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The energy was there; not for a moment was it lacking. He believed that he’d be able to do it this time. God, he even vouched to every citizen in Konoha, the sky, and to the spirits above that he’d do it and do it right! But the cruelty. Damn the cruelty. It was shameful enough to sting his eyes—painfully. He couldn’t even stop the tears that sprung from his eyes.

          Naruto Uzumaki was but an 11-year old boy with thick golden hair as bright as the sun, tanned skin bronzed by that very sun, eyes shaded by every blue in existence, and a pair of scars on each of his cheeks. He was clearly born from the God of Unluckiness. Since he was born, in the Hidden Village of the Leaves, he had been neglected, mistreated, disliked, and hated. Why? It wasn’t for a reason that he knew, but he did know that there was one and it was bad enough for the worst things to happen to him. He didn’t have any parents or any friends and the (many) orphanages that he lived in have helped him very little. Although, he did have the trust of the Hokage, the village leader, and the local ramen shop owner and his daughter. They’ve treated him kindly enough but it had never been enough to erase his brewing anger and hatred towards the other villagers. He attended Konoha Academy, a school for shinobi to learn the history, the rules, and the skills to become the best! It’s absolute lies. Naruto hated that slogan! It’s nothing but a prison filled with conceited, unmannered, ill-bred brats that did nothing but yell about how one family was better than the other. For obvious reasons, Naruto couldn’t even participate.

          However, he woke up every morning, earlier than most, just to make sure he got there on time. He’d do his best in talking with his classmates, with answering the questions Iruka-sensei would throw out, with trying to seem as different as possible to the rumors spread about him. Whatever it took to get people behind his dream of being Hokage, the strongest shinobi in the village. How foolish he had been. It didn’t matter how much effort he put in to making a difference for himself, everyone was just too willing to shut him down, to shut him up.

          “Ugh, just SHUT UP, Naruto-baka!” They’d scream. Well, mainly the females, particularly the infamous pinkette, Sakura Hanuro. She was voted the class’s most beautiful girl and admittedly, Naruto also was charmed by her appearance. But that was short lived when Naruto learned that she possessed the most hostility towards him and that just unnerved him too much.

          Once Sakura commanded it, the majority of the girls followed and repeated her insults as if he hadn’t heard the first time. The surrounding boys either looked away or laughed at the situation, internally agreeing with the girls’ harsh verbal lashing. It only stopped when Iruka-sensei stepped in and told everyone to sit down—it was time for the final exam. Just hearing that phrase had Naruto sweating through his jacket. He prepared himself for this very day, but it was nerve wrecking to think that it was actually going to happen. It would be the third time he’s taken it, and hopefully, the last.

          “You’ll each come in one by one and fulfill the tasks asked of you. I, Mizuki-sensei, and Abbe-sensei will be the judges and the one assigning the exam. If the tasks are completed, you gain your shinobi headband. Are there any questions?” Iruka-sensei asked. He was pleased to see that everyone understood his directions. Iruka was a man of average height with shaggy brown hair, pulled back into a spiky ponytail, tan skin smoother than most other shinobi his age except for a long scar over the bridge of his nose, and the usual wear for a Konoha shinobi (i.e. the headband, the vest, the bland dark colors).

          Needless to say, when it was Naruto’s turn, it somehow turned into a big fiasco. He stood before the three judges, waiting for whatever task they were going to throw at him—“Uzumaki-san, can you please create a clone of yourself?”—EXEPT FOR THAT! He was so much better at kunai throwing, or speed tests, or something other than this. For some reason, clones were not his forte and of course it had to be part of the final exam to being a shinobi.

          Regardless, Naruto threw his worries into the air and decided to wing it. He formed the hand seals and shouted with vigor, the name of the jutsu. In a puff of smoke came out…a disfigured creature that appeared similar to Naruto, but looked more like a horrible experiment than his clone. Abbe-sensei and Iruka-sensei looked disturbed while Mizuki-sensei was trying to hide a smirk behind his hand. It had been a disaster and an embarrassment.

