A/N: First time writing a Naruto fanfic! But I just had to get this out of my mind because I love Kurama so much and haven't seen many stories focusing in his and Naruto's friendship (and his own developtment, too), so I decided to give it a try. This story doesn't have a consistent plot, it'll be just whatever situations I want to put them in it -mostly fluff-, but if you've an idea of some kind of interaction, well, I'm all ears.
PS. If you know a good fic with male(or agender)!Kurama in it, please tell me its title or author.
Disclaimer: I don't own nothing but reviews are much appreciated.
The first time it happened was in one of the towns Ero-sennin and him were visiting. A small town that, unlike Konoha, only had a few trees scattered around in its drier superficie. With a low population and a larger number of tourists because, even if it was small considering all the other towns they had been already in almost one year of travel, it was still large enough to have a few places of the 'entertainment' Ero-sennin liked to be in.
In his opinion, he liked to go into those places a bit too much and, because of his age, Naruto couldn't follow him. He called it work, but that only made Naruto angrier. He was supposed to be training him, damn it! He shouldn't go chasing for skirts and dump him whenever he could!
Not that he didn't train him, Naruto thought grumblingly and with a faint find smile. He was able to admit that he improved. Jiraya took his time to fill the holes he had from his academy years and teach him a taijutsu style more situated to him. His basics were now too notch and he was proud of himself.
And happy. No one had ever taught him like Jiraya did. Bickering and laughing. With proud smiles and pats on his head whenever he did something good. Jiraya took advantage of his naivety and made fun of him, yes, but it wasn't because he was cruel; that's how they both joked.
Sometimes Naruto marveled at the easygoing relationship he had with someone, without the constant need to prove himself, to act stronger and always smile. He could relax and let go of that invisible weight on his shoulders he hadn't noticed he carried until Jiraya sat in front of him and listed a bunch of topics from the academy and asked him what he didn't know, explaining patiently and with a smile their importance, his attention for the first time just focused to him and only him. There were jokes and some weird impromptu kabuki dance but, by the end of the day, Jiraya ruffled his hair and told him 'You did well for a first day, kid' in a teasing tone with a clear fondness he had only seen few times directed at him.
Sometimes he wanted to hug Jiraya and never let go. Some few times, he did. And Jiraya hugged back as tightly even as he grumbled about how he was scaring the ladies away.
He loved Ero-sennin, he really did.
Normally he wouldn't complain about the weird training routines he made him follow, but lately his internal clock was getting a bit too thwarted for his tastes because of their supposed training.
It exactly started an hour after Jiraiya had left to those 'places', not even waiting for ten minutes after they finished dinner, leaving Naruto with a list of exercises he had to do, not stopping even by the time he returned, with the sky still dark and him finally growing tired enough to sweat.
He then helped him into his bed before easting whatever thing Ero-sennin had brought him for breakfast. Then he continued training his muscles by doing all types of exercises, practicing his katas, all while using his own chakra to relax the tensed muscles and increase his strength. By the time Jiraya woke up, Naruto's chakra was almost drained, one step away for unconsciousness to take over.
It was easier to mold the Kyuubi's chakra that way, he said. Because it was that what Ero-sennin had told him he now was going to help him with: his control with his biju's chakra.
Obviously with so little of his own chakra to filter the red poisonous one, after a couple of hours with him trying, and failing, to turn said chakra into something beneficial without losing control of his mind, Naruto passed out.
He didn't know what Ero-sennin did while he was asleep but by the time he woke up, Naruto was starved.
Having only eaten something rather pitiful for lunch, as always, dinner was the best to recover energies.
And then the routine started again.
So, really, it was Ero-sennin's fault—and his alone—that he was now looking into the eyes of a smaller version of the Kyuubi outside his mind-scape.
