Eyes of the Broken Soul:Chapter 3 -Examination Day

Eyes of the Broken Soul

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, nor am I affiliated in any way with Naruto. I just like the show and mangas so I wrote this fanfic.

Hope you enjoy the next chapter. 🙂

Chapter 3 – Examination Day

As the early morning sunlight slowly began to once again pierce through the last remnants of rain clouds, its gentle caress slowly brushed against the whiskered face of a quietly sleeping boy. Naruto stirred beneath the warm embrace that met his face, shuffling slowly under his blankets and pulling them up to cover his eyes from the brightness of the light’s glow.

He didn’t want to wake up just yet, he didn’t want to leave the soft comfort of his newfound bed. Naruto had never slept so well in his life before and all he wanted was to let the moment last for as long as possible. Back at the orphanage, the damp sheets that covered his battered body barely protected him from the cold night air that whispered over his exposed skin, and the bed he slept on was hardly suitable lie in with its failing rigid structure.

However, that was no longer the case at all, not any more. This bed was soft and warm, unlike anything he had ever felt before and Naruto was content to just lie there in comfort forever.

Unfortunately for this young boy, fate had a way of turning things around on Naruto and very soon his bedroom door sprang open, rather loudly, to let a very cheery Iruka inside.

“Good morning Naruto, it’s time to wake up and get ready for school! We’ve got a big day ahead of us and we don’t want to be late.”

Naruto just grumbled a chain of incoherent words under the muffling fabric of his blanket before shifting once more, still hiding beneath its warm, comforting hold. Iruka just rolled his eyes in response to the obvious defiance and let out an amused sigh, before walking over to the boy’s bed.

He then sat down next to Naruto and pulled the top of the blanket down to expose his contorting face, almost allowing a brief, stifled laugh to escape his lips as the amusing sight met his eyes. Naruto, however, simply cringed in the ensuing light and quickly covered his eyes with his arms in an effort to hide himself from the sun’s waking gaze.

“Just a few more minutes Iruka-sensei” He mumbled tiredly, trying to pull the blankets up over himself again. Iruka shook his head at the boy’s efforts, but still could not help the warm smile that spread across his lips.

“Naruto… you do remember it’s the day of your exam don’t you? We wouldn’t want you to be late now, would we?” Naruto wearily opened his eyes again and let out a deflated sigh, scowling as he folded his arms in defeat.

“Alright, alright… fine, I’ll get up now.”

Iruka’s smile widened even more as he watched the boy reluctantly pick himself up off the bed, before rubbing his eyes in an effort to remove the fatigue that seemed to latch onto his vision. The chunin’s gaze then moved over to quickly searched his body for any signs of injury and much to his delight, Naruto didn’t show any more marks from the abuse he had endured.

‘He’s healed pretty quickly, in fact its unnatural how fast his wounds have recovered, but I am just happy to see him finally getting better.’

Once Naruto was finally on his feet again, the two then stumbled out of the room and into the hallway. Iruka then turned to look down at the youngster standing next to him, before rubbing the boy’s hair affectionately and eliciting a brief smile for his efforts.

“Alright, I’ll fix us some breakfast while you go and clean yourself up. You know where the bathroom is right?”

Naruto gave a sleepy nod and then stumbled down the hallway into one of the said rooms, before closing the door behind him, after which Iruka went on his own way a well.

Once inside the bathroom, Naruto slowly removed his clothes and stepped into the shower, before turning on the tap to allow the water’s flow to begin caressing his body. At first, he just stood there for a while, allowing the warm, invigorating spray to wash away the last remnants of his fatigue and revive his tired muscles. He was not used to the luxury of warm water and he couldn’t help but get absorbed into a trance by the sensations he was experiencing.

As he stood there, enjoying the tingling sensation brushing up against his skin, as well as the reviving heat that filed his muscles, Naruto slowly began to inspect his body, trying to search for the cuts and bruises he had received during his warden’s last ‘visit’. Much to his surprise and relief, there were no more marks on his body and the wounds he received seemed to have completely disappeared.

After one more overview, the boy then placed his hands against his ribs, before gently pushing against them to feel for any discomfort, but there was no shooting pain to be felt and the fractures he had sustained seemed to have disappeared altogether.

This was all a little bit confusing for Naruto. He wasn’t sure how he could be fine after just a single day of recovery, but he quickly brushed off his thoughts on the matter. Right now, he had an exam to prepare for and it would do little good if he were late for class.

After washing himself off and cleaning up, Naruto jumped out of the shower with a renewed vigor and wrapped himself up in a towel. He quickly darted across the hallway and over to his room once again. Once he was inside, he then proceeded to search through his cupboards and got dressed in the new clothes that Iruka had brought for him, which now filled his wardrobe to the brim.

Once he was done, he turned around once more, ready to make his way out where Iruka was preparing there breakfast, but before he made it to the door, something caught his attention, bringing his eyes down to the wooden floor that met at his feet. There, sitting at the base of his bed, were Naruto’s now clean black sandals waiting neatly positioned for him to put on.

