Live on

As the host, Naruto could not ever resist the demon's stronger urges. Strongest of all is the will to survive. And so Naruto will do anything, anything at all to keep going. Whatever it takes, no matter the cost, so that he can live on. Dark One-shot

It started when he was young, when the villagers still occasionally got away with their attempts on his life.

Naruto hated those stupid people, always calling him a demon, when all he did was pull a few harmless pranks. Granted, painting the Hokage monument may have been a tad disrespectful, but if the ninja didn't mind, why would the villagers?

Naruto wanted to hit them back, to stand up for himself, even though he had no chance. But he couldn't. He could never stand up against them. Once it became clear that he was in trouble, his body no longer responded to his own commands, except those that took him farther away from the danger. Farther and faster and higher and safer.

Naruto could never confront the villagers, because the other wouldn't let him. And so he had to live with it for his entire childhood.



Scared little boy.

And he couldn't deny the, just as he couldn't deny the overwhelming urge to flee from every danger.

It wasn't until the day of graduation that he was even aware of another option. He failed the test, of course, since he hadn't paid a whit of attention during the schoolyear, and he failed the practical because the bunshin was his worst jutsu.

So of course he took Mizuki up on his offer. That night, he stole the scroll, using his super-effective Sexy no Jutsu on the old man Hokage to get away, and waited out in the forest for Mizuki to arrive.

While he waited, he taught himself the Kage Bunshin. A technique similar to the bunshin, but for some reason, much easier.

Then things got a little complicated.

Mizuki showed up and asked for the scroll, but as soon as he did, Iruka arrived and warned him not to. Stunned, Naruto wasn't sure what to do.

Mizuki attacked Iruka, disabling him with a single hit from an oversized shuriken, and then turned to Naruto.

The blonde child waited for the familiar racing of his pulse. It did not disappoint him. As always, adrenaline rushed through his system, and his body shivered in anticipation. At any time now, the irresistible urge would hit him like a lead hammer. The urge to run away, as far and as fast as he could

But something was different. His vision clouded over in a slight red haze. His fingers curled into fists, and he heard a low growl emanate from his chest. Hatred suddenly surged through him, invigorating, motivating. Naruto wanted to rip Mizuki to shreds, to kill him in a thousand different ways.

The other seemed to agree, and for the first time in his life, Naruto felt no fear. No need to run. His muscles did not betray him when he formed the clones, his mind did not fog with fear when he leapt to attack, and his body did not resist when he threw the first punch.

Or the second. Or the fifth. Or the thousandth.

Standing over the broken body of Mizuki, his body slowly came down from its aggressive high, his muscles trembling with the gradual release of tension.

Naruto was only half-aware when Iruka promoted him to genin. The other half was dancing for joy, that he had not run away this time. For the first time ever, Naruto had stood and fought.

When Zabuza attacked, Naruto's heart raced into overdrive. The familiar pulse of the other flowed through him. Each beat of his heart spoke to him

Run. Run. Run. Run.

As Kakashi fought Zabuza, the fear only increased. Clearly this man was far beyond Naruto's abilities. He was a threat. A danger. He could kill us.

Unaware of his slip, Naruto took a step back. And another. Soon he was several feet behind Tazuna, Sasuke and Sakura. His ever-increasing heart rate frantically shouted at him.

Run. Run. Run. Run.

Then Zabuza captured Kakashi, and summoned his water clones. The clones promptly began to stalk towards the genin and their ward, while Kakashi yelled for them to run away. The voice from within agreed only to quickly.

Run. Run. Runrunrunrunrunrunrunrun!

Naruto turned to run, but was stopped when a hand landed on his shoulder. Ripping away, Naruto saw Sasuke looking at him with his usual contempt. "Running away, dobe? We can do this."

Then the Uchiha's eyes widened in terror, looking straight into Naruto's eyes.

Naruto was unaware of Sasuke anymore. It's too late. The clones are too close. I can't out run them and they're going to kill us and there's no way I can escape from them and so we have to fight them and KILL THEM AND SHOW THEM THE TRUE POWER OF-

Red fury exploded from Naruto like it was real energy, making everyone in the area trip on their own feet.

