Title: Faith Arc
- Faith in Humanity (PG-13)
Summary: AU. What if Narito survived a murder attempt on his life at the age of 6 and had to leave Konoha for his protection. Now 12, Naruto and Jiraiya returns to face the genin test.
Warning: Naruto OOC. No pairings as of yet – don't know if I'll have any. PG-13. Somewhat dark version of Naruto, very cynical and cold. This prologue is VERY DARK! Not for the faint hearted. No blood and gore but a lot of psychological attack, suicide, murder.
===== means "Change of Scene"
Naruto gazed avidly through the window at the children playing happily in the park across his home. Home, that's what he called it. It was a small and empty apartment. What did you expect when the only inhabitant was a six-year-old boy with messy blonde hair and sad blue eyes that almost reflected his soul's emptiness.
I just don't understand. Why do they hate me so? What did I do wrong?
He had asked himself that question for a very VERY long time. Ever since he could remember, he had tried everything to befriend those around him, trying to find at least one person willing to be with him, even if it was only for a short amount of time. All attempts have failed. If he walked towards a group of kids, they would either walk away or be dragged away by their parents. If he waited in the playground for them to return, they would come, see him there on the swing and leave once again. He even tried to walk from house to house to introduce himself. All that ever brought him was angry glares that he knew he didn't deserve or cold contempt and asked icily to leave the premises and never come back.
The child of six sighed again, trying to will away the tears and to ignore the giant black hole that was currently consuming his heart.
Even my nanny couldn't stand me.
The child thought about his previous guardian. A young lady of 20 or so, she looked after him for the past 3 years. That is, if "looking after" was the word that described her actions. She rarely came to visit him, if only on the weekends to see if he was still alive. Brought lots of instant ramen and other groceries for him, then left him to his own boiling of water and cooking of meals. He had learnt from an early age that he had no one to depend on, only himself. So even at the young age of 4 or 5, she had already taught him how to go to the Laundromats for washing clothes, how to clean up the house and how to sew ripped clothes. She didn't exactly teach him much though, only ordering him around and showing him the basics. He sort of missed her. For a better part of 3 years, she was his only companion. Though she always ignored his attempts at conversation and stayed at least a meter away from his physical presence. And then, a few months before, she had quit her position and left Konoha without telling him or even the Hokage.
Now, he lived alone, completely alone.
A soft knock on his door startled the young boy. No one had ever visited him in his apartment before, even his previous nanny had just barged in, so he was unaccustomed to the sound. A second knock made him realize he wasn't dreaming and he ran towards the doorway and slid the doors open. Outside his door revealed the third Hokage and another woman he had never seen before.
Naruto, happy that he had actually gotten guests in his house, silently ushered both of them in and tried to make them comfortable, sitting on his old and ragged couch.
The third Hokage smiled gently at Naruto, though a gleam of sadness was clearly reflected from his old and wise eyes. Still so innocent and pure. How much longer can this child stand the loneliness?The Hokage broke off his musings with a slight shake of his head and went straight to the point.
"Naruto." Naruto looked up at the Hokage.
"This," indicating the woman sitting next to him, "is Mrs. Tanuki. She is your new guardian and baby sitter."
Naruto smiled brilliantly at that statement. Finally, someone who would stay with me and look after me!!He then turned towards the kindly looking old lady. She had curly white hair all bundled on top of her head and was wearing a traditional kimono. She smiled and nodded towards him and he nodded back in silent greeting.
After a few more minutes of discussion, the Hokage left, leaving Naruto and his new caretaker still sitting in the lounge. Naruto shifted nervously on his seat. This was his only chance at gaining a friend, maybe even a family member. He had to be on his very best behavior.
Mrs. Tanuki smiled at him again and said in the gentlest tone possible: "It's getting late, maybe you should take a nap, Naruto." Naruto smiled at the old lady again, nodded and went silently to take said nap. If he had turned around at that moment, he would have seen the gentle smile on the old lady's face disappear to form an ugly sneer.
That night, Naruto
had another nightmare. He dreamt of those same villagers that hated him, despised
him, wanting to kill him. He could feel their angry fingers closed around
his throat, choking him, stealing away his oxygen.
I CAN'T BREATHE!!!He realized.
It's just a dream! It's just a dream! It'sjustadream!! It'sjustadream!! It'sjustadream!!He mentally repeated that phrase to himself.
I STILL CAN'T BREATHE!!!Naruto panicked.
I've got to wake up! WAKE UP!
