Chapter 1: Ferocious Foxes and Tasty Treats!

Disclaimer: One day, I WILL own Naruto… But not today…

'Wow, this is cool!' Thoughts

'Don't talk so much, brat!' Kyuubi thoughts

"Shut up, damn fox!" Regular talking

"You asking for a beatdown, kit?" Kyuubi Talking

"Hey, brat! Get back here, Naruto!" The shout rang down the dark alley as the man shook his fist in anger. His target was a small boy, no more than five years of age, who was running as fast as he could down the alley. Clutched in the Naruto's left hand was a small loaf of bread, which he took small bites of as he ran. Munching noisily, Naruto turned his head to look at the angry man, laughing through the bread in his mouth. He stuck out a crumb-covered tongue out at him, trying to get the man angry. Unfortunately, he hadn't been watching where he was going, and he tripped on a carelessly discarded cardboard box. Naruto fell onto the paved ground with a thud, the bread flying from his hands. He wailed in pain as he felt his newly bruised ass, tears coming to his eyes.

Looking behind him towards the angry baker, he realized that he had pissed the man off enough that the baker was chasing him down, waving an iron pipe in his hands. Naruto was terrified, and he tried to get up and run away. He almost got up, but his left food landed on the discarded loaf and slipped, sending him face first into the ground once more. He groaned, and tried to get up again. But, Naruto felt a blinding pain in his back, and he screamed aloud in pain. The man raised his iron pipe once more and prepared for another swing. The boy looked at him and cried out for mercy, pleading with the man.

The man hesitated, and lowered the iron bar. But, his eyes looked at the boys face. He noted the whisker marks on the Naruto's cheeks, and his lips split in an obscene grin. He raised the pipe once more and smashed into the lad's skull with such force that the pipe was dented. Naruto was nearly knocked unconscious, and was plainly dazed. The man laughed in sadistic pleasure, and proceeded to beat the boy, breaking bones and breaking open skin and flesh. Finally, the man stopped, and looked at the battered and bloody mess of the boy. His face saddened for a moment, then hardened again. Cursing the boy, he spat on him and stomped his booted foot into the lad's back. There was a loud crack as the boy's spine snapped, accompanied by harsh laughter from the brutal man. He grabbed the remnants of the loaf from the ground and threw them at the nearly dead boy.

He paused for a moment, looking at the lad, before turning around and walking away, tossing the pipe onto the ground as he did so. He was confident that he wouldn't get punished for his treatment of the lad. In fact, if he was lucky and the boy died, he might even get treated as a hero! After all, he had beaten the demon brat to within an inch of his life. Besides, the kid had deserved it, by stealing his bread. Well, yeah, he had thrown it out, and it was going to the garbage anyways, but still, it was his. He shook his head and decided not to think about it anymore. He didn't want to feel guilty about anything.

The boy moaned softly, fingertips twitching in pain. He couldn't feel his legs. Ok, that's weird. He tried to wiggle his fingers and got some response, but he could barely feel anything. And his entire body ached and burned. Ow. This really hurts. And my back… Ow. He tried to shift his back, to get into a better position. But as soon as he tried, he screamed in pain as his back filled with white hot pain. Ok, that's not a good idea. Everything hurts so much… He opened his eyes and stared up into the swiftly darkening sky. Oh, no. It's gonna rain! Just my luck.

Shortly, it began to rain, just as the boy had predicted. He groaned and wished he was somewhere else, that someone would help him. But, he couldn't move, and he knew that no one would try to help him. So he just lay there, watching the sky. But, something caught his attention. He heard someone walking down the alley he was in. But, it was behind him, and he couldn't see who it was. Whoever it was came to a stop just behind the boy's head, and knelt down over the lad. The boy was going to question him, but a quick wave of the stranger's hand cut him off. The newcomer walked around the boy, stopping by his feet and kneeling again.

Now, the boy could see the strangers appearance. He was obviously a shinobi, thanks to the thigh holster that held his weapons, and his hitai-ate. Naruto couldn't see the man's face, since he was bending over Naruto's legs, examining his injuries. He also had black hair, and he wore dark clothing. The only thing on him that wasn't that same black color was a small symbol on the sleeve of his wide-necked shirt, which showed a small red and white fan. Naruto's eyes widened at the sight of it, for he knew the only people allowed to wear that symbol were from the great Uchiha clan. He gulped loudly, because he had heard that some of the strongest ninja's were from that clan.

"Ano… Are you an Uchiha?" the man started, having been under the impression that the boy was unconscious from his wounds. The fact that this kid has lost so much blood and suffered so many injuries and was still conscious was nothing short of amazing. The stranger looked up into Naruto's face, examining him minutely before replying with a short nod.

Naruto was going to ask another question, but he had seen the man's face. The man had two long lines running diagonally from his eyes to his cheekbones, which gave his serious face a frightening appearance. But most frightening of all were his eyes. They blazed a crimson red, and it held three small dots that slowly orbited the pupil. Those eyes seemed to delve deep into Naruto's soul, searching it from top to bottom, judging him at the very core of his being. He tried to look away from the man's gaze, but he could not. Those scarlet orbs encompassed his vision, until he was nearly absorbed into them.

Suddenly, Naruto was free. The man had closed his eyes and was rubbing them, as if in pain. He looked at him again sharply, the eyes no longer red, but a dark black. "Tell me, boy, what is your name?" Naruto gulped again, still worried by this man.

"Ano… Uzumaki Naruto." The man nodded at his answer, clearly expecting it.

"Well, Uzumaki Naruto. I am Uchiha Itachi. Now, remain completely motionless, or I will be forced to knock you out." Naruto gulped and nodded slightly, wincing from the pain in his neck. Itachi seemed satisfied by his answer, and slowly reached over to the boys stomach, lifting the grubby T-shirt that covered it. Naruto was about to complain, but a glance from Itachi stopped him. Itachi looked closely at Naruto's stomach for a while, then set one of his hands on it. Gently, he began pouring chakra into Naruto's stomach, his eyes searching the skin.

Suddenly, a symbol emerged from within Naruto's skin, black against his flesh. It was in the shape of a spiral, with some strange markings surrounding it. Itachi frowned for a moment, thinking hard. Naruto, on the other hand, was wondering what the hell was going on.

"Oi, what is that thing? It looks weird!" He had seen the thing, and was surprised to say the least. Itachi gave him an annoyed look, but he pressed on. "What the hell did you do to my stomach? You gay pedophile!" Itachi got a pissed look in his face, and suddenly the red eyes sprang back into life, swallowing his black orbs. Naruto shut his mouth immediately, more frightened than he had ever been before.

