Summary: Haruno Sakura was used to Naruto's bizarre plans, but this one really topped it. In an attempt to change the future for the better, her best friend sends her back to the past to infiltrate their own home. The medic planned to do this as discreetly as possible, but she should have known that even with a second identity, it wouldn't be that easy.
Beta: Will be beta-ed hopefully in the near future.
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto. Too bad.
Dear followers and guests, thank you very much for all the kind messages!
I really like the meaning of the flower this time. It is also a beautiful flower that fits Sakura pretty well in my opinion – especially the pink ones obviously.
Anyway, this chapter was quite an experiment for me. It contains a lot of analyzing thoughts; so if you dislike that kind of stuff, please bear with it for a little while. If you love it, great! It's always a bit tricky for me to be completely sure whether I got interactions between some characters right without anything too ooc. So I challenged myself to a somewhat tricky one between the hokage and sakura and in my opinion, seeing a very… touching scene that just needs to be right or it would be disappointing - which you will see at the end – No don't scroll down! - you will see it eventually!
I really hope it is met with approval.
Chapter 9: Gladiolus
~ Strength Of Character ~
(I am really sincere)
It was trickier than Sakura had expected to somewhat 'meekly' follow the Hokage as they finally walked towards the patient she had been waiting to meet.
Having walked, run, fought and practically lived in these hallways of the Hospital – basically a home of some sort - for many years, it was quite difficult not to take the lead like she had been used to.
Luckily, she knew that they were nearing the room where Mikoto resided in, so she could stop repressing that annoying habit. In fact if they turned to the right, like they did now and then to the le- she mentally sighed when the Hokage lead her to the right, like they had already done once before.
She wished that the Sandaime would stop circling in the hallways as if it were a maze. It wasn't like 'Sasaki Hana' wouldn't be able to find the room again if she were to find out the number.
Sakura knew the pattern in which the room numbers were swabbed. She was pretty sure that was still similar.
Besides, who needs numbers when you have the whole map figured out in your head and already visited several times to check up on her?
Oh right… of course, Sasaki Hana wasn't supposed to know all of this.
So instead, when she noticed the man looking her, Sakura simply glanced at a poster that they had already passed trice now and visibly frowned. There was a moment of doubt as she turned to the experienced ninja walking slightly in front of her to ask him something. She reached out to catch his attention, then quickly faltered and sighed.
"Is something wrong Sasaki-san?"
Ah, there was that tone again.
The overly polite tone that just wasn't right.
Sakura allowed herself to twitch. "Ah, Hokage-sama… it's just…It's just that we have passed his corridor trice already. If you want the location to remain hidden I think another method would be better." She mouthed.
"Why would you think that I want to keep the location hidden from you?" He asked her, raising an eyebrow at her.
He was going to question everything, wasn't he?
"Well… We seem to be walking in cycles, Hokage-sama." She pointed out to the poster. "We have passed this before. I'm sorry if my conclusion in unjust. I do not mean to offend."
Two could play the game, sneaky old man. Not to mention that she still had Kakashi to beat.
She swore that the corner of the man's lip twitched at her answer.
"My apologies, I was just studying you." He stated, as if that explained everything.
Which to her it did.
But it wasn't supposed to when it concerned Sasaki Hana.
Sakura's eyes widened at the man's blunt reply. "Ah… Oh… Well…"
Still, she hadn't expected the Hokage to take the blunt approach, which made it easier to act on it.
"Does that make you uncomfortable?" The man prodded.
"A little bit I guess…" She started, before twitching, as his eyes seemed to bore into her. "I mean yeah, it does. I do not mean to offend Hokage-sama."
"Why?" He confronted her, seemingly dismissing her politeness again.
"I just don't like being scrutinized…" She started carefully as he continued to do just that. "Like this."" She finished pointedly, unable to keep down the arched eyebrow that came with her statement.
There was that movement of his lips again! Was the old man suppressing a smile?
