A/N: Sorry for the long wait, guys! I've been in the land of little internet for a month and I'm glad to be back! I missed you guys! So, here's chapter eight. As usual, I know there are spelling and grammatical errors, but I'm still too lazy and it's still too troublesome to go back a fix. Enjoy! And please, as always, read and review.
"I can't remember anything. Again." Blandness coated his voice and he shrugged, looking down at the beige-coloured carpet. Even though his therapist was nice, and pretty, he never liked to look at her, afraid that if he did, she would look at him and see what so many other people saw and hate him. If he remained humble and reserved, then he could be somebody else. He wasn't sure exactly how much she knew about him, but it wouldn't do to mess things up and set his plans back.
"That's okay, Naruto. That's fine. Both things are good. If you remember and you stay healthy, then that's good. If you forget and stay healthy, then that's even better. I understand that it's a mix of both, and you seem to be taking it all rather well. There are just a few things I want to ask you. Is that alright? You don't have to answer these questions if you don't want to, but I'd like it if you did."
She smiled at him, though he didn't see and didn't want to see.
"I don't really like questions…" he muttered apprehensively. He was always either asked questions that he couldn't answer, or questions that he didn't want to answer. Being asked if he was feeling better or if he was okay today fit into the former. He never felt much different and if he did, he didn't know how to describe it and he was never okay. Nothing was okay. He had learned early on that lying got him far, but he didn't want to set himself up if she had to ask if it was alright.
"Well, how about I ask first, and you decide if you want to answer them," she went on pleasantly. He nodded mutely and continued staring at the floor, unconsciously digging his abused fingertips into the leather chair beneath him.
"Okay. The first thing I want to ask is how you feel about not remembering some things and not being able to forget others."
Naruto shook his head. He didn't like the question. He didn't know how to answer it. He had never considered how he felt and he wasn't about to consider it now. "What's the other question?"
The woman nodded and jotted something down in her notepad, something that didn't escape Naruto's notice. The very act unsettled him. He wondered what she had written and what she planned to do with the information. What if it was bad? What if she told the old man and they decided that he wasn't getting better and kept him there forever? Paranoia crept into his mind. He wasn't sure if she was worth the benefit of the doubt, but he would wait and see.
"The second question was how you think you would fare in the outside world if you were released today and why." It was a strange question to Naruto. It didn't fit the type of question that he didn't like and he wasn't sure how to answer it. He knew, of course, how he would fare, but if he told her the truth, what would she do?
"Ah….well, don't you think it's a bit soon to be asking me that?" He half expected her to agree or explain why she was asking the question, but she countered his with another of her own.
Wasn't it? Naruto frowned deeper. These questions were odd. He didn't like either one of them. The woman had some kind of background information on him; she was his psychiatrist after all, so how could she expect for him to answer those questions knowing what she knew about him.
"I've decided not to answer either of your questions." He would have added 'sorry' at the end, but he wasn't. She wrote another thing down in her notepad and nodded with a 'hmmm'.
"Okay, that's fair, it was your choice. Do you want to tell me why you don't want to answer them?"
"Not really." She took more notes.
"Stop that." He said sternly without looking up from her lap where she held the clipboard.
"I have to take notes if I'm going to diagnose and treat your condition." She said sweetly, as if she were taking to a three year old.
"I don't have a condition. There's nothing wrong with me. It's them." And he was beginning to think it was her, too.
"Well, I still have to document our session, Naruto. I'm sorry if you don't like it, but Hokage-sama has asked me to help, and I want to help---
She cut herself off and wrote something down. "But you have to let me."
But he wasn't hearing her. He glared at the notepad as if it had done him unspeakable wrong, watched her flawless, delicate hands grasp the pen and write things. Things that were bad. Things that would keep him there forever.
"What is it that you're writing anyway? Since it's about me, I should know, right?"
She frowned and pursed her lips, moving the clipboard out of his visual range and putting it on the coffee table beside her. His eyes resisted following it. "All I'm doing is taking note of the things you tell me."
