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Saturday, May 31, 2008


Disclaimer: do not own Naruto. I'm a french writer, and I translate this fic for an other writer.

My english is awful, sorry. I hope you will understand my story.


by Canelle

I do not understand.

This girl is the only girl of all the ninja villages not to look at me. To say the truth, I did not look at she either.

She did not grant even a glance to me, her eyes was fixed elsewhere, and I didn't care at all.

I did not grant a glance either to she, like to all the others, all those which do not have any force.

We were in the same class however, we made the examination of the chuunin together, but we never spoke one times.

We did not exist one for the other.

Then why? Why one day her image fixed in my eyes to never leave? she didn't do anything of special however. She was in a park playing with her small sister. So white. So pure in her white kimono. She greeted me politely, then again turned to her sister, without occupying more of me.

Look at Me Hinata! Please, looks at me! Let me plunge in the white of your eyes! Reheatings me of your light!

I really do not understand.

Perhaps this is to see her playing with her sister, whereas my brother never wanted to play with me, which struck me. Such an amount of kindness.

Perhaps my pride felt wounded to be ignored for the first time by a girl.

Perhaps I felt sympathy to somebody whom one always compares to another member of the family, more shining?

Perhaps I simply become aware of her existence for the first time.

Perhaps is the attraction of the darkness for the light.

perhaps this is the softness of spring.

I do not know. I fell in love with her.

For this day, I have done all to see her, in randomly street, in the places of practice, everywhere.

For this day, I have done all so that she sees me. But she doesn't look at me. My power don't impressione her , she don't extasy in front of my prowesses. Every evening I am surrounded of a swarm of girls who ask me to go out with her. It don't interress me. I want just one of your glances, Hinata.

Often the evening, I find her alone in the field of practice, being exerted without stoping, until exhaustion. Then I come practice too. I try to help her. she always thanks me, but she would have thanked for the same manner no matter whom. When tiredness is too strong, she sit by ground to take again his breath, I sit close to her, I wait until she rest .She speaks to me only seldom, even at these times , she keep silent. She is a quiet girl, She is a timid girl. I too almost do not speak. I always found the words useless. They are always useless. They will not help me to collect her glance, always far. Then I look her in silence. I look at the moon reflected in her eyes. She is so beautiful.

When our team cross during missions, I see nothing any more but the sun of the hair of Naruto in your eyes. You looks at only him. Why him?! Why is he always my rival?! Why do you prefer the light to the darkness, moon girl? The light is not made for you, the sun masks your glare, whereas in the darkness you are queen, you shine.

Please, look at me "Looks at me, Hinata."

The words left without I realizing there. Sat both in the clearness of stars, silencers, I let my think too much rove, and the words have escaped me.

Hinata looks at me. She looks at my face, she plunges her look in mine; "What there is, Sasuke?"

"I wanted that you looks at me". She was surprised a little, but she continues to look at me, her eyes vis-a-vis with mine, her face turned towards mine, her lips so close to mine. A few tens of centimetres. A space which could quickly be crossed. Her eyes always looks at me, as if she scanned my heart; as if she wanted to bore the black of my pupils to see what they hide. This glance, a glance I waited since so a long time. Dazzled by his light, I close my eyes and my lips crosses the distance which separates us.

It's soft. When we separate, she always looks at me, reddening, disturbed... but she didn't try to push me back. "Looks at me, Hinata. Look at me trying to obtain your heart."

I am disturbed.

He did not really surprise me when he kiss me. My eyes had understood that he wanted to do it for a long time. But then why I let make? Now, I am disturbed more.

You asked me to look at you... I did not know that my glance was so important for you. Then, since that , I look at you. And I am disturbed more and more.

What touched me in you, it is not your force, it is not your beauty, it is not your intelligence, it is not your dark and mysterious side.

What touched me in you, It is that you looked at me. You paid attention to me, you held account of my presence, you recognized my existence. For the third time, somebody looked at me and I felt to shine. Yes, when you looks at me, I have the impression to shine, to be the white moon illuminant your face, heating your glance.

We looked at ourselves.

What touched me, it is that you listened to me. I am a timid girl, I have difficulty to speak. But your ear is attentive to my weak voice. Far from the noise and uproar of the day, when we sit down side by side on the surface of practice, you hear me, you hear only me. For the third time, somebody was attentive with my words. And you answered me.

We spoke each other.

What touched me, it is that you resemble to me. You know the pain which make these words :"I believed the members of this clan stronger than that". You too know the weight of the name of a famous clan is heavy. You feel weak, too weak. You entraines all the time, you work without rest to become stronger.

We understood ourself.

What touched me... What filled me of heat... that you love me.

However... Naruto, you also, you did all that for me. You looked at me, You listened to me, You supported me and encouraged. You fought for me. I admire you always as much. You are always for me an idol, a brulant sun. But it is not me whom you like. I know it. I sees it. For you, I am a friend. Then I would be your friend.

Sasuke, you, you love me. Then when you will sit with me in the night and silence, I whisper you that I love you.


please be kind with my English.

Bird in a Cage

Hey! I apologize for my poor english, I originally wrote the story in german and translated it. My beta-reader said it was ok but I'm not sure... if you have ideas how to make it better please contact me... anyways, please R&R! This story takes placed after the latest manga chapters. I dont know what's going to happen next so I just thought Naruto and the others managed to bring Sasuke back to Konoha...
Bird in a Cage Author: Salieri

It’s already dark outside and the village has become quiet. But I can find no sleep. My huge apartment is cold and empty and as always in lonely nights such as this one, I feel like something is missing. I miss Sakura smiling at me. I even miss Naruto’s constant bragging. I can’t take it any longer, the silence in this room is suffocating me.

I decide to take a walk outside, to enjoy the air on this warm summer night. I walk through the empty streets with no specific destination, yet I eventually find myself in front of Sakura’s home. Secretly, I scold myself for being so foolish. Why am I here? She must be asleep already, and although I doubt that she’d mind me waking her up in the middle of the night, I turn around and walk ahead. Something is different. I can’t look into her eyes any more.

Undecisively, I take direction toward Naruto’s small apartment, but when I approach the house, I don’t have the courage to go and visit him. I climb a tree, which highest branches reach up to Naruto’s apartment, and take a timid look into his room. Just as I thought, he is fast asleep. Doesn’t he ever feel the loneliness?

I want to wake him. Shoo him out of his bed with a pretense reason, and maybe argue with him a little, just so I don’t have to be alone any more. But I can’t. When I climb down the tree, before anyone can see me up here, and find myself back in front of his door, my hands just won’t move.

Crestfallen, I give up.

Why am I fooling myself? Since the day they brought me back, things have changed. They pretend that nothing happened, but after all they despise me for leaving Konoha. Secretly, they blame me for leaving them behind. Maybe things will never be the way they were. Naruto doesn’t argue with me any more. Whenever we meet, he just keeps smiling this weird smile, I think, he has lost respect for me.

Now I am really lonely. I just wanted to be the lonely avenger, chasing after my brother, living only for revenge. Well, this is it. I am lonely. I lost the only friends I ever had. How could they ever forgive me? I knocked Sakura unconscious and joined up with the four sound-nin, ready to leave in search for Orochimaru and thus also for power.

My path leads me a far off side of the village, close to the entrance. I am about to leave Konoha for a slight walk in the woods, but I hear a sudden scream. I stop and turn around, listening closely, following the unfamiliar sounds. Its origin is within the garden of a huge estate and I recognize it as the Hyuga estate. In the back yard, far away from the buildings, I discover the source of the screams. Someone is training.

A thin mat, tied tightly around the stem of a tree, is what his punches aim for. Again and again he hits the mat with punches and kicks, I can see that his fingers are bleeding. I come closer. He is real good. I don’t see why he is pushing himself so hard. All of his punches are exactly placed and I can tell there is a lot of strength in his kicks. Actually I have hardly ever seen anyone strike so efficiently. Having gotten curious I step closer to him and involuntarily analyze his combat style. I wonder, if he could be a match for me.

“Who’s there?”, he suddenly screams, then spins around and aims a punch at me. He is taken aback when I catch his wrist easily. But I’m also surprised about the force behind this blow. I was right, he is strong indeed.

White eyes stare at me and now I recognize him. Hyuga Neji, the guy who was beaten by Naruto in the final chuunin exam. “Uchiha Sasuke…”, he says and lowers his hand. “Why are you here? This is the Hyuga main house, you’re not welcome here.”

“I was watching you.”, I reply honestly.

He loosens the bandages around his arm and wraps the cloth around his bleeding hands. “So what?”, he asks indifferently.

I smirk at him. “It seems that you have nothing else to do, so what about a little training battle?”

I can see the fighting spirit shine in his eyes and after a short pause he replies: “Sure, why not?” He prepares for the fight and I notice his unfamiliar fighting stance. Must be a characteristic for the Hyuga family.

I take a look around myself. Here? The house is quite far off, but I don’t want to attract uninvited observers. On the other hand, all the windows look dark and I’m not planning to use my special powers in this fight. It’s just supposed to be a training battle. I lift my arms, ready for his attack.

When we approach each other for the first time, we exchange simple punches. Each of us is testing the other’s force and speed, and I must say his strength is remarkable. He is talented. The speed of our attacks is increasing steadily, and so is the force of our blows.

Oh, he is a good fighter. I’m beginning to have problems following his fast moves. And he is reaching his limits as well. Therefore we jump to a new level. I activate the sharingan and he uses his famous Byakugan. His eyes seem to see through everything. This technique is similar to mine, yet it’s different. His insight goes deeper, but he cannot copy moves as I can. And I do. Over time I adapt his combat style and even his stance.

And yet I cannot get the upper hand in this fight. Incredible! I feel excitement rise within me, but also anger. I want to win against him. I cannot lose to someone who lost to Naruto! I just can't! He cannot block one of my kicks and I hit his head. He is not hurt, but his forehead protector loosens and falls to the ground. I hesitate when I see the sign on his forehead. What is that?!

