(Pre A/N: This story is rated M due to extreme mentions of blood and gore. This is my take on a kind of Naruto/Dexter cross over, there won't be any physical contact, but the characters will all be altered to fit the rules of the Dexter universe.)
I will always remember the first memory I have of the Sandaime Hokage…my mind tends to wander when I get in these pensive moods of mine, and he is brought to the forefront of my mind often. There are so many pleasant ones, but that first meeting is the best of them all…
The old man looks at me with tired eyes. He seems every bit as old as I claim he is right now, and if I knew half of what I had just caused, I wouldn't blame him. But I'm only three, and right now I'm covered in blood, but for once it's not mine. He takes a moment to pull his favorite pipe from his robes and takes a long drag off the glowing embers held within before he turns to me again.
"Why? Can you tell me why you did that, Naruto-kun?" He asks me, a deep sadness held in his voice. Since I'm so young, my first instinct is to think that emotion is directed at me, and I lower my gaze and ball my fists tighter together. I'm hoping that if I ignore the question, he'll loose interest in me, like everyone else, however as usual, my luck isn't that good.
"I won't be angry Naruto, no matter what you say, but I need to know why."
My words come out so quietly that he can't here them. It's not a knock on his hearing; I'm just trying to hold onto my secret for even just a moment more. More politely and with infinitely more patience than any other adult I've ever encountered in my life, he prompts me once more, and I find myself unable to deny the kind man my answer.
"It was taking too long." I manage to work out. "And…and I just…I just had to do something! That older guy had taken that girl so long ago, that I just had to!" Though it was difficult for me to say, no tears fell from my eyes, there was no remorse in my voice. In all honesty, it had been too long, the feeling had been building inside me for so long now, and tonight, it just happened to find a release.
I had been outside in the cold, looking for somewhere, anywhere to go to sleep. It had been very late when I had been thrown from the orphanage and told that I would have to find my own place for the night. Perhaps tomorrow night they'd be able to save a bed for me, but tonight, what with the celebrations that had gone on earlier, my bed had been given to the first person who drunk themselves into a coma. I had found a spot between a dumpster and a trash can behind the restaurant across from the orphanage when it happened.
A man who had a black mask over his head ran into the street between me and the building I should be calling home. He had something over his shoulder and from the sound of things; a number of people were chasing him. He stopped for a moment and dropped whatever he had been carrying, his hands doing something I had never seen before, but he must have screwed up, because someone pushed his chest and he collapsed to the ground. They said something about retrieving 'Hinata-sama' or something like that, and picked the small bundle off the ground before disappearing.
At the time I was perfectly happy to stay where I was, but I kept my eyes on the figure of the guy who was still lying in the ground. He wasn't moving, but in the cold December air, I could see the steam rising from his breath and that was when it started. It was weak at first. Just a thought in my mind that said 'hey, this is very boring, wouldn't it be better if something happened?' But I ignored it and it started to grow stronger. After a tortured ten minutes of nothing but watching his breath escape his body, it was too much to bear. My legs were involuntarily bouncing and my hands had begun to shake. It was then that I snapped. I walked over, and just watched as this man continued to fight for his life. A kunai had been thrown at him by his pursuers earlier in his chase and was still sticking into the ground. I picked it up, knowing enough about this particular weapon not to grip the blade, but the cool handle that ended in the heavy ring for heft and balance.
"…too slow…too slow…too….slow!" It took me a moment to realize that I was the one repeating that mantra, not my company. It was like someone had taken control of my voice and was saying these things, like someone had taken over my body, yet I found myself agreeing with this new voice, not only agreeing, but liking what it said with every word, every repetition. I looked at the blade of the kunai, saw its keen edges and unblemished tip and then I looked at the poor soul's barely moving chest next to me. I had seen what had happened when the other man had merely pushed on his chest, what would happen if I pushed him too? What if I used the kunai I had just picked up? I was eager to find out!
It happened so very quickly, I pushed downward with my favorite instrument, just like I had seen minutes ago. Blood rushed up and outward, nearly exploding out into the cold air and covered me from head to toe. The hot liquid snapped me out of the haze I had been living with and only then did I notice that the incessant and obnoxious wheezing of my victim had subsided. That was when the Sandaime had arrived along with his personal attachment of ANBU. Me with blood spattered over every inch of my ragged clothing, a bloody knife in my hand and still stuck in the body of the Kumogakure ambassador, lying dead at my feet.
