. . . .
Chapter 2: "Find myself."
"Hey, hey, look. DC doesn't look too good fellas," a boy hooted in amusement as he stared down into Naruto's indifferent face. It was lunch time and around that instance students were free to roam and eat wherever they wished. Most preferred to head out into the gardens to eat and chat with friends or others headed to a more secluded area or to a prohibited area for fun. Naruto liked to stay in the classroom. He had thought at first that this would save him from bullying and it did, at least for a little while.. It was only a matter of time before some of his other classmates began to hang around in the classroom and tease him like they always did.
"Hey, DC, you look pale, you okay? You're not going to pass out from such a pathetic beating, are you?" the same boy smirked and poked Naruto's forehead with his finger. This bully's name was Kyle. He was apart of the same group that had joined the ritual of attacking him in the morning, needless to say Naruto didn't appreciate his company.
Naruto glared up at the boy, irritated. He hated the name "DC," which was short for demon child. The nickname had followed him since he was very young. It had hurt to be called such a horrible name when he was smaller but it stung even worse now. "Don't touch me!" Naruto hissed, slapping the Kyle's hand away fiercely. Kyle blinked in surprise but quickly regained his composure. Everyone had assumed Naruto to be a weakling and he didn't mind letting them think that, he didn't care. He was not in a good mood today though so he wasn't about to let anyone walk all over him.
"What the fuck was that, huh?" Kyle snarled, fists clenched. He promptly slammed his hands onto Naruto's desk and leaned forward. The two boy's faces were mere inches apart and neither seemed to be ready step down. "You heard me. I told you not to put your shitty hands on me!" Naruto replied, his tone equaling the ferocity of the other boy. Naruto's tormentor again seemed to be mildly disturbed by these sudden outbursts. The other boy clenched his fists again before his hands shot out and grabbed Naruto by the shirt, yanking him to his feet. "Hey boys, we were just concerned about our dear friend here, right? I was being friendly, wasn't I?" Kyle called over his shoulder to a group of his friends who were also in the classroom. The other boys came over; nodding in agreement and like parrots began repeating back just what Kyle had said to them. Kyle reached up with one of his hands and roughly caressed Naruto's bruised face, his thumb rested on Naruto's bottom lip. "Tch, you're pathetic. You try to act tough but these bruises prove what you really are to everyone. A weakling," Kyle yanked on Naruto again and tossed him into the awaiting arms of his followers.
"Looks to me that our buddy needs to splash his face with some nice cool water." Kyle led the way out of the classroom and into the hall. The boys holding onto Naruto followed after, dragging the blond right along with them. As to be expected there was a crowd of students just hanging around outside of the classroom and as soon as they laid eyes on Naruto they seemed to understand what was going on. Naruto was taken all the way down the hall until they reached the boys' bathroom. A horrible feeling of dread began to well up inside of Naruto and he struggled with the boys who held him, kicking and punching. More arms reached out and grabbed onto Naruto. He was subdued and pinned onto the dirty floor of the bathroom. Naruto squirmed under the boys' grip, grunting and kicking still.
"Keep him still," a voice said. It was Kyle. Naruto tried to look up but from the awkward position he had be pinned in it made it difficult. As if he were able to read Naruto's thoughts Kyle bent down onto one knee so he was in clear view. He smirked. "How's this? Can you see me now?" he said in a sarcastic tone. Kyle reached out and patted Naruto's cheek, making Naruto all the more irritated. He promptly bit down on to one of Kyle's fingers. Kyle pulled back his hand and winced in pain before he glared icily at Naruto. "Bitch…" he muttered. Kyle grabbed a fist full of Naruto's hair and yanked up slightly while he pushed the other boys out of the way as he began to drag Naruto into one of the stalls. Naruto winced in pain but didn't make a sound. "Like I said, you seem to need a refreshing splash of water on your face…" Kyle started and pushed Naruto's face near the toilet bowl. Naruto pulled himself back and caught a hold of the hand that was still grasping firmly to his hair. He punched Kyle in the stomach and while the other boy was hunched over trying to catch his breath Naruto tried to make a run for it. He didn't get very far. The other boys caught a hold of him and waited for Kyle.