          “I’m sorry, Uzumaki-san, but that’s not a clone.”

          “Come now, Iruka-san, he did do what we asked, just not a perfect one,” Mizuki-sensei objected.

          Iruka frowned, pondering for a moment if he should consider this a pass. Naruto crossed his fingers, squeezing them so tight that the blood circulation was cut off. “I’m sorry, but everyone else managed to create an effective clone and if we were to pass…this, then we’d be lowering our standards. Konoha shinobi are not known for this.” His words were harsh and cut through Naruto like miniature knives, dulled to make him feel the effect all the more.

          Mizuki-sensei turned towards Naruto and gave him a smile of pity. “Sorry kid, I tried. Maybe next time, alright?”

          “Yeah,” Naruto managed to whisper. “Next time.” He heard nothing else as he simply turned around and left the room. It wasn’t until he closed the door behind him that he sprinted with unimaginable speed, as far away from the school as possible. Until he reached an abandoned area filled with towering trees and bulky bushes, he unleashed the bile that accumulated at the base of his throat. It burned every inch of his insides, reminding him all the more of his failure. The steaming tears were another reminder.

          When the contents of his stomach finally emptied, Naruto wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. He tried to force himself to think about something, anything, but his mind was blank. So instead, he just sat down by one of the trees and sat there, looking up at the sky for a very long time. He didn’t have a concept of time—not that he cared at this point—but it was long enough to notice there was a slight tinge in the sky. It must be approaching evening. Suddenly, a rustling sound could be heard in one of the nearby bushes, but Naruto made no move to defend himself. He was much too numb to care. Then, a figure stepped forward, casting a shadow over Naruto’s small frame. It took a long second to realize who it was.

          “Mi…zuki-sensei?” Naruto questioned. His voice sounded battered by the earlier treatment.

          The man smiled in acknowledgment. His build was similar to Iruka-sensei’s, but his hair was a silver bulk that framed his face and his skin illuminated much differently than Iruka’s. “Hey there kid, finally found you.”

          “…You…were looking for me?”

          “Yeah, I felt bad about what happened. Iruka-sensei was a little harsh, wasn’t he? I kept telling him you had potential, but he wouldn’t listen. So I had to convince him to compromise.”

          “What?”

          “I told him that if you could successfully complete this certain mission, you have a great chance at becoming a shinobi and he agreed. Isn’t that great!”

          Naruto’s eyes widened. He still had a chance? “W-What’s the mission?”

          “The Hokage has a special scroll within his second office; it contains numerous secret jutsus that are only meant for Jonin and higher ups. Iruka-sensei doesn’t think you can do it, but if possible, he’d want you to grab that scroll and bring it as proof.”

          “But…how do I get it?”

          Mizuki sighed. “That’s what makes this a mission, Naruto. You have to retrieve that scroll, as if this were a top-secret mission. That means stealing it.”

          “But—“

          “Don’t worry, the Hokage already knows about this secret test. Although, that doesn’t mean he’ll go easy on you. He’s going to treat this as if you were an enemy and try to either attack or distract you from completing this mission. So? Think you can handle it?”

          “I—Yes!” Naruto shouted, even though his voice croaked.

          “Great. If you successfully obtain the scroll, follow this map; it should lead you to an abandoned shack where I will meet up with you. Also, do not tell anyone of this, not even the Hokage. This must be treated as if it were a real mission, understood?” Naruto nodded as Mizuki handed him a slip of paper with the map’s information. “Good luck, Naruto.”

ß-----------------------------------------------------------------à

The entire building seemed very quiet. Naruto wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or bad, but so far, he advanced pretty far into it. His nerves were on edge, but he kept his breathing calm, hoping to whatever deity that was listening to please guide him correctly. He glided down the hallway, keeping a careful watch of the area behind him. Finally, he reached the door that was stationed right across the Hokage’s office, the Hokage’s second office. It was a room rumored to be filled with scrolls from across the globe, secrets from every nation, and powerful jutsus to befit a shinobi of any affinity. VERY quietly, he turned the knob of the door and nearly screamed in joy to find it unlocked. The door didn’t creak when it opened but he didn’t want to take his chances, so he slipped right through as soon as there was enough space to fit through.

