him a murderer as you seem to be making him out to be."

"I just want to know his state of mind so that I can help him. Orochimaru was just as prominent as Jiraiya and I don't want there to be any doubt about Naruto's intentions or actions."

"Naruto's rage was directed at Kabuto and not Orochimaru. He didn't gun him down, in fact, Naruto missed when he shot at Orochimaru. His hand was shaking and he was probably suffering from the effects of shock." Sasuke stated, eyeing the linoleum intently.

"Thank you." Ibiki replied. Sasuke nodded, but didn't lift his head. He didn't want anyone to see that he was crying.

"Sasuke?" Itachi whispered and placed his hand on his bowed head.

~CALM~

**Day Eighteen**

The waiting room had taken on a slight chill during the night freezing the occupants to the bone. Sasuke wanted to believe that chill was due to the weather and not the cold settling into their hearts, but he wasn't delusional. He was sparkling clear in thought; his mind working through everything that happened with a detached clarity. He had worked through everything in the timeline of events, but the Namikaze's still eluded him. He was anxious to know what had happened to them so his dobe could be at peace.

His attention was brought away from his ruminations as the nurse stepped into the cold room. She smiled kindly as the Dr. followed behind her. "Sasuke Uchiha?" She asked.

He stared dumbfounded wondering why they would ask for him. "Yes," He croaked.

"Mr. Uzumaki is awake and asking for you."

"The surgery…?" Sasuke asked releasing the breath he wasn't aware he had been holding.

"He came through it wonderfully." The Dr. replied.

"So he's going to be ok?"

"He'll be just fine."

A smile blossomed on his face as relief rushed into his being. He stood up; wobbling from his prolonged seated position, and followed the nurse into the ICU room. He paused to eye Naruto critically.

Naruto turned to stare at him with a huge smile lighting his face as Sasuke walked inside. His leg was bandaged and propped high as he lied back against the bed in utter boredom. Sasuke chuckled at the thought of Naruto being immobile for the next few days. Now he would be able to catch up to him. "How are you feeling, dobe?"

"Better, now that you are here to keep me company."

"And how would you like me to keep you company?" Sasuke asked slyly. Naruto smirked and patted the right side of his bed and away from his injured leg. Sasuke nodded and sank into his right side allowing Naruto's head to fall to his shoulder. "I'm glad you're ok." Sasuke whispered, kissing his temple.

"I'm glad you're ok too, teme. I was worried there that we wouldn't make it out alive."

"We did though and that is all that matters."

"I killed a guy though." Naruto muttered softly his hand opening palm wide in front of his face. "I never had to do that before, had never wanted to before. I was always able to talk them down..."

"Dobe, there was no way of talking them down. He would have killed us without hesitation, you know that. Even after he got what he wanted he still threatened us."

"Hmm, I don't like that I was the result of his death though. It doesn't matter how sick and twisted they are. Now he can never be tried for his crimes."

"I don't have a problem with that. In my opinion he got what he deserved..." Sasuke replied stiffly.

"You can't mean that?" Naruto asked in surprise sitting forward and staring at Sasuke.

"You don't agree dobe?" Sasuke quirked an eyebrow, questioning.

"No, I don't. It would only be fair and deserved if he was tried by a jury of his peers. He wasn't and can never be convicted *."

"Well, that's ok, because I know the truth. He's gone and can't harm anyone else."

"Maybe?" Naruto sighed, deflating against Sasukes chest. This was a discussion better left for a different day. "I want to talk to Kabuto as soon as I can. I have questions that only he can answer now."

"I think that could be arranged, but I won't let you do it alone. Wherever you go I will be right there next to you."

"I expected nothing less from you." Naruto whispered, threading his fingers with Sasukes'.

~CALM~

**Day Twenty**

Naruto was released from the hospital two days later as the rising sun cast streaks of pink and orange and red hues to swim across the horizon. Naruto sat down heavily in the chair exhausted from the walk from the elevators to where his desk was. It felt strange for him to be back at his desk in Konohagakure waiting to interview a suspect again. It finally hit him in that moment: it would be the last thing he did as a Federal detective. He would have to resign officially and clear out his desk. A sense of sadness invaded his heart at the loss. He really did enjoy being a detective.

