- randomKitty: Well, I love cliffies – of course just writing them, not reading xD
Naruto didn't remember how his parents looked or what they were like. Whenever he tried to create an image of them there would be yellow and red colours flashing through his mind, dancing like little lights at night and attempting to merge with each other. But no faces. Nonetheless, he was convinced that his parents had been really nice people – and that they had loved him. Sure, after their death in a fire (he merely remembered the incident since he had been around four years old), he hadn't many memoirs left of them, actually all he had was an old teddy-bear from whose left ear welled cotton and goggles somewhere in the depths of his apartment...Fact was that he knew, even without much memories of them, that they had loved him. It was a feeling, an instinct.
Therefore, it was anything but funny for Naruto when some idiot thought it was needed to call him 'Son of a bitch'. He admitted, it was his fault for running into the (for him) unkown guy, knocking him of and destroying his art-work, which consisted of a three-dimensional small house, garden, door and windows made with each detail. Of course, anyone would be pissed if their hard work had gone in vain. Yet, there was no need to get on the insulting stage! Especially, since Naruto had spent his past ten minutes with apologising and even took it lightly to be shoved once or twice onto the floor without complaining – and his knees hurt like hell!
The gawking crowd, which gathered around them in the middle of the corridor (didn't they have class?) just made him more and more uncomfortable – and then the dumbass hissed "You son of a bitch!" apparently ready to punch Naruto, but the movement wasn't fast enough. Something inside of him snapped, uncontrolled anger dazed his rational thinking and not a heart-beat later Naruto was standing at his feet, launching at the tall guy. He punched the boy right in his face with a force someone as thin as he himself could have never brought up.
Dead silence followed.
Eyes widened in realisation, Naruto stared at the guy who had fallen into the pieces of his 'house' and was covering his nose, then he looked at his own hand. Blood. His knuckles were stained in blood.
"The hell!" the guy cried out first, and as if this was the sign to break the heavy silence, whispers erupted everywhere around him.
Naruto simply blanked it out, he was too concerned with what happened, too shocked about his own reaction. What had he done? Shit! Wasn't he normally used to insults and didn't pay much attention to them? And here he snapped at someone!
"You're acting like that's the first time, brat."
That was the last straw to freak Naruto totally out. Pale from shock and body shaking from either anger or anxiety, he whirled around, ignoring every single soul near him, an ran. Ran as fast and as far as his feet dared to take him from the scenario without even glancing back once.
"Running like a coward – as always."
He gritted his teeth and pressed his hand on his ears, trying to shut the voice, the laughter out. What else should he do than run? Stay there and make a bigger freak of himself? Listen to their stupid insults and angry accusations? He might have done that – take what would have been thrown his way with an apologetic smile. Or he would have lost it again. With someone else. Fuck! Why couldn't he control himself better?
"Because he provoked you?" was the one answer It gave him in a 'isn't-that-obvious-tone?' and Naruto was tempted to smash his head into the wall right now and right then, since he knew perfectly well what was abou to come next. "You know, everyone provokes you somehow, brat, you just don't show them that it effects you. Mostly you don't. Well, in your lovely orphanages it had been worse, your temper I mean." It chuckled at the memory and caused Naruto to remember as well. "The kids were pretty cruel, weren't they? Oh, not only kids, even adults. But no matter how cruel they were, your reactions were more dangerous. A broken nose here, some scars there, a laceration...No wonder they used to give you 'round to other orphanages like a toy that no one wanted."
Naruto's steps slowed down until he came to an halt, unaware of where exactly he was. Clouded blue eyes were fixed on the floor-tiles, his hand moved itself to the wall to his right, seeking support. He felt it, this grasp around his heart getting tighter and tighter...it was hard to fill his burning lungs with air – as if the air didn't want to be inhaled by him.
No, it wasn't quite true. He admitted that sometimes his reactions to the bullying had been violent, but they had been rare. Trice or fourth, maybe. Yet, enough to let the orphanages think he was dangerous, though other kids had been...more cruel? But they weren't him, so it was okay.
"And this fact bothered you," the voice got softer, not its usual cold way of speaking. "All lil Naruto ever wanted was a friend – and he got one."
Green flashed through his mind, a great shade of green dulled by the same loneliness Naruto knew all his life. They understood...they sympathized...they shared...they became friends...
"...'till you couldn't control it and made the greatest mistake one human could. And you ran just like now, took the chance to get away from there, to leave before he could despise you."
He wrapped his hands around himself, his nails digging into the skin. Everyone would have done it. If they had hurt someone dear to their only friend, hurt this someone to such an extent that it was impossible to heal the damage...they would have taken the first opportunity to leave. Like he did when the director send him to another orphanage. Before those green eyes which always looked at him with softness would turn into hatred.