He thought it odd that he didn’t have to turn on the lights for the room, but it made sense when he turned around and saw the Hokage sitting across the room, shuffling through some scrolls. Naruto stood frozen, terrified of this new outcome.

“Naruto?” The Hokage asked, taking off his reading glasses to get a better look. Sure enough, there was Naruto standing there with a wild look to him, as if he’d seen a ghost. “What are you doing in this room?”

“J-Ji-san, aren’t you usually sleeping this late?”

The older man chuckled. “A Hokage rarely sleeps. There’s always work to do.” But then he registered Naruto’s words better. “You weren’t thinking of sneaking in here while I was sleeping, were you?”

Naruto panicked, his mind back to blank again like before. What was he supposed to do?! Treat this as if it were a real mission, understood? Mizuki’s words echoed through Naruto’s mind, reminding him of his purpose. The old man obviously knew why he was in here but he wasn’t going to play nice. This was a mission after all. Naruto got into a fighting stance even though he didn’t have any sort of attack that could be on equal footing with the freaking Hokage.

Seeing his change in position, the Hokage was a bit confused and frustrated. Just what was this kid planning? “Naruto, don’t you think it’s a bit late to be playing such pranks?”

“Sorry old man.” There was one trick that Naruto could use as momentary distraction…. “Sexy-no jutsu!” He suddenly transformed from a small little boy into a tall blonde bombshell, naked as the day she was born. Aside from her long golden pigtails and feminine figure, she wasn’t much different from the original Naruto. Yet, it was enough to baffle the Hokage and cause him a massive nosebleed. What could be said; he was weak to beautiful women. “Yes!”

Once the old man was counted out, Naruto looked around for that scroll, realizing that he never asked what it might look like! Realizing that he was running out of time, he simply grabbed the biggest one close to him and headed for the hills. He never looked back, he just kept running, his lungs screaming for a break. Shakily, he snuck a hand down into his pockets to retrieve the map and followed it as quickly as he could. Surprisingly, it took a while for him to reach the shack, but he wasn’t sure if it was due to his nerves that still had him trembling or if it was because it really was a great distance within the forest. Whatever the reason, Naruto didn’t care; he was finally going to be a shinobi! But Mizuki-sensei wasn’t there yet it seemed. So to waste time, Naruto opened the large scroll, anxiously desperate to see what it was that this scroll contained. What secrets it may hold!

Of course, the very first jutsu he saw was a clone jutsu! But from reading it, he saw that it wasn’t like the usual one from the exam. These were called Shadow Clones, exact replicas of the original. If anything, that sounded amazing! But before Naruto could try to attempt, a hand clamped down onto his shoulder. He couldn’t help but scream to the high heavens in fear that he’d been caught.

“Woah, calm down kid, it’s just me. Sorry I’m a little late.”

“Mizuki-sensei! I—I did it! Oh my god, I got the scroll!”

“I see that, great job kid! I knew you could do it. I can’t wait to tell Iruka how great you actually are.” Those words nearly had Naruto in tears; he’d never been praised before. “But first, we got to get you inside and discuss some details. The mission itself is over, but there’s always the aftermath to handle—that’s the job of a shinobi.”

“Details?”

“Yes, for example, things like payment and various other things. Don’t worry, it’s not too boring. In fact, it’ll be exciting.”

“Okay!”

Mizuki lead the way into the shack, smiling all the while. Once inside, he made sure to lock the door and performed some foreign hand seals that had Naruto wondering what was going on. “Please place the scroll on that little desk over there.” After having done so, Naruto turned around only to receive a powerful punch to the face. It was hard enough to slam him back and have him hit the back if his head against the wall. He couldn’t even murmur out a question. His vision was a bit blurry, but he could still see Mizuki’s smiling face looming over him. “We have to make this quick, kid, we don’t have a lot of time.”

