Chapter 3: Elders and Foxes

Hello dear readers ! It's been a long time but life got in the way and I wasn't able to write much of chapter 4 so I chose to delay chapter 3 as much as possible to avoid using all my reserve. Now I will repeat this in case some of you are upset: I don't have a fixed plan for update dates and I don't plan on sticking to one. I recently came back from my winter job and I'm with my friends again, I'm able to play video games again so while my enthusiasm for this story hasn't diminished one bit, I'll be writing at the pace I want.

I also want to thank everyone who read the story, who added it to their follow list (we crossed the one hundred bar, yeah !) and their favourite list. I also want to mentally shake hands with the people who left reviews, you guys are the best ! I really appreciate it and I encourage everyone who reads this to do the same, it means a lot to me. Well that's the first and last time I'll ever ask for reviews, I'll put my trust in you guys.

Without further ado, here's chapter 3 !

'speech': thoughts

"speech": spoken words

"speech": jutsus

'speech': ninja sign language

speech : Bijūs/Summons speaking or thinking

speech: flashback

Hiashi was lost in his thoughts as he looked at his daughter who was sitting a few feet away from him on a cushion. Yesterday had been a mix of emotions. Hinata had seemingly disappeared once again and while Hiashi knew perfectly well what her daughter was up to, he hoped that the elders never learned of her escapades as they were quick to blame and rage against her, always trying to diminish her, unknowingly being the reason she often left the compound for some time. But it was Kō who had brought him good news, breaking him of his melancholy. She had met Naruto and they were apparently now friends. The Hyūga had also whispered another detail about their encounter that had made Hiashi smile. He knew Minato's son would achieve great things, like his father and had hoped that his daughter would be friends with him.

Ever since the death of Hitomi, Hinata had had a hard time dealing with the everyday life in the clan. As a clan heiress, she had started her training at the age of 3, once she was able to read and write correctly but still too young to start any ninja training. At that point, Hitomi had started to teach her daughter in the customs of the clan and the etiquette to uphold during formal events. Hiashi had sometimes assisted to the lessons and everytime he felt like his love and pride for his wife grew as he witnessed her interactions with their daughter.

He remembered the day his wonderful wife dropped the pregnancy news after a bout of sickness that had ended in the hospital. He thought that day that he was about to burst with the happiness he was feeling. Only upon seeing the elders' reaction, had his mood been dampened. Afterwards he kept his wife close to him as much as possible or dispatched some of the most talented and trustful Hyūgas he could rely on as he had no more allies on the elder council, having lost his father during the decade since he had succeeded him. Hitoshi had become an elder shortly after his retirement and because Hiashi had a lot of duties to fulfil and couldn't be everywhere, the 'Anti-Hiashi' elders had sunk their teeth into him and slowly brainwashed him to stand against his own son.

Hinata was born on the 27th of December, a little more than two months after the death of his friend and the unexplained attack from the Kyūbi. She had brightened their world, distracting them from grieving for Minato and Kushina's, who had been Hitomi's closest friend, death. The moment she opened her eyes, Hiashi realised from the faint lavender sheen held in them that she was destined to be special. They had spent 4 wonderful years as a family, when he had learned that Hitomi was expecting once more. He had hoped for a boy, as he knew that if he was to have another daughter she'd have to be branded, until he was told it was a girl. Hitomi had convinced that they could delay the branding until Hinata was inducted as Clan Head and hope they could find a solution before that happened.

But fate had struck in the most horrible way and Hitomi had died in childbirth leaving a heart-broken Hiashi and Hinata. He had spent weeks, alternating between tears and rage within the confine of his study. His hate for the elders had skyrocketed during that time, as Hiashi was convinced that they had something to do with her death. She had delivered Hinata without any problems and Hanabi was no different, if a little smaller ! There was no way her death had been natural ! Unfortunately he had no proof and he couldn't launch random accusations especially to the elders who could use it against him. He couldn't help but feel like he was letting Hitomi down by not discovering the truth behind her passing away

After a month of a sleep-work-eat-work-sleep routine, Hiashi had realised that he had also let his daughter down. While Hanabi had been in the care of a trusted Hyūga, he had forgotten about Hinata. He learned that the elders had continued her training, even starting basic Jūken training, despite her recent loss and used her grief and distraction against her, doing their absolute best to hurt her emotionally and physically. Upon realising that, he had immediately put an end to her training with the elders and taken over it himself despite his position as Clan Head. There had been weak protests, coming mostly from the elders abusing his daughter but Hiashi had shut them up quickly.

