The sun had come out the next day, and Naruto was up earlier than he usually was, but today wasn't about the good weather, or the pleasant songs of birds that he could hear as he walked through the village. No, today was about Sakura-chan, and he was in the biggest hurry he could ever remember being in in his teenage life. He ran quickly, passing Ichiraku, the ramen shop, and Konohamaru, who no doubt would want to play ninja with him today. He didn't have time to play ninja today. It was a busy day chock full of the two things he HAD to get done; He HAD to go and see Sakura in the hospital, and he HAD to train, because his match with the Terth kid wasn't until the final of of the tournament, and he had to fight Negi in three days, and he had to win, because if he didn't, he'd never get to fight Terth.
He ran down the street a little farther, until he hit the hospital, and went in the front door. He went straight up to the desk and spoke to the red haired girl at the counter.
"Excuse me," He said, "But do you know which room Sakura-chan is in?"
"Oh, you mean Sakura-san?" The lady replied, "Yes, she is in room 210."
"Arigato," Naruto said as he took off running up the hallway towards the stairs. He took the stairs up to the second floor and turned right as the sign directed him. Then, stopped outside the door and took a deep breath. He knocked, his hand barely had any strength left in it, and it made a faint sound on the thin wood of the door.
"Come in," He heard a voice say. It wasn't Sakura's, but he went in anyway.
When he walked inside, he saw a girl seated on the bed. She was shorter than he was, and she had bleach blonde hair, some of which came down the front of her head in a long clump of bangs the stuck up from the rest of them. She was wearing a ponytail as well, and she had it tied with a purple hair ribbon, which matched the rest of the garb she was wearing. She had on a tight purple shirt, which had an overly large collar that was folded down over itself. On it, she wore three golden rings, which were very large, and looked more like hoop earrings then they did rings, but Naruto knew better. Ino had always worn them, and she had corrected him on numerous occasions that they were rings and not earrings, and that each ring represented a different section of her soul, or something like that, he hadn't really been paying all that much attention at the time. She was a lot different now, like they all were since getting older, and she had calmed down enough that Naruto could actually stand to be in the same room with her for more than a second, which he had once thought to be an impossibility. She looked up as he came in, and the look of expectant surprise on her face told him everything he needed to know.
"Oh...Hey, Ino," Naruto said, "How is she?" Despite the fact that he knew he was blushing, and that the fact of why he was here was now blatantly obvious, he still had to ask because he knew he wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else until he did.
"Oh, Naruto," Ino said, in her typical mocking, snobby voice. Naruto knew she had changed a lot in the two years he'd been gone, they all had, but she still couldn't get that tone out of her voice, it was like she was a robot that was programmed to sound like that, or something, "Honestly, I didn't expect to see you here so soon, but I suppotse now that you're here, I'll have to be the one to tell you..." Her face fell as she said this.
"Tell me what?" Naruto asked with a glance at the peaceful Sakura, who looked like she was sleeping, "What's wrong, Ino?"
"She's going to be fine..." Ino said, "They..just don't know when she's going to wake up is all..."
"Don't know..." Naruto echoed the words as though they were the most dangerous, threatening words he had ever uttered, or heard, in his entire life, "What do you mean, they don't know?"
"She's in a coma, Naruto," Ino said, "And the longer she stays in it, the worse off she is..."
"A coma?" Naruto said, looking like he'd just had his legs cut off and handed back to him, "I thought you said she was fine?"
"She is, Naruto," Ino said, "Her injuries are healing, and everything is going according to what Hokage-sama said would happen...Physically, she's fine. They just don't know why she isn't waking up..."
"This is all my fault," Naruto said, "I never should have...I never should have talked her in to going into the tournament...Then, this would've never happened..." He felt empty, like someone had cut out his heart and cooked it, and then ate it in front of him. He held back the tears though, because he had to be strong right now. If he wasn't, then nothing would get better. He had to be strong for Sakura, he had to be strong so that she would get better, and he had to beat Terth no matter what. He had to fix what he messed up, even if it was the last thing he ever did.
"Don't blame yourself Naruto..." Ino said, in her best attempt at a comforting voice, "You could never hae forseen what happened. This was beyond any of our control, and Sakura made her choice, not you..."
"I swear..." Naruto said, "I swear by whatever god may be in heaven, or wherever else, that Terth Novanas will pay..." He squeezed his knuckles together so hard that they all popped, and he thought that they might break, but he ignored them and just went on with his angry rant, trying desperately to hold back the tears that he was feeling, then he felt it. It was like a voice creeping up in the back of his head, a tiny suggestion of what to do. Like someone was trying to play on his emotions to get him to do something. Then, a voice spoke in his head.
You might not be able to do it, It said, But WE can.
Shut up, he thought back, I'm not teaming up with you again unless I have to.
Oh how cute, The kyuubi's voice said, Trying to play the lone hero and fix the mess that you made. How noble...But I know better. This is your fault and you know it, and you need my power to defeat this boy. Whether you want to admit or not, you'll realize it in the end, and you'll look to me, like always.
