Hello. I hope I've made it (especially the dialogue) realistic enough. Enjoy this story! Oh, and being a formatting bitch.
Comfort of the Silver Rain
The silver moon was perched high above Konoha, its ethereal gaze illuminating the houses in a faint, surreal glow. The wind was whistling, breezing through the wispy clouds, pulling them across a orange sky.
Leaves fluttered in a messy disarray, trailing on the tails of the wind as they drifted into open air. The grass swayed, bowing to the elements as a earthly rumble thundered overhead.
The villagers seemed to pause; the masses seemed to still. Then they started moving again this time with more hurry in their steps as the people rushed back to the comfort of their homes.
Roadside stalls were packed and wheeled away. Stores started shutting their doors.
The rain started coming down. It was sudden, without any dramatic flashes or cracks of thunder. Small pricks of water slapped against the pavement before the clouds broke, unleashing shifting blankets of water that twirled around in a enchanting dance as they pelted roofs and walls with liquid bullets. The orange sky soon faded into a grey, misty veil, obscured by the falling drops.
Naruto cursed his luck as he hurried through the thick sheets of frigid rain, clutching a small bundle under his jumper to protect it from the fierce torrents.
It was his payday. He had been saving up for almost a month, forgoing many of his snacks, even skipping his regular ramen meals. Tomorrow, he had to pay his rent of four months, three which were overdue. He long had the suspicion that his rent was a lot more expensive than the other tenants, but kept silent, optimistically thinking that one day he would be able to convince the landlord he was not the fox demon, but a ninja of the Leaf.
Now it was just another unfair grievance he had learnt to deal with.
Naruto slowed his pace, a pensive and troubled look flashing across his face.
Lately, the blonde found himself just not caring about the villagers and cold stares. He found it harder to smile, harder to laugh. His shield against the harsh world was cracking, and there was nothing he could do. Now, the only thing pushing him was his dream, which even he found slipping away, fading into a black abyss.
Then there was her. She was his last rope, his anchor. The blonde felt a faint tug on his heartstrings as he thought of her beautiful smile, her small, hazel-green eyes. He was in love, and he was afraid. What happened if she rejected him? He could handle Sakura; he wasn't truly in love with the pink-haired kunochi. But her. . .
He was afraid. Was he becoming less human? Would she fear him when she knows of his secret? His goal was to be Hokage, so as to earn more respect from the village. Yet the more power he got, the less the respect the villagers gave him. In fact, they feared him. What if she feared him? At the back of his mind, the fox demon had cackled, licking his fangs as he savoured the tantalising taste of fear. . .
Naruto shook his head, trying to clear his head of the depressing thoughts. Suddenly, he saw a silhouette of a person huddled over the ground, trying to pick something up from the ground. Against his better judgement, Naruto approached the figure, half-expecting the stranger to curse him away.
It was a girl. Her hair was wet, hanging from her head in long, wet strands as she hurriedly tried to pick up her soaked flowers from the drenched ground. Naruto, tucking the bundle securely in his jumper, squatted down and helped the girl pick her flowers.
"Here," he said, giving a small smile to her as he carefully placed the plants into her basket.
"Arigatou," she said, sweeping aside her wet locks while she looked up. "Naruto-kun?"
"Ayame-chan!" exclaimed Naruto, surprised. "Why are you out here? You could catch a cold!"
"Oh, um, I" she started, but was cut off in a loud sneeze. "AH-CHOO!"
"Neh. . .see, you already got a cold!" admonished the blonde. "C'mon, why don't you come to my apartment first to get dry. It's probably nearer than your house," the boy offered, before grabbing Ayame's arm and leading her towards a tall building.
Ayame, a little dizzy and shocked at the normally boisterous boy's maturity, just followed without protest.
They passed through the gate and quickly ducked under the extended roof. Ayame rubbed her arms, trying to bring heat to her shivering body while she observed her surroundings.
It was a simple, nice building. Plants were tastefully planted in corners, their red, blooming flowers complimenting the fresh light-orange coat of paint well. They walked into the building, with Naruto leading the way.
They passed a grouchy woman, with white streaks running through her greying hair. Wrinkles crossed her face, which was in a frown as she glared at Naruto.
