Night: Hello hello, everyone. Take a seat, grab a soda, make yourself at home. Leech off of my plot bunny and enjoy yourself. This is a crossover of the Naruto and Super Smash Brothers fandom. I'm still not entirely sure where I plan to take it, but hopefully it will help you kill some time. As there's nothing much for me to comment about at the time, please, once you are finished with the chapter, drop a review. Onward!
Chapter One, In Which a Letter is Received.
Naruto's chested heaved up and down, and he dropped his extended arm, staring lifelessly at the place where his alarm clock had collided violently with the wall. Now, it was in pieces on the floor, its mechanisms winding down and silencing after their fatal crash.
It had been clicking away mercilessly all day, and he couldn't stand it any more. Every second it ticked and tocked and buzzed merrily along, Sasuke got further and further out of his reach, and there was nothing he could do. He didn't know where to look to find him, what to learn to beat him, how to learn it. Ero-Sennin was gone when he really needed him, as usual, so he couldn't ask for a crash course in ass-kicking, and Iruka-sensei was getting ready for that year's genin exam, reviewing basic jutsu with his current class.
There was always Kakashi-sensei, but Naruto wasn't his precious pet student. No use asking.
He supposed he could go eat at Ichiraku, or hang around the convenience store down the road that had some pretty good instant curry in stock and those really good anpan, but that was hardly productive. While people like Shino and Sakura were out improving themselves for the sakes of their own dreams, he would be stewing around eating junk food and wasting air.
And Sasuke, of course, would be leaving him further and further behind.
"Goddammit!" He growled, "What am I supposed to do?! I need to be stronger than Sasuke, but on top of that I need to know where he is! I promised Sakura I'd bring him back!"
Really, the guilt hadn't set in much during his extended hospital stay. Most of the time, he was doped up on pain medication and sedatives to keep him from weeping like a child or running off. And on top of that there was the occasional visitor to check up on him; Tsunade-baachan, Sakura-chan, Shikamaru and sometimes Hinata.
But now that he was alone in his dingy little apartment with only a broken alarm clock as his company, Naruto's failure was hitting him like a train wreck. He'd promised Sakura he'd bring Sasuke back, and he'd failed in that, even letting Sasuke throw him around like a sack of garbage. He'd also promised himself to save his brother. Not only had he failed Sakura, he'd failed his own expectations. As a person, as a friend, as a brother.
He hated feeling like a failure.
"This sucks." he whined helplessly. Another feeling he really hated. He slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. He hadn't eaten since last night, but he didn't feel hungry. He was thirsty but the sink was broken and he was out of milk.
When it rains it pours, he thought to himself. He knew the fox was laughing madly at him somewhere down there. Usually, he could feel some of the overflow of its emotions, but it had been quiet ever since the fight with Sasuke. Pissed off that it lost I bet.
Without the merciless mocking of the clock to bother him, Naruto found that things were rather quiet. It nagged at him a little, but he decided he liked it better than the tickticktickticktickticktick of that infernal machine and sat for a while. His thoughts cycled through anger and frustration, and desperation and despair repeatedly for what seemed hours, before finally a knock on the door jarred him from his reverie.
He shuffled over and yanked the door open, ignoring the ominous rattling of the hinges. There, in front of him, was Iruka-sensei, looking harried and tired, but overall happy to see him. And Naruto was happy to be seen. He needed a distraction.
"Hey, sensei." Naruto answered, "Wanna come in?"
"No, let's go for a walk." Iruka offered, "I'll buy you something to eat. Ramen?"
Naruto shook his head. "I....don't feel hungry. I'd kind of like a soda, though."
That in itself, Naruto knew, would be a slight surprise to his teacher and father figure. Though he loved junk food, Naruto tended to limit himself to things like ramen and over-processed bread in the category. He really did eat healthy enough, and he especially stayed away from carbonated things like soda, but today he needed something sweet. Really sweet.
Iruka nodded. "Alright, if that's what you want. I'll buy you some Ramune."
Naruto smiled. "Thanks a lot sensei."
Konoha was receding into the muggy, standing heat of summer, the sky blinding blue and yellow and white with sun, clouds and clarity. As Iruka popped open a bottle of melon flavored soda for Naruto, watching with mild interest as the marble dropped from the top and down and the liquid began to fizz, the younger boy was overcome with nostalgia.
