So, here's the first chapter of the remake of New Frontiers. Fair warning beforehand: the first chapter will look a LOT like the first. However, I'm going to be throwing in some obvious changes and hopefully make improvements to the existing document.
I hope you all enjoy. Happy 25th Birthday to me! Free cake for everybody!
…Sadly, the cake is a lie…
Please note: pain17ification owns nothing
New Frontiers V2
Chapter 1: The New Researcher
"Start the test," ordered a woman wearing a silvery blue lab coat. She had brown hair that was curled upward, light green eyes, and an impressive figure. Beneath her coat, she wore a white shirt, a green skirt, and a pair of black kunoichi sandals while her ears held a pair of red diamond earrings.
"Yes, Professor," answered one of the woman's aides.
The man started up a machine that was scanning a creature that looked like a bipedal coconut tree with the three "fruit" that bore faces. A bright blue light moved around the creature for a few moments while data poured onto a trio of computer screens. The Professor eyed each screen thoroughly, not perturbed by the high speed at which the data was being presented.
After some more moments of waiting, the scan ended and the results printed out beside the leftmost screen. She ripped off the paper and skimmed through the report before nodding with a smile.
"No more abnormalities. That's good to see." She set down the sheets and turned to the aide that had initiated the test. "Let the young Yamanaka know that his partner is perfectly fine. They just needed to get used to their evolution."
The aide nodded and left the lab to pass on the message while the Exeggutor was led out of the chamber it was being tested in. The Professor was about to check her computer for any messages when the lab doors opened, revealing a young man that rushed in while hastily putting on a white coat that matched hers.
The young had man red hair that was wild and bushy, untamed as it fell down to his mid-back while being tied around his neck area (1). His eyes were a bright and expressive blue that he had inherited from his father's side of the family while his slightly rounded face and tanner skin tone came from his mother's. Beneath his own coat, he wore a black shirt with a red swirl over his heart, russet orange cargo pants with deep pockets, and black shinobi sandals. Acting as a belt was his recently acquired ninja headband that had a black cloth. The last thing noteworthy about the young man were the whisker styled birthmarks on his cheeks.
"Naruto," greeted the Professor with a smile. "Glad you made it. And congrats on passing." Her smile was joined by a wink. "I never doubted you."
He rubbed the back of his head bashfully at her praise. "Thanks, Professor Juniper. I rushed over as soon as the graduation ceremony was over. Mom wants me home later for a celebration."
"Did Minato show up for your graduation?"
His cheer noticeably dropped as he answered, "No, dad was held up by work."
She saw he was fighting a frown and she smiled reassuringly while patting his shoulder. "Well, a Hokage's job is practically never-ending, Naruto. You know this by now."
"Yeah, I know," sighed out the redhead. "But still, Aunt Cynthia takes time to visit often even though she's busy. She caught me while I was on my way here before she went to go talk to dad."
The female Professor fought a scoff at that. 'More like chew out her older brother for not being there for his own son's graduation,' mused Juniper. "Well, I have some great news for you."
"You do? What is it?"
The way he tilted his head in curiosity nearly made her squeeze him to death. He had an adorable expression just like a Zorua! "I know you've been incredibly interested in Pokémon ever since you first visited my lab as a child. You even come over every day after your classes and shadow me whenever you can."
He looked sheepish and guilty at the same time, looking more endearing in her eyes.
"I also know that you've been feeling some pressure lately considering who your family is."
At this, she saw his shoulder sag in exhaustion and her heart went out to him. However, her smile returned when she held out an approved form.
"That's why I've decided to request you as a Field Researcher under my guidance." Her smile grew as she finished, "And it was accepted!"
"Wait, what? Really?!" he asked in excitement as he took the form and read it over. Sure enough, it had a seal of approval; though the seal itself was shocking. "Aunt Cynthia approved of this?"
"Well, being the Grand Champion of the Elemental Nations grants her some privileges; one of them being the authority to approve of a form like this for her nephew. No need to ask your father about it now that it's already approved."
