AN: This is actually written to occur between Manga Release 403-407, in which Naruto learns of Jiraiya and thinks on the village and Jiraiya. It is a little angst filled… okay a lot angst filled, but I always felt the below needed to be said. I have always wondered if Naruto, who is amazing at seeing the darkness in others ever noticed. If he did notice how would he deal with it? So enjoy.

For those who read my ROD story, I am working on next section, and hope to have it up for editing by end of weekend…


Title: Does anyone see me?

Beta: Liobi's Curse

Sitting amongst the Yodaime's hair spikes, Uzumaki Naruto looked out at the village view he had always loved. The way the sunset made it appear as if the village was on fire, to him was the perfect way to see the Shinobi village in the Land of Fire. Yet, the sky did not bring him peace of mind like it use to.

A few days ago he had learned of Jiraiya's death, and after speaking with Iruka and Shikamaru his heart hurt less. But the pain… the pain was still echoing in him. He had agreed today to take up Sage training with the Toad's, and Pa seemed alright. But contrary to what everyone thought, it was not for training that he had agreed to go.

No, Naruto had agreed because he needed to get away from the village. All those years of traveling with ero-sennin had made it harder to ignore the misgivings he had for his village and his precious people. Naruto loved them, but he also sort of hated them a little.

Contrary to the general consensus, Naruto was very good at reading people and circumstances. He may not be book smart, or the quickest on uptake of the half conversations his fellow shinobi used, but Naruto knew people and he knew lies when he heard them. He just found being the fool made people let their guards down more. They underestimated him, and gave away more than they realized.

Take the Uchiha massacre; he was now positive that more was going on than what Sasuke though about what had happened all the years ago. Why? Well it could be that they had just fought another Akatsuki member who had the Sharingan, meaning that Itachi and Sasuke were not been the only survivors. He had also always wondered about Itachi, the type of massacre he was accused of did not create people who acted like he did. Most saw Itachi as cold, unemotional, evil. Naruto had seen more, what he had seen in Itachi's face was guilt, pain and self-loathing. When he had seen Itachi with Sasuke all those years ago at their first meeting, he had seen also the love in the back of his eyes. Itachi, whatever his reasons, was protecting Sasuke in a twisted way.

Armed with that knowledge, Naruto had wanted to stop Sasuke and bring him back to the village. He knew that when he killed Itachi, and it would happen, his best friend would be broken. Now Sasuke was in Akatsuki hands, and Naruto knew that they would manipulate him. His conversation with Itachi in the woods made sense now. Akatsuki would twist him; twist truths to make Sasuke an enemy of Konoha.

As he looked out at the village, the hate inside of him fought to surface. Hate that he had hidden for so long. It was not hate for the villagers who had done him wrong. Nor for the people who should have been there for him in the past and still never apologized for leaving him alone in his childhood. No, this hate was because Naruto was angry that even now, no one saw him. Naruto was truly the epitome of Jinchuuriki. Not just because of the demon sealed into him, or the fact that he was sacrificed as a child to save this village. No, a Jinchuuriki was not a person but a thing, and that is what Naruto had become.

He felt he was a remembrance of what others had lost or desired.

He loved ero-sennin, but he also knew that when Jiraiya had looked at him he saw other things. Oh, by the time they returned to the village, the old man had probably seen him as a grandson but he still mostly saw him as a replacement for his previous student. Namikaze Minato, Naruto's father. He still remember the pain he had felt the first time Jiraiya had come back from drinking to call him Minato, and how he had apologized for betraying Kushina and him. That betrayal happened to be the abandonment of Minato's only son, Uzumaki Naruto who happened to be Jiraiya's own godson. To make it even worse for the first year or so of training, Jiraiya had spent more time on teaching him to use Kyuubi. Naruto had always wondered if Jiraiya had ever believed in Naruto or if he only saw him as a conduit for Minato and the Kyuubi. Naruto was a reflection of Jiraiya's guilt…

Tsunade treated him like a baby brother, sometimes a son, but Naruto knew it wasn't him she saw. Tsunade saw Nawkai and Dan, perhaps even his parents. He was a ghost of her past, lost loved ones returned to her. Whenever she looked at the Shodai's necklace around his throat, it wasn't him she saw, but the ones who came before and died. Naruto was a reflection of the past Tsunade had still not truly let go of…

Kakashi was another who only saw the past. Naruto had seen it in his eyes from the first time he showed up. He had not known who it was that Kakashi had seen, until the time he was visiting Sarutobi and saw the picture of the Yondaime's genin team. He had seen an Uchiha with goggles on his head, and a smile similar to Naruto's own, he had seen his face in the Yodaime, and had begun to wonder. Eventually, through snooping, he had found out what happened to his sensei's old team, and about the people themselves. He was a horrible reminder of lost chances to Kakashi, which he still wasn't willing to move on from. He was Obito's personality wearing his father's face. To Kakashi, Naruto was his past coming back to haunt him…

