Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Pokémon. If I did, I'd have a lot of money…but I don't. So don't bother suing, you won't get anything out of it.
Notes: Welcome to my first crack at a crossover. Here there be Naruto characters and Pokémon monsters. This is a one-shot. There might—I stress, might—be a few one-shot sequels or short stories, but I can promise nothing. My muse is a fickle one…
Naruto Uzumaki skulked out into the woods that bordered his home in a glum mood. His classmates had passed their tests yesterday and were off getting their first pokémon and their pokédexes so that they could leave Konoha Town behind as pokémon trainers. But he'd totally blown the written exam necessary to earn his trainer license, so he was stuck in town, in school, the class loser.
It wasn't that he didn't know the material on the exam. His mother was a former professional trainer, so he knew all about pokémon. He just had a weird block about written exams. As soon as the papers were set on his desk, his mind would blank, leading him to panic and fail. He'd attempted the test twice before, so his most recent failure was his third. It was absolutely humiliating.
Maybe Sasuke-teme's right, Naruto thought numbly as he wandered farther and farther from his house. Maybe I am just a class-clown loser. If I can't handle the stress of a written exam, how can I keep my head in a real battle?
A distant cry interrupted his gloomy thoughts and he realized just how deep into the trees he'd wandered. It wasn't safe to travel alone too far from civilization. While most wild pokémon avoided humans, some were territorial and aggressive.
Naruto rubbed at his cheek, recalling his own harsh lesson in this fact. When he'd been two or three, he'd wandered away from home and come across a wild meowth that he'd mistaken for a tame one he'd seen in town. Somehow he got close enough to hug it, and the feline had reacted violently—clawing at his face. Despite his mother's efforts, the scratches had gotten infected, leaving thin scars that oddly looked like animal whiskers on his face.
He started to turn around and head home when a flash of pale pink darted past his face. With a yelp, he stumbled backwards, tripped over a tree root, and landed hard on his rear. And then he heard the cry again.
Glancing up, he spied a small pinkish thing hovering several yards away. It seemed to be some kind of pokémon, but before he could get a good look at it, it darted deeper into the woods. Intrigued, and momentarily forgetting the danger, Naruto got up and jogged after it, hoping to determine what it was.
He caught sight of it a few more times. It was flying somehow, but it didn't have wings. It had a tiny body, and a very long, thin tail. Whatever it was, he had no clue. He was mostly familiar with water pokémon (his mother's specialty) and some of the more popular kinds that big-time trainers used in their televised matches.
Of all the trainers he watched on TV, his favorite had to be the current League Champion of Fire Country, Minato Namikaze. He always got wound up when he watched the man coolly guide his monsters into victory over his opponents'. Oddly, his mother would always get tense, and sometimes leave the room, during the Champion's fights. Naruto always meant to ask why, but then some other cool fight would come on and he would forget.
The pink thing, which had always appeared far away from him, suddenly it appeared much closer by and flew right at his face again.
"Gak!" Naruto squeaked and toppled backwards again. "Hey!"
The mystery pokémon seemed to laugh at him. It swirled around his head for a moment, then rapidly shot upwards through the forest canopy and vanished. Naruto listened hard for it, but heard nothing more than the rustling of the leaves in the light breeze.
"…Jerk," he muttered darkly, and started to climb to his feet for the second time…but his fingers brushed against something furry. "Eh?"
It was a different pokémon, with its head trapped under a raised tree root. It was muddy and damp (probably from that morning's brief rainstorm) and it was hard to tell what color it actually was. It laid ominously still and he wondered if it was dead.
"Uh, hey…" He poked it warily. "You alive?"
At first it had no reaction. But around the third or fourth poke, it suddenly broke out into a flurry of struggling. It didn't seem to know whether to crawl forward or edge backwards to escape the root. After a few seconds of wild wriggling, it fell still again.
"Oh," Naruto blinked. "You are alive…and still stuck." He moved to carefully grasp the thing around its middle and pull back. "Let me help you out…"
It took some pulling; the thing had really gotten itself stuck. After one last yank, it came free. It was still too damp, disheveled, and dirty to tell what it was, but at least it wasn't stuck under a tree root and at risk of dying anymore.
