The Hope of a New Dawn
AN: Hey everyone and welcome to my new story from the Naruto universe. For those of you who don't know, I am actually also listed on this site under the username 'SicnereNaruto'. This is actually a new account I've created and the reasons for my doing so are addressed under my profile for anyone who is curious.
My other account will still be active and in use, but this one will be used for some of my new ideas or enhancements.
Anyway, to explain, this story came to me as an idea that seemed a bit crazy at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give it a try. I wasn't going to do anything so soon, especially with "Eyes of the Broken Soul" currently underway, but I guess my own interest won over in the end.
I decided to give it a try, even if it doesn't work, so here's hoping for the best. ^ ^
Plot summary: Having grown up under the cruelty and discrimination of his fellow villagers, Naruto has always lived a hard life devoid of any love or attention and the boy is often the target of Konoha's ire. Then things take a turn for the worst when Akatsuki manages to capture him at a young age, threatening to end his life before he has even had a chance to really live.
However, in a startling twist of fate, help comes in the form of an unexpected guise when some of Akatsuki's own decide to escape with the boy and free him form his captors. After that, the real journey in Naruto's life finally begins.
See Naruto as he grows up under the protection and nurturing of his new misfit caretakers, with all the hopes and dreams of a better life now resting on the unexpected bonds he makes, whose hands now offer him the chance of a brighter future.
Chapter 1 - Crimson Twilight
"Come back here you little brat! When we get our hands on you, you'll regret the day you were born!"
The angry cry of a bitter hatred echoed across the cold night air of Konoha, momentarily drowning out the soft patter of tiredly racing feet as they carried their owner away from the danger that had now befallen them. A young boy whose racing heart only served to provide the strength he needed to run, desperately sprinted as fast as his legs could carry him, doing his best to escape the crowd at his heels as they continued to shout words of slander, while throwing debris at the figure of their disdain.
One object, quickly and rather painfully identified as a glass bottle, managed to clip the boy on his shoulder just as he rounded a nearby corner, causing him to loose his balance and trip over his own legs, before being brought to the ground with a heavy thud and sliding to a halt in the dust.
After that, it wasn't long before the crowd that had been chasing him rounded up on their prey, and it was all the boy could do to curl up into a ball, in an effort to protect himself, even though it was an effort in vain.
For young Uzumaki Naruto, this was an occurrence he was not unfamiliar with. It wasn't the first time he had been chased in the streets of his own village nor the first time he had endured the hatred so readily directed towards him.
For the most part, he had been able to avoid being caught in times past, or he would be lucky enough to pass the Hokage tower in his efforts to escape, which for some reason, his pursuers would never follow him to.
However, there were times when he was not so lucky, where he would slip up or make a mistake, one that would give his pursuers the chance to catch him. Unfortunately, the consequences for such a mistake were always severe and never once had he been shown any mercy for it.
This was one of those unfortunate moments, and as the crowd descended on the boy before them, Naruto simply squeezed his eyes shut and covered his head with his arms, doing his best to shield himself as much as he could manage.
"No, please don't hurt me..."
However, despite his efforts, the boy's pleas for help only fell on deaf ears and it was only moments later when his fears materialized into a painful reality, as fists and other weapons began to rain down across his body in hail of unforgiving blows. He didn't know why it happened, or what he did to deserve such hatred and cruelty, all he knew was that he felt so afraid and alone.
"That's right, lets show the monster what pain feels like!"
"This is what you get for running!"
"Don't try to fool us with those tears! We know what you really are!"
The assault simply continued unhindered, while Naruto's cries for mercy eventually died down as his body grew ever weaker. The boy's desperate pleas were only muffled by the angry curses that reached into his heart and soon he was too weak to cry anymore.
"... please... stop..."
After what felt like an eternity, his voice had finally failed him and only his pain and tears remained, but even that began to fade away as his body started to grow numb in weakness, while his eyes grew darker in their wavering gaze, with the encroaching shadow now eclipsing his vision completely.
'Will I... is this the last time...?'
The boy didn't even know if he would survive this encounter. He had been beaten badly in the past, but each time it had only gotten worse than the last. This time, it felt like it wasn't going to end at all and Naruto's terror only grew that much more, clinging to his chest with a deadly grip that threatened to break his soul.
The cruel exposure to the icy breeze that covered him did little to help his situation, but soon even that could no longer be felt as it seeped into is numbing body.
However, despite the hopelessness of his situation, Naruto's plight did not go completely unnoticed and in the distant shadows, two darkened eyes continued to watch the scene unfold, while their owner, whose form was hidden away from the soft moonlight that bathed the streets around them, finally offered to speak in a whisper.
