Warning for gore, heavy torture, and general ickiness in this chapter. If you don't like it, please skip over.


Not three weeks after Gaara left, the inevitable happened.

Naruto was used to being chased down. Drunken villagers often came after him in fits of rage or because of mob mentality. No matter what the Sandaime tried to do for him, they hated him. They would despise Naruto forever, entrenched as they were in their hard-headed beliefs that he was a monster.

They'd even gone as far as hiring ninja, both local and foreign, to do their dirty work.

…To kill him.

Naruto was used to avoiding the glares of others, to not catch the attention of anyone passing by, whether shinobi or civilian. If he kept his head down in the background, there was less chance of him being singled out. He could be satisfied with a life in the shadows, his only companion being empty air with absence of Gaara.

While in the background, he'd taken the opportunity to observe the shinobi, including the higher powers like the Hyuuga and Uchiha clans. He could tell that many were elite from the way they moved and carried themselves. He'd even caught the gaze of piercing red eyes once, but only momentarily.

Now, Naruto was being hunted.

There were only three of them, so he knew it couldn't be a large group effort. Just a small few breaking the act of secrecy this time. There would be no mob to flood him. Good.

But each of the three was a masked ninja, all bearing Sharingan eyes. Bad.

He didn't know how he'd gotten here. They'd chased him all the way into the richer side of town, near the Uchiha district. They knew this place much better than Naruto did, and now their advantage was showing.

He ran, faster and farther then he'd ever run before. He knew he was much faster than most his age, but these were shinobi. They were simply playing with him.

Naruto turned down yet another alleyway, breath coming ragged and loud. His legs and lungs were burning under the strain of running for so long and his mind was becoming cloudy with exhaustion. Another sprint turned him to another back way, face to face with a brick wall. There was nowhere to hide or go. He was trapped in the dead end.

Naruto spun around, quickly placing his vulnerable back to the wall. Already the Uchiha shinobi were only a few feet from him already…and they were laughing. The normally stoic ninja were all chuckling maniacally. That more than anything else scared Naruto enough to piss his pants. He trembled in the wetness, trying to come to grips. Before, he wouldn't have cared about this situation.

But he'd made a promise to stay.

"Little demon, let's play," the one on the right laughed.

"Oh, look. He fouled himself," the male on the left spoke.

The dark ninja in the middle ignored them, stepping closer and drawing a kunai in one motion.

"No longer will you hide under than innocent guise, fox. It's time to pay for the many deaths of our clansmen."

Before Naruto could react or even think, the nin sped towards him faster than he could see.

Naruto collapsed into a world of pain.

¤

Gaara hadn't meant to do it. He'd just lost control.

Shukaku was shouting in his head again, telling him to kill, to give Mother her blood.

He'd accidentally killed someone. Again.

It was not a day later that he felt those kunai at his back. Here was yet another person, come to kill him. His reaction had been instantaneous. In a mere instant the masked man had been crushed, now bleeding and broken on the sandstone tiles of the roof.

It had hurt, Shukaku's screams in his head when he'd unmasked his would-be killer.

"Uncle Ya-shamaru," Gaara's voice cracked on his name. He didn't even have to ask why. Here was one more person who hated him.

"-I always resented you…for taking my sister away," the man finished, he voice rasping as he died. Gaara stood, stunned.

'You see? No one will ever love you. You are the bakemono! Serve your purpose as a monster, kill them! KILL THEM ALL!' the tanuki's voice reached a high screech.

For a moment, blond hair and sky-bright eyes flashed through his mind.

'Stay strong, and don't forget me.'

Gaara shook his head wildly, clutching a tiny vial the hung around his neck.

"No! There is Naruto! He will always be my friend!" he sank to his knees, not looking at the bloody mess before him. "He…he will love me. Loves me…" The sand around him stirred again, whipping itself into a storm. Rapidly it centered on his forehead, right over the area he could still feel the tingle of Naruto's lips.

It hurt, dreadful pain that Gaara had never felt before, still he persevered. Before long the sand fell away, revealing a dripping wound in the shape of Ai. Love.

"I will remember!"

¤

"-Fugaku? Do you think we should tell him?

"He's never expressed his views on the demon brat. We can't be sure if he'd approve or not."

"This is pointless. Fugaku-sama is the head of the police force. Even if he did approve, he wouldn't want the brat near his home. It would reflect badly on the family honor if we were discovered with him."

"Then we'll have to make sure we're not discovered."

"Ginta-san, the monster's waking up."

Naruto was in so much pain, he didn't want to open his eyes. All conversation stopped when his eyelids slid open of their own accord. One dark-eyed man leaned over him, smirking.

"Hello little demon. Welcome back to hell." Startled, Naruto tried to jerk away. He regretted it immediately when an unbearable pain shot up from his hands all the way to his chest. The boy screamed from it, only to discover that he'd been gagged with a disgusting rag. All that came through was a thin keening. The Uchiha chuckled.

"I wouldn't do that, demon. You see…" he reached out to grab Naruto's chin, twisting it violently to the side. Naruto's eyes widened in horror at what he saw. "We've nailed your hands to the table."

Indeed, a shiny metal spike sprouted from the wood he lay on right through the center of his palm. The nail had to be half an inch around, at the very least. When he turned to look, the other one was exactly the same. Naruto felt hot tears spring to his eyes unbidden. How was he going to get out of this? The hurt clouded his mind enough that he found it hard to concentrate on a different man's words.

