Hi~ My name is Gabe. Uh, this is a fanfic I started up like a year ago and I never really got around to finishing it. I stumbled across it in my documents the other day and thought I might as well post it. Who knows, if some people like it I may end up working on it some more :-3. So yeah. Read, review, whatever. Also, I do not own Naruto or anything like that. Wassup wit it.


"Sasuke!"

The demonic howl reverberated throughout the typically placid valley. At the screech, a cluster of crows quickly took to the gathering clouds, fleeing under the premonition of coming destruction. They had stuck around despite the initial ravaging of their home done by the two figures who stood facing each other, one lurching over the stone foot on the esteemed First Hokage, the other one idly loitering on the treacherous Madara Uchiha's. The first, a spiky haired boy in an orange and blue jump suit, was encompassed in a bubbling shroud of gleaming red, the ethereal aura giving off nothing by malicious vibes. A lone tail jutted out of the cloak of chakra, and that, in conjunction with the sharp nails and teeth of the boy, depicted the image of a feral beast, the great fox of legend, much like the one suppressed within the yellow-haired lad. The brooding boy opposite of the Jinchuriki had dead looking gray skin and long, dark hair lazily hanging from his head. Upon his face there four-sided star, resting just below his eyes, staring ahead with a tantalizing gaze. A mere glance into those eyes would stop most men dead in their tracks. A blazing red with three tomoe arranged in a triangular fashion, his ocular devices looked forward with murderous intent. To top it all off, there were two hand-like wings gently protruding from the Uchiha's back, lifting him ever so slightly off the ground. Hovering there in solitude, he simply regarded his former teammate with a face of contempt.

"Sasuke, you bastard! I'll ask you of this one last time, come back to Konoha with me willingly or I'll drag you back, inch by inch!" As he shouted this, Naruto's chakra tail slowly whipped back and forth, twitching with unseen power. The steady, deliberate pace of this flicker contrasted greatly with the edge he had to his body, the anticipation of what was about to occur between the two comrades, the two friends, the two brothers.

Sasuke just chuckled. His singsong voice rumbled out of his throat with ease, much like an eerie purr. "Naruto, you dobe. Do you honestly think you can force me back? You're a loser, a nobody, a dead last failure. My heritage alone is enough to put your sorry ass to shame." He paused. "You should consider yourself honored, your death will be the first stepping stone as I transcend into greatness. After I kill you, I'll obtain my Mangekyo Sharingan, then I'll hunt down Ita-"

"Dammit Sasuke, shut the hell up with that rubbish! I told you, that was your last warning", Naruto growled, "Now it looks like I'll just have to knock some sense into you."Slowly, chakra began to spiral around in Naruto's palm. The blue chakra of the ball and the red chakra of the cloak coalesced, forming a perfect purple sphere. A gentle humming instantly became integrated into the portrait that was unfolding between the two, the result of the jutsu. Standing there, Naruto tensed his body as he prepared to launch himself towards Sasuke.

"Hn."

That simple, two-letter phrase said so little, yet told so much. It was the personification of the catalyst in their relationship – the fact that both boys, so use to a grueling lonesome, fell into such a perfect, mutuality harmony. They could communicate, could convey their feelings through nothing more than a effortless 'hn'. It resulted in a sense of kinship each had inwardly wished for during all of their ailments, all of the scrutiny and pain they endured. Presented to them on a silver platter like it was, it was so surreal, so terrifyingly surreal neither wanted to acknowledge that it existed. That they cared.

Sasuke felt a current run through his body. His hand exploded into an electrical mass of chakra, the color quickly turning black and white, tainted by the sinister chakra emitted from the curse seal on the boy's neck. The wail of a thousand birds entered the scene as well, clashing with the indissoluble drone that the other boy has brought to the table.

"Rasengan!"

"Chidori!"

