Curse of the Red Vine Lovers.

Chapter one: The rhythm.



The lazy-ish author's mammoth note: Well, I've done it. After working thousands of hours in the library putting up smutty smut novels in the paperback section, I have finally concluded on writing a story with a plot combined with giant, blatant references to sasunaru goodness. Well, it's more like Sasunaru with a plot strung out between. Bwhahhahaha, I detest my other story with an unholy passion so here is this to make for it—Please enjoy and be nice! Oh, and please review! Pleasseee—I love reviews more than cream soda which is truly stating something. I swear that if I don't make regular updates, it's not because I forget—well sometimes I do but—it's more like I just have a billion things to do and then I asphyxiate. I heart you with my heart and soul! (Is that

enough incentive to review?) Eee! Forgive the grammar, for it doth suck and shoot me at night.


I have revised like crazy. I realized some of my dialogue wasn't as fuckinggrand as I once wished it to be. So I fixed some things. It's probably a bit different, but still same general idea.

Kousoku is the name of the town by the by….Konoha will come up later, yaaaaaah?

If there was a soundtrack for this chapter it'd be Dark Waltz by Haley Westenra . It opens up everything so well! Ahhhhhh, creepiness. I really suggest listening to it.


Excerpt from Rumfield's Extensive Guide to Most Every Curse. Chapter one, page 12:

"…the only recognizable difference between a curse and any other spell, exempting of course the unique phonetics of the exact words employed and the relative mass of the ethereal matter emitted, is the loss of freedom. Most spells that are placed upon the recipient are, for the most part, optional. A fitting example would have to be Gulliver's spell which enhances the muscle mass in the body by 50, but only if the receiver allows the change to occur. For curses, there is no option. Whatever the donor's desire, the recipient must follow its charge. Theoretically speaking, where a spell grants another option to a distressed user, a curse obliterates choice. Really, a curse is like a cage of sorts."




A mechanical rhythm pounded—like a lullaby strummed by a rusty, rigid robot with joints that glided like dislocated stairs. Everything moved on the beat, with the beat, in the beat. There was no misplaced sound to echo insultingly into the still silence—there was no mistake. The world was perfect and aligned.




Nothing but a line existed; a smooth, straight line that slid down a direct path—no deterring—no off course wanderings. Things were far simpler---a rhythm a proper society would desire between their thighs.

"Uzumaki! Would you kindly stop drumming your pencil? It's disrupting the entire class."

Naruto Uzumaki, however, was a throbbing wallop on that smooth stiff path; something completely strange, but so well disguised in a veil of regularity that no one could truly pin point just what was so odd about him.

He'd always known he was just a bit different ever since he'd first stepped through the colorful threshold of kindergarten. All laughter and childish happy chat had ceased as every eye turned and abruptly landed on him. It took several moments for the numb silence to be overturned and that was just the start of a long line of similar first days.

It wasn't as if he was frightening; he'd always been a bit small for his age and couldn't beat up anybody to save his life (no matter how many times he had tried). And it wasn't as if he was of a weird disposition; he'd always worn completely normal clothing, all though a little tattered around the edges, and he'd always had an average IQ with only a couple of failing grades. So he was absolutely stumped as to why it seemed there was an imaginary barrier erected between him and other people. He only had one friend, Shikamaru, but even he did not cross the line. He knew everything about Naruto, but Naruto knew virtually nothing about him.

Actually, if there was one thing he knew about his only companion it was that he was lazy and typically slept in class. This aggravated Naruto because when he began to day dream, as he often did, there was no one left cognizant to copy down the notes. He didn't have much of an aptitude for academics, especially in science. Failing the baneful subject had become somewhat of a ritual for him every year and that was why this semester he was determined to pass. Keeping his head out of the clouds was so difficult though, that sometimes he had to just move something to make sure he wasn't totally paralyzed with boredom. But drumming your pencil could only be done for so long before your hand cramped or the teacher snapped.