Unable to run, the other was forced to fight. And so he lent Naruto his strength, his anger, his indomitable will to LIVE.

And Naruto did not disappoint.

It was long after the strange hunter-nin took the body away before Naruto could calm down. And it was longer after that before Naruto could stop the twitching of his muscles, still pulsing with the rage and fear of the other.

It was at the bridge that Naruto first felt the true power of the other, who had always remained nameless. The true, irresistible force of its will to live on, in spite of all other obligations.

Naruto had to protect Tazuna. He was prepared to give his life in defense of the old man. This was a mission. But when Haku aimed the needles at him, the other took over. Naruto found himself dodging before he had even decided what to do.

Fortunately, the senbon barely missed the old man, but the implications were obvious. Naruto stared down at his own body, which had betrayed him into moving away from his duty. But the other would not hand over control now. Even though Naruto controlled his body, the reflexes and the primal urge to FLEE made him shake and fall to his knees.

But the boy Haku was fast, and it soon became clear that Naruto could not escape. No matter where he ran, the boy followed. No matter how fast he sprinted, the boy was in front of him, needles at the ready.

The other's patience ran out, and he changed his plans. Running won't work, so the other option is to kill.

Instantly, all of Naruto's anxious energy was redirected into hatred and violence. Haku was almost caught in a furious flurry of fists and feet, as Naruto responded to the siren's call to battle.

When the needles flew at his face, to fast to be avoided, the other knocked them away. This was serious. This was real. This was over.

Not even trying to resist, Naruto lunged to attack, claws fully extended in preparation. So focused was he, that he never stopped, then or later, to think about where the claws had come from.

But Haku was smart. Ninja always had to complete their objectives, and so the best way to stay safe was to hide behind the old man.

Quickly grabbing him to use as a shield, Haku smirked underneath his mask. Now he would have time to make a plan, and to

Naruto shredded right through Tazuna and Haku in a single slash of his red claws. Both of them fell to the ground, bleeding from massive wounds to their sides and stomachs. Both of them soon crossed over to the other side.

But although, intellectually, Naruto knew this was in violation of his mission, he could not feel any remorse. Any regret. He couldn't make himself care about the loss of the old bridge builder. The only thing he could feel was the incredible joy of being ALIVE. The wonderful ability to live on. And on. And on.

In the valley of the end, Sasuke knew just how it would end.

Naruto would aim to kill, but back off at the last second. Probably aim for the hitai-ate, to make a scratch there and prove Sasuke wrong. The Uchiha smiled. That would be his chance to finish of the dobe once and for all.

But it didn't happen that way. Sasuke was right, though he wouldn't have known it, right up to the point where Naruto decided to back off, only to find that he couldn't. Sasuke might kill him. Naruto might die.

In a flash of realization, Naruto forgot about his mission. Forgot about his promise to Sakura-chan. Forgot about his team. Forgot about his duty.

As he flew through the air, Rasengan outstretched, Naruto snarled and aimed for the heart.

He had to make sure that Sasuke was down, to ensure his own safety. He had to save himself. He had to live on.

It was not long after that Naruto was taken out of active duty as a ninja, and given more menial tasks around the village. Few and far between were his missions outside the walls of Konoha. He just wasn't reliable. At any given moment, he would drop anything and everything in order to survive. He wouldn't give his life for the village. Hell, he wouldn't even risk it for the village. He was not a true shinobi.

And when his list of treacheries grew too long, leaving his teammates behind to die on his last mission outside, in order to save his own skin, he was scheduled for assassination.

But Naruto had a strong will to live. The other, who Naruto never learned more about, had a strong will to live. And so when Konoha turned against him, a threat from which Naruto could not run...

Naruto ensured that, no matter what, he would live on.

And that's it for now. If you're wondering, Naruto does not know about the Kyuubi because Mizuki didn't tell him, and every time he uses the demon's chakra, he's too focused on living to notice much else. Or that's my excuse, anyway.

Let me know what you think, okay?