Naruto forced his eyes wide open, quickly adjusting to the dark of the night and saw something that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
He wasn't just dreaming about being choked to death. He was being choked to death. And by none other than the nice old lady sitter that he had just met that afternoon. Though she no longer looked nice at all. Mrs. Tanuki's hair was out of its usual bun, and it framed wildly around her, making her look like a mad witch. Her eyes too, were wide but with a small pupil, enlarging the area of her green irises, making her look even more insane. Her breath was shallow and harsh as if she was taking away his breathing. Her lips curled into a nasty and cruel sneer and she watched the young Naruto turn even paler and desperately gasping for air.
Naruto's panicked mind realized another assessment. Mrs. Tanuki is trying to kill me! I.. I.. I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die!!He started struggling to get out of her grip. She tightened her hands around his throat, leaving a very painful and visible mark there.
Suddenly, a violent rage erupted through out Naruto's body.
I WILL NOT DIE BY SUCH A DEVIOUS HANDS!!!
Naruto felt a sudden
lurch of strength and energy. He kicked Mrs. Tanuki away, forcing her to release
his bruised throat. She toppled backward by his powerful kick, knocking against
the walls and slid down to the floor. A small trickle of blood rained down
While she was down for the moment, Naruto took in full gulps of sweet air. He pressed his hands on his bruised throat and can feel the juncture where she had strangled him. After catching some of his breath, he asked her, wincing at the harsh and raw tone of voice due to his sore throat. "Why?"
Mrs. Tanuki slowly sat up from her position on the ground. She raised her head to meet him in the eye. Naruto gasped at the raw anger and raging hatred being openly displayed in her eyes. She opened her bleeding lips and sent an icy remark back at him. "Because you killed my husband and my sons."
Confused and frightened, Naruto huddled into himself more. After all, he was only 6 years old, what could he have done to hurt Mrs. Tanuki's husband and sons. It didn't make any sense to him at all.
As if sensing his confusion, Mrs. Tanuki gave him a cruel smirk and told him the secret of his birth. "You are the creature known as the Nine Tails Demon Fox. The destroyer of thousands of lives and very nearly destroyed Konohagekure 6 years ago. That (She spat in hatred) beast killed my husband and all four of my sons!! THAT MONSTER slaughtered all of them!! And IT is sealed inside YOU!! YOU ARE THAT KYUUBI NO YOKAI!!"
Naruto shuddered even more, shaking violently, trying to deny her accusation and yet knowing, deep down inside of him, that the villagers all had to have a reason to hate him. They all must have a reason for neglecting him, hating him, wishing for his death. And now, he knew the truth.
"You are a burden on everyone here."
Naruto started to shake his head in denial.
"It would be better if you're dead."
Now knowing the truth, Naruto was not sure if that wasn't the correct solution after all. He would no longer need to hurt anymore.
"You've been lied to all your life."
Heart rate increasing rapidly, breath coming in short, shallow gasps.
"You killed so many people, and ruined so many lives."
Shuddering violently, whether in denial or fear or shock, Naruto didn't know anymore. And in a way, he didn't care, he just wanted it to stop.
"You are a creature that doesn't... no, SHOULDN'T exist."
Is she right? Should I just die? Do I not deserve to exist? Does no one care?
"No one will ever accept you for what you are. YOU MONSTER!!! DEMON!! HELL SPAWN!!!"
Naruto shut his eyes tightly, feeling Mrs. Tanuki's old, bony hands clutch around his sore throat again. This time, it would end. This time, he wouldn't stop her, no matter what.
To Naruto, it was an eternity. He felt his life literary being squeezed out of him. His lungs burned for fresh air, any fresh air, and yet his hands hung lose by his side. It would all be over soon anyway. Darkness crept into the corners of his eyes, he wasn't even sure if he still had them opened anymore. He felt his heart falter over several beats as it started slowing down due to not having enough air to keep it beating. Only a little while more, and he would no longer need to hurt. Naruto lost consciousness.
That was all he felt.
Is hell supposed to be so dark? I don't think heaven would let a monster such as myself go in, would it? What is this place?
Slowly but surely, conscious thought returned to him. And for a moment, he was bombarded by sensory overload. His eyes hurt. His throat hurt. His ears were ringing. Every time he breathes in, it hurts.
Wait! Breathe! I'm breathing?!
Indeed, Naruto realized he was still breathing, though each haggard breath was causing more pain than relief. That was when he noticed a sound. The sound was soft and muffled, as if far away. But when Naruto concentrated on it, he realized it was someone calling him, someone close.
