I do not in any way own Naruto or any of the original characters.
"Naruto don't!" Sakura screamed as she ran towards him. Both we badly injured but knew they needed to win against the man with the orange mask. Sakura screamed for Naruto again but her voice was cut out as the fox's chakra began to fill his body. He was going to end this for the last time, no matter what it took. He bent down getting ready to take off as he watched the enemy with his red fox eyes. Naruto launched himself at the man as they began clashing and doing whatever they needed to come out alive. Naruto and the man hit each other forcing them to fly back in opposite directions. The man was slammed into the ground hard, was slowly getting back to his feet while Naruto was slamed, and pushed through several trees. Sakura looked on not knowing what to do, this was the first time he had lost control in the two years they had been going on missions alone. She glanced to see the man on the ground before running to Naruto who had just gotten to his feet. She knew she had to stop him before he hurt himself, but the question was how. As he wobbled to the side almost losing his balance, she ran over to him and grabbed hold. She winced as the pure evil chakra burned her hands but she wouldn't let go and risk losing her best friend.
"You think you trying to hold him will stop him? He's nothing but a beast! A killing machine!" the man screamed at her as he made it to his hands and knees.
"Shut up! You don't know anything about him!" Sakura screamed at him before turning her pale green eyes back to the enraged Naruto. "Naruto snap out of it! You're not a beast or a killing machine, you're the best ninja in the world. You are the hero to countless people and that number just keeps growing." He snarled at her looking at her with hate and disgust. "Naruto, don't you dare snarl at me! I know you can hear me! Now knock it off and kick his ass with me!" She yelled at him as she let go and took a step back waiting for the next move.
"You don't know who he really is. You've only seen what society wants to see, this is the real Naruto"
"Stop it! Naruto I know you can hear me. I know this isn't the real you, you would never act like a killing machine." Naruto's red eyes moved between the two before the color in his eyes began to flicker. He fell to his knees breathing hard as Sakura moved to help him up.
"I'm glad you're back. Now let's finish this." The two smirked as they looked at the man coming towards them.
"Yeah. Let's go."
"Oh. You two look ready to go. Well sorry to disappoint you, but I've wasted enough time. I'll see you again soon." The man said and suddenly he was gone leaving them to look around confused. Suddenly Sakura fell to the ground as Naruto turned to reach for her he fell into darkness beside her.
Naruto shot straight up breathing heavily before he looked around. The moon and stars were out allowing him to see around him as his blue eyes scanned the woods until they fell upon Sakura still unconscious beside him. He slowly reached out and smiled as he brushed the stray pink hair from her face. He shook her shoulder making her pale green eyes slowly open.
"Naruto." She breathed as she sat straight up. "What happened?"
"I don't know, but he's gone. Looks like we better start our long walk home. Can you stand?" He asked as he got to his feet wobbly.
"Yeah, I think." She said as she stood up almost losing her balance before Naruto caught her letting her get her balance under control. "I'm alright. Let's get back to the village and tell the Hokage what we know." they both started out slowly making their way through the forest and open land back to their village.
"So you only have rumors to report?" Tsunade asked from behind her desk in the Hokage tower. Naruto and Sakura both stood in front of her knowing that the mission that took two months to complete was a complete and total waist. "Alright you two, take the next two weeks to relax and catch up on what you missed while you were gone."
"Thank you shishyou." Sakura said as she bowed slightly.
"Yeah, thanks granny." Naruto said before he was elbowed in the side leaving him confused. "What?" Sakura rolled her eyes as she grabbed the back of his orange and black jacket he had come to wear every day and drug him from the office. Tsunade chuckled to herself as she watched the two young ninja leave.
"So we have the next two weeks off, what do you plan to do?" Sakura asked once back out in the streets.
"I don't know. Don't have much to do here."
"You're telling me that you can't think of one thing to do in the village?"
"No. I can think of plenty of things to do, just none that will be entertaining for long." He said with a bright smile before looking down at her. "Well there is one thing that would keep me entertained for longer." She looked at him and rolled her eyes before a small smile broke out on her lips.
"I told you a million times since we were kids, Naruto. No." He looked at her sadly trying to beg as hard as he could.
"Aw, come on Sakura-chan. You said you would if I paid. And I've got plenty to pay this time." Sakura giggled softly as she listened to him whine.
