Takes place just after the fight on the hospital rooftop, shortly after they've gained Tsunade as Hokage. Spoilers for where ever that is in the story arcs. heh.

Choices
(Sequel to Ki-Tsu-Ne)
By Icka! M. Chif

Sasuke looked up at the hole left by Naruto's Raisengan and clenched his fists with familiar anger. The -Dobe, insignificant, dead-last Naruto. The boy whom his body had reacted to instinctually to save on a bridge once, the one who he used to save on a near daily basis.

Whom he couldn't even save from his brother. Whom Itachi prized over Sasuke.

When the hell had Naruto surpassed him?

Why the hell hadn't he noticed it sooner?

With a defeated sigh that seemed to drain all the energy, all the anger out of him, Sasuke sat down on the balcony with a thud, his knees folding under him more than anything graceful. He was tired. Dead tired. He didn't want it, he didn't want any of this. Itachi, Orochimaru, the curse seal, all of it. It could all go to the seventh circle of hell as far as he was concerned.

He was so tired. Inside and out.

That was the point the world decided to demonstrate exactly how tired he was of it and go for a spin around his senses. Dark spots filled his vision as he suddenly lost the ability to remember which direction was -up-.

He was vaguely grateful that he was already sitting, or at least thought he was sitting or he'd do something typically Naruto and either end up hitting his head or falling off the balcony. He didn't have the energy to correct his tilt, or flight or what ever this was.

Then hands where holding his head, preventing it from falling off his shoulders, other hands holding him upright. Then the hands sorted themselves out and he realised that that was a shoulder under his head, arms wrapped around his abdomen, holding him against something -real, something solid. Something warm against his cold skin.

"Kakashi-sensei! Kakashi-sensei!" It was the Dobe's voice in his ear, warm air and smelling of ramen. The Dobe he was leaning against, smelling of heat and wilderness and spices. The Dobe sounded panicked and worried. It almost made him want to laugh.

Then a shadow appeared above him, their teacher's familiar droopy-eyed face, Sakura hovering behind him. Just how many people could the balcony hold before it collapsed? More hands touched him, looking at his face, his eyes, lifting his collar and exposing the back of his neck. Which he would have stopped, if he'd had the energy to feel so inclined.

Which he didn't. Not really. It was pretty much all he could do to keep his eyes open. "Sakura." Kakashi's voice was deceptively mild. "Go fetch Tsunade-sama."

"What's wrong with him!" Naruto's frantic voice insisted as their pink-haired companion slipped away. "He just -saw- the Obaasan!"

"Nothing to worry about, Naruto." Kakashi's voice soothed. Sasuke almost smiled. Wrong thing to say to the Kyuubi avatar.

"Like Hell!" Naruto raged. "And what's that thing on his back? Why's it feel so weird! It's like it's draining all the chakra outta him or something!"

It was too. In his weakness, the seal around the curse had faltered, the curse draining him again, eating him away from the inside.

Kakashi was silent. Heh. Underestimating the Dobe again, honourable sensei? There were reasons why he hadn't wanted Naruto to know. Not just because he was protecting the blond or fear that his rival would pity him, oh no. It was because the stupid blond was perceptive at all the wrong times.

Naruto answered his own question. "It is, isn't it."

Their teacher shrugged in return. "Aa. Maybe."

He wanted to laugh. Laugh until the tears came. Neither of which he had done in years.

The thought came slowly. He had a choice here, if he wanted it. The seal was sucking away his chakra. He'd used up quite a bit with the Chidori and fighting with Naruto. Who said he had to fight it anyway?

What purpose would his life serve anyway, if he did fight? Kill his brother? He wasn't strong enough. Even the Dobe could defeat him now. And even if he did use the seal, then what? Be Orochimaru's servant? Kill his team-mates?

No. He was no one's servant. And he was tired of dancing to everyone else's tune.

Ha. Serve them all right. Thwart their plans by dying. So simple, all he had to do was close his eyes and let it flow away. Give up. Speed it along even.

Except Naruto's sky blue eyes were in his way. Only they weren't blue, the friendly clueless blue he was used to. There was red around the edges now. Hellooooo, Kyuubi.