However Hinata had been in a terrible state. Once in the privacy of his office to supposedly discuss her progress, he had asked her to take her shirt off, worried that about her health after the treatment she had received from the elders and had seen her upper body covered in bruises. He had broken down in tears while hugging his daughter, devastated that he had been careless enough to let that happen to his precious darling. He had apologised over and over, telling her he was sorry and that he loved her, hoping she wouldn't hold it against him. Hinata had finally unleashed all her pent up emotions from the last month as her little arms went around his back, her frame shaking with the strength of her sobs. Once she had calmed down, they had talked about Hitomi, Hiashi doing his best to answer her innocent questions. He had asked her in return what had happened during the last month. She had told him how the elders were extremely severe with her and punished her for the smallest infraction, from showing emotion to letting her mind wander in the middle of an exercise. But she couldn't help it, she wanted to cry so much ! Nonetheless they relentlessly drilled her in the basic exercises of the Jūken alongside her custom and etiquette lessons. Hinata told her father how she hated the lessons, the elders were nothing like her mum and she couldn't muster the required concentration.

At night, she would go to bed exhausted but couldn't get a good night of sleep as she was plagued with nightmares and would often wake up crying. In the morning she was emotionally spent even before her lessons started. Upon talking about her nightmares, Hinata started crying again and Hiashi had reassured her that he would be proud of her no matter what she did. She had eventually fallen asleep on him and he had shortly followed. The hard conversation they just had, had been the beginning of their healing. The next day, Hiashi had talked to Hiruzen and asked that Kō be released from ANBU duties as he needed him to keep company and watch over Hinata. Whenever he couldn't keep his daughter within his sight he wanted to know that she had his most trusted clansman keeping her safe, until she could defend herself. In addition he had restarted her training himself and it gave them many great bonding moments and he often had baby Hanabi and her caretaker assist at their lessons.

Unfortunately for Hiashi he couldn't control everything and despite Kō's presence, the elders continued to torment Hinata and it often got too much for the young girl. She had taken to leaving the compound for a few hours, in order to get away from the hateful atmosphere. It was Kō who had informed him the first time it happened and while Hiashi wasn't against her actions, he and Kō still had to reprimand her in due form.

The Clan Head was drawn out of his reminiscence by one of the elder sitting next to him.

"Hyūga Hinata you are here before this council to answer about the events that took place yesterday on the border of training ground 2 that involved you, the sons of council man Maboshi, Tohiro Detō, a respectable academy student and Naruto Uzumaki," declared Hitoshi. It had several effects Hiashi, the first being surprise and suspicion ! He wasn't expecting this meeting to be about Hinata's encounter with the three bullies, more along the line of her training. How could the elders know about that ? The declaration also made Hiashi internally seethe in anger as no one could misunderstand the disgust dripping from Hitoshi's voice upon saying Naruto's name. He wanted to jump up and slap his father across the face for disrespecting Minato's son, except that he was one of the few people who knew the truth. So he bid his time, disgusted that this meeting was nothing more than a show. He was ready to bet on what would happen and be said next.

"I was outside playing in the snow. And those three boys came up to me and started saying I was a freak and a monster. But after that Naruto shouted at them to stop and they didn't want so he attacked them and he won." Hinata stopped after that not willing to say more the end of her meeting with Naruto. She was also pretty intimidated by the elders and had to physically restrain herself from twiddling her fingers in front of her, which would've been heavily frowned upon by the already frowning elders. There was a moment of silence before the elder on Hitoshi's right spoke up.

"Walking outside by yourself ? Do you realise how reckless such a behaviour is ? Especially after last year's events ! That incident was already embarrassing enough for our clan, now you go ahead and get into a fight with three boys and you need help to get out of. It's disgraceful for a Hyūga to need help in a fight. What if some Uchiha had seen you or learned about it !" Hiashi turned his head to glance at the elder who had just spoke, fury welling up in him. He had seen Kō, who was standing by the door slightly tremble in what he assumed was rage.

