The Hidden Truths of the Village Hidden in the Leaves
Summary: Starting after the trip to the Land of the Waves, Sasuke has developed a sense of overprotectivness a shinobi feels towards their partner and Naruto has to deal with new surprises every day. The secret behind the Uchiha clan massacre is revealed and Orochimaru is scared of one man. ANBU and foxes flock towards Naruto as much as danger does. A whole new take on the life of Team 7 and co.
Sasuke didn’t know what he was thinking when he had set off towards the graveside of their, up until rather recently, two enemies but there was one thing he did know with absolute surety as he walked in the direction of the cliff that overlooked the small village and that was that there was an annoyingly loud blond shinobi there, sitting and staring at the two graves. The youngest Uchiha didn’t know what to think about all that has led up to the point where they were now, Naruto being quiet and reserved and him going out of his way to find him and try to get him to open up. Before the fight with Haku, he and Naruto might as well have been bitter rivals but ever since he woke up after the battle was over, things had drastically changed.
He had become hyper aware of the blond’s movements and thought patterns, to the point that he knew when to turn around and catch Naruto if the younger boy was about to stumble or to say something that would have him smiling despite his best efforts even if the thing he said was’t really all that funny to anyone else, meaning that they had developed their own personal inside jokes. It wasn’t as if Sasuke had become a comedian or that he and Naruto were now best friends ... although they were closer now
‘Urgh. I need to stop thinking about this. Especially about the dobe.’ The dark haired ninja thought with a scowl as he sidestepped a small puddle of rain water. It had been a vicious storm last night and Team Kakashi had had to save seven people, the event made even more memorable when Naruto got knocked out after saving some two year old girl that had fallen in the water. Sasuke had admitted to himself that he was extremely glad that he was now so aware of Naruto because if he hadn’t been, no one would have noticed the moron was hurt until it would have been too late. The genius genin had to repress a shiver at the thought of seeing the so full of life blond silenced forever. There was just something incredibly wrong about such a notion. He had barely made it in time before the other boy drowned. Sakura and Inari had been crying when they saw Naruto in such a state. Kakashi had looked solemn as he checked him over before sighing in relief when he found nothing worse then a bump on his head. His relief was quickly shared with the rest of the village but Sasuke had refused to let anyone take the blond from his hold until he himself put him down on a warm bed and then helped his sensei get their teammate out of his wet and cold clothes. They slept through the night by his side only to be woken in the morning by a hyperactive blond running out of the room and towards the dinning room in search for breakfast.
The blond had been his usual self until the bridge, now finished and ready for its first travelers, was mentioned. The genuine smile had slipped from his face so fast Sasuke had feared he would just fall over but Naruto had simply continued smiling before excusing himself with notions of training and what not. Sakura and Inari didn’t seem to have noticed, but Kakashi’s black, visible eye had shone in understanding. Though Sasuke realized he hadn’t really understood when the junin went off towards their old impromptu training grounds in search of his wayward student. The Uchiha wasn’t all that surprised when a bemused Kakashi returned with no Naruto and the other began to worry. Tazuna had suggested that they go asking around the village but Sasuke had told them that Naruto wouldn’t be there.
“Eh? Then where do you suggest he would be, Sasuke-kun?” Sakura had been quick to ask, eager to talk to him but Sasuke had ignored her and just got up, shoved his hands in his pockets and taken off in the entirely different direction than either the village or the training grounds in the woods. “Sasuke-kun?!” She had gotten up to follow him but Kakashi had stopped her and before either of them could have said anything, the Uchiha had taken this opportunity to take to the trees and leave.
That is how he has now found himself in the forest path leading to the resting place of two truly powerful shinobi, knowing that the orange clad boy would be there. And, true enough, as soon as he broke through the trees and the last line of bushes, Sasuke could see Naruto sitting in front of the two graves, a fresh white flower on each, his legs drawn up to his chest, arms hugging them and his chin lowered on his knees, those impossibly blue eyes sadly trained on the horizon just past the graves. The mid afternoon light played beautiful tricks in those wild blond locks and Sasuke found himself forcably shaking away any thoughts in regards as to how they would feel if he were to run his fingers through them.
‘What is wrong with me today?’ He thought angrily before marching up to stand right behind the other boy’s back. “Usuratonkachi, what are you doing here? The others are annoyed and worried about you.” Uchihas were never ones to beat around the bush so Sasuke was only holding up his family’s tradition of being mightier-than-thou jackass attitude.
Naruto looked over his shoulder and craned his neck upwards at the familiar voice, still slightly surprised to see the raven haired boy standing there and he frowned in confusion. Why would Sasuke-teme come after him? Why would anyone worry? “Why?”
“Because they couldn’t find you, baka.” Came the immediate response and Naruto scowled.