Iruka had obviously washed the mud off of them from the previous nights trip through the rain and had gotten them ready for Naruto to wear. The boy simply let out a heartfelt sigh and smiled at the sight of all the effort given for his sake and he couldn’t help the sudden warmth that filled his heart.

He never had someone to look after him like this before. No-one would ever go out of their way to make sure he had what he needed and the overwhelming sense of joy that rushed through his chest could not be described in words. Naruto promised himself to give his sensei a big hug when he saw him again, that much the man deserved in the least.

After strapping on his sandals, Naruto walked out of his room and down towards the kitchen, where the tantalizing smells of cooked food began to draw him into an excited trance. As he entered inside the warm sunlit room, his eyes caught gaze of his sensei, who was still slaving over a heated stove.

Naruto slowly crept across the open space that separated the two and snuck up behind the man, before finally throwing his arms around his waist and squeezing as tightly as his strength could manage. The chunin jumped in surprise from his sudden touch and the emotions he had felt rushing into him, almost burning him self on the stove in the process, but he quickly recovered once he realized who it was.

“Hey, what’s this all about?” He smiled, turning to look down at the brightly smiling face bellow him.

“Oh, I just wanted to…. to say thank you for everything you’re doing for me.” Naruto replied sheepishly.

Iruka turned around in the boy’s arms and then ruffled his hair, gaining another excited giggle from the blond as he did so. He could feel all of Naruto’s happiness flowing through into his own body and it was a comforting emotion for the chunin to experience coming from the youngster.

“Alright kiddo, go and sit down at the table in the meantime. Breakfast will be ready in a few moments.”

Naruto did as his sensei ordered and hopped over to the nearest chair before plonking himself down and waiting in eager anticipation, teased by the invigorating smells of Iruka’s obviously proficient cooking. If it was anything like the food he had the previous day, it would be heaven all over again.

After a few more minutes had passed, Iruka walked up to the table carrying a tray in his hand. He placed it down on the wooden surface and handed Naruto his breakfast, as well as a glass of milk for the boy to drink. By most standards it was a nicely prepared meal, consisting of a few rice cakes, some dumplings and warm buttered toast, but to Naruto, however, it was extraordinary.

After so many years of stale bread and cold leftovers, this breakfast was as spectacular a meal as the boy could ever imagine and the excited grin on his face was evidence enough to betray his obvious excitement.

Iruka simply watched on with a glowing smile as Naruto hastily gulped down the tasty morsels of food, pausing only to wash it down with an exhausted sip from his milk. The boy’s face was once again filled with small scraps of food as he finished his meal with a hearty grin.

After downing of the last of his milk and wiping his face clean with a cloth, he helped Iruka clean up the table and took his dishes to the sink. If this was how it was going to be every morning, Naruto was definitely looking forward to a life in his new home. It was the simple everyday pleasures that most people take for granted that filled the empty hole in Naruto’s tortured heart.

Once the two finished washing the dishes, sharing a few playful splashes between them in the process, Iruka helped Naruto put on his backpack and placed the boy’s lunch box snuggly inside. The two then made their way out of the house and headed towards the academy, walking past the bustling stores and workshops that littered the side of the road.

As they slowly walked down the dusty streets of Konoha, a few convicting glances were spared in their direction. Naruto, having noticed some of the shallow eyes that held him in their glare, slowly inched himself closer to Iruka who in turn placed his hand around the boy’s shoulder shield him from their gaze.

Luckily for Naruto, it didn’t take long before they found themselves stumbling upon the relative safety of the academy grounds. The blond took a deep breath and then let out a heavy sigh of relief, feeling his tension melt away from his body. A few more curious stares were pointed at the two as Iruka walked to his classroom with Naruto under his arm, followed by whispers in-between the other students that filled the hallways.

Iruka wasn’t bothered by any of that, but the feelings flowing from the boy beside him told the chunin that Naruto was growing uncomfortable. It was made even worse when they actually walked into the room in which his fellow classmates were waiting. The curious glares almost overwhelmed the boy completely as he made his way out of Iruka’s protective shield and up to his usual seat. After a few more passing whispers amongst the other students, Iruka cleared his throat to call for silence and then sat at his desk.

“You’re a bit late Iruka, what kept you?”

Iruka looked over to see the friendly face of Mizuki grinning smugly back at him, who was already sitting in a chair beside him, waiting for the chunin’s arrival. The silver haired instructer was to be his assistant during the course of the exam, helping to observe the students in case of any infringements and to offer his own advice when necessary.

Iruka shared a brief smile with the man who he had long considered to be a friend and then turned to face his class.

“I had a few… things to take care of this morning. Besides, we’re still waiting for word on the topic of today’s jutsu test so we still have time to spare.”

“Oh, didn’t you hear Iruka?” Mizuki retorted, slouching into the back of his chair. “Today’s exam is a written test, I’ve already received the papers so we can begin immediately.”

Iruka felt his heart plummet at the sound of Mizuki’s words. This was big trouble , Naruto could hardly even read properly much less write anything. How on earth would he stand a chance of passing? The scarred chunin watched on with a heavy heart as Mizuki stood from his chair and preceded to hand out the exam papers to the students.

