Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters are the properties of Masashi Kishimoto. No profit is made off of this fan-fiction story. Any additional original characters located in this story are designated at such and belong to the author, Jae (Dirtyangel).

A/N: Honestly, this was a total fluke. I've never updated so soon before (probably because of the length of this chapter). Consider this a kind of intermission!

Thanks again to everyone who reads, follows, and/or reviews. No matter how many hits this story garners, it never gets old seeing how much you guys enjoy it. Happy reading!

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X.

An Honorable Thing

A melody of hushed voices was ever present here. It was a whispering symphony of slow crescendos and sudden dips in tempo. The sound tempted Kurama to sing to it, but the creature hadn't sung in many centuries.

From the darkness, a single voice strayed from the rest, imploring the Kyuubi to serenade it. It cooed and pleaded in an obscenely seductive way, but the fox ignored it. Kurama was all too familiar with this voice.

For the past several years, the same whisper spoke out of the many—sometimes taunting Kurama and other times trying to bargain with it. On occasion it would amuse the fox with a request to be told a story; and sometimes Kurama did, simply to pass the time. But at the moment, Kurama was busy and did not care to grant the voice its attention.

Realizing it would get no reply, the voice faded back into the stream of whispers—an air of annoyance hanging in its wake. Kurama waved its tails languidly in the darkness, displaying how much it didn't care about the voice's displeasure.

It had more important things to do, like keeping that fool Naruto from doing something stupid—again.

Abruptly, the pitch of the whispers changed, shifting from a steady tone to a quivering screech. It caused Kurama to perk its head up and looked out into the nothingness.

Naruto was distressed. The sensation that came with this knowledge was sharp with sadness and reeked of shame. It vibrated anxiously and twisted into continual knots.

Kurama huff a heavy stream of air through its nostrils and stared flatly. This had become a scheduled event with Naruto ever since he'd returned to that damned village. Someone or something would evoke a sense of nostalgia in the brat, and then the guilt would come. It was bothersome.

No. I don't.

Those words wove themselves into the trembling mood around the fox.

Of course. It was the Uchiha brat that caused all this ruckus; it was always him.

"Well, at least you're concerned enough to be annoyed," came another voice; one that was unfamiliar to Kurama.

It turned its gaze downward to see a man-sized figure manifest out of the darkness in front of it. One look at who it was and the Kyuubi's lips curled back into a sneer. The apparition was Namikaze Minato; the man who had caged it in Naruto, and who'd kept it here when it had the chance to escape.

"You!" Kurama's great voice boomed throughout the emptiness. "You have the audacity to speak to me after what you and that woman have done?"

Minato looked up at it, unaffected by its outrage. A faint glow clung to his form; the bright hue of his Hokage robe seemed to amplify this effect.

He smiled thoughtfully before answering: "Yes, I do."

Offended, Kurama swiped one of its giant claws at him, but Minato's body faded into a flash and reappeared to the other side of it. Again Kurama swatted at him, and again, Minato evaded. The fox growled in frustration.

"Why are you here?" it demanded. "You should have faded once you kept the seal intact."

Determining that Kurama wouldn't lash out again, Minato stepped forward.

"You're right, I should have," he agreed, "but you're keeping me here—just like you're keeping the rest of Naruto's memories."

The fox growled again.

"You and your kin seem to share the same knack for annoying me, mortal. I won't forgive you for not letting him remove that retched seal."

Minato frowned, placing a hand on his hip.

"That's perfectly fine with me. I would never have let you trick him like that, and then leave him to die."

"Ha!" Kurama barked, "No, you just would have rather us both die."

With an unnatural speed, it dipped its head to be leveled centimeters away from the man's body. Its heated breath flung the edges of Minato's hair and robe back with its force. Despite this fearsome display, Minato didn't falter; though, he remained silent.

Kurama smiled in a wicked manner.

"It was a very selfish and human thing of you to do," it spat.

A crease formed in the center of Minato's brow as his lips pressed into a thin line. His crisp blue eyes stared resolutely into Kurama's unearthly ones.

"But it forced you to save the both of you, and you didn't come out quite as bad in the end. Not all of you is sealed away in that cage."

The fox narrowed its eyes. It lifted its head so that it could tower over Minato again.

"Tch, whatever. Don't act like you're so smart," its tails flopped impatiently. "What part of me that isn't there, is tied up here, fulfilling a bargain."

At this, Minato smiled.

"Yes, and you've been doing so very admirably," he said.

"You know, you're not as consumed by hatred as you claim. I'd go as far as saying you're quite honorable."

Kurama scoffed at him, annoyed. "Are you trying to sound cool or something?"

Minato chuckled softly and smiled wider.

"Not really," he said. Then he spoke again:

"Regardless, thank you for keeping me here until he remembers."

Kurama watched him turn away and fade back into the blackness.

—.o. —

It decided to change the landscape; Kurama had become adept at navigating Naruto's mind, especially the parts it kept shuttered from him.

Minato's visit had pissed it off. How dare that conniving asshole try to act grateful toward it? He was the reason why Kurama was a shadow of its former self: he'd stolen half of what Kurama was. These mortal were disgustingly infuriating and uncouth. Their species as a whole could never sum up to how exalted its beloved master, Hagoromo, was.

Angry sobs interrupted Kurama's private tirade. It turned its human form's head to see a small blond boy crying by a tree a few meters to the right—here Naruto's mental-scape took shape as a dimly lit wood.

'I hate them! I hate them all!' the child proclaimed, pounding angrily at the tree's trunk.

Kurama felt inclined to agree with the boy's tearful ranting. These humans did nothing but cause harm wherever they went.

It continued its trek through the wood. Many more specters of Naruto's memories appeared and disappeared around Kurama.

