It was surprising how time could change everything. In one second fate could be decided. In one minute lives could be over. In one day the outcome of one's decision could be revealed. Time was a precious thing that many people everywhere overlooked, and under-appreciated.
Throughout his entire sixteen years of existence, time was something Naruto Uzumaki learned to treasure. The value of every second was crucial in his career as a ninja; it could determine when the best time to strike an enemy would be, and when to keep oneself hidden if necessary.
Besides the emotional and intellectual effects time had, physical conditions changed drastically as well. Plants grew, animals grew, the Earth moved and shifted just as its inhabitants did with age. Buildings fell as new ones took their place.
It was for this reason that Naruto was so baffled walking along the structure widely known as the Great Naruto Bridge. A huge expanse of water traveled at it's lazy pace fifty feet below and the blond boy let out an impressed "Oh" sound. The concrete was sturdy underneath his sandaled feet and Naruto couldn't help but jump up onto the railing to get a better view of the vast ocean before him. Black and orange clothes flapping in the wind.
He remembered, close to five years ago, how his first trip to this country occurred. A mission to protect a man named Tazuna – the builder of the very bridge he stood on – went slightly awry. For a new team of Genin on their first assignment, Naruto knew they were quite lucky not to have gotten killed by their much more skilled opponents. However, somehow, things turned out better than anyone would have thought. Saving Tazuna, along with the whole of Wave Country from the evil Gato and his henchmen, was an amazing feat.
Sadly, after the fighting had been resolved, Naruto and his team were ordered to return home; to Konoha. He hadn't gotten the chance to see the completed bridge between The Mainland and Land of the Waves; the source of the battle that almost took their lives. Now, almost five years later, it was beautiful.
And things had definitely changed.
Land of the Waves had been a very dark and shady place so long ago. People were living in the streets with nothing but their ragged clothes as possessions. Food was scarce and trade had all but died.
Nothing of that nature lasted now.
Passed the bridge, it was complete chaos. The good kind. It seemed as if the whole town served as a giant trade market. Streets were full of stalls, sellers calling out in loud voices "Fresh Fish, Squid, Muscles, Lobsters! You want it, we got it!"
Customers flocked from all places, shouting out their orders, bargaining with whatever they could. Languages mingled, children ran through crowds laughing, angry parents screaming after them.
Complete and utter chaos.
Although, despite the mass amounts of people, the market was home to the best restaurants in town. Restaurants that served Ramen. Delicious, steaming, flavorful Ramen. And yes, Ramen was spelled with a capitol 'R' because it was the king of all foods ever created... At least to Naruto it was.
It was in one of these restaurants quaintly named "Noodles of the Sea" that Naruto made it a point to eat at every day he could. Between training hard with his teacher Jiraiya and... keeping Jiraiya out of trouble, it was a little difficult to do. But somehow, today, he managed.
He was greeted with a smile by the server as he walked in; coming here often, the young girl already knew his name. "Train hard today, Naruto-kun?"
The blond grinned, his smile threatening to split his face in half. "I sure did, Miss Tali! I'm ready for some good old Ramen!"
"Right this way then, and we'll get you all filled up."
He was seated at the counter, where he always ended up so that the cook behind the counter could dish him his order promptly (as there tended to be many of them). Miss Tali handed him a pair of chop sticks wrapped tightly in a white napkin and excused her self with a small "enjoy".
Naruto gave a slight wave goodbye in thanks before turning to the cook. "Twelve bowls of Ramen, please. Two beef, two chicken, two shrimp, two spicy, two roast beef, and two oriental."
Naruto could clearly remember the first day he had visited the shop, requesting for such a large order. The old man had asked if he was taking it to a rather large family back home. When it was clear that every single bowl was going to the blond himself... well, the facial expression was quite entertaining t say the least. Now, however, the old man smiled and shook his head in a teasing matter. "Here to run me out of supplies again, I see. I heard of growing boys needing to eat, but you, Naruto, are one-of-a-kind."
