A/N: All right, this story is a bit dark. But hopefully, it won't be a snooze to all you lovely readers. There is action and romance (of course) as well as strong emotions, possible gore, and mild language. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
It was the middle of the night, and I was still wide-awake. My eyes were tightly shut and my jaw was clenched. My hands fisted around the blankets as I sunk deeper into the cushions. A trail of sweat ran down the side of my face, mingled with tears of fear.
A shriek echoed throughout the school grounds, followed by another, and another. My heart skipped a beat and I swallowed hard. I tried not to think of the pain the owners of the screams were enduring. I tried not to think of all the coffins that would surely be paraded through the dorms in the morning.
It was my last year at Vita Academy. All the teachers promised us everyone would live, but every year, the list of executions seemed to grow. And every year, I lay awake imagining what the atmosphere would be like inside Thanatos Hall.
I bit my lip as salty drops entered my mouth. I hastily wiped my face with my sleeve as my mind conjured an image of my own death.
"You'll all live," they said," Just like your parents."
"But my parents didn't live. No one knows how I was even born," I whispered, my confusion bubbling into anger. I was ready to claw my hair out at the thought of the blade coming down and decapitating me.
The executioner was called Charos, or death bringer. He was actually kind, on the occasion that we spoke. But the fact that he murdered children was too much for me to bear. I couldn't stand to be in his presence for a mere minute without the want to flee.
I inhaled sharply as I realized the screaming had stopped. They were all dead. The ones who were deemed unworthy last year were gone.
I let out a quiet gasp and a throaty sob. I sat up and hugged my knees to my chest. It wasn't fair.
I drowned myself in misery, mourning the poor souls, stripped of life too long before their time. As I wrung my hands and attempted to calm down, I failed to notice the soft knock on my window. It wasn't till the small tap turned into an aggressive banging, did I look up.
There was figure outside, hovering before my window. Its hair whipped about its head in the most terrifying way. The creature was shrouded in black, it's hands fisted much like mine.
Suddenly, its eyes flashed open, revealing pupil-less orbs of pearl white and lavender. My hands found their way to my chest and I clutched at my pajamas, horrified.
"The souls have come back from the dead to haunt me. Or perhaps, the Charos had decided to kill me early," I thought.
But when I heard a human voice, all fear was replaced with curiosity.
I crept towards the window slowly, holding my breath as I did so. The latch, covered in rust, groaned as I pushed it sideways. The chain attached to the little knob rattling like a wind chime.
The window produced a shrill creak as I eased it open. And in a flash, I was thrust to the ground, a heavy weight forcing the air out of my lungs. My heart beat wildly, its thundering sound filling my ears. Somewhere in the background, however, I could hear muffled laughter.
I finally comprehended that the creature was actually a boy. His face was buried in the crook of my neck as he chortled at some unknown amusement.
He lifted his head to peer down into my eyes. I must admit he was quite handsome, with an enigmatic air about him.
"Sorry," he said, getting off my body and helping me to my feet. I looked down at my sopping pajamas.
"Sorry," he repeated, "It was raining." I nodded, taking in his clothing. I was surprised to see he was wearing the Vita uniform.
"What are you doing out at this time of night? Curfew is at nine o'clock," I reminded him, crossing my arms as goose bumps covered my skin.
He smiled sheepishly, "I was heading to my dorm, actually."
"The boys' dormitory is on the opposite side of the school grounds," I told him, my eyes narrowing suspiciously.
He seemed embarrassed and uncomfortable. He rocked back and forth on his heels as he tried to come up with an excuse.
"Well… you see… I umm…"
"What is that?" I asked, pointing to the floating board behind him.
"This?" he gestured. "It's a hover board of course. Haven't you ever seen one?"
"I have. Every form of transportation in this dang world is called 'hover something'," I snapped. "But you aren't allowed to have one till you're seventeen."
He smirked now, "Did you memorize the entire student handbook?"
I frowned, "Well unlike someone, I don't want to be killed at the end of the year."
