It's the last chapter so I thought I'd give it to you guys a day early – I think there's like three of you reading lol but the three of you seem to like it :] so I hope you enjoy!
Chapter Eleven: Thirty Days, Life
School started and Naruto and his classmates were seniors; but Naruto was taking very few of the same classes as the rest of them – he had a lot to make up from his second failed semester last year.
But he really didn't care – he didn't see himself finishing this year; he didn't see himself finishing this semester. He didn't really feel alive after his encounter with Kyuubi. He didn't feel dead and he definitely didn't feel like dying; it just felt as if everything around him was surreal and like time wasn't moving forward at all. He didn't feel alive because all he could focus on was his anxiety, this uneasy anticipation as he waited for whatever was next. He worried about his mother and if she was ok, he worried for Sasuke and feared the day someone delivered grave news about him, and he worried for everyone else inhabiting the Uchiha household just for being affiliated with him.
He worried for everyone around him but he couldn't do anything. For the first time in his life, he had no idea what to do; nothing came to him – he was so absorbed by this horrible, life-consuming fear of the next thing to expect. Kyuubi stabbed him; and it was the worst thing he'd ever done to Naruto. He really thought he would die for a good amount of time before his arrival at the hospital.
He had nightmares about it just about any time he fell asleep. Usually he just woke up with a startled jolt and he was quiet enough not to disturb Sasuke who'd been sleeping next to him every night since his return from the hospital.
But some nights, he woke up soaked in sweat, and out of breath, and his scars would ache painfully and his eyes would glance to his right to see Sasuke watching him with very little expression on his placid features.
But Naruto could see the worry within his eyes and he was silently telling Naruto, I'm here and I can listen too, you know.
Some nights he might admit he was having a nightmare about the hospital and nothing more. But most nights, he just told Sasuke to fuck off and rolled over to avoid his inquiring gaze.
Sasuke always let it drop. He was being more understanding than Naruto could ever recall and just knowing that he wasn't taking all his pent up frustration to heart helped ease a small part of the anxiety wrapped around his tired mind; it was Sasuke's way of helping him – only he knew how to. Most people just didn't understand how he functioned.
Not like Sasuke.
The rest of the family wasn't taking his distance as easily.
Naruto wanted to remove himself from them – he wanted to spare them from the risk they took when housing him; but there was nothing he could think of that would work and he wasn't used to how helpless it felt to have nothing within his control. So he became emotionally distant and it was obvious right away.
It developed over the small shift in his speech patterns and how he became much more talkative about nothing that mattered and everything that didn't and he knew a lot of people could tell; he was positive – but he really just didn't care: because no one had any jurisdiction to do a god damn thing about it.
He stood before his locker, staring dejectedly toward nothing in particular as the same line of questions attacked his mind. What are you going to do? Why haven't you thought of anything yet? Why are you wasting so much time?
"Naruto," Neji called in a hushed tone as he motioned for him to come over, a folder in his hand that looked suspiciously like a case-file. Naruto didn't hesitate because of the one thing on his mind and nothing else mattered, "I have the thing you asked for."
Neji finally managed to run that license plate.
Naruto took it easily and his eyes roamed the information in the folder resting in his hands.
Neji watched his eyebrows furrow and his lips part in disbelief. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong.
Naruto knew he hit his milestone – he knew the thing in his hands counted as a set of dice; and he knew it was his turn and he was going to play. Because suddenly, he was filled with so much vengeance, that he cared very little of anything else.
But Naruto didn't respond right away because he turned toward his locker to shove his backpack and the folder inside.
"Thanks Neji!" he yelled in a distracted tone as he turned to take off down the hallway toward the back alley of the furthest building from the front office.
Neji didn't follow and Naruto was glad for that and the fact that he miraculously got over the back fence without running into anyone he knew or ending up with any adult witnesses at all. Not that he'd of stopped even if an adult had seen him. He just didn't give a fuck enough to.
It wasn't right – it couldn't be right even though he should have expected it; but the thing on that paper Neji gave him was downright infuriating and a little mindboggling because how did he not know?
He took the first bus he could catch straight to the inner city, and he jumped off at the closest stop still being made to an abandoned strip of empty warehouses.
He came here once with Kyuubi – not because he'd been invited, which made it more valuable information – but because he and Haku just happened to be in the car and they needed to stop by 'the warehouse' immediately. They didn't have time to drop them off.
The most blaring thing in his mind kept reverberating in his subconscious and he knew the exchange then had been suspicious.
"Bring it to the warehouse – why the fuck did you bring it here?"
Naruto entered the room just as he spoke and Kyuubi glared with narrowed eyes at him for it – as if it wasn't his home to wander around when he pleased – and Naruto's expression was intent upon hearing Kyuubi's tone.
Kyuubi handed back a set of car keys roughly to the man before him who took off without hesitation and with a good amount of unease in his features.
Naruto remembered now and now he understood immediately why Kyuubi had been so uneasy then.
It was a car – Naruto was positive; and Kyuubi was afraid he'd be able to recognize it.
He weaved between two familiar buildings and headed toward the one he remembered Kyuubi approaching and he wasn't surprised to find a padlock on it.
But his adrenalin and the eighteen pound rock he found on the ground near the east side of the building didn't make it too hard to completely destroy.
The wheels on the track screeched as he carelessly threw open the wide, warehouse door and all he could see was X-J-3-7-R-2-5; the same combination on the same car that housed the hit man who shot Haku.
In the poor lighting, he could only barely make out the shape of the car, but he wasn't concerned with that. His eyes were glued to that blaring white license plate and the seven very distinguishable characters engraved upon it.
Kyuubi killed Haku! For no reason!
Or maybe there was a reason – he wasn't sure which idea scared him more; if Kyuubi had a point to make, Naruto had missed it. But maybe that was his plan. If Kyuubi had an ulterior motive, Naruto didn't know about it and hadn't even suspected it. What else was he oblivious to? It felt unfavorable to be in this position and the feeling was only growing.
He was on guard instantly because for all he knew, Kyuubi was watching him figure this all out. It wouldn't be the first time Kyuubi slipped around the city in his shadow and completely out of sight; he wouldn't deny at all that Kyuubi was intelligent enough to do it. At some point in Kyuubi's young life, someone was probably mentioning what a shame it was that such a smart boy was heading down such a bad path.
Any second he could emerge from any shadow surrounding him and he did the first thing that his instincts told him to.
He slipped into the shadows against the wall closest to him and watched his surroundings closely as his eyes adjusted to the poor lighting inside the small warehouse – there were no windows, just the area of light where the warehouse door was halfway open. It made the shadows darker and the light seem brighter.
The car took up most of the room but his eyes slowly allowed him to stare at something other than the license plate and he realized what exactly this warehouse was used for.
Millions of dollars were stashed here – in wads of cash and kilos of cocaine. Kyuubi was expanding his horizons.
And he had to get the fuck out of here.
Just as the thought passed through his mind, the screech of tires from down the street reached his ears and he knew no one drove past here without a reason – of course there would be an alarm on a place so important – so he hurried to the exit and slipped past the warehouse facing the one he was in, squinting against the light as he ran down the side of the building and disappearing into the maze of alleyways and abandoned structures.
The car screeched toward the warehouse from the north of where he was and he ran west to dodge being spotted as he looped around to stay directly behind them. Always run the opposite direction. The exact opposite direction.
Somewhere around three bus stops past his usual, he reminded himself that he was fine – there was no way he'd be followed and he slowed to a walk as he prepared to exit the alley he'd been sneaking through to the main street.
There was the stop for the 82, the bus he needed to take to head back toward Sasuke's neighborhood – toward the school he just ditched.
But he didn't wait at it; he didn't even glance toward it – he was way too furious and it was hitting him now that the danger had passed that Kyuubi fucking killed Haku!
It didn't take him long to get back to his neighborhood and he was pushing through his apartment door, meeting Kyuubi's gaze within what felt like moments.
"I want to get emancipated."
Kyuubi stared at him oddly, eyebrows furrowed at the request.
"I want to get emancipated!"
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"You're a dual offender who got out of prison on parole in under three months on a double-felony," Naruto criticized in an incriminating tone, "You have a lawyer. And not some shitty public defender–!"