"There, isn't that better?"
The pokémon opened its dark eyes, and then opened its mouth and let out a terrible, teeth-rattling sound.
Naruto had dropped it and was on his feet and running before he realized what had happened. He slipped in a patch of mud and got the wind knocked out of him, preventing him from fleeing further. Who knew such a tiny thing could make such a terrifying sound?
Roar! he realized as he lay wheezing. It used roar on me! That jerk! I help it out and it roars at me!
Angry, he staggered to his feet and stalked back towards where the dirty pokémon lay. It had barely moved; it had only crawled about a foot from where he'd dropped it and it didn't seem able to stand. It's strange weakness made him think that it was sick, or of a type that was vulnerable to water so it was still suffering from the morning rain.
"You jerk," Naruto muttered as he scooped the little, four-legged thing up and started to head for home. "You're lucky I'm such a nice guy! If I left you out here by yourself, I bet something big and mean would eat you…"
The pokémon squirmed and whined a bit, but did little else. Apparently its earlier struggling and the roar had exhausted it. That made the long walk back home a great deal easier.
His house was a nice little cottage at the edge of town, surrounded by the forest and on the shores of Lake End. His mother grew rare berries around the house and let her water pokémon swim around in the small, deep lake. It was just far enough from the main part of town to feel isolated, but it was more peaceful than lonely. Whenever he felt too alone, he'd just go to the lake and play with her pokémon.
"Mom?" he called when he slipped through the front door. There was no answer. "Huh, she must've gone into town."
With a shrug, he kicked off his shoes and went into the bathroom. Not wanting to use water and risk hurting it, he found a ratty old towel and just rubbed the mud off. Underneath the grime, he found short, soft golden-yellow fur with a darker shade on its little paws. What had seemed like a fan-shaped tail turned out to be six orange-ish tails that were bunched closely together. There were also some orange curls on its head between its triangular ears.
"…A vulpix?" he wondered as he studied the half-conscious little monster. "Hmm…"
With his mother's old pokédex locked away, he left the pokémon wrapped in a towel in the bathroom to fetch a pokémon encyclopedia. Grabbing the volume on fire types, he returned to the mystery beast and flipped the pages until he came to the entry on the vulpix. Comparing it to the pictures provided, it matched the images of a male vulpix perfectly, except…it was the wrong color. Vulpixes were rusty pink and red, not golden-yellow and golden-orange.
"Weird," he murmured and picked up a limp paw. "…Did someone dye you?"
The strange vulpix twisted around and bit his fingers with needle-sharp teeth.
"Ouch!" Naruto hissed and jerked back. "You nasty little demon!"
The little fire fox glared venomously at him before pointedly turning its head from him and acting like he wasn't there.
"I save your life and you bite me!" he fumed. "Thanks a lot! And here I was thinking of keeping you…"
He wouldn't be able to compete in gyms for badges or enter the Pokémon League tournaments unless he tried for a trainer's license again, but there was nothing preventing him from keeping this particular monster. A license wasn't needed to keep a single pokémon as a pet, and getting a license for keeping more for pets or breeding purposes wasn't as difficult as getting a trainer's license. Although his mother was a big proponent of water pokémon he didn't think that she'd mind him having other types, like fire-types (this was Fire Country after all, it was practically patriotic to have one!). And vulpixes evolved into ninetails when exposed to fire stones, and Minato Namikaze had an awesome ninetails so…
"Naruto!" his mother called. "You home?"
"Yeah!" he shouted back. "I'm in the bathroom!"
"What are you doing in the bathroom with the door…open…" Her voice trailed off as she reached the room and spied the dirty towel bundled on top of the toilet lid. "…What is that?"
"A vulpix," Naruto answered. "I found it trapped in some roots in the forest. I think it got rained on."
She moved the towel to the side so she could get a better look, then snatched the encyclopedia from his hands and studied the pictures. "…It's the wrong color."
