Of Dreams and Memories
Ranma 1/2/Naruto Crossover
Disclaimer: The concept of Ranma 1/2 and Naruto belongs to Rumiko Takahashi, and Masashi Kishimoto. This is a product of pure amusement values, with no profits made.
Dedicated to Evil Kasumi (Lizmun), because without her and Midnight Confessions, this piece of writing would not have existed.
Part One - Search
The heat was becoming more and more choking, the sun a bright yellow orb against the clear blue sky, striking merciless rays of light from the heavens above. The strong odor of cooking oil surrounded him, and the ancient oven providing the heat to the stove creaked, the fire roaring angrily before releasing a blast of heat hot enough to cause serious burns. It was beginning to become quite bothersome.
Sighing, the young man wiped his forehead with a wet cloth, grimacing at the slick feeling of sweat, the smell of male musk heavy in his nose. He resisted the urge to sneeze, instead picking up the spatula, black with soot from the grill, and turned away from the sizzling rice. Forcing a smile on tired muscle as he called out in a loud voice over the racket of noon rush hour, "One oyakodon domburi, coming right up!"
Dressed in casual pants with the leg rolled up to his shins and a pair of cheap sandals; a white tank-top soaked with sweat clinging to every contour and curve of the well-defined muscles across his back, a single, tiny black smear between his shoulder blades, semi-visible from under the drenched fabric; and an once-clean apron smudged with cooking oil and a variety of sauce and seasonings. His face dirty from the smoke, the young man nevertheless elude a sense of presence that caused the larger than average number of female customers to visit the small restaurant for a dish of rather fine cooking from a small road-side eatery like this, as well as satisfying the eye with a sweet dish of ogling the handsome new cook as he move back and forth within the tiny confinement of the open-kitchen, deftly twisting aside to avoid another blast of hot air from the protesting oven. Wielding the small spatula as he begins to flip the half dozen okonomiyaki as they sizzled merrily on the main grill, another flicker of his wrist squirted a splash of soy sauce on to the mix, turning the golden dough into a delicious shade of brown.
"Hey you, break, take five!" A jovial voice called out to the young man, amidst the exaggerated groans of disappointment from a trio of giggling teen girls, an older man stepped up to the cooking area with a friendly smile to the youth with a casual slap to the back.
"Been busy, eh?" His inquiry was unanswered. The younger cook had stumbled forward from the soft force of the slap, only quick reflex saved his face from a too close encounter with the grill, instead, the ends of his pigtail was whipped against the heated metal with a sizzling hiss.
Unconsciously, calloused hand tightened around the handle of the spatula, whether from anger or frustration, a quick breath of a sigh, the young man brushed off his co-worker's apology and concern, shaking his head ruefully, lips quirking upward in a mock smile of a private joke. He pried fingers that had gone stiff from clenching the handle of the spatula, and handed the utensil to the other cook with a nod before stepping aside into the shadow of the nearby building, temporarily free from the choking heat, and the constant glare of the sun.
Crossing his arms across his chest, never minding the stick feeling of grease and sweat rubbing uncomfortably against his skin, pointedly ignoring the few appreciative gazes being thrown his way, his eyes downcast to a clump of dirt by his feet. Ranma Saotome, heir to the School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, son of Genma and Nodoka Saotome, fiancée to Akane Tendo, and the prominent figure to what was known as the infamous Nerima Wrecking Crew, resisted the urge to fall to his knees and cry.
It was a strange, yet familiar feeling for him, to miss something that he had always taken for granted, never realizing its important until the absolute loss, depriving him from everything. Although… this did happen before, but not like this…Not like this.
A wry smile shaping the curve of his lips, Ranma closed stormy gray-blue eyes, dull from weariness, running a hand through hair slick with sweat as he shook himself from his dark broodings, giving the ends of his pigtail a firm tug.
One step at a time.