Time seemed to slow down as the two friends flew towards each other, the powerful roar of a waterfall echoing behind them. Right before the two forces collided, a second tail erupted from Naruto's miasmic cloak, quickly followed up by a third. Sasuke's eyes read the sudden escalation of chakra within Naruto, but he was flying too quickly to avoid contact. It seemed impossible. How? Why? No matter what he did, Naruto always seemed to miraculously conjure some marvel. His eyes widened as the Rasengan increased in both size and strength – right before slamming straight through his Chidori and scraping his chest. Sasuke was thrown back by the blunt force of the attack, making a considerable crater in the knee of Madara's statue.

As the Rasengan dissolved in Naruto's hand after sending Sasuke spiraling back, the vile, pent up Kyubi chakra exploded, knocking the boy back into Hashirama's statue. The sheer heinous power behind it was too much for the weak body of its container to bear. The blast from the Rasengan formed a giant cloud of excess chakra. The patches slowly wandered down into the valley, lingering. This giant eruption caught the attention of a certain Konoha shinobi who was desperately racing to stop his two subordinates fight before it could escalate to the level it just did.

"Shit!" Kakashi groaned as he realized what the source of the blast was. With even more resolve and hast, the gray-haired ninja set off in the direction of the Valley of the End, with his nin-dog Pakkun trailing right behind him.

"The Valley of the End, eh? Seems sort of fitting for the two. Don'tcha think, Kakashi?" Pakkun said, trying to keep Kakashi's mind off of dreading the upcoming sight too much.

All the dog got in response was a curt nod of the head. Evidentially, Kakashi's mind was too preoccupied for such small talk. A few more minutes flew by in a deafening silence, and the two came to a halt as they stumbled onto the scene that, mere moments ago, was a battlefield for two brothers. Kakashi's single visible eye quickly widened as he slowly made his way towards the two statues that ominously hung over the now still lake, trying to make out the scene shrouded in the clouds of chakra.

To the left, Sasuke was lying in a bloodied heap, his chest slightly torn open. Blood poured out without relent, forming a boundless depth of the irony liquid around him. He had chakra burns all around the central wound, which was in the shape of a spiral. Kakashi quickly ran over to his student and, using the very scarce medical ninjutsu knowledge he possessed, tried to patch up the gaping wound as best as he could.

Pakkun had ran to the opposite side, where Naruto sat down, sprawled over the base of the Hashirama's foot. Pakkun could quickly tell the boy was unconscious and completely exhausted due to taping into the Kyubi's power. He had very minor wounds and his right hand looked demolished, burnt and battered due to the burning sensation of power the Kyubi had leaked into Naruto's Rasengan. However, he wasn't in any mortal danger, and with some medical attention and rest, he would be fine within a week or two. Assessing the situation as fine, the dog hopped over to Kakashi, who cradled a severely beat up Sasuke.

"Pakkun, quickly, make your way back to Konoha. Tell Tsunade-sama to dispatch a team of medical ninjas. I'll set up a camp just west of here in the forest, and attend to these two as best as I can." With a quick look at Sasuke, Kakashi added, "I don't think he'll last much longer… Go Pakkun, we haven't a second to waste."

With a grim nod, Pakkun sped off back to Konoha, praying that the Uchiha would last long enough to be helped. Pakkun took off. Kakashi set up a crude camp right where he indicated he would. Minutes later, the rain began to fall.

Naruto slowly regained consciousness as small droplets of rain pelted his face. He looked around him quietly, his mind still clouded. The knuckle-head ninja had a weird feeling that something important just transpired, but couldn't quite put his finger on it… Shrugging that odd feeling off, Naruto went to get up. As he lifted himself off the ground, he winced in pain.

"Owwww! Gah, why does my body ache so much?"

Naruto shivered as his body was quickly chilled due to the abundance of rain. "Man, what I'd give for some Ichiraku's right now…" Then he noticed Kakashi sitting atop a boulder to his right. Kakashi hadn't seemed to notice Naruto's awakening, so Naruto clumsily ran up to him.