"Go on, what are you waiting for, you idiots?" Kyle barked at them, holding his aching stomach. The boys tugged Naruto back into another stall and forced him to kneel before they forced his head down into the water. Naruto tried to close his mouth but he ended up choking down some of the water. By the time he was finally pulled out Naruto had a violent coughing fit, his whole body shivered in between his gasps for air and coughs. Naruto put his head back as far as he could and stared up at the ceiling. He was starting to get dizzy. From the snickers from the boys to the pounding of his own heart in his chest, noises swirled around him and he couldn't seem to make sense of anything anymore. The boys seemed to be ready to dunk Naruto again when Kyle suddenly called to them and said that that was enough. Naruto was dragged again, out of the stall this time and back out into the hallway. He was abandoned somewhere in the middle of the hall and in the midst of a crowd of other students who were standing there. Some were probably there by chance while others had come to see what was going on. Naruto started to sit up when someone approached him and stood in front of him. Water dripped down from Naruto's wet hair and stung his eyes, making his vision a bit blurry.
I hate this…
Sasuke had been watching all the commotion from afar. He didn't understand why all of these guys wanted to beat up on that one kid for or why no one was helping him out or at least trying to stop this. It seemed to be an ongoing cycle of abuse fixed on that one student. It didn't make sense; then again this whole school seemed to be full of nutcases. The blonde seemed to be trying to pick himself up but was knocked down and kept lying flat on his stomach. Sasuke frowned and moved to forward to interfere, if no one else would stop this he would.
"What are you doing, fools?" a voice demanded.
Sasuke hesitated and decided to remain where he was for the moment. It seemed he wouldn't have to do anything after all.
Naruto looked up and saw Neji standing before him though the other boy wasn't looking at him nor did he seemed concerned in Naruto in the least bit. Neji's piercing gaze was fixed on Kyle and his gang. Neji was well-known in Naruto's school. Not only was he class president but he excelled in his academics, he was a born athlete and his family was well off. If anyone fit under the word 'perfect' it would be Neji. Not to say that the guy didn't have his quirks. Naruto didn't know the guy very well but from what he had overheard from the other students discussions he cold and distant towards anyone who approached him. Neji also had a strange habit telling the people who bugged him that something awful was going to happen to them and something usually did happen. Once Neji had a girl admirer who had hounded him for a few days. Neji had told her quite suddenly one day that her father was going to have a tragic accident and that she had better be prepared for the process of mourning. The next day the girl's father died. He had been hit by a car while crossing the street to get to work. Most said it was just an eerie coincidence but Neji's fortune telling continued after that and every prediction seemed to come true. Naruto didn't believe in any of it really, the way he saw it everyone was just being too gullible. Bad things happen and just because some weirdo tells you out of the blue beforehand meant nothing.
Neji was the kind of guy who believed strongly in fate and it was rumored that he could see the future because of his predictions, but for some reason it was only the negative, horrible things that were going to occur that he saw.
Even though Neji had no friends he was still respected by everyone. Even his enemies dared not to cross him for fear of the consequences, so needless to say Neji was able to keep a tight leash on everyone to keep order. Usually when Naruto was getting really thrashed by other students Neji would put a stop to it if he happened to catch notice of it at the time. There was no doubt in Naruto's mind that Neji in no way meant for this to seem like some kind of act of kindness. Neji was no different from the others as far as he was concerned.
"I asked you a question." Neji's gaze hardened and Kyle seemed to tense. "N-nothing, we were just trying to help DC here get the bathroom to wash his face because he didn't look too good." Kyle punched one of the boys next to him and he began to nod, saying that it was the honest to god truth that's what they were doing. Neji shrugged and turned to leave. "No more games today. You'll be sorry if I catch you being un-orderly again," and with that Neji turned and headed down the hall. Once Kyle was sure he was gone he glared at Naruto. "Damnit, thanks to you we just got on that guy's bad side. You're nothing but trouble. Miserable little--"
Naruto got his feet and began to wipe his face dry with his sleeve. The last thing he was worried about was paying any more attention to Kyle, which infuriated the other boy. Kyle moved as if to grab Naruto again but before he could someone spoke up.
"Kyle, you heard him. Don't start up anything again." Gazes turned to a girl in the crowd. She was a small thing with bright pink hair and fiery green eyes, glaring at Kyle. She was Sakura, another classmate of Naruto's and the only person who Naruto could say he couldn't really resent. Sakura had a reputation for having a new boyfriend every two days and for being a bit violent and bitchy when she didn't get her way. Even so she had been perhaps one of the only people who had bothered to be nice to Naruto, even if it had been just once. It had been a few years ago.
. . . . .
"Go away, no one wants you here!"