"You want to know what that is? You really wish to know? Do you want to test the depth of your capacity, to explore the borders of your potential?" Naruto, despite his fear, was curious. He nodded again, the pain in his neck fading. Itachi smirked, staring into Naruto's eyes. "Very well. Then prepare to meet your inner demon." Naruto was puzzled, but suddenly something in Itachi's eyes changed, and Naruto's vision faded away into darkness.

Slowly, he regained a bit of his vision. He blinked his eyes quickly, trying to will away the darkness around him. As his eyes adjusted, he glanced around him, taking in his surroundings. He was in some kind of sewer, with a low ceiling and close walls. There was water covering the floor, reaching up to his ankles. He wondered where he was, but decided not to think about it. Suddenly, he felt something grab his shoulder. He turned around quickly and saw Itachi standing next to him. Itachi looked into his eyes once more.

"This is your final chance. You can turn back now. Are you prepared? Are you willing to pay the price of power?" Naruto, excited at the prospect of becoming stronger, nodded vigorously. As he did so, he realized his body no longer hurt. He looked down at himself, and was surprised to see every wound gone. His grubby old clothes didn't even have any blood on them. He was awed, and turned to ask Itachi about it. But Itachi was walking away, down the long dark hallway. Naruto ran after him, trying not to slip in the water.

Finally, he caught up to Itachi, but was hard pressed to stay by him. Itachi was taking full advantage of his height to take long strides, eating up the distance with each step. Naruto, on the other hand, was barely two and a half feet tall, and had to take three steps for every step Itachi took. Naruto was so concentrated on keeping up with Itachi that he didn't notice that he had stopped, and bumped into Itachi's back. Almost slipping, he caught himself and glared at Itachi, who couldn't have cared less.

"We're here. Hold out your hand." Itachi pointed at a door that Naruto hadn't noticed before. It was just a metal door, except that it had a symbol engraved into the front of it. The same symbol that Naruto had seen on his stomach. Curious, he laid his hand against the door. Almost immediately, he withdrew it, wincing in pain.

"Ouch! That burns, dammit!" He stuck his singed fingers into his mouth, glaring at Itachi. Itachi merely shrugged and motioned to the door. The door was turning red, and steam rose from the bottom of the door, where it was in the water. The symbol on the front of the door melted away, and then the heat of the door left, as quickly as it had come. Itachi opened the now plain door and walked through, not waiting for Naruto. Naruto cursed under his breath, muttering a few choice words learned from a childhood on the street.

He ran to catch up to Itachi again, but paused once he passed through the doorway. Because there, not twenty feet in front of him, was a large cage. No, not just a large cage, an immense cage, with the door being over a hundred feet high. But, strangely enough, the door had no lock. All it had was a scrap of paper holding it shut, which had a couple of symbols on it. Naruto had never learned to read or write Kanji, and he was clueless as to what it meant. Itachi didn't seem bothered by any of it, though, and walked up to the door of the cage.

He examined the door of the cage minutely for a minute, with Naruto hanging back at the entrance of the room. Then, he turned around and beckoned Naruto, who walked up warily, still remembering his singed fingers. Itachi pointed at the door, and Naruto went up to the door and reached out to it. He hesitated for a moment and looked at Itachi, who nodded at him. He choked down his fear and laid his hand on one of the bars, praying it wouldn't burn him. Much to his joy, it didn't. In fact, it didn't seem to react at all. He turned around and looked at Itachi, who was slowly backing away.

"Oi, Itachi! Where the hell you going?" Itachi didn't reply, but simply kept backing away. Naruto was getting somewhat freaked out by now. "Ano, Itachi, what's going on?" Itachi froze and looked up and behind Naruto. Naruto, wondering what was behind him, made to turn around, but couldn't seem to move his legs. He looked down and saw that his legs and feet were encased in a red bubbling energy. From behind him, he heard a strange noise, like a really big dog growling. He craned his neck backwards to see what was behind him.

He saw a huge fox, easily a hundred feet tall, crouching down and staring at him. It had red fur and nine waving tails, and its crimson eyes were slitted and filled with anger. It continued growling at him, and its breath stank of death and blood. Its gigantic claws were stained crimson with blood, and its tails thrashed against the walls of the cage. Naruto stared at the thing, eyes wide open, and every muscle in his body shaking in terror. The demon's great head came right up to the bars of the cage, taking great sniffs of the boy, getting a feel for his scent. Its eyes widened, then narrowed in incredible malice. It snapped its teeth at Naruto, roaring in rage. Then it lifted a great paw and thrust it at Naruto, its razor sharp claws gleaming dully.

But, before it could strike, Itachi was there, breaking Naruto free and carrying him away from the fox. The fox howled in frustration, the sound rattling every bone in Naruto's small body. Itachi stood resolute despite the great beast's rage, and his eyes blazed out in full crimson glory. He set Naruto down on the wet ground and moved towards the fox, his eyes focused on it, staring it down. He walked right up to the bars, and the fox's roars died away into nothingness as it stared at him.

"I am Uchiha Itachi. You will not harm this boy. Calm down, he means you no harm." The fox snarled again, intrigued in this boy who dared to challenge him.

"And who are you, who so boldly challenges the Kyuubi no Kitsune? Come, insolent brat, show me the power in your eyes." Itachi bowed his head and closed his eyes for a moment, as if in prayer. Then he lifted his head once more and his eyes slammed open, blazing in all their crimson might. The Kyuubi stared right back at him, testing his mettle. Then it reared its head back and laughed, a thunderous noise that shook the foundations of the cage. "I see confidence and arrogance in your gaze, boy. I find you deserving of the power of the Sharingan. Such power I have not seen since last I laid eyes on Uchiha Madara. His blood flows true in you, I see." Itachi's eyes widened in wonder and he bowed to the great fox, paying homage to his power.

"I have heard tales of your might and greatness, Kyuubi-sama, but truly I see that you surpass them all. I am glad you find me worthy of the power you so graciously gave to my ancestors. I promise you that the fiery will that you gave us will not be lost. I will ensure that." Kyuubi chuckled again, obviously liking Itachi's attitude.

"Excellent. I would hate to see such a powerful gift go to waste. And why have you brought that thing into my chambers? I will not forgive even one such as you of this crime." The Kyuubi glared at Naruto, some of its malice coming back into its crimson eyes. Naruto, who had been scared up until now, got pissed off by the insult. Who is this fox, that he thinks he can get off with calling ME a thing? I'll rip him a new asshole! He ran up to stand next to Itachi and stuck his small hands on his hips.

"Listen here, you damn fox! No one insults Uzumaki Naruto! I'll beat your head in so far, you'll shit it out!" The Kyuubi stared at him, shock and amusement strong in its bestial features. Then, it laughed louder than ever.