"Whoa…" he breathed out, forced to sit down in his shock. "I… I never thought she'd do this for me…"
"I'm not surprised," Juniper said as she sat in a chair next to him. "I've seen how much she dotes on her precious Naru-chan." A smirk formed on her face at his embarrassed blush. "She wants the best for you, but she also knows how much you want to be your own person. Just be sure to thank her for this because learning under a Professor is a big opportunity, if I may be so humble to say."
He nodded and smiled at her. "I can't wait to get started, Professor."
"Glad to hear it. Now, today I'll give you an improved tour of the lab and introduce you to my aides. Unlike you who will learn from me directly, my aides work for me and the village. They've already found the careers they want to follow. But you?" she smiled. "You'll be sent out to research various locations and report your findings back to me. Who knows? You may even find some new frontiers waiting to be discovered."
He laughed with her, but she saw the fire in his eyes at the prospect. "I just might, Professor."
She smiled a bit brighter and gently placed a hand on his back, leading him through the halls of the Leaf Village Pokémon Lab. 'I have no doubt about your potential Naruto-kun. I couldn't have asked for a better student.'
That was a cry of feminine rage that was heard for many miles from the Hokage Tower. The culprit of such a vocal outburst was a woman with long and smooth blonde hair that curled at the ends while also covering her left eye. The visible right one was a fierce gold, like her mother before her, and was filled with anger while her arms were crossed beneath her generous bust. She wore predominantly black clothes with the most signature of them being her cardigan that had fur lining her sleeve openings and along the hem.
This was Cynthia Namikaze, younger sister of the Fourth Hokage, Minato, and doting aunt of Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze. She was giving said elder brother a hard look while her ever faithful Garchomp stood by her side. Beside the Hokage was his own partner which was a Lucario that was colored yellow instead of the natural blue.
"I can't believe you missed your own son's graduation! What kind of example are you setting for Naru-chan with acts like this?! I won't have my sweet baby nephew take after such an irresponsible father like you!"
Let it be known that Cynthia cared for her nephew very much; possibly a bit too much if one asked certain parties. Yes, she doted on him and possibly spoiled him; but sometimes she got a bit possessive of the boy. If one were to ask Naruto's mother, Kushina Uzumaki, how to describe Cynthia's behavior towards the whiskered redhead, said mother would give a single, hyphenated definition: Nephew-con.
It was a dark secret of the Elemental Nation's Grand Champion, and yet it was one she wouldn't be ashamed to agree with. True, she loved her fiancé very much because he completed her and kept her grounded; but she couldn't deny the bond and connection she felt for her nephew from the moment she laid eyes on him. To her, he was someone she needed to keep safe and close to her breast; both in a metaphorical and sometimes literal sense.
Jiraiya still called the oblivious boy a lucky bastard; much to the aggravation of the boy's female family members.
Of course, Naruto never caught wind of anything about the woman's feelings other than immense affection for himself. The way he saw it, Cynthia was just overprotective and spoiling; and he was alright with that. Everyone else, even his future uncle-in-law Itachi Uchiha, found this both amusing and exasperating. The young man was just too oblivious for his own good.
But back to her outburst. Minato gave his younger sister a guilty smile and tried to plead his case. "N-Now sis, you know that I need to finish preparations for the annual trip to the Safari Zone for the graduating Genin. With most of the class consisting of clan heirs, the process has really given me a lot to handle."
"NO EXCUSES!" she yelled dramatically, pointing a finger at his face and nearly jabbing him on the tip of his nose. "Your son was looking forward to seeing his whole family for his graduation and you cooped yourself here in this office without even so much as a quick stop to congratulate him! I was lucky enough to make it in time to catch him in the street before I met up with the rest of you later tonight! If I had missed my Naru-chan before then…"
An arctic shiver crawled up her spine. She couldn't finish, for the very thought of being unable to give her own congratulations to her sweet Naru-chan was too much for her! She forced herself to take deep breaths so as not to shed any tears at the image of a "heartbroken" Naruto.
