Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, go figure.
Story Name: Wild World by Cat Stevens
A/N: Here's a story idea I came up with in my spare time. It's a very simple premise, done about a million times before, but not quite this way so far as I know. I don't expect to spend much time on this project, and if I do it won't be for quite some time, so Houses of the Holy enthusiasts shouldn't be concerned about this getting in the way of your updates.
I haven't given much thought to what I might want to do with this story yet, so I'm going to keep things vague at this point.
Chapter Name: Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
Something within him told him to stop – wanted him to - but he crushed that feeling quickly.
Mizuki was going to kill him if he stopped.
Uzumaki Naruto jumped into the trees in the hopes of escaping his one-time instructor - the massive Scroll of Forbidden Seals strapped tightly across his back.
Mizuki wanted the scroll and Naruto was not about to hand it over to the traitorous chuunin.
Naruto stopped just out of eyesight of the clearing where the fair-haired man had ambushed him.
He needed time to think – to sort things out. Mizuki had said that he was the Kyuubi, hadn't he?
Panic began to well up from deep within the young boy. Was it true?
Naruto had always known that he was different.
Other children had families – a loving mother and father and maybe even sisters and brothers.
Naruto had no one aside from the old Hokage and Iruka-sensei. But hadn't the Kyuubi killed Iruka's parents? Could Iruka's kindness all have been a lie? Could the old man's?
Other children had friends – people to play with, share with, and learn with.
Naruto had an audience. When he goofed off he could draw a crowd, sure, but even his occasional partners in crime – Kiba, Chouji, and Shikamaru – didn't make a point of spending time with him outside of classes. In fact, if he were being honest with himself, he'd say that they avoided him nearly as much as everyone else.
Other children were treated with kindness and leniency.
Naruto was treated with hostility and unfriendly glares – as if he were something ugly and unpleasant that the people of Konoha were forced to tolerate.
He realized with a dawning horror that Mizuki's insinuation made some sort of sick sense.
But he didn't feel evil. He hadn't harmed anyone as far as he could recall. The most he had ever done was pull a few harmless pranks to release some stress and draw a bit of attention. Being chased and scolded was better than being shunned and ignored, after all.
He couldn't be an evil demon, he just couldn't!
Naruto was disturbed from his reflections by the sound of a vicious chuckle carrying through the crisp, cool, evening air.
"Sorry Iruka, but Naruto isn't the type to have a change of heart. He plans to use that scroll to get revenge on the village."
It was Mizuki. Naruto recalled with a shudder why he had been so reluctant to run away. Iruka was still back there with that traitor, and he was hurt!
Mizuki kept speaking, his voice taking on a bored, superior quality that he sometimes used when he would lecture their academy class. "You saw those eyes earlier… those were the eyes of a demon."
Naruto wanted desperately to cover his ears. He couldn't bear to hear Iruka-sensei agree with the traitor. He couldn't survive being betrayed like that by someone he looked to as a precious person – a big brother of sorts.
But another part of him had to listen. He had to find out what was true and what was simply an illusion created for the benefit of tricking the monster Kyuubi.
A sickening squelch accompanied by a pained gasp rang through the night air. Oh God, hadn't Iruka still had that giant shuriken stuck in him?
Naruto desperately wanted to go back and help his sensei, but a part of him was still terrified of being wrong about Iruka's sincerity. He silently leapt from his hiding spot against the trunk of a large tree back towards the clearing, finding a perch from which he had a clear view of the two men through the thick foliage.
Iruka looked like a bloody mess as he climbed to his knees with his back still towards Mizuki - the multiple stab wounds from kunai and the giant shuriken only impeding him slightly. In his hand he held the giant shuriken that he had unceremoniously ripped from his back only moments before.
The tanned chuunin spoke in a low tone that Naruto had never heard him utter before. Iruka's anger was palpable as he practically snarled at his former assistant. "Naruto… isn't like that!"
Naruto eyes widened at Iruka's reply. He did truly care! But what did that mean about the Kyuubi? He couldn't imagine that Iruka would be so forgiving if Naruto had in fact killed his parents. Was there something more to it?
All Naruto knew was that right here, right now, Iruka had become his most precious person.
The smug grin fell off of Mizuki's face at Iruka's reply. "Well that hardly matters. I'll kill Naruto and take the scroll." His countenance shifted slowly into a wicked sneer. "But first I think I'll take care of you. I had hoped it wouldn't turn out this way, Iruka. I always respected you, even if you did pal around with that monster."