"Brat, you would threaten ME? Young one, you perhaps do not realize who I am. I am the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the Head of the Fox Clan, the Lord of Fire! You are nothing more than a maggot compared to the likes of me, boy! I shall-" He was cut off by Naruto, who was getting madder and madder the more the Kyuubi talked.

"Yeah, yeah, SHUT UP, you furry bastard! No one gives a shit about who you are! I'm Uzumaki Naruto, and I'm gonna kick your fuzzy ass all the back to hell!" Naruto was screaming at the fox now, clutching onto the bars of the cage with all his strength. The Kyuubi stared at him, incredulous. Then its lips parted in an immense grin.

"Heh, there seems to be more to you than meets the eye. Maybe you are fit to be my vessel. Itachi, what think you of this boy?" Itachi knelt before Kyuubi, arms crossed in supplication. Naruto was stunned by this, but was ignored.

"Kyuubi-sama, he seems remarkably resilient, even without your aid. His chakra reserves are far beyond normal, especially for a child his age. His potential is greater than almost any other that I have seen, excepting myself. There is, of course, his unfortunate lack of a bloodline, but no one is perfect. I would give him my approval, Kyuubi-sama, with your permission." Naruto stared bug-eyed at Itachi, wondering how Itachi had figured out that much about him in just a minute or so of looking at him. Kyuubi was nodding in acceptance of Itachi's answer, and gave Naruto a close scrutiny.

"Very well. You say his body should be adequate, and I have seen the strength of his spirit. Now, what of his mind? I cannot see his conscious thought, thanks to this seal." Naruto stared at the fox in anger.

"Bastard fox, you calling me stupid? I'll kill you! I'll-" he was interrupted by a roar from the Kyuubi, and fell over on his ass, staring at the fox in fright.

"You will be SILENT! You have proven your courage already, little one, now prove your wisdom. It is not wise to aggravate an enemy who outmatches you in power. Follow Itachi's example." At this Itachi looked up, his eyes calculating and cold, at the Kyuubi. It chuckled again, a low rumble spreading through the room. "Yes, Itachi, I know you are merely pretending. If I thought that you were truly being so subservient, I would kill you myself. A true Uchiha, with a fiery spirit, would never bow before anyone." Itachi nodded in understanding and stood to his feet, glancing in dismay at his now wet knees.

"You are correct, Kyuubi. I bow to no man. Or demon, for that matter. And, as to Naruto's mental ability, that I cannot judge. I trust that he will be sufficient for your needs, though. Now, will you give him your blessing, Kyuubi?" Naruto looked from Itachi to Kyuubi, wondering what was happening. Kyuubi went quiet, seeming to consider Itachi's words carefully.

"Yes, I will give him my blessing. Young one, I shall grant you my power. But are you ready for it? Are you prepared to be an outcast, to be hated and feared, to be alone because of your power? Truly, what I give you is a double-edged blade. Have you strength enough to bear the burden? This is the only time I will offer it." The fox went silent again, staring at Naruto. Itachi stared as well, wondering if Naruto was able to accept. Itachi knew the depths of the fox's statement, and he realized the pain of being hated and feared because of your power, to become arrogant because of your strength.

Naruto was shocked. A gigantic fox had yelled at him, told him to shut up, then offered him power. He didn't know what to think. But then his mind brought up memories. Of being thrown out of the orphanage at three years old. Of being at the point of starvation over and over. Of wondering why he was alone, why he was hated. Of thinking that he had a friend, only to be abandoned later. Of hoping for a better future, only to find his present nearly unbearable. He gritted his teeth in anger as he thought back to all the times people had treated him cruelly, taking what little he had away from him, leaving him with nothing.

His eyes snapped up to look Kyuubi dead in the eyes, searching for some note of anger or trickery. But there was nothing there, nothing that he could read. His life had taught him over and over again to trust no one, to doubt everything. Yet here was Itachi, who he had never seen before in his life, who actually came to him with aid. This guy, who couldn't have been older than fifteen, who opened the door to power for Naruto. Now, all he had to do was accept the fox's offer, and he would be able to defend himself. No more beatings, no more having to steal, no more weakness.

A grin spread over his small face, accented by the whisker marks on his cheeks. A tear ran down his face, and Itachi started. He looked closely at Naruto's face, and shook his head. He saw, reflected in the lad's eyes, the pain and misery he had gone through all of his life. To never know happiness, to never have someone to love, someone to cry with, someone to help and be helped by. He, at least, had Sasuke, his little brother. He tried to imagine Naruto's life, and blanched at the thought. Even though it was only a little over five years long, it had enough pain and anguish in it to last a century. No child should have to go through such torment.

However, his thoughts were interrupted by Naruto's voice. "Oi, fox, I'll take it." Itachi looked at the boy again, startled by the incredible mix of emotions in the boy's voice. The fox seemed taken aback, as well. It had thought that there was too much fear in Naruto, too much that he couldn't face. He wouldn't have expected this small boy to accept so quickly. The fox decided to give him one last chance to change his mind.

"You are sure, small one? This is the path that you will walk? And you know what this entails?" Naruto nodded, his mind obviously made up. Kyuubi sighed in acceptance. "Very well, then. Boy, go to the seal on the door. That scrap of paper. Now, when I tell you to, remove it from the doorway. But ONLY when I tell you to; any sooner or later, and we shall both perish." Naruto nodded his acceptance, and walked over to the door of the cage. When he reached it, the seal descended from its place up high on the doorway until it was directly in front of Naruto. He turned to the Kyuubi and nodded, waiting for his signal.

At the lad's show of readiness, the Kyuubi closed his eyes, delving deep into his vast memory to find what he sought. If the seal was removed, then both Naruto and the Kyuubi would die, and that was the last thing that the demon wanted. So, he had to find another seal that would work more to their benefit. After a minute of searching through the dusty corners of his mind, he found one that would work. It was an old Fox seal that could easily be modified, so that he could do what was necessary. Bending his head down, he touched his nose to the back of the cage door and prepared the seal. When all was ready, he sent Naruto a quick mental signal, signifying his own readiness.

Naruto pulled with all his might, ripping it off the cage door. Right as it left the surface of the door, the Kyuubi implanted his seal into the gap left behind. The door writhed and contorted, as the seal began to take form. Soon, the door was twisted into another shape altogether. The bars of the door were removed, and the new seal seemed to hang in midair. The entire cage had disappeared, and the only proof of the Kyuubi's imprisonment lay in a glowing blue line that ran across the floor, ceiling, and walls. But, there was a small two foot gap in the blue line on the floor, where the color changed from blue to red. Itachi walked over to the discolored line and inspected it, nodding his approval.

