Shattered Innocence – Chapter 1 – The Call of Darkness

Shattered Innocence

Note: This story takes place after the first attack on Konoha and Naruto’s fight with Gaara and just shortly after Tsunade became the Fifth Hokage.

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

Beta reader: Kiiroi Senko! XD

This fanfic belongs to me. If you want to use it in any way shape or form, you’ll need my permission first.

Hello everyone. This story is actually an enhanced version of the first story I ever wrote and also the one that introduced me into the world of writing. It isn’t quite as developed as “Eyes of the Broken Soul” but I still think I did a nice job of it.

However, being my first story, it also had its stains as well, which I have done my best to repair, but now it’s looking better than it had when I first wrote it.

I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1 – The Call of Darkness

The light sparkle of soft, warm sunlight slowly crept across the river that bordered the training grounds of Konoha, causing it to glisten brightly in a dance of illuminate shades of orange and gold while three eager genin waited not so patiently on the bridge it flowed gently underneath. The sharp evidence of suggestive taunts and insults scattered throughout the cool morning air, betraying the evidence of an argument and disturbing the otherwise blissful peace.

It was just another day in the village of Konoha as Team Seven waited for their ever late sensei, who had still yet to make his usual flashy appearance. Naruto and Sasuke were once again bickering with each other over some meaningless debate while Sakura was once again desperately trying to calm them both down, much to her own growing lack of success.

After a few failed attempts at what many would regard a wasted effort, the pink haired girl finally gave up with an exhausted sigh, before spinning on her heels and walking over to the edge of the bridge that they had gotten all to familiar with.

‘These two will never learn will they?’ She thought quietly to herself, suppressing a disgruntled huff as she ran her fingers through her hair. ‘I mean it’s not like we haven’t done this enough times already…’

As if to calm her wavering tension, a small breeze suddenly picked up in the air, gently caressing the young genin in a cool embrace while tickling her pink locks of hair against her cheeks. Sakura just leaned quietly against the edge of the wooden bridge and stared at her wavering reflection as it glimmered and danced atop the water’s surface, while enjoying the soothing comfort of the warm sunlight touching against her face, the bickering of her teammates now becoming nothing but a faint whisper as her thoughts began to flood her mind.

She couldn’t help remembering back on everything that had happened over the past few weeks in the chaos of the chunin exams, from the attack on Konoha by Orochimaru, to the battle with Gaara and how Naruto and Sasuke fought to protect her from harm. The girl couldn’t help the small flash of a smile that appeared on her face, or the deep sigh that left her lips, although it didn’t go unnoticed by her two colleagues.

“Sakura-chan?”

Sakura immediately snapped out of her trance only to see Naruto’s hand waving in front of her eyes, clearly given away by the bright orange sleeve that adorned his wrist. She then turned around to see two sets of eyes staring at her, blue ones filled with worry and concern, while dark grey ones held what could only be described as a knowing glint.

“You zoned out there for a second.” Sasuke smirked, showing an unusual amount of humor in his expression.

“Are you alright? You looked like you were daydreaming…” Naruto continued in his stead, clearly worried about his female teammate.

It was hardly a secret that the boy had always had a crush on Sakura, mostly because of his numerous and unrelenting displays of affection that were often promptly squashed, much to his own embarrassment, and it was something that Sasuke couldn’t help but take advantage of.

“Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything about you, dobe…” The Uchiha quipped with a small grin appearing on his otherwise stoic expression.

He was satisfied, of course, to see the blond’s face redden in frustration following his jab, the other boy now completely forgetting about his concern and replacing it with nothing but loathing anger.

“What’s that supposed to mean, Sasuke-teme?!?!” Bingo! The bait had landed its prey…

“Who are you calling a teme, idiot?!?!” The dark haired boy retorted, with just as much enthusiasm.

“Oh well, there they go again…” Sakura sighed, before looking back up at her teammates with a tired expression.

The argument hadn’t even lasted a whole of ten seconds and Sasuke already had Naruto trapped in a headlock, all the while shouting insulting profanities into the blond boy’s ear. Of course, his opponent wasn’t going to take things lying down and was desperately trying to escape the Uchiha’s grasp.

Sakura could only smile as she took in the scene she had gotten all too used to witnessing over the past few months that they had spent with one another, while thinking quietly to herself of just how fond she had grown of the two of boys. Even despite the fact that Naruto often irritated her beyond belief, she found herself realizing just how important the blond was to her and how she would be there for him like he had always been for her.

