A/N: This prologue has been re-written. I looked over the old one and it kinda made me cringe at some parts, so I decided to re-do the whole damn thing. I feel like this one depicts some moments more realistically and with better description. I hope you enjoy and please review if you have a moment! For those of you who already read the other prologue, I'd really like to know if you think I improved it if you can at all remember what the other one was like! ;P
Cracked bones crunched under Kakashi's quick feet as he ran, the sound making him flinch unexpectedly each time. Patches of blood disguised within the pools of mud created by the endless rains squelched underneath his already stained sandals, some of it rising up to spatter his frozen feet.
He could still hear his comrades even now, their screams and shouts. Some cried for mercy, others hollered in a burning rage. The worst, though, were the ones who shrieked in pure agony. They were in so much pain that they didn't even have the mind to be ashamed for sounding so weak as they died. They gave themselves over to the insanity caused by the panic of uncontrollable pain and passed on with the sound of their own screams being the last they would ever hear.
They would leave behind mounds of lovers, children, friends and comrades to know they'd died in some of the worst ways beyond imagination.
He looked left to see the front of his village so utterly destroyed that you could only see burnt skeletons of what used to stand with such bright colours and an unwavering strength. He almost laughed when he could barely imagine the bustle of a lively crowd through those tiny stores anymore. The scene before him tainted such an image now that he had never fully appreciated to begin with. That happens with all things in the end, doesn't it? You never realize how much you treasured the tiny moments of goodness until they were obliterated right before your very eyes.
His eye proceeded to flicker to the right of its own accord, but then immediately snapped to look straight ahead. He only saw the sight for a moment, but the bodies torn and twisted beyond recognition would stay branded in his mind like a permanent scar. Whoever said that the eyes of the dead were as blank as a slate was a Goddamn liar. The ones slaughtered in a merciless rage had their eyelids peeled back to such an extent that their eyes were practically bulging out of their skulls. The pupils were still contracted to barely-visible pinpoints; the remnants of the fear of watching their own bodies wrenched apart before the heavens granted mercy to them and took their battered souls.
Ahead of him, though, was a single figure that brought about a sense of an uncontrollable fire in the depths of his being. Whereas the aforementioned observations were made with an inevitable numbness, the sight of the cause of such unspeakable devastation brought upon him such rage like he hadn't allowed himself to revel in for a long time. The feeling was comfortingly warm against the chill of fear permeating the stormy night.
The Nine-Tails was the one that had done this; a demon fittingly the colour of the dark red blood that it bathed in with unrestrained glee. It was a creature dragged from the pits of the most unimaginable nightmares and reigned with nothing more than an unquenchable hatred. It felt no love or pity or anything even remotely humane. It desired only to bring about such blinding agony and grief to satisfy its uncontrollable need to watch the world burn. The full moon glared brightly as a backdrop for its massive head that was raised in an ear-screeching howl as it once again-
Ow! What the fuck was that?!
Pulled harshly out of the events that had only happened that very night that he had numbly been turning over in his mind in an endless and uncontrollable repeat, he looked down for the source of what had tugged so harshly at the hair hanging forlornly over his left eye.
He almost growled when he realized that the tiny bundle in his arms was giggling in amazement as it yanked happily on what had so avidly captured its attention. The damn thing was flashing past scenes that completely broke the minds of most grown men and it somehow found a reason to actually start laughing. Was their pain and the resulting sorrow so unnoticeable that an unusually-placed piece of pale silver hair was more worthy of its time?
He harshly grabbed the hand that was causing his scalp to hiss at the stinging sensation and shoved it curtly back into the pale blue cloth, back where it damn belonged. This was no time to find something so trivial appealing; not when they had both lost something that had cracked whatever chance at happiness either of them had, like a vase that had been tipped off of its perch and smashed onto the unforgiving ground below in thousands of tiny, sharp pieces of lost hope.
He was there before he had even realized he had moved, his shaking arms barely bracing the man as he fell onto them unceremoniously. He almost laughed hysterically when he recognized that the man that everyone looked at as a one of their greatest heroes in history had fallen before his own student so clumsily.
Kakashi's breathing was synonymous with that of a panic attack, the inevitable realization far too crushing to pass through him without destroying him from the inside out as it fought its way through the protestations of his broken mind.
A hand clutched at the torn and wet fabric of his chest, just below a stain of blood that belonged to an unknown who had had his chest sliced open before he had jumped to attack from his hidden perch on a tree beside the one Kakashi himself had been residing in.
The physical action shocked him from his instinctual need to reject his grief in both body and mind. His singularly visible eye snapped to stare into the gaze of the man he looked to as an irreplaceable idol and a surrogate father, desperate for him to save him from the unknown of his endless pain. He'd done it once, so he could do it again, right? He'd already found out that he'd lost the fiery compassion of Kushina to the pressures of labour and the extraction of the Nine-Tails; he couldn't possibly watch the gentle strength in those bright blue eyes fade right along with her.
Whatever the Fourth Hokage saw in the teenager's gaze made him flinch noticeably, followed by a pained moan as the action caused the gaping hole in his chest to spurt out more dark red blood that was draining what little life he had left.
"Kakashi," he said hoarsely, the words shivering across his pale lips, "my son. Naruto. His name is Naruto. H-he is the new Nine-Tails jinchuriki. I used the reaper's s-sealing jutsu to stop the demon and place it inside of him. You h-have to take care of him. He will be yours now. No one can know who he is, n-not even the boy himself. You have to do this. It's the last thing in this w-world that I ask for."