"Why and how did you do it again? Do you know what they call someone like you? Someone who's hands are dirtied with blood? K-"
A throbbing in his head grew unbearable, tears of pain and exasperation welled to his eyes – he wasn't standing in an empty corridor any more, the world around him was a chaos of fused colours; green, red, blond, brown...It was so unreal...like a bubble he was captured in...and the colours forced emotions on him he didn't want to feel...desperation, regret, anger, disgust...Oh, how he hated these moments when there was nothing but memories hunting him, driving him crazy, deeper and deeper into a black hole from which he knew that if he would fall into it, there wouldn't be returning...
Naruto was frozen as soon as the words cut through his own bubble, and flinched startled when someone touched him on the shoulder, a light touch as if the person wasn't sure what to do, yet enough to snap him out of his panic attack.
Instead of calming down, his heart-beat seemed to fasten even more at the sight of the two other students. Hyuga who had touched him, and Uchiha just a few feet behind him, both confused. Crap. With what kind of luck was he born?
"Are you okay?" Hyuga asked and the concern in his voice was...odd.
"Er...y-yeah," Naruto stuttered, avoiding to look at the boys. How embarrassing! They witnessed one of his attacks and who knew for how long! Fuck, why didn't he hear them coming?
"Oh, right, you're totally fine," Uchiha sneered, "That's why you're screaming like someone who's burning to death."
His eyes narrowed angrily, embarrassment forgotten. Burning to death? "Can't you watch what you say, asshole?" the words left his mouth before he could think, in a colder note than wanted. Though, the bastard of the day, no year, only raised an eyebrow, but he wasn't surprised. "Besides, why do you care? As if you would mind if I died by burning."
There. There was again this annoying tension between him and Uchiha – Naruto swore that one could see sparks sizzling between them. He didn't look away when Uchiha's eyes turned darker than before if possible, he wanted to retort something, something not very nice. But paused because of a warning "Sasuke." from his friend who was watching them irritated.
The bastard snorted. "I don't like you, I know it and you know it," he said. "But, believe it or not, I don't wish you serious harm or death. Otherwise, why would I have helped you?"
That, I would like to know, Naruto thought grimly, but didn't say it out aloud. Instead, he walked past the two boys and left. No, he fled. Uchiha's reply echoing in his ears - "I don't wish you serious harm or death."
"And you really ask me why I can't stand that freak?" Sasuke complained when Naruto was out of earshot, he and Neji continued to stroll through the corridors. His mood was ruined, therefore he had no interest in attending his next class.
Neji just shrugged, not bothering to glance at him. "Maybe you said something wrong."
"Sure, it's always me!" Fuck, he was nearly whining! Urgh, one meeting with Uzumaki and everything went in a total wrong direction.
"Of course it is," that traitor of a friend had even the guts to smirk. "You could've just ask him if he was fine or shut your mouth. We both know the words you tell most people when you're stressed are as sweet as a lemon."
"Well, thank you for the info dear, dear friend of mine." Yes, he was becoming sarcastic and was more stressed than before, it was natural that he needed someone to let out his frustration on. One of the many effects Uzumaki had on him. "I can say whatever I want, besides I don't care about his well-being."
"That's why you helped him, hun?" Bastard. "What exactly did you do, anyway? I mean, how did you help him?" Curious bastard.
Sasuke chose to keep silent.
They didn't say anything while walking and in a matter of minutes cold air brushed against his cheeks, feeling in a weird way very good. He wasn't much surprised to find himself on the large schoolyard, abandoned, only filled with a few cars of teachers at the sides. Neji was still with him, nothing new. No matter what big of a annoyance and traitor the other was nowadays, he did know Sasuke quite well and did understand him, after all.
The gates were their goal, though they didn't plan on leaving the school. The day had only started, Sasuke wasn't eager to return into an empty house and he could say that Neji felt the same, though Neji's house wasn't empty. He had a whole family there...and he hadn't. It was hard to explain. In the house of the Hyugas, there were living Neji's uncle's family consisting of his uncle and two cousins who housed in the bigger part of the villa, and then there were others – cousins, elders and so on, who lived in the smaller part. The Hyugas were a large family, but even if they were so many, Neji never felt comfortable around them. They were...different, discriminated even the own family by dividing them into main and branch members. The mains headed the business, the branch were beneath them.
Well, and Neji was the most discriminated. As much as Sasuke knew, Neji's father had left the house because he hated that system, which was an embarrassing experience for the Hyugas. When Hizashi Hyuga died, Neji had to live with his uncle – as Hinata's (his cousin) personal 'servant'.
The only reason why Sasuke had a clue about those thing was that he and Neji had been friends for a long while and when younger, Neji used a lot to spend time with him at his manor. He still did, at times.