My hesitation earns me a blow to my stomach and I get really angry. I almost lose my temper and create an energy ball in my hand. “Chidori!” While I prepare my final attack, he bends forward and his left hand almost touches his left foot. I don’t recognize this stance. But I can tell it’s a form of defense, I can feel him gather chakra around himself. Is my chidori going to break through his defense or is he stronger than me? I strike out and attempt to attack him.

Out of the blue a searing pain runs through my body. The energy ball disappears unused, while I fall to my knees and press a hand over the scar on my shoulder. It hurts all of a sudden. The seal… did I break the seal? I shouldn’t have used so much chakra in a simple training battle. But this pain is new. What’s happening?

“Uchiha-kun!”, I hear Neji say as he approaches me. “What’s wrong?” He knows well enough that he didn’t injure me. His Byakugan must see the unusual symbol burned onto my shoulder, even through my clothes. The proof that I’m right is his asking me: “What the hell is that?” He kneels down beside me, but there is nothing he can do.

The seal is breaking and I double over in pain. Something is going wrong. But what? Is this Orochimaru’s doing, because I refused him? Because I went back to Konoha with Naruto and the others? I feel the familiar black symbols covering my skin. Neji sees them as well.

“I’ll get help!”, he yells and attempts to stand up.

My arm snaps forward and I grasp his wrist firmly. “No!”, I gasp, and it takes me a lot of willpower. “The curse… might take over… ughh… You have to stay and stop me, if I lose my temper…” It’s obvious that I cannot control the curse this time. It’s just like the first time, when it broke out during the exam, when my hatred threatened to take over my body. If this happens, nothing and no one will be safe from me. Neji is strong enough to stop me. He has to keep me from going berserk when I lose control.

He doesn’t understand what’s happening, yet he nods softly. Good. Now I can concentrate on winning back control over the curse. I still hold on to his wrist and in my agony I squeeze it with all my strength. He draws back slightly and stares at me wide-eyed, but doesn’t say a thing.

It seems to me like an eternity during which I almost lose complete control over myself. But then I get a hold onto a clear thought. I remember how Sakura brought me back. I need another human being, a good friend at best, but neither Sakura nor Naruto are there right now. So I stick to the next best thing. Neji. I stare into his eyes and try to hold on to this sight. There are people who are worried about me. There are people I care about. If I lose it now, I might hurt them. I feel the touch of his skin beneath my fingers.

And it works. I repress the curse and the black symbols disappear. I fall forward in exhaustion.

“Uchiha-kun?” His soft voice reminds me that he is still there. I lift my head as soon as I regain my composure. My hand is still grasping his wrist firmly. I let go and he draws back his arm. My grip left red marks on his pale skin.

I sit back and sigh in relief. “Thank you…”

He seems to be confused. “What was that?”

“The curse.”, I reply. “Orochimaru marked my body with his symbol.” I pull the hem of my shirt over my shoulder and show him the scar on the base of my neck. “When I’m angry or my body is weak, then the seal breaks and I lose control.”

His expression changes, and if I didn’t know better I’d say he’s smiling at me. “She was right after all. We are alike.” When I stare at him in awe, he explains: “Hinata-sama said that some time ago. Although I don’t think she knew about the curse.” He touches the mark on his forehead swiftly. “This mark was burned into my forehead to keep me under their control. I’m at the main house’s mercy.”

Finally I understand what he means. We both had our bodies marked against our will. And although mine increases my strength and his is supposed to suppress his powers, they are both meant to take away any control over our body. In some ways, we’re caged. “Like a bird in a cage…”, I say absent-mindedly. I didn’t even mean to say that out loud. He is staring at me bewildered.

“What did you just say?”

It must be the exhaustion and maybe the loneliness that makes me say these foolish things. “Even if someone opens the cage, we cannot fly away. I hold on to my revenge, even if it destroys me.”

“And I cling to my hatred against the main house.” He touches his forehead again and seems almost forlorn to me suddenly. “I almost killed Hinata-sama.”

Although each of us can understand the other’s pain, we’re both too involved with ourselves. I can find no consolation in the fact that I found another being who has to suffer as much as I. He is like a mirror to myself.

“Maybe we should finally learn to fly.”, he says depressed. “And let go of our past.”

But none of us can do so. I can feel his despair as much as mine, although I have never been a sensitive person. Why should I care about someone else’s feelings? Must be the loneliness…

I lean forward on my knees to reach him, who is still sitting on the grass with his eyes cast down, and kiss him on the lips ever-so-softly. Hell, I don’t think about what I’m doing right now. He was so beautiful sitting there, just like me and yet so different. I just did it.

Instead of pushing me away, he kisses me back.

It feels so unreal as we touch each other in the moonlight. I have never kissed somebody, I have never wanted to. And all of a sudden I am caught in a kiss, with Hyuga Neji of all people! Neji, who has this distant aura and the piercing eyes. We both forget everything around us. Where we are, who might watch us, even our pride and the reputation as cool, distant fighters. I feel strangely attracted to him.

He pulls my shirt over my head and kisses the scar Orochimaru left on my body. A shiver is running down my back. I undo the bandage on his head, which is keeping his hair back, and tuck at his hair-band. Black strands of hair fall freely over his face, making him look so vulnerable now. I stroke a strand of his hair behind his ear and slightly touch the mark on his forehead. It must have been hurtful when they cut it into his pale skin.

None of us would say a word. I know that any word spoken out loud would make this weird sensation that has gotten a hold of us disappear instantly. He removes his shirt.

My hands stroke his muscular chest and a wave of arousal washes over me. For the first time I realize what this might lead to. But my head feels dizzy, I am blinded with grief and loneliness, and as well with lust. And so is he, his heavy breathing increases, his chest is rising heavily beneath my soft touch. He draws me closer to himself and our hips grind against each other, sending waves of pleasure through my body. I want him. I can feel only this: I want him.

Between deep kisses, longing touches of our hands and soft sounds of arousal, we tear at each others clothes, undressing each other.

He presses me to the ground, and the grass feels cool against my heated up skin. For the first time since that first kiss, we are looking directly into each others eyes. His white eyes meet my black ones and his right hand is cupping my cheek.

What am I doing here? I must be losing my mind.

Hot breath grazes over the sensitive skin on my neck. Fingers stroke wantingly over pale skin. Black hair, tickling me. His soft voice in my ears, suppressed moans of arousal. Our fingers entwine and we hold on to each other as if for dear life. We both want to escape our loneliness for a few precious moments.

The world disappears into a sea of sensations and this weird mixture of lust and loneliness and I completely lose my mind and my composure.

Eventually I find myself lying face-down on the ground, my face pressed into the cool grass, and his hands grasp my raven hair. Beads of sweat are glistening on my skin. With one hard thrust he buries himself deep inside of me and I can help but crying out. He gently kisses my shoulder and whispers meaningless words softly into my ear, words of comfort.

Then he starts to move, slowly at first, but his rhythm steadily increasing. I lose count of time, to me there’s just the two of us and the thick air and this sensation within me.

We come closer to the moment of relief and I can hear his hardly suppressed moans. He is supporting his weight with his right arm, the other strokes my back, moves over to my chest, down to my stomach, and goes down further, and I tilt back my head, screaming my excitement out into the world. From far away I hear his gasps when we reach climax simultaneously and the world disappears and my body trembles and while I cannot grasp a single thought I feel incredibly focused at the same time.

At this single, perfect moment I feel like a bird that flies out of its cage into the endless sky.

Then we fall over onto the grass, enjoying its cool touch on our bodies, gasping for air, listening to our hearts beating in the same, fast rhythm. He rolls himself off of me and lies down on his back, staring into the night sky. I lie there by his side, facing him, refusing to come back to my senses. I know that as soon as I regain control over myself, it’ll be over and I’ll be alone again.

Eventually, when we are able to breathe again, he reaches out for his pants and puts them on. Upon seeing this I do so too, afterwards sinking into the soft grass once again, enjoying the aftermath of our love-making. His eyes seem dull from exhaustion, now he is avoiding my gaze once again.

I feel endlessly tired, but in a wonderful way. I can’t seem to keep my eyes open and for a little while I doze off. When I feel like I’ve been resting for long enough I sit back up. Neji is asleep next to me. He is still lieing on his back, his head slightly tilted at my direction, and his black hair is mingling with the grass. Even now that I am coming back to my senses, I still think he is so very beautiful.

Careful not to wake him I kiss the mark on his forehead like he kissed the scar on my shoulder minutes ago. I watch him sleep for a long time. He looks vulnerable, almost fragile in his sleep.

To me he is like a bird with broken wings.

And yet I don’t feel lonely in his arms any more. I can feel this insatiable longing for closeness I have always denied. If I could, I’d forget about my pride and my cool image, and just stay with him. Wake up next to Hyuga Neji tomorrow, give him a good-morning-kiss and embrace him.

But whatever happened to us tonight, it’s over now.

Each of us will cut his own path, locked up in his cage, haunted by the ghosts of his past. I cannot share my path of revenge with anyone, even though I shared my pain with him for one night.

As quiet as possible I gather up my clothes and head back home. The same crescent moon is shining down upon me as it has been a few hours ago. My apartment is still the same, still dark and empty. And I am still the same. I am Sasuke Uchiha. Forever trapped like a bird in a cage. I look through my window over the quiet village I call home. Maybe I will never change. But…

I wanna learn to fly.


Oooh! My first Neji/Sasu Fanfic! I'm obsessed with this pairing but there are hardly any fanfics about them! Please, everyone! Write Neji/Sasu or Sasu/Neji fics!! P L E A S E!!

Freaks Flock Together

A/N: Just a waff fic that was inspired by Kaminiko’s fic, ‘Reprieve’. This is dedicated to her, since she DID inspire it..

Just because this is shounen ai doesn’t mean Byakko is going to become shounen ai. Hell, it doesn’t mean Byakko is gonna end up with romance in it at ALL.

Insomnia Productions Presents..

Freaks Flock Together
By Clara, part of Insomnia Productions


It was one of those particularly lazy days where it was just a bit too hot for comfort and there were fat clouds drifting lethargically across the sky. They were lying on top of Naruto’s house in identical positions, arms crossed behind their heads and faces lifted towards the sky, hoping to catch a brief breeze that sometimes came at this height. Both had opted to rid themselves of their shirts and Naruto was a bit amused to see that Sasuke was starting to sport quite the burn.