"Should I assume that in your zeal to care for our clan's standing and integrity, you carefully forgot that my daughter didn't start any fight and was instead harassed by those three boys who also happen to be to twice as old as Hinata if not more ?" ground out Hiashi. The elder sat there his mouth flapping uselessly, unable to come up with any counter-arguments.

"I will also add that my daughter has only recently begun her training in the art of the Jūken Style and therefore cannot be expected to defend herself. It is why," forestalling any interjections, "I have assigned Kō-san as her bodyguard whenever she ventures outside the compound's walls, until she can face any potential threats. He is there in case my daughter runs into trouble that she can't resolve herself." Hiashi took pleasure in seeing Kō squirm ever so slightly as they were both aware that if Naruto hadn't been there, the situation could've gotten out of hand.

"Well even if she's protected by Kō-san, she can't be seen in the presence of that person !" spluttered a third elder before turning back to Hinata, "Hinata-sama, we forbid you from interacting with one Uzumaki Naruto". Hinata's head immediately flew up and her protest were quick to be heard.

"What ? But you can't do that ! He's the one who saved me and he's really nice ! Naruto did nothing wrong !" shouted Hinata, angry that the elders would try to prevent her from seeing her friend. She wouldn't let them have their way. Her face morphed into a frown as her eyes narrowed at the elders and her arms crossed themselves in front of her, in a attitude that screamed defiance. Before it could escalate any further, Hiashi cut through the debate.

"Elder Totaka you forget yourself ! I'm the Clan Head and Hinata is my daughter, therefore I'm the only one who will decide who she can spend time with. Uzumaki Naruto also happens to be a young man who has done nothing wrong for the moment, quite the opposite seeing how he bravely fought off three boys tormenting my daughter. Despite his "condition", I see no reason, for the moment, to stop Hinata from seeing Uzumaki-san. Now let's end this waste of time, I have a lesson to start with my daughter." declared Hiashi, as he rose from his seat and headed towards the door.

Instantly Hinata and Kō were behind him and after manoeuvring through the large compound, they arrived at his study. After closing the door Hiashi turned to Hinata.

"Don't worry Hinata, I stand by what I said. You will be able to see your friend again." he assured her.

"Thank you Tou-san !" exclaimed Hinata, hugging her father, "but is Naruto sick ? You said he had a condition." Upon hearing the question, Hiashi felt uncomfortable. He trusted Minato's sealing abilities of course and was sure that they wouldn't have any problems with the Nine-Tails, Naruto and the beast were separate beings and he wanted to tell Hinata Naruto's status as a Jinchūriki to prevent anyone from using that information against her. But the Sandaime had been clear on this point, therefore his hands were tied.

"I'm sorry Hinata, I can't tell you right now, hopefully some day. But I can assure you that it's nothing dangerous. Now let's start today's lesson. If you work well, we'll go visit Naruto at the hospital, maybe he'll be awake. If not, you'll stay here until dinner." warned Hiashi, "Kō you are free to go for the day, I'll stay with Hinata until 6p.m"

As said-ninja left the room and Hinata hurriedly gathered her supplies, the Hyūga Clan Head prayed that if he ever met Minato again he'd be able to look him in the eyes, despite his failure regarding Naruto.


All he could see was blackness. Naruto was floating aimlessly in the middle of a black, empty void. After what seemed like an eternity, he felt an increasingly strong pull from behind his navel. He suddenly landed in a flooded corridor, with rusty, leaky pipes running over his head and away in the darkness. As Naruto stood up, he had a strange feeling of déjà-vu. After a few seconds were nothing jumped at him and no one appeared to bestow some divine favour on him, he decided to move on and explore the area. Why was he in that dank sewer when he clearly remembered that a few moments ago he had helped Hinata against the three boys ?

After a series of twists and turns, Naruto finally stumbled in a very wide room. The tall cream-coloured walls enclosing the room had a few torches stuck on them and Naruto could still see the pipes he had been following running on the now-distant ceiling. As he looked around the room, the torches came to life and Naruto was surprised to see a huge gate with a piece of paper in the middle. He closed the distance, hoping to find out what was behind the steel bars. A slitted red eye suddenly opened, freezing Naruto in his tracks.

