Chapter One – Post Traumatic Stress

The room stank. That much seemed irrefutable. Also irrefutable was the fact that it was both very dark, and numbingly cold… the room that is. The three facts together were not what Uzumaki Naruto was focused on however, not while he was sitting in a frigid metal chair with his hands tied, or more accurately, cuffed, behind his back. He dared not try to get himself free, not with how tightly the cuffs cut into his hands. It also occurred to him as he breathed out that there was a bag over his face and his stomach hurt, like he'd fallen against a blunted edge with the full weight of his body.

"Where the hell am I?" muttered the blond, his head hurting almost as badly as his stomach. "Why can't I remember … anything?" Naruto sat up straighter in the chair. He had been slouching. "Where am I?" he repeated, a little louder.

He heard something, the sound of a well oiled door swinging open on its hinges, and a single set of footsteps coming towards him. Five steps, Naruto counted, reflexively noting the number. Must be a medium-sized room, concrete floors given the sound, and whoever this is, he's wearing hard-soled shoes.

"You're here," said the man on the opposite side of the bag, stopping a few paces short of Naruto, "because you made a bad decision." The man's voice was deep, but not particularly strong. He sounded old without being quite decrepit yet. Naruto guessed his visitor must have been in his late sixties.

"I don't think this is really necessary," said the voice, lifting the bag from Naruto's face.

Immediately the young blond saw his surroundings consisted of a dingy and poorly lit little room made of brick the color of rust and lighted by a single bulb dangling above the steel chair in which he sat. Before Naruto was a table the same color as his chair, and opposite him was another chair, empty. Beside the Uzumaki stood a tall man, dressed in khaki pants, a white button-down, and a long white coat made of thin cotton.

The man turned away before Naruto could get a good look at his face, and threw the canvas bag onto the table. He then ran a hand through his thinning white hair, walked around the table, pulled at the metal chair, and sat down opposite the silent Naruto, folding his hands in front of him on the table.

"Can you tell me what you're name is?" said the old man, his tone not harsh, but wary.

"Why should I?" responded Naruto bitingly without thinking. "You've got me caged in a room and had a bag over my head. I'm not going to tell you shit, old fart."

The man in the coat didn't respond for a moment. He studied the blond boy in his mid teens for a moment before exhaling and moving his hands up to rest beneath his jaw. "Can you tell me how you got here?"

Naruto opened his mouth to sling a sarcastic remark at his supposed captor, but didn't answer immediately. It suddenly occurred to him that he couldn't remember how he got there.

"Can you remember my name?" asked the old man.

"Tatonetti," said Naruto by reflex.

As the man in the coat smiled, the gesture seeming as though it should have made his weathered face creak, Naruto looked down at the table. He couldn't remember why he knew the old man's name. He knew him, but nothing about him, or almost nothing.

"You're some kind of doctor," Naruto probed, causing Tatonetti to raise one eyebrow. "That's all I can recall."

"Better than yesterday," said the doctor, watching Naruto very carefully. "Much better than this morning certainly. Can you tell me how long you've been here, at this facility? Has it been a day, a week, a year?"

A chill ran down Naruto's back and he sat up perfectly straight, suddenly very impatient with the man in front of him who began to look more and more like a fossil every second, even though this exchange felt somehow routine. "Why should I tell you?" Naruto demanded. A thought leapt to the thought of Naruto's mind. "The mission to Sound," he blurted, "what happened? It went bad, right? Sakura and Shikamaru, we-" Naruto cut himself off and as the doctor sat back in his chair and rested one hand over his face. For the briefest moment Naruto thought he saw something squirm in the man's vest pocket.

"I remember now," said Naruto. His tone was quiet, but bubbled with anger underneath. "Sakura, Shikamaru, and I were on a mission to Orochimaru's palace. We were going after Sasuke, but things went bad. Orochimaru beat us in a fight and then…" he paused. "Then I woke up here, under that bag. Then you came in and started talking at me. Who are you?! Where am I!?"

"Well we were doing well," said the doctor with a sigh.

"Oh," Naruto growled like a caged animal. "I get it now. I never got away from Sound. This is an interrogation room. You're working for Orochimaru!" he shouted. "Don't think you're going to get anything out of me! I won't help you! You're never going to beat Konoha, never!"

Dr. Tatonetti raised his right arm and looked at the watch on his wrist. As Naruto stared at him from across the table the man withdrew from his coat a small pad of paper and a pen. He began scribbling on it for a moment, then set it down on the table and turned it to Naruto.

"What's this?" asked the blond spitefully. If I try to use chakra then there's no doubt guards will rush in… I need to lay low for just a bit and wait for a good shot at this.

"You haven't been acting yourself these past several days," said the doctor. "You've been quieter and you've been brooding more. Tell me," he drew Naruto's attention back to the pad with a tap of his finger. "What do these names mean to you?"

