Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or Naruto. Alright, once again, I apologize that I restarted "Kitsune Shinigami" (and renamed it). But I didn't like where it was going. It was taking on a life of its own, and since I started it, I decided to kill it. Metaphorically speaking. I think over the school year, I've learned much more on grammar and spelling and whatnot, and also how to mold one's personality better, so I thought, "Why not try again?" So…right. I decided to leave up the old copy of "Kitsune Shinigami" because some people said that it was funny, and that they'd like to still read it. I might rename this…I dunno…I've currently taken a large liking to Latin, so that'll be showing up here once or twice…or thrice. I dunno.

I have to use my mom's computer, and she hardly lets me on that, so updates will once again be slow and few between. But school ends on June 8th, for me, anyway, so I'll PROBABLY be able to update faster…ish.

Edit (October 12, 2013): So, finally starting on editing all of the chapters! Not much was changed, except for adding the little title thing at the top (this is an AU, right? Well, it's close, even if it's not) and a few other small things like spelling and grammatical errors that I noticed. I also changed the description for Naruto's fox form (slightly, nothing big), why he leaves, and I slightly tweaked him meeting Urahara, and Ichigo and Rukia. Oh, and the ending was tweaked a bit, so the beginning of chapter 2 will be very slightly different. I think that's it, though.

Vulpes Alveus

A Naruto/Bleach AU-ish Crossover

Chapter 1

Vulpes Fugio

"Two from two very different lives…they will come together because of similar needs. Their homes need heroes…these two will have to answer the call," said a soft, feminine voice as two screens that ignored the boundaries of time and space flickered in the dark room.

The screen on the right showed a young child, about three years of age, with unusual spiky orange hair, and warm brown eyes. The boy was clutching what appeared to be his mother's hand firmly as they dodged fellow pedestrians on a crowded city street.

On the other screen was a small fox kit with orange fur, no tail to speak of, and dark amethyst eyes. The kit was licking a paw absentmindedly, rolling his eyes as his mother reprimanded it for venturing off into the forest on his own before he was ready.

But both of the life forms, fox and human, had the same defiant, determined look in their keen eyes. Both looked ready to face anything that the world might throw at them, no matter what it was. There was a promise in those young eyes, a promise to overcome any obstacle at any cost.

"What? A demon kit and a human toddler? Are you insane?" protested a deep voice from somewhere in the room's thick darkness. "Pick two angels to take up this task, not a monster and a mortal!"

"No. Both of these are more than they appear. They're not purebreds, and that'll make them more flexible to any changes that have to be made in order for success. They both have unusual amounts of spiritual energy, and the kit has an astounding amount of chakra." The woman in the shadows grinned, her teeth flashing in the artificial light. "They're perfect. I choose them. They will be our heroes."


The ground shook as the woman planted her fist in the jaw of the man who had dared to try and speak out against her. He collapsed, crumpling like a wet napkin.

"I said they will be our heroes, and they will! They will save their world, and all in it! Nobody else can fill the shoes of the heroes' role. It has been decided. In twelve years, these two will realize their powers, and they will start on the path to becoming true heroes of Heaven and Earth. Nothing that he can throw at them will stand a chance," the woman said, her voice growing quiet as she spoke. Even though the volume of her voice lowered, the passion in her tone never did.

"But what about their…special abilities that they have the chance of gaining? We all know of what both of them contain, and how there is a high chance that it will corrupt both of their souls," asked one of the woman's three right-hand men as the one who had been punched finally managed to regain his footing.

"I'm going to conveniently overlook those," the woman replied airily, waving her hand in the complete dismissal of the idea.

"What?!" the three yelled in shock, reeling away from the woman. The woman herself grinned at the screens, and the two that they depicted, one an image from long ago, and one from the present day.

"In twelve years, these two will become great. They will become greater beings than this world has ever seen. They will have to learn to work together, yes, and their coming trials will be tough, but this will work." She pulled her attention away from the two screens, and glanced back to the three men. All of the anguish of Earth was reflected in her gaze, all moments of torment and anguish, anger and hate playing out across the surface of her eyes. "It has to work."

The three men looked to one another, uncertainty in their own gazes. They had been Kami's right-hand men for centuries, and they had seen her guide the world out of an untold amount of threats. But even this was pushing it. Still, this was Kami they were talking about. If anybody could choose two heroes to help pull the world out of the darkness, then it was her. Yes, Time, Fate, and Shinigami were uncertain of her choices, but they would hold out hope that her choices had been the correct ones.

Kami was gazing at the two screens again, muttering to herself in a low tone. Her words were those of a prophecy, words that she had carried with herself for thousands of years as she continuously searched out the two that could fill the roles it called for.

Mortal enemies will become the unlikeliest of allies. Opposites and partials will join to work as one whole. When the universe is cloaked in darkness and despair, Life and Death shall meet in battle, and blood shall rule the world.

:::Vulpes Forest:::

Dark shadows crept slowly through the trees, like black panthers stalking and unseen prey. The human inhabitants called in their joyous children, warning that the forest monsters would come and get them if they didn't come inside for the night. This would send the little children packing to their mothers, fathers, and their homes…but the "monsters" of the forest would just chuckle or growl before padding off into the forest.