"Well what a surprise, my jailer. I wasn't expecting to see you so soon !" said a deep, rumbling voice. Even though the red eye was a little scary, Naruto was determined to find out more about this place he was in.

"Hey you're the first person I've met since I arrived in this place, do you know where we are ? Why were you expecting me ?" exclaimed the blond boy. Out of the darkness beyond the bars, the red-eye rose and became a towering orange fox. Naruto suddenly thought that the red eye was a lot less intimidating when it belonged to a fox, especially when said fox seemed so fluffy ! Kurama looked down at the grinning face of his 4 year old Jinchūriki.

"Of course I know where we are as I've been sealed inside you for the last 4 years. We are in your mindscape." said the fox.

"You're sealed inside me ? But how ? Who did that ? Does it hurt ? Man, it sucks to be stuck in this mindscape thing if it's always full of water and rusty pipes ! Actually why are you here ?" questions poured out of Naruto's mouth after Kurama's declaration. He was finally interrupted by the rumbling coming from the mighty beast's torso, indicating he was laughing.

"Aren't you a curious little thing... First of all I am the Kyūbi no Yōko and you are what is known as a Jinchūriki, in this case my Jinchūriki. How is long and complicated story that you are too young to grasp. As to who, it was the Yondaime Hokage who sealed me inside of you and aside from my pride, it didn't hurt. I appear in this derelict mindscape because it is where my consciousness resides, your mindscape being in such a state because you don't take care of it." explained Kurama. Naruto frowned at the fox before moving closer to the cage, stopping a feet shy of entering the cage.

"Are you really the Kyūbi ? Because you're supposed to be this extremely bloodthirsty and ferocious beast, at least that's what the villagers keep saying. They also say that you were killed by the Yondaime !" exclaimed Naruto. The fox scoffed at the little kid's unintended jibe before replying.

"Well obviously they were wrong. You can't kill us Bijū, we are not alive in the same way as you humans are. You seem to take the news of me being sealed inside you unexpectedly well, especially knowing how Konoha feels about me."

"Ah... I'm not sure I understand everything actually but basically you're inside my stomach because you attacked the village right ?" said Naruto sheepishly as he scratched the back of his head, "It's because of you that the people at the orphanage and the villagers hate me. But why did the Yondaime choose me ?" That last question left Kurama a little uneasy. Of course he knew who were the kid's parents but should he tell him ? In the end he decided against it as Naruto was too young and it would only cause more problems to know the truth.

"Unfortunately the villagers are blinded by their grief and anger and blame you for my actions even though you are innocent and only a new-born baby at the time. It's because of that last fact that the Yondaime chose you as my jailer and also because you are an Uzumaki." said Kurama. Since Naruto had arrived, the Bijū could feel the trace of Asura within Naruto and the positive energy that radiated off the boy. He was ready to follow his father's advice if Naruto passed one more test.

"Because I'm an Uzumaki ? What does it have to do with it ?" asked Naruto, confused.

"Well you have a special chakra that makes you really good containers of Bijū. You're not the first Uzumaki to be my jailer actually. I used to live a relatively recluse life, only interacting with humans to eradicate corruption, be it from a clan or a whole city. It was my job, the one Father had given me. But humans are greedy and thirsty for power and in the end they started desiring mine for their own use. It was that bastard Madara, the leader of the Uchiha who finally took away my freedom through his actions. He used me to fight against the founder of Konoha and when the battle was over, I was deemed too dangerous and sealed away in the Shodaime's wife, an Uzumaki, like some vulgar kunai. When she died, I was transferred into another female Uzumaki. For decades, I was left alone. The confinement ended when I felt myself slip out of the seal, only to face another Uchiha who immediately put me under his control to use me as a simple tool of death and destruction. He must've been beaten because at some point his control faded away. But it was too late as the village was already up in arms against me and I ended sealed inside you, courtesy of the Namikaze." Kurama paused to let Naruto process all the informations he had dropped on him, "Now you know my story." sighed the fox.

