Skeletons in the Closet
Author's Notes: This is my first Naruto fanfic, even though I've been writing fanfiction for other series for years now. I hope you like this, and any reviews are welcome. Thank you!
Standard disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me.
Sasuke was starting to realize some god up there hated him. He didn't want to be here, but at the moment, he didn't really have a choice. He needed a place to live—his family practically kicked him out once he turned twenty and became an adult. Not that they phrased it that way—but he could see the struggle it put on the family. They never were overly close or affectionate, and he knew this would be the best thing. Once he had a good job, and a solid lifestyle—then he could send money back home. For now…the only place to start was at the bottom, and work his way up. Thus--
"And this apartment complex currently has a few spaces open…" Sasuke blinked and focused on the woman behind the counter, who was currently staring at him more than her computer screen. "It's in a nice, safe area—close to…" Her voice trailed off, becoming puzzled. "That's strange… I thought there was another town near here…" She shrugged as she typed a few more things into her computer, then she turned to give him a broad smile. "Well, it won't be like you're completely isolated, but it's not in the middle of the big city, either." Her smile widened. "And it looks like they need a caretaker—your rent would be dropped to almost half if you stayed in the main building and looked after the place." There was something fishy about the whole thing, but he was tired and cranky and didn't have a lot of options offered. It wasn't as if the Fire Country boasted many universities, and even fewer places with cheap housing.
Sasuke had been stuck in the office all day, he would take a shack by the roadway at this point. "Fine." He murmured, maintaining his calm façade by the thinnest of margins. "I'll take it." He didn't exactly know what 'caretaker' involved, but since he never listed any handyman skills, he figured that it was mainly watching over the place and checking to make sure it wasn't falling apart on the people that lived there. Plus, it would save him money.
The real estate agent smiled and printed off a stack off papers, watching Sasuke the entire time he went through the contracts and finally signed them. At least he would have his own place for the first time in his life. No one but him.
"I'm going to kill that lady." He muttered, eyes narrowed as he surveyed the 'apartment complex.' It was in obvious need of repair, the only 'good' apartment was the one that he was living in, and his was the only one with someone living in it. The entire place was deserted, and he was miles from the nearest town. "If I hadn't already made an agreement…"
But it was too late to back out now, since all of his stuff had already been moved in. And…he was free. The fact that he was the only one there didn't bother him, really—he liked being alone. He didn't like the inconvenience of being so far away from town. With a sigh, he unlocked his door and got ready to arrange his stuff from where the movers left it. He was already in the door and halfway to his room before he realized that he wasn't alone.
Startled blue eyes met his, and Sasuke got a bare glimpse of blond hair before the figure vanished—quite literally. He stared at the empty space where the person had been a second ago, and rubbed his eyes. He was seeing things. This place was ancient and now his imagination was imagining ghosts. Blond-haired, blue-eyed ghosts no less. He gave a mental groan as he plugged in his radio, flipping on the music so the total silence didn't get to him and make him start hallucinating. Somehow I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time in town.
He had just finished putting the last box away when he saw the blond figure again, and was starting to get annoyed. He knew there had to be some type of kids around—playing stupid tricks or games in the abandoned apartment complex, but he never knew that kids could vanish without warning. This time the person stayed, the colors sharpening until he could actually see the person.
It was a guy his age—spiky blond hair restrained by a bandanna thing and dressed in some type of uniform. Blue eyes focused on him, and it took Sasuke a moment to register the scars lining the strange boy's cheeks. It took him another moment to realize that the boy was transparent, that the early morning sunlight that streamed through the windows went through him just as easily. And he was floating. He knew living here was a mistake.
A rude voice snapped him out of his musings of just moving back home, so he didn't have to deal with the weirdness involved in this place. "What're you doing here?" The boy demanded, eyes narrowed at Sasuke. "You're not supposed to be here."
"I live here." Sasuke snapped back, automatically on the defensive. "This is my apartment. You can have one of the other ones." He smirked. "If you can find one that's livable. I think this is the only one with running water and electricity."
The figure rolled his eyes. "Not like I really give a shit about that stuff, but I'm not going to leave this apartment." His eyebrow rose as he smirked at Sasuke. "Going to try and make me?" He taunted.
