-Prologue-


"Ummm baa-chan!"

"Hmm?"

"Why did you give me this necklace?"

"You don't like it? Then, should I take it back?"

"No! No! No! No!"

"Then why are you asking me these silly questions today?"

"It-It's just that I don't get presents like this very often, you know"

A smile blossomed on that beautiful face of hers. "Ahh... so that's what the real issue is huh, Naruto?"

"Y-yes"

"Then you have to get used to it, Naruto."

"Why?"

"Because I'm going to shower you with gifts once you take this seat of Hokage from me!"

"I see...".

He finally smiled.

-x-

Blood.

An inconceivable amount of blood.

It was everywhere. From the North to the South and from the West to the East, everything was painted red.

The soil of his village had turned crimson red from the blood that soaked it and the skies above were enveloped in the shadows of dark mournful clouds.

Everywhere he looked, there was nothing left but a shroud of grief and resentment. It's all because of him. He was the reason why it all happened in the first place. They were after him. That heinous organization wanted him and yet, these people were the ones to pay the price for it. Why? Just why?

"Baa-chan" fresh tears fell down to the ground, tainting the already red soil. "Why?" his fingers gently hugged her cold hand. "Why did I have to be so late?" he murmured, his voice barely a whisper. "Why couldn't Nagato complete that technique of his?" his voice increased a little as his fingers gouged deep into her palm, searching for a sliver of life left in her. "Why did he have to run out of chakra?" Blue eyes lost themselves in the dull ocean of brown color. "Why do you have to be the one who gets left out?" He stared at the lifeless and wrinkled face of the old woman as a cascade of sweet and sour memories took hold of his broken mind.

-x-

"I'm sorry, Naruto".

"Sorry won't bring him back!"

"I-I know".

"If Ero Sennin was the Hokage, he would have never sent you to that mission".

-x-

"I'm sorry."

He wanted to die. There was no reason for him to continue living. Everyone he knew and wished to protect was already gone. The old man, Iruka-sensei, Ero-sennin, and now his precious baa-chan.

She was there, resting peacefully in his blood covered arms, dead and silent. Her whole body was covered in bruises and a thick layer of blood but still, she had that damn smile on her beautiful face. "Why are you still smiling?" Raising his hand, he flicked a few strands of hair from her face and tucked them behind her ears. "You should be sad too" the cracks in his voice increased. "You left me alone, just as other people did!" words floundered in his mouth as he tried to argue with the dead body of his baa-chan. "You abandoned me! You left me behind in this cruel world, Baa-chan!" he finally cried out to the lifeless form of the woman, and the dreadful silence which followed his outburst only made him more furious.

But his baa-chan wasn't the only one he was grieving for. By her side, he saw Hinata's body, dried with blood from the injuries that Pain caused her. The black rods that stuck deep into her abdomen had been removed, and in their place were now holes with blood seeping through, staining away her clothes.

-x-

"I love you, Naruto."

"Hinata!"

"A pitiful fool dying for love. What a waste."

-x-

"Hinata….."

His mind formed a mental image of the once young girl, too shy to even utter a word, much less speak an entire sentence to him. He didn't know, he didn't know about the feelings of this girl who claimed to love him deeply. He believed himself to be a fool for not knowing that, blaming his own attitude for not noticing her love for him. He wondered what it would have been like, to return her feelings, to go out together, to eat together, to sleep together, raise a family together and eventually die together in each other's arms when their time came. But now… but now, it is just another thing on the list of things he couldn't do, and the person? Another name on the list of people he couldn't save.

"Naruto."

Naruto immediately recognized the voice and like a boulder of imperishable ice, her words froze his soul and broke down the remaining courage left inside him. "Sakura" after a while, he finally acknowledged the presence of the girl.

The girl known as Sakura stiffened at his gloomy voice. "Don't talk like that Naruto!" she spoke, seizing the attention of the surrounding people in the process. "You are not the reason why this happened" her words held a sense of sadness and sympathy within them. It was as if she was feeling more despair for the boy than for herself.