"Sasuke." Naruto's voice was rough and urgent. He was saying something. Something important. Had been saying his name for a bit from the sound of it. "I think... We think we can save you. But there's a price. Do you understand, Sasuke? I need to you understand me, this is really important Sasuke."

Of course there is a price. There is always a price. He knows that well. An inquiring sound makes it past his throat, almost of its own violation.

Choices. He doesn't -have- to accept the offer.

"The price is..." Naruto's voice chokes slightly, faltering. "Kyuubi says that the price is your -Name-. Your name, Uchiha Sasuke."

His name, huh? The last of the Uchiha clan. Without him, the clan dies. The Sharingan dies. Without a name, without a clan, the vengeance dies. The hatred dies.

Three choices. Fight and become Orochimaru's puppet. Die and fuck them all over.

Or take what the Dobe was offering and live.

Naruto, who wouldn't know subterfuge if it came up and kicked him in the butt. Who's silently begging for him not to leave, but not saying a word, allowing him making up his own mind. Unlike his brother and Orochimaru, who just thrust what they wanted on him. Naruto, who pushed him, fought with him, bickered with him and -was- his friend, even if they were rivals and acted like they hated each other.

He's drained, too far, too far. He'd already let it go a while back, it's amazing he's still awake. His throat moves, but it takes a few tries to get the word out. "Okay."

And it was. He didn't have a clue what the blond intended, but it was okay, he trusted Naruto and his harebrained schemes that shouldn't work but did. Been through too much with him. Because he'd -hurt- Naruto if he didn't and he'd somewhere along the line sworn never to do that.

Besides, what was the worst that could happen? He'd die?

"Done." With one word, he felt the burden of his choice, probably the first important one he'd ever made, settle around his shoulders like a hand of fate. Funnily enough, it felt like a boulder lifted off his back.

"Naruto..." Kakashi spoke up, reminding them of his presence.

"You don't have to watch, Sensei." Naruto informs him blandly as his hands began to shift Sasuke's body like he was an oversized doll onto Naruto's lap, head still propped up on the blond's shoulder. There was a hidden tone there, a silent warning that interference would not be tolerated.

Kakashi, of course, did not move. Not that he would have expected anything otherwise.

"This might hurt." Naruto said turning his attention back towards him, noses almost touching. Naruto's eyes were almost completely red now, the red of a banked fire, but with the worry and care he was used to seeing in the blue. "You ready?"

Sasuke made a half-grunt sound. As ready as he was going to be. It was enough for the Kyuubi avatar, who lowered his head slightly, placing his open mouth over Sasuke's and just seemed to -inhale-. All the energy, all the chakra that had been swirling in him, being eaten by the curse seal seemed to pause, swirling around to a stop before reversing direction and flowing up and out of his mouth, Naruto breathing it in.

And he just kept breathing him in. If Sasuke had felt drained before, it was nothing like this. The sensation earlier had been as if he'd been bleeding to death. This, this was like being pulled apart, torn apart and ripped painlessly by the air. Existing in a vacuum.

Sasuke lost himself in the pull, pieces of himself fragmenting and splintering off until there was nothing left. Nothing left of Uchiha Sasuke, nothing left of the curse seal, nothing there but a cold, pale shadow, hovering on the edge of existence.

So this was what death was like.

Stillness. Emptiness.

Then things happened in reverse.

Slowly at first. A bit of fire in his belly, warmth being pushed at him from outside. A hint of heat, a feel of energy teasing his lips, hovering against his non-existent breath. A small, tantalizing taste. Of life. The promise of a new life, a different life.

His lungs worked with a sudden lurch, inhaling and sucking down the warmth he could feel. He could feel the trickle of energy spread through him, his heart beating again, blood flowing, causing him to tingle all over. It wasn't enough. He felt empty, like a vessel that had been dry too long and was just now being filled.