*Poof!*

Thankfully for the girl’s failing patience, Kakashi finally made his arrival in a flashy display of smoke as he puffed into existence, holding the distinctive bright evidence of small orange book in his hand that all three youngsters had become all too familiar with seeing. Both Naruto and Sasuke immediately disengaged their deadlock before turning to glare at the late arrival with deepened scowls etched clearly onto their expressions.

“You kept us waiting for two whole hours!!!! What took you so long!?!?!” Kakashi was just about to reiterate the excuse he had been concocting on the way over to them, but he was cut off before he even had the chance to utter a single syllable.

“And don’t give us that nonsense about helping some old lady with her shopping bags!!!!!” The masked jounin just let out a wavering, lazy sigh, doing little to hide his obvious disappointment.

“Damn, I guess that means I’ve used that excuse before, haven’t I?”

“Five times this month already…” Naruto retorted sharply. “This would have been the sixth time…”

“Wow! That’s impressive…” All of them turned to Sasuke as he spoke in a near whisper, although he was sure to be loud enough to be heard. Naruto just raised his eyebrows curiously.

“What?” The blond asked cautiously, causing the Uchiha to suppress another confident smirk. “What’s so impressive???”

“Oh, I’m just surprised that the ‘dobe’ can count after all…”

The brief moment of eerie silence that followed was only marred by the rustling of leaves as they swayed in the gentle breeze and even Kakashi could have sworn that he heard a pin drop on the other side of the village. It hardly lasted long, however, and soon the two boys were at it again, causing both their sensei and Sakura to shake their heads dismissively.

“Sheesh, when will you guys give me a break? I have enough grey hairs as it is without you two giving me any more. Next thing you know, I’m going to start balding, although that would save me money on hair gels. Anyway don’t you want to hear about the mission we have today?”

Naruto’s eyes immediately widened with glee at the thought of what they might be doing and he did little to hide his excitement. Kakashi silently wondered if the blond genin might have just spontaneously combusted on the spot, although that would do little to help the integrity of the wooden bridge underneath their feet.

‘I wonder what we’re doing today??? Will it be an awesome B-rank mission or… or maybe we’ll finally get an A-rank mission for once!!!’

However, despite his excitement, Naruto’s thoughts and hopes were abruptly shattered as Kakashi opened his mouth to speak, announcing the mission they would be receiving for the day.

“Today…. we are all helping to rebuild the Ninja academy!” The masked jounin announced cheerfully, knowing all to well the response he was going to get.

“What!?!?!?” Naruto cried in anguish, gaining a predictable sigh from his sensei. “We’re ninja of Konoha, not some construction crew!!!”

The boy was clearly upset by what he thought was a complete waste of his skills and even Sakura and Sasuke seemed a little bit disappointed, although they at least managed to hide it better. With another deep sigh Kakashi started to explain.

“Look Naruto, Konoha is still trying to recover from Orochimaru’s attack and is currently in a weakened state. If we don’t work hard to rebuild as quickly as possible we could be under threat of another attack.”

“But…” Naruto started before Kakashi quickly cut him off again.

“BUT WE have a duty to protect our village and its people above all else, including our own personal desires, and right now the best way to do that is by helping to rebuild it together. The sooner we get Konoha back on its feet, the sooner we will start getting more high ranked missions flowing in again.” Naruto just sank in defeat. It was hard to argue with the masked jounin when he put it that way.

“Fine!!! Lets get going…” The boy groaned distastefully, putting a smile on his sensei’s face.

After that, the team made their way over to the ninja academy, where they immediately got to work under Iruka’s supervision. Naruto and Sasuke were clearly still in a competitive mood, because soon after they started with their work, their rivalry sparked off a competition as to who could get the most done in one day.

Naruto had a major advantage in numbers, however, and he wasted little time in conjuring up a small army of blond clones to assist him in his task, while making quick work of their repairs. Although the orange clad genin would have faired a lot better if it weren’t for his own clumsiness. Sakura herself was just content to leave the two boys to their own devices, especially if it meant taking some of the load away from her own hands.

Iruka, on the other hand, couldn’t help the smile that etched itself onto his features as he looked on at his orange-clad former student, who now seemed to be much happier than he had ever appeared before, with friends that he cared for by his side. To see the boy laughing and smiling genuinely was something that warmed the chunin’s heart. Naruto was finally happy, he could tell that much just by the glow he saw in his cerulean eyes.

“He’s getting a lot better now, isn’t he?” Iruka turned around to see Kakashi walking up to him, with his small orange book still firmly in hand. The scarred chunin’s smile widened even further at that and he let out a deep sigh of content.

“Yeah… I suppose he is. I can see that he’s a lot stronger than he ever has been before. I think he just needed someone to be there for him, even if only as a friend.”

