Friendly Neighborhood Nine-Tails
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Naruto.
The longest day of both of Naruto's lives finally came to an end as night fell. Jiraiya's falsified yet very convincing speech had assured all listening that Naruto was indeed NOT the originally Kyuubi and his bijuuification was a result of the Fourth Hokage's brilliant sealing jutsu overachieving due to unlikely outside influence; He had implied Orochimaru, which was true, Naruto supposed. Depending on how one viewed the curse marks, at least.
With that and Naruto's attitude being grumpy at worst, the villagers found themselves reluctantly calming down. It wasn't out of trust or total reassurance, but one could only be afraid of something for so long before growing tired of it. For now, they accepted Naruto's presence like people accepted finding out a mountain near them was an active volcano: fear of a local apocalypse buried in the back of their minds, while trying to pretend like it wasn't a problem.
Naruto himself slept far more soundly than he had any right to be able to. His ears, his nose, all of his senses should and almost did keep him awake. But the long, draining toll of the day had exhausted him on an emotional and mental level, allowing him to slumber deeply. There were no dreams or nightmares, only a comforting blankness as everything faded away for several blissful hours.
Waking up was an interesting experience. It was not the sun that stirred him from unconscious, but the sounds. A dull cacophony of noises built as people arose to go about their day. The longer time went on, the louder and more chaotic it became until he groaned himself awake. To his credit, he managed to keep himself from stretching his massive arms about as he took a great, deep yawn that exposed all of his teeth to the entire village while his tails flexed reflexively before relaxing down again with a plop. He pointedly ignored the momentary silence and the various people rushing to change their pants.
"Did they put you on full-time fox-duty, Kakashi-Sensei?" Naruto asked as he scratched his neck, glancing to the one-eyed Jonin sitting beneath a tree nearby.
"Oh, just for now. But I call it Fluffy-duty," Kakashi answered with an eye smile. "I see you slept well."
"Small miracles, I suppose. What about you, Gaara?" Naruto asked to the Sand ninja sitting cross legged on a cloud of sand.
"I rested well enough," Gaara answered calmly. "Naruto, are you alright?"
Naruto stared at the seemingly monotone, stoic Ichibi Jinchuriki and almost smiled at how obvious the concern was. He had changed a lot since the Chunin Exam. "Better than your bunk-mate, I imagine," Naruto answered casually, ignoring how Kakashi, Gaara, and several ANBU tensed up at the mention of the other Bijuu. "He keeping you up at night still?" Naruto asked with a head tilt.
Gaara didn't answered for a moment, feeling Shukaku stirring with interest and caution. "Yes, he does," he answered honestly.
Naruto shook his head with a sigh at that. "Look, I'm sorry about his brother, or whatever they were, but he really needs to give you some peace and quiet."
Kakashi frowned in worry at the conversation. 'Is he threatening the Ichibi?'
"He says he will...think about it," Gaara relayed slowly, feeling very awkward.
Naruto hummed absently. "I never got around to saying it earlier Gaara, but thanks for helping with the rescue mission. That goes for your brother and sister too. Yes, that means you, makeup-boy!" Naruto called out, smirking in the general direction of where the Sand Siblings were in the village, seeing them jump away from the windows. "First upside to being a Megaton Fox: It can be fun knowing where everyone is."
"Do you enjoy scaring people, Naruto?" Gaara asked curiously as he tilted his head.
"More like surprising them," Naruto answered, scratching his head sheepishly. "But seriously, thanks. If not for you guys, I would have lost some friends."
"While our recent history may cast doubt on it, our villages are allies," Gaara remarked calmly.
"So it's just a coincidence that you three, of all Sand Ninja, showed up?" Naruto countered with an amused, knowing smile.
"I never said that," Gaara retorted with a hint of movement at his lips.
"Is that a smile?" Naruto asked cheekily, enjoying the exchange despite the size difference.
"I have no idea what you are talking about, and you have no proof to the contrary," Gaara stated factually.
