Naruto in Nerima
Chapter One

by Lionheart

-oOoOo-

"RAMEN! RAMEN! RA..! ???"

Instead of diving around a bend into his favorite ramen shop and landing expertly on a stool, Naruto ended face down on a smooth, hard surface - no restaurant in sight!

"Hello there."

Alert to the unusual sensation of hearing a happy voice address him, Naruto looked up from where he'd fallen to see another one of him standing there smiling down at him.

Punching it in the gut to dispel the clone so he'd learn why he'd created it in the first place, Naruto noted his double folded over around his fist and gave off a startled "Oof!" instead of dispelling normally.

"Hmm," the blond boy considered, rubbing his chin while his duplicate tried to get his breath back. "An unusually solid clone. Well, no help for it. SPIRALING SPHERE!!!"

However, instead of striking the clone (who suddenly wasn't there) his one-shot kill attack met only thin air.

"WOULD YOU STOP THAT?!?" his clone yelled from behind him.

Naruto grinned both cheekily and sheepishly. Combining those two was one of his unique expressions. "Sorry, I'm just trying to learn why I created you."

"You DIDN'T create me," his double gave off an oily-false smile.

Seeing Naruto pause, thoughts halted in complete confusion, the double gave off a huff of frustration and explained, "I am only wearing your form as a disguise, so you won't know my real appearance."

To Naruto this made total sense. Ninja did that to each other all the time.

His double groaned, still rubbing his sore belly. "Look, I'm only here to explain a few things. You've been pulled from your home to..."

Noticing that his charge was totally ignoring him in favor of taking in the scenery, the double yelled, "Hey!"

"Huh? What?" Naruto turned back to look at the duplicate.

"You're being put on a mission," the double ground out, putting it in the simplest possible terms, annoyed over the inattention.

"YATTA!!" the real blonde yelped, jumping for joy. "What rank is it?"

"Triple-S" the duplicate made up a rank off the top of his head, squinting as he felt his still sore stomach muscles. "You'll be fighting demons, saving princesses, facing rulers of small countries in personal combat, and constantly rescuing fair damsels from certain peril."

"ALRIGHT!!" Naruto shouted, eyes glinting with unshed tears. "Now THAT'S the kind of mission I'm talking about. Let me at it!"

His double sweatdropped. "Don't you even want to know..? Nevermind." The entity palmed his face in despair, mumbling, "Why did I ever bet on this kid?"

"So what's the pay? And... can I get an advance?" Naruto suddenly wheedled, appearing in begging position before his double, grinning shamefacedly. "Cause I'd kinda like to fill up on ramen before we go, and... Where are we going, anyway?"

The double groaned, adapting info on the fly to try and keep the hyperactive blond kid's attention. "You'll be replacing one of... our ninja," the figure groaned, hoping that he wouldn't get penalized for bending the truth like this. The truth would do, but somehow he felt certain this kid would never remember a thing if it wasn't put in familiar terms. "Who... can't complete his assignment anymore."

Due largely to having been plucked out and flung into another world, but still true from a certain point of view.

"What rank was he?"

"Look, it doesn't matter!" the figure began to grow frustrated.

"Of Course it matters!" The real Naruto grinned cheekily. "'Cause I want to be replacing only the best!"

"Well, he is," the figure snapped.

"YATTA!!" Naruto hopped in the air, before suddenly battering the other guy with pleading looks. "And will you teach me a cool jutsu before I start?"

"I'm not supposed to..."

"Because I really shouldn't be asked to take a high-ranking mission over from a jonin if you don't give me a cool jutsu!" The boy insisted quickly.

"Fine," the double growled.

"Will it be really cool with fireballs, or maybe lots of explosions, or..."

"I think that's enough," Now a female Naruto duplicate appeared, cutting off the other clone, who was about to make up an answer. "Really, we shouldn't teach him anything that the hero he'll be replacing didn't know. That's against the rules of our contest."

"YES!!" Naruto pumped a fist. "You'll have to teach me all sorts of jonin level stuff."

