Naruto flinched as he downed yet another shot of the bar's strongest liquor. He hadn't even paid much attention to how much his liver was begging him to stop his abuse, being that his heart was in much greater pain. As he looked down at the wood of the counter, he became enchanted with how much everything seemed to move around, even though he was sitting completely still.
The bartender looks at him and sighs. He's seen some pretty impressive drinkers in his years at bar-tending this place, but he didn't know anyone who could take fifteen shots of his hardest stuff like this kid. And Naruto was a minor, at that. Here, the rule is that the word 'teen' cannot be in the number of your age in order for them to buy drinks. And Naruto is sixteen. At the other bar across the village, anyone sixteen and up could drink. But this one was for adults that had a bit more mileage in life. He had refused to let him buy anything at first, but Naruto insisted that he had money, and needed to drink. If it wasn't for the look in his eyes that the bartender saw, Naruto probably wouldn't even be here. He saw that the kid had been through something, and he could really use a drink.
"Another." Naruto slurred, finding that his tongue went numb from the chemicals he consumed. The bartender sighed again.
"Kid, if you have another drink, you'll match your age. I think you've had enough." He says, looking at Naruto sympathetically from across the counter. Naruto looked up at him with a minor glare, finding it hard to focus his eyes on him.
"I'm fine, jus' gimme 'nother one." Naruto commanded, extending his hand out as if the bartender would just hand him the whole bottle.
The clerk shook his head, "Sorry kid, I'm not giving you another one. I shouldn't have even given you one. So why not just go home and stay there for the rest of the night before you do something you'll regret."
Before Naruto could reply, the bartender walked away to serve someone else.
"Asshole." Naruto spat. He rubbed his eye and felt how dizzy he became from doing such a simple action. He almost fell off of his stool. Despite the clerk refusing to give him another drink, he knew that he was right. Naruto is fucked up. He needs to get home now, but decides to wait until some of the alcohol dissipates from his system. If he tried to go home now, he'd fall all over the place.
Just then, someone sat in the stool next to him. He looked over and saw that it was someone he knew, but the name escaped him. He knew it began with an 'r'... or an 'n'...
It was then that the person looked over at him. Those red irises should have been a big giveaway. However, her name was still unclear to him. He was thinking hard about what it could be, a bit harder than he should be.
He missed the fact that the woman was looking at him strangely.
"Naruto? What are you doing here?" He almost missed that she was talking to him. He shook his head to clear his mind, but only ended up making himself dizzier.
He recovered enough to properly reply, "I'm jus', uh... Havin' a few drinks..."
The woman gave a short chuckle, "Well, I can clearly see that. But I know that you couldn't possibly be over nineteen. I didn't even know that you drink."
Naruto laughed, a bit more than he should have, "Ah, I jus' felt like havin' a few... I kinda bugged the bartender to let me in."
When the beautiful lady gave a short signature smile, her name became clear to him now. Yuuhi. Kurenai Yuuhi.
"Well, I'm not going to bug you, or lecture you or anything. I did a few similar things when I was your age, too." Kurenai said. "Just... Don't overdo it."
"Too late." Naruto thought.
"I'll try not to." He said. Kurenai turned her head and ordered to have the same drink Naruto was having. When she got it, her ruby lips parted and allowed the liquid to flow into her mouth.
She flinched in shock, "Oh my!" She exclaimed before looking at Naruto with surprise evident on her features, "Naruto... you were drinking this?"
Naruto chuckled and nodded, "Uh-huh."
She counted the amount of shot glasses surrounding him. This increases her surprise tenfold, "And you've had that many? My goodness, you must have a liver made of gold!"
"That, or a demon healing me twenty-four seven." He almost said out loud. Naruto replied by snorting, following with a shrug of his shoulders.
Kurenai stared at the remains of her drink, then shrugged as well. "Well, this must be some good stuff if its this strong. I could use it." She pinched her nose, then downed the rest of the liquid in one go. Kurenai rapidly shook her head and was hit with the recoil from the strong liquor. The pinching-your-nose technique never actually helps like it should...
It burned her throat on the way down, so she had to wait a few seconds before talking again.
"So how's Kakashi doing? And the rest of your team?"
Naruto almost literally felt his heart stop beating for a second or two when she asked that question.
"They're... Fine. Um... Kakashi-sensei is still recoverin' from the hospital, but he should be out by tomorrow..."
Naruto had replied to Kurenai's question strangely, but Kurenai thought it could be because of the booze, so she blew it off.