"Alright alright I'll go, but you really have to pay this time." She smiled as she walked past him when he stopped dead in his tracks surprised she agreed, until she called to him over her shoulder. "And it's not a date." He ran to catch up as they walked into the ramen bar and ordered when they took their seats.
"Why ain't it a date?"
"Because a date is a fancy dinner and stuff, having lunch at the ramen bar is not a date."
"Then why don't I take you to that new restaurant they built?" He offered with a small smile making her smirk when she looked at him. "Come on. You know you want to."
"I have wanted to try that place." She thought aloud as the food was placed in front of them.
"Please Sakura-chan. It's all on me." He gave a bright smile trying to get her to agree. She looked hard at him and he was afraid she was going to say no once again but was left speechless for a few minutes when he heard her voice.
"Alright Naruto, I'll go with you." Her smile grew bigger and soon she was laughing as Naruto cheered and almost inhaled his ramen. "So I'll see you at six?" She asked softly once they were done.
"Yeah, sure." Sakura smiled as she left his side and headed in the direction of her house leaving Naruto smiling bright as he started towards his house.
"Sakura!" She heard as she started walking down the last street before her house. She stopped and turned to find Ino running up to her. "You're finally back. You missed so much while you were on that last mission. How's Naruto any way. I heard you both were beat up pretty bad when you got back."
"Yeah, we were healed up before we gave our report to shishyou. Naruto's perfectly fine, still hyper and annoying as ever." She said with a bright smile knowing that if she told Ino that she was going out with Naruto to the new restaurant she would blow it up and tell everyone in the village.
"Well you both missed a lot. Kurenai's little girl, Akane seems to take after Asuma-sensei. She got into Kurenai's kunai and threw one almost hitting another little girl. Three years old and she's already getting into things. Oh and Kakashi's getting married. He's been putting it off, waiting for you two to get back."
"Really? Kakashi-sensei's getting married?" Sakura asked shocked. "To who?"
"Anko. Can you believe it? I mean the two of them together is somewhat scary. But you should probably talk to him and find out when they'll be having the wedding. Oh. Shikamaru and Temari are finally going out and so are Tenten and Neji. It was just a matter of time for them." She laughed making Sakura laugh along with her. "Why don't we hang out tonight? We can get all the girls together for the night."
"I would but I already have plans. Bye." She said quickly and left trying to avoid Ino's next question but she was caught the second she felt a hand gab her arm.
"What plans? You just got back."
"I'm going out."
"With who?" Ino asked inquisitively.
"Don't worry about it."
"Come on forehead. Tell me. It had to be someone you ran into today because you've been gone for two months. Is it that new guy that's helping out in the Hokage tower, or how about that cute guy at the hospital? Or-"
"Ino pig, it's none of your business. But no it's none of the guys you're thinking of." Sakura said as she tried to pull her arm out of Ino's grasp.
"Tell me! Come on, you have to tell me." She began begging.
"No. I'll stop by and talk to you later. I have to get home and start getting ready." She smirked as Ino looked defeated and let her go. "I'll tell you all the details tomorrow." Ino seemed to cheer up as she gave a small nod and watched Sakura continue on her way home.
"Hey Naruto!" Naruto heard causing him to turn around looking for who called him. "Hey. You're back." Kiba said as he stopped in front of him with Akamaru by his side.
"Yeah, just got back this morning. How's things been?"
"Not bad. The fifth's had most of us out on missions and busy for the past month. Heard Neji and Tenten are together and Shikamaru was drug into a relationship with Temari. Man, even your sensei's getting married."
"Kakashi-sensei? Who's he getting married to?"
"That woman from the second test for the Chunin exams, I think her name's Anko or something like that. I'm sure Ino's already found her way to Sakura to give the gossip."
"Yeah, probably talkin' away."
"Hey, since your back why don't we get the rookie eight together tonight?"
"Nah, I got plans. How bout we start telling everyone to gather at my place tomorrow?"
"Sure but… what plans? You just got back?" Kiba asked making Naruto chuckle and rub the back of his head. He wasn't quite sure what to say, he wondered if Sakura wanted people to know they were going out tonight or if she wanted to keep it quiet. He thought for a moment and figured that she would want it to be quiet for now.
"Just some things I gotta do tonight. It's been two months since I've been home so my house is probably a mess and I wanted to work on a few things and all."