"No," the female told him, crossing her arms resolutely.

"WHAAAT??!" The real Naruto's jaw dropped to the floor, and he pointed accusingly at his male double. "But that guy promised!"

"That's right, you did," the female duplicate directed an angry glare to the male one, who shrugged sheepishly. "Alright, one technique, in addition to what you need to know to impersonate this guy."

Another male double suddenly behind her coughed soberly into his fist. "Actually," he began shuffling in embarrassment. "I promised him a new jutsu, too. You should..."

The shadow clone vanished as it got struck by a bolt of lightning out of the clear night sky. Then the female shouted at him, yelling, "Naruto! Don't try to trick us! You'll have plenty of opportunity to learn techniques while on this mission!"

"Now you see what I'm up against," the male entity grumbled.

Pictures appeared in the clear stone beneath their feet before Naruto could cause more chaos, hopefully distracting him with what he had to do. "This is the boy you'll be replacing," the female double told him. "He is returning to Nerima after a ten-year training mission. He is justly famous in certain circles and admired for his skills. You might say he's even as popular as Sasuke. And when you take over for him, everyone will think the same of you."

"What jutsu does he know? What will you be teaching me?" Naruto demanded excitedly.

"None, so far," the boy double told him, relishing the look of anguish that suddenly appeared on Naruto's face.

"WHAAAT!??" Accusing finger time. "But you told me..!"

"The boy is a martial arts master, like Rock Lee," the female interjected quickly before this argument could derail them. "Also, in this... country, martial arts are not that unusual, but chakra techniques are. Every time you use one you learned from home you'll be penalized for not keeping up your disguise properly."

"What?!? That's Not Fair!" Naruto shouted, eyes drooping in despair.

"We're letting Ranma keep his techniques," the male double objected.

"Ranma didn't give us any trouble," the girl was clearly offended. "This guy's earned the penalty twice over, at least."

"That's not something over which you have sole authority," the male reminded.

The real Naruto had turned his back on this, and pouted.

"Pay attention!" his double shouted, obviously getting frustrated. "The person you'll be replacing is stronger, faster, smarter, more willing to work creative ways out of problems, and one of the best martial artists of his generation!"

"Yeah, but didn't you say you'd give me skills to help me fit in as him?" Naruto shot back with a cheeky grin. As far as he was concerned, this was everything he'd ever wanted! Recognition from everyone and awesome skills? Oh yeah!

His double actually had the grace to look ashamed, drooping as he replied, "Ranma's martial arts abilities were considered essential to his character, and so went with him. You won't be getting them, any more than he got your chakra capacity and regeneration."

"I wouldn't worry too much about it," the female double interjected, comforting. "Your father, HIS father actually, but he's willing to act as though you were his son for the duration of this assignment," the woman concealed a pair of crossed fingers behind her back. In truth, Genma wouldn't know the difference. "So call him your father, anyway, he's willing, even eager, to train you in what he knows. So you won't be at the level you are for very long."

"But there are some downsides," the male duplicate interjected before Naruto could start celebrating too much. "One of the major obstacles this hero faced was involuntary transformations into something he was taught to hate, and found awkward. Since that was one of the major things he had to overcome, you'll have to face it as well, I'm afraid. Only, since you are comfortable in most forms and that would be too great a character change, well... I'm afraid when you transform it will be completely random what you turn into."

"So? I just won't transform unless I really, REALLY need to!" the boy returned cheekily.

The female shook her head. "Sorry, but it was a curse, and one major aspect of this curse was water actively seeking him out to trigger a change at the most awkward moments. Cold water triggers a change, and hot water restores you to normal."

Naruto frowned, considering that for a moment, and not liking it a bit.

"He's also terrified of cats, and when he can't control his fear turns into one mentally... until his curse gets triggered again," the boy double warned, coughing into his fist. "And, unfortunately, you get to deal with that handicap too."

"So... like Gaara turns into a raccoon?" Naruto puzzled.

