Saving the world

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, Kishimoto does blah blah blah...Although I wish I did, I'd love to tweak a few things ^.^


Hi everyone it's me again, It's good to be back! Hope you didn't think I died or something:P I've made you wait quite a long time havn't I? I'm actually truly sorry it's been so much longer than I planned to update. I'm not going to bore you with all the things that have been keeping me from writing. Hopefully all that matters now is I'm back and the story is back on track! Well it never went off the track, it just stopped at a station;) To all the people that have stuck with this story and have waited patiently (or not patitently) for me to update I can't thank you enough, you're amazing. Remember to review, even if it's just a senetence. It really will make my hands type faster:P

Well anyway here's chapter 8, I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 8 -

Naruto was having a strange dream. He was running through a never-ending expanse of trees, trying desperately to find something. He didn't know what he was looking for but he somehow knew he had to keep moving. The light around him suddenly started to dim and the his vision became foggy. He tried his hardest to keep going but within moments his world had become almost pitch black. As his vision receded altogether, he became aware of the sensation that he was falling and gaining momentum quickly. Before he could panic though, something warm wrapped itself around him, halting his fall. Naruto's panic dissipated immediately, he didn't know what he had fallen into but he knew he had somehow found what he had been looking for. Now in a cocoon of warmth, Naruto felt his vision start to come back accompanied by a blinding light. He struggled to at least see what was holding him, fighting the intense light by squinting his eyes. Just for a second he caught a glimpse of a person's face and a flash of pink, before the light swallowed him completely and he was forced back into he realm of consciousness.

Naruto cracked open his eyes slowly, temporarily blinded by the early morning sunlight streaming through an open window. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the glare Naruto became aware of his surroundings, and immediately groaned. The glaring whiteness of the room was, unfortunately, very familiar to him.

'I must have set a record for the most frequent visitor by now or something.' Naruto thought dejectedly, staring up at the white ceiling.

He was, of course, laying in a bed of the Konoha hospital.

'I don't remember getting any injuries though...why I am-' Suddenly Naruto's memories came back to him in a flash; fighting with Pein, talking to Nagato and witnessing his change of heart, faking Nagato's death and running back to Konoha through the woods until...

Naruto frowned. The last thing he could remember prior to waking up was drifting into unconsciousness while jumping through the trees due to chakra exhaustion. Someone must have found him and brought him back.

'So much for coming back with a cool entrance.' Naruto grumbled mentally. He would never admit it, but after having spent years training with Jiraiya, Naruto had unconsciously picked up on some of the old ninja's habits.

Naruto turned his head to look out the open window and smiled. There didn't seem to be anyone moving around in the hospital near his room so it was peacefully quiet. All he could hear was the soft sounds of nature from outside and the faint,distant noises of the village starting up for a new day.

'I haven't been this relaxed in ages.' thought Naruto still smiling contentedly at the tranqulity. 'I wonder how long it'll be before someone comes and ruin-'

"IT'S ABOUT TIME NARUTO YOU BRAT!" Kurama roared inside the blonde boy's head, shaking his very consciousness.

Naruto grimaced, closing his eyes. 'I guess I walked into that one.' he thought meekly.

"Good morning to you to Kurama. Any particular reason you decided to completely blow my eardrums from the inside out?" Naruto replied in a sour internal voice. Even though the Kyuubi had willingly told Naruto his real name, he did not like to be called by it unless it was for a good reason. Therefore Naruto only called the fox by his real name when he was being serious or when he was trying to annoy him.

The demon fox chucked slightly, too amused with himself to take offence to being called by his real name so casually. "Well I thought it was quite charitable of me to not wake you up from your beauty sleep any earlier than this." he said in a quieter, content voice. "Anyway I want to talk to you about some things and now is a perfect opportunity for you to come into your inside world."

Naruto smiled slightly. He knew that this was the closest the fox would come to saying that he desired company. When Naruto had first begun to properly converse with the giant creature he had been shocked to discover that the fox could suffer from loneliness just like any other creature, and was suffering from it quite badly. One of the key factors in understanding and stopping the Kyuubi's hate was to rid him of his loneliness, something Naruto had achieved by visiting the demon fox frequently in his inside world. Ever since, whenever Naruto had gone about a week without visiting his inside world the fox would order Naruto to come and see him, usually to talk about training or various things of the like. Naruto always humoured him, after all he himself enjoyed going to his inside world immensely now that it had changed from the dank sewer it once was.

