One Summer's Day
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters represented in this story.
This is a story that I initially thought to put a lot of work into, and as I go back and edit some of the chapters as I go I also look to make it appeal to you in the way that the plot idea first appealed to me. I truly hope you enjoy this story, and I hope that you give it a chance to delight you. I also began this story back before the anime version of Shippuden was widely available, so many things diverge from the canon, and I struggle in many ways to tie others in. However, this also gives me the ability to make this story a reflection of our favorite character's emotions rather than one that fits intricately with canon and has a specific plot.
It was a truly a day of brightness and cheer that met the village of Konoha that summer day. The village was alight with happiness and an energy that was reminiscent of the sun itself. There was only one citizen though, a ninja of irrepressible talent, that was not enjoying the day, one ninja that was observing the happy emotions of the day, but unable to thrust himself into the same emotions.
The promising Uzumaki Naruto was walking without a purpose. He would wind down the streets, not looking at anything with real interest, eyes focused on the sky more than anything else. He made his way past one village member after the other, some eyeing him with their usual disdain, but the vast majority of them not even noticing his presence.
Team Seven, what remained of it, didn't have any training for that day, which meant no missions, and for some reason Naruto didn't want to train on his own. He had already been to the ramen stand, he'd been around to watch the other teams train, and he had been past the academy to visit Iruka-sensei. He wasn't content to go back home though, he had a nervous energy in his legs that kept pushing him further and further across the village. The sun and good cheer was making Naruto incredibly discontent.
He felt like there was something that needed to happen.
Naruto just sighed and shoved his hands down in his pockets, there was nothing else for him to do anyway. Training by himself didn't seem appealing even if he was a trained ninja, there wasn't anything to motivate him just then. He lacked the motivational ability of Gai-sensei or Lee, who apparently just needed to blink or breathe to find their determination.
So he was walking, simply walking. And mainly out of habit nonetheless, letting his feet take him where they willed. His eyes slid over the sights, not quite making his mind focus on any of the drifting objects.
After more time spent with his thoughts than he had meant to spend he realized that his feet had drifted him further than he had thought possible. His mind had been forcefully submerged in thoughts that weren't very appropriate for the sunny weather.
He ended up at the tributary stone, a shining reminder of the end that was met for all those ninja that had been killed in action, in the defense of their village. Their names were epitaphs of pride.
He remembered the pain that Kakashi-sensei's voice had emitted that first day of training, as he spoke of his best friends and the fact that their names were on this rock. If he knew now what he knew three years ago, when Kakashi-sensei had first spoke those words, he was certain that he would have heeded them more.
Naruto bent forward to take a closer look at the small monument, all the minute names that were on there, he wondered if anyone really remembered the individual stories behind the names.
Sure the people that had family or friends on the stone would forever remember the mission that took their loved ones, but what about all the other ninja that were on it, were they forgotten? Were the ninja that had been low ranked support, a minor tally on a statistic, been remembered?
A slight sparkle made Naruto notice something, slightly in the right center of the stone was a name that had the palest of gold outlining it.
YONDAIME the stone proudly depicted. It's gold filigree draping lazily along the symbols.
Naruto sighed, everyone knew him of course. Everyone knew what had caused his death, and everyone knew the gritty details behind it, even if they weren't allowed to speak of it.
That was the one thing that it took for Naruto to sink back into a slight depression, a slight reminder of why the general populace hated and shunned him. In a way Naruto wished that he had the ability to turn back time, to make Yondaime choose some other infant to damn, he must not have been the only infant born that day, why couldn't he have chosen another?
What made him appealing to Yondaime?
All the what ifs made Naruto's head swim, distracting him so much that he hadn't even heard another person approach. He hadn't felt their chakra, hadn't felt the air stir with their presence, and he hadn't even felt their eyes on him.
It was almost as if the other person just appeared.
"Gahh!" exclaimed Naruto, jumping into the air and swinging around. Who had managed to sneak up on him?
The man standing before him was—odd, for lack of a better fitting term. He had spiky blond hair that managed to fall all over the place, and sky blue eyes that reflected the amusement that his grinning mouth portrayed. He was dressed in an outfit reminiscent of ANBU but not quite so, for instance, he didn't have a mask.
"What do you want?" said Naruto rather rudely; he was on edge, and not just from this unknown man's sudden appearance. Naruto narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Was this an enemy?
