A Lost Christmas Eve – A Naruto Christmas Fanfic

I do not own Naruto and have no intention of profiting from this story in any way.

Note: This takes place either the Christmas before canon starts or the one before that. Naruto might be a bit O.C., but I think this might be a little more realistic. I hope you enjoy the story. And I'm away that the Japanese certainly don't celebrate the Christmas holiday quite the way Americans do, but hey, writer's perogative. Merry Christmas!

Naruto Uzumaki sighed tiredly before wearily pushing the door shut, and sliding to the floor, clutching a small package in his small hands. He turned the sloppily wrapped gift in his hands several times, before smiling slightly and raising the box to his ear and giving it a little shake. There was a little rustle, some little shifting of whatever was inside, but he couldn't tell what it was by sound alone. Naruto allowed himself another smile. That was good, it would make it all the more special when he opened it in the morning. Especially if it hadn't been broken in the scuffle.

Groaning, Naruto pulled himself to his feet, wincing as he stretched a leg that was already bruised and swelling up. He had managed to protect his face this time, thanks to the move that Bear-mask had shown him a month ago, after the last time this had happened. Of course, that hadn't saved the rest of him from the beating. The masks had shown up of course, after a few minutes, but thanks to Bear-san he wasn't going to wander around with a black eye for a few days either. The rest of the bruises could be effectively hidden by clothing or some other method. There would be fewer questions that way.

Naruto limped to the kitchen table and placed the small package on it. He noticed that there had been other new additions that hadn't been there when he had left, but ignored them for the moment. His leg needed attention, and Naruto knew by experience that a hot shower would at least help take the pain away and probably fix it right up. He could look at the new additions afterwards.

Wincing all the while, Naruto peeled his several layers of heavy clothing off carefully. When he was finally completely undressed, he stepped into the small shower room and cranked up the hot water. For a few moments, he just stood in the water, and let its heat wash the cold and the pain from his body, then mindful of his water bill, set about washing himself.

He had been surprised when Iruka-sensei had shuffled up to him the week before and had asked him his plans for Christmas. Iruka-sensei had always been weird; Naruto had noticed this from the beginning. When Naruto was assigned to the class earlier in the year he had almost panicked when Iruka actually looked at him, and answered his questions when he raised his hand. When he did something wrong, Iruka-sensei came over and corrected what he did. It was strange to have a teacher that actually seemed to see him. Sure he yelled and sometimes even hit him, but that was more than any other teacher had done. Due to his strange behavior, Naruto had often wondered if there was something wrong with him.

Still, even with the weird behaviors, Iruka-sensei's question had been unexpected. No teacher had asked him that personal a question, before. Naruto had immediately been put on guard. He had learned long ago that people who asked personal questions could be very dangerous people. People could do really nasty things with it, Naruto knew this from experience. Still, Iruka-sensei's question had seemed innocent, and the man hadn't done anything to hurt him so far. Though Naruto knew, also from experience, that didn't necessarily mean anything. Giving the man the benefit of the doubt, Naruto had enthusiastically explained his holiday tradition to Iruka.

He knew it wasn't much of a tradition by anyone else's standards, but it was his and his alone, and that was what was important. It was wise to stay inside on Christmas Eve, like any major holiday, for the crowds were more likely to try to hurt him, so that's where he stayed. There was no school, so he generally spent the day reading training scrolls and books, or doing his best to actually train in his small apartment. Some years, old man Hokage would come by, and they would talk for an hour or so. Then, as it became dark outside, Naruto would like a candle, and enjoy two cups of ramen. It was a rare day that he could afford to eat more than one cup per meal, but he figured Christmas was important enough. He knew that there were more elaborate meals served to orphans in town, but after he had left the orphanage, he had found himself unwelcome at them. He made due. After dinner, he would put on his warmed clothes, and go out on his little balcony and watch the stars for a while. They were always more beautiful on Christmas, for some reason.

Iruka had frowned at that, and had seemed to consider something for a moment. Naruto had thought he had been carefully selecting an insult, or since this was weird Iruka-sensei, perhaps even a suggestion of some sort. Stranger thing had happened around the man, after all. Still, he had been blown away when Iruka had asked him to join him for a Christmas Eve dinner. He had accepted it without thinking, and the teacher had walked away with a blush on his face and a small smile. Naruto hadn't known what had come over him. He knew that accepting invitations from strangers was bad, and he had the scars to prove it.