"The things I tell you, or the things I say?" This time his eyes narrowed and his fingers dug into the leather harder.
"What's the difference?"
"You say it like I wanted to tell you some things and had to tell you other things." She didn't seem so nice anymore. Now she seemed more superficial, as if she trained herself to appear nice to calm her patients. He had news for her if she thought she could charm him into accepting the horrible fate of spending the rest of his life in that place.
"That's not the way I meant it, Naruto. Not at all. In fact, I'll tell you the real reason I'm taking these notes." So she had lied to him.
"I'm taking them for reference. When you start to get better, we'll know because my notes will tell us so."
Naruto clenched his jaw, but because his head was down she didn't see. "So, you're saying that when I get better, you'll look at those notes as my 'condition' at its worst and compare them to what you feel is my condition at its best?"
The doctor let out a sound of frustrated hesitancy. The boy wasn't supposed to be controlling the session, she was, and if she didn't reign it in soon, then he was going to come to conclusions that he wasn't supposed to come to just yet and defeat the purpose of the therapy.
"Yes. But the goal is t-
"I didn't even do anything. I barely said anything, so how could you have anything to write about? Show me what's on that paper."
She chuckled. "No, Naruto. I already told you, and like I said, if I'm going to help you---
"You're not trying to help me, you bitch!" He growled lowly. His eyes shot up to meet her startled ones. "I know what you're going to do with that information. You want to keep me here! You and that old man are trying to trick me again! You're fucking with me!"
"No! We're not---
"Yes you are!" He stood and quickly leaned forward and made a grab for the clipboard, but she snatched it from his grasp and held it away from him.
"Give the fucking thing to me, damn it!" When she didn't comply, the paranoia grew worse and sickening feeling overcame him. For the first time in days he had a headache and now the woman wasn't nice any more. She wasn't pretty. She was just like them. He tried to be nice, he tried to be cooperative, he tried to make it work, but they only wanted to keep him and torture him for the rest of his life.
His body shifted to autopilot and he lunged for her face, tearing her glasses off and winding a hand tightly into her silky sapphire hair. She screamed and pushed at him and he yanked fiercely causing her to pitch forward. He pushed her head down and raised his fist to beat on her face and back while she cried out and fought against him.
He had no idea where the burst of strength came from. They usually left him alone with the woman after weakening and drugging him and when he found that he could inflict damage, he pounded on her as hard as he could until strong hands grabbed and tugged his arms so hard he could hear one of them crack as he was flung into the steel door, his skull impacting with it so hard that his vision blurred. The brain-jarring blow made his body slowly sink to the floor, unable to move.
There were shouts and the woman was still crying and hands snatched at his hair to drag him out the door and down the hall, back to his cell, he thought fuzzily. Inside his head he was screaming, too, but nothing but whimpers left his mouth. Warm blood trickled down the back of his neck and his arm began to throb as they shook him and slammed him against nearly every wall they passed. He could hear some of the things they were saying but he couldn't talk back. It was like being drugged, expect he could feel the pain and this time they couldn't blame it on an accident. This time they were justified in hurting him.
When he landed on his broken arm on the cold floor of his cell, a grunt of pain escaped him and dark dots swam before his eyes. Before the guards left, one of them issued a kick to his groin that hurt so much his sight and breath left him. In a battle for consciousness, he swallowed and choked, trying to move his good hand to his injured crotch to relieve some of the agony, but the sickness exploded out of his throat and all over the floor and he was immobile, the pain too great.
In another minute the door opened again and someone stepped in. For a moment he was afraid that the person would hurt him, but another moment later he had other things to worry about. All of a sudden the pain he felt floated to the back of his mind and his eyes ceased blinking. For a few seconds he stared straight ahead, though he got the foreboding feeling that something was coming. The doctor kneeled down next to him and inserted something into his mouth and rolled him onto his back. It was the last thing Naruto remembered before his eyes rolled back and he was unconscious.
