The Spirit of Life
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, all rights and properties belong to Masashi Kishimoto
Chapter one: One Litre of Tears…
The course of one's life is determined by the road that they take. Good and evil are mere views upon which the human mind conjures; their views are up to their own discretion.
There was no pure or absolute black and white, in the end, what justifies the motives are the actions in which they are executed, the end does not justify the means.
Sarutobi Hiruzen looked at the village below with a depressed sigh, the village was eerily quiet for it being October Tenth, it was like a bad omen, bad enough that it would require the village to be this silent, tonight they should have been celebrating, shouting praises to the Yondaime and burning the hundreds of the Kyuubi lantern, signalling the triumph of the Land of Fire, Konoha, against an ancient malevolent beast.
He looked on in worry, he had not been one of superstition, but it would surely help that he be cautious. For he could feel the tides swelling in the horizon, the coming of the 'shit storm' as one might say.
Sarutobi was knocked out of his contemplations when he heard the voice of a member of his elite team, the ANBU.
"Uzumaki Naruto has disappeared Hokage-sama, the ANBU member keeping watch was nowhere to be found."
Sarutobi's look of surprise overtook him, with a quick turn around, the aging Hokage cursed, during this vey date for the last eight years, it was always time to go back to the trenches for Naruto, keeping him safe was important, but there were instances that the blonde wanted to know about the event taking place outside his home, he was curious as he has never participated in it before, and during his stay in the academy, he had heard of countless voices on his back about how amazing it was that night. Naruto was curious, and wanted to join in the festivities as well, every child wanted to have fun. Naruto was no exception.
Sarutobi then went out of his office, in a brisk walk, he commanded to the ANBU reporting, "Find Naruto, secure him and by God, I want that boy unharmed. If so much as a finger had laid hair on his head, heads will roll!"
With a fervent nod the ANBU member disappeared within seconds. Intent on finding Naruto.
A mass of lanterns were hung above the roofs and roads all around the village, it was a spectacular display, looking around, the eight year old boy gave an awed expression, a lot of people were around him, bustling their way around the festival as the main event was about to take place.
He looked on at the center of the village there stood a giant pagoda, with the image of the Kyuubi drawn in it, the people were crowding up front as the people near it began to place dry wood by the base, and a fluid that nauseated the small blonde.
The people were cheering, one person then stood at the top and said,
"Dear citizens! Today is the day we commemorate! The day our village has done the impossible, subduing the malevolent Kyuubi no Yoko!" Shouted the man, the rest cheered
"Amidst the sacrifice, let us remember the people who died that night! The hero that had brought upon the survival of the village!" The crowd shouted, as some of the people were now shouting
"Down with the beast! Burn it down!" They shouted, as the people began raising their lanterns and was about to toss it to the giant pagoda.
It was then that Naruto was squeezing his ears shut; the crowd's shouting noise was terrible for his ears.
He was about to step back, when he was held back by a burly man, he was flushing, and reeked with the terrible stench of alcohol.
"What are you doing here, boy? Didn't anyone tell you that this festival is for humans only!?" The man slurred, the man held Naruto by the shirt at the base of his neck, Naruto struggled, flailing his arms wildly.
"Put me down!" The blonde demanded, the man merely sneered and said, "But since you graced us with your disgusting face, we might as well have a real portrayal of victory!"
He shouted, Naruto frowned, and as the man was about to approach the crowd and toss Naruto into the bonfire, the blonde bit the man by the arm hard enough and was forced to let go of the blonde. Naruto quickly dashed away from the crowd, with the man shouting,
"Shit! The demon attacked me!"
The people stood pale, as they saw the little boy run away from the scene.
Now it was one thing that brought a chill to their spines was that the Kyuubi vessel was now fighting back, back then they could just maltreat the blonde, throwing hateful glances and the occasional ridicule out of the way. But now…
The village pariah has drawn first blood, and this time, they would not take it lightly.
"Get him!" The speaker from earlier shouted with some of the crowd now turned into an angry and ruthless mob.
The said group began chasing Naruto, who had only thought of one thing,
'I-I don't want to be beat up!' He mentally screamed at himself, dashing to where his little legs can take him.
His heart was pounding. Fear was etching at his heart as he ran and ran in the midst of the dark night.