"No, you are wrong! It's all because of me" Naruto retaliated and tried to concede himself as guilty of every single accusation she couldn't shoot towards him. He knew she was sad and wanted to rain her frustration at someone, and why wouldn't she? After all, she was Tsunade's beloved student. After him and Shizune, if there was someone Tsunade truly admired then it was her, Sakura Haruno.

"She loved you, Naruto. You were like a family to her, someone whom she wanted to protect at any cost" Sakura whispered as a fresh trail of tears splashed down on the damp ground of Konoha.

"I know," he reiterated in his prior dull voice.

"She didn't perish in a meaningless death. She died protecting you!"

"I know."

"She sacrificed her status, her honor, and even herself for you. She did all of that so you can live a happy life!" Finally, Sakura's anger exploded due to a lack of feedback from her teammate. The pain, the anger, and the sorrow which were running through her blood scattered in the form of words. The dreadful sight of the bloodied body of her teacher only emphasized it further.

"I know."

Something inside her snapped and her heart stopped for a fraction of a second. "You idiot" she roared, surprising her other friends who were trying to calm down the terrified civilians. Her message was simple but the meaning it held for Naruto was inexplicable and was plentiful to send shivers down his spine.

"Do you really think you could have saved her? No!" she screamed furthermore as her hands gripped the collar of his torn shirt. "Pain was an extremely powerful enemy, Naruto. Unlike others who had attacked our village in the past, he had no distinct objectives" she snarled. "He didn't want to hurt us for power and wealth. He just wanted to inflict pain and misery upon us!. My teacher and everyone else who couldn't be revived died because he wanted them to wither. They all were very close to you and he knew that." sharp words sliced through the suffocating silence and embedded themselves into his very soul.

"I-I" words succumbed in his mouth when the soft skin of her hands made contact with his cheek.

"Naruto... look at me."

He didn't, he couldn't look at her. Her face was covered with tears and he couldn't withstand that. Tears never looked good on her beautiful face. "Leave me alone Sakura. I don't deserve your kindness" he faltered as his lips were shut down when suddenly another hand connected with the skin of his cheek, but unlike the last time, this time they were connected harshly.

"Sakura!" Shikamaru Nara who was watching everything from the sidelines shouted at the girl. "Leave him" his words came out as normal to the civil population of the village but every shinobi around him was able to decipher the hidden irritation in them.

"Yeah, I think it's best if you leave it be Sakura." Shino, the famous bug shinobi of the group, followed after a disgruntled and silent Kiba, whose demeanor was unlike his usual self.

"Shino…" The sadness in his voice only increased as he glanced at the dear friend of Hinata.

Ino, knowing that Naruto was going to cry again, twitched into the action too. "Let him be forehead," she instructed the girl who in return, began to stare at her in surprise. "Death is a part of our job description as much as it is for us to take lives. While dwelling on the subject is ill advised, let him at least grieve for the dearly departed. He needs this." Her lips formed a sad smile at the end of her statement as she recalled the death of her own teacher, Asuma Sarutobi

"But-But" Sakura was speechless. Her friends and even her best friend were condemning her for her behavior. Instead of chastising and motivating this idiot, they were belittling her for her actions.

"They are right, Sakura" a faint whisper touched her ears and she immediately turned around.

"Sensei!" she exclaimed as raw tears sparkled in her red eyes again.

Kakashi regarded the girl for a while before his eyes veered over to the lifeless form of his now-former Hokage, 'Lady Tsunade'. "Naruto" he whispered to the boy who was sitting quietly beside the corpse. "I know what you're going through, Naruto. I know your pain."

Pain.

'To understand others truly, one must understand their pain.'

'Uzumaki Naruto, one day you will understand my pain.'

Pain.

"He was right" Naruto's broken words attracted the interminable attention of others. "We can never truly understand each other, sensei" placing his hands on the ground he tugged himself back to his feet. "You all can never understand me and I can never understand you all" he chuckled blankly at the stunned people of Konoha. "This is our Destiny" he whispered and on cue, the skies screamed in the boisterous clamor of thunder.

