Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. It is the property of Masashi Kishimoto and I am in no way gaining a profit from this story.
The cage was always too small. The seals on its bars burned. Kurama curled up as tight as he could, away from those seals.
Within the darkness, that permeated his cage.
All he could do was hate.
Hate the man who managed to control him.
Hate the other who took it upon himself to deem Kurama too 'dangerous', as if he was an animal to be tamed.
'Regrettably, I cannot let you run loose.'
Hate the woman who never questioned, never bothered to think of him as a living, thinking individual. He hated the fact that he had broken down in front of her. Hated how she never batted an eyelash.
'Please stay quiet inside me.'
Hate the child who took after her predecessor. Her chains burned just as much as the bars and she never hesitated to use them against him…
'…but I'm here to watch you.'
Hate himself for getting into that situation, for not keeping his siblings together; safe.
He hated his cold, damp cage. He hated the silence. He hated the fact that he could hear bits and pieces of his captor's lives.
He hated their happiness.
That was all he could do in the small, dark cage with bars that burned and silence that stretched. He had tried, in the beginning, to dive into his memories. Tried to think about the happier times, but it grew too painful. It reminded him of what he had lost. What he might never have again.
The warmth of the sun.
The gentle touch of the moon.
The breeze that carried a variety of scents.
Even the humans and their odd ways that had always fascinated him.
So, he hated.
That was much easier….
And less painful.
He knew he must have looked like a very strange child to the people around him, but he didn't know how a human child was supposed to act. He spent most of his infancy and early childhood quietly marveling at being out of his seal.
Kurama couldn't get over the ability to breathe fresh, real, air once more.
He would lay there, as an infant, for long periods of time simply breathing, reveling in the feeling of a small breeze on his skin and air in his lung.
No, he left the crying and screaming to his brother.
He shifted on the stool, reaching up with his tiny human hands to poke his own pale cheek. They didn't have the whisker marks that his brother had, but his hair was a deep burnt orange. Like his fur had been and definitely not a trait given to him by either of his…parents.
Kurama did, however, have his…mother's dark blue almost purple eyes. Though the pupils were more like his original eyes and there were occasionally flecks of red, especially when he was angry. His chakra was also the same reddish-orange.
He would have to be careful with how acted now that they were starting the Academy. The village, of course, was under the impression that at least one of the Uzumaki twins was the Kyuubi in disguise. Which one, varied from person to person, day to day. The Hokage, however, didn't seem to be worried about the possibility, so he wanted to make sure that thought remained a silly notion taken up by the naive civilians.
Kurama could pass off his physical traits and even his chakra as a side effect of holding half of the 'Kyuubi's' sealed chakra inside him. Naruto definitely had his own quirks that Kurama knew were a result of the other half of his chakra, sealed though it may be within the boy.
However, he would have to watch his actions and words.
Shinobi were an irritatingly observant bunch and most of them were already on high alert around his brother and him. He need not give them anything more to watch. Hopefully, he could pass as some sort of prodigy. That would give him another option to blame any other oddities or even his own knowledge and skills. Konoha was known for them and he had heard that his…father had been considered one. Even if the man did, somehow manage to mess up the seal enough during his wife's pregnancy to force the creation of another child with Kurama's consciousness…
He sighed again and ran his hand through his messy hair trying to push his irritation to the side for the moment.
Speaking of messy hair…
Kurama eyed his orange mane tiredly.
His hair seemed to be stubbornly untamable even after he had grown it passed his shoulders. Naruto always laughed at his attempts to flatten the skyward locks while he scowled in annoyance. Someday, it would be long enough for a neat braid and that would be the end of it, but today he put it up in the neatest bun he could manage and left it be.
Naruto would be banging on the door any minute, wanting to leave early for the Academy.
The child was insanely excited for their first day and would not shut-up about it. He jumped off the stool and exited the bathroom. He found Naruto trying on different outfits and striking ridiculous poses in front of their full-length mirror. He rolled his eyes at the other boy.
"Naruto, you are not going to wear bright red with that ridiculous orange jacket."
