Breaking Point: The Darkness Within

Chapter One ~ Sparks That Start the Fire



"Get out of our village you freak!"

The blonde boy flinched in his sleep, the curses of the villagers by day haunting him even at night. As more and more of the days insults ran through his mind, tears slid down the whisker marked cheeks of the seven year old Uzumaki Naruto, soaking into his pillow and joining the innumerable ranks of tears shed before them.

As the shadowy, imaginatively demonic taunting villagers that dwelled within his nightmares began to throw rocks and trash at the small boy cowering in an alleyway, screaming at him to crawl into a hole and die, young Naruto found himself wishing he could do just that and end it all.

Suddenly a voice growled like thunder, resounding from the depths of young Naruto and causing all the villagers to step back as one, fear evident on their twisted faces.

"Silence, you worthless mongrels! You who torture my container shall suffer the same fate!"

The villagers had left a massive gap between themselves and the mouth of the alleyway. Pure terror hovered over the group like a cloud, oppressive and tangible. Naruto felt himself being pulled to his feet by some unknown force, and was far too upset to care when the mysterious power began to move him towards the villagers. They were scared now; he didn't have anything to fear. He could feel power coursing through his body, pure unrestrained rage burning away his fear and insecurities.

With this power, he felt like he was invincible.

The villagers who had been abusing him knew it too, pushing and trampling each other in their haste to get away from the demonic blonde boy. As he staggered closer and closer to the cowering soon-to-be victims, he caught sight of one of his arms. His eyes widened when he realized that his skin had been stripped away, revealing a layer of glowing red chakra pulsing with malevolence.

A smashed full length mirror was lying against the wall of the alley; curiosity got the better of him and he slowly stepped forwards, ready to find out what he truly was and what he had become. He step closer and closer, until he could see himself reflected a thousand times in the shards of the mirror.

Naruto's jaw dropped and he screamed as he found himself face to face with the glowing white eyes of the incomplete Kyuubi no Kitsune. It came out as a growl that scared away the few villagers that had remained rooted to the spot in fright, and shocked Uzumaki Naruto out of his nightmare.

Naruto sat up, gasping for breath. His eyes... the eyes of the Kyuubi were burned into his mind. Those eyes promised pain and destruction on an unimaginable scale. But why had he dreamt he was the Kyuubi? Surely he wasn't shunned by the village for that. The Yondaime Hokage had killed the Nine Tails nearly seven years ago. There was no way...

"You are not the Kyuubi. Do not be so presumptuous."

Naruto jumped in fear as the voice from his dream spoke again, from within his mind. "W-Who said that?"

"I am the Kyuubi, the Nine Tailed Fox. I am the greatest of the Tailed Beasts, and I have been sealed inside you since the day of your birth."

"B-But the fourth Hokage killed yo-"

"No mere mortal can end me boy! I am rage incarnate! I am a being of pure chakra! And I reside within you." the voice seemed resentful as it spoke that last part, prompting Naruto to ask:

"S-So I'm not the Kyuubi?" relief flooded through him as the real Kyuubi answered affirmatively.

"The Yondaime Hokage," he said the name in a disgusted tone, spitting it out like it was a bad taste in his mouth, wherever that mouth was. "Couldn't defeat me, and instead sealed me inside the body of a new born infant, as per the requirement of the sealing ritual."

"But why me?" Naruto asked. He had quickly lost his fear in favour of childish curiosity. Plus, it didn't seem like the voice could hurt him. An incorrect notion as it would turn out.

The Kyuubi chuckled, his deep growling mirth seemingly echoing around the small bedroom when in reality just reverberating inside the young Uzumaki's head. "There is a reason, not known to anyone except those who were present at the sealing. I fear your inferior mind would not be able to cope with the knowledge at this stage; since we are bonded together and our lives are intertwined, I doubt revealing this information would reap any benefits for myself at this point in time."

"Aww, come on! Tell me." whined Naruto, forgetting the fact that it was abnormal to be seemingly arguing with oneself.

