So here's the re-edited (VERY re-edited) version of Azure Crimson, which I have just recently finished and proof read. If you want to BETA this, then just ask, please.
I put this as the beginning of where the story begins, because I originally dove into the plot where Naruto is already grown up, and infiltrates the Chuunin Exams. So instead, I'm starting from the VERY beginning, where he's just getting adopted.
He had always known the world was a bad place.
The streets had long shadows that cast over the deserted alleyways. People hushed away from him as discreetly as possible, women hugging their children tighter, the strongest men backed into the walls. Shutters snapped loudly as the hollowed streets became quiet with only hushed whispers. The market place had become deserted in little to no time, and children kicking cans or even a soccer ball had stopped to cower in the shade of the bricked buildings. The city had lost the movement it was always known for.
Sometimes, he even wondered, if the dead would cower in his presence.
He knew the world was bad, but he didn't know why it was bad to him.
All he had to do was kick a pebble and the people would flinch. Sometimes he wondered who they were afraid of, him or the person behind him. But when he felt as if there was someone there, he'd turn around and be greeted by his own shadow, peering back at him in dark eddies. Even when it was sunny, the world was always so dark.
"Please don't worry, Naruto-kun." He heard a warm voice tell him. "I promise, this will never happen again."
He remembered looking up at that, his bright blue and trusting eyes looking up happily at the old man's wrinkling face. He had tried to hold him, but his arms were tied by tubes, his feet were bandaged so heavily that he couldn't see his skin anymore. His happiness faded into confusion, looking at his legs and body.
"It's nothing to worry about, unless…" The old man's eyes became stern. "Do you remember anything?"
Naruto shook his head, slowly, as if thinking, digging for what he was missing.
The man smiled. "Then that's okay. Everything will be all better now."
"Really?" He asked, hopeful.
"Yes, there's a very, very nice man who would like to take care of you. He's very kind, and he lives on a pretty farm with lots of cows and flowers for you to play with."
Naruto's eyes lit up. "Really? Really? When can I see him?"
The Hokage had a wide smile, brimming on his face. "Why, he's right here! You can come in, Tachibana-san."
A man, brimmed with a rickety straw hat, and farmer's clothes and a nice smile opened the door, clattering into the room with his tattered sandals. Naruto blinked. He looked so nice, and kind, so much more than most people he had seen ever looked. The Sandaime greeted the happy farmer pleasantly, shaking his hand and chatting with idle chitchat next to Naruto's bed. Neither two looked at him, already immersed in amazingly pleasant conversation, the farmer tipping his hat to reveal, happy, happy eyes. The man…he was just so happy.
And the Sandaime didn't seem to notice, that this man was utterly too pleasant.
Naruto did, but his mind didn't register that this could ever be a bad thing, and a large smile made its way onto his face.
"Now Naruto-kun, this is Tachibana-san, a very nice farmer from Suna." Sarutobi explained easily, gesturing to the kind farmer, who smiled.
"Glad to meet you."
Naruto nodded his head vigorously. "Yeah!"
"Do you like him?" The Sandaime asked, watching carefully for the blonde's reaction.
"Of course!" Naruto smiled, so big that it stretched to his ears. "…but…who are you again?"
"Naruto," The Sandaime lowered his voice. "This man is going to adopt you."
There was a silence, as, carefully, Naruto surveyed what that meant in his young mind. Adoption meant…that this man wanted him. That this man liked him, this pleasant farmer actually liked him, when no one ever seemed to like him despite his best efforts. It was almost immediate that after the connection was made did Naruto realize what could happen. The possibilities that blossomed as he looked at this man. He was getting a chance to start over.
"Naruto?" The Sandaime was worried. "Is that okay with you?"
"Yes!" Naruto said quickly, bounding forward and almost pulling the IV chord out.
The farmer chuckled. "Don't worry sunny, we've got a long road ahead of us, no need to get hasty. A long road…"
Neither of the other two in the man's presence noticed the after thought, both too happy. The Sandaime, because Naruto would be free of the burdens here in Konoha, but he could still keep in touch. Naruto, because he was getting a free retry, to make sure that this time no one would hate him as they did now. But the boy hadn't realized that this could be a mistake, actually, neither the Sandaime nor Naruto really thought of anything other then the tunnel vision they were seeing through.