The blonde haired jinchuuriki closed his eyes and repeated the familiar action of detaching himself from the outside world and focussing on the demon fox's chakra inside him. He didn't really fully understand how this worked, all he knew is that by concentrating on nothing but the demon inside him he was able to 'travel' to his inside world.

Naruto opened his eyes a few moments later and was greeted with the sight that still managed to amaze him. His inner world seemed to consist of all the different possible geographical landscapes compressed into one area. Naruto was currently standing in the middle of a huge field positioned on a large, yet very shallow, hill. In the distance, back down on ground level, he could see an large expanse of glittering water. It was a lake he had swam in before, marvelling at the fact that even though he wasn't physically there it still felt perfectly real.

He knew if he looked behind him he would see a huge mountain range on the horizon and that to the left of him was a dense forest, packed with huge, high-rise trees. However, Naruto vision was focussed on the gigantic tree that rose up from the middle of the field. Or more specifically, on the huge orange shape resting in the tree's shade.

Naruto grinned slightly at the sight of the mighty Nine-tailed demon fox, who was feared throughout the land for his ferociousness, curled up like an oversized cat. Naruto traversed the distance between them in a minute or so of walking. As he neared the trunk of the insanely large tree where the demon fox was resting, the Kyuubi lazily opened its eyes, appraising the young man before him.

"Well." The fox spoke up without raising his head from its resting place on his paws. "For your first proper fight since completing your training, I think it went OK."

Naruto's eyebrows rose in disbelief. "You think it went just 'OK'? I totally kicked his ass!" the blonde haired boy exclaimed loudly while punching the air proudly.

Kurama snorted. "Yes I guess you did in the end. I will admit that's a been quite a while since I had that much fun. But.." Kurama paused for emphasis and continued in a more serious tone. "Nothing can be gained from getting complacent and cocky. The man you fought was just as much taken by surprise by your moves as you were by his. Given more time to get used to your attacks he would have eventually been able to gain the upper hand with those eyes of his."

Naruto lowered his head in acceptance and moved to sit down on the shady grass a few metres from the giant foxes snout. While Naruto argued with Kurama frequently, when it came to matters such as this he trusted the fox's judgement implicitly. Just like Naruto Kurama knew when it was time to be serious and stop joking around. As Naruto plonked himself down on the soft grass Kurama continued his report.

"Also this was your first time using our combined released form. While I'll admit that it is immensely powerful, the repercussions of using it are too high at the moment. While our chakras are basically one entity, to use the released form you still have to call upon large amounts of my chakra and while you have improved exponentially at using my chakra, you are still human. Your body is still damaged when using large amounts of my chakra. The damage is nowhere near what it used to be when I was actively trying to take over your body, but the effects are still there. Think of your released form as an improved version of your four-tailed bijuu cloak that you were using before we came to an agreement. It drains both of our massive chakra reserves incredibly fast; mine to keep the transformation up and yours to prevent my chakra from hurting your body. You ended up in the hospital because after leaving Nagato you passed out from chakra exhaustion."

Naruto lent forward and palmed his forehead. "Ughh why does this have to be so complicated!? I thought that my problems would be over once we agreed to pretty much merge chakras." exclaimed Naruto in an exasperated tone. "So you're telling me that I can't use the released form any more because it's too harmful to my body?"

Kurama shook his head slightly. "No I'm not saying you cannot use it any more. I'm saying that using it as you are now would not be a good idea, unless you wanted to cause some permanent damage. You will need to improve on your other skills for the time being while we work on a way of making your body able to cope with high quantities of my chakra."

Naruto cocked his head to the side. "Why would I need to work on my other techniques, shouldn't I just put all my effort into finding a way to use our released form without it hurting me?" he questioned.

The giant fox grumbled slightly and lightly tapped the blonde haired boy on the head with the flat side of one his claws.

"Fool! What if Akatsuki come back soon to try and capture you again? You will be forced into using your released form again and then even if you win your body will be damaged far beyond how it is now. You got off lucky this time because it's the first time you used it in battle. Like I said before, don't get complacent gaki." Kurama admonished.