"Oi, Kakashi-sensei! Boy, my body hurts like hell! Where are w-"

Naruto's rambling was quickly cut short as his sensei whipped around in surprise at the boy's voice. Despite the man's typically aloof manner, one look at the man and anyone could see he was visibly upset. The notion of anyone being able to sense his distress was apparent, for even the ever so dense Naruto could tell something was amiss. Silently, the hot-headed shinobi made his way up onto the boulder, and gracelessly plopped himself down next to his teacher.

They both sat there for a second, not saying anything. The memories of his and Sasuke's fight came creeping back into Naruto's mind as he noticed his comrade's fragile form just a few feet away, back at the temporary camp that had been struck up. This realization dawning on him, Naruto couldn't help but turn to Kakashi and scream "Kakashi! What the hell happened between Sasuke and I?! Is he okay? I let the Nine-Tails chakra empower me, and he was all weird-looking and we clashed and then-"

Kakashi cut him off. "Naruto, it's alright. Sasuke will be fine. Any second now, a group of medical ninja should arrive. You pressed him quite hard. I'm surprised he's hanging on in the state he's in. Hell, I'm surprised you're fine. Just two hours ago, you were completely knocked out and that your right hand of yours was torn up."

Naruto seemed a bit relived that he hadn't killed his best friend, but, in his worry, couldn't help but ask, "D-does this mean he'll… return to Konoha?"

Kakashi sighed. "I don't know, Naruto, I don't know… We'll take him back, obviously. He needs dire medical attention if he wants to survive without any lingering ailments. But after that, what's to stop him from picking up and leaving again?"

Kakashi's words flew around in his head for a bit and then-


Blue eyes flashed open, and a spiky bundle of yellow hair flung up in a hurried, panic-like manner. Naruto sat up in his bed, a cold sweat working its way down his face. A few drops fell onto his sheets as he hung his head down in thought. He looked to the sleeping figure on the other bed in the room. He saw his master's wild, porcupine-like snow white hair wildly sprawled about. He was muttering something along the lines of, "Ow! Tsunade-chaaaaaaan, I wasn't peeping! I was just – dammit you flat-chested whore that hurt, OW THAT HURT EVEN MORE – I was, erm, just doing some, uh, research! Yeah, research. I'm an accomplished author you know, I need to find my inspiration somehow…" Blah blah blah. Naruto couldn't help but smirk at his perverted sensei's perverted dreams running around in his perverted head. His face took on a more serious expression as his dream re-entered his thoughts.

It's nearly been four years sense then…

Naruto's thoughts wandered back to what happened after the medi-nin discovered their make-shift camp and, after dealing with Sasuke's major wounds, set off towards Konoha…


A groan escaped Sasuke's lips as he finally came back to his senses. It was midday. Nearly a full day had passed since Naruto and Sasuke's fateful encounter.

As the noise emitted from Sasuke's throat, he found five pairs of eyes staring at him with mixed emotions. He saw the concerned stares of three medical ninja, the relived eyes of his sensei, and, making contact with a pair of shining sapphire eyes, he saw a multitude of things. Annoyance, relieve, happiness, and, most surprisingly, a tint of arrogance.

"Hah, Sasuke, you're such a light weight man. I totally kicked your ass and came to hours before you did."

Everyone instantly sweat-dropped. Sasuke just stared at Naruto blankly, the yesterday's events playing through his head. Suddenly he lashed out at Kakashi, whose back he was being carried on.

"Hn. Where the hell do you think your taking me? Back to Konoha? Hah."

Saying those words with a severe disdain towards everyone present, he quickly tried to form a Chidori in his left hand, fully prepared to strike them all dead, but recoiled in pain. Apparently he was fixed up enough to survive, but the remnants of his fight still affected him. He hadn't enough chakra to activate his Sharingan, let only form a Chidori.

