If you're here looking for a happy story, filled with romance and soft words, please go away. We don't want you here. This is a dark story, filled with angst and tragedy and other unpleasant things that are so much fun to read about. What can I say? I'm a sadist at heart.
Warnings: Unnecessarily detailed gore, angst, tragedy, and death.
Disclaimer: These things are a waste of space. I don't know why I even bother to type them.
EDIT: (5/1) Another general sweep, taking out the grammar and spelling errors, while improving on my descriptions and language control.
"I'm... I'm free..."
His whisper was soft and disbelieving, and yet it seemed to echo around the stone walls of the small courtyard. He looked up at the petrified crowd, red-rimmed eyes wide with astonished wonder. Slowly, as if he was in a dream that sudden movement might break, he raised his claws up before his face, flexing them experimentally. Abruptly, he squeezed them into a tight fist, smirking wildly at his frozen audience.
"Free," he said again, but louder this time, more sure of himself. He ran his claws gently through his long, luxurious hair. "Free..."
He tossed back his head and laughed long and hard, a maniacal outburst that sent cold shivers down the spine of everyone who had the misfortune to hear it.
"I'M FREE!" he howled to the skies. Then, still chuckling wildly, trying to control the mirth bubbling inside of him, he turned his gaze back to the people gathered around him. "Nine years," he began, voice thick with malice, "nine years have you imprisoned me. Nine years I have waited for freedom! And now that you've dug your own graves..."
A vicious killing intent swept through the crowd, a potent mixture of pent-up rage and bitterness, bloodlust and glee. A few of the younger ones in the crowd fell to the ground, clutching their heads, eyes wide with tears. He surveyed the crowd, a cold glint in his eyes as he searched for his first victim.
"So many lives to choose from! I don't even know where to start!" he sounded positively cheerful at the thought. No one moved an inch, or even dared to breathe too deeply as he cracked his knuckled absently, the sharp noise echoing around the small space. There was a sudden flurry of movement in the crowd as two villagers snapped and tried to run, pushing frantically through the thick mass of people, struggling to make it to the nearest exit. A sinister smile spread across his face, warping and distorting his features, revealing a mouth filled with large fangs. "I guess my decision just got a lot easier..."
But as he crouched down, low to the ground, ready to pounce, a sudden thought struck him like a bolt of lightening, freezing him in place. "But how...?" Muscles coiled and tense, he rose again to face the crowd, eyes searching. "How? How did this come to be? After nine long years... how is it that I am released? You! Tell me!"
The man he indicated cringed under the vicious glare, his whole frame trembling violently. He lifted his hand and pointed a single, shaky finger.
Kyuubi no Kitsune turned and beheld the tiny body of Uzumaki Naruto, lying in a crumpled and broken heap on the ground.
The giant fox looked stricken, all the rage in his aura dissipating into the air, only to be replaced seconds later with shock, and something akin to horror. Released of his killing intent, the people relaxed the slightest bit, but remained where they stood, still too terrified to move. they watched silently as the fox padded over the where Naruto bled, the giant, lethal claws making delicate clicking noises on the pavement.
"Kit?" he asked, voice soft, making the term of endearment even more shocking to the watchers. "Kit?"
He reached down and nudged the little form gently with his pointed muzzle. The tiny body looked pathetic and fragile in comparison to the great fox. Deep cuts and purpling bruises were scattered across Naruto's back and chest, each one testament to the pain he had endured. One of his arms was brutally twisted, wrenched at an awkward angle and pinned beneath his body. He flopped limply to one side as Kyuubi nudged at him, grinding noises the evidence of broken ribs. His clothing was in tatters and his hair matted with dark red patches, marring the otherwise flawless blond colour. A deceivingly thin line of the red liquid dripped from the corner of his mouth and from his nose, running across his cheek and chin where it dripped into the red puddle congealing on the cement around him.
The worst though, was the bone that jutted out of his shin, like a little bloody white flag of surrender.
The little body that had once been filled with such warmth and life was nothing now, a cold and bloody husk of a person.
Hunched protectively over the tiny body, a great wave of fury crashed through the Kyuubi, a tsunami of hate and rage. Fiery, bloody demonic chakra began to rise from his skin and swirl around him dangerously, lashing out at anyone who got too close. He pivoted quickly, rising to his full height as he faced the crowd. His tails, all nine of them, whipped back and forth violently and relentlessly. Lips curled back into a deadly snarl that revealed his dripping fangs, and a low rumbling growl started deep in his chest. The noise built in intensity, reverberating around the courtyard, dislodging small stones from the cobbled pavement and shaking the air itself. He lowered his powerful form, crouching so low that the fur on his chest brushed the dirt, his muscles coiling like a snake, preparing to lunge-
The nine-tails spun so quickly that he was only a blur of movement, and the sudden motion triggered a shockwave that raced through the crowd, knocking down some of the less prepared ones. Everyone stared in shock as Naruto reached a small, trembling hand toward the fox.
