Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto as it belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. The title of this fic has absolutely nothing to do with the Disney movie The Fox and the Hound. I don't own Snugli either, as it belongs to the guy who came up with the patent. The only thing I do own is the plot and manner of this particular fic.

A/N: Yeah, I re-edited the beginning. I felt that the original writing style was considerably lower in standard compared to the one I currently use. Hopefully this edition will make the story a bit clearer.

A Fox among the Hounds

How it All Began

A wild-looking, brown-haired woman with a three-month-old baby in a Snugli and an aging man in red and white robes peered down at a sleeping blond infant with whisker marks. Beside her sat a large black dog that was missing an eye and an ear.

"Is this him?" the woman asked as she picked up the babe, careful as not to wake him.

"Yes Tsume. This is the boy you are going to raise," replied the old man.

The woman named Tsume quirked an eyebrow at the statement. "Forgive the question Lord Hokage, but why of all people would you choose me to raise this particular boy?" she queried.

Hiruzen Sarutobi chuckled. "My dear Tsume, I understand you are still mourning the loss of your husband; but the boy is an orphan and the Kyuubi's jailer. With most of the village still reeling from the loss of their loved ones, they'll be crying for blood; the last thing we need is the boy to be ostracized by his own community. He needs a mother and…" his voice dropped to a whisper. "It was stated in the Fourth's will that his son be raised in a loving family should anything happen to him or his wife."

Tsume's eyes widened. "The boy is Minato and Kushina's son?" she gasped. She squinted at the whiskered face cradled against her. "Now that you mention it, he does bear a striking resemblance to good ol' Yondy, bless his soul. Withouth the whisker marks, he looks a lot like a mini-Minato."

"All true," nodded the old man. "But keep this information an S-class secret. Majority of the village does not know that the Namikaze clan still lives on. Aside from you and me, the only other people to know of the boy's true lineage and condition are Hiashi Hyuuga, the Ino-Shika-Chou trio, Mikoto Uchiha, and Shibi Aburame; and they all have sworn to secrecy, even to their own families. Jiraiya, being present at the time of the sealing, already knows the whole story. Don't breathe a word about this to the village and the other clans. If Iwa ever finds out that the Yellow Flash had a son, we may as well be in for the Fourth Great Shinobi War."

"I understand," Tsume answered. "But one thing still bothers me, why of all people did you choose me to be mini-Minato's mother? Why not Yoshino? Or Mikoto? Or…"

Sarutobi chuckled again. "Tsume, the reason I chose you is because I feel that you are the best kind of mother there is. You appear tough, but you are fair and you love your children dearly. Yoshino, as sweet as she is, has the tendency to be a bit of a nag; and though Mikoto means well, she is the sort that babies and coddles her children. Minato would be turning in his grave were his son to grow up into a henpecked rebel or a spoiled brat."

Tsume blushed at the compliment on her maternal skills. "O-of course, Lord Hokage. With you as my witness, I pledge upon the Inuzuka name that I will raise this pup as if he was my own." Her normally severe expression softened as she gazed at the infant cradled in her arms. "Welcome to the family, Minato Junior," she cooed.

"Actually," Sarutobi corrected rather light-heartedly, "His name is Naruto."

Tsume quirked an eyebrow. "Like the fishcake?" She snickered a bit. "Leave it to Minato to name his offspring after a ramen topping. I swear, if he hadn't met Kushina, that goofball would've married the world's biggest bowl of ramen."

"Actually he was named after the protagonist in Jiraiya's first book," Sarutobi said. "It may have not appealed to the general public, but its story seemed to have been dynamic enough to inspire Minato and Kushina." He handed her a sheaf of papers. "Anyway, before you leave here are Naruto's adoption papers and an edited copy of his birth certificate."

Tsume gave the papers a suspicious look. "Edited birth certificate?"

"Yes," the Third replied. "For Naruto's safety. We can't go trouncing about announcing that we have the Fourth's Legacy now, can we? Heaven knows what Iwa would do if they ever found out that the feared Yellow Flash had a son. For the moment, the late Ichiro and Yume Hasegawa will be acknowledged as Naruto's parents. Not to worry though- I have the original copy and Minato and Kushina's wedding certificate. When he is ready, we will reveal his true heritage."

