I don't own Naruto. This should be obvious, but it needs to be said nonetheless.
Now for the story.
Yep, it was official. Today sucked.
'Why', thought Naruto as he sat in ankle-deep water, 'can we never have a C-Rank mission that stays a C-Rank mission?'
A simple guard mission, they said. A merchant that needed protection from bandits. No problem.
And then, sure as the seasons, the problems had appeared. First, it was not so much a merchant that needed protection as a merchant caravan. Granted, they promised to pay extra for the slight deception but still, a genin team to guard ten merchants and their shipments?
And then there were the reports they'd been given on the potential bandit threat. One or two groups of maybe five bandits each, the merchants had said. Ok, five bandits were child's play for even one genin, much less a team. Hell, even Sakura could take out five bandits, much less Naruto or (much as he disliked the teme) Sasuke.
It had been an unwelcome surprise, then, to encounter a group of twenty-five bandits, led by one Masahashi Jiru, a B-Rank missing-nin.
His arrival, Naruto reflected as he listened to the dripping of water in his mindscape, had been the point at which the situation became well and truly crap. Naruto had been holding his own with the aid of his Shadow Clones when the pasty-faced bastard had appeared next to him and punched him right in the gut with some green-violet glowing jutsu. He wasn't sure what jutsu it had been (Masahashi not having been considerate enough to call out the name of the technique), but he was aware of several important facts:
1) It had given off a faint buzzing sound.
2) It had caused him to lose all muscle control, and
3) It had hurt like a bitch!
The last memory Naruto had before blacking out was the sound of his scream echoing around him as Kakashi-sensei opened the missing-nin's throat. Then it all went dark.
"You know Kit, that fleshbag took you out way too easily".
And now he had an overgrown fur wrap running off its mouth as well. Today was just getting better and better, wasn't it?
"Shut it Baka-Fox. Not like you were helping any."
"Seriously Kit, your physical skills are pretty pathetic. Really." Even though all Naruto could see was the glowing eyes, he could actually feel the sneer in its voice. "I mean, your chakra control's finally approaching tolerable and on a good day you can pass for average in brains, but physically...? Pah!"
"Big words from the furball in the cage. You talking for a reason, or ya just bored?"
"No kit, I'm offering you a solution." The growling demonic voice was suddenly serious. "Allow me a connection to your senses and I'll make your body into something a little closer to perfection than your current shaved-ape form."
"And I suppose you have no other reason for offering this than the simple desire to smell a flower or taste some ramen, huh?"
"How you pink fleshbags came to rule this world I'll never know", the demon sighed. "Look. The technique that pale simian hit you with burned out most of your voluntary nervous system. If you wish to be able to move again I suggest you take my offer. I am not going to be stuck in an immobile yellow-headed monkey-boy, understand? As long as I'm going to be fixing you, I may as well make you into something I could tolerate being associated with. Then again", the fox's tone became dry, "you could always choose to spend your days lying immobile in a bed with a catheter in an unpleasant place…"
Naruto was silent for a moment before speaking in a speculative tone. "So…what changes were you thinking of?"
"Where do I start? Taller, stronger, faster. If you ask nicely, I could have a look for any bloodline limits you might have as well."
"Taller?! You could make me taller?!"
To never be 'The Shrimp' again…!
'I'm never going to live this down with the other Bijuu'. "Yes brat, I can make you taller".
"Gimme your word you won't try to escape or take me over and we can deal, Fox. Oh, and no fox ears or tail or stuff like that."
"I'll just be watching through your senses, brat, like those TV things. It gets surprisingly boring here in this sewer. You have my word".
'Why is it a sewer in here anyway? It's not like I have a dirty mind or something'. Shaking off his thoughts, Naruto stepped up to the cage. "Ok Fox, what do I do?"
"Tear off about a quarter of the seal to let my chakra flow. Then hang onto your arse".
Forcing down some final misgivings, the blond took the seal in hand. Ero-Sennin had told him that demons had to keep their word once it was given, as the Kyuubi had. Picturing a life spent limp on a hospital bed, Naruto made his decision. The benefits outweighed the risks.
Taking a deep breath, he tore the seal.
Like a luminous fog, the red chakra flooded out of the cage, twining about his limbs and surging through the halls of his mind as the Kyuubi began a running dialogue.
