Kyuubi the Built-In Best Friend
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Kakashi wasn't quite sure how to react when he came across Naruto leaning on the railing of a bridge and staring at the river. The cup of instant ramen in his hand was expected. The fox tail and ears he was sporting was not.
"Naruto," Kakashi called out, cautiously. This very likely fell under the category of 'not good.' "Are you feeling okay?"
Naruto turned around to face his once-sensei – mercifully hiding the tail from sight – and tilted his head to the side. "Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well…" Kakashi trailed off wondering how exactly to put this. Finally deciding to just come right out with it, he said, "You've got a tail. And your ears are…different then they were the last time I saw you."
"Oh, you mean these?" Naruto's hand brushed his new furry ears before grabbing a hold of his tail and holding it up for Kakashi to see.
"I do indeed," Kakashi confirmed. "Is there any reason you have fox ears and a fox tail today or did you just wake up like that?"
"Do you like them?" Naruto asked, releasing his tail. "I didn't at first because, well, I thought they looked kind of girly. Of course, I made the mistake of mentioning that to Sakura-chan so she kicked my ass and then told me not to be silly because they were adorable."
"I'm not concerned with their adorableness, Naruto," Kakashi said bluntly. "Why do you have them and does it have anything to do with the Kyuubi?"
"Of course it does," Naruto said cheerfully.
"Good," Kakashi sighed in relief. He stopped. "Wait, it does?"
Naruto nodded. "Well why else would I have suddenly sprouted fox features if it didn't somehow involve the fox demon sealed inside of me?"
"Considering that I don't understand why you've developed fox features in the first place I'm not even going to begin to speculate on the whys of the matter," Kakashi announced.
"Kyuubi said that I would be able to use her power more effectively if I had these," Naruto explained. "So even if I'm still not convinced that they don't look stupid, I'm just going to have to put up with it."
"The…Kyuubi is encouraging you to use its power?" Kakashi demanded. "And you're listening? Naruto, you know that using the Kyuubi's chakra is dangerous! It could help weaken the seal – which has already had to be reapplied once – and its toxic to others."
"I know," Naruto nodded. "Trust me, I'm not stupid. That was before the Kyuubi liked me, though. Now she's trying to help me and the tail and ears help me to be able to safely use her chakra."
There were almost too many things wrong with what Naruto just said for Kakashi to know where to begin. "Do you have any verification of this or are you just trusting the Kyuubi's word? It hasn't been known to be the most trustworthy of individuals in the past."
Naruto looked a little puzzled. "Well, I kind of am just relying on the Kyuubi's word at this point but she seems to be telling me the truth. After all, unlike before I haven't had any trouble accessing and controlling the Kyuubi chakra and don't appear to be suffering any ill effects. I guess it would probably be a good idea to have Baa-chan or Yamato check it over, huh?"
"At the very least," Kakashi nodded, glad that Naruto was at least willing to accept outside – and apparently far more sensible – opinions. "Is there a reason that you believe that the Kyuubi can be trusted now?"
"She doesn't want me to die," Naruto pointed out. "She never did, conveniently, as that one time Kabuto nearly killed me it almost killed her, too, so she would have preferred that she be extracted from me."
"I suppose that would be reason enough to conclude that it is not trying to kill you," Kakashi decided. "But that's not to say that it is not trying to influence you or even take you over completely and those fox features could be part of the plan."
"The Kyuubi wouldn't do that," Naruto assured him.
"…Come again?" Surely Kakashi was hearing things. Surely Naruto, who knew just how easily he could lose himself to the demonic chakra and whose childhood had been dominated by the hatred the fox's rampage had caused, wasn't vouching for its character?
"We may have had our problems in the past," Naruto allowed. "But the Kyuubi and I have come to terms. More than that, I think we've become friends. She seems to think of me as a kit which is a little weird but I'm okay with it."
Kakashi choked. "F-friends? You've become friends with a demon?"
"Is it really that surprising?" Naruto asked earnestly. "I'm the only one she can talk to and she's always with me so why waste energy hating each other? It's not like either one of us can change the fact that we're stuck together."
"But…friends…" Kakashi managed to say, still somewhat in a state of shock.
"I used to hate her, you know," Naruto confided. "I didn't mean to because I made myself a promise to let go of my hatred when I was younger and I thought that if I gave in just a little then I could backslide but I blamed her for ruining my life so it was difficult. She hated my because she saw my body as a prison she couldn't escape from."
