Eyes of the Broken Soul chapter : 7

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 7 – New Bonds

 

The cold rush of gently flowing water began to slowly soak the body of a young boy, who’s shattered heart harbors the nightmares and torments of his every fear. The damp Iron labyrinth of pipes and rusted iron slowly came into view once again as Naruto opened his eyes, his body almost completely submerged in the rising water that now threatened to swallow him.

 

“I… I’m back here again?” He gulped, picking himself up from the floor.

 

Naruto took a brief moment to look around the drenched room, only to see the same iron cage that he had witnessed in his dreams before.

 

“I… wonder what this place is? Why do I keep coming back here?”

 

The boy then began to walk towards the iron bars to look at the symbol placed in front of it. He had to try and make out what it said, it was the only way to make sense of what was going on.

 

As we slowly waded through the knee-deep water, whose icy chill seeped deeply into his bones, a large growl resounded throughout the room, hailing from deep behind the iron bars. Naruto froze in his feet as the water shook and rippled around him, his heart filling with the terror of a scared child.

 

Whatever that sound was, it was definitely evil, there was no doubt about it. Naruto tried topter for you to enjoy.

shake off his fears, willing them aside in order to continue, but even still it was hard to swallow the dread that had caught in his throat. It was only a dream after all… he hoped.

 

Naruto began to slowly edge forward once more, his quivering legs carrying him closer to his goal. He clasped his hands together tightly and held them against his chest, trying to shake of the cold that seeped into his bones. Just as he began to pick up his pace once more, the water around him began to stir violently, rising even higher up his body.

 

The boy froze in place once again and he looked down at the threatening advance, his fear of drowning beginning to surface once more.

 

“No…. NO!!!” Naruto cried out in terror as the ensuing rush of water began to rapidly swallow him.

 

The young boy could no longer feel the floor at his feet and soon he was desperately trying to keep himself afloat, splashing his arms in a panicked frenzy.

 

After a few brief moments of struggling, his head eventually sank beneath the waters surface, with his efforts no longer able to keep him afloat, just as he took one last desperate gulp of breath. The air in his lungs slowly began to burn away thereafter as he instinctively grasped out for anything to help him remain afloat, his mind reeling through the sheer terror of his ordeal.

 

“Iruka-sensei, where are you?…” He thought to himself as the icy chill consumed him.

 

Just then another large rumble sounded throughout the water and to Naruto’s ears. The boy opened his eyes and looked into the shadowy abyss that now began to swallow him.

 

He instinctively searched past the iron cage that held the ominous growl only to see two massive, dark red eyes slowly opening behind them, glowing in the eternal darkness beyond.

 

A terrible and malicious voice soon followed afterwards.

 

“So… weak. To be ruled by such fears as these is a weakness that only a child would divulge in. You have caused me a great deal of trouble with these pathetic emotions of yours.”

 

Naruto then closed his eyes again as the voice sounded throughout the waters depths, piercing into his vulnerable heart with all its malice and cruelty. He was desperately hoping and praying that this nightmare would end soon.

 

Just then, as if to answer an unspoken wish Naruto’s eyes shot open once again, revealing the warm safety of his bedroom. The boy looked up to the ceiling above him, gasping for air as he tried to quell his burning lungs.

 

“If… if it was just a dream, then why do I feel like my lungs are still aching?” Naruto murmured to himself, grasping at his chest with his hand.

 

His body was still quivering from the icy chill that had sunk into him.

 

Naruto tried to remove the image of those terrible dark red eyes out of his mind. They were filled with so much malice and hatred that it was enough to break a person’s soul. For Naruto, it was just another reminder of the same eyes that always viewed him with so much cruelty and anger.

 

His soul was already shattered into pieces a long time ago and the only thing keeping him from losing it all together was the kindness of a certain young man.

 

 

The rest of the morning went without much further incident as Naruto went through his usual ritual of showering and then getting dressed and ready for the academy, before eating breakfast with Iruka.

 

He didn’t once mention the nightmare he had while they sat down with one another, mostly because didn’t want to make his sensei worry any more than the man already did. Naruto had decided that he would have to figure this out on his own.

 

Whatever the dream was, it seemed to always play on all of his deepest fears.

 

First, the attack by his warden and Mizuki, along with the cruelty of the villagers and now his newly formed fear of drowning. Then there was the issue of whoever, or whatever, had spoken to him from behind those iron bars. Naruto was beginning to suspect what it was, but he didn’t want to jump to any conclusions just yet.

 

After breakfast was finished, the two of them left the house and headed over to the academy to begin the new week. Iruka could feel a mix of emotions coming from Naruto as he held the boys shoulders in his arms, but when he asked about it, the boy just forced a grin and reassured his sensei that nothing was wrong.

 

Iruka could feel from Naruto’s touch that it was obviously a lie, but he didn’t press it any further. If the youngster wanted to talk to him about it, then it would eventually come up later on. Perhaps some ramen from Ichiraku’s would loosen the boy’s tongue.

 

Once the two were finally within the safety of the academy building, they made their way to the classroom that would see them through the rest of their day and Naruto sat down at his seat, avoiding the icy glares of the already present students. Iruka quickly raised his voice above that of the snickering kids and quieted them down.

 

“Alright, today we are going to be working on your stamina levels and agility. I want you all to head outside into the training courtyard right away to begin our exercises.” The pink haired girl known as Sakura quickly shot to her feet in protest.

 

“But Iruka-sensei, I thought we were having a spot test on advanced battle formations. I studied the whole weekend for that!” Iruka just radiated a brief grin.

 

“I recall saying that I might give you a spot test, but I eventually decided against it. It was too much trouble and I was tired.”

 

If looks could kill, which in some cases they most certainly can, then Iruka would no doubt already be dead. It was just a good thing Sakura didn’t have any secret doujutsu hidden within her gaze, otherwise the chunin might have found himself keeling over on the spot.

 

Sakura was always one to grasp the opportunity to prove how smart she was. She practically reveled at the chance of taking a class test so this intrusion of her self proclaimed justice was a big thorn in the kunoichi’s side.

 

The blond haired, blue-eyed boy sitting further in front of her just giggled in his seat, gaining a well-timed wink from a certain scarred chunin. The young Inuzuka sitting next to him almost jumped out of his seat when he heard the unfamiliar chuckling sound. He had never heard Naruto laugh before now, and it was quite unusual to hear. Even Akamaru yapped in surprise.

 

After a few more rants from the pink haired kunoichi in training and a few boring sighs from Shikamaru, who simply mumbled something about girls being crazy, the class eventually filed out of the room to do their training.

 

Naruto waited patiently until everyone else had left and then made his way out of his seat. He didn’t want to leave with the rest of the group and risk the cruelty of the class bullies, not to mention the risk of touching someone while traveling in a crowd.

 

Iruka placed his arm over the boy’s shoulder as he arrived at the front of his desk and the two began to head out together.

 

 

Anko Mitarashi was a woman with a purpose. To say that she was one of the more… ‘enthusiastic’ kunoichi in Konoha would be a massive understatement on anyone’s part. The woman practically reveled in the confines of battle, always ready to accept a dangerous mission if it meant she could let loose and spill someone else’s blood.

 

Some just thought that she was crazy and delusional, that she had inherited the spirit of her former sensei, but the third Hokage knew the truth behind her seemingly sadistic streak. In reality, the young woman was akin to what one would call the walking dead.

 

There was no longer any real life in the body that carried her desolated spirit. Her soul had long since been torn apart by her former sensei, the snake sannin known as Orochimaru, and had since been remolded into something she now hated completely.

 

Nowadays, the purple haired jounin would always accept even the most suicidal missions without missing a heartbeat. It was almost as though she was searching for death, waiting for a release from the tormenting memories of her past crimes. Today, she was on her way to the Hokage tower to seek out one such mission.

 

As she made her way through the dusty streets of Konoha, the young woman caught sight of an open green field with a river running closely nearby. It was one of the more secluded training fields in the village, normally reserved only for the more prestigious clan members in order for them to safely guard their secret techniques from prying eyes.

 

Anko herself had never actually really noticed it before now, but today she couldn’t help but feel herself drawn to the silent tranquility that seemed to greet her.

