Age Six

A little blond boy by the name of Uzumaki Naruto was already a well known person in Konoha. The only thing that he didn't like is that while everyone seemed to know who he was, he was constantly ignored, and he had no idea why. Many of the pranks he pulled gathered him some attention for a short duration... a few minutes, perhaps up to an hour depending on how complex the prank was.

His latest prank in the making was a work of pure genius, or at least that's what he was telling himself. It was currently very early in the morning. So early that the sun was only just now beginning to peek over the horizon. Nearly everyone was still in bed, and Naruto himself wouldn't have been up this early if it wasn't for a very important reason.

He was currently in the process of attaching a bucket of water to a set of strings that would dump the water when a trap was walked through. The trap was set right in front of the door of a local merchant, one who totally ignored Naruto when the boy was only trying to purchase a few groceries. He wanted to teach the snob a lesson! Though he might get into a little bit of trouble over this, it would definitely be worth it to see the look on the merchant's face when he was doused with water.

Chuckling to himself, Naruto leaned forward to tie the bucket to the trap for when it was to be released. Unfortunately, as he leaned, he felt the rope that was holding him up jerk a little bit, and he dropped down a few inches. The young Naruto started to sweat as he remained still, he was still a good ten to twelve feet up in the air, and any fall would hurt big time. He looked up, panicking slightly... apparently the air vent that he tied his rope to wasn't very sturdy. Either that, or the rope itself was weak.

Being sure to be as careful as he could, he slowly leaned forward once again in an attempt to attach the bucket to his trap. Luck was not on his side, however, as he felt the rope give another lurch, and drop him another few inches. Breathing heavily, he decided to just drop the heavy bucket full of water and try to climb back up the rope to see if he could fix the rope that was holding him up.

He didn't have time to make that decision, however, as there was a loud groan of stressed metal from somewhere above him, and he dropped like a rock. In the seconds before he hit the rough cobblestone street below, he could remember hitting the ground too quickly to shout out, not that it would have done any good. Pain exploded in the back of his head as he hit the ground, and he vaguely recalled that there were thin clouds in the sky as his vision faded to black.

Drip... drip.... drip...

Naruto woke up with a startled gasp. He was currently sitting in a pool of something... it was like water, only thicker. Raising up one of his arms in curiosity, he noticed that it didn't get him wet either, the liquid merely drained off of his skin and clothing. Slowly rising to his feet, he felt the back of his head, surprised to find that there was no bump or bruise... it didn't hurt at all.

Smiling despite the fact that he couldn't remember how he got where he was, he looked around. There wasn't much to see. It was a decently sized tunnel, made of some kind of stone. There were large pipes running down both sides of the tunnel that seemed to connect to the wall at various spots, but it all looked completely random. No lights could be seen, but for some reason it was not dark. The water-like substance at his feet came up to his ankles, and it filled the entire tunnel as far as he could see.

Picking a direction at random, little Naruto started to walk. Somehow he got in here, so there had to be a way out. He tried calling out, to see if perhaps anyone would reply, but the only thing he could hear was the echo of his own voice. The strangest thing, though, was that depending on what direction he shouted in, he would eventually hear his own voice echoing from behind him...

The tunnel was completely straight and boring, but it didn't take long for him to encounter a door, one that led to a very large room. At least it seemed large, unlike in the tunnel, the room was completely dark, except for two small lights that he could see at what was probably the far end. He entered the room and looked up, the ceiling was taller here than in the tunnel. As soon as he entered the room, he could see the ceiling and the two walls on either side of the room, and as he continued walking towards the back, the light seemed to move with him, because it never got dark where he was.

When he finally got to the back of the room, he stared wide-eyed at the huge cage. There was no way to open it, that he could see, except perhaps if he moved that piece of paper that said 'Seal' on it. But he was way too short to reach it... there wasn't anyone he knew who was that tall. There was a low rumbling he could hear from behind the bars, but other than that, he couldn't see anything. It was totally dark, just like this room was before he moved into it. He was small enough to walk between the bars of the cage, but for some reason, he was feeling too scared to get too close.

"H-hello? Is anyone back there?"

As soon as he spoke, the rumbling noise he had heard before stopped. It was completely quiet. Naruto looked around the room again, then spoke once more.

"Is someone there? Can you tell me how to get out of here?"

"How did you get here?"

The loud voice seemed to come from all around him in the room. It was very deep and spoke slowly, but even Naruto could feel the power behind the words. He let out a little yelp and stumbled backwards a step, but did not fall. The voice said nothing else, so he answered it.

"I d-don't know. I was going to play a p-prank on a mean man, but my rope snapped and I fell. I closed my eyes and woke up here." Naruto's hands fidgeted nervously, he wasn't sure if this voice would tell the old man that he was going to play another prank. Getting in trouble sucked, though the old man was always nicer about it than whoever caught him.

"How old are you now?"

"Uhm... I'm six."

There was silence for a moment, until he heard a louder rumble than before.

"Too young. Close your eyes and think about waking up. You will return."

Naruto blinked several times. The voice was strange, it wasn't going to tell on him, and told him he could get back just by closing his eyes? What did it mean he was too young? For what?

"Hey! What am I too young for? I'm old enough for lots of things, and the old man just got me my own apartment! I'm better than lots of other kids my age!"

Naruto waited for the voice to return and say something, but it did not. "Hello? Are you still there? Hellooooo!"

"Go away."

Naruto was about to retort, but all of a sudden a huge eye appeared from behind the cage. It was bloodshot like the matron at the orphanage's eyes usually were, but the iris was a deep red and there was a black slit going down the middle. It looked nothing like any eye he had ever seen before.

He couldn't help but let out a startled shout and stumbled backwards as soon as it appeared. He didn't catch himself this time though, and fell backwards into the shallow water-like substance with a splash. Because the water was so shallow, he hit his head on the ground... again.

Waking, Naruto sat up quickly, feeling the back of his head immediately. It hurt this time, and he could feel a bump starting to grow. Looking around, he recognized immediately where he was, the bucket on the ground right next to where he was sitting.

Thinking back, Naruto remembered the strange place he just was, and wondered how he got there in the first place. That unique voice and the eye behind the cage, too... just thinking about it made him shiver. Hopefully it was just all a really odd dream...

Looking around once more, he noticed that it didn't seem like much time had passed, if any. Grabbing the bucket, Naruto set out to refill it quickly, he'd just dump the water on the merchant's head if he couldn't find another secure place to tie a new rope. He set out to refill the bucket, the voice and the eye soon forgotten.

A/N: This chapter is essentially the intro/prologue. Just needed to get some stuff out that was different from my main fic and it's companion... to switch gears, in a manner of speaking. Just had the urge to do something -else- for a little bit. This fic will not take place in my Whirlpool Country universe. I've gotten three chaps of this written so far, each is a little longer than the previous. I'll post them gradually.

This will be a Naruto x Kyuubi fic, but that won't happen for a while yet. Kyuubi is essentially asexual and knows that it is, but as time goes on, it begins to 'understand', for lack of a better way to explain quickly. It should make for a good read, if nothing else. Hopefully, anyway.