Summary: AU Pickpocketing and stealing are the only things Naruto knows to survive in the busy streets of Konoha. But what happens when she stole a wallet from the wrong guy, namely Uchiha Sasuke? What does fate have in stored for these two? SasuFemNaru
Pairings: SasuFemNaru, LeeSaku
Warnings: Language, Sexual terms, Violence
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Thieving Gets You Nowhere
She always had hated the rain from almost as far back as she could remember. Maybe her hatred of the rain began thirteen years ago. Yes, that was probably the event that triggered her loathing of the life giving drops. For it had been raining the day the orphanage finally kicked her out, the day she had been scarred for life.
Shivering, the now seventeen year old Naruto stood beneath the awning of the small pawn shop located in the downtown area of the thriving metropolis. She loathed this city with a passion, but she knew deep down inside she would never be able to leave it. This was the only place where she could make her living doing the only thing she knew how. Pushing her short, choppy, and lank blonde bangs out of her face, she fingered the cash in her other hand, silently adding it to the little bit she had stashed away. Math seemed to be the only school subject she had ever found a use for. To put it short, her schooling was limited.
"Eighteen dollars," she muttered disgustedly as she rolled the three five-dollar and three one-dollar bills together and shoved them into the side pocket of her tattered khaki shorts. "Eighteen lousy dollars for that damn ring. And I thought the piece of shit would be worth at least fifty." Sighing, she realized that even with the thirteen she had in her other pocket it would not be enough. But, then again, she never had enough. Such was the way things went when you lived on the streets.
She turned as she heard the bell over the pawn shop door behind her ring only to find the large, burly owner glaring at her. "Look, girlie, if you don't have any business here, don't be standing here. You're scaring away my customers," he said in a low voice, putting a fake smile on his round, ruddy face as a potential patron walked past. As soon as the man had passed, the owner turned back to Naruto, glaring. "What are you still doing here? Now scram!"
"Bastard," she mumbled under her breath as she took a step out from under the awning and into the rain. Looking up, she saw the dark torrents of water falling relentlessly from the night sky, soaking her almost instantly to the bone. Her thin, tattered clothes did little to keep the moisture out and the cool, night air, considerably chillier because of the rain, soon caused her shivering to increase drastically.
With water running through her hair and down her face, she crossed her arms protectively over her chest and took off across the street, being narrowly missed by the approaching and seemingly never ceasing traffic of the city. She ignored the angrily honking horns and stepped onto the opposite sidewalk, thankful for the protection this block length awning provided from the rain.
Falling into the small crowd that had formed, she busily worked her way through them to start on her walk home, picking a few pockets as she went. A girl had to get by somehow, she had always reasoned, knowing that there wasn't much choice for someone like her, a street rat as she had been branded by countless people. Of course, she had plans for when she finally got enough money together.
She reached into her last pocket of the evening and pulled out the black leather wallet, slipping it into her own pocket with the other items she had stolen before someone noticed her holding onto it. The last thing she needed was a rain-soaked chase through the streets. She had no doubt that she could lose any pursuers within the maze of alleys the city provided, but she was simply too tired to want to go through the effort.
Feeling herself being watched, she quickly looked up and noticed dark obsidian eyes, glaring at her as the owner of said eyes tentatively reached into his back pocket.
"Shit," she muttered under her breath as she began sprinting at top speed and hoped to put enough distance between them that she would be able to lose him quickly.
"Hey, get back here!" the man called in a deep baritone, immediately starting after her and pushing through the crowds.
Naruto spared a quick glance over her shoulder to see that he was gaining on her, his legs pumping seemingly effortlessly. Obviously, he worked out, not the typical desk jockey she had taken him for.
"Perfect," she panted, increasing her pace and turning sharply to the right to cut through the alley. The man closely followed her into the alley, believing he had her cornered as he saw the high fence at the end of the alley. He bent over, his hands resting on his upper legs as he panted slightly.
"Now, give me back my wallet and I won't turn you into the cops," he finally said as he caught his breath, standing up straight and brushing the black bangs of his wet hair out of his eyes.