Sasuke glared right back at him. "I paid for this place, it's the only one that I can live in, and no damn weirdo with a tendency to scar up his face is going to push me out of my place." He reached for his phone. "I can call the cops and have you arrested for trespassing." He threatened. He wasn't sure if it would do any good—maybe the kid was good at illusions like he saw some of the shinobi near his old town do—but it didn't hurt to try.
The strange guy started laughing, shaking his head at the same time. "You blind or something?" He grinned widely at the annoyed Sasuke. "I'm dead, you moron." There was a certain sort of glee attached to that word, as if the stranger got a kick out of being able to call someone that.
He probably got called a moron his entire life…He paused to look at him. And deserved it, too. Although… "Ghosts don't exist." He said stiffly. "You're just some kid or something that knows shinobi tricks." He rolled his eyes. "Anyone could do them."
"Not anyone could do them, idiot. You have to be taught them, and while I am a shinobi, it doesn't change the fact that I'm a dead one." He seemed remarkable cheerful about the fact, and the whiskers combined with his wide grin made him look like a fox. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto—and you must be Sasuke."
Sasuke felt his eyes widen in shock before he put on his usual impassive face. "Spying on the movers as they came in?" He asked coolly. "For a ghost, you're pretty rude." Hs tone said that he didn't believe that "Naruto" was a ghost at all.
Naruto snorted and pointed to one of the boxes still laying around. "They had your name all over it, dumbass." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Look—I'm not budging from my nice afterlife spot, and you're going to stay here—so as long as you stay out of my way, we'll get along fine." With those words, he started to fade away. "And don't go snooping around."
Sasuke snorted and rolled his eyes. He was going to have a long talk with the real estate agent about the place he got stuck living in.
"What do you mean, this place was never supposed to be up for rent?" He demanded. "I bought the place? How the hell do you accidentally sell a crumbling apartment complex to somebody?"
"We're sorry, sir—but the contract is quite clear. You are now the sole owner of the Uchiha estate." The man had a high, whiny voice that grated on Sasuke's ears and made him want to scream.
He never expected to own the crumbling buildings, the floors of some of them so rotted through that he didn't even want to venture in them. The whole place was creepy, and even though the only ghost he saw was Naruto, there was something that hung in the air here that made him shiver.
"Fine." He snarled, finally losing his temper. "I'll figure something out and get all of this mess reversed." He slammed the phone down and turned around, no longer surprised to see Naruto hovering around. "And what do you want?" He snapped.
Naruto just grinned. "It isn't every day that I can see you lose it like that." He chuckled. "It's almost unreal to see all that emotion on your face." He mock shuddered. "I'd be scared if I wasn't already dead."
Sasuke just snarled at him. "You're not helping." He bit out. "How the hell did I become the owner of this place?" He gestured to the wide expanse of grounds, eyes narrowed. "It's a disaster waiting to happen—they should have torn it down a long time ago." He looked huffy. "It would take a fortune to repair this mess."
Naruto gave him an impassive look, no emotion on the usually-easy-to-read face. "You don't have the right to make those choices." He said softly. "Even if you're the owner, you should respect the past. This place is pretty old." His gaze was far away for a moment. "But I'm sure that someone would be willing to help fix it up again."
"Like you, Naruto?" He questioned, voice disbelieving. "It's not like you can do much, since you're pretty insubstantial." He smirked and waved a hand through Naruto's middle, somehow amused by the fact that he could do it. He smirked at him and 'tried' to lift a hand, which only went through his.
"And you're really stupid." Naruto rolled his eyes and ignored the rude way Sasuke was acting, eyes closing for a moment. The book near them lifted easily and drifted over to them. As easily as if he held it in his hands, the pages turned—all without Naruto or Sasuke physically touching it. "I've known how to manipulate energy my entire life. It's just a bit different once I became a ghost."
Sasuke's eyes widened at that, a little bit of appreciation creeping into them. It seemed that there was a lot that he didn't know about Naruto—of his past or what he could do—as a ghost or when he was alive. The only thing he could figure out was that before he died, he was some type of higher ranking shinobi. He never saw many of them where he lived because there simply wasn't the need for them, but he was wearing the type of clothing he had seen a teacher shinobi wear one time. The next time Naruto was 'out', doing whatever he did—he would do some snooping.
"So maybe you are good for something besides being a window." He smirked. "I still don't care about this dump, and as long as my current apartment keeps standing, the rest can rot." His fist clenched for a moment, eyes dark. "Some things in the past are meant to fall apart."