As the silver haired chunin passed Naruto’s seat, he could see the sudden alarm etched onto the boy’s panicked face. He even noticed the same flash of gold in his eyes that seemed to appear whenever Naruto was in a state of emotional distress.

He just wished he could just go over and squeeze Naruto’s shoulder in reassurance and tell him everything would be all right, but the chunin had to remain at his desk throughout the remainder of the test.

Once Mizuki was done with his allotted task, he walked back down and sat next to his counterpart once more. He then looked up at the clock on the wall and waited for the right time. Once its hour hand reached eight, he called out to the class.

“Begin!”

Naruto picked up his pencil at the sound of the academy instructor’s signal and began to look over the paper set in front of him. He desperately tried to make out the sentences etched on it’s white surface, moving his lips as his eyes scanned over each line. But, as hard as the boy tried, he could only recognize a few of the shorter words in between.

Naruto’s hand began to quiver in fear as he moved onto the next question; trying to find anything he would have a hope of understanding. Even if he could get just a few of the questions right, it may be enough for the boy to pass, but much like the last one Naruto couldn’t make out what it said. His face began to cringe in frustration; he couldn’t allow himself to fail now.

Being a shinobi was the only dream he had left and that dream was about to be dragged through the mud once again, just like the boy who held onto it so desperately. It almost seemed as though the world wanted Naruto to fail, to fall to his knees and admit defeat even when he finally thought things were getting better.

Iruka’s gaze was firmly locked onto the young boy as his body tightened in desperation. He could see the pain and frustration in Naruto’s blue eyes and he couldn’t help but feel an anguished knot forming in his own stomach at the mere sight of his distress. Mizuki noticed the chunin’s intensely focused gaze and looked to share in his view. After recognizing the object of his concern, the silver haired chunin closed his eyes and supported his chin on top of his hands.

“He looks… nervous doesn’t he?” the man mumbled, shaking Iruka out of his trance. “It’s almost like he’s completely lost and doesn’t know what to do with himself.”

Iruka just bowed his head in silent defeat, as if to confirm Mizuki’s growing suspicions, while praying for the two hours to pass by quickly so that this nightmarish torture could end.

“You… don’t know the half of it.” After that, the rest of the times were spent in silence between the two, as they waited for the test to end.

Naruto had just about looked through the entire paper that was set out to him and he still hadn’t found a single question he could answer. The amount of frustration that grew in the boy’s heart was soon flooded out with sadness and grief. Tears of both anger and frustration began to form in his eyes despite his efforts to hold them back, ones that he desperately tried to hide despite himself, but before long they began leaking down the side of his face and onto the white sheet that locked in his gaze.

The hand that held his pencil was now trembling violently as he desperately tried to compose himself and remain calm. He couldn’t allow the others to see him cry. It was like he was admitting he was a failure, giving in to all their taunts and name calling that he had endured for so long.

‘Maybe they were right, maybe I am just a failure.’ Naruto thought quietly to himself.

As much as he tried to hold back his tears, his emotions soon got the better of him and soon he was just sitting there, staring blankly at the increasingly soaked sheet of paper that barred him from his dreams.

“Time!”

As Mizuki called out for the end of the examination that marked the next chapter in the academy students lives as shinobi in training, each of the youngsters began to make their way from their desks and out of the classroom once more. A few fleeting glances were spared in Naruto’s direction as the other kids walked down to the front of the class and out the door, but the boy just sat there quietly despite it, frozen in his seat while the fresh tears still clung onto his whiskered face.

“I’ll leave the rest to you then Iruka-san.” Mizuki huffed calmly, before rising up from his seat.

“Besides, it looks like he may need some help…” The chunin then made his way out the classroom, leaving a highly concerned Iruka behind to collect the exams for marking.

The man didn’t move for a while as the class fell into a sudden silence. He just sat there, watching as his student continued to quiver and sob in his chair, with his heavy breaths being the only noise to break the deadly quiet that had enraptured them both.

After a few fleeting moments and a deeply anguished sigh on his part, he finally got up from his desk and walked up to Naruto’s seat. As he made his way up to the boy’s side, he noticed the paper beneath him had been completely soaked in his tears; it’s blank pages devoid of any writing. Iruka took hold of Naruto’s quivering hand soon afterwards and gently removed the pencil from his unrelenting grip.

The sheer amount of sadness and grief he could feel emanating from the boy’s touch at that very moment was almost too overwhelming for the chunin to bare. Iruka himself wondered how a boy his age could deal with so much pain inside his heart for so long, but the answer was one he didn’t want to think about and in truth he realized that Naruto had not managed at all.

Naruto was simply a mess, nothing more than a defeated, shattered heart that was in great need of mending that much was certainly true. He had been broken by the years of isolation and abuse that he had endured at the hands of his caretakers and his own self-belief was now dangerously close to being destroyed completely. It was only then, in that very moment, that Iruka finally began to understand just how much damage had really been done as he continued to feel the remorse flow into his touch.

After allowing Naruto a few more moments to himself, Iruka carefully retrieved the tear-filled paper from the boy’s desk and then knelt down beside the him, before placing his hand on the youngster’s shoulder. The silent words that fell from Naruto’s lips soon after, were riddled in his heavy breaths and wavering sobs.