The doctor in the room simply watched the blonde boy's body start to twitch and convulse and a choking sound as the end of the stethoscope slide sideways against his tongue and began to descend down his throat. He made a particularly loud grunt and a gurgling noise and white fluid gushed from his mouth and his rapidly relaxing and contracting muscles spasmed out of control. His jaw pushed itself out of place trying to compensate for the lack of space to move around the chestpiece and another subtle 'crack' was heard as the bone of his already broken arm split up to his shoulder. He rolled onto his side when a violent contraction went through his vacant form and onto his damaged arm, groaning even though he couldn't feel the pain.
"Hn. That's new." The doctor turned to see one of his newer colleagues with a video camera.
"Yeah." The doctor snickered and toed Naruto's shaking head to the side. "Get a good shot so we can watch it later."
The man with the camera aimed it carefully, making sure to keep a leering grin on his face. "Are you going to take that out of his mouth?"
"Soon, but I want to have some fun. It serves the fucker right for attacking his therapist. Kuomo kicked him where the sun don't shine and we figured we'd just leave him here to wallow in his agony. When he suddenly stopped muttering in pain and his face went blank it was the perfect opportunity to watch the little prick suffer. Hey man, you better make copies of that, I want one."
The other man simply nodded while shooting. "Oh I will," he mumbled distractedly, zooming in on Naruto's now blue face and purple lips. "I will."
Iruka picked quietly at his ramen while staring at the silver-haired copy-nin sitting next to him. He waited for Kakashi to begin explaining what he came to explain and the other man simply sat there and watched his bowl.
"Today, Hatake. You asked me to come here so that you—
"Right. I'm sorry." Kakashi blinked and looked up, swiveling his chair around to face the Chuunin.
"About…what happened. You have to understand something about me, Iruka. Not a lot of people know this, you'd make five." He stopped and sighed, as if getting ready to tell a winding story.
'This isn't about you' Iruka thought to himself, but said nothing.
"Naruto's father and I were really close. He, uh…after my father died, I didn't want anything really to do with him, so I guess what I did was search for someone to fill his place. Minato was so….he was… he was young then, and a lot like you. He was too young to be a father to someone my age, the same age Naruto is now, but he was like one to me. When he died I had lost the last of my team and I was done connecting with people. I knew when Kushina was pregnant with Naruto and I looked forward to meeting him and hopefully being a big brother of sorts to him seeing as they didn't plan on having anymore children. And…I kind of…" He lifted one shoulder slightly and sighed again.
"I mean I guess what happened was I didn't want to care for someone after the war. I didn't want to like anyone; I didn't want to form any bonds with anyone. It felt like the lowest blow when Hokage-sama put Naruto on my Genin team. I had no choice but to accept, but I didn't want to. I had been waiting to meet him for eight months and when I finally did, it wasn't at all the way I had planned it. I wanted to meet him with his father and his mother and sort of….be like…the family I lost. My own mother died in the war and I was just lost. I was the only kid in my class who was a Jounin and I entered the ANBU at such a young age that I didn't have time for friends, and nobody thought they were good enough to befriend me. Everyone was afraid. So I closed myself up and promised never to get close to anyone or make them think they could get close to me. Naruto, I suppose, being an orphan, was almost just like me. He had no family, his peers and the villagers were either afraid of him or they hated him, and he only wanted a family. He found you, but I guess he needed more. I didn't want him to even be on my team, so I shut him out as much as possible, hoping to spare him from becoming like me. Team Seven is eerily like my old team. Sasuke is like me, in a way that's different from Naruto, Sakura has fallen into the same trap of loving a person who could never love her back, and Naruto is just like…"
A shudder went through him at the thought of his former best friend. He didn't like telling people things, but he felt that he owed Iruka at least that. If he had known how far his resolve to push Naruto away would go, he would have done something, anything to stop it. But it was too late. All he could do was explain.
Iruka sat and stared plainly at the Jounin, blinking every so often as he listened. He didn't know what to think about what he had been told so far and he didn't want to interject before Kakashi finished. He could feel some resentment for the man slowly pooling in his gut, but he didn't allow his features to belie the sour feeling down below.