“Shuriken.” Naruto turned and frowned at his companion, then looked back up at the particular cloud they were observing. He tried tilting his head one way, then the other, then just shook it in resignation. “I don’t see it.”

“That’s because you’re not looking hard enough,” Sasuke admonished, then scooted closer to Naruto. The blonde chuckled, since his friend looked like a strange worm. Ignoring Naruto’s mirth, he lay his head right above Naruto’s shoulder and pointed to the sky. “See? Shuriken.”

“Nope. I still see a fox.”

Sasuke sighed and rolled his eyes, moving a back to where he was laying before. “Idiot. It’s obviously not a fox. You need to get your eyes checked.”

Naruto reached over and pinched Sasuke. The black haired boy hissed in surprise and faint pain.

“You’re starting to turn into a lobster, albino.”

Sasuke shot him a glare, then flipped over on his stomach. “Great. Maybe it’ll scare away some of the girls.”

Naruto chuckled, tilting his already bronzed face further up. “I doubt that. They’d probably baby you and blame me for your burn.”

“Most likely.” Sasuke folded his arms under his head and closed his eyes. Dusk was just beginning to fall, giving the overly baked world some respite. “I don’t know, I’m looking pretty multi-colored though. White legs, pink chest, faintly burned back.. I’m sure they’ll give it a rest until I’m normal again.”

“You, normal?” Naruto laughed, mimicking Sasuke by flipping onto his own stomach. “That’ll be one long break.”

Sasuke retaliated by jabbing Naruto in the side. “Look who’s talking, Mr. ‘I-need-ramen-every-single-day-in-order-to-survive’.”

“Hey!” Naruto yelped, extremely offended. “Mock me if you have to, but watch what you’re saying when you talk about my ramen!”

Sasuke turned his head and looked at his rival for a long moment, then shook his head. “I wonder about you sometimes, you know?”

“The feeling’s mutual.”

They lapsed back into silence after that, enjoying the sinking sun's rays on their backs. Naruto has closed his eyes and Sasuke was looking at him thoughtfully, watching as the sun played with the shadows on his face.


"Mmm?" Naruto asked sleepily.

"..what's that on your stomach?"

Naruto's eyes snapped open. He really hadn't been expecting that, especially during such a peaceful moment between them. Frowning, he turned his head away from Sasuke opting instead to press his nose against his roof. He could feel his ears begin to burn with shame.

“It’s nothing,” he mumbled against the roof and grimaced slightly when he heard Sasuke shift.


“And?” Naruto buried his face deeper into his arms. “It’s none of your business, anyway.”

There was a beat of silence where Sasuke pondered pointing out that it technically was his business, considering they were teammates. He decided, however, that the topic was probably much too tender to use such a brash form of persuasion.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Sasuke murmured in what he hoped was a comforting voice. He didn’t get to use such a voice often, since there wasn’t anyone he had to comfort. “But.. you can if you want.”

Naruto turned back to Sasuke, looking surprised. “So where’d this sentimental side come from?”

“He pops up once in awhile when I’m least expecting it.” Sasuke gave one of his rare smiles, igniting a bright one from Naruto.

“You’re weird.”

“Freaks flock together.”

Naruto let out a surprised laugh at that, then rolled over onto his back again. Carefully gluing his eyes onto the fat cloud he and Sasuke had been debating on, Naruto reached down to place the palm of one of his hands on his tattoo.

“Have you heard of the fox demon?”

“Who hasn’t?” Sasuke asked, sounding mildly surprised. This story was promising to be interesting. “Why?”

Naruto grimaced. He was half hoping that Sasuke would be all, “What fox demon?” That would have made things much easier.

He had hoped.

“I’m not it,” he said quickly, scrunching his eyes shut. This was becoming harder than he thought it would, though he had never expected to have to explain his curse, as silly as it sounded. “I mean, I am it, but..”

“Oh. You’re like Gaara.”

“I am not!” Naruto burst out vehemently, shooting up to a sitting position. Sasuke blinked, surprised at the reaction. “I mean, I’m not a psycho like Gaara. I don’t embrace the fact that I’m a demon or use it to my advantage or anything like that. It’s just.. there.”

He sunk back down, the sudden burst of energy draining away his anger. The nervousness was still there, though.

“But.. it is still there. It.. heals me and acts as a shield sometimes, and there are times.. it takes over. Like, when I get this terrible burst of emotion. Or something.”

Naruto laced his trembling fingers across his tattoo in a slightly self-preserving manner, closing his eyes and waiting for the mockery to befall on him again.

“..what do you think that cloud looks like?”

Naruto’s eyes snapped back open again in a bit of offended surprise. He turned to give Sasuke a piece of his mind but had the words shocked out of his throat by the tense, thoughtful look on Sasuke’s face. He turned his face back to the sky and found himself looking at the same cloud they had been debating about before, only changed ever so slightly.

“..a fox,” he said meekly.

“I don’t.” Sasuke was smiling slightly. “I think it looks like you.”


Sasuke turned to look at Naruto, the smile still gracing his features. It broadened and his eyes closed briefly, causing Naruto’s heart to skip a beat. Sasuke looked so.. peaceful. He loved catching Sasuke at moments like these, when his barriers were down.

“Naruto, whoever you are.. you’re just that. You. You’re still an idiot who has a ridiculous amount of potential and still.. you. My main rival.”

The blonde blinked several times, then blushed furiously. He blushed even more when he realized that he was starting to choke up.

Sasuke was the only other one aside from Iruka who accepted him for who he was, despite knowing about his horrible curse.

He reached up to scrub at his eyes ineffectively, hoping Sasuke hadn’t noticed.

“Your sentimental side frightens me.”

Sasuke laughed slightly. “I know. That’s why I usually keep him locked away.”

“I’m beginning to think we should lock you away,” Naruto retaliated, looking back up at the sky. His cheeks were still stained pink, but fading back to their natural color as they approached the more familiar grounds of idle banter. “Hey.”


“..You really think that cloud looks like me?”


“No, really.” He tilted his head to the side, observing the cloud intently. “I can kind of see it too.” He let out a gleeful laugh. “Look! The cloud floating beside it! It looks like ramen!”

Sasuke shoved him.

“You really are a nerd, you know that?”

“A super-cool, number one Hidden Leaf ninja nerd, you mean!”

“Hardly,” Sasuke scoffed. He turned back to the sky and was quite surprised by the abnormally bright star twinkling back at him. “What on earth?”

Naruto followed Sasuke’s gaze and grinned. “What, don’t tell me the great and powerful Sasuke doesn’t know about Venus.”

“Venus..” Sasuke repeated, rolling the name on his tongue as if he had never heard of it before.

“Yeah, you know, Venus. Born of sea foam after Cronus threw Uranus’ blood into the ocean. Said to be the Goddess of Love. She’s supposed to be one hot chick, man.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I could ever be attracted to a woman..”

“Words marked, remembered, and stored for blackmail!”

“..that has been born from blood and fish crap..” He turned to glare at Naruto, wondering if he could shove the other boy off the roof without getting into too much trouble. “I didn’t say that.”

“You did so.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“You still said it.”

Sasuke punched him hard on the shoulder, earning a satisfying grunt from Naruto.

“Anyway. Venus. Goddess of beauty and love and whatnot. She gave birth to Cupid. You must know who Cupid is..”

Sasuke nodded slightly. “Yeah, Ino wrote a poem a couple years back on how Cupid shot her with an arrow or something and she fell madly in love with me. I didn’t get it. Who would fall in love with someone after they got shot with an arrow?”

Naruto chuckled. “It’s a myth. Venus was like the ultimate matchmaker and got upset when people didn’t marry when she wanted them to, so she would have her son shoot them in the heart with like, love-arrows or something.”

“Brutal way of falling in love..”

The blonde shrugged slightly. “Eh, you know those Greeks. Obsessed with romantic tragedies and whatnot.” He shot a discreet look out of the corner of his eye at the Uchiha. “Speaking of love.. have you ever been in it?”

“Been in love?” Sasuke snorted with disdain. “Do I look like the kind of guy who has time for love?”

“I had a feeling you’d answer like that.” Naruto grinned up at Venus. “I haven’t been in love either. I mean, I really like Sakura-chan and whatnot, but I don’t think it’s love unless it’s mutual. You know? Besides.. not many people like me, ‘cause of the demon and whatnot..”

“They’re stupid,” Sasuke said vehemently, then sighed. “You’re worth more than all of them.”

They both froze at Sasuke’s admittance, the taller of the two turning an unhealthy shade of pink and the shorter looking justifiably surprised.


“That came out wrong.”

Naruto grinned. “I don’t know, you’re blushing. Sounds like it came out right but in a way you didn’t want me to hear.”

If possible, the other turned redder. “Now you’re just letting your ego control your thoughts.” In order to hide his flush, he rolled over onto his stomach and buried his face in his arms. Pride be damned.

“You have a crush on me!” Naruto crowed, delighted. He crawled onto Sasuke’s back, sprawling out on top of him and making the two of them look like a demented cross.

“WHO would have a crush on YOU?” Sasuke growled, waiting for the roof to open up and swallow him whole. Despite the fact that they had been close friends for a good five years, and he did harbor some (by some he meant an itsy bitsy amount).. romantic feelings towards the other boy, that was not how he planned on telling him.

“Good question.” He pretended to think about it for a moment, scratching his chin. “Lemme think.. you!”

Sasuke growled and flipped over, shoving Naruto off him. The boy tumbled and landed with an ‘oof’, sending a half hearted glare at the blushing boy.

“Just because you can’t get in touch with your inner feelings..”

“’re taking this a lot lighter than I would imagine,” Sasuke mumbled.

Naruto grinned, folding his hands behind his head. “Yeah, well, I can use it on all those annoying girls. Be like, ‘that’s right, girlies, Sasuke likes me, not you’.”

Sasuke rolled his eyes and turned to look at Naruto. “So, what you’re saying is..”

“A love is a love is a love,” Naruto answered, beaming.

“..yes, okay, you’re saying something that makes absolutely no sense, I see.” Sasuke closed his eyes and sighed.

