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: (Crossover, could be a crack!fic if you want) Here there be Naruto characters and Pokémon monsters! This is a one-shot which follows "Shiny Demon".

I hope that you enjoy it!

Soothe the Savage

"Come back here you!" Naruto snarled as he sprinted through the trees.

Up ahead, a flash of gold fur faded in and out of visibility through the brush. It gave no sign that it had heard his command, or that it cared. Desperately trying to keep up, a little furry blob of yellow chased his heels.

Gah! Stupid, good for nothing, little…grr! I turn my back for one second!

Taming Demon seemed to be a losing battle. He didn't like being confined, so Naruto tried to let the vulpix out of its ball as often as possible. But if he wasn't vigilant, Demon would capitalize on any opportunity to escape. The fox wouldn't follow him; if he tried to carry it the beast would try to bite or burn him. His first minion was anti-social to the extreme. It didn't even seem to like other pokémon.

Barely a day from home, he'd stumbled over a small, yellow pokémon being washed away down a narrow but fast-moving stream. Naruto had managed to get it out with the aid of his fishing pole and found it to be a male pichu. It was very glad to be saved from drowning and quickly warmed up to him, allowing him to capture it without a battle. But as soon as he tried to introduce Bolt (the pichu) to Demon, a fight had broken out, with Demon the clear aggressor.

Things hadn't gotten any better when he'd made another capture the day before. Coming across a nice calm bend of the stream, he'd whipped out his pole and used it as it was intended to be used. A good-sized male magikarp had quickly gone after the bait and, with an assist from Bolt, had just as easily captured it. When Demon met it, he had spat embers upon it and then pointedly ignored the dopey-looking fish.

At best, his team was dysfunctional. Bolt and Typhoon (the magikarp) were great—they got along with him and with each other. But the moment that Demon was loosed, all hell would erupt.

Ah, this is a nightmare! Naruto grimaced as he felt a stitch tightening in his side. We're never going to be ready to take on a gym leader!

As much as he hated to admit it, he was thinking of sending Demon away. Once he'd picked up another monster or two, he would get to a pokémon center PC and send the vulpix back to Konoha Town where it would live on Professor Sarutobi's reserve. Then the professor would be able to study the "shiny" vulpix to his heart's content while Naruto wouldn't have to deal with the headache.

But that would be quitting… And I don't want to quit! I want Demon to be the toughest it can be! The whole "shiny" thing about him is just a bonus…

Wheezing for breath, Naruto tried to manage one last burst of speed to close the gap so that he could recapture his runaway. Demon lunged through a bush, and Naruto followed. And then he crashed into someone.


Naruto hurried scrambled off the body (which was female according to the sound of the voice), rather unnerved at the fact that a stranger knew who he was. But once he got a look at who he'd collided with, he realized that she wasn't a stranger. She was one of his old classmates.

"What the heck?" a gruff voice muttered.

Snapping his gaze away from the dark-haired, pale-eyed girl, he found two other familiar faces a few feet away. There was a boy in a high-collared coat and round-lensed shades which covered a good deal of his bland expression. And then there was a rather scruffy-looking boy with red triangular marks tattooed on his cheeks…who happened to have Demon dangling by one of his orange-ish tails.

"…Kiba?" Naruto blinked, as Bolt stumbled through the brush and flopped to the ground, panting.

The feral-looking boy turned to stare back at the recently arrived blonde. The girl and the boy with shades looked on at the staring contest in silence. The only sounds were Demon growling and snarling at being dangled upside-down and Bolt panting for breath.

And then, almost simultaneously, Naruto and Kiba pointed fingers at each other and cried out the same question:

"What are you doing here?!"

Naruto hunkered by the campfire and stared glumly into the flickering flames as dusk started to deepen into full night. Bolt was curled up in his lap and dozing, enjoying the warmth of the fire. Typhoon would've been out, but the only water around was in the collapsible fire bucket. Demon was behaving for the time being, staring into the fire and pointedly ignoring all the humans present.