These "monsters" were foxes.

There were many names for the breed of foxes that lived in the forest. Kitsunes, fox demons, monsters…but they themselves used the word "Vulpes," the Latin word for "fox." Nobody knew why, but demons – especially fox demons – had an immense love for using Latin for almost everything; from naming their settlements and their children, to their curses and their loves. Many Vulpes' believed that if Latin was something you were especially fluent in, then you'd be closer to the Fox God, Rutilus(1), and that was something that every Vulpes wanted. It basically promised great health and high status among the other foxes. But the Vulpes' love for Latin is not the main point in this tale. It's what's occurring with the Latin-speakers and the humans that's of interest.

"No, Abril! Do not spin that way. Please, for the love of Rutilus, just keep your paws in! I'm not as young as I used to be, you know, and I'd rather not have to sprint across the battlefield to help you, just because you got knocked over because of poor balance!" and old, silvery-gray fox with seven tails called, his voice cracking from old age and overuse. A small, black fox – this one with no tails at all - nodded her fluffy head, and attempted the same spinning maneuver again. The point of the move was to be able to dodge an attack from the front, while also lashing out with hind paws or tail. Instead, the little she-fox achieved the action of falling flat on her face, her tail flopping over her back while her paws flailed uselessly in the air.

The old fox sighed heavily, hanging his head. "I am getting much too old for this," he muttered.

"Then maybe you should consider retiring, Cassius," called a voice from behind the old fox. His ears twitched as he glanced over his shoulder.

Standing behind him was a large but still fairly young fox, this one with unnatural orange fur, purple eyes, and four tails, the ends matching the color of his eyes. Three black streaks of fur broke up the orange on each of the fox's cheeks, and his ears were similarly tipped with black. Both of the fox's forelimbs were wrapped in grass-stained bandages, from the elbow joints to the ankle joints. The fox had an expression of slight amusement as he watched the older fox struggle to teach one of the next generation how to defend herself.

"Naruto," Cassius acknowledged with a sigh. "What do you want?"

"What makes you think that I want anything?" the orange fox asked, raising what could be taken as a foxish form of an eyebrow.

"Because you never bother me when I'm training kits anymore, unless you think there's something I can do for you." Naruto flicked one of his many tails, chuckling slightly.

"Ah, so the old coot noticed. Fine, I want something."

"And that would be…?"

"I want your permission to leave Vulpes Forest."

"What?" Cassius asked. "Why? You know that we need as many warriors as we can get! The scent of war is strong in the air, and is growing more and more noticeable every day! Even the kits can smell it and recognize it now."

"I am aware of that. I smelled it too, Cassius. But you know as much as I do that staying here isn't wise. The humans are getting more and more daring, and it's beginning to threaten us all. No matter what, war is coming, Cassius, and unless we move, then we will be fighting a war on two fronts; one against the humans, and one against other demons."

"Yes, I understand that. And I also understand that the Council will never give us permission to leave this forest unless it's unavoidable-"

"I know this as well."

"-but what I don't understand is why you believe that you leaving Vulpes Forest on your own will aid in us avoiding a war with two very different enemies," Cassius finished, as if Naruto hadn't spoken at all.

"There's a land beyond ours, Cassius," Naruto explained slowly, as if the older fox's mind wouldn't be able to keep up with what he was saying, "one where the humans haven't stolen our elemental manipulation. Where we are not viewed as a threat. And better yet, where the humans do not know of us. If we could move the skulk to this land where we are unknown, then we will be fighting only fellow demons. We will have a singular war front that we will have to concern ourselves with. As you said, we are stretched thin as it is."

"And you want to find a place for us to go," Cassius said with an understanding nod.

"I'll return eventually, hopefully before the war starts. Right after I find a suitable place, and convince the Council that leaving is wise."

Cassius stared at the younger but larger Vulpes for a very long while, his old, clouded eyes inspecting the younger's carefully-set face. He sighed.

"I knew your father very well, Naruto," he said slowly, "and he was just as hard to persuade from setting on a different path. Very well. I will allow you to leave this forest. But be careful. You will be on your own in a world that very few of us know even a small amount about. You are needed for this war, and we cannot lose you to an unknown reality. When it all comes down to it, you'll be the only one left to fight." Naruto rolled his eyes, exasperated.

"I am not going to be the last one alive to fight," he scoffed. Cassius tried to speak again, but Naruto cut him off. "I know, I know. You were serious." He paused, taking a moment to stare at his former mentor. "Goodbye, Cassius."

And with that he turned and trotted off, waving his tails in farewell. Cassius watched his once-pupil become enveloped by the shadows of the trees that for the longest time had been called home, had once offered the feeling of safety, but now only loomed over them and brought around an ominous feeling.

'…if only he knew…'

:::Karakura Town:::

Nobody really notices a stray dog in a large city. At least, not really. Except for little kids and the occasional old woman, people see a canine and immediately dismiss it. And a Vulpes morphed into a one-tailed fox bears a striking resemblance to a dog.

