"So tell me, how is everyone?" Gaara asked. Everyone was sitting down for lunch. Temari was sitting on Gaara's left side with Kankuro next to her. Neji was on Gaara's right with Naruto next to him. Next to Naruto was Sasuke then Suigetsu. Jugo and Karin were across from them.
"Sakura and Lee are engaged," Naruto began. "They should be getting married sometime next year. Ino is pregnant with Choji's child. I bet it'll be a boy. Kiba and Hinata broke up. I guess Kiba secretly like Shino as well. And when his feelings were put to the test, it turned out that he was in love with Shino, and he loved Hinata as a sister. So, he and Shino to got together. Hinata hocked up with Sai. I feel bad for her since he is such a stupid pervert. He still has to read about emotions to know what to do when Hinata gets mad or when Sakura's fist somehow hits him in the face. He finally left me alone though. Tenten is a widow. Her husband died a few months ago while on a mission. So, yeah, out of everyone besides Tenten, I'm the only one still single."
"And my future brother-in-law?" Kankuro asked.
"If you mean Shikamaru, well he's on a mission," Naruto said. "He's still very lazy."
"Just the way my sister likes them," Kankuro chuckled. Temari smacked him across his head. "Ow! That hurt! I was just telling the truth!"
"You guys are always fun to watch," Naruto said. "It remind me the time I came here to train with you guys."
"Ah! The time I helped teach you Wind Jutsu," Temari said. "That was fun."
"Naruto? What are you doing here?" Temari asked. "Are you here to see Gaara?"
"No, I'm here to see you," Naruto said.
"You do know that Shikamaru and I..." Temari blushed.
"Ah! No!" Naruto raised his voice. "That's disgusting! You're like an older sister to me!"
"That actually makes me happy," Temari said. "I don't mind having a third brother." Naruto smiled. "So, what do you need me for?"
"I'd like to ask you to teach me some Wind Jutsu," Naruto said. "I can only use one jutsu and I'd like to learn more."
"I can help you," Temari said. "But so can my sensei. Baki knows a good jutsu. I'd bet you'd like it."
"Really? Can we start training now?" Naruto's eyes lit up.
Temari chuckled. "Of course. I'm always up for this kind of stuff. Just let me get Baki." She jumped and swung out her fan. Naruto watched in awe as Temari flew around on her fan. She then left to get Baki. She returned on foot, dragging a confused Baki behind her. "This is Naruto. He's the one who saved Gaara."
"I remember him," Baki muttered. "What do you want boy?"
"I'd like you to teach me some Wind Jutsu," Naruto said.
"And why should I?" Baki asked.
"I want to be able to protect the ones I care about," Naruto said. "Including my big sister." Temari smiled.
"Alright," Baki said. "I'll teach you the Kaze no Yaiba (Blade of Wind)."
"Ok," Naruto said. He stood back. "Taju Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" A few hundred clones appear. "Show us." And so Baki began to teach Naruto how to use Kaze no Yaiba (Blade of Wind). It took Naruto only a day to learn it. "This jutsu, it was the one that killed Hiyate wasn't it?"
"Yes," Baki said. "I'm the one that killed him."
"I see," Naruto said. "Well, thank you Baki-sensei!" He grinned then walked away. He wanted to sleep.
"Why isn't he mad?" Baki said out loud.
"He knows you did it for Suna," Temari said. "At the time, you killed Hiyate to protect us. Naruto knows this and has no hatred for you."
"He is a great ninja," Baki said. "I heard that he wants to become Hokage. He'll make a great one."
"Probably the best one yet," Temari said and Baki nodded. Then then headed home.
"Baki was a great help!" Naruto said. "I can use Daitoppa and Renkudan now."
Gaara looked at Naruto in shock. "You can use Renkudan? That's Shukaku's jutsu."
"I know," Naruto said. "Mine are not as big as his. It is similar to Sasuke's Fire Ball Jutsu."
"Naruto," Gaara said. "I want to fight you."
"Ok!" Naruto said. "Just make sure to use a barrier."
"Then let's go," Gaara said. Everyone stood up and followed Gaara to the training fields. Naruto quickly set up a barrier.
"So, what are the rules?" Naruto asked already knowing the answer.
"Don't die," Gaara said. They took their fighting stance.
"Don't die?" Suigetsu asked. "It that really the rule?"
"Yes," Temari said. "They are two very strong shinobi. It would be unfair if either held back. Though, Naruto tends to do so anyway. All they want to do is fight to the best of their abilities. And so, they have to set up a rule to not die. If the rule was to not kill each other, that fight would end too quickly."
