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 spans all over the timeline…

I hope that you enjoy it!


10 Things to do With a Rod…

A fishing rod is simply not just a tool for catching fish. It is far more than a pole, line, and hook. It can do all sorts of things from finding friends to saving lives. When used properly, a fishing rod can be the key to adventure!

For example…


1 – Learn to fish!

"Kenshin-nii-san," Kushina whined, "please?"

"No," her eldest brother grunted and shoved more fried egg in his mouth.

Six-year-old Kushina was not deterred. "Pretty please?"

"No," he repeated. "Now get off my leg and go away."

"Nuh-uh!" She shook her head. "I won't go until you teach me how to fish."

"You won't like it," Kenshin muttered. "It's boring. And the bait is slimy and smelly."

"I don't care!" she declared. "Teach me!"

The rusty-haired boy ignored her.

"Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please"—she had to pause for breath—"please, please, please, please, please, please, plea—"

"Fine," he growled. "After I finish my lunch I'll teach you how to fish."

"Yay!"

It was hard to wait. She wanted to master the skill right now. But her brother seemed to be dragging his feet with eating his lunch. The girl wanted to yell at him, but she wasn't about to risk him taking back his agreement to teach her.

When he was finally ready to get going she danced all around him as he sluggishly collected his rod and a bait container. While he trudged down the stairs to the sea at the base of the cliffs she ran circles around him. As he debated a good fishing spot she couldn't stop bouncing and grinning.

"I don't see why you're bothering me," Kenshin groused. "Why can't you wait for dad to teach you?"

"He's busy," Kushina complained.

"Yeah, he's always busy," her eldest sibling sighed and glanced out towards the lighthouse at the point and the small rocky island offshore of it where Uzu Town's gym was located. "Okay, now watch what I do very carefully, I don't want to have to show you this a million times…"

Kushina put all her focus into watching and listening as he demonstrated how to bait the hook, cast the line, and reel it in. He made a few more casts while she watched (and while her three other brothers came down to the rocky beaches with their lunches to watch) and had her repeat back to him the procedure he had demonstrated to her. And then it was her turn.

The bait was slippery, slimy, and smelly. She almost skewered her fingers twice when she baited the hook. But she stuck with it and prepared to make her first cast.

Girls didn't fish. They were sissies and cry-babies and too wimpy to fish. Kushina, however, was not a sissy or a cry-baby—she wasn't too wimpy to fish and she was going to prove it.

Okay, here I go!

…Her cast was clumsy, being her first one after all. She swung far too wide and her line nearly hooked one of her watching brothers who had to dive out of the way, sacrificing their sandwiches in the process. But she did get it into the water and a good distance from the shore too.

Success!

"Watch where you swing that thing!" Arashi griped from his seat on a nearby boulder.

"Yeah!" Ichi-Tora and Ni-Tora agreed in their creepy identical twin stereo.

"Shut up you whiners!" Kushina shouted back. She looked up at her oldest brother hopefully. "I did good, right?"

"You didn't hook anybody and you got it into the water so…yeah." He awkwardly patted her on the head. "Your cast needs a lot of work though. Now reel it in."

"'Kay!"

She didn't expect to catch anything on her first try, and she didn't, but when the hook came out of the water…

"…Salami?" Kenshin frowned as he eyed the piece of lunchmeat that dangled from the end of the line.

"Hey…that's from my sandwich!" Ichi-Tora cried indignantly as he studied his ruined lunch.

"Yeah, that's from his sandwich!" Ni-Tora agreed just as indignantly as his elder twin.

Arashi just started laughing like a hyena.

"Practice," Kenshin advised. "Practice a lot."

Kushina frowned at the salami dangling from the rod, and then giggled.

"Okay!"

I'll practice until I'm the best!


2 – Catch your first pokémon!

She cast the line again and slowly reeled it in while she sat on a fallen log and waited for a bite. Crusher, her new totodile, sat beside her and cheerfully plucked the petals off some wildflower he'd found. Slasher the kabuto crouched near her feet and did an impressive impression of a river rock.

I'll show them, she thought, glaring at the red and white bobber attached to her line. They'll see…one day.

Kushina Uzumaki was through with her family: her father, her brothers, her Aunt Asuka, her cousin Akane—all of them! She didn't need them. She'd gone to a new country all by herself and she was going to find all new friends and have lots of great adventures. It was going to be great!