Iruka still couldn’t help but worry though. He knew all too well how the villager saw Naruto, as nothing more than the monster that had destroyed their lives and taken away their loved ones. The boy had managed to survive their cruel glares and hateful wispers this far, but the chunin couldn’t help but worry that they might take their hatred even further than that one day. After all even the smallest snowfall can sometimes be enough to start an avalanche.

He only wished that he could show everyone else what he saw in the blue-eyed boy he had come to think of as his own son.

After a long day of working non-stop, the sun finally began to make its way slowly over to the horizon, setting the sky ablaze in a colourful painting of oranges and pinks. Team Seven had now regrouped just outside of the academy and were saying their good-byes for the evening, all content with what they had achieved in such a short space of time.

Naruto’s and Sasuke’s rivalry had pushed the two beyond the call of duty and Iruka could only marvel at how much they had managed to achieve in one day of work, no doubt because of their competitive natures and unwillingness to lose to one-another. The chunin quickly sent the blond haired boy on his way with a light, affectionate tap on the head, before watching him trot out of the front gates and falling alongside Sasuke, who was also ready to leave. The boy only turned around to face them when he realized that someone wasn’t with them.

“Aren’t you coming Sakura-chan?” He called back, noticing that the girl was still standing with Kakashi and Iruka.

“Not just yet.” She replied. “You two go on ahead, I just need to talk to Kakashi-sensei for a moment. I’ll be fine for tonight.”

Naruto just bowed his head in disappointment and then started on his way home, with Sasuke walking at his side. It was a few minutes before either one of them spoke, although surprisingly enough, it was the Uchiha who eventually broke the silence.

“Well, it looks like I won again… loser.” The dark haired boy quipped nonchalantly.

“What do you mean ‘you won’??? I’d never lose to you, Sasuke-teme!!!!” Before Naruto could get any further than that, Sasuke interrupted him with a raised hand, halting the boy in his tracks.

“Well, I guess this is where turn off. The Uchiha district is down this way. Don’t get lost on your way home loser…” Naruto was about to retort, but found himself unable to find any real comeback. So instead, he just replied as normally as possible.

“Don’t worry, I won’t. Oh… and Sasuke…” Naruto’s voice suddenly dropped into a far softer tone, something that surprised the dark haired boy listening to him.

“It… it was fun today…” Sasuke simply turned his back on the boy and continued to walk his way home, only raising his hand up to wave goodbye.

“I… guess it was fun…” He murmured under his breath, with an ever so slight grin appearing on his face. Luckily, his words weren’t loud enough for the blond to hear, otherwise he would never live it down. Naruto just watched as his friend walked out of view, before letting out a deep sigh.

“Friend… he is my friend now, isn’t he?” The boy was just about to continue home when a cold voice called from the corner, halting him in his tracks.

“Why would that Uchiha kid be friends with a monster like you!”

Naruto turned to the source of the voice, only to see a tall, dark haired man walk out from the shadow of a nearby alleyway. His eyes burned with a dark hatred that, with a single glance, burned into Naruto’s heart with his convicting stare. Behind him were even more villagers and even what looked to be shinobi, judging by their uniforms, all holding sticks and branches or other makeshift weapons. Some of them even had pots and bottles and other household items firmly in their grasp.

“What’s going on? What do you want with me???” Naruto took startled step backwards, his own survival instincts quickly guiding him away from the mob and warning him of the danger he was now in. He couldn’t help the fearful gulp that caught at the back of his throat, or the panic that gripped his heart.

“You stupid little monster!!!! My family is dead because of you!!!! Don’t act so innocent, we all know you’re not just a child!!!!” The man then walked up to the blond boy, batting a wooden plank into his hand.

“Now… now you’ll pay for your crimes and for the ones you took away from us…” Two shinobi then came up from either side and grabbed Naruto’s arms before he could move to get away. The boy’s struggles to get free quickly proved futile and soon his body simply resigned to the fate that now encroached on him.

“No… please… it wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything wrong!!!” Naruto’s cries fell on deaf ears and soon the mob closed in around him, holding him the cold glares of their dark, convicting eyes.

The shallow sound of shuffling feet whispered across the cool night air as a young kunoichi slowly made her way home, pushing through the dusty streets of Konoha while her aching joints pointedly reminded her of the labor she had partaken in that day. Sakura held her arms in a tight hug as the tried her best to keep herself warm in the icy night chill, rubbing her shoulders briskly to create any kind of friction she could muster.

