Chapter 5 – Homes Are Where?
I follow Naruto and Sai down the street as they lead me to Naruto's apartment, my new home. Home… the word sounds strange to me after all these years. Naruto and Sai are bickering about something or other. Everything is going over my head, time and time again, but I can't say I particularly care. I forgot what it's like to travel in a group of people. It's nice.
Naruto's insistent arguing and pride is just like Inuyasha's, though Sai possesses Shippo's naïveté and the euphemisms of Miroku; a strange, but somewhat amusing combination.
I stop at the thought of my lost friends, hot water collecting along the frills of my eyelashes. Frustrated, I shake them away, scowling at the self-pity.
"Yugito, are you okay?" Naruto's voice splits through my unhappy thoughts and I look up at him inhaling deeply.
His eyes are blue and bright, far too bright and honest to be Miroku's, and the wrong color to be either Inuyasha or Shippo. I swallow lightly and nod, the corners of my lips beginning to curl. I am being foolish, comparing him to my old companions. Naruto is Naruto and nobody else. I shouldn't expect him to be.
Content with my response, he grins and returns to the conversation at hand.
"I still do not know, Naruto-kun, with an outfit like that I still say-." Sai begins only to be swiftly cut off.
"They've got to be pajamas; after all, didn't you say the guy was in bed when you woke him up?" The blonde barks back.
"Still, those clothes quite clearly imply that the man is of the uke type, according to what I've read."
Uke? I wonder curiously. What's an uke?
"Sai! Shut up! I don't need those disgusting images!" Naruto exclaims, slapping his hands over his ears in emphasis. The bridge of his nose is heavily dusted with bright pink and I feel my own cheeks heat up, feeling his embarrassment.
"So…" I begin unsurely. "What's an uke?"
Naruto freezes in mid-step, looking at me with silent horror. I begin to wonder just what it was I have asked, but before I can say anything more, Naruto is behind me, his large, calloused hands covering my ears firmly.
"Shame on you, Sai!" He exclaims furiously. "Corrupting a pair of virgin ears!" Grabbing my wrist firmly, Naruto marches away, dragging me along with him.
I resist the urge to raise an eyebrow at the fellow Jinchuuriki's antics. Virgin ears? Me? I would hardly claim that someone who spent years in Miroku's company to have anything virgin, least of all ears. The man asked every woman he came across to bear his child and never stopped groping me with his "cursed hand".
Nevertheless, I don't voice these thoughts. I doubt they're something Naruto will be interested in hearing, and I don't particularly wish to recall those memories. Glancing behind us, I see Sai following. I suppose he doesn't have much else to do.
Naruto slows down once Sai is a good distance behind us, but I can honestly say that I'm surprised he hasn't let go of my hand. I suppose he hasn't noticed, but I don't mind. His hand is warm. Softly, I squeeze a little tighter.
A familiar patch of sidewalk, an odd v-shaped crack spiking through the concrete, catches my eye and my step falters for a brief moment. I know where we are… Broken memories of that night skitter through my mind; the freezing rain, my throbbing hands, and the blood. Some parts of the pavement are scrubbed, erasing the trails of blood that I had left behind nights ago. I close my eyes and shudder when a tear escapes the confines of my eye. I still remember, clearly, crawling desperately across the ground, numb and vomiting blood before reaching Shippo and fainting into Naruto's arms.
Bitter hatred curls in my gut and I recognize the feeling as one similar to when Naraku had my clan slaughtered. I had felt grief and hopelessness at first at first, but that had eventually evolved into scorn and hatred. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I would have lost all sense of companionship and decency if I hadn't met Inuyasha. I probably would have convinced myself that only I could kill Naraku and that other people would have slowed me down. I suppress a snort at the ridiculous thought.
Akatsuki will pay for taking Kirara from me. I will regain my strength, hanyou or not, and I will get Kirara back from them. I will!
"Yugito?" Naruto's voice brings me back to reality again and I turn my eyes onto him, feeling a strange pang of disappointment when I see that his hand is no longer holding mine. He has his hands on the lock of his door, key turned. I tilt my head and feel my fingers along the wood, firm and lightly stained by a formerly bloody handprint. I settle my hand over the mark, falling back into my mind.
