Author's Notes:

This was inspired by Synchronicity by withRainyEyes, which is truly an amazing story. I also wanted to see whether or not I could write with a darker tone. It's a short one-shot.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Summary:

They say they have the Will of Fire, they say that it runs through them, but they are wrong. The true Hi no Ishi lies wilted, waiting for someone to rekindle its flame and show the world the true meaning of 'will of fire'.


Hi no Ishi


Thunder roared as black clouds gathered over Konohagakure no Sato, completely blocking the afternoon sun. A glance at the heaven would confirm the imminent rain, one completely out of season. The citizens of Konoha sighed at the spoilt day; parents gathered their children from the grassy playgrounds, the owners of various stands unrolled the tarpaulin to shelter their customers and housewives rushed to save their drying clothes.

Although, the change in weather did not affect what appeared to be flecks of black moving from rooftop to rooftop. A few stopped to grimace at the sky in disdain, but they were duty bound and had to work in every condition. They were Shinobi of Konoha; they did not cower just because of something as ordinary as rain.

Soon enough, the black skies rewarded the now shadowed village with a heavy downpour; the streets became wet, excess of water running off into the sewers, and water rolled down rooftops in small bulks.

Underneath one such rooftop, Haruno Sakura sat gloomily on her bed. She tried to divert her attention from her mood by looking at the rain splashing against the window; little droplets of water made their way down the glass, racing each other. She was, in particular, entranced by two such droplets sliding down very close to each other, whenever one got ahead, the other quickly caught up… it was a never ending race, a stalemate. She winced, the object of her bad mood making its way into her conscious again, especially when she observed one drop stick exactly where the rain had hit, never moving on…

Was life making fun of her? Or was this a mere coincidence? She sighed as she plopped her head down on her pillow, her thoughts trailing back to the team meeting in the morning…

One week. It had been one week since they had returned from the disastrous mission to Nami no Kuni, and she knew that something had changed… something about Naruto.

He had once been a loudmouthed, obnoxious idiot who constantly pestered her for dates and always came in between her and Sasuke. Now… he was the same, but different. He acted the same, flashing her a cheery smile, pestering her for dates, and calling Sasuke-kun bad names, but she could have sworn that once when she looked into his eyes... they seemed so… dead.

Right now, watching him with Kakashi-sensei as he sparred with Sasuke-kun, she knew something had changed. He was on par with the Uchiha prodigy, the rookie of the year. She gripped the railing of the bridge she was leaning against as the fight heated up. Something seemed… off. They were trading blows in an almost synchronised manner, first savagely, using whatever holes that were present in the other's defence, and then with finesse and tactics.

Naruto bent to the side, his weight immediately shifting to his left leg, to intercept Sasuke's blow and responded with a swift kick to the chest. Sasuke pulled the hand which was in Naruto's clutches, perhaps hoping to unbalance the blond, but Naruto launched himself in the air and let go of the Uchiha's hand, resulting in a kick not strong enough to hurt, but strong enough to push the 'prodigy' off his feet.

"Che, Sa-su-ke," Naruto rubbed his nose in triumph. "Getting slow there!"

"Let's see who's getting slow, idiot!" was Sasuke's blunt reply as he once again prepared to trade fists, kicks and what-not with the blond.

Completely matched. Toe to toe. Equals. Stalemate.

"Maa, that's enough now!" Kakashi-sensei called, "It's getting late. Good job, Sasuke-kun, Naruto-kun."

Sakura saw Sasuke-kun grunt at Kakashi and then leave his stance to… nod approvingly at Naruto with a smile, which Naruto returned in the form of a big grin.

"Quite a spar, eh Teme?"

"Hn," Sasuke grunted again, and spun around to leave, hands stuck in his pockets.

She did not ask Sasuke-kun for a date today, she did not even hit Naruto when he asked her for one. She vaguely remembered turning the blond down, and slowly walking home, completely shocked.

Naruto… had gotten good enough for Sasuke-kun to acknowledge him, and not her… she was useless… weak…

Even during the Nami no Kuni mission, Naruto and Sasuke-kun had been the ones to save Kakashi-sensei… Naruto and Sasuke-kun had even fought of the fake Hunter-nin… and she… she had just stood there…

Sakura buried her face in her pillow in frustration, and soon went to sleep, tired from the day's ordeals.

―x―x―

Rain filtered through the lush green canopy, forming rivulets in the damp mud. They snaked slowly through the ground, carrying sand, clay, small pebbles, and… blood? The crimson snakes burrowed through the wet ground as they flowed around a pair of mud splattered, and blood stained shoes. Their owner just stood there, gazing blankly at the disturbing sight.

His hair was matted against his head, wet and sticky, and his eyes, once a beautiful, lively delphinium, gazed lifelessly into nothingness. His orange jacket, splattered in mud, lay discarded next to him, slowly turning a light red hue because of the pool of blood spreading below it.

He slowly turned his head, water running down his face, his neck, and under his shirt. He was completely wet, and getting more so as he stood under the unending rain. He blinked, moving very slowly and very awkwardly to lift up his jacket. Hefting it over his shoulder, he gazed down at the ground, making a choking noise as if trying to say something, but stopped abruptly and fled.

The rain continued to pour down, in time washing the mud off a blue cloth to reveal a blood soaked Uchiha fan embroidered in it.

The tattered remains of the shirt struggled under the downpour of water to cling to the corpse of one Uchiha Sasuke…

―x―x―

He could not move, could not speak, could not even blink…

He was like a stone gargoyle, conscious but so very dead…

"Well, that was fun!"