"I had terrific behavior," Kyuubi compromised easily, his posture facetious as he shrugged, palms facing the ceiling lazily.
"I need your lawyer."
"Give me one good reason why you would need to be emancipated and then tell me why you thought it mattered to me."
"Because I want to drop out of school and I need to make money and you know I could make a lot – for both of us."
Naruto's tone was unwavering and he was one-hundred percent confident.
"You need my lawyer and you need to make money," Kyuubi clarified skeptically, "and you want to make money by selling drugs. And you want to drop out of school."
Kyuubi smirked and then smiled before laughing and Naruto looked completely unimpressed and disinterested; he knew Kyuubi would react this way because Kyuubi had anticipated this day for as long as Naruto could remember – the day Naruto admitted Kyuubi owned him, that he would sell drugs for the rest of his life if Kyuubi told him to. There was no escape.
"Need money to support a habit, Naruto?" Kyuubi mocked through his laughter.
"So just how much do you need to make?" the man continued, his words slightly curved by the smile on his lips.
"Enough to support me and my mom – and she doesn't work anymore," it was a demand; not a request, "You can use the apartment, whatever, I don't give two shits who you bring over here – but none of you touches her: ever again."
Kyuubi smiled and laughed a little, eyes downcast as he realized what Naruto was asking for – what he was willing to do by the force of his tone. That was a lot of money he was talking about.
"Uzumaki Naruto are you selling your soul to the devil?"
Naruto's gaze shifted toward the man as his downcast stare rose to meet Naruto's frustrated eyes.
"I don't really give a shit what you think–!"
"Ok, ok," Kyuubi began through an amused and highly anticipated grin as he stopped Naruto before he could plow on, "I hear you loud and clear," he continued slowly, "But you should already know that these things don't work no strings attached; I can't just let anyone run around with a good amount of my money. I need smart people and I need reliable people because smart people don't get caught and reliable people don't snitch."
"Well I've already been caught so I guess that's that," Naruto bit back with an irritated glare toward no particular corner of the room.
"Doesn't count – you were, what, twelve?"
"Fourteen you fuck–!"
"Fourteen," Kyuubi interrupted with a correction to his tone as he cut through Naruto's voice like butter, "Everyone's stupid at fourteen. But you also didn't snitch at fourteen which is pretty impressive."
But Naruto didn't meet his gaze because he knew Kyuubi thought he was a faithless little shit; there was no way he could actually trust Naruto. Not after–
"And then, you go around orchestrating the kind of shit that gave me a double felony and put me in fucking prison – how long did it take to save up that much coke anyway?"
Naruto didn't respond, eyes shifting toward where the wall met the floor.
"So how far are you willing to go to prove you won't do it again?"
Blue eyes finally lifted to meet Kyuubi's and he understood exactly what his tone meant.
"You have one month–" the man began as he pulled a gun out from a hidden place behind his back near his hip.
Kyuubi went to hand him the metal weapon but Naruto avoided it adamantly and Kyuubi shot him an expectant look.
"I don't want my evidence all over your murder weapon. Who the fuck knows how many rounds you've sunk into a person with that–"
"That's a fantastic idea," the man interrupted as he pulled back encouragingly, "Buy your own fucking gun. Or kill him another way! I really don't give a fuck. Thirty days – get rid of Suigetsu, or I'll put a bullet in both your heads."
That was about when the impact of Kyuubi's words hit him and he backpedaled away from his rising temper while his mind reeled, jaw halfway slack as he stood there motionlessly; the threat didn't bother him – Kyuubi threatened to kill him in almost every conversation they had. But kill Suigetsu? Was he serious? He couldn't be serious.
"You know, I heard you were pretty fond of that foster family of yours."
Naruto tightened his jaw and he felt a surge of nausea because Kyuubi had never treaded there before and it left him overwhelmingly uneasy. Kyuubi made empty threats – but he made a lot of liable threats too.
"Leave them out of it."
"Then shut up and do what I ask and we won't have any problems," the man finalized in an airy tone.
Things were getting a lot more complicated than they'd been in the past.
"Thirty days starts when I'm emancipated."
Kyuubi lifted his chin slightly and smirked but didn't respond otherwise and Naruto knew that by his lack of argument that he had agreed to his terms.
"My lawyer will contact you. The second you're emancipated, you come back here. Or I'll just have him revoke it the second you drop out. And then you'll be stuck in a group home with zero freedom and with even less of a future than you have now."
Naruto left it there without any further conditions to demand as he turned for the door and left without looking back.
He'd better think of something because right now he had no idea what to do.
He couldn't have taken back his sincerity no matter what – one, because it just didn't work that way; Kyuubi wouldn't let him say no. He warned him so beforehand. Plus, if Naruto himself wasn't pursuing the order of 'get rid of Suigetsu', then someone else would be. This was his only opportunity to spare Suigetsu's life.
He had to figure something out. It started with Haku and he was going to end it before it got to Suigetsu.
He had to.
It didn't take long to receive his emancipation; less time than he'd anticipated in fact – Kyuubi's lawyer mentioned something about being in foster care and not needing three weeks' notice on seeking emancipation because of it. So his sloppy custody actually helped his case for once.
Plus, Naruto was the type of person who could make anyone believe in his cause; three minutes at the podium had the judge leaning heavily in his favor – his lawyer looked pleased with his testimony. Naruto's success was his success.
It was once he got the emancipation that he wasn't sure what to do.
How was he supposed to tell the Uchihas that he was divorcing himself from the family?
He couldn't. He downright couldn't and he wasn't going to, especially with his detached and distant attitude toward everyone around him lately. He left a short apology and a very censored explanation with a copy of all the papers they needed on his pillow and slipped out his window, into the backyard and out to the street through the side-yard.
It was still dark outside – it was just as Fugaku was getting up for work and Mikoto was beginning breakfast; the sun would rise soon but not until he was to the main road where he was meeting Gaara.
Headlights coming up behind caught his attention and he moved away from the sidewalk a few steps as the car pulled over next to him; it was one of two people.
But he moved back toward the car when he saw the person at the wheel and he smiled in greeting as he reached for the passenger's seat.
"Thanks for coming, Gaara. I owe you, seriously," Naruto hailed as he got in and shut the passenger's side door before pulling on his seatbelt.
"You owe me nothing," the red head assured, somewhat sternly, as he took off from the gutter with a quick glance over his shoulder to check for traffic.
"No wait, go right at the light," Naruto corrected before Gaara could switch lanes, "I need to stop by my school."
Gaara couldn't help but notice that he wasn't in uniform – which meant he didn't intend to stay for long.
They pulled into the parking lot closest to the front office and Naruto promised he'd be back soon before exiting the car and heading for the only building that would be unlocked this early.
When he entered, the secretary looked up from her front desk with furrowed eyebrows as he approached.
"Naruto-kun, what are you doing here this early?"
"Can I talk to Tsunade-sama?"
The secretary looked a little unsure but she shrugged halfway and pointed toward the hall that led to the wall of office doors.
He knocked but didn't wait before entering and opened the door in time to see the woman pull her face off the desk before her and she shot Naruto a condemning glare that dared him to say something.
"I had a late night," she explained as she motioned for him to come in. He entered and shut the door behind him, "What time is it? I feel like I just put my head down," she mumbled as she glanced around for her clock. Her eyes found it and her gaze grew unimpressed because she literally had just put it down, "What are you doing here so early?"
"I'm dropping out."
Tsunade stared at him for a long moment, lips parted in shock and eyebrows furrowed as she processed the words for a moment.
"No you're not–!"
"I'm not asking," he finalized in a steady tone, "I'm telling you – so that the Uchiha's don't have to pay any more for my tuition than they already wasted on it."
His eyes were downcast and he avoided conveying any emotion at all.
"I'm not letting you," Tsunade shot back as she crossed her arms over her chest in a challenging sort of way.
She didn't like the way he smiled toward the floor in reply.
"It doesn't matter what you say, I emancipated myself so you can't do a fucking thing about it."
Her eyebrows furrowed – she didn't know that; that changed things.
His eyes finally lifted to meet hers and she wished they hadn't – he wasn't the same child she met just before his sixteenth birthday. His features were mostly impassive but Tsunade saw a vengeance suppressed beneath his placid façade and she wondered who he was after because there must be someone nurturing his vendetta.