"Awe, but it matches your hair Natsuki!" The blond boy laughed, but obediently unwrapped the scarf from his neck.
His eye twitched in irritation, but he was already used to his twin's strange obsession with the color orange despite Kurama's numerous attempts to stamp it out of him. His hair (and fur) were one thing. They were darker that the blinding shade Naruto seemed to love. After fussing over his, technically, older brother he managed to get the other boy into a simple white shirt with the Uzumaki symbol on it and blue shorts. He, himself was wearing a dark gray long sleeve shirt and a pair of long white shorts.
He preferred more traditional clothing, but he knew that would be strange for a child and let it go.
Outside their room they found the Hokage sitting on the couch sipping some tea. Kurama glanced at their shabby table and found breakfast already made, but the woman who usually cooked for them absent.
They had been given this apartment a year ago, on their fifth birthday, when it became clear that the orphanage was a toxic place for them to live. It wasn't very large and all of their furniture was old and worn, but both of them loved it. They were expected to pick up their things, but there was a woman who did the deep cleaning and cooked their meals. She wasn't very nice and spit insults at them whenever they crossed paths, but she did her job well so Kurama never went to the Hokage about it.
Kurama wondered if the old man noticed her attitude and sent her away, but decided it wasn't all that important. He was six now and was fully capable of cooking as long as he had instructions and ingredients.
He'd mention it to the old man later.
For now, he simply greeted him with a smile and bow and started his breakfast.
He had grown slightly fond of the old Shinobi over the years. Despite being too busy to be a constant presence in their life, he did try to reach out to them and always listened to Kurama's complaints about the villagers. He even almost made a store clerk pee his pants when Kurama told him he was refusing to allow the twins to buy new clothes when their old ones had started to become worn. No other business had refused to serve them from that point forward, though Kurama still kept an eye out for tampered food whenever they went out to eat, just in case.
He smiled at his brother as the boy gobbled down his food while continuing to ramble between bits. He wasn't sure how his twin hadn't managed to choke as of yet.
"….I'm going to be Hokage!..."
Kurama rolled his eyes. Despite liking the old man he knew that being the leader of a Shinobi village left him far from being a saint. He had been dropping subtle hints since they three about becoming Shinobi. Even the apartment they were in had a magnificent view of the Hokage Rock, which could not be coincidental.
Kurama didn't blame him. There was no point, after all, to have a couple of 'jinchuuriki' if they weren't going to be trained as weapons. However, the old man wanted it to be their 'choice' so he hinted and pushed for it, but never outright ordered them. Naruto fell for it and Kurama saw no reason to try and refuse. It would only draw attention to himself and leave Naruto vulnerable.
"What is your dream Natsuki?" The old man's voice cut through his thoughts and Kurama blinked slowly.
He tilted his head as his brother fell silent and looked at him expectantly. He didn't think of the future very often. It depressed him, most of the time, to think about how much time it would take to get stronger. Glancing at his brother, he sent a mischievous smirk at the Hokage.
"I suppose I should become an Anbu guard if only to protect my doofus twin brother when he becomes the Hokage."
Naruto spit out his food spluttering in indignation as the Hokage chuckled.
"You got it mixed up, Natsu! I'm the big brother! I'm supposed to protect you!"
Kurama merely raised an eyebrow at him. He had made it very clear that a whole two minutes was not very impressive in the long run. The Hokage cut in, preventing another one-sided argument.
"Well, it looks like we should get going, you two. It is your fist day at the Shinobi Academy, after all."
Naruto's sour mood changed to ecstatic within a moment at the reminder. Kurama shook his head as the boy jump out of his seat and ran to the door. He put their plates away before following at a slower pace. The walk to the Academy wasn't very long and with the two of them holding the Hokages hands they didn't get as many glares as they normally would.
The Academy courtyard was packed with students and their parents. The civilians clumped together on one side, muttering nervously and probably already regretting letting their child attend. The clan members, on the other hand, mingled and chatted lightly with one another. Well, except for the Hyuuga and Uchiha. They simply stood to the side eyeing the crowd with contempt.
For two clans who were constantly at odds, they had very similar mannerisms.
