|Eye of the Storm
Author: RoamingFox PM
Loneliness and depression finally drive Naruto to do the unthinkable. No longer a ninja of Konoha, Naruto must forge his own path in life, but this time he's no longer alone. Watch as a boy becomes a legend, and finds true happiness in the darkness.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - Naruto U. & Temari - Chapters: 3 - Words: 17,804 - Reviews: 60 - Favs: 155 - Follows: 240 - Updated: 02-23-10 - Published: 08-22-09 - id: 5322339
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto in any way, shape, or form.
Warning: I don't usually throw notes at the top of my chapters, but I'm making an exception here. This chapter contains a single scene of extreme violence. If this is going to upset you, please feel free to skip the scene and continue with the rest of the story. There is an alternate version of the scene in my author's note at the bottom that is much less graphic. Thanks.
Chapter 1 – A Series of Unfortunate Events
"Aww! Come on, Sakura-chan! Just once? I promise I'll pay and everything! Please?" Naruto's desperate voice drifted over the late afternoon market district as he attempted to beg, bargain, and plead his way into a date with the pink-haired girl in front of him. For the seventh time this week.
"For the millionth time Naruto... NO!" Sakura screamed as her fist hurtled into the side of the blond boy's head. If he hadn't already been on his knees begging he surely would have been after such a vicious strike. As it was, he already was on his knees, so he ended up slamming face first into the ground instead.
"Ita... Sakura-chan, that hurt!" Naruto whined as he pulled himself out of the dirt, something he was intimately familiar with doing on a regular basis.
"Ya, well... Maybe the pain will teach you a lesson for once!" Sakura shouted before stalking off towards her home. 'Kami! How many times do I need to tell that idiot that no means no! The only person I want to date is Sasuke-kun! Shannaro!'
"Oh well... There's always tomorrow!" No sooner had the mumbled words left his lips, a rock the size of a small lemon slammed into the side of his head and sent him crashing back to the ground in a cloud of dust.
"I heard that, idiot! No means NO!" Sakura's scream echoed from down the street as, once again, Naruto was forced to pick himself up from the ground. He gingerly felt his head where the rock had struck him, and his fingers came back red and sticky with blood.
'Great... Now I need to shower before this sets up in my hair.' Naruto sighed as he made his way back to his apartment to take a freezing cold shower. It wasn't that he enjoyed the ice cold water, but rather that he was unable to get any hot water at all unless he boiled it himself, and that prospect was dangerous in and of itself given the age and condition of the old gas stove in his kitchen.
A few hours later found Naruto sitting on the edge of his bed, staring forlornly out of one of the only two windows in his apartment. The stars twinkled dimly in the sky as he let his eyes just drift among the tiny pinpricks of light. Naruto's gaze eventually wandered to the only picture frame in his room; it was empty. It had always been empty, in fact. Sighing heavily, Naruto reached over and gently plucked the object off of his dresser before gazing at it sadly.
"I really wish you were here..." Naruto had to choke back a sob as the first few tears dropped onto the empty glass of the frame. He honestly didn't know why he got so emotional over the stupid frame anymore; it wasn't like it had any real value. It was just something stupid he bought years ago thinking that he could ask the Hokage for a picture of his parents.
"I should have known that he wouldn't have a picture... Hell, he wouldn't even tell me their names. After everything else, why did I even expect anything different? Maybe I really am an idiot like everyone says..." Yet, nonetheless, Naruto had kept the frame. To him it was like some sort of twisted promise; a demented hope that his parents would suddenly appear out of nowhere and rescue him from his private hell. It was that fragile hope that had kept him going up until now, but looking out into the vast expanse of starlit sky just outside his window, he couldn't help but wonder if his parents were staring at the same sky as him. That they might be on their way to whisk him away from the miserable existence he called a life at this very moment.
"Hah! Like that would happen... Knowing my luck, they probably abandoned me on purpose." Naruto clenched his hands, oblivious to the soft popping sounds the fragile glass was making inside of the simple wooden frame in his hands.
"They probably just thought I was a monster like everyone else. What am I saying?! Of course they did! What kind of person would want a son like me?" His fists clenched harder, causing the glass inside of the frame to snap with a loud crack.
Naruto looked down at the glittering shards that were once a single piece of perfectly clear and unblemished glass. "Just great..." Naruto sighed and hurled the frame out of his window. Only taking a small amount of solace in the faint tinkling sound as the razor sharp fragments of glass struck the pavement of the alley below.
"Naruto. Naruto? Naruto!" Umino Iruka was forced to yell the blond's name a third time and throw a nearby blackboard eraser at him before he finally raised his head off his arms to look at his teacher.
"Wha?" Naruto responded groggily as he looked around. 'Oh, right. Class...'
"Well, if you're quite finished with your little mid-day nap, could you kindly recite the hand seals required to perform the Bunshin no Jutsu?"
"Umm... Heheheh... I kind of forgot." Naruto smiled stupidly as he scratched the back of his head. 'Tiger, Boar, Ox, Dog.'
"Sasuke, mind filling Naruto in please?" Iruka sighed. The boy just simply would not learn. Everything he had tried just seemed to backfire on him, and Iruka was very quickly running out of both ideas and patience.