"Interesting…" He stated instead, though Sakura had the feeling that he was reading a lot more from her reactions that she wanted.
Sakura's eyebrow twitched. 'Interesting?'
What the hell was that supposed to mean?
Damn that man could be frustrating!
As she grumbled, she nearly bumped into the man as he turned around to face her, arms behind is back. His suddenly looked taller and the feeling of authority seemed to pour out of him. Sakura was about to splutter an apology but he was cut her of with another question.
"Why did you come to Konoha?"
She looked at him with real surprise.
'Was this why Naruto kept asking me such tactless and indirect questions back then?' She thought back to their preparation, before thinking of her Shishou.
'Maybe it is a Hokage thing.'
A small alarm went of in the back of her mind – a ninja approaching - but she made sure to answer anyway -
"Originally because my mother came from Kon-"
- seeing as Sasaki Hana wasn't supposed to be able to sense the Chuunin's semi-hidden and flaring chakra-signature to such an extant. Though she probably would be able to sense the light flare in the Hokage's chakra to give the shinobi permission to approach.
So instead, Sakura looked at the man in surprise at his sudden flare and then 'startled' when a Chuunin unexpectedly flashed right next to the Hokage, her answer frozen between her lips.
The slightly-out-of-breath shinobi bowed towards the Hokage, glanced at her and then made a subtle hand movement that asked for permission to get into the Hokage's personal space. The Hokage mirrored his action and the two huddled together, making Sakura feeling oddly left out.
Seeing the two whispering to each other, she turned away from the pair. Even with channelling chakra to her ears, it was difficult to hear what they were discussing except for the few words that managed to slip beyond what was probably a personal jutsu by the Hokage for these situations.
These words were enough for her though to get an impression of what was going on.
She kept her face blank so that the men were oblivious to the fact that she was mentally grinning. Instead, 'Hana' pointedly ignored the whole affair with a sigh and turned around, staring at a copy of the poster that hung on the exact same place as the one in the hallway they had just left. They were practically everywhere.
She remembered some nurses whispering that Tsunade had once burned all of these in the future. Looking at the cartoon of a stereotypical nurse winking cutely like that… She understood why she had done so.
Glancing at the still whispering pair, Sakura looked at the clock that was exactly the same and on exactly the same place just as the one she had seen before.
'11.50. We have been walking around for about fifteen minutes already.' Sakura grumbled, having automatically checked the time as they had walked into the main hall of the Hospital.
Sakura was distracted by the Hokage's signature flashing subtly for a moment and felt slightly giddy at the action. She wasn't sure what kind of jutsu – if at all - he had done, seeing as he was really good at suppressing his chakra for the reservoirs that he had, but she had her suspicions.
She suspected that she would find out soon as well.
A minute later, the Chuunin disappeared with a quick bow and the Hokage turned back to her. She frowned at him and pointed to the poster.
"Hokage-sama, this poster has this little brown spot right here… Do the nurses drink coffee in the hallway?" She asked with annoyance.
Shishou would have disapproved.
"Even in the rooms of the patients?" She couldn't help but ask.
'Really, had Shishou's influence dropped so much during the time of her absence?'
The man actually seemed to pause. "I'm not sure." He answered slowly and Sakura was surprised by his honesty, so she nodded somewhat reluctantly.
"Unhygienic." She left it at that, glaring at the large coffee spot.
The old man nodded slowly. "I will question it. However –" His eyes reclaimed their previous seriousness. " – I wasn't able to listen to your answer."
She nodded and sighed as she openly tried to find the right way to get her story across.
"Why are you here?" He repeated.
She paused, before she turned to him and adapted an open posture.
"Because sometimes people need distraction. Sometimes, people need a new start. That was what I told the boys." She started off, knowing that he was probably already somewhat aware of the quote through Naruto.
"I have been a lone for a while now. My mother died because of a fire and ever since then…" She swallowed, not even hiding the awful memory that resurfaced.
