Touch me and die

It wasn't that he killed you for touching him. He wished it were that simple. It was that touching him let the other kill you. Naruto hated his power.

Naruto woke up in a cold sweat, screaming. That damn nightmare again. All of his friends asking him why he wore the gloves, and why he wore a mask. Naruto tried to get them leave, but they got closer, and closer. They took of his gloves and took his hands.

Naruto watched in horror as, one by one, each of his friends touched his hands, and then looked at him in surprise and terror as their eyes flashed red and their bodies slumped to the ground, dead.

Sakura. Ino. Kiba. Shikamaru. Gaara. Ero-sennin. And all his other friends. As the ones not yet dead stepped over the bodies of their dead comrades, they asked him, their faces sad and their voices plaintive, "Why, Naruto? Why would you do such a thing?"

Naruto had awoken, screaming, "It wasn't me! It wasn't me! You have to believe me!"

Stumbling into the bathroom, Naruto looked at himself in the mirror. Dark circles hung under his eyes, almost a permanent fixture now. He looked like Gaara had, before Akatsuki had taken Shukaku.

Shuddering, Naruto turned to look at the clock in the bathroom. 6:54. He would have been getting up soon anyway. Even if he had woken up so often that he wasn't sure if he had slept for even an hour, he had to go on the mission.

Anymore, it was the only way to keep away that terrible hunger. Naruto knew exactly how Gaara had felt. Only Naruto felt it even more so. That hunger for death, for blood, for slaughter. And it was so easy. So easy. Too easy.

Kyuubi hungered, and therefore, his host also hungered. But with every kill, the hunger came back stronger, and sooner. Soon Naruto was demanding missions every day. Any mission where there might be a chance for combat. Any mission where he could find some excuse for killing.

Naruto had been a good person, once. He remembered, long ago, when he had been in the Academy. His mask and gloves had set him apart form everyone else, but it was just a precaution. Having learned from experience that physical contact with anyone was lethal for them, and caused that terrible dark laughter and howling in his mind, Naruto took care to avoid it.

But he couldn't always hide. The villagers hated the demon child, and some chased him to try and beat him. It had been terrible, that first night that Naruto had been attacked. Not because he was hurt so badly, but because it had been so terrifying, that some of Naruto's nightmares still depicted the aftermath of that night.

Over a dozen villagers lying dead in a pile. Each face had a different amount of fear and surprise, but all had been totally shocked to suddenly find themselves overmatched in some mysterious way.

The first had been the man who decided that they should see the marks they were leaving on Naruto's skin. He tried to remove Naruto's shirt, and inadvertently touched Naruto's skin. His eyes flashed red, and he dropped like a rock. That terrible, dark laughter erupted all around them, but only Naruto seemed to hear it. Another man, accusing the demon of killing the first man, grabbed Naruto throat to throttle him, and promptly fell, also dead. The other villagers, frightened, began to back away.

Something within Naruto knew that if they villagers got away, he would never be safe again. The ninja would hunt him down, and kill him. The dark shadow in his mind refused to even consider such an option, and urged him on.

Kill... kill them all... taste their flesh and drink their blood...

Naruto found himself unable to disobey. Spurred by the double urging of his instinct for survival, and the black urging of the other, Naruto had grabbed all of them, knowing that it would kill them.

Resisting the horrific impulse to consume their bodies, Naruto had piled them in an abandoned building and set them on fire.

Shaking his head to remove such thoughts, Naruto put on his ANBU uniform, his gloves, and his mask, and departed for the Hokage tower. Surely there was some mission where he could take a life. Or find an excuse to do so. It had been almost two days since he had last killed, and Naruto could feel the sickening hunger building within him, growing in intensity. If he didn't satiate it soon, he might lose control, like he had in Wave.

Naruto shuddered at the memory. Before that mission, he had never really felt the power of the hunger, because he was frequently followed by villagers angry about the Kyuubi. This happened so often that Naruto inadvertently killed someone at least once a month. Back then, that had been often enough to satisfy the hunger.