"I see," said the Inuzuka matriarch, taking the documents. "Well then, if there's nothing more to discuss, I'll be taking my leave now, Lord Hokage."

"Very well, Tsume," Sarutobi replied. "I wish you the best of luck, and may the Will of Fire continue to burn brightly within you and your clan."

As Tsume Inuzuka walked down the streets of Konoha, she peered down at the baby sleeping peacefully in her arms. 'Naruto Inuzuka,' she mused, smiling at the child. 'A wonderful name for my wonderful new son.'

-Two years later-

It was another normal day in the Inuzuka household. Or at least what was normal by Inuzuka standards. Hana, now seven, was about to begin her first day at the Academy. Just as she was about to step out, her brothers- Naruto and Kiba caught sight of her and began clamoring to tag along.

"If Hana go, we go too," babbled the two boys.

"Kiba, Naruto, you can't go to school yet," Hana said as she tried to pry the toddlers off her.

Naruto looked up at her with big, puppy-dog eyes. "Why not?"

"Because you're too little," came the simple reply.

"Nawuto not little," declared the blond. "Me big boy."

"You just no let us go 'cause you meanie!" declared Kiba.

Hana's patience began to wear thin. "Look, I don't really have the time for this. I gotta go, okay? I'll take you to school with me someday, just not now." She finally pried her brothers off and hurried to school.

"Hana no go!" Naruto bawled. "We wanna go too!"

"Waa!" Kiba wailed. He picked up a building block and hurled it at the door. The ensuing noise had Tsume and her canine partner Kuromaru running into the room.

"What's going on here?" she asked. "What's with the tears, pups?"

Naruto sniffled and hiccuped. "We wanna go wi' Hana, but Hana meanie and she go but we no go!"

"She said we too little!" Kiba pouted.

Tsume gathered both boys into a hug. "I don't think you're too little," she said in a motherly tone. She kissed them both on the forehead. "Because you're my two big boys."

"So we can go wi' Hana?" Naruto asked hopefully.

"Even better," said Tsume. "Suit up pups, 'cause we're going to the park!"

At the park, the boys were supervised by the watchful eyes of Tsume and her canine partner, Kuromaru.

While the two boys frolicked in the grass, the Inuzuka clan head took the time to assess her children.

Hana, her eldest, was the only daughter. After losing her father in such an early age, she was always in a hurry to grow up. She also acted as if she was more mature than what she was supposed to be, causing her to sometimes be annoyed by her brothers' childish antics.

Kiba, her biological son, was older than Naruto by three months. He was a wild little spitfire who constantly got into trouble. Looking back, Tsume chuckled at the memory of Kiba when he chased after a puppy, only to get stuck in its kennel. It took some axle grease and the help of Shikaku Nara and Chouza Akimichi to get him out.

Finally, there was Naruto- her youngest and adopted son. He was always cheerful and energetic. In some ways, he was like Kiba; but where Kiba was very wild, Naruto was somewhat more behaved. Unfortunately, that did not mean that he did not make his share of mischief. In fact, both Kiba and Naruto were practically inseparable. One was never without the other. It was also apparent that wherever the two boys went, trouble was sure to follow.

Kuromaru's voice broke the silence. "They grow up so fast, don't they?"

Tsume sighed, a rare act for the woman. "Yeah…" She sighed again. "It feels like it was only yesterday when I was nursing my own litter. Hana's going to school and the boys are beginning to talk and toddle. As wild they are, they're turning out quite nicely."

"Says you," replied the black dog. "My body tends to think otherwise. I find your pups more of the rough-and-tumble type. With all the rides I've given them, even the pain's going to my fur."

"Oh come now," Tsume chuckled. "You're exaggerating."

"No, no. I'm serious," asserted Kuromaru. "I swear, if Naruto pulls on my ear one more time, I'll be known as 'The Dog with No Ears', and don't get me started with-"

Just then, a piercing howl cut their conversation short and had them running to the boys for the second time that day. Kiba had apparently stepped into an anthill and got bitten by fire ants while Naruto stood by, pointing and laughing. Shaking her head, Tsume went over to calm her hysterical sons.