"I know," he shrugged. "I think someone dyed it."
"I don't know," she frowned and brushed her fingers over its pelt. "The rain should've washed some of the dye out—" It snapped at her fingers, but she jerked her hand away before it could score a hit. "Mean little sucker."
"Yeah," Naruto pouted. "I got it free from the roots, and it roared at me!"
She raised a red eyebrow. "And you still brought it home?"
"I didn't want to leave it to get eaten or die," he shrugged.
"Aww!" she grinned and ruffled his hair. "You're such a softie!"
"Mom!" he whined and leaned away from her hand. "Stop it!"
She laughed at him a bit. "So…do you plan on keeping this little demon?"
Naruto eyed the little fire fox, which was still stubbornly ignoring the two humans with it in the small room. "…Yeah," he decided. "I'm sure that it won't be so mean once it figures out that we're not out to hurt it."
"It usually takes longer to tame a wild pokémon if you don't defeat it in battle and trap it in a pokéball," she warned him.
"I know," Naruto replied and rubbed at his scarred cheek. "I want to try though…"
For as long as he could remember, he'd always wanted to be a pokémon trainer. He wanted to go to exotic places and meet strange creatures and have loyal monster minions, just like his mother had. He wasn't too keen on trying the trainer test again after three miserable failures, so maybe he should just settle for one loyal companion…
"You know," his mother remarked. "If you still want to be a trainer, there's another way to get a license."
"What?!" Naruto yelped. "Why didn't you say so before?!"
"You didn't want to listen to me last night," she shrugged. "All you did was sulk in your room. And I was hoping that you'd get over your fear of tests and pass the exam on your own, but after three tries…"
"Well, what do I have to do?!" Naruto demanded.
"Go to Professor Sarutobi and see if you can persuade him to grant you a probationary license."
"Okay, thanks, bye!" he cried and darted from the house, heading for the Professor's laboratory at a dead run.
I wish I knew about that after the first test! he thought angrily. Then I wouldn't have had to embarrass myself by failing again and again! Oh well…
He entered the heart of the small town of Konoha and kept going towards the opposite side where the massive laboratory was situated.
I hope there are still some pokémon left for me! I want to get one that will beat Sasuke-teme's! I want to show them all that I'm more than a stupid clown!
Kushina Uzumaki sighed as she watched her son streak away. He's always in such a hurry. If only little boys never grew up…
Shaking her head, she carefully moved the odd vulpix into a new clean towel and carried it to the living room. Placing it on an armchair, she tucked a few heat packs into the towel to warm it up and help it recover from the chilly morning rain. Then she stepped out the backdoor and gazed out over Lake End.
"Uzu-chan!" she called, and moments later a vaporeon slipped out of the water to eye her curiously. "I need you to come inside and play guard-dog."
The water pokémon shook the water from its smooth blue skin and obediently followed her inside. She directed it to watch over the dozing untamed fire pokémon to make sure that it didn't cause any mischief and then went into the kitchen. She had some groceries to put away and lunch to make.
Maybe I should've mentioned the probationary license before. But he shouldn't be so afraid of pieces of paper. I wasn't the best at school myself, but I never had so much trouble with taking exams.
…I don't think that he ever did either.
She tried not to think of him. It was hard when Naruto would smile at her, or he would come on TV, but still she tried. She'd made her choices long ago, and there was no going back on them—not now, after so long.
I want Naruto to succeed…but I hope that they never meet.
Professor Hiruzen Sarutobi, former gym leader and retired League Champion, puffed on his pipe and gave the hopeful blonde boy a calculating look. The boy—who he recognized to be young Naruto Uzumaki—was panting for breath and rather sweaty; he probably had sprinted the entire way from his home. And he had smears of mud on his face, hands, blue jeans, and orange T-shirt.
"So, you want a probationary trainer's license?" he asked slowly.
"Yeah," Naruto panted.
"I would give you one—I know that your mother has taught you all that you need to know to start on your way to being a successful trainer—but…"
"But what?" the boy pouted.