"Tiger, Boar, Ox, Dog." Sasuke's bored drawl echoed around the classroom, captivating the majority of the female population of the class while simultaneously irritating the male portion.
"Correct. Care to demonstrate for us?" Iruka smiled as he watched the raven-haired boy flawlessly execute the technique. 'At least someone pays attention.'
Naruto eyed the broody Uchiha furiously from across the room. 'Of course Sasuke can do it. Sasuke can do god damn everything! If only Iruka-sensei didn't always ask for a demonstration, then I'd show that bastard who's dead last!' Naruto growled slightly, causing the sleeping form of Shikamaru next to him to grunt and turn his head away from him.
Naruto sighed as he watched Sakura skip happily through the academy gates and off towards the commercial district of Konoha, and for a second he considered whether or not to follow her. On one hand, he knew he would get punched again if she found out, but on the other hand it was a chance to be closer to the only person who ever even acknowledged that he existed. It wasn't a very hard choice.
Naruto picked up his pace as he followed the pink haired girl out of the academy and through the tree lined streets of the major commercial sector. It was several minutes of walking before the girl stepped inside of a flower shop that Naruto was very familiar with.
'Of course. If Sakura wanted flowers, where else would she go?' Naruto sighed as he stared at the sign above the door that read 'Yamanaka Flowers' and took up a position on the park bench underneath the window outside of the store. He may have wanted to spend time with Sakura, even if she didn't know it, but he wasn't suicidal enough to enter that flower shop when he knew that both Sakura and Ino would be present. One of them he could handle, but the two of them double teaming him would likely result in much more than a few bruises.
A few moments passed, and Naruto had considered leaving before either of the two girls spotted him, but the sound of voices filtering through the open window behind him kept him in his seat.
"Forehead, what are you doing here? I thought I told you we weren't talking until you realized that Sasuke-kun was mine!"
"Shut up, Ino-pig. You know I'm here every Monday to get my mother's order, and besides Sasuke is mine damn it!"
"Hah! Like you could ever impress him! Especially with that wind sail you call a forehead."
"Just hurry the hell up Ino, and besides, I'm going to ask Sasuke-kun to dinner tomorrow!" Sakrua's shout drifted through the window as Naruto felt a knot start to form in his stomach.
"And just what makes you think he'd want to have dinner with someone like you?" Ino drawled over the sound of shifting pottery.
"Why not? Someone like him, no family, all alone in that big house of his... If I were him, I'd be dieing for a nice home cooked meal by now..."
The knot in Naruto's stomach tightened at the mention of family. 'Sasuke... Why do you get to have everything when you don't want it, but the only thing I've ever wanted I can't have?' Naruto choked back a sniffle as his thoughts shifted to his parents.
"A man's heart is through his stomach... I never figured you'd be that sneaky, Sakura, but don't think this means I'll let you take him from me just like that!"
"Ha! I'd like to see you try!" Sakura shouted as her footsteps echoed across the polished wood floor of the shop before opening the door and snapping Naruto out of his daze long enough for him to dive into a nearby alley.
"Oh! Ino?" Sakura paused, the door halfway open as she turned to face the blond girl behind the counter.
"What is it?"
"Oink! Oink! Oink!" Sakura smirked and walked out of the shop to the sound of the other girl's angry ranting. 'Get last laugh. Check. Shannaro!'
It took several minutes of staring off in the direction Sakura had left in before Naruto returned to his senses and he began to walk off in the direction of his apartment, but something stopped him in the middle of the street. Looking back over his shoulder, Naruto turned around and headed back towards the flower shop.
The jingling sound of bells alerted Yamanaka Ino that someone had just entered through the front door of her family's shop.
"Hi! How can I..." Ino greeted her unknown customer cheerfully from under the counter as she got out another roll of paper for the register. "... help you... Naruto?! What the hell are you doing here? Get out!" Ino's pleasant greeting turned into a shrill yell as her eyes narrowed when she realized just who had walked into the shop; her hand slowly inching its way towards the nearest object to throw at the blond boy should it prove necessary.
"But... But... Ino-chan..." Naruto stammered almost incoherently as he backed away from the girl by instinct. He'd never admit it, even to himself, but the the girl was downright scary sometimes.
"How many times do I need to tell you not to call me Ino-chan? Yamanaka-san is just fine, thank you." Ino pinched the bridge of her nose in an effort to head off her quickly building headache. 'The idiot just had to walk in when I was at the front counter. Of all the rotten luck...'
"I'm sorry. I forgot." Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head. Truthfully, he hadn't forgotten. You don't really forget something when it's yelled at you at least once every other day. He had chosen not to listen, and that was a very big difference, at least it was in Naruto's mind anyway.
"What do you want already, idiot? I don't have all day..." Ino rapped her immaculate nails on the aged wooden counter irritably while she waited for the boy in front of her to spit out whatever it was that he had to say so he could hurry the hell up and leave.
"I just wanted some flowers..." Naruto deliberately refused to meet the other blond's gaze as he spoke. Ino had an uncanny talent to tell when people around her were lying if she wasn't distracted, and the last thing he wanted was to have to explain himself, especially of all to her; explaining something to Ino invariably found its way to the ears of absolutely everyone else.