Naruto then something he honestly never thought possible. He saw Mizuki untie the strings of his pants and watched as they fell in a heep. “Why…?” Naruto tried.

Mizuki paused. “You’re quite the looker, kid. A beauty really. Then again, monsters usually are.”

There it was again, one of the many insults thrown at him by the village. Why was he such a monster? What had he done wrong? Maybe if he knew, he could agree that he deserved these punishments. Maybe he shouldn’t fight it anymore. Maybe he should just let it happen. Maybe then, he’d understand. So he did; he ignored the searing pain that tainted his innocence and will to even fight back…He supposed he was lucky enough to black out before remembering the gritty details.

ß---------------------------------------------------------à 

There were hands all over him. Some felt soft, others course, but even the gentlest of touches had his skin crawling. His eye lids felt heavy and he struggled to open them. He wasn’t sure where he was, but he could smell disinfectant all around him and hear the voices of men and women alike surrounding him. He was going to drift off back to sleep—despite the chaos around him—but when he felt a warm hand sliver up his thigh, he snapped his eyes open and screamed raw. He didn’t have a clear understanding of the wild eyes looking at him or the clean room he was in since all he could register was pure disdain. He was trembling so violently that his head vibrated.

“STOP! DON’T TOUCH ME!!” He screamed so loud that one of the nurses worried that the windows would break.

The head doctor, a short and stout man with a patch of grey hair and moustache frowned. “It is not like we want to touch you. You’re inj—“

“NO!”

“Alright, alright,” he relented. “But stop screaming. You’re in a hospital.”

Naruto was panting but he heeded the doctor’s warnings and slowly calmed himself. “H-How d-did…?” Compared to boisterous voice before, this was the voice a fragile boy. The doctor had to strain to hear him.

“You were found by ANBU and they brought you here. They said there was a lot of blood so we were checking for any injuries. Do you hurt anywhere?”

Thinking about it, Naruto flexed his fingers and toes, not really feeling any pain. What was for certain, however, was that his chest was throbbing; it was on the near brink of shattering. Thus, Naruto shakily pointed at his chest. “It hurts,” he squeaked.

The doctor sighed and then nodded. “Alright, can you please remove your shirt? So I can check?”

With reluctance, Naruto closed his eyes and slowly took off his tattered jacket and black t-shirt. When he reopened his eyes, he watched warily as the doctor approached with a stethoscope in his hand. However, the doctor frowned after glancing at Naruto’s chest. “I don’t see anything.”

“W-What?” Naruto asked, confused. How could there not be anything? His chest was hurting enough to blur his vision with tears.

“I hope this isn’t another joke—“

“No, it hurts. It hurts. It hurts. Make it stop, please. I won’t bother you again,” he sobbed.

Watching his blue eyes produce the fattest tears he had ever seen on a kid, he had a funny feeling the boy wasn’t lying. He also had a feeling that the pain the boy was feeling wasn’t of a medical issue; it wasn’t one he could even attempt to heal. The thought of that saddened the doctor, even if just a bit. He never liked this rumored monstrosity, but if he could admit to even himself, he felt a pang at the pain etched across his face. The boy was clearly suffering.

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

Naruto looked at the doctor with fear and more agony. “I—I know you hate me—“

“That isn’t it, I promise, but this kind of pain isn’t one I can heal. It’s a different kind of pain….a more personal one.”

“How then?”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid that no cure exists since everyone treats it differently. What I do know is that something happened and the Hokage will want to know about it. Perhaps I cannot help with this, but I can tell him something else?” The doctor pushed.

Naruto knew what he was referring to and the mere mention had him trembling again. How could he trust this doctor after everything that happened?! He nervously looked at the back of the room where there were two nurses quietly awaiting for any instructions. He didn’t feel comfortable with so many extra eyes looking at him and they didn’t seem to hold the same level of patience as the doctor. “C-Can they…leave?”

