I do not own Naruto. The only character I own is Yami. At least, for now.
I bolted through the streets of Konohagakure, never stopping for breath, no matter how much my body ached. Sweat dripped from my brow and blond hair into my eyes, making them sting in a mixture of sweat, blood and tears, the former and latter the result of exertion... and fear.
I could hear them. Even now, I could hear the enraged crowd, the one chasing after me with every intent of cutting my throat after beating me half to death beforehand. This happened every single year, always on my birthday after I was kicked out of the orphanage when I was four; on the tenth of October, the villagers would gather into mobs and start their search for me on their sick little "festival" which involved killing demons. While normally, I would have no problem with this, they seemed to think that I was a demon. 'Demon brat,' 'Kyuubi,' 'scum...' every insult towards me that they could think of became synonymous with my name to them. None of them knew what my real name even was. But they couldn't honestly care less.
I hated it. I hated them.
They hated me. So they'd hurt me.
That made me hate them more.
The worst part?
I didn't understand why they hated me.
Fatigue began to take me over, slowing my pace ever so slightly. The roars of the mob increased in volume as they began to gain on me, closer with every passing instant.
Log damn it! the though shot through my mind, and I grated my teeth, just a little longer... then they'll help me. They always have. Just hold out just a little longer, body.
I was trying to console myself as I rounded the corner, only to trip over a rock and fall hard on my chest. The rocks scattered across the dirt bit into my skin, and as I struggled to get to my feet, the crowd closed in on me. I shut my eyes as a burly hand reached out to grab my head... but nothing happened.
"Hey, you think that's enough?"
My eyes shot open at the voice, and saw two people standing before me, acting as a barrier between me and the crowd. For an instant, I thought that the first was a member of the Uchiha - he had their black hair, their coal-like eyes. But then I realized that his hair and eyes were far darker than that of any Uchiha, and his skin was as pale as a full moon on a cloudless night. His black t-shirt was in tatters, especially the back - though I could see the edges of what may have once been a clan symbol, the entire back had been ripped to shreds with a knife, and judging from the lack of scars on the kid's back, I could tell it was intentional, a sign that he'd cast them aside. His black hair was severely spiked, similar in style to that of Goku when he went Super Saiyan, with a bunch of hair covering his forehead and going down over the sides of his head and the back of his neck in smaller, less severe spikes. A long black kunai pouch adorned his arm, with a small white flame-like pattern coming from the bottom. His ragged, stained white shorts had black flame patterns arching up from the bottoms. His ankles were wrapped white strips of cloth, and, oddly enough, he lacked shoes, the bottoms of his feet black and looking about as hard as leather. His face was smooth but sharp, with a narrow chin and nose, his coal-coloured eyes sharp with a mischievous glint to them, a fun-loving smirk plastered on his face as he crossed his arms. The other was someone I didn't even recognize was even remotely from the village - his blood-crimson hair was short, parted on the left side of his face to reveal the crimson kanji for love on his forehead. So far as I could tell, he had no eyebrows, and had what looked like a mixture of black paint outlining his eyes combined with the effects of insomnia, reminding me somewhat of a tanuki, but in spite of this he still carried a smile on his lips, no matter how tired it seemed. His eyes had no discernible pupil, just a pure turquoise eyes that reminded me of the ocean (pictures of it, anyways), and his features were totally smooth, no sharpness or ruggedness to them at all. He wore what looked like a small cloak around his shoulders that went down slightly past his chest, wrapping up around his neck slightly like a turtleneck shirt, but giving him room to breathe. Underneath that was another loose shirt that was cut off by a white strip of cloth around his waist, and brown pants that were cut off by the same wrappings that wrapped around the other kid's ankles, except that he wore sandals that most ninja wore, and a heavy sandstone gourd was slung across his back, kept in place by a piece of white cloth wrapped from under one arm and across his shoulder.
For an instant, no one spoke, the crowd having fallen silent from having been caught off-guard. Then someone in the mob spoke up "what are you two brats doing? Move aside!"
"Why should we?" the dark-haired one spoke up, obviously the one who'd spoken earlier, his voice loud, clear, like cracking ice, "so you can hurt a kid?"
I blinked. I'd seen weird, twisted, borderline absolutely demented in the past, but this definitely took the cake for the strangest thing I'd ever seen. People who were actually standing up for me?
"A kid?" someone else shouted, "a kid! Do you have any idea what that thing is? That is not a kid of any sort! If you knew what that thing was, you'd be on our side!"
"Really?" as the red haired kid spoke, the smiles slipped from both their faces, his voice monotone, but holding a hint of extreme, if still dormant, anger, "I wouldn't be so sure."
On the last word, something flew from the redhead, and struck one of the members of the mob, effectively knocking them unconscious. Picking it up off the ground, it looked like the cracked cork from his gourd, and the tension in the air was so thick that moving would send ripples through it like a stick through molten lead.
The black haired boy flicked his wrist slightly, and the kunai pouch on his arm opened, a kunai flying into his hand. But it wasn't like any kunai I'd ever seen; though the hilt was that of any typical kunai, the blade was what got my attention. It was longer than most kunai at a length of ten inches, one sided, and curved like a sword rather than the straight and double-edged style of a kunai. At the base of the blade was a symbol like a trio of tomoe, black against the rest of the cold steel that made up the knife. He crouched down into a fighting stance I wasn't familiar with, like a mixture of the Uchiha's intercepting fist and the Inuzuka's beast-man fighting styles, "tell you what. You walk away right now, and no one gets their asses kicked. If not? Then this fight is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt us."