"I don't need to go to any stupid girly school," she muttered under her breath as she cast her line again. "There's nothing wrong with me. I'm fine just the way that I am!"

She checked her hook to make sure that there was still enough bait on it and then cast it out again.

"'Gyarados?'" She mockingly deepened her voice in a purposefully bad impersonation of her brother's. "'Shouldn't you want to raise a milotic? Gyarados is a man's monster.'" The girl curled her lip into a snarl. "Stupid Arashi-nii-san. I can have a gyarados if I want one—and I'm going to get one!"

The bobber wiggled in the water—once, twice, and then it dipped under the surface.

"Hah!"

Grinning wildly, Kushina eagerly struggled with the creature on the other end of the line. She'd been fishing for hours and hooked a few things previously, but none of them had been what she'd wanted. Perhaps this time was the charm!

With one final pull on her good rod—

"Magikarp," she said to herself as she studied the flopping fish-out-of-water. Then she saw the color of its fleshy whiskers and smiled. "Yatta! A female! Slasher, use absorb!"

This was what she'd been seeking. Since magikarp couldn't be bred to know "egg moves" there was no real need to acquire a female. In fact, females were considered inferior as males (once evolved into gyarados) could pass on some powerful moves to other breeding-compatible species. And male-anything was always seen as fiercer and tougher than any female, so taming a male gyarados was an impressive and macho feat.

The magikarp tried to fend off the absorb attack with splash…to no avail.

"Leer and scratch!" Kushina commanded, while Crusher bounced excitedly at her side.

Her kabuto obeyed and soon the white-whiskered fish was close to knocked-out.

"Alright!" the girl cheered and whipped a pokéball at her target.

The red and white ball wiggled a bit and the red light quickly went out, signaling a successful capture.

"Gotcha!" Kushina picked up the pokéball and grinned fiercely at her prize. "We'll show them all how tough and awesome girls are…Tsunami!"


3 – Fish for dinner!

"Are you sure we're out of food?"

Minato grimaced and fixed the red-haired tomboy with a gloomy stare.

"Yes, I am sure that we are out of food."

They were out in the wilds, miles from any pokémon center, pokémart, restaurant, or any other sort of civilization…and they were out of food.

"Aw crap," Kushina muttered.

Minato mentally agreed.

It was lunch time and they were starving. Their breakfast had been light because they knew that they were low on food, but they hadn't realized how low. Now there was nothing left…except pokémon food, but that didn't taste all that great (and it was for their pokémon).

"Maybe…we could find some berries?" he suggested while his stomach growled.

The girl wrinkled her nose. "You think any berries are ripe right now?"

"Well…" They had seen some berries here and there for days, but they'd all been small and green and thoroughly unripe. "…Maybe?"

"Heh," she snorted. "Then why don't you go find some."

And then she walked off with her fishing rod.

She's going fishing now?

"Fine, whatever," he muttered and started on his search.

Unfortunately, his efforts were all in vain. No matter where he looked, he found nothing ripe and edible. All he did find was firewood.

So he started a campfire and waited while his stomach continually complained about being empty.

"You're a good cook right?" the girl asked from somewhere behind him after what felt like hours of waiting.

"I can cook," he replied and turned—

Fish—not fish pokémon, just ordinary fish—dangled dangerously close to his head. They were fat catfish strung together by the mouth on a string. Their bulging eyes and gaping mouths were both creepy and disgusting.

"Ee-yah!"

"What?" the Uzumaki girl sniffed. "They're just fish. You can cook them, right?"

"You know," he gulped and said very quietly, "I don't think I'm that hungry anymore…"

"Well I am! I'll gut 'em, you cook 'em!"

Minato stared as the girl pulled out her little pocket knife, which was far too small for the job, and prepared to crudely gut the first fish.

Oh gross…


4 – Catch a fallen star!

Away from the big cities, the stars were always so much brighter. Kushina smiled up at them as she lay on the sand under the moderate light of a half-moon. Not far away, her blond friend sat with his ponyta, watching the dark surf brush against the sand.

"What a nice night," she sighed, wriggling deeper into the sand.

Crusher made a gurgling growl of agreement as the totodile cuddled closer to her side.

The night was clear; not a cloud in the sky. She tried to make pictures out of the stars, but there were so many that she kept losing track of what she was looking at. That didn't bother her though. It was all just for fun.

