AN: Okay, so I've got a new story out. Now, while part of the reason for this is because I was running out of steam for my other fics, there's more to it than that. With this story, I'm going to slowly branch off and away from the Harry Potter centric stories I'm writing. I know Naruto isn't exactly a major jump, but it's something, and the next story I write might be of another series completely. However, there's going to be a lot of Natsume Yuujinchou in here too, though no Takashi or Reiko, as that is one of my all time favourite series, alongside Tasogare Otome X Amnesia. Madara the youkai will turn up, but unlike Natsume Yuujinchou, he won't be Naruto's main point of contact with the youkai world. Whereas Natsume had the cat Madara, I'm thinking of having Benio as a butterfly be Naruto's more constant companion.
Beta'd by: The trolling SnarkLord
Chapter 1 – First Encounters
When the Kyuubi was released upon Konoha, it was sealed. That much is true, it is a fact. However, like with all stories, there is more to it than that, much more. What no one in Konoha asks, neither those who knew about the previous host nor those who didn't, was why it attacked their village.
Of course, that is but one of many questions that could, and should, have been asked but weren't. Still, those questions will be addressed in time, just not yet. Right now, our tale starts with the sealing of the mega fox of doom into the blonde baby of inevitable heroism.
Actually, that's not entirely true. After all, the entire Kyuubi was not sealed inside of the baby, only half of it. The Yondaime Hokage had the 'brilliant' idea to do something that had never been done before, and ripped the fox's soul into pieces, half of it being sealed inside of the child, and the other half being sealed within himself, before the Shinigami dragged his soul off to be its plaything for all eternity.
Now, what is important here is that the half of the Kyuubi that was sealed into newborn Naruto was the Yang half of the fox, yang being the physical part of chakra, with yin being its spiritual counterpart. The problem is, nature abhors imbalance. Predators and prey rely on each other, their numbers increasing and decreasing together, and power vacuums don't last for long.
The Kyuubi's massive reserves of yang chakra, added to Naruto's own, absolutely dwarfed his yin chakra, like a planet dwarfs an ant. To 'balance' this out, Naruto's own yin chakra was forced to grow, to develop, simply to try and match this massive amount of power.
However, this development was not natural, and what is not natural does not always end well for those involved. In this case, the massive amount of spiritual power growing inside Naruto's infantile body forced a mutation. It wasn't a visible mutation, and neither was it a chakra mutation or bloodline. Instead, it forced upon something that was both gift, and curse…
Naruto was an outcast, an outsider, even amongst the other orphans in the orphanage.
This was not because of his status as a jinchuuriki, or at least not solely because of that. After all, the Sandaime Hokage had forbidden anyone from speaking of that, not that it actually was a secret to anyone more than a decade older than Naruto. No, Naruto was strange because of his 'lies'.
He would shout and yell at things that weren't there, scream about monsters that no one else could see, and talked about people that simply weren't there. His tales ranged from the simple, such as shadows giving him an evil smile, to the complex, like the time he claimed that one of the civilians he saw was being stalked by a monster.
When said civilian vanished two days later, Naruto was questioned. However, when the blonde boy couldn't describe the 'monster' beyond it being 'an armless shadow with a mouth full of sharp teeth', it was dismissed as a coincidence, and mostly forgotten about.
Still, Naruto was known as a crazy demon child that caused bad luck because of everything that happened around him. This isolated him from the other orphans, and while the matrons of the orphanage tried to treat him just like all the others, the strain clearly showed.
Naruto actually got his own room at the orphanage, but that was because none of the other orphans were brave enough to share it with him, and the 'room' was barely bigger than a cupboard in any case. All it contained was a bed with a box slid underneath that contained all of the blonde's clothes, the only things he owned himself.
This didn't upset Naruto at all, as he only really slept in that room, nothing else. The rest of the time he spent outside, and given his reputation, as far away from other people as he could get. That led to Naruto spending the majority of his time in the trees and clearings that were still inside of the village limits.