However, before any more thoughts can fly across my mind, I find myself enveloped in Naruto's arms, my nose pressed against his chest and his arms firm and reassuring against my back.
"We'll beat the Akatsuki, Yugito. For sure."
I smile and close my eyes, savoring his warmth and taking courage from his words. Before I can respond or hug him back though, he is gone, back to unlocking his door. The reason why makes itself apparent in the form of a tactless, black-haired boy named Sai.
"What's wrong, Dickless? Can't you even open the lock on your own door?"
I beat Naruto to the punch, quite literally, and sent the pale boy face-first into the floor. "So rude," I remark, crossing my arms, "Is it really that hard to at least be courteous?"
Naruto is gaping at me, his door half-open, and I blush and scuff my toe against the ground. Maybe I was too hasty in hitting him? But I really can't stand people who insult those I consider my friends…
Naruto clears his throat loudly. "Um, shall we go in?" he says.
I nod, holding my hands in front of me. "Yeah, sorry, I just don't like people who insult my friends." I mumble, too shy to meet his eyes. To my shock, however, the blonde starts laughing.
"Don't worry about it, Yugito. Sai's used to being hit by now. You should see when Sakura-chan hits him with that insane strength of hers!" I don't think he realizes he has scooted back an extra six inches from me, and for some reason, I don't feel hurt by that notion.
"Only this time, she didn't smile." Sai mutters pulling himself slowly off the ground. "I'll keep that in mind. Later Crybaby, Dickless, have fun tonight." It was then Sai decided to make his exit.
'Have fun tonight'? Naruto and I blush while he exclaims in protest; I just discovered how interesting the floor can be. Wow, what intense wooden detail... those grains look like a duck...
"Well, I suppose I should give you the grand tour of the place, even if its only for this one night." Naruto begins, once he has calmed down. Grabbing my wrist, he pulls me into the apartment. "This is the kitchen" He points at a small kitchenette with a table with two chairs. I lookearound and notice he has a few potted plants and the room is a light, comfortable, simple tan color. I feel warm thinking of how that suits him. "And this is the bathroom…." My curiosity sparks as I begin exploring each room with my eyes, like a small kitten in a new territory. Haha, me, a kitten...
I inhale deeply as we walked along, taking in the blossoming scents of spring when Naruto slides a window open.
"So that's my place, it's not much, but its home." Naruto finishes. Walking in to the kitchenette, he pulls out a kettle and two packs of instant ramen. "So enough about me, what about you? I mean all I know is that you know the Kyuubi, his name is Shippo, and you knew this guy named Inuyasha, who seems to like ramen. But that's it… so what do you like? What do you dislike? And what was your life like?" The kettle is filled with water and set on the small stove set to boil.
"My past…" I murmur. "Well, it's certainly not a short story."
Naruto smiles at me, chuckling softly. "It's not as if I've got anywhere else to be." He says with a lighthearted shrug. He nudges his shoulder against mine. "C'mon, I wanna hear this. I'll tell you my life story!"
My lips thin into a soft smile and I glance away. "Where to start?" I mumble with a sigh.
"Well, where were you born?" He asked.
"In the Demon Slayers Village in what is now the North-East part of Kumogakure. I was the eldest child in my family, my father was head of the Slayers and he trained me from birth to kill demons. During that time there was a lot of war among the humans and demons were thriving on the aftermath of battle."
And before I knew it, I was telling stories of growing up with Kohaku and Kirara, and other children of the Slayer's village, I even felt brave enough to tell him about Naraku and what happened to the village, I even told him about how I met Inuyasha, Kagome-chan, Shippo, and I even mentioned Miroku. The words fell from my lips surprisingly easily and as my three-hundred year-old story unfolded, I felt as if a burden was lifted my shoulders. I'd never actually told anybody about my life before, and for the first time, i realize just how old I've become.
I stroke the prayer beads wrapped around my wrist affectionately, glad that the hospital people didn't throw away my belongings. I don't know what I would have done if I lost Miroku's beads. I consider them to be my most precious belonging. I close my eyes, a content smile on my lips. Miroku's sacred beads have always chased away my nightmares and sad feelings. Hopefully, I can sleep peacefully tonight.