Deciding it might be in her best interest to play along for the moment to catch him off guard, Naruto looked at the ground in a sign of submission and put on her most repentant face. Yes, she had spent countless hours in front of department store windows practicing this face in the reflection.
"I'm sorry, mister," she muttered softly, her head still lowered but peaking through her blonde bangs to watch him. "But, this is the only way for me to get by. And what with my parents and five little brothers all being sick, it's up to me to get enough money together to pay for food." She briefly wondered if she was laying it on too thick, but quickly dismissed that thought as she saw a flicker of sympathy cross his face. As she watched, she could see his resolve slowly melting and he began to walk slowly down the alley towards her.
"Look, just give me the wallet. There's nothing in there, anyways," he said, this time a little more gently than he had previously. He reached his hand out slowly, as though she were some strange dog that might bite at any moment.
Suddenly, her head shot up, a large foxy grin coming across her face as she darted to the left and jumped on top of a large dumpster and then gracefully leaped onto the edge of the fence.
"You, my good friend, have been duped by The Great Uzumaki Naruto. Consider it a compliment," she called from her position before bounding to the other side of the fence and leaving him alone in the alley. Running, she could have sworn she heard the sound of something hitting the dumpster and then a loud string of curses.
"They're all the same," she muttered as she slowed to a trot and glanced over her shoulder to make sure she wasn't being followed. "Every damn one of them."
A few quick turns to the left soon brought her to an abandoned warehouse, the one place she had actually lived for more than a month at a time since the orphanage kicked her out. The blonde haired girl wearily slipped through the broken window on the building's side and slowly climbed up the stairs to the attic where she kept her few belongings. The attic was the only place she truly felt safe.
A small overturned wooden crate served as a makeshift table and she immediately dumped the contents of her pockets onto it. Sorting through the items she had procured during her evening run, she set the wallets aside. She always did them last, telling herself she was saving the best for last.
But it was a lie.
The wallets rarely had more than twenty in cash and the credit cards were virtually useless to her unless she sold them, something she had yet to resort to. Usually, she would break the cards up and throw them in her trash pile. Shaking her head, she knew people would never believe she did that. After all, she was a thief. Little did most people know, but some thieves still had honour.
She nearly scoffed at the word. It was her supposed honour that kept her living on the streets. In all her time as a thief, she had never stolen from anyone who looked as though they couldn't afford to lose a little cash. It was something she could never bring herself to do. She didn't know where her honour came from but she silently cursed whatever kamis had bestowed it upon her. She dearly wished to be like the other thieves she knew, those who had no remorse and were able to live better than she ever could with her honour.
Going back to the task at hand, she realized that most of the jewelry she had taken was worthless, most of it cheap imitations of the real thing. That only left the wallets. And it was just a small pile of wallets. She had only managed to pick up three before that man had discovered his was missing. Remembering his expression of shock when she had jumped onto the fence, she laughed softly. It was something she would have to remember for when she was feeling lower than usual.
She decided to save his wallet for last, grabbing a light tan coloured one and dumping its contents onto the crate. Sighing, she realized the man she had taken this from was only carrying around a couple dollars. The rest of his wallet was full of credit cards, receipts, and business cards. She set the credit cards aside to be disposed of before reaching for the next one.
This one was even less empty than the previous as it had no money, one credit card, a driver's license, and a slip of paper with a phone number. Biting her lip, she tossed the wallet over her shoulder in disgust and put her head in her hands. Tonight's salary was even less than she had hoped for.
But, there was still one wallet left. Picking up the faded black leather wallet, she briefly wondered why the man chasing her was so adamant about getting it back if it indeed had nothing in it like he said.
"He must've been lying, that son of a bitch," she whispered softly as she greedily unfolded the wallet and expected to find it full of cash. She dropped her head to the crate with a loud 'thud' when she realized that there was no cash in the wallet. Only his driver's license, two credit cards, and a few pictures.
