He was sure of it… he was losing his mind. There was only so much that one could take before things finally began to blur. The men stood over his broken form and contemplated jovially over what exactly should be done next. He simply laid there as the men's discussion turned into an argument. He let himself be grabbed by his left arm… the shoulder was dislocated, but he didn't feel much anymore. His whole body was numb from it all. The man dragged him over to a table, the aching in his left shoulder increased. He wasn't very heavy anymore… in fact… he hadn't even grown since his capture.

His body had gone through so much trauma over the past five years… so much. Not a sound exits his throat. He hasn't uttered a sound in two years… he was sure his voice was gone forever. His beaten and battered body is hoisted onto the table and he allows a brief comfort in the cold slab of metal. His body was fevered. Sweat dripped down the sides of his face and forehead. His chest glistened under the lamp that shone on him. His ribs were visible and his bones poked out like eye sores. He was hardly ever given more to eat than a piece of bread and a stalk of celery with water to drink.

It seemed like a feast now. His hands would shake whenever he tried to pick them up… he would probably never hold a kunai again. Vaguely, he feels spikes be driven through his forearms and thighs. The men only did this in the first year… when he still fought back. When they all still fought back… when they were all still alive. He doesn't even shed a tear in his sorrow. It just makes the men more eager to play with him. He was the only one still left alive in his team. The only one to have survived… even when he'd tried to kill himself.

In all of his years hating what he was, this was the one time that he truly abhorred himself as the village people did. He cursed himself and his will broke. However, he never gave the men what they wanted. He never gave into their demands… he would never betray the village. He loved the village and those that were still alive within it's walls. He prayed they had given up on him and his team. There was nothing left of them now. He was as good as dead.

The life that had glistened in his cerulean eyes had long since extinguished itself. The blonde hair that had shimmered like the sun was paling and uneven. He had also grown to hate the sun, the men liked to tie him up and leave him outside naked. His body was tan and burnt… but still looked young. The scars that lined his body were thin. The demon within his body had originally been able to heal any wound and leave no trace, but now it was worn down. The Kyuubi was tired and unable to keep up with the torture. Once, he had stood before the cage the fox resided in and saw the exhaustion. Kyuubi's voice gave a ragged and thundery apology. That was the last time he heard from the fox… that was two years ago.

Suddenly, a scalpel is thrust into his body and he's dissected. There were no drugs administered… there never are. He can feel everything. They don't do much more than cut him and glance inside. The men don't like sticking their hands into his flesh anymore. He almost died the last time they did. He allows his eyes to glance at one of the men. He recognized him immediately when captured. The silver hair and glasses gave him away. There was only one difference… his eyes looked like a snake's and he stopped wearing the glasses. The other man was someone he didn't know and he usually ignored him.

He feels sick as another cut is made. Death from blood loss… it was edging towards him. He can feel himself slipping down farther and farther into a comforting coldness. Unfortunately, he's jerked back out of it. There's sound. Sounds he's never heard while within the men's captivity. An explosion. Light… sunlight shines in and blinds the three. He feels hopeful of dying during this attack. So much commotion… he just wants it to be over with. He silently prays… pleads… he begs someone to kill him. A familiar face is staring down at him now. He recognizes it… but he doesn't know why. It's a woman… pale eyes… black hair. Who is she? The spikes are carefully removed from his arms and thighs.

"Naruto-kun?" The woman speaks timidly.

He looks at her… he's blank. The name… Naruto… was that his name? He hadn't been called anything in five years. He vaguely remembers having a name. What was that name again? What were the names of his teammates? They died three years ago… he couldn't remember their names. Just their faces. Another person is at the table, brown hair… red triangled cheeks. He's familiar as well. Why? Who are these people that look horrified at his appearance? He knows it's worthless worrying over anything… he's being dragged back down to his own death. He turns his head up towards the sky and closes his eyes.

The village was a buzz. Kurenai had returned with her team and had apparently brought someone long thought dead back. The hospital had strictly forbid anyone from entering the room this person was in. Tsunade and Shizune were in there for days working on him. The body was in horrendous shape. Signs of years of torture evident all over the young man. Tsunade could only imagine his mental state. Shizune had thrust many people out of the hospital when they got too close to the room. The person that Tsunade and she were trying to save wouldn't be able to handle it.

People stood outside the walls of the building and waited for news. Shifts were created. So, when Tsunade was done, the people on the shift could spread the news. Whether it was good or bad. Finally, after a week of intensive medical attention… Tsunade deemed him stable enough to survive. She walked from the hospital to the Hokage tower. She needed to inform the Nanadaime of the young man's condition. She knew that the Hokage was beside himself with wanting to know who it was and if he was alright. She stepped into the Hokage's office and the man at the desk was on his feet instantly. He walked over to her.

"Kakashi… sit back down." Tsunade said softly.

"Tsunade-sama, who is it? No one's telling me anything!" Kakashi shouted in frustration. Everyone had been kept out of the loop. Only Kurenai, Kiba, Shino and Hinata knew who it was they returned with. "I want answers!"

"It's… Kakashi, it's Naruto." Tsunade said; tears that had threatened to burst from her all week finally came forth. "He's alive!"

"Naruto…?" Kakashi's masked mouth fell open. "He…"

"Yes, he's alive."