“I… I couldn’t… I just couldn’t do it Iruka-sensei. I… couldn’t….” Nauto’s eyes never once wander from his desk, even as he mumbled quietly. It was almost as though he were still trying to read the words inscribed on the paper, as if still trying to decipher their meaning. Iruka felt his heart skip a beat as the heavy words pierced into his soul, it was so painful to see Naruto like this but he had to do what he could to comfort the boy.

“Naruto… it’s alright. You did your best and that’s all that matters. I promise I’ll help you learn everything you need to know and then we can try again in six months. I’ll fix this… I promise.”

Naruto slowly turned to meet his sensei’s gaze, only for the chunin to notice the slight shimmer of gold once again reflect his his eyes. Shortly afterwards, the boy leapt from his seat and into Iruka’s arms, who quickly caught hold of him and squeezed him tighly in an effort to soothe his heavy breaths.

The chunin simply allowed Naruto’s tears to fall on his shoulders, while simultaneously trying his best to ignore the overwhelming emotions that now forced themselves into his body. He tried desperately to hold his own feelings in check, to find the strength to comfort the boy in his arms, but no matter how much he struggled he could no longer restrain the raw emotions that pushed into his heart. Soon, he could feel the soft trickle of tears fall down the side of his own cheeks, tears that he didn’t even know he had shed until that moment.

He knew that the tears that fell from the corners of his eyes were not his own, knowing instead they belonged to the boy in his arms, but Iruka allowed them to flow none-the-less. Even if he could only carry a small amount of Naruto’s burden, he would gladly accept if it meant he could help the young boy deal with his pain.

Sometimes the best medicine one could be offered was the most difficult to swallow, and crying, letting all the pain out through shed tears, was one such medicine for a broken heart.

The sounds of laughter and excitement filled the small playground of the academy grounds as a young boy slowly made his way over to the nearby swing. Naruto sat on top of its small wooden frame and gently rocked himself back and forth, watching his feet as they dangled limply beneath his soulless body.

Iruka had stayed behind to collect the remaining tests in the classroom and had also since made his way to hand in the papers for marking, so Naruto was left alone in the safety of the academy playgrounds to wait until he was done. The boy almost felt lost without the father figure he had come to rely on around to protect and comfort him. Although he had been alone all these years so far, it felt like a part of his own soul had embedded itself in Iruka and now that he wasn’t there the boy felt more vulnerable than ever before.

The cruel eyes that continued to stare at him coldy in the distance, despite his efforts to hide himself from their icy gaze, began to tear away at him even more until he began to feel his heart tighten in anguish under the pressure of their gaze. The boy felt like what little spirit was left in him would now be snuffed out, but before it became completely overwhelming, a lone figure suddenly moved to sit quietly beside him.

Naruto’s gaze carefully shifted to his side in an effort to catch a glance of his new visitor, but to his relief, his gaze settled on a friendly looking Mizuki, who was smiling gently in his direction. The silver haired chunin began to rock his swing as well, until his motiones matched Naruto’s own swaying rhythm.

“So, I guess the exam was a little tough wasn’t it?” He finally began, breaking the silence that had reigned only moments before.

Naruto simply cringed in agony at the mere mention of the test; he didn’t want to even think about that now. Mizuki easily noticed his negative reaction, as well as the heavy sigh that followed, and frowned down at the youngster across from him.

“That bad huh?” Naruto simply nodded in response.

“I… I didn’t even answer a single question. I guess I’m just useless as a shinobi…. and as a human being. Maybe those guys at the orphanage were right to treat me like they did. Maybe I’m nothing but a pile of useless…”

Mizuki suddenly whipped around in front of Naruto and placed his hand on the boy’s mouth, halting is words before he could continue.

“Don’t ever say such things about yourself.” He offered gently. “You were just scared, that’s all. Lots of people become afraid when they’re facing something they aren’t sure about, but a true shinobi must rise in the face of adversity and learn from his failures, otherwise they will never grow strong.”

Mizuki then took his hand off the surprised boy’s mouth and flashed another reassuring smile. Naruto regarded the chunin’s words carefully and then allowed a subtle smile of his own to show. It seemed those few gentle words had won Mizuki the boy’s trust and the man quickly took advantage of the given opportunity to speak once more.

“You know… there is a way that you can still pass the test.”

Naruto’s eyes widened in surprise at the academy instructor’s words. Seeing that he now had the boy’s undivided attention, Mizuki quickly continued with his explanation, hiding the barely noticeable, satisfied grin that crept across his lips.

“It’s going to be tough to pull off, but I assure you if you can do this they’ll have no choice but to let you advance.” Naruto quickly jumped off the swing in his excitement, almost stumbling in the process, all to eager eager to hear what the chunin would propose.

“What is it Mizuki-senei? Tell me what I need to do!” Mizuki let off a sly grin and then leaned in over to the boy’s ear to whisper his plan.

“Alright, this is what you need to do, but tell no-one, not even Iruka-sensei…”

After the brief recess had ended, the academy students slowly made their way back to their classrooms while Iruka sat in his desk, waiting patiently for the seats in front of him to fill once more.

