Gilded

Matatabi

Summary: With loving parents and plenty of friends, unease is the last thing that Naruto should be feeling. But it lingers in the back of his mind, clouding his sight with suspicion and paranoia. Why do his dreams feel so real? Why does he remember things that never were?

Gilded

Chapter 2

Matatabi


~o0O0o~


Naruto didn't always like hospitals. He hated the way people were always coughing and how they needed needles and tubes pumping them full of who knows what just to wake up every day. He hated the constant smell of bleach, and the god-awful sludge the hospital had the nerve to call food.

And what kind of horrible place wouldn't let their patients eat takeout ramen?

But then against every survival instinct he had, Naruto found himself going back every day, all to see a girl with pink hair and bright green eyes.


~o0O0o~

When Naruto walked in, he was greeted with the sight of Kakashi sitting on a bed, wincing as Sakura gingerly examined a bruised and probably broken arm. She set it down with a sigh, closing her eyes in exasperation. "Sensei, why aren't you more careful? One of these days you're going to seriously injure yourself."

Kakashi rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment with his other hand, ruffling his rebellious silver hair while offering a weak chuckle. "Well, I guess this is just how the mission turned out." He looked up, finally noticing Naruto step into the room. "Ah, Naruto!" he said, eye curving up in a smile, "I was wondering when you'd come to visit."

Naruto grinned as he moved to take his place next to Sakura by Kakashi's bedside. "Sorry, sensei. Mom wanted me to go grocery shopping for her. She says she'll send some cooking over for you as soon as she's done."

Kakashi's eye-smile brightened with glee. "Oh? Kushina-nee's cooking? I should get injured more often!"

Naruto snorted in amusement, but Sakura just palmed her face with a groan. "Don't joke like that, sensei. You're getting injured too often as it is."

Kakashi's expression shifted to a slightly more sheepish one before he raised his hands up in surrender. "Alright, alright, you win. I'll be more careful." Then he lowered his arms and both his tone and expression became more serious. "Have either of you two seen Sasuke? I haven't heard from him for weeks now."

Sakura pursed her lips, looking more worried than Naruto was used to seeing. "So far I haven't heard anything. Mikoto-sama says that Sasuke-kun and Itachi-san are on an extended mission together, but she won't say anything further."

As one, Sakura and Kakashi both turned to Naruto.

Naruto blinked owlishly. "What?"

Sakura scowled. "What do you mean, 'what'? You're the Hokage's son! There's no way you haven't heard anything!"

"So?!" Naruto whined. "Kakashi-sensei's dad's disciple and he hasn't heard anything, either!"

Sakura glanced at her sensei who merely shrugged. "He's got a point, you know. If Minato-sensei needs to keep a secret, even Kushina-nee can't make him give it up."

The girl sighed, her head and shoulders drooping. "So basically, Sasuke-kun's been gone for two weeks with Itachi, Naruto's dad isn't talking, Sasuke-kun's parents aren't talking, and we have no other leads?"

Kakashi thought about that for a moment before nodding. "Sounds about right."

Naruto gestured dismissively, "Eh, the bastard'll be fine. He's like a cockroach—too damn stubborn to die."

Sakura's lips quirked up in a small smile. "You're mean, Naruto," she said, her face relaxing and her voice bubbling with laughter.

Naruto didn't say anything else: he just watched with fondness in his eyes. He would do anything, say anything, just to see her smile and hear her laugh.

He was distracted by a sudden motion in the corner of his vision. When he looked over, he noticed his sensei thumbing through a book with what seemed to be quite a bit of interest. Naruto smirked a bit. "Enjoying your porn, sensei?" he asked.

Sakura gaped and turned red while Kakashi just blinked in confusion. "Wha—Kakashi-sensei!"

Kakashi simply sighed before presenting his reading material for inspection. "Relax, Sakura, I'm not reading porn. This is the third book in a fantasy series that I started a few weeks ago." After she'd grabbed the novel and read the summary as well as randomly skimmed through it and determined that no, Kakashi-sensei was not reading porn, Sakura had the grace to look contrite, but Naruto was simply dumbfounded. "Although I don't know why Naruto would think that I'd be reading porn."

Naruto was suddenly put in the awkward situation of someone who'd made a false accusation. "Bu-But—you always read porn!"

Kakashi sighed, recognizing Uzumaki stubbornness for what it was. "Naruto, it's one thing to accuse me of something like that as a small joke. It's another to continue to insist that it's true."

Naruto was about to say something in his defense (like when and why did Kakashi-sensei abandon his Icha Icha) but was cut short by Sakura's stern glare. "Naruto, you can't just go around accusing people of things like that! You could seriously damage their good reputations!"

Naruto had almost forgotten, but being scolded by Sakura-chan, being scolded for real, it kinda made his chest ache a bit. He abruptly swayed and nearly fell over, barely saving himself by grabbing onto the railing of Kakashi's bed and hauling himself back upright.

Kakashi and Sakura looked over with identical expressions of worry. "Are you okay, Naruto?" Kakashi asked.

Naruto tried to dismiss their concerns with a flimsy grin. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just fell asleep for a second there."

Sakura frowned, obviously not buying the excuse, and reached out to touch his forehead. Naruto went unnaturally still at the contact, but Sakura didn't seem to notice as she hummed for a moment before withdrawing her hand. "Well, there's no fever. Have you been sleeping enough?" Saying so, she leaned in close to his face, using her fingers to keep his eyes wide open as she examined them.

Naruto was quick to slip away from his teammate's intrusive grasp. "Sure I have! Honest, Sakura-chan!"

"Are you sure, Naruto? We're already in the hospital, so it's just a matter of finding another room to do some proper tests, and—"

Naruto stood so suddenly that Sakura actually flinched away from him. "Sorry, guys, I just remembered that mom wanted me to go get groceries for tonight's dinner. I'll see you later!"

"Naruto, wait! You—" Before Sakura could even finish her sentence, her teammate had vanished through the door.


~o0O0o~

Naruto wandered through the market with a frown. It was a stupid thing to be mad about. It really was. Who in their right mind would be upset that their sensei wasn't a porn addict? It was weird! But he was still beset by the feeling, the instinct, that something wasn't quite right.

He stopped in front of a seafood vendor just long enough to purchase a tube of fishcake for ramen before moving on to the other stands.

Like, it wasn't as if he wasn't happy—there was no reason for him not to be—but still. He couldn't really explain his uneasiness all that well.

Naruto looked up as an old granny smiled at him and told him that she'd be more than willing to give the Hokage's son a discount on her vegetables. He smiled and thanked her before buying a few radishes, a cabbage, and half a dozen sweet potatoes.

Groceries purchased, Naruto was left with nothing but his thoughts as he made his way home. About halfway there, he stopped, sighed, and hung his head with shame. He was probably just being silly and immature about this whole thing. He'd have to apologize to Kakashi-sensei the next time he saw him.


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