NO, Naruto thought, This time will be different. This time I call the shots...This time we work on MY terms.
He could hear the Kyuubi laughing in his head, and it echoed off of the inside of his skull like someone was beating on it with a hammer.
Don't make me laugh boy, it said, The tournament of the seven dragons is a high profile event for a reason.Besides, you can't expect me, the Kyuubi, to bow to the wishes of a little, lost boy who's trying to impress his girlfriend. Like it or not, you owe your life to me several times over, and I intend to collect on that debt one day, boy, and you can bet your puny, little human life n the fact that when I do, I intend to collect in full...
The last word, full, seemed to have a ring of finality to it, and it made Naruto's insides crawl, like he had a million of Shino's bugs crawling all over his insides. He took one last long look at Sakura, then bowed to Ino, who was looking at him like he was some kind of three-headed Giant Worm thing that had been summoned from beyond by some kind of evil shinobi, and ran out the door. He turned left down the hall and dove out the window at the end of it, and ran off into the woods never once looking back.
Ino was thoroughly perturbed. She had just seen Naruto, and he had acted the weirdest she could ever remember him acting. Even with all the childish pranks he had pulled in the academy days, she could never remember thinking that he was THIS weird. It was like he had been having some kind of conversation in his head, and there was no way that was normal, even for Naruto. She finally tore her eyes away from the door, the one she had just watched him leave through not two minutes ago, and looked back at Sakura, anger once again filling her heart. She had told Naruto that it hadn't been his fault, but secretly, in the depths of her heart, where she would never let anyone see or hear of it, she blamed him. After all, it HAD to be his fault, if it wasn't, then whose was it? Sakura would never have joined the tournament if it wasn't for his challenge, and Sakura would be fine right now. In fact, she'd probably be the one coming to see HIM, like she always did.
Bad things were always happening around Naruto, and somehow he always came out fine, even if everyone else didn't, and made Ino so angry that she squeezed her fists into tighter and tighter balls in her lap as she looked at Sakura, blaming Naruto more and more for her condition with every ounce of pain that came out of her hands. Then, she took a deep breath, and relaxed. She wasn't about to lose her cool now, not when Sakura was depending on her to be strong, not when she had to be there for her. They had always been rivals, that much was true, but they had also had an unwritten agreement of friendship that ran between the two of them, and Sakura had been there for her in the past, so now it was her turn. She took Sakura's hand in hers, and put a hand on her forehead, it felt a little warm, but nothing to be concerned about. Then, she leaned in close to her ear, so close that the sweet scent of her hair filled her nose.
"Don't worry, Sakura," She said, "Uzumaki Naruto will get his. I'll make sure of it."
Hatake Kakashi took a deep breath of the fresh morning air. It filled his lungs and made him feel rejuvenated as he jumped from tree branch to tree branch on his way back to Konoha, the village hidden in the leaves. He watched all around him as things moved, animals mostly, and a few ninja that he recognized going out from the village on various missions. Good, he thought to himself, Im getting close. He sped up as he hit the next branch, flexing the muscles in his calves to propel himself forward faster, hurtling towards the next branch. He tugged on his forehead protector, which was still pulled low over his sharingan eye, and readjusted it so that it sat more comfortably on his head. He took a deep breath and ran his hand through his silver-white hair. He was nervous, which was very unlike him, but when the fifth hokage sent her personal aide to him and she said that he needed to return to the village right away and disregard his top priority mission to do so, he had to wonder what it was that was so important, and the only thing that he could think of was Sasuke, and that was bad news in his book. Because news involving Sasuke would inevitably mean news of Orochimaru, which was never good.
Still, he couldn't help but wonder if it had something to do with Naruto, and when he thought of Naruto, he couldn't help but think of a million different possibilities that could all require his attention, the least of which being him going berserk, and destroying the village, which to date had never happened, but Kakashi wasn't the type to leave out a distinct possibility, no matter how remote the chances of it happening were. So, pushing all thoughts of what the news could be out of his mind, he hit the last tree branch before the entrance to Konoha village and launched himself through the gate into the middle of the familiar red-roofed buildings that filled the city, and stopped a few feet from the guard station that was set up right inside the gate.
"Ah, Kakashi-sensei," said one of the guards in the booth, "You've returned early..."
"I have urgent business with the fifth," he said, and the guard's face looked worried almost immediately, "Did she leave me a message?"
"No," The guard replied, "But you can probably find her in her office..."
"Thank you," Kakashi said, and jumped into the air. he landed on the closest rooftop, and then made his way across the various roofs to the building in the center of the back of the village, it's domed, cylindrical shape was unmistakable amongst the other buildings. It was the building in which the hokage lived, and conducted her work, and he leapt to the roof outside the windows on the top floor, which belonged to her office. Then leapt inside, landing in the front of her desk and turning to face her. The room, and the woman, were both as they had been when he had left, though he could tell that the fifth had something on her mind, as her expression was serious and she was reading through a medical text, taking feverish notes.