Shishou's death had not been a happy one.
"I was just… alone." She remembered waking up in the cave all those months ago. "In the village, I didn't feel at home, nor can I make much difference there." She carefully chose her words so she wasn't lying, but not too slow so that he would notice.
"I... My mother was very skilled, especially at medical jutsu. She has taught me to use the talent that I possessed and she told me I would be great and be able to do so much more. Maybe even more than her, she said. I called her crazy at the time." A soft sad chuckle escaped her as she looked at her hands.
"I was told that I could make a difference here that I could help people I would care about." She thought about Naruto's words. "So, in the end it felt like the only option left for me."
A determined glint appeared in her eyes, which the Hokage couldn't help but admire slightly. "At first, I felt out of place here. Maybe I still do ever so slightly, but then I met Keiko-san. Then Naruto came along, being the ball of energy that he is and then I literally bumped into Sasuke." She smiled. "Some of my patients depends on me now. Most of them are kind. I'm being useful and people are precious to me. Well…it gives me something to fight for."
Sakura suddenly realised how much she had been babbling. "Ah… I'm sorry Hokage-sama." She apologised in embarrassment.
"You're very passionate." The man told her, studying her slightly flushed face.
She shrugged. "It's just something I'm good at." She stated, referring to her medical skills, as if that explained everything.
Maybe it did. Just a tiny bit.
"Well then…" He muttered and took a step closer, causing the woman to tense slightly as he brushed her personal space. His chakra suddenly seemed more pronounced and she shuddered slightly.
"Can I trust you?"
"Excuse me?" She blurted out before she could help herself.
He didn't say anything, just stared at her in a somewhat slightly threatening manner.
This man was dangerous, she reminded herself. She didn't know him as personally as her other important people she had met so far. She couldn't underestimate him.
She was well aware that she was on dangerous grounds.
So, she gaped like a fish for a minute before trying to find the right words. "Eh… Hokage-sama. I have no intention to harm Konoha in any way."
He glared at her now and a tingle of killing intent leaked out. She felt a shiver run down her spine before she suddenly felt annoyed. How dare he ask her that! She wasn't lying! She was trying to help! Why else had she travelled all this way and left her last true precious person behind! She might even have freaking erased his existence doing so!
Her posture changed and her eyes blazed, which was most likely carefully noted by her current opponent.
"Hokage-sama." She started respectfully. "I might not be a Kunoichi on the field, but I still am one. Fire Country has been my home all my life and I will protect the Will of Fire that my mother always told me about in tales as a little child. I might not be completely trustworthy to you and I accept that. I do have my secrets and private things that I do not want to share. I might have made mistakes in my life and can still make them but my intentions are good! I am here to help Konoha!" She willed the man to understand, trying to remain as polite as possible.
It frustrated her that she couldn't read the Hokage's expression, as he remained unfazed by her words.
"If you are worried about Naruto and Sasuke, I care about the brats too! It especially amazes me how strong Naruto is when people treat him like dirt. I will not let those stupid people - " The Hokage's eyes narrowed dangerously at that "- crush the boy's heart because they look down upon him so much!" Sakura snarled silently at the man. "I'm pretty sure he didn't do anything to deserve such treatment and he deserves better than that loneliness!"
There was a long pause at the two regarded each other. Sakura's heart sped up, realising that her temper had gotten the best of her. While she didn't think she had said anything too out of character… She hoped.
Oh man… She was screwed.
She slowly changed her stance and bowed in apology. "My apologies. Hokage-sama. I was out of line."
His eyes bore into her and she awaited her faith nervously.
"You are an odd one." He muttered and she ducked her head.
"Follow me." The man interrupted her and they once again, followed the path that they had walked a few times before.
She wondered if she had actually managed to pass a test of some sort. She sure didn't feel like it.
However, this time, the Hokage turned to the left and he led her to the right room, so that probably meant that she had done something right. She automatically took note of the room number – even though she already knew it - and followed the man into the room.
