Title: Hikari no Hades
Spoilers/Warnings: As far as I know, the spoilers are minimal. This is an AU based loosely on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Naruto: Shippuden. I make no monetary profit from the writing and posting of this, or any, fanfiction.
Notes: I've always been really fascinated with mythology and fairy tales. This story was going to be either a take on Beauty and the Beast or a take on The Rape of Persephone. As you can see, it ended up being the latter. Hope you enjoy it!
I have no idea how many chapters this will be.
Hikari no Hades
The room was drab by anyone's standards. The walls were a washed-out, brown sandstone color, adorned with nothing – no paintings, no hangings – to break the monotony, with the sole exception of a string of small, circular windows behind a big, plain wooden desk. Upon the desk rested a large, circular silver mirror. The frame was dull, tarnished with age, and its etchings were utterly unintelligible. The mirror might have been the only interesting thing in the room had it not been for the room's sole occupant.
Gazing solemnly into the mirror was a young man. His hair, a bright crimson in color, was a splash of intensity that was almost grating on the senses against the otherwise dull background of the office. Listless green eyes were trained upon an image in the mirror: A laughing young man with vibrant blue eyes crinkling in amusement. Spiky blonde hair shone in the sunlight, and white teeth flashed as he spoke to someone the mirror did not show. The blonde seemed to almost glow, wherever he was, in a way that his surroundings had nothing to do with.
The redheaded observer in the dull room appeared to be so absorbed in the image in the mirror that he didn't so much as stir when the door to his office opened unexpectedly. A third young man poked his head into the room. In appearance, he and the redhead were similar, though the third young man was taller, and brunette. "Gaara?" he asked, and rolled his eyes when the original occupant of the room ignored him. He slipped fully into the room and meandered carelessly to Gaara, letting the door close quietly behind him. Since the redhead seemed to have no objections to him doing it, he peered over the younger man's shoulder. He needed only a brief glance to learn who the redhead was watching, and then he snorted.
For some reason, the sound drew Gaara's attention, and green eyes shifted to give him a questioning glare. "Something amuses you, Kankurou…?" The question trailed off in the otherwise silent room but, despite the apparent innocence of the query, Kankurou still took several steps back, hands rising automatically in a placating gesture that he knew would be futile if Gaara was truly angry with him. Still the glare did not abate, and if Kankurou had been human he likely would have begun to sweat. However, since he was also not currently buried in sand up to his eyeballs, he decided that Gaara actually wanted an answer. Even so, death was no deterrent to Gaara. The God of the Underworld had his ways to get answers from the dead, after all.
"I was just thinking that you're oddly fixated on that mortal lately, is all," Kankurou explained hastily. The glare intensified and the brunette rushed on hurriedly. "It's not like you to really care about what's happening on the surface. Not since…"
The excuse was a pathetic one and Kankurou was already envisioning a few centuries being tortured in the Fields of Torment, but luckily the glare softened into Gaara's customary expressionless stare. Kankurou released the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding – an impressive feat given that he didn't strictly need to breathe – and watched his younger brother relax fractionally, slender fingers twining together and hands resting on the desk. The listless stare returned to contemplating the mirror and, for a moment, Kankurou thought Gaara had gone back to ignoring him. It came as something of a surprise when the younger god chose to speak.
"…he intrigues me," was Gaara's calm, flat statement. His voice was soft and atonal, and yet it managed to convey all the emotion that his posture and eyes masked with ease. "He is…bright, and color. He is everything that this place is not…"
A rare pang of sympathy flashed through Kankurou at the redhead's placid, blunt comment. His younger brother had never wanted to rule the Underworld. That job had belonged to their father, but the task had fallen to Gaara when their father had attempted to invade the realm of the Sky to increase his share of the mortals' offerings. The Underworld throne should have gone to Kankurou, or even their sister Temari, but despite his imprisoned status, the previous Lord of the Underworld was still given the right to name his successor. And that successor, reluctant though he was, had been Gaara.
Thinking of Temari made Kankurou wish, briefly, that their older sister was around. While she had approximately the emotional range of a grain of sand, she had always been better at giving advice, particularly to their prickly younger brother. Kankurou watched his brother stare into the mirror for several long moments before finally shrugging helplessly.
"Maybe you should just kidnap him," he said blandly in a poor attempt at a joke. Not that it mattered if it was good or not… Gaara wouldn't know a joke if it danced the hula in front of him and dumped ice down his robes. With a sigh, Kankurou reached into his shirt and withdrew a bundle of messily-clipped papers. His brother turned black-ringed eyes – a sign of Gaara's power over death and dreaming – to meet his and, if Kankurou didn't know better, he'd almost swear his little brother looked… contemplative. He shook the disconcerting thoughts away, refusing to consider the possible ramifications of a thoughtful Gaara, and pressed the sad excuse for a bound report onto his brother's desk.