"It's okay, it's okay. You saw Naru-chan just in time, Cynthia. No need to panic," she muttered while hugging herself, making her brother and the two Pokémon sweatdrop at her antics.
"Look Cy-chan, I'll make it up to Naruto later tonight; I promise. I have the perfect graduation present for him." He chuckled fondly as he looked out the window. "He'll grow up to become a splendid Hokage; just like me."
Cynthia stopped the dramatics at that, settling for a calm face that betrayed nothing. It was a face she wore whenever she was taking things seriously; mainly battles that got her blood pumping. Unfortunately, those battles were much too scarce for her tastes.
"If you say so," she bid before taking her leave with her partner. She had a feeling what the gift was for her only nephew.
And if what she had heard from Professor Juniper while they talked earlier was true, her Naru-chan might not be so happy about it.
"Who's a good girl?" cooed Naruto as he petted a female Zigzagoon who was being looked over by Nurse Joy.
The Pokémon Medical Center where she worked at was a part of the Leaf Village Lab and Naruto was helping Joy look over some of her patients. Juniper had been called away by a couple of her aides for something that didn't concern him; so, she had requested for him to help Joy.
"I think she likes you," giggled the pinkette nurse as she gave the Pokémon a shot. Said Pokémon was purring in delight at Naruto's ministrations. "Ne, Naruto-san, may I ask you something?"
"Sure," he replied, not stopping his petting.
"I was just wondering, why did you choose to pursue a Researcher role when you have such a pedigree? I mean, your father is the Hokage, your aunt is Grand Champion, and your mother is one of the Land of Fire's top Pokémon Breeders. It just seems odd that you wouldn't become a Trainer."
"It's because of my pedigree that I don't want to be a Trainer," he answered truthfully, surprising her. "My father leaves a big shadow, Joy-chan; one that I'm struggling to get out of. Combined with the shadows made by the rest of my family, it's practically expected of me to follow in their footsteps. And say that I did and I was incredibly successful. Where do you think others would say I got most of that success from?"
She took a moment to think over her answer. "…They'd most likely say that you got the skills needed because you're related to them."
"Exactly. Most people already refer to me as the second coming of my father. I don't want to be seen as just his son; I want to make a name for myself as something else." He smiled as he scratched the Zigzagoon behind her ear. "I love Pokémon. I love studying them and learning everything I can from them. I want to see more of them, whether it's out in the fields, caves, oceans; anywhere! I want to see how they live and if having a Trainer makes a major difference in their growth or life." He then sighed sadly. "I can't do that by staying in the shadows of my family."
"I know exactly what you mean," commented a woman's voice. Turning to the source, both Joy and Naruto were greeted to the sight of an Inuzuka girl that had a trio of Mightyena at her side.
"You're Hana, right? Kiba's sister?"
She nodded with a smirk. "Got it in one. And I understand exactly where you're coming from, Naruto-san. Most Inuzuka become either Rangers or Trainers as they grow in their shinobi careers. I never really had an interest in those careers since I enjoy treating Pokémon and helping them stay healthy. So, I decided to branch out from the norm and became a Pokémon Nurse."
"And how did your family take your decision, Hana-san?" asked Joy.
"Some of them gave me a bit of a hard time, but my mother supports my decision and put the naysayers in their place. She's proud of my choice and how I can help both the village and Pokémon in general."
Naruto sighed again. "You got off easy then. Dad's been really pushing me to become a Trainer and he keeps going on and on about how I'll be a great Hokage just like him." He used air quotes for the comment, frowning as he did so. "Mom's more understanding and just gives me a few breeding pointers here and there; which I admit are really helpful. But to be honest, most of my support comes from Professor Juniper and Aunt Cynthia."
"Well, you really only have to remember one crucial thing, Naruto-san," Hana stated as she led her Pokémon out of the lab. Giving him an assuring smile, she finished, "It's your choice to make; not theirs."