Kakashi let out a disappointed grunt before giving a nod towards the medics to inject him with syringes filled with anesthetics that would temporarily shut him up. Sasuke quickly fell back into oblivion as the party arrived at the gates of Konoha.


As the group wearily stumbled into the village, a blur of pink rushed by, making her way to Sasuke. Naruto grinned at the thought of his favorite kunoichi awaiting his return.

Disregarding the fact that she had ignored him all together, Naruto announced with ebullience, "SAKURA-CHAAAAAANNN~ I told you, it was the promise of a life time! I brought Sasuke back, and now you don't have to worry, I'll make sure he sta-"

Naruto's words were cut short as Sakura rushed into his arms. He felt his shirt become doused in tears. He looked at Sakura's face. Tears streaked her soft, pale cheeks. One look at her could showed off the fact that she'd spent the past two days in a state of worry, crying her eyes out.

"S-Sakura-chan…"

"Thank you, Naruto. Thank you so much. I…," she started to choke on her words. "…I know I couldn't be of any use to you or Sasuke, but trust me, I'll make sure I work just as hard as everyone else, and next time, nothing like this will happen! I'll train for me, for Sasuke, for you, for Team Seven! I…" She couldn't continue, and the sobs just came out, rolling out of her like a waterfall.

Naruto couldn't help but blush at having Sakura so close to him, holding her in his arms, her chest heaving up and down against his… Dammit, I've been hanging around Ero-sennin too much… He silently chided himself for thinking such unorthodox thoughts. Naruto just stood there and soothed the over-whelmed pink-haired girl with kind words before she made her way back to Sasuke, cradling him in her arms.

Kakashi silently watched the scene unfold before him. He couldn't help but smile underneath his mask at Naruto's obvious discomfort with having Sakura leaning onto him. The smile grew as he heard her words, and saw Naruto's face deepen in color, nearly matching her flamboyant hair. Deep down, it upset him a bit knowing how much more this exhibition meant to Naruto than it did Sakura, but he was too worn out to think of such dour things.

After a few moments, the medics managed to pry Sasuke from Sakura' s iron-like grip and get him on his way to the hospital. Naruto timidly walked towards the crestfallen cherry blossom, not sure how to approach her after her little breakdown of sorts.

Hehe, maybe now would be a good time to ask her on a date…, Naruto thought, his dense personality not realizing that maybe he should lay off for a while. After all, she had just lost the "love" of her live, and now had him brought back on a platter. We could get some ramen, and go for a walk in the park, and then maybe I could steal a kiss from her as I walk her home! Inwardly squealing with delight like a crazed 12-year old girl, Naruto's thoughts were quickly diminished as the fan girl ran after the medics, determined not to leave Sasuke's side until he was back at 100%, retaining his aplomb attitude.

Kakashi placed his hand on a sullen looking Naruto's shoulder, and quietly said, "You should probably go report to Hokage-sama. I know you've been through a lot, but she'll want to know all of the details. After that, I'd get some rest. Even though those medics we were travelling with said you'd be fine, a little bit of downtime won't hurt. Anyways, I've got some stuff to take care of. See you!"

Before disappearing in a puff of smoke, Kakashi quickly added an "Oh, and good job yesterday Naruto. You were the only one who could save him…" Then poof and he was gone.

Naruto smiled to himself in that glee manner only he could then hopped off towards the Hokage Tower to report to Tsunade.


"Alright, see ya Baachan!"

Naruto snickered as a he heard Tsunade's mutterings about her not being THAT old while he exited her office.

Hmmm… Maybe I should go see if Sasuke's alright now… Plus, Sakura-chan might be there! Maybe then I could ask her out!

Naruto leaped off towards the hospital with thoughts of him and Sakura eating ramen while confessing their undying love for each other. Soon, he found himself rushing into the lobby of Konoha's hospital. The receptionist regarded him with a sneer.

"Tch, what do you want, Uzumaki?"

