Author's Notes: Hi everyone! My first foray into Naruto ficdom, w00t! Please don't kill me.
Before reading this, it's a good idea to hunt down Reaper Nanashi's Door Number Two, 'cause it's an awesome fic and I'm having an illegal amount of fun playing in her fandom. This fic will attempt to flesh out some of the scenes missing from her fic.
If you decide not to read her's first, well, err... Tell me how that goes for you, ne? XD
This version is mostly Reaper-approved, except for a little bit near the end which she hasn't read, and I tried my best to stay true to her writing style. If you wanna read the first draft for whatever reason, please check out my Deviantart account. Google "Lizeth". :) I've drawn art for her too, so check that out while you're there.
Title: Behind Door Number Two
Disclaimer: Naruto fanfic. Set in Reaper Nanashi's Door Number Two Universe.
Summary: Somehow, the Fourth is alive. Somehow, trust must be built. Radically different from his own neglected childhood, what will Naruto do when the spotlight burns him? Door Number Two fanverse. Missing Scenes.
Behind Door Number Two
- Warmth -
"Hey," the boy said one day, squinting up at the shape in the trees. "You guys can come down, you know."
Owl, like his name, remained on his perch un-budged and simply stared through round, hollowed eyes.
Naruto huffed exasperatedly, landing another heavy punch on the training log in front of him, before moving on to a series of kicks. The fact that his every act was being watched grated on his nerves. In his experience, being watched rarely signified peaceful intent. A measured gaze from afar was often predatory, and it played an ominous tune on his instincts. His quickly developing senses never failed to locate his new "friends". But if he was annoyed by the fact they these ANBU were more or less over-qualified babysitters, he fact that he needed their protection irked him even more. His alternate's body was ridiculously sub-par.
There were currently ANBU two on guard: Owl and Rat. One to defend him if necessary, the other for backup. The others were off duty, or posted with his father or mother.
Owl, Rat, Hare, Bear, Dog, Dolphin... Naruto recited, going through his mental checklist of the ANBU he'd seen so far. All of them silent shadows that rarely spoke except in answer to the Fourth. There were more, he was sure, that he had yet to meet personally.
Dad's paranoia Naruto thought wryly. And if only it were just that...
Trying to loosen the growing knot in his shoulders, Naruto shrugged and resumed training with a grim-faced determination, his thrown kunai landing with a satisfying twack! If they deemed him a spy, he'd just have to prove them wrong. He'd learned every early on that every acknowledgement and trust had to be won, one skirmish at a time.
A week into his self-appointed training. He pranked his first ANBU.
It was apparently a fairly simple mechanism involving a bucket of paint and a few rolls of ninja wire, but set-up was prepared with the utmost care.
Hare spent several days with his hood up as a result, with random patches of faintly orange hair poking indignantly around the top of his (new) porcelain mask.
By the end of the week, several ANBU members were seen sporting the boldly-written sign: "Please do not feed the animals."
...Naturally, this meant war.
Two weeks and three days into his training found Naruto swapping traps and chases with his ANBU antagonists. Once or twice he confronted them head on, which usually resulted in a pre-paid, one-way trip to the closest stream, and Naruto's subsequent introduction to a school of local fish.
The fish were smart enough not to stick around.
Three weeks found Naruto opening the door to his apartment to find his father waiting for him. After which the Fourth took one pointed look at his water-logged offspring, graciously accepted a towel from Shinju, and wrapped his son tight enough to immobilize his arms.
"If you even try to say, 'we need to talk', I'm walking back out right now," Naruto said half-jokingly, squinting in an attempt to look less tired and more aggrivated.
"I'll talk. You can listen," the Fourth compromised with a smile, and easily nullified his first-born's threat by picking the boy off the ground. "Shinju, could you please heat something up? The stew, maybe, or the soup."
"Not this time, Naruto."
The blonde boy grumbled as he was carted into the next room.
Arashi stopped and placed him carefully on his feet, then stepped back and surveyed the towel-wrapped Twinkie roll that was his son. The Fourth arched an eyebrow.
Having a vague idea of what his father was thinking, Naruto stopped his awkward worm wiggle and glared--- Only to be answered with a widening grin.