"Greetings, Kakashi-sensei," She said without looking up from the book, "It's about time you got back."
"Tsunade-sama," He replied, "I got word from your messenger and came back as fast as I could. However, the country of waves is rather far from here...So...."
"Never mind that," She replied, closing the book and looking him dead in the eye, resting her chin in her hands, "I called you here to talk to you about one of your pupils."
"I expected as much," Kakashi replied, "Let me guess...Naruto?"
"In a way, yes," She replied, "But he's not the main reason this time. The one I want to talk to you about is Haruno Sakura."
"Sakura?" Kakashi said, astonishment in his voice, "What happened? Don't tell me she and Naruto..."
"No," She replied, "It's just Sakura. Though I am worried about Naruto..."
"Okay," Kakashi said, "Well, let's start with Sakura."
"Very well," The fifth said, "You know that the tournament of the seven dragons was held while you were gone, yes?"
"Yes," Kakashi said, "But what does that have to do with Naruto and Sakura?"
"They both took part in it."
"Sakura took part in the tournament?" Kakashi asked, sounding astonished, "That doesn't sound like her..."
"Well apparently," she replied, "Naruto had a hand in that."
"What do you mean, 'had a hand in that'?"
"Naruto challenged Sakura, and she took it."
"Naruto challenged Sakura?"
"Yes," Tsunade replied, "He said she couldn't hack it in the tournament, and she decided to prove him wrong."
"So, what's so urgent?" Kakashi asked, "I cant see how this is urgent enough to pull me off of a priority mission..."
"It's not the fact that she entered, Kakashi," Tsunade said, "It's the fact that she's now in the hospital that I called you back for."
"They've both been in the hospital before, Hokage-sama," Kakashi said, his tone growing darker, "Now, either you're afraid to tell me something, or there's nothing wrong. Either way, I suggest you tell me, because as it turns out, I have a mission that is of the utmost importance in the wave country..."
"She's in a coma, Kakashi," Tsunade said, "And I can't do anything about it!" She punctuated this remark by putting her fist through her desk. It shattered into several pieces, scattering papers and pieces of wood everywhere around the room.
"Ho-Hokage-Sama..." Kakashi said.
"And what's worse," She said, tears forming in her eyes, "Is that even if she does wake up, there will be complications..."
"Complications?" Kakashi asked, "What kind of complications?"
"The kind that mean she'll never be able to be a shinobi again!" Tsunade said, now unable to keep the tears from running down her face. Kakashi had never seen her like this, and it was beginning to worry him, "She's...She's going to be..."
Kakashi heard the last words, and his heart sank. He finally understood why Tsunade had called him back to the village. When Sakura woke up, she was going to need every friend in the village she could get, and even that might not help.
"So, I am here to comfort her, then?" Kakashi asked, "Is that it?"
"That," Tsunade replied, wiping away the tears from her eyes, "and to deal with Naruto."
"Deal with Naruto?" Kakashi asked, "How so?"
"He's blaming himself," Tsunade said, "He doesn't even know the full extent of it yet, and he's already become isolated, secluded, and depressed. The other shinobi in the village blame him too, and it only makes it worse. I can only imagine what will happen when he finds out about Sakura's condition."
"I see..." Kakashi said, his tone at last going soft, "That is a worthy cause to call me back for indeed. I shall do my best to be there for both of them, but I don't know how much good I can do..."
"You're their mentor," Tsunade said, "You, me, and Jiraya are the people they look up to most as role models. Well, maybe not Jiraya, but you taught them so much, and I taught Sakura how she could make a difference. So, in a way, we're the only ones who can help, and whether it will do a whole lot of good, or just a little bit of good, don't you think it's worth giving them both every chance we can?"
"Yes," Kakashi said, "I agree wholeheartedly."
"Then will you lend me your aid?" Tsunade asked.
"Yes," Kakashi said, "I will. However, there is one more thing I want to know."
"What is it?" Tsunade asked.
"How did it happen?" Kakashi asked.
"Oh..." Tsunade said, "Well, I suppose you should know..."
As the fifth imparted to Kakashi the tale of the fight between Sakura and the mysterious boy, he hung on every word as if his life depended on it, and when she was done, he knew precisely why Naruto needed watching. Then, he immediately got up and bowed politely to her, excusing himself, then jumped out the window, and ran off to find Naruto.
Chapter notes: disclaimer: I don't own naruto, or anything affiliated with it, character names, things, blah blah. you get the idea.
I wish I did though...that would be cool. XD
my quote of the week:
"You can't do that...It would be like...totally unfair!"
-Danny "D" Leuschen, my battle buddy, on why i shouldn't deny him a cigarette ^_^
So Here's chapter 2. Thanks to everyONE who reviewed chapter one, and enjoy! ^_^
Chapter end notes: So...lets see if I can get more reviews this time...im hoping more people will read this. *crosses fingers* Anyway, read and post your reviews. Hope you like it!