I Want to Break Free by lemmings12

Rating: PG-13 for language

Summary: After Naruto completed the task of retrieving Sasuke, things haven't been well. On the contrary, everything remains the same on the surface, but underneath the tensions are boiling, especially in Naruto. All of a sudden, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox gives an ultimatum to Naruto: locate the Kyuubi's offspring and all of Kyuubi's chakra will be at Naruto's service. This puzzling journey then weaves and twists into an amazing test of Naruto's nindo, loyalty and strength. Finding the offspring proves to be difficult, and even more incredible when he finds out one of them exists in the Leaf village.

Perspective: Third person

Pairings: SasuNaru, ShikaIno, LeeSaku are some

Disclaimer: Characters, setting, and story idea belongs to Kishimoto Masashi. Plot is mine.

AN: This is my first Naruto fanfic, so there's bound to be problems somewhere, sorry!! Please leave constructive criticism, and avoid comments like "This sucks" without giving a plausible reason.

Key: "speaking"

bold for emphasis

{thoughts}

Enjoy!

--- [[ ]] ---

The golden orange and warning red danced wildly against the midnight navy blue. Nine painted streaks of fire in the sky incited fear and anxiety as the reaper of Death loomed closer like an overcast cloud. Yet, after a few droplets of red tainted the ground, a deal was made. The demon would live as long as it gave up the captured human prey. The demon was none other than the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. Before his grand appearance (and downfall) at Konohagakure, he was seen by humans, more specifically shinobis.

The Uchiha clan swore this incident to secrecy as they raised their newborn. The thirst for power, for darkness, was only instigated by his family's massacre. Uchiha Sasuke.

---[[ Chapter 1: First Step --- ]]

"Aaaah! That was refreshing training!" the spiky golden-haired young teenager boy sighed as he waited for his miso ramen at Ichiraku Ramen for lunch.

Nonchalantly spinning on his worn-out seat, the fox-like boy smiled jovially at the morning's events. He had talked to Konohamaru about his latest pranks against the closet pervert, persuaded Iruka-sensei to buy him ramen for dinner, went grocery shopping (more like clearing out all the instant ramen cups), surprised Sakura-chan with a bouquet of hand-picked flowers and he remembered how she actually smiled warm-heartedly, and, of course, he had a nice training session with Fuzzy Eyebrows improving his taijutsu skills. Yet, still, he couldn't believe how stubborn Sakura-chan was... it was his entire fault. His as in Uchiha Sasuke.

That bastard. Hurting Sakura-chan like that. Betraying the Leaf village. Thinking he was so goddamn higher than everyone... especially never accepting me as a rival...

The good mood quickly evaporated as Naruto inwardly fumed. What's worse was that the ramen had cooled down considerably once Naruto stopped thinking about him.

---[[ ]] ---

After trying to recapture his good mood by doing some extensive training with his chakra control, Naruto figured he'd just try the next day because of his lack of focus.

"Chikusho!" Naruto hissed through clenched teeth as he kicked a tree with his right leg, and then followed by his left leg and so on.

{Chikusho! Chikusho! Why am I always thinking about him? That bastard, ... breaking Sakura-chan's heart like that... betraying the village... the people that loved him... that scum taking everything for granted... I HATE HIM!} Naruto furiously thought as he screamed the last phrase aloud tamping the tree with his fists.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately), the black-haired Uchiha Sasuke rounded the clearing in his evening walk. He himself was surprised to hear Naruto's outburst, but, as usual, kept the wonder hidden behind his façade hoping the smile that slipped into position would be belied as a typical "Sasuke" smirk.

"Humph." Sasuke grunted letting his presence be known. He merely shot a condescending look at Naruto (typically) and waited for the predictable, "Urusai teme!" counter... Oh, how he wished for normalcy, after being hunted down, and brought back from Naruto, nonetheless. He couldn't even remember how Naruto beat him... if the boy even did. Still, most people didn't know he left, those ignorant villagers, but those that did strived to keep him in a good mood. However, now it is worse. For instance, Sakura and Ino have decided among themselves to attach themselves to his hip. So, maybe, that's why he decided to go on this walk, and see Naruto... to be plain, cold-hearted Sasuke once more.

However, Naruto didn't share the same vibe; in fact, his eye indicated no kindness. Instead, his typical passionate azure eyes transformed into a fierce reddish tint as all warmth was snuffed out by the mere look of... Sasuke. Several seconds passed in awkward silence, yet Naruto unconsciously began accumulating chakra forming an icy cerulean glow of chakra outlining his body: he looked like he was immersed in blue fire.

On guard, Sasuke also began to concentrate his chakra in his feet enabling himself to jump out of the way at a moment's notice. Just when Sasuke thought Naruto was going to attack, the fox-like boy simply emitted a low chuckle, his eyes darkening, and taunted the teenager he once called a rival.

"Do you expect me to be like everyone else? Saying something stupid so you'll be happy? Pretending to be normal when things aren't?"

Taken back, Sasuke remained speechless. So, he resumed his 'thinking' look.

On the other hand, Naruto's eyes morphed into overcast eyes as his aura grew darker and fiery. He continued his insane chuckle as he clenched his fists tighter and tighter until his nails began to draw blood.

"You're such a fake, you know that? Giving me that pretentious philosopher look. You know, I once considered you my rival, and wanted you to recognize me, but now... your words are worthless. How can anything that comes from you be worth of value when you think so little of everyone else? Of what it means to be a shinobi? Kakashi-sensei was right when he said we weren't worthy to become shinobis... You can't even find the reason that makes you a shinobi." Naruto spat, slamming his fists, chock full of chakra, into a tree behind him as it made as much damage as a normal Rasengan.