"Really, Uzumaki," the teacher's thin white lips smirked, appearing like two slices of paper folded precisely into sharp corners. "I thought this year was going to be the year you finally passed a science class or do you really enjoy the remedial summer school course? You can't very well pass, stare out the window, and play your bothersome little drum solo can you?"

A soft snickering fluttered through the air hesitantly-- for any sort of merriment such as laughter felt inherently forbidden in Orochimaru-sensei's classroom. The white-wash walls glowed eerily under the gaze of the fluorescent lights buzzing overhead; the windows were barred with plastic, black blinds to keep the distractions of the outside world in their proper place. The only way Naruto was sure that the sky retained its blue was through a crinkled, bent blind.

"I was telling you about your project, yes?" He sounded slightly exasperated. "I want it in by the 23rd. I will not take it late—even with excused absences."

"What project?" Naruto interjected as he sat up suddenly. His pencil rolled off his desk to the floor.

Orochimaru-sensei's eyes flashed irritably as they slowly turned to rest on his face.

"The project," he seethed, "I was discussing with the rest of the class while you were off in your own world, Uzumaki"

Naruto loved to be singled out by most every teacher but Orochimaru. He could handle being scolded—it was an unusual occurrence if it didn't happen at least once a day. But Orochimaru's scolding was more pointed and slick. It burrowed to the deepest part of him and made him cold all over.

"Because your defective mind did not absorb anything of what I said, and Lord knows I don't want to teach you again in summer school, I'll repeat myself for your benefit. You are each going to be assigned a biological process that occurs in everyday life; for instance, cellular respiration, glycolisis, or aging. I want to know everything about their cycles, everything down to the precise enzyme that drives the—"

…And Naruto, like a light flickering for months parched for watts, was out. Staring at his window, he watched a transient black entity flash across the tiny span of his view outside—an orange butterfly slowly flicker through the air—the flash from the reflection of a car speeding by.

…And then the bell chimed overhead. Naruto cursed his inattentiveness as he gathered his folders together in his book bag and slung it over his shoulder. As the students leisurely exited the classroom, he continued to stare at the window for a few seconds more and the small, blue strip that offered only a taunting glimpse of a place he felt he was allowed to observe but never touch.

Why was it that he couldn't focus on the here and now?

"Coming?" Shikamaru questioned from beside him. Naruto grinned.


"So are you coming to the library to research your process?"

Naruto indolently kicked a stray rock and shrugged. The tiny pebbles in the side walk glimmered in the afternoon sun like iridescent flakes of silver.

There were not many people on their walk home today, which was comprehensible being that it was at least 20 degrees. Naruto didn't have money for the train and he figured Shikamaru didn't either (or he was just bored and had nothing else to do). He had to tough it out with his thick orange coat and scarf tied snugly around his face.

"I dunno—"He replied, shivering unconsciously as a frigid breeze snaked its way through a hole in his gloves. They were still useful, and Naruto had difficulty tossing useful things away.

"I'm sure I know enough about aging to write a crappy little paper, right? I mean look—I made it all the way to 16 alright. I can write a bit about puberty, and then shift to getting old and having to wear diapers whenever you leave the house."

"Naruto," his companion pocketed his hands (an action, Naruto noticed, he only partook in when he was either annoyed or bored). "Do you even know any old people?"

He pondered for a moment, his eyebrows caving into his eyes in doing so. "How about—the man who runs the Ramen stand?"

A sigh emitted from his companion's mouth. "He's middle aged. I mean old."

Naruto growled. "Old is old! He's got gray hairs!"

"Do you know why his hair is gray?"

Naruto halted and glowered at Shikarmaru's ponytail swinging rhythmically in a sluggish tempo ahead.

"That's what old people do. They just get skinny and gray."

Stopping, Shikamaru turned to face the blonde boy, tilting a sardonic eyebrow towards his hairline. "Yes, but why do they get gray and skinny now that they're old?"

Naruto stole another moment to think, probing every crook and cranny for any reasonable answer. None floated to the top to save him. He resorted to his pool of nonsense, which was always overflowing with bullshit.