Neither of them spoke for a while after that. Naruto laid down on his back with his hands behind his head, staring up at the branches far above him. Kurama opted to simply stay in the same position with his head resting on his paws and close his eyes. After a few minutes of comfortable silence Naruto spoke up.

"Hey Kurama..."

The demon fox opened his eyes curiously. Naruto only used his real name when he was being serious about something. Naruto took the fox's silence as a cue to continue.

"I've meant to ask you this for quite a while now, but with all the training and traveling I haven't really had the chance. The seal keeping you inside my body is gone right? So what's stopping you from getting out and enjoying freedom? I know you said you wanted to help me and everything, but couldn't you do that without being inside me?" the Jinchuuriki asked in a quiet voice.

Kurama waited for a minute before responding. "I won't lie, I've thought about it quite a bit since your father's seal was lifted. It would be nice to feel the real world again through my own body, but I haven't raised the matter for a number of reasons. For the most part, you need my power. Even with it you had to go all out to defeat Pein, and the way Nagato was talking about wanting to make plans it looks like there is going to be much more trouble to come. Secondly, what is the point of living in the real world again? Sure it would be nice for a little while, but apart from the Hachibi there are none of my brothers and sisters left. I would still be hated and hunted and there would be nowhere for me to go. Besides I quite like it here." Kurama finished in a soft voice.

Naruto was silent in thought for a moment. "So if there was a way of you getting out but still being able to come back inside me, you would want that?" Naruto asked.

Kurama's ears perked up slightly. "Yes kit I would. But the whole problem is I can't do that. I could leave your body at any point I wanted, but I have no way of getting back inside. It took the Fourth's incredibly intricate seal to get me in here in the first place. What are you thinking kit?"

Naruto nodded thoughtfully, his suspicions confirmed. A idea already starting to form in his head, Naruto sat up suddenly turning his gaze to his giant friend.

"Just an idea. Don't get too excited, I have no idea of it'd work yet. Plus I guess I'd better get back to the real world, I don't want people coming in to check on me and thinking I'm in a coma." Naruto said with a quick grin.

Kurama nodded, closing his eyes once again. "Very well. Remember what I said about your released form. I know it's pretty hard not to, but if you're training try not to pull on my chakra for a while. It'll quicken the healing process of your chakra coils."

Naruto assumed the lotus position and took one last look at the amazing ethereal world around him before closing his eyes. His breathing slowed as he focused his mind on returning to his physical body.

"I'll keep that in mind. See ya fluffball."

Kurama let out an exasperated snort. "Goodbye kit."

Naruto opened his eyes slowly, sighing as he took in the dull view of his hospital room for the second time. He frowned slightly as he suddenly realised that he was only clad in his long sleeved black top and trackpants. His eyes ventured around the small room until they widened in dismay at the sight of his cloak. Or more precisely, what used to be his cloak. The tattered remnants of what could hardly be called a piece of clothing anymore were draped over a chair.

'I guess that's another problem I have to deal with.' the Jinchuuriki thought drily. His spare cloak was sealed in a scroll that Jiraiya kept safe, and talking to his perverted mentor was not high on his list of things he wanted to do at the moment. As his senses came back to him he could hear that activities had picked up inside the hospital and someone was clomping down the corridor outside of his room.

'Please don't let it be any of those three, I don't think I can handle them right now and stay calm.' Naruto thought desperately. His heartbeat quickened as there was a brief but loud knock on his door. A moment later the door opened and relief flooded though him. It was Sakura.

"Naruto you're awake!" the pinkette exclaimed happily, coming over to stand by his bed. "You gave us all quite a worry yesterday, but I guess we should be used to this by now." She put one hand on her hip and glared at him accusingly. "You only just got back and you managed to fight your way into unconsciousness!"

As Naruto looked up at his beautiful team mate smiling down at him a mixture of emotions swept through him. Her presence always brought him happiness, especially when she smiled at him; it made his heart flutter. But there was also quite a bit of pain as well. Since he had been back in Konoha it had been harder and harder to be around her without feeling a pang of hurt and jealousy at the fact that she loved Sasuke and not him. And he hated it. It made him feel like he was being selfish and child-like. So he did what he had been doing for the past few days, he tried as hard as he could to push those feelings of attraction and jealousy away.