“Would that make you more comfortable?” Naruto nodded and so the doctor made a quiet gesture for the nurses to step out. “Okay, they’re gone now. Can you tell me where else it hurts?”

Naruto bit into his bottom lip to keep a sob from breaking out. What he couldn’t hold back was the tears racing down his cheeks. He felt too embarrassed and shameful and to explain it to a person that didn’t even like him that much, it just hurt him all the more. “It—It doesn’t hurt…but I…I felt it—him. L-Lower.”

The doctor cleared his throat, getting the gist of what the poor boy was suggesting. “Would you feel comfortable enough to let me have a look?”

“W-Will it…hurt?”

“No, I promise.”

After a solid minute, Naruto nodded, not trusting his voice to sound for him. It was already weakened by his constant sobbing and tightened throat. The doctor numbly collected some materials (cotton swabs, gloves, cotton balls, some little boxes and round circle things) and waited for Naruto to lean back. Everything moved in slow motion, almost as if it weren’t even happening. Unfortunately though, it was happening and it was confirmed all the more when he felt his legs being slightly pulled apart before the doctor. Another set of tears was all Naruto could respond with. Yet ironically enough, all of this reminded Naruto of something about Mizuki-sensei. The man was the academy’s health teacher aside from being an instructor for mathematics. For the older students that were eligible for the final exam, it was mandatory to take the health class, which went over many topics, including sexual assault.

That had been an interesting class because Naruto remembered Mizuki being so aggressive and so intense about the topic. He explained the cold reality of rape, of what desperate people were willing to do to undermine the will and power of another. No one was off limits. Although it was commonly reported more so by females than males, which did give Naruto some semblance of relief (not that he’d wish that on anyone!!) but it made him glad that that was one less thing to fear for himself while growing up to be a shinobi. Perhaps he should retract that mentality since karma came to attack him for that type of thinking. Even worse, Mizuki hadn’t been the first male to ever call him…attractive. The village drunks have passed by with crude words, telling him that if he wasn’t a monster, he’d be really pretty as a girl. At the time, such phrases confused the crap out of him but now it made so much sense. Maybe that’s what the village meant? That he looked too pretty (something that had him grimacing through his tears) but because he was a boy, that threw people off? But what could be done to change that?!

“Alright, I’m all done. Are you alright?” Again, Naruto just nodded. He was actually surprised that he hadn’t felt anything and that the process went much quicker than anticipated. Or maybe 10 hours passed and Naruto was just in another world—he could only wish. “Good. Now try and get some rest. Call me if you need anything, alright?”

He watched as Naruto settled himself into the bed and close his eyes, immediately drifting off into sleep. The boy had been much more tired than assumed. When he stepped out of the room, he nearly collided with someone standing too close but upon seeing it was the Hokage, he held back his tongue-lashing. “Hokage-sama,” he acknowledged with a respectable bow.

The Hokage didn’t look happy in the slightest; the usually smiling older man looked hunched over in stress. His wrinkles were drawn in deep, his lightly tanned skin seemed tacky and pale, and his receding grey hair was now looking brittle. “Doctor Niho, how is he?” He wanted to run right passed the doctor and take a look at Naruto.

“Forgive me, Sir, but I think it’s best to let him rest. He still seems on edge after such an experience.”

“Naruto needs some support right now,” he growled. He knew that no one in the village was going to give him that, not the way everyone has been rumored to treat him.

“Hokage-sama, please. If you can follow me into my office so we can talk more privately?”

The Hokage didn’t want to, but it was the best plan of action at the moment, especially since Naruto was sleeping at the moment. After nodding, he followed behind the doctor into his office which was just a few doors down from Naruto’s room. The doctor gestured for him to sit at the chair stationed in from of his desk while he walked around to sit opposite of him. “So what can you tell me?”

“Mr. Uzumaki has certainly been assaulted…but there just isn’t direct proof of it.”

“What are you telling me?”