He gazed into the darkness within which the speaker stood, he could not do anything else, even an eyeball could not twitch. His state of incapacitation did not stop his heart from bleeding; he was crying even though his tear ducts were as dry as the Sunagakure deserts… he felt the pain, the disgust, the helplessness and he could not do anything about it.

Something shifted in the unending darkness which had seemed to engulf him, shifting closer to him…

"Why so quiet today… Naruto-kun?" He could hear the laughter, feel the shifting of the air itself, and it drew closer and closer.

"You don't seem happy… I had the impression that you always wanted to beat the Uchiha-brat."

Stop it… Stop…

A dark red tinted the darkness, he would stiffen had he already not been as still as a corpse.

"I bet when you crushed that Sharingan eye of his, you were making a point…"

Images flashed behind his eyes; Sasuke's marred corpse, his skull partially crushed, his left eye along with it, and there was blood everywhere, especially on his own hands…

Stop, please… no…

"Today, the day he finally saw you something more than a nuisance, and you ended his pathetic life…"

The blows they had traded, they spoke much more than words; words of understanding. Finally, they were not bitter rivals but something akin to friends and he had…

His heart wrenched in his chest… he wanted to cry, wanted to let it all out…

Stooop…

"Yes… Fun…"

"Stop…"

It came out as a whisper, but echoed throughout wherever he was, and for one second it seemed to have the desired effect. Until he heard the laughing again.

Slowly the red overtook the darkness, he heard the laughter getting closer than ever and then he saw them. Two giant eyes, glowing and gazing right at him. Red, like the pool of blood he had left Sasuke in, and burning with a flame, a flame which was scorching his soul. In them, he saw his very fate… his inevitable end…

Agony.

Suffering.

Hell.

"You amuse me, boy, if you think that you can stop me."

A red tongue rolled out from behind very large, pointed and yellow teeth, hissing at him. A foul stench struck him, over whelmed him… it was the stench of death. He watched in horror as a huge behemoth came into view; a behemoth in the shape of a fox, with nine cursed tails, blood red fur, and those deathly eyes… the Kyuubi no Kitsune.

Sasuke… Sasuke had fallen to the bloodlust of this monster. He did not know how it had happened, but flashes of red and white had ruled his vision, and his body had stopped responding to his commands, when… when he killed Sasuke in the middle of a simple, friendly spar… he was forced to kill his only friend…

He wanted to feel a stinging in the back of his eyes, he wanted tears to fall to mourn his friend… but he was not even allowed that. He had to stop this monster… he simply had to.

"I…" Naruto wheezed, "I… will… kill myself... a-and… and… take you… with me…"

The Kyuubi was quiet, gazing at him with its hellish eyes… Was it afraid? Would killing himself wor―

The Kyuubi erupted in a rumbling laugh, it made a chill crawl up his spine, he was afraid… truly afraid.

"Kill yourself?" It spoke in an amused tone, "Go ahead!"

The passive feeling of death, of decay, increased a thousand fold, weighing down upon him. He could feel his death in every passing second, his heart started beating faster.

The monster sneered at him with its teeth bared, "Or would you like me to do it for you?"

His heart was crashing against his chest, begging him for an escape… Death, he saw it, heard it, felt it… wanted it, he would escape―

"It will be easy for me to snap you like a twig, very easy! Since your foolish Hokage's seal did not hold, what makes you think I won't be released? Maybe I should just end you, and then wipe your village forever!"

"No… please… don't…"

The Kyuubi stared at the human's eyes; they had once been a fiery blue, but now were like glass… a glass it would enjoy shattering. Yes, his eyes spoke of his suffering, and it would let him suffer more… this was his 'tax' for holding its magnificence for twelve long years.

"Leave…"

Darkness once more covered his vision, and he saw no more.

―x―x―

This rain was strange, it had been going on and on with the same intensity, and it did not look like it would stop very soon. It was night, almost, and everything was still being washed down. Including the blood from a porcelain mask, a mask which looked very much like a bird...

Naruto stared sadly at the dead ANBU, feeling queasiness take hold of his insides. The sight of the pool of blood manoeuvring its way through his feet made the bile push its way forcefully through his mouth. The blood of one more stained his hands…

His face was scrunched up in disgust at himself, the Kyuubi had threatened him to either kill someone or be prepared to lose control of his own body and he had come here, to the northern boundary. Only one had to fall under the Kyuubi's bloodlust, but what disgusted him was that this death served his own purpose. Now he was very much free to leave Konohagakure, unhindered. Although… as he probed his mind to sense the Kyuubi, he made a silent vow to himself. He would find a way to end the Kyuubi, forever, for Sasuke and for this unnamed ANBU.

He spun around, the wet grass underneath him squelching, and quickly took to the trees. He would go away, away from anywhere he could hurt a living soul, and would not be seen until the threat of the vile Kitsune was over. Something sparked through him, he did not know whether it was pure anger, or hatred, or a mixture of both, but it kept him going as he defected from his village, his home.

Getting a good foothold on a high branch, he turned his head to take one last look at it. His sapphire eyes smouldered with a fire unheard of. They were like a maelstrom, a vortex, as he sucked in every detail to keep him company for years to come. He leapt off the tree, and into the forest, not turning back again.

Unknown to him, however, two ghostly orbs of blue flame remained hovering over that tree, unfazed even under the heavy rain. They blazed with a fire that mirrored Naruto's, a fire of pure will.

The Hi no Ishi.

It had finally rekindled, after a very long time, and would stop at nothing to righteously burn whatever stood before it.

The Kyuubi would finally learn the meaning of fear…


Author's Notes:

Edit - 2/2/2010 : Did some changes, here and there.

Edit - 4/2/2010 : Added a paragraph, and did some changes.

Edit - 13/2/2010: Tried to make the PoV change more smooth.