"We've found out something interesting about you. Did you know that your muscles and bones can heal in a matter of second if injured enough? Why, your hands would be completely fine if not for the nails. In fact, we've found that the sinew healed around them," the man in the corner ginned darkly before gazing at the first man to speak, "Ginta-san, may I begin?"

Ginta smirked again. "Go ahead, Akira-san."

The man now dubbed Akira approached Naruto, bringing a scalpel out of his sleeve. Naruto watched him, tightening his throat. He would not give in to their whims. He would not scream.

The first tiny slice across his throat, he didn't. When the knife crossed his jugular, his muscles bunched in agony but he remained silent. When it was pulled down his cheek to his chin, he whimpered as he bled. The fourth cut, he screamed, along with the fifth and sixth and seven and…

He screamed when Ginta and the remaining man broke his fingers and toes. He screeched when they did the same to his legs. As Akira cut deeper, blood poured over him, and eventually Naruto could feel it pouring inside too. The sadistic man paused long enough for the poor child to swallow, choking t down with what air he could pull in around the gag. He waited long enough for Naruto's skin to seal over with red chakra a bit, so that the life-blood stopped gushing; so that they could continue with their game.

Whenever Naruto started to sink back into blessed oblivion Akira would send a sharp jolt of chakra back to the boy's brain, effectively pulling him back to Hell.

This continued for what seemed like days to Naruto, anguish without end in sight. They broke every tiny piece of him they could find at least once, slicing it to ribbons with the scalpel. Akira especially loved his neck, watching the blood cascade and knowing he held the demon's life in his hands. Oh, sweet power.

Finally he couldn't bear it anymore, cracked but not yet shattered, Naruto's mind sank into dark water.

His final thought was that perhaps they'd found a way to slice his mind to ribbons too.

¤

Naruto awoke and sat up quickly, his eyes darting to take in his surroundings. At first it appeared that he was in a sewer, but a glance in another direction at towering iron bars and a piece of rice paper quickly disproved that. Dark water washed all around him, seeming to shine as id coated in oil. When he looked closer it took on the color of blood.

'You!'

Behind those iron bars loomed the burning red eyes of a giant demon fox. Kyuubi, his nine tails whipping about in fury beyond measure.

Wide-eyed, Naruto couldn't bring himself to say a word, instead scrambling to his feet and meeting the eyes full of rage head on. It seemed that the nine-tailed demon had quite a lot he wanted to say, jaws gnashing with sharp yellow teeth.

'You let them take you, cut you, until all my chakra is spent just keeping your wretched body alive… The seal weakens and still I cannot break free! Again! Again and again you cause this pain, forcing me to heal you. Human scum, murderers of children!' His form crashed against the bars with enough force to make the ground shudder under Naruto's feet.

'I was sealed into a pathetic insect who doesn't even have the decency to keep on living! How many times have I been forced to save you, slime under my paw?' he roared, causing showers of slimy water to fall upon them both. 'Your blood now carries enough of my chakra that you should not even be considered human, and still I am trapped! How many times must I feel your weak human bones break, your sinews tear, your life bleed from us both before I can feel the sun again?!'

Naruto said nothing, simply staring. He might have considered being terrified of the ranting demon if he could still feel. As it were, he thought that maybe somewhere along the line something had pulled until it snapped. He felt blank as a new piece of paper. Kyuubi's claws lunged through the bars at him, stopping a mere hairline from his face. Naruto couldn't bring himself to feel amazed for not even twitching.

'Answer me, human.' The kitsune's hot and foul breath lingered over him, great crimson eyes as tall as he piercing, staring…dripping?

'How long until I can smell the forest, bask in sunlight, be with my kin?' The great demon's voice had dropped to a low, keening whine. Naruto's eyes widened as Kyuubi's form blurred and undulated, shrinking rapidly to take the shape of a tall man, tear stained cheeks all the more prominent. His face twisted into an nasty grimace as Naruto stared, his hands shooting out through the bars to grab the small child's front and jerk him up to eye level, legs dangling in the air.

'I hate you, I hate you! Container, Jinchuuriki, utsuwa, my jailor, I hate you… See how low you and your father have brought me, groveling for a mere glimpse of the outside world when we both barely live!' the fox-turned-human's eyes narrowed, seeming to realize he was babbling. 'I will give you my chakra, pitiable bug, if you free us from this hellish existence. You must become stronger, faster, powerful, less human' His pointed teeth clicked on the last. It would bring him great pleasure to see this human child suffer, but he had no time. They were going to die.

Naruto didn't have time to think. The demon was nearly choking him, but it wasn't asphyxiation he was worried about. He could feel himself fading away. The demon noticed too.

'We will die if you awake as you are now! Tell me, do you agree?!' Kyuubi shook him, snapping his neck back and forth. Finally he steadied enough for Naruto to nod, short and panicked. The demon bared his teeth at him. 'Then the deal is sealed. Take it and leave, human filth!'

His red eyes glowed eerily and Naruto felt chakra burn where the Kyuubi's fist held tight. Suddenly he dropped him, flinging the child into the oily water where he sank beneath the surface.

Kyuubi watched until the human disappeared completely, before turning his back and receding into fox form. He still cried.

'Please, don't ever return…'

¤


A/N: Another chappy out! Please check out my DeviantArt on my homepage. I drew a neat Kyuubi-fied!Naruto that I'm quite proud of. Thanks for reading!