Disclaimer: Naruto isn't mine. On that note, Kyuubi isn't mine either. ::looks at Naruto and Kyuubi plushies forlornly::

A/N: AU-ish. This is a shot at KyuNaru, by the way. Not many fics on this pairing out there so I thought I might as well contribute to the society. For those who are scandalized by this pairing, just hit "back"; the rest, enjoy:)

Natsu no Mori

Chapter I: Summer's Forest

During the hot summer, I always run to the ero-sennin, also known as Jiraiya, also known as one of the three legendary sennins, and also known as the infamous author of Icha Icha Paradise. His house is really huge and it is near the Dark Forest so I like it there. Besides, there is nowhere else I could go, really. Iruka-niichan will be busy with the holidays with ...that No.2 pervert who worshipped ero-jii's stupid book. Oh well, back to the forest which I absolutely adore; it is rumored to be a haven for all sorts of evil monsters that tore anyone lost in it, and also the infamous Kitsune demon, which destroyed Konohagakure four centuries ago, lives in there. I have been there for three times and for three times, the most threatening thing I ever saw was this really huge toad that kind of look like Gama Bunta. Needless to say, I did not believe the rumor much. Until the very first time I got lost.

I was seven when I first saw him. I didn't really know what happened, but the next thing I knew, it was dark and I was trapped in a labyrinth of flowers and trees. I ran around the vegetation, the hills and the streams searching for a way out but all I saw were different shades of green and the growing darkness. The urge to run became more intense when I heard ghastly howls but I was too exhausted. From sadness and fear, I started to cry. Then he came.

"Oi kozo... Why are you crying?" A tall boy, with long, fiery red hair and a fox-shaped mask, asked me from behind a tree. Excited that there was someone who could help me, I leaped towards him and cried, "Save me--!!" The boy dodged away with an inhuman speed and I met the ground face-first.

"Ah... gomen. But aren't you a human child? ...I'll disappear if a human child touches me." The fox-masked boy said.

Upon hearing this, I scratched my blonde head and frowned. "Huh? Does that mean... Could it be that...you're not a human?"

The reply was swift. "I live here."

"Really? ... You're... Are you a monster?! Are you going to eat me? What do you mean by disappear?"

The redhead did not reply my bombardment of questions. I wondered if I should repeat. An awkward silence filled the space between us before crickets broke it. I took that as a hint from above to make the first move and reached out for him but he ducked away.

"..." I jumped.

"..." He swerved away.

"..." Another miss.

Not giving up, I pounced on him. He just skipped back as if he had predicted my move so my hands did not even reach an inch towards him. This game of tag continued for another few rounds. I suddenly regretted not paying attention in class and listened to all those ninja-do and taijutsu Iruka-niichan taught us. Concentrating, I reached out again, only to receive a hit from a branch in my face.

"Itai! You didn't have to hit me! And so harsh too!" I screeched, rubbing my bruised forehead.

"You ignorant brat! 'Disappear' means to vanish. A spell was cast on me. If a human touched me, that's the end of me. And of course since I can't touch a human, I can't eat one. In the first place, I definitely won't eat a girly-looking blonde like you. So don't worry!" A huff and a puff and he looked at me as I reddened in anger and shame.

"Na--Nandato!! I do not look like a girl! ...and...and... Iamsorry..." I held my head low as I realized what I terrible mistake could have committed, had I touched him. The word 'murderer' reverberated in my young mind.

"...Oi, stop crying. Aren't you lost? I can't touch you so hold on to this." He held the branch out to me then spoke again. "I'll take you out of here."

Glad that the older boy was not angry at me and that he was helping me, I forgot about his spell and tried to hug him out of gratitude, again.

As I laid on the grass, face-down, I thought, 'That idiot! He hit the same spot again!'

We held on to opposite ends of the branch and walked on in silence when I suddenly remembered a scene like this in a drama I recently watched and laughed.

"Hahaha... Ano sa, this feels like a date! Hahahaha..."

The other boy bristled. "This does not feel like a date at all!!"

"It does! It does!" I stuck my tongue out at him.

"... You're not scared?"

I only gave him a small smile.

He did not comment and we walked on. "... Go straight this way and you can get home." I thought he was going to leave me then. But he accompanied me all the way to the entrance, anyway.

When we reached, he gave a curt "bye" and was about to leave.

"Wait!" I cried. "Are you always here? Can I see you again?"

The other boy turned around and looked at me for a while before giving a response, which I thought was weird, "'Once you enter, you can never return.' Isn't that what they always say?"

I shook my head; I don't care much about what the villagers say about the forest or its inhabitants, anyway.

"Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto desu. What's your name?" I smiled brightly as I awaited his answer. It didn't come.

"A... Anyway! I'll visit you tomorrow. I'll bring my favourite food too! Umm, thanks and umm, bye!" With that, I ran away feeling rather hurt. I always thought that I'll get used to the silence that was given to me whenever I asked something. The feeling of not being seen; the feeling of not being heard; the feeling of being unwanted -- I thought I had gotten used to it. But the fox-masked boy's silence hurt me more than any other silence or feeling that the villagers offered. I had thought that he would be different. In the end, I'm still unwanted both by humans and monsters. Disappointment, sadness and loneliness began to seep into me. Had I been more absorbed in my bitterness, I would have missed it.

"... ...It's Kyuubi."

And he was gone.


"Ero-sennin!" I cried as the white-haired man made his way towards me.

"You naughty boy!" He scolded as he delivered a 'Kerokero-punch' to my head. "I've been searching all over the place for your sorry butt, kusogaki!"

I cradled my injured head and winced. The sight of me must have been really pitiful because not long later, the man I regarded as family held me up and rubbed my head then carried me on his shoulders. I gave a little victory smirk but quickly hid it when he turned to look at me with a suscipicious lift of his eyebrow. Thinking back about Kyuubi, I asked, "Ano sa, ero-jii, is it true that there are monsters in the forest?"

Jiraiya scratched his chin and laughed. "Ahh…that? Could it be… Naru-chan met a monster?! Haha… The story about the Kitsune-God, Inari, and the Kitsune demon right? That's just a legend."

I frowned. I didn't like what I was hearing. 'Kyuubi is not just a legend. He's real.'

The perverted man continued. "When I was young, I used to enter the forest with Tsunade-chan. We never saw a monster but I thought I saw something moving at the edge. In the late summer, we would somtimes hear strange music from the forest. My other friend, Oro-chan, told me that he got lost in the festival that was held in the forest but people in Konohagakure never ever hold any festivals in the outskirts here. So we wondered if the monsters held it. Ahh…those were the good old days. I was young and so handsome then. Not that I'm not handsome now! Ahh… All those pretty girls back then were so in love with me… I had at least…"

I gave him a Look and tuned him out after that. I thought about Kyuubi again and suddenly felt excited about tomorrow.

Hi everyone! Vicadin-tea desu! It's been a while since I posted, I think. This story will properly be three-chapter long if everything goes well. (Eg, If my laptop doesn't crash or if my tests are okay so I'm not depressed...etc)

Well, please look forward to the coming chapters. And, thanks for reading!

Oh yeah, Kerokero is a sound frogs make. And to clarify some identities --- the No.2 pervert is none other than Hatake Kakashi and Oro-chan is indeed Orochimaru... (--)"