Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Harry Potter. I do own the plot and some OC's along the way.
Warnings: Language, OC'ness, Het, Slash, twists and turns, fluff, smut, and abuse to the author, Loss of Kei's cuteness.
Naruto sat in the kitchen idly playing with a spoon while Iruka flittered around making breakfast. He had returned the night before, quite late, and had gone straight to bed. Iruka had stopped by his room and softly prodded him awake with sweet whispers of food, when morning rolled around mere hours later. Naruto had jumped at the idea of food, although his body demanded more sleep, and scrambled to get ready before his eyes landed on the bloody orange jacket he had tossed the night before. The image of his hand, holding a kunai, plunging into a man would forever haunt him. He could remember the man's face frozen in fear, what he was wearing, but all he mainly saw was Kei's hand directing his into the man's chest and the life slipping from the strangers eyes.
"I-Iruka-nii?" Naruto squeezed out around the lump that formed in his throat.
The chuunin, who had been happily making food, stopped suddenly at the sad desperate tone of his charge. He knew that tone. As an academy instructor he sometimes had students come back and talk to him after their first kill. The ones without a shinobi family would seek him out, and ask in the same tone of voice, a question he knew Naruto was about to ask.
"Have you ever killed anyone before?"
Iruka closed his eyes, his shoulders slumped, and he put the bowl down that was in his hands. He turned slowly and sat down beside Naruto. "Tell me what happened Naruto." He softly commanded as he took one of the blonde's hands into his. He tried to keep his composure calm, and comfort Naruto, knowing how hard it was to accept the first kill.
Iruka had hoped that this day would never come, but he wasn't a fool. He knew it would happen, because Naruto was a shinobi. He was a crazy, energetic, screwball of a shinobi who wanted to be Hokage and had never taken a life, but now that last shred of innocence was gone, and Iruka mourned its loss.
"I don't know. I was on a mission with Kei-sensei-"
"Hatake?" Iruka interrupted.
Naruto frowned but nodded "Yeah! Sakura-chan begged the Old Lady for a big mission so she sent Sakura-chan and me off with Kei and Makoto-sensei. Sai was there too but Kei was charged with teaching me about being Hokage. He gave me some really good things to think about that I would have never thought of before." Naruto happily rambled, momentarily forgetting his melancholy.
Iruka sighed. "Naruto back to the story. You and Kei-sensei were doing what before you killed?"
Naruto's mood dropped as he struggled to get back on the right story track. "Well we were supposed to stop this gang or something, but when we went into their hideout, Kei-sensei freaked out and started killing everyone. I've never seen him like that before. His hair was all crazy and his one eye was bulging out and it was scary. So Kei-sensei was killing everyone and I could only watch but there was one guy left and Kei-sensei grabbed my hand and told me to kill him, because Hokage's kill people every day and I needed to be used to it. I didn't want to do it, but Kei-sensei grabbed my hand and stabbed the man and he died. I watched as the blood and life drained out of him."
Iruka was fuming. It was one thing for a shinobi to make their first kill on their own, when they realized it was a life or death situation. But to force a genin to kill, to hold his hand and make him kill a man in cold blood was wrong. Iruka didn't care if Kei was a prodigy and loved by many. The little brat had gone too far.
"I will have his forehead protector for this! To think he thought it was appropriate to force you to kill a man like that. I am going to march down there and yell at him and his brother too. Those Hatake's get away with too much, but it's going to stop now!" Iruka yelled. Not only was Kakashi and Kei going to hear from him, but so was the Hokage.
Iruka stood ready to storm the village for his prey but Naruto grabbed his arm and stopped him. "Iruka-nii please." He begged. "I'm not mad. I'm actually sort of grateful towards Kei-sensei." Naruto said.
Iruka sank back down and stared at his charge. "But why?" Why Naruto wasn't mad or upset about what the little Hatake brat made him do, because damnit he should be!