"So, it seems as though our search for the Jinchuuriki has been met with relative ease. They are treated with just as much hatred and discrimination as we suspected, so it wasn't difficult to single him out."
Following the heavily offered, yet oddly calm words, another voice broke from the shadows, this one deeper and far more menacing than that the last one.
"That is true." It offered non-nonchalantly. "But if we don't act soon, our target might be killed before we can even capture him. Perhaps we should intervene and save ourselves that disappointment?"
Although it couldn't be seen, both figures seemed to silently agree and moments later, two crimson eyes peered out of the darkness, their pupils marked with three black tomoe and hardened with a remorseless gaze.
Burning like a fire in the shadows, they only served to warn of the danger lurking in their depths and the hidden wrath that would befall any who would dare to look into their gaze.
"It's time for all of you to disappear..."
Suddenly, the crowd that had gathered around Naruto fell into an abrupt silence, and the assault that had continued unabated for so long ended just as quickly.
"Did someone just hear that?" One of the many voices called out carefully.
"Yeah, I think we may have been discovered." Another replied, just as cautiously. "I think we should get out of here, before the Hokage learns of what is happening. Maybe we should throw him in a dumpster and hope no-one finds him."
"No, we don't have time." One last voice called out. "Let's just leave, there will always be another chance and someone else might find him and finish what we started."
With that, the crowd began to disperse quietly once more, with only a few whispered curses breaking the otherwise deadly silence that had since befallen them. After a few moments following, the eyes that continued to watch from the distance could eventually make the small, battered form left in their wake as it slowly came into view, its form now silent and unmoving.
"We'll finish this next time, freak." One of the assailants growled.
With that, the last villager left, only pausing to deliver one last, remorseless blow to the hapless figure at his feet, offered through a sharp kick. After that, only Naruto's motionless body remained, cradled in the soft moonlight that bathed him in its silver and white embrace.
Moments later, two figures, both covered in black cloaks marked with red clouds along their surface, emerged from the shadows, before making their way over to the subject of their attention. Although neither of their features could be seen behind the straw hats that covered their faces, the red eyes that had previously been present among them were now completely absent again.
"You never fail to amaze me, Itachi-san..." The taller of the two figures finally offered. "To think that it was so easy for you to send them away like that, I must say this is almost so simple that it's boring. I had hoped for some kind of challenge, but instead all we get is a small, defenseless child and a mob of witless villagers."
"Calm down Kisame..." The shorter figure, now identified as Itachi, replied coldly.
"We did not come here to start a war. The less trouble we have to deal with, the better. This makes it easier for both of us and allows us to avoid any unnecessary conflict."
Itachi's eyes then moved down towards the earth, before searching over the battered form lying at his feet. Naruto's body was now completely covered in dust and markings, as well as the numerous bruises and wounds inflicted by his attackers. The traces of blood that covered his clothing was only further extenuated by the moonlight that bathed him and Itachi's cold, lifeless eyes only narrowed even more dangerously upon seeing the signs of his abuse.
Seeing his companion's sudden change in expression, Kisame simply smiled wryly, his sharp, white teeth hissing threateningly from behind the shadow of his coverings.
"I see you are displeased, Itachi-san." He offered carelessly, with little regard for his words. "Is this why you left your village? Because of occurrences like these?"
The amount of killing intent that followed almost immediately afterwards was almost suffocating, but even despite such a threatening gesture, Kisame remained unmoving in his position or demeanor. He had already long since grown used to reading his companion and he knew that he was in no real danger... yet.
"Watch your words carefully Kisame, and do not speak of things you know nothing about." Itachi finally replied. "I will not suffer your ignorance in this matter."
Kisame simply bowed his head knowingly, having received the warning, and then turned his gaze to share with that of Itachi's. Looking over Naruto's body, he then stepped forward again, with his shark-like grin still unmoving from his expression.
"Well then, I guess there's no point in wasting any more time in this place. Let's just take him and leave. I'll do the honors of carryi..."
"No..." Itachi cut him off, holding out a hand to halt his companion's advance. "I will carry him myself. Besides, knowing your careless nature, you will probably kill him before we have even left the village walls."
Kisame was slightly taken aback by the sudden demand. It was unlike Itachi to show any concern when it came to the well-being of others, much less any emotion at all. The young man had never even gone beyond showing a hint of slight annoyance even at the worst of times, but tonight he had revealed far more than his companion had ever seen in him before.
Obliging to the request, Kisame moved aside once more, allowing Itachi access to the boy set before them. The young man then stepped forward, before kneeling down to reach for the youngster.
