The clock struck eight as she stepped inside the room.
It was a barren space. A desk and a few chairs occupied the space but not much else. No posters, no fanfare. Just barren walls, a few pieces of furniture and a single child.
He looked sad to her. Sad in the way that should be unfamiliar to a child his age. His face seemed to sag with emotions he shouldn't have been capable of experiencing. The clothes on his body hung in a unnatural manner, almost as if the kid was rejecting their presence. The paleness of his skin made her guess that he spent more time inside than out.
"Come with me."
Unfortunately, she wasn't being paid to care about such things. Her observations would remain just that. Though, despite that, she couldn't help the pang of guilt that ran through her at the boy's response to her voice. A small jump or flinch would have been passable. The slow and almost mechanical movement of his head through her completely off. When her eyes met with her own, her stomach dropped within itself.
"Poor kid." She turned and plodded out the room, unable to hold his gaze for too long. A few moments later, she heard the door open once more, indicating the boy was following her.
She kept her eyes forward during the entirety of their journey.
Kakashi rose at the word. As he stood, his eyes met with the speaker. The older man's dark eyes seemed to pierce into his own.
"You've filled out."
Hard labor would do that. Considering his veteran status in the village and being known as one of the three strongest shinobi, Kakashi had assumed he kept a decent training regime to keep in shape.
He was wrong.
To have his chakra stripped down to the level of a civilian broke him down in more ways than one. He felt powerless in a way he hadn't felt since his discovery of his father's death. The feeling extended in a physical manner. In his state, an academy student could have bested him.
The labor only added to his burden. His body was not prepared for it. The first weeks of his punishment were spent in agony. He didn't fall asleep, he simply passed out from exhaustion after each day. It was only after three months diid his body begin to acclimate. The weight he had initially dropped returned him in a refined manner. His body did not ache anymore. His hands did not bleed. Sleep was a treat he only cared to indulge in on a weekly basis.
He was confident that if Guy challenged him to a fight, he could take him with all eight gates unlocked.
"I've had plenty of time to work out."
"Amongst other things, I hope?"
His newly found strength almost tricked him into believing he could fight the man in front of him. Of course after six months locked in a labor camp he had put some thoughts to his actions. He didn't need the man who had doled out his punishment to remind him of such.
"Of course. My mind was as active as my body."
Hiruzen hummed in response and then two fell into silence. Kakashi stood at attention, his eyes never leaving Hiruzen even as the older man made himself busy with the paperwork sitting on his desk. It was only after a solid five minutes of waiting did the Hatake break.
"How is Naruto?" That got the Hokage's attention. He set aside the paperwork with a heavy sigh before locking eyes with his subordinate.
"He is only ten yet faces the psychological trauma of a ninja who has experienced a war. His disposition oscillates between being fearful of any human or personal contact and the uncontrollable desire to physically lash out at any living creature around him in order to protect himself. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue as he is a young, untrained child but he possesses a weapon capable of erasing an individual from existence with a single hit."
The statement hit him hard and he knew Hiruzen had worded it as such to ensure that it affected him. His mind blazed through thousands of different scenarios while his body remained stoic. At the forefront of all his thoughts were the faces of his sensei and his wife.
How disappointed they must be.
"Will I be allowed to see him?"
"You'll be doing more than seeing him." His hopes rose as the older man reached into one of the drawers of his desk. He moved for the first time, catching the scroll that was thrown at him by his superior.
"Your current and only active assignment. At the moment, Naruto is beyond anti-social. He is unable to be in public and can only be trusted in the care of Jonin or above ninja. You will be responsible for his care for the next three years. By the time he is thirteen, I expect him to be suitable enough to be placed in one of the new graduation teams."
"Am I to train him as well?"
"I expect him to be competent enough to be placed within the new batch of genin."
Happiness flooded through his system as all the resentment he held towards the man in front of him faded away. Hiruzen knew exactly what he was doing and Kakashi knew it as well. The man's response was ambiguous for a reason. He was leaving it in his hands.
Months prior, this would've been a mistake. He would have dragged his feet, doing the minimal amount of work in order to complete his assignment. He was different now. As harsh as the Hokage had been in his punishment, the old man was blessing him with a gift.
One he wouldn't let slip past.
"He has been moved to a compound on the outer edge of the village, near training ground three. I'm sure you're familiar with how to get there." Of course he knew how to get there. Before his time in the labor camps, he spent most of his day staring at the memorial stone that sat at the entrance to the area.
"More details are listed in the scroll. There is currently one jonin with Naruto at the moment. I would advise you to get to her as soon as possible. You are dismissed." With those words, he vanished from the room with a burst of speed. There was no time to waste.
It was time for him to see Naruto.
She cannot be trusted.
Are you going to kill her too?
You could do it. We're all alone.
The voices came and went. They were particularly loud today. It was probably because of the woman that stood in his new living room.
At least, that's what she claimed. He didn't believe in it. He didn't trust her. It took every ounce of his willpower not to summon his ball and kill her. It would have been simple. It would have been easy. She wouldn't even know what would happen. He had done it before. He could make people disappear in a second with his ball if he wanted to. He could burn them or shock them or even freeze them if they deserved it.
Fortunately for the woman, he had been told not to harm her. There wasn't a person in the world that the boy could say he truly trusted but the Hokage came close. The older man should have had him executed when he discovered him in the room with the body of the boy he had killed. Instead, he had comforted him, gave him new housing, clothes and food. In the 48 hours following the murder, the old man had done more for him than any other person had done for him in his entire life.
So for now, he listened.
The kid was leaking killing intent again.
