Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, obviously. If I did, I think we all know what sasunaru would have been doing very early on…
Summary: After six centuries, Uchiha Sasuke finds himself surrounded with friends, but without the one person he needs; until he finds sixteen year old Uzumaki Naruto. But things with this boy are never what they really appear. SasuNaru
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APiece of History
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October was one of those months that could be either exciting or annoying. For children, it was exciting: the forever-looming prospect of October's seasonal holiday, Halloween, drove them to new heights of excitement; for any adult within the vicinity of a child, Halloween reigned as one of the more annoying holidays.
Christmas was probably the worst.
Uzumaki Naruto, a young man of sixteen years, his hair naturally sun-blond and spiked, his eyes a deep, pure blue, both loved and hated October. He loved the warm-but-cool weather, the sometimes-light-sometimes-severe rain, the colorful trees, and the general feel of the month. And more than anything, he lovedHalloween; the costume parties his friends always held, and the long nights of music, drinks, and general young-adult conversation, jokes and laughter.
He hated only one thing about October: the Trick-or-Treaters that wandered up to door after door, yelling out the common 'password' for candy. He had been stuck with candy duty at a party once or twice in the last couple of years, and after the last, he'd sworn to Sakura that he would not do it ever again.
He sighed heavily into a telephone receiver.
"For the last time, Sakura– no. You know I hate candy duty!"
He knew she was pouting.
"Get Kiba to do it." Naruto grinned at the thought of their dog-loving friend camping out at Sakura's door with the candy bowl.
"I already tried Kiba," his pink-haired friend sighed. "He laughed."
Sudden inspiration struck as the blond flipped through his digital photo album, "How about Lee? You know he would do anything for you."
Sakura huffed with annoyance, but Naruto knew for a fact that a soft, flattered flush would be covering her cheeks.
"Alright, I'll ask him."
Naruto grinned, "Don't forget to flirt."
A disgusted sound preceded the dial tone. The blond hit the small off button on his black, cordless phone and tossed it onto his bed. The last two years, he had been a sucker for his pink-haired friend; this time, it had been easy to refuse. Naruto looked back to his laptop.
"Oh shit," he muttered as the time caught his attention. If he didn't leave immediately, he would be late to meet someone incredibly important – his father, Iruka.
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The little café that Iruka loved was the little café that Iruka owned. The retired schoolteacher had found that, while teaching was a noble occupation, it did not well support a growing young boy – especially when said young boy ate as much as Naruto did; five to seven servings three or more times a day. Thus, Iruka had retired from schooling, after thoroughly researching what it would take to own and run his own little place.
It had been easier than he'd expected, once Kakashi had moved in with them. The silver-haired man was an ex-coworker from the high school, and Iruka's secret lover of several years.
"Shouldn't you be grading papers or something?" Iruka asked, a hint of annoyance coloring his tone.
Kakashi flipped a page in his book, "All done."
The small, triple silver bells attached to the café's entrance jingled. Iruka's glaring gaze snapped to the door, and he frowned. His blond bundle of trouble doubled over, panting, and gave the brunet a wide grin.
"You're late," Iruka stated flatly.
Naruto laughed nervously, "Uh, yeah… sorry! Sakura called about Halloween."
"Are you on candy duty again this year?" Kakashi smirked through the cloth mask he always wore over the lower half of his face; his left eye had been covered by a black eye patch for as long as Naruto had known the man – he sometimes thought of him as a pirate. A very perverted pirate; it actually fit the occupation – and the man – perfectly.
"Hell no," Naruto grinned, and Iruka frowned deeper.
"Language, young man." Iruka sighed as his adopted son waved him off with his usual 'yeah, yeah.' "Get an apron on and help me out, Naruto. We're short one employee, today."
The blond did as asked without any complaint. Naruto often enjoyed helping Iruka out at the café, no matter how odd it was for the friends that knew him well as a lazy, accident-prone, ramen-loving pig.
Kakashi ignored the messenger bag that was tossed into his booth, right beside him, and turned another page in his book.
Iruka had to resist the urge to smack the often-irritating man upside his head.
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Near noon, the silver-belled doors jingled with the arrival of more customers. Naruto reflexively looked up and called out his customary greeting. A grin broke out across his face when he recognized the grinning brunet and his three flanks.