"Hold on gaki, this is going to hurt. Let's see now, start with the bones first. Correct the calcium deficiency and properly heal all those old fractures. Stimulate lateral bone growth…"
The fox had been right, it did indeed hurt. The funny thing was, though, it hurt far less than he had expected. More an all-over migraine than the burning agony the fox had implied.
"…sharpen up the eyesight (can't have my container needing glasses, after all), tune up the lungs and metabolism (the crap you eat it's amazing you made it past three feet!), boost the other senses (those Inuzuka think they're the best. Hah!), tweak the immune system…"
Listening to it ramble, Naruto couldn't help but consider it a good thing that the Kyuubi would be able to share his senses.
'Fox's getting a bit shack-wacky.'
"No latent bloodline limits, tough luck gaki. Oh well, I'll just make all the changes hereditary. Right, nearly done, just the 'stronger, faster, tougher' part.
Don't bother me, gaki," it rumbled as Naruto went to speak, "this is delicate. Now, strengthen the cell connections in muscle fibres…"
There are certain comments that, for the safety of all concerned, should not be made. Anyone saying "at least it can't get any worse", for example, will generally be swiftly proven wrong by the Law of Irony. The one asking "Is that all you've got?" will be hit, the one saying "We're out of range" will be shot and the one saying "I think we've lost them" will be found.
Which explains why, mere moments after the Kyuubi's demand of silence, Naruto's nose began to twitch.
Panicking, the blond youth tried vainly to resist as he felt the sneeze building, an act known to be utterly pointless by anyone to make the attempt. No, when the sneeze arrived (all the more powerful for Naruto's attempt to stifle it), it arrived with the force of a hurricane and the volume of an artillery shell.
The following events occurred in quick succession. The Kyuubi, startled, instinctively pulsed its chakra, causing a momentary but sizable surge. The surge (itself sufficient chakra to create a good seven thousand Shadow Clones), flooded down the linkage and amplified the strengthening pattern already there, the sudden neural feedback in turn causing Naruto to howl in pain before collapsing, stunned, onto the submerged floor.
"Ehehehe. Um, whoops?"
Naruto wasn't sure how a long-eared, nine-tailed, demonic fox the size of a warehouse could actually sound sheepish, but the Kyuubi was making a decent attempt.
"What…did…you…do…baka…fox?" he hissed through teeth clenched in residual pain.
Naruto was glad for his clearing head as he parsed the sentence, his lips moving as he extracted the Kyuubi's meaning.
"So, you made me stronger than you meant to? A lot stronger?" At the Kyuubi's "Err, yes, but…" the blond youth clambered to his feet with a groan and headed excitedly for the exit. "Cool, I'm strong now! Can't wait to test it! It's the big passageway to get back to waking, right?"
"Oi, Gaki! You're stronger but your control's shot to hell! You might-"
"So I'll train a bit", breezed Naruto as he left his subconscious and a quietly fuming Kyuubi behind. "It's just some extra strength, after all. Ja!"
As the blonde's voice and presence faded, the Kyuubi growled softly. "How the hell did that gaki survive this long? Oh, I just know I'm going to get a headache from this!" With a rumbling sigh the vast vulpine made itself comfortable in the cage and concentrated on the sensations of the link as Naruto woke up…
The first thing Naruto became aware of as he awoke was the lack of pain. In face, he would almost go so far as to say-
'I feel really good! Huh, never been able to say that after an injury before'.
It was true, though. All the minor aches, pains and twinges that Naruto had come to regard as a fact of life were gone, their very absence providing tremendous pleasure.
And the sensations! Even before he opened his eyes Naruto could tell he was in a hospital (slight smell of disinfectant), that the room was otherwise unoccupied (no other human traces of smell or sound) and that it was morning (sound of birdcalls and smell of coffee and toast). All of these together, plus the texture and clean smell of the sheets, told him he was most likely in the recently designated "Rookie Ward" (created when Tsunade noted the injury rate among Naruto's social set and deemed putting them all in one place a more economical option).
Opening his eyes not only confirmed his conclusions but made him acutely aware of just what people meant when they used the phrase "eyes like a hawk".
'My god. I was blind before!'
Initially content to lie there and bask in the sensations, the growling of his overly insistent stomach indicated the time elapsed since his last meal. Fumbling for a moment in search of the pager button for an orderly, he uttered a silent prayer that it would be one of the nice orderlies Baachan had been hiring.
