A Naruto Fanfiction
By The Phiraris Sarari
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
Naruto is about to die. At least, that's what he thinks. Instead, he finds himself waking up in a mental hospital surrounded by doctors all telling him the same thing: his whole life, everything that happened, was just a hallucination…
- My muse, whom I've taken to calling Gilly
- The Buffy episode Normal Again and the Charmed episode Brain Drain, which both have plots in many ways like this (though don't think they will play out the same way)
- And a little credit to the game The Company of Myself, just for inspiration instead of helping me form the story (if you've played this game, this credit still probably won't make much sense)
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first installment of Silent Break. Before you start reading, a note: This story incorporates a few dark themes, though it is as much about new beginnings as it is about painful endings. There will be some swearing and violence, but for the most part this story deals with emotions and, in a sense, freedom. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the chapter.
Surprise of all surprises, I don't own Naruto nor any of the Naruto characters or canon.
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
Every muscle ached. Pains of fatigue and overuse as he'd never experienced before filled his every joint with crashing ache. His lungs strained to bring in more oxygen and his heart pounded so loud his ears hurt from the sound. Stopping for a light rest, Naruto grimaced and attempted to fight off his impulse to simply collapse onto the ground. Under any normal circumstance he would have passed out by now, or the Kyuubi would have taken over. He refused to do the former as it meant leaving his village to fend for themselves. The latter was completely out of the question, as he could not guarantee that he wouldn't lose control and turn on his own people. Therefore, he had to stay awake. He had to keep fighting, no matter how much his body protested against the decision.
A loud crashing sound came from his right, accompanied by an inhuman cry and several loud screams. Forcing his legs to move, Naruto began to run towards the sound. The sight he came across was once a rare one, but sadly these days was nothing short of expected. The Hachibi, the Eight Tails, had attacked a squadron of Konoha Shinobi. The now-lifeless bodies lay scattered about him. They were so bloody and mutilated they very well could have been some of Naruto's closest friends. There wasn't any way of knowing.
A single tear slid down his cheek. That was really the most he could manage now. He'd cried so often these last few days there were hardly and tears left in him.
It had been a few weeks ago that Madara Uchiha had released the dreaded tailed beasts on the shinobi nations. He had only captured eight of them (having finally obtained Killer Bee), but had decided to nonetheless to launch his attack without the Kyuubi. The first to fall had been the small minor villages. However, not much later Kiri fell to the Three Tails and Four Tails, Iwa and Kumo fallowing shortly behind while fighting off the Two, Six, and Seven Tailed Beasts. Just days ago Suna had been attacked by none other than Shukaku, the Ichibi. When Sakura told him that Gaara had died protecting his village, it had nearly killed him. That had been the last time grief was able to overcome him. When the report of Team Gai's downfall reached him, or even the news of the complete demise of the Hyuuga clan, he was too numb to feel much of anything.
The Hachibi now sensed his presence, and it turned to regard him. Naruto felt too stiff and too tired to do much of anything. He wasn't sure if there was anything he could do. He didn't have the energy or chakra left to fight off a genin, let alone a tailed beast. But his musings didn't last long. In one mighty crash, a torrent of condensed chakra came tearing from the beast, heading straight for the Konoha ninja.
"Boy-!" The tremendous voice of the Kyuubi filled his head.
'There's no way out…' Naruto thought vaguely to the fox. 'I can't get away…'
He wasn't sure what to feel. A little scared, perhaps, and also a bit of sadness. Regret over not being able to save those precious to him, wishing things were different, that is was all just a horrible, horrible dream.
"Boy, I cannot heal this!" The Kyuubi roared inside his head.
"Move, dammit, move!"
'I can't.' And that was the truth. His legs were nothing more than useless masses of flesh at that point.
"No! Move! I refuse to die!"
Naruto didn't have time to reply before the wave of chakra hit him. For a brief moment pain worse than anything imaginable hit him. It felt like a fifty tons of lava-hot rock had hit him. Shock waves of agony sped through his system like fiery acid. But just as quickly as it hit him, it faded. A gentle feeling, like falling asleep, overcame his senses.
'And this is where it ends.'
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
It was dark, but not completely black. Instead, there was a strange reddish-brown tinge to the color. It was as if just beyond the darkness a light was shinning at him, tinting his current vision.
'But wait…' thought Naruto. 'That can't be right. When you're dead, it's supposed to be either pitch black or a bright light. But this is neither.'
