Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Kishimoto Masashi.

He was blond, looked to be three or four years of age, and was restlessly tossing in his sleep. The twin shadows in his meager apartment would have been very interested in knowing where he was sleeping, which was two floors down and three apartments over. The manager had been 'silenced' the prior year after a month or so of Naruto's residency once it was discovered he had been kicked out of the last in a long line of orphanages and had been living out of dumpsters and alleys for most of his fourth year.

The other residents had long since moved out except for one belligerent old lady who had passed away somewhat recently when her heart suddenly failed. Part of the reason for that was the blond object of her highly vocal scorn showed up at her door with a fist full of field flowers and a pleading yet tired look. He had seen others in the village give flowers to appease angry women, and since this woman was always angry, Naruto had spent hours scouring training fields and private gardens for his 'peace' selection. She flew into an apoplectic conniption fit at the demon on her doorstep then paused as her left arm contorted painfully while her right fist gripped her chest. Strangely silent, she toppled backwards, going from vertical to horizontal in one smooth motion.

Young Uzumaki Naruto believed that he was the reason she was dead since she had been alive and well prior to his knocking; he had killed her and the scene wracked his young brain with guilt and nightmares filled with ominously dark yet muffled laughter. It had taken him several days to move her: he was five and a half (neglect and malnutrition would stunt anyone's growth) and she was dead-weight. He could only work after the summer sun had gone down, and by the second night, she was already turning ripe, not to mention the miasmic stew of her bodily excretions. The experience was, in a word, vile.

Such an event can be quite a shock to the system, especially for an empathic five and a half year old. Being verbally abused, then having the abuser up and die, then having to move the former abuser out of the apartment before the stench of decay alerted neighbors or authorities and fouled up the rest of the complex. Once that scent got in the cheap stucco and sheet rock, it would never come out. But such a shock led to his current situation.

He knew his body was physically away from his apartment. This was by design, and he had gotten in the habit of not sleeping in the same room twice in a row. Right now, however, where he was sleeping was not a concern. What was a concern was his current location: a sewer with shin-deep water (at least on him) lit by an odd bluish-reddish-purplish glow pierced with the occasional harsh whitish-yellow overhead lamp.

Luckily, the latter were only over intersections, as the brightly odd light washed out his skin and hurt his eyes, even as the strange hum of the lights put his teeth on edge. Having nothing else to do, and not really knowing how to leave this place since he wasn't completely sure where he was, he set off in what he hoped was a promising direction. He didn't know that every path in this place all led to one destination: the Cage.

Naruto wandered into the great hall, the ceiling lost in darkness while in the far distance was the flicker of movement. He felt very exposed walking down the center of the massive floor, but he didn't want to get too close to the shadow wreathed walls in the distance. Cautiously he crept forward, he sensitive ears catching the sound of breathing.

From this distance, he knew whatever it was, it would be huge. He was not to be disappointed as when he was not a hundred feet distant, two hellish slits opened some eighty feet in the air, and with a 'frhoomph' flames ignited behind it. Tails of flame backlit the monstrous creature as it lowered its head and made a show of sniffing the air. The suction nearly swept Naruto off his feet. And then the creature chuckled, the booming sound echoing across the otherwise empty chamber.

"So, my jailer has come. I was not expecting you this early, though perhaps this is for the best." A huge vulpine grin split the darkness showing blindingly white and very sharp teeth.

Naruto's eyes widened and his face paled under the onslaught of such raw and evil power. His cheeks instantly flushed as he felt his bladder release, while he tried to console himself about the pure level of power he had endured. Even Dog-san's invisible glare had nothing on this.

The acrid scent wasted no time in reaching the shadowed behemoth and it guffawed in derisive glee. "This is my jailer? A bed wetting hairless house ape and a puny one at that. If I had any shame, I would be deeply embarrassed by your mere proximity. The very idea that I am sealed into something as weak and smelly as you is appalling and would definitely amount to 'cruel and unusual' punishment. For a human to have put me here, such is abnormally inhumane! I should eat you now and put you out of your putrid existence, pathetic worm!"

Naruto's head snapped up, eyes hard. His lips twitched but he stayed strangely silent. However, that didn't mean his mind wasn't shuffling through images.

"Furball? You think I'm a Furball? I'll have you know, trash, that I am the mighty Kyuubi, Nine-Tailed Demon Lord, God of Kitsunes and Vulpines!"

