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[Naruto] "The Other Side" 01/?

Title: The Other Side (01/??)
Rating: PG13 (AU, OOC, Language)
Archived @ Master List
Summary: [Sequel to Never Ever] Spending a lifetime in the Sand Village has taught Naruto everything about being ideal shinobi, but upon his return to the Leaf Village, he will learn that there are still far too many things he does not know.


Chapter 01: False Mirth


"Stop your singing and SHUT THE HELL UP back there!"

The charming phrased command rang through the air and was punctuated by a loud whiplash, followed shortly by the whine of an enraged bull. It seemed that twenty-five minutes and seventeen seconds of loud, raucous singing was enough to wear away Driver-san's little patience, compelling him to issue out orders he could not enforce and animal abuse that would no doubt come back to both figuratively and literally bite him in the ass.

Pathetic. Kankurou could last up to an hour, even at his worst.

But Naruto obliged, more out of amusement than anything else, and ended his very loud (and very offensive) song, which detailed his every last contempt for the Leaf Village and just exactly what methods he planned on employing to make the inhabitant's lives a living hell. The tune came from a child's rhyme Temari-nee used to sing, in a time when jumping rope was for enjoyment and not for training- with modified lyrics, of course.

Their 'escort' turned out to be an old man, uninformed of the situation and obviously bitter over having been assigned the task of ushering three enemy teenagers into his village. The wagon he had with him was big enough for three, but not much more- a slave cart, Naruto later joked, though the underlying meaning was lost to few. The insult of not having a formal procession was noted, and though they had at least merited a small team of ANBU for guard, Naruto had a feeling that he probably wasn't suppose to know about them.

"Ah, I would, I would," Naruto replied, in the cold, chilling tone he used for scaring intruders from the borders of the Wind Country, "but if I do, I'll have that urge to start killing people again."

Driver-san stiffened. Naruto caught Kurosaki's stare from the opposite end of the cart and flashed a smile she did not return, causing his own to droop a little.

Part of 'the arrangement' the two villages had worked out involved sending a three-Genin team to the Leaf village, with Naruto as one of them. Kurosaki and Nubou became the other two. Whether the Leaf meant it as an act of kindness or as a punishment, he did not know. Neither of them had shown a strong emotion (or any emotion, for that matter) when told they were being dispatched to an enemy village as war prizes, but Naruto still felt personally responsible for dragging them along; despite the fact that he had absolutely no say in the matter. They were still registered as his official teammates, after all.

Currently, she was meditating and Nubou was resting, slumped, still covered in bandages, and bearing disturbingly resemblance to a broken dummy. Maybe they were both just sitting very quietly, Naruto couldn't be sure. Neither of them had said a word since their departure and Naruto's brief attempt at starting a conversation, which somehow resulted in him singing his very loud (and very offensive) song, had been unsuccessful.

Discomfort with silence was something he was not used to, something he did not ever want to get used to, for that matter. Silence with Gaara had always meant peace. Now, he was filled with a kind of anxiety, a need to make noise. Sighing and leaning back against the wooden rails, Naruto closed his eyes and wondered if any of the patrolling ANBU would favor a little chat.

---


It was late into the evening of the second day by the time they reached the Leaf Village. The West Gate, or at least what remained of the West Gate, greeted them. Even by night, Naruto could see that the damage Gaara had caused was great and for that, he smiled.

They passed by the sentries and doormen in silence, though the stony expressions on their faces conveyed better emotion than any words could have. Driver-san, who had kept amazingly quiet for the last twenty-eight hours, drove them through the wreckage and rubble to an official-looking building where a young Jounin was waiting.

"I've delivered the Sand shinobi," Driver-san whispered conspiringly to the him (they could hear every word), glancing over his shoulder ever so often, as if he were afraid his charges would do him bodily harm the second they were given the chance. Naruto resisted a short-lived urge to roll his eyes.

The young Jounin nodded absently, keeping his gaze trained on the passengers and Driver-san, apparently noticing that he wasn't being given the amount of attention he deserved, huffed a little huff inconsistent with his previous unease.

"You three," the young Jounin said when he finally chose to address them, "Come with me. The committee wishes to speak with you."

And so they followed the young Jounin into the building. Driver-san fumed silently by the door and Naruto smiled.

---


The 'committee' turned out to be two of the oldest geezers Naruto had ever seen. He vaguely recalled a rare glance at the legendary Ebizou-jiisama and Chiyo-baasama, and decided that these two probably had fewer years in their lives. Still, the old lady had enough lines on her face to make a prune jealous. Unlike Driver-san, however, they would not forfeit their dignity so easily; they were shinobi.

This should prove to be interesting.

The Old Lady was the first to speak. Later, much later, he would admire her for her poise and ability to speak calmly to an unreceptive audience. At the present, admiration was far from his mind.

"The three of you were deployed from the Sand Village two days ago in accordance to Sandaime Hokage's final wish," she said.

That was a terribly nice, diplomatic way to rearticulate ‘paying tribute’.

“It is not our custom to do such a thing, but we’re willing to make an exception in this case. There are other factors involved besides granting His last request, many of which involve improving the strained relationship between the Leaf and the Sand.”

Liar

Just then, she turned her gaze on him, as if she had guessed what he had thought. "And you in particular, Uzumaki Naruto. There are many things- too many things that you were not told; things we had wanted you to hear from us. I’m certain you know what this is that we speak of.”