I wonder if mom is up there peeking down at me… Namikaze says that his mom's gone. Are his mom and my mom friends?

A flicker—a thin trail of light—caught her attention and she sat straight up.

"A shooting star," she heard the boy remark. "You don't see those too often."

Kushina stared in the direction that the star had vanished into—the sea.

It's a sign.

She got up and dug her fishing rod out of her bag.

"What are you doing?"

"What's it look like?" the tomboy replied as she marched down to the water's edge.

Kicking off her shoes, she stepped into the reach of the gentle waves and cast out her line. It was like the falling star had called her to fish. So she would fish.

Her line went taut within seconds. The struggle was brief, but intense. The line zigzagged back and forth wildly in the dark water. For a moment she almost feared that the line would snap—

SPLASH!

A dark shape exploded out of the water and flew over her left shoulder—

SPLAT!

"Mmmph!"

Kushina blinked and peeked behind her at the blond-haired boy. The dark shape, which had a flashing red orb at its center, had attached itself to his face. As he flailed and stumbled backwards, the light cast by his ponyta's burning mane and tail revealed it to be an enormous tan starfish which was clinging tightly to his head.

"Oh my god!" she squeaked, straining to keep from exploding into laughter. "There's a staryu on your head!"

"Mmm Mmmph!"

Giggling and gasping, she hurried over to peel the starfish monster off his head so that he could breathe.

"Gah!" he choked when the staryu came free and flopped back on the sand with his blue eyes distinctly swirly. "Air!"

"What?" Kushina laughed. "I thought you wanted to be a star!"

"Not…like that," he wheezed.

"Hee hee hee!" the tomboy grinned as she eyed the staryu, which had hopped up on two of its limbs and had fallen into something that resembled a fighting stance. "I like you. C'mon Crusher, let's keep it! Bite!"


5 – Win a prize!

Minato wobbled a bit as he followed Kushina off the roller coaster. Usually he didn't mind the rides, but this one was so old and rickety he was amazed that it hadn't crashed and killed them all. Kushina seemed wholly unaffected by the rough ride and he was a bit jealous.

"That wasn't too bad," the red-haired girl said. "I wish they had more than one roller coaster here, though."

"Well, traveling carnivals can only have so many rides," he shrugged. And thank god!

"I suppose so," Kushina sighed, pouting slightly.

They were in Waterfall County—a land so named because of its many waterfalls. While traveling to the Hundred Falls (a very popular tourist attraction) they'd come across a traveling carnival. Kushina had really wanted to go and since it hadn't seemed too seedy Minato had reluctantly agreed.

"So," he jammed his hands into his pockets, "what do you want to do now?"

"Hmm…" Kushina tapped at her chin for a moment before starting off in another direction. "I think I saw something over here."

"When did you see something over here?" he wondered as they headed for a part of the carnival behind the roller coaster that they hadn't explored yet.

"When we were riding the 'coaster," she replied and smirked over her shoulder at him. "I kept my eyes open, unlike some people."

Minato reddened a bit in embarrassment.

What Kushina had seen turned out to be a fishing game. It was a rather large pool filled with magikarp and lined with cheap old rods. Prizes were handed out according to the colored bands tied around the tails of the wimpy fish monsters—blue bands won the cheapest prizes, yellow bands won the mid-level prizes, and black bands won the best of the prizes. It was a simple game, and didn't look rigged.

"You want to try this game, huh?" he muttered. Why am I not surprised?

"Of course," she smiled. "Why don't you go first? Anyone can use an old rod, even you."

He scowled a bit at her before handing over some money and taking one of the cheap rods to fish in the pool. It didn't take long to get a bite. And it wasn't hard at all to pull his catch out of the water.

It had a yellow band around its tail.

"Ah a yellow fish!" one of the carnies who ran the game cried with a grin. "Good catch kid!" The scruffy, tattooed man (who at least had all his teeth) threw the magikarp back, took the rod from Minato's hands, and led him off to claim his prize. "Yellow prizes are pretty good!"

The prizes were kept in a small booth beside the fishing pond in color-coded bins. The cheap blue prizes were all small plush magikarp dolls. The yellow bin had better quality plush dolls of a wider variety of pokémon. And the black bin had the best dolls—lots of stuffed pikachu, clefairy, shroomish, togepi, and other popular cute pokémon.

