Fear of the Truth
He picked up his forehead protector and tied it on. Once he was happy with the reflection he saw in the mirror he headed downstairs for breakfast. About two rooms away from Naruto's destination his pace slowed a bit. "She's gonna be waiting for an answer," he thought with dread. He sat down on a bench in the hallway and sighed heavily.
"Not sure of what you're going to tell Tsunade-sama yet, huh?"
Naruto looked up at Shizune. "No," he said dejectedly.
Shizune smiled and sat down next to Naruto. She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry. Whatever you decide, she'll respect that."
"I know," Naruto replied, scratching the poison ivy rash on the back of his left hand. "I just don't wanna hurt her feelings."
"Do you know how much you look like her brother; how much you act like him?" Naruto shook his head. "You even have the same dream. He wanted to be Hokage too before..." Tears began to prick at the corners of her eyes and she took a moment to compose herself. "For her, having you here is almost like having her brother back."
"So I'm his replacement..." Naruto said with a frown.
"No! She cares about you, Naruto. But, it's because you remind her so much of Nawaki that she's terrified of you dying like he did."
Naruto's face showed his shock. "She's...afraid of me dying?"
"Very much, Naruto-kun," Shizune answered with somewhat worried expression.
Naruto looked down. "Thank you, Shizune nee-san. I know what to do now."
Shizune looked surprised. "You do?"
"Uhn," Naruto replied.
"Okay then. I'll see you in the dining room," Shizune said as she rose and walked away.
Tsunade looked up as Naruto entered the room. Izumi was already serving Shizune a plate of pork rice balls. "Morning, Brat," Tsunade said with a smile.
Naruto sat down at the table, an oddly serious look on his face. "I've decided to go back to my apartment," he said as Izumi set a bowl of miso ramen on the table in front of him.
Shizune dropped her chopsticks and looked at Tsunade, who had a downtrodden expression. "I see. Well, if that is your decision..."
"It's not that I don't like it here. And it's not that I don't like you and Shizune nee-san. I just...don't want to be protected," Naruto said with an odd tone to his voice.
Tsunade threw on a fake "brave face". "Well, then. We'll have your things moved back after breakfast."
"Tsunade-sama?" Shizune questioned.
Tsunade noted the concerned look on her friend's face. "I'm okay, Shizune," she said with a non-shalant wave of her hand and a smile. She took the last bite of her food and stood. "I have some work to finish. Naruto, come say goodbye before you leave, okay?"
"Okay," Naruto said with a gentle expression. He watched Tsunade go with a sick feeling in his stomach. He knew he had hurt her.
The blond haired thirteen year old turned to look at Shizune. "Hm?"
Naruto let out a sigh. "If she's always trying to keep me safe it'll get in the way of her job. Trust me, I'm doing everyone a favor."
"Naruto. It may not seem like it sometimes, but she takes her job as Hokage very seriously. Her duties wouldn't be in danger of lapse if you stayed."
"I've made up my mind," Naruto said with conviction.
"I see." She rose from her seat. "I'll get the staff to start packing your things."
Naruto stood. "It's okay. I can do it," said with a small smile. With that, he left the room.
Shizune watched him go, then turned her gaze to the door of Tsunade's home office. She walked through the short hallway and knocked on the door. "Tsunade-sama. May I come in?"
"Yeah," came the muffled reply from behind the closed door.
Shizune walked into the room to see Tsunade sitting at her desk, head and folded arms resting on it. She wasn't surprised that there were tears in the eyes of the Fifth, but she was surprised that she had been allowed to see them. "Tsunade-sama..." she began.
Tsunade sniffled and wiped her eyes. "I'm alright. I guess, I just really thought he would choose to stay."
"You never know. He could change his mind," Shizune offered.
Tsunade sighed and stood up. "No. I'm not going to push this," she said heavily. A knock sounded on the door. "Yes?"
"It's me, Tsunade...sama," came Naruto's muffled voice from behind the door.
"Come in, Naruto," Tsunade answered.
"I'm ready," Naruto answered with a somewhat downcast look. He had his back pack, which was once again packed to the gills, slung over his right shoulder.
Tsunade stood and walked over to Naruto. "Let's go then." With that, she turned and walked out of the room.
Naruto finished stuffing the last of his shirts into the dresser in his room. He looked at the digital clock on the tiny night stand next to his bed. It read ten fifteen. It would be nearly two hours until he had to go to the meeting hall to get his mission assignments for the week. He decided to check out his newest manga. He pulled a storage box from under his bed and lifted off the cover. He took one of the manga from the top, flopped onto his bed and began to read.
