Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me. None of the characters belong to me. Only the plot of this fanfiction.
Warning: Boyxboy. Shounen-ai. Possible smut? The works.
The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.
But the Light is Cold
The first few years after the Uchiha massacre had been grim and lonely for Sasuke. There were few tolerable moments except perhaps for training and sleep, and even the latter would be disturbed more often than not by recurring nightmares filled with paralyzing fear, futile rage, and an overwhelming sadness that tore at the void within that only grew wider and darker with time.
It wasn't until many years later that the young Uchiha left Konoha to pursue his vengeance and lost himself further in the process. Before that however, he had met Team 7, a laughable group with whom he had managed to forge strong bonds as the experiences that they faced brought them closer together. Their bond, though incomparably strong for the brief period in which it had been constructed, had not gathered enough faith to battle the pain from bonds broken before it. So when Uchiha Sasuke severed all ties with Konoha in his quest for power, Team seven along with the rest of the village was tossed to the wind.
Perhaps the only things that were not abandoned were the little snippets of memories that had warmed the coldest nights, but grown Sasuke had long forgotten these childhood incidents. They remained faded in the dark recesses of his subconscious, pushed deeper and deeper as frustration and hate ate him away.
A little black haired boy, lean, but otherwise average in size for his tender age of nine, strode warily through the bustling streets. There were so many people all around him and now that he had noticed, a good many number of new light displays. He weaved silently through the blissful crowds around him, his gloominess unnoticed amidst the cheerful sentiments of everyone else.
In truth, Sasuke really hadn't wanted to head out during the holidays. There was simply too much fuss, and at this time of year the weather was biting cold. The young Uchiha let out a silent sigh and wrapped his navy blue scarf tighter around his collar. He quickened his pace, hoping that the market had not closed too early for the seasonal celebrations.
When Sasuke reached the intersection to a main street, he looked up and saw an unending hoard of people seeming to march down in continuous torrents before him. Sasuke frowned and turned, deciding to take the roundabout route through the village square instead.
When Sasuke reached the village square, he halted in his tracks at the sight before him. There were even more people here than on the streets! The nine year old gave a defeated sigh as he inwardly reprimanded himself for his temporary lapse in memory. The Festival of Lights was always celebrated the most around the village's central expanse. There were stalls set up in tight rows, all decorated in bright, gaudy colours. There were people everywhere and sounds of boisterous chatter filled the air.
The vendors leaned over their tables and made deals with the adults as the children giggled at their new toys. Nii-chans and their girlfriends traipsed around with gigantic stuffed animals. Old timers joked about how the times didn't really seem to have changed all that much.
Sasuke hated the people, hated the noise, and hated the disgustingly sweet happiness that lingered in the air and threatened to suffocate him. The bitter little boy turned on his heels and marched back in the direction from which he'd come. The damn market was probably closed by now anyways.
Sasuke walked and walked down silent roads, getting further and further away from the village square. He forced the escalating anger back and as usual, locked up all of his emotions. He found himself focusing on just his feet, one step right, one step left. Sasuke hadn't pictured a destination, but when he noticed that his feet had crossed over from paved paths onto dusty greenery, he looked up to find himself at the training grounds.
It really hadn't been a surprise considering this was one of his most frequented spots. What Sasuke was more curious about was the single figure up ahead, standing underneath one of the training grounds' ancient trees.
From where Sasuke stood at the edge of the clearing, he only saw the profile of a small blond kid who seemed to be holding a jar and a stick. The kid, who looked to be about his age, was wearing an orange hoodie. He was keenly observing the medium sized jar in his right hand. Sasuke took a step closer and realized that the stick he was holding in the other hand was actually a net, one that was used for bug-catching. A little bit curious, and very cautious as usual, Sasuke leaned forward and demanded of the boy, "What are you doing?"
The little boy flinched at the sound that had interrupted his quiet fascinations and turned deep, startled eyes on Sasuke. By the light of the rising moon, Sasuke saw that the large irises were dappled in shades of brilliant blue. The blond boy suddenly grinned, his eyes curving into delighted slits, and thrust the jar in his hand toward Sasuke.
Sasuke furrowed his brows as he wondered what kind of tiny creature the strange kid was capturing. Suddenly, the jar started twinkling. Sasuke gasped, stunned as he saw the previously boring little critters starting to flutter and glow. The insects hovered and twisted, all flying energetically inside the little jar and flashing their lights.
"Pretty, isn't it?" The blond boy asked, a soft grin on his whisker-scratched face.
"Hn," Confirmed Sasuke, as he held out his hands. The kid inside of him yearned to touch the naturally glowing specimen.
"I'll give it to you," The blond boy smirked, "But only if you tell me your name."
"Sasuke." Came the amazed boy's reply as he made uncharacteristic grabby hands at the jar. "And yours?"
The delighted child grinned and dimples formed below his cheek scars. He held the jar out to Sasuke's inviting hands. "Naruto."
"Oh," Naruto gasped as he flipped through the air and landed in the middle of a clearing. "That's amazing!"
Gazing from a comfortable angle, the blond shinobi had spotted the grand gates of Konoha just a short distance ahead. He was returning from a long mission that had occupied him for the past fortnight and as soon as his team had successfully completed their assignment he had taken the lead in rushing full-speed back to their beloved village.
