Kyuubi was sometimes referred to as a kitsune. What if Uzumaki Naruto actually inherited one of the powers kitsunes were said to have? Meet Uzumaki Naruto: Shapeshifter.

Uzumaki Naruto first realised that he was different from the others his age when he was five.

It was a particularly chilly night in what passed for a Konoha winter, as the Land of Fire was passing through the few weeks of snow it saw every year before swinging back to hot springs and humid summers. The orphanage had been an alright place to Uzumaki Naruto, but right then and there, he was damn cold. The boiler had broken down, in its fourth decade of life, and was not due to be repaired for another few days, busy as it was for the mechanics during these few weeks. This meant the water that Naruto drew for his shower was nearly at the freezing point, something that was distinctly uncomfortable to him, bordering on painful.

For a boy who was only seeing his sixth winter, Naruto had not yet built up the mental fortitude that was required to brave cold water. He yelped and hissed as the cold water impacted his skin, drawing back into a corner, hands instinctively moving to protect his groin from losing its body heat. Very reluctantly, he put his head under the stream of ice water, letting the life-giving fluid drip down the side of his blond locks. He put his hands together to cup some more water, before smearing it across his body.

It would have to do, Naruto thought to himself introspectively. There was no way he could go directly underneath that water, cold as it was. It was then that he desperately wished for a way to keep warm in the shower, warm enough that he would not be bothered by the shower. A way to keep more of his body heat in while still being able to wash off.

To his amazement, he immediately felt his torso warming up. Curious, he looked down, and immediately yelped for the second time in as many minutes. There, on his chest, were clumps of blond hair, and some more was still emerging, until his entire chest was full of gold. Even odder, it was a very dense coat of hair, what he might have described as being fur-like in its texture and uniformity had he tried touching it.

Out of panic, Naruto turned off the shower. He didn't wish to be seen like this, with this...this hair that had suddenly appeared on his chest. He wanted it away, or else uncomfortable questions would be asked, questions he didn't have the answers to. Desperately, he willed it to be gone as easily as it had seemingly appeared.

To his relief, the hair quickly 'disappeared'. One instant it was there, the next instant it seemed to meld into his chest, and the instant after that it was entirely gone. He kept his eye on his chest, expecting it to suddenly come back. When it didn't, he sighed visibly in relief.

By nighttime, Uzumaki Naruto was sure it was just a daydream of sorts, and that it had not really happened. Even still, the incident would sit at the back of his mind. He would tell himself many times that he had just imagined it, but deep down he could not deny the truth.

When he was six, a rash broke out on his abdominal region, localised around his navel. While it was nothing harmful, the rash itched considerably, and he found himself tossing in the single bed that he had been assigned to at the orphanage. He had no idea what had caused it, given that he had washed his sheets only a few days previous.

What he did know was that he hated the constant dull burn that the rash gave him and he went through the futile efforts of trying to scratch the itch away. He tried slow scratches, fast scratches, light scratches, hard scratches, none of which worked. It was frustrating, and it kept him up for several hours.

"Damnit!" Naruto finally hissed at the rash, the red spot clear underneath the white moonlight that streamed through his open window, "Will you just stop itching already!"

There was almost a shimmer to the air, and Naruto could appreciate the idea of a face frozen with shock as he looked at his hand that he had been using to scratch the itch. Slowly, the fingernails turned white, before hardening, then sharpening, narrowing and curving into sharp points.

His fingernails had just turned into claws.

Oh, of course there were differences. For example, he still had the beginning of his fingernails, the stuff that was right above his skin, but anything that extended past that had changed into a claw.

For several minutes, Naruto just sat there, his eyes wide. Many thoughts swirled around in his mind, but none of the made it to the forefront, leaving him numb. Indeed, it was too much for him to really comprehend, the result being his brain shutting down lone enough for him to actually accept what had just happened.

Letting out a deep breath when he finally reasserted controls over his skeletal muscles, he took in another deep breath, and let that one out again, before hunkering down to think.

He had just seen the tips of his fingernails turn into claws. The shower incident flashed back into his head, and he compared the two incidents. Both times, he had somehow changed his body through unconscious thought. They were relatively minor – gaining hair, and fingernails turning into claws. But what did that mean? Did that mean he somehow had the power to make his body change?

