It was his fifth birthday, and the fifth anniversary of the day Minato Namekaze, the forth hokage, stopped the Kyuubi no Kitsune from destroying the Village Hidden in the Leaves. It was on this day of celebration that Naruto Uzumaki, a blonde haired blue eyed child, feared for his life. He had been kicked out of the orphanage just that morning by one of the caretakers. When he asked why, with tears in his eyes and resignation on his face, the old woman had said, "We don't want you here."
But as shocking as it was for him, Naruto wasn't surprised. He knew that he was hated by the adults, he'd watched them all his life as they became more rabid in their efforts to make his life a living hell. These 'Kyuubi abolitionists' as they had taken to calling themselves, would refuse Naruto food, clothing, compassion, anything above the bare-minimum, and even a great many things below it. They would yell and throw rocks. Sometimes they'd get in a group and use their fists and wouldn't stop until he'd, 'learnt his lesson'. Never mind that he never knew what these lessons were supposed to be.
Naruto was forced to scrounge for leftovers when it came to everything he owned, the result being that he didn't have any sort of nice things at all. The young boy considered it a blessing in disguise, though, because when he was kicked out of the orphanage there was nothing to be thrown out, short of Naruto himself.
Currently there was a crowd of drunken villagers on a fox hunt. That was why the sapphire eyed boy had taken refuge in a trash heap. It was because the villagers of Konohagakure failed to see the difference between Naruto and the demon that was sealed in his belly, but the young blond didn't know that. All he knew was that everyone hated him and he didn't know why.
Naruto listened to the villagers passing by as they drunkenly searched for him. He'd been fine up until the festival had begun, wandering around looking for wherever he was going to spend the night. He hadn't noticed at first but it didn't take long to notice. It had started with one guy following him, then more had joined and he'd found himself running for his life.
'Why do they want to hurt me? Why do they treat me like this? What did I ever do to them?' Naruto shed silent tears for himself as he wallowed in self pity. He didn't get too far though, because one of the villagers in their drunken stupor had fallen and knocked the trash heap Naruto had been hiding in lose. They starred at each other for a moment, wet sapphire eyes glued onto dark unfocused orbs.
The man was the one to recover first, shouting "Get over here you demon! Don't let him get away, he's been hiding in the garbage!"
That shout was enough to pull Naruto away from his fear induced shock. He turned and ran as fast as he could to find a new hiding spot. But now the adults were on his tail and gaining quickly. They were making their presence known as well, letting loose howls of "The chase is on!" and "Get back here you demon fox!"
The noise of the initial drunks had attracted the others and soon the group tailing the poor boy had quadrupled in size. They were almost on top of him now, grabbing at his already torn and ripped cloths in an attempt to drag him into the waiting onslaught. Naruto did everything he could to try and escape, he zigged and he zagged, he wiggled and he wobbled, he even burst through windows, toppled crates, and tipped over barrels. But the villagers were relentless in their chase, and more were popping up everywhere. It was like fighting a colony of insects, they swarmed him.
Naruto was finally caught when he jumped out of the window of some convenience store and a wave of angry bodies came rushing at him from every direction. With wide eyes, he looked for any sort of escape route, but there was none as the villagers formed a ring around him and were quickly closing in. In a last ditch effort Naruto shouted "Leave me alone!" and ran to the closest man in the ring and kicked him in the shin as hard as he could.
"Ow! That hurt you little shit-stain. Get him quick!" And with that, the mob roared as one and rushed in for the kill.
At that moment everything seemed to stop for Naruto as he realized the gravity of what was going to happen. He smiled, 'Nobody else cares, why should I?' He smiled and opened his arms wide in acceptance. Maybe his next life would be better.
Never in a thousand years would Naruto even dream of receiving a response.
"You're wrong, Kid. I care."
Naruto's eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body dropped to the ground.
For Naruto, the change in scenery was sudden and disorienting. One moment he was about to let himself be killed by the civilians of the village, the next he was standing in front of some kind of huge cage. "W-what? I don't understand. Where am I?"
From the shadowy depths behind the bars of the cage, a single, inhuman, blood red eye thrice his size opened. The eye angled down at Naruto and a voice rumbled through the room, "Kid, we are within your subconscious. Currently those vengeful villagers are ravaging at your unattended body, so I'll have to make this short. My name is Kurama and I'd like to be your..." The voice hummed, "What's the word? Ah, it's friend. Kid, I'd like to be your friend." Naruto stared up at the eye, stunned. He dropped to his knees. Could it be true? Whatever it was behind these bars wanted to be his friend? "Huh? Why are you crying? Does the prospect of being friends with me really upset you that much?"
"No, that's not it Kurama.*sniff* You see, I've never had a friend before, and I'm just so happy."
Humans and their emotional reactions really boggled Kurama sometimes, he'd never admit that but it was the truth. With the acceptance of his friendship Kurama initiated his plan, "It's obvious that you won't be able to survive this on your own so my first action as your friend will be to help you out a bit. After all, that is what friends do, right? They help each other." And with that Naruto was whisked back into the physical world.
The civilians had been pounding away at Naruto's still body when they froze from the cold feeling that suddenly fell upon them all. Their instincts screamed that this kid was a predator, and they were the prey. They all watched in terror as Naruto rose from the pool of his own blood, the stab wounds and bruises visibly healing, as if washed away.
