Naruto…you always knew, didn't you?
You always saved me.
You always gave me a smile, even when I pushed you away.
And then, three years later, I saw that same vibrant smile again.
I missed that smile so much.
But now I will never see it again.
Why'd you leave me Naruto?
You were supposed to always be by my side.
We were supposed to defeat Orochimaru and the Akatsuki and bring Sasuke back together.
But we can't do that any more.
Why did you have to go and get yourself killed?
A pink-haired kunoichi of 15 years stood above a marble gravestone. A black Konoha headband laid there, the only relic her fellow ninja found of her favorite blond.
Tears fell freely down her face and she stared longingly at the stone. It had the one name she never thought she would see on any monument signaling death in battle. He was invincible. He was her support. He was her best friend.
But now he was gone.
She stared at his headband, a sudden urge to hold it coming over her. She gave in and untied it. Gently, she stroked the metal with her thumb. Thunder boomed overhead as the rain cried with her for the loss of Konoha's most cherished shinobi.
She set the black headband on her lap and wiped her soaked face with her hands. She then picked up the headband again and took off her own with her free hand. Smiling sadly, she wrapped the headband around her forehead.
"Hey, Sakura-chan," someone called behind her.
More tears began to make their way down her face at the familiar name. He always called her that, ever since they were genin. She fell to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably.
"Sakura-chan, come on, the funeral is over. You must get inside before you catch a cold," the voice said again.
She shook her head in defiance. "No. I'm not leaving him," she said between sobs.
The boy went up behind her and kneeled next to her as he gingerly put his hand on her shoulder. "I know it is hard, Sakura-chan, but that is normal in the life of a shinobi. You must get inside," he urged.
"I-I'm sorry, Lee," she replied, "It's just so hard. He was my best friend, Lee! Do you know how hard that is?!" She then clutched onto him and cried into his chest.
Awkwardly, he set his hand on her back. "I cannot imagine," he said, "but he's gone, and you must get inside."
"Okay, Lee," she said and stood up, wiping her eyes. That's when Lee noticed whose headband Sakura was wearing.
"Is that his headband?" he asked.
She only nodded in response. 'Naruto…'
It'd been a week since he died. And Sakura was still taking it extremely hard. She even went as far to lock all of her doors and lock herself in her room. It seemed as if every corner, every crack in the streets, every sound, every chirp of the birds reminded her of Naruto.
And, frankly, everyone was worried about her.
"Tsunade-sama, what should we do?" Tsunade's assistant Shizune asked.
"Forehead's not supposed to be all depressed!" a blond kunoichi yelled, "She's supposed to be like all smiley and everything!"
"I know, Ino, I know," Tsunade replied, "And I know that Naruto would want for her to happy. Which is why we need her to come out of her room and have some fun instead of thinking about Naruto. We all miss him, more than she could know, but she needs to move on."
"But, Tsunade-sama…you were like his mother to him and you took it pretty hard as well," Shizune pointed out, "but why is she taking it the hardest?"
"I don't think she's realized how she really felt about the knucklehead," Tsunade mumbled to herself. "I know what I'll do. I'll send her on a mission to get her mind off of him, to get her back to her old self. Then, Ino, I leave the rest to you."
"What am I supposed to do?" she asked.
"I don't know, take her to the hot spring or something. Just help her relax."
Sakura lay on her bed, a picture frame in hand. She stared and stared at Naruto's younger self. She didn't know why she missed him so much; she just did. She'd kill Sasuke of all people just to see his stupid grin, to hear his laugh, to hold him in her arms.
I want my knuckleheaded best friend back, she thought sadly. She then looked over to a more recent picture.
The picture had the current Team 7, or Team Kakashi. He really did grow mentally, but he'll always be that same blond idiot from the academy to me, she thought as she stroked his picture with her forefinger.
Sakura then got up, running her fingers through her hair. Her stomach growled, and she then spotted her reflection in the mirror. Her tanned skin had lost much of its color, her eyes were void of any happiness or laughter, her hair was a mess, and her shirt fit a lot looser than normal. She obviously wasn't taking care of herself.