Mizuki reached behind him and brought his second giant shuriken to bear even as Iruka threw the first that he had recovered from his back at the traitorous ninja. Unfortunately Iruka's throw went horribly wide on account of the multitude of kunai still imbedded in his limbs and torso. He gasped in pain and fell to the ground, completely incapable of defending himself against Mizuki's charge.
Instead of finishing the injured man off quickly, Mizuki delivered a swift kick to Iruka's side knocking him completely to the ground before dropping a knee heavily onto his injured back.
Iruka gasped in pain once again as Mizuki leaned down and, with his free hand, began to grind the helpless ninja's face into the dry earth.
Iruka felt the point of Mizuki's shuriken dig lightly into the back of his unprotected neck. It was finally over.
"This is the end, demon lover!"
He closed his eyes and waited for death to claim him.
Naruto watched in horror as Iruka collapsed to the ground, his thrown shuriken completely ignored by Mizuki as he ran the injured man down.
He had to help!
Naruto leapt from his hiding spot and began dashing through the trees even as Mizuki settled forcefully on top of Iruka and moved the shuriken's point to his neck.
Naruto was halfway there.
Mizuki spoke, but the frantic boy couldn't pick out the words. No!
He was almost at the edge of the clearing. Faster! I need to be faster! I can't let him die!
The fair-haired man's lips tightened into a thin line and his eyes hardened as he readied himself to end his former colleague's life. Not Iruka-sensei!
Naruto wasn't going to make it. No! Please no!
I can't lose him! He's all I have! Please no! No!
Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Third Hokage of the Village Hidden in the Leaves, sat in his office poring intently over his seeing stone.
He needed to find Naruto before any of the overzealous ninja got their hands on him.
More importantly, he needed to find Naruto before he managed to disrupt the Kyuubi's seal. It was a one in a million chance of course, but the repercussions of releasing the Kyuubi once again were too dire to contemplate.
The old man had been properly confused when Naruto had accosted him earlier that evening in the tower. He certainly hadn't expected to be knocked out by an obscene original jutsu the boy had developed. He also hadn't expected the boy to pilfer the village's most valuable scroll and whisk it away into the night.
The entire ordeal was quite alarming, to say the least.
He was understandably eager to find Naruto and discover the reasons for his illicit actions, and gave a short sigh of relief when he finally spotted the golden-blond hair unique to the boy's family just outside the village proper with scroll in tow.
His relief was short lived as he took in the occupants of the clearing.
Sarutobi Hiruzen leapt to his feet and was gone from his office faster than the eye could see. There was no time to recall his searching ninjas or sortie the ANBU. This could not wait, and he'd rather deal with the situation without involving others.
Naruto blinked his eyes in confusion.
Then he closed them. He could feel a headache coming on. It was going to be a whopper too.
That's right. Iruka-sensei had been in trouble. Mizuki, the bastard, had been trying to kill him.
Why was that again?
There was a bonus graduation exam. Take the scroll. Learn a jutsu. That's right! The forbidden scroll! The Mass Shadow Clone technique!
Then he found Iruka.
No, that wasn't right. Iruka found him.
Mizuki attacked them with kunai. Iruka protected him.
He was the Kyuubi?
Maybe… probably not. Iruka didn't hate him.
Iruka didn't hate him!
Mizuki was going to kill him. He was going to kill Iruka first.
Naruto's eyes snapped open.
Where was Iruka?
Where was he?
Naruto looked up to find himself on his hands and knees on the cool ground. He squinted his eyes painfully – the headache was getting worse.
Regaining his composure, Naruto's gaze moved to the still body lying before him.
Well, corpse, really.
It was Mizuki, the bastard.
Naruto looked on as well as he could with the terrible throbbing building in his head.
It wasn't a pretty sight. The traitor's eyes had rolled up into the back of his head, leaving only the whites visible. Blood leaked slowly from the man's ears, mouth, and nose. Despite that, Naruto had no idea what could have killed him.
But mostly he just wasn't in the mood to ponder it. The painful throbbing in his head had kept building and he was finding it difficult to form a coherent thought at all. It was as if someone were tightening a vice around his forehead a bit at a time. Even worse, there was an angry pressure building just behind his eyes that made them feel as though they were readying themselves to pop right out of his head.
