Hello everyone from FanFiction and beyond!
Here's a Naruto and Bleach crossover that I've been considering since my recent trip to the Crunchyroll Expo!
By the way, that anime expo was awesome! It was my first time ever going to something like that, and I had a blast! I even tagged the communal whiteboard with my penname! So awesome!
Anyway, on with the story!
I own nothing
Chapter 1: Their First Meetings
A blonde teen gazed at the rundown building that had belonged to his ancestors when they had allied with the Hidden Leaf. It carried an artifact of great power, one that was meant to be guarded for as long as time stood. It was both fortunate and unfortunate that this place had fallen so far under everyone's radar that it was unheard of for many years.
If he had to guess, maybe a handful of people knew about this location besides himself; most of those people being dead anyway. Not that death could truly stop someone. He knew that firsthand the moment he discovered this place as a boy.
"Back again, child?" a gentle voice spoke, prompting him to turn his blue eyes over to the speaker.
She was a woman of noble beauty and grace that had red hair styled into twin buns atop her head. Her eyes were pupiless and shaded a dark violet, and her kimono looked to be of the finest quality. Acting as earrings were a pair of sealing tags while the insignia of the Uzumaki Clan rested on the back and heart of her clothes.
Finishing off her look was her form being visibly transparent and a thick chain that tethered her form to that of the rundown building.
This was Mito Uzumaki, a deceased member of the Uzumaki Clan whose spirit had refused to leave the mortal plane out of an impeccable sense of duty to her people. She once held the greatest of the Bijuu within her; the Kyuubi. She was the first to act as the beast's prison while the young man before her was currently the third.
A soft smile graced the blonde's face at her question. He never understood how he was able to see those who had died, but he didn't question it. In his eyes, speaking with the dearly departed helped stave off the bitter loneliness he suffered for most of his life.
Mito being a member of his family only further pushed back those lonely thoughts.
"I just wanted to say goodbye before I left with Pervy Sage on our training trip. I don't know how long we'll be gone, so…"
Mito gave him a warm smile as he trailed off, already used to seeing him act this way around her. It saddened her just how much hatred had taken a role in her younger clansmen's life, especially when she knew that Love was the key to holding back the influence of the beast he carried; she knew this better than anyone.
"I see. Well, be sure to continue your fūinjutsu studies, dear child. I would hate for you to come back without something new to present to me; especially when you've been such a wonderful student over the years."
He rubbed the back of his head bashfully, his closed eyes missing her brows furrow briefly. "I promise," he replied.
When he opened his eyes again, he gave her a sad smile and moved in to embrace her, catching her slightly by surprise since he had never done that before. What was more surprising was how she could actually feel him, and she could tell that the experience went both ways.
"I'm gonna miss you, ttebayo…"
She chuckled softly as she returned his embrace. "Kushina-chan will throw a fit if she ever finds out you inherited her little tic."
"I'm just glad that I have another thing to remind me of her," he mused, stepping away from the hug while a hand rested on the scarf neatly wrapped over his shoulders.
Konohamaru had found it for Naruto after Tsunade had given the boy his grandfather's belongings he had left in the Hokage Office prior to his death. Along with said scarf was an envelope addressed to the blonde, which held a photo of two people; his parents.
It was such an emotional blow that he had stayed with Mito's spirit for a week before he returned to the village, no one knowing where he was due to the ignorance of the Uzumaki Mask Shrine. Mito was an emotional pillar for him, as well as a mentor who guided him through the methods of the infamous Uzumaki fūinjutsu.
Before he grew close to Tsunade – who Mito revealed to him was her granddaughter – Mito had begun to fill the void that had been placed in his heart the day he realized he had no parents.
"She did a fine job with that," Mito praised, fixing the loose knot that Naruto had tied to keep the scarf in place. "Be sure to take good care of it, Naruto."
"I will." He gave the spirit one last embrace before he headed back to the village to meet Jiraiya at the gates. "I'll be back stronger than ever, Mito-baa-chan! Count on it!"
When he was no longer in sight, she whispered aloud, "I know you will, child…"
"I suppose that you might consider this another form of bestial act," a very tall and light-skinned man asked as he held up an unconscious and bleeding woman by the front of her clothes. "Maybe it is, Neliel," he continued, "but at least it finally took care of you and your annoying ideals."