I was quickly set upon by the ANBU, easily restrained and drug into the office of the man who has mattered most in my life. He made me tell him about the feeling I had, both before my first murder, of the anxiousness and anger I had felt, and then afterwards, the joy and elation. Afterwards I just sat there, head down, and waited. I waited to be punished like I normally was, to be yelled at. Instead, the man who I had just met, over the body of the man I had just killed none the less, decided to help me…to give me an outlet. He explained that in the life of a ninja killing was a common occurrence. He explained that what I felt, while not what you could exactly consider 'normal', it did have a place and he offered to teach me about it. He called them hunter ninja, I called it a golden opportunity. He even promised that as long as I promised to follow some of his rules, I could even keep my new friend, as I had come to think of my inner voice.
The old man's first rule was that I would have to enter the ninja academy when I was old enough. That wouldn't be for another two years at the earliest, so until then, I would live with him and his wife, so he could help me understand the things I had done and would go on to do. Secondly, I was never to do what I had done to any one who lived in Konoha, no matter what my inner voice said, no matter how badly I wanted it, I was never to murder a Konoha citizen, shinobi or otherwise. The third rule was one I found rather easy to follow. Under no circumstance would I ever kill someone for no reason at all, or, as he explained it to me at my young age, 'don't kill someone just because you can, or just because it would be fun.' His final rule, the one I found much harder to follow when I was younger and yet indebted to the man as I was, I have never broken this rule, nor will I. It is the cornerstone of what has allowed me to become what I am today. 'Only judge those who are truly guilty.' Of course, these all paled in comparison to the most important rule of all. 'Don't get caught.'
He explained all of this to me and gradually my body relaxed as I accepted his offer. After I had agreed to his offer, he strode from behind his desk and gave me the first warm embrace I can remember in my life. As he pulled backwards, I felt him slide something into my hand. It's the knife, the instrument of my first kill. He's returned it to me, knowing full well what I plan on doing with it in the future, under his guidance no less. Maybe that's why I trust him most of all.
Though I have never broken those rules; that is not to say that there haven't been close calls. The most notable one was shortly after the other kids my age started the academy, on the day that Uchiha Itachi murdered his entire clan. I would normally avoid the Uchiha district because it held no particular interest or significance for me, but today the amount of killing intent coming from the many buildings has drawn me like a moth to a flame. The stronger the intent to kill is, the harder it is for me to resist, to hold back, and to abide by the laws that the old man gave me…to still my friend in my mind.
The streets are awash with bodies and blood; pools have formed under bodies as they lie still in death, while spray from arteries paints the woodwork. I shiver at the scene that lies before me. So many people…killed so quickly…I doubt that even in my wildest dreams I could equal how perfectly the one responsible for this has planned it out. That's when I spotted the first crack in my Eden. A small boy, probably three years younger than me lying on his back, not unlike my first kill, breathing shallowly…fighting for his life.
Looking back, it was probably a mixture of a number of things, the blood, the killer intent that laced the very air around us…but before I knew it, I was reaching into my back pouch and retrieving my kunai…the kunai, it's become something of a good luck charm for me, as well as a trophy of that first experience. At first I just watch the boy fight and fight for what he believes is his, not knowing that right now, his life is out of his control. I'm not naïve enough to say that it's in mine right now, there are too many variables in the equation for me to say that, but each gasping, wheezing breath brings me that much closer to the edge, that much closer to breaking my word, possibly the heart of the one man who has cared for me. He breathes and I step forward. Another breath, another step and so goes the cycle until I am right next to the boy. A number of wounds have been inflicted upon his body, most likely from shuriken and even without my interference, he might not survive. The most serious wound comes from the clean dissection of his right arm from his body. This is another crack in the mystique I had originally viewed this scene in. I have no particular interest in torture or amputation. Admittedly, blood does have a certain place in my heart, but I have my own ways to indulge in that pleasure, torture goes against my true love, speed. It is fascinating to see both how fast one can die from bleeding out, and yet every kill is a test for me…how long can I extend the thrill, the joy of removing a piece of trash from this earth. It is a fine line I walk, and mutilation of a small boy has no pleasure for me. It is as close to a mercy killing as I will come, as I suddenly feel a presence emerging from a building near by and I am brought back to my senses.
What have I almost done? In one instance I've nearly broken every rule that Sarutobi has laid out for me, every one! My knife returns to its place at my hip and I scramble away in shame at my actions. My seven year old feet take me to the Hokage's office as fast as they can, not because I want to, but because I have to. He is the only one who knows what I am, how I think and, for lack of a better term, feel. Besides, he should probably be made aware of the situation anyway.
My grades in the academy are poor at best, but the Hokage doesn't seem to mind. He always tells me that for my field, I'm the closest thing to a genius you could hope to find. My classes are pretty boring, the teachers are nice enough, Iruka-sensei has taken a liking to me, probably because we are both orphans and Mizuki-sensei treats me like any other student, though he has times where he seems to take as much pleasure in my failure as the majority of the class.
