Naruto ran for his life. He had just turned seven years old and he feared he would never see eight. The tenth of October was always a bad day for him, but this year seemed different. The people were not content to scowl or throw trash, they held a bloodlust. They wanted vengeance, some satisfaction that could be got from a body. Naruto ran and felt he could never stop, unless he wanted to be that body.
The boy ran ducking into alleys and scaling fences. He leapt over some trashcans and dipped around another blind corner. Three buildings blocked him into a tight box. He quickly surveyed the trap and found a stormpipe running up one wall. He climbed with all his might and reached the top while the weight of the pursuers kept them from following. He dashed from roof to roof. The tightly packed buildings allowed him mobility and concealed him from being seen from the ground.
Naruto continued to run long after the angry screams faded into the background. His muscles burned with the exertion. Fatigue was setting in and the boy decided it would be safe to return to his shabby apartment and wait out the mobs. He aimed for his dwelling and began to leap again from roof to roof. His steps were becoming more and more labored.
In an average neighborhood over an average street Naruto made one more jump. His footing slipped at the last moment and he sprawled through the air. His small hands caught the edge of the roof. The tiny ledge only slowed his fall, but the angle of his leap changed the boy's direction of travel from down to forward. He pendulumed through the window before him, crashing into the modest house. He was on his feet in an instant. He looked around fearful of the potential residents. The room seemed to be quiet, as did the rest of the house. The boy took a cautious step further into the room. The light from the street shone through the demolished window to reveal a light fog of dust swirling in the air. The unsettled particles were a fragment of the covering that pervaded every surface in sight.
Naruto was curious by nature. The terror of the night so far subsided as the desire to explore took over. The house was abandoned. Naruto checked each room with what he felt was ninja stealth. He stalked through the kitchen opening each cupboard. He slunk from bedroom to bedroom poking into closets and drawers. The crept through the simple office inspecting books and scrolls. The house had been empty for a long while as far as he could see. He returned to the room that had witnessed his entrance and blocked off the window. He dropped on the bed that occupied one wall. As he came down a massive cloud of choking dust came up. After wheezing and coughing away the offending particles the boy settled into the musty bed and succumbed to his exhaustion.
Naruto ran for his life. The streets were a maze that he could not untangle. He dodged blows and thrown objects. He spun around a corner and scrambled up a drainpipe to the rooftops. The mob was not deterred. They took flight and came at him from above. Before him was the same house from the night before. He leaped. This time his foot took purchase on the shingles and he ran to the center of the building. Standing there was a man with his back to the boy. There was no malice from this man, and as he turned the crowd abandoned their chase. Kind eyes settled on the frightened boy. "Welcome home." The man's words shone as kindly as his eyes.
Naruto sat up in the unfamiliar bed. He had come to this place the night before and found it a haven. In his dream he had come here again and it was something more. He stood from the bed and brushed the dust from his person. The room took on a new life in the light of the morning. Where the dust shone blue and orange in the lights of the moon and the glow of street lamps, now it held a dull gray. The film seemed to conceal what was underneath. Naruto ran a hand over the top of the small table situated nest to the bed to find the wood underneath was nicely finished and well designed. He brushed more of the surface and the piece of furniture exuded a warmth and life the rest of the room lacked. Encouraged by his findings Naruto went in search of supplies with which to revive the rest of the room.
In the more inclusive light Naruto noticed things about the dwelling that he didn't the night before. There were pictures on the wall above the stairs. There were shoes next to the front door. A single place was set at the island in the kitchen. Naruto again went through each cupboard and found a broom and dustpan in a narrow closet nest to the refrigerator. He noted that some food remained in the cupboards including some scattered cups of instant noodles. He would return to this issue later. For now he took the cleaning supplies back to the bedroom and began gathering the shards of glass.
After an hour the room no longer held a pallor but instead a warm mix of deep browns. The floors were traditional hardwood as was the trim and furniture. The decoration was spartan and the closet bare. Naruto guessed this had been a guestroom. Once this room passed the young boy's inspection he indulged in some of the remaining food and went on to the next room. The next to receive its treatment was what appeared to be a nursery. A comfortable rocking chair drew the boy's eyes immediately and he took special care to remove all signs of neglect from it. The crib and tall dresser got similar attention. Naruto didn't know why, but felt this space should be given loving care. He found a laundry room next and since the electricity and water worked he put it to use on the musty bedding from these two rooms.