Naruto gave a sharp laugh, no humor in it. "Maybe you're right about that." His gaze met Sasuke's, and he could almost forget that Naruto wasn't alive sometimes—there was so much emotion, so much vibrancy in the way he moved and spoke sometimes. "But this particular piece of the past is something that I'll guard for a long time."
It was on one of his few trips to town that he noticed the number of shinobi increasing, sometimes around him and sometimes just…around. He had lived in a fairly calm part of the city growing up—and while this didn't seem to be too exciting either, there was an undercurrent of activity that was almost constant. It was starting to unnerve him, and while the company at his apartment wasn't the best in the world, it was better than the unsettling stares he got from people in the main part of town. He felt that he was being watched, even when nobody was around and he was almost willing to break down and ask Naruto for answers.
Almost. He wasn't quite that desperate to ask the annoying, loud-mouthed ghost anything that would increase the superior looks Naruto gave him. So what if he didn't know about how to fix up a place? There was a constant, edgy battle between the two of them, Naruto messing up his stuff whenever he could and Sasuke not being able to do much of anything. He hadn't figured out how to thwart the ghost yet, and the fact that Naruto was a shinobi made it worse. Even if he couldn't 'fight' the way he was able to when he was alive, he obviously retained many of the skills that involved energy. Sasuke nearly had a heart attack that one time he saw about ten Naruto's hovering around him, all of them mocking him.
He wondered if had anything to do with where he lived. He stayed mostly silent at school and didn't interact with many people—so he wasn't sure how it came out where he lived. He did hear remarks about how 'creepy' it was that he lived in a haunted place. He only smirked to himself at their murmurings. If they only knew that Naruto was far from frightening. A pain in the ass to be certain, but certainly not scary in the least.
"You're Sensu Sasuke?" A voice near him asked, and he looked up in surprise to see the girl standing next to him. He thought he was all alone in the library, and wasn't expecting anyone to be suddenly there. Not that he had any particular claim to the library, it was just startling to be suddenly interrupted. He gave a nod in answer to her question, and gestured for the girl to sit down. Even when his only company at home was a ghost, he hadn't lost his manners entirely.
She gave him a broad smile. "I'm Nawa Kuri. Everyone's been eager to talk to you, since you live in that old shinobi estate, so they sent me to tackle you." She explained with a grin. "No one ever wanted to be there because of it.." She made a face, completely oblivious to the look Sasuke was giving her. "It's haunted, you know."
Trying to nurse the sudden headache, he gave a slight smirk. "Oh, don't listen to any of that nonsense." He could shoot down Naruto when the ghost wasn't around to counteract anything. "It's just a bunch of hot air—"
The girl's eyes widened at that, and her braids flipped from side to side as she shook her head. "Oh, no—I know it's haunted. I've been there before, you know." Her smile was a touch proud. "My family used to be part of Konoha—but they left early on and didn't come back—they felt that raising their children outside of the village would have been better." She fiddled with the edge of a tasseled bookmark.
Eyebrows raising, he observed Kuri more closely. She looked perfectly normal, if a little childish with the braids, but she claimed to have been to his apartment. And seen ghosts there. "What kind of ghost did you see?" He questioned.
Her eyes flicked away for a moment. "Just Naruto. He's been there for a long time—he was there before the Uchiha estate came visible to those outside of Konoha." Her eyes dropped down to her lap again as she continued to fiddle with the bookmark. Her gaze met his, a little curious. "Don't you see Naruto sometimes? He told me he stuck around so he could watch the place."
Sasuke pondered answering her—it could be just a trick, but she knew Naruto… well, knew of him, at the very least. He finally conceded with a nod. "Yeah, he pops in every once in a while." He shrugged. He didn't mention that he was around all the time, and starting to driving Sasuke nuts.
"Well, he doesn't like hanging around people much, so don't expect to see him a lot." She got up, a smile on her face as she extended her hand. "We'll have to talk more, Sensu-san. I have to run to a class, but it's nice to know that you saw Naruto and you don't seem overly disturbed by it. Some people can't get used to living so close to Konoha and not see it"
He stared at the spot she sat, long after she was gone, wondering just what she was talking about. He decided that today he would take his chance to investigate his home more carefully. There were a few rooms that he hadn't got to yet, and with this sudden increase of information, he was that much more eager to find out.
