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Old 01-07-2009, 08:06 AM   #1
thegodfather2450
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The Truth of the Matter

It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. --Mark Twain

“Naruto! Where the hell do you think you’re going?! Get down here you damn brat!”

Naruto Uzumaki grinned down at the store manager, flush with his recent accomplishments and the effort of climbing up a rainspout to reach the roof. The overweight man was breathing pretty heavily after having chased the blond kid for a good five minutes, which was probably more exercise than he had gotten in the last week. Naruto laughed cheerfully as the thought crossed his mind, thinking it would do the man some good.

The academy had only let out a few hours earlier, but the young boy had quickly found himself in the familiar predicament of being bored. He had stopped trying to include himself in other kid’s games years ago and there was only so much you could do by yourself and stay out of trouble. Usually, the seven-year old did a little extra training after school to keep up with his classmates—or at least not get farther behind them, although he would never admit it if asked—but an accident involving his normal antics and a badly aimed shuriken a few days before had left a deep cut on his arm.

It was healing quickly—the medics were always amazed at how fast Naruto healed for some reason—but even this injury would take time to really get better. The doctor had forbidden any heavy training for the young blond after he had ripped his stitches out for the second time, and knowing who he was talking to, it had been firmly impressed upon Naruto that if he did manage to injure himself again he would be tied down to a hospital bed. The troublemaker listened to the warning—reluctantly—but left to his own devices Naruto had soon found himself trying to attract attention to relieve the boredom, resulting in the current situation.

“I mean it Uzumaki! You think you can get away with this? I’m not going to put up with your crap like the others!” Blue eyes rolled at the comment. No one ever put up with his pranks. Empty threats like that had ceased to worry him a long time ago. “You’re going to clean this mess up or the Hokage will hear from me!”

“Whatever, old man! Ya have to catch me first! Nyah ha!” the mischievous boy pulled down his eyelid in the manager’s direction and then raced across the rooftops. To tell the truth, things had gotten a little out of hand while he was being chased around, but he had switched to using water based paint for things like this after the first time the old geezer had made him clean things up.

The bandage around his arm had come loose again and was flapping around as Naruto ran so he stopped to tuck it back in and take a break. Despite a nice breeze, he was feeling warm as the sun beat down on his head and his breathing was a little heavy. He frowned in annoyance and wondered if maybe the doctor’s insistence that he not do much was getting him out of shape, but when he was worn out like this the direct sunlight made him feel a little lazy and he was more inclined to find a shady tree to curl up under than run laps around the school track.

He sighed and turned his gaze to the cloudless blue sky, rubbing the back of his neck. It was hot to the touch and the blond remembered the last time he had played outside too long, the strange look on Iruka-sensei’s face as he peeled the dead skin off his shoulders almost in one clean sheet a day later, healthy skin right underneath. His teacher had tried to insist that he wear sun block if he ever played outside that long again, but it wasn’t like Naruto ever planned on it and anyway it took up too much time to put the slimy stuff on for a burn that wouldn’t even last a day. Besides, it couldn’t have been that bad. Ino had once gotten a sunburn from purposely laying out in the sun (because girls did weird things like that) and hers had lasted a week.

“Naaaaaaarutoooooooo! Oooooi! Naaaruuutoooooo!”

The troublemaker started at the sound of his name, looking down in the streets for any sign of the old manager but what he saw instead was even worse. He grumbled to himself and started walking along the rooftops again, trying to ignore the call.

“Naruto! Oi, I know you can hear me! We need another person to play soccer! Get your ass down here!” That commanding voice belonged to one Kiba Inuzuka, and it pissed Naruto off to no end.

“Like hell! What makes you think I’d do anything that might team me up with your sorry face, dog-boy!”