"There, it is done. Boy, I give to you my power, my skill, and my knowledge. It will come slowly, over time, lest it destroy you. With this gift, you have become my representative on this world of Ningenkai. Also… There is one more thing to be done. Come here, boy." Naruto moved forward until he came to the red line. He hesitated for a moment, then stepped through it. Once he reached the inside of the cage, the Kyuubi reached down and nuzzled the back of his left shoulder with its huge nose.

Naruto screamed in pain. It felt like his shoulder was on fire, and he reached through the neck of his T-shirt to grasp his wounded shoulder. After a moment, the pain left him, and he took off his shirt to examine his shoulder. There, on the outside of the shoulder where the Kyuubi's nose had touched him, was a strange mark. It was a strange mark, some kind of Kanji that he couldn't read.

"Ano, Kyuubi, I can't read that. What does it say?" The fox looked at him in an almost friendly way.

"That, little one, is in the language of the Kitsune. It marks you as one of our own, and serves as a warning to those who would attack you. Welcome to the clan, Kit. You're one of the foxes now." Naruto looked startled for a moment, before a wide grin came to his face. Tears started pouring down his eyes, and he looked at the Kyuubi in amazement.

"You mean… I have a clan? Really?" The fox laughed at the boy, wondering at his amazement.

"Yes, kit. And don't disgrace the name of the Kitsune with your ridiculous antics. Now, be gone, boy. I have things to do. Itachi, take him from here." Itachi nodded in understanding, and grabbed the shocked Naruto by the arm and hauled him off. Just as they got to the door of the room, Kyuubi stopped them. "Kit, one last thing. You can access my power, but NEVER take more than I give you. Understood, boy?" Naruto looked at him, curiosity overcoming caution.

"What do you mean, 'I can use your power'? What are you talking about, baka fox?" Kyuubi growled in fake anger at the kid's new nickname for him.

"I meant exactly what I said. I will hold you responsible for what happens if you do not do as I say, kit." This last statement was accompanied by a demonic stare, and Naruto cowered back in fright, nodding vigorously.

"You got it, boss! I won't disobey! I promise!" Naruto stood straight and gave a stiff salute. Itachi had to stifle a chucke, and the Kyuubi grinned widely.

"I'll hold you to that, brat. Now, get going." Itachi grabbed Naruto roughly by the shoulders and spun him around to face him. He looked deeply into Naruto's eyes, the Sharingan wheel spinning rapidly. Naruto felt a strange feeling in his eyes, and he blinked to make it leave. When he blinked though, his eyes wouldn't open again. He struggled, but then he lost all strength and senses. He fell into unconsciousness.

Suddenly, his vision was restored. He blinked and looked around, once more finding himself in the alley. His body didn't hurt, and he flexed and tensed his muscles to feel for any injuries. Surprisingly, he couldn't feel anything. He shrugged it off and started looking for Itachi, who he found collapsed on the alley pavement at Naruto's feet. He panicked and knelt down next to Itachi, shaking him.

"Oi, Itachi-san, you ok? Oi, what's wrong? Say something, you bastard!" Naruto was starting to get hysterical, full of fear that the only nice person he'd ever known might've died. He kept on shaking him, trying to get him to wake up, to say something, to convince Naruto that he was all right. But nothing happened. He was completely unresponsive.

Naruto released the body, sitting down on the ground. Tears flowed from his eyes, and the more he wiped them away, the more they came. "Dammit, why did he have to die? He was a nice guy. He treated me okay, and now he's dead! It's not FAIR! IT'S NOT FAIR!" He balled his hands and pounded them into Itachi's back, becoming hysterical.

Suddenly, a hand shot up from underneath Itachi's body, grasping Naruto's neck in a vice grip. Naruto froze, fear freezing his muscles. Then Itachi's body moved, rolling sideways away from Naruto. Naruto gasped in shock as he saw Itachi's eyes wide open and staring at him, and the hand around his neck gripped even harder, choking him. Naruto was gasping for air now, both from the shock and the chokehold.

"Naruto… If you EVER hit me while I'm asleep again… You will not live to regret it…" Itachi's eyes closed again, going back into the peaceful sleep in which Naruto had roused him from. The hand around Naruto's neck relaxed and fell away, leaving him panting and gasping for air. Naruto rubbed his throat, feeling the bruises on his neck from Itachi's chokehold. Suddenly, he heard a chuckling. He glanced around him, worried that he was going to get beaten again, but he saw no one. He heard it again, this time louder, and stood up straight in preparation to run away.

'Stand down, kit. It is only me. By Enma, you are as tense and high-strung as a newborn pup. Calm down, young one.' Naruto looked around for the source of the voice, getting seriously freaked out.

"Hey, come out! Stop hiding!" He heard the chuckling again, and got pissed. "Dammit, cut it out! Where the hell are you?" This time, full blown laughter. "DAMMIT! STOP IT!"

'Silence, kit. I am speaking to you mentally. This is a direct communication between my psyche and yours, and no amount of shouting will change that.' Naruto quieted down before reflecting on what he had just been told.

"Um… What the hell did you just say? I didn't understand it." There was a long heartfelt groan, and some small muttering .

'Ah, I see. Looks like you have a lot to learn, if you could not understand even that. Very well, on account of your age, I am willing to teach you. Shall I make it simple? I am in your head, kit.'. Naruto seemed to understand at last, and thought about it carefully.

"So, you're that big fox that I saw? Kyu-something?" there was a roar from within his mind.

'Kyu-something? Is that how you address the Kyuubi no Kitsune, brat? You're lucky I feel merciful today, kit. And don't talk to me out loud, it looks stupid. Simply think the words you wish to say to me.' There was a long pause as Naruto's five year old brain processed this new information. Then, something clicked, and he understood.

'So, you're saying that you're in my head? So all that stuff that happened with me and Itachi-san, that was all in my head? How'd that happen?' Kyuubi chuckled again, this time in surprise.

"Good, you have a brain in your head. Itachi holds a great gift, something I gave one of his ancestors. It has been passed down his family for generations. You know it as the Sharingan.' Naruto nodded, thinking back to Itachi's crimson eyes.

'Ok, I get that, but how does that let him into my head? That still doesn't make any sense.' Kyuubi sighed again, obviously wearying of explaining everything.

'Kit, I am not in the mood to explain it right now. Ask him next time you get the chance. But, before I go, there are a few things I do have to explain. One of them is the current state of your body.' Naruto was puzzled, and started examining himself, looking over his condition.

'Ano, I look okay. What do you mean?' Kyuubi made an impatient noise.

'Kit, that's the whole point. You're fine. But just a short time ago, you had multiple broken bones and fractures, and a remarkably big concussion. And now you're just fine. Aren't you wondering why?' Naruto bent his head in though, pondering the Kyuubi's words.