Naruto could've sworn he heard a "demon boy" muttered under her breath, but the ever so proud shinobi simply ignored her comment, despite the pang of hurt he felt inside. He cleared his throat and asked "What room is Sasuke Uchiha in?"

She stared at him with distrusting eyes for a second, before bluntly replied in an impudent manner. She told him second floor, third room on the left. Her voice was lavished with animosity. The now slightly discouraged boy slowly and quietly made his way to Sasuke's room. Upon his entrance, he saw the Uchiha was awake, his eyes glaring towards the ceiling. He was strapped down with chakra enhanced wires, preventing him from giving into his inner temptations and leaving once again. Off to his side was a distraught Sakura, her eyes swollen, puffy, and rimmed with red. Naruto, being the simple-minded idiot he was, assumed that the kunoichi's tears were due to her extreme happiness for Sasuke's return.

"Yosh! Sakura-chan! Sasuke! What's good guys?"

He had a sheepish grin plastered on his face, and his hands were behind his head in a very nonchalant manner. After no response came from either of his two teammates, he still didn't quite catch on to the mood.

"Hey, why are you two being so quiet? Aren't you glad to be back home, Sasu-"

"Do you ever shut up, idiot?"

Sasuke's words stung Naruto. The ever so lighthearted boy had expected Sasuke to realize his misdeeds and be happy with being back in Konoha by now. However, being the stubborn guy he was, Naruto wouldn't show his frustration at Sasuke's words.

"What's grinding your gears, Sasuke? Still upset because I kicked your ass?" Naruto said these words in a teasing manner. Sasuke didn't think it was that funny.

"Naruto, I swear to God, when I get out of this hellhole of a hospital, I'll beat you down like the animal you ar-"

"Sasuke, stop it dammit!"

Sakura's outburst brought both boys' attention to her. One pair of eyes, a stoic black color, stabbed daggers at her in an irritated manner. The other, two deep pools of mystic water, looked at her with concern. Then he realized why she had been crying.

"Sasuke, you ass, what the hell did you say to Sakura?"

Sasuke turned his attention to the blonde-haired ninja, who was getting more and more enraged by the second.

"I just told her the truth. That she was a helpless, immature bitch who would never be a help to anyone and needs to take a hint when someone thinks she's anno-"

Boom. Naruto's fist collided with Sasuke's jaw, throwing his head to the side. Spitting out blood, an unsettling cackle of laughter erupting from the throat of the heartless Uchiha.

"Do. Not. Say. That. Sort. Of. Shit. To. Sakura."

"I-it's okay Naruto… Sasuke's just… upset, that's all. He'll be fine if we just give him time to get a grip of himself and then we'll go back to the same ol' Team Seven…"

Naruto just stared at her, disbelieve clouding his eyes. Just now, he realized saving Sasuke wasn't as simple as he thought it'd be.

"Sakura-chan… Sasuke needs some serious help, it's not that simple…"

At this remark, Sasuke's menacing laughter just grew. "Naruto, I never once pegged you as the least be competent, but at least you can see I'm done with you losers. You're all so pitiful for Kami's sake! It makes me sick just being in the same room as you shitheads."

Naruto just gave Sasuke's a pissed off look, then stared at Sakura, unable to express his feelings. She could see the pain her ignorance caused him in his eyes.

"I'm sorry Naruto… I… I just can't give up on someone like Sasuke… Someone I…" She paused.

"Love…"

The door slammed behind Naruto as he ran off. One of the nurses had walked by and saw Naruto's punch towards Sasuke, and whispered a quick insult as he dashed by. Naruto paid no heed to this, he was too angry to care. He flew out the door of the hospital. He was running. He didn't care where to. He didn't care how he got there. He just wanted out. He was tired of everyone's comments, tired of Sasuke's resolve to become an avenger, tired of Sakura's stubbornness and dedication towards Sasuke, tired of her blindness to his corruption. He just ran. He ran past houses, buildings, benches. He ran out of the city gates, catching the two shinobi stationed there off guard. They stared as he ran off into the distance. Soon, they regained their composure and one quickly went to alert the Hokage of Naruto's sudden departure from Konoha. The other started after him, but realized he was long gone. He trudged back to his post.