He froze with his hand on the doorknob of her office but didn't give her any further recognition that he was listening.
"Whatever you're planning – just…really think it over. Make sure you're doing the right thing."
He opened the door and exited with a very small edge of frustration in the way he closed the door behind him but didn't respond otherwise and Tsunade felt a wave of unease plow over her.
Naruto stood before his apartment door for the first time since he confronted Kyuubi about being emancipated; it was an understatement to say he was uneasy – he wasn't entirely positive that he was making the right choice, but he was more sure about this one than any other option he laid out for himself.
He spent most of the day with Gaara before approaching this moment because he still hadn't seen his mother since the night after open house at the school; he was so nervous.
But the thought of his mother fueled his veins with a profound determination – she dealt with far worse than him; and she had no foster family to escape to.
He had to take care of this. And he was going to.
So with resolve in every aspect of his features, he unlocked and opened the door, and stood straight before Kyuubi with no fear, for his mother's sake and for himself; because this was for both of them.
"I dropped out."
"Perfect," Kyuubi claimed with a charming type of smile, "I think I recall saying you eventually would."
Naruto's lips parted as he realized that yeah, he had; that night he almost killed him – it was difficult to remember anything until after a few days in the hospital. But hearing it again now brought the memory up as clear as day and he grit his teeth from the terms he'd forgotten he agreed to. If he remembered correctly, somewhere within Kyuubi's narrative that night, he'd asserted 'I own you' at least once, and Naruto dropping out of school to come here and face Kyuubi was absolute proof that it was true. He'd managed to get Naruto to drop out and he hardly had to do a thing except sit back and watch.
So what if Kyuubi tricked him – again; he couldn't take it back so there were no regrets: just a lingering urge to smite Kyuubi.
"Ok, Naruto. I'll bring you up a step, you can deal coke."
"Just like that," Naruto clarified in an unconvinced tone, "Just like that you trust me."
Naruto had every right to be skeptical. It was absolutely insane.
"Oh believe me I don't trust you. But I do want you dealing for me – enough to overlook it."
"Thirty days starts then."
"And one more thing," he continued with a coy smile that had blonde eyebrows furrowed in unease by the tone of his voice. He glanced down as Kyuubi handed him a half smoked blunt – it looked like weed and smelt like it; but Naruto knew there was probably more to it.
Still, he couldn't say no, especially since he was trying to prove his loyalty.
When he hit it, he didn't hold the smoke for long before passing it back with a betrayed glare because he was right, it was weed, but something else too, something horribly bitter that left a toxic residue coating the inside of his mouth and he wished he could linger just a moment longer within the second before everything around him was twisted into some sort of indistinguishable blur of sound and distortion and he rubbed his eyes in a last ditch attempt to make it go away, but, even eyes closed, he didn't feel better or forget the delusion marring his cognition.
He couldn't just sleep it off like most of the drugs he used.
"Fuck you," he breathed toward Kyuubi who smiled at his apparent distaste for the drug. He felt horribly inebriated and his knees hit the ground before he even knew he was falling.
Kyuubi caught him before his upper body hit the ground and dragged him over to the couch; he felt so heavy – he couldn't really move on his own. He couldn't feel much of anything. Kyuubi's hand was wrapped tightly around his arm, but he couldn't feel it, or the couch behind him, and everything around the room was distorted and un-proportional. The doors and windows shrunk to the size of his thumb and the walls seemed to tower up toward the ceiling, so far away that distinguishing it from the walls seemed impossible.
He was trapped. Trapped and paranoid, and he wished he could move.
Sounds were rarely distinguishable from each other anymore and all he could really hear were the irrational and incomplete delusions plaguing his cognition. He felt like he watched a lot of what did and a lot of what didn't happen from outside his body or right next to it or slightly inside of it but mostly out. He remembered getting a tattoo; Kyuubi called it part of his initiation and he glanced around to see a few of them flash the same tattoo imprinted on each of their lower abdomens – the same swirly tattoo now jotted in permanently to his skin by the only person who wasn't smoking tonight; the person who owned a tattoo shop – and that was Kimimaro.
Although, he couldn't tell if he was remembering it, thinking about something that was just about to happen, or if it was happening now; it was strange and he felt disoriented.
Still, he knew he didn't want a tattoo, even when he was this fucked up, so he struggled, but it was sort of pathetic, considering it only took Kyuubi to hold him down – but to be fair, he was out of his fucking mind on something, he wasn't even sure what yet.
He had no idea how much time elapsed before he woke up in his bedroom, in a slightly clearer state of mind – his cognition still felt a little foggy.
At least he was in his bed; part of him had expected to end up in a gutter somewhere – so the fact that he was ok, other than the unexpected tattoo, was a little surprising to say the least, and he wasn't sure how to feel about it.
It was bandaged, and when he lifted the corner to gaze underneath, he noticed a shiny gel coating the skin beneath and he patted it back down gently with furrowed eyebrows. Why'd they bother dressing it? They'd never done anything like this before and they'd done far worse than give him a tattoo in the past.
Actually, now that he had it and looked at it in a clearer state of mind, he didn't mind the tattoo much. It would probably be useful to prove his affiliation at some point – which could also condemn him should he meet an enemy.
His bedroom door opened just as he was pulling his shirt down and he shot Kyuubi a mean glare as he entered the room.
"You could have just told me I had to get a tattoo – you didn't have to drug me; I probably would have done it," he criticized as he sat up slowly. It was very tender – especially where his scars from the hospital and the tattoo overlapped.
"Well did it hurt?"
Naruto froze for a moment, gaze shifting away and eyebrows furrowing slightly as he thought about it. Actually, he couldn't remember feeling anything – just the anxiety of the horrible delusion warping his mind.
He shook his head and didn't lift his gaze.
Naruto refused to believe Kyuubi did that for him and he shifted his gaze further away as he downright ignored the red haired man.
"Your mother's making breakfast."
Blue eyes darted up to meet Kyuubi's with a vindictive malice and he hoped his message set in because he wasn't happy.
"That's a pretty mean face to give to a person like me for the situation you're in," Kyuubi reminded while Naruto dropped his gaze with gritted teeth, "Now get up and go see her. She's been bitching about you since you went missing."
Naruto was up and darting past Kyuubi before he finish speaking and he rounded the kitchen entryway to see his mother standing at the stove; Kyuubi wasn't lying. And he felt a little breathless with how ok she looked.
But he probably looked ok too from the outside where his scars were covered up and he wondered if she really was as ok as she appeared; she seemed to be as clean as the day he disappeared.
It was only seconds before she pulled him into a hug and she held him tightly.
"Naruto where have you been? You've been gone for weeks!"
Naruto glanced over toward Kyuubi as he walked past the entry way on his way to the couch. She must not have known he went into foster care.
Kushina pulled him toward the sliding glass door to their small balcony and Naruto wondered why she needed to get out of earshot of him – he didn't want to think about it because it probably meant Kyuubi was manipulating her just as bad as he was manipulating Naruto himself.
"Did he hurt you?" Naruto asked, before she could say the words lingering on the back of her tongue.
"No, actually, he's been…different lately. Naruto where have you been?" she inquired, the concern clear in her tone.
"I'm sorry," he apologized softly, eyebrows furrowed at the amount of anguish he must have put his mother through, "I was in foster care, I'm sorry. I – I messed up and I didn't want you to have to deal with it. I'm so sorry."
"I'm your mom, Naruto. It's my job to deal with it, ok? You can come to me when you're in trouble. I was so worried and Kyuubi wouldn't let me come find you. He–"
But she stopped and Naruto shot her an inquiring look.
"What?" he asked, urging her to continue, "What mom? What'd he do?"
"Nothing. It's nothing for you to worry about."
"I'm ending the discussion," she stated firmly, earning a silence of acknowledgement in her wake, "I'm glad your home baby. Breakfast is almost ready."
Naruto watched her reopen the sliding glass door before exiting the patio and returning to the kitchen before letting his gaze drop in guilt and shame; he'd rather his mother be angry with him for getting half the truth over upset and sorry if she knew everything he went through while he was missing – Kyuubi threatened him not to talk about it and a good part of him just plain didn't want to even without the threat, so he kept it to himself.
