Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine.
Notes: This is by Apple Addiction and 血杜鹃
Warning: It contains some Christianity stuff but not so much that it requires you to understand the bible.
Leap of Faith
by Apple Addiction and 血杜鹃
Sasuke first met Naruto when they were both very young.
It was a harsh winter. Snow descended mercilessly on the whole of Europe, covering everything in its blanket of whiteness. The world was still struggling to recover from the mortal wounds inflicted by the Great War fought not that many years ago. Suffering and poverty was a common sight, as was the general hopelessness and despondence as death crawled stealthily behind the falling temperature. Winter in Germany had never felt so cold. Icy winds tore through the streets, seeping through layers of clothing to bite at frozen fingers. The silence accompanying the season was only broken by the crunching of snow as an occasional passer-by shuffled past, head bowed and eyes vacant.
Sasuke stood with the rest of his congregation on the street, staring numbly at the familiar redness splattered across the many doorways. The Rabbi was praying for the deceased, his old raspy voice sounded strangely like an ancient hymn drifting through the aged ruins of Incas and the forgotten temples of Babylon. The gentle tone splayed its melody-like fingers across their chests and faces, circling the not-so-tiny craters etched in their hearts, slowly pressing down until the pain is numbed, or at least more bearable. The small black figure hunched in the middle was covered with specks of white as the snow continued to fall silently all around them.
Then Sasuke could hear himself screaming.
It was loud and piercing and filled with horrors that eight-year-olds should never have experienced. It was drowning out the wind and the soft words tumbling over one another in their haste to comfort as his world was bathed in red and broken limbs and severed heads. It reminded him of those beautiful, beautiful flowers exposed to the deadly temperature when their protective glass jar was shattered into a million pieces – frozen before they could wilt, frozen in that moment of apocalypse.
Finally, he vomited in front of the bloody remains of his parents, watching as the mixture of blood and vomit melted the snow into a slushy mush, forming a small filthy river that trickled its way down the eighteen levels of Hell. The stench forced the circle to widen and it seemed to Sasuke that he was alone with his river. He thought about falling into it. But he thought it was weird to drown in one's vomit. Then he ceased to think.
He saw that boy in the crowd.
He saw short blonde hair that stuck up messily in all directions framing impossibly blue eyes and a torn, faded jacket – an orphan that was common as day in these times.
However, the glacial feathers of snow soon covered the faded jacket and blurred the edges, leaving only the golden hair and the bright blue eyes in Sasuke's dimming vision.
For a moment, he thought he saw an angel. He closed his eyes and thought that drowning wasn't so bad after all.
When Sasuke woke up a lifetime later at the welfare hospital, they told him that his brother couldn't be found anywhere, dead or alive. They told him that they were sorry but he must be strong and that Itachi would soon be apprehended. They told him many things but Sasuke listened with only half an ear. He had no need of this frivolous information after knowing the truth.
Sasuke stared out of the window into another cold and starless night. The room glowed eerily with the pale light provided by the bare bulb hanging in the middle, hiding more than it revealed. The curtains fluttered uncertainly in the wind, causing shadows to spill across the wall, swaying menacingly from side to side, much like the monsters his mother used to tell him that would eat him up if he didn't fall asleep the next minute.
I killed them, Itachi had said in a voice exuding calmness.
Why? Tell me why! Sasuke was clutching the front of Itachi's mantle so tightly, as if it were a nightmare he could tear apart with bare hands.
Looks like you have also fallen into the lies they've spun. Itachi lifted the corners of his mouth with the usual elegance. Foolish little brother. Sasuke could hear the mockery even in the depths of his unconsciousness.
Do not hate.
Do not despair, the Rabbi had intoned.
You are the Chosen People.
You are God's People.
Jerusalem is your Promised Land.
I am not one of God's People, Sasuke told himself quietly but firmly when he woke up in the dead of the night. I would rather never step into the Promised Land.
The next time Sasuke saw the boy was when he was fleeing from the country with everyone else. Somehow they had ended up in the same group, wearing the same thin clothing, shivering from the cold. Loneliness wove a heatless cloak around them even as numerous bodies pressed left and right, threatening to snuff out the very lights of their existence.
It was then he knew that the boy was also a Jew.
The family walking directly in front of them was so huge that it caused an uncomfortable twang of jealousy in Sasuke. One after another, stern faces bearing those similar, oddly lilac eyes pushed onward in their determined strides, forming a solid wall of humans. Amongst them walked a boy about Sasuke's age who looked the sternest of them all. He walked a little apart from the rest, as if trying to build an unbridgeable gulf to separate himself from his not-family. Strange guy, Sasuke thought. Their three little figures formed an isolated triangle in this faceless mass of God's People.