"Tomorrow, boy, tomorrow. If you don't pay up by tomorrow, you are going out of this place, brat," she sneered, saying the last bit with a gleeful glint in her eyes.
Naruto took no notice of her glare, or the obvious happiness when she threatened to evict him. Instead, he just closed his eyes and grinned cockily.
"Don't worry! You'll get your payment tomorrow!"
Then he turned to Ayame, his eyes half-opened before he once again grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the stairs. "C'mon! We got to get back, before your cold gets worse!"
The older girl just let herself be pulled while her brows were furrowed together. Why was that woman so rude to Naruto-kun? Not only that, she seemed to be happy that Naruto-kun is being evicted. That doesn't make sense. . .
The sound of a door creaking open jerked Ayame back to reality. Blinking her eyes, the girl stepped through the door, past a faintly embarrassed blonde.
"Well, it isn't much, but it's ok," he said, scratching his head as he closed the door.
The windows were frosted, trembling slightly as the wind and rain buffeted against it. Cracks ran down the glass, held together only by a mass network of hastily pasted tape.
"It was, um, raining last night and my window was broken," shrugged Naruto sheepishly when he caught Ayame looking at his windows.
The couch was torn. It had holes, which were covered by poorly sown on rags. Scrolls were draped in a messily and hurriedly over a rusted metal table. There was no television, only a chipped radio that sat against the peeling wall. The kitchen was cramped into the corner, a small heater with a small, chipped cupboard beside it. Soft wafts of cold air tickled her skin, enveloping the apartment in a icy chill.
Noticing her shudder, the blonde quickly ran into his room and grabbed a few thick clothes (the only ones he had bought with his own money) and dumped them into the arms of a surprised Ayame.
"Quick! Change out of those clothes, or you might become worse!" said Naruto as he pushed her towards the bathroom. "Use my bathroom. Don't worry, my clothes are clean, unlike what most people think," he finished, winking before he closed the bathroom door behind Ayame.
The girl was surprised, but decided to not comment as shrugged off her wet clothes. Wrapping the towel around herself after drying off, Ayame rummaged around through Naruto's outfits while idly scanning the bathroom. It was, strangely enough, clean and free of grime. There was no window. A medium-sized, cracked mirror hanged still on the wall. Unlike the living room, the walls had a new coat of paint, shining glossily at Ayame when she put on her borrowed clothes.
Gathering the rest up in her hands, the girl gently swung the door open and stepped out.
Naruto cheerfully smiled at her. "C'mon! My room's warmer," he said while he held a mug of steaming cocoa in his hands.
Ayame smiled gratefully. She followed him into his room, setting his clothes down in an open cupboard. Her wet clothes were left draped over a slightly worn chair.
Unlike the living room, Naruto's room was less cold. Moonlight shone through a small, frosted window, flooding the room with a misty silver-blue light. The thunderous beat of the storm was only a dull roar. Scrolls was piled in a corner, or stuffed underneath an unmade bed. A creaking tabletop was beside his bed. Several pictures of Team Seven hung on the walls, silently showing the team in various happy poses.
Ayame smiled slightly when she caught sight of Naruto's grin in the photographs. During the time when they were young, Ayame often caught Naruto sitting alone on a still swing, sad as he stared at the happy children with forlorn eyes. Seeing his saddened eyes, Ayame had pulled him into a game, hoping to cheer the boy up. It was at that time when Naruto finally found a friend and his first "family" at the Ramen Bar.
The girl was jerked out of her reverie as a hot cup of cocoa was pressed into her hands. White froth swirling on the brown surface, circling her reflection in the liquid.
Ayame smiled. "Thanks, Naruto-kun."
Then she sat down on the bed beside the blonde, slowly sipping the hot chocolate. A blanket was draped over her, wrapping a layer of warmth around her. Turning her head around in surprise, she saw Naruto with a deep blush on his face.
"So. . .why were you in the rain anyway?" he asked, hoping to direct the attention away from his red face.
"Oh. . .it was nothing," Ayame said, giving a weak smile.
"Oh. . .ok," Naruto replied, but had a doubtful expression on his face.
