Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Summary: The moment he took them in, Pain knew he was cursed. But such a curse was unlike any other. How can he hope for it not, if that's exactly what he's missing? Prequel to "Breaking the confinement"
Warning: violence, crime, language
BtC: Questionable decision
It was eerie outside. Sky was dark, nothing but lightning illuminating glum clouds and the white walls of a hospital room no. 139. Another lightning struck, drumming its power only after five seconds with a loud crack; however, its massive power did nothing to stir two motionless figures lying in separate beds. White sheets were pulled over their bodies, covering their faces and hiding those horrible wounds which Nagato had no need for visual confirmation. He knew what had happened to those two people. …people? Only a few of those he actually knew by heart and dared call friends. The pulsing line of a heart monitor had long since gone still and flat, creating a silent, yet disturbingly loud sound inside the room. Nagato's eyes closed shut, his fists curling by his side as he stood in the doorway of the room. The blood of the perpetrators dripping from his hands and onto the expensive tiles of the hospital floor wasn't enough to sedate the rage he felt. He had paid those fuckers back for what they had done to his friends with interest, but it still wasn't enough to stop the pain he felt in his heart. He gripped his shirt near the chest. Minato, his dear and only friend, and Kushina, his distant relative, were dead.
"How long are you planning to sit here, Nagato?" Nagato raised his head from his hands, his back still feeling the cold surface of a tombstone pressing against his back. It was Jiraiya standing in front of him with an umbrella in hand. Nagato didn't even realize it had started to rain. The funeral ceremony had ended a while ago now, he just didn't notice. His body and emotions had completely shut down since that day, he didn't know what to feel or think.
Jiraiya sighed, he understood the man's feelings, it wasn't easy for him to have gained the very first friend just to lose him right afterwards. But he couldn't just stand there and see his pupil curl inside himself and die completely. Nagato already lacked emotions but for him to give up on life itself was something Jiraiya couldn't allow him. Roaming his coat pocket, he smiled as he found the searched item. He really hoped the news would brighten the man's mood, even if just a little. "I have a message to give you."
Nagato's eyebrows furrowed as his sensei presented him a slip of paper. 'That handwriting.' Nagato quickly took the paper once he recognized the black ink characters scribbled in familiar writing. It was from Minato. A relatively small and insignificant piece of torn paper that could fit no more than a sentence held words that shook his entire world. Was that a dying request?
'Nagato, please, keep my boys safe'
Nagato wasn't a person who lacked confidence and he had long since forgotten what fear is… but it was all just empty presumptions of his mind. Never had he thought that things would come to this… For he, a person of such instability and danger, was to become a guardian of two children.
Following Jiraiya inside the police station, which he felt sick upon entering itself, he soon found himself sitting next to his teacher inside the chief's office. What was he doing here? What was going on? He didn't spare a moment to even think thoroughly before he agreed to follow through with this ordeal. After all, isn't it what Minato wanted him to do?
Conversation between Jiraiya and the policeman was small; nothing but a quick greeting and a confirmation settlement of a few custody papers was conversed over. All that's left was for Nagato to plant his signature upon the papers and his destiny would be sealed.
Nagato stared at the words in the document laid out in front of him – hereby… shall be… vested… permanent care… custody… children… agreed… – he could almost feel those words cutting his skin, as if tasting his endurance and wondering if he was worthy enough to gain such privilege.
'Privilege? Is that what this really is?' Nagato wanted to laugh, he'd rather use another name for it – a curse. With that thought in mind, Nagato grabbed the pen and with a fluent flick of his wrist he sealed the deal in black ink. Only when those papers – with his actual name and real signature – were taken from his reach did he realize what he had done. He was cursed.
"Congratulations! You are now an official guardian of Namikaze Kyuubi and Namikaze Naruto. Keep those two safe and out of trouble." The chief bid them farewell with a smile and a handshake.
"Count on it, chief. I will keep an eye on him and make sure he does a great job. Hahaha…"
Nagato didn't even hear half of Jiraiya's words as his eyes zoomed in on two children sleeping silently side by side in a room across from the chief's office. From this moment onwards those children belong to him. He didn't even know what he was supposed to be feeling at the moment. All he knew now was that he was utterly unprepared for this.
After collecting the kids and having Jiraiya help get them inside his flat, Nagato finally took a seat next to his desk and sank in deep thoughts. His life wasn't anything to gloat about and the apartment he lived in was no high-class; but he had all that he needed. He had lived alone for a long while now and had little to any need for broad accessories. However now…. Nagato sighed to himself as his eyes turned away from the sleeping children. 'This might become a problem' Considering the late changes, he'd probably need to rethink his entire life's settlement – starting with the place and settlement. 'We're going to have to move to a bigger spot.'
It was long since past midnight and not once had Nagato closed his eyes to rest. The children were still asleep in his bed. Their constant moans and groans of displeasure had Nagato's eyes turn to them more than once. Could he really do it? Was he capable enough to take care of those two? He was aware that before Minato's death he had been designated as their godfather and had given them enough attention whenever he came by. But now… it was completely different now! They weren't distant anymore. They were going to live with him, eat with him, walk with him, and…
Nagato suddenly looked at his hands as red flashed before his eyes. Visually his hands were clean, but the things they've done…. He suddenly felt an urge to wash them once more. He wasn't a pure being. He was nothing like Minato or Kushina. He wasn't nice, compassionate or gentle. He didn't have a decent job, a peaceful life or a healthy lifestyle. He was a criminal…
"Damn it, Minato! What have you done!?" enraged, Nagato grabbed a glass sitting on his desk and threw it against the wall. The glass shattered with a loud crash. A gasp and sudden movement on the bed made Nagato quickly look at the boys and realize his error.
Naruto and Kyuubi were startled awake. Their eyes incredibly wide and bloodshot. They were stilled in silence, breathing unevenly and panicked.
"Kids…" Nagato calmly rose from the chair. He could see his movements alerting the children even more. Kyuubi was quick to grab his brother and press him close to his side; his eyes filled with fear, yet determination to protect the younger if necessary.
"Wh-who…" Nagato heard Naruto murmur under his nose, unable to proceed out of fear.
Stepping closer to the bed, Nagato slowly reached for the nightstand and flicked the light on. Naruto hid his face in his brother's shirt while Kyuubi flinched in startle before a surprised expression emerged as the shadowed form was finally revealed. "…Naga-chan."
Nagato felt a bit relieved. They recognized him, that was good; but what now? 'What am I supposed to say now?' Solemn, he sat on the edge of the bed, lowering his eyes when he saw tears soon appear in Kyuubi's eyes. The boy was remembering everything that happened. 'How can I? Damn you, Minato… how can I take care of this? I'm not…' His inner turmoil dissolved as a sudden weight jumped on him and grasped at his clothing. He had only a second to look down at Naruto's shaking form before he felt Kyuubi grasp him around the neck and bury his face into his junction. The twins cried. They were clinging to him and crying so loud that their sorrow reached his own somewhat faded emotions. Nagato clenched his eyes tight and grit his teeth in pain to stop himself from releasing those emotions. He encircled his hands around the shaking boys' backs and embraced them closer. This was the worst pain he had ever felt in his life.
So, this story takes place before the "Breaking the confinement". In a way, it is as a prequel to it, but can also be read without any need for reference. Hope you'll enjoy it ;))