Suddenly, Sasuke felt a tug on his sleeve. He turned to see a very big and cheerful grin. The kind that could only come from people who had never lost, who had never seen pain, Sasuke thought absently. On closer look, the boy's roundish face seemed about the same age as him, if not slightly younger. Three thin scars marked the side of each of his cheeks, like a cat's whiskers. Sasuke had a sudden urge to run his fingers over the scars, desperate to feel the unevenness breaking the expanse of smooth skin. He reached up and-
"I'm Naruto. What's your name?"
The boy – Naruto – flashed him another blinding smile and Sasuke faltered. For the first since that night, Sasuke felt an answering tug threatening the corner of his lips.
Hyuuga Neji liked to recite the Bible. He would often do so while walking or sitting alone in the house. It kept him from thinking certain things. Neji knew that he thought too much. He was always too quiet, too contemplative, too brooding. If his mind wasn't kept busy he would often lapse into thinking the certain things.
Like how his father died.
Like how everyone received the news to hide except for his father.
So he tried not to think, especially not about how mangled his father's body was and how much pain contorted the fine features. Beaten to death, they had told him. Neji bowed his head and continued to recite the Bible.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…
Naruto liked to fold paper planes. However, this wasn't an era when paper was readily available.
Sasuke turned upon hearing his name and immediately ducked when he saw the small, perfectly-folded paper plane flying straight at him. He picked up the delicate object with a frown and saw small black fonts printed on yellow, faded paper. He felt a throbbing in his temples.
"You tore up the Bible just to fold this?" Sasuke demanded in exasperation.
A small giggle was his only answer. Not for the first time when dealing with Naruto, Sasuke was rendered utterly speechless.
Their group was often attacked and each time, some people died and more were take away. Each passing day saw their numbers dwindling. It was always the young, old and the sick. Mothers clutched infants to their breasts, children walked closely by their sides while the men walked on the outskirts, forming a protective barrier. But when the troops came and people started scattering, it was always the young, old and the sick.
After one such attack, Neji hid in an abandoned building with a small band of children and watched with dispassionate eyes as a small group of people was marched away to the concentration camps. When all was calm once again, he stood up from his hiding place to dust himself off.
"How could you! How could you not care?" A small orange figure darted in front of him and grabbed the front of his coat, blue eyes sparkling with righteous outrage. "That's your family being taken away!"
Neji pushed the boy away roughly and straightened his coat. "The Bible said that 'There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven.' So there's no point in caring about that."
The boy didn't reply, but gave him a furious glare instead. Then he turned to run down the stairs, only to stop mid-way and said without turning back, "The Bible also said 'Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.'" And then the boy ran the rest of the way down the stairs.
Neji stood rooted to the ground for a long time before finally rousing himself to look down the window. He saw a black figure and an orange figure running side by side. From his vantage, the dirty blonde hair seemed cast in a ray of light so brilliant that it scorched his eyes, just like Saint Michael the Archangel described in the Bible.
"If there is a way to save everybody…"
"Then that would be a miracle."
Naruto turned in surprise to look at Neji who had come to stand behind him and beside Sasuke. The nonchalance in his face had hardened into a look of determination and some of aloofness had melted out, softening the sharp angles into the more amiable contours.
"You… you… why did you…"
"But maybe, there really can be miracles."
Naruto's face was frozen momentarily in a look of disbelieve before breaking into a toothy grin. "Even you had come. Now miracles will really happen –ttebayo!"
"Because you look like the type of person who will be a genius!"
An unexplainable warmth began to spread through his body, originating from a point slightly to the left of his chest and it left a trail of tingling in its wake, awaking sensations he thought were long dead. "What are you called?"
"Naruto! I'm twelve and my favourite food is ramen. I like to-"
"Shut up, idiot. Nobody's asking you that."
"Sasuke you bastard! Who are you calling idiot?"
That was the first time Neji had noticed Naruto. Maybe, if the both of them came out of this alive, they could perhaps become friends. Friends. Neji's heart did a funny flip. However, he knew that this was a battle with almost no hope of survival and they were children, barely teenagers. And it was always the young, old and the sick.
It was also snowing heavily the day Sasuke left, perhaps even harder than that day. Sheets of whiteness fell from the sky, burying anything and everything that could be buried. Armageddon couldn't have looked much different.