“Funny. What I’m saying is.. I like you too.”

Black eyes snapped open and met a pair of amused blue ones. Naruto had scooted a bit closer, the bottom of his chin just above Sasuke’s shoulder. Sasuke tried to say something, then just shook his head hard and swallowed thickly.

“I’m glad you finally said something, you know,” Naruto said idly, resting his chin against his palm. “I was getting worried that I was the one who was going to have to say something.”

“You mean, you knew?”

“Hell no! Man, you’re insanely good at hiding stuff. I was just hoping.”

Hope. He was hoping Sasuke liked him. Naruto was..

He felt his head turn.

“Ha! You look so surprised. That’s classic. And hey, I was right! You really don't like women!”

Without saying anything, Sasuke grabbed Naruto and pulled him up to his side, nearly crushing the other boy. Naruto let out a large breath and turned to press his forehead against Sasuke’s shoulder, a (rewarding, definitely, for Sasuke) blush finally staining his cheeks.

“You really are a freak, you know that, Naruto?”

The blonde grinned cheerfully, leaning over to place a small kiss on Sasuke’s jawline. “You know what they say.”


“Stick with what you know.”

Sasuke laughed and pulled Naruto up, kissing his forehead.

Stick with what you know, indeed.


Wow. This is.. very rambling. Kinda like my conversations with people. Rambling.

Someday Dreams Will Come True

"Someday Dreams Will come True"
Author: GothicAzNGirl

"Geez," Shikamaru sighed as he walked out of the partying room and out to the balcony. He put his back against the wall then just plopped down to the ground, with his legs spread out in front of him, and his hands dangling at his sides.

He looked up at the sky. No clouds. Lazily he kept his head up and stared at the moon. Damn his father, giving him so much booze, he was only 12 for crying out loud. This was just a party for celebrating him passing the Chuunin exam. Slowly he closed his eyes and began to fall asleep, but before he could relax he heard the sliding door swish aside abruptly. He didn't flinch he just, sat in the dark area and looked to the side idly.

It was Sakura and Ino hanging onto Sasuke, each begging him to be theirs. Shikamaru looked away and just went back to sleep but they were too loud. They were exclaiming back and forth and then Sasuke jumped off the roof and ran away. Then they started blaming each other whose fault it was that Sasuke left. Sakura slammed the door and went inside leaving Ino there. Ino screamed and then she noticed a figure sitting on the floor to the right resting.

Ino moved closer to see that it was Shikamaru, resting his eyes, peacefully. She got a little angry, kicked him and said, "Get up you party pooper! This is your party and you go out and sleep!!"

"Eh, don't take your anger out on me just because you Sasuke ran away from you," he said calmly looking at her with a drunken face, then back at the moon. He just sat there quietly..then Ino came by and sat by him.

"Pretty isn't it?" she said dreamily.

"Yeah, sure," he said with indifference. "You have a weird thing for the moon and the sun, don't ya?"

"Shut up!" she snapped, "I like it and I don't care what everyone thinks it makes me feel escape from this hell.

"Yeah, whatever," he said.

There was a moment of silence. Ino looked at his face, but Shikamaru already had his eyes closed again. A little startled from her trance she saw Shikamaru ask her something.

"Come again?" She said.

He sighed in an annoyed way, "What do you girls see in that guy anyways?"

"Well, first of all he's got a killer look, so hot!! He's good looking, those sexy dark keen eyes. He's a bit cold. But other than that he is the perfect guy in the world," she explained. "I thinks he's gay like Neji," Shikamaru said.

She stood up quickly retaliating on that comment. "HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT?! YOU BASTARD!" Ino shouted.

"Well, then answer me, why do they always avoid women, and so cold? Y'know what I think those two are two gays in love," he said like a drunk.

Ino became furious and then slapped him across the face. Shikamaru did nothing his face just flung to the side; a red hand mark appeared on his face. He chuckled. "Ah," he sighed as if he was done from a good laugh.

"You're fuckin' drunk, Shikamaru, Sasuke is twice the man you'll ever be! You're just jealous because you're not like him!" Ino scolded at Shikamaru.

"You know nothing about me, my dreams, what I want, and how life is just a bitch," he said almost lifeless. "I don't need or want a thousand girls to like me, I don't want it.I don't want to be hot, I don't want to be a Chuunin, I never asked to be a genius, it's just the way I am."

Before Ino could say anything he continued, "I just want an average girl, she doesn't need to be sexy or a beauty queen. We'd have two kids a girl first then a boy. Then.I want to live an easy life, but now that dream has been shattered because now I'm a Chuunin. Life's sucks," he finished.

"Shikamaru," she said softly, "Sorry...I didn't know." For the first time Shikamaru had opened up to someone, but maybe it was just because he was drunk, or pissed at her for yelling at him without knowing him. She sat back down next to him, "How long...has it been since we've known each other?"

"Long ass time," he replied.

"Why are you always like this?!" she yelled angrily, "You always act as if life is a bore and you'd rather just jump off a cliff and die? I really hate that about you, I hate everything about you!! You just don't care, I hate the way you act, you responses, the things you do, everything!!"

"I don't care," he said sleepily.

"But then...why do I love you?" she broke into tears, "Why is it that over and over again my heart leaps with joy when I see Sasuke, I've convinced myself that I love him but I can't to seem to get you out of my mind!! When I dream, I dream of you, not Sasuke! Tell me why??"

"Are you suffering mental stress?" he asked. "Maybe you just need someone to talk to. Since Sakura felt abandoned, hurt, and rejected, and I believe you've kept those feelings locked up inside this whole time. Acting tough, you wanted to be friends with Sakura even though you fell for the same guy...but Sakura didn't see it that way. You want everything to be the way it once was, don't you?"

She was amazed, within a few minutes he had figured her out; he had just told things about her that she didn't know even about herself. Her shocked face turned into a gentle smirk, "Y'know, you should be drunk more often Shikamaru, you'd make a great psychiatrist," she laughed.

For the first time he laughed openly, never had he laughed like this before. was just like Ino said, there's more to life than what he sees with his genius. He now had a new perspective of the world, maybe...being a Chuunin wouldn't be so bad. He finally was able to stop laughing and leaned his head back and sighed. He stared back up at the moon and the stars, where they this bright before?

Suddenly he felt something heavy on his left shoulder; he slowly looked to his left and saw that it was Ino leaning on his shoulder. She was crying out of happiness, somewhere within in that tough, sexy, was the average girl he was looking for. He gave a warm smile to her.

She gave her almighty smile, "I hate everything about you, but why do I love you? I don't think we'll ever figure that out even with y your genius."

"I know," he said then put his arm around her waist and pulled her in close. She cuddled next to him and smiled.

"I know I'm tough," she said then paused, "but for tonight and when I'm with you, let me be that average girl you dream of." She looked at him and silver tears skated down her cheeks. Shikamaru took his thumb and wiped those tears away.

"Of course," he smiled then pulled out that bun she had, and let her hair fall, she looked like she did when she was younger with the short pixie hair. He smiled and said, "I like you better this way, much cuter." Shikamaru out his warm hand n her cheek and slowly moved in and kissed her, Ino returned it and extended it.

A/N: How did you like our story? I liked it even though I had to add Kairi's shitty love crap, but for the first time I liked it. Maybe I liked it only because it was about InoShika lol. I'm also a NaruSaku fan. I HATE SASUKE!! AGGGHHHHHHH!! HE'S SO GAY!! Any ways review our story for us.

Kairi: Hey are you talking bad about me again Kaori?

Kaori: Uh, no of course not, I actually complemented you!! Heh heh.

Kairi: Sniff el complement-o el me-o cries

Kaori: mops tears never again will I compliment her...she's too sensitive..

In Other Words

Rated: PG
: Temari/Tenten
: Shoujo-ai and spoilers
: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, not me
: You have to read this wonderful story called “The Thing about Simplicity” by Jade Maxwell first. This is the companion piece she asked me to write for her. It's told from Tenten's POV as the first was from Temari's.

In Other Words

Author: Hyatt Insomnia

Did you know that I had been awake the whole time you were there? I'm sure that you didn't. You seemed so surprised when you pulled away, your teal eyes large in shock. I had been lying there thinking before you came in. Oddly enough it had been you that I had been thinking of; or if my you prefer, my defeat by your hand.

I couldn't believe it when I had lost. Even more so mind-numbing was the way that I had lost. So utterly defeated—it was almost laughable. I'm the one who's supposed to be there to yell at Lee when he makes the same mistake he has over and over, challenging Neji though I often tell him not to. I'm supposed to be strong. I have to be strong for myself and for my teammates.

Yet you tossed me aside so carelessly. Do you realize that I could've (and would've) died had I landed upon the discarded weapons? At first I thought it was because you just didn't care, because you were cold hearted and cruel.

Then why would you…? I almost laugh at that. I don't even know you—not even a little bit—and yet, you already confuse me more than anyone I've ever met before. If you didn't care whether or not I lived or died why would you go and do something like you did? Or is that just another way of you being cruel?

No. I know that that isn't true. The look on your face before you ran out of here was too open, too true. You hadn't wanted me to catch you, but there was one thing that you had failed to notice: I kissed you back. I don't know why I did or if I even really wanted to kiss you, but I did it anyways.

I bring my fingers up to my lips, brushing the tips of them lightly across and I smile. How completely moronic am I? I'm getting giddy over a kiss given to me by a girl that I don't even know. Not to mention a girl that almost killed me. That makes the lingering prickling sensation in my lips all the more moronic. I can't believe myself. My heart shouldn't be racing right about now, but it is. I shouldn't be recalling the events of a few days ago, but I am. And my lips shouldn't tingle at the very thought of the kiss you gave me, but they do.

My eyes slip closed recalling that small amount of time you had spent inside of my room. I had closed my eyes as soon as I heard the door open thinking that it would be Neji, Lee, or Gai-sensei. But then again, how could it have been any of them? Neji and Lee had still yet to fight and Gai-sensei had to be there to support them. Even if I had realized that however, I wouldn't have expected it to be you.