And that was why Naruto was able to march confidently through the side streets and alleys of Karakura Town, Japan.

Naruto wasn't much of a travel agent, but he knew a good town when he saw one, or rather, when he smelt one. Something strange was drawing him to Karakura Town, and it was something powerful. Whatever it was, it reeked with both death and life, and it drew Naruto to it like a bee to honey.

Naruto looked carefully around a corner, then dashed out from behind the rusty old dumpster in the alley. He was currently trying to flee from a particularly annoying dogcatcher, who had tried to coax him out of the alley to catch him. Yeah, like he was going to fall for that. He wasn't an infantia, a newborn. He knew what was good to avoid, and what was safe.

The Vulpes weaved in and out of the legs of the people standing and walking in the road. He knew that the dogcatcher wouldn't give up easily, but that didn't mean that he had to make it easier for him.

'Maybe I can hide in that place…' Naruto thought as he veered off of his original path, dashing through the open doors of the drab, shack-like building. Inside was a small room with shelves lined with goods, little slips of paper with prices printed on them in front of each different item. A shop, then. Naruto could appreciate a little shop. To, well, shop.

But there was a problem with shops that were still fully stocked, no matter what the outside appearance was.

"Oh, hell," Naruto hissed in his animalistic tongue. "There are people in here."

As quickly as he entered, he prepared to leave, but the door slammed closed, almost smashing his muzzle between the door and the doorway. He yelped and jumped backwards, tail twitching from a sudden overload of adrenaline and annoyance. Who would have the nerve to trap him, a Vulpes for crying out loud, inside of some human made store? Never mind the fact that the people in this land had no idea what a Vulpes was, and therefore what not to do when one wandered into a store.

The one who had dared to almost close the door on his nose was a short, young male, with flaming-red hair, wide eyes, and a sadistic grin on his face. The scent of the store clung tightly to his form. In fact, it was pretty much the only scent on him. He spent a lot of time in the store, apparently. Either way, the boy raised a massive bat high over his head, producing the weapon from nowhere. Naruto's fur bristled.

"Looks like we're having fox stew tonight!" he cackled, bringing the bat down heavily.

Naruto, though, was no pushover. He had been training his entire life so that he could adapt and fight in nearly any situation, and, strangely enough, one of his teachers had found it necessary to chase him with melee weapons and try and kill him with them. A bat was nothing. He simply side-stepped, and allowed the bat to smash straight through the floorboards of little shop. To Naruto, his movement had been leisurely, slow. But to the red-haired boy, who had already been swinging his bat faster than any human could hope, the fox had vanished and reappeared two feet away, looking as if he had never moved.

"My turn," Naruto warned, allowing a wicked grin to creep onto his maw. He planted his paws firmly, tensed the muscles in his neck, and then dropped his lower jaw. From deep inside one of his stomachs, a ball of fire shot forth, flying up his throat and out of his mouth to shoot with deadly precision right into the boy's face. Said child screeched in surprise and pain, swatting at his now-literally-flaming hair and face. Naruto froze, his expression one of surprise and confusion. He had nicked many a human with a ball of flame from his Eterna Flamma(2) before, and just coming near the flames had caused severe burns. This child, who was apparently incredibly resilient, took a direct hit, and all he had was a slightly reddened face, and a newfound case of "bad hair day."

And this is the scene that a man with blonde hair covered by a striped bucket hat walked in on.

For a moment he just stood there at the door leading to the back of the shop, blinking incomprehensively. He had left the front of the store for but three minutes to get a cup of tea from the kitchen, and all had been peaceful. Upon his return, he found a flaming child screeching and smacking at his own head, and a fox with the most comical look of surprise and confusion on its face.

The fox was quickly found infinitely more entertaining.

Its energy levels were, to put it simply, off the charts. It wasn't spiritual energy that the blonde man was feeling. No, it was something entirely different. This energy was thicker than that. It was like slow-moving magma, or molten metal compared to cool water. This energy was much heavier, if such a thing was possible, and, unlike spiritual energy, carried and intent. It carried malice. The malice wasn't necessarily focused on anything, and wasn't promising harm to anything, but that feeling was their, laying just below the surface.

The amount of reiatsu coming from the fox was nothing to scoff at, either.

So the blonde-haired man did the one thing that made sense to him. He walked up to the fox, dumping his cup of tea on the boy's flaming head as he went, and knelt down next to the animal, who turned to stare at him in confusion and more than a bit of caution.

"Are you a kitsune?" he asked, keeping his tone light and informal, but still carrying respect. The fox, for the longest time, just stared at him with the same expression. For a moment, the blonde man thought about convincing himself that he had been wrong.

"No," the fox said, his voice rough as his animalistic vocal cords worked around the very human words. "Kitsune is a term that is now used for a normal fox. The word you are looking for is "Vulpes." If you want to know if I am a Vulpes, then my answer is yes."

"Ah," the man said with a nod, as if speaking to a talking fox was completely normal. Well, he did know a talking cat, so a talking fox wasn't too much of a stretch. "Then allow me to introduce myself, Mr. Vulpes. My name is Urahara Kisuke, and this here is my shop, Urahara Shoten. The boy who was on fire is an employee of mine, Jinta. Say "hello," Jinta."