"Kyu... Kyuubi..." he called again, voice weak and thin in the tense air.
"Naruto!" Kyuubi exclaimed, dropping his head down to the small boy. "Kit, don't move! Save your strength."
Those gathered could only hold their breath in horrified astonishment. No one should suffer that much and still be alive.
Surprisingly, Naruto chuckled weakly as he let his hand fall. "I don't think... that saving my strength... will do that much..." Every time he opened his mouth, more blood spotted the pavement. "I'm so sorry... Kyuubi..." he whispered breathlessly, squinting and trying desperately to focus on the fox's red-furred face. The entire area was dead silent, everyone straining to hear that wavering voice.
"Why are you sorry, kit?" the Kyuubi asked gently, voice hesitant.
"Y-Your... your body. I made it..." he paused, struggling to take a breath, "...as large as I could...but it's still... too small..."
"I'm fine, kit, please don't worry about me," the Kyuubi said, sparing a quick glance down at himself. It's true that he was smaller, but was still larger than the largest horse. A question tugged at his brain urgently. "Kit... why did you release me? How?"
That's pretty much what everyone else wanted to know too.
"...Because," Naruto began, "You were my friend... you were always... always there... even if you didn't always want to be..." The blond laughed softly, his attention was wandering now. "...I always knew... how to free you, but... I was selfish. I-I wanted you to stay with me... but... you shouldn't die with me..."
Naruto was panting now, his breath whistling in and out of his lungs audibly. He coughed harshly, splattering red across the Kyuubi's fur. He shuddered violently with pain. "It hurts..." he whimpered, closing his eyes tightly.
"It's okay, kit. I promise, you're going to make it through this. You've survived so much already..." the Kyuubi trailed off as it lay down by Naruto's side, curling his lithe, powerful form around Naruto's frail one. Those great tails, capable of so much destruction, were wrapped gently around the small body, so that he was nearly hidden from the crowd's view. "I'll protect you, kit..."
There was tenderness in his voice, a sort of affection that no one had anticipated hearing from a demon, let alone the most infamous, powerful demon of them all. Several people shifted uncomfortably, unsure of how to take this strange turn of events. The slight movement and low muttering of the crowd caught Naruto's attention, and for the first time he was aware of the watching audience. Ocean eyes opened wide in fear as he saw the sea of faces hovering above him, blurry and unfocused. He struggled to stand and run, but a gentle warning pressure from one of the Kyuubi's many tails stopped him before he could hurt himself any worse. Collapsing weakly back down, Naruto grabbed onto a tail like it was a lifeline, squeezing it weakly as he stared out at the crowd. Finally, he managed to stutter out a single syllable of question, eyes darting between one blurry person and the next.
Several civilians opened their mouths, although what they might have said was unclear even to them. But then the Kyuubi's gaze had shifted from the boy to the mob, eyes red and glaring, and even the bravest closed their mouths with a snap.
"MONSTER!" someone shouted defiantly, from the back of the crowd where they couldn't clearly see the Kyuubi's face. The fox's head snapped around as he looked onto the speaker, killer intent returning immediately. He snarled and pulled his limbs underneath him, ready to stand and tear the man apart, but a tiny weight on his muzzle made him pause.
Naruto's hand rested there, delicate fingers grasping weakly at the smooth fur. The Kyuubi looked down at Naruto, who stared back with eyes that had once been as brilliant as they sky, but were now clouded and dull with pain and tears. "Kit?" he asked gently.
"Don't hurt them."
Almost as soon as the words had left his mouth, guilt and regret tore through the hearts of the listeners with a vengeance, wreaking havoc upon the strongest mind, on the most evil soul. The small boy they had attempted to beat to death, had punched and kicked and ridiculed, was defending them. Defending them against the very creature he had been hated for.
For the first time in their lives, people started to see him not as Naruto, the demon. Now they began to realize him as Naruto, the hero.
But before he could hear the cry, Naruto began to cough harshly, each spasm tearing at his already tender throat. The small hand on Kyuubi's muzzle clenched convulsively, fingers digging deep into the thick fur. Blood rose up in his throat, blocking his airways, choking him. He rolled onto his back, trying to ignore the new, strange position his arm was forced into. Naruto tried to inhale, but found himself unable to pull enough air into his lungs. He was suffocating in his own blood.
