Standard Disclaimer: Applies at all times
Translations: (you all probably know these already but just in case)
Sugoi! – Cool! Awesome!
Hajimemashite – Pleased to meet you. (When meeting for the first time only.)
What Dreams May Come
It's been four years. Four years since that village burned. Since I burned that village. Four years in this…limbo, this dream world. Nothing here but the dreams. Sparkling little stars in the absolute darkness. The anger and frustration have dimmed but not left. Four years have come and gone. Four years I've spent searching and scratching, trying to get out. Four years studying this new human trick. There has to be a way out. Every puzzle has a solution. Anything made can be broken. Finally, I think I've found the way. It will take time. Many years more at least. After millennia of living, I've learned the art of patience. It will work. The kit, that human boy is the key. He was the gateway into this place. He is the way out too. I see his dreams most clearly. He doesn't know why but he knows everyone hates and fears him. It's because of me, of course. I don't blame him for what they did. Stupid humans. They sacrifice one of their own to save their own sorry hides. They treat him like trash. One of their own people. Stupid humans. It will make things easier for me though. The kit needs someone to take care of him. Someone to teach him how to survive. The humans won't. I'll give him a friend and he'll give me his trust. He'll open the gate for me. I'll be free again. I just need to be patient.
Five-year-old Naruto sat up in the pale moonlight and looked around. He lay in a meadow surrounded by evergreens. Crickets and fireflies flitted around aimlessly. An owl hooted in the trees. Naruto crouched down in the grass. He peered around sniffing cautiously, just like she had taught him to do. He knew she was near by. She always was. Where was she hiding this time? A flicker of movement of to the side caught his attention. He sprang up and dashed as fast as he could, leaping at the moving object. Only to fall on his face.
Then she was there. Standing over him, he could feel her amusement. They always felt one another's feelings as well as they could their own. In the waking world, it would be impossible for a human and a demon fox to understand one another. In a dream however, one was only limited by the dreamer's imagination. If the dreamer believed something was possible, then it would be true. If the dreamer believed something was impossible that would also be true.
Kyuubi leaned down and nudged little Naruto with her nose. He stood and jumped around a little, cheering. He was always full of energy. Kyuubi gave him a lick and moved out to the meadow. Naruto followed eagerly.
"Yay! What do we play t'night Kyuubi-sama?"
"Lets start by catching fireflies, little one."
Naruto threw his arms up. "Yay! Fireflies!"
They would play all night. Running through field, forests, over hill and dale. All the while Kyuubi used the games to teach the little one to track and hunt, to use his senses to the fullest. She showed him a world outside of his daily village life. He ate it up and always craved more. He gave her all his trust the way only a five year old could.
Kyuubi's plan was being realized. Still she worried. She worried that when he finally knew, he would hate her. Would he hate her for the attacking the village? Would he hate her for destroying his family? Would he hate her for being bound within him? For the way the village looked at him? For his loneliness? His pain?
No. She couldn't think like that. When Naruto was old enough to understand the situation he would help her. He would help his only friend. The little bundle of energy had complete faith in his dream companion. The best way to earn trust is to give it. She would do that.
Morning comes too quickly. They come up to the gate to the waking world, as they did every night. The little one looks up, still grinning. Kyuubi isn't fooled. She can feel his sadness. She leans over to nuzzle his wild hair. He giggles and tries to give her a hug. He is so small he can't reach very far. Eventually, he lets go to totter through the gate and away.
She stays to think, watching the dream, his dream fade into nothing. She thinks about the future, about the past, about her golden haired kit. She wonders what will become of him. Wonders, too, when she began thinking of him as hers. She decides then and there that even when she is free, she will be with him. For as long as he still needed her.
In the mean time, there is little to do in the world between dreams. All around, the dreams shine. Each one is a different colour. Always moving, appearing and disappearing as each person wakes or falls asleep.
Kyuubi examines the dreams close to her. None of the dreamers are from the same country. Not surprising. The world of dreams has no special references. Dreamers from opposite ends of the world may have dreams next to one another. They may even collide and have the same dream. They would never even know.