'Yep,' she muttered to herself as she rubbed some salve over Kiba's "boo-boos". 'Just another regular day at the doghouse.'

Four more years had passed, and through that duration of time, the Inuzuka children had made encountered all sorts of people, friend and foe alike.

When Hana was eight, her mother gave her not one, but three partners to work with- the Haimaru triplets. The puppies bonded well with the little girl, and it was not long after that Hana began studying veterinary medicine to better help and understand her canine partners.

Throughout that time, Naruto and Kiba had also amassed their own group of friends. So far, they had already befriended with the second generation Ino-Shika-Cho trio, the Aburame and Hyuuga heirs, and a civilian girl by the name of Sakura Haruno.

However, new friends also came with new enemies or rivals, in a sense. Eight-year-old Hana had come home crying one day, claiming that one Itachi Uchiha had called her meals "dog food" after she offered him some. Upon witnessing this, Naruto and Kiba had declared war upon Itachi's younger brother Sasuke after they demanded him to tell the elder Uchiha to apologize to their sister and Sasuke just grunted and walked off.

Since then, a sort of family feud had broken out between the Inuzukas and the Uchihas. It became a common occurrence for the Inuzuka brothers to go to the Uchiha district and pull all sorts of pranks, just to have Fugaku Uchiha haul them off to their mother, engage into a verbal Fourth Shinobi War with her, and stalk off, fuming about the barbarous ways of the Inuzuka. As for the boys, their punishment made a session with the ANBU Torture and Interrogation look like a tea party.

It was now Naruto's sixth birthday. The party was being held in the Inuzukas' backyard, and it was abuzz with the excited chatter of the children, concerning the fact that they would be going to the Academy next year. The excitement and joy was further amplified when Sakura said her parents said she could attend the Academy along with her friends.

The children had a lot of fun. There were games like "Paper Scooper" and target practice, and there were prizes and cake. But best of all were the gifts Naruto received from his friends and family. His family had gotten him a brand-new set of practice shuriken and kunai. Shikamaru, who was too lazy to actually shop for something, brought a monetary gift. Chouji had brought him a Super Shinobi action figure. Ino had brought him a potted cactus, as Naruto had an interest in horticulture. Sakura had given him a set of new clothes, and Hinata had given him a frog plushy. Lastly, Shino had given him a stainless steel watch-compass, making Kiba a little jealous.

All in all, it was a day of fun and surprises, but the proverbial cherry on the sundae was when the Hokage had shown up after everyone had left, bringing in an elongated, canvas-wrapped parcel along with him.

Naruto was estastic. The old man was like a grandfather to him, and he had allowed Naruto to wear his hat while Tsume took the birthday boy's picture.

However, even best day ever could only last for so long, and it was soon bedtime for Naruto. Both Tsume and Sarutobi chuckled as the protesting boy was ushered off to his room by the combined efforts of Hana and Kuromaru. As soon as the children were safely tucked in bed, Sarutobi brought forth his parcel and handed it over to Tsume.

Curious, the Inuzuka matriarch shifted the wrappings a bit to find a kodachi encased in a simple lacquer sheath.

"Lord Hokage what is-?" Tsume began.

"This is Naruto's birthday present from his parents," Sarutobi replied in a hushed tone. "You remember Minato's trademark weapon, don't you?"

Tsume's eyes widened in surprise. "You mean this is the-?" she gasped.

Sarutobi nodded, answering all her speculations in that one gesture. "Yes it is. Although it is his birthright, I feel that Naruto is not yet ready to wield such a blade, that is why as his legal guardian, you are entitled to full acquisition of the Namikaze family blade until Naruto has proven himself worthy to be its master."

"And how would I know when that would be?" Tsume asked, genuinely confused.

Sarutobi's reply was as cryptic as it was intriguing. "That would be the day Naruto finds his warrior's soul."

A/N: Looking through several mistakes during the writing process, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and edit the older chapters to keep the narration style constant.

Nightrain and Brownstone's Explanation Corner

Paper Scooper is a popular Japanese game that involves catching goldfish with a paper net.

So long for now,

N & B