My classmates are an eccentric group, ranging from emotionally stunted (both Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Hinata) to overly secure (Inuzuka Kiba and Sasuke again) to the pitifully weak (Ninety nine percent of the girls in the class). Then there is Aburame Shino, who has managed to do something I envy. He has convinced the entire class that he has no emotion and dictates every move, everything he does, on logic. Early on in the game, Sarutobi taught me the importance of fitting in, of donning a mask. When I am alone and not in one of my more destructive moods, I am much more like Shino than anyone except my father figure knows. However, the emotionless façade doesn't allow one to blend in well, so instead of showing what would be considered ideal behavior for a ninja, I've worked painstakingly on a mask of happiness and care free naiveté.
It is this mask that I've displayed since I was three, this mask that has everyone fooled, this mask that Hyuuga Hinata has fallen for. I've know about her feelings for me, though I don't understand them, for a while. She has fallen for the part of the mask that refuses to be beaten, to get up, no matter what the odds. It's a shame, because of all the characteristics that are kept behind the mask and the few that bleed into it, the true me, has very little of that drive. I refuse to believe that there is anyone else out there who is as good at what they do as I am. I refuse to believe that I might fail Sarutobi and I know that I can't fail the voice in my head. That's as far as the similarities go I'm afraid.
I just don't understand what she see's in my mask, or what any of the girls see in Sasuke. I am completely lost in that department, bonds that is. I don't understand why humans make bonds, or why they are important. The old man explained it to me once. I got part of it, that when you are doing things for someone else, you are able to accomplish things you never thought possible. Like how I can track and restrain chuunin twice my age when the old man asks me to. I refuse to fail him, and so I try that much harder…I'm that much better at what I do. There is a certain amount of pride that anyone should take when they complete a task that is assigned to them, that I understand, but friendship and love…they are foreign to me.
Friendship…a bond between two people who find something that they have in common…the chances of me finding someone who shares my interests is very slim and the chances that they would want to befriend me is even lower. It is faked easily enough, for instance, Inuzuka Kiba believes me to be his friend, based solely on the fact that we cut class together a few times. He was bored; I was interested in finding out what normal people do when they aren't learning.
Love…I simply cannot fathom the concept of love. For normal people there must be something comforting about being with someone of the opposite sex…or sometimes even the same sex. I for one don't see what the big deal is. To me, love is an extension of friendship, a subject that I currently have to fake so I can keep my mask up. The old man once told me that while friendship must be grown, like an animal or plants, that love is just an instinctual need to be with someone, to make their wishes reality and to protect them with your own life. I still don't see what's so great about it, but if I 'loved' anyone, it would be the old man.
Want to know something? Even if I knew what love and friendship were, I don't think I would be able to see Hinata as anything other than a classmate. You see, if I felt remorse, it would be for Hinata and her older cousin Neji. My first kill…cost them an uncle and father respectively, something I wouldn't want to take away, despite never having had a true father myself.
I'm broken from my musings when everyone begins to file from the room. I stand too, no need to stay here any longer, the new weight of a Konoha head band is comforting on my head, but my mind is far from at ease. Even though the old man has specifically told me that this doesn't break any of his rules, I still feel dirty as I keep Mizuki in the corner of my vision as I leave the room. He has been spying for a traitor and although the Hokage won't tell me who, I can tell that this is a personal matter. Why else would he allow me to take care of a simple spy when he assuredly has information that could be useful to us? Never the less, I have specific instructions from him tonight…and failure just isn't an option.
I wait until Mizuki leaves the academy building that evening. He is the last to leave, thinking he has nothing to fear. The old man says that he is going to try and steal an important scroll this evening, and if he says it will happen, than who am I to question that? Mizuki is already a traitor to Konoha, so he has lost all rights to citizenship and thus, any protection he had from me.
He's walking towards the Hokage tower, more specifically the old man's office, but it'll take him another fifteen minutes at this rate. I am content to follow him at a distance, knowing that I can close the current gap between us in a matter of seconds. This, I think, is what sets me apart from the others who enjoy my craft. I've studied enough profiles of others like me, some I've already gone after, some I've left for later on, but they all have a fatal flaw that I do not have; a ritual. You know; a series of habitual actions that they go through before leaving on the hunt. That's where they are weakest, their habits, the patterns they have or leave behind. All it takes is one tiny interruption to that ritual, and they can't handle it and make a mistake. It's the same no matter how short or long the ritual is. That's what makes me better than all the rest. My ritual comes during the best part.
I pick up my pace as Mizuki nears the position I need him in. Even if I miss this initial opportunity, he'll have to pass back here, and I'll get him then, he's as good as dead, he just doesn't know it yet. I've hidden my bright blond hair underneath a black handkerchief, so as not to get gore in it later and my blue eyes have no emotion in them as I draw even with the traitor. In one split second I take my chance and bodily tackle him through the slightly ajar door that lead into one of the sound proof interrogation rooms. They are self contained and I quickly put a kunai to the traitor's throat. He stiffens; obviously he's never felt this helpless before.