A grim look covered Kakashi's face as a wave of nostalgia swept over him. He had seen that look before. That look of plain bitterness and loneliness. He knew it. He had experienced it. "You are wrong-" before he could even begin, his female student did something unbelievable.

"Naruto" Having enough of his stupid monologue, Sakura cried out and hugged him tightly, an action that the boy didn't even try to return. "There is nothing I need to know more about you" she hissed as droplets of rain crammed the cracks on her skin, mixing with the transparent tears. "You are my friend and future Hokage of this village, Uzumaki Naruto" her words stirred something inside the people of Konoha again. "Tsunade-sama, Jiraiya-sama, Sandaime-sama, and Yondaime-sama believed in you, Naruto. They not only sacrificed their lives for this village but also for you, Naruto. Even the shy and gentle Hinata did… she always chased after you and believed that you will achieve your dreams. We laughed at her at the time, telling her that you were only a fool dreaming of things you could never have but she never gave up on believing you." Fierce green eyes regarded her teammate's face for a while before returning to the deep blue pools of his.

"Sakura!" Kakashi was in total shock. His mind couldn't believe what was happening. His student, who had never even made an effort to acknowledge the presence of the boy, was encouraging him like no one other. Maybe it was because of the current situation, but whatever it was, he was glad to see that change in her.

Sakura smiled at her teacher. "You don't know, sensei" She began. "How afraid I was when I saw the decimated state of our village. Those powerful eyes of that monster were so terrifying, sensei. They spared no one who dared to cross their path. Even Tsunade-sama was afraid of those eyes." A whimper shook her whole body as she recalled the frightened look on the face of her teacher.

"But then Pain mentioned Naruto's inevitable death to her!" Her voice took a gentle turn and soon a small smile flickered on her lips. "And everything changed. I immediately saw the change in her eyes. At that moment she looked like she finally found the reason to fight those eyes. Even on the verge of her death, she was smiling because she knew that you will handle the rest, Naruto" Her words forced Naruto to look at her.

"She is right, Naruto!. Do not blame yourself for what has happened here." Sai, the impassive member of Team 7 walked out of the populace to encourage his one and only friend. "The people who had lost their lives loved you more than anything else," He clarified to the confused boy. Right now, if there was anything he wanted then it was to help his true friend.

"Love" A wistful smile replaced the frown on Naruto's face. "I wasted my whole life in search of people who could acknowledge and love me, Sai." Each word was followed by an increase in the pelting of water, and numerous fragile streams of blood started eroding their way through the soil of Konoha. "When I finally found them, the Gods above snatched them away from me." He growled and veered off his eyes over to Shino.

"You must hate me now… causing the death of one of your teammates, ehh Shino?"

Shino immediately shook his head in response. "No." He whispered. "What Hinata did was her own choice and I am proud to have called herself my friend and my comrade. I don't blame you nor do I hate you."

Naruto blinked, unable to digest the answer as he was sure he deserved to be hated. Even he, the ever optimistic and forgiving person, couldn't bring himself to forgive the man behind Jiraiya's death. So, how was Shino, a boy who had spent years with Hinata, was able to forgive him just like that? "But she lost-"

"Argh! ENOUGH!" Kiba finally had enough. "You bastard! Do you even know what you are saying? If Hinata was alive right now, then she would have slapped you to oblivion for behaving like a pathetic human being. After all the pains that she endured for you, this is how you treat her?! By crying over her death like a child and begging for everyone's forgiveness."

"KIBA!" All of the people yelled in unison.

However, Kiba didn't heed them any attention and kept on uttering whatever was coming to his mouth. "The Uzumaki Naruto she loved would have never done this but then again, I think that person died with her too!"

"That's enough, Kiba." Shino gripped his friend's hand tightly and yanked him to the side.

"Argh...Whatever. I cannot stand the stench of this idiot anymore." Kiba untangled his hand and began to walk away from the group, followed by an extremely sad Akamaru.