The final room on the upper floor held a desk in addition to the bad and nightstand. The closet contained some odd articles of clothing, and overall this space looked to have been put to frequent use. The desk was stocked with in and paper. In the drawers were notes and two small scrolls that the boy could not decipher with his limited education. The clothing in the closet reminded Naruto of the uniform of a jounin. In addition to the flak vest and equipment pouches he found a pair of bracers that extended out onto the hand. He also found a square-shouldered red vest. Upon sizing it against himself the man that wore it must be three times his size at least. There was a small framed photo on the desk, but Naruto didn't recognize the four people in it. They seemed to be a jounin and his gennin team.
Naruto continued his cleaning through the living areas on the lower floor. By the time he was finished he needed to eat again. He helped himself to more instant noodles and decided he would finish the whole house today. He took to the office. The smell was not the moldy one Naruto had expected. It was dry and stale but once the narrow window was opened and the dust released from its long resting places the room was comfortable and seemed to calm the usually hyper boy. The three pictures adorning the desk interested the young blond. The first held the same man as the one upstairs. His white hair seemed to be longer and his face a little more weathered, but the smile was the same. The man next to him in this picture seemed very familiar to Naruto with his captivating eyes and bright yellow hair. He wore a robe that excited the fox-faced youth with its colorful flame trim. The second photo was a smiling woman with the kindest face Naruto had ever seen. She had striking red hair and her eyes closed in a smile that hurt the boy in the best way. The third photo was the blond man and the red-haired woman together. They wore fine kimonos that suggested this was a wedding picture. Though it seemed both were aware of the camera, their eyes were aimed at each other. Whoever they were the boy could tell they loved eachother.
The final room on Naruto's mission to resuscitate the abandoned house was the master bedroom. The bed was stripped down and the two nightstands cleaned thoroughly. A vanity in one corner held a simple lacquered box of jewelry. The contents were simple and tasteful. The brush still held a few strands of long red hair. In the drawer Naruto found what looked like a journal. He left it in its place and continued in his task. The closets held wardrobes that fascinated the boy. On one side of the room the closet belonging to the woman held just two formal kimonos, but a wide assortment of ninja clothing. There was light armor for every part of the body. A jounin vest and an ANBU mask were evidence of rank achievements. Drawers contained clothes fit for common towns people in a variety of professions. The back of the closet held equipment and weapons pouches and a well-made and high quality backpack with survival and camping gear. The man's closet held three of the flame-trimmed coats and two jounin vests. There was high quality ninja attire in black khaki and dark blue with copies to spare. The space was organized and well maintained despite its recent neglect. The same kimono from the picture was hung caringly at one end. The drawers held scrolls of various sizes, but each was labeled. Some were clothing some weapons. Some contained field gear. One small drawer enthralled the boy. Inside were a dozen shuriken with an unusual three-headed design. Also in the drawer were three scrolls designated "Hiraishin Kunai". Naruto inspected each article and then replaced it taking special care to note its place and position.
Naruto decided he would return to his apartment having completed his self imposed mission. He took a last look and headed for the stairs, planning to exit the way he came in. Before he reached the steps the island in the kitchen caught his eye. In all his efforts he had forgotten to remove the old place setting and wash dishes. He walked to the kitchen removed the cup and silverware and deposited them in the sink. He lifted the plate and turned to see to his task, when something floated from the bottom of the plate and landed back on the countertop. Naruto set the plate down and raised the item to eye level. It was another picture. In it the red-haired woman was in a hospital gown and seemed to be in a state of calm. In her arms a baby slept. The child had a full head of yellow-blond hair. Naruto turned the photo over to find a single line written in clear but hurried scriptKushina and Naruto, 10/10
The stunned youth read and reread the line but still didn't believe what he saw. He ran to the nearby office and checked the pictures again. He carefully removed the likeness of the smiling woman from its frame and turned it over. He found a similar label. Kushina 4/21. The other pictures were labeled in the same clear hand. Me and Kushina. Our wedding day. 8/1. The last one held the label Jiraya-sensei and the team. Each label gave more information, but the piece he was missing still burned in the boy's mind. He raced to the room upstairs and checked its photo. Its too was labeled but in a different script. A great day with my greatest student, Minato. So the man was Minato and the woman Kushina. Naruto felt the pull of his question. He needed to find out why his name was on this photo. It was labeled on his birthday. If this was him, if these were his parents, if this was meant to be his home he needed to know.
He made up his mind and went to the journal in the vanity. With utmost respect he unwound the ribbon that secured the cover and turned the pages. He found nothing for a long time. He grew impatient and flipped to the final entry. Just one sentence that confirmed all his guesses. He was not alone. His parents had loved him. His parents had been high level ninja. He was wanted.
Naruto will come tomorrow; I can feel it and I can't wait for my beautiful son.