First time posting here so please note that I'm still getting used to formatting on this site. This fic is more plot driven than sex-oriented.
Chapter 1- Decision
"You gotta move faster kid!" Jiraiya barked as he sidestepped Naruto's fist and delivered a vicious slap to the boy's skull. "And don't just throw yourself into your attacks, anticipate your opponent's moves and ALWAYS be prepared to react accordingly! Haven't you learned anything over the past two years?"
Nothing I couldn't have learned back home.
Naruto shook his head, physically trying to dislodge the snarky thought as he tried to think up a way to defeat his mentor. He took too long though, and Jiraiya capitalized brutally with a fist almost shearing through his abdomen in retaliation.
"Never drop your guard!"
The blond gritted his teeth, biting back the pain as he grabbed on to the offending fist with one hand and slammed twin retaliatory blows to his mentor's snarky mug.
It dissolved into mud beneath him.
His eyes widened by a hair and he immediately replaced himself with a tree branch.
A moment later, the branch was skewered by a thousand muddy needles.
'Fuck it!' Naruto swore as he imediately began to creep through the underbrush. 'I need to get my head in the game!'
No offense, man, but is there really a point? I mean, you're here getting beat up by one man. A Sannin, granted, but just ONE man. Sasuke's getting his ass in gear with the resources of an entire Village. A minor one, admittedly, but they've got their own Sannin and a genius to boot. Not to mention ol' Four-Eyed Kabuto with his insane skills and, if the Sound Four and the freaky bone guy are any indication, a whole squad of jonin level shinobi. The Perv's training you like you're going up against a single enemy while the guy who will be going up against a single enemy's getting prepped for an all out war.
'You're…' Naruto snapped out of his almost trance-like state with a violent jerk. Realizing how close he had come to agreeing withthe voice in his head, the blond clamped down on all thoughts and focused on taking his mentor down with a vengeance…
"Come on boy!" Jiraiya whined, chasing after a briskly walking Naruto on his knees. "I need the cash!"
"To chase some hooker, no doubt." Naruto scoffed as he marched away.
Jiraiya's expression, though, had gone from pleading to disturbingly perverse. "Oh~ kid you had to have seen her! That wasn't just some hooker, she was an absolute BABE! Tits as big as my head and an ass you could bounce a coin off! And her legs!"
THIS is what I'm training with? The perverted idiot of the Sannin? So, Sasuke's getting trained by the genius of the Sannin, a direct contender for the Big Hat alongside the Yellow Flash and the guy that ended the Old Man's stellar life and we're getting trained by the Perverted Sannin. Wonderful. No, fuck sarcasm! Even Sakura had a better deal. At least her Sannin won't bug her for cash so she could go check out strippers and shit. I mean for the love of- Orochimaru's a fucking genius! He's on a similar level to the fucking Fourth Hokage! He's a verified sword master. He knows more ninjutsu techniques than most shinobi ever get to even witness! Sasuke, the angst ridden gay emo gets THAT guy and you're stuck with the guy who's biggest claim to fame is that he trained the Fourth? Is there anyway you could have come up with an even worse deal?!
"Shut the fuck up and leave me alone!" Naruto roared angrily.
Jiraiya, who had been caught mid-rant when his apprentice snapped, simply thought he might have pushed the limit and decided to head into the brothel on his own. The madam of the house knew him well and, unlike his busty teammate, he had a reputation for maintaining minimal, if any, debts.
Had he bothered to dig deeper, he might have figured that something was off with his apprentice…
"So, Naruto, what's the first thing you wanna do when we get back to Konoha?" Jiraiya asked. Himself and his apprentice were relaxing in a meadow a few miles away from the Land of Bears, taking the day off to relax and unwind. "Me, I'm gonna hit up Tsunade first; see if she's finally come around to my manly charms."
"The only thing manly about you is your hair, Pervy Sage." Naruto shot back with a grin. "And even that's longer than most women wear their hair."
"Oi! Don't diss these locks you little brat!"
"I'll diss 'em when I want to old man!" The blond shot back playfully.
For the next few moments, nothing came up until Jiraiya spoke again. "I'm still waiting for your answer kiddo."
To be honest, Naruto wasn't quite sure of what he wanted; over the past few weeks, doubts and fears had set into his heart and, no matter how hard he tried to ignore them, they had burrowed in deep. He did, however, know what to say to his mentor. "First things first, I wanna see Sakura-chan again! She must have grown quite lots with Baa-chan training her! I bet she'll be really awed by how I've grown too! Might even get her to go out with me."
Where he lay, a few paces away, Jiraiya winced. "Might not wanna get your hopes on that kiddo."