It just sucked that it was at the expense of his reputation in the eyes of his mother.
He reentered the kitchen and shut the sliding door behind him before pulling up a stool to sit at the island where he was sitting directly in front of his mother who stood at the stove with several burners cooking the breakfast she was previously referring to.
She turned and opened a cabinet to grab a spice and Naruto saw the abundance of food and Kushina turned in time to see his furrowed eyebrows and puzzled features; what the hell was Kyuubi doing?
"It's been like this for a while," she mentioned softly while reaching up to grab a plate to set down in front of him and utensils from the drawer to her left to accompany it.
Naruto didn't respond. He just gazed toward the entryway to the living room where Kyuubi was lying on the couch, watching whatever garbage was on the television before him.
He must have been holding up his end of the bargain and Naruto wasn't sure whether to feel surprised or not.
"You'd better eat everything you can, you've lost weight, and you're going to get scrawny if you don't watch it," the woman warned as she piled food onto his plate in generous amounts.
Naruto wasn't complaining, not even when his claim that he was too full to eat any more fell on deaf ears while his mother continued to pile on more food; and it wasn't long before he cleaned another full plate.
"I'm leaving," Kyuubi announced from the entryway before gazing directly at Naruto who stared right back, "I'll be back for you later tonight."
Kushina's gaze shot up to stare at Naruto when the statement triggered a thought and she stared at him inquiringly while he avoided her eyes.
"Why aren't you in school?" the woman realized aloud when she heard the door shut behind Kyuubi as he left and Naruto froze, features sobering somewhat fearfully as he finally lifted his gaze to meet hers.
"I – I, uh…"
Wow, it was a lot harder to admit than he'd expected and he looked away when the angry heat in his mother's eyes grew too painful to look at.
"You what, Naruto?"
"I dropped out."
She slammed the utensil in her hand down on the kitchen counter and Naruto tensed in fear of the scolding coming his way.
"If you have a tattoo on your stomach I swear to god Naruto–!"
"Mom just back off ok?" he defended as he jumped off the barstool to back away from her as she approached him quickly.
But she caught him as soon as he hit the wall he was backpedaling toward and she grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it up far enough to see the bottom of the bandage covering his abdomen.
She knew what it meant.
"Damn it Naruto!"
"Mom, just hear me out."
"What were you thinking? You could have done anything with an education from that school!"
"You're not working anymore, right?"
There was a lull of silence and Kushina stared at her son with furrowed eyebrows as the message behind his words registered more profoundly with her.
"Naruto it wasn't that bad, not bad enough for you to throw your life away–!"
"Mom what you had to do is worse than anything Kyuubi can do to me! You took care of me for seventeen years and now I'm grown up enough to take care of myself so let me do this; because I can – and things are better, right? I can do this, mom, just let me."
"You're going to get yourself killed."
"I know what I'm doing."
"He lets you think that at first," Kushina assured with a steadfast nature to her tone that downright admitted she knew from very personal experience, "But he really doesn't trust you at all. I really wish you didn't do this Naruto."
"I already did it. You know I can't take it back no matter what."
Tears poured down the red haired woman's face as she shook her head slightly, eyes drifting away elsewhere in her disappointment.
"I'm so sorry; I never wanted this for you," she cried in a voice torn with so much regret, it was difficult for Naruto to listen without his chest aching in guilt, "Maybe we should have tried being homeless before I turned to Kyuubi; people manage, right? We could have too."
"As if we had a chance either way mom; eventually we'd face problems there too and we'd be wondering if you should have tried what we're doing right now. We were just fucked no matter what. But I promise I have a solid plan. Please trust me," he pleaded with a genuine honesty in his tone and posture.
Her eyebrows furrowed as she shifted her gaze to his and she contemplated everything he said. It was true, what was done, was done. Naruto couldn't take back that he gained ranks with Kyuubi – people didn't just leave after knowing everything Naruto did; especially not after the tattoo.
She had very little control over the situation now; Naruto had done something she couldn't reverse, no matter what.
"I promise I'll put my faith in you if you promise to come to me if you realize you need help; it's a team effort, ok Naruto? You have to rely on me a little, too. If you're in too deep, you promise me you'll come to me and we'll figure something out together, ok?"
She stared at him with furrowed eyebrows and a determination to make him understand and he stared back empathetically because that was fair enough.
"Ok, I understand. I promise."
Kyuubi came to get him later that night like he'd promised, and they were on their way to meet with a potential buyer with Zabuza and Kimimaro. He wasn't sure what to expect, but Kyuubi mentioned, several times, the importance of this deal.
Naruto understood why after they arrived at the warehouse where they were meeting and he saw just how much coke was in the trunk of the car they were driving after the warehouse door was closed behind them. They weren't selling to a single person for personal use; they were supplying a dealer, and a very high profile one at that.
The negotiation was uncomfortable. The price they asked for was high to their buyer and he seemed agitated that they wouldn't budge. Kyuubi let the air from his lungs out in a breath of frustration and he shifted his gaze toward Naruto – Kyuubi knew Naruto was smart. He was unpredictable and good enough with words to sell just about anything. He had a posture to his message and it was difficult to disagree with him.
And he wanted him to speak up.
"Look, we don't have time for this shit. Find a new supplier and pay ten less a gram cut with cornstarch and sugar; that's fine with us. And then when you grow a pair and realize you and your clients like being high longer than fifteen minutes, come find us; but until then, we have other shit to do," Naruto resolved as he turned to leave in a breeze of disinterest, the rest of them following suit, and Kyuubi with a wide smirk.
The group turned and gazed expectantly and Kyuubi stepped forward to finish the negotiation in private now that the terms had been agreed upon.
Kyuubi was thrilled; by the time they got back to their car and were driving away with a trunk full of cash, the man was almost praising Naruto and it was strange to be on this friendly of terms with the person who used to cause him more anguish than any other living being.
This is why Kyuubi wanted him dealing – why Kyuubi so easily let him join his ranks; Naruto wasn't bad at lying to people. But even so, he'd never stop hating how easily he held on to the strings Kyuubi was puppeteering him around with.
But he had to; he had to act completely loyal and he had to do exactly as Kyuubi said because he needed Kyuubi to be relaxed enough to let Naruto pour him a drink because that was when Naruto would have an opening.
It was eleven days – nineteen before his deadline to kill Suigetsu – before Kyuubi became careless enough to tell Naruto to pour him a drink and the second he was told to bring them shot glasses from the kitchen, he grabbed the opportunity with eager and nimble fingers.
He poured them drinks throughout the night and it was on their last round of shots that he did it; when he knew they were all too intoxicated to notice.
"You know what, Naruto? You've already proven yourself more useful than Kidomaru. You've closed a deal that was half of what he's made this whole year and you're probably still applying medicine to your tattoo because it's so new," Kyuubi joked loudly, earning a chorus of laughter from every occupant of the room other than Naruto and Kidomaru, and the man threw back another shot while the rest of the inhabitants of the room followed suit and Naruto watched with intent eyes as he slowly became more and more lethargic as he set down the shot glass on the side table to his right.
It was only minutes before he went completely slack against the back of the couch and several eyes glanced over toward the red haired man with furrowed eyebrows.
"Is he that drunk?"
But there was another thud as someone else hit the ground and the rest of them started dropping like flies while Naruto sat at the center of it, quiet and patient until he was the only one left conscious.
He didn't waste any time. He grabbed an empty backpack from his room before leaving for the warehouse where Kyuubi stashed his money, surplus of drugs, and spare car; he knew he had to hurry because he only had a few hours and he needed several resources he could find there.
When he arrived, he smashed the padlock with a large rock much like he did last time and threw open the door with little caution because he didn't care if he set off any alarms since everyone who would have heard them was unconscious on the floor in his living room.
The doors to the car were unlocked and the keys for the ignition sat in the cup holder. It was just too perfect so he popped the trunk and started throwing all the money stashed within the warehouse into the trunk of the car before stuffing the backpack with a good amount of cash and tossing it in the passenger's seat.
He didn't have a driver's license; he also prayed there were no warrants out for this license plate because he didn't want to get pulled over and have to explain why he had a couple million dollars in the trunk of a car that didn't belong to him.
