Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto!
He felt ill in every crevice of his body, sneaking around his own home in the middle of the night. Softly, he pulled the front door to his home open and slipped into the silent night. He darted across the roofs, blending with the shadows and allowing the moonlight to illuminate his path. If there was every an absolute truth in this godforsaken world, it was that he hated this.
The man stared at him, a dangerous and calculating glint in his eye. Finally he spoke, "There's no other way, we've exhausted all other options. Your cousin even tried – "
The boy, emboldened by desperation, cut him off, "No, there must be another way. I cannot – I will not do what you are asking of me." He curled his hands into fists and tried to disguise his fury – and his despair.
Danzou gave a low laugh. "The other option is a civil war, Uchiha. You best make your decision."
Until now, the other man in the room had remained silent. Thin lips were pursed and he gave a long exhale. "I'm sorry, we tried, we really did. But the situation has become too dire – we need to take action now!"
The boy spun on his feet, facing the man who had spoken. Eyes a glaring red, teeth clenched, he lifted his finger and pointed at him accusingly. "You promised it wouldn't have to come to this! Do you understand want you are suggesting? There are children – my brother... What about my brother?"
The man shook his head and made his way over to the boy. He placed a large hand upon his shoulder in what was intended to be a reassuring gesture. "Your brother will be spared and protected. This I promise."
The boy bowed his head in acquiescence.
"Tomorrow, it will be done," said the man, a resigned tenor to his voice.
In less than 24 hours, everything would change. The boy stared up into the sky, silently willing the sun to stay afloat for an hour longer, a minute longer, a second longer. He had been in the training grounds, physically preparing himself for what promised to be an arduous night. Now that his cousin had left him, he was alone and now was psychologically preparing himself – if such a thing could be possible. He recalled the solemn words of his father, if you can distance yourself from emotions, you eliminate the most persistent of obstacles. How he wished he could. The boy reluctantly removed his gaze from the sky and closed his eyes – perhaps some meditation would calm him.
Wailing. He could hear incessant wailing. The boy scrunched his eyes and attempted to remain focused on his breathing. But that cursed wailing was getting louder by the second. If he listened hard enough, he could detect laughter – a mocking, jeering laughter amidst bawling. He sighed and resigned himself to ending the source of this noise.
Upon finding the source, he was presented with a rather strange finding. A group of young boys – perhaps his age or younger – were clustered around a battered and small-looking child. They were located in a secluded alley, away from the main bustling streets of Konoha. The boys emitted gleeful sounds of derisive laughter, while launching small pebbles at the child, a girl. At this, the boy reasoned that their amusement at her expense hurt more than the physical punishment of the rocks.
The girl was crouched low on the ground, her cries reduced to pitiful whimpering and sniffles. She used an arm as a protective covering for her face, and the other hand was grasping wildly at the boys around her. Perhaps, she was searching for something?
The boy tilted his head and regarded a tormentor who had an arm raised away from the reaches of the girl – in his fist, he clutched a bright, red ribbon.
"Is this necessary?" The boy spoke softly, his head slightly tilted as he watched the reactions of children before him.
The girl raised her head, wide eyes locking with his and he noted how young she was. An easy target for the abusers.
One of the other children spoke up, face twisting scornfully, "Mind your own business – got nothing to do with you, yeah?"
The girl was long forgotten, their attention had already shifted and the tormentors surrounded the new arrival – for only a fool would dare challenge a group of rowdy boys alone. They did not notice the boy's easy grace, his unperturbed stance, or his aura of indifference. They saw a challenge and eagerly rose to accept it.
It was too easy for the boy – they posed a minute threat, barely registering on his radar. If the girl had been any other age, the boy would not have even bothered. But it was only too simple to swap her presence for the boy's little brother. And he would never, under any circumstances, leave his little brother to fend for himself in such a situation. So the boy sighed, and raised his gaze to meet those of the instigators.
His eyes flashed red and that was all that was needed.
They were lounging in the park – a boy of no less than thirteen and a girl of no more than eight. The pair made quite a sight – a paradigm of the utmost juxtaposition. The girl filled with brightness, life and vivacity. Her coloring lustrous and loud. Her smiles, wide and shining. She pranced around him, her laughter and words filling the air melodically. The boy held onto a brooding aura which gave hints of a simmering rage just beneath the surface. His movements, slow, graceful and calculated. His scarce voice carried a hard edge to it.
Others around him were acutely aware of him, but the girl? No, she remained oblivious. Her portrait of him already painted and framed.
The girl said his name. "You really should smile more," she said, a scolding tone in her voice.
He indulged her and forced a small smile to slide onto his face. "Is that better?"
"It could be bigger."
"It really couldn't." The boy stood suddenly, eager to remove this persistent pest from his hair. He reached for her hand. "Come now, I'll take you home to your parents – you just need to show me the way."
She grinned and laced her chubby fingers through his. Dirt smears covered her hand, but he didn't seem to mind too much. The girl began to pull on their intertwined fingers, tugging him in the direction of her home.
As they neared her house, the atmosphere became noticeably more oppressive. Was it due to the girl's unwillingness to part with her newfound friend or was it due to the boy's silent contemplation of the dipping sun?
The girl spoke softly, her words nervous, "Do you notice... Do you notice how the other villagers avoid us? It's been this way since this afternoon."
The boy saw no danger in imparting more than what was necessary – seeing that his minutes were numbered in this village. "They are smart to be afraid."
"Afraid? Afraid of what?"
His words were spoken so quietly the girl almost didn't catch them. "Why should they be?" She wondered aloud, innocence evident in her question.
"Even if they do not know yet, they can sense what I am. How me and those alike me are a blight to this village. More of a danger than an asset. Something to be watched and feared, rather than respected and revered. And now it is too late," he explained, although more to himself than anyone else.
At this point, the girl was confused at what was causing her friend such distress. "I don't fear you. You saved me from those bullies!"
"Because you don't understand yet. And I only did what I had to do."
Not understanding his line of reasoning, the girl stopped abruptly, her small fists on her hips. "That doesn't make sense. You could have walked away and ignored it. Other people did!"
"I only did what was right."
"See? That's what makes you different from others!" The girl had a large grin plastered on her face, as if she had reached some life altering epiphany. "You always have a choice. And I know you will always choose the right one!" In her newly discovered universal truth, she threw her arms around the boy in a hug.
Never in his childhood – if it could be considered such a thing – had anyone other than his brother displayed such undisguised and pure affection towards him. Really, the girl's personality and his brother were almost interchangeable. He gave a rare genuine smile, not that she could see it, as he was a significant portion taller than her. "And what is the right thing to do?" He asked, deciding he wanted to hear more of her train of thought.
"To protect your precious people, of course," she replied, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world.
At this, the corner of the boy's lips tugged downwards. He thought of his stern father, his warm mother and lastly of his innocent brother. His thoughts drifted towards the impending night, the sun already beginning its quick descent beyond the horizon. He thought of his options and the man's words yesterday. He thought of his future and concluded that he couldn't really see it. "And what if you can't protect all of them?"
In her absolute naivety she responded, "Then you're simply not trying hard enough."
And that is the story of how a pink haired child saved the lives of hundreds and altered the life of one.
A/N: This is a project for the summer, something I'm doing for personal enjoyment. But if it brings other people joy then so be it. Send me a message if I have any typos or grammatical mistakes please! I tried to catch all of them.
Not too sure where I want this fanfic to go yet – we'll see when we get there I guess!