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?


Chapter 3



"How could you who've never even had a family presume to understand what it is that I've lost, huh? How fucking arrogant can you get?"

Naruto stiffened as the voice echoed in his head, the hair on the back of his neck rising to attention at the venomous snarl of its tone. Cautiously, he glanced around his empty bedroom, eyes uneasily peering into the shadows cast by the streetlamp from outside.

"What the hell?" he muttered, now thoroughly creeped out.

There was no answer. Shuffling in his bed, Naruto cast one last wary glance over his shoulder before burying himself in his sheets once more, swiftly convincing himself that he'd just imagined hearing the voice. Within a few minutes, his breathing evened out and his consciousness drifted away.


"Hey, dad," Naruto said between mouthfuls of chocolate chip pancakes, "can I ask you something?"

The Yondaime paused and glanced up from another of his many puzzles, his expression intrigued. "Sure, Naruto. What is it?"

"When's Sasuke supposed to come back?" he asked, reaching for the pitcher of orange juice,

From across the kitchen table, Kushina blinked, then cooed. "Aww, missing your best friend already?"

Naruto scowled in response, his posture becoming slightly more defensive. "You don't have to make it sound like that, mom."

Kushina teeth flashed as she grinned mischievously at her son, mocking challenge all over her face. "What? A mother's allowed to tease her child!"

Naruto rolled his eyes at her antics before turning back to his father. "Well?"

Minato took a moment to take a bite out of his pancakes after dabbing them with syrup before remarking, "Can't tell you. National security, son."

Naruto's face fell. "What?! Come on! The bastard can't be doing anything that important!"

"Language, Naruto," Kushina scolded, before frowning thoughtfully. "Haven't you and Sasuke been arguing lately? I thought you'd like the time spent away from each other."

Naruto shifted in his seat, feeling the uncomfortable weight of both of his parents' calculating gazes. "Well, we might not always get along, and some of the things he says might be completely insane," here he made sure his expression was completely earnest so his parents wouldn't think that he was exaggerating, not that he'd ever have to when concerning Sasuke, "but that doesn't mean that he isn't my best friend. Besides, it's getting kinda boring without him being a total jerk all the time."

Minato chewed for a moment before drowning his mouthful of food with a large gulp of orange juice. "As touching as that is, I still can't tell you anything," he finally said.

Naruto knew his dad had made up his mind when he started up with his crossword puzzles again. "You stink, dad," Naruto groused, sinking a bit in his seat.

Minato merely looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Such a grateful son," he remarked dryly, causing Naruto and Kushina to snicker.

As he ate, Naruto completely missed the way his parents were looking at each other. Eventually, Minato winced and nodded, and Kushina smiled brightly and went back to her pancakes.


"Hey, Sakura-chan!" Naruto greeted with his usual enthusiasm.

"Oh? Hi, Naruto." Naruto wilted a bit when his teammate only glanced up for a moment before focussing again on Kakashi's arm, her hands coated with the healing green chakra of a medic-nin.

Kakashi glanced at his student with a deadpan on his face. "Hello there, Naruto. I suppose I have to be a pretty girl to be greeted by you as well?"

Naruto suddenly dissolved into a coughing fit, his cheeks completely red and his eyes wide with panic. Sakura, who hadn't really been paying attention to their exchange, looked up again and frowned at the repeated hacking. "Those coughs sound pretty nasty. Are you feeling okay, Naruto?"

"He's definitely feeling something," Kakashi snarked, grinning cheekily at Naruto's suddenly much louder coughs.

"What was that?" Sakura asked, briefly glancing in her sensei's direction before shaking her head. "Whatever. Here, sit down, Naruto," Sakura ordered, gesturing to the chair by Kakashi's bedside. "I'll go get you a glass of water."

As a still-coughing Naruto reluctantly sat down, Sakura quickly exited the room. Naruto immediately glared at his sensei. "You're evil, you know that?" he hissed.

Kakashi shrugged indifferently. "That's a subjective term. What you call 'evil' some might call 'funny'." The man finished with a mocking wink that made Naruto twitch against a barely repressed urge for violence.

"Ah, Naruto, I've been meaning to ask you something." They both looked back at Sakura as she walked into the room, a plastic cup full of water in her hand. She made her way over to Naruto and handed him the cup, waiting for him to finish its contents before continuing her inquiry. "Are you doing alright? Yesterday you seemed sort of, I don't know, distracted? Confused?"

Naruto hesitated a bit before a grin that was a bit too cheerful plastered itself on his face. "Yeah, I was fine! I just remembered that my mom needed me to finish grocery shopping, and if I forgot about it she'd cave my face in." He laughed, and his teammates only winced in sympathy, knowing the exaggeration was only slight.

"By the way," Naruto ventured, his expression more than a little sheepish, "sorry about yesterday, Kakashi-sensei."

Sakura and Kakashi blinked and glanced significantly at each other before the girl gasped dramatically. "Kakashi-sensei, did Naruto just apologize for something he did?"

Naruto looked incredulously from his smirking teammate to his sensei, then back again. "Huh?" he said intelligently.

"I'm impressed too, Sakura," Kakashi confided, his single eye full of mirth. "I never thought he'd be able to do it."

"Gee, thanks," Naruto said, his face settling in the deadpan he'd picked up after years of watching his father go through piles and piles of paperwork. "It was really difficult. I had to take courses and everything. You guys should be proud."

Sakura and Kakashi took one look at him and at the expression on his face before they burst out laughing, and after a moment Naruto joined them. His team had a dynamic that just seemed to click, and he wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. With them, Naruto felt like he belonged.

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