Title: Dark Places in the Heart

Author: Sintari

Rating: T

Warnings: Het, NaruHina, a bit dark

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

Author's Note: Not my usual style or content. This was written as a challenge and is dedicated to SpitefulMage on LJ. Thanks for getting me to branch out a bit!

"You don't know what it's like. Or maybe you do." The prisoner scratched at a crusted wound on his neck. Naruto's fingers itched to reach through the bars and stop him from irritating the raw spot, but he didn't. He'd done worse than kill those little girls. He deserved what he got.

"Have you ever felt like there's something inside of you that you can't control? Like you're outside yourself. Just watching. Like it's not really you."

Outside the cell, free to go as he pleased, Naruto remained silent.

We're not so different, us and him.

"It wasn't me that hurt those girls." The prisoner suddenly hugged himself. "You have to believe me. It wasn't me!"

Morino Ibiki was arriving just as Naruto was leaving the holding area. Rain slicked his black coat, and his lips were curled into their usual determined grimace.

"Prisoner say anything?"

Naruto shook his head.

His part of the mission was over. They still had three bodies missing, but somebody else would be assigned that detail. After Ibiki did his part of the job. Then the Fire Country daimyo would do his job. And justice would be served for nine little girls and their teacher kidnapped on their fieldtrip to the Inari Shrine.

Hinata waited at home for him. He rarely told her the details of his missions anymore. He didn't want to see her face crumple in horror. He didn't want to hear her cry, or obsessively wash and rewash dishes until the wee hours of the morning. He would bear the stains on his soul for the both of them.

But I want to see her cry.

Naruto ignored the Kyuubi. Its presence wasn't so much a voice in his head, as an impression. When he was a teenager, and the Kyuubi had first begun to make himself known, Naruto had thought its urgings were from the dark parts of his own brain. But the Kyuubi foiled itself with its own strength. The only way Naruto could describe it, when he tried to describe it to himself at all, was that it was like tasting chakra. Like a metal coin on his tongue. Now Naruto swallowed and pushed the Kyuubi down.

Hinata had been in bed when he got home. She blearily greeted him in the kitchen wearing one of her lacy nightgowns. Even in bed, when he was the only one around to see her, she was cautious of propriety.

Rip it off her. She'd let us.

Naruto blinked hard. The prisoner's ravings must have interested the Kyuubi. Sometimes that was all it took, just a choice phrase or a question that hit just a bit too close to home.

"I didn't expect you so soon." Hinata was smiling in that heartbreaking way she did, like she hadn't really expected him to come home at all.

So wounded, this one. She'd do anything for us. To keep us coming home.

"Hinata," Naruto bent down and kissed her on the cheek. "I think I'm going to shower and just go to bed. I didn't sleep last night."

"I'll make tea," she offered.

Naruto shook his head. "I won't be awake long enough to drink it. Go back to bed. I'll be soon."

She made a small, hurt sound in the back of her throat. But then she returned to bed. She would cling to him every second he was home if he let her.

In the shower, Naruto heard the prisoner's words with the pounding of the water. Have you ever felt like there's something inside of you that you can't control?

"No." Naruto hadn't realized he spoke aloud until the noise echoed oddly against the shower tiles. His water had turned cold long ago.

He toweled off his hair and put on a pair of boxers. But when he entered the bedroom the taste of copper filled his mouth, throbbed in his teeth.

They had found the suspect through one little girl who managed to escape. She'd been raped, and had a perfect palm print stretched around her little neck.

Can't scream that way, Kyuubi had been thinking at the time. Pity.

Naruto climbed into bed and looked over at his wife. Her eye lashes were shadows on her cheeks, and she had one hand tangled up in the covers. She was almost like a little girl herself, when she slept.

Have you ever felt like there's something inside of you that you can't control? The Kyuubi mocked him. Unwillingly, Naruto reached over and stroked Hinata's cheek.

She wouldn't scream at first. I wonder what we would have to do to make her scream.

Naruto snatched his hand away from his wife's face. She hadn't even stirred. It would be so easy to snake a hand around her throat. But it was true. She would do almost anything for him. Anything he asked. Sometimes, when she looked at him that way, the way that silently pleaded with him not to leave her, to love her, even though she didn't believe she deserved love herself, well… It would almost be a relief to rid himself of that overwhelming need. Sometimes he just wanted to…

Naruto realized then that, for the last few moments he hadn't tasted the metal in his mouth at all.

Have you ever felt like there's something inside of you that you can't control?