Title: Disadvantaged Children
Rating: R

The sun is gone and the world is mad, but there's nothing I can do.

Water sloshes the boat we're in, causing my already shaky nerves to crumble into a thousand fiery stings. Sakura is holding my hand and gulping back tears while Sai passively stares straight ahead at the wretched darkness in front of us. Black clouds only serve to hide what little light there is from the moon.

I should be thinking about how to survive, how to jump off the boat without the six guards noticing, how to breathe in the midst of murder and blood... But I can't. I can't. The only thing I can think of

-betrayal as Kakashi and Iruka shake their heads, refusing to look at the three orphans, smuggled out of the Mansion and into the hands of death-

is a numbing pain, starting from the toes and ending with the faintly pulsing heart.

"I'll kill him." I clench my fists, staring at the handcuffs encircling my wrists. "I'll kill him."

We finally arrive when the boat jostles something, causing Sakura and me to wake up from our feverish sleep. Five of the guards ignore us as they climb down rungs while the last guard looks at us with pity.

"Get up then, will ya?"

I slowly stand up, wondering whether Sai's glare is intended to intimidate the guard or to express his distaste at the obvious squalor of the island. Although it's too dark to see how large the island is, I can tell that there is no simple prison facility or a nice, convenient building to lock us in. There is only us and the island.

Cold wind blows our way, causing the water to lap at our feet. I strain to hear anything besides the roaring tide of the ocean, but there's nothing to give evidence of human life in the big land of trees and sand in front of us.

"Now, don't try no funny business." The guard eyeballs Sai's handcuffs as if Sai's going to melt them with his furious glare. "I've got five men down there, ready to shoot ya if any of youse even try to escape. Though, I wouldn't blame ya. Drowning's better than the Island, I've heard."

"Shut up." I mumble, regretting it as the guard clubs me in the back with his nightstick. Sakura screams, but I squeeze her hand for reassurance. The pain goes away almost instantly.

"What did I say about funny business? If ya can't shut that cheeky trap of yours, then the Island sure will." The guard prods Sai and motions to the rungs on the side of the boat. "Now, you first then. Get down there."

Panic suddenly sets in my throat and for a second, all I can think about is escaping. Wildly, I look around me for anything - a sharp weapon, an escape route, anything to help me, oh God, anything. But when all that greets me is the eternal darkness of the night and the roar of the ocean, I wilt.

Nothing. Nothing but the fear.

Watching Sai walk down into the deathly shadows is bad enough, but seeing Sakura is even worse. Her face is pale, a mixture of tears and a terrible, piercing sorrow. Every step down every rung and all I can see is her trembling, shaking body. I have never, ever felt the urge to hurt someone as badly as the moment I watched Sakura disappear from safety.

"Yer turn, then."

I want to die. I want to rip every single memory of the Mansion from my mind. But most of all, I want Uchiha Sasuke to feel the same humiliation, the same chilling realization of death, and the same rage that I feel as I step foot for the first time into Kyuubi Island.


We're alone, literally dumped by the guards in the soft sand of the sand. The handcuffs are gone and all we have is the thought of sun rise and the bitter wind.

"D-Do you smell that?"

Sakura looks at us and I can't bear to meet her frightened eyes. The smell... How could I not smell that? How could I not know that it was the smell of blood, urine, and death?

"Don't worry about it." Sai mumbles from his standing position. He continues to peruse the sea and our surroundings. "Naruto, tell her not to worry about it."

I manage a hasty smile. "It's probably just seagull crap and stuff. We're right next to the ocean, so it'll probably go away if we go deeper into the forest."

"Oh. Okay then." Sakura digs herself deeper into the sand, her voice very small. "But we're not going deeper into the forest, right? I've heard about how there are monsters and killers in there. We can't.."

One look at Sakura's terrified face and I can feel every inch of me breaking, losing its power to stay calm, be brave, focus. She was right. She was more than right. For all we knew, there could be someone watching over us now, scheming on ways to get our clothes, our skin, our bodies. Just because we were in the sand didn't mean that we were safe..