Shino stared at his friend's retreating form for a while before he bowed his head and looked at Naruto. "I apologize on his behalf, Naruto. Kiba is in an emotionally unstable state right now. He cannot handle the grief and vented out those words to you. Don't take them to hea-"

Naruto stopped the boy by waving his hand nonchalantly. "It's fine, Shino. He's partly right anyway. I'm a pathetic human being but the reason for this change is the death of my loved ones. Tsunade and Ero-sennin, they both were very close to my heart. They were like a family to me but now, they both are dead and I don't know what to do anymore."

"Naruto" Kakashi broke down. "That's enough Naruto. You of all people should understand the sacrifice they made. I won't allow you to drown yourself in self pity."

Kakashi knew that look and feeling more than anyone else did as he had once been in Naruto's shoes.

"Let him speak, sensei. I wanna know more about our friend" Shikamaru strode past his teacher and placed himself in front of his childhood friend. "Tell me more about your pain, Naruto" he urged the boy to continue his speech because he really wanted to witness the pain that resides in the heart of the boy. If understanding each other's pain was the right way then Shikamaru was all inclined for it. Kyūbi or not, Idiot or not, this boy was his best friend and he would make sure he remains the same at all costs.

Naruto shivered when his eyes met the damp and curious eyes of his friend. It was the first time someone other than Ero Sennin and Tsunade had wished to know more about his life. "Everyone I love dies in one way or another, Shika." He replied and immediately squirmed when Shikamaru inclined his head towards him. Naruto knew his friend wouldn't humiliate him in front of everyone but still, that blank look of his was incomprehensibly twisting his heart. "The only thing common in their deaths is me. I'm the reason why they all perished. Even Iruka sensei lost his life because of me." Mustering the remaining courage inside him, he uttered his final words and finished his explanation.

Shikamaru remained silent for a while. His sharp eyes, which were locked on Naruto, were now inspecting the different expressions that other people around them had on their faces. Civilians, as usual, were staring at them in curiosity and panic while the other part of the population, the shinobis were just observing everything quietly. "I see. Then what are you going to do now?" he finally glanced back at his friend and raised a question that he knew would dictate the future of his village.

Naruto didn't waste any time answering. "I want to stay away from this village as much as possible, just like Ero Sennin and Tsunade baa-chan. With Pain dead, his group Akatsuki is no more functional, so I don't have any reason to stay here." He spoke with a little depth to his voice while making sure to keep the secret about Madara to himself. That man was still walking on this land and hard or not, Naruto was ready to do everything to protect his remaining friends from the dangers that followed that man.

If he refused to do that then sooner or later, Madara would attack his village in order to catch him, resulting in even more casualties, something that for sure would make his friends hate his existence then.

'Uzumaki Naruto, you don't know anything about the people of this world. They are very fearful creatures, it doesn't matter if they are a friend or an enemy. They fear everything which overwhelms them. Be it physically or be it their imagination. Gradually, that fear cultivates a seed of hatred inside their devious hearts and then, they show you their true colors.'

He flashed a fleeting smile to his friends. "Please let me do this," he trailed off. "Please everyone. I want to remain alone now." he turned around and pleaded to his friends, hoping that they would understand his predicament and would accept his proposal.

"I can't allow you to do it, Naruto" Sai answered in his desolate voice, eyeing his friend as if he was the most stupid person on the planet at that moment. "According to one book I have read, one must stay with his or her friends no matter what happens."

"He is right, Naruto. No matter how much we suffer, I can never bring myself to hate you" Shikamaru smiled sadly at the boy. "We have lost a lot of people today, one too many to the madness of a maniac. However, I don't blame you. You saved a whole lot more by defeating that madman." he grumbled uncharacteristically. "We have both lost a precious part of our hearts throughout this whole journey, Naruto. You lost Jiraiya, Iruka, and others while I lost Asuma-sensei and Chōji" Now that shocked Naruto to no end because as far as he knew only a few people were unable to receive the effect of that technique. Tsunade, Iruka, Ayame, and Teuchi being one of them, but he knew nothing about Chouji.