Naruto looked down, humoring him, and looked over the scribbling on the pad. Haruno Sakura, he read, feeling his stomach tighten just a bit, Uchiha Sasuke, Nagusami Tayuya… Naruto bit his lip, unsure of what the sudden throbbing in his chest meant. "Who are these people?" he asked, trying to give nothing away.

"Didn't you just mention Shikamaru and Sakura?" asked the doctor.

Naruto swallowed once. "Two of my friends from a long time ago," he said quickly, trying to cover up his mistake.

"Again with the lies," said the old man, breathing heavily. He reached into his vest pocket and began to fish around for something. "Naruto I don't see why you can't just be honest with me. I would have thought you'd be tired of this by now." He pulled his hand from the pocket with a hiss. From between his thumb and index finger a snake hissed at Naruto and opened its jaws wide at him, threatening to leap and bite.

Naruto suddenly went cold and pushed himself back in his chair. The snake glared at him and Naruto felt the gaze as his blood snap-froze in his veins. "Get that thing away from me?" Naruto growled in warning, feeling his temples throb.

"What," asked the doctor, surprise pervading his tone. Even as the snake wrapped around his wrinkled wrist, still hissing and watching Naruto hungrily, the old man examined his hand as though there was nothing wrong, as though there were not a deadly serpent in his grasp. "Get what away from you?"

"I said take it away," Naruto hissed through clenched teeth.

"What?" asked the doctor again, watching Naruto watch his hand. "Do you mean the pencil?" queried the doctor, leaning forward just a bit more and offering his hand to Naruto.

"I said away!" Naruto spat, his mind thrumming with horror.

"It's just a pencil," Dr. Tatonetti insisted. "What's so frightening about this?"

In his near-hysteria Naruto imagined the snake was reaching out to bite him, and even thought he saw smile spread across the old man's lined and angular face. "No," Naruto cried out as the snake's fangs folded down from the roof of its mouth. "Get that thing away from me you son of a bitch!"

Chakra! Naruto's mind shrieked as the old man ignored his complaints and brought the snake even closer to him, easily within striking distance of his face. Where the fuck is my chakra? Naruto's heart raced even faster as he fumbled for the energy to break his bonds and fight his way free, but the life giving chakra simply wasn't there.

"What have you done to me!" Naruto demanded. "Where is my-" Naruto stopped and stared at the old man. A patch of Tatonetti's skin just below his left eye had begun to turn a sickly green and wither.

"What?" asked the doctor, sitting up and touching his face with his free hand. "Is there something wrong.

Naruto watched in shock as the dead patch of skin slipped from Tatonetti's face and slopped down onto the table, all as the doctor failed to notice that anything was wrong. Beneath the missing chunk of flesh was the doctor's cheek bone, bleached as white as alabaster, but quickly turning red as a trickle of blood eked from the exposed tissue all around it.

"What is the matter Naruto?" asked the doctor, even as the skin all around the gouge began to wither and shift in hue to the same color as the sickly lob laying on the table.

Before he could even think to try and free himself, the doctor's entire face began to slide down his skull like a melting rubber mask mixed with blood and oil. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" Naruto shouted as Tatonetti stood up and let his face, a dumb look squished into his features, roll straight from his head and onto the floor with a plop. Immediately the room filled with the scent of iron and death.

"I think you need to calm down right now," said Tatonetti in a gravelly voice as he took a step back from the table. "You're suffering another episode and you need to calm down."

Naruto, wide-eyed and deaf from the thrumming of his heart, pulled wildly and jerked at the cuffs around his wrists. The fetters cut into his skin, but Naruto didn't care. With no chakra this was his only chance of escape.

"Guard!" shouted Tatonetti's skull.

Naruto turned as the steel door of the room burst open and a figure robed in a tan garment rushed in. "No!" Naruto screamed, seeing the white face and long black bangs. The purple makeup and yellow eyes were a dead giveaway.

The guard rushed over to Naruto, who was beginning to bend the cuffs holding him, and raised his hand to strike. A large snake erect as a board sprung from Orochimaru's sleeve into his hand, and the Sanin swiped down at Naruto, clubbing him in the side of the head with the reptile. Naruto and his chair tumbled to one side and he struck his head on the concrete floor, washing his world over with black.

"OROCHIMARU!" Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs, lurching up and throwing off the cloth he feared might be trying to strangle him. "Get!" the blond Ninja paused, huffing for air and looking all around.

He was in his bedroom, it was morning, and the sun was shining in through the floor to ceiling window in one wall. Outside it was springtime in Konoha, and inside, right beside Naruto a redheaded girl who had been curled up against him opened her dark eyes and looked curiously up at him.

"Another nightmare?" asked Tayuya, not unkindly, morning still coloring her voice.

Naruto sighed, dropped back onto the ample supply of pillows and threw his arm over his face, hiding his eyes behind the bend of his elbow. He took a haggard breath. "Yeah," he mumbled as Tayuya rolled onto her side and propped herself up on her elbow to look on him.

