Warning: Shizuka na Sonata is not a rape fic. However, it does deal with harassment and heavy ableism (a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities) both of which are very real, and very pervasive, no matter which country. Please, if any of these are an issue for you, or if they possibly trigger you or an unhappy event, do not read it.
Shizuka na Sonata
His world was one of silence.
Tokyo's boisterous streets, filled with foreigners speaking native tongues, high school girls jabbering about host clubs, corporate moguls sabotaging family-owned businesses, and street musicians or dancers entertaining passers-by—all of these combined noises went unnoticed by one.
He could imagine the sounds of peoples' feet pattering against the concrete floor, horns blaring, engines running, street vendors selling, wheels screeching only because at one time, he knew them. But he was too distracted to think about those trivialities (though, in recollection, they were not at all trivial to him). One more week! His stomach fluttered at just the thought. Everything would really change in just one more week. And in thinking that, he continued on his way.
But as he was pushed into the busy street by a biker that hadn't slowed down even though he'd just warned the young man to watch out, Uzumaki Naruto never imagined that the sky could be so blue today, peaking just beyond the tall city buildings.
Quiet. So quiet.
As he fell through the air, facing the sky, seeing only the blue sky, he felt weightless. He didn't hear a sound. It was blissful. He was floating, the wind was blowing, and it was like being in the rolling hills of his home in the country, arms spread out wide.
This is what flying must be like.
And then the sky turned dark, and he felt pain.
"Oh my god! Someone call the ambulance!" a woman yelled anxiously toward the crowd gathering around the young man that'd met with the speeding sports utility vehicle.
"I thought he heard me when I told him to get out the way!" the man on the bicycle professed defensively as he pushed his bike against a railing and moved toward the growing crowd. "He didn't move!" He pushed himself through the throng of people and stared in disgust at the scene, pulling at the roots of his hair in shock.
A young woman sat on the ground, cradling the youth's head on her lap to reduce his prospect of drowning in the blood pouring through his nose. "Did anyone call the ambulance?" she yelled, trying to staunch the blood.
The black vehicle that the blonde had encountered was slightly cracked in the windshield.
"Don't move!" the woman holding the young man yelled as he suddenly shook free from his stupor.
The blond blinked up in considerable shock, struggling to breathe. His eyes, red from the tears brought on by the numbness he couldn't even feel, fell on one face to the next, and he tried to move his body. He blinked once tiredly, unable to hear what the woman said as she moved her lips.
"Eh! Is he dead?‼ Oh, dear god, he's dead!"
"Clear the way! Ambulance coming through! I said clear the way!"
"You must have an angel watching over you, kid," the doctor spoke, pulling away from the blond as he took the stethoscope from his ears. "Uzumaki, right?"
Naruto blinked at the doctor and then nodded.
"Well, nothing that we couldn't fix. You should make a full recovery within the next couple of weeks or so, so don't strain yourself too much, especially your wrist," the doctor murmured, filling out a prescription for Naruto. The appendage was strained when he'd instinctively tried to break his fall after rolling off the hood of the vehicle that put him in his current predicament.
Naruto took the sheet of paper from the doctor and then looked over at his tutelary, who quietly sat in the corner of the room with a backpack in his hands. He smiled at Naruto and stood up, indicating that their stay, long overdue according to the blond, was finally at its finish. The doctor walked over to the older man and they shook hands.
"Thanks for taking care of the kid, doctor," the man said.
"No problem, Mr. Jiraiya. I know you were worried."
Jiraiya kicked his head back in weak laughter. "Of course I was," he agreed. "I mean, with him being . . . well . . . Just know that I'm glad you were able to take care of him the last couple of days and patch up the squirt. Let's go, kid!"
Naruto glared huffily at Jiraiya and stood up, wincing in pain. He limped over to his guardian slowly, bowed slightly at the doctor in gratitude, and followed the older man out of the room.
When they reached Naruto's apartment, Jiraiya unlocked the door and stepped in, rolling his eyes at the mess. Naruto walked to the bathroom to put his medicine in the cabinet and by the time he'd walked out after relieving himself, the older man was already picking things up from the floor and putting them in their respective places. He rolled his eyes and walked into his kitchen, patting his empty stomach and reaching for a cabinet.