The rain continued pouring, seemingly unstopping in its furious torrents. A loud yawn crept onto the tired girl. Naruto faintly chuckled, while the embarrassed girl set the mug down on the bedside table.
"You should sleep, Ayame-chan. . .the rain doesn't look like it's stopping anytime soon," said Naruto as he gently pushed her back onto his bed. "I know its small and a little rickety, but it'd do!"
"I can't possibly," protested Ayame weakly. "Where would you sleep?"
"I'm the greatest ninja!" proclaimed the blonde jokingly. "I can sleep anywhere!"
Ayame laughed, and finally accepted the shinobi's offer. Lying on her back, her eyes fluttered and closed, before falling into a deep sleep.
Naruto gave a small grin at the sleeping girl, gently and carefully tugging his blanket over her. Then he quietly picked up Ayame's wet clothes and headed back out to his living room.
A strong, icy wind whipped around the room. A part of the tape had fallen out, revealing a wide hope for the chilly weather to seep through.
The blonde sighed. He shivered slightly, goosebumps slowly appearing over his exposed skin, but he ignored the it. Walking to the kitchen, he took out a long, bamboo stick, before balancing it high between the cupboard and a hook in the wall. Eyeing the stick carefully, Naruto quickly draped the clothes over the rod, before rushing to tie the ends down securely.
The clothes should be dry by tomorrow! thought Naruto, satisfied with his handiwork.
As he turned away, his eyes suddenly caught sight of a piece of paper peeking out of the shirt pocket.
Curiously, he carefully pulled it out. It was damp, the ink apparent on the semi-transparent paper. The blonde gently peeled it apart and started to read it.
We regret to inform you that your grandfather, Ichiraku Takashi, is suffering from a severe case of lung infection, and only has at most 2 weeks of life left. It is the first time the staff here have seen such a severe case. It is possible to heal him, but the operation would require at least 100,000 yen. For now, he is resting in Ward 14. Due to the fact that he is your only living family, the hospital can help subsidise 20,000 yen, but you must produce the remaining 80,000 yen.
Leaf Hospital Head Surgeon.
Naruto gasped in horror when he finished reading the note. Ojii-san Takashi dying! he thought in disbelief. No! I-it can't be!
The blonde whirled around dizzily, stumbling from the kitchen. Outside, a streak of light burst past, lighting up the dingy apartment in an ashen, washed-out white. A hint of red in the brightness caught his eye. Naruto turned, and saw the ruined roses lying in the wet basket. Their petals were matted and torn. Their leaves were shredded. Thunder echoed around the still boy, but he did not react.
Those roses. . .Ayame-chan was selling them for money. . .she was trying to earn money for the operation, but the roses. . .they're ruined now. . .
Naruto gaze flickered between the roses and the note. His mind was a in a turmoil. He bit his lips hesitantly, but soon his eyes glinted with a strange, sad determination.
Ayame yawned widely while she groggily rose from the bed. The blanket tumbled off her frame as she sleepily rubbed her eyes awake. Her frazzled hair was lazily swept into shape.
"Ohayo Ayame-chan!" grinned a loud voice.
Ayame smiled her greeting. The soft morning rays peeked though the window. A strong aroma of ramen permeated her nostrils.
"Ramen again, Naruto?" she said teasingly as she sniffed appreciatively. "Don't you ever get sick of it?"
The blonde stuck a tongue out at her, before setting the tray down on the bed.
"Here, Ayame! Breakfast in bed!" winked Naruto.
The girl blushed slightly. "Arigatou, Naruto-kun, but you shouldn't hav"
"Eat!" Naruto interrupted, a foxy simper on his face.
The girl sighed in mock exasperation, but slowly ate the noodles. It was delicious.
"Wow, I never knew instant noodles were this good!" exclaimed Ayame.
Naruto pouted, a hurt expression on his face. "Instant noodles! Hey! I made these myself!"
Ayame giggled. "Really? Wow, they taste really good!"
Naruto felt blood rushing to his cheeks. "Eh. . .hehe. . .its n-not as go-good as yours, Ayame-chan," he suddenly stuttered weakly.
The girl noticed his strange behaviour, but mentally shrugged it off. She quickly finished her ramen, enjoying the tantalising after-taste in her mouth.