She faltered slightly as she realised that they weren't as alone as she had expected.
"Is something wrong Sasaki-san?"
She hated that tone.
Sakura shook her head slowly as she glanced at the familiar figure that lay in the same bed that she had visited for many weeks. Not that the man behind her should know about that. Right now she was supposed to be a relatively normal healer that just wanted to help a little brat that she couldn't say no to.
All right and maybe a healer that had been 'tricked' by Kakashi as well.
Sasaki Hana wasn't 'someone' with a second agenda after all.
She just had a bit of a temper.
Nor was Sasaki Hana supposed to – or should be rather unlikely to - recognise the significance of meeting someone with that particular shade of blue eyes combined with blond hair during situations like this. Traits, which the man standing near the patient's bed just happened to possess. A man, whom was far too familiar and appeared to be waiting for her to possibly a look into her mind.
'Ino's dad looks so young!' Sakura mentally exclaimed, which was soon followed with more frustrated grumbling. 'I was afraid that this might happen…'
But Sasaki Hana wasn't supposed to know.
And she was Sasaki Hana.
So she didn't now.
He might read her mind.
'I'm Sasaki Hana.'
It was an odd feeling for Sakura as switched to her second personality. A faint echo of her childish cry of 'Shannaro' helped her stabilise.
'Just like Ino told me.' She reminded herself and slowly breathed out.
Sasaki Hana didn't have any reason to be nervous.
So instead of showing how 'glad' she was to meet Inoichi alive again, Hana looked at the 'unfamiliar' shinobi questioningly, before she soon switching her attention to the patient – as if she didn't know that the man was probably going to test her.
As if she hadn't felt like she had punched in the stomach upon seeing him.
She missed Ino.
The door behind them opened and two loud exclamations followed, providing a perfect and well-needed distraction.
"Hana-san." Came the calmer reply from Kakashi as the two boys run up to her and practically clamped to her.
She automatically smiled with affection at the boys, before she frowned at Sasuke's expression. He looked troubled.
"Are you alright Sasuke?" She asked carefully.
"You never believe this!" Naruto exclaimed.
She blinked at them, surprised at their odd behaviour. She glanced at Mikoto, wondering if she wasn't supposed to start her diagnostic run.
"We saw Sasuke's saviour!"
So they had somehow spotted her clone?
Well… that's inconvenient.' Sakura thought with a resigned mental sigh, but didn't feel panicked. There had only been an initial moment of nervousness before she reminded herself that the clone would have dispelled as soon as possible if it had been important or a problem. Seeing as she hadn't received any memories yet, it should be fine.
Right. Just fine.
The clone must have been careless for a moment.' She grumbled slightly at her mistake, before she paused.
It did sound somewhat arrogant and one should always be prepared to make mistakes… but still…
'Normally I am very careful…' She couldn't help but think, an odd feeling nagging her. 'I should be able to hide from them easily.'
Something was off.
Sakura carefully waited a moment before turning her eyes away from Mikoto's figure before focusing on Naruto.
"Sorry what did you say?"
She was glad that Kakashi - who she was pretty sure snorted at her inquiry - seemed to take up the role again as translator and nodded at him in thanks, which he practically ignored.
"We saw Sasuke's saviour!" Naruto repeated with a slight pout of having been slightly ignored.
''Who are you talking about?" She asked him with a frown.
"The shinobi that saved Sasuke that night whe-!" Naruto continued to explain in his usual tactless manner, earning a mean punch from Sasuke, who suddenly looked more depressed.
"Slow down. I don't know what you are exactly talking about, but be more attentive of Sasuke's feelings Naruto." She warned, making the boy actually slump forward when he saw the 'Teme's' face.
"Sorry Teme. I didn't mean to."
"Sorry… Sasuke." Naruto relented with a sigh.
Said boy shrugged.
