Yep, it's another story from your friendly neighborhood flake. Yay!
Any who, this is going on the premise of so many other stories, but I hope to make this one more in-depth than other stories have been. Yes, this means that it will be long, involved, and full of detail. I don't want another, 'Oh, hi Kyuubi, give me superpowers' 'Ok, here, now you're suddenly more powerful than Orochimaru for some reason' deals. Naruto ain't going to be some overnight fucking superman. He'll be strong (overnight), sure, but if you're worried about him being too powerful…don't worry about that. Let me worry about that.
As always, reviews help, but flamers can go do various things with various objects with one particular orifice. You know what I mean. The pairings are pretty obvious later on, so that's taken care of. I don't like Sakura, but I won't go overboard with the Sakura bashing. She'll redeem herself at some point.
I don't own Naruto. I ain't getting any money off of this. Lord, I wish I was. I could use it.
Also, I'd like to give props and credit to Islagatt as my beta reader. If you haven't read his stuff, I suggest you do so as soon as possible…it rocks many shades of awesome.
Oh, and I'm a dude. Just setting that straight right now. On with the story.
Sleep didn't seem to be coming easily. It wasn't exactly surprising, considering the events that had taken place only hours before. After all, it wasn't every day that you learned that you had one of the most powerful entities in existence sitting in your belly.
Just hours ago, he had learned that he was the container for the Kyuubi no Kitsune. In a way, it wasn't nearly surprising as it should have been. In fact, if anything, it made him happy. It served to explainso much about the young Nin's life, and the hell of loneliness that he had endured for so long. The stares, the whispered, and not so whispered comments behind his back, and even to his face, calling him a 'monster' and a 'scourge', among other, more colorful adjectives.
Yes, happy was about the closest emotion that he could attribute to his mood right now, but it didn't exactly describe his exact state of mind. No, to describe that, you'd have to look up the word 'pissed' in the dictionary.
Naruto stared at his alarm clock, which read exactly 2:00 A.M. and let out yet another sigh. The whole situation was fucked up. Just plain fucked up. The more he thought about it, the more he became agitated, and even angry. Not at himself, and not really the Kyuubi…but at the village. It was a dangerous line of thinking, and Naruto didn't really want to dwell on it, but every time he tried to push it to the back of his mind, it popped up again, unbidden.
They knew. They fucking knew. The village as a whole, at least those above the age of fourteen or fifteen, knew that he was thecontainer for the Kyuubi. They knew that the Kyuubi wassealed into Naruto…the Kyuubi wasn't transformed, he wasn't somehow given a random human image and a human body, and some sort of uncanny acting ability to act exactly like a human for all this time…he was sealed into a human, and that human was just that…HUMAN.
Regardless of this little tidbit of information, they still treated him like trash.
No, they treated him lower than trash. They treated him as some form of life that didn't even deserve existence, let alone the ability to pursue the daunting task of being a human child.
Pushing away that train of thought, Naruto focused on the more positive aspects of the night...what few there were, anyway. The night hadn't been all bad. He'd helped root out a traitor, he'd mastered a Jounin level 'forbidden' technique, saved his Sensei from sure death...and on top of all that, he'd managed to graduate.
It was strange though. Mizuki, who was obviously a traitor to the village, would probably get more general respect than Naruto would, even after…no, especially because of this incident. After all, Mizuki had simply tried to kill the village's little monster boy, and he was simply grieving, or some such tripe…at least, that's probably how the council would see it. They were always harping on him about something or another. Luckily, Sarutobi stood in the way between them and him.
He made a mental note to buy his surrogate grandfather some ramen at Ichiraku sometime.
Naruto sighed again, for what felt like the hundredth time. The more and more he thought about it, there were precious few reasons for him to stay loyal to this abhorrent village, let alone fight for it...save for the one promise he had made to the Sandaime.
He had promised, when he was still young, oblivious, and impressionable, that he would become a ninja of Konoha. What's more, he had promised to the old man that he would protect the village with his life. Naruto was many things, but among them, he was not someone who broke promises, even when there was a tremendous reason why he should. It simply didn't work that way.
That didn't necessarily mean that he would fight for the village, though. There was no real reason for him to fight for anyone that lived in Konoha, save for the very, very short list of people that he considered to be precious to him. The Sandaime was easily at the top of that list, followed closely by the owners of Ichiraku ramen, Iruka and followed very, very distantly by Uchiha Sasuke, simply because he was one of the first people to ever truly acknowledge his existence beyond that of simply, 'that boy'.
Naruto glanced at his alarm clock again, and silently cursed. It was almost 3 A.M. now, and tomorrow he would be getting assigned teams. He needed sleep, and he needed it badly. He had to be at the very least awake tomorrow during the team assignment ceremony, and he wanted to be at least somewhat prepared for whatever came after that. It never really hurt to be prepared.
Something clicked inside of Naruto's mind…if he couldn't find sleep, then perhaps he could find meditation.
Sitting up, and positioning himself in a cross legged stance on his bed, he closed his eyes, and began…to…do…
On second thought, Naruto had absolutely no idea how to meditate. All he knew was that you had to get in some stupid cross-legged position, close your eyes, and do something…like…centering yourself, or calming yourself…or something like that. Of course, he had absolutely no idea what the hell that meant, only that he had seen something like it on TV, or seen someone do it once. He had no real clue how he was supposed to…
Naruto's train of thought was interrupted by what sounded like a low grumble emanating from his head, and then a sharp, excruciating pain that hit him in both his stomach, and in the back of his head at the same time. Naruto thought that perhaps he was under attack, until he noticed that there was truly no one else with him. The pain increased in both intensity and volume, and as Naruto saw a slight red aura envelop his body, his mind began to drag him into unconsciousness.
The first thing he noticed was the smell. It smelled like fear. Scratch that, it practically reeked of fear…or something that sought to induce it. Naruto wasn't entirely sure that fear would produce a smell, but if there were to be a smell attributed to fear, this would be it.
Naruto got up and surveyed his surroundings. It looked to be a sewer of some kind, and there looked to be pipes and conduits all over the place, as well as a thin layer of water covering the ground. On either side of him were what looked like passages. As he walked on, he could make out that some of these passages had doors with extremely tight padlocks, and others simply became dead ends. However, as he neared the end of the hallway he was in, he surveyed one passage that ended in a bright flash of light that blocked anyone from seeing past it, without first entering it. It was really the only path available.
He stumbled down the hallway, and as he stepped into the light, he could vaguely make out what looked to be…a gate? Walking closer, the light, quite suddenly, was no longer obscuring his vision, having seemingly melted behind him.
Yes, it was certainly a gate. A gate with intricate patterns carved out along the bars, and a flimsy piece of paper in the middle, with the Kanji for 'seal' written in the middle. Everything beyond the gate, however, was pitch black, and no matter how much Naruto strained, he couldn't see what might be beyond it.
That particular quandary was quickly answered, however. As Naruto approached the bars, a smiling, and particularly terrifying visage made itself known to Naruto, and as much as he wanted to back away from the bars, he found that his legs had suddenly seemed to stop obeying his mind. What a terrible time for insubordination.
Both Naruto and the…entity…stared at each other for what seemed to be forever, before the frightening visage broke the stalemate and began laughing. It was a deep, bellowing laugh that was quite possibly the most evil sounding thing that Naruto had ever heard in his life, and yet, it carried an undertone of mirth to it that was quite hard to ignore. It was…confusing, to say the least. Naruto was about to voice his confusion to…whatever it was…when the visage began speaking.
"The look on your face was absolutely priceless. I haven't seen a look like that on anyone's face for a...long time." Naruto was now more perturbed than anything, and was about to speak up, again, when he was interrupted…again.
The entity behind the bars let forth a sound like an exasperated sigh. "Undoubtedly, you're wondering just where you are, who I am, and why you are here, right?" Before Naruto could respond in the positive, the entity continued. "Well…the answer to the first two is rather simple. We are in your mind, and I am, of course..."
The entity...puffed out its chest? "...The great Kyuubi no Kitsune!"
As did the Kyuubi.
Kyuubi continued, as his declaration seemed to fall flat. It grumbled slightly. "...as to exactly why you're here…well, that is going to take considerably more explanation."
Here, the fox seemed to pause in contemplation. Naruto waited for quite some time and allowed the first bit of information to sink in. He was talking to the Kyuubi. What's more, he was somehow corporeal within his own mind. It didn't make a tremendous amount of sense, but he couldn't really chalk it up to being some sort of bad dream or anything...it was too lucid for that...so, for the moment, he accepted the fox's explanation.
Naruto waited for the fox to begin again, but when it seemed as though no explanation was forthcoming, he decided to take the initiative, and this time, he was not going to be interrupted.
"Well? I'm in my mind, and I'm talking to a bastard demon fox, now, why am I talking to you?" Naruto gave the fox his best 'angry' glare, but against something that reeked of malice like this, it didn't really do much. Not to mention the fact that the fox looked even more amused than he did before.
"Impatient, aren't we?" He chuckled. "Then again, when you have the lifespan of a human, I suppose time would be at a premium, wouldn't it?" He sighed. "I wouldn't worry about it. Although you're talking to me in here, the time that is passing out there in the real world is going considerably more slowly than it is in here. After all, even though you may be dense, the mind does move faster than the body."
Kyuubi laughed boomingly. "Besides, this gives us more than enough time for the rather lengthy conversation we are about to have."
Naruto gulped just slightly after the fox said 'lengthy'…it certainly didn't bode well for whatever it was that the fox wanted to talk about.
The fox sat down on his haunches, licking its chops and breathing shallowly, as if fully at rest. "Simply put, now that you actually know of my existence, it's time that both you and I attempt to make the best of this rather…unfortunate…situation. Before, I had the luxury of being able to simply sleep my days away and plot various dastardly things that I would do when or if I ever managed to escape this horrible prison. However, now that you know I'm here, undoubtedly, you're going to get into a situation where you'll call upon my power, either consciously or not. As such, I propose that we make a deal. Or rather, several deals, regarding my situation, as well as your situation out there."
Kyuubi leaned down so that his nose was very close to his own. It was intimidating as hell, if he were honest with himself.