"Well I better get going; my mom's makin' me pick up the food for the dogs. I'll start spreading the word about tomorrow. See ya." Kiba said as he and Akamaru started back off leaving Naruto to think about how much he must have missed in the two months he wasn't in the village before he started towards his house once again to get ready for his 'date' with Sakura.
Naruto slowly walked up to the front door of Sakura's house. He had taken almost every second he had to get ready and make sure he was perfect. Stopping a few steps from the door he took a deep breath straightened his black suit jacket before continuing to the door and knocking. The door swung open quickly to reveal a woman in her 40's with blond hair and blue eyes. She looked stunned as her eyes fell onto Naruto dressed up.
"Can I help you?" She asked making Naruto slightly more nervous about picking Sakura and taking her out.
"I'm here to get Sakura."
"To get Sakura?" She asked with a slightly annoyed tone. "I'm Sorry but Sakura can't go out tonight." She gave a fake smile as she started to close the door. Naruto turned realizing that he was still the container of the nine tails.
"Mother!" He heard just before the door latched making him turn confused when the door opened back up to revile Sakura and a short red fancy dress. "I am going out. Don't wait up; I don't know when I'll be home." Her mother looked shocked as Sakura gave a small smile to Naruto before continuing. "Naruto's taking me out tonight, and I have no idea what he has planned for the two of us. Bye!" She smiled as she shut the door behind her and turned to the shocked Naruto. "What?"
"Your mom." He said making her giggle softly at the confused look on his face.
"Don't worry about her. She doesn't like when I go out anywhere. She's always been like that since my dad died… or at least that's what my relatives say. I never saw her with my dad. He died a few months after I was born. The fox killed a lot of people." She said softly as Naruto tried to think of what he could say or do to make her feel better.
"Well at least now I can make him help the village instead of him just running around killing people." He smirked. "Come on. Don't worry 'bout your mom and how she is. I'm used to it, remember?" He gave a small chuckle trying to cheer her up but his last comment only made her feel worse.
"I'm sorry. No one should ever be treated or feel the way you did."
"Come on; let's not think about it for now. I figured we would go to that place you wanted." With his words, she gave a small smile as they walked towards the new restaurant not far from her house.
"So did you hear what's been happening while we were gone?"
"Kiba was telling me about some of it. Kakashi-sensei doesn't seem like the type to settle down. Then about Neji and Tenten, never saw that coming." He laughed
"Oh come on. You never saw the way those two acted around each other? They totally liked each other for years." Sakura smiled thinking of all of their friends and all the things that had changed so much since they were kids. Back when they decided to focus on finding Sasuke instead of living as normal teen agers. After ten minutes, the two made it to the restaurant and they were seated.
"Do you think we missed out on half our lives by ignoring our teens and focusing on finding Sasuke and working as Ninja?" Sakura asked, as she sat across from him thinking about how she felt left out among the girls.
"What do you mean?" He asked her completely confused at what she was getting at.
"Well, it's like we completely missed being young. All of our friends are finding people and are dating while we're running around fighting and working on finding someone. To tell you the truth I kind of feel left out around the girls now… they all have boyfriends and I was too busy to even think about being interested in finding a guy."
"I guess. I made a promise to bring him back and since I'm one of the only one able to protect the village and with everything that's happened… I guess there really wasn't much time to worry about that stuff. From what we've seen though, things should start to slow down and we'll have more time to be here."
"I sure hope so." She sighed as the waiter came to deliver their food.
"I'm sure granny will figure something out. We are the most useful and powerful, with all of the rumors she may want us to stay home while the others go out." He chuckled as he started digging in. Sakura smiled as she also began eating.
After two hours, the two emerged from the restaurant talking about the old days when they used to be in the academy. They slowly walked down the nearly empty streets towards the river that they, unknowingly, followed to their old training ground.
"Looks like they've added a few more names to the stone." Naruto said upset that more names had been added to the K. I. A. memorial stone. Sakura put her hand on his shoulder understanding how he felt. The two knew they were the strongest in the village, they were the protectors, and yet more names had to be added to the death list.
"We'll stop them and make sure nothing rises up again." Sakura said as Naruto turned to look down at her with his blue eyes. "Besides they can't run from the two of us forever." She gave him a small smile, trying to cheer him up. She watched as a small smile started to curve the edges of his mouth up.