"Reports on new denizens," he stated unnecessarily, watching his brother sit back in his chair and retrieve the pages. Gaara scanned them with almost the same single-mindedness he'd watched the mirror earlier, but from the way his gaze occasionally strayed back to the mirror, Kankurou suspected that Gaara's thoughts were on something other than the reports.
Since it seemed unlikely that he was going to get any further conversation, sparse as it was, from his little brother, Kankurou quietly left the office. If Gaara needed him, the Lord of the Underworld had ways to find him quickly enough.
"Eek! Naruto, that's cold!" The girlish scream came from a green-eyed young woman whose strawberry-blonde hair was more strawberry than blonde; in the bright sunshine it was almost the pale pink of her namesake – the sakura blossom. The target of her playful ire was an extremely tan blue-eyed blonde. Dressed in bright orange swimming shorts with his hands on his hips and a goofy grin on his handsome features, his appearance screamed 'prankster'. His eyes were kind, though, and his boisterous laugh was infectious, for the young woman was soon laughing despite her soaked bikini top.
Naruto grinned good-naturedly at her as she splashed him in the face in retaliation, licking his lips and tasting the ocean salt. Seeing his companion's gaze stray back toward the private beach, he turned and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Oi! Are you coming in or what, Sasuke-teme?" The raven-haired young man in question gave Naruto a look that could curdle milk and resolutely remained seated under the ridiculously large, blue beach umbrella planted firmly in the sand. The blonde frowned and waded out of the water, loping easily across the beach to squat down beside his friend. "No swimming?" he asked, his tone half-pleading.
The brunette grimaced. "Pale skin, dobe," he muttered. "I'll burn to a crisp if I go out there in the middle of the day."
"Didn't you bring any sun block?" Naruto wanted to know, brows knit curiously. They'd been planning this trip to the Uchiha family's private beach for almost three months now – it was unlike the pale young man to be unprepared. To Naruto's surprise, a faint red flush dusted Sasuke's features. Before he could say anything else, Sakura came bounding over, ducked under the umbrella, and plopped down beside Sasuke. Apparently unaware of the fact that she had interrupted, she rummaged through their cooler and withdrew three water bottles, handing one to Sasuke and tossing the other to Naruto.
Naruto noted with interest that, though Sakura had perched rather close to Sasuke, the brunette hadn't moved away like he would have several weeks ago. Neither of his friends would look at him, either. While Naruto knew he wasn't precisely the brightest crayon in the box, he knew immediately that his friends were trying to hide something from him, and it didn't take a genius for him to guess what that something was.
"I see," he said finally, looking between the couple. "When did this happen?"
"A couple weeks ago," the girl muttered, seemingly embarrassed to be caught so easily. "It… happened a little after we made plans to come here." She glanced at Sasuke, who said nothing – either because he was also embarrassed or because he knew his silence was confirmation enough.
Naruto didn't know which one it was, and he didn't care. "Were either of you planning to tell me, or was I just supposed to never find out?" was his next question. There was no bitterness in his tone, he knew, only open curiosity. Again, their silence was all the answer he needed. He rocked back on his heels to stare at them for a moment, and then shrugged. "There're a couple of shops on the public beach that sell sunscreen. I'll go get some; it'll only take a few minutes." He popped to his feet and jogged off down the beach before either of his friends could speak.
Later that night, Naruto did not sleep well. For one thing, it was hot. Although Sasuke's family was considerably wealthy, even going as far as to have their own private beach, the cabin Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke were staying in did not have central air conditioning. The thinking was that Sasuke's parents wanted their children to enjoy the beach, not the beach house. Unfortunately, it meant that the breeze-less summer nights were almost unbearable, and this was one of those nights. Naruto had stripped down to his orange boxers and it was still too hot to sleep.
He tried to pretend that it was only the heat that kept him awake but, the truth was, he was upset. He loved his friends dearly, and had for some time. The problem was that he loved the both of them more than platonically and they did not feel the same. Sakura had only ever had eyes for Sasuke, and Sasuke… Well, up until a few hours ago, Naruto would have bet that Sasuke was asexual. He'd never seen Sasuke spare a person of either gender so much as a glance. Naruto had long since resigned himself to being their friend and nothing more, but to find that they were together left him feeling an awful lot like a third wheel – decorative, but unnecessary. He didn't really enjoy the feeling very much, come to think of it.
