Type: Gen/"blink and you miss it" yaoi
Time: a little over 30 minutes
Disclaimer: Naruto is copyright Masashi Kishimoto.
Notes: Spoilers for up to vol.21 of the manga. I'm extrapolating from events in that as to what I think will happen, but of course no guarantees. Comments/crit gladly welcomed, especially since this is the first time I've written for Naruto.
You can’t ever just take a walk anymore. Any time you leave the village, you’re immediately on your guard. Your hands itch to grab a kunai, to hold it before you as you ease your way from tree to tree. It’s been months since the last attack on Konoha Village, but the war is far from over. At any moment you could be attack by Sound Ninjas. At any moment, you could be attacked by him.
Your eyes follow the trunks of the trees around you, gazing up to the branches that interlock above you in a leafy canopy. Once, you used to compete with him over those heights. You used to run up the trunks, slashing the bark and falling to the ground, panting but full of fire as you strained to best him. Then, you were just rivals. Now you are enemies.
A breeze ruffles the leaves above you. They rustle in a susurrus of sound that you strain to hear through -- for footsteps, for the whoosh of a shuriken rushing toward you. Once you’d tried to kill him, on the rooftop of a hospital. Then you’d tried to save him, leaping from branch to branch, hoping you wouldn’t be too late. No leaves fell or rustled from your movements or those of your teammates on your rescue mission. You'd rushed in, all of you knowing you were in over your head, but fighting for his sake anyway. Yet it wasn’t enough. He didn’t want your salvation, and he betrayed you.
You’d always fought before, the two of you. But when he’d come from that barrel, bearing the marks of his new allegiance, you’d known then this fight was the beginning of the end. And the end of something you’d never realized you’d treasured.
You can’t stay out long on your walk. Others will come looking for you soon. In this time of fear, of tense waiting, your fellow villagers look to you for guidance, for hope. It’s what you always wanted, to be a Hokage, to be acknowledged. You’re their hero, the reason anyone even can go beyond the walls of the town. Funny, though, how what you always longed for brings you no joy. Instead there’s just the numbness, and the grim tension that grips your nerves. The war isn’t over; you haven’t saved them yet.
Once, he’d been the town’s hero. The last of the legendary Uchiha clan. When others laughed at you, snickering that you’d never be a ninja, they’d praised him. One day, they’d said, he’d avenge his clan. One day he’d be a great leader.
Now they say the same things about him they once said about you. Now they hurry past his old home, whispering that evil haunted it. You hate that. Not what they do; you hate how alike you’ve become in their minds, for all your positions are reversed. You hate that you both carry a cursed seal and power that, in the end, can only destroy.
No wonder you’re enemies, you think. Could you ever be anything else?
You reach the edge of the woods. Beyond is a meadow with a stump in the middle, the place Kakashi first tested you three. You skirt the edge of it, reluctant to leave the cover of the woods. Too much exposure, you tell yourself. But above the meadow you can see the cliffs. They’ve begun work on Tsunade’s profile, and already there’s talk of your face going up there. Maybe once your chest would have swelled with pride at that. Maybe once you would have marched straight to him and Sakura to brag.
But now Sakura has a shadow in her eyes, and the empty meadow resonates with the hole deep inside you. The hole that you first felt the day Sasuke burst out of that barrel.
You swear under your breath and head back to the village. You don’t want them to worry about their leader, to lose confidence. You wave and smile at Hinata and your friends when you reach them. As their eyes light up, their bodies relaxing from their fighting stances, you know they’re ready. You know you’re ready. You want to fight by their sides and to win the war. But not for them. It’s time to kill, and save, him once again.
But, you think, turning to look down the long empty road behind you, who will save the savior?