The only one who had a decent look into the future was the good old farmer, standing so close that the smile on his lips could have been seen.
With one last look over his backpack, Naruto sped away from the towering concrete slabs that faced upwards into the azure sky, his little feet tumbling in front of him to get closer to the nice farmer. He didn't catch the pleased looks of the Chuunin on guard duty as he left the city for good. In fact, he had hardly noticed the cheering as he left either, a small roar in the happiness that rung in his ears like bells. He didn't mind leaving actually, he didn't mind change.
He didn't say anything to the farmer, as he took long strides with his legs, and Naruto had to jog to keep up most of the time. There was still a cheery atmosphere around the man, but as the walls of Konoha became nothing more than specks in the distance of the dense forests they crossed through, even that began to dissipate. The man was no longer smiling either; in fact, he had a hard look that gazed into the thick forest, flickering through the foliage, like a cold predator.
Finally Naruto gathered what little courage he had, to ask a question. "Tachibana-san? Is…something wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong Naruto-kun, everything's going according to plan."
Naruto inched away at the voice; it wasn't the farmer's voice at all.
But still, Naruto continued, even though it was strange that the farmer's voice had suddenly went a few octaves lower that it's pitch before. Chords in his heart chimed in worry, blistering in his chest, but he ignored them. He chanted in his head that nothing was wrong, that everything was fine. It was what he did in all terrible situations, and even though most never turned out fine he did it anyways.
However, it wasn't until the farmer pulled on his cheeks like a neurotic, the skin peeling at his nails, that Naruto became scared.
The skin fluttered to the floor like bits of plastic, revealing tan skin, and multiple piercings decorating the bridge of the man's nose. He kept the farmer's hat on, but he had reached into his bag and clothed himself with a black cloak, the pattern of blood red clouds decorating the outline. Naruto was too frightened, backed into a tree, to run away, his knees shaking so bad he couldn't control it.
And then, he looked into the farmers eyes, finding himself dizzy in the thousands of pupils the man seemed to possess.
"Get up." The man through a black cloak at Naruto. "We have much ground to cover."
Before Naruto could finish his sentence, he was sent flying through the trees, tucked snugly under the man's arms. He was barely even able to see properly, his head swirling around in a mix of browns, and greens. Nothing was making sense anymore; the once nice farmer had suddenly changed. Literally. In a matter of seconds. He was nestled into black fabric, barely able to see what was happening, faintly realizing they were flying through trees.
But that was impossible. Farmers couldn't fly through trees; Naruto didn't even think people could fly in trees. That was so farfetched to the five year-old, he had never heard of it.
Unless…could those ninja people fly?
Whatever kind of ninja that was carrying him and had jumped rather high, straight into the sky, and Naruto caught a glimpse of Konoha's high concrete walls, and he felt his heart shatter into his chest. It shattered into his shoulders; and his neck, he felt it breaking, and it hurt. An indescribable hurt that he had never felt before. Not the kind that always happened when he stepped outside of his apartment and was hit by something, but another hurt entirely. Something so bad he actually felt tears prick at his eyes.
It felt like he was leaving something very important behind, and that he wasn't going to get it back.
He sniffed a little, watching the walls from between rippling pieces of black cloak. He didn't want to leave anymore, he didn't. He wanted to be home, sleeping, feeling the sun touch his cheeks, to be with the old man on the top of the monument, making faces with the stars. He felt like whatever he had thought was happy was never going to come again. That something was being torn from him.
"No…no…" He whispered through tears. "I don't want to leave!"
"Quiet down. Someone's going to hear you if you keep screaming like that."
He supposed that that was the famer (or what once was the famer) that was telling him to stop wailing, and as he struggled, the hold tightened to an almost choking vice-like grip. It hurt painfully, being crushed into someone's side by a strong arm, so he stopped. His wails had turned to muffled sobs, and he closed his eyes.
He didn't know where they were going anymore.
With one last look at the quickly disappearing gates, he closed his eyes, tears flooding down his cheeks.