Naruto had shifted him so that they were belly to belly, draped around the blond, one of Naruto's hands cradling the base of his skull like he was an infant. He moved, limbs weak and clumsy, grabbing on to Naruto and fastening his mouth to the blond's, to drink in that essence he was being given, pressing them closer. The warmth against his stomach flared, as if in approval and the flow increased. He sucked it down, drank it down, as hungry as a newborn on a teat.

Heat, warmth, life flowed through him, erasing the black and blue shades that had been Uchiha Sasuke and replacing it with yellows and reds, fire and a inhuman wildness.

His name. Small price. He could feel it, down in the marrow of his bones, that he was no longer what he was. Uchiha Sasuke was dead. Long live this life, this decidedly NON-human life.

In the background, he was aware that Sakura, of others, had arrived and were panicking, but ignored them as unimportant. People moved towards them, stopped by Kakashi.

Good. He wanted more.

Naruto chuckled, yanking his mouth away from Sasuke's, breaking the connection between them. "Enough! Enough! You've had enough, kit! Greedy bastard." It was Naruto's amused tones, mixed with something, someONE else. Kyuubi, still at the surface, making his presence known.

"I'm not calling you Dad." He grumbled, wanting, craving more. Naruto snorted in response. And then he was the one holding Naruto up as the blond's eyes closed and he attempted a face dive into Sasuke's chest. A quick check revealed that Naruto was simply asleep, his chakra levels dangerously low.

Low, because he had taken all of Sasuke's chakra, all of the curse's energy, mixed it with his own, added more and fed it back.

"He's asleep." He informed Kakashi, who was just watching over them with that droopy-eyed look of his. Sakura stood behind them, her pale face white, making her green eyes appear even larger than normal, the Fifth Hokage standing behind her. He smiled sleepily at them, feeling both pleasantly buzzed and sleepy at the same time. He yawned, shifting so that he and Naruto were more comfortably intertwined and followed the blond into sleep.

Took a lot of energy, on everyone's part, to be reborn.

When he woke up again, he was furry.

Somehow, he expected that.

He was also extremely hyper.

For having just wanting to die, he wasn't expecting that.

He also didn't care.

It was odd. He wasn't human, he was furry and he was happy for the first time that he could remember. Made him want to jump up and down, wave his paws in the air and drum his furry legs on the ground in a fast joyful dance. Or do something lewd with his tail. Yes, that was good.

"Sasuke's awake!" Sakura's voice jolted him out of his amusing thoughts. "Sasuke-kun's awake!"

He turned his head and attempted to blow a raspberry at her, but found it was exceedingly hard to do so with a fox's muzzle. Since his ruse was up, he wiggled his lithe black-furred body out of Naruto's grasp, who was wrapped around him like he was hugging a pillow and sat up, his tail waving cheerfully at her.

They were back in the hospital, rather high up, if the window as any indication. Looked like it was a private room too. As far as rooms went, not too bad. He'd prefer to be outside though. Fewer humans around. And this place stank of chemicals and sickness.

Footsteps clamour in the hall as first the Hokage, a woman carrying a pig and Kakashi ran in, followed by a horde of ninja. People talking, shouting, many of them angry, hostile. Hostility directed at him, at Naruto.

He growls, the hair on his back raising as he rises to stand over Naruto protectively, a four-pawed wall between the humans and Naruto. A few small laughing blue flames flare around him, adding their protection to his. He couldn't run, there were too many humans in front to flee, not that he was leaving Naruto anyway, and the bars on the window were too small for him to get out that way. They were trapped and he was damned if he was going down without a fight.

That brought everyone to a halt. The Hokage lifts a hand, catching everyone's attention. "Out." She orders. "Everyone out. Sakura-chan, Kakashi-sensei, you may stay. Everyone else, out NOW."

The exodus out was slower than the exodus in, but he didn't stop growling until the door was finally shut behind the last person. Curiosity diverted for a second, he bats at one of the flaming blue globes with his tail, amused when it giggled at him. Kitsune-bi, fox fire. He nudges it until it collides with another flame, sending it bouncing away. Cool.

The Hokage clears her throat, drawing his attention back. "Sasuke-kun..."

Was he Sasuke anymore? The Kyuubi's price had been his name. Did it still apply? He wasn't sure. Confused, he nudges Naruto's face with his nose. Naruto flinched, so he did it again.