'Nope! As long as I'm feel ok, I don't care why it happened!' He laughed as he heard the Kyuubi groan in aggravation. 'Ok, ok, just kidding! So, why did it happen, baka fox?'

'Firstly, never call me that. You will refer to me as Lord Kyuubi, and be damned grateful for the opportunity! Now, as for the cause of your condition, you may also thank me for that. A side effect of my chakra is the regeneration of bodily cells and tissues, which is far more efficient than your own natural processes of flesh restoration.' Naruto puzzled his way through half of the explanation, completely ignoring the Kyuubi's initial point, and discovered that he had no idea what the demon was talking about.

'Ano… You're not making any sense. Can you explain that again?' There was silence from Kyuubi for a long moment, as he strove to maintain what self-control he had left.

'Look, brat, my chakra heals you. Ok? That's all you need to know for now. There are some other effects in your body as well, such as advanced hearing and sight, as well as enhanced smell and taste. There may be other side effects, but I cannot know until they become apparent. You are the first human ever to be inducted into the Kitsune clan, kit. Make sure that you prove yourself worthy of the honor.' As he finished his speech, he noticed that Naruto was being exceptionally quiet. 'What ails you, boy?'

'Ano… What's chakra?' There was a long, long pause, and Naruto was afraid that the Kyuubi had gone for good. What? Was it something I said? But, before long, Kyuubi replied, but in a weary and tired voice.

'Kit, you don't know anything. I'll have to teach you so much… Well, for now, just think of chakra as your life energy, which grows as you do. Because I've lived for a long time, I have quite a bit of chakra. This is at your disposal, boy, and I expect you to be grateful. Now, leave me be. I wish to sleep. Until next time, kit.' The voice in the back of Naruto's head went silent, leaving Naruto to ponder what the Kyuubi had told him. Speaking of the Kyuubi…

He tried to remember what little he had heard concerning the beast. No one ever said anything directly to Naruto about it, but he had overheard a conversation between the Sandaime Hokage and one of his shinobi. They had met in an alley where Naruto was sleeping in a dumpster, and were talking about something that was happening off in some other country. Well, somewhere in the conversation, someone had said something about demons, and piqued Naruto's interest. But all they mentioned about the Kyuubi was that it had attacked Konoha and was responsible for the death of the Yondaime Hokage. But, if that was true, why was the demon inside Naruto? And why the hell was there a seal on his bellybutton?

He thought some more, surprisingly deep considering his five years of age. But Naruto was a child of the streets, and if you can't think quickly and think well on the spot, you won't live long. Many were the time when Naruto was surrounded by people intent on beating him to a pulp, only to trick them and disappear. He had learned to be fast, to be cautious, and to never trust anyone. He wasn't cautious when he stole that moldy loaf the baker had left in the alley, and was thrashed soundly because of it.

Another thing the dark alleyways of Konoha had taught him was that he would do anything to survive. He would have died before ever he turned four, had he not turned to stealing to get food. He couldn't get by on begging, because if he was seen by anyone, they would either run away or attack him. He had never been sure why they did, only that they would keep screaming 'demon' at him. Which was why he had been so interested in the conversation between the Hokage and his subordinate.

Now that he knew that the Kyuubi, the demon fox that had ravaged the village, and Naruto, the little lad who everyone hated, were linked. He didn't know why or how, but he knew that it was. Now that he thought back on everything that had happened to him in just the past thirty minutes, he was amazed. After all, its not every day you get beaten within an inch of your life, then have a red-eyed shinobi introduce you to a demon hiding inside your stomach. And then being informally inducted into the demon's clan and given access to its power… Well, it just sounded crazy.

But, there was something he couldn't understand. From what he knew, the evil monster that killed the Yondaime and the arrogant fox inside his belly were the same being. But, if this fox was so evil, then why was it taking the time to explain things to Naruto, and even making an effort to be civil to him? It simply didn't make sense, and he wasn't sure what to make of it. Sure, Kyuubi was arrogant and impatient, but it didn't seem like such a bad sort. But, then again, he remembered the thing's attitude when it first saw Naruto. That fierce anger, that murderous intent; that couldn't have been faked. But why the sudden change in attitude?

He groaned and clutched his head, which was starting to throb. Either that concussion wasn't completely gone, or all that thinking was giving him a headache. Either way, he was hungry, and the loaf was no longer edible. Well, in a pinch, he would eat it, but he could smell something. It was a hot, humid smell, with a spicy punch to it. Whatever it was, it smelled heavenly, and he walked towards it in a daze, captivated in the smell of it. He tripped over the sleeping body of Itachi, which served to shake him out of his daze. Standing up once more, he followed the scent, breaking into a jog and looking from side to side in search of the source of that heavenly aroma.

At the other mouth of the alley, he came to a stop. It was close; whatever was making that smell was right next to him. He looked to his right and saw a small food stand, open to the street. He walked around to the front of the stand to get a better look at it. By now it was late at night, and the stand was closed, but there was still a light on in it. He walked up to the front of the stand, slightly pushing aside the low-hanging flaps that hung from the front of the roof so he could get a better look inside.

He saw a bar, with six stools lined up in a row in front of it, and a small kitchen behind the bar. There was some Kanji written above the bar, but he couldn't read it. But, in the small kitchen behind the bar, he saw a pretty girl, no more than thirteen years old, set a bowl down on the counter. Naruto's eyes focused on the bowl, and he instantly sensed that the delicious aroma was coming from that bowl. He started to drool at the mere thought of eating it, but managed to contain his hunger as he continued to watch the girl. She had grabbed some kitchen utensils, then turned and went into the back of the kitchen, rounding a corner and going out of sight. Soon Naruto heard water running, and assumed that she was washing the dishes.

He couldn't wait any longer. His stomach was sending signals to the brain, demanding that he eat that bowl. What shreds that were left of his conscience hesitated, as he had a soft spot for women and didn't want to steal a girl's dinner, but his stomach overrode it. He ducked under the flaps, not wanting to set off the bell, and ran up to the bowl. He paused for a second, looking at the contents. It was perfect. It was some sort of soup, with a deliciously rich brown texture, and was filled to the brim with long steaming noodles, huge chunks of meat, and hot spices. He could wait no longer. He grabbed the bowl and upended the contents into his mouth, eating half the bowl in one go.

He was awestruck by the flavor. Never before had his taste buds been given such a treat before. The broth danced over his tongue, the spices setting his mouth aflame in delicious hotness. The chunks of meat were tender and juicy, and the noodles were heavenly. He set the half empty bowl down with an ecstatic thump, letting his mouth savor the taste. After he finished swallowing what he had in his mouth, he raised the bowl to his lips and devoured most of what remained. The second mouthful was even more divine than the first. He slowly sipped what was left of the broth, not wanting to end such a fine meal too quickly.