"Because Kei-sensei told me a truth I needed to hear. The Hokage sends shinobi out every day to kill or be killed. If I am ever going to be Hokage … I need to be able to accept that I am the cause of death… for many men and woman." Naruto explained. It was hard to put his thoughts into words but he had been thinking about it most of the travel home and this is where it led him.
"I always thought that being a shinobi meant cool missions and getting the girl. I never thought about death and killing. I knew it happened but…I guess… I never thought much on it until Kei-sensei pointed it out. The only thing he didn't teach me was how to accept this guilt inside." Naruto stared at his savior, his older brother that had taken him away from his crappy apartment and fed him, loved him, and guided him. "Iruka-nii…" Naruto felt the water gathering in his eyes, and finally after days of holding it in, Naruto finally cried for his first kill.
Iruka's anger vanished as he wrapped his arms around the blonde. "Oh Naruto… my precious Naruto… It's going to be okay. I promise." Iruka whispered into the genin's ear. "I'll help you get through this, I promise."
They sat together for a few minutes, Naruto crying out his guilt and sadness, and Iruka holding the little boy he had wished would never grow up. When Naruto was calmer, Iruka pulled away slightly and stared into the blonde's red wet puffy eyes and sighed.
"What you need to do is forget. Forget their face, name, age, and everything and anything you knew about them. Erase anything that makes them more real in your mind, so that one day all you will remember is a mission, and a number. It's gets easier with time, and most shinobi never forget their first kill, but you need to forget their face at least. Faceless corpses are guilt-free corpses." Iruka explained.
"My first kill was a woman. She and her husband were fighting in the middle of a restaurant and it was preventing me and my team from completing our mission. I went to calm her down, and politely ask her to take the argument elsewhere but she turned on me. She started yelling at me and when I asked her to please step outside she attacked. She managed to grab a kunai from my pouch and aimed for my heart. I panicked and drew a kunai to protect myself, but at the last minute she tripped and fell on it, killing herself instantly." Iruka told his charge. "I was devastated but luckily my Instructor stepped in and smoothed everything out. I couldn't be charged since the woman attacked me first and I was only a genin, but I was devastated afterword My instructor took me aside that night and told me the same advice I gave you. 'Forget her face, and anything about her. Faceless corpses are guiltless corpses.' He told me."
Naruto sniffled and buried his face into Iruka's chest. "Does it still hurt to think about?" He mumbled into the chuunin's chest.
Iruka chuckled a little at the sight. Here he had been thinking that Naruto lost all his childish innocence, but it seemed some still remained. "A little. It used to be a great spike of pain, but now it's only a dull throb. I don't remember her face, what her hair colour was, what colour her eyes were… I don't even remember the town we were in. I just know that she pulled a kunai and attacked me first."
"Thanks Iruka-nii." Naruto said as he pulled away. The blonde sniffled again and wiped his eyes. "I have to meet Kakashi-sensei soon. I'll try to forget."
Iruka nodded but he wasn't really looking at the boy, he was getting lost in the past as faceless corpses rushed passed, and he didn't remember a single one. Just numbers.
Naruto left soon enough and arrived at the bridge to see Kakashi already waiting for him. "Kakashi-sensei! You're not late!" Naruto yelled in surprise.
Kakashi eye smiled at the blonde, before it dropped and he was serious. "I wanted to make sure you were okay after your first kill." He explained.
Naruto tried to smile and wave the concern away. "I'm fine. Iruka-nii talked to me about it, about how I should forget their face and stuff."
"Forget?" Kakashi sounded surprised. "I didn't take Iruka as a forgetter."
Naruto frowned. "What do you mean? Isn't that how shinobi get past the… guilt?"
Kakashi laughed darkly and shook his head. "Some maybe, but all shinobi have different ways of healing. There is no one right way." Kakashi lectured.
Naruto stepped closer to the jounin as he spoke. "How do you cope?" Naruto was honestly curious. If Iruka was a forgetter like Kakashi-sensei said, then what was Kakashi?
