Chaos - It's just the beginning.
Every promise I made I'm rescinding.
Center mass in the middle of the monster,
I'm getting tired of drowning the constant...
Nil-Slipknot. Vol.4 (The Subliminal Verses), 2004
Sakura Haruno hangs, exploring the spectrum of the pain she is in. In the infrared, she finds ashes of thirst that cook her throat raw. Higher, in the visible spectrum, crimson wire-stretched ligaments that hiss within her shoulders. Screams howl from her hip joints like the death cry of a mother lioness as her golden coat is stripped from her body. There is green here too; tongues of bubbling acid taste her nerves, as well as lightning blue shocks that spasm her overloaded body into convulsions.
And higher still, far beyond the ultraviolet betrayal that brought her here, a betrayal that delivered her into the embrace of this…thing; a betrayal by one whom she trusted. She finds bursts of the gamma-rays seeping into her mind, twisting the signals in her brain in ways they were not meant to do so.
Why? She moans somewhere deep within herself. Why are you doing this? She remembers the hallway, the loud crash that came from the door that led to her mother's room. She opened the door only to be met by the Black. It latched onto her; strangling and binding her; bringing her to her knees and preventing her to even think of escape. She felt the liquid pour into her; digging up into her nostrils, puncturing her eardrums, pouring itself down her throat into her stomach and lungs. Doing everything it can to connect itself to her. And before she blacked out, before unconsciousness was forced upon her, she saw him; her friend who haunted her with cruel visions and terrible nightmares. He is standing among the black as he always does; his skin is white as snow and his hair black as night. She saw him and before darkness claimed her she felt despair.
These are the colors that disturb her mind.
Sakura knows, intellectually, distantly, abstractly, that once she lived outside the white. She knows she once felt happiness, pleasure, regret, anger, even love. But these are only shadows, ghosts murmuring beneath the roar of pain that fills everything she is, everything she will ever be. The fact that the white did have a beginning did not mean it has an end. She now exists beyond time...where she exists there is only White.
Sakura has become a prism, reintegrating the glimmering spectrum of pain into pure, blazing agony. Agony is White. Snow-blind in an eternal ice-noon of suffering, Sakura Haruno hangs in the White.
The touch of a hand along her jaw leaked time into the White. This is not a human hand, it was shaped as such, four fingers of varied length and one opposable thumb, but it was too cool, too cold to be the touch of family or a close friend. The touch was moist, and somehow not unkind. Pain retreated to the back of her mind until she could think again, though she could feel it there, lurking and waiting. She knew it would overtake her again; it would break in waves across her, but for now the tides of agony rolled out and she could open her green eyes.
The hand that brought her out of the white belonged to Naruto, he stood below her looking up with calm ebony eyes, his fingers light upon her cheek and the same knowing smile on his face.
She was hung horizontally, suspended face-downtwo meters aboveafloor of shifting oils and shadows. Its surface was in a constant state of motion, save where he stood which seemed to form a platform of black ice. Something that felt like claws, razor sharp and unyielding, gripped her skull from behind; she could not move her head to see what held her. Her arms were drawn wide, pulled to the full extension and twisted so that her shoulders howled in their sockets. A single strong grip crushed her ankles, grinding bone on bone.
Yet now the greatest pain was to look on Narutoand remember that she had trusted him. He withdrew his hand, clenching and opening it while he stared at her with those eyes, a small grin on his face. Before, such a smile would give her comfort and solace, but now it mocks her reminding her of just how much she had put into her trust in him and now what it was costing her.
"Comfortable?" He asks of her, his voice casual even as he mocks her. "I doubt it."
Her mind is too strained to feel anger; even resentment is beyond her capacity now. She tries and fails to force herself to awaken, to snap her mind away from what must be a dream. Yet she cannot. He waits, his dark eyes alight with grim amusement, the kind of amusement one garners from playing the a wounded animal, listening to its pained cries with your every touch. "I-" Speaking tore at her throat as though she had splinters of diamond in her esophagus. She squeezed her eyes shut and forced the words from her mouth. "I trusted you."
He tilts his head to the left. "Yes. Yes you did." He lifted his hand, moving non-existent strands of hair behind his ear. His smile never left as he asked his next question. "Why?"