We were going to die.

This smell, the lack of food and water, the fact that we were not alone... It all meant we were going to die and that Kyuubi Island was going to make it happen.

My birthplace.

My end.

"Naruto?! Are you all right?"

I gulp in air and hastily stand up before facing the sea. I couldn't be here, not here. Did I really think I'd be able to survive in the same place that had given me my curse? If I died here, I would never see Kiba again. I would never dream or laugh or love again.

"Naruto, what are you-" Sai grabs me just before I collapse. He shakes his head before slowly placing me in the sand, next to Sakura.

"Please sleep. I'll keep guard for now."

Thoughts crowd my mind, all clamoring for a piece of my soul. It was my fault. This was my whole fault. I had brought us here and now I was going to lead my two teammates to death. I was going to destroy my precious ones, again. I was a failure. We weren't going to make it. Someone would kill us before dawn.

It was all my fault.

As sleep and the sand envelope me, I'm stripped of everything. Except one frightening and wretched last thought.

There is no God.

A scream.

The sun burns my skin as I scramble out of the sand and look frantically for the source of my awakening. Fear prickles every tip of hair on my head, making it hard for me to take in the sweltering landscape before me.

The night had provided us with a false sense of security and given the Island feigned innocence. What had before been strange wood is now broken bones and skeletal figures of human bodies and carcasses. The seashells are teeth, the branches are nooses, the silence is death. And the stench is nauseating, mixing with the tidal wave of heat to suffocate us.

Sai is kneeling next to Sakura, holding back her hair as she retches out the contents of her stomach. I immediately crawl to them, feeling the pangs of shame as my fear cripples my ability to walk. Never had I imagined the Island to be this depraved, this horrific.


She wipes her mouth and breathes heavily before slowly turning to look at me. I gently brush the few strands of hair clinging to her face then grasp her hands.

"We'll make it through this and we'll be stronger for it. Believe it, okay?"

Her eyes trail behind me and I wonder if she can see the fresh blood smeared on the trees behind us or the body parts half strewn in the sand or the endless sea of no escape. If she sees the hopelessness of the situation, she doesn't show it. Instead, she squeezes my hand back and nods weakly.

"Yeah. Got it."

My grin's as shaky as her smile. "There's the Sakura we all know and love. Let's put that big brain of yours to work, eh?"

She wobbles to her feet and offers me a hand, gaze directed toward the trees. "We should take some cover before anyone shows up."

"Good idea." Sai says. "If we want any chance of surviving out here, we have to limit all contact with anyone already on the Island."

Sakura suddenly turns to me. "Naruto, do you think Kiba...."

I shake my head. "Trust me. There's something that's telling me Kiba isn't here."

"Good. We can't stop for anyone." Sai picks up two wooden planks and grimly wipes the sand and blood before handing them to us. "Follow me."

Gripping the plank in my hand, I try to ignore the blood spilled over the wood. Sai leads us under some trees and we quickly survey our surroundings for any human presence. When Sai is sure that the area is clear, he motions for us to sit down.

"First things first. We have to keep out of the heat if we don't want to get dehydrated."

I look up at the sun and grimace. "Why is it so hot here? It's winter in Konoha..."

"I've read somewhere that Kyuubi Island is located south of Japan, near the Volcanic Islands. I think that explains why the weather is like this."

"The heat is bearable. It could be worse."

It becomes silent as we all reflect on our chances of surviving a true winter in the Island.

"Hey. Team Naruto." I say softly, too afraid of looking at either Sakura or Sai. "I'm.. I'm sorry for putting us in this situation. I know there's nothing I can do or say to take it all back or help us get out of here. I'm just.. If I had just known.."

"No." Sai's piercing eyes bring me back from the fog, the haze in my mind. "You can't act like this. The minute you do, we all die. I don't want to hear any apologies or whining from you, Naruto, until we're out of here. Okay?"

