Naruto gasped, a heavy whimper leaving his lips as his eyes looked at the familiar memorial in front of him.
Located amidst the deep forest that surrounded the Naka Shrine, the memorial was a huge slab of stone, dedicated to none other than his best friend, Uchiha Sasuke. A friend who got so lost in the darkness that even he couldn't pull him out from the valley of sadness and evil.
"Sasuke…" Naruto whispered as he relaxed beside the infamous memorial of his friend. It was one of the few places that the people of Konoha loathed to no end, because to them, Uchiha Sasuke was someone who attempted to eradicate the peace and their beloved hero. Uchiha or not, Sasuke was someone who's hated by almost everyone in his village and that's what hurt Naruto the most.
"Why did you do what you did?" Raising his hand a little, he cleaned the dust from the surface of the monument because the grains of dust looked like the stains that the people of his village have scattered over his friend's reputation.
"Because he tried to achieve something that was ludicrous and unfit."
Every muscle in his body tensed as soon as he heard a familiar voice from his behind. It was her, he was sure of it.
Her soft voice entered his ears again, making him groan in annoyance and anxiety at the same time. He didn't want to face her, at least not in front of Sasuke's grave.
"Are you still mad at me?"
To answer her disheartening query, he could have turned around and looked her in the eyes but he didn't, and instead went with a negative shake of his head.
"Then why are you not turning around?"
His heartbeat fastened as he heard the sound of her footsteps getting closer. Anger and irritation began to bubble inside him at the mere thought of seeing her beautiful face again. "Haa," He inhaled loudly when she unexpectedly crouched beside him, trying to take a good look at him.
"Are you ok? You look a little troubled."
His eyes grew wide when she placed a hand on his forehead. "Sakura!" He finally snapped at her, but his improbable irritation soon got replaced by a look of surprise when his gaze settled on her beautiful face. "Huh?" Was the only thing that came out of his mouth as his mind was too busy appreciating the art that was her face.
Maybe it was the reminisces of his old self or maybe it was the hormones, but whatever it was, her face came across as more stunning than it had ever been in the past.
She had filled out in all the right areas, and it was only during these past few minutes, did Naruto truly notice the changes in her. Before she didn't have any chest, her hair barely reached the nape of her neck, and her ass wasn't that round. Now, her chest was no longer flat, and instead boasted a pair of respectable D-Size boobs. Her hair was grown out, just touching the lower part of the back and her ass was now far more thick and plump.
All in all, Naruto would say that this Sakura was far prettier than the one he chased after during his younger years. Despite this, he still couldn't squash down the spark of anger that he felt upon seeing the pink hair of the person he once loved.
Sakura, who noticed his eyes on herself, smiled at the boy, waving her other hand at him. "Hello Naruto," Her smile wavered for a second when the boy didn't answer, but she quickly composed herself. "How are you?" She tried again but the result was the same.
Suffocating silence shrouded the atmosphere as the boy and the girl kept looking at each other, neither daring to break eye contact.
Finally, after staring at her for a minute, Naruto broke the silence with his words. "I'm fine. What about you, Sakura?" He grumbled, his tone of voice exhibiting sheer lack of interest, a thing which didn't go unnoticed by the girl who immediately looked down in shame.
"I'm fine too. Just finished learning a few more things from Tsunade," She whispered meekly.
Tears welled up in her beautiful eyes when he regarded her with those sharp eyes again but she managed to stop them before they could fall. "We-" She stopped when she noticed him standing up.
"Well, I need to visit baa-chan" He murmured and was about to stand up but a hand on his wrist stopped him from doing so.
Sakura's hopeless voice broke something inside him. "What?" He asked, daring not to look at her beautiful face again because if he did, he was sure he would end up doing something stupid, something that would get them both in trouble.
"Why are you behaving like this? Am I not your friend anymore, Naruto?"
He clenched his jaw in frustration and helplessness. He wanted to leave but a part of him wasn't conceding with him at that moment. It wanted to stay here, listen to her, and talk rubbish just like the old times. "No, you are still one of my best friends, Sakura," He lied.
Sakura tightened her hold on his wrist, nudging him a little closer to her. "Liar," She whispered as she gently caressed his cheeks, her wet green eyes only intensifying the sadness on her face. "I know you hate me," A hollow chuckle echoed throughout the silent clearing as she finally withdrew her hand from his flushed and confused face.
Naruto was in a dilemma. He didn't know what was happening because he had never seen Sakura act like that, at least not in front of him. Usually, she would be full of life, but today she looked like a different Sakura. "I don't hate you Sakura. I never did and I never will. You are the one who started all of this by breaking all ties between us. You left me alone when I needed you the most," He snarled but immediately came to regret his actions when the girl recoiled back in surprise and shock. "Umm-"
"I-I know Naruto. This is all my mistake. I'm the one who ruined everything," Precious pearls of liquid fell from her cheeks, staining the dry and green ground of the forest. "But now I want to start over again. I want to become your friend again, not a best friend, but a good friend," Every word she spoke was uttered with such conviction that for a second they surprised Naruto.