 

The special jounin slowly made her way over to the soft green grass and walked on its inviting surface. It was very apparent that its surface had hardly ever been disturbed before because there were hardly any visible signs of human interference.

 

“Well, I guess a few minutes of peace wouldn’t hurt.” She quietly mused to herself.

 

It wasn’t often that she took the time to relax and quietly enjoy herself, in fact she couldn’t even remember the last time she even took the time to stare at the passing clouds.

 

Although she always seemed to be grinning and laughing sadistically on the outside, that was all just a well conceived mask, one that she wore to hide her true emotions from the world around her.

 

She didn’t want to be taken advantage of ever again and putting on a intimidating front helped prevent anyone from doing just that. Orochimaru had used her state of vulnerability to lure her into a compromising situation and she would never allow that to happen ever again. Trust was now something that didn’t come easily for the woman and there were very few people she considered friends.

 

As Anko slowly made her way to the rivers edge, her body began to tense as her feet rummaged through the soft green grass. It was almost as though she could feel the remnant pain of another suffering soul, the same kind of pain she felt when she was rejected by those around her after Orochimaru’s betrayal.

 

She knew that kind of sadness all too well and it wasn’t difficult for her to detect.

 

“Someone…. someone has been crying here. Someone just like me.” Anko gulped, her eyes wondering around the tranquil scene, but its beauty only served to hide the scarred emotions of another tortured soul like hers.

 

“Maybe… I shouldn’t be here.”

 

The jounin could feel the last vestiges pain and suffering in the air around her and decided it wasn’t a good idea to remain behind for long. Anko then turned on her heels and was about to leave the training field, but before she could move far, her eyes suddenly caught sight of a messenger hawk traveling through the sky towards her.

 

“Ooohh! Someone likes me!” She squeaked happily. “I never usually get messages.”

 

Anko jumped up and down on the spot with glee instantly forgetting her brief moment of angst. Although it was no doubt a request for some crazy, suicidal mission she still enjoyed the prospect of someone actively seeking her out. It meant she was needed, that she was wanted, even if it was only her skills that were required.

 

It was then that she caught sight of a second messenger hawk approaching from the opposite direction, also headed towards the now completely flabbergasted jounin.

 

“Huh! Two messages? I must have found my way onto the Konoha’s most wanted list all of a sudden.”

 

To say that Anko wasn’t surprised when she then caught sight of a third hawk approaching would be like saying Jiraiya wasn’t a pervert and Kakashi would stop reading his dirty novels.

 

The jounin could only watch on in amazement as the three birds of prey slowly descended down towards her. However, the feisty and apparently rather competitive birds caught sight of one anothers’ approach and quickly proceeded to clash into each aggressively in mid air, before falling in a clump of feathers and talons right in front of the surprised jounin.

 

Messenger hawks were trained to intercept and engage any other message carriers they encountered on their journeys and although they were also trained to recognized friendlies, they were still often aggressive towards there competitors.

 

Anko, who realized what was about to happen, promptly seated herself on the ground and miraculously pulled out a box of dango seemingly from out of nowhere. She the proceeded to munch on the tasty morsels, while watching the entertaining show in front of her as the birds proceeded to tear each other apart.

 

“Who… ever thought that… messenger hawks could be so… competitive?” Anko mused to herself, giggling as the bird brawl continued in front of her.

 

“This is great, we should do this more often! I could even hold a betting ring and make a few bucks as well.”

 

However, the jounin quickly grew bored of the display and after a few fleeting moments, she promptly chased the birds off on their way.

 

Anko then grabbed the messages that were left on the ground and opened each one to read them, her eyebrows rising curiosly.

 

“Huh? This is interesting indeed. Hehehe, I guess it’s time to put on something… more enticing, but first I’m gonna visit that old man and maybe give him a nose bleed. It’s so fun to watch him squirm in his chair.”

 

 

Naruto supported his body with his hands on his knees as he desperately gasped for air, his lungs were now burning from lack of oxygen due to the heavy training excises they had just partaken in.

 

The entire class had to run a very complex obstacle course consisting of numerous challenges, including a log balancing section, as well as more nefarious challenges like crawling through a patch of mud with barbed wire skirting dauntingly above them.

 

The result of such an endeavor saw the boy’s body filled with scratch marks and mud stains, with a similar result incurred on his fellow students. Interestingly enough, and much to the bitter anguish of some of his other nastier classmates, Naruto had actually made pretty good time. In fact, he had beaten most of the other times in his group except for a select few, including Sasuke and Kiba who both still had superior agility.

 

Iruka suspected that it was his tree climbing and water walking exercises that enhanced the boy’s speed so much. That was the original goal behind those training methods in the first place.

 

He could see that Naruto was proud of his achievement, but he could also see the resentful stares of some of his classmates, something that clearly bothered the boy. The class kunoichis, on the other hand, were all by now in a complete fuss over their hindered looks.

 

Most of the made very poor time, trying too hard to keep themselves from getting dirty instead of focusing on the task at hand. Naruto himself silently cursed the fact that he was wearing a white T-shirt. His entire body was now completely filled with mud and leaves and even his face was well endowed with the rings of dirt and grime.

 

After everyone had completed their turn around the track, Iruka called an end to the training excises and led everyone back inside to the change rooms to clean themselves off. Luckily, he had brought an extra change of clothes for Naruto, knowing what they would be doing that day.

 

As the made their way down the academy hallways, Naruto fell back from the group of students and quietly strode up next to his sensei. Iruka caught sight of his mud filled face and smiled at the sight of it. This in turn caused Naruto to slap on a toothy grin of his own, causing Iruka to chuckle slightly.

 

To see those blue eyes and sparkling white teeth, hiding behind what was otherwise nothing but a wall of dirt, was quite the sight indeed.

 

“Hehehe, we’re going to have to get that muck off of your face otherwise its gonna freeze into place like that.” Naruto’s expression then immediately fell into a look of concern.

 

“W… will that really happen Iruka-sensei?”

 

“Hahahaha… no Naruto it wont really happen!” Iruka laughed, amused by his students innocent nature.

 

“You… haha… should have seen the look… on your face!”

 

Naruto began to pout thereafter, realizing he had just been duped by his sensei again. Iruka just giggled inwardly at the sight of his muddy expression and then put his arms around the boy’s shoulder, pulling the boy closer beside him.

 

Naruto’s face began to relax again as he closed his eyes, leaning against the chunin’s side with his head. The boy’s whiskered face emanated with the warmth of his smile as he snuggled up against his sensei’s vest.

 

Iruka didn’t mind the fact that he was now getting completely full of mud, he was just happy to bask in the warm emotions coming from the boy beside him. There were a few curious glances from the students scattered around the hallway, but he just shrugged them off.

 

He didn’t care what people thought anymore, he didn’t care if they saw him holding Naruto in his arms. Why shouldn’t the boy be allowed to hug someone without fear of the repercussions or harsh judgment from those around him. It just wasn’t fair for Naruto.

 

After showering themselves off from their grime and setting into a fresh change of clothes, the students were dismissed for their lunchtime break. Naruto waved Iruka off and then headed into the academy grounds, searching for his usual spot on the same swing he always sat atop.

 

Once outside, Naruto slowly made his way through the small playground, searching around as the other kids formed small groups with their friends.

 

Shikamaru and Choujij were busy sitting under a nearby tree, enjoying the cool shade while the Akamichi snacked on his lunch. Kiba and Akamaru were running around the open grass, chasing one another in a game of tag while Shino observed some bugs walking along a nearby plant with astounding interest.

 

Sasuke was busy moping about under another tree while his fanclub watched him intently from nearby. Hinata was the only girl that didn’t seem interested in him, in fact Naruto was surprised to find the white-eyed girl gazing at him instead.

 

He tried to shrug it off knowing that it was probably too good to be true, after all, no-one ever wanted to be around him. Everyone else had friends to spend their breaks with, to laugh and play with in the sun, but Naruto was all alone with only a wooden swing and his own thoughts to keep him company.

 

The boy eventually refocused his mind once more and proceeded to his usual waiting spot, but as he caught sight of his temporary haven he only found it now completely surrounded by the local school bullies.

 

“Damn, I guess they’re waiting for me to arrive. They’re probably still upset that I beat their times in the training run.” Naruto was about to turn around and head off again, when one of the impatiently waiting boys caught sight of him.