See? Even your mentor doesn't believe you stand a chance with the pink haired board.
"I mean, she's always had her hopes strung up on the Uchiha right?" Jiraiya continued, not noticing the conflicted look on his protege's face. "I know a number of people might believe that that's all a kids' dream but… Look man, take it from someone in similar shoes… You really should get your heart off that train. Even the whole 'save the Uchiha' train… I think you should be prepared for the kid not wanting to come back; Orochimaru's a skilled manipulator and if I know that bastard anywhere close to what I think I know, then he'll have done his absolute best to turn the Uchiha against you."
Naruto hadn't heard a word of Jiraiya's, his mind clouded by dark thoughts, until Jiraiya had talked about Orochimaru corrupting Sasuke beyond redemption.
It was the final push; the emotions he had bottled up, from his lonely Academy years right up to that moment, broke forth like a dam…
When Naruto opened his eyes, he expected to find himself on a cot in one of Jiraiya's many bunkers, wrapped up in bandages and feeling the burn of his chakra coils as they healed. His sense of timing was all messed up but the last few moments before slipping into unconsciousness were still fresh in his mind…
The rage… the pain…
He remembered everything…
Right up to the moment his control had slipped and the red haze of his biju's chakra blurred everything out of sight…
Guilt wasn't a strong enough term for what he felt as he returned to consciousness.
All that rage turned into a bubbling pit of rage when he fully noticed his surroundings.
Red walls, huge pipes, a never ending flow of water…
He was within his own mind, at the bridge between himself and the seal.
"Kyubi." His voice was like steel as he pushed to his feet and began storming down the cathedral-like hallway. Things were beginning to make sense now; he had never been one to be bothered by dark thoughts, his childhood having taught him that the only way to remain even slightly sane was to ignore all dark thoughts, so the barrage of discouraging and disquieting questions he had been plagued by over the past couple of weeks just had to have been caused by the Nine-Tailed Fox. It would also explain why he had so readily been consumed by its power; his actions had never truly been his own.
"Blaming me for everything again?"
The thundering boom of the Kyubi snapped him out of his rage-filled fugue as he realized that he had arrived at the gates.
The shock barely lasted two seconds before being drowned out by rage.
"Blaming you?! What, I should be thanking you?! You have been pouring your hate-filled tripe into my head, filling my every waking thought with your bullshit and then taking advantage of me to try to get free!"
"Funny how you came to that conclusion."
Naruto stood back and crossed his arms over his chest. "There's a different conclusion?"
The Fox resting on its haunches, cracked open a crimson eyelid. "Are you interested? Or was that just plain sarcasm?"
"Oh no, let's hear your side of the story." Naruto shot back. "I mean, I wouldn't want to judge you wrongly or anything."
"Well then… First off, you said I'd been filling your head with my 'hate-filled tripe', congratulations on rightly using the tripe by the way, you're getting just a bit less stupid."
"Is there a point to all this?"
"Don't interrupt, that's rude. Anyway, I'd like to ask: which of those 'mental assaults' of mine was actually filled with hate?"
The blond immediately opened his mouth to fire off a snarky response…
And found himself gaping instead as he simply couldn't think of a single instance.
The Kyubi flashed its teeth at him in a macabre grin. "Nothing? Well, let's move on shall we? Point two: why exactly do you think I've been the one doing the head-filling?"
This time, Naruto was ready and he immediately spouted a number of reasons related to him not having such fears ordinarily.
"You done?" The Kyubi asked after his impassioned response. Upon receiving the blond's nod, the biju proceeded to laugh its ass off, even thrashing about in hilarity-induced spasms for good measure. "Oh damn kid! You are hilarious! You really think I could simply walk through your mind and suss out your deepest, darkest fears to manipulate you? Abruptly, the biju's features became fierce. "Newsflash you nitwit: this seal prohibits even a single hair on my tail from slipping out! I sure as hell can't go zipping through your cranium. And don't even get me started on that stupid idea that I'd spend my time watching you do human things; I couldn't care less about your puny existence either way!"
"Says the creature that's recorded as a mass of hate!"
"By whose records? Humans? The same people that see you as my spawn? The same species that hate you indiscriminately even though they created the means to create more jinchuriki in the first place?" The biju's scathing response was like a hammer strike to his already weakened belief, a fact that the biju saw and mercilessly pounced upon. "I didn't send those thoughts to you, boy, they were born of your own thoughts." This time, the biju's voice was low and almost soothing. "And I think you know why such thoughts cloud your mind."
Naruto turned away from the cage and took a step forward… before going still.
He did know; for the longest time he had suspected as much but he had consciously shoved it down and piled on tons of false optimism to bury it.