"Ha! Well, I'm just glad you patched up things with Bushy Brow. By the way, how'd he do in the fight? He only recently got himself fixed up by Granny Tsunade," Naruto questioned curiously, turning to the village in annoyance. "Lee, shut up! You and me are alike enough for me to know you wouldn't admit you weren't getting better even if you weren't!"
Gaara raised an eyebrow at the exchange but continued on without question. "He performed adequately under the circumstances. His power is not as great as during our battle, but more than enough to deal with lesser foes."
"I'm just going to take that all as good news on his part. Though, could you have imaged Lee opening a gate or two? That bone forest probably wouldn't be there," Naruto joked with a chuckle before blinking, looking to an observing Kakashi. "Sensei? Did you tell Granny about the Bone Forest? Cause she's wondering what the hell we're talking about."
"Hmm? I assumed Lee would, seeing as that was his battle?" Kakashi answered in confusion himself.
"Hey, Granny!? Did you ever call the others into report while I was asleep?" Naruto called out, his long ears quirked in question.
Kakashi sweat-dropped at the audible boom and far off cursing. "I'll take that as a no," the jonin mused to himself. "So, Naruto? Any issues? Because if you need to take a leak or anything, we'd appreciate you moving a few miles down wind," Kakashi advised with an eye smile.
"Haha, very funny, Sensei," Naruto retorted with an eye roll.
"I was completely serious," Kakashi stated flatly.
Naruto stiffened with an embarrassed expression. "Well, that hasn't come up yet. I'm also not...technically hungry," Naruto admitted reluctantly.
"How can someone be technically hungry?" Gaara asked with a creased brow.
"Look, I don't need food or anything, but I'll probably go insane without Bijuu-sized ramen eventually," Naruto answered with a grumble.
Gaara quirked his head as he stared at Naruto for a long, long time. "Naruto, is there a reason you can't just use a transformation jutsu?"
"A transformation jutsu?" Naruto repeated without comprehension. His mouth opened again before freezing in realization, the village growing extremely quiet as the fox continued to look thoughtful before moving to get up.
A great outcry of many ninjas, including Kakashi, all started calling out to Naruto to urge him to stop in his perceived actions.
"Everyone shut up!" Naruto yelled over them all, rubbing his giant ears. "Okay, look! I'm not that stupid! Now, I am going to go...a couple miles that way-" Naruto stated, jabbing a finger over his shoulder. "And see if this can't be solved by a damn academy jutsu. ANBU, and everyone else keeping an eye on me? I'm a Bijuu, I'll be within line of sight for a LONG ways away. So, in other words, stay as close to me as you think your hazard pay is worth," Naruto stated matter of factly.
Kakashi sighed deeply as he watched the golden kitsune turned about carefully, rumbling the village somewhat before he began to walk away. With a blank stare, he turned to Gaara who was watching as his giant friend departed. "Whatever happens next, I blame on you, kid," Kakashi stated in exasperation.
"Who are you again?" Gaara asked as he glanced down at the Leaf Jonin.
"Oh, no one special. Just the one who invented the Chidori," Kakashi answered with an eye smile before vanishing in a body flicker to chase after the blonde behemoth.
Tsunade wiped a hand over her face as she watched various ninja leap up the Hokage Monument to chase after the Bijuu. "Jiraiya, can he even use a jutsu like that?!" she questioned, turning her gaze to the toad sage.
"Why do you act like I'm some expert on tailed beasts?!" Jiraiya retorted, clearly frustrated for his own reasons. "I mean, summons can use Jutsus, and the Bijuu have various abilities that work like Jutsu, but both are highly specialized to each creature!"
"Meaning this could either work perfectly or-" Tsunade stopped as a very distant boom echoed into her office, followed by a dull rumble.
"Son of a Bitch!" Naruto's voice could be heard, far away but still very clear.
