Naruto awoke with a loud yawn as the first few rays of sunlight filtered through his blinds and into his bedroom. The past few days had been the greatest days of his young twelve years of life. He had made friends. Real friends who cared about him and who he could play and laugh with. He even had a family or what he guessed was a family. They would eat together, play games together, and even talk about their day-to-day activities together.
Today was going to be the day he would finally get to join Ino, Shikamaru and Chōji's class and he would be a lier if he said he wasn't a little worried about the move. Not that he minded all that much anyway. Anything had to be better than his old classroom of that he was sure. It was in the middle of such thoughts that the sound of somebody at his door snapped him back to the here and now. Opening the door he saw Ino waiting outside with both Shikamaru and Chōji at her side. Noting the trio's placements he could see that funnily enough, both boys stood in the same places their fathers had only a few days before with Ino in the middle. Both boys said not a word. Chōji as always was far too busy with his chips and Shikamaru likely deemed it to be far too troublesome to do even a simple hi. Naruto for his part could never understand why the roundish boy ate so much food as he clearly didn't need to but he wasn't going to voice that thought for a second time. The boy had a tendency to blow up both literally and figuratively. The first time he saw that he had nearly fallen on his ass when a kid had called him the three-letter word that started with F and ended with T.
"You ready Naruto-kun"? Ino asked.
"Oh yeah, I just need to go get my stuff. You three go ahead I'll be out in a minute". Naruto said before turning around and running into the house looking for his things. Just as quick he was out the door jumping from rooftop to rooftop. He was only a block or two away from the school when he was kicked from his right side. His things flying onto the adjacent building. Naruto had no time to react before the first of many blows landed. One blow after another after another came with great speed and power with seemingly no end in sight. Naruto could feel his bones breaking under the onslaught. Blood pooling in his mouth drowning him. The world around him growing darker by the second until the world was nothing but pure darkness.
Naruto awoke again in what looked to be a meadow. Before him stood a house of modest design and a man with red hair busy cutting logs and piling them up next to the house. Naruto unsure what was happening slowly made his way to the man. But before he could utter even a sound the man spoke.
"Naruto-kun it's been some time. How are you"? The man asked with an even tone.
"Do...do I know you"? Naruto asked the man before him.
"Yes and no Naruto-kun.". The man said confusing Naruto even more. He was talking in riddles.
"Care to help an old man out? I'm been very busy working as of late as you no doubt can tell". The man said before gesturing to the large pile of firewood. A pile that was nearly as high as he was tall and as wide as his forearm.
"Why do you need so much? It's not cold out". Naruto said to the man who only nodded his head in agreement.
"This is true Naruto-kun it's not...but I'm not doing it for that". The man said cryptically confusing Naruto even more than he was already.
"I don't understand". Naruto replied but taking the ax in hand nevertheless and began to work on cutting the logs and piling them onto the already fairly sizeable pile that already existed.
"I'm helping you Naruto-kun. It's hard to explain adequately but needless to say, I have been very busy for hours". The man said before looking upward as if trying to find something in the blue of the sky. However, seeming unable to find whatever it was he was looking for he turned back to him and spoke.
"I'm sorry Naruto-kun I never wanted this to happen". The man said as tears began to form in his eyes.
"Sorry for what"? Naruto asked before the man placed his hand over his left eye.
"In time you will understand my words but for now let this be my way of helping you". The man said before his hand glowed and he felt pain the likes of which he had never felt before and again darkness took hold of him.
"I NEED BLOOD I'M LOSING HIM AGAIN"! The head doctor yelled out as all hell broke loose. This was by far the worst beating he had taken and he wasn't sure he could save the boy this time. Inoichi for his part could only watch as the doctors did everything but it looked hopeless. The news had come in the form of Ino running into the shop with hot tears already running down her face. The attacker was killed on sight but that did little to make the man feel better.
Days later Naruto awoke. The setting sun forcing him to block the light with his hand but once he did he felt a weight land upon him. Looking down he saw it was Ino crying her eyes out.