"He set my face on fire!"

"Very good," Urahara said with a nod. Naruto stared at the blonde man, slowly raising an eyebrow. The blonde man seemed…psychotic. Kind of.

"I am Vulpes Naruto. I would apologize for burning your employee, but he tried to kill me so that I could be his dinner. I'd rather not be eaten, thank you very much." Urahara nodded in complete understanding, and said:

"His pay will be docked for this."

"I don't get paid!"

"Ah, go away," Urahara whined, waving his hand in Jinta's direction. He sounded like a little kid, and continued to wine the same line repeatedly until Jinta finally gave up and stormed into the back.

"Not that this has not been entertaining," Naruto said, "but I'm on a mission, and must see it through. It was nice meeting you, Urahara Kisuke." Naruto turned to leave, but Urahara would have none of it. He appeared in front of Naruto as he tried to make his way to the door.

"Mission?" the blonde man inquired. "What mission?" Naruto's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Oh, come on! You can tell me! I promise I won't tell anybody! I mean, who would believe me, anyway?" Even though Soul Reapers saw amazing things every day, they still, strangely, did not believe in demons. Urahara was the only one who had ever held even a small amount of belief in them. Other Soul Reapers just assumed that Hollows were where the legend of demons had originated from. "And if you tell me your secret, I'll tell you one of mine! And, hey, maybe I can help you with your mission!"

"Why would you want to help?" Naruto asked, his look of suspicion still not leaving his furry face.

"I'm bored," the shopkeeper deadpanned, shrugging. Naruto still did not look entirely convinced, but he took a few more steps into the shop. Urahara smiled and clapped his hands gleefully.

He really was bored.

:::The Next Day:::

"I can't believe you're making me wear a collar!" Naruto hissed as he hobbled along next to Urahara on three legs, using the fourth to paw at the black strip of leather around his neck. Urahara smiled cheerfully, not at all put off by the small amount of killer intent focused in his direction.

"I never actually promised that you wouldn't have to wear a collar. You just told me you didn't want to wear one. I didn't respond, remember?"

"You seem much too happy about this arrangement. This collar-and-leash thing is all some diabolical ruse to keep me from backing out of our agreement, isn't it?!"

"Oh, Mr. Vulpes, how you see right through me," the crazy blonde man sighed, grinning. "You're the one who told me that the dogcatcher had been bothering you before you ran into my humble abode-"

"Humble my ass…"

"-and this way, he won't be able to bother you! Well, much. You might want to stick close when we're out in public."

'I don't even know why we're out in public!' Naruto thought grumpily.

After speaking to Urahara about his self-given mission, Urahara had told Naruto his own secret; he explained all about the world of souls to the Vulpes. Surprisingly, the demon had no idea about any of it. Sure, he had heard the stories of death gods and monsters that ate souls, and demons knew for a fact that the Shinigami was an actual being, but they had also assumed that the monsters that ate souls had been a reference to them.

Seems like both Soul Reapers and demons had been completely wrapped up in their own self-importance.

It was after Urahara's very lengthy explanation of the realm of spirits that he offered up an arrangement of sorts. Karakura Town was pretty much the epicenter of all things weird, at least, in their part of Japan it was. Strange things happening was the norm, so a group of demon foxes hiding out nearby wouldn't draw too much attention. In exchange for helping Naruto find a place for his skulk to take up residence near by, along with receiving lodgings with Urahara at his shop, Naruto would teach Urahara about the world of demons. The blonde-haired idiotic genius had explained that he was a scientist, first and foremost. He liked knowing things, and he knew nothing about demons.

It was a good arrangement, so Naruto had agreed.

And then out had come the collar and the matching leash.

'If Cassius saw me now, I would die,' Naruto thought, his ears pressed flat against his skull as yet another little child with sticky fingers ran up to pat the "cute doggy" on the head with much more force than was necessary. More than once a little girl had suggested to Urahara that he rename the Vulpes "Precious." It had taken all of Naruto's self control not to yell out that he was a male, dammit, right then and there.

"Oh, remember that spiritually-aware teen that got turned into a Soul Reaper that I told you about last night?"

"You mean who you described as "an exception to basically every rule ever?"" Naruto asked for clarification.

"Yes, that one. Well, he's approaching us right now with his Soul Reaper friend, so act cool." Naruto raised an eyebrow at the man who literally had him by the throat. "No talking."

"He's a spiritually-aware teenager, and she's a Soul Reaper. A talking fox shouldn't be too strange for them!" Naruto ranted, and Urahara smacked him on the top of the head.

"No talking in that weird language of yours, either. Even if it's just growling and barking."