 

“Hey! There he is! Lets get the little brat!”

 

The said blond felt his heart jump at the sound of their words. He quickly darted off as fast as his feet could carry him, trying to avoid the cruelty of the boys fists he was sure to meet if they caught him.

 

“Get back here you little runt! We wont hurt you too badly!” One of them snickered.

 

Apparently, Naruto was traveling a lot faster than he thought, because soon he had lost his pursuers completely. After looking back over his shoulders to ensure his safety, Naruto dropped next to a nearby tree and leaned against its hard, wooden surface.

 

“Whew! That was too close.” Naruto sighed, trying to catch his breath.

 

The boy then began to relieve his built up tension well trying to ease his heavy breaths, but before he could relax completely, the frustrated sounds of a nearby anguished voice reached his ears.

 

“Damn it, I’ll show them all!”

 

Naruto slowly peered around the base of the tree he leaned against, catching sight of another young boy as he drove his fists into a nearby training post. The wooden frame was slowly being demolished by the power of his blows, while splinters embedded themselves in his heavily clenched fists.

 

He was wearing a white robe like shirt and pants and his black hair shined unnaturally in the morning sunlight. He also had the biggest eyebrows Naruto had ever seen in his life.

 

Naruto watched on with a keen interest as the boy, who seemed just a little older than he was, continued to plow away at his target, muffling brief words of frustration as he demolished the logs with his bare fists.

 

“I’ll show them that I can be a great ninja even if I only know how to use taijutsu.”

 

The boy’s eyes slowly began to fill with tears as his fists marked with blood and fresh wounds, but his wounds seemed to run deeper that just physical ones. Naruto could see the pain in his eyes, it was a similar type of pain he saw every time he looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes showed the feelings of rejection that weighed heavily on his heart.

 

“He almost has the same eyes as me.” The blond mumbled softly to himself as he watched the boy continue.

 

However, the other kid obviously heard the muffled ramblings from nearby, because soon he as turning to look in Naruto’s direction. He briefly managed to catch sight of Naruto’s blue eyes and blond hair just before the boy disappeared behind the tree again.

 

“No… I shouldn’t have let him see me.” Naruto cursed to himself, slapping his forehead in frustration. “What if he wants to hurt me just like the others?”

 

“Hey, wh… who’s there?”

 

The young blond cringed slightly as he heard the same voice calling out, still laced heavily with his sobs despite his attempts to sound strong.

 

The owner of the question then slowly began to walk over to where Naruto hid, moving carefully around the tree only to see the younger boy huddling his knees up against his chest.

 

Naruto was quivering in his sandals as he sat firmly against the surface of the tree, his eyes were wrought with the fear and panic of being so close to someone he didn’t know, someone who might hurt him just because of who he was. If the dark haired boy could do that to a training post, what could he do to him?

 

“Hey there… my name is Lee.” The boy offered gently, slowly approaching Naruto. “Is… something wrong? I’m not going to hurt you.”

 

Naruto pulled back even further against the wooden surface behind him, not wanting to touch another stranger unwillingly.

 

“I… I’m really sorry… I was… I was just watching, I promise…” Naruto mumbled, his voice shaking in fear. He was still afraid that the boy was going to hurt him for intruding.

 

“Hey there’s no need to apologize, I’m not angry. Here, let me help you up.”

 

Lee then extended his hand and offered it for the young blond to hold on to, but Naruto just pulled away even more. The older boy’s knuckles and fingers were still red with the marks of his ‘training’ and it was somewhat intimidating.

 

Naruto’s actions, however, only caused Lee to frown in discomfort.

 

He didn’t understand why the kid in front of him was so afraid, but he didn’t enjoy the sight that met his gaze. He wanted to say something else, to reassure the boy that he wasn’t going to harm him, but before he could open his mouth the cruel snickers of Naruto’s pursuer’s sounded from behind the two boys.

 

“There he his, lets get the little brat!”

 

Naruto almost yelped in panic at the approach of the other boys, before quickly springing to his feet and hurtled off as fast as he could. Lee just continued watched on in complete shock as the other, clearly larger kids chased after him, promptly disappearing from view moments later.

 

‘Is… is that why he was hiding?’

 

Not being one to let such injustices go unanswered, the dark haired boy began to give chase as well. He wasn’t about to let a boy get bullied when he could do something to prevent it.

 

 

Naruto continued to run throughout the academy grounds, desperately trying to create some distance between himself and his pursuers, but even he could only go so far.

 

The boy eventually found himself running into a dead end amongst the walls of the academy structure, his escape being completely closed of from all sides. Naruto turned around to see the cruel glares of his classmates as they entered in after him.

 

“I guess you thought you were pretty smart making us look bad in our training.” One of them snickered.

 

“I don’t know how a dobe like you managed to do so well, but after we’re done with you I assure you there won’t be a second time.” Naruto slowly backed away against the wall behind him.

 

“Please… I won’t do it again, I promise. Just leave me alone.” The bullies simply ignored Naruto’s pleas and closed in around the boy, their tormenting eyes holding him in discontent as they prepared their fists for what would come.

 

“Oh, we know you won’t, in fact we’re going to make sure of that.”

 

Naruto’s heart began to race in his chest as his cruel fate closed in on him. It wasn’t the first time he had run in with these bullies and it never ended well for him, this would be no different from before.

 

However before he could even close his eyes as instinct demanded, a voice called out from behind his attackers.

 

“Hey, leave that boy alone!”

 

The three other boys turned around to face their new challenger, only to see the fuzzy-browed, outlandish looking Lee standing before them, his eyes narrowed into a dangerous glare.

 

“To pick on someone who is outnumbered and smaller than you is cowardly. I cannot just stand by and allow you to harm him.” Naruto felt his heart welling up inside as the dark haired boy appeared into view. The other kids just snickered at the sight of their new target.

 

“Hahaha, what are you going to do to us. I bet you couldn’t even hurt a fly if you tried.” Lee just ignored their taunts and fell into a taijutsu stance, preparing for his opponents’ attacks.

 

“So, he’s really serious about fighting us then? Fine, I’ll take care of this dweeb.”

 

One of the boys hurled himself forward at the waiting Lee, throwing his fist in a brutal attack against his smaller opponent, but the boy didn’t even move from his standing position despite the threat imposed.

 

Naruto watched on with complete amazement as he caught the fist in his hand. Before the other boy even knew what was happening, Lee then twisted underneath his arm, causing it to bend into a rather peculiar and painful position, before spinning into a low leg sweep and bringing the larger boy crashing into the ground with a heavy thud, knocking the wind out of his lungs.

 

The other two boys quickly charged forward to engage their new attacker, but both of them found themselves on the receiving end of his powerful blows. Neither of them could even block Lee’s astonishingly fast movements and they were soon retreating from the battle with their still winded friend, throwing curses back at the blond boy who was still standing in awe of what had just happened.

 

“You can’t hide behind your friend forever dobe. We’ll get you eventually!”

 

Lee simply continued to watch as Naruto’s attackers ran out of view, flinching at the word ‘dobe’ as though he had heard it many times before himself. He then turned back to see the blond boy sinking to the floor, his body still shaking slightly despite his efforts to hide it.

 

“Hey there… are you alright?” He offered gently. The dark haired boy then slowly walked up to where Naruto was seated and knelt down in front of him. He reached out with his hand to grab him, but the blond sensed his advance and pulled away again, just as he had the first time.

 

“No… please… don’t touch me.” He pleaded. “Whenever people touch me bad things just always seem to happen.”

 

The dark haired boy reluctantly complied and withdrew his hand again, although he was relieved to note that his younger companion appeared unharmed.

 

Naruto was still quivering in fear from the near disaster he had just avoided, but he did not want anyone to see what was wrong, so he did his best to calm himself.

 

He would hate to think what Iruka would have done if he came back into the class a mess. He didn’t want his sensei to think he was getting bullied at school as well, that would just make the man more anxious. The boy then rubbed his face to revive himself before looking up to his savior once more, although this time he did his best to offer a soft smile of gratitude.

 

“Hey Lee… thanks for helping me back there. You didn’t have to do that, but I appreciate it.” Lee just grinned and waved it off.

 

“Yosh… it was no problem.” He exclaimed, forcing a grin onto his face.