"C-C-Chouji?" he rasped.

Shikamaru sighed and drifted his eyes away from the boy. He didn't want to hurt him anymore, and tears that were starting to accumulate in his eyes didn't help on that part. "He and Kakashi were gravely injured during the fight with one of the paths. Kakashi was revived but Chōji on the other hand, was not so fortunate." he managed to speak between the silent sobs.

Like precisely crafted arrows, Shikamaru's words impaled his heart and soon it was covered in the wounds of sorrow and pain. "I'm sorry" Slender fingers clenched the hem of his shirt to stop the flow of desperation and remorse that were simmering inside his veins. "I'm sorry" he repeated. Shikamaru was suffering yet again because of him. First his teacher, Asuma, and now his best friend, Chouji. It was all because of him and the fox inside his abdomen.

Kakashi felt like he was useless for the first time in many years. It was painful for him to watch Naruto like that, to watch him beg forgiveness for something that was out of his control. The last time he had felt like this was when his teacher sacrificed himself for the village while he just sat there silently on the sidelines and watched everything unfold. Since then he had trained himself to his limits so that none of his loved ones would have to suffer the same fate as his old team members did. "Naruto," he murmured, his voice cracking at the mere sight of helpless Naruto. "It isn't your fault," he whispered again because that was all he could do at that moment.

"Your isolation won't bring them back, Naruto" This time it was Sakura who spoke. Her master was right. Naruto was truly an extraordinary person. Instead of bragging about his newfound powers and how he saved everyone, he was begging for their forgiveness for the things that weren't under his control, to begin with.

"They are gone. They have played their part. Your apologies will neither bring them back nor would it make us feel better. You need to become strong. Strong enough to make sure that their sacrifices did not go in vain. Strong enough to make sure that this never repeats, ever again." Her face was all red because of the embarrassment and frustration she was feeling. She had never acted this supportive for him before, it had always been the other way around. He had supported her through everything no matter what, so doing this for the first time in front of everyone was a bit unsettling.

She also realized that her teammate wasn't as happy with his life as he let others believe. Rather he was carrying a lot of sadness inside him. He had helped countless people get through difficult times, but not a single person had ever managed to see past his happy facade and see the sadness buried below, her being one of them. The thought made her want to hit herself, but it could wait, she had a friend to help.

Naruto lowered his head in shame. Sakura was right, his sorry wouldn't do anything. "I know," He admitted. "That's why I have decided to stay away from you guys in the first place. I want inner peace now and that can only be achieved when I'm alone." he declared, shocking everyone again.

"Naruto!" Kakashi, Sai, and Shikamaru snapped at him in unison. They couldn't believe what they were hearing. Naruto, the one who always yearned for attention and acknowledgment from others, was going to stay alone from now on. The whole thing sounded stupid and unfair to him.

Kakashi was the first to object. "You, have you sunk so far to not realize what you're doing? Do you understand what you're saying right now? You are becoming the one thing that you detested most right now. You are leaving, just as Sasuke did."

"Sasuke left-"

Kakashi cut him off. "Sasuke left in search of power. Yes, he left for revenge but how is it any different from you right now? Your motivations may be different but you are doing the same thing he did."

Naruto looked down in shame as he knew that Kakashi was right. He knew that he was essentially doing the same thing that Sasuke once did but unlike Sasuke who left for power, he was leaving for peace. "Those who break the rules are scum, but those who abandon their comrades are worse than scum. I didn't forget this lesson, sensei and I promise you, I never will."

Kakashi froze for a second. "Good, then you are-"

Naruto, however, cut him off before he could say anything. "However my decision remains the same, sensei. I am leaving." He declared.

"Why?"

"Because I am not abandoning my comrades."