Children, both civilian and shinobi, played here, but they never went very deep into the forests, not like Naruto did. The adults didn't venture there either, the civilians too busy with their own lives, and the shinobi had their training grounds to use.
It was while a five year old Naruto was wandering between the trees that an event that would change the course of history would occur, not that anything was particularly special about the atmosphere or anything. It was a relatively normal day, not too bright and sunny, and yet not raining either. It was not, in fact, a Tuesday either, but a Sunday, though neither day is particularly significant. There was a light breeze, and it was early summer.
There was a woman sat in a tree. One of her legs was laid along the tree branch she was on, while the other dangled off the side. She had short, dark brown hair, and brown eyes. She wore a pink yukata, that had a purple flower design on it, held closed by a dark purple obi. What really caught Naruto's attention, however, was a butterfly ornament that covered half of her face.
"Pretty." He mumbled under his breath, though it was quite audible.
"Hah!" The woman cried. "A human praising nature, at least one of them has some good taste."
Naruto's eyes widened in shock at hearing her say 'human'. That meant… well, it meant she probably wasn't one, and even if she didn't look half as monstrous as other 'things' Naruto had seen, they were all bad news in his books.
Naruto's shock had not gone unnoticed though, and the woman sat up before hopping off the branch, taking note of how the blonde's eyes clearly followed her. Huh, this was intriguing, a human that could see her. She had thought the last of them had died out centuries ago, though she had heard rumours about a priestess girl up in demon country who could still see.
Slowly wandering towards the boy, she could clearly see how tense he was, and a smirk crawled across her face. It was clear the boy was on the verge of running away from her, but he seemed frozen into inaction. Well, that wouldn't do. Lord Riou may like humans, and out of respect for him she'd refrain from eating this one, but she wasn't above mischief and tricks.
Leaning down in front of the boy, who was positively tiny, she allowed her smile to get even wider, wider than a human's smile would have ever stretched, and gave him a predatory look that clearly sang to his baser instincts, if the growing fear in his eyes was anything to go by.
She breathed in deeply, before speaking. "Oh, a little morsel chooses to so easily wander my way." She licked her lips. "It's been a while since I ate a human, perhaps you could sate my appetite, little one."
That was it, Naruto snapped.
He turned and fled right back towards Konoha and relative safety. There was a small shrine near the edge of the forest that civilians sometimes prayed to, and he had noticed that the monsters rarely went near them. That made them safe places in his book, and he couldn't get there fast enough.
Naruto didn't notice a butterfly following him every step of the way.
Later that night, deep in one of the forests of Konoha, a party was going on. This wasn't a party for humans though, no, this was a party for youkai. Spirits and beings of many different forms were cheering, singing, dancing, chatting, drinking, and enjoying themselves throughout the night.
Several youkai were telling stories, though the material varied from youkai to youkai. Some spoke of fights between different individuals, of strength, power, and domination. Others spoke of things they had seen, the wonders of nature, and the strange things the humans did. Yet more youkai reminisced about times long since past, about memories that remained, and opportunities long since lost.
The 'butterfly woman', who was named Benio, however, had a much different tale to tell, one more recent than any other. She spoke not of youkai, nor of the past, and not of nature. No, she spoke of a young child she had encountered that day, and the scare she had given him. She spoke of how clear-sighted the boy was, as she had followed him for the rest of the day, and while she had remained unnoticed as a butterfly, there was not one other youkai that escaped his notice.
"Ah, so there is still one left who can see." Tsuyukami, a white masked youkai said. "I actually think I know the one you speak of. He often comes to my shrine and curls up underneath it, to escape the others I guess. Interesting, I wonder if he would hear me were I to speak to him."
"Heh, a human with the sight." Another youkai huffed. "How… strange. I thought the only ones left with even the potential for that were off in the far East, in 'demon' country." She puffed on her kiseru pipe. "I don't see how someone anywhere near here could ever possess such a thing."