“It was so warm today, why is it getting so cold tonight? If I knew that it would be like this I would have brought a jacket with me.” The girl just let out a deep, shuddering breath, before shaking off the icy chill that ran down her spine.

The moon had already all but disappeared from the sky, following its monthly cycle, leaving only a small illuminated crescent shape remaining amongst the stars, so their was little light being provided by its scant illumination. It was unusually dark in the village of Konoha and that, coupled with the sudden icy weather, gave the eerie impression that there was an ill omen being carried by the wind.

Sakura quickly closed her eyes in concentration, before pushing chakra through her body in order to warm it up a bit, knowing that it was now getting dangerously cold. She had always been good at controlling her chakra, being able to send it back and forth to any part of her body when needed, so it took very little effort to help control her body temperature.

‘I hope Naruto made it home in time.’ She thought quietly to herself, knowing that Naruto’s chakra control was as sufficiently developed yet. The pink-haired girl knew that Sasuke would be fine, but she couldn’t help worrying about her other blond counterpart.

“Oh stop being such a worry-wart Sakura, he probably got home ages ago and he wears that massive jacket of his all the time anyway!”

Sakura quickly shook off the knot that formed in her stomach, but it did little to help the uneasy thoughts that gnawed at the back of her mind. She soon found herself wandering back onto the conversation she had with her sensei only a few hours before.

FLASHBACK:

“Kakashi sensi, I’m a bit worried about something. It’s… it’s about Naruto.”

Kakashi looked over towards Sakura in a startled surprise. It was odd for her to worry about her blond teammate at all, much less admit to anyone that she did, so his curiosity quickly got the better of him.

‘Well, it looks like the team is finally growing together a bit more.’ He mused to himself before answering.

“What seems to be the problem Sakura?” The girl just stared down to her feet, shuffling her toes along the ground while holding he hands idly behind her back. He didn’t know whether it was because she was embraced or just afraid, so he tried to appear as inviting as possible, if only to ease her tension.

“Well… I’ve kinda started noticing things, you know… um… well…” The girl then took a deep breath. “I… I don’t know how to ask this, but…”

“It’s alright Sakura, you can tell me what your thinking. I wont say anything to anyone if that’s what you’re worried about.” The girl just let out a deep breath and nodded her head in understanding before finally voicing her concern.

“… Is there… something wrong with Naruto?” Kakashi’s only visible eye widened in light of the query presented to him.

“Wrong? What do you mean?”

“I don’t know…” The girl respond uneasily. “It’s just… it’s the way everyone seems to look at him. I’ve started noticing that everyone looks at him as though he has some sort of contagious disease, like he is unwanted.”

The masked jounin was now shocked beyond belief, but he expertly hid his expression lest his student catch onto his surprise. Sakura never noticed things like this about Naruto before when they first started out as Team Seven. Then again, back then she only thought of him as an nuisance. Now it seemed as though she really regarded him as a friend.

“It’s nice of you to worry, but don’t let it get to you, Naruto is a strong person…”

“But why?!” Sakura cut him off short. “Why do they look at him with those eyes?!” Kakashi let out a deep sigh before answering as best he could without giving anything away.

“Naruto has had a… complicated… past. Let’s just say that it involves an event that happened a while ago that people find hard to forget.”

“Did Naruto do something… wrong?” Sakura asked carefully, concern now becoming evident in her voice.

“No, he didn’t do anything wrong.” Kakashi quickly assured her. “In fact it has nothing to do with what he did at all, but rather what everyone thinks he did.” Sakura was now completely confused, but Kakashi quickly reassured her with his famous ‘eye-smile’, before placing a hand on her shoulder to comfort her as best as he could.

“Don’t worry too much about it, I’ll take care of him. You just make sure you’re there as his friend, no matter what happens, alright? That’s all he needs…”

FLASHBACK END.

Sakura tightened her grip around herself as the icy wind howled around her, shrieking and whistling under the near moonless sky. As she walked past the front gates of Konoha, a sudden fear started to sneak its way into her mind. The abrupt wisp of clattering shutters and rustling leaves quickly snapped her to attention, causing her to carefully glance around to see if their was anyone else nearby.

‘Maybe I should have asked Kakashi-sensei to walk me home…’ She mused thoughtfully.

Just then, something caught at the corner of her eye. The gates to the village were wide open, creaking and winding as the wind rocked them back and forth. The girl’s gaze was drawn even further out before settling on the faint trace of a glowing light as it flickered in the distance, sputtering in the wind that rustled through the leaves.

‘I wonder who would be all the way out there in this cold…’

Sakura slowly made her way over to the village entrance, now holding her hand against her chest to ease the sudden discomfort that gripped her heart. She couldn’t help but feel uneasy, as though her mind was warning her of something wrong.