"Kiba! Hey guys."
The foursome fell into their usual booth and waited for the blond to finish at another table. When their friend was freed, he bounded over to them.
"The usual?" he asked, whipping out his pen and notepad.
"Yep," Kiba, the tall brunet with odd red tattoos on both cheeks, grinned.
Naruto marked it down and turned expectantly to the next.
The small, dark-haired girl reflexively flushed. "M-my usual as well, p-please, Naruto," she stuttered.
The blond grinned, writing on his notepad, "No problem, Hinata! How about you, Shika?"
The forever lackluster teen slightly shrugged, "Tea."
"Same!" Naruto's pink-haired friend, Sakura, beamed after.
Naruto nodded, taking down each request. "Got it," he grinned. "I'll be back with those in a minute," and he bounded away from the table. Before he could make it back to the counter, another table had flagged him over.
Kiba sat back, lounging with arms behind his head. "Poor Naruto," but he said it with a grin that did not suggest he meant his words.
Sakura smacked his side. "You should offer to help Iruka-sensei," she chided. Even though Iruka hadn't been a teacher in nearly ten years, all of his ex-students still referred to him as such.
Kiba made a face and slight gagging noises in response. A loud ring suddenly echoed through the café, almost simultaneously followed by shattering dishes and a loud curse.
Naruto had dropped a set of plates next to their table.
"LANGUAGE, NARUTO!" boomed from behind the counter, where Iruka glared menacingly.
The blond flinched, quietly apologizing. The ringing grew a little louder at the groups table.
"Here," Kakashi-sensei spawned seemingly out of nowhere, a dustpan and brush in one hand, Naruto's cell phone in the other. "I'll take care of this; it looks like your boss is calling."
Naruto apologized to his friends, turning politely away from them as he answered.
Kakashi-sensei quickly had the mess mopped up and was on his way to the kitchen before the call was finished.
Naruto hung up with a sigh. He turned back to his friends, giving them a cheerful smile. "Sorry guys, duty calls."
The group waved him off with grins and calls of good luck. "Man," Kiba commented as they watched the blond discard his apron, grab his bag, and rush from the café. "Naru really does have it rough."
"Why does he have two jobs?" Hinata quietly wondered.
"He doesn't," Sakura replied. "Naruto works for that magazine part-time because of school, but Iruka only sometimes needs his help. A lot of the time, Naruto just helps because he wants to."
Kakashi delivered their drinks silently and walked off to another table. The group blinked after him.
"So how about Kakashi-sensei?"
Sakura grinned malevolently, "He's whipped."
Their tall, reliable and silent teacher stumbled right then, dropping a plate; it shattered on the tiled floor.
It was almost like he had heard her.
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The blond jogged down busy streets as quickly as he could. Being a Saturday, and his day off, he hadn't expected his boss to call with an assignment. So, as any teen would do, Naruto had left his equipment at home.
He ran up the steps to his securely locked front door, fishing in his pockets for the key.
Naruto lived in a moderate two-story house with his adopted father, Iruka, and sensei, Kakashi. They had lived in that house for as long as he could remember; it was an inheritance of sorts from Iruka's parents'.
Their home matched the neighborhood in its off-white hue and red roofing, with matching red shutters. Inside was rather homey and light. Iruka cleaned the place often, like an old maid. The twenty-seven-year-old man was rather mother-henish to the blond and the home.
For such a bright young man, Naruto's room was an extreme opposite. To Iruka's chagrin, the walls had been painted black soon after they moved in. The curtains at his window and the duvet cover at his bed were a deep red – some of the only color in the room. His computer – a high-grade laptop designed for graphic media – the desk, chairs, dresser, end tables, and bookshelves were all black. Even his lamps held no color.
When Naruto started photography, the bare black walls became the perfect background. Framed pictures – both color and black-and-white – lined the walls artistically.
His favorite photograph resided, large and centered on the wall across from his bed. The grand piece of work was edited to be black-and-white with only a single, brilliant hint of color – his eyes. It was a self-portrait photograph of the blond, with one of the most devastating looks about him. At the time, Naruto hadn't realized that his image, though smiling, was reflecting the emotions his thoughts evoked.