The old man, Sarutobi, had never really seen Naruto. If he had he would have seen how much the boy wanted to live a different life. The Sandaime had seen Minato, Jiraiya, and even himself. He had wanted Naruto to grow up to be Hokage, because he wanted to shape the next leader, and somehow atone for his mistakes. Very few knew but it was the Sandaime who had pushed Naruto to the dream of being Hokage. A dream he wasn't even sure he had wanted. Naruto wanted to be seen and loved, not lead a village that hated him. Sarutobi had closed his eyes to the real Naruto, much as he had closed his eyes to Orochimaru's hatred. Naruto had been all of Sarutobi's mistakes in one person. Instead of fixing the mistakes, he had done them all over again…

Iruka was getting better at seeing Naruto, but even he still saw someone else when he looked at Naruto. He saw himself! First as a prankster acting out from loneliness, now as a teen grieving for loved ones lost. Naruto couldn't shake the feeling that Iruka saw his past, and wanted to comfort himself as a child when he looked at Naruto…

Konohamaru saw a rival and cool older big brother who was never afraid nor doubted. He never saw Naruto's insecurities. He didn't see that Naruto was training him to be the Hokage that the Sandaime had wanted Naruto to be. Naruto doubted he would live to take the title…no that was for Konohamaru…

Sakura saw the person who always made her feel better even at the cost of his own pain. The one who could heal her heart by returning Team 7 to what it had once been; though it most likely wasn't even possible anymore. She never saw that he needed Sasuke not for her but for himself. Sasuke was supposed to save Naruto, not the other way around. He was the prodigy, the older best friend/brother. But Sasuke didn't care, and Naruto had to ignore the fact that Sasuke was becoming what he thought Itachi was…

Neji saw a person who would defy fate and fix the Hyuga clan; he never saw that Naruto was drowning in his own destiny that wouldn't let him go. That Naruto defied fate, but fate was kicking his ass…

Lee saw himself, another hard worker who had obstacles to overcome. He never noticed that the only reason Naruto worked hard was because when he trained he could forget. Naruto was not a hard worker to prove himself; he was a hard worker in an attempt to burn himself out. Lee didn't see that he had a teacher who believed in him and taught him. Naruto didn't have that… the ones who claim to believe in him didn't see him, nor did they teach him…

Kiba saw a reflection of himself, loud brash, a fool. Naruto was only loud in public, if left alone he would prefer silence. His favorite moments were the ones in which he was working on his plants in the quiet of his apartment, he was loud not by his personality, but so he wouldn't be ignored or forgotten…

Shikamaru and Shino knew he was not what others saw, but for reasons of their own, never tried to get to know him. Shikamaru was too lazy and found it to 'troublesome' to figure out the real him, and Shino either seemed to realize that Naruto no longer knew who he was, or assumed Naruto had a reason for being this way…

Hinata saw the smile, the hard work, the strong will and sought to emulate him and adored him from a far. Even with her eyes, she couldn't see that he was actually sad, lonely and desired to give up. What Naruto desired was for her to step forward and try to meet the Naruto behind the smile, love that person not the public persona he created, and never let down. He wanted her to see the real him, and realize he needed someone to emulate, just as she did…

Even Yamato…he saw a reflection of himself. A person who was overshadowed by someone else's power; Yamato by the Shodai, Naruto by the Kyubi…

"There you are Naruto-kun," a hollow voice interrupted his thoughts.

Naruto turned his head to see Sai heading towards him. Dressed in his casual wear, Sai moved to sit next to him amongst the spikes of hair. "Hey Sai, what are you doing here?"

"Looking for you," a fake smile flashed. "It a very beautiful view, I will have to come back here to paint it some time."

Naruto hummed agreement, and brought his knees up to rest his arms and chin against. They sat in silence for a few moments.

"So why were you looking for me?" Naruto asked.

"Curiosity and perhaps concern?" seeing Naruto's face scrunch, "You fake being a person so well and I can feel you are starting to lose your way."

"Huh?"

"You do not have to act for me dickless, I see you, and you are like most NE members. Not a person but an object to be used and discarded. I am curious about you, because you hide it so well, and blend in with everyone else. You fight so hard to be more than what people want you to be. I see the hatred hidden in the false smile that still is more real than an honest one from others. I see your desire to lie down and stop fighting, but you force yourself on. It makes me wonder if I also can one day force myself to be something I am not, but wish I was."

Naruto looked at Sai, and nodded his head.

Who would have thought that a NE ANBU would be the one to see him… even if not clearly…