"Arms up," Arashi ordered, pulling the towel free.
"Dad-" Naruto started to say, and was cut off by his shirt being pulled over his head. He spluttered a bit as he was wiped down, but a dry shirt was smoothly fixed into place. "Dad-"
"Pants," his father said, turning to dig through the drawers.
"Da-umph" A pair of boxers collided with his head. "Dad!"
Scowling, the genin hopped out of his wet clothes and claimed his boxers. "I'm twelve, not two. I'm old enough to dress myself---" He sighed in exasperation when his father resumed toweling him off. "Or I thought I was, anyway."
"I know," the man said sagely, "But it gets done faster this way."
"I'll remember that the next time I sign up for a speed-dressing contest. Do you think they'd let us register as a team?"
The gentle motion of the towel rubbing his scalp was surprisingly pleasant, and Naruto was startled to find himself suddenly face to face with his father, who had apparently called his name more than once.
"Sorry. Nodded off I guess."
"Well, we'll see if we can get some soup or something to warm you up."
"M'not really hungry. I'll just sleep," he declared, hopping into his hammock.
"Use the bed--- Naruto, after training it's important to replenish your energy."
"Sleep'll do that."
"Food's important too, or you'll stay a runt forever."
"I will not!" countered Naruto indignantly, who knew it to be a fact. Not that he could tell anyone here.
"I'm not letting you go to bed without anything. You probably haven't eaten since lunch with your mother---"
Both blondes turned to find Shinju peeking in.
"Shinju! Is that food? You are a god-send and your timing is impeccable!" Arashi praised, stepping up to take the tray from her. "Mmmm, soup. And hot chocolate."
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Hey, Shinju, how was school?"
"It was fine, Naruto-sama," she replied with a smile. She hovered in the doorway for an instant, as if awaiting dismissal, then blinked and quietly left the room.
"I think she's getting better," Arashi commented as he set the tray down on the nightstand. "School's been good for her."
"Mmm, she doesn't blush as much now either. Hopefully her confidence'll keep growing."
His father regarded him for a long moment.
"Shinju's not the only one who keeps growing."
"M'making progress," Naruto shrugged.
"I know, I'm proud of you."
For a moment, the simple honesty of the statement dumbfounded him, and Naruto could only stare at his father in shock.
H-how many times has that ever been said to me? the fox-carrier thought in a daze, his throat constricting with emotion. Has anyone really...? I---
Something strange must have shown in his expression, because an instant later Arashi was at his side, gripping his shoulders worriedly.
"Naruto! What's wrong?"
"I... N-no, it's nothing."
"It's not nothing when it's obviously something---"
"No! It's really nothing. Never mind. Forget it, please dad?" Naruto pleaded, putting on a sheepish smile.
The Fourth stared at him for what seemed like eternity, and Naruto fought to keep his gaze. A light tremble worked its way up his shoulders and he bit his lower lip, tensing even more.
Is this... Tiger eyes?
"All right," his father finally said. For now, his tone promised. "At least have some soup then."
"Don't want any," Naruto said as he drew his knees to his chest, suddenly incredibly upset.
"Just a little bit. Here," Arashi said, picking up the bowl. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he motioned with the spoon. "Open wide."
Naruto stared. "What is that?" And please tell me he's not doing what I think he's doing...
"It's a bird. You like birds. See..." and the Fourth proceeded to make more chirping noises, while waving the mundane spoon around. "Use your imagination!"
He IS... Naruto groaned internally. "...It's not very aerodynamic."
"I'll have you know that all objects are aerodynamic. Some just fall faster than others."
"You don't seriously expect this to work."
"I fed you this way for two years, once we started weaning you off the bottle. Open up."
"Na-ru-to..." Arashi crooned. More whistling.
"...All right. I give up. Give it. I can feed myself. And stop that, it's embarrassing!"
"Ha! I won in the end!"
"You have no pride."
"Don't need it!" Arashi laughed.
Naruto sighed in amused exasperation. The man's presence was too comfortable, but it was kinda nice, he decided, to have someone who cared when you came home. For as long as he could remember, he'd train himself into the ground, then simply sleep outside where ever he happened to fall. Nobody particularly cared. It wasn't until his training with Jiraiya that someone occasionally came to fetch and stuff his sorry carcass in a futon for the night.