"Nothing really, I was just wondering what a person was doing in front of this solemn lump rather than having some fun with his friends?" The mysterious man put his hands on his hips and smiled down at Naruto, who was still vaguely crouching in a defensive posture.
"Why would you care?" Naruto said, rudely again. He eyed the man up and down, running a hand across his chin. This man had an odd air about him, as if something was wrong. The way his eyes were clouded was slightly alarming; the gestures that he gave off seemed sluggish, like the man was lethargic for some reason.
"I don't," said this person, but the words fell of his tongue oddly, syllable by syllable. "But it does seem to be a waste of a perfectly good day, that's all."
"You act like Kakashi-sensei," said Naruto simply, opening his mouth to buy time, this dude was weird; Naruto was actually wondering if he should try to sneak away. He did really remind him of Kakashi-sensei, though; they both carried themselves in the same seemingly indolent manner.
"Kakashi-sensei? Really? Who would have thought it, is he your teacher?" the blond haired man leaned forward still smiling obnoxiously, though his eyes held a seriousness. The guy chuckled a bit, his eyes squinting closed.
"Ah…yeah," said Naruto. Though for a moment he considered the fact that this was a total stranger that was being nice to him, so in reflection he decided to add more information. "He's my Jonin instructor; I'm a genin, still, cell seven."
"Really? History does have a way of repeating itself doesn't it?" The man's smile was broad but his eyes were wide and flickering, they darted all over the place and it seemed as if the man was having issues staying on solid ground.
"What d'ya mean?" said Naruto, scratching his head vaguely, this guy was really confusing. He wasn't in the mood to get involved in an altercation with some retired ninja on a bad jutsu buzz.
"Why the fact that Kakashi himself was on cell seven!" The man broke his smile into a triumphant grin. He leaned forward as if he were some sort of teacher lecturing Naruto on the merits of a good battle plan. He even dared to reach forward and poke a finger into Naruto's chest.
"Really?" it was Naruto's turn to be surprised. He hadn't known that about his longtime sensei. He paused to look down at the blonde's finger, and then took a measured step back, knocking the guy's hand away
"Of course! Doesn't your teacher share anything with you?" he replied laughing. He swatted his hand through the air as if he expected the answer to be that the young man was acting purposefully dense.
"Nope," said Naruto brazenly, this caused the other man to stop laughing, and give Naruto a questioning look.
"Well, why not?" He replied, looking startled. "He's famous isn't he, by now, some kind or great hero or something?"
Naruto looked at the man oddly, he supposed he was a hero, but honestly Naruto just thought of him as a pervert. He was lazy, and yeah he was strong, but still…it was Kakashi-sensei.
"I don't know, I think it's so sad for him, he never opens up about himself." Naruto shrugged, his posture relaxing more. "I mean yeah, he's the 'Copy Ninja'. But, still."
"Yes" replied the man, his eyes losing their shine. "I expect it would be sad for him."
"Huh?" said Naruto vaguely. He scratched the back of his head, his eyes leaping over to run themselves unwillingly over the tribute stone.
"I'm Arashi by the way!" said the man at once, returning back to his jubilant exterior. His emotions and behavior seemed erratic. It was if something was trying to stall that man's thinking.
"Uzumaki Naruto," replied Naruto, waiting for any tell tale signs of hatred to appear on the other man face. He wasn't going to bow to the man in polite greeting; he didn't want to leave an opening if the man felt inclined to attack him in some way.
"What's wrong?" said Arashi peering into Naruto's face. "You have the most peculiar look on your face."
"You don't know me?" asked Naruto hesitantly. He didn't mean for any particular emotion to leak into the surprised question, if anything he sounded almost dispassionate about it. "No long standing hate you want to rant about?"
"No! Why would I?" He said, this time he looked honestly confused.
"Well…everyone hates me." Naruto figured that a simple statement would be easiest to sum it up, even though it sounded almost pitying. He figured the guy might need him to speak in little sentences, the way he was acting.
"They don't treat you like a hero?" Arashi questioned back, his feet slipped on the grass, even though there was nothing to cause him to stumble.
"No, why would they?" replied Naruto, this Arashi character must not be from around here, and why would they think that the village's people would treat him like a hero?
"Well, doesn't Kakashi do something about it?" he said, a slightly fierce look blooming onto his face.
"What does Kakashi-sensei have to do with anything?" asked Naruto, and then continued "And you're not from around here are you?"