He was gasping, his breathe was becoming haggard, adrenalin kept pumping in his body, forcing his body to run faster than what he used to be, his eyes focusing only the way forward.
He turned to a corner, running past a trash can that he stumbled on and made a right turn, to stop by a huge wall stopping in front of him. Still not being a ninja, Naruto was about to try and jump over the fence, but failed, he fell down, flat on his face on the ground, breathing heavily as he could feel his heart pounding fast.
"Well now… Looks like we got ourselves cornered by the big brown wall."
Naruto looked behind and saw the mob that chased after him had caught up to him. His mind racing as he inched himself closer to the wall, it being the object that stopped him from going any further. By now, Naruto was shivering, as he clenched his teeth and turned pale, his breathing was becoming deeper and more haggard as his fear had spiked to new levels, the men approached him, closer and closer, they went, getting gripped by the collar, Naruto was now crying.
He didn't dare say anything, there was nothing to be said, he couldn't ask for forgiveness, for his memory had told him nothing that he could have done wrong.
He closed his eyes, just as the fist was cocked back and was going straight to his face.
"Such frailty of the human body, how deplorable…"
Nothing, Naruto didn't feel anything, opening his eyes, he was met with the dark hallways extending to god knows where. Leaking pipes were dripping around, water was present beneath his feet, he looked back and saw a gigantic golden cage, with a small paper taped in the middle of the two gates. He then saw it…
Behind the majestic and imposing golden cage were eyes that could burn souls with a mere glance, the eyes of malice. Bloody, crimson red eyes, stared at him for a moment, the slit further constricting as it viewed the boy that was in front of its doorstep.
"Seek me, child… Drown in lust of my power… And I shall grant you… Whatever you desire…"
Naruto slowly approached the creature inside; the blonde had been foolish enough to trust him, foolish enough to approach towards the gate as it seemed like it was his only salvation.
But it would not be, as pillars of wood had suddenly erupted from the water laden floor, coiling around the blonde, binding him in his place, on his outstretched palm, appeared the character, Sit.
Kyuubi suddenly felt paralyzed the flow of chakra coming from the blonde overtook his as Kyuubi was then pinned on the floor.
"S-Senju…? No… It can't be! He is not of true Senju blood!" The Kyuubi roared, its chakra trying to force out of the cage, only to be subdued as it saw six columns of wood rising from the floor, carving the faces of beasts as it bit down on the chakra forcing it back.
The Kyuubi howled in pain.
"Impossible! For me, the Kyuubi no Yoko, to be subdued by the likes of you, not of the Senju… Yet to posses the ability of the Senju patriarch… Unacceptable!"
With that, Naruto awoke from the real world, and saw the countless wood sprouting from the ground, with people sprawled on the ground everywhere, with square blocks of wood pinning them to the floor or to the ground. Naruto looked around and saw the man that tried to punch him earlier, countless wooden stakes driven through his body and made holes like Swiss Cheese, blood sprayed everywhere around him as his head was held upward.
Naruto looked traumatized… He clutched his head as he began to scream…
The ANBU had arrived too late, along with them, was the Hokage. With a look of surprise and shock, Sarutobi jumped down, behind Naruto. The blonde, terrified, suddenly turned and found the concerned look of the Sandaime Hokage.
"J-Jiji…" Was the only words that came out of Naruto's mouth.
Sarutobi gently touched Naruto's shoulders and calmed the boy down.
"I don't know what happened… I was so scared… So scared…" Naruto mumbled between sobs, Sarutobi hugged the traumatized boy and nodded to the ANBU.
"Get these people out of here for cleanup, send the critically injured ones to the hospital, all those that have suffered minor injuries are to be given with special treatment to Ibiki and Anko, tell them to do their job, under their discretion. I've seen enough madness for a night."
The ANBU nodded. Although it wasn't obvious, Sarutobi's anger was flaring, his killing intent was seeping in the seams.
"Hokage-sama, we have found Oushi (Bull), the one who was supposed to guard the boy, we found his body near the outside walls." The ANBU member with the bird mask whispered to the Hokage, the Hokage looked in shock.
"What!? How was he killed?" Asked the surprised Hokage
Tori answered, "He was killed with a Doton Jutsu, we have reasons to believe Iwagakure nin are behind it."
Iwagakure!? With anger in his voice, he shouted to the ANBU member, "Call all those patrolling the country borders and order them to find and intercept this ninja! I want him apprehended! ASAP!"