The two shared a grin before the cook set off on the precious food Naruto held so dear to him. When the first bowl was set in front of him, the blond wasted no time in scarfing it down, wooden chop sticks clinking against the sides of the ceramic as he shoveled it into his empty and growling stomach. A few seconds later, when the contents of the bowl made it just past the half-empty mark, he heard a loud yell from the front of the restaurant. The server, Miss Tali, was heard laughing, a mousy sound really.
The next second Naruto felt a presence next to him and turned slightly to look at the man who decided to take the unoccupied seat to his right. Red shirt, jean shorts, sandals, and messy black hair reminded Naruto of a little kid, although he was obviously no younger than he was. A yellow straw hat was set on the counter and the boy greeted the cook with an over-friendly "Hello".
"I'd like Meat! Lots and lots of Meat! Like, five kinds of meat! Roast Beef, brisket, ribs, ham, all of it," He exclaimed, all the while waving his arms madly like a child in a candy store.
Naruto would have made a point to laugh at the display had he not been focused on gobbling down the Ramen in front of him. He placed the empty bowl on the counter as the boy beside him finished and let out a breath. "More please!"
The cook nodded and at both of them and got to work, finishing in seconds, placing both orders in front of his customers at the same time; Beef Ramen for Naruto, and a plate of Roast Beef for the other. And as if it was a race, both boys stuffed the food into their mouths with intense ferociousness, finishing it with lightning speed. Both bowl and plate hit the counter and a "more please" was said in unison.
After that, there was a pause and the two boys looked at each other like strangers would. Naruto laughed, bringing his right hand to rub the back of his head. The black haired boy just grinned. "My name is Luffy, what's yours?!"
The blond's laugh died into a friendly smile as he introduced himself, "Naruto!"
The boys shook hands, looking to the cook out of the corner of their eyes to make sure he was still working on the food. "Do you live here," Luffy asked. "It's an awesome place!"
"No, I'm just visiting. But this place is awesome! There are so many people and this place is huge!"
"I know! It took forever to find somewhere to eat! We've been out of Meat for two whole days!"
"Whoa! I couldn't live that long without Ramen!"
"I almost died!"
Suddenly, the food was set in front of them and their chat was immediately silenced in order to participate in cramming all the food they could into their mouths. In seconds, it was gone, and the cook was requested for more.
"You should check out the Bridge between here and the Mainland! You can see everything from there," Naruto said, as if the conversation had never stopped.
Luffy opened his mouth to reply when a scream sounded just behind them. Both boys swerved in their chairs to see what the commotion was about and both pairs of eyes widened in surprise to see Miss Tali on the ground in front of the entrance. A massive man stood before her, grinning with malice. He wore a black jacket with the kanji meaning 'blood' on the front along with a matching pair of pants tucked into calf high black boots. Stringy red hair hung down to his shoulders in threads that might not have been washed for days and his beady black eyes twinkled in victory.
The man walked in as if he owned the place. Head held high with his left hand on the hilt of his .45 caliber pistol strapped to his side; trying to intimidate everyone. Naruto's eyes narrowed at his arrogance; watching him carefully as he strolled up to the counter. "Get me a a bottle of sake."
The cook looked fearfully to his server, Miss Tali was dragging herself off the floor and onto shaky legs, her right hand was held tightly to her cheek where the man had apparently struck her. A bang was heard as the man's hand fell onto the bar and the cook's concerned gaze returned to the offender in front of him. "Hey! I didn't stutter! Give me my damn sake!"
Hurriedly, as to not make the matters worse, the cook turned to the pantry behind him, shuffling through the contents inside to retrieve the requested bottle. He set it down in front of the customer along with a sipping glass. The last was crudely thrown away to land on the floor, shattering into many pieces. The cork was removed and the bottle tipped back against smirking lips to drink greedily at the alcohol.
He set the bottle down and looked around him. By this time, all talking within the restaurant had died and all attention was focused on him; he rather liked that for he laughed and made a mocking bow to the crowd. "My name is Jared Bots, you better remember it you fools. I'm the best there ever was or ever will be. Give me what I want, and I might take it upon myself to spare you."
Naruto smirked. "Are you a Kage then?"