"I honour them. I'll tell you the same thing I told Kei when he first killed a man. The first few times you kill are the hardest, but then you remember that you are doing what is best for your life and what is best for the village. The enemy attacked you first, and you defended yourself. Every time a shinobi accepts a mission, they must prepare themselves to die or to kill. It's not that it gets easier, it's just that you get used to the blood. When I kill I remind myself that I do this so I can make it safer for Kei. So there is one less bad guy out there to hurt him. Afterwards I find a way to honour the life I took. You should always honour the person in some way. Whether it is just remembering their name, or giving them a goodbye." Kakashi explained, but he was looking off as if remembering the original incident and half living there and half in the present.
"Iruka-nii said to forget, that faceless corpses were guilt-less corpse." Naruto argued.
Kakashi shook his head to bring himself back to the present. "There is no right or wrong way to get through this. Just the way you think suits you best, but personally… when I die, I hope that the person who killed me would remember my name or honour me." Kakashi walked forward until he was in front of Naruto and pat the genin on the head. "That's all I wanted to talk to you about, so I will leave you here. You'll get through this and forge your own path Naruto, just believe in yourself." The jounin left after that.
As the swirling leaves of Kakashi's departure finally fell, Naruto was left with his mind full of swimming thoughts. Iruka said to forget, but Kakashi-sensei said to remember. It was confusing and he wasn't sure which he wanted to follow. But then a thought popped into his head. If he were killed, what would he want the attacker to do? Would he rather have the other shinobi forget his face to live free of guilt, able to continue on serving his village, or would he want them to remember and honour him?
Naruto sat down beside the bridge to think deeply on the matter. What would he want them to do?
He was slow to wake. Kei had woken up like this before after a practically brutal mission or two, but those times he always woke with the images of the battle flashing through is mind. This time he didn't. It was like his mind was blank and he had no clue how he ended up in this situation. Kei tried to walk himself through it slowly, but even the details leading up to the mission were blank. Everything seemed to be submerged in water in his mind and nothing was coming out clear.
A sound, it was faint and scrambled, but Kei heard it. With some effort he opened his eye and turned his head towards the sound, but his sight was too blurry to recognize anything. A dark blue and black blob approached him and as it got closer he could smell the faint scent of someone familiar. "Makoto…" Kei whispered. His voice was hoarse, and he had to struggle to get the name out, but he felt immense relief to know that he wasn't alone.
"Kei." The older boy said softly as he come up to the side of the bed.
"What happened?" Kei asked.
"I don't Kei, I don't know." Makoto's shape started clearing up, and Kei could start seeing details. Makoto was dressed in his ANBU uniform, his mask hanging off his hip, and sad expression on his face. "I don't think we have many missions left together." The bluenette choked on his words.
"Why…?" Kei felt himself starting to panic. "Makoto, we're supposed to be partners forever."
Makoto choked again and wrapped his arms around Kei tightly. "I know, but … Kei… you're not going to last much longer." His grip tightened as he delivered the news he thought he never would. "The Hokage is giving you two options. Stay in Konoha, retire, and she'll heal you as much as she can to give you more time, before you can pass peacefully. Or… we leave the village. We go back to Hogwarts finish the ward-stone, and only return to plant it, and then go me the Akatsuki."
"L-leave? Or retire… I can't Makoto." Kei couldn't understand what his partner was telling him. "I can't die yet. I'm supposed to have another year and a half." He argued. It wasn't true. Rikoto had told him how much time was left, and he had planned according to that.
Makoto gave a small hysterical laugh. "Nothing really goes according to plan does it?" He asked.
"But what happened to cause this?" Kei asked in a small voice.
"Your brain finally caught up to your body." Tsunade spoke up from the doorway.
Kei pierced the woman with a glare. He couldn't remember details but he knew he was mad at this woman for some reason.