It would bear experimentation, and throughout the night, Naruto tested many things, using the mirror in his bathroom for a reflection. It took a bit, but he finally clued in to that the previous two changes had been after he been in strong desire for the properties that they both offered – the hair for keeping him warm, and the claws for scratching an itch (embarrassing as it was once he realised the claws would hardly keep the itch away).

His first change was to make his hair red. It ended up as a flame-orange, so he willed again until it finally turned a vibrant shade of red. Quickly willing it back into his golden blond color, he focused on something more complicated: turning the pupils of his eyes into slits, like he had seen on cats.

Naruto stumbled back as his vision changed in an instant, before catching himself. Previously, he had only seen the dark outlines of shapes in the background, with barely enough moonlight to highlight the difference between his blond, orange and red hair. But now, the colors were sharper than they had been before.

That sent the dam bursting, and he began to toy with several ideas. He changed his hand into a paw, mystifying himself at how his human arm receded into a far smaller paw than the size his hand had originally been. His ear changed to become more pointed. He even managed to gain a few inches on his legs, making him finally able to see completely over the sink, but he stumbled when he tried to walk, unused to the new height.

It was a satisfied Naruto that finally went back to bed, after having made sure all his changes had been reverted. He didn't know why he could do it, but he knew that now that he had this power, he would continue to toy around with it, and find useful purposes for it.

When Naruto turned seven, he first managed to 'turn' completely.

He had found a river on the outskirts of Konoha that ended in a large pond, or perhaps a small lake. Surrounded by trees, he relaxed on the riverbank, stripped down only to his boxers, enjoying the feeling of the water slipping between his toes. Above him, rays of sunlight peeked through the dense green canopy.

It was the splashing sound that caught his attention. Sitting up from his laying position, he took a wary glance around, before calming down. Off in the distance, he saw an otter swimming around. Before he could barely blink, the otter had quickly dived underneath water. A second later, the otter emerged, a silver glint around his teeth.

Naruto blinked once, twice, then several times more, each in rapid succession. He watched as the otter moved onto land, before chomping what he now identified as a fish between its teeth. The fish quickly disappeared down the otter's mouth, before the sea mammal started walking away into the forest.

Envy filled him at that moment, a jealousy that he had not been expecting. The otter had made it look so nice and easy, swimming through the water, and then it had caught a fish within the blink of an eye. It had been some time since he had any sort of meat, poultry, or fish. He could get fish on his own by fishing, but he wanted to be able to get it as easily as that otter as.

An unbidden thought came to him: Why not become an otter? He pushed it back, before suddenly letting it spring back at him. Why not? He had been able to morph and change other parts of his body. Could he go the whole way?

Some part of his rational mind screamed at him that it was dangerous. He was jumping into the deep end, attempting to go from minor changes to changing into a mammalian animal that walked on all four legs and had a tail and was adapted to swim in the water. He didn't care. For so long, he had felt driftless, and being able to change parts of his body had become a novelty after a while. If he could become an otter...well, that was a game changer.

He waited for another otter to come around, and studied the sea-goer. Webbed paws, a long tail, skin and fur, black nose, whiskers, ears...he spared no detail, until finally he could close his eyes and have a near perfect copy in his head, not needing to rely on sight to visualise the otter.

Naruto held the image in his head, modifying the shape and size ever so slightly so as to not be identical to the other otter, and focused on it strongly. A part of him could feel his body shift ever so slightly, but he didn't waver. He felt almost disoriented, as if the ground was rushing up to meet him, but still he held the image of what he wanted to become in his head, until slowly, but surely, he felt totally different.

Opening his eyes, he was startled to see grass right in front of his eyes. Looking ahead, he saw a large rock, overlooking the water. He crawled forward, sluggishly, his limbs defying him, only slightly following his commands. With a great deal of effort, he made it on top of the rock, sprawling his new body out. Looking into the water, he saw the reflection of his head. Staring back at him was the face of an otter.

He opened his mouth to yell in success. All that came out were squeaks and chirps.

