A/N: This is my first Naruto fanfiction! I hope you all enjoy it! Happy Holidays to all and if you don't celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and/or Kwanzaa then I wish you a happy week and a happy new year! :) Please refrain from flaming. And thank you for reading!
Note: Naruto is around nine/ten years old during this fiction. Not sure which, so you may decide.
Disclaimer: Kishimoto owns Naruto, I do not. Kishimoto is a very lucky man indeed.
An Angel Amongst Shadows: Winter
It was that time of year again. The time when snow blankets rooftops, sweaters and scarfs are worn, hot chocolate steams and fireplaces crackle. Everyone in Konoha is in high spirits and celebrating the seemingly magical time of year. Everyone that is, except for one young lonely boy…
The boy walked quietly through the quiet streets of Konoha. It was long past any decent hour and most of the population was sound asleep. The streetlights were the only thing that kept him company as the lightly falling snow danced softly around him, in the dimmed light. The only sound amongst the silence was the brief crunch of the snow beneath his boots, though his boots were not the loudest part of his attire; the bright fluorescent orange pants spoke volumes.
The boy watched as each of his breaths became visible. He smiled softly to himself. The market place around him, with its many vibrant shops usually seemed so lifeless at night but the Christmas adornments had completely changed the usually dull scene. Despite the darkened shops, the Christmas lights, garlands and endless decorations encased the street with an astonishing amount of life and happiness. It was always a bittersweet time of year.
Naruto Uzumaki had spent many nights walking through Konoha during the darkest of hours. During the day, Konoha, despite it's liveliness, had always felt so foreign and unfriendly to him. The night, with its darkness, quietness and odd familiarity had become a bit of a comfort to Naruto over the years. Christmas was the one time of year that this familiarity felt disrupted. Naruto loved the joy and hope Christmas seemed to drape upon the village but at the same time he loathed the holiday with all his being.
Sure, the villagers were seemingly more civil toward him. They simply ignored his presence during this time of year, instead of mocking him or shouting rude names and phrases his way. Maybe it had to do with all that naughty and nice junk he'd heard so much about as a child. Naruto did not understand how acting civil for a month or so would allow a person to be deemed "nice." But Naruto did not understand a lot of things.
One example for instance was why the villagers seemingly hated him… Every time he spoke some adult reprimanded him. If he walked to close, people shrank back and immediately turned the other way. Whenever he had played with other children, their parents had become furious and had quickly taken them away. He did not understand why the village looked at him with contempt and disgust. As far as he was concerned, he had committed no crime, no ill deeds to deserve this fate but apparently they felt otherwise.
A loud crash from behind him immediately broke Naruto's thoughts as he turned around quickly to see what had happened. Several large trashcans had fallen over and spilled their contents across the snowy street. Naruto sighed as he headed toward them. Just as he was about to start picking up the garbage that had fallen out, he heard a door slam open and rough boots clanking down a set of nearby steps.
"Shit." Naruto mumbled briefly under his breath. He knew that this looked suspicious and that he would immediately be blamed for creating this mess. Naruto looked up to see an angry villager peering down at him. The large man had a flashlight and was wearing a big blue robe with large black boots. His face was full of pure anger and disgust.
"You." The man spat the word out as though it tasted acrid and foul. "I should have known it was you."
Naruto looked at the man defiantly.
"I didn't do it, dattebayo! I was just about to pick up the trash. "
"Bullshit. You little prick." The man hustled down the steps. Naruto felt fear well up in him. He knew what was coming. He knew what would happen. What always happened. He felt his body freeze and he tried to move but to no avail. He willed his body to run. To flee from the inevitable.
"Do you think that you scare me? Do you think that you can get away with something like this? I'm going to teach you a lesson that you will never forget." The man's voice became steadier, louder and angrier as he spoke.
Naruto did not know what to do. He tried to move his legs but he could not. He felt the cold air suddenly heating up around him. He felt like he was suffocating. His instincts were screaming at him, telling him to run. When his body refused to move, he did the only thing he could do: prepare for impact. He immediately shut his eyes and his hands formed into fists. He felt like such a coward.
Naruto heard a loud smack ring out into the dark night. He was dumbfounded when he felt absolutely nothing. If he had not been hit, then what had happened to make that sound? Naruto's brow crumpled in confusion. He slowly opened his eyes and was surprised to see the large man's hand clutched in the fist of another man. The new man slowly crushed the fingers of the large man and Naruto's eyes widened when he heard a crunch and the sound of bones snapping.
"If you ever try to do that again, I will do much, much worse to you." The man's voice sounded venomous, angry and even… regretful?