Before Naruto could make some scathing retort, two people approached Urahara. One was a tall teenaged male with spiky orange hair and warm brown eyes. The other was what looked like a teenager female – but who smelled much older – that had short black hair and eyes a duller shade of purple than Naruto's own. They both had large amounts of power rolling off of them in waves, though the girl's was much less compared to the boy's. Hers was also slowly decreasing, dwindling away slowly. Naruto frowned, experimentally stretching out his chakra to prod at the energy. For a moment, the energy that the girl held hungrily sucked up the power that Naruto was offering. But after that split second was over, the girl's energy flinched away from Naruto's own, and her gaze snapped over to meet Naruto's. He made an effort to make his gaze appear as vacant as possible.

The boy was speaking to Urahara, snapping something about a cone or something, and Urahara responding about naming it. And then he randomly produced a fan, and waved it in front of his face with a jovial laugh. Naruto had to repress his own snort, both because Urahara's demand for Naruto to stay quiet made sense, and because the girl was still staring intently at him.

"What's with the fox, Mr. Urahara?" the female asked. Urahara's smile fell, and he glanced down at Naruto.

"He's just a friend," he responded evenly. This time Naruto did roll his eyes, not caring if the girl was scrutinizing him or not.

"…you're friends with a fox?"

"Yeah, well, you're friends with an orange!" Urahara shot back, pointing dramatically at the boy and his bright, spiky hair.

"The dumb animal's fur is the same color as my hair! You're friends with a furry orange! With a tail! And fleas!"

'I don't have fleas, you son of a-' Naruto shook his head, and plopped down heavily on the asphalt.

He had a feeling this was going to be a long argument.

:::The Next Morning:::

One of Naruto's primary abilities was fire, but even so, the sun was still incredibly hot, especially for someone who was covered in a thick coat of fur. He could breathe ice to cool himself down, sure, but the heat turned that ice into a cool vapor that quickly evaporated, and, if it clung to his fur, made it feel all the thicker. His current place of lounging in the shade didn't really help much. He would just go inside of the shop, but Jinta was inside.

Naruto and Jinta didn't really enjoy each other's presence.

There was really nothing to do but sit outside and wish the sun would stop being so persistent.

Urahara slowly waltzed out of the shop, and squinted up at the sun.

"You wishing you could put it out, too?" Naruto asked, lifting his head from where it had been resting on his front paws.

"Not put it out, but somewhere along those lines," he replied. He looked down to the orange Vulpes. "I thought you would have left to scout out a good place for you and your pack."

"Skulk," Naruto corrected with a twitch of an eyebrow. No matter how many times he correct Urahara, the man just refused to listen. Liked to utilize knowledge his ass. "You told me to not leave the shop unless you gave me permission, or if you were with me. Remember?"

"Oh…I said that?" Naruto nodded. "You sure?" Another nod. "Hm…wonder what I was thinking…"

"I thought that you were being extremely intelligent."

"You haven't been paying attention to my favorite personality, have you?"

"I've chosen to ignore it." Naruto pushed himself to his paws. "May I go, then?"

"Of course," Urahara said with a wave. "Do what you want."

Naruto was off before Urahara had a chance to finish his sentence, running easily on his paws down the narrow alley that contained Urahara's shop. His ears swiveled around, searching through all of the assorted sounds around him in search of a good way out of the city. The wilderness was best for Vulpes'. Technically, they could survive in the city, but that made the process of living much more tedious, especially with training the next generations, preparing for war, and just overall living. Thankfully, Karakura Town had no shortage of surrounding wilderness.

Naruto found a crowd and merged with it, following the general flow on the streets and sidewalks. Many of the people were young, and were wearing white shorts, or either gray pants or miniskirts. All of the similarly-dressed teens were filtering through a gate that led to a spacious courtyard, which in turn led into a large, concrete building that was probably the most boring shade of beige Naruto had ever seen. And he had stared at sand for three hours once.

Many of the teenagers were talking about subjects such as "math" and "history." Naruto understood the second word; while being trained, he had learned a lot of Vulpes history. But the words "math" and "P.E." confused him. That particular abbreviation could stand for any number of things. It could even be a reference to Latin, but that was unlikely. Latin was, after all, considered a dead language.

Curiosity getting the better of him, the fox demon followed the general flow of humans, trailing after them and weaving between their legs to get into the large building. Many of the females pointed and whispered as the orange fox with an amethyst-tipped tail walked through the halls as if it was completely normal, head swiveling around as purple eyes took in everything they could. But every hallway must also have an end, and Naruto soon found it. And then he realized something incredibly important.

He had been staring at everything, but not paying attention to where he had been going.

And he was lost.

Hopelessly lost.


"Oh, look, it's Mr. Urahara's pet," a vaguely familiar voice said from behind him. Naruto jumped and whirled around, coming face-to-knee with the orange-headed teen from the other day. "Ichigo," Urahara had called him. The girl was with him, too. "Rukia," if he wasn't mistaken. "For a second, I thought it was dog."

"Of course it's a fox!" Rukia barked. "How many orange dogs do you see?"

'How many humans to you see with orange hair?' Naruto wanted to ask, but refrained from doing so. He just settled for snorting on the outside, disguising it as a sneeze.

"On T.V.? A lot. In real life? There aren't many dogs in Karakura to begin with," Ichigo said with a shrug. "But I've never seen nor heard of a fox that's that color of orange, either. It's weird."

