A/N: I can't believe I'm writing Naruto fic. This is a one-shot. Please do not mob me for more chapters. I have not read enough Naruto to feel comfortable continuing it as an AU, I just wanted to give someone a chance to redeem himself.
Naruto had no real friends in the village. The adults drew their children away too quickly for him to make friends. The people at the orphanage hated him, and the children hated him because the adults hated him.
He not only had no friends, he also lived with all the bullies one boy could ever need. As he grew older – six, seven, almost eight – he was uncertain how desperate he was for a kind word, but he knew there was a great deal he would do…if only he could have a friend.
An ANBU nearly ran into him. That was unusual – ANBU were rarely seen, especially by children. Naruto latched on the ANBU's pant leg to keep from falling, and, surprisingly, the ANBU stopped, held him steady.
Then the ANBU crouched, grey eyes level to Naruto's bright blue ones.
"Hello," Naruto said fearlessly. "Are you in a hurry?"
The ANBU shook his head. Naruto remembered vaguely that ANBU were also rarely heard, preferring not to speak unless absolutely necessary. "Will you help me find the ramen stand?" His face, hopeful, fell almost immediately. "Only, I don't have any money…"
The ANBU tousled his hair and took his hand. Naruto's eyes went wide. Someone was willingly touching him! He clutched the man's hand so he couldn't pull away too soon. There was a deep rumbling chuckle from behind the ANBU mask, but the man didn't try to shake him off. He did lead Naruto to a ramen stand, even handing over a few coins, enough for two big bowls of steaming ramen. But he only pushed the bowl Naruto bought for him at the little boy, who beamed brighter than ever.
So much food…and he was so hungry. The people at the orphanage fed everyone the same, but Naruto had learned he would have to fight for his meals. Whenever the adult workers turned their backs, he would be mobbed for an extra bite of the small portions, inadequate for growing children.
He wouldn't even need to guard his spare ramen bowl. The ANBU would do that for him.
"I guess asking your name is silly, since ANBU don't talk if they can avoid it. I'm Uzumaki Naruto, though. An orphan, 'cause of Kyuubi." He shuddered slightly. "But I don't like to talk about that." The ANBU nodded once. "The orphanage sucks. Never enough food, never enough space, all the kids are asses, and the adults hate me. I want to go to the ninja academy and become the best ninja – and then the best Hokage – ever. To show them all I wasn't worthless," he muttered, but of course the ANBU heard, patting Naruto's spiky blond hair again.
"Before I become Hokage," Naruto began again, with the unconscious arrogance of a dreaming child, "I'm going to kill everyone who makes orphans. Hm. Unless they have kids, I guess. Then I'd just beat them up and put 'em in jail. There's nothing worse than taking away a kid's family before he ever knows them. Sometimes I think even a bad family would be better than nothing. As long as there was one person – just one – who loved me…I wouldn't care if the rest of them were terrible." Naruto yawned, and the ANBU checked the sun's progress. It was getting late in the afternoon. The second ramen bowl was licked clean before the blond boy started to drift off.
The ANBU picked him up, carrying him easily across the village to the orphanage.
When he returned home, Uchiha Itachi took off his mask and hugged his little brother, his favorite relative in the whole world.
Even a bad family is better than nothing, as long as there is one person I can love.