Tsunade scoffed at his glare. "Yes yes, I'm mean, evil, out to get you, or whatever is going through your mind. Well shut it brat, it's not like that." The Hokage snapped.
Kei narrowed his eye, and refused to act any friendlier. "What do you mean my brain caught up to my body?"
The Hokage sighed as she walked further into the room and closed the door. With that act, Kei finally realized where he was. He was in an ANBU recovery room that was only used when ANBU were injured while training, or in such a way to give away their identity.
"Makoto get off the brat so I can talk to him properly." Tsunade commanded. Makoto pulled away with great reluctance but kept a hand on Kei's arm, not leaving him completely. "For years only your body was affected by your illness, but as your seizures grew in frequency the effects started a wear and tear on your brain as well. Have you ever studied the human brain?" Tsunade asked.
Kei shook his head no. He never had a reason to.
"Simply put there's certain areas that when stimulated can affect your emotions and memory. I purposely messed with the schedules on your last mission to test your reactions. What I heard from Shikaku and Naruto when I questioned him seemed to confirm some fears I had. When you arrived back I gave your brain a scan and noticed that those areas that affect your memory had been shocked.
"I think that when you enter a situation of increased stress, your body starts to send electrical shocks to your brain. It's using your natural affinity for lightening against you and increasing your fear, paranoia, and aversive cues. Naruto mentioned that you had become twitchy and that when you tied him up and held his hand that your hands were sweaty. These are side effects of the shocks that are hitting these spots in your brain. I couldn't be sure until you got back, but I suspected that this would happen soon. On my last scan I saw some signs but nothing that would be worrying. This mission I used to test you and now that my theory is proving correct, I have given you this choice. Retire or leave."
"I…I…" Kei didn't know what to do. He was trying to understand what the Hokage told him, but he wasn't sure he could. The only thing he understood for sure was that his brain was now as sick as his body. He really didn't have a lot of time left.
"If you stay you can spend your last days with Kakashi. You would still have months to say good bye, you could pass peacefully, without any pain, and know that you spent your last moments with your loved ones. If you leave, you will go back to your magical school and stay there until your suicide. Your body will still be in pain, but in the less stress environment of Hogwarts your body won't fight you as much. It would be impossible for you to stay on as a shinobi. The next mission could mean the complete electrocution of your brain." The Hokage explained. Her face was blank, but that really didn't keep the sadness and pity out of her voice.
"If I go, I'll be a missing-nin." Kei laughed, some of Makoto's earlier hysteria transferring to him. "It's becoming a common pattern. Everyone is becoming a missing-nin. Why can't we just die with everyone knowing that we served Konoha safely until the end?" Kei screamed at the end. The entire situation was hitting him hard as new struggles were thrown at him.
"I wouldn't label you as a nuke-nin. We can stage it so that you were on a mission when you were attacked. The building you were in will be blown up, your bodies won't be found, but I will spread the word that all the collection offices are under close watch for your bodies, and that all spies are keeping their ears close to the ground for a whisper of your presence. You will be MIA, but never a traitor. When easter break comes during your schooling, you can send one of your twin dogs back with blood and an obscure note. It will prove you're still alive, and hopefully keep your brother's spirits up until your death. Then I will tell him everything. I will tell him how you died protecting Konoha until the end."
Tsunade couldn't meet Kei's eyes. She had sat for hours in her office thinking over every possibility, and this is all she could offer. She didn't want to lose one of her best either, but sometimes sacrifices had to be made, and today it was Kei. The little Hatake had two paths in front of him and in her heart she knew which he would take, and that made her feel worse. She wished she could save him, she wished that he could continue being a regular shinobi, and she wished, so deeply, that she wouldn't have to break up a family today.
"Makoto?" Kei turned towards his partner, searching his face for something unknown.
"I'm with you, no matter what you choose." Makoto whispered.