"You see, I know much more about you than you do about me. During the time I've been cooped up in this infernal cage, I've been able to observe both your life, and your bodily processes, and I've been able to concoct a rather…fortunate…deal that will, in the end, make both of us more happy."
At this, the Kyuubi paused for a moment, allowing Naruto to absorb what the Kitsune had just said. Call upon the fox's power? Deals? Being happy? If the fox had been observing his life, then surely he had to know that it hadn't exactly been fun…he quietly prayed that the fox had an empathetic nerve somewhere in his body.
Naruto made a smart decision for once in his life, and simply plopped himself down on the cold ground of the cell, falling quiet to listen to whatever it was that the fox was proposing.
The fox, again, sat back on his haunches. "Good boy." Naruto glared petulantly, and Kyuubi just laughed…but continued soon after.
"Since you are obviously at a disadvantage here, information wise at least, I'll start off with a few acts of 'good faith'. The first things you should know are..." It sighed, muttering something about clichés. "...predictably, about both my deductions regarding your family line, and the purposes of the seals…yes,seals, plural, that were placed on you when I was sealed into you." At the word 'family', Naruto scrambled up and stared wide eyed at the visage in front of him, eyes slightly quaking in both apprehension and barely contained anticipation.
Naruto had wanted…no, dreamed of having a family, or, at the very least, knowing who his family was, for as long as he could remember. It was one of the things in life that he wanted more than anything else, and this...fox…was willing to tell him who his parentage was, even when other's wouldn't. Naruto wasn't entirely sure whether he should be thanking the fox, or cursing those who had withheld the information of his heritage from him for so long. Perhaps, he should be doing both.
"You know…you know who my family was? I'm not going to ask how or anything but…please, just tell me!" Naruto was beside himself at this point. He didn't care about any of the consequences, he had to know, and he would give almost anything to know.
The fox merely smiled…not a tremendously evil smile either, but one that seemed at least somewhat genuine…as genuine as a smile from an evil fox demon can get, anyway. "Oh, but how I know is as much a part of the story as the information itself is." The fox seemed to contemplate his words again, and then faced Naruto with his normal look back in place.
The next words out of the fox demon's mouth, however, were as unexpected as his actions. "Understandably, this form I have right now is undoubtedly a hindrance to our continued conversation. Hold on for a few moments, while I slip into something more comfortable…" The fox seemed to chuckle slightly at this, and Naruto saw the visage disappear. For a few minutes, he simply sat there, his mind a comfortable blank, until something he certainly didn't expect to see, walked right back up to the bars of the cage. It sat down directly parallel to Naruto on the other side of the virtual gulf that separated them.
She was gorgeous. By any standards of the word, the being that sat in front of Naruto was the very picture of beauty and grace. She had bright, dazzlingly red hair that flowed down to the middle of her back as a waterfall might cascade off of a mountain top. Her skin was a pale alabaster, and her face was a visage of femininity. It gently curved down the sides and sloped perfectly in all the right places. She had whisker marks, just as Naruto did, just thicker, and her eyes were a burning red with vertical, slitted pupils that reminded Naruto very much that this beauty sitting in front of him was the Kyuubi no Kitsune. She wore a dark maroon Kimono with pink sakura petals adorning it as if they were falling. The Kimono didn't show off much, however it served to accentuate her curves almost perfectly, almost as if it were a second skin. This was all accentuated by a bright red, flower patterned obi tied in a bow in the back around her midsection.
What Naruto's eyes were inextricably drawn to, however, was what adorned her neck. What looked to be a jet black collar was around her neck, with blood red kanji written on it that Naruto couldn't quite discern from his vantage point. For whatever reason, it fascinated Naruto to look upon it, and only when Kyuubi cleared her throat, did Naruto return to his senses.
Now that he had his senses about him once again, he noticed something else about the girl in front of him. She looked to be no older than Naruto. She was developed, yes, but not overly so, and she was only a few inches taller than Naruto. Her facial features as well as certain curves about her didn't really seem to make her look any older or any younger than Naruto himself. Naruto was now curious.
"Why is it that you don't look any older than me? I mean, you're like, thousands of years old right?" Naruto gave the Kyuubi a quizzical expression as he asked the question, but she just scoffed.
This time, when she spoke, it was no longer that booming, ethereal voice that she held before, but rather a very feminine, alto pitched voice that sounded as though she could be any girl of 12 or 13. It still held an undercurrent of…something…though…that made it sound authorative. "I look this old, because this is how old I choose to make myself. I am after all, a pseudo immortal being, and I can choose to make myself look as old or as young as I need to be or want to be. It's one of the perks of being what I am." At this, Naruto seemed to gain a look of almost understanding on his face, and adorned what could be construed as a smile on his face.
"Amazing…who would ever think that the Kyuubi would be a chick! All that destruction and stuff, and the deep booming voice, coming from a girl!" At this, Naruto began laughing rather hard, and a vein on Kyuubi's forehead grew to epic proportions.
She sounded pissed off, but far less intimidating than before. "Of course, society would think that it was a male causing all of this destruction…after all, that's pretty much all they're good for…aside from reproduction."
Naruto stopped laughing and gave Kyuubi a puzzled expression. "Was that an insult?"
"Oh…you're not very good at those, are you?"
"You know, I could just boot you out of here, and never tell you what you want to know."
Naruto scrambled to his prior position sitting down quietly...or not so quietly, as it were. "WHAT? No! No, no, no, keep going, please…I'll shut up…"
Kyuubi smirked."Good. You're learning. Now, hold still and listen well."
The boy did what he was told, and Kyuubi noted his facial expression...one of rapt attention and barely contained excitement.
She took it as a cue to begin her explanation. "As I said before, the reason behind me knowing who your family is…or at least, parent...as I've yet to figure out whom one of your progenitors was, is just as important as the information itself."
She began pacing somewhat. "When I was first sealed into you, eventually, I noticed that there was a small, consistent chakra drain coming from me that never stopped, or even wavered, no matter what I, or you did. At first I thought it was some sort of function of the seal, trying to get you used to my chakra, but by then, I had noticed that my own chakra intermingled with yours on a regular basis. This smaller chakra drain was the function of something else entirely, and in time, I was able to figure out what it was.
The Kyuubi paused only momentarily, to see that the expression on Naruto's face was one of concentration and deep thought. Frankly, the Kyuubi was impressed that he was capable of such feats. Undaunted, she continued. "The chakra drain was…is…due to something known as an Impression Seal. It is an arcane and almost extinct seal that has not been used in a very long time…" She tapped her chin in contemplation for a moment. "...almost 200 years if I remember correctly." She shrugged. "To be perfectly honest, I have no clue why it was used on you, as it seems almost counter-intuitive to do so."
Her pacing increased in tempo, as Naruto became even more enraptured...even though she was sure he didn't understand half of what she was saying.
Regardless, she continued. "Impression seals are used to bind characteristics of one person to another. For example, if...say...Sasuke's father were to use the impression seal on him, Sasuke would gain almost exact genetic characteristics of his father…his appearance would change, his bone structure would change…all traces of his mother's side of DNA would be completely obliterated from him. In essence, he would become a pseudo-clone of his father. He would still retain some original genetic characteristics; however they would have to be of the anomalous sort to actually qualify not to be wiped from his genetic structure."
Here, Kyuubi paused again, to see a tremendously confused looking Naruto staring back at her. Barely repressing a sigh, she thought up a better paraphrasing than the long drawn out explanation she was going to give. "Basically, Naruto, if…your father…lets say…were to use this seal on you, you would look almost exactly like him, and your body would be almost exactly like him, down to the basest functions of your brain and your organs, as well as your chakra. Your mother's traits would be purged from you." At this, Naruto seemed to have comprehension dawn on him, and nodded his head, a bit too dumbstruck to say anything.
She sighed slightly at his obliviousness, but kept pacing and thinking and reciting her conclusions. "The problem with impression seals, however, is multi-fold." She counted off 'one' on her index finger. "Firstly, since impression seals have to interact with your own DNA, at least at the basest level, the person who used the impression seal, and the receiver of the seal, would have to be the closest of relatives. Father to son, brother to brother, mother to daughter, sister to sister, etc. If the person who used the impression seal is not sufficiently a match with your own DNA, then your own genetic structure will crumble, and..."
She paused and gave Naruto a grave look...mostly meant to freak Naruto out more than anything.
"...you will die."
Naruto's expression paled somewhat at this revelation, and his eyes were as wide as saucers. Again, Kyuubi continued on before any questions could be asked, though, inwardly she was satisfied at his terror.
"Another problem with the impression seal is that it takes a constant amount of chakra to maintain." She counted off 'two' on her middle finger. "This is due to the way the seal actually works. When a cell in the body divides, normally, it is an exact copy of the cell it just divided from. The Impression seal changes that. Whenever a cell divides in your body, the seal uses a small amount of chakra to force the genetic structure of that cell to change to fit the impression. Even though the original divided cell was already impressed, the impression seal cannot, no matter how much chakra you give it, influence the process by which new cells are made. "
She frowned, as if figuring something out in her rambling of consciousness. "In essence, the cell will always divide into a genuine and an impressed copy...and the genuine copy will then become impressed, and so on. In this case, the seal is using my chakra to accomplish this." Kyuubi shook her head. "The problem stems from the fact that a small amount of chakra from me is a fairly large amount of chakra from you. If the impressed person were to run out of the necessary chakra, the seal would still keep trying to impress, and not only would this put you at risk of chakra exhaustion, but it would also fuck up your genetic structure tremendously, as cells would be being divided, and then only partially impressed, due to lack of chakra."
Kyuubi gave Naruto a wry smile...who still looked dumbfounded, even more than before. "You can also imagine placing the impression seal on someone who does not have a large enough chakra reserve to even operate the seal in the first place, such as babies, or civilians with no Shinobi background. It would be genetic pandemonium, not to mention that it completely messes up your chakra control. That is why the Impression Seal was actually able to be used on you. You have a source of almost never-ending chakra inside of you, so the chances of you suffering chakra exhaustion, or of having cells only partially impressed, is next to nil."