"Stay your tongue insolent pup!" The sudden fury of the Kyuubi instantly silenced Naruto, bringing back the fear and worry he had almost forgotten. "I do not acknowledge any requests from filthy pathetic worms like you humans! You are my servant, and will behave as such."

Naruto's lower lip was quivering with fright; the anger of the Kyuubi had seared through his mind, showing him images of extremely painful mutilations and deaths the Kyuubi had wrought on other people. He retched as a particularly gruesome image of a woman torn apart and held together only by entrails and strips of muscle took prominence over the others. Splayed over a rock and surrounded by a pool of blood, the broken body barely resembled a person. Then she coughed out blood and screamed, and Naruto quickly leaned over the side of the bed and vomited, losing his extremely light dinner from the previous night. She was still alive.

The Kyuubi's laughter echoed through his head as the dawn's first light rose over the horizon. Naruto weakly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and slumped back against his bed. He clutched his pillow tightly to his chest, shivering and wide eyed as the Kyuubi's laughter faded into the recesses of his mind. Whether his eyes were open or closed, he could still see the half dead woman lying in pieces on a rock.

Thus began the Kyuubi's systematic breakdown of his sanity.

~Ninja Academy~

Naruto was completely unaware of his surroundings that day. The image of that poor woman was firmly lodged in his mind, unknowingly held in the forefront of his mind by the Kyuubi. The greatest of the Tailed Beasts figured that by breaking the boy mentally, he would be able to rebuild him in his image and set the stage to escape his seven year old jailer when the time was right.

Naruto bit his lip as the urge to retch nearly overcame him. He instead directed his gaze towards the window, hoping to distract himself from the gruesome images in his mind. He yelped when a chalkboard eraser hit him square on the forehead, returning his attention to the sniggering of his classmates and the angry glare of his sensei.

"Uzumaki! If you're not going to pay attention in my class, then get the hell out!" he snarled, pointing at the door. Naruto knew it was pointless to argue and quickly did as he was told. As he walked down the aisle from the back of the class to the door at the front, one of his classmates stuck her foot out as he walked by. At the same time, Kiba stood up and loudly told Naruto that he should wipe the chalk dust off of his forehead, since he looked like a bird had crapped on his head. As the class erupted in a fresh bout of laughter, Naruto stumbled over the outstretched foot and tumbled down the short flight of stairs, landing in a heap at his sensei's feet.

The man did nothing, instead acting like nothing had happened despite noticing the large gash on the boy's forehead from hitting his head on the bottom step. Slowly, Naruto picked himself up, dusted himself off and walked out of the room, head held as high as possible. As the door slid shut behind him, only two people had their eyes on it long after everyone else had returned their attention to their sensei's lecture.

One was Uchiha Sasuke. He simply stared at the last spot he'd seen Naruto, his expressionless face giving away none of his thoughts. The other was Hyuuga Hinata, who was highly distressed at the state Uzumaki Naruto had left the room. Surely he didn't deserve to be treated like that. What had he done? Still, the fact that he could still walk away proudly after all that was something the Hyuuga heiress found extremely admirable.

~Ichiraku Ramen~

After standing outside for nearly an hour, Naruto finally realized that he wasn't going to be let back in any time soon. Nor did he feel like attending the lesson, since his thoughts were elsewhere, locked in a terrible place.

He left the Ninja Academy without any trouble. If any teachers had seen him, he doubted that they would have stopped him anyway. After wandering through the village streets earning himself nothing but hateful glares and even being forced to duck as an old lady threw her bloodstained kitchen knife at him, he finally sought refuge inside the one place he wouldn't be turned away from: Old Man Teuchi's roadside ramen stand.

He slumped down wearily on one of the stools at the counter, not bothering to look at the menu since he knew it by heart. Today had been a harrowing and exhausting day for him, and it was only lunch time. He couldn't wait to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of miso ramen. Maybe more than just one, since he still felt terrible about the previous night, and had skipped breakfast as a result. Soon enough, one of the few people who treated him like a human being appeared from behind the curtain hiding the storeroom of the ramen shop.