Slowly, Naruto became aware of a discomfort, as though his body has been situated in a rather awkward position. But that couldn't be right, either. Death was supposed to alleviate all pain and bodily agony. While it was definitely not as bad as the force of the Hachibi's attack, it still hurt. A pair of hands suddenly started grabbing at him, repositioning his limbs until it was more comfortable. Then a blanket was placed over him. Since when were there blankets in heaven? Unless he was in hell, but it was doubtful there were blankets there either.
His eyes felt heavy, like small weights were placed on them. 'My eyelids?' His mind felt about until it reached the right muscles. Slowly, he opened his eyes, only to immediately narrow them.
A blinding, florescent light was glaring down at him from above, sending a sharp sting to his eyes and temporarily blinding him. Naruto allowed this eyes to adjust a little before he felt around for his arms and legs. Once he felt confident he had control of them, he slowly pushed himself into an upright position.
"Damn," he heard a soft, female voice comment. "I thought I'd have more time until he got back up."
Naruto looked ahead for the source of the voice. He saw a woman there that he didn't recognize. She was dressed in a plain white uniform, holding a clipboard and a syringe half-filled with some kind of substance. She regarded him with a look of anxiety and apprehension, as if she were waiting for him to do something.
"…" Naruto shook his head and tried to locate his voice. "Wh… wh…"
Confusion came across her face as she stared at him.
"Wh-where…" Naruto swallowed and forced the words out. "Where aaa..am I?"
The woman just stared at him in disbelief, as if she were very startled to hear him ask her a question. Yet she didn't reply.
"M-miss…" Naruto's voice began to regain its power, the sounds forming more quickly now. "C-can you t-tell me where I aaam?"
The woman looked as if she were about to faint. "You… are you talking to me?"
Now it was Naruto's turn to look confused. "Who else w-would I be talking to?"
Suddenly, the woman screeched. Not out of terror, but out of joy. She ran out of the room, leaving Naruto to stare after her in blatant confusion. He heard her ecstatic shouts echoing from down the hall. "He's back! The last ICHD patient is back!"
The woman then came running back, and fallowing her were several other people, all of whom were wearing either a similar uniform or a long, white overcoat and all of whom he did not recognize. Well, almost all of them he didn't recognize.
"I-Iruka?" His voice was so soft he doubted anyone heard him. Naruto could hardly believe his eyes. Iruka had been one of the early casualties in the Fourth Ninja War. He thought he'd never see him again.
Iruka smiled and walked up to him, giving him a quick hug. "Naruto! You're back! You're back! I'm so glad!"
Naruto didn't have the slightest idea what he was referring to, but he was happy to have the chance to hug his old – and apparently not deceased – sensei. Unfortunately, some of the others who were in the room pulled Iruka back so they could have more room to corner him like a pack of ravenous hyenas trapping their prey. They started to touch him all over, particularly his wrists and his neck. Some of them flashed lights in his eyes while others attached colored chords to his head. These chords in turn were attached to a machine that had a monitor that displayed, as far as Naruto could tell, random squiggly lines that made absolutely no sense.
"The EEG is completely normal," one of the random people declared in an awed voice. "Just like the others…!" At this the room stirred. Several people gawked at him, which only served to irritate Naruto.
"Sorry to interrupt your…" Naruto honestly had no idea what they were doing so he simply waved his hand and continued on. "But could someone please explain what in the hell is going on?"
Iruka pushed his way through the crowd of adults and squatted down in front of him. "Do you know who you are?"
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Of course."
Iruka looked at him expectantly, which caused Naruto to sigh. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki," he said.
Iruka nodded. "And how old are you?"
"Do you know who I am?"
Naruto tried not to snort. "Duh. You're Iruka. You didn't think I'd forget you that fast, did you?"
Iruka smiled at that, but that soon faded. "Naruto, where were you born?"
Naruto frowned at the sudden change in Iruka's mood. "In Konoha."
This answer caused Iruka to frown deeply. The people around him nodded sadly, as if they expected the answer but weren't happy with it. That just confused Naruto even more.
"What is your occupation?" Iruka asked next. "What do you do?"
The boy was reluctant to answer again, but didn't see an alternative option. "…I'm a Konoha shinobi. A ninja."
Iruka visibly flinched like the words themselves just slapped him the face. He nodded to himself and he stood up fully again. "Just like the others," he remarked in a heavy voice. "The exact same thing."
