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Regarding Naruto, things rarely went as planned, destiny or not. Flash fiction based on the cover page of each manga chapter. Volume one complete.
f r a g m e n t s // volume one
zero. this is only the beginning/darkest before dawn
(there is nothing in his space but darkness and cold and silence)
And then the earth began to heave and quake with preternatural violence, wreckage and bodies crumbling broken to the streets below.
Then the scream: primal, timeless, terrifying, a demand for absolute destruction that sent even the most steadfast shinobi tumbling (like so many dead leaves) against the sheer force of ancient hatred that gave it voice.
Then came the silence. It was a soundless explosion, a vacuum that swept the village. It took with it the cries of the wounded and dying, snuffed out the smoke and the flames and the hopelessness of the people and sent all those things outward to crash against the granite cliffs and into the forest beyond the broken walls.
One by one, the survivors lifted their faces to the east as the sun began to rise.
The stillness was shattered by an infant's cry.
one. what dreams may come
(a talent for smiling, a talent for living)
In dreams, Naruto has friends, people who love him and laugh with him and eat ramen at his side. Sometimes he even has a family: a mother who wakes him up with breakfast and a warm hug each morning, a father who teaches him how to be strong. He has a rival, and a beautiful girl that that adores him. The people of Konoha line up as he walks by to congratulate him for being such a fine ninja. (Naruto dreams in full color, ten million shades of little boy desires that spring to life in vibrant watercolor washes of hope and happiness.)
In dreams, Naruto does not live by himself in a cold apartment that leaks during the rainy season. He does not spend his days reaching for the backs of the people who surround him. He does not wonder what it's like to feel the warmth of another's love and affection.
But only then.
two. appearance deceiving
(hiding from some poisoned memory)
Naruto stands in front of the bathroom mirror, naked to the waist, crimson paint drying on his fingertips like old blood.
He does not know what inspires the patterns, but he likes the way it turns his soft face feral. He stares at his reflection, entranced.
Perhaps he stares too long. Something in him stirs: he bares his sharp white teeth and grins, not a Naruto grin, but something other that surges to the surface and he thinks he imagines screams and the smell of smoke and death and iron tang sliding heavily across his tongue and--
He shakes his head abruptly, startled.
(after all this time I still carry my heart blind)
Kakashi doesn't need the Hokage to remind him who Uzumaki is. A part of him realizes that Sarutobi probably knows this, but goes through the motions to spare him the discomfort of having it pointed out.
Kakashi knows all about legacies. He knows how unfair it is to walk in the shadow of a father. He also knows that Naruto doesn't know these things.
(When the adults of Konoha look at Naruto, Kakashi knows what they see. He'll never forget the way the flames guttered and cast grim shadows through the smoke, the way terror slid cold and clawing in the pit of his belly as he realized what it truly meant to be powerless. He supposes he understands; they weren't there at the end, when the Yondaime curled around the infant and prayed forgiveness, gripped by a force Kakashi could feel but not see.)
A worn photograph peeks out from a pile of half-rolled scrolls. From beneath the shock of thick golden hair stares brilliant blue eyes unlike any left in this world, defiant and determined and heavy with an undercurrent of loneliness that hovers just beneath the surface.
"He doesn't know," Kakashi says softly, eyes flickering to the man standing quietly beside the kitchen table.
Sarutobi intently studies the piles of dirty bowls, and pretends not to hear him.
four. dirty mirror
(we all must make this mistake)
If they had the senses to receive it, they would have felt this: heavy tendrils of destiny, slick and slipping 'round their fragile throats and hearts, something far greater than themselves guiding each desperate kunai throw and frightened shudder belly-down in the brush.
Sasuke would not have accepted it, even if he had the knowledge. His mind was heavy with his own chosen path.
Sakura, steeped in genjutsu and a twelve-year old's guileless adoration, would have missed it in the corona of the Uchiha's glow.
Regarding Naruto, things rarely went as planned, destiny or not.
five. idle hands
(intrigued but no more astounded)
"It could be worse," Sarutobi murmurs thoughtfully as he surveys the elite teacher's bleach-splattered clothing. "It seems he's calmed some since the graduation."
On the other side of the desk, Ebisu simmers, fists clenched tightly at his sides.
six. horizon eyes
(pardon me while I burn)
Naruto knows he is a great ninja, even if no one else wants to admit it. But there is always greater.
Until, of course, he gets to the top.
seven. your famous heart
(once again love calls you by your name)
There are many things that Sakura knows. Her forehead may be large, but so is the expanse of her knowledge, and she prides herself in this. She knows seventy-four different points that can be used to kill a man. She knows all the rules of the shinobi, rules that will keep her from making mistakes in future missions. She learns quickly, and does not forget. She has yet to learn that knowledge and application are light-years apart.
(Sakura is confident in her own way, but only when cushioned by a margin of superiority in a given task.)
No scrolls, no perfect scores, no recitations will tell her how to win the Uchiha's heart. Common sense tells her this is true, but she is young and sure that somehow, someday, Sasuke will surely understand the depth of her feelings.
She is willing to wait.
True love always prevails, right?