AN: A one-shot exploring the idea that Naruto gets a little curious about the Bijuu sealed inside him. If you've read Chaotic Symbolism's Sometimes All It Takes Is A Name, you'll undoubtedly notice the similarities. This story was made from a blending of ideas and writing from the both of us and this is my own version. They are differences in every scene with the most significant being in the final exchange between Naruto and the Kyuubi. Please enjoy.
For Want of a Name
A Bond was Forged
Naruto closed the door to his apartment and locked it behind him. Not feeling any desire to hang around and having already ate with Iruka, he passed straight into his bedroom to get some sleep. Within minutes Naruto was laying on his bed, holding his hitai-ate above his head and studying the leaf engraving in the metal. Not for the first time, his mind retraced the events that had occurred in the early hours of the morning.
Stealing the scroll. Learning a kinjutsu. Mizuki's deception. Iruka's acknowledgement.
And learning that the Kyuubi no Youko, the monster that had ravaged Konoha until it had been defeated by the Yondaime Hokage twelve years prior, hadn't been killed as he had been led to believe. Instead, it had been sealed inside him on the day he was born. The secret which been kept from both him and his entire generation.
That was why he had been hated and despised, why he had been ridiculed and ignored for his entire life. Naruto had wondered why for such a long time and now he knew the truth.
It was an enlightening experience. But the truth wasn't that much better than his ignorance.
And it had brought forth a new thought: how could he have gone all these years without realising the Kyuubi was inside him? He'd never seen it, there were no voices in his head and, as far as he could remember, he'd had no strange dreams of a giant demon fox.
Could he find it, if he tried? Did he even want to?
Deciding to take a chance, Naruto closed his eyes and concentrated.
'Hello? Any foxes in there?' he thought to himself, 'Any at all? I know you're in here somewhere!'
For several seconds there was no change and he began to feel foolish at the attempt. Then the darkness melted away and Naruto found himself in some kind of oversized basement.
"The hell?" said Naruto, trying to look everywhere at once. The surroundings were dim-light with no visible light source, the walls were made of metal panels and pipes ran through the ceiling. He could feel the dry water (how did that work?) around his feet and hear a constant dripping sound that came from everywhere and nowhere.
'Maybe I should look around,' Naruto decided. He could see an entry way just a few feet ahead and felt a strong impulse to head towards it. Always one to follow his instincts, Naruto did so without hesitation.
Minutes or hours later, he stepped out of the passageway and found himself in an open area. He continued to venture into the room until he could see the end, revealing a huge set of bars rising far above his head. They belonged to equally massive cage doors with a strip of paper in centre, the kanji for "seal" being barely visible.
It reminded him of a prison cell. Naruto's eyes widened as realisation struck, "No way!"
"I'm amazed that you figured out to come here on your own, boy," a deep, rumbling voice erupted from behind the cage. A single, eye opening; the pupil a vertical slit and its crimson glow illuminated the surrounding darkness.
Naruto's mouth flapped open and closed until he felt his voice come back, "You…you're the fox!"
His words were met with a low, barking laugh.
"Give the brat a prize."A row of gleaming white fangs, each one larger than Naruto himself, stretched into a fearsome grin. "Indeed I am."
Hearing the confirmation, Naruto felt something snap inside him as twelve years of loneliness, pain and hate burst from him like a hurricane.
"It's your fault!" shouted Naruto, "It's because of you everyone hates me!"
A snort was all he received in response, prompting Naruto to grit his teeth in anger. His nails dug into his palm and his hands trembled as he glared at the thing that ruined his life.
"Don't blame me for their choices, boy," retorted the Kyuubi, no longer grinning. "If my existence within you bothers you so greatly, then release me. Then we would both be happy then."
"I'm not that stupid," said Naruto. Giving the fox its freedom was last thing he felt like doing right then. "Why did you attack the village? If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be alone, I wouldn't be hated.
Massive claws slammed against the bars with enough force that the resulting shockwave knocked Naruto off his feet. He could feel the fury rolling off the beast in waves, its monstrous form outlined with a crimson glow as its anger was manifest.
"Watch your words! Don't make accusations when you know so little, boy!" the Kyuubi roared. "It was you ninja who never left me alone!"
Naruto got back onto his feet, still bubbling with anger, but nonetheless perplexed by the demon's comment. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Once again, he received only an annoyed snort in response as the Kyuubi's rage seemed to fade. It settled back down as if it were preparing to sleep.
"Figure it out yourself, brat," said the Kyuubi as it closed its eyes.
"Oi, don't go to sleep!" shouted Naruto, shaking his fist at the colossal beast. "We're not done here!"
Before Naruto could say anything else, the surroundings melted away and he was jolted back into the real word as his alarm clock went off. Staring up at the ceiling for several moments dazed and unblinking, Naruto shook his head to snap himself out of his shock and turned off his alarm.