Once there were no more children entering through the door, he looked over his students’ faces to make sure everyone was accounted for, but there was a certain blod missing from his gaze. The chunin’s heart began to sink in fear when he realized that Naruto still hadn’t arrived yet.

“Has… has anyone seen Naruto?” He asked calmly, searching the faces in the room for an answer. One of the children called out from the back of the class.

“Yea, I saw him! He was running out of the academy grounds just before our break ended. He’s probably just gonna play another prank again like always…”

Before the boy could even hope to finish his explanation, Iruka was already sprinting out of the door, hurrying to the playground where Naruto had last been seen.

After desperately every inch of the open field, the panicked chunin left the academy grounds and searched around the rest of Konoha for the young boy. He just hoped that Naruto, in his current mental state, wouldn’t do anything rash to put himself in danger.

Iruka searched everywhere he could think of to find Naruto but there was still no sign of the boy to be seen. None of the villagers he questioned were being helpful either, only snickering at the mention of the Naruto’s name. Iruka even passed by the orphanage to see if he had returned there, fearful that the boy would subject himself to their tortures once more because of his feeling of inadequacy, but there was no sign of him anywhere.

After desperately searching for hours on end, exploring every inch of the village, the sun eventually descended bellow the horizon making way for the cold night sky. The scarred man was about to lose all hope of finding Naruto, stopping on one of the rooftops to catch his breath, until Mizuki suddenly appeared before him with a panicked look on his face.

“Irukai-san, thank goodness I finally found you! Lord Hokage has an urgent message! Naruto has stolen the scroll of sealing and left the village with it in his possession!”

The scarred chunin felt his heart drop as the words reached his ears and filled his mind. If what Mizuki said was true, then it was a grave situation indeed. There was only one other place Naruto might have gone too, especially if he was trying to hide. It was a secluded area, but one that Iruka himself often wandered to after he had lost his parents. The chunin gave a grateful nod to Mizuki and then took off across the rooftops, praying with all his heart that his hunch was correct.

Naruto felt like his heart was going to explode as he finally collapsed next to an old abandoned shed on the far side of the village. Carrying the giant scroll Mizuki had instructed him to acquire had been far more difficult than he would have expected, and the mere effort of doing so had taken fatigued him greatly.

However, the boy still managed to smile triumphantly despite his exhaustion, and after allowing himself a moment to regain his breath, he carefully removed the large scroll that he carried on his back and let out a relieved sigh.

Somehow, against all possible odds, he had managed to slip out of the Hokage tower with his prize firmly in his grasp without so much as a single witness to see his actions. Naruto could feel his chest swelling with what could be described as pride, knowing that most shinobi would have been caught attempting such a dangerous feat, but he quickly pushed away his feelings and set out to his next task. The boy quickly opened the scroll, allowing it to carefully unravel on the ground, and then began to read the first technique.

“Ka… ge Bu… Bunshi… um, bunshin… no Jutsu. Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!”

The boy cringed in frustration as he tried to grasp the words written inside. He finally managed to make out the name of the technique but when he tried to read the instructions, his mind became lost once more.

His eyes slowly made their way over each sentence time and time again, desperately trying to remember the meaning of each symbol, but after a few more failed attempts, he sank to the ground in defeat.

“Why… why can’t I just get it? Why can’t I ever do anything…”

Iruka continued to make his way to his destination as fast as his tired muscles would allow, finally arriving at the cluster of trees that bordered a small forest at the end of the village. After traveling for a few more minutes after entering into the secluded area, he finally caught sight of the small clearing that jutted out from the dense growth that surrounded it, as well as the wooden shed that marked its centre.

There, in the middle of the open expanse, right next to the small structure, was the slouching form of a young blond boy, kneeling on the earth with his face imbedded firmly in his cupped hands. Iruka gave out a long due sigh of relief as he realized that he had finally found Naruto and then proceeded into the clearing, landing next to where the missing student knelt.

Naruto made no effort to move from his despite the sudden commotion, so Iruka motioned to place his hands on the youngster’s shoulder to earn his attention, as well as the wavering and clearly upset blue eyes that moved to meet his gaze. Naruto’s brows furrowed slightly into a frown once he realized who it was that had found him and the unmistakable look of disappointment was clearly noticeable in his expression.

“I… Iruka-sensei… I couldn’t do it… I tried so hard but I just couldn’t read it.” Iruka knelt down beside the boy and locked into his desperate gaze, somewhat confused by the shaky words that fell from Naruto’s mouth.

“Naruto… what are you talking about? Why did you take the scroll of sealing from the Hokage tower? Don’t you know how dangerous it is?” Naruto simply wiped his eyes of the emotions that had gathered in them and then moved to close the mentioned scroll once more, before fixing its bindings back into place. He then looked back up to his sensei and let out a deep sigh.

“Mizuki-sensei told me that if I learned a technique from this scroll, that the academy would let me pass the exam. I tried my best to do it, but… but I just couldn’t…” Iruka’s eyes widened in surprise at the explanation and he felt his heart sink in as a sudden realization struck him.

“Mizuki… told you that?!” The chunin quickly shot back to his feet again not a second later, pulling Naruto up of the ground as well at the same time.