"Yes, exactly," the female returned. "and just about as dangerous, if on a smaller scale."

"I ain't turning into foxy-chan!" the boy demanded.

The female smirked. "You don't say? Well, no doubt you've earned a penalty or two here. If I can get enough others to agree, that might be EXACTLY what you turn into when you get too afraid."

Her smirk wasn't very nice. In fact, it reminded him of Sasuke at his worst.

"Destroying major urban population centers would look bad on your end of mission report," the male confided. "Try not to turn into a fox, ok?"

"So what's the mission?" Naruto crossed his arms, pouting rebelliously.

"I'm glad you asked," the guy declared, sagging with his relief.

"Basically, the hero you'll be replacing got into a situation he can't get out of on his own," the female rushed on, not bearing the thought of what might be their one opportunity passing. "He can't break any of his promises, or the promises made on his behalf, but they are conflicting. He is engaged to multiple girls, and has multiple rivals for their affection. Somehow he has got to resolve the situation honorably for everybody - and that's not easy. Take as much time as you like."

The boy double raised a hand, causing a short pillar to rise out of the ground. "Anyway, here you go, the allowed knowledge and powers to be passed on. You get this guy's memories of traveling all over several countries, the people he's met, and the subjects you need to know to take his place in school - only at the level he knew them, unfortunately."

"Touch the jewels to learn the knowledge contained in them," the female told him. "Without them you could fail."

"SWEET!" Naruto lunged at the pillar, touching them all at once.

And, with that, he vanished.

"Do you honestly think he could fail?" the male figure turned to the other to ask. "I mean, all he has to do is go with the ramen waitress when she says she wants to marry him. After that he'll have Chinese Amazon citizenship, which allows multiple marriages, so he can add all of the necessary fiancees on as brides."

"That's ONLY if he doesn't immediately take to the Tendos as 'Precious People'," the other reminded, fretting visibly. "If he does that, his loyalty to them would prevent him from taking, or even seeing, that easy road."

The male double waved it off. "Nah! He'll still see that as the best plan. It helps everybody. Besides, you'd already slipped to him the core of the whole problem: Ranma never knew going into this situation that he'd be having to deal with multiple fiancees, or else he'd have handled the whole thing differently. Now, thanks to you, Naruto knows that right from the start!"

The second was deeply concerned. "I don't know. Remember, one of Ranma's major problems was Genma, and I'm worried, as Naruto is especially vulnerable to emotional blackmail, and there is nothing that Genma is more likely to use. He does it early and often, pulling it at every opportunity to try and get his way in every situation. Ranma could resist, somewhat. This guy?" She shook her head. "No, I'm worried."

The first entity's smile had frozen into a rictus on his face. "So, you don't think we should have bet on him?"

"I don't know," the second allowed. "I believe in him. He is a good person. But... so was Ranma, and this situation had Ranma trapped in it."

The other shrugged. "Well, then second advantage: he's got a jewel in his pocket, along with a note explaining that all he has to do is hold it in a bare hand and make a wish for a technique, and it will teach it to him. It's theoretically limitless. He could learn anything. That's a wildcard that could easily resolve just about any situation on it's own!"

"That's true," the female allowed, mollified.

-oOoOo-

Naruto appeared on a street corner. he didn't know how he got there, he simply was; which meant someone had used an AWESOME technique!

He couldn't wait to learn it.

Before him on the road was this old bald guy, bemoaning, "Ten years, all for nothing. The boy didn't learn a thing. He's barely better than a drunk in a barroom brawl..."

"Hey!" he stopped the old man with a shouted cry. Yes! Just as he thought! This was the guy who'd agreed to take him on as a father/son thing for the mission! "Why don't you stop complaining and teach me something?"

"I don't think it will be much use, but alright." Genma lowered his pack with a heavy sigh, before taking up a stance. "We'll work on stances again, then spar... again." The man groaned for all his wasted effort on that department in the past.

"Now, arrange your feet like mine, Naruto."

