Naruto: more than skin deep

Chapter 1

It had been two days since Naruto had left to retrieve Sasuke, and Sakura was worried. I hope Sasuke is okay. As usual, the pink-haired girl had her priorities in order.

Each day she would stand at the main gates, watching for her beloved. Not a single thought ran through her head about how Naruto would be fairing.

The others were very much the same. Kakashi was worried about his star student, Shikamaru was left thinking when he could fight Sasuke, Chouji was content to eat potato chips, Ino was just as worried as Sakura as to how Sasuke was, and Lee and Dog-boy (sorry, forgot his name, plz help me) were busy training.

The only people who worried about Naruto were Iruka, Tsunade, Hinata, and oddly enough, Gaara. But that was it. Had the boy known exactly how many people had cared for him, he would have probably let Sasuke kill him.

As it was, the renegade ninja had done a good enough job on his own. it was the talk of the town when a faint dust trail was seen, and it was estimated that the two would be there in two hours. However, the two hours came and passed. It was almost five when Naruto finally showed up, carrying a bruised and bloodied Sasuke on his back.

Limping into the main gates, Naruto set the boy down on the ground unceremoniously, much to the annoyance of the vast majority of the village. Breathing shortly, as he was in too much pain to do anything else, Naruto crouched over, as Sakura and the others came up.

Straightening painfully, he forced a smile at Sakura. "I told you… i… would bring…him…back." If he was expecting anything, it wasn't what he received next.


Naruto's eyes widened as he experienced a pain such as nothing else entered his mind. He stared at Sakura, holding his cheek. "How dare you hurt Sasuke-kun like that!" And he was sent into a wall of a building by a spin-kick. Sakura pulled her sleeves up, ready to deal more punishement, as she knew Naruto could handle much more than that.

But the boy didn't move. As the dust cloud from his impact dissipated, it showed Naruto, still against the wall. He coughed once, hard, and blood flew from his mouth. Barely breathing, clawed at the wall, pulling himself up.

In excruciating pain, he stood straight, only to be punched by Ino this time. With his head turned from the blow, Naruto had no way to block what happened next. For the first time, Sakura and Ino worked together, both punching him in the chest.

Also for the first time, they actually heard Naruto scream in pain. The girls looked shocked, and then noticed that their hands were covered in blood.

It was then that Iruka stepped in, pushing the girls to the ground, while ripping open Naruto's shirt. He looked once at the wound before turning and spewing the contents of his stomach all over the ground.

In the middle of Naruto's chest, there was a huge wound, so large you could see all the way through him. the only thing keeping the boy alive were several lines of red chakra. Blood covered Naruto's entire front, not only from the major wound, but also from several holes that looked like puncture wounds from kunai and shuriken.

Stepping back in horror, Iruka felt something he hadn't felt in a long time; anger.

Roaring, he swiveled and hauled the two girls up by the front of their shirts, ready to kill them. "How dare you!" He threw them to the ground, sending them sliding several feet.

Iruka would have most like succeeded in his attempt to kill them, had Tsunade and Kakashi not restrained him. the man was actually foaming at the mouth, clawing at his captives. Sakura and Ino stared at him with frightened eyes. This… this demon was so unlike the Iruka they knew.

"How dare you! Naruto has a hole in his chest the size of a grapefruit and all you do is beat on him, for hurting your traitorous boyfriend! He nearly died to keep you happy! The only thing keeping him alive right now is the damn fox!" There were gasps all around, but nobody said anything. Iruka continued to rant, "He saved my life, right after I had failed him at the Academy! He learned a Jounin technique in just a few hours, and actually beat a Jounin! And what has anyone done to repay him? They curse him, beat him, treat him like dirt, when he should be treated like a hero! I'll kill you, I'll kill you all!"

he actually managed to claw free of Tsunade and Kakashi, and charged the girls, before a hand stopped him. "Wait." Iruka froze at the voice. It could only belong to, "Naruto."

The boy smiled painfully. "Thank you for saying those things about me, you were the first person, besides the third, to treat me like an actual human. I hope you don't mind if I think of you as a big brother. However, as I've actually seen the number of people here who care for me, I feel that it's my time to leave. I might come back, but right now, I don't know. Thank you for all you've done." With that, the horrifically injured boy hugged the first person he considered a friend.

Releasing Iruka, Naruto limped over to Tsunade, who turned pale at the sight of all of the blood. Naruto noticed this and stopped short, not wanting to make his next friend sick. He was shocked when she willing steeped up to him and hugged him lightly. "I understand why you are doing this. I won't label you as a missing nin. Take care of yourself." Naruto nodded, and then turned to Hinata. "You really are cute, it's just hidden when you're so shy."

Hinata blushed heavily, before fainting right then and there. Naruto chuckled, but stopped, coughing up more blood. Tsunade steeped towards him, but he waved her off. "Don't worry, Kyuubi will heal it as soon as we both have enough chakra. The fuzzball and I are too stubborn to die."

Tsunade face-faulted when Naruto called the demon fuzzball. Smiling, Naruto limped through the gates into the forest, leaving the entirety of the village stunned.

Suddenly, the village felt empty, as if it had lost a part of itself. Tsunade watched the boy disappear, and then blew a silent whistle. Instantly, 7 ANBU appeared by her. Pointing to the one wearing a wolf mask, the hokage said, "I want one of you to take Uchiha to the hospital, and placed under heavy guard. The rest, arrest any villager you can find."

For days, naruto walked, as his wounds slowly healed. However, some wounds could never be healed, such as ones in the heart.

2 weeks into his voyage, and he came across a large cave. Taking a glance at the gathering storm clouds, Naruto decided to stay the night in the cave.

Imagine his surprise when a large boulder rolled across the entrance of the cave, just as he entered. With a shout, he beat at the boulder, to no avail. Sighing, he decided the only way left to go was deeper into the cave.

After a walk of nearly 5 minutes, he came across a large room, carved into the stone. In it were various machines and tools that looked as if they were for training. However, the object that really captured Naruto's attention was the large mirror hanging from the wall.

Standing in front of the glass, he smirked at how injured he was, even after two weeks of healing. He was covered in blood, and his shirt was in tatters.

"Damn I'm one ugly bastard." "Got that right." Yelling, Naruto backed away from the mirror, as his reflection had just spoken back to him.

chuckling, the mirror image of him steeped out of the glass. "Yo." Naruto instantly took to a fighting pose. "What the hell are you?" The doppelganger laughed. "Technically I'm you, but that's a conversation for later." Sighing, the clone took a seat one on of the weight machines in the room. "this chamber is where the fourth hokage trained when he was a jounin, in his attempt to become hokage. This cave is a magical place. It allows one to train against himself, so that no matter what, he will never become stronger than himself. If that makes anysense, you need a brain scan."

Looking Naruto in the eye, the clone said seriously, "Actually, it's a surprise that you were even able to enter this room, as only those who are related to the 4th can enter. Well, whatever. So, do you want to become stronger, or simply leave?"

Naruto smiled, "you tell me, after all, you're just like me." The doppelganger grinned, "I thought so."