"They're not for Billboard Brow are they? Honestly, I don't think you have enough money to even begin to impress her." Ino eyed the boy cautiously. 'Maybe I'm a bit hard on Sakura sometimes... She's got a hell of a lot to deal with already...'
"No, they're not for her..." Naruto mumbled quietly.
Ino gave the boy a curious glance. 'Did he just sound sad?'
"They're for Ayame-chan! She's always giving me free bowls of ramen, so I have to do something nice to repay her!" Naruto shouted happily as he deliberately locked eyes with the slightly stunned girl. 'If only everything else was as easy as lying...'
"Oh! Well in that case, how much money do you have to spend?" Ino forced her voice back down towards its usual sing-song rhythm as she spoke. 'Naruto may be an idiot, but at least he has a good heart...' She just couldn't stay angry at him when she knew the reason he had come there in the first place. As long as she didn't spot the flowers being given to a specific pink-haired girl instead, she could at least tell herself that the boy really was just trying to repay someone for a good deed.
"About 500 Ryo..."
"Oh... Umm... Well... Let's see what I can come up with." Naruto cringed at the way her voice changed. It wasn't quite sympathy; it was more like disgust mixed with shock, and maybe a little regret. If he had a choice, he almost would have preferred her usual angry self... almost.
It only took about five minutes for Ino to complete a simple arrangement of flowers consisting of a few different colors of daisies. 'Well... It's certainly not my best work, but it should be within his price range... I just hope Sakura doesn't bash his skull in too bad.'
"Thanks..." Naruto mumbled as he handed her the coins and was out the door even before the girl could tell him that he was welcome.
The many etched sides of the memorial stone sparkled brightly in the late afternoon sun. Each name seemed to glimmer and catch the light as Naruto approached the massive slab of black rock. Naruto carefully laid the flowers he had bought earlier at the base of the stone as he slowly knelt down in front of the memorial. 'Any of these people could be my parents... My family.' He delicately ran his hand over the thousands of names carved into the perfectly polished surface. He had, of course, gone over all of the names several times, but he had never found one with a last name that even resembled his.
"I... I'm sorry. I broke the picture frame last night. I guess I got kind of angry... It's... It's just so hard sometimes not knowing who you are... were... Hell, I don't even know if your alive or not..." Naruto fought back a sniffle as he continued. "I know... I'm being stupid, but I guess that's what I'm best at. At least that's the only thing anyone ever sees in me anyway. I used to try so hard to make you proud. To make everyone realize that I wasn't just a stupid orphan, but now... now I don't really see the point."
Naruto looked up through the trees hanging overhead and sighed deeply as he watched the rays of golden sunlight dance overhead. "Maybe I never really did. I spent all those years pretending... smiling... and laughing... I thought that if I tried hard enough and long enough I might actually start believing it myself. I guess it kinda worked... No one ever thinks I'm upset, and most people don't try to make me cry anymore. They all know that nothing they could do would make me stop smiling..."
A few tears rolled down his cheeks as he watched the soft light drifting down between the leaves change colors from a warm gold to a brilliant orange and finally settle on a dazzling crimson red. "I just don't know how much longer I can keep smiling. It's so hard sometimes... Putting on an act for everybody else's benefit knowing they just don't care. If only I knew who you were... why you left... anything..." Tears were flowing freely now from the blond's eyes as he watched the leaves sway and dance above him. This was the only place outside of his room that he allowed himself to cry; the only place he allowed his mask to slip and show the real Uzumaki Naruto.
It was several hours before Naruto stood and with a final sniffle said his goodbyes to the stone, and potentially his parents. There was only a slim chance that his parents names were actually carved onto the memorial, but that was all he needed to keep going, at least for now. 'I hope they liked the flowers...'
As the blond finally cleared the area, the shadow that had been watching him moved into the now moonlit clearing, the faint glowing light causing his usually dull silver hair to shine as he approached the stone. "Well Sensei... I guess I failed you again..." Kakashi mumbled as he traced his finger over the one name on the stone that was carved larger than all of the others. 'I couldn't be there for you, and I wasn't there for your son. I'm so sorry, Minato-sensei...'
Naruto sighed inwardly when he saw the gang of boys approaching the ancient rope swing he was sitting on. 'Here we go again... You can do this Naruto... Just smile and don't let it get to you.'
"Hey! If it isn't Uzumaki! All alone again are you?" The ring leader smirked. It had only taken him a few months of torturing the blond boy at lunch before he had figured all of the right buttons to push. The kid never showed it of course, but it had the proper effect where it mattered, or at least that's what his father always told him.
"Yep! The other kids just don't know what they're missing, that's all!" Naruto flashed the ringleader his famous smile.
"Kami... Look at him, no friends and he still smiles like an idiot. Do you feel anything at all besides happiness?" A second boy commented, and smiled triumphantly when he watched his target's smile drop ever so slightly.
"I can think of something else he feels!" A third boy shouted as he snatched the lone rice ball that comprised Naruto's entire lunch from the blond's hands. "Hunger!" He punctuated his statement by throwing the food into the grass at his feet.
"Heh... Ya, well, a guy's got to eat you know!" Naruto tried to force the happiness into his voice, but he just couldn't quite manage it. It came out strained and almost hysterical. 'Shit. Now they know they're getting to me...'