She didn't have the strength to give him an answer, and then she found she had no answer to give. When they'd first met, he was just a rambunctious little kid, running about and doing everything he could to get himself noticed. He would smile, and grin, and laugh his way right into your heart. And yet now to look upon him he had become something...else. His skin was pale as a corpse; his hair, once gold and bright as the sun itself, was now lengthened and black. Blue eyes that could enrapture you and fill you with utter warmth were now lifeless and black as the void. His smiles frightened when once they comforted.
How could she have known this would happen?
How could she have ever trusted him?
"You-you saved Sasuke." She rasped; a plausible reason at last.
"Did I?" He tilted his head to the left now, amusement in his dark eyes. "And if I did, what significance do you attach to this? Perhaps I had my own reasons for saving his life. Or perhaps you were my true interest; perhaps I saved him to try and ensure you would be happy. Perhaps everything I have done was to bring you here and ensnare you in the Embrace of my Tears."
"Which-Which was it?" She gasped, trying in vain to sound demanding.
"Which do you think it was?"
She was not so broken that she did not know she was being mocked. "What do you want from me? Why are you doing this?"
"Such deep questions..." His smile was calm, condescending, and undeniably cruel. "It is near enough to the truth to say that I am a messenger of melancholy; a herald for tragedy, bearing gifts to ease the grieved."
Her eyes widened by a millimeter, it was all she could manage as the numb fear crossed her mind. She licked her lips, her dry tongue scraping them raw. "You're saying…You're saying, you're going to kill me." It was not a question, but a statement of the facts as she saw them…
And then he started laughing. "Oh, don't be so melodramatic." He continued to chuckle as though the very thought was very, very funny to him. "Besides, how can I kill that which is already dead?" Seeing her confusion and alarm he waved his hands and shook his head. "Let me explain." He lifted his hand up and from the shadows appeared a doppelganger, the faker's eyes were just as cruel as her master's and she smiled wickedly at the original. Naruto laughed again at her expression. "You see, you are forever lost to the world of which you knew. You are dead and no one mourns you. This double knows all that you know, and to everyone but me is completely indistinguishable from the real thing. Do you understand? No one is coming. No one has any reason to suspect anything is amiss. You are helpless."
"What-What are you?"
He raised his eyebrows and made a gesture quick as lightning. "I am Naruto Uzumaki." Inside Sakura's head, a swirl of chakra kindled a flame brillinat as the sun. It began to swell, gathering power, ramping up intensity until the light inside her skull washed away the dark chamber in which she hung. In this whited out blaze, she heard his voice, cold and precise as a jet-stream of water. "I am your guide though the lands of the dead."
Beyond that Sakura Haruno heard and saw no more, for a silent supernova exploded within her brain and blasted the world she knew to dust.
He wasn't wearing orange. Somehow her mind just couldn't wrap itself around that concept. Naruto Uzumaki not wearing orange of any kind? It was madness. Were he a religious leader it would have been blasphemy. And yet he looked so good; she couldn't take her eyes off of him.
"What are you thinking about?" He asked of her as they sat atop the Hokage heads and overlooked the village. It was almost nightfall and she'd agreed to come and watch the setting sun with him before she had to head home. He was leaned back on his elbows and she was sitting alongside him cross-legged. "You've been staring at me for the last half hour." He grinned seeing her expression and the cute blush on her cheeks
"I-I've just," She looked away biting the inside of her lower lip trying to coax the words from her mouth. "I've never seen you without orange before." She chanced a look at his face and saw the grin that was threatening to burst into laughter.
He reached up and tapped her forehead with his index finger, it was a sort of hobby he'd grown into when he was teasing her. "Is that all? Is it so weird for me to wear anything but that ridiculous outfit?"
"No!" She jumped at the force of her own voice. "I-I mean, orange looks really good on you." She looked away blushing quite heavily as at last his laughter punctured his lips.
"Hinata, I hate orange." This stopped her dead, her head whipped to stare at him. Her eyes were wide, mouth slightly agape. He smiled again. "I have always hated orange. The only reason I ever wore that ridiculous outfit was for Sakura's benefit."
She opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water and he continued. "Think about it, Hinata: What are the only two more obnoxious colors than red and pink in the middle of the forest?" He waited for an instant and before she could make her mouth work well enough to answer he continued. "Yellow and orange. Furthermore, who has a very powerful healing factor that repairs any damage I might suffer within minutes of its introduction?"
