A/N: Well...I'm deciding to do something stupid.
In order to sort of...redeem myself from not updating/being a negative nancy, I've decided to upload this final chapter in parts, starting with what I've written so far. There will probably be maybe 3-4 parts to this last 'chapter' I think.
This technically was supposed to be a nice, clean-cut ending to the story, but there is still way too much I have to write (partly the reason for my intense writer's block and not writing for several months)
And just to clarify; I'm not abandoning the story. It's not on an indefinite hiatus; it will get finished. It's just a matter of when. So be patient, my friends. It'll come when it comes.
P.S: Sorry if this is a bit short. I was forced to shave a chunk off to put into the next chapter. And no, I'm not going to give this story up for adoption. Not that I think anyone could do it justice/better, because I'm definitely not a talented writer, but because I do have the ending planned out, and I want it done in a very specific way; something I feel only I can do, being the creator of those plans, lol.
Perfectly Imperfect Love: Chapter 20 - Heaven and Earth; Part 1
His voice was strained and thick with heavy, struggled emotion; his eyes had widened tremendously, only reflecting a fragment of the shock he truly felt inside.
Seeing his expression and hearing his voice made Sakura realize that she could have just made the biggest mistake of her life. Bigger than somehow believing her feelings for Naruto were for Sasuke. Even more than marrying Sasuke, pretty much without thinking of how Naruto would feel. Even...worse than when she called out Sasuke's name.
The situation was eerily similar to the time she confessed her love to him, years ago. It was a strange sort of parallel; her giving him a piece of shocking information that literally shook him to his core, his initial confusion. Just like then, a part of her wished to take her words back and walk away.
But she was too deep in now. She couldn't just laugh it off and say she wasn't serious, or was joking. She just had to pull through, and hope that Naruto, in some way, would accept the truth. Would accept her, and himself, and happiness.
"I said that I'm Hana. Your ANBU teammate, Naruto." She admitted once more.
He didn't know what to think. It was one thing to be suspicious and cautious of something that is so terrifying, so consequential that it could literally break you...but it's a whole other thing for those very things to be true.
His voice automatically spat out in an effort to try to make sense of the information that was just revealed to him.
"Bullshit." He said in the most agonized, dark and venomous tone he could muster. Her eyes visibly widened, as she processed quickly what he was going through.
He was in denial. An automatic response to try and defend what remained of his sanity against the bitter truth.
"No, Naruto. I...I'm her. Look." She said, before pulling up the sleeve on her t-shirt that she wore under her red vest. He reluctantly peered over, and his chest tightened again when he saw a standard, genuine ANBU tattoo inked onto her bicep.
He felt like his mind was finally breaking. Everything he knew, lived, breathed, experienced...was it always a lie? Was it all some sick cosmic joke played on him by the gods? Was he never allowed to know true peace, or love, or life, or anything?
"No. Nope. Nope, no no no, nope. You're not Hana. You can't be. Nope." He repeated, his face contorting into loss and fear.
Feeling bold, she gripped his shoulders, and pulled his face down to meet hers. "It's me, Naruto. I'm Hana. We fought together, bled together...even laughed together, at some points. I was there for those eight months we spent in Oto." She said, her voice having a strange pang of nostalgia.
In that time she was with 'Tenchi', when they had grown close to one-another, she remembered always feeling some sort of deja-vu when they would talk, or 'hang out'. Like it felt right talking with him, or being close to him. She now realized what that feeling was.
It reminded her of when she was with Naruto, prior to the Fourth Shinobi World War. Before the Land of Iron, before Pein invaded, before everything.
When she, though she wouldn't admit at the time, was happy. With Naruto. Only Naruto.
They were constantly at each other's side. Though the dark, gloomy cloud of Sasuke still hung over them, they would always push away those thoughts in an effort to make each other happy. It was strange how deeply they cared about each other then, but neither realized the other's affection...until it was too late.
He stared into her emerald eyes, and his throat hitched. Her minty green gaze was identical to Hana's. How could he have overlooked something as important as this?
Suddenly, he pushed her back. His face was now filled with anger as he digested just enough information to realize what had just happened.
He had been played. Again.
"What the fuck, Sakura?!" He screamed at her, filled with hatred, rage, and the consuming feeling of betrayal...feelings he was well-acquainted with. "Who do you think you are?! Wasn't it enough what happened to us before? Why?! Why the hell did you join the ANBU? To follow me? To get some sort of petty revenge because of what happened to Sasuke?!" He yelled. Somewhere within him, he knew he was irational. But everything just poured out; an explosion of negativity that had been built up for years, buried under false indifference and his own trickery of his very mind.
She flinched at his voice, but held her ground. She was expecting this. Endless questions kept pouring out of his mouth, until she spoke up.
"This was complete coincidence." She stated, trying to keep her demeanor calm. This was one of the most frightening, nerve-wracking experiences in her life. "I...I joined the ANBU to atone for what I had done to you. It's kind of strange...you were the one who inspired me to do it, but I didn't know it was you."
He tried to process her words. 'Coincidence' seemed like a joke; this was wrong. So so sosososososo wrong...
Hana was the one thing that kept him grounded in reality. She was the one thing that kept him sane. Without her, he would have lost his humanity, because she was so incredibly human it had seeped into him. She made him at ease.
Before she joined his team, he was empty. Just a shell of a person. He was barely anything. He killed for some sort of pleasure or relief, took pride in the torment he caused, and in some sick, twisted way, enjoyed his 'life' in Oto. But he was lonely, scared, angry and dead inside.