He exhaled and grabbed at the name plate on his desk, picking it up as he waited for Sasuke to return with the tea. Naruto was grateful that he was giving him a moment alone to reflect the demise of one career and the budding of another. He looked up to see that Chief Tsunade had arrived with her detectives, all of them staring in awe of the building. Naruto chuckled at their reaction remembering the first day he stepped foot inside. He was only 11.

"Who's at the precinct?" He asked curiously, wondering why she would seemingly leave Konoha unprotected.

"Kakashi stayed behind. He wanted to watch over the new hires there."

Naruto laughed softly just imagining Kakashi with new recruits. His smile froze and slid into a frown when he noticed Shikamaru leaning on his crutches looking anywhere but at him.

Shikamaru exhaled nervously and turned to witness as blue eyes swept over him seemingly to size him up. He felt a trickle of fear tingle his spine as Naruto made no move to speak.

"Sasuke said that you were at the hospital, yet you didn't visit me, Shikamaru. Not even once to see for your own eyes that I was ok."

Shikamaru flinched as if struck, but Naruto's tone wasn't acidic or barbed. In fact it was calm and questioning, tinged with a deep-seated hurt. How could he explain when he couldn't understand himself why he didn't visit his friend?

"Naru…" He started, his voice expressing the pain and uncertainty that he felt.

"Shikamaru, there is no doubt that your actions have hurt me and I never would have believed that you were capable of something so…so…cowardly. Why, why would you do it?"

Shikamaru swallowed the lump in his throat, casting his eyes off to the side, unable to look his friend in the eye. He didn't have to be a genius to know that Naruto was no longer talking about visiting him in the hospital. But for a genius he sure felt stupid. He didn't know what Naruto was pissed off about.

"I don't understand?" He admitted.

"You don't?" Naruto asked, his voice quivering with an unknown emotion.

"Naruto…" Neji started, but stopped when Naruto pinned him with a glare.

"I don't know…" Shikamaru whispered.

"What was your promise to Jiraiya about?" He asked quietly.

Shikamaru's head shot up, his eyes widening. Of course, how could he not think that this would be the source of Naruto's rage! It was simple really; he never thought Naruto would find out.

"Who told you about that?" His voice wavered and he had a sinking feeling Naruto wouldn't tell him who.

"Is that as important as to explaining yourself?" Naruto bit. It was apparent to Shikamaru that Naruto was still angry, so angry that he didn't care that he was calling him out in front of everyone. And yet, he hadn't come out and said what it was exactly either. He didn't know if he should be thankful for this small courtesy; he definitely deserved worse.

"I was jealous and envious." He whispered out.

"There was no reason to be!" Naruto exclaimed. Shikamaru flinched again. "What did you have to be envious of?"

"Everything. Do you not see it, Naruto?"

"All I see is you and what you've done." He hissed.

"Do you not see how perfectly you weaved yourself into so many lives…even when they started off by pushing you away? You can get the most stubborn person to capitulate. You sought them out after you found them, but you never extended the same courtesy to me! How could I not be jealous or envious? Why wasn't I good enough for you?"

"For a genius you really are pathetically stupid. I told you before that I was waiting for you, so why didn't you bring yourself to chase me? What was wrong with me?"

Shikamaru was shocked by Naruto's statement and he felt anger flare inside him. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with you!"

"Then explain it to me? Why did I have to be the one to chase you? If you wanted to be with me that you would resort to that…why, explain it to me?"

Shikamaru snapped his jaw shut with an audible click, gritting his teeth as he gripped the crutches in his grasp tightly. How could he explain it? His neck burned with the shame he felt, every inch of his skin tingling at knowing he was being stared at from every direction.

"I can't."

"I thought as much." Naruto growled and shot from his chair, limping towards Sasuke who had walked into the room with two cups of tea in his hands. He paused to stare, but wisely kept his comments to himself. Naruto looked pissed and he did not want to be on the receiving end; not after what he witnessed.

"Are you happy now, Uchiha?" Shikamaru asked without looking at him. Sasuke dropped the two cups of tea as he reached out and grabbed Naruto who turned to yell. His hand came up and covered his mouth as he pulled Naruto into his chest.

"Are you stupid, Nara?" Sasuke hissed.

"I think that you got what you wanted, are you happy?" He asked turning to stare. Naruto struggled against Sasuke's hold, but he wasn't budging an inch in keeping the dobe quiet, even whispering in his ear to 'STOP'. Naruto stopped in his struggling, his eyes glaring at Shikamaru.