When Naruto was very young, Iruka had been a newly appointed chuunin, assigned by the Hokage as his temporary caretaker. During many summer days before he'd entered the Academy as a student, Iruka had only been 'oniichan', his big brother. The ramune sodas had been Iruka's favorites, and they'd been a staple while the two had lived together as surrogate family.
Naruto accepted the drink from Iruka and took a long gulp, relishing the sweet tasted and the light bitterness that followed. Iruka's was pineapple flavored, a nearly flourescent yellow color. They sat on the bench and sipped at the treats for a while, silent, until the teacher finally spoke up.
"So it failed." he remarked.
"...yeah." Naruto muttered.
"Well, this time." Iruka added. "As long as you're alive, you can try again."
"...Yeah, I know," Naruto insisted, "I know that, but...I mean, what am I supposed to do until I get another chance? I can't leave the village to look for him, no one who could help me train is around or willing, and I can't just sit here, sensei!"
Iruka hummed and guzzled down the rest of his drink. "I suppose. You always hated staying inactive. For now, though, maybe it's better to just stay moving and distract yourself rather than overthinking things. Visit your friends in the hospital. Play some games with Konohamaru and the other kids. Just get your mind off of things until something comes."
Naruto slumped and took another sip of his soda. Sweet, then bitter. Sweet, then bitter. He sighed.
Naruo jerked his head away from Iruka and stared down the street where Sakura was waving him over. He looked a little apologetically at his mentor. "Thanks for the ramune, Iruka-sensei." he said, "I'll see you around."
still clutching his half-empty drink, Naruto scampered away until he was only inches from his teammate and smiled brightly, the picture of excitement. "What's up, Sakura-chan?"
"Lady Tsunade asked for you." Sakura said, looking a little longing when she saw his drink. "She said she'd like to see you as soon as you were available."
Naruto grinned, finally feeling a little chipper. If Tsunade-baachan was asking for him, it could be a mission, or a training exercise, or... "Well, I'm not busy!" he said, "I'll go over right away!"
Sakura nodded and glanced at his soda again. "That's a ramune isn't it?" she asked, "I really liked those when I was little."
"They're Iruka-sensei and I's favorite." Naruto said. "Are you gonna come too, Sakura-chan?"
Sakura nodded and began walking with him. "Yes. I'm still working on my studies, so whenever Tsunade-sama has spare time I like to be nearby so I can ask for help if I need it."
Naruto nodded. "That's cool. You want a sip of my soda?"
Sakura blanched. "Ugh, no, Naruto! I don't want your germs in my mouth!"
Naruto groaned, feigning injury, but shrugged and took another sip. "Suit yourself, Sakura-chan."
It had never been in Naruto's habit to knock on the door of the Hokage's Office. Not when he was a small child, not when he was a student, and certainly not now. And though it had been his habit to merely throw the door open shouting, his warped mood and mindset for the day had led him to at least slow down and enter the room like a normal human being. Sakura's threatening presence might also have had something to do with it, but it was still uncommon, and Tsunade was rather surprised.
"Yo, baachan!" naruto exclaimed with a wave, finishing off the last of his drink, "Sakura-chan said you wanted me for something! It's training, right? Please say it's training! Or a mission, or-"
"Not training, Naruto." said Tsunade simply, "And not a mission, either. It's a letter."
"A...what? Letter?" Naruto asked, strolling up to the desk and setting the empty bottle from his soda down.
There was a post box right outside Naruto's apartment. Any local, or unofficial mail he received would have gone straight there, unless it was something like a mission specifically requesting him or a delivery from another shinobi village. The fact that something had been screened first by the Hokage before being handed directly to him meant it should be a mission or something, but as Tsunade said...
"That's right." said the Fifth, "It arrived this morning from a place that isn't too well known by most people. It's surprising that you'd get an invitation, but...well, read it yourself. Go on."
With that, Shizune stepped forward and handed him a crisp, white envelope with a colorful wax seal and ribbon. It looked to Naruto like two open palms holding a globe of some sort, but he was more interested in what the envelope contained than what it was sealed with. Nevermind that it was uncommon for anyone these days to send long distance mail using an envelope instead of a scroll.