He swallowed hard as his eyes roamed across Sakura's form. She wasn't making it easy on him at all coming in dressed in her working nurse outfit. The skirt she normally wore out was gone in the place of even shorter shorts that showed off her shapely legs. She had on a t-shirt that hugged her figure nicely and her hair was tied back into a spiky ponytail that, to Naruto, made her look even better. Naruto's gaze was drawn to her bare legs that were dangerously close to his face. He could feel his face heating up before Sakura's voice snapped him to attention.

Sakura herself had been waiting impatiently for Naruto to reply before she took in his slightly red face. She immediately went into full nurse mode and lent forward to put her hand on his forehead.

"Naruto are you OK? I checked you out yesterday and it just seemed like you had a case of major chakra exhaustion, but maybe it's something more. Do you feel sick?" Sakura asked worriedly as she pressed her hand to his forehead and then his cheek.

"Uh I-I'm fine Sakura-chan." Naruto stuttered, much to his own horror, in a Hinata-like fashion. His heart meanwhile had gone into overdrive. Just looking at Sakura had been bad enough but now she was lent over him and touching his face. Naruto felt another part of his body reacting against his will and started to panic. Kurama meanwhile was not helping at all by laughing uproariously inside Naruto's head at the blonde's current predicament. Doing the first thing to distract himself that came to his mind Naruto bit his tongue, trying not to wince in pain.

As Naruto dealt with his misbehaving body, Sakura continued her diagnostic. She frowned as she felt her team-mate's forehead and cheek; they were red but didn't seem to be any hotter than usual. She removed her hand that was on his forehead and placed it over his heart to measure his heartbeat. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise, his heart was beating like a rabbit! Her face contorted as she tried to come to a conclusion of what all this meant.

'What doesn't make sense is that his face is red but not hot. The only thing I can think of is...oh.' she stopped dead as she finally pieced together what was happening.

Sakura had not been working as a medic-nin for the past four years for nothing. She had seen this type of reaction a number of times from some patients, but she definately didn't expect it from Naruto. She glanced at Naruto's face and received confirmation of her theory. He had turned his flushed face away and had seemingly taken exceptional interest in the cup of water on his bedside table. Sakura felt a surge of happiness and pride swell up inside her; she had made him react like this, not anyone else.

"Naruto." she said quietly, trying to get the blonde to look at her. He did slowly, turning his head and finally ripping his eyes away from the cup and meeting hers. As Naruto met her gaze Sakura could feel her own face reddening. Her hands were still resting on his cheek and chest and their faces were close enough together to feel each others breath. As Sakura continued to stare into Naruto's bright blue eyes she felt herself gripping his shirt and moving closer slowly. She tried to gain some control but to no avail; her body seemed to be having a mind of it's own.

'Oh my god what am I doing?! I'm about to kiss Naruto!' she panicked, surprisingly less horrified with the idea than she would have thought.

"So what? That's a good thing, look how cute he looks! We're gonna have our first kiss, Shannaro!" Sakura's inner self exclaimed gleefully inside her head.

While forced to agree with her inner demon about Naruto's looks, Sakura still wasn't sold on the idea. She finally forced herself to stop moving forward just as her nose was about to touch Naruto's. She noticed that the room had gotten noticeably hotter and both of them were breathing hard. As she hesitated, Naruto's previous words came back to her.

"I'm not sure if anyone's told you this before, but you are incredibly, amazingly beautiful."

Affection surged through her and completely wiped out any doubts she was having. Finally giving into her hormones she slowly closed her eyes and began leaning in to close the final distance.

Naruto, meanwhile, thought he was in a dream. There was no way what was happening right now could possibly be real life. As his pink-haired team-mate paused a few centimeters away from his face his azure eyes widened as a just as wide green pair gazed into his. This was not a dream, this was actually happening.

The bewildered blonde followed his instincts and slowly closed his eyes as his team mate drifted closer.

'I'm actually going to do it.' he thought, dazed. 'I'm really going to kiss-'

"I said...that I loved him"

Sakura's previous words crashed through his consciousness, wiping away Naruto's happy daze and obliterating the tender feelings he had allowed to surface.

He opened his eyes quickly and saw his long time crush barely a centimetre away from his face, eye's closed, cheeks pink and lips slightly apart. All he had to do to get what he had always dreamed of was to lean forward. But he didn't.