Naruto stood at the end of the street. His torn, faded coat had long been buried by the glacial feathers, leaving only the gold hair, the bright blue eyes and a body of whiteness. Sasuke stared at him from very far away. He couldn't believe that the pair of seemingly ignorant blue eyes could have seen through all his intentions.
"Sasuke, don't even think about running away on your own," Naruto growled as Sasuke neared. Sasuke didn't abate his pace.
So they fought a good, hard battle, an all-out scuffle in the snow. They rolled about, with teeth biting and nails scratching, operating on pure animalistic instinct as each strove to bring the other down. Sasuke didn't register the pain when Naruto left a bloody scratch mark on his forehead and Naruto merely grunted when Sasuke delivered a solid punch to his stomach.
"They don't… have our faith…" Naruto panted when he was finally pinned beneath Sasuke, helpless and powerless to stop anything.
"Faith?" Sasuke snorted. "This coming from the person who tore up the Bible to fold paper planes isn't convincing at all."
"You will regret it," Naruto promised.
"…I have long abandoned my faith." Sasuke got off Naruto and started to walk away. I only wish to seek for power.
When he was leaving, a small, perfectly-folded paper plane flew haphazardly into his arms.
"Anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over." Naruto didn't move from his position in the snow. He turned his head slowly to watch Sasuke who found himself arrested by a clear blue gaze. Sasuke was suddenly afraid of those eyes, as if a part of him had been sliced open by the sharpness of that gaze and left to bleed. He turned and ran with the paper plane clenched tightly in his hands.
'Anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.' – Genesis 4:15
Sasuke wanted to laugh. He could actually remember the source of this line with such clarity. Faith. Every line in the Bible had already been burnt into his memory.
"He chose to leave. What about you, Naruto?"
Naruto turned his head to the source of the voice and saw Neji coming to a stop in front him. Naruto observed him quietly for a few moments. He found that the whiteness of the snow was accentuating the whiteness of Neji and suddenly, Naruto felt very, very clean and pure. He smiled at him.
"Ne Neji, do you remember that the Bible had taught us 'Learn to do right! Seek Justice, encourage the oppressed'?"
Neji bent down and gently brushed away the snow from the wisps of blonde hair. Then he looked straight into those guileless blue eyes.
"Yes I do."
If Sasuke looked back many years later, he would be surprised at how little impression the organization had first made on him. No matter how much he searched his memories, the most he could recall was perhaps a few faces and most distinctly, Kabuto. The rest had simply melted into this huge entity called everybody else and it didn't bother Sasuke the least bit that he knew nobody at all.
He could often look up and see the black swastika printed on every flag that seemed to hang everywhere. His lips would curl into a bitter smirk. The Nazi. Nobody here knew that he was a Jew, a secret that he kept with extreme care. Life here went on just like it did everywhere else, but the life of a Nazi was ultimately, vastly different from that of a Jew. Sasuke wasn't afraid to die. There were just certain things that he had to accomplish before he died, no matter the price. At least he could hold a gun as a Nazi, something he could not do as a Jew.
Not long after he arrived, a priest would come and preach to them. It was somewhat of a wonder to Sasuke to hear the words of the very same Bible he had been reading since an infant being interpreted so differently. By the time the priest ended his sermon, all his comrades were in uproar. Many were waving their arms wildly about while others stamped their feet. Down with the Jews! The stupid Jews, the dirty Jews! Kill the Jews! Then the entire company would march with the single-mindedness of a mob into the nearby Jewish community, all the while screaming for blood and revenge.
The first person they met was an old man. The company halted. The young soldiers looked uneasily at one another, unsure of what to do. After all, everybody was only human.
Finally, it was Kabuto who rushed up and smashed the butt of his gun into the old man's head. Life immediately started flowing out of the old man in rivulets of red down his white hair. The sight of blood seemed to trigger something in the mob and with the roar, everyone rushed in and soon, life had completely departed. The humans were gone and in their places there were beasts who couldn't see anything but blood, kill and gore.
Sasuke could feel his whole body quivering and every single nerve was stretched taut. He knew that all the soldiers were in the same state as him but he could no longer tell if it were from terror or excitement.
Like monsters that had first tasted blood, they left a trail of bodies and devastation as they raided the homes and drove the people out onto the streets. They took anything of value and killed anyone who stood in their way. The men were mercilessly gutted and women were pressed into the ground. Sounds of fabrics ripping filled the air, soon followed by screams of horror and pain. In the midst of this plundering, raping, burning and killing, Sasuke was reminded of the purgatory that the Rabbi had told him when he was very young. It was a landscape from Hell.
All the dead Jewish men were wearing the tallit katan with the tzitzit and when Sasuke saw that, he could feel his stomach heaving. But he kept telling himself that he needed power and that he would get it at all costs.