"Because their hair got bored with being the same color all those years and it's too much of a hassle for them to walk to the kitchen to eat something. They might break a hip."

Shikarmaru rolled his eyes and continued strolling forward. "There is always a process in doing things—"he called back to the defiant stationary figure, "nothing just magically appears without energy being spent."

A sudden anger licked Naruto's stomach and traced fiery lines up and down his throat. He had no idea where this unexpected fury had budded from, but it claimed him with such a sudden passion he hardly could account for the words that flew unguarded out his mouth.

"Why does everything have to have a damn reason? Why can't some things just be because they are!"

Shikamaru's footsteps abruptly discontinued. A tense silence strung out between the two with only a car speeding by to signal the word was still acting properly. His lazy escort stuck his head over his shoulder and eyed him with such intensity that Naruto had to stare down at his sneakers.

"This," he announced firmly, "is why you are failing science."

The chill that swept off Shikamaru's words wrapped around his arms and burned him. His thumb slowly crept up to his mouth and he began to chew the small, ragged nail there; a nervous habit he had carried into adolescence from childhood.

"Why does everything have to be so damn vague?" He said softly, his thumb muffling his words into disjointed slurs. He spared a hesitant glance at Shikamaru, whose heavy stare had softened.

"Why can't something be—absolute?"

The question fluttered in the air for only half a second before Shikamaru's stern lips melded into a slight smile. In one quick, fluid movement, he seized Naruto's wrist and proceeded to drag him onwards He bobbled uncertainly behind him.

"Where are we going?" Naruto interrogated, feeling as though he already knew the answer.

"The library. Without my help, your project will lack common rationality."

Naruto scowled. "Who needs that in the first place?"


Naruto loved books, but hated to read. There was just something so comforting about the thick, coarse scent that soared off the pages when they flipped, but plowing through all the words and sentences engraved on them seemed next to impossible to do. He remembered his mother had liked books—Or at least he liked to believe so (maybe he had lied to himself?)

Sometimes, he could imagine himself as a small toddler, crawling carefully in between stacks and stacks of vivid books, piled like haphazard skyscrapers puncturing the air. He could almost witness his mother sitting cross-legged on the couch, reading a book with her plastic-framed glasses perched on her nose and a look of intense focus icing her eyes over. Then, she would notice his stare and look up, vibrant red tendrils of hair swinging wildly as she did so, and smile pleasantly down at him—not a beautiful smile, but a kind, ordinary grin. He had no idea if this memory was fictitious or not; he wasn't even sure what his mother looked like. He had only ever seen one true picture of his family. It was a black and white wedding photo and his mother had not been smiling at all.

Holding a book in his hands sort of made him feel connected to this woman he imagined his mother to be, as if a small strand of who she really was still lay cradled beneath the cover. He had all but given up on ever reading a book with more then 300 pages all the way through, his attention span just did not warrant such, but he still felt calm and protected when he walked into the library; the seemingly endless rows of books his silent guardians.

--but it was only pleasurable when he wandered in to listen to his MP3 player in a quiet place. Otherwise, the library became what it was always intended to be by its founders.

The library was the physical embodiment of everything in this world Naruto despised: learning and silence. Shikamaru literally had to drag him through the double doors by the scruff of his collar to get him inside, earning some disapproving glances from a couple of hassled-looking librarians in the process.

"Noooo! Pleassseee! "

His wail was matched by a dozen cries of 'Quiet please!'.

(Sometimes he forgot that not everyone talked as loud and stridently as he did.)

"I don't want to be here." He whined quietly.

"Tough. You'll thank me later." Shikamaru remained completely composed as he led a reluctant Naruto by the arm towards the virtually deserted back of the library.

"Common—let's go to the computer cafe or get some Ramen or um we could just sleep, ne? You like sleeping!—"

"Naruto," he interjected irately, "when else would you do this?"


"That's what you said about last week's English paper."

"Yeah, and I did it." He huffed.

"No you didn't." Shikamaru calmly stated, finally releasing him as they entered the barren fields of non-fiction. Rubbing the red place left by the firm grip, Naruto glowered viciously, but his partner was to busy scouting out a vacant table to notice or care.