He sighed, leaning against one side of the open gate, eyes closed. "Tell me," he started the conversation, "why do you defend that loser?"
There was a long moment of silence, one of those comfortable and relaxing silences, before Neji decided to speak. "I don't know," his brown-haired friend admitted. "It's...well, he's alone. He's lonely. It's the same feeling I have when I'm at my uncle's." So, that was it? He heard it the first time from the other. "Though, I was surprised when you started to pick on him."
Sasuke focused his gaze on the clouded sky – it for sure would start to rain any minute. "Don't you feel it when you're around him?" Why was he starting to defend himself? "This...his aura, it freaks people out. The boy isn't normal."
"Neither are we," Neji sighed, yet Sasuke heard how glad he was to have this talk. "You, me, my family and others. We're not normal, not with those abilities."
"That's different." Whom are you trying to convince?
"That's what you want to believe. You say Uzumaki has this aura around him, I know that, but don't forget what people feel if they see your eyes."
Involuntarily, Sasuke remembered the blank expression on Uzumaki scared face when his eyes had changed colours. He tensed – the comfortable atmosphere vanished. "You creep me out with your good nature nowadays. It's not like you."
Neji chuckled. "Maybe," he whispered. "And you're not like yourself since your brother got arrested," Sasuke flinched hearing the sudden remark. "It's not only because of this 'aura' – you pick on Uzumaki because you need someone to let out your frustration on, don't you?"
Again, Sasuke choose to keep silent and avoided Neji's burning gaze. Even if the other didn't mean anything wrong, it wasn't quite fair of him to mention his brother. Sasuke hated it to think about Itachi, hated to be remembered that Itachi Uchiha was in jail due to the accusation of murder...the murder of his own parents five years ago. Itachi had disappeared after the massacre. Had left him on his own with that creep Kakashi as some kind of guardian.
I didn't even visit him once since the police arrested him, he thought, a bitter taste spreading in his mouth. He wouldn't bother to do so, anyway, not before the hearing, to be exact. That would be the day to either make his doubts, his fear that Itachi might be guilty disappear or strengthen his anger and frustration.
Maybe Neji was right in his assumption – maybe, he was making Uzumaki's life a living hell because the guy was perfect to let his anger and frustration out on. So what? Should he be sorry? Have a bad conscious? But he hadn't. If the moron was too weak to defend himself and liked to either smile about the the whole bullying-shit or yell insults (which he did only to Sasuke!), then he deserved it, simple.
"I'm working after school, have you a shift today, too?" Sasuke just needed another topic to talk about, although he didn't expect any answer, nor did Neji pick his question up. Mute understanding.
"You don't look well, Uzumaki."
Naruto returned his teachers scrutinizing look, shaking his head to signalise that it was okay. Kurenei sighed in that particular manner he had come to know from her when she was frustrated about a pupils behaviour, and still couldn't do anything to change it. He ignored her and concentrated his attention to the board, starting to take notes – without really realising what exactly he was writing.
His mind kept to think about the latest incident. What did they say? Shit happened. And Uchiha of all people had seen him! Now, Naruto was definitely a freak for him, a real freak. Which normal student stands in a corridor and shouts to no one but himself like this? That bastard would most probably tease him with that for the rest of school time...
"Hm?" Naruto averted his gaze from his notebook, staring into ghostly white eyes. He gasped, believing for a moment that it was Neji, but his racing pulse calmed down when he noticed strands of dark hair (something between black and blue) hanging into an obvious female face. Oh well, Hyuga wasn't far away, was it? Though, what was her name again? He didn't remember...something with...H?
"Y-you've b-been dr-drawing on-on th-the t-table."
It took him a while to comprehend what was said – the girl had a serious stuttering problem – then he blinked confused and checked if it was true.
Damn! Naruto couldn't prevent his expression turning bare; just for a few seconds, yet the girl would have noticed it. Though, he didn't care – too busy with the sinking feeling in his chest. Oh crap. Instinctively, he grabbed the eraser laying at the edge of his table and started to rub it on said table, desperately trying to get rid of the 'Uchiha-bastard', 'cold-hearted Uchiha', 'asshole' and 'Uchiha's. How embarrassing was that? Congratulations, Uzumaki, you got yourself into such a situation twice a day within half on hour – you should get an award for this much stupidity.
"A-are you o-okay?"
Naruto frowned irritated. Why was that girl talking to him, again? "Uh, yes?" He turned to the other, taking in her appearance closer. Hinata. That was her name! The shy girl which couldn't say one sentence without her stuttering. Well, wasn't it a relief to know he wasn't the only freak around? "Hinata, right?"