On Naruto's left sat Hinata Hyuuga, his unfortunate victim. He didn't know her that well as she had barely said a word in class and always sat in the very back, like she was desperate to disappear. She was part of the influential Hyuuga family, known for running a gym on the other side of the country and wealthy from multiple evolution stone mines and the development of several lines of items that pokémon could carry that would boost their abilities. She had chosen a cute little piplup as her starting monster and it sat quietly at her side, well-mannered in all the ways that Demon wasn't.

On his right was Shino Aburame, the boy with sunglasses. Shino was just as quiet as Hinata, except he wasn't shy so much as he seemed to like sitting on the sidelines and watching people. His family was famous for their expertise on bug-type pokémon and Naruto wouldn't be surprised if they were tied with a bug-type gym somewhere. The Aburame made their money in researching environmentally-safe ways to keep bug pokémon from feeding of farm crops and stealing berries from human gardens. He had selected a turtwig from the professor, and Naruto was sure that he was rather disgruntled at the fact that there were no bug pokémon offered as starters. The young Aburame also had a strange bug pokémon with him (a nincada, he'd said) that his father had given to him as a gift for his success in becoming a trainer.

The final member of the traveling trio, Kiba Inuzuka, sat across the fire from Naruto. The Inuzukas were widely regarded breeders of canine pokémon. Their biggest clients were police departments all over the country which liked to use growlithe to sniff out illegal substances and assist in the capture of criminals. Kiba had chosen a chimchar, but he clearly favored a growlithe that he'd been officially presented with upon leaving town. He'd named the growlithe Akamaru and it didn't seem like he ever kept it in a pokéball.

There were several other high-profile families that lived in Konoha Town. The Naras made medicines for humans and pokémon and they had ranches where they raised stantler to use their antlers in more traditional remedies. The Yamanakas bred grass-type pokémon and had produced many famous pokémon coordinators—people who trained their pokémon to perform routines in pokémon contests instead of battling them. The Akimichi had developed many kinds of high grade pokémon food blends and owned a restaurant chain where trainers were welcome to allow their pokémon out to eat with them. The Uchiha were in the business of developing technical machines—specials one-use discs that could be used to teach pokémon certain moves—and "hidden" machines—multi-use discs that could be used multiple times as the moves that they contained were considered highly important. And, of course, the Sarutobis, known for producing fine trainers, managing a gym populated with monkey-like pokémon, and well-respected pokémon researchers.

Naruto had once asked his mother why so many rich families had settled in tiny, middle-of-nowhere Konoha Town instead of living in some big city. She told him that they preferred the more peaceful, natural setting of the small town. Big cities were full of stone and concrete and people rarely knew their neighbors there. Konoha Town also had Professor Sarutobi, one of the best professors, and when their children started their training adventures their excess pokémon (anything beyond the limit of six that could be carried at a time) those monsters would go to his preserve and get the finest care.

"So," Naruto muttered awkwardly into the quiet atmosphere, "why are you all traveling together?"

"Convenience," Shino answered. "We left Konoha Town at the same time and found it advantageous to travel in a group until we are accustomed to this new lifestyle."

Naruto scratched at his scarred cheek. "Er…"

"It's easier, it's safer, it's less lonely," Kiba declared. "Pick your reason!"

"Oh, okay." Naruto stroked his pichu, careful not to press too hard and get a taste of his static and lose feeling in his hand.

"Now how did you say you got a license?" Kiba demanded. "Last I heard, you blew the test for the third time."

Naruto scowled. "I talked to the professor and he gave me a probationary license. Once I beat three gyms, it'll count as a regular license."

"Good luck with that!" Kiba laughed. "With a dinky little pichu and a runaway vulpix, I bet the first leader you fight beats you with one pokémon!"

"I have a magikarp, too!" Naruto fumed.

"A magikarp?!" Kiba sputtered before dissolving into hysterical laughter.

"Shut up!" Naruto snapped.