"Ughn." Naruto flinches as if to swat him away, but didn't have the energy to do so. Eyes fluttered, then opened a slit, revealing familiar blue again. He nudges Naruto again, earning him a grimace. "Stop it, Sasuke." Naruto mutters, closing his eyes again.

Okay, so he was still Sasuke. That answers that. He got Naruto with his cold nose again anyway. "Never have kids." Naruto slurs, grumbling. "Never ever. They won't let you -sleep-."

"You've been asleep over a day, Naruto." The Hokage informs him gently. "Both you and Sasuke. We've been worried about you."

Sasuke opens his mouth to talk, only to find that he can't, only a series of yips and whimpers came out. That wasn't quite right. One of Naruto's arms flops out, limply smacking him in the back of the head. "Change back, idiot."

Change back? Could he?

Evidently, he can. With a puff of smoke and a 'Pon!', he found himself sitting there, a clothed human once more. All he had to do was think about it.

He pulls off his shirt, checking the back. The familiar fan shaped Uchiha symbol was there. With a grimace, he tosses the shirt in the trash bin next to the nightstand. He'll get a new one later. That wasn't him. Not anymore.

Sakura caught his attention, staring at him, green eyes wide again but not in fear. "Something wrong?" He asks, patting his face. Nope, human there, human hands too. "Something on my face?"

She hands him a mirror and he realises what she'd been staring at. It was his face, yes, but it had changed. More triangular now, more fox like. His eyes were no longer black either, but the dark blue of the midnight sky, the pupil slightly silted. Inhuman eyes. He tries activating the Sharingan and fails.

Good. He grins happily, swinging his feet back and forth off the edge of the bed. Is this what Naruto feels like all the time? All buzzed and full of energy? No wonder he gets into trouble all the time.

Sakura just continues to stare at him. He smiles at her, eyes crinkling shut in probably much the same manner as Naruto's fox face. "I'm fine, Sakura. Don't worry about me."

"You died." Kakashi comments gravely.

"Yeah, well..." He doesn't think he died, not completely, but there doesn't seem to be any good answer for that.

Tsunade sighs, bringing their attention back to her. "The Council's in an uproar." She says slowly, rubbing her forehead. "At both the Kyuubi's sudden reintroduction to life and the change in the last member of the Uchiha clan."

Naruto flinches, burrowing deeper into the blanket as if he could hide in shame. For what ever reason, the blond healer -matters- to Naruto. "M'sorry."

Sasuke punches him in the shoulder. "Don't you dare." Naruto gave him the choice. It was his decision to take it. He turns his glare to the Hokage. "The Uchiha Clan was wiped out seven years ago." He informs her gravely. "When Uchiha Itachi killed them all."

She nods, like she expected the answer. It doesn't make her job any easier, but it was something. "And Kyuubi?"

Naruto groans, pushing himself upright, one hand on his stomach. "Got his revenge." He slurs. He obviously wants to go back to sleep, but this is important to Tsunade, so it's important to Naruto as well. Sasuke moves behind him, so the blond can lean against him. "You don't have to worry about him anymore."

"Revenge?" Sakura's voice is little more than a squeak. Her eyes are wide and frightful, but it's fear -for- them, not -of- them.

"An Uchiha killed his mate, heavy with kits." Naruto explains softly, head lolling back to rest against Sasuke. "S'why he attacked the village. They slaughtered his family. He takes the last Uchiha as his own. S'over."

The Hokage frowns, not entirely pleased with the answer. "What's to keep him from doing the same to others?" Sasuke can practically see visions of Kyuubi taking over the village by turning the citizens into youkai passing through her eyes.

Naruto laughs, a breathy sort of sound. "Not doing it again any time soon. Took most of a tail for Sasuke."

Considering that from the stories and pictures he'd seen of the Kyuubi before it was sealed in Naruto, they'd barely be the size of one of the giant fox's toenails, that was a LOT of chakra. No wonder he felt hyper.