The birds chirped brightly, fluttering around in play under the morning sun.
"Arigatou, Naruto-kun," Ayame said softly after she placed her empty bowl down.
Naruto laughed it off. "It was no problem, Ayame-chan! I'll be here for you, anytime!"
The girl shivered slightly with a surprising warmth that spread throughout her at the loudmouth's words.
Anytime. . .
Ayame wiped the sweat away from her forehead delicately with her sleeve. The Ichiraku had been bustling today, and she nearly messed up with the orders twice.
The moon had already risen high. It was late at night. Already, the dank orange clouds of the next thunderstorm rumbled overhead, steadily covering the village.
Ayame hurriedly tidied up the shop, before pulling the door down and locking it. Stuffing her apron into her bag, the girl hurried to the hospital, anxious to see her grandfather. She did not go her usual morning visit, due to her waking up late at Naruto's.
The bright lights of the hospital twinkled brightly at Ayame as she stepped lightly into the building and towards the receptionist.
"Hello," she greeted politely. "Ichiraku Ayame, here to visit my grandfather, Ichiraku Takashi."
The receptionist smiled. "Hello, Ayame. Your grandfather is currently in Room 231, recovering from his operation."
"Operation!" sputtered Ayame, a sudden, cold dread rattling her bones. "What operation!"
"Hmm? Didn't you know? A blond, with striking blue eyes came in just last night. He was drenched, that poor boy, but he said that he was helping you pay for the operation. His face was covered by a mask, and he gave me all 80,000 yen for the operation," narrated the receptionist. "And don't worry about your grandfather! The operation was a success! He's probably still asleep now. . .hey!"
Ayame was already out the door, her eyes wide with shock as her mind sluggishly tried to digest the new information. She felt the world spinning; the corners of her eyes were wet.
Naruto! It. . .it must have been him!
A strange ache tugged her chest. A small, round tear streak down the left of her face. She ran, almost blindly, only pausing to make sure she was heading towards the right direction. A dull rumble echoed across the orange sky. The soft grassy scent of coming rain filled her senses.
Her loud steps rang incessantly in her ears. A tall, orange building loomed over her. She dashed in, uncaring, turning around corners, twisting around potted plants, before finally reaching her destination.
Naruto's apartment door was silent and unspeaking as it stood still in the dim corridor light.
Panting, Ayame raised her hand, and knocked on the door softly.
It was pushed ajar, slowly creeping open to reveal a deserted apartment. The little warmth that Ayame felt yesterday was gone. The couch was overturned, laying on the broken remains of the table. The drawers were left open; the cupboard doors were wide. A cold draft wafted around Ayame, causing the girl to shiver.
It was empty.
"Looking for an apartment, Miss?" a kindly voice suddenly spoke out behind her.
Ayame whirled around, mentally scowling when she saw the rude landlady. A cold dread filled again. Hoping it was not what she thought, the girl, as politely as she could, asked her question.
"Where is Naruto?"
Almost immediately, a look of hatred flashed across the old woman's face. "He's gone, that stupid good-for-nothing demon!" she spat. "Hah! He didn't have money to pay his overdue rent! Good riddance I say!"
Then she went stumbling backwards, a painful sting on his face. Ayame bristled with anger as her palm went to the woman. The elderly looked at the young girl with wide eyes, touching her slapped cheek gingerly.
Ayame glared at her in disgust. Tears streaked down her face. The girl closed them, almost as if she refused to look at the landlady. She shook her head, scattering her tears, and re-opened her bloodshot gaze towards the landlady.
"Naruto, he gave his rent to the hospital, so that my grandfather could afford his lung operation," she hissed hysterically, her voice shaky. "HE DONATED HIS MONEY, EVEN THOUGH HE HIMSELF NEEDED IT! IF HE WAS A DEMON, THEN WHAT ARE YOU!" the girl cried out, screaming at the dazed landlady.
With a final sob, Ayame ran out of the building, desperate to find her. . .friend.
Lighting flashed overhead, illuminating the dark streets in a foreboding white.
Get out, demon!
Naruto slammed his fist against wooden post. His bleeding fingers throbbed with pain. His breath came in a ragged, short bursts.