You had walked over to my bedside, looking over me in such a way that I had to fight the urge to shudder. I could feel your gaze burning into my skin. At that time I had yet to see your face but somehow I knew that you weren't one of my teammates. I had a feeling that it was you. No one else would've come to see me. Though I had to ask myself: why were you there? Why would you bother to come visit my bedside when you had treated me so cruelly inside of the fight? And even more importantly: why were you staring at me like you were?

I had to fight in order to keep my eyes shut. Part of me had wanted to open them, to look at you and let you know that I was awake. That would be the same moronic part of me that touches my lips like I am now. You shouldn't be affecting me this way.

You stood there for so long. It was a bit frustrating to have to feign sleep for such a long period of time. In the end I'm glad that I had to though I must admit that some of your actions surprised me more than you would expect.

When you reached out to touch my hair, I had flinched in response. The touch had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly. I thought that you would for sure notice that I had been awake the whole time. And I must admit that I felt the urge to panic. Yet you showed no sign that you had seen me flinch as your hand continued to caress my hair.

Though that action alone was startling enough was the feeling of you lifting stray locks of hair off of the pillow. What had you been doing then? Smelling it? Seeing what it felt like against your cheek? I wanted to open my eyes and see exactly what it was, but again I decided against it. For some reason I was slightly nervous of you finding me awake. Though I don't see why I was… had you really cared if I had done so earlier than I did?

Well, the point is that I didn't. I'm not quite sure if now that I know what happened next whether or not I did the right thing or if I should've opened them. I felt you lean forward, taking in my scent and lingering for only a moment. That was when it had happened.

You kissed me. I kissed you back. The kiss was only brief and I have a feeling that you were far too lost in your own thoughts to even notice that I had returned your kiss but I felt you nip at my lower lip as you pulled away.

That was when I had blinked my eyes open to look upon your face. You were smiling in the moment that you had pulled away. Did you know that you were or were you unaware of it? You looked so innocent when you smiled. It lit your face up; something that I wouldn't have thought was possible. I couldn't help but wonder: is this the same person that had beaten me so mercilessly earlier? But at the same time, I knew that you were.

The smile—the beautiful, innocent smile—left your lips as quickly as you came. Your eyes caught mine for the briefest of seconds. I had opened my mouth to say something. I don't remember what exactly that was but I have a feeling it was something along the lines of 'hello'. I can be terribly inarticulately like that sometimes.

Before I got a chance to say anything (which may very well have been a good thing) you were out the door, leaving me with that unspoken word on my lips. I had pushed myself up, staring at the door for only a few moments before turning my head to look out the window. Just as I'm doing now I raised my hand to my lips, brushing my fingers over them and I found myself wondering what it would've been like to really kiss you.

I let out a soft sigh, finally letting my hand fall from my lips and down to my side. I'm still smiling though I'm confused. I do suppose that I'm going to have to try and find you to ask you why you did what you did. Maybe then I could find out why I did what I did.

Any further thoughts on the matter are quickly cut off as the door opens. I lift my head, turning it in the general direction to find Neji standing there, looking rather emotionless though I suppose that's nothing new.

Without as much as a word he strides over to the bed, sitting down upon it gracefully. That's one of the interesting things about Neji; he's more graceful than anyone I know. I must admit that I'm rather tomboyish and lack the usually grace of a woman. It makes me wonder exactly what it was that made me attractive to you. Or do you go for that sort of thing?

“You seem happy,” Neji finally says after a moment of silence, once again breaking me from my thoughts.

For a moment I look at him, trying to think of something to say in reply to that. Am I happy? I know that I'm smiling, but am I really happy? My smile grows wider. “I am,” I say softly, turning to look out the window.

I can practically feel the question forming inside of Neji's mind. “Any particular reason?” he asks. I laugh lightly, shaking my head. There's not reason for him to know.

“No reason at all. I just am.”

I'm still wondering how I managed to write that in under an hour. blinks I'm really not used to writing anything that isn't Yu-Gi-Oh. Anyways, I hope that everyone (especially wifey!) enjoyed this story! I had fun writing it. Who knew Tenten's POV would want to be written as much as it did?

With You

Disclaimer: I don’t own the anime, I don’t own the song, but I do own my car

Warning: If you haven’t seen up through the battle with Haku and Zabuza, this will have spoilers. Also there is mild shonen ai for anyone looking for it (don’t blink), so if you are offended very easily (and I mean Very easily), than go elsewhere and good luck finding something to read.

Author’s notes: Don’t kill me, please. I know I haven’t finished Soul Unsheathed, but I was listening to music and just got inspired. Please listen to “I’m With You,” by Avril Lavigne prior to or even during reading. Very good song!

Translation tips for the needy:

Kusou-expletive (please insert your own)

Dobe-dead last

With You

Author: Haruka Hana

As the twilight descended, the mist rolled back in to enshroud the unfinished bridge. The night came silently, a strange dichotomy to the violence that had occurred there in the early morning hours. The heavy veil of fog parted as a small figure walked slowly to the edge of the bridge.

Naruto stared off into the darkness. He was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but somehow he had been unable to fall asleep. He strained his ears for the sound of anyone following him. The night remained undisturbed. I’m kidding myself. No one would follow me here. Besides everyone was asleep when I left.

One of the reasons Naruto had left the house that evening was because he had been unable to fall asleep with Sasuke there. Sasuke had been sleeping so peacefully, lying there so quietly. Naruto couldn’t keep the memories from haunting him.

Alone on the bridge, Naruto let his emotions come out into the cold night air.

“Why? I just don’t understand why.”

Why did he do it?

He and his team mates had come to this village to protect the architect of the bridge he was standing on. This morning had seen the end of the need for that protection. They had fought against the rebel ninja Zabuza and his masked team mate. Fought and won.

“But I didn’t think victory would come like that.”

The masked ninja had turned out to be the quiet boy he had met in the forest. In the shade of the trees, they had talked about what it meant to be a ninja. Naruto remembered how he had said he was training so that he could be stronger and make everyone acknowledge him. Especially him.

The gentle boy had responded by telling him that a person only truly becomes strong when he has something precious to protect. Naruto hadn’t known at the time exactly what the strange boy had meant.

Not until that morning, when Sasuke…

“I was so mad. It felt like there was a wild animal struggling to get out. I think that’s when I finally understood.”

Naruto had almost killed the masked ninja. He had effortlessly broken through his ice mirrors and landed punch after punch on the ninja shattering the mask with the same ease as the mirrors. He had been ready to kill him, but was stopped cold when the broken mask fell away. Those same gentle eyes stared into his.

“I didn’t know it was you behind the mask. How could someone so gentle have fought so viciously.”

He had listened to Haku tell him about his past. And about how he had found that special someone that he would give everything for. Naruto had stood there and watched as Haku gave everything to protect his precious person, as he gave his own life.

A soft, gentle rain started to fall like tears. Naruto remained standing alone in the dark., absorbed by his thoughts.

“You were just like me. No one wanted you. No, more than that, they hated you just for being you. But you found someone. Maybe you were the lucky one, you at least had someone with you.”

His small frame started to shiver as the cold rain penetrated through his jumpsuit. He moved closer to the edge, sitting down with his feet over it. His arms wrapped around his body to try to keep the warmth in.

“Kusou. I don’t have anyone with me. I don’t even have what you could call a home.”

But maybe…

Naruto remembered fighting with Sasuke against Haku. Remembered how he felt when he opened his bleary eyes and saw Sasuke standing over him. He had known immediately that Sasuke had won. The masked ninja’s body lay crumpled in front of one of his own mirrors.

“But you didn’t win. I didn’t think anyone could defeat you, yet I saw you standing impaled by all those needles, your blood falling right in front of me.”

Why? Why did you protect me?

It was already too late when Naruto woke up. He had watched as Sasuke’s clear black eyes lost their light. He had caught Sasuke’s limp body as he fell. There was nothing he could do but hold onto him.

“you…don’t die”

At that moment, Naruto understood that Sasuke was dying. What was even worse for him was the understanding that Sasuke knew it too. He had held Sasuke’s strangely light body close, listening and feeling the heart beat fade to nothingness and felt something break inside.

“I couldn’t protect you. All I could do was avenge you.”

Naruto remembered Sasuke saying something about living for revenge, and for a moment felt a connection to his ever distant team mate. Is that how you always feel.

In the cold, dark night, Naruto wrapped his arms more tightly about himself. He let the feeling of relief wash over him as he remembered seeing Sasuke standing next to Sakura after Zabuza was killed. The tears he had felt at that moment burning in his eyes had quenched the fire that had been started by his tears over Sasuke’s death.

I was so happy to find out you were alive. That’s all I want.

“I don’t care if I’m alone.”

“Dobe, you’re not alone”

Naruto was so surprised at this sudden comment intruding on his musings that he almost fell off the edge. He turned quickly to see a dark form emerge from the shadows. Black hair heavy with the rain and hung wetly in front of black eyes.

A pale hand reached out towards him.

“I’m with you.”


Hope you liked my ramblings.

Please, please, please read and review. I want to know what you think. I know Naruto is a bit out-of-character, but we all have our quiet moments. This was his (I’m sure he had at least one in his life).

Thanks again for reading.

I included the lyrics to “I’m With You” if anyone is interested. I didn’t want to put them in the story, I thought it would be distracting.

I’m standing on the bridge
I’m waiting in the dark
I thought that you'd be here by now
There's nothing but the rain
No footsteps on the ground
I’m listening but there's no sound

Isn’t anyone trying to find me
Wont somebody come take me home

It’s a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won’t you take me by the hand
Take me somewhere new
I don’t know who you are but I
I'm with you

I’m looking for a place
I’m searching for a face
Is anybody here I know
Cause nothings going right
And everything’s a mess
And no one likes to be alone

Isn’t anyone trying to find me
Won’t someone come take me home


I’m with you

Why is everything so confusing
Maybe I’m just outta my mind
yeah yeah...


Back As We Were

Genre: Angst, Drama, Humor, and Action

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. The decision of who gets to be with who should better be left in the hands of the creator Kishimoto-sensei. The song "The Scientist" by Coldplay doesn't belong to me.