"I'm happy that I have Naruto, yes; there is no doubt about that. But you need to realize that I wouldn't have been competition if you wouldn't have 'fucked' up. That was your own doing and was nothing to do with me. I wasn't the one that told you to stay away, that was Jiraiya. You had every opportunity and you squandered it. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time." He rubbed Narutos shoulders comfortingly, releasing his mouth if there was something he wanted to say. He wanted to give him that chance, but he remained blissfully quiet.

Naruto turned around in Sasuke's hold, trying to hide the tears that wished to fall. He couldn't bear to look at Shikamaru right now without the urge to throttle him. "Let's go, please?" He whispered to Sasuke.

Shikamaru watched him turn, his heart sinking. He couldn't let it, no wouldn't, let it end like this. Naruto may never speak to him again and he wouldn't live like that. "I'm sorry, Naruto." It was the last thing he could offer.

Naruto stopped, sighing as tears fell from his eyes. Sasuke gripped his shoulder, rubbing circles with his thumb. "I know Shikamaru, I know." Naruto made his way from his office and down the hallway before turning shimmering eyes to Sasuke. He laughed sadly rubbing at the tracks of his salty tears.

"I take it that means you've forgiven him?" Sasuke questioned, not surprised in the least.

"Yeah, teme, I forgive him." Sasuke nodded, his hand coming up to rub at the salty tracks. Naruto turned to stare out the window his forehead wrinkling with concern. Sasuke crabbed his chin, turning his head to look at him, before leaning in for a kiss. It was soft and gentle and didn't last long, but it was exactly what he needed in that moment.

"Thanks, I needed that."

"Anytime." Sasuke whispered, smiling.

Naruto inhaled a deep breath and turned, freezing at seeing the Senator's staring at the two of them. Mei was grinning, eyes raking over Sasuke and deciding that, yes, he did indeed look like a mini Itachi with a strange haircut. But Naruto wasn't looking at her; he was looking at Gaara who was standing there deadly quiet.

"Dobe?" Sasuke asked. "Is there a problem?"

"Not really, teme." Naruto sighed and leaned into him for comfort. Gaara stiffened imperceptibly betraying no emotion, but Naruto knew better. He felt badly using Sasuke that way, but if he didn't show everyone who he wanted to be with there would be no end…not from Shikamaru or Gaara or even Neji who still looked at him with want. He was taken by someone that truly loved him and who he loved just as equally and he would be damned if he ever let him go!

"The suspect is here, Naruto." Chief Sarutobi replied as he walked towards them. "When you are ready…"

~CALM~

Shikamaru stared at the wall refusing to look at anyone. It seemed they were too nervous to speak, except for Genma who could never contain his curiosity. "What did you do to him?"

"I would rather not talk about it." Shikamaru growled, hobbling his way to his own desk and sitting down with a thump. He couldn't stomach to look at the desk next to his, to know that he betrayed his partner in the worst way possible. And what was more was the fact that it was all unnecessary.

"I think I would like to talk about it." Neji replied anger rising within him.

"Fine, but not right now, please." Shikamaru sighed, not even looking at him…could he even call him a lover now?

"Soon." Shikamaru nodded, his head resting in his hands.

~CALM~

Tsunade, Chief Sarutobi, and the Senators looked on from the other side of the two-way mirror as Naruto and Sasuke took a seat across from Kabuto.

"That color looks horrible on you." Sasuke sneered as he took in Kabuto's red prison garb.

"Is that why you are here? To rag on my apparel?"

"Hardly."

"I have a few questions, will you answer them?" Naruto asked, being overly polite. Kabuto turned to look at him as he pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.

"It depends on the questions."

"Fair enough. What do you know of my shooting?" Naruto indicated his shoulder, his hand resting there as if to guard it from any further harm.

"I know a considerable amount about it." Kabuto muttered settling into the back of his chair.

"Mizuki shot me, didn't he?" Kabuto nodded as Naruto exhaled. "But you were there; you were the one behind me on the landing? You were going to shoot Mizuki?"

"You seem to have it figured out so why do you need answers from me?"

"Why were you going to shoot Mizuki? Wouldn't it have been easier to bump me off instead?" Naruto asked softly.