This sentence earned the attention from everyone in the room. People stared in shock, wondering why the blond would want to provoke the man. He continued, "Because in my eyes, the best that ever was or ever will be should be a Kage. And you just don't strike me as that kind of guy."
For a second, Bots just stared at the blond, taken aback by the fact that this kid was talking back to him. Then, when the sentence registered, his face twisted into a raging red. "What did you just say you brat? Are you saying that I am not the best?"
"Yeah," Surprisingly, those words hadn't come from Naruto. Instead, they came from Luffy as he calmly slid off the chair, slipping the straw hat over his unruly hair. "And really, how can you go and say something like that? I'm sure that if you were the best at anything, I would have known about you. The fact that your name means nothing..."
The angry red turned into a purple-ish color as the man nearly shrieked, "You little brats! How dare you speak to me like that? I'll teach you what it means to be the best!"
His hand reached for the gun at his side and he removed it from the holster with a click. He held it up in front of him in such a way that both boys knew immediately that the guy had no formal training what-so-ever. The stance was full of openings and flaws, ones that could get the owner killed easily. But the two boys didn't want to kill him. Guns were, needless to say, fast, and not necessarily easy to stop. Their goal would be to subdue the man before he had the chance to fire.
However, neither boy was prepared for Bots to take a hostage. And at that exact moment, the tables turned as he turned slightly, grabbing the arm of a middle aged woman in the seat behind his own. He held her in front of him, pressing the muzzle of the weapon to her temple. She whimpered in pain and fear.
Naruto let out a feral growl as Luffy visibly clenched his teeth beside him.
"Who is the best now," Bots screamed, jerking the woman in his grasp to earn a good yelp from her. "You bastards still think you're better than me?!"
With a smile, Luffy said in a clipped tone, "Anyone willing to hurt others for their own gain, especially for such a selfish reason as yours, don't deserve to call themselves the best."
"You're just a coward," Naruto finished.
Add then, as if by a signal, the boys sprung into action. Naruto, with reflexes faster than the untrained eye could see, flew through a set of hand seals, speaking a barley audible "Kage Bunshin". Luffy merely lifted his right arm, twisting it grotesquely in a unnatural way, aiming for a punch using all his power.
Suddenly, two Naruto's stood where there had only been one and both blonds rushed to at the man as quick as a ninja could be. One Naruto took hold of the gun in Bots' hand, twisting it away from the hostage and out of his grasp before he had time to react. The other Naruto swept the scared woman away, across the room to safety. The blond who held the gun shifted into a familiar fighting stance, ready to end the confrontation quickly.
He never got the chance.
Instead, there was a long, stretched... limb... going past his head to land a point-blank punch directly to Bots' face. The effect was immediate; Jared Bots went sailing across the room to hit the farther most wall, head making an interesting sound as it came into contact with the Sheetrock. He crumpled to the floor in a heap; out cold.
Silence reined supreme.
Occupants of the room watched on, expressions a mix of awe and concern. Until finally, Luffy let out a tension breaking laugh. "So much for that!"
Naruto laughed himself, turning to look at the boy with a new-found respect. "I guess he wasn't that great after all!"
"Hey, how are you doing that," Luffy asked, pointing to the Naruto clone currently asking the woman that was held hostage if she was alright.
After he was assured of the woman's wellbeing, the blond look-alike disappeared in a puff of smoke and the real Naruto smiled proudly, "I'm a ninja! It's what I've dedicated my life to being! What about you? Your arm went all... weird."
With the same proud smile Naruto had given, Luffy answered, "I'm a pirate! I ate the Gomu Gomu fruit! My body is made of rubber!"
Naruto had heard of the forbidden fruit, it was some-what of a myth in the elemental countries though as they preferred to focus on their own problems and affairs. Foreign lands were not unwelcome, but not embraced either. "Cool, so you've come from a long way, haven't you?"
"Yeah, but I've got a goal in mind; I'm going to be the Pirate King!"
So the boys were similar in a lot of ways. They suddenly felt like great long-lost friends reunited. "Hokage and King," Naruto said, mostly to himself. "That's awesome!"
"I know, we should totally be Nakama!"
Smiling, both boys turned to the cook and, as one, said, "Food!"
