Disclaimer: You know it.


In which a boy broke and did not die…


He always meant to go home. But as much as he was titling and spinning and falling it was inevitable that intentions and actions took different turns.

But if he was honest and he wasn't—not really, not always—it might just have been rage. Or perhaps it wasn't. He didn't know and if he did he was very good at pretending otherwise.

It wasn't just rage in any case; not when he knew defeat and bitterness and scorn and—dare he say it—hate. It was all that and desperation fueled by horror and dread and—someone, anyone—vulnerable hurt.

So although he always meant to go home he was very much fearful that the moment he saw familiar Gates he'd finally go mad. That was a promise his body made even as his mind fell into a jittery mess saying nononononono and why won't it end? And they wouldn't know—couldn't image the truth made an hour/day/year/lifetime ago.

He really had meant to go home.


Or maybe not.

He'd never wanted what he'd been given and hated everything he hadn't. He really couldn't swallow the poison—believe it!

Once more.

Smile for me.

Suffer for me.

Prove the better person.

Would it end now?

Do you promise?


Promises made to him were never worth the breath wasted in their uttering.

You were wrong Youdaime. You were wrong jiji. You were wrong ero-sennin. You were wrong but the dead have no shame left in them—did they have any to begin with? Dust and ashes and living chakra, did you see the trail of infant blood or was it just a dream?

Fitting then.

A life that had no beginning—how could it when name and blood and clan were denied him?—should then have no ending—parents? I don't know my boy; they must have died in the Kyuubi attack.

Forever and ever and ever.

Left breaking and falling and shattering and—didn't you promise one day it would stop?—this was cursed fate.

He had always meant to go home.

That was his only thought centuries/years/months/days ago. That was his last dream even as his body broke/shattered/fell apart. Alive and dead and caught in between as men in red clouds and black skies took his burden.

Goodbye demon fox.

Was it really so awful to have one precious/beautiful/bright/living second when he wasn't dying under a nine-tailed nightmare? Eighteen years of red-shadow death for one second of finally being alone.

It wasn't so bad to die then; wasn't so bad to finally leave it all behind.

Hadn't he been brave? Hadn't he believed in people? Loved them? Fought for them? Never blamed them? Even when he was crying/yelling/faltering and seeing the nothing born of something?

And hadn't anyone realized? No one had ever said thank you. His life—existence—was not among Kami's gifts; not when it was perverted to fit the desires of frightened men.

And not even his enemies would give him what his allies didn't—not so different after all. They tore his body apart, broke the seal, and took the last of bijuus into their dreams. But they were kind.

And this was their gift: they never looked away as he faltered in the middle of their circle; died in a cave with no name and no light. They saw him when so few people ever had.

But even for all their power they were still human and silly and blind.


Stupid of them not to keep watching. They should have. Shinobi had already proven the unnaturalness of their imagination—even the dead could lash past the grave.

And this was Kyuubi's gift: eighteen years and only six scars to mark the time. Never ill and never anything but physically perfect in all that time. This everyone had vaguely realized but never really considered.

And this is when the world stops working: he did not live and he did not die. He was and he wasn't and might just have been a second too early or a second too late. He didn't really remember; only that the world broke and he fell along with it.

And this is what happened: he only started thinking a millennium/second/year/hour later. He was hungry and naked and shaking so badly and he might have broken again when he realized not even six scars where there for the horror.

Of the nine shinobi that were scattered in pieces and parts of familiar red only one still sputtered with life.

What are you?

And then even he was dead.

Didn't you promise it would be over?

And this is what he did: the glowing/grinning/howling Sealing Statue wouldn't stop looking at him.

So he broke it.

When he finally woke—still alive and why couldn't he finally sleep?—he scavenged rags to dress in from among the nine dolls lying around.

He started walking and thinking and somewhere along the way he realized if he saw his home again he might just end the world and everyone along with it. He'd always understood and done what little was in his power when he'd forgiven them. He understood. Honest. He gave his life for everyone who loved and hated and might just not have cared either way. So even if it wasn't his choice he still gave his life for his home.

And then he hated them when he realized he had not died—stayed dead—and just might never die.

It would never be over.

So it was only when the fox was truly dead that he did what he never had before.

Naruto hated.

And he lived.


A/N: For all my confused readers, it's supposed to be disjointed. Naruto's a little unhinged having realized he's not dead, not a demon host, and not happy.