"If you're so hungry why aren't you eating your lunch then?" The ringleader supplied as he slowly ground his foot into the rice ball.
"Eh... I was done with that already. You can have it if you want." Naruto's stomach growled as he spoke, and almost immediately he was kicking himself over it mentally.
"You sure? It sure sounds like you're hungry..." The boy who originally thrown his food onto the ground commented.
"Naw, I'm all set. You guys enjoy!." Naruto smiled as he slid off the swing, and turned to head back inside.
"Hey guys! I just thought of something else that he probably feels!" The ringleader spoke up suddenly before driving his fist into Naruto's stomach, causing the blond to gasp in pain and collapse onto the ground as all the wind was driven out of his lungs. "Pain!"
"Haha! It looks like you were right too, boss!"
"Ya, look! He can't even get up."
Naruto tried to force the smile back onto his face, but the pain wracking through his chest prevented it, so he settled on a glare.
"Who the hell do you think you're glaring at Uzumaki? Huh?!" The ring leader was just about to send his foot crashing into the blond's diaphragm when the bell signaling the end of lunch rang. "Damn! Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Right, Uzumaki?" Naruto could only nod in response as he desperately tried to pull himself off the ground. If he didn't agree with them, they'd just make it worse later on, and they almost always managed to find a way to do just that.
Once his three tormentors were out of sight, Naruto allowed himself a brief moment to collect himself before finally hauling himself off the ground and heading inside. 'The last thing I need right now is to end up late too...'
(WARNING: This scene contains GRATUITIOUS violence! Please skip if you know that that kind of thing upsets you. Thanks.)
"Come on, Sakura! Please? Just this one time. It would make me really happy!" Naruto pleaded at the pink-haired girl in front of him. The sound of desperation slowly creeping into his voice as he forced a strained smile onto his face. He had managed to catch her in the academy courtyard and stall long enough that there weren't many other people around.
"NO! " Sakura shouted and slammed her fist into the same exact spot that she had hit earlier in the week. If Naruto hadn't been such a quick healer, the girl surely would have been doing brain damage by now. Honestly, Naruto wasn't even sure why he tried anymore. It was kind of degrading, following her around like some sort of sick puppy all the time.
"Just one little date? I won't tell anyone! I'll even go disguised!" Naruto forced the smile back into his voice with all the grace and subtlety of using an explosive tag to start a campfire. This just set the pink-haired girl off again, and he soon found himself crashing into the hard packed dirt of the courtyard with frightening speed. 'Why the hell do I put up with all of this again? Oh right, she's the only one who even reacts to anything I do anymore...' That had to count for something, right?
"NO! NO! NO! " Sakura screeched, punctuating each word with a fist to the side of the head. Naruto winced when he felt something start dripping down behind his ear. 'Damn... One of her nails must have scratched me on that last one...'
"Do you need me to explain it to you? Can you honestly not understand that I don't have any intention of ever going on a date with you?" Another punch landed in the exact same spot as it always did. Her accuracy was uncanny, and for once Naruto wasn't impressed with the number one kunoichi of their generation. "Are you really that stupid that you need me to beat the words into that thick skull of yours?" Sakura was screaming now. Usually she only vented at him for a few seconds before her more rational side took control and she removed herself from his presence, but for some reason it just didn't kick in like usual. 'He just had to pick today of all days to start this crap up again! And right after Sasuke-kun refused my invitation to dinner too! I'm gonna kill him! Shannaro!'
"You're stupid. You're lazy. You're a horrible excuse for a ninja. Why in Kami's name would anyone ever go out with you, let alone me?" Each sentence was punctuated by another shattering blow to the exact same spot as the previous ones, and truthfully the ringing in his head was really starting to get to him. Naruto could feel the gentle trickle of blood from the back of his skull working its way down his neck and beginning to pool on the ground under him.
"I" Sakura's fist connected squarely with his skull for probably the eleventh or twelfth time so far today. "Hate" Another punch landed, and Naruto felt something snap inside of him. He had had enough. "You!" Sakura raised her fist to strike again, but the blond boy caught it before she could connect. Sakura gasped as she watched the brilliant blue of the boy's eyes bleed away as his pupils became slitted and feral, thick strands of crimson red flowing into them like dye poured into a glass of water. The sudden change in his eyes caught her completely by surprise, and she never registered the crippling blow to her stomach until she was on her back three meters away from him.
"YOU BITCH! " Naruto screamed as he followed the girl to the ground, cocking back his fist as he went. His second strike was even harder than the first, and Naruto felt the satisfying snap of bone as he shattered the girl's shoulder. "Years! Years I've put up with you hitting me! Just to be close to you!" Another punch slammed into Sakura's stomach, causing her breath to forcibly leave her lungs along with a spray of thick blood. "All I wanted was to get to know you! That's it!" Naruto's next strike slammed into the girl's ribcage, shattering bone and causing her to scream silently in pain as bone broke through skin. "I just wanted to be your friend!" Another punch slammed into Sakura's stomach covering his fist with blood and sending thick ribbons of the sticky liquid flying off his fist as he brought it down again. "But no! You were too busy fawning over the almighty Uchiha to care!" Naruto caught the girl in the jaw with his fist and sent her head crashing into the ground with a sickening smack. "All you ever did was hit me! I'm not some punching bag for you to take out your emotional stress on!" Naruto's punch slammed into the girl's nose, spraying the both of them with a shower of blood, and it was then that Naruto finally came to his senses.
