I don't own Naruto. But if I did, all the other jinchuuriki would have more than just a cameo appearance.

Chapter 2: The Mystery Of The Red-Haired, Nine-Tailed Girl

Everyone present was shocked silent as the new child suddenly referred to Naruto as her father. Shino actually moved his sunglasses down a little to get a better look at the scene. Kiba and Hinata had no idea what to do, and Naruto was even more clueless. Akamaru got in closer and sniffed the girl, and one of her tails playfully batted his nose, making him moan in irritation.

Kiba decided to check out the girl's scent too, but he did so from a distance. "Naruto, that girl may look somewhat human, but her scent is all fox." Akamaru barked in agreement.

The nine-tailed child then looked over the members of Team Eight curiously. She also appeared to be sniffing them out as well. Everyone was anxious, and maybe even a little fearful, to see her reaction to them, but she just sat there in Naruto's lap, waiting.

Naruto couldn't hold in his question anymore. "Why did you just call me Otou-san?"

She looked up towards him. "What else would I call my daddy?"

This was probably the first time in history that Naruto had a deeper blush than Hinata.

"Little girl, what is your name?" Shino inquired, putting his sunglasses in their proper position.

The young girl's eyes pointed upwards for a moment. "I... I don't remember. What is my name, Otou-san?"

"Well... uhh... we just call you Kyuubi. You don't really have a name outside of that as far as we know."

"OK, but can I have a real name soon?" She asked in a cute way only kids could do and get away with.

"So, Kyuubi, what's the last thing you remember?" Shino inquired again, being the most rational of them all at the moment.

Kyuubi's eyes pointed upwards again for a little longer this time. "I can remember... well... being in some kind of cage and seeing Otou-san sometimes. I can't remember what we did or how he got me out though. I also remember some city in a forest that seems really familiar. And I remember these evil-looking red eyes on some old guy. That's about it." Nobody said anything, then she continued. "You all seem really familiar to me. Have we met before?"

Kiba and Hinata shook their heads. "Nope, but we're good friends of... well... your father I guess." Kiba struggled to tell her, not sure how to best phrase it.

"So you're pack?" Kyuubi asked.

"In a way." Kiba answered, now more confident in what he could say to her. "We're not family, but yes, we're pack." He saw the confused look on Naruto's face. "I'll explain later." He didn't have to explain anything to Hinata and Shino since they were already familiar with the Inuzuka way of thinking.

"Is there anything to eat?" Kyuubi asked, looking and sniffing around.

"In a moment." Hinata told her as they started setting up for dinner.

Kiba used a fire jutsu to light a campfire and Shino looked for edible plants. Naruto and Kiba looked thru their provisions to see what would be their main course. Naruto pulled out some ramen containers and Hinata filled a small pot with water with a water jutsu and set it to boil. Hinata then readjusted and zipped up Naruto's jacket so Kyuubi wouldn't be so exposed to them all or too uncomfortable in it. Kiba pulled out some beef jerky and ration bars and Kyuubi started drooling at the scent of them. He handed her a piece of jerky and she eagerly tore at it.

Shino found some edible grasses and mushrooms and roasted them while the ramen cooked. Everyone munched on some jerky and rations in the meantime. They had some entertainment too when Kyuubi tried fighting Akamaru for one of his doggy treats. Naruto stopped her and she caved in, making a low growl. Kiba recognized it as canine-speech for 'Sorry Alpha-male. Kit will be good.'

"Hey Naruto, looks like she knows the canine language." Kiba commented.

"But, she's a fox not a dog."

Kiba groaned. "Foxes are part of the overall canine family baka. Foxes, dogs, wolves, they're all connected and they all speak the same language."

"And you can understand it?" Naruto asked.

"Did you think I was just pretending to talk with Akamaru?" Kiba asked back, a little annoyed. "All Inuzuka can understand the canine language and, to a point, speak it ourselves."

He and Naruto noticed the curious look Kyuubi gave him. She made a short growl. "What'd she say?" Naruto asked.

"Pack-male." Kiba answered. He responded in a low growl of his own that meant 'Pup', which was more natural for him than 'Kit'. While difficult for most humans to speak, there were key phrases of canine-speech that humans could properly mimic, if they knew what they were saying that is. Kyuubi smiled and her tails wagged, and Kiba gave a friendly grin back to make her feel comfortable. "She's trying to bond with us by acknowledging us as a group she can fit into. It's standard behavior among young ones."

Kyuubi made the 'Pack-male' sound at Shino, who merely patted her head in response. Then Kyuubi called Hinata 'Pack-female' which earned her another pat. She didn't have to refer to Naruto as anything since she had already claimed him as the alpha male and father figure. While everyone was less wary being around her, they were still curious as to why the much feared Kyuubi would be like this. It made no sense to them.

Dinner finished shortly and they all started eating. They got a little more entertainment when Kyuubi ate almost all the ramen before Naruto could. The surprised look on his face made them all laugh a little, except for Shino who just smirked under his high collar. He gave her an irritated glare and she meekly offered him the last cup. All members of Team Eight wondered if having her sealed in him was the reason Naruto was such a ramen fanatic or if it was the other way around. When the mushrooms were ready to be eaten, Kyuubi didn't touch any until Naruto actually handed her one. He figured she probably thought she needed his permission now.

