AN: I do not own Naruto/Bleach.
Chapter Two: Crawling
Yoruichi prowled about the dingy apartment much like the cat she was. Her thoughts were scattered, bouncing off from subject to subject regarding the treatment that her own flesh and blood suffered under.
She stopped in his room. It warmed her heart to know of his living. Facing Sarutobi could wait, it was far more important to look after Naruto. Her heart jumped lightly upon hearing a groggy groan. Her eyes lit up like fireworks as the young boy sat up on his bed.
The purple haired former shinigami crossed the breadth of the room in a millisecond, sitting on the bed. "Naruto!" her arms wrapped around his frame, pulling him into a warm embrace. Long ago she imagined a scene similar to this when she was pregnant. She wished only that the circumstances were not as such now. "I'm so glad you're alright, I'm so sorry."
Somewhat excited, she pulled back "W-what? What are you, who are you, really?" initial confusion turned into wariness. Yoruichi noted that he back peddled a few inches away, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Naruto had been isolated and ignored his entire life, people rarely got up close with him.
"Look, I need you to listen, I am sorry more than I ever have been in my life but I just need you to hear me out." She pleaded more so than she remembered in her years. "Sarutobi hasn't been entirely truthful with you."
Naruto's eyes hardened upon meeting her gaze. She barely held back a wince. "Liar, Ji-san's always been there for me!"
Yoruichi swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. That old goat essentially wrapped Naruto around his finger, practically his mouthpiece at this point. "Has he told you about your family?"
The quiet question silenced any words that formed on Naruto's lips. He shook his head side to side. "It's me Naruto. I'm Yoruichi, your Kaa-chan"
Utter silence plunged the room as the golden eyed woman smiled tenderly. "What?" He whispered in reply, the initial shock giving into anger. "Where have you been all this time?"
Yoruichi clenched her fists, gritting her teeth. Her ire arose like the buildup of a volcano. "I was lied to about your survival. Sarutobi told me that you didn't live after the attack on the village."
Naruto shook his head furiously before outright glaring at Yoruichi. "I don't believe you, Ji-san'd tell me 'bout my parents!"
"Naruto, please," she began, reaching out before the appendage was slapped away from contact. Yoruichi froze, stunned. Simultaneously it felt like a stab to her heart. Was he so under Sarutobi's influence that another person's perspective didn't matter?
"Go away, just leave, please!"
He seemed to ignore her concern, darting off the bed. Yoruichi screwed her eyes close, holding her frame. Damn that man, damn Sarutobi.
Attending Karakura High for the past month still felt discomforting, considering he spent time around those of his age range. Naruto mused. To him it was like entering a world he had no idea of, reminding him vaguely of coming to Karakura Town in the first place.
Having grown up in Konoha for most of his childhood, he was ignored by most of the adult populace while the children followed their parent's example. Often he observed such conversations taking place as talking about some celebrity that slept with another or cell phone models, car designs or the most recent fashion news.
Naruto turned right on the sidewalk and into an alleyway that gave way to a back area with an average looking shop called the Urahara Shoten, smiling. It looked quaint but gave off that comforting feeling that one would recognize as home.
Approaching the front door, he slid the shoji door open, stepping into the plain looking display area of candy. His neck hairs stood on end, catching a broom that stopped mere inches from impacting his nose. "J-Jinta-kun!"
Letting down his arm to his side, the blond could only sigh. He craned his neck, peering down the hallway where a hot-headed red haired boy flinched upon sight, a few meters in front of him was a black-haired girl with a permanent blush on her cheeks, hands clasped to her mouth, eyes wide.
"Arguing over chores again?"
The query from the blond only drew quick nods. The red haired boy winced. "Sorry nii-san."
"It's fine Ururu. As for Jinta, please work on your anger issues, you know what happened last time." Jinta Hanakari nodded his head, gulping quietly.
Naruto walked down the aisle of cheap candy and stepped up onto the tatami mats, handing off the broom as Jinta came to retrieve it, mumbling an apology before trekking to the backroom. Upon catching a glimpse of his expression, the spiky haired teen all but recognized that sobered expression.