... And that was it.
The cook got back to making the orders, the customers began to eat again, Miss Tali continued her job of greeting and serving new comers, and Naruto and Luffy reclaimed their seats next to each other. They picked up their easy banter; Naruto explaining what it was like being a ninja, and Luffy described his life on the sea, along with his crew (quite an unusual bunch).
"A talking reindeer?! Awesome!"
"He is awesome! And Sanji makes me all the Meat I could eat! ... although we seem to run out too quickly..."
"I wish I had a cook to make me all the Ramen I want! My teacher is so not a cook. All he does is peek on women in the baths! I swear if I wasn't around he'd be long gone, Ha ha! But Sakura, my team mate; she can cook! It's so delicious!"
"Yeah, and you get to wear those cool headbands! Ninjas are so cool!"
The chief set down their plates with a smile. "This is on the house, as a thank you for helping us."
Once again, in unison, both boys grinned and let out a yell, "Awesome!" Before cramming their mouths full once again.
It wasn't until the night had settled across the land and the moon started to peak over the horizon that the boys finally dragged themselves out the restaurant. Twenty eight bowls of Ramen, and twenty eight plates of assorted Meat later (they had an eating contest in which they tied). Now, with their clothes a little tighter around the middle than before and severe pains of the stomach from over-stuffing, Naruto and Luffy strolled out the exit, arms slung around each others shoulder to remain balanced.
"That, was great," Naruto said, forcing a loud burp back to no avail.
"I agree, we should do it..." Luffy burped in interruption. "Again."
"How long are you staying?"
"We set sail tomorrow. Nami and Sanji just needed supplies," The tone was a mix between excitement (as he loved the sea), but also with hesitation (he had just made a new friend and they were already leaving).
Naruto frowned. "Ah, I wanted to show you around a bit. The land can be just as beautiful as the sea, you know."
The pirate smiled, "Yeah, Konoha sounds like a great place. I wouldn't mind seeing it someday."
"Then promise you'll come back here!" A strange gleam entered Naruto's eyes, as if an idea had suddenly come to him. "You go and become the Pirate King! I'll be Hokage! Then you can come visit; we'll share all of our stories while we stuff our faces with Meat and Ramen!"
Obviously, Naruto's great idea was contagious because Luffy let out a huge grin and jumped in the air as if in victory. "Awesome! You can meet my Nakama and I can meet your team! We'll stay up late and party!"
The two laughed, already picturing the scene. The market wasn't nearly as crowded as before and most of the stalls were either empty or being packed up. Pirate and Ninja, arms over shoulders walked gallantly down the ally, joking and roaring with laughter that made standbys wonder if they were just a couple of drunken idiots.
But as the pair came up to a crossing in the road their voices quieted until it was silenced. In the middle of the crossing, Naruto and Luffy stood, hesitant to part and go their separate ways.
Whispering, as if talking too loud would bring upon some kind of bad situation, Naruto asked, "You are going to come back then?"
"Of course. I promised, didn't I? We'll go for our dreams, so that when I do come back, we'll have some interesting things to talk about. Then, you came come on our ship, and I'll take you out to sail the seas!"
"As long as I get back safely to land," Naruto chuckled. "Your sailing skills worry me."
They laughed and Luffy held out a hand. "I can't wait."
Shaking hands, Naruto mirrored the smile Luffy wore and with a small wave turned away. One going left, one going right, both knew it would be a long time before they saw each other again.
But they knew they would someday.
Okay, so this came to me suddenly like an epiphany while I was eating lunch and talking about school work (these things hit me at the strangest times). It was such a good idea that I had to write it. One Piece is just pure awesome. Naruto... sad to say, I'm growing out of. Cause it doesn't hold the same amount of appeal as it used to.
There's only so many episodes of "Believe it!" I can take. Sasuke just needs to get over it, seriously, Itachi is just so much better than him anyway. And I've read more fan fiction on every single pairing and situation imaginable... the actual series doesn't make sense anymore. Ha ha.
But I hope you enjoy this little random story! I usually don't write crossovers. Thanks for reading and please review! Writing is hard, I'd like rewards...