"You were never supposed to be there, but you couldn't leave well enough alone and went to the crime scene, scaring poor Mizuki half to death. He wasn't expecting to see you there so he panicked and attempted to shoot you. I tried to stop him, but you were caught in the cross fire. For that blunder alone, Orochimaru decided he had to be rid of Mizuki; Gato was a bonus; especially after he blundered at the police station. Really, using his own attorney to represent Mizuki?

"You're lying." Naruto stated, his eyes burning with anger. His gut was clenching at the lies spilling from Kabutos mouth.

"Am I?" Kabuto laughed.

"You planned to shoot Mizuki before I ever arrived there?" Kabuto narrowed his eyes, but remained quiet; listening. "Mizuki didn't panic seeing us enter the building. He was already inside. You lured him there to murder him, but why?

"You have an interesting theory there, Senator." Kabutos lips quirked upwards in a smirk, but his eyes crackled with intensity. This boy was very perceptive and the Uchiha was no different. His eyes raked over Sasuke who sat protectively close to Naruto.

"You cannot be prosecuted for planning Mizuki's death now that he is deceased; that is, unless you were the one to pull the trigger." Naruto replied.

Kabuto burst out in laughter, staring at the two men sitting on the other side of the table. "You are amusing, Senator, but I'll play." He smirked at the affect his words caused on Naruto who shivered at the memories that rose with the utterance of that word.

"I didn't kill him or Gato. That was not my handiwork. So I'll admit that I had fully intended to murder Mizuki that day. The only thing that spared him was your arrival, a more pressing concern to be sure."

"I see," He whispered asking again. "And the reason you planned to murder Mizuki?"

"I thought you had that figured out Senator?"

"Do you always do as you are told?" Sasuke interrupted.

"Ahh, so you speak. I was beginning to think you had gone mute." Kabuto laughed. "Orochimaru ordered me to handle Mizuki, yes."

"And did he order you to cut me?" Naruto asked. Kabutos smile faltered. "I mean, you were young, barely older than ten or eleven and yet you were involved with his criminal activities."

"He rescued me; there was nothing that I wouldn't do for him. Can you understand that, Senator?"

"Yes, Jiraiya was the one to rescue me and you felt it necessary to deprive me of him."

"I didn't kill him." Kabuto sat forward in his chair, pushing his glasses up his nose.

"But you knew of it and that makes you an accessory after the fact. It's a crime punishable as if you were the one to pull the trigger yourself."

"And you were the one to murder Orochimaru."

Naruto leaned forward in his chair. "In my defense, he did take us hostage, aided and abetted by you; extorted me for money, ransomed us off, and threatened to kill Sasuke and me. Oh, and did I forget to mention that he shot me? Yes, I think that I was within my rights to defend myself."

"That is what you feel…"

"It's what the law feels." Sasuke replied.

"Huh, is that all?" Kabuto asked leaning back in his seat and away from them.

"No. I want to know what happened to my parents."

"I couldn't tell you."

"I think you're lying."

"Am I now?"

"Yes, you know what happened to them so tell me."

Kabuto looked at Naruto with a grin on his face. Naruto grit his teeth hating that he was being played with.

"I don't know what happened to them after you ran off. I was chasing you right up until you ran into the arms of a woman." Kabuto paused to stare at Sasuke now the smirk growing on his face. "You were protective of him even then and you had just met."

"Hn." Sasuke snorted, grabbing Naruto's hand in his squeezing tight.

"So you won't tell me?" Naruto asked.

"I can't tell you because I don't know. I didn't bother to ask."

Naruto ground his teeth and stood abruptly. He walked to the door and gripped the handle turning back and looking at Kabuto who was shaking in laughter.

"So you won't tell me?" Naruto tried one more time.

"You murdered Orochimaru." Kabuto hissed. Blue eyes stared at the ceiling before throwing over his shoulder.

"I didn't shoot Orochimaru. The bullet that killed him came from your gun." Kabuto's face drained of color before he exploded in a fit of rage, yelling that Naruto was a liar. Sasuke reached around Naruto and pulled the door open. They walked out into the hallway, Naruto breathing deeply to calm himself. He didn't have to do that…he knew he was being vindictive, but Kabuto knew what happened to his parents and he wasn't going to talk. He wanted to hurt him as much as he was hurting. It didn't make him feel better though, in fact he felt worse for sinking to their level. It didn't make it any less true though. Kabuto had unknowingly killed Orochimaru.