With a nod, the ninja vanished in a plume of smoke, Sarutobi gritted his teeth, if his suspicions were correct, the person that had taken over Oushi's place had been given information on Naruto being their secret weapon, not only that, the person would have most likely traced the blonde's resemblance to the former Hokage immediately, for it was the yellow flash that had decimated Iwa, a face like that, shall not be forgotten so easily by their enemies.
Though now, the question remains, who? Who was responsible for this leakage? Who was the one that had made a deal with the devil and inform them of the existence of the Nine Tailed Host? Sarutobi fists were shaking. Rats were infesting his village, it was time to bait them from the shadows and crush their heads. For Konohagakure had been placed in a peril far worse than that of the attack of the Nine Tails.
He had dropped off Naruto at the hospital, who was silent with the whole ordeal, he was apathetic, not a show of fear anymore, as he refused to speak and words didn't began to reach him as he began to mumble the words "It wasn't my fault…" over and over again. The medics instantly knew this…
"Hokage-sama, it seems little Naruto has suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he's reliving what happened just moments ago. I suggest he stays in the hospital until further notice, his mind has completely shut down from the event."
Naruto sat in a corner, holding his knees and kept mumbling, Sarutobi cursed a storm, as he went out, with an angry look on his face, he disappeared towards the Hokage Mansion, intent on laying the beat down on whoever was responsible.
He had inkling as to what those who had held a position in the village had done, he cursed at his mistakes back then. Perhaps establishing the council may have been a mistake on his part.
Either way, this ends tonight.
The council room:
A chamber that housed the leading members of each significant family within Konoha, an aristocratic establishment that Sarutobi established, as such they are within reasonable power to overrule any decision the head of the village makes, the Hokage. Sarutobi, within his good intentions, intended for the council to be a non-bias political figurehead, as it shows that within the workings of the village, the strength of the people are a match for the authoritative figure of the Hokage.
There has been a saying back then,
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Or so, Sarutobi had thought, he was actually fearful of the use of a single political figure leading the village. Authoritarian rule was not the way of the Senju. That much he knew.
But his suspicion of the council involvement would not let him rest and think so otherwise, someone had jeopardized the village for such an immature goal.
He would not have any of that.
As he approached the council room that was greeted with worried looks everywhere, Sarutobi had come and stated order within.
"I am not in the mood for pleasantries and babble fish right now. For tonight, during the festival, someone from a foreign country had managed to infiltrate Konoha."
Everyone seemed shocked, and soon began voicing their opinions, Sarutobi held his hand up in order.
"Not only had they managed to enter the village with the outer barrier active to detect any foreign shinobi, they also managed to obtain very vital information that could lead this village into another war."
The Third Hokage continued, "I want to know who had leaked information about Naruto, exposing his status as the Jinchuuriki to the Kyuubi no Yoko to the forces of Iwa nin."
Sarutobi's voice was commanding as it was frightful, killing intent seeped through him like a snake slithering its way to the throats that were currently sitting on their chairs. Hiashi had asked,
"It is eventual Hokage-sama, that Naruto's status as the Jinchuuriki be revealed, if not earlier. What is this importance that you have called everyone here?"
Sarutobi's slow and rasped voice was replaced with a tone so cold and venomous, "I am not concerned about that, you fool. I am concerned about the fact that the exposure of Naruto's identity and lineage to foreign shinobi, to Iwa no less, would amount of global panic, since this is Minato's son!"
That froze almost everyone within their seats, some of them turned cold, while others in mild interest,
"S-Surely you jest, Hokage-sama, there's no way that…"
"Is this the face of an old man who is currently humouring you?" Sarutobi had cut in, silencing the one that had just spoken as he continued,
"By now, my forces had subdued the ninja and are headed towards the intelligence department as we speak. The son of the yellow flash is in the hospital; his guardian for the day was killed earlier. I am here right now, to find out who exactly is responsible in killing one of my men and is almost about to send our forces to the brink of war."
To this, the one sitting beside the advisors replied his right eye was covered in bandages, "Such a stupid move to kill off a useful weapon. If such foolish people exist within this organization, disbanding the council should be the only choice and stripping each and everyone of this legislative and pseudo administrative office off their rank. It only hinders on what is truly needed in this village."