Kyuubi moves out looking for particular dreamers. She would never find a demon's dream. Simply put demons didn't dream. They didn't even sleep, generally. Instead, she is looking for the villagers from her charge's home. She could enter their dreams with a little effort to give them nightmares. It had become a hobby for her. They deserved it. She didn't even have to do anything in their dreams. They would take one look at her and wake in an instant. She could feel their fear before they vanished. She hoped they woke screaming.
She sniffed around hoping to catch a few before they all woke up. Moving around a cluster of dreams she finds something unusual. A tanuki. Kyuubi freezes in surprise. It sits there, growling fiercely at nothing in particular. Kyuubi watches him cautiously from behind a dream cluster. Normally Kyuubi avoided the tanuki. Under ordinary circumstances, they would never get along and she would leave. These were not ordinary circumstances.
She watches as he continues to growl, swiping at any dream that drifts too close, waking the dreamers in the process. She watches while she is contemplating possibilities. It seemed they were in the same position. It seemed also that he had not found a way out. She could tell him of her plan. She could let him rot here. She might be able to gain something from him. But what could he have that she could possibly want?
Bah! Leave him to his fate.
She turns to leave but quickly freezes again. The tanuki had stopped growling. He appears to be waiting now. Impatiently waiting. Slowly, a tiny, faintly reddish dream materializes in front of the tanuki. Immediately he seized it, trying to take control of the dreamer. The dream vanished. Tanuki roared and thrashed around in total frustration.
Kyuubi laughed out loud. This time it was the tanuki who froze. Kyuubi makes her presence known proudly, but keeps her distance.
-What…why are you here?- tanuki growls at her in the language all demons know.
-Same as you.- Kyuubi keeps a careful eye on him. -I know the way. To get out, I mean.-
His eyes narrow. -I don't believe you. You wouldn't be here if you could get out.- his suspicion is only natural.
-So you are stuck here.- she says as he confirms her observations to be true.
-You just said…stupid fox. Always have to play tricks don't you- he says, annoyed.
-It's who I am.- she shrugs, unconcerned. -But I meant what I said. I know a way out. It just takes time.- she explains carefully.
-So what is it?- he growls.
She grins at him. -Why should I tell you?-
He growls louder. -Why did you offer in the first place?-
-I didn't offer anything. I said I know a way out, nothing more.-
He keeps growling. She peers at him cheerfully. They both know she has the upper hand.
Finally he relents. -What do you want from me?-
-An excellent question.- she taunts. -What do you have that I might want?-
He keeps right on growling while she pretends to think. -You don't have anything I want, but I'll tell you anyway.-
He stops growling in disbelief. -Are you just going to tell me out of the goodness of your heart?- he says with scorn.
-I think having you in my debt will be payment enough for now. Most likely you won't be able to do it anyway.-
-What do you mean?- he says warily.
-You have a single human host, yes?-
-Ye-es- he admits reluctantly.
-You also hate humans, yes?-
-Well get over it. You need the human's cooperation to leave.-
Tanuki curses loudly and with great enthusiasm. He swipes at drifting dreams in the area. Kyuubi waits for him to settle down.
-There has to be another way!- the tanuki snarls.
-Well if you find one, use it.- Kyuubi turns to leave.
-Wait.- Kyuubi glances backward over her shoulder. -How…how do I…how can I…get a human to…- he stammers.
Kyuubi gives him a foxy grin. -To start, don't attack their dreams. You will never get their assistance that way.- Kyuubi turns to leave again.
-Where are you going?-
-Back to my human. I should be there when he falls asleep.- truthfully she didn't need to move away to find her little one's dreams. Their spirits were tied together. His dreams always appeared right next to her. She simply didn't want the tanuki learning more than he needed to. More than she told him.
Her conversation with the tanuki hadn't been terribly long but in the world of dreams time is flexible. She trotted out of sight of the tanuki. It wasn't long until her charge began to dream.
It has been a few months since Kyuubi found the tanuki. He calls himself Shukaku. He was a former priest in the sand country. Apparently, he had been trapped inside an iron pot, though how or why he wouldn't say. A little over five years ago his confinement was changed to the present situation. Kyuubi wondered at the fact that they were confined to the same place around the same time. Could the two incidents be related? Without more information it was impossible to say for certain.