I had to put up with you for so long. . .be grateful that I didn't kill you in your sleep, demon!
Wooden splinters flew, scattering across the ground. His fist remained planted in the post while his blond hair dangled down, shadowing his face.
YOU KILLED MY SON, DEMON FREAK!
The blonde squeezed his eyes tightly closed, stifling a cry. Blood streaked down the wooden block in winding dribbles. A ominous thunder rumbled around him while the wind picked up speed.
Naruto whipped his head up and saw Ayame hurrying towards him. She stomped though the tall grass. The last sliver of moonlight felt on her, highlighting her velvety, raven-coloured hair.
"A-Ayame-chan?" he said softly, his eyes slightly unfocused.
The girl ran up to him and embraced him. Her arms were swung tightly around his still frame while her eyes were shut tightly. Tears fell from them, dripping in large, wet drops.
"Nar-Naruto. . .you. . .you paid the bills," she whispered in near disbelief. Her voice was dry and quivering while her hands balled up, clutching Naruto's shirt firmly.
"I-I said I would always b-be there for you, Ayame-chan," the boy replied quietly.
"Why?" Ayame asked. "Why did you do it? Why did you sacrifice your home for me?"
Naruto fell silent. He averted his gaze to the ground. The moonlight disappeared as more clouds rushed in, engulf the sky in a dim, bleak orange.
"Why?" she now whispered again.
"I love you."
"You. . .what?" said Ayame, surprise gripping her still body.
"I love you, Ayame-chan," the boy continued. "I know. . .I know you'll never l-like me back. I know I'm probably too young for you.
"Yet, even though I shouldn't have fallen in love, I did. People call me stupid, they call me dumb. I probably am. I cannot express your beauty in word, Ayame: you are beyond them."
Naruto laughed bitterly.
"I'm not poet; I'm no Sasuke. I'm Uzumaki Naruto; vessel of Kyuubi."
What! stared Ayame, her brain freezing up at the mention of the demon fox.
"I'm the demon who created orphans, who left parents childless. I'm the monster that the greatest shinobi feared," said Naruto, his voice cracking with every word. His eyes were distant and dilated as they seem to be in a trance. His mouth was curled in a deranged, yet sombre smile.
"I hold him, Ayame. I hold the fox that slaughtered your parents," the blonde cried. "The beast that left you parentless. . .its in me. . .or is it me? I don't know anymore, Ayame-chan. I can't do this anymore. I can't. . .I want to give up, but I once promised. . .someone that I would never give up."
The raven-haired girl felt her mind turning. Naruto. . .he is Kyuubi? But. . .but. . .
. . ."Here, Ayame-chan! Breakfast in bed!". . .
. . ."Don't worry, Ayame-chan, I'll take of everything!". . .
. . ."Help to be of service!". . .
. . ."I'll be the greatest ninja you've never know, Ayame!". . .
. . ."I'll be here for you, anytime!". . .
Ayame gasped, her eyes wild as she recalled the memories.
. . ."I may be young, Ayame, but I'm no fool! They were bullying you! I'll beat them up for you!". . .
. . ."I promise, Ayame-chan. . .I'll never give up, no matter what! That is my nindo!". . .
"I am a monster, a demon Ayame," whispered Naruto, curling into a ball, hugging his knees tightly. "I am not worthy. . .not worthy. . ."
Naruto glanced sideways in surprise at Ayame's firm reply.
He stiffened as the girl held him close. His fingers relaxed and his knees fell to the ground as the blonde felt his body drawn into Ayame's. He felt her silken fingers hook his chin, bringing his eyes up to meet her hazel-green ones.
Then she descended, catching his unprepared mouth in hers. Her jasmine fragrance filled his tongue. Bliss swept him away. He let himself free, pressing back with equal vigour.
The rain fell in heavy sheets, obscuring the scene with a blanket of cold, yet refreshing water.
Ayame withdrew, staring at Naruto's awed and shocked face with a sad, yet amused chuckle.
"B-but I-I'm a-a" said Naruto, before being cut off by her finger pressed softly against his lips.
"You are our saviour, Naruto," she murmured sincerely into his ear with a light kiss.
The clouds thinned, leaving the moon to bathe the falling rain in glittering, silver light.