Life on Mute: Meet Morino Ibiki


'Don't speak,' Ibiki cut him off, 'you inhaled a large amount of smoke, damaging your lungs and vocal cords. The doctors believe you may recover in time, however, for the moment, you shouldn't try to speak. Or else you may damage them irreparably.'

Naruto nodded his head in understanding, his eyes downcast.

'Don't worry though, I will be teaching you various forms of sign language and other forms of communication, such as one handed sign, ANBU sign and sound code, standard sign, and finally Morse Code. This will make your fingers very agile, improving your hand seals, and make you very versatile in situations where silence is of the essence.'

Naruto's eyes brightened ever so slightly, even Ibiki, a master at the arts of emotion, barely perceived it. What have they done? This child was none for his constant smile. His smile is not but the twitch of the muscles around his eyes. Were the thoughts running through both men's minds.

Naruto motioned for pen and paper with his bandaged hands. When supplied he wrote, "What's wrong with my eye and when can I leave?"

'We are not entirely sure what happened to your eye. It was injured when your face was burned. Several medics attempted to analyze it, even Shizune-san and myself were unable to use any jutsu upon it.' Was the Sandaime's response.

Naruto quickly scribbled, "Burned?"

'I am sorry Naruto; facial scarring is difficult to repair. There is nothing we can do.'

The Sandaime removed a small mirror from his robes, handing it over for Naruto's use. He stared in horror at the ruin that was his face. A large bandage covered his left eye, while the entire left side of his face was rippled with scar tissue, reminding one of a victim of the worst torture. A silent sob ripped from his throat. In an instant Ibiki was at his side, gently cradling the distraught child.

'Shh. Do not think of it. Your face is but a reflection of your experiences. Yours shows me a child who has lived through much, and strived to tell of it. Eyes, however, show one's soul. Yours reflect your trouble, but show you have strived through. Do not let this cloud your eyes, for there lays the path to self loathing and ultimately destruction of your soul.' At Naruto's apprehensive look Ibiki sighed. 'We can also buy an ANBU mask. Perhaps a fish, or maybe a chicken, even better yet, a cow?' Naruto's eye gave another small twitch. 'Ah yes, I can see it now, the feared ANBU captain, the Black Cow of Death. Feared across the continent for his prowess in battle with his utter attacks and cow pie shuriken.' Naruto's eye gave another twitch, leaving Ibiki satisfied that he had broken Naruto's depression to a measurable degree.

"When can I leave" he reiterated on the pad of paper.

Here Sarutobi stepped forward to explain the situation. 'The scars received in the fire can prove to be crippling. As such, you will need to undergo intensive physical therapy to keep the scars from making you bed ridden. You will need to stay within the hospital for at least two months. After that you will move in with Ibiki, where you will start training to keep in shape. You will have once a week check up for a year, then monthly ones till you become a gennin, at which point they will be once every two months. When you're not in therapy Ibiki will be teaching you.'

The next several months were hell for the young Uzumaki. Therapy sessions left exhausted physically, while Ibiki's lessons left him mentally so. His walls fell under the relentless prodding's. Still, he had become a quite withdrawn. His once bright eyes had lost their hope, leaving the one visible one looking dead. Only in the presence of Ibiki or Sarutobi could make him relax his mask, but he would never drop it.

After sixty-four days in recovery, Uzumaki Naruto was deemed ready for release into the custody of Morino Ibiki. He would return to the hospital every Tuesday for a check-up. Meanwhile Ibiki would only receive missions within Konoha, freeing his time up to train Naruto in the basics of chakra control and taijutsu.

The first stop for Naruto and Ibiki was a stop at a clothing store. Naruto's new self conscious streak heavily influenced the outcome of his new look. He now sported a bandana such as Ibiki wore. A plain half ANBU mask adorned the left side of his face, with a covered eye slit. He wore standard black sandals and socks. Black cargo pants covered his legs, with the calves wrapped in black fighting wraps. A loose black turtle neck covered his torso, with more bandages wrapped around his fore arm. Black gloves with ionized black metal backings finished off the appearance.