For his inexperience, he wasn't bad at driving – it wasn't as difficult as he'd anticipated and he made it to his destination just fine and he was knocking loudly at Gaara's apartment door before he knew it.
The door clicked as the deadbolt was unlatched and there was a creak as the door was opened.
"Naruto?" his red haired companion questioned in a groggy voice, eyes squinting slightly from the light of the hallway that his tired eyes weren't used to yet, "It's something like four-thirty in the morning."
"Gaara, I need your help; this will literally be the last favor I ask of you, I'm serious."
"The last? What're you talking about?"
Naruto explained his situation and he summed up his plan, and he requested for him to hold on to the money for a while until he found a need for it; and he urged him to use as much as him and his siblings needed.
Gaara accepted without hesitation and they grabbed several bags to put the money in. Naruto thanked fate for the darkness covering them; it would look suspicious what they were doing out of the trunk of his car.
But they were done quickly and Naruto thanked Gaara one last time before taking his leave as he moved the car down the street until it was parked on the side of the road just before his apartment door.
He reentered the apartment and not one of the men strewn across the floor had moved since his past departure. He grabbed each limp body and dragged it to the kitchen where it was hidden from the view of the living area and the front door.
And finally, he approached his mother's bedroom door and he opened it gently as he entered her room; she was sleeping soundly and he felt guilty for waking her when he did.
"What is it, baby?" she asked patiently as she sat up tiredly.
"Mom we have to go. Just trust me, ok? It's part of that plan your investing your faith in."
The urgency in his voice was enough to startle the sleep out of the corners of her eyes and she felt very awake very suddenly.
"Why? Naruto what are you planning? Where are we going?"
"We're going to the train station. Pack some things you need; we're not coming back here," he advised while she stood anxiously, eyebrows furrowed and features uneasy.
"I'll explain in the car!" he continued urgently before grabbing a suitcase from the closet and throwing it open on the bed, "We have to hurry, I don't have much time."
"Car? Where the hell did you get a car?"
But she was packing so it was enough to let Naruto know that she had heard him and she was working with him so he let her plow on as she scolded him half-heartedly.
They soon got in the car and Naruto took her to the closest train station he knew of and she glanced over toward him when he made no move to turn the car off or unbuckle his seatbelt.
"Aren't you coming?"
"I have to finish something," he admitted in a sobering tone that earned him an uneasy look.
"You better tell me right now what's going on."
"Mom you have to go somewhere far away – really far," he explained as he grabbed the backpack under her feet and set it on her lap, "And don't use your name. There's half a million dollars here–"
"Half a million dollars? Where the hell did you get half a million dollars? And what the hell am I gonna do if I'm caught with that much money?"
"You won't get caught. It's in hundreds and it weighs about ten pounds; you're taking the train so they won't search your bags, just grab a hundred out now for your ticket so they won't see the rest. Mom, you need to get out of here. I'll come find you soon–"
"How will you find me Naruto? I won't be using my name," she rationalized in an anxious and blatant tone.
"I'm resourceful mom, come on, give me some credit. It might take me a little while but I'll find you."
"Promise me you will."
"Of course, I love you mom. Everything's going to be ok, I promise. But we're running out of time. You have to go now, or this will all be pointless."
She popped the door open and grabbed her suitcase out of the trunk before circling around to the driver's side door where Naruto exited the car to meet her embrace as she held him closely to her and she cried a little but reigned in her composure quickly.
"I love you, Naruto. You be careful, please. Make it back to me in one piece."
"I will," he promised, before she stepped back to let him reenter the car as she took off toward the station with one last wave over her shoulder.
Naruto took off once more for his apartment; once inside, he grabbed Kyuubi's unconscious form and dragged him outside where he laid him across the back seat of the car – he was lucky enough that it was still dark and he estimated he had about half an hour left before daybreak began to peek over the horizon.
But half an hour was more than enough time for him to arrive where he needed to, especially since he had a car.
He stopped before an abandoned apartment building on a shady block that reminded him a lot of his own and he dragged Kyuubi inside to the first room he could break into. It was a single room with three doors in all, one to the bathroom, one that exited to the hallway of doors and a second that exited to the small balcony at the back of the apartment. He tossed Kyuubi's dead weight down on the couch and made sure both doors and each window was locked before returning to the unconscious man and spending a small amount of time tying him down tight enough so he wouldn't be able to escape or struggle enough and give himself suspicious bruises.
If he wanted to do this and get away with it, he had to do it right and every detail to murder counted.
It was several hours before Kyuubi even twitched but when he finally did open his eyes, Naruto was there, and he gazed down at him impassively.
The man came to quickly after that and jerked against the restraints holding him down to the heavy couch he sat tied upon.
"Don't worry," the blonde breathed as the man yelled something heavily muffled by the hand towel shoved into his mouth and held in place by a thin rope, "It won't last long. I'll kill you momentarily – I promise."
For the first time in his life, Naruto saw fear flash behind Kyuubi's eyes and he turned to face him more completely, an intrigued glaze to his eyes as his lips curved slightly – it all felt so liberating.
"But there's something I want to say first."
Kyuubi just stared at him fearfully, because he literally could do no more than that – and the knowledge was frightening.
"I don't belong to you!" he yelled, the frustration clear in his tone; it was something he probably wanted to say for a long time, "After today, I'll go wherever I want and I'll do whatever I want; and you? You won't tell me or my mom what to do ever again. Because you'll be dead," he assured in a horribly bitter tone, "Idon'tbelong to you; I never once felt that way – and any situation where you thought I might have, was just a trap to bring us to where we are now. I bet you feel pretty stupid huh? It only took me eleven days to trick you – nineteen less than you gave me."
He pulled on a pair of disposable gloves and smirked at the man's displeasure for it.
"I don't want to leave any evidence," he explained for the man, as if he didn't already know it. It felt good treating Kyuubi like he was stupid – the same way he used to treat Naruto.
He looked as if he attempted to struggle – attempted to escape: to do something.
"Were you curious as to why your muscle control hasn't returned? It's because you've overdosed on your muscle relaxer which, conveniently, you have a prescription for," the blonde explained as he pulled out an orange bottle of a half-empty, and very legal prescription for the person restrained to the couch, "I actually never would have gotten into prescription forgery if it wasn't for you forcing me into dealing so you can kick yourself for that one. Don't worry – absolutely no one is watching so feel free to submit to the urge to cry or pray or whatever it is you feel like doing before you die."
He tossed the bottle of pills onto the couch and it bounced into the corner opposite from the one Kyuubi was sitting on.
"That's for the police," he explained as he motioned toward the bottle as the rattling subsided when it stopped moving, "So they know why it's in your bloodstream on the tox report of your autopsy. Don't worry, they won't check the prescription – it's irrelevant."
The man stared back incredulously at him, unable to comprehend how far ahead he'd planned all this out.
"Well let's do the damn thing then, shall we?" he asked as he turned toward the table he'd left the syringe on, "I would clean this, but I figure, what the hell, right? Who cares about transmitting disease at this point?"
He slid the thin strip of metal down from the bend in his arm several centimeters before pushing forward, breaking the skin with finesse as he fished roughly for where he wanted to be. He felt the soft pop as he broke through a vein and he pushed a generous amount swiftly with a rough shove to the plunger.
Kyuubi's eyes rolled slightly before the pain anchored him back from cloud nine and he groaned, arching against his restraints.
"It hurts, doesn't it? The smooth muscles lining your gastric tract are spasming, in case you were wondering what the pain in your stomach is," he continued before cutting the restraints and hiding them away in his backpack. Kyuubi wasn't capable of independent movement at this point.
The rush hit him and Naruto hoped he enjoyed it while it lasted because it was only going to become painful and uncomfortable afterward.
He turned and grabbed the man's right hand and guided it to the injection site on his other arm. He cupped Kyuubi's fingers around the glass tube of the needle before placing the man's thumb on the plunger and pressing forward, emptying the remaining contents of the syringe into his bloodstream.
Naruto released his hold and Kyuubi's arm fell limply across his stomach as it released the needle.
His chest fell and didn't rise and Naruto gazed at the needle still embedded in the dying man's arm.
Three minutes passed easily but he waited five just to be safe before he let himself accept it.
Kyuubi was dead.