“Maybe someone’s in trouble. I better go and have a look, just in case…”

The pink-haired girl made her way through the giant wooden gates and then headed out into the forest that bordered Konoha’s walls, while searching for the source of the light, but as she got closer a strange scene met her eyes. There were a few burned out torches lying around, sprawled across the earth, even some broken bottles and sticks.

“What on earth was going on here???” The girl then pushed even deeper, allowing her instinct to carry her forward while guiding her through the trees. After a few minutes of walking, she entered a small clearing hidden in the forest, carrying her gaze to a startling scene.

What she saw stunned her completely. Small pieces of torn material were scattered all over the forest floor, some of them even covered in blood. Wooden planks and some broken glass bottles were also present along the ground, amongst many other items, including bloodied kunai.

It almost looked like something akin to a war zone, only there was no sign of any struggling or resistance. It was then that the kunoichi suddenly noticed the colour of the material that littered the floor. It was orange. Sakura’s heart suddenly froze in panic while a wavering gasp left her lips.

“No… it couldn’t be, could it?”

The flickering torch that she had seen earlier now caught her eyes again, drawing her across the clearing towards the source of soft light. As she approached the tree it stood under Sakura was compelled by a sickening fear to look up. As she raised her head skywards, her eyes widened in terror, before filling with tears.

“No… NO!”

What she saw, in all her horror, was the young boy that had become one of her closest friends, now hanging from the tree with his neck tied in a noose and his hands tied behind his back. His cloths were torn and battered and blood stained most of its surface. His body was also filled with cuts and bruises, betraying the evidence of a horrible torture he had obviously endured. Dry tear stains were also evident on his cold lifeless face, mixing with the dirt and blood that covered it, and Sakura almost collapsed to her knees in shock.

“Someone… someone … SOMEONE HELP!!!”

The pink haired kunoichi quickly pulled out a kunai from her holster, more out of automatic response than actual sense, and hurled it at the rope that held Naruto, snapping it in half and causing the boy’s limp body to fall to the earth. She managed to catch him just before his broken body hit the ground and quickly turned him onto his back, cradling him in her shaking arms.

“N.. Naruto…”

The girls then removed the noose that was tightly tied around Naruto’s bruised neck and placed her hand on an artery to check for a pulse. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity a sudden flicker of faint life could be felt. Causing the girl’s heart to leap into her chest.

“He’s… still alive!!!” Sakura gasped, tears now streaming down her face.

However, her relief was short lived and she knew she had little time to waste. Naruto’s pulse was extremely weak as it was and his body was now icy cold from exposure. If she didn’t get him to Tsunade as quickly as possible, he would die from his injuries.

Sakura quickly cut off the rope that bound Naruto’s hands together with a kunai before standing to her feet with the boy in her arms and stumbling back to Konoha as fast as her feet could carry her.

It took the girl only a few moments to get out of the woods and soon she was quickly passing through the front gates to the village with only a brief stumble to bring her pause, all the while carrying a lifeless Naruto in her arms. He was slightly heavy for her to handle properly with her current strength, but that didn’t matter now. Nothing else mattered except saving her teammate. Saving her… friend.

‘Who would do something like this? Why would someone do this to Naruto?’ Sakura thought bitterly to herself.

Her tears that streamed down the girl’s face only served to hide the sheer amount of determination in her eyes. The kunoichi didn’t even know how she was able to carry Naruto while still retaining the strength to move so fast, but she didn’t care either.

Memories started to flood her mind as she made her way through the dark streets of the village, memories of all the times Naruto had saved her, during the chuunin exams when Orochimaru attacked them and during their fight with Gaara. Even the conversation she had with Kakashi sprang up in amongst other thoughts.

Sakura promptly shook them all off, while regaining focus of what she was doing and remembering the importance of her haste. An inner strength seemed to grip her heart as she raced back towards the Hokage Tower, a strength that she had never felt before in her life.

She would save Naruto, just as he had saved her so many times before. She wasn’t about to let him down.

Alright, that’s it for the first chapter. As I mentioned before, this is an enhanced version of my first ever work, so although it has been improved quite a bit, it is still derived from my first attempt at writing.

It isn’t as good as “Eyes of the Broken Soul”, in my own opinion, and not quite as well developed, although some of its ideas and themes did carry over to a degree. However, it is important to me because it was the start of something I love doing.

I hope everyone likes it.

Credits:

Writer – Me of course!!! XD

Beta – Kiiroi Senko.

~ by Tenrai Senshi on August 5, 2009.

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