"Don't die! Don't die! Breathe! Breathe, Naruto!"
Who could possibly want me alive? Who would care?..
After a while of listening to the voice he didn't recognize continue, asking him not to give up hope, not to let go and die. Naruto was really curious as to who his would be savior was. After all, if he was still alive, that basically meant that someone had saved him, right? Painfully slow, Naruto forced open one of his eyelids.
He saw.. he saw a boy of around 16, above him. The boy was the one who was currently encouraging him to breathe smoothly, while he underwent the resuscitation techniques on Naruto. The boy realized Naruto had opened an eye and was looking at him. He smiled in relief; glad his young charge had made it.
Who are you?Naruto thought.
Though he didn't want to, Naruto fell into unconsciousness again. Too tired to stay awake any longer, Naruto fell limp in the arms of his mysterious savior.
Three days later,
Naruto finally woke up from his semi-conscious coma. It seemed his mind was
completely closed off from the outside world after the shocking revelations
disclosed by Mrs. Tanuki and Naruto needed a lot of time to recover. Physically,
the marks on his neck were completely gone. But psychologically, even the
doctors didn't even know if Naruto would ever recover from this episode. It
may haunt him forever in nightmares and or other psychological inhibitions.
Naruto woke to an unfamiliar ceiling, and after a while, decided to sit up. Even though he was in unfamiliar territory, even a six year old can recognize a hospital room. He sat silently with a blank expression on his face. Suddenly, the door to his room opened and in came the third Hokage, the boy whom saved his life, another tall man with long white hair tide in a pony tail and someone who looked like a doctor.
Naruto stared silently at them each, studying one intently before moving to the others. The doctor came around to check up on his status and recording the results on a chart. Naruto waited for someone to speak. And he waited more.
The third Hokage coughed to get Naruto's attention. "I'm very sorry about Mrs. Tanuki, Naruto. I should never have set her up as your baby sitter without a complete background check on her life and see if she is any threat to you. I sincerely apologise for this tragic event on your life, it is my fault that you had almost died." He bowed low.
Naruto looked blankly back at him. By the end of Hokage's speech, the doctor had finished his analysis. "You seem fine, young man. None of the finger marks on your throat are visible, your lungs are fine, voice cords are fine, and there doesn't seem to be any brain damage either. You're a lucky kid." The doctor chuckled in the silent room, causing him to shift nervously afterward at the tense atmosphere. "Ah! I guess I should go check on the other patients. If you feel any pain at all, young man, just call for me." With that final remark, the doctor left the room in a slight hurry.
Naruto stretched the silence out even longer, before he finally decided upon what he should say next. "Did you send her?"
The third Hokage blinked in shock. "NO! Naruto! I would never!!" Taking a few steps towards Naruto, the third stopped immediately when he saw Naruto winced and moved away from him. He's afraid of me! Oh god, what have I done..Sighing in sadness, the third Hokage looked up to Naruto again with pleading eyes. "Believe me, Naruto. I would never send an assassin against you. NEVER! Yes, I admit it was my fault for not checking out her background completely, but I was just so happy that I had found someone to look after you that I wanted to get the processing underway as soon as possible. I would never have thought that she would turn out the way she did."
The third Hokage winced again as his wording. He had just revealed to Naruto that no one was willing to take care of him, that's why he was desperate enough to employ Mrs. Tanuki in the first place. He watched as Naruto shiver quietly to himself, feeling more and more guilt pile up on his shoulders.
"Naruto." The third Hokage said as gently as he could. "I would not hurt you. Ever."
"How can I trust you? How can I trust anyone?"
Once again shocked at those quietly whispered words, the third Hokage realized that Naruto was having problems with whom he could trust, with whom he could confide in without the threat of death hanging over his head. There was only one solution to this, to tell him the truth.
"Naruto, I would never hurt you! Because I owe your father a depth of gratitude even beyond his grave." Naruto looked up at him sharply, he had never heard of anything about his own parents. No one even knew who they were, just that his name was Uzumaki Naruto. "Yes, child. Your father is the Yondaime." Naruto's eyes widen.
"What?!" Though only a whisper, that one word cut through the entire atmosphere in the room.
"It was your father's wish to hide your true name from prying eyes, if only to protect you from those who held a grudge against the fourth's name. I made a vow to obey his wishes, concealing your identity as his son and trying to give you as normal of a childhood as possible... (He laughed cynically) It seems all my plans have completely failed to protect you, my child."