"Anything is possible, Hinoe." Another youkai said. "I find myself intrigued by this human as well, though I am rather disappointed by how Benio chose to approach him. Scaring him like that was rather childish and petty of her."
"Hey!" Benio exclaimed. "I didn't eat him, isn't good enough for you, you soft-hearted idiot!"
Hinoe waved her pipe in Benio's face, causing her to cough and splutter, though she shut up.
"You should know by now, Benio, what to expect from our resident optimist. Without Sui around to ground him, I'm sure that he'd be amongst the clouds by now, his head's filled with that much hot air." Hinoe chuckled.
"Sui is the adventurous one of us two." Gen pouted. "I'm happy in my statue, but if we had the opportunity, and Sui wanted to, I'd explore the whole world with her."
"We know, you hopeless romantic." Benio snarked at him.
Gen proceeded to huddle under a tree, a storm cloud over his head, for the next ten minutes, until Sui came along and cheered him up.
Tsuyukami just chuckled at the display, before reaching for some more sake. "Ah, Gen, always the emotional one."
"Always the crybaby, you mean." Benio snorted. "When he's not fawning over Sui, he's finding something else to be depressed about."
"I suppose." Tsuyukami shrugged. "Never mind him now though, Sui will look after him. I'm still rather interested in our local sighted human. Was there anything else odd about him that you noticed before you scared him off?"
"Nothing much." Benio shrugged. "He was a tiny little thing, a baby even by human standards. He was blonde with blue eyes, wore a black shirt with a symbol on it, and a pair of white shorts. He had some marks on his face… and he absolutely reeked of raw power."
"Power?" Hinoe asked, interested. "What sort of power?"
"Nothing old." Benio replied. "It was all of his own, and it was immense. It's wild though, untrained, but what do you expect from humans, especially when there's nobody to train him in it?"
"The humans have their chakra though, don't they?" Tsuyukami mused. "At least, I remember… who was it, Hagaromo? Yes, I believe he had some sort of power he called chakra, didn't he?"
"The boy had chakra, yes." Benio admitted. "But it was the spiritual power I sensed, something that exceeded even lords Riou, Misuzu, and Rokka combined."
"Really now?" Hinoe mused. "Now you're really making me curious. Perhaps I'll take a look in on this child myself."
"Do whatever you want, I'm going for more sake." Benio replied, picking up her now empty sake saucer.
Hinoe glanced towards Tsuyukami. "Tomorrow, would you mind showing me where, from your shrine, the kid usually comes from?"
"Will do." The masked youkai agreed. "I think he lives near my shrine, he hides there often enough."
Hinoe thanked him, before heading out to enjoy the party some more, but a small part of her mind was curiously turning over the thought of this child in her mind.
When Naruto returned to the orphanage, after hiding out at a shrine for a few hours, he immediately went to 'his' room. That monster today had been far scarier than all of the others, if only because she'd looked completely human, not even having an extendible neck or anything. If he couldn't tell the difference between people and monsters, then he didn't know what he'd do!
He slept fitfully that night, and awoke the next morning with shadows under his eyes.
As he left the orphanage after breakfast and headed to the nearest shrine, he passed the library. Naruto lamented the fact that he currently couldn't read anything more complex than his own name, because he was sure he'd find something in there about what these things he was seeing could be. Even if they were myths and legends, it would be something.
Stopping at a shrine, Naruto was surprised to find two people he didn't recognise there.
One of them was a man who wore a white mask with a moustache painted on, a red cap, and traditional clothing. The other was a beautiful woman with blue hair who wore a traditional kimono in vivid colours that had a pattern of flower petals on it, and she held a pipe in one hand that she was smoking.
"Hmm, is this the one?" The woman asked, to which the man nodded.
"I think so, and he can clearly see us both." The man replied.