A bit away from him was a pink-haired man with amber eyes, messing with a small device in his hands. "Are you finished, Nnoitra-san? The woman is defeated, and your posturing is bordering on foolish."
The Eighth Espada of Hueco Mundo sneered at the scientific Arrancar. "I'd watch your tone, Szayelaporro, considering how you're not even being suggested for an Espada seat. Just finish setting up that damn thing and let's get this over with." His sneer was aimed at the unconscious woman once more. "I'm already sick of looking at this trash."
Szayelaporro sniffed dismissively as he finished the final touches on his device. "It's ready," he announced, gathering some of his reiatsu and pouring it into the device.
Lazily, he tossed it in front of himself and observed as a Garganta was formed; though this one didn't look even half as stable as a standard one.
"Hurry and toss her through," the scientist sniped, clipping a bracelet around Neliel's left wrist. "That should allow me to record what happens with this experimental Garganta. I must know if we're only connected to the Land of the Living and the Seireitei…"
"Don't presume to order me around," Nnoitra snarled out as he dropped Neliel carelessly onto the ground before brutally kicking her in her stomach and through the Garganta.
Right as she was passing through, a flash of pink light blinded the two Arrancar for a moment. When it cleared, they saw a young child that resembled Neliel get swallowed by the Garganta before the whole thing collapsed on itself. The moment made Nnoitra smile maliciously as he turned away and started heading back to Las Noches followed by Szayelaporro.
Unknown to them, Neliel's Fracción had crawled back to where their leader had been defeated. All they saw was a splash of blood that they knew belonged to her and some strands of her beautiful turquoise hair.
"What now, Pesche?" the larger of the two asked. "Neliel-sama is gone, don'tcha know…"
Pesche grit his teeth and clenched his fists in shame for not being able to protect their leader from harm and possible death. "Nnoitra and Szayelaporro…" he ground out, his self-shame feeding his growing rage. "We'll be back to avenge Neliel-sama's cruel defeat at your hands. I swear it!" Getting to his feet with a hiss of agony, he turned away from the sight of Neliel's blood and stated, "Let's go, Dondochakka. We need to make ourselves scarce in case one of them comes back."
The larger one gave a sad sigh at his friend's words, reaching down to gingerly grab the strands of hair before he too stood up painfully. He took a moment to weave the strands into two small rings before handing one to Pesche. The two put them on their dominant hands before they staggered away from Las Noches towards the seemingly endless desert that was Hueco Mundo.
They would use the following years to become stronger than ever before, all in the name of avenging their closest friend and leader.
"Stupid pervert," grumbled a sixteen-year-old Naruto as he looked over a sealing formula he had been designing for the past two weeks. "I told him I wasn't ready for that much of the fox's chakra…"
He was in the last quarter of the second year of his training trip, a month passed his birthday. So far, the trip itself had been very underwhelming for the blonde Uzumaki who was expecting to learn most of the tricks and skills that the Toad Sage was capable of using.
That wasn't the case.
Instead, the first year was devoted solely to mastering basics that should've been gone over by Kakashi; his official teacher since he had been assigned to Team 7. His taijutsu had been smoothed out so that he didn't fight like some common brawler, his chakra control exercises had increased in difficulty, and he had finally learned how to dispel genjutsu.
It bothered him that it took an entire year to fix those concerns when Kakashi should've noticed them much sooner. No doubt he helped Sasuke figure out his own issues while he was teaching the Uchiha that damnable Chidori. He was going to hold onto that grudge for a while, considering how he had suffered being run through by that jutsu twice during his fight with Sasuke.
The second year had Naruto practice with his Rasengan while also trying to develop one that was larger; thereby giving it more power. While he had improved greatly in his chakra control, he couldn't make the larger Rasengan without the assistance of a clone. Thankfully, though, he was finally able to use a standard Rasengan one-handed.
It was halfway through the second year that Jiraiya decided to start the real training. To Naruto's dismay, the Toad Sage felt that the best training Naruto could do was practice using the Kyuubi chakra; which he honestly hated to use.
Sure, the power boost was phenomenal; but the aftermath of the chakra was not a fair trade in his eyes. His body was left weak, and his chakra coils would practically rage with pain due to the corrosive chakra being pumped through them. Being the Jinchūriki of the chakra helped, but only by so much.
And then, around one week ago, Jiraiya had the brilliant idea of loosening the seal so that more of that twisted chakra could be accessed. The result was Naruto quickly losing control and shifting into a Four-Tailed state, going into a berserker rage that could've wrecked the town just a couple miles away from their position.