Naruto was almost frightened now. "What?" He asked, looking around. "What's going on? What are you talking about? What do you mean?"
Iruka turned to the others. "A moment, please?" When it looked like the others were about to protest, he continued on. "Look, you already checked his vitals and brain wave activity, and just like the others there was nothing wrong. I just need a few minutes, then you can go back to your testing."
The people in the room looked at each other and shrugged. Reluctantly, they left the room so Iruka and Naruto were alone. Iruka once more squatted down in front of the boy and looked him straight in the eye.
"Naruto…" he began. "I have to tell you something. I need to you to listen. You won't believe me, I'm sure, but it is the truth."
Naruto nodded, curious and worried.
Iruka sighed and continued on. "You are indeed Naruto Uzumaki, and you are eighteen years old, but you were not born in Konoha, and you are not a ninja."
"…What?" Naruto understood the words Iruka was saying, but they didn't make any sense. The older man looked sad and pressed on.
"There is a city in a country called Japan that's called Tokyo. Have you heard of either?" Naruto shook his head. "I didn't think so. Well, Naruto, you were born there." Naruto opened his mouth, but Iruka didn't stop. "Up until two years ago, you were a normal teenager. You aren't, never will be, and never have been, a ninja."
"Wh-what are you talking about, Sensei?" Naruto did not like where this was going.
Iruka looked down for a brief second. "I'm not sure what role I played in your world, Naruto, but I'm not your sensei. I… I'm your father. Not biologically, though. I adopted you after your parents died in a car crash."
"That's not right!" Naruto cried, his voice wavering. "M-my parents died when the Kyuubi attacked! My f-father sacrificed himself for the village! I wasn't adopted… y-you taught me at the academy. Y-you're Iruka-sensei! I d-don't… I d-don't…!"
Iruka wrapped his arms around Naruto tightly, to both comfort and restrain him. "Naruto, I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. But…" he hesitated. "Everything you think you know… all your memories… your life… that's just a lie. Everything you think happened to you… it was just a hallucination. It wasn't real. It was all a lie."
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
Naruto didn't know what to think. It had been just hours since he died/recovered from mental illness, and he couldn't yet tell if he was processing or simply in shock. His head raced, a thousand ideas whipping through his mind simultaneously. Emotions crashed through him a dozen at a time. At one moment he felt sorrow, anger, and bitterness while the next he felt happiness, relief, and hope. His sensei-made-father had explained to him that he was currently in a small city called Eikyu (in Japan, his apparent home country) in a mental hospital for, as Iruka referred to them, 'long-term patients.' For two years now he'd been there, trapped in some kind of never-ending hallucinatory alternate universe. He was constantly battling imaginary foes, his punches and kicks sometimes injuring real people who were near him. The doctors and psychiatrists did everything in their power to release him from his own mind, but all to no avail. He had been declared a hopeless case and for months it was all they could do to monitor him to make sure he didn't hurt himself or anyone else.
Iruka was made to leave so one of the doctors – the people who had been swarming into his room earlier – could run some tests. She was a nice woman who spoke to him kindly as she recorded several things the surrounding machines did.
"I know this must be a lot to take in," she said softly. "Of course, I can't imagine what it must be like, but I sympathize, I really do." She turned off the mechanical giant she had just been using and focused her attention on him. "So you don't remember anything?"
"I remember…" Naruto tried to from the right words. "I remember everything that didn't happen…" he looked at her, hoping to convey his meaning.
"You remember all of your alternate life," she interpreted. Naruto nodded to show that was indeed what he had tried to say. "But none of your – real – life?"
Naruto shook his head. That was the worst of it. He'd been here for two years now, but before that he had been completely normal. The first sixteen years of his life had been spent as a normal person. But all those memories, absolutely everything, had been erased from his mind completely, replaced with the fake memories from another life. Sixteen years – gone. Not even a small trace remained in his mind of what was once there. He only remembered his name and Iruka because they existed in his hallucination, in his imaginary world. If they hadn't, he wouldn't remember those either. They, too, would have been erased.
His parents had died when he was six. He would have had memories of them. Not many, but enough to at least assure himself they once existed. Now, just like in the imaginary world, he had none. He couldn't remember his mother's face or her voice. And he'd never get a chance to see her again.
