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Crimson Shards by DancerOfShadows

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Chapter notes: Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto...

Haha, yeah. Another fic. Shame on me. *Mutters* I really need to get back to my other fics...
I exhaled, watching the pale wraith that was my breath twist from my mouth and through the air, fading into nothingness. I felt a chill on my neck and gazed upward, taking in the snow-laden sky with blank eyes. I looked back down as I felt a small wind dance across my chest and turned, letting it play against my sore back and neck.

The temperature had only recently dropped, and Orochimaru had suggested that I stay inside more often. Despite that, or possibly because of that, I preferred staying outside. I closed my eyes, not noticing the snow gathering on my shoulders and head.

How would I have noticed it? I was already as cold as the snow. I already carried a heavy burden. The snow was nothing to these.

I let myself relax in the blizzard, enjoying the feeling of the false serenity dissolving into chaos. My hair and clothes pulled against my skin, and hardening snow and ice pounded into my back. The wind became a blade and tried to cut me, but my skin proved a shield and I felt none of the attack.

I realized my limbs were slowly becoming numb, but didn’t act upon the information. Soon, they were as blank of feeling as my mind and heart. I let out another breath, not bothering to watch as the wraith was torn apart in the wind.

I closed my eyes as to not see the passing of time. I may have stayed there for minutes, or I might have stayed there for weeks. I couldn’t have noticed the difference. I could feel no weakness such as hunger or fatigue. This was my own training in simply living and standing. I only opened my eyes when I heard a familiar shout that told me I was to come inside in order to train further.

I made my way to the dojo and met with Orochimaru. He lectured me on staying in the cold and getting frostbite, even though I believe he knows why I was there. He didn’t comment on how long I was there.

After he finished his lecture, he proceeded to train me. Even though I had my eyes open for the main duration of the training, I didn’t watch the time, as my concentration was on gaining more power.

When Orochimaru announced that the training session was over, I began to make my way outside once more. He stopped me and told me to stay inside. I didn’t receive an answer to why, despite my blunt questioning. I accepted this impassively and left to my quarters, where I lay on my bed, eyes closed.

The routine was similar every day. Wake up. Eat. Train with Kabuto. Pass time while Orochimaru isn’t at the lair. Train when Orochimaru returns. Pass more time. Eat. Train. Sleep.

I sat up, not yet weary, and looked about my room. It was simply furnished at my will. There was a bed, a stand, a small closet, and a mirror. The bed was empty of pillows and blankets, also at my will. The stand held various scrolls and multiple candles, as well as a few other books. The closet had my clothes and supplies. And the body-length mirror hung on the wall, reflecting my image.

Something in the reflected image caught my attention. I stood and walked closer to the mirror to be sure that what I saw hadn’t been a mistake or flaw in the glass. When I was closer, I realized there was no flaw.

A shiver ran up my spine, disgusting me as I felt it. Was I this weak to show emotion at what I saw? I tightened my muscles, trying to ignore the doubt that had formed within me when I saw my reflection.

I saw the face of the man I hated the most. It was shaped to fit my own face, but it so greatly resembled Itachi that I felt the urge to shatter the glass. How could this have happened? I worked to be the opposite of him. I worked to avoid being his puppet. And now I bore the same face as him?

I stared into my reflected eyes, a familiar feeling flowing from them. As I looked into the reflection of my eyes, I saw the torment Itachi had shown me. But why was I seeing this now? Why was I seeing this in my own eyes?

I wasn’t Itachi. I merely resembled him due to us being blood siblings. And that, only in appearance. I wasn’t like him at all. I hadn’t massacred a clan and tortured. I was, if anything, the opposite of him.

Or was I the same?

No…I couldn’t be the same. I didn’t massacre a clan. I didn’t murder my own family. I didn’t torture someone.

But I did intend murdering someone in my family. I intended on murdering Itachi. That would make my clan one less, and I would become the only Uchiha. Was there a point to that? I was trying to revive my clan, not destroy it further.