Luckily, Jiraiya had some Suppression Seals on hand; something Naruto immediately started working on as soon as he recovered from the strain of the Bijuu chakra. He had just finished making a successful one the other day, which allowed him to resume his theoretical seal.
Currently, he was seated atop the hotel building he and Jiraiya were staying at, waiting for the pervert to return from his daily session of spying on women. If there was one thing Naruto was most disappointed about concerning this trip, it was how the Toad Sage focused more on his "research" than actually training his so-called apprentice.
He sighed, feeling depressed about the lack of real value this trip had. He was hoping to show Mito how much he had grown over the years, but the time away from the Hidden Leaf was being wasted in his eyes. Everything he had done – barring the use of the Kyuubi's chakra – could've easily been done within the village walls.
"What's she going to think when I come back barely any stronger?" he mused sadly, afraid of disappointing his earliest mentor figure.
He was broken from his thoughts when he felt a strange pressure bearing down over his form. Frowning, he pocketed his notes and stood up, looking around for the source. The sound of something being forcibly stretched had him turn his gaze upward, and his eyes widened when he saw the space within the evening sky gain a crack before stretching open like a cavernous entrance.
The surprises didn't stop there, for he saw a bundle fall through the opening and start plummeting towards the ground about a mile off from the small town. Officially worried, Naruto pumped as much chakra as possible into his legs and raced off in the direction of the descending bundle. He kicked off trees as soon as he was around them, using them to propel him forward while never losing sight of the bundle.
As he drew closer, he saw long, turquoise strands flailing behind the bundle like a makeshift tail. His eyes narrowed, and he unconsciously added some of the fox's chakra to his legs as he kicked off another tree. This time, the kickoff sent him hurtling towards the bundle and he caught it before flipping to his feet and landing safely back on the ground.
Looking back up, he saw the strange spatial opening close and the sky returned to normal. He frowned at it for a few more moments before he looked down at the bundle in his arms. Carefully adjusting his grip, he pulled back the cloth and gasped softly at the sight of a small child with a terrible head wound that cracked the bone-looking mask on her head and left a nasty gash on her forehead.
To his relief, the blood had dried and wasn't flowing; which meant that she should be safe from bleeding out. However, she could still have other major issues with a wound like that. He adjusted his grip on her again so that he wouldn't jostle her too much, and then rushed off back to the town.
With luck, he'd be able to find a healer for the injured child.
"She just…fell through some rip in the sky?" the nurse repeated as she looked over the unconscious child. To make the procedure easier, she had cut the child's hair short so that its length wouldn't get in the way.
"Yeah. I was just on a hotel roof when I felt this odd energy spike and then I saw a rip form in the sky," Naruto explained once more. "Is she going to be alright?"
The nurse hummed in concern as she cleaned up the blood and closed off the wound on the girl's head. What was odd to her was that the child's mask wouldn't come off; almost as if it were attached to the girl.
"She hasn't lost too much blood, and I'm having some tested so we can replenish whatever she has lost. This head wound, though, is particularly concerning."
"Was it deep?" Naruto asked with a cringe.
"It was deep enough for me to note that this girl could suffer some serious mental damage; the most likely case being lost memories. What's also concerning is how this mask," she gestured to the cartoonish looking piece, "is attached to her. I can't remove it unless I would wish to hurt her more; and I wouldn't."
"You think it could be linked to some undiscovered bloodline?"
"Possibly. We can test her blood against other bloodlines that we have on file. Thankfully the medical centers in the Land of Fire stay up to date with one another," the nurse noted with a faint smile.
"So…what happens now?"
"Now? We let her rest and have her on fluids. If you wish, you could stay with her until she wakes… That is, assuming she will wake up. As I said, her head wound was very concerning."
Nodding in understanding, Naruto formed a clone to inform Jiraiya of his whereabouts before he grabbed a chair and took a seat next to the girl's bed. He looked to her unconscious face and frowned sadly at something like this happening to a child.
"Hang in there," he whispered, gently grasping her smaller hand. "You'll pull through…"
Her head was swimming with muddled voices and blurry images that she couldn't connect. Her eyes clenched a few times before cracking open, revealing wide hazel orbs to the world. They blinked to regain their focus before she frowned in confusion.
"W…Where is Nel…?" she asked hoarsely before coughing.