Well, even if his days had turned into a horrible routine while they were settled into towns, some days Ero-sennin didn't come to their rented room and, when he did, he would only tell him that he 'scored' before going to sleep. What he had scored, Naruto didn't know. Or wanted to know. Ero-sennin's smile told him it must be something perverted.
Still. Those days were the worst because he was weak, one movement away from passing out and pissed as hell because his teacher didn't show up. He had trained but Ero-sennin didn't return.
So that particular day Naruto said 'fuck it'. He never was one to meditate even when Ero-sennin said it was important, but he still went into the position Ero-sennin had told him was the best and just let his chakra reserves refill themselves while his sore muscles relaxed. It was unsurprising he grew bored after five minutes of being in the same position.
He wanted to keep training and obtain some progress, not be sitting around, damnit!
As one more moment passed, Naruto looked down at his hands as he tried to think how much of a bad idea would be to train by himself and take advantage of his almost empty chakra coils. It had passed almost two months from the time when he grew that four tail and injured Ero-sennin. And even though he still shivered whenever he thought of his battered sensei laying on the ground, coughing blood with every breath he took, Naruto had to admit he had improved greatly since then.
Not so much, but he could mold a little bit of the Kyuubi's chakra without needing those seals Jiraya always had close. If he just tried to do some safe training nothing would happen, right?
With a mental shrug, Naruto took his sweaty shirt away and did it. Starting with borrowing some of that foul chakra that always made Naruto's insides to feel as if hot lava was being poured directly into his veins, Naruto tried to get used to it; thing he considered safe training. It was agonizingly slow but he could feel himself growing more comfortable as it traveled through his body. As it was more potent than his blue chakra, Naruto could almost see it visible outside his body. Even with as little quantity of chakra he was working on, the red outline surrounding him was still there
It was also more dangerous.
Naruto didn't remember his thought from that moment but he was sure they were along of 'maybe if I learn how to do that water-dragon jutsu Kakashi-sensei had used while fighting Zabuza, I can pour some of Kyuubi's chakra to make it bigger and stronger. Probably it'll end looking like a fox instead of a dragon though'.
Having molded enough chakra for one small jutsu, Naruto wanted to test his little theory. It was easier to let the chakra out as he had learned so maybe it didn't matter if he didn't know the seals; perhaps he could do it with chakra and not water. Just enough to form the shape. The kyuubi's chakra would leave his system and no harm will come since he wouldn't have it anymore and there weren't any civilians near for the chakra to be of harm.
Then the second problem came with shaping it without turning it into one of his clones. He had never shaped chakra so perhaps he should mix his clone jutsu with a henge of a dragon, though the idea of clones based on the Kyuubi's chakra sounded interesting.
It should suffice to say that it didn't turn out so well. That, if the big fox much-smaller-than-the real-deal-but-still-just-a-little-smaller-than-Naruto was something to talk about.
So, yeah. Jiraiya's fault. He should have known better than leave a bored Naruto alone for too many hours.
The previously mentioned smaller version of the Kyuubi finally tore his eyes away from his own to look at his surroundings. The movement enough to snap Naruto from whatever trance he was in before and answer correctly to the situation.
"Hey! You aren't supposed to be here!" he shouted, one finger pointed accusingly at the bijuu in front of him.
"Shall I remind you, brat, that you were the one doing this?"
That made his pointing to fail slightly for one second, before it turned again with force. "That's not the point! Return to my stomach!"
The kyuubi didn't answer back, he merely turned away from him and started to jump into the trees, away from him and towards the town.
Naruto felt dread forming in the back of his throat as his mouth went dry. He followed the bijuu without giving it a second thought, finally noticing something that was weird. In addition of being smaller, the kyuubi had also a great difference from the giant fox he had encountered inside his mind: He only had one tail.
However, that small thing wasn't enough to catch his whole attention. Not as the sense of drowsiness the chakra exhaustion that was starting to kink in had on him.
He still yelled though, because Naruto wasn't one to hide.