"So what happened?" Sakura asked Sasuke, trying to get him out of the mood as she lowered herself to her knees in front of them. She snapped her fingers when he didn't react, causing his eyes to focus on her.
What was he brooding about?
"It's alright. I just didn't get to say thank you I suppose." He nearly whispered as if he was ashamed to say it. He nudged Naruto and as if he switched something on, Naruto took over again.
"Kakashi-san took us out to watch the village on the Hokage-Monument because we wanted something fun to do while you talked to Jiji about more boring stuff! So we were like, watching the sun and Kakashi taught me to tell when it is noon by looking at it and it was noon! And then like that ninja just was there suddenly!" Naruto made a 'whoosh'-ing sound to emphasise it. "Kakashi-san jumped in front of us ready to fight but the ninja just stood there on the corner of the Hokage monument for a few seconds, before he noticed us and then he disappeared!" The boy babbled, making large arm movements in his enthusiasm.
Wait a minute.
'He stood there for a moment?'
Something was definitely off.
Keeping her curious and concentrated – he was talking loud and fast again - expression intact, while distractedly glancing at her soon to be patient, the wheels in Sakura's head started spinning.
Sasuke never told her about what happened that night of the massacred. Nor did she know anything about planning to show her real masked identity to him. In fact, she always made sure to stay away from him. It was one of those thoughts - orders - that her clones followed.
Sakura felt alarm bell ring in her head.
She had the suspicion that this was not her clone.
So why where they saying that they sa-
Something clicked and a mental sly grin threatened to affect her mask, but she managed to suppress it.
Ho ho ho.
'So my clone is still out there and it was not the one that the boys had seen…' She started. 'Kakashi hadn't reported anything to the Hokage either. So he probably knew about the situation. Yet that couldn't have been the Chuunin reporting, because I think it was about ten minutes before noon when I looked at one of the clocks in the hallway during their conversation. The boys spotted the fake figure at noon. So they hadn't expected the 'real figure' to be spotted while I was with the Hokage? Why else would the Chuunin alert the Hokage like that?' So they had been hoping to get a reaction out of me?'
Had she reacted surprised by the fact that there was supposedly a second copy of her because she was the 'shinobi prowling around' – it would have somewhat suspicious indeed.
Now though, it seemed like she had actually made some sort of evidence for an alibi instead. Which was probably not what had they were looking for.
She couldn't help but chuckle mentally, though she was aware that she needed to be more careful. Next time this probably wouldn't work out as well as it did now.
After all, the Hokage really was dangerous.
It also seemed that the Professor was more paranoid than she had thought. Sakura had suspected that there would have been made a connection eventually between Sasaki Hana and 'the saviour' as they put it, but she hadn't expected them to do so soon, nor to set something up to test her like this.
She mentally snorted.
In reality, where time seemed to go much slower now that the wheels in her head were spinning full-time to work out their supposed plan, Sasaki Hana smiled at Sasuke in a slightly sad manner.
"I see… Maybe you can say thank you another time Sasuke." She tried to placate him.
The brooding boy shrugged and she sighed, her brain still working vigorously.
The truth was, before Sakura had left her clinic, Sakura had made three clones to split her chakra – especially a large part of the demonic chakra – before meeting the Hokage. The clones and her jutsu wouldn't be detected in the house because of the elder Naruto's seals that he had designed for this.
This way, her unusual chakra reserves for someone with such control would be underestimated. Otherwise it would only have drawn more suspicion on her. Her reserves had been quite on par with Shishou when one compared their efficiency.
She did not want the attention from them because they thought she had the potential strength of Sanin – even though it was slightly true. Hence, why she had made the clones. Luckily so, seeing as the Hokage had checked her while holding her hand. She had noticed his chakra shift.
One of the clones that she had made, without demonic chakra, was allowed to sneak through Konoha as long as it kept disappearing, so that she would have at least have shaky alibi. Just for situations like this, where they started to connect the dots and have suspicions.
Which needed to be broken.