Naruto was gobsmacked as he processed the Kyūbi's story. It wasn't what he expected, hell he wasn't even expecting the fox to tell him anything at all !

"But... But that means you're also innocent, like me ! You were sealed for no reason at all, it's horrible ! It's that Uchiha's fault but I'm not surprised they're all like that. I saw some Uchihas one day and they're all bad people !" vehemently exclaimed the boy, "Is there anything I can do to get you out of that seal ?"

"As much as I hate to say it, I'm better off in the seal. You could release me and live to tell the tale but you'd end up in the hospital for quite some time. The problem is that while that Uchiha who made me attack Konoha is still alive, I would never be safe outside the seal. Therefore I have decide to help you. But I have a few conditions." said the fox.

"Euh ok, tell me and if it's nothing too bad, I'd love to be your partner !" enthusiastically replied Naruto. Kurama chuckled as he realised Hagoromo had once again been right. That boy was definitely something special and it was without any doubts that Kurama told Naruto his conditions.

"I want you to personally kill the Uchiha that made me attack Konoha as no one should dare manipulate us Bijū. I also want you to kill Uchiha Madara if you ever encounter him. I'm sure he didn't die at the Valley of the End. And lastly, I ask that you set me free before you die and to make sure I'm never resealed again."

Naruto had paled a little when the fox had talked bout killing people. Sure he wanted to be a ninja and knew that he would have to kill people but he usually didn't think about that too much. But if it was to make sure Kyūbi could be free without any risks, then he would do it !

"That's okay with me, I just hope I don't meet these people too soon... But if by killing them you can be free again than I'll do it -ttebayo !" shouted Naruto, "I'll make sure people know you aren't evil like they say you are, Kyūbi-san." Kurama chuckled slightly at the simplistic thought process of the boy. If only it was as easy as he made it sound...

"Call me Kurama, that's my name. Now to make things a little more practical, tear off the two bottom corners of that seal."

Naruto nodded and moved underneath the seal. He was trying to figure out how to reach the seal when he felt his feet leave the ground. Surprised he looked below him and saw a red vortex lifting him up to the seal. Once he was face-to-face with the sheet of paper, on which was simply written 'Seal', he took a hold of the left bottom corner and tore it off. He repeated the process with the right corner before descending back to the ground.

"Thank you, from now on we'll be able to talk without having to bring you in your mindscape. It has also increased my awareness of the exterior. Now before you leave, don't tell anyone about our encounter and the changes to the seal." explained Kurama.

"But don't the villagers need to know that you're not a bloodthirsty monster ?" questioned Naruto, confused about this need for secrecy.

"Think for a second, if you walked up to anyone in the village and told them that you had met the Kyūbi, that he was actually a rather nice chap and you could talk with him, what would be there reactions ?" Naruto visibly deflated upon realising the hole in his plan, "Don't worry, everything will happen in due time. Simply remember this important lesson, deception is a shinobi's best weapon." argued the Bijū, "Now go."

"Ok thanks Kurama ! I'll talk to you later !" waved Naruto as he left his mindscape.


Naruto opened his eyes to a completely white ceiling. A powerful odour of disinfectant and thoroughly cleaned floors immediately filled his senses, reminding him of this day of the week at the orphanage during which they couldn't set foot inside for a few hours and the ladies cleaned the building in it's entirety. They were usually allowed back in in time for the 4 o'clock snack, while he was sometimes "forgotten" outside. He looked around and realised he was in a hospital bed. He sat up startled as he remembered his dream and his meeting with the fox. As he was debating on whether of not his dream was real, a deep voice rang in his head.

'I can sense that you are full of doubts. We did have a conversation in your mindscape, it wasn't a dream, if that's what you're thinking about."

"Wow Kyūbi-san, you really inside my belly ! And I can hear you in my head !" exclaimed Naruto.

'Shut up you idiot ! Don't say this kind of things aloud, I can perfectly understand if you simply think what you want to say. You really need to learn to be more discreet, people mustn't know about our connection, they aren't ready and wouldn't understand. I reiterate what I said before: Don't tell anyone about me !' growled Kurama. True, his host was a 4 years old kid and it was expected of him to act this way but he had to get his point across or the repercussions could be terrible for him and the blond.