One member pointed a finger at the man, "You do not have a place in this, Advisor Danzo! Such a move would corrupt the only head of state!"
"And you suppose that this body of leaders is not corrupt? Ignorant fool, have you not seen a mirror? This is what happens when power is given to those who are not worthy of it." The old war hawk replied.
To this, the members were insulted,
"Are you saying that the political issues here are not of our concern?" Hiashi asked, his voice threatening
"I am saying you, who exclude the Hyuuga within the affairs of the village, have no right to be part of the ruling faction of the Senju. If you wish to have a share of the political power, then it is only right you incorporate the Hyuuga to this organization." Danzo replied in a matter of fact tone.
"The dealings of the Hyuuga are within the Hyuuga!" Shouted Hiashi
"And the dealings of the Senju are within the Senju, do you understand? You cannot expect to be thrown a bone without asking for compensation, Hiashi-dono." He said that honorific with a lace of insult
Inuzuka Tsume growled, Danzo may have a point but there was no way she would let the war hawk's suggestion go through, all of it seemed far too much in favour to him.
Nara Shikaku ever the sharp mind, quickly leaned in closer, he had already understood why Danzo had to be a member of the advisors, for he needed to be monitored, under the table dealings and missions were frowned upon. Shikaku wouldn't be surprised if Danzo was the one who had leaked the information to the Iwa nin.
"That is enough, we are getting off topic." Mentioned Sarutobi
It was then the attention of the whole council was back at Sarutobi.
"Leakage of information like this will not be tolerated, as it stands, this means treason of a level higher than anyone had come across so far. Tell me, do you think that Iwa Nin would have been satisfied in killing Naruto?"
The council remained silent, "No, with the birth of Naruto, he has been set as a target for life. Not only that, but with Naruto out of the picture, Iwa would have no reservations in invading our homeland. Have you come and thought about that consequence? Even for just a second!?"
"I am angry, angry beyond reasonable doubt. I had fought for this village, tooth and nail, I will simply not standby if I see anything that destroys the very belief Shodaime-sama had placed on the very place he had created."
To this, Danzo added with a smirk, "Which leads us to discuss the next topic."
Sarutobi frowned at his long time rival, Danzo tended to have too many aces up his sleeve.
"Reports tell me of the… Sudden abilities that Naruto has shown this night."
Sarutobi frowned further, Mokuton… The ability that made the Shodaime such a powerful shinobi of his era, abilities such as that were not found from anyone else within the Senju even his brother, who had the ability to use Suiton jutsu that didn't need a water source was not one to receive such a powerful ability. And with Naruto, receiving that ability coinciding with the sealed Bijuu within him, little Naruto would grow to be a true super soldier.
"What would that be, Advisor Danzo?" Asked Shibi, true, he was rather intrigued with the boy, he had not heard of a Namikaze that had a special ability, merely ingenuity and such genius.
Naruto had still not manifested any of that.
Danzo smirked, "Mokuton."
To this, the council members gasped
"Yes, Naruto has developed this particular ability, even though he is not of Senju descent. In truth, I am quite surprised. Nobody has displayed this since the rule of the Shodaime, it makes one wonder how this particular ability appears." Said Danzo, most of the members were listening intently.
"With that, what does the council suggest? Normally I would suggest we use him, it is not everyday a jinchuuriki with the ability of subduing a bijuu come across our hands, a little… 'Polishing' is all that is needed."
"And waste this opportunity to propagate the bloodline? Such a gift is a treasure!" Said one member.
This time, it was Inoichi who spoke, "It's true that the Mokuton is indeed an ability that would be very indispensable especially in encountering other Jinchuuriki if ever the need arise. But the ability does not give a perfect one hundred percent passing to the descendants. Abilities like these are, for the most, latent and almost unpredictable, the amalgam and outcome of the offspring is so different, it's too uncertain, you're sacrificing village resources to something that isn't even sure to give results!"
"Then back to my suggestion." Danzo stated, it was then that a debate had began around the room people shouting at each other, stating the needed suggestions were unneeded, unfeasible and unattainable, Sarutobi had enough
To this, the council had stopped,
"Again, we had led to nowhere by changing the topic, Danzo, it would be prudent if you keep your mouth shut. If you so much as change the topic once again, I will be forced to rein my suspicions on you."
