Chapter Three – Damaged on Arrival Part III
Xavier Institute, the next day...
Crouched on the roof of the manor Naruto watched as the students left in groups into the town beyond the gates. He help but be reminded of the Hyuga compound back in Konoha, a luxuriant but fortified home separated from the main village. They claimed to be an academy but the way they interacted with one another was almost clannish.
Naruto then turned his attention from them to the town beyond, the architecture did strike him as a little strange but none the less seemed to have the feel of a large town or perhaps a small city. Xavier had forbidden him from leaving the school grounds yet had assured him he wasn't a prisoner. What would happen if he tried to leave? Would he hit some kind of barrier proving this reality false?
"Excuse me?" A female voice asked, "Are you Naruto?" The young man turned around and for the first time in a long time his colorless expression broke with a widening of the eyes. She hovered above him like an apparition, her long fiery hair floating as if it had a will of it's own.
"Ka-san?" He said torn between hope disbelief, had his mother managed to reach from beyond the grave? If there was ever a time he needed guidance or wanted a shoulder to cry on it was now. His hope shattered like a fallen windowpane upon the sidewalk as the woman descended in front of him. With her features no longer blocked out by the glare of the sun it was instantly clear that she wasn't his mom.
Her green eyes regarded him with a great deal of concern upon seeing the young man look ready to break down into tears, "I'm sorry if scared you," She said to him, "my name is Jean Grey, we had a session scheduled to start ten minutes ago so I came looking for you." Naruto seemed to have regained some level of self-control before replying.
"So your my new head doctor?" He asked, Xavier had mentioned something about that before having him brought here.
"Well I'm more of a guidance councilor than a therapist." Jean explained as she set next to him on the roof , in the absence of telekinetic flight Jean might been a little nervous about being on the roof top of a multistory manor. Naruto seemed unfazed by that at least, something about her had nearly caused him to fall to pieces, "You seemed really upset a minute ago, would you like to talk about that?"
"No," he said quickly, "I really don't want to." He looked out at the town, his expression becoming distant.
"We don't have to talk about it if you don't to," Jean assured him, "But I think you need to talk; about what your feeling now or what you went through before you came here."
"Why?" No telepathy was needed to pick up on the resentment in his tone. She could see all the horrors he had experienced practically etched into his face.
"Because Naruto being able to articulate those feelings is the first step towards being able to resolve those feelings." Jean took a deep breath, "I know how...easy it seems to just to disconnect from your feelings about something horrible that's happened to you rather then face them."
"How?" Jean looked at him for a moment, it wasn't something she had spoken of with a lot of people. But the young woman hoped that opening up about herself might encourage Naruto to do the same. She looked out at Bayville, a place that had become her second home.
"Most mutants only have a single main ability," Jean Grey explained as she made her cellphone levitate, "I have two: my telekinesis which lets me move objects with my mind but I'm also a telepath."
"Like the old man?" In most circumstances Jean would've have bristled at hearing someone reefer to the Professor in such disrespectful terms but in light of the subject she was discussing Jean let it pass.
"Yes, but not as powerful. My powers manifested when I was around eight maybe earlier actually. I sometimes heard what I thought were whispers or have strange dreams. My parents thought it was my over active imagination." Jean reminisced as sadness marred her lovely features "One day I was playing with my best friend, a girl named Annie." Jean felt her eyes moisten as she continued,"I accidentally kicked the ball into the street. She went to grab it just as a car came out of nowhere...it all happened so fast but I was linked to her in those last seconds...I felt her die," The images of Annie's bloodied body came to mind, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply before continuing, "the shock of it all left me in a coma for weeks. It was the Professor who helped bring me out of it helped to both learn to control my powers and to come to terms with with Annie's death."
"It sounds like it still hurts." Naruto commented quietly,
"Of course it does Naruto," Jean said gently, "She was one of the closest friends I ever had, when you lose someone that close to you the hurt never really goes away." She explained, "But I learned to cope with it, to channel it into something positive. But for the first few months after waking up from the coma I didn't want to deal with how sad or angry or confused I felt about everything so I went numb. Even after all these years some days I just have a lot of trouble focusing on what's going on around me " She could see cracks forming in the ninja's emotionless expression, "I'd really like to help you if you'll let me Naruto."
"I don't think anybody here can help me." The ninja said as he looked at her, "It's not just that I don't feel anything most of the time but also that I can't feel anything at all from the people around me anymore!" There was a touch of hysteria to his tone now, "It's..it's like this place isn't even real, a fucking illusion!" Tears streamed down his face as he voiced his long held suspicions about this world, "Why else do the people here not seem real!?" Naruto very quickly became considerably more audible and hysterical, "Why else would I be kept prisoner first on that fucking island and now here!"
Jean needed a moment to process what the seething blond had just told her. The outbursts of anger she had known to expect from reading the file, what he had admitted during said outburst was unexpected. The telepath could understand how Naruto might come to that conclusion for several reasons. First was the fact that through his eyes this world probably was very strange to him, unreal even considering the differences in technology. There was perhaps the chance that it was a form of denial; who'd want to admit they really was a universe away from everyone and everything they knew? The last was a factor Jean could fully understand: the virtual short circuiting of his empathic abilities. People who possessed extra sensory abilities rather psionically based like telepathy and empathy or something like Logan's enhanced senses were profoundly dependent upon them. Their loss would be as disorienting as suddenly going blind or deaf would be for most people under the best of circumstances.