He slowly sat back onto his bottom while wiping his dirty hands off on his pants. Having confirmed that there was only a bit of dirt and grime on them, he pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes to counter the pressure behind them.
It worked, at least a bit. The pain was now reduced to a horrible aching throb.
Naruto was not particularly happy.
"Naruto?" It was Iruka-sensei.
Now Naruto felt like crap.
Well, he felt like crap before too, but now he felt like crap both physically and because he had forgotten to check on the person he actually cared about.
Naruto didn't even bother removing his hands from his face. It was that bad. "Are you alright, Iruka-sensei?"
"As well as can be expected. What happened to Mizuki?"
"I don't remember. When I came to he was lying like that. I'm pretty sure he's dead."
Naruto could hear Iruka slowly stand up and walk over to examine his traitorous colleague.
"He's dead alright. You say you don't remember anything?" There was another shuffling of feet, probably due to Iruka turning to face him. "Are you alright, Naruto?"
"I have a migraine. Damn it hurts." Naruto took a deep breath to calm his nerves. "And no, I don't remember anything after I saw him ready to stab you."
There was a momentary pause as Iruka pondered his next question and Naruto rubbed his palms deeper into his eyes. He'd never had a headache this bad before.
"Naruto, I want to talk to you about what Mizuki said… about the Kyuubi."
Naruto groaned from the pain before collecting himself and responding. "I figured that he was probably telling the truth, or something close to it, because of the way people treat me, but I also doubt everyone would let the Kyuubi run around the village if that really were the case."
"Partially correct, Naruto." Naruto turned his head towards the sound of the new voice, careful not to let up pressure over his eyes. "Now, I would be interested in hearing about the circumstances concerning tonight's incident."
Naruto was surprised by the arrival, but after a moment allowed relief to sweep over him. Before he could give a response, Iruka had spoken up. "Hokage-sama, Mizuki revealed a twisted version of the truth to Naruto after tricking him into stealing the Scroll of Forbidden Seals as a supposed alternative to passing the standard academy exam."
"We will get to the topic of the Kyuubi in a moment, Iruka. What happened to Mizuki?"
For his part, Naruto was content to sit silently and nurse his migraine while the two older men spoke, though the fact that the old man didn't seem angry was a bit of a relief.
"He was about to perform a killing blow on me when I felt him fall off of me inexplicably. When I regained my bearings I found Naruto sitting here and Mizuki in his current state."
Naruto could make out a faint hum from the old Hokage before a question was directed at him. "And Naruto? What do you remember? What's wrong?"
Naruto paused for a moment. "I have a horrible headache, sorry. Anyways, I was trying to stop Mizuki but I didn't think I'd be able to make it in time. Then I blacked out. I'm not really sure what happened, but when I woke back up Mizuki was dead and Iruka was just getting up."
"I'm sorry about your head, Naruto. I will try to be brief and send you on your way home as quickly as possible, but I'm afraid this discussion can not wait." The Hokage waited as a strong breeze passed through the trees, sending the leaves rustling at the wind's passing. "I believe that what occurred here tonight may very well have to do with the Kyuubi and its connection to you, Naruto."
Naruto was torn between groaning at the prospect of the old man's imminent speech or rejoicing at the prospect of his status finally being revealed to him.
It was going to be a very long night.
Naruto stumbled through the front door of his messy apartment much later than he would have liked. He blearily made his way to his bedroom and untied his new, used Konoha forehead protector from around his neck before placing it on his dresser. His forest green goggles soon followed. He had actually been wearing them properly since he'd gotten up off of the forest floor to make his way back home. They allowed him to see while still putting a dulling pressure on his eye sockets in an effort to fight the pounding migraine that had yet to disappear.
Absent-mindedly peeling off his jacket and dropping it on the floor of his room, Naruto assessed his condition.
The headache had abated a bit, which was good. He was unusually sore thanks to the day's adventure, which was bad.
Most of all, he was dead on his feet and knew he needed to get up early tomorrow for his final day at the academy.
Ignoring the dirtied and bloodied condition of his clothing, he switched off the light and unceremoniously plopped down onto his bed.
Despite the pain in his head, he was asleep after only a few minutes.
After all, who knew what adventures the new day would bring for the world's most unpredictable jinchuuriki, and maybe something more?
A/N: I want to clear up one thing that people might get confused about. Sarutobi did not see how Mizuki died. He only saw the aftermath of the encounter in his crystal ball - i.e. Naruto, Iruka, and Mizuki lying on the ground.