Once again, this caused Naruto to freeze. Why would they talk like they usually couldn't be seen? The only logical answer would be because it's true, and there was only one group of 'beings' that Naruto could think of that he could see and others couldn't.
These two were obviously monsters as well!
Before he could flee though, Naruto felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder, keeping him in place. Turning slowly, he found the woman with the pipe was holding him in place, seemingly far more relaxed than Naruto was right now, and he felt himself beginning to hyperventilate.
"Calm down, kid." The masked man said. "Benio might have scared you the other night, but Hinoe and I are just a bit curious about you." He comforted the obviously frightened Naruto. "There's not many people that can see us at all, much less as clearly as you seem able to, almost like you're on of us."
"O-one of you?" Naruto masked hesitantly.
"We're yokai, kid." The woman, Hinoe, told him. "You know, spirits, ghosts, phantoms, etcetera. Most people can't see us, in fact we'd thought there was no one left who had that ability, but then you turn up. We got curious about you, so… do you feel like telling us about yourself?"
"You want to know about me?" Naruto asked cautiously.
"Yeah, we do." Tsuyukami said. "I've seen you hiding under my shrine before, but I didn't realise you could see us."
"Umm, okay then." Naruto mumbled. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki, and I'm five years old. My birthday is October tenth, and I can see monst- youkai." He stumbled over the word. "Umm, I live in the orphanage, and… I like to go on walks and play in the trees? The other kids think I'm freaky and weird, so they don't play with me, and the adults seem scared of me for some reason."
"My name is Tsuyukami." The masked youkai introduced himself. "I don't know how old I am though, not many youkai do as we don't keep track of time. I would say that I'm probably centuries old at least, maybe even more than a thousand. I live around here, where my shrine is, and I like watching the weather change. I often go out to gatherings of other youkai to have some fun too."
Tsuyukami and Naruto both looked at Hinoe, who had a small smile on her face. She huffed slightly before introducing herself the same way.
"I am Hinoe." She said. "I'm not sure how old I am either, and I live deeper into the forest. Like Tsuyukami, I go to the gatherings to drink and be merry. I do have quite the collection of scrolls that I read through occasionally, and I enjoy smoking too."
"Ah, it's nice to meet you two." Naruto, knowing his manners, tried to be as polite as possible to the two mons- youkai. They wouldn't think him crazy for being able to see them… and it wasn't like they were trying to scare him or attack him either. In fact, they were being downright friendly. Tsuyukami seemed generally jovial and Hinoe seemed more curious than anything.
"So, Naruto, what is it you normally do during the day?" Tsuyukami asked.
"Umm, well, I go to school during the week. When I turn eight, I might change to the ninja academy though." Naruto said. "After school, I stay outside until it's time to go back to the orphanage and sleep. I always end up running away from youkai though, so I hide at shrines. Youkai don't seem to like them too much."
"That's because people pray at shrines." Tsyukami explained. "Unless you're a youkai that's 'in tune' with such things, the minor holy power a used shrine gives off is uncomfortable, and in some cases painful for us. Stronger youkai like Hinoe here can ignore that however."
"Naruto, you said you go to school?" Hinoe asked. "What time does it start?"
Naruto paused, before his eyes widened in surprise. Realising he'd stayed at the shrine too long, he turned and began running towards his school. Before he disappeared though, he shouted a farewell over his shoulder.
As the blonde boy disappeared around a corner, Hinoe's lips quirked up into an amused smile.
"What an interesting little child." She mused.
Tsuyukami nodded in agreement. "I think the near future will become quite interesting with him nearby."
"Of course." Hinoe agreed. "With a sighted child around, it will draw more youkai to the area, curious ones."
"And those that will eat him because of the power he contains." Tsuyukami added.
"That too." Hinoe conceded. "Though if Lord Riou found out about him, he'd have some protection at least."
"Should we tell him?" Tsuykami wondered aloud.
"No." Hinoe replied. "I think we should introduce them."