But when he had told the old man about it later that day, he'd been surprised when the old man laughed, and told him to enjoy himself. He had refused to explain himself, as usual, despite Naruto's continuous pestering. Still, the old man's words had relaxed him enough to look forward to the dinner. He'd even remembered to get Iruka a gift, though it wasn't much. After all, he did have to eat when the holiday was over.

He'd taken care to show up early, and had dressed as nicely as possibly without risking freezing. He'd apparently surprised Iruka-sensei with his earliness, as the man had answered the door covered in flour and grease. The man was mortified being seen like that, but Naruto hadn't minded that at all. In fact, seeing the man in such a state of disarray allowed him to gather all his courage and walk right in the door. He had almost paused breathless at the door. The inside of Iruka-sensei's house had been decorated for the season, and to Naruto it seemed to be the very image of how a house should be decorated at Christmas. There had been wreaths, bows, ribbons, a little Christmas town on the table in the center of the dining room table, and even a small Christmas tree nestled in the corner of the small house.

He was unable to contain a bright smile, and thanked the teacher for inviting him. He had bowed deeply to the man, presenting his gift. Iruka had been surprised, and had attempted to refuse, but Naruto had cheerfully pressed the gift into his hands, and had tentatively moved to explore the house. It wasn't anything spectacular, by any means, but compared to his apartment it was wonderful. He peeked inside the door through all the rooms and was almost jealous. Every room was decorated with pictures and comfy looking furniture, as well as being decked out in holiday splendor. Naruto could somehow tell that the house had been in Iruka's family for several generations just by the feel of the rooms. He didn't know what it was, but he wished that he lived in a place like it.

Finished with his exploring, Naruto wandered back toward the living room. He arrived and allowed himself a small smile when he saw his little gift placed under the tree. It made him feel all warm for some reason, and he took a moment to cherish the feeling. He moved to sit on the couch when he heard the faint noise of someone singing from an adjoining room. Curious, he moved to the one door he hadn't explored.

It was a small combination kitchen and dining room, and the feeling that Naruto had gotten from all the other room was even greater here. The table in the middle of the room was old and worn from years of use, though still usable, and there were little decorations covering the wall that Naruto knew that Iruka, despite how strange he acted, would never put up. Even the pans hanging on a rack by the small sink were dented and banged up, but still lovingly kept capable of cooking. The room would have felt warm, even if all the windows had been thrown open to the bitter cold winds of winter.

In front of the stove was Iruka-sensei, still covered in grease and flour, stirring several pots on the stove, singing quietly to himself. Every now and then, he'd reach behind him without looking, to grab the saltshaker, or a box of some seasoning and add it to one of the pots. He moved with the assurance that he knew where everything in kitchen was placed, as if he had known the space for his entire life and learned all its little secrets, which he undoubtedly had.

Naruto took a step inside the kitchen, and was surprised when the tile beneath his foot squeaked a little. Iruka turned and smiled at the boy, and informed him dinner would be ready in a few more minute, and would he like a drink while he waited? Naruto shook his head, moved towards a chair facing the stove, and sat down. He watched wistfully, legs swinging above the ground, as Iruka moved through the kitchen, finishing up their dinner.

He stood and helped Iruka set the table, and then helped the teacher wrestle a small turkey out of an even smaller oven. Iruka-sensei left the kitchen briefly and returned in clean clothes and Naruto almost jumped at seeing the teacher in clothes other than a ninja uniform. He hadn't noticed it when Iruka-sensei had been dirty, but he supposed that even teachers had to have normal clothing. It wasn't as if they just came out of the closet when it was time to go to class, and went back in at the end of the day. At least, he didn't think they did. Maybe Iruka-sensei was an exception.

Dinner was…pleasant, Naruto supposed. Much of it was spent in silence, but it didn't feel uncomfortable. Instead it made him feel kind of warm inside, which made him wonder if Iruka's milk had gone bad. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, some strange red stuff shaped like a can that Iruka-sensei called cranberry sauce, and a couple kinds of casseroles. There really wasn't a large amount of food, for after all, Iruka had only been making for two, and until this meal, rarely made more food than one person, but there still was more than enough for the two of them. All of it was better than the instant ramen that he had every day, though he wouldn't dare tell Iruka that.