The sound of chalk against board stopped, as did his small-talk, when Kurenai asked the intruder to come in, though the person just opened the door but didn't enter. Instead, the teacher reached whom ever there was – a few words were exchanged, too quiet for anyone to hear but from the way Kurenai knitted her borws it seemed to be serious.
"Uzumaki." Nervous about the alarmed tone and the attention of the class, Naruto only looked up. "The principle wants to speak you."
Principle? Fuck. Meant he was in deep shit. That old hag didn't ever speak to students, unless it was really serious. He didn't know her that well, having seen her one or two times, which added to his sudden fear. As he stood up, Hinata's concerned eyes were all he noticed before leaving.
Naruto winced at the 'brat'-part, yet didn't really mind it. Not that much considering the fact that the lady called every student brat – why ever. Therefore, he mentioned with a simple "Tsunade-sama" for her to continue, which was most likely unnecessary.
"You punched another student?" Tsunada smirked, her chin resting on the back of her right hand. "I'm impressed. You never punched them."
"Them?" He frowned, thinking hard what the blonde woman meant.
"Ah, you know those idiots that have their fun picking on poor little blond brats." To suppress a bite remark, he gritted his teeth tightly. Although, he would have loved to snap that she never interfered in those pickings. "Anyway, I'm just talking to you 'cause the other brat complained about you," Tsunade shrugged as if it was nothing and as it seemed, he wouldn't get any kind of punishment – not from her. "It's not like I'm enjoying this talk." Her features got serious suddenly. "But we really have to do something about you. It can't go on like this for the rest of your school time."
"Oh, and what would that be?" Naruto couldn't hide the suspiciousness in his voice – why the hell was that old lady concerned about him? Why now? He was attending that damn school for quite a while now, the outcasting or bullying wasn't such a secret, at least he thought they weren't and Tsunade just confirmed it.
Tsunade's lips curled into a smile, sincere smile. "You need to associate more with your comrades," she told him. "Get a few friends and that shit." Raising both his brows, Naruto eyed the woman as if she had gone mad, which wasn't that absurd. "Don't look like that," she sighed. "You have to try and I know how. Do you know the 'Bijuu'?" He nodded slowly. Even after being most of the time isolated, he did know some of those cafés and restaurants people use to go to. "The stuff there consists of students from this school who either need money or want some good remarks for job applications later on." Urg, he didn't like where this was going. "And there's someone needed – so, you know where you'll have to spend your school-free time."
As much as Naruto was surprised about the sudden interest in him, he was now a bit angry that Tsunade didn't ask him if he wanted to work there, but ordered him to. "And what if I don't want to?" What he didn't, the sole thought about being in the same building as those creeps from his school without teachers was enough to make him uncomfortable.
"Sorry, but you don't have a say in this, brat." Again, she shrugged, yet she wasn't one bit sorry. Obviously. "This is something like a school's event – besides, you need the social contact and money is a nice bonus."
"Social contact my ass!" Jumping from his seat, he banged his fist on the table. "I can't work with my so called comrades!" They would eat him alive, he was sure of that.
Tsunade kept silent for a long while, examining him critically – and he would have loved to know what was going on in that head. "Well, you'll have to. Start today after school." She dismissed him, though Naruto needed a whole lot of will-strength to not shout again and turn around. "Oh, and Naruto, don't worry. The brats are difficult, but you and them, you are in a way similar. You'll get along if you try to."
"Kohiri High – what a shitty name."
One pale hand brushed through his messy hair – hair in the colour of blood – while the other disappeared in his pocket, touching the paper that was in there gently. Averting his gaze from the water, he turned around, his back resting against the railing of the bridge. How long was he travelling like this, now? Too long, if someone asked him. He had searched, he had gathered informations, adding his intuition to that he was sure that this town, this school would be his last station. What – whom – he was looking for, he would find it here.
Grasping the peace of paper, he took it out to watch it like he did every day since his search had started. Nearly automatically, his thin lips twitched to a smile when a pair of deep blue eyes smiled at him from the photo.
A/N: Hello guys! I know, I know, this took quite a while – sorry for that. I even answered all your reviews just now -.- School's being stressful and exams are coming up, therefore my time's limited. But as an apology, the chapter is longer than usual ;D By the way, I know there aren't much informations about the pasts of the protagonists – like I'm not giving away much of Naruto's past (concerning his 'friend' and life in orphanages) or Tsunade's behaviour might seem weird since she knew about Naruto's problems being bullied but didn't interfere ever (which does have it's reasons) and so on.
Well, I like it to take things a bit slow, but not too slow, so you'll get infos bit for bit ;)
Hope, the chapter was okay. Naruto's got a job and you'll see which people he has to work with – he won't be much pleased ^-^