 

“I just couldn’t stand by and watch someone else get hurt, especially when he hasn’t done anything wrong. Oh wait, I still don’t know your name.” Naruto just took a deep breath, before speaking softly in reply.

 

“It’s Naruto…. my name is Naruto Uzumaki.”

 

“Nice to meat you Naruto-kun.” Lee replied. “My full name is Rock Lee, but you can just call me Lee.” It was then that Lee noticed the golden eyes staring back in his direction, something that startled him as he noted the sudden change.

 

“Hey Naruto… weren’t your eyes blue before?” He asked curiously. Naruto yelped at the sound of the boy’s words.

 

“Oh no, you weren’t supposed to see that!” He gulped in panic.

 

“Damn it! Now everyone is going to hate me even more.”

 

Lee watched as Naruto held his head in anguish, shaking it from side to side as he continued to curse.

 

“Lee please, you can’t tell anyone about my eyes, otherwise they’re going to hurt me… please, just promise me you wont say anything.”

 

Lee didn’t understand what Naruto was going on about. He couldn’t understand why someone would hurt Naruto just because of his eyes, but he wasn’t one to argue. If he could keep the boy from any harm, then that’s exactly what he would do.

 

“Alright Naruto-kun, I promise not to tell anyone about your eyes.” Naruto felt a deep sense of relief wash over him.

 

“Thanks… I really appreciate it.”

 

Just then, the call for their breaks end sounded and Lee rose back to his feet. “Well I guess it’s time to head back into class. I’ll see you around then?” Lee then turned back to look at the boy sitting on the floor before him.

 

Naruto was still staring quietly at the ground with his arms around his knees. His eyes were now once again the same blue oceans they were before, but they were still filled with a reasonable degree of fear and anxiety. It was then that the older boy made a decision.

 

“Naruto, if you like, I can walk you back to your class first.” Naruto looked up to the other boy with longing and appreciative eyes.

 

“Th… that would be great.”

 

Naruto then rose to his feet and allowed a brief smile to emanate off his lips. It wasn’t often that a complete stranger would offer their help to him rather than just attacking him on sight. The two boys then headed off back into the academy building and towards Naruto’s class.

 

Once they arrived, Lee waved the boy off with a massive toothy grin and then headed down the hallway to his own class. Naruto let out a deep sigh of relief and then entered inside the safety of his classroom, making his way to his seat while Iruka watched from behind his desk.

 

The chunin noticed the change of expression on the boy’s face and began to grow deeply concerned. He began to realize what might have happened when some of the older boys in the back of the class threw Naruto deadly glares while snickering under their breath. He would have to deal with that later.

 

The scarred chunin quickly cleared his throat to gain the classes attention and then continued to teach the day’s remaining lessons.

 

 

It was now two in the afternoon and the academy students were slowly making their way out of class and back to their homes. Naruto waited patiently for everyone else to leave and then ran down to Iruka as he always did.

 

The two of them slowly made their way out of the academy ground and towards the training field where Kakashi and Kurenai were waiting. The two jounin waved in their approach, Kakashi putting away his novel as he did so.

 

“Good afternoon Naruto… Iruka.” Kurenai called.

 

Kakashi just waved at the two. Iruka was still surprised that the masked jounin was on time for the second time in three days. Naruto slapped on the biggest smile he could and ran up to the waiting red-eyed jounin.

 

“It’s good to see you Kurenai-sensei.” He yelped, throwing himself into the woman’s arms. Kurenai smiled as she held the boy in an embrace. She could feel his excitement and knew it had something to do with their training.

 

“It’s good to see you too kid.”

 

Iruka approached them soon afterwards and the four continued to share their greetings. Naruto even managed to greet Kakashi in a more relaxed tone than before, much to the jounin’s surprise and relief, although he still referred to him in a more formal expression. After they had settled down once more, Kakashi began to initiate their new training schedule.

 

“Alright Naruto, I want you to use the technique I showed you yesterday to summon two clones of yourself.” Naruto nodded his head and complied. The boy formed a single seal and began to mold his chakra.

 

“Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!”

 

After a brief burst of smoke there were three Naruto’s standing next to each other. The boy let out a massive grin, basking in his achievement as he summoned the clones. He gained a small pat on the back from Iruka and an approving smile from Kurenai. Kakashi just nodded his head and then continued.

 

“Alright, now you remember what I told you about the shadow clones and what they allow you to do?” The three boys nodded their heads in unison.

 

“Good, now each one of you will be training with either me, Kurenai or Iruka.”

 

Kurenai quickly grabbed one of the Naruto’s hands and lead him away from the rest of the group, while Kakashi took another aside for more doujutsu training. The last one looked at Iruka with a frustrated pout.

 

“Aw, why am I the one who has to study? Reading is so boring.” Iruka pulled off a mock sad face and widened his eyes as much as possible, causing Naruto to yelp.

 

“Alright then, I understand. You don’t want to spend time with your favorite sensei. I’ll just take a walk by myself and see if someone else wants to spend time with me.” Naruto felt his heart being torn apart inside and very soon he found himself running to hug his sensei.

 

“I didn’t mean it like that Iruka-sensei. Please don’t be upset with me.” Iruka looked down at he boy with a grin on his face.

 

The boy’s pout had long since disappeared and his expression was now one of concern and remorse and his blue eyes were as big as saucers. The chunin then roughed up the boy’s hair, gaining another small giggle.

 

“Of course I’d never be upset with you. It’s hard to be upset with a face like that.” Naruto gave off a deep sigh of relief before the two made their way to a nearby tree and sat down underneath its shadow.

 

Iruka pulled out their reading material and began to recite each word with Naruto repeating after him. The boy was still struggling to pick up each symbol, but he was slowly getting better at it. The other two Narutos continued with their own exercises with a renewed focus.

 

Kurenai ran through some tree climbing exercises at first, followed afterwards by some more water walking exercises, the latter which Naruto thoroughly enjoyed. The boy couldn’t stop giggling every time the two took another step further out into the stream.

 

He watched on with complete amazement as a small shoal of fish swam beneath his feet, sometimes tickling gently against his sensitive soles. Kurenai just basked in his radiant glow, allowing herself to become lost in his bright smile. It was a smile that could steel the world away in a single heartbeat.

 

She just couldn’t understand why no-one else could see this side of Naruto. Why couldn’t they see the boy behind the monster, a kid whose soul had been unfairly dragged through the mud by the cruelty and ignorance of those around him.

 

Kakashi, in the meantime, continued to work on the boy’s doujutsu, trying to help him learn how to activate it and control it’s abilities at will. Naruto was still not able to willingly activate his golden eyes, but he was slowly getting closer with every passing attempt.

 

Every now and again, he would see a small burst of colour and life around him before losing it as quickly as it came. Kakashi noticed the small flicker of gold in his eyes every time the boy came close to activating his doujutsu.

 

It was frustrating to watch it vanish again just as quickly as it appeared, but the jounin knew it was better not to rush the boy into advancing too quickly. Every now and again he would give pointers to Naruto, as well as a few words of encouragement to keep his spirits from falling. He couldn’t help but get the feeling that Naruto was slowly warming up to him, because the boy would briefly smile every time Kakashi praised him for his hard work.

 

Back under a nearby tree, Iruka continued to read to Naruto beside him. The boy had long since resigned to leaning on the chunins chest, allowing himself to relax in the safety of the man’s hold. Iruka’s arm ran across the boys shoulder and held him in comfort, while his other hand held the book in place.

 

Suddenly, the prospect of reading didn’t seem so bad to the boy, it was actually very relaxing for him to sit in the comfort of his sensei’s embrace, feeling the soft green grass beneath his hands. After a few hours of reading Naruto’s eyes eventually began to slowly inch themselves closed, the exhaustion of a long day setting into his small body.

 

Iruka noticed the new development and softened his voice so as to not disturb the boy’s sleep. They had gone through quite a bit of reading in the last two and a half hours and Naruto earned some rest. The chunin carefully put the book away once Naruto’s breathing had steadied and he slowly inched himself into a more comfortable position, trying not to wake the boy as he shuffled.

 

He then continued to watch as Kurenai and Kakashi also called of their training respectively. The other two Naruto clones promptly dispelled themselves and allowed their memories to flow into the original’s mind, causing the boy to flinch slightly as they disappeared in a puff of smoke. Kakashi and Kurenai then walked over to where Iruka and Naruto lay under the tree.

