Author Note: Usually, as you know if you've read any of my other works, I am pretty nice to Kakashi. Even though he likes Jiraiya's dirty books and favors Sasuke over either of his other two students that behavior is explainable to me but for this story I decided Kakashi has been a bad boy and needs to be treated to the Mother Rose form of justice. So I will not be as nice as I usually am to the slightly twisted genius. And for those of you who think Sakura is just misunderstood please go read someone else's fic. You won't care for mine. I whole heartedly believe her to be a cold conniving little freak of spoilt rotten nature that needs a good hair dresser and a better costume designer. If you're still with me at this point happy reading. And as always reviews are welcome.

Disclaimer: Of course I don't own Naruto.

The Price of Life

Chapter One: Survival

His whole life had been nothing but one big humongous fight. One small battle after another. Always striving to prove his right to live as he barreled from one scrap straight into another. People- good people- who thought he had no right to breathe the same air they or others- bad people- who wanted to possess his power. It made no difference in the end. They all wanted his death and so he fought. He tried to find noble reasons for each battle but sometimes that was hard to do. Sometimes it was just what it seemed like it was. A fight for survival.

The early years were hard to remember but he had vague images of flying fists and feet. Big people knocking him down in the mud and grime just to make it easier to hit and kick him. He had learned to fear fist and feet. He had learned fist and feet could cause great pain. But then he got bigger. And he'd learned one of his most important lessons. He'd learned to run. Feet were his best weapon as he learned to use them to escape Through escaping from attackers he'd learned his next important lesson. Hiding. He had learned what could hide him from what couldn't. And the fights tapered off for awhile as he got very good at running and hiding.

Then he got his team. The sensei said they were supposed to become friends. He didn't know what friends were. He didn't have any friends before. Sensei said they were to be comrades but that had never been the plan. He had been naive back then. Figured if he just kept trying to prove his worth they'd come around. They'd see his value but the team wasn't about friendship or comrades. It wasn't about learning to cover each others weaknesses. It was all about the one. The spoilt little orphan prince. It had taken him too long to see it but his whole purpose on that team had been about that one person. The unofficial prince of the village needed a measuring stick to feel worthwhile and he was to be that stick. And when it didn't work and the prince left anyway, Sensei said it was his fault. They all said it. He'd been too strong. Had too much power. And flaunted it before the weak. So the prince had run away. The girl said he owed it to her to get him back. She said he cheated. Used a power he, the orphan prince, couldn't match.

And that brought on the next stage of the fights. They, his oh so loving village, wanted their orphan prince back. And it was his job to bring him home. In one piece. Alive. And preferably able to go fight right away. They told him not to come back until he rescued him.

At first he'd failed. A lot of people got hurt and it was his fault. They said he should have fought for them so they wouldn't have gotten hurt but he'd run after the prince instead, intent on proving his worth to the village by bringing back their orphan prince. He'd caught up to the orphan prince and he'd fought hard. He'd fought with everything he'd had. But he'd lost. He couldn't damage the prince. But the prince could hurt him. With a hole in his lung from the power the orphan prince used he collapsed. The prince got away, leaving him out cold on the ground. His Sensei had no mercy as he carried him back to the village. He was healed but only so that he could try again to rescue the poor orphan prince.

He was expelled from the village until he brought the orphan home. But this brought on the fights that would consume the rest of his life. Strangers who saw his power and wanted it for their own. Strangers who saw it and were afraid of him because of it. Strangers who decided he had no right to live with his power. Battle after battle he had fought. Always growing stronger but never strong enough to be valued. Never strong enough to stop fighting.

They had called him back to the village finally and he'd gone hoping he was to be recognized. But they had only wanted him to go after their poor little prince again. To be the powerhouse that would keep the others safe while they rescued the poor little prince. Once again he listened as he was told it was his fault the prince had run and his duty to bring the boy home. He listened to the threats of what would happen if he harmed a single hair on the head of thier darling prince. He listened and with a heavy heart and undying hope, he obeyed. Again.