“Naruto, we need to get out of here quickly…”

Before the Iruka could finish, a sudden whistling sound erupted from the nearby trees. The scarred chunin quickly spun around and slammed his palm into Naruto’s chest and sent the boy hurtling to the ground just before a wave of kunai flew into the his own body, pinning him up against the nearby wooden shed.

“S… so that’s how it is… Mizuki.” The scarred chunin quickly looked up to see the said man standing on a nearby tree.

“Hahaha! Iruka, it seems as though you’re getting soft.” The man sneered boastfully. “Allowing such a simple attack to take you by surprise? I must say I’m rather disappointed, but still, I’m glad you managed to lead me straight to Naruto.”

Naruto simply looked between the two chunin in complete confusion, trying to discern what exactly was happening.

“W… what’s going on? Why are you attacking Iruka-sensei?”

Mizuki managed a dark chuckle in response to the boy’s alarm, amused by the ramblings of the innocent mind he had so easily manipulated.

“Don’t you get it brat? Are you really that naive? The only reason I asked you to get the scroll was so that I could take it for myself. Of course the village would readily blame you for its disappearance, especially considering the truth about what you really are.” Naruto, looked over to his sensei in his confusion, hoping that the man would make sense of Mizuki’s words.

“I… Iruka-sensei, what does he mean? What is he talking about?”

“Don’t listen to him Naruto!” The man cried desperately. “He’s just trying to…”

“Oh stop Iruka!” Mizuki cut him off. “We both know the truth about what happened those ten years ago. That stupid rule can’t protect Naruto forever.” The said boy became even more confused than before.

“What are you talking about? What rule?!” By now, Naruto’s panic had escalated to the point of becoming overwhelming and his heart now throbbed painfully in his chest. He didn’t know what was going on, but the young boy couldn’t help the sudden feeling of dread that had washed over him. The silver haired chunin that looked down at them let out another dark chuckle, relishing in the pain he could see clearly in Naruto’s eyes.

“I’m sure you’ve heard about the monster fox that attacked our village ten years ago…” he began. “… the one that was defeated when the Fourth Hokage sacrificed himself to stop it. Well ever since that fateful day, a rule was passed down into the village, a rule that only you, Naruto Uzumaki, were never allowed to know about.”

“Mizuki stop it! It’s forbidden to say anything more!” Iruka shouted once more. Mizuki simply ignored his fellow instructor’s cries and continued to focus on the boy before him.

“What was it? What was the rule?” Naruto gulped. The silver haired chunin grinned wickedly, anticipating the sight of seeing the youngster break apart before his very eyes.

“The rule was that no-one was ever allowed mention that you are in fact the Nine-tailed fox.”

Naruto felt his heart clench painfully as Mizuki’s words hit him square in the chest, and he couldn’t help his eyes widen as the shock began to wash over him. Mizuki, seeing his reaction, simply smiled at the broken sight that met his gaze.

“That’s right!” He continued.” You’re the very monster that almost destroyed our entire village and killed Iruka’s parents. Didn’t you ever wonder why everyone looked at you the way they did, why they locked you away in an orphanage and kept you from the rest of the village? Why do you think you were tortured all your life?”

Suddenly everything started to make sense for the boy. Naruto’s entire life, the way he was treated so cruelly by those around him, the beatings he received at the orphanage and the pain of loss he felt when he looked in the warden’s eyes, it all came together in a sickening realization.

Iruka watched on with a heavy heart as the tears began to fall from Naruto’s eyes, tears that Naruto himself did not even realize he had begun to shed. He knew the boy was just simply too young to understand what was happening, too vulnerable to handle such a terrible truth so soon, and he couldn’t help but cringe knowing what pain it must have caused him.

In the uneasy silence that followed, Mizuki removed one of the large Dai shuriken that was fastened firmly to the holster on his back and spun it around in his hand, the sickening grin never once falling from his expression.

“Now I’ll just kill you both and take the scroll for myself. The village will declare me a hero for killing the monster and I’ll just say the scroll was destroyed!” The chunin then hurled the projectile at the defenseless boy before him, who was now frozen in both fear and disbelief.

“Naruto get down!!!” Naruto instinctively reacted to his sensei’s call, falling to the ground with his arms covering his head. A sickening crack sounded into the boy’s ears and when he looked up again Iruka was planted firmly above him, shielding Naruto from the impending blow.

“Iruka-sensei…. why?” Iruka let out a cough of blood, wincing in pain as the sharp edge of the weapon protruded from his back.

“Be… because, you’re just like me Naruto. I know what it feels like to be alone and unwanted. After I lost my parents, no-one recognized me anymore, so I acted like the class clown to gain everyone’s attention. It was… so painful, but I never managed to notice you going through the same pain, I didn’t pay enough attention to your sadness and grief. Maybe if I was more aware I could have acted sooner and things would have been better. I… I’m so sorry…” Mizuki jumped down from his perch and laughed in amusement.

“Hahaha! Do you really believe him Naruto? He just wants the scroll back. He doesn’t care what happens to you. How could he possibly ever love the very monster that killed his parents?”