While most days hanging out with Kiba wasn’t a bad thing—Naruto might even go so far as to call it enjoyable—the two had gotten into a rowdy fight involving plenty of punches and kicks and a lot of rolling around in the dirt. The blond boy couldn’t really remember what they had been fighting about, but he did remember the tongue-lashing he had gotten this morning when Iruka-sensei had noticed the mud-streaked, torn bandages on his arm. The stitches had held, the only reason Naruto was a free man at the moment, but he hated being scolded by Iruka-sensei and Kiba had gotten away scott-free which resulted in the blonde’s current grudge against his partner-in-crime.

Kiba pointed at the bandaged left arm and grinned, “If you don’t come, I’ll tell Iruka-sensei you’ve been climbing with that thing.” Akamaru barked, seemingly in agreement with his master.

“What?! Kiba you bastard! I’ll beat your face in if you do!” More than the possibility of being tied up in a hospital bed until the cut healed, the idea of Iruka-sensei’s disappointed face when he learned Naruto wasn’t following orders made the blue-eyed boy squirm. Iruka-sensei was one of the few people who treated him fairly and he was always hesitant to do anything that would ruin that. A wave of hot embarrassment (and possibly guilt) flooded through the blue-eyed boy as he contemplated the instructor’s reaction, but Kiba didn’t seem to notice.

“Just come on! It’s not like you have to play with me. Stop being a stuck up moron and get down here.”

Naruto was about to shoot something else off at Kiba, telling him to get lost, but he remembered his initial boredom and started to reconsider. If they really needed one more person, the other kids might actually let him join and he wouldn’t be stuck entertaining himself all afternoon.

“Fine. But only if I’m not on your team! I’m gonna kick your ass for yesterday.” He scrambled down the side of the building, unusually mindful of his arm, and raced after the brown-haired boy.

“Hah! You wish! There’s no way such a sorry excuse for a ninja could beat me! Me ‘n Akamaru’ll take you guys out by ourselves!”

Naruto traded insults with Kiba the rest of the way, secretly glad for something to do.


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__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:07 AM   #2
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Re: The Truth of the Matter

“To late. We already found someone else. There’s no more room on the teams for him, it’ll just make them uneven.”

Kiba looked incredulously at Akira’s choice of teammate. “Shikamaru? You really want Shikamaru on your team?”

“Oi,” protested the young shadow shinobi. He may not have wanted to be a part of this game, but he wasn’t planning on standing there and being insulted.

Although, Kiba had a point.

Anyway, the dog-clan member was ignoring him as the argument escalated around them about whether to let Naruto join over Shikamaru or not. Shikamaru didn’t feel like getting involved, so he just stood next to Chouji, who had been the one to insist the black-haired boy take the invitation to play, and watched the scene unfold. It was…slightly depressing, and reminded him of when he first met his best friend.

Half of Akira’s team—the half Shikamaru was assuming wanted to win—was all for Naruto joining them. They may not have like him, but at least he was guaranteed to put in some effort. The other half disliked Naruto so much they were willing to put their victory on the line just to keep him away. Most of Kiba’s team agreed with them, grabbing the chance to strengthen the odds for their game, but one or two kept silent. Shikamaru was pretty sure that they also wanted to win but were more conscious about feelings that would get hurt even if they didn’t have the guts to stand up for their beliefs.

The entire time this was going on, Naruto’s face went from excited (while trying not to be) to hopeful (while expecting the worst) to disappointed to accepting (while trying to pretend it had always been that way.) It made Shikamaru a little sick to watch, knowing deep down inside that this wasn’t the first time this had happened to the blond. His mother and father had always taught him to respect other people even if you didn’t have a whole lot of love for them. No one should have to expect rejection from the start.

“Shikamaru?” asked Chouji as he opened a bag of potato chips.

“Yeah,” he answered and turned to walk away along with the snacking boy. Shikamaru hadn’t really intended to play from the moment Kiba suggested Naruto join them. The only reason he had agreed at all was because Akira was being pushy to the point that it was more trouble to ignore him than agree and Chouji had said he didn’t mind sitting on the sidelines. The young shadow shinobi didn’t really believe that, however, so if they had someone else he wasn’t about to let his best friend sit on the sidelines without him.