It wasn't long into the manga that an odd, empty feeling began to creep up on him. Suddenly, the place he had called home for most of his life felt cold and uninviting; as if someone had sucked all the life out of the world and replaced it with an eerie silence.
He sighed, changed positions, sighed again and finally sat up. "Music. I just need some music." He turned on his very run down looking radio and tuned it to his favorite station. Rock music flooded the room and he tried to go back to his manga.
Sakura was sitting on the roof of one of the Konoha buildings, trying to think of a way to change Sasuke's mind. A flash of Lee's concerned face invaded her thoughts. She shook it away. "Why the hell do I keep thinking of Lee-kun? she thought in irritation. "I love Sasuke-kun. I will always love Sasuke-kun! Even if...even if he never loves me back...I still...I still..." She pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her head on them. "I'm so confused," she thought as a tear ran down her face.
She wiped her eyes and stood. "I won't give up!" she said with a determined look on her face. Suddenly, there was someone beside her. She did the first thing she could think of against the intruder...she belted him one. Sakura watched in horror as Naruto fell off the three story roof. "Naruto!" She yelled as she quickly dove off the roof, landing just before Naruto hit the ground and caught the unconscious boy. Both teens rolled backwards over the grassy yard behind the building, skidding to a halt just in time to avoid slamming into a tree.
Sakura sighed in relief. Looking him over she decided he would be fine. "Naruto," No response, "Na..." she began when she noticed that his shirt and jacket had been pulled almost completely off when he had slid off the roof . But that wasn't what had broken her sentence. She had seen a fairly large, oddly shaped scar on the upper right portion of Naruto's chest. "When did he get that?" she wondered. As she bent down to more carefully examine the scar her eyes widened.
Sakura stared in horror at the scene before her eyes. The masked boy had jumped in front of the deadly rakiri to save Zabuza. Kakashi's fist was now through that boy's chest, sticking out of his back on the other side.
Sakura closed her fist and slowly put it up to the scar. She gasped when she saw that it matched the size of the scar almost perfectly. She jerked her hand away and quickly rolled her friend over. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw an exit scar on his back. "When the hell did he have a fist through his chest?" she said in a low, horrified voice.
Naruto groaned and put his hand to his head. "Uhhhnn. What the hell hit me?"
A very guilty looking Sakura walked into Naruto's field of somewhat blurry vision. "I did," she said with a grimace. Her expression changed to a frown. "But you shouldn't sneak up on me like that!" she said, pointing an accusing finger at the blonde on the couch.
Naruto simply made an annoyed sound and folded his arms. This action made him realize that he had nothing on his top half. "What the!" he said with wide eyes.
"Your stuff is in the washer. It had grass stains all over it," Sakura explained.
"Oh," Naruto replied.
Sakura sat down next to her team mate. "Hey, Naruto? Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" Naruto shook his head. Sakura let out a short puff of air. "How did you get that scar on your chest?"
Naruto's eyes went as wide as possible. "I...I can't tell you."
"I'm your friend. You should tell me when you're seriously hurt," she admonished. Naruto remained silent. This upset Sakura. For some reason she just had to know. "Someone punched through you...didn't they!"
Naruto gritted his teeth. "Trust me, Sakura. You don't want to know."
"Tell me!" Sakura said, raising her voice.
"NO!" Naruto yelled.
"Why won't you tell me!" Sakura asked with a panicked expression. She knew. Somehow she just knew who it was, but she was desperate for Naruto to tell her she was wrong. "TELL ME! TELL ME IT WASN'T SASUKE-KUN!" she screamed in anguish.
Naruto's eyes widened, then he squeezed them shut and looked down.
Sakura's hands flew to her face as a tear filled gasp left her mouth. "It's a lie...IT'S A LIE...!" she yelled as she stood and backed away.
Naruto bit his lower lip. "Sakura..." he began, reaching out a hand toward his friend.
"NO!" Sakura screamed as she turned and ran out of Naruto's apartment.
"Shit!" Naruto cursed as he stood and ran after Sakura. "SAKURA-CHAN!" He called out. No answer came. He looked in every direction, but she was nowhere to be seen. "Dammit!" he swore and ran off to look for her.