Naruto closed his eyes tight in a brief moment of pain before he gripped Sakura's shoulders and forced her up and away from him. The pinkette's eyes flew open in shock as she realised what had happened. Hurt flashed accross her face, but before she could open her mouth to say anything the hospital room door opened for a second time, this time admitting Tsunade, Shizune, Jiraiya and Kakashi.

"Good morning Naruto, glad to see you're awake at last." The blond Hokage said with a cautious smile. She had barely spoken to Naruto since his angry outburst the other day and she didn't know if he had calmed down yet. Deciding to try and break the ice first off, Tsunade smirked.

"Sorry for barging in unannounced, did we interrupt something here?" Tsunade asked with a hint of humour in her voice as she noted the proximaty between her apprentice and her foster son. Before Sakura could reply Naruto cut in.

"No. No you didn't. So what's so important that the Hokage herself has graced me with her presence?" asked Naruto in a sarcastic tone.

Tsunade and Sakura mentally winced, both for different reasons.

'Guess he's still upset.' thought Tsunade sadly. 'Though I didn't really expect anything different.' Ignoring Naruto's sardonic reply, she persisted.

"We've come to see how you're doing Naruto, in case you haven't noticed you've just recently had a major battle with the leader of Akatsuki and have been uncounscious for about 18 hours. Congratulations are in order I think." Tsunade said with a slightly forced smile.

Having the extremely unfortunate childhood that he had, compliments meant a lot to Naruto. Having one given to him by the Hokage herself definately put a crack in his current cold outer shell. But only a tiny crack. He was still royally pissed at Tsunade, and even though he wanted to jump up and kiss her for coming into his room when she did, it would still take a lot more than that for him to completely forgive her.

"Thanks." the Jinchuuriki said tightly, looking slightly away from the now quite large group by the foot of his bed. Everyone in the room adopted a sombre look. No one was used to Naruto behaving like this. He was, and always had been, an energetic ball of fun and happiness. Seeing him like this was just seemed...wrong.

It was Jiraiya's turn to speak up this time. "You had us all a bit worried when you ran off to find the source that controlled Pein's bodies brat. Want to tell us what happened over there?" the toad Sannin asked in an unusually calm and pleasant voice.

Though Naruto's face was passive, his mind was working furiously. Though he trusted Nagato and Konan himself, he wasn't so sure about the rest of the people in Konoha, even his closest people. No he would keep his new allies a secret for now, at least until he had had a meeting with the Rinnegan wielder in person. It was against his nature but he was going to have to lie to them. Naruto sneered mentally.

'Well it's not like they can blame me afterwards when they find out. That would be a major case of the pot calling the kettle black. The-'


"Not now Furball."

'Back on track...The only one I feel bad about lying to is Sakura.' thought Naruto sadly. Then he remembered the stunt she had pulled a few moments ago and the guilty feeling was quashed as quickly as it had risen.

'What was she thinking..'

Resuming his attention to his 'guests', Naruto kept his expression neutral as he looked Jiraiya in the eye. He was determined to keep eye contact.

"Nothing happened apart from what you probably gathered already. I found and confronted the man controlling Pein. He himself had the Rinnegan, that's how he was controlling Pein's bodies. He was weakened severely from the fight however. I just finished him off." the blonde haired jinchuuriki said in a calm voice.

Despite his best efforts however, he could not pull off the lie faultlessly. Something about looking his beloved sensei in the eyes and lying caused his left eye to twitch momentarily. It was only for an instant, but Jiraiya saw it.

'What's the brat hiding from us?' thought the toad Sannin with a frown. 'More to the point why does he feel he has to hide anything, especially from me? Oh well I trust him to make his own decisions now. I doubt if it was something dangerous he would hide it from me. He'll tell me in his own time. Though that is curious about the Rinnegan wielding man. I wonder if it could have been...maybe it's better not to ask.'

On the outside Jiraiya grinned.

"Well I guess all I can say is well done brat. Your first major fight and you surely did not dissapoint. I'm proud of you Naruto."

Naruto's eyes widened at the praise. Jiraiya rarely praised him seriously and even less often called him by his name. Despite the anger Naruto still felt for his sensei, he felt an immense sense of satisfaction welling up inside at the fact that he had made his teacher proud.

The touching mood was then ruined by Jiraiya being, well, Jiraiya. The Sannin's smiling face transformed into a lecherous grin as he sidled up to Naruto's side and leant in close to his ear.