However, he had failed to remember the presence of the girl, nor had he noticed the water being turned off. He heard a high-pitched laugh, and he suddenly realized his mistake. He set the bowl down quickly and turned to run, but tripped over his own feet. Stumbling, he fell backwards onto one of the bar stools and landed on the floor with a crash. He tried to get up, but he couldn't seem to find his footing. Then, he heard more laughter, and looked up at the young girl.

She was standing next to him, laughing heartily at his predicament. She didn't seem particularly angry or upset, just amused. She knelt down beside him, still chuckling, looking over his ragged appearance. She looked from him to the nearly empty bowl sitting on the counter, and a smile came to her face. She sttod up and reached down to the frightened Naruto, offering him a hand up. He gazed at the hand fearfully, frightened that she might be tricking him. Enough villagers had pretended to be nice to him, then try and hurt him, that he was frightened of everybody. She grinned widely, the hand still extended out towards him, her face bright and cheerful. Naruto hesitated one moment longer, than grabbed her hand, allowing himself to be lifted up onto his feet.

She hauled him off the ground, setting the small boy on his feet. She patted his head, and gave him a big grin.

"So, did you like the ramen?" Naruto started, sheepishly scratching his head. He knew what was coming; she would be nice at first, then get mad at him, then do something to him. He didn't know exactly what, but he knew it wouldn't be fun. Well, might as well get this over with.

"Yeah, it was great. So, can you hurry up and yell at me so I can go?" Naruto braced himself, preparing for the verbal and physical onslaught that was sure to come. But, instead of the outrageous anger, there was only another pat on his head and a chuckle.

"I'm not gonna yell at you! It was just ramen, after all. Besides, I can always make more! But it was my special recipe I just made, and I wanted to know if you liked it." Naruto was startled by her calm, but was swept away in a rush of ecstasy as he remembered the delicious soup that had sated his hunger.

"Oh, yeah! That stuff was awesome! I've never had anything so good!" his reaction put a great big grin on her face, and she ruffled his hair happily.

"Good! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! Well, would you like another bowl?" Naruto's jaw dropped. His vision went blurry as he stared teary-eyed at the girl. His mouth hung open, and drool slowly dripped out of it. The girl laughed again, then walked back behind the counter. "I'm guessing that's a yes. Alrighty, one Ayame-chan special coming right up!" He stared at her as she went into full chef-mode, whipping out utensils and ingredients. Her fingers danced over the ingredients, opening this package, unsealing that bottle, dumping this herb in that bowl. In a flash, she had the noodles in the water, which was already coming to a boil. As they soaked, she quickly cut and prepared the meat, adding spices liberally to it. As the noodles finished soaking, she quickly added the meat and seasonings, stirring it rapidly. She added a few more select spices and herbs, and kept stirring it. Then, it was done.

Naruto watched the bowl be set before him, watching the girl lay down a pair of chopsticks, watched as she drew up a stool next to him and motioned to the steaming bowl. With a quivering hand, he reached for the chopsticks, grasping them in an inexperienced hand. He fumbled with them, but because all his attention was focused on the bowl in front of him he found it difficult to use them. Tossing the chopsticks over his shoulder, he grabbed the bowl in both hands and brought it to his lips and upended it into his mouth. Getting about a fourth of the bowl this time, he slowly chewed the meat and noodles, feeling the flavorful broth slosh over his tongue. He swallowed and poured the bowl into his mouth once more. He repeated this until the bowl was empty, and he was patting his small belly in contentment.

"Wow, that stuff is the best! I've never had something that good before!" He picked up the bowl and started licking the insides of it clean, desperate to get all the delicious soup that he could. However, all he got was a whack to the head as the girl grabbed the bowl, shaking her head at him.

"That's bad manners! I'm glad you liked it so much, but don't lick the bowl, didn't your mother ever teach you that?" She looked at him for a moment, watching his face slowly go from happy to depressed, and he slouched down into his stool. She got worried by this behavior. "Ano… You DO have a mother, right?" he shook his head despondently, wishing this had never come up.

"No, I don't have any parents. I live on my own." The girl gasped in sympathy, and she was silent for a second.

"Ok, where do you live? I can walk you home!" She acted quite cheerful for a moment, intent on cheering him up as much as she could. But Naruto only got more depressed, and shoved his hands in his pockets.

"Don't live anywhere." She looked at him in some amazement.

"Well, where's your home? Don't you have one?" He shook his head again, feeling awful about this whole thing.

"Nope. Never have." The girl gasped, and brought a hand to her mouth. She was shocked to say the least. She didn't know that people lived without homes. And he didn't have any parents, which made her feel even sorrier for him. She had lost her mom when she was seven, and she couldn't imagine how hard it would be living without her dad as well. She looked at Naruto, examining him closely. Having no family and no home would definitely account for the ragged clothes He looked malnourished, too, and she could almost see his ribs under his shirt. Her heart panged with sympathy, and she felt sorry for the boy.

"Ano… You don't have any family? No one?" Naruto looked down, not wanting to meet her eyes as he slowly shook his head. The girl looked at him another moment, then grinned. "Okay, then! I'm your new sister!" Naruto looked up, startled. "What, you don't believe me? On the honor of Ichiraku Ramen, I'll be your new sister! That's a promise!" Naruto's eyes teared up again, and he hugged her as hard as he could. Tears began flowing down his eyes as he realized how lucky he was today. First, he got a cool tattoo from a fox, then he got an awesome meal, and now he got a new sister! Could this day get any better? "And to celebrate this, how about another bowl of ramen?" Correction. The day just got better. Naruto melted with joy, still hugging her with every ounce of strength in his scrawny arms.

The girl stood there a moment longer, hugging him back as best she could. However, he was a good two feet shorter than her, and she had to bend down to do it. She waited for several long moments before poking Naruto in the ribs, trying to get him to let go. He finally did so, and she went into the kitchen to once more work her magic. Naruto sat on the stool once more, mastering his emotions and wiping the tears from his eyes. He felt… good. It was a nice feeling, and he was surprised that he felt so good. As far back as he could remember, his life had been cold and harsh. But now, suddenly, things had taken a turn for the better. He profusely thanked whatever god was listening for his good fortune. However, his prayers were interrupted by another bowl being set before him. He reached out towards it, but was stopped by the girl.

"So, can I know the name of my new little brother? I'm Ayame, by the way. Ichiraku Ayame." She sat down next to him with a bowl of her own in front of her, waiting for his answer.

"Ano, I'm Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto. Arigato, Ayame-neesan!" He reached for the bowl, but again was stopped by Ayame. She laughed at his efforts, and shook her finger at him.