“That either the boy is lying—which I doubt!” The doctor exclaimed after seeing the Hokage’s face darken. “Or he healed before we could collect any proper evidence. The examination revealed very small traces of semen but no tearing, redness, swelling; just a healthy little boy.”

“And how many healthy little boys have traces of semen trailing from their rectums?!”

“With all due respect, Sir, and I’m speaking hypothetically, if the assailant is caught, his sentencing as of right now cannot include sexual assault. Even if the DNA matches, all it would reveal is that some type of activity occurred, but not without Mr. Uzumaki’s consent.”

“You think that boy consented to this?”

“Of course not, but we also can’t prove that he didn’t. I’m not saying this out of cruelty, but out of professionalism as a doctor. I’ve met and treated victims of assault before, but this is difficult to fight. The boy possess healing properties that annihilate any external hindrances. Meaning wounds, poisons, and drugs may have a temporary effect, but ultimately have no solid effect on him.”

“If only he were a doctor, right? Well, I’ve always known of Naruto’s fast healing but I always thought it was a good thing. He at least had something to help lessen his pain, but what a cruel joke. For his own abilities to be used against him.”

“I am sorry, Hokage-sama.”

“It is of no fault of yours, I understand your point of view. Plus, not everything is for naught. Before taking him to the hospital, ANBU took pictures of Naruto and he was covered in blood…from the waist down. As well, the scroll that Naruto stole is now missing. I’m hoping such evidence will be enough to sentence the assailant to death.”

“I’ll hope for that too.”

“I should also thank you, Doctor Niho. When I learned about this incident, I was scared to think that….well I’m sure you can understand. I’m glad you took good care of him. He’ll appreciate that more than you’ll ever know.”

Doctor Niho appreciated the praise, but also felt uncomfortable that he had to be praised at all, for doing his job. He recalled the terrified look on the boy’s face and burned it into his memory. “I will admit, Hokage-sama, I’m one of the many that resents that boy. I’ve never liked him. I’ve given him my share of nasty looks and hoped the day would never come when my services would be needed for him.”

The Hokage looked saddened to hear that but he understood all the same. “And now?”

“Are monsters capable of a broken heart?” The doctor answered with his own question.

“If rumors are ever true, then a monster has no heart.”

“Then that boy is no monster.”

ß-------------------------------------------------------------à 

The sleep was little, but pretty effective. Naruto woke up early in the morning feeling sluggish but not as drained as he imagined. He noticed there was a fresh glass of juice on his little night stand and suddenly felt the dryness of his throat. He cried a lot, something he wasn’t proud of, but it felt better to cry than not. Having to reach a little ways to grab the cup, Naruto grasped it and didn’t hesitate to gulp large healthy chugs of the juice. It refreshed him well! As he continued to finish the juice, he heard the door slide open and saw the Hokage walking in. He noticed the old man walking in with a strained smile, as if he already knew everything. Damn, the sting of the tears were already creeping up on him.

“Good morning, Naruto.”

“Morning…Ji-san,” Naruto replied. The Hokage heard how fragile the boy sounded and immediately felt the urge to console him.

There was an awkward silence lingering in the air until the Third had finally spoke. He did his best to ignore the slight flinch Naruto made when he spoke. “Naruto, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for what you had to endure.”

There was nothing to stop the tears so the best Naruto could do was withhold his sobs. “It’s—It’s my fault! I s-shouldn’t have listened!”

“No, no, ssh, it’s alright,” The Third pleaded as he knelt by Naruto. He gently placed a hand on Naruto’s own in hopes the boy understood. “This is not your fault, do you hear me? You were taken advantage of. Who was it that told you to steal the scroll?”

“M-Mizuki-sensei. I d-didn’t pass the final exam cause I c-couldn’t make a clone. But he said I could pass if I did the mission.”

“Mission?”

“He said you knew about it. He said to treat this like a real mission and treat you like an enemy. I thought you knew,” Naruto said with another sob threatening to wrack through him.

“And then what happened?”