Soft humming could be heard as a female teenager with forest green hair and matching eyes browsed through the farmer's market for fresh fruits. She had light skin, a budding figure, and wore black kunoichi sandals, dark brown pants, a light green shirt, and a forest green cardigan over it all while her village headband was loosely wrapped around her neck. As for her hair, it was long enough to reach past her waist and was tied in a braid that rested in front of her over her right shoulder.
This was Cheryl Kawamura (2), one of the recent graduates of the Hidden Leaf and one of Naruto's closest friends. Because of his support, she had strived to start a career as a Pokémon Breeder; however, she was planning on starting a Pokémon Care Center that could work alongside the Pokémon Medical Center.
A basket had its handle loop resting on her left arm while her right hand held up an apple for her to inspect. "Nice and ripe," she praised to no one before setting the fruit with the others in her basket.
Cheryl grabbed some more produce and paid for them before she headed for home. Along the way, she caught sight of some familiar silvery-blue hair and smiled as she approached the owner.
"Good afternoon, Karen," she greeted kindly, earning the attention of the other girl. "Reading up on the Elite Four again?"
The new girl had her flowing silvery-blue hair down just below her waist and matching eyes. She wore a yellow halter top that stopped above her stomach, white pants that stopped at her lower calves and were held up by her headband's black cloth, and uniquely yellow ninja sandals.
This was Karen Hatake, Cheryl's best friend and another of Naruto's. She had a fascination for the obscurity that is Dark Type Pokémon, and she was excited that the Leaf Champion, Itachi, had given that type some notoriety. Her goal was to keep making a name for Dark Types by becoming a member of the Elite Four.
A smirk formed on Karen's face as she answered, "You know it. I've said time and again that I'll be taking one of their spots after I became a kunoichi. How're things at home?"
"They're fine. My parents are proud of me for graduating and they keep giving me advice on how to be more prepared when we go to the Safari Zone. What about you?"
Karen rolled her eyes with a smirk. "You know my old man; aloof as ever, even when congratulating me. Still, it was pretty funny watching mom brain him with that rolling pin." She snickered at the memory while Cheryl tried to be polite and hide her giggling.
"Any idea who you'll want on your team?" Cheryl asked after getting her giggles under control.
"You mean besides you?" Karen fired back in amusement.
"Oh! I didn't think you'd want me on the team since we're choosing different goals…"
"Nonsense! We could always use someone who knows how to take care of Pokémon out there; and I don't think I could trust anyone else to look after mine when we're out and about."
Blushing bashfully, Cheryl replied, "T-Thank you, Karen…"
"Aww… You're just so adorable!" gushed the silverette as she hugged the greenette to her, furthering the poor girl's blush at the scene they were making.
"K-Karen! Please let go!" she begged.
"No way! Not until I get my hugs in!" teased the Dark enthusiast, prompting Cheryl to weep comical tears in embarrassment.
'I'm never going to live this down!' she mentally cried in anguish.
It was later that day in the evening that we find Naruto sitting outside in his home's backyard. Tables had been set up with plenty of food and drinks for the guests and the young Uzumaki smiled at seeing his family all together. His parents were having a discussion with his godparents, and he saw that his godfather had said something inappropriate since his godmother whacked him upside his head. Beside them were their partners which consisted of his father's Lucario, his mother's Ninetales, and his Godfather's Politoed that was seated beside his godmother's Medicham.
Off to the side was his Aunt with her Garchomp. She had her arm linked around her fiancé's while the two spoke to Professor Juniper. Beside Itachi was his Honchkrow that regarded the Uzumaki and tipped his hat-like head to the boy in greeting. As for Juniper, she had her Volcarona hovering beside her while it enjoyed a sitrus berry.
His father's two students – who also happened to be married to one another – were talking to his godmother's niece and apprentice, Shizune Kato. Kakashi had his loyal partner, Absol, at his side while Rin was joined by her Audino and Shizune held her Bellossom in her arms. They were all enjoying a dish of sake as they talked, smiling all the while.
As for Naruto, he was seated between Karen and Cheryl on a porch swing while his cousin, Tayuya, sat on a chair next to them.
