A Naruto Oneshot
Author's Note: Strangely, inspired by the show Angel. Specifically, season one's "Five by Five" episode. I actually submitted this in the LJ community "anbufiction." It's slightly darker than any of my other work, so please comment. I hope I caught any errors...
"Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness." –Martin Luthur King Jr.
We were about seven when we first met. He was always really quiet, but everyone seemed to notice him. Teachers loved him; he scored high on everything. And girls noticed him too; they harbored some heavy crushes on him. And I guess being from the family he was in, well, he had expectations pushed on him. Be strong like his father, be a genius like his brother… He was forced to trail family greatness.
And then, not long after, tragedy struck. His life turned completely upside-down and inside-out. His brother, his genius brother, killed the entire clan. Every single person that shared blood with the clan was killed. Their deaths were quick, I was told later. Even so, that is no comfort for a child to bear. To live by himself, with no other footsteps in the house. Not a heartbeat of another person. Just hearing your own breath. I knew what it was like; loneliness is one of the worst existences. That's when it all started.
He and I were put in the same team. I was 12 years old when I found out more about him. "My dream… is to kill a certain someone and restore my clan," he said. Or something along those lines; it was so long ago, I forgot exactly what he said. That's why he excelled in his ninja studies. He wanted to be the best so he could kill that someone… his brother… avenge his clan. I couldn't really blame him. But as our three-man team bonded, his revenge became a mere shadow. We became friendly rivals… or competitive friends. Either way, we argued with each other and fought for the same side like brothers. Our three-man team, plus our sensei, was a family; the family I never had and the family that he lost. And it was good for a while.
But then one day, his brother returned. And he realized that he didn't have what it took to beat his older brother. But then this really creepy, evil guy made him an offer, an offer to give him power, and he couldn't refuse. So, remember what I said about his revenge being a shadow? It was like a bit of darkness following him wherever he walked.
I tried to stop him. There even was a battle to the death. But, I knew I couldn't kill him. And when I woke up from the long battle, I was still alive, and I realized he couldn't kill me either. That gave me hope. Hope that maybe he could be saved. Freed from the shadow that always followed him.
Have you ever walked in a dark room? The lights are off, you can't see anything in front of you… And after a while, the darkness is all you know and you get accustomed to it. You even get a feel for the objects in the room. So once you know where things are in the dark room, why bother trying to find the lights? You already know where everything is. Who cares about colors, patterns or contents? Or maybe your eyes become adjusted to the darkness, so adjusted that there is no point for finding the light switch.
The shadow has been added to. Rather than having darkness follow you, like a shadow would… you live in it. You live in the darkness and if you become so accustomed to it, it's harder to live any other existence.
He left. He was my friend. He was my family. Sasuke.
I couldn't give up on him. I promised our other teammate, our girl Sakura-chan, that I would bring him back. I trained to be stronger. I got older, more experience. And during my travels, I established contacts in the different countries, keeping a lookout for Sasuke. I couldn't let him go.
But time passed, I became an adult, and I still had my dreams to fulfill. I wanted to become Hokage still. And surprisingly, I started settling. I had a fiancée to come home to after my missions. My life was good. Of course, those contacts were established for a reason.
"Naruto," Sakura looked at him with a look of concern on her face. She watched him sit slowly onto the couch. "What is it?" she took the cordless phone away from his hand that he just turned off. "What is it?"
Naruto stared at the ground as he responded, "A guy… from the Village of the Hidden Waterfall."
"Why would they be calling you? If they need help, shouldn't matters like that be told to the Hokage?"
"It's personal…" Naruto gripped his hands in tight fists and sat up straight. "He found him. The guy. He found Sasuke."
Sakura's eyes widened. For a few moments, there was no breath passing through her nose. She dropped the phone in shock. "Wh-what?"
"Sasuke. He's not that far away in Waterfall Country. He's not far away from their city." Naruto didn't have to think too long; soon he was on his feet. "I gotta go."
"Naruto, wait," Sakura told him.
"Sasuke's out there! Oh, I can't wait to see him!"
"The moment I see him, I'm gonna beat the crap out of him!"
"Naruto, just a--!"
"And then I'm gonna tie him up—."
"And drag him back to Kono--!"
"Stop!" Sakura pleaded.
Naruto froze, unsure that he actually heard her raise her voice to him. It had been so long. "Sakura-chan?"