Chouji glanced back one last time at the group before stuffing a handful of chips in his mouth and jogging a little to catch up with Shikamaru.

“You think he’s okay?” he asked through his mouthful.

“Naruto? He’ll be fine. He’s always fine.” It was kind of the thing that defined Naruto. When the blue-eyed boy wasn’t fine that’s when you knew things were really bad, but Shikamaru had never seen Naruto shed one tear, not even when his entire class made fun of him, not even when Shikamaru knew he hadn’t eaten in a couple of days.

“It’s just…he looks a little like my mom.”

“What? He looks nothing like your mom.”

“No, I mean…Mom’s been sick lately. Really sick. She’s throwing up and her face is all red and hot. Dad says it’s a fever.”

“So?”

“Don’t you think Naruto looked a little red in the face?”

Shikamaru sighed. It was too much trouble to worry about someone like Naruto. It wasn’t like they were close friends. They barely hung out and when they did it was more of a coincidence than anything else. “You’re only seeing things because you’re worried about your mom, Chouji. It’s just the sun. You know Naruto. Before they found him he was probably running around doing something stupid.”

Chouji didn’t look quite convinced but he still agreed with his best friend. Shikamaru was a lot smarter than he was. Naruto would be okay.


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The game lasted less than half an hour. Naruto was allowed to play just because the others were getting fed up with fighting, but that still didn’t mean they accepted him. Only half his team made any real effort at heading for the goal and the only time he managed to put a foot on the ball was due more to a lack of coordination on the other team’s part than any real teamwork from his side. Naruto’s heart wasn’t in the game anyway, not really. He refused to let others see that they were getting to him, that their words always made his chest feel like it was hard to breathe, but today it was difficult to trick himself into believing it too.

The others got bored or pissed off fairly quickly and the only reason Naruto lasted as long as he did was because people left in pairs. Finally it came down to five people, which wasn’t much of a game anyway, not when Akira insisted on having a goalie, but Naruto didn’t even have to be told to know that he was going to be kicked out. He was a little surprised when, after Akira stated the obvious, Kiba tried to turn the game into a free-for-all that would include him, but the blue-eyed boy wasn’t interested and the other three made excuses about their mothers and dinner-time.

He had to give Kiba credit though. He might even let dogface’s earlier threat slide.

Naruto trudged back home, sweat dripping down into his eyes, his whole body aching a little. The sun was setting, and the dusk air was beginning to cool but he still felt warm. His arm was hurting too but, lest he rip the stitches, he didn’t dare touch it except to rewrap it as the bandage had started to unravel again. The seven year old messily tried to twist it back around his arm and tuck the end in, hoping it would be enough to fool the adults.

His thoughts drifted towards his cupboards and Naruto wondered if he still had anything cold to drink in the fridge, or if there was anything left to eat for supper. He had already skipped lunch; there should still be one package of instant ramen left, but then again he had eaten a midnight snack a couple times this month—maybe a few more times than he should have. Thinking about all this food though, the young boy wasn’t really sure that he was even hungry in the first place. His stomach wasn’t so much empty as it was uncomfortable and he decided to wait until he arrived at the apartment to think more about it.

Suddenly, the troublemaker realized that he had missed a turn three streets back and was heading for the market and center district shops. If he wasn’t careful he’d soon run into the old manager again and it would be hours before he even saw the orphanage dorms, let alone be in them to actually make dinner. The blond turned and raced back in the other direction, coughing as he kicked up street dirt.


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__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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Proud member of the Jiraiya Fanclub.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:10 AM   #3
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Re: The Truth of the Matter



In the end Naruto decided to skip supper. He skipped most of his homework too, although he actually felt bad about that knowing he’d have to make it up somehow later and that it would be even more work, but he was exhausted and his chest was starting to hurt from all the coughing (his room must have been getting really dusty, he’d have to clean it soon.) His head was throbbing, which made trying to figure out all the hiragana nearly impossible—forget learning the kanji—and he still felt really hot no matter how wide he opened his window or how still he sat. It was only when Naruto crawled into bed an hour and a half earlier than normal that he realized how cold he actually was—and how weird was that when his face felt like it was on fire?