The coughing stirred Naruto from his sleep and he blinked in surprise at seeing the little girl awake after only a few hours. He pushed down his surprise in favor of grabbing a paper cup and filling it with water for the girl.
Moving over to her, he used one hand to gently pat her back while the other offered her the cup. "Here, drink this."
She didn't notice who handed her the cup. All she knew was that there was water in it and that she was very thirsty. Taking it, she took a greedy drink to rinse her throat before coughing again; this time from drinking too fast.
"Easy now," Naruto gently urged, taking the cup to refill it. When he returned to her side, he helped her take sips of the water so that she wouldn't choke again. After the cup was emptied again, he set it aside and asked, "Are you alright?"
Breathing better, the girl turned to the blonde and met his blue eyes with her hazel ones. With a bright smile, she answered, "Yes. Nel is fine. Nel was just really thirsty."
'Huh… At least she hasn't forgotten her name,' he mused internally.
He noticed Nel look around in confusion before asking, "Where is Nel, anyway?"
"You're in a medical ward. You had a really big cut on your head and you fell from the sky."
"R-Really?!" Nel asked in surprise. "But, Nel doesn't remember getting hurt or falling at all!"
He gently placed a hand on one of her shoulders to keep her in place. "Easy. You don't want to accidentally reopen your cut. Trust me; that hurts."
She looked to him and saw that he was smiling down at her. This helped her slowly relax, though her anxiety was still there. "Do you know what happened to Nel?"
He shook his head sadly. "No, I don't. I caught you before you hit the ground and brought you here, but I didn't see anything that hurt you."
"Your bracelet is next to you, by the way."
She blinked before looked to the small stand, spotting the white bracelet in question. Her brows furrowed faintly, and she replied, "Nel…doesn't remember seeing that before."
"You were wearing it when I caught you," Naruto explained.
She frowned at nothing before looking to him. "Nel doesn't know what that bracelet it. Nel has never seen it before."
The sureness in her voice made Naruto nod at her in response. "Okay then. I'll just toss it for you, alright?"
At her nod, he grabbed the item and moved over to the waste bin. Just as he was about to toss it, he felt it twitch in his grip and a blurry image flashed in his mind. He couldn't clearly make out what it was, save for it being a silhouette of something or someone.
Blinking back into focus, he looked to the bracelet resting on his palm with a frown. Something told him that the bracelet was more than it seemed; something darker. His frown deepened before he used chakra to grip and crush the bracelet, dropping the broken pieces into the trash bin.
Turning to Nel, he made sure to give her a smile as he declared, "There we go. In the trash."
She smiled back as he sat beside her once again. "So…who are you?"
"I'm Naruto Uzumaki of the Hidden Leaf."
"Ruto?" she asked, shortening his name.
He chuckled at that and simply nodded. "You can call me that if you want, Nel-chan."
Her smile returned just as the nurse came in, and Naruto fought a snicker at how shocked she looked at the girl being awake and alert. With any luck, he'd be able to get her out of the medical ward by morning.
Szayelaporro frowned when he noticed that the tracer he had placed on Neliel vanished from the screen had kept on for the past century. "I was wondering how long this would last," he mused as he started to work with the screen and study the results of the tracer.
From what he could read from the data, the experimental Garganta he had Nnoitra kick Neliel into had a greater exposure to spacetime displacement. This meant that time acted differently inside of it compared to the outside worlds. What that also meant was that Neliel could be in a world where only a minimal amount of time had passed compared to the century Hueco Mundo just went through.
Making sure to gather everything he could on his findings, the current Eighth Espada left his personal area of Las Noches in search of Aizen. The man would no doubt be very interested in what had happened.
"What makes you think I'll let you drag a kid along with us during this trip?" Jiraiya asked Naruto after he returned to the hotel room with Nel.
The little girl was wearing the green covering she had been found in, but it was reformed into a gown with a hood that covered her entire body; save for her bare feet. She was currently standing beside the blonde while holding onto his left hand with her right, her hazel eyes looking around the hotel room and the tall man in front of her and Ruto.
"I couldn't just leave her there, Pervy Sage," Naruto argued. "Besides, I was the one who found her; so, I'm choosing to be responsible for her."
"You really think you can handle that kind of responsibility?" the man challenged.
"Probably better than you," Naruto fired back with a slight frown. "Anyway, I'm not going to back down on this. If you really are so against me bringing Nel along, then I'll take her back to the Hidden Leaf by myself."