"Here you go, kid!" the carnie chuckled as he steered Minato to the yellow bin. "Pick out a nice prize to give your girlfriend!"

"Girlfriend?!" Minato sputtered, wincing when his voice broke on the word. Stupid puberty—I hate being sixteen…

"Hahah!" the man laughed. "No need to be shy! She's cute."

Creep, the blond teen thought as he eyed the carnie warily while disinterestedly pawing through the pokémon dolls. What's he doing looking at teenage girls?

He didn't bother disputing the man's wrongful assumption that Kushina was his girlfriend. It seemed to be happening more and more recently, and whenever Kushina overheard someone making that mistake she would pretend to be his girlfriend. If he dared say that she wasn't his girlfriend, she would dramatically ask: "Don't you love me anymore, Mina-chan?"

It just wasn't worth the trouble.

Just as he settled on claiming a poliwhirl doll as his prize a shocked gasp rippled around the fishing pool.

"She caught the feebas!"

Minato blinked and turned to find that Kushina was the source of all the fuss. She'd taken her own turn at fishing and had somehow fished up a feebas instead of a magikarp. This was apparently a feat of great significance.

"Damn," the carnie standing by Minato muttered. "That broke the six month streak."

"The what?" Minato asked.

"There's only one feebas in the pool," the carnie said, "and if you catch it, you get a special secret prize. It's been six months since someone hooked the feebas and we were hoping that it would hold off for a full year. Oh well…you want the poliwhirl doll?"

"Huh?" Minato glanced down at the toy in his hand. "Oh yeah, I want this one."

"Good, now scram," the tattooed carnie grunted. "I need to get your girlfriend's prize."

Minato took the poliwhirl doll and stepped away from the prize booth while the carnie disappeared behind the colored bins. The feebas that Kushina had hooked wasn't thrown back in the pool, but carried to a separate tank (it seemed that there was only one "special secret" prize). A teenage carnie led Kushina over to the prize booth—eyeing her chest a lot more than Minato liked—as the older carnie returned with a cardboard box.

"So, what do I get?" the red-head asked with curious excitement.

"You get," the senior carnie said dramatically, removing an object from the box and presenting it to her, "the special secret prize: a pokémon egg!"

It did appear to be a pokémon egg. It was brown with a tan zigzag strip wrapped around its middle. A small audience had gathered to see what the prize was and upon seeing the egg there were many jealous whispers that the egg was plastic, a painted magikarp egg, or even a painted ostrich egg.

"Whoa!" Kushina grinned and accepted the egg from the tattooed man. She hefted the egg a bit to get a feel for its weight and scratched at the shell with a fingernail to see if it had been painted. "Seems authentic to me! Where do you get pokémon eggs to give away as prizes?"

"From the Pokémon Theatre Troupe," the older carnie explained. "They have a cast of different pokémon who sometimes get a bit too friendly with each other…if you know what I mean. Their next show is in a half an hour if you want to catch it; it's very good."

"Yeah," the carnie teen nodded eagerly. "They train their pokémon to lip-synch so it looks like they can talk!"

"Cool." The girl tucked the egg under her arm and turned to Minato. "Let's go find that show."

Minato nodded in agreement and followed his tomboy companion as she hurried off in search of this intriguing carnival act. As they walked, he looked at her two-tone brown egg. It made him think of something.

"Hey, this sort of reminds me of this class project I heard about from some of the older kids who didn't undertake a pokémon journey. They would pair up and pretend that a chicken egg or a bag of flour was a baby and they'd take care of it like it was real and get graded on it." Minato laughed a bit. "Only in this situation, the egg will hatch into some kind of pokémon that will think you're its mother."

That stopped the Uzumaki girl short and she studied her egg with a wary expression. "It'll think I'm its mother?"

"Well, yeah," Minato nodded. "Pokémon that hatch from eggs are always more loyal because they view their trainers as their parents."

Kushina stared down at the egg, chewing her lip and looking almost afraid of the unborn monster, before abruptly shoving the egg into his chest and stealing away his poliwhirl doll. "You carry it; I'll probably just drop it."

Minato blinked as he clutched the egg to his chest and watched the teen girl stride off into the carnival crowd, leaving him to almost jog to catch up with her.

Did I say something wrong?


