First of all, I´m really sorry about not updating this story sooner, the thing is I was either worried with college shit or the other story, Broken Dreams. Anyway, sorry about it, please don't hate me!
7. There's still Hope
Sakura was nervous, no scratch that, she was hysterical. Today was the day she would talk to Naruto. It had been a week since Sasuke told her about his talk with Naruto and she was honestly hoping he would forgive her as well. That, however, was clearly not happening, which she understood very well. Ever since Naruto left she started dreaming about the old times of Team 7, back when they were in the Academy and before that. The nightmares plagued her like there was no tomorrow. She had to watch everyone in the Academy (herself included, to her greater guilt and shame) ignore, berate and sometimes even hit Naruto. The blonde never seemed to mind, always greeting everyone with that big goofy smile of his and asking her on dates.
Up until now was when Sakura saw just how false and rehearsed Naruto´s smile was. How long had he practiced that smile? How long had he worn that mask? His blue orbs, often filled with energy and happiness were really filled with sadness and loneliness. Nobody noticed, no, no one ever bothered to even try to see beyond that façade of his. Every time she thought of the horrible way she treated the poor demon host she shivered. She had absolutely no idea of the pain she caused him; of just how badly she was treating him. All Naruto wanted was for her to be happy, and she not only rejected him, but threw his attempts at making her smile at his face. Sasuke at least had the decency to just say "no" and leave. Sakura had taken every opportunity to make Naruto feel bad. And now she was the one who would be crawling onto him begging for forgiveness and another chance. Ahhh, the irony.
It´s not like I deserve to even look at him, but I just can't live like this. This guilt is killing me…´ thought the kunoichi depressingly.
Said blonde was currently lying under a tree, gazing at the clouds in a very Shikamaru-like way. The last weeks had been heaven to him. For no apparent reason Tsunade had promoted him to Jounin, and he had been taking a lot of A-B ranked missions. On top of that, he had finally earned the respect of the villagers, which meant no more glares and snide comments, no beatings and grafittis inside his house. Life was great, except for a small detail. As much as he wanted to leave his anger behind, he just couldn't forgive his pink haired ex teammate, which annoyed the hell out of him. He wasn't a resentful person. But every time he thought of her that pain came back. He remembered every single one of her actions, every comment, every smack on the head, every slap, every hit.
Fuck, I´m acting like teme´ a shiver ran down his spine at that thought. I gotta spot thinking stuff like that, thinking is too troublesome´
"Hmm, you sound just like that pineapple ape, you know brat…" muttered Kyuubi inside his mind.
And who the hell asked for your opinion, you damm furball?!´ screamed Naruto at the great demon, who apparently just shrugged and went back to sleep.
"Just stop it with those stupid emotions of yours, they are extremely annoying" replied the fox before going back to sleep.
"Furball´s right for once, I really have to stop this crap" Just as he said that, he felt an all too familiar presence behind him. Naruto sighed heavily and had to resist the urge of hiriashin his ass out of there so he didn't have to deal with her. Instead, he stood up and faced her.
"Come out Sakura, I know you're there" muttered Naruto tiredly. Said girl came out from the tree she was hiding at and faced the blonde. For what felt like ages they just stared at each other's eyes, Naruto´s sapphire, bored orbs gazing into Sakura´s green, insecure ones. Until Naruto broke eye contact and yawned remembered Sakura of why she was there.
"N-Naruto, could, I mean, mm…C-Could I talk to you?" managed the kunoichi to stutter. Naruto gave her a bored look and shrugged, sitting down again.
"Do what you want" answered the blonde coldly. Sakura flinched visibly at both his comment and tone, but sat down next to him nonetheless. Naruto looked tired, Sakura noted, he hadn't been sleeping well, she concluded.
"Umm, I know you don't want to hear it Naruto, but for all it's worth, I'm so very sorry" said the pink haired girl quietly. There was a big silence in which all could be heard was their breathing. Sakura glanced at Naruto and had to resist the urge to yelp in surprise. Naruto was looking at her with such eyes it frightened her. He was analyzing her, seeing if what she meant was true. His eyes looked like cold steel, calculating and reading her body language. Suddenly, his gaze hardened and his blank expression turned into an angry. Bad sign.
"You think you can just come here and apologize, and I'll smile stupidly and everything will be all right, don't you?" snapped the young Kitsune angrily.