Knowing that there wasn't much to argue anymore, Kakashi decided to try his luck for one last time. "We have already told you before, Naruto. Running away is not the solution. You will only worry us even more. If you want to find peace, then let us help you. We can trai-"

"I'm not running away, sensei. I am merely taking some time off from the village." For the thousandth time that day, Naruto interrupted his teacher. "Staying in this village is too painful for me right now. This village reminds me of everything that I had failed to save. I'm afraid that things will only get worse if I stay here, both to myself and the others."

Kakashi finally understood what Naruto was doing. He was following the exact same path that Jiraiya and Tsunade had once traveled, a strange path full of loneliness and peace. It was a path that Kakashi wished no one to travel but in the end, he had to respect his student's wish. So with a heavy heart, he smiled at Naruto. "If that's what you want then I won't stop you anymore, Naruto. It's your wish and if this is how you want to honor Jiraiya and Tsunade-sama then so be it. "

Naruto gave a silent look of gratitude to his teacher before another memory struck his fragile mind.

-x-

'Why do you constantly irritate her by calling her Baa-chan, Naruto?'

'Because I like calling her that, ero sennin.'

'Hmph! You always make fun of us brat. Show us some respect, you know.'

'Respect? Hahaha. What is that?'

'Laugh as much as you want brat, but I promise you, one day you will regret not showing us the love and respect we deserve.'

-x-

Fresh tears flooded his eyes as countless memories of those two began to fill his mind. "I promise I won't disappoint you, anyone, again, sensei" he finally spoke to his teacher again, his blue eyes regarding him with respect.

"Huh? What sort of claim is that? You have never disappointed me, Naruto. All you have ever done is make me feel proud."

Naruto remained still, his eyes still resting on his face. "I see. Then I'll make you proud again. You can believe that!" he whispered to his teacher, his voice finally gaining some emotions and life.

Kakashi knew at that moment that there was no stopping him from leaving. When Naruto was dead set on doing something, there was nothing anyone could do that would stop him. Knowing this, with a heavy heart he just stepped forward and hugged his student, desperately trying not to cry in front of everyone.

Naruto stiffened at the contact, but after a while he slowly hugged the man back. He could feel Kakashi's form shaking and that made him feel even more guilty about what he was going to do. The teacher and student stayed in that position for a while before Naruto decided that he should get going and decided to pull away.

Kakashi offered no resistance as he felt Naruto retract. As he watched Naruto sprint off into the distance, his mind drifted to Nagato's last words to his student.

'My eyes can discern something extraordinary in you, Uzumaki Naruto. You are just like me yet, very distinct from me at the same time. Your decisions will determine the future of this cursed world. So to guide you through your journey, I grant you my vision.'

"Stay safe Naruto."


-A few Months Later-


Naruto was at peace. After that horrendous disaster which was his awkward interaction with those people, everything has changed for him. Long gone was that stupid blonde knucklehead who wanted the attention of others. Now, he was just a normal shinobi and all he wished for was peace and solitude.

After that conversation with his friends, he immediately moved away from Konoha because he knew people wouldn't let him live peacefully there, especially Sakura who was still very concerned about him.

There would always be someone who's going to interrupt him or attempt to bring him back to their nutty group. He didn't want to be associated with any person or group anymore. Right now, he wanted to be known as a Wanderer who was in search of the power to protect this world.

~Ding~

A smile spread over his lips when his ears picked up the melodious sound of his stove. Pushing himself to his feet, he unhurriedly trekked to the paradise of his home, his tiny but magnificent kitchen. A place where he usually spends most of his day now, endeavoring to learn every recipe present there. He was sure that if Ayame or Teuchi were still alive they would have been very happy with his progress. They had tried to make him learn several recipes, but he always declined saying that he had them and Shizune to cook for him.