"Don't you ever clean after yourself, ya little brat?" Jiraiya asked in annoyance, more to himself than to the other. Granted, the blond just moved into the apartment a little over a week ago, but he did finish packing completely, and was leaving mess behind here and there. He turned around to find the room empty, exhaled exasperatedly, and walked into the kitchen, where Naruto was already boiling a pot of ramen for himself. He sat at his table, bent over with his head cradled in his arms. Jiraiya walked to the other side of the table to face Naruto, whose eyes were closed. "Oi, Naruto!" He knocked his knuckles against the table top and Naruto instantly lifted his head. "You need to clean your apartment! It's not livable!" he said in aggravation, his hands moving rapidly.
"Stop doing that," Naruto retorted animatedly. "And I just moved in? What do you expect?"
"Doing what?" Jiraiya asked.
"That!" Naruto pointed accusingly. "I can read your lips, or I can read your hands, but making me do both is so tiresome!"
"Well not everyone can conform to you, Naruto. I need to speak aloud to express myself!" Jiraiya gestured violently.
"Then quit moving your hands like that!" Naruto snapped. "You're gonna make me go crazy looking at too many things. I can read your lips just fine."
"Okay, okay, fine," Jiraiya hissed, thinning his eyes impatiently at Naruto. He then grumbled to himself, "That won't be an accurate read . . ." The water behind him came to a boil, and he turned around to finish making the ramen. He turned toward Naruto a little, but didn't face him fully. "So, are you gonna be fine by yourself the next couple of days? You just got out of the hospital." He heard Naruto knock on the table, and he turned around.
"Did you say something?" Naruto asked curiously.
Oops, I slipped up, Jiraiya grimaced. From time to time, it still happened. He really didn't know why. He lived way, way too far in the past. Or ideally. "I said, Are you gonna be fine by yourself the next couple of days? You just got out of the hospital."
"Ah, I should be fine, old man! Don't coddle me! It's just a bruised ribcage!"
The older man turned deadpanned, unamused eyes to his ward. "And a sprained wrist, a torn ligament in your shoulder, a sprained ankle, a minor concussion—"
"Okay, okay, I get it!" Naruto interjected. "No need to list everything off. Anyway, I should be fine. School won't start for another week, and I'm pretty sure that I can survive until then."
"You nervous about it? University that is?" Jiraiya asked with a grin.
Naruto blinked at Jiraiya and pouted his lips obstinately. "Please, I'm definitely not, I tell you!"
Jiraiya scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Of course not," he said sarcastically. He looked down at his watch. "Well, I have to leave now. The plane for Okinawa leaves in about two hours, so I should get going."
Naruto's shoulders slumped. "Seriously? I thought you had more time . . . Are you sure you don't want me to at least see you off at the airport?"
Jiraiya smiled. "Ah, I'm sure," he said. "It's hard enough leaving you here in Tokyo, Naruto. If you see me off, you're gonna cry too hard!"
"No way, old man! They'll be tears of joy!" Naruto retorted with furled eyebrows.
Jiraiya smiled and Naruto followed him to the front door. He sighed heavily and turned to face Naruto, who looked down distressingly. "Hey, buck up, kiddo!" Jiraiya said, punching the blond lightly in the arm. "You're gonna do fine!"
Naruto looked away from Jiraiya and pouted. But really, do you have to go so soon . . . ?
Jiraiya resisted the urge to hug the kid. Eh, he's 18! He's an adult! Gotta treat him like one! No need for sentiments! So instead, he gave the blond a good, memorable noogie, pulled away when Naruto objected instantly with the raising of his fist, and gave another sigh. "Well then . . ."
"Well . . ." Naruto repeated.
"Goodbye. Do well, Naruto. And until you find a job, take this." Jiraiya pulled a check-card from his pocket and shoved it into Naruto's hands, grinning when Naruto's eyes lit up. "Don't go spending all that cash! I put a ton of money on the side for this, so you better spend frugally! Tokyo's expensive."
"Tch, I know, Jiraiya," Naruto said lightly. He looked down, biting his lip. ". . .Thanks . . ." He watched Jiraiya open the door, bit softly at his lip, and waved. "Bye . . ."
"Bye, kid. Write me, yeah?" Jiraiya said. Naruto nodded, and the man walked away with the blond watching until he was in the elevator.
Naruto quickly rushed to the window and stared out, waiting for the old man to come out of the building. He watched as Jiraiya sat in his rental car for a few minutes. Hesitation . . . ? No, because the man started up the engine and drove off a few seconds.
The blond sighed against the window, watching the fog from his breath thicken against the glass, and scrawled a little drawing into the dew glass quickly, and then turned away when it began to disappear.