"S-Sakura." The wall was breaking, little by little.
Sakura shook her head, tears flying here and there as she tried her best to stop that dreaded sob from escaping her lips.
Unfortunately, she failed in the end.
"Don't show me any kind of pity, Naruto. I don't deserve it. I'm a very bad person and all I deserve is pain and suffering. So hurt me, hurt me as much as you want to, but please don't hate me. I don't want to be ignored by you anymore. If you want to call me names, do it, I won't mind but please don't look away from me when I am near you. It hurts Naruto, it hurts," Her voice finally gave up as she began to cry in front of her friend.
"S-Saku-" Naruto went silent, pain shattering his heart as his eyes stared at the torn face of his friend. He didn't like it, no matter how much he hated her, he still didn't like it. Tears never looked good on her face, never. They weren't meant to be there. The only thing meant to be there was a smile, a dazzling beautiful smile. 'Noo...' He grimaced when he took notice of her moist green eyes. They were full of tears now, something that was annoying him to no end.
"Sakura," He whispered, leaning a little closer to her. "Don't cry like a baby." Mustering up the courage, he gently brushed her cheeks with the hem of his sleeves. "You don't look good with tears on your face."
Now that he was closer, he noticed some things he previously missed earlier. There were distinct bags under her eyes with dark shadows that were still visible, despite the thick layer of makeup covering her face. The makeup also didn't completely hide the wrinkles that trailed all over her face, but it did do a rather good job of concealing them to the average passerby.
He also noticed that her hair, despite being longer, was no longer as vibrant as it once was. In fact, he could see some dry strands showing and also see that some parts of her hair were frazzled. Feeling rather concerned, despite everything that happened between them, he took out a handkerchief and gently started wiping away the tears on her face, being extra careful to not ruin the makeup.
He couldn't stop a smile from forming on her face when the girl blinked at him, her eyes showing signs of hope and happiness all of a sudden.
"Sshh… let me clean your face first. If Ino sees us like this, she will start thinking absurd things." He joked in hopes that it would uplift her mood a little but sadly, it seemed to end up doing the opposite, if Sakura's frown was anything to go by.
Indeed, Sakura was not at all happy about what she heard, and her mood withered like a dying flower. 'Ino' Sakura sulked. How could she forget about her best friend? 'She is basically living with him in his house.' The already awful mood deteriorated even further as she finally realized how important her friend must be to Naruto now. Otherwise, he was not the type of guy who would even think about someone's opinion. "Ino?" Still, she decided to confirm it herself.
"Umm…" Naruto trailed off, breaking eye contact and unwilling to answer.
The way Naruto turned his head away from her was enough to fetch the answers and the blush that followed his turn only cemented her assumptions. "So… you two are dating?" Her heart stopped for a second when he gently nodded his head, confirming her guiltiest notions.
"Ohh," She whispered, her eyes lowering back to the ground in order to search for something interesting but found nothing. 'Why am I feeling sad?' She asked herself, genuinely curious about this strange behavior. There was no reason for her to be sad about that revelation. Instead, she should be happy for her friend because finally after so many struggles, he found someone to spend the rest of his life with. 'Still, I'm sad,' And yet here she was, fuming with jealousy and sadness at the mere notion of them being together. 'Maybe it's because Ino was able to see something I was never able to see in Naruto. A lovely kind boy who just needed love from someone'.
"-kura! Sakura!" Naruto's warm voice finally snapped her out of her heavily depressing thoughts. "Are you um- Are you alright? You were spacing out there." Hearing the concern in his voice, directed towards her felt good, it made her feel wanted again by the person who had always looked out for her. The concern in his eyes was genuine, which caused her to lighten up a bit in hopes that they might be able to mend their relationship again.
"Naruto, I-" Before she could continue, she was interrupted by the sound of someone landing near them.
"Hokage-sama is requesting your presence, Naruto."
'Damn it Kakashi-sensei, why do you always have such bad timing?' Her frustration must have shown on her face because Kakashi backed up a bit while looking at her wearily.
"Why are you following me?" Naruto peeked to his side, a strange emotion lingering on his face as he stared at the girl who has been following him for a while now.
"I want to meet Tsunade too," Sakura answered with a smile on her face.
Naruto's deep blue eyes turned towards her. "For what?" He leaned a little closer to her, completely missing the blush that bloomed on her face at that moment.
"To examine her. Recently, she has been suffering from strong hormonal disruptions."
Now that made him blush as an indecent image of Tsunade moaning loudly on her chair popped up in his mind, her boobs surprisingly naked in the image. "O-oh" He tangled his legs in order to hide the rising blade of his manhood. The awkwardness between them was already sky high and he didn't want to increase it anymore.
Unfortunately for him, Sakura saw the distress as well as the tinge of blush on his face. "Are you having a fever, Naruto?" She asked, genuine concern apparent in her voice.