"Yeah, you got that right." He said with laughter in his voice making Sakura's smile grow as she took his hand and began pulling him behind her towards the old training grounds that several ninja had fixed the ground they had torn up years ago when they retook the bell test. Naruto followed confused as to what to do with Sakura holding his hand.
"It's been forever since I've been back here. I never knew they fixed the damage."
"Yeah they were working on that right after Pein. Figured that with everything going on we were gonna need every training field and spot we could get. That's what Granny said anyway."
"You know she's going to teach you a lesson for calling her that some day." Sakura warned but only saw Naruto's signature grin making her roll her eyes and start walking away. She was stunned when she felt a large hand slip into hers; slowly she looked to her side and found a smiling Naruto.
Unknown to both, three figures sat in the bushes far enough to still be able to see and not get caught by the two very talented ninja. A woman sat with her black hair pulled back into a neat bun dressed in all black from her boots, pants and long sleeved shirt to a small hood lying on her back, her face lay covered behind a mask with thick diagonal black lines and tiny slits to see from. She looked to her side where a man with his head covered by the black hood, dressed the same fashion as the woman, the only difference was the mask. His had black flames rising from the bottom the points of the flames ending just above the slits for the eyes. The two watched as the two ninja they were warned to stay away from walked away looking completely harmless. Not far from them, sat Ino in a tree watching the two interact with each other.
"I knew it. She really does like him." She whispered to herself as two of her friends walked off and she turned to go home so that they could have their privacy now that she found out what she wanted.
Naruto and Sakura were almost to her front door once again when Naruto stopped confusing Sakura. He took a moment to think of what to tell her but before any words came out he heard her soft sweet voice
"It's okay. Don't worry about her, come on." She smiled up as they reached the door. "You want to come in for a bit?"
"Nah. I better get heading home. Gotta start restocking my scrolls." He said and watched her face fall ever so slightly. He quickly leaned in and kissed her on the lips before pulling back and saw the pink tint slide up her face, he knew he looked exactly the same way. "I'll see ya later." He said hurriedly, turning to leave only to be pulled back to have her lips pressed against his. Slowly they relaxed and gave into the kiss forgetting about the world around them and only focusing on each other, until the door swung open violently making both jump back as they heard someone yell.
"Sakura Haruno! Get in this house this instant!" Her mother screamed making Sakura flinch and Naruto take a step backwards. "I don't know what you're pulling but you leave my daughter alone. I will not have demon children running about my home. You hear me?" Her voice escalated to the point of screaming in Naruto's face.
"Mom! Stop it!" Sakura yelled to her mother but it wasn't enough to stop her. She continued lecturing Naruto and yelling at him until Sakura was finally able to get in front of her mother and separate them. "Mom! Stop it! Naruto didn't do anything, and you know that!"
"Get in the house young lady, get away from that demon! It's his fault your father is dead!" Sakura flinched at the name and the thought that her mother was blaming Naruto for the death of her father who had died fighting the nine-tailed fox.
"Naruto is not the demon fox! It's not his fault that that thing is inside him, but he is the reason that we are all safe. It weren't for him we would all be dead! Leave him alone!" Sakura screamed back at her mother who paused for a moment surprised that her daughter dare yell at her. She grabbed hold of her daughter's arm and pulled her towards the house as she sneered at Naruto and called to him.
"You will leave her alone and never come here if you know what's good for you." suddenly she felt Sakura stop dead. She tugged slightly but Sakura didn't budge. "Get in the house now!" Sakura looked at the ground in front of her for a moment before looking at her mother with her pale green eyes showing her furry.
"Sakura-chan." She heard Naruto call softly to her. "Go ahead inside. I'm gonna head home anyway." He gave a sad chuckle before turning and walking back towards his own house while the sounds of Sakura and her mother arguing died behind him. He moved faster and faster across the rooftops as he thought more about what her mother was saying, at the speed he was going it didn't take long for him to reach his house and slip inside. He took a deep breath before deciding that a quick shower and a good night's rest was all he needed.
After ten minutes, he was finished in the shower. He slowly stepped out and wrapped a towel around his waist when he heard a soft knock on the door. Confused he opened the door slowly with a kunai in his hand ready for anything.