Naruto quickly changed the subject, "So how's Kiba, Hinata, and... Er..."
Naruto nodded. Drunk or not, he could never remember his name. "Yeah, him."
"They're fine." Kurenai ordered another shot of the same stuff, "Kiba and Akamaru are knuckleheads as usual, Shino's always the mysterious one, and Hinata will be Hinata."
Naruto nodded. He smiled as he remembers his old friends. He should probably pay them a visit sooner than later...
Kurenai and Naruto spent the next hour or so small talking about random things. Kurenai, thanks to the bar's strongest stuff, was now almost as drunk as Naruto. But she only had five shots.
They were now laughing, as Naruto told her about the time he and Kiba got into an non-serious fight regarding food when they were younger. The story itself wasn't as funny as they were making it out to be, however.
Another two shots slid Kurenai's way. She looked at the bartender to make sure his back was turned, then sent Naruto a sultry grin. She handed him one of the glasses, and drunkenly held her index finger in front of her lips.
She then extended her glass, "To good times." She proposed.
Naruto grinned and collided his glass with hers, "To good times." They then took the whole shot in one go simultaneously.
Once Naruto put the glass on the counter, the world around him began to spin out of his control.
Then, all of the sudden, he felt as if he were flying.
Naruto hit the ground hard.
Naruto groggily woke up with his eyes still shut. He groaned and creaked his eyes open, light searing into his retinas.
"Naruto-kun, you're up! Are you okay?" He barely heard a voice say to him. His eyes got used to the light a bit, so he leaned up from where he was laying and looked around. It was then he realized that he had the mother of all headaches.
He also saw that he was no longer in the bar. He wasn't even in his own apartment. He was in an unfamiliar home. One decorated with many flowers.
He then saw Kurenai at his side. How he missed spotting her the first time he looked around, he'll never know. He must still be drunk...
"Ugh..." He groaned, holding his throbbing head. "What... What happened?"
Kurenai gave a soft smile, "You overdosed at the bar and passed out."
Naruto thought about it and could just faintly recall himself having drinks with Kurenai.
He smile slid into a frown, "Are you alright, though? You hit your head really hard..."
"Well, that explains this huge headache I have..." He thinks to himself.
"Yeah... I'm fine, just got a headache..." He tells her groggily.
"Oh, that's good, at least it's not anything major..." She frowns a bit more, "I'm sorry... I shouldn't have gave you another drink."
Naruto sat up on the couch he was laying on. Kurenai sat beside him and gently rubbed his head.
"I-It's fine." Naruto mumbles. He looks around the room one more time, "This is your apartment?"
Kurenai nods, "Yeah. I would have brought you to your house, but I don't know where you live."
The Uzumaki shrugged, "It's fine." He felt his head pulse, giving him more pain. "Ugh... How long was I out?"
Kurenai looked at him sympathetically, "For around thirty minutes or so." Naruto nodded. That explains why he still felt drunk and could smell the lingering alcohol in Kurenai's breath. "Are you sure you're okay? Do you want anything? Water, tea?" She offered politely.
Naruto thought for a second, "Yeah, I'm okay. And a glass of water would be nice."
Kurenai nodded and walked into the nearby kitchen. She returned a few seconds later with two tall glasses of water.
She handed one to him, "Thanks." He replied, drinking the water to help get rid of the taste of alcohol.
"You're welcome." Kurenai takes a sip of her own. While Naruto was still gulping it down, Kurenai looked at him with wondering and concerned eyes.
Naruto took a breath after swallowing the rest of the water in his mouth, "Hm?"
"Seriously... Why were you in a place like that, drinking...?"
Naruto paused. For once in the past twenty-four hours, what happened yesterday left his thoughts for a while.
"I just... I needed to get away."
Kurenai frowned, "Get away from what?"
Naruto sighed, "Reality."
The room became awkwardly silent.
The red-eyed beaut gave a short, sad chuckle, "I can relate to you on that... I think that's why I came there, too."
Naruto looked at her, and could see how much pain showed on her face. He hesitated to ask this question, "What happened?"
Kurenai rubbed her eye. Not because it was bothering her, but because she didn't want him to see a tear fall down her face.
"...Um..." She cleared her throat in an attempt to fix her cracking voice.
"My... My baby was miscarried yesterday."
Naruto dropped his glass.
His eyes grew wide, "Wha... Oh my God... Wait, I didn't know you were pregnant..."