"Um, nii-san?" said teen came out of muse and looked to the young girl who fidgeted a few feet away, rubbing clasped hands together. "I'm sorry about what just happened, I should've,"
"Again, it's just fine Ururu. You need to take more of a stance for yourself, be logical when you argue. For example, since he's the boy his muscles are a bit more suited to carrying. Try something similar on other jobs."
Halfway in, Naruto crouched, smiling warmly, giving off a more welcome presence in comparison to his days at school. "Besides that, he should treat women respectfully. I know that since you've got a hard right hook."
That smile morphed into a grin at seeing her giggle, it was true.
"Arigato nii-san" she bowed a little, smiling.
Naruto straightened before Ururu went off to do her assigned job. He had to admit the two really grew on him in the last few years.
His reverie ended before continuing down to the end of the hallway. He turned to the door on his right at the end of the hall, right near the backroom and entered, closing to ensure privacy.
The room was moderately sized but nothing extravagant to make note of, aside from the large book collection that rested in a shelf at the left corner of the room across from the doorway. On Naruto's right along the wall and to the corner was a normal looking desk with a single shelf, displaying an array of sketching materials along with an I-home that rested atop on the right, away from the supplies.
A bed faced the fronting of the shelf in the corner opposite medium sized and had a simple black blanket atop with a white colored pillow case. Attached to the spacious stretch of wall from the door to the shelf was a bulletin board pinned haphazardly with a variety of drawings. Filling in the walls were a dozen or so band posters of different genres. Naruto didn't settle for just one selected taste, preferring variety.
Naruto approached his desk and put his I-pod in for charging, selecting a random song.
He relaxed, removing the messenger bag from his person before settling down in his wheeled office chair. Simultaneously he retrieved his sketch book from the bag and opened to the first few pages, intent to finish his recent drawing.
He was rather skilled in his opinion. If he practiced a few years more he could become a manga artist. A smile curled his lips at the amusing thought. His artwork featured mainly nature and the environment, animals.
Naruto spared a moment of concentration on his drawing and wheeled over to his nightstand, checking the time on his alarm clock. He blinked at the digital display, ten past six.
He thought for a moment and then smiled. A nice walk would release tension further.
Scratch out 'nice'.
The fifteen year old stretched. Testing his limbs and appendages to see is he had entered his body correctly, a frown crossing his whiskered face.
Hollows had come out more than usual, something that he should have thought of initially. He scanned the intersection of the urban apartment area and left the scene into the nearby neighborhood districts.
Naruto let out a sigh of relief as he slowed his sprint into a leisurely walk down the dim lit narrow streets of the Minamikawase district, the houses were scrunched together plain looking in appearance and walled off. No hollows in the vicinity. It was all instinctive that he knew almost every back alley, nook and cranny across town.
He stopped, looking up to the roof of the small two story house to his right. "I know you're there, you can come out."
Any sane person would look at him like he had sprouted another head. He turned in time to see the outline of a cat jump down from the roof, zipped across the grounds and onto the gate-fence.
"Hmph, this was enjoyable a few years ago." commented the cat with a masculine voice, laced with amusement. "I usually had to make it easier for you."
The blond's form relaxed, tension releasing from his muscles as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. Eyes brightening in the moderately lit street, "I've been busy the past month, gave me some time to improve."
"Not surprising considering Isshin's daughter." The cat replied wryly. "So what have you been up to?"
Naruto's lips thinned. "Nothing much, everything's routine as of late." Upon feeling the weight of his shape-shifting mother on his shoulder, he gave a sigh.
"Old habits die hard Naru-chan, now how's school been?"
Naruto continued his nighttime walk considering the question. "Really can't complain I suppose, class lecture, homework, and other subjects."
"You know what I mean." At the rebuke, Naruto frowned. He knew exactly what topic she was referring to.
The blond sighed as she jumped off and paced briefly before sitting in front of him, patiently. "I do have a social life of sorts." That was the best way he could describe his association with Ichigo and co.
He resisted the urge to groan and rubbed his forehead. "It's not that big an issue, it's not like I plan on staying in school after the Hogyoku problem is over."
Yoruichi arched a brow delicately. "A lovely plan, though I can't see you staying at the Shoten for another decade."