Yugao had no clue if the boy was aware of what he was doing but she could sense it. It wasn't thick enough to affect her but still, the fact that she could sense it was shocking in itself.
"C'mon Kakashi. Don't keep me waiting."
In all honesty, it was the guilt surrounding the boy that pushed her impatience. No child should have experienced enough to leak the kind of KI that he was letting loose. It was disturbing and made her reflect on the treatment the villagers doled out to the kid. And the consequences of those actions.
"Hello Yugao." The sound of his voice was accompanied with the sound of the door opening. She turned to see her former superior step into the room, his dog mask placed over top of his face. She always wondered just how effective that mask could be considering his iconic silver hair.
"Senpai." She didn't realize how tense she was until the man had stepped into the room. His presence brought with it a sense of relief. And with that relief, more guilt.
"I'm happy that you're the first I get to see." The man moved to tussle her hair but was quickly slapped away. There was no malice in the act. This was typical for the duo.
"I'm glad you're back." A question wanted to leap from her lips. The question. The same question that everyone in ANBU wanted to know. The question that would shed some explanation as to why one of the greatest ANBU in the history of the village disappeared along with the young promising shinobi that had been on watch with him.
"Do you need any more help with the kid?" But, she didn't ask. She couldn't find it within herself either. Maybe it was because she didn't want the answer. Maybe it was because she already knew the answer. Regardless, she kept the words to herself.
"Nah, I got it from here. I'll send one of the dogs if I need anything." At his words, she offered him a nod and dashed out of the room, more than happy to be free of the boy's presence. Maybe if she moved fast enough, she could catch Hayate before he left for his mission.
The voices were oddly quiet now that the woman was gone. With the silence, all the boy could do was look at the new occupant of the room.
His memories of that night were as clear as crystal. Usually, they haunted him in his sleep. Sometimes, they occupied his mind during his waking hours, tricking him into thinking he still had the boy's blood on his body.
This man was part of his memories. He was the first person to see what he had done. He remembered the man trying to comfort him. He remembered the man attacking the other mask wearer in order to defend him.
For once, he was thankful for the voice. His hope at finding yet another he could try to trust had blinded him.
With a mere thought, his orb appeared in his hand where he gave it a gentle squeeze. At the act, a wave of blue energy leapt from the sphere and washed over the room. The masked man did not move as the energy swept over him.
It was only when the man's form didn't change did the boy relax. His orb revealed secrets to him when he squeezed it. No one could hide from it's ability.
"Remember me, kid?" Naruto nodded his head. He remembered the man. He could never forget anything about that night.
"Good." The man reached up and pulled his mask away. Unfortunately, the man's headband and second mask still obscured much of his face. Still, Naruto was thankful for the fact he could see more of the man.
"My name is Kakashi Hatake. I'm a jonin for the village but more importantly, I am going to be taking care of you from now on."
"I just wanted to know how you were doing. None of the jonin have seen you for the past couple months."
"Oh, y'know. I've been around. Doing this and that."
"Stop beating around the bush, Kurenai. How's the kid? How have you been handling him?"
"Oh. He's been fine."
"Please help me." Kakashi looked away from his book at the sound of the scraggly voice. It took him a few seconds to locate the voice. He didn't expect to have to look down at the bleeding man holding onto his ankle.
"He's killing everyone. He's a little demon. Help us. " It couldn't be spotted underneath his mask but Hatake wore a sneer. With a not so gentle nudge from his foot, he kicked the man away before returning his attention to his book.
The sound of screaming in the distance was easily drowned out in his head. It was quite easy for him considering he knew the source. The 'little demon' he was referring to was his precious student.
The boy had come so far in such a short amount of time. Oh, he was definitely a little skittish at first. Kakashi found out those orbs of his were mighty hard to dodge at times. Fortunately for the former ANBU, the boy warmed up.
The sound of an explosion managed to draw his attention for a split second. He looked up and saw a wave of fire ascend from the ground and light up the night sky with it's intensity. The sneer that had previously occupied his lips was replaced with a smile at the display.
Little demon was a pretty accurate description of the child. The man had learned quickly enough that the boy's mental issues were not so easily navigatable. The trauma he had faced was deep-seeded and most likely a permanent part of his life. The boy was beyond scarred. He heard AND talk to voices in his head. He was fucked up.
Those orbs of his were pretty nifty, though. Capable of producing every chakra nature, dispelling illusions and evaporating anything it touches. What an ability to have at such a young age. The kid had complete control over it, too. Kakashi had witnessed a number of times when the boy had nullified the orb's disintegration effects to drag out the killing of an opponent.
"He should be bout down." He snapped his book closed and began his short trek to the bandit camp. He had very little doubt that the camp was still standing. The fireball alone should have been enough to erase it from existence.
Just as he expected, when he broke through the treeline obscuring the camp, he witnessed what appeared to be hell on earth. There wasn't much ground left that wasn't covered in flames. There was no evidence of human life. Well, that was true if you excluded the mutilated corpses that littered the burning field. Oh, and the singular child that was walking his way.
"Dealt with them all?" The older man completely ignored the child's appearance. Bloodied from head to toe, the kid was a sight to see. Two black orbs floated gently behind him, keeping pace with him as he walked.
Naruto nodded and Kakashi smiled. Yet another mission completed. Another bandit camp got eliminated and the boy got to vent some of his murderous and plainly homicidal tendencies.
"They cant hurt me anymore." Kakashi flashed him a thumbs-up before placing a hand on his shoulder. The next moment, the two were gone, leaving alone a trail of leaves.
"He's cool. A little shy but you know how kids are."
AN: New chapter. New stuff. Wonderful. Enjoy your weekends, my guys and girls.
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