Naruto, sitting up in bed, rubbed his head as he rolled the Kyuubi's last words to him around in his head. 'What did he mean? He made it sound as if he was…a victim or something.'
A fierce growl burst from his stomach, alerting him that it was time for breakfast. Deciding to put the issue aside for now, Naruto proceeded to get something to eat. He'd think better on a full stomach anyways.
After realising that that he wasn't getting anywhere by himself, Naruto chose to speak with the Sandaime about his confrontation with the Kyuubi. The elderly man listened intently to Naruto's tale, silently grateful that the boy had chosen to ignore that fox's advice. The Kyuubi being unleashed in the heart of his village wasn't a scene Hiruzen wished to see ever again.
"Do you know what he meant, old man?"
"I have an idea, yes," Hiruzen told Naruto. "Ever since the hidden villages were founded and wars began to break out again, the powers of the Bijuu were coveted by many. I suppose being hunted down, captured, and used against their will would make anyone angry, wouldn't it?"
The Sandaime took a puff from his pipe as he watched Naruto's thoughtful expression.
"That makes sense," said Naruto, nodding. He couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy warring with the anger he felt at the thought of the Kyuubi. To be treated as an object for who knows how long and then locked inside a cage for twelve years sounded terrible.
But it had still attacked Konoha and paid the price for it. And so did he.
And then something occurred to him. "What's a Bijuu?"
It took a few moments for the question to sink. Hiruzen let out a sigh, spreading scented smoke into the air as he realised the problem. The Bijuu were only touched upon during the Academy, and he was well aware that Naruto wasn't someone to pay attention in lessons with more talking than doing. Though, given the earnest expression on the boy's face, he seemed quite interested in this lesson.
"The Bijuu," Hiruzen began, "are nine creatures made of chakra, each with a number of tails from one to nine. And before you ask, yes, you have the strongest of the Bijuu sealed inside you," he added before Naruto had the chance to interrupt.
"Now if I may continue?" the Sandaime asked. Naruto nodded furiously. "The problem was that the Bijuu were extremely difficult to control, so a method was devised to harness their power as weapons. They were sealed inside humans who would learn to control the Bijuu's power; these individuals are called Jinchuuriki."
Naruto's face lit up. "Does that mean there're others like me then?"
Hiruzen concealed a grimace at the possible future the question brought to me. Naruto running off to find the other eight, regardless of their histories and allegiance, convincing them to become a team and go on adventures. Such a thing could only end in chaos, destruction and hilarity.
He needed to discourage the boy; Konoha's budget wouldn't be able to cover all the damages.
"Yes, as far as I'm aware all the other Bijuu have human vessels, at the moment." Somehow Naruto's face grew even brighter. "But their identities and locations aren't common knowledge. And simply asking each village would be impossible."
"Oh," replied Naruto, his face shifting from overjoyed to sullen in moments. It would have been nice to finally meet someone like himself he could talk too.
Hiruzen crushed the guilt he felt for lying. This wasn't information that he could hand out to a fresh genin, even if he was a Jinchuuriki. To prevent any further questioning along those lines, he said, "If you wish to learn more about the Bijuu, Naruto, might I make a suggestion?"
"Go to the library."
Seeing Naruto's confused look, Hiruzen elaborated, "There are many old stories about the Bijuu that may help you learn to understand them better."
"Huh? Why do I have to do that?" asked Naruto. It sounded far too much like studying for his liking.
"Because whilst you may not like it, you have the Kyuubi inside you, Naruto," said Hiruzen, a hard note in his voice. Naruto straightened unconsciously under the village leader's gaze. "You are a Jinchuuriki and you should consider it a responsibility to learn as much as can about it and all of the Bijuu."
The Sandaime waited a moment, watching as Naruto stewed over his words.
"You may even find some of the stories interesting," he continued, "some legends say the Bijuu were once human."
Naruto blinked as he imagined what the Kyuubi might have looked like as a human. For some reason, the first image that came to mind was a sexy, re-headed girl with fox ears and tails. The thought was banished by a deep growl that seemed to echo inside his head.
Naruto opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say anything, a small figure wearing a long scarf ran in screaming "DIE!" only to trip over the aforementioned scarf.
Hiruzen heaved a heavy sigh at the sight of grandson's antics while Naruto just watching the scene in confusion.
Later that day, Naruto waved goodbye to Konohamaru as the two went their separate ways. The kid may be annoying and was after his job - even though it wasn't his job yet either - but he nonetheless felt an understanding with the younger boy as he remembered what Konohamaru said to him.
"No one ever calls me by my name. I'm just called 'honoured grandson' and I hate it."