"It has the same colored fur as your hair. You just called yourself weird," Rukia pointed out, and quickly moved on before Ichigo could retaliate. "I wonder what it's doing here? Maybe it escaped from Mr. Urahara's shop?"

'Why does everybody keep referring to me as if I have no gender?' Naruto thought with a scowl. He was clearly a male! He was way bigger than a female Vulpes, and, in most species, the male was bigger than the female! Plus, Urahara had called him a male, multiple times, right in front of the two!

"Maybe…I know how to fix this!" Ichigo pounded his fist into his palm. "We shoukd kick it out of a window."

"We can't through Urahara's pet out of a window!"

'Great. First I have no gender, and now I'm a pet? Fantastic. Kill me now.'

"Yeah we can. It's simple. Just pick it up, open the window, and then throw it out. Simple," Ichigo said. "It'll probably land on its feet, anyway."

'You two are giving me a headache.'

"That's cats, Ichigo!"

"Same thing!"

"No, they're a totally a different breed of animal!"

'You could just tell me the way out of the building, you know. No? No. Right. Because you don't know I'll understand. Because Urahara told me not to tell anybody. I hate this.'

"Well, they're pretty much the same thing! It'll count!"

"And if Mr. Urahara's pet dies because you were wrong?"

"It looks close enough to a cat, we can just get him one of those! The idiot won't be able to tell the difference."

'Rutilus, I hate humans.'

"Yes he will, a fox looks completely different from a cat! Why don't we just call him and let him know his pet got out?"

"Because that's boring."

"Oh, my God, I can't take this anymore," Naruto snapped, halting Rukia and Ichigo in their argument. "You two are idiotic, almost as much as Urahara is himself, and trust me, that's quite a feat. Either tell me how to get out of here, or go be stupid somewhere else!"


"I'm quickly growing to hate you two, you know."

"Um, Rukia? Is that cat talking?"

"I'm not a cat!" Naruto barked, fur bristling. "Yes, yes, we get it, talking fox, so unexpected, scary. Fantastic. Tell me how to get out of here."

"How are you talking?!" Ichigo demanded. Naruto took a deep breath, and slowly let it out.

"Have you ever heard of a Vulpes?" Both shook their heads. "Of course you haven't. How about kitsunes?"

"Uh, duh? That's the word for fox," Ichigo scoffed.

"Not a few hundred years ago," Rukia said without looking away from Naruto, who met her gaze evenly. "It used to be the word for "demon fox." Is that what you are? A kitsune?"

"We go by the term "Vulpes" now, but yes. It's the same thing."

"You're the origin of that energy from yesterday," Rukia suddenly said. "The one that I felt when Ichigo was arguing with Mr. Urahara."

"Yes. Sorry about that. I was testing something. What you felt was my chakra." He sighed at their blank expressions. "Think of it as my form of reiatsu. And yes, I know all about reiatsu and Soul Reapers, and how you both are death gods. I'm a demon. Don't look so surprised." Naruto glanced back and forth, inspecting the walls. "Now, back to my original problem…how do I get out of here?"

"The front door," Ichigo said, and Naruto shot him a sarcastic look.

"Thank you, genius. Now can you tell me where that is?"

Considering Rukia was almost as new to the building as Naruto himself was, Ichigo was the one stuck giving the most detailed instructions to the demon as he could, carefully going through them multiple times under threat of having his soul yanked out of his body by Rukia. Since the final bell was going to ring soon, he just got it over with.

Once Naruto was sure that he had the directions down, he thanked the two, and turned to be on his way.

"I'm still a little confused," Rukia called after the fox as he trotted away.

"Then ask Urahara!" Naruto responded. "He knows everything."

"Of course he does."

Naruto chuckled at the muttered response, his keen hearing picking up every word.

Using the directions, he quickly found his way out of the building. He wrinkled his nose at the disgusting scent of garbage and oil on the air. Inside the building, the scent had been dampened by the smell of paper, perfume, and plastic. His nose had grown accustomed to the other scent. The return to the old, offending scent burned his nose, and made his throat tighten. It made his head spin, and made his stomachs roil.

'This is ridiculous,' Naruto thought as his chakra as well was upset. It wasn't because of the scent, though. There was something else on the air that was making his chakra buck like an untamed horse. Unceremoniously, he turned around, and marched right back into the large building filled with teenagers, the now-familiar scent washing over him and chasing away the smell of pollution. 'Might as well hide in here, then. Dammit.'

A few hours later of intense boredom, Naruto was lounging on the tops of the metal lockers, his tail hanging off the ledge and his head balanced on his forepaws. His ear flicked absently. Who knew that doing nothing for hours would be boring? Okay, everybody. But still. It was better than having his nose burned right off of his muzzle.

"Don't tell me you're still lost," a voice snorted from below.

Naruto raised his head off of his paws, and stared down at Ichigo and Rukia, who in turn stared up at him. He sniffed, and wrinkled his nose.

"Of course not. I know exactly where I am." Well, he knew how to get out of the building. He didn't actually know where he was. Close enough. "Is it a crime to not want to leave?"