Sometime later, Naruto found himself in a small, secluded patch of grass. Surrounded by trees, the desolate alcove seemed out of place. A river rushed by to his left. He sat down, his head in his hands. He couldn't stop the tears from creeping down his face, much like how the leaves gently fell from the trees surrounding him. He was soon openly lamenting, wails of anguish escaping his lips. He noticed a faint presence behind him, seemingly hovering there, too apprehensive to approach him, but not wanting to leave him there. He paid no heed to it. There was a crunch as the nervous girl slowly made her way towards him. She had stepped on a few of the fallen leaves. Naruto's shoulders became rigid at the sound. Soon the dark-haired girl realized he had noticed her presence.

"N-Naruto-kun…."

At the sound of her squeaky voice, Naruto's ears perked up a bit.

"Hinata? What are you doing here?"

"O-oh. I-I was, um…. Collecting f-flowers by the r-riverbed…"

Momentarily forgetting his turmoil, Naruto asked why she was picking flowers. He was genuinely interested. The quiet Hyuga had always seemed odd to him, and he never quite got her. Since Naruto was as gregarious as he was, the dobe wanted to get to know her better. Plus, she was kinda cute to boot.

Hinata replied, in broken words of course, that she was doing it for no particular reason. She just liked flowers. Her face was growing darker and darker by the second, and it appeared that she would collapse from nervousness at any moment.

"Hinata, sit down by me. Please, Hinata."

Forgetting how to form proper words, Hinata just let a nervous gasp escape her lips and shuffled over to sit by Naruto. She slowly sat down, not knowing what to do next.

"Hinata, I just… I don't know what to do. I brought Sasuke back, but his mentality hasn't changed at all. He needs to be helped, but no one else can see it… I feel so helpless. I've already done so much for Sasuke, but I just can't seem to stop him. I just feel like giving up sometimes… No one in the village even gives me a second glance, everyone calls me 'demon boy', throws me out of shops. Mothers grab their kids by the arm and drag them away from me, whispering for their children to never associate with me. It kills me inside…"

Naruto said this in a choked up voice. Hinata nodded slightly. She had heard about the successful mission, and had silently thanked Kami for returning Naruto safely. But her heart broke as she realized what a difficult life Naruto lead, how no one would accept him. She tried to say something, anything to comfort him. But the words wouldn't come out. Just being so close to Naruto, side-by-side with him caused her mouth to become drier than the vast deserts of Suna.

Naruto wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his jacket and said with a smirk, "Heh, I feel like an idiot. I'm sitting here, crying and confiding in someone I hardly even know. Oh well, you seem like a really caring person Hinata." He looked up into the sky and saw it was darkening. " I've been away for a while, I'm sure Baachan is tearing up the entire village looking for me. I should get going."

Hinata just murmured in agreement, her words incoherent. Naruto went to get up, but stooped down on his knees before rising, looking right into her face while she sat. Their faces were inches from each other. Hinata's face blossomed into an impossibly red blush.

"Hinata… Thanks. I really needed to just get that off my chest. You're awesome! Anyways, I'll talk to you later, alright?"

The now content shinobi got up and made his way back to Konoha, leaving Hinata with her head spinning.

He… N-Naruto-kun… said I'm a-awesome…

The white-eyed girl felt her head beginning to spin due to the deep blush that had invaded her cheeks. She spent the next few minutes just sitting there, in a daze.


Upon entering Konoha, Naruto was tackled to the ground by three ANBU.

"Gah – what the heck? Ow, get off me! I didn't do anything."