Sakura immediately butts in and the fierce determination in her face is a glimmer of her former self. "Yeah, you idiot! We got ourselves into this situation. We agreed to willingly go to the Island. I understand why you'd think it's your fault, but it's not." She stands up, walks my way, and then drags me to my feet. "Now help me get something to eat. I'm starving."

I look into both Sakura and Sai's face before raising my fist. "All right then. Come on, Sai. There's animals to be caught, bugs to be eaten, and fish to be had! If we're going to do this, we might as well do it the good old, Naruto way."

There's a pause, some odd looks thrown my way.

"Naruto, you do know that we're stuck on an Island inhabited by criminals and littered with dead bodies, right?"

I cough. "I'm guessing it's a bit too early to break out the motivation speech I rehearsed in the Mansion, right?"

Sakura whacks me in the head and mutters 'What do you think' before heading towards the ocean. I watch Sai shake his head and gather more planks and wood.

"What am I supposed to do?" I yell but both Sai and Sakura are too busy finding food and gather firewood that they ignore me. With a sigh, I look around me before deciding to search in the woods for anything edible.

Trees, trees, and more trees. Now that I'm away from the sun and the bloody beach, it's easier to think of the Island as just another journey, a destination for challenging adventures. Although the woods are slightly creepy because of the deadened atmosphere and random animal noises, I find it more tolerable than the endless, mocking sea. I peer closely at a cluster of mushrooms in the dirt before gathering them in my arms. I'd ask Sakura which ones were edible.

My stomach grumbles and I shove my hunger away as ruthlessly as I shoved away my fear. There was no time to feel. There was only time to do.

I turn around and head back towards Sakura and Sai. As I walk, I try not to notice the eerie slashes on the trees or the rustle of bushes behind me. The Island was crawling, teeming with death but if I made the effort to avoid it, maybe it would forget my very existence.


I immediately freeze when I feel something sharp poking my neck. The scent of rotten fish and burnt flesh reaches my nostrils when the person holding me hostage whispers in my ear.

"Tasty, oh so tasty, I can't wait to cut you up, little boy, can't wait to taste your meat, oh tasty, so tasty."

Even though every inch of my body is paralyzed with fear, I manage to turn my head and come face to face with the most hideous, disgusting human I've ever met. Painful boils and dirt streak his face while his purple lips quiver from the full intensity of his insane grin. His eyes are bright blue, painfully bright, only enhanced by his bald head, laced with spots and wrinkles. There's nothing human in those eyes and I wonder if I'm going to die right now.

His crude knife digs into my neck and I yelp. The noise seems to startle him and I use his hesitance to kick the knife out of his hands. He tries to jump on me, but his thin frame is nothing against my healthy body. After a couple of elbow jabs, punches, and dodging, I've managed to pin him down with his own knife.

He glares at me with no fear, no hint of defeat. His boil is oozing puss and I'm almost afraid of catching diseases, madness, anything from the remnants of this man. It seems almost laughable that minutes earlier, I had been afraid of this sack of bones. How could this small thing survive the Island? Or had the Island made him this way?

"Who are you?"

It takes ages before his blue eyes cloud and his lips twitch. "Number 43, gonna go to Kyuubi for laughing, ha, ha, HA, HA, gonna stay, gonna stay, gonna die, gonna die, ha, ha, HA, HA."

He abruptly stops laughing and begins emitting a low, guttural moan. I don't know what else to do besides looking at him with pity and wondering if everyone on the Island is like this man.

"Look, I don't want to hurt you but-"

"HURT ME." He suddenly struggles under my legs and it takes me a second to get control over him. "HURT ME, HURT ME, HURT ME."

I tighten my grip on his arm and it's then that I notice my hands are shaking. What madness would I have to go through to survive? What was I supposed to do?

"I'm not going to hurt you!"

"Naruto?! What's going on?"

"Don't come close to me or him!" I yell at Sakura.

She hesitantly keeps her distance as I try to silence the insane man who is only excited by Sakura's presence.

"Meat? More meat, more tasty, I like."