Naruto turned his head away from the chunin above him, to ashamed to even look into the man’s eyes. He then shifted the sealing scroll onto his back and darted off into the woods as fast as his legs could carry him, his mind now reeling in sadness and confusion.

“Naruto!!!”

Iruka’s cries simply fell onto deaf ears as he watched the youngster disappear from view, leaving a trail of falling tears behind his back.

“See Iruka? We both know he’s going to use the scroll to get revenge on the village.” Iruka slowly stood to his feet and pulled the weapon out from his back, despite the pain that rung throughout his body. He would not allow Mizu to win; he would allow Naruto to be harmed any more.

“Naruto’s not like that!” He spat viciously, before hurling the projectile at a snickering Mizuki. The chunin simply dodged the attack and glanced back with a menacing smile.

“You’re really pathetic if you think that monster is just going to forgive everyone that wronged him his entire life. It’s better for the entire village that I kill him right now before he does anything. Once I’m done with him, I’ll come back and finish you off.” Mizuki then disappeared into the trees, leaving the wounded Iruka behind.

“We’ll see about that!”

A young boy quickly rushed through the passing trees as fast as his feet could carry him, desperately trying to escape the pain and anger he felt deep inside. As he made his way from branch to branch, Iruka finally managed to somehow catch up to him. The boy looked back with narrowed eyes as the man approached his side, regarding him with a great deal of mistrust.

“Naruto, you need to give me the scroll right away!!! Mizuki is trying to take it from…”

Before the chunin could finish, Naruto leapt up from the branch he landed on and slammed his knee into the man’s stomach. Iruka fell from the air soon afterwards and slammed into the ground with a resounding thud followed soon after by the tired boy that he had been chasing.

Naruto then stepped back from the struggling figure in front of him and leaned against a nearby tree, his exhaustion clearly getting the better of him.

“Naruto… how did you know? How did you know I wasn’t Iruka?” The Iruka figure was enveloped in a puff of smoke, revealing the true identity of Mizuki as the henge that disguised him dissipated. Naruto let out a small chuckle before being enveloped in his own small cloud of smoke as well.

“That’s because… I’m Iruka!”

Mizuki hissed angrily as the form of his chunin counterpart was revealed before him. He then stood up from the floor and wiped the blood that trickled from his mouth, scowling heavily as he realized he had been tricked into chasing a false lead. Unknown to both of them, the real Naruto was quietly listening from behind a nearby tree, hiding himself from both of their views.

“Why do you fight to protect that little beast?” Mizuki began again. “You of all people should know by now that the monster would try to use the scroll for his own desires.”

It pained the boy to hear him being referred to as nothing more than a beast.

‘Does Iruka-sensei see me as monster as well?’ He thought quietly to himself, huddling up closer to the scroll in his arms. ‘Does he hate me too…?’

“You’re right…” Naruto felt his heart sink as he recognized Iruka’s voice speaking up in reply.

‘I… I knew it. Iruka doesn’t acknowledge me either. No one does. They all hate me, they all just want to hurt me as much as possible…’

However, before Naruto’s thoughts could continue, Iruka suddenly continued.

“… a monster would do something that…” Naruto’s head propped up again as the words reached him once more, his heart filling with a sudden hope as he continued to listen carefully.

“… but Naruto isn’t a monster, he’s a special boy who I’ve come to love and acknowledge. He’s had to live a hard life at the hands of the cruelty of others because of something that happened a long time ago, something he never even had any part or say in, but even still, despite all of that hatred shown to him, he knows how recognize the pain in another person’s heart and he alway’s shows kindness to everyone around him. He isn’t a monster; he’s a member of the village hidden in the leaves. He’s Naruto Uzumaki of Konoha and he is a special student of mine.”

Naruto felt the tears stream his whiskered cheeks as the words sank into his racing heart. To hear Iruka say that about him, even though the man was not aware of his presence, it just had to be true. Someone finally acknowledged Naruto for who he really was and the boy couldn’t help the overwhelming emotions that latched onto him. Mizuki, however, simply let out a frustrated sneer before pulling the remaining Dai shuriken from the holster on his back.

“Fine, then so be it. I said I was going to kill you later, but I guess that now I’ve changed my mind!” The chunin then spun the projectile in his hand again and proceeded to charge his prey, fully intent to kill the man before him in a single, powerful blow.

“DIE NOW!!”

Iruka closed his eyes in a last effort to prepare himself for the inevitable blow. He knew there wasn’t anything he could do to avoid it, but even still he could not help the regret that tore at his soul.

‘Naruto, I’m sorry, I wish it wouldn’t end this way but it seems as though this is it for me. I hope you get far away from here and to safety. I just wish I could have continued to look after you, to see you happy again, but it looks like I’ve failed to keep you safe…’

As Iruka’s thought continued to race through his mind, a sharp cry suddenly called out from the nearby trees, bringing the chunin’s eyes to attention once more as they sprang open in their surprise.

“NO!!! Don’t hurt Iruka-sensei!”

The chunin then watched in stunned silence as Naruto ran out from behind the nearby tree and rammed into the attacking Mizuki, causing his impending attack to veer off course and fly into the nearby bushes. The silver haired chunin looked down at the nuisance that stood beneath him and growled in frustration, before backhanding the boy in the face, much to Iruka’s distress, and watching as he slammed firmly into the ground.