"Dobe, don't feel badly telling him that." Sasuke soothed.

"I was being vindictive, teme. I know I'm better than that."

"You are angry and hurt. I won't give up looking; you know that, right?"

"I feel them so close and yet they're not. Why won't he tell me?"

"Because he is being selfish and only thinking of his best interests; not to mention he is psychotic."

Naruto nodded in agreement before limping his way down the hallway. This case was driving him insane! Nothing about it made sense to him anymore. He could piece most of it together, but there were loose ends that couldn't be explained: like the survey Zabuza performed for Gato. He couldn't fathom how it fit in. He couldn't understand why they would plan to murder Mizuki or why he was even lured to the building in the first place. Why there? Everything seemed to point to the building itself, but he couldn't discern how or why?

It wasn't until he reached the door to his office that he froze in his tracks. His eyes widened and he felt his knees buckle with realization as bile rose in his throat. Oh, god he knew it had to be true! Sasuke reached out to grab him, to slow his descent so he wouldn't hit the floor hard.

"Naruto?" Sasuke demanded, kneeling down next to his silent form. Naruto covered his mouth as a wave of nausea hit strong and he grabbed at the waste bin just in time. He spat into the bin as he dry-heaved, Sasuke rubbing circles into his back. He was thankful that he really hadn't eaten this morning.

"What happened?" Mei asked, rushing to kneel next to Sasuke and Naruto as everyone was rooted to the spot.

"We don't know…he just collapsed." Kiba muttered his brow knit in concern. He kept his distance though, not wanting to interfere with Sasuke or crowd Naruto too much.

"Dobe?" Sasuke whispered.

Naruto leaned back into Sasukes hold and turned to bury his face in the crook of his neck, whispering for his ears only. "There was no reason to kill Jiraiya, teme. All the evidence he had was circumstantial and the statute of limitations would have expired on anything he had. I know Jiraiya lured him there because of the ransom letter, but Orochimaru had nothing to fear unless he was hiding something there. He had plans to halt the demolition, even going so far as to have Gato prepare estimates. When he realized the price he must have been angry; I mean if he was having problems coming up with money for his research where was he going to get the money to buy the building back? Jiraiya was a convenience for him, a crime of opportunity."

"Dobe, what are you saying?"

"Orochimaru didn't want the building torn down, because he didn't want his crime to be found out. They're there Sasuke. My Mom and Dad are in that building. Your Dad found out and he was murdered because of it."

Sasuke gripped Naruto tightly as he cried into his shoulder, any hope he held for his parent's safe return shattered into a million pieces. All Sasuke could say was that he was sorry; all he could do was repeat it as everyone stared at them, unaware.

~CALM~

**Day Twenty One**

Naruto stood out in the snow staring at the building before him. He could make out movement behind the grungy glass, but what lied behind was a mystery to him. He had been barred from entering and truth be told, didn't want to be in there.

Snowflakes swirled around him some landing on his neck and causing him to shiver violently. So many people had gathered outside, held back only by dedicated Konohagakure officers and yellow tape. So many people had flooded the small town at the news, but Naruto only felt hollow inside. He felt as cold as the stone of the building he stood staring at, taking a beating from the lashing arctic winds. Winter had descended early on the citizens of Konoha bathing the city in winter white.

He wasn't aware when it started, but he felt hot tracks slide down his cheeks and it only intensified the frozen feeling inside. There was something serenely uplifting and abysmally sad about the first snowfall of the season. The joy of seeing it for the first time; pure white and glistening, the soft sound it made as it laid on the frozen terra. Then the downside as it became sullied by the dirtiness of the world, losing its pure luster and becoming dull the longer it lay on the ground. That's how he felt his life was like at this moment; like the bittersweet first snowfall.

He continued to stare ahead, a mixture of emotions swirling deep within his heart. A part of him hoped that it wouldn't be anything in there and another part hoped that it would be the end, that he could finally have closure. Naruto started when he felt fabric slide over the back of his neck to embrace him with a comforting heat. He turned blue eyes on the dark man standing next to him, suddenly feeling warmer than he had.