Ever so slowly, he turned his gaze toward everyone present, and they all got a good look at his inhuman blood red eyes. The crowd of civilians, the ANBU who were watching from the rooftops, and the passers by who chose to do nothing.
Naruto cocked his head, as if listening to something. He spoke softly, "They're, not worth it."
When Naruto walked, the sea of bodies parted before him, the villagers practically climbed over each other to get out of his way. Except for one man. One of the many blacksmiths of Konoha sneered and refused to move from the young boy's path, "What did you just say? We aren't worth the effort? Is that what you said?! Disrespectful little demon brats don't get to call the shots. Now, prepare for your punishment!" The blacksmith swung his large fist at the young boy's head.
For Naruto the world was moving in slow motion. He watched the large man's sweaty fist make it's way over to him. The blond raised his pinkie finger and stopped the punch with a touch. Then, with a flick of his wrist, he removed the obstacle. The surly blacksmith flew past the crowd and into the side of a building.
As he walked away, the villagers scrambled to take the blacksmith to the nearby hospital. Naruto overheard one of them say, "The demon brat has a dojutsu?"
'Dojutsu? What the heck is that?' As Naruto wondered what the previously murderous villagers had meant his nose picked up a delicious scent off of the slight breeze. After following his nose halfway across the village he found himself standing in front of some sort of food stand.
Naruto took the seat next to the black haired boy with the green vest who was already there and kept his head down. "What can I getcha, son?" Naruto was surprised at how the chef acted right off the bat.
Shaking his head, Naruto stood on his chair to get a look at what the man was cooking. "Um, what's that?" He pointed to the pan at which the heavenly scent was wafting from. The man chuckled and said, "That is a pan of miso ramen."
"Uh, I'll have some of that." Naruto then put down most of the money he had found among the discarded belongings that he often went through.
The man shook his head, smiling "Oh no, the first bowl is always free for new customers."
Naruto lifted up his head to gaze into the man's eyes, "Really?"When the man nodded Naruto smiled brightly "Oh thank you sir! Thank you thank you!"
The man nodded as he began preparing the food, "No problem, son. By the way, what's up with your eyes? I've never seen anything like that."
Naruto figured that since the man had been nice so far, but that didn't mean he'd tell the whole truth, "I'm not sure, but I heard someone say something about a dojutsu."
The other person at the ramen stand's hand made an almost invisible twitch as he paused while in the middle of lifting the noodles to his mouth. Without turning his head, he said, "They were after you." It wasn't a question.
Naruto's eyes widened, "W-w-what are you saying? I-I just heard it, uh, a-a-at the d-doctor!"
The older boy turned and gave Naruto a look, "Why were they after you?"
Naruto looked down, and whispered, "It's my birthday."
The girl who had been silent the entire time looked at Naruto questioningly "Today's your birthday?" Naruto nodded as he tucked into his very first bowl of the nectar of the gods. "Um, what's your name?"
He shifted the food to the side of his mouth and said, "Naru'o."
"Like one of these?" She held up one of the ramen toppings, it was a white disc with a red swirl.
Naruto gulped down more of the noodles and broth, then looked at it and his crimson eyes adopted a puzzled expression, "It's called a Naruto?" The girl nodded "Then I guess it is like that."
The four of them collectively chuckled at the similarity, "Well then, Naruto, happy birthday." Then she turned to the chef, "Hey dad, can Naruto have another free bowl? Ya'know, since it's his birthday and all?"
The girl's father nodded with a smile, "I don't see why not, Ayame."
The older boy then reached behind him into a pouch on his belt and handed Naruto a kunai, "Yes, happy birthday Naruto. From me to you."
"Thank you, thank you all!" Then suddenly a thought stuck Naruto, "I don't even know your names yet." The older boy and the old man glanced at each other and then looked back.
Ayame's dad placed a second bowl of ramen in front of the young blond, "My name is Teuchi, and this here is Itachi!" Naruto nodded as he dug into the meal, not knowing when he'd be able to eat fresh food again he downed that second bowl in ten seconds flat.
That was when Teuchi noticed how dark it'd gotten, "It's that time of night already, huh? Sorry boys, but Ayame and I need to close up shop now. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here." The two boys nodded and left in opposite directions.
As Naruto walked through the silent streets, he heard the low rumble of his first friend's voice, "I think that it is time for you to receive my birthday gift, Naruto."
The blond looked around him to try to see his friend, "Where are you hiding?" Naruto heard Kurama chuckle and he wondered where in the world his enormous friend could be hiding.
"I am inside your subconscious my friend, and to talk to me you need only use your thoughts. I think you'll find it useful to avoid making anyone think you're insane, as well as... Other things."
Naruto kept walking with nowhere in particular in mind, 'So you can hear my thoughts?'
"Each and every one of them." The young boy put his hands behind his head and smiled broadly 'That's. So. Awesome! So, what's you gonna give me?' The Kyuubi smiled inwardly at the boy's enthusiasm, "To receive my gift you must first find someplace solitary where no one will be able to interrupt or eavesdrop."
'Eavesdrop? What's that mean?'
"It means spy. Like a ninja."
'What?! But ninja are supposed to do awesome moves that blow things up! It's super cool!'
"Just hurry up and find someplace private."
'Alright, I know just the place!' Naruto sped off to the place that he was thinking of. It was a place that he'd never seen anyone go into or come out of, a huge forest surrounded by a large fence labeled with the number 44. 'How about this place?'
Kurama silently appraised the place, "Perfect…"