He had become what the villagers once feared - still feared - of him. A bloodthirsty, emotionless killer. Even earlier in the day of his return to Konoha, when he was walking with his comrades, some of the people of Konoha watched him with wary, cautious and somewhat frightened eyes. He realized that they had reason. He was a jinchuuriki; always would be a jinchuuriki, regardless of his prestige, mental status, or anything else. But Hana made him feel different.
She made him different.
So if what the woman in front of him was saying was true...did that mean he truly never got over her in the first place? That is was always her, always was and always will be? That he subconsciously knew that it was Sakura, and felt drawn to her, as he had for all those years?
He laughed harder than he ever had in his life, and it's mirthless, broken, insane sound echoed throughout the apartment.
She finally backed away from him. What the hell had she done to him?
She couldn't compare him to the old Naruto anymore. Every single thing she would say, she would come closer to the inevitable breakdown of his mind. His eyes had a crazed, furious gleam in them; the negativity emanating from him was practically palpable.
He saw the truth. And he didn't like it, yet he found the whole thing hilarious. The whole reason he joined ANBU was because he needed to get away from Sakura and his feelings for her. He needed an escape from reality; from the hell of his own mind, his own thoughts and feelings.
But then it all just came back full circle. The woman he had come to trust, to rely on for support and sanity, to love...was the woman who made him into a monster in the first place.
He felt something inside of him break. His head hurt, his eyes were glazed, and everything was so fucking backwards and wrong that he couldn't feel or breathe properly.
Her eyes widened in realization. He really, really trusted her. As Hana.
His own gaze was wide. His mind was shattered. As his eyes flickered around the room, the images were distorted; everything was warped, and he began to hallucinate once more.
He couldn't discern what was real. If what he had just learned was real. If anything really mattered, or was truthful, or existed. But the anger he felt...he now had a source to vent it onto.
She loved him. And in his broken, enraged, and depressed state of mind, he wanted to cause her pain. His sadistic nature was breaking out, and a grin spread across his lips.
"I hate you. I hate every fiber of your being." He began, and even more tears fell down her cheeks at the sight of him so...gone. His words stung, scraping against her already-fragile heart. But this was what he needed. What they both needed; or so she had started to believe.
"You don't love me. You just want to fill the empty place that your Sasuke-kun only filled."
His consciousness was caving in on itself. He had no one he could trust, or rely on, or love, or hate, or anything. His friends were anything but friends anymore. His captains and superiors feared him and walked on eggshells around him. The villagers only admired him because he won a war; not because he was Naruto. And Hana...
"I wish you were dead. You disgust me."
The words left his lips, but with it, any and all meaning behind them. What was the point of anything, anymore?
Hana was Sakura. He couldn't trust her, because she broke it. Years ago, and now. His trust in her, in himself, was completely shattered. He couldn't even believe in his own feelings.
He was so sure, so positive, so proud of the fact that he had gotten over Sakura. Never, in his life, had he ever given up on anything. And when he had thought he had gotten over Sakura, it felt amazing to be free of the burden of unrequited love.
He was panting harshly, now. His whole body was tight with emotion.
He loved her.
God damnit, he still fucking loved her.
But he hated her. She betrayed him for the last time. He needed to get away from her; from the illusion of his own reality.
His body moved on it's own, his eyes dark, fearful, lonely and angry.
He ignored her pleads, and walked briskly towards his front door. Everything was hazy for him.
Naruto couldn't stand being near her. Not only because of what she's done...what she did, but because when he saw her hurt expression...it hurt him.
Throwing open his front door, he paused for a moment when he realized it was raining outside. Heavily raining, with thunder and lightning as well. Mentally shrugging, he half-jogged, half-stumbled, half-ran out of the door.
He had to get out of there.
Sakura stood in her blonde teammate's apartment, her expression so inconceivably hurt, anyone who saw it would probably wonder what kind of monster could make a woman cry like she was.
Wet, sloppy tears rolled down her pale cheeks as she stared at the open door that led in and out of the abode.
His words...they were so cruel, so filled with hate. She expected this to happen...but it didn't alleviate the hurt.
Was this how Naruto had felt, years ago? When she completely disregarded him for Sasuke?
She had to shake her head. Even in her pathetic pity-party she was having for herself, she knew how much pain she caused him. It was like a disease of guilt, constantly devouring any peace of mind she could attain.
His expression was burned into her head forever. That look of pure contempt, of betrayal, of hatred, scarred her.
But he just left.
Sakura suddenly felt infinitely stupid. What was she trying to do? She couldn't even explain, couldn't go into detail about why and how she joined the ANBU. She just stood there, on the verge of tears, watching as his own torrent of negativity consume him.
Was she still the naive, emotionally-consumed girl as she was years ago? Gritting her teeth, her resolve settling, she inhaled deeply and swore under her breath.
She had to go after him. Not for herself, or her feelings, or what once was their relationship; not to redeem herself in Naruto's eyes, or to be rid of the guilt that had plagued her for years.
Sakura opened the door, and ran out into the downpour for him. And only him.
A/N: Well, that's it, lol. The first actual chapter in...7 months? Yeah.
I really hope it wasn't too bad. I'm a terrible writer, I know, but hey; I tried. This chapter was technically written a few months ago, so some of my edits/added bits may have a different 'feel' or style compared to the majority of it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this. Once again, I'm not abandoning this story; it's just going to be delayed. Like a movie that has it's main actor quit out or something. I dunno.
I appreciate all of your support (1000+ fucking reviews, guys. thank you. srsly.) and all of your reviews, criticisms, kind/harsh words, favorites, follows, etc. Seriously.
And yes, that last update made me look like an asshole. But that's the way the cookie crumbles.
I am an asshole.
Have a great day, everyone.