The blond stopped, standing underneath the beam of a street lamp. "I thought about becoming a musician." He murmured, leaning his body's weight to one leg.
The cat's lips twitched if one noticed closely. Naruto certainly had a passion for singing, it didn't matter what genre he'd cover. "That does require further education I take?"
He made a noise of acknowledgement, recalling vaguely on some career information he had looked up some weeks ago, regarding a visa or license after university. "Yes."
Ok, so he didn't think that far ahead.
"Does school still sound like a bad idea to you?" Yoruichi arched a brow, sitting on her haunches, tail flicking about languidly.
"Fine," Naruto acquiesced in a grumble, crossing his arms, "twist that knife a little deeper why don't you?"
A deep toned laugh erupted from Yoruichi's throat, amused. "Sorry for ruining your little fantasy, a little reminder of that was rather necessary."
True. He knew she was rather taken to her role as a mother, having to give up on and get rid of old habits to focus on the responsibility of being a single parent. If it wasn't for her, he probably wouldn't be standing here today.
"What about your friends now? Kisuke passed off that you know Ichigo."
"Well…" Naruto trailed off for a moment, a contemplative look adorning his face as he reflected on the events of the past month.
Friends, did Ichigo and Co fall under that category? In his childhood days the image of having friends to laugh and play with stuck with him, the idea however vanished from the realm of his dreams like an early morning mist when reality smacked him down. He always thought that friends helped out one another and trusted each other implicitly.
Now though. He knew about the reason why he was hated during his time in Konoha. The world looked so different from his point of view. He saw things beyond all the petty conversations and products that normal teenagers conversed about or in some cases, whine.
Then there was Kyuubi. It was impossible to bring the image to mind on just what kind of reaction Ichigo and 'friends' would have to being told that he was a container to a towering demon of raging power.
He expected that anyway, Urahara wanted him to monitor Ichigo's reiryoku and gain more experience as a shinigami. Not to mention to keeping an eye on developments on those around her. How would Ichigo and Chad along with his loosely termed friends react to such an admission? He knew that Ichigo would soon be awakening her shinigami abilities.
He acted like an observer, like a spy.
God he was such a fucking hypocrite.
Naruto started from his musing when he felt a nip in his right foot's ankle. His shape shifting mother rounded his feet and eyed him from a meter or so.
"Naruto?" she voiced, concern on her face and in her voice. "Is something on your mind? You blanked out for a few minutes."
For a moment, it sounded humoring considering she was in her cat form. Naruto shook his head and rubbed his eyes to clear his vision. "I'm fine, I got lost in my thoughts."
Liar, he ignored the accusation from his subconscious, withholding a wince.
He waved off the issue with the gesture of his hand, Yoruichi's stare lingered on him for a minute before nodding. They continued the walk, a lull of silence having overtaken the conversation. She didn't buy the excuse. He knew that and she knew that. His mother knew him best out of the 'family'.
Naruto froze upon feeling a familiar reiatsu flare about half a block away. The situation was further incensed by the lone echo of a hollow's moan.
"Oh, looks like it's begun!"
Naruto would have bolted, but was stopped by the voice he had grown accustomed to over the years. He turned to face a man wearing an outfit of all green with smatterings of white, though the characteristics that stood out were the white and green bucket hat, cane in hand. He bore light skin, slate grey eyes and had scruffy pale blond hair underneath said hat.
"Dear lord, he finally came out in public." Naruto spoke as if the world was ending, lips quirked.
Yoruichi snorted, humored, obviously referring to his fashion sense or lack thereof.
"Oh, at least I don't have high school hormones for problems Naruto-kun." Urahara retorted breezily, taking the route towards the Kurosaki den at a leisurely pace. "Still having fan girl issues?"
Briefly, Naruto twitched; matching the man's stride. It was somewhat of a habit at this point that they trade playful barbs. Harmless fun of course, injured pride was what remained in the end.
"Anyway," he gave a pointed look at the man "I take it that your little plan in in motion?"
Urahara confirmed upon reaching the street corner. "Yes, Aizen's own machinations are gaining traction. This means that you can cut down the hollow patrols for a while, let Kurosaki-chan get some experience."