Naruto knew what that felt like. And after his discussion with the Sandaime, a part of him wondered if Kyuubi felt that way too. At this point Naruto was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn't notice someone come up behind him until they spoke.
The blond jumped slightly as he turned around.
"Iruka-sensei!" the boy exclaimed, smiling at the familiar face. "How are you?"
Iruka grinned down at him. "I'm fine. I was talking to Hokage-sama earlier and he told me about what you two had been discussing."
"He did?" replied Naruto.
"Yes, and I thought I'd check up on you to see how you're doing."
Naruto shrugged in response. "I'm okay, I guess. I've decided something though."
"Oh, what's that?" Iruka asked. He already some ideas on what Naruto was about to say, with that determined gleam in his eyes.
"I'm going to show everyone that I'm not the Kyuubi! I understand that's why they look down on me. So I'm going to show everyone who Uzumaki Naruto is!" Naruto declared.
Hearing this, Iruka smiled with pride as he ruffled Naruto's hair. "I'm glad to hear it."
Naruto beamed before his face fell as a thought crossed his mind. "Hokage-jiji told me that I should check out the library and read up on the Bijuu, but I've got no idea where to start. So…" Naruto rubbed the back his head in embarrassment. "Could you, maybe, help me out, Iruka-sensei?"
Iruka clasped Naruto on the shoulder.
"This isn't getting us anywhere," Naruto complained. His head was resting on the book-filled table, a glazed look in his eyes as he stared at the open page before him. Iruka sat across from, skimming through the books in his hand.
The stories essentially said the same thing in different ways - at least in the three books he had read through so far. The Bijuu were demonic beasts that had been around since time immemorial and were likened to natural disasters. There was no real origin story for them.
Though there were some things that caught his interest. Like the tales of the Suna Priest, Shukaku, who became corrupted and transformed into the Ichibi no Tanuki. Though Naruto didn't think it was anything other than fiction; the Bijuu had been around long before the hidden villages, after all. Still, the Ichibi was known as Shukaku.
Did that mean the Bijuu had their own names or did humans come up with them? Did the Kyuubi have a name?
"Naruto," said Iruka. The genin looked over at him without bothering to lift his head. Iruka gave him a stern glance and said, "We're not gonna get this done any faster if you just laze around. Get to it."
"But, Iruka-sensei~!" whined Naruto. "There's nothing here. They all say the same thing. The only interesting bit I found was that one of them has a name, that Shukaku guy."
Iruka sighed but that didn't stop Naruto. "I wanna know the interesting stuff like where they came from or if the Kyuubi has a name, but no-one has any idea. I might as well ask the damn fox himself."
Regardless, Naruto reached over to pick up another book only to stop midway. His eyes widened as he went over what he just said. At the same time Iruka met Naruto's gaze with the look of the enlightened.
Ask the fox?
Naruto grinned. "That's it!"
Not even half an hour later, teacher and student were back at Naruto's apartment to prepare for the endeavour. Naruto was lying on his bed with Iruka sitting nearby as they made their preparations.
"Are you sure about this, Naruto?" said Iruka.
Iruka looked at him for a moment. "Well, if you're su-"
"Er, Sensei," Naruto interrupted. Iruka blinked. The boy wasn't meeting his eyes, instead staring at the ceiling and looking oddly pensive. "You don't have to stay here, you know? I mean, I know what happened to your parents and everything, so this can't be very nice for you."
Iruka went from perplexed to touched, at his former student's thoughtfulness.
"You don't need to worry about it," said Iruka. That time Naruto did meet his eyes. "I want to be close by, in case anything goes wrong."
Naruto smiled up at him. If he was planning to meet it, the Iruka wouldn't feel right if he wasn't around to help. No matter what his feelings for the Kyuubi might be, Naruto was the one who had to live with it inside him and he was the one who suffered most for it. Iruka's personal feelings weren't important right then.
Picturing the prison he'd seen before, Naruto closed his eyes and focused. When he felt the shift of location, he opened his eyes to see the dimension within this seal (or wherever this place was).
"Hey, fox! I've got something to say to you!" shouted Naruto.
The Kyuubi opened its eyes and glared at the boy. It said nothing, fully aware of what Naruto planned though still curious as to whether he would actually go through with it.
Taking a deep breath, Naruto recalled what he'd planned to say. He and Iruka had discussed it on the way to his apartment, trying to figure out how to have a proper conversation with a demon fox.
Naruto returned the Kyuubi's intense gaze in equal measure.
"I am Uzumaki Naruto, the future Hokage of Konoha. Who are you?"
Seconds passed. The only sound that punctured the silence was the ceaseless dripping of water from the pipes.
"None of your concern."
The Kyuubi's eyes closed once again, dismissing the boy in the same gesture.
"What? Are you kidding me?" screamed Naruto, incredulous at the beast's reply. "Oh, come on. Tell me!"