The seal snapped without any spark of chakra, and Naruto slipped out a folded piece of parchment, pristine and clean, and opened that. Written on it were several paragraphs in elegant script.
"What's it say?" Sakura asked curiously.
"...I'll, uh....I'll read it out loud." Naruto muttered.
To the young master by the name of Uzumaki Naruto,
I am called the Master Hand, of Mid-Air City and Stadium. At this time, I would like to extend to you a cordial invitation to the next Smash Tourney, in which I hope you will deign to participate. It is fully understood that you may decline this request in favor of continuing on with your usual activities, but please keep in mind that this is a wonderful opportunity.
From what I know you are someone who thirsts to better himself. I am not saying this is the best way to do so, but I will say I believe that your participation would help you to become stronger; perhaps in more ways than one.
If you have not heard of the Smash Tourney before now, I apologize if this all sounds very foreign to you. However, I believe there may be some you can ask for information in your hometown. Perhaps the military leader or a teacher. I have little time to explain now.
However, if you do indeed decide to accept my invitation and attend the next tourney, know that your letter, if punctually delivered, should arrive one fortnight before registration begins. If you wish to accept the invitation, please write your acceptance on the card provided and re-seal the envelope in which it was delivered. Six days after, your transportation will arrive.
Thank your for your consideration and heroism.
The Master Hand.
For a moment, Naruto was silent. He wasn't at all sure what to make of the letter. From what little he could gather, some old geezer wanted him over at his place for a tournament of some kind, but that was really all.
"Tsunade-baachan, do you know anything about all this?" he asked hopelessly, "I don't understand at all."
Tsunade smiled. "I'm happy to say that I do. I've never participated or been invited myself, but once I did attend. What this man, the Master Hand, is talking about is indeed called the Smash Tourney. Every few years, the greatest heroes from across time and space are invited to a place called Mid-Air City, where there is the Mid-Air Stadium. There, for sport or for training, they battle to the top. You may even be lucky enough to meet one of your storybook heroes, because some of them do exist."
Sakura stepped forward. "Hold on, so you're saying that Naruto's invited to a tournament against a bunch of fairytale knights?"
"Evidently he caught the committee's eye." chuckled Tsunade, "And children as young as six have participated in the past. Often, little known, local heroes even show up. There are worlds outside our own, as well, and many people from them also attend. When I went and witnessed a tournament when I was younger, a man named Mario won."
Naruto glanced down at the envelope. "And they want me to come? Do I have to go."
"Like the letter said, only if you want to. Feel free to take some time and think about it."
Naruto was silent for a long time. He rolled things over in his head. He could stay and stew in his thoughts and depression until Ero-Sennin showed up again, or he could take his chance to learn a little something from some ultra-cool heroes and get strong enough to drag Sasuke's ass back from Orochimaru's funny farm.
He rustled through the envelope and pulled out a flourescent blue card. "Tsunade-baachan, gimme a pen." he said, catching the thrown utensil deftly and scribbling messily on the paper.
Uzumaki Naruto will come to the tournament.
As he finished scribbling in messy katakana, the card sparked with light and spun away from his hand, disappearing in a flash of light with a deep, rumbling voice.
"Thank your for your participation, Uzumaki Naruto. At the gate of your home in six days, at sunrise, be ready to leave."
Night: One fast edit, here. A friend of mine mentioned that there are some cultural references in this story I might want to explain, so I'm going to do that now.
1. Ramune- This is an admittedly delicious brand of soda originally sold in Japan, but I think you can find it some places here in the US too. It comes in a funny shaped bottle, and the stopper, or 'lid' is actually a colored marble stuck in the top. You get a little thing with the drink in order to push the marble down into the bottle, where it stops at the bottom of the chamber to hold it. You can watch it move around whenever you take a drink. I've tried the stuff myself and it's very good. It has a higher carbonation level than most American sodas, though, so the aftertaste is just a little bit bitter. It comes in many flavors like mango, pineapple, strawberry, melon, etc. The 'plain' flavor is generally lemon-lime.
2. Anpan- I've never had one of these, but I've heard that they're pretty good. An anpan is a Japanese sweet bun filled with red bean paste. There are lots of different kinds.
I apologize for not explaining these before. In the future, I'll try to remember to do so.