"Ah, Naruto, you're here early. What can I get you?" asked Teuchi with a grin. Naruto grinned back, smiling for the first time that day. He loved how Teuchi and his daughter Ayame didn't ask him the usual questions like 'Why aren't you at the Academy?' or 'Did something happen? Do you want to talk about it?' whenever he turned up during Academy hours. They never pried when he wasn't in the mood, yet would listen when he needed someone to talk to. With people like these as his friends, he hadn't gone crazy from the stressful torture that was his life.


"A bowl of miso ramen and keep them coming." he replied, placing his head on the polished wooden counter tiredly. He still had bags under his eyes from his sleepless night, and the horrific images that had haunted his mind all night were still popping up every now and then.

"Coming right up." he heard the noodle pot begin to boil and the clattering of utensils as Teuchi got to work. The soothing hubbub of assorted kitchen sounds lulled Naruto into a sense of security, which then lead on to much deserved sleep.

With the Kyuubi around, that sleep wasn't going to happen anytime soon. The instant Naruto fell into the land of slumber, he was bombarded with visions of countless towns and villages being destroyed, people being sadistically tortured and killed by his own hand. Of course, those visions were from the perspective of the Nine Tails, but that did little to lessen the impact of what he was seeing.

Finally, the visions settled on one distinct memory. The Kyuubi was very insistent on showing this to Naruto in its entirety, yet the disturbing vision jolted Naruto out of his sleep every time in a cold sweat. He got a little further with each viewing, and Naruto really wished that he didn't.

He started off in the forest at night, feeling the cool earth beneath his paws. As his claws extended, the soft dirt began to churn as each gleaming claw dug deeply into the ground. His nine tails whipped about, knocking the trees behind him over with little effort. In the distance, Naruto could see a village, could smell the various scents that accompanied human dwellings.

A wicked grin stretched over his orange-red muzzle, baring his sharp teeth to his soon-to-be victims. As a cold breeze washed over him from the south, he flexed his powerful hind legs and leapt forward, heading towards the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

As he drew nearer, spotlights shone out into the darkness, eventually focusing on him. He roared at the full moon, before leaping over the village gates and landing square in the centre of the meat district, the scent of blood and freshly cut meat boosting his bloodlust. With a sweep of his giant tails, he levelled three blocks in a single move, signalling the beginning of the night of terror that would become one of the blackest stains on Konoha's history.

As the citizen's began to panic and run around in the streets, looking for loved ones or the safety of the emergency bunkers, Naruto watched as his arms... the Kyuubi's red arms began to swipe at the masses, sending sprays of blood all over the buildings, streets and the terrified citizens who watched the bloody spectacle frozen in horror.

The Kyuubi began to play with the people before killing them, cutting off their legs so they couldn't escape, then experimenting in various ways, seeing what he could do to them before they died. He sawed off limbs, cut people horizontally and vertically in two and separated them as far as they could go before their entrails tore.

And all the while, the Kyuubi was laughing, a gruff rumbling growl that chilled Naruto's blood. The vision skipped as Naruto tried to stir, with the Kyuubi attempting to keep him in his mind. Finally, the jumbled emotions settled, and Naruto found himself staring at the woman who was torn to pieces and lying on a rock. But right now, she was whole, standing up and facing the Kyuubi with a ferocious glare on her face, her arms outstretched to block the giant beast's path. The rock she was soon to end up on was only a few feet behind her, and Naruto watched with growing fear as the Kyuubi raised his right paw, flexing his claws as he prepared for the final strike.

As the paw sped towards the young woman, Naruto closed his eyes and screamed. He didn't want to see this sick twisted memory of the Kyuubi's attack on the village. He just couldn't take it anymore. When he opened his eyes, the woman and the destroyed village were gone. Instead, he found himself staring sideways into the light brown eyes of Ayame, the ramen chef's daughter. Her own head was lying on the counter facing him and her hand was on his shoulder, shaking him vigorously.

Once she saw his eyes open, she sat up in relief, standing on the kitchen side of the counter. "Naruto-kun, have you been sleeping well? It's not like you to fall asleep when ramen is being made." she was only acting natural but inside she was dying to ask him why he had been whimpering in his sleep, finally yelling out as the tears in his eyes flowed freely down his cheek.