Pay attention, brat. Your idiot father is staring, Kyuubi warned.
Naruto almost inhaled his soup in surprise. You- Keeping his eyes on the soup, he growled at the Fox. You damned bastard, choke and die!
A sadistic snicker. After you.
"Um, dad? You can have the hot chocolate. It's weird with you just sitting there. Did you actually want to talk about something?"
"I just thought I'd check up on you," the Fourth replied, picking up the cup without protest. "See if you still had all your limbs attached and your head on straight. That sort of thing."
"Do I pass?" Naruto asked flatly. Boycotting the spoon, he drained the bowl, then made a slight face as the liquid burned down to his stomach.
Setting the bowl on the tray, Naruto ignored his father's exclamation and stretched out on the bed to stare at the patterned ceiling. "You don't have to worry about me."
"I'm your father."
The fox-host closed his eyes and set his jaw against a cynical grimace. Not for long. One day, I'll be gone. I won't have a father. He shivered, bone-achingly tired. I have to take care of myself. Blue eyes snapped open when he felt a blanket drape over him.
The Fourth was clearly worried.
Naruto felt like a heel.
"I'm sorry. I'm just tired and grumpy. M'gonna sleep."
Arashi brushed a hand through Naruto's bangs. "You've got less than two weeks before our match. I'm looking forward to it, okay?"
"M'kay." He's actually looking forward to it too...
S'funny though, Naruto thought, feeling comfortably drowsy as his father tucked him in.
"What is?" Arashi asked, and Naruto blinked blearily as he realized he'd spoken out loud.
"I didn't realize how cold I was..." he sighed, shuffling onto his side and holding the blanket up to his chin.
Arms wrapped around him, warm, and squeezed in a brief gesture that seemed to speak of desperation, before his father began to rhythmically rub his back in soothing motions.
"...Go to sleep, Naruto."
"Hmm?" Soft, and sad.
"I'm fine, Little Fox."
"C'n prank people f'you," he offered helpfully. "N'y-one y'don't like..."
Arashi laughed briefly. "No, thank you. I don't need that kind of chaos just yet."
"I c'n do it."
"I know. Go to sleep."
The boy grumbled unintelligibly, and half-buried his face in the pillow.
"...You did a pretty good job with the ANBU, actually. I think they're grudgingly impressed."
"Mmhm, just don't tell them I told you."
"But Kakashi doesn't appreciate being your favorite target. Play nice."
A snort and a sleepy mumble. Is it so wrong of me to take revenge on him for something he technically didn't do? A smile tugged at the boy's lips. It's not like... the one I know would fall for any of my really good pranks...
Silence soon crept in, undermined by Naruto's even breathing and the soft hum of some unidentifiable appliance. The fridge, perhaps? No, the door was closed. Too far, anyway--
Something large and dark landed outside the window, and Arashi had his hand on his holster before he recognised the white mask as Mouse. Duty called, apparently, as it always did--- No doubt his ANBU would have a few things to say about Naruto as well. More irregularities. More unexplained occurrences. Suspicions. Frustrations.
...And praise. Every now and then, a word of praise. Enough to give him hope.
He held up a hand in acknowledgement of the shadow's presence, then gestured up to the roof. Mouse tilted his head slightly and vanished.
Dropping his hand and reaching down to smooth Naruto's hair, Arashi closed his eyes, and wished...
Four weeks into his training, Naruto pranked the Fourth for the very first time.
Q: There are Twinkies? Since when?
A: Since now. (waves wand) I now declare the Twinkie(TM) a universal, trans-dimensional constant!
Q: How old is Naruto?
A: He's actually 17, but his alternate's body is 12... If you're asking about his mental age, then your guess is as good as mine. ;)
Q: What kind of prank did Naruto pull on the Fourth?
A: Reaper and I are still brainstorming... sort of. Maybe I'll just leave it up to your imagination. XP If only Arashi'd get a computer. Then I could replace his screensaver with a chibi-streaking-Arashi running across the screen, 'cause you know, he's the Yellow FLASH.
Ciao. See you next chapter!