I turn back to Naruto and begin telling him about the time we rescued a village from an evil yokai that impersonated a water goddess.
Naruto laughs and tells me about the time he impersonated a classmate of his and the trouble it got him into.
I laugh and begin to yawn.
"It's getting late. I think it's time to retire for the night." I say and my eyes begin to droop.
Naruto squirmed in his sleeping bag and tried to fluff his pillow before he turned to his side, away from Yugito.
So Akatsuki took the Nibi or two-tailed cat, and now he was going to rescue the biju, and the other Jinchuuruki; more people like him, Gaara, and Yugito huh?
He rolled on to his back.
Yugito sighed softly in her sleep.
Well, at least he was being the gentleman on the floor while Yugito was sleeping in his bed.
In his bed…
"Have fun tonight."
Stupid Sai, he didn't know what he was talking about…. Maybe the pale-paced jerk just read a girl's magazine about slumber parties and was not talking about se—
Naruto smacked his forehead repeatedly, trying to get rid of the thoughts that raided his mind. There was no need to think perverted things about Yugito! Okay, so she was a girl and she was in his bed. There was nothing perverted about a girl being in his bed and he wasn't thinking perverted things about the girl in his bed! Ero-sennin would think perverted things about a girl in his bed, but Naruto certainly wasn't Ero-sennin and therefore wasn't thinking perverted things about the girl in his bed!
He groaned into his pillow, his index finger waving around wildly as he scolded himself.
Okay, maybe he should stop thinking…. Wasn't there a pressure point in the back of the neck that will put him to sleep?
Automaticly Naruto's hand darted to his neck and began poking around his neck until he found it at the base of his neck and squeezed hard.
Naruto sat up and rubbed the back of his neck, okay, maybe the neck pinch wasn't such a good idea…
It was then he noticed that he was sitting in water. He looked around and recognized the walls and the plumbing, He wasn't in his bedroom anymore.
There was a low growl coming from his right. Knowing who it was, Naruto sighed and decided to find out what the fox wanted.
As Naruto walked along the pipes the fox seemed to sense his approach, the growl changed from one of usual anger and rage, to one of impatience.
"All right. stupid fox, what do you want?" Naruto exclaimed as he walked in to the room containing the Kyuubi's cage.
"Let's get something straight ningen. I don't like you, or any other human for that matter, and you don't like me." The giant nine-tailed fox snarled from his enclosure.
"What about Yugito? Why don't you hate her?" Naruto said with a sudden epiphany.
"Sango is different, boy, and things were different back then. Don't assume to know the details of my past."
Naruto crossed his arms, muttering under his breath. "Damn grouchy bastard."
Kyuubi growled, causing the room to shudder. "Hold your tongue! I brought you here for a reason and you will listen willingly or I will use force!"
The blonde eyed the demon curiously. "That'll depend on what I'm supposed to listen to."
The fox growled again, but sat back on his haunches. "You promised Sango that you would help her save Kirara and I'll be damned if I'm left out of things. I have a deal for you."
Naruto couldn't say he wasn't interested now. "A deal?" He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What kind of deal?"
"Don't look at me like that or I'll rip your face off. Whatever it is you're thinking, it's way off. Akatsuki is gathering all nine Bijuu for some twisted experiment. As it is, they possess several demons, including Kirara and Hatchi…"
"Don't interrupt. Hatchi is the tanuki that was sealed inside your red haired friend…"
"Gaara? You mean Shukaku?"
"Stop interrupting, damn it! Ningen… as I was saying, they possess several demons, and I have a good idea of exactly which demons they are. This human behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it any longer." The great kitsune paused, the next words being a great blow to his pride. "I… am willing… to give you the power you need to free my comrades and destroy Akatsuki, without the pleasant side of effect of me fighting for dominance."
Naruto gaped in silence for several seconds. "… You're serious?"
Kyuubi grunted, looking away.
"What's the catch? What do you get out of this?"