The Toad Sage groaned as he palmed his forehead. "By the Sage, kid… You're really going to give me some early wrinkles. And the ladies hate wrinkles!"
Rolling his eyes, Naruto took that complaint as him winning the argument and walked with Nel over to his bed. "You should probably get some more sleep, Nel-chan. I'll grab you something to eat for when you wake up."
"But Nel isn't tired," she replied with a pout before she failed to stifle a yawn.
Naruto chuckled at her embarrassed blush. "I think you are. Just lie down and get some sleep, okay? I'll be here when you wake up."
"You promise?" he heard her ask tiredly, already starting to succumb to sleep.
He gave her another smile, this one truer than any he had showed his fellow ninja back home. "Yeah, I promise…" He waited for her to fully fall asleep before he gently patted the cracked part of her mask. "Sleep tight, Nel-chan."
Jiraiya silently watched the exchange and was surprised at how calmly Naruto had handled it. He also noted how Naruto seemed less tense and more relaxed around the green-covered brat. Humming softly in thought, he watched Naruto grab his toad wallet and create a clone before leaving the hotel room. The clone then decided to lie on the bed beside Nel, and she almost immediately turned towards him; more than likely for his natural warmth.
The Toad Sage couldn't fight the small smile the formed. If he didn't know any better, he probably would've assumed that the two were siblings, if not a father and child. Deciding to let it be, he left the hotel room to write a letter.
No doubt Tsunade would want to hear about this.
When the real Naruto returned, he noted that Nel was still sleeping while his clone was also snoozing. Rolling his eyes in amusement, he put away the food he bought before he swapped places with and dispelled his clone. He smiled at Nel snuggling against him and patted her mask again, this time letting his hand rest on the crack.
To his surprise, he felt his hand stick to the mask while a strangely fluid energy flowed from his chest and down his arm, leaking out from his hand and into the crack in Nel's mask. The eye holes of the mask then flashed a brilliant pink before the room was engulfed in pink smoke.
When it cleared, Naruto was left in speechless awe at the sight of a full-grown woman who looked so much like the little girl he saved. "N-Nel…?" he asked tentatively.
The green gown had stretched and ripped, thankfully in a manner that covered her modesty while her once short hair regained its original length and fullness. Her mask had also changed to a more goat-like appearance that greatly contrasted its once cartoonish look. She still had a scar and the crack in the mask, but a sheathed sword was now seen in her left hand while her right rested against her head.
Noticing that she was about to fall from the bed, Naruto quickly grabbed her shoulder to steady her. This got her attention and she opened her eyes to meet his own, allowing him to see familiar hazel eyes.
"Nel…is that you?"
She regarded him silently for a few moments, searching with her eyes and looking over his form. "You're…the human that saved me…" she murmured. "Naruto…Uzumaki, right?"
He couldn't help but give an awkward chuckle. "You were calling me Ruto earlier; but yeah, I'm Naruto."
She took a moment to look around the room before a flash of realization appeared in her eyes. "I was…ambushed. Baited into a fight by Nnoitra after he…" Her eyes widened in shock before turning back to Naruto. "Was there anyone else with me? Two other Hollows like myself, but with their masks torn off?!"
She was in a panicked state, he could obviously see it. "I…didn't see anyone else come out of that rip in the sky, Nel… Just you…" He saw her lean back, looking both horrified and devastated. "I… I'm sorry…"
"Pesche… Dondochakka…" she whimpered as tears started to form in her eyes, memories of her defeat mixing in with the good times she had with her Fracción. "They were hurt…and I couldn't save them… I… I couldn't…"
Hearing enough, Naruto grabbed her shoulder once again and pulled her into a comforting embrace. At first, she tensed and broke away, but he regripped both of her shoulders and had her look him in the eyes. Her teary gaze met his understanding one, and she stopped resisting before leaning into him and letting out a distraught wail of grief. As she wept, Naruto held her close to him, acting as her emotional pillar like Mito had done for most of his life.
"I'm so sorry…" he kept repeating in a whisper, hoping to comfort her more than he was currently able to.
He didn't know how long he held her, but she was the first to move away; gently pushing back from him as she wiped the lingering tears.
"…thank you…" she whispered softly, almost unheard by him.
"Anytime…" he replied, sitting across from her on the hotel bed. "So…you are Nel, right?"