However, just before he could touch him, Naruto's bruised eyelids suddenly began to stir, before slowly opening to reveal the reddened eyes that hid behind them, which still held the evidence of his trauma. The boy then shifted his head slightly, before looking up to his untimely company through the remaining tears left in the wake of his terror.
Itachi and Kisame both noticed the way in which his cerulean irises suddenly widened in alarm, while his body began to shake unwillingly shortly afterwards, as if trying to move him to escape the potential danger that had visited him.
"P... please... d-d-don't hurt me..." He croaked weakly.
The small, faint stammer of a whisper that left the boy's lips was barely coherent, but still loud enough to hear in the wake of such an overwhelming silence and the sheer amount of dread hidden in such a gesture was unmistakable in the wake of his otherwise shaky voice.
Itachi quickly moved his hand over the now panicking boy's face thereafter, before touching it gently against his forehead, just above his eyes. Naruto tried to pull away from the man's advance, citing any further harm that may have visited him, but found his body unwilling to respond, having now become too weak to even move.
"It's time for you to sleep now." Itachi whispered gently. "Soon, all your pain will come to an end..."
With that, Naruto fell silent again, before his eyes grew heavy and closed once more in the embrace of his following slumber. After that, Itachi lifted the boy's small body into his arms, before standing to his feet again and looking over to his, by now, somewhat stunned companion.
"I've placed him under a sleeping genjutsu." He offered softly. "He shouldn't trouble us for some time or make any noise to lure attention our way."
Kisame simply nodded his head in a dumbfounded response.
"I suppose that is for the best, although I can't be sure if you did that for our sake, or for his. Regardless, I am surprised he even managed to wake up at all considering his injuries. He looks little older than six years, yet he shows a lot more strength than his small stature betrays."
Itachi then turned his gaze skywards, taking in the visage of the full moon that shone down upon them.
'Six years... yes that's right. He is just a bit younger than Sasuke-kun.' However, he did not let his thoughts wonder for long and quickly turned back to his companion, before finally responding.
"His endurance is probably an effect of having the Kyuubi sealed inside of him. There is no doubt that he would have died without it otherwise, however, that no longer concerns us. His fate has already been decided and it is simply a matter of time now. We should return quickly, before we are late."
With that, both figures made their way out of the village of Konoha once more, leaving its now sleeping residents behind and departing with the young boy whose life had been so readily scorned by their cruelty.
A life that was on the verge of an unexpected change...
Seconds turned to minutes and then minutes to hours as time slowly crept past for the traveling pair, marking the advance of both shinobi as they carried their newly acquired prize to their awaiting destination.
Neither had spoken since having departed from Konoha and Kisame had long since decided that words were not a wise commodity to share between them at that point in time. He knew Itachi well enough to know when there was a limit to such gestures and in this case, he would not dare test that threshold, lest he wished to gamble his own life.
A long distance had also been covered by the pair in their time traveling, with the village they had set out from having long since disappeared from their sight, although it felt more like they had been walking for an eternity, especially considering the silence that had fallen between them.
It was already daybreak as well, with the rising of the sun having passed the horizon hours before, while its accent grew ever higher as the pair continued forward quietly under the embrace its radiant gaze.
Even Naruto remained unmoving in Itachi's arms, while his battered body rested in an odd display of quiet peace that sharply contrasted the fate that had befallen him only hours before, emphasized by the soft sunlight that touched against his form. He never once stirred in his silent slumber and only his light breathing betrayed any sign of life, however little was left in him.
It was only a while later when they finally arrived at their destination, with the large mouth of a cave, whose only entrance was sealed by a massive stone structure, now standing before them. Seeing that they had finally completed their journey unhindered and un-compromised, Kisame turned to face Itachi, who was now looking down at the dirty bundle in his arms with a somewhat empty expression.
"We're finally here." He proclaimed with a hint of relief catching at the back of his voice. The taller shinobi then took a moment to observe Itachi's behavior, noting with a great deal of interest that the young man had yet to acknowledge his words.
"Is something wrong, Itachi-san? You look hesitant. I do hope your past attachments to your village aren't causing you to have doubts."
At that, Itachi suddenly broke out of his trance, before turning his gaze away from the small boy in his arms and over to that of his companion's, his eyes quickly growing cold and threateningly dark.
"Do not say such foolish things." He hissed. "This boy is nothing more than the painful reminder of a past I have tried to leave behind. Now, be silent and let us continue. The others are no doubt waiting for us as we speak."
Both shinobi then raised a single hand into the air, with Itachi still carefully balancing Naruto in his arms, while revealing the rings either one bore and creating a single hand seal at the same time. Moments later, as if to respond to their silent command, the massive stone boulder that barred their entrance began to rise away, revealing the dark interior of their destination as it slowly entered into view.