Bored, she began to pick through the faded photos, noticing that nearly all of them had the same four people in them. One in particular sparked her interest. It was a typical family photograph: the father appeared strict and commanding while the mother smiled with kindness and love, a complete contrast to one another. There stood two other boys, the owner of the wallet looked like he was the younger of the two siblings. Another photograph was of the two brothers, the younger one smiling happily as he clung onto his brother's neck, the older one looking irritated at his sibling's antics.
"So this is why he wanted the wallet back?" Naruto asked herself, glancing over a few more of the pictures. "Just for these pictures?" Slipping them back into the wallet, she pulled out the driver's license and stared at his picture.
"Okay, teme, let's see what your name is." Naruto momentarily wondered why she was so curious about this man. Normally, she would never bother looking at the personal items in a wallet she had stolen. It put a face with one of her victims and usually made her guilt-ridden. But, something about this man drew her in. Something made her curious. She couldn't explain it. Reading his name aloud, she frowned. "Uchiha Sasuke? ..Now where have I heard that name before?"
Giving up on the enigma that was this Uchiha Sasuke, she put all his stuff back into the wallet and closed it. Unlike with most other wallets, she found herself unable to throw this one away. Maybe it was because she was intrigued by how much these pictures apparently meant to him. Or maybe she was just getting sentimental as she grew older. She didn't know. Nor did she care.
She stood up slowly, finding herself still shivering slightly from her wet attire. Crossing the room, she pulled out the ugly orange jacket she had found only a month before and slipped it around her body. It had indeed been a lucky day when she had come across this jacket. Very rarely did she ever find anything worth keeping in the local dumpsters. She usually had to rely upon stealing things from unattended clotheslines, which were few and far between in the city.
Her eyes drooping as fatigue hit her, she lay down upon the pallet she had made from anything soft she could find and pulled the tattered blanket around her. Ignoring her rumbling stomach with practiced ease, she soon found herself in her nightmarish world of slumber. Most people had the luxury of having good dreams. But, not Naruto. In her dreams, she always relived her past. More specifically, she always watched her brutal assault over and over again…
"Get out of here, you damn monster! GET OUT AND NEVER COME BACK!"
The orphan owner's words still rang through a four year old Naruto's ears as she felt the sudden heavy rain pour colliding onto her tan skin. She turned around, only to see the door, the place where she spent the four years of her life, rejected her like all the other people she knew. She godlily stood up, the ache from the violent toss in her being slowly subsiding, not that she cared anymore.
What's a little girl to do, with no parents, no family, and now no home (if you can call that place a home)? She didn't even know why she got kicked out. It wasn't her fault. The other kids burned down the kitchen, not her. But, like always, the caretaker sides with them instead of her.
Why did they always bully her around? She tried being nice to them, tried to be their friend, but they always glared at her with those icy glowering eyes. Is it because of her scarred cheeks? Is it because of her dirty clothes? She didn't know…
With no where to go, she clutched the small stuffed fox more tightly in her arms for comfort, now trudging along the streets of Konoha. She was kind of glad that it was raining. Nobody could see the tears streaming down her face.
"It's raining so hard.. I can't see anything…" Naruto mumbled to herself, turning blindly to a narrow passageway, only to be knocked down to the ground by a hulking figure several seconds later. She gazed up to see an annoyed man swaying a bit, holding a paper bag that's shaped like a glass bottle. With bloodshot eyes, he looked down at her, slurring as he said, "Oi! Watch where you're going, you fag!"
Standing up again, Naruto lowered her head so she wouldn't come eye-to-eye with the imitating stranger. "I'm sorry…"
She was about to turn around and leave the alleyway, until a rough hand spun her around, grabbing her shirt, slamming her against the brick wall. Naruto cried out in pain, seeing white stars in front of her line of vision. With difficulty, she cracked her eyes open, only to be sent craning back as a fist crashed directly onto the side of her face. The abrupt assault knocked out all the air out of her lungs, making her released the stuffed animal she was holding. Naruto felt a large purple bruise already forming around her cheekbone, tasting a coppery flavor in her mouth.
The man, still having a firm grip on her, leaned forward, whispering threateningly into her ear, "I don't like that tone, bitch."