A tear dripped forth from Kakashi's eye as his anger snapped back to hit him in the face like a rubber band having reach its limit. The force of it caused him to shout almost incoherently, "How dare you ask me such a thing?! This is your last wish?! You're supposed to ask me to help you or to find a way to stop the bleeding, not to take care of your son! You don't need me to take care of him because you'll be there to-"
"No, Kakashi!" It was designed to be a stern shout, but came out as barely a pained whisper along the cool night breeze, "I won't be there. I'm d-dying and there's nothing either of us can do about it. As a shinobi, you should understand that I died s-saving my people, the way any man that carries the legendary W-will of Fire proudly would!
I took you in when you were lost and a-alone because I cared about what happened to you and all I ask is that you do the same for my s-son. You'll find him at the north edge of the clearing. I t-trust you, Kakashi. A-always remember that I was p-proud to call you one of my o-o-own."
And with that, the Yellow Flash of Konoha died in the arms of a mere teenage boy who worshipped him as not only a savior to the people of the Hidden Leaf, but also as the greatest savior of himself. He passed on to an eternity in the belly of Death itself as his price to pay for his unquenchable desire to protect those precious to him. For the love of God, the guy even died with a gentle smile on his face, as if he had just received the greatest gift as a result of the horrible sacrifices forced upon him.
With a scream full of a pain twisted into an unrecognizable mess of pure agony, Kakashi reverently laid his sensei and leader down into the puddle too dark to be mere mud and uprooted grass anymore and threw himself to the unbearably hard ground beside the cold body, the force causing his hitae-ate to dig into his forehead harshly enough to make his head spin in a nauseating dizziness.
He was about to scream once again so brutally that it tore his throat to shreds, when he heard a much higher-pitched shriek than the one that had forced its way out earlier from the very depths of his broken soul. In an unexpected moment of shocked clarity at the shrill voice joining his own, he realized just what that sound had to be.
Once he made his way over in a panicked flash to the bundle of trees at the edge of the clearing that he vaguely remembered his sensei having pointed out in his dying moments, he almost fell flat on his arse when his mismatched eyes met with two stunning, bright blue eyes, scanning the face of the newcomer in undeniable fear as fat tears rolled down the flushed cheeks slashed with three distinctive scars on each. Those eyes were so achingly familiar that the inevitable shock at such a discovery overrode his blinding grief.
Feeling an urge that momentarily took priority over his own pain, he snatched the baby up and clutched it awkwardly as far away from his chest as possible, never one for close contact unless it was the unavoidable kind in the midst of battle. He winced at the sound coming from the boy that immediately reminded him of the terror-filled screams of his comrades, that had by now faded after the Fourth Hokage had taken the attention of the vicious monster.
After a minute or so of staring the poor thing down while he tried to figure out what the hell you were supposed to do to get it to shut up, the baby eventually quieted down and in turn stared straight back into the blank dark grey of his gaze. In the time the kid had taken to stop wailing in a blind panic, Kakashi had found a way to temporarily shove his feelings down into a space where he would pick them out piece by piece whenever a moment of weakness arose and analyse it guiltily when each one reminded him of what he couldn't save. It was the only way he felt he could deal with his life without losing himself to insanity. The instinctual coping mechanism was so familiar by now that the action came with what appeared to be an unsettling ease.
Eventually, all thought on the matter faded away as he became entranced by the eyes still staring in wonder at his own. It wasn't long before he lost himself in their clarity and openness; as if the child was bearing his soul to this stranger he had known for such little time. Somehow, miraculously, their sheer innocence calmed Kakashi much more rapidly than he'd like to admit.
In the present, he growled as his memory took him down that particular path. He'd rather not remember that moment of weakness. His eyes were similar to his sensei's and that was all. That kid had no right using them like that against him, whether he realized he was doing it or not.
"I took you in when you were lost and a-alone because I cared about what happened to you and all I ask is that you do the same for my s-son."
The replaying of that phrase caused him to stumble on a thin branch as he continued to make his way forward. When he'd heard the shouts of his comrades rushing to the scene of the battle between the Nine-Tails and their Hokage, he'd realized that he couldn't be found with the child at the scene and had dashed away under the cover of the shadows cast by the canopy of the trees swaying in the waves of breeze ruffling the sudden stillness of this awful night. He'd been blindly sprinting forth ever since.
As he stared down at the child who had finally closed those damn blue eyes, having given in to his inevitable exhaustion, he conclusively allowed himself to truly contemplate what his sensei had asked of him, a broken teenager who barely could keep himself together, let alone raise a new-born child with secrets that could destroy both of their lives.
Eventually, he realized he would inevitably raise the baby as his own. He would end up protecting him at the cost of his very own existence. No matter how much it pained him and no matter how much he wanted nothing to do with the kid, he would comply with his sensei's dying wish. It was his unignorable mission from his late Hokage and, besides, he'd never forgive himself if he failed the man in something that meant so much to him.
With a determined look in his eye, he picked up his speed once more; dashing back towards the ruins of his village as the baby – Naruto – lay limply in his arms, a soft breeze ruffling his bright blonde hair in a soothing manner.
He would perform his duty.
But he didn't have to like it.