"I want to see him." Kakashi made to walk around Tsunade, but was halted by her hand on his shoulder.

"No one should see him… you have no idea what Kurenai's team is going through after seeing him. You have no idea what Shizune is going through." Tsunade uttered miserably. "What I'm going through… Kakashi… you should wait."

"No." Kakashi growled and shrugged his shoulder from her.

Tsunade followed him. She knew that he wouldn't take well to seeing Naruto in the state he was in. The blonde may look better now than he had before, but he was still an absolute mess. Naruto was terribly scarred and thin; he hadn't grown an inch since he left on the mission five years ago. Even though the blonde was supposed to be a healthy twenty-two year old… he still looked seventeen. He almost looked younger than that even. Tsunade walked behind the Nanadaime and steeled herself for his reaction. They entered the hospital and passed by Kurenai and her team. Kakashi noted just how much of an impact seeing Naruto had on them.

The team was sitting in the psych ward waiting for the doctor. Kurenai and Hinata were sobbing into each other's arms. Both women were shaking uncontrollably. Kiba was staring catatonically at the floor with wide eyes. He even had tears trickling down his cheeks. Shino sat beside Kibo, head in his hands and gripping his hair tightly. The psych ward's nurse saw Kakashi looking at them and shut the door. He felt his chest tighten and he spun away from the ward, running down the halls. Shizune was in the room, tending to Naruto when the door flew open.

"Nanadaime!" Shizune gasped and stood.

"Naruto." Kakashi couldn't move.

The blonde lying on the hospital bed before him wasn't Naruto. It couldn't be Naruto. His skin was darker… redder. His hair was almost white. There was no lean muscle or fat on the body. It was completely skin and bones. Scars riddled the skin and appeared a shade lighter than the rest. The worst part was Naruto was so small… so very small. Kakashi had always thought that if Naruto had still been alive after that mission fiver years prior, he'd have filled out. He had thought Naruto would end up taller than he was, that Naruto would have broader shoulders. The person that lie on that hospital bed wasn't Naruto… it couldn't be Naruto.

Then he saw them… the Nanadaime toppled to the side were a sink was. He pulled his mask down and emptied the contents of his stomach. Those three whiskered scars on Naruto's cheek were there. They had remained untouched by the hands of the torturers. Kakashi let out a strangled sob. It was Naruto. It was Konoha's most unpredictable ninja. It was the blonde he had adored so much. He had been living the past five years in shame that he'd never truly admitted his affections. Yet, seeing the blonde in such a state now… he felt even worse. Tsunade enters the room and watches mournfully as Kakashi falls onto his knees and grips the sink like a lifeline.

"I told you to wait." Tsunade whispers gently.

"Nanadaime?" Shizune tentatively steps towards the distraught Hokage.

Tsunade joins Shizune and they help Kakashi to his feet. After Tsunade has the man cleaned up a little, they walk over to Naruto's bedside. Kakashi feels himself grow cold as he slumps into the chair next to the bed. Naruto's breathing was shallow and coarse. His lips were split and chapped. The Nanadaime wants to put something on them to soothe them. Shizune, as if reading Kakashi's mind, stands on the other side and administers a balm to the lips. He reaches a hand out so he can touch the blonde, but Tsunade grabs it. She shakes his head at him solemnly.

"He's going to be out for a while…" Shizune states gently.

"We're putting special restrictions on this room and the hall in front of it. We don't want anyone to see him like this. Especially not until the Yamanaka clan can check his mental state." Tsunade sighs. "Kurenai said that they only found Naruto… Sakura, Shikamaru and Sai were no where to be found."

"She believes that they didn't survive…" Shizune chokes back a tear.

Kakashi's mind absorbed the information, but he had no response. He just sat in the chair, shoulders sagging and eyes blurred. His head looked in Naruto's direction… he saw nothing and he saw everything. The young man was alive… but he was also dead. Kakashi knew that. He knew that Naruto would never be the same. He felt sick again. The Nanadaime closed his eyes and put his right hand over his eyes. He didn't want to look at Naruto… he didn't want to see what he saw… and yet, he wanted to be there. He didn't want to leave. Never. He never wanted to leave.

Tsunade left the room. She instructed Shizune to stay and keep an eye on both Naruto and Kakashi. The former Hokage walked down the halls. He took a step out of the building and was greeted by two Jounin. One was a female with long blonde hair and pale blue eyes, Ino. The other was a slightly plump male with auburn hair and spirals adorning his cheeks, Chouji. They had heard that Kurenai's team had come back with someone. Someone that had disappeared five years ago. They had hoped it was one of their friends. They prayed it was one of them. Just one… any one… it didn't matter which of the four, they just wanted one back.

"Ino. Chouji." Tsunade greets them, repressing her emotions again. "It's… Naruto."

"Oh thank God. One of them survived!" Ino cried out and found it hard to contain her happiness. "Can we see him?"

"No, no one can see him… not until your father assesses his mental health." Tsunade states.

"His mental health?" Chouji frowns. "What happened to him?"

"…" Tsunade swallowed hard. She couldn't stop the tears from escaping her eyes anymore. "Too much."


Eh…………………. Different from the others I've written, ain't it? *cough*

I do promise to finish this… so don't worry. I will try to update as often as I possibly can. I have a lot of projects I'm working on, but I will try my best to keep going!!