"All you did was write some lame excuse about a radioactive sumo wrestler breathing fire on your paper and eating all your pencils."

"I know." He sniggered, though inwardly, he cringed. His well of bullshit and lies sometimes teetered into the completely unrealistic—sometimes they sped so quickly off his teeth that he scarcely recognized his voice or what he was actually saying. Lies were such beautiful, dumb things.

"You know she totally bought it."

It was Shikamaru's turn to snicker.

"Yeah," he replied sardonically, "that's why she totally failed you."

Once again, another heated scowl was tossed at the back of Shikamaru's head, which went distinctly unheeded as he proceeded to unload his book bag unto an empty table. Naruto begrudgingly followed him.

After taking an exasperated look at the thousands of books stacked tenderly in the carefully aligned shelves, Naruto sighed loudly and plopped into a chair. He ducked his head beneath his arms.

"I don't even know where to begin." He mumbled into the sleeve of his jacket. A few blessed seconds of silence passed (Naruto hoped Shikamaru had given up and left him to fend for himself) until a thunderous crash sounded on the table. Naruto jumped up-right abruptly and nearly fell out of his chair. Towering over him, Shikamaru smiled with a hand on top of a heap of crusty books.

"For me?" Naruto cried, glancing from the thick books to his friend. He shook his head.

"For me." He corrected. "I have a project too, you know. Even though it's bothersome, I do have to set a good example for you to follow."

"Tch, whatever." Naruto murmured, getting up and venturing aimlessly into the mass of books on either side of him. He waded pointlessly through the sea of books for ten minutes at least, only half-heartedly searching for his topic, mostly entranced by the old, musty books. He imagined people clad in fashion from the 1940s yanking these books off the shelf while their spines were still stiff and fresh. He could almost see them, scouring through them, their fingers dancing down the taunt page to flip it.

Then, he realized unexpectedly, as he stumbled into a vast row of cookbooks, that he was quite lost.

Kousoku currently boasted the third largest Library in all of Japan. Naruto once heard that a Hobo had lived inside it for three months until he was plucked out by a gang of irate librarians. And just two weeks ago a little boy was reported missing only to be discovered hours later wandering fruitlessly through the shelves.

At first he didn't panic---the library wasn't that big. It was only 3rdlargest after all. People didn't stay lost in the library, they only temporally misplaced themselves. He continued onwards, searching futilely for any resemblance of the place he had left Shikamaru. He only panicked when he ran straight back into the cookbooks for the third time.

He began to weave hastily through the shelves, desperately searching for where they ended, but they simply went on and on. Finally, after several long minutes of ineffective searching, he caught sight of the main desk and, exhaling with relief, slid to the floor.

All libraries should be burned to the ground, he thought as he laid his head back against a row of books. As if his thoughts were transmitted out loud, the books his head rested on responded by sliding back and out the other side, causing his skull to bounce violently against the shelf. A searing pain slid across the back of his head as a couple of frizzy haired librarians at the front desk turned to glare. Rubbing the fresh knot planted on the back of his head, he bent forward and reached his hand as far as he could through the bottom shelf to retrieve the books that had fallen over on the other side. That was when he read some of the titles.

A Cure to Aging: Is Immortality a Fantasy or Future Fact?

Halting Cell Death.

Naruto's eyes widened slightly as he read the title on the fading, red spine of the next book.

Aging: A process.

Sometimes the world was frighteningly convenient, but he was not complaining in the least. His key to passing science and finally breaking that dastardly tradition was just a mere ten inches from his finger tips. Reaching as far as his hand would stretch, he slowly inched his way towards the book getting closer—closer—closer until—

A pallid hand suddenly appeared in his limited line of view on the other side and scooped up the book with ease. Naruto's hand fell limply as he watched a pair of black converse begin to stalk carelessly away.! Seeing as Naruto never with held his colorful comments, or even reviewed them in his head before they were ushered out his mouth, he had an aggravated reply on his lips in seconds.