Naruto nodded his understanding, smirking as he crossed his arms. "Of course, though you really should get yourself a hobby if you get bored doing this all the time, stalking young girls? What would Tessai think?"
The former captain set down the gigai slung over his shoulder against the concrete wall of an intersection. "Naruto-kun," he admonished upon standing, flicking out that beloved fan of his as if he were wagging his own finger at him. "I am a mere honest, handsome and perverted businessman with standards to follow."
"You have standards?" the teen replied in mock astonishment, placing a hand over his heart. Naruto found it to be therapeutic to use humor and wit to relieve the stress of his unnatural life.
"Now, now children," Yoruichi chided, reminding the two of her presence as her eyes rolled. "I talked up with Kuukaku, she's making preparations as we speak."
Urahara nodded, snapping his fan in apparent satisfaction as he tucked it away. "Good then. Naruto-kun, you can minimize your hollow patrols for the next while and attend to it when it's necessary."
The gears in Naruto's mind worked, making a conclusion. Ichigo would become a shinigami due to the 'game' that was between Aizen and Urahara, drawn into the world of the unseen. It was scary somewhat, he likened to analogize that the two were kings on the opposite sides of the board moving their pieces.
Urahara had been patient with teaching him, having lost count of just how many times they had played strategy games, giving science lessons on the spiritual world. He somewhat owed the fact that his own reasoning and analytical thinking had increased thanks to the man in question.
What would happen after though? Would the situation spiral out of control and eventually draw the eyes of the Gotei Thirteen? He tried not to think on the implications of such an outcome, but it was hard not to. He loved the life and family he had now.
He was a Pureblood after all, a child fostered from the union of a shinigami and a human. Throw in the fact that he was the son of a former clan head and noble made him all the more precarious about the possible situation.
Naruto shook his head to get out that developing nugget, right hand clenched at his side tightly. No, he banished it to the depths of his mind. This situation would occur and cease to be in his mind.
A hand grasped his shoulder, shaking his frame gently. Reality crashed back into him like a wave as he readjusted. "…Naru-chan, Oi! You there?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" Naruto remarked sharply, gently removing the hand from his shoulder. A twitch tugged at his lips upon seeing the human form of his mother, clothed of course.
She took a step or two back onto the street as he rubbed his face with his free hand and let out a long sigh. "Naruto, you blanked out on me twice, what's eating at you?"
Again the concern surfaced, he made eye contact with golden orbs before looking away. What didn't eat at him these days? "I…I'm okay," he sighed at her somewhat skeptical look. "There's just a lot on my mind recently."
"It certainly must be a lot," interjected Urahara, peering around the corner as a wave of reiatsu surged from the Kurosaki homestead, garnering a brief amount of attention from the mother and son. "I think you can stop clenching your right fist now, you might break a bone unintentionally."
Naruto blinked and lifted his fist to bear as he unfurled it. He didn't register his skin breaking, or the warm blood. The deep cuts healed up in mere moments before dropping it to his side.
He was a Jinchuuriki, another label to add to the list. In his mind, he had no idea how the Gotei would react, much less the Central Forty Six. Naruto studied at his hand, flexing the fingers idly.
"Why can't things ever be simple?"
The whisper was soft, so low that no human being would be able to hear. "Naruto."
His gaze rose, meeting Yoruichi's, her arms rigid in the crossed position. He could see the twitch of her fingers, tense. The worry was palpable on her features just as much the feeling was in the air. ", be honest with me. Do you want to talk about it?"
Naruto lowered his arm, swallowing his dry throat. "No." he stopped and paused before blowing out a breath of air, lying wouldn't fool her nor would he be absolved of the thoughts plaguing his mind. "Yes, yes I do. Can we talk about this at home?"
For a moment, she stared. Then she smiled tenderly "Sure, I think Kisuke's nearly finished with his business."
His shoulders slumped in relief. Naruto wouldn't say it aloud, but he knew that from here on out, there was no going back, no point of return.
Finished and Edited: 12/19/12
Hey everyone, sorry that it's been so long. I've been kept busy for a number of reasons. Please give me your constructive criticism to improve my work, flames don't help me all that much.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter, I felt I gave a bit more character depth than in my previous work, something I feel particularly happy about.