Two months after his release from the hospital, Naruto was returning alone to the flat he shared with Ibiki, after finishing his latest therapy session. Ibiki was unable to attend today as a jounin spy from Grass had been caught. Do to the delicacy of the situation; Ibiki had been called in immediately.

Naruto had been nervous about going alone, so a white haired chunin instructor had been called in for escort duty.

As Naruto and his escort rounded the corner, several chunin, jounin, and even an ANBU, surrounded the pair.

"What's happening Mizuki-san?" Naruto signed.

'Just a little party.' He chuckled as he moved backwards towards the ring.

'Yah. A going away party. Just for you.' Said the ANBU.

As if rehearsed, the group let loose a barrage of kunai and shuriken. The projectiles were thrown so as to scare and injure their target, not kill it. For they had not yet had their fun. One such instrument cut the masking half, revealing his scarred visage.

'Ah. I had no idea that my previous work was so successful. I even got an eye for my efforts.' Laughed the ANBU.

Suddenly, Naruto's hand flew to said eye, as he felt as if it were on fire. It burns. He thought to himself over and over as he dropped to his knees.

'Look at me when I'm speaking you filthy demon. I said look!' screamed the enraged ANBU.

He roughly gripped Naruto's chin and jerked him up to eye level, suspending him above the ground.

'What's wrong? Where did that annoyingly cheerful smile go? Where is that loud laugh? Or did I already break you? Answer me!'

The burning in his eye reached a crescendo. The air around him crackled with power. The air went thick and killer intent swept the men. Paralyzing the weaker men, some even soiling themselves. A burning eye of solidified chakra revealed itself to all in a massive wave of killing intent (think LOTR eye), washing over all of Konoha. The air around Naruto's body crackled as burning chakra solidified about him in a fiery tornado. The solid fire lashed out at the crowd, both cutting, burning, and smashing its wielders attackers.

A piece of black fire shot out to pierce the ANBU's heart, reducing his chest to ashes. Another gout of blue flame whipped out at Mizuki, cutting him in half. A final blast spiraled outward from his body, killing a few and scattering the rest. The void finally claimed his sight. Just before striking the ground, gentle hands carried him away.

The incident was written off as self defense by the Hokage, leaving Naruto free of repercussions. Not that anyone would retaliate. The wave of killer intent and story of how the child controlled fire and killed an ANBU and some other ninjas swept the city. What once inspired hate and loathing now inspired fear. Those who saw the child quickly looked away or pretended he wasn't there. This suited Naruto just fine, as he preferred solitude.

Over the years his control of the demonic chakra fire improved. The blue flames acted as kunai, shuriken, katana, and any other weapon, in that he could form it into almost any shape and cut through stone. As such he had no need for the standard utility belt. His black fire, however, was of an intensity not seen in most jounin's careers. The barest brush with it could leave not but ashes and molten stone. Throughout Konoha it was feared as Hell's Black Flame. Of all who feared it, none feared it more than its own wielder, Uzumaki Naruto. The mere thought of its destructive power would send shivers through his spine. Its use would leave him crippled with fear, but fear of another confrontation with his tenant drove him to practice with it at least enough to satisfy Kyuubi.

His demon eye was now covered with an opaque lens in place of what was once a blank half an ANBU mask. At night people would swear that the lens glowed red with suppressed hate or power. Yet all agreed it to be an ill omen.

While his childhood was rough, it was still bearable. He always had his outo-san, as Morino Ibiki had adopted him as his own two years after the attack. Sarutobi also would have him act as assistant when Ibiki was working. Even though this greatly helped in his recovery, it left him with few social skills. It was therefore determined by Ibiki and Sarutobi that Morino Naruto would be entered into the academy for the last year of school.

Naruto quickly set up an acquaintance with Shikamaru and Shino, as Shikamaru's laid back style and Shino's solitary presence left him at ease. Both had also been taught basic sign by their clans. Although very bored, due to his extensive training by his outo, the Academy greatly helped Naruto in ways his outo couldn't. The year crawled by and the Gennin Exams approached.

AN/ Sorry for lag but I was sick last week. Thanks to reviewers. I'll explain why there are no responses though. Personally, I hate when an author goes on for an entire page on reviews. Sorry if you're offended. I will respond if someone is completely lost or stupid.