Afterwards, he helped Iruka with the dishes, and between the both of them had somehow avoided breaking any of the old dishes. Then, they both went out to the living room, and Iruka-sensei had given Naruto a small package. Naruto had been a little wary of taking it, but the night so far had gone well, and he knew that it was a tradition to give gifts. He'd gotten on for Iruka, after all, hadn't he?

They had spent the rest of the afternoon talking, something that Naruto wasn't really all that familiar with. Nobody really had wanted to listen to him before, and personal questions really had a habit of making him uncomfortable. Still, Iruka-sensei had no problem talking about himself, and Naruto felt obliged to share because of it. After a while, they had moved on to other topics, and it almost felt…natural, that this is how things were supposed to be on Christmas. That strange warm feeling that Naruto had felt at dinner had spread through his whole body, and he felt…content. Safe even. He knew somehow that Iruka-sensei wouldn't hurt him, and that it was okay to enjoy himself.

Sadly, things couldn't last forever, and when it began to get dark, he had to excuse himself. Walking home in the dark was dangerous, and he almost accepted the teacher's offer to walk him home. He didn't, though. It wouldn't be any less dangerous for him, and would put the teacher in a possibly dangerous position. Still, he didn't regret it. He smiled and thanked the man for letting him come over, and hugged the man when Iruka-sensei offered to do the same next year. With a final wave, Naruto walked out into the night.

Naruto reluctantly pulled himself out the shower, and began to tentatively stretch. The water and heat had managed to loosen the bruised muscles, and there was only a little pain. It had been a good thing that he had not let Iruka-sensei accompany him home, for both their sakes. Instead of the usual scuffle before the crowd got bored, there might have been real violence. Weird Iruka-sensei would have protested over what they were doing, and maybe even try to physically defend him. The crowd never liked it when people did that, and had their own particular ways of showing their displeasure. The masks might have even shown themselves to stop the trouble if things had gotten too bad.

Naruto somehow managed to towel himself dry and get dressed without aggravating any of his injuries, but the walk back into the kitchen was another story. The water had relaxed the muscles enough so the pain was receding, but in exchange, he had lost some of the numbness that the weather had blessed him with. Wincing every other step, Naruto made his way over to the table and sat heavily in his only chair. He lightly rubbed his bruises absent mindedly, as he looked over the few items that were on the table.

There was the small box that he had received from Iruka-sensei earlier, and that he had somehow managed to save from being crushed by either himself or the crowd. There were also two other items that had not been there when he had left for Iruka-sensei's house. One of the items was a letter, which Naruto knew had to have come from the Hokage. Like every year, it would probably have a beautiful, hand-drawn Christmas card with a small amount of money or a few coupons for ramen down at Ichiraku's. Naruto sometimes got the feeling that the old man always wanted to do more, but for some reason never did. Or maybe he couldn't. Sometimes, he wondered why the old man bothered at all. Other than Iruka-sensei, no one else ever did.

The third item on the table was a gift from the mask people, the ninja who always showed up just when the crowd got too nasty, or he was about to pull an exceptionally malicious prank on the butcher down the street who always overcharged him so much, that even other people had noticed. It was another gift that he received that he didn't understand, but had come to expect. It was never much, either. A basic taijutsu training scroll one year, a small utility knife another. Just little items that whoever the ninja were somehow knew he needed or wanted. His favorite by far had been the lock picks he had received last Christmas. It had taken him two months and some advice from Rat-mask, who had shown up the next day to give him some cautious pointers, before he had learned to use them, but Iruka-sensei's grade books had never been safe after he had.

He had once asked the masks about the gifts, and there had been a strange silence from all of them. For several minutes after that, they has rapidly signed each other with the strange hand-signals that it seemed only the masks knew. It had been a bizarre moment for Naruto. He had never seen the masks…argue before, though he wasn't entirely sure that was what they were doing. But after several minutes, they had all turned at him, bowed, and disappeared, leaving him slightly disappointed. But only slightly. The masks often refused to answer his questions. What was one more, really?

Still, as Naruto looked over each of the gifts, he had received more this year than he ever had. He wondered if he should be happy about that. All of the other kids at school had talked excitedly about what gifts they were hoping to get, and how they hoped they got more this year. Naruto didn't really understand why. He looked at the three gifts he had received and felt that strange warm feeling that had filled him earlier at Iruka's. He did not honestly think that there was anything that could have made this Christmas better. It was almost everything he had always secretly hoped for.