'Still needed to be broken.' She decided, as she was suddenly very much aware of the eyes that were watching her very carefully.
And that hurt.
She stood slowly and glanced at the people surrounding her, pausing for a second on Kakashi who also regarded her warily.
It really hurt.
But Sasaki Hana should be oblivious.
So, ignoring the heavy feeling that she got from the wary glances, she ruffled the completely oblivious – lucky them - boys' hair and turned to Mikoto's form.
"Look Sasuke. Maybe you won't be able to say thank you, maybe you will. Still, let's focus on your mother now alright?"
That got the boy out of his brooding and he practically ran over to the bed before looking at her with such hopeful eyes that she felt slightly nervous.
'What if it didn't work?'
She quickly shook her head and took a determined step forward. She was going to do this. Stretching quickly, she turned to the Hokage.
"Hokage-sama. I can conclude that I have permission to run my diagnosis?"
The man had taken out his pipe, but slowly put it back when he saw her looking at it. She wasn't quite sure what she had done to make him falter, but he luckily didn't comment on it.
"Yes you may. Yamanaka Inoichi will help you out."
She didn't show the relief that she felt.
No mind infiltration for now it seemed.
She glanced at the man who was going to 'help her out'.
It was like being under surveillance all over again.
Instead of letting her relief or irritation show, she smiled at the man and bowed.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Yamanaka-san. Let's get Uchiha-san back to health! May I ask what your field of expertise is?"
The boy's were very disappointed when they were told that 'No.' Sasaki-san wouldn't be able to heal Uchiha-san within a day.
'It will take time. Maybe weeks.'
'No Naruto-kun, she will be busy.'
'Please be patient and let her do her job.'
'Sasuke, you can't stay here the whole day. You don't want to break her concentration right?'
Sakura never thought that she would ever see the two boys brooding together.
~ Couple of days later ~
Naruto couldn't help but get rid of the pout that was on his face as he strolled along his usual path near the hospital. He understood why the Hokage would sacrifice their dinnertime together after seeing that the man was drowned in the piles of papers that had surrounded him. It had happened before. Being a Hokage was important after all.
Normally he would go visit Hana-nee-chan, but that wasn't possible anymore. Really Naruto was glad that Hana-nee-chan would be able to help Sasuke's mom. If she got healthy again that should be more than worth it.
Still, he couldn't help but wonder if Hana would still have enough time to see him. She hadn't spent more then half an hour with him the last couple of days.
He was unable to shake off the fear to lose the person that really seemed to see him for… well him. He could be Uzumaki Naruto in her clinic without being afraid of the glare that normally awaited him upon the proclamation. He was able to walk in without being surprised by the fact that she smiled a real smile at him – which sometimes still did surprise him.
It was addicting.
He didn't want to lose it.
If he were to be very honest with himself, then he realised that maybe he didn't even want to share his Hana-nee-chan with Sasuke.
The blond child frowned upon the thought.
It was true that he had met her first. It was even him that had told Sasuke that he could visit her, but only because Sasuke-teme had looked so lost.
So, Naruto had concluded that Hana-nee-chan might be able to help him too – like she had helped him.
A tiny egocentric part of him couldn't help but regret doing so.
Naruto sighed and pushed his hands into his pockets as he looked at the large lake on his right. The sun was setting and it created a beautiful orange hue across the lake.
Another day was nearly passed. Another day that he had survived.
At least, that would have been his original thoughts in his past. Now, he had something to look forward to. He had acknowledgement.
Speaking of acknowledgement, it took Naruto a moment to realise that someone was sitting at his usual spot on the pier of the lake.
'Speaking of the devil…' The blond thought, a phrase he had overheard from Kakashi-san and forced him to explain.
Naruto couldn't help but winch as he took in the sad and worried-looking form of Sasuke, guiltily thinking back to the nearly ugly thoughts that he had been thinking.
Sasuke also need someone.
He was not the same Teme that he had gotten to know the previous years at the academy.