A wickedly delicious thought ran through his head: if he could mentally break his jailer, not only would he gain eventual freedom, but would have a possessed minion to wreck his havoc on the fools which imprisoned him. Shape shifting was second nature to a kitsune, especially the God of such. He knew the true identity of his jailer, the important people in his young life and every single memory from the instant of sealing. He knew which buttons to push and if all worked out as planned, this pathetic anthill would be looking for a new ruler by week's end, if not fleeing the flames of righteous fury as their precious village fed his hunger and lit the night sky.

Suddenly, to Naruto's eyes, the gigantic fox with nine flaming tails vanished. In its place was a tall blond man in a jounin outfit wearing a white cloak with flame patterns rising from the hem. He knew who this man was from stories and pictures: his hero, the Fourth Hokage, Namikaze Minato.

"Son, I am extremely disappointed in you."

Naruto fell backwards, surprised at finding himself so close to the cage, now not ten feet distant. The words, coupled with the image of his hero, made it hard to breathe...wait, did he say 'son'? Naruto's brow wrinkled in confusion as he furiously thought.

"I know this comes as a shock, my son. I am your Father, Naruto. I put the demon in your belly to save this village. The reason for all the hate, all the attacks, all the abuse was because of me. You don't actually think I would use just anyone for this, do you? You were supposed to be seen as a hero, not the demon itself. How you've shamed me. Now come here that I might correct my mistakes. You have tarnished our once proud name for the last time."

Jerkily, Naruto stood, his eyes shadowed. When he lifted his head, his face was drawn in pure anger. Not by what was said; the mind can be deceptively quick and some things simply rang true, and his rational side gave astute reasons for the villager's treatment. The remarks of Naruto somehow being a blood relative to Konoha's greatest leader were too farfetched for his young mind to wrap around. No, what angered him was not the words, but the 'person' saying them.

He knew that wasn't really Namikaze Minato standing there. The Fourth Hokage had died almost six years ago and was buried in a large shrine. If anyone knew that, it was Naruto since he was once trapped within the secret crypt hidden within the floor of the shrine for several days so that he could 'understand just who he had stolen from the village'. He was angry at the demon who mocked him, using his desire for family combined with the physical image of Konoha's greatest hero and Hokage. Naruto knew who was really inside the cage as his trembling finger pointed at the figure inside.

Minato/Kyuubi watched the mental collapse with barely repressed glee as the bars of his great cage started to crack and fade. And then suddenly, his transformation failed. Not only that, but ten thick chains shot out of the shadows, wrapping themselves around each tail and his neck and he quickly began to shrink. By now, he was no larger than a horse, and was being forced into even smaller shapes.

The size change was so rapid and drastic that an actual thunderclap resounded from the air rushing in to fill the sudden vacuum. Then he felt it, felt something slip around his neck and cinch into place. Immediately after, he heard it, the simple chime of a single bell, just below his jaw. Within seconds, Kyuubi realized that he might have made a very grave mistake, as he went from a gigantic fox demon to a year-old actual fox kit, barely eight inches at the shoulder, each of his nine tails secured by chains attached to his belled and leashed collar.

The once massive cage which once filled the chamber's end, all the way to the ceiling, was now a ten foot pole with ten feet of slack chain around its base connecting to Kyuubi's seal marked collar. With mounting trepidation, the once mighty Kyuubi watched as Naruto slowly walked towards him on anger stiffened legs. He virtually stalked-stomped up the fox, picked up the Demon Lord by the scruff of his neck, and brought him up to eye level, then did something the millennia old demon never expected.

Naruto scowled, licked two fingers, then gave a fierce stinging slap across the fox's nose. The sound echoed through the chamber as unbidden tears welled up in the demon's eyes. 'That actually hurt...a lot...oh hells!' Kyuubi began to struggle, thinking to slip out of Naruto's grip and regain dominance when he heard it: the Growl. Not just any growl, but the Growl. The command from all Alphas to obey without question and to know ones place.

It started in Naruto's throat and went straight to a small place in Kyuubi's brain, then flicked the switch repeatedly. Before Kyuubi could understand what was going on, he found himself on his back, his belly exposed, crimson eyes locked on Naruto's ice-cold blue ones. Naruto's left hand was around Kyuubi's throat and his growl was in the Kyuubi's head. Yes, transforming had been a major mistake and he began to feel something he had only seen in others: fear.

"Bad! Fox!" Naruto leaned in closer, growling the entire time. Those were the first words Naruto had spoken to the fox, the first he had spoken at all, his voice cracked and dusty from disuse. He scowled in aggravation, unable to put his thoughts into words, so he did the next best thing. He glared as hard as he could into the fox's eyes and pictured in his mind just what he would do to the fox if he ever did something like that again. He smacked the fox across the nose again for emphasis.