"Ahhh" he sighed when the blissful aroma of steaming ramen and miso reached his nostrils. No matter how many recipes he acquires, nothing could beat the flavor of Miso ramen. It's divine. "The food of the Gods" he whispered as he took a few more whiffs of the aroma. "Hah! Who would have thought I would turn out to be a master... Aaii Aaii Aaii" he screamed when the burning hot steel met the soft and delicate skin of his fingers. "Stupid! Stupid!" he chided himself for his silliness. "Now where are those gloves?" His eyes drowned in a lavender color as they scanned the room for the current most essential part of cookery. "Ahhh" he smiled when he finally found his favorite premium edition green mittens lying beside the counters.

"Banshō Ten'in"

"There..." he giggled when the mittens finally made contact with his palm. "This is such a useful Jutsu" he murmured as he carefully lifted up the cooker from the heated surface of the stove. "I should be thanking Nagato for it but am I gonna? Nah" Lifting the lid, Naruto immediately stepped away from the silverware in order to protect himself from the flavorful and hot steam of the food.

"Shinra Tensei"

He moaned in relief when in a matter of seconds the steam evacuated the house through the ventilation network. "Ok... I probably should thank that man" he thought to himself but again concluded against it. That man doesn't deserve shit from him. He was a maniac who stole everything away from him. "Oiii Oiii" he pinched himself to protect his sanity from the brewing dark emotions. "Ero Sennin and Baa-chan wanted to see me live happily and I won't disappoint them" he chirped as he undid his cooking apron and relaxed on one of the chairs positioned at the large dining table.

Lavender eyes twinkled again and soon a moderate-sized Chinese bowl was positioned in front of him. "Now let's see how it tastes" Picking up the wooden ladle, he dipped it in the creamy broth present inside the cooker. He swirled the broth for a minute before he laid the ladle and amassed a nice amount of liquid out of the cooker. "There There" he couldn't help but smile as his eyes evaluated the contents of the broth. Everything was perfect and he knew it. "Perfecto" he hummed when the broth finally filled the bowl. "I still can't believe I can make things as amazing as this masterpiece" his hands subsequently lifted the bowl and looked at it as some kind of godly creation, even though it was his own. He swore that he heard angels singing and a faint bright light emitting from it. He then reached the closest drawer and plucked out a pair of chopsticks.

~Snap~.

Like a fragile piece of art, the wooden ornament snapped into two symmetrical sticks. "Thanks for the meal!" he whispered. "Now let's eat!" The smile he had on his face did nothing to hide his enthusiasm, he was proud of his accomplishments.

"Blissssss..." he fluttered in ecstasy. "It's really amazing" Raising the sticks, he seized another bite. "Broth could have been a little spicy though," he couldn't help but notice the little bland texture of the liquid. "I will remember to put in more spices next time" he assured himself and resumed his delicious meal.


-oOo-


Anastasia was not pleased with her current life.

Throughout her entire life, she had been nothing but a sad lonely girl, one who had always yearned for attention and love from others as she was unable to get it from her family.

Left alone with tragic and dark memories of her once alive parents, she never got any chance to fully experience the emotion that was the happiness of having a family. Unlike the other people around her, who were well adapted to the notion of having friends and forming new bonds, she was inexperienced in everything except for the monotonous and cold destruction that she could cause through her magic.

Magic.

A strange power given to her by a monster that refused to leave her side. Even now, in this colorless and noiseless void of nothingness, she was sure that monster was hiding somewhere within her and that fact made her angry. Why? Because that monster was the reason why she was so lonely.

If that monster had let her die with her family that day then she wouldn't have been forced to participate in this ridiculous and redundant cycle of resurrection and death. It was only because of him that she was even considered a hero. Otherwise, she was sure she had no quality of being one. She was a weak and miserable individual who failed to protect her loved ones. Forget protecting, she even failed to meet them in the afterlife as she was forced to enlist herself in a foolish game.

Holy Grail.

That was the ultimate prize in the war and she wouldn't lie, it was a rather wonderful prize for a competition as trivial as a battle between few individuals and their servants.

If not for some few extraordinary servants that could be summoned on a whim by different summoners, Anastasia was sure she could win the contest with a little to no trouble. Unfortunately, that was not the case. No matter how much she wishes for that to happen, it was something that had no chance of happening. As long as the cycle continues, she would be summoned by some foolish mortal and then die at the hands of some other powerful servants.