"Our apologizes, Uzumaki-san, but Hokage-sama requested that you are detained and brought to her on sight." Despite the formal manner the ANBU used, Naruto was all too familiar with that inconsiderate tone of voice.

Even other ninja look down upon me because of that damned fox…

With those words, the three ANBU made their way to the Hokage Tower, Naruto in toll, struggling and complaining the whole way.

Upon arrival, Naruto was quickly brought into Tsunade's office, and all three ANBU disappeared in individual puffs of smoke. Tsunade regarded Naruto angrily.

"BAAAKA. Naruto, you're an idiot. What the hell were you doing bombarding out of the village like that? You should know we can't just have our shinobi waltzing out of Konoha whenever they feel like it!"

"Hah, sorry Baachan! I, um, was just a bit upset and had to think for a little while…" The yellow-hair boy scratched his head all the while saying this. Tsunade's stiff expression softened at his words, she reached out to pull him into an embrace, but suddenly Jiraiya came crashing through the window. Naruto let out an excited laugh.

"Ero-sennin! What're you doing here?!"

"Yo, Naruto! I've been thinking, I want to continue that training I gave you. Practice mastering the Rasengan, amongst some other basic training. I already okayed it with her," he nodded his head towards slightly annoyed Tsunade. "So how 'bout it? With those people we met in that inn a while back after you, I think it'd be wise to strengthen you up a bit."

Tsunade just shook her head slightly amused at the brash attitude of her old teammate.

"I was just about to get to that, before you so rudely decided to smash through my window. Naruto, I think you should know, the training will take tw-"

Once again, she was cut off. This time, by a screaming Naruto.

"YOSH! Alright Ero-sennin, let's go! How long's this one going to take? A month, two? Where are we going? Will we be here in Konoha? What will I be learning? Are you going to teach me some new awesome technique, more powerful than Rasengan? Will w-"

SMACK. "NARUTO, YOU BRAT. I AM STILL THE 5TH HOKAGE, STOP IGNORING ME DAMMIT." She cleared her throat before continuing. "Alright, Naruto, the training will take two years. You and Jiraiya will travel abroad, probably going through several different nations."

Naruto started to look a bit disheartened at her words. He had a small pout on his face.

"Huh? So I won't be able to stay in Konoha? I just rescued Sasuke…"

He felt Jiraiya's firm grip on his shoulder. Naruto's blue eyes shot up, and looked at the perverted Sage's face. He saw nothing but genuine understanding etched into his old, sun-beaten face.

"Kiddo, I know what you're going through. When Orochimaru defected from Konoha, I tried to do exactly what you did for Sasuke. The only thing is, I failed. You succeeded. Sasuke's got tons of people around to support him. He'll be fine. Everyone will support him, and I'm sure he'll be back to the old Sasuke in no time at all!"

Seeing Naruto perk up at his words, the Sannin jokingly added with a lecherous wink, "And I'm sure as hell Sakura won't let Sasuke slip away from here again with her feisty attitude. Damn, in a few years I might have to pull the ol' Jiraiya charm out on her, I'm sure she'll be into all kinds of kinky stuff…"

All signs of whatever comfort the fox-boy had taken in Jiraiya's first words quickly evaporated. Now the boy stood there, rage seeping out of every pore in his body (he was also slightly mortified by Jiraiya's scandalize words towards his beautiful blossom!). After smacking the perverted old Jiraiya into next week, Tsunade quickly noticed the changed demeanor of the Jinchuriki. She jaded Naruto's rage a bit, and then asked him why he had gotten so worked up at the mention of Sakura and Sasuke. After a quick re-telling of the events in the hospital, Tsunade's eyes paled and her fist started shaking.

"That ungrateful little bastard… I swear, the second he's fully healed, I'll personally make sure he's sent right back to that hospital for another month."

The Hokage vented for a little while longer, completely tarnishing the Uchiha pride. Jiraiya finally got sick of her raging and cut her off. She glared angrily at him, but sat there without a peep.