"Nothing, I guess," said Arashi looking rather wispily up to the clouds for a moment. "And you're right I'm not from around here, at least I haven't been here in a very long time."
"So where are you from?" asked Naruto, he put his hands behind his head, content to get off the subject of his supposed heroism. He wasn't going to begrudge the guy, if the man had a few screws loose than that was his problem.
"Konoha," replied Arashi.
"Eh?" said Naruto. 'Back to the confusion,' he thought to himself.
Arashi looked down from the sky and directly into Naruto's eyes. He titled his head to the side, his mouth opening.
"Your father is proud."
"What!" Naruto reeled back as if he'd been physically struck, he didn't want to deal with more of this man and his past. "Who the hell are you? I don't have a father!"
Arashi simply looked at Naruto, a sad expression on his face. His eyes lost some of their shine, the clouds seemed to become darker.
Naruto was fuming, however. This man just tried to assume that he knew him? He just decided to make assumptions? Naruto didn't know if that man called 'Arashi' realized just how much that one sentence could hurt him. How much that one sentence dug at his insides.
Because Naruto knew he would never have a father to be proud of him, at least not a real one.
"I apologize," said Arashi, and it seemed as if he was offering an apology for something else.
"It's okay," said Naruto, he was feeling a little guilty at making such a sad expression take over the man before him. "I have Iruka-sensei, he's taken care of me like a father does a lot and then there's Kakashi-sensei too, I guess"
"Really?" a mischievous twinkle appeared in the man's dimmed eyes after a moment of quiet contemplation. Arashi seemed to want to change the subject now "Out of the pair, who's the most like a mother?"
Naruto put a hand on the back of his head and couldn't help but laugh at that one. Whatever response he was expecting from the man that was not it, he paused to seriously consider the man's statement "It'd have to be Iruka-sensei! I just couldn't imagine Kakahsi-sensei being a," the image broke through his mind with a laugh again "a—mother."
Naruto lost it again at the idea of Kakashi-sensei is a light spring yukata, hairy legs and all, serving tea in a demure manner. Delighting in the feeling of normal endorphins taking over his previously muted brain, dissolving into a fit of chuckles as Arashi looked on, a happy smile once again appeared on his face.
"Well real parents or no, I think they are very proud of you," he said reaching forward and touching Naruto's chin briefly. He almost paused in his arm's travel, perhaps wondering if he had the right.
"I—thanks Arashi-san," said Naruto uneasily.
"Now, now, none of that!" said Arashi waving his hand in the air. "All that formality makes me seem old!"
"If you say so," said Naruto grinning, this Arashi person wasn't too bad.
"I do say so!"
"Naruto?" a voice suddenly called from across the clearing, Naruto turned around to see who it was, his grin not quite dissolving from his face.
"Hey, Kakashi-sensei!" he called back, immediately recognizing the figure that was now walking towards him. The hair was really something that couldn't be missed. Naruto and Sakura had mused to themselves on several occasions on how Kakashi had managed to survive that long with a head of hair that distinctive.
"What are you doing here?" asked Kakashi, eyeing him with a seemingly odd expression, barely visible with the other nin's mask in place but still recognizable in the confused tilt of his head.
"I'm talking with…" but Naruto drifted off, he had turned slightly to begin to introduce Arashi to Kakashi-sensei, but there was no one there."No one…I guess."
Kakashi looked at him steadily for a minute before speaking. He weaved his way over to the stone, his posture in its forcefully relaxed stance.
"You should run along now, Naruto, the Academy's just gotten out and Iruka-sensei is looking for you," he tilted his head slightly as he spoke, studying his student.
"Okay!" said Naruto "Hey! How'd you know Iruka-sensei was looking for me?"
"Oh you know, I was just talking advantage of…I mean I just ran into him," Kakashi said and Naruto could tell that he was either grinning or smiling broadly by the happy 'U' shape his eye was making.
"Okay…" said Naruto once more, suddenly getting a flash of Kakashi in an apron that said 'Worlds Greatest Mom' on it.
Kakashi watched in silent wonder as Naruto dashed out of the clearing, laughing his head off as he went. He took a moment to breathe in the image of student embroiled in happy abandon, it was nice.
He looked down towards the stone, or more specifically the golden embellished name to the right middle.
"Are you playing games again sensei?"
I hope you liked it and please review!