He slept badly that night. When he wasn’t tossing and turning, the blond-haired boy shivered uncontrollably with nothing but a ratty old quilt to cover him or sweated until he wondered if there was any liquid left in his body at all. His throat sure felt dry enough for that to be the case and another bout of coughing emphasized this point. Even if he did shrivel up from lack of water, though, he didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. And yet, as tired as he was, his mind wouldn’t shut down.

His thoughts were scattered and incoherent. The one thing that did come through clearly Naruto didn’t really want to acknowledge; he was beginning to become frightened, unsure of what was happening to his body. Even though he had never experienced it himself, he was sure he wasn’t sick. He had seen sick when Kanon had thrown up all over her desk last year. This was different, pain and hot and cold and so much loneliness that he was afraid he would start to cry. He couldn’t though, couldn’t cry after so long without it, trying so hard to never let it get to him, to be better—no, the best—to prove he was worth it, prove that his existence meant something, that he did have a right to live, he did—

Succumbing to the darkness was a relief as he passed out tangled in his bed sheets, wet tracks sliding down his cheeks and silent screams echoing into the warm spring air.


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When he was finally conscious enough to look at the battered clock next to his bed that morning, Naruto realized that he was already forty-five minutes late for school. His entire body protested the idea of getting out of bed, hands trembling so badly that he knocked the timepiece off the nightstand when he went to turn off the alarm. The blue-eyed boy groaned in frustration as the ringing continued and literally tumbled out of bed to chase after it.

He managed to stay standing for a few moments while the world spun drastically, but the quilt he had kicked off in the middle of the night tripped him up as he went to take a step. He slammed into the hard wood floor, trying to bring his arms underneath his body in an attempt to keep from hitting the ground too hard. Unfortunately, he was too weak to really support his upper body and they twisted beneath him so that his injury was crushed into the ground. The blond gasped as his arm screamed in protest and he curled it closer to his chest, waiting for the pain to pass.

He wanted to stay there. He wanted to stay there so badly, curled up on the floor with nothing to worry about but the occasional involuntary hacking episode and the pain from the injury (and he could make that go away, push it to the back of his mind so there was nothing to think about, nothing but the emptiness of his thoughts which flittered into the echoing yawn of the apartment he lived in) but the ringing of the alarm was still going on, so loud and jarring that if he didn’t stop it someone would come and complain. He knew they would, they always did as if they were looking for an excuse to throw him out.

Naruto pushed himself back to his feet laboriously and surveyed the apartment (there’s two of everything, when did I get two of everything?) before finding the alarm clock face down near the foot of his bed. He stumbled towards it and half knelt, half fell close enough to reach it and flip the switch.

Nothing happened.

The ringing continued, constant and thundering in his ears, in his brain it felt like, and he twisted the clock around in bewilderment to look at its face as if the numbers and hands would provide some clue as to what was going on.

It turned out ‘what was going on’ was the time being a quarter past nine, and when had that happened? He’d just gotten out of bed, it had only been…only been…well he’d been late for school when he got up…or was that yesterday, he couldn’t really remember—no it must be today, because he was late now, wasn’t he?

__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:12 AM   #4
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Re: The Truth of the Matter



Yesterday…yesterday something bad had happened, but he didn’t want to think about it. Something…something…

Had he fallen behind in school again? Was there something else that he hadn’t quite understood, didn’t quite have the coordination to pull off yet? Had he practiced it at all? Had he forced himself to learn the concept, to remember what it was they were even supposed to be doing? Fear rose up in his throat, the old fear from back when he started the academy and he realized that the others were so far ahead from the start, that if he didn’t hurry, didn’t catch up, then he would only drop farther and farther behind and if he failed at this, at this one thing that the others said even he could do, at the one thing they might actually acknowledge him for, then he really was worthless useless goodfornothing.