Naruto watched soberly as the group of kids scattered and left him, standing bloodied and bruised. He frowned and began to rub some of the scrapes and scratches on his face furiously with the back of his hand. The blood and sweat running down his forehead was stinging his eyes. Tears threatened to spill down his cheeks but Naruto flat out refused to let himself cry. Despite what everyone thought he was not a weakling, nor was he a monster or a demon child. He was human. How he wished to be accepted and acknowledged, how he longed to truly be normal. A sob came up before Naruto could stop it and tears began to flood down his cheeks. Disgusted, Naruto reached up and began to wipe at the tears furiously until his face began to hurt.
I hate this…
"Hey, you…" Naruto felt something soft against his forehead and looked up quickly. He found himself staring at a pink handkerchief which was right in front of his face. He blinked and leaned a bit to the side, only to see a girl his age standing there. Her hand was extended and in it was her handkerchief. She pushed it at him again and when he made no move to take it she became angry. Her nose wrinkled up and her lips thinned. "Take it. Are you stupid or something?" she said, shoving the piece of cloth into Naruto's chest. It fell lifelessly at his feet, but Naruto didn't seem to notice. He was too busy staring at the girl. She had hair the color of the handkerchief and bright green eyes. She was pretty cute, but not so much when she was angry. She kind of looked like an old hag with her face all wrinkled up like she said it or so Naruto thought. He thought it was funny but his expression never wavered from the seemingly confused one he wore at that moment. The girl shrugged and adjusted her backpack a little. "You really must be stupid…" she grumbled and began to walk away.
Naruto watched her start to leave and then bent down to pick up the handkerchief. Had this been a gift of some sort? Naruto's chest began to burn slightly and he touched it lightly with his hand. He couldn't tell what this feeling was, but it wasn't a bad one he knew. He got back up. "T-thank you…" he whispered and clenched the handkerchief in his hand. He had said it softly enough so that the girl hadn't heard, but much to Naruto's surprise she stopped for a second. She turned around slightly. "Hey, that's for your cuts. Make sure you take care of that. It's my favorite handkerchief. If you get it all dirty or lose it I'll never forgive you!" she shouted before she ran off.
Naruto watched her disappear around the corner and smiled. She hadn't told him her name, but later he found out who she was when he started attending school. Her name was Sakura. It hadn't been a very tender moment that Naruto was sure of. However, it was an act of kindness in its own way and Naruto couldn't remember the last time anyone had remotely tried to be nice to him on the outside. Since that moment Naruto had always harbored secret feelings for Sakura. Yes, he had a crush on her.
. . . . .
Kyle glared right back at Sakura. "Oh, shut up." He walked up to Sakura and crossed his arms, standing tall and straight as if daring her to open her mouth again. Sakura scowled at him. "I will not shut up. I have every right to speak my mind. You and your pathetic bunch of flunkies don't scare me!"
Kyle grabbed the girl by the front of the shirt. "Bitch, I dare you to say that again. Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" A cool expression appeared on Sakura's face for a split second before she smiled. "Of course, you're a spoiled little brat who throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way. Hmph. If you want to hit me, go ahead and hit me." Kyle began to shake with anger and held up his fist to strike Sakura but before he could get the chance he was knocked to the side by a powerful force. Caught off guard by the blow Kyle fell gracelessly to the floor with a thud. Absolute silence followed. Naruto stood above Kyle panting heavily, with his fists clenched. One of his fists was bloodied and not all of the blood was his own. Kyle stared wide-eyed at Naruto and reached up with one of his hands quickly when he felt a sharp pain in his mouth. He pulled his hand away and found blood on his fingertips, and tasted it in his mouth. No one seemed to move and all that could be heard in the hallway as Naruto's sharp intakes of breath.
After what seemed like an eternity Kyle got to his feet again. He began to walk away but turned slowly, staring at Naruto. "You're dead," he said simply, almost gleefully before he turned around and continued on his way. The other boys in his group followed after him one after the other and not one of them looked back, soon after the crowd of students who had gathered to watch the display had dispersed. Naruto watched them go and let his throbbing fist fall lifelessly to his side. Sakura stood there silently beside him and said nothing for a long time. She glanced around nervously as if she didn't want anyone else to hear her speak. "Y-you idiot…" she muttered, clenching her fists and holding them over her chest. "Why did you have to do something stupid like that, huh? Do you realize what you've done? Now everyone must think I'm friends with you…or worse! What if they think I'm your girlfriend?" she shouted. She was angry. Very angry, and it was all Naruto's fault. "I didn't say what I said to help you out, you know. Kyle is a jackass. I hate him. I just wanted to get under his skin, he needs that every now and then…but you…"
Naruto's gaze was still fixed on the spot where Kyle had been just a few minutes ago, sprawled out onto the floor. For the first time in his life he had felt like he had all the power he ever needed to make things right with his life. To finally stand up and put a stop to the endless amount ridicule, to walk with his head held high and finally not be afraid anymore. But why did he feel so horrible? He couldn't bring himself to look at Sakura. Had what he done really been so unforgivable? He had saved her from getting hurt, hadn't he? He didn't understand. Naruto had assumed Sakura would be…grateful maybe? He shrugged. That was a joke. Now he could see what a fool he had been. No matter what he did she would always hate him…he would always be despised and loathed.
