Welcome to Fox Hunting. I'm quite aware that Chapter 1 is a bit short. The following chapters should be longer. There are a few things you should know, if you're the considerate type who takes the time to read author's notes (all of you, give yourself a pat on the back). First, this is my first Naruto fic, my first anime/manga fic at all, to be honest. Second, I don't use suffixes and I keep Japanese to a minimum, only new names of people, places and things will be in Japanese (besides what already is, like kunai for example). Third, this is first-person, from Naruto's point of view. It's also my first fanfiction in first-person, but I like to think I did well. Finally, if you aren't familiar with my work, expect lots of action and a little humor, and not much in the way of romance. Okay, now that that's out of the way, enjoy the story!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, or any of the characters within. I only own the contents of this story.

Fox Hunting

Chapter 1

Unwell

I was being chased, I knew that much. I jumped through the forest, careful to use chakra to stick every tree branch landing. The trees looked unhealthy, and I was taking enough risk of landing on a branch that might break under my modest weight. I didn't need to risk slipping. I took a glance back as I hopped to the next branch. At least three people pursuing me. Good odds. I decided to let them draw closer before I fought back.

Another ten seconds, and I could make them out. They were shinobi all right, but no marker indicating their village. Black and red clothes covered their bodies from head to toe. There were three all right, although there could be more behind. And I was all alone. The realization hit me like a shuriken… I was all alone. Oh, wait. That was a shuriken. It stuck in the back of my shoulder, but didn't go very deep. Hurt like hell, though.

They were close enough now, and on the next jump, I twisted around, drew a trio of kunai, and let fly, one at where each target would be in a couple of seconds. Two of them hit their marks, which dissipated – regular old clones, nothing fancy – but the real foe, the one on the left, threw a ghostly white shuriken. It vaporized my kunai on contact (what kind of shuriken IS that?) and kept going, right towards me. I tried to evade in midair, but it still scored a shallow cut across my hand, which went numb.

"Weak…"

I ignored the voice and kept moving, taking a second to glance at the wound. To my shock, a demonic red aura was leaking from the wound. A very familiar demonic red aura. The red chakra poured from my hand, forming into the shape of a fox's head. The fanged likeness grew bigger and bigger, engulfing the red-and-black-clad nin. "No… get away…" I whispered, stepping backwards. I forgot there was nothing to step onto, and the next instant I slipped from the branch and fell, down into the darkness.

CRASH! I smashed through something flimsy, falling at a slower pace to whatever lay below. What lay below was yellow light and a few inches of water… I had hit my head too hard on the landing to make anything else out. I moaned as I sat up, and cradled my head until the pain subsided enough to see through.

"Kit… you are weak…"

Oh, crap. Ohhhh, crap. I was in the sewer. The sewer where I kept him. There were dark corridors everywhere, and ankle-deep water, and yellowed lights. I was in a large, high-ceilinged chamber, and I only knew one chamber like that. I turned around, and stared up at the demon's face.

The red eyes and sharp fangs glinted back at me, the same as always, but something was different. The gate was worn and dented, caving outward, and the seals on the cage were starting to smear and fade. Right where the two halves of the gate met, there was a gap, and although it wasn't even as wide as the space between the bars, it was certainly wider than I had last seen it. A steady stream of vivid red chakra poured out from this hole, tinting the water a vile orange color. The voice I had heard earlier… it was the Fox's.

"Your body is scrawny, weak, unacceptable. I will tear it apart, whelp, and construct a new, more fitting body… something to be proud of."

The tendrils of chakra reached out through the bars again, but this time, they weren't enveloping. They adhered to my skin, my clothes and pulled, and I screamed as they yanked me apart. They peeled my outer layer off like an onion… and underneath…

"AAAAAHHHH!" I jolted awake, panting hard, glancing around. No sewer. No dead forest. No mysterious ninja with glowing shuriken. And most importantly… no demon foxes tearing me apart. Just early-morning sunlight and a messy bedroom. I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear the memory of the dream from my mind. But I knew it wouldn't clear, because it was more or less the same dream I had last night… and the night before… and every night since that fateful battle.

