A/N: Wow, it's really been a while. Er, sorry about that, everyone! I hadn't realized how long it's been. I got a bit back into it and the ideas just keep writing themselves into play. I have absolutely no idea where most of this came from! It was like word vomit, I swear.
Only A Moron
The next couple of days after the demon attack weren't pleasant. I was one among many whose job was to clean up the mess; I spent long hours getting rid of rubble, bloodstains and unrecognisable once human remains that still lingered with the sense of that horrid red chakra.
I threw up a few times during the process; still shaken from being in the presence of an overwhelming monster, I felt like I'd been hit with the flu every time I encountered the remnants of its chakra. It seeped into the buildings; it stained all those who'd been near it and defiled the dead.
None of the able shinobi got much, if any, respite; our population was decimated in a way I'd never seen before. Ninja and civilians alike were ashes, or melted or burned or twisted in death.
For the first time, I understood how so many could have lost so much to one enemy. And a small, self-disgusted part of me understood how people reacted the way that they did to Naruto.
I hated myself for feeling sympathetic to anyone that would mistreat a child; and yet, my reaction to him was so sudden, I almost couldn't believe it had happened.
I saw him three days after the attack; I was transporting medical supplies through the hospital, when I passed a door that made me stop. I looked inside, and there he was; a baby, one of many in that room. But immediately, I knew it was him. As soon as I'd gotten closer to him, I'd felt the demon's chakra – it clung to the kid, cloying in the air, infecting everything around him. Not enough to warp anything, or to change anything, or to be destructive; I could tell straight away that it was harmless to others.
And yet, it was still terrifying. I felt sick just looking at him; my gut reaction wormed its way up my throat and my vision blurred. I gasped, and stumbled backwards, having to clutch onto the doorway. All I could hear was the sudden thrumming of my heart inside my ears and all I could sense was the heavy oppressive cloud of horror that swelled from the baby and it was so incomprehensible, to feel all of that disgusting thick chakra and yet see a baby just sleep through it. My senses panicked and flared uncontrollably and suddenly it was all over me – its claws were digging into my skin and I could feel it ripping through my throat and burning through my head and I couldn't see, I couldn't breathe –
I woke up with my sensei bent over me, face panicked and worried. I squinted up at him through dizzy eyes and tried to ask him what the hell had happened, but all that came out was a croak and the feeling that I was going to vomit.
I noticed then that his mouth was moving, and tried to concentrate through the ringing in my ears.
" –shit, shit, Rijii, can you hear me –"
"Aeurghuhm," I managed to blur out through my lax lips. "whu hahpeh..?"
He sighed, relieved at the spark of coherency in my eyes as they focused on him. "Don't worry," he said to me, "you're alright now, you've been seen to already by the doctors."
That was when I noticed that I was on a hospital bed with an IV drip hooked into my arm. I grimaced, and started to work the pins and needles out of my arms and legs.
"How long have I been out?" I asked, once I sat up and had some water.
Sensei threw his head back and laughed in relief. "Oh thank Kami! For a moment there, I thought you wouldn't be able to speak properly."
I stared at him, and still didn't comprehend. Thankfully, he started to answer my questions.
"You've been out for almost a week."
"You're kidding," I said. "What happened?"
Sensei sighed. "It's a long story..."
And then he filled me in on what I'd missed since I'd been out of it. A lot of the mess from the attack had been cleaned up; they'd already begun rebuilding, and the civilians had been let out of the tunnels (they'd been kept there so as not to go face-to-face with all the gory consequences that demons bring with them. Plus, it was always mandatory to keep them secure for longer after any issue, just in case there was ever any sort of follow-up.)
Then sensei told me about the rumours that had begun about how the Kyuubi wasn't really dead after all, and how it was hidden amongst the babies, just waiting until it regained enough strength to strike again. My sensei told me how all of that was apparent nonsense, however, as the Sandaime Hokage had needed to step in to address the rumours and set the record straight about how we now had a Jinchuriki in our village. It was weird; it seemed to me that knowledge of Naruto's existence as a demon carrier hadn't been intended to be known, but someone had leaked it, and the Hokage's announcement was just an attempt at damage control. Unfortunately, the rumours had already spread and mutated, and doubt and fear were already prevalently directed at the baby.
Then sensei told me about my particular predicament. Apparently, they'd been keeping the baby incognito with the rest of the orphans. There had been (and probably still was) an extensive ANBU guard around the boy (well, as extensive as it could be after the attack) that would intervene if any threat was made towards the baby.
My sensei gave me a stern look. "Why did you never tell me you were a chakra hypersensitive?"