Once more he didn't wait for an answer before continuing. "Me. I didn't have to worry about being killed so I made myself a bigger target so that when I was attacked I could warn the others." He leaned back, folding his hands behind his head. "Personally, I kind of like a darker color scheme, the blues and purples," His eyes met hers again and she felt herself freeze, as though she were a rabbit looking into the eye of a hungry predator. "And black. Definitely black."
A shudder ran though her body and she shut her eyes trying to keep it invisible. When she opened her eyes again he was smiling, his deep blue eyes giving her the most adoring, lustful gaze she'd ever received. They gleamed like pairs of fire blue gemstone, and she could do nothing as he reached out for her, his fingers sliding along her jaw and under her chin. He sat up, leaning towards her; his eyes remained open, watching her like a hawk. She couldn't look away; no, she didn't want to look away. She wanted; she needed him to kiss her. To feel his lips brush her own...It was like an inferno in her throat, a thirst growing and threatening to overtake her at any moment.
And then she felt two fingers tap her forehead.
She blinked several times and found herself standing in front of her compound yet again. Naruto once more had that same strange look on his face; his head tilted to the left, a concerned frown on his features. Yet an odd, knowing gleam was in his eyes, as though he knew a lot more than what he was letting on. "Hinata? Are you feeling alright?"
Other than the fact that I want you in the most immoral and vulgar ways? Oh yes, I'm just fine. Snapped a part of her mind, yet she only blushed and nodded. "Y-Yeah, I've just…" He chuckled again breaking her thought pattern for what felt like the umpteenth time. How was it that he affected her such and was still so oblivious to it? Was he truly unaware of the way her tormented her mind?
He reached out and put his hand on her head ruffling her hair. "You're so cute when you blush like that!" He laughed again before shouting in surprise as she fell forward into his shoulder. He smiled reaching down to pick up her legs like a bride and carried her towards the door.
Seconds or centuries passed in oblivion.
Consciousness swam back into Sakura Haruno, and she opened her eyes to find herself still hanging in the dark. Once more Naruto was before her, rolling a very small ball of clear yarn on his knuckles. As he sat on a throne of twisting shadows, she saw on his face the same alien facsimile of cheerful mockery.
Nothing had changed, and yet everything had changed. The world was so...empty.
"What?" She croaked, her throat raw as though she'd spent days screaming in her sleep. "What have you done to me?!"
He removed his eyes from her, directing his smile upon the clear ball which continued to dance and jump about on his gloved hand. "You've no business having chakra, nor should it have any business with you. You humans are so impulsive, and reckless; Infants teething on a kunai. No, I think that chakra is much too dangerous for a child. Much more dangerous than the explosives a teenager can buy because of the headband on his head. So I decided to take it away from you."
The emptiness was howling in Sakura's skull, she felt so... void. Yet even in the numbness she could feel the shock and horror of this statement. She tried to focus; to work her chakra in some small way... But all she felt was emptiness, there was no chakra to mold. "But... There's no... You couldn't have-"
"Oh, but I did." At last he rolled the ball between his two fingers and held it up as one would a trophy. The realization hit her like a cannon. That was not yarn that had been rolled into a ball... It was her entire chakra system; physically removed by some unknown means. "I will admit it took some time and effort on my part, but in the end, the transplant was a success." He stood and the throne he'd been sitting in twisted and became his cloak. "You were very fortunate to have survived; I didn't know that the chakra system was essential to a living being's survival." He was now before her his dark eyes gleaming like onyx gems. "I had to find a replacement."
Something within her, in her very bones stirred. She received a sensation similar to the feeling one gets when trying to surge their chakra, she always felt a strange elation in molding the energy; not so with this. This was alien, beyond her control, and she knew who now plucked the strings.
He was staring at her with a cool, knowing smirk.
"The Tears are such an amazing entity. Did you know that to protect their leaders from death, the tears could take prisoners and infect their entire nervous system with a special parasite connected to the Tears themselves? In doing so, nerves in the leader's body could shift any pain or wounds onto such a prisoner." He held up his hand, his index finger already shifted into a long serrated cutting tool. He curled the finger and placed it along his wrist.
"Let's see if we can't make you scream."
Are you confused yet? Don't worry, all the answers will come soon enough.
This chapter had a lot of help via Mattew Stover's Traitor.