Sakura remembered when Sasuke had first left. It hadn't torn her up as much as his death had. She actually ate, even if it was in small amounts. Now, she didn't even think about eating.
She was a complete and utter mess.
I seriously need to get out in the sun and get something in my stomach, she thought as she ran her fingers through her hair again and sighed. Just then, an ANBU appeared in her window.
"Sakura-san," he said, "Hokage-sama wishes to see you immediately."
"Hai," she said and the ANBU disappeared.
Sighing, she walked into her bathroom and attempted to tame the mess that was her hair. She didn't need people worrying about her more than they already did.
When she walked out of her house, the intensity of the sun burned her eyes. She stood on her doorstep, trying to allow her eyes to adjust. As soon as she was sure she wouldn't walk into a pole, she set off for the Hokage Tower.
When she arrived at her mentor's office, she knocked gently.
"Come in," she heard softly from the other side. She complied and bowed at her Hokage.
"Yes, Tsunade-sama?" she said.
"Sakura," Tsunade began, but paused when she took in Sakura's current appearance. She was appalled. "Have you been eating lately?"
Sakura turned away.
"Answer me, Sakura," she demanded.
"N-no," her student replied meekly. Tsunade slammed her fists into her desk.
"Sakura, I realize this has been hard for you but you need to eat!"
"I'm sorry, Tsunade-sama," she said, her voice controlled.
Tsunade sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose with her middle finger and thumb. "Look," she said, "I'm sending you on a mission. You need to go to Suna to help the Kazekage set up the chuunin exams this year and escort Temari. It's a fairly easy mission, so I'm sure you'll have no trouble with it."
Sakura took in a deep breath then said bravely, "I'm sorry Tsunade-sama, but I must decline. Please do not ask my reasons." Her voice shook as she spoke.
Noticing this, Tsunade swallowed her anger and sighed. "Very well then. I'll just ask Shikamaru."
"Thank you, Tsunade-sama," Sakura replied with a bow.
"Oh, um, Sakura?" Tsunade said as Sakura turned to leave.
"You really loved him, didn't you?"
"Hai.." With that, she left.
"Hey, forehead!" Ino called after her friend. Sakura stopped in her tracks and waited for Ino to catch up. "What do you say to going to the hotspring with me?" she asked hopefully.
"No thank you," she replied, her voice void of any emotion.
Despite Tsunade's orders, she replied, again, "No."
"Oh, come on, Sakura! You need to relax!" Ino urged.
Ino didn't know how torn up Sakura was, now did she? She would never be the same again; not until she saw him again.
"No!" Sakura yelled in her friend's face, warm tears cascading down her pale cheeks. Ino took a step back. "How can I relax knowing my best friend's dead?! Knowing I can't ever see him again?! This whole damn village reminds me of him!" she sobbed and fell to the ground. "I just want to see him again," she said in a now lower voice.
Ino kneeled to the ground to give her friend some support. Sakura immediately sobbed on the girl's shoulder. "I just want to see him again," she sobbed again.
That night, Sakura did something she'd never think she'd do in her life.
It was around one in the morning. Her belongings were are sprawled on her bed, along with her bag.
She walked over to her dresser and picked up Naruto's headband. She put it on her forehead and set to pack her things.
When she was done, she took one last look at her room. I have to do this, she thought, or else I'll never be able to get over him.
She climbed out her window and landed on the ground silently. Head hung low, she walked toward Konoha's gates.
She was leaving Konoha…forever.
Konoha constantly reminded her of him. It always brought her tears now. She had to get away from it.
She turned around to face Konoha one last time. I'm sorry, she thought and left.
"Sakura left? When?!" Tsunade demanded.
"We think sometime last night, Hokage-sama," Yamato answered. "We've looked for her all over the village, and she's no where to be found."
"Great, just great…Shizune!"
"Get Ino and Shikamaru and anyone else you can think of. Sakura's up and run off and we have to find her."
"Hai," and she vanished.
Sakura had been running for about a day straight without food or water. She felt as if she was going to pass out any minute.
She found a stream and kneeled in the grass. She scooped up some water with her hands and began to drink, then splashed some in her face. She lay down and closed her eyes.