She finally stopped pacing, instead choosing to sit down on the floor, legs crossed. She looked directly into Naruto's ocean blue eyes, seeing only confusion, but...happiness, at least, at having something explained to him. She smiled, but just barely.
"In older days, the seal was used to bind bloodline limits, or 'Kekkai Genkai' to those children who failed to inherit their family's bloodline limits, and to those parents who gave birth to new bloodlines. The problem with this, is that unless the impression seal is put on someone at birth, that person will invariably…well, almost invariably, die. After a certain age, a person's body is set in its ways, so to speak. Any attempt to change that, and the impression seal will break down the genetic structure more quickly than the new genetic structure can be implemented. The only way that people found this out, was that it never worked to use the aforementioned seal on the aforementioned parents of new bloodlines. In every case, save for one that I can remember, and that was a fluke, the parent died."
She leaned back and supported herself with her arms, her face mostly impassive. "As you can imagine, it's near impossible most times to figure out if someone does or does not have a bloodline limit at birth, unless it's a Doujutsu type such as the Byakugan or the Sharingan's trademarked pitch black eyes. As such, parents began impressing children at birth, regardless of if they thought the child had the bloodline limit or not. The problem with that is that an impressed person can not reproduce."
She waved her hands dismissively, seeing Naruto's semi-creeped out expression. "I'll spare you the birds and the bees talk; suffice it to say that it simply doesn't work. If you try to unimpress someone, so they can properly reproduce, and it turns out that they don't have the bloodline limit naturally, then, well, you're fucked, aren't you?
Kyuubi almost chuckled at Naruto's weird expression of being completely lost. She continued anyway. "In this, they also found out the hard way that a male cannot be impressed by a female, and vice versa. This meant that if the bloodline limit came from the female branch of a given family, then only females would be able to be impressed. Same with males. You can imagine the shit that caused."
After a moment of staring into space, Kyuubi looked back down to see what Naruto's overall mental state was like. She sighed.
He looked as though he had a mix of confusion, understanding, concentration, and thoughtfulness on his face all at the same time. In all reality, it was quite humorous, and the Kyuubi would have let a small giggle spring forth at the look Naruto was giving her, if it weren't so damned exasperating.. Regardless, she figured that she should wrap up the explanation, and just cut to the chase…after all, Naruto wasn'tquite smart enough to truly comprehend what she was saying…yet.
She sighed and stood, leaning on the cage. "Basically, Naruto, the seal was more trouble than it was worth. However, in your case, it was perfect, at least in pure usage. Your father was able to place the impression seal on you, to make you look his spitting image, although, I'm not entirely sure why. Nearest I can tell, your father did not have any bloodline limit, nor did he have anything to pass on to you that you could not have gained through regular means."
She rather suddenly became serious, and Naruto's attention picked up exponentially, even if he was still completely and totally confused."In this case, the impression seal was placed on you just after birth, and considering that you had a multitude of seals placed upon you, the seal had to have been done literally within seconds of the actual seal holding me in, so that it could mesh with all of the other seals, without causing conflicts. Since the only person near you and me when I was sealed was the Yondaime, this means that only he could have done this seal."
Kyuubi crouched down and looked directly in the eyes. They entranced him, somehow."All of this means; the same person who sealed me into you, also gave you your impression seal. Since that person had to have been close family, and male, that leaves the possible relations to a brother, or a father. Seeing as how the Yondaime at the time of sealing was roughly thirty years older than you are, it's safe to assume that the Yondaime Hokage of Konoha is..."
She looked as serious as he'd ever seen anyone look. "…your father."
She stopped her impromptu speech, and was somewhat miffed to see that the expression on Naruto's face was nigh deadpan. She figured that he was simply shocked at the moment, though.
Hell, he had just found out who his biological father was after twelve years, anyone would be shocked speechless by such a revelation.
Naruto, true to the Kyuubi's estimates, sat there for what seemed like hours, shocked...completely stunned. The magnitude of what Kyuubi had said lay heavy on his shoulders, and his mind threatened to shut down.
One thought, though, was running through Naruto's mind at high speed.
The Yondaime…was my father. I am the son of the Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure.
He was absolutely oblivious to Kyuubi who had a slightly concerned look on her face for the blonde container. He didn't even notice himself exiting the Kyuubi's chamber, and blacking out, until unconsciousness claimed him.
The Kyuubi simply sat back and let forth a bellowing chuckle within her cage, before stalking off back into the recesses of it. "Well, he took that better than I thought. I'll explain the rest of it to him later." Kyuubi simply let forth another chuckle and got to work on her project. When Naruto woke up, he'd be in for quite the surprise.
Naruto was floating. It seemed like it anyway. All around him were cogs and various forms of machinery, churning towards an unknown task that Naruto couldn't quite comprehend.
One thing drew Naruto's attention. The cogs were beginning to disappear. One by one, the cogs and wheels of the machinery simply crumbled and fell away into nothingness, to be replaced only seconds later by another cog…except…the new cogs looked…they felt…they were better than the previous ones. They felt unencumbered somehow, and moved with a more precise rhythm than their predecessors. Slowly, every cog in sight had been replaced by one of the new cogs, and the cacophony of sound that greeted Naruto was deafening, yet comforting. It was a raging tumult of activity, yet it was calm at the same time. It seemed to…work…better than it had before.
Suddenly, Naruto was transported away from the room of machines, and came upon a different place. He was in the middle of a crystal, it seemed, and the light filtering into it seemed to be…wrong. The frequency was wrong, discordant. Just as suddenly as he came upon the crystal, he heard a cracking sound…and saw part of the crystals imperfect exterior fall away, as so much unused trash. The crystal was being molded, cut, shaped, perfected…sharpened. The frequency slowly became a gentle hum, and the light focused. The crystal became beautiful, even from the inside, and it seemed to exude a blue…red…violet, almost…glow.
Slowly, he found that the crystal was placed upon a pedestal in the same room that he had been in before. The cogs churned around him at an even more fevered pace, with an even more calming and dulcet rhythm...and the crystal seemed to glow, giving power to these cogs as they never had before. They became one and the same, Crystal with Machine, the red and blue glow seeming to harmonize and flow, becoming as a river and a well might…parallel, yet different.
Throughout it all, there had been a nagging…pain…almost as if parts of him were breaking free and another was crumbling. The pain had been…necessary…somehow…although he couldn't place the reason. He sat and listened to the hum of the crystal and the sound of meticulous machinery working perfectly within itself. It was comforting. The pain was gone now. He laid back and found himself given to a long and peaceful slumber.
Kyuubi smiled. Mind and body, her chakra, and his chakra…without the seal, they flowed…they congealed. They worked together. And it was wondrous. Kyuubi felt the familiar calm of Naruto's deep slumber, and waited for the young blonde…prodigy…to realize the difference. Today would be a good day. Today would be the first day of the rest of Naruto's…the real Naruto's…long and prosperous life.
Uzumaki Naruto had come to a decision. He hated…despised…absolutely abhorred alarm clocks. They were a bane on all of human existence. Should he ever by some miracle become Hokage, his first official act would be to hold a grand alarm clock bonfire. It would be the greatest day in the history of the leaf.
More than that...had he just used 'abhor' and 'bane' in a sentence?
His sleep-addled brain discarded the notion categorically.
Naruto brought his fist down upon his hapless alarm clock, ending its relatively short life with an unceremonious crunch. Feeling oddly satisfied, he threw off his covers and sat himself upright in his bed.
That's where he noticed it.
Either the bed had gotten shorter, or he'd gotten taller.
It wasn't a tremendous difference, maybe 4 inches in total, but it was enough…especially in one night…his toes unexpectedly met the floor long before he thought they would, not giving him time to anticipate the cold sensation that would permeate his feet soon thereafter. He allowed himself a small shudder, and then opened his eyes for the first time that day.
He had definitely gotten taller. This was evidenced by the fact that the cuffs of his pajama bottoms were now hovering somewhere around the middle of his calves. His pajama top was also unexpectedly short, and constraining. What a bother. He resigned himself to finding some ingenious way to get a new pair of pajamas during the day.
It would truly be…troublesome. Yes, that word fit the situation rather well.
Naruto sat up and went about his normal daily ritual in his room. He had gathered the things he needed for his shower, and stepped into the bathroom, when he saw his reflection in the mirror.
Immediately, he knew something was…off…about his appearance. There was simply something that wasn't quite right with it, but his still sluggish brain wasn't quite up to the task of figuring it out...at least, not yet.
Naruto stepped into the shower and performed the various acts that one performs in the shower, noting that certain other…appendages…had grown, along with his unexpected growth spurt last night. He filed that tidbit of information away in a part of his brain that was marked 'do not open until puberty'.
Stepping out of the shower, he quickly dried himself off, and then positioned himself in front of the sink to brush his teeth. He was now more than sufficiently awake to process information about himself, and he stared at his reflection for a good fifteen seconds before he gasped and dropped the toothpaste.
His eyes. By god, his eyes…where once there had been two cerulean orbs, as blue as the ocean, and just as deep…there were now two pitch black, almost pupil-less depths.
They also seemed to be slightly smaller as well, and…
He noticed other things now, too. His hair. Instead of the incessantly bright golden blonde locks that had once rested as a mop might on a stick…bad analogy…his hair was…darker…bordering on dark yellow, but not quite reaching it. It was certainly darker…and longer…and unruly…
His face had elongated, that much was absolutely certain…it was slight, no more than a few centimeters or so…but he looked…he didn't really know if he could place the look. It was harder, more edged. Older.
His whisker marks, which had been there since as long as he could remember, were now even more refined than they were before. They seemed thicker, and instead of simply being black streaks along his cheeks, they were now clefts along his cheeks, extending back and thickening slightly as they reached his jaw line. The whisker marks, along with two slightly longer canine teeth in his mouth, gave him an almost animalistic appearance…like…a…
Naruto became...quite angry. He looked more like a fox.
It wasn't that he didn't like the look…far from it. But he was already fucked over from the villagers every day for being the damned incarnation ofher…looking even more like a fox probably wouldn't help things.
He forced himself to brush his teeth and perform the other morning rituals that needed doing in the bathroom, and then marched into his room, immediately calling out in his mind...hoping that his tenant could hear him.