In a panic, Naruto rushed to his kitchen table, which doubled for a desk to put his homework on since it was the only flat surface he could afford. The papers were there, they were all there, but they were only part way done. At least, from what he could tell they were, because everything was blurring together. They couldn’t have been finished, though, not with half the page without any pencil markings, any eraser markings, any wrinkles or tears from having to redo it over and over until it was almost impossibly illegible, but it would still be done so Iruka-sensei could give him credit for that at least.

He had to get to school. It was bad enough that he was this unprepared. It didn’t matter if he got the credit for the homework anymore; the seven year old just needed to be there so he could find out what to learn later, on his own. Iruka-sensei wasn’t the only teacher he had, and not all of them would be willing to inform him of what he missed, instead berating him and dismissing him for skipping when he hadn’t. (He wouldn’t, not today, not when he had somehow missed this much, forgotten this much, why couldn’t he concentrate, why couldn’t he remember?)

He ran around the room gathering some clothes together to get changed out of his outfit from yesterday that he had been too tired to strip out of. Peeling it off his skin and off his body, the blond dumped them on the floor and changed into a new one, shaking and panting and sweating from the effort it took to push his arms through his sleeves, to stand on one foot as his pants came on. He took a break to catch his breath, but only a short one.

At least he hoped it was short.

(Had he passed out? Could he recall every second that had just passed by?)

Snatching up his backpack, he rushed out the door. There was no time for breakfast, no time for other routine morning duties. He didn’t bother to grab the half-finished homework, or even turn off the alarm that was still ringing, had been ringing this whole time. He’d deal with it later (deal with the complaints later.)

Oddly enough it followed him, the ringing. He could hear it even as he walked down the stairs of the building, hear it as he stumbled down the street. It still felt like it was inside his brain, and maybe it was, he thought, maybe it was inside his brain because something really, really weird was happening. As the blue-eyed boy made his way towards the school his vision gradually went from double to blurring and back again and he gasped and coughed as he ran along.

Maybe running wasn’t such a good idea but he shouldn’t be this out of shape, he wasn’t that far behind, except that maybe he was because he couldn’t remember things and his brain was ringing, so he pushed himself to run a little faster, to get in back in shape a little quicker.

Nobody was in the streets when he started out because nobody went near the orphan dorms, it was to depressing, too harsh a reminder (and maybe, just maybe, they didn’t want to get near him, but he wasn’t sure that was it at all, because why would he matter that much when they all said he didn’t?) but as the blond got closer to the heart of the village, as it got harder to breathe, harder to put one foot in front of the other, harder to push himself to just keep going, the roads and paths became more crowded.

The blond didn’t notice it at first, there were too few people, but as he got deeper into the crowd he could feel their gaze on him, feel their eyes piercing and harsh on his skin, and when he had enough energy to look up what he saw terrified him, terrified him more than when they looked at him normally with eyes that didn’t care, eyes that were usually hard and cold, because these eyes glowed. These eyes glowed hot and bright and orange with hate and rage and malice, malice so overwhelming that Naruto nearly froze to the core, a cold that reached all through his body so that if he weren’t so afraid he would have been glad for the slight relief it provided from the burning waves of heat he had been feeling before.

He was so out of it by now, trembling so badly and stumbling all over the place to the point where he could hardly be considered standing. The only thought in his mind was to make it to the school, to just reach the academy. Focusing only on that goal pushed him past the fear, the terror that steadily increased as an orange haze drifted across his sight, twisting everything he saw to give the people mouths outlined in black, grinning humorlessly with teeth razor sharp. The haze began to twist what he heard too, the ringing from before and the chatter of the villagers becoming deeper and deeper until it all meshed into a chest-rattling bass laugh, a mocking laugh that was so horrible the seven year old gagged, an action made even more painful by the fact that his throat was dry and incredibly sore.