"Hey, you ass-hole, that's my damn book!"

The sneakers faltered forward, as if the wearer had stumbled for a moment. The black shoes then turned around cautiously.

"Yeah, that's right bastard." Naruto said, trying to edge his head through the small gap between the shelves to lift a better look from his book thief. "I'm talking to you." But, just as his eyes caught a quick glimpse of the back of a boy with thick, black hair—the bandit bolted.

Naruto instinctively attempted to pursue him, but readily bashed his head against the top of the shelf (again), hurling bright green spots into his eyes. The knot in his head throbbed furiously. Stating a very lively word that made the librarians at the front desk wince, he trailed quickly after the thief.

Darting left and right, past row after row, Naruto chased the ass relentlessly, catching only peeks at the person's appearance. From what he could tell, the boy was several inches taller then him, but probably around his age with black hair and very, very pale skin—the type of skin one only develops from never going outside or employing too much skin care cream. He figured the elusive boy was a geek who couldn't handle confrontations without peeing in his pants.

Finally, after several minutes, he lost him and found that he was once again in the god-forsaking cookbooks. A long string of curses rowdily sang out through the quiet, stillness of the library. He had been gone from Shikamaru for at least 30 minutes and needed to head back soon before he made him worry, but he was not one to give up so easily. That boy had deliberately taken the book he had reached his hand out for, why?

Slowly, he crept like a stalking predator from shelf to shelf, peeking around corners swiftly, and then moving on to the next with no luck. But then, as he reached the last row, he spied a black door on the wall labeled 'storage'. A devilish smile curled on his face. Somehow, he knew that boy was in there. Where else would a wimp hide but in a closet?

It was like it was instinct. He's in there.

Slowly, he put his hand on the doorknob and then pushed open the door with all his might.

"Aha! You little…"

Naruto's words were suddenly misplaced as he stared on at the figure standing with back facing him, leaning with one hand on the wall, and the other on the juncture between his neck and collarbone. The boy was not little by any means—or even a boy for that matter. Even though he appeared to be about the same age as himself, his elegant, mature stance was that of an old professor who'd seen the world. It demanded a certain respect as it seemed to command the very essence of time. Naruto, for the first time ever in all his sixteen years, was wordless next to this--person. Glancing down at the floor, he found his book lying there pointlessly, as if warning him to run.


Even though it was Naruto's first time ever meeting this boy, he could tell that his voice was pained and constricted. The intensity of the one word that had escaped from him was enough to lapse Naruto into a second bout of silence. He simply stood there dumbly, staring at the quivering back of the formerly-known-ass-now-vampire-man. The boy obviously noticed the lack of movement and spoke again, this time with a stronger, haughtier voice that rumbled deeply inside the small closet. It almost seemed to resemble a resilient satin.

"Didn't you just hear me, dobe? I said leave."

Dobe? DOBE? Just who the hell did this boy think he was? Naruto may not have been in the top 30 (okay, maybe 50) of his class, but he was definitely not dead last. There were two things in this world that made him truly enraged and cracks against his level of intelligence was one. Naruto barely felt the words graze his lips as they hurriedly soared out his mouth.

"Like hell! You stole my book, made me bang my head against the freaking shelf again, and got me lost in the goddamn cook books." Naruto stepped forward, raising a scornful finger up into the air. That instinct was back, telling him to stay."I demand an apology---a really freaking good one too."

The boy groaned and clutched his shoulder tighter. Naruto could make out the stark blue veins that seemed to glow beneath the boy's wan skin.

"I don't owe you—haaa—anythin—mmm." The fury inside of Naruto ebbed away as he realized this boy was in some semblance of pain. A small perspiration seemed to be collecting on the pallid hand exposed and his entire body was shaking, as if he was battling with his legs to stay on his feet. Naruto became even more alarmed when the boy suddenly dropped to the ground and grasped his shoulder with both hands.

"Hey—Are you okay?" He questioned, stepping forward hesitantly.

"No! Don't come an—mmm—closer—"

….Naruto couldn't stop himself from moving forward even if he had wanted to.