“Why would they try to find me? It’s not as if I had some deadly disease and need to stay indoors at all times.” The blond won’t admit it but he was touched that the others worried about him so much. It was a new feeling and a completely new experience for him. Up until a month or so ago, only Iruka-sensei and the Hokage-ji-chan had ever cared about him but it had been enough for the lonely boy. He had known that they would look after him and protect him and it had always filled him up with joy to have the knowledge that they will always be there for him in his life. The feeling had only spread after the night he had saved Iruka-sensei and used his signature technique for the first time. He really loved being able to do the shadow clone jutsu since so very few chuunins and even less genins could preform it or hold it as long as he can. It made him feel somewhat special and the jutsu was his favorite because it always shocked anyone who underestimated him. He might be a bit on the dumb side in comparison to Sasuke and Sakura-chan but he was by no means stupid. After all, if he were just an idiot then how had he managed to get away with those numerous pranks over the years? It wasn’t luck alone, damn it! But those same pranks had made the people hate him, or so he had thought.
Sasuke watched as his teammate absentmindedly allowed his right had to drift to his stomach, right over his bellybutton would be and frown. The raven haired boy narrowed his own eyes as he noticed Naruto getting lost in a world of his own and it looked to be a rather dark and unpleasant place. Scowling, the older boy soldiered on, hoping to distract his companion from those dark thoughts. “Well, you did almost drown last night, dobe. Of course they’d be worried. Besides, they had thought you went back to the woods to train so imagine Kakashi-sensei’s surprise when he didn’t find you there. They had worried you would further hurt yourself so he had hurried off after you, only to realize he has no idea where you ran off to. It’s rather irresponsible of you.”
Naruto stared up at him and Sasuke wondered how his neck wasn’t getting a cramp from holding such an uncomfortable position for so long. For his part, Naruto felt no discomfort. Actually, ever since the fight with Haku, he had been feeling better than ever. The thought of his almost friend had Naruto turning back around to stare at the landscape in front of him. “Why would they think I would go to train?”
“Don’t you usually do that if someone else ends up saving you?” The Uchiha asked as he pondered sitting down beside the blond. It could be still wet from the rain last night, and if not, then it must be cold at least. Bit the younger boy seemed so lonely like that that the Uchiha was suddenly willing to dirty his white pants if it made the other perk up a bit. A sullen and serious Naruto was not something one sees often and is rarely a good thing.
Naruto blushed as he remembered what the others had told him happened last night. He didn’t remember how it had happened and probably wouldn’t have thought much of it but the mother of the girl he had risked his life to save had come by Tazuna’s house just to thank him and give him some homemade sweets. Her daughter had blushed and giggled as she gave him a handful of pretty yellow flowers and waved happily from over her mother’s shoulder as they left. He had been bemused beyond belief until Inari had started gushing about how cool his Naruto-nii-chan had been and then the whole story was told to the bewildered blond. The notion of anyone, especially Sasuke, jumping in after him in such weather had left a warm tingly feeling in his chest. Then again, he really shouldn’t be so surprised that it was the older boy who had dove after him. After all, hadn’t Sasuke already nearly killed himself in saving him from Haku’s attack?
“Thank you for that, by the way.” He mumbled and Sasuke finally gave in and sat next to the orange clad boy. “You saved me again. Even though it had put you into danger’s way unnecessarily.”
Sasuke scoffed and brought up his right knee, resting his right arm on it and trying to to wince as it pulled on some of his still healing muscles. Haku and his needles had done quite a number on him, though he will never admit it to anyone. “I thought I already told you: my body moved on its own.”
Naruto hid his smile at the notion that he and Sasuke had become so close that the other didn’t need to think to save him. Then again, he had come to trust and rely on Sasuke just as much and he had been truly devastated when he had thought the boy dead. To see him stand up and give that casual wave had been the greatest thing to happen to him in what had felt like centuries. He really never wanted to see the strong ninja by his side in such a state ever again.
“And speaking of that, are you sure you’re okay?” The raven returned to the topic of the near drowning, doing his best to remain casual as he asked this, a tight feeling in his chest. They were alone and there was potential for full honesty from the other boy. If Naruto really wasn’t as alright as he said he was-
“I’m fine, bastard.” The blond wined at him and Sasuke repressed a chuckle. This Naruto was so different from the Naruto who had fought by his side against both Zabuza and Haku. It was the Naruto who had pranked a junin on their first meeting with their sensei. It was the Naruto who only talked about ramen. It was the Naruto that almost always managed the wrench a smile from him, even though he turned the other way so no one would see. It was a Naruto he felt the need to protect-
“So, how did you find me?”
“What?” Caught off guard, almost black eyes turned to regard his companion in mild confusion as he wondered why he was thinking more and more about the dobe sitting beside him. Maybe it was because of the almost drowning incident? Yes, that had to be it. It was because of that and that made Sasuke sure that it would eventually wear off.
Naruto rolled his bluer than blue eyes at him. “I asked how you found me. How did you know to come here?”
“Oh. Well, you left as soon as the bridge was mentioned. I figured that the fight still affected you so I knew you would come here.”