He didn't say a word as he turned back to the building, but he squeezed the hand that clasped his in appreciation. He heard the shutters of many cameras flutter rapidly, but he was beyond caring. They had been snapping away ever since he came forward and revealed himself as their Senator; but they were not what mattered most, not today. His heart gave a horrible lurch as the doors pushed open, revealing to him what they had discovered…

~CALM~

Tsunade stared at the gaping hole in the concrete, stunned by what she was looking at. There was a moment of silence as it really hit home to everyone what had happened here. Tears sprang anew as the CSI's continued the removal process only pausing to dry their eyes when the tears blurred their vision irreparably. It wouldn't be long now. Shizune shifted slightly next to her, overseeing the process diligently. Tears were glistening in her eyes as well.

"They didn't deserve this, Tsunade…Naruto didn't deserve this." She lamented.

"No, they didn't. This was cruel and by someone they trusted; we all trusted." Tsunade agreed, looking on the remains of the late Governor and his Senator wife. She was anxious to have them out of the cold concrete even though she knew they were beyond feeling now.

Shizune moved forward as soon as the last piece of concrete was moved away and began the process of removing the remains onto the waiting gurney. It would be a time-consuming process, but one she was ready to handle. There was a boy waiting to bring his parent's home and she would not fail him.

~calm~

It took just over two hours to complete the extraction, the CSI's excavating quickly but thoroughly. Shizune rose for the final time and pulled the zipper closed on the bags. With shimmering eyes she turned to the Chief and nodded. The gurneys were wheeled to the door, pushing open to the flash of cameras and a flood of shocked people. None was as shocked as the blonde haired, blue-eyed man, who looked nothing more than a sad little boy in that moment.

Naruto squeezed Sasukes hand tightly watching the doors push open. His heart was beating erratically as the gurneys were wheeled out, the press clicking away madly; the din of the shocked media as they relayed the unfolding events as fast as they could. But none of that mattered to Naruto. All that mattered to him was what lay inside the bags being lifted into the back of the coroners van.

Without a word Naruto limped forward, Sasuke following close behind, never releasing his grasp from his. From the corner of his eye Sasuke saw the detectives of his own precinct salute their passing; not mourning for Naruto, but with him; and honoring the memory of his parents.

~CALM~

Naruto never thought that he would find himself back in the cemetery so soon, living the nightmare over again of having to bury the ones that he loved. Yet, that was where he was found, one week to the day of the horrifying discovery in that cursed building, burying his parents beside his grandfather. The city had taken immediate action and torn the place down, erecting a small memorial overnight to honor their passing. Next to Minatos and Kushinas names were Fugakus, Mikotos, and Jiraiyas names. Their memories honored for the secret they discovered and died for.

Naruto felt an unbelievable weight lift off his shoulders. Yes, he was sad, but deep down he was happy to finally have his family resting in peace. That was what he wanted from the beginning. He looked down at the warm pressure on his knee. His tan hand came to rest on top of the other, intertwining fingers with the ivory hand of the other. He only pulled away long enough to receive the two folded flags, one each for his parents, before his hand resumed its former position. Naruto's other hand roamed, as far as it could reach in its sling, over the flags in his lap as the guns sounded off, causing him to jump like he had for Jiraiya.

He was conscious of the people moving from their seats as soon as the caskets lowered into the ground, but he remained and so Sasuke remained by his side. His hand was still roaming over the flag, stalling for time. He didn't want to let go yet.

"Dobe…" Sasuke whispered gently. "Take your time."

Naruto nodded softly, tears forming in his eyes before he could stop them. They fell with tiny splashes, landing on the stiff fabric folded expertly in his lap. Instantly, there was a hand there to wipe them away.

"Dobe." He whispered again.

"They're gone." Naruto choked out. "All of them. They left me alone."

"Not willingly. How could they when they had you?"

"Why, Sasuke; why?" Naruto begged blue eyes rimmed with puffy red.

"I don't know." Sasuke answered quietly. That was one thing he would never understand; why?

Naruto sat in silence letting his tears work their way out of his system. "You know, deep down I held this hope that they were alive somewhere, trying desperately to return to me." He muttered bitterly, revealing his deepest wish with condemnation. "How stupid is that?"

"I don't find it stupid at all, Naruto. I know that wish very well, the many countless times that I willed it to be true for me."

"It's not fair, teme." Naruto cried.