I rubbed my eyes again, feeling my heart rate slow in the wake of the dream. My right hand was tingling all over with the feeling of pins and needles – I must've slept on it. I yawned and rolled out of bed, struggling to my feet. Time to make some breakfast.

I poured water into a Styrofoam cup filled with Instant Ramen and threw it into my microwave, blearily punched a few buttons on the panel, and watched the machine light up and hum. While that was cooking, I went over to the mirror and looked into my reflection.

Shit. They were back. A pair of fangs, nearly an inch long, jutting down from my upper jaw, making me look like a freaking vampire. Shit. I did the same thing I had done last time, and the time before – I grabbed the fangs and yanked them out in one quick tug. My mouth was filled with blood for a few seconds, and the pain made me see double, but then new incisors grew in. Courtesy of that stupid Fox, I thought, which was why they were going to grow into fangs again in the next couple of nights. I had been getting them every night lately.

Wait, you ask. Why am I growing fangs? Well, it hasn't always been this way. It's a pretty recent change. Y'see, about a month ago, when I fought Sasuke to try and keep him from going over to Orochimaru's side (a battle I lost, sadly), I had to get the Fox's help… layered on top of his usual boost. There was so much demonic chakra that it wrapped me in a one-tailed fox shell. Unfortunately, that was too much. I weakened the Fourth Hokage's seal by overloading it with chakra. The seal isn't gone, but it's weak enough that the Fox can continue to weaken it on his own now. He doesn't want to arouse suspicion by filling me up with chakra all the time and turning my eyes red, so he's been doing it every night, giving me those nightmares. The scary part is that it's working. Every time I see the seal in my dreams, it's weaker, and it's only a matter of time before it shatters completely.

I tried not sleeping, but Jiraiya, Kakashi and the others quickly noticed the effects, so I had to give up that plan. The problem is, as afraid as I am that the Fox is taking over, I'm still more afraid that the others will stop treating me as a human being if they see how far it's gotten. I'm afraid I'll be killed or locked away. I can't tell anybody. This has to be my battle to fight.

I grabbed the ramen from the microwave and sat down to eat breakfast, rinsing off yesterday morning's chopsticks to use again. Halfway through the ramen, I noticed my hand was still tingling, so I rubbed it. It felt like… peach fuzz. What the hell? I looked down at my hand, and began choking on my ramen.

A sparse, short layer of black hairs had appeared on my hand. My fingernails had sharpened and begun to take on a beige color. The bottoms of my fingertips and my palm had toughened slightly, like calluses, and begun to darken and lose color, making them look grayish. They reminded me of fur, claws, and pads, and those were all the hints I needed: my hand was turning into a fox's paw. I finally swallowed, hard and painfully.

Okay. Don't panic. I fought my quickening breath and heartbeat and forced myself to calm down, like when I was practicing controlling my chakra. First things first. I flexed that hand. Nothing was stiff; I didn't seem to have lost any finger mobility. My hand was still just as dexterous as a human hand. Okay, good. Second, I checked my other hand. That one was still human. Also good. Third, I concentrated some chakra into the pawlike hand. Hmm… the chakra in that hand was partially normal, and partially demonic, although the demon chakra might have been because it was so early in the morning. Alright, just don't use jutsu today in front of Hinata or Neji while they're using the Byakugan. Fine.

Now, how could I conceal it? I thought for a moment, yelping when I tried to scratch my head with my right hand and almost sliced my scalp open. I could wear gloves! No, my only gloves in the house were fingerless; fingered gloves interfered with hand signs. I could hide my hand in my jacket! No, then I couldn't use it. Suddenly, I thought of the Hyuugas again, and inspiration struck me.

End of Chapter

Yes, this does basically take place during the filler arcs, mostly because I don't particularly like Sasuke and this way I'm not required to write him in. Feedback would be appreciated. Updates will come every Monday, with any luck.

Next week: training with Kakashi (is he suspicious?), and a new ninja mission with Ino and Chouji.