Naruto didn't know it yet, but they had arrived at the destination which would come to him to be known as 'Home'. Actually, it was a place in the depth of Amegakure, and it looked more like an enormous mountain shrouded in mist then anything. As he stumbled to his feet as the man simply dropped him, he tried to look to the sky, but all he was were dense gray clouds that looked close enough that he could touch them. The ground above him was hard, and jutted out in large splitting rocks.
Mesmerized, he stared agape at the sheer height of the mountain. He had never seen anything like it back in the orphanage.
"Hurry up." The gruff voice of the person he would come to know as Leader, startled him.
He was already walking up the winding stair case that circled the edge of the rocky mountain, with steady long paces. Naruto had to scramble up to catch up to him. He had never been that exposed to heights, as he was now. Climbing up and up into the taller regions of the mountain, looking down was no longer an option, only making him dizzy beyond repair. Seeing where he was going was hard with all the mist, so he constantly switched his eyes from making sure he didn't fall off the narrow cliff and seeing if he was going in the right direction.
He didn't know if he should say anything, it seemed as if the man had a scary aura around him, something Naruto couldn't put into words.
Naruto wasn't looking, watching the fog around them dissipate as if it was fake (which it was) and he bumped into the man in front of him, who had stopped to do something. He nearly fell of the narrow cliff, trying to regain his balance. Leader was apparently doing something, what, he didn't know; it just looked like he was pressing his hands against the rock. What a strange guy, Naruto would have mused to himself if he wasn't so scared.
The rock slid open with a screech, and Naruto resisted the urge to jump back, he'd fall a few thousand heights if he did. Gulping, he followed in suit as Pein walked into the dark corridor. He couldn't see a thing, grasping the wall for support and direction, trying to use his hearing to follow the man in front of him. As Naruto turned around to watch the rock door slide back into place, he felt as if that would be the last time he would ever see the light of day, especially in this place.
Resisting the urge to cry in fear, he opened his mouth. "……. Tachibana-san? Where are we-
Something told him that the man didn't like children. That was odd, because apparently he adopted him. But, Naruto thought silently to himself, maybe he didn't mean to adopt him at all, or maybe this entire thing could be something that wasn't true-just a big mix up. There were tons of possibilities of how this could go wrong, and there were also a lot of other things that could be happening.
It didn't have to be the worst possible solution he could think of in his five-year old mind…right?
As Pein turned a sharp corner into a dimly lit room, filled with more people, Naruto started to believe that he might meet his end here, watching the shadowed face he could see in the candle light.
"Leader-sama," A voice interrupted the silence. "Is that him?"
"Yes." The 'farmer' had replied-Naruto was beginning to realize he was not a famer. "This is the Kyuubi no Kitsune."
Naruto was confused. They were talking about him; it didn't take an idiot to notice. But that wasn't his name. He was Uzumaki Naruto, he might not know his heritage, his parent, his family, or anything else about himself, but he at least knew his name. And that wasn't it.
"My name's Naruto." He butted in before he could think of the consequences. "Not Kyuubi…whatever that is."
The dusty red heard raised his brow. "Oh? Naruto is it?"
He wasn't sure if the man was mocking him or not, but he tried not to cry, fists clenched and bottom lip quivering.
"This is the Kyuubi no Kitsune?" An incredulous female voice came.
"He doesn't look strong."
"No," Pein agreed. "He does not. At least, not yet."
Naruto wasn't sure what the man was talking about, staring confusedly between the members standing around him, some leaning against the wall, others hovering over him to get a better look at his face. He frowned, taking a step back, only to realize he had hit the cold hard stone of the wall. The only female of the group, a dull look in her eyes crouched down to his height.
"Come on. There's much to do." She held out her hand, which he took tentatively. She seemed nice.
Naruto didn't think she was scary, until he looked at her hand and realized it was made out of paper. Flinching, he pulled his hand away, staring at her hand as if it was to explode. She blinked, as if she didn't understand, before nodding in understanding of what he was so afraid of.
Instead, she turned around, motioning slowly for him to follow her.
He did, albeit he was rather unwilling, but he also didn't want to sit there under the scrutiny of the other Akatsuki members. So he followed her slowly through the hallways, unsure of where they were actually going, but running away was a stupid idea. He couldn't escape. He didn't know how, he was too weak to stand up to these people, and as badly as he wanted to become a ninja-he wasn't. Resistance was futile, as it is usually said.