In those next few moments, something completely strange and unordinary occurred; something that made the stiff, straight line this world was forged upon waver and crack completely. Naruto was drawn to this boy, as if his legs were no longer his own to control and they followed the path on their own accord. He suddenly felt disjointed and surreal—as if his mind was in three places at once. Colors were more vibrant then usual—the black of the boy's hair and clothing manifested the appearance of a giant abyss that he was about to topple into. His limbs were guided by tiny invisible strings—he felt like he was a floating, disembodied entity.

He only half-noted the fact the boy had stood up and faced Naruto. They were abruptly very close. Nothing seemed to stick, all his thoughts and feelings seemed to slide off his mind like butter on a linoleum floor. He couldn't for the life of him focus on the boy's face; he sensed it was sharp and pale but the boy's eyes had him cornered. They swallowed and chewed him in their profound dark hue.

"Damn it, why now?"

The boy's words didn't make any sense as they collected ineffectually in Naruto's ears.

Then, he kissed him. Pale hands assertively grabbed Naruto's cheeks and the two boys' faces were slammed together with what seemed to be another force entirely. Brawny, wet lips massaged his own with an unnerving confidence and Naruto felt his legs, which were now two vindictive, useless columns of jelly, stumble backwards. His back finally collided against the wall, mouth opening slightly on impact. Something disgustingly thin and slimy glided into his mouth and scooped the life out of him.

He was repulsed by the fact that he did not have a single ounce of control over himself. He was reverted into a willing lump of fleshy putty that could not so much as even mummer a weak protest against the mouth that was overwhelming him as if to consume him completely. The two slowly slid down the wall until they finally rested in a tangled heap in the floor. Why couldn't he bite the offending appendage in his mouth? Why couldn't he move, damn it?

He had no idea how many dizzying minutes or seconds had passed, he only knew that the edges of his vision were beginning to become fuzzy and distorted. He required air—desperately. And as if responding to his need, the lips finally drew away. A chorus of panting filled the small, silent closet, as both boys sat in the moment and attempted to retrieve their lost thoughts that had slipped away in the heated seconds. Feeling began to snake itself back into his body and Naruto was pleased to see his fingers twitch as they traveled up to touch his swollen, burning lips. They were still wet.

"Who—"He wheezed, almost flinching at the frailty of his voice. "—what—Why?"

Naruto was agitated to see the other boy had recovered his breath more quickly than him. Now that his mind didn't feel as drugged and disoriented as before, he could soak in the other's face more clearly. The boy's face was faultless and pale—smooth lines traced a long, slim nose down to lips that were slightly thin. A slim jaw glued the face together and added a conceited, though graceful edge to his appearance. His eyes were so dark of a brown they appeared almost black and limitless. Naruto scowled faintly—he knew he would be very very very aggravated when this weird, dull feeling faded away.

"I'm Sasuke Uchiha." The boy stood up, brushing his blue jeans off needlessly on the way, and loomed over Naruto, smirking like an untamed wild cat. "As for what—Well, I believe that's what they call a kiss. I believe we've just engaged into a bit of a make-out session." All the blood currently residing inside Naruto at the moment flooded into his face.

"As for why—that's a bit more difficult to explain." The boy dubbed Sasuke bent down and collected something off the floor. He turned his black, mocking eyes back to Naruto. "If you are as simple minded as you appear to be, then I can't get too complicated without completely loosing you so I'll just say this—I'm cursed and now, so are you. "

Simple-minded? Naruto was absolutely elated to feel a rush of anger sweep through his veins, (any sensation was better then the frightening absence of it). Sweet, wonderful words began to fill his mouth as he prepared to launch a steady stream of insults.

"You mother fu--"

Another mordant smirk smoothed over the boy's lips.

"See you around."