Sasuke still kept the tradition of wearing the tallit katan, a small praying shawl with the tzitzit hanging off the four corners underneath his clothing. He hadn't the faintest idea why because there wasn't any special meaning for him and there was always the added risk of getting caught. However, he still stuck to this tradition stubbornly, foolishly.
Finally one day, Kabuto saw it while he was changing. The silver-haired lieutenant only pushed up his glasses and smiled. It was only when he saw the captain, Orochimaru, did he understand the meaning behind that smile. When they were alone and Orochimaru had removed his cloak, he saw the same tzitzit hanging down his waist.
Sasuke felt no kindred spirit towards Orochimaru. If Kabuto had been a mystery, then Orochimaru was even more of an enigma. Those hazel eyes seemed to see through everything and there was a slithery way in which he walked and a serpentine hiss to the quality of his voice that reminded him too much of a snake for Sasuke to be entirely comfortable around the man.
Sasuke understood himself. He knew that it was his desire for revenge that drove him to kill his own people and scorn on his faith but he didn't understand Orochimaru. He didn't know what self-crazed ambition drove the other man or what he hoped to achieve. But it wasn't a matter Sasuke deemed worth to dwell on so he buried this question deep inside and as a result, it was a question that wasn't answered even till the very end.
Sasuke never thought that he would meet Naruto again. Or rather, Sasuke never thought that he would be meeting Naruto so soon. Just like him, Naruto had grown a lot. Now he was a handsome young man standing in the crowd. It was still the golden hair and the bright blue eyes. But Naruto had donned the uniform of the Allied Powers. They walked past each other on the battlefield.
The year was 1941. The war had already begun.
Naruto finally saw Neji in the midst of the confused mass of Allied and Axis powers when they were fighting in Berlin. Many years had passed since they parted and both had matured into adulthood. There was no lingering vestige of coldness in the lilac-eyed young man as he got off his horse and enveloped his friend in a warm embrace. Then he pulled back and planted a swift, clean kiss on the lips of the shorter young man.
Naruto laughed and whistled appreciatively at the large white horse pawing the ground restlessly behind Neji. Then he took in the smart military uniform that Neji wore, which made him look so dashing in the chaos, and punched him playfully in the chest. "Neji you bastard, the Soviet Union's cavalry forces! It suits you down to the very last boot."
Neji smiled and brushed his hand over the short blonde spikes that he remembered so well and missed so much. "How have you been, Naruto?"
Naruto scratched his head and smiled ruefully. "Same as ever. I missed you, Neji."
Neji pulled him into another brotherly hug. "Me too."
When they broke apart a short while later, because long time no see or not there was still a battle going on around them, they both knew that this was for the last time.
One last glance. One last touch. One last assurance. "Naruto, shalom aleichem."
Naruto laughed. "Aleichem shalom, Neji." A greeting that he hadn't uttered in years and it opened up a well of memories that he firmly repressed.
Then, as if by some predetermined agreement, both men turned and walked off to their own destinies, never to cross again.
Orochimaru was captured as a Class A War Criminal, soon to be trialed and executed. Kabuto died on the battlefield, still waving the Nazi flag and laughing insanely before he was finally shot down.
On the night before the final battle, Orochimaru took Sasuke away from the campsite to a small clearing.
I know what it is you want, he had told Sasuke. It was rather amusing to see you chasing after something as trivial and meaningless as revenge.
Sasuke clenched his fist and refrained from lashing out. What do you want? He asked coldly.
Orochimaru threw back his head and gave a rather demented laughter. Originally I had wanted you to do something for me after we've won the war. He smiled crazily at Sasuke, leaving the latter feeling so relieved that they had lost and he didn't have to find out what it was that Orochimaru wanted. So now, I can let you escape. I can even tell you where to find Itachi. In that moment, Sasuke's blood froze but his mind, body and soul burnt for that one cursed name.
Sasuke didn't know how he got out of the campsite, or how he got back to this familiar street. The blood was long gone, washed away by that year's snow, but the dead remained. He could feel their thin wispy fingers tugging at his robes as he walked past and could almost hear the soft, frustrated sighs of spirits unable to rise up to heaven. Sasuke stood in front of his house and let the spirits surround him. If he strained his senses, he could almost feel his mother caressing him, smell the soft aroma of cake baking in the oven on a sunny afternoon and hear her gentle voice weaving brave and tragic tales from the Bib-
Sasuke turned and walked off abruptly.