"Oh Kami..." Naruto gasped as he looked down at himself. He was completely covered in blood. Her blood. It was absolutely everywhere; his hands were stained red with it, he could feel the sticky liquid soaking into his clothes, and he could even hear the soft plops as thick drops of it fell from his matted hair and into the growing pool surrounding them. The girl he was still sitting on top of looked even worse than Naruto felt. Her hair, no longer it's usual brilliant pink, was tangled and matted down with blood. A large sliver of bone was protruding from her left shoulder, and the wet gasping sounds she was making were a clear sign that she was choking on her own blood. For a brief second, Naruto was frozen with fear. He had just attacked and nearly killed his classmate, a fellow Konoha citizen, and someone Naruto had, in his dreams at least, considered a friend. "What's wrong with me?"
It was then that Sakura's eyes opened, her right one was an almost sickening shade of red from a burst blood vessel, but it was the look of absolute terror that her eyes held that shook Naruto to his very core. He had always tried so hard to avoid fighting, but now... now he really was the monster everyone claimed him to be.
"Hey! What in Kami's name is going on out here?!" The voice of his academy teacher broke Naruto from his thoughts, and his head immediately swiveled to the door of the building.
"Oh no... Naruto! What the fuck did you do?!" Iruka's strangled cry not only notified the rest of the people in the building, but it jolted Naruto to his senses, and he did the only thing he could think of at the moment. He bolted.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but only Konoha shinobi and registered merchants are permitted to enter the village without subjecting to a search." The chunin guard spoke with no small amount of false cheerfulness as he nodded towards her backpack.
The woman sighed heavily before shrugging off the forest green pack, but instead of handing it over to the chunin, she began digging through one of the side pockets. A few seconds later, she held out what looked like an unusually large wallet covered in black leather. After waving it at the man for a few seconds, she gently tossed it onto the desk in front of him, causing it to flip open as it landed.
Riveted to the inside of the top part of the wallet was a pristinely polished Konoha hitai-ate, while the bottom of the wallet contained a laminated shinobi registration card. The chunin looked at the woman then back at the wallet for a brief moment before raising an eyebrow and pulling it closer to himself. The picture that took up the entire right side of the card was that of a stunning young woman with long dark red hair the color of perfectly ripened pomegranates. The woman in the picture was sporting the same cheeky grin he was currently getting from the person standing in front of him. She was wearing a simple navy shirt and a black pair of pants, and her hair was not nearly as well kept as it was in the image, but it was still plainly obvious that the woman in the picture and the one before him were the same person. In addition to the backpack that she still held in her hands, a long package wrapped tightly in white cloth was strapped across her back. The chunin quickly made note of her possessions before returning his attention once more to her registration card.
"Name: Uzumaki Kushina. Shinobi registration number: 009685. Rank: Special Jounin. Gender: Female. Birthday: July 10th. Age..."
"Say it out loud, and it will be the last thing that you ever speak." Kushina interjected happily as she continued to smile at the chunin as if she had just made a comment about the weather.
"Umm... Age: Undisclosed. Country of Origin: Whirlpool? Excuse me, Uzumaki-san, but I am not aware of a Whirlpool country."
"You wouldn't be. Don't worry, I assure you that that information is accurate."
"Ri-Right... If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll just verify that this information matches what we have on record, and you'll be free to go." The chunin looked down at the register in front of him before sighing heavily. The book he had currently open started with registration number 010000. "This will just take a few minutes." The chunin turned slightly and pulled out a massive tome from the shelf on his right. 'Figures. She's got to be one of only a dozen people alive with a registration number that low, yet I've never even heard of her before. This better not be some kind of prank, or I'm going to skin someone alive...' Plopping the massive book down on top of the one he already had open, he quickly flipped through the pages before finding the appropriate one. 'Uzumaki Kushina, 009685, Special Jounin, July 10th, 37, Whirlpool, MIA, Presumed dead.' The chunin read the page again just to make sure that everything matched before handing the wallet back to the woman in front of him.
"Everything seems to be in order, Uzumaki-san. I'm sorry for the unnecessary delay." The chunin smiled at the woman, but did not let go of the wallet. "If I were to say to you 'The forest dances in the shadow of the light of the fire.' what would your response be?"
"I pray the forest dances forever on, but should the fire burn it down, the forest shall grow anew in time." The woman smiled once more at the man before he finally nodded and let go of the wallet.
"Welcome back, Uzumaki-san. I suspect that it's been quite a long time since you've been home. Please understand that as standard procedure you will be asked to appear at the ANBU headquarters within the next 24 hours for an extended debriefing."
"Thank you. It's good to finally be back." Kushina smiled as she began her trek towards the Hokage tower. 'Sigh... Sometimes keeping up appearances can really suck. At least I'll get to see the old man again. Hell, maybe Ero-kun is around too.' She smiled happily as she walked down the street, remembering all of the happy times that she had had in this place. 'Maybe this wasn't as bad of an idea as I thought it was. I should have done this a decade ago.' Kushina chuckled at her own stupid paranoia before she glanced up and caught sight of the Hokage monument and was forced to ruthlessly force her feelings deep into the pit of her stomach. 'Scratch that. This was a horrible idea. I'll just go and say hi to the old man and then get going again. There's nothing here for me but pain anyway.'