“Do you really think a dead-last academy student could defeat a chunin like me?”

Mizuki then walked over to the small, quivering boy as he lay on the ground and delivered a powerful kick to his chest, sending him sprawling across the grass in a yelp of pain, before landing just in front of his sensei.

“No! Naruto!”

Iruka tried to move over to the boy in an effort to help him, only to be halted by the crippling pain of his own wounds. He could only watch in agony as Mizuki walked over to the crying heap on the floor, ready to finish off the boy with a final blow.

“Once I’m done with you…” He snickered cruelly. “I’ll kill your idiotic sensei as well!”

However, much to the chunin’s surprise, Naruto began to shuffle on the ground once more and slowly picked himself back up to his feet. He then squeezed his eyes closed in agony as the pain from his fractured ribs shot throughout his entire body, but still stood his ground despite the pain.

“I… I wont let you hurt him! He’s the only one who ever loved me, the only one who ever cared for me and gave me a home. I WON’T LET YOU HURT IRUKA-SENSEI!!!!”

Naruto’s eyes then shot back open, revealing the golden shimmer that glared back the chunin in place of his normal blue irisis.

“Ngghhh!!! AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!”

Mizuki screamed out in pain as his gaze locked with Naruto’s own, stumbling back on his feet in a seemingly delusional panic. Iruka watched on in wonder and disbelief as the other man fell to the floor soon afterwards, squirming in complete agony as his blood chilling cries echoed out into the icy nighttime air. After a few more fleeting moments of pain, Mizuki finally fell deftly silent again, passing out of consciousness due to the massive trauma he had obviously experienced.

Naruto’s eyes slowly returned to their normal blue shade soon afterwards and the boy once again found himself being gripped back into reality. He didn’t know what actually happened, but he was relieved it was finally over. It was almost as though his body reacted on its own accord, as if responding to the raw emotion’s he felt inside. He painfully turned around to face the man behind him, only to be met by Iruka’s relieved tears.

“I… Iruka-sensei!” Naruto then jumped into his teacher’s arms, ignoring the shooting pain in his own chest, and cried in relief as his arms squeezed tightly around the man’s waist. The older man let out a small wince of pain from the sudden motion, but began stroking Naruto’s back in a soothing manner despite his own discomfort, if only to ease the boy’s tension.

“It’s alright, you’re safe now.” He whispered gently. “He wont hurt us any more.”

Iruka then felt a sudden warmth flow into his body, easing the pain of his wounds until they almost disappeared all together. After a few minutes of simply basking in the relief that washed over them both, Naruto finally pulled back from Iruka’s hold and looked into his sensei’s eyes.

“Iruka, do you… I mean… am I really a monster like Mizuki said?” Iruka gave off a warm smile and then placed his hand on the boy’s stomach.

“Naruto… It’s not about what’s in here that’s important” He offered gently, before moving his hand up to Naruto’s chest.

“It’s about what’s in here that determines you who you really are deep inside.” He then patted the area around Naruto’s heart, gaining an understanding smile from the boy.

Naruto then moved his hands up and grabbed Iruka’s own, pulling it off from his chest and holding it up against his whiskered cheeks. The boy simply closed his eyes as he continued to hold it there and allowed himself to bathe in the comforting and genuine emotions that flowed from Iruka’s touch.

The chunin himself smiled gently as Naruto’s tears continued to run down the side of his face and over Iruka’s hand, knowing that they were no longer tears of pain that fell from his eyes, but rather ones of relief and happiness. The boy then looked back up at him and presented a newfound grin, which Iruka returned in kind.

“Alright, come on kiddo, I think it’s time we got back home, it is way past your bed time.”

Iruka gained a small chuckle from the boy in response and then slowly stood up from the ground, surprised to feel almost no pain from the areas around his wounds. He kept a hold on Naruto’s hand, never once letting go in the slightest, and began to lead the boy out of the woods and back home once more.

“Iruka-sensei, what about Mizuki? Are we just going to leave him there?”

“Oh, don’t worry about him.” Iruka grinned in response. “I’ll send some shinobi out to retrieve him after we get back to the village. If it’s anything like what happened to the other guy, I doubt he’ll be waking up for a long time to come.”

The two then made their way back towards the village walls, Iruka not once letting go of the precious boy beside him. They would need a good night’s rest after the events of this evening and he would have to give a full report to the Hokage in the morning. Naruto just relished in his sensei’s comforting hold and allowed himself to be lead on without any fear or doubt left in his heart.

The man loved him despite everything he knew about the boy and Naruto never wanted to lose the precious bond that had now formed between them. He would always cherish every moment he shared with the man he considered a father.

This I consider to be one of the more difficult chapters I have written and not particularly the best of my work. It still turned out all right though so I hope you all enjoyed it.

Notes:

Kage Bunshin no Jutsu = Shadow Clone Jutsu

~ by Tenrai Senshi on July 19, 2009.

One Response to “Eyes of the Broken Soul:Chapter 3 -Examination Day”

  1. wow, aint this a long chapter? u are very good at fanfics, ten. 😉

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