A particularly violent cough racked him, and he curled in upon himself instinctively. The new position put pressure on his broken ribs, and one of them dug deep, puncturing the pale flesh wall of his lung.
It was like someone had doused his chest in gasoline and threw on a match. Naruto's chest exploded in pain, the sensation quickly spreading throughout his entire body, making his other injuries scream in protest. Naruto arched his back, broken limbs flopping weakly around him. He tried to scream, but all that came out was a distorted, choking gurgle. Blood began to trickle from the corners of his eyes as pressure inside his skull increased. The Kyuubi whined frantically, trying to force his chakra into the boy, to heal him as he had done so many times before. But all his demonic chakra did was cause fresh burns and tears across Naruto's skin as the boy's chakra system rejected him. Not wanting to hurt the boy further, the fox stopped, staring down at the writhing body helplessly.
The crowd watched in solemn silence.
Naruto's coughs slowed, then stopped entirely. He made a half-hearted effort to take another breath, then simply closed his eyes and lets his body go limp, his hand sliding off the Kyuubi's muzzle and landing on the ground with a tiny thump. His exhale was long, too long, as he emptied his lungs of all air, seeming to deflate slightly.
His blue eyes closed for the last time, and then he was gone.
"No... the Kyuubi whispered into the solemn silence, voice cracking in denial, refusing to believe what all his senses told him. "No! Please, kit, no!"
Desperately, he pushed more chakra at the boy, trying to shock his heart into action. But nothing happened. For all his efforts, Naruto would never move again. After what seemed like an eternity of complete silence, the giant fox uncurled himself from around Naruto, taking great care not to disturb the boy from where he had fallen. He rose to all fours and looked up at the crowd for the first time in awhile, eyes blazing furiously in direct contrast to the despairing, bloody tears that matted the fur around his eyes.
"If it were not for him," the Kyuubi snarled, teeth clicking angrily with every word, "I would kill you all where you stand. But I will honour his last request."
The fox looked down, breathing hard, trying to stop his chakra from reaching out and ripping everyone in the courtyard to shreds. "He was too good for you. For this village. For the world. He died for you!" the Kyuubi hissed suddenly, eyes sweeping over everyone gathered there. "If I do not think that you are living up to his sacrifice, I will return, and I will kill you. And there will be no Yondaime to stop me! Make yourselves worthy. Earn it!"
Casting one last, baleful glare over the crowd, the Kyuubi dropped his muzzle back down to Naruto, touching his face lightly with his nose in one last goodbye. His head raised, and the fox released all his anger and pain in a loud, keening wail that was heard for miles around. Fire blossomed from the ground and swirled around the nine-tails, engulfing him in a tornado of flame. It burned brighter and brighter, forcing everyone to cover their eyes and look away.
And when they looked back, Kyuubi no Kitsune had vanished, taking with him the lifeless body of the boy who was once Uzumaki Naruto.
The sun was shining over Konoha, casting it's warm rays from one end of the village to the other. It was a good day, a peaceful day.
Haruno Sakura smoothed her hair down a final time before pushing open the door to her small classroom and striding inside. Immediately, her eyes were drawn to where her crush, Uchiha Sasuke, sat surrounded by an adoring club of blushing girls. The young girl groaned in and flicked her long, pink hair in annyance when she saw that every seat around him had been filled, and instead went to sit next to Ino, her best friend and rival.
Normally, Ino, being the self-proclaimed gossip queen of Konoha, would start babbling excitedly about the latest hot news. However, today the blonde seemed unusually somber. Almost as soon as Sakura had taken the seat next to her, Ino leaned in close and asked in a low voice, "Hey, did you hear about what happened?"
"No," Sakura frowned. "What is it?"
"Last night, some boy from our class got attacked by some villagers."
Sakura gasped, hands flying to her mouth. " Ohmigosh! Is he okay?"
Ino shook her head solemnly. "He died."
"What?!" For a few seconds, Sakura simply sat there, too shocked to do anything but gape. Then she turned and swiftly counted the number of guys in class. She didn't think anyone was missing. "Was it anyone we knew?"
Ino pondered for a second, tapping her chin with one finger, then shook her head negatively. "Nope, I don't think so."
There was another pause, then:
Well, I warned you at the beginning of the story. Not exactly all butterflies and unicorns. I don't like those. Ah well, we all have our flaws, I suppose. For the record, since I've gotten a few reviews asking about it, this was set when Naruto was only nine years old. Sakura and Ino wouldn't really know who he is yet, so give them a little credit. Not too much though.
As always, I appreciate any feedback.