Author's Note: I had written this as a much darker story than my other Naruto fanfics, and a combination of them all. A songfic like When We Were Small (set to the depressing tone of The Scientist), the themes of Living and Harmonia, the inner narration of To Where It Takes Me and Inner Reflections, a hint of my favorite atonement theme, and more description. As a songfic, it's long and twice the size of Living and Harmonia. Whether or not this story will surpass my other ones, I do not know. Hopefully though.

There are spoilers from chapters 175, 181, and 183. I don't know what will happen at the end of Naruto, but upon writing this story, I have come to a rather perturbing premonition about the lives of Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto.

I will strongly stress that this is a SasukexSakuraxNaruto friendship, albeit a very close one—so you can say that it's SasuNaru (yes there really is some yaoi tendencies in there this time!), SasuSaku (not prominent this time), and NaruSaku (in support of the few NaruSaku stories). There are tidbits of HinataxNaruto and SakuraxLee.

Back As We Were

Author: Kenhime

A grown man stood waiting near the white bench, his mantle dancing with the wind and leaves of autumn. There was an aura about him, as if emptiness weighed on his broad shoulders, something that was once there and now lost. His eyes were of dark charcoal, weary and aged. But even then, his face was still as smooth and handsome like un-chipped marble, his dark bangs still softly accenting his features.

It was long since he had been to this certain place—a memory that was buried underneath the ashes and blood in his mind. It was here did everything start—and everything ended. The reason of him being here made no difference in time now, as time had died long ago within him. There was no beginning and no epilogue for this man of years, as his life held onto nothing now.

A small part of him desired to have that anchor back—even if it was the one that was heavy with consequences. If it erased all regret from his conscience, if it consumed him entirely with bleak feelings, it was better than having to see the spaces in his heart that were once filled empty. But the anchor was gone, and he drifted away into the endless sea, a sea that had no island for him to land on. All there was were rocks that he could only grasp for moments before it escaped from his desperate fist.

His fingers seized a floating leaf from the air and he studied it absently before it flew away in the sudden gust of wind. He looked up to find the leaves twirling around the woman he had waited for, her pink hair kissed by the breeze. She stood still at the sight of him, but her stony expression revealed nothing. There was only recognition in her gaze, but that was all—no love, no pain like he had hoped to see in it, even if it was faint.

Come up to meet you

"Sakura." He turned to face her directly.

The breeze settled. "Hello, Sasuke-kun."

He smiled slightly. She still had not gotten over the habit of attaching the honorific to his name, though he was no longer a boy. It reminded him of his younger days, and he felt his heart rise a little at the reminiscences, even when he had taken it for granted back then. Those days with Sakura and Naruto…

"Why are you here?"

Her question cut into him sharply. It was a simple question, really, and something he had expected, but it still hurt. It was like he no longer belonged here, like he had lost all connection with his past. Words he had thought up carefully for many nights were suddenly trapped in his throat and only a strangled noise similar to a grunt came out.

Tell you I'm sorry

She walked over to a tree and leaned on it. A long drawn-out sigh escaped from her lips, her eyes drawing to a close. Here was the man she had once loved so dearly, the extraordinarily strong and handsome twelve-year-old who captured the hearts of many ordinary girls, including her. But now he stood at the age of twenty-four, humbled and withdrawn, with everything lost save for his feeble hope. She was not sure whether to feel satisfaction for his demise or pain.

He watched her rest, and how the strands of her soft hair fell across her face, some brushing her pink lips. Her face had matured into a cultured beauty, like the sakura blossom that had reached its fullest bloom. She had grown intricately beautiful from the little girl she was twelve years ago. He envied how she looked so youthful, untouched by hatred, unlike how he was. She was everything he was not.

You don't know how lovely you are

He had expected her to fill this silence with her words, like she had done years ago, so that he did not have to speak. But she made no movement; instead her arms were folded against herself, as if she was waiting for him to speak. He supposed she had a right to not speak, and felt another painful jab from the thought. It was not she who was to ask for forgiveness.

"I had come here…to speak to you."

I had to find you

"It's been so long since I've last seen this place. I hate to admit it, but I miss it." He smiled sadly. "Even if I didn't belong here in this peaceful village…"

"You still don't, Sasuke-kun," she said harshly, her expression unmoving. "You will never be apart of Konoha again."

When did words become the knives that stabbed your heart? He did not know. It was a cruel awakening to find the person who had loved you with all her pure heart rejected you. He couldn't breathe. He was about to drown into the depths of that lonely sea. Despair flitted across his face and his hands were trembling, trying to hold on to that tiny rock of hope.

Tell you I need you

"I…I have so much to tell you…but I—I don't know what to say," his voice hoarse. He hung his head and a bitter chuckle left him. "I was never like you and Naruto. Hatred—and hatred only was the thing I had. Could you ever understand it?"

"No," she replied truthfully. "I had felt like hating, but I truly never did. I had tried to understand you, but I couldn't." She opened her eyes, revealing emerald depths, unbreakable and translucent like the gem.

"You did fool me though," he turned around to look at the bench. It was slowly eroding away, a testament to their connection. "In believing that I was a part of the team, I did everything to protect you. Maybe, I once thought, that I didn't have to avenge now…that I could forget for just a brief moment…"

"For one of the most intelligent people I had ever known, you are a fool," she remarked contemptuously. Each word she spat at him was a sting. But he stood his punishment—he deserved it and he knew it as well as her. "You were an avenger from the very beginning. Nonetheless, you were a friend. But…" Her voice grew stronger. "You betrayed us. You hurt us…you tried to kill Naruto."

He closed his eyes. "I needed to prove myself that I was strong. Enough to kill, enough to hate…Sakura…"

"And that is why I can't forgive you!" she burst out, her shoulders shaking.

And tell you I set you apart

He was startled, but said nothing.

With a sigh, Sakura calmed down, her face smoothing into a mask. There was no need to resurface these emotions. As a ninja, there was no need for emotions—a rule she had so distinctly remembered and broken many times. Now, at her maturity and level, it was something she followed incessantly.

"At that time, Sasuke, I could've killed you," she said coolly. "For everything that you had caused me, I could've rammed that knife into your heart. I was an avenger, too." She looked at the hands before her, scarred and calloused. "Day by day, I had bled, sweat, cried for myself—swearing that you will never underestimate me again, that I will never cry for you again. But when I stood over you, with that kunai in my hand, I realized there was no better punishment than keeping you alive, stripped of everything."

Tell me your secrets

"You had your revenge, now there is nothing left for you." She dropped her hands and straightened, turning to walk away. "I know why you are here, even when I had asked. But do not ask for my forgiveness. You were and still are our friend despite it all, but I will not forgive you."

"W—wait, Sakura…" He called out. She stopped, but she didn't face him. His voice sounded so meek, so desperate, that there was a tinge of pity for him in her. He slumped down on the bench, his raven bangs obscuring the turbulent emotion in his eyes. "I knew you would say that…but please…at least share with me."

Her voice was cold. "Share what?"

"Memories…of the three of us…something I can leave with. That's why." She pivoted around furiously, ready to scream at him. Why did he want to resurrect old grudges and bitter feelings, to make her feel that pain again?

But to see the pitiful man sit there with shoulders hunched softened her gaze. He wanted old and happy remembrances, of what used to be there. If that was all he desired, then she wouldn't be so cruel as to bereave him of it. Her steps quiet and graceful, she took a seat next to him on the bench.

He let out a breath in relief. His hand grasped the rock back again. He wasn't going to drown for awhile.

"Then where do you want me to start?" she asked softly.

And nurse me your questions

"How about…when you started to like me…" He had always wanted to know why she loved him. It was odd for him to be loved like so, when he had never reciprocated her love during the days of the academy. His lips curled slightly at the tiny flush on her cheeks.


Oh let's go back to the start

He liked how her eyes brightened in reminiscence of the old days. "It was more of trend, actually, before we graduated. All the girls liked your superiority, your looks, and the way you excelled at anything. Most of the attraction came from how cold you were, actually. Later, in order to rival Ino, I used this crush to break our friendship. I had wanted to become stronger, and it was only possible if we had a rivalry. And then…"

Running in circles, coming in tails

"We became a team: Naruto, you, and me. It was at this place…" She lifted her head to gesture at the ground, the trees, and the blue sky. "That you told me, 'Loneliness, a far different level than being yelled at your parents." And I said, 'What's wrong with you?'" She bowed her head, laughing at little at her younger self. "You said, 'You're annoying.' It was so ironic that I had said the same thing to Naruto earlier, like bad karma. But I realized the one thing you two had in common that I didn't have…was just that—loneliness."

Heads on a science apart

And so she continued on, delving deeper and deeper into their genin memories: the incident in Wave Country, the Chuunin Exam, Orochimaru, and the confrontation with Gaara. Her expression turned from happy to anger, to fear, and to sadness. Her descriptions were so vivid that he himself was pulled into that moment in the past, along with the feelings, the exhilaration, and pain he had felt in it. It was all coming back to him, rock by rock until it formed a pile. He said nothing at all when she narrated these events, afraid that if he interrupted, it would break the flow of recollections. However, her voice grew quieter and quieter as it neared to the end, as things became more serious than they had never imagined it to be.

Nobody said it was easy

"At this place again…I met you in the night and started to cry. I tried so hard to keep you here, even willing to go with you just so you would come back. …But you left. And I knew nothing could stop you…other than Naruto. For a person like me, who took everything for granted, friends and family, I could never reach you. Only a person who had to live with himself day by day, who had a dream to realize, could bring you back. Your friend and mine…Uzumaki Naruto."

It's such a shame for us to part

Her smile was bittersweet. "And he smiled at me…he said, 'Sakura-chan, you really like Sasuke, huh? I know how much pain you're in because of Sasuke. I can understand.' He promised me that he would bring you back, no matter what. I…I loved him so much. He risked my life to save me, and now he promised to bring back the person I loved, even when he loved me."

It was for Naruto that a tear slid down her cheek finally. But she kept on smiling that pretty and simple smile.