Tayuya Uzumaki was around the same age as Naruto and had her red hair smoothed out as it fell to her lower back; just above her waistline. Her brown eyes held a level of intelligence and mischief that Uzumaki were infamous for, and her budding figure already got her some fanboys; much to her irritation.
She wore black sandals that led up to maroon pants with her black headband acting as the belt. The pants held a holster for her family's flute; her weapon of choice. Her top drew inspiration from the infamous Anko Mitarashi, being a long-sleeved chain mesh shirt that covered a black sports bra. Over it all, she wore a short-sleeved, unzipped red jacket with the Uzumaki insignia on the back in black. Finishing off her look was a cap that pressed down on her hair and made some bangs fall just between her eyes.
"So, are you girls excited about tomorrow?" he asked them.
"What do you think, Whiskers?" Tayuya fired back with a smirk. "I'm ready to kick some ass and take names."
The other three chuckled at her exuberance, knowing she got it from hanging around Naruto's mother too much. It was a miracle the mouthy redhead didn't pick up a verbal tic of her own.
"I'm pretty nervous, actually," Cheryl admitted. "I just hope that whoever I partner with will like me."
"What's not to like?" Naruto asked simply, making her smile gratefully. "Just be yourself and your Pokémon will love you, Cheryl; I have no doubt."
"Thank you, senpai," she thanked, earning a face palm from him.
"How many times do I gotta tell ya not to call me that?"
Giggling, Cheryl didn't answer him while the other girls laughed at Naruto's plight. "I'm pumped," Karen answered his earlier question. "Now that we've graduated, that's just one step conquered. I still have many more to go; but that's only got me more excited rather than worried."
"Well, nothing ever seems to get you down, Karen," Naruto noted thoughtfully. "Just don't lose that confidence and I bet you'll make it all the way to the Elite Four."
"Yeah~" Tayuya drawled out with a deadpan expression. "Just like you said you would…every damn day since we started the Academy."
Karen had the decency to blush at the fact, coughing to compose herself. "No need to bring a girl down for speaking her mind…"
She managed to prevent herself from jumping in her seat when she felt Naruto wrap an arm around her shoulders. "You just gotta show her that what you said was more than words. Actions speak much louder, remember?"
Her cheeks flushed a deeper red at that, and she averted her face away from his blue eyes. They always managed to take her breath away. "W-What about you, Naruto?" she asked. "Are you excited?"
"You bet! I can't wait to-"
"Everyone," called out Minato, unknowingly interrupting his son. "Can I have your attention, please?" Once everyone turned to face the man, he gave his partner a nod and the Pokémon left in a burst of speed before returning with a wrapped parcel. "Son? Come here, please."
The young man had an unsure look on his face as he got off the porch swing; much to Karen's disappointment and Tayuya's amusement. He approached his father while thinking about what could possibly be in that wrapping. Meanwhile, Cynthia frowned as she had already figured it out.
Smiling down at him, Minato grabbed the parcel from his Lucario before holding it in front of his son. "In celebration of your graduation, and to prepare you for your future," now Naruto was frowning, figuring out what the gift was, "I want to give you this." He pulled off the wrapping in one smooth motion, presenting a blue and black egg to his son. "Inside of this egg is a growing Riolu, and I want you to have it-"
"So I can be just like you?" interrupted Naruto, surprising many of the guests while Cynthia sighed softly and Juniper closed her eyes in anticipation. His friends and cousin all flinched at what was going to happen, knowing how Naruto felt about this. "So that I can follow in your footsteps and become the Hokage just like you?"
The blonde Hokage looked confused at his son's sudden irritation. "Well… Yes," he answered as if it was completely fine. "You're my son, and I want you to grow up and be the best you can be."
"So long as it's under your terms, right?" fired back Naruto. "Well let me ask you something dad; what if I didn't want to become Hokage?"
Minato's eyes widened.
"What if I don't want to be just like you and wanted to be something else?"
"Why wouldn't you want to be Hokage? It's a great honor!" argued the boy's father, now frowning.