And it felt good.
Naruto felt his blood grow cold – like it was suddenly winter and a brisk sheet of air hit him from behind. He turned to the doorway, eyebrows furrowed in disbelief as his gaze fell upon Suigetsu standing just outside the room.
"How the hell did you find this place?" Naruto breathed in distrust as he watched Suigetsu examine the scene before him.
"Naruto what the hell's going on?" the blue haired man asked, eyes trained on Kyuubi's unmoving form, "Naruto is he dead?"
"Don't," Naruto warned but Suigetsu ignored his warning as he took off for the body on the couch and Naruto intercepted him quickly, tackling him to the floor before he could get close, "I won't let you interfere!" he exclaimed in a determined tone as he wrestled with the person beneath him.
"Interfere? Naruto did you do this?" Suigetsu questioned with difficulty as he struggled with the person above him; Naruto was surprisingly strong for his size – Suigetsu would admit that he was having a difficult time getting free, but he was getting there.
But Naruto didn't respond as he stilled suddenly and his gaze made Suigetsu pause too as he watched the blonde stare straight ahead toward a dark area of the room where there used to be a window, beyond the bar separating the kitchen and living room and a fearful realization washed over his features.
"Suigetsu, there's a SWAT team here," he whispered as he stopped moving completely.
"I know," Suigetsu breathed back in a tone of some sort of apology that earned him a gaze of disbelief. Naruto stared down at him in a way that was so foreign it was painful and Suigetsu looked away.
"Suigetsu, how did you find this place?" Naruto asked again, as something disturbing began to come together in his mind.
"Naruto…" he trailed off apologetically. Naruto's fists slammed down on his chest and he curled his fingers into the fabric of his shirt in frustration.
"Is that a vest, Suigetsu?" he screamed when his hands hit the solidity of the bulletproof vest beneath the man's shirt.
He could hear several safeties clicking off and Suigetsu waved a hand to gesture for the backup to back off.
But the signal alone was enough to confirm Naruto's suspicions and he pulled back like Suigetsu had burned him.
"I can't–" he began, his voice filled with disbelief, "You're an undercover!" he accused in skepticism.
"I've been tracking him by a GPS he doesn't know he has on him – that's how I found this place. We thought – we thought this was drug related."
Naruto rolled off him quickly and backed away while Suigetsu stood too.
"Naruto – listen to me!" Suigetsu urged as he raised submissive hands in an attempt to get him to stop backing away slowly, "You can't get away; just don't even try. You'll get yourself killed. Naruto–" he paused momentarily as his voice lowered and his tone sobered, "Listen to me, Naruto. If you cooperate, I can help you with this. But you need to come with me–"
"Why should I listen to you! All you've done is lie to me!"
"He's unarmed! Do not shoot!" Suigetsu yelled as Naruto tossed his backpack to the side as he darted for the only exit that Suigetsu wasn't blocking. But his shoulder slammed into the old, creaking wood of the dead-bolted door and he slammed a frustrated fist into the wall with a breathy 'Shit!' when he remembered the extent he took to make sure it was locked.
His wrist was grabbed and yanked behind his back and he couldn't believe Suigetsu was arresting him – he felt completely betrayed.
So he twisted and jerked and ended up face down on the linoleum floor while Suigetsu finished cuffing him and he curled his shaking fingers in some sort of attempt to ease his riotous behavior; this situation could only get worse. He was fucked. He still had the restraints in his backpack, and once they were found, it wouldn't be difficult to piece it together. There was that one point where personnel amongst a crime scene had that mental trial over the evidence they found and it wasn't difficult to see that not one of them passed up the opportunity to shoot him that same, condemning glare – especially after someone rushed over to Kyuubi to check his pulse only to declare that he was dead.
Plus, it's not like Naruto planned on lying his way out of this one; he knew what he was getting into and he knew this could be the result – he still didn't regret it because at least his mother got away.
He was lifted off the ground and he shuffled his feet a little to hold his weight as Suigetsu walked them out of the house, where the SWAT team was swarming every corner by now picking up every speck of evidence against him, toward the front yard where police cars lined the street and he was lead to the closest one.
The back door was opened for him and he sat inside, hands finding the small concave in the seat behind his lower back where his cuffed wrists would rest easily while Suigetsu shut the door and opened the passenger's side for himself and got in.
The silence was deafening; it was ringing in Naruto's ears so loud he might have scratched them out just to stay sane, but his wrists remained locked behind his back so he sat still, avoiding Suigetsu's gaze diligently.
Naruto shot the man in the front seat a dirty glare for speaking at all.
"Nothing you could ever say could possibly manipulate me, ever again. So don't even try."
"I was never trying to manipulate you! I was trying to manipulate Kyuubi!"
"By manipulating everyone around Kyuubi," Naruto finished for him, "Do you feel safe, Suigetsu? Sitting in the front seat? Does the cage make you feel good?"
"I'm not allowed to sit in the back with any suspects – I'll get my ass handed to me."
"Right. Plus it's not like you have any obligations to a person like me – a suspect – we weren't actually friends; we just pretended to be – only I didn't know we were pretending you asshole!"
Yep, Naruto was pretty bitter, but Suigetsu wasn't expecting anything less.
"Look at what Kyuubi's done to you."
Naruto let out a monosyllable form of an ironic laugh in one exhale of disbelief.
"You're so fucking clueless! To compare the decisions that person made to the ones I have is perfectly ignorant! It was either this – or something you'd definitely agree would be way worse. And I also don't care about some subjective person's opinion on what I choose to do, so before you waste your time telling me about why I'm immoral and why it's supposed to matter to me, I'm not listening. I've spent little of my time doing anything other than think about what I was doing; I guess the word you would be familiar with is 'premeditative', and I don't regret it at all."
Suigetsu was a little speechless and Naruto clenched his cuffed fists tighter as he grasped for his composure.
"Why should my name define whether we formed a bond?"
"It's not just your name! It's everything! You completely betrayed me! Look what you did to me! I'm in the back of a cop car and you're in the front seat with the keys to the cuffs on my wrists! Fuck you!"
"Naruto, come on, I wasn't after you. I only ever tried to help you. Everything I do is to help people like you–"
"Fuck you Suigetsu! I don't even know you! To me, you're just the undercover police officer that arrested me and put me in prison for the rest of my life: a familiar face with a blank personality. And that other person – Suigetsu…is just something I feel stupid about," he spat out bitterly; Suigetsu could tell – he was unaccustomed to being fooled. And he didn't like it.
"You manipulate people a lot like I do; just because you can make it look more innocent because you're not getting paid for it – just because you can actually trick people into doing things willingly – doesn't make it any different. Step back and take a realistic look at this; I didn't do this to you."
"Not figuratively – literally you handcuffed me and put me in a cop car, asshole – which was only supposed to emphasize on the fact that you're a cop!"
It made sense now why Kyuubi wanted him to kill Suigetsu; maybe he'd grown suspicious.
"Naruto you killed someone."
Blue eyes shifted to the opposite side of the car when he failed to strangle down the sob rising in his throat and he hated that he couldn't move his cuffed hands up to wipe away the stupid tears he couldn't hold back no matter how much humanity he pretended not to have.
"Fuck off," he breathed as he stemmed his tears swiftly with gritted teeth and furrowed eyebrows, gaze locked out the window, "Police officers kill people all the time. The only difference is that special badge that says it's ok from an untouchable person in a section of the government that doesn't give a shit about any person coming from where I did. So just fuck off."
"Naruto…" the man pleaded in an apologetic tone, "Is that really the way you see law enforcement?"
"Well none of you seemed to manage to do anything helpful toward putting Kyuubi in prison and I'm sick of him using my mom."
"We were trying!"
"I'm not talking to you anymore," the blonde assured softly, his tone frustrated and distant.
"And you never read me my Miranda's. So when you fill out your police report, you can write down how the suspect utilized his right to remain silent. And nothing else."(1)
Suigetsu stared at him helplessly – he'd seen this side of Naruto; just never from this end. Naruto was exceptionally brilliant and on-the-spot ingenious but he was usually only on a friendly spin with Naruto's whirlwind conversations. To see the way Naruto somehow managed to manipulate every situation in any way he could, never ceased to fascinate Suigetsu; he was always a step behind – everyone was. Naruto was the absolute definition of unpredictable.