I didn’t torture a sibling, but I did- unconsciously- torture those in Konoha. Sakura…Naruto…Kakashi… maybe even some of the others. They worried about me, and what did I do? Left. Refused to listen to Sakura. Nearly killed Naruto. Disappointed Kakashi as only someone as close to a son could.

No! I wasn’t the same as Itachi. I couldn’t be!

The point of all these years was to become as different from Itachi as possible, excluding the power. I had to become more powerful than Itachi. I didn’t just want to- I had to.

In order to stop hating him, in order to sleep peacefully, in order to die, I had to kill Itachi. And to kill Itachi, I had to become more powerful than him. I did all that I did in order to become more powerful than him, not to become like him.

That's what I was trying to do. That's all. So why are my eyes red now? Why is everything in sharper contrast and more vivid colours? I shook my head slightly, jerking my gaze from my reflection. No. I am not like Itachi. I can't be.

I wasn't lying to myself. I couldn't be. That would mean that I'd been mendacious about everything my entire life...It would mean everything I had done up to now was pointless. I stiffened. No. No, I was nothing like Itachi. I was not lying. I was being brutally honest. I did nothing wrong on my path.

But my visage said otherwise. It was the same as Itachi's on that night. Nearly blank. Remorseless. Disgusted. And my red eyes glared back at me, mocking me that I was insane and lied. Taunting me that I was like Itachi.

My expression darkened. Now I was glaring at myself, willing the red to fade to black. But nothing changed. I was still lying. I was still obsessed. I was still Itachi's brother. Itachi's shadow...Itachi's puppet.

“NO!” I shouted, angry with my sudden weakness, and threw a fist at the mirror. Shards of tinkling glass reflected my maddened eyes, scarlet with rage, as they tumbled down. When they all were on the ground I squeezed my eyes shut, smashing the glass with my covered feet. “No, no, no, no...” I groaned.

And then I fell.

I lay on my back now, my mind not registering the shards stabbing into me, the blood flowing freely. I felt slightly dizzy, but didn't relate it to the sudden blood loss that I hadn't realized occurred.

So, why did all this come to me now? I wondered. I laughed slightly, not bothering to know that it was hysterical, as I came upon the obvious answer. I had known all along. Ever since Orochimaru first gave me the curse mark. I knew I was following Itachi. I knew, and didn't give a damn. I knew, but I lied to myself to cover that up. To pretend that what I was doing would actually be helpful. The jolt of seeing Itachi in myself just broke through the barricade of well-woven lies, that's all.

I opened my eyes, not caring what colour they were, and gazed at the ceiling in an oddly cheerful and content way. I was insane. I smiled. I was insane, and still didn't give a damn. My mind wandered. Now that my lies had been broken, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't go back to Konoha. I couldn't continue training under Orochimaru. I couldn't kill Itachi. So what was I to do?

I frowned slightly, smelling my blood, and cast my gaze beside me. Why was I bleeding? I recalled something about a mirror. Oh, yes...it was the shards of glass I was lying in. Why hadn't I noticed any pain? I sat up, ran a hand across my back, and pulled out the few shards of glass. There weren't many, but they were deep. More blood came out with each shard, but I couldn't be bothered to care. Not now.

Humming softly, I stood and found my roll of bandages, slipped off my tunic, and wrapped the bandages around my torso. That would do. Content again, I replaced the half-empty roll and pulled on my bloodied tunic. I wondered if I should clean up the glass and blood on the floor, but instead laughed again. No. There was no point. Not now.

I started toward the door, then stopped and grabbed my sword as an afterthought. I slipped it through its place in my sash, doubting that I would even bother to use it. But I smiled. It felt right there. I was supposed to be a fighter, after all. With the sword now, I exited my room, not bothering to close the door. Orochimaru or Kabuto would find the glass, blood, and missing sword eventually anyways. I made my way outside once more, smiling at the sudden drop in temperature and brightening in colour. As I wandered away, I wondered where I was heading, then realized I didn't mind. I'd go where I went. It made perfect sense. Besides, it didn't matter. I wasn't lying anymore.

Laughing slightly, I brought up in my mind why it didn't matter. I had nowhere in particular to go anyway. I had nothing that needed to be done. I was completely honest. And, of course, I was insane.
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