It was one of a series of many self-portraits he took. Naruto had chosen that one for his project because it was the only one seemed real.
Naruto kept his photography equipment in the top drawer of his desk, so when he entered his room, he went straight for it. Within moments, his photography bag was loaded and ready to go, slung over his shoulder.
He left through the garage with his bike, hopping onto it as he reached the sidewalk.
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By two-o'clock, Naruto found the small dirt road that would lead to his assigned destination. The path was wide enough for a small moving truck and covered in foliage. The mansion he was to photograph lay in a portion of the forest just outside of Konoha city limits.
It was all private property.
The thick trees made the sky seem darker and the breeze cooler. Naruto shivered through his jacket, glancing around the path. He passed the entrance to a cemetery, and skidded to a stop. He backed his bike up, staring past the open archway into a large, foggy and tree-riddled area with hundreds of cement tombstones and God-only-knew what else.
On one hand, a warning chill slithered down his spine; and on the other hand, the photographer in him brimmed with excitement. He only ever saw cemeteries like that one in horror movies.
Naruto propped his bike against the archway and went in.
He wandered well past the entrance before stopping. A tombstone served as a quick table for the blond as he set his bag down to pull out his camera. He slung the bag over his shoulder, the camera strap around is neck. Naruto snapped a few images of the entrance, several feet away, and the area around him before he continued further in. Many names were among the headstones, but the most prominent surname that he could find sparked his memory.
He knew that name from somewhere. Perhaps his history books? It seemed like a famous name. Naruto shrugged it off, letting the camera shutter go crazy to capture many of the tombstones – and names.
He hadn't noticed the sky grow darker.
The center of the cemetery was perhaps the most beautiful.
A large mausoleum, looming and gray, intricately decorated in a fashion that the blond was unfamiliar with stood there. He walked its perimeter, snapping perhaps a dozen images. The path leading up to the doors was fogged, the substance unbelievably thick inches above the dirt-and-gravel trail. Either side of the entrance held large, enflamed torches, crackling in the quiet.
The inscription above the large, black doorway caught his attention and drew Naruto closer. He scrunched his eyebrows together, snapping some images of the doorway.
It was a language he did not know, but he could easily understand.
A tanned hand reached for the ancient door handles.
"Are you sure you want to do that?"
Naruto spun around so quickly, he felt a bruise begin to form where his camera had slammed into his chest. He winced and the white-haired man in front of him chuckled.
"Sorry," he grinned. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"Who are you?" Naruto eyed the stranger as he hopped off of a wide gravestone.
"Jiraiya," the grin didn't fade. The man called Jiraiya moved closer to Naruto, holding out a wide hand. "I'm the caretaker."
Naruto slowly grasped and firmly shook Jiraiya's hand. "Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto."
"I know," Jiraiya nodded. "I've been expecting you, Naruto. When you didn't show up, I decided I had better come look for you. It wouldn't do well for Uchiha Manor's guest to become lost on the grounds."
Naruto blushed, grinning sheepishly and scratching the back of his neck – a nervous habit. "Sorry… I uh, got distracted."
Jiraiya shrugged, "It happens. Come on; let's get to the house before it gets too dark."
The tall, white-haired man led Naruto easily back to the entrance. The blond snapped a few more shots on the way, and paused at the gate when he spotted the large, dark truck. He feebly apologized again when Jiraiya lifted his bike into the truck's bed.
Jiraiya laughed – a loud, booming sound – and waved if off as no trouble at all.
As soon as he climbed into the passenger's seat, the truck was off, turning around easily in an impossibly small space.
A mile further down the road, the trees broke into a clearing where a tall, dark stone wall outlined the large mansion. Naruto's blue gaze caught a glimpse of the estate through the closed, black-iron gates.
The mansion leered from its cover of gate and tree, ancient bricks white and dirty.
Beyond the gates sat the courtyard. A large fountain – a giant fox with a wide pond of water surrounding it – stood centered between the gates and mansion staircase. As with the rest of the area, trees – though this time tall willows – littered the yard for as far as the blond could see. The large pillars on either side of the entrance, and at each corner of the building, provided perch to large and ominous gothic gargoyles.