Jean, thankful for her accelerated thought process, placed a comforting hand on the shoulder of the hyperventilating teen who sputtering words in his native language, "Naruto?", The compassionate gesture was initially unnoticed but a heart beat later his head jerked up. His cerulean eyes had become slitted which in conjunction with his now quite palpable anger gave her pause. Once more something the file failed to mention but adaptability was a trait that she had learned as a member of the X-Men. Jean kept her voice and expression soothing as she stared into those feral eyes, "Naruto I promise you, everything you see here is real." Jean told him, "I know how unfair it seems to have to be confined like this but it's for your safety and for the people out there." She said gesturing towards the town, "I know that you get angry sometimes, that you've punched holes in the walls of your old room back on the island," Some of the tension and anger bled from Naruto's posture as his eyes returned to normal, "that you've broken things, that you've blown up on people. What if you had an outburst like that in the middle of the crowd?"
"I've...I've never hurt anyone that didn't deserve it." He told her sounding almost hurt,
"I know you haven't," Jean said gently, "but the people in town wouldn't know that. You'd really frighten them Naruto, I don't think you'd want that do you?" His demeanor by now had completely changed gone was the feral anger and even the emotional numbness. Despite being a few years younger than her he now seemed old and tired, somewhat like Logan the few times he dared let down his guard.
"I just want to go home." He told her wearily, "That's what I want. I want to go back to Konoha, to my friends, and try to make everything right." Jean had to work to keep herself from tearing up before responding.
"The Professor's done everything he could to find a way to send you home. It's just that your the first recorded instance of someone arriving from a parallel reality, it's unprecedented. There's a chance we might find a way someday but for now it looks like your here permanently." She hated having to explain that to him but it was the young woman's hope that acceptance would be a first step towards healing. Instead Naruto stood up, seething his teeth barred including his large and surprising sharp looking canines. Jean also couldn't help but notice that he was able to keep his footing the angle of the roof,
"I CAN'T ACEPPT THAT!" He snarled in anger, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MY FRIENDS NEEDED ME!? ANY IDEA HOW MANY PROMISES I MADE!? AM I JUST SUPPOSED TO FORGET ABOUT ALL THAT?" The slitted eyes had returned, her emerald eyes didn't break contact this time. She could feel the pain that fueled his rage but had to raise her mental shields. While Naruto's ability to sense emotions had been damaged his capacity to project them was still intact. As had had happened before the anger dissipated leaving the boy looking emotionally drained. He hung his head low, "I'm...I'm sorry...I shouldn't scream at people like that." Jean could see tear drops falling from his face, "Especially...especially you." The tone gave her pause, she though of he had looked at her when she had introduced herself earlier. Jean wonder what exactly about her that elicited such a strong reaction. Did professor know he'd be like this? Was this why Xavier insisted on her counseling him?
"I blew up on people all the time when I first got here, usually sending the surrounding furniture into the wall or out the window in the process," She told as she sat down next to him, "the Professor helped me work through that anger, if you let me I can help you work for it to." Jean sat next to him, "You need to work through this Naruto, if you somehow did go back right now would you be in any shape to help anyone?" He jerked his head up looking livid for the briefest of moments but seemed to calm himself down.
"No" The ninja answered bitterly.
"Then let me help you," Jean said and stood up, "we can talk more in my office."
Jean's Office, An Hour Later...
Once they had gotten settled in the office the session had gone somewhat smoother; Naruto had opened up about his feelings towards the Professor and Moria. While Jean didn't like questioning the professor's decision confining him to Muir Island for so long may not have the healthiest thing for him emotionally. She had hoped to start addressing his wartime experiences and perhaps his younger years but had the feeling it would be quite sometime before he'd open up about that. That's how therapy worked, more often than not you wound up having to work your way through layer upon layer to reach it's heart. Like solving the Gordian Knot without the benefit of a blade really and honestly this was far from the best of starts but Jean didn't consider herself a quitter.
"All right Naruto I'd like you to come back here next Saturday." The spiky haired blonde nodded looking fairly ridiculous seated in the over-sized beanbag chair intended for the younger students of the Institute, "Remember those breathing exercises I taught you if you start to feel angry."
"Yes Jean-san." Naruto said as he got up to leave looking on slightly better then she had found him on the roof, Jean sighed as he was about to head out the door.
"Naruto wait," It was something she had been considering but wasn't certain if it was feasible. She did understand that was a process that took time but the perfectionist in her just couldn't leave well enough alone, "I want you to make an effort to socialize with the people, if you can do that without incident I'll talk to the Professor after our next session about letting leave the Institute. Naruto's eye widened like saucers,
"Really?" Jean held up her hand.
"I don't know if he'll say yes but if I can show him that you can interact with people without incident." Jean hated seeing the cautious optimism gone from his eyes but she didn't want to give him false hope.
"I'll try Jean-san," There was a moment's hesitation before he extended his hand, "I promise." Jean smiled warmly at him as she shook his hand. A gesture that oddly enough seemed to elicit an odd array of feelings but not wanting to undo what progress had been made she didn't question it.
Naruto's Room, Five Minutes Later...
Naruto looked down at the photo of his parents, like the rest of the few things from his old life it was a little tattered. With moistened eyes he looked at his long dead mother, her lovely red hair and kind smile not unlike Jean Gray's. The ninja snarled, if this was the Infinite Tsukiyomi Uchiha Obito was a dead man. He didn't give a fuck about his feelings or how sorry he might be Naruto only wanted to jam his thumbs into that bastards eye sockets. If it wasn't the dream of a madman responsible for him being placed in the care of a woman who was the spitting image of his mother that left Xavier. If this was some kind of sick mind game on that bald jackass's part Naruto didn't know if he'd be able to stop himself from wringing that cripple's neck. He closed his eyes and sighed, illusion or not the ninja that didn't have it in him to break a promise to woman who looked like his mother, "I can play nice one last time I guess."