He eyed the large amount of children entering this year and suddenly understood why the Hokage decided to walk them here himself. He wanted to make a point. Kurama, or rather Natsuki and Naruto were under his care and he would not tolerate shenanigans from either parents or instructors. Kurama smiled faintly, appreciating the old man's effort.
He patted them on the head as he smiled in a grandfatherly way. "Be good, boys. Look after each other and listen to your instructors. I'm sure one day, you'll be able to achieve your goals."
Naruto grinned and waved frantically as the man walked away. The instructors called for them to enter the building. He then proceeded to drag Kurama into the building after their new chunin instructor.
Their first day went as well as one would expect with a classroom full of six-year-olds, even if most of them were clan children. Introductions were made and their instructor, Daichi-sensei, began with the history of Konoha. Needless to say, the young man had to work hard in order to keep the classes attention. Kurama found it all very amusing and refrained from keeping Naruto in place.
Perhaps, if the green-eyed man hadn't muttered their names with the utmost contempt when he was calling roll, he would have taken pity on him. As it stood, however, he simply sat back and smiled as the teacher struggled with Naruto's rapid and ridiculous questions about Shinobi.
He'd have to keep an eye on him, but for now, he laughed softly with the rest of the class when Naruto asked about rescuing princesses for the fifth time.
He glanced around the room subtly taking note of all the clan children. He supposed he should have expected it. Konoha had enjoyed peace for many years now, 'Kyuubi' attack aside, and the economy was booming. He eyed the clan children thoughtfully. While all of the children had undoubtedly been warned about them, the clan children would have a bit more power in their punches should any violence break out. Which would, of course, be unfortunate considering his and Naruto's lack of training. Brawling was one thing, taijutsu battles were another.
As annoying as it was, he had known he couldn't try and train until they had gotten into the academy. It would be too odd for a 'kid' to start practicing moves he should have never seen before. Especially a 'kid' who was supposed to house half of the 'Kyuubi'.
Not that he had ever had much experience fighting in a human form, being an enormous being made of chakra. However, one did not fight dangerous Shinobi without picking up a few tricks. Even a giant nine-tailed fox. Now that he was in the academy he could pass off practicing fairly common moves by pretending he saw one of the instructors or students perform it. He was sure Naruto would be thrilled to join in as well. Their experience with fighting had, after all, been primarily limited to them trying to defend themselves from bigger opponents before their Anbu guards arrived if it was serious.
His gaze stopped momentarily on a few familiar faces he had seen around the parks and the market. Making note of the ones that might cause trouble in the future. He watched the major clans for any negativity and found them mostly neutral. The Hyuuga especially looked as though she couldn't hate anything more than a few seconds.
That was a good thing. He didn't want to make enemies with the Hyuuga. The Uchiha, on the other hand…
His gaze unconsciously slipped towards the spiky dark hair of their Uchiha classmate.
The small black haired boy giggled at every one of the bad jokes Naruto cracked between his questions. Whatever his father must have told him about them apparently didn't stick, because there wasn't lingering wariness in his innocent eyes. When the boys gaze turned on him, Kurama immediately looked at his lap where his hands were clenched into fists.
Lingering memories of losing control evaded his consciousness.
He could feel the familiar burning in his stomach.
He hated the Uchiha.
While most of his rage and pride had cooled during his time as a useless infant, it was very hard to feel superior when a nurse had to wipe your butt every few hours, his hatred for the Uchiha hadn't waned in the slightest. Even thinking the name Madara Uchiha sent a shiver of disgust through him.
He looked up, once he had gotten his anger under control only to find the Uchiha's eyes still on him.
Confused and slightly worried.
He hated the Uchiha, yes, but most of that hate rested on Madara. He couldn't continue to take it out on his new classmate. It wasn't necessary and would cause too much attention to be drawn to himself. He smiled faintly at the other boy, ignoring the twisting in his gut.
Kurama received a blinding smile in return.
He made a show of turning his attention back to Naruto in order to keep himself from scowling. Kurama hoped the child didn't notice his deliberate avoidance of eye contact...