He wanted to ask he who she was, and what they were going to do to him. Would that man really go through all the trouble to kidnap him if he was worthless? Well, he thought to himself, he has no parents, he's got no one who cares, and he's a nobody. What would they want with him? He's got nothing to his name. Yet these people seem so expectant of him, as if he's supposed to be some amazing person.
"Um…" His voice came out like a whisper. "Miss, what am I here for?"
"You don't know?" Her voice held nothing.
He shook his head tentatively. "No…"
"You are the Kyuubi no Kitsune."
"I'm the what?" He ran up to catch up to her, trying to look at her face. "What is that?"
"A demon." She answered simply.
He stopped walking. So what all those villagers had said were true. He was really a demon; this cerulean haired lady that he didn't know had confirmed it for him. He was this, Kyuubi no Kitsune, or whatever this was called. And the little schooling he received in the orphanage had already taught him that demons were terrible things, scorned and should be hated. Konan went on ahead, though he was yet to find that was her name, until she stopped too.
He resisted the urge to cry. He couldn't be weak anymore. He didn't know where he was, he had no one, and to top it off, all the people here look at him as if they want to eat him, scrutinizing glares and all. He'd have to stand up for himself.
Naruto snapped from his thoughts. What an odd word. "What does that mean?"
"It means a human who has a demon inside of them; a human sacrifice." Konan explained in her blank voice.
"I'm one of those?"
He smiled a little. That meant he wasn't really a demon right? Just a human sacrifice for one. Which didn't seem as bad as being a real demon. As his thoughts circled around, he realized that however this woman was, had said that to make him feel better. Looking up, he met her blank eyes. Maybe she wasn't so bad, but he didn't know about the others who were still probably in the large room he just left.
"Thank you." He whispered.
For once, she seemed a bit surprised. "I am just stating what is true."
He smiled, even though she didn't seem to care for his well-being, he thought that she might. So, they walked into his room, or, what would come to be his room. She pulled clothes out from a small wooden drawer, and he began to look around the room.
It was blank, certainly a little more interesting than the hovel that they made him sit in with the other orphans, but it was still quaint. One window, that saw into a backdrop of hazy mountains and a misty ashen sky. A bed, a simple four-post that was different from his normal futon. It must be a western culture thing. It had clean sheets too, something he didn't often see. Nothing else though, just a bathroom that connected, it was relatively clean.
"Here." She placed one of those cloud cloaks on his bed with a fishnet shirt and shinobi pants. "You can wear these."
"Oh…okay." He picked up the cloud cloak to examine it, wondering why they all wore them.
He had hardly realized that Konan was already out the door of his new room and into the dark corridor.
"Someone will wake you up tomorrow." She called over her shoulder. "But until then, please refrain from leaving the room."
He nodded helplessly, still clutching the cloak he was given to his chest, until Konan disappeared down the dark abyss of the hallway. There wasn't any light at all, just the small flittering sunlight that sometime appeared from his window, but nothing else. It was so dark; he wondered how they survive in there.
Naruto spent most of the evening doing nothing.
He sat in silence, tried counting, playing imaginary games, scavenging around his room, he flicked a bug, and he tried looking out the window. Hell, he tried jumping out the window, but it seemed that his room was literally on the edge of a mountain's cliff, nothing but gray clouds could be seen when he looked down. When he looked up, he could see the bright and beautiful delphinium blue sky through the clouds, and a large mountain in the background, snow at its tip.
It was really beautiful; he could spend his life looking out that window and never get bored.
Eventually though, even his five year-old demon chakra induced body had to get tired. Especially after all he went through today. Earlier this morning, he was leaving Konoha, thinking he was traveling a long way to Suna, and then suddenly he was flying through the trees like he was going to Stone Country. And then, he landed here, frightened beyond his wits by the heights of the mountain he just scaled, and walking through what seemed to be thousands of corridors.
And then, he fell asleep, eyes closing sleepily, waiting for what would come tomorrow.
So that's how it begins…I guess. No OC anymore, that was just a pain to right. I'm actually glad I restarted this, because now I'm not guessing for names of Pein and Konan…I think I named her Ebi :D
But whatever…just review!