He had lost everyone around him.
Naruto clenched his fists. How would he feel if he were to lose Hana-nee-chan? He had not known her for a very long time, but it hurt. He couldn't even bare to imagine losing so many people like her.
Biting his lip, he noticed that he had paused in his steps and that he was practically staring at the emotional hurt boy sitting alone at the pier.
Why wasn't he with his mother anyway? Was Hana having another session with her?
Naruto twitched when Sasuke suddenly seemed to notice his presence and turned to him.
Their eyes met and for that moment, when Naruto suddenly felt like he understood, Sasuke shot him an empty-not-really-meant glare and turned back to the water.
Naruto nearly automatically returned said glare and walked away with an irritated huff, before he paused as realisation hit him in form of a memory.
He remembered asking her the question that he just couldn't formulate better, but it hadn't been necessary. After staring at him for what seemed a long time – he had twitched uncomfortably which she seemed to shake out of her thought – she had smiled sadly at him and retrieved a whiteboard that she had already written on. He easily recognised it as a conversation with Sasuke-teme and tried to ignore that stupid twinge of jealousy in favour of some words that seemed to hit home.
"Because sometimes people need distraction. Sometimes they need someone to talk to – I'm a very good listener. Sometimes people need acknowledgement. Sometimes, people need a place to feel at home. Sometimes, people need a new start."
He had stared in wonder at the words that were encircled which caused her to point at herself before erasing the circles carefully. Then she had reached out for a marker and encircled "talk", "acknowledgement" and "home" and had pointed to him.
"You deserve that Naruto-kun." She had then written.
It took her only a second to embrace him when the first tears had proceeded to spill.
Even now, Naruto couldn't help but feel odd tingling warmth from the memory.
He narrowed his eyes in concentration as he thought back to the inspirational sentences that she had written and glanced back towards Sasuke's sulking figure.
'Which words referred to you?'
He glanced into the direction that he was going and then back to Sasuke.
'Why am I even thinking about it anyway? He obviously doesn't want me around…' Naruto thought, feeling slightly put out.
Naruto bit his lip again, pondering what he should do.
~ Sasuke ~
He felt nervous, afraid, angry and most of all worried and alone.
How dare those women tell him to wait outside? How dare that stupid Jounin proceed to drag him outside and block the entry of the hospital? – and then proceed to block his way when he tried to find another entry?
He should be with his mother. If it had been anyone else than Hana-san whom had come outside and asked him to take a walk, to just get something to eat and to come back in about two hours the Uchiha would have refused.
But he hadn't, because she had asked him to and she was helping him when no one else seemed to be able to.
So he had stomped away.
He still had hadn't eaten yet though.
He still had one hour to go. He would just wait here, it would be easier to get back to the hospital that way. He could get a snack out of the machines if he eventually got really hungry.
Sasuke continued to brood for a while before he felt the hairs in his neck stand up.
Someone was watching him.
He hated that feeling.
He twitched as he saw someone standing at the road in the corner of his eye and then swirled around.
The orange jacket was the only hint that he needed.
'Tche... It's the dobe after all.' Sasuke thought, before taking in the boy's expression.
For a moment he was taken back by the worried look – and was that sympathy? - that was present in the blond's eyes.
It automatically caused him to glare. He was fed up with it. He didn't need anyone's pity, pointedly ignoring the fact that it hadn't been pity that had been in the blond's eyes. He quickly turned back around and stared angrily at the water.
As he glared, he noticed his reflection glaring back at him. He kicked the water in frustration. He had not done anything wrong, the dobe deserved it anywa-
Sasuke couldn't deny that he had reacted too emotional.
If anything, of all the people around him, probably only the Dobe could understand the loneliness that he was feeling. He knew that Naruto was an orphan after all. Never had he really cared before, but ever since the accident he couldn't help but feel slightly guilty for have always refused to acknowledge the pain for Naruto that it must have come along with it.