Naruto yelped in agony as he tightened his hold on her, severely cutting her breathing. Hearing her pain, he chuckled. "It's not very lucky for you that I'm pissed off as hell right now." Naruto had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"And I really need to release my anger..."
In slow motion it seemed, Naruto watched in terror as her attacker reached into his pocket, pulling out a switchblade and aimed it at her. Her blue eyes widened in fear. 'No, NO! I don't want to die!'
He lifted up his weapon, sending it crashing down on her heart. But just in time, Naruto put her arms up in defense against the blow. A sharp searing pain bubbled up where her arm was, earning a piercing cry from the injured girl. But nobody heard her cries of help, no one but her and her assailant. No one was going to save her…
A warm liquid trickled down her arm, making soft 'plops' on the pavement, only to be washed away in a matter of seconds. Realization suddenly dawned on her. Blood. Her blood. She was bleeding.
Still drunk, the man wrenched his knife out of Naruto's arm with a grunt, receiving an anguishing scream from his victim. "Damn bitch. Now I'm going to make you wish that you were dead."
She couldn't stop what was coming next. The cursing. The slashing. The.. blood. Yes, the blood. It was like someone was watching this gruesome scene, keeping on rewinding over and over again. She pray this was all just a dream, a horrible, horrible dream. That she'll wake up in the orphanage and continued her dreary life like always. But, no. Every scream, every bruise she'd taken serves as a painful reminder that this is all real, that she wasn't dead. Well, at least she thinks not yet. Besides, heaven can't be this agonizing.
Abruptly, the beating stopped, the knife backed off. Was the deed done? Was she now in heaven? Her limp body stayed levitated in the air, but she felt like she's moving, …gliding. Yes, this has to be heaven, waiting for her to fly up to its distilled sanctuary and be welcomed with open arms. But, all she felt was being thrown ruthlessly into a pile of putrid remains of spoiled food and crumbled paper. Like a rag doll… a sad broken rag doll. The lid slammed shut above her, cutting off any reminisce of light still available. Heaven was so far out of her reach…
Naruto didn't know how long she'd stayed bleeding in the dumpster. All she remembered was waking up, noticing all her cuts were dried as she stumbled out of her odorous bed, staggering as she walked over and picked up her stuffed fox…her only friend. Making her way between a few abandoned crates, she squeezed in between them, slumbering off until her weariness fades away.
Jolting awake, Naruto sat up on her makeshift bed and drew her knees up so she could wrap her arms tightly around her legs. She gently rocked back and forth in the bed as the memory of her near-death experience replayed again in her mind. Nervously, she inspected her arm, seeing nothing but grime on her smooth skin.
"…It's so weird… There's no wound… anymore…but…" She placed her arm on her cheek, silent tears flowing down her face. "It still hurts.. so much…"
Beginning to shiver, she realized that not only was she covered in the sweat that normally accompanied her nightmares but also that her clothing was still soaked from the rain earlier. A drop of water falling on top of her head caused her to look up and grimace when she realized that the roof was beginning to leak.
"Perfect," she muttered, slowly standing up and dragging her pallet across the dusty floor to the other side of the room. This was the fourth leak in the past week her 'home' had developed and if they kept showing up, she knew she would have to find another place to stay.
Climbing back onto the bed, she dug around in her various threadbare blankets until she found what she was looking for: an old bedraggled stuffed fox, nearly falling apart at the seams. Its once fluffy orange fur had become a flat, matted mess and it stared lifelessly at its owner through one lone button eye that was barely hanging on by a mere thread. Naruto hugged the fox to her chest and lay down upon her bed, soundless tears welling up in her eyes before spilling their dams and streaming down her whiskered-marked cheeks yet again.
"Goodnight, Kyuu," she whispered to the fox, ignoring the chiding voice in the back of her mind that told her she was too old for stuffed animals. Another violent shiver racked her frame and she curled herself into a fetal position, pulling the blankets tighter around herself and praying to whatever kamis would listen for a dreamless sleep for once.