Naruto pulled himself slowly from the chair, and tried stretching again, and was pleased when there was only a small twinge. By tomorrow it'd likely be gone, and he'd be up and terrorizing the neighbors two floors down in no time. It would serve them right for shoveling their snow in front of his mailbox. Though, he'd wait a few more days. It was Christmas after all, and he was feeling generous.

Naruto turned to the door that led to his small balcony, and smiled. Just because Iruka had disapproved of his Christmas traditions, didn't mean that he couldn't enjoy a small part of them. He turned to head back to his bathroom to grab his coat when something caught his attention. Puzzled, he quietly turned and faced the door.

Though Naruto's landlord avoided visiting his floor as much as possible, the man was still a landlord, and did his best to take care of the building. Naruto was the only one who lived on his floor, so the landlord often did less maintenance work than on other floors. Still, the man had regularly changed the light bulbs in the hallway. Naruto, in order to save money on his electric bills, kept his lights off, except when entirely necessary. Because of both of those circumstances, Naruto was able to clearly see that someone was standing outside his door, a strange thing, no matter the day or time.

Naruto was instantly on guard, and reached for the knife that he kept hidden on him at all times. Using it on the crowd earlier would have been tantamount to suicide, but against one person in his own apartment, it was a much safer bet. He would still likely lose, but he'd at least be able to get in a few stabs. Though, he would rather not have anyone get injured, especially in his apartment. He'd discovered the hard way that blood was hard to get out of the carpet.

However, after watching the shadow for several minutes, Naruto started to relax his guard, and stood confused. The shadow would scoot closer to the door every few seconds, then, as if it were undecided about what came next, would scoot back to its original position, huddle on itself for a second, and then repeat. Sometimes the shadow seemed to bend over, as if getting ready to ram the door, or even leave something at the foot of the door, but it never seemed to do so. Whoever it was, they were quite nervous, because, as Naruto moved closer to the door, he could hear heavy breathing, and once, when a floorboard creaked, he was almost certain that he heard a squeak from the person.

For the next ten minutes, Naruto watched the shadow, eventually choosing to quietly sit and observe. It would have been funny, watching the shadow go back and forth and squeaking at loud noises, if he had been sure that the person on the other side didn't wish him harm. Still, it was strange. If the person had the courage to come all the way to his door, what was hard about doing…well, whatever was planned? Good or bad, it was getting late, and if he had another beating to look forward to, he wanted it over so he could get to bed and forget about it until morning.

He had almost nodded off; when the village bells tolling midnight startled him awake. Though, that did nothing to compare with the reaction of the intruder, who squeaked louder than previously, dropped something, at least that was what it sound like to Naruto, and made a mad dash for the stairs at the end of the hallway. Naruto, fearing that perhaps the object was a bomb set to go off at midnight or something similar, threw himself flat, curled himself into a ball, and closed his eyes. It would be a particularly sad Christmas morning, at least for him, if he managed to end up in a million pieces scattered around what was left of his apartment.

Thankfully, when he opened his eyes a minute later, the world had not ended in fiery ruin around him. Carefully getting to his feet and dusting himself off, Naruto made his way to the door. After a minute of indecision, he carefully pushed open the door a crack, and once again waited for the world to end. When it yet again remained intact, he pushed it open to look out of. For a moment, he could see nothing out of the ordinary, but just as he was about to close the door and finally go to bed; he caught sight of something on the floor that made him catch his breath and his heart stop. It was a small present.

It wasn't just a present, though, it was a beautifully wrapped little thing, made with a shiny sort of wrapping paper that Naruto had once glimpsed through the windows in one of the higher class shops. It had a bow, beautifully tied, and if Naruto wasn't mistaken, it looked like it was made of real lace. Not the plastic lace one could buy by the yard at the local clothing shop that overcharged him, but the real stuff. Naruto once remembered someone calling it silk. A small tag hanging off the top even had his name printed on it in beautiful calligraphy. Just looking at the thing made Naruto nervous beyond belief.

Naruto had had several such anonymous presents left at his door over the years. He had been amazed by the first one he had received, and had hurried to try to open it to see what it contained. Before he could however, one of the masks had swooped in, and without saying anything, had grabbed the present and left in a flash of smoke. He had been utterly confused by the action, and had never seen the gift again. It had happened several times more that year, and Naruto had once been lucky to grab one of the masks and demand a reason. The mask had looked at him for moment, cryptic as ever, then calmly turned, faced the present away from himself and had ripped it open in one quick movement. The resulting barrage of knives and other bladed weapons that shot from the box and stabbed into the nearby wall had more than convinced Naruto to never again bother the masks when they came collecting.