"You're not going to the town, damnit, I told you to return to my stomach, not to run away!"
That stopped the demon in his tracks.
"What did you say, brat?" he snarled, killing intent pouring out of him in waves.
Naruto stumbled in his step. He was used to the demon's chakra and intent, but that didn't stop the instinct born from years of evolution in his human brain telling him to run. He was not the predator but the prey. However, Naruto was good at ignoring things threatening his life so he merely shook his head once.
"I'd watch your language. I'm out. I can rip you to shreds easily enough."
Naruto looked down at his bare stomach, seal at display for everyone to see. "You won't. I can still feel that we're connected even if you're out. You kill me, you die."
The kyuubi smiled in a predatory way, making the fine hairs of his neck rise. "I'm immortal. A being made of chakra. I'll reform and by then, your body will be nothing but dust in the wind."
Naruto clenched his teeth. Ero-sennin had told him something like that. He didn't remember the exact words but knew that if he died, the Kyuubi will reform in a couple of decades perhaps a century. But if the one tail sealed in Gaara hadn't tried to kill him while he had a good grasp of his mind, then it meant being reformed wasn't a pleased feeling.
He could also felt a thread made of something joining him to the bijuu, giving a faint grasp of his emotions. The hatred and fury inside him were strong but it didn't feel like a threat.
The kyuubi wasn't going to kill him.
"You won't," he replied more calmly. He received narrowed eyes as an answer but the Kyuubi has lived inside of his stomach long enough to know he won't let himself be intimidated.
The Kyuubi scoffed and, after that, he continued running with Naruto following close by. His chakra reserves filled enough for him to keep jumping from tree to tree without stumbling while he familiarized better with the Kyuubi's chakra in a way he'd never do before. It helped him understand somewhat. He didn't know if the demon fox noticed -or cared for that matter-, but eventually hours passed by the time he poofed himself out, disappearing.
When he returned to the hotel he found a pissed Ero-sennin, wondering where he had been. Naruto yelled back with righteous anger but didn't mention the kyuubi incident. He didn't want to give Ero-sennin more fuel to win.
He'd eventually, but not now.
Since that incident, his routine changed a bit. Instead of continuing with his training after making sure Ero-sennin was asleep, he'd summon the Kyuubi again to get a better grasp of his chakra. After all, this whole training trip was for him to learn how to not let the Kyuubi control him. It seemed like a plausible idea. If Naruto didn't talk, the kyuubi seemed fine with just ignoring him, not doing anything but run around the forest with Naruto following behind, trying to understand the thread that joined them.
But he was Naruto Uzumaki. He couldn't stay still (or quiet) even if his life depended on it. And the only interaction he had besides some people he talked in the market was with the kyuubi.
"Hey, you! Stop for a moment!"
The kyuubi didn't listen, simply continued the same pace.
"Argh, stop ignoring me!" he growled and with that, he jumped high, making sure he was going to fall on the Kyuubi's back. His flight instinct be damned. That was the only idea it occured him.
Of course, Kyuubi didn't fall for that trick.
One moment he was a couple inches away from his hands to touch the orange; the next, he found himself pinned by the fox. A snarl clear on his lips as a growl escaped from his throat, hot breath fanning over his neck.
"You will stop this nonsense, human."
Perhaps he should be more terrified, but Naruto was too tired for it.
"Finally, you bastard. I've been running behind you for almost an hour! I've to be with little chakra to be able to summon you and now I'm tired, you know!" He then grinned, not caring about the long fangs displayed before him. "There's a clearing near. Let's rest for a while, okay?"
The Kyuubi scowled. "Just because you can free me momentarily, doesn't mean I've to listen to you."
"Stop being a jackass!" Naruto huffed. "You must be tired, too, huh? Let's go there for a while."
The kyuubi let out another snarl more before backing away. He didn't move towards the clearing, choosing to lay under a tree with his head resting on his paws, instead, his tail curling around his body and his eyes never leaving him.