Startled, he fell forward into the shallow water. He tried kicking his legs, all four of his legs, not just two legs, four now, and barely succeeded in creating float. It was pathetic, really. His saving grace was that he was in shallow water.

Well. Looks like he had work ahead of him. He would have to figure out how to control this new body.

Now, to try turning back into a human...

Swimming was freedom.

Swimming was opportunity.

Swimming was bliss.

It had taken many weeks for Naruto to finally adapt fully to the body of an otter. Webbed paws and the large, muscular tail that all otters possessed were new to him, and he had to use them, gain a feel for them, and learn all over again how to swim, this time in the slithe body of the otter. Additionally, he had to at the same time both fight with and accept the animal instinct that the otter possessed, lest he lose his own identity and self.

But it paid off with dividends. Once he had finally gotten used to the new body, he delighted with lackadaisically swimming around for hours on ends, occasionally slipping in some fishing time, where he caught fish and other seafood, before chewing and then swallowing the catch. The taste was different; it still tasted good, but the otter's mind seemed less worried about the taste and more worried about getting food in its stomach.

Naruto had encountered many other otters while swimming around in the interconnected rivers around Konohagakure no Sato. During his first few encounters, he had somehow chased them off by accident, such un-otterlike behaviour that he had been displaying. Slowly, however, he managed to copy the mannerisms of the other otters he saw. The other mammals thought him a loner who had strayed in from somewhere. That was alright – it would have been worrying trying to throw off their suspicion of a new otter coming in from nowhere.

It was interesting, too, as he also soon grew capable of distinguishing between the different otters. By the time his second month had passed, spending anywhere from four to eight hours a day as an otter after the Academy left out or on the weekends, he had been able to tabulate five different 'families' (he did not know the word for groups of otters) living in the small lake area he had decided to inhabit.

Naruto made it into a learning experience, in any case. In the future, he expected that he would need to be able to transform into other animals, and learn how to act like that animal, and even live amongst their kind. Life as an otter was merely the first step in a long journey.

When Naruto was eight, he finally found a word that identified what his power was.


It had been while he was looking through books on mythology that he had found the term. Mythology had fascinated him ever since he had first been able to read. The tales of Izanami and Izanagi and their marriage, and Izanagi giving 'birth' to Amaterasu, Tsukiyomi, and Susanoo. Inari Okami, patron kami of fertility, rice, foxes, and many other items. The minor gods Fujin, Raijin, and Suijin, overlords of three of the five main elements that made up nature. The Rikudo Sennin of ages past, and the Juubi that the Sennin was constantly at war with. It quickly went down to mythological creatures, such as kappas, mischevious water sprites, or tengu, a bird-dog monster.

It was when he found the descriptions of tanuki that he found the word. Tanuki were described as being mischevious and jolly, but were also 'shapeshifters'. When the book went to elaborate on shapeshifting as being able to change forms, Naruto's attention was quickly drawn to the words on the page, as he poured over them, and found links to the kitsune and the bakaneko as other creatures supposedly able to shapeshift.

And in fact, those three creatures were the only ones that the book identified as being 'shapeshifters'. What followed was a week-long stakeout at the library near the orphanage in which he went through every book which he could find on tanuki, kitsune, bakeneko, and the power of shapeshifting. Which admittedly wasn't much, sadly. Oh, there were off-references to other creatures that had the power to shapeshift, but nothing he could follow up on, and what there were on the tanuki, kitsune, and bakeneko was limited, each book dissecting information from the others.

But it got him to thinking one day, as he looked at the mirror in the bathroom. He had always been curious about the tiny, mostly indistinct whisker-like hairs that protruded ever so slightly along his cheeks. Whiskers were supposed to provide extra tactile sensation, and with some touching and groping, he had found that next to his palms, they were the most sensitive part of his body. It wasn't quite like a tanuki might have, but a kitsune or a bakaneko, those were possibilities.

Could one of his ancestors have been a kitsune or a bakaneko somewhere along the family line? He understood enough of biology to understand that some characteristics from each of two parents were passed along to their children. Over time, however, a person had only very tenous blood links to his great grandparents or above, and a characteristic isolated to one great grandparent or higher might only show up if it survived long enough and his mother or father had married someone else who might have also had a similar characteristic to make that trait once again gain dominance.