Sure, magikarps were useless. Their first move, splash, did nothing and it took forever for them to learn anything else. But once they evolved into mighty gyarados, they were fantastic pokémon to have. It was possible to catch gyarados in the wild, but they were much harder to tame and dangerous to deal with. His mother had always told him that if he wanted to have a gyarados like she did, he should start out with a magikarp first like she had. And that was exactly what he was doing.

"Which gym do you plan on challenging first?" Shino asked while Kiba kept on laughing.

"I'm not sure," Naruto shrugged. "My map shows two towns nearby with gyms but I haven't made up my mind yet. Where are you guys going?"

"Kunoichi Town," Shino answered. "We have agreed to attempt acquiring the Illusion Badge before continuing on to Shinobi Town and the Copy Badge."

"You should come with us!" Kiba snickered. "Watching the gym leader stomp you will be a great show!"

"Knock it off, Kiba!" Naruto yelled, jumping up from his seat, sending Bolt tumbling from his lap. "I'm going to go to Shinobi Town and I'll totally take that badge from the gym leader!"

Kiba just started laughing harder again, as if Naruto had told a hilarious joke instead of making a serious declaration. Naruto glared venomously at the other boy before stalking off into the trees, away from the light of the fire. He didn't go too far (Bolt and Demon were still by the fire) he just wanted to be out of sight for a while.

It was just so frustrating that no one ever seemed to take him seriously. So what if he'd been a clown in school? Sitting in class and listening to the teacher drone on and on was boring. He'd spiced things up with smoke bombs, stink bombs, spit balls, paper airplanes, and all sorts of pranks.

But he'd buckled down in his last few school terms. He'd gotten his grades up so that he could get into the special classes hopeful trainers needed to pass so that they could leave school early. It didn't seem to matter to his classmates, though; he was still just a goofball loser to them.

Kiba's first thought upon seeing Demon had been that Naruto had dyed it either as a joke or as a way to get more attention and he scoffed at Naruto's claim that that was Demon's natural coloring. He also didn't believe Naruto when he claimed that he hadn't done anything to make Demon so foul-tempered. Shino and Hinata hadn't made any comments, but Naruto was sure that they agreed with Kiba.

The sound of a snapped twig yanked Naruto from his angry thoughts. Naruto spun around to find Hinata creeping up on him. Upon being caught, she froze.

"What do you want?" he muttered sullenly, still smarting from Kiba's ridicule.

"U-um…" The dark-haired girl seemed to shrink in on herself and started fidgeting with her index fingers. "I…I…"

Naruto squinted at her in the fading light while he waited for her to spit out what she wanted to say. It seemed really weird that Hinata would go on a training journey. She was so quiet and timid that he doubted she'd be able to control some of the bigger, more aggressive beasts. And combined with her stutter, he wondered if she even be able to give commands to her pokémon in a battle.

Maybe her family pressured her into it, he thought as the girl fumbled around in her coat pocket for something. Her dad always seemed so snobby, like he was better than everyone else. Or was that her uncle? I can't remember…

"H-here!" she squeaked, holding out a silver bell on a pink ribbon.

He gingerly took the item from the girl's trembling fingers and jiggled it experimentally. The bell's chime was soft and melodious, very unlike the bell collar he'd seen on the meowth that belonged to the wife of Konoha Town's mayor. He guessed that it was some kind of hold item, something meant to improve the abilities of a pokémon, but he didn't know much about hold items. His mother only gave her monsters berries, if she gave them anything at all.

"What is it?" he asked curiously.

"It's a…a s-s-soothe b-bell," she managed to force out while she stared fixedly at the dirt underneath her shoes. "It…it m-makes pokémon f-friendlier. I-I thought it might h-help with…with your v-vulpix."

He looked at her, and then back at the bell. She was doing this out of pity, he was sure. His pride smarted, and he wanted to give the bell back to her and declare that he didn't need it to tame Demon. But…it had nearly been a week and the vulpix's attitude only seemed to be getting worse. As much as he hated to admit it, even in the privacy of his own thoughts, he needed something like this.

