When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Unlike others, this tale is not about mothers whispering “I love you” to their children and nor is it about two people falling in love on a snowy winter night in the dim light of candles. It is not about getting the present that you have always wanted and laughing with the person who gave it to you, nor is it about staying up late with your friends roasting chestnuts over an open fire.
Because, for Uzumaki Naruto, he had none of these.
He had no mother to tuck him and tell him “I love you” nor did he have a lover to fall in love with on a snowy winter night in the dim light of candles. He did not have anyone he could laugh with and exchange presents with nor did he have friends, or chestnuts, or an open fire.
He had people he could call his acquaintances: Sakura, Kakashi, Tsunade, Shizune, Neji, Lee, Tenten, Jirayia, and the rest of the peers he graduated with.
The only people he had ever considered family were long gone; Sarutobi, the Sandaime Hokage was murdered by his own student, Orochimaru. And the person he considered to be a brother, Uchiha Sasuke, had defected from the village so that he could gain the power he needed to kill his older brother. And it was none other than the serpentine sannin who persuaded him to do so.
He sat curled in a ball in front of the malfunctioning radiator to ward away the coldness that seemed to grip his body no matter how hot it was outside. Maybe it was because the landlord refused to repair the radiator so that it would actually give some warmth to the orphan, or maybe because of the constant draft that blew through the window in his bedroom that would never quite close.
‘This would be the first time,’ he thought to himself as he wrapped the blanket covering him even closer around so that he could hardly move. ‘The first Christmas without a present.’ To anyone this may sound like a selfish thought, but keep in mind that Uzumaki Naruto was only thirteen years old.
The holidays still held a special place in his heart; they were a time of wonder, of happiness, and of family. And every year since he could remember, he would wake up on Christmas morning to find that someone, an anonymous person, left him a present on his dresser drawer. And somehow, it would always be the one thing that he needed the most.
When he was eight and had just entered the academy the mysterious person had given him a year’s supply of scrolls and several packs of shuriken. And when he was ten, he had been given several sets of clothes, which he sorely needed, shuriken, and a frog wallet, which he affectionately called “Gama-chan.” And then, last year, he had been given the best gift he could think of; a history. He had been giving a documentation of his lineage dating back to his great grandparents, who apparently had been one of the first people to settle in Konoha under the leadership of the Shodaime Hokage. He had never told anyone who his parents were, because, even if he had told them that he was the son of Kazama Arashi and Mitarashi Aisha, he would’ve been accused of dirtying both the names of Arashi and Aisha, for, at the time Naruto was born Aisha was married with a child of her own, Anko. But what the others didn’t know was that Aisha had been secretly having an affair with the Yondaime and was killed not by a falling piece of debris during the Kyūbi attack, but from complications while giving birth.
So in truth, it would be as if Naruto never had any parents at all. He would be a mysterious apparition that found its way to this planet by accident and was forced to live as an outcast, because everyone knew he didn’t belong.
And this year he would especially be an apparition; he knew for the past year or two that it was none other than his beloved ojii-san, Sarutobi, who had left gifts for him every Christmas morning. And still he smiled at the young boy, as, every year, he would come into his office and boast about the great gift that the anonymous person gave him. And over time, Naruto began calling this person “my guardian angel.” And still Sarutobi would smile at his excitement, despite being thought of as senile by some for his association with the “Demon Child,” despite the mounds of paperwork that built on his desk, and despite the fact he had his own family to spend the holidays with.
Naruto slowly lay down onto the floor, it was just too cold to move from his semi-warm spot in front of the radiator to his uninviting, spring ridden bed. And as he slowly lay his eyes shut, he could almost hear Sarutobi asking him what his guardian angel had gotten for Christmas this year.
He could not answer.
A persistent knocking on his apartment door woke him up. He groggily rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and reluctantly stood up and stretched to rid his muscles of the stiffness that plagued him. Irritated at being woken up, he sleepily opened the door and glared at the person who dared to wake him up.
“Neji,” greeted Naruto, not bothering to force a smile on his face or keep the annoyance out of his voice.
“Good, you’re dressed; get your shoes on and hurry up so we can get going,” Neji ordered. Naruto just stood there, giving Neji a blank, irritated stare. “Oh, and merry Christmas.”
“What in the name of God are you talking about?” Naruto asked. “First of all, these are my pajamas, and second of all, who the hell made you Hokage?”
“You wear a heavy jacket, gloves, a pair of pants, a pair of socks, and a nightcap to bed?” Neji asked as he lifted an eyebrow.
“I don’t have any heat, alright?” answered Naruto reluctantly.
“Then I take it you don’t have hot water either?” Neji asked. Naruto shook his head in the negative. “Alright then, get your clothes and follow me; if we’re quiet enough we may be able to sneak you into my shower.”
“Why the hell do you care if I have a hot shower or a cold one?” Naruto asked. He had only known Neji for around half a year and pretty much decided that they had a mutual hate-hate relationship.
“What, so I’m not allowed to be nice on Christmas?” Neji asked.
“God I swear if you’re trying to trick me Neji I’m going to kill you,” threatened Naruto as he left Neji at the door to look for some suitable winter clothes. And, like any other day, there were only two choices for him to choose besides the one he had on: ugly orange tracksuit or ugly orange track suit. It was such a hard choice for Naruto, in fact, that it took him the entirety of five seconds to choose.
“Alright, let’s go,” Neji said as he walked away from Naruto, trusting that he would follow, but he didn’t.
“Okay, what’s going on here? Is this some sort of twisted revenge for me beating your ass in the Chūnin Exams or just some joke you thought would be fun to pull on the failure to get some laughs?” demanded Naruto.
“I’m not a man who does not give his dues,” answered Neji, not allowing the hurt or anger he felt show through. “To get to my room, climb the olive tree on the side of the Branch House and then go through the window with the open curtains on the middle floor; it’s not hard to miss. I have no time today to just stand here and have my personal motives questioned by you; I have my own plans for today,” explained Neji as he continued walking away from the disgruntled boy, tracking the slightest traces of snow.
Naruto merely stood there, watching the other boy leave. He bowed his head forward slightly and clenched his fists at his sides as tears began to well up in his eyes.
Was he truly capable of being so blind? Couldn’t he see that he wanted to say yes; to say yes and maybe cry for joy? Could he see that he truly did not want to act so shamefully?
Christmas is the one day you’re supposed to be thankful for what you have and to do only good; but this was near impossible for one Uzumaki Naruto.
Because for him, all he had was his pride, and it gripped him like a parasite, slowly sucking him dry and leaving him to bleed.
Wish I Had an Angel by baldragnarok16