The Kyuubi. Naruto’s facial expression almost changed at the unexpected bit of honesty.

“However," she continued, "someone has requested to relate these events to you himself. He will contact you soon."

Annoyance fell back into place. I don't care.

"But there are more pressing matters at hand that need attending to," the Old Man all but interrupted. "We had not planned for you to arrive until at least the next month. But now that you’re here, you might as well help with the reconstruction.”

One month? One entire month?!

“The three of you are to be on a team until further notice,” he went on. Then, after a slight hesitation: “You may keep and wear your Sand hitaite, but will also be given a Leaf one to keep. You are to remain in this village and you are not to have contact with yours until everything has been resolved."

"Sandaime Hokage left your apartment as it was, Uzumaki Naruto, in case you ever came back," the Old Lady said to him. Something thumped inside his chest. "As for the two of you, we are currently short on housing, but I'm sure his will suffice." The tone of her voice allowed no room for arguments.

"Your Jounin instructor will meet you at the Academy tomorrow morning at ten," the Old Man said. Then, staring purposefully at Naruto: "I trust you know where it is. Until then, you may go."

Sensing that the conversation was over, Naruto bowed his head stiffly (more of a nod, really) and turned his back on the Elders, an action promptly imitated by Kurosaki and Nubou. They exited the building without collecting the Leaf hitaite lined up at the front table.

Rule #168 of Sunagakure Code: Identifying with enemies is unacceptable and punishable by permanent exile.

---


They trooped down the main avenue of the village in silence, heads held high in quiet dignity. They drew many curious looks and scowls, but no one did a thing. Naruto was almost disappointed- it seemed the people of the Leaf hadn’t changed one bit. They were still pitifully impaired in directness.

He led Kurosaki and Nubou up the abandoned road to his old residence, a memory he had tried, but remained unsuccessful, at ridding himself of. When they jiggled the knob and realized it was locked, Naruto kicked the door clean off its hinge in a sudden fit of anger that surprised even himself.

He had hated this place. It was always empty.

“Drop your things off wherever you want,” he said, gesturing them inside. “I’m not going to keep an eye on you guys, but make sure you remember where this place is. You’re on your own for food, just don’t do anything that could worsen our situation more than it already is. They’re already desperate enough to keep us all in one spot for surveillance.”

The sound of two immensely heavy packs hitting the ground was his response. Kurosaki and Nubou bowed simultaneously, and then each dashed out the door in different directions. The familiarity of such rigid discipline was strangely comforting and after a few seconds, Naruto followed in suit, leaving the door wide open, as if challenging anyone to come and rob them.

---


“I don’t do business with trash,” the man snapped.

Naruto sighed and rolled his eyes. Of all the convenience stores still open at this hour, he had to choose the one with a store clerk who could tell a difference between Sand and Leaf village symbols.

Locking the man in his gaze, Naruto formed undetected hand seals before swiftly bringing his kunai up and stabbing the wooden counter. The clerk reeled back in shock, horror dawning on his face when he realized that the previously-crowded store was now empty.

“Listen,” he said in the same voice he had used on Driver-san: “You really don’t want to piss me off. You really want to keep your head attached to your neck. You really don’t want to die a virgin.”

With each ‘really’, the man shrank back further and further, until finally, he let out a small yelp and ducked beneath the counter. Naruto bagged the food, then, on a second thought, tossed a few coins down before he strolled out of the store. Getting into trouble on the first night was too much, even for him.

The bell hanging from the door jingled and the clerk blinked. The store was once again full of people and just as he was about to raise his voice and yell out that his establishment had been damaged, he realized, upon closer inspection, that the wood had no wound.

Outside, arms full of groceries, Naruto smiled.

---


The streets weren't deserted yet; he walked through them as if they were. It didn't matter that nearly everyone frowned in his direction. It didn't matter that they were ignoring him the same way they had a decade ago. Most of them probably didn't even recognize him as the vessel of the Kyuubi. He didn't care. Not anymore. Their approval was of no importance.

He did not care.

Naruto glanced up toward the stars just in time to see one fall. Suddenly, he realized that the stars had not changed one bit, even from what felt like the other side of the world. In fact, he could almost fool himself into thinking that he was back home, if only Gaara was by his side.

He reached into a bag and pulled out an apple, polished, and bit into it, wondering if his friend was looking at the same sky.

t . b . c


Alright, mis amors... tell me what you think. Anything good and everything bad, I needs to know. o_O

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
forgottenlover
Feb. 8th, 2006 11:00 am (UTC)
::just read the whole fic from the first one to here:: I like how you set up the interaction, and I see that this will go really well. I'm not very good with con crit I'm sad to say, but I didn't see anything glaringly wrong
niccy07
Jun. 4th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
Yes! It's a sequel! I'm really looking forward to what happens to Naruto now that he's in the Leaf village again. I love your characterization of him. It's belivable and not over the top AND it's an AU. You are now officially my favorite person. I'm looking forward to the next update!
keelain
Jun. 11th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
um, since this was updated four months ago, I'm wondering if you still want to continue with this fanfic.

I look forward to reading it and will be very sad if it'll never be complete. I'd just like you to know that I totally support you in continuing this (as well as the harry potter/FMA cross over)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )