Chapter Eight: Shattered by Delusions PT1
A slight tug on her clothes made Sakura stir.
"Come on, Mommy! Daddy bought us a puppy!"
The pink haired woman opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. It was plain white, but she could tell that it was familiar and safe.
Sakura turned to the source of the voice, a pink-haired, blue-eyed little girl of eight, expressing her child-like frustration at her failed attempts at getting her mother up.
Getting up, Sakura took the child's hand and caressed it for a second before looking her in the face. She loved the child more than anything in the world, and every day she showed her love by expressing it through touch.
The child, however, didn't continue the tender moment. She impatiently tugged her mother's hand to indicate once more that she needed to follow.
Exiting Sakura's room and entering a hallway which had picture frames all over its walls, the child led the mother to the beautiful living room. The window let in just the right amount of light to show how beautiful the walls and how immaculate the picture frame placement were.
"Mommy is up!" Another voice, different from her daughter's, spoke up. Sakura turned to see two young blond boys, at the ages of about 11; coming from the door she thought lead into the kitchen.
The two boys smiled at Sakura and immediately ran to hug her. When they let go, the three of them started chattering nervously about the new pet they were about to get.
The little girl nervously started to wrinkle the hem of her orange skirt in anticipation, and Sakura began to think about the trouble that this pet would bring. Of course, she was going to be the one to clean up after it, the one to walk it, and the one to train it to obey simple commands.
All in a day's work for Sakura, the dutiful mother and wife.
After about five minutes of waiting, the locks on the door began to turn, indicating that Sakura's husband had arrived and was about to open the door.
A small gust of air swept into the house as the door opened revealing an older, more handsome, and masculine version of Naruto Uzumaki.
"Honey, I'm home!"
There was that customary shout of recognition from her precious one.
The children held their breath, and suddenly, a small, black blur bolted in the house, yipping and trying to get its tiny, pink tongue to lick the children in every part that exposed skin.
"His name is Kuro," Naruto exclaimed, proud that he could provide such a caring pet to his very caring family.
Sakura, though, made her mouth taut, and her mouth now resembled the thin line of disapproval that the majority of the women married into the Nara clan wore.
Kuro wasn't a puppy, it was a fox. In fact, it was a black fox.
As if her thoughts controlled the atmosphere, the scenery became darker, and the air chilled.
"Honey, what's wrong? Don't you like our new member of the family?" Naruto asked, concerned about Sakura's facial expression.
Sakura's eyes were on the fox, which was still licking her children, when they flashed towards Naruto's direction.
The screams of her young alerted the pink-haired ex-shinobi to the fox.
But, it wasn't cute anymore. Kuro, the hyper and cute fox was shifting into black mass of energy, with gnashing teeth and a humanoid shape. A single tail remained, swirling in the air as it tore one of the boys in half, blood spewing everywhere.
The giant, humanoid form was luridly familiar. Its black color sent a chill down Sakura's spine as she realized that this black fox demon had already killed one of her children, and was approaching the other two.
She mustered all of her strength to move, but she was stuck, like a statue. No matter how much she wanted to save her precious children, her own fear took hold and planted her firmly in her spot.
Tears started to form, and the scenery changed once again. She was on a bridge, alone.
But she wasn't completely alone; she was surrounded by the dead.
Bodies or parts of them were everywhere, piles upon piles of them. The dried blood staining the stonework seemed all too gruesomely real.
Wandering through the corpses, there seemed to be no end.
Sakura turned around in haste as the growling seemed to have come from right behind her.
And there it was, the demon, the one that killed her children and the very same one that must have killed all of these people. It charged at her, and Sakura turned and started to run.
She could feel it gaining on her as she tripped and stumbled over the mangled piles of flesh. She could feel its breath on the back of her neck.
Sakura didn't dare to turn around to look behind.
Sakura's bed was damp with sweat when she suddenly shot out of bed. She carefully scanned the room around her for anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Her eyes caught the clock.
She has woken two hours earlier than she should have. Rubbing the drowsiness out of her eyes, Sakura stumbled into the hall to get a fresh blanket, and new sheets. She carefully and quietly moved around her house, consciously trying to not wake up her parents.
She tip-toed back to her bedroom with the some new bedding and decided to get some breakfast while she was up.
Heading into the kitchen, she avoided looking into the mirror, and set her goal flatly on getting some cereal.
She opened the cabinets, but frowned slightly when she couldn't find anything she had set her heart on.
'I'm pretty sure that Mom put some in the pantry.'
With an exasperated sigh, Sakura tip-toed around her kitchen counter, careful not to touch anything, to the pantry door.
When she stood in front of it, she hesitated before reaching out to slide the door open. Her arms tensed slightly, preparing for any surprise attacks.
Once her eyes adjusted to the little light she turned on to see in the pantry, she had found her cereal, and was just about to close the door when...
Several jars of spices fell and shattered, splattering the contents all over the floor.
"Damn!" Sakura hissed, and she heard footsteps starting to head down the stairs towards the kitchen.
The kitchen lights turned on, revealing the Sakura's mother and father, standing in the door way, wearing nothing but their night clothes.
"Sakura!" The mother exclaimed with slight relief, putting away the broom she had picked up.
"Do you know what time it is, young lady?" The father said sternly, wondering why his daughter was up at three O'clock in the morning.
Sakura lowered her head, hoping they didn't see the embarrassing pink that colored her face.
How could she face her parents? How could she possibly tell them that her mission to the wave had caused her to miss hours of sleep? She knew how they would react if she had told them the truth.
No more being a ninja, no more Princess Four for Sakura if her parents knew what had happened.
"I'm fine, I just wanted to get something to eat, and suddenly..." Sakura stepped aside, revealing the source of the sound that reverberated in the house moments before.
The situation was obvious enough to the parents that they didn't need Sakura to explain it to them. They hurriedly got the broom and dust-pan. Sakura's mother swept the glass while Sakura's father took inventory of the pantry, making sure that he had enough money from his merchant stands to cover the semi-expensive spices that were soiled.
After that early morning fiasco, Sakura was sent back to bed by her parents. Sakura closed her door, but not before making sure that everything in the room was exactly as she had left it.
After telling herself that everything was fine, Sakura walked to her bed, and decided she would try to sleep.
However, as soon as she lay down, she knew she wouldn't be able to. She had too much to think about.
That scared her. Sakura didn't want to think lest she think about recent events. It had been two days since she had been back in Konoha, and she had spent the majority of her time busying herself.
Sakura was trying to make sure she didn't think about the fact that she had taken her first life.
Her face paled as she finally succumbed to the inevitable, and she thought about the experience of killing on her first real mission.
It was an accident; she certainly didn't mean to kill that man. She didn't mean to extinguish his very being with a couple of shuriken and kunai.
The pink-haired girl's body began to quiver as she relived that moment of her life. The quickness of death and the horrible revelation afterwards that didn't quite hit until now. It was strange and frightening because she didn't know it could be that easy. She had imagined her first kill to be something she would have a hard time doing, but it wasn't.
It was so easy for her, and that scared Sakura. It scared her because she didn't want it to be that easy. She couldn't give back the life she had taken, and it was plaguing her with bad dreams.
'But last night's dream wasn't about that...' Sakura thought as she shivered uncontrollably every time she thought of that beast that stalked her in the massive grave of bodies.
Shifting her body to the other side of the bed to stare at the clock on her bed-side drawer. As soon as Sakura saw the clock, her face fell, it hadn't even been five minutes since she was ushered into her room by her parents.
Sakura tried once more, in a vain attempt, to go to sleep, but it was ultimately futile.
Naruto's eyes opened and he looked out his window. He had just finished his meditation and was about to stretch when his eyes caught what looked like to be a shadow. At first, he didn't really notice it, but then his eyes did a double take and it was gone.
He turned from the window and began to stretch.
'Could be just my imagination...'
Naruto bent down to touch his toes, his breath measured.
'But I don't think so. Someone was up there. The place had a perfect view of my apartment. Could they be up there for me? Why?'
The answer was obvious as soon as Naruto got up and put his arm over his head, bent to his back.
'Because of the fox inside of me.'
He thought about that more the rest of the time he spent stretching, wondering who it was that was up there. The size of the shadow didn't look like it came from anybody around Naruto's age. It was taller, and it moved fast enough to get out of his sight on a double take. That takes some amount of skill.
Skill that only an above average ninja would have.