"Behind that grin was a boy who had grown up, faster than any other. He had always helped me, always by my side. How I did not realize it until then…" She chuckled softly. "For him, the person who was my strength, I wanted to become stronger. I was weak back then, but it was Naruto who made who I am today. And Lee…who swore to protect me and never backed away from his words… I didn't know why I loved you, Sasuke-kun. But I knew why I loved Naruto and Lee. They always had a smile for me."

"You came back, but only for awhile. After all Naruto went through to get you back, you simply left the village—this time, with the dead bodies of people I knew. I remembered seeing you with that rage in your eyes when he tried to stop you…that chakra in your hands you were about to use to kill him… Even when he managed to escape death that time, I was so scared of losing him. I hated this helplessness. And I hated how you would go so far as to kill the people you had cherished. I no longer saw Sasuke-kun…it was his brother, Itachi, who was killing his family." Her hands became fists. "I didn't want that to happen again. I didn't want to lose anymore people that I cherished. I needed to become strong, strong enough to protect them."

Nobody said it was easy

"When Naruto defeated you, he was so exhausted that he fell to unconsciousness. But I still had strength to finish you off. Naruto would not have wanted to kill you, but I did." She spoke vehemently. "You who had abandoned us and our village, who killed those I knew—even if it was because of Orochimaru. I wouldn't have hesitated." Her hands relaxed. "But you looked up at me and said my name. And I dropped the kunai."

When she glanced at him, she was startled at the way his body trembled with emotion.

No one ever said it would be this hard

He asked, coarsely, "Why didn't you let me die?"

It was better to die, than to try to gather those tiny rocks—those pieces of his former life. It was utter humiliation for the shinobi who had so much talent, wasting away like this, no longer part of the ninja life. It made him a beggar for a soul.

"You had already lost everything," she answered calmly. "You killed your brother; you had no other reason to live. To settle old matters, you wanted to die by Naruto's hand, or, if it came down to it, my hand." She stood up and rested her hand on his head. He didn't push it away. "Nothing is as easy as that, Sasuke-kun. You will have to live with the rest of your life. It was more honorable to die, but this is your punishment."

She started to leave, but paused to say, "Even if it is hard, keep on living, Sasuke-kun. Because there is something beyond revenge, something good. I hope you will find it, even if you are late."

Oh take me back to the start

"Then…" he whispered brokenly. "Will you help me?"

"Help you?"

The rocks were about to slip away from his hands once more. He was going to drift away…

"Twelve years had passed, Sasuke-kun. Did you realize it?" she gazed off into the distance. The morning had passed, and it was now late afternoon. "Moments, seconds, hours…the day…the night…Had you noticed?"

"No…I don't know anything anymore. I can't even remember, Sakura."

I was just guessing at numbers and figures

"I pity you," she intoned. "You could never find the answer, just like Orochimaru until his death. All you had ever desired was power."


He was drowning, his body feeling light and heavy all at once. His hands were reaching out, stretching towards her…

"I can't look at Naruto in the face, not in the way that I am now. He was my rival, but he's so ahead of me that I can't catch up. You're the only one who can help me now…"

She didn't look at him. Was she a friend to let him sink into those waters? The terrifying waters were closing in on him, his air cut short. There was nothing in the waters, just a vast emptiness that threatened to consume the pieces of a soul he had managed to gather.

Pulling the puzzles apart

"I need to know… Dying while living…I can't take it… Why won't you help me?" He broke down, in the quiet way that was much like his introverted character. He could hold in these fears no longer. Tears streamed down his face as he held himself tightly, silent sobs convulsing his drained body. "Sakura…my friend…"

And he heard no word from her. He gave up.

Until he found her holding him.

Her arms encircled his head tightly as she held him to her chest, her chin on top of his hair. In her wordless comfort, he continued to cry, letting go of all the pain he had bottled in himself for so long. He had found an anchor in this maternal presence. He was so close to losing himself, it scared him. When he stopped sobbing, which was not for very long, she let go and brushed the hair from his eyes, smiling faintly.

"You haven't forgotten everything, Sasuke-kun, at least not how to cry." He laughed at the small joke, feeling like he could float. He could still live. She touched his cheek with her hand, her thumb gently rubbing over his flawless features.

"You know," she said, "Itachi died a man who lost everything. He wouldn't let his little brother follow him in the same way."

"How would you know?" It wasn't a wounding question, and she understood what he meant.

"Because the eyes of a man cannot hide his feelings, even one who is a Sharingan master." She stepped back and held out a hand to him. "Can you stand now?"

He stared at her hand and then up at her, hesitant. "But…will you help me?" She gave him a pondering expression. The tension grew between them as moments passed with no answer.

Questions of science

And then she punched him.

She grinned in satisfaction as he rubbed his check gingerly. He looked at her with shocked hurt in his eyes, but she giggled.

"Oh, don't take it badly, Sasuke-kun. It is surprising that I punched you instead of Naruto, but I've got to say, both of you can be horribly dense. Did you really think that I wouldn't help you after I comforted you?"

"You could've fooled me," he muttered.

"Ah, you haven't lost any of your wry humor," she replied cheerfully. "That's a start."

"Jeez…that hurt. Is this what Naruto experienced all the time?"

"You better believe it." She offered her hand to him again and this time, he took it. When she pulled him up, she noted how tall he was, and blushed slightly. She skipped past him to watch the sun drop behind the buildings. "For your information, Ino has gotten married. Shikamaru is the squad leader of the ANBU. Hinata has become successor to the Hyuga clan. Lee is a sensei and both of his teammates are part of the ANBU. The genin in our year have all become jounin, except you."

"And Naruto?"

Science and progress

A huge grin crossed her face. "Didn't you know? Naruto is the Hokage."

"I wouldn't believe it," he answered, shaking his head incredulously. "The Council must've been insane to let that dead last become Hokage."

"But you know, he went against odds to become the strongest shinobi in Konoha." Grudgingly, he had to nod in agreement. It was much like Naruto to never give up his dream, even when he was close to death.

"And what about you, Sakura?"

She clasped her hands behind her back. "Oh, I've become a sensei." She laughed. "Kakashi-sensei was a great inspiration to me, I suppose."

He smirked. "I hope you don't read a perverted comic book, do you?"

"No, of course not!" she exclaimed angrily, turning deeply red. "I didn't mean it that way!"

He looked down. "So many things changed. Can I really come back if I didn't belong? If I'm not…" He swallowed. "Forgiven?"

Do not speak as loud as my heart

Her expression softened. "It is not I who should forgive you. When I said I will not forgive you, it is because you will not forgive yourself. Only when you had felt the worst, experienced the pain and suffering you had brought on others could you truly understand the meaning of friendship. There's still a long way to go before you can really be part of this village. You once knew, and had forgotten in the desire for power with Orochimaru. Now you have to gain that back."

He gave her a puzzled glance. "When did you become so wise, Sakura? When I had last seen you, you were annoying."

She shot back a look of mock indignation. "What are you talking about!? I was the smartest girl in our graduating class, you dare insult me?" She was amused. "From all those times you've called me annoying, you would think I would at least mature a little."

"Everyone's changed, huh?" he commented. Her laugh was as light as the cool night air.

"But we're still the same, Sasuke-kun—always," she said, smiling. "We will never change. The day I'll see Naruto not smile will be the day when the world has come to an end."

"Then…do you…still love me?"

And tell me you love me

She was quiet. "I love you as much as friend would," she responded finally. "Whether I still have those feelings for you or not, I don't know."

His throat grew heavy. "Then how about Naruto?"

There was the sweet smile on her face. "I love him for all he had done for me. But I let him go, because another girl deserved him better than me. Like Lee…"

There was a tinge of guilt in him. "Because of me, you let Naruto go, isn't it?"


He continued. "He went through a lot because you loved me, so when you fell for him, you had regret. You felt you didn't deserve to be with him after everything, so you let him go."

Come back and haunt me

"He loved me, Sasuke-kun, as deeply as a man could. But he has found his heart in someone else's. His love for me is only of the past. And because of this, our friendship has grown closer. It was not your fault." She glanced at him, her eyes twinkling mischievously. "Since when did you worry about others?"

He averted his eyes and said nothing. Sighing, she walked to him and took his face with her hands, bringing his eyes down to her level. He could feel her warm breath on his face.

"You're afraid of your mistakes. It's a long road to walk on, but in order to atone for it you must live out your life, even if you will never receive the retribution."

"I am, Sakura," he murmured. "I'm scared of facing everything, but I know I can't run away anymore…before I lose my own soul."

"But you are not alone," she replied gently. "Not then, not even now. We'll hold you, no matter what, because…that's who we are—friends. We're not old crushes or rivals or former teammates, but people who will stand always beside you."

Oh and I rush to the start

With a smile lightening up her face, she let him go of his cheeks and grabbed his hand instead. He stumbled after her as she ran, his mantle flaring out behind him.

Eyes wide, he asked, "Where are you taking me, Sakura?"

She looked back, giggling. "Where do you think? Naruto's place, of course!"

"Naruto's!? But—I can't—"

At first she coldly ripped his heart to shreds, and now she was pulling his hand along, her bubbly laughter filling his ears. He couldn't understand this young woman. Like there were many things he couldn't understand, things he had to learn.

"You're an idiot, you know that? Naruto loves you. Like he would rub that old rivalry in your face!"

She was right. He hung his head and smiled resignedly. He wanted to see his stupid friend again too.

Running in circles, chasing tails

They came to the watchtower that overlooked the Hokage Monument. He snorted when he saw the faint features of his friend's face on the mountain, following the previous five Hokages. The idiot had always proclaimed to be the next Hokage, but it was odd to picture him in the position. Nonetheless, he was glad Naruto had fulfilled his dream.

She ran on through the tower and with his hand still clutched in hers, they both sprinted up through the flights of stairs to the top. At the dimly lighted platform, he saw a lone figure in the distance, crouched on the edge of the platform with his robes moving along with the wind. He seemed to emit an aura of authority and strength. The enormous chakra that surrounded the Hokage hit Sasuke full force and his mouth slightly gaped open at the power.

"Naruto!" she called out. The figure stepped down from the edge and turned around. It seemed that Naruto had a miraculous growth spurt. He had a lanky stature and broad shoulders, his height rivaling Sasuke's. His face was mellower and now attractive. But his eyes were still the same—they had not lost the liveliness he had since his younger days.