"I hate you!"
Naruto continued to stare vacantly at the wall. The words he had heard so often from everyone. It made him angry, sad and helpless, but he didn't have the energy to say anything or even acknowledge that he had heard Sakura at all.
"I hate you!"
Please stop…please…I can't stand it anymore! Naruto thought.
Naruto glanced to the side finally and saw Sakura still standing there beside him. Her eyes were full of pain, anger and tears. He had made her cry, the one person who he had wanted more then anything to just simply spare him a passing glance or a small smile had told him that she hated him.
Sakura rubbed her eyes furiously before whipping around and running away. Naruto watched her go until she disappeared around the corner. Naruto ran a hand through his unruly hair, wondering what he should do now. He felt disoriented and empty. He couldn't think straight and moving from his present location seemed nearly impossible.
Would it matter if I just stayed here forever? No one would care.
Naruto heard footsteps behind him and looked to the side only to see the boy who had helped him this morning. He had a smug look on his face, and his hands stuffed in his pockets. "That was quite the melodramatic moment."
Naruto stared blankly at him and said nothing. He really wasn't in the mood for any more taunting today. If he had to he would let this jackass have a formal introduction with his fist too. The dark haired boy walked towards him and came so close that Naruto had to move back, but even then they were almost nose to nose. "What's your name, stupid?"
Naruto frowned, clenching his fists. He didn't have to take this. He had had quite enough of the name calling. Naruto was tired of being bossed around. He moved to turn and walk away but the other boy caught him by the shoulder. As if by instinct Naruto moved to punch the other boy, but his punched was blocked easily. Naruto moved to step back once more but the dark haired boy held onto his wrist firmly. "Let me go, asshole!" Naruto hissed. The other boy didn't respond at all to Naruto's angry shouts and instead did the strangest thing. His brushed his lips lightly against Naruto's injured knuckles. This made an odd sensation run through Naruto's arm and then throughout his entire body. Immediately Naruto jerked himself away from the dark haired boy, cradling his fist as if he had been burnt.
What, what was that…?
"Uchiha Sasuke. That's my name. Now, tell me yours." Sasuke still had the same smug look on his face and Naruto hated him already for that look. "Hey, stupid, weren't you ever taught any manners? When someone tells you their name the polite thing would be to tell them yours."
Naruto scowled. He hated this guy already. "It's Uzumaki Naruto," he said. "And stop calling me stupid," he added.
Sasuke nodded as if he approved the name, ignoring Naruto's last comment completely. "Well, Naruto, would you mind telling me what the hell's going on around here?" Naruto gave Sasuke an annoyed look. "What are you talking about?" Sasuke shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. It seemed his questions weren't going to be answered just yet. But that was fine. He could wait. "Never mind," he said. He turned and started down the hallway. About halfway down he stopped and glanced back at Naruto. "Hey, stupid, are you coming or not?"
"Why the hell should I go with you?" Naruto growled.
"Your wounds, you need to get cleaned up." He turned and started walking again. "Stupid…" he muttered under his breath, but Naruto heard it just the same. He wasn't going to let this guy get away! Calling him "stupid, stupid" all the time, it was annoying. No one had ever managed to get to Naruto this way. He wasn't going to let him get away. "Wait up, you!"
To be continued
A/N: Well, there you are. The second chapter. Sorry it took so long. I swear I have a good reason for not posting up a new chapter in such a long time. One word: finals. I have ten days or so of school left and in those ten days and have a shit load of work to do…which is my reason (aka: excuse as some people put it) for not putting up the next chapter so quickly. Encouraging reviews and emails are always very much appreciated and that is what makes me write more, but my studies are one of my number 1 priorities until school lets out. Emails and reviews telling me to update immediately or they'll:
1.) Kill me/hunt me down and make me suffer.
2.) Kill themselves
Or anything like that…that does not make me want to write more. That's just scary or it can be annoying. Constructive criticism is good, but the other crap is not. If it's in good humor then I don't mind it, of course, but sometimes I just can't tell. I'm dumb. Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. Thanks for reading and hopefully there will be more in the future unless I die…or something like that. O.O;