He probably wouldn't have felt so terrible about the revelation had they come out and told him, but the fact that they'd kept it a secret for several weeks left him feeling more than a little blue, though he'd tried his best to hide it. After all, Sakura had always turned his date requests down flat and he'd never actually told Sasuke-teme that he liked him as more than just a friend. And all that aside, he liked both of them. They'd been his first ever real friends, and they'd been with him through thick and thin for several years. The very last thing he wanted to do was come between them, but it didn't ease the sting of betrayal any.
"Bah," he grumbled, breaking that train of thought and rolling out of bed with a sigh. A glance at the clock, followed by a disbelieving double-take, showed that it was already a little after five in the morning. The very faint light in the sky through his window indicated that dawn was fast approaching. There'd be no point to going back to sleep now, if even he could, so he pulled off his boxers and dressed in his orange swim trunks. After a moment, he chose to pull a T-shirt on as well, absently tucking his pendant under the shirt and running a hand through his hair in a failed attempt to get it to lie flat. An early morning run would hopefully help clear his mind, and at the very least would get him out of the stifling confines of his room.
Decision made, he tossed a small towel around his neck and hopped nimbly out of his window; he was on the first floor, so it wasn't much of a drop. Even so, his landing was muted by the sand, which meant that his chances of waking his friends were slim. A voice in his head – the one that sounded annoyingly like Sasuke's – commented snidely that he was only delaying the inevitable confrontation, but he ignored it in favor of striding down to the tide line.
After a short warm-up, he began to jog. The wet sand sank frustratingly under his bare feet, but it was easier than running in dry sand and it required enough concentration that it kept his mind off Sakura and Sasuke's newly-revealed relationship for at least an hour – long enough for him to jog the length of the ten kilometer beach at a healthy pace. It was a great distraction but, in the end, it didn't erase the bitterness he felt. He came to a slow stop near an outcropping of rocks surrounding by a number of small tidal pools, remembering Sasuke's statement the day prior that this marked the boundary of the Uchihas' private beach. He leaned over, palms braced on his thighs, panting from the exertion of his run. While he ran consistently, as was expected of a university-level distance runner, it was still tough on his calves to run such a distance on the wet sand. At last he straightened and wiped his face with his towel, grimacing at the feeling of sand particles scraping over his sunburned cheeks.
He was watching the sun rise over the blue-green waves and contemplating a morning swim to cap his exercise routine – Sasuke's voice commented dryly that he was still trying to avoid the issues, which he ignored with the same finesse as usual – when a breeze swept through and almost lovingly ruffled his spiky hair. The breeze was welcome, considering how swiftly the morning was heating up, but it was also strange, particularly because it was bone dry. Naruto wasn't exactly a meteorologist or anything, but he knew enough to realize that beach breezes were always laden with moisture. The strange breeze made him uneasy, and the feelings were only compounded when the soft crunch of footsteps on seashells alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone on the beach.
He turned, fully expecting to see either Sasuke or Sakura, but the arbitrary greeting on his lips was cut off when he got a good look at the other figure. The person in question was a young man who looked about the same age as Naruto, though the figure seemed to be just a little bit taller, even if Naruto included his unruly hair in the measurement. The young man observed him coolly, mint green gaze utterly expressionless; the rising sun lit his hair, turning it the deep red of a fresh, ripe apple. He stood completely still, arms loosely crossed over his chest, which drew Naruto's attention to another odd thing about the stranger: the redhead was fully dressed despite being on a beach.
By far the weirdest thing about the young man, however, was his complexion. At first glance Naruto would have said that the other man was simply extremely pale, rather like Sasuke but, in the gradually brightening morning light, Naruto realized that the man's skin was actually so white it was almost gray. In spite of the anomaly, or perhaps because of it, the man's skin looked smoother than the finest cashmere and was utterly free of blemish, be it the tell-tale sign of veins or even the smallest freckle. There was something unearthly about this man that set Naruto on edge and kept him staring for almost five full minutes before it finally occurred to the blonde that the other man shouldn't even be here – unless Sasuke had invited him, of course, but Naruto had never heard Sasuke mention a redhead like this man.
"Er," he began awkwardly, gripping both ends of his towel around his neck for lack of anything better to do. "Are you lost, or something?" The query was cautious, but not as careful as Naruto's steps as he walked across the wet sand toward the stranger. The redhead didn't look like he was harmful, but Naruto knew better than to trust his eyesight. Sasuke had taught him that a long, long time ago – back when they were on…less than friendly terms. When the other man said nothing at all, Naruto frowned slightly. "It's just, y'know, this is a private beach. I don't really care, but if Sasuke finds you here, he's liable to call the cops on you or something." He offered a hand to the still-silent man. "C'mon. I'll walk you back to the public beaches if you want. They aren't that far away."