'You fucking fox! What the hell did you do to me?" Silence for a moment. "ANSWER ME!'
A yawn, almost. 'Hmm…what…oh…g'morning to you too, sunshine.'
He actually growled, something he wasn't aware he could do. 'I'll ask one more time. What did you do to me?'
Naruto hard her scoff in his mind. 'Geez, if I would have known you would develop this type of attitude, I would never have done you the favor of removing the impression seal in the first place. Ungrateful cur.'
From angry to stunned in a half second. '…Wait…what?'
There were a few seconds of silence, and what sounded like an exasperated sigh...he got the distinct impression she had just face palmed. 'Why do I even try…look, I removed your impression seal. It took some doing, but I managed it. The Impression seal was the only seal directly connected to my chakra without a buffer to prevent me from simply flooding it with my chakra and breaking it. I have a feeling that it was designed that way on purpose, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth."
A deep breath."Because your seal broke, I was able to successfully reverse its effects. In the time it took you to get a good nights sleep last night…for lack of a better word, I fixed you.'
Naruto was at a loss. The evil and horrible…he thought…Kyuubi no Kitsune had done him a favor. A huge favor, it seemed.
In the process of one night, he had grown, his appearance had changed, and he felt…now that he really took time to notice it, he felt better.
He felt better than any day in his life. His thoughts weren't cluttered, his body wasn't nearly as sluggish as it normally was…he could compose sentences with words larger than 'RAMEN!' and, he actually…he felt calm. As calm as he could get, considering the situation anyway.
Naruto was silent for a few moments, as he decided the best course of action. He supposed...when someone did you a favor...you thanked them...but...thanking Kyuubi? It didn't make sense.
He did it anyway. 'I guess…well…thanks. Still…I can understand the physical changes, but…'
She preened from the fact Naruto had thanked her, but she didn't show it in the slightest. 'You are undoubtedly wondering why you think more clearly, and you are more calm, eh? It's slight, but it's noticeable, I'm sure. I told you yesterday, the impression seal affects absolutely everything about you. This includes your brain, and therefore your mind. Your thought processes are now…natural…for lack of a better word. This means that you can think more clearly, you can be calmer than you used to be, now that you aren't tremendously chemically imbalanced, and you will probably have a much easier time of retaining knowledge. In essence, you're no longer…dumb." She snorted. "You're still an idiot though.'
For once, he actually sounded thoughtful. Another effect of the seal's absence, she was sure. 'So…I'm…smarter than I was…and I can think more clearly than I could before…" He stopped and then in a slightly more angry voice, continued. "...wait, how am I an idiot if everything you just said is true?'
She sighed again. 'Simple. You may be smarter, you may be calmer, you may be able to use deductive reasoning and retain knowledge much easier than before, but you still only have the knowledge that you have gained up until now. What you know hasn't changed at all; the only thing that has changed is the fact that you can now, much more easily, remedy that. Well, that and the fact that any information you retained involuntary will now be slightly more accessible. You've probably already caught yourself saying things or thinking things you didn't know you knew, right? Another effect of your brain chemistry being 'reset'.'
Naruto mulled over that for a moment. He was smarter...his brain was 'fixed'...things he had known before, but didn't know he knew, were now fully cooperating at being accessed...it was like something had come through and run a scrub brush along his mind. It felt...clean...almost.
He let a small smile...a true smile grace his lips for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.
It felt good.Damn did it feel good. Soon, before he even realized it, he was chuckling, and then, even laughing.
He was happy. He wasn't short anymore...he looked better, at least in his opinion. He was…unencumbered. For the first time in his life, he was completely unencumbered.
He was Naruto. He wasn't his father's impression, nor was he just the container…he was Naruto.
It was then that he remembered something that brought him back down to earth, so to speak.
No one had ever given him anything without expecting something in return...not even the Sandaime. Even if his 'repayments' had been imaginary or promises to be good...or some such things. That...and he remembered...that Kyuubi had talked about making 'deals'...
'…what do I owe you for this? You said we were making deals…is this one of your 'acts of good faith', or…'
Kyuubi chuckled slowly, but without any real malice. 'Heh, see, you're already smarter than you were. What I want is relatively simple. I want OUT.'
His expression and demeanor hardened faster than he thought possible. 'No. No fucking way. I may not like this village, but under no circumstances will I EVER relea-'
Interrupting seemed to be her forte. 'See, I told you that you were still an idiot. Do you really think that I would think you would release the seal?" She scoffed again, and her voice was decidedly condescending. "You weren't that stupid before, and you certainly aren't that stupid now." She stopped for a moment, before continuing in a far more...defeated...tone. "Besides…as much as I hate to admit it, the seal is what keeps both of us alive. If you were to release the seal, I would not be set free. I would die...and so would you.'
That took him aback. 'What? That doesn't really make any sense...the seal holds you in, it doesn't kill you, and it doesn't…well, I suppose it doesn't really hurt me…'
She sighed. 'Remember when I told you that there were a multitude of seals placed on you? The Shiki Fuuin is simply the primary seal; there are probably a good sixty to seventy other seals on you, most of them simply regulating chakra usage." Another pause."However, there was a…backup seal placed underneath all of them, just in case the Shiki Fuuin was ever broken. If the Shiki Fuuin ever dissipates, either by being released, or by brute force, the secondary seal kicks in, and immediately kills you, using the power of your soul to kill me in the process. In essence, I am stuck in here, until you die. Period.'
He paused, and digested the new information. 'I see. So...how are you 'getting out' as it were?'
Naruto noticed Kyuubi's voice become almost hesitant, but still determined. '...did they ever teach you about summoning contracts in the Academy?'
He gave what amounted to a mental shrug. 'I remember it in passing…just a little bit though. You sign a contract with 'special' animals, and in turn you get to summon them to you for battle or whatever...something like that.'
In turn, she mentally 'nodded'. 'Essentially, yes. You sign a contract with a certain type of animal, ranging from slugs to toads to bears to…well, there are lots of them. One of them is with…well…me. With the Kitsune, more specifically. Considering that I'm the most powerful of the Kitsune, I hold the contract. What I want you to do is quite simple…sign it. By doing so, you'll be able to summon my consciousness from here into either a Kitsune form, or even into human form that I showed you earlier, even though I'll be able to change my form at any time, given the circumstances of course."
She immediately felt him tense up.
With an almost impatient note to her voice, she sighed. "Note that I said 'consciousness'…not my body. You will be able to regulate exactly how much power I have at any given time.'
He relaxed, but only slightly. She figured he needed a full explanation. 'You remember that collar you saw on my neck when you were your mindscape? This is directly related to that. There is a seal on me that assures that if my consciousness were ever to escape the seal, that it would be directly tied to your own. In essence, it's a collar and a leash, which you hold. I'm only as powerful as you allow me to be, and I only do what you let me." After a short pause, her voice took on an annoyed, embarrassed, and decidedly angry tone. "It's…humiliating…to be subservient to such a…human as yourself, but I don't have a choice, now do I?'
There was a decidedly long and pregnant pause, during which Naruto seemed to be thinking rather hard. Kyuubi waited with bated breath.
'Well...I suppose it's...ok. I...trust you, I guess.'
It was Kyuubi's turn to be taken aback. '…you…you trust me? I'm the Kyuubi no Kitsune...I'm the reason why you're hated and lonely, I've killed tens of thousands in the time I've existed, including your father, and probably your mother…and you trust me? Excuse me...but I find that a tad hard to believe. You're not supposed to trust me...not at all."
Another mental shrug...but this time, accompanied by a general sense of seriousness. 'I don't really have a reason not to. You're one of only a handful of people that have ever done something nice for me. I mean...in the course of one night, you've for all intents and purposes, completely made me into a different person, and a person that I think I can like being. You've earned at least a modicum of my trust for that much."
He paused again...but continued with a more subdued tone. "Besides, all those...things... you mentioned...up to and including the possible killing of my parents, are completely in the past. I can't change them, just as you cannot escape this seal."
With a far more exasperated sigh than any he'd ever heaved, he put his head in his hand and rubbed his temples. "I still do hold a small amount of...resentment, I guess...for the death of my father…but…you're being punished for your crimes already, right? And the fact that you're willing to help me simply solidifies the thought in my mind that you're worthy of…maybe a second chance, I guess.'
Kyuubi was once again completely taken aback. The fact that Naruto trusted her was…almost unbelievable. The even more shocking fact that he believed her worthy of a second chance was absolutely beyond her realm of rational thought. He knew what she was, he knew what she had done, yet…this one act of kindness that she had given him…
She let a small smile, a true smile, form on her lips. Perhaps living with this boy wasn't going to be such a harsh existence after all.
This was her punishment for her 'crimes', and she, at this very moment, came to accept that. This time, it was her turn to thank him.
Her voice was much more...human. 'Thanks. That…really means a lot to me. I suppose since you trust me, and I trust you…a little…we can work together on making our lives a little bit more livable, eh?'
What passed for a ghost of a smile formed on Naruto's lips. 'Sure. As long as you answer me one question.'
She raised an eyebrow. 'Uh…ok? What'd you want to know?'
Naruto flopped on his bed, staring at the ceiling. 'I've been thinking. My…appearance…it can't all be from the impression seal. Genetics is all well and good, but that doesn't explain why I look more like a fox instead of simply like a different type ofhuman." His voice got a bit frostier. "You're keeping something from me…and even though I trust you, I want to know what it is.'
After a small silence, he heard her grumble. 'Shit…I knew that you getting smarter was going to be a double-edged sword for me…fine. I told you that the whole reason that I was able to break the impression seal on you, was because there was no active buffer between me and the seal, right? I was simply able to flood it with my Chakra, and break it. However…there was a bit of an unintended and unforeseen side effect. While there wasn't a buffer connected to the Impression seal, there was a Suppressing seal connected to it. "
She sighed. "The suppressing seals…yes, again, seals, plural…are directly connected to my own chakra capacity. There are thirty of them present within the Shiki Fuuin overseal. Each of them holds back exactly 1/30th of my own power from completely intermingling with your own. When the one connected to the impression seal broke, that suppression seal also broke, and gave you your first real taste of my power. Because of this, you were irrevocably changed. You gained certain attributes of mine, and the greater majority of those just happened to be physical manifestations of a fox.'