He waved his hand through the air, shaking his head, "None of us will die. All of our parents survived! They were the only generation to do so."
I was about to open my mouth and protest, and nearly give away my secret, but I stopped myself. He noticed, of course, my hesitation, and quirked an eyebrow.
"It's nothing," I lied. I could tell he did not believe me, but he pretended he did.
Outside, the storm had grown worse. Rain pounded away at the building and wetted my carpet. I quickly rushed forward and closed the window, wincing at all the noise.
I turned to eye my unexpected visitor once more.
"Well, I suppose you could stay here until it clears up a bit." He smiled graciously, and plopped down on the floor to wait.
Awkwardness hung in the air as neither of us could come up with something to say. I noticed how he shivered and rubbed his arms, hugging himself and leaning back against the wall.
"You should get out of those clothes, or you'll catch a cold," I warned.
He stopped fidgeting to consider this.
"I suppose you're right," he said after a moment and shed his jacket.
"I'll fetch you a towel and put that on the vent," I told him, scooping up the garment and heading to the bathroom.
I heard a soft "thanks" as I turned my back. He really was a sweet boy, I concluded, as I rummaged through the linen closet for the promised towel.
I grabbed the cloth out of the pile of sheets and wandered back over to him. I watched him attempt to dry his hair (which was quite long) until irritation drove me mad. I snatched the towel from his hand and knelt down.
I rubbed it on his hair quite hard, and he made a slight sound at the pain.
"Ow! Be gentle woman!" he complained. He reached up to take hold of my wrist, but I smacked his hand away.
"You need to get dry," I scolded," At least you were smart enough to wear a jacket."
"Idiot." I knew he was pouting, but I would not cease.
When I was finished, I settled down beside him. We were both quiet as we let the darkness soothe our minds. Well, I thought it was soothing, but I wasn't sure of his opinion.
Before I could ask, he spoke:
"Did you hear the screams?" His voice was grave, small, and threatened to disappear in the air surrounding us.
"Yes," I whispered.
I instinctively reached out to grab hold of something, and my fingers brushed his. He entangled our hands together, realizing he had picked a touchy topic.
"My cousin was in that lot. She's a year younger than us, but my uncle thought she was useless. He put in a special request to have her executed early." Fury rolled off his form in large waves. I bit my lip, not knowing how to comfort him.
"They didn't even judge! They-this school is so cheap! He offered them money, and with greedy hearts they took it, sacrificing what I'm sure they considered a pawn. "
I was sure asking the question I wanted to so badly, would bring him more grief, but I couldn't resist:
"What was her name?"
He took his time responding, breathing in deeply several times," Hinata Hyuuga."
I nodded, "What is your name?"
"Neji Hyuuga." This he answered almost proudly. "Yours?"
"Tenten Murakami," I answered.
A look of thoughtfulness crossed his face as he studied me closely.
"I like you," he told me finally, " I think we'll be great friends." He tapped the tip of my nose with his pointer finger, smiling.
This was not what I had expected to hear. I thought he's insult me, like I did to myself every time I looked in the mirror. I was so afraid to see my reflection, for the sight only filled me with disgust.
"T-thank you, " I said slowly. "I think you're umm… nice too."
"Do you now?"
I nodded and he laughed. "You're a funny girl."
"And you're a funny boy," retorted. I nearly jumped out of my skin when he hugged me. After a few seconds, however, I relaxed, feeling eerily calm in his arms.
"You're warm," he told me.
I blushed. "T-thanks."
"I was telling the truth. No need to thank me." We stayed in the position for hours. His steady breathing lulled me to sleep. But when I woke up, he was no longer in the room.
I found myself tucked into bed, the blankets held under my chin. The only thing out of place was the open window.
As I sat up, I caught sight of a note on my desk.
Thank you for allowing me to stay in your dorm until the storm passed. I really did find you interesting. Hopefully, we can meet up sometime.
A/N: Thank you for reading and please review!