"Because it's what you want for me! You're turning me into you when I want to be me!" He pointed at the man angrily and continued, "I'm always stuck in your shadow, being seen as the Hokage's son and your second coming! I want to be my own person, and to do that," he moved over to stand next to Juniper, unsealing his lab coat and putting it on, "I'm going to become a Pokémon Researcher! I want to see all kinds of Pokémon and study them, learn from them, live by them! I can't do that by becoming your clone!"
Kushina gave a soft sigh at that, expecting Naruto to explode at some point. She had tried to reason with her husband and let him know that Naruto was willful; like all Uzumaki were. But, the man must've picked up some of her stubbornness, because he wouldn't budge. Now, the two most important men in her life were butting heads and she couldn't do anything to stop it.
Minato turned his gaze to Juniper, frown deepening. "You put these thoughts in his head?"
"No, I didn't, and I'd appreciate you not accusing me of such talk. Naruto has showed interest in Pokémon Research from the very moment he stepped foot in my lab; I saw it clear as day. And every day since, he's visited my lab and watched me, picking things up along the way until I finally decided to actively help and teach him."
She pulled out her rolled up approval and tossed it to the man.
"That is proof of Naruto's acceptance as my Field Researcher. Your son will become one of the Elemental Nations greatest Researchers; that I promise you, Minato."
His eyes widened at the seal that approved of such a notion. "Cynthia… You…?"
She just smiled and pulled away from Itachi to stand behind Naruto, putting both of her hands on his shoulders. "I've always said that I wanted the best for my Naru-chan. If the path of a Researcher is what he wants to take, then I'll support him fully; 100%." Her smile was replaced by a frown as she continued, "You've made a name for yourself, Minato-nii, and I'm happy for you. But, you can't force your own success onto your child who will thrive in other fields. I won't stand by and let you turn him into you; I've already had to live through that with you."
"You had no right," he shot back angrily. "He's my son, and I will decide what's best for him."
Naruto glared at his father at those words. "Then I'll renounce your claim," he declared, shocking everyone. "If you say you have the right to decide what's best for Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, then I renounce my Namikaze name! I'll just be Naruto Uzumaki, and there's nothing you can do to change my mind!"
At that proclamation, he broke out of his aunt's grip and stormed off, leaving the home and the shocked group behind him. The ones who broke out of it first were his friends and cousin, who rushed after the young man. Cynthia and Itachi were next, and the Uchiha simply gave his fiancé a knowing look and nodded once. She smiled back and pecked his cheek before she too took off after the redheaded boy, telling her Garchomp to wait for her.
Everyone else eventually broke out of their shock and Kushina rounded on her husband with a fierce look that made him sweat nervously. "We're going to have a talk; now."
"Damn that man!" growled out Naruto as he sat in front of his secret grotto behind the Hokage Mountain. Inside of said grotto was lush green, a lake about thirty feet in diameter, and a single cherry blossom tree growing out of the lake's center. Occasionally, one would see a couple of Pokémon moving about the grotto before disappearing.
This was a place Naruto had found one day after being sent away early by Juniper. He had nothing to do and decided to explore beyond the mountainside. He had stumbled, almost literally, upon the grotto's entrance and found it to be a peaceful and beautiful space. He wanted to keep it safe and hidden, so he only told his three friends and his aunt about it. He would've told his parents, but a part of him wanted a place he could go to think without them trying to bring him back home.
Much like the situation he was in now.
He stared at his reflection in the lake, sighing as he tried to quell his anger. He knew his father meant well, but the man kept trying to decide things for him when he wanted to be the one to make his own choices. It saddened him that his father just wouldn't understand, but he wasn't planning on taking back his words from before. He would renounce his Namikaze name if need be and keep his mother's clan name.
Besides, just being Naruto Uzumaki sounded more…natural in his opinion.
Looking at the lake again, he froze at the sight of a massive creature staring back at him through the reflective waters. Its red eyes bored into him while its serpentine body moved against nonexistent waves.