Naruto bit his lip and nodded at the reasoning. It was true, after all. The fight did bother him. In more ways than one. The first thing that bothered him, that still haunted his dreams was Sakura-chan’s piercing scream of terror they had heard. Then it was seeing Kakashi-sensei’s torso, which had looked as if someone, Zabuza without a doubt, had tried to slice him in half. Then seeing Zabuza, so strong and skilled, falling down like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Haku’s request to kill him still sent shivers down his spine and he didn’t think he’d ever be able to look at another needle the same way, ever again. Or a mirror. He had purposefully been avoiding the damn things since that day. His dreams were often filled with chackra induced fogs or the light glinting off of a long, metal sword.
But the worst was the reoccurring nightmare of Sasuke dying in his arms, telling him that he’s not allowed to die. He always woke up in cold sweat and then spent at least an hour staring at his sleeping friend in a futon across the room they shared with Kakashi-sensei. Just the mention of the bridge brought back the memories, all of them, and he didn’t know which frightened him more.
Then there was that strange new feeling, now always in his gut. It had first appeared when he had been cradling Sasuke against his body ... He didn’t remember much past that point until the moment he had almost punched Haku with a coursing chakra in his fist that would have definitely killed the kind older boy.
“Yeah. I like to come here to think.” He replied solemnly. “They were a lot like me.” Sasuke looked at him from the corner of his eye but didn’t say anything. How could he, when the blond sounded so sad? So resigned, even. So he just waited for the other to continue and he didn’t need to wait long. “Both of them were considered demons by their village. They had no worth nor kind people who would smile for them. Their only worth was in their skills and poor Haku was hunted for that, too.” Sasuke listened, remembering suddenly the slightly hostile atmosphere from the villagers wherever Naruto went. The only true exception seemed to be around Team 7, the Hokage, Iruka-sensei and at Naruto’s favorite ramen stand. But why would anyone dislike Naruto? “They were lucky to at least have each other. I can at least understand their need to protect or avenge each other. To die by each other’s side.”
The black haired boy turned his stunned eyes on him completely and Naruto smiled bitterly. “Iruka-sensei, old man Hokage, Team 7 ... I would give anything to save you, to protect you. Even my life and my dream. That might not sound like much coming from me but ... It’s still the truth.”
They remained silent for a while before Sasuke, whose dark bangs were now hiding his eyes from sight, spoke up. “Until joining Team 7, I never really cared about anything but fulfilling my ambition of killing my brother. After the first few silly missions, I felt myself becoming attached to you idiots, much to my horror.” A snort came from his companion and Sasuke playfully nudged the other boy with his shoulder, earning him one of those beautiful bright smiles that only Uzumaki Naruto could possibly smile. “Now, I’m ready to jump in front of deadly ninja assassins for a fangirl and to face down one of the most talented fighters I have ever met for a complete usuratonkachi.”
“Hey!” Naruto swatted at his shoulder and Sasuke nudged him again, resulting in the two laughing lightly for a minute or two. When they calmed down, Sasuke turned his gaze to the two peaceful graves in front of them as he continued. “The point is, I think, that I know how they must have felt. I have never felt as strong and ready to face anything thrown my way as I had felt when I jumped in to stop Haku from killing you in our last fight.”
“Haku had told me that fighting for someone close to you is what really makes a shinobi strong.” The kyuubi vessel shared and Sasuke turned to show the other his inquiring look. “The day we reached the top of the tree. Right before you came to the clearing, Haku had woken me up. He looked like a girl in a pink kimono. We talked some and he had asked me if I had an important person in my life. Then he told me that the person can only truly be strong if they are fighting to protect their important people.”
“He wasn’t that far off the mark, then.” Naruto snorted at the comment and grined softly at the grave marked by a cross and a scarf.
“Hear that, Haku? You made the great, antisocial Uchiha Sasuke agree with you about the importance of friendship!” Sasuke did his best to hide his blush at the teasing and Naruto, now feeling a lot better, leaned against his - dare he sax it? - friend. He didn’t notice said friend’s surprise and instead closed his eyes and relaxed. “Although this still doesn’t answer my original question of why you saved me. Sure, you said you got attached to us, but we’ve been a team for less than a month before you decided it was perfectly fine to go jumping in front of dangerous shinobi for our sakes. Not that I’m ungrateful or complaining-”
“Shut up, dobe.” Sasuke mumbled and shifted, making Naruto sit up straight and about to snap at him for calling him dobe, only to be left in dumbfounded surprise when Sasuke flicked him gently on the forehead by tapping his two fingers against the very center of it, just a bit higher than his eyes were. He was further stunned when he noticed the gentle smile on the older boy’s face as those dark eyes seemed to be dancing with a hidden meaning, a secret he was not yet ready to share with anyone. It was so surreal that Naruto couldn’t bring himself to believe it even happened until he touched the spot that had been hit and glared at his friend when he felt a short bout of pain from the assaulted area.
“What was that for, teme!?”
Sasuke ignored him and instead got to his feet. He dusted off his clothes and put his hands in his pockets, throwing a superior smirk at the still glaring blond. “Are you really going to sit here all day, usuratonkachi? Because if you do, you’ll never catch up to me. Not that you could to begin with.”
That had the younger boy up on his feet in an instant.