One stumbled into the fox's path, dragging a disheveled man with him. He punched the man viciously and swore at him, demanding not to be messed with. This seventeen year-old version of Naruto paused and glanced over at Kurama. Enigmatically, he smirked at it. Annoyed by the obstruction, Kurama glared at him, opting to sidestep the bloody brawl the teen had initiated.

Most of the scenes that wove in and out of the cluster of trees were of this nature. They portrayed an angry and aggressive side of Naruto that he was no longer aware of, because Kurama kept it that way—that had been their bargain. But regrettably, not all of these scenarios were of anger. A few depicted a despondence so depressing it made Kurama's stomach churn. Those were the memories it preferred to stay clear of as much as possible.

It traveled further.

In this metaphysical space, there was no true semblance of time and no discernable change in lighting. Only a persistent twilight aura hung over the trees, no matter how long Kurama walked. It was within with this ambiguous amount of moments that the fox was forced to stop again. It peered down at another manifestation of Naruto's teenager self; this one wore his old orange and black tracksuit. The young man was crying woefully. He was on his knees, curled tightly into a ball, with his hand covering his face.

As if sensing Kurama's presence, he looked up; tears streaming down his face.

'Why?' he asked, 'Why are things like this? Why am I like this?'

The Kyuubi grimaced, uncomfortable. Naruto reached out, grabbing onto the bottom edge of the cloak it wore. It tried to step back but the teen held on desperately; he buried his face into the flame design at the rope's rim and continued sobbing.

At a loss, Kurama stood there stiffly. It could not bring itself to shove the young man off and continue on its way. It watched Naruto cry until the apparition faded away. The fox was grateful.

To avoid another encounter like the one that passed, it chose to veer off onto another trail.

When it had gone a number of paces, it halted.

Ahead, two more figures had appeared; though, this time Kurama could not immediately identify one as Naruto.

Both forms were writhing suggestively on the leaf-ridden ground.

After a moment, Kurama made an amused sound. It finally understood.

Of all the places for that memory to turn up.

It was possible that this had been swept up with the rest; Kurama hadn't had the time to be discriminatory when its and Naruto's arrangement had been established. Considering how closely it seemed to be tied to the time period the fox had taken, it wasn't too big of a surprise to see it here.

The more Kurama focused on the memory, the more the figures began to take on definitive features and sounds. A moan floated up into the still air, and another quickly chased after it. Soon there was a collection of sensual noises hovering in the space around the two undulating bodies.

A lascivious grin spread across Kurama's face and it drew closer, admiring the wanton way each form moved. It had been a voyeur to many of Naruto's sexual encounters—which involved a variety of men and women—but none had been more passionate than the few times the teen had been with Uchiha Sasuke.

Kurama watched as a sixteen year-old Naruto grinded into the flushed and pliant body of the Uchiha boy. Sasuke lay on his back, gazing up at him with a deliciously lewd expression in his hooded eyes. He stroked himself unabashedly as Naruto's pumping grew more excited; the leg he had wrapped around the blond's waist pulled him closer.

A moan bubbled up past Sasuke's lip, cloaked in his smooth baritone—Kurama could taste the arousal in its resonance.

Naruto smiled saucily and bent down to nip the thigh of the leg he held, just behind the crook of the knee. Sasuke gasped in surprise; an amuse smile sneaking its way on to his features.

'You're awfully well-versed at this,' he mused out loud.

Naruto placed Sasuke's leg around his waist and lowered himself to lie intimately close to the other teen; he propped himself up on his forearms.

'This coming from the guy who's taking my cock like a pro,' the blond whispered over Sasuke's lips. When the other bucked against him challengingly, he laughed.

'Always so testy, Sasuke."

Kurama recognized the affection in Naruto's gaze as his eyes roamed over Sasuke face. It had seen it plenty of times when Naruto had made love to his wife.

Absently, the fox thought on how similar the Uchiha and Naruto's deceased wife looked—clearly he had a thing for dark hair and fair skin.

'You're so damn beautiful, you know that?'

Sasuke gave a short laugh; 'That's not the sort of thing you say to a guy, dobe.'

'Whatever, teme,' Naruto reached down to free Sasuke's hand that had been sandwiched between them; the blond also grabbed his other hand.

'Give me your hands," he said, linking both their fingers and extending their arms out to either side of them.

Naruto nuzzled the side of Sasuke's face and spoke into his ear: 'I want us to cum together this time.'

He punctuated his sentence by pulling out and driving himself deep into the teen beneath him. Sasuke's breath hitched. The blond made sure to direct his grinding precisely so that Sasuke's swollen member would rub consistently against both their slick stomachs.

Uchiha's body trembled and arched up into him, his arms involuntarily pulling against Naruto's grip. Naruto kept them locked in place as he began to gyrate into him with renewed fervor.

The sounds from their copulation submerged the whole wood into a cloud of erotic ambience.

It delighted Kurama; how tempted it was to keep this memory here—a perversely exquisite oasis in an anger-ridden copse. But as it observed the young men's coitus reach its climax—with Sasuke flinging his head back, biting his bottom lip and riding his orgasm—Naruto's head tilted toward the fox and stared up at it.

His bold gaze communicated the mischief Kurama could cause and the distraction it would drive Naruto to. The fox considered these things—it didn't take long for its face to split into a menacing grin.

Teenage Naruto smirked and looked away, releasing Sasuke's hands so he could caress his face and kiss him deeply.

Kurama would derive much entertainment from making the brat twist; it still remembered the way Naruto had annoyingly shut it out of his thoughts for a number days, and how irksome Minato appearance had been.

If it were to keep up its end of their deal, Kurama would do it any way it pleased.

.&.o.o.&. —