"G…Giratina…" Naruto whispered out in shock, having seen sketches by people who had claimed to see the legendary Pokémon.
It gave a cry like a distorted wail of a ghost before it pushed forward, breaking through the surface of the lake so that its head rose up to match his seated gaze. It saw the young human swallow the lump in his throat and snorted, blowing back his hair with its breath.
Taking another look at the redhead, the Renegade Pokémon nodded to itself before having one of its ghostly streamers break out of the water. Directing its red tip towards the young Uzumaki, it watched him stay in place and fought a smirk. Good; the boy was brave in the face of its presence.
The red tip stopped in front of him, and Naruto nervously looked to Giratina. Its red eyes flicked to his hand a couple of times before he raised it slowly with the palm outward.
"Like this…?" he asked hesitantly, earning a nod before the red tip poked his hand.
He winced when it broke skin, but Giratina pulled the streamer back right when he felt the prick. Turning his palm back to him, he saw the blood move on its own and form into a swirling symbol that matched the Uzumaki insignia.
"Is this…your blessing?" he asked in confusion.
Giratina snorted again, giving the young man an amused look before it sank back into the lake's waters. When he looked down, he heard it wail at him again before it took off, and the reflection in the water changed back to mirroring his image.
"What was that all about?" he asked himself, looking back to the marking on his palm. Slowly, he clenched his hand and smiled in determination. "Giratina… Thank you."
"Naruto!" he heard multiple voices call out in concern.
This only made his smile grow as he went to meet them. This experience made him feel much lighter, and his excitement for the future only grew.
It was around an hour later that Naruto made it back home with Cynthia and Karen. His friends and cousin had asked if he was alright and offered their support, much to his gratitude. He couldn't have asked for better companions. Cynthia's arrival was also met with a smile, much to woman's relief.
She never enjoyed seeing her Naru-chan upset.
After walking Cheryl and Tayuya home, the trio returned to the Namikaze Estate so that Karen could meet up with her parents. They arrived in the backyard of the estate and saw that everyone but Naruto's parents were still there; letting Naruto deduce that they were more than likely waiting for him inside.
Itachi spotted them first and walked over to them, sharing a look with Cynthia before settling into a casual stance.
"I'll see you off tomorrow, Naru-chan," bid Cynthia before she hugged her nephew and left with Itachi and their Pokémon. Said Uchiha simply patted the boys shoulder with a supporting smile.
"Good luck, Naruto," he said before leaving, earning a smile from the boy.
"Thanks, Itachi. Oh, by the way," he began.
"I never congratulated you two on getting engaged. I'm happy for you guys, and I want you to keep my aunt happy. Understand?"
The Uchiha looked amused at Naruto's attempt at intimidation while Cynthia mentally gushed at how protective her Naru-chan was. "I'll be sure to remember that, Naruto. Have a good night."
Naruto nodded to the man before he turned to Karen. "Well…I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah…" she replied, feeling a tad nervous before she took a breath and steeled her nerves. Catching him completely off guard, she leaned in and kissed his cheek before pulling back with a flushed face. "S-See you tomorrow!" she almost yelled before rushing off.
He stood there frozen with red cheeks while Kakashi and Rin walked over to him; both looking amused at the obvious affection their daughter had for him. The Jonin put a hand on Naruto's shoulder and bid, "Good luck tomorrow, Naruto."
He then walked off while Rin crouched slightly to hug the young man. "Be safe, Naruto. And try not to think to hard about what just happened, okay?"
Her pleasant smile calmed him, and he slowly smiled back. "Thanks, Rin-nee."
She gave him a wink before leaving.
Tsunade and Shizune then left next, making sure to hug the boy and offer their support.
"Well, brat," Tsunade started, "be sure to pay attention to everything. Can't get distracted now that you're a newly minted Researcher."
"And please be careful," Shizune added.
"I will," he promised as he bid them goodbye.
"Alright then, kid," Jiraiya began as he and his partner stood up, "I'll be looking forward to hearing about your progress. If you ever need anyone to be on the lookout for things, you know who to call."