He felt like screaming, like crying, like running about in circles cursing this world, his life, and anything else he felt like damning to hell. How was this fair? In a single second his whole life had been uprooted and in the next he was suddenly thrown into another. Maybe it would've been better if he never recovered. Yet at the same time he felt grateful. After all, this was his life. His world hadn't been uprooted. He had recovered from a severe illness (though exactly how he did so was unknown), and how could that be a bad thing? Iruka had died in his other world, but here he was alive and well. He could speak to him, talk to him, and have him there when he needed him most. Maybe, just maybe, there were others whose faces and names managed to cross the boarder from reality to imagination. Maybe there were others who had died in his hallucination who still existed here. That small shred of hope that some of the friends he watched fall still lived on here was enough to keep himself together. He resolved to talk to Iruka about it the first chance he had. When the doctor got up to leave, he asked her to send him in. She smiled and agreed to do so.
When Iruka came back into the room, the first thing Naruto did was run over to him and hug him. He needed to make sure he was really there. His sensei/father was surprised, but hugged him back. "Is there anything you need, Naruto?"
Naruto nodded and released the man. "I was wondering if… well, seeing as how you were in my hallucination…" Naruto frowned. The word tasted bitter on his tongue. It seemed almost… rude to refer to the shinobi world as such. Shaking his head, he continued. "I was wondering if there would be anyone else from my… hallucination… that also existed in this world. Like you."
Iruka nodded. "That's a definite possibility." Scratching his chin thoughtfully, he seemed to come to a conclusion. "I think it would be best if you got some sleep," he said. "I have a few phone calls to make." Iruka ruffled Naruto's hair affectionately and left the room.
At first, Naruto didn't understand how he was supposed to sleep in this situation. His mind was racing with too much new information to rest now. But once he laid back and stopped trying so hard to piece things back together, he was surprised by just how easy it was to fall into that deep realm of slumber. Even though he had, in a sense, just woken up, the reality was he hadn't gotten any sleep at all. Not since he last had a chance to back in his other world. The weariness he had felt during his final battle as a shinobi crept back into his body as he fell asleep.
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
"I can't believe it… is it really true, Umino-san?"
"I spoke to him just yesterday. He's only sleeping now."
"Should we wake him up?"
"I think we should let him sleep for now."
"Keep your voices down, will you?"
Several voices reached Naruto through the haze of sleep. He recognized Iruka's voice immediately. The others, too, sounded familiar. He could quite yet make out what they were saying. Fighting against the drowsiness, Naruto slowly opened his eyes.
"Look, he's waking up!"
Naruto sat up, stretching his arms and yawned openly. Rubbing the last of the grogginess from his eyes, he looked around the room – and stopped abruptly. There was a group of people standing just to the right of his bed by Iruka. All of those faces, those voices he just heard, he recognized them! They were… they were…
"S-Sasuke! Sakura!" Those were the faces he noticed right away. Sakura… he never knew what became of her in his other world. He hadn't seen her for a few days and he had just begun to fear the worst. Sasuke… no one knew what became of the Uchiha prodigy gone AWOL. Shortly before the tailed beasts were set free Team Hawk had suddenly gone inactive. Whatever happened no one knew. None of the members, alive or dead, were ever found, leading people to believe maybe Madara had changed his mind and decided to kill them, perhaps feeding them to Zetsu. A month after their disappearance, the shinobi nations declared them all dead and stopped whatever manhunts they might have had. Naruto had always hoped Sasuke managed to save himself, but the lack of any proof of his continued existence began to way heavy on the Kyuubi-Jinchuuriki.
"N-Naruto," Sakura said, her face reflecting shock and joy. "I-I can't believe it… you're really…" She suddenly ran over and threw her arms around him. "Naruto!"
Naruto gladly returned the embrace to the girl he'd always loved. "It's so great to see you again, Sakura," he said, trying hard not to cry ecstatically. After a few more moments, the pinkette released her hold and stood back to give him some air, at which point Sasuke promptly stepped forward.
"Hey, dobe," he greeted unceremoniously. It was clear that, even in this world, the stoic Uchiha didn't care much for cheesy reunions. Naruto was a little glad; it wouldn't be the Sasuke he knew otherwise.
"Hey, you friggen' teme," Naruto replied just as bluntly. The ghost of a smirk crossed Sasuke's face for just a moment before the other new arrival in the room made his presence known.
"Ay, Naruto, you didn't forget me, did you?"