"Ino-chan why are you crying"? Naruto asked making the girl look up. Once she did she backed away and ran out the door. In seconds Inoichi entered into the room and he to was taken aback by what he saw.
"Naruto-kun your eye. Somethings happened to your eye".
"My eye, what's the matter with my eye"? Naruto asked in a state of shock. That unknown man with the blood-red hair had said something about helping him before he covered up his eye and he awoke in this hospital room. The fact that Inoichi was now talking about his eye had made him start to wonder. Who exactly was that man? Naruto had never seen the man in his life of that he was sure. Inoichi moved closer to the bed. Ino, however, remained near the door eyes still red and puffy from the tears. Upon closer examination, the eye had a golden coloration with what looked like spots of red. Inoichi had a feeling he had seen this before but try as he may he couldn't place it.
"Ino-chan I need you to go and get a big book in my office. It's fairly easy to find. You will know it when you see it". Inoichi said and at once Ino was out the door. For now, they would wait. He wanted to make sure of something before doing anything more. If what he guess this was turned out to be right Naruto would need him now more than ever.
Ino ran past the gates as fast as she could up to the main house and down the hall to her father's office. Upon entering the office she began to look frantically around for the book. She looked high and low but even after nearly half an hour, she couldn't find the book. The longer she looked the more upset she had become. It was only when a cousin of hers walked by the office did she see the book in his hand.
"What are you doing with that"? Ino asked now more upset at the boy than sad at her inability to find the book.
"Oh this, I was just looking at it". The boy said before handing over the large tome to Ino who took it with the speed befitting a ninja twice her age. Once she had it safely in hand Ino ran just as fast back to the hospital and into Naruto's room. Inoichi turned page after page for a few minutes. Once he found what he was looking for his eyes grew wide in shock and surprise. Ino upon seeing this walked over and she too was surprised.
"Ino get the Hokage". Inoichi ordered with authority. Ino understood right away this wasn't her father right now this was the clan head. This was a man who had seen war. A man who had killed more people than the village housed.
"At once father". Ino replied before she ran down the hall and out of the hospital to the Hokage tower.
Hiruzen Sarutobi was hard at work filing away the many towers of paperwork that would enter his office at all hours of the day and night. He didn't bother reading most of them seeing as he had long since memorized the color-coded paperwork. He was using muscle memory for all but the most important of all the documents. He had been doing this for close to sixteen hours when Ino entered the office.
"Hokage-sama it's Naruto something is wrong with him". Ino said and at once Hiruzen had stopped filing paperwork and was beside her in an instant. Before she could even begin to process this she was instantly back in the hospital room beside the Hokage.
"Ino get out...now". Inoichi ordered in the same tone.
"What's going on"? Naruto asked now fearful. This was bad if the Hokage had come to see him. Hiruzen looked at Naruto's eye just as shocked as Inoichi and Ino were.
"Is that"? Hiruzen began before Inoichi answered the incomplete question.
"Yes, sir it is. He somehow has the Demon eye". Inoichi said making Naruto shot up from his bed.
"Demon eye. Does that mean I'm a demon"? Naruto asked.
"No. It's likely a consequence of your heavy burden. Or maybe it's just a fluke mutation. But no your not a demon. Not at all". Inoichi said putting the boy at ease. At least for now.
"Can you hide that Naruto-kun"? Hiruzen asked. Naruto attempted to hide it but failed. Seeing this Hiruzen placed an eyepatch over his left eye.
"You will wear this then until you're able to hide it". Hiruzen said before turning to face Inoichi. Without saying a word the message was clear. He was to train the boy into the ground.
All the while the man with the red hair was busy with his firewood. If his guess was right he was going to be very busy for the foreseeable future. Still, he couldn't help but smile. With his gift, he would go far in life. He didn't even mind the cost of such a gift. The boy deserved some kindness. He just hoped he would make the most of his gift.