Little Bits of Kindness

A/N: I've read so many stories about Naruto being beaten; being hated; not being fed. Yet, when you watch the anime/read the manga, Naruto doesn't seem to be so scarred. Not that I liked how the villagers treated him; I only wish to portray them in a more positive light. It doesn't matter whether you disagree on Naruto's treatment or not—I have plenty of respect for writers who portray Naruto as a victim of the village.

Summary: Not all citizens of Konohagakure hated Naruto. Contrary to popular opinion, they did not beat him. He did not suffer from malnutrition. Although he was lonely; terribly lonely, yes, not all people ignored him. With scraps of kindness that Naruto found from other people, he was able to use those as motivation that all people could treat him like that one day, when he was Hokage. There were three bits of kindness that Naruto would remember…and would make him as motivated as he became.

Ichiraku: Naruto's first ramen wasn't with Iruka.

The orphanage director was reluctant to talk to Naruto; he isolated himself from the demon child as much as he could. He'd seen the boy playing with blocks with a few other children in the corner; he'd seen the rambunctious boy pinch the bottom of a girl and make her cry. For a three-year-old demon, the kid seemed to be pretty normal. Still, the director could not forget the flames that had consumed Konoha on that terrible night when the boy was born. So he stayed away from the demon's container.

There came a day that he had to talk to Naruto. After all, he was responsible for the boy's well being. He'd already spoken to all the other children in the orphanage—made sure they had their vaccines and such. Naruto was the last to go.

"Naruto-kun!" Sachi-chan, a young woman who always had a bright smile, called to Naruto one day as they got ready for playtime. "It's time for your meeting with Mr. Satoshi today!"

The boy grumbled as he was lifted off the floor. "But I wanna play Ninja!"

Satoshi, the director, was just as reluctant about this meeting. "Couldn't we delay this?" He pleaded to Sachi. The woman shook her head sternly.

"You've already delayed this long enough," she whispered. "Besides, Naruto is a very regular little boy! He's very funny and mischievous. He'll be fine."

Satoshi swallowed, not reassured. "Come along, Naruto-kun!" He said, trying to not let his voice tremble.

The boy bounded up to him eagerly, forgetting about "Ninja" instantly. "Are we going to a restaurant?" His eyes were huge. None of the orphanage kids had ever been to a restaurant before Satoshi had taken them.

Satoshi nodded. Hopefully this would be a quick meal. "Are you ready?"

"Yep!" Naruto cried exuberantly.

Satoshi led the boy out the door. Usually he'd take the kids to a restaurant while he quizzed them on their life in the orphanage. This would help them so that they'd be calm at the doctor's office, later. Kids always got sleepy after a hot meal.

They walked down the street, Konoha's busy people bustling around and selling their wares. Satoshi nodded to some, and many smiled back. All of them knew the kind director. A few ladies even "aww-ed" at Naruto, gushing about how cute he was. Satoshi didn't think they would do that if they knew who the boy was.

Nervous, Satoshi scanned the street for restaurants. Usually, he'd take the kids about a mile away to the usual restaurant, but he was far too anxious to take the child on that long of a distance today. He spied a banner in the distance. A ramen stand would have to do.

"Hurry, Naruto!" He gently pulled Naruto's arm. The soon-to-be four year old broke into a quick trot, and the two soon arrived at the stand, Satoshi being the worse for the wear. Naruto didn't even seem to feel tired. Probably because of the demon, Satoshi thought, then felt guilty. After all, it wasn't the boy's fault.

"Hello!" Satoshi smiled at the ramen stand owner. A My Name is Teuchi name tag flashed back up at him.

"Good morning!" The owner said cheerfully. "And who's this young lad here?"

"His name is Naruto," Satoshi said nervously.

"Naruto…what a wonderful name!" Teuchi exclaimed. "I'll sit you all down right quick."

As he bustled around with the help of a nine-year-old girl, Teuchi chatted with Satoshi.

"Ah, you see," Teuchi said. "We just recently moved here into Konoha. We used to be in the Land of Waves, but business has started to gone down. We're hoping that Konoha will have better customers." He smiled.

Satoshi hastily reassured him honestly. Konoha, after all, was the most prosperous village.

Teuchi placed a bowl of steaming miso ramen in front of the boy. Satoshi received a larger bowl himself, and dug in with gusto, but not after a quick "Itadakimasu".

Naruto sat staring at the ramen. "What is this?" He said curiously.

"It's ramen," Teuchi explained. "One of the best stuff on Earth. Gets you full and happy!"

The boy nodded solemnly, breaking out in a wide smile. "Okay! Itadakimasu!"

He ate quickly, slurping the soup and dribbling it down his shirt. Satoshi hastily wiped it.

Both of them sat there for a while, each content on their own ramen. After finishing, Satoshi glanced over at the boy, preparing to start asking some questions, and did a double take. Naruto had finished. He'd finished before Satoshi, the ramen-eating expert!

He gaped.

Naruto looked over innocently. "Can I have some more, Satoshi-san?"

The director nodded, dumbfounded.

Teuchi, grinning, handed over another bowl. "This one's got an appetite!"

Naruto downed the next bowl just as quickly, and finally let out a satisfied burp at the end.

As Satoshi paid, he asked the boy quietly, "How was it?"

The boy, his head nearly nodding off on his shoulder, smiled sleepily and said, "Really good. Can we come here again?"

Satoshi smiled ruefully at Naruto. "Well, my wallet will suffer, but I suppose we can come here a couple more times, won't you say, Teuchi-san?"

The stand owner grinned. "My pleasure, Satoshi-san!"

The boy, still smiling, started snoring contentedly.

Oops. Satoshi hadn't meant for Naruto to get so tired. Sighing, he picked up the boy and put him in a piggyback.

"We'll come again for sure," he whispered in the boy's ear affectionately. "I haven't been beaten at a ramen-eating contest since you came along."

"You be sure to bring that lad again," Teuchi said. "I have a feeling that he'll be a fine young man when he grows."

"I know." Satoshi said, as he walked off.

Little did Satoshi know, this would be the start of many, many, ramen trips until Naruto turned five and got his own apartment.

Naruto, for his part, would not remember this much, but would always have a lasting love of ramen and a memory of a father-like man carrying him on his back…

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