"I was only about two months pregnant, I wasn't showing much... And I didn't tell anybody. I wanted to keep it a surprise." She said, looking at the floor. Naruto was speechless for a few seconds.
"I'm so sorry..." Naruto told her, feeling really concerned for Kurenai at this point. "If you don't mind me asking... Who was the father?"
"I'm sure you know who Asuma Sorutobi is."
"... Shikamaru's sensei?" Kurenai nodded. "Really?! ...Well, I did see you two together a lot..."
Kurenai gave a small laugh. The room went silent again for a few more seconds.
"Um... What did he say... About the, um..."
Kurenai shook her head, "He doesn't know. About the miscarriage or the baby in general."
Naruto paused, "Why didn't you tell him?"
"Because..." Kurenai tried masking her sadness and anger with a bitter smile, "The fucker dumped me yesterday."
Naruto's eyes went wide in disbelief, "What?! Why?"
Kurenai's teeth was grinding, "Because he didn't feel that things were working out." This time, she didn't stop a tear from falling down her face, "What pisses me off the most about the whole situation is that yesterday was the day I was going to tell him that I was pregnant. It was almost as if he knew."
Naruto had a hard time believing her. He may not have known Asuma all that well, but he seemed like a really good guy. He would have never guessed that Asuma would break up like Kurenai like that, whether he may have or may not have known that she was pregnant.
Kurenai continued after a brief pause, "And that's when I lost the baby. I guess that whole moment just stressed me out so much... that..." Kurenai couldn't continue. She buried her face into her palms, sobbing and crying her eyes out.
Naruto didn't know what to do or say. Kurenai's situation was indeed sad, and he couldn't blame her for crying.
He couldn't help but move closer to her and hug her. Once his arms enveloped around her, Kurenai clung to him, burying her face into his jacket. Naruto rubbed her back up and down delicately.
"Why, Naruto...?" She sobbed, "I-I don't understand... Why do these things happen to me...?"
Naruto simply shushed her. He told her to just let it all out.
Thirty minutes later, Kurenai's tears finally went dry. Her sobs died down, and she eventually separated from Naruto.
She wiped away the smeared tears that remained on her face as she looked at Naruto, "... Sorry about your jacket."
Kurenai's tears had soaked through his jacket and the undershirt underneath, "It's alright. Do you feel better?"
Kurenai nodded, "A little bit. I could still use a drink."
"Me too." Said Naruto.
Kurenai looked at him, "Naruto, I think you've done enough drinking for the day." She paused. "...You still never told me why you were at the bar in the first place. Why were you trying to get away from reality like I was?"
Naruto sighed, avoiding eye contact. He didn't know how to explain things to her. He didn't even want to.
"I, um..." He hesitated, "...I've... done something unforgivable yesterday."
Kurenai gave him her full attention, "If you don't mind me asking... What did you do?"
Naruto broke down.
His face was in his palms, sobbing just as Kurenai had been more than thirty minutes ago.
"I didn't mean to do it... I keep trying to convince myself that it wasn't my fault, but I'm so angry at myself..." After a brief pause, Naruto tries to gain his composer back with a deep sigh, "I... I've killed someone very close to me."
Kurenai was not ready for him to say that.
She was stunned, "You killed... B-But how...? Why...?" She sputtered. She didn't want Naruto too feel worse by making him explain more, but she felt that she had to know what happened.
Naruto held back a sob, "...I'm sure you know about me being the container of the Kyuubi..."
Kurenai hesitated. She didn't expect for him to bring up a matter like this, "Yes, I'm aware."
"Well," Naruto began, "When I get really pissed off, the Kyuubi's chakra leaks out and takes over my body and mind somewhat. It's like a Kyuubi-like state of sorts."
Kurenai was surprised to hear this. She always knew about him containing a demon fox, but now she knew never to piss him off.
"And yesterday, my squad and I were on a spy mission to get information from Kabuto and Orochimaru. I'll skip some details, but eventually, I confronted Orochimaru. As we fought, he was saying some things that really got to me. I got so angry..." Naruto paused, "I blacked out. Whenever I go into that Kyuubi state, I'm always somewhat aware of my actions, even if sometimes I can't control them. But not this time. All I remember is Orochimaru saying something to me, then me waking up. Everything in between is fuzzy."
Kurenai nodded slowly.
"When I woke up, Yamato-sensei was by my side. I looked around and saw that everything looked as if a meteor hit. But he told me that I was the one that did it."