'Huh,' thought Naruto, gazing at the shards of plastic in his hand, 'seems a bit more fragile than I remember. Oh well,' he thought as he hopped out of bed and wandered to the door, 'there should be someone outside'.
As Naruto stood in the doorway, several facts presented themselves. First (and least relevant), the door was now open. Second, the reason that the door was now open was largely due to the fact that it had been torn from the frame. Finally, the doorknob (he noticed upon leaning the stricken door against the wall), was now seriously distorted, with fingerprints pressed into the metal.
After staring blankly at the hand responsible for a few moments, the stunned blond cast his thoughts inward.
'Hey Fox, you there?'
"Yup." Something in the tone suggested amusement, not that Naruto really cared at that moment.
'About this door I –'
"- Just tore from the wall without really trying? What about it?"
'Just how much stronger did you make me, fox?' Naruto was quite proud of how level he was keeping his mental tone.
"Well, I'd already brought you to the highest possible natural strength for your frame, then I was aiming for about ten times stronger than that."
Naruto felt his eyebrow twitch.
'So how much stronger did you make me?'
"Oh…about a hundred times or so."
Staggering back to sit on the bed, a glazed look spread over the youth's face. 'A hundred times stronger than the strongest natural human, huh?'
"Well, it's actually more like one hundred and thirteen times, but who's counting?"
'Oh. Cool. Now I can move house. Literally! Ahaha'.
"Oi kit, come back to me here" growled Naruto's grudging tenant in a worried tone. When the vacant grin and giggling of its jailor failed to cease, the fox concentrated on the sensory link.
"Dammit Kit, snap out of it! SENSORY FEEDBACK!"
"Ite! What the hell-?"
"Shut up kit. The blond with the big mammaries your monkey-troop follows is coming. You may as well tell her what happened, she'll figure it out soon enough on her own. Don't tell anyone else though, no sense throwing oil on a fire. And for Inari's sake, get her to find someone to get your muscle control back up. Now look lively, here she comes".
As the sound of heavy footfalls grew closer, Naruto felt an instinctive wince beginning to form.
"I hope she's in a good mood."
Looking at the visage of the Hokage, one might be forgiven for thinking her to be calm, collected and composed. To the eyes of an expert, however, this was most assuredly not the case. Over the years Naruto (and indeed, the rest of the Rookie Twelve) had come to be quite adept at gauging the mood of Konoha's beloved leader. It was clear to the bombastic blond, therefore, that goofy behaviour and loudness would be a Bad Move at the moment. Such actions, invalid status notwithstanding, would result in an acute case of 'Punched-into-the-plaster-itis'. No, better to let her speak first.
The Reader will not be surprised to learn that Naruto's impulse control has experienced a sharp increase during Tsunade's tenure as Hokage.
Tsunade's first move, seizing him in a hug that did its best to crush his spine and ribcage into powder, was not unexpected. The lack of the sensation of creaking bone and incipient asphyxiation, on the other hand, was.
"Hahaha, that's quality work right there! See that? 300 kilograms of pressure and not a crack from that ribcage! Kyuubi work: proof against Killer Death Hugs of Doom!"
'Will you keep your crazy contained, Baka fox?'
Speaking, it seemed, has been a mistake.
"What the hell do you mean, "Hey Baachan"?! How the hell did you get yourself hit with an A-rank torture jutsu on an escort mission? And-!"
Rage faded and comprehension dawned in the taller bond's eyes. Naruto found a shaking finger levelled at him.
"How the hell are you awake and moving?! The jutsu-! Body Prison-! You should be paralysed!"
Naruto scratched the back of his head, chuckling nervously.
"Hehe. Um…I got better?"
Judging from the twitching eyebrow that his answer was insufficient Naruto sighed, jammed the door back into its frame as best he could (gathering a startled glance from Tsunade) and sat back on the bed.
"Ok, I got hit with the jutsu…"
Well, here's chapter one. The idea for this tale came from my reading a lot of stories in which Naruto gets upgraded and goes on to master blood limits, take on Akatsuki blindfolded and leap the Hokage monument in a single bound. now, i enjoyed those stories a great deal and won't hear a word said against them (as long as they're well-written, of course), but i got to thinking about the possible drawbacks to getting a Kyuubi-boost. This story is the result.
I'm going to use the first few chapters to establish scene and mood, then moving into having each chapter a self-contained mini-story. Don't expect too much drama, though there will be a little here and there.
As always, reviews are welcome, but please keep criticism constructive.