Now that Sasuke was alone though…
Thinking rationally, Naruto may not have lost people, but he had lived longer in this loneliness than he had. At the thought, Sasuke gripped his shirt tightly, his knuckles white and hands shaking.
How did he still smile like that?
That annoying grin still plastered on his face all the time at the academy?
Was it even real?
Was that why he was so obsessed with Hana-san?
Thinking of the woman, he was automatically brought back to the sentences that she had written down and the slightly sad but loving look that she had given the distracted Naruto when talking about the blond simply needing someone to talk to and to acknowledge him.
Eyes slowly widened as he realized it.
He understood now.
Sasuke bit his lip, realizing how mean he had treated the boy moment ago. A sudden energy took grip from him – what wouldn't mother and Hana think? – and the boy swirled around.
"Wait! Naru-" He exclaimed as he stood on his feet again.
He faltered as he came face in face with said figure. Naruto was standing not far away from him on the pier, having paused his quiet and reluctant approach.
The two boys stood there for a moment and a soft breeze of wind seemed to surround them, as they stared silently away from each other, not quite sure how to react to the other's kind gesture and having been caught doing so by the other.
"I –" Both of them started, before quieting down.
Looking at each other expectantly now, their nervousness toned down when they met the other's eyes.
Sad blue met sad dark grey.
Both of their masks fell for a tiny moment, each of the boys able to see the pain that the other went through.
"Sasuke." Naruto eventually spoke somewhat awkwardly, breaking the silence.
"Naruto." Sasuke copied him, finishing the name properly this time.
Then at an unspoken signal the two of them smiled.
A soft chuckle echoed across the water, which colours changed ever so slightly as the blue and the orange mixed and changed into a beautiful palette of orange, blue, purple and brown.
~ One hour later ~
Sakura frowned as she glanced back and forth between the two boys. What had happened between them? They seemed so… calm.
They weren't bickering.
Not even glaring.
There was no challenge between them right now.
It… it reminded her off those spare few peaceful times during her time as being part of the original team Seven. But even those memories were hazy nowadays.
She glanced at Kakashi, who stood behind the boys, but he simply shrugged and held up his hands in defence.
'Don't look at me.' He seemed to say.
She turned to the boys again who were looking at her in confusion.
"Are you two alright?" She asked carefully, hearing Kakashi repeat her words again.
The two boys glanced at each other before smiling.
"Yeah…" Sasuke started.
"No problem." Naruto grinned sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.
Hana blinked at the two of them looked at them sharply as if not quite believing them, before her eyes softened and she nodded at them.
Kakashi privately wondered if she had spotted something that he couldn't and looked at the boy's quizzingly.
"Good." She said sincerely and then smiled broadly.
The boys couldn't help but wonder why their own faced returned the broad smile at their own accord and where that odd proud sensation came from. Her smile was simply contagious.
For a moment, Sakura felt incredibly happy.
A bond had been formed – a step had been taken – that would never have been able to form in the original timeline.
And she refused to feel jealous about it - again.
~ End Chapter ~
Did I do okay? Please acknowlegde my effort by sharing your thoughts :)
Longest chapter so far, but I just had to get a right ending. I think you guys probably don't mind hehe.
Also, sorry for the lack of Sakura x Kakashi interaction, there will be more next chapter! I just decided that the others also deserve a little bit of limelight.
In case anyone is a little confuses...(I hope I get this down right):
Sakura made a clone to run around in the village (clone A). There was another person ordered to appear in front of the boys (clone B - indeed a set up by the Hokage). The Hokage wanted to test if Sakura was 'the same person as' clone A, which was why they were trying to get an 'how is that possible' reaction out of her when the boys spotted clone B. Unfortunately for the Hokage, clone A was spotted and reported just ten minutes before their own setup. Sakura was with him at the time and therefore it made it look like an alibi, plus it made Sakura aware of their suspicions and therefore, that she should be more careful.
(how did I get up with this again?)