He sounded inordinately surprised. 'So wait…whenever you release these 'suppression' seals, I'll look more like a fox every time?'
Her voice got harder, as if to dissuade him from getting angry. 'No. In this case, there is a major difference. My chakra, when intermingled and fused with your own, can only change you so much. Only in cases where I force my chakra into you, or you force it into yourself of your own volition, will your appearance change more towards that of a fox. It's the difference between absorption and transference. This is as far as my own chakra is going to affect you, as long as it's actually your chakra, and not my own.'
He tapped his chin. He actually tapped his chin, like someone trying to be all intelligent. Kyuubi rolled her eyes.
'Interesting. I suppose I can live with that." His voice got happier, and he actually smiled. "Besides, it makes me more powerful right? And my whisker marks look badass now, not just cute, as I've been told before. That's always a good thing."
Kyuubi, in his mind, just shook her head in annoyance, but with a small smile.
Naruto continued unabated. "Anyway…I believe we were discussing the summoning contract. When do you want me to sign it? Or...a better question...how exactly am I supposed to sign it?'
She mentally shrugged again. 'Pretty simple. Since I'm the direct holder of the Kitsune contract, you simply come into your mindscape, and you sign it. Easy as that." A pause. Then a short chuckle. "But, right now, we don't have time for that. We've used enough time talking here…next time, remind me to use the mindscape for our little conversations, they're going to get long and tedious otherwise.'
On an impulse, he looked at the clock...and went wide eyed. 'Shit! It's almost eight! I have to be at the academy in like...fifteen minutes! Damn it!'
Naruto broke off contact with the vixen, and hurriedly went to fish his attire out of his pile of clean clothing.
With a groan after a moment, he realized that his normal orange attire was not going to fit him. It was already almost too short for him as it was, and with this newest growth spurt…it would be like putting on a damned clown outfit. Not that it didn't look that way already, but…
He threw open his drawers and closet, desperately looking for something, anything that would fit him. After a few minutes of searching, he finally came upon it. It was a gift from Sandaime-ojii, almost 2 years ago. At the time, Naruto had truly questioned the Hokage's sanity; however the Hokage had simply told him at the time, "You'll grow into it!" and then had laughed for a while before buying Naruto ramen…making him conveniently forget all about it. Naruto was now thanking his grandfather figure profusely in his head.
It was a pretty simple outfit, just a maroon tank top combined with black cargo shorts. Naruto quickly put them on, along with his forehead protector and shoes, which thankfully, still fit…mostly…and stared at himself in the mirror.
The shorts and the shoes fit. As did the forehead protector…however the tank top was so damned tight that it became form-fitting. Naruto sighed. It was the only thing he had at the moment, so it'd have to do. He quickly grabbed an energy bar (contrary to popular thinking, Naruto has things other than ramen in his cupboards) and shoved it successfully down his gullet before he burst out the door.
Oh, this morning was starting out just wonderfully.
First, her favorite outfit had been in the wash, so she had to wear her second favorite outfit to one of the most important days in her Shinobi career, and then, by some fluke, she had managed to meet up with Ino-pig on the way to the academy. Couple that with the fact that her outfit was now getting scuffed up due to the unofficial race that she was having with the pig and her morning was turning out justperfectly.
Haruno Sakura had dreamed of this day since she was a little girl. The day that she would finally become a bon-a-fide Genin, and by doing so, win over Sasuke-kun. It was supposed to be a day without the interference of Ino-pig, and a day without having to wear anything less than her best. She had worn her best makeup, and even used her most advanced combing technique to hide at least some of her huge forehead. She sighed internally. She supposed that fairy tales simply weren't meant to be.
But of course, she would still win over her Sasuke-kun.
She was now neck-and-neck with Ino, and almost running towards the academy. They came upon an intersection, and for just a split second, in true anime style, time seemed to slow for just a moment as a red and black blur made its way into their field of vision.
He was tall for his assumed age…easily taller than Sasuke by at least a few inches. His darkened, shaggy yellow-blonde hair flowed in an almost fur-like way as he ran at a breakneck pace, and his face held a pseudo-mature and animalistic look that they noticed was bringing many forms of blushes out on women adjacent to them on the street, along with a fair share of smirks and outright glares from the male population.
The tank top on his upper body was obviously too small for him, but it showed off his lithe, muscular features and his bronze, tanned arms in all their male glory. In a word, that was just what he was…masculine…the very picture of the word. And he was hot, if Inner Sakura had anything to say about it.
But one thing stood out above all other things as a defining feature about the blonde Adonis that was before them. He had 3 dark, fox-like whisker marks running along each cheek, which served to only heighten his animalistic and masculine appearance. And only one person that Ino and Sakura knew had those whisker marks.
Again, in true anime fashion, time seemed to return to normal just as the red and black clothed boy bounded off towards his unknown destination, leaving a stunned and slightly blushing Ino and Sakura behind. Both had already stopped in the middle of the intersection and were staring in the direction that the muscular boy had vanished in, both wondering the same thing, as they resumed their trek.
The feeling was unreal…absolutely unreal. His body was a finely tuned machine, it moved with precision and purpose, his muscles coiling and uncoiling, releasing more force than he had ever been able to coax out of them before. His chakra was flowing without hindrance, and his mind was going one hundred miles a second, but it wasn't simply floating from subject to subject…it was focused, crisp, precise…
The new and improved Uzumaki Naruto bounded from rooftop to rooftop, utterly oblivious to the stares of both hatred and admiration that he was receiving along the way, even from his supposed crush, Haruno Sakura. Nothing could bring him down from this natural high. For the first time in his life, he felt as though he was real…as though his mind and his body were actually obeying him, as though he was truly a Shinobi. He was able to move more easily, think more clearly, and he felt alive. It was a wonderful feeling, absolutely wonderful.
Naruto had made record time to the academy, beating his previous record easily. From his home to the academy grounds, it took him only 5 minutes at a hard pace to reach his destination. He had never been able to make it from his apartment to the academy in anything less than 10 minutes before, and he found himself with a full 10 minutes to spare before class began. He landed deftly on the edge of the academy grounds, and began a leisurely pace towards the academy itself.
By the time he had reached the classroom, he had become slightly unnerved by the stares he was getting, and wondering if perhaps it might have been a good idea to cover up his face somehow before he came here. Naruto cursed slightly under his breath. He would have to see if he couldn't get himself some sort of facemask or something before the day was over…he was internally glad that the stares weren't of hatred or derision, but they were stares nonetheless, and Naruto had an understandable aversion to them.
Naruto walked into the class room with his hands in his pockets and his face down, hoping to somehow hide his face from prying eyes, and as silently as he could, he made his way to his favorite seat in the room, which coincidentally, was only one seat away from Sasuke. Silently cheering whatever deity was looking out for him that day, his little attempt at hiding his face seemed to have worked…and while he was still receiving stares from some in the class due to his form of dress and obvious growth spurt, he was sure that they were just passing glances at best.
That was, until a certain hidden genius decided to engage him in conversation.
"Oi, Naruto, this meeting is only for those that passed the Genin exam…you're not supposed to be here." From a passing glance, Shikamaru looked as though his expression was more confused than arrogant or derisive. Instead of actually responding, Naruto simply raised his head up slightly and pointed at the forehead protector, silently praying that it didn't give Shikamaru a good enough view of his face to actually cause him to actually comment on it.
The deity that had been watching over him that day, at that moment, apparently chose to forsake him.
"Na…Naruto…what the hell happened to your face…and your eyes…what the hell?"
At that one comment, most of the conversation in the room stopped.
He cursed under his breath.
"I…uh…" He put his head back down. "…had a growth spurt…" Naruto silently cursed again…there was another change. He hadn't noticed it when he was talking to the Kyuubi, but his voice had gotten slightly deeper as well. Great. Just fucking great. Naruto decided to simply get rid of the situation as best as he could at this point, salvaging a bad situation.
He sighed. "Nothing, really. It's just a…situation." Naruto hoped against all hope that the pineapple-headed genius would simply drop it.
After a few seconds of Shikamaru silently staring at the blonde anomaly in front of him, he simply shrugged, muttered something close to 'troublesome', and walked away. Naruto released a breath that he didn't even know he was holding in, noticing that the room had seemed to resume their own conversations again, but this time, they seemed to revolve around Naruto somehow.
"Hey, did you see Naruto's face? He looks so much older, and even cute!"
"Yeah, and his eyes looked like they were black, too! I hate to say it, but he might even be hot!"
"Naruto, hot?...well, I suppose he does look better…I'll just go over and say hi real quick…"
"He may be hotter now, but you still don't want to be seen around him!"
Naruto slightly scoffed at that last comment he had overheard, it serving its purpose to bring him down to earth. It reminded him of exactly who he was. He might have changed into a completely different person overnight, but he was still Uzumaki Naruto, the shunned mistake of Konoha.
He sighed. He supposed that at this point, it may be both a blessing and a curse.
Naruto buried his face in his arms deeper, now resting on his desk, and tried to make like he was trying to sleep. He was known for sleeping through class, so he hoped that it would buy him some time until Iruka got here, and then all of the attention would be off of him, and he could stop sweating about his current situation so much. Luckily for him, it seemed to work.
As if the gods heard Naruto's plea for a distraction, Sakura and Ino burst in the door in their typical loud fashion.
"Ha! Take that Ino-Pig! I got here first!"
"Fat chance, Forehead-chan! My foot was obviously ahead of yours! I get to sit with Sasuke-kun!"
"Like hell, pig! I'm going to sit with Sasuke-kun!"
"Neither of you will, I am going to sit with Sasuke-kun!"
Naruto almost groaned. It was like this almost every morning. Sakura and Ino would burst into the classroom, both arguing about who would be the one to sit with the raven haired target of all women's affection, and then that would get the rest of the fan club riled up and soon almost all of the girls in the room would be at each other's neck, trying to vie for the precious seat right next to Sasuke's. It was something that most of the guys in the room had gotten horribly used to, and by now, were able to completely tune out.