"It's not like I've anything better to do."
Sighing, Naruto sat up where he was and cleaned the dirt on his clothes. He pulled from the small bag he had some ration bars and water bottle. It was the first time he was really tired and all because he was used as a bait by Ero-sennin and he had to run for miles in an attempt to lose the husbands running towards him. He didn't know what Ero-sennin had done to get them so angry.
"Hey, do you want some water? Or are you hungry? I haven't see you eat since I met you… do you even eat?" he asked when he noticed the Kyuubi was still looking at him. He didn't receive any answer so Naruto approached slowly, pulling another ration bar with him.
He tilted his head. "Or maybe you also eat the food I eat? Oh! If that's it then you've tried ramen, too! Maybe you're the one that makes my stomach grumble when I'm near a ramen stand! You must love ramen, then!"
"Shut up, brat," he grumbled closing his red eyes. "I'm a separated entity from you."
Naruto tilted his head. "So you don't like ramen? Maybe that's why you're grumpy all the time."
The Kyuubi opened his eyes and glared at him. "I'm not."
Naruto grinned. "You totally are."
There was a silence where the Kyuubi didn't deign himself to answer before Naruto moved even closer. "Maybe that's why you always run- to blow all the grumpiness inside you." He held the bottle high, right in front of the Kyuubi. "But really, water helps."
The Kyuubi snarled moving forward to grab Naruto's hand. The only causality being the bottle on the groung. If he hadn't lost his limb, it was all thanks to his speed and insanely luck. It was still a close call though. "I'm the Kyuubi no Yoko, the Nine Tailed Beast, the Demon Fox and the strongest of all Biju. You've heard other humans talk about how I've decimated cities and destroyed up mountains with the power of my tails, right? All of their words were right, brat. I'm Hatred. You should treat me with respect and fear."
"Yeah, sure. I heard that, but I've also heard that you were an emotionless demon that only wants destruction." Naruto grabbed the bottle from the grass and signaled it to the Kyuubi again. "And it's true that you might be an egomaniacal bastard, but I don't think someone that just bears hatred would run the way you do. Or be able to look that hopeful like when I saw you for the first time." He grinned. "Besides, respect being born from fear isn't respect. I can promise you that, but maybe we can arrange something else?"
The kyuubi looked at the bottle between the jinchuriki's fingers and then at the smile on his face. A moment later, he was turning his face away, huffing. "Why would I want to make deals with a small human that can't even control a drop of my power? You're just a brat."
"Hey, I'm not small! I've grown already and will grow even more, believe it!"
"I'll believe it when I see it, brat."
"See! You're grumpy! G-R-U-M-P-Y. I need to get you some ramen. If Ramen can't cure you…" he sighed dramatically, arms finally stopping flailing around, "Then you'll be a lost cause."
The Nine-Tails let out a small breath out as he placed his head on his paws again. "I'm a being made of chakra. I don't need food, nor water."
"But it's Ramen,aul the foods of the Gods! How are we going to save you without it!"
Naruto kept talking about the wonders of his favorite food as he felt his chakra deserves refilling. He didn't care if he was being more obnoxious than usual, the Kyuubi was scowling but his lips were twitching and that was a victory for him.
They were moving to another town—close to Ishigakure, or so Jiraya said— when Naruto finally revealed what he could do now. It wasn't planned; it just came out when Ero-sennin told him that their routine would change. His research hours will shorten so he could have time to work down on the draft his many hours of hard-worked research had been invested in. In the meantime, Naruto was going to learn fuinjutsu and proper meditation while also helping with the betaing of his new work: Make-Out Tactics.
Naruto was someone who learnt more easily through experience; to say he wasn't amused about the change, would be an understatement.
That was when a thought appeared in his mind and, unsurprisingly enough, his brain didn't think wise to filter it as he asked, "Then when I'll go running with the Nine-Tails?"