The Hokage sighed through his steepled fingers as he looked out over the village he had sworn to protect. Over the years Sarutobi Hiruzen had dealt with many things, but the conversation he expected to have in a few short minutes would likely be the most difficult thing he'd have to do in his career.
"Alright, Sensei, I'm here. What was so damn important that you had to interrupt my research and order me back to the village?" Jiraiya shouted as he opened the door to the Hokage's office and let it slam closed behind him.
Sarutobi turned around in his chair and smiled at the man in front of him before picking up a small deep blue scroll off his desk and tossing it at his former student. "I thought that you'd like to see this..."
"What? Why in Kami's name would I want to be here reading some scroll when I can be out researching?"
"Just look at the scroll Jiraiya..." Sarutobi sighed. 'Sometimes I wish he'd give up on that stupid research of his... Then I could name him my successor and get back to my retirement.'
Jiraiya pulled open the scroll and briefly scanned it's contents before his eyes widened and he read the whole thing from top to bottom twice. "Sensei, is this real?"
"Yes, it appears to be authentic. As you can see, it's been signed with an ANBU cypher that we used during the last war. It was even properly altered to take into account the date it was written, so yes, I'd say I'm reasonably certain that it's legitimate."
"I... I... I thought she was dead..." Jiraiya whispered as he stared down at the paper.
"Yes, I did as well. It would appear that is not the case, however."
"When is she supposed to get to the village?"
"Oh... About twenty minutes ago according to a rather confused gate guard. Apparently she's still carrying around her honorary hitai-ate and it was the first one that the guard had ever come across."
"Twenty minutes ago?! Why are you just telling me this now?"
"Jiraiya... I contacted you almost two weeks ago about this. You're the one who decided to take their sweet time in getting here."
"Ya, well, I didn't know it was about this!" Jiraiya shouted as he waved the scroll around. He was so caught up with what he had just read that he did not hear the door open and close behind him.
"It's so nice to know that you still care, Ero-kun."
"Wha?!" Jiraiya nearly jumped out of his skin as he spun around, only to come face to face with the woman he had thought was dead for almost a decade. "Kushi-chan?! Is that really you?" Before she could even respond, the man had scooped her up into his arms and given her a bone-crushing hug.
"Yes, yes. It's me, Jiraiya. Now could you please put me down?" Kushina gave him one of her stupid grins before turning towards Hiruzen. "It's good to see you, Old Man."
"It's very good to see you as well, Kushina-chan. Forgive me for not sending word to you sooner, but until you had sent that message we all thought you to be dead. You really must regale us with the tale of where you've been for the past twelve years. I'm sure it'd be quite interesting." Hiruzen smiled warmly at the woman in front of him as he watched as her smile reached her eyes briefly for the first time since she'd entered. 'She never could resist telling a story. Looks like she hasn't changed one bit.'
"Where to begin with that... I guess I should start with why I left... It was just after Minato-kun left with Naruto-chan to go do whatever it was he was planning on doing, and one of the medics walked in... She handed me this..." Kushina dug through her pack for a moment before pulling out a bloody and scratched hitai-ate. "It's Minato-kun's... The medic said that he and Naruto-chan were... were... dead." Kushina sniffled for a minute before regaining her control and continuing. "So I left. I'm not that proud about what I did, but there wasn't anything else left for me here. After that, I headed back to my home village, or what was left of it. I spent the next ten years or so salvaging what I could, trying to rebuild my life. It wasn't much of a living, but it helped me cope. No offense or anything, but I just did not want to have anything to do with Konoha for a long, long, time."
"None taken, Kushina-chan, but why come back now?"
"I had nothing else to do... After some thinking I realized that I still had a few friends here, and I finally felt that I could come back without breaking down..." Kushina was going to say that she couldn't stay, but the look of relief and happiness in the old man's eyes had prevented her. She couldn't do that to him...
"Kushi-chan... The medics told us you died in childbirth..."
"What?! No, I left on my own. Hell, I even had the medic's blessing to go! Why would they tell you I was dead?"
"Why indeed..." Sarutobi mumbled as he took a long puff on his ever present pipe.
"Kushi-chan... There's... Umm... There's something you need to know... About Naruto... He's... Well, he's alive." Jiraiya winced as Kushina rounded on him in an instant.
"What?! My Naru-chan... My son is... He's alive?!" Kushina walked right up into Jiraiya's face. "So help me Kami, Jiraiya, if this is one of your stupid jokes..." Before she could finish the sentence, however, Jiraiya had his arms wrapped around her protectively.
"No joke, Kushi-chan. He's alive."
"He's alive... He's really alive..." Jiraiya glared over the top of the sobbing woman in his arms at the Hokage. 'Alright, Sensei... I told her. Now it's your turn to break the news...'
"Kushina... There's something you need to know about Naruto-kun... Minato's last attack didn't kill the Kyuubi. It sealed it's chakra inside of a newborn child.... Naruto."