Still, Naruto sadly stared at the beautifully wrapped gift and waited for the inevitable appearance of the mask. They would take the dangerous thing away, and he'd never see it again. Shrugging, Naruto waited patiently for the mask to arrive, for he didn't wish anyone else to touch the thing. Getting hurt on Christmas, for after all the bells had rung and the day had turned, was a thing that Naruto wouldn't wish on anyone. And waited. And waited some more.

Fifteen minutes later Naruto was starting to get impatient. No matter the time of night, a mask had always shown up minutes after the deadly gifts were delivered to spirit them away. To destroy them, Naruto had always supposed, though he had several times entertained the thought of the masks returning them to their original owners. Naruto continued to wait impatiently, when something occurred to him. If the masks hadn't shown up, did that mean the gift was harmless? That it was actually for him? Or were they merely busy somewhere else? If he waited a bit longer, would one of them finally appear to take it away?

He grappled with the thought for several minutes, trying to suppress the strange warm feeling that had risen in him at the thought. It was far more likely that the gift was dangerous and the masks were simply not being very attentive. But if it was indeed a gift meant for him, then wasn't it impolite just to be standing here staring at it? Maybe it was from his landlord, or maybe the polite man who owned Ichiraku. They wouldn't be happy if he just left it there, would they? Though if it weren't from one of them, how likely would it be for him to end up splattered all over the wall?

Coming to a decision, Naruto went back into his apartment and rummaged around for a few minutes, before coming back with a long stick. He stuck the stick out his door, and closed the door as much as he possibly could. Aiming carefully, Naruto pulled the stick back, braced himself as much as he could, and hit the box as hard as he could. It slid across the floor and hit the wall hard. But it didn't explode, or spill out knives, or anything else like that Naruto had really been expecting. He felt slightly more hopeful.

Dropping the stick back in his room, he cautiously opened his door and made his way over to the present. He carefully looked at hit, not really knowing what to look for, but doing his best not to overlook anything strange. Well, few things were stranger than him receiving a gift, but in that matter, they were already in the realms of the truly ridiculous. He couldn't see anything strange about the gift, other than that some of the wrapping paper had ripped where he had hit the gift. Cautiously, he bent over and touched the gift lightly, quickly drawing his hand back. Nothing happened. Encouraged, Naruto gingerly picked up the gift with both hands, and when it did not cause instant death, looked over the gift once more. Still nothing.

Now Naruto was stuck with a personal dilemma. Normally, he refused to open gifts till morning on Christmas, but doing so with this gift could possibly prove fatal. Opening the gift would break another of his little traditions, something that he was loathe to do. Safety, however, was always more important. If he wasn't alive to practice his traditions, what was the point anyway? As the mask had done, Naruto turned the top of the gift away from himself. Unwilling to damage the bow, he took the chance and untied it carefully, and quickly pulled his hand back when it fell to the floor. When nothing happened, Naruto took out his knife, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and used the knife to rip open the package.

When nothing happened, Naruto exhaled heavily and carefully turned the top of the gift towards him. Using the knife, he carefully pried part of the hole he had created open and looked inside. He saw something gleam inside, and instantly turned the gift back away from his face. Nothing shot out, Naruto once again worked up his courage and decided to simply go for broke. He turned the gift around and in one move, plunged his hand into the package and drew out what was inside.

The first look at stole his breath away. He had expected death or at least pain, but instead, he saw a…snow globe. It was a small thing, barely the size of his hand, but the inside was captivating. The entire Leaf village was depicting in great detail, covered in a thin layer of beautiful white snow. The Hokage monument towered over the tiny town, each face bedeck in snow, while the town below seemed to glitter, lights from the houses and from the outside dancing amidst the snow falling inside the tiny world. It was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. Somehow the beautiful thing had survived Naruto's prodding, and Naruto felt somehow ashamed that he had ever doubted the nature of the package.

Entranced, Naruto absent-mindedly picked up the lace lying on the ground, and walked into his apartment, shutting the door silently behind him.