The corner of the redhead's lip tugged up in a sad smile. "Well," she said, "at least now it's over and you're back safe here with me." Her smile widened as she tried to sound as comforting as she could.

Naruto sighed again but didn't answer. He lay on his back thinking and resting his eyes. He'd just woken up, but as always happened when he woke up from one of those nightmares, he was still as tired as when he first went to bed.

"Every damn night," he muttered, wrapping an arm around Tayuya as she let herself down and rested her head on his chest, her thick, waist-length hair draping over the bed. "Every damn night for a year after the war... the medicine helped and got me back to the point where I could sleep again, but now even that's not doing any good. I feel-"

"Don't think about it," said Tayuya, her voice a coo. "You're safe here now. You can just rest all you like."

"That's not the point," said Naruto. "I'm a Ninja. I should be able to handle this."

"Shhh," the woman shook her head and shifted to look up at him. "You are handling this," she said. "You're getting better… but you saw a lot of horrible things during the Unification War."

"Even so," said Naruto, adjusting his arm as his fingers began to tingle. "What I did or didn't see shouldn't have taken this kind of toll."

Tayuya frowned at him a little. Her old temper broiled quietly but she pushed it back. "And, as Tsunade-Sama was so fond of pointing out, you were captured and help prisoner for more than a year Naruto. You were out on the front lines and you saw things no one should ever have to cope with. People don't just forget that, and there's no reason to beat yourself up for it. You did the best you could every time no matter what and Konoha came out on top in the end because of all your hard work."

The blond didn't answer immediately, watching as shadows from the tree outside swept across the roof and jumped back and forth like the silhouettes of dancers before a fire. The wind outside must have been rough to move the great oak so violently. "It took such a long time," he said as much to himself as to Tayuya.

"Naruto- I'm- All I want is for you to be happy," she kissed his chest once and looked back up at him. "And you really are getting better." She put one and on either side of Naruto and pushed herself up along him, letting the white linen sheets fall into the small of her back. Her face hovered over his for a moment as they studied each other.

"I'm sorry," Naruto said quietly, reading her face and knowing she was hiding the pain with a caring smile. What she really saw, he guessed, must have made her feel something like the torture he knew under Orochimaru. However, he knew she cared and that kept him going. "But listen to me, a burned out Ninja rambling on like this. Today I'm not going to be pessimistic at all, cross my heart."

Tayuya smirked. "You weren't so burned out last night."

Naruto laughed once, almost bitterly. "Well, I guess maybe I still have a little fight left in me."

"Twenty-five years old, I should hope you do," said the redhead, sliding off him and sitting up. She looked around the room at all of the sunbathed furniture glimmering in the light diffusing through the thinly curtained window. The only hint of the blasting wind beyond the thin glass was the shaking tree. "The next Hokage will need at least a little bit of fight if he wants to be any kind of useful at all."

Naruto smiled but didn't sit up. He cocked his head to the side and watched Tayuya as she stood up. It seemed to him like a scene from a novel as the linen which had been draped across her waist like a skirt fell away.

The redhead took an absent minded step forward, swaggering her hips as she always did when she wasn't trying not to look alluring. (For the first several months of their marriage Naruto frequently mentioned Tayuya's being 'distractingly sexy,' and ever since she'd begun making conscious efforts to be less alluring when in public.) Naruto grinned as he watched her.

"Oh," said Tayuya, now making no effort to be modest as she caught Naruto looking at her. She turned away and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Do I even want to know what you're thinking? Scratch that," she cut herself off. "Tell me exactly what's on your mind right now."

Naruto smiled to himself at her commanding, but simultaneously virginal tone. "My mind's a blank," he joked. He caught Tayuya's eye as she looked over her shoulder at him.

"So," she said, shifting her weight to emphasize her figure. "You're trying to say you weren't thinking you'd married the woman with the finest and most faultless ass in Konoha?" Tayuya put her hand on her hip and spread her feet wider to tease him.

Naruto shook his head and glanced down her legs. "I'm not sure you want to know what I'm thinking right now."

Tayuya smiled. She liked this. "Oh I don't know," she said, turning around to face him, bending forward and pressing her hands in the fork of her legs, framing her breasts in her arms for him as she did so. She smiled in the way a wife with a healthy appetite does and stroked her thighs with her index fingers as Naruto watched. "Try me."

"Now Tayuya, you know what's going on here," said Naruto in mock chastisement. "Are you trying to distract me from my mission today?"

"Yep," said the Kunoichi, standing up only enough that her breasts hovered at eye-level for the sitting Naruto. "And you know I always get what I want," she said.

Naruto nodded once, not even fighting the lecherous grin. "That you do," he said. "My dear, that you do."


AN: I really like Naru/Tayu. (smirk) next to Naru/Ino it's my favorite pairing. I've always liked Tayuya though and thought she got screwed over in canon. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the first part, and there should be an update coming soon.

If you liked this you might check out my profile and browse through my short collection of stories. Right now I'm working primarily on The Gambit but I took a break to pen this one out. Hope to hear from you all soon!