Kyuubi asked about Shukaku's host but all he said was that it was male. Other than that he didn't know and didn't care. Kyuubi patiently explained to him any number of times, he had to change his ways. She told him, for the sake of his freedom at the least, it was necessary. He complained of course. A year ago she would have gladly joined him. A year with her little bundle of energy had changed her opinion on one human if not on the species in general.
The last few months Shukaku had refrained from attacking his host's dreams. It was a slow beginning but still a beginning. Gradually his host started dreaming more frequently. It was still sporadic though.
Kyuubi had thought carefully about the next step. It would be difficult for Shukaku to simply repeat what Kyuubi had done with Naruto. Naruto didn't know about Kyuubi until she had appeared. He still didn't know the whole story. Shukaku's host, on the other hand had seen him and feared him. Fear is never easily overcome nor forgotten. Sometimes it is impossible.
Shukaku simply appearing before his host would only scare the host away. So Kyuubi suggested another approach.
The temperate forest is bathed in the warm glow of early summer sunshine. Throughout the trees, birds and small animals can be heard moving about. It seems as though the forest itself is alive and breathing. It really is alive in a dream. Under a large oak tree sits a small orange-wrapped package. He lies on his back watching the wind in the trees.
Kyuubi trots up to him. Naruto sits up, a grin brightening his face.
"Hello, little one. We will talk."
"Hoh?" Naruto's face becomes serious as he listens attentively. He sits on his heels, his hands flat on the ground in front of him.
"I will show you something new tonight. There is a place that exists where all dreams reside. We shall go there," Kyuubi tries to keep it simple so the little one can understand.
"All dreams? Are you in someone else's dream when I'm not dreaming?" he asks.
"No. I stay in the space between dreams at most times. I can enter some others' dreams if I choose. Come," Kyuubi rises. Naruto is close on her heels.
She leads the way to the gateway to the waking world. The gates are huge wrought iron works. Simple in design and effective in purpose. To the sides of the gate is nothing. Not, nothing as in you could see past it but nothing as in empty nothingness. Naruto wasn't paying attention to anything past the gates and out of sight is out of mind. In a dream, out of mind is out of existence.
"You know these gates, yes?" Kyuubi asks.
Naruto nods solemnly. "This is the leaving place."
Kyuubi turns to him, slightly surprised at his choice of words. "Yes. It leads to the waking world. It can also lead to another place."
Naruto looks at her expectantly.
"Come close but do not pass through," She instructs.
Naruto draws near to the gates.
"Look closely at the outer edge of the gate. Can you see a shadowy outline to them?"
Naruto peers closely as she says, squinting cutely. Suddenly, "Ooooohh! I see sparkly stuff!" He reaches out his hand and just like that they are both in the empty space between dreams, his dream having vanished; popped like a soap bubble. Naruto throws his hands in the air and cheers. "Sugoi!"
Kyuubi actually has to blink for a second, surprised at the ease of the shift. Snapping out of it, she sniffs the non-existent air to locate Shukaku. He is nearby, as always. A normal dream may appear anywhere in the infinite space of the dream world and drifted around. Naruto's dreams always appeared next to Kyuubi, and then drifted around, as dreams do naturally.
Naruto stood on empty space, unafraid. He looks all around in wonder. He watches a greenish dream pass him by, its steady pulse like a beating heart. He reaches out his tiny hands to brush it as it goes on its way. The dream seems to pause, turning toward him as though curious as to what just happened.
"Little one, leave that alone," Kyuubi chides him.
Naruto startles, the attention of a five year old is either all or nothing. He trots to her side. "This is where you are when I'm not dreaming?"
"There's so many…"
"Yes. There is something else I wish you to see."
"There's more?" he says, enthused.
"Yes. Stay close, little one. Do not enter any of these dreams."
She leads the way with Naruto close at hand. "So many colours," Naruto murmurs to himself. Moments later, Shukaku comes into view.
"Hoh? What's that?" Naruto asks.
"That is Shukaku. He's…grumpy."
Shukaku grunts, scowling in their general direction.
"Hajimemashite, Shukaku-san!" Naruto says happily.