"No," Ichigo replied slowly, "but it is a crime to stalk people."

"I'm not stalking anyone!" Naruto snapped, then ducked his head as a few passing teenagers turned to glance confusedly at the awkward trio. "The air of your city just smells awful, alright?"

"Ah." Ichigo smirked. "So you're trapped in here because you're a delicate flower."

Naruto bared his glistening fangs, a low growl rumbling in his chest. He stood up abruptly, the tops of his ears just barely brushing against the ceiling above him.

"No, there was just something that I noticed that I wanted to clarify." Naruto jerked his head towards Ichigo's right forearm. "Pull up your sleeve."

"What?" Ichigo snorted. "Why?"

"Just do it, or I'll bite you."

Ichigo rolled his eyes, but he unbuttoned the cuff of his gray jacket, and rolled up his sleeve, muttering to himself in annoyance. He present his forearm to the demon. Naruto cocked his head.

Etched into Ichigo's forearm was a thick scar, pale against his otherwise tan and smooth skin. While it looked like a scar, it looked anything from natural. It took the shape of the outline of a circle near the crook of his elbow, with the outline of a star inside. Striking out from the bottom of the circle was a jagged mark, almost like a lightning bolt, that ended right on his wrist.

Naruto blinked slowly, and raised an eyebrow. He leapt off of the top of the row of lockers, landing nimbly on his paws. Taking Naruto's movement as a silent dismissal, Ichigo rolled his sleeve back down.

"And the reason for that was…?" he trailed off.

"I already said. Clarification." He turned is head to glance out of a nearby window, wincing and mumbling in his animalistic tongue under his breath. "That was all I needed. I'll be going now."

"You make no sense!" Ichigo called after the fox as he trotted off. Rukia swatted him on the back of the head.

"Oh, and like you do?"

:::That Night, Urahara Shoten:::

"How was your trip around Karakura?" Urahara asked with a grin as Naruto entered the little shack-shop. Naruto plopped down next to the blonde ex-Captain.

"Horrible," he grumbled. "Your city smells worse than a badger demon that hasn't bathed in a year."

"I'm guessing that's bad?"

"Horrid." Naruto rolled over onto his back, and stretched his forelimbs up past his head. "May I ask you a question?"

"You just did, but go ahead. I'll give you another one, free of charge."

"You're too kind," the fox demon snorted humorlessly. He rolled over again. "Tell me what you know about Kurosaki Ichigo."

"The strawberry? His family owns a clinic in town, and he has an unusually high spiritual pressure, both for a human and someone of his age. It's what allows him to be a Soul Reaper without his soul being ripped apart whenever he tries to leave or reenter his true body. Now that I think about it, if Rukia hadn't given him her powers, he might have been able to become a Soul Reaper by himself. If he was given a little bit of training, of course."

"Anything else?" Naruto asked. "Particularly about the strange scar on his forearm?"

"Ah," Urahara sighed. "That. It's nothing, really. Not anything special."

"Then you shouldn't be bothered telling me about it." Urahara shook his head.

"I read in a book that I found in Soul Society's library long ago that there is going to be a War. The Last Great War, it was called. It was attached to a prophecy. The prophecy spoke of two individuals who would bear a mark, the same mark that Ichigo has on his forearm. The mark would bring a curse upon the bearers, where the fate of the world would rest squarely on their shoulders. They would have a choice: stop the war and sacrifice themselves, or sit back and watch as the entire world falls apart. But it said that, in order for the prophecy to come true, and in order for the War to start, there would have to be two beings that bore the mark, who would be living at the same time. There have been a countless number of beings that have bore the mark, but there was only one at a time. When there are finally two, it's said that the War will come no matter what, even if one or both of the mark-bearers are killed. Though, this is just a story I read in some ancient book. Who's to know if the book had any truth behind it?" Urahara looked to the demon fox. "Why ask, though?"

"No reason in particular. I noticed the mark. I was curious." Naruto opened his mouth to continue speaking, but a sudden crushing weight gave him pause, his throat constricting. His chakra began to fluctuate again, running out of check in his body, just as it had earlier that day. Urahara tensed, his grip on his ever-present cane tightening.

"What is that?" Naruto growled, his fur bristling. He bared his fangs. The feeling was odd, like that of a demon but different. A demon's energy carried the feeling of life with it, transmitting emotions like anger and hate. But this one didn't. This one was…blank. Empty. Hollow.

"That's the reiatsu of a Hollow," Urahara responded. The demon sprang to his paws, the fur along his tail puffing up so it was two times its original size.

"I'll take care of it." He looked to Urahara. "Do you think it'll be harmed by my chakra?"

"Probably not," the shopkeeper responded. "From what I understand, chakra is the energy of the living. Hollows are not alive, and they usually can't be harmed by anything from the World of the Living. You'd be better off leaving the Hollow to Ichigo and Rukia. They should deal with it soon."

"And while we wait for them to kill it, it'll cause destruction. I don't care much for humans, but being killed by a creature that is stronger than them, and that they can't see, just doesn't sit well with me. I'm no Soul Reaper, but I will still try to kill it." At the very least, he could stall the Hollow long enough for Ichigo and Rukia to show up.