"What?" Kushina sniffled as she looked over her shoulder towards the man who was as good as a father to her. "You didn't just say that Naru-chan has a demon inside of him... I misheard you, right? Please tell me I just misheard you."
"No... I'm afraid that you did not. Naruto is the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, and I'm afraid that it has made his life quite difficult. Minato wanted him to be seen as a hero, and I tried as hard as I could to make that happen, but fear and pain are hard to let go of, and once word got out that the boy had the demon inside of him... Well, let's just say that quite a few people wanted to take revenge for the lives that the Kyuubi had taken from them."
"I... I want to see my son." Kushina sobbed. All of this was getting to be too much.
"I will make sure that you do shortly, but I think that it's important that you understand everything that has happened to your son since you've been gone." Hiruzen sighed as he slid a thick folder across his desk towards the still sniffling woman.
"What's this?" Kushina asked as she walked over and picked up the folder gently.
"That is a copy of Naruto's record."
Kushina opened the file and gasped at the image that was paper clipped onto the top of the first page. "He looks just like Minato-kun..."
Hiruzen smiled at the woman. 'The first thing she noticed was that he was his father's son. She didn't even register the marks on his cheeks or the bruises in that picture. Perhaps this will be good for the both of them.'
"Why is his last name Uzumaki? He was Minato's son... He should be a Namikaze." Kushina looked up from the file to stare at the Hokage.
"We thought it best to hide his identity... Please understand, Kushina. Minato had a lot of enemies..."
"That's not why you did it." Kushina's voice was hard, almost cold, as she spoke. "You did it because you didn't want the village to figure out that the 'demon' was from one of the greatest clans this village has ever seen."
"That... That was part of my reasoning, yes. I will not pretend that I am not ashamed of what I've done, Kushina, but I did it to protect this village. The villagers were panicky, and finding out that the Kyuubi was sealed inside of a Namikaze would have caused rioting in the streets..."
Kushina was about to open her mouth to demand that his name be changed, but was interrupted by a chunin administration ninja bursting through the door.
"Excuse the interruption, Hokage-sama, but we have a serious issue."
"What is it?" Sarutobi sighed inwardly. He did not need more trouble today.
"It's about Uzumaki, sir." The chunin spoke as he eyed the company in the room. Usually, the Hokage dealt with most of the incidents that involved the boy alone.
"Yes? What about me?" Kushina asked as she looked at the chunin curiously. 'I don't think I've ever met him before, and no one knows I'm here, so what in the world is going on?'
The chunin gave the strange woman with red hair an odd look before continuing. "Sir, Uzumaki Naruto has critically injured one of his classmates and fled the scene. Shall I send an ANBU team to apprehend him?"
"WHAT?!" Kushina screamed before she lunged at the chunin and pinned him to the wall in a shower of paper from Naruto's discarded record. "What did you just say about my son?!"
"Kushi-chan... Put the poor man down." Jiraiya spoke as he put his hand on her shoulder, but Kushina just tightened her grip on the chunin.
"You will tell me what you just said again, and you will do so NOW!" Kushina glared at the chunin who gulped before finally repeating what he had said.
"Uzumaki Naruto attacked, and critically wounded, one Haruno Sakura in what appears to be an unprovoked attack shortly after the release of school this afternoon. The girl is in critical condition and has suffered numerous injuries including a broken nose, two broken ribs, a punctured lung, internal bleeding, and numerous cuts and bruises."
"Thank you, Sohai-san, I will see to the issue personally. Please inform Haruno-san's parents that I will be visiting them both, as well as their daughter, in the hospital shortly." The Hokage spoke as Sohai scrambled out of the room the second Kushina let go of him.
Kushina immediately began digging through her pack, before finally fishing out a porcelain mask that was covered in swirls painted in various shades of blues. From a distance, it almost looked like the rolling surf of a wave breaking on rocks.
"Kushina... What are you doing?" Sarutobi asked cautiously. 'She only gets serious like this when she's angry, or about to do something stupid... I'm not really sure which one would be better right now...'
"I'm going to go get my son." Kushina spoke softly as she finished putting her hair into a single massive ponytail and pulled the mask down over her face. "Kami knows what you people have been doing to him to make him do... well do that to a poor girl, but I'm going to find out." Kushina finished as she tossed her Konoha hitai-ate onto the Hokage's desk. "I don't think that I'll be needing that anymore."
Before either man could comment, she had already jumped out of the window and was out of sight.
"... That could have gone better."
Summery of 'the scene': For those of you who skipped the scene mentioned in my note at the top of the story, here's what happened (minus most of the violence).
"Come on, Sakura! Please? Just this one time. It would make me really happy!" Naruto smiled at the pink-haired girl in front of him. He had managed to catch her in the academy courtyard and stall long enough that there weren't many other people around.
"NO! " Sakura shouted before punching him in the head. Honestly, Naruto wasn't even sure why he tried anymore. It was kind of degrading, following her around like some sort of sick puppy.
"Just one little date? I won't tell anyone! I'll even go disguised!" Naruto forced the smile into his voice with all the grace and subtlety of using an explosive tag to start a campfire. This just set the pink-haired girl off again, and he soon found himself crashing into the hard packed dirt. 'Why the hell do I put up with all of this again? Oh right, she's the only one who even reacts to anything I do anymore...' That had to count for something, right?