To this, he added, "With these recent turn of events, I am placing Naruto in high security. To aid in the said problem of young Naruto's ability, I will place him on this old law that the Nidaime had passed on, the clan propagation act will be a pre-requisite to test the structure if the Mokuton could be indefinitely passed on, he will have a maximum of four wives, tests will be conducted if his genes can be passed on from parent to offspring. Inoichi, you will assist me to find out who is responsible in this fiasco, all of you will stay here until you pass from Inoichi's memory scan, be prepared, I have made this my personal duty to punish the one responsible. As the Hokage, I have the power to take immediate action in case of a national panic. I can take full authority and decree Martial Law. And it starts, now."
In that moment, everything around Konoha changed…
After two days:
With the initiation of Martial Law the ANBU began patrolling the village, seeking out anything that they decree as a threat to the regime of the Hokage.
Naruto was released from the hospital without a single recollection of the incident two days prior. The medic nins stated that Naruto had repressed most of his memories, within a day, a total washout to the events that happened during that night, were absolutely gone from his mind. There was no trace of Naruto's mental scarring of the incidents, only by fragments of memories.
The Third Hokage had specifically stated that he avoid that particular street, lest that Naruto's repressed memories trigger the event again.
Naruto didn't know why, but he obeyed the Hokage without question, now that the old man said to him in a stern voice. It somewhat made Naruto scared, but he knew Sarutobi meant well, and he will not disobey him anymore.
But Naruto unknowingly developed something, something born from that night, something that would forever change his reputation in the academy.
As he made his way to the academy, a worried Iruka had approached him; Iruka had heard what had happened the other night, and the fact that Naruto suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, Iruka felt mortified, maybe if it was him that kept an eye out of Naruto, maybe he wouldn't have been such an emotional wreck.
He looked down, almost sullen, Naruto smiled and said, "Why the long face, Iruka-sensei!? Come on, we're going to be late!"
Iruka smiled, maybe the reports weren't true, Naruto recovered well, or so he thought. The scar faced chuunin didn't know the repercussions of one who had suffered from such a fate.
As they approached the academy, Naruto looked on in anticipation, he ran up the steps and grabbed a seat, as he sat down, he didn't notice the questioning look from Sasuke. With the initiation of Martial Law, Sasuke was baffled as to what events that had occurred that night, according to the gossips that Ino had spread, it involved the leakage of a secret from one of the members of the council to a foreign Nin that Konoha was hostile to. Sasuke looked at the blonde, he was oblivious from the news, that and he wasn't present yesterday, it was odd, Naruto never missed class even though he cut classes and paid no real attention to the lessons, he never missed a day.
So it was a surprise that the blonde suddenly springing back to life since yesterday. Improbable, but not impossible he guessed.
The blonde sat down, carefree to the world around him, until he was met with the scream of one of Sasuke's fan girls, Sakura.
"Get off my seat, Naruto-baka! That seat's reserved for me!" Sakura shrieked, Naruto nervously stood up, not wanting to receive another fist from Sakura, but once he stood up, he accidentally dropped his book, hitting Sakura's feet. With a quick sorry Naruto was quick to apologize amidst the anger that Sakura displayed currently to him. Most of the class smirked, thinking another comical event courtesy of Naruto would take place.
In a sudden lash, Sakura hit Naruto in the head as hard as she can…
Sakura would rue the day that she hit Naruto.
Naruto was quiet for a moment, he didn't even dared to flinch after the hit, something in him triggered,
Something much, much more unforgiving than the smiling and optimistic Naruto.
"Why did you hit me?" He asked in a low tone, Sakura replied, with annoyance.
"Because, you were being clumsy again!"
"But I said I was sorry!" In a sudden movement, Naruto grabbed Sakura by the throat with one hand, Sasuke was surprised, Naruto didn't lash out against anyone, except in official fights, but for him to physically provoke someone without a word of challenge. It was different. He also didn't lash out to girls, but this one did. Naruto also suddenly changed his mood in a flash. It felt like a trigger to him.
Naruto was choking Sakura by the neck in one hand, there was no one to stop him, all were too shocked to do anything, the teachers weren't present. They were still in the faculty.
Sakura was about to retaliate, the class failure was trying to rise in the ranks. The sudden change in behaviour was noted. But she stopped, when he saw those eyes that looked so devoid of life.