Naruto looked over to see none other than Kiba Inuzuka standing there, a grin on his face. The way he asked the question was teasing, but Naruto could see the real worry underneath it. As sad as it was, the truth was maybe Naruto did forget him.
And in a sense, he did.
Naruto smiled. "I know you, Kiba. And I know you, Sakura. And you, Sasuke. But…" Naruto's smile fell. "I don't remember you."
The three guests looked at him, confused.
Naruto sighed. He didn't want to elaborate, but what choice did he really have? "I only recognize you because… all of you also existed in my… hallucination…" Still, the word was bitter. "But I don't remember you from this world. I know you as my friends in my world, but I… don't know what you're actually like in this one."
Sakura looked away, struggling with tears. Kiba looked sad and Sasuke looked… well, like Sasuke. He walked over to Naruto and sat down at the corner of the bed.
"As you know, I'm Uchiha Sasuke," Sasuke stated. "I live in Tokyo, where you used to live. We've gone to school together ever since we were kids. You're my classmate and my friend."
Kiba, fallowing Sasuke's example, walked over as well. "Inuzuka Kiba. I also live in Tokyo. I didn't meet you until middle school but we became pretty good friends all the same. Iam your best friend." He gave a sharp glare towards Sasuke, which caused Naruto to chuckle.
Sakura turned her head back to her friend. "I am Haruno Sakura. I've known you for almost as long as Sasuke has. You're my best male friend."
Naruto had, though he wouldn't admit it, secretly been hoping for boyfriend, but he would take what he could get. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto! Up until, well, yesterday, I thought I was a ninja living in Konoha."
"A ninja, huh?" Sasuke was evidently trying not to look amused. "A bad one, I assume."
"Oh, please!" Apparently, his rival relationship with Sasuke crossed between worlds. "I totally kicked your ass! On numerous occasions, might I add."
"Then obviously you didn't represent me right," Sasuke retorted. "No way I'd lose to you."
"Ha! You wouldn't believe how many times I saved your sorry butt! Like during that fight with Gaara—"
Naruto would've continued if it hadn't been for Iruka's all-too-noticeable flinch. "Iruka? What's up? You look startled."
Iruka shook his head. "No… it's nothing… no, that can't… it's not…" Iruka suddenly seemed to regain himself. "Visiting hours are over." Sakura, Sasuke, and Kiba all began to protest. "Look, I'm sorry, but you have to leave."
The three waved good-bye in between glares at Iruka as they were shooed out of the room.
"How can visiting hours be over?" Naruto complained. "It's like ten in the morning!" Translation: I've just gotten to meet up with my friends after two years and you're taking them away?
Iruka looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, Naruto. But I want to talk to you, and I don't want to get any more people involved then necessary." Iruka hurried over to him. "You mentioned Gaara, did you not?"
Naruto grunted affirmatively.
"Well…" Iruka stopped to organize his thoughts. "You aren't the only one this has happened to, you know." Naruto's eyes widened considerably. "There have been eight others. You're the ninth."
'Wait… this sounds eerily familiar…'
"And patient number one is Sabaku no Gaara."
'Oh yes, definitely familiar.'
"So, Gaara has the same thing I do?"
"Had. He came back to us, well, almost a week ago. He's still here, actually, they haven't released him just yet."
There were things clicking in Naruto's brain, but it was hard to bring them to the surface. And the look on Iruka's face was telling him there was still something else. "…And?"
"Well, Naruto…" Iruka paused. "There are two types of people in hallucinations. Those formed based on people you actually know, or people that are completely unreal. But this is neither."
"Well, Naruto, the thing is… Gaara is a real person, not completely made up. But you don't know him either. The fact is he isn't from this part of Japan. You shouldn't be able to name him because, well, you've never even met him before."
~~~ - Silent Break - ~~~
End of Chapter One
For all who have made it this far, a word of thanks. This was actually a lot of fun to write. I hope the ending was clear enough. It's the best stopping point I can think of right now.
Just to note, I'm not a doctor or psychiatrist, and research makes me nauseous. So, I'm just kind of making educated guesses here. If I get anything wrong, feel free to correct me. So, just for your information, EEG (which stands for something long and hard to remember) measures brain wave activity. ICHD (Idiopathic Chronic Hallucinatory Disorder) is something I made up because I didn't see any diagnoses that would fit during my brief glances at hallucination disorders.
Thank you for reading. All reviews are appreciated.
-The Phiraris Sarari