"No" answered Sakura truthfully. "No apology will ever be enough to make up for all the things I did, but at least, I wanted to explain why I acted like that." Naruto eyed her carefully after she said that, not quite believing her. She didn't back down, however, and looked at him directly in the eye.
"Explain away, then" said Naruto, indifference and sarcasm dripping off his tone. His anger was almost tangible. It was expected; after all, it's not every day the person who broke your heart and your way of protecting yourself comes back and tries to explain why she did it.
Sakura winced yet again at his tone of voice. It would be expected, she thought, he had every right to act that way towards her, but still, it hurt to see a person who used to smile and laugh so much be so quiet and bitter. It was even worst to know you're the reason for it.
"I, I was confused back then. When we were kids, I saw how everyone treated you, and since I didn't want to be left out I joined them. It was a sick way of making friends and not being left out, you know, big forehead and all. And then there was Sasuke-kun. He was everything a girl wanted, smart, good looking, talented and so on. I liked him so much back then, that I was willing to do everything for him to accept you, and I saw you as nothing more than a bother" she finished and glanced at the blonde.
He wasn't even looking at her; he was looking at what lay in front of them, the Academy. Naruto´s personal hell for a long time. A place that held nothing more than pain and bad memories to him. It was a bad idea to have mentioned the Academy.
"So, in a way of preventing yourself from further rejection, you joined the mop of fucking fools that made my childhood a living hell" asked Naruto. His voice didn't even sound angry nor sad, cold, yes, but nothing more. She could only nod and bow her head in shame.
Sakura let out a gasp and looked at the demon host. He was calm, neither anger nor killer intent was leaking out of him. Why the hell wouldn't he be angry?! What the hell was going on?
"You seem surprised" commented the blonde. Sakura closed her mouth, which had been hanging open since he said it made sense´.
"Aren't you going to scream at me or something?" asked Sakura, out of curiosity than nothing else.
"And why would I do that?" answered Naruto calmly.
"Because!" yelled Sakura. "I treated you like crap, you treated me with nothing more than respect and care and I threw it at your face! Just a week ago you didn't even wanted to be near me! Not that I deserve it! Please, do I mean so little to you now?" her tone lowered until it was a mere whisper, tears running freely down her cheeks.
Naruto merely sighed and lifted her chin up with his right hand. His blue orbs stared intensely into her esmerald ones. It was not a cold stare; however, it was a gentle gaze, much like how the old Naruto would look at her when he thought she wasn't looking.
"Don't cry" he said simply as he let go of her chin and sat down again. (Sakura had gotten up when she yelled) She followed suit shortly after.
"Holding grudges isn't like me." Began the young fox. "I don't really care anymore, that's all. Even if I wanted to hate you, I couldn't. Trust me, I've tried, and it would have made things easier, but apparently I can't even stay mad at somebody for a long period of time. I understand why you acted the way you did. No one wants to be left out, after all. So in short, I forgive you, and I forgive this village. Hating brings nothing more than further pain and suffering. It's a useless feeling. You can ask Sasuke and he'll tell you the same thing. After all, no Hokage ever hated his own village, did they now?"
With that, he gave her one of his trademark grins, but this one wasn't a fake, it was real.A smile he only showed in her presence.A special smile for her alone.
With that, he got up and performed a Hiriashin, disappearing from sight, leaving nothing other than chakra where he once was.
Sakura stared at the place Naruto was just moments ago. Was it possible for someone to be so forgiving and kindhearted? How could he be like that? From what she had read, he was just like Yondaime. Both committed to their home, both brave, strong and with an iron and unbreakable determination to protect the ones important to them. It was almost as if Yondaime knew Naruto would turn out like that, and because of it he gave him that great burden Naruto carried with pride. Why you might ask? Because the Forth had chosen Him. It was a connection between the two of them. Naruto was an amazing person; he had changed so many in his short life.
Sakura sighed happily as she gazed at the darkening sky. There was still hope after all.
There u go! Hope you liked it. Now, I know it takes a hell of a lot of time to update this story, but please try to understand college aint no walk on the park and I'm constantly busy trying to have good grades. Besides, Broken Dreams it's easier for me to write, don´t really know why… But no worries! I´ll try to update this story as soon as I can! Best wishes!