Unbeknownst to Naruto, but easily visible to the writhing fox, the boy's images were playing themselves out on the walls and ceiling, creating vast panoramas of torture and promised pain. Now the Kyuubi was in full panic mode. He had vastly underestimated Naruto and not only got chibi-fied, but also sealed off from his own power. Time to lie, wheedle and beg; time to bargain.

"Please...please forgive me. I really had no idea you would react so violently to a simple illusion. We Kitsunes are masters at illusions and shape-shifting. Restore my rightful power to me, and I will aid you. I will give you all which your heart desires. I will grant all your deepest and darkest wishes. I will bestow my race's blessings and gifts. Forgive and restore me and I will be yours to command!"

Kyuubi left off the fact that Kitsunes are also pranksters and masters of the deal. He had no intention at all of honoring anything. Being a Demon Lord, he should have remembered, but was in a panic induced mental leapfrog race to get out of his current predicament. Naruto's next words would stop him cold.


A frantic nod.

Naruto growled deeply and croaked out, "Speak promise!"

"Do you doubt me, human?"

If at all possible, Naruto's eyes got a touch colder as they narrowed. "Demon! Demon speak promise brat!"

Though crude, the Kyuubi understood the message and intent. Despite the wording, he could see what was meant on the surrounding surfaces. Naruto wanted him to swear an oath. There was no question, but statement of fact: If the fox wanted to live, he would swear a binding oath. How Naruto, of all people, knew that would need answering later. For the now, Kyuubi was in a definite bind.

The grip on his neck tightened, the growl kept flipping that Alpha switch in his head, and he knew that if Naruto did in fact kill him, Naruto would only suffer marginally. There had not been enough time to reverse bind them. Kyuubi knew if Naruto died, then he died.

If Naruto had naturally come to rely on the Kyuubi's purified power, as he would eventually as more of it filtered into Naruto's own chakra system, then if Kyuubi died or was forcefully removed Naruto would die as well. That had been part of Kyuubi's long term plans so Naruto would lose some crucial bargaining chips, if it ever came to deal-making, but such integration and unconscious reliance wouldn't have started for several more years.

If anything, the amount of their combination and genetic mutations to date would merely shorten Naruto's expected life span by about a decade, maybe fifteen years at most. The changes to Naruto's cellular regeneration were already done and set, so if Kyuubi were to vanish, Naruto would keep those, as well as his enhanced senses.

The loss of Kyuubi's chakra would cripple Naruto for a while as his own coils would collapse before rebuilding, and he would lose the almost instant healing but would still heal faster, heal more completely, be highly resistant to poisons and other toxins and have an almost total immunity to disease. Yes, he had Kyuubi over a barrel.

He had been defeated by his own arrogance, for now at least. Eventually, he was positive he could work even this to his ultimate advantage, and keeping his Jailer alive would only give him more time to plan and scheme. Quite besides which, he was intrigued by the blond brat. For one so young to be able to manipulate their mind space.

If Kyuubi played his cards right, he might be able to technically 'escape' these sewers by changing the scenery to something, well, not quite as drab. Naruto had hit upon the unspoken and absolute truth without knowing: it was his mind and he controlled it. Given Kyuubi's current situation, that of a chained, leashed, collared and belled fox kit on its back with an exposed belly in the space where an impossibly massive gilded cage once sat, Naruto probably had the mental strength at this young age to prevent any unsanctioned entry. Possibly even blocking those accursed Uchiha's and curious Yamanaka's mind-invasive techniques.

He wasn't a good demon. He wasn't a nice demon, and yes, there were both sorts, some of the lesser demons even serving as personal summons. Gamabunta, the Toad Boss who carried the Fourth into combat against the Kyuubi, was almost powerful enough in his own right to be a Major Demon. Kyuubi might have been a veritable force of nature and chaos incarnate, but that didn't mean he wasn't pragmatic.

One did not rise through the ranks from no-tail kitling to nine-tail Demon Lord by blindly rushing into every scenario. Though it stung his pride quite a bit to have been bested at his own game by a five and a half year old child, he was a bit mollified that the child was also his jailer. And maybe if he gave the boy what he wanted, the boy would stop that Alpha growling before the Kyuubi's bladder released. Things would quickly go from bad to worse if he didn't act soon.

With a sigh of defeat, Kyuubi spoke. "I, Akamu, so swear upon my honor as the Kyuubi no Kitsune, Nine-Tailed Demon Lord."