"Shut up, you're not touching any part of her!" I flinch when he spits at me and begins yelling at the top of his lungs in some weird gibberish. "Sakura, where's Sai?!"

"I-I don't know, he told me he was going to find some weapons, oh Naruto! What are you going to do with it?"

"I don't know!"

Kill him.

The whisper inside my head is small, so small that I think it's the crazy guy, not me. But I know the voice too well.

Why? Why are you back?

"Oh, oh, oh, you got another inside, not so tasty now."

"What?" I groan when an earsplitting headache suddenly pounds into my brain. Why? Why was it back? "What did you say?"

The face twitches with satisfaction and his eyes roll back into his head. "I see too, I know, yes, yes. I laugh, ha, ha, you do something else, ha, ha."

Kill him.


"Naruto? What's wrong? Do you want me to-"

"Stay back!" I snap and Sakura immediately withdraws with a frown on her face. Turning my attention back to the giggling creature, I grab his leathery skin and shake him. "Talk some fucking sense! What the hell are you talking about?"

"43 for me but you, oh, oh, number 44. Gold hair, so tasty, but not so tasty on inside. No meat. All bad, ha, ha."

"What? Number 44? What does that mean? What are you talking about?!" He laughs and I'm so frustrated, so incensed by the little morsel of information, that I grab him by the neck and continue shaking him. "Tell me what I want! What am I?!"

"Ha, ha, ha, mad demon, ha, ha. You want, go find, deep in Kyuubi, ha, ha."

"Let him go, Naruto." Sai is suddenly there, by my side, gently loosening my grasp on the man's neck. I hear wheezing from the thing and I numbly stare at the ground. That blood lust burning within me is like a familiar friend.

Never thought you'd see me again, did you?

"It's back."

Sai looks at me oddly. "What is?"

I shake my head and jerk my head towards the giggling, old man. "What do we do with him?"

"We dump him here and hope he gets lost."

"Doesn't sound like a solid plan."

Sai roughly grabs the man's arm and pulls him into a standing position. "You have a better idea? I'd rather kill him but I have a feeling that wouldn't go well with you."

"No.. I.." I run a hand through my tangled hair. "He said something about numbers and the Island.. It could have something to do with me or maybe a way out of here..."

"We don't have time for that, dickless. Help me find something to tie him up with."

Fatigue suddenly overwhelms me as well as the ache in my stomach. How had I come to this position? So far from home with a painful betrayal stinging in my open wounds... If it weren't for Sakura and Sai, would I have relapsed? Let Kyuubi consume the paranoia, anxiety..

"I think we should listen to Naruto." Sakura ignores my surprise and instead fixes her gaze on the old man, now tied to the tree with connecting vines. "The way I see it, we have two choices. We can stay here and do nothing or keep the old man and talk to him, try to figure out some more clues about the Island."

"He's a lunatic," Sai sneers. "If it weren't for the fact that he's old and frail, Naruto might have been his next dinner."

"You said it yourself. He's old and frail. How would a guy like him be able to survive for so long? He might be able to help us..."

"Oh, this is just wonderful." Sai interrupts with a groan. "What you're saying is that we befriend the crazy old man who sees us as nothing more than cows on two legs. And what happens if he springs a surprise attack on us? Or decides that he wants to chew through the vines?"

"Sai.." My voice is pleading. "I need to find out more.. If I can just talk to him for a little bit, I'm sure he'll tell us everything we need to know."

Sai pauses for a bit before sighing disgustedly. "Fine. Do what you will, but I'm finding something to eat."

"Actually.." Sakura fishes out something from her pockets. A couple of mollusks, some berries, and a wet green plant that looks a lot like seaweed. "I found these while I was near the seaside and if my memory is right, these berries are edible."

We split up the small morsel of food and spend some time chewing. The berries are sweet and tasty, but the seaweed leaves my mouth with a bitter taste.

"I can probably find more food, but it'll be difficult to find water.." Sakura sneaks a glance at the man tied to the tree. "There's no way he could have lasted more than a day without water.. Maybe he knows any creeks or freshwater springs."