Eventually, Sakura won the little shouting contest, and marched over to where Naruto was sitting. He was sitting with a seat in between himself and Sasuke, but he was sure that it didn't matter. They had gone through this little ritual hundreds of times…Sakura would force Naruto out of his seat for no real reason, and then take the seat that was open in the first place, leaving Naruto have the seat that he used to be in. It was a pointless little dance, and Naruto had gotten used to it. However…he didn't exactly feel as charitable this morning as he did on most mornings.
Which surprised him to no end. Just yesterday, he had been thinking of asking Sakura out on a date again…hell, he had even talked to Ayame about it in passing.
Surely, this whole thing couldn't have changed his entire outlook on life, right? His entire existence revolved around Sakura to a certain extent…and now…
He just…didn't feel it. That familiar feeling deep in his gut that always formed when he thought about or saw Sakura…was just…not there.
Deciding to figure out the new intricacies of his mind later, he sighed. He didn't wanna deal with this shit so early in the morning.
He made a dismissive wave with one of his hands, still somewhat under his head. Without intending to, he growled. "Sakura, take the seat, and leave me be…I'm not in the mood this morning."
Naruto heard Sakura emit a slight gasp at both Naruto's tone and what he had said. In fact, everyone within hearing distance was shocked speechless. It was no real secret that Naruto had a crush of epic proportions on the pink haired Genin, and to hear him talk to her in such a manner was unheard of. Even if it was polite and mostly non-abrasive…he usually fawned over her like a puppy. Hell, he hadn't even added the '-chan' suffix.
Sakura was about to respond with some kind of snarling retort, but she had a flash of the blonde haired boy running past her on the street. The way his hair had flowed, his body, his face…if she was anything, she was smart. Being in between both Sasuke-kun and the somehow miraculously changed Naruto would give her the ability to not only dote on her Sasuke-kun, but also to find out exactly what was up with Naruto. After all, if he really was as hot as he had looked out there, then maybe she could set him up with Ino or something to get her mind off of her Sasuke-kun.
One track mind.
When Naruto heard no response from Sakura, he raised his head ever so slightly to find, to his never-ending surprise, that Sakura had done exactly what he asked of her. Naruto mulled on this for a moment.
Perhaps it was better to be feared than loved. His previous attempts to win her over were fruitless…and he had been as sweet as honey.
Just one application of moderately-applied gruff and force had kowtowed her.
It wasn't necessarily fear…but…
Girls were fucking weird.
He stored that particular piece of contemplative inner monologue away and spared a glance at the pink haired girl to his left. He saw her glance in his direction, and it looked as though she was just about to open her mouth to ask a question, when the all-too-familiar presence of Iruka burst into the room.
"EVERYONE SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!!"
This of course, got exactly the response Iruka wanted. When Iruka used that particular tone, he meant business, and the kids in his classes just somehow knew not to fuck around. Naruto got an almost imperceptible smirk on his face. Iruka may be soft spoken most of the time, but when he got pissed off, watch out.
The Chuunin set his small bundle of class materials down on his podium and surveyed his students. "Better. Now, if you're here, that means that you've passed the Genin exam. Congratulations. You've just begun your foray into the world of being a Shinobi, and things are only going to get harder from here."
Naruto tuned Iruka out for a few minutes, just barely hearing him give some sort of speech on responsibilities and hardships that they would now be enduring for the 'good of Konoha' or some such thing. Naruto smirked to himself for a moment. The thought of him doing something for the 'good of Konoha' was almost laughable at this point. He allowed himself to drift off slightly, but he immediately perked up at the mention of team assignments.
They went through a few teams, skipping over a few numbers, because those teams already existed, until Naruto heard his name called. "Team 7! Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura…"
At this, everyone in the room expected Naruto jump for joy, and Sakura to groan in disappointment. However everyone was shocked, even Iruka, at hearing Naruto curse not-so-quietly, and at seeing Sakura blush and look at Naruto fleetingly.
Before any meaningful gossip about the coming apocalypse could start, the third member of the team was called. "…and Uchiha Sasuke."
A sense of normalcy reigned in the room once again, at seeing Sakura jump for joy, and Naruto curse even louder.
Naruto may have thought Sasuke was an ok person, but it didn't change the fact that he was a stuck up, arrogant bastard. Being forced to be on the same team as him was going to be…troublesome. Really, really troublesome.
Kami, he was turning into Shikamaru…
After a few more minutes of incessant drawling done by Iruka, people began to filter out of the classroom for a lunch break. Naruto took this as the perfect opportunity to disappear for a while. After quite a few people had left, he made a slight jog for a window, and just as he was preparing to jump out the window, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He should have figured. Iruka would want to talk to him, wouldn't he? Of all the times for Iruka to be a mother hen…
"Naruto…I noticed that you're not exactly yourself today? Is there anything you need to talk about?" The Chuunin became somewhat meeker, but mostly just dropped the level of his voice. "I mean, with what happened last night and all…" Iruka seemed to trail off slightly, trying not to mention too much in a public environment.
Naruto sighed slightly. If anything, Iruka was consistent. He supposed that it wouldn't hurt to tell Iruka what had happened in the time betwixt last night and now…after all, Iruka was almost a brother…father…something like that, to the blond haired boy.
He sighed and hung his head slightly. "Iruka-sensei…there's a reason that I'm not exactly 'myself' today. Or I guess you could say that I'm more of myself than I was even yesterday…." Naruto seemed to grumble at his apparent lack of ability to explain his situation. He needed to take this elsewhere.
"Do you have someplace we could talk for a bit?" Naruto resisted the urge to turn around and show Iruka his face…it wouldn't do to have Iruka freak out in the classroom.
"Does it have to do with…?" Iruka's voice took on a positively chilly tone. "…him?" Iruka gave Naruto a concerned glance, and Naruto simply nodded the affirmative.
Iruka's eyes widened slightly before calming down. It wouldn't do for him to freak out when his student was depending on him. "Yeah…sure Naruto, come with me. We can go to my office." With that, Iruka turned around and led Naruto to his 'office', which was really no bigger than a large broom closet…but Naruto supposed that it was about as private as he was going to get at the moment.
When Naruto got there, Iruka did a quick Jutsu that Naruto recognized as a privacy Jutsu.
He really needed to learn that one.
Deciding to get it over with, with a sigh, Naruto brought up his head to face Iruka…and just as expected, Iruka gasped and began throwing a bevy of questions at him.
"Naruto? What happened? Your eyes, your whisker marks…your face…what exactly happened?" The Chuunin's eyes narrowed. "What did the Kyuubi do? Do we need to go see the Sandaime? If it was a villager, I'll—"
He'd been in this situation before. Iruka being too overprotective of him, and almost panicking at something. "Iruka-sensei! Calm down for a sec, I'll explain everything…" He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "…yes, the Kyuubi did something. Yes, I should probably go see the Sandaime at some point…no, the villagers haven't done anything…today…" Naruto grumbled again and rubbed the bridge of his nose harder. "This may take a while Iruka-sensei, so I suggest you get comfortable."
With that, Naruto launched into an abbreviated version of exactly what had happened last night, carefully omitting anything about knowing who his father was, or anything about what exactly he was giving the Kyuubi in exchange for all of this. He also made sure to be as vague as possible, considering his surroundings.
The explanation lasted a good 15 minutes, and by the end, Iruka was dumbfounded, or at least, it looked like it. Naruto sat there, in silence, for a few more minutes before Iruka seemed to actually realize exactly what had been said, and lowered his eyes slightly, as if in deep thought.
"Naruto…let me see if I've got this straight. You talked with the Kyuubi, and he…" The Chuunin corrected himself with a flinch of exasperation. "…she…said that you had some kind of weird seal placed on you at birth that messed with your genetic structure…so for some reason, she took it off of you…and you woke up like this.…damn." Iruka seemed to imitate Naruto's gesture, rubbing the bridge of his nose with vigor. "This is a lot to take in…"
The blonde haired Genin was somewhat amused that Iruka could summarize the life changing events in his life so well. "Yeah, that's the basic gist of it. It's a bit more complicated than that, but…yeah; it kind of floored me too. I mean, I go to bed, I talk with a giant fox, and somehow, in the morning, I'm completely different than what I was before. Shit, the last two days of my life have been some of the most eventful in my entire existence!" Naruto chuckled slightly and put one arm on the back of his neck, in typical Naruto fashion. Iruka smiled. It seemed as though the old Naruto was still there, at least in his mannerisms.
Iruka became serious again. "You know, Naruto…you're really going to have to talk to the Sandaime after you meet your sensei. He's definitely going to want to know more about this." Iruka's eyes shined of concern for his blonde charge, but he also had a duty to the village, and this definitely qualified under that heading.
Naruto sighed and gave an almost resigned nod of his head. "I know…and to be honest, Iruka-sensei, I kind of left a few things out about all of this…I don't really want to say anything about a few things that happened last night, unless I'm in the Hokage tower." Seeing the more questioning than hurt expression on his most precious person's face, he flinched and waved his hand in dismissal. "I trust your privacy Jutsu, but I don't want to take any chances, otherwise, you'd know everything I do."
Iruka smiled. It was good to know that his honorary brother…son…whatever he was, still trusted him so much. "Of course, Naruto. I take it that means you want me to come with you when you talk with the Hokage?" Iruka had learned through the years to pick up the silent cue's that Naruto gave him, and right now, Naruto was definitely showing that he was insecure about the whole situation.
Naruto smiled almost imperceptibly at Iruka's ability to read him. "Yeah…if you don't mind, that is." Naruto hoped that Iruka didn't have some Chuunin meeting or teachers meeting that he had to go to, otherwise he would have to put his meeting with the Sandaime off for a few hours.
Iruka got a slight pensive look on his face, before returning his look to one of concern. "Well, I was supposed to have a teachers meeting right after this, but I think this definitely takes precedence, don't you?" Iruka smiled at Naruto, with Naruto smiling right back. Naruto knew that he could count on Iruka in times like this.
Before Naruto could thank him though, Iruka seemed to notice the time, and his smile transformed into a slightly harried frown. "Damn…it's time to head back to class Naruto. After you're done meeting with your Sensei, come find me, and we can go talk to the Sandaime." Iruka gave a reassuring smile to Naruto, and Naruto nodded at Iruka before they both silently made their way back to the classroom.