The two then made their way into the hidden sanctuary, with their entry followed shortly by the loud grating of stone against stone as the massive structure of earth closed behind them once more. Once they were safely inside, a new figure moved out from the shadows to greet them, revealing a dark haired woman as she emerged into view.
She was about the same height as Itachi, and bore the same dark cloak that both he and Kisame wore as well. She also had dark blue hair and a small ring on her lower lip. Her deep, orange-brown eyes were only further enhanced by the dark eye shadow she wore, however, they bore an expressionless and empty gaze only matched by the young man before her.
However, her most noticeable feature was the origami flower that sat firmly in her hair, showing the only sign of any potential emotion in the otherwise cold and lifeless demeanor she had adopted.
"Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame, you two are early." The woman finally announced, a hint of surprised present in her otherwise monotone expression. "I didn't expect you here for at least another day, so this is definitely a surprise."
Itachi nodded in response to the indirect greeting, a gesture that Kisame matched, before formally removing the hat that had previously covered him and revealing his dark, raven-like hair and his equally shadowed eyes.
"Konan... it's good to see you as well..."
Shortly afterwards, his taller companion followed suit, with Kisame revealing his gray-blue skin and round, beady white eyes. The man then allowed for a sickening grin, displaying his sharp teeth and causing him to take on a visage akin to that of a shark's. After that, he finally spoke up in response to the rather odd greeting offered to them, speaking for both himself and the young man besides him.
"Well, it seems we were in luck with regards to our hunt. The target was a rather easy picking to say the least. Maybe next time you should send us to handle something worth our capabilities rather than a snotty little..."
"Be quiet Kisame." Itachi cut the shinobi off. "We were chosen to capture the Nine-tails because of my experience with Konoha's defenses, you of all people know that. None of the others could have infiltrated the village with as little trouble and although I did not wish to ever go back there, there was no-one else better suited."
"Alright, it doesn't matter anymore either way." Konan spoke up once more, interrupting their exchange. "The task is complete and that is all that matters. Pein will be pleased with your efficiency."
She then shifted her attention back and forth between the two men, before frowning.
"I mean, you... did capture the target, right? So where is he?"
At that, Itachi gestured down towards the bundle in his arms, causing Konan's eyes to widen as she recognized the fact that he was, in fact, holding what looked like a small boy with light blond hair. It was the first real emotion she had shown.
"W... what? It's just a child?"
"What did you expect?" Itachi responded bluntly, to which the woman simply frowned.
"Well, I guess... I just didn't think he would be so young..." She then stepped forward to better inspect the youngster, noting with a great deal of discomfort the numerous bruises and markings that covered his body. She could tell, just by looking at him, that he was barely hanging onto his own life and it only caused her frown to deepen even more.
"Surely you two didn't have to go this far to capture him. I mean he looks like he's been through hell. Was he really that much trouble?"
"We did not inflict these wounds, as much as I may have enjoyed it." This time it was Kisame who responded, drawing Konan's attention as well as a sharp glare.
"Actually..." He continued. "We arrived just in time to stop him from being beaten to death. It seems as though his village holds no love for him in the least. In fact, I'm sure they would have just given him to us if we asked in the first place."
At that, Konan simply gave out a deep sigh, before turning her gaze back to look over Naruto. She then reached out to touch him and began to slowly run her hand through his mottled and dirty blond hair, surprising both Itachi and Kisame in the process of her actions.
"This... this isn't what I expected..."
"But isn't this what you wanted, hmm?"
All three shinobi turned to face the new voice that had addressed them only to watch as two new figures came into view, revealing the form of a young man with long blond hair covering the left half of his face and a much larger, incoherent form walking besides him.
"Ah, Deidara and Sasori. I didn't think our two eccentric artists would be here as well." Kisame grinned. "Did you come to greet us in our return?"
"As if I could care less..." The blond identified as Deidara responded. "I just wanted to see what the 'almighty' Jinchuuriki looked like, but I guess it was nothing but a disappointment, yeah. I didn't know we were just hunting mere children."
Konan was about to respond, but before she could speak, a shadow suddenly materialized into view between them. Soon afterwards, two eyes slowly molded into view, revealing a series of rings along their irises that almost seemed to pierce them all with their hardened gaze. A cold voice followed shortly thereafter, addressing everyone present..
"Ah, so it seems our target has been acquired after all." The figure spoke. "Good work Itachi and Kisame, however, it will still be some time before we begin the extraction process, so in the meantime, place the boy in a holding cell until we are ready to begin. Just make sure he lives long enough for the Kyuubi to be extracted, that is all that is important."