"I suppose that's what my younger self was going by," she mused, grateful for Naruto's presence and his aid given to her childlike form. "My real name is Neliel Tu Oderschvank, and I am… I mean I was the Third Espada of Hueco Mundo."
"Hueco Mundo?" Naruto repeated.
"It's also known as the Hollow World. It's where Hollows, like myself, reside. I'm a higher class of Hollow, since I'm much more humanlike in appearance save for my mask."
"…Is this something to do with spirits?" Naruto asked.
She nodded, slightly impressed with his deduction. "Yes. But how did you…?" She stopped before her senses picked up the faint feeling of reiatsu coming from his abdomen area. "You're spiritually aware," she concluded. "Interesting."
"Yeah, I've been able to see and talk to spirits for as long as I could remember. But, no one else has been able to from what I've noticed; even when a spirit is right next to them." He then realized something and asked, "Wait… If you're a spirit, how come Pervy Sage and that nurse were able to see you?"
She frowned at the question, thinking over what had happened after her defeat. "…After I was ambushed and beaten, I was sent through an experimental Garganta created by Szayelaporro Granz. My guess is that, since I reverted into a child form beforehand, the Garganta had an effect on my spiritual composition and made me closer to a human."
"…I'm a bit lost," Naruto admitted.
She smiled at his confession, once again thankful for his presence. It was helping her cope with everything that happened. "To keep it simple, I'm in a physical form that can interact with everyone; whether they can see spiritual beings or not."
"Oh, that's easier to understand," he replied, bringing a fist into his palm.
Her smile remained before she felt a small spike of pain from her mask. "…It looks like I'm limited on time before I revert back into my younger state. My reiatsu is still too unstable to hold my true form for too long." She looked him in the eye and continued, "I can see a great deal of compassion and understanding in you, Naruto Uzumaki. Please, take care of my younger self and keep trying to repair the crack in my mask. You have reiatsu, which is spiritual energy. You must learn how to call upon it to fix my mask."
Her head lowered as her hands clenched the covers of the hotel bed. They trembled slightly before she took a breath to calm her raging emotions.
Looking back to him, she finished, "I hope to speak with you again soon. I find myself…enjoying your company."
He looked surprised at her statement before he smiled brightly at her. "No worries, Neliel. I promise to do everything I can to help you; no matter what form you're in. And Naruto Uzumaki never backs down from a promise."
Neliel found herself impressed once more by the human before her. He had heart, and that heart was a driving force in his life; something she could both appreciate and admire. Just as the eyeholes of her mask flashed once more, Neliel gave him one last smile before another burst of pink smoke filled the room. Once it cleared, Nel was seen resting on the bed once again; her mask once more cartoonish looking, her hair once again short, and her sword missing.
"Huh… Must be related to her true form," Naruto mused before he helped Nel get more comfortable in the bed. Looking down at her sleeping form, his eyes burned in growing determination as he whispered, "Reiatsu… Spiritual energy… I have some serious training to do if I'm going to help you, Nel-chan…" He then smiled, closing his eyes and shaking his head with a chuckle. "I always wind up in crazy situations, don't I?"
Looking down, he gently grabbed his scarf and imagined the faces of his parents, Mito, and then Neliel.
"I've got a lot of promises to keep… No point in stopping now. I'll keep them all and make you guys proud," he declared softly.
With his mind made up, he gathered his notebook on fūinjutsu and opened it up to a blank page. He had some more seals to draw out.
Got this chapter finished! How's it look? Does everything add up, or does something not make sense?
I've been wanting to do a Naruto/Neliel story for a while now; especially since there aren't many of them on the site. I'm telling ya, THAT was a real surprise to me.
So, I'm hoping that this story will help spearhead some more of this pairing! Also, keep in mind, this will be a single pairing story. Sorry in advance to anyone who wanted me to add anyone else.
Now, in this story, Naruto is spiritually aware like Ichigo was at the start of Bleach. The reason for this is simple; the Shinigami (the one from the Naruto series) had a hand in sealing Kurama. Naruto has been "touched by death" in a way, giving him access to and some understanding of the spiritual side of the world.
He will also be more emotionally developed than his canon self, mostly due to him interacting with Mito's spirit for so long. As for Mito, she is a tethered spirit (like that one Plus that was chained to the hospital in Bleach). She's safe from becoming a Hollow…for now.
Until next time!