Unfortunately for Naruto, he completely forgot to keep his head down. The second that he walked into the classroom, most conversation stopped.
Naruto smacked himself mentally for forgetting something so important. He noticed that most of the guys in the room had looks on their faces that were about as close to jealousy as you can get. The girls however…most of them were blushing profusely. Hinata even fainted. Naruto contemplated his reaction for a moment, before deciding to throw caution to the wind.
He bared his fangs at the class, causing everyone to recoil slightly in shock. Allowing himself a small smile smile, he made his way to his seat. Perhaps he was right. Being feared practically trounced being loved, for the most part anyway. He sat down, and crossed his arms over his chest, as if daring anyone to come near him.
Not surprisingly, no one did.
Naruto had been sitting in this same seat for the better part of an hour. Everyone except for those in team 7 had already left the room, including Iruka. It seemed as though he'd be able to make that teachers meeting after all.
The last hour had been spent in complete silence. Sasuke was staring out the window, no doubt plotting something nefarious…Sakura was doting on the raven haired head case, but Naruto noticed that she sent him a look every now and again, obviously trying to scope him out for whatever reason. It was getting to be a tad bit irritating. He decided to simply get it over with.
"Oi, Sakura…why in the hell do you keep glancing at me?" He sent a small amount of…something…in his glare, and was satisfied when Sakura flinched. In all the time that Naruto had 'known' Sakura, she had never thrown furtive glances his way, much less while blushing. He was finding that he didn't much like it, at least, not now. It felt…wrong.
The girl flustered. "Oh! Uh…I was just…it was…nothing…really!" Inner Sakura was saying something completely different, of course, but no one needed to know that.
Naruto sighed. He was really, really confused and perturbed now. Sakura had never talked to him with so many pauses and stutters…it was like she was turning into a Hinata or something. To be blunt, it was getting on his fucking nerves. He could stand it from Hinata, just because she made it cute, but from Sakura, it was annoying as hell. Nevertheless, he let it drop. Sakura was fawning over Sasuke again, and Naruto simply didn't want to care anymore.
Instead he delved into his 'link'. 'Oi, fox…it looks like we have some time to kill. Why don't I come in and sign that contract real quick?'
He didn't get a response for a few seconds…he figured that the Kyuubi was dozing off. Eventually, he heard a grunt that signified agreement from the red haired vixen, and found himself drifting into the familiar confines of his mind.
When he got there, Kyuubi looked decidedly groggy. He smirked. "I never took you to be the napping type, Kyuubi."
Kyuubi was stretching in her human form behind the bars, giving Naruto a sleepy look that looked absolutely adorable on her face. Naruto slapped himself mentally. The Kyuubi was not adorable.
The well-developed thirteen-year-old looking kitsune sent him a glare. "I don't have much to do in this accursed place except for nap."
Naruto's smirk grew. "Fair enough." He put his hands in his pockets and put on a very nonchalant attitude. "Whatever, where's that contract you want me to sign?"
He saw the Kyuubi march back into the confines of her cage, and when she came back out, she was holding a large scroll, which she unceremoniously tossed to Naruto outside of the cage.
"Here. Unfurl it, find the first open space, and then sign it in your blood. And save the questions as to 'how do I have blood in my mind?'…suffice it that you do, and leave it at that." Naruto almost smirked again at Kyuubi's last comment, but he did exactly as she asked, and passed the scroll back to the vixen.
After Naruto got done sucking on his thumb for a moment, getting the bleeding to stop for long enough that it completely healed, he turned his attention back to Kyuubi, who was giving him a…strange look. He decided not to think much on it.
"Right then…so how's about giving me a rundown of what exactly that means, other than you getting your own bit of freedom?" Naruto was genuinely curious about what exactly he could do with the contract, aside from summoning Kyuubi.
She just shrugged and yawned. "As far as I know, it's fairly simple. You do some of your arcane hand signs, offer up a small sacrifice of blood and chakra, before then performing the 'Kuchiyose no Jutsu' to summon either myself, or those of my kinfolk. Depending on the amount of Chakra that you use for the summon, you'll get anything between a freshly born kit, and a fearsome 8 tail fox to aid you in battle, or to do whatever it is that you need them to do."
She gave him a pointed look. "To summon me, all you need to do…as far as I know…is to simply think of me when you attempt the Kuchiyose. Because I'm already on this astral plane, summoning me only requires that you have enough chakra to communicate with me, no more, no less."
Naruto was slightly miffed. He thought it was something a bit more grandiose than simply hand signs, blood and chakra. He was also miffed by the fact that Kyuubi had said 'as far as I know'…how on earth did the 'great' Kyuubi no Kitsune not know how this worked?
He decided to call her on it. "Right…that makes sense. Why did you say, 'as far as I know', though? Don't you know how the Jutsu works?"
Kyuubi looked almost sheepish for a few seconds before replying. "I've never really had a need to learn any of your human Jutsu. Hell, I've never even used this summoning contract before…I only know the details of the Jutsu used for summon because I had it explained to me once." She waved one of her delicate, white hands. "Remember, I'm a fifty story tall nine tailed fox…if I need to fight, I don't need to use your pathetic human Jutsu, all I need to do is use one of my tails, or my massive chakra stores. She gave him another pointed, if slightly less intense look. "For this whole thing to work, you're going to have to find someone who knows the hand seals of the Kuchiyose, as I never took time to learn anything about your human hand seals."
Naruto let this sink in for a minute before getting an almost morose look on his face. "So…that means that you won't be able to teach me anything? Shit."
He was genuinely disappointed at that. Not only was he hoping that the Kyuubi had some 'kick ass' Jutsu that he would be able to learn, but it meant that the Kyuubi would have no real need of him anymore, other than as a jailor. Naruto didn't like the fox, of course…who'd like her...but she was still company, and one of the few real friends that he had.
He was using a rather loose definition of friend.
Kyuubi, on the other hand, was snickering behind her hand at the blonde Jinchuuriki. It turned into a full blown laughter, and Naruto was looking at her with a mix of confusion and irritation. Before Naruto could berate her on something though, Kyuubi dispelled his fears.
She leaned on the bars, pressing her considerable breasts into the gaps, giving him a rather…interesting…view. "On the contrary. I may not know your human Jutsu, but what I do know is so much more valuable." She laughed almost conspiratorially. "I'll save you my life's story, but suffice it to say that I've traveled this world hundreds of times over in my lifetime, and I've learned quite a bit."
As usual when she was giving a lecture of some sort, at least, he thought it was 'usual'…she began pacing again. "For example, a few hundred years ago, I learned a sword style that I fully intend to teach you. I also learned about human biology, anatomy, and chemistry, and due to the fact that I have almost unlimited chakra, I know more about chakra control, manipulation, and raw usage than almost anyone on the planet. I'll be able to teach you plenty, kid…the only thing I won't be teaching you are your human Jutsu."
Her expression and voice softened. "Remember…we told each other that we would work to make our lives better, and I fully intend on doing just that."
Naruto just stared at the Kyuubi for a few moments.
…before a face-splitting grin made its way onto his face.
If anyone had told Uzumaki Naruto even 2 days ago, that he would be learning Biology, Anatomy and Chemistry, he would have given them a sour face and told them off with some choice expletives. Now, however, he was ecstatic. The possibilities were nigh endless. With what little he actually knew about them, he could only imagine what he could accomplish. Poisons, explosives, medical techniques…all would be at his fingertips. The prospect of it all was enough to make Naruto giddy.
He jumped up to the cage and put his hands on the bars, getting in Kyuubi's face. She took a few steps back, startled. "I'm sorry I ever doubted you! Just think! Poisons, explosive mixtures, and the ability to kill so much more easily…a wish come true!" Naruto cackled gleefully for a moment, even going so far as to dance around in excitement…before realizing exactly what he had said.
He had never killed before in his life, however the prospect thereof was quickly becoming somewhat…anticipatory, to say the least. Before Naruto could voice his unasked question, the Kyuubi, as always, decided to answer it before he vocalized.
Righting herself from her momentary sudden surprise, she gave him a smirk. "You're wondering why it is that the prospect of killing entices you so, eh? I told you that a suppression seal was torn asunder when I broke your impression seal, allowing some of my chakra to mingle with your own without any sort of hindrance. This is the basis of at least some of your changes, both mentally and physically. Your growth spurt, as well as a slightly more primal mindset is just one of the many perks of having ultra-potent chakra such as mine mix with your own."
She sauntered up to the bars again, leaning on them…again…with her breasts pressed through the gaps. "In short, you became more bestial than you were before, and this includes a higher sense of bloodlust. This not only carries into battle, but into…" She glanced downwards for a moment, before smiling and looking back up. "…other…facets of your life as well. I don't think you'll really care about that, however, until you reach a few years older than you are now."
Naruto allowed himself a slight pause to let that bit of data soak in. He had becomebestial. Indeed, he might come to like this little change in himself. The ability to lose the regular human inhibitions in battle could be quite convenient.
He filed the last bit of data that Kyuubi had given him into the 'do not open until puberty' file within his own mind…even though he had a good idea what exactly the Kyuubi meant.
More questions bubbled to the surface about their little agreement however, and he decided to get some answers. "This is all well and good…but there are a few things here that don't make sense in the slightest. If you don't know any human Jutsu, why is it that you know so much about seals? Furthermore, why is it that you know a sword style, when you have absolutely no need for it? Quite a bit of what you are saying is contradicting yourself." Naruto gave the Kyuubi a thoughtful look, and crossed his arms over his chest.
Said fox chuckled slightly, and gave a dismissive gesture with her arms. "I know about seals, because I have studied them in great length. I said that I never had use for your human Jutsu, and seals are not reallyJutsu in the simplest sense of the word. Seals are used extensively, both by humans, and by those where I come from. They're the lifeblood of planar travel, and also the medium of some of the most powerful chakra-enhanced blood rituals ever performed. As for the sword style…"
Kyuubi trailed off for a moment, getting a faraway look in her eyes, before she seemed to take on an almost nostalgic look. "A few hundred years ago, I met a rather…interesting…human. He had ideas and knowledge that were far ahead of his own time, and because of it, he was treated as an outcast. In order to spend more time with him, I agreed to learn his particular sword style."
