Disclaimer: I will only say this once. I do not own it.
An AU ficlet by legacyZero
Uzumaki Naruto, aged five and a half, stared in plain horror at the dead bodies of his caretakers. He had seen the puddles of red that formed beneath their still bodies, and he knew instinctually that they were never going to move again. Ever.
Naruto choked back a sob. They had been kind enough to look after him until he could take care of himself, though they never showed him any affection or disapproval like the other parents did with their children. But it was enough at least. It was better than how the rest of the village had treated.
Then he turned to the killer, and he suddenly felt very angry. He was the one who had taken his caretakers from him. With a growl he leapt at the masked ninja, pounding futilely at the waist of the attacker. The attacker scowled, ignoring the boy on his legs. He performed a long set of seals before touching the blonde head of the child.
The boy screamed, clutching his head as if in great pain before he went limp, his bright eyes dulling quickly.
The shinobi smiled, the demon has been purged. Even if it survived that mental attack, it would be living the rest of its pitiful days as a vegetable. He turned his back, preparing to leave before an utter feeling of utmost terror swept over his entire body. He took a look behind him and immediately regretted it.
The once frail and motionless boy was now radiating a power that he had no wish to see again. He had once seen the terrible power that the Kyuubi no Youkai had possessed and he could see it within the demon vessel now. The demon-possessed boy looked up, sullen blue eyes traded for a pair of angry amber which were now staring straight at him.
Slowly, a red chakra began to envelope the boy, and soon, thick ethereal tendrils of crimson began to surround the room. And then it all disappeared in a shockwave of anger and terror that the shinobi was sure that everyone within a fifty kilometre radius had surely felt. Even from here, he could hear the cries and wails of terror from the neighbours next door.
A sudden chill shook him to the core. The jutsu should have rendered the blasted demon spawn mindless, not awaken it! So occupied with his fear, the shinobi failed to realise that the boy had stood up.
Instead of the soft and high pitched voice of a child, he heard a unnatural and almost guttural voice, one that promised pain and death to whoever crosses its path.
"W-what?" The child- no, Kyuubi, had startled him. The jutsu should have rendered the blasted demon spawn mindless, not awaken it!
As if the demon could read minds, it spoke once more. "YOU HAVE DESTROYED HIS MIND, AND IN THAT, YOU HAVE FREED ME MOMENTARILY. FOR THAT, YOU HAVE MY GRATITUDE. HOWEVER YOU HAVE HARMED MY VESSEL AND BY EXTENSION, YOU HAVE HARMED 'ME'. AND I DO NOT SPARE THOSE WHO WISH TO DO ME HARM."
Before he could even register the words, the boy disappeared from view. It happened so fast, that the shinobi did not realise that his body was torn asunder and that he was already dead.
Knowing that the one who had hurt his vessel has been killed, the Kyuubi returned back into its prison willingly before the seals reacted to the Youkai's presence. Amber eyes slowly shifted back into lifeless blue, the boy stood there, standing in the warm entrails of the one he had killed, for as long as his legs could support him.
It would take another ten minutes before the ANBU finally came and took the boy away.
( I I I )
Never did he think that he would have to come here again.
It was 4 metres wide and 4 metres across, and the walls were painted a bright white, reinforced with numerous chakra seals and containment wards. It looked like just like any other cell which could be found in the underground ANBU facility, and one might not know that it was here where Orochimaru was held for a week or two before his grisly experiments had been found out.
Such a simple looking cell to hold one of the most notorious of missing-nins in history. But that had been a long time ago, and Sarutobi tried to suppress his disappointment, shame and anger when he thought of his once quiet prodigy.
But now, a new tenant had taken the place of his old student. One that far surpassed his genius student in terms of notoriety. Ironically, it was hard to believe that he was only five years old.
Before long, he stopped at the large and imposing metal door at the far end of the corridor, the pathway behind him sealed by an identical door of iron. Briefly, he looked at the two ANBU who were his guards for another one of his untimely visits, and he was not surprised to find that he could not discern anything from their body language. With his pipe in hand, he waved off his escort detail, who immediately stepped back as door to the cell parted to reveal the sole occupant within.
He was a small thing, with a messy blonde crop that was his hair. His cheeks were whiskered, like a feline, a gift from his 'tenant' most likely. However, his hands were bound by a straight jacket, their purpose not to prevent harm to its wearer but rather protect the medic-nins who came regular to feed the boy. But the most remarkable of his features were his eyes, which were constantly shifting from sapphire blue to angry crimson, but no matter what colour they were, they had always possessed that unfocused glint which told the world that he wasn't there. It had been 6 months ago since the attack on Uzumaki Naruto which had left two innocents and a revenge-stricken shinobi dead and his mind shattered. The Council decided it was for the village's benefit and not young Naruto's, for him to be locked away from the populace, in fear that he would become berserk.
Sarutobi found it quite cruel to hold a child in solitude for such a long time but his duty always came first before his humanity. And Naruto was unfortunately a victim of circumstance.
"Naruto-kun," The 3rd Hokage of the Leaf said, "How are you feeling today?"
Naruto didn't response nor did he take any notice to his visitors, simply opting to stare at the white bleached walls of his prison for as long as it took. Sarutobi sighed. It had been always like this for the past half a year. Sarutobi would ask a load of questions while young Naruto simply sat uninterested and seemingly trapped within his whole world. He wanted to help the boy but it was up to Naruto to decide whether or not he wanted that help.