"Yeah, they managed to set everything up early this year," answered Tenten as she gracefully leapt from the trees to join Naruto. They admired the seasonal lights and decorations adorning the arch of the village entrance.
"The beauty of this magnificent display of youthful luminosity fills my eyes with springtime joy!" The green butterfly-band-aid that was Rock Lee presented himself beside his two teammates.
Naruto turned to his fashionably-challenged friend. "Bushy-brows! I thought granny-Tsunade had asked you to help set up the decor." Naruto raised a golden eyebrow, remembering on the spot.
"Noooo, it had escaped my mind! We did not make it back in time! I have failed to fulfill my youthful promise!" Lee's face, within seconds, transformed into a gushing waterfall. "Now I must complete backflips back to the village without hands and apologize with all the remaining vestiges of my springtime sorrows!"
As Lee demonstrated his gymnastic prowess and disappeared in a verdant blur, Tenten sighed. "It's actually winter..."
"Aaaw, come on Tenten," Urged Naruto as he made to chase after Lee. "Let's just head back and see if the partying has started up!"
"Fine," Tenten agreed as she ran alongside her temporary teammate, "The Festival of Lights should be fun."
Once the three teammates had reported to the hokage on their epic confrontation with the corrupt leaders of a small town off Fire Country's edge, Tsunade had congratulated them on a mission well done and granted each a brief vacation to revel in the annual celebration.
Naruto instantly headed outside to explore the seasonally decorated streets. He joined Kiba and Hinata when he bumped into the two at a side road lined with one-story townhouses. The two members of team 8 had completed their own mission within Konoha earlier in the day and were now heading towards the village center where all the best festival stalls were set up every year.
"Kiba my man, where the heck is bugboy?" Naruto asked as they passed by deserted streets with shops that had closed early in anticipation of the evening entertainment.
"H-he's with Neji-niisan," answered Hinata, who was, as usual, blushing and avoiding Naruto's eyes.
"Oh, what for? A snob convention?" Naruto, who was oblivious as always to Hinata's crush, kidded as Kiba snickered beside him.
Giggling lightly, Hinata replied, "Hokage-sama c-called them in earlier today for a f-follow up of their last mission."
"Oh yeah, that 'special' one with Shikamaru and Kurenai-sensei." Kiba added, a miffed look on his face. "Apparently it was top-secret."
"What? Why wasn't I asked to help?" Naruto exclaimed loudly, earning him a few annoyed looks from other passersby around them.
Kiba rolled his eyes and cheekily responded, "'Cause you ain't a jounin yet, fox-face."
Naruto punched his buddy and they stumbled towards the crowded vendor tents ahead. The conversation had held little meaning to either chunin and soon the cheerful events and bright lights were the only things on their minds.
Sakura waved goodbye to a lady at the jewelers stall and spotted Hinata and the boys close by. Catching up to her friends, she only caught the end of their conversation. The medic nin turned her intelligent green eyes onto Hinata questioningly and with a small shake of her head, Hinata silently assuaged Sakura's current worries.
"Has there been any word of what he wants?" Hinata whispered to Sakura, light irises guarded.
"No, I was with Tsunade-sama earlier today and Kurenai informed her that he didn't want to talk. Shino tried to surround him with the insects, but he managed to escape and disarm Neji too," Sakura replied calmly even though her clenched jaw gave away her underlying frustration.
"I-is niisan alright?" Hinata demanded.
"Yes, he dodged in time," nodded Sakura, "but I gave him some balm to sooth the minor burns."
"At least he isn't in offensives...yet," Hinata stated.
Sakura grimaced. "Right, but he's not afraid to killing anyone who stands in his way either."
"But, what could he possibly want here?" Hinata mused mournfully.
"If only we knew," sighed Sakura, "We'll have to keep rotating extra guards in the meantime. And Hinata?"
"Naruto know's nothing right?" Sakura asked.
"We were under Hokage-sama's orders to not let worry spread just yet," said Hinata. "Naruto; she especially requested not to have him involved."
Sakura nodded, "Yes, but the threat has been spotted much more frequently the last few days. He seems to be circling the village. We'll probably all be on duty soon."
Hinata looked away from her friend and comrad's serious eyes and instead turned to watch Naruto fiddle with a chakra-infused lightstick up ahead. The Hyuuga heiress smiled softly as her object of affection entranced a group of academy kids with tricks that only the blond's brand of chakra could perform. The children looked transfixed upon the amazing golden flame that Naruto had managed to tame with the glowstick.
Naruto too, looked at ease. His cheerfully bright disposition lit up the night brighter than any of the colourful lights strung along the streets. Without turning back to look at Sakura, Hinata wistfully replied, "At least we should let Naruto-kun enjoy tonight. I don't want him to worry just yet."
"You're right," Sakura whispered, emerald eyes trained on the blond that seemed to bring joy and laughter wherever he went. "We can't let Sasuke put out the light."
This story will probably be about five chapters in length. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you will put up with my inherent laziness and general life dilemnas that delay future updates. I am determined to finish my first chaptered Naruto fanfic though!