"I have no pokémon to give you," the old man admitted regretfully.
The exam results had told him that only nine students were qualified, so he had only ordered nine starting pokémon. None of the nine had backed out, so all of the monsters had been distributed. He didn't even have a pikachu (which were sometimes used when a professor unexpectedly fell short) to give the boy.
"Oh…" The blonde boy slumped. "You can't…get any more?"
"I usually don't get any more for another six months—the time of next trainer exam," the professor explained. "I could put in a special request, but it would be at least two weeks before I could get anything for you."
"Why would it take so long?" Naruto asked.
"Towns and cities all over the country have this test at the same time, so the demand for starting pokémon is immense," he lectured. "And it takes time to breed these pokémon. The breeders who supply us professors can produce only so many of the starting species at a time."
"Oh…" The young Uzumaki slumped further in disappointment. But then he perked up a bit. "What if I already have a pokémon?"
The old professor gave him a curious look. "Your mother offered to provide you with one?"
"Nah, I found a vulpix in the woods. Could I use that?"
"You could," the professor nodded slowly and puffed on his pipe. "Ever since the starting species of pokémon was standardized, it's rare that a beginning trainer will opt to go with anything else." He chuckled. "When I first began my journey, my starting pokémon was a mankey!"
"Wow," Naruto blinked, "you're old, Old Man."
Professor Sarutobi gave him a frosty stare. "…Maybe I shouldn't give you that license after all."
"Ah! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" the boy yelped and bowed and apologized in a panic.
"Alright," the professor sighed. "Wait here, I'll be right back."
He retreated to a back workroom and pulled a blank pokédex. After tinkering with it a bit, he grabbed a small pouch which he filled with six empty and shrunken basic balls, and returned to where the boy was waiting for him. In his absence, one of his pokémon, an ambipom, had climbed along the ceiling and was hanging there by one tail-hand to poke the boy in the head with the other tail-hand. Naruto looked about ready to try and retaliate.
"Enough of that," he scolded the monkey pokémon and waved it away, "off with you!" He turned to the boy. "Before I give you a probationary license, do you know how it works?"
"Uh…no," the boy sheepishly admitted.
"I didn't think so," the professor smiled. "It's almost exactly like a regular pokémon trainer license, except for one thing. If you fail to legally acquire three gym badges from gyms affiliated with the Pokémon League within one year, the license will expire and you will have to come home. However, if you acquire three badges or more within the time limit, your license will be upgraded to a full and permanent trainer's license and, once you possess the minimum eight badges, you will be able to enter into any of the Pokémon League Tournaments held throughout the year. Do you understand?"
"Yeah!" the boy nodded eagerly, his bright blue eyes shining with excitement and determination. "I can do that no problem!"
"Okay," he chuckled and activated the pokédex and handed it over along with the free pokéballs (a consolation gift for not being able to present the boy with his first monster minion). "So you'll be starting your journey with a vulpix, eh?"
"Yeah, I found it in the woods today. I think it got stuck in the rain." He shoved the pokéballs into his pocket and started fiddling with his new pokédex. "I think it was dyed a funny color by somebody, but my mom doesn't think so."
That got the professor's attention immediately. "A funny color, you say?"
"Uh-huh," the boy nodded, his attention still absorbed by his new piece of technology. "It's like…golden instead of rusty-looking."
"Really?" Professor Sarutobi murmured thoughtfully. "Would you follow me, please?"
He led the newly-minted trainer into a different workroom where there was an idle computer terminal. After waking up the screen, the old professor did a quick search. Calling up a particular image, he showed it to the boy.
"Yeah," he nodded. "That's what it looks like. I…I don't suppose it was dyed to look like that…"
"No, it's the result of a natural but very rare mutation," the professor explained. "This vulpix was captured and studied nearly twenty years ago."
"Wow," the boy breathed. "Is the weird color the only thing special about it?"
"Some professors believe that rarely-colored pokémon are smarter or stronger, but there just aren't enough of them known to science to gather any concrete data to prove things one way or the other." He glanced over at the youngster. "Do you think you could bring yours by before you leave town? I'd like to gather some data on it, and I can restore its health if it's still suffering from its little ordeal out in the woods."