6 – Find a future fan (or two)!

Kushina was annoyed to the extreme…so to avoid bloodshed, she was going fishing.

Stupid, snobby, smarty-pants, punk! she fumed as she stormed towards a nearby pond. Bratty little scarf-face! The booger doesn't deserve a totodile!

Ever since Minato had stumbled over the silver-haired boy, Kakashi, she'd been in an increasingly bad mood. The little brat looked down on her, ignored her and her advice, and questioned her skill and sanity. And worse, the snot did his best to hog Minato's attention under the guise of "learning from his sempai".

"Dumb scarecrow kid," she fumed under her breath. "I saw Minato first—he's mine!" She paused and shook her head. "That…that didn't come out right…"

Running her hand through her hair (which was just past her shoulders now and she was debating about whether or not to cut it) she continued on to the pond. It was a rather small pond, and there probably wasn't anything beyond magikarp in it, but that didn't matter to her. Going through the motions of fishing was all that she needed.

"Well how did it get in the lake?!"

"Um…"

Kushina crested a small hill and looked curiously down at a pair of kids—a girl and a boy—around Kakashi's age. The girl had short brown hair, and she was either wearing stripes of purple face paint on her cheeks, or she had some weird tattoo tradition in her family, like those Inuzuka people. The boy had spiky black hair and the red and white fan symbol stitched on the back of his dark blue jacket that she had learned to associate with the sprawling Uchiha clan.

"…It was an accident?" the boy said sheepishly.

The Uzumaki teen glanced at the pond and found an open book floating pages down in the middle of the water.

"An accident?!" the girl sputtered, looking rather angry.

The boy fidgeted with a pair of bright orange ski goggles. "Um, yeah?"

Now the girl definitely looked angry as she stared the boy down.

Interesting, Kushina mused as she crept closer, readying her good rod. Very interesting…

"You were reading it, weren't you!" the girl accused, her purple-striped cheeks darkened. "You were reading my diary!"

Oh-ho! Kushina mentally cackled. Oh no he didn't!

"I…I…I'm sorry!" the boy cried. "You never let me look at that book and I got curious so I looked at it! I didn't know it was your diary! Then you came up behind me and startled me and I panicked so I threw it in the lake!" He fell to his knees, head bowed and hands clasped before him. "I'm sorry Rin! I'll buy you a new one! Forgive me!"

Rin just glared at him. "Obito…"

Kushina snickered as she carefully aimed her pole. "You kids are funny!"

The two kids squeaked and jumped around to face her.

"Wah, who're you?!" Obito sputtered.

Instead of answering, Kushina cast her line out into the pond. She slowly reeled the line back in, managing to hook the soggy floating book with the hook. With great care she eased it in to the shore and removed it from the water.

"It looks ruined to me," she sighed upon seeing the soaked pages. "Too bad."

"Uh…thanks," Rin swallowed, delicately taking her dripping little book.

"My name's Kushina, by the way," she grinned cheerfully. "I've heard your names already."

The girl looked sadly upon her destroyed journal. "Nice to meet you…"

"Nice to meet you," Obito smiled. "That was really cool…that thing that you did with your rod."

"Thank you!" Kushina leaned down to whisper to the boy. "You should throw in some chocolates or flowers with that new diary you're going to buy her…and never snoop into her stuff again."

Obito nodded vigorously. "Yes ma'am!"

Kushina made a face. "I'm not quite old enough to be a 'ma'am' thank you very much."

"Okay," the boy hurriedly agreed.

The Uzumaki studied the two kids with interest. "So…you kids just started out? Just the two of you?"

"Yes," Rin nodded, squeezing all the excess water out of her book before putting it into her bag. "We wanted Kakashi-kun to come with us, but he didn't want to."

"Kakashi?" Kushina's ears pricked at the name.

"Yeah, Kakashi Hatake," Obito huffed. "He thinks he's too cool for us, or anybody. He set off all on his own with a totodile."

"Silver hair and a scarf?" the red-head asked.

"Mm-hm," the black-haired boy nodded. "Have…you seen him?"

"You've seen Kakashi-kun?" the brown-haired girl asked, suddenly over her grief of her diary.

"Yes, I know exactly where he is," Kushina informed them, fighting down a grin. "If you'll follow me, I can take you to him."