"End in disaster, as always," Tsunade said with a sigh as she returned to the window, seeing a column of smoke or steam rising from miles away.
"Well, at least he was smart enough to do this away from the village," Jiraiya pointed out, only to blink as another explosion erupted.
"Dammit!" Naruto yelled again, this time more frustrated than shocked. "Come on, you stupid jutsu!"
"And too stubborn to accept that it won't work," Tsunade said with a sigh.
"Fucking come on!"
Jiraiya's look became concerned as he heard Naruto's outburst. "Tsunade, I don't think that's stubbornness," he said solemnly.
Kakashi braced himself as Naruto went through the hand seals yet again, a blazing aura of golden chakra burning around his giant fox body. He was getting used to the feeling of it, but it was hard to shrug off such powerful waves of chakra. The glow grew brighter, blinding even. And just like the other times, the jutsu blew up in Naruto's face.
Naruto growled as he was knocked on his back once more. "Just let this work, dammit!" Naruto spat out as he forced himself back up and did it again, singe marks on the fur of his head, torso, and hands growing with every attempted.
"Naruto! Give it a rest! This isn't helping anything!" Kakashi called out urgently from a tree top.
"I know!" Naruto answered even as he proceeded to try the jutsu again.
"This is bad," Tenzo remarked, the ANBU making his appearance on a branch below Kakashi. "Should I try and-?"
"Try and what Tenzo!?" Naruto interrupted, turning to glare at the tiny masked man, frozen at the sight of so many teeth bared in a snarl. "Try and do WHAT?!"
"Naruto, that's enough!" Kakashi reprimanded sternly. "Tenzo-"
"I know what he is, Sensei!" Naruto continued as he focused in on the ANBU. "Or were you just too stupid to realize that when I heard Tsunade say your name, I got a pretty good idea of WHY you're halfway up my ass at all times!?"
"Naruto, I don't want to hurt you!" Tenzo declared tensely, hands in a seal already.
The whole world froze as Naruto slammed a mighty fist down to the side, the limb half way embedded in the ground, sending earth and trees flying as Kakashi and Tenzo clutched to their tree while a typhoon of wind blasted by them. When they looked up, they saw Naruto's enormous face, covered partially in black from the backfired jutsus. "Don't you get it!? You can't hurt me!" Naruto declared as he glared down at the humans. "I'm already..."
"Naruto," Kakashi called softly, Tenzo slowly putting his hands down as he saw the exact same thing Kakashi did.
Naruto was crying.
"I'm already dead,"Naruto finished choking back a sob as he broke his glare. "I died back in that valley. I'm never going to sleep in my bed, eat with my friends, or train with my team. I'm never going to be ME again. So forgive me if I wanted to try a few more times before giving up the one good shot I had of getting that back!"
And just like that, Naruto turned and walked away from them in a sulk. They watched as he went. It wasn't far before he suddenly stopped and sat down, his head hunched over with his ears drooped.
"Was that...my fault?" Tenzo asked cautiously.
"No, Tenzo. That was inevitable," Kakashi assured with a heavy sigh. "I thought it would take longer to sink in, but Naruto was bound to have a bad reaction eventually."
"I know I'm only suppose to act if he becomes a threat to the village, but I was honestly worried he was becoming a threat to himself," Tenzo stated in concern.
"Naruto's only suicidal in the "doesn't-quit" variety," Kakashi said, more to himself than anyone else, as he watched Naruto's form with a sorrowful eye.
He winced as he heard something. Something he never heard.
Try as the giant fox might, Naruto couldn't suppress his sobs.
Naruto's soft cries couldn't be heard by most of the village and those that did were only able because of how quiet the village had became. But all had heard the sorrowful, grieving outburst, prompting a heavy silence filled much of Konoha as words of his cries spread.
"Naruto's...crying?" Ino said with an awkward yet sympathetic look on her face as she looked out of the hospital window.
"What'd you expect?" Shikamaru asked with a sigh.