"No, it isn't."

"I just want them back!" He exclaimed.

"I know." Sasuke muttered sadly, pulling Naruto into a tight embrace. Tears danced in his onyx eyes, falling into blonde hair. This he could understand; the longing to have your parents. Still, there were days when he woke up, believing that he was that seven-year old boy and that his Mom and Dad were down stairs waiting to greet him with hot pancakes. He knew that hurt and he knew that it would be held in the heart of the man who he loved while he lived; never truly going away, only hiding.

"I think we need to go, dobe. The sun is setting, it's snowing and you have friends that are waiting for you."

Naruto nodded stiffly and stood up. He stepped towards the covered graves pulling Sasuke along with him, staring at the trio of headstones.

"Dobe?" Sasuke asked softly, questioning.

"I don't want to leave them here."

"You're not; really. It's ok to leave, dobe, because you carry them with you every day, here." Sasuke placed his hand over Narutos heart feeling the beat under his fingertips. "That is what truly matters."

Naruto grabbed at the necklace around his neck, squeezing it tightly in his palm. "Yeah." He agreed sadly staring at the headstones. He pulled Sasuke forward, forcing him to kneel in front of the grave markers. "Mom, Dad, Jiraiya; this is Sasuke. He is the man that I will spend the rest of my life with. I'm sorry you never got the chance to meet him, but he treats me right."

"Naruto…" Sasuke felt touched by his words, his heart melting at the thought.

"I love you, teme."

Sasuke stalled staring at Naruto in wonderment. Smirking, Sasuke grabbed his hand and pulled him away, but instead of leading him to the small group of shivering people gathered around the black limos, Naruto was led deeper in to the cemetery. Slightly confused until they stopped in front of a crypt, Narutos eyes alighted on the name: UCHIHA.

"My entire family is buried here, dobe." Sasuke led him inside, pausing in front of his parents plaques. "Mother-Father, this is Naruto. I know you'll remember him from when he was three. It has taken us years to meet again, but we have and he is the only one for me."

"I'm sorry." Naruto whispered, touched by Sasukes words but also horribly depressed as well.

"What are you sorry for, dobe?"

"I'm the reason that your Mom and Dad are…" He sniffled.

"No, you're not. They knew what they were getting into; they decided the risk was worth it."

"Why don't you hate me?"

"I can't find fault with a three-year old boy."

"I'm not three anymore."

"No, you're not, and you didn't force my parents to do what they did. They did it on their own, knowing that they had children that depended on them. I can't fault you when I know that I would have risked everything too, Naruto? I'd risk everything for you."

"Really?" He asked sadly, refusing to look up from the ground.

"I love you too." Sasuke whispered, causing blue eyes to shoot up in confusion. "Did you really think that I wouldn't?"

"I thought…"

"The trouble I went through to get you and you think that I would abandon you so easily because of our families' connection? You really are a dobe." He laughed.

Naruto grit his teeth in slight anger. "You're such a bastard."

"That isn't anything new, dobe. Now let's go home and get warm." Naruto readily agreed, walking next to Sasuke as he led him back to the anxious group. Naruto hid a small smile as he watched the close proximity of Kakashi and Iruka, the two trying to hide the sparks flying between them. There seemed to be a new distance between Neji and Shikamaru, but he would fix that. They wouldn't know what hit them.

Naruto grabbed up Sasukes hand in his, slipping into the limo and the comforting warmth it provided. He was followed in by all his friends who surrounded him. He truly appreciated how much they did for him and his family. Naruto smiled at the sudden peace that descended over him as he looked at his friends and Sasuke. He didn't feel that alone anymore as the limo pulled away from the cemetery.

~**END**~


So that's story number two completed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this until the end. I hope it was suspenseful enough and not at all transparent. Thank you for the reviews, alerts, and favorites; I enjoyed receiving them. :D

I also have another story that I want to type out, but it is only in the planning stages right now. I can say that it will be more light-hearted; positively sunny compared to these two, and should be a lot of fun to write. :D

AN: *About Naruto's and Sasuke's opinions on such matters, they don't reflect my personal views at all. I have very strong opinions about the death penalty (and justice in general) which I won't get into on here lest I incur the wrath of those that disagree. If you should be interested to know my views please ask and I will be willing to share them with you even if you disagree.