She seemed thoughtful for a second more, as if wondering how to proceed, and then she spoke once again. "His…style…if you can call it that, is one of the most ingenious and enlightened styles of deadly movement that I have ever seen. It is known simply as 'Ryuudou', or 'The Flow'. The thing that differentiates this particular style from all others is the fact that instead of having to memorize hundreds of complex and utterly useless kata, one simply learns how to move. The basis of this style revolves around the user becoming the very essence of water." Kyuubi took in Naruto's pensive look and noticed that he was absorbing this information as though his life depended on it. She smiled. He would indeed be a good student to teach.
She went into 'lecture' mode again. "The nature of water, in and of itself, is the most versatile nature that any one element has. It can both create, and destroy. It can move silently and under the surface, or devastatingly, and with no regard for its surroundings. It can be as deep and unseen as an aquifer, or as obvious and torrential as rapids. It can flow around an object, wearing it down to nothing in a period of hundreds of years, or it can crash upon that object, and obliterate it within seconds. It is a contradiction unto itself, and yet it is the very basis for both life and death of any one living being upon this plane of existence."
Kyuubi noticed that Naruto was now even more entranced than he was before, and that he had an almost unquenchable eagerness in his eyes that was simply waiting to be unleashed. Kyuubi smiled even wider. The kid had no idea what he was in for. "The way that this translates into a fighting style is absolutely ingenious. The user of Ryuudou becomes that very nature. He flows around his opponents, wearing them down, while at the same time, crashing into them with strong, purposeful strikes that kill without warning and with absolute finality. He flows beneath the surface, waiting for the moment in which to spring upon his opponent, and, as the rapids, demolish them. He can become as a tsunami to his opponents, just as easily as he can be a freshwater well to his friends. In short, Ryuudou is the absoluteessence of both life and death…you protect those who wish to peaceably drink from your well, by destroying those who wish to hurt them."
She crossed her arms across her chest. "This is the style, Naruto, that I will be teaching you, and it will take you years to master…however, even a novice in 'The Flow' is still a force not to be underestimated on the battlefield."
Kyuubi watched as Naruto almost shook from anticipation. She allowed herself a wide, mischievous grin, and waited for him to finally break the silence.
Naruto was doing mental back flips. He may have been calmer than he was before, but the prospect of being trained in this seemingly rare and absolutely incredible sword style brought back a small amount of the giddy youth that he used to be. He allowed himself a rare smile…a real smile. He would be learning anatomy…biology…chemistry…and a sword style that no one else knew. It was simply too much to put into words. But he tried anyway.
"Kyuubi…that's…fucking awesome. If it weren't for the fact that we're stuck in this god forsaken classroom waiting for our sensei, I'd rush outside right now and start practicing. Thank you! Seriously…thank you."
Naruto did something that he hadn't done for a long time. He bowed. He bowed in thanks, and in respect for his new sensei, his real sensei. It was shallow, but…still more than he was used to doing, ever.
Said sensei just waved her hand dismissively, trying to seem haughty, but failing miserably, looking more embarrassed than anything. "Oi, stand up, damn it…you're embarrassing me." Seeing him keep his bow, she sighed and flicked his forehead with her finger. He rubbed his forehead, but rose up, giving her a nasty glare.
"Why'd you flick my forehead?"
Kyuubi huffed indignantly. "Because you were being stupid!"
Naruto pouted. "Was not…"
The fox smirked slightly. "Yes…you were." She huffed again in exasperation. "Damned brat…anyway, you're not getting all of this for free, you know! I'm adding another stipulation to our little…deal…" At this, Kyuubi seemed to cackle gleefully, before Naruto shot her a look that clearly said 'you've gone crazy, haven't you?'
She quickly cleared her throat and regained her composure, readying herself to tell Naruto what her 'term' was.
"In exchange for teaching you all of this…I want you to…" She almost looked abashed for a second, before becoming…mostly serious.
"I want you to change the look inside of this dreary cell."
Before he could ask the obvious question, Kyuubi cut in.
"No doubt, you're wondering just how to change my cage. It's rather simple. The inside of this cage is as much an impression as you were just a few days ago. Meaning, the cage looks this way because it was made to look this way. Only you have the ability to change what it looks like. Right now, it looks like a god damned sewer, and I do not like living in a sewer. Catch my drift?" Naruto nodded towards the Kyuubi, with a true look of understanding on his face. They at least had that much in common. Naruto absolutely hated where he lived, and the Kyuubi didn't much like where she lived either.
Naruto, though, could change that.
Before Kyuubi could even give him instructions on just how to change her abode…he simply did. The cage and sewer structure melted away, revealing a completely white and blank canvas with which to work. Kyuubi looked at the blonde Jinchuuriki, stunned that he somehow instinctively knew how to change the structure of her cell. His face was a mask of concentration, and before she knew it, she was in a completely different environment, much more inviting than her previous one.
It was a medium sized room, much smaller than her previous cell, lined on either side with kanji that Kyuubi immediately recognized as being the same writing on her collar. The walls seemed to be made of a deep mahogany, and the room itself was dimly lit with what seemed to be candelabras. A roaring fireplace on the far side of the room was flanked diagonally on either side by two matching recliners made out of what looked to be fine leather and goose down. In the middle of the room, a queen sized bed sat, only a foot above the floor, but with a cushion made out of what looked to be even more goose down. An empty book case sat directly parallel the fireplace on the other side of the room, and there was a surreptitiously placed door perpendicular to the bed, leading to places unknown.
Kyuubi was gape-jawed at the transformation. It looked to be an incredible imitation of a western style study room…and it was beautiful. It was inviting, warm, cozy, and most of all, it lacked all the impersonal elements that the sewer held. Naruto was standing near the door, a look of almost exhaustion on his visage, before he gave a wide, almost eclipsing grin and scratched the back of his head. Kyuubi simply stared at him, stunned, before allowing herself to do something that she wouldn't have done if she had given it any thought.
She hugged Naruto. She simply hugged him. After almost thirteen years of living in a damn, dank, dark sewer, she now finally had the closest thing she had ever had to a home. Before Naruto knew what he was doing, he had returned the embrace, both enjoying the company. Naruto had been an outcast, an absolute nothing for 12 years, and now that he had at least a modicum of company, he was going to relish it. They stood there for a few minutes, simply enjoying the hug, before Naruto finally broke it off and gave a sheepish smile to the trying-real-hard-to-be-stoic Kyuubi.
Before Kyuubi could vocalize her thanks to the blonde, however, he walked over to the door, and revealed something that took her breath away.
It was…outside. It was a replication, but it felt real. The trees were swaying under a slight, warm breeze. There were flowers of all kinds, and different forms of wildlife roamed freely. The grass was ankle deep, and it tickled Kyuubi's bare feet to step on it. The artificial sun shone at a perfect angle, casting comforting shadows across the expanse of nature. Birds chirped, sakura petals danced, and the place was alive in so many ways.
This time she simply let herself speak her thanks. "…Naruto…this…this is absolutely…beautiful…so absolutely…beautiful…thank you…so very much…" Kyuubi was the one to bow this time, with a small goofily proportioned smile pulling at the edge of her mouth.
Kyuubi was a tailed beast…a monster, a destroyer, something that struck fear into her opponents, and relished in their desperation and death…it was her nature, and it was what she was created for, it's what she was commanded to do, and what she did without hesitation…and yet, in this relatively short time span spent with this boy, she had changed, fundamentally.
She allowed herself a small, wistful and happy smile. When she had been sealed inside him, she had seen in herself the depths of depression…for twelve years she had wallowed in that depressed hell…and in the course of a few days, this boy, whose kindness knew almost no end, had reversed it. He had been kind to a monster, he had shown pity on the pitiless, and he had given someone who, in her own estimation, did not deserve a second chance, that very thing.
Right then and there, Kyuubi made a silent promise to herself. This boy would live. This boy would flourish. Uzumaki Naruto would become feared, or loved…whichever he wanted, and she would make sure that she guided him in his endeavors. That much, she would make sure of.
Before she could ask how he was able to change her cage without instruction, however, he seemed to get a puzzled look on his face, and gave her a somewhat quizzical glance. "So…changing the inside of your cage is all well and good…but if I'm going to be giving you freedom anyway, you're going to be staying outside of the seal quite a bit, right? Why change the cell when you're not going to spend much time in it?"
Kyuubi, after composing herself, simply smirked for a second before giving a true smile to the demon container. "For quite a few reasons. One, this is where I will live, regardless of where I am. You did a fine job on the redecoration job, by the way." Naruto seemed to blush slightly at the praise before Kyuubi continued her lecture. "Secondly, where do you think you'll be learning anatomy, chemistry, and biology? To learn those things, you will be entering my seal at night, and while your body rests, your mind will be learning with me."
She took a few experimental steps in the grass, almost skipping around, relishing the feeling. Almost absentmindedly, she continued her explanation. "It's a common misconception that the mind needs rest. The physical body needs rest, yes, but the mind is an ethereal existence…it exists almost outside of the bounds of the physical. Because of that, your mind can be in here, with me, learning, and your body can be resting. You'll be as refreshed as your normally are, and you will also be smarter because of it. It's really the most convenient solution. Besides, that empty book case that you set up could use some filling up." Kyuubi allowed herself a slightly amused chuckle at Naruto's dual expression of both anticipation and anxiety. It was certainly a new concept, that was for sure.
Before they could start on a new line of conversation, however, both noticed that there was…interference…coming from outside of the seal. The pink haired one seemed to be shouting at Naruto with vigor. Both vixen and container scowled, but Kyuubi gave Naruto a barely perceptible nod, and before Naruto knew it, he was beginning to fade back into the realm of the living.
A/N : How'd you like it? Could be better, could be worse, IMO. After this, therewill be more cliché, but I hope to write it in a good way. Also, I've found that I don't much like writing short chapters…so while the updates may be slower in coming, the chapterswill be longer than normal. Any who, on to Chapter 2. Hope to see you there!