"Sure thing!" the boy grinned and jogged off towards home. "See you later, Old Man!"
The old professor sighed, and then sighed again when he found that his pipe had burned through all the tobacco in it.
The chance to study a "shiny" pokémon… He smirked. Won't Professor Chiyo be envious!
Hiruzen Sarutobi paced through his laboratory thoughtfully, pausing to glance at some of the photos he had of trainers that he had befriended or mentored over the years, and wondered where he might stick the picture of one Naruto Uzumaki one day.
…That boy has the chance to go far.
Naruto grinned wildly as he stood at the start of the path that led out of Konoha Town and out into the much wider world. He'd cleaned up and now wore his goggles (good for navigating sandstorms and blizzards, his mother had said when he'd gotten them) on his forehead, a backpack on his back, fingerless gloves on his hands, and a blue vest-like jacket over his bright orange T-shirt. His mother and her team of favorite pokémon sat off to the side, wishing him well on his journey. His classmates had all left ahead of him, and he was sure that they had more humans than pokémon waving them farewell. But he didn't mind—his mother was all that he needed.
He had all the supplies necessary for his new nomadic lifestyle. There was the basic survival gear: a one-man pup tent and bedroll in case he had to camp out in the wild for the night, a first aid kit (with human and pokémon medicines), a map of the continent, a water bottle, and food rations (human and basic pokémon). He also had a few changes of clothes, his favorite nightcap, and some pictures from home. His mother had also given him one of her old fishing rods, telling him if he broke it or wanted something better he'd have to buy it himself. With a small stock of berries from his mother's garden, he was all set.
His wretched little furball was all set to go too. The tiny fox had slept most of time that he'd been at the professor's place, and it had been rather docile when he brought it to the old man, but as soon as the professor had started his examination it had gotten nasty. It tried to bite and roar, and after its health had been restored it spat embers at them. The professor ended up having to summon his mighty infernape to intimidate the tiny vulpix into accepting confinement within a pokéball.
But everything was fine now. His evil glittery beast was safely contained and transportable. He had everything that he needed. He had his pokédex, some pokéballs, and most importantly his license (So what if it was probationary? He'd make it permanent!). Now all he had to do was get on the road!
"Call home whenever you get to a new place," his mother instructed him. "If you ever get your hands on something that can fly, teach it how to carry mail so you can keep in touch even when you're out in the wilds for weeks at a time. And if you're ever in the area, don't be afraid to stop by and see us."
Her motley assortment of water monsters echoed that sentiment with their own unique calls.
"Yeah, don't worry mom, I will," he promised, shifting from foot to foot in his anxiety to get going.
She smiled warmly at him…but her smile wavered and she looked like she might cry as she abruptly hugged. "Stay safe," she pleaded quietly.
"Don't worry," he frowned, "I will."
"Okay," she sighed and let him go, rubbing at her eyes. "Now you get out there and show them who's boss!"
"Hai!" he cried with a salute and jogged off down the path. "I'll call you when I can! Bye!"
Naruto kept glancing over his shoulder until his mother was completely out of sight. Then he slowed his pace and took the time to take in his surroundings. As he walked, he plucked the shrunken ball that contained his new companion from his belt to study it. It was really cool how something the size of a baseball could shrink down into a Ping-Pong ball when not in use. He'd personalized the ball by painting a white swirl on the red top half—the ancient symbol of the Uzumaki family. Tapping the button, he expanded the sphere to full size so that the creature inside would be able to hear him better.
"Hey there!" he greeted cheerfully. "I know that you don't like me that much, but I'm sure that we'll get to be great friends and I'll totally turn you into a battling beast! I think I'll name you…" He thought long and hard, as his special monster required an appropriate name. "…Demon," he decided at last. "Your name is Demon, and one day other trainers and pokémon will tremble at our names! We'll be awesome!"
…I just hope that Demon doesn't burn my face off first.