Shukaku grunts again, more in surprise then anything else. The little thing wasn't afraid at all. "He's not here yet," Shukaku says.
"Whowha?" is Naruto's intelligent comment.
Kyuubi chuckles. "There is a little boy I want you to meet," She tells Naruto.
"Yes. Before we meet him there are some things you need to know."
"You must be very careful in someone else's dream. They have control. You should not try to change anyone's dream, especially without his or her permission. It could hurt them and you."
"Okay," Naruto says sincerely.
"When the boy's dream appears, be gentle. He does not like to dream."
"Why doesn't he like to dream?"
"It is unpleasant for him."
"It frightens him," Kyuubi deliberately avoided mentioning the cause of the fear.
"Why?" Ah, the persistence of a five year old. Luckily for Kyuubi, Shukaku's host chose that moment to begin dreaming. It appeared slowly. It always did. The dream remained faint and indistinct.
Kyuubi nods toward the newly formed dream. Naruto approaches it cautiously. He peers at it closely, fascinated. Slowly, he brushes the surface of the dream. It flinches, moving away and fading, nearly disappearing. Naruto turns to Kyuubi with a look of sadness on his face.
"He's so scared," He turns back to the dream and gently, very gently brushes it again. It flinches away again but does not fade. He tries a third time; it gives a little twitch. Softly stroking the surface he gives it a hug. A remarkable feat to accomplish on a spot of light. The spot in question flickered blue and purple swirling in confusion. Naruto held it close.
"Lets go meet him, little one," Kyuubi says.
Naruto looks up at her with tears in his bright blue eyes. "How?"
"Shukaku will bring us in," she explains.
Shukaku moves closer, "Let me see it, boy." Naruto holds the dream out in his hand. Shukaku is staring intently at the flickering dream. Gradually, the light grew bigger while other dreams in the area fade away. The purplish-blue light grew until it surrounded all three of the dream travellers.
Out of the light appears a city. The unforgiving midday sun harshly lights the city. The buildings are short and square, the windows dark, doors closed tight. The street is narrow; the ground is covered in sand. In fact, everything is covered in sand. It is on the roofs, the windowsills, in little drifts against the walls. There is a lot of sand.
In the middle of the street is a doorway. It stands there alone. A tattered cloth covers the opening.
Kyuubi turns to look at Naruto. "Look around, little one. Try to find the other boy. I will be watching from a distance if you need me. Shukaku will wait outside."
Naruto nods then darts down the street. Shukaku ambles through the standing doorway. Kyuubi uses her fox magic to be invisible and shadows Naruto as he wanders the streets.
Naruto peeks around a corner. There is nothing there but empty buildings and sand. He zips down that street to the next corner. Still nothing to be found. He listens carefully but hears only the wind and the shifting sands. Naruto shivers. He looks up at the harsh sun, half way through the afternoon. By all appearances it should be very hot. Instead Naruto can see his breath in the air.
He looks down each street. They are all identical. So he goes for the rooftops. He knows it's only a dream so he makes the jump easily. As far as the eye can see is the same rooftop over and over and over. Naruto turns around completely trying to find anything notable. He makes another revolution until something different comes into view. A circular building rises from the uniformity, overlooking the empty buildings.
Naruto races toward the building across the rooftops. At the edge of the square buildings, he looks up at the unique structure. The surface is extremely weatherworn, cracked in a few places. Columns line the out side alternating with circular windows. On the roof is a ball of some kind with a stripe around the centre.
Naruto returns to street level and circles the building a few times before accepting that there isn't a door. He circles once more looking at the roof ledge. He finds a pair of legs hanging over the side.
"Ha! I found you!" Naruto shouts upward.
The legs twitch. A face leans over the edge. It's a boy's face. The boy is very pale; he has mahogany hair and faint rings surrounding his blue-green eyes. His expression is one of surprise and confusion.
"Who are you?" the boy asks.
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto. Who are you?" Naruto tells him with a grin.
A/N: I think I'll stop here for now. Heck, I don't know where I'm going with this. If anyone wants to see more you'll have to leave a review. :P
The building Gaara is sitting on I found drawn in Naruto chapter 130 page 14. Gaara is sitting there just before Yashamaru tries to kill him.