"Very well..." Itachi responded. "And what of the others? Is it just the five of us?"
"We did not expect such a hasty return on your part, so they will only arrive at a later stage. Once we are ready, extraction will begin immediately. There will be no hesitation to our plans and so now I will leave it to you."
Once they were through with words, the figure was just about to disappear again, but Konan suddenly spoke up before he could depart.
"Wait... Pein, I need to talk to you. There's something we need to address about all of this." The said figure simply regarded the young woman with a curious stare, offering no immediate words to respond, but he eventually nodded regardless.
"Very well. We shall discuss whatever it is you need to talk about, but not here. I will come to you later, once the Kyuubi has been secured in a cell."
With that, Pein's visage faded away once more, leaving the remaining shinobi to their own devices.
"I will take the child to a cell..." Itachi scoffed, once he was gone. "The rest of you should rest while you can. The extraction process will take some time and we will all need to be prepared in case something happens. Although Konoha's people may hold no love for this boy, there is still a chance they may come seeking him, if only to take back what to them is a potential weapon."
With that, the Uchiha made his way from their company, disappearing into the shadows with Naruto still held firmly in his arms. Deidara simply turned to the others, before letting out a deep sigh.
"Is he ever in a good mood, hm?"
After receiving no verbal response, not that one was needed, everyone else made their own way as well, leaving only the darkened, shadowy halls behind.
A few hours had passed since Naruto had been taken to his cell, with night once again enveloping the land of fire in its silent and gentle embrace. Konan had since made her way up to her own quarters following that, where she was now waiting silently for her expected visitor.
She wasn't completely sure why, but she had a sickening feeling in her stomach, one that made her feel weak and upset and one that pulled painfully at the bottom of her heart.
Seeing Naruto cradled in Itachi's arms like that and seeing the way the boy's near lifeless body curled up into itself, almost as if still protecting himself from some hidden assault, had moved something in her, something she had not felt for a long time, but a feeling she recognized all too well.
'The last time I felt like that was when we found Nagato for the first time...'
The woman's thoughts, however, were soon interrupted, drawn away by a heavy voice as it called out softly to her.
"You wanted to talk... Konan?"
The blue-haired kunoichi quickly turned her attention to the source that addressed her, only to see what looked like a young man with brownish-orange hair standing before her, adorning the same black cloak that the others all bore as well. His face was marked with piercings, and his skin was slightly pale, but the most recognizable feature that betrayed his identity was the familiar ringed silver pupils that shone out from his gaze.
Following his arrival, Konan stood up to greet him with a short bow, before looking up once more and addressing him.
"Pein... Nagato... something feels wrong about all of this." She began.
"The boy we captured, the host for the Nine-tails, he's just a small child and he looks like he's felt the same kind of pain we once endured as well. Do you really mean to go through with your plan? Do you really mean to... to kill him?"
There was a brief moment of silence between the two, with Pein's eyes remaining unmoving in their solidified gaze. Konan wasn't sure if it was just her imagination, but she noticed what seemed like a flash of a painful glimmer filling his eyes. However, as quickly as it had appeared it was gone again, replaced once more only with a hardened and empty stare, one that was filled with a cold malice that spoke clearly of the hatred hidden behind them.
"It is the only way." He finally offered to respond, although his voice had now taken a far deeper and more bitter tone than it had before.
"The boy is a necessary sacrifice if we wish to attain peace. In exchange for his life, we will gain the power we need to accomplish our goals."
At that, Konan allowed her face to fall into a somber expression, however, her eyes only narrowed even more dangerously as she regarded the words addressed to her.
"Are you... even listening to yourself?" The man before her simply raised his eyebrows questioningly following her inquiry, but he made no motion to respond.
"This... this isn't what he would have wanted..." Konan continued in his silence. "This is not what Yahiko would have ever wanted from us. Did you even see that boy?!?! Did you even look at him, to see how much pain he has endured already?"
"I did..." Pein finally responded. "I saw the same cruelty that took away everything we loved as well. That is why we must continue. That is why we must find peace, no matter the costs or the sacrifices we must make."
Konan simply shook her head, having already received her answer long since before.
"Very well, it seems as though I cannot reason with you." She then looked up once more, locking into her companion's gaze with a hardened stare that spoke firmly of her resolve.
"I am sorry Nagato." She whispered softly.
"I know how much pain you have endured... we all did... and we all lost so much that was important and dear to us, but this is where I have to finally let go. I have followed you loyally and supported you in the name of what we once were, in the name of our friendship and of our... family... but I now realize that you are no longer the man I once knew, nor the boy that I cared for so much."