Unfortunately for me, I was chakra sensitive to certain extremes; I wasn't like a chakra sensor, I couldn't detect it from long distances or be able to discern its nature. I was, however, extremely aware of chakra in any way that interacted with me or my senses. Any minor imbalance to my system was met with extreme prejudice; some sort of mental block just wouldn't play nice with chakra. Moulding it was like reaching for a rose and feeling only the thorns, and hoping that practice would harden my skin. I knew that this was because of my previous existence without any trace of chakra, and then suddenly having an integral integrated impact with its entirety. Since I'd become a Genin I had become better at dealing with it; My control necessitated such precision that I was now generally able to use it without such drastic consequences to myself anymore.
It used to be that the slightest imbalance of moving chakra down my leg would turn it completely numb and useless and intensely painful as if all my nerves were constantly set on fire. And now, apparently, my condition wasn't quite the secret I had hoped it to be.
"Oh," I said. "Uh. There's a name for it?"
"Yes, Rijii. And it is an extremely rare condition. That I could have helped you with. Why didn't you say anything?"
I knew why I'd never mentioned it, of course. The only reason I suffered from it was because I was originally not from this world. At least, that's what I'd always thought; if it was an actual known medical condition, maybe I had even more rotten luck than just being dropped into all this ninja business in the first place. Or maybe all the others who'd had it had come from other worlds too.
"I dunno," I muttered, "I've just always had it. It didn't seem like I should bother anyone with something I could handle."
My sensei rolled his eyes. "Dear Kami, save me from mindless Genin." He frowned at me again, but it lost its edge under the worry. "It could be really dangerous, Rijii. People who weren't careful enough have died because of it."
I looked down at my hands as they twisted in the hospital blanket. "Sorry," I mumbled. "I'm really careful, I swear."
He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "It's okay, we'll figure something out. It's just such an unknown condition that no one's really sure what to do with you. I think the last known people to have it were all hermits. Or monks, or something. Although, there was a konoha shinobi who got it a while back as a result of some head injuries. Tsunade's not here right now, but before she went she left a copy of her notes from her work with the guy. You'll be fine, we can go through all of that."
"It's okay," I said, a little startled, "I'm not going to die from it anytime soon; I've managed my condition for ages now."
"You almost died from it already, Rijii," he said, and explained to me what had put me into this hospital bed. Apparently, even though the Kyuubi was all contained in that one little baby, its initial presence had still been quite powerful, and demon chakra was more pervasive than anything else. My sensei reckoned that some of the rumours had started because the chakra sensitives in Konoha could still feel the Kyuubi so strongly.
"The Death God used his powers to trap the nine-tailed demon," he said. "That's a lot of energy going around; when that much power is put into one tiny place, it doesn't just disappear so easily. Every use of chakra leaves a residue, of sorts; admittedly, it's not one we can usually sense. But these particular powers were just so intense – it was like, instead of waiting for one drop of spilt water to dissipate back into the air, there had been a humongous raging storm that left residue the size of a lake. Normally, even a hypersensitive wouldn't notice that single drop of water as they stepped on it. But when you got close to the Jinchuriki it was like you stepped right into the middle of the lake, and the current was so strong that it pulled you under. It was like your whole system reacted to the chakra and – well, to continue the metaphor, you were drowning in it. I think your heart stopped. Luckily, the ANBU were right there, and you were already in the hospital, so they managed to get you to the medics in time."
He seemed a bit pale, and I noticed his hands clenched tightly. I wondered if he'd lost anyone to the Kyuubi attack and was reliving it through me. It was probable; I think everyone who had anyone lost someone that night.
"So then what happened?" I asked.
He shrugged, slouching. "Mahh. I think all the residue is gone by now. The Hokage took precaution from your reaction, though; I've noticed a perimeter around the kid from which all chakra sensitives have subsequently been subtly directed away from, just in case."
I frowned. "But we're sensitive in different ways."
"True," he said, "but you became overwhelmed because of close proximity. It could have overwhelmed their senses, too."
"But didn't they notice the chakra was right there anyway?"
"No; their senses were pretty burned from being near the Kyuubi in its full form during the attack. I don't think any of those sensitive enough to get past the muting seals around the kid are recovered enough to be precise in pinpointing his position."
"But... If it was muted to begin with, why did I have that reaction?"
"You didn't need a map to find the lake; you stepped into that lake without meaning to. The others just couldn't find the lake on the map."
I groaned and lay back down, mumbling; "Sensei, you always use such long metaphors." The brief adrenaline that had hit my system from waking up without knowing anything had already ebbed, and I felt fatigue sweep through me and went back to sleep.