He really hated the Uchiha's.
Class ended soon after that and it was Kurama's turn to drag his brother. A group of civilian kids had gotten together at some point and were shooting looks at them that Kurama didn't like.
He didn't want his brother's good day ruined by a bunch of children.
Instead, they played together at the park for a while, ignoring all of the glares and muttered insults with practiced ease, before heading home for dinner. They were greeted by the scowling face of the brunette who cooked for them. Naruto cringed back briefly before squaring his shoulders and stepping in front of Kurama slightly.
Naruto took his older brother status very seriously.
"I won't come back after today." The woman snapped. "You little monsters can take care of yourselves now that you're in the Academy. There is enough food in the kitchen for this week, but you'll have to start buying your own crap after that. The Hokage was also kind enough to provide a cookbook. Be thankful."
She marched out the door, without a backward glance.
Naruto scowled fiercely at her back, but Kurama was relieved he never had to deal with her again. In the year that she had been in their life, she hadn't even bothered to give them her name. Kurama sighed and tugged his irate brother to the kitchen.
"Let's, just have cup ramen tonight Naruto." He pulled up a stool in order to get to the cabinet. "We can worry about cooking tomorrow."
Naruto frowned but nodded anyway. He loved ramen, so Kurama knew that would snap him out of his mood. They managed to get back into the groove of things after a few minutes and started to chat like normal. Naruto was going on and on about how they'd make lots of friends in the Academy and it was going to be amazing. Kurama nodded along already making a list of kids they could try and befriend in order to make Naruto happy.
He knew how much being alone hurt.
They had each other, at least, but it'd be nice to talk to others, even if they were just children.
They went to bed soon after dinner. Naruto immediately passed out, as usual. As he shoved his brother's limbs off of him Kurama wondered when they'd be too big to share a bed. Both of them were rather small for their age, Kurama even more so than Naruto. They might be able to get away with it for a little while longer.
Kurama wasn't sure how he felt about that.
He wasn't even sure if a second bed would fit in their tiny bedroom.
Sighing he closed his eyes and cleared his mind until he could finally slip into unconsciousness.
The Sharingan greeted him when he opened his eyes.
Flames licked his bare feet. Blood soaked his clothes.
His brother, Naruto, lay dead at his feet.
It was his fault.
"Regrettably, I cannot let you run loose."
He was now in a familiar cage.
It was so dark and cold.
No matter how long or how loud he screamed nobody listened.
He was completely and utterly alone.
Kurama woke with a start his eyes immediately seeking the small noise that woke him. He paused, relaxing minutely when he saw the Anbu sitting on the window sill. Of all the Anbu who watched them, Hound, was his favorite.
He didn't talk more than a few monosyllables and whenever he showed himself he always had this awkward air about him. Like he wasn't sure how to treat them, but he was always there when Kurama had a nightmare. Sitting on the window sill, silently watching over him.
Kurama crawled out of bed and sat down on the sill himself, his feet dangling outside.
He breathed deeply, taking measured breaths until his heart rate returned to normal.
"This is the last night."
Kurama glanced at the older man in surprise.
He wasn't all that surprised over their cook, but their Anbu as well?
The council must be really pressuring the Hokage for him to call them off. He hoped the old man knew what he was doing. Even if he was technically older his body was still six and Naruto was a complete child.
He looked at his hands, feeling a little overwhelmed.
A hand ruffled his unruly locks.
"You'll be fine."
With those words said the Anbu was gone. Kurama could sense him on the roof but gave no indication.
He only sighed.
"I hope so."
Ummm, hi? A reviewer, of my other story (A crossover drabble-thing between YYH and KHR), asked if I ever thought of doing a similar story for Naruto's Kurama and this idea (which had been hanging around in the back of my mind) took flight. I'll be honest, besides the original idea (Of Kurama being born Naruto's brother) I am completely winging this. I'm not even sure if I'll continue (Surely there's been other, better, stories based on the same premise?). But if I do, it'll probably branch off into Au territory. It already sort-of has...(academy ages and the timing of a certain mass killing, among other things...)
Anywho, we'll see how this goes.