I feel guilty for leaving, but I had to…
It's the only way I could think of to escape those painful memories…
"Sakura-chan," she finally heard a childlike voice say in the distance.
Wow… I can actually hear his voice now… she sighed.
"Sakura-chan, get up," the voice said again.
I must miss him so much I'm hearing things…
She then felt a callused hand on her shoulder. "Sakura-chan," the voice said once more. Her eyes snapped open.
She jolted up and immediately hugged Naruto. "Naruto!" she sobbed out. "I thought you were dead!" she exclaimed as she clutched his torn jacket as if he would disappear like an illusion.
Naruto's already existing blush deepened as he held onto her. "Me? Dead?"
"Y-yeah, all they found was your headband!" she said and pointed to said object. "I-I kinda kept it though…"
"'Cause it's all I had to remember you by…" she mumbled. "Don't scare me like that ever again, Naruto!" she said and rested her head on his shoulder, sobbing again.
He began to gently stroke her hair. "I won't, I promise," he said, "just promise me you'll eat as soon as we get back to Konoha...speaking of which, why are you all the way out here?"
"Well…umm…you see…I kinda…ran away…"
She looked at him desperately. "I-I couldn't help it! Everything reminded me of you and I had to get away from it! At least until I had the strength to face it!" She buried her face into his jacket and inhaled his scent. "I just missed you too much…"
Naruto's eyes widened at this. She left Konoha for one, and she missed him. This couldn't mean she…?
"Sakura-chan… Let's go home, okay? I'm sure everyone is worried about you."
"Don't you ever scare me like that again. Or else I'll have to kill you myself."
He chuckled and tried to stand up, but fell right back down.
"Oh, um, sorry," Sakura said with a blush and began healing his wounds.
"You idiot! How could you just up and leave Konoha like that?! Huh?!"
"Sorry, Tsunade-sama, things were just too hard and—"
"You just ran away?!"
"Well, why'd you come back? Hmm?"
"Well, I found someone along the way..."
"Oh really? And who might that person be?"
Sakura went to the door and opened it, revealing her favorite knucklehead. Tsunade instantly recognized him and clutched him into a bone-crushing hug.
"Naruto! Holy crap you're alive!" she cried. "But how?"
"Oh um, sorry," she said and released him.
"No one found me so when I realized every one left I kinda just wandered around and I got lost for a while…I'm sorry I worried you."
"Don't tell me that," she said and pointed to Sakura. "She's the one that took in the hardest."
Naruto smiled a small smile and looked at the girl. She smiled warmly back at him, a small smile evident on her face as well, her cheeks tinted a light pink.
"Alright, you two, get out of here," Tsunade said teasingly. Sakura and Naruto both left without a word.
"Um..do you want to go to Ichiraku with me? You look like you haven't eaten in days, and I haven't either."
She smiled. "Sure, Naruto, but only if you're buying."
He sighed, but smiled too. "Fine."
"So, you really missed me that much?" Naruto said as he was walking Sakura home.
She blushed a bit. "Y-yeah, actually. You don't know how much it tore me up. I wouldn't eat, I wouldn't go outside, I didn't even care about how I looked. All I cared about was seeing you again."
"You didn't react like that when Sasuke left…"
"I know, and that's what I found kinda odd," she said and stopped to face him. "But within the past few days, I finally understood why I was taking it so hard and why I missed you so much."
"Oh? And why's that?"
"B-because…. I finally realized I couldn't live without you, Naruto. I really couldn't. I-it was like everywhere I looked I was reminded about the little things, the stupid things you did or said… and I really missed them all and I thought I would never see you again…"
Naruto just stared at her, dumbfounded, speechless. All he could do was smile and kiss her.
I know I know I posted a NaruSaku oneshot where SAKURA dies, but I did that one AFTER I had written this one. This is another oneshot of mine inspired by "No Air" by Jordin Sparks.
And I know some of my stuff is a little angsty, and I'm sorry... I just like sad stories that have a happy ending...
And now you know what I think would happen in either scenario... Hope you enjoyed!