"Now," the aging sage said, "Let's get back to the original issue. Naruto, are you coming with me or not? I'll be leaving tomorrow morning, and it's getting late. You'll probably need to pack, and then get your rest, so I need an answer pronto."

Naruto sat there for a moment, weighing the pros and cons in his head. I won't be able to see Sakura-chan, help Sasuke, or train with Kakashi-sensei, or…. A quaint Hyuga heiress entered his mind momentarily as he remembered how he had confided in her early. …Or talking with Hinata again for nearly two years… Plus the rest of my friends. The jeers and taunts of nearly every other civilian came rushing back to him. His mind filled with dark thoughts of how they had abused him throughout his entire life, how no one ever paid him any heed, writing him off as a dead-last, a loser.

"Alright, Ero-sennin, I'm going with you! I'll train as hard as I can for two years, then I'll come back stronger than anyone has ever been – stronger than the 4th Hokage himself! Then everyone will have to respect me! Believe it!"

With those optimistic words said, the spunky ball of yellow and orange rushed out of the Hokage Tower, set on packing up everything he could and then getting a full night of rest for the upcoming departure. Jiraiya and Tsunade smiled at the boy as he eagerly set off.

"Hah, he reminds me so much of Minato at that age…"

Tsunade chuckled and replied, "Like father like son I suppose. Now," she removed a tray from under her desk, with two glasses and a jar of sake atop it, "how about we have one last night of drinks before you set off, hm?"

Jiraiya let out a hearty laugh. "Damn Tsunade, if I didn't know you any better, I'd say you were finally coming on to me. I knew no woman could resist my charm for too long!"

The two Sannin both chuckled, before clanking their glasses together, excited for Naruto's upcoming training regimen. After all, they both regarded him as a bit of a grandson. They sipped their sake quietly, enjoying the peace. All too soon, that sort of serene quiet would become all too foreign to them…

Naruto looking longingly towards the ceiling, lost in his deep sea of thoughts.

"Man, so much has changed sense then…"

After setting off with Jiraiya, Naruto's two-year journey went by smoothly. They adventuring all around, staying in all sorts of places. Naruto had learned all kinds of stuff from Jiraiya, and even improved his Rasengan, creating the Oodama Rasengan. However, right when they were planning to return to Konoha, Akatsuki made its move.

It had been a bright, happy day when all of a sudden a giant fireball ignited itself into the rustling field where Naruto was training. Jiraiya, who had been meditating off to the side, quickly used up the nature energy he had amassed and entered sage mode. Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki stepped out of the shadow of the setting sun. After a quick battle, Jiraiya thought it'd be best to flee, and grabbed Naruto by the waist. Using the reverse summoning technique, they appeared in the peculiar land of the toads – Mount Myobaki. It was then that Jiraiya told his student of the upcoming hell he would go through, being constantly tracked by the gang of S-ranked criminals. The master and student would lay low at Myobaki for a while, and Naruto would go through sage training. When Naruto asked if they would ever return to Konoha, Jiraiya simply shook his head with remorse, not knowing the answer to that question.

Now it was just about two years after that day. Naruto was an official, accomplished sage, and a completely new shinobi. He had taken his powers to a whole new level. Along with his sage powers, he had discovered his affinity to wind style techniques, and developed the Rasenshuriken under very careful tutorage from both Jiraiya and Fukasaku, one of the two great toad sages. The Jinchuriki also met up with the only other remaining Jinchuriki, Killer B, and put that damn Nine-Tails in his place. Akatsuki had discovered their location with B, and invaded. Naruto and Jiraiya fled the scene while the Eight-Tails Jinchuriki held them off as best as he could. That was three months ago. They had no clue what become of B, and decided it would be best not to return. It would be too risky.

And now, four years after leaving Konoha, Jiraiya and Naruto were finally about to set off on their trek back to that special place. Back to Konoha. Back to the place they called home.