It took a while to force the panic down, to realize that he wasn’t dying, his insides weren’t going to push their way out through his mouth as he knelt there in the street. Even when he got over that he still couldn’t look up and face the monsters surrounding him without the threat of dry heaving. He stood up again, the chill that was still sweeping through him an odd contrast to the sun shining warmly on his back. Naruto to took off in the direction of the academy, swiping at the sweat dripping down the side of his face with his head tucked down so that the only thing he could see was the ground and the unnerving feeling that no matter how fast or how far he ran the mocking laughter would always be right behind him, whispering horrors into his ear.


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Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
Proud member of The Three Legandary Sannin Fanclub.
Proud member of the Jiraiya Fanclub.
proud to be a member of uzumaki narutu.
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proud to be a kage member fc.
proud to be a sage naruto member.




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Old 01-07-2009, 08:13 AM   #5
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Re: The Truth of the Matter

As far as bad days went, Iruka had to admit that his could have been far worse. His morning had gone pretty smoothly; he woke up on time, his most comfortable outfit was washed and hanging up in his closet so he didn’t have to go searching for it in the mess that was his humble bachelor pad. His breakfast could have been a little more filling, but it was a toss up between that and not having to put in the effort to make it. The pages of his lesson plans for the day were a little mixed up, but at least he had them. Now if only his students would behave, Iruka would be willing to call the day a success.

That was starting to look like it was going to be impossible, though, and as usual the culprit for the teacher’s stress was little Naruto. The chuunin wondered if it was some kind of record that the blue-eyed boy wasn’t even at school yet and already he was causing trouble.

Of course, had it been any other student the teaching staff would have completely ignored the absence. It would have been duly noted on the attendance sheet and only brought up again when the student failed to bring in an excuse note from their parents. Not so with the blond-haired troublemaker.

Every new teacher that discovered the problem student of the entire school hadn’t shown up that morning contributed to the griping about how they would all be better off without him and how he was more trouble than he was worth. Iruka gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the complaints, but it was tough when after every new statement of ‘what I would have done with him if it were me’ he was tempted to point out that they should count themselves lucky Naruto hadn’t shown up. It meant the likelihood of pranks disturbing the classes had gone down drastically and maybe they could have a peaceful lesson for once.

It wasn’t that Iruka didn’t know what Naruto was. He knew all right. If anything, he was hyper aware of what resided in his classroom every day for the past three years. It made him extra vigilant in the first year, careful to monitor the monster that interacted with his students, that acted out and disrupted everyone. But as time passed and the teacher realized that the deadliest thing the blond had ever done was to stick himself in the path of a class of seventh years during weapons training, Iruka began to relax his guard. Not all the way. He was still very careful to keep an eye on the boy, but now he was willing to recognize Naruto as a student.

And Naruto was a student. He wasn’t the best, not by a long shot. His martial arts was the sloppiest Iruka had ever seen and still been able to consider someone a shinobi, his marksmanship with a weapon was horrible to the point that the chuunin was often amazed that the blond could hit the target, and his chakra control was all over the place. Sometimes the boy could produce results that were a couple years ahead of the others and other times Iruka struggled to find reasons that could give the Kyuubi vessel any kind of passing grade at all. Naruto didn’t even always manage to stay through the whole school day.

When it came down to it, however, Naruto was always able to pass. Granted it was usually with an average grade or slightly above, nothing that would get him into the good graces of the other teachers, but he wasn’t just squeaking by either. His homework was always turned in, even when none of the answers were strictly correct, and every problem was seriously answered. Iruka never found any extra doodles on them, despite the graphite smeared all across the page. The blond could be doing horribly on any one concept, but when testing time came around the teachers rarely had to hand back a red ‘F’ (and some of those had been fabricated by the instructor.)

So Iruka did what he could. Naruto didn’t receive any special treatment. He was treated like any other student in the chuunin’s class, but frankly that was more than could be said for some of Iruka’s colleagues, who tended to purposely try and humiliate the seven year old, much to his disgust. He didn’t defend Naruto to the others when they mocked and scorned the boy behind his back, but he made it a point to never join in even when he was provoked, and the other teachers knew to leave him alone by now when the topic came up.