He knew his thinking was incredibly basic, but it was the only thing he could think of. A kitsune or a bakaneko could transform into a human, that much had been repeated over and over. It was an incredibly whimsical thing to think, too, that he might be part-kitsune or part-bakaneko, but it seemed to fit. How else could he be able to shapeshift like one?

Regardless, he didn't know his true heritage, and it was a good thing that he remembered the singular truth of life: he was an orphan. Orphans might not have the life opportunities regular kids did, but they at least looked out for each other, to a degree: he had been taught by the older kids at the orphanage that nothing came free in life. If somebody offered him something, there were always strings attached. He would have to claw his way up to greatness on his own, or else mediocrity would keep him weighted down.

But most importantly, if you have something valuable, keep it to yourself. Never let someone else know about it. He had the power to shapeshift. How many people were there who might try to kidnap him, and try to use his talent to their own ends? No, he was unwilling to take that risk. Whatever the case, no matter how much he tried to develop his power, Uzumaki Naruto could never let it be known that he could shapeshift, not until he had enough strength on his own to defy all those who might try to use him.

A few days after he had come up with his theory on his ancestry, a recruiter from the Ninja Academy had come by to convince the orphans to join the academy. The few orphans whose parents were known to be shinobi, most of them killed in the Kyuubi attack, were readily converted.

Those who had unidentifiable backgrounds, such as Naruto, or who had mundane parents, which included several of his friends, were hesitant. The perks the recruiter rattled out were certainly enticing enough. Their own small apartment building that they would get rent-free until they graduated the academy. A free education. Guaranteed work after they became shinobi and kunoichi.

But growing up in the orphanage had taught them that vital lesson: there was a string attached. In this case, it was the fact that they were expected to be the grunts of Konoha's military, the faceless members who would get the ground work done, would never get assigned a famous sensei, and would be the cannon fodder for any war Konohagakure no Sato entered with another village.

Naruto weighed the choices heavily inside his mind. He didn't want to die. He never would consider himself a coward, but ninjas had short life expectancies. He would rather live, live a long and full life, becoming more than just an orphan, Naruto. He wanted to become Uzumaki Naruto.

And yet...shapeshifting. The offer of a free, private apartment for his own use was enthralling. It would allow him to perform his shapeshifting without the fear of getting caught, as was the case in the orphanage. As a ninja, he would be able to learn the use of chakra and jutsus, as he had seen several shinobi around town use. Perhaps he could somehow combine them with his shapeshifting. Even if his ninja career went bust, it would not be too hard to escape, even if he had to turn nuke-nin. He had already tested it: if he fully shapeshifted, he did not have the same scent as his human form. He would have to forsake his birth name then, but it wasn't the name itself that was important: rather, it was that he would become great.

In the end, he chose to go to the Konoha Ninja Academy.

After his first few days at Konoha's Ninja Academy, Naruto was glad he was a shapeshifter.

Before he had discovered his power, he had been prone to having the occasional rambunctious outburst. He had no doubts he would have worsened over the years, until he was near unable to focus. Shapeshifting had led him to read more than he had previously, especially on mythology and history of the land. That reading had tempered him, given him a direction.

It also meant he could now start saving up money. Each orphan enrolled in the academy was given a small monthly allotment for their own ninja supplies and groceries. Naruto needed the ninja supplies, but not the food: fish digested as an otter would help to sustain his human form. He would refrain from spending money on food. He did not know what he might do with his savings, but he knew that more money was better than less.

Slowly, several plans developed in his head. Some of them were short-term, some of them were long-term. He would lay low, but try to become strong. That way, he would be delegated to easy missions after graduating, missions which his skill set would overqualify him for. He would save up as much money as possible before retiring from being a shinobi, and use his money and his ninja training to establish a business of sorts. With his ability to shapeshift, he could sabotage his way to the top if need be.

After all, financial power was one of many ways to become great, and he held no true love for Konoha anyways. True, they housed him when his parents died during the Kyuubi attack, but the orphanage had taught him well. Grasp the opportunity when you see it, and don't let go. Becoming a ninja of Konoha was all fine and ok, but he would not march off to his death for Konoha.