Both kids had their bags and were ready to go in half a minute at the most. The teenage girl shouldered her rod and headed back the way that she had come. It seemed that she didn't have to fish after all to boost her sour mood.

In no time at all, they were at the clearing where Minato was discussing strategy with his stiff little protégé.

"Hey, Kakashi!" Obito shouted.

"Kakashi-kun!" Rin waved a tad shyly.

Kakashi snapped his head over to stare at them with a hint of horror.

Kushina cheerily strolled over to Minato and gave him a pleading look. "I found these little cute kids who know Kakashi and need a little guidance. Can we keep them?"

"If they want to come along, I don't see why not," the blond teen smiled. "The more the merrier, right?"

"My thoughts exactly," Kushina firmly agreed, and smirked at Kakashi's increasingly unhappy look.

I say this to you, Kakashi: Mwahahaha!


7 – Protect your child!

Fishing was sort of like meditation, especially when she was out to catch anything. When she just wanted to burn time and not have to think about her problems, she'd just go to the lake and cast her line over and over and over. With her mind totally focused on the repetitive simplistic task there was no room for thoughts of how stupid she was and all the mistakes that she'd made and how much she missed him…

With Crusher entertaining Naruto, Kushina could spend hours fishing for nothing in Lake End without worry.

As she reeled in the line, the crank handle rattled and stuck. Kushina frowned and stared at the spool of line before sighing deeply. After years of use the good rod finally seemed to have kicked the bucket. If she wanted to fish again, she'd either have to buy a whole new rod or order some replacement parts.

Grumbling under her breath she hand-wound the rest of the line to the spool and tied the hook to the pole so that the sharp bit of metal wouldn't swing around and hook anything or anyone. With the busted rod rendered harmless, she turned to find her toddler son and see what he was up to. What she saw was Crusher dozing by the side of her house…alone.

"Naruto?" she called out, scanning the shores of the lake and her backyard. "Naruto, where are you?"

No giggles or the appearance of bright blond hair answered her call.

Feeling her anxiety skyrocket, Kushina marched over to her snoozing feraligatr and kicked his scaly hide.

"Crusher! Where did Naruto go?"

The massive reptile started awake and looked around for his little charge with no success.

"You were supposed to be watching him!" Kushina scolded, waving her broken rod at the giant crocodile. "Help me find him!" She turned back to the lake and called out: "Slasher! Uzu-chan! Hoshi!"

The lake's surface rippled before her kabutops, her vaporeon, and her starmie burst out of the depths and hurried over to her side.

"Naruto is missing!" she informed them. "Spread out, find him, bring him back here, and give a signal to the rest that he's been found. Go!"

Her four pokémon each picked and direction and dashed away to do as she had ordered, and Kushina hurried of too, unable to just sit back and wait. Naruto was far too small to be off on his own where she couldn't see him. He was the perfect size to be carried off by some wild pokémon—perhaps small enough to be eaten.

"Naruto!" she yelled. "Naruto, where are you?!"

The land around the lake and her home was like most of Fire Country: heavily wooded. The trees seemed to suck in her voice, keeping it from carrying to wherever Naruto had disappeared to. Normally she loved the dense trees because it was so different from the barren sea cliffs of her own childhood, but right now she hated them as they seemed to have swallowed her tiny son whole.

"Naruto?"

A child's giggle caught her ear and she immediately homed in on the sound.

"Naruto, are you over there?"

The giggles suddenly turned into a bloodcurdling scream.

"Naruto!"

She burst through a clump of bushes to find her little boy sitting on the dirt, screaming and crying with blood on his round little cheeks and a hissing meowth crouched nearby, ready to attack again.

"Bad kitty!" Kushina roared, swinging her damaged good rod like a sword. "Go away!"

Her rod made a hissing sound as it cut through the air and smacked the meowth several times, driving it speedily away.

"Mama!" Naruto sobbed, reaching for her with dirty, bloody little hands. "Mama!"

"Naruto!" She tossed her fishing pole aside and knelt down in front of him. "What happened?"

"I jus' wanted ta give da kitty a hug!" the little boy wailed as blood ran down his cheeks and dripped off his chin.

"Oh…" She gulped and wiped some of the blood from his face to reveal three deep scratches on each cheek. "Oh Naru-chan."

"Mama!" the child sniffled. "Owie!"