 

“I guess yours was tired as well” Kurenai giggled, looking down at the sleeping form in Iruka’s arms.

 

The chunin just returned the smile in kind while running his fingers through Naruto’s soft hair.

 

“Yeah, he did seem pretty beat, but I think it may also have something to do with what happened earlier today. We had quite an intense training exercise this morning, and when Naruto came back into class after break, I could see that he was upset about something. I think someone may have tried to hurt him, but there were no marks on his body so he must have gotten away from them.”

 

Kurenai’s face fell into a frown. She couldn’t understand why some children could be so cruel. She herself was once the object of the other girls resent when she was training at the academy. Her naturally good looks and headstrong demeanor often attracted the stairs of most of the boys around her and she soon found herself losing all of her female friends because of jealousy.

 

It didn’t help that she was also her class’es top kunoichi, but Naruto was treated cruelly for a different reason. The hatred that many of the adults held towards him passed on to their children as well, causing the boy to be shunned by both the older and newer generations.

 

“What he really needs is a friend to watch over him at school.” Kurenai mused, looking down at the quietly sleeping figure. “Unfortunately, that’s one place we can’t always be there for him.”

 

Iruka nodded his head in agreement.

 

“Maybe I should try to find a way to look after him during his break times, or maybe he should just stay in the class with me…”

 

“No.” Kurenai cut him off.

 

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to isolate him any more than he already has been. Although I know it’s hard for us all, he has to find a way to approach those around him, or at least let himself be approached. It’s the only way he’s going to get out of this lonely hole he’s been forced into.”

 

Iruka just let out a deep sigh following the woman’s words.

 

“I guess you’re right.” He whispered softly. “I just wish he didn’t have to be subjected to so much cruelty all the time.”

 

Little did the three of them know that there was already one such kind soul prepared to watch over the kid. A young boy whose actions had already saved Naruto that very day. Iruka took a brief moment to stroke the hair of his favorite student and then turned his gaze back to his two fellow teachers.

 

“So, how’s he doing with you guys? Is everything going well?” Kurenai allowed a boastful smile to emanate from her lips before answering.

 

“Well, he’s really starting to pick up on the tree climbing and water walking exercises. He still needs more time to get used to the chakra control, but every time we try it, he keeps on improving. If he carries on at this rate, we may have it mastered sooner than I originally thought possible. Then we can maybe move onto some genjutsu training.”

 

The red-eyed jounin looked like she was bursting at the seams with pride and with good reason too. For an academy student to be advancing so quickly through such a difficult exercise it was definitely quite impressive.

 

Iruka wondered just how well the boy would be doing now if he hadn’t been treated so poorly his entire life, it was just a pity that wasn’t the case. The two of them then turned to Kakashi to hear his report. The masked jounin just gave out a weary sigh before explaining.

 

“Naruto is still struggling to activate his doujutsu at will, but I think it might be because of the experience he had yesterday. He’s probably still a little afraid of what might happen if he uses it again. Other than that, he has made excellent progress so far and I think we’re coming closer to achieving our goal.”

 

Once they had finished reviewing their results, the three shinobi finally began to settle down under the tree once again. They had only just begun to allow themselves to briefly relax when a large iron ball shot out from the sky and into the clearing.

 

It landed on the grass with a heavy thud and erupted in an explosion of smoke, causing Naruto to wake up from his trance of sleep.

 

All of them looked on with widened eyes as the plume began to disappear, revealing the lone figure of a purple haired woman wearing a fish net top covered over with a long, cream coloured trench coat.

 

She was in a very precarious pose to top it all off.

 

The brief moment of awkward silence that followed momentarily afterwards was quickly shattered as the enthusiastic figure opened her mouth to speak.

 

“Anko Mitarashi reporting for duty!!!”

 

 

The soft warm rays of glistening sunlight danced atop the gently flowing water, shimmering off against the nearby trees that grew near the rivers edge. Three weary souls allowed themselves to bask in the peace of the gentle breeze, losing their thoughts in the quiet symphony of bird songs and rasping grass as it swayed in the cooling wind.

 

There, lying on top of an ever watchful Iruka, was the boy who held a special place in all of their hearts, his whiskered face glowing with a warmth and radiance all their own as he gently breathed in the warm summer air. His sleeping body was so calm and peaceful, so much so that the present shinobi found themselves lost in his radiant visage.

 

That is, of course, until a certain energetic purple haired kunoichi came crashing into view with a large explosion of smoke and dust, causing the restful souls to immediately rise up in alarm.

 

The once peacefully sleeping Naruto was now rubbing his eyes in startled confusion as he tried to remove himself from exhaustion’s grip. His three protectors watched on with widened eyes as Anko announced her arrival with a precarious pose, causing them all to sweat-drop from the sight of her sadistic grin.

 

“Anko Mitarashi reporting for duty!!!”

 

Once the smoke and debris had cleared, the scantly dressed woman walked over to where the four shinobi waited under the shady tree, causing Naruto to gulp in discomfort at her approach.

 

“So, what is it that you three want with me anyway? Do you have some genin brats that you need me to torture? Or maybe we’re all going on a top secret S-ranked mission together!!!!”

 

Iruka widened his eyes in surprise as the woman gleefully voiced her excitement for meeting them there. He then looked over to his two companions with a confused expression on his face, both of whom seemed to grow suspiciously nervous under his gaze.

 

“You guys called her as well?” He inquired curiously.

 

Kakashi began to sweat under his mask, having been caught out with his fingers stuck in the cookie jar.

 

“Eheh… well… um… er… oh yes, there was this old lady that needed me to carry her shopping bags this afternoon. I’ll see you three tomorrow!”

 

Before the scarred man could even think to protest, the masked jounin disappeared in a swirl of leaves and wind. Iruka then turned to an equally uncomfortable Kurenai, who simply stepped back with a dreaded gulp.

 

“I… need to continue my… er… research on Naruto’s… condition.” she murmbled, remembering not to mention the boy’s bloodline. “See you two guys later!”

 

With that, the jounin also shunshined away, leaving a sighing Iruka and a now somewhat uncomfortable Naruto behind.

 

The chunin could feel the raw emotions emanating from his pupils touch, the boy having obviously been shaken by the special jounin’s flashy entrance. Anko, on the other hand, was completely oblivious to such an action and simply continued to babble on in excitement about what they might be doing, having not realized that two of her audience members had already long since left the scene.

 

“… so do you think I should take two sets of kunai with, or just kill everyone with my bare hands? Snakes are useful as well but the bodies are harder to dispose of when they’re swollen up like balloons…”

 

Anko snapped out of her aimless ramblings and looked back over to the now almost empty spot under the tree.

 

“Hey! Where did everyone else go?”

 

It was then that she noticed the blond haired boy quivering in Iruka’s arms, his eyes filled with the dread and fear that easily gave away his wavering emotions.

 

“Oh… so I guess this means where not going on a top-secret S-ranked mission after all.” She sighed, realizing they wouldn’t send a kid for such a dangerous task.

 

“So then… why am I here again?” Iruka just let out a deep sigh while gently removing Naruto’s head from his chest and then walked up to the confused woman.

 

“I’m not sure what the other two wanted, but I called you here because of Naruto, the boy you see standing behind me.” The purple haired jounin took another look at the blue-eyed boy sitting against the base of the tree, finally recognizing who he was.

 

“Oi! That’s the…” She quickly cut herself off, knowing it was taboo to mention the Kyuubi without severe reprisal from the Hokage.

 

“It’s alright Anko, he already knows what’s sealed away inside him.”

 

The jounin scratched her head in thought, thinking back on the rumors she herd about Mizuki’s defeat at the hands of the ‘demon fox’. By the way everyone described Naruto, one could have sworn that he was the embodiment of a terrible monster, readily tearing apart anyone he came across.

 

She could see now that the circumstances revolving around the silver haired chunin’s hospitalization had been greatly exaggerated. There was no way that this boy, who barely looked like he could stand on his own two legs at the moment, was anything close to resembling the monstrous creature described over one too many drinks at the bar.

 

“So… you called me here because of this… runt?” Anko announced bluntly, looking over to the flimsy excuse for a boy.

