People turned to stare at the newcomer as he walked through the streets of Konoha. It was really quite hard not to, as he stood out rather well against the background of the hidden village. A large black cloak adourned his body, lined with orange trims. His face was covered by a hood that protruded from the collar of the cloak.
Actually, this wasn't really that strange compared to some of what the civilians were used to. They did live in a village populated by shinobi after all, and strangers came and went with their strange cloaks and large, funny hats. Granted, it probably wasn't the smartest idea to get used to something like that, but if they didn't they'd probably get neurosis or something.
The attention grabbing thing was that on the back of the young man was a large... hammer. Half the height of the young man himself, it was decorated with a single spiral in the center, somewhat reminiscent of the Konoha emblem, though a bit different here and there. Shinobi usually didn't carry blunt weapons, as they usually took more effort to damage an enemy than a bladed one like a sword or a knife, so what they were seeing was definitely out of place.
The hooded stranger seemed to realize that he was the center of attention, and turned his head around, surveying the area. With one glance the civilians returned to what they had been doing before, slightly ashamed at having been caught staring. The hooded stranger himself was feeling rather stupid, as he realized the cloak was probably a rather bad idea.
After all, even if he took it off, nobody would know who he was anyway.
With a nervous grin on his face, he started strolling through the throng of people, making his way as though he had a definite point where he wanted to go. He should, after all. He knew where his target was, and he knew this place like the back of his hand.
Even if it was a little different than what he had remembered.
Even if it was another world.
Uzumaki Naruto stood in his apartment, looking at everything with the eye of somebody who hadn't been home in over three years. It was exactly like how he had remembered it, though it seemed a little bit dustier, but only now did he realize that it wasn't exactly the best place for a person to live. After travelling around with that ero-sennin for so long and sleeping in all those inns, his perspective had changed accordingly.
But... cleaning. That wasn't something that Uzumaki Naruto, soon to be the Sixth Hokage wanted to do. It was just so... so boring, and tedious. Maybe he could make his Kage Bunshins do it or something, though if they acted even remotely like him, which they did, it would be hard to try and convince them.
He could defeat the monster of the Sand, Gaara. He could face down one of the strongest ninja alive who had slaugtered his entire clan and only feel slightly nervous. Hell, he had gone throguh three years of getting beaten up by women for his sensei. So why was he so afraid of cleaning?
Maybe it was a guy thing, he mused. Sakura-chan seemed to have no trouble whatsoever forcing him to clean up whenever she had come over in the past, and even though his memories of her were only from three years ago and beyond he was a hundred percent sure that she hadn't lost her ability to command him with one word. That reminded him, he still had to go and see the rest of the rookie nine. It'd be awesome to see what they looked like now after three years, and to maybe show them some of his new jutsu, though he really didn't have a lot.
He shifted his footing slightly, and suddenly the large stack of dirty plates that had accumulated over his earlier years finally lost its balance and fell hard on his back. He hit the ground with a thud as the rest of the plates fell over the edge of the sink and smashed into the ground.
Crap, looked like he wasn't going anywhere until he cleaned up all of this shit.
He didn't know what he was nervous about. He had faced off against enemies that had no qualms about killing him before, and had been betrayed by one who he had cared about. He had stared death in the face before, and had come out alive. He had gone past hurdles much larger than this.
So why was he so afraid of meeting this guy?
The hooded stranger shifted his footing, and tried to make sure that he looked presentable. After all, he really didn't want to give him a bad first impression, as that would be really weird. Maybe the hammer would freak him out, since they didn't seem to have those things in this place. He was just glad that he had the sense to leave his weapon in the Ether. A giant sword might give him the wrong idea.
Alright then... deep breaths. There was nothing to get nervous about. The Craftslady had told him she had calculated everything, and that this guy was going to be quite easy to get along with. There was nothing to be worried about, nothing at all.
If he managed to survive this meeting, his friends would start coming through, and then he wouldn't have to go through this ordeal all by himself. No worries, no pressure. All he had to do was to make eye contact, say a pleasant hello or something. Make sure the atmosphere was comfortable before making his move.
Gulping, he stepped to the door and knocked.
Naruto was just shuffling through the apartment when the strange feeling struck. It hit him suddenly and seemed to penetrate through to the outside from within. It was a feeling of familiarity, as though something that he had always been missing had just appeared out of nowhere and he didn't know what to feel. Though of course, Uzumaki Naruto would never think of it that way.
"Ohhh maan... Must be that okonomiyaki sushi ramen that ero-sennin dared me to eat," mumbled the foxy genin to himself. "Knew I shouldn't have taken him up on that dare. It's gonna give me bowel problems all night now."
He quickly shook himself from that train of thought and took another look at the pile of junk that he was holding in his hands. Sighing, he tossed it into the large pile of garbage that he had been steadily building up. He'd let the Kage Bunshins take them out later, as they probably wouldn't have a problem with throwing something away that was already prepared.
He was just about to continue on with the cleaning when he heard the knock.
Who could be knocking on his door at a time like this?
Turning around in curiousity, he stepped towards the door, not noticing the strange feeling that he had felt from a while ago come back, stronger than ever. Whatever the source of the feeling was, it was right behind that door.