She offered him a tissue, which he accepted with an embarrassed smile and a mild blush. She turned around as he wiped at his eyes, grabbing the bowl of ramen that her father had finished preparing. When she turned back to face the blonde boy, he was grinning and trying his best to look like his usual self. But the pain was still there in his eyes, and she desperately wanted to ask what was wrong, to comfort him and try to help the lonely boy who was ostracized by his own village. But she knew he wouldn't talk unless he felt like it, and she would be ready to listen when he did. She just hoped he would talk to her and her father soon.

He barely made it through one bowl and when he left, leaving the coins for payment on the counter along with a generous tip, the family of two watched him go, even more worried than before. Naruto never ate only one bowl. It was a fact of life. Something was definitely wrong.

~Naruto's Apartment~

Naruto warily got into bed, fearing that the voice of the Kyuubi would come to him again. He hadn't spoken to Naruto all day, but this was where he first started taunting the poor blonde and showed him the horrific insights from his past.

"Uzumaki Naruto, are you ready to learn more about the day I attacked Konoha?"

"Why do you keep showing me these terrifying visions?! Leave me alone!" Naruto yelled, placing his hands over his ears in a vain attempt to block out the growling voice in his mind.

"Why? To break you of course."

"Why would you want to- OW!" he yelped as a small but deep cut opened in the palm of his hand and bled profusely. As he glanced around in a panic for a cloth to staunch the bleeding, the Kyuubi's voice rang in his ears even as he watched in amazement as the cut sealed itself, leaving a small scar that soon faded away, leaving his hand unblemished.

"Boy, do you not tire of being hated for something you did not do?"

Naruto froze in the act of wiping the blood off his hand and wrist with a rag he found under his bed. He nodded hesitantly, almost imperceptibly. The Kyuubi chuckled darkly as he felt Naruto's faint glimmer of hope on the other side of the seal. A young boy like him was too trusting, too easy to manipulate.

"Y-Yes. Do you know how to get them to stop hating me?" that hopeful tone, that childish belief that one can depend on others to solve one's problems made the Nine Tails grin within the recesses of Naruto's mind.

"It's simple. Kill them all. The dead cannot harm the living."

"SHUT UP!" Naruto bellowed, forcing the Kyuubi's voice out of his mind. He shivered in the sudden silence, feeling crushed as the Kyuubi offer of a way out had turned out to be another one of his sick jokes. Naruto wasn't about to go out and kill random citizens. They would just fear him more because of it.

But them again... if they truly feared him, they wouldn't mistreat him...

The blonde quickly shook the thought out of his head and slapped himself for good measure. He was better than that, even if he had fantasized about hurting the crueller villagers in the past, before meeting Ayame and her father. He had simply accepted his place as the lowest of the low, no arguments made. That was his life and now that he knew he was the container of the Nine Tailed Fox, he was finally given the reason why the villagers treated him like dirt.

'But it's not my fault.' thought Naruto. He couldn't help having the Kyuubi within him. He leaned back against his pathetically flat pillow and rolled onto his side.

It wasn't fair.

"That's right pup. It isn't fair." murmured the Kyuubi as he drifted off into nightmare filled sleep.

~Ninja Academy~

After a few months, Naruto had begun to get used to the visions. They simply became a part of his life, something he would have to deal with to continue living. Little did he know he was slowly becoming desensitized to extreme violence, as per the Kyuubi's plans. Soon, the Fox would work on his kind nature, turning the blonde into an enraged, unfeeling killer.

All at age seven.

As he walked into the classroom, keeping his head down to ignore the glares of his sensei and the stares of his fellow classmates, a student tossed a balled up piece of paper at his head. It hit him soundly before landing with a suspiciously loud thump on the floor near his feet. Naruto bent down and scooped up the ball of paper on his way to his seat, stepping carefully over the outstretched foot of the obnoxious girl sitting in one of the aisle seats. She scowled at his retreating form, before getting together with her friends to plan a nastier unpleasant surprise for the blonde.