It was strange how much it stung; it wasn't strange – Suigetsu just wished it was. Somehow it sounded less horrible.
"Naruto do you want to know the name of the undercover police officer I replaced?"
"No, we're not friends. I don't care."
"You care," the blue haired man assured easily. Just the steadfast nature of his tone was enough to prove it was something worth hearing and Naruto wished he could plug his ears because he felt sick with anticipation.
"I don't want to hear it."
"It was your dad," Suigetsu delivered mercilessly while Naruto shook his head, eyes still steadfast out the window.
"That's so clever," the blonde mocked with a facetious smile as he turned his gaze to meet Suigetsu's, "You sure are resourceful – did you think of that all on your own? To dig into that as your last ditch effort? Let's talk about my dead father, Suigetsu; I would fucking love to!"
"Naruto it's not like that – but I know your dad wouldn't have wanted you to resort to something like this. Every life is important; you're father believed that more than anyone I know."
"Maybe my dad revered life like you say he did, but I guarantee he would put a bullet through Kyuubi's forehead to save a friend's life if that's what it took. There is never any reason I would ever change my mind so save your breath and lock me up because if Kyuubi came back to life, I'd fucking kill him again. Oh, and I forgot to tell you the best part – I emancipated myself, so I'm getting tried as an adult."
Suigetsu was speechless – nothing he could say was getting through to him; Naruto was way too angry to have a rational conversation with him and Suigetsu didn't blame him for a second.
He knew this day would come: the day when he revealed he was an undercover and took out a drug dealer – only that drug dealer was supposed to be Kyuubi and he wasn't supposed to be arresting a kid for murder. And his and Naruto's talk was supposed to be a little less…completely horrible.
He wasn't sure Naruto would ever forgive him.
The silence was broken as an officer entered the car at the driver's side and he glanced toward Suigetsu in inquiry.
"How's it going? Did you read him his rights? I know it's been a while," he teased dryly. Naruto was pissed off by him and he grit his teeth as he stared out the window at nothing in particular.
"No…" Suigetsu trailed off distractedly, eyes steadfast on Naruto in an attempt to catch one last glance before Naruto never talked to him again – at least he assumed that's what Naruto had planned; who knows, it could be something much worse.
"Well what the hell, Hozuki?" he inquired skeptically before turning and looking at Naruto over his shoulder, "You have the right–"
But the rest, Naruto didn't hear because his ears were ringing from the way his synapses were firing and he wasn't sure how to tell the difference between sanity and psychosis, but he was almost positive he was teetering a little too close to the unfavorable one and he was only getting closer with every hour longer he went without sleep.
The police station was noisy and cold and it was several, long hours before he was finger printed, searched, stripped, put in a white tee with an orange jumpsuit, the words 'Konoha County Jail' printed across the back, and placed before the phone for his one call.
He stared at the dial pad for a long time – at least it felt like a long time; and he contemplated who he should call. This could be his last time communicating with anyone outside of prison; who knows where he would end up after this?
Sasuke – absolutely he was trying to get in contact with Sasuke.
He couldn't call his mother; it would be a complete waste of his only resource and a very good way to screw her over; Kyuubi's guys would be looking for any way to get back at Naruto and someone would figure out a way to find her if he started contacting her so soon and from prison, where everything was so closely monitored.
And he definitely couldn't call Mikoto or Fugaku. He'd been ungrateful enough toward them; this would be a complete slap in the face. He would rather talk to no one.
He had to talk to Sasuke. But how he was going to do it was the problem; Sasuke rarely answered his phone even if he knew who was calling – he didn't even consider answering unknown or blocked numbers. If it was important, they'd leave a message and he'd call back if necessary; but there would be no way to return his call so he had to get through, no voicemail.
What was it, Wednesday night? Two or three AM? Which would actually make it Thursday morning, but either way, Sasuke would probably be asleep – or at least at home.
Sasuke wouldn't answer his phone, especially at night if it woke him up, but Sakura would. Sakura answered every call, text, internet-based message, anything. She never passed up a chance to be social.
So Naruto dialed the seven digits quickly and waited several rings before a groggy Sakura answered with a tired 'hello?'
"Sakura-chan it's me."
"Naruto? Jesus Christ is that you?"
Her voice was suddenly awake and he could hear her sit up on the other line.
"Yeah, listen, Sakura-chan–"
"Naruto, what the hell? You just like, fell off the face of the earth! Where have you been?"
"Sakura-chan! Listen! I need you to go get Sasuke. I need to talk to him. I don't have a lot of time."
She paused for a moment and Naruto tapped his finger against the receiver in an attempt to reign in his patience; he didn't want to yell at Sakura when she was the only person that could give him the one thing he needed.
"Sasuke isn't here," she finally supplied in a sorrowful tone that made Naruto's heart skip a beat in unease.
"What? What do you mean he's not there? Where the hell else would he be on a Wednesday night?"
"Sasuke…he didn't really take it well when you left last time. He's spending this semester with his uncle up north."
"You're kidding," he attempted, his voice the complete definition of disbelief; Sasuke was completely unreachable and somehow the knowledge was setting in with a tightening panic on his chest and he reminded himself to breathe normally and stay calm.
"I'm – I'm not kidding. Naruto, what's going on? Where are you calling from?"
And with that, he slammed the phone onto the receiver with an incredulous 'shit!' before an officer was guiding him roughly back toward his holding cell.
Sasuke wasn't taking it well – was he alright? Was he at least faring better than the place Naruto was at now? What could make Sakura sound that level of remorse upon thinking about it? It left a horrible feeling at the pit of his stomach and somehow everything around him just felt four times more unpleasant.
He stood where he was told as the officer closed and locked the heavy, solid door to his cement room before backing up until his cuffed hands slipped through the slot in the door and he leaned forward a little to make it easier; he remembered how it was done. With two swift clicks, the handcuffs disappeared from his wrists and he let his arms fall limply to his sides as the spring in the door pushed the metal flap covering the slot for his hands shut, throwing the room into a cold silence.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there before he was finally lying down on his cot, staring up at the ceiling and thinking little of what was coming and mostly of what he'd done and it played back before his eyes endlessly through the rest of the morning.
He didn't sleep. He probably wouldn't for a good amount of nights – not if they were anywhere near as internally horrific as this one. He was pretty sure he'd never feel the same. He ended a human life. And he never felt more conflicted in his life; he did and didn't regret it.
And reality was kind of starting to kick in…
He jumped as he was yanked from his thoughts as the door to a barred window in the top of the door was opened with a loud bang as the metal swung open against the concrete and he sat up hesitantly.
"Ready to talk?" the officer asked from outside, his tone as condescending as they came. Naruto narrowed his eyes and flipped him off for good measure as he laid back down, eyes returning to the ceiling; it's not like it mattered what he did – he was probably going to prison for the rest of his life. He committed premeditative murder. That alone had a minimum sentencing of life in prison. He could get far worse.
"Actually, I wasn't asking. Get up," the man restated rudely.
Naruto sat up with an irritable edge to his movement and he stepped over to the door with narrowed eyes that stared straight through the small window at the person behind it and he could tell that his lack of sleep was getting to him. He felt so agitated.
He turned and stuck his hands through the slot as it was opened and he was cuffed before the door was pulled open and he was led to an empty interrogation room and un-cuffed before he was left there alone with no instruction.
His eyes scanned the walls the second the door shut and he analyzed the clock hanging crookedly over a reflective surface he recognized right away by the type of wall beneath it so he stood from his chair and went straight for it, the inhabitants of the room behind it backing up a little at his steadfast nature as he pressed his pointer finger against the reflective surface and he narrowed his eyes.
There was no gap between his finger and its reflection; so either this was an extremely expensive first-surface mirror so he could see how good he looked while he was getting interrogated for murder, or that was a two-way mirror and he was being watched.
So he asked himself, in an interrogation room, which scenario was more likely?
He knocked on the solid wall gently with his knuckle, earning a dull thud, then proceeded to tap at the glass to earn a rewardingly hallow sound that made him smirk a little.