At the age of ten, Naruto finally hit paydirt.

After two years at the Academy, the teachers had finally begun to teach the concept and importance of stealth. Naruto had taken to it like a natural, scoring top marks on it in class. Being able to disguise yourself, sneaking around undetected, tracking other people, being able to cover up your own tracks...the reformed Military Police made up mostly of Inuzuka and Aburame had taken time to adjust, but their own unique senses allowed them to prevent most ninja theft against civilian homes and stores.

But they had nothing on Uzumaki Naruto, shapeshifter.

In executing his first heist, Naruto pulled out all the stops. He bought several pairs of clothes in a slow shop on the opposite side of the city. He morphed into several different fictional persons of about the same age, visiting the shop he planned to rob, a prosperous grocery store that would not notice a hundred ryo going missing in small increments over a few weeks. He slowly memorised the layout and the mannerisms of the employees.

A few nights later, he morphed into a common rat, and scurried his way over from his apartment to the shop, not wanting to let any 'suspicious persons' be seen in case the grocery store ever noticed the missing money. Once he made it inside the empty building, he changed into another an owl, their night sight having been noted on several occasions at the Academy. Gliding through the store on the small gust of wind that blew in through the open high window, he found his way through a few open doors, until he found an office of sorts. Most likely the office for one of the managers or the owners.

What was pathetic was that they left the till out in the open. Even if it was locked, he already knew how to pick a lock. There wasn't even a camera in the room, letting him morph into an indistinct human form with its own separate scent. Rifling through the bills of money, he grabbed what he estimated to be about two percent of the value of the notes in the unlocked till, before morphing back into an owl.

Although he had torn his boxers when he had first changed into an otter, he had, with a little bit of practice, been able to shapeshift his clothes along with him, the fabric melting into his skin. What was disappointing was that he could not seem to be able to shapeshift new clothes into existence. With some tests with common household objects, he found he could shapeshift several items along with him, as long as they were not too large, but he could not shapeshift anything into existence that was not an extension of his own body.

He didn't understand the theory behind how some things worked and some didn't. What he did understand, however, was that the ryo bills he had stolen melded into his owl form, and he would have them when he changed back into a human. A couple of forms later, he was safely back in his apartment.

Life began to come together fully for Naruto by the time he was eleven.

The grocery store had somehow wised up and had put in some more security precautions, making it impossible for Naruto to do anything more than steal a few of the fruits and vegetables from the aisles when he tired of fish. That was alright. The grocery store was only one business in a sprawling military village of over thirty thousand people. He had spread out his thefts so that a single business might only be hit once a year. He had successfully 'broken into' a shinobi store for the first time only a month previous, taking several practice kunai and a few jutsus and scrolls on chakra theories. Nothing that the store would ever notice going missing, considering how run-of-the-mill all three items were, but significant in that he now spent nearly none of the monthly allowance he had.

He had nearly eight thousand ryo, a significant sum. A casual meal at a restaurant might cost a single ryo. The small flat he lived in cost approximately six thousand ryo. He could and would have outright bought his flat, if it were not for the fact that it would attract attention. Where did he get the money? He would not be able to answer that. Instead, he had put half a thousand into an account at one of Konoha's financial institutions, marking it down as money made from odd jobs he had done for various citizens over the years. He could put in maybe twenty ryo a week, and that would be it. Meanwhile, he would have to either hoard the rest until later when he could use it without being questioned, or spend it discreetly in ways that the money trail couldn't be traced back to him.

Another thing that had occurred was that the Academy had finally begun to teach the students some of the basic jutsu. They had practiced using and flexing their chakra shortly after joining the school, but it was not until now that Naruto had the chance to harness it with an actual jutsu.

The first of the three basis techniques that was taught was the Henge jutsu, which allowed somebody to transform into something else. Naruto snorted. It was merely an illusory technique, as it only changed his visual appearance. The theory behind it was rather dry, talking about manipulating reflected light waves to give the impression of something else. But it changed nothing else. If he grew six inches with the Henge, then if somebody tried to put their hand where the head of his Henge was located, it would go through thin air. Nor did it change or spread weight, or change smell.