-oOoOo-

"We'll tell them you had an injury recently, boy, one that's put your progress back a while and required you to be retrained in some of the basics," Genma gloated. For once the boy had actually learned something! Ten wasted years trying to pound something, ANYTHING into that iron hard skull of his, then on the last day that impenetrable brain began to open up to the ways of martial wisdom at last!

He'd even made excellent progress, if you counted this as his only day of training! Genma suddenly got shifty. The trouble was, concealing the fact that it wasn't.

His depression lasted only a moment, though, and soon he was bouncing along the road again. "Come along, Naruto! We've had a glorious day, but we're already late for the place we're supposed to be going!"

At least the kid could roof-hop decently. That ought to go a long way toward fooling them, Genma thought slyly to himself.

Oh well! Soun wouldn't know a thing before the engagement was finalized anyway!

Naruto bounced along behind the man who was playing his father. This was the greatest day since he'd discovered ramen! The guy might look like a puffball, but he could sure teach! Ten hours of nonstop training! Life didn't get any better than this!

Just wait until he could show his new moves to Sakura!

This was the GREATEST mission EVER!!!! How had that jonin been stupid enough to get himself pulled off of this?

The boy puzzled it out, then he remembered! Those two who'd given him the mission had said that the jonin they were pulling off had to go home to deal with some honor troubles he had. So he wouldn't be back for a while.

And while that guy went off to go deal with fiancees somewhere, Naruto was free to take over his mission of saving princesses for as long as he liked!!

Naruto chuckled darkly to himself. Hah! See if he EVER gave this mission up!

Then it began to rain, and Naruto dissolved down into a puddle of wavy limbs.

-oOoOo-

"Father, are these your friends?" Kasumi asked in quietly growing horror.

Soun Tendo's hair flew around his face with the force of his shaking head.

"Oh, so this panda and a tentacle demon just decided to drop in?" the youngest yelled.

Kasumi discretely passed her sister a large mallet, saying, "Remember, Akane, the ends of the tentacles are very sensitive. Smash those first and you should stun it long enough to finish off the rest; not to mention being safer while you attack it. Since this is your first time, better to whack every tentacle before you go after the main body, just to be sure."

Somewhere in the mass of tentacles that was Naruto's current body, his eyes widened in fright. Wait! If he could only just explain!

He reached out some tentacles imploringly towards the girls, just as he'd reach out arms begging them to listen to a plea he could not voice.

"Father!" Kasumi darted back into the confines of her house, escaping the advance of smutty limbs with all the speed hasty decorum allowed.

"BAKA HENTAI!!" Akane brought down her whole weight behind the force of the mallet, squashing those seeking and probing members flat.

Somewhere deep in that mass, Naruto's eyes crossed with the pain.

-oOoOo-

"And this is my son..." Genma waved to the bruised boy slightly scalded with hot water that had arrived just barely in time.

"Naruto Uzumaki!" the badly beaten boy announced cheerily, hiding a wince as he peeked out from between his lashes.

The youngest Tendo sent him a withering gaze across the table. Her folded arms gave a convincing demonstration that she still thought he was a demon, just one that could briefly assume a human form. No telling what the tentacle hentai would try to do to them in the middle of the night. Kasumi should've let her just finish him off, despite Mr. Uzumaki dousing him with the kettle.

Suddenly Naruto felt himself picked up and engulfing in a Sand Coffin. To his startled gaze, Gaara stepped into his fiend of vision.

"Do you have money? I am required to extort money from you. Mother demands it, and it validates my existence."

Now Naruto was confused as he struggled fruitlessly A) Why didn't Gaara recognize him? And B) when did the sign for 'love' on his forehead get replaced by the one for 'Money'?

-oOoOo-

Author's Notes:

No, I don't think Naruto is stupid. However, this was mostly to emphasize that he has a COMPLETELY different approach than Ranma. And... all too often, he doesn't sweat the details.

Not sweating the details can and has gotten him into trouble before this.