The young woman then allowed for a short pause, noting curiously the way in which Pein's eyes seemed to soften, but even despite that, she did not waver in her stance.
"Yahiko... he loved us and he loved our people. He wanted to find peace, but this is not the way he would have accomplished it. It saddens me to say this, but he wasn't the only one who died that day. That day... I lost both of you and now... now I will have to live with the death of an innocent child as well."
Konan then made her way over to the doorway at the end of the room, walking past a still motionless Pein without so much as a gesture shared between them. Once she had arrived at the entrance to her quarters, she turned back one last time, noting that the man waiting behind had still not moved from his position.
"I'm leaving now..." She whispered softly. "You will probably never see me again, but I hope that someday you will find it in you to understand. I hope you remember what it was that Yahiko saw in you, that made him believe so much in the hope of a better future..."
With that, she left, walking out into the dank halls and away from the life she once knew and clung to so desperately. The last thing she heard was a soft call following behind her, sinking into her heart with one final touch of what once was.
"I will not pursue you... I will grant you this one gift and allow you to leave in peace..."
The tears that flowed from her eyes shortly afterwards soon became overwhelming, and Konan quickly took a moment to pause and gather herself, leaning against the cold stone wall that met against her skin and allowing it to support her in her moment of final weakness.
The kunoichi simply remained there for a while, crying for the first time in so many years and allowing the pain to seep away through her tears while there was no-one to see them. After a few more moments of relief, she finally righted herself again before taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, while steeling her heart and her resolve.
'Alright... it's time to go. There's just one more thing I need to do...'
Darkness, cold and uninviting, was all that remained for the young boy who had been brought in its hold, embracing the form of a quietly sleeping form as he lay within the confines of his new prison. The only protection that spared the boy's otherwise prone and battered body from the icy cold that seeped into his bones, was the small, torn blanket that barely covered him, only offered to just barely keep him alive.
Naruto had yet to stir since being locked away in his cell, with no sign of life to speak of other than the fine cloud of icy mist that emanated off the tip of his breath, as his chest rose and fell lightly in his slumber.
Even his clothes did little to protect him, having been torn and tattered during the assault that had befallen him the night before. The light blue shirt that covered his torso was now marred with dirt and blood, and the black pants he wore were frayed and just as dirty.
However, even despite all his sufferings, despite his pains and despite the cold that threatened his exposed form, he still simply continued to sleep silently... peacefully... and completely unaware of the shadowed figure that now approached the bars that kept him imprisoned.
"Just hold on. I'll take you away from here soon. I'm here to save you..."
Konan slowly approached the iron structure that guarded against her advance, before taking a deep breath to calm her own shaking nerves, knowing full well what she was about to do. She then raised both of her hands up into a seal, while gathering her chakra and exposing the ring around her finger.
"Alright, it's time to do this. Kai..."
Soon afterwards, a soft click was heard coming from the iron gate, signifying the lock's release and causing Konan to let out another deep, nervous breath. She then reached forward to open the bars, but just before she could, a voice suddenly called out to her, interrupting her actions.
"I didn't realize we had visiting hours for our prisoners, although I am sure that is not what you came here for."
Konan immediately froze in her motion, her heart catching in her chest as the heavy, somber expression reached her hearing. She knew that voice all too well and she knew that it could mean she had a lot of trouble on her hands.
Turning to face the intrusion, her view was quickly met by the crimson glow of an unmistakable gaze, confirming her fears as she came face to face with the young Uchiha, who was now leaning on the walls of the cave just a few feet away from her.
The blue-haired kunoichi took a deep breath, but quickly doused her anxiety, before hardening her glare. Seeing the sudden change in her expression, Itachi simply raised his eyebrows curiously.
"Ah, so it is true..." He offered again. "You do intend to take the boy after all. I could see that in your eyes the moment we brought him back here."
"And do you intend to stop me?" Konan retorted, growling under her breath. "If that's why you're here, I'll have to warn you. I'm no pushover and if you think I'll be easy to defeat, you're in for a huge surprise. I am taking this boy out of this nightmare right now and nothing, not even you, will stop me."
Following the woman's words, Itachi simply smirked, surprising Konan with the sudden gesture and causing her expression to falter and soften somewhat. He had always remained such a stoic, expressionless face before and it was odd to see such a gesture coming from what she had always perceived to be such a heartless man. However, Konan could also tell, just by seeing the manner in which it was presented, that it was genuine.
"I suppose I really should stop you..." Itachi finally responded. "However, that would defeat the purpose of my coming here. After all, we are both here for the same reason, so fighting does seem a bit pointless, doesn't it?"