There were a million things that could go wrong. Maybe up to a zillion. It was too hastily thought out, there were so many holes. The entire plan was screwed up! Maybe he should've waited a while before he came here.
Wait, he was panicking. That wasn't good. Panicking was bad and made you screw up, just like in that first real fight he had against Zabanz. That was a real shame of a fight, and it was there that he made his promise to himself to never go back on his word. Okay. So he had made that promise, and now it was time to keep it.
He had said to himself that he wouldn't chicken out from this, no matter how hard it was going to be, and god be damned if he wasn't going to keep that promise. Silently, he steeled his resolve and faced the door. However, even with all the preparation that he was putting himself through he still couldn't help but jump slightly when the door opened.
Naruto had expected maybe one of the Rookie Nine or Team Gai. It was highly probable that they had heard about his return from one of their jounin-sensei already, as Jiraiya had sent a letter about it several weeks ago. When he had opened the door he was prepared to even be greeted with the sight of Lee or Gai, so the hooded stranger in front of him served only to confuse him.
"Umm... Hi," said the cloaked figure, almost nervously. The sight of the hammer confused Naruto further, but he had seen wierder things on shinobi before so he didn't really let it get to him. Though he was wearing a cloak it didn't have red clouds on it, so him being Akatsuki was ruled out. Those bastards were too flashy to come in disguise anyway.
"Yo," Naruto said. The eerie familiar feeling was coming back again, and it was coming directly out of this guy in front of him. There was something familiar about him... but he couldn't place it. The hood that covered his face didn't help.
"So, um... Could I come in or something?" asked the stranger.
Naruto thought about this for a second, and shrugged. Why not? Turning around, he beckoned the stranger inside. From what he could tell the guy in front of him seemed to have incredibly low chakra levels, even lower than a civilians, so there was no way that he would be dangerous to him unless he poisoned him or something, but then he had learnt in his travels with ero-sennin that poisons used on him would be negated by the Kyuubi.
He walked into his den carefully, trying not to make a fool out of himself in front of a total stranger. He had picked up some manners from the perverted hermit on their travels, and knew that the first thing that he as the host should do for the guest was to make him some kind of snack.
But then again, it might be pretty hard to find some fresh goods in his three year old apartment, so there was a bit of a problem there. Oh well, he'll find a way past it. Maybe he had some tea packets or something that he forgot about hidden somewhere.
As he walked about the room searching for something to serve to his guest, he didn't notice that the said guest in question was was getting more and more agitated.
"Sorry, but I don't seem to have anything for you," Naruto apologized. "So, what did you come here for?"
There was no way he could hold it in anymore. Maybe this was going to be a bit too sudden, but there was seriously going to be no way around it now. It was a bit eerie, seeing this guy in front of him. The way he acted, the way he moved. Everything, including the way he looked. It was all too familiar.
Taking his hammer off his back, he set it against the couch gently. Naruto's eyes followed the action slowly, but then instantly snapped up to the stranger's head when the young man in front of him raised his hand and pulled the hood back.
Naruto didn't know what to say. The source of the strange feeling was now explained.
The stranger had bright blonde hair, a little spiky here and there and held up by a headband. He had blue eyes that spoke volumes about his personality and the depth of his emotions, as well as a mouth that seemed to smile easily. Yet the most telling features that he had were the two sets of whisker marks that sat upon his cheeks.
It was like staring into a mirror, though not exactly. The stranger's hair was a little tamer than his and his headband was different, but that was about it.
"My name's Nathan Graves. I come from a world parallel to yours," said the young man. "I'm here to tell you that there's trouble heading your way, and I'm here to help you with it since it concerns out world too. I'm sorry for barging in like this, but this was the only way I..."
"Wait," Naruto said, trying to absorb what his carbon copy was saying. "So, you're saying you come from an alternate world? Like, one of those doppelgagner worlds that people theorize about? The ones where there are potentially people that are exactly like you?"
Ero-sennin had drilled that theory into his head trying to see how he would take theory. From what he had gathered from the pervert however, it seemed like he wasn't the type to go for theory. He worked much better with practical experience, but this was one time that he appreciated the old pervert educating him about the boringer aspects of the world.
"Well, not completely different," said Nathan. "There are a lot of similarities, but..."
"So, you're the me from the other dimension?" asked Naruto again.
"Yeah," nodded Nathan. It was rather easy to tell, after all. Both of them looked exactly the same, save their clothing, and even their clothing shared similar colour schemes, both of them featuring mainly black and orange. "That's right."
Then, everything clicked in Naruto's head.
"Well, you wouldn't mind some ramen, right?" asked the blonde Genin. "Cause that's all I've got."
Nathan tilted his head.
"Well, I dunno," said the alternate Naruto. "Is it anything like the waternoodles from back home? They're this kind of long, thin stuff that's made from grain and you put them in soup and cook it."
Naruto nodded, and turned around. The question of what he was going to serve his guest had just been answered, and while they ate the three year old ramen that he had left in his apartment he was going to sort all this stuff out in his head and then act on it. 'Cause he was feeling too numb to act like he usually did now.
So this was what it was like to be surprised when you were the number one surprising ninja of your hometown. Whoo, you learnt something new everyday.