Sykoe: Honestly, I don't know where all of these ideas come from, but I have to write them or they pester me.

Sometimes, I find them kind of cute, and subject people to them.

So here goes, enjoy my romanticky angsticky CAGED.

Chapter 1, Dancer

The pungent stench of alcohol permeated the air, overpowering the ever-present smell of urine in the Red Light District. From all parts of the world, soldiers and drunkards came to spend their money on gluttony and sins of the flesh inside the brothels and bars lining the dirty streets. Wasted poor littered the avenues, shouting, cursing, and it all disgusted me as I looked on from my vantage point.

My body ached with restlessness, and I shifted in the cage incarcerating me so as to ease the pain in my legs, daring not to lean on the bars of my prison for fear of tipping it over. The brass cage stood about four feet tall and only gave me room to kneel uncomfortably. Always, I was bolted into this oversized birdcage when my master and his servants traveled, transporting me from one city to the next, performing an exotic dance for hooting, barbaric men.

A slut is all I am and all I ever would be, my master would leer at me as his servants looked me up and down, perched in my cage, with desire.

Abruptly, the cart upon which my cage rested lurched forward and halted in front of a sleazy-looking brothel. Hauling my cage - with me inside - through the back door, my master, his servants, and I entered a lavishly decorated establishment. Expensively embroidered drapes lined the walls, while incense clouded the air and drugged both men and hookers alike.

But even the intense, penetrating scent of incense could not mask the reek of sweat and sex lingering in the air, and I brought a silken seeve to my nose.

Watching patiently through glittering, lavender eyes as the heavy padlock was unlatched and the creaking door restricting my freedom swung open, I was helped out of my cage.Shaking numbness out of my limbs, I approached the dimly torch-lit stage.

"Showtime." my master whispered into my ear, sneering. The skeezebag whose "generosity" allowed me to be a slave to mankind's craving desire than a slave to death's jaws. His "kindness" helped him adopt me as a good-as-dead orphan and harvest my "talent" for money. Sometimes I wonder if I'd rather have died.

Center stage was mine as drummers surrounding the spotlight began to pound out a seductive beat. At first, my hips swayed with the rythm, but soon I felt my whole body undulating in time with the drums.

Dancing freed my mind and body. Movements made me feel filthy and impure, but beautiful. I had so many eyes trained upon me. I could dignore their burning, wanting stares and let my body flow with the music and melt into the ecstasy. Escape this pain. This suffocating, tainting grime.

The world grew burry. Incense poisoned me with every movement and every breath; psychedelic colors blended and dripped into one another and lights flashed like fairies before my eyes. Dull, buzzing voices of men shouting catcalls became barely audible as my mind began to cloud.

I was high.

Nausea overtook my senses, and faintness slowed me. Ornamented robes slid off and bunched up around me. It sure was hot in here.

Rotten breakfast from yesterday rose to my mouth, but I swallowed it back down in time to finish my dance. Just as screams for more arose, I dashed outside and vomited.

My master and the brothel owner heeded the livid crowd and chased after me.

"Great." my burly master kicked me in my right leg as I bent down to spit bits of food and acid. "She's drunk, throwing up all over this expensive shit I got her for her little performances."

"What a lightweight; that was quick." the brothel owner's look of surprised disgust turned to one of amusement. "Usually takes 'em ten minutes just to get a buzz."

"Yeah, bitch never drinks. Never sniffs anything, either." my master spat. "'Sides, this wench's been sick. Summat wrong."

"Dontcha ever get 'er drunk? Y'know," the owner's voice dropped, "they always say the whores work better when they've a little summat to drink."

"This one's no whore." my master remarked, and I mistook this as a defense. "Not yet. Found the wench as an orphan, had so much kindness-" both men snickered, "-took her in. Her "talent" pays me back, know what I mean?"

At this, they both guffawed. Vulgar.

Lost in my contempt for all men, I was jerked out of my thoughts by a loud crash, and a blur of yellow. Having not yet fully regained my senses, my fuzzy vision could only register a fast-approaching figure about a foot taller than me. The figure slowly began to take shape, and the form of a boy was dully outline against crimson lights - a thief.

"STOP HIM!" several gruff voices, shouting furiously, and I heard more running and crashing sounds, and harsh breaths.

Before I knew it, the thief's hands roughly grasped my bony, narrow shoulders, and held me so tight he picked me up to my tippy-toes.

"Shoot at me," his voice cracked, fearful, behind me, "and kill her!"

The several armed men -I now knew they were police- chasing the blond thief stopped in their tracks and contemplated what to do. One of the slow ones just catching up from being so heavy, still running, threw a knife. He must not have seen me.

The knife grazed my shoulder. Okay shot.

"Shit." the pick-pocket behind me cursed under his breath and released me. Running into an alley, he disappeared.

Shooken out of their amazed stupor, my master and the brothel owner reached over in my direction. The world spun around me, swallowing their hands and words, but I forced myself to go forward. Infuriated shouts ensued.