"Right. Thanks, Perv."
"That's Super Perv," corrected the man with a laugh as he left, ruffling Naruto's hair on the way out.
Juniper was the last to approach him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I'll see you in the morning, Naruto. You have a big day ahead of you, so make sure you get plenty of rest for it."
"I will," he promised with a smile. "See you then, Professor."
She nodded before leaving, prompting Naruto to head inside to face his parents. Once they spotted him, Kushina beckoned him over to the couches, and he sat across from them. "Naruto-kun… First off, I want to say that I'm very proud of you for being able to study under Juniper. Not many people have that privilege since most mainly become her aides."
"Thanks, mom," he replied gratefully.
"Now, I just have a couple of questions." He nodded for her to continue. "Is this truly what you want; to go out and study Pokémon? You know that it'll be a long road ahead, right?
"I know that; but it's what I want to do. I… I want to do this for myself," he answered, showing his determination to her.
This earned him a smile from his mother. "Then, I promise to support you. You've set a great goal for yourself, sweetheart. And I want nothing more than to see you succeed."
He nodded gratefully, fighting tears at her words and promise. After all, when an Uzumaki made a promise, there was almost nothing that would stop them from seeing it through. He then turned to his father, who had his eyes closed in silence ever since he had returned home.
"Your mind's made up?" he finally asked. "There's nothing I can do to convince you otherwise?"
"Nothing," firmly replied Naruto.
"I see…" The man sighed before finally opening his eyes. "Then…I'm sorry."
Both his wife and son looked to him.
"I can't support this. I've always wanted to have you follow in my steps and take after me. Seeing you choose this… It's not something I can accept right away," he said honestly, though he knew it would hurt his family.
Kushina frowned at him in disappointment while Naruto looked hurt. "I understand," replied the teen as he stood up from the couch. "I'm going to bed. Goodnight."
He walked past his parents and only Kushina took note of the tear that rolled down her son's cheek. Her heart ached at that as she watched him head up the stairs, never turning her gaze away from them even when he left her sight.
'I'm so sorry, sweetheart,' she mentally cried, fighting her own tears.
"I need to get back to the office," Minato said as he stood up and put on his coat. "I still need to finish sorting out some last minute files for tomorrow."
When he leaned down to kiss his wife, she moved her head away and stood up in one fluid motion. Without a word, and without turning to look at him, she and her Ninetales – who she had nicknamed Kurama – headed upstairs and the last thing Minato heard was their bedroom door closing.
Sighing, the man and his Lucario left his home in a yellow flash. He needed something to distract him from the guilt that was tearing at him. But, to him, what hurt the most was losing his dream for his son and his son renouncing his name. That pain overshadowed his natural guilt.
At least, he made it overshadow the guilt.
1~ His red hair is styled like N from the Pokémon anime
2~ Cheryl's last name is the last name of her Japanese voice actress. I gave her that name to give respect
And here's the end of the first chapter! As you can hopefully see, I've already made some noticeable changes.
For starters, Naruto is now a Researcher instead of an apprentice to Juniper. This will allow Naruto to go out and explore the world in the name of research while also having ample opportunities to raise his eventual Pokémon.
This will also come with another perk that will be explained in a future chapter.
Another change I made was the three girls who are Naruto's friends. Cheryl stays because she's rare (and I love writing her), and she views Naruto as a role model and friend. Tayuya is taking Skyla's spot as Naruto's cousin, and I plan to pair her with someone else.
This leaves Karen; another rarely used Pokémon girl. She will be the one paired with our favorite knucklehead in this story. How do ya like that?!
You guys have NO IDEA how much I stressed over the pairing… I once had it narrowed down to five choices, then to three, and then I thought I'd settle with two out of those three. But in the end, I decided to stay with a single pairing and Karen won in my personal struggle!
Lastly, instead of Naruto having a moment with one of the girls in his secret grotto, he is found by a legendary dragon; one that has marked him. What will this mean for our protagonist?
Until next time guys!