Something flickered through the man's green eyes – some hint of emotion – but it was gone before Naruto could really identify it. Slowly, the strange unfolded his arms, his gaze dropping to the proffered hand and then back up to meet Naruto's sincere blue eyes. Then, to Naruto's surprise, the faintest of smiles curved the stoic man's lips, and for some reason Naruto found his gaze lingering on that smile as though it was the most interesting thing he'd ever seen. Thinking about it, he didn't know what about it was so intriguing, only that some part of him wanted to see it flourish.
Perhaps he was experiencing the same feelings he'd had when he'd first met Sasuke – the brunette had been an antisocial mess that Naruto had worked for years at before he'd finally earned Sasuke's first true smile. He was still contemplating these odd feelings for a perfect stranger when the redhead's hand clasped his, and the chill of those fingers jolted Naruto out of his thoughts. He looked up quickly, meeting icy green eyes, and knew his expression conveyed his shock. How could anyone's body be so cold, especially in this heat…?
The sudden jerk on his hand brought his thoughts to a skittering halt and, with a startled cry, he found himself tripping against the abrupt movement. The sand under his feet did him no favors as he struggled to catch himself and he ended up falling gracelessly against the stranger. He fully expected to send the both of them tumbling to the ground but, for whatever reason, the redhead stayed firmly in place. He hadn't released Naruto, either. A glance at the sand under their feat revealed that the stranger's feet were buried to the ankle, which might have accounted for why he'd managed to stay upright.
Naruto shook those thoughts away, returning to the immediate problem at hand. A scowl twisted his features. "What the hell, man?" He jerked on his captive hand and was only a little surprised when the man showed he was stronger than he looked – no matter how much force Naruto put into the movement, he couldn't get free. Frustratingly, the redhead made it look effortless, even though Naruto knew he wasn't weak. "Let go!" he shouted, confused and starting to panic a little.
The redhead tilted his head just a little, as though trying to decide why he should let go. All was silent, and then… "No… I don't think I will…" His tone was flat, almost bored.
Naruto froze, though, and stared. He actually talked. After all this, Naruto had started to suspect that he had an escaped lunatic on his hands or something. The fact that the man spoke, however, soon paled against what he'd said. Naruto found himself staring incredulously at how easily the man had denied Naruto's demand. He was surprised enough that when the stranger did let go of his hand, he didn't move. It wasn't until the man raised both hands that Naruto realized he was free. He opened his mouth to yell, and stopped again. This time his gaze was riveted over the redhead's left shoulder. He gaped. There was… The sand was…
The dry sand swirled around the redhead, rose off the ground, and arched over them in a huge wave, as though threatening to engulf them. The blonde could only stare, flabbergasted. What the hell…? How the hell…?
"I think…" The tiniest hint of emotion drifted into the other man's tone, but even that couldn't draw Naruto's attention from the huge effing wall of sand. "…I think I will take you, after all…" The words were so quiet that Naruto had to strain to hear them over the sinister, silky whisper of the shifting sand but, when he realized what the redhead had said, his blue eyes widened and he stumbled back a single step. The movement appeared to aggravate either the redhead or his sand, though, because the wave rose ominously, sand whipping chaotically despite the lack of wind. The terrifying sight galvanized Naruto into action, finally, and he turned to run. He made it all of two steps before sand looped around his ankles. He fell hard and managed to struggle to his hands and knees before the sand crashed down on him, forcing him flat once more.
He squeezed his eyes shut, teeth grit against the pressure that bordered on pain. The feel of the course granules sliding roughly over his skin only added to the discomfort, and Naruto found that being buried like this in the sand was almost like drowning; except that when he had almost drowned a few years ago, he'd still been able to flail around. Like this, he couldn't even wiggle his toes. The force of the sand kept him pressed down despite his efforts to struggle against it and he began to panic again because he couldn't breathe and his air was running out.
Why the hell was this happening to him? How could the redhead even control sand like this? Damn it, he really needed air, because he was getting lightheaded. Sand shifted near his left ear, loosening, and then he heard that voice again. It was smooth, and toneless, but there might have been a bit of satisfaction in it. "Relax," murmured the redhead, and the words were gentle and almost hypnotic. "Do not fight it. Sleep." Naruto felt like he was clinging to the edge of a precipice, but the voice was compulsive. With nothing else to do, and with his air supply exhausted, he let go. Unconsciousness was swift and merciful.
Word Count: 3820
So, I was going to continue, because this is pretty short, but I decided it's a good length for a prologue. Subsequent chapters should be about double the length. I hope everyone enjoyed! This will be my first attempt at a story-length GaaNaru.