 

However, her mind quickly snapped back to its more nefarious way of thinking, causing a wicked grin to appear on her lips as she ran though the possibility of such encounters through the deapths of her thoughts.

 

“Ooohhh, I get it! You want me to torture him don’t you? Toughen him up a little eh?”

 

The crazy woman began to slowly inch her way over to the now panicked boy, causing Naruto to stand up and press against the surface of the tree he stood under. Her tingling fingers slowly reached out to grasp the blond into her hands while her eyes glimmered with her sadistic thoughts.

 

Naruto began to quiver in his sandals, not wanting to be touched by someone who had openly declared she would harm him.

 

“I could have so much fun with you!!!”

 

“Stop it Anko, can’t you see you’re scaring him?” Iruka growled, causing the woman to halt in her tracks.

 

“There will be no torturing of any kind as long as I have anything to say about it.”

 

Naruto seemed to flinch slightly at the mention of the word ‘torture’, having long since learned its meaning thanks to the lessons from his ‘caretakers’ at the orphanage. Anko immediately noticed the sinking expression that met her gaze and merely cocked her head to the side in confusion.

 

“What’s up with him?” Iruka simply grabbed the woman firmly by the arm and pulled her off to the side, much to Anko’s astonished surprise.

 

No-one, not even her fellow jounin, had ever manhandled her like that before. Most people were afraid to even touch her much less anything else. Once they were a fair distance away from Naruto, the chunin began to speak again.

 

“Look, the reason I called you here is because I wanted to ask you a favour. You see, Naruto has had a few… run-ins with some particularly nasty characters. I’m afraid for his safety, mostly because of the fact that the Kyuubi has been sealed inside of him.”

 

Anko just shrugged her shoulders in frustration, now realising what was going on.

 

“So you want me to scare a few people back into their places to keep them off the boy’s back am I right!?” Iruka didn’t even have time to nod before being cut off again.

 

“Look Iruka, I’m not some baby sitter who looks after little kids that can’t even hold themselves together. If you need my help with something, make sure it’s worth my damned time!!!”

 

The furious temptress then began to storm off the field, infuriated by the thought of being used as a messenger for someone else’s stupid problems, albeit a very harsh messenger, but before she could get far Iruka called out to her.

 

“They hurt him you know…”

 

The jounin froze in her tracks, falling into silence as her heart unwillingly skipped a beat. Iruka, seeing that he had caught her attention, continued to explain.

 

“Every night they used to beat him at his orphanage just because of what he held inside of him. They used to torture him and degrade him, calling him a monster and filling his mind with cruel words of hatred and doubt. He’s was never shown the love of another person or even allowed to come into contact with the outside world. He was just like you once were.”

 

The woman began to clench her fists, digging her nails into the palms of her hands while Iruka continued. She knew what it was like to be seen as a monster, to be judged by actions you never had any control over.

 

People were always to quick to judge, always far too ready to condemn a soul just because it made them feel better inside. Unfortunately, it was often the innocent that had to suffer the cruel reprisals of a hateful heart and those punishments were the worst kind of pain a person could ever want to be subjected to.

 

“I know that when your parents died, everyone just ignored you and cast you aside.” Iruka continued, once he knew he had the woman’s attention.

 

“I know this because it was the same thing that happened to me as well. That’s the reason why you turned to the one person who you thought cared for you, that’s why you devoted yourself to Orochimaru. Naruto has also been cast aside by everyone in the village like a dirty rag that has served its purpose, only he never had anyone to turn to for comfort or protection. No-one would ever lend a helping hand, even if it was only in deceit. Naruto has lived his whole entire life alone and I just don’t want to see him get hurt any more.”

 

The purple haired jounin cast her gaze over at the blond boy standing under the nearby tree. She could see all of the pain and fear in his eyes, the same pain that her own eyes held as well, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. She then realized what she had felt when visiting this field earlier that day.

 

‘He… he was the one whose pain I felt earlier. It was this boy’s tears that marked this place so heavily with their wounds.’

 

The jounin slowly turned around and walked back up to Where Iruka stood, approaching within touching distance before draping her arms precariously around the man’s neck. She moved her head over to his ear and licked her lips with a newfound streak of sadistic lust.

 

“So… who is it that little old Anko needs to pay a visit then, hmm?”

 

The scarred chunin blushed uncomfortably as Anko’s body pressed tightly against his own, while beads of sweat formed on the top of his brow. However, despite the awkward situation, he couldn’t help contain the victorious grin that now emanated off his lips.

 

Iruka then explained his target to the intently listening Anko, while shuffling desperately against the discomfort of being so close to the potently psychotic woman. After a few minutes, Anko finally removed herself from chunin’s shoulders and strolled off the field, flicking her coat to the side as her feet rummaged through the grass.

 

“You owe me big time buster!!!” She yelled back again, causing both Naruto and Iruka to flinch in fear.

 

Little did the two of them know, however, was that the woman was grinning wildly from ear to ear as she made her way back into the village. The jounin was going to have a great deal of fun tonight.

 

Iruka shook his head in despondence once she disappeared from view. “Was it really a good idea to ask for her help?” he thought quietly to himself. He then turned back to the blue-eyed boy who hadn’t moved an inch from his position under the nearby tree. The chunin walked up to where Naruto stood and placed his arms around the boy’s shoulder, immediately absorbing some of his inner fear and anxiety he held in his heart.

 

“Was… she really going to torture me Iruka-sensei?” The boy mumbled, quivering at the thought of being subjected to even more pain.

 

“No Naruto, she wasn’t really going to torture you. She was just… kidding around, that’s all.”

 

The chunin immediately felt the relief passing through Naruto’s body before letting out a deep breath he had been holding since Anko arrived. There was a brief moment of silence before Naruto eventually spoke up again.

 

“I think that woman was crazy Iruka-sensei.” The chunin just burst out into an uncomfortable laugh as a cold shudder flowed down his spine.

 

“You have no idea kiddo…”

 

The two then made there way off the field and back home to rest. It had been a long day for them both, especially after that little encounter.

 

 

As the last vestiges of sunlight disappeared across the glimmering horizon, the tall scant legs of a blond haired woman slowly made their way through the halls of a certain orphanage, checking on each of the rooms to make sure her charges were all in their beds.

 

Her deep green eyes carefully scanned the hallways in order to make sure none of the kids were hiding from their curfew, while her high-heeled shoes clattered down mercilessly on the bare wooden floors.

 

Ever since they had thrown Naruto out of the orphanage, her days had become far more boring than they ever were before. She no longer had the demon child to keep her thoughts occupied or to take her frustrations out on. Normally at this time of night, one of the wardens would be beating the boy within an inch of death in his room, something she often enjoyed watching herself from time to time.

 

She would also often subject the ‘little monster’ to horrendous cruelties herself, regularly humiliating him in front of the rest of the children that resided in the building. Naruto was often forced to eat food right from the floor while everyone else watched from their tables in the mess hall, or made to crawl on his hands and knees all day long as though he were nothing more than an animal.

 

This would obviously gain the laughs and taunts of his fellow generation, bringing his soul down even further more than possibly imaginable. The boy had tried many times to escape the walls of his dreadful prison because of this… and that is where she had the most fun of all.

 

The blond woman loved to watch the life leave his eyes as his efforts for freedom were promptly dashed and his hope for a better future were crushed under a stern iron heel. The punishments that followed soon afterwards were far more severe than the humiliations he received during the day.

 

The worst punishments, however, were handed out on his birthday, which was also the anniversary for the Kyuubi’s attack on Konoha. That was the only time Naruto was allowed to see any adults from outside the orphanage, although they weren’t there for the chance to adopt the boy.

 

Instead, they made sure he appreciated the day of his birth in a way no other child would ever have the horror of suffering.

 

Many would be punishers would take turns dishing out there ideas of justice to the boy, using sticks and bottles to ensure him a night of pain, while others drank and laughed on the sidelines of his abuse.

 

None of them ever heeded the cries that came from Naruto’s mouth, mostly because they didn’t really care. They only watched with a smug grins on their faces as the ‘monster’ received his due payback.

 

But now… now there was no more Naruto to torture, no more fun to be had at the boy’s painful expense. The woman’s mind wandered on what had happened to the little monster since they had kicked him out. Perhaps he was already dead, or even better, perhaps he was being subjected to the tortures of some drunken villager.

