A/N To those of you re-reading this chapter or who have been sent back to review the changes I have made I have edited and fixed any or all errors from program incompatibilities as well as just general mistakes on my behalf. For everyone else I hope you enjoy the story and continue to follow it through till the end! (:
"Maybe it was my mistake,
could it be that I'm the one to blame?
Broken all the pieces,
why don't you throw the rest away?"
- Disappear here
He used one hand to shield his eyes from the soft white snow that fell heavily; the other stayed close to his chest and kept his winter coat firmly in place.
He attempted to venture further onward but found himself far too disoriented to place where the voice had come from.
Still, he knew exactly who it had come from.
He called back. His voice was small and could not be heard over the deafening wind that blustered viciously and stung his cheeks.
"Naruto, we need to find cover."
A firm hand dragged him backwards. Naruto attempted to struggle out of Sai's grip but stumbled forward and fell into the snow.
In the distance a dark figure captured Sai's focus, a striking light in the darkness of the blinding white.
'We need to get out of here.'
It had been by sheer chance, bad luck even, that they had run into Sasuke unprepared.
They were weak, cold, and lost on the outskirts of Kirigakure during an unforgiving snow storm.
The mission had gone horribly wrong the moment they left the safety of the forestry surrounding Konohagakure; they had been jumped by a small but strong group of rogue shinobi, and while it had been a short fight it had taken enough energy out of them to slow them down significantly in the snow.
Ultimately the arrival of the Uchiha was more than untimely; they had to escape before they were killed.
The snow had quickly begun to cover Naruto's limp, insentient body and if it weren't for the bold orange coat he had draped around him he would have been completely hidden.
Sai acted quickly and pulled Naruto up off the ground with an exasperated groan. He too had exhausted all of his energy and he struggled to stand against the fierce wind that pushed against him.
He couldn't walk, only watch in horror as the dark shadow ahead made its way closer to the two of them.
"Sasuke! This is not the time!"
His pleas were unheard, or ignored, and Sasuke made no signs of staying put. Desperate, Sai took a step back. He couldn't run but he would. As he fought to turn around, Naruto slipped and pulled Sai down with him.
This time he couldn't pull Naruto up and his attempts only made him weaker. It wasn't long at all, seconds even, before Sai too slipped into unconsciousness and took his place beside his fallen comrade.
Sasuke kept walking closer.
He hadn't a clue where he was when he first awoke. His vision was blurred and took a moment to focus. When it did he found Sakura was hovering over him, a pretty smile lit up her face.
"He's awake! Kakashi!"
So many things were circulating through his head. How did he end up here? What about Sasuke, had he really been there? Where was Sai, was he alive?
He bolted upright in shock but before any further damage could be done a gentle hand pressed against his chest and guided him back down onto the bed.
"Calm down Naruto. You need to relax."
Kakashi waited until Naruto abided and with some agitation the young blonde laid back down on his bed. He blinked and when his blue eyes adjusted to the scene properly he could see he was in hospital.
Kakashi and Sakura sat on either side of the bed. Sakura reached out and placed a soft hand over top of his own.
"Naruto, Sai is okay. In fact he woke up a week ago. He's out running errands for Tsunade."
Naruto let out a sigh of relief. He tried to quickly piece together what he could remember, which was not a lot.
"How long was I out for?"
"A couple of weeks, you were all in quite a state when you were found. You are lucky you even woke up."
Had something happened to Kyuubi? Is that what she meant by 'all?' Something didn't piece together. He focused his energy and underneath his own chakra he could feel the steady, warm flow of Kyuubi's.
"Sakura, what do you mean by all of us?"
He watched her eyes flicker to Kakashi and the two of them hesitated before anyone spoke. Naruto studied her expression, something was wrong.
"There was someone else with you. We found a third person."
Naruto turned to Kakashi, imploring him for more answers. He could remember it clearly now; he had heard Sasuke's voice in the storm, over the roaring wind. It was real.
He had thought at first that it was nothing more than a fatigued delusion; a beacon of hope in a dire situation, but it had been true.
A dark feeling fell over him, was Sasuke dead? Why had he even been there in the first place? He tried to calm down his thoughts, he had too many questions running through his mind and he knew they wouldn't be answered straight away, and so he decided to start slow.
"Was it Sasuke? Have you found him?"
Sakura didn't want to be the one to answer and so she stood and left. A nasty chill ran through Naruto's veins. It was true then. Sasuke was dead.
"We did find Sasuke. He's still sleeping."
Kakashi must have read his eyes and known just what Naruto was thinking. No, Sasuke was alive and doing well, they just had to wait for him to wake up before any decisions could be made.
It gave them all time to wrap their heads around the situation, especially now that Naruto had awoken.
Kakashi wanted the situation dealt with swiftly so that if Sasuke tried to escape upon waking then they could act without hesitation.
So far the possible outcomes for Sasuke were; death, imprisonment or if he co-operated he would be allowed to resume his status in the village. They had to discuss this with Naruto before he ran in head first with his own ideas.
If they didn't get the chance to sit him down and convince him that Sasuke's reaction was the sole factor that would decide his fate he would probably kick up a storm
"Can I see him?"
He had barely woken up, it was too soon. Kakashi shook his head. He himself had only been in once and Sasuke was in such a fragile state.
"Soon, you need to rest. Sasuke is still asleep so there's no rush."
He had a feeling Sasuke would be out for a bit longer, the only reason Naruto had recovered so quickly was because Kyuubi who had acted quickly to heal him when his own chakra was restored.
He wouldn't be far from a full recovery. It never ceased to amaze everyone, the power that Naruto contained.
Just when he thought she'd seen him at his peak, Naruto would prove he hadn't even begun to show his true capabilities.
Usually Sasuke found some way to escape but this time Sasuke had willingly returned, or so it seemed from what Sai had recalled.
Naruto seemed to accept the situation and lay back down without any fuss. His head was throbbing and his body ached, he didn't fancy himself wandering far from the bed immediately anyway.
He had a million questions to ask but wasn't sure if he could handle the answers so for the mean time remained silent.
"Try to get some rest; you can expect a lot of visitors within the next day or two."
He smiled warmly and ruffled Naruto's hair. It was damp from sleep.
"How did you find us? I mean, what happened?"
Kakashi sighed, he'd figured the question would pop up sooner or later, he'd just hoped for later.
"Sasuke found you. He dragged you both out of the snow. He only made it as far as the border before he collapsed as well. You're lucky the shinobi of Kirigakure went to look for you when they did, you could have frozen to death."
Naruto said nothing and Kakashi took his leave.
Naruto had dozed off and before long he woke to the sound of heels clicking on the marble corridor floor.
He had been dreaming of piercing onyx eyes and skin as white as snow. He had been running and he had felt a terror stronger than he had ever known.
The pale stranger reached out to grab him and it was then that he had been disturbed from his sleep.
The sound stopped outside his door and he watched as a young woman in a nurse outfit slowly entered.
She tried to be quiet in case he was still sleeping. She smiled warmly when she saw him sitting up in his bed and entered.
"Naruto, my name is Nurse Ayaka; I'm just here to do a quick observation if you don't mind."
The nurse was pretty and blonde; her red lipstick was vibrant against her pale skin. He gave a half assed smile in response.
Naruto was motioned to sit on the edge of the bed and did so, waiting patiently while the nurse prepared her equipment. He watched as she prepared a small needle so she could take his blood.
"This won't hurt at all Naruto."
She told him in a soothing voice. He felt no fear that it would, now that Sasuke was home. He couldn't clear his mind.
'Sasuke, why are you back? Why only now?'