"Yeah, I mean, I'd be crying too if I got stuck in my clan's full expansion jutsu," Choji said, almost grumbling due to the bandages all over his body.
"You're just saying that because you'd starve," Ino retorted with an eye roll.
"Yes?" Choji answered, feeling that was obvious.
"Even forgetting that he's a Nine-Tailed Fox, and thus the subject of many fears caused by the...previous fox? Whatever we're calling it now. He's stuck in a body that's just too big to live with humans, and everything he's ever wanted to achieve is more or less impossible, even for Naruto," Shikamaru elaborated with a deep sigh. "And all because his best friend put a lightning fist through his stomach."
"I thought it was a lightning blade?" Choji asked, tilting his head and wincing at some of his wounds.
"I thought it was a thousand chirping birds?" Ino added in idly.
"What a drag," Shikamaru muttered. "Point being, he was already hyper enough. Add in emotional problems and no way to work off by training or anything like that?" Shikamaru pointed out, quirking a hollow smile. "How ironic. Naruto might be one of the most powerful beings in the world now, and he can't even enjoy it. How messed up is that?"
Team Asuma turned in surprise to see Kiba of all people leaning on the doorway. "Sorry. Came for a check up and overheard you guys talking," he greeted with a halfhearted grin.
"Kiba. Glad to see you're doing well. How's Akamaru?" Shikamaru asked.
"Pretty well. Milking my sister's affections all he can. I'm just sorry we missed the ride home," Kiba said with a chuckle, glancing over at Choji's much skinnier form. "Wow. Mom always warned me about calling you tubby, but never told me why," Kiba remarked.
"Yeah, well, Dad never had to explain to me why not to call you dog breath," Choji returned with a chuckle.
"Oh, like you ever had the guts to," Kiba countered with a friendly snort before sighing. "So, yeah, I'll stop ignoring the fox in the room. What do we do about Naruto? Cause I got to tell you man, I should be happy he's crying after that fart to the face trick he pulled on me. But hearing that idiot like this is a bit...too much," Kiba remarked with a wince.
"What can we do? He's a megaton fox, as he puts it," Shikamaru said with a raised eyebrow. "What could we possibly do to cheer him up when he'd need a lake of ramen to even remotely have enough to taste?"
"I don't know! You're the genius Chunin, I was hoping you'd know!" Kiba retorted.
"There isn't enough food or water for him, he can't do more than talk to anybody, and he has to keep an eye on where he walks if he does more than stand up," Shikamaru remarked. "Frankly, I never thought about it, but I'm not sure what the Bijuu even did before they were sealed. They don't need to eat and as far as I know, were almost never in the same area as each other. So I'm a bit at a lose for fun ideas to entertain giant masses of chakra."
"...Kiba, does your family have a dog-summoning contract or anything?" Ino asked randomly.
"Umm, no, why?" Kiba answered in confusion.
"Well, summon creatures can be gigantic too, so I thought Naruto could appreciate some company," Ino answered with a shrug.
"Why dogs though? We already know the Sannin have toads and slugs like that," Kiba reminded in confusion.
"Well, I'm assuming IT would work better for Naruto if it was a more similar build," Ino answered simply.
"What are you ev-oh, what the hell?!" Kiba exclaimed as his face went red in embarrassment.
"Ohohho, that kind of company! Ohh, it hurts to laugh, but I don't care!" Choji stated over pained laughs.
"Really, Ino? Really?" Shikamaru asked in exasperation.
"What?! We know that that part of him still works after yesterday with Sakura! And as perverted as it sounds, Naruto at least deserves to get laid after everything that happened, seeing as there isn't much else he can enjoy at the moment," Ino defended with her hands on her hips.
"Why Do You Put These Images In My Mind!?" Kiba exclaimed, rubbing his eyes furiously. "I can see it when I close my eyes!"
"Oh please. I know your clan isn't into bestiality, but don't pretend like you haven't seen the dogs humping each other before," Ino countered with an eye roll.