 

Yes, that would put a smile on her face.

 

The woman only wished she could see his eyes empty and his soul dampen while his body was torn apart by the merciless mobs of Konoha, in who’s dangerous streets Naruto was no longer protected by the Hokage’s watchful gaze.

 

However, her sick wandering thoughts, however, were soon shattered when a heavy knock was heard coming from the front entrance.

 

‘Who could be here at this time of the night?’

 

The caretaker slowly made her way to the entrance and opened the door, revealing the sight of a purple haired woman grinning sadistically in the darkened night sky. Anko waved a kunai in her left hand while her right leaned against the frame of the doorway.

 

“I’m sorry, but visiting hours are over. If you want to see the children, you’ll have to come back tomorrow morning.” Anko simply wedged her foot in the door before it could promptly slam in her face, before forcing it open once again.

 

“Oh.. I’m not here to see the little kiddies.” She sneered dangerously, a wicked smile stretching across her face. “I just wanted to chat, that’s all.”

 

The blond woman took a deep gulp of fear as the sadistic temptress that was Anko slowly entered the room, licking her lips in anticipation for the night’s entertainment. Her eyes darkened with the malice and frustration of a cornered tigress protecting her cubs, promising the embrace of pain and suffering that would soon follow.

 

 

The following day saw Naruto once again rummaging through the muddy track field that the Academy often used for training, once again running the same obstacle course he had partaken in the previous day. Only this time, the boy seemed to be losing his edge against his would-be competitors.

 

Iruka watched on with a heavy heart as the boy tripped over and over again, falling into the mud and leaves without fail. He stumbled numerous times on the log balancing section and his movements weren’t half as fast as they were the previous day.

 

The scarred chunin suspected that their afternoon training may have tired Naruto out, but his heart was telling him that wasn’t the reason behind the boy’s apparent poor performance.

 

There was no doubt in his mind that Naruto was simply afraid of outdoing his fellow classmates and invoking their cruelty because of his own hard earned success.

 

Once everyone had run their due course on the tracks, they were once again making their way to the academy change rooms to clean themselves off again.

 

Naruto hid his eyes in shame, trying to avoid the victorious stares of the class bullies that looked down on him. The boy slouched his muddy shoulders as he walked down the hallway, his tears well hidden by the rings of dirt flowing around his whiskered face.

 

Iruka easily noticed the boy’s severely dampened expression and moved his hand to comfort him, but Naruto just pulled away much to the chunin’s surprise. He didn’t want to be touched right now, he didn’t feel like he deserved to be comforted or pitied.

 

He had willingly failed because of his own fears and weaknesses and there were no excuses in Naruto’s mind for what he did.

 

After everyone had gotten dressed in clean clothes, they made there way back to class to get their lunches before heading out for their break. Naruto just stayed at his desk while everyone else made their way outside.

 

He didn’t want to be subjected to the cruelty of the other kids. Even though he hadn’t beaten their times, he knew the bullies would rub his failure in his face and drag his precious dreams through the mud with their cruel words and hateful taunts.

 

Iruka noticed the boy’s unmoving expression and made his way up to Naruto’s desk once everyone had gone. He placed his arm on the boy’s shoulder and crouched down beside him.

 

“Hey kiddo, what happened out there today? I now you can do better than what you showed everyone.” Naruto just pulled his shoulder away from Iruka’s hand.

 

“I’m just a failure Iruka-sensei, I always have been and I always will be. Even when I do my very best, I only ever get punished for it. What’s the point of even trying anymore if no-one will ever accept me anyway?” Iruka noticed the golden glow in Naruto’s eyes, it was a shade that told him just how severe the boy’s feelings and emotions were at that moment.

 

“Look Naruto, there will always be those who are cruel and hateful towards others just to make themselves feel better, but you can’t let them get you down or allow them to take away your dreams.”

 

“But Iruka-sensei, no-one believes in me. To them, I’m nothing but a nuisance who always messes up all the time.” Iruka place his hand on the boy’s chin, turning his head until he gained Naruto’s golden eyes.

 

“I believe in you…” The boy flinched at the sound of Iruka’s words but he knew they were true, he could see it in the man’s gaze.

 

“Kurenai and Kakashi believe in you as well, you wouldn’t want to let them down would you?” The boy slowly shook his head from side to side while tears of guilt formed in his eyes.

 

He felt bad about allowing himself to fall behind, it was as though he were throwing away all the hard work and kindness of those who cared for him. It was an insult to their efforts to help him grow stronger.

 

“I’m sorry Iruka-sensei, I was just…”

 

“I know Naruto.” Iruka cut him off. “you were just afraid of what the others might do to you.”

 

The scarred chunin pulled the boy into a hug and this time Naruto allowed himself to be touched.

 

“Just promise me you won’t ever allow yourself to do that again. It isn’t fair to watch you fall behind because of what others think. You’re better than that, no matter how much someone may try to make you fell otherwise.” Naruto nodded his head on Iruka’s shoulder.

 

“I promise Iruka-sensei.”

 

“Good, now why don’t you go outside and have some fun?” Naruto pulled away from his sensei and frowned. He didn’t want to go outside alone, where there were those that could hurt him.

 

“Iruka-sensei… is it alright if I stay in here with you for now?”

 

Iruka was about to protest, but he could see the fear in Naruto’s eyes. He was torn between Kurenai’s advise and the raw emotions he felt coming from the boy’s touch, but before he could say anything a voice called from the doorway to the classroom.

 

“Hey Naruto!”

 

Both Iruka and Naruto looked down to see the dark haired boy known as Lee standing just outside the class, waving them down with a massive grin on his face.

 

“Do you want to come outside with me?! I could use the company!” The blond boy felt his heart welling up inside, while Iruka just cocked is eyebrow in surprise.

 

No-one had ever willingly asked Naruto to join them for break before.

 

Naruto looked back at his sensei as if to ask his approval. The man reluctantly nodded his head and then watched as the blond unpacked his lunch and walked down to the doorway and outside the class. The two boys then disappeared from view in each other’s company, with Naruto having a smile on his face for the first time that entire day.

 

“Kami, when did this happen?” Iruka mumbled curiously, lost in his own confusion.

 

 

Naruto and Lee made their way over to the nearby swings outside and sat quietly on their wooden frames. The two boy’s just swayed back and forth in silence, basking in one another’s company while the warm sunlight touched gently against their faces. An eternity seemed to pass before either of them even spoke.

 

“Lee…” The dark haired boy turned to face Naruto as he called out his name. “Why do you want to hang out with me?”

 

Lee couldn’t quite understand what Naruto was trying to ask. The young blond noticed his new companions confusion and offered to explain.

 

“I mean… no-one ever wants to be anywhere near me and those who do normally just want to beat me up… so why?” Lee just looked down at the ground in thought, trying to find the words to answer.

 

“I… don’t know. I guess I just… like being around you. Besides, someone has to watch out for you. It’s not fair for you to fend for yourself all the time.”

 

Naruto choked at the sound of the boy’s words, allowing a gentle smile to fall on his whiskered face. It wasn’t often someone wanted to be with him just because of who he was, to have someone who would willingly protect him from harm. Is this what a real friend was?

 

Lee allowed a small grin of his own when he saw the boy’s face immediately light up. It was painfully obvious that Naruto had never had a friend before now and he could see the boy desperately needed one.

 

For the first time in his entire life, he felt needed by someone, another boy that was weaker than him and who relied on his protection. It was the first time he felt truly strong and that his strength was now worth something really important.

 

Naruto opened his lunch box and pulled out a small rice ball. The boy then broke it in half, trying desperately not to let any of it fall to the ground, and handed one piece to Lee while sporting a massive grin on his face. Lee smiled back and took the offer with grateful eyes.

 

“Thanks Naruto!”

 

The blond just giggled in approval while he chewed on his own piece food, causing Lee to flash a massive grin of his own, blinding Naruto as the sun sparkled off of his super white teeth.

 

The two boys just laughed in one another’s company, becoming completely lost in the moment that saw smiles on both of their faces. It was the first time Naruto felt happy at the academy.

 

Iruka watched from the doorway to the academy and allowed himself to grin as well. It seemed Naruto had finally found one of the most precious commodities one can acquire in life. He had found a true friend.