“He gave me a map to the shack and said to meet him there. When I got there….he took me into the shack…and…,” but Naruto couldn’t finish since he felt a wave of nausea hit him. He didn’t want to remember.

“Ssh, it’s okay, you don’t have to tell me the rest. We’ll find him and we’ll put him on trial for his crimes.”

“He’ll go to prison?” Naruto hoped. He prayed he’d never have to see that man again but a part of him knew that that had a slim chance of happening.

“Well I’m hoping for execution. I’ll make sure he’ll never harm you or anyone else again.”

That had surprised Naruto (and made him slightly happy that the old man was so angry for him) but he knew that’d never happen. “He won’t be killed. No one will believe me. He’s a hero.”

“NARUTO! Don’t ever say that, ever, you hear me?!”

“It’s true!” Naruto shouted back, although a lot weaker than the Hokage’s. “I fell for the stupid trick! Sasuke-teme or Sakura-chan wouldn’t have been so stupid, or anyone else at school! Everyone will say I deserved it for being stupid…and different.”

“What do you mean ‘different’?”

“I figured it out,” Naruto said accusingly. “I know why they hate me.”

The Hokage paled. Had the doctor or the nurses said something? Was it Mizuki? Or did Naruto simply piece the pieces together? “How?”

“Mizuki-sensei told me. I asked him why and he said because I was pretty. A beauty like all monsters. The drunks say that too! I’m weird, right? I look like a girl or something?!”

“Wait, Naruto, slow down! I’m not understanding what you’re saying—“

“Mizuki-sensei did that because he thought I looked like a girl, right? Like the drunks? I look like a freak.”

“Heavens, no Naruto, that isn’t it! You’re not weird, you’re perfectly fine as you are. What Mizuki did was wrong regardless of the reason but you certainly don’t look like a girl.”

Naruto seemed confused now that his main argument was dismissed, but the Third’s flustering attitude made Naruto suspicious. “But you know, right?”

The Third calmed and remained silent, blanking his face from reveling too much. “I do not.”

“You’re lying,” Naruto gasped. He couldn’t believe he was actually witnessing this. “Why?! Tell me, did I do something wrong?!”

“Naruto, I—“ But the Thrid paused. It wasn’t right to lie, he knew better than that. Yet, he didn’t have the heart to tell the boy the horrendous truth of his birth and what occurred of his parents. Looking at Naruto, he could taste the desperation, how much he wished to end this circle of hatred that had followed him since he first took breath. “I—I can’t, Naruto. I know it’s hard to understand, but I can assure you that you’ve done nothing wrong.”

Naruto’s eyes widened. “Then why do they all hate me? Why am I a monster?! You knew all this time but you won’t tell me?!”

“Please understand, I only wanted to protect you. You aren’t of age yet, so telling you now would put you at risk!”

“I’ve been at risk!” Naruto hissed. “You always told me to endure, that that’s what true shinobi do, but I don’t know why I’m enduring it anymore. They hate me and I hate them!”

“Naruto,” the Third warned. “You are hurt and frustrated, but you don’t mean that. Don’t hate them, they simply don’t understa—“

What don’t that understand?”

The Third continuously shook his head, wishing that there was a simpler way. “Naruto, I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

“Then I’m not going to be a shinobi,” Naruto spat harshly. He had a fresh wave of tears streaming down his face and when he saw the Third about to object, he vehemently shook his head to stop him. “No, I won’t fight for this village if I don’t know the truth. I won’t endure being called names when I don’t know why!”

“You will, I promise you, a blood oath, that I will personally tell you when you’ve reached 16 years of age.”

“T-That’s not good enough. I’m only 11 and the beatings and torment are getting worse, but if I do wait, it’ll just get worse. I keep trying to be the best shinobi but they always want to bully me or kick me out. I don’t have a chance.”

“I’ll talk to them—“

“No, because they won’t listen. They never listen.”