"You don't need this?" he asked, half-hoping that he would have an excuse to give it back.

She shook her head. "My f-father gave it to m-me for my riolu, but…it h-hasn't hatched yet. I…I can always g-get another one later."

Her family gave her an egg instead of a pokémon? "Okay…" He scratched awkwardly at the back of his neck. "Thanks."

"Y-you're w-welcome!" she squeaked, bowed, and scampered back to the campfire.

Naruto hesitated a few minutes before following her back. He would attach the soothe bell to Demon in the morning, when it was still a bit sleepy. Then hopefully he'd have a chance to get on the little monster's good side.

…If it had one.

Hinata smiled as she snuggled into her bedroll for the night. She'd finally managed to approach Naruto and even speak with him! And hopefully her little gift would help him, too.

Her father would be very disappointed in her to hear that she'd lost the soothe bell he'd presented her with. He was disgusted with her painfully shy nature and seemed to have no faith in her at all. His assessment of her abilities was so dismal that he'd given her the bell; he believed that she would never get her riolu to the proper mental and emotional state that it would evolve into a lucario.

Maybe…I won't mention to father that I don't have the bell anymore. She pensively picked at a loose thread on her sleeve. Perhaps if I'm able to help my riolu evolve without it father will think better of me…

It seemed like a forlorn hope. Her father barely paid attention to her except to point out how mediocre she was in comparison to her younger sister and her older cousin. His expectations crushed her, his rules stifled her—she felt like a caged bird. He even was trying to arrange a marriage for her, certain that she would never be able to attract any suitable boy.

I…I won't give up, though! she decided. Naruto-kun tried and tried and even though he failed three times, he's found a way to become a pokémon trainer like he's always wanted. If I keep trying like him, then one day father will be proud of me instead of ashamed of me.

If I keep trying, one day I'll find a way to be free.

Naruto stuck his tongue out at Kiba as they parted ways in the morning. They headed northerly towards Kunoichi Town, and he headed more southerly to Shinobi Town. Kiba stuck his tongue out right back and threw in a mildly insulting gesture to boot. Hinata managed a timid wave while Shino gave him polite nod.

And then they were out of sight and he was alone again.

To keep things from getting creepy and quiet, he released Bolt and Demon from their spherical confinement. Bolt squeaked in delight and scampered around his feet as he walked. The happier the pichu was with him, the sooner it would evolve into a pikachu, which would be great as pichu's had notoriously bad control over their electrical powers. Demon was much less enthusiastic.

As planned, the moment he woke up, he had gotten the vulpix out to tie the soothe bell around its neck. Demon had not reacted well at all. The golden-hued fox thrashed and pawed desperately at the bell in an attempt to dislodge it with no success. It nearly set the tent he'd slept in on fire in its distress and Naruto had been forced to return it to its ball.

Now it slunk alongside him, looking thoroughly grumpy in spite of the soft chimes that the bell made with every step it took. Naruto felt bad, but he didn't dare take the bell off. Eventually the little fire fox would grow accustomed to wearing it, and then the bell's soothing powers would start to take effect.

And the bell had another unexpected benefit: If Demon ever tried to sneak off again, he'd hear it go.

"Cheer up, Demon!" he grinned. "That bell makes you look snazzy!"

Demon growled at him before spitting a spray of red-hot embers around his feet.

"Hey! No more of that!" he scolded as Bolt climbed up his leg to take refuge on his shoulders from the fire attack. "Whatever happened to you to make you so mean?"

The vulpix gave him a fiery glare before stubbornly looking away and ignoring him.

Naruto sighed and rubbed at Bolt's diamond-shaped ear. At least the fox was following him as he walked now. The first few days he'd had to make a leash out of string and drag the little beast along. It was one positive thing…in a pile of negative things.

We'll get through this…somehow.

Squaring his shoulders, Naruto marched on down the path that would lead him to his next destination.

"On to Shinobi Town!" he declared. "And out first gym!"