As he reached his seat at the window, he was vaguely surprised to find that a new seating arrangement had been organized without his knowledge. With the addition of a new student, who been placed next to Sasuke three rows below (to the ire of every female student in the room), Naruto finally had a partner with him at his lonely desk. He recognized the short dark hair immediately, feeling the worry that had been building up in his chest fade away.

Hyuuga Hinata was far too quiet, apparently nice, and hadn't bullied him outwardly in all the time he'd known her. In fact, she hardly did anything at all, which was why he'd instantly recognized her head without seeing her face. She was always looking down and hiding her pale lavender eyes, which some people found disturbing. It was sad that an already shy girl like Hinata was bullied for how she looked, but that's just how the world was. Maybe she could relate to his pain. On a significantly lesser scale of course. She didn't have paper bound rocks thrown at her head as she entered the room; Naruto had opened the small ball of paper to find a collection of stones and the word 'Loser' scrawled on the paper in red ink.

He took his seat and yanked open the window, tossing the rocks out one by one as their sensei began to drone on about the fourth Hokage. He supposed he would have been interested, if he hadn't known that he was the reason Naruto was hated for merely existing.

He was surprised to feel someone tapping on his shoulder; turning around, he saw Hyuuga Hinata quickly retracting her hand against her chest, whereby she began pressing her index fingers together nervously. She stared down at the desk for a few seconds, before visibly forcing herself to look Naruto in the eyes. "A-Ano, are you okay? W-Were you h-hurt?"

Naruto eyed her for a few seconds, briefly suspicious of the seemingly innocent question. She began to squirm and fidget under his unblinking gaze, but to her credit, she maintained eye contact with the blonde. That was a first, so Naruto decided to cautiously reply. He had been tricked by his classmates before, but he was far too soft and still believed in the 'there's good in everyone' school of thought to not take every chance he was given to fit in and be accepted, even if it wasn't the case.

"I'm fine. The paper around the rocks softened the blow." Naruto replied, his fake grin in place.

"T-Thank g-goodness. I-I'm glad to h-hear it." Naruto merely nodded in acknowledgement and turned back to the window, resuming his bored contemplation of the world outside the classroom. Hinata opened her mouth once more to say something else but thought the better of it. Naruto clearly did not want to talk, and she was worried he might become irritated with her if she asked too many questions. Only Kami knew how many times she watched Sasuke become fed up with his fan club to know what would happen if she tried to speak with Naruto too much and overstayed her welcome.

Then again, Naruto was nothing like Sasuke.

Hinata couldn't help a small, furtive smile at the prospect of sitting next to Naruto for the next few years, which she quickly hid behind her hand. Unfortunately, this did not go unnoticed by the conniving Ami, who had failed to trip Naruto up on his way to his desk.

~Naruto's Apartment~

Naruto arrived home after dinner at Ichiraku's, enjoying the feeling of satisfaction that came with eating a hearty meal of hot ramen. He'd been able to stomach his full quota of ramen, temporarily putting Ayame and Teuchi's worries to rest. He counted it as a small blessing that he had people worrying about him, but he rather wished they didn't. After all, Naruto could only deal with these problems himself. If he told the Ichiraku team about the Nine Tails, they might shun him like the rest. Truth be told, he had an odd feeling Teuchi knew, but he'd rather not risk losing one of the few good things in his life because of the damn Kyuubi, especially since it had already stolen so much from him.

The Kyuubi let out an indignant growl before sending him a particularly gruesome mental image of a cowering couple being smashed into a red smear between one of the Kyuubi's forepaws and the hard, densely packed dirt floor of the Konoha Shopping District. Years of stamping feet had compacted the clay into a surface rivalling cement, ultimately dooming the young lovers to their bloody end.

Naruto yawned pointedly before heading to the shower. "Yeah, yeah." he muttered nonchalantly as he stepped over a large patch of slippery moss growing on his grimy bathroom floor tiles. The place flooded constantly, and Naruto had long since given up on cleaning the place. He was only seven after all.

A rumbling from the Nine Tails that Naruto only identified later as the Kyuubi's laughter echoed through his head, giving the blonde cause for worry as he settled down for the first dreamless sleep he'd had in several months.