"Manners, manners! When you meet someone for the first time, you say 'Hajimemashite'! Now, try again!" She cupped her free hand to her ear, waiting for his answer. His face red, he ducked his head, embarrassed despite himself.

"Ano… Hajimemashite, Ayame-neesan… Can I eat now?" Ayame laughed at him again, removing her hand and offering a couple of chopsticks.

"Sure you can, Naruto, but not like you ate the last bowl! You have to use these chopsticks!" Naruto took them and looked at them warily, as if they were intending to attack him. After a long moment, he held a chopstick in each hand and was trying to skewer the chunks of meat with them, but to little success. Ayame saw this and chuckled a little.

"No, silly! Here, let me show you how to hold them." She grabbed the chopsticks and demonstrated how to hold them. "And here, this is how you pick them up." She showed him how to grasp the meat and noodles in between the sticks. He was a little confused at first, but managed to hold them correctly. But whenever he tried to grasp something in his bowl, it slipped out of his grasp. Ayame patted his back encouragingly. "Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it in no time!" She snapped her own chopsticks apart, accompanied by a quick "Itadakimasu!"

Sure enough, in a few minutes Naruto had improved dramatically in his chopstick skills, and was using them to chow down on the delicious soup. With his mouth full, he turned to Ayame. "Oi, what's this stuff called?" Ayame bonked him a good one on the back of the hand, and shook a correcting finger at him.

"Don't talk with your mouth full, Naruto! It's gross! And it's called ramen; me and my dad run this stand." Naruto, feeling the small bruise on the back of his head, nodded and went back to his food, too engrossed in eating it to wonder why it was called 'ramen'. He finished his bowl shortly and set his chopsticks carefully in his bowl. He looked at the empty dish in satisfaction, since normally he didn't even eat any kind of supper, much less three entire bowls of ramen. He rubbed his stomach softly, feeling its happy gurgling.

"Ne, Ayame-neesan, why are you being nice to me? No one is ever nice to me." Ayame looked at him for a moment, but then her eyes became moist with barely controlled tears. She quickly grabbed the empty ramen bowls and disappeared into the back of the kitchen. She turned on the sink back there and set the dishes into it, staring at them for a moment. Then her control broke, and she grabbed the edge of the sink and cried. She cried hard, hoping that the sound of the running water would drown out any sound that Naruto might hear. But, when she saw Naruto look at her with that sad face, and heard him ask her that question, she saw so much sadness and despair his bright blue eyes. She saw his hurt, his broken hopes, his shattered dreams, his forgotten future. She couldn't take it; she just couldn't bear the pain.

Then, she felt something warm latch on to her, and she looked down at it. It was Naruto, gazing up at her with great big tears in his eyes. "Don't cry, Ayame-neesan! I'm sorry if I made you sad! I'm really, really sorry!" Then he broke down and buried his head into her thigh, wailing in unleashed sadness. Ayame's heart nearly broke at the sight, and she knelt down beside him and took him into her arms. She let him cry out all his pain and all his sadness, simply hugging him back. This went on for nigh on fifteen minutes, and at the end of it little Naruto was hoarse from crying. Ayame wiped the last of the tears from her eyes as she looked at a small clock in the kitchen. She gasped in horror.

"Oh, no! I was supposed to be home 30 minutes ago! Oh, I totally forgot! And I still have to close down the stand, too…" she pouted for a moment, then bustled around the kitchen, cleaning and sorting as quick as she could. Naruto, all tired out from his crying, could only watch in amazement as she whirled about the kitchen like a tornado. Before five minutes had passed, the kitchen was spotless. She turned to Naruto and flashed him a victory sign, sticking her tongue out. Naruto gave her a big grin and a high five, and together they left the kitchen. She turned off the lights and locked up the storage shed and kitchen, before walking around to the front of the stand. Reaching up to the top of the low-hanging roof, she grabbed the metal sheet that hung there and drew it down, unrolling it. She brought it all the way to the ground, efficiently covering the front entrance in a sheet of metal.

She backed away and observed her handiwork, dusting her hands off as she did so. Naruto flashed her a thumbs up, which she gladly returned. She turned to Naruto, reaching out with a hand and ruffling his hair in a friendly way.

"So, where are you off to tonight, little bro?" The big grin remained on his face, but his eyes no longer smiled.

"Ano… I know a good alley. No worries, I'm set for the night! Seeya later, Ayame-neesan!" Ayame was startled for a moment as he turned and ran off down the road.

"OI, NARUTO! DON'T FORGET TO COME BY TOMORROW!" Naruto merely waved over his shoulder as he continued running down the street. He turned into a small alley and disappeared from her sight, but not from her thoughts. She gazed at where the small boy had just been, feeling an awful pain in her heart. She resolved to talk to her dad about it tonight, even if he got mad that she was home late. She turned and set off towards her home, her mind still on her newfound blonde brother.

The said blonde was currently running at top speed down another road, on his way back to one of his favorite sleeping spots. As he ran, he though over the events of the night, and remembered the wash of emotions that had swept over him. Suddenly, a voice popped up in the back of his head.

'Well, seems like you had a good evening. I presume everything went well?' he was wondering why his brain was talking to him for a moment, then realized that it was merely his foxy tenant.

'Yeah, tonight was awesome! I had a great new kind of food called Ramen, and I met a really nice girl! She made me her little brother! And the ramen was soooooo good! It had these awesome noodles with really nice bits of beef, and the spice was…' and he went on and on about this new food he had discovered, with Kyuubi listening on in amusement. Apparently, his vessel was in a rare good mood. He thought back to his earlier years of imprisonment under the Shiki Fuujin seal, and shuddered. Naruto's mood affects his cage and surrounding environment, and for two years now it had been nothing but terrible. Kyuubi reflected on those days when all there was sadness and misery in the air, and he hoped those days would never come again. So, for his own sake, he would try to keep the boy out of his depression. He tried to pay attention to Naruto, as it seemed that he was finally winding down his mental tirade.

'and the best thing about the noodles was probably the way they slithered down your throat, like eating a wet snake!' Naruto giggled a little as he thought of eating a wet snake, and pretended to gag in disgust. Kyuubi decided it was time to put this conversation on safer footing.

'I appreciate the fact you like ramen, but enough talking about it. More importantly, you must remember that you are hated by the villagers. Therefore, you must be exceedingly cautious that no one knows that you are on such good terms with this ramen woman. Understand, kit?' Naruto wrinkled his nose in puzzlement.

'Ano, not really. Could you explain that?' Kyuubi sighed, hoping his patience could withstand the force of curiosity that was Naruto.