--And with that, the boy exited the closet with nothing more then a flimsy wave, leaving Naruto inside to fume heavily with a mounting rage. Attempting to chase after him, he found his legs were just too wobbly to do anything but sit. Also, a ghastly ache seized his stomach, like he had performed two thousand crunches. Every time he moved, a terrible pain raced through his limbs. He sat still, sulking beneath the weight of his bewilderment and fury with no one to throw it at. He had been made fun of, drugged, kissed, called stupid, and then brushed off—and to top it all off…

Naruto opened the door suddenly and flung his head through the crack, ignoring the horrible, sudden pain that cried through him. He howled with all his built-up might at the receding black figure.

"Hey you bastard! You took my book!!"

Naruto had been in the library for almost three grisly, agonizing hours before Shikamaru had finally given up on his friend's limited attention span and let him go. Taken that he had only actually worked on his project for 30 minutes of that allotted time, Naruto still had to admit those were a few of the worst hours of his young life.

After his run-in with the pervert in the closet, he had somehow found his way back to the lone table in the army of non-fiction to find Shikamaru, oh wonder of all wonders, sleeping and drooling all over an opened book. The second he arrived, however, he had woken up abruptly and sat up, beady eyes alert. He had stared at him strangely from then on and had asked him continually if he was alright, pleading to know whether something had happened in the hour he was missing. Naruto could not find it in himself to explain just what had partaken in that one, terrifying hour. It was shameful enough he had to live with the fact he had kissed another boy—no, he had been mouth raped by another boy—he didn't want anyone else knowing. He simply tossed him a PG 13 version, where he got lost and chased an asshole across the entirety of the library because he had thieved his book. He also divulged to him the nature of his stomach ache.

After that, Shikamaru had tagged behind him like a sullen watch dog as he collected the necessary books and worked on his paper. But, his stomach ache did not subside—it rolled around in his belly with the same intensity of which it first commenced. Finally, his friend had relented and allowed Naruto to exit the hellish double doors and step into the biting frigid taste of liberation.

His walk home was brisk and cold; Naruto lived in a neighborhood that required one to keep a steady pace when strolling home at night, lest they be accompanied by people of the wrong sorts. When he arrived home, he found that Iruka was already there, sitting at the kitchen table grading papers. He glanced up anxiously as he entered.

"Naruto, just where the hell have you been?" The man interrogated, slamming his red pencil down on the unstable table that shook in response. "It's dark and you know how I feel about you being out after sunset."

Naruto loved to be fussed over because for most of his life he had had nobody to care whether he breathed at all.

"I was at the library with Shikamaru." He replied pleasantly, unraveling his scarf from his face and unzipping his jacket. Iruka's eyes narrowed.

"Honest!" He cried. "I have a project I have to do for science and he dragged me to the library to work on it."

"What's it on?"

"Processes. I got aging, but I don't even know any real old people. I mean, I know they don't poop as often and they go to nursing homes when they hit 78, but other then that I'm stumped. I think he's just trying to get back at me for making him come in during summer school."

"I'm sure that's not his—Oh my god! Naruto, what happened?"

Naruto had unshed his jacket completely, revealing his white logo t-shirt stained in the belly with dark scarlet blood.

"What?" The blonde boy questioned as he stared down at himself. He glanced at Iruka pleadingly.

"I swear, I don't even know where this came from. I haven't even taken off my jacket since scho—"

"Save it." Iruka glared disapprovingly at him and then sighed as he drew up. "I'll get the antiseptic."

When Iruka had him lay down on the couch and lift up his shirt, there had been a fair amount of still-gooey blood pooled on his skin. But, when he cleaned it away, there had been no scratch or cut or any measurable wound.

Needless to say, Naruto had quite a bit on his mind as he flopped unto his bed and settled beneath his sheets; so much that his plagued brain disallowed sleep to occur. He spent most of the night very much awake and staring up at the strange patterns in the plaster on his ceiling and occasionally tracing his lips with the tips of his fingers.

Another sat awake that night as well, observing him as he tossed furiously in his covers from atop the fire escape on the building next door.


A voice cooed softly. The boy with dark hair leaned forward slightly.

"What am I going to do with you?"

Author's note (again): I despise the cookbook section. Forgive the grammar –sob- review plleassee!

IT's been revised like crazy.