"I know," she swallowed, fighting down panic because her baby was bleeding. "Come on, let's go home."

Kushina scooped up her weeping son and hurried home, hounded by guilt.

I'm a horrible mother…


8 – Teach your son to fish!

"Mommy?"

Kushina looked up from weeding around the berry bushes to see her six-year-old son standing anxiously by, rubbing nervously at one of his scarred cheeks.

"Yes?"

"Could you teach me how to fish?" he asked hopefully.

"Sure," she smiled, "just let me finish weeding."

"'Kay!"

While she worked, she watched her boy fidget from the corner of her eye and struggled not to smile. He'd asked her to teach him a few times before when he'd been much younger and she'd had to say no to him. It had been so long since he'd last asked that she had been worried that he wasn't interested in it anymore.

"Alright," she said at last as she peeled off her gardening gloves. "You take these weeds to the compost heap and I'll get the rod ready, okay?"

"Yeah!" Naruto cheered.

The red-haired woman smiled and gathered her good rod and fishing supplies and headed out to her favorite fishing spot and prepared her line. Naruto caught up to her a few minutes later with grubby hands. She made him rinse his little hands in the lake water before starting the lesson.

"Now, I'll show you how to do it a couple of times, and then it'll be your turn," Kushina said. "So pay attention."

The elder Uzumaki carefully demonstrated the basic technique of casting out the line and reeling it back in, explaining each and each little step. Naruto watched intently, his mouth frowning in great concentration. After three casts, Kushina held out the rod for her son to take.

"Go for it, Naru-chan!"

Naruto pouted a bit—he was getting old enough that the childish nickname was starting to irritate him—and took the fishing pole into his hands. He gripped it the way that he'd been shown, stood the way that he'd been told to, flipped the lever to unlock the line and keep his finger on the spool so that the hook didn't drop to the dirt, and then did his best to mimic her casting motion. The hook went flying out into the lake…shortly followed by the rest of the rod.

Her son stared down at his empty hands in horror and sheepishly squeaked: "…Oops."

Kushina watched as Crusher surfaced with the thrown rod in his claws and tried not to laugh as the feraligatr wadded towards shore.

Naruto, you have your father's hands…


9 – Save a life!

"Damn it," Naruto muttered, shaking out his singed sleeve after attaching Demon's pokéball to his capsule belt. "If he didn't look so cool, I would've looked for a nicer wild pokémon to start with. Maybe…I could've used some of Mom's monsters to help me catch something else."

He hadn't been on the road for half a day and already he was struggling not to despair. His vulpix—a rare shining creature—hated his guts and so far had tried to set him on fire five times, and run away from him almost ten times. He'd tried to get Demon to attack a wild caterpie so that he could capture it, but the golden fire fox had used roar on it, driving the monster caterpillar away.

This sucks, Naruto pouted as he followed the path towards the curve of a fast-flowing stream. I wish the Professor had ordered an extra starting pokémon, just for kicks. An eevee, a pikachu, even a pichu would be better than this…

The blond-haired boy paused at the side of the stream and looked around. This was the furthest he'd ever walked from home (bus rides to other towns to shop didn't count) and there was still a long way to go. But he doubted that it was long enough to find a way to tame his wild fox.

Scowling, he kicked a pebble into the stream and stared into the rushing water.

I will make this work somehow! I will find a way! I'm not giving up! Not ever!

But for all his determination he still couldn't see a solution to his six-tailed problem.

This really sucks—

A high-pitched squeal from downstream immediately stole his attention. Turning, he thought he glimpsed something pale yellow several yards away. Attention grabbed, Naruto abandoned the trail and fought his way through the thick undergrowth on the stream banks to investigate.

"Hello?"

"Piii-urgle!"

"That doesn't sound good," he muttered as he hopped over a fallen log. It sounds like someone's drowning.

Naruto ran a little further until the stream forked. The near fork blocked his path to the far fork. And the far fork was where the yellow thing had been wash to.

It was a small yellow pokémon that he couldn't identify because water kept running over it, keeping it mostly hidden from view. The creature was clinging to a rock in the middle of the stream fork. Naruto looked around, but could see no way to get any closer to the stranded creature.

That thing's gonna drown, the boy worried. It looks too deep here to wade out there… Demon's no help, even if he listened; he's a fire-type… If I had a rope, or even just a string—ah-hah!