"What happened to Orochimaru?" She asked.
"Yamato says that he fled. Fuckin' coward." Naruto spat. He then closes his eyes.
A tear slowly slid down his cheek, from his eye, past his whisker marks, then dripped down from his chin.
"I then noticed that someone was missing. I asked Yamato-sensei where Sakura was. I'm sure you know who she is."
Kurenai nodded, "The girl with the pink hair that would beat you up from time to time, your teammate." She had to admit, the pink hair was a feature that would ensure that she would be a tough person to forget.
Naruto chuckled sadly, "Yeah. I asked where she was. Yamato pointed next to me, and there she was..." Naruto choked. More tears started falling.
Kurenai couldn't believe what Naruto said next:
"She was on the ground... Bleeding to death... Yamato told me that... I attacked her..."
The air around them became heavy. Naruto was sobbing into his hands, while Kurenai's eyes were wide in shock.
It felt like a while before either of them spoke again, "...My heart broke so bad, it felt as if it literally was ripped apart... I actually felt phsyical pain in my chest. We tried to get her to a hospital, but we were too late. Sakura-chan, the love of my life... Died... And I was the one who killed her..."
The whole situation; Naruto crying, hearing of the death of a fallen comrade, the fact that Naruto was in just as much pain as she was in, made tears flood her eyes as well.
She did the only thing that she could think of doing; she hugged him.
Naruto tensed up, and looked at her, surprised, "W-Why are you hugging me...?" Naruto questioned, "I'm a fucking monster, I killed my teammate, the love of my life... So why are you-"
"You're not a monster." Kurenai whispered to him. She pulled back a bit and looked straight into his pupils, "Naruto-kun, you cannot blame yourself for this. Sakura may be dead, but I can assure you that you weren't actually the one who killed her. The Kyuubi did. It was a very unfortunate incident that happened, but it wasn't your fault. You had no control over it."
"But my fucking temper!" Naruto exclaimed, "I went into the Kyuubi state because I let Orochimaru get to me! I'm so fucking stupid! Shinobi are supposed to detach their feelings on missions and in battle, and the fact that I blacked out like that makes me weak! I always talk about becoming Hokage one day, but now I feel like I don't even deserve to be a shinobi anymore...!"
Kurenai could see that he was really angry with himself. She became a bit startled when his irises faded into a very deep red color...
Naruto tried calming himself down, and his irises were no longer red, but purple.
"So... I guess I can say that I kinda lied to you. I wasn't at the bar because I wanted to get away from reality. Well, I did, but not the same way you were. I wanted to kill myself. I don't have the balls to slit my throat or anything, and trust me, I've tried... So I was hoping to drink myself to death." Naruto chuckled bitterly. "It's funny, because for a fucking demon that made me kill my teammate, makes it hard to kill myself with it's healing factor."
Kurenai slapped him.
The fact that she did it surprised Naruto. Kurenai held a stern face, but concern was still spread across it.
Naruto slowly turned his head back and looked at her, "What was that for?"
Kurenai's hand stung, and wondered exactly how hard she actually smacked him. Nevertheless, her expression never changed, "Because, you're not being you right now. You're speaking nothing but nonsense."
Naruto glared at her, "You don't know me."
"I know that if a past version of you were to see you now, he'd slap you, too." She said. "I know I don't know you all to well, but I know that this-" she pointed at him. "-isn't you. I don't know who this is, but it definitely isn't Naruto Uzumaki, the future Hokage of Konohagakure. Like I said before, you're not a monster. You're not weak, and you have no legitimate reason to beat yourself up, let alone kill yourself."
"You don't understand." Naruto told her, "I deserve to leave. If I can't control my actions with a fucking demon inside me, I'm a threat to everyone I cared about. I already saw that for myself. I'm don't want to kill myself because I'm sad or angry, but because I feel that I have to, for the sake of everyone else."
"You're wrong." Kurenai responded, "You do want to kill yourself because you are sad and angry. The Naruto I know would let this be a learning experience, and would try harder to keep his emotions intact for the future. He would train. What happened on that mission is very unfortunate, and is indeed very sad. I don't blame you for falling into depression, but you shouldn't stay down there, like this. You should bounce back up, dust yourself off, and move forward, despite what happened."
Naruto was silent for a while, simply staring at Kurenai as she stared back at him.
"It's really easy for you to say that, when you're not the one on the receiving end."