"We probably shouldn't stay here much longer. No telling when that man could return, if at all." Shino told them. They all nodded.

"Are we going home, Otou-san?" Kyuubi asked.

Naruto paled at hearing this. He knew he couldn't just leave the girl. Even if she was the greatest demon known to man, right now she was a child. And Naruto knew full well what could happen if a child was abandoned for something like fear of what it might be. But still, how would anyone in Konoha handle this? He calmed himself and looked down at her, still in his lap. "Actually, Kyuubi-chan, me and the others have to talk about something important, in private." Everyone caught his use of the 'chan' suffix.

"Please don't leave me alone, Otou-san. I don't want to be alone now." She pleaded.

"Well, this should help you." Naruto said as he made the cross sign and created a shadow clone. "This way I'm still close by."

"I've leave some of my insects around to keep an eye on her as well." Shino said as some flying beetles came out of his sleeves.

Kyuubi looked at them with interest. "Is this why you smell like bugs?" He nodded. "Don't they itch?"

"They're not fleas. They live in my body like a hive." The Aburame explained.

"Neat." Kyuubi told him, looking at the many beetles.

The four ninjas left to the trees about ten meters away, leaving Akamaru with Kyuubi as an extra guard. "So what are we going to do about her? Are we really going to take the Kyuubi to Konoha?" Kiba started.

"We can't just desert her, but what would happen if she came with us?" Naruto asked.

"Worst case scenario for us is that she decides to destroy the village once she gets there." Shino stated. "For her the worst case scenario would be everyone tries to kill her on sight."

"That's what I'm afraid of." Naruto added seriously. "If the people were trying to kill me as a kid when they just thought I was the fox, I can only imagine what they'd do to her."

'Wow. Naruto-kun sounds so concerned and protective, almost like a real father.' Hinata thought.

"Can we be sure this isn't some kind of trick?" Kiba asked. "She smells so sincere and calm, but..." He then trailed off, like he had forgotten whatever point he was trying to make.

"It looks like the Kyuubi forgot everything that happened before now and might just be a normal child now." Hinata commented.

Naruto scratched the back of his head. "So, do you think that when the seal got damaged, it affected Kyuubi herself?"

"It's possible. Or maybe the Kyuubi was a child to begin with." Shino added.

"Whoa, you mean that the village was almost destroyed by a child demon?" Kiba asked, then turned to Naruto. "Tough break man. I'd hate to see someone like that throw a temper tantrum."

"I don't think Kyuubi was a kid from the start." Naruto argued. "I saw the fox in the seal occasionally, and I'm pretty sure it... she was an adult then. So I'm willing to bet she was changed."

"For argument's sake, we'll go with that hypothesis. Even so, the important issue is what are we to do with her?" Shino asked.

"Why don't we ask Hokage-sama?" Hinata suggested.

"Still, how can we get her into Konoha?" Naruto asked.

It looked like Naruto had already decided to try and help the fox-tailed child. Hinata admired his caring side while Shino and Kiba just hoped he knew what he was doing. "In that case, we should test to see if she can henge herself to look like a normal human. Since she's a fox I'm sure she could do it. And we'll say we found her alone and felt she was better off with us. We'll only tell Hokage-sama the truth." Shino offered.

"Hope Baa-chan doesn't have a heart attack." Naruto thought out loud.

"I'd be more worried about what the Kyuubi would do instead." Kiba added.

"Let's see if maybe she's really just a child now, Kiba-kun." Hinata suggested. "Also, we should give her a different name. We can't call her Kyuubi in Konoha. That's just inviting trouble."

"Any suggestions? I never figured I would have to name a kid." Naruto said.

"Not at the moment, no." Shino replied. "The only thing I can think of is Kyuuko, but I'm not sure it's a good one."

"How about Biyoku? Seems appropriate for her." Kiba offered, coming up with an Inuzuka-style name for her.

"M-maybe... Akane?" Hinata suggested.

Naruto thought about it. "I'm sure we can come up with something by the time we get there. Good ideas though." Another thought came to him. "Hey, Kiba, any idea why she says I'm her father? Is it some kind of fox thing?"

"Maybe. Y'know how young birds assume the first thing they see is their mother?" Kiba asked, and Naruto nodded. "Well, for most mammals, the scent they're most familiar with tells them who their parent is. It's called imprinting, and maybe she imprinted on you because of your jacket."

"Or maybe it was the work of the seal." Shino countered. "Since Naruto and the Kyuubi have a connection, and her mind is clearly disorientated from something, then maybe she just assumes Naruto is her parent, despite the difference in species." Shino looked towards where they had left her. "We should get going soon." They nodded and went back to the demon child.

When they got there, they saw her chasing some of Shino's bugs playfully as they flew, smiling like a carefree little girl, being watched by Akamaru and Naruto's clone. Akamaru barked and she turned to see the four adults and went right up to them. "Is everything okay, Otou-san?"

Naruto smiled to make her feel comfortable. "For now. We might have a problem once we get home, but we'll handle that later." He dispelled the shadow clone, then lifted her onto his back and they all headed off to Konoha, hoping they weren't heading into trouble.