The Uzumaki boy threw off his backpack and dug the beat-up good rod that his mother had given him. Hurriedly unfolding it, he dug his dinky pocket knife out of a little zipper pocket in the bag and cut the hook from the line, leaving the weights and the bobber untouched. And then he made a cast, aiming right at the yellow thing.

"Grab on to the line!" he cried. "I'll pull you out!"

The yellow thing let go of the rock and managed to catch hold of the nearly invisible fishing line. Naruto immediately started cranking with all his might. It was hard pulling even a small creature through the water against the current. And worse, the force of the water kept the little pokémon under the surface the whole way to the stream bank.

"Gotcha!" he exclaimed as he finally plucked the monster from the water and gently deposited it on the ground.

It was a little baby pichu; cold, wet, and gasping for air.

"Hey, you okay?" Naruto asked as he pulled a t-shirt out of his bag and used it as a towel on the tiny electric monster, careful not to be too rough and get a zap.

The pichu wheezed and sagged into the shirt-towel, exhausted from its ordeal.

Leaving the baby pokémon to recover, Naruto repaired his line. Once the hook was reattached, he put the pole away. The he dug an oran berry out and offered it to the pichu as he retrieved his damp shirt from it.

"There you go," he grinned, "you should run on home now."

The yellow creature clutched the large blue berry to its chest and gaped at him.

"What?" Naruto blinked and pointed to himself. "You want to come with me?"

The pichu eagerly wagged its little crooked black tail and squeaked in delight at the idea.

"Really?" the boy said in disbelief.

It nodded vigorously.

"Well, okay!" Grinning, Naruto took an empty pokéball from his bag. "Come on then, let's go on an adventure!"

With a happy cry, the pichu leapt into the sphere, taking the berry with it.

"Alright!" the boy cheered, pumping his fist. Things are looking up!


10 – Catch a heart!

Kushina was cleaning up after baking a batch of pokémon treats when a tap at the window distracted her. Kage the honchkrow was on the other side of the glass with a small bag hanging around his neck. The red-haired woman immediately headed outside to see what the bird had brought her.

"Hi, Kage!" She eyed the bag with intense curiosity. "You have something for me?"

The bird shrugged the bag over and over it to her with his beak.

"Thank you," she smiled and eagerly dumped the contents into her hand.

It turned out to be a pokéball encased in a ball capsule. The outer capsule had what looked like pink bubble seals affixed to it. Kushina was thoroughly baffled.

Neither she nor Minato had ever used seals. Ball capsules and seals were used for dramatic entrances in contests, and by excessively flashy trainers. So what on earth was he up to?

"Interesting," Kushina murmured and pressed the button on the ball, unleashing its contents. "What do we have in here?"

There was a flash of light, and then a cloud of holographic pink bubbles filled the air. The bubbles lingered for about a minute before fading away. And the pokémon turned out to be…

"…A luvdisc?"

Kushina stared at the pink, heart-shaped fish. The luvdisc cheerfully stared back at her. There was a letter held in its little beak-like mouth.

"Ooo-kay." She frowned and tentatively took the envelope from the fish pokémon. "What are you up to, Minato?"

She opened the envelope and read the letter inside.

Then she read the letter again.

And then she read it again.

"Well?"

Kushina yelped and spun around to find Minato standing not three feet behind her, watching her with equal parts amusement and anxiety and fidgeting with the super rod that he'd picked up for that charity fishing event that she'd been so envious of. She clutched the letter to her chest, trying to keep her heart from busting through her ribs and running away. Her legs felt like jelly but she managed to stay standing somehow.

"This…this is so corny!" she managed to squeak.

Minato chuckled weakly. "It was the best that I could come up with. My other ideas were much worse."

"Hah ha…" She swallowed hard and crumpled the letter further. "You-you mean it?"

"Yeah." He sheepishly rubbed at the back of his head. "I'm sorry that there's no ring. I couldn't find one that I thought you'd like so—"

"It's fine." She fingered the heart scale necklace. "It's fine."

Silence fell so thickly that not even the watching pokémon dared make a sound to break it.

"…So?" he prompted nervously, unable to take the wait any longer.

Kushina forced her jelly-legs to move and threw herself at him.

"Yes," she whispered into his chest, wondering why on earth she was crying—she was so happy, not sad. "Yes, you dorky pretty-boy, yes…"