It was inevitable and she had already accepted that reality a long time ago. Her existence was meant to be abused by the people she had no control over and as long as that was going to happen, she was going to suffer.

"I want a normal life."

And yet here she was, soliciting for a life that could be as normal as those very mortal that she despised to no end. A life filled with love and the presence of a family was all she wanted. Her heart desired no power to rival the Gods nor it desired to become immortal. All it wanted was a family.

Or an absolute demise.

If she couldn't get a family, then the only thing she desired was an absolute demise. At least then she could emancipate herself from the endless cycle of war that had wasted her life and the monster that refused to leave her alone.

"But they are just some insignificant dreams that can never turn into a reality."

A rare sad smile bloomed on her lips as she continued to float aimlessly in the colorless void, waiting for someone to summon her into that chaotic world once again.

"Here it is."

Her cold blue eyes sparkled dazzlingly when a beam of light pierced the gloomy skies of the void and began to descend on her.

"I hope it's a nice person this time."

Slender hands clasped the little doll tightly within their hold as the ray of light finally reached near her and engulfed her whole body within its radiance.

~Blink~

In a blink, she completely vanished from the void, leaving behind nothing but insufferable silence that had been haunting her for decades.


-oOo-


Uzumaki Naruto was in a dilemma. His brain was working on a plausible solution for the problem in front of him. It all started with a dire mistake on his part. "I shouldn't have eaten this much. Now, who is going to clear this mess" he slumped in depression, his eyes trying not to look at the mountain of dirty dishes that had been accumulated in the sink.

Let it be known, he disliked cleaning dishes as much as he liked eating ramen. They were the most useless and boring part of cooking, useless according to him at least. Who actually liked doing the dishes? The activity was annoying but he knew it was necessary. "If only Rinnegan had a technique to clean dishes too." He wailed to the Gods above, after all, one could only hope they would help him after all they have put him through.

His wails ceased when a pungent smell entered his nose. "Eww," His nose crinkled in disgust. It was horrible. "Guess I have to do this all by myself" He sighed. It was moments like this when he truly missed having someone beside him. When Shizune and Tsunade were alive, they used to do all the work for him while he would just slack off on the couch like a dumbhead he was. "They must be laughing at me from the above" He pouted as his hand gently plucked out a small bowl from the sink. "Can't I at least have one of them back, God?" He complained, a small smile adorning his face. The idea of having them back in his life was enough to light up his mood.

'Rumble.'

The skies above roared loudly, a thing that made him stop whatever he was doing. "Wait!" Naruto shrieked as the entire house started shaking violently due to the power of the storm. "Are you really sending them back?" He looked at the shaking ceiling of the house with a stupid grin plastered on his face.

Stretching his hands in front, he jokingly began to wait for the person to fall down, all while knowing very well that it was just a waste of time. "Huh?" The grin on his lips flickered a bit when he sensed a presence right above his house. A presence without an ounce of chakra.

'Bam!'

A groan left his mouth as he fell straight to the ground."Ow-" He would have cursed his luck again for everything had he not noticed the girl who was resting uneasily above him. "Umm… who are you?" His eyes flickered a little with confusion as she began to accommodate herself on his chest.

His body tensed when their blue eyes met each other. "Ana..." The girl tried to speak something but ultimately decided to remain silent. Maybe due to anxiety, he thought.

"I asked who you are?" He asked her again, but this time in a more serious manner.

"Umm..."

His sharp eyes observed the girl for a while more before he finally stood up a little so that she was resting on his lap now. "Tell me," he warned her as a kunai finally materialized in his hand out of nowhere.

"There is a noodle on your face."

"..."


-END-


I hope you liked the prologue.

If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to ask them.

Don't forget to leave a review if you like it. It's just a random idea that came into my mind while reading drafts of an old story of mine and will only be continued if it gets a decent response.

Thanks.

Stay safe.