He wasn't strong enough.
Whether he liked it or not, he just wasn't strong enough on his own to attain his goals. He had been cheated in the Academy, yes, but he had been out for more than four years, a great portion of which had been spent with Jiraiya, and he could see no significant changes.
He wanted to be the Hokage, he wanted to earn the respect of the people… he wanted to fulfill his promise to Sakura and bring Sasuke back.
And he just. Wasn't. Strong. Enough.
Behind him, the biju watched as he struggled to make a decision with a satisfied smirk. True to its word, it had not sent the thoughts to the young shinobi. That didn't mean it was totally innocent either; a gradual diversion of its chakra into the boy's yin chakra had been all that was required for his repressed thought to resurface and weaken that resolve he was so proud of. Now, as the biju watched, reading into every nuance of his body language, it knew it had succeeded.
The time to reap the benefits was near; the final step was…
"So why are you telling me now?"
The biju's smirk turned savage. The boy wanted to know; the interest was there.
"In my time here, I have come to understand what power means to you humans," it lied, "and as such I am willing to sign a contract with you."
The human scowled. "A few hours ago, I'd have ranted about you wanting my soul or seeking an escape but now… Details. I want details."
The biju chuckled, the sound booming out in waves that rattled his teeth. Nevertheless, Naruto stood, glaring at the biju; awaiting answers.
"Perhaps your time with the old man wasn't a complete waste; you certainly seem more intelligent." Abruptly, the humor disappeared from the biju's countenance and the creature rose up, resting on its hind legs. "You humans see us as walking masses of chakra, an opinion that never ceases to baffle me. After all, if we walked around wreaking havoc everywhere then your history should have been significantly altered by our actions.
"In my time walking among your kind, I learned a great deal; fighting styles, meditation techniques and forms of chakra manipulation that have long since been lost to the ravages of time. It is these I offer you; the power to command the very elements, to become an unstoppable force on the battlefield… Everything I know, I freely give.
"However, I understand how impatient your kind are, no doubt as a result of your short lifespan, and so I offer you something more: balance."
"I don't understand."
"I did not expect you to. You see, at its root, chakra is of two forms: Yin chakra and Yang chakra. You possess an overabundance of the latter yet very little, comparatively speaking, of the former. It is this imbalance that has limited your progress in the illusory arts. I can fix this."
If nothing else had caught his attention, the biju knew that this certainly would.
Once again, it wasn't wrong.
"I will, with your permission, channel a minute fraction of my chakra through you. Without going into specifics, it will forcibly jump start the creation of Yin chakra within your coils and, over a period of about five days, your chakra circulatory system will gradually attain an equilibrium state, generating an equal amount of Yin chakra as it does Yang chakra."
Naruto's face went slack as he considered the sheer implication of that singular benefit. "My chakra reserves… they'll…"
"Double?" The biju prompted. "At the very least."
The offer seemed too good to be true; learning ancient styles of combat, gaining the ability to use genjutsu, an increased chakra capacity? Naruto wanted to take it. Practically every brain cell he had screamed at him to ump on the offer.
Then, his eyes narrowed. "At what cost?"
An offer that was so mouth-watering had to bear a cost.
The biju glared at him, seemingly sizing him up yet again, before speaking. "An offer as this should bear a great number of requirements, boy, but I will only ask of two things from you; the first and the greatest is trust." The biju leaned forward until its snout was a mere inches away, separated by the bars that held it locked away. "I will not tellyou what the second cost is until you have signed my contract."
Naruto was torn.
On one hand, he would very likely be selling his soul over to a demon because, regardless of what the biju would have him believe, indoctrinated beliefs didn't die out over a mere chat.
On the other, much heavier, hand, he would be granted the kind of power that he had always desired; the kind of power that would help him achieve his goals.
'I'm going to be the Hokage someday, Iruka-sensei! Believe it!'
'I'll get Sasuke back for you, Sakura-chan! That's a promise of a lifetime!'
'I never go back on my words! That's my ninja way! Believe it!'
A wise man once said: 'A man is undone by the words of his own mouth.'
"What do I do?"
That man was right.
"Step into the cage, boy, and hold out your arm to your side."
This was it.
It was one thing to agree to a thing but, when confronted with the enormity of their decision, many wavered and most backed down.
They were not Uzumaki Naruto.
With a confident stride that betrayed none of his apprehension, the shinobi stepped out of his realm and into the demon's lair.
The biju reared upward, sucking in a deep breath, its eyes never leaving his.
Don't move, it seemed to say, just before it lurched forward, the dull orange glow in the back of its throat the only warning Naruto had before being engulfed in flame.