A yip pulled Naruto from his thoughts back into reality. Kit was making it known that he was hungry, and it didn't seem like he wanted to wait for Naruto's deductions. Naruto moved to the kitchen, avoiding looking at the window again, lest that shadow still be around. It might get tipped off that he knows about it.
He opened his fridge and wrinkled his nose at the sour smell of milk. He had forgotten that he had left it there to spoil during the mission to the Wave.
His eyes widened in realization, 'The mission to the Wave! That's it! It must be watching me because of what happened.'
It seemed to make sense, he wasn't watched before then, but he suddenly was now. That means that somebody saw him. Someone had known that he had become that black fox humanoid.
He plugged his nose with his left hand and reached for the eggs in his fridge. Like the milk, they were spoiled, but he didn't think Kit would mind that much that it was spoiled.
He was wrong.
The instant that Naruto had set down the two plates (he had elected that Kit should have both of the chilled eggs), Kit had begun to lap them up into his mouth.
A gagging sound came out of Kit's mouth and the black fox stared up at Naruto with an indignant stare.
"That's all we've got. The fridge must have broken down while we were away."
"Grrrr!" Kit began, pushing away the bowl as he kept staring at Naruto.
"Well, what can I do? The Hokage's allowance didn't last as long as I thought it did, and we went on a mission for free, so we have no money."
Naruto was beginning to regret making that decision to go to the Wave. Not only did it cause him a lot of trouble, but he had no compensation for it.
Kit wouldn't have any of that though, he looked at the two plates on the ground, turned away and looked at an empty Ryo's Ramen package. Yipping to make sure Naruto had received the message; Kit walked to the front door and began pawing at it.
Sighing, Naruto walked over to his counter, ruffled through some of the stuff, and found his keys. He looked at Kit with a resigned look. Naruto opened the door with his keys, stepped to the side to let Kit through and hesitated before he stepped through the exit.
A feeling of dread washed over Naruto as he realized that this would be the first time he would be leaving the apartment since he had gotten back from the Wave. The blond didn't enjoy leaving the apartment, and whenever he did, he would be the subject of nasty looks and hushed whispers. He closed his eyes for a moment, reigning in the dread, and stepped out the door.
Naruto closed the door behind him, and made sure to lock it. He double checked to make sure it was locked before turning and walking slowly down the stairs and onto the streets of Konoha, Kit scampering happily along.
True to his predictions, as soon as Naruto set foot on the streets of Konoha, the villagers turned their focus immediately onto him. The suddenness of the villagers gaze caused him to pause. It shouldn't have, he should be used to the hostility. With all eyes on him, Naruto lowered his head, created a fist, and started walking.
"He might hear us!"
Naruto kept walking. When he was in the Wave, he could walk around the streets without all of the negative attention. At first, it was eerie, but, as Naruto kept walking, it became a blessing. He finally knew what it was like to not be hated by the vast majority of those around him. Now that he is back, it would have been foolish for him to expect anything different from the hateful place he had left.
"It's a shame he came back..."
Naruto winced at that remark.
For as long as he could remember, Naruto had been hated. One would think that after so many years he would get used to the stares and comments, Naruto certainly thought he was. However, that remark had cut him. As much as he knew that it was to be expected, it still stung.
'After all I had done...' Naruto thought angrily.
Naruto had trained hard to become a shinobi. It was for selfish reasons, but the villagers didn't know that. Even if they suspected, they had no good reason to. On his mission to the Wave, Naruto had risked his life to make sure they got through that mission on top. That too was for a selfish reason, but he could have easily just half-assed it like he did at the Ninja Academy.
His hands balled into fists and he squeezed.
It would have been nice to get some recognition for making the mission a success.
Too absorbed in his thoughts, Naruto had run into somebody. He couldn't fathom how the villager didn't notice him. The blond was always being observed with the most suspicious eyes, and it wasn't like the villagers around him were making keeping their loathing and his identity a secret.
Naruto gazed up at the villager. The man had to be about 6'7'', 254 pounds. Light brown hair with hazel eyes. The villager didn't look surprised to see that Naruto had bumped into him. In fact, it seemed that he should have expected him to, considering that the villager appeared to have been walking straight into Naruto himself.
The blond narrowed his eyes; the villager let Naruto bump into him on purpose. He must have. There was no other way it could have been.