Seeing no amount of arguing was going to change his mind, the Third heaved a stressful sigh and sat on the edge of Naruto’s bed. “Then what do you want from me?” He asked quietly.

“The truth. Everything.”

“I will compromise instead,” he started, again ignoring Naruto’s flinch. “I will only tell you half of the story and reveal the other half when you come of age. Understood?”

“Alright…”

“Right then; you were born on October 10th, a horrible day known to the village. It was the day the legendary beast, Kyuubi, attacked the village and took many lives, including the Fourth Hokage. He had been preoccupied with some serious matters before intercepting the Kyuubi’s attack, making everyone believe that he killed it when he did. On the contrary, no mortal man can successfully kill an unleashed biju (tailed beasts). So the only other option was to seal it away. The problem with that option was that he’d have to seal it within himself, but biju are notoriously known for having endless amounts of chakra; even if he tried, he wouldn’t have succeeded.”

“Why?”

“Because the chakra would have been too much for his body to handle. Not to mention, the Fourth being a grown adult meant that his chakra coils and pathways had already been developed. So even worse, the Fourth only had one last option to go with—seal it within a child whose coils haven’t been developed yet…”

When he paused, he looked at Naruto expectantly with a raised eyebrow. Replaying everything he had just said and absorbing his words, Naruto shot his head forward in disbelief, leaving his mouth wide open as well. “Y-You don’t mean…?”

Numbly, the Third nodded. “I’m afraid so. He had no choice. The demon fox was taking so many lives and destroying homes that he had almost lost hope. I can tell you truthfully that he did not want to, nor did he like doing it, but he had no choice. The price for sealing such a demon away was his own life. You were meant to be revered as a hero…but the villagers held a different opinion.”

“So I’m the monster…?”

“No! YOU aren’t the monster; you’re the human container, but the villagers have difficulty in seeing past that and only thinking on the surface.”

That had saddened Naruto but he was finally glad to learn the truth. He had heard adults speaking of October 10th and they’d always speak with anger and sadness. Not knowing at the time that they were referring to “him”, he’d feel just as angered. So in that sense, he understood where their feelings were coming from, but now knowing that the demon was sealed within him and the whole incident was not within his control, he also thought them immature and selfish. The whole thing was just confusing and stupid. It made him wonder why him? Where was he being born that the Fourth decided it was a smart idea to snatch him and then use him as a sealing container?

“What of my parents?”

The Third looked at him pleadingly. “I will say no more. I already promised you that the rest of the truth will be told and explained when you’ve reached of age.”

“I…understand, that’s fair.” Naruto turned to look out the window and took those few seconds to really understand what had just been told to him. He was a container…he had a demon inside of him. It made much more sense than his previous theory, that’s for sure, but if anything, it also complicated some matters. At least the first theory could be rectified, but this? How was he going to change these circumstances? He couldn’t! People legitimately thought he was a monster, so the feared him, hated him, neglected him. He imagined that if he ran away, the village would rejoice that the monster finally disappeared, but even if he were to do that, the old man wouldn’t let him. The Third really wanted him to become a shinobi and help protect this selfish village….So why not do just that?

“Can I ask for another request then?”

“A request? What else could you want?”

“I still don’t want to be a shinobi for this village but I understand now why they’ve acted that way. I think I get it, but I still wouldn’t want to go back to school just to keep failing. So I want to permission.”

“Permission for what?”

“I’ve been studying by myself and teaching myself things every time I got kicked out of school and I train all the time. I want permission to live on my own, away from the village or somewhere quiet where I can grow on my own and become strong on my own.”

“Naruto—“

“I won’t be loud or play anymore pranks or be in anyone’s way. Whenever you need me, I’ll be there and I’ll go on any mission. I’ll even protect this village with my life.”

“You told me you didn’t want to protect this village.”

“When I didn’t know the truth, but I know now. You said I was supposed to be a hero. What if that means I can help people but they don’t have to know it?”

“This could also mean giving up your dream of being Hokage.”

“I didn’t give it up. Mizuki-sensei took it away from me.”