Naruto steeled his resolve as he stared at the large ornate buildings before him, surrounded by lush green trees and students and faculty and just so many people bustling about. His eyes turned to the the large sign overhead: Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Aah! No way! He smacked his cheeks twice, turned around, and started to walk away. I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this . . .
Someone bumped into him, and he spun around quickly after quietly gesturing an apology, walking toward the school again with wide, nervous eyes. Very well unable to navigate himself into the school with his eyes rapt on his feet, he lifted his head and made a beeline for the swinging doors of the main campus. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? This was a stupid idea! Stupid! You're an idiot, Uzumaki Naruto!
He sat down at one of the chairs for a moment, pulling out the folder from his backpack, and read its contents for the umpteenth time. Okay, head to the Department of Student Affairs! Check! He stuffed the folder back into his backpack, stood up, and looked at the chart a few meters away to find the particular building. After memorizing the way, he took off.
When he reached the building, he headed to the particular office room, and went right in. A blonde foreigner caught his attention, and he headed for her instantly.
"Can I help you with something?" the woman asked pleasantly from behind the desk.
Naruto nodded quickly, pulled out the file from his backpack, and handed it to the woman. She took the folder with a smile, looked over it, and gasped. "Oh! You're Uzumaki Naruto! Wow! You did great getting here by yourself!" Naruto looked at her curiously; after all, it wasn't as if he didn't know how to navigate his way around places. "Well, I'm Tsunade, your advisor. Oh wait, um . . ." she paused. "Ah, do you understand me . . . ? Oh, dear, ah . . ." The woman scrambled up from her seat, and Naruto's browled furled inward at her curvaceous figure.
"Sakura?" Tsunade called out. "Sakura, ah, Uzumaki Naruto is here!"
"Yes, yes, I'm coming!" was the response. A young woman with shocking strawberry-blonde hair came from a small room, closing the door behind her while repeatedly thanking the person in the other room with bows of appreciation. She walked right up to Naruto and Tsunade and gave a slight bow, which Naruto returned. Exasperatedly, she said, "You called, Ms. Tsunade?"
Tsunade nodded at Sakura. "Yes, Sakura. I wanted to introduce you two. Haruno Sakura, this is Uzumaki Naruto," she said loudly, motioning to the blond.
"Oh! Oh, Naruto! Oh! Wait!" Sakura said nervously, correcting herself. She then continued, "It's nice to meet you, Uzumaki Naruto!"
Naruto smiled at the girl, expecting that this was his translator. There certainly was a god; she was rather gorgeous. "Ah, no need to be so formal, Sakura. Just call me Naruto." The girl giggled.
"So, Mr. Uzumaki, Sakura is going to be your aid for the semester," Tsunade said slowly, raising her voice again. "Your first class is starting in a little while, so the two of you should really be going!"
Unfortunately, the school was unprepared in their services toward Naruto, so they had to find a willing student to be his aid instead, a process that took so long that he didn't think he'd have his needs met by the time the semester was to start. Thankfully at the eleventh hour, they found Haruno Sakura. It was a little off-putting, honestly, when he'd initially contacted the university to let them know of his situation. Their response was that they'd never had a student with his issue enroll on the campus before, so they would be unable to fund an aid that would meet his needs.
Sakura nodded at Tsunade, taking Naruto's folder, and turned to the blond. "Alright then, Naruto, let's go. You don't want to be late for your class on the first day!"
Naruto turned toward Sakura as they exited the building, and they walked toward the main building again. "Are you also a first year here?" he asked her as he held the door open for her.
"Yeah, I am," Sakura answered. She thanked him offhandedly and turned back to him. "Well, sort of. Well, I started a semester early, so I'm pretty familiar with this place."
"So, your concentration is graphic design, right? I heard you were a really good artist, but I didn't ever get a chance to see any of your work." Tilting her head slightly, she made an apologetic face. "Also, I'm so sorry. If I'd known earlier that the school was looking for someone like me, I would have contacted them faster."
Naruto just shrugged his shoulders and stopped short when Sakura reached for the door of their classroom. He breathed deeply. Hell, he was nervous as the grass was green. He was a country boy, and Tokyo was a big step for him! Still, that simple difference was very minor.
He actually had a more legitimate reason to be nervous.
"Naruto, relax," Sakura said, jolting the blond with a warm hand on his shoulder. "If you're worried that anyone is gonna judge you because you have a han—"
"Ah! I'm not worried about that, I tell you!" Naruto interjected with a beaming smile. "It's just the first day jitters. I've never been to such a big school before is all! I'm just a country kid, ya know?"