Naruto's nostrils flared briefly. The instant they did, the smell of cheap alcohol entered and made it clear what the blond was dealing with, a drunkard.
The situation was clear, the man had bumped into Naruto purposefully and, like any old song and dance, Naruto could predict with some degree of accuracy what was going to happen next.
"Hey everybody," the drunkard slurred violently as waved his arms to get everyone's attention, "Dis brat bumped into me!"
All eyes turned towards the unfolding situation.
"Apologize!" The drunkard slurred at him, long enough for the gathering crowd around them to hear. Hushed whispers started up again when, after a few minutes, Naruto hadn't said a single thing. The blond just looked at the ground, glaring daggers at his feet.
An apology, though, was not what this booze hound wanted. He wanted to make a scene in front of everybody. Kit, who was behind Naruto growled at the villager, making his feelings known.
The drunkard's eyes shot daggers at Kit. For a second, Naruto tensed, fearing that the alcohol in this man's system would egg him on into attacking the black fox.
Drunken laughter reached Naruto's ears, causing the blond's fingers to dig into his palm.
"Look, the brat's minion is growling at me!"
Naruto Uzumaki glared venomously at the man, causing the drunk's face to change rapidly to slight fear. The drunk froze immediately. The man started to chuckle again, but it wasn't the goading laughter earlier, instead it was almost uncertain.
Something had changed, Naruto noted. In the past, the drunks were never scared of Naruto, or at least not enough to stop dead in their tracks as this one did. After a few moments, a smile crept up on Naruto's face.
In the past, Naruto wasn't a ninja, he couldn't properly defend himself.
That's what had changed. It wasn't the glare that stopped the man in his tracks; it was the promise of violence behind it.
This man feared Naruto.
Bravely, confidently, Naruto stepped forward keeping his gaze focused on the man.
The drunk stumbled back, trying to keep the distance between him and Naruto constant. He raised his hands in surrender.
"Whoa, Whoa, I was just kidding."
But Naruto paid no attention, his hand instinctively reached for a kunai as he kept his pace.
Noticing the blond reach into his kunai pouch, the drunk's eyes widened, and he stumbled back in surprise, falling back onto the ground.
"No, please... I swear... I won't do it again!"
Again, Naruto paid no mind as a small smirk remained on his face. The blond's eyes flashed towards the crowd. They were silent, anxiously waiting for him to make the next move.
Naruto's smile deepened. He could finally show them that he was not to be messed with. He could finally show the village that there will be consequences for what they do to him.
The blond twirled the kunai menacingly with his index finger while he silently pondered which part of the body would cause the most amount of pain for a man that has consumed alcohol.
'How about the throat? That'll certainly shut him up.'
Naruto's grin deepened even more than he thought possible.
That would be acceptable.
A soft whisper tempted him, "Do it... Do it..."
'Yes,' Naruto thought, 'I will.'
Like a man entranced, Naruto prepared to aim and throw his kunai.
A/N Note: Hey guys, Shintaro here, long ass wait, huh? Sorry about that. I had to deal with some stuff. Now, I know you do not need my excuses, but I owe you an explanation as to why this is only "Part one." Well, the answer is this: I am not fully confident in the New Arc I have devised, and if I were to have continued on with the chapter, I would risk sinking myself deeper into a pitfall should my idea fall apart. I need to converse with Ronin to make sure he and I are fully willing to commit to the idea and the possible aftermath of it (Its getting increasingly harder to contact my co-author by the way, seeing as he is now only available on Sundays, but I started this particular story with him, and I intend to finish the story with him.)
Did you just read the words 'New Arc'? Why yes, yes you did. It's time for this fic to step out of Canon (If only for a little bit), and start heading down the path that was it was planned to go down nearly to summers ago. This chapter is short, and while it isn't much, I hope that it provides you with some insight as well as believable character portrayals.
Everyone has their delusions, and I hope you can pick out what they are.
Chapter Question 1: Do you feel as if you can relate to some of the things we have written about the character emotionally? Are we doing a good job with the characters' personalities?
Chapter Question 2: Should Naruto do it? Will he?
Please Follow, Favorite, and Review.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a nice Veterans' Day.
P.S Thank you Realitync, you are awesome.