By now, Konan was completely flabbergasted and she couldn't even help it as her mouth fell agape at the seemingly offered proposition.
"Yes." The Uchiha cut her off, moving a way from his position against the wall and adopting a far more serious expression.
"I intend to free this boy as well. I had thought that I would have been able to cut all of my ties to the painful past I had tried to escape, but fate, it seems, has decreed that there is still something that I might do. I have failed to kill my own heart and now this is the burden I must take up. I cannot be weak this time... not again."
The young man then made his way over to his company, before turning his gaze towards the sleeping figure that lay on the cold stone floor behind the bars that separated them. Konan noticed the way his eyes seemed to soften in their gaze and stir with something she could only barely comprehend.
It almost looked like anger, like the hidden taste of a lingering bitterness, but she knew that there was more sadness than anything else. She knew that, because she had seen the same gaze every time she had looked into Nagato's eyes as well and it only caused her expression to soften even more.
"I think we should hurry now." Itachi spoke up again, in a near whisper this time, breaking the odd silence between them. "The others have already arrived some time ago, so we will need to be hasty if we are to avoid conflict."
Following Itachi's words, Konan simply nodded her head, before pushing open the iron gate that led to Naruto's cell and stepping inside. Itachi followed closely behind her before pausing to watch as she knelt down next to the sleeping boy, only to begin shaking him softly in an effort to stir him from his slumber.
She was sure to be gentle though, citing his fragile state, but was somewhat surprised when the boy began to shuffle soon afterwards.
'I... I didn't think he would actually be able to wake up. He looks so weak right now.'
Soon afterwards, two deep blue irises came flashing into view as Naruto's eyelids lifted away to reveal their tired and somewhat blank gaze. The boy seemed a bit groggy and confused at first, as though he still had yet to grow aware of his own vision, but soon he came around and his gaze quickly rose up to meet the soft stare that fell over him.
Unfortunately, the peace that had previously embraced him quickly turned to fear, as the boy's eyes widened in surprise and panic, causing Konan to frown as she noticed the drop in his expression.
The small, weak yelp that followed shortly afterwards was only followed by a panicked jump as Naruto suddenly sat from his position, before backing himself away until his back was firmly pressed against the nearby wall.
"No... please don't hurt me." He begged, holding his knees up to his chest. "Please..."
Konan could almost feel her heart breaking as she saw the way Naruto's body began to shake violently, and the way his eyes darted about their surroundings, as if searching for some way to escape. She slowly began to shuffle forward on her haunches to get closer to the panicking youngster, which only caused him to panic even more.
"Don't worry, I'm not here to hurt you. You don't need to be afraid of us."
Surprisingly enough, the woman's kindly offered words seemed to have some effect, because soon Naruto's shaking had subsided somewhat. Moments later, the boy looked up again, his face oddly twisted with obvious confusion. It was almost as though the mere thought of kindness was difficult for the child to comprehend.
"You mean... you really won't hurt me?" Naruto croaked again, his expression filled with a sad hope that was almost sickening to witness.
Konan simply nodded her head, while offering a soft, reassuring smile in return, doing her best to comfort the boy in front of her while simultaneously suppressing the knot that had suddenly formed in her stomach.
"I promise, I wouldn't do anything to hurt you." She then extended her reach out to him, being careful to move slowly lest she frighten the boy. "Now take my hand. I'll keep you safe and get you out of here..."
Naruto looked hesitant at first, but after a few moments of nervous silence, he finally reached out to the hold offered to him with his own shaking hand, before allowing it to gently rest into Konan's open palm. She frowned at first upon noticing the wounds that ran along the arm stretched out before her eyes, but she quickly shook away her thoughts on the matter. The woman then closed her own hand around his, before squeezing it gently in reassurance and bowing softly in approval.
"Alright, that's good, now lets get out of here."
At first, Naruto's hands felt cold and weak to her touch, but Konan was somewhat surprised when she felt it suddenly squeezing against hers, as if he finally managed enough courage to return her grip even though it was a hopelessly weak attempt. It was almost as the he had been longing to touch someone, to be able to feel them and hold them without any fear or pain to follow in reprisal and she would not let go as long as he needed to hold on.
Moments later, Konan pulled the boy up into her arms, before lifting his weakened body off the icy stone floor and cradling tightly against her. The boy himself simply snuggled into her hold, seemingly relieved to have finally been offered some form of relief. It was then that the woman holding him noticed the way he was shaking, no doubt a result of the cold, more than his own fear.
"You must be freezing." She offered gently, to which the boy simply nodded shakily. "Don't worry, I'll keep you warm."