But on the mission to Wave, Naruto's had become aware of the horrible hunger. The dark urge to kill. Someone. Anyone. Was Sakura looking the other way? The voice urged him to take advantage of her distraction. Was Sasuke staring into the fire, brooding? The voice told him to attack from behind. Was Kakashi standing close by, demonstrating the seals for a technique, or handing him a kunai or some other item? The shadow in his mind told Naruto just how easy it would be to kill him right there.

But it was Tazuna that caused Naruto the most trouble. By the day that Zabuza had attacked, Naruto was getting hourly urges, each stronger than the last, to surprise the old man and kill him. It would be so easy. He wasn't even a ninja.

Naruto had almost lost control. Fortunately, Zabuza's sneak attack had distracted Naruto long enough to forget about the hunger. After the hunter-nin, who they later found out was a fake named Haku, took Zabuza, the hunger had returned, twice as urgent and constantly present in his mind.

No longer could Naruto look around him casually. Without even willing it, he looked at every movement of his teammates, judging whether it would let him jump for the kill.

By the time they finally got to Wave, Naruto was desperate. He didn't want to kill. The villagers had been accidents. That was one thing. But that wasn't going to happen out here. And all the civilians in the village were so tempting. Naruto could no longer sleep well. Every breath brought the scent of a nearby person who Naruto could kill. He kept waking up, and smelling that delectable aroma of human flesh.

Inhale. Kakashi sensei was reading Icha Icha, he would never notice. Exhale. Inhale. Sasuke was brooding and staring at a tree; he would never see it coming.

And so it went on. Until one day Zabuza and Haku attacked on the bridge. The attack allowed him to ignore his hunger for a few minutes. But after Sasuke appeared to have died, Naruto rage and his hunger removed all his inhibitions. He removed his right glove, and, glowing red with the Kyuubi's chakra, he had dashed at blinding speed into the mirror Haku was in, and shattered it into pieces. Before Haku could even cry out in surprise, Naruto had reached out with his naked hand and grabbed Haku by the throat, closing the distance between the Kyuubi's cage and the unfortunate ice-wielder. This time, Naruto was fully aware as Kyuubi reached out and wrenched Haku's soul from his body.

A red flash flickered from beneath the hunter-nin mask, and Haku collapsed to the ground. Naruto heard the dark laughter, and recognized it now as coming from within. But it had been so long since his last kill that this was not enough. It had barely whetted his appetite. And so Naruto almost let out an audible growl when Kakashi finished Zabuza before Naruto could kill him, too.

But all was well. Gato attacked with a large army of thugs. Naruto grabbed his right glove and stuck it in a pocket for later. Right now, he was hungry.

The ANBU named Naruto walked into the Hokage's office, causing the busty blonde leader of Konoha to let out a heavy sigh. Naruto was like a machine, anymore. Mission, mission, mission. Naruto had barely completed one before he was demanding another. And she could hardly afford to deny him. They had a lot of missions now.

But it was the kind of mission he requested that bothered her most of all. Assassination missions. Missions to eliminate groups of bandits, to kill bands of missing-nin, and the like. Always. And even when he went on other missions, he had the disturbing tendency to seek out and kill any nearby hostiles, even if the enemies hadn't planned to do anything to interfere with Naruto's missions.

Tsunade glanced at a nearby report. A group of sound-nins had been found, massacred, in the forests north of the location of Naruto last mission, two days ago. Naruto's mission had just been to retrieve a scroll from an informant. But the blonde ANBU had gone several miles out of the way of his route to the informant and destroyed a regiment of Oto-nin. Five jounin and two chuunin. From the investigators report, the corpses had been mutilated almost beyond recognition. They were covered in cuts, bruised, claw marks, and, most disturbing of all, teeth marks.

There were no carnivorous animals of that size in that area.

Although Tsunade had no direct evidence of Naruto's involvment, she suspected. But she couldn't complain, especially since the council now supported Naruto's every request. Tsunade wasn't sure, but she thought it was because Naruto always chose the most dangerous missions, and because the council was pleased to find him to be the weapon they had failed to convince Sarutobi to make him years ago.

Naruto cleared his throat, and spoke, his voice only slightly muffled by the mask. "I am ready for my next mission, Baa-chan."