That was why Iruka left the teacher’s lounge early to head to his classroom when the insults became too much. If he were honest with himself, he was a little worried too. Naruto may have had a track record of skipping out in the middle of the day, but the chuunin couldn’t even recall one time that the blue-eyed boy had missed the start of school. He was sure he would have remembered the lack of chaos and the lucky break from constant vigilance over his classroom.

Of course, there was always the possibility that Naruto was simply sulking over his injury. The troublemaker had taken some offense to the fact that the wound hindered him from fooling around like normal. Iruka had even found him and Kiba wrestling in the dirt the other day, which was hardly surprising. The blond and the Inuzuka boy had very similar temperaments and were often at odds with one another. Lecturing them was normal, but Iruka had gone over his speech a couple times in his head since then and was willing to admit that he might have put extra fault on Naruto, especially since his bandages had come completely undone.

It was just frustrating to watch a student who put so much work into his studies—despite the questionable results they produced—completely disregard the needs of his body. Shinobi were known to push the limits of what they could do physically in battle, certainly; but when they were recovering at home they made sure to actually recover and not aggravate their injuries by repeatedly reopening them.

The blue-eyed orphan was also set off from his classmates in that most children had a tendency to coddle their injuries, still used to their parents worrying over every little scratch. Iruka had the unfortunate luck of witnessing just how ignorant Naruto was when he practically shed his skin like a snake after a particularly bad sunburn and couldn’t understand his teacher’s horror.

Despite this, the rambunctious boy did not turn a blind eye when he was treated unfairly. The chuunin had often been the recipient of Naruto’s frustration when he was accused of crimes he had not committed and Iruka did his best to be prepared for whatever elaborate trap had been set up for him to trip over. Unfortunately, Naruto was incredibly inventive, to say the least, and Iruka rarely saved himself the trouble. It had forced the scarred man to gain a lot of patience when dealing with the blond and he had hit the limit yesterday. Maybe having the one teacher who treated him fairly slip up and act like every one else in the school had been the breaking point, and the mishcevious boy was giving up on his dream of becoming Hokage.

Iruka barked out a laugh at that thought. Somehow it just didn’t seem like Naruto at all.

That left the question as to where he was unanswered, but the chuunin had no more time to ponder over it as he entered the classroom of rowdy seven and eight year olds. A small group had gathered around the back of the class and some kind of heated argument had broken out. Iruka put a stop to it before it got any worse and started roll call. Naruto was missing, as expected, and his absence was not unnoticed by the others. Someone called out, “Good riddance,” which got a round of snickers and discrete cheers that where quickly stopped by a glare from their instructor.

At least, most of them stopped. To Iruka’s surprise Chouji and Shikamaru were still whispering to each other, and from their expressions it wasn’t just idle gossip. The fact that Shikamaru was conscious enough to be involved at all was surprising in and of itself, but it actually seemed as if he were angry with Chouji, which had never happened to Iruka’s knowledge. Annoyed, yes, but everything was an annoyance and too much trouble to be worth it to Shikamaru.

“Is something wrong, you two?” the chuunin questioned them.

Shikamaru’s focus was suddenly on the front of the room, but Chouji watched the other boy out of the corner of his eye. “No, sir,” came the answer, “It’s none of our business.” The stress put on the last four words was almost unnoticeable, but clearly meant for someone other than Iruka. An angry crunch came from Chouji, who had angled his body away from his best friend.

What has gotten into my students today? The instructor thought as he continued with the attendance. After about seven names down, though, he realized that his laziest student was staring with some worry at the empty spot across the room. Shikamaru knew something, but he wasn’t giving it up in front of his peers. Iruka would just have to interrogate the boy after their weapons training then.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:17 AM   #6
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Re: The Truth of the Matter

The classroom was empty. It was cold too, Naruto thought as he stood shivering with his arms across his stomach and his hands gripping his sleeves, but most importantly it was empty and he couldn’t remember what came after that. There was a line of reasoning, a logical conclusion where ‘if the classroom is empty’ then…

But he couldn’t think of it no matter how hard he tried.

