Blanket Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its characters, nor do I profit from my mad ravings.
Warnings: Philosophy, crack pairing.
The great Kyuubi no Kitsune, most powerful of the tailed beasts, was an ancient creature, steeped in secrets and legend. He had existed for so long that he'd quite forgotten from whence he'd came, or even if he had always been this way. There was always anger and that all-consuming sense of divine retribution that carried through his entire being like a pulse, calling him to seek out and destroy. Once or twice, he'd found himself chained into the service of man, but humans ultimately live brief and fleeting lives, so he shortly found himself free again.
And then, one day, he'd been caged.
The Kyuubi had found himself squeezed and stuffed into a human child, his powers torn in twain and the world locked away from his reach. It was a disturbing sensation, though not altogether uninteresting – after all, there was so little that seemed to truly affect him in the mortal world and this was a new experience.
The novelty soon wore off. As it turned out, time seemed to slow down to a crawl in his human cage. When he was free, the passing of years was hardly discernible. Decades would pass as he wandered through the lands, purifying malice with destruction. Now, the years were as centuries and he feared he was going mad from the painful tedium.
Then, the human child had started to turn the key in the lock of the cage door and, slowly, painfully, the world began to return. It came in bits and pieces at first, then in a steady stream and soon the strange little boy learned it could demand of him. Thus, it was with great reluctance that he finally met his jailor.
Kyuubi found the child amusing at first. It was a relief to have a diversion after such a long time of imprisonment and the child was good at keeping things interesting. He was glad to lend the boy his power to eliminate enemies that teemed with malice, as it almost felt like things were back to normal and he was not quite so confined. And then, one day, the boy cut him off, began to shun that power and even fear it.
Such an insult!
The Kyuubi disliked this change and made it his business to press the issue. He missed the feeling of freedom, of the punishment only he could inflict – what right had this child to deny him that pleasure? What right had this child to spurn him, he who had saved him so many times before?
But, firmly chained by his jailor's whims, the once-great Kyuubi became little more than a spectator lingering on the edges of life. Sometimes, he saw and heard all that passed before the eyes and ears of his cage. Other times, he ignored them, shunning his jailor's consciousness and hiding deep within. More often than not, he simply lingered in his cage, too angry at his jailor to spy, and let himself be consumed with boredom.
Today, however, was quite ostensibly an aberration.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, something new happened. It came in the form of an unusual intruder, a girl-child that resembled the fair-haired one that his jailor called teammate. She seemed to blur at the edges into the shadows and carried a washed-out look about her, as though she were a faded memory.
It was a strange thing, indeed.
"I was thinking, you know," she said, absently looking around, "About reality and stuff."
The Kyuubi lowered his head to regard her curiously.
"It's weird," she continued. "See, I'm not supposed to be more than a voice. She didn't need me to be anything else and now she's growing up and doesn't need that voice anymore. And yet, I'm still here – I'm still me."
She paused, putting her hand to her chin in contemplation. "I didn't quite understand it myself at first, but I've always been smart and, even if she thinks I'm not there, I still listen, you know? And she's been talking about philosophy a lot lately. Some of it's pretty boring, but I haven't got much to do and occasionally, something useful pops up."
He grunted, which she seemed to take as an affirmation of understanding.
"It's perception, that's what it is," she said, finally. "I perceive myself to exist, therefore I do. My reality is altered to adhere to that perception. It's very odd, I know, but you get used to it after a while and, eventually, you can start doing things."
She looked up at him, smiling beatifically as she added, "It's how I got here, you know."
How decidedly intriguing, the Kyuubi thought.
"I'm getting better at it, but it's dreadfully boring being ignored all the time and then I remembered her saying something about him not using you anymore," she continued. "I figured you had to be getting pretty bored, locked up in this lunkhead."
Kyuubi chuckled and so began the course of his unusual acquaintance with the former fragment of personality that Sakura Haruno had once called her own.
Having evolved into an independent consciousness, the girl-child was an immense curiosity to Kyuubi. After all, how often was it that an existence was born from sheer will to be?
The girl-child would come and go as she pleased, testing her limits or so she claimed, but he did not mind. There was so little to do here, being trapped in his personal limbo, and her visits always yielded discussions of the outside world, philosophy and science. And, while she may have prattled on at times about relatively inconsequential things, the sound served to further fill up the emptiness of the his prison.
"We should go outside and have a picnic," she said, one day. She wore a white sundress and large, ridiculously floppy white hat. In her hands, she held a picnic basket with a red and white checkered blanket.
Kyuubi regarded her curiously and then cast a forlorn glance at the bars of his prison. "I cannot leave this place."
"You always worry about silly things," she sighed, cocking her head to the side. "You could step outside if you wanted to badly enough. Don't be a scaredy-cat!"
"I am not afraid!" the Kyuubi responded, narrowing his eyes at her. "I'm trapped here. There's a difference."
She gave him a long-suffering look. "Don't you remember anything I told you? Reality is what you make it."
He sighed, looking away from the strange slip of a girl. "Sometimes, I wonder what exactly you perceive me to be."
"That's very easy," she said, smiling beatifically. "Put your hand in mine and I will show you my reality."
The Kyuubi stared at her and then at his paw, which seemed large enough to crush a handful people in a single step. It was exactly as he remembered it. In reality, he was little more than a formless combination of soul and chakra, trapped inside a human cage. Then, why did he insist upon clinging to this image of himself? Was it because he wanted to preserve his identity or because he wanted to terrorize his jailor? Had he shaped himself around his jailor's fears and knowledge of those stories of the events that had transpired the night he was sealed?
"Is this what you meant?" he wondered aloud, and carefully rested his paw flat on her outstretched hand.
The walls of his prison spun, vanishing in a wash of color and light. And then he was standing in a small one-room traditional house, across from the girl-child, with his hand – his very human hand – resting in her palm. He could feel the tatami mat underneath his bare feet and the weight of clothing on his body. This was... bizarre.
She curled her fingers around his hand, smiling up at him. "Let's go outside and have a picnic."
The doors of the house opened, revealing a grassy plain and an endless blue sky.
"Yeah," he said, smiling for the first time.
AN: Kyuubi no Kitsune x Inner Sakura, FTW?