"And when you get out of here I'll take you out for a real celebration. There's a place not to far from the village where some lovely ladies will be more than happy to 'celebrate' with you. For the right price of course, but your good old sensei Jiraiya will take care of that hehehe-oh shit."

Despite Jiraiya's whispering, everyone in the room heard him easily. Kakashi winced as he saw Tsunade slowly bunch up her fists which were suddenly glowing green. Jiraiya had noticed he predicament when he saw Tsunade glaring at him with a sickly sweet smile on her face. He backpedalled away from her, waving his hands frantically in front of him.

"Listen, Tsunade. I was just joking around! and Naruto's old enough now to-"

"STOP CORRUPTING YOUR STUDENT YOU STUPID PERVERT!" shouted an enraged Tsunade as she swung her fist at the petrified Jiraiya.

However she was beaten to it by her pink haired disciple, who had leaned accross the bed to punch the extremely unfortunate Sannin in the side of his head.

'Well holy shit. Sakura's gotten stronger.' Naruto thought in disbelief as he watched his screaming sensei sail through the hospital window and into the horizon. 'I better remember not to piss her off too much anymore.'

Kakashi and Tsunade turned their incredulous gazes upon the now calming down Sakura.

"What?" she huffed out crossly, meeting their gazes as though assaulting a senior ninja was nothing out of the ordinary. The two teachers continued to stare at her until she was forced to explain herself.

"Well I wasn't about to let him take Naruto to a freaking whorehouse." Sakura blurted out, flustered.

Tsunade raised her eyebrows and Sakura blushed as she realised the implications of what she had just said. She was acting like a jealous girlfriend. Kakashi hid his smug grin underneath his mask and Naruto just decided the best course of action was to take interest in his glass of water again.

After a few moments of silence Kakashi decided to let his student off the hook. He coughed slightly, gaining everyone's attention, and then continued.

"As much as i did come to check up on you and congratulate you Naruto, I came to see you for another purpose. After watching your fight with Pein I've come up with a few ideas and seeing as we havn't really caught up properly yet since you got back, I was wondering if you wanted to join me for a training session?" Kakashi asked with his trademark eye smile.

Naruto was lost for words.

'First Sakura tries to kiss me, then Jiraiya tells me that he's seriously proud of me, and now Kakashi is actually offering to train with me. This morning's been full of surprises.' Naruto thought, gobsmacked. Then his negative side kicked in.

'The again he's probably just sucking up to me to apologise for not telling me about my heritage.' he thought sourly. 'I'll go along with it for now though, I'm interested to see what he's got in mind.'

"Sure Kakashi-sensei that'd be great." Naruto said with a grin. Tsunade and Kakashi instantly eased up; Naruto had a grin back on his face. Only Sakura managed to see that his happy expression was strained.

"In fact I'm feeling pretty great at the moment. I'm ready to go now if you're feeling up to it." Naruto continued while heaving himself up into a sitting position on the side of the bed.

That was a lie as well. In fact he felt extremely average currently, but at that moment he just really wanted to get out of that room. 'Away from Sakura..'

"Well I see chakra exhaustion didn't slow you down for long." Kakashi said, still eye-smiling. "I've just got a few things to pick up first. I'll meet you at training ground 9 in 15 minutes. I would use ground 7 but it's pretty much unusable after your little spar the other day. Ja ne." Kakashi finished before dissapearing in a gust of wind after making the hand seals for a Shunshin.

Now only Naruto, Sakura and Tsunade were left in the small room. Tsunade glanced at her foster grandchild as he attached his shin guards and the rest of his ninja gear. Maybe it was because of the way Naruto was dressed or because of the way his spiky hair framed his face, but for a second Tsunade swore she saw another Namikaze sitting in front of her in the same bed with a serious look on his face, getting physicked up for some serious training.

Tsunade smiled sadly as the vision faded. 'Like father like son, they are so similar its uncanny. It's so sad they couldn't have been together for longer.'

As Naruto stood up Tsunade addressed him very unproffesionaly by crushing him in a monstrous hug. Not really prepared for it Naruto just stood there limply as he was slowly squished to death.

Tsunade gripped him harder, if that was possible, as she put her mouth close to his ear.

"I'm so glad you're okay brat. I missed you so much while you were away. The thought of losing you just as you came back, and while you were angry at me was-" she was cut off as her throat closed up.