Tsunade heard the playful tone in his voice, and almost doubted her earlier suspicions. But either way, there were a lot of mission to be done, and almost no one else wanted this sort, besides Anko, and so, with a heavy heart, she explained the mission to Naruto.

The blonde ANBU grinned under his mask as Baa-chan explained the mission. Assassination! And of several people! And these people had guards! Plenty of people to sate the hunger for another day. Maybe he could even stretch his mission out over several days, and savor the kills. No sense wasting them all in one day's feeding.

Naruto turned to leave once he understood the mission, but was stopped by Tsunade's voice.

"Naruto, please, don't do anything too terrible."

He looked back at here, reading the accusation in her eyes. He couldn't deny it, so he only nodded and walked out of the room. But he felt bad. Almost as bad as he had felt on that day, so long ago...

Naruto had followed Sasuke to a place he had heard of once before in class. The Valley of the End. Sasuke finally turned around to face him. "I won't go back to Konoha, Naruto. I need this power, the power to fulfill my dreams. You should understand, dobe."

Naruto didn't answer, but not because he agreed. He had been called for this mission at the last minute, and he wasn't prepared. He hadn't fed in almost a week, and he could almost hear Sasuke's blood rushing through his veins, and feel the pull of that life.

Kyuubi's dark urgings didn't help his self control.

No one has to know. It was an accident. He wouldn't cooperate. Besides, he's already a traitor. The penalty for that is death. So kill him! Feed on his flesh! Drink his blood!

No... He's my best friend. I can't...

But even Naruto knew he sounded weak. The two genin fought, Naruto calling on Kyuubi's chakra, which Kyuubi reluctantly gave even though Naruto had said he wouldn't kill Sasuke.

In retrospect, Naruto supposed it might also have been because Kyuubi knew he wouldn't be able to resist. Of course he hadn't. Sasuke had been poking at Naruto with inflammatory comments the whole fight, and after a particularly harsh jab concerning Sakura, Naruto lost it.

In the few seconds that he lived after Naruto took of his gloves, Sasuke never figured out why Naruto wore them. It was not until Naruto had feinted with a kick and grabbed Sasuke's face, that the Uchiha understood.

For a brief instant. Sasuke saw Naruto's eyes flash to the red, slitted orbs of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. And then he felt a sudden jerk, deep inside, and his body slumped to the ground, dead.

Naruto stared in horror at the lifeless husk that had once been his best friend and rival. It was then that he finally realized there was no going back. He couldn't resist the hunger. He would have to make sure and stay away from his friends.

And so, for the rest of his life, Naruto loved his friends. He loved them so much that he avoided them, he shunned them, he mocked them, and he drove them away. Eventually, they stopped trying, and Naruto, felt pleased, even as his heart ached within him. He had to protect them. He had to protect them.

And he had to protect the village. He couldn't go on killing people in Konoha if he wanted to be Hokage, even though that dream was a far-off fairy tale by now. And so he applied for and was accepted into ANBU. And he frequently applied for, and often got, these missions to kill someone. Anyone. As long as they were an enemy. Naruto desperately hoped that there would always be enemies.

Naruto hated his power. Naruto hated the Kyuubi. And every day, as he hid in the shadows, drinking the blood from his latest kill, he would think of his friends, from so long ago, and wonder what they were doing.

He wondered, because he had not seen them in years. He couldn't see them, for fear of killing them. For fear that his hunger would overpower him, and his would reach out and take another life, all to easily.

And when he thought of them, he tried to remember what it was like to have friends. Because he couldn't have friends. Every friend he had ever had, and had not pushed away out of fear, had inevitably died. In just one instant of lapse, he would reach out and take a life.

Suddenly, he realized, he no longer had friends. Even Baa-chan was a stranger. He dared not bring her closer. And Ero-sennin, and Kakashi, and all the others.

Naruto walked a high and lonely path. He only hoped that what he did could help those who were once his friends. He could only hope.

Naruto was alone. Alone with the dark voice, and his constant hunger, and his ever-deepening sense of guilt and despair.

Naruto was so very alone.

So... yeah. Tell me what you think.