A trembling and panting Hinata Hyuga deactivated her Byakugan when Naruto closed his door and slid to the floor of the stairway with a muted sigh of relief. That had been close. She had been frightened that the snow globe had broken when she had dropped the gift, but when she had just about been ready to retrieve the box, Naruto had opened the door to his apartment, and she had fled deeper into the stairway. His reaction to the gift had been strange. At first she had though he'd just been surprised by the gift, but when he hadn't moved to retrieve the gift, she'd begun to get worried. Maybe he didn't like the way the box had been wrapped, or that the bow was too girly, or the colors were wrong…Or one of a million little worries that had streamed through her head.

She had almost screamed when Naruto had left and returned with a stick and had knocked the gift into the wall. She'd been sure it had shattered, and that when Naruto had opened it he'd be angry, or disappointed, and somehow he'd know that she'd had done it and would never speak with her again. Well…not that he ever did in the first place, but she certainly wished he did and that was about as dire as she really could think. Something horrible definitely would have happened.

Climbing to her feet, Hinata allowed herself a small smile. The gift hadn't broken though. In fact, it seemed as if Naruto had been struck speechless by it, a rare thing, even to someone who knew Naruto as well as she did. She hoped he liked it, it looked like he did. Well, at least it seemed like he didn't dislike it, so she thought she could be happy with that. Smiling, she took off down the stairs, and began considering how she would sneak back into the Hyuga manor. Christmas hadn't been bad this year after all.

Naruto stared up at the stars from his balcony, watching them make their own way across the sky. The snow globe lay on the table behind with the other gifts, glowing faintly in the moonlight. He had to stop himself from going back and peering into it more. It was an entrancing thing, but he had one last thing to do tonight.

Yesterday had been…beyond belief. He didn't know really what had happened. He had been…warm, he supposed. Maybe even happy, if that was the word that fit the emotion. Iruka-sensei had given him a gift far beyond whatever was in that little box on the table, and more than the small dinner had served. Naruto didn't know exactly what it was, but he knew that it was special. Special in a way that Naruto had never known existed.

He scanned the skies for a star. He had wished on many of them over the years, and he now often had a hard time finding a new one to wish on. Thankfully, on Christmas the lights of the town were muted, and more of the stars were now visible. It was easy to choose this year. He chose a particularly bright one; low in the eastern sky that was entirely sure he hadn't wished on before. He didn't want to waste the bright ones, they were far more potent, or at least he thought so. He held the image of the star in his mind, all of its ethereal beauty glimmering inside his mind, filling him with its warmth as he spoke his wish.

"I wish I had this feeling every day."

Across town a group of masked men and women went about their cheerful work. Windows shattered before as they systematically targeted houses in what had become a yearly event for the men and women of the Bodyguard unit. They were forbidden to interfere with the mobs until it became deadly for their charge for a very good reason. It relieved some of the pressure and anger that the villagers built up towards the boy, and perhaps saved his life. That didn't mean that the honorable men and women of the unit liked it. So they watched and marked those who went out of their way to make their charge miserable on the happy holiday. And after all were asleep, they filtered out among the village and distributed misery among those who made others miserable. It was more than fitting, or so they thought.

In the Hyuga manor, a young girl had successfully made it past the house guards in a feat of stealth that would have impressed even her stern and demanding father. She made ready for bed, kissed her sleeping sibling on the forehead, and fell into bed smiling. She was already thinking of next Christmas, and what chances it may bring her. And when she dreamed, she dreamed happy dreams for the first time in many years.

And in a small house on the other side of town, a man's curiosity finally got the better of him, and he reached for a small gift under the tree, given to him by a boy who knew so little of giving or receiving. He did it carefully, for the boy had done his best to wrap the present, despite not knowing how, and the man knew that to ruin it would somehow make the boy sad. And when it finally came open, and the man reached in and pulled out a small brass bell, he found himself crying, and he did not know why.

I apologize to readers of Something to Die For for keeping them waiting on another chapter. I'm trying to crank one out over break, so don't lose hope yet.

This story is meant to be sort of as a character study of the character Naruto. Its actually going to be a part of a series of one-shots I have planned out detailing the early years of Naruto. I haven't seen anybody try to explain Naruto backstory in any real way in a good while, at least without deviating from canon, so this is sort of a pet project of mine. Naruto is, as always, a difficult character for me to write, so I attempted to catch a bit of a different face than we normally see (and one that is frankly easier for me to write), so I apologize if he seems a little O.C.

Overall, I hope you enjoy the story, and have a Merry Christmas.