By the time Sakura had stopped running her lungs felt like they were on fire. "It just can't be true. He...he had to've been aiming for a non-vital spot! He...he wouldn't try to kill Naruto!" She dropped to the forest floor and began to sob. "S...Sasuke-kuuuunn!" she wailed.
Sasuke looked up from the jutsu scroll he'd been studying. "Was that...Sakura?" He stood and walked toward the voice he'd just heard.
He found her in a small clearing, not far from where he had been. She was crying loudly. Sasuke was confused. "Sakura?" he said in careful voice.
Sakura sucked in a breath, but remained in the fetal ball she'd been in for the last five minutes. After a moment of silence she spoke in a very small voice. "Sasuke-kun?"
Sasuke took a step forward. "Yes?"
"Please...tell me it's a lie..."
"Tell you what is a lie?"
"Please...I'm begging you. Tell me you didn't try to kill Naruto," Sakura pleaded.
Sasuke's face showed his shock. "Sakura..."
Sakura got up and launched herself at Sasuke,clinging desperately to his shirt. "You weren't trying to kill him...right? He just moved to the wrong spot when you threw your...your..." her words faltered. After a moment her eyes became wide and her face wore a horrified expression. She backed away from Sasuke, staring at him in utter disbelief. The scene of Kakashi and Haku once again had flashed into her mind. "Chidori..." her words were barely audible. "You used chidori..."
"Sakura..." Sasuke began. He didn't like the look in his friend's eyes. He could tell she was going to loose it.
"How could you...?" Sakura asked, visibly shaking. "How could you DO THAT!" she screamed, feeling like the events that were unfolding must have been some insane nightmare.
Just then Naruto ran into the clearing. "Sakura-chan! Stop! Please stop!"
Suddenly, Sakura was angry. "HOW COULD YOU TWO KEEP THIS FROM ME!"
"We...we didn't want you to be hurt..." Naruto said in a guilty tone.
"DIDN'T WANT ME TO GET HURT! What the HELL do you think is happening now!" Sakura screamed in response, gesturing wildly with her arms.
"Sakura!" Naruto said as he grabbed her shoulder. Sakura pushed his hand away.
"NO! I won't hear anymore!"
"Sakura, you need to understand..." Sasuke began, desperate to erase the look of hurt and anger in her eyes.
"Understand! UNDERSTAND WHAT! That you," she said pointing a finger at Sasuke, "nearly became a MURDERER!"
"IT WASN'T HIS FAULT!" Naruto yelled, stunning both of his friends into silence.
"Naruto..." Sasuke said.
"It wasn't his fault. The seal made him crazy. It amplified all of his hate and he did things he never would've without it." He turned to Sasuke. "Tell her...about the mangekyo."
Sakura suddenly squeezed her eyes shut and she put her hand to her forehead. She made one small grunt of pain before slumping to the ground.
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto yelled out of concern.
Sasuke bent down and checked Sakura's pulse. "It's alright, Naruto. I think she just over did it," Sasuke said reassuringly.
"Should we take her home?" Naruto asked.
Sasuke thought for a moment. "No. It would be...awkward, talking to her about this where people will hear her yelling."
Naruto nodded with understanding.
After about seventeen minutes Sakura groaned and slowly sat up. Naruto walked over to her. "Are you okay?"
Sakura didn't say anything, but numbly nodded.
"I'm sorry. I guess we thought we could pretend it never happened," Naruto said.
Sakura got shakily to her feet. "I need some time to think. Would you two mind leaving me alone for a while?" She said quietly.
"But..." Naruto began to protest.
Sasuke rolled his eyes and grabbed Naruto by the collar. "Let's go, Dobe."
"Hey!" Naruto said loudly as he tried to pull his collar from the other boy's grasp. After a minute he gave up and began walking on his own.
As she watched them go something stirred in her soul. "I need to become stronger. So that next time...I can stop something like this from happening.
"Genma was standing calmly at guard when Sakura came walking up to him. "Yes?"
Sakura had a very determined look on her face as she spoke. "I need to speak with Tsunade-sama..."
...TO BE CONTINUED
(All review responses are for the previous chapter)
TimeShifter- how old are they? This is six months after Sasuke went bonkers, so they're almost 14.
hiddenwindmill- Did you really mean to write that Naruto was Gama Bunta's subordinate? A subordinate is someone who is under the command of someone else. That seems unclear, maybe you could do something to make that more accurate. :) I'm not sure it's quite the proper term, but it's the one ANBUone uses so I went with it. Lol.