Naruto smiled softly as his anger melted away. Even though he still hadn't forgiven her for lying to him, she was still family to him. He still loved her dearly and if her actions were anything to go by she felt the same way. He pulled one of his arms free and rested his hand on the back of her head as Tsunade the Hokage, one of the mighty Sannin, cried softly into his shoulder. He marvelled that he was actually taller than her now and he was the one consoling her. Things had definately changed. Sakura just stood to the side smiling happily at the scene. Despite how much Tsunade had tried to hide it, she knew how much the blonde Hokage had missed Naruto over the years.

After a minute of emotional release, Tsunade decided that was enough. she hurriedly broke free of the hug and wiped her eyes, getting rid of any traces of her weakness. She looked up flushing from embarrassment.

"Well it was good seeing you're okay. Well done again for your efforts. I'll dismiss myself." Tsunade said curtly as she brusquely turned around and walked out of the room.

Naruto stared after her for a moment before chuckling slightly as made his way for the window, god forbid he use the door for once. As he picked up his sword that had been leaning against the wall Sakura spoke up.

"Naruto I-"

"I'm sorry Sakura I've got to leave to meet up with Kakashi now otherwise I'll be late." Naruto said, cutting her off without looking back. Still Sakura persisted.

"About before I'm really-"

"It's okay. You don't have to explain anything." Naruto said, again cutting her off as he fully pulled open the window that already had a Jiraiya shaped hole in it.

"Stop cutting me off! we need to talk abou-"

"It's fine really. Now I really need to-"

"Why did you stop me?"

This time Naruto stopped. He paused for a moment, still not facing her. Sakura waited, unconsciously holding her breath. She wasn't even sure she wanted to know the answer to her question. Hell she didn't even know why she asked it in the first place. All she could think about was stopping him from leaving.

After a few tense moments Naruto finally turned around. Sakura's eyes widened. She had expected him to be angry, furious even. But she had not expected to see the amount of sadness in his dead looking eyes. The usual bright blue orbs were now closer to a sort of dull grey.

"Why do you even have to ask me that question?" Naruto said in a tone that matched his eyes, which were staring straight into Sakura's own green ones.

"W-What do you mean I-"

"You said it yourself Sakura. You've said it countless times. You love Sasuke. You love him and you always have. I don't know why you tried to do that to me before. Maybe because I just came back after four years, or maybe because I could have died in that fight. Whatever the reason all I know is that I had to stop you because you definitely would have regretted it later. You would have come and apologised to me and say you don't know why you did it and it doesn't mean anything because you're in love with Sasuke. And I don't know if I could've handled that." Naruto finished in a quiet voice before grabbing hold of the window frame and jumping out the window, leaving Sakura standing there with her jaw hanging open trying to take in what just happened.

Ten minutes later Naruto greeted Kakashi as they met in the centre of training ground 9. Naruto hadn't had the opportunity to meet up with Jiraiya to get one of his spare cloaks so he was currently dressed in just a black, long sleeved top and black pants. He had some white bandages wrapped around his waste as a sort of makeshift belt holder for his sword. He had forgone the usual spot on his forehead for his hitai-ate which was now tied lazily around his neck.

"So what did you have in mind for this training session Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto said in a forced happy voice, the events from ten minutes ago swere still fresh in his mind.

If Kakashi noticed the forced joviality he didn't mention it.

"Well it's just a presumption I made while spectating your fight with Pein. I'm not taking away from the fact that you did a brilliant job, but I noticed that you didn't use any elemental jutsus in the fight. Don't you know any?" Kakashi asked curiously.

Naruto scratched the back of his head and grinned. "Naa I don't, I didn't really have much time for learning normal jutsus while I was away training. A lot of the time was spent on tapping the Kyuubi's chakra and learning the basics properly, not to mention perfecting the Rasengan."

Kakashi nodded as though he had been expecting Naruto's answer.

"So would I be correct in saying that you don't know what your affinity is yet?" the masked man asked.

"My what?" Naruto replied in a perplexed voice.

Kakashi grinned, not that anyone could see it, as he reached into his pocket.

"Well this should be fun." He said as he drew out a small piece of paper. "I think it's time to see what your elemental affinity is."

So that's that! Hope you all enjoyed it and if you have any questions PLEASE feel free to ask me. PM me or just review and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Have a good one.