"Leave me," the Kyuubi replied, still not bothering to look at him.
In defiance, Naruto didn't move an inch. Having the Kyuubi was refuse him just made him really want to know. "I'll leave when you tell me your name. I'm not going to be ignored by you."
The fox's long ears twitched at the grating voice, irritation building as the boy carrying on talking.
"Oi, I'm talki-!"
The Kyuubi didn't shout. It didn't even raise its voice. But the sheer desire to killslaughterdestroy within the words sent Naruto's to the knees. The air was robbed from his lungs, cold sweat broke out over his skin and Naruto learnt what it felt like to stand in the presence of something could and would utterly destroy him, given the chance.
"Insufferable infant! Why should I give you my name? You're no better than the rest who seek my power!" roared the Kyuubi, its voice rising with its anger.
Tails swirling in agitation, the beast had risen into a crouch so that it loomed over Naruto even further. As crimson chakra swirled around it, the water bubbled with heat and turned to steam and the boy could feel how the air itself burned against his skin. It was a sharp contrast to the icy fear that had spread through his limbs.
"You chase me and you cage me and try to treat me like a pet. I will not cater to your whims, brat. Now leave!" roared the Kyuubi,
Naruto wanted to. He wanted to run from this and never look back more than he had ever wanted anything in his entire life. But…
Even though the intent to kill had vanished as quickly as it had come, Naruto still suffered from its presence. His whole body was trembling and he felt sick to his stomach. A part of him simply wanted to crawl into a ball until the shivers. But instead, the young shinobi struggled back to his feet.
"What?" The faint denial had caught the Kyuubi's attention.
"No," Naruto repeated. He started to walk towards the cage, forcing himself not to stumble, eyes never leaving the fox's. "Not 'till you tell me your name."
An incredulous growl erupted from the Kyuubi. Naruto continued to walk until he was standing only inches from the gap between the bars, straight-backed and resolute.
"Why should I tell you my name?"asked the Kyuubi.
"Because I asked," replied Naruto easily. The fox narrowed its eyes. "Has anyone else ever asked?"
There was no reply.
"That's what I thought. I'm not after your power, you were in a cage when I got here, I don't want a pet and I'm not leaving until I get your name," said Naruto, countering each point the Kyuubi made.
"Why do you even want to know?"the fox asked, suspicion evident in his tone. Even knowing what Naruto had been doing prior to this wasn't enough to make him understand why.
"Because…" Naruto faltered. Why did he want to know so badly? The first time he met the Kyuubi he had shouted at it, accused it of ruining his life and hated it. And as far as he knew, he wasn't wrong. But that hate and anger had been pushed back – not erased – when he began to suspect there was more to the Kyuubi than a monster.
"Because I know what it's like to have your existence denied by everyone," said Naruto at last. "And I think you do too."
The Kyuubi remained silent, though he was sure that its focus on him had intensified.
"Because, like it or not, we're stuck together. Ignoring you or hating you won't change anything, so I figured I should try to understand. Even if you really are just a monster who likes to destroy everything it sees, at least it would come from you and not from books written by someone who's never met you," Naruto finished, scratching the back of his head. He felt kind of exposed, as if he'd gotten far more off his chest than he really intended.
The silence pervading the room only made the feeling worse. And the Kyuubi reared back its head and laughed.
Naruto, unsure of how to react, just stood and waited. Finally, the beast calmed down and met his gaze again.
"…huh?" was Naruto's eloquent reply.
"My name is Kurama," the Kyuu – Kurama – said, a fearsome grin stretched across its face. "I will not repeat it."
"Oh." Naruto took a few moments to let that sink in. "That's not a bad name."
The fox continued, "You interest me, boy. You are indeed the first to ask for my name."
Naruto chuckled, rocking back on his heels. "Well, you know."
"I will be watching you closely," said Kurama. Naruto snapped back to attention at its serious tone. "Words mean little. I shall see who you really are and who you will become."
"Then I guess I have to show you! I'm gonna surpass all the former Hokage," replied Naruto instantly.
"As you should,"said Kurama, easing back into a resting position. "I am the strongest of the Bijuu and I will not suffer a weakling as my Jinchuuriki."
"Well, that's good then," said Naruto, fully aware of Kurama's curiosity at his reply. Grinning, he continued. "Because I'm gonna be the strongest shinobi there's ever been. We'll make a good pair."
A deep, rumbling laughter filled Naruto's ears.
"Such arrogance. Do not disappoint me, Naruto."
"No problem, Kurama."
The fox's eyes closed once more as the boy returned to reality. It seemed the world would be changing once more.
AN: Just to clarify, I have no intention of writing a sequel to this. However, should I ever write a full-length fanfic, Naruto taking a deeper interest in the Kyuubi and the Bijuu will likely be one of the subplots.