Cold, indifferent, unfeeling eyes, eyes that would even freeze hell over. Sakura shivered, her eyes widened, and then with a jerk of his hand, Naruto suddenly tossed her aside like a ragdoll, right in front of the class, from the stairs that he stood.
Sakura landed on the floor, pain coursed throughout her body. Naruto meanwhile was still silent, those cold, indifferent eyes were staring down at her. She was scared.
Naruto then put his hands together; it was then that the class began to stand up, as a spike of wood shot out of his arm. Sakura, who had seen it, avoided the long wooden stick from his palm, narrowly dodging to her side. Within a few microseconds, Naruto was standing beside her, his uncaring eyes were beginning to flare, everyone in the class then felt it as they began to clutch their chest in fear, they wanted to stop Naruto, they really did. But something was stopping them.
Naruto had right now, held a kunai by his right hand, raised and poised to deliver a deadly strike.
Naruto's apathetic emotion, turned into a smile, a sinister grin. As if he was about to enjoy what he was about to do.
With a flash, he swung the blade down…
… Only to be stopped in mid-swing when Iruka had held his arms.
'Damn, his arm strength is unbelievable!' Thought the scar faced chuunin, the blonde suddenly loosened his arm, and his eyes looked around, his smile was ever present.
"Huh? What's everyone looking at me for? I didn't even start today's joke yet!" The blonde said. Sakura felt panic stricken as the rush of the events earlier was far different… And that smile… Sakura would forever remember the smile that had almost cost her, her life.
Everyone in class was silent; they looked absolutely stunned, just a moment ago. Naruto was close to committing murder. But he had stopped, just as when Iruka had appeared.
Iruka frowned, he had felt something had gone wrong with the blonde; there was no denying it. Iruka noted that no child will escape unscathed in a very stressful and traumatic event and that long pole of wood… Did Naruto do it a well?
The hospital failed to oversee this little problem, probably because Naruto was reclusive during the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours. He had not spoken a word, until the third day, where his exuberance re-appeared once again.
There was no denying it…
Naruto had developed Bipolar Disorder.
"Naruto, go find a seat and we'll start class; I'll escort Sakura to the nurse's office." Iruka mentioned, Naruto just nodded, he didn't know why, but he agreed, seeing Sakura was now in tears as to what just happened.
Kiba looked pale…
"T-That was scary…" He mumbled, to his left, Shikamaru nodded, sweat dripping from his brow.
"It looked like he was about to actually kill her, I-I couldn't react well, I got too frightened." Shikamaru said.
Naruto noticed the stares of his classmates; they were the eyes of fear, eyes that showed uncertainty towards him. Naruto's mood suddenly got ruined, he sighed, the stares of the children were turning like the adults. He suddenly felt that he had no place in this little classroom.
With a sullen look, he sat down, not speaking to anyone.
When Iruka came back, he began his lecture; Sakura was put to sleep and relaxed within the clinic. While class was under way, everyone kept looking at the blonde in fear, the one closest to him was inching away.
He was getting sick of it. He suddenly stood up, and ran for the window, Iruka went after him.
"Naruto! Get back to your seat this instant!" Replied the angry chuunin, Naruto didn't stop.
Naruto looked back at him with a huge grin, "No way! Besides… I don't have a place in that stuffy classroom anyway…"
Iruka froze, at the sudden willingness of Naruto to cut class, but more so to the last sentence. Iruka looked sullen for a moment. He was quiet, quiet because he suddenly saw himself within Naruto. It was then that Naruto ran off…
"H-He's gone… Thank goodness…" Ino voiced out, everyone gave a sigh of relief. The children didn't understand, no one did, about the turmoil that Naruto was going through, about the pain he was feeling.
Iruka knew it. But he dared not lecture in class about it; after all, showing favouritism wasn't in his job description.
He sighed; he would take Naruto to Ichiraku again for a talk over, maybe Anko could help him out again. It was hard dealing with someone like Naruto who showed emotions different from his heart, but once Iruka had gotten to know the blonde, he could read Naruto like an open book. And so did Anko.
He would later notice that someone in class had snuck out as well, though more stealthily than Naruto was.
He was by the swing in the playground again, swinging by himself slowly, he sat there, as the children passed by playing, children younger than him. He was silent, the effects of the earlier event was giving off something that he felt inside.
Naruto craved attention, and for people to take it away from him like that, it was devastating.