"Obito had a crush on Rin, Rin had a crush on me, and I didn't really like either of them too much. You already know the dynamics of my team as far as relationships go. It's an unwanted reminder of the way things used to be. Without Naruto, Team Seven would be ideal for me. He's too big a reminder of the past, because not only is he like Obito in many ways, he's just like his father in almost every way. I look at him and I want to dislike him, hate him maybe, but I can't. All I could do was push him away. Sasuke never wanted anything outside of the entitlements of a student from his teacher, and Sakura was too preoccupied with Sasuke and detached just enough so that I didn't have to worry about her. But Naruto…oh, he just kept as---
Kakashi bit his lip under his mask and decided that maybe what he was about to say wasn't a very good thing to say to Iruka. Naruto didn't ask to be mistreated and pushed aside. He didn't ask for anything more than attention and someone to give a shit about him. Who was he to say what the boy was asking for?
"Always begging for extra training even though he surpassed both Sakura and Sasuke in enough ways to go at the same pace they were going. It was always more for him. He always needed extra, more, more, more. But I didn't want to give him anything. What for? So the beast inside him could take him and everyone I might care about away? Again? Naruto signifies two things at once. He was--is the carrier of the monster that took my mother, my surrogate father and the only girl that ever liked me for me away and he is the only reminder of those things that I had. The worst part is that he's such a good boy. He's so loyal and so eager to please and so needy I just couldn't indulge all of that. Sasuke and Sakura didn't make it any easier for him, and once in a while I would make them stop teasing him, but after a while he took it to mean that I cared about his feelings and would look to me to make him feel better when those two brought him down. I couldn't do it. The day it happened, I never fathomed that my decision would bring this about. If I had known, I swear I would've changed my mind."
"So it would have been just as simple as changing you mind, would it?" Iruka asked calmly, though anyone with ears could detect the sarcastic malice behind his words.
"No. Not like that. Iruka, I am partly to blame for what happened, and by no means am I proud of my part in this---
"I'm glad you see your fault in this, Kakashi, but what did you think would happen if you ignored Naruto? Don't you know how much he looked up to the Fourth Hokage? Don't you know that he knew that he was your sensei?"
A surprised and fearful look crossed the Jounin's face at this piece of news. He hadn't known that Naruto knew that. "How did he find that out?" he asked, trying to swallow back to cracking of stricken fear in his voice.
"I don't even know." Iruka shook his head as he said it, thinking about how he had been just as surprised to know that Naruto knew such information. Nobody of his generation knew that, only the adults knew. The Hokage didn't take any credit for telling him when Iruka brought it up, fearing that Naruto may learn of other things that he was not yet supposed to know.
The very idea of Naruto knowing that made Kakashi's stomach turn. What if he was more to blame for what happened than he originally thought? "Oh God," he uttered. How in the world had the boy come across that information? How much did he know?
"God isn't here, Kakashi. You have Naruto to answer to. It's gotta be somebody. It's going to be you. You and everybody else in this village that's ever hurt him. I don't care what your motives were. He's a child. You don't push a child away. Especially not when he needs you. Minato didn't push you away. It wasn't fair to Naruto. He may not even know that the man was his father. He may not know that that is why you ignored him. He's not Obito. He's not Minato, and he's not you." The schoolteacher stood, ready to take his leave without having had a bite of his food.
"Iruka, wait," Kakashi took hold of his arm to stop him, but the Chunnin jerked it away.
"You've had your say, Kakashi. How dare you think you can just explain your faults away? Shame on you." He slammed the money for his ramen down on the counter and stormed off before Kakashi could say another word.
The copy-nin just sat there, wide-eyed and he felt like the worst person in the world at that moment. He was ashamed. Iruka was right. He thought that if he told the other man why he treated Naruto the way that he did that Iruka would let up on some of the hate and people would see that hurting the child was never his intention, but of course he couldn't do that.
What did you think would happen if you ignored Naruto?