He found the storage room almost by accident, and he was glad that Naruto wasn't around to mock him or trail him. He felt vaguely guilty about going through items that didn't belong to him, but he figured that no one else was around to claim it anymore—so whatever was left, was his to examine.
There were boxes full of dusty scroll and clothing, a few locked cabinets, and one huge trunk. That caught his eye the most, as it easily took up half of the room, and the locks broken. I can get into this one… and there is bound to be something interesting in something that big.
The trunk held an odd collection of shinobi weapons, most of a type he never saw before. There was a large, four-sided weapon that was a larger version of 'ninja stars' that didn't look easy to wield, and a set of sharp, ebony knives that had a small loop at the end of their handles. Sasuke picked several of the smaller knives up, resting them in his hand for a moment, then slipping them between his fingers. He made a fist and it was eerie at how easily they fit there, with the way it looked and felt. He dropped the small knives into the trunk, the clatter somewhat dulled by the fabric lining the compartment.
His hands reached for some type of head accessory next, the durable fabric hardly faded, a metal plate sewn or fixed somehow to the front of it. There was a spiral symbol on the front, in the vague shape of a leaf. It was similar to something he spotted Naruto wearing once or twice, and while Naruto's had a few nicks and looked beat up, this one had a deep scratch across the spiral symbol, as if someone was trying to erase the meaning. He rested that in his lap, then examined the other items nestled in the many compartments of the trunk. He was so caught up in the weaponry that he almost missed the small stack of pictures at the bottom of the trunk.
He was just reaching for a small, cracked frame at the bottom when the trunk slammed closed. Sasuke barely moved his hands out of the way before they got caught. Looking up, he came face to face with an angry Naruto, blue eyes narrowed and fists clenched.
"Didn't anyone teach you to respect other people's stuff?" He growled. His hands moved rapidly, Sasuke not catching what he was doing or the meaning of it. Something glowed around the edge of the trunk for a moment, but Sasuke resisted the urge to see just what happened.
"Considering you're dead and this is my apartment, I don't see where it really matters." He crossed his arms over his chest, fighting to keep his superior look on his face. He was beginning to realize that all the teasing that Naruto did before was just that…teasing. It was nothing compared to the anger he felt emanating from the ghost now. If the visible crackle of energy around Naruto was any indication, it would seem the wise decision would be for Sasuke to give up the fight and retreat for the moment.
He never had been very good at giving up, though. It was his apartment now, damnit—and while he felt slightly guilty at going through Naruto's things (there was something to be said for respecting the dead, after all) he wasn't going to budge on this one. "Look, you're already dead, everyone in your past is dead, and you can't use the weapons anymore—what harm could it do for me to see them?" His voice was calm, reasonable.
Naruto looked surprised at that, his anger fading slightly, but not all the way.. The violent energy dissipated, but the whisker marks across his cheeks seemed to stand out, even in his ghostly form. "Yeah, so they are." He muttered. "It doesn't mean that you have any right to go poking around and making fun of even more things you don't understand." He snorted and gestured to the trunk. "You probably wouldn't know what to do with a single weapon in there, and you're what… eighteen? Nineteen? I was twelve when I became a gennin." His voice was thick with contempt.
Simply giving him a look of disgust, Sasuke crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't really care about the weapons." He was lying and was sure that Naruto could see it, but the weapons really did take second place to snooping out Naruto's past. There was something there that he didn't want him to find, and Sasuke was determined to get at the bottom of it. It was quickly becoming a personal goal. "I wanted to see the pictures. Maybe find out what you looked like when you weren't see through." He smirked. "Although I'm sure people can appreciate the sunlight going through you, instead of blocking it."
Naruto growled and stuck his nose up in the air. "Well, your life sucks, doesn't it?" He sneered. "You're not going to get a chance to see them—you don't need to, cause it isn't any of your business who my friends were in the past." There was the faintest hint of pain behind the anger as he said the word 'friends', and Sasuke wondered just what drove Naruto to be a ghost. The sooner I can find out, the sooner I can get rid of him and finally be ghost-free.
Rolling his eyes and letting the anger completely drain away, Naruto simply shook his head. "I don't know why you're suddenly so fascinated with me." His eyes gleamed slightly. "You didn't even admit I existed before—so why is the curiosity striking now?" His glance was shrewd, a knowing look—something calculating and a hint of someone that knew how to use those weapons laying in the trunk.