I stand up and walk closer to the man who's groaning in pain and squirming.

"Umm.." What was I supposed to call him? "Sir? Do you know where we can find any water?"

He only moans and shakes his head violently.

"Water. You know. The thing we drink, keeps us alive, WATER." I glare at him when he cackles and then groans again. "Ne, Sakura, I don't think he knows anything."

"Teeheehee, know you, know demons, know number 44, ha, ha."

I turn around and growl. "What did you say?"

He slowly lifts his head and his blue eyes squint into mine. "I. Know. You."

Frustrated, I yank my hair and breathe slowly. "No, you don't. Now tell us where the water is."

"Forget it, dickless, he doesn't know where it is."

Determined not to give up, I pantomine a cup and pretend to pour water into my mouth. "Water. Liquid. Cold."

He cocks his head. "Water? Drink, drink, kill, clean, drink.."

"Err, not so much the killing part but that's the general idea." I cross my arms. "Will you take us to the water?"

It takes a while but he finally nods. I let out a breath and slowly walk towards him to untie his bonds. As I move to tie his hands, I catch a glimpse of burnt flesh and chaffed wrists. With a queasy stomach, I wonder why he's here and who he was. Number 43.. Was that a prison number? If so, why did he refer to me as number 44...

"Look, I think he wants us to go there." Sakura points to the opposite side of the forest, away from the sand and water. "Do you.. Do you think it's safe?"

"As safe as stabbing ourselves in the foot." Sai smirks when he sees my irritated frown. "But who am I to deter Naruto's adventure? Lead on, crazy man, lead on."

"I hate you, Sai." I mumble and he only winks at me. "I don't understand why you're treating this like it's a big joke.."

He shoves the man and we walk, side by side, through some trees and bushes. "If you really want to know, I'm absolutely confident that we'll get out of here."

"Oh?" Sakura swats a bug away from her messy hair. "Why is that?"

"Well, for one.. I've got myself a little sketchbook. And two.. I've got this hunch that by the end of the day, we'll have a savior."

"A sketchbook?" Sakura exclaims at the same time I yelp, "Savior?"

"Yes, my annoying teammates. A sketchbook and a savior."

It takes a while before Sai's special ability dawns on me. He couldn't really... I mean, it was.. It was all for show, wasn't it? Besides, he wasn't like me or Kakashi or..

don't say his name

Or the other experiments. How could Sai be abnormal when he was the only ordinary kid in the Mansion?

"Don't sweat away what little brain cells you have, idiot." Sai calmly takes the man away from my hold. "We'll get to that later."

Sakura and I look at each other with confusion before shrugging and focusing on walking in pace with the old man. Even though his breath is ragged and he stinks of sweat, urine, and blood, the man never slows down or demands to stop. He just keeps walking and walking, smacking away branches, circling through thorny bushes, and hobbling through the forest like he owns the place. At one point, he even snatches a lizard off a tree and breaks the poor thing in half, sucking out the guts and blood.

"Fascinating." Sai says admiringly as Sakura and I puke our heart out. "It's like he's forgotten we're even here."

As if to prove Sai's point, the old man slurps up the remaining guts and gizzards and then throws the lizard behind him. Sakura squeaks and dives out of the way to avoid the thing while I grimace and gag.

We continue moving and the only way I can keep track of time is by the sun's arch in the sky. Nettles and thorns cling to my shirt as we step over a dizzying number of upturned roots, bright green and orange shrubs, and dead carcasses. The further we go into the forest, the more dead bodies we see. Some of them are like decoration, hanging from thick vines and hemp, while others are speared to the ground. Whenever we come across a particularly gruesome corpse, the old man laughs at it and kicks the bones.

"Why do you think he does that?" Sakura whispers to me after the old man jabs and yells gibberish at a corpse without its head.

"Can't you tell?" Sai asks casually over his shoulder. "He's just glad that another one's down. It increases his own chance of survival."