Everyone watched as Naruto and Gaara fought. Gaara used Ryusa Bakuryu (Quicksand in the Style of a Waterfall), but Naruto used Suiton: Suijinheki (Water Release: Water Encampment Wall). Suigetsu watched in awe as Naruto used the same jutsu that Kisame knew. Karin did not seem to care and Jugo was watching the birds. Sasuke however was furious. He could not understand how Naruto had gotten so strong. He wanted to grab Naruto and ask him to explain why the Akatsuki is still there if Naruto is this strong. He watched as Gaara attacked with Sand Shurikan. Naruto began to make his Rasengan. But suddenly the Rasengan changed. Instead of an orb it took on a snake-like shape. But Sasuke could see that the chakra was spinning in different directions even in that shape. And then it changed again as Water was added to it. Naruto yelled Rasenwhip and began to fling the Water Jutsu around. It snapped at the Sand Shurikan like a whip.
"That's new," Gaara said.
"Yeah, I made this one up about a month ago," Naruto said. "I saw a ninja using fire like this so I thought if it can be done with fire, why not with water? Plus, using it as a Rasengan strengthens the attack. It is one of those rare Water Jutsus that you can use without having a large body of water nearby."
"If such a source of water was nearby," Gaara said. "You would have won already."
"True, but that wouldn't be any fun," Naruto grinned. Their fight continued as Gaara used Sabaku Kyu (The Coffin of Crushing Sand). He was about to use Sabaku Sousou when there was a blast of heat from within the Sand Coffin. The sand suddenly turned into glass.
"Using the flames of the Kyuubi to turn my sand into glass," Gaara said. "Looks like we are done. I have no jutsu stong enough to beat you now."
"Guess I should have used less chakra in my attacks," Naruto said. "I hate ending our battles early."
Sasuke could not take it anymore. He rushed at Naruto. Naruto gasped as Sasuke grabbed Naruto's shirt and slammed him to the ground. "Why? If you are this strong, why are the Akatsuki still alive?"
"Let go," Naruto said. He was trying to get Sasuke off.
"Tell my why!" Sasuke slammed Naruto's head against the ground. No one moved since they didn't know what to do. Gaara was about to use his sand to grab Sasuke's leg and pull him off of Naruto when suddenly, Naruto managed to throw Sasuke off of himself. Sasuke landed on his feet only five feet away from Naruto.
"Is that all you care about?" Naruto asked.
"What?" Sasuke was taken back by Naruto asking a question.
"I said is killing Itachi all you care about?" Naruto asked. "You don't even have to answer that. I know it is. You don't care about anyone but yourself."
"That's..." Sasuke was interrupted by Naruto punching him in the face.
"I can't believe that I thought for even a second that you had changed," Naruto was now yelling. "The moment I heard of Orochimaru's death I was happy. But you didn't come back to Konoha. Instead you spent three months forming a team. Then you suddenly decide that I have some use to you as a pawn. I will not be used by you!"
Naruto followed Sakura into Tsunade's office. He saw Kakashi, Sai, and Yamato standing in a corner of the room. Tsunade was standing behind her desk. Naruto then saw Jiriya sitting on one of his toads. "What is going on?" Naruto could tell that the news he was about to hear was really important.
"Orochimaru had to perform his body-switching jutsu," Jiriya said.
"No!" Naruto cried.
"Sasuke however, was on a mission at the time," Jiriya continued. "Orochimaru had to use the body of someone else. Sasuke is now safe for three more years."
"Really?" Naruto looked up with tears in his eyes.
"Yes," Jiriya said.
Sakura then hugged Naruto tightly. "He's safe! He'll come home soon!"
"Naruto," Jiriya said. "I'm going to turn you into a toad sage."
"Toad sage?" Naruto asked. Sakura loosened her grip.
"Yes," Jiriya said. "It may take some time, but you will become a lot stronger. We will leave today. I'd bring your own food if I was you. But nothing too big."
"Alright," Naruto said. Sakura let him go. He turned to run back and pack but stopped at the door. "He will be ok right?"
"Sasuke is strong, Naruto," Kakashi said. "There is no way that Orochimaru will get to him before these three more years are up." Naruto nodded then walked out of the room.
Again Naruto was in Tsunade's office with Sakura, Kakashi, Sai, and Yamato. A toad appeared soon after Naruto stepped into the room. Naruto was already an Anbu Captain and the 'incident' had already happened. Naruto showed no expression and his former self seemed to have completely faded away.
The toad looked at Naruto and Sakura then spoke. "Orochimaru is dead. Sasuke killed him."
Sakura jumped on Naruto and hugged him. "He's done it! Sasuke is free of that snake!" Naruto remained still and did not hug Sakura back.
"So?" Naruto asked. Silence filled the air.
"Na-naruto," Sakura stuttered. "Sa-sasuke-kun is coming home."
"Is he?" Naruto asked. Then the toad's and Sakura's words hit him. "Sasuke." He grinned. Everyone in the room were happy to see Naruto smile again. It had been a long time. "This calls for a celebration! Let's go get Ramen!" Naruto fisted the air and tugged Sakura towards the door. "Come on guys!" Sai smiled a true smile then followed after Naruto and Sakura.
"I'm glad to see him smiling," Kakashi said. "I was afraid he didn't care anymore."
"I just hope that brat actually come back," Tsunade said. "It would change Naruto back."