Sasuke gave an uncomfortable shrug, not liking the way Naruto suddenly focused in on him. "Maybe it'll confirm to me that you were a real person once." Naruto seemed to be ever-clearer, even in the dim lighting of the storage room. "Isn't that important?" He pressed. "To be known that you existed, that the people around you know that you're a real person?" He was voicing his own wants and desires—no one had ever really acknowledged him---just his accomplishments. He decided to put one item forth—the only thing he managed to get out of the trunk. Holding up the headband, he watched Naruto carefully.
Naruto sucked in a completely unnecessary breath, eyes going wide with shock, before a brief sign of amusement showed on his face. "Figures you'd find that." He muttered, half to himself. "Okay, snoop—I guess I can tell you something."
Sasuke tried to hold back his smug look of victory, but it was difficult. Naruto simply snorted and sat cross legged in the air, looking completely relaxed. "That is what we called a hitai-ate." He stated simply, pulling off the one he wore and showing Sasuke the similar design. It wasn't like Sasuke could hold it, it being as immaterial as Naruto, but he could see the similarity. "That one belonged to my friend."
Sasuke raised an interested eyebrow. "Why doesn't his family have it or something?" He questioned. "And is there any pictures of this friend?" He wanted to get into that trunk again, but he figured that he would wait until Naruto left. It wouldn't hurt to find out all that he could with the boy's help, though…
Naruto's eyes flashed with that cold anger again, and Sasuke regretted his question almost immediately. Apparently it was the wrong avenue to stroll down. "He didn't have any family." He said bluntly. "They were all murdered by his brother when he was about eight years old." His eyes flicked over to Sasuke, and he smirked faintly. "Why do you think this place is empty, and an attempt made to turn it into student housing? No one else wanted to live here. They thought it was haunted. You're the first one who's stayed in any of the apartments."
Sasuke felt the blood drain out of his face, and he a moment of double-vision, the image of Naruto blurring and replaced with a taller figure with red eyes. "It is haunted, stupid." He managed to get out, trying to cover up how shaken he was with a snappish remark. "You're the one haunting the place, after all."
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Moron. I meant before I died and came to wander around the estate." He shook his head. "This used to be where his family lived—where I came to live after I dragged his ass back home." He noticed the faint question in Sasuke's eyes and shrugged. "I was to be his… guard…for lack of a better word. He did many things against the village, he betrayed me—and he eventually died from the force of the curse that ate away his body."
Now Sasuke snorted, more relaxed now that the initial shock of the mass murder had faded somewhat. "Curses don't exist." He said dismissively. "That's all make believe stuff." He eyed Naruto. While he believe in the ninja-stuff that was obviously part of Naruto's past (after living in Konoha for a few months, he gathered it was a way of life), there were certain limits to his credibility.
Naruto laughed, shaking his head in disbelief. "Just like demons don't exist?" He mocked. "Like ghosts don't exist?" He continued to snicker. "Boy, are you ever dumb. You've lived here for… a few months now?" He raised an eyebrow, the smirk ever-present on his face. "Don't you realize that some of what you see…isn't all of what you see? You may not live in Konoha proper, but you're close enough where some things are glaringly obvious." He gestured to the general set of apartments around them. "The Uchiha estate was sealed off from the rest of Konoha after it's last member died. I took care of it after that."
There was no emotion in Naruto's voice, no inflection at all to indicate how he felt about the matter, to show that he cared his friend had died—or what happened to his friend previously. But whether Naruto realized it or not, he gave up some valuable information—names. Now even if he didn't see the pictures right away, he would still get some answers. And Naruto didn't have to know.
"There isn't much information about the Uchiha clan anymore." Naruto tied his hitai-ate around his forehead again, somehow propelling Sasuke down the hallway and away from the storage room. The bright sunlight hit his eyes unexpectedly and made him wince. "Once an elite Konoha clan, they faded into obscurity. This place is all that really remains of the Uchiha family—and it's not even a part of Konoha anymore." He suddenly paused and looked towards the window, eyes widening slightly. "I wondered what took them so long to get here." He turned to Sasuke and smirked. "It looks like you have company."
Standing by the window, their profile clear, was one of the Konoha shinobi