"You're wrong about that, too." She told him. "I can relate to you a lot on this. Do you know how happy I was when I found out I was pregnant? I was so happy to start a family, to bring new life into this world. But when I got my heart broken by Asuma, and lost my baby, I was in the same condition you were in. I blamed myself for letting my emotions hurt my baby. I wanted to blame Asuma, and even though it was partially his fault, I was to blame, too."
"No," Naruto said. "No one can blame you for feeling hurt when you're heart's been broken."
"And no one can blame you for getting angry when Orochimaru provoked you. Not many things can get to you Naruto, I can tell. But what Orochimaru must've said probably almost had the same impact on you as Asuma breaking up with me had on me."
Naruto had no comeback.
"Our situations may be different, but they've affected us in similar ways. I wanted to kill myself because of what happened, too. But not for long. I was at the bar because, although I bounced back from what happened somewhat by locking myself in my room and having a long discussion with myself, I was still hurt. And I used liquor to numb that pain temporarily. It's a bad excuse, I know. But I know I'd be okay. I promised myself, that the only way I'd die, was from protecting and serving my village. Isn't that the number one rule to remember in order to be a shinobi?"
"Yeah..." He mumbled.
"And again, you're not weak. Once you've receive your Hitai-ate, you deserve to be a shinobi. And you will become Hokage one day, Naruto."
"How come... you seem like you know me well, when we hardly even talk...?" He asked.
"Because, you've made a name for yourself around the village already, Naruto. I've seen you and your antics as a person before you even became a ninja. You were so happy, undeterred by other people trying to get your hopes down, so persistent to get everyone to recognize who you were... I respected that. A lot of the people here saw and still see you as just the container of the Kyuubi. But not me, not with a smile and personality like yours. I was actually hoping to have you as one of my students, so I could show you that not everyone hated you." She said. "You're an amazing, unique person. And to see you like this, willing to throw away everything you worked for breaks my heart. If I have enough strength to get back up from my dilemma, I know you can."
"But..." Naruto stuttered, "The pain... It hurts so much..."
Kurenai gave him her sweetest, most considerate smile. She reached up and caressed the cheek she slapped a moment ago. "That slap I gave you earlier, it hurt, right?"
Naruto nodded, "Yeah."
"Does it hurt, now?"
"See?" Kurenai said. "All pain is just temporary, no matter how severe it is. Some pains may take longer to heal than others but nothing is infinite. Your dilemma probably hurts you more than mine does to me, because you're young. This is probably the first time you've had an experience like this. But for me, I've had my heart broken before, and this isn't the first time where my emotions affected those close to me. Yes, shinobi are supposed to separate their emotions while on duty, but for most people, that's almost impossible. I still struggle with such matters. However, that's life. Everything is a learning experience, and no matter how hard it gets, we have to move on. If you were to kill yourself now, you'd lose all your respect from me. And Hinata, Kiba, Shino, Kakashi, Tsunade, and all your friends and comrades, including Sakura, as well. The only way we want to see you die is because you went down fighting for your village, just as you had promised Iruka when you became an official shinobi of the Leaf." She smiled softly at him, "Never give up, Naruto. You promised yourself that you'd become Hokage. And isn't that your nindo? To never go back on your word, no matter what? You've been shouting it around the village for quite some time."
Naruto stared at her, in shock. She was absolutely, one-hundred and ten percent correct. About everything. Her words finally broke into his stubborn mindset, and was now changing the way he was thinking.
Naruto ambushed her in a tight hug, something that caught her off-guard. But she simply smiled, and returned the hug.
"Thank you..." Naruto said.
"You're welcome." Kurenai whispered. "You just needed someone to remind you about a few things, that's all."
The pair remained in this position for at least ten whole minutes. Naruto was still crying, as was Kurenai.
"Kurenai...?" Naruto mumbled.
"I'm still hurting, though..."
"It's okay, so am I. But we just need time to heal. And maybe we can help each other through this process..."
Naruto nodded. He was perfectly fine with that.
Soon, they both pulled back a bit.
They stared at each other. Blue irises met red ones.
Then it happened.
It was as if their bodies moved on autopilot. Their heads slowly inched closer together like magnets until their lips connected. Electricity sparked between them, and their bodies became hot. Yearning.
The kiss was so passionate. Their hearts were still in pain, and that connection, that identical heartache let them link together on more than just a physical level.
Soon, Naruto found himself on his back, with Kurenai on top of him, kissing him with just as much passion and force as he was letting on.
Then slowly, more and more clothing was found discarded onto the hardwood floor.