Jiraiya parked his truck in the courtyard. "Here we are," doors slammed closed.
Naruto turned in place, gawking. The amused sound from Jiraiya snapped him out of it, and he turned in place again to snap images of the courtyard.
"I hope you have enough film."
"I don't know," Naruto honestly replied. The place was so big, had so much to offer! He couldn't possibly cover the whole place in – he looked at his watch, mouth gaping. Had he really been in the cemetery for so long? It was five-o'clock; he was supposed to be there at two. Time left him three hours to explore the mansion, take his photographs, and get home for dinner.
"Don't worry about the time," Jiraiya commented. He motioned toward the door. "Come on, I'll show you around a bit."
As Naruto followed, a thought occurred to him. He eyed the large, white-haired man. "You don't seem like a caretaker."
Jiraiya laughed. "No, I suppose not. But I've been taking care of this place for a long time. Lord Uchiha was a friend of mine, and as pretty much the only person he trusted, he asked me to do this." He grinned sideways at the blond, "besides, I like the kid pretty well. And taking care of this place really doesn't take as much as you would think. The kid likes it this way."
"The kid?" a blond brow arched with curiosity and Jiraiya grinned wider.
"The new owner of this place. He's about your age, so I call him kid. He trusts me, just like his grandfather did, so I get away with it most of the time."
They walked through the large wooden doors into an even larger entrance hall. Naruto stopped in his tracks. Intricately designed with gold and red and dark wood, the hall held a staircase in its center, leading up to the second story's left and right wings, Naruto guessed. He quickly brought the camera to his eye for photographs.
The chandelier on the ceiling and the many candles along the walls cast a warm glow around the room, surprising Naruto with the comfortable heat that warmed his flesh, and illuminated the room and sparkled off of every gold, metal and glass item.
Jiraiya waited patiently.
"This is beautiful."
"It is," Jiraiya agreed. "The rest of the house is much more luxurious." He gestured toward a doorway to his left, "Shall we?"
The next room held couches, chairs, tables and a large fireplace. A smaller chandelier draped from the ceiling's center, a wide mirror hovered above the fireplace mantle, and framed paintings decorated each of the other walls, separated by windows and doorways.
The blond gaped again, "What is this, a huge living room?"
Jiraiya cleared his throat, a small bit of his laugh escaping, "I suppose, yes, you could call it a 'living room.' This is one of many."
The camera shutter clicked, echoing through the room.
"This place is too big," Naruto muttered, following his guide through another door.
They wandered through a dozen other rooms, ranging from dens to bedrooms, before a loud rumble made Jiraiya laugh and Naruto blush.
"Sounds like it's time to detour to the Dining Hall." Jiraiya led Naruto through a series of hallways and down a set of stairs to ground level, where they turned to walk through a set of double-doors. "Welcome, Uzumaki Naruto, to the Dining Hall. Please, have a seat,"Jiraiya gestured to the long table, lavishly decorated with steaming plates of food and candlesticks in the center of the giant room.
The place was beginning to overwhelm him, and Naruto had a feeling he hadn't even seen a quarter of it.
As he sat, he admired the room. Wide, long, gold with a crystalline chandelier drifting high above the table, paintings, a fireplace, mirrors on the walls, and candle sticks along the perimeter; a beautiful room, just like any of the others.
Jiraiya sat near him.
"Are there a lot of parties here?"
Loading up a plate, Jiraiya shrugged. "There used to be. After… well, after something terrible happened, all of the balls were canceled." He started eating, ignoring the clicks of his guest's camera shutter.
"Eat. You're hungry, remember?"
As if to whole-heartedly agree, the blonde's stomach rumbled again. Without hesitation, he dug in, only vaguely wondering where all the food conveniently came from when he was so hungry.
They spent an hour in the Dining Hall, Naruto wolfing down food like a starved hyena and Jiraiya filling his ears with light chatter about the home. When the blond finally fell back in his chair, belly bulging with satisfaction, Jiraiya cleared his throat.
"Well, you have around another hour before you should return home, and I have a bit of work to attend to. Feel free to wander around here and photograph anything else you would like to get tonight, and don't worry about getting lost. This may be a huge place, but I can find anyone easily."