Unbeknown to Naruto, the Kyuubi had begun the next stage of his plan, finally satisfied over the conditioning of his container's mind. As the boy slept, the Fox began leaking tiny amounts of its red chakra directly into his brain, slowly affecting his mind and future dreams. The hate filled rage imbued chakra ran smoothly through Naruto's enhanced coils, beginning the slow poisoning of his mind.

~Ninja Academy~

Uzumaki Naruto sat waiting patiently, holding a small letter written on pink strawberry scented paper in one hand, and the envelope it came in in the other. The short note that had been slipped into his desk told him to meet with his secret admirer after school by the old Academy swing. So here he was, waiting patiently for the mystery girl.

Of course he wasn't a complete idiot. The letter had been written in an eerily familiar red ink that was far from innocent and feminine, reminding him of some painful experience he'd had a few weeks prior. He'd had trouble remembering though, and decided to wait to see who would show up anyway. It was probably some prank by his classmates since no one in their right mind would or should admire him.

Even without the Kyuubi's sarcastic mutterings from the depths of his mind, Naruto was cautious enough to know that something was up. What he didn't know was that this newfound suspicion was part of the Kyuubi's reconditioning of his mind. Previously, Naruto would have leapt at the chance to meet an admirer and wouldn't have dreamed of believing it was a cruel prank.

Uzumaki Naruto was, without his knowledge, being taught the ways of the world and the cold ugly truths that one must accept to survive.

There were roughly ten seconds left until the letter writer arrived, so Naruto made himself comfortable, stifling the slight feeling of excitement and hope building up in his chest. He was at least ninety eight percent sure of how this little encounter would go down.

The sun began to set, the bright orange rays blinding the boy and prompting him to turn his head away. As he did so, he noticed a short cloaked figure standing in front the entrance (and only exit) of the Academy. His eyes hardened, and he slowly stood up, assuming the sloppy Academy stance that only he had been taught by Mizuki-sensei in the hopes that it would get him killed (not that Naruto was aware of it).

"Naruto!" an obviously falsely sweet voice called out from behind him, and he winced as he turned around, realizing who it was before even laying eyes on her. The irritating girl who always tripped him when he walked by, Tanaka Ami, stood with the setting sun directly behind her, making it difficult for Naruto to see her. She had her hands on her hips and a smug look on her face.

"I'm betting you wrote the letter huh? What the hell do you want?" asked Naruto, surprising himself with the harshness of his tone. Ami's smile became a little strained as she replied.

"That's rude Naruto-kun! Why would you say that to your secret admirer?" she attempted to feign shock and hurt, which was offset by her slightly manic and very mocking grin. Her short twin pigtails which pointed upwards reminded Naruto of a picture of a demon he'd seen in one of his history books, prompting a mocking grin of his own.

"There's no way I'd ever accept someone like you as an admirer anyway! So tell me what you want or I'm leaving. You're wasting my time." Ami scowled and raised her hand. Suddenly, their fellow classmates and a few villagers he recognised leapt from behind bushes and trees, or appeared in puffs of smoke from rock henges. Naruto quickly glanced behind him; the hooded figured blocking the entrance dropped their hood, revealing it to be Uchiha Sasuke. His dark eyes were watching Naruto with vague curiosity, taunting him with unspoken insults. A wave of anger washed over Naruto, and he raised his right hand and gave the smug prick the middle finger before facing a now livid Ami.

"We are sick of you Uzumaki! You always ruin everything! You have no friends and no family and you're a nuisance; you should just crawl into a hole and die so we don't have to see your ugly face around here anymore!" Naruto glanced around slowly as she finished her tirade, staring everyone present in the eye until they looked away uncomfortably. It appeared that everyone in the class was here, though some appeared to have been forced to come; Sakura and Ino were holding Hinata between them as she struggled in vain to escape while Shino, Shikamaru and Choji were present since Kiba had promised them a meal of their choice if they came. Shikamaru scratch the back of his head and grumbled.