"Great. Now we just got to find a summoning scroll for giant foxes or something, and the whole village suffers from the largest and weirdest version of having loud, horny neighbors," Shikamaru pointed out dryly.
"It's not like he's on a leash, Shikamaru. He can just take it down south to a beach or something," Ino waved off.
"Guys, for the love of god, stop talking!" Kiba instructed with a humiliated look on his face.
"What's up with you?" Shikamaru asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Open the window," Kiba instructed with a groan.
Ino blinked, but did as requested. She nearly jumped back as she realized now that Naruto's sobs had, at some point, turned to laughter. "Is he...?"
"Laughing at us, yes, he heard everything," Kiba informed in resignation.
"Damn, just how far can he hear from!?" Ino asked in amazement.
"How can he even make us out over everyone else in the village?" Choji asked in confusion.
"Who knows, he's a living mass of chakra," Shikamaru said with a shrug before looking very resigned. "Who is never going to let us live this down."
Tenzo sweat-dropped at the sight of a golden Kyuubi rolling around in laughter and slapping its fists against the ground. The laugh was nearly deafening this close and a large patch of forest was being flattened into a future plain, with a few large crevices.
"Kakashi, should we be worried?" Tenzo asked uncertainly.
"Hm? Why? The Landscaping Department will have it cleaned up and chakra-trees replanted within a week," Kakashi pointed out casually.
A relatively unknown fact about ninja villages is that they all had a landscaping department. Given how destructive ninjas could be some times, it was deemed important enough to have teams to fix the landscapes of their home countries, restoring the terrain when able.
"No, I mean about Naruto, suddenly bursting in laughter?" Tenzo pointed out.
"Oh, that. No, I wouldn't worry. I'm sure he just heard a funny joke being told back in the village," Kakashi answered with an eye smile, inwardly relieved by Naruto's change in demeanor.
"Thanks, Ino! I needed that!" Naruto yelled loudly, his voice echoing back into the village before returning to laughing.
"So...should we be concerned he knows about my wood style?" Tenzo asked curiously.
"Not really. He's avoided actually saying you have it, so it's not like he told everyone about it," Kakashi pointed out. "Though, I'm wondering how Ino got involved in anything."
"It's more like she wants to get me involved with something, Sensei," Naruto answered with a grin as his laughter slowly faded into a few chuckles.
His gigantic size made them sound far more ominous than his expression would indicate.
"I am almost afraid to ask," Kakashi stated with a sweatdrop. "So, Naruto? Want to talk about anything?"
"No. I'm out of my funk and I'm not going back into it until I have to," Naruto answered bluntly.
"Fair enough, I suppose," Kakashi accepted with a shrug. "So, Naruto? Can we get back to the village? Fluffy-duty is about over for me."
"After I just made one hell of a fool out of myself with that breakdown?" Naruto took a deep breath to calm himself. "Yeah, yeah. Got to face the music sooner or later, might as well be sooner."
End of Chapter
There we go. After many, many questioning it, I have had Naruto try the transformation jutsu. I was going to do that later with the same result, but I figured I might as well as address it now. In retrospect, I'm glad I did as it gave me a good lead in to Naruto having a breakdown over his current state of things.
And I threw in some comedy to lighten the mood.
In more personal news, I'm doing pretty well. Settling in with my family, helping out around the place, enjoying my nephews- and found out I'm going to have a pair of nieces too! So, you know, the usual family stuff. Only worrying news at the moment is my mom thinks she might have caught the C-virus thanks to some idoits at her workplace. She seems mostly fine, but has more or less quartined herself in the mean time and the rest of us being as cautious as we can.
Hope you all stay safe out there. World's a crazy place right now.
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PS Also, if anyone is confused by the updates, I removed the non-chapter updates mentioning my grandmother's passing. I kept a copy of all the reviews, just in case they somehow end up deleted. Thank you all again for al lthe support and well wishes.