"NO! NO! NO! " Sakura screeched, punctuating each word with another punch.
"Do you need me to explain it to you? Are you really that stupid that you need me to beat the words into that thick skull of yours?" Sakura was screaming now. Usually she only vented at him for a few seconds before her more rational side took control and she removed herself from his presence, but for some reason it just didn't kick in like usual. 'He just had to pick today of all days to start this crap up again! And right after Sasuke-kun refused my invitation to dinner too!'
"You're stupid. You're lazy. You're a horrible excuse for a ninja. Why in Kami's name would anyone ever go out with you, let alone me?" Each sentence was punctuated by another punch, and truthfully the ringing sound in his head was really starting to get to him.
"I Hate You!" Sakura raised her fist to strike again, but the blond boy caught her fist. Sakura gasped as she watched the brilliant blue of the boy's eyes bleed away as his pupils became slitted and feral, thick strands of crimson red flowing into them like dye poured into a glass of water. The sudden change in his eyes caught her completely by surprise, and she never registered the crippling blow to her stomach until she was on her back.
"I HATE YOU! " Naruto screamed as he followed the girl to the ground, cocking back his fist as he went. "Years! Years I've been trying to get you to notice me! All I wanted was to get to know you! That's it!" Naruto shouted as he continued to punch the girl. "I just wanted to be your friend! But no! You were too busy fawning over the almighty Uchiha to care! All you ever did was hit me! I'm not some punching back for you to take out your emotional stress on!" Naruto's punch slammed into the girl's stomach, causing Sakura to groan in pain, and it was then that Naruto finally realized what he was doing.
"Oh Kami..." Naruto looked down at the girl he was sitting on top of. For a brief second, Naruto was frozen with fear. He had just attacked and nearly killed his classmate, a fellow Konoha citizen, and someone Naruto had, in his dreams at least, considered a friend. "What's wrong with me?"
It was then that Sakura's eyes opened, the absolute terror that her eyes held shook Naruto to his very core. He had always tried so hard to avoid fighting, but now... now he really was the monster everyone claimed him to be.
"Hey! What in Kami's name is going on out here?!" The voice of his academy teacher broke Naruto from his thoughts, and his head immediately swiveled to the door of the building.
"Oh no... Naruto! What the hell did you do?!" Iruka's strangled cry not only notified the rest of the people in the building, but it jolted Naruto to his senses, and he did the only thing he could think of. He bolted.
Not much to add to my original note, but I did add some more fluff and fix some of the flow issues with the original chapter. As always, feel free to leave a review, and constructive criticism is always welcome.
Disclaimer:I do not in any way, shape, or form condone violence. Naruto snaps in this chapter, and rather viciously at that. This is the reason why the story is rated M. I, personally, have nothing but the utmost respect for human life, but sadly Naruto has been pushed too far and by far too many people. Please understand that the actions taken by the character in no way reflect my own beliefs. Thanks.
*Sets some more plot bunny traps* Honestly, I've got way too many of these damn things running around in my head these days. Anyways, please let me know if you want this story to continue by reviewing. I have plenty to write about with both Butterfly and Warriors of Fate, and I'm not going to devote time and energy to further chapters of this story if there isn't enough interest. With that said, I do have the entire basic story fleshed out already, and could easily continue it if people find it interesting enough.
If I do end up continuing the story in a reasonable time frame, the main pairing (as you've probably guessed by the section it's under) will be Naruto and Temari. I realized the other day that there are surprisingly few good NaruMari fics, and well, I can't resist a good challenge. However, there is a reason for that, and that's that it usually takes quite a bit of work to actually get the two characters to meet, and sadly this story will be no different. The first NaruMari scene in the story isn't for at least 3-4 chapters, if not more, but it will be very much worth it when it happens.
How do you guys like this version of Naruto? I played around with an angsty version of the boy in Butterfly, but for Eye of the Storm I decided to go with something a little different. Instead of Butterfly's obviously traumatized version, I opted for a more bottled up rage kind of thing. I know he comes off a little strong, but I really wanted you guys to feel what his life was like, and why exactly Naruto runs away from Konoha. Also, for those of you turned off by the 'beating' scene, I promise that scene is the only one like that that shows up in the entire story (at least that I have planed, and if another does show up, it will have a disclaimer just like this one has). I just needed a really strong motivator to get Naruto out of the village, and I already used up the "Kyuubi told me to" idea with Butterfly. If it did offend you, I apologize, but I did warn you at the beginning of the chapter, as well as just before the scene, so it's kind of your own fault XD
Lastly, I have nothing against Sakura. In fact, she's my favorite pairing for Naruto, but I've gotten tired of the usual representations of the girl, so I'm trying something a bit different here. I'm not intentionally bashing her, just shaking up the character a bit.
Anyway, I'm off to go slam my head into the massive writer's block I'm having with WoF now...
Bunshin no Jutsu: Clone Technique
Other Terms :
Ita – Literally "Ouch" or "Ow"
Jinchuuriki – Literally "power of human sacrifice" It's a reference to the people who have a demon sealed inside of them.
Kyuubi no Kitsune – Nine-tailed Fox
Sohai – While it's used as a name in the story, it literally means "unimportant" or "small fry"