Naruto stared in shock as the large man quickly retreated, whimpering in pain as he did so. He fumbled up the stairs and slipped on the last step, immediately crashing to the floor. He looked frightened as he scrambled back inside. His door slammed shut and the sound of him frantically locking his door could be heard through the quiet snowy night.
At first Naruto wasn't sure if he should be fearful or grateful; he decided on the latter. Naruto wanted to say so much and ask the man why he saved him but instead all Naruto could manage to say was,
"Wh- Who…are you?" Naruto stuttered slightly. He wasn't sure if his stuttering was from the cold night breeze or if he was simply too startled to speak coherently.
"That is not important at the moment. Are you okay, Naruto?"
Naruto wanted to protest but he was to shocked to bother. How the heck did this man know his name? No one ever addressed him by his given name.
"I… I'm fine now. Uh…how do you know my name?" Naruto tried to get a better look at his savior when he realized that the man was shrouded by the shadows. His features were not definable. Naruto wondered if the man would step into the light or if he would remain hidden in the shadows. Where had this man come from? Naruto hadn't noticed another presence aside from himself and the large evil village man.
"What are you doing out so late at night? Shouldn't you be sleeping or be out with friends celebrating the holidays?" The man asked, once again ignoring Naruto's questions. Naruto sighed. He wondered if he should answer the man honestly. Most people would not open up to strangers but then again, what did he have to lose?
"Why should I answer your questions when you won't answer mine? I don't know you." Naruto felt his frustration building. He nearly face palmed when the man chuckled softly. Was this some kind of joke? Naruto felt as though he was missing something important. Something very important.
"That is true, you don't know me… But in exchange for getting you out of that compromising situation, I feel that answering a few of my questions will not hurt you. Think of it as payment for earlier." The man chuckled yet again and Naruto sighed.
"Fine… But you have to promise me that after I answer your questions, you will, at the very least, tell me your name, ttebayo." Naruto eyed him suspiciously.
"So um… you're seriously not going to take me to the Hokage Tower? " Naruto rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. He was fearful for a moment as to what the man might answer but the man's reply only reassured Naruto that he was not a foe.
"Why would I take you there?" The man sounded concerned.
"You think I trashed the street too, right?"
"Of course not."
"Why not? Everyone else would have blamed it on me. Why don't you?"
"Everyone?" The man's voice had become very quiet and hollow.
"You must not be from around here. To be honest, everyone in this village hates me. I'm always blamed for everything. You asked me earlier why I am out so late… The reason is because it is the only time I feel safe. During the day, I have fewer places to hide and more people to run from. " Naruto sighed. The man beside him stayed quiet.
"You saved the village reject… the monst-" Naruto was immediately interrupted by the man's somewhat angry voice.
"Do not ever call yourself that." The man sounded as though he was trying to suppress his anger and remain calm.
"Why not? Everyone else in this village does." Naruto could see the man beside him trembling slightly. What was with this guy?
" . . . But I don't care what they say. Because one day, I, Naruto Uzumaki, will be the Hokage and no one will look down on me, ever again. And I will become the greatest Hokage that Konoha has ever had." Naruto smiled triumphantly.
Naruto flinched as the man placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder. The man sighed sadly as Naruto opened his eyes. He felt embarrassment pool across his face. Flinching from touch had become instinct to Naruto and he could not help but react negatively to it. He had never had a good experience with it. But somehow, this man was different. He was gentle. Naruto knew in his gut that this man would not hurt him.
"I have faith in you Naruto. I'm sure you will make a great Hokage someday." The man's gentle voice sounded completely sincere. Naruto's eyes widened.
"You really think so?" Naruto tried to hide the surprise in his voice.
"Yes, I have the utmost faith in you."
"Thanks… I'm glad someone does, even though you're not from around here."
Naruto wasn't sure what it was exactly that he was feeling. He had never felt this way before. No one had ever expressed belief in him. This was the first time that he could remember, where someone had spoken to him without contempt, aside from the Sandaime. Naruto glanced at the shadow-like figure beside him and wondered if this was all in his head. Naruto decided that he did not care if it was real or not; it felt wonderful either way. Maybe the large man had knocked him unconscious and he was in a dreamlike state. Naruto nodded quietly to himself…that seemed right. If it was a dream, it was the best dream he had ever had, although his dreams about ramen were definitely up there too.
"Do you want to know the worst part about the village hating me?" Naruto had never said this out loud before. He was not sure why he was now. It was not like this man truly cared. The man silently nodded.
"I… I don't know why they hate me… I don't remember ever doing anything wrong. I guess you could say I'm a troubled kid but I don't understand…" Naruto felt sadness overwhelming him and anger too. Why was he talking about this and to a complete stranger too? He hated appearing weak in front of people… yet he always ended up looking like a coward… like a whimpering defeated dog.