To the surprise of many, Naruto was the first in his entire grade level to successfully use the Henge, and then master it, being able to change the shape and size of his Henge to microscopic and macroscopic levels both.

He wasn't quite sure why that was the case, but he theorised that it was because he was already good at envisioning what he wanted the Henge to look like, from his practice with shapeshifting. The golden-haired shinobi-in-training was rather pleased, too, as it allowed him extra time to practice his Kawimari and Bunshin jutsus.

And he was getting the feeling that his shapeshifting would be a major weapon in his future. With lots of tinkering around, he had managed to turn into a fly, and then a bear. There were still limits to the weight and size he could shapeshift into, but he was satisfied. He had also gone for longevity, trying to see if there was a time limit to his shapeshifts. The only constraint he found was that his shapeshifting apparently relied to a degree on his chakra, but it had only been after three weeks during his short summer vacation spent as an otter that he finally had begun to really dip in his chakra stores.

Disappointingly, however, he seemed to have a mental crutch when it came to shapeshifting into a different human form. He had tried to shapeshift himself a stronger body, but to no avail – while he could get stronger muscles as a bear, it just didn't seem to work while staying a human. It seemed that he could not will away the unnecessary fatty tissues and will forward more muscle tissues.

He would have to work out in his true form to see the benefits in his other human would take more hard work than he had expected. That was alright. He had already decided that even with his shapeshifting ability, he would work hard to become an excellent soldier of Konoha in all the other categories of being a ninja, all in the name of becoming great. Being at his physical peak was just another thing to throw on top of the list.

That summer, Naruto found himself at a small barbecue place with three of the few friends he had from the orphanage that had come along with him into the ninja academy. The four had ordered meat for their dinners, a rare delicacy given that most of the grocery money was spent on rice, wheat, and protein-rich vegetables.

The black-haired Keisuke was chewing on his shish kebab, while the brunette Ichiro sat next to him, twiddling his thumbs, having devoured his light order when it came. Next to Naruto sat the lone female of the group, Kaori, resplendent in the strawberry blonde hair she had let grow out since the academy had let out.

Once Keisuke had nibbled his way to the end of his stick, Naruto was the first to speak. "So, how did all you guys do this year?" Of the three, only Kaori was in his own class, so he was naturally curious.

Ichiro just rubbed his eyes, having laid his head on the table earlier, before looking up. "Not as hot as I would have liked to," Ichiro admitted, before snorting. "I studied, I worked hard, I'm athletic, but all those clan people have an advantage over us. They get their own tutors at home, they were taught for years before entering the academy. It's hard keeping up." Idly, he picked his fingernails with a kunai, nicking out the dirt that had gotten underneath.

Kaori sighed next to Naruto. It was a sweet sound, especially to Naruto, whose hormones were only just beginning to kick into gear. "Especially with, what is it, four heirs in our class, Naruto?"

"Five," Naruto corrected her. "Uchiha, Nara, Yamanaka, Akimichi, and Hyuuga." Of the five, however, only two were really competent, while another was semi-competent. A shame, really. He was near the top of the class, thankfully, and competition got his blood heated up.

"Five, right," Kaori said, picking at a string that had gotten loose on her t-shirt. "That Uchiha is such a prick sometimes. I mean, yeah, he got really hard circumstances, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, I can understand why he's so reserved, but he could at least lose the superiority attitude!"

Next to her, Naruto held back a grin of mirth. He liked Kaori in a platonic manner, he really did. She was a real tomboy, something he liked. Besides, one less girl that worshipped Uchiha Sasuke, the better.

"I guess," Keisuke finally spoke up. He had a rather nasal tone to his voice, something that was a bit hard to tolerate sometimes, but Naruto found him a genuinely good guy. He wouldn't trust Keisuke with his life, but he counted the boy as a friend. "I found the Bunshin and Henge jutsus rather easy. It's that Kawarimi that's a bit hard."

"Oh?" Ichiro questioned his friend, eyelids blinking rapidly. "Bad form, maybe?"