"And how has this changed?" Kakashi asked, hoping his question was rhetorical and the Kyuubi had not, in fact, managed to figure out how to break free of the seal.
"It hasn't," Naruto assured him. "What have changed are our perspectives. The Kyuubi's been watching me my whole life, you know, and while it took awhile for her to admit it she actually is rather protective of me and I appreciate having someone older and wiser around to guide me when I need it."
"So now you're taking advice from the demon that's caged inside of you?" Kakashi was beginning to feel faint. This was just getting better and better, wasn't it? When had all of this happened and why hadn't anyone noticed Naruto was clearly jumping off the deep end before now?
"It's not her fault she got sealed in me any more than it's mine," Naruto explained. "It's just making the best of a bad situation and there are plenty of benefits of getting along."
"Like the ears and tail?" Kakashi queried.
Naruto nodded. "Among other things. For instance, she knows a lot about the history of Konoha, having been…around, shall we say, when it was founded. I'm learning a lot about Madara which should come in handy for when I finally have to kill him. Not to mention some of the techniques she knows…And then, of course, there's having a sounding board or if I'm getting too emotional and not thinking clearly she can help point that out."
"Doesn't the Kyuubi want to, I don't know, kill us all for trapping her here?" Kakashi pressed. Why wasn't Naruto getting this?
Naruto shook his head. "No. She wanted to kill the Yondaime but he's dead, she wants to kill Madara which is actually on my agenda as well, and she wants to kill Sasuke for having the Sharingan but we're trying to come to an agreement on that."
"There is seldom any point in 'revenge', Naruto, and you know I don't really believe in it," Kakashi told him. "For instance, I didn't want Orochimaru dead as vengeance for killing the Sandaime. I wanted him dead because he lured Sasuke away and continuing to corrupt him and because he had no plans of stopping until Konoha was destroyed. I don't want to see Madara dead for what he's done in the past but for what he's doing to Sasuke now and because he intends to kill you and destroy Konoha. Just because there is no point in the Kyuubi holding you or Konoha accountable for its imprisonment doesn't mean that it doesn't."
"I know that," Naruto said seriously. "I do, really. It's just that I know she's telling the truth. I'm important to her and Konoha is important to me and so she won't touch it. I can't really explain how I know because how can you ever explain things like that? She told me she wouldn't do anything to hurt me like that and I believe her. Even if she is not happy about the way I was treated when I was younger."
"No one who could even pretend to care about you now would be happy with how you were treated in the past," Kakashi said neutrally.
"So…do you believe me?" Naruto looked so earnest it was almost painful.
"I…" Kakashi trailed off. The Kyuubi had always been a chaotic, uncontrollable menace who had tried to wipe them out on more than one occasion. "I believe that you believe that."
Naruto cocked his head. "That counts, I think."
Now Kakashi has no idea what Naruto is talking about. "What counts?"
"You said that you believe that I believe this," Naruto explained. "Which means that you believe me you just don't think I'm right."
"I suppose that is one way of looking at it," Kakashi agreed.
"That means I win!" Naruto cried triumphantly. "And that Kiba now owes me a month's worth of ramen. Seriously, he should stick to speculating on who is secretly in love with who. Although if his insistence that I'm interested in Sasuke is any indication of his accuracy he might not even be very good at that…"
"That means you win what?" Kakashi asked, his suspicion beginning to grow.
"Kiba didn't think I could convince you that the Kyuubi and I were friends and even if you were suspicious of the Kyuubi's intentions you trusted mine!" Naruto crowed.
"So…you and the Kyuubi aren't actually on good terms?" Kakashi guessed, relief beginning to flood through him as well as a good deal of annoyance.
Naruto snorted. "Us? As if. It hates me and wants to kill Sasuke. Whenever we do speak it either tries to get me to let it out or yells at me for almost getting us killed."
"Is there any particular reason you decided to try to give me a heart attack then?" Kakashi demanded, crossing his arms. If Naruto didn't have a good explanation then, well…
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "You really don't know? I guess that explains why it worked then."
"Know what?" Kakashi pressed.
"Check your calendar," Naruto advised before quickly taking off, both to find Kiba to tell him of the result and to avoid any immediate retribution on Kakashi's part.
Kakashi thought back. Yesterday was the thirty-first of March, which meant that this was…
Of course. April First.