"Also," Naruto was oblivious to everyone's shock as people's thoughts followed his own. "Hadta be willing. Kyuubi wanted ta do it. Sasuke had to agree, hadta trust me."

"And you?" Kakashi asks, voice soft.

Another breathless laugh, self mocking this time. "I want Sasuke to be happy."

Simple Dobe, simple answers. Sasuke chuckles, nudging the blond. A hint of a smile rewarded him, eyes glancing over at Sakura and Sasuke understands the silent message. It couldn't be just anyone. Sakura was probably the only other person close enough for Naruto to change, if it ever came down to it. And somehow, he couldn't see her as a youkai. She was just... too human.

Hokage smiles as well, a fond one that makes her eyes crinkle in fondness. She understands as well.

Naruto yawns, his weight on Sasuke increasing. "M'gonna sleep for a week, eat a ton of ramen and sleep some more." He grumbles sleepily.

At the mention of ramen, Sasuke's stomach growls. He's hungry. Naruto smirks. Sasuke growls back. "I'm not going to become the ramen fiend you are, thank you."

"Heh." The blond smirks like he knows something Sasuke doesn't. "Noodles. Best way to restore chakra fast. High energy."

Oh. Well, that does explain a lot, such as the Kyuubi-avatar's fetish for ramen. Kitsune Udon sounds really good right now too, with a bit of fried bean curd on the side.

"I'll see about getting some sent up." Hokage assures them.

"Thanks." Naruto yawns again, then nudges Sasuke in the ribs with an elbow. "Oh. Hey. You need a name."

"What?" He answers back, amused by the change in topics. "I can't just keep the Sasuke?"

"Sasuke is Sasuke." Naruto answers back, as if it is the most simple thing in the world. "Hey, you wanna be Uzumaki?"

Uzumaki Sasuke?

He shrugs. "Why not? We're family now. Kinda." He is NOT calling Naruto or the Kyuubi 'Father'. The Demon Fox Brothers Uzumaki? That works. Has a nice feeling to it too.

He laughs, the sudden sheer impact of what has happened crashing down on him and the words spill out of him in a torrent. He's free. "No more Avenger, no Orochimaru's curse seal, no last of clan, just... Sasuke." He grins, nudging Naruto, who's working on falling asleep again. "I'm SO going to kick your ass!"

"You can try." Naruto grumbles back, but there's a grin on his face too. Sasuke chuckles.

Sakura lets out a wail, tears streaming down her cheeks as she pitches forward, wrapping her arms around both of them in a fierce embrace. "I've been so scared!" She wails, hanging on to them. "So worried!"

It's been hard on her, he's been hard on her, with her knowing about the curse seal and sworn to secrecy, unable to do anything about it. Naruto's been away as well, training and chasing the new Hokage. They haven't been there much for her, even though she's been there for them.

Naruto looks shocked at the embrace, eyes wide as he glances between Sasuke, Kakashi and Tsunade. The Hokage smiles fondly at them, motioning for them to hug her back. Naruto does so first, placing a closed hand on her back and burying his face into her shoulder, as she's doing to them. "It's all right, Sakura-chan." Naruto murmurs reassurances, although there's not much of him left, he's at the end of his resources and fading fast. "Everything's going to be fine. You'll see. Sasuke's back, we're all together. We're not going anywhere. It's going to be all right."

He places an arm around her as well, cradling her gently. He's not used to the contact, but it feels right. She sobs into their shoulders, all the pent up sorrows she's been holding inside for months coming out in a flood.

Naruto catches his eye, smiling slightly, looking tired but pleased.

The Demon Uzumaki Brothers, one golden like the sun, one dark like the moon, and pale Sakura, their gentle sister.

-Gentle sister with a Temper.

"Come." He pulls her up onto the bed, the same motion pushing Naruto backwards, so he's lying down again. There's things more important than food, sometimes. "Come and sleep." Neither of them let go of each other, nor does she let go of him, as if terrified that they'll disappear if she does. He nudges them until they're all safely ensconced on the mattress, curled against each other, keeping one hand on Sakura's shoulder so as not to break contact. Naruto's eyes are closed; already falling asleep and Sakura's eyes are closed as well, hiccupping slightly as the sobs abate.