The frown on her face deepened along with the concern that had begun to bubble up inside her heart. "Your whole face is red, Naruto and you are breathing heavily. Both are symptoms of a fever." Her words prompted him to look away from her in embarrassment, something that didn't go unnoticed by her. From the moment she had met him, he had been looking away from her a lot. So much that it was becoming a source of concern for her now but she chose not to make any comments about it in fear of annoying him further. "Let me check, at least as a medic." She urged.
Naruto immediately forgot about everything as soon as he heard her words. 'As a medic.' He thought, as a tinge of grief rose within his heart. "I'm totally healthy, Sakura," His whisper only worsened her mood and he knew that. "Ino is very serious about my health, you know." He added immediately, rubbing his head sheepishly at the thought of his lover.
In response to that, Sakura just lowered her hand. "I see," She murmured. "I'm glad you have Ino-" She was cut short by the loud and obnoxious shouts that surrounded them instantly, without any warning.
"Oh my God! He is standing in front of me. The Hero of the war!"
"Can I get a kiss, Naruto-san?"
"I want a baby!"
Sakura cringed at the last request, barely restraining her hands from punching the life out of the black-haired girl who dared to demand a baby from her friend. "Now now, you shouldn't ask for something as ridiculous as that, dear." She whispered and growled lightly when she noticed that her fake smile and madly twitching eye were having no effect on the girl.
"Stay away from him you pink haired bitch. If you want his baby too then you can have it after I'm done with him."
Naruto, who was talking to his other fangirls, choked on his saliva as soon as the girl uttered those absurd words. Quickly, he turned to Sakura in order to restrain her but was utterly surprised when he saw her standing there silently, a little too silently if you asked him. "S-sakura" He called her and his fear turned into a reality when instead of answering him, she just began to laugh at the girl.
"Fangirls… I pity you all."
A sweatdrop formed on the back of his head as he listened to her words, full of irony and unawareness.
"Naruto-kun!" Another shrill shout made him turn his head back to his fangirls and soon, he found himself busy with signing autographs and giving small kisses.
Sakura, who was obviously watching the whole thing, couldn't help but feel very sad as her eyes witnessed the interaction between Naruto and his fangirls. He seemed so much happier with them compared to how he was acting in front of her. Even his smile seemed genuine at that moment.
'He really doesn't think of me as a friend anymore.' Excruciating reality settled down her heart. It was hard to digest but she knew it was the truth and she couldn't change it, at least for now.
"Here let me sign your watch instead, Suki-chan."
Something inside her broke into pieces when Naruto called a girl with the suffix 'Chan'.
"Chan..." She whispered to herself, savoring the word as if it was the most valuable thing in the world for her. "Chan..." He used to address her with that.
For a moment, she swore she saw a younger Naruto standing in front of her. He was calling out her name and unlike the present Naruto's, his voice was full of love and affection. For a few seconds he stayed there, smiling and fidgeting at her, before vanishing with a gust
For the first time after a long time, she felt hollow as her eyes continued to punish her by looking at the source of her depression. Those girls, those girls were so close to him, even more than she had ever been. They were touching him, hugging him, and even kissing him, but what surprised her the most was Naruto's face. He was happy with them. There was no sign of distress on his face now. The uneasiness that he carried in his voice while talking to her was gone too. 'He is really comfortable around them.' She thought, her delicate mind withering by each passing second.
She yearned for his touch again but unfortunately, he longer cared about her wishes. Now he was more concerned about his fangirls and she couldn't even blame him for that. It was her mistake after all. She was the one who left him alone and vulnerable to the charms of these fangirls. If not for her stupidity, he would have always been hers, hers alone.
"Naruto-sama, let me kiss you on the cheek, please!"
Her mind was going numb, she could feel it. The scene in front of her was becoming too much to handle. It was torture, a living reminder of how she left the only person who loved and cared for her alone.
"Haaa…" She gasped as a sharp pain erupted inside her brain. It was painful but less than what she was witnessing just now. "Nar-" She tried to call him when another painful wave swelled inside her mind but stopped at the last moment as she realized that she couldn't tell him about this. It was her punishment and she had to endure it all by herself.
"Goodbye," Naruto finally waved goodbye to his fangirls and sighed in satisfaction. "Phew, they never forget to embarrass me in front of everyone…" He giggled at his own stupid joke and turned around to enter the fabled Hokage tower. "Let's go and see baa-chan, Sakura." He murmured.
"Sakura..." He blinked when he received no answer from the girl again. Looking around, he tried to discern the reason for her abrupt silence but whatever he was hoping for, her sweat-covered face was not included in the speculations.
"Sakura!" He yelled at her in concern. "You are sweating a lot." The concern in his voice might have made her happy earlier but right now she was in too much pain to notice it.
Darkness finally claimed her vision as she went unconscious.
A.N: I hope you guys liked the chapter.
I'm sorry for the late update but I was busy with my uni exams.
Don't forget to leave a review.