Once she had made sure that Naruto was comfortable in her hold, Konan then turned back to face Itachi, who had simply opted to watch silently as the entire scene unfolded. However, Naruto quickly caught sight of his extra company and looked back up to his new caretaker with a concerned expression.
"Who's he?" He asked nervously, taking a deep gulp as he did. In return, Konan just smiled reassuringly.
"He's here to help us as well." She offered softly. "You don't need to be afraid of him. He will help protect you."
Once again, Naruto just nodded his head dumbly. It was clear that the boy was not used to such an offer of kindness but it seemed very welcome. After that was dealt with, Itachi turned to walk away, offering only to speak up for the first time since Naruto had woken up.
"We should leave now. The longer we wait, the more chance we have of being caught. Fighting and protecting this boy at the same time could prove troublesome."
After that, the two shinobi made there way out of the cell with their new charge in hand, before making there way through the gloomy and dank maze of tunnels that made up the lair they resided in. Naruto, although still somewhat tired, simply opted to search his surroundings as best as he could despite the failing light, before looking up once more and sighing softly.
"Um... lady..." The boy gulped, still uncertain of his rescuer's actual name. "Where are we? And... and why am I here?"
"You were brought here last night..." Konan replied softly, to which Naruto frowned.
"But... um... why was I locked away? Did I do something wrong?"
This time, Naruto's voice fell into a somber and heavy tone and his eyes filled with the evidence of his wavering emotions, flowing through in the form of glimmering beads of water. In return, Konan quickly moved to wipe his face, smearing away the tears that mixed with the dirt and gently caressing his otherwise bruised skin.
The boy was obviously still exhausted, even if he did his best to remain awake, and that coupled with the trauma he had endured was no doubt taking its toll, so she simply did her best to calm him down.
"No, you didn't do anything wrong." She smiled sadly in response. "In fact, if anything, many wrong things have been unjustly done to you. You were brought here because of who you are, but you don't deserve that. That's why I'm going to make sure we get out of here..."
"Konan, it would be best to remain silent." Itachi finally interceded, interrupting their talk. "We do not wish to attract any unwanted attention and talking may alert everyone to our presence."
Conceding to the Uchiha's words, the rest of their short journey was made in silence and soon all three of them found themselves exiting the cave and stepping out into moonlit landscape that met them outside. Naruto's sparkling eyes only widened in wonder as they took in the beauty that met their gaze, with the endless amount of stars stretching overhead enrapturing him in a mesmerizing trance.
Even Konan managed to smile at the way his mouth gaped like a fish, and the way his eyes shone with so much innocence and astonishment while glimmering with the reflection of the beauty that met his gaze.
"It looks so pretty..." He mumbled dumbly. Konan just nodded her head aimlessly, while sharing in his view.
'Yes... yes it does. It's been so long since I have even notice the stars...' She then moved to face Itachi, who had long since turned to meet her gaze, before speaking up once more.
"So... now what?" She sighed despondently. "Where do we go from here?" Itachi's eyes remained unmoving, despite the question addressed to him, almost as though he had already decided on their goal.
"We need to get as far away from here as possible. After that, we can decide where to go from there. Right now, however, all that is important is that we travel as far as we can. The others will know we have taken Naruto, after all, only those who bear a ring of Akatsuki can break the seal that protected his cell, so they will no doubt pursue us as soon as they can. Let us make haste..."
They were just about to leave again, but a sudden voice called out to them, hailing from the shadows and laced with a heavy tone.
"Leaving so soon are we? I think if you wish to go, it would be in your interests to take me with you... hmmm."
AN: Alright... I'm sure half of you are probably thinking "WTH?" by now and to be honest, when I thought of this idea, it seemed crazy even to me. To be honest, I am not sure why I wanted to write this story, but it was just something that seemed like an interesting idea, even if it is a bit far 'out there'.
I'm sure some of you might have a few questions as well, but a lot of finer details will be revealed and covered in the next chapter or two, so trust me when I say that I will do my best to fill all the potential gaps. I'm also going to try and eliminate some of my more prevalent writing flaws, so hopefully this will turn out to be a great read.
Whether I continue this story greatly depends on how well it works, so I would be grateful for any feedback. If you like it and think it might be something worthwhile, please let me know. If not, then do the same, so that I can see where I stand with regards to this attempt. For me, I really enjoyed this idea and I think it may go far, but what writer doesn't grow attached the ideas they have given birth to?
There are always other ideas and I have a few in mind, but this one just felt like something I had to try. ^ ^
Writer - Me of course!!! XD
Beta - FantomoDrako