Pushing through a cloud of dizziness, I ran into the dark alley, surveyed upwards until I spotted the thief climbing upon some rafters 12 feet off of the ground, clinging like a little monkey.

I giggled drunkenly, hiccuping. How funny.

Hearing rackety noises behind me, I shouted up to the thief.

"Wait!" my voice came strained and raspy. I could barely recognize it at all, as I was always scolded for using it, thus never did. Women should be seen, not heard.

The monkey-like pick-pocket cursed, glancing at the guards approaching rapidly. A moment's hesitation... and he lowered himself down reluctantly, almost shyly. Hanging from a ledge just beyond my reach, he outstretched his arm for me. His dirty hand clasped my bony wrist and tugged upwards, helping me scramble up the walls. I shot a quick glance behind me. Those police officers were tall, but big around the middle. Slower than a couple of teenagers, especially for my ape-ish savior.

I wasn't exactly born a spider monkey, as this little thief apparently was. Years of being locked up had taken their toll, and my body was dangerously out of shape. I was starved from day to day. The hygiene of the conditions I'd been kept in was grody. Only the second roof we'd jumped, and my chest was heaving; my breath was as harsh as the policemen's pursuing us.

The incense's effects slowed me down as well, tripping me over invisible bumps and corners. My sluggishness exasperating the both of us, the thief's hand squeezed my wrist painfully.

Every so often I felt a hand brush my leg or back. Those frickin officers must be dead-set on killing us. Fear and adrenaline pushed me forward.

"Almost there." the thief's voice reached my ears, pleasant among the angry shouts of our predators.

We reached the edge of a roof. What now?!

Letting go of my wrist, I felt his hand close around mine.

"Do you trust me?" his voice was hopeful, laced with determination.

"What..." my mind screamed. Would I die if I did?

"Do you trust me?' his words became urgent, pleading.

"Yes." No.

Another policeman's hand latched onto my collar, pulling me back by my simple robe.

Then, I felt the wind whip my hair and face and the ground gave way beneath me, an arm around me, and the hand latched onto my collar was gone.

Glancing over my shoulder, I saw the officers stop dead in their tracks at the edge of the roof and curse the gods. I let out a heavy sigh of relief, but immediately sucked it back in a gasp.

We were flying!

The streets whizzed beneath and behind us in a blur of crimson luminescence, as this boy held me and swung down a rope, clinging to a Red Light. Passing bright streets and dark alleys, we soared, gaining speed until he stopped in front of a lonely looking alley.

Letting go of the light, the blond thief jumped down gracefully and landed on all fours, like a kitty, while I landed on my stomach and got the wind knocked out of me, like an idiot.

Gasping, my breaths came shallow and rapid. The light-haired boy helped me up and brushed some dirt off my robes. Deep, azure eyes searched my face with some strange expression, different than the perverted stares I was used to. It was like he was searching me, looking into me and trying to read my intentions.

He must have decided I was harmless, for he lead me deep into the shadows. Amazed, I didn't know how he could tell all of these alleys apart. I would get lost on the rooftops alone, without him. Then again, not like I would have use for directions. Where would I ever go.

At the end of the dark alley stood a seemingly abandoned building. Upon entering, I realized it was inhabited by poor families, hookers upon drunkards, homeless. Society's rejects.

The boy led me past all of these bodies with indifference, as if this was an every day sight for him. I wasn't really bothered, as I was used to this kind of scene as well. Didn't make it any better, didn't make it any worse.

Walking to the end of the hallway, he checked to make sure I was close behind him and began his ascent of a shadowed stairway. Reaching the top of the surprisingly short set, it was too dark for me to make out anything. He, having memorized the place already (I bet) stepped ahead of me and opened a creaking door.

More stairs. Screaming in pain, my leg muscles were desperate for rest. Breathing was a hassle, and I was ashamed of my own weakness as my mind and body begged and pleaded for a break. But I had to keep up or I would become lost in this pitch, swallowed by some toothy monster. Or a man.

At long last, he stopped. I bumped into him a tiny bit, just enough for me to feel the scratchiness of his raggedy shirt brush against my face.

Having finally adjusted my eyes to the darkness a bit, I was able to discern his arm moving upwards, toward a doorknob. Dear Lord, I braced myself for another set of stairs, stairs, stairs...

But to my relief, behind the door sat a musty, moth-ball smelling room covered in rugs and rags. Any walls were swallowed by the thick, old and falling-apart carpets draped over everything. It reminded me of the brothel, though nowhere near as fancy.

Slowly, I took smalls steps to the middle of the room, turning in a circle and observing everything around me. The blond thief just watched me dully, like a puppy exploring her new little environment.

Paying close attention to detail, I noticed an old rug worn with age. Subdued light escaped from the rips in the edges. Patched up and glowing, it stood out against all of the other blankets. I wondered, what could be behind it that illuminated it so?