"Scary how he knows so much about the crazy old man." I whisper to Sakura and we both giggle as Sai tries to keep the man from grabbing the dead body off the ground.

The sun soon makes it way over our heads and the dreaded heat slowly creeps into our presence. Sweat soon gathers in my hair, my chest, my neck, my legs, my feet, everywhere. And the itching, oh fuck, the itching and the mosquitoes that are eating away at my very skin... By the time the sun is halfway down, Sakura and I are practically covered in mosquito bites, cuts and scratches from the bushes, and dirt. My shirt is soaked with sweat and mud while my shoes are torn to bits by the sharp broken branches. Sai, on the other hand, is cool and pristine, hardly bothered by any blood sucking insects or the sun.

"I hope.. You know.." I gasp as we trudge through another area full of mud and tree trunks. "That mosquitoes aren't biting you.. Because they know they'd drop dead after having some of your blood."

"I don't bleed." Sai says promptly.

"Oh, shut up."

"Do-Do you think we're any closer?" Sakura leans on me for support as she wrenches her shoes out from the soft mud.

"That depends. We're not any closer to the water but we're probably a lot closer to being lost, killed, and laughed at by our dear traveler guide here."

"That's cheery," I mutter. Sai scoffs.

"Whose idea was it to start following the crazy old man?"


"Yeah, that's what I thought."

My stomach growls and I point at the man who's ripping bark off a tree with his teeth. "Can I have what he's having?"

Sakura looks at me like I'm crazy. "You're better off eating the stuff I'm gathering."

"But it tastes disgusting." I whine. "You never get enough berries or nuts. At least he's having the time of his life, eating whatever he wants."

"That's probably how he got the boils on his face." Sakura shakes her head. "I do feel sorry for him. You can tell he used to be attractive before he ended up here."

"Yuck. Let's try not to harbor secret crushes on the demented carnivore, okay?"

Sakura wrinkles her nose. "Oh, gross Naruto. Way to act your age. I'm just trying to understand what he did, how he got here..."

We suddenly stop when our guide jumps up and down, jabbering in the direction ahead of us. Heart quickening, I grip Sakura's hand tightly and walk forward, keeping a constant eye out for danger. Sai is doing the same thing, only he's gripping the vines and shoving the old man to go first.

There's water, but it's from a polluted, murky stream flowing from what appears to be a building camouflaged with the forest. Ivy clings to the shoddy metal walls, adding a look of antiquity to the building. Just looking at this abnomaly, this thing that doesn't belong in the forest, makes me paralyzed.

This.. This wasn't normal. What was this building doing out here, in the middle of a rotting Island? It was strange enough that some kind of civilization was here, but to hide it so well among the danger and the trees..

We're back.

And then the old man stares straight at me, clarity in those blue eyes, and whispers haggardly.

"Number 44."

That's all it takes for me to understand. All those years of listening to the foster care workers curse my name mixed in with years of ignoring the horror stories of the Island, the Island that ripped innocent people to shreds, the same Island that bore Kyuubi's name... It was true, then, wasn't it?

This was where I had been born. Where Kyuubi had been injected in me and where I had escaped, only to kill and murder, lose and succomb..

A morbid curiosity invades my spine and I slowly walk forward. "I have.. to go inside."

"What? Don't be ridiculous, Naruto. There's no reason we need to go inside."

"You don't understand!" I snap. "This is my fate. It's beyond my control. I have to go inside otherwise we'll never get out..."

Sai shakes his head. "There is no such thing as fate, Naruto, you know that. Let's just head back and look elsewhere for-"

"No." I shake my head, feeling the fire consuming my insides. "Whether fate exists or not, it doesn't matter. Everything in my life comes down to this.. Believe me, this will help. I promise you."

I look back and smile sadly at Sakura and Sai. "After all, beggars can't be choosers."

With that, I take off into the direction of the building. Sakura yells while Sai runs after me, but I only increase my speed and pray that Sai will leave me alone. The building isn't far off, but the branches whipping me in the face and the slippery ground makes it hard for Sai to keep up with me. I duck and leap over thickets, roots, and hanging foliage with the image of the building seared into my brain.