And now he was here. Dead inside his own mind. Killed by a swipe no one had even seen. Beaten by a power he couldn't match. Left alone to struggle against a force he couldn't defeat. He did his best. But he wasn't good enough. He wasn't strong enough. His own ability was too weak. And so he called on his hidden power. But that power was his downfall. His hidden power struck him down. His demon locked him away. Sealing him. Preventing him from taking back his control. But at least he hadn't hurt the prince. His village had been obeyed to the end.

The Demon fought the battle. Destroying the deceased. Destroying those who wanted his death. Leaving all those who sought his power dead. He didn't know what had happened to his Sensei. To the girl. But it didn't matter. He was dead. Unable to rescue the orphan prince. Unable to control his power. Unable to save his team.

The battle raged and the beast killed them all. Those that were already dead died again in his mind. The boys in dresses and the sound nins who thought to stand against him, Orochimaru and his pets, his experiments. They all died but in the end no one said thanks. No one praised him. No one even noticed him. He'd waited after the battle, still in his monster form, for them to notice. For them to acknowledge him. Just once but they didn't.

The girl yelled at him. Cursing him. Denying his value. She brought the orphan prince from the rubble and the boy. His Sensei denied his worth. Sensei left him to rot among the mass of the deceased. He watched as the team gathered the injured and left him behind. Their fear too great to help him. His power too strong to be controlled. He collapsed to his knees and watched as they walked away. He wanted to beg for help but it was too late. Locked away inside his mind he couldn't call out. He couldn't beg for forgiveness.

His senses failed him as his body raced against the Demon's power. He'd lost the battle and he knew it. The war for him was over. They'd won. They might be dead but so was he. He was dead. Dead inside his own head. One by one, his senses shut down. He couldn't see. He couldn't hear.

The Demon led him away. Away from the site of the battle. He was so tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of never being good enough. Strong enough. He found a cave and wandered inside. There he stayed as the seasons turned. Never venturing far. Ignoring the world. He was waiting. For what he didn't know but he was waiting. There was supposed to be an end when you died but he guessed that was only true for them-the good people.

Winter blew snow into his cave but he didn't care. He wasn't going anywhere anyway. Spring cleared it away. The trees outside grew into beautiful canopies but he didn't notice. Summer came and brought new life to frolic and play in the mouth of his cave. He watched without concern until the fall brought down the leaves of the trees. They piled in his doorway and made a crunchy carpet in the forest but he did nothing. He just laid at the back of his cave, saying nothing, doing nothing. Year after year.

Then they'd come. People wanting his power. Some claimed to want him to come with them. He'd seen too much. Done too much to believe them. They didn't want him. They only wanted what he had. He knew they lied. They couldn't see he was already dead. And even if he had been the stupidest of the stupid he wasn't that dumb. He roared at them to leave him be. But still they kept coming.

She came. She begged and pleaded with him to come home but he knew she didn't really want him to. He was home. So she yelled at him for making them worry. She blamed him for the fight getting out of hand. For the destruction he'd left in his wake. For the injuries they'd gotten. For things he didn't understand. People who were upset by his being here. Since he couldn't move on, he didn't know what to do. What she expected him to do about it. In the end he'd said nothing and she'd gone away crying. She always cried but her tears were fake. They always were. The only ones she really cried for was the Prince and herself. The stupid power hungry orphan prince must have run out of whipping boys again for them to come after him now. But he couldn't go back. He was dead. He knew he was.

Others came. Each with a different look. A different costume. They talked to him. Left him food and clothes. He didn't understand them. He heard them but he didn't understand. Some tried to force him to go with them. But he fought back. Roaring out his pain and defiance, he denied them. As he had been denied. He had no desire to fight anymore. No will to live. All he wanted was to pass on. To leave this world behind.

He didn't know the beast had faded and all his visitors only saw the young boy he had been growing shaggy and unkempt. His tattered orange jumpsuit hung in strips off his lanky frame, barley recognizable from before his fight. He lost his sense of humanity. He lost the ability to understand the words his visitors said but it didn't matter. He understood his thoughts. He knew what he was doing. He watched the seasons turn and roared at his unwanted visitors but didn't move from his cave. He would wait here forever if need be. There had to be a reason why he hadn't moved on. A reason why his corpse was stuck here in his mind.