"I didn't know you guys were gonna attack Naruto, and I don't want anything to do with it. This is troublesome, just leave him alone. Come on Choji, I didn't sign up for this." Kiba blocked their way, simply shaking his head. Shikamaru sighed and sat down abruptly on the floor, before lying down on his back and staring up at the clouds. Choji whipped out a packet of chips and began munching away, though it was clear from his tense shoulders that he wanted to be anywhere but here.

The villagers present pulled out knives, axes and woks, staring at Naruto with fear and hatred burning in their eyes. Naruto recognised them as the ones who attacked him when they were drunk, or when he was too close to their homes. The less knowledgeable students simply cracked their knuckles or readied their kunai and shuriken.

Ami herself had a kunai gripped tightly in each hand, the sharp blades catching the light of the dying sun and glinting menacingly. She looked into Naruto's eyes and opened her mouth to speak, but faltered when she spotted the unnerving grin on Naruto's lips.

"Y-You're a troublemaker and a menace." her voice started off hesitantly and slowly grew in volume as she gained confidence. "Everyone in the village hates you, all the parents tell us to stay away from you! So why are you still here huh?"

"Why?" replied Naruto, his face blank and devoid of emotion. "I don't know." Hinata felt tears well up in her eyes, wishing she could help the blonde she had come to respect. Sakura and Ino had let her go, and seemed to be having second thoughts.

"Hey, I think he's annoying and I hate him as much as the next girl, but isn't this going too far? He hasn't done anything that bad right?" whispered Sakura as she nudged Ino.

"Yeah, I thought they were just going to play a prank or something. I don't think I want to see this." Ino murmured back, worry lines creasing her brow.

"This is it Uzumaki Naruto! If you won't leave, we'll make you! Konohagakure has no place for losers like you!" Naruto turned around, intent on leaving, but Ami's next words stopped him cold. "I can see why your deadbeat parents ditched you, who would want a son that had the Kyu-ARGH!"

'She knows.' had been the last coherent thought that crossed his mind before rage overcame Naruto. He wasn't about to let that little secret slip out. The comment about his parents hadn't fazed him, it's wasn't as if he knew anything about them to defend their honour. But he didn't need people of his generation knowing about the Kyuubi; his life was hell enough as it was. His eyes flashed from blue to bright red, his nails extended until they were almost claw-like and he quickly closed the distance between them and sunk his nail/claws into the right side of Ami's face.

It was an odd sensation having warm blood running down his palm and wrist, the scent of rust in the air as the red liquid of life soaked into the orange fabric of his jacket. His little and ring fingers were buried in her nose and cheek, his middle finger had carved its way into the soft jelly that was her right eye and her scalp and temple had become unwilling hosts for his index finger and thumb. Ami's one good eye was looking at him in silent shock; he could feel the horrified gazes of the people present and it made him feel... excited. His bloodlust was growing and he clenched his fingers tightly before swiping his hand and tearing at the bitch's face, anticipating the delicious screams that he had heard in his dreams for so many months.

He wasn't disappointed. Ami screamed to the heavens and clutched at her face. She tried to walk away and fell to the ground. A steady stream of blood dripped off her ruined nose and chin and onto the floor, quickly forming a puddle in the dust. No one dared to approach her; all eyes were on the red eyed, blood soaked Naruto standing over her, grinning viciously.

"N-Naruto-kun?" Hinata's most quiet whisper was clearly heard by everyone in the unnatural silence. Naruto's eyes quickly sought hers, making the pale lavender eyed girl flinch back in shock. The fear in her eyes registered with the sane part of Naruto pushed deep into the recesses of his mind. His eyes slowly turned back to blue, and he took in the terrified stares of his classmates and fellow villagers and the blood on his hand. He reached out towards Ami with his unbloodied and now normal looking left hand but thought the better of it. He quickly leapt away, bounding over roof tops as he headed for home, unaware of Sasuke's coldly appraising eyes following him. He had watched the dead last in class abandon all manner of finesse and technique, yet cause irreversible damage with a single, unpredictable and highly unorthodox strike.

The last Uchiha had found himself the next stepping stone on the road to killing his brother.