'Very well. The villagers dislike you intensely, and, as is often the case with strong emotion, it causes the to lash out at anything connected to you. In this case, it would be this Ramen woman.' Naruto puzzled through this statement, but still couldn't understand. Kyuubi tried again. 'Perhaps an example is in order. Let us say that you own a house. The villagers hate you, and know that the house is yours. Therefore, they will ruin your house, simply because it belongs to you. Does that help any, kit? Naruto thought through it, then nodded as it finally clicked in his brain.

During this entire mental conversation, he had been getting closer and closer to his favorite sleeping spot, which consisted of a little fort made of cardboard boxes in the southwestern corner of Konoha. He had made the fort when he was four, hoping that it would keep mean people away. So far, it had worked, and no one had ever found him there. At least, he didn't think so.

He rounded the bend in the road and dived into his alley. But something stopped him dead in his tracks, and he glanced around cautiously around. There, on the ground in front of him, lay the poor remains of his little cardboard fort. It had been burned down, some pieces missing entirely with others merely getting charred. It was also water stained in places, and on of the boxes was full of shit. He sniffed the air, and instantly regretted it. The air was full of the stench of human urine, feces and… paint? He looked at the wall, seeing graffiti sprayed all over it. For the first time, he was glad he couldn't read, as it was probably something really mean. But there was one thing he managed to understand. It was a picture, and it was a crude drawing of some kind of four-legged beast with nine tails. He knew only one creature with nine tails.

He sat down next to the pathetic remnants of his fort, careful not to sit on anything gross. He thought of where to go next, and start flipping through various sleeping spots in Konoha. Hopefully, they had been left alone. Kyuubi knew that, despite Naruto's obvious sadness about the fate of his fort, he had to understand what he meant.

'You see, kit? It was yours, and they destroyed it. Do not let them destroy anything close to you. That's important, kit.' Naruto nodded, completely understanding what Kyuubi meant. However, the fox wasn't done yet. 'But, there is something else you must remember. Do not lose control. We who possess power must not use it badly. Not only will it destroy others, but it will destroy you. Do not make the same mistake I made, kit.' Naruto was intrigued by the last part of the Kyuubi's statement.

'Whoa, what do you mean, the same mistake you did? What happened?' Kyuubi merely ignored him, and Naruto gave up on getting an answer out of the enigmatic fox. He turned away from the pitiful remains of his favorite fort and ran off, going to one of his other sleeping places.

It wasn't long before he got there. Soon he was standing before an old abandoned shed, which was thankfully not found by his tormentors. He didn't like to sleep here too often because it was a little creepy, and he was still afraid of the dark. However, he steeled his nerves and walked inside the dark shed, his tiny fists clenched as he fought his fear down. He crossed the empty room to the ragged blanket. He grabbed it and spread it out on the ground to serve as a sort of mattress. Lying himself down on his makeshift pallet, he slowly drifted off to sleep, his mind plagued by memories of the day.

When he was asleep, a figure dropped from the ceiling of the shed, landing on the old floor without a sound. He stalked up to Naruto and looked at him. There was just enough light that one could see his face, which was contorted in rage and hate. His Konoha hitai-ate was visible on his forehead, and his vest and attire revealed his Jounin rank. He reached down to his shuriken holster and withdrew a particularly nasty kunai, curved and jagged edged, which dripped with poison. Taking this dagger, he knelt over Naruto, bringing his kunai to Naruto's throat. A flash of glee crossed his face as he prepared to take the life of the demon.

He took a moment before he killed the boy, remembering what had happened five years ago. He remembered seeing his fiancée die, ripped in half by one of the Kyuubi's enormous claws. His father, too, had died in the battle; one of the nine tails had swept him into the air, impaling him on a sharp rock. He remembered hearing the news that the Kyuubi had been sealed away in the kid, and felt again the old hatred. He bore no particular ill will against the boy, only the demon that dwelt within him. Well, no more. The demon would die by his hand, and its vessel as well. His eyes gleamed with a murderous intent, and his lips curled up in a grotesque snarl.

Suddenly, there was a small thump sound, and the Jounin jerked up right. His face passed from anger, to surprise, to sadness. He fell onto his side, panting for breath as blood dribbled down his lips. In his back was a standard kunai, buried up to its ring in his back, just behind his heart. Using his fading strength, he threw the poisoned kunai in his hand in the direction of his attacker, hoping to hit him. However, the kunai was snatched out of the air by his assailant, and the shadowy figure of his attacker came closer and closer. Then, he stood directly above the critically injured Jounin, just looking at him. The Jounin could make out his face, now, and gasped in horror. There, in front of him, was Uchiha Itachi, the poisoned custom kunai dangling from his fingers. He couldn't react as Itachi knelt next to him, looking closely at the kunai, then at the sleeping Naruto on the ground next to them. When he looked back at the Jounin, his eyes were full of malice. The jounin gulped, swallowing his own blood, and tried to calm down the furious Uchiha.

"Ano, Itachi-san, just relax! I'm doing you a favor, ok? The sooner we get this demon kid off our hands the better, right?" Itachi had had enough, and a hand snapped forward, grasping the fallen Jounin by the neck and lifting him into the air. Itachi stood up, carrying the unfortunate ninja with him, who was struggling to breathe. Itachi then took the poisoned kunai that was meant to be the death of Naruto, and brought it to the man's neck. The Jounin's eyes bulged, and his face became a pale white, tinged with blue due to his lack of air. Itachi then began sawing into the man's jugular, the skin bursting before the jagged edges of the blade. The man tried to scream as he saw his lifeblood gushing from his veins. Itachi, slowly being covered in the Jounin's blood, drew the curved kunai away from the man, dropping him face first onto the floor. The blood pooled and flowed about the floor, as the man slowly died from blood loss. Itachi, deciding to end things, lifted his foot and stomped hard on the kunai jutting from the man's back, shoving it through his chest and the floor underneath him. The Jounin gasped one final time as his heart burst after being pierced by Itachi's kunai, then slumped against the ground, motionless.

Itachi looked at the corpse on the floor before throwing the jagged kunai against the hard wood of the wall. He reached down and grabbed Naruto, picking him up off the floor and holding him in the air. Naruto mumbled in his sleep and slowly woke up, blinking and staring at Itachi. His mouth opened, about to say something, when Itachi's Sharingan flashed into life, drowning Naruto in its crimson glow. Naruto slumped into unconsciousness, and he knew no more.

AN: So, how was that? I bet you guys won't guess what will happen next chapter! Anyways, I'm still on the lookout for anyone who can speak Japanese somewhat fluently. Or, failing that, websites that will give you a decent translation. Email me with the info, plz!

I hope to make this fic unlike anything you're ever seen before, and plan for this baby to be LONG. Any questions or comments, just email me. And, as always, please review!