 

 

Once school had finished for the day, both Iruka and Naruto made their way to the training ground again, meeting an impatient Kurenai on the open grassy field. Kakashi was late again this time, however, and they ended up waiting patiently for the masked jounin’s arrival.

 

After he appeared in a puff of white smoke, he received a massive knock on his head from the furious Kurenai, causing a certani young blond boy to chuckle under his breath. After a few more rants from the red-eyed jounin and another poor excuse from Kakashi, they then finally proceeded to continue with their training, with Naruto once again splitting himself into three copies and dividing amongst his teachers.

 

About an hour had passed while their exercises continued relatively unabated. Kakashi was finally beginning to make some significant ground on Naruto’s doujutsu development.

 

The boy was even able to hold his enhanced gaze for a few seconds before it finally faded out again, prompting a well-earned praise from the masked jounin that taught him. Kurenai had the boy water walking again, only this time Naruto was trying to do it without any assistance.

 

Although he was still very wobbly on his feet, he managed a few steps at a time before eventually stumbling. The dark haired jounin would quickly catch him before he fell in the water and then had him try it again.

 

Iruka’s reading was taking the longest time to catch on, although that was to be expected. After all, you can’t rush the process of learning a written language no matter how enthusiastic or determined your student is. This was just one of those things Naruto would have to be patient with.

 

However, the youngster didn’t seem to mind sitting with his sensei underneath the protective shade of the tree, allowing the gentle breeze to brush against his face. The blond boy looked over to his shirtless counterpart, walking mid-river in the blazing sunlight.

 

“That’s gonna hit me real bad later on” he sighed, cringing at the prospect of heavy sunburn.

 

After a few more minutes of training thereafter, a large explosion filled in the centre of the field, causing everyone to jump in surprise.

 

Naruto yelped in panic under Iruka’s arm, causing the book he held to go sailing through the air before landing back on the chunin’s head. The Naruto that was training on the river’s surface stumbled from the shock and fell into the stream, forcing Kurenai to jump in after him before he drowned.

 

 The jounin managed to grab a hold of the boy’s sinking body and quickly rushed him to the surface before dragging him to the safety of the shore. Even if it was only a shadow clone, she didn’t want the terrible memories of drowning making there way back to the originals mind.

 

Everyone quickly turned and looked on with bated breaths as the smoke began to clear, once again revealing the purple haired jounin in another precarious pose, sporting a massive victorious grin on her face. There was a brief moment of silence as her audience watched and waited for her to move.

 

“I, Anko Mitarashi, have come to report that my mission was a complete success!!!”

 

As the crazy jounin finished her sentence, a large stream of fireworks erupted out of the ground around her, shooting streams of burning flames up into the air. After a short display of colour and light, one large final rocket shot up into the sky and exploded into a massive shape, forming the number ‘one’ with a big ‘thumbs up’ saluting next to it.

 

The stunned shinobi could only watch on in disbelief as the entire scene took place, each thinking a different thing at the same time.

 

Naruto/s: ‘Wow! That looks so cool! I wanna see more!’

 

Kakashi: ‘And I thought I was eccentric. Does she do this after every mission? Hey! What mission is she talking about?’

 

Kurenai: ‘Now I’m completely soaked! When I get my hands on her…’

 

Iruka: ‘Did she have those fireworks hidden in the ground the whole day? Sheesh, talk about being overly prepared!’

 

“Alright now ladies and gentlemen…” she continued, shaking them from there thoughts. “…There’s no need to praise me all at once. I’m just doing my job after all.”

 

The woman then giggled into her hands. “Alright then, go ahead and praise me if you must!” The Naruto sitting next to Iruka just shook his head from side to side.

 

“Wow, she really is crazy isn’t she?” Unfortunately for this young boy, Anko heard exactly what he said.

 

“Why you little brat!!! When I get my hands on you…”

 

Luckily, before Anko could rush over to grab a panic stricken Naruto, Kakashi and Kurenai appeared at her sides and halted her advance. Touching the boy in her current state would not be good for Naruto and the last thing they wanted was another hospitalized shinobi.

 

“Just calm down Anko.” Kakashi begged, trying to hold the furious storm from breaking loose.

 

“He was just kidding, you know how kids are.” Anko finally allowed herself to relax and then huffed over to a nearby patch of grass.

 

She promptly sat down on its soft green surface and pulled out a box of dango from her unknown hiding place. The other’s then reluctantly continued on with their training once more, although Naruto now felt more uncomfortable in the woman’s watchful gaze.

 

Iruka turned to the original Naruto sitting beside him and handed him the book they were reading.

 

“Just carry on reading for a few minutes, I just need to speak to the crazy woman quickly.”

 

Naruto pouted at the thought of being left alone, but then smirked at the mention of the word ‘crazy’. He then watched as Iruka approached the said joinin and sat down quietly beside her.

 

“So, how did it go last night?” he asked carefully, probing the woman’s face for any clues as to her emotions. Anko just allowed herself a crazy grin, immediately confirming her approving results.

 

“Lets just say that those losers at the orphanage won’t be able to sit for a long time to come. I bet they’ll have nightmares for months after what I did to them, after all, there are some places that snakes just weren’t meant to go.”

 

Iruka cringed at the sound of the woman’s words. He didn’t even want to think about what she just described and decided it was best left alone. The two of them just sat in silence for another moment before Anko spoke again.

 

“So have any more targets for me? I have to say that was pretty fun!” She asked giddily.

 

It was almost as thought the woman were begging for another opportunity to right some wrongs done to Naruto, who shared a fate somewhat similar to hers. Perhaps she was simply trying to relieve some of the built up tensions from the memories of her own awful past.

 

“Not right now, but of anything comes up I’ll be sure to let you know.” Anko just grinned in approval, but her expression was lost soon afterwards.

 

“Iruka…” The chunin looked over to the woman with widened eyes. Her voice was a lot softer than before. It was almost… normal.

 

“… is it alright if I watch you guys train in the afternoons?” Iruka was slightly taken aback by the unusual request, but had a feeling Naruto had something to do with it.

 

“Why are you so interested in watching Naruto train? I thought you didn’t like kids.”

 

Anko’s eyes wandered over to the blue-eyed boy sitting under the nearby tree. She could still see the pain that haunted his memories as easily as one could see daylight.

 

“Because… he has the same eyes as me, eyes that hold all the pain of his tortured past. I want to see what happens to him and how he grows from now on… hell, maybe I can even help him out myself eventually.”

 

The scarred man scratched his head in thought. He didn’t know if he could trust Anko with Naruto’s secret bloodline, but something told him the woman was being sincere in her request. It was the first time he had seen this side of her, a side that felt more genuin than her usual maniacal streak.

 

“Alright Anko, but if you try to do anything to harm him…”

 

“Ooohhh, what’s this?! Is ‘Iruka-sensei’ becoming feisty with me!?!?! I guess I have been a bad girl!!!!”

 

Anko leapt towards the now sweating chunin, shooting out her arms with a sadistic grin returning her face. Iruka managed to jump out of the way just in time to avoid her grasp and quickly ran back over to where Naruto sat, landing heavily next to the now curious boy with a pant. They both looked each other in the eyes while Iruka sweat dropped.

 

“You’re definitely right kiddo, she is crazy.” The two of them just laughed at the man’s untimely joke, causing the purple haired temptress to pop a blood vessel on her head.

 

“I heard that!!!”

 

 

Well there it is. I feel pretty satisfied about this chapter. I’m not sure why but it just feels right to me. It was fun introducing Anko into the fray.

 

I hope you all enjoyed it! 🙂

~ by Tenrai Senshi on August 25, 2009.

4 Responses to “Eyes of the Broken Soul chapter : 7”

  1. […] his safety, Naruto dropped next to a nearby tree and leaned against its … Read more:  Eyes of the Broken Soul « I Hate Sasugay Share […]

  2. how my…. how long! >_< awesomeness, tenrai! more, more!

  3. […] Naruto dropped next to a nearby tree and leaned against its … See the original post:  Eyes of the Broken Soul chapter : 7 « I Hate Sasugay Share […]

  4. NIce chapter Tenrai ^_^. Now Where is chapter 8? O_o

    Ahsan- it will come soon –

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