"You'd be surprised," Urahara called as Naruto made his way for the open front door. He paused.

"What would I be surprised over?"

"You could be a Soul Reaper with the right training, just like Ichigo. You have a large amount of reiatsu, especially for someone that is still among the living." Naruto snorted, rolling his eyes.

"When demons die, they go to Hell. There's no reason for them to develop reiatsu. It's impossible. You're just feeling my chakra, Urahara." He continued on his way out of the shop, the shadows of the night beyond swallowing him.

"Maybe," Urahara muttered to himself, frowning. "Maybe not."

:::Karakura Park:::

'It figures that I finally find a park in this damn city, and it's being destroyed by a rampaging death-monster,' Naruto thought as he faced the giant gorilla-alligator with a face made of porcelain that was hunched in front of him. Up until when Naruto had stepped from the bushes to confront the beast, it had been smashing through a group of trees, and a playground placed not far from it. Now, though, all of its attention was focused on the little ball of demonic power.

Not waiting for the Hollow to attack, Naruto's lower jaw dropped, and he released a torrent of golden flames. They lashed out at the Hollow, clawing at its face and flesh, but nothing happened. It chuckled.

"Do you really think that will hurt me?" the Hollowasked, swatting away the flames as if they were nothing. "I've never felt this power before, but I like it. You'd make a much better meal than that fake Soul Reaper that I came here for!" The Hollow lunged, and with a yelp, Naruto dove out of the way, rolling off of his shoulder. The massive creature crashed into a tree, and before it could recover, Naruto attempted to use his flames again. Once again, they did nothing.

Grumbling in annoyance, he decided to try a different tactic. Focusing, he felt his Nex Glacies(3) in his right lung expand and contract, and with the action, a fast-moving blue cloud of mist shot from his mouth like a bullet. Wherever it touched, ice sprouted from nowhere, covering every surface that it could possible reach. Even as it completely encased trees and turned the grass into little, sharp, jagged needles, it did nothing to the Hollow.

'This is ridiculous!' Naruto thought, huffing. 'Urahara was right, I can't harm it. My chakra isn't even slowing the thing down! Damn it!'

The Hollow was suddenly on its feet again, and was lunging, fingers as thick around as a fully grown human reaching to ensnare the fox demon. Its screech rattled Naruto to his core.

As Naruto leapt back and forth, hoping that his energy would outlast the Hollow's, a thought occurred to him. It was a dumb thought, a ridiculous notion, but it made sense. Not to anybody else, but to him, it was actually plausible.

Urahara's idea was actually plausible.

'It's not, though!' Naruto thought. 'Demons don't actually die, they end. No death, no death-energy. It's impossible!'

But no other demon was like Naruto, either. While no demons could die, Naruto could. It was very unlikely, but it was possible for him.

As he dodged the lunges of the massive, empty soul, he focused half of his mind on searching through the massive reserves of his energy. He dug through it, completely ignoring all of his chakra that latched onto his consciousness, demanding that he just use it instead of digging through it in search of something that didn't exist. The thick energy was difficult to wade through, clinging to him, demanding more and more of his attention as he dug deeper.

And with that gain of attention on searching through his energy, came a loss of attention on the bigger problem.

And the Hollow that finally landed a blow.

The short claws on its thick fingers dug into his side, the force of the blow shattering two of his ribs and fracturing four others. The force of the blow sent him flying into a tree, which collapsed under the force.

What the Hollow wasn't aware of, was that the hit rattled Naruto's mind, both literally and figuratively.

And it knocked him directly into a massive well of energy that Naruto had never felt before, energy that was so light and free, it made him feel like he was walking on air.

Just as quickly as he had been thrown into the well of energy, he was yanked forcefully back out. But as his subconscious left the giant gathering of light energy, it created a tunnel through his chakra, a wide, gaping hole that led to the forefront of his mind.

Without even realizing it, Naruto shot back to his paws, and lunged. His claws became coated in an airy orange energy, wrapping around his claws and paws as he slashed them through the mask of the Hollow.

It screeched and fell, slowly disintegrating into small particles that vanished in the breeze.

For the longest while after the Hollow disintegrated and the energy around Naruto's claws disipated, Naruto stood silently, his sides heaving, blood trailing through his fur from a cut over his left eye. Finally, he blinked.

"Um, okay," he said slowly, confusedly. "What?"

There. There's the first chapter of "Vulpes Alveus." Damn, it's going to take a while to get used to that name! Sorry for the trouble, since the name is kinda weird…yeah. Anyway, my laptop's broken, so I still won't be too good at updating. I'll do my best, though. Only if I get enough reviews, though. I like reviews…right…alright, the numbered terms are below here.

**1** Rutilus – Crimson

**2** Eternal Flamma – Eternal Flame

**3** Nex Glacies – Death Ice

Edit (October 13, 2013): Okay, so the chapter went up by about one-thousand characters from the original. And this editing thing is tedious. XD Oh well. There we go. Chapter one is edited.

~ Kitsune-242