"But! Kyuubi." At that one word, all three winced visibly. It seems Naruto knew more of the truth than they had anticipated. Oh well, no hiding the rest of the truth now.
"Your father never meant for you to be hated by the villagers. He wanted you to be seen as a Hero of this village, being burdened by a destiny beyond your control and yet continuously protecting the villagers from the threat of the Kyuubi no Youko as its container. He never imagined that the villagers would turn on you and start thinking of you as the scapegoat for their pain. For that pain, I am eternally sorry. (He sighs) I've tried my best to limit the damage, by forcing all the adults to never speak of this secret and hoping that the next generation will come to accept you. Heh. But I failed in that idea as well. Instead of seeing you as what you are, they simply followed their parent's example, and started to hate you too for no apparent reason." The third Hokage sighed again, and finally looked towards Naruto, he had lowered his head in shame as he explained everything. To his surprise, Naruto was smiling, albeit a small gently smile, but a smile nonetheless.
Naruto took a deep breath, calmed his racing heart slightly and looked towards his savior. "I never got to thank you!"
The older boy smiled. "I'm Iruka. I've just become a Chuunin and while I was walking home from my training, I heard a commotion at your place." At this point, Iruka lowered his head too in shame. "Nobody was willing to help, we all heard the screams but nobody else cared. So I came."
"Why? Why did you save me?"
"Huh, why wouldn't I?"
"I've heard of you. You're an orphan too! They probably died by the Nine Tails, right?"
"I won't deny the fact that I am an orphan and that both my parents did die fighting the Kyuubi!" Iruka walked closer and closer towards the young and fragile Naruto. His eyes, so young yet so frightened. No one deserves to hold that much anguish and fear in their eyes.Then, Iruka did something which surprised all members in the room, he pulled Naruto into a hug and continued his story. "But Naruto, you're not the demon Kyuubi. You are Naruto Uzumaki. You are you, that's all you can be, from now until the rest of your life."
Naruto was at first shocked into immobilization. But after the rest of Iruka's speech, he melted into the warmth of Iruka's arms. He had never, in his entire life, ever felt so safe and secure before. Never, had he ever been hugged this intimately and maternally. Never, had he felt so welcomed.
"I know the pain of loneliness. Sometimes, I watch you. You play pranks and cause havoc, acting like an idiot to get attention. No one to compliment, no one to acknowledge and most of all, no one to care. It was the most painful thing in life. I watched and I realized what a fool I have been to assume you were the same as everyone say. But a demon will not know pain, Naruto. It does not understand happiness, sadness, loneliness; all the Kyuubi knows is rage. You're not the Kyuubi, you're Naruto. Remember that."
Finally, Iruka released Naruto and he felt elated at seeing Naruto's brilliant smile again.
"Ahem" coughed the man with long white hair. "This is all so sentimental and sweet, but when can I finally get going?"
Naruto asked curiously: "Who are you?"
The man stood in a posing stance, feet apart with one hand raised up front. "It's been said that I'm the Toad Sennin. And that's not all. In the north, in the south, east and west... The legendary three ninja's white haired frog-summoning child! The handsome man that can silence a crying child! I am JIRAIYA-sama! That's me!!(1)"
Naruto blinked innocently. "Am I supposed to know about you?"
Jiraiya's mouth hanged open in speechlessness, while the third Hokage is rubbing his forehead, sweat dropping and slightly ashamed of Jiraiya's performance. Iruka was snickering to himself by Naruto's side.
The third Hokage sighed in shame but continued on with the rest of the discussion at hand. "Naruto, I'd like you to meet one of my own previous students, Jiraiya, one of the legendary Sennins of Konoha."
"It's nice to meet you, Jiraiya-san." Naruto bowed slightly in acknowledgement.
"Since I can't trust anyone here in Konoha to take care of you, I've asked Jiraiya to..."
"I can take care of Naruto, Hokage-sama." Iruka interrupted. Naruto shot up with hope.
Hokage shook his head. "I'm sorry, Iruka. But you are a new Chuunin and will be very busy working and other stuff. Not to mention, you are probably not strong enough to keep Naruto completely safe. With one failed murder attempt, how many more do you think will take place? I'm really sorry, Iruka, Naruto, but there is no other choice in the matter."
Seeing the disappointed looks on both Iruka and Naruto's faces, Hokage sighed again but refused to back down on his decision. "I've decided that it would be better to send Naruto to travel with Jiraiya, away from the potential assassins and hateful villagers in Konoha. Jiraiya is arguably the strongest person in Konoha, next to myself, that is. Jiraiya would be able to look after you properly, protect you from any attempts on your life as well as train you into a powerful ninja as well."