Growling, I wrench myself out of some tangling vines and continue running. The building is so close now, I can see every broken window and the many doors leading inside. I eventually halt to a stop and bend over, coughing and wheezing for air.

A cackle pierces the air and I whirl around to find myself with the old man. He's laughing so hard that he's leaning on a tree for support.

"Oh, shut up." I mutter, too tired to wonder how he caught up with me. "Just don't bother me or I'll tie you again."

I try to open the closest door but it's locked. The second door I find is massive, filled with ornate carving and holes in the stained glass. I breathe a sigh of relief when it opens but my relief immediately turns to nausea. The scent that's been haunting the Island is multiplied by ten when I walk into the dark, empty building. Clenching my nose, I survey the abandoned remnants of what appears to be a lab.

Rust and peeled paint decorate the walls while the floors are littered with broken tiles, shattered beakers, and stains of blood? Dangerous liquids? Mice skitter along the upturned tables but that's the only sign of life. I gingerly watch my step for broken glass and continue walking, following the path leading to another door. The stench becomes unbearable by now, a dizzying mixture of ashes, waste, and dead animals.

Something clatters behind me. Heart pounding, I turn around to see the old man's shadow behind another room. I have to close my eyes to stop my trembling. Every shadow blends with every corner of every empty room, making me hear the screams of the dead, the experimented, the horrifying injections and scalpels.

I walk through another room, only this one has empty animal cages, stacked all the way to the ceiling. What had happened to them? Had they suffered the same fate as the people? Broken, dirty, used.. Or worse. Dead.

Someone touches me and I yelp and wheel around. The old man looks at me with a scrutinizing glance before pointing to the door right in front of us.

"46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55."

Horror wells up in my throat and I clap my hands over my ears. But he continues, on and on, voice growing louder.

"70. 71. 72. 73. 74."

"Stop it!" I yell over his counting. "Please. Please."

He takes a long look at me, gaze never wavering, and finally stops. Silence envelopes the room and in that moment, I'm attacked by unreasonable questions, ridiculous thoughts, a warmth.

Oh god.

I creep backwards, until my back hits the wall. My body is buried in this deluge of impossibilities, suffocating under hell. No, no, no. God, please, no.

Before I can say anything, a dark blur flits across the room and makes its way to the only man I should have ever known. Time slows down and the roar in my ear is like a tidal wave of doubt, hope, and happiness, crashing down into a sinking sea.

A knife appears from the dark blur and blood spatters from the old man's body, making a crude pattern on the walls. I can't find it in me to shout, to yell, or even to run away. I'm paralyzed.

He looks at me with his blue eyes, one final time, and the boils are not there, the bald head is immersed in gold, and his face is what it should be.

Like mine. Like me.

"He was a good man."

I tear my eyes away from the old man's unmoving body on the floor and the dark blur has become a shape, a human figure, coated in a black coat.

"You.. You killed him."

"If it is any consolation, I had no intentions of murdering your father. "

He steps closer to me and the light from the windows reveals his dark, long hair, handsome face, and grey eyes.

"You're Itachi.." I breathe, grasping the wall to support my weak body. "What are you doing here? Why.."

"I'm waiting for someone."

And with that, his eyes turn into the sickeningly familiar shade of red, leaving my world to become empty, dark, and useless.

AN: And at the end of the day, all anyone is trying to do is keep Kyuubi Island from becoming the island in Battle Royale. Or Castaway. Or Jurassic Park. Or the other million little stories with islands in 'em. If you haven't been able to tell by now, I can't do originality to save my life. At least I had heaps of fun writing this one. :D

For those of you wondering about Sasuke.. Don't worry, I'm wondering about him too. He'll make an appearance in the next chapter.

Updates might be sporadic since my first year of college is starting.. Ugh, both dreading and anticipating the p-ton bombbbb. Read and review! :]