"So do I," Kakashi said. "So do I."
"But you didn't care enough to come back," Naruto continued. The barrier he created long gone. "All you care about is yourself. Stupid Uchiha and their stupid pride! Itachi did one good thing. He got rid of a whole clan that had too much pride!"
Sasuke punched Naruto in the stomach. "Take that back!"
"No!" Naruto stood his ground.
"Take it back!" Sasuke threw another punch. But Naruto caught it.
"Give up already!" Naruto said. This time he slammed Sasuke into the ground. "Itachi is stronger than you! You Sasuke Uchiha are weak!" Sasuke stopped moving. "You are weak and it is not because you lack hatred. It is because you put your pride before everything. It is because the only thing that matters to you is your brother's death." Naruto stood up. Tears began to fall from his crystal blue eyes. This shocked everyone. "You stupid Uchiha!" Naruto then ran to his room. He slammed the door shut and removed his clothes. He jumped into the shower.
"Kit! Let me out!"
Naruto formed the familiar signs and a fox appeared. It quickly took on Kurama's human form. He hugged Naruto. "Kit, let it out." Naruto cried harder.
"I... I love him," Naruto managed to say.
"I know Kit," Kurama said.
"I want to forget him," Naruto said. "But he won't go away."
"Let me help you," Kurama said. He pushed Naruto against the shower wall and kissed him. Water dripped off of their bodies. Kurama began to touch Naruto. He was hoping his love for Naruto would calm him down.
It was Suigetsu that decided to follow Naruto. He had grown to like him He heard the exchange between Naruto and Kurama. He smirked when he heard that Naruto was in love with Sasuke. But as soon as he heard the kissing sounds he ran out to get Sasuke. "Sasuke! It's Naruto! You have to stop him!" Sasuke did not waste a second and ran towards Naruto. Suigetsu stopped the others from following. "Only Sasuke can handle this."
Sasuke slammed the door to the bathroom open. Then he saw Naruto breathing heavily in the shower with Kurama holding him. He saw that Naruto was naked and that Kurama was holding his... Sasuke punched Kurama.
"Sasuke!" Naruto grabbed Kurama. "Why did you do that?"
"You let him touch you!" Sasuke yelled.
"So what?" Naruto asked.
"You let him touch you! Sasuke repeated. "Why? Why do you let him touch you like that and not me?"
"Because he makes the pain go away!" Naruto yelled." And you only cause it!"
"Kit," Kurama began.
"Be quiet!" Naruto barked. "You know what Uchiha? I'm sick of you and your complaints! 'Oh poor me! My brother killed my parents.' So what? At least you got to know your parents! You got to be with them for seven years! I got to see my mom for five minutes! You got to grow up as a loved Uchiha instead of being hated for the fact that you were forcefully made into a vessel for a demon! Not that you could ever understand!"
"I... Naruto, I do," Sasuke began.
"No you don't!" Naruto yelled. "You will never understand!"
"I do understand!" Sasuke yelled back.
"There you go again! Uchihas always gotta be right and think they know everything! Well, they're not and they don't! Look at Itachi! Then again, he was smart enough to put his pride aside. That just makes him far better than you!"
"Itach is nothing but a murderer!"
"And your better? For God's sake! Throw away your stupid pride! Why can't you just move on?"
"No, never mind! Just go and get yourself killed if you want to! I don't care anymore! Just leave me alone!" Naruto grabbed his towel then ran from the room. He ran past Neji. Kurama ran after him. Sasuke and Neji stood watching Naruto and Kurama run from the room.
"Why?" Sasuke punched the wall. "What made Naruto change so much?"
"Only Naruto, Kurama, and Sakura know what happened that day," Neji said.
"That day?" Sasuke asked. "Wait! Didn't any of them tell you what happened?"
"Yes, but he didn't tell us everything," Gaara said appearing next to Neji. "What truly happened that day is something that Naruto seems to want to keep a secret. If it benefited Naruto, Sakura would probably tell you what happened."
"What is the fastest way to get her here?" Sasuke asked.
"We can send her a message," Gaara said. "It would say something about needing another medical ninja."
"If that will get her here, then do it," Sasuke said.
"Throw in something about Naruto," Neji said. "She'd drop everything if her little brother needed her."
"I know," Gaara said. He left Neji and Sasuke alone.
"I know how you feel," Neji said. "We all feel that way. Naruto is a light to Konoha and to Suna. He is needed for both to thrive."
"I love him," Sasuke admitted. "He's the one I care about. But I..."
"You can't show it because you are afraid that Itachi will use Naruto against you," Neji concluded.
"Yes," Sasuke said.
"Naruto's stronger than that," Neji said. "You should trust him more."
"You've changed," Sasuke said.
"Naruto changed me," Neji said. "He changed a lot of people. But he needs someone to help change him." He looked at Sasuke. "You are the only one who can do that."
"I don't think I can," Sasuke said.
"You can," Neji said. "And you will." The two of them joined the others in Gaara's living room.