Before Naruto could let out his response, Jiraiya walked to the doors and out of the hall.
Naruto looked around for a minute, taking in his surroundings and wondering where to start. The far corner of the Dining Hall-slash-Ballroom held an intriguing set of French doors. Up close, the wood appeared to be the same dark wood from everywhere else in the mansion.
With the curiosity of a photographer, Naruto grabbed his bag and camera, and left through those doors.
The balcony, like everything, sat long, wide and open past the doors. A staircase on either side led down to the terrace beyond.
The garden stood at the stone steps end, lush green bushes of leaves, flowers, decorative trees and exotic vegetation illuminated by unusually bright torches. Naruto photographed it all, completely in awe, before moving on.
The next piece he found consisted of many trees, a different variation from the surrounding forest. Sakura trees mixed with willows, oranges, peaches and red-leafed maples. His path split into different directions, Naruto chose a path that wound him through the trees, out into an open portion of the terrace, full of lush grass, gravel paths and scattered trees; torch light danced across every surface.
Naruto strayed from the path to a large and old tree, a rope-and-plank swing dangling from its branches. He slowly, carefully sat on it, weary of the old rope; but as he kicked into a swing, he smiled lightly. Though old, the rope held sturdy as the day it was purchased.
He swung gently, eyes closed, until Jiraiya silently found him.
"I thought you would be here."
Naruto started, nearly falling backward. He smiled sheepishly, "Is it okay that I'm here?"
"Of course; you have access to any room, inside or out. Come on, I'll take you home."
Naruto followed down a different path, this one guiding them around to the front courtyard where Jiraiya's large truck waited, black and blending in with its surroundings in the dim light.
The drive back to Konoha took a considerably shorter amount of time, half an hour by vehicle compared to the two on bike. Jiraiya turned at intervals and pulled up alongside Naruto's home in minutes.
The front door opened and Iruka stood in the doorway, arms folded and features frowning.
"Adopted father," Naruto winced, glancing at Iruka. Kakashi appeared in the doorway behind Iruka, and Naruto sighed. "Him too."
Jiraiya hopped out of his truck, Naruto slipping out after, and pulled the blonde's bike down.
"Kakashi," Jiraiya nodded his greeting.
"You know each other?" Naruto looked between the two in surprise.
"Past acquaintances," Kakashi shrugged. "Still playing housekeeper?"
An amused laugh replied. Jiraiya turned to Naruto, "I'll pick you up at about eight-o'clock tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Iruka finally spoke. He looked confused, between Jiraiya and Naruto.
"Of course," Jiraiya smiled. "It would take at least two days to get all the photographs he needs." He waved lightly, wishing them good night and running back to his truck.
As he rumbled away, Naruto walked his bike to the garage.
Iruka sighed, "Dinner is ready, Naruto."
"I already ate," the blond called back, disappearing through the garage door.
"Kakashi…" his voice shuddered, mind roving over thoughts of the white-haired man and what his appearance meant. A hand gently gripped his shoulder, sliding from one across to the other in a reassuring embrace.
"Don't worry about it, Iruka." Kakashi watched thoughtfully after the blonde, "Jiraiya is at the house, but that doesn't mean that theyare… So don't worry about anything."
With another sigh, Iruka walked through the open doorway.
Kakashi turned his back to the door, staring off down the road, a frown crossing his hidden lips. "Nothing to worry about," he muttered to himself in a sigh. "…Yet."
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Notes:I wanted this to be a long chapter, but it didn't agree. Oh well xD My plan for this story is to write it 'in bulk' or post it in bulk, whatever. I don't know how long the story line will be but I have an estimated of no fewer than 13-20 chapters, and no more than 35, but that all depends on the story itself. Unless I randomly change my mind, chapters will not be posted without one or two chapters already written afterward. Meaning I won't post if it's the only chapter I have, but I will wait until I'm a couple of chapters into the story. If I decide to change my mind, however, it'll be up and chapter 2 will be in the works xD Next chapter status posted below these notes, in italics.
Ch. 2 complete. Posted: December 11, 2007
Please review! Give me criticism and encouragement, I often thrive on it… pathetic, I know.