Slowly, the boy turned his head to face the man, his eyes were as blank as the whites of the wall but Sarutobi could see a glimmer of recognition within those dead eyes. It was rare when Naruto moved on his own will and it was even rarer when he looked at you at all. And Sarutobi intended to make as much progress as he could with the Demon Vessel.
"That's good to hear, Naruto-kun."
He would have sentenced the fool that caused the boy to be in this state to death, if he wasn't already dead at the hands of young Uzumaki. The Medic-nins had no explanation as to why Naruto had become dead to the world. They said that it may be due to the trauma he had experienced and that it would help if someone would talk to him once in a while. Knowing that many of his shinobi would rather die than do it, he took it upon himself to visit whenever he had free time to spare.
"You have come here for a reason...what is it?" The boy rasped lightly, his voice hoarse from disuse.
Sarutobi was surprised before he brightened a bit. The boy was cunningly sharp.
"How would you like it if you could get out of here?"
Naruto looked puzzled at the question. "Out...of here?" He asked in return, trying to understand the concept of another world than the one he was currently trapped in.
"Yes," The Hokage nodded, "Fresh air, sunlight, freedom, and people-"
Naruto shook his head. "No."
Sapphire eyes stared at him. "People hurt me the last time."
"But you don't know that it would happen again", He pointed out, gesturing to the cell, "Surely you want freedom from this place."
Naruto stared blankly at the man.
"No. People will hurt me again." The boy's head shifted away, a move which Sarutobi recognized as dismissal from the part of Naruto.
Sarutobi frowned; even though Naruto's brain functions had been severely limited, he was not in the least dumb. It had been an improvement from the time when they first brought him in, and it is all the more that convinced him to force, if necessary, Naruto back into the world. He was also sure that the Kyuubi played no small part in the repairing of Naruto's damaged psyche, but it seemed that the damage done was not as reversible as he thought. Still, it was better than nothing. Mind jutsu were terribly tricky to heal.
"Naruto," He bent down to meet the boy on his level. "They will not hurt you again, I promise."
Pure blue eyes turned to regard him, the cog of the mind of a five year old turning ever slowly to process his words. He was telling the truth, for the record. He had made sure that nobody who knew his secret could harm the boy. There was a sudden flash of crimson that Sarutobi knew, was not natural; a cunning intelligence that was lurking behind those child-like eyes, trying to discern whether or not he was telling the truth. It was disturbing, to say the least.
Then almost as fast as it came, the light vanished and the boy was fully Naruto again. "Promise?" He asked, and Sarutobi noticed that he sounded just like any other child when they were insecure about something.
Sarutobi took a good look at him; there was no emotion in his eyes, no malice, no expectations, just sparkling curiosity.
"Yes, I promise."
( I I I )
Silence reigned as the First Year Academy students sat very, very still. It was hard to believe that just seconds ago they were acting their age. Which namely consisted of crying, screaming, making an indecent amount of noise and repeating them until they either ran out of energy or until a adult came to control them.
Of course, they were aged five and a half, and had enough energy to make a Chuunin tired if not carefully monitored. Not to mention, it would take an especially skilled adult to make them compile with his demands.
And Umino Iruka was that person.
He stood in front of his appointed class, his face stern as if daring anyone to even make a peep. Deciding that he had the brats' attention, he spoke.
"Welcome to the Ninja Academy. I'm Iruka-sensei or just plain sensei if you wish. For the next six years or so, you will be learning the basics of being a ninja, and I will be here to teach you whatever you may need as you take your first steps towards the life of a shinobi."
There was a chorus of 'Hai, Iruka-sensei.'
Satisfied, he was about to roll call when a knock came from the door before it opened to reveal someone Iruka did not expect to see. The stern expression melted into a frantic one as he recognized the person at the door.
"I just came by to deliver a new student. You wouldn't mind would you?" It wasn't uncommon for the man to bring wayward students back into the classroom, though it was a surprise in itself as the Hokage was normally busy. That being said, Iruka had noticed a small child clutching the hand of the Hokage, his hair was blonde and looked strangely familiar though Iruka could not remember where he had seen the boy. But before he could try to recall, he remembered that the Hokage was still awaiting his response.
"O-Of course not! There is enough space in the class!" He exclaimed, feeling very flustered indeed.
Still smiling, the old man, otherwise known as the most powerful ninja in the village, gently ushered in the boy. The boy didn't relent on his grip and instead held it harder, for the Hokage winced a bit before bending down to whisper something into the boy's ear. Almost immediately, he had let go and hopped towards the empty seat that Hokage pointed to. Strange child, that one was.
Iruka picked up his attendance sheet and found that the Hokage had not given the name of the boy before he had left.
"What is your name?" Iruka asked, pointing to the blonde in question. The boy was quiet for a moment, as if thinking of an appropriate answer to his question.
"Me?" The boy asked in return, his voice subdued and his face puzzled. He seemed to have trouble remembering as his cherub-like features arched into a frown. Iruka was beginning to find him quite strange indeed. Finally, after a long pause, he spoke. "I'm Naruto, or that's what everyone seems to call me."
Then he saw the whisker marks on each side of his cheek, and froze.
The boy was the vessel for the Kyuubi no Youkai.
A/N: Well this is sort of a experiment for me, in both idea and story style so I would appreciate any feedback I can get. Unbeta-ed, may contain possible errors so on and so forth.