"We'll take our leave now." Tsunade says softly, rising from her chair. "There'll be someone outside if you need them."

Unlikely, but it's as much for their protection as it is a reassurance to everyone else that they're not going to go run rampant through the city, destroying everything. They're still rebuilding from Orochimaru's attack.

Another burden off his shoulders. With the curse gone, he can't be used against the village.

"Iruka-sensei is probably worried about Naruto." He comments, remembering how much their teacher cared for the Kyuubi avatar, treating him like a younger sibling. Iruka-sensei would probably be the best at reassuring their former classmates too, should any questions arise.

The Hokage nods, Kakashi rising as well, giving them a friendly wave. The Copy Ninja looks both relived and worried at the same time, if you know what to look for. He'll probably be the one taking first watch at the door, watching over his students.

Sasuke waves back, turning back into a black furred fox with another 'Pon!' and cloud of smoke. Staying in human shape is tiring and he's suddenly tired. A nap sounds good, then ramen.

Geh. He -is- starting to sound like Naruto.

He grabs the sheet Naruto had displaced with his teeth and hauls it over the three of them, wrapping his tail over Naruto and Sakura, like a second blanket. Both of them are out for the count, so he closes his eyes as well, pressed against Sakura's back, reminded of another time they had fallen asleep like this, to reassure each other. Only last time, the humans were on the outside, comforting the fox. This time, the foxes are on the outside, caring for their human.

Only fitting, he vaguely supposed as he drifted off.

Kitsune -could- mean 'Come, Love, Sleep'.

-fin-.

26-27 Jan 05


Wow, it's been a year and a half since we did 'KiTsuNe'. OO;;
ahem Anyway.

That fic was the result of some research on Kitsune that sparked the plunnies. These are other plunnies that were sparked from the same research, found on a site that was somewhat questionable about the information, having more of a focus on role-play than actual mythology.

But one of the ideas that it brought up was the concept of Kitsune being like 'Chi Vampires' (anyone else having Jackie Chan Adventures flashbacks?), able to take energy from sources around them, including people. If they take energy from a human, it can't be enough to hurt or kill and they are obligated to inform them the best way to restore the energy that they took - soba, or noodles.

Ha. Betcha you thought Naruto's obsession with ramen was a random joke.

But one of the things it brought up was Kitsune reproduction. A: the normal way (sex). B: Like a vampire, draining someone of their energy, mixing it with their own and feeding it back to the person, turning them into a youkai as well. The new Kitsune will adapt to the abilities quickly, as if they've had them their entire lives, but the 'parent' will be drained for a while.

The catch: It HAS to be willing. Kitsune are very big on freedom and free will, such as not taking reluctant charity. You -have- to mean it.

Treat a Kitsune well, you have a friend for life. Slight them and they're vengeful wraths.

Something that is much debated among Kitsune folklore that I've seen is how many tails a Kitsune has. Some sites/theories is that you can tell how old a Kitsune is by how many tails it has, (200+ years, 2 tails, etc) turning into a Kyuubi (Nine-Tails) at 1,000 years (bwah? math does not compute). Every time they gain a tail, they double in power. Following this theory, if a Kitsune is on the verge of death, it can 'sacrifice' a tail, using that energy to restore itself. Therefore a single Kyuubi tail would be more vastly powerful than just a Kitsune with a single tail.
Other theory has it that a Kitsune only has one tail throughout life and once it reaches 1,000 years, it either dies, or becomes a Kyuubi.

Traditionally, Kitsune are shapechangers, able to impersonate humans. The catch however, is that they've pretty much only got two forms. Fox or Human. Period. The closest you come to a hybrid of forms is not the anthropomorphic Kitsune we think of today, with human appearance but foxy ears and tail, but if a Kitsune goofs up and has a face like a fox on the body of a human. (see our Shinigami Stories: 'Last Night' for more information)

One of the signs of a Kitsune impersonating a human is if they've got a triangular, or foxy face. Inhuman eyes are another.

And we're gonna get off our mythology soap box now... heh.