Sakura smiled at Naruto gently but knowingly and opened the door, walking in and letting him trail in behind her. He would have sat in the back of the room, and he even suggested it with the pointing of his finger, but Sakura sat at a desk right in the front of the room. He slouched in his seat nervously, avoiding the curious gazes of his classmates. It was an art and music university, so the students were a bit more lax in their hair styles and clothing. But Naruto clearly looked foreign, and while there were a few foreign students in the school, there were so few of them.
The professor sauntered into the room, stood at his podium, and looked at his watch. The students quieted down and stared at him. "Hot damn, I'm early . . ." the man murmured quietly. "Miracles do happen," he grumbled before straightening himself and staring lazily at his students. "I would apologize to you beforehand for my constant tardiness to this class, but honestly, I'm sure that you all don't mind, yeah?" The statement broke the ice, and a few of them rumbled in quiet laughter. He stared at the students in the room and zeroed in on the female in the front. "Yes, Sakura?" (He knew her name because she was on of the few who contacted him before the semester began. Overzealous, studious one, that Sakura.)
"Huh?" Sakura asked. "Oh, nothing, Kakashi-sensei."
"You raised your hand?" the professor asked.
"Ah, no, I didn't," she murmured, ducking her head slightly.
"Oh . . .alright then," he muttered. "I could have sworn . . ." he opened his folder and stared at his roster. "I'll introduce myself. I am Hatake Kakashi, 26 years old, single, an art history professor and part time archeologist. And . . .well . . .I suppose that sums me up," he finished. He looked down at his roster again. "Alright, I'm going to call roll. I'd like you to introduce yourselves—" he paused. "Yes, Sakura?"
"I didn't raise my hand," Sakura said defensively, smiling weakly at the teacher.
" . . .Right," the professor said with a hesitant nod of his head. He stared curiously at the young blond sitting next to Sakura, and grinned when he perversely assumed that the male was ogling her. Kid, you got to be more discreet about your staring. He shook his head. Youth was wasted on the young. They had so much to learn. "Uh, continuing, then," he said undeterred, "I'd like you to stand up and introduce yourselves, and tell us what your main concentration is, and if you wish it, you can tell your fellow classmates why you chose it, your favorite medium, and anything else you might want to share." He looked at his roster again. "I always like to mix things up, so for a change of pace, let us call roll backwards, shall we? First up . . . ah Uzumaki Naruto."
Sakura sat up straight, then slyly knocked at the side of Naruto's desk to catch his attention. He looked at her and then at the professor, and wilted slightly in his seat.
"Uzumaki Naruto?" the professor asked, looking at his students in question. A short moment passed, and he looked up front again when the blond begrudgingly pulled himself out of his seat.
Just don't think about it. Just go ahead and do it. It's not like I'm an alien. You've gotta get it over with anyway, right? Right. Okay. Go.
"Ah, face the class, please," Kakashi said, gesturing toward Naruto's classmates.
Naruto bit his lip and slowly turned around. His vision blurred ahead of him and he nervously tightened his hands into fists. His hand slowly went up to his brow, where he scratched at it and urge himself to speak.
He wasn't always like this. When he was younger, he was so outgoing. But in the past few years, this was a conditioned response.
"No need to be shy," the professor said. "We're all new people here, yeah? Or do you not speak Japa—"
Sakura jolted to attention when Naruto's hands began to move slowly. "Oh," she whispered to herself before she stood up next to Naruto. Honestly, she'd never stood in front of a classroom of peers to do this before. She cleared her throat. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto," Sakura said, watching Naruto's hands. "My concentration is design. While painting is . . . very important to me, my true passion . . . is . . . " she paused when Naruto paused, and shrugged her shoulders in thought. "Is music . . ." she ended off with a tone of shock. Wait. What?
Naruto dropped his hands, and, not lifting his head, slumped back into his seat. He didn't hear the silence that followed his introduction, or the whispers that ensued thereafter. He didn't hear a few of the students clear their throats in unease, or the teacher continue with the roll call after a short pause. He didn't hear Sakura's introduction when her name was called, or the sliding of the seats when someone would push their chair back to stand.
After all, Naruto's world was one of silence.
Comment: Naruto wasn't literally "talking" in this chapter. I hinted at his using sign language, writing how he wildly gestured to Jiraiya and Sakura, for example. Also, he only 'SPOKE' to Jiraiya and Sakura, people who knew sign language. He never spoke to the doctor, and he never spoke to Tsunade, because they don't know sign language. See you next chapter!