Biting back a bitter chuckle, he stood straight, his back leaving the cooling comfort of the mortar, ready to tackle the drudgery of his current job anew.
The sun was barely peeking from the horizon by the end of his shift, as he accepted a small stack of bills with a thankful nod. Making a few quick mental calculations, and adding the amount in his hands with the stash that he had saved in the past few months, he figured he had a reasonable number to cover the next step of his journey.
"Your last day, ain't it?" The older cook, who was dressed in a similar outfit to Ranma's current chef get-up, with a bandana tied around his forehead, asked the younger man with a friendly smile, his curiosity getting the better of him.
The younger man had arrived at their village over a month ago, his clothes worn and dirty from traveling. Introducing himself to the chief of the village as 'Ranma', with no clan name given, he had claimed to be a wanderer from the eastern isles, who had found himself in a difficult situation when a sudden sickness had emptied his pockets, leaving him with little means to support himself.
The village had been suspicious of the stranger at the beginning, comments on his travel-worn, but healthy-looking physique, unblemished by sickness, and his rather 'unique' ability in transformation. Rumors of him being a Nukenin from the Hidden Mist running from prosecution soon began to float around the village, which had gotten serious enough for a delegation from the very village itself to pay a special visit to the young man, and after a day of closed-door meeting between the chief of their village, Hiroshi, Ranma and the two delegates, alleged to be Jounin-leveled ninja by several gossipers in the village, the delegates had left the village the next morning with a distinct lacking of blood-shedding, thus the rumors had subsided within a week's time.
He had soon offered himself to all sorts of work around the village, doing any kind of job available, whether it be weeding some old lady's abandoned garden, or delivering milk for the nearby farms. Though despite his constant presence around the village for the past month, little was known about the boy, he spoke when necessary, spent his free time in solitude, and remained oblivious, or perhaps indifferent, to the appreciative gazes from several young girls around the village, much to the relief of their parents.
He had applied himself to the restaurant a week ago, when the apprentice cook had taken ill from a fever, and proving to be rather exceptional at culinary, attracting a larger than average number of customers in the past few days.
Working close to Ranma, the cook has discovered that the younger man was rather… weak. Perhaps his alleged sickness was true after all, seeing how unsteady he was on his feet, especially in the presence of a crowd.
"Yeah…" Ranma croaked, snapping the older man out of his musings as he took the offered water with a smile of thank. Silence ensued.
"Where are you heading next, boy?" The cook inquired once more, when it became apparent that the pigtailed man was not going to share any information without some prodding.
"Where are you going, boy?" Genma frowned, hands on his hips as the over-weighted man demanded, "We've training to do."
Blue eyes looked down, the glass empty, making a soft 'clink' as it was placed down on the table. "The Fire Country." Ranma said. His face unreadable, though his posture bore both anticipation, as well as nervousness; it was a dangerous time, after all.
"Eh?" The older man blinked, concerned, "Why there? That country is at war right now! Dangerous, boy." He shook his head, chewing on the toothpick, "You're better off laying low here, the Wave may be poor and small, but we're not being bothered. We could use a good cook like yourself here. 'Sides," the chef grinned, "Old man Hiroshi's daughter has her eyes on you, so…" He trailed off suggestively, wriggling his eyebrows.
"I know. Thank you for your concern." Ranma smiled back, a mere twitch of muscles around his mouth.
Determination. Blue eyes hardening in resolve "But there is something very important that I am looking for."
TIMELINE – Year Three, mid-May.
And I promised myself that I won't post this until it's one hundred percent complete, and after Lizzie posts the first chapter of Whispers... dammit. I need better promises, and something to smash the writer's block.
Chapter lengths are going to be consistant, 'n all, as well as the updating, of course. Though the style of writing is not, since I've discovered new and interesting perspectives after this scene was written, a month ago. Don't expect much descriptions later on, since this story will focus more on the moment of emotion/feeling aspect, meaning that there will be a lot more going on than what's written and said. A lot.