"I want to be selfish." Kei announced. "I want to stay and cuddle Nii-san, and play with Kiba. I want to talk with Itachi again, and I want to hug Sasuke. I don't want to die without saying goodbye to them, or Kotetsu-nii, Izumo-nii, Kurenai, Asuma, Anko, and Gai-sensei. I want to die knowing that I told them that I appreciated everything they have ever done for me, everything they have ever given me. Can I do that?" Kei asked.
"You can." Tsunade answered. "But you won't."
Kei's head dropped. "No I won't. I'm a shinobi and I can't just retire or quit. I'll fight for this village until the day I die."
"You could leave them letters. I'm sure the Hokage would be willing to deliver them after your death." Makoto suggested.
The canine pair looked towards the Hokage, wondering if the woman would agree. Tsunade didn't speak, she didn't know if she could in that moment. She merely nodded her head, silently promising that she would do anything in her power to help pass along their last words to their loved ones.
"Then I guess we should get started on those letters." Kei laughed lightly, trying to break the mood, but choked at the end, unable to stop the overwhelming depression that captured him.
"Sai will be here soon. He will go with you and be the one to report back that you have gone missing. He will also be the liaison between Konoha and the Uchiha spies." Tsunade explained to them. Both boys nodded, not really listening as they tried to formulate their last letters. "I'm so sorry about this boys." She whispered before leaving.
Kei sighed. "I thought I would be taller when we finally prepared for our last mission together." Kei admitted.
Makoto laughed. "I had hoped we would both have grey hair."
"Can you get Nii-san's book for me?" Kei asked.
"Sure." Makoto stood and went over to the pile of Kei's possessions. He carefully removed a small orange book, and brought it over to Kei.
Kei cracked the book open and flipped through the pages until he found a blank one. A part of his mind was informing him that this would be the last time he got to write to his brother. Kei took a pen from Makoto's out stretched hand and started writing.
I won't be able to write you again after today, so I think it's time I told you the truth of what is going on. When you read this, everything will be okay. I will make sure of it. The truth is… I've been sick… and for a long time. Remember when I was six and I came home after my first kill? He left more than just a few scars behind…
A week. A week had passed since Tsunade had talked to Kei and Makoto and now Sai stood in front her. She had sent the boys to the Land of Stone to stage the attack. The Land of Stone had no major ties to any of the five great shinobi countries, and had become a bit of a gathering place for missing-nin that wanted a vacation. It was also between Iwa and Sound country so when word got around that two well-known Konoha-nin were captured there, eyes would be looking at both villages. Not that Tsunade minded considering she didn't have any fond feelings for either country.
"Everything went off without a hitch. They escaped to the outer lands before the building collapsed with Zabuza and his apprentice. I planted many clues to make it look like a planned attack from the enemy and even gave myself some injuries so that I appear to have barely made it out." Sai said in a monotone voice.
Tsunade nodded, before standing up. "Write a formal report, just like we discussed. I need to inform two families that their loved ones are missing." She felt her age as she walked out of her office with a grim face. First she would visit the civilian family; Makoto's family was bound to be easier to tell than Kakashi.
Makoto carried Kei as he walked up the steps to the Wood Manor. Oliver Wood had offered Kei a place to stay, and Makoto was taking advantage of that. His little partner was still weak, but he hoped that Kei would be back on his feet by the time they had to return to Hogwarts. It was only a few days away, but he had hope, and frankly that's all he could rely on.
Hope that Kei will make it through.
I tried to make this chapter more optimistic than the last, but I'm not sure I succeeded. It kinda got away from me once I found inspiration to write.
I want to send a big thank you to Mrs Kitsune. I was having trouble writing after being ridiculously sick, and the death of a family member, but she messaged me one night, pretended to be a shrink, and got me writing. So THANK YOU!
Occ/Leg: 7, Tie: 3, Special Uchiha Eyes: 26 … Wood and Balls: 20, Tie:8, Naruto:18
Who is more obsessed with food? Naruto vs. Ron
Who is the cooler Canine? Pakkun vs. Padfoot