You’re not trying hard enough, Naruto!

This is the kind of third-rate results I’d expect from you.

You don’t know?! You’re so stupid Naruto! What a moron!

I’m disappointed in you.

“No, no, no,” he tried to growl (keep on the mask, don’t let them see) but it came out as more of a moan. He was tired, damn it. He was tired and cold and his head hurt so much. Wasn’t he allowed to be a little tired? His arm was throbbing too, but he’d never tell anyone that, he’d never let them know that he had hurt it again just so they could tie him up in the hospital and ignore him. At least when he was in trouble people looked at him. People talked to him. In the hospital they stuck him in a room behind a curtain and forgot about him.

But there wasn’t anyone here now. He tried again to think where they would be and a wave of exhaustion forced him to stumble to a desk and sit down. At least the laughter had stopped, the haze was gone and his vision was…well it was still blurry when he could get his eyes to open all the way, but it wasn’t orange. That was good. Naruto was pretty sure people didn’t normally see in orange.

Or maybe they did. Maybe people did see in orange, only he had never asked because he didn’t and that’s why they all looked at him like he was a freak. Because he was, because he didn’t see things like normal people did.

More coughing and hacking and gagging drained what little energy he had and suddenly it was a good idea to lay his head down on the desk. Not forever—he still had to figure out where everyone had gone—just enough so that he wasn’t so exhausted.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Someone was speaking to him.

“C’mon Naruto! Don’t be so lazy! You weren’t even here this morning, how can you fall asleep on my desk?! Naruto, get out of my seat!”

Someone was yelling at him. Why were they yelling at him?

“He’s being stupid, Sakura, what do you expect? Just push him out.”

“Ewww, gross! I’m not gonna touch him! He’s like, one big pile of cooties! And he’s all sweaty too!”

Oh, good. Maybe they would leave him there. He was tired. And hot. And in pain.

“Well I don’t want to sit next to him! Seriously, if you don’t get him out of your seat, you’ll have to sit next to Kenta. You really want that?”

“Ino, he’s sitting in my seat! That’s just as bad as sitting in his seat. Of course I want him out. I just don’t want to touch him!

They really should stop yelling. It was almost as loud as the ringing.

“Fine, if you won’t do it, I will!”

Ow. That hurt. Stop shoving.

“Get off the chair you stupid lump!”

He was trying. It was just that his legs wouldn’t seem to work together anymore. It was hard enough when he couldn’t breath. Or see. He misjudged where the edge of the desk was and another shove from behind made him smack both the bandaged arm and his chin against it as he slipped out of the chair to the ground.

“Ino!”

“What? It’s not my fault, Chouji. The clumsy idiot missed the desk on his own.”

“Guys, I don’t think he’s breathing.”

“Don-don’t be stupid Sakura-“

More coughing. It felt like someone was dragging a rake down his throat. Through coals. Why was it so hot?

“—See. You can’t cough if you can’t breath.”

“That sounded more like a dog barking than cough.”

“I told you something was wrong, Shikamaru. I think he’s really sick.”

“Ew! I’m not sitting in that seat if he’s sick! I’ll catch his germs!”

Panic suddenly crept through his body. The ringing hadn’t stopped, but it was changing. Changing like it had before. His eyes snapped open and he pushed himself up shakily.

“Maybe one of us should go get Iruka-sensei.”

“Not me.”

“Shikamaru, you should go.”

“What? Why me?”

“'Cause…'cause you were the last one in and I said so!”

“Naruto are you okay?”
__________________

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
Proud member of The Three Legandary Sannin Fanclub.
Proud member of the Jiraiya Fanclub.
proud to be a member of uzumaki narutu.
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proud to be a sage naruto member.




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