Ero-sennin stopped moving so suddenly Naruto almost ran through him. Luckily, he stopped just an inch away from doing it.
Well done, brat, the Kyuubi said, his voice reaching him from somewhere he couldn't pinpoint.
Naruto forgot Ero-sennin was a step away, he immediately turned around to locate the source.
A hand fell on his shoulder and Naruto looked up to see an unusual serious expression on Ero-sennin.
"What do you mean with that, Naruto?"
The hand tightened slightly once. If it was to reassure him or to stop him from spacing out, Naruto didn't know. But he was bad at lying and even with all the flaws the old man possessed, Naruto did trust him in a way he had only trusted a few. Jiraiya was family.
So Naruto started explaining him.
It wasn't until a few minutes had passed after he told his story that Jiraiya asked him if he could summon the Kyuubi. Naruto scratched the back of his head as he thought in the question. The night had already started to fall, the small bonfire they had done was enough to bright the small clearing they were in. The fish that were almost ready to be eaten also looked good.
It was a good atmosphere to enjoy company. It only needed ramen to make it perfect. Though knowing who were going to meet… Well, it would be sad to get it ruined.
Naruto sighed. It had been just a couple weeks ago since he had learnt how to pull some of the Kyuubi's chakra without him being a step away from chakra exhaustion. It was a smaller amount than the one he was able without his natural reserves of chakra, but still enough. The fact that the Kyuubi turned a couple inches shorter than before was being completely ignored.
"I must warn you though, Ero-sennin," Naruto started, scowling at his sensei across the bonfire, "The Nine-Tails is cranky."
With that said, he summoned the Kyuubi.
It was awkward, to be honest. The Kyuubi barely spared a glance at Ero-sennin before his killing intent surfaced. It was still frightening but Naruto had gotten used to it so he could shrug it off. And how the chakra hadn't affected him negatively, it was up to him to stand between them.
"Geez, Kyuubi, tone it down, would you? You don't harm any of my precious people, 'ttebayo!"
The Kyuubi snarled once more as he took a step forward.
Before Naruto could answer back, a flash of something white passed next to him at a great speed. He blinked and saw Jiraiya pulling back; the seal he usually used to calm Naruto when they were training was now on the Kyuubi's forehead.
"Stand back, Naruto," Ero-sennin said when the Kyuubi's shoulders hunched slightly and his eyes narrowed in pain. "We don't know what this could mean, but-The Hell are you doing, gaki?!"
The seal he had torn off from the Kyuubi's head was now burning in the fire.
"I won't let you hurt Nine-Tails, Ero-sennin."
"Didn't you feel his killing intent, kid? You should understand the implications of that!"
"I don't care about implications or stuff like that! I've decided I'd befriend the Nine-Tail and I won't back off on my words, that's my nindo! So you don't get to harm him either."
Jiraiya looked troubled. Between wanting to put the kid behind his back to where the red eyes of the demon fox wouldn't approach him and have faith in the determination in Naruto's eyes.
He let his body relax, hands falling to the sides. He'd trust the boy.
"If you say so, then I'd trust you, kid."
"Humans and their sentimentalism don't cease to bore me." the Kyuubi said, his voice much deeper from what seemed Jiraya was expecting.
"Oi, you shut up!" Naruto twirled around to glare at his tenant. "It's your fault that Ero-sennin's senil age is showing, you bastard! Why you had to go all bad guy on him, huh?!"
"You're too loud."
With those words, Kyuubi lay on the floor, head resting on his front paws, far away from Jiraiya's spot but not so far from Naruto's.
"Hey, are you ignoring me? Don't ignore me, damnit!"
Jiraiya chuckled. "Well, it seems this will be a good motivator to help you meditate, kid."
Naruto tilted his head from where he sat in confusion.
"What do you mean, Ero-sennin?"
"I'll teach you to go to your mindscape."