As if reading my thoughts, the blond thief paced quickly to the other end of the room, where the rug hung docilely. With one graceful movement of his arm the rug was swept back, revealing beauty like I had never seen.

The entire city stood before me, naked and exposed to whoever stood in this simple room. From this gorgeous haven, I could see the city as I was never able to, exploring places I had never been. A woman hanging her clothes. A young boy running. Stray dogs poking their noses in trash cans and where they shouldn't.

Beyond that, I surveyed the forests around the city, mysterious and ready to gobble up any fools who ventured in. Even further still, stood the Red Light District, glaring scarlet next to the brown city and emerald forest. Shivers made their way down my spine, reminding me of what I had escaped and what would happen if I went back. Instinctively, I averted my eyes, instead turning my pale orbs to the person who was revealing this beautiful secret to me.

His gaze was fixed, pensive, on the large town below us. Sitting on the windowsill, his left leg rested on the edge, knee bent, while his left elbow was propped on that knee. Right leg resting in this muffled room, it was the only thing anchoring him from falling over. Reaching a tanned hand into his once-white (now brown, dirty, greasy) shirt, he produced a loaf of bread. Breaking it in half and offering me a piece, his darting gaze paused briefly on my face.

Not quite used to such heights, I stayed cautiously behind the windowsill where I wouldn't die and tentatively leaned against it, sitting gingerly so as not to fall to a bloody demise. Reaching out cautiously and delicately grabbing a piece of the bread, I leaned back against the side of the square window and sank my teeth into the loaf.

Akward silence ensued.

"So," we both began.

"Ah-" I paused, embarrassed, and felt warmth rush to my cheeks.

"You first." he took a bite of his bread. I was trapped.

"Well.." I fished for the right words to form my thoughts into language, "Um, th-thank you... for the bread. And for showing me this."

Now our bodies faced eachother, allowing me a clear view of his face, slightly turned downwards and away from me. Those deep, azure eyes of his were stunning against the sun-browned shade of his face. Sandy blond hair fell in tousled bunches around his head. It was probably dirty, but I couldn't tell from here, and it was cute; all messy around his three-year-old type cheeks stuffed with bread.

My heart and stomach fluttered. I must have been sicker than I thought.

Turning his attention to the city, he began his introduction. "My name... my only name I can remember being called, is Naruto. I'm a... thief, I guess."

"Um, Hinata, I... I'm..." I blushed. What could I say?

"Don't. I know what you are."

"I'm not a whore, if that's what you're thinking." my shy demeanor quickly turned defensive. The one non-material treasure I held most dear; my virginity. Purity. Virtue. Call it what you may, that was what I was most grateful for. My master had kept me like this for value. Girls like me -fresh, unused and unexperienced- sold for fortunes. I knew the day would come when it would be all gone.

"Oh." he reddened with a blood flow to compete with mine, and turned his attention to the city.

Guilt immediately flooded my being, searching desperately for something to excuse my behavior. So I was grateful when he filled the void of tension with words. "Look," he stretched his arm out of the windowsill, a tiny, insignificant human limb pointing with such powerful purpose, "Do you see?"

What hadn't I seen? What was he pointing at?

"The castle. There, you see?" I obeyed. Ornate turrets towered over the pathetic little world below. Standing proudly atop a hill overshadowing even the godlike forest, townspeople could probably see it from their second floor windows. "Someday, I want to go there. Even if the best I can do is probably be a servant... I always think...

I've always thought life wouldn't be such a pain in the ass if I had been born royalty. I mean, all my life it's been "riff raff, thief, pick-pocket", you name it. I can't really remember my childhood so well, but for as long as I know I've wished for something that can make life worthwile. That castle is one of the last things I see before I go to sleep."

His words hit me like a storm, brought on by years of bottled emotions and broken dreams. I wallowed in his intense determination, being crushed and smothered by a society that pushes back the poor, seeing them only as sources of labor, or mouths to feed. I guess we had that in common; no family, no friends, no life. He knew what it was like to fend for himself, but then again I knew what it was like to have your every freedom and privelege stolen away. We were even?

Slumping into a more relaxed posiont, I sighed. We all have our impossible dreams. For the first time in my life, I wondered what it was like to be inside that castle, just beyond my reach. Maybe perform.

Then again, this Naruto's life wasn't exactly so bad.

Savoring, I took a big bite of the bread and chewed the mouthful slowly.


Go Aladdin! This was actually a daydream during a test, but... it pretty much IS Aladdin during this first chapter. Hope it doesn't bother people.

Notes: I know a brothel is a whorehouse, but I don't really know what they look like, exactly how they work... I try my best. Also, I don't EXACTLY know the workings of a Red Light District... but can we pretend I do? Finally, while everything here is kind of Japanese-traditiony, the castle is a bit Reinassance/Middle Ages style. So... don't hate me?

Please... review! Need criticism... praise... comments...