He didn't even know. He hadn't given it one second of thought at all before. How the fuck could he have been so stupid and selfish? It wasn't how Minato or his own father raised him to be. Of course, he just had to have his moment to wallow in his lonely despair, never thinking for an instant that he might share it with someone who didn't deserve it.
"Oh, Naruto…" For the first time since he was eleven, Kakashi could feel the stinging pricks of tears behind his eyes and quickly paid for his uneaten bowl and dismissed himself from the noodle stand.
The owner stared at him as he left, wondering why neither of his latest customers had eaten any of their food.
"Is Sakura home?" The tall magenta-haired man glanced down at him with the same piercing green eyes Sakura had and then turned,
Usually his daughter bounded down the stairs anytime he called her name, always hoping for a friend to come and visit, but no answer came.
"Sakura!" He called again. Again there was no answer.
"Wait here," the man said, his placid look shifting into a frown and a glare at the silent boy. He closed the door and went to find his daughter.
Sasuke waited outside patiently, wondering if he looked at all strange standing in front of the girl's house. He had never gone to anybody's house looking for them before, but he really needed to talk to his teammate. He hadn't seen her in four days and though he hadn't been expecting to see her, she usually showed up at his house on nice days almost every day since they were paired with Naruto as Team Seven. He never wanted to see her and always either pretended he didn't hear her knocking, slammed the door in her face, or ignored her while she prattled on about nothing in his foyer. Now it was him waiting for her and the novelty of such a situation did not escape him.
Suddenly, the door opened again, and instead of Sakura, her father appeared again and didn't look any happier than when he had seen him last.
"What's your name, boy?"
"Sasuke," he replied smoothly.
"Yes. Well, she doesn't want to see or speak to you right now." With that Mr. Haruno turned on his heel and went into the house, slamming the door behind him without so much as an apology for the inconvenience.
Sasuke was a little surprised. How could she not want to see him? She always wanted to see him. It must have something to do with the interrogation, he thought to himself.
He wasn't going to leave without trying to get her to talk to him, so he walked around to the side of the complex she lived in and searched for any window that looked like it might have been hers. All of them were closed. Sakura once told him that on nice days she liked to keep a window open to 'let the day in' and always told him that he should open his windows once in a while and maybe then he wouldn't be so grumpy all the time.
He wasn't sure which window hers was and by the looks of her father, he didn't want to throw a rock at the wrong one, so he silently began scaling the building, looking around to make sure he wasn't being watched and peered into every window he came across until he stopped at one with pink curtains. Sakura's father had pink hair, but he was sure the man wasn't exactly in love with the color so he risked the thought that the window must have been hers and knocked twice.
The response wasn't immediate, but right as he was about to knock again, Sakura came to the window and jerked it open.
"What do you want, Sasuke?" She sounded tired but he noted the red eyes and the puffy bags under them.
"You've been crying," he stated.
She rolled her eyes. "Thanks, Captain Obvious, I hadn't realized."
Sasuke frowned. "What crawled up your ass and died?"
The brash question earned him an incredulous look. "What do you mean, what crawled my ass?! Why are you here?! Some of us actually have a conscious and feel like shit once in a while, so excuse me for being upset that---
"Hokage-sama has requested to see us," was all the dark-haired boy said to her vehement reply. He didn't even so much as bat an eye at her angry tirade, coolly waiting for her to shut up and go with him so that he could go and feel like shit in the privacy of his own home. Not that she needed to know that.
Sakura stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds before her face twisted into disgust. "Y---you….how can you be so---
He started to walk back down the side of the building. "Because crying won't make it better."
The pinkette's face relaxed into slight surprise. She hadn't thought that he had considered the situation enough to give her such a reply. She sniffed and watched him until his feet touched the ground and he looked up at her.
"Now hurry up."
Oooohhh, boy! Finally, huh? I know I could have gone into plenty more detail, but I still don't know where I'm going with this, so I have to take it step by step. For those of you who don't know what happened to Naruto at the end of his scene, it's called a Tonic Clonic seizure, or a Grand Mal seizure. I'll explain why those come along in the next chapter. Until next time,