She shook her head. "Naruto…don't you remember what happened? You… you were barely alive when Kakashi-sensei found you."
"I'm alive, though."
"If you see Sasuke-kun, how long will that last?" Sakura asked, tears already pooling in her green eyes. "A minute? 10 minutes? We don't know how he's like now. If he's strong… if he killed his brother…" Sakura took a seat on the same couch Naruto previously occupied. "I don't know what I'd do if I saw him…"
A touch of green crossed Naruto's blue eyes. He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his own. "I…I know a part of you will always belong to Sasuke. And that's okay--."
"No, Naruto. I don't know what I'd do if I saw him again." She kissed his knuckle. "He betrayed us when he nearly killed you… he tore our family. It hurt so much."
"Sakura-cha--," Naruto was cut off when Sakura grabbed him by the collar and pulled him in for a kiss. It was short but strong; good enough to reassure her feelings towards him. When she pulled away, he took a few moments before grinning to her. "Don't worry. I'll fix it all."
"I promised," I told myself as I stood a few feet from the small shed. The shelter was one of many row shacks that were nestled under a bridge. My informants told me that this is a hotspot for people who had nowhere else to go, and want to remain away. The nearest neighboring shack was across the river. I reached out and slowly pushed the curtain that was acting as a door aside.
The smell of rust and wood consumed the area; it hit my nose hard, like I could taste it in my mouth. There was a single blanket and a ditch for a fire, but nothing else. I looked around, no larger than a 10-foot space, and then there he was. He sat curled in a ball at the farthest corner of the room, eyes to the wall opposite him. His head slowly turned to me, and he stared for eons. His eyes stayed neutral, his eyes were blank. Then, they narrowed and he whispered a hoarse, "You."
"Yeah, me." Honestly, after 10 years, that's all he's got to say? "Get up, you bastard."
His eyes widened suddenly and then he slowly got to his feet. His limbs were shaking, you know like when you haven't had enough to eat? Like that. "You…" he walked closer to me, towards the doorway and into the light. "I thought… I killed you."
"You didn't," I corrected him, but my mouth stopped when he passed into the doorway. He looked so… fucked up. His hair was slightly longer; he was dirty and wearing rags. His face was thin, almost starting to hollow in. Sasuke was pale, almost white, and it seemed like he hadn't had sleep in years. And his eyes… I only noticed then that his sharingans were activated. What he needed was a hot bath and some hot meals. "I'm taking you back."
"You're supposed to be dead…" he hissed at me as he took a step forward into the outside.
"You think one tiny Chidori would kill me? Heh," I laughed. "You got a lot to learn."
"I killed you," he continued. "I killed you. I keep killing you…" By now, he stepped up face to face with me, and his sharingans began to spin. "I keep killing you and you keep coming back!" He jumped, hurling himself towards me. He tackled me down, fingers bent ready to claw me.
I landed on my back, holding his arms away from me as he tried to scratch and grab at my neck. "What the—Sasuke! What the hell is your problem?" I managed to bend my legs under him and kick him off.
He landed on his feet and hands like a cat. Sasuke turned his head up to me, sharingans spinning. "I'll just kill you again. I'll kill you. I'll kill you!" He launched himself at me again but this time I stepped back. He missed and fell face first into the riverbed.
I shook my head. "What the hell is the matter with you?" I couldn't shake that something was wrong. He looked… the way his sharingans spun and the way his lips curled in a nasty grin… I sent chills down my spine.
But I let my guard down. He managed to jump at me again, pinning me to the floor. He released a punch, and I barely dodged it. He cracked the ground beneath me, his fist landing on the earth right next to my ear. I pulled him by the collar and flipped him on his back. I jumped to my feet but he was quick too. He pushed me against the wall of the shed and held me there by the neck. He held out his fist. "I'll do it right this time! I'll kill you for sure!" he yelled.
I pulled his hand off me and left-hooked him in the jaw. "I'm bringing you back even if you're unconscious!"
And then, he started to laugh. A really deep, sinister laugh of a mad man. "I won't let you best me…" his limbs began to shake again and he continued to laugh. "You killed them all. Our relatives. Our mother. Our father. You won't kill me. I'll kill you again. Like I always do…" and his mouth erupted in a deep laugh again, echoing across the river.