His hand dropped back down to his side as he glanced back up at the clock hanging on the wall above the mirror for a swift moment before he turned back toward the table with a contemplative look, one hand resting on the backrest of the chair closest to him as his thumb tapped the metal frame in thought.
In one swift movement, he grabbed the chair and lifted it up over his head and shot the mirror an unsure look, one eyebrow raised in anticipation while the inhabitants of the room moved back and to the side, clenching any paperwork or reading material to their chests in keenness, breaths held and officers tense and ready to intervene the second it happened.
Although, Naruto couldn't see any of it happening – but he knew people were there; and he hoped they were startled.
But with a filthy smirk he set the chair down against the wall and stepped up on it to straighten the only item hung on the bleak walls of the small, over-lit room.
And with that he stepped down, returned the chair to its original spot, and sat down quietly without so much as a fidget. All he would do is glance up at the clock every few minutes.
It felt like hours but Naruto only recorded forty-seven minutes before enough was enough; he was too tired for this shit – he just wanted to get this all over with.
"I did it," he admitted to the empty room, "So just bring whatever I need to sign. I don't get a fuck about representation."
He knew they were listening on the other side of the two-way mirror and he wasn't surprised when it was only moments before the door was popped open and an interrogation officer entered the room with a clipboard in hand.
But before he could continue, the clipboard was tossed down in front of him with a noisy clatter as the wood met the metal surface of the table.
"You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?"
"Sign here," the interrogator instructed as he handed him a pen.
They went through the rest of his Miranda's and after signing the last one, he set the pen down on the top sheet of paper before it was taken away from before him and the officer took a seat across the table from him, clipboard resting on the table next to a manila envelope that Naruto hadn't really noticed until now.
"This isn't the first time you've been arrested," the man began as he flipped open the file, "You were arrested at age fourteen on charges of intent to sell and spent four months in Juvenile Detention?"
"And yesterday night, on Wednesday, August fourteenth, did you, or did you not illustrate and carry out plans to end this person's life?"
A picture of Kyuubi was placed before him on the table and he stared down at it for a long moment.
"I did it. I killed him," he admitted in a tone hardly above a whisper.
"That's – irrelevant," the blonde deemed monotonously before shifting his eyes to his hands as they twisted in his lap. He could make excuses – he could make them feel really bad for him; he could tell them all about all the horrible things Kyuubi did to him and his mother every second he got. But this wasn't about what Kyuubi did. This was about what Naruto did and Naruto wasn't making excuses for himself; as his father always said – excuses were a poor way of evading responsibility.
Plus, his mother was still somewhere out there amongst all the people who worked directly with Kyuubi and he didn't want to get her killed by slipping up and getting someone else arrested.
"How'd you do it?"
"I drugged him."
"I think it was a little more thought out than that," the man assumed with a steadfast firmness to his tone that made Naruto narrow his eyes because he caught the innuendo.
"Well it looks like you've already got it all figured out so why are you asking me about it?"
"I'd just like to figure out what causes a kid to do something like this," the man answered honestly.
"But I'm not a kid. I'm a legal adult."
"Biologically, you're still a kid."
"I know you probably have some sort of psychoanalysis going on in the room behind that two-way mirror, but I know what I did and I'm definitely not going to sit here and justify murder because no matter what provoked me, I still killed someone and this is called a consequence so let's skip all the empathetic bullshit you've got lined up about how you can 'help me if I can help you' and whatever other empty promises you can think of. I've been here before and they fucked me over! I know you don't give two shits about me – you just want as much information on Kyuubi's drug cartel as you can squeeze out of his dead body and I'm just not giving it to you."
"Is it because you were involved in drug trafficking again?"
Naruto watched his laced fingers clench against the back of his hands and he smiled a little in disbelief. He thought he made himself pretty clear.
"I killed him. That's all that matters, isn't it? I don't think you need anything else."
The interrogation officer leaned back in his chair, inquisitive and puzzled eyes watching Naruto with skepticism.
"It just doesn't add up," the man stated as he leaned back in his chair, "It wasn't violent so you're obviously not malicious–"
"I killed someone and thought about it doing it for a long time. Just the first part makes me malicious. Good people don't kill people. I think that's the politically correct way to put it."
"So you don't think what you did was wrong," the officer assumed with a fraction of inquiry in his tone.
"No, I don't. Look at the things he's been to prison for and then ask me how I could possibly do what I did. But, to be diplomatic, he was an innocent civilian that served his time for the things he did and I killed him completely unprovoked so – draw your own conclusion."
"Do you want to go to prison?"
Naruto let out a monosyllable form of an ironic 'ha!' as he shot the wall to his left an insulted look.
"I'm not stupid. I understand the laws and expectations of society. I don't want to go to fucking prison! But I have to."
There was little that the interrogator had to say in return because it was true. He did have to go to prison. With or without a good sob story, it was still against the law to kill people and it wouldn't erase what Naruto had done.
He had to go to prison.
And he did – he was sentenced for more years than he'd live in close security prison and he was still trying to accept it. It was a pretty weird feeling and he wasn't sure it set in yet. He was supposed to receive maximum security for what he'd done, but his lawyer mentioned that his young age and non-confrontational demeanor probably encouraged the judge to go a little easy on him and take him down a notch.
Still, close security was the second highest level of security and arguably far more dangerous for him – he'd have contact with other inmates and a roommate.
He lucked out insanely on the roommate though; it was some perverted old man who somehow knew and adored his father. He still didn't know the story but he didn't ask yet either because he wasn't sure it was ok.
His name was Jiraiya, but by a series of events that he mostly forgot about in lieu of the nickname that came forth, he mostly just called him Ero-sennin. He was a martial artist of some sort and Naruto was learning some pretty cool stuff from him; they literally spent twenty-four hours a day together so it would be pathetic if he wasn't learning anything.
Getting ahold of Sasuke took several weeks, but when he did finally get through – when he heard Sasuke's voice through the receiver of the telephone on his ear, the wait had been worth it.
Something about his tone caught Naruto off guard, and he had a feeling Sasuke had planned to take Naruto's call; that he knew it would be coming and made himself reachable because of it.
For a while, they talked about nothing and valiantly avoided the fact that Naruto was calling from prison. But it came up and Naruto was silent when Sasuke inquired about it.
Not that Sasuke expected anything different – so he changed the subject because he had a discreet message to deliver and no time to waste getting angry with him.
"You've probably been reading a lot of books."
"Yeah," Naruto affirmed disinterestedly.
"Those summaries on the inside covers are always interesting. There's always a really deep message under all those words."
But then a thought blossomed across Naruto's mind and he understood that Sasuke thought very little of the shitty books they got to read here and he wanted to smile or exclaim how brilliant Sasuke was; but that would completely defeat the purpose of a hidden message.
"Everything's interesting when you're in prison."
Naruto could hear Sasuke let out the breath in his lungs and there was a short moment of silence and Naruto knew what was coming next.
"Good luck dobe, be careful, ok?"
Naruto didn't respond; he sunk the phone into the receiver one goodbye too soon but he knew Sasuke had nothing left to say and he didn't either.
Plus, it wasn't goodbye.
Sasuke had something waiting for him, hidden in the book he checked out beneath the author's summary on the inside of the cover.
He roamed back to his room and he brought the book to his cot before flipping it open in his lap.
There! He saw it – it was a tiny slit in the lamination; just big enough for him to slip the corner of his fingernail under and completely rip open.
He yanked back the lamination and ruined the book a little but it was worth it.
Lying on the inside of the lamination was a small message on a tiny piece of dull yellow paper.
I'm coming for you, dobe.
So there you have it. Sasuke's going to break Naruto out of prison (incase that wasn't obvious) and they'll live happily ever after.
Or will they? I'm sort of writing a sequel. With a more definite end. To answer a few unanswered questions. But I'm not sure when or if I'll post it. Not a lot of people seemed to show much interest in this one and I sort of lost my enthusiasm for it in lieu of other stories that I'm enjoying writing more lol. But we'll see. I could get excited about it again in the future. It happens a lot. I'm rather fickle :]
1. In my country, the officer arresting you is required to read you your Miranda Rights otherwise all evidence found within context of conversation is unusable in court – this goes for a full blown confession before hearing your rights too. And I know Naruto wouldn't have Miranda Rights because he lives in Japan but I would rather be lazy! :]