"Sakura-chan!" he smiled, but his eyes swerved to the person beside her. He furrowed his eyebrows at the familiar-looking man, as if trying hard to remember, before he gave up. "Hey, Sakura-chan, who's he?" he demanded finally.

There was a pause. And two face-faults.

Sakura bonked him on the head with flaming eyes. "You don't remember your best friend, idiot!?" Finally, a look of revelation crossed Naruto's face before his eyes bulged out of his sockets.


Another prolonged pause. Then the sound of two people hitting the floor on their heads.

This time, it was Sasuke who bonked him on the head. "YOU TOTAL MORON!"

"OW! Long time no see, Neji! Nice contacts!"

"NO!" the two screamed in frustration.


Sasuke glanced at Sakura with twitching eyes. "Have I been gone for so long?"

"No…maybe all that work has gone up to his head…" She laughed nervously.

"Sakura-chan!" Naruto was puzzled. "Who is he?"

Sakura: "…"

Sasuke: "…"

After the long bout of silence, Sasuke made a derisive snort. Even after twelve years, Naruto still haven't changed one bit. Oddly enough, the dark man felt comforted with the fact—that at least he still knew someone. If he still knew Naruto, then there was only one way for the idiot to remember who he was. Sasuke lifted his head and locked gazes with the blond-haired ninja with a smirk. Sakura was taken back by the sudden change in the obsidian eyes. It was…almost identical the expression he had in the days when they were Team Seven.

Coming back as we are

"Hey, Naruto, fight me." Sakura made a sharp intake of breath. The Hokage's face was scrunched up in confusion.

"Huh? What are you babbling about?"

Sasuke's eyes turned a blood red, the three dots symbolizing the three jutsus revolving around and around. He shot a glare to spur on the other ninja, his mouth curled in a snarl.

"Shut up and fight me!" Incensed by the fighting aura, Naruto grinned fiercely.

"All right, if you really want to fight the Hokage."

Sakura took a shaky step back, her eyes moving from Sasuke to Naruto, the two men she cared most for, about to fight each other.

Nobody said it was easy

But she sensed no malevolent feeling in the dark-haired shinobi, no imposing and frightening presence similar to Orochimaru's. It was then that it clicked in her mind of what Sasuke was intending to do. She closed her eyes and moved back more to allow the space needed for the fight. No, she wouldn't persuade them to stop this time.

Sasuke clicked his tongue scornfully as they distanced themselves. "You're so full of yourself, Naruto. You wouldn't want to look bad if I kicked your ass, now would you?"

Sakura couldn't help but smile. It was as if meeting Naruto had brought him back the person he once was. Naruto always had this strange power to change people.

"Hah, let's see if you can keep that little smirk on your face when I have you beaten into a bloody pulp," the blond Hokage snickered as he cracked his knuckles.

"Okay, I'll referee," Sakura offered. She watched them silently for a moment, their cloaks swaying to the night breezes, one light and the other dark colored. Then she slowly lifted her hand above her and brought it down swiftly.


They charged at each other, growling. Sasuke made the first move by doing an under sweep. Naruto leapt up to do a high kick, but Sasuke blocked his leg with an arm, and used the other arm to make a counterattack. They exchanged blow after blow in taijutsu, their attacks evenly matched and evaded. After that the former number one rookie slid to the floor, and with a hand supporting his weight, sent a high side kick. Naruto blocked the kick from connecting with his chin, but the force of blow sent him high into the air. An old taijutsu trick, but nevertheless an effective one. Pushing chakra to his feet expertly, Sasuke thrust himself into the air behind the other, performing the Leaf Shadow Dance.

Naruto grinned. "Tch. Try doing it."

"Here it comes!" Sasuke twisted his body to the side as he pushed Naruto with a hand. He started the first kick of the sequence, but as he had expected, Naruto parried it with his arm. Sasuke then swung his other leg around for the second kick, which was a harder blow because of the gravity, but surprisingly, the dead last blocked with two forearms. When Sasuke brought his arm down on the other's chest, Naruto caught his arm with two hands. With a loud grunt, Naruto swung all of Sasuke's body down by the arm, breaking the Lion Combo.

"I know how you fight!" Naruto shouted. "Don't think I didn't learn from it!"

But when the body hit the floor, it popped into a poof of smoke. Naruto landed agilely on his feet, the ends of his robe flying out behind. He straightened up, an eyebrow raised at the smirking opponent who stood feet away.

"I know, too. Kage Bunshin has its uses," Sasuke replied. He performed three quick seals and brought his chakra-forming right hand in front of him, his left holding firmly to his right wrist. "Enough playing. Let's end this fight now."

"Yeah," replied Naruto as chakra swirled into a ball at his palm. He had grown strong enough without the extra two hands of a clone.

Sakura looked on, slightly shaking her head, a faint smile playing on her lips. It was a beautiful battle, their movement graceful and fluid as they fought. It was a genin-like fight for these two talented ninjas, who could've used more powerful techniques. But it was for the sake of old times. This was no fight to determine power; it was to determine friendship. She stepped forward, feeling the two powerful forces of chakra at each opposite end. Her hair was caught by the winds and fanned about her face, but she made no movement to brush away the strands.

A boy desired strength to become Hokage, the other desired power to kill his brother.

One hot-tempered, impulsive blond-haired ninja who was not afraid to stick out, and the other one a calm, calculative raven-haired ninja who stuck out unintentionally.

Like the sun and the moon, the yin and yang.

Between them was the girl who loved them. The sky that held the sun and moon, the line that separated yin and yang.

Battles cries filled the air as the Thousand Birds and Wind Spiral came colliding, both men ready to make it all or nothing in this fight's conclusion.

Oh it's such a shame for us to part

And in between these two powers was Sakura. With a smirk of her own, she caught their wrists just in time, their attacks just inches away from each side of her face. They were frozen in motion before finally Sakura brought their hands down.

"You two," she said softly as she let go of their hands. "Stand down."

The two men straightened from their stances. Naruto slowed the speed of chakra in his hand until he finally curled his fingers around it, dissolving it into the air. Sasuke slowly let his lightning chakra ebb back to its normal state. They glared at each other so intensely that Sakura could feel the lightning cackling between their eyes.

Nobody said it was easy

Then they both broke into smiles. Followed by small chuckles. Finally, they were laughing so hard that they had to bend over to hold their stomachs. Sakura looked at them with bewilderment, before she let out a giggle and smiled, two spots of reds tinting her cheeks.

"Hah," Naruto panted as the laughter settled. "I thought I would…never see you again…Uchiha Sasuke."

Sasuke was shaking his head. "Pft. You're turning senile, forgetting me like that…Uzumaki Naruto."

"Hey, twenty-four isn't old at all! Besides, I thought you would be the one who would forget!"

He looked away, his expression back to that of sadness. "You really think so?"

Naruto was surprised at the sudden transition, but he cocked his head and replied good-naturedly, "Nah, I woulda kicked your ass real good if you'd forgotten about us." He hugged his friend and patted him on the shoulder. "Hey, it's good to see you back, Sasuke."

A grateful smile crossed Sasuke's lips. "Thanks."

Naruto straightened his robes and beamed. "Well, why don't we go get some ramen and talk?"

"Huh? How about Hinata?" Sakura asked as they began to walk away.

"She had some late family business to do, so she told me she would meet me there at the Ichiraku around this time." He looked at the stairs leading down wearily. "Do we have to take the stairs?"

The three of them changed direction and instead stepped up on the ledge of the platform, looking at the village before them. The lights on the streets illuminated the night above, as if the spirit of the village was glowing in the darkness. The feeling of nostalgia didn't hit Sasuke until now as he looked over Konoha, the place of his birth and home. There were many times he had left Konoha without doubt nor hesitation, chasing after power for the revenge of his clan's downfall, but when there was no other place to turn to after, and he had been left to only live, it now seemed a sanctuary to him.

No one ever said it would be so hard

…Naruto…and Sakura…he swore to the night that he would never shatter the friendship he had with them. They were the ones who were keeping him alive now. They weren't there when his family was killed, or when his brother cast that unspeakable illusion on him with his eyes. But they were there to see through and carry his pain…and they would still do that. With them by his side, he could see the tomorrow that awaited him, the future that was still yet to be decided. This time he had found no anchor—it was an island, a place where his soul can finally rest in.

"How about a race to the Ichiraku?" Sakura suggested. "I'm sure you guys aren't that tired to do that. Are you up to it?"

"I can do that!" Naruto grinned.


"And I won't lose to you, Sasuke!"

The pink-haired kunoichi bent forward on the ledge, sweetly asking, "Are you sure you won't lose to me, though?"

With high-skilled chakra control, the jounin instructor leaped into the air and landed gracefully down below the seven-floor tower before taking off. The two men smirked at each other before they too jumped off. As much as they loved Sakura, they weren't going to lose to a woman in a race.



I'm going back to the start

For clarification on the fight, after the Lion Combo was broken, Sasuke did a Kage Bunshin and used the Kawarimi to replace himself with the shadow clone. Sasuke's taijutsu style is interesting in that he utilizes all four limbs to land an attack, disregarding certain rules and stances of taijutsu. That is proven in the scuffle with Kakashi in chapter 7 (ground attack) and the Lion Combo (aerial attack).

If you're wondering why Naruto came later, you must understand that men and women deal with certain issues differently from each other. Naruto cannot give the sort of harshness and womanly comfort that Sakura gives to Sasuke, as Sakura cannot give Sasuke the type of male bonding and manly acceptance Naruto has with him. In order for Sasuke to reinstate his friendship properly with Naruto, he needed to come to issues with himself that only Sakura could help with. Imagine if he had come to Naruto first. Naruto would have been happy to see his friend and ready to accept him back in Konoha, but was Sasuke ready, when he had not yet faced the consequences of betraying his friends and home? My point is, this has nothing to do with romance and pairings. Oh, and the irony at the end between the lyrics and story was intentional.

I hope you enjoyed reading this latest story, though it might not have the sweetness of Harmonia. Consider this as the end of the summer story. Please leave a review if you liked it.