It hit me. He wasn't talking to me. He was talking to…
Sasuke swung a punch at me before throwing me forward, into the riverbed. I fell on my back, splashing into the shallow water. "What happened, genius? Where's your Mangekyo!" I was barely to my feet before he grabbed me by the collar and lifted me up. "You can't beat me!"
"Sasuke," I said plainly, "you're nuts." And I pushed him back. "I'm not Itachi; it's me, Naruto!"
His eyes spun faster, like something snapped. "I'll kill you like I did before!" and he jumped at me again, throwing us into the water. He tried to push me down in the water, trying to keep my head from the surface's air. I tried to push him back, kick him, hit him, something, but he pinned me down on my back. Sasuke kept pulling me in and out of the water, screaming, "Why aren't you dead? I keep killing you! Why aren't you dead!"
He's gone nuts. That's it. Sasuke's gone to the edge. But as he kept pulling me into the water, his face distorted from anger to sheer pain. His shakes and punches became weaker as he kept screaming, "Why aren't you dead! Why aren't you dead!" until his fist opened and his palm hit my collar. "Why aren't I dead?" Sasuke released a hoarse breath and gathered my collar in his fists. "Why aren't I dead?" he whispered with tears streaming down his face.
I froze. I didn't know what to say, seeing Sasuke like this. Torn, in pain… He didn't just reach the edge… he was completely over it. He fell. Sasuke was… lost. I slowly sat up as Sasuke fell on his butt into the water, still holding my jacket collar. He hung his head, looking to the water as it flowed downstream. "Why, Nii-san?" he muttered, tears pouring down his cheeks. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against his fisted hands at my collar. "Why didn't you kill me, Nii-san?" His voice was barely there, calling out to his brother.
How long has he been like this? And how many has he killed, thinking that he or she was his brother? "Sasuke…" I choked.
"I'm done, Nii-san. I'm done. But you won't go away. You'll never leave. I can't…" he sobbed harder, biting his lip. "Can't rest. You won't let me."
My chest tore, hearing Sasuke cry like this. How long has he lived with this shadow? This darkness? Is this how it's gonna be forever? I looked down and only noticed how marred his skin was. And how there were about six or so scars on the inside of his wrists.
"Nii-san… leave me alone," he cried. "Leave me…" His hands released my collar and held onto my shoulders. "Ten years…go away…" Sasuke whispered, his face at the crook of my neck.
For the first time, my throat felt dry of words. What could… what could I possibly say to him, to ease whatever he was feeling? To make him stop muttering, pleading to a man that wasn't even there? It's been nearly 20 years since Sasuke left our village, and if he killed Itachi 10 years ago like he said… that meant… for ten years, he had been like that. Constantly seeing his brother, constantly in the mode to kill, never at ease, never resting, never at peace.
His hands slowly moved from my shoulders to my neck. He wrapped his fingers around my neck and began to squeeze; I choked for air and tried to pull his grip off me. But he looked up, cocked his head to the side, and whispered softly, "I killed you… I'll keep killing you forever…"
No. I couldn't have it. I reached for my back pouch, and then pulled my hand forward.
The river water around us was first streaked with colors of maroon, before it turned into a bright crimson. I stabbed my kunai in the riverbed and grabbed onto him, making sure he didn't fall over. I supported his head with my arm and his back with my legs. Sasuke coughed heavily, releasing his breaths skyward. His body shook violently, and more blood oozed out of his stomach, staining the water around us. "Quit moving," I bit, "the pain will go away soon."
He closed his eyes tightly while taking short and hollow breaths. A strangled cry escaped his thin lips and his eyes squeezed shut before slowly opening them again. Sasuke look straight at me, sharingans stationary. After a few moments, "You," he breathed.
"Yeah?" The blood made the water warm.
"You look… familiar," he admitted softly. "I see you with… a girl. With pink hair. And a man…with a mask." He began to chuckle before letting out a string of coughs. "You're not real. You're from a dream."
I swallowed the lump in my throat. "A dream?" I could barely see his face as my vision became hazy.
"Yeah," he sighed, "A dream. A peaceful place." And then, Sasuke smiled gently with beads of tears rolling down his cheeks. "A bright… place…" He took one last breath before his sharingan eyes turned to black, and then to gray.
The hot tears broke the surface and fell down my cheeks. I carefully reached my hand up to close his eyelids.
Do you know the way to get rid of the darkness? Surrounding yourself in light. That way, there's nowhere for even a shadow to cling to. Light will kill it; light makes all the darkness go away.