"Nah," Keisuke shook his head. "I can perform the replacement perfectly fine." His cheeks tinged slightly red, noticeable even through his light olive complexion, "I keep tripping right after though."

Kaori just laughed out loud. "Ha, that's the funniest thing I've heard all day, tripping after using Kawarimi. Me, though, I've had trouble using Henge. But, you know..." She took a sidelong glance at Naruto, and held it, "Naruto here managed to perform the Henge successfully on the day. The instructors were baffled at that one!"

"What, really?" Ichiro asked, impressed. It had taken him nearly two weeks before he had pulled off his first Henge, and that fourteen day period had been one of constant struggle and chakra exhaustion.

Naruto just shrugged the comment off, having already had to waylay suspicion. Ichiro took the hint and dropped the question.

The Uzumaki took a look around at his three friends, before taking a sip of his water. As much as Keisuke, Ichiro and Kaori were his friends, in a manner, he also pitied them. They were normal, and although they had the ambition and the will to become great, like he did, the lack of something special like his shapeshifting meant they would have to work all that much harder to dig themselves out of the hole life had put them in.

But what he really pitied them for was their family names, or lack thereof. Every orphan who had a family name held onto it, the only tenuous link they had to whoever his or her parents had been. However, the three fellow ninja-in-training that sat next to him had no last names. In the wake of the Kyuubi attack, the orphanages were overflowing with new orphans. Those who were yet at the age where they were truly aware and who had unidentified backgrounds had to be given new last names, but with the influx of people of those status, there was a new decree. The orphans without last names could choose their own when they became legal adults, but until then they would only have a given name.

He had been lucky. He was once told by one of the matrons that his mother had been somebody named Uzumaki Kushina, but he knew nothing more than that. A large amount of the records on the populace had been destroyed during the attack, and there was nothing about his mother in the archives. All he knew was that she was likely a refugee from the Eddy village in the Land of Whirlpool, where the name Uzumaki had been quite common before the village's destruction. He had tried to dig in and find any hints about demonic creatures breeding into the village's bloodlines, but alas, there was nothing to be found there. Privately, he mused, it was a good thing that he didn't get any fox ears or tail if he was kitsune-descended, if getting the ears and tail was even possible. After the Kyuubi no Kitsune had attacked, all the common vulpine species had been chased off from Konoha.

It was with a sort of solemnity that Naruto bade goodbye to his three orphanage friends as they finished lunch. He would go do some more swimming in his private spot, then do a little bit of work on the Bunshin, before perhaps executing another stakeout for some more jutsu scrolls later on in the evening.

He had a feeling life would depend on his getting ahead, and shapeshifting was only one aspect of it.

kitsune = demon fox, bakaneko = demon cat

No, Naruto doesn't know that he has the Kyuubi sealed in him. He just thinks he has kitsune or bakaneko blood that allows him to shapeshift. Don't worry, I'm not going to do the canon route of him finding out. That would be incredibly lame. I figure that since Shapeshifter!Naruto is able to get the Henge down incredibly quick, he has more time to focus on Bunshin.

Next chapter will be basically the Academy. I haven't really plotted out too much of the story, so a large part of it is made up as I go along.

Other random notes that should address anything you might be curious about:

There's a light amount of Animorphs plot devices in this fic (ie. Animal instinct being powerful, Naruto 'morphing' into animals, etc.) but it isn't really going to be a central theme or anything.

Yes, Naruto considers Rikudo Sennin and Juubi to be mythological instead of historical. The Jiraiya vs Pein arc, one of the frogs I believe mentions the Sennin was supposedly a legend instead of real.

It should be noted that there will be actual limits to what Naruto can shapeshift with himself. He can shapeshift clothes into his body, as well as money as shown in this chapter, but he won't be able to shapeshift everything with him.

I haven't really bothered looking up how the Narutoverse's approximate worth of currency is, but you should try equating one ryo to about four USD. When a 'casual meal' is said to be about a ryo, that's just a couple of eggs with toast, or some rice with meat, with no real food service other than just getting the food out and ready. Naruto's flat is probably around 300-400 square feet with little furnishings besides the basics, so that's why the lowball price (besides, I like to imagine Yamato probably mass-produced those things).