People live for a reason; they find that reason and strived for it. Without that reason, people become empty shells, hollow and unbidden. For Naruto, his reason was to search it for others; his reason for living was to affirm himself in a world of complacency and apathy. Apathy for him, no one wanted to talk or even get close to the whiskered child. It was his vow that he would find that in others, to see the person within.
Naruto looked down, his swing had stopped, he struggled to find his place in the world. His eyes were beginning to water… He was loosing hope.
Naruto looked up, and saw pale eyed girl looking at him, with a swipe of his eyes from his sleeve, he looked back at Hinata and smiled,
"Hinata! What are you doing here? Cutting classes too?"
Hinata nodded, as she sat to the other swing.
"I-I wanted to know what was wrong…" Hinata said, Naruto looked in question, he asked, "What? Nothing's wrong with me!"
Hinata didn't say a word, only she looked at Naruto with an 'I-don't-believe-you' look. He inwardly sighed, how could a girl he barely even knew look past his defences like that?
"I-I saw what happened earlier, I wasn't scared, merely, curious… W-What happened when you threw down Sakura-san?"
Now Naruto was questioning her, he didn't know that, was that the reason Sakura looked at him with a frightened expression? He had to know what exactly happened!
"I-I don't know… I don't remember anything doing that horrible to Sakura-chan… I would never hit a girl!" The blonde exclaimed, Hinata shook her head
"T-Then, I'll tell you what e-exactly happened."
And Hinata did, Naruto was appalled at what he just did. But he didn't know what he was doing at the time! He hasn't the slightest clue as how he did that!
"Then… Maybe that's the reason why everyone in class is afraid of me…" He said, his mind racing as he looked down…
"I-I don't think you should be near me, Hinata… I don't know what will happen."
Hinata knew, she thought that the trigger to the person was hostility towards him, and when Iruka stopped Naruto, who didn't showed any hostile intent, Naruto's persona went back.
"I-I wouldn't do that… B-besides, I think you won't be able to do that to me."
Naruto shouted, "What makes you say that so easily!?"
"B-because I trust Naruto-kun…"
Naruto was taken aback at that statement, someone he barely knew was putting her trust in him like that. And as if it made him feel better, he smiled, this time a genuine one.
"Thanks… Hinata…" Said the blonde as he got up from his swing, all cheered up.
With a huge grin, Naruto jumped from his swing and landed on the ground.
"I've already cut class so I can't go back… I'll just come back tomorrow, what about you, Hinata?"
Hinata felt conflict within her, on one hand; her father would surely be disappointed with her misbehaving after all. His disregard of her was a result of her failure to be a Hyuuga where she would surpass others being the heir. She was fearful of the consequences of what might happen, but on the other, she had already done the deed, there was no way she could go back now and apologize so casually to Iruka… Besides no one noticed her not in her seat, so…
"I-I think I'll spend the day with you…" Said the Hyuuga, Naruto beamed…
Perhaps it would really be good to skip a class or two sometime…
"C'mon Hinata! There's this place I really want to go to right now!"
Later in the afternoon:
It was a nice change of pace from his perspective, Hinata had been with him all day, going around Konoha and looking for his favourite spots, even going near a very pristine lake that people hardly ever knew.
When Naruto arrived near class, he was greeted with an angry Iruka who began to lecture him, Hinata had already left home, and no one ever noticed she skipped class.
"Naruto! You need to understand how important school is in order to become a well trained Ninja!"
Iruka shouted, the blonde merely flinched, being shouted by the villagers was one thing, but Iruka shouting at him would be different, he could have sworn the man had a second vocal chord prepared in such occasions.
Another ten minutes into the lecture, and Naruto's ears were already unwilling to listen, Iruka sighed; it was enough.
He ruffled the blonde's hair, a mannerism he developed along with Anko, it was one of the things that seemed to cheer up the blonde, and somehow, it always did the trick.
Arriving in Ichiraku, they were greeted by an aloof Anko waiting outside, her arms behind her head. Anko tended to act more like men, she was a free spirit, doing anything what she wanted. And when she wanted something, she usually gets it, by hook or by crook.
"Bah, you skipped class again, brat?" She said, giving a small flick on Naruto's forehead.
"I can't help it if those guys suddenly got scared of me!" Said the blonde rubbing his forehead.