"You'd stand with the demon brat?" at these words, the kids' eyes widened, rage burning inside of them as the words were spoken, "we'll finish what the Fourth started eight years ago! We'll kill you along with him if we have to-"
The one who'd spoken was cut off with a sudden fist to the face from the black-haired kid, and a sudden eruption of sand from under the crowd, blasting him upwards. I felt my eyes widened as the guy screamed, the sand wrapping around him like some kind of earthy blanket, the redhead reaching up towards him, his hand open.
"We don't take very kindly to that phrase," the red-head spat.
"We're going to give you five seconds to apoligize for that," the black haired kid pointed up at the struggling man above, the rest of the mob gaping upwards from their position on the ground, the sand having knocked them all on their asses, "if you don't, you can kiss your days of moving around on your own goodbye."
"What? Why the hell should I apoligize to that demon-"
"Crushing your limbs in five," the redhead's hand contracted slightly, and the man screamed. I watched in sick awe as the man continued to scream, the red-head's teeth bared slightly, grit in concentration; I could tell it was taking everything he had to pace himself, to not simply crush him like a bug.
"Do your worst!" the man shouted, spitting to the earth below.
"Four," the redhead's hand contracted again, and the screams of pain became shrieks of agony. Though he didn't say anything, the defiant hate in his eyes never disappeared. By now the rest of the mob was shouting upwards in outrage, the only thing keeping them from attacking the redhead and me at the same time being the black-haired kid, who'd started a free-for-all among them in an attempt to draw their attention from me. The redhead's hand continued to contract, "three."
By now the man had stopped screaming, no longer able to make any sound from the pain. But still, he seemed to defy the apology "request." Blood shot from his mouth as the redhead continued the countdown "two."
Right as the redhead opened his mouth to say the last number, several anbu shunshined into the plaza, restricting the brawling mob. The red-head's hand released in his shock at the sudden appearance of the ninja, and the man fell to earth on his face. Though I couldn't see their faces, I could tell that they were the ninja who protect me normally.
"So, you tried to attack Naruto again, did you?" one of them spoke, "take the one villager to the hospital. The rest go to Ibiki."
"Weasel, don't you think that's a bit harsh? I mean, house arrest and fines are one thing, but handing them over to Ibiki-"
"They've been given more than enough warnings, Dog," the one named Weasel turned to the dog-masked anbu, his long black hair tied back and his mask like that of a weasel, "I don't think that they'll listen unless someone forces them to acknowledge the punishment of attempted murder upon anyone in the village. Now do as I said, and take them to Ibiki."
With that, about half of the ninja shunshined away, taking the majority of the mob with them. Turning to the two kids who'd decided to step in, who were also currently being restrained by a ninja with a hawk mask, Weasel asked "newcomers, eh? So what are we going to do with you? Did you attack Naruto as well?"
I spoke as soon as the black-haired kid opened his mouth to retort, "they didn't attack me! They tried to help me just now!"
The anbu turned to face me, "what?"
I swallowed as I felt the intense stares of the kids turn on me, their questioning eyes boring into me as I swallowed, and said "they tried to help me. They tried to save me from the mob just now."
Weasel turned back to face the kids again, "who are you? And if what Naruto is saying is true, why did you try to help him?"
The black-haired kid turned his head sharply to the side, "we helped because we don't like seeing people getting picked on. Who we are is none of your business."
There was a short silence, as no one had any way to respond to that. Then Weasel cleared his throat, "then you may as well get comfortable; you aren't leaving until we get some answers, and Lord Hokage has given orders that any newcomers to the village are to be brought straight to him. Now, if you'd come with us."
It wasn't a question, as I realized when one of the anbu picked me up around the waist and began walking towards the Hokage building, the two new kids in tow. Turning as far as I could to face them, I spoke again, "uh... thanks."
"For what?" the black-haired kid perked up, his face one of confusion mixed with pleasant surprise.
"For helping me out back there. I'm not sure if I'd be here right now if you didn't."
"No problem," the redhead spoke up, "besides, we couldn't just sit there. They looked like they wanted to kill you."
I smiled slightly, "if it isn't too much trouble, can I at least ask your names?"
The kids looked at each other, questioning looks on their faces. Finally, the redhead spoke again "my name... my name is Gaara."
The black haired kid looked away, as if ashamed of something, "I'm Yami. Don't ask about our clan names. We don't have them anymore."
I blinked, then felt my grin widen slightly, "I'm Naruto Uzumaki, and if you two don't mind, would you like to be friends?"
It was their turn to blink, taken aback by my offer. Then Gaara smiled, and Yami gave a wide grin, "yeah. Of course we'll be friends."
"Great!" I felt my grin widen again, "advice for the old man? Jiji's a nice guy. Just tell him what happened and you'll probably get off free. If he doubts you, just tell him I'll stand by what you say. He can bring me in, and everything'll work out."
"Okay. Thanks," Yami gave a small salute as the anbu stopped, and I was set down on the ground outside my ragged apartment. I gave a wave as the anbu led Yami and Gaara to the Hokage building, and I clambered up the stairs. When I reached the door, I flung it open, slammed it behind me, locked it tight, and stumbled to my bed, suddenly exhausted beyond belief. I began seeing double as I fell onto my bed, my eyelids heavy, and for the first time in a while, legitimately happy that I'd met people who treated me like an equal besides the old man.
Sorry if this seems kind of shaky; I didn't plan the last bit of this out too well, but I promise it will get better from here on in. Just hang tight, and I'll be right with you with the next chapter. 'Till next time!
Jarl of the North