'Hehe, sorry Kyūbi-san, don't worry I'll do my best and no one will know about you !' replied the blond who was nonetheless rubbing his the back of his head in embarrassment.

'And I told you my name is Kurama, so you better use it. I hate being called by my tails, makes me feel like nothing more than a beast.' snarled Kurama. Naruto nodded his head and Kurama couldn't stop the facepalm.

Naruto laid back down as he thought about his encounter with the Kyūbi or rather Kurama as he had said. He was a mix of emotions, glad to know why he seemed to be hated by the vast majority of Konoha, angry at the fox as he was the cause of such treatment and resentful against the Yondaime because he was the one who had put this burden on him, probably not aware of the consequences for him. However out of all the emotions he was feeling, he knew that his anger at the fox was the most irrational. Kurama had explained to him what had happened and Naruto knew the fox would never approached Konoha if it had not been for some Uchihas. But it was hard to let go of his anger. Naruto came out of his musings when he heard the door open and saw Yūgao come in followed by a nurse.

"Kaa-san !" exclaimed Naruto, as Yūgao closed the distance between the door and the bed and squeezed the life out of Naruto.

"You're finally awake, don't you ever scare me like that again !" said Yūgao, relief clear in her voice. She let go and sat down on a chair beside the bed, as Naruto looked on in confusion.

"What do you mean finally awake ? I helped Hinata just a little while ago !" asked Naruto.

"Hinata ? So that's the little Hyūga girl's name... She came here quite often. But to answer your question, you've been unconscious for three days. Yamato arrived at the apartment one evening, telling me that you were at the hospital with chakra exhaustion. You recovered from that pretty quickly but you wouldn't wake up. The doctors were pretty baffled, first from your recovery and second when you wouldn't regain consciousness." Yūgao was interrupted by the nurse.

"Excuse-me but it would be preferable if you let me examine the patient to determine if he can be discharged before I allow for a longer conversation. You'd certainly appreciate having this discussion at your home rather than here." Yūgao got up to give room for the nurse. Five minutes later, she had signed the discharge form and the nurse had left. It was Naruto who spoke up first.

"I've been here for three days ?! How is Hinata ? Hey kaa-san, you know she was being bullied by those three boys and I beat them up because they were calling her mean names and they made her cry. I don't see what's wrong with her eyes anyway," Naruto blushed upon saying that as the memory of them staring at each other came back to his mind before his face light up with a smile, "I hope I'll see her again, she's really nice and she said she'd fix my scarf as I damaged it." Yūgao smiled upon seeing the myriad of expressions that flashed across his face.

"Hinata-chan is doing good, that's what her bodyguard told me. I often saw her around your room, you must've made a pretty good impression on her," Yūgao laughed when Naruto blushed again, "I'm glad you defended her the way you did, Kō-san told me what he saw upon arriving near you and I'm proud of you. Although you shouldn't worry, I'm sure you'll see her again, as she's your age and she'll eventually attend the Academy. Now let's get you dressed and back home."

On the way back, Naruto begged Yūgao to go eat at Ichiraku but she had been intransigent, wanting to spend a calm evening and have time to listen to Naruto's tale of the events that lead to his hospital stay. Of course Yūgao knew exactly what had happened, having met up with Kō after learning of the incident. She was aware that they both had watched over Naruto when he was at the orphanage but was surprised to discover that he was Hinata's bodyguard since she was 3 years old. That hadn't stopped them from laughing over the two kid's behaviours. Kō had informed her of Hiashi's sentiment over the two meeting which didn't surprise her much, knowing the friendship that had existed between the Hokage and the Clan Head.

As Naruto laid in bed, he wondered if he could feel again what he had felt when the boys had made Hinata cry and whether or not he'd be able to see Hinata tomorrow. Naruto hoped she'd want to play with him.

'Hey Kurama, do you think you know what I did to see all those colours and feel that strong when I was by the swing ?' asked Naruto, hoping the fox had some answers for him.

'I think I know what happened but we'll see tomorrow. Now sleep, like I was doing before you spoke.' grumbled the Bijū.

'Yay thanks, I'm sure it's something awesome !' shouted Naruto.