"Shut the door!" I hiss at the shocked chuunin, who blindly obeys, hoping to prevent his immanent fate, only to seal it himself. Despite having both my hands occupied, I create six shadow clones and switch places with one of them, so that I can participate in my own party. I don't say anything, the clones know what I'm thinking and they begin their own tasks without saying a thing, with practiced ease two begin to slice at the tendons in Mizuki's legs and then his arms. With my target immobilized, my clone drops the spineless jellyfish to the floor as he screams in pain. It's an annoying sound, and I decide that all things considered, I might have to settle for a very fast kill. The clones set about, spreading his arms and legs out, exposing his arteries for my knife to slice through. A clone moves towards his femoral artery on his left leg and stabs in the general area, through clothing and flesh, until the vital blood way is punctured and blood begins to seep from the wound.
I withdraw a pocket watch along with the knife and look at the face of the clock. It's only been ten seconds since he started bleeding; only another five minutes and I'll break my old record. Another stab, this time to the right leg, it's a shame that I don't have the luxury of time tonight. The old man has given me some specific directions that I have to finish tonight. To any other person in my field, that would be unacceptable, but I have but one post high ritual. It's so minimalist in it's approach that many of the people I hunt would laugh at me if they knew, but if you remove just one finger on each hand, the amount of knowledge that even a trained Hunter can decipher from a body is cut by more than sixty percent. To save time, my clones cut his carotid artery and I can see him try and mouth the word "Demon", but I pay the dead no heed. The first half of my ritual ends when I deliver the coup de grace by stabbing straight through his heart and I watch as his eyes cloud over and roll back into his skull.
As per my instructions, I quickly sever his head and take my trophies, his index fingers and begin to skin them to the bones. These are all I need, all I take from my victims, and the only thing that I would normally do to their body once they were dead, leaving the body to be found in a pool of it's own blood, but tonight, I have to act the part of an actual Hunter, and so Mizuki's severed head is sealed into a scroll and I burn his body as I have been instructed to do. I don't need to clean up the blood, as Ibiki was a little too overzealous the last time he was in this room and no one will notice the addition of another few smears amongst dozens. As his body burns, I remove my blood soaked clothing and wipe the excess blood from my face and hands before throwing the ruined garments on to the flames. When the fire has died down, nothing is left, not even bone and I am left to report back to the old man.
He's waiting for me when I knock on his office door, even at this hour of night and quietly ushers me inside and locks his office. I pull out the scroll with the head sealed inside and hand it to him. Unlike most hunts, there isn't a bounty on Mizuki's head, no, this time; the head is to be sent as a message to his master. Sarutobi is through playing games and he thinks it's time that his former student knew that.
"Send as many lackeys as you like." It will say. "They will all be returned in a similar state." No quarter, no surrender. Not now, not to Sarutobi and by proxy, not to me.
"Naruto, I'm proud of you. You've taken my words and my rules to heart and have turned into a fine ninja." The praise is welcomed, but I feel no warmth or joy from it. I can't feel anything.
"He thought I was the demon. I think that's probably why he was so susceptible to turning against us." I gave up the only interesting bit of information that I had gleamed in my workings. Yes, I know about the Kyuubi, I have known since that first time I went outside the village to slack my thirst, my target had been a lush and didn't stop calling me 'Kyuubi until I removed his tongue from his mouth. When I returned from that trip, I asked Sarutobi about it.
"Am I the Kyuubi?" I asked, the curiosity getting the better of me. He shook his head, not replying with words, but his eyes remained on me, waiting for the inevitable follow up questions to come. "Is that the voice I hear in my head? Is that the reason that I'm not like the other kids?" This was the crux of my questioning. If he answered yes, then there was a chance that one day I might be able to fit in with the others, naturally, no masks, no faking needed.
The old man paused, looking straight into my dead blue eyes, starring right into my black soul.
"At first, I thought maybe it was, but after that first night…I'm afraid that what sets you apart from the others; isn't simply the demon that the Yondaime sealed inside you. Do you remember what you said that night? That it was taking too long? That was the exact same answer that your father gave me when he began to show the same signs as you. No Naruto, I'm afraid that your gift has been passed down from your father."
(A/N: Hah! Bet you didn't see that one coming! You were all betting on the Kyuubi, weren't you?! For now, this will remain as a one shot, as the idea sounded so good in my head, yet as I wrote it down, I find myself less and less enthused with it. Perhaps one day I will continue it, or add to it. Heck, if any of you want to continue it, PM me, let me know some how, and I'll take a look at it.
Anyway, please read and review. (Hopefully, if you're reading this, you've already read the story, so it's just that review part that is eluding you.)