"You scared them?" Anko asked in amusement a smile crossed her lips, "Now you're going to have to tell me this story!"
Once they got inside, Naruto started to explain his story about how he seemed to black out just after Sakura had hit him, how it was all fuzzy everything in between and how he just saw Sakura on the ground, shivering from fear and him holding a kunai in his hand. How Hinata had explained to him what happened.
Anko smirked, "Got to hand to ya', brat, you have a natural talent at this, how about being a member of our division, that little banshee got her place in this. Not your fault you lashed out at her."
"Anko, you're not helping! Naruto needs his peers if he wants to have a normal life!" Iruka griped
Anko snorted, "Yeah right, like simply obeying their hierarchy like that… It's a good thing Naruto showed that pinky her place, Iruka, it shows just how lacking she is in the 'kick ass' department, right brat?"
Naruto remained quiet, but he had that 'no shit' kind of expression, earning a laugh from Anko and a sigh from Iruka.
"Anko, you're promoting that behaviour, Naruto needs to understand he needs to control himself."
"And you need to understand it's not easy to control something like that. It would take years for Naruto to merge with it." Anko mentioned, being with Ibiki at the intelligence department made her understand a thing or two about psychology.
"What are you guys talking about?" The blonde asked, confused, Anko sighed,
"Forget about it Naruto, we're just glad you were stopped from doing something you might awfully regret. Now, let's eat that ramen, brat, you got a whole day tomorrow to catch up on." Anko said, ruffling Naruto's hair. The blonde meanwhile, just let it go. As they were about to head out, they were met outside with a surprised Sakura, about to head home. Sakura wanted to run, but now, she can't, if what happened earlier was any indication, Naruto would most likely catch up to her in a heartbeat.
With a sheepish look, Naruto scratched the back of his head and said, "I'm sorry Sakura-chan… I wanted to apologize…"
"Get away from me… Monster!" Sakura shouted, stepping away from Naruto who seemed stunned she said that, Naruto just stood there and put his arms back down, he couldn't say anything.
With that, Sakura ran in the opposite direction, not intent on looking back.
"Hey, get back here!" Anko was about to chase after the girl, but was stopped when Naruto held her hand,
"Don't nee-chan… It will probably just scare her more." Said Naruto, and Anko replied,
"You're letting her get away with that? Don't be a pushover brat! This is the reason why the kids in the academy pick on you!"
Iruka remained silent, watching Naruto's subdued expression, and said, "Don't let those words get to you, Naruto."
"I try not to…" Naruto mumbled.
"Oi, brat, you're not going to cry on us now are ya?" Anko replied
"But it's so hard not to…" The blonde said between sobs, Anko's expression calmed down. She kneeled down and embraced him.
"Don't try to be a martyr, Naruto. Nobody deserves all that hatred, don't stand there impassively and take it in strides." Anko said,
"I know… Nee-chan… I know…" He said, Iruka ruffled his hair
"No monster can ever cry, but you do it, can a monster grieve in sadness?" Iruka said, Naruto just put his hands in his eyes,
"I just don't understand why people do this to me… I don't even know what I did wrong…" Naruto said, Anko picked him up and said, "C'mon, Naruto, let's take you back, you need your rest."
Iruka nodded and went to help…
A sobbing Naruto would be the last thing that anyone will ever hear from that night.
For by the next morning, Naruto was already gone, not a trace of his existence remained.
To be continued…
Okay first thing first, I was questioning some of the facts that if Danzo wasn't part of the council but as an overseer and an advisor. I think the council, would be contradictory to his plans to be a Hokage. For one, it doesn't grant Danzo the free political power he has unlike when he has led Root, it's not in his character to side with such an aristocratic organization, it's detrimental to his plans, he feels more like the authoritarian figure, a dictator.
Second of all, traumatic situations that involve a child will lead to serious mental problems. With Naruto's defence mechanism, one with repression of memories, that will trigger a much more serious tone, I was considering he became aloof and uncaring then decided to change it to someone who now is inflicted with a darker personality underneath that cheery exterior, Bipolar Disorder was my answer.
Again, I do not do bashing fics very well, and I shall remain impartial, the beating that Sakura received is actually part of the plot that was essential to trigger Naruto's leaving. Of course I'll justify some of the behaviours that team seven's behaviour gives to Naruto.
Thanks for acepro Revolution for allowing me to write this challenge.