"Naruto, I'm so sorry." The man's voice was shaky as he spoke. Naruto narrowed his eyes in confusion.
"It's not your fault. I can take it because I'm strong." Naruto feigned confidence and tried to smile earnestly. But the man saw through his façade.
"Naruto, you do not always have to be strong. It's okay to cry sometimes. It's okay to be afraid. There is nothing wrong with that."
"I know that…but I don't want to cry anymore. I'm tired of crying."
"Naruto…" The man choked slightly and tried to speak once again. "Sometimes crying is the best way to let out one's emotions."
"Shinobi don't cry, dattebayo." Naruto stated firmly. He crossed his arms and pouted. Who did this guy think he was? Naruto was not stupid. He knew crying was fine but this man did not understand.
"Well, you are not a shinobi yet, so for the time being do not be afraid to let your emotions out. Aside from that Naruto, you can cry when you're extremely happy too, you do not have to be sad or frustrated to cry."
"When…when your happy? Have you…ever cried when you were happy?" Naruto felt puzzled. He had never heard of someone crying from happiness. Why not laugh when you're happy? It seemed odd but then again this guy before him was somewhat odd.
"Yes…" The man's voice was so quiet that Naruto was not sure he had said anything at all.
"Naruto…I'm afraid I have outlasted my stay. I have to be leave you now." The man's voice waivered.
"What, dattebayo? Why do you have to go?" Naruto outreached his hand and immediately dropped it. He felt his face heat up from embarrassment.
He did not want this man to leave yet. He had never a real and emotional conversation with someone before. He did not want this man to leave. Despite the mans oddness, Naruto felt extremely comfortable around him. He was someone Naruto knew he could trust and count on. He was the first person to believe in him and Naruto was not ready for him to leave.
"I am sorry Naruto. I want to stay but I have run out of time." The man sounded regretful and sad. Naruto felt confusion and he wondered what exactly the man meant. The man began to step away from Naruto. He still remained within the shadows but something about the man seemed different to Naruto. He was not sure what it was exactly but the man appeared to be less…solid? Naruto's brow crumpled in confusion again.
"Wait! Before you go…you promised you would tell me your name." Naruto bit his lip. He had not meant to sound so desperate but he could not help it. He felt his desperation, his desire to have someone that cared in his life.
"My name is Minato but Naruto I hope that if you do remember something from tonight it will not only be my name. I hope you keep these few things in mind, always have faith in yourself and remember to never give up. Remember that you are not a monster and that it is okay to cry, especially when you are happy. I know one day you will make a great shinobi and a great Hokage."
"I will Minato, dattebayo!"
Minato reached out and placed his hand on Naruto's head, ruffling his hair softly. Naruto looked up and for the first time and he could actually see Minato's face. Minato had sad blue eyes, bright blonde hair and a somewhat sad smile. Naruto grinned at Minato and laughed. He failed to see the few tears forming in Minato's eyes as Minato released Naruto from his grip.
Minato then began to walk away from Naruto.
Naruto stood and watched for a moment before he sighed and turned to walk back toward his apartment. Tonight had been quite an interesting night. And that Minato guy sure had been an odd one. Naruto turned around once more to thank Minato for everything he had done. Naruto immediately stopped in his tracks. His eyes widened and his mouth gaped open as he watched the retreating figure.
A white jacket flapped softly in the gentle night breeze as the man made his way into the darkness of the night. Down the back of his long white, flame crested jacket, stood the words 'Yondaime Hokage.'
"Wait, dattebayo!" Naruto shouted after the man, who was slowly disappearing into the night. Minato turned his head slightly and smiled sadly at Naruto before turning around once again, seemingly disappearing into the snowy night.
Naruto quickly rubbed his eyes and looked up again. He blinked as the snow blurred his vision. His heart dropped when he saw no sign of the man who had saved him. Naruto ran toward the direction the man had previously gone but his search was in vain. Not a single trace of the man was found. Naruto frowned and wondered if it truly had just been a dream. He smiled to himself and decided that whether it was a dream or not; he truly did have someone watching over him, someone with unyielding faith.
Naruto turned and faced the Hokage monument and cheekily smiled. He did a thumbs up at the face of the Yondaime Hokage. Naruto would do whatever he could to make him proud. After all, if the Yondaime had faith in him, then he had to prove he deserved said faith.
Little did Naruto know that the spirit of the Yondaime Hokage was watching him from the shadows. He smiled brightly as he watched his son's face glow with enthusiasm and with a will he had not seen before.
"One day Naruto, you will be the Hokage of Konoha. And everyone will know your name."
A/N: I am not sure if I am leaving this as a one-shot or if I am planning to add a few more chapters. If I do add any more chapters, I will probably do up to three more…Possibly one for each season. Anyways I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks for reading. -jesokaa