The fox shifted its shoulders. "First off… you have to become a hanyou- don't look at me like that, let me explain. You can't even use a third of my power without doing extensive damage to yourself, and every time you use my chakra your life grows shorter. As of right now, you're not going to live to see your fortieth birthday, kid. Become a hanyou and you won't have to worry about that. In exchange, I want you to take care of Sango and… let me share your senses. So I can hear and see and feel… and taste… everything that you do."
Naruto blinked. He hadn't been expecting that. "Okay… I can kind of understand Sango, and I'll think about the whole hanyou thing, but why do you want to share my senses?"
The demon frowned. "Sharing your senses is the closest I can get to the outside world without forcibly taking control of you, and… I also… haven't tasted…" He broke off into mumbles.
"What was that?" Naruto asked, raising an eyebrow.
There were more grumbles before the kitsune managed to swallow his pride. "I… I haven't tasted chocolate in decades, okay?!"
Naruto stared… and stared…. and stared… Then he burst out laughing.
"It's not funny, you worthless meat monkey!" Kyuubi growled angrily, glaring with a fury that could have melted all of Snow Country to a quivering puddle.
"Ha, ha, are you kidding me?" Naruto guffawed, holding his sides. "The great, evil, Kyuubi no Youko has a soft spot for chocolate?! Ha, ha, ha…"
Kyuubi growled angrily, a red glow covering his body, and slowly began to shrink. Naruto failed to notice as he howled with laughter. His chuckles were cut off, however, when a clawed hand shot out from between the bars and latched onto his throat.
"Kami, damn it, shut up already!" The transformed kitsune snapped. Naruto blinked as he found himself staring into a pair of incredible emerald eyes, framed by feathery locks of auburn hair. It would have been a… dare he think it… beautiful face had it not been scowling, pale skin crumpled in fury. Kyuubi… or should it be Shippo now? … snorted at the blonde's expression and threw him back, watching as Naruto stumbled back into the water.
"Ningen." He spat, crossing his arms.
Naruto shook the water out of his hair and looked up at the kitsune with wide eyes. Of all the things he imagined Kyuubi might look like in human form, this wasn't what he had in mind. The fox didn't look too much older than him, maybe nineteen or twenty years old, and was surprisingly short, only a few inches taller than Naruto himself. Feathery, auburn hair was pulled back into a long ponytail that nearly reached his waist, stray bangs framing his sharply angled, fair-skinned face. Bright emerald eyes glimmered with icy flames, offsetting the turquoise haori and russet fur vest. A red hamaka hung over his legs, which resembled natural fox feet. He was very slim too, his body well made for stealth and agility. A cream-colored tail twitched behind him, surprisingly puffy looking. Were it not for his reputation and the scowl marring his face, Naruto would have said the kitsune looked, well… friendly, almost.
"What are you looking at?" Kyuubi snapped.
Naruto started slightly, not realizing he had been staring. "Ah, sorry, it's just that you look so… different than I thought you would."
The fox's scowl lessened slightly. "Yeah, well… we've been stuck together fifteen years, you might as well know what I really look like." He frowned again. "Look, do we have a deal or not?" he demanded, holding his hand out between the bars.
Naruto stood and eyed the hand warily, considering and more than a little suspicious. Finally, he took a deep breath and stepped forward, grasping the demon's hand and shaking it firmly.
Kyuubi nodded. "Good." Suddenly, he yanked Naruto closer, placing both of their faces right up to the bars, baring his fangs. "And if you tell anyone about the chocolate thing, I'll make sure you become an even worse insomniac than that Gaara kid, got it?"
Naruto paled somewhat and nodded vigorously. "G-got it!"
"Good." Kyuubi said, releasing the teen. "Now wake your ass up and start training. As you are, your body can't handle all the youki I'll be giving you to make you a hanyou without ripping you to shreds, so expect to work your ass off until you can. Plus, I believe Sango is about to wake. And don't forget to eat some chocolate!"
Wha-?" Naruto sat up abruptly, finding himself back in his room. He frowned, pushing the sleeping bag off of him. "Crazy kitsune…" he mumbled under his breath, yawning.
End Chapter 5
Mysteri: Phew! This is moving pretty quickly! I've had that dreamscape scene with Kyuubi planned for ages! I'm glad we finally got it out!