In turn, Sasuke wasn't taking this crap from Naruto, the dobe. He also began building up his chakra even when the familiar sting of the Curse Seal tingled in activation.

"And you think you're the epitome of a shinobi? You lack in stealth and techniques. All you ever seem to rely on is your chakra quantity, which can only go so far. You scream and rant that you want to be Hokage. That means, you seek the same path as I do... to become more powerful. But you can't become stronger in a padded comfort bubble. How can you when they teach you the wrong meaning to what it means to be strong." Sasuke strongly countered back balling up his fists. As he emphasizes his disgusting tone he created a heated chakra to match his enraged disposition.

Naruto shook his head left and right, and started to shake his shoulders uncontrollably as a warped smile formed beneath his darkened eyes.

"'Wrong meaning to what it means to be strong'? And just what do you think it is then? Knowing a million jutsus? No one giving you encouragement? What are you trying to be stronger in? What's your purpose for being strong?" his voice demanded becoming dried. Then, after a low growl escaped his lips, he spoke in a mocking tone. "Che. You want to kill, so you can be stronger? For who? Eh? FOR WHO?" He unexpectedly shouted at Sasuke as his eyes illuminated the crimson and ocean blend of colors.

Sasuke raised his head and matched his unfeeling obsidian eyes to Naruto's intense swirl of colors.

"For me." he simply breathed in an even tone. "Survival of the fittest."

In response, Naruto whisked around 180 degrees facing the darker part of the forest. All the accumulated chakra seemed to vanish from sight as deactivated Naruto just stood there. Then, softly in an undertone, he whispered, more to himself, "Why was I able to protect Sakura-chan when you weren't? I kept seeing your damn smiling faces... the faces that acknowledge me."

Suddenly, he turned his head toward Sasuke, and, with a weak smile, remarked, "But I don't see yours anymore."

--- [[ ]] ---

After a refreshing, long, hot shower, Naruto proceeded to his bed lying with his hands folded behind his head. His alarm clock glared 2:15 AM fervently red. Encountering and exchanging words with Sasuke seemed to only make things worse. Now, he couldn't sleep because of his restless stomach!

"Argh..." Naruto groaned softly while rubbing his stomach with his right hand. Giving in to defeat, he sprang forward sitting dazed as his gopher-like nightcap flopped forward. He rubbed his eyes tiredly, and made a move to get out of his bed, when suddenly he wasn't in his room anymore!

"Nanni? What is this? Genjutsu?" the confused blond-haired boy exclaimed, becoming a tad frantic looking about madly.

Up till now, all he could see was darkness. After a few seconds passed, he found himself walking down the same eerie, flooded hallways with the flickering lights. However, this time, he wasn't in control of his body: his feet automatically moved to the sealed prison. Once again, he found himself staring at the oblivion locked behind the sealed iron gates. Just as surprisingly, the same piercing odious claret eyes bored into his own naïve façade and ultimately demolishing his clumsily mended shell. The identical sinister laugh rumbled ubiquitously as its carnivorous, gleaming fangs bared at the young boy. Its burning scarlet chakra permeated the area intensifying the abhorrence in its eyes.

Naruto couldn't make sense of why this was happening, and shot an accusing finger at the demon.

"You! You did this!" was all he could muster to say.

Because this time, Kyuubi wasn't just frightening, he looked terrifyingly placid with a bloodthirsty glint in his smile.

"Me." it replied.

At that moment, saliva dripped down into nothingness...

"We're going to be together for a long time, gaki. So, do me this favor, and all my chakra will be dispensable at your command." Kyuubi authoritatively announced trying to get rid of his murderous tone.

"Huh?" Naruto responded, thoroughly baffled by the news he had just received.

"Gaki. Focus on my eyes." Kyuubi commanded showing signs of frustration. (Not good.)

Naruto tried, but found this task unreal.

"I won't go back on my words... Unless you do me this favor." it continued trying to speak in a consequential tone.

This was the first time since Naruto knew of its existence that the demon within him was trying to be on negotiating terms with him. And, he knew it was too good a deal to pass up, so he accepted.

"OK, but what's the favor?" Naruto demanded (gathering his dignity and courage) daring to step forward a few steps.

At this, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox seemed a little perturbed and embarrassed at actually telling the human boy (if it was possible for a ferocious demon to blush). Albeit this discomfort, it gravely requested, "Find my children."

"Clunk!" was the sound of Naruto's jaw making contact with the stone, concrete floor as it seemed to drop fifteen feet. Furthermore, his eyes bulged into two huge, white orbs with his hands grasping at his distorted hair. "NANNI??!" he exclaimed after five minutes' of speechlessness. "He's got a family... he loved? The world is an amazing place sometimes?"(1) he muttered incoherently aloud to himself sitting cross-legged on the cold floor.

Amused by this spectacle, the demon fox knew there would be no problem.

"Find out who survived. That's the favor. Do this and your power will be unstoppable, Uzumaki Naruto." the Kyuubi concluded enticingly with a wicked smile.

--- [[ ]] ---

While the families in Konohagakure enjoyed a brilliant display of fireworks, an unfamiliar wind of anxiety passed through the village wrapping around the hearts of the shinobis.

{What was coming?} many began to wonder.

Only the Hyuugas suspected something genuinely portentous. The fluctuation of chakra. The unthinkable. It had awoken.

--- [[ ]] ---

(1)Quoted from p. 79 in Naruto vol. 3

an: Feedback please! : )