He saw that small chapel from very far away. The many flowers blooming in the garden lent the air a sweet fragrance. He couldn't believe that after so many years, Itachi would still keep the tradition of coming for Sabbaths every Sunday.
It was a simple plan. All he had to do was plant the bomb and trigger it while Itachi was inside. Then everything would end. Sasuke felt for the bomb in his pocket and wondered where to plant it. Then he walked away from the hiding place quietly.
The sun was rising and the bright rays shone into his eyes. He could see the end so clearly. Everything would go as planned. Everything.
Naruto stood outside the chapel in his military uniform with his gun slung over one shoulder. It was still too early for there to be people at the chapel. He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and folded it swiftly into a perfect paper plane with practiced ease. He threw it as Sasuke and smiled that same idiotic smile.
Golden hair and bright blue eyes. When Sasuke had first seen him in the snow, he thought that he had seen an angel.
"Ne Sasuke, they don't have our faith, do they?"
"Ne Sasuke, isn't this paper plane pretty?" He had torn up the Bible to fold paper planes.
Sasuke looked down at the paper plane in his hands. Genesis 4:15.
"Anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over." He told him calmly while staring at him intently with those clear blue eyes.
He had once naïvely thought that those eyes were so clear because they had never seen lost or pain.
The sky was lightening. Families started turning up on the path leading to the chapel. The air was soon filled with sounds of laughter and joy as husbands and wives held each other's hands tightly and siblings chased after one another happily. Their laughter rang sweeter than the last notes of the nightingale.
Sasuke remembered that many many years ago, he had been one of them.
Itachi finally appeared in the crowd. He walked slowly into the chapel, his face more relaxed than Sasuke had ever seen. They were all alone, whether it was Itachi, or him, or…
Sasuke tilted his head back and looked up at the roof of the chapel. The holy cross sparkled in the sunlight, adorned by beads of morning dew that had yet to dry.
Naruto stood a little way off the entrance of the chapel, smiling gently at the oncoming people. His eyes had always been so clear.
They were all alone. And he could never go back to those days of not-alone because the people who used to surround him and love him were not there anymore. And no matter what he did now, even if he were to use every single life left on this world to trade, he could never bring them back.
God said, anyone who kills Cain would suffer vengeance seven times over. He had finally understood. He turned and walked into the chapel.
He wanted to say, die with me, brother. Itachi's mouth turned up into a tiny smile and the words died in his throat. In the end, nothing needed to be said.
Sasuke thought that in the end, there were still a lot of things that he didn't understand, like Itachi's motives, like Orochimaru's ambitions, like…
Like how much pain and suffering those clear blue eyes had seen. That was something that he could have the chance but never did and now never will find out. And it was the only regret left in him. He had always thought that it was untainted innocence, but he was wrong.
Naruto's paper plane was yellow and faded. Sasuke gently let it go and it soared in the breeze.
It was then that he finally realized that the best time in his life, when he still had his family and relatives around him, was not the happiest time in his life.
When the explosion sounded, Sasuke thought he saw a Sunday so long ago, when both Father and Mother were holding his hand, with Itachi trailing behind. The chapel had looked especially nice in the morning sun.
He sat like the good boy he was in between Father and Mother and prayed with everybody else around him. Then an angel landed before him, an angel with golden hair and bright blue eyes and as clear as Naruto's had been, and kissed his forehead.
Our Father in heaven, For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, until infinity. Amen.
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, until infinity.
Bathed in the morning light of the holy place, Uchiha Sasuke closed his eyes and felt at peace. All pain, sorrow, fear and loneliness was dissolved and scattered like dust in the breeze.
In the chapel, the small black figure of the Rabbi had started his sermon. Throughout the ages, people will turn at the small tug at their sleeves and say, Child, don't despair.
Your faith has saved you.
Until infinity. Until infinity.
A/N: Firstly, this is supposed to be about Judaism and Torah and synagogues, not Christianity, Bible and chapels but because we understand the latter so much better than the former, so -bow- we apologize.
Secondly, there is very little development in all the characters so you might not understand why some of them did what they did. Well, we orginally intended this to be more of a up-to-the-reader's-own-interpretation thing so we're not offering any answers because we feel that there are infinitely many answers. Moreover, if we don't limit and stereotype the characters, then they can have infinitely many possibilities right?
Thirdly, we realised that the ending is a bit ambiguous but it's meant to be this way. Maybe Sasuke blew up the chapel, maybe he suicided. It's all up to the reader to decide.
Lastly, there're some biblical references and some terminologies about Jewish practices. If you are interested or would like to know the source, please leave your email in your review and we will reply accordingly.
Thanks for reading.