"You're sending me away. You don't want me here." Naruto accused softly.
"No, that's not it at all, Naruto." The Hokage looked up pleadingly to Naruto, willing the six-year-old child to understand. "I don't want you to ever be hurt again. And the only way I can do that, isn't to lock you away from everybody, it's to make you so strong that you can fend for yourself, decide for yourself and make a life for yourself. I am offering you that freedom, Naruto. The freedom to be whoever and whatever you want to be."
Naruto gazed from the Hokage's pleading expression to Jiraiya's nonchalant one. "How do I know I can trust him?" pointing at Jiraiya.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha! That's a good one, kiddo." Looking straight into Naruto's eyes. "Who do you think trained your father in the first place? Hell, people would beg, bride, do anything to become my disciple and here you are, suspicious of me? The one and only Jiraiya-sama, master to the Genius hero, the Yondaime himself?"
"You trained my father?" Naruto asked incredulously.
"Of course!" Jiraiya scoffed. "Why? Don't believe me?"
"You don't look very strong.." Naruto said innocently, which immediately made Jiraiya's face fall. "You remind me more of a pervert than a Sennin." He sweat drops. "And you don't seem to be the responsible type either." Iruka and the third Hokage moved from chuckling to out right laughing.
"Heh. I think this is the start of a wonderful friendship, kiddo." grumbled Jiraiya.
A week after was
the set off date for Jiraiya and Naruto's journey.
"I promise I'll be back, Iruka-niisan. And when I do, I'll become a very strong ninja and make both you and my father proud!"
"Ha ha ha. I'll be waiting for you, Naruto. Have a safe journey. And remember to write to me, okay?" Iruka called back.
"Kay!" Naruto turned around, and rushed towards Jiraiya who had already left several minutes before. Naruto stayed behind to say his final goodbyes to his most important person, Iruka-niisan, whom had just taken up a position as an office assistant in the Ninja academy. He would miss Iruka-niisan, as well as the third Hokage, and the ramen at Ichiraku. But to tell the truth, he was very excited about leaving Konoha as well. It'll be a great big adventure, a new start, a new beginning in his life.
"Wait up! Pervert Sennin." Since it was confirmed to Naruto that Jiraiya was in deed an open pervert, Naruto had called him 'pervert sennin' none stop. Partly for amusement and partly because it had become Jiraiya's unofficial nickname, given to him by Naruto.
After half a day of walking, they've finally reached the edges of the fire country, if he took one more step, he would have officially left his home country. Naruto took a deep gulp of air, and took that one step forward. Only then, did Naruto look back.
"Will we ever return? Eh, Pervert Sennin?"
"Yah, we will. Have faith, Naruto. Have faith."
Both turn back to their journey. However, once they have left the fire county, none of them had expected that they would leave it for the next six years.
It would be six years later, before Naruto finally found the courage to face the villages of whom had despised him since his birth. Six long years of training and experience in the outside world, Naruto grew up rapidly, both physically and emotionally. The one thing that still held meaning to Naruto since his 6-year-old encounter with near death experience, believe it or not, was not nightmares or fear of rejection from the villagers of his hometown. The one remaining fragment that still ties Naruto to the hidden leaf village wasn't even the caring third Hodage or his favored Iruka-niisan (whom have kept in touch through letters). In fact, the only thing that still binds Naruto to his original home is the answer to a question that had plagued him for a very long time. What was so great about Konohagakure that his father - the Yondaime - would not only sacrifice his own life, but the future life of his son, to protect? What did his father see in Konoha that was worth so much pain and suffering? Naruto set out to find that answer.
(1) The incredibly
long quote taken directly from Chapter 144 of the Naruto manga, page 1, translated
by Inane and downloaded from Naruto fan. Thank you, Guys!
My god! I really didn't want to start this story while I was working on my Neon Genesis one, but this idea just refused to LEAVE my mind until I've finally gotten at least the plot written down. I swear, it's been haunting my DREAMS, damn it! ==;; So yeah, here's my very first Naruto fic. Don't ask me how it'll end, this story literary wrote itself. I have absolutely no control over it what so ever. So if there are any suggestions